Heaven or Hell?

It has been a while since I wrote on my blog, partly because we’ve been moving which both sucked up all the available spare time and partly because there was so much going on that I encountered what I have affectionately termed “moving mind!” Luckily, we have now been stable long enough that I can get back to my writing. One other note, probably more to myself since I don’t believe I actually have any readers for this blog, I’m going to allow my writing to become a little more “edgy.” Up until now, I have stayed somewhat professorial in my writings; I am now going to become a little bit more, at times, paternalistic (I can see my daughter’s eyes rolling in anticipation of the lecture)!

Almost every morning, I enjoy reading out of a book by Alan Cohen entitled “A Deep Breath of Life.” It is subtitled a daily inspiration for heart-centered living and is filled with wonderful one-page inspirational stories for each day of the year. There was an interesting juxtaposition between yesterday’s passage, the one for today on the Fourth of July, and what is transpiring in some areas and/or some subsections of our country. Up until now, I have shied away from anything political unless it simply highlighted an underlying psychological, developmental, or emotional issue; daily we are now confronted by all three stemming from both President Trump, the 24/7 media coverage, and the incessant need by some to discuss him.

Yesterday’s reading was entitled Heaven and Hell and talked about a samurai warrior commanding a Zen Master to teach him about Heaven and Hell. The Master laughed at the warrior, ridiculing him, and the samurai, duly insulted, drew his sword to kill the Master. The Master then pointed out, “That, sir, is hell.” The warrior was overcome with humility and thanked the Master, who pointed out “and that, sir, is heaven.” The point is that, as all Master and Saints have pointed out, while there are external Heavens and Hells, we are able to choose to live our life on this planet either in heaven or hell by way of our thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Today’s reading, “Declaration of Inner Independence” talked about celebrating the birth of our nation, freeing us from British rule, but asked the question, are we “… free of the inner bondage of fear and separation?” I would point out that, to me, this is redundant, we live in fear because we are separated from our true nature of love. Once again, this is a recurrent theme throughout time from every Master and Saint and, since I was brought up a Christian, I will point out two instances in the Bible; however every religion and spiritual path say the same thing. As an aside, when studying many different spiritual paths, I used to marvel at what seemed to be constant plagiarism! Genesis 1:27 states, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” And in Matthew 5:48, Christ says, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The latter passage, of course, plays into the narrative of doing “good” on earth to reap your rewards later; it is equally true as a directive to live in perfect love daily, in this human body, in this present moment, and in every moment. To live separate from this perfect love is to live in fear and anger. Think back in your life to a time when you presented yourself as someone you were not or thought you were not. Did you not live in fear that you would be found out? This was true in middle school when trying to fit into a group or as an adult when making a presentation to peers having self-doubt, thinking and feeling that you will be “found out” to be a “fraud!” Now think about a time when you were living outside of your authenticity, and someone called you on it, did you not vehemently protest, trying to extend the lie?

When we are in our authenticity and integrity, we know who we are and when someone calls you on it, there is no emotional response. Why would we care if someone else thinks bad of us when we know who we are and live it; especially if that person, like so many, are themselves living, acting, and speaking out of fear out anger. There mere fact that they spoke out against you speaks volumes; remember, if they are living in their own authenticity and integrity, they will not care that something you say or do seemingly conflicts with their way of life!

So there is always fear and anger that accompanies living outside of love. In my Master’s course in spiritual psychology, we were taught when we live outside of the loving, we descend to the next level down, fear, and then below fear is anger. We were also taught that any issue that we are facing is not the issue; our response to any issue is the issue. If we are responding out of fear and anger, that is the issue; namely, we have now stepped out of being in the loving and are living a lie.

So what do we make of those around us that are in constant turmoil over some issue, be it President Trump, climate change, corporate greed, etc.? These are all legitimate issues that need addressing, but how will we successfully succeed in working these issues if we are coming from anger and fear? If we have a flat tire and are living in our authenticity, we simply replace the flat tire with the spare, call ahead if we are going to be late for a meeting, and do our best to keep moving through the day in love. If we allow anger to take over, we may damage the car with a kick or hurt ourselves changing the tire since we are not focused. Or we might suffer from some fear over what might transpire in the future surrounding the flat tire event. Either way, we are in anguish, and that impairs our functioning, not to mention the damage it does to our physical bodies.

I marvel that Post Traumatic Stress is so easily accepted if caused by a large, external event, war or car crash, also known as a big “T” trauma, but not recognized, or worst dismissed, when internally generated by our response to some issue (small “t” trauma). The Big “T” trauma might be seen to exact a bigger toll on us, but that is because it is a Big “T” trauma. Think in terms of a knife wound; we would rush to a hospital if we accidentally stabbed ourselves deeply, but wouldn’t hundreds of small nicks each day also severely maim us physically, even to the point of finally killing us? It is the same with small “t” traumas.

So on this Fourth of July, Independence Day, let us do as Alan suggests and begin to cultivate inner independence, freeing ourselves from the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual hell that is living in fear and anger. For you, President Trump might be considered the ultimate challenge to live in the loving, but that can lead to the ultimate healing. Then we can experience Independence Day from fear and anger every day!

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