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Mindful Musings

“Creation Song”

By: Forrest Rivers

****Originally published on themindfulword.org

The many emerged from the One
As a divine demonstration
Of love, beauty, spirit and truth
Yet, this infinite presence
That was at once the spark and the flame
Sought to fully know IT’s perfect self
Through the wonders of form

And so, IT began to sculpt
IT’s own cosmic clay
Into various expressions of IT’s own divine being

As the great laws of the Universe
Began to take hold
A boundless array of realities
Came to pass
Before finally bursting open
Like spring flowers in bloom

It was set against this glorious backdrop
When the Supreme Soul
Molded the Earth out of IT’s own formless essence
And unveiled the most spectacular event
Of past, present and future
Merging into form
As ONE

A glorious work of art
This magnificent sculptor of the Cosmos
Imbued each of IT’s own mystical qualities
Into the Earth’s sacred elements
As water, air, fire and soil
Became manifestations
Of IT’s own vital life force and purified center

Immersed in the sheer joy
Of IT’s own power of Creation
This Godhead of Wisdom planted the magical seeds
That were to blossom
Into trees, mountains, rivers and oceans

As planetary forms continued to sprout
Mysterious patterns of the unfolding
Could be intuitively felt
As evolution became the vehicle
By which the One came to know the multitude of the many
And itself…

Soon, reptiles, mammals and the great-winged pilots of the sky
Joined in on this airy dance of eternal peace
But just as the cosmic void seemed to swallow whole
The illusionary folds of both time and space
A peculiar being was born that gradually multiplied in numbers…

The human race appeared upon the celestial mosaic
Neither separate from nor superior to the rest of creation
These strange two-legged creatures
Were merely one among an infinite number of life forms
To emerge on this blue sphere of wonder
And, like a leopard’s blazing speed
Or an eagle’s godly soar above
The Great Mystery also bestowed a unique and special power
Upon mankind:
The ability to reason

So long as their scheming minds were only harnessed
To satisfy their basic needs of survival
Humankind found eternal truth and meaning
Through the higher planes of spiritual reality
And a delicate balance was achieved:
Between the rational and intuitive intellect

From the very start of humanity’s epic journey
Through the wisdom of form
Wise indigenous souls
Of the Earth
Held this fragile balance of mind and heart
With astonishing ease

For countless generations, these native ancestors of the land
The Original dwellers…
Maintained this precious equilibrium
Through the unwavering love and devotion
Of Grandmother Earth and all HER divine manifestations

The Sun and the moon
All of the diverse plant and animal life
The majestic forests and deserts
The ancient flowing lakes and rivers
And even the silent passing of the seasons
Were venerated as holy expressions
Of Absolute Being

The enlightened ways of these native souls
Continued to thrive for countless millennia
Until, for reasons only known by the Creator
A brutal culture rooted in hubris began its long and steady ascent
Into prominence
Through inflicting unimaginable cruelty
Upon the Earth’s well-being

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As tiny cabals of these “two-leggeds” extended their influence
Through using the mind to sequester truth and knowledge
They unknowingly lost that inborn spark of wild
That bore the fruits of intuitive wisdom

With the harmonious ways of the original peoples
Now being subjected before the forces of blind belief and logic
First Religion, and then Science
Came to replace the authentic connection of spirit
Found through the Earth and within…

Though appearing to stand in direct opposition
To one another
These twin forces of the mind
Pursued in common life’s answers to existential questions
That could only be arrived at
Through the intuitive heart space
Of focused contemplation

As the ego’s yearning to “know” grew ever stronger
The Indigenous path of inner communion
With the Earth and self—
Gradually gave way to an exterior search
That produced only conditioned faith and grandeur

As the path of ego fully enveloped the purity of soul
Patterns of structured doctrine emerged
That coalesced into the formations
Of institutions that blinded and deceived

As hungry aspirants claimed what they thought
Were their rightful seats to power
The human race moved ever further
From its exalted state of intimacy with the Earth

Bloodshed, genocide, slavery and the devastation of the natural world
Were the shameful outcomes of unchecked egos
As this era of reason multiplied through three “great revolutions”
Known as the crops, machines and computers

But finally, one day
The time came when the Omnipresent One
The Supreme Mover and Shaker of the Cosmos—
Willed for the ways of the original Earth Dwellers
To make a long and heralded return
And they savoured the opportunity to lead humanity back into the light

Emboldened by the strength of their own awakening
Humankind embraced its brethren once more
In the forests, lakes, oceans and mountains
And forged a new covenant with Creation

Overjoyed with tears of elation
The Lord of Love shined IT’s light brightly
And merged again with ITS own boundless potential.

 

Mindful Musings

Transcend Your Fear of Death

By Forrest Rivers

****Originally published on the mindfulword.org

One day, sooner or later, we are all going to die. Like every human being, as the inevitability of our own death dawns, we will be presented with two paths to follow.

We can choose the first and heavily traveled road of clinging to our own egoistic notions, sensory desires and worldly pleasures in the face of Yama, the King of Death. We can delude ourselves into thinking that we can push away the imminence of our body’s expiration and cling to the transient nature of our physical reality.

This choice will only wind up creating more needless suffering, because just as the Buddha taught, everything in our physical realm is impermanent and fleeting.

Fortunately, for our own sense of well-being, we can also choose the second and more lightly traveled road of embracing our physical demise by surrendering to the wondrous passage of form—returning to the Formless, the Void, the One.

Instead of continually running from death’s haunting shadow, we have the power to meet The Spirit of Death at its own doorstep, with our hearts wide open to what IS and will soon become.

Rather than lament the existential fact that we really have no control over the time and manner of our own passing, we can choose to become death’s supreme inquisitor and ask it all the questions that we intuitively already know the answers to.

Imagine the possibilities, upon learning of the Universe’s ability to bring us all to an awareness of the breathtaking unity that exists within one cycle of birth and death. Death does not have to be a painful and frightening process. We can use this ultimate transition for our own inner healing and self-growth.

Adopt a healthy perspective on death and dying


clouds surrounded by light

Over the years, it has become a living truth to me that we are more than our bodies. I have come to strongly believe that when we die, some spiritual essence of who we are transcends the act of death and the decay of the body. Exactly where we go remains one of the greatest existential mysteries.

Similar to both the Hindu and Buddhist beliefs on reincarnation, I intuitively feel that each of us has taken countless births as males and females, as rich and poor, as oppressor and oppressed, and even as moral do-gooders and rapacious sinners. It is possible, as Tibetan Buddhists believe, that we have even taken animal forms in our previous incarnations.

Perhaps, the Universe’s grand intention for reincarnation is for us all to steadily build toward a full consciousness of who we truly are through the many experiences lived and lessons learned from each incarnation. Buddhists might call this awareness ‘nirvana,’ Hindus ‘self-realization’ and Christian mystics ‘Christ consciousness,’ but the same idea is implied. Through each passing incarnation, we move closer and closer to realizing our total union with the Imperishable Tao.

Indeed, adopting such a perspective on our own deaths relieves us of our existential anxieties and brings us infinite comfort that when our bodies die, the truest essence of who we are does not.

Preparing for your own death


man on mountain embracing the sun

There is no better way to overcome your fear of death than by actively preparing for it through formal spiritual practices like working with the dying and meditation.

Stephen Levine, a late and influential meditation teacher, spent countless years working with people who were, as the Hindus say, close to “dropping their bodies”. His experiences led him to write a profound and groundbreaking book titled, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as if It Were Your Last.

In drawing on his work with the Living/Dying Project, a non-profit he helped co-found that fosters a loving space for the terminally ill to die consciously, Levine showed how adopting the perspective that each day could be your last reduces anxiety and fills life with more meaning.

Ram Dass, the late pioneer of cosmic consciousness and the author of the seminal book, Be Here Now, was a contemporary of Levine who also spent considerable time working with the Living/Dying Project. In numerous books and recorded lectures, he recounts his many years of devoted care for the dying as the most profound spiritual work that he did on himself.

According to this beloved saint, the more one consciously works with those who are dying, the less they come to fear their own death. He was fond of teaching that if you can learn to “keep your heart open in hell,” through embracing the painful emotions that watching another die engenders, then the opportunity to transcend your own fear of death arises. Once this occurs, one is then able to gain a deeper perspective of the eternal nature of the deathless self.

Finally, in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, monks partake in regular mindfulness meditation exercises on their own deaths (this practice is called Maranasati). The central aim of these contemplative sessions is to cultivate a deeper awareness and acceptance of death.

Eventually, after years of this practice, monks become so comfortable with the absolute and impermanent nature of their physical reality that they are able to transcend this greatest of existential fears altogether, and live the remainder of their lives with greater joy and compassion. In turn, living a more joyous, as well as a more compassionate life are the two most sought-after goals of all spiritual seeking.

Transcend your fear of death and enter the boundless realms of everlasting peace!

 

Mindful Musings

Transcending Duality in the Time of COVID-19

By: Forrest Rivers

For a long time now, Americans have been hopelessly divided by politics, religion, wealth, geography and race. Liberals vs conservatives, religious fundamentalists vs atheists, rich vs poor, urban dwellers vs rural farmers, the white race vs just about every other racial minority group. So, is it really a surprise that this division has spilled over into peoples’ reactions to COVID-19? Combine a terrifying public health crisis with a catastrophic economic collapse and you have the recipe for social conflict. In context of the public’s reaction to the pandemic, there are two groups who have emerged in opposition to one another. On the one hand, are those people who contend (through citing medical evidence) that this virus is absolutely one of the greatest existential threats that we have faced in over a hundred years. Not surprisingly, they believe that state governments should be doing everything that is in their power to protect citizens from the pandemic—- even if it means resigning countless millions to dire poverty through mandated shutdowns and handing state governments temporary authoritarian powers to do so. On the other hand, are those who believe that COVID-19 has been badly “overblown” by media outlets who have an incentive to engineer a climate of fear in order to rack in record corporate profits. People with this belief hold that millions of hard-working Americans were needlessly laid off from their jobs and that the shutdowns should end immediately—- even if it comes at the cost of a massive spike in deaths among America’s most vulnerable. Can you see the flaws in both lines of thinking?

The “pro shutdown” people should be commended for prioritizing the sanctity of human life above all other concerns including the economy. However, the means with which those in power (with this belief) have acted has wound up inflicting mass suffering for many through a shocking wave of job layoffs, food insecurity and long-term financial ruin. Handing state governments extraordinary powers to manage this crisis, can also be perceived as a dangerous threat to our freedom and essential liberties. In contrast, the “anti-shutdown” people should be commended for bringing to light the massive economic hardships that have fallen on countless millions of people. However, their perspective can easily be taken as excessively callous and selfish because it sacrifices the priority of saving countless human lives to that of naked economic and political self-interest.

What can be done to ease the division that is now tearing this country apart amid a crisis? Fortunately, we can turn to the East for answers. All of the major eastern traditions (in particular Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism) teach that one of the spiritual teacher’s most important roles is to help all seekers intuitively recognize that all pairs of seeming opposites are connected as one. For example, day is only day because there is night. We only recognize wisdom because ignorance exists. And, the warmth of summer is only blissfully enjoyed because the cold of winter is faithfully endured. To put it another way, eastern faiths espouse this eternal truth: that the true and underlying nature of reality lies beyond all dualisms.

In Zen Buddhism, when a student comes before a Roshi(a great master), they are given a type of spiritual riddle, or Koan, to solve that is designed to break the mind from its restless stream of rational dualistic thoughts. In the Upanishads, a collection of mystical Hindu teachings, each passage exalts the seeker who, through years of meditation and the spirit of service, are able to finally see beyond all dualisms and experience the boundless essence of Brahman, or God, itself. In the Tao Te Ching, an inspiring text of Taoist philosophy, its sage-author, Lao Tzu, even goes as far to say that all seeming opposites give birth to each other:

“When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises

When it knows good as good, evil arises

Thus, being and non-being produce each other

Difficult and easy bring about each other

Long and short reveal each other

High and low support each other

Music and voice harmonize each other

Front and back follow each other.”

Seeing the inherent unity within all seeming opposites is the key in learning how not to cast judgement on another person’s beliefs or opinions. It is also the secret, then, to promoting peaceful dialogue and co-habitation. In today’s divisive environment, is it truly possible, though, to live in accordance with this valuable and ancient wisdom? Do most Americans even desire to give up their stubborn dualistic beliefs in the interest of peaceful dialogue and co-habitation? I hold on to faith that the answer to both questions is yes. Deep down, I truly feel that all people desire peace and unity with all others. It is only our ignorance (which we all have in something) that holds us back from breaking through the division.

For example, many of the people in support of the shutdowns tend to reside in more urban areas, lean more liberal politically and work in higher paying white-collar jobs. Not surprisingly, these people have more favorable views of the shutdowns. Why? Because due to their dense populations, urban areas have suffered far higher casualties (so far) from the virus and it is much easier to transition white-collar occupations to remote work amid the shutdowns. Of course, white- collar workers have faced many inconveniences and some have even been laid off from their jobs, but the overall economic impact on this group has been negligible compared to the struggles faced in blue-collar occupations. Short of being raised in a working-class family or having lived in the countryside, what does a liberal, white-collar urbanite truly know about the very real economic struggles now being felt by more conservative and rural laborers? From the latter’s point of view, they are watching their multi-generational farms and businesses shut down and livelihoods dissolve in response to a crises(mostly) taking place a far distance from where they live in cities. Further complicating matters, from this perspective, is that the strictest shut down measures have been ordered by other liberal, wealthy urbanites. Flipping the script, what can a more conservative, rural blue-collar worker truly know about the extent of mass-suffering being felt in urban areas like New York City where the death toll from COVID-19 is so high that morgues are literally unable to store all the bodies? If such a person visited a city for even two days and talked to family members and hospital workers (like my sister who is an ER doctor) who watched a loved one or patient die from the disease, would they still think that the media’s response to this virus is being “overblown” and demand the immediate openings of state economies?

In these troubled times, we must transcend our dualistic way of seeing the world and incorporate the wisdom of Eastern traditions into our day to day lives. This means, that we also need to learn more about the “other perspective,” and see that our ways of seeing the world are really not that different. After all, is it really difficult to imagine that if this crisis goes on long enough that people in rural areas won’t soon be facing a serious death toll from the virus as well? Is it really difficult to imagine, that if we are forced to endure another round of shutdowns that white-collar workers won’t soon be facing mass unemployment, too, under increasingly extreme orders taken by governments?  In fact, if we really broaden our minds and sharpen our awareness we may find that all beliefs we harbor on this virus wind up folding upon each other in the end…. just as Lao Tzu said of all seeming opposites. Regardless of our personal opinions on the virus, we are all having to collectively confront our fears of death and poverty as well as accept our loss of control. It seems to me that we have much to find common ground upon. Finding common ground is the easy part. The harder part is choosing to let go of our egoistic conditioning that sees things as black and white. The Choice is yours!

 

 

 

 

Mindful Musings

Be Here Now by Ram Dass

In this time of great uncertainty, the message of the late and great Baba Ram Dass, to ‘be here now,’ could not be more relevant. This seminal classic is many things: part spiritual biography of one saint’s trippy odyssey through the layers of consciousness; part artistic work of wisdom that will break one free from dualistic thinking; and part manual for living a spiritual life. Unquestionably, Be Here Now was the Bible of the hippie counterculture


The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Two of the positive things that have emerged from COVID-19 are the profound realizations that we are all connected by some all-permeating cosmic life force (The Tao), and that rather than trying to control every event in life, we would be wise to learn how to flow with the Universe. These two realizations also happen to be two of Lao Tzu’s main teachings in this mystical wisdom text.


A Year to Live by Stephen Levine

Drawing on his profound experience and work with the dying, this late and inspiring meditation teacher decided to live one year of his life as if it were his last. The result was a series of meditation exercises and profoundly rich reflections that will help one contemplate their own relationship with life and death. This book makes for a great read in a time when we all are being forced to face our own mortality.


The Bhagavad Gita by Krishna

Consider the power behind these words from the revered Hindu mystical text, the Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord):

“You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction. Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established within himself—without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat. For yoga is perfect evenness of mind.”

These words of advice from Lord Krishna, the God Incarnate, to his faithful friend and devotee, Arjuna, couldn’t possibly be more relevant to the times we are currently living in. Selfless action, balance and inner awareness are what we need right now, in our struggle against COVID-19. Lord Krishna shows us how to cultivate these inspiring qualities within ourselves.


This Season’s People by Stephen Gaskin

This is a beautiful book of inspiring wisdom-oriented quotes and reflections. However, what truly adds to this book is the authenticity of its author. Stephen Gaskin was a counterculture writer and speaker, and co-founder of the Farm (one of the best-known hippie communes in the Western world) in the early ’70s. As the system appears to be collapsing around us, those drawn to intentional off-the-grid spiritual communes as a peaceful alternative may find this book eye-opening.


The Dhammapada by Buddha

The First Noble Truth: Suffering is an innate characteristic of existence.
The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is craving, desire or attachment.
The Third Noble Truth: The ending of suffering can be attained through eliminating all craving, desire or attachment.
The Fourth Noble Truth: There exists a prescribed means to end suffering (the noble Eightfold Path).

COVID-19 has produced immense physical suffering, and it is a fact of our existence at the moment (Buddha’s First Noble Truth). Less obvious, to many, is that this virus has also caused enormous mental and emotional suffering. Much of this suffering can be directly attributed to our craving, desire and attachment for existential comfort and security (Buddha’s Second Noble Truth). It is heartening, though, that this suffering can be ended (Buddha’s Third Noble Truth) through a means-tested path to enlightenment (Buddha’s Fourth Noble Truth). These core teachings of the Buddha can reveal much about our current state of being.


Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

This eco-spiritual novel centers on a telepathic gorilla-sage named Ishmael who walks a prized pupil through the unsustainable and destructive ways of Western civilization’s relationship to the Earth. In the end, Quinn calls for something of a return to the guiding vision of indigenous cultures, whom he appropriately refers to as the ‘leavers.’ As our ‘taker’ (Quinn’s name for the dominant Western culture) economy grinds to a halt, now is the perfect time to re-examine our exploitive relationship with Mother Earth and find a better way. Ishmael is a good place to start for exploring such solutions.


Black Elk Speaks by John G. Neihardt

Indigenous wisdom from an inspiring and highly revered Native American Medicine Man. The profound insight that he shares through his life story comes directly through ecstatic visions he had through divine communion with the Great Mystery. What could be more needed at this moment then getting back to the deep and wise roots of our native ancestors—the true spirit guardians of this land?


The Upanishads

A mind-blowing and soulfully revealing collection of mystical Hindu texts written by unknown saints and sages. Existential themes addressed that are acutely relevant to our times include: the meaning of death, the nature of God, reincarnation, inner wisdom and meditation.


Beloved honourable mentions:
The Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley (Harper Collins)
The Tibetan Book of the Dead by Padmasambhava (multiple translations and publishers)
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (multiple translations and publishers

Mindful Musings

        *****Originally published on themindfulword.org
Like any other night, Colin Gordan went through his usual per-bedtime routine. The 74-year-old former-reality-TV-star-turned-dictator-of-a-nation admired his Botox-injected face in the mirror, and then pounded his chest with pride. He removed and cleaned his dentures, and took a seat at his laptop to fire off his (customary) angry midnight social media rants at his political enemies.Chancellor Gordan, as he was known to the nation, then climbed into bed and called for two of his assistants to tuck him snugly under the covers. With his aides still present, the dictator turned over on his side, and within only a few moments, suffered a heart attack. As his servants screamed for help from the palace’s doctors, Gordan went unconscious and found himself beyond the void of form.Hovering over his body, Colin could see the palace doctors desperately trying to revive him. Confused, he tried to speak, but no words came out. Suddenly, Colin found himself in a swirling cosmic tunnel and felt the overwhelming presence of a white light envelop him. Nothing in his day-to-day life or beliefs had prepared him for the reality he was now experiencing: life after death.Repulsed by the pull and the feeling of this “white light,” Colin quickly maneuvered into an emerging reddish-orange light. As soon as he made that choice, horrific visions from what appeared to be his “life review” flashed before his eyes.
The dictator saw images of his wealthy father verbally abusing him for his displays of cowardice at a family retreat, with other “high-class” families in attendance. He then relived past scenes of himself in both prep school and college, during which he failed to find meaning in a life that transcended his own ego and inflated sense of self-importance.

Colin then watched in horror as scenes replayed from his three failed marriages and tumultuous divorces. He also relived scenes involving the many women whom he’d sexually exploited in his relentless pursuit of power and fame.

Next, he saw haunting images of all the poor tenants he’d evicted from his sprawling real estate empire, homeless and begging on the streets for food. Finally, Colin revisited the one excruciating and painful moment he’d tried to bury deep within himself over the years… the death of his father.

Now, covered in a cold sweat, he recalled standing by his father’s bedside and uttering the words “I love you,” for the first and only time, to any human being. The dictator, in spirit form, also relived the soul-crushing final words his dying father spoke before dropping his body:

“I’m ashamed of you. Had your younger brother not died in childhood, I would’ve left the keys of the family business to him.”

Colin felt the reddish-orange light grow hotter and stronger, as he began to revisit the horrid scenes following his father’s death. He saw his continued sexual exploitation of women; his meteoric rise to mega-stardom with the success of his reality show; and finally, his unexpected rise to power and the consolidation of it through brutal aggression and deceit.

The images he saw grew darker at this point. Colin began to feel, for the first time, the immense suffering he’d inflicted—not only his nation, but on the world as well.

He saw his political critics being tortured in jail, the bodies of journalists who’d opposed him in mass graves that he’d ordered, refugee children separated from their mothers in government detention camps, and his own heartless response in allowing thousands of poor and elderly people to die from starvation amid a financial collapse.

Colin closed his eyes, and for the first time in his life, he felt waves of regret and compassion pulse through his body. Tears began to flow down his face, as the white light that he’d pushed away returned. This time, Colin made the choice to merge with it. The light seemed to have the radiance of 10 suns, yet it didn’t feel too blinding.

For the first time ever, Colin felt like he was “home.”

A being emerges


Jesus Christ in clouds

Suddenly, as Colin acknowledged this feeling, a being emerged from the light to greet him. As this being drew closer, Colin began to recognize his dark and saintly features. It was none other than Jesus Christ!

The bearded, long-haired sage approached him, but didn’t move his mouth to speak. Instead, Colin heard a voice emerge within his mind, and it became clear that Jesus was initiating telepathic communication with him. With this, Jesus spoke:

“My child, you make frequent references to my name down in the Earth Realm, to win the adoration of supporters. However, has it occurred to you that in so doing, you show that you neither understand nor follow my teachings?”

Still immersed in the white light, Colin looked shamefully down at the ground, as he uttered what would be the most honest assessment of his life up until that point:

“I’ve been given the blessed opportunity to lead 100 million people, but I’ve squandered this chance through vanity, fear, aggression and intolerance. Truly and regrettably, I’ve tarnished your good name by using it to justify horrific actions that you’d never condone.”

Colin then began to sob uncontrollably, as he added:

“Oh, great Prince of Love, I’m truly sorry for all the suffering I’ve inflicted upon the Earth and humanity. Now, I can only watch as my body dies. Yet, I stand before you as alive as I’ve ever been. Tell me, how can this be? Is it true that one survives death, even after the physical body perishes? Is the “I” that exists really in the form of spirit, rather than flesh and bone? And, what about forgiveness? Can I possibly be forgiven for all the harm I’ve caused through my hellish obsession with inconsequential worldly things, like money, power and fame?”

Jesus beamed a warm and loving smile, and slowly nodded his head before replying telepathically:

“My child, you’ve already been forgiven by me and the universal spirit of creation that I am one with and the two of us are part of. Soon, you too shall experience the bliss of inner communion with the One that is the many. In fact, in this moment, you’re getting a taste of its eternally rich and sublime power.

“This white light you’re now being bathed in is none other than the ONE, though you may feel more comfortable calling it God. However, know that any words you ascribe to this transcendent reality cannot do it justice here. For IT defies all descriptions or conceptions of it. IT can only be experienced as you and I are doing right now—beyond the folds of time and space.”

Jesus took a long, deep breath before continuing:

“Now, as for your other questions. Yes, it’s indeed true that the real you survived the death of the body. My Hindu friends back in India, where I spent that period of my life that your supporters refer to as the “lost years,” call this real you the “Self.” The Taoists would call it “energy” or “life force.” Your scientific mystics call it “consciousness,” I know it as the soul. Again, what you call it doesn’t matter one bit in this realm of spirit that you’re presently visiting, but in reality, never left.

“You ask, how and why did this mystical interplay between the form and formless come to be? If I were to reveal this secret to you now, without you finding out for yourself through direct experience, then I’d be doing you a great disservice and interfering with the cosmic rules of karma and destiny.

“I’ll say this to you, though… you’re a young soul. Meaning, you’ve not yet taken many births in human form on Earth. So, while you’ve caused incredible destruction on the physical plane through your ego and selfishness, you can be forgiven for your transactions. It wouldn’t even be possible for an older and more evolved soul to carry out the kind of callous behavior that you’ve shown in your most recent incarnation.”

Colin took a long moment to process Jesus’s words, before asking one final question:

“So, it’s true that there’s a part of us that transcends death and takes birth again in a human body, through an eternal cycle? I now understand that. And you say that it’s also up to me to realize why this all came to be. I suppose that once I’ve realized that, I’ll have also stumbled upon the purpose of taking form in the first place. Right now, I can’t understand why any soul would consciously choose to leave this heavenly realm. I’ve never felt so at home.

“This all leads me to my final question. If, as you say, I’m a young soul, why was I elevated into such a position of power and influence? Clearly, my soul wasn’t yet mature enough to be trusted with such a role of leadership and responsibility.”

Jesus flashed another loving smile at Colin and took two steps forward in his direction. Now, standing only inches from Colin’s face, he looked him dead in the eyes and said:

“You’ll soon find out why, as a less evolved soul, you were put in such a position to begin with. The story of your soul’s evolution is not yet fully written, nor is your higher purpose yet realized. You see, your suffering in childhood was destined. So was your ego and your sense of entitlement. Your rise to and misuse of power were also destined, as was your heart attack and this encounter with me.

“As I said before, this is all the interplay of your karma and your destiny. Put another way, your choices or ‘free will’ from your past incarnations create your cosmic patterns, known as your karma, and in turn, your karma creates your destiny. Viewed from this spiritual plane, your free will and destiny are one and the same. Now is not your time to die. It’s your karma to return to your body and carry out your destiny. And, you’ll know soon enough just what that destiny is.”

A new path for the Chancellor


Older man sitting on luxurious deck

At the exact moment that Jesus stopped speaking, Colin found himself in the same swirling cosmic black tunnel he’d passed through before. On through the tunnel he went at a blazing speed, until he found himself inside his body once again. Now, united with his physical being, Colin opened his eyes as a group of doctors and nurses gathered around in wonder.

“We thought we lost you,” said one doctor, in a high-pitched voice.

“You were clinically dead for at least five minutes,” said another doctor, with a look that expressed total bewilderment.

Colin looked around the stolid hospital room, with its beige walls, dim lighting and sanitized medical equipment. He shuddered, deep within himself. Where was the dazzling white light that he’d at first denied, but had then fallen in love with? And where was Jesus, that venerable sage, saint of Compassion and God incarnate?

At that moment, he felt Jesus’s presence, and Colin instantly knew what he must do, the moment he was well enough to leave the hospital.

To the utter amazement of the hospital’s medical team, the 74-year old Chancellor was deemed healthy enough to be released, only two days after suffering a heart attack that brought him to death and back.

Back home, Colin spent his first evening reliving his experience beyond the void. The next morning, as news spread of his recovery, Colin called over his own doctors and thanked them for saving his life. He then did something they’d never seen him do before… smile and hug them! Colin also asked his PR representative to arrange for a major televised address to the nation later in the day.

In mid-afternoon, Colin Gordan appeared before the cameras to address the nation as Chancellor, for the very last time. With millions of his fellow countrymen (no longer subjects in his mind) watching, the same leader who’d dragged his people into a life of misery was now about to surprise everyone with a message of hope and peace. Colin took a deep breath and delivered the most authentic and inspiring speech of his life:

“My fellow countrymen. My brothers and sisters. I stand before you a changed man, a more compassionate man, and hopefully, a humbler man. You see, I’ve seen the light. No, really, I’ve seen the light! Three days ago, I suffered a heart attack and was pronounced dead on the operating table. But now I stand before you, having gone where all souls will one day travel.

“I had a near-death experience and it taught me so much. I learned that when we die, it’s only our body that dies and who we truly are is eternal. I learned that not only are saints real, but they really care about our fate! I also learned that love is the strongest form of energy in the Universe, and that every being is always extended the gift of redemption. Finally, I learned that each one of us has a destiny and that the Universe conspires for us to achieve it.

“My brethren, during my time beyond the void, I was also made to relive all the horror and suffering that I’ve inflicted upon you. I silenced you. I imprisoned you. I even had some of your loved ones executed for opposing my tyrannical rule. I now realize that I’ve committed unspeakable acts, whose impact can never be undone. I can’t even begin to express, through words, how much sadness and regret I feel for so thoroughly breaking your trust.

“It’s with a very heavy heart that I now beg for your forgiveness. However, I know it’s not enough to ask for your forgiveness, but rather, I must earn it through my actions. So, effective immediately, I resign from my chancellorship and dissolve the entire executive branch of government. This invests you, the people, with the power to determine your own democracy.

“Effective immediately, all 586 of my propertied estates will be converted into homeless shelters and centers for refugees fleeing from war-torn nations. Effective immediately, I’ll invest 90 percent of my $17 billion fortune into a massive fund for the needs of the poor, and for the preservation of our sacred lands and wildlife. I will then contribute the remaining 10 percent of my wealth to a special compensation fund for the families of those who were victims during my long and abusive reign.

“You have my word that I’ll do everything to ensure that each of these orders is implemented immediately. Once I’m confident that they have been, I plan to head east to India for a year of uninterrupted meditation in the Himalayas, as this will help me become the perfect servant to you. After that period, I vow to return to my homeland and assist in the anti-poverty and wilderness preservation programs in any capacity I can. In addition, upon my return, I won’t work for money, and will only receive my allowances for food through alms.

“Finally, I wish to extend a special promise to the victims of my regime: If, after one year following my return from India, you still deem me worthy of death, I’ll willingly give up my life to you. I want all of you to know how sorry I  am for all the suffering I’ve caused you. I love you. Blessings and Peace through eternity. Signing off. Your friend and fellow countryman, Colin.”

With the cameras now off him, Colin took another deep breath; then, he turned and walked away from the Chancellor’s podium for the last time, with Jesus’s words still ringing in his head: “ Now is not your time to die. It’s your karma to return to your body and carry out your destiny.”

Colin smiled. For the first time in his life, he knew what his destiny was: to serve others with unbounded love and compassion.

 

Mindful Musings

“Earth Dance”

Earth - Wikipedia

The Earth is soft
Beneath your feet
Feeling
Perceiving
You move
To that ancient song
Of your Mother

Within moments
The forest birds
Pipe in
With their chorus
And the crickets too
Express with delight
Their rhythms
Through the night

And the wind howls
As the pitter-patter
Of falling raindrops
Plays percussion
To the ecstatic dance
You are part of

Move,
Child of the Earth
Feel your steps merge
With the wisdom
Of her spirit
That nurtures
And loves us all

Under the open sky
Is where you will find
The bliss of ecstatic union

Now, Go,
Dance and rejoice!

 

Mindful Musings

“An Encounter With the Spirit of Death”

By: Forrest Rivers(originally published on the mindfulword.org)

Two seekers of wisdom spent all day climbing a formidable mountain. After many hours of walking, the duo finally arrived at the summit, where they were greeted by an old mountain goat.

The two startled humans stared uneasily at the mighty being before them, and nervously shuffled backward. In turn, the mountain goat stared back at the pair with a look of amused bewilderment. The seekers grew exceedingly frightened and turned to run away. But before they could move, the mountain goat gently spoke to them through telepathy:

“Why do you have fear?”

The mountain goat conveyed feelings of great compassion through its inner voice, as it awaited a response from the still-terrified humans. After a few moments of stunned silence, the first seeker gathered up the courage to speak:

“Illustrious master, we feared for our lives. Your form is both wild and intimidating.”

The mountain goat warmly replied:

“But why did you fear for your lives at this very moment? Did you not just encounter the spirit of death all along your pilgrimage up to this hallowed peak? And did you not unknowingly stroll past a den of hungry bears and circumvent perilous cliffs on your way to this summit? Why did you not cower in fear then? One step closer to the den and you would’ve met the wrath of an imposing mama bear. One misstep along the rugged trail to the pinnacle and you would’ve plummeted to your death!”

The first seeker thought for a lengthy moment and then responded:

“I suppose we didn’t have fear in either case, because death didn’t seem imminent. We didn’t come face to face with a bear as we did with you. Nor did we fear the treacherous road up to this point because we’re seasoned climbers.”

The mountain goat pondered the first seeker’s words, and again replied:

“I see. But you still haven’t answered my initial question. Why do you have fear?”

A look of mild exasperation swept across the face of the first seeker, as they retorted:

“I think I answered that question already. We felt fear because we believed our lives were in immediate danger.”

The wise mountain goat looked firmly at the first seeker and said:

“You must learn not to fear death—imminent or not. No matter how hard you try to push your fear of it away, you’ll encounter it. “

The mountain goat paused for dramatic effect and then continued:

“I call your attention to a famous inscription on an old tombstone that reads: ‘Dear friend, please know as you pass by, as you are now, so once was I. As I am now so you will be. Prepare yourself to follow me. ‘

What this inscription teaches is that rather than live in fear, it’s infinitely wiser to embrace death as part of the natural cycle—or way—of being. The degree to which you can consciously come to terms with this existential inevitability also determines the depth to which you live this life. “

The second seeker, who’d been silent, finally chimed in:

“Oh, venerable seer, my soul knows the truth in your wise words. But my mind is frightened at what lies beyond the end of the body. Please tell me, what is death and what’s in store for us beyond it?”

The mountain goat carefully gathered its thoughts before explaining:

“Death is, and death is not. Death is taking off the tight shoe. Death is the entrance into a world without beginning or end. Death is the continuance of a sacred cycle in which the soul drops the body and continues its quest to enlightenment. Death is the survival of pure awareness beyond the contours of the flesh. And death is the inner realm by which the soul reflects the light of its own luminous essence.

“Death is to reunite with the eternal Brahman and the one within all. Death is the entrance into the deepest realms of consciousness and where one goes interminably in preparation for rebirth in a new body. Death is a karmic bridge between the memories of yesterday and the promises of tomorrow. Death is to be fully present and clear of illusion. Death is to merge in complete union with the Eternal One—who alone is true.”

Monk and layman walking across bridge

The second seeker looked in awe at the mighty being before them, and asked:

“If death is all this, wise master, and elemental to the way of being, why are people in my own culture taught to fear it?”

The mountain goat fixed an emphatic gaze on both seekers and said:

“Delusion! People in your culture live in Delusion! Well maybe not all the people of … but surely those with any measure of influence and power. Your teachers and celebrities contribute to the cloud of delusion surrounding death. Your media spokesmen and politicians, too. And even your very parents … those inspiring souls who raised you with tender love through your innocent youth.

“However, none keep you more blind to death’s true nature than your high priests, rabbis and preachers. You see, here in the West, there’s a peculiar and arrogant tendency among your religious figures to attach their own fears and insecurities about death to their sermons and interpretations of scripture.”

The second seeker grew silent as they digested the sheer honesty of the mountain goat’s words. Finally, after a few moments of reflection, the first seeker spoke once again:

“Oh Noble One, how may we learn not to fear death?”

Before the mountain goat could reply, the second seeker quickly added:

“And how shall we, oh Illumined Being, come to accept death as part of the way?

The mountain goat stared lovingly at both seekers of wisdom and replied:

“What’s required now is for both of you to find the courage to prepare for the inevitability of your own deaths. Only through such preparation will you discover the truth of how to live right now. Be brave, learn how to sit still and meditate upon death. Make meditation a daily practice and come to study the sacred cycles of life and death in nature.

“Stroll through the woods in all four seasons and observe the unique qualities of each. Note the innocence of spring, the vitality of summer, the crispness of autumn and the stillness of winter. You’ll come to feel that each are beautiful, each are transcendent and each are interrelated. Finally, come to experience death not as an end but as a return to your purest essence.”

The wise seekers raised their heads up and looked reverently at their great teacher. The mountain goat bowed its head to both its disciples and suddenly transformed into a soaring eagle.

Both humbled aspirants burst into tears as they watched God’s first messenger fly above the enchanted blue mountain range and into the heavens. As the eagle flew out of sight, the last words that this soulful duo heard were:

Look within. Be free. Fear not the inevitable approach of death.”