Awakening Is Fun and Broccoli Is Delicious

holy_spirit_fire_by_jpsmsu40I started my first Peter Rollins book last night.  I’m reading ‘Insurrection – to Believe is Human, to Doubt, Divine’ as part of The Collective‘s Virtual Insurrection on-line group reading experience.  This is the book whose mere title inspired an entire blog post about Doubting Thomas.

In the introduction, Peter Rollins promises that this book won’t be an easy read, in fact, many will find it disturbing as it will burn up our false concepts of a religion concerned with life after death to reveal the true transformation of Christ that takes place now in our life before death.  It sounds terrible… but wait a minute, isn’t that a good thing?

I guess it depends on what part of your self you are identifying with – the part of you that wants to hang on to ignorance and suffering or the part of you that wants to awaken into Light and happiness.  If you identify with your ego, I guess it’s disturbing and uneasy.  If you identify with your soul, it’s a downright party!  Woo hoo – freedom and transformation, let’s go!

So, why not say this book will be a great experience because it will set you free from false outer holiness to experience happiness in the transformation into what is truly holy inside your very soul!  Doesn’t that sound like more fun?  Why should awakening be so hard and painful?  Why should awakening be something we embark upon with dread because we know it’s really good for us, kind of like eating brussel sprouts or broccoli (which can actually both be quite delicious).

happinessLast year I went to the Ash Wednesday service at Trinity.  The pastor started talking about how Lent is the time to rend our hearts and offer up anything that is unpleasing to God and I thought “YES!  How wonderful, thank you – I so long to purify my heart of anything that is unpleasing to God.”  I was so happy!  “What a wonderful time of year Lent is,” I thought.

Then all of a sudden the pastor starts saying, “I know, you’re squirming in your seats, you want to hang on to all your attachments and desires, you want to hide all that stuff from God, I know you’ve been dreading Lent all year.”  And the rest of the sermon was all about how we don’t want to purify our hearts.  Say what?

Why wouldn’t I want to get rid of anything in me that is unpleasing to God?  If it’s unpleasing to God, isn’t it unpleasing to me?  And what’s more, if it’s unpleasing, wouldn’t it be unpleasant?  Why would I want to hang on to attachments and desires that cause me disappointment and suffering? Why would I want to keep a bunch of ugly ego stuff that is festering inside of me keeping me from transforming into the happy, fulfilled, loved and healed human being God wants me to be?

And what’s more, why is the pastor who is supposed to be guiding us closer to God, saying that it’s an awful uncomfortable thing?  Isn’t that backwards? I guess he’s trying to be relatable, acknowledge the part in us that is actually attached to our attachments.  But there is a big difference between acknowledging a part of us that might have resistance to transformation and identifying our selves as that part.  Why not identify ourselves with the much much bigger part of us that has been yearning to purify our hearts of suffering for many lifetimes?  As long as I’m identifying myself as a soul, the only thing I’d be renouncing or “giving up” for Lent is my suffering.

firewalkOtherwise, even in church we are teaching each other that we don’t want to be close to God – that we don’t want to be pleasing to God.  And I’ve heard the same kind of thinking in yogic self-realization circles, talking about awakening as “ego-death” or “walking through the fire.”  If even in church or our spiritual communities we keep identifying ourselves with our baser selves and ego desires instead of our souls, then we will keep telling ourselves that we don’t want our own happiness and spiritual liberation and that it’s something we should be squirming to avoid.

Instead of making Lent out to be so terrible and difficult that the whole congregation should be squirming in our seats, why not simply say, “I know some of you might be having some thoughts of resistance, but remember that to let go of that which is unpleasing to God will make you so much happier!  Your soul longs to be free!”  Let’s not turn some thoughts of resistance into WHO WE ARE.  Wanting to awaken and be happy is after all the Divine Purpose of selfishness – let’s put our selfishness to good use.

bonfire partyInstead of making the reading of a transformational book out to be some difficult task and making our awakening out to be some terrible chore or some painful trial by fire – let’s make it a party!  It’s joyful.  It’s wonderful.  Let’s break out the bongos and marshmallows and burn up all our misconceptions of God and what is holy in a big ole bonfire and dance around it with glee.  Let’s live here as our souls!  Not only will we realize the Secret to Immortality, but we can go about this whole awakening business with the realization that it’s fun to be set free!


To join me in all the Awakening Fun:

Nothingness and Happiness Continues

ensoYesterday my post was about how my answer to the nature of nothingness is happiness.

To sum up – whenever you’re engaged in a mental debate of esoteric spiritual principles about illusion or nothingness – ask yourself:  is this making me a more conscious and loving person who makes the world around me a more compassionate place?

However, there is another reason why my answer to the nature of nothingness is happiness.

Nothingness is supposed to be the That that is behind all illusion, behind all thoughts and emotions and human fabrications.  It is talked about as what is left when all our attachments, all our ego, all our karma and our samskaras are released – when we let go of our self identification.  Nothingness is the Pure Consciousness or the Om.

The thing is that I do not think that what is behind all things is just a void – a nothingness that is so empty that you even have to remove the nothingness from it.  Every experience of the realm beyond this realm I have felt in my heart, every glimpse of the That that is behind all things that I’ve ever had has felt like Love.

That was my experience of the chant Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu just a couple of weeks ago – that the chant is not just a prayer for all beings to be peaceful and happy, but it is the presence of the universe, the vastness and eternity of God that is IN and behind and underneath everything as this state of peaceful happiness.  That is my experience of the Nothingness that is beyond all human karma, ego and illusion.smiling buddha

The other thing that occurs to me is that those who have gone before us and have achieved liberation from all karma, ego and illusion are HAPPY.  They don’t sit there with blank stares on their faces immersed in some great void of nothing – they smile!  They are happy and uplifting to be around – they all seem to be very warm and loving.  So – this also points me to the nature of this nothingness as something filled with a lot of goodness.

Even if we look at the laws of physics – if nature abhors a vacuum, why would we think that the nature of the universe is based on nothingness?

So, based on common sense, my own experience and from what I know in my heart, it seems more true to me that the nature of the universe is based on fullness – a fullness of Light, Bliss, Peace and Love.  That is why my answer to the question about the nature of nothingness is Happiness.

Unity & Peace Inside & Out – the Mind is Not the Bad Guy

scottsaw_eternal_embraceI recently went to a chanting circle.  In all the quiet spaces between the chanting, the leader of the group included some guided meditation instructions, reminding everyone to get our minds out of the way to let our hearts and souls just be.

At one point she spoke in a soothing voice to let our minds be quiet, that the mind was not designed to be in harmony with the soul… and from deep within my meditative state something inside of me said – say what??

How is it possible that I was designed with some part of me in constant conflict with my soul?  How could any part of me not be designed to be in harmony with my Self?  Why is the mind always made out to be the bad guy?  How can I truly find inner peace if I’m constantly telling a whole part of my being to shut up?  How can my heart and soul only expand by pushing a part of me out of the way?

These were the thoughts that were going through my mind in the midst of chanting God’s name – and I didn’t want to push the thoughts away.  As common as it is to use this kind of meditation technique, I realized that it’s still coming from a conflict paradigm – the soul vs the ego, the heart vs the mind… who will win?  But I do not want to conquer some part of myself.  And if we truly DO change the world by changing our thoughts and our internal world – then I want to love myself and create unity & peace with ALL parts of my being, inside & out.

Of course the mind was designed to be in absolute harmony with my soul – it was designed to be in perfect harmony with the whole universe!  God did not design us to be in conflict within ourselves or with each other.

So, I would like to change the conflict model of meditation.  Let’s have the soul embrace the mind and entice the mind to serve the soul.  If we love our minds instead of fighting with them, our minds will love us back and do anything for us.  The mind is amazing – it gives us focus, intelligence, insight and the ability to use words to express, to pray and to chant the name of God.  Ask your mind to help you focus on the stillness inside yourself, ask your mind to keep coming back to the peace you truly are, ask your mind to rest inside Divine Light. Invite your mind to be a full participant in your spiritual practice.

The mind is perfectly capable of understanding Truth – that is what it was made for – so let’s not push it out of the way.  Let’s unify the soul and the mind into one purpose of loving God, loving the Self and loving each other.