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Author Archive

Struggle

To struggle is part of the human condition.    Struggle is defined as, “making a strenuous effort against opposition; to proceed with difficulty or great effort.”  Struggle is an inherent part of daily living;  struggles can be little or large; prolonged or short; necessary or not necessary.

From Zen comes the admonition to not push the river.  There are circumstances wherein the more we struggle the less we succeed.  When no matter that putting forth our  best and most diligent effort, we are not moving forward, or what little forward movement there may be is simply not worth all the effort and energy we are expending.  When you feel that you are pushing the river, stand back for a moment and assess the circumstances.  Consult your ‘objective self’, examine your motivation.  It can also be of great value to ask an expert or a trusted friend for advice. 

There are struggles that require every ounce of perseverance, strength and effort that we can muster to get us to the other side.  In these situations there is generally no way around or over, there is only through.  Inviting wisdom and faith to be our comrades in arms is a good strategy.  Acceptance also has its role in struggle.  Accepting  things we cannot change is an very important factor in overcoming our struggles.

Fortitude, strength of character, perserverance, a grateful attitude, a sense of pride and accomplishment are all fruits of struggle.  As you move through the the struggles of living, big and small, allow yourself to go with the flow of the river, and savor the fruits of success.

Active Wisdom

“How do you partake of its unlimited vision, its divine judgment, its holy discrimination, its clear intuition?  By letting the highest aspect of your being take control of your lower nature.  And when your true self takes command, you do not sound as foolish nor as irresponsible and your actions do not boomerang to dig a deeper hole for you than you were in before.  Your words resonate with the Power of Spirit, your emotions are motivated by love, and each decision is looked upon as skill in action.  With the energy of  Wisdom circulating freely, lack is transformed into abundance, illness to wholeness, failure to success, harmfulness to harmlessness, futility to fulfillment. ”

The Angels Within Us, John Randolph Price

Harvest

Harvest is a very beautiful and very busy season.  If you have had the experience of living close enough to the land to be personally involved or affected by the  season of  harvest, you are familiar with the smells, good and not so good,  and the  ant-like frenzy; the drive to get the harvest in while crops are ripe and ready. 

In a life intentionally lived the harvest season is a regular opportunity to examine our personal crops.  To look thoughtfully, reflectively and as objectively as possible at what we have reaped, or are reaping.  Have the seeds we have sown, the plants we tended to maturity, viable.  Metaphorically, what is the state of our relationships, our integrity, our zest for life.   What needs adjusting, what needs to be abandoned or re-worked.  What is to be acknowledged and celebrated.

Tasting, feeling and participating in the changing of the seasons, changes that are reflected by the weather, by the presence of seasonal foods and seasonal celebrations, serve to give us notice, to remind us not to ignore the spiritual side of beingness.  It is a time to give thanks.

Willingness

How willing are you?  For myself and for many others,  I believe we maintain a strong inner belief that we are ‘naturally willing’, ‘naturally altruistic’.  We are inherently willing to put forth the necessary effort to achieve our personal goals, to add the the welfare of community, to secure ‘the good life’, to attain spiritual integrity and maturation.  But are we really?

Willingness is essential to success in any endeavor.  As you move forward with your plans and goals bring willingness and unwillingness fully, consciously into the equation, into the planning and into the execution of those plans.  When willingness actively becomes part of the process, we gain clarity, insight and wisdom.  We are able to make a stronger commitment greatly enhancing our prospect for success regardless of the challenge or goal.

Flight From The Shadow

“There was a man who was so disturbed by the sight of his own shadow and so displeased with his own footsteps that he determined to get rid of both.  The method he hit upon was to run away from them.

So he got up and ran.  But every time he put his foot down there was another step,  while his shadow kept up with him without the slightest difficulty.

He attributed his failure to the fact that he was not running fast enough.  So he ran faster and faster, without stopping, until he finally dropped dead.

He failed to realize that if he merely stepped into the shade, his shadow would vanish, and if he sat down and stayed still, there would be no more footsteps.”

The Way of Chuang Tzu,  Thomas Merton (1965).

Change

Change is the only constant.  We humans don’t much like change.  We admit to the importance of growth and maturation in the body, mind and spirit.  Yet we most often are dragged, kicking and screaming, down the path of growth and change.

Change is challenging, often painful, always full of uncertainty; even when the changes are positive and we feel ‘certain’ of the outcome. 

Acceptance is the first step toward mastering the process of change.  If necessary, re-framing our perspective about the vicissitudes of life is imperative.  It is not about what happens to us, but rather, how we manage, how we handle the changes that come our way. 

To manage change successfully is to be as objective as possible, while at the same time, honoring our emotions and holding fast to our truths and our faith; trusting the process.  Believing that if we do our part the best we can, that we will find peace and triumph in the face of change. 

Change is an inherent part of existence.  Work to accept the change, perhaps even learn to embrace change…it is our life’s constant.  Certainly a task much, much easier said than done!

Fall Equinox 2010

Today marks the Fall Equinox and the movement of the Sun into Libra whose symbol or totem is the scales.  This day marks the ‘balance’ between the light and the dark; a day when the time of light and dark are equal.  It also marks the ascension of the dark as we move toward the Winter Solstice.  

The Equinox is a beautiful reminder of the importance of being in harmony with cycles and seasons.  We can feel the brisk air, see the turning leaf, reap the harvest and give thanks for our bounties.  It is a good time to take stock of our year to date; to get our balance sheet in order.

The Four Agreements IV

The fourth agreement in The Four agreements is to Always Do Your Best.  Making this agreement a routine, a habit assures the implementation and success of the other three.

We don’t try, we do.  Often we hold ourselves to unrealistic standards.  Believing, for example, that we can watch TV all day yet still find the time and energy to meet the day’s demands.  Conversely, we may believe that always doing your best means that always performing prodigiously is a personal standard.  Both of these beliefs are inherently flawed.

One cannot twitter away the day and expect to not be rushed, frustrated and unhappy with chores, commitments and goals left undone or only partially completed.  Likewise,  always doing our best does not mean performing at the same level regardless of what is going on in our life at the moment.  For example, you cannot be at the same energetic level of action when your are ill verses when you are in top physical condition. 

What is imperative is doing your best in the moment, regardless of whatever circumstances the moment brings.  There is no more.  There is only the best effort in the moment for the conditions of that moment.

Don Miguel says, “You can only be you when you do your best.  When you don’t do your best you are denying yourself the right to be you.”   “If you always do your best over and over again, you will become a master of transformation.”

The Four Agreements III

The third agreement, Don’t Make Assumptions, is profoundly connected to the second.  When we make assumptions about anything or any one, at conscious and/or subconscious levels we become invested in expectations.  When our expectations are not met, we take it personally.

Don Miguel says, “We make assumptions that everyone sees life the way we do.”  This assuming is particularly evident at the beginning of a romantic relationship.  Both parties asking few questions, assuming a great deal, and over-investing in their expectations.  As the romantic phase fades, reality sets in and the parties are stunned by their failed expectations.

Asking questions and clarifying communication are the keys for avoiding the ensuing drama of making assumptions.  The majority of us are quite timid when it comes to this critical aspect of communication; afraid to make ourselves vulnerable; fearful of being judged.

In The Four Agreements Don Miguel states, “If you don’t understand something, it is better for you to ask and be clear, instead of making an assumption.  The day you stop making assumptions you will communicate cleanly and clearly, free of emotional poison.  Without making assumptions your word becomes impeccable.”

The Four Agreements II

The second agreement in the Toltec Wisdom book, The Four Agreements, is “Don’t Take Anything Personally”.

The human majority beleive that other people or situations can make us respond in certain ways.  For example, ‘My boss made me so angry.’ or ‘My friend really hurt my feelings.’  We re-act from a place of conditioning.  Anger is a choice, albeit also a conditioned response.  As Don Miguel states, the comments and behaviors of others which ‘hurt’ us, hurt us because these things touch personal wounds that we carry.

To not take things personally is very challenging work.  Yet, when we establish the habit of non-reaction to the feedback of others, both positive and negative, we find our true center, our true self-esteem.