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- Jonathan Lockwood Huie (jlh @sail7.com)

The content of all my blogs/websites consists entirely of personal opinion.
See a medical professional for all issues of physical and emotional health.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

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Transformation

When we think about learning in the sense of school education, we are generally thinking about facts and skills. Education in that sense is generally both a time-consuming, and a linear process. By "linear" I mean that if you are memorizing the 81 elements of the single-digit multiplication table, you will learn a few more facts each day. If it takes a week to memorize the table, you have probably memorized 11 or 12 facts each day.

Transformation is very different from linear learning. In transformation, one can, in a single moment, begin to view life very differently than the moment before. Sometimes, transformative moments occur naturally. Being present at the birth of one's own child might be an example of that kind of transformative moment. You watch the new life emerge. You go "wow!" And then what? Maybe the experience is gone an hour later - and your life is just the same. Maybe your reaction is fear that you might lose the precious new life. Or maybe you experience a lasting spiritual connection with all humanity and all creation that you never believed possible. What makes it "transformation," is not the outcome, but that it is a sudden shift, and that it relates to your overall experience of life, rather than to discrete knowledge.

Transformation can also be intentional. While one cannot just say, "I am going to transform how I experience life, right now," one can create situations that greatly increase the opportunity for transformation to happen.

For millennia, people around the world have used ceremonies to encourage transformation. Music, dance, singing, chanting, drumming, and fire have all been transformation-inducing elements for ages.

Anything and everything that interrupts the habits of everyday life, supports transformation - travel, spiritual retreats, as well a ceremonies. To consider one example, early societies had extended coming-of-age rituals, such as sending a boy into the wilds to live alone for several weeks, and expecting that an adult would return. While such an experience does not always transform one's outlook on life, it does strongly support and encourage such transformation.

Personally, I have participated in a number of events that were designed to support transformation - including a spiritual journey with don Miguel Ruiz to the sacred site of Teotihuacan, the Landmark Forum, and a week at Byron Katie's School for the Work. Some of these experiences were truly amazing - but always, what matters most is the attitude one brings with them to such events. Transformation cannot happen unless one is open to new experiences and willing to consider a variety of new perspectives.

Werner Erhard, the founder of EST, the predecessor of the Landmark Forum, said,

All Knowledge is Divided into Three Domains:
"What We Know",
"What We Know That We Don't Know", and
"What We Don't Know That We Don't Know."

That is the key to transformation. Transformation is about the third part of that quote. When we don't know what is missing in our lives - because we have never experienced it - there is no way we can create it or search for it. What we can do, is to disrupt our lives in a way that creates the possibility for Spirit to find a way to enter our lives in a new way and to give us gifts we never imagined.

This Traditional Zen Koan illustrates another key to transformation.

Overflowing Cup of Tea:
The Zen Master poured his visitor's teacup full, and then kept pouring.
The visitor watched until he could no longer restrain himself.
"It is overfull. No more will go in!"
"Like this cup," the Zen Master said,
"you are full of your own opinions and assumptions.
How can you learn truth until you first empty your cup?"

What prevents our transformation is never knowing too little. The problem is always "knowing" too much, and not being open to new experiences, perspectives, and gratitudes.

Mark Twain said much the same thing in his down-home style.

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble.
It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.


I recommend that everyone occasionally allocate the time to create a total interruption from daily habit for a few days, to create the space for transformation to occur.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

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Overcome Being Negative

Question: (edited)

I am having problems with being negative all the time and judgmental. I used to be much more spiritual. I am in a job where my boss disrespects me and lies to me. I'm actively looking for another job, but I can't find any. I ask God what is my lesson here. I'm afraid and angry. I want to become more spiritual again. What can I do?

Answer:

Your circumstances are certainly challenging. Begin by accepting that you have been given a difficult lot.

We cannot choose our external circumstances,
but we can always choose how to respond to them.
- Epictetus

1. Make a gratitude list. For every complaint you have about your life, write down five things you have to be grateful for.

If you are having trouble filling a long list with gratitudes, you can use A List of Gratitudes for suggestions.

2. Being of service to others will help you regain your joy and your connection with Spirit. Consider that your co-workers are probably treated as badly as you, and are probably as frustrated, angry , and hopeless. Find ways to brighten their lives, and you will brighten your own.

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men
who walked through the huts comforting others,
giving away their last piece of bread...
They offer sufficient proof that everything
can be taken from a man but one thing:

to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances,
to choose one's own way.

- Viktor E. Frankl

As we work to create light for others,
we naturally light our own way.
- Mary Anne Radmacher

Check out the Being of Service to Others section of The Secret of Happiness for more ideas on service.

3. Spend time with positive and spiritual people. If you can't find a church group you feel comfortable with, look in your community, and among your positive and spiritually-minded friends.

4. Meditate or pray. See Have a Conversation with God, Today

Read How to Keep a Positive Attitude Around Negative People for more ideas.

You may also find value in these articles...

Regarding gratitude and life

Zero-Based Gratitude

Pay It Forward - as an Expression of Universal Gratitude

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

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Great Truths

There are trivial truths and there are great truths.
The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false.
The opposite of a great truth is also true.
- Niels Bohr


Niels Bohr, the great Danish physicist who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 for his fundamental contributions to the understanding of atomic structure and quantum mechanics, is making a point that is very Zen - or very Taoist if one prefers.

An example of a "great truth" for which the opposite is also true is the statement, "You are not your body; you are not your mind." While it is very true, if one so believes, that the "real you" is neither physical nor mental, it is simultaneously true that your body and your mind are very real, and ignoring their reality is likely to cause great suffering.

Another example of a "great truth" is the Golden Rule. It is true that we should treat others as we wish to be treated in the sense of being kind and compassionate to everyone. Yet the opposite of the Golden Rule is also true in the sense that it is kind and compassionate to recognize that everyone is called to a different life path and to honor those differences.

The water in a vessel is sparkling; the water in the sea is dark.
The small truth has words which are clear; the great truth has great silence.
- Rabindranath Tagore


Lao Tzu: The words of truth are always paradoxical.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

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How to Cope When Life Lands a One-Two Punch?

Maybe you got fired, you can't find a job, your bank account is overdrawn, and life looks hopeless. Maybe you or your family is suffering a health crisis, or your spouse left your long-term-marriage. Whatever the specifics, when they attack, troubles seem to gang up on you. One problem leads to another until you feel your world is ending. The loss of job, health, or marriage leads to loss of financial security, and any sort of crisis leads to emotional depression. How to cope when life lands a one-two punch?

Respond to the crisis with a three-phase counter-attack:

1. Acceptance: Before you can recover from a crisis, you have to acknowledge that the devastation before your eyes is real. When life broadsides you, your first instinct is to look at the flaming crumpled wreck in disbelief and think, "This isn't real, this can't have just happened." But it did happen, and you can't move back the hands of time and ask the director for take-two. This isn't a movie, it's your real life. As William Shakespeare said, "What's done is done."

True acceptance requires giving up all resentments and regrets. Blame is not going to fix anything. Screaming at your ex-boss or ex-husband or sticking pins in their voodoo doll isn't going to change your situation, and it will make you feel even more upset.

The key to acceptance is forgiveness of everyone, especially yourself, for everything that has ever occurred. Forgiveness is for yourself - so you can release yourself from the fires of anger and hatred that will otherwise burn your spirit to a cinder. Adopt an attitude of forgiveness - not so your ex-boss or ex-husband can sleep better, but so you can transform your own nightmares into sweet dreams.

2. Faith: If you are deeply religious, you know what this means. In any case, have faith in your own abilities and in your future.

3. Action: Acceptance and faith are important, but they are not enough. Believe in the future and don't worry, but also keep taking action.

When you get hit by a sequence of challenges, such as job loss, financial worries, and depression, you need to respond with all three: Acceptance, Faith, and Action.

Release Exercise

Life is Not Supposed to be Fair

Choose Your Habits, Choose Your Life

Acceptance Quotes

Forgiveness Quotes

Faith Quotes

Quotes about Letting Go

Quotes about Moving On

Also see these websites by friends and associates.

Emotional Freedom Technique (www.law-of-attraction-website.com)