Are Meditators Cooler than Other People?

vinyasa-yogaNo.

I know when the question is asked so bluntly the answer is obvious, but judgment can be a sneaky thing and it has been known to crawl into a spiritual community or two.

When I lived in the New Age mecca of Asheville, NC I had a friend who whenever I would mention someone I met he would ask “is he a meditator?” as if that is the question that divides the worthy from the unworthy. The same friend made a pact with an equally “spiritual” friend that they were going to be enlightened in 6 months – yes, they set a date. His reasoning was that “I Am God” so I can decide and I decide to be enlightened and if I decide, then it will be so! They also felt that Christ or Angels or Masters or any “intermediaries” were an unnecessary distraction because “I Am” and therefore I can go direct to the Godhead!

At the same time I was taking classes in “energy studies” and going to group “awakening activation” circles (parts of my spiritual path that gave me a great deal and that I am very thankful for). My main teacher at the time was my massage school instructor, Craig, who also taught Merkabah meditations and beautifully shared his passion for how the physical anatomy of the brain corresponded to ancient Vedic poetry about awakening. At one Tibetan bowl ringing circle we were meditating in the midst of the sound waves and the Divine Presence was palpable. The moment I remember the clearest was when Craig walked by me and leaned in and said “There is the God that I Am and then there is the God that I ain’t!” It was his way of saying that there is a God that is more glorious, more benevolent and just more friggin AWESOME than we could ever contain!

I remember that moment often. And I feel that one moment taught me something vitally important.  I feel that humility is such an essential quality on a spiritual path, and it is very rarely talked about. Maybe that is because it’s hard to point out humility or you end up looking very Uriah Heepish calling attention to how “umble” you are. Or maybe humility is just by nature a meeker spiritual quality and doesn’t call attention to itself as much as courage, knowledge or rigorous self-discipline.

Or maybe it’s because it’s not a very popular concept in the Westernized spiritual talk of being “co-creators”, of “manifesting abundance” for ourselves and “I Am God” consciousness, or even the slightly removed “I Am One with God.” And yes, of course, in absolute truth we are all the “I Am” – but when that deep spiritual truth is co-opted by the small ego self, it’s not pretty. And sometimes “spiritual” people can behave just as judgmental and petty as high school teenagers.

It’s a strange dichotomy in our culture. On one side we have this struggle to feel worthy of our Divinity, worthy of God’s Love and Benevolent Grace and all the beauty and peace God wants to shower upon us – the “not enough” that is engrained in us. And on the other side we have this over the top spiritual arrogance of claiming we are God before we have purified our consciousness enough to have that be an actual manifested reality. Because even if something is true in absolute reality – i.e. that we are One with God – it doesn’t mean we ACT that way – and acting that way is how we ACTUALIZE it.  And actually doing that takes a lot of emptying, surrender and well, humility.

And that is the goal, isn’t it? That is why we meditate, contemplate, pray and work on ourselves – so that we can embody more of the qualities of the Divine – love, compassion, joy, light, peace and bliss – so that we can really act like we are made in God’s image. But it is very important to remember that loving kindness and compassion are what matters, and if you get there by meditating or by praying or by just being a good person with a loving heart, so what?  Who are we to judge?

sistersI look at my sisters and their families and they are beautiful people and I think they wouldn’t mind me saying they have never meditated a day in their life. I always thought of myself as the “spiritual one” – but I see how much good they create in the world and I am humbled. They have both created lives of harmony and good families – lives where their kids don’t know what yelling is. When they had their children they decided they didn’t want to re-create our upbringing of yelling and screaming and “not enough.” They applied themselves, read books, really thought about the choices they would make as parents and became conscious mothers. Their kids feel loved and respected and are being healed of the “not enough.”

My sisters do not have any pretense about being spiritual, yet they are changing humanity! The generational shift is amazing! They did not say – “I Am consciousness itself, I am going to change the world” – their only motivation was loving their children and wanting to create a better emotional life for them, and it IS changing the world.

So, I have decided to redefine what being “spiritual” means to me. It’s easy to get attached to this thought of being spiritual, almost as if spirituality has become a status symbol as much as a Mercedes or a Gucci bag. But it’s not about being the person who does yoga on the beach at 7am or who meditates for an hour every day. It is more about being compassionate. It is more about just making conscious loving choices in daily life. And I thank my sisters for not even trying to be spiritual but just being part of the evolution of the human race! It is humbling and beautiful to witness.

Changing Our Selves AND Changing the World

be-the-change-you-wantWhen Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world” he did not mean to just be the change on your yoga mat. Can anyone accuse Gandhi of sitting idly by in meditation – transforming himself inwardly as the world around him was unjust, brutal and violent? No. Gandhi did not simply meditate for peace and justice – he used the inner peace he found in meditation to take action and create real and meaningful change in the world.  The inner transformation through spiritual practice awakens in us a hunger for more love, compassion and justice in the world.

To me, what Gandhi meant is for us to have a unity of inner life and outer life – to have our quest for peace and justice in the world be reflected by peace and equanimity inside. Otherwise, we could be working for peace on the outside while raging with hatred against the world on the inside – and no matter what the anger or hatred is about, it is still putting out the vibrations of anger and hatred into the world, it is still polluting the collective mind. And, the nature of anger is that it cannot be contained or aimed just at one thing – it seeps out in how we treat those around us, those we love and anyone we come in contact with. So, if we are working for peace and we continue to rage inside, we are being counterproductive and working against ourselves and against peace.

Yet, I have often encountered people who say “Be the change you wish to see in the world” as a way to ONLY focus on change inside and not do anything in the outer world for change, to simply meditate every morning or say a prayer for peace before bed each night, but not think about the social impacts their choices or actions have on our world and the people around them. And yes, prayers and meditation for God’s Peace on earth are very good, but I don’t think Gandhi meant for us to ONLY change inside, to go to church on Sundays or take a yoga class on Thursdays and not take it any further than that. Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means “Union” – and how could you truly practice Union and realize the Oneness you share with all of life and then stand by and do nothing? When you truly realize the Union of life, the Union of God, you cannot sit by and watch the suffering of others and just say, oh well, I’m meditating.  I think our prayers for peace are meant to be ceaseless and to encompass all our actions in life.

The Dalai Lama has also said “Change only takes place through action, not through meditation and prayer alone.” And in a recent public talk when asked “What is the most important meditation technique at this time?” his answer was “Action,” – to meditate in order to take it into action.

There needs to be a balance of inner and outer focus. If we only focus on social activism and political action we get burnt out and bitter. There are plenty of politicians or social activists who start out with a mission for good and end up with toxic thoughts and angry actions. If we only focus on inner prayer or meditation we get self-absorbed and isolated in our own little world.  There are plenty of well-meaning people who set out to change the world by changing their own hearts but drift off into la-la land and lose touch with reality.

I think that the great spiritual leaders of peace and social change in our world have modeled this balance for us to apply in our own small ways. Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and those who have changed entire nations through Love and Truth Force – they use their inner focus on the Divine or the spirit as a way to keep them inspired and in a state of love in their actions for change in the world.

Amma-5201There is also the truth that we cannot change the world simply by changing the outside circumstances – that to create lasting change we must create a change in consciousness. As the beautiful Ammachi put it “Simply transferring the world’s nuclear weapons to a museum will not in itself bring about world peace. The nuclear weapons of the mind must first be eliminated.”

So, to create this change in consciousness we must first do it in ourselves – we must first be the change we wish to see. And then through action, inspiration, education, osmosis, transmission and electromagnetics we can begin to change the consciousness of others – and thus, change the world.

 

Intelligent Arguments Are Still Arguments

heart energyRecently a beautiful soul friend of mine gave me a magazine from a renowned Christian Apologist, Ravi Zacharias.  I didn’t know what a Christian Apologist is, so I looked it up and learned that it is one who attempts to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defending the faith against objections while proselytizing.  My friend told me how well educated this man is, that I could learn a lot from him because he has already done the research – he has worked for years in the field of comparative religions and has learned a great deal about all faiths in order to present his Christian apologies.

I took the magazine home and read one of the articles written by a Muslim who converts to Christianity – realizing that his own faith was wrong and Christianity was right.  It wasn’t over-the-top fanatical, it wasn’t inflammatory with fire and brimstone – it was well reasoned and intelligently presented.  But although it was a well written article and I even learned some things about Islam that I did not know before – the whole right/wrong way of thinking didn’t feel right.  We don’t just absorb information with our minds but with our hearts also, and it’s not just the words that matter.  It is the consciousness or energy behind something that informs us as well.

We have all felt how the energy behind a communication can be felt when we walk into a room where two people just had an argument and the tension hangs thick in the air.  It is the same for the underlying intention or emotion behind a communication – even an article in a magazine.

I remember watching a you-tube video with Sister Shivani of the Brama Kumaris.  She was talking about creating peaceful relationships and how soHeart EMF field 1 much of it has to do with the thoughts or the energy behind our communications.  She gave the example of a husband and wife: if the husband asks “do you want to go to the baseball game this weekend?” and the wife replies “yes” – it is the thoughts and energy behind the yes that makes the difference.  Is she saying “yes” inwardly thinking how much she enjoys watching the sport?  Is she saying “yes” inwardly indifferent to baseball but feeling genuinely happy to spend time with her husband doing something he enjoys?  Or is she saying “yes” on the outside while inwardly feeling resentment and anger that she always has to do what he wants to do and why can’t they go to a museum for once!  The words of the conversation are the same, but the result of the exchange is vastly different.

This was my experience as I read the article.  The words were not offensive but the energy of it didn’t sit well with me. I was reading it as a whole person and while my brain was gaining some interesting information, my heart felt constricted and uncomfortable.  I was reading this story about “I realized Islam was wrong and that Mohammed did this and that which wasn’t right and Jesus is the Son of God and Christianity is right…”  There was a dissonance with the energy of the story and the energy of my whole self because what I was reading didn’t feel like the Truth of God that I know in my heart – the total Oneness and Love that is at the core of ALL paths to God.

I realized that it’s not just about being a well-educated and articulate apologist – because it’s not JUST the information in something, it’s also about the energy behind it.  No matter how well you have studied other religions to compare it to your own, as long as you are telling others that you are right and they are going to hell if they do not agree with you – it’s still in essence the same thing as fanaticism.  Yes – I do appreciate the politeness and it is infinitely preferable to the other end of the spectrum that resorts to violence in the name of God, but it’s still part of the same right/wrong thinking.

So, my conclusion from this experiment with intelligent Christian apologetics is that I prefer to learn things about Islam or any other religion in a more accepting consciousness.  If I read an article about the central truths found in Islam and how there is some controversy about certain things that Mohammed did – I would get the same information without the wrong-making mentality.  So, even if Ravi Zacharias is very intelligent, and even though I am sure he loves Jesus as much as I do – I just don’t agree with the right/wrong energy he is creating around God and religion.  What the world needs is not more intelligent arguments, but more Unity Consciousness.