There are no mistakes, no missteps. Life’s events only become calamities if we allow them to become so. If you look at challenges as a normal part of life, they can actually be the driving force of change.
Well, first of all, I would ask you to consider . . . what is stress? If I gave you an empty bucket and told you to go outside and fill that bucket full of stress and bring it back to me…..could you do that?
The answer is no. Stress isn’t tangible; you can’t feel it or touch it. You can’t see it. It’s a creation in our mind, purely illusory.
I think it was Marshall McLuhan who once said, “Our mind is like a magazine with a new edition every four seconds.” It has been suggested that each day, we have over 100,000 thoughts cross our mind. Most of them are recurrent, a constant flurry of negative, repetitive, and worrying thoughts which are our own creation. They get us nowhere. We can’t blame them on anyone else; no one forces us to think the way we do or puts those thought in our mind. We have simply trained ourselves to think the way we do.
Most of us create our own hell. Our unhappiness is generally a reaction to some outside force. In other words, we allow ourselves to become a victim of a circumstance. Our response is to fret and worry. What we don’t appreciate though, is that worrying is a total waste of time. If you have control over a situation, you shouldn’t have to worry about it. And if you don’t have control over a situation, worrying about it isn’t going to get you that control.
What generally happens is that we tend to worry ourselves sick. . . literally! Chronic stress has been tied to almost every major illness known to man. If not as the inciting cause, at the very least an exacerbating factor in the progression of heart disease, strokes, ulcers and even cancer. The saddest thing is that it is self-inflicted and can result in some form of mental illness. In fact, 13% of Americans have some form of mental illness. Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University found that 20% of young Americans have been diagnosed with a personality disorder that interferes with their everyday life.
There are prescribed pharmaceuticals millions of people take to treat stress and anxiety disorders, but the danger is that by taking drugs to “cure” our problem, we end up not going through the experience, instead we go around it.
So the key is that we must free ourselves from the enslavement of the mind. We must learn to liberate our consciousness from destructive thoughts. The incessant mental chaos that percolates through our minds prevents us from discovering our own inner peace. Mark Twain once said: “I’ve had thousands of problems in my life, most of them never actually happened.”
Several years ago, I was sharing an afternoon with my daughter, Laila. Working at a café was a young lady with Down’s syndrome. As she bused tables, she approached us, introducing herself as Suzie and asked if we needed anything. I was very impressed by her sweet disposition. Despite what many would consider a somewhat tragic life, this young woman appeared to be happy and at peace, having found her niche.
It was then that Laila made one of the most profound statements I think I have ever heard. She said: “Daddy, why can’t we all think like Suzie? She probably doesn’t waste any energy fretting about al Qaeda and I am certain she doesn’t worry about the stupid things that clutter my mind. I bet she doesn’t judge other people and probably doesn’t feel animosity toward anyone.”
Why can’t think we all think like Suzie? Why can’t we have the same pure and innocent thoughts of a Down’s syndrome child? Why can’t we express unconditional love to everyone with whom we come in contact? Why can’t we live a stress-free life?
The answer is quite simple . . . we can!
I am the greatest obstacle to finding peace. I often get in my own way. While I’m off looking for peace out there somewhere, I lose sight of it. The Buddha once said: “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” It is only our search for it that prevents us from finding it.
Most of us spend a lifetime trying to find peace. Especially in our Western society, we tend to seek gratification through the acquisition of things — bigger houses, nicer cars, and a larger portfolio, thinking that having those will fulfill us and offer us peace.
Allow me to make a distinction here. Being happy and being at peace are not necessarily interchangeable nor are they mutually exclusive. I’ll give you an example. In the midst of the storm in which I currently find myself, there are many moments of sadness, times of great unhappiness. But for the most part, I find myself consistently at peace. This is often a hard concept for many to comprehend. How can one be at peace yet not be happy? Conversely, there are many who are quite happy but not at all at peace.
The following parable offers a marvelous metaphor that can perhaps explain this better than I. There’s the story of a young boy who would wander off by himself into the forest. One day his father’s curiosity couldn’t be contained and he asked his young son what he does when he walks alone in the forest.
His son replied: “Daddy, I go into the forest to find God.”
The father pondered this for a moment and said: “My son, you don’t have to go into the forest to find God . . . he is the same everywhere.”
“He is the same everywhere,” explained the little boy, “but I’m not.”
The message is this story is that in order to find the peace of God, we must direct our search inwardly. From A Course in Miracles: “peace is an attribute within you; you cannot find it outside of you.” The doorway to peace always opens inward. It is the light that you will discover residing at the core of your being that you will use to illuminate the world outside of you.
Many falsely believe that we are human beings who might encounter a few spiritual experiences. The truth is quite the opposite; we are spiritual beings having only a temporary human experience. In this context, your spirituality is never separate from you — it is you.
Generally speaking, in today’s world, our souls are vastly undernourished. This is due to our misguided efforts with too much time, energy and attention being placed on attending to the physical world and its encumbrances. Not to minimize the need to provide financial security, food and shelter for our self and our loved ones, the balance requires a mediation of the physical and spiritual planes. Sadly what often occurs is that we place our spiritual yearnings and thirst for truth and knowledge on hold, relegating them to a lower priority level.
When we decide to embark on the spiritual path, regardless of how long or difficult it may be, the journey always begins with the first step, which involves diverting oneself from the superficial current of life.
The spirit is like the vast ocean. A single droplet of the ocean caught in the turbulence of a breaking wave crashing against a bolder on the beach is directed upward into the atmosphere where surrounded by air it evaporates. Sooner or later that droplet will coalesce with others in the same phase, condense and rejoin the ocean. This is precisely what occurs when one’s spirit leaves the Source of everything. It transforms and becomes a spiritual being having but a human ego-situated experience.
Rather than retaining that differentiation, it eventually rejoins the sea of spirit, returning to the ocean of Source, the collective soul of the universe. In truth, it is individuated and yet at the same time, it is not. The individual and all of the aggregates exist simultaneously without conflict. We all are separate yet we really are not.
One of the consistent tenants that most organized religions share is the desire and goal to return to oneness with God.
To initiate the process of communing with your authentic, spiritual self, you must first thaw your frozen patterns, letting go of attachments to the past. Dr. Wayne Dyer says: “Have a mind that is open to everything, attached to nothing.” This is not meant to imply that you should accept everything you hear as Gospel, rather he suggests that at the very least, contemplate the possibility of it being the truth. Your past attachments have not been for naught, however. In fact each of your past experiences have prepared you, primed you for the journey that lies before you. They have brought you to the pinnacle on which you stand at this moment. They have delivered you to this place where your transcendent metamorphosis is about to unfold.
Climbing your spiritual mountain may not be the easiest of tasks. The journey may lead you through the most desolate of terrain. You may be forced to cross the deepest of crevasses; you will likely climb to heights where there is barely enough air to sustain you. If you listen to the silence and to the inner voice that beckons you, your eyes will open for the first time, allowing you to truly see where it is you are going.
It will likely require the utmost perseverance. Impatience actually works to our detriment. When faced with challenges such as these, our response is generally as if we were suddenly thrust into a totally darkened room. We tend to frantically attempt escaping the darkness regardless of how blinded we are by it. As such we end up getting even more lost in the darkness.
On the other hand, through the practice of patience, by allowing our eyes to slowly adjust to the darkness enables us to see the terrain in a much different light, ultimately finding our way out of the quagmire.
In due time, by surrendering to the magnetism of this spiritual space, awakening will unfold. It will be like the aperture of a camera opening as wide as it can, allowing the brilliant illumination of the sun to flow unimpeded into its innermost recesses. The Light will impregnate the film of your life with a beautiful vision of the plan the Universe has in store for you. It is when our spiritual eyes open — that Heaven will present itself with crystal clarity.
Terry explains that the greatest obstacle to overcome while in search for peace is our self. One must search inwardly for peace as that is where it resides.