There is an old story: Two monks are walking along a road and come to a large stream. A beautiful young woman is standing by the stream trying to cross. She asks for assistance. The monks have given vows of chastity in which they have declared they will not touch a woman or lust after the pleasures of the flesh. But one monk agrees to carry the woman across as an act of charity and he takes her to the other stream bank. As they continue along the road, the second monk is outraged and continues to lecture the first monk about breaking his vows. The first monk replies, “I only carried her across the stream but you’re still carrying her.”
The second monk had a strong story in his mind about who a monk should be and what he should be doing. He was unwilling to let go of that limitation in order to look more deeply at what was the most open-hearted response in that situation. If we look within ourselves, we may see this same energy. We carry our stories, sometimes from far in the past, and what we believe is comforting and protective becomes a heavy burden to carry which prevents us from easily moving forward in our lives and being the Truth of who we are.
Sometimes, we use stories to justify our own actions and excuse ourselves from responsibility. We might fall into a pattern of explaining ourselves with something like, “I’ve always been this way ever since that certain experience happened to me.” Other times, we may use stories to justify our behavior toward others as in, “If I’d only known she was going through that, then I would have been more understanding.” Though it is often subconsciously done, we may allow those stories to direct our behavior rather than going within for guidance on how to respond with love. The good news is that we can choose to become conscious of those stories and choose to free ourselves by letting them go. We do not have to be the same person we were several years ago or even several minutes. We don’t have to let our stories define us.
A friend once shared with me that she attended a workshop on taking responsibility for your actions and the facilitator made the following point: If you find yourself in a situation such as arriving late for a meeting with someone and saying things like, “I’m late because I got stuck behind a slow driver,” or “Traffic was really bad,” then become aware of how this shifts responsibility away from you and justifies your choices using a story. The facilitator suggested saying something like, “I apologize for keeping you waiting, I didn’t allow enough travel time this morning.” This is ownership of responsibility and also puts the power back in your hands for your actions. You are not at the effect of anyone or anything, even your own self-justifications.
Many people confuse taking responsibility with self-blame. Often, when we try to take responsibility for our actions, we end up berating ourselves for not doing it differently, not knowing better, etc. This is not responsibility but self-recrimination, guilt and shame. Divine Responsibility is simply the ability to respond, to be fully present and aware in every situation and to listen within for the response that serves the highest good. You don’t need to hear anyone else’s back story or declare your own in order to hear your inner wisdom on how to be a loving and compassionate being in each moment.
How are your New Year’s resolutions holding up? If that question caused a little hesitation, then you’re not alone. Studies show that only a fraction of those who set resolutions actually carry them through the entire year. Even by March, commitment tends to flag and we slide back into our old habits and routines. The first glow of success fades and then we hit that period where we’re doing it through sheer willpower because whatever change we desire to make hasn’t yet become part of who we are.
I recently hit a bump in the road with some intentions that I set for myself. Like many, I felt really good about these new changes in the beginning but realized that my enthusiasm was waning as the outer results became less obvious and noticeable. My new daily routine felt less uplifting and more of a chore. I had already hit a plateau!
I realized that I still had some attachments to seeing certain results rather than taking the actions simply from pure love and joy. I was focusing on satisfaction in the future rather than enjoying the experience in the present. In her book, Start Where You Are, Pema Chodron discusses this Buddhist concept of expecting no fruition to your actions. At first it sounds defeatist to let go of any thoughts of reaching your goals, but it’s actually very freeing. It’s about letting go of expectations and surrendering to the experience in each moment without any judgment of the outcomes. Even on the spiritual path, what may seem like very evolved goals can become traps if they are so important to us that we lose sight of the value of the experience itself. Chodron explains it this way:
As long as you’re wanting to be thinner, smarter, more enlightened, less uptight, or whatever it might be, somehow you’re always going to be approaching your problem with the very same logic that created it to begin with: you’re not good enough. That’s why the habitual pattern never unwinds itself when you’re trying to improve, because you go about it in exactly the same habitual style that caused all the pain to start.
It’s all too easy for our mental selves to turn the idea of experiencing even spiritual states such as Enlightenment, Ascension and Oneness into something that we haven’t managed to achieve, which just brings us back to disappointment and self-doubt. If we start jogging just to look better for our high school reunion, we lose the experience of being in the body while running and that feeling of sending loving energy to the miracle of the body. If we start pitching new ideas at work only to gain a promotion, we may miss the pure joy of being more creatively expressive and the value of working collaboratively. Each of these life changes have rewards already built in, even if the outward goal is never realized. But if we focus solely on where we’re going or what we’re going to get out of it, we lose the bigger prize- the greater awareness of our true inner self.
So, go ahead and set your intentions to create your Soul’s vision, but let go of any attachments to the end results. When we expect no fruition to our actions, we are freed from anxiety and self-judgment and can relax into the enjoyment and insights of our actions right in this moment.
When we start down our spiritual path, many of us find ourselves focusing on learning to look past the physical reality of the five senses to something deeper and more connected. We have been bombarded for so long with such strong daily messages which reinforce the physical reality that we sometimes need to take a little time to step back from the physical world in order to gain new perspective. But it’s important not to let the pendulum swing too far. In the Standing in the Light® program, and in the teachings of many great masters, there are reminders that we are all One, that we are all divine and that nothing can be outside the One or be un-spiritual. This includes your own physical body!
When I first woke up spiritually, I was very attracted to silent meditation practices and was easily able to sit still for hours at a time. I loved connecting with other realms and other aspects of my being. It was an important phase in my spiritual evolution. But, as the Buddhists teach so well, there must be balance in all things, especially within ourselves. In the last couple of years, I have been getting gentle reminders from my Soul that I’m not meant to be charging off into the Light and leaving my body behind! My body is on this spiritual journey, too.
Our physical vehicles are magnificent spiritual tools which we have masterfully created as opportunities for our learning. They are truly reflections of our inner selves. A key step to coming into full spiritual mastery is developing a unified relationship with your body as part of you, rather than viewing it as something you’d rather leave behind at the end of the ride. In order to achieve full Oneness, we must be One with all aspects of ourselves and that includes the physical body.
One of my intentions this year is to more consciously include my physical body in my spiritual practices and my spiritual life. This can include many different things, depending on what’s appropriate for each person. A yoga practice can be an excellent time to connect with and feel the body; a time to simply listen and let the body speak. You can set the intention to be more fully present in your body whenever out for a walk. Really feel how the body moves, how the muscles and bones and organs work in perfect harmony! These can be gentle, simple practices that don’t require a major athletic effort, but can also be done while cycling, running or any other physical activity where you can quiet your mind and get into “the zone.” Allow yourself to be guided by your own Soul as to what level of activity is best for you.
In meditation, you may want to ask your Soul if it’s time to do a general body-check. You may be guided to check in on overall wellness and on how well your body is bringing in higher frequencies of Light. You might identify fears held in the physical body which are ready to be healed and whether there is anything you can do on the physical to support your body as your spiritual vehicle. You may want to ask if your body has any specific messages for you. It holds a great deal of wisdom! And you may be guided to meditate on certain resonances with themes like Divine Understanding the Body, Divine Relationship with the Physical Body and feeling at Home in the Body.
We are truly multi-dimensional beings and one of those dimensions is the physical realm! Your body is just as much part of your spiritual self as that part of you that drifts among the stars and beyond. Remember the body and honor its role in your spiritual journey.
Are you listing your New Year’s resolutions? Like many people, we can sometimes get caught up in what we want to change, do or accomplish in the world when we are making those lists. We look out at our lives focusing on what we believe should be different rather than honoring what Is. Have you considered making your New Year’s resolution into a resolve to simply Be?
The Earth is quiet this time of year, sleeping and preparing for new growth. Let yourself be still and quiet within, as well. Take this time to rest and prepare internally. January 1st doesn’t need to start off with a bang and a list of closets to clean or workouts to begin. You will not be behind any schedule if you don’t spring into busy-ness right away. Let yourself be still for a while longer and breathe in the beauty and silence of winter. Let the Peace and Joy from the holiday season settle into your being so that you can experience it even when life starts to gear into action. Give yourself the gift of feeling that Hope for the new year so deeply that it is with you all year round.
True change comes from within and not because a calendar tells us it is time to do this or that. Be in sync with your own divine timing and the rhythms of the Earth. When it is time to take action for change, you will know and be ready because you took the time to truly feel the change at the level of your divine self, within. Let yourself enjoy the Peace of this season a while longer. Take time to just breathe, to laugh, to relax and enjoy. Be still and know.
The following are several excerpts from the channeled teaching to be given on Saturday, November 4th:
The Christ has always taught that our number one priority is our spiritual evolution and that is still true. For one, we can only ever be responsible for our own evolution. We are never responsible for another’s creations. Our “job” is to learn what we came here to learn and heal what still needs to be healed of the illusion of separation we carry within us. And two, as we ourselves raise our frequency, that is already a powerful way to be of service in the sense that the brighter our light shines, the easier it is for others to truly see their own divine light and move forward in their own healing.
I recently read about a study that asked one group of people to do an individual act of service for a person in a second group. Both groups, the givers and receivers, rated their level of satisfaction afterward and the givers all gave higher ratings. We know this intellectually, that it feels good to help others, but do we really understand why? Knowing the why helps us to not miss that call when it comes and also to consciously seek it out because we realize that it’s about so much more than just a kind word or a call to a friend in need. It feels so good because we’re being our true divine selves in those moments. We are knowing ourselves as pure love with no limitations on the amount that we have to give. We are knowing ourselves as One with the receiver so that we don’t see it as giving a little of ourselves away, but as a unified act of both giving and receiving with the other person, who is also an aspect of our greater divine self.
There is a quote from the Buddha: “If you light a lamp for someone else, it will also brighten your own path.” You cannot shine your light to assist someone else without also benefiting just as much from that same light. You cannot shine the light along the path so that only one person sees it and no one else. It’s impossible! Divine Service is about serving the greater good, but you are each also part of the greater good. When you serve others, you are also serving yourself and your own spiritual evolution. You are expanding your consciousness beyond your immediate self to include others as part of you, part of your expanded divine self.
When you answer the call to service, you are answering your own Soul’s desire to expand your consciousness, to know yourself as Love and to be in Oneness with All That Is. When we truly see it that way, then how could we ever be too tired or too busy or too insignificant for Love?
This class will be taught in Fort Collins, CO on November 4 at 1pm and will be recorded. For more information on attending the class or purchasing the recording, contact firstname.lastname@example.org .