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.

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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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Finding A Better Way

by Ross Bishop

You want a better life, a smoother, easier journey. What gets in your way? What keeps you stuck when you could be flying?

Enlightenment sounds like a wonderful idea – for everybody else. Enlightenment is for people who have the time to meditate, pray, read books, go to workshops and do other spiritual stuff. But what about you? You have obligations – a family, kids, a job, a partner, your siblings, your folks, soccer practice, shopping – the list of obligations goes on and on. But that’s not the real reason. That’s just what you tell folks.

The myth you tel yourself is that the spiritual path is something other than daily life. When you hold that myth it gives you the freedom to sidestep things you’d really rather not address, and that you’ve been avoiding for years, like loving everyone, for example.

Maybe you’re still angry at your folks or a former partner, pissed at your kids, or a friend who betrayed you, your former boss, Republicans, or any one of a hundred other things. . . . But if you look at it carefully, they’re not really the problem, just a symptom. Sure you don’t like what they do or what they did, but you can still love them for their humanity. So where’s the problem?

In your present state, loving those people means being vulnerable. It leaves you too open to people who can or will hurt you (again). But those feelings turn upon whether or not you can be hurt. Now, you can certainly feel hurt, your emotions can get all bent out of shape, and yes, you won’t like it. But can you really be harmed? Remember the children’s taunt, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me?” Somewhere along the path from second grade, something changed. Where was that?

Kids don’t really care much what other kids think. But when they hit about 10 or 12, all that changes. In the teen and pre-teen years kids turn into zombies – dressing alike, thinking alike, and becoming enormously susceptible to group think; or they rebel, and then conform to rebel values. So at a very vulnerable and impressionable time, what others think and feel – group acceptance – becomes a really big deal.

And although we grow up, we don’t completely loose that instinct. Walk down the Embarcadero or Wall Street and you can hardly tell the “suits” apart. Harley guys, cowboys, blue collar workers, rednecks, office workers, gym rats, new agers – all have dress codes, standards of behavior and commonly held beliefs, that come out of the herd mentality established in the teen years.

We all want to be liked. But needing be liked is a different matter altogether. Being accepted is something most people will sacrifice their individuality for in order to have a relationship or fit with a group so as to not feel alone. What others think or feel, regardless of what we say about it, still has the power to hurt us. It affects how open and vulnerable we are willing to be. It speaks to how solidly we are grounded in our own beliefs.

So, when I say, “Love everyone,” we can do that more easily for people we don’t know. And we can do it (mostly) for people we feel safe with. But woe upon those we don’t totally trust and who are close enough to “hurt” us!

Now there was a time when you could be hurt. As a child if the adults in your world didn’t love you, you could die. Infants in orphanages that are not held or rocked, simply die. That may sound extreme, but to a child, survival depends on externals, it is primal. The child intuitively knows that if her parents were to withdraw their love, she’d be toast!

Today, you can take care of yourself. But if your inner one wasn’t allowed to develop and individuate herself, her childhood dependency never ended. And that’s why so many people in our world feel vulnerable!

Today, you cannot be harmed. No one can hurt you without your permission. But you’re inner one doesn’t know that. And that’s the rub. She gives them permission.

Now, you can choose to ignore what’s going on and just go through your days as though nothing was happening. But that has a price. It’s called stress. We are coming to realize that a prolonged period of stress can produce exactly the same physical and psychological reactions as PTSD does to combat soldiers. Your body has been through a war too, and the consequences of that are not good!

Daily life, with all it’s bumps and bruises is your spiritual path. The stuff you do to withhold, to shut down, to create distance between yourself and other people is the very stuff you need to work on in order to come home. It’s not monks in robes, or bells, or candles, or chants and mantras. Daily life IS your spiritual path. It may not always be pretty, but it’s real.

copyright © Blue Lotus Press 2016

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The Two Yous

by Ross Bishop

Did you know that there were two yous? One is the person that your partner or friends know. Certainly you are not perfect, but this is a person who means well, is kind, compassionate and understanding. Now it is possible that you don’t let this “you” show very often, but that is because of the other “you.”

The second you is the one you think you are. This is the person you see when you look in the mirror. She comes from your experiences – the hurts & pains, the blows of life. She has experienced anxiety, she can feel vulnerable, angry, defensive and closed off. She can be withdrawn and dark. She knows fear. She is the one you put out front when you feel anxious.

The reason there are two “yous” is that each of you comes from a different place. The real “you,” the one your friends see, is from God. She is beautiful, kind, loving and gracious. She is considerate, generous and understanding.

The other you comes from your life experiences – she’s not so gracious or forgiving. She knows fear and pain. Your parents, former lovers, teachers, ministers, former friends – all gave you messages that some part of you was not OK, that there was something “wrong” with you. And to this day, you believe them. This forms the foundation for this other “you.”

So what’s the difference? Why are there two parts? Stated simply, a part of you does not know or accept who you really are. She does not, cannot, accept your God connection. And when pushed, she retreats into fear and ego. This part gets scared when she is asked to open up and be loving. She does not feel deserving of love herself. As a result, she feels vulnerable to the insults and abuses of life. She is willing to believe the things others say about her.

Now, there is a reason for all this. You see, God wants you to find the truth about yourself. But because you have free will, she cannot just give it to you. You must come to this realization yourself. So she created this business of life on earth so you would become aware of these “vulnerable parts” so that you might choose to heal them.

The way this works is that those parts will create conflicts with others and conflict within yourself until you get tired of them controlling your life. Then you will examine them and decide whether or not they are valid. When you do that, you leave your false beliefs behind and move closer to the God Space.

Until then, you must live as two people, with one creating occasional conflict with the other and you living in a certain amount of pain. Ignore them long enough and the emotional pain turns into physical pain and eventually to disease. Then you have the opportunity again to surrender. There is no way out. It’s a question of when you surrender to the truth. Now is always better than later.

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016

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Your Family

by Ross Bishop

(Excerpted from “A Shaman’s Path To Inner Healing,” a fourteen part video series to help you heal yourself, to be released this spring.)
There is a good chance you’ll spend some time with your family over the holidays. Will that be a good experience or something to survive?

What is it about families that can make them so darned stressful? Ram Dass said, “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”

It’s rather simple, really. You came to earth to resolve some “soft spots” in your consciousness. When pushed, you tend to move to fear and doubt instead of being able to hold center. Your life experiences on earth are to help you resolve those feelings.

In order to foster that process, you chose family members who would best help you accomplish your goals. They of course, could best do that through aggravation. And it’s a two-way street. They help you, you help them. I am grossly oversimplifying a complicated process, but I think you get the point. They’ll give you what you need, but rarely in a form that is pleasant. It’s not supposed to be.

Think about it, when things are pleasant, you tend to ignore them. But if your feathers get ruffled, that’s another story! However, we tend to get lost in all the “feather ruffling,” and miss (or ignore) the lessons The Universe is trying to bring us. So family members are there to create sufficient aggravation that you eventually get tired of hurting, step away from the drama and reconfigure your beliefs so that you are no longer triggered. That’s what life on Earth is about.

In Journey To Enlightenment we established a law:
“Everything You Do Not Love Will Become A Lesson.”

That’s The Universe’s way of insuring that every negative belief you hold will eventually bite you in the butt. Ignore it, and the eventual price is disease, which gives you a second opportunity to surrender the same beliefs. The Universe will not be denied. It’s, “Pay me now or pay me later,” but there is no getting around the task.

So as you prepare for that family holiday gathering, look at what bothers you. That’s the fodder for your work. And it’s not about them. Whatever you are feeling is your reaction. Own it and work with it.

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2015

 

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Solutions To Gun Violence

by Ross Bishop

This may not go down easily, but let’s accept one thing, whether for protection or as a threat, the purpose of a gun is to kill another human being. It has no other purpose.* Guns have become the focal point of a perfect storm in society. No other technology in human history has received the resources and attention as the gun. It is an incredibly sophisticated technology, attracting collectors, serious adherents and also those who would do harm to themselves or others. The gun is also the ultimate macho (power trip). And although guns do not kill people, a gun makes killing so easy as to make the distinction academic.

Another factor contributing to the storm over guns is our refusal to provide meaningful help to the many angry, depressed and otherwise troubled people who live amongst us. They range from depressed housewives, troubled students and business executives to ghetto kids who feel they have no future. Easy access to guns make the 33,636 lost lives each year (21,175 suicides and 11,208 homicides), a truly tragic loss.

The only way to ultimately solve the problem is to ban guns, as every other civilized nation has done. The facts are incontestable – homicides and suicides drop dramatically wherever guns are banned. It isn’t that suicidal people, for example, just find other ways, those suicides just don’t happen. Same with homicides. Homicide rates in domestic violence cases escalates dramatically when a gun is present. Guns simply make the taking of a life, your own or someone else’s, too easy.

Given the present tenor of the (dominantly) male gun population, an outright ban on guns is unlikely. But, short of that, there are several things that could be done to mitigate the lethality of the situation. Gun control itself is not an expensive or overly complicated proposition.

Attempting to identify and help prospective suicides, murderers and mass shooters is more problematic, from several perspectives. It would mean going to the person and saying in effect, “We think there is a high probability you might hurt yourself or others. Therefore we must . . . “ Although not unheard of in law, that approach is contrary to our basic approach to civil liberties, but given the increasing lethality of assault weapons and the tremendous number of gun suicides, we may have little choice but to change. It can be argued that we should be providing help to these people anyway, especially considering the $230 billion economic loss to society each year caused by depression alone, plus the $50 billion loss due to guns. Unfortunately, those costs don’t show up on any budget.

Probably the most significant change is that gun ownership needs to become a privilege rather than a right. Gun ownership needs to become more like having a car where the owner must be trained and qualified for skill and safety and the vehicle insured to compensate for accidents. But because of the special lethality of the gun, the mental stability of the gun owner will also have to be a consideration.

Although representing a small fraction (5%) of gun owners, the radical stranglehold on the legislative process held by the NRA (the mouthpiece for gun manufacturers, a $6 billion industry and the 131,806 gun dealers (4 times more than grocery stores) must be challenged. “Under (Wayne) LaPierre’s leadership, the NRA has not only dramatically expanded its ties to the gun manufacturers, but has also linked the NRA to the far right, including the Tea Party. LaPierre is a regular presence at gatherings of extreme right-wing groups, whose paranoid warnings about the threat of tyranny and Obama’s secret plan to confiscate all guns are meant to scare Americans into buying more guns and joining the NRA.

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A 2013 Pew Research Center poll found that 85 percent of Americans support background checks for private gun sales, 80 percent support preventing people with mental illness from purchasing guns, 67 percent support the creation of a federal database to track gun sales, 58% percent supported a ban on semi-automatic weapons, and 54 percent support a ban on the sale of assault-style weapons. Pew also found that even 74 percent of households with NRA members supported stiffer background checks for private gun sales.

In addition, to the paranoid and irrational NRA, the limitations forced upon society by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the name of personal civil rights, severely restricts the ability of the psychological community and teachers, ministers, the police and other public officials from identifying troubled individuals for treatment and care. The ACLU’s zealotry concerning the involuntary confinement of the mentally ill, has simply gone overboard, and as a result, puts many of these people and society at risk. Today the only reason a person can be legally detained is if they pose an imminent threat to themselves or to others. The other “ticking time bombs” cannot be touched.

In order to address the problem of gun violence we must address three problems. They must be dealt with individually because they are not related – suicides, homicides and mass shootings. There is a fourth issue, the paranoia of gun owners, which ends up affecting the entire discussion.

Having easy access to guns in the home is a recipe for suicides, domestic violence, conflict with neighbors, accidents involving children, etc. Allowing guns on the street is simply asking for trouble from street gangs, criminals and self styled vigilantes. In order to deal with these problems, long standing myths about guns and gun ownership will have to be changed.

The first myth is that a gun provides protection. This is the psychological benefit that gun owners claim, but it is not born out by the facts. Although most research has been effectively blocked by the NRA, what research we do have, tells us conclusively that having a gun in the home does not provide protection against burglars or other intruders and it creates an incredibly unsafe environment for wives, children, neighbors and other family members.

Then there is the myth of concealed carry  - that civilians – even trained ones – will be competent to fire weapons in a crisis situation. This is simply not borne out by the facts. Witness the recent grandmother vigilante who shot up a Home Depot parking lot trying to apprehend a couple of shoplifters. Even the police, who are trained to deal with these situations, are not particularly effective when it comes to really doing it. Gun range practice doesn’t provide the training for the stress of a live shooter situation.

Mass murders present a unique set of dilemmas. It is literally impossible to single out even the prospective shooters, from the millions of angry and frustrated people who fit the profile perfectly but who will never pick up a gun. One must keep in mind that we are trying to pick out twenty guys from several million prospects.

If we are to do anything in this regard, and this will be hotly contested, we will have to sweep through society with a fairly wide dustpan looking for troubled people. Along with the merely depressed and angry we would identify prospective suicides, homicides and shooters. From one point of view this would be a good thing, because you could then provide help to many troubled and hurting individuals, but as I said earlier, it raises a host of civil rights issues. Actually, more importantly, it raises questions about our social infrastructure, which we have been unwilling to address.

Given these considerations, I wish to propose a set of compromises. These will not present a significant inconvenience to law abiding gun owners and will reduce (not eliminate) gun violence. However, it must be recognized that once a gun as allowed into the home, it is very difficult to prevent suicides or domestic violence. And as these are significant considerations, these are risks that society will have to accept. Otherwise gun owners face the prospect of an outright weapons ban. The compromise is that owners get to keep their guns but must accept some restrictions on their use and sale. Gun ownership will not be a  right per. se., but rather a  privilege, which will be regulated.

There is no right or privilege that is absolute. We have freedom of speech, but you still cannot yell “Fire,” in a crowded theater. We set restrictions on who can drive a car, regulate drinking, cell phone use, speeding, reckless driving. We set manufacturing safety standards and require the use of seat belts. Drivers must pass competency tests, have good eyesight and know the rules of the road.

A few vocal gun owners are going to howl. These are the paranoids. The problem really isn’t about guns but on any restriction to, “their freedoms.” These people live in “a never-never land” of no restrictions, and given the increasing lethality of guns, society can simply no longer tolerate their unrestricted access and use.

THE PROPOSALS:

1. Guns Will NOT Be Licensed.

Licensing will not prevent gun problems and is an unwelcome intrusion into the lives of 99% of gun owners who are otherwise responsible people.

2. Gun Owners Will Be Licensed.

In order to have a gun, just like driving a car, the owner can either demonstrate proficiency or take a gun safety class. In addition, all gun owners will be required to pass an examination for mental stability (see below). Fees for this license will be used to offset any costs of the program. There will be fingerprint verification.

3. No Civilian Guns Will Be Allowed On The Street.

(Hunting, target practice areas and gun stores to be excepted.)
 This an attempt to reduce homicides. All civilian guns are to be kept at home, not in cars. There will no longer be concealed or open carry. Guns may only be transported under secure lock and key (not just a carry case). There will be extremely harsh punishment for any person found in violation of this regulation.

3. Guns Kept At Home Will Be Unloaded and Stored In A Gun Safe.

This is to reduce suicides and accidents. If you are going to have a gun, you buy a safe to keep it in. Proof of safe could be made a requirement of a gun sale. The present designs of trigger locks are inadequate and can actually be dangerous if a gun is loaded. More effective locks, (perhaps built in at manufacture), need to be developed.

4. Gun Owners Will Be Required To Have Liability Insurance.

This is to provide compensation to victims of accidents and homicides. It is also wise for gun owner’s in order to reduce their liability.

5. All Gun Sales Are To Be Registered And Reported Through A Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL).

We must control the flow of guns to both potential felons and  the mentally troubled. That is done in part through the regulation of all sales. The logical place to do this would through FFL (gun stores), but that industry will have to be cleaned up first. There are some stores who make a huge profit selling guns illegally. Undercover investigators in NY reported that 62% of gun stores would have made illegal sales to unqualified buyers under even the present regulations, which are insipid, to say the least. There would be HUGE penalties (felony) for unlicensed sales and for “straw man” third party sales.

The role of the FFL would be to verify the conditions at the time of sale or transfer. This could easily be done at gun shows and gun shops for individual sales. The FFL would be responsible to verify the weapon’s authenticity, and certify that the buyer has liability insurance, safety training and background verification as well as administer the mental proficiency test (see below). Some states  already do this with car registrations and sales. A transfer fee could be charged to offset any costs.

6. All Gun Buyers (Or Recipients) Would Be Required To Pass A Background Check.

Background checks would be comprehensive. The present NICS system (managed by the FBI) would be enhanced. States and municipalities would be required to report convictions for violent crime, domestic violence, drug and alcohol violations, animal cruelty, gang conviction, DUI, property crime and other felony convictions. The results of mental stability tests (below) would also be recorded.

In addition, therapists, psychiatrists, ministers, teachers, police officers social workers and other public officials would be required to report individuals that could potentially represent a danger to themselves or to others, cases of serious depression, anti-social behavior, violence and gang activity.

7. Anti-Depressants and Guns Will Not Be Allowed To Coexist.

Proscribers of any anti-depressant would be required to report the prescription to the F.B.I. and to inquire as to the availability of guns in the home. Proscribers will withhold prescription until all weapons were surrendered to the police or to a secure facility outside the home.

8. Test For Mental Stability.

 All owners of guns would be required to pass a test of mental stability, under the auspices of the NICS and administered by the FFL. The instrument, available over the internet would be designed to identify high risk people (homicide, suicide, shooters) to disqualify them from gun ownership. Cost would be covered by a nominal transfer fee. This would not be 100% effective, but would serve as a partial solution.

This is going to raise significant civil rights issues because many people who would be disqualified would never resort to violence, but under the circumstances, given the increasing lethality of guns, would seem a reasonable precaution. Whether or not this information should be funneled into the mental health system is another matter for debate. There would be an appeals process.

7.  All Gun Thefts Must Be Reported.

8. Institute For Gun Safety

A national organization, under the authority of the NICS would be created to conduct gun safety classes and to promote gun safety generally. A research institute would also be created to study and disseminate technological enhancements to gun manufacturers and recommend gun safety legislation in order to make guns safer. This group would be responsible for the development of the mental stability test.

*For the purposes of this proposal I am separating guns from rifles Especially rifles that are designed for hunting. Because assault weapons are intended for killing people, I am arbitrarily categorizing them as guns. I will leave it to someone else to develop a better definition.

copyright © Blue Lotus Press 2015

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