Here in the United States, we are currently seeing some of the more colorful human traits played out every day on our TV screens as at least 17 people vie to be the next president. Trying to embody Shakespeare’s words from As You Like It, that “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” might be the way to allow and detach from the frenetic pace of dialogue between various candidates. If we can see the stage for what it is, a mirror to our own issues, then we can look to what messages we need for ourselves and aid our own enlightenment.
One of the issues that is definitely being played on this stage that may have mirrors for us, or that pushes our buttons, is the idea of arrogance. The term “arrogance” and the superlative of “best” have definitely been bandied about this election cycle.
In order to look at what we might learn from the discussion around arrogance, we may want to first look at the word humility and the strength and peace that can be found in perfect humility.
Humility is a word most of us would not associate with strength or peace, but in its truest sense, in its divine sense, the feeling state of divine humility carries power, ease, and a sense of self of who you truly are as a creator and co-creator with All That Is.
In English, many of us think of the word “humility” in a negative way. Instead of humility, which is a noun and which most dictionaries define as “the state of being humble”, we confuse the meaning with the verb “humiliate” which means to cause a person a painful loss of pride, self-respect or dignity, or to mortify.
Being humble is all about being and feeling modest. It is free of vanity, egotism, arrogance, boastfulness, or great pretenses. None of these words imply that you have no strength or power when you are humble and modest. These words have more to do with how you speak, act, or feel about yourself than it does about your talent or proclivities and what you have to offer the world.
In true humility, you stand at the balance point of knowing you are powerful, but knowing everyone else has equal potential for knowing and feeling their own power, too. The Master who holds humility in perfect balance does not feel him/herself as better than another, nor does he/she feel lesser than anyone else, either. We are all unique expressions of Source / The All That Is. It is impossible to be more or less unique; to be more or less All That Is. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, “unique” is an absolute which we all are! All are unique which just means all of us are different, but not lesser or greater. Simply unique. The Master who knows that can speak to his or her qualities, proclivities, abilities, and what his/her service is without making another person wrong or belittling the other person.
In true humility, the Master is neither arrogant nor falsely modest; the two opposite sides of the pendulum swing. When you know who you truly are and feel comfortable in your own skin, the sense of peace and well-being will be transformational. Try the ultimate litmus test—watch some of the presidential debates. If you are able to see yourself as the Divine Being and the Divine Light that you are, and see each of the candidates as the Divine Being and Divine Light that they are, then you have probably mastered Divine Humility. You don’t have to agree with the candidates, you just need to not make them wrong for holding the opinions they hold or explaining their opinions in a way you wouldn’t explain it.
Standing in my own humility, I can tell you that I have not yet reached this level of mastery! I strive for it and am positive that finding this level of mastery, this level of strength and peace through Divine Humility, is possible while still walking on this beautiful stage we call Earth! But, I am not there, yet!
President Teddy Roosevelt is credited with saying: “speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” I would paraphrase by saying: speak softly and carry a true sense of self; you will be unlimited.
Many of us on a deliberate spiritual path work every day with the resonances or states of being like Peace, Love, Wisdom and Compassion. These are wonderful energies to bring in and allow ourselves to feel and become. I sometimes find that I don’t allow these resonances to take hold as much as I could because I don’t feel worthy. Maybe I am beating myself up for my acts of commission, like being sharper in my retorts with a loved one or being flat out belligerent or mean-spirited. Maybe I am beating myself up for my acts of omission, like not showing kindness to others nor kindness to myself in my self-care. I may also beat myself up for intellectually knowing that I am One with All, but not quite being evolved enough to hold that Oneness 100% of the time. My belief in my lack of worthiness makes it difficult to hold Peace, Love, Wisdom and Compassion.
Enter Grace and Gratitude! When I am feeling less than 100% of the aspect of the Divine that I AM, when I allow the human self-talk to get in the way of my spiritual self-talk, I turn to the healing energies of Grace and Gratitude.
Grace is the intellectual knowingness and then the feeling state that we are part of the Divine, part of The Source of ALL THAT IS and nothing can change or deny that Spiritual Truth. All That Is is truly All There Is…so there isn’t any way we can be from outside of it or any way to be cast outside of it because of our actions. There is no way to be outside of the whole of existence. We can only be a part of the whole. We may have beliefs that we are abandoned, cast out or beyond the whole, but those are just our human self-talk and false beliefs.
In the Protestant Tradition of Christianity, Grace, God’s Grace is what saves humans. Regardless of whether you are Protestant, Christian or religious at all, allow yourself to play around with and feel Divine Grace, the Grace of the Source of All That Is. Feel, even if it is just for a fleeting moment or if it is for hours on end, what it feels like to know you do not need to Do Anything or Be a certain way in order to feel, understand and hold the powerful energy and knowingness that your birthright is the Peace, Ease and Flow of knowing you are part of Source, no matter what. You are Divine, no matter what. You are Divine regardless of your unaccomplished to do list. Your list of self-failures and self-judgments are only your own judgments not that of Source, Your True Divine Self. Source, who simultaneously created us and is us, sees all the negative evaluations that we have for ourselves as what they truly are: simple experiences and opportunities to learn.
Try this exercise. Start to breathe in the energy of Grace until you are completely filled with it. Or allow yourself to find Grace in your heart and let the feeling grow until it encompasses you and your whole field without reservation. Feel yourself as entitled to and with the self-given right of Divine Grace.
As you feel and work with the energy of Grace, you will start to feel more gratitude for everything in your life. You will feel more gratitude for the simple things in life like viewing the full moon, having hot water at your fingertips, having good food to eat or a friend to share the moon, hot water and good meal with! As you hold more Grace, you will also start to feel more Gratitude for the experiences and opportunities to grow which before looked to you like obstacles or pain. Remember the wise saying of “Change your belief and you change your destiny.” If you can change, even just slightly, how you look at a situation, you can change the attitude at which you address the situation which will shift the energy to more positive, more loving approach. This will help the outcome to be more loving, as well. This, in turn, will allow you to feel more Gratitude.
As I find more Grace, I feel more Gratitude, which allows me to believe more easily that Grace is my birthright, for which I am grateful. It is a Blessed Circle of energy that allows for more and more energy!
I find that working with the energies of Grace and Gratitude in unison creates shifts of energies and attitudes that really help me to feel the Self-Worth and the Self-Value that my Inner Voice continues to urge me is My True Self, My Divine Self. After a while of filling with Grace and Gratitude, I get tired of arguing with that Inner Voice that I am less than the precious Child of God that the rest of Creation knows that I am, just like the rest of Creation knows that you are, too.
Know and feel Divine Grace. Know and feel Divine Gratitude. Know and feel yourself as Source, a part of All That Is.
Al-che-my- noun– a power or process of transforming something in a mysterious way
Most of us have heard of the practice of alchemy- most notably as the medieval science of transmuting base metals into gold. There is another definition of alchemy- a power or process of transforming something in a mysterious way.
When something changes in nature, there is a corresponding action to create that change. The fallen tree must give way to rot in order for the new growth of mushrooms and ferns to be supported by it. When pressure builds along a fault line, one edge gives way until a slab of earth juts up and creates a new mountain. Once we understand the laws of nature and what goes on behind-the-scene, the outer changes we observe are really not so mysterious or miraculous after all.
Likewise, once we understand the spiritual laws, manifesting new things in our lives is not so mysterious, either. The new relationship that blossomed when you met that new partner “by chance” is actually the result of a lot of inner preparation to be ready for that relationship once the time came. The sudden success in your career is not that miraculous once you remember all the things you learned in your previous jobs and the confidence you gained to prepare you for that exciting opportunity once it did come. Whether you were conscious of it or not, you became a new person through your own choices along the way and thus attracted to yourself new experiences that reflected those changes.
But we don’t have to wait for the realization to come in hindsight. We can consciously create change in our lives by consciously creating change within. Take a good look at the changes you’re wanting to make in your life, or perhaps those which you’ve started but are struggling to bring to completion. What needs to give way within you in order to make room for that new change? What base metals are you still holding onto that are ready to transform into gold?
Perhaps it’s an old habit, an old belief system, an old way of perceiving yourself that needs to change. Perhaps it’s the goal itself; an old goal that is no longer the right fit for the direction of your life. Are you ready to create change within to support the changes without? Are you ready to practice spiritual alchemy and be your own powerful force for change?
Have you ever experienced a situation where the plans you carefully laid out just didn’t go as planned and the times when you just decided to wing it went far better than you imagined? I call that the difference between being in the mental body and being in Divine Flow and Joy.
Back in early Spring, I planted some sunflower seeds outside my south facing window. I thought they would be a nice sunbreak as well as a bright spot of color. I waited and waited, but nothing came up. After a while, I assumed the squirrels who reside in the nearby trees probably had a little feast and that was the end of it. A few weeks ago, I noticed some green stalks triumphantly pushing their way up right in the location where I had planted the sunflowers. “Eureka!” I thought. Maybe they were just slow starters.
However, as I watched them grow and mature, I realized that these were the funniest looking sunflowers I had ever seen. Instead of being wide, flat and round at the top, they were oblong. Hhhmmmm. I kept watering and they kept growing until I finally recognized their shape. I have corn stalks! I looked up and realized what had happened. Above that same window, I also keep a bird feeder hanging and some of the corn seeds in the bird mix had managed to land on the ground and take root. Just by following the joy of watching the birds outside my window, I had unwittingly created a whole new garden!
I started thinking about my other gardening adventures and I realized that some of my healthiest, most productive plants are ones that I took home spur-of-the-moment “just to see how they would do.” Meanwhile, some of the areas that were more carefully plotted out according to which plants should do better in what amount of sun, haven’t done nearly as well. Hhhmmmm. Could it be that the line about following your joy in the moment actually has some truth to it? When the heart is truly open, the Divine speaks to us most clearly and those seemingly inconsequential inspirations are often the Soul leading us to some new creation we never imagined.
As I expand the metaphor to my other “gardens”, other creations in my life, I see the lesson for me in truly trusting those thoughtless little moments of joy. With less thought and more heart, I look forward to many more surprise gardens in my life.
All around the world this year, we have seen crazy weather patterns. From the last of Boston’s 110.6 inches of snow finally melting from their “snow farm” on July 14 to record breaking heat in Berlin, Germany of 102 degrees Fahrenheit this August, the conditions are hard to predict. My little neck of the woods was no different in its oddity this year. Pat and I live north of Fort Collins, Colorado, and have a ¼ acre vegetable garden and a few fruit trees. (The fruit trees didn’t make it through the bizarre November 2014 weather of 14 degrees below, but that is a topic for another day.) It is the spring rains of 2015 that I am not sure anyone in this arid climate would have expected.
Following the seed company recommendations, Pat planted our usual crops that are Northern Colorado friendly. And then came the spring rains. At first we thought, “how wonderful, we won’t have to water.” But the saying “too much of a good thing” does come to mind. The seeds didn’t sprout. If you dug down a little, you would see that the seeds were moldy. So – Pat replanted most of the garden. And then more rain came. Anyone living in Northern Colorado might have had thoughts regarding building an arc as much as building a green house.
Again, the seeds were not sprouting. By now, it is getting to be pretty far into the growing season. I thought maybe it was time to rely on purchasing our produce for the year. But, Pat had perseverance on his mind. He bought starter plants for crops we usually can start from seeds and bought more tomato plants and tried one more time. Eureka. His perseverance paid off.
As for the division of labor for our garden, Pat does most of the heavy lifting, planting, weeding and irrigating of our garden. My inclinations and skills lean more toward the harvesting and cooking, pickling, and freezing of breads and soups from the bounty, reminiscent of my Grandmother in Kansas except that she and Grandpa relied on the produce more than those of us with a King Soopers only 7 minutes away.
It is now August and our harvest has been so abundant that I have had to learn 4 new soup recipes, a new bread recipe and how to pickle cucumbers in our deep freezer. And we still have enough to share with friends and neighbors.
I believe the lesson this is teaching me this year, is to not allow one or even two setbacks to change what you know to be the path or goal for yourself. Sure, in the short run, abandoning the garden after the second seed planting would have made less work for us, but what other benefits would we have missed out on? Sharing with friends, eating really good zucchini bread, having soups already prepared for a cold winter day, to name a few. What about missing out of the self-reliance of gardening, the truly “getting back to nature” that so many of us say we want and the ultimate in local sourcing? I really enjoy the surprise gift like quality of seeing what is ready to be picked and the seemingly miracle of how fast and big zucchini grow!
When we are trying to create other projects in our lives, whether it is a more peaceful and serene inner self or writing a book or designing a new class, we need to remember the perseverance of seed planting. It may take more attempts to get yourself in the right frame of mind, or the right energetic level than you had originally hope for, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t on the right track. If there is frustration along the way, don’t focus on the failed attempts, focus on the harvest, the vision, the goal to keep yourself motivated. Dory from Disney’s Finding Nemo probably said it best. “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.” This is the Power of Perseverance.
When I was young, one of my favorite books was Happiness Is A Warm Puppy, which featured all of the Charlie Brown characters sharing their simple pleasures in life. Whenever I think of that book, it takes me back to a time when happiness just was. There was no searching for it or trying to figure out all of its components; it was just there. So, how did we lose that as we got older?
I recently saw two films which, though very different, had a similar key theme. The first was a wonderful movie by Pixar called “Inside Out,” which featured the inner thoughts and emotions of a young girl. The Joy character was always trying to make things better and happier by pushing away the experience of other emotions like sadness. She eventually came to realize the value that comes from not pushing away other emotions like sadness, but honoring them. Acknowledging sadness allowed for a rich opportunity of compassionate connection with others which ultimately brought about…. Happiness.
In “Hector and the Search for Happiness,” a stuck-in-his-ways psychiatrist goes on a global adventure to search for the keys to happiness to help his patients. He keeps a notebook of all the things that might bring people happiness. In his final revelation, he understands that true happiness is a combination of all his emotions and experiences, not just one. In other words, once he accepts the whole of his being unconditionally, without trying to engineer a specific situation or experience that he deems to be his source of happiness, he actually feels happy. As one of the psychiatrists in the movie puts it, we don’t find happiness when we’re actively searching for it but when we go about our lives in a way that’s connected, present and engaged. In that state, we realize our happiness.
So, maybe one of the keys to “finding” happiness is to understand that we never lost it. We may have gotten distracted, sidetracked, or maybe thrown a little off-course, but it was always there. We began to believe that we had to “do” something to get what once came completely naturally to us. In those moments of childhood wonder, there was no laundry list of things to do and no worrying about finding the meaning of life. If you felt sad, you cried and then were done and went back outside to play. Kids can get really enthusiastic about their tears and then get really enthusiastic about something else just as quickly. There is no judgment, just allowing the feeling to flow through. And that state of total acceptance of what is in the moment, is happiness. So, there really is no magic bullet or trick to any of it. There is no “one thing” that will bring us happiness. If we relax and accept all of it, we find that happiness just is.