By Phillip Hawkins
Published by[* Badger Design Studios*]
To my son Raymond
Who through personal adversity discovered how strong he is. Hard work helped him to discovered what he is capable of achieving, and through his desire to understand learned that the most important place to fit in is to be comfortable with who you are and true to yourself.
People wrongly assume that being on your own means you will be lonely, but this isn’t always the case. Loneliness isn’t a location; it’s a state of mind and can be found hidden in plain view amongst the largest of crowds. Victims of loneliness aren’t born that way; they are created often as a result of circumstances or other peoples actions. Some experts believe that by the age of three we have a clear sense of identity of who we are, and how we fit in with those around us. If this is true our sense of self, our growing knowledge and understanding is more traditional than educational, and this conditioning influences our development from a very early age.
Sometimes the conditioning is so well established, so complete people have no idea of who they really are or what they are capable of achieving, unfortunately some go through their whole lives without being aware of this stranger that lives their life. A traumatic event or a life changing wakeup call can pull us up short and get us to stop and re-evaluate our lives, to take a long hard look at what’s important, and ask ourselves what we believe in, and think long and hard about the way we are living our life. The ‘pursuit’ of happiness is a futile exercise as we chase after the next emotional fix to raise our spirits. Happiness is an inside job but it’s the last place most people think to look to find it, happiness can be taken from us by another only if we look to them or it, to provide it for us in the first place.
We come into this world unbiased, uncluttered, and free from any preconceived ideas about ourselves or those around us. The vast majority of our beliefs, values, fears, and ideas are given to us by others, and we accepted them as our own simply because we knew no different. Those around us automatically become our teachers regardless of whether they are qualified or suitable for the task. During our formative years everyone we come in contact is influential in our lives, the closer the relationship the stronger the bond and the greater the influence and control they exert over us.
The problem we have is teachers can only teach us what they themselves have learnt, and although we eventually begin to create our own experiences, the template for those experiences has already become well established and influences what we believe, and the way we have been conditioned to think. It’s only when we take time to re-evaluate those beliefs and values can we begin to gain a baseline of awareness and a growing understanding of who we are.
It’s about discovering the truth about who contributed to making us the way we are. Its only when we begin to understand ourselves can we make conscious decisions as to which of our beliefs and values we wish to retain, develop and call our own.
Once we reach this point we must be ready to release and let go of any misplaced guilt we are holding on to. Where once we may have blamed ourselves for every mistake and error of judgement we have ever made, we must now be willing to recognise and accept that those who created us the way we are must take some of the responsibility. Failure to do so means we burden ourselves with guilt while offering the model makers a free pardon and absolution from the consequences of their actions. The desire to stand out from the crowd often comes with age and maturity or when circumstances requires a level of creativity that only comes from the ability to think outside of the box. This is virtually impossible to those who are unaware that the box exits, or the possibilities that lie beyond it. Those who fear to stand out will seek the anonymity of the crowd and find comfort in conformity. Their identity and direction will be influenced if not defined by trends and the path of least resistance; they will go along to get along, simply going with the flow.
You can follow Phillips works live on facebook on www.facebook.com/PhillipHawkinsReiki
or the live blog on his website www.philliphawkinsreiki.wordpress.com
Chapter 1 - Education Is Meant To Free The Mind Not Enslave It
Chapter 2 - Better To Be Freed By The Truth Than Held Captive By A Lie
Chapter 3 - To The Mind That Is Closed An Open Door Is A Barrier They Cannot Pass
Chapter 4 - The True Cost Of Spiritual Freedom
Chapter 5 - Religion And Celebrity Status; Enslavers Of The Mind
Chapter 6 - A Teachers Role Is To Educate Not Indoctrinate
Chapter 7 - We Are A Product Of Our Past And The Creators Of Our Future
Chapter 8 - Sowing The Seeds Of Knowledge And Understanding Must Eventually Bear Fruit
Chapter 9 - Everything Has A Purpose, But We Must Give It Value And Meaning
Chapter 10 - To See Or Not To See, That Is The Question?
Chapter 11 - Looking Beyond What You Just Looked At
Chapter 12 - Not All Ancients Are Good; But Some Are Awesome
Chapter 13 - The Nature Of Abuse
Chapter 14 - Sorry You Are... Who?
Chapter 15 - A Good Yin Is Nothing Without A Good Yang
Chapter 16 - How Many Ways Do We Say It’s Ok?
Chapter 17 – Change Isn’t Magic, It’s A Process
Chapter 18 – We Must Choose What Defines Us
Chapter 19 – The Smallest Change Often Brings About The Greatest Improvement
Phillips Sign Off
Conditioned to conform throughout our formative years, the education system reinforces the process by instilling the belief that society is built on conformity and the individual’s duty is to fit in and abide by the rules set in place by those in a position of power and authority to do so. Leaders who would have us believe they have our best interests at heart, unfortunately those who impose the rules don’t always comply with them, seeing themselves as in some way exempt and above the law of the land. The might of the establishment takes on the mantle of righteousness and their mantra is you must do as we say, and not what we do. When sacrifices are to be made, those in a position of political, religious and financial power ensure their followers obediently do so, so they themselves never have to.
Education that seeks to free the mind and a healthy dose of insanity are brothers from another mother. Education asks us to loosen our grip on reality and to step into the unknown; those who reject the constraints of social norms are often considered strange or even mentally unstable. Paradoxically those born into captivity find comfort in the confines of their cage no matter how small and freedom can appear frightening reality. A mind held captive by indoctrination and conditioning will think it insane to venture out into the unknown and leave behind the safety of what it ‘knows’ to be true. We should never assume that what we think is the norm; just because we think it; others may not share our views or think the same way that we do. From their perspective or point of view, they are right and it’s us who are wrong, and we must be blind not to see something so obvious. In one sense they are right, we can all be blind to the things we don’t want to see and to a certain extent this is created by the way our brain works in its effort to make sense of the world we have created.
Those who feel the need to be truthful with others are often the first to lie to themselves. Lies can be wonderful things when their words are sweet to the ears of those who have no desire to hear the truth. Lies make great companions when we seek to deceive ourselves, or hide behind the actions that would otherwise reflect our true character. The most convincing lie is that which contains the greatest element of truth; it entraps the unwary as they hold onto what they wish to be true. In doing so, they unwittingly become prisoners of their own ignorance and fear. Lies can be beguiling but truth is uncompromising; its hard edges can appear abrupt and unyielding yet it is often the grain of truth that irritates us more than the words themselves. Lies seek to conceal and entrap while the truth seeks to enlighten and educate, and no matter how uncomfortable the truth is, it is better to be freed from ignorance and fear than held captive by a beguiling lie.
Freeing the mind can be very liberating, as we reclaim our personal power through the letting go of other people’s beliefs and values, and more importantly stop taking responsibility for other people’s actions. It’s also personally empowering to ask the question; is what I now believe about myself supporting my idea of who I am, and who I want to be?
This new mindset is liberating to budding free thinkers who want to understand and know their true self, but frightening to those who resist all forms change and are addicted to the sedation of their comfort zone. Conformity is a prison with many cells that seeks to control separate, segregate and divide, using the belief that we are defined not by our humanity, but by colour, creed, race and religion. What we believe determines our reality; our beliefs create structure and a platform from which we sit in judgement of those we consider different. Lines drawn in the sand soon become entrenched and then defended against an enemy of our own making, while the real enemy of humanity goes unnoticed. Conformity becomes our prison; ignorance and fear are our jailors, but knowledge and understanding provides the key to our release. Before we try to fit in with others we must first learn to honour our own space and when you do you can never be lonely if you like the person you find within that space.
Scientist and Nobel Prize winner Max Planck said ‘Matter in the form of solid objects as we understand it doesn’t exist in the way we think it does’. If life is not what we think it is then the barriers that appear to confine and define us must also be illusionary. If knowledge and understanding are the keys to our release then spirituality becomes the guide that can lead us to freedom, but only if we the courage to pay the price and the desire to follow its direction.
A clear and precise definition of who or what spirituality is would be a good place to start unfortunately there isn’t one. What there appears to be is a general consensus that spirituality is an activity that brings about change, growth and a re-formation of the personality. From this we can see that spirituality can be defined as any meaningful activity that meets the above criteria. Living in a predominantly materialistic world as we do spirituality can quickly become a commodity influenced as much by market forces as by the esoteric knowledge we are supposedly searching for. Spirituality is big business, a growing multimillion dollar business with entrepreneurs always looking for a new niche in the market, or a new and unique spin on what is a very old tried and tested product. In an effort to break free we can if we are not careful, simply exchange one brand of conformity for another.
Whatever our view on the commercialisation of spirituality we have to accept that spirituality comes at a price. That price is the individual’s commitment to their own development through the acquisition and application of knowledge and understanding. Without that commitment, that desire, nothing of value can be achieved, for esoteric wisdom is by definition hidden and requires commitment and dedication to find it. This journey of discovery, can in many ways be the easy bit, the hard part requires us to change, to not only think outside the box, but to step outside of it and live by what we have learnt. The easy option is to pay your fee, attend the obligatory retreat or seminar, and listen to only what you want to hear so it doesn’t challenge your deep seated beliefs and values too much, adding yet another certificate to your ever growing collection as testament to your spirituality. As in all walks of life certificates say more about attendance than achievement and actions speak louder than words, and the most powerful lessons are those that are learned and lived instead of just preached.
Religion the great enslaver of minds once held the monopoly on all things spiritual, but as science gained a foothold it began to challenge the churches version of events and offer a different take on the universe and story of the creation. In many ways religion has failed to address the important issues of modern day living and the stock in trade response of ‘its God’s will’ is no longer acceptable in a technological age where ignorance like faith, is a matter of personal choice. Once something becomes a commodity it becomes open to exploitation as are the people who literally buy into a product that is on offer at a very reasonable and justifiable price. The higher the price the greater the perceived spiritual value on offer and those who can afford exorbitant amounts are encouraged to feel elevated and privy to esoteric knowledge not available to those in a lower income bracket. The medicinal salesmen of old are alive and well, they still offer a cure all at a price, but now they are image conscious and understand the finer details of public relations. Their image and the success they offer is as much a part of the product as is the information they present as the key to everyone’s future success. Take something simple and make it appear unduly complicated, then charge for the pleasure of making it appear simple again. If you have the advantage of celebrity status it becomes a guaranteed success as people become blinded to the truth by the brightness of the glitz and glamour before them.
Knowledge and understanding are power and the more we understand about ourselves and the universe we are a part of the more informed and educated we become. Spiritual knowledge and understanding are not the same as academic or vocational expertise. Mainstream education is not set up to free minds, it’s an institution designed to condition developing minds to think in a way that maintains the status quo and sustain society’s structure and power base. When a society is governed by a level of control that demands obedience, conformity and the acceptance of the idea that the right to govern comes as a birthright of the privileged, a mind that can think for itself becomes a clear and present danger and more of a threat than a violent revolution.
What we are spoon fed as news and stories of interest by the media is controlled by the conglomerates who own the media, the banks big business and they exert pressure and control over politics and the politicians in order to maintain and strengthen their power and control. They have a vested interest in creating what we see, hear and subsequently believe to be true. This willingness on our part to accept a life that has taken on a ‘reality show’ persona means without thinking, many are ready and willing to accept a spiritual placebo that lacks real substance but has the effect of softening the edges of life and keeping us trapped in a mundane existence. TV has become the opium of the masses.
When we think of value it invariably equates to material possession and it can be argued that you can’t put a price on knowledge and understanding. This is true to a certain extent and a problem arises when the spiritual concept tries to make the transition into the written word. Mainstream publishers don’t own the monopoly on spirituality, its quality or content; their remit is one of profitability and the number of copies they can sell so there is always a trade off between commercialism and a sound spiritual message that lacks a high profile name or falls outside of the publisher’s field of interest or expertise. When achieving a place on the bookshelf or the best sellers list becomes the over ridding priority the content although well written may owe more to marketing than the spiritual content of the book, or the life experience of the author.
Thinking alone won’t set anyone free. The ability to think simply allows us to revisit what we already know and accept to be true. If we want to change we have to take personal responsibility for our own development and sooner or later begin to question and challenge what we believe in, and hold to be true. While the questions of who, what why and when may be universal, the answers discovered within ourselves may set us on totally different paths to this spiritual awareness. This is how it should be; no single path stands higher than another or is any way more spiritual than it’s contemporary. If our destination is enlightenment through the acquisition and application of knowledge and understanding of self, then our priority must be to allow our faltering steps to take us where they lead safe in the knowledge that the universe and the life it provides are the ultimate teachers of the student who is ready and willing to learn.
One of the greatest spiritual teachers comes free of charge and is available all year round whenever its help and guidance is required. Mother Nature has the power to heal and educate on so many levels; walking on a deserted windswept seashore has the power to clear the mind and provide perspective like nothing else can do. Time spent walking in the countryside eases both mind and body as the stresses and strains of a hectic lifestyle simply melt away. A flowing stream or river encapsulates the flow of life, and with the ability to sit quietly allowing our senses to tune into the life giving energy around us, a clarity of mind and spirit is the gift we are given. A forest provides the opportunity to sit at the feet of a great and powerful teacher; to sit in silence at the base of a mighty tree is to experience the earth’s life force as it effortlessly creates and sustains the life that we enjoy and take so easily for granted.
If spirituality is a meaningful activity that brings about change, growth and a re-formation of the personality then getting to know ourselves, this stranger that lives our life becomes the most spiritual and liberating thing that we can do. Knowledge and understanding are power and the more we come to know and understand ourselves the greater the control we are able to demonstrate in the creation of a life free from the limitations imposed by conditioning, ignorance and fear. The how we do it isn’t as important as having the courage and determination to venture into the unknown, trusting that the universe is both willing and able to guide out faltering steps.
As a teacher with many years experience and I have come to learn and accept that I can’t teach anyone anything. This isn’t a reflection on my own ability; it’s simply a realisation born out of the desire and need to educate myself. Education like responsibility can’t be forced upon anyone; it must be accepted by those who are ready and willing to receive it. The role of a teacher is to help the student educate themselves. To present knowledge to them in the hope that they have the desire to take responsibility for their own development and seek out the understanding that lies buried and undiscovered within them. Learning is a journey of self discovery, a process of releasing our grasp on reality by letting go of the old and accepting the new. It’s the key to releasing a troubled past, allowing the present to take its rightful place in our lives, creating the kind of future we wish to experience.
Education is healing pure and simple and the desire and willingness to share knowledge and understanding is the catalyst in the healing process. In healing ourselves we are able to share our experiences with others and in doing so empower them to begin their own healing journey. In this way the teacher engages with the student and accompanies them for a short while on their journey of self discovery. I have witnessed some wonderful results for students and clients alike, and yet I still struggle with my own development and recurring health issues. I believe passionately that the only person we can truly heal is ourselves through the acquisition and application of knowledge and understanding which is a prerequisite for any form of healing to take place.
Experience has also taught me there are many levels to the healing process encompassing healing of the mind, body and spirit. Unfortunately progress when it comes doesn’t always go to plan or go in the direction we are expecting it to. I have found that healing of the mind in many instances leads to the healing of the body, and eventually a calming and soothing of the spirit. Personal development through the acceptance of life affirming thoughts and beliefs is a form of healing that stands in no one’s shadow. Its simplicity belies its importance and its power, it’s the gate of knowledge and understanding that all subsequent healing must pass through.
It is said that it’s the cracks in our character and personality that allows the light of awareness to enter, and the Universe being the ultimate provider of equal opportunities it is these same cracks that allows ignorance and fear to flourish. If a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, then experience, knowledge and understanding can be a wondrous thing until it no longer appears to be effective, at which point it can appear a heavy burden to carry. When we know so much, practice so diligently yet still suffer the ills and ailments of those whose ignorance appears to be bliss.
When I can do so much for others why do I appear powerless and able to do so little to heal myself? A question often asked in anger, frustration and guilt by those who seek nothing more than a state of parity with those they selflessly seek to help. Yet these are the questions we must ask ourselves, but not in those moments of despair when we feel powerless to overcome the fear that wraps itself around us like a shroud. Those who wish peace must prepare for battle, and those who wish to experience healing must understand the nature of their adversary. This is always easier to achieve from a point of strength, when you are fit and healthy, than at a time of perceived failure in the midst of a healing crisis. For a situation to change we must first accept it for what it is and there is healing in the recognition that no matter how gifted, loving compassionate or spiritual we perceive ourselves to be, we are at this moment in time still only human. Not perfect or imperfect; simply a work in progress, and by definition liable to experience highs and lows and all points in between. It is often said that we never have experience when we need it the most but unfortunately this is how we learn. In doing so we gain both perspective and experience and the knowledge and understanding necessary to answer this most important question, and begin to heal ourselves. As teachers and practitioners we are no longer where we used to be. In so many ways we have grown, developed and moved on but we must always remember that we are a product of our past, the experience of the present moment, and the creator of our future. Healing is never one dimensional and what was caused in the past must be acknowledged, dealt with and released in the present. If not it will continue to be our constant companion no matter what future we seek to create.
Healing requires that something must first change, rather than just taken away. Lessons must be learnt through the acquisition and application of knowledge and understanding, and not negated by default or elimination. If the lesson doesn’t challenge us it is unlikely to change us.
We need to move from the state of illness or disease along the road to recovery, till we arrive at a point of health and wellbeing. That which exists must adhere to the laws that were instrumental in its creation; health and illness are both governed by the law of cause and effect, with every cause creating its own set of consequences. If we require change then we must first introduce something that will act as a catalyst and bring about more than just the mere thought of change. This can happen when we begin to question what we hold to be true.
If we want something different then we must do something different; but before we can, we must first have the desire for change and the belief that choice is an option. We must then engage the power of choice and disengage the negative default mode that governs those set responses we do without thought or question because it’s what we have always done. Until choice becomes a reality we only do what we know how to, and only what we believe is possible. Change requires choice, improvement requires movement and development is born out of new ideas, knowledge and understanding. We must first understand that change is possible and then accept we have the power to make those changes in our lives; hope makes life bearable but it’s our dreams that make all things possible. Desire and commitment can be considered a key to those dreams as it opens a door that allows the light of knowledge and understanding into our lives through the acceptance of new thoughts and beliefs.
If we only know one way we can only go one way, which becomes our reality framed by our thoughts and made real by our actions and beliefs. The desire for change helps us to recognise the limitations set by a closed mind created by conditioning and unaware of its own ignorance, lacking knowledge and understanding. Before choice can become a reality it must first begin life as a thought, the ideal begins with the idea in word and deed, and the seeds of knowledge and understanding are sown in the fertile mind that is ready to accept them. From this grows the need to question and learn; when awareness becomes the fruit of our labours we are ready to let go of that which we have out grown. Awareness comes to us in many forms and has the ability to produce many surprises, and in the process the student becomes their own teacher. From our preconceived ideas come new truths and the realisation that knowledge and understanding has the power to create change in many ways. It can be found in the softly spoken word or the healing sound of silence. It’s found in the judgment of the wise, the virtue of the brave and in the wisdom of the fool. Look carefully and you will find it in kindness and a knowing smile. It’s in the love for others that requires us to sometimes say no, and find the strength to stand alone. Those who feel they are powerless; the change they desire may not appear possible. Yet within them there will be a feeling that something is missing, a distant echo in the recesses of their minds that asks them to follow their hearts and find the truth within themselves. The moment we begin to listen to that inner voice the seeds of knowledge and understanding have been sown and the change has begun.
Everything in life has a purpose, while the thing itself may appear permanent, its purpose, meaning, and value can be in a constant state of flux. While we are conditioned to compartmentalise all aspects of our lives, our beliefs, values, doubts and fears influence and affect our perceptions of life. Everyone’s perceptions are different, but of no less value or worth. Everything may have a value but we all value things differently, what is a trinket to one is a treasure to another; for the perception of value and beauty are in the eye of the beholder. What we believe helps create the value of what we see; and what we see reinforces what we believe about ourselves. Our values also help establish our self-image and self worth. We quickly associate the value of things to the value of the people that own them; we begin to measure peoples worth by their possessions, instead of their worth as a person. In a materialistic world we assume that the more you have the more intelligent, successful, and happier you must be. This misguided and false assumption leads to the acquisition of things in order to feel fulfilled and to make a statement about who we are and what we’ve achieved.
Once we literally buy into this belief we become trapped and owned by our possessions, we can’t face the thought of losing anything as to do so would mean losing a piece of our own identity. Since change is the only constant in life we are doomed to fight a losing battle against the fear that change brings about the loss of something we identify with. This fear is the basis of our need for structure and control, and ownership can be a powerful addiction. We gain comfort from having things around us and we hang onto all manner of possessions just in case. We fill our cupboards, wardrobes, and lives with things that just might be needed one day. We keep our wardrobes full of old clothes that remind us of a time gone by. We fill our relationships with all manner of ‘one day, just in case, if only’s, and I wish I had’. Amidst all the clutter and confusion, things of true value are lost or misplaced; emotions are boxed up with our memories, safely put away for another day.
A time will come as it must, others will have the responsibility to clear away the clutter and confusion we have created in our lives. The cupboards will be emptied, the wardrobes cleared, feelings and emotions dusted down, memories worn and warmed by the passing of time remembered as if it were only yesterday. In the emptiness comes the realisation that the only permanence is the happiness of a shared loving experience; the shadow cast by the light of a good deed, and the echo of a kind thought and a loving word. There is no permanence this side of life, the best that we can hope for is to appreciate the enjoyment that every moment has the potential to bring us. To enjoy life to the full we need to free ourselves from the unnecessary baggage that weighs us down, to see everything in life as a gift not to be owned, but to be enjoyed while we can. The moment we hang onto anything out of fear we stop the flow of life that brought it to us in the first place, better to receive with an open hand, and give with an open heart, thus ensuring a constant flow of life and the experiences it can bring. What we use consistently is at the forefront of our minds and in our life, the less we use it, the further it recedes until we lose contact all together, and then forget it’s there.
How much of our lives are filled with those things we never use, how much have we forgotten, how much have we lost and misplaced. Everything in life has the potential to communicate with us if we have the mind to listen; therefore everything has the potential to become our teacher. A time will come, as it must to all of us, that others will clear away the clutter and confusion for us; we can play an active part in the process or wait for it to be done in our absence. It can be given away, or it can be taken away, we must choose. We have a duty of care to use and learn from every moment, every experience that life provides us with. It’s right that we should enjoy life, but with every right comes a responsibility, and it’s our responsibility to maintain the flow of life in all things physical and spiritual. Flowing; it creates abundance, but blocked, the natural flow is disrupted and begins to stagnate. Receive with an open hand and give with an open heart, in doing so we create space in our lives to receive afresh as well as enhancing the natural flow of life’s experiences.
Freedom requires that we become aware of the self imposed barriers which stop us receiving the things we need and desire. Through the acquisition and application of knowledge and understanding we are able to embrace life to the full, but we should never hold on to it out of fear of loss for It’s only out of letting go that we are able to create the space to receive and enjoy the new experiences that life can bring.
We see what we expect to see, and sometimes we see only what we believe to be possible, they say to see is to believe, but in reality, it’s as much about believing before we can see. Our thoughts can be very powerful and persuasive, but when it comes to a fight between our thoughts and our beliefs there’s no contest, our beliefs will win every time. To use the analogy of a computer system again, our thoughts are like the cursor that moves across the screen, our beliefs are the programs that create the work. The quality of that work is determined by the quality of the programmes and our ability to understand and work with them. Personal development is about first understanding the programme we are running here and now, and how to upgrade in order to improve the quality of the most important piece of work we can ever produce; ourselves.
If knowledge and understanding are the keys to our freedom and spiritual awareness our guide then any form of spiritual development can be a catalyst for change, but like any catalyst it requires the other components to be in place before the process can begin. Dr Usui knew through his own experience, for Reiki to be effective and have lasting results, the recipient had to play their part in their own healing process. If they didn’t or wouldn’t, their established thoughts, beliefs and actions would simply neutralized any benefits and old patterns would re-established themselves. Development of any kind requires change, we can’t stay the way we are and develop at the same time. To accept new ideas and beliefs we have to create space for them in our lives, and this requires us to let go of old or outdated beliefs and values. Development requires change; change requires choices to be made, and choices require alternatives to be made available to us. We then have to believe that we can change, and have the desire to implement those changes in our lives.
If we want something different we need to do something different, if not we will simply keep repeating the tried and tested no matter how painful or self destructive it may be. Everything that exists must comply with the laws that were instrumental in its creation and it’s impossible for anything to act arbitrarily outside of those laws. Nothing just happens; we are governed by the law of cause and effect. Everything we do, the most fleeting of thoughts, whatever we think, feel, believe, or do is subject to the law of cause and effect. Our ignorance does not negate its consequences, or annul its effects, it’s our responsibility to educate ourselves to these laws and then work with them in order to improve the quality of our lives. If we can say ‘it’s just the way I am’ we can also ask the question ‘who am I and what is it that makes me the way I am’. In every situation we have experienced we are the common denominator; the factor that remains constant, everything in life is a reflection, or a projection of oneself, a statement of our intent, past, present and future. You are the cause and they are the effects and if you want to make lasting changes in your life you must start with the cause, not with the effect. Failure to do so will result in nothing more than momentary improvement, a respite until the next challenging experience materialises.
Personal development helps us to realise that it’s no good trying to change while we continue to do the same old things, repeating the same harmful self fulfilling patterns over and over again. Lasting change comes about when knowledge and understanding of who we really are empowers us make the necessary changes to the way we live our lives. This way we control the quality of the effects before they appear, new principles become established practice and life mirrors the changes you have made in your thoughts, beliefs, and actions.
With 80% of the information our brain receives coming through our eyes we can be forgiven for looking no further than we can see. Unfortunately when it comes to education and healing we sometimes fail to look beyond the unacceptable behaviour created by ignorance and fear, or beyond physical symptom of pain, illness, and dis-ease. They are symptomatic of an underlying cause that first needs to be addressed before knowledge and understanding can be brought to bear. What we perceive as a physical body is in reality a complex self contained energy system; and like all things within the known universe governed by the law of cause and effect. This means that all disruption and discord must begin at an energy level as a vibrational imbalance, what begins as an electrical impulse manifests itself as a physical, mental or emotional symptom as our physiology becomes our biology. Harmful external causes that create internal effects will also be experienced in the same way. Healing is never just about taking the pain and discomfort away for good health is much more than the absence of illness and disease, it’s about dealing with the cause that triggers an effect. True healing is always holistic in its approach and implementation; working with the whole person, tackling the whole problem both cause and effect, thus helping the person to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, arrive at their own holistic solution.
When faced with any problem first and foremost there is something for us to know before there is something for us to do. Something to learn before we can understand what needs to be done, first comes the knowledge and understanding then the remedial action. Knowing what must be done then putting into practice what we have learnt so that the recovery process can begin and healing can take place. The only person we can heal is ourselves; the only lessons to learn are our own.
If we just help heal the effect we are denying the person the opportunity to learn the necessary lessons that created the situation in the first place. True healing requires us to educate ourselves first so that we can facilitate in the education process of others, not all educators are healers but all true healers whatever their background or field of expertise are first and foremost educators. As teachers and life practitioners we have to educate those who come to us for help so that they can understand the nature of illness and dis-ease, the connection between cause and effect, and the role they play in the process. When we heal ourselves or help others in the healing process we arrive at this point through knowledge and understanding with our free will intact to choose whether the lesson learnt becomes a permanent part of our physical, mental and emotional make up, or whether the universe being the ultimate teacher, must present those lessons again and again in different ways to draw our attention to an underlying cause that needs to be acknowledged and addressed.
The universe will never heal us against our will or do for us what we must do for ourselves, nor will it rob us of the opportunity to develop and grow both physically and spiritually by removing us from the consequences of our actions. All a ‘miracle’ cure can do is address the ‘symptom’ for we will always retain our free will and have choices to make either consciously, sub-consciously, or by the default mechanism of deciding not to make a decision. We are the common denominator in all of our experiences good or bad; we choose how we will experience life and retain complete control of our attitude in every situation. We are the author and narrator of our life story happy or sad, we choose to learn the lessons life offers us, or suffer the consequences of our actions. As teachers we have the added responsibility to help educate others in order that they can free themselves from the confines of ignorance and fear. Empowering them to take control over their own lives, learning their own lessons and in doing so restore both balance and harmony in their lives which is one of the first steps to achieving a holistic solution to a educational and healing challenge.
The more things change the more some stay the same as progress brings with it its own set of problems that we must learn to deal with. We are living in an age of communication, a time where ignorance of the world we live in has become a personal choice. In the age of information and technology we can no longer hide behind our ignorance and fear and say ‘I didn’t know’.
Science and religion were once considered the great teachers of mankind, both in their own way trying to explain the wonders and power of the great unknown. In the battle to claim power over our hearts and minds both declared that theirs was the one true way. In the process the quest for spiritual enlightenment was sacrificed for the sake of power and control. Spirituality can’t be confined or defined by religious or scientific dogma. Nor can it be diminished by mankind’s limited knowledge and understanding of the universe that created us. The ancients understood the relationship with the world they lived in and the earth that sustained them. To them nature was the great teacher, it taught lessons of balance and harmony which was reflected in the way they lived their lives and the relationship they had with one another.
Technology is a tool to be used to improve the quality of life. Science has the ability to explain how and why it works, but it’s our spiritual awareness that determines how it will be used for the benefit of mankind. The wisdom of the ancients is neither ancient nor archaic, it’s timeless, formless and a proven technology for life if only we have the hearts and minds to see it and accept it for what it is.
Knowledge and understanding never comes to us complete and neither does the ignorance and fear that allows abuse in all of its many forms to happen. The abuse we initially experience or face is never the complete article or the finished product that can have such catastrophic affects on people’s lives. Abuse is incremental, it develops and grows in relation to the freedom it enjoys and its ability to express itself free from resistance or constrains that would hold it in check. The bully in the playground, the domineering parent the controlling partner, or the manipulative carer, the practice of abuse may be different but the underlying principle remains the same. When the thought and the belief that abuse is a legitimate means of gaining and maintaining power and control is acted upon it becomes the reality. Once the initial thought and belief are accepted as the norm, justification for those actions becomes easier as the level of abuse escalates in order to maintain a level of control, disempower the person being abused in order to feed the addiction of the abuser.
The bullies in the playground and the abusive partner or parent are simply points on the same scale separated only by position, opportunity and power available to them to vent their own inadequacies. In the absence of knowledge and understanding ignorance and fear will always take control, and those who stand by and remain silent are guilty by association, if you are comfortable with oppression you must ask yourself why. When our circumstances provide us with comfort and safety from such abuse complacency can become our sedative of choice, detachment frees us from the need to feel guilty or accept any personal responsibility. It allows us to turn away for out of sight is out of mind. A global solution begins as a personal responsibility not to change others but to first and foremost change ourselves, our perceptions of what is acceptable and gain a better understanding of the insidious nature of abuse. An internal desire to learn must become an external experience; a change in perception is a prerequisite to bring about the changes we wish to experience.
Healing of any description is impossible without knowledge and understanding and those who invest heavily in abuse be it political, social or personal, do so to appease their own feelings of inadequacy recognise the need to disempower, create a sense of hopelessness and a false mindset of ignorance and fear. Knowledge and understanding is the nemesis of abuse and the ultimate undoing of all abusers for they know instinctively that their power lies in the suppression of the mind, body and spirit. Of these three, the mind that has become a prison is the hardest to break free from. The place where all abuse begins and ultimately where it must end.
When the next atrocity happens as it will, face book will again be awash with flags and the obligatory ‘we are’ statements and pledges of support and unity. Before we rush to join in should we not first take a moment to stop and think about what we are about to do and most importantly ask ourselves why. Are we doing it because it’s a good and righteous thing to do? Are we doing it because we are caring and compassionate, socially and morally aware of life going on in the world? I ask not to offend but to question the thinking behind our actions no matter how well intentioned they may first appear.
Once you have posted a flag and made a statement of unity you have made a choice, but more importantly you have also made a judgement call against those you chose not to support or stand behind in their hour of need. Where do you draw your line, who is worthy of your compassion or deserving of your hatred and mistrust? Are your choices based on personal values of what’s right and comforting for you, or is it ignorance and fear, if they are then we must first ask who are we, and what do we stand for?
The media seeks to form and direct public opinion. Its agenda is very simple, to strengthen and maintain its power and control over what we see, hear read and believe, but in real life the bad guys don’t always wear black. Righteousness isn’t restricted to those who we believe to be good, death and destruction leaves no one with clean hands or a clear conscience, the good and the just stand on both sides in any conflict. How we view this particular truth depends on which side of the line we choose to stand and whose banner we stand behind.
Is one life worth more than another because of the colour of its skin or its status or place of birth? Is gay pride any more righteous than straight pride or any other ‘pride banner’ you care to follow. The media would have us believe that Islam is a threat and we dutifully point the collective finger of blame until events challenge our perception of image and stereotype we hold to be true. Celebrity status no matter how fickle has the power to change values in an instant. Mohamed Ali was a Muslim and great athlete and on his death there was an outpouring of grief and sadness at the loss of the ‘greatest’. He was a Muslim a follower of Islam but in our eyes he was seen as a ‘good guy’, so that makes it different doesn’t it? There is nothing wrong with posting a flag and saying ‘we are’ but is the flag kept aloft by the strength of public opinion or by personal values based on sound knowledge and understanding.
Those of us that think about such things would say that given a choice we would prefer to be considered a good person rather than a bad one, and have all of the personal qualities needed to make us so. We readily accept all of the good things about ourselves and reject anything within us that may be viewed as bad, negative or downright nasty. We don’t like to think we could be any of those things and confident we are in some way different from those who are. It is easier to think of ourselves as fine upstanding people with all of the qualities that make us feel content in our own goodness and virtue. If the truth was told and we were honest with ourselves, we would have to accept we all hold within us the ability to create both the light and dark side of our personality. This duality negates the “either or” and replaces it with the “I am”. Holism asks us to look at the whole person whether it is for health or personal development, when we do this; we can make the mistake of looking at the perceived whole good person and rejecting the darker side of our human nature.
Understandably we would much prefer to concentrate on our good points and hope that the not so good stuff takes the hint and goes away of its own accord. Unfortunately the more we deny the shadows of our character the more determined they are to gain recognition. If we try to suppress parts of our own nature we automatically create resistance to our actions. Suppression creates both pressure and resistance and the shadows we deny will struggle for recognition and acknowledgement. If we are not careful this can lead to a release that is both uncontrolled and damaging. We all have the capacity for both good and evil. All virtues contain within themselves the seeds of all vices and taken to the extreme any virtue becomes unstable and problematic. Balance requires us to accept all parts of our nature, the good and the bad and recognise that potential of any kind requires action on our part before it can be fulfilled.
We have control over which part we wish to feed, develop and grow. If we wish to develop the good side of our character we do so independently of our baser qualities and not at their expense. By recognising our more negative qualities we negate their power of control over us through their internal struggle for acceptance and recognition. Failure to accept the holistic view of our nature can lead to a major conflict within us that can be dangerous and destructive. In some cases the more talented and gifted the individual the greater their capacity for self-destruction. The brighter the light that shines the darker the shadow it casts. Lofty virtues cast even greater shadows and the more you focus the light of your awareness on those virtues the more intense the shadow becomes. By recognising the shadow in its own right we direct the light of our awareness towards it and its resistance is dissipated and neutralised. This process restores balance between capacity and potential, what we are and what we can become. We all contain within us the ability and potential to be saint or sinner, and from our limited knowledge and understanding we strive to be one or the other, without realising that its only in acknowledging this duality can one gain meaning, perspective balance and control.
How many ways do we give permission for others to do what they do? How many ways do we condone another’s actions while complaining about their lack of thought and selfishness? Without saying its ok we give our approval in so many different ways. When someone offends us and we ignore it, we condone their behaviour. When we resent what they are doing yet make excuses for them, we are justifying their behaviour. When they hurt us and we turn a blind eye to their insensitivity, we are giving them permission to be selfish and thoughtless. If we blame ourselves for their actions we free them from personal responsibility.
When we accept responsibility for their behaviour we take away their need for self control. When we carry them we rob them of the ability to stand on their own feet. If we avoid confrontation for the sake of an easy life, we make life easy for everyone but ourselves, and we carry the burden of misplaced guilt. Allowing ourselves to be victims we are saying it’s acceptable to abuse me, and we sanction the things that they do. We may complain about the way they are without realising that we have given them permission and said its ok in so many ways.
Change doesn’t happen as if by magic. Change of any description be it mystical, magical or mundane is a ‘process’ and by definition, a process requires a series of steps to be considered and then implemented in order to achieve a desired outcome or effect. Change is both incremental and directional taking us from where we are to where we want or need to be and this is why if we want something different we must do something different. If not we will keep repeating the same established patterns and get the same results over and over again, a process that Albert Einstein defined as ‘insanity’. A change in axis instantly provides a change in direction, a change of mind provides us with limitless possibilities to new and different outcomes.
Surprising as it may seem change is instantaneous; it’s the procrastination driven by fear and uncertainty that eats up our time and delays any possible improvement to our physical, mental and emotional condition. Therein lays a paradox that is instrumental to change; one action that must stop before another can begin. When the debilitating thought processes that encourage procrastination stop and give way to remedial action that is necessary to initiate the change process. To many, health and wellbeing is by and large a matter of choice or the resulting consequences of life choices past, present and future. The modern day horsemen of the apocalypse are no longer figures of retribution in the guise of famine and pestilence. In our wisdom we have created a new nemesis in the form of obesity, heart disease, strokes, cancers and diabetes. These manifest through our sedentary lifestyles, addiction to junk food and the causal use of alcohol tobacco and recreational drugs.
Illness and disease must conform to the law of cause and effect and in many ways we are the creators of our own suffering. In an age of information and technology ignorance is a choice; we can no longer use our lack of knowledge as an excuse for our ignorance of the life threatening choices we continue to make on a daily basis. Neither can we blame our parents or use our genetic inheritance as evidence in our defence. In the case of ‘Mankind v Illness and Disease’ the prosecution will rightly present irrefutable scientific evidence to show that even those who may carry a defective gene do not automatically develop a specific genetic related illness or disease. It’s now accepted beyond question that the lifestyle choices we make and the quality of life we lead has a direct effect on our DNA and the way it works. By virtue of our thoughts and life choices we have the capacity to turn ‘on and off’ these genetic micro switches which affect the auto immune system and immobilises genes in such a way they are no longer able to function properly. Illness and disease are triggered and become the effect to the cause which can in many circumstances, be linked directly to the creative thought processes. Processes that define and direct the life destroying choices we make, without realising the far reaching consequences of our actions. Put simply our genetic DNA is the bodies operating system and like any operating system it’s prone to attack from ‘viruses’ that corrupt, damage and destroy. Unfortunately, we are the creator and distributor of these debilitating mental and emotional viruses, and we have become our own worst enemy.
Healing is change by another name and must follow the same process. Healing requires our consent and participation, and the acceptance of personal responsibility in the process for it to be complete in both context and content. Even miracles should you believe in them must conform accordingly and become a physical expression of the spiritual law of cause and effect. The healings attributed to the teacher Jesus if studied in detail, show that the healing of the physical body without correcting the individual’s state of mind achieves nothing but a brief postponement and allows the original condition to re-establish itself. A physical illness or disease can’t exist independently like some disconnected parasite, a physical condition is always tied into our mental and emotional state of mind, and if it’s a part of us then it’s more than just a faulty component that has to be removed or replaced. Whilst the illness or disease is not who we are, we are connected to it on more than just a physical level, either as its creator by default in the life choices we make, or ownership through our attention and intention. Illness and disease are states of imbalance manifest as symptoms which act as indicators to the cause, and the course of action required to correct the imbalance and to unify the mind, body and spirit.
But many would prefer to consider themselves as ‘unlucky’ rather than take responsibility for their health and wellbeing, In giving luck or fate the credit for their condition they are able to continue to live their lives as they choose, free of all responsibility of the consequences of their actions. Healing like illness and disease begins and ends at a cellular level, the very fabric of our being. Through our thoughts and beliefs the mind has the power and the ability to imprint design, structure and texture upon that biological fabric, to create a three dimensional blueprint of the person we become.
Change as a healing process is both incremental and directional taking us from where we are to where we want or need to be, but the first step in any process is knowledge and understanding of the process itself and how it works. The second step is the desire and determination to take responsibility for our own health and wellbeing and have the commitment and courage to seek out, discover and then implement the changes necessary to attain it. Each one of us must find our own path, our own way to enjoy the health and wellbeing that knowledge and understanding ultimately brings about.
We must choose what defines us; if not we will be at the mercy of the tides of emotion and circumstance, pulled in the direction of whichever one exerts the greatest control. The power to choose not only gives us direction; it also gives us authority to create the life we want to experience. Our thoughts, beliefs and values are the motivation of our actions, and it’s through our actions we are judged by others. Change the thought and you will ultimately change the belief and values that then arise from that new mind set, it’s this change in the thought process allows us to change direction of our personal journey.
Apathy allows us to drift, unconcerned and indifferent to what is going on around us. Safe in our personal bubble, our sphere of perception that creates our fragile reality, we exercise our right to stay silent and distance ourselves from the collective responsibility of the global problems we face. Our silence is deafening in the face of wide scale corruption and injustice, and we seek to ease our conscience in good deeds and worthwhile causes that make us feel good about ourselves without ever going beyond the limits of our comfort zone. ‘I work for a living and I pay my taxes. I recycle all of my trash and attend church on a Sunday religiously, what more can I do’? As long as you believe this is enough there is nothing more you can or will want to do.
What we focus on, what it means to us and what we choose to do about it defines who we are. These three things are instrumental in the development and strength of our personality and character, they help us find our voice and the courage to speak out for those unable to speak for themselves. Those who choose to stay silent in the face of injustice and oppression for the sake of their own peaceful life are condoning the actions of others in the mistaken belief that it’s not their responsibility and there is nothing they can do to change things.
Change can be challenging, uncomfortable and frightening but change is life in motion, a necessary process that empowers our personal development as individuals and our evolution as a species. Without change development is impossible and we would be still living in a dark age where oppression is accepted as a legitimate means of control, and where power and greed are deemed the property of the elite. Politicians and religious leaders would make peace redundant sacrificed to the profits of war, and the belief that one God is more powerful than another demanding the sacrifice of the faithful followers’ if not those who instigate the call to war.
Global problems will never be resolved until we accept a personal responsibility for the state of the world we have collectively created, or allowed to be created in our name. The burden of crippling guilt is not a pre-requisite but a comfort zone that no longer fits is a good indicator of a mind awakening to the realities of life. Sometimes being made to feel uncomfortable is a necessary price to pay to bring about change.
Trying to change too much too soon only creates stress and anxiety, and additional barriers to our development which must then be overcome before progress can be made. Spirituality in whatever form it takes requires us to be grounded, well balanced and a well developed sense of humour never comes in wrong. The more important the subject the lighter the touch required in order to keep that sense of balance and proportion, to stop us taking ourselves too seriously and keep our feet firmly on the ground. The following are simple and light hearted ways of breaking down the barriers in preparation for your ‘parole’.
Normality is a phase you will hopefully grow out of
Be a rebel…..wear odd socks for a day, forever would be awesome
If you want to save the world, start with yourself and get your own stuff together first
If you are fearful of growing old the process has already begun
Life is what happens when you’re not watching TV or on your phone. Try it some time
Be the person you yourself would look up to as a role model
Knowing yourself is harder than being yourself but well worth the effort
Spirituality is about not being a prat, but the odd cock up is totally acceptable
A gift is precious, but to give of one’s self is priceless
If you sit in judgement of others, it only goes to prove you’re unsuitable for the task
You are neither perfect nor imperfect; you are simply a work in progress and you can only do what you know how to. When you know better, try to do better, and never judge yourself harshly for a time when ignorance and fear were your constant companions and held you captive with their lies.
Those who would hold us to mediocrity and convince us of our inability to achieve greatness make liars of us all.
Those who would believe them make liars of themselves.
Conformity comes in many forms and like the barriers in our lives, it’s the ones we are unaware of that have the greatest control over us. We are conditioned from an early age to fit in, to behave in a way that brings approval from those around us with reward and punishment as an incentive to behave in a socially accepted manner. Standards, values and discipline are necessary to build and develop character, but any virtue taken to the extreme becomes problematic and potentially destructive. Discipline and the rules and regulations that underpin it may start out as corrective guidance, but if left unchecked can quickly spiral out of control and a form of restrictive control implemented for its own sake. In an age of information and technology ignorance is a choice; unfortunately as we embrace this technology we are sacrificing the ability to think for ourselves. Television informs us what is real, and social media keeps us posted as to what’s important in our lives like selfie’s, cute cuddly animals and pictures of food you really shouldn’t be eating. We have imaginary friends who are happy and content to play imaginary games enjoying the imaginary freedom it brings.