Tag Archives: spirituality

The Stickiness of Soul Stories (and how to become unstuck)

I like to think of we individual human beings as bits of consciousness, embedded within greater fields of consciousness. Each of us is potentially evolving in awareness and understanding. Yet many of us remain stagnant, stuck in the world of the mind and it’s stories and beliefs.

This is very important to understand, because right now the human species is in a vastly accelerated transition phase of physical and consciousness evolution. This present time represents an incredibly rare opportunity for personal growth for the soul. To be unaware of this – and instead remain stubbornly locked in a rigid and inflexible story – is tragically wasteful.

The physical aspect of this evolutionary expansion has emerged via the technology which now allows us to manipulate genetic codes. This, combined with a massive and exponential capacity to store and process information via computers, means that evolution is no longer merely in the hands of the “gods.” We all have incredible power in our hands, a power that our ancestors could never have dreamed of.

The question then becomes: can we match this incredible physical evolution with a corresponding mental and spiritual evolution? This is of vital importantance. If we do not balance these two domains of evolution, then there is a strong possibility that we will abuse the power that we are being given. We are already abusing it in so many ways, as we all know from reading the daily news feed. How then, can we correct this imbalance?

Our education systems must make curriculum time for psycho-spiritual development. This must include not only conscious-mental reflection, but must help the young practice mindfulness and meditative presence. Without the capacity for meditative presence there is no chance for a person to be able to develop the capacity to witness the mind. And without the ability to witness mind, one remains imprisoned in whatever story the mind puts forward. And in turn that story will almost certainly be the one that reflects the trauma contained within our personal and karmic history.

When we fall for the delusion that we are the mind, we become stuck in the stories of the mind, in the pain of the past. And stories are very, very sticky.

From a grand cosmic perspective, you as an individual being trapped in a self-limiting story for a lifetime or a hundred lifetimes is a mere twinkling of starlight. Cosmic time dwarfs human mind-time. This is important to grasp, as there is no emergency from a grand perspective. And that means your getting stuck in the evolutionary mud is perfectly permissible in the greater scheme of things.

The truth is that most of our stories are a bit nasty, rather unpleasant and with more than a little suffering. There’s something wrong with me. I messed up. I’m not good enough. Basically, I suck and I got to try like hell to unsuck!

We also carry a story about the the world, and the themes tend to be repetitive. People can’t be trusted. They are mean and stupid, and trying to repress me. I’m a victim. The world is cruel, and we have to fight for survival. What is the point of trying anyway, when we all die?

The great news is that in perfect presence our stories dissolve, and along with them the suffering and fear that emerges from remembered pasts and fearful futures. So it is that our most empowered expression as individual humans arises in the present moment. The present moment permits a resplendent intelligence to emerge, a wisdom that simply cannot flower when we are stuck in the mind. In a seeming irony, perfect presence permits a far greater sense of the unfolding future. This is why wisdom is a natural expression of presence. We have a potential to make far smarter choices while in presence.

Most of us remain fixed in the world of story, and mostly this is because we are not present. We are not really in the wold when we are not present. We are living in an imaginary world of illusion, painting the world with such thick, dark colours that it’s natural light cannot be seen.

The mere acknowledgement that you are operating in the world of story is enough to dissolve the story, if only for a short time. The great news, as spiritual teacher Leonard Jacobson often says, is that presence never leaves us. It is we who leave presence. Yet the mere realisation that we are not present is an invitation to presence. With just a little understanding of what is required, we can return to presence whenever we wish. It truly is simple. Just be present with the body, the breath, or whomever or whatever you are with.

Once we are free of the story, we may begin to consciously construct a new, more desirable story, if that is what we wish. We can then play in the world of time and space again, only with greater awareness, joy and wisdom.

What story will you choose? And why?

The Biology of Story…

Rick Tarnas shared this site today called the Biology of Story, and it looks good. Some great sound bites, and neat, potted summaries of key ideas, which is very useful in the modern age. I found the videos wouldn’t load on the site itself on my iPad – I had to go through to YouTube to watch them. Some very informative short videos featuring people like Rupert Sheldrake and Fritfof Capra. To be honest, I don’t know some of the names listed there, but I will check some out in the coming days.

There is an interesting three-minute video where Capra outlines why new paradigms take time to take hold. He points to professional, institutional and cognitive resistance.

Do you really have a soul calling?

Follow-Your-Dream

The following is an extract from my upcoming book, Champion of the Soul.

Calling what?
In recent decades there has been a great enthusiasm for the idea of “following your bliss”. This is another subject I have written about in depth (in Discover Your Soul Template) and in the three years since I published that book I have contemplated and researched further on the subject area.

The essential question I have been considering is: “Is there any such thing as finding your calling?”

My answer is… it depends upon the individual, and also on how you define the term “a calling”.

For some people there is a strong urge within the soul to actualise an innate gift or ability. This may be true of piano players, football players or entrepreneurs, for example. It seems as though they were put here on this earth to express themselves through that innate talent.

Einstein took a non-demanding job as a patent clerk for several years simply so he could have the time to manifest his passion – to be a physicist. By the age of twenty-six he became world-famous when he produced his theory of relativity. The fame and fortune that followed enabled one of the great minds of modern science to explore the secrets of the universe with tremendous freedom.

Mahatma Gandhi was so convinced by his destiny to be a future political and spiritual leader, that when he was a young man and a stretcher bearer in the Boar War in South Africa, observers noted that he seemed to have almost no fear of death. This was despite the treacherous nature of life on the battle field.

Actor Jim Carey’s innate wackiness and comic genius was ideal for a career in Hollywood. He was well aware of this, and before he became one of the biggest names in Hollywood, he would drive his car up to the hills above Los Angeles and creatively visualise and affirm his future success in that hyper-competitive city.

These three men’s lives are typical of the dream scenarios that we read about in magazines and in biographies of the rich and famous. Such stories also get write-ups in popular self-help and new age books.

But there is a catch here of course. Nobody ever writes the biography of those who went bust in Los Angeles without having “made it”, or those who got shot up in a war last century and were never heard of again.

So we have to be a little careful in extrapolating that all of us have this kind of “calling”.

There are two major distinctions to note here.

The first is that – and sorry to tell you this – not everybody is destined to be rich, powerful and famous.

Secondly, many people – perhaps most – do not have a specific calling centred around one skill, ability or profession.

The good news is, though, that this does not have to stop you being passionate and joyful in your chosen field of work.

If you are a person who cannot readily identify a passion that can be easily expressed as a money-making profession, it might “pay” you to stop thinking of a calling as a specific destiny involving one profession. After all, if you cannot identify such a calling, it is logical to consider the likelihood that there may no bleedingly obvious single destiny for you! If “God” had such a purpose for you I suspect that she would have made your destination a little clearer.

In fact it is common for people to try several different career paths before they identify something that they are passionate about. And the research into this area is very revealing. People generally become passionate about work they are good at (or become good at), and where they have a strong sense of responsibility and control. And these things tend to increase with time on the job, as long as the right mind-set is adhered to.

Steve Jobs’ famous Stanford commencement speech has nearly nine million hits on Youtube. This talk, where Jobs implores his audience to follow their passion, is often cited when the idea of living your dream is discussed.

However, as Cal Newport has pointed out in So Good They Can’t Ignore You, it is interesting to note that Jobs’ early life indicated little of his ultimate destiny as an entrepreneur and Apple CEO. Jobs attended Reed College, a well-known liberal Arts school. We can assume that he was initially passionate about literature, poetry and physics, because that is what he studied – before dropping out. He was also intrigued by the spiritual dimensions of life, experimenting with LSD and travelling to India on a pilgrimage.

Later Jobs combined wits with a more capable programmer, Steve Wozniak, and they set up Apple Computers in Jobs’ parent’s garage. Cal Newport suggests that Jobs’ early life indicates that Jobs’ destiny at Apple was effectively ad-hoc, a result of random experimentation with the world. Such an analysis misses the obvious point that Job’s had a strong entrepreneurial spirit and was passionate about both design and human potential. Throughout the ups and downs of his career at Apple – and his decade away from the company – he stuck to the ideals of beauty, simplicity and functionality. These values were effectively an expression of his soul.

Nonetheless, my perception is that these values – and Jobs’ passion to go out in the world and create-  could have been expressed in a number of different ways. I doubt that before his soul entred this realm of existence that God had ordained that “Though shalt found Apple computers and crank out the iPhone, iPad and iPhone for mass consumption!”

What this means for your calling
For many of you reading this book, your “calling” is more likely to be found in a general domain related to your innate passions, rather than a divinely ordained career as a butcher, baker or candlestick maker.

For example, you may love writing, but you may not be quite certain what line of work to pursue which can express that passion.

Perhaps you want to teach, but the precise expression of that skill may not be obvious to you.

Or maybe you love math and physics, and nothing else fills you with such excitement, and are wondering how to turn that into ongoing professional work.

It is perfectly possible that there may be no precise love or calling that is “meant” for you. My strong recommendation is for you to follow your intuitive pull to train in a profession or practice that is related to your passion, and which has a strong value in the market place. Build skills and reputation in that domain before you jump headlong into any very narrow specific work that may not have clear value to others. In the end, you have to be of service to society, or you do not have a “calling” – you have a pastime.

A higher “calling”
There’s yet another important distinction that I would like to introduce to you that is vital when thinking about the idea of living your bliss. It is the failure to realise the importance of this point which leads to a lot of misunderstanding.

When contemplating your calling it is helpful to focus upon being true to your soul. This means fully honouring and expressing the innate beauty and courage that lies within you. And this happens naturally whenever you are present to life. You don’t even have to try. In fact “trying” to be present retards presence.

In practical terms, this necessitates that whatever career or work you are currently doing – or plan to do in the future – you look for opportunities to express your innate power and beauty.

So, an alternative to seeking your calling might be to ask the following questions of your current life and work situation.

• In this moment, how can I bring joy to what I do?
• What is it that brings me great joy??
• Can I bring such joyful activities and skills into fruition in the world of money and markets? Or perhaps merely as a hobby or service that is for free?

Love the one you’re with…
Perhaps it is, though, that you cannot do your preferred work at this time.

This could be for any number of reasons. Perhaps you need to wait some time while building up skills and reputation before you quit your job. Maybe you are still figuring out how to monetise your passion and have to dabble in it part-time while working the night shift. Or you might not yet know what it is you are really passionate about.

In such a scenario I have the following suggestion.

Instead of waiting for your passion to find you, bring your passion to your work by being passionate about it!

In this case be present with – and love – what you do.

To take from an old song, “If you can’t have the job you love, love the job you have.”

Almost any act of creation – including any “job” – can be an act of love.

Again, the key to this is mindfulness. In any job, no matter how “mundane”, you bring divinity to the moment by being fully present. The shelf-stacker at the supermarket brings light to his soul and that of the customer when he joyfully guides that inquisitive person to find the mint sauce in aisle three. The teacher brings divinity to chaos when she is fully present and forgiving when she enters her year eight lower-stream class, last period Friday afternoon. This may include being forgiving of her own anger and fear at her powerlessness to discipline a rowdy group of hormone-fuelled teenagers. The street cleaner brings love to an unkempt street as he passes his humble broom back and forth across the dusty pavement, smiling at passes by.

Presence illuminates the darkness. In the end, your calling is to light the darkness in your own soul. For this in turn is what helps to enlighten the world, little by little.

To accept such a calling necessitates becoming a champion of the soul; and in particular a champion of the inner child. You honour your highest self and express your calling when you simply embody your true love and power.

Notice that there is nothing in this job description about actual nine-to-five duties.

By all means, seek to do work that is intrinsically joyful to your nature. I believe this is for the greater good of all. But even more important is bringing your joyful nature to your work.

 

Love the boss too
It is mostly the layers of pain contained within the emotional body – including the layers of distracting stories and false beliefs – which occlude our light. This is what clouds our days at the office.

It isn’t the boss’ fault.

Nonetheless, because life tends to reflect back to us the innate beliefs and stories that we hold within our psyches, the boss is likely to be a reflection of your soul story. Yet even if he or she is a psychopath, that reflection offers an opportunity for you to see yourself at a deeper level.

I’m not suggesting you need to hang around a toxic work environment and get beaten up for ten years to learn a soul lesson.

Perhaps you need to trust the universe enough to let him go and re-enter the job market.

But be careful. The universe can be a harsh mistress. If you try to run away from a situation that is merely a mirror to your soul, that scenario will most likely reappear in your life story, and in short time.

Ultimately there may be an opportunity to transform your relationship with Psycho Boss by stepping more fully into your soul power, and without turning the whole episode into a huge drama – as so many do. This is where being a champion off relationships is of great value. Having advanced social intelligence and great spiritual maturity, you may be able to subtly “work” your boss.

If the story that your mind is bringing forth is that “The boss is a bitch and I’m a victim!”, chaos and suffering will quickly evolve and you will not learn a great deal at a soul level.

Why Life is Cruel: A Spiritual Perspective

The following is an extract from my upcoming book, Champion of the Soul.

The soul’s journey is one of grace. The universe guides us and nurtures us, much like a loving parent.
But that parent knows the value of tough love. Oftentimes it leads us into places that lead to suffering, where that suffering can deepen our wisdom. And it is perfectly willing to allow us to make foolish choices which can lead to painful outcomes.

I have come to know this from personal experience, and from witnessing the lives of others.

Not that long ago I personally experienced this yet again in my life. I attended a teacher-training course run by Cambridge University, the CELTA course. This programme for teachers of English as a second language is well known for being very, very tough.

In fact, it was far tougher than any training I have ever done. All teachers were required to undergo eight trainer-evaluated lessons and submit four written assignments within the space of twenty days, not including weekends.

I received the evaluation of “unsatisfactory” for my second and third lessons. For the third lesson my evaluator gave me an unsatisfactory grade for ten of the twenty assessed criteria! This must have been close to a company record.

As you might imagine, I did not feel good about this. In fact for a few hours after receiving my feedback I felt quite depressed, and beat myself up. The possibility that I would fail the entire course was looking a distinct possibility. I wondered whether I should give up. I was certainly tempted to do so. But within a few hours I remembered why I had entered the course in the first place: to receive critical evaluation of my teaching, and use the feedback to become a better teacher.

I felt despondent, but resolved to keep going. Most of all I stopped beating myself up. I stopped taking it personally.

That night as I lay down to sleep I received two pieces of spiritual guidance. Often I hear songs being played to me in this state between waking and sleeping. To be honest, I don’t really know where the melodies come from, but it seems likely they are either initiated by spiritual guides or my higher self.

The first line to come to me was very simple: “Teacher, keep on teaching.” These words are from a Stevie Wonder song, “Higher Ground”. I knew that the words were encouragement for me to keep going. To keep teaching. I knew that I was making the right decision to continue the programme.

The second song that came through to my inner ear were from an old Nick Lowe song, and contained these lines:

Cruel to be kind, in the right measure
Cruel to be kind it’s a very good sign
Cruel to be kind means that I love you, baby
You gotta be cruel to be kind

The lyrics told me that even though the feedback that I was getting from my teacher-trainers was very, very critical, it was actually in my best interests. It was, in a sense, an act of love.

I knew then that I need not take the evaluations personally, but should see them as a means to improve as a teacher.

I returned to my lesson-preparations the next day with renewed vigour. For my next lesson I received excellent evaluations, and I passed all remaining five lessons, all remaining assignments and ultimately the course itself.

Best of all, I learned an incredible amount about teaching. And learning.

The truth is that life – and God if you prefer to use this word – is often like my experience on the CELTA teaching programme. Things may sometimes seem cruel or unkind. But all things are an opportunity to learn. All things inner and outer an opportunity to awaken from the dream of mind; from the delusion that it is “all about me”.

Trusting the cruel queen
Please allow me to share something else a little personal.

In between the two failed CELTA lessons – which were taught about four days apart – I had the following dream. I transcribe it here exactly as I wrote it down in my dream journal.

Two other students from the (CELTA) course are getting some kind of psychic reading from a female oracle. She towers before us like a giant statue, and seems to look somewhat like the virgin Mary, although her image in hazy. The oracle’s head has all the left side missing (her left), as if someone has taken a great knife and chopped the left side of her face off.

I am slightly frightened and overawed.

I think R. (another student on the course) is beside me to my right. He gets a reading first. There is a loaf of bread in front of him, and I know this represents the soul issue he is being shown.

Next, the oracle turns to me.

“You’ve been into the left-hand side of the sea.” She says to me. “If you are to ever have hope, you must deal with your anger.”

There is now a loaf of bread in front of me, round and brown, which seems to represent my anger. I say something like that the issue is old, but the oracle says, “No, it’s fresh.” I look again, and sure enough the loaf seems fresh-baked.

“Have you ever lost a finger?” the giant oracle says as she she reaches down with a sharp, metal, serrated-edged knife and begins to slice into the long finger on my right hand, just to mid-right of the tip (hand facing me). I do not know whether to trust her, scared she will cut off the finger. She seems almost flippant, with a callous kind of humour.

There then comes the idea that one has to trust the goddess in these situations, so I present the hand. The blade cuts into my finger, but stops just a short way into the flesh.

I am relieved.

I wake up.

In this dream the symbolism is clear. Sometimes God (or the goddess) will invite you into places that are frightening, which might be fearful or even trigger trauma and suffering. But there is an intention that through the experience you might be brought into deeper awareness of your soul issues, of the self-limiting beliefs and stories that you carry in your mind.

Although the meaning might not be apparent to you, for me the personal nature of the dream above was clear. In this dream my anger and blame was towards the world. The belief was that no matter what I did, I would fail, that the world would push me down. This is a victim narrative.

I might add that it is one of the most common soul issues amongst people in the world today.
The reference to going into the left-hand side of the sea was an oblique reference to allowing myself to become too caught up “in the head” and disconnecting with my body – including my deeper emotional body.

The term “the left-hand side of the sea” was an indirect reference to the left-hand side of my brain – and my developing an unbalanced cognitive predisposition which left me ungrounded and disconnected from my emotional and intuitive body.

The important thing is that no matter what your life circumstances, no matter what set of cards life has dealt you, you are still responsible for your anger and projections. God does not grant excuses. No matter how downtrodden you are (including your “people”), there is an opportunity to see through the story of the mind and into the clarity of the present moment. There is an opportunity to heal.

You just have to be prepared to own your story, assume responsibility for whatever pain lies behind it, and then release it all to God.

Never believe the story that your mind is trying to sell you. Never believe the story that your people are pleading with you to take on – no matter how morally vindicated you believe they are.

For that story is what locks you into the world of the past, into the world of pain.
And into the world of karma.

Marcus

What Can I do about Feeling Ugly and Unlovable? (The 5 Minute Mystic #7)

Many people feel that they are not lovable. They may feel ugly and bad, regardless of what they actually look like. In this edition of The Five Minute Mystic I answer this question from Lesley, and suggest what can be done to address the problem and to heal.

Dear Marcus

Can you give me some advice? Do you have anything that will help me feel more accepting of myself, warts and all? I am on this solitary path where people shun me and don’t understand me and look at me with disdain. Thanks, Lesley

 

 

Video of exTEDWestHollywood event!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The exTEDWestHollywood event is now viewable through their website. This is the event that TED withdrew its science from because they said there was too much “pseudoscience”. Speakers include Russell Targ, Craig Weiler, Larry Dossey and Marianne Williamson. Suzanne Taylor managed to get the event off the ground even though TED withdrew their license at the last minute. She also largely financed it out of her own pocket! Click on the link below to watch it via their website.

Marcus

http://new.livestream.com/newparadigm/newparadigmevent

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The spiritual trap

BLOG: I am a little unusual amongst the Futures Studies community in that I am one of the few futurists who is very open about the importance of allowing a space in our futures for the spiritual dimensions of experience to unfold. If we initiate policies and organisational practices which focus too much on economic development, productivity and efficiency, we are planning for a very bland life experience, one stripped of life’s very essence. I have long pointed out the limits of scientific and empirical research – and the culture of modern science and unbalanced capitalism – in being able to understand these issues. You just can’t measure the subtlety of spiritual experience; and there isn’t a lot of money to be made from any research into it. So it is poorly funded and poorly understood.

You might think I am suggesting that we should all become more “spiritual”. But you would be wrong. Setting yourself up as a “spiritual” person ironically has the likely consequence of making Spirit less available to you.

Take a look at most spiritual groups and organisations. It doesn’t take too long to realise – after walking in the door – that there is either explicitly or implicitly an attitude that “we are morally and spiritually superior to the others”. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about mainstream religion, or alternative spiritual groups. The current Muslim protests and riots across many countries are a good example. Even as they condemn others for oppressing them, the protesters believe that they are culturally superior. The other is always more racist, more prejudiced, more “evil’ than “we”. Yet to all outsiders looking in, the vengeful mob exhibits all of those qualities in abundance!

But are “we” really that different from the rioters? The answer is a definite “no”. Many Christians believe that they have found the way to God through Jesus, and that it is the only way. Buddhists believe that they are superior because they do not adhere to dogma. Practitioners of the Tanta believe that they know the true secret, that “nothingness’ lies at the heart of all things. New Agers feel that only they have seen through the conspiracy of silence, and that they know “the secret” of the law of attraction.

You might be getting a bit pissed off as you read this, especially if you identify with any of those groups. You might even say “I already know all this.” It’s beginner’s stuff.”

And you’d be right, too. This is an obvious awareness that is not difficult to see. Yet what I have come to realise is that this is a truth which needs to be revisited over and over again by anyone who sets out on a “spiritual” path. This is because the mind – or ego – by its very nature sees itself as separate and superior. I catch myself doing this all the time.

“I know best.”

“I already know this stuff.”

“Yeah, yeah. What else is new?’

“Let me tell you the truth!”

It is impossible to transcend this problem at the level of mind, no matter how many times the mind has come to “know” it. You can’t “think” your way out of it. Whenever we are in the world of thought, judgment arises and we are in the world of separation.

So how does one rise above the issue, if one cannot defeat it? The answer is that you don’t “beat” it. You just come into right relationship with it. You develop a gentle and loving attitude towards your own projections as they arise within you. This is how you become a “parent” unto yourself. Just as parent firmly and lovingly disciplines a child, you learn to lovingly witness your mind and “correct” its misunderstandings. Just notice the judgment as it arises, and gently return your attention to something that is “real” – say your breath or the pen on your desk. You might even like to have a little chuckle and “confess” your humanness to “God”, as I do. “Oh, I noticed that I feel morally superior to Jim. That’s good to see.”

It is incredibly simple. Just imagine what the world would be like if all “spiritual” and religious organisations taught people this! We certainly wouldn’t see people screaming hatred at the other on the streets. Much of our anger – though not necessarily all – would be understood to be the mind’s way of justifying its own sense of separation. And superiority.

Of course that would all be a little embarrassing. We would lose face. There would be an “ego fall” as the mind sees itself for the truth of what it is. Not separate. Not superior. Merely the same.

So stop being so spiritual. It’s a trap. Just be here. Just like them. Spiritual “practice” can cut you off from people and the world, and leave you feeling decidedly disconnected. Fragmented, even.

And don’t forget to thank “them” when you see yourself. They just taught you a great lesson.

 

Blessings,

 

Marcus

 

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