“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” ~ Dalai Lama
This week’s quote by the Dalai Lama is a reminder that spirituality doesn’t need to be complicated. You don’t need fancy cathedrals or elaborate rituals to connect to your higher power. All you need to do is connect to the love that’s already in your heart. However, consciously connecting to the love that is present in your being is only half the equation. To be fully expressed, this love needs to be put into action.
So, what can you do to become a kinder person? Perhaps kindness can be best summed up as doing what love would do- behaving in the world the way that love would behave. Kindness means having compassion for others and doing what you can to help them on their path. Remember, your heart may be the temple where you can connect with your inner love, but it is your kindness towards others that allows you to share this love with the world.
“You took birth here because you have certain work to do that involves the suffering you do, the kinds of situations you find yourself in. This is your curriculum. It’s not an error. Where you are now with all your neurosis and your problems; you’re sitting in just the right place." ~ Ram Dass
The purpose of this week’s quote is to remind everyone that everything is ok. It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that you are living the wrong life. You might carry the belief that, at some critical point in your journey, you made the wrong choice or the wrong decision. You might even believe that this reality you are currently experiencing is not your true reality- that this isn’t the life you are supposed to be living.
Thankfully we have people like Ram Dass to reassure us that everything in life is exactly as it should be. In fact, there is no other way than this. Similarly, wherever you are on your personal journey, that is exactly where you are supposed to be. If, as Ram Dass says, you are here on Earth to grow as a soul, then even your challenges can be seen as part of the overall perfection of life. Besides, without challenges, there would be nothing to overcome and, therefore, no growth would ever take place. When you stop clinging to an image of how you think life ought to be, you begin to appreciate life as it actually is.
“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
Do you want to experience more happiness in your life? Of course! Who doesn’t want that? However, it’s not like you can wave a magic wand and now everything in your life is perfect. It’s more about learning to be happy even though your life is imperfect. To do this, you first have to take responsibility for the role you play in your own suffering. According to Eckhart Tolle, it’s not life’s situations that cause you to be unhappy, rather it’s your thoughts about these various situations that bring you down. Understanding this simple concept is one of the keys to inner freedom.
Problems, for the most part, exist as thought forms in your mind. Every so-called “problem” in your life exists primarily as a situation or as a set of circumstances. Situations and circumstances have no emotional weight of their own- good or bad, things simply are the way that they are. You suffer when you resist what already is.
As a reasonable and intelligent member of society, you have a pretty good idea of the way things should be. When the reality of the situation is different from your ideal, it makes you feel bad. That’s how people end up with the weight of the world on their shoulders- they falsely believe that their suffering over a set of circumstances somehow helps to solve the problem. But, all the stress and anxiety in the world is not going to change what has already happened. And feeling stressed out over the way things are right now has no measurable effect on what happens next.
When you live your life in perpetual acceptance, nothing can bother you anymore. You soon discover that your happiness is no longer reliant on outside circumstances, rather it relies upon your ability to create and maintain a state of inner harmony wherever you go. So, the next time that things go differently from the way you would prefer, try accepting the situation rather than rejecting it. It won’t change what just happened, but at least you will no longer have to suffer from it.
"This is the pathless path. Where the journey leads is to the deepest truth in you.
It is really just returning to where you were initially before you got lost."
~ Ram Dass
This week’s quote is another one of those sayings that sounds very wise until you realize that it leaves you with more questions than answers. How can a path be pathless? What is the deepest truth in you? And, where were you initially before you got lost?
Let’s start with the pathless path. Ram Dass begins by reminding us that the spiritual path is a metaphor. He would tell you that, to reach your spiritual goals, you don’t actually need to go up a winding path to the top of a mountain- you don’t need to go anywhere at all because the only place you can ever be is right here. Also, the only time there can ever be is right now. If enlightenment does happen in your lifetime, the place where you will be is here- and the time will be now.
The next question is, what is the deepest truth in you? Of course, only you can answer that. For some, the deepest truth is that they are love. Other’s may discover a deep well of compassion for the suffering of all beings. There is also the realization that you are it- that there is no fundamental difference between you and the universe that you exist in. The purpose of the spiritual journey is to discover your deepest truth, whatever that may be.
Finally, where were you before you got lost? According to Ram Dass, the real reason you are here on earth is to awaken from the illusion of separateness. Before you were born, while you were still in the womb, all was one. There was no sense of self and no idea about other. There were no thoughts of “I” or any notion that you were something separate from your environment. In fact, there were no thoughts at all, just the bliss of pure consciousness. You were born with this unity consciousness but, as you grew up and developed your ego, you become convinced that you are separate from others and from this world. So, where were you before you got lost? The short answer is, you were home.
“The meaning of life is just to be alive.
It is so plain and so obvious and so simple.
And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic
as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”
~ Alan Watts
What is the meaning of life? Is our time on Earth just arbitrary or is there a greater purpose to existence? We put a great deal of pressure on ourselves to achieve and succeed, always looking for new ways to transform and improve ourselves. While there is nothing wrong with having goals, we are often so busy preparing for life in the future that we completely forget to enjoy life in the present. What if all you needed to do in life was enjoy the experience? What if, as Alan Watts says, the meaning of life is just to be alive?
Since our time here is finite, there is often a nagging feeling that time is running out. This leads to the “great panic” that Alan Watts is referring to, as people rush around trying to get the most out of life- to have as many experiences as they can while they are here. But, unless you learn to slow down and be present, you won’t truly experience anything. That’s because when you are in a rush, your breath becomes short and shallow. You become more anxious and self-absorbed with each passing minute.
Someone who is in a hurry is often too caught up in their own thoughts to appreciate the subtle beauty of the world. In contrast, a person who is grounded and present is able to breathe easily, experiencing the richness of life through all five senses. The main difference is that one person is desperately trying to get somewhere, whereas the other person has already arrived.
So, take a moment to slow down, breathe and be present with your reality. There’s no need to rush when you are already there.
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About The Author
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being. Influenced by the ideas of Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle, Ram Dass, and Deepak Chopra, Nick presents his unique take on human existence with the goal of helping others live a happier life.