Muhammad’s Perspective

by Ross Bishop

The Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad, (may Allâh’s grace be upon him), between the years 609 to 632 AD. According to legend, The Qur’an was communicated to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. I am not a Muslim, but I must confess that I find the Qur’an to be the most moving and compassionate book I have ever read. There is a quality about it, especially reading between the lines, that is truly moving.

Having said that, the Qur’an is still a channelled work, and as all channelled works do, suffers from the inevitable contamination by the channeler. Muslims will argue the point, but I will let the record speak for itself.

The Islamic faith is a set of obligations between man and God. In Muhammad’s view God was an old testament, black and white, fundamentalist God, who punished his children when they got out of line. Make a mistake and there would be a penalty. In Muhammad’s world there was little wiggle room, not much room for mistakes or learning or growth. Step out of line and you were in trouble.

Like fundamentalist Christianity, if you fall off the wagon, swift retribution is sure to follow. The God of the Qur’an is not without compassion, but it is not God’s essential nature. He might forgive, He might not, and as it is said, “Allâh knows everything.”

In Muhammad’s world, the only way to live was to have a completely virtuous and spiritual life.That is an admirable goal, but also a rather unrealistic one. No one I know can do that! And I think that becomes a trap for Muslims (and fundamentalist Christians). That’s why there is so much sexual frustration amongst some Muslims and Christian fundamentalists.

Where Christ shared the essence of God through stories and parables, The Qur’an is considered by Muslims to be more authoritative because it represents the direct word of God, not unlike the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses. By attaching themselves to God in this way, fundamentalists are able to claim a self-righteous perfectionism that easily slips into a pretense of supremacy. “Surely those who disbelieve in the Messages of Allâh, for them is a terrible punishment. And Allâh is Exalted in Might, Possessor of power of retribution.”(Qur’an 3:4)

Where Christ is held in great reverence as a prophet and expression of God’s truth by Muslims, Muhammad is a man, one chosen by God to be sure, but a man nonetheless, like Moses. Often, people make the error of analogy: the Qur’an is to the Christian Bible as Muhammad is to Jesus. In fact, something like the opposite is the case. For Muslims, the Qur’an, especially in its recited form, is an incarnation of God on earth, and is thus not just a book, nor even a holy text deserving of respect, it becomes God in the flesh.

The Qur’an lays down general principles and it is left to the Sunnah and Hadith to explain how to bring the principles of the Qur’an into daily life. The problem is that there are many Hadiths of questionable origin. This is where all religions in their various ways, come off the tracks. Each has pronouncements where some well intentioned stuffed shirt says, “This is what He meant and how you should live your life.”

Complicating matters, around 900 A.D., Islamic law became rigidly and inflexibly fixed because scholars of the Islamic schools felt that the essential questions had all been thoroughly discussed and finally settled. Up to that time, Islamic law had been adaptable and growing, but after that, it became increasingly rigid. This is an inherent problem faced by people who are emotionally invested in a particular view. It is very difficult for them to imagine a world that is different. They become “paradigm blind.”

This sort of thinking affects people in all walks of life. As an example, in 1881 the U.S. Commissioner of Labor said that the United States along with most European countries, had about exhausted the possibility of further economic growth: “The market price of products will continue low, no matter what the cost of production may be. The day of large profits is probably past. There may be room for further intensive but not extensive, development of industry in the present area of civilization.”

The Jews, whose religion is also based in the Old Testament, did not fall into the trap of rigidity. Through The Talmud they have adapted and interpreted the Torah (the first six books of the Old Testament) to be more flexible, something traditional Islamists and fundamentalist Christians have chosen not to do.

In the new Testament, Christ tells us of of a loving and compassionate God, a kind father who forgives and loves his children, who does not judge and apparently has given up on the smiting business. This is the God that I have come to know.

My work with people over the years has shown me that each of us comes in with issues forgiveness,Christ,that need to be resolved (called karma in some traditions). We come to earth to live in an environment where we can make mistakes, foul up our lives if we chose, mess with other people and eventually straighten out and realize the truth about ourselves. This rough and tumble existence is God’s creation. He understands that there will be missteps and plenty of mistakes – HE EXPECTS THAT. And he forgives, because he knows that every mistake, every error in judgement also contains the seeds of growth. Muhammad takes a different view.

I believe that the Qur’an can be split into two parts – pre and post Mecca. The Surahs, or chapters, written in Mecca were dominantly kind, gentle and compassionate. But in those early years, Muhammad’s teachings were also soundly rejected by Meccan society. After suffering years of rejection, he moved with his followers to Medina, where he was welcomed by all but the Jews.

Thus began a 10 year religious war between Mecca and Medina. During that time a number of attempts were made on Muhammad’s life. After these events, the Qur’an, which as I say, had been a document of peace and harmony, took on a more combative and aggressive tone. Islamic scholars have found ways to dance around these inconsistencies, but they are there. Unfortunately, Muslims validate these later Qur’anic passages as more legitimate.

Fanatical groups have taken to the Medina passages to justify violence, particularly the intolerant puritanism of the Wahhabi and Salafi creeds. Wahhabism was founded by the eighteenth-century evangelist Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab in the Arabian Peninsula (modern day Saudi Arabia) and has directly given birth to ISIS.

‘Abd al-Wahhab sought to rid Islam of the corruptions that he believed had crept into the religion. He advocated a strict literalism in which the Qur’an became the sole source of legitimate authority, and displayed an extreme hostility to intellectualism, mysticism, and any sectarian divisions within Islam.

According to the Wahhabi creed, it was imperative to return to a presumed pristine, simple, straightforward Islam, which could be entirely reclaimed by literal implementation of the commands of the Prophet, and by strict adherence to correct ritual practice. Importantly, Wahhabism rejected any attempt to interpret the divine law historically or contextually, with attendant possibilities of reinterpretation under changed circumstances.

Wahhabism treats the vast majority of Islamic history as a corruption of the true and authentic Islam. Furthermore, Wahhabism narrowly defines orthodoxy, and is extremely intolerant of any creed that contradicts its own. Wahhabism is the version of Islam practiced in modern Saudi Arabia and is the curriculum of Saudi funded schools (madrassas) throughout the Middle East.

Young Muslims, having little real education (other than from a Wahhabi sponsored radical school), a limited future (because Islam effectively blocks anything but small businesses), lash out at the one they are told is responsible for their problems – The Great Satan. And we, of course, oblige them with 15 year wars against Islam and terror weapons like drone strikes. Everyone in the Middle East knows or is closely related to someone the U.S. military has killed. Let that sink in for a moment as you try to understand why they are furious with us, or why some of the more radicalized Muslims might want to strike back.

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016

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Being Happy

by Ross Bishop

If I were to ask you if you were happy, you would probably say, “Yes, mostly.” After all, you are doing OK. You’ve built a life that accommodates your needs and doesn’t push you where you don’t want to go. You’ve made compromises to get to where you are, and challenging those compromises means upsetting the apple cart and you’re reluctant to do that. The word is – accommodation.

But there is a problem with accommodation. It doesn’t work. You don’t get do life on your terms because God doesn’t accept compromises. She insists on growth! You can ignore the daily messages – the discomfort, the conflicts for a while, but eventually life is going to force you to to deal with the stuff you have left on the table.

Walk the halls of your local hospital. Rooms filled with people who ignored their pain and put off doing their work until their inner toxicity caused the tissues of the body to fail. Many of them now face the ultimate challenge, “Change or die.”

How does change happen? The word is frustration. As Elizabeth Gilbert said, “I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting sick of their own bullshit.” When we become sufficiently frustrated, we are willing to scrap our accommodations and look for other ways of being. And remember, it is only when we are challenged that we grow!

But we don’t want the pain that change, even good change, brings. Carl Jung said, “There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. (But) One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that putting your work off only makes the process more painful and more difficult than it needs to be. Shamanism isn’t the only way up the mountain, but it is a good way. I have created a video program of shamanic healing that takes you through the steps you will need to come home. And now it is available in a more affordable plan!

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016

 

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Feeling Inadequate – The Albatross

by Ross Bishop

In school you may have read Coleridge’s, “The Rhyme of The Ancient Mariner.” It is a poem about a mariner who, in his arrogance, killed an albatross that was believed to have brought his ship and shipmates good fortune. Being a superstitious lot, the mariner’s mates made him wear the stinking carcass of the albatross around his neck as penance for his intransigence. As long as he wore the albatross, things went badly.

Coleridge’s albatross symbolizes the role of the ego in our lives. It shows us how we can close off the loving and compassionate voice within us and replace it with the rotting carcass of our ego. Why do we do that?

In a word, we are afraid to be seen. We fear that the inadequacies we feel in ourselves will be exposed. But that”s something of a game too. If I really am “inadequate” in some way or other, there really isn’t much I can do about it anyway. So what’s the problem? And besides, if everyone else feels the same way, what’s the big problem?

It’s a bit of a game played by the mind. You see, there is a “soft spot” in your consciousness. That’s why you have come to earth. That “soft spot,” when pushed on, leaves you feeling inadequate, leading to shame. It keeps the fear alive of always feeling rejected or rejectable.

Your “soft spot” became exposed in childhood. All children grow up feeling as though something is (missing, wrong, defective, unworthy) in them. You probably felt like that. This is your albatross. Parents get blamed for creating these issues, because your awareness of them surfaced in childhood. This is a failure of parenting on your parent’s part, but it is also intended to be this way. Each party is given the opportunity to address issues they hold that need attention.

You created coping mechanisms (ego) to compensate for your “inadequacies,” and to deal with your family situation. Since those behaviors got you through childhood, you tend to continue them today. You say, “I feel inadequate, so I’ll compensate by (fill in the blank): (efforting, denying, rationalizing, being invisible, not remembering, being aggressive, feeling inadequate, blaming myself, collapsing into failure or any of a hundred other compensations). You build compensation on top of compensation until you are so deep in the muck that there doesn’t seem to be any way out.

But of course, living like that you never feel quite whole. There is this nagging feeling that, “Something isn’t quite right,” and of course, that’s true. No matter what you do, there’s this “thing” hanging around your neck and the stink of it won’t go away.

When I first work with a client, I have them create an “Albatross List.” The list gives us a starting point for our work. It’s a list of the things they do that are not really themselves. You know, things like jealousy, selfishness, dishonesty, etc., and then the things they feel that also aren’t them – like feelings of worthlessness, undeserving, shame, etc. People will sometimes say, “But I don’t know what’s me and what’s not me.” I tell them, “If it doesn’t create harmony, it’s not you.”

Here are a few things from one person’s Albatross List:

Feel like rotten minced meat inside.
Analyzing things, always living in my head.
Make myself small.
Push good things away.
Stay hidden.
Keep my feelings hidden inside.
Isolate myself.
I am not enough.
Live to please others.
Cannot be criticized.
Focus on the appearance of things.
Feel lonely.
Bottle up my emotions.
Self sabotage to keep myself down.
Feel ugly, fat.
Feel dark inside.
Feel guilty.
Life is for others but not for me.

Anything on that list feel familiar? Go ahead, make your own list. . . I’ll wait. . .

The thing about the beliefs that lie beneath the albatross (ego) list is that they control your life. Whenever you become anxious, you’ll retreat into those behaviors. Fortunately, living from the ego on a permanent basis is very difficult.

The ego, based in fear, creates conflicts both within yourself and with others. You can go along for quite a while letting it run your life, but sooner or later the roof caves in. Perhaps your relationship fails, your business flops (or never gets started), your health fails or maybe the inner conflict simply gets to you. Whatever happens, you are then challenged to look at your assumptions about the things on your Albatross List and see if they really are true.

And you know what? They’re not. In every case. You can believe these things and can act on them, but that’s the illusion. There is nothing wrong with you (other than your beliefs)! There never was! Seven billion people, all struggling with the same issue. Doesn’t that tell you something?

The Universe needs you to decide for yourself that you really are intact and lovable. It wants you to see that there are no defects. It will bring you situation after situation until you see through the lie and get it. You aren’t being punished, you are being taught. Although some of us can be pretty stubborn, that just makes the process take longer and be more painful than it needs to be.

But the ego believes in punishment. “Poor me,” it cries, desperately hanging on to any position of leverage it can generate. “We are being punished.” And so long as there is significant doubt in you, that gives the ego all the leverage it needs.

And yet, there is this place of knowing, this light that draws you to the truth. That pull, we sometimes call it faith – (not faith in a religious sense, but faith in The Creator) – is going to save you. This thread ultimately re-connects you with The Truth, and no matter how angry you are at being “punished” or how ashamed you feel for your transgressions, the connection, which can be ignored for a time, can never be broken. But first you have to get over the belief that you are being punished for your inadequacies.

So, this is all about your coming to realize that you are not exactly who you thought you were. This is so you can release your fear-based beliefs and embrace the truth. It means letting go of the life you created out of fear and replacing it with one filled with love and compassion. This is what Christ was referring to when he spoke of, “being born again.”

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016

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Our Flaws

by Ross Bishop

Why do we respond to life the way we do? What is it that triggers our ego defenses? In a word, it is because of what we believe, especially about ourselves. Most of us hold self images that aren’t very flattering. Where did we learn that? The answer of course, is in childhood.

A child has many needs, few of which she can fulfill on her own – needs for food, clothing, shelter and most importantly, for love and support. If those needs are not met, she assumes – as all children do – that something in her is defective – undeserving – as it were.

Today you can give yourself everything you need. You feed yourself, clothe yourself, see to your housing and most importantly, (hopefully) give yourself love. She could do none of that and that made her a virtual prisoner to her surroundings. Unless you are around children these days, it’s easy to forget how vulnerable and fragile a child’s existence is.

When something went “wrong,” a child is unable to understand what was going on for her parents. She automatically assumed that whatever happened was her fault. She said to herself, “The love that I need isn’t here,” and then she made a fatal step, she concluded, “there must be something wrong with me.”
She thought she did not deserve to be loved because she was defective, and that’s where the train came off the tracks. The disease was no longer in the situation – in the relationship with her parents – it was now in her, and she would carry “her flaws” with her from that day forward.

She would have to hide her flaws so that others wouldn’t see them. But of course, that never really works. She would live in fear of being exposed. Better to remain hidden and out of sight.

It didn’t matter that she wasn’t defective. She believed it, and that made it real. To this day, she probably still believes that she does not deserve to be loved. It prevents you from being at peace with life. You try and do the right thing, you try to be more compassionate, but there’s this force, this thing, that gets in your way.

The thing that does not get explained to us (and this is on purpose, by the way) is that there is a “soft spot” in our consciousness. When pushed, we become insecure and afraid. That is why childhood family problems affect us so much.

You came to earth to explore and resolve that vulnerability, and your childhood was a set-up as a part of that process. It set you up for the learning you are doing today. You came here to find out who you are, to know yourself as a beautiful being, full of light and love. The best way to do that was to start out believing the opposite. That is the power of this process. You will come to know and believe, the truth for yourself. Most of us still have a ways to go on the path, but we are also a lot further along than we used to be.

And no, you didn’t come here to serve your fellow humans or to make the world a better place, either. Those things will hopefully happen along the way, but they are not the reason you are here. You are here to learn to be a more loving being.

YOU ARE HERE TO LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF

and on the way, you will learn to love everybody else, too.

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016

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Spiritual Evolution

by Ross Bishop

To understand human evolution it helps to get a fix on where you are headed. The answer is quite simple: you are moving to a state of total compassion. How do you get there? That’s simple too (at least in concept). By removing the “rough spots” in your life. What are the “rough spots? Anything you do not love. Because everything you do not love will cause you conflict.

Think about a cabinetmaker. How does he make a smooth board? He removes the rough spots. How does he do that? He puts them in “conflict” with his sandpaper. It is the same with your life. The places you do not love (think especially of yourself here) will cause you conflict until you come to peace with them, i.e. remove the causes.

Your growth will come from the daily issues (conflicts) of your life. Remember, everything you do not love will become a lesson, and this is especially true as regards love of self. Want to know where your life is headed? Look at what you do not love. As Eckhart Tolle said:

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.”

Every problem you face has two parts. There is the issue – which can always be negotiated. Then there is the ego baggage you wrap the issue up in. And that is where you get stuck. You get lost in the struggle with your pain and shame and fail to realize that these situations were created specifically for you so that you might learn from them (grow spiritually). They were not created to judge or condemn you. The intention of the whole process is to help, although it often does not feel that way.

Having problems with your relationship? Trouble with your kids? Discontent with co-workers? Problems with finances? These things exist because you are holding back, afraid to accept the abundance that The Universe offers – wether it is love, contentment or financial ease. These are not measures of failure on your part but rather opportunities for your growth. These are the places where you are not yet “finished.” Each of them can be traced back to a lack of love of self.

And it is the lack of love for ourselves that is the biggest obstacle we face. Resolving issues with your partner or kids is far easier and less scary than fixing the dark hole that you feel resides at your core. You can deal with your kids or your partner while only scratching the surface of your feelings of personal inadequacy. Facing yourself squarely is a different prospect altogether.

What if you really are inadequate or unworthy? What if God doesn’t like you? What will you do then? It’s better to live in limbo than face the consequences of that possibility. So in response, we ignore The Universe knocking at the door. It, in turn, simply ups the ante until the pain becomes so great that you must stop resisting and surrender, which is what The Universe was asking of you in the first place. That’s doing it the hard way, but that’s the path that many people choose.

And that is the essence of the human dilemma. You cannot possibly be any of these things, but you can believe that you are. And so long as your beliefs are in place, they will cause you pain. Remember, “Anything you do not love will become a lesson.”

So how do you find your way out of the labyrinth? To get out, you must love yourself. But pulling yourself out by the bootstraps, given the power of your beliefs, can be difficult. The answer lies in going to the place where your beliefs were created – the assumptions about yourself you made as a child.

Your beliefs were formed at a time when you were completely vulnerable to the vagaries of the adults in your world (mostly your mother and father). You interpreted their fears and anxieties (their withholding love) as an inadequacy on your part. Your conclusion that you were not worthy, good enough – enough of something, was completely in error.

I can guarantee you that the conclusions you made were not correct. How do I know that? It is simple. Children are not capable of the things you blame yourself for. There is no way that a child, any child, could be unworthy or not deserve to be loved. Because of that, it cannot be the child’s fault! You may not have received the love you needed, but it was because of the situation that your parents created, it wasn’t because of some failure of your part!

So what do you do? The way out may seem a little indirect, but it is a very effective technique. Work with the daily conflicts that life brings and see how in some way or other, in each situation, you are not being loving – most often toward yourself. Observe how your beliefs and behaviors are creating friction either within yourself or with others. And what’s most important to remember about these situations is that your beliefs cannot be true. You are not the person you have come to believe you are. And as you come to accept that truth, your beliefs will simply fade away.

These events of your life are not random. Your feelings of “not being enough” were what you came to earth to work on, and your earthly experiences have been created to help with that process. You got pulled on you where you already felt vulnerable, exposing a wound you had carried for some time. If you could rise above your woundedness and see the truth of the situation, there would be no issue! And that is where you are headed – that is the course of your evolution.

The secret to evolution then, is to see your beliefs as both burden and as the source of your transformation. It is the resolution of your beliefs to the truth that will bring you home. But how do you get over that seemingly insurmountable mountain? I know it’s a cliche, but you do it “One step at a time.” Or, as Lao Tsu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Now while all that is going on at the conscious level, something much deeper is taking place. And that is the whole secret behind this business of being human and human evolution. As you align to the truth in your conscious mind you also create an alignment with your spiritual self. And although subtle, that alignment is incredibly powerful. It shapes your destiny – not just in human terms, but for all eternity.

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016

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Living In Two Worlds

by Ross Bishop

Most of us live in two worlds. There is the adult world with your job or career, your kids and family. You have built a fairly nice life for yourself there. Most of the people in this world are loving and kind. They care about you. It’s not a perfect world, but you get by.

Then there is your other world, the world of your inner child. It’s the world you grew up in and it wasn’t always a pleasant place. Sometimes it was filled with pain and anxiety. Things could go badly there. People judged and criticized you, you felt inadequate. You didn’t measure up. You weren’t good enough.

In this other world you were powerless, the adults ran everything – and sometimes not very well. Their fears and anxieties dominated everything. They told you what to do, what to eat, what to wear, when to go to bed, how to behave and often, what to think. Although there was love, it was not always readily given. And there was no mechanism for you to challenge adult decisions or for your needs to be heard and respected. When it came down to it, what you desired didn’t really matter much.

As a consequence you were uncertain as to your worthiness, or even worse, believed that something was actually wrong with you. Over time you came to believe that you were unworthy, perhaps even unlovable (more about this in a minute).

Part of you still lives in that world of insecurity and doubt. When something triggers her fear, she takes over. And what takes over is a scared and powerless 3 or 6 year old, who is convinced that she is unworthy, doesn’t deserve to be loved and is worried about being criticized for being defective. And so long as she is in that state, there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it!

It would help you (and her) to see things from another perspective. You came to earth to resolve a discrepancy between who you are and who you think you are. In your present state when pushed, you react from fear and insecurity. Instead of being grounded in the truth of your beingness, you react from uncertainty. Said another way, you do not love yourself, and that leaves you feeling vulnerable.

So you and God decided you would come to earth where issues like this get resolved. And the process here is most interesting. First, you will be led to believe a set of untruths about yourself. Then over time, as those untruths bump up against the real truth, they cause conflict and friction. Tiring of the pain and the conflict, you will eventually decide that your beliefs are untrue and discard them for the truth. Remember, you have free will, so if you were going to resolve this, you had to come to these conclusions on your own, God could not give them to you. You had to decide for yourself that you were in fact, lovable and worthy.

Now from the human perspective that can seem like an unloving and sometimes cruel process, but this is the most effective way for you to learn. And by the way, in order for the process to work, you had to temporarily forget who you truly were. Otherwise the insults that life occasionally brings would just bounce off to no effect.

The point is that your childhood experiences, regardless of how you felt about them, were perfectly orchestrated to give you exactly what you needed in order to eventually resolve your feelings of inadequacy. That’s the way life works.

So you felt wounded as a child and in the process, came to believe things about yourself that weren’t true. (You’re in the middle of that process at the moment.) And it is the resolution of those untruths (those beliefs) that will eventually guide you home.

Now resolving beliefs isn’t easy. There’s a lot a stake and a superficial fix won’t hold. The movement from untruth to truth happens at many levels and can take a little time to integrate. There will be fits and starts, failures, anger, resentment, frustration and probably a good deal of anger at your parents and feelings of abandonment toward God.

In time you will come to see the perfection of the process, but that is difficult to do when you are in the middle of it. As the saying goes, “When you are up to your ass in alligators it’s difficult to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.” That’s why taking a wider perspective is so important. If you can see that you are being helped rather than being punished, it makes an incredible difference.

copyright © Blue Lotus Press 2016

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Sri Aurobindo

by Ross Bishop

I have often wondered why there was no book explaining the process of life here on earth. There are books that suggest certain helpful practices, The Bible, The Torah and The Quran offer guidance, and although that is very helpful, even in these you get a fragment here and an insight there, but no one really explains what is going on!

The Hindus have studied the process for millennia and I thought that they might be able to shed some light on the subject. Late last year, a friend recommended a book by Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) and The Mother, called The Psychic Being. She said it provided a good explanation for the process of life.

The Psychic Being is not exactly a book, it is a compilation of Aurobindo and The Mothers’s writings on the subject of life. So, although somewhat disjointed, there are enough pieces to sort of weave a whole cloth together.

Aurobindo is not an easy read. He was an incredibly bright and gifted intellectual, and his writing can sometimes be dense. Aurobindo was also a Hindu, and the Hindu view of life and spirituality is somewhat different from ours, so one has to sometimes do a little fancy footwork to comprehend exactly what he was saying.

Aurobindo divides all living things into two complimentary structures – an internal and external or subjective and objective. The goal of life is the reconciliation of those seeming opposites to the divine.

He defines humans as having mental, physical and vital realms, each of which has an internal and an external component. The external realms are controlled by the ego, which is based in fear. In the undeveloped state it dominates the person. Its outlook is necessarily rigid. There can be no compromise to fear.

Living from the ego leads to an unsatisfying life, filled with emotion and conflict. And because the ego cannot lead to peace of mind, following it can only lead to frustration and anger from efforting through a process that has no chance of succeeding.

While all this ego noise is going on in the external, there is a small, quiet inner voice at the center (the psychic being) urging us towards greater compassion. Overwhelmed at first by the incredible chaos of the ego, the psychic being is overwhelmed. But when when resignation comes at the failure of the ego and the individual begins to quiet the mind, the small, persistent voice of the psychic being can then begin to be heard.

Realizing that there really was nothing to fear in the first place, the individual then turns more and more to the guidance of the psychic being and thus moves closer to the light. This is the process we know as life.

From The Psychic Being:
The psychic being is always there, but is not felt because it is covered up by the mind and vital; when it is no longer covered up, it is then said to be awake. When it is awake, it begins to take hold of the rest of the being, to influence it and change it so that all may become the true expression of the inner soul. It is this change that is called the inner conversion. There can be no conversion without the awakening of the psychic being.

There is this divine element in all living beings, but it stands hidden behind the ordinary consciousness, is not at first developed and, even when developed, is not always or often in the front.; . . . . It grows in the consciousness by Godward experience, gaining strength every time there is a higher movement in us, and finally by the accumulation of these deeper and higher movements, there is developed a psychic individuality, – . . . It is always this psychic being that is the real . . . cause of man’s turning to the spiritual life . . .

(The psychic being) is a portion of the divine and permanent from life to life. . . . As this experience grows it manifests a developing psychic personality which insisting always on the good, true and beautiful, finally becomes ready and strong enough to turn the nature towards the Divine. It then can come entirely forward . . . and transform the nature. Nature no longer imposes itself on the soul, but the soul, the Purusha, imposes its dictates on the nature.

When the ego begins to quiet and the psychic being becomes more of a force in the external processes, the soul, which is eternal and unchanging, and is connected to the “Divine Spark” in each of us, can begin to provide guidance:

The psychic being usually expresses itself through it’s instruments (mental, physical, etc.) . . . It tries to put as much of its own stamp on them as possible. But it can seldom put on them the full psychic stamp – unless it comes out from its rather secluded and overshadowed position and takes into its hands the direct government of the nature.

The psychic being is formed progressively around the divine centre, the soul, in the course of its innumerable lives in the terrestrial evolution, until the time comes when the psychic being, fully formed and wholly awakened, becomes the conscious sheath of the soul around which it is formed.
And thus identified with the Divine, it becomes His perfect instrument in the world. (The Mother)

. . . not the common meaning. There is a constant confusion between the mentalized desire-soul which is a creation of the vital urge in man, of his life-force seeking for its fulfillment and the true soul which is a spark of the Divine Fire, a portion of the divine.

The soul and the psychic being are not exactly the same thing, although their essence is the same. The soul is the divine spark that dwells in the centre of each being; it is identical with its Divine Origin; it is the divine in man. The soul itself is is an inner divinity greater than mind or life or body.

Note: For those of you who would like to read more, Aurobindo’s Letters on Yoga is long, but it is an easier read.

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016

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The Age of Compassion

by Ross Bishop

compassion

Things are always changing, society’s pot is always bubbling. Sometimes it bubbles more than others, but the pot is always cooking. The direction, over the long term, is clear. We are moving towards greater individual freedom and compassion and away from the tyranny and oppression that have dogged humankind for centuries.

It is rarely an easy process and smoke from the tumult may obscure the direction for a time, but if you stand back from the rush of events, the trend is clear. The question isn’t whether there will be change, but rather how fast and in what form the inevitable will occur.

hurryupandwait40The new overtakes the old.
(Jacques-Henri Lartigue. Paris, Avenue des Acacias, 1912.)
Often clumsy and unwieldy at first, the new idea eventually sweeps away the old.

We have left behind kings, slavery and the all powerful Church, have broached racial and sexual equality and stand perched on the edge of LGBT equality and the watershed issue of animal rights. I will offer a series of examples that I hope will illustrate the groundswell of change that is beginning to break through to the surface of society.

Whether a particular change will occur as I predict, is irrelevant, but the trend is not. Social change is always a messy process – there will inevitably be conflict from those who are invested in the present order as they attempt to protect their interests by stalling the inevitable.

Although change can appear to be cataclysmic, what often happens is that, like a tsunami, the forces of change gather momentum quietly beneath the surface and then burst forth against the shore, wreaking havoc against anything that stands in its way. The the pot boils over from the release of built-up pressure and simply overwhelms any resistance.

Woodstock17Woodstock, 1969

The 1960′s and ’70′s were such a time in America. We witnessed Black people successfully challenging segregation, the women’s rights movement, the hippie revolt against the rigid social conformity of the 1950′s and ’60′s, the anti-war movement and the growth of environmental consciousness. The Kennedy election brought a breath of fresh air to the White House, teachers from India encouraged us to expand our consciousness and Elvis and The Beatles brought popular music into the mainstream.

And there was, and will be, resistance. Those in power have arranged (rationalized) things so that they accommodate their values and beliefs and as always, will have a difficult time supporting different values. The new order will upset what they have created and reorder social priorities.

A telling indicator is the present conservative over-reaction to all things Obama. Conservatives sense the coming change and are threatened by the shift they sense in priorities. Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio – are all fear-based throwbacks to the politics of domination and Anglo entitlement that re-emerged during the Reagan-Bush years.

During the Reagan – Bush eras progressives lost ground, but it would appear that we are perched on the precipice of another round of massive social redirection. In the ’60′s and ’70′s the focus was on reforming social institutions – more “top down” changes – segregation, the Viet Nam war draft, laws and policies governing sexual equality and marriage, civil rights and voting rights, etc. These changes would eventually trickle down to the individual, but personal change was sort of an afterthought. The “herders” were pushing the cattle in new directions.

The revolution that lies before us will be more “bottom up.” It’s base philosophy will be compassion. “Care for each other” will be its guiding ethic. Compassion is going to replace greed as the dominant force in society as materialism has failed to deliver the peace of mind that people had hoped it would bring. There will be a fundamental shift to redefine what “success” is and movement away from the tendency to devalue those who do not ascribe to the traditional values of capitalism.

The process will originate with changes to individual consciousness that will eventually spread throughout society. As an analogy, as opposed to being driven, the thirsty herd has smelled the water and will head towards it of it’s own volition, herders be damned.

The most visible evidence of this shift was the sweeping election of President Obama in 2008 and the massive frustration with the political system ever since. A hallmark of the present system – secrets and data manipulation, will be overcome by the role of social media, an important player in the coming transformation.

When a social shift of that magnitude occurs, the impact on the society is massive and somewhat interestingly, rarely heralded. For that reason, some will view what I am going to present as naive. That is one of the typical reactions of the establishment to new ideas. And of course, as I said, there will be resistance.

People will end up dragging social institutions like the government, the military, religion and the educational system into the future. (Perhaps it is always this way. The hearts and minds of a critical mass of people shift, causing a groundswell in the society. Social institutions are then obliged to follow.)

The greed and materialism that drive corporate society today will eventually give way to a more enlightened and embracing – inclusive and compassionate – concept of business. The venerated corporate job – the hallmark of previous generations – is already gone. People more and more are going into business for themselves, consulting instead of being employed and connecting to projects that speak more to their hearts and their social consciences, rather than to their incomes.

The exploitation of cheap labor, one of the hallmarks of capitalistic society, will have little place in a global culture that cares about oppressed workers, wherever they live. More and more we will witness the wealthy donating their fortunes to help the less fortunate. The tax system that today favors the wealthy will be returned more to the way things used be, where the rich paid for a significant part of the government, instead of just being able to buy it.

This Revolution is going bring individual consciousness to preeminence. Where the revolution of the 1960′s sought to change the direction of government, the Consciousness Revolution will make government less relevant, as various groups assume responsibility for previous governmental functions, crossing boundaries that established groups could or would not cross in order to bring new solutions to social problems.

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The hallmark of the new movement will be on the individual valuing themselves rather than being a cog in a giant machine. The social and economic focus will be on “doing the right thing” rather than what is legal, sanctioned or traditional.

Present societal failures like the War on Drugs, gang crime and gun violence will give way to a more enlightened perspective. Consider the Boston based program called Operation Ceasefire. Operation Ceasefire was a successful collaborative effort between Boston police, black ministers and social scientists, who came together to curb rising youth homicides.

But instead of focusing on a top down police crackdown, the group in Boston looked at the human side of the problem. Research told them that a small number of young, gang-related men were responsible for the majority of murders. And so, the coalition of law enforcement and civil society leaders began by identifying these men – the “small groups of young men most likely to shoot or be shot.”

Ceasefire’s leaders then used a carrot-and-stick approach to confront the at-risk individuals in person. They “promised an immediate crackdown on every member of the next group or gang that put a body on the ground – and immediate assistance for everyone who wanted help in turning their lives around.

The approach yielded such dramatic results it earned the moniker “The Boston Miracle.” Over the next two years, the average number of youth murders declined by 63 percent. The Department of Justice gave the program high marks, characterizing it as one the few crime prevention programs with a proven record of effectiveness, even while attempts to during the same period to pass national gun legislation failed. The program has been tried elsewhere and has met limited success because of police resistance to surrendering their power, however.

Years of entrenched hard-knuckle (largely white) policing will give way to a more enlightened approach as a direct result of the Black Lives Matter movement. Society will finally accept that a black or brown mind is worth investing in too, and that training and a good education are important weapons against the debilitating effects of poverty and ghetto life.

The dismal failure of the criminal justice system to do anything other than warehouse criminals and further harden them has led to an incredibly large prison population and recidivism rates that are obscene. Combined with the ignominious failure of The War On Drugs, this is likely to lead to a radical overhaul of the criminal justice system and efforts to change the culture of America’s ghettos where crime culture festers.

The public will come to realize that many (not all) criminals need and will accept a helping hand rather than an iron fist. This will lead to programs of education, job training and rehabilitation being offered to all but the most hardened convicts in order to reduce today’s incredible rates of recidivism and reduce the nation’s ridiculously large prison population. Drug programs in countries like Portugal have already established that offering help to drug offenders works, with very dramatic results.

The educational system in America is already seeing a shift in consciousness. Because the present system has failed so miserably and seems beyond repair, other groups have begun to assume responsibility for our young people’s education. The availability of virtually all knowledge over the internet has also made alternatives viable. We see the seeds of this in both the home schooling and charter school movements.

Today there are more than 2.5 million students attending nearly 6,500 charter schools. Over the past 10 years, charter school enrollment has risen by 225 percent and the number of new schools has risen by 118 percent. The number of homeschoolers has risen from 360,000 in 1994 to 850,000 in 1999 (many experts put the figure closer to 2 million). These new groups will insist that laws and rules be changed to fit their needs. The present educational system is likely to resist strongly, as it loses it’s present position of power.

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Being awakened to the true costs of war, people will begin to insist on finding other ways to resolve international disputes and disagreements. After the debacles of Viet Nam and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the public will not be so easily duped into international adventurism at the point of a gun. As Woody Guthrie sang, “I an’t gonna kill nobody today.” Connected to this, there will be a substantial restructuring in spending priorities from the gargantuan 60+% of the Federal budget that today goes to the military, shifted to long neglected infrastructure and social services budgets.

There are a host of other changes that are likely to come to pass. Amongst them may be: adequate funding and care for the homeless and mentally ill, meaningful help for those in need, regulation of drug pricing, dismantling of the massive heath care bureaucracy, Congressional ethical oversight, reconceptualizing the role of college education, acceptance of global warming as a national priority, a return to local agriculture and rejection of both factory farming and the widespread use of agricultural chemicals, rejection of GMO’s and processed food generally, and finally, a re-emphasis on individual spirituality.

As I said, predicting particular occurrences or their timing is difficult. After all, we still don’t have flying cars, but the trends are unmistakable. We are clearly moving to a culture of greater compassion and all that comes with it.

Note; for some additional thoughts, see Johnathan Taplin’s excellent article: “The Establishment’s Last Gasp” ; https://medium.com/@jonathantaplin/the-establishment-s-last-gasp-f7be493f5372#.kdlrdfweo

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016

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Feeling Worthy

by Ross Bishop

Many people struggle with feelings of unworthiness or not feeling lovable. Perhaps you are one of them. Life, particularly your childhood, gave you the message that something was wrong with you. And because of the nature of the parent/child relationship, children will accept this judgement of “inadequacy” as real. They do not, perhaps they cannot, question it.

And when you do not accept yourself as worthwhile or lovable, you must create beliefs in their stead: “I’m not good enough,” or “I don’t deserve to be loved, appreciated or have nice things.” This becomes the theme that plays through everything you do. Life becomes a lot of coping. Coping to overcome your “failings,” coping to hide your flaws, coping to have a relationship – sacrificing what you want in order to settle for what you “deserve.”

So you end up with your real self, which remains largely hidden, and a “false self” that you project out onto the world to hide your “inadequacies.” Living from the “false self,” you have something to hide your “flaws” behind. You don’t have to expose yourself and risk being found out. You will respond to situations by holding back, by being withdrawn. And you never feel quite whole. There is this nagging feeling that, “Something isn’t quite right,” and of course, that’s true. But you are having problems not because of a “defect of character,” but because of the false beliefs you hold. What needs attention is not who you are but what you believe!

Your pain plays an interesting role in this situation. As I said, when you act upon your beliefs you withdraw, withhold or in some other way create psychological distance between yourself and others in order to compensate for your “inadequacies.” That compensation leads to the creation of pain. Internal pain and pain in your relations.

Our normal response is to try and mitigate the pain – to avoid, deny, rationalize or in some other way, keep from hurting. But pain is a wake-up call that you are acting from your false self. It is The Universe’s way of urging you to change. And that warning isn’t going go away. You can expect it to get worse. When you operate from your real self, you don’t get crosswise with others or yourself and there is no pain! So although pain is undesirable, we also need to accept it for what it is – a red flag.

Ask yourself right now, “Do I deserve to be loved?” Even if most of you says, “Yes,” there will likely be a small nagging voice that disagrees. That voice is the voice of your wounded inner child. Dr. Brugh Joy made a fascinating observation about the role played by the inner child in regard to disease. He said, ”I have never encountered a patient (note: a person with disease) in whom a mature adult self is in charge at the unconscious level. Usually the self in charge is a young, vulnerable, and often very unhappy inner child. . . “

Are you in a relationship or job that does not nourish you? Ask yourself, “What am I doing there?” Some part of you didn’t feel good enough to reach for more. You chose your present situation because that’s all you thought you deserved. And as a result, you live in some level of discontent, perhaps even pain. You die a little every day. Perhaps it’s manageable situation today, but it won’t stay that way forever. That’s God’s way of insisting that you deal with this issue. As Leonard Jacobson said, “Everything that occurs in your life is part of God’s plan to wake you up.”

John Lennon wrote:
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

Successful people share one unmistakable trait – courage. In order to be successful they have all had to work incredibly hard (people often forget that) and taken on “impossible” challenges that most people wouldn’t even attempt. They can have all sorts of other psychological problems, but fear does no immobilize them. In a particularly impassioned letter to his brother Theo, Vincent Van Gogh wrote:

If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes. To be good – many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm – and that’s a lie. . . That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity. Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility.

You don’t know how paralyzing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter you can’t do anything. The canvas has an idiotic stare, and mesmerizes some painters so that they turn into idiots themselves.

Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas IS AFRAID of the truly passionate painter who dares – and who has once broken the spell of “you can’t.”

Life itself likewise always turns towards one an infinitely meaningless, discouraging, dispiriting blank side on which there is nothing, any more than on a blank canvas.

But however meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth, and who knows something, doesn’t let himself be fobbed off like that. He steps in and does something, and hangs on to that, in short, breaks, “violates” . . .

This business of life is not about becoming something different than you are. It is about accepting the truth about your specialness. And that means letting go of your beliefs of unworthiness – accepting the truth of who you are. And that can be a scary proposition!Making the jump to what I call the God Space means leaving the security and familiarity of your beliefs, no matter how dysfunctional they are, and entering a new space where there are no protections and nothing to hide behind. The good news is that there is also nothing to hide from!

God is aware of how much of big a step making this transition can be. That is why she created this process called life – to help you make the transition. Here’s how it works: in every moment you are presented with the opportunity to move to compassion – mostly toward yourself. You can either say, “Yes” to life, and embrace the moment or close down and turn away – in other words, say “No.” Then comes the next moment and you are again presented with the same opportunity. And so it goes until you get it.

If you could see what you came here to work on, you would understand the perfect relationship between your day-to-day difficulties and the lessons that God is trying to bring to you. Your day-to-day issues need to be be addressed, but until you deal with your underlying fears, they will continue to generate problems.

As Lennon said, love is essential to life. It is such a simple concept, and yet we have created this entire culture dedicated to the pursuit of money rather than happiness. That’s how afraid we are of the truth.

I think John Geiger said it best:
“There is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some people will test you, some will use you, some will bring out the best in you, but everyone will teach you something about yourself. Both positive and negative relationships teach you valuable lessons. This is an incredible step toward expanding your consciousness. The road to self-discovery requires help from others. As humans we are always seeking feedback and approval from others. That is how we learn and become better as individuals. No relationship is a waste of time. The wrong ones teach you the lessons that prepare you for the right ones. Appreciate everyone that enters your life because they are contributing to your growth and happiness.”

copyright © Blue Lotus Press 2016

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Gratitude

by Ross Bishop
I’ve been thinking recently about something the Buddha said:
“Neither fire or wind, birth nor death 
can erase our good deeds.”

We build statues and memorials to our heroes and heroic events, and yet all of them will someday turn to dust. Great monuments like The Acropolis or The Parthenon even the pyramids of Egypt, stand as stark reminders of societies whose monuments have outlived them.

But what endures? What passes to us intact from the past? Their ideas and their stories for sure, but most of all will be their deeds. Their courage in the face of overwhelming odds and insurmountable obstacles. As long as we tell their stories, read their poems or sing their songs, the likes of Gandhi, Lincoln, Ovid, MLK Jr., T.S. Eliot, John Lennon, Wm. Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Homer, Lau Tsu and the Buddha will never fade from our consciousness.

Reaching over the centuries, the stories of Gilgamesh, the Illiad, The Oddesy, The Golden Fleece, The Bhagavad Gita, The code of Hammurabi and fairy tales and legends survive to tell us of their larger than life struggles. They carry the accumulated knowledge and experiences of our predecessors about life and the values those people felt important enough to fight for.

And God forbid that we should get so busy with our iPhones, iPods, coaching practices and 7 Ways of Successful Managers, that we forget to look back and remember and be grateful for, the ones whose shoulders we stand upon. This is one of my favorite Rumi poems:

TRUTH
The Prophet Muhammad said that Truth has declared:
“I am not hidden in what is high or low
Nor in the earth nor skies nor throne.
This is certainty, O Beloved:
I am hidden in the hearts of the faithful.
If you seek me, seek me in these hearts.”
copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2015

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