Parents and Children

by Ross Bishop

We assume that a child comes into the world with a clean slate. That’s both true and not. In a child’s conscious awareness, everything is new. His or her immediate circle is a world of wonder, newness and exploration. There is little conscious awareness of anything outside his or her world. But at another level, The Universe is busy creating exactly the experiences the child will need to further the development of his or her unfinished awareness. We can debate as to whether this is actually a part of the child’s unconscious, but it really doesn’t matter because either way, it’s going to profoundly effect the child’s life.

So here’s the way it works: You come in needing to learn to love yourself. The Universe selects a set of parents for you who have difficulty loving unconditionally. The result is a difficult experience for everyone. You come away feeling conditionally loved and your parents have been challenged beyond their comfort limits. That is the perfection of the process. It pushes on everyone’s boundaries.

Let’s say you emerge from childhood being needy, insecure, angry or whatever. That is a direct reflection of your parent’s inability to give love and your predictable reaction. For their part, they were reluctant to deal with their issues, so they passed them off to you as “faults.” It wasn’t just that you were shy, or noisy or messy, it was that something was wrong with you. Your part in this was to let their judgments hook you into your shame. That it is exactly what you came here to work on, so we can see that this is not coincidental.

This can seem like a pretty screwed up way to run a universe. People get hurt, childhoods are wrecked, families are torn apart – except when you consider one factor: free will. In order for your newly found awareness to “stick,” you have to come to it on your own, and you must hold it deeply. That cannot be given to you, as advantageous as sometimes that might seem.

When you have free will, the most powerful way for you to learn something is to first get you to believe an untruth, and then let your life experiences lead you to the truth. When this happens you will hold that truth like nothing else, it will be unshakeable. This process however, as you undoubtedly already know, is not a walk in the park.

Because we buy into our shame, we get stuck in believing the “not-true” part of the experience. And we can hold onto our feelings of unworthiness with great tenacity. Besides, being inadequate gives you something to hide behind. Living in the truth means standing in the light, something we have no experience with and that we don’t really trust.

In order to change, you must confront the negative things you believe about yourself. But right or wrong, you have built your whole life around those untruths. And that means replacing the untruths with the truth. And as advantageous as that may seem, it means replacing what is familiar, even though a negative, with an unknown and we are creatures of habit. Also, regardless of what we are told, we’re just not sure how God feels about our past behavior. But this is an important part of your learning process, too.

copyright © Blue Lotus Press 2013

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Irenaus

by Ross Bishop

In the early part of the second century, Irenaus, Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, had his hands full. Christians were being tortured and fed to the lions. The faithful had been scattered to the four winds by the violent Roman reprisals to the Jewish revolt of 66 AD. Jerusalem had been sacked, Solomon’s Temple destroyed and the Jews, amongst them many early Christians, were being hunted down and exterminated, sometimes whole villages at a time. James had been stoned in Jerusalem, Paul had been beheaded and Peter had been crucified.

Prior to the Jewish revolt, James, Jesus’ brother, had built a sizable Christian community amongst the Jews of the Holy Land. Laying claim to “true faith,” and firmly entrenched in Judaism, the export of the faith to gentiles was difficult. After all, Jesus was a Jew and the Apostles were Jews, “The Last Supper” was a passover meal, etc. Their point was if you wanted to become a Christian, first become a Jew. They had called the “apostle” Paul to Jerusalem and humiliated him for his unsanctioned preaching and for spreading Christ’s teachings to gentiles.

There were others like a man called Montanus, who also had never met Jesus or studied with the Apostles, yet claimed religious truth through visions. These “later day apostles” created sects, laying claim to the true faith through their visions. Other groups had become followers of a particular Gospel’s teachings like Enoch or Thomas, leading to more schisms – sometimes even outright conflict. Most were sincere, but in Irenaus’ view, misguided. Others, like today’s televangelists, were only in it for the ego gratification and the money. It also helped that Irewnaus saw many of these competing views as corrupted by satan and therefore heretical.

At the foundation of much of this diversity was a fundamental disagreement in the Gospels themselves that has plagued the church even to the present day. The Apostle John saw the Christ as a manifestation of God. True faith, John maintained, could only be attained through Christ, or by implication, his appointed agents. On the other hand, Thomas, ridiculed in John’s Gospel as “doubting Thomas”, held that Christ was human and therefore faith was available to any sincere seeker without the need of a priest or other intercessor.

Irenaus, who had studied under Polycarp, a student of John’s who had been burned at the stake, saw Thomas’ Gospel as a real source of trouble. It didn’t matter where spiritual truth lay, individual interpretation would lead to interminable schisms and conflict. Irenaus’ felt that this would doom the early church to certain failure.

Irenaus’ wrote a five volume text, Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies). It is a detailed attack on Gnostic beliefs. As one of the first great church theologians, Irenaus emphasized the traditional role of the Church, especially the episcopate, Scripture, and tradition. While the Gnostics claimed a secret oral tradition that came from Jesus himself, Irenaus maintained that the bishops, taught or at least blessed by the Apostles, provided a more reliable interpretation of Scripture, even though John’s Gospel had already been shown to contain material not supported by the other Gospels or the historical record, like virgin birth, the Jerusalem manger story, the Magi, etc.

Although none of the Gospels can be called authoritative (all had been set down many years even after the Apostle’s deaths) the word went out, John was to be the center of the new theology along with Matthew, Mark, Luke and the curious book of Revelations. All other (competing) texts were not only not to be followed, any copies in existence were to be destroyed. And by this time, several centuries after the crucifixion, there were quite a few of them! Never mind that many of them had more credible standing than the selected Gospels. Furthermore, to shut down the flow of competing ideas, an end was declared to the Age of Prophesy. Prophesies continued, but now they had to be sanctioned.

Simply put, if it didn’t agree with the doctrine of John, (the centerpiece of Irenau’s faith) it was out. Subsequent gatherings of the Bishops of the new faith were to endorse this approach, (although not without disagreement). It would take several more centuries, but interpretation of the Gospel became firmly ensconced in the bishops of the Roman Church and the Gospel of John, with its emphasis on centralized authority, would come to dominate Christianity.

To show how far this went, as late as the Middle Ages, possession of even a single page of scripture by a layman was a sin punishable by death. Competing ideas – heresy – would be deal with by burning at the stake.

There was dissent, and it came mainly from a group of Christian monasteries in Egypt who were firmly committed to Thomas’ doctrine of the individual, personal, connection to God. It was probably some of these monks, in defiance of the Church edict to destroy competing Apocryphical works, who sealed copies of them up in a 6′ earthenware jar and buried them in a cave near Nag Hammadi, Egypt. These hidden manuscripts were discovered in 1947 by young Bedouin goatherds. (Similar texts were also found about the same time on the West Bank of the Jordan River at Qumran, known as The Dead Sea Scrolls).

The Nag Hammadi manuscripts confirm much of what is in the Gospels, but also bring to us a complimentary but in some ways significantly different interpretation of scripture. It was this different interpretation that Bishop Irenaus and the men who followed him wanted excluded because, in part, it threatened their centralized control of doctrine.

The one remaining barrier to “Westernization” of the emerging faith was to free it from its Jewish roots. It was a relatively simple matter for the bishops of Rome or Constantinople to blame the Jews for Jesus’ execution and claim therefore that all Jews had “blood on their hands.” Neat propaganda trick, eh? Thus the early Christian community was free to develop as a patriarchal, Western-dominated religion, freed from the truth, competing ideas and outside influence. Eventually that rigidity would corrupt it and lead to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century and the current crises of pedophile priests, abortion, gay marriage and the ordination of women.

 copyright © Blue Lotus Press 2014

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The Stages of Life

by Ross Bishop

When Ramanaha Maharshi sought to explain life, he used the analogy of a movie. He described life as happening on a movie screen – fleeting, transient images that were not “real”, but gave the appearance of reality. “Reality” he maintained, took place somewhere else.

I want to expand a bit on Maharshi’s analogy. But instead of a movie, I’m going to use the example of a play. In this analogy, you are both in the audience and an actor.

The actor is somewhat unaware of the audience and is busy playing her part. She has donned her costume – a body. That means she will have to protect it – from harm, disease, etc. and that she will become attached to it – especially to it’s harm or loss. It also means that she will feel pain and anxiety. Having a physical form also gives her a sense of separation, and although this creates a sense of safety, it also leads to loneliness.

The title of the play is “Life”. The plot of the play has to do with the growth and development of your consciousness. The script consists of lessons (you call them problems). Resolving your problems (love is the only answer) will develop your awareness, deepen your consciousness and bring you closer to enlightenment.

The silent but profound influence in the play is the role played by your feeling separated from the Creator. When you come to earth and take on a body, you must spiritually disconnect from Source. This is intended. It surfaces your latent feelings of abandonment and rejection, leading in turn to feelings of vulnerability and self-doubt. You have come to earth to resolve these issues. And they must be resolved if you are to move forward in your development. This would not be possible if you knew that you were safely ensconced in His care.

The first act of the play is about your childhood. You brought in a set of growth challenges to work on – places where you do not move energy well, like unworthiness, shame or self love. Your life circumstances will be perfectly crafted to give you opportunities to work on these issues.

The way this works is that your parents, because of their own unresolved fears, trigger these latent issues. This leads you to believe things about yourself that are not true – things like unworthiness, unlovability or shame. These perfectly conform to what you brought in to work on (some coincidence, huh?).

Your parents also share their social values and morays with you, which as a trusting child, you accept and try to practice. Many of these are good, others not so. The bottom line is that you are given exactly what you need to effect the transformation of your consciousness.

The dominant emotion of the first act is fear, expressed through the ego. We create the ego because we think it will keep us safe. It separates us from others, giving us a temporary feeling of security, but really it puts us at greater risk for feeling abandoned and rejected. The ego manifests through the limiting beliefs you hold about yourself.

The second act of the play begins with school and progresses though young adulthood. This is when you leave to protective umbrella of your parents and start to fend for yourself in the wider world. In that world other values conflict with what you have been taught and what you have come to believe.

This is a time of searching, of questioning, of being caught between what you have come to believe, especially about yourself, and the truth. It is typically a time of exploration, of angst and considerable confusion. You either resolve the conflict and grow from it or retreat back into disillusionment and pain. We see the ending of many first marriages at this period of people’s lives.

Act three, adulthood, brings you to the conflict, sometimes a life and death struggle, between the false beliefs you cling to and the truth. Surrender generally does not come easily. Lifelong beliefs supported by a powerful ego can be very difficult to dislodge. This period can be one of great pain and confusion as the conflict between old beliefs, supported by years of negative experiences conflict with the truth. There can be considerable internal stress as the two clash.

Resistance and denial are common. In this stage some people are literally brought to their knees because of their unwillingness to accept the truth. For some this will manifest physically as disease or for others, emotionally as intolerable stress. The situation literally becomes, “change or die.” Even though these people resist with all their might, the truth will eventually win out in spite of their fear.

The wisdom gained from these human experiences is not lost on the observer in the audience. To the actor, absorbed in the drama of the play and the worldly concerns of the ego, the larger lessons of her experiences may not be readily apparent. But to the other, these life lessons have deepened her perception, allowed her to live closer to the truth and reduced her need to be defended. She has also increased her level of awareness, leading to greater compassion.

Let’s use the concept of love to see how this works. In the ego state, love relates to form – it objectifies – “I love you,” or “You love me.” But when you transcend the ego, the need for a form – something to objectify – ceases to be relevant. Love is no longer connected to a person or an idea. In fact, it has no thoughts connected too it at all. Real love is beyond language, it is simply, “I love.”

We are taught that we need to awaken. It would be more accurate to say that we need to take the risk and overcome our fear so that we can become more compassionate. At present we are too wrapped up in our fear of rejection to take that risk. We need to feel safe from the idea that we can be harmed, but that will change. . .

copyright © Blue Lotus Press 2014

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No Wounds

by Ross Bishop

I was in pain. The reasons aren’t important, the pain was.

I had asked for help, and the response came calmly, without emotion and with great compassion. Had these words come from a fellow shaman or even some guru, I might have paused, but this was not the time for that. This insight needed to be accepted with all the reverence and respect I could muster, because it was coming directly from The Creator.

His four simple words would tear at the very essence of my beingness and redefine my years of shamanic practice. I had spent those years healing my own wounds and helping others to heal theirs and in a few short words, The Creator would move me beyond my previous understanding to a more profound and insightful place.

In four simple words He would challenge me to redefine how I saw myself and how I had seen life up to that point. The shift that He proposed could significantly impact everything that happened here on earth.

What was the insight The Creator offered me? In the face of my pain, He simply said,

“There are no wounds.”

He was not denying my pain or my right to have it, but the message was it was my resistance, not the situation, that was hurting me. The Creator’s message was clear, the choice to hurt or not hurt was mine. It was perfectly OK to go into pain if that was what I needed to do, but it was also largely a waste of energy.

The underlying message was that I was engaged in a needless exercise. I was clinging to a mythology, to a set of beliefs that had no basis in reality. The truth is, none of us can be truly harmed.

That is not to say that life doesn’t hurt, (and I am setting aside physical abuse here, because that operates under different principles), but it is because we cling to our egos and our beliefs of victimization and vulnerability, that we get hurt.

We bring our vulnerabilities to earth with us. It is what we come here to resolve. And until we move toward resolution, life can hurt like the devil! But it is an illusion caused not by your life situations but by your clinging to the beliefs that you attach to those situations.

There are some who will read these words and feel discounted by what I write. Today these people need their wounds, they need their pain. They feel vulnerable and need their hurt and anger in order to go on. I certainly did. I often felt that life was unfair and I needed my pain to stoke the fire that burned within me, that allowed me to survive. I also know that pain brings all of us to the place where we can change and grow.

I do not know where or when the turn-around was that allowed me to see my pain as the gift for learning that it was. I do not yet know what it takes for an individual to turn from a lifetime of hurt to see their woundings for the gifts they can be. It’s not easy and it takes a great deal of work.

Do I have regrets? You bet! I have hurt people. And yet today I see the perfection of it all and know that things had to be exactly as they were in order for me to learn what I came here to do. The same was true for them. I don’t like that I’ve hurt others. But here we are, all of us, locked in a grand embrace of perfect learning. It has taken me a while to embrace this truth, but I can be pretty stubborn.

Things have changed a bit since 2012. Today it is easier for people to make changes in their lives than ever before. Even people who have been on the spiritual path a long time report making changes in months that took much longer before. I do not know what will happen for those who are still asleep.

Whatever path you choose, recognize that your pain comes from your reluctance to embrace and move with The Universe’s greater truth. It isn’t about “them,” and it isn’t about God, your pain is your creation. You are still clinging to the beliefs and behaviors that were created in your childhood. And even after you work on yourself, you still aren’t going to like the situation, but at the same time, it doesn’t have to cut you to the bone. After all,

“There are no wounds.”

copyright © Blue Lotus Press 2014

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“I Want”

by Ross Bishop

“I want” may be the most debilitating phrase in the English language. Of course, we all want things – to eat, to be safe and warm, to be cared about, to grow spiritually. But when we mix the ego into it, wanting can take on a whole other dimension. “I want to be happy,” “I want love,” or “I want abundance,” become much more than simple expressions of desire. They seem harmless, but they all say, “I don’t have what I need and I must get it from some external source.” None of that, of course, is true.

For example, just about everyone wants to be a better person. But, you either do it or you don’t. “Wanting” in this context, is a way to avoid making the ego sacrifice necessary to be more loving, for example. And this is true for all false wanting. If your not “doing it” you are holding back, fearful to step in and take the risk necessary to make that happen.

So you say, “I want more love in my life”. The unspoken message is, “I’m afraid to give up my ego and be vulnerable so that a relationship can happen.” The same thing is true with wanting more abundance. The unspoken message is, “I am reluctant to love myself that much.” That’s why we want the white knight to come along and sweep us up, so we don’t have to take out the garbage.

Let’s take the abundance thing. It’s a common theme for life coaches and you see quite a bit written about the “Law of Attraction” these days. Let’s say you “want” abundance. First, that tells us that you are not happy with your present situation. Fine. Then change it. Your present situation exists because you have refused the abundance The Universe freely offers you. But you want it on your terms or maybe you’re waiting for someone to give it to you. Having abundance means making a sacrifice. It means giving something up that you think has value – your self protection – and taking the risk to fail.

The dissatisfaction you feel is there to motivate you to deal with whatever you are doing (example: not loving yourself) to push abundance away. “Wanting” is a way to externalize the problem and avoid dealing with the ego issues that get in the way of your natural abundance. The problem is you stay stuck. But that’s not all. “I want” is guaranteed to create suffering. It says, “I do not accept what is and I am willing to change, but only on my terms.” Which really means, “I’m not willing to give up the sanctuary of my ego protection.”

“Success” in life means taking risks. It means challenging the beliefs you hold about yourself and finding out that they are really untrue. But that means taking risks, it means being vulnerable, it means sacrifice. But the wonderful thing is that you are never asked to sacrifice anything real. You can’t give those things up anyway. All you can sacrifice is the false stuff you hang on to that gives you the pretense of security. The really “good stuff” is out there – but its beyond your ego.

By the way, when I’m talking about abundance, I’m not necessarily talking about money. Money is a man made thing, and it’s fraught with problems. It takes a developed consciousness to handle wealth and remain centered. The Universe would prefer that you concentrate on real things like love, compassion, friends, helping others, etc. Those don’t risk your slipping into the ego issues of greed, power and narcissism.

And the thing to keep in mind is that if you don’t do it today, you’re going to be asked, more forcefully, to do it tomorrow. Hanging on to false beliefs about yourself is not an option. Sure, you can get by today, but you cannot dodge the issue forever. And, facing some fear today is one heck of a lot easier than dealing with the consequences of resistance.

 copyright © Blue Lotus Press 2014

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Being Angry

by Ross Bishop

Do you get upset easily? Do other people set you off? Do you get angry, explosively so, at your partner? Worse yet, are you unremittingly harsh on yourself? What about other drivers? Or, conversely, are you withdrawn and totally timid? Do you live in abject fear of being hurt if you speak your mind?

A certain amount of anger is normal and healthy. It helps establish healthy boundaries. But, if you lose it, if those around you fear “those episodes”, if you’re reaction is the equivalent of a nuclear meltdown when something goes wrong,then there is something more going on, and it would do well to pay attention to it. Conversely, covering up or hiding your feelings is not healthy either.

First of all, you need to understand that your rage or fear has little to do with the present circumstance. The other person just happens to be in the crosshairs of an old wound. Nobody gets that angry or fearful without sufficient provocation and
it is the imbalance in your reaction that tells us that something more is going on here. Other drivers will do stupid things and politicians are corrupt, but the pain we are talking about is old.

If your inner child is feeling that kind of rage, she had good reason. Inner children are never irrational. Inner children live in the past. Something happened to cause her response. Something abusive. Maybe it was physical abuse, emotional abuse, possibly even sexual abuse. It would take something of that magnitude to cause your present reaction.

If something happened to you, until you heal the wound, your only protection is your rage or collapse. They create psychological distance between you and a world that your inner one judges to be unsafe. She felt powerless then and she feels powerless now to someone who she feels could violate her boundaries. And I am the last person who would seek to take that protection away from you, because until you heal you need it!

The problem is that rage can keep you from healing. It doesn’t matter that the original perpetrator is no longer a part of your life or that what happened was 30 or 40 years ago, until your wounds are healed, the effects of those events and her reactions are current.

If you’re sitting on a boatload of anger at someone who took advantage of you, that anger is likely to boil over onto safer targets. It’s a lot easier to be incensed about some politician or God or a some other driver than to deal with a parent or relative about what happened. And, you get to wrap yourself in moral righteousness and therefore don’t have to address what’s really going on with you either. But that does nothing to resolve your issue.

When you were young, you didn’t do anything wrong. In situations of physical or sexual abuse or feelings of being abandoned because of adoption, for example, you did not do anything! You were a victim. That’s what generates the rage. It’s the inherent unfairness of the thing. You were a victim of circumstance. Most victims blame themselves in part, and have a hard time believing they truly were innocent, but it’s true.

Since that time, your feelings about yourself undoubtedly led to a poor self image and a succession of poor choices, which in turn, further reinforced your bad feelings about yourself. But if a railroad engine jumps the tracks, the cars are obliged to follow. You acted as you had been taught. One of the hardest things for victims to accept is that regardless of how they feel, they were still victims. There never was anything wrong with you.

What to do? Swallow your pride, face your shame and get help. The feelings associated with abuse are severe enough (witness your present reaction) that dealing with this by yourself is pretty tough. You need that guidance of an experienced healer. Now, I’m prejudiced, I’d send you to a good shaman because we are trained to deal with these issues.

__________________

More About Anger

After posting my recent article on anger I got an email from my friend George Cohen, who teaches anger management. George brought to my intention some things I had inferred but that perhaps I could have made more clear:

We label two behaviors as anger when really we should separate them. Real anger serves to bring us together. It says, “I love you enough to tell you that I don’t like what you did.” It is a primary response to injustice – feeling cheated, used or abused for example. Abandonment and rejection can also fall into this category, although they get muddled by the other form of what we call anger, which really isn’t anger at all.

False anger, technically an aspect of rage, is what we most commonly see. This is a secondary reaction to protect us from feelings of insecurity we are afraid to expose. That includes things like fear, hurt, vulnerability, shame and guilt. False anger creates walls. It serves to create distance between us because we are afraid to let others see our “defects.” False anger is fear based.

This duality, by the way, can be found in all emotions. Every real emotion has a false side that mimics the real thing. Real love, for example, creates intimacy, brings us closer together. False love, based in neediness and insecurity, will ultimately drive us apart. What can be confusing is that the false stuff seems like the real thing. On the surface it looks like love or anger, but with a little digging . . . Sadly, few people in our society know or experience real love. Like anger, we mostly see the false kind.

Legitimate anger tends to mirror the offense, where with false anger the response will be far in excess of the immediate cause. Because it is driven by vulnerability, a false anger reaction can be quite explosive. That’s because with false emotions we aren’t dealing with the present situation, but rather seek to protect ourselves from a childhood vulnerability that has not been healed. With false love, for example, we seek to cover over our “inadequacies” through relationship.

Let’s say someone cuts you off in traffic. There is a legitimate response to that intrusion, normally irritation. You slow down, change lanes, get out of their way and go about your business. If however, you come into the situation feeling vulnerable, then your reaction can become explosive. Responding to the other driver’s carelessness is understandable, but exploding has nothing to do with the present situation. It’s old, unresolved pain. A vulnerability has been triggered that you don’t want exposed. But, since you can’t do anything about the other driver’s intrusion, you cover your feelings of vulnerability with an outburst of rage. It’s smoke and mirrors.

If we are able to focus on our underlying feelings and deal with them, even after the event, we might be able to not only limit our explosive reactions, we might just prevent them from happening altogether. This is where a rigorous self-inventory can be valuable. What are you vulnerable to? What or who do you feel you cannot protect yourself from? What beliefs about yourself do you hold that do not serve you? Certainly some of this you can deal with on your own, but for the big issues, get yourself a good shaman.
copyright © Blue Lotus Press 2014

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Life Is A Dream

by Ross Bishop

Some Buddhist sects teach that life is a waking dream, an illusion. In their belief the only thing that is real is the eternal, surrendered consciousness. I don’t disagree with that concept except for one thing – in the waking realm I can pinch myself, I can stub my toe and I can’t do that in a dream or an illusion. So with respect for my Buddhist friends, I have to say, “That’s not quite right.” I understand where you’re going with the metaphor, but this is too important a subject for an inaccurate image.

Most people’s lives are built around their their egos. It is an existence of fears, anxieties, joys and all the other emotional based reactions that the ego brings. Is it real? Hell yes it’s real! Hit me, pinch me, and it hurts! So don’t tell me that it’s not real!

But, is it ultimately real? That’s a different question. You see, as I change – as I free myself from the beliefs that drive the ego-based, small self, the self dissolves and I am “reborn” into the realm of higher consciousness. Not to get religious, but this is what Christ meant when he said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.”

Now the earth doesn’t change, people are still the same and daily life still goes on, but I am different. And that changes everything. I see things very differently. I do not react to life the way I once did. The world didn’t change, I did.

I no longer see right and wrong – I see people struggling with their beliefs and reacting to life from what they have been taught. I see their pain and the opportunity that every situation offers them to grow and learn. I no longer see you and me, I see us. There are still different races and cultures, but they do not make us different as they once did. I don’t see disease. I see the inevitable consequence of people trapped in beliefs of “I’m not good enough” and “I am unworthy.”

For those who struggle, lost in their egos and their negative self-beliefs, life is what it must be at this level of understanding: cruel, uncaring and heartless, interspersed by moments of joy. These people feel alone and abandoned. That’s the way the ego sees life. It must be this way, otherwise there would be no motivation for them to change!

I see the opportunity for growth contained in every situation. I see the imposition of the careful hand of The Creator, giving each person exactly what they need so that they might break free of their earth-conditioned beliefs and reach new levels of perception.

Unfortunately because of their egos, most people are like rats trapped in a maze. If they could only open their eyes they would realize that the maze is imaginary! And if they were to just reach out, they would free themselves from their confinement. But today, most of them are afraid to take that risk. They fear what is on the other side of the imaginary wall.

The repeat, life hasn’t changed, I have. And this different perspective allows me to move out of the pit of pain, misery and conflict my ego created for me “back then.” Today I have the freedom to experience things differently. And it is a very different and I might add, wonderful realm.

I wasn’t asleep before. I was living life to the fullest extent my ego would allow. But it was still half a life. I just didn’t know any better. I was in a self-generated fog. You don’t know life can be different until the fog lifts. And it takes courage to go poking around in the darkness because you’re not sure what’s out there. After all, you’ve been hurt and you don’t trust! That’s were faith comes in. Not faith in religion, but faith in God.

I can hear some of you say, “Well that’s fine for him, but I can’t . . . ” Those are excuses. Listen, putting my ego to rest wasn’t easy. It put up a terrible fight! But I have learned that the ego’s resistance was really a measure of my lack of commitment to change. It was only doing it’s job until I “crossed over,” as it were. And I can be a stubborn S.O.B.! But if I can do it, believe me you can, too. And, it’s absolutely the best thing I have ever done.

Today I just don’t get pulled around like I used to. My ego and my neediness no longer run my life. Sure, I still make mistakes. But they don’t affect me like they once did. I learn from them and then move on.

I keep saying this, and it’s true – you’re going to have to do this anyway. It’s why you came here. You might was well get on with it because today is a lot easier than next year.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation — just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer — we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor Frankl

copyright © Blue Lotus Press 2014

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Is There A God?

by Ross Bishop

This isn’t a religious question. The connection between most religions and God are tenuous at best. Churches are more concerned with internal matters and God tends to get lost in the process. Besides, ultimately it’s a question you have to answer yourself.

First of all, there is the question. When raised for other than purely intellectual pursuits, it is largely a ruse. It mostly comes from people who for various reasons, are unable to be vulnerable and trust.

Perhaps they’ve been hurt and are afraid to risk being hurt again. Others feel shameful and unworthy and cannot open up for fear of having their beliefs confirmed. Others are stuck in their intellect, safely protected from the pain of their emotions. And then, some people blame God for their misfortune and can’t get past their anger.

A lot of people in our culture allow themselves to be run by their rational minds. Our scientific and engineered society and our educational system encourages people to live in their heads. We are taught to turn to our intellects rather than our hearts. Conversely, emotions can be powerful and can present a difficult challenge to the more placid higher self.

So rather than deal with the tumult of unpredictable emotions, many people opt for the temporary sanctuary of the rational mind. That leads to a safe (but vanilla) life, but interestingly, one that is also permeated by bouts of depression.

God speaks to you through your heart and your conscience. If the channel is clogged with thoughts, not much else is going to get through. And truth be told, sometimes that’s exactly what you want. You don’t want God’s input because what he asks of you runs completely counter to the ego demands of the small self.

And that brings us to the sub-plot in this drama – the small self – the ego. God and ego cannot exist at the same time. So, if God doesn’t exist, you don’t have to give up your ego . . . End of story.

If, however God does exist, then you’ve got some stuff to deal with. Most people reply, “Thank you, I’d really rather not.” I don’t think I have to tell you how far that one is going to fly . . .

The fundamental human drama revolves around the death of the ego, and most people mistakenly view this as the death of the self because the ego is all they have known. They do not realize there is more, simply because they have not experienced it.

Being angry at God is a little like being angry at the shovel that dug the pit you’re in. But that’s easier than examining why you dug the hole in the first place. I am not unmindful that life puts people in difficult circumstances, but always, and I mean always, it is to give them the impetus to change their negative and destructive beliefs about themselves. Now, no one likes being put in that place. And if you don’t want to go there, being angry at God our doubting His existence is a good way out. But it is avoidance, plain and simple.

People want proof of God. After all, you must be able to trust someone if you’re going to put your life in their hands. It’s called faith. But this too, is largely a ruse. Consider that the basic rules He laid out for us, whether you believe in God or not, are a pretty good foundation for life – don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t covet your neighbor’s wife . . . that sort of thing. Really, it’s a pretty good way to live. The only thing He asks of us is to live a good life. Especially when you add the last Commandment given by Jesus at the Last Supper, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

So, what if you were to go about your days disbelieving in God, but living your life according to those (or similar) guidelines? You could do a lot worse! Frankly, God doesn’t care whether you believe in Him or not. He does care about how you live your life, however. But if you were to try things my way for a while, you’d find that the real issue would surface pretty quickly and it’s not going to be about God.

If you are reluctant to believe, your resistance really isn’t about God. It’s about surrender. What is being challenged are the false beliefs you cling to. And that is a big part of your development as a spiritual being. You’ve been hurt and your superficial beliefs have been shaken. That was intentional. We want real faith – real unshakeable faith, not the shallow surface stuff. So now comes the real test: will you be able to move beyond your pain and the protective shell of the small self and reach for the truth?

Look, I already believe in God, so these things are easy for me. I look at a flower and say, “How can you not see it?” But I also remember what it took for me to get here. There was a time in my life when a flower was just a flower, too. Now, I still don’t like mosquitos, but I stand as proof that a remarkable transformation can happen. And if I can get there, believe me, you can too.

The work isn’t easy – the small self can be incredibly tenacious as you probably already know, and dealing with it can be downright gut wrenching – but there are two things you need to keep in mind: First, you’re going to have to do this at some point, with these same issues. Only later will be a lot harder than today. But you’re gonna have to do it. And secondly, it’s absolutely worth doing – that much I can promise you.

copyright © Blue Lotus Press 2014

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The End of Days II

by Ross Bishop

Five thousand years ago the Hindus predicted that around the year 2,000 A.D. an end would come the age of Kaliki Yoga (The Age of Darkness or The Iron Age) and the Kalki Avatar would usher in the age of Krta Yuga – the Golden Age. Similarly, 5,260 years ago the Mayans predicted the end of the 5th Great Cycle in 2012. They predicted that the transit between ages would be a period of significant upheaval. The Hopi do not assign dates to their predictions, but their scenarios (the gourd of ashes) correlate very closely with those of the Hindu and Maya.

The Bible, The Torah and The Koran also all speak of cataclysmic times ahead. Indeed, all three speak of a future period of great disruption to be followed by redemption. This period has become known to the Jews as “The Messianic Era,” or to Muslims as “The End of Days,” or to Christians as “Armageddon”.

There is no implication in any of these prophesies that the world will come to an end, but they all do predict a period of significant upheaval followed by a great period of peace. Isaiah 2:2-3 tells us:

And it will be in the end of days, the mountain of the House of God will be established at the head of the mountains, . . . And they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nation shall not lift up sword against nation and they shall no longer learn war.

In the book of Daniel(1), a number of prophecies describe the End of Days. An angel explains to Daniel that the meaning of the visions will remain undecipherable until the events themselves: “And he said, ‘Go Daniel, for the things are closed up and sealed until the end time.”(Daniel 12:10)

There is a common assumption that The End of Days will come as some kind of heavenly intervention. That would contravene the way God has done things in the past. God seems to prefer using agencies such as floods or earthquakes to effect the transformations He desires – Noah, etc. Consider that an ecological disaster is more in keeping with God’s traditional way of doing things.

What’s happening with our reaction too, is sort of strange if you stop and think about it. We can see the end of the tunnel but there’s no light! It is dark, the end is clearly cataclysmic and yet, we don’t want to make changes that would significantly affect our lifestyle, even to save ourselves. That’s the definition of insanity! Or, is this the way things are supposed to be? Are we witness to “The End of Days”? Daniel Smith writes in the NY Times:(2)

The first decade of the 21st century was shaping up to be the hottest in recorded history. In 2007, the Arctic sea ice shrank to a level not seen in centuries. That same year, the NASA climatologist James Hansen, who has been ringing the climate alarm since the 1980s, announced that in order to elude the most devastating consequences, we’d need to maintain carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at a level of 350 parts per million. But we’d already surpassed 380, and the figure was rising. (It has since reached 400 p.p.m.)

Animal and plant species, meanwhile, were dying out at a spectacular rate. Scientists were beginning to warn that human activity – greenhouse-gas emissions, urbanization, the global spread of invasive species – was driving the planet toward a “mass extinction” event, something that has occurred only five times since life emerged, 3.5 billion years ago.

“Mass extinction event!” What or who are we talking about? If you live on either coast – it’s you. Later it will be Chicago, Albuquerque and Omaha – perhaps for your children.

The simple fact is, we need to save the planet from humans. It’s become a cliche`, but if we eliminated people, the earth would flourish. And the “human machine,” as British environmentalist Paul Kingsnorth, puts it, has grown to such a size that breakdown is inevitable. What, then, do we do? Kingsnorth says, “I was just listening and looking at the facts and thinking: Wow, we are really screwed here. We are not going to stop this from happening.”

Certainly our corporations and the government aren’t helping. Governments will kick the can down the road until it’s too late for meaningful change. The corporations are throwing all their considerable weight to deny global warming, support factory food, increase urbanization, environmental destruction, fisheries depletion and general species eradication. So much for the system providing meaningful help. And without the organized mechanisms of society supporting us, we feel powerless to do much on our own.

The facts are increasingly daunting. Kingsnorth said, “You look at every trend that environmentalists like me have been trying to stop for 50 years, and every single thing has gotten worse. . . We are living through the ‘age of ecocide,” . . .

Kingsnorth and many other environmentalists maintain that it’s already too late. They conclude that we’ve turned a corner and there is no going back. The facts seem to support their position. Even if some people do survive, the most optimistic predictions look pretty dire. Daniel Sarewitz writes in Slate:

Natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and typhoons, earthquakes, and droughts will afflict more people than ever, at greater costs than ever, in poor nations and rich alike.

Epidemics of infectious diseases will threaten large populations and could even spread rapidly across large swaths of the planet.

Crops will fail and people will starve.

Wild fires, biodiversity loss, forest die-offs, and other signs of global ecosystem stress will continue to rise.

Civil strife will flare up in trouble spots around the world, some predictable, others unexpected, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in a state of misery and despair, prompting waves of migration, outstripping the financial resources necessary to respond, and severely testing our diplomatic and aid capabilities.

Availability of high-quality water will be stretched to the limits in many places around the world.

New extremes of temperature and other weather phenomena will be recorded in more and more places.

That’s right: Millions will die; still more will be displaced; nations and economies will teeter at the edge of disaster as populist demagogues rise, regional stabilities are tested, and environmental despoliation expands.

Is this “The End of Days,” or “Armageddon”? Perhaps. Will humans survive? Possibly. But every indication is that for the survivors, it’s going to be a rough road.

What can you do?

The first thing is to reconnect with your faith (not necessarily your religion). If predictions hold, these events will be bigger and more devastating than any of us can cope with individually. Community will be essential as a survival resource. Get to know your neighbors! Also, focusing your intention through your spirituality will serve as a mitigating influence.

The other thing you can do is to become more self-reliant. Our economic infrastructure is incredibly interdependent and therefore rather fragile. It is unlikely you’ll be able to rely on the supermarket or gas station as you have in the past. In fact, many of the things you rely on today simply won’t be available. Third and Fourth world people have survived without modern conveniences and technology for years and may actually be better positioned to survive than we are.

The specific things you can do: turn that patch of grass outside your home into a vegetable garden and plant some fruit trees. Get some chickens. Learn to save and filter rainwater. Get some solar panels. Re-acquaint yourself with your bicycle. Even if none of the predicted things come to pass, these things will make your life healthier and are far better for the planet.

Start doing some of the things your grandparents used to do before there were supermarkets and mega-stores – learn to preserve and store food, make your own laundry detergent, knit, sew – in other words, adopt a simpler, more earth friendly, lifestyle. The planet will thank you.

It is my belief that significant changes are afoot. You can ignore the many voices urging you to make changes in your life, and it is doubtful you will do the things I am suggesting. But as the image on the horizon grows closer, it becomes clearer. Whatever the future holds, it isn’t likely to have endless supplies of fossil fuels, clean abundant water, cheap abundant food or many of the other things that we take for granted. I urge you, in all earnestness, to at least think about that.
____________

Matthew 24:
. . . And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

. . . 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.. . . 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The Abomination of Desolation

15 So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, . . . 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. . .

The Coming of the Son of Man

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, . .

No One Knows That Day and Hour

36 But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. . . . 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

_________
(1) The Book of Daniel is sometimes edited in Christian texts to exclude the prophesies because they were written after the cut-off date for inclusion in the Bible. The omitted chapters (6-12) can be found at: Daniel Ch 6.

(2) It’s the End of the World as We Know It . . . and He Feels Fine, By Daniel Smith, April 17, 2014, NY Times.

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2014

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Prayer

by Ross Bishop

We accept many things without thinking about them. Take the idea of prayer. We view prayer as some sort of a conversation with God. In this view, prayer is like making a toll-free call. But, for very important reasons a conversation with God is unlike any other and that changes the nature of the thing. As a result, a good deal of misunderstanding has grown up around prayer.

When you pray to God, what are you really doing? Will you ask something of Him? He already knows what you want. Will you tell God what you think? He already knows that too. Are you going to share your thoughts with Him? He’s ahead of you there as well.

The question is, what are you going to tell God that He does not already know? Prayer really has little to do with communication or a conversation in the conventional sense. God is always there. He hears and knows everything and by the way, He is always there for you.

If you take things a step further, what do you think a prayer is going to accomplish? Do you really think that God is going to set the divine plan aside simply because you would like something else to happen? Remember, if God has gone to all the trouble to create your particular life circumstance, He’s not likely to be inclined to change things just because you want out of it. Your life situation has been created precisely for your learning and development.

If God wanted you to have something, it would already be there, you would not have to ask for it. And if something isn’t here, or something else is happening, it is for very good reason – always. You may not like what life brings you, but it is there for your learning – always.

So, when you pray, what is it that you want? Most often, you pray when you need something – when you are in trouble. And life presents us with some very challenging lessons! The truth is you don’t want the lesson. You don’t want to have to change. You don’t want to address what the Creator has asked of you. So in one final attempt, faced with the demand for change, you want out of it. You want a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

When you pray for strength to get you through a situation, who are you really praying to? God doesn’t need to increase His love and support for you, it’s been there all along. So who is it that you are really asking strength from?

When it comes down to it, prayer isn’t really about you and God at all. It’s about you and you. It is you deciding, often in the midst of pain and desperation, that opening to what He has asked of you all along might be better than what your ego has been doing. It is about opening the connection to spirit that you closed off.

We routinely turn away from God. We close the door. We act from fear. We shut down our compassion and refuse to follow the few simple guidelines He has given us. Then when things don’t go well, as they must when we try and live that way, we want out. We want to change the game. After all, that’s easier than making changes to ourselves.

You may be familiar with the research of Dr. Masaru Emoto regarding the impact of prayer on water. Emoto has clearly demonstrated that water, even at a distance, responds to our thoughts, emotions and prayers. See:

Water, consciousness, & Intent: Dr. Masaru Emoto

When you make the choice to consciously move closer to spirit, you shift your energy. And in doing that, in our own small way, you actually do shift the energy of the universe. As Emoto shows us, that shift, for as long as we can hold it, affects us and everything around us. And, we can elect to shift toward harmony or away from it. The act of prayer, when it’s not begging to be let off the hook, is a declaration to live in harmony.

Come into the presence of a guru or a great teacher, and you will feel it. What has the guru done? He or she has learned to put themselves in a constant state of prayer. The guru knows the presence of God in every moment. He or she may be in the same room, but they are not in this world. The gift they bring is the ability to connect that world to ours.

So, when you truly pray, you are re-aligning your previously misplaced intention with that of The Creator. It is a decision to come home. In Psalm 25, David had it right when he prayed,

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”

copyright © Blue Lotus Press 2014

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