Always we hope someone else has the answer, some other place will be better, some other time it will all turn out. This is it; no one else has the answer, no other place will be better, and it has already turned out.
On a recent radio show, the Guide offered us a simple assignment to turn our lives around. Record “I choose unconditional love” for twenty minutes and listen to it round the clock. She also offered an explanation as to why no one would do the assignment.
It’s because of what we are up against.
“We are up against what we’re always up against, and it’s not ‘out there,’ it’s not ‘him,’ not ‘her,’ not ‘them.’ It’s that system that exists inside each of us that talks us out of doing what would enable us to get rid of it.”
Awakening, it appears, is an “inside job.”
As we come to the end of another year, perhaps we can renew our commitment to stop being talked out of choosing the Unconditional unconditionally. Can we stop listening to and believing the voices of self-hate and embrace the “hitherto unperceived good” as who and what we are?
Twelve Days of Christmas
“The 12 Days of Christmas” is a popular holiday carol that describes the gifts “that a true love sent to me.” Here are twelve gifts from the True Love of Practice that can assist us to say yes to Life and no to the conversation.
Day 1 - A Gift of Miracles
Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. --Thomas Merton
When hatred prevails, does Goodness cease to exist? Egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate certainly wants us to think so! The conversation about hatred is meant to obscure the awareness of all that is loving, kind and beautiful. Stop ignoring the divine “shining through” and receive the miracles in the moment.
Day 2 - A Gift of Generosity
People think, “Oh, I’m being selfish if I allow somebody to be helpful to my life.” Actually, it’s being generous. Generosity is the willingness to share your life with others. It’s a gift to people to allow them to love you.
When we are listening to a conversation in conditioned mind, we feel excluded, isolated and alone. It never occurs to us that we can include ourselves! Practice the generosity of inviting someone to share something in your life. Allow yourself to receive the love and belonging that conditioned mind’s exclusivity denies you.
Day 3 - A Gift of a Broken Heart
May the Divine break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in.
We are bamboozled into barricading our hearts because we are conditioned to believe that we cannot stand the pain of loss, grief or disappointment. Practice allowing your heart to be broken open by being present to the compassion you feel when you witness someone, you perhaps, being tortured by the voices of self-hate.
Day 4 - A Gift of No Mistakes
Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.
How many of us feel the constant pressure of having to get it right, to do the right thing, to be the right person? We are so afraid to make a mistake that we are robbed of the joy of being alive. Embrace the gift of no mistakes and practice reveling in the freedom to be curious, playful and spontaneous.
Day 5 - A Gift of the Impossible
A path is made by walking on it.
So much of the conversation in conditioned mind is focused on what’s not possible, why something is a problem, all the ways the plan will not work, all the reasons that an idea will fail. When that conversation of negativity gets going, redirect attention to possibility. How can we make this happen? How will it work? Discover for yourself why “impossible” is not a priority for Life.
Day 6 - A Gift of Totality
If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
--Martin Luther King
We seldom have the experience of being completely and happily engrossed in what we do. How often have we heard the voices congratulate us on a job well done? Practice being wholeheartedly engaged (no attention on that conversation of comparison, judgment or assessment) in a task given to you and experience the reward of a job well done. A celebration recording is in order!
Day 7 - A Gift of Stillness
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost.
Stand Still. The forest knows
Where you are.
You must let it find you.
Our most intimate relationship is with the voice in our head, and so we are strangers to the Love of the Intelligence That Animates. Practice being still and let the forest find you. What is the experience of being loved by Life? R/L
Day 8 - A Gift of Letting Go
As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.
Is there an old karmic pattern that still imprisons you in bitterness and hatred? Give yourself the gift of a two-handed recording session and leave the story behind. Take that walk to freedom.
Day 9 - A Gift of Surrender
Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.
Even though we know that we need to encounter what we have to transcend, we identify with a feeling of failure when a karmic pattern of suffering repeats. If everything in Life is for you, practice embracing the gift in the encounter by being open and attentive to the teaching being revealed.
Day 10 - A Gift of Happiness
Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you.
We are often talked into believing that spiritual practice is a serious business. But practice is grim only for the ego. If we allow ourselves to dis-identify from conditioned mind, even for an instant, we experience the happiness that has been trying to find us. Stop, drop the conversation, and allow happiness to find you.
Day 11 - A Gift of Life
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers. It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow. I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
What is your experience of the Intelligence animating you? Do you know? Most of us don’t experience Life, we experience an illusion of separation from life and deem it a life experience. Practice “being made glorious by the touch of this world of life.” Allow yourself to be moved by it in tumultuous waves and dances of rhythmic measures. Record and Listen!
Day 12 - A Gift of Meditation
Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.
So much of our energy is spent in making the effort to get somewhere. As long as we can be bamboozled into believing that success, happiness and well-being are somewhere in the future and dependent on acquiring something, our life force is feeding ego. So bring out the cushion. Sit down in front of the blank wall and surrender to the realization of having arrived. Give yourself the gift of being present to the point of Life in each moment.
Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays!