Faith overcomes fear

Living in this world can sometimes be a frightening experience. We need to trust the society we live in, the people around us, the government, the infrastructure, for so many things. We are an interdependent web where everyone’s actions affect everyone else. We need to trust things which are out of our control. As adults, we regain some control over events, but not total control. If we could control every little thing about our lives and our worlds, I am sure we would each made considerable changes: eliminate poverty, improve infrastructure, change political systems, prioritise the environment, and so on. In a world where everything is not ‘perfect’ and everything is not ‘in our control’, we can often question God’s purpose, or the divine plan. ‘Why does it have to be like this? If there is a God, why doesn’t he make it better?’

After thinking about this long and hard, there are two explanations that are beginning to make sense to me (in relation to God or Universal Consciousness or Source, whatever you like to call the divine influence). The first is the situation of free-will. Life forms are endowed with the freedom to make choices. That means that they are accountable for the results of those choices. That is karma and it is something which teaches us to become responsible, knowledgeful and learn the secrets of creation for ourselves. Eventually, we ourselves learn to be in sync with the divine plan, and let the divine force balance the world out through us.

The second explanation is to do with vision. Only the divine Source has knowledge of past, present and future (free-will can change the future and therefore even prophetic souls cannot make definite predictions). If we could make everything the way we wanted, we would choose whatever is best in the short-term, because our perspective is limited to short-term experiences and consequences. Once we let the divine work through us, things start working out for us, but with a view to long-term progress. That’s why Jesus said, ‘Thy will be done.’ He trusted God more than he trusted himself. He knew that God’s plan could cause him difficulty in the short-term, but in the long-term, there would be some benefit. What that benefit will be cannot always be understood at the time that we call on God, which is why we think God does not listen when we pray.

Faith is the act of accepting that we are not always in control, but that there is some divine force looking out for us if we call on it. Faith does not guarantee a pain-free life, it does not offer extra comfort or immunity from danger. Faith is simply love for the divine plan, which we cannot understand but which creates within us an inexplicable wonder. Faith is love for the ways of the divine, which we get glimpses of every now and then, if we pay attention. Faith allows us to become courageous and strong; it allows us to overcome our fears. Faith beckons the divine force to flow through us so that its will can be done.

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Don’t lose the magic

We create reality on so many levels, but how can we know what is actually real? Are our thoughts, perceptions, feelings, intuitions actually real? If we can see something, taste it, smell it, touch it, hear it, does that mean it’s real? What if what we can see or hear cannot be seen or heard by others? Usually we define reality through collective perception, but what if the collective cannot perceive something which we perceive very strongly – are they blind or are we mad? We give validity to collective opinion, but is this correct?

I think that it is necessary to rely on the collective to define everyday reality because the collective is what keeps society going. But I think that this is something we need to do for convenience, not something which defines reality. I don’t believe in reality, or to put it another way, I believe in multiple realities. I believe that reality and illusion are not opposites, they are part of the same system which creates experiences. These experiences are relative and they come from personal perception. For instance, when we are children our parents look very big to us, but once we grow they look much smaller. Our perception changes according to our relative position. Sometimes we take collective reality so much for granted that we STOP QUESTIONING. We think ‘that’s just the way things are’. We lose the magic of being alive. We forget that reality is elusive and personal, not rigid and enforced. We lose our imagination, our freedom.

This is a very sad fact. Sometimes it takes a visionary to remind us of our magical life, to show us that we are capable of creating wonderful dreams and transforming them into everyday ‘reality’. Such visionaries have a versatile mind which can see beyond limited ways of understanding reality. They see beyond relative reality in order to search for something enduring, something ABSOLUTE, something which never changes. And sometimes, they find that absolute reality, and they spread the word about something wonderful which connects us all in a bond of enduring love.  But we take that message and often do not understand how to appreciate the wonder of it. We feel the power of God’s message in the messenger’s words, but we don’t know how to keep it alive in our everyday worlds, so we create a system for that message, we make a religion, we make a doctrine. In trying to solidify the message of God, we make it into something rigid, which is exactly what the messenger was trying to free us from. We create commandments and we say that the messenger gave us these ‘rules’ to follow. We become followers, when the messenger wanted us to be the leaders of our own wondrous reality. And that’s when the magic is lost.

Self-acceptance

For some reason, a lot of people dislike themselves. I think this comes from a culture of striving for perfection, trying to be the best, and ultimately realising that perfection is an unattainable ideal. People who are really happy and peaceful tend to accept imperfection and forgive themselves for past mistakes as they realise that it was vital to their growth and to making them stronger. The following list is from a book a friend of mine read and I think it is very useful for anyone struggling with self-acceptance…

1. self understanding – being as honest as possible with ourselves to understand why we think and act as we do and develop insight into our life situation.

2. self acceptance – accepting ourselves as we are.

3. self forgiveness – give up criticism of the self and forgive, no matter what.

4. self love – being our own best friend.

5. unconditional self love – a state where there is NO self judgement and NO self criticism.

6. awareness of our own divinity – realising we are an expression of God.

7. realising the magnitude of the great power (God) – this awareness grows as our consciousness expands.

8. realising we are beings of ‘light’ – no judgement of self or others.

9. realising the insignificance and unreality of the hypnotic suffering dimension – the suffering dimension is not real but a hypnotic state created by human thought and belief (i.e. we believe we are sinful, from beliefs of this or past lives and thus we must suffer to atone for our sins…. on a surface level we may not believe this, but dig deep…. is there something deeper that, motivated out of guilt, believes you need to suffer?)

10. realising everything is God – non duality. negative situations are not power but only the result of self judgemental beliefs and attitudes (past lives and this life).

God

Even before Nietzsche announced the ‘death of God’, people had begun to accept that perhaps God was just a human invention. The concept of God had no real significance except to keep society under control and allow some people to wield power over others. The mixing of religion, politics and God have led to much delusion and confusion about what God really represents. Also, the way in which we speak of God, as a patriarch having human tendencies, has led to many disputes between groups over what God really ‘wants’ from us.

In yogic terms, God is not an individual force; it is the ultimate uniting force and origin of the universe. Through social conditioning, we have been referring to God as ‘he’ for centuries, although God is neither male nor female. For me, the use of this pronoun is just a technicality. I feel that every religion has a true, mystical side which recognises the true essence of God, but the overlay of social practices has clouded this essence and created divisions amongst people of different faiths. That is why I prefer not to think of God in terms of any religion at all, but try and see the essential teaching in every faith. Although I value yogic teachings for their logic and health benefits, I do not adhere particularly to the conventional Hindu take on God.

I think God has a place in our lives because it brings about an awareness of our spiritual identity. It reminds us of the inevitability of death and teaches us to live a more meaningful life. Even with abounding physical health, mental prowess and access to life’s pleasures, living is incomplete without the experience of love. And God represents the highest and most universal expression of love.

Thank God for today

If we question the meaning of life, all we get are a series of theories. If someone tells us the meaning of life, all we can rely on is trust. But the only thing we can really be sure of is our own DIRECT experience. For instance, I now feel certain that I am not just a physical body because I have experienced Out-of-Body states. I sometimes have sleep paralysis, which can be frustrating in itself because my mind wakes up from sleep while my body is still in sleep mode. In this situation, I can often pull myself out of the physical body and go into a different, ‘energy’ plane known as the Astral Plane. In the Astral Plane, thoughts manifest into experiences straight away. So, this tells me that mind creates matter (although on the physical plane, this happens much more slowly).

These have been my direct experiences, so I have concluded that there is a spiritual dimension, and that somehow I am creating my reality. But how does it ALL work, every little bit of it? That I do not know. And where was I before I was born on this Earth? Where will I go afterwards? I just don’t know.

What I do know is the HERE and NOW. This small moment, which passes at the blink of an eye and seems so trivial is actually the be all and end all of life. This is the only place where we are truly alive. If we are living in the past or the future, then we miss this beautiful moment of being awake to reality.  Being in sync with the Universe in its awareness of the present moment, that’s what I call ‘God’ – for me it’s the Source of everything and the destination of everything.