Tag Archives: joy

We Kill Those Who Come to Save Us

On a Memorial Day weekend as we honor heroes, it seems apt to remember that not all who threaten the status quo are enemies that we need to eradicate as if the gardens of our minds have no room for new ideas.  Not every plant not previously encountered is a weed.  Some newly arriving people in our monolithic culture . . .  including incoming young members of our society who immigrate from heaven to our lands . . . bring gifts of healing and restoration to new life beyond the culture of violence to which we’ve become so well adjusted that we consider its norms sacred.  Truly sacred bearers of glad tidings of great joy arrive moment by moment to serve as reminders of what’s truly valuable.  In fact, the more violent our culture becomes, the more frequently and earnestly these message-bearers strive to capture our attention and tell us that violence is not the only alternative.  Might such nonconformist violators of the status quo not also be heroes we could welcome and value more?

Certainly we are grateful for the heroes who have protected and continue to protect us from harm.  We are also increasingly aware that a hero’s experiences in the face of violence include being harmed, emotionally if not also physically, as he or she stands up for us to stem the tide of violence that threatens to overrun us.  We ask our heroes to endure the pain we’re afraid to experience on our own behalf.  And to help us remain blind to our decision to use others as heroes to protect our comfortable lifestyles, we deny that the enemies our heroes fight are products of our own self-indulgent creature comforts and conveniences.  We deny that there are consequences to our choices and prefer to fashion scapegoats to excuse our self-indulgence lifestyles by blaming others for being envious of us — and eventually perhaps hateful towards us when we deny the legitimacy of their envy.

Although we perpetuate the expansion of our lifestyles through the operation of institutionalized envy, we refuse to see the woe we cause to others by not taking their wants and needs into account as we satisfy our own.  We are driven by our habit of comparing what “little” we have to what “more” others have.  This habit of comparison is selective.  It selects for justifications for our continued pursuit of more while keeping us blind to our own envy of those with more.  Other habits of valuing socially approved images and superficial, materialistic possessions keep us focused on “things” and luxuries as objects of desire, feeding our envy continuously to keep our economy in motion.  Earn, spend, earn, spend, earn, spend . . . the never-satisfying, ever-accelerating cycle of our lifestyles.

And yet when others seek to join us in our plentiful opportunities, we protest as if there’s not enough to share.  That we might no longer gain more and more threatens the foundation of our aspirations.  How could we go on comparing ourselves to what others enjoy if everyone has nearly the same?  What good is our socially popular image and our material possessions if they do not make us “special?”  How can we prove that God favors us if we live as if the concerns, needs and wants of others might be equal to our own and equally worthy of satisfaction?  Does not God play favorites just as we like to play favorites?  Is not that how one proves one’s power — by dispensing power and its accompanying perks on some basis one personally defines with little or no regard for any other standard?  Does not Facebook’s system of “Like” and “Dislike” prove the value of being liked even when we are not truly known or loved for ourselves because we hide behind the social images we project to score points as heroes and avoid becoming scapegoats?

Let us this weekend honor those who believed in the values of superiority claimed by the United States in comparison to other nations, or if not fully believing, nevertheless put themselves at risk to defend our claim and our opportunity to prove ourselves right rather than be destroyed by those who violently disagree with our claim of superiority.  But . . . and here’s a “but” worthy of due consideration . . . let us also carefully review the basis for our claim to superiority and remove from it the arrogance and ignorance we’ve religiously cultivated concerning the claims to value put forth by other nations and cultures.  In what way might we be right in claiming superiority that does not deny the value of other people’s claims to equally high value?  Might we be most right in the ideals to which we claim to subscribe such as “liberty and justice for all” and most need now to reveal our humility in admitting how far short of our own ideals we’ve often fallen?  Is a blend of humility and superiority possible or must one exclude the other?  Might our greatest claim to superiority be in the fitful but relentless progress we’ve endeavored to make in upholding and living true to our ideals?  Perhaps this weekend is one occasion among many to be grateful from the depths of our hearts for all who have stood up for us and sung our praises even when we’ve stumbled badly — or may yet be stumbling now.

Is this weekend an occasion to soberly consider the sacrifices we expect of heroes and ask ourselves, “Are we letting our heroes down when we fail to live according to our highest ideals?”  Are we mocking these heroic sacrifices when we fail to examine our own lifestyles for ways we’ve not ourselves been devoted to our stated highest ideals and instead neglected them as readily as we neglect our heroes when they come back home to our care?   Might we too often be a neglectful culture hypnotized by our pursuit of image-based, materialistic definitions of happiness while remaining blind to the consequences of our shallow pursuits as they spiral more and more out of control?  Our pursuit of shallowness and trivialities as a way of escaping from the deeper, heartfelt truths may be why our ship of state has run aground.  Deeper waters are calling to us from within our hearts.  Will we heed their call and learn to navigate their depths again?

© Art Nicol 2016

Advertisements

Wholeness as the Pivot Point of Change

Let me keep this simple. Unless a person who seeks to be the change in the world he or she wants to see (pursuant to Gandhi’s admonition) slips out of and beyond his or her ego, he or she will fail to participate in a true change. The ego is a master of disguises. To change from one ego-disguise to another is no change. For the world to outgrow violence as a norm and instead enter into a phase devoted to healing the wounds of past violence as a new norm, individually and collectively we all must become humble, ego-free healers.

Beyond the phase of healing awaits the phase in which no harm is ever done that requires healing. To reach that harmless phase, we must undo the harm that our harming stage has done.  To pivot away from ego requires what we pivot out of the ego’s closed system of thinking to enter into the only true alternative — open-mindedness to all creative possibilities.  Wholeness offers us the pivot point around which to turn all of the ego’s ways of thinking on their heads and emerge beyond ego as if we’ve entered into and passed beyond the worm hole into a whole new universe of grand options that set us free to be more than ego wants or believes we can be.  Freedom frightens the ego.  Freedom wisely lived requires no ego and thus no longer lets fear of change hold us back. Only then can we become the change in the world our hearts desire but our egos fear.

Phase 2 is upon us. We either elect to participate in Phase 2 as one of the healers of the harm done in Phase 1 or we remain a participant in Phase 1. Any attempt to remain loyal to the ego while claiming to do no harm is the cover-up of codependency and enabling that the ego employs to perpetuate its reign of terror. “Oh,” you may say, “but I’m a helpful person who never harms anyone.” Perhaps you truly are. Perhaps you truly intend to be but do not yet realize how your best intentions remain unfulfilled.  It is more likely than not that you are allowing your ego to fool yourself into believing you are doing no harm while it’s not true. Do I sound too harsh and unkind to you? Please forgive me if I seem that way.  In actuality, all I’m inviting you to do is move beyond the mistakes I made as a co-dependent enabler who failed to realize that my ego was still in charge of my heart and mind and running me in circles like a fool.

Despite the fact that I once desperately wanted to never be a fool, I was one. It was much more obvious to others than it was to myself, but that’s how the ego operates. It makes you look like a fool to others so that they in their own ego-oriented foolishness can comment upon, judge and find fault with your foolishness rather than see and address their own. It serves the ego’s purpose to make each of us look like a fool to others of us.  It serve the ego’s goal of perpetuating itself to generate controversy among us and set us to judging one another instead of seeing the ego at work behind the scenes. The ego achieves this ego-perpetuating status quo by convincing each of us to adopt one of its contrasting sets of values as “ours” and set ourselves apart from “others” by virtue of our chosen set of values. Sets of values that contrast with one another establish the basis for on-going, continuous conflicts, discussions to resolve conflicts and all out battles when discussions fail to resolve them. The ego does not want our conflicts resolved. So, my ego will do everything it can to justify my claiming the superiority of my set of values over contrasting sets of value and my unwillingness to see things through the eyes of others whose sets of values differ from mine.

Sets of values may in fact differ for a variety of reasons. But if the reason is not focused with clarity upon the role of ego in perpetuating conflicts and correspondingly upon the means by which we may rise beyond ego, then the sets of values conflict only in relatively superficial ways. Superficial differences among sets of values have historically been sufficient to justify all levels of conflict, including wars. That one group may raise three fingers while pronouncing a blessing while another group raises two fingers is nonsensically superficial. Other superficial differences that have seemingly justified violence by one group upon another may not be as obviously superficial and foolish, but they are. People who allow their egos to be in charge of their decisions resort to a wide variety of excuses for identifying other people as enemies upon whom the infliction of violence is seen as fully justified, even reasonable.

Wholeness is the alternative to the ego. That is why wholeness is the necessary, pivotal component of any path by which a person who seeks to be the change in the world he or she wants to see achieves that goal rather than remains trapped within the ego’s conflict-perpetuating worldwide status quo. A person must be willing to become aware of his or her wholeness and devoted to its nurture and perpetuation in order to stop participating in the perpetuation of ego-generated harm. Wholeness is health. Devotion to the nurture and perpetuation of wholeness in ourselves and others is healing. Without wholeness neither health (Phase 3) as a goal nor healing (Phase 2) as an interim path to that goal is possible. Why? Because the ego will successfully resist healing and health and preserve the status quo of ill-health and harmfulness in order to preserve itself as essential to the person’s sense of personal safety and personal identity.

We who have been raised in an ego-oriented society to believe ego to be our identity are like fish who have been swimming in water without being aware of the water. The only reason I become aware of the water is there came to be a time in my life when I felt like a fish out of water. Amid the discomfort of flopping around and suffocating on the shore, I awoke to the realization that my ego was not my true identity. On that shore, my ego died and yet I, the true me, was still alive. In that phase of my life, I suffered an acute identity crisis. If my ego is not I, then who am I? I spent several years on a quest for the answer to this amazing question I’d previously failed to ask. Who am I?

Early in my quest for answers to this pressing question, I was introduced to a work called A Course In Miracles. I devoted myself to studying this course with more diligence than I’d ever studied before. I had been a fairly good student of other areas of study in my past. This area of study motivated me like none had previously motivated me. In the past I studied other subjects to please others, not expose myself to the shame of public failure and achieve academic expectations and benchmarks set by others. In studying A Course In Miracles, I studied and applied what I learned for reasons far more personal to me, from motivations that arose from within me, as if Life itself called me to succeed. Through this process I awakened to and gradually accepted my true identity and discovered many answers as well as many continuingly unanswered questions. I learned to live by faith in the presence of the Mystery of the Divine, including of my own identity within the Divine.

Above and beyond all else that has motivated me have been the experiences of peace, hope, joy and love that my ego never allowed me to encounter and enjoy. On account of those experiences alone, and not for any argumentative reasons, do I now encourage you to enter upon your own quest for your identity beyond the ego and the path that will take you through Phase 2 into Phase 3 as you emerge to yourself and others as a whole person rather than remain disguised behind the masks and entrapped behind the walls of your false identity of ego. If you feel so called, come forth to join me and others in the realm beyond ego of which Rumi wrote when he penned,

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.”

Let me here share a snapshot of my own version of that truth in the form of an illustration I invite you to contemplate for its value to you as your inner voice of Spirit counsels you to do.  More about this topic is available by clicking on the Heartbook tab on the menu.

Wholeness Archtype with text 2015

For more encouragement from Rumi as a source of inspiration and wisdom, visit http://launchyourgenius.com/2014/08/04/rumi/.

For more encouragement to understand how to use your own path of faith to grow beyond the ego’s confining definition of your past, present and future, make it a point to enter into your own personal quest for answers to the pressing question “Who am I?”  Our human race will not develop beyond its current adolescent stage until each of us asks this riddle of the Universe and learns to listen to the answer we receive within our hearts and minds.  I would be honored to encourage you to find deepest satisfaction in your quest.

© Art Nicol 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hazardous Happiness of Daring to Be Different

In an age when unhappiness is so widespread, it’s hard to believe that happiness is our natural state of being. When we are unhappy, we’ve fallen into an unnatural state based on holding in our minds beliefs that are not true.  Remembering the truth sets us free of unhappiness into awareness of our natural state of joy.  We sometimes encounter brief glimpses of joy and even some stretches of happiness that seem like happiness is cruelly teasing us (again!) before it vanishes like smoke.  Few of us manage to experience sustained substantial happiness or joy for long because we fail to keep our minds steadfastly focused on what is true and instead allow our minds to drift off focus to entertain (often again) beliefs that are not true. Many of us have come to accept as if it’s fact that unhappiness or despair is our natural state of being. There is a reason for the lack of sustained substantial happiness in modern society.  Let me share some ideas about why our individual and collective happiness is neither sustained nor as substantial as we’d prefer it be.

What I said in the first sentence bears repeating.  Happiness is our natural state of being. A loving God created us to be happy by sharing divine happiness as our natural condition.  Some call that condition “joy” while others call it “bliss,” “joie de vivre “or a care-free state of uplifting emotional “ecstasy.”  This is the substantial happiness we crave beyond fluffy, frivolous and fleeting fun, funniness and flattery that the ego offers as poor substitutes for divine happiness.  It is substantial because it expresses the nature, scope and qualities of God, the Most Substantial Being in the universe.  And it endures throughout all stages and conditions of life because it expresses the timeless quality of God – Eternity.  God’s eternal divine happiness contains no artificial sweeteners and needs no unhealthy preservatives – and it knows no limits to its capacity to bring us infinite energy not measurable in calories. It’s the organic, sustained and nutritious feast that deeply satisfies our souls.  It is the uplifting energy that heartfelt, full-bodied laughter expresses from our hearts when laughter proves to be the best medicine.  We are all native citizens in this state of bliss but many of us have allowed ourselves to immigrate or be exiled from our native land into an alternative state in which we are not true to ourselves or to our divine origin and cultural heritage.

Why do we not encounter on a sustained basis this substantial, soul-satisfying experience that is natural to us?  The answer to this puzzling question is simple.  We don’t because we’ve been offered, accepted and adopted the unquestioning “thinking” of a society that is based on assumptions (beliefs) about human nature in general and ourselves in particular that simply are not true. For example, under the influence of the industrial/technological revolution, for several centuries these mistaken assumptions have included the idea that individual humans are undifferentiated, interchangeable components of a mechanical system whose minds can be trained to perform like machines or automatons within a materialistic economy (or a government bureaucracy, military unit, corporation, religious or educational institution or any of civilization’s other institutions and social systems) for the “good” of the group as “good” is defined by the trainers.

Social conformers train us to set aside our innate capacity to think creatively and instead to adopt the mental habits needed to survive in conformity to social standards by which we are rewarded like caged rats pressing levers for food.  Our minds reflexively press the levers of our habits in order to receive the reward of social acceptance, approval, admiration, affection and adoration for which society keeps us ever starving and insecure about receiving.  Having a natural, legitimate appetite for these A-list rewards, we are vulnerable to being manipulated by our trainers into seeking them through social conformity because society does its best to deprive us of them if we fail to conform. (Our habitualized nonthinking is supported by traditional systems of “scientific thinking” too. The logical progression of such thinking is to envision creating “artificial intelligence” that governs robots who replace humans entirely.  Ironically, by following this line of habit-subjugated false “thinking” we’ve subordinated the human mind to focus on continuously upgrading artificial intelligence in hopes of equaling and perhaps even exceeding human intelligence.  As a result, we’ve managed to replace our natural “native intelligence” in many humans with artificial intelligence of such conformist, mediocre and inadequate quality that we’d ridicule and reject if it turned up in robots. And we’ve failed to cultivate our natural genius for creative thinking in our collective development of more satisfying experiences for all of us.)

Most of our socially oriented mind-trainers are not concerned about what is natural for humans to experience.  They are themselves trained to believe in mistaken assumptions about the need to overcome human nature by replacing what is natural with what is “superior” to natural.  (Some trainers go so far as to believe that human nature is, at its inception, naturally defective, sinful, immoral, irresponsible and depraved. Because their thinking begins with these false ideas, they mistaken interpret the adverse “effects” of social conformity as the “cause” of what they believe is true.  Conformist thinking reverses the roles of cause and effect in order to rationalize the losses humanity suffers on account of our conformity to modern society’s artificial standards.)  As a result of their past training, social trainers now unwittingly past along their thinking’s internalized systemic fallacies.  By definition, what is “superior to natural” means what is “not natural” – or in other words, what is “artificial.”  Whatever standards trainers use (as those standards change from time to time and from culture, society or group to culture, society or group) all recipes for “superior” are artificial standards.  To keep their social privileges and gain promotions, recipe-developers often formulate and justify their recipes for “superior” based on comparing short-term performance outcomes between one person and another person or between one society, subculture, organization, team or group and another and seek to advance the status of the group with which they identify over any other group with which they don’t identify. In this competitive orientation of group against group, the welfare of the whole of humanity is overlooked.

When humans impose short-sighted performance standards to override human nature in order to make it a priority to achieve relatively short-term goals set by humans in competition with other humans, the quality of life declines as the reign of artificiality takes over all aspects of planning for the social lives of human.  In this seductive manner, short-sightedness that caters to the ego’s appetite for instantaneous gratification takes precedence over long-term sustainability.  Short-sightedness, taken to the ultimate extreme towards which all ego-addictive processes progress, imposes such lack of foresight as to become the equivalent of blindness to our own good.  Along this path of artificiality’s progressive dominance, modern society has wandered farther and farther afield from the reality of genuine humanness and genuine happiness. In place of genuine, natural humanness, we’ve adopted artificial substitutes for humanness to which we humans now expect ourselves to routinely and rigorously conform regardless of conformity’s harmful effects on humanity and all other forms of life. We adhere to conformity that is now self-imposed because we are afraid to even consider an alternative for fear of the social consequences of nonconformity.  As a logical outcome of this downwardly spiraling progression, we are now experiencing humanity’s dehumanization as people treat each other less and less humanely.  As a result, we now routinely inflict pain on each other rather than promote shared happiness and create deep emotional wounds that we bear for life because we are not encouraged nor give opportunities to grieve and recover from these wounds.  (That religions, while purporting to espouse God’s viewpoint, have, in the main, justified our acquired distrust of (and disgust for) what is natural to humans and failed to promote healing of our hearts’ wounds is a topic for other blogs.)

Happily experienced humanness is sustainable only if and when we dare to be true to our natural, native, created Self at every step along our life’s journey – throughout every phase of our natural development as whole human beings designed by God to express all that is heavenly while yet living bodily on earth. By God’s grace we can always return to our natural state of happiness any time we choose to set aside our conformist mind-training and resume listening to our hearts and thinking with our minds’ full capacities.  It’s impossible to sustain joy when we deny our hearts and pretend to be someone we are not.  Pretending in this manner distorts – and may even arrest – our natural development and definitely derails our natural happiness.  No matter how popular we may become in an artificial society by adopting more artificiality (for example, by materially reconfiguring or chemically augmenting our physical features, expressions, images and activities to be more charming, appealing, entertaining or profitable or to maintain a youthful appearance or performance), we’ll not experience divine happiness while adopting pretense and artificiality as our way of life.

In the social context of a tightening downward spiral of unhappiness, happiness is hazardous to one’s social approval rating because, by conflicting with the preservation of the social status quo, happiness invokes the penalties a conformist society automatically imposes on controversial nonconformity that questions the value of society’s downward spiral.  We all hunger to belong among other people because our true nature includes our friendliness and desire to generously share our happiness along with all the A-list qualities of life. We are by nature social beings who enjoy sharing with utter generosity a quality of life flowing with A-list experiences. We want to share ourselves and our lives with others as God lovingly shares with us.  Against the grain of our heart’s desire, the society we are currently enduring pressures us to abandon our authenticity and our native capacity for heart-to-heart connection and honest, open, generous sharing in order to fit into the artificiality, independence, reluctance to trust and share and resulting loneliness our society promotes as “normal” and wants to convince us is “best for us.”  As a result, the quality and sustainability of our relationships decline along with the decline in the quality and sustainability our happiness.  Relationships are the field of shared experiences.  As our faith in sharing generously within bonds of trust fades, relationships become pointless.

In this age of artificiality, in an attempt to satisfy our natural desire to be connected with others and to share, we come to believe that we have to abandon being true to ourselves in order to participate in this society as a “socially acceptable” person on society’s unnatural terms.  The only price society asks us to pay for our participation on its terms is our happiness. If we are willing to give up being happy and learn to be less humane, we can fit right into this depressing society’s way of surviving without thriving.  This dilemma is a natural consequence of living in fear of being authentic and instead adopting the mask of an ego as our false social identity in order to win social approval and belong as best we can by passing ourselves off as someone we’re not. That’s how most people learn to survive but not thrive throughout all of their lives.

As diverse as we may make our egos’ images appear to be so as to fabricate the illusion of diversity, there’s still one core conformity that’s operative at all levels within a materialistic society – conformity to the ego’s determination to rob us all of our happiness. Our claim of social diversity is one of ego’s most masterful illusions. The ego hoodwinks us into believing that our society honors diversity while the truth is that we demand conformity to universal unhappiness as the price of participation in society.  Ego permits diversity of superficial images but demands conformity to unhappiness at our core as our common ground.  Society exiles truly happy people just as surely as it exiles all other “undesirable uncooperatives.” Anger and envy directed towards happy people reflect society’s judgment that “too much” of a natural high is somehow wrong, perhaps even irresponsible. Society prefers to market myriad versions of artificial (often chemically induced or enhanced) fun, funniness, flattery and other “highs” that make money while condemning as childishly naïve the idea that happiness can be experienced naturally. The truth is that we are more likely to be deeply aware of happiness at our core when we lack financial resources to purchase temporarily escapist distractions from our unhappiness.  In the context of financial poverty we are more likely to encounter our spiritual prosperity.  So long as we remain aware of our spiritual prosperity, our increasing financial prosperity will no deprive us of happiness no matter how wealthy we may become.  An adverse risk of financial wealth is that making its maintenance a priority distracts us from the joy of sharing all we are as well as all we have.

To remain true to our ego and the egos of others we must remain false to our true nature and accordingly accept our need to give up being happy. Give up being happy and the ego wins.  Your ego will feel proud but your heart will feel grief. Grief is a natural response to all the losses we suffer under ego’s dominion.  Which do you choose to honor – your ego or your heart?

If you fail to honor your heart and fail to discover within you the courage it takes to be truly who you are, your happiness will fade away because happiness is only sustainable when you honor and like yourself.  If you don’t honor your True Self, you’ll not like yourself and you won’t like how others treat you either. In fact, you’ll come to hate yourself for not having the courage to be honest and stand up for what you believe in no matter how your beliefs may conflict with society’s beliefs.  Once you come to hate yourself enough, you may even invoke society’s capacity to punish you for secretly being you.

This cycle of dishonor, self-distain and self-punishment can spiral radically out of control to express itself in violence and self-destructive behaviors. Dishonoring yourself attracts others into your life who will agree with you, dishonor you and invite you to dishonor them too.  Within this cycle of shared unhappiness, mutual devaluing leads to habits of neglect and abuse directed both towards ourselves and towards others, perpetuates the ego’s dominance over our decisions and produces the illusion that there is no other option.  The alternative of being true to ourselves seems so farfetched, unrealistic and impossibly out of reach as to be too risky for most people to contemplate let alone implement.  As this downwardly spiraling cycle progresses, we feel increasingly powerless to live in any other manner because, as our minds become blinded by pain, we lose track of our vision of a brighter future and become trapped in recycling pain from humanity’s collective past.

Why risk the hazards of being unwanted and unwelcomed in ego’s society when hiding behind the masks that society teaches us to wear seems to be so easy? – or so the ego argues.  What’s the big deal about being happy anyways?  Happiness, the ego contends, is just a myth, a child’s fairy tale and a figment of children’s imagination.  When we grow up, the ego counsels, we’ve got to stop trying to be children and learn to be like the “real” grownups who have raised us to strive with utter futility to be happy and successful on society’s terms even when they are not happy trying to live that way. An artificial society teaches us the way of futility and then expects us to put up a believable, polite front while we smile and pretend to enjoy ourselves.  Ultimately our society then expects us to train the next generation to do the same thing all over again.

Is it not strange that adults who have failed to be both happy and successful on society’s terms continue to teach children to model their lives after unhappy and unsuccessful people such as their parents, teachers, celebrity figures and others who conform to the ego’s demands for surrender of joy as the cost of success?  We sacrifice our children’s hearts (and our own) on the ego’s altar of fear in order to win social approval and not feel alone.  And ironically even while complying with the ego’s terms of conformity in order to fit in, we feel alone.  Why is that? Such loneliness is caused by our egos’ refusal to allow us to make heart-to-heart connections, the only kind of connections that will ever relieve our loneliness.  The ego aggravates our grief layer by layer as it entombs our hearts beyond reach within the ego’s supposedly protective walls.  That’s our real choice: on the one hand, perpetual and ever-growing grief and on the other hand relief and rediscovered happiness.

The hazards of happiness include being rejected by those who choose in favor of preserving their egos and maintaining their pretense of happiness instead of joining in the restoration of their genuine, soul-satisfying happiness along with us.  For the time being at least, they think that they prefer to envy our happiness and try to tear us down again instead of lifting us up and joining in our rise beyond the ego’s pathetic playpen of immature rantings and ravings about the unfairness of life.  Letting go of the ego is the same as reaching for greater maturity so that we can live happily ever after.

Ever after what? Ever after the times when we allowed the ego to rule and ruin our happiness and progressively learned to substitute pride for happiness, ambition for hope and temporary political arrangements for lasting peace.  Pride, ambition and negotiated temporary truces offer us nothing of the divinely enriched happiness that plants its roots deep within our souls and lasts a lifetime.

I invite you to set your heart and mind upon the path of courage and compassion that allows you to be true to yourself and encourages others to do likewise. If you do, you’ll find joy and all life’s A-list qualities waiting all along your journey.  By so choosing, you are electing to value the quality of life you encounter over the quantity of material things you acquire and popular opinions that agree with your choice.  As unpopular as your choice in favor of happiness (and your own natural humanness) may appear to be, you are not alone. The ego merely wants you to believe you are alone to keep you hostage within its walls and convince you by its illusions to believe that there is no escape and that any other alternative is too risky to consider.  It’s true that the ego’s way lacks risks. It lacks risks because it is guaranteed to kill your happiness and make you wish for extinction.  Life’s only truly risky route awaits you beyond your ego along the adventure of humility that is the only true alternative to the ego’s futility.  That’s another way to frame our choice: on the one hand continued risk-free futility or, on the other hand, courageously hazardous humility within which we discover joy-filled freedom to fully participate in life’s grandest adventure as it continuously unfolds before us.

Note the word “us” at the end of the last sentence.  The false belief that is the root of all unhappiness in the depth of our hearts is the belief that we are included in no “us” we can trust to stand with us through thick and thin – in sweet times and in sour and all mixed times in between.  When we believe ourselves to be utterly alone, we are sad in a way that seems beyond overcoming.  We have the power to recover the happiness we seek that will last beyond this lifetime by adopting the alternative belief that we are all connected as one worldwide “us” and that smaller squads of “us” are swarming everywhere hoping to find and include each of us.  Learning to trust again is key.

In the middle of the word “trust” is “us.”  It is bracketed by “t’s” on either end that embrace “us” with an “r” that leads before “us.”  Each “t” stands for “truth.” The “r” that leads “us” stands for “raises.” The “r” points “us” in the right direction – upward in reversal of our previously downward spiral through steadfast reliance upon truth that was in the beginning and ever shall be in the future. Both T’s are not actually ends but rather T-intersections or links with eternity.  The truth always links us to eternity because that is where it comes from. Truth Raises US to Truth = TRUST. In God we trust is our most gracious privilege and most enduring and rewarding wisdom.

© Art Nicol 2013

Pure Cooperation Enriches Life

Do you want to tap into the power of the Divine Life and experience its flow through you as Divine Love’s joyful radiance so that you know who you are, know why you are alive, understand how to reap value from hard times and feel deeply satisfied with your life? This essay tells you why purified cooperation frees you to receive increasing power, insight, understanding and satisfaction as you purify your motives for cooperating.

The more you purify your motives for cooperating with another person, the more Divine Power flows through you as Radiant Love that fulfills your heart’s desires, including your desire to be empowered to pursue your passions and to feel deeply satisfied with yourself.  Ulterior or mixed motives for cooperating dampen Divine Power’s flow. To share in and reap the benefits of Divine Power’s miracles, it’s necessary to purify our hearts so as to live as God’s lives towards others. Purity of motives matters maximally in God’s Life Enrichment Plan. One benefit of purifying your cooperative connection with the Divine is that God creates the future and will help you have the best future possible.  If you tend to worry about the future, focus instead on purifying your cooperation with God now and leave your future in God’s hands as you help others to enjoy and appreciate their lives more in the present.

Spiritual teachers are plentiful these days.  Many promise to teach you how to experience more power by tapping into your inner realm where power waits to be released through you into your life experiences.  They are pointing in the right direction.  Much of what they teach is good as far as it goes but it does not go all the way to the heart of the matter.  Your power does abide within you, in the core of your being. It’s there waiting to be tapped into and drawn to the surface to be expressed by you as you.  I want to add a tip of wisdom to your endeavor to tap into this power.  The wisdom is this: don’t mistake your own puny power to develop your own “improved” lifestyle as measured by personal convenience, wealth and social status as Divine Power.  That’s the measure many teachers use to entice you to pay attention to them.  They seduce you with promises of increased convenience (a parking space!), prosperity and social approval. If that’s all you seek as a goal, then you’ll not be interested in the wisdom tip I’m sharing here.  However if you’d like to experience Divine Power as Radiant Love and a promising future on God’s terms, keep reading. The most direct way to tap into Divine Power is to cooperate totally with its Divine Purpose.

Divine Power is God’s to share with all who seek it on God’s terms for God’s purpose.  God’s terms do not focus on our personal convenience, wealth and social approval.  God’s terms focus on our learning to deliver to others experiences of divine love, heartfelt comfort, healing oneness and blessings of life in abundance.  Please take note: The key is our capacity to deliver the goods to others, not merely our capacity to soak up the goods for ourselves as if we are the end consumer of God’s Divine Power.  If we truly want to experience Divine Power in all of its miraculous nature and scope we simply must cooperate with God on God’s terms and not try to dictate terms to God or impose our limited purpose for its use.  God’s terms include God’s wholehearted commitment to demonstrating God’s oneness with all people. Most people are not comfortable with humbling themselves before God so as to receive as generously as God is willing to give.  Their egos get in the way because their egos are rooted in belief in separation from God and from one another.  God’s purpose of demonstrating the Oneness of Life, within which all things are interconnected, violates the ego’s basic premise that separation is real.  The ego resists humility because humility offers no place for ego.  If you want to receive and deliver to others the divinely enriched good life that God has in store for you, be prepared to cooperate with God even when your ego protests that you’ve offended it and all it values.

Here’s the scoop:  God has always wanted every human being to receive Divine Power and all of its life-enriching benefits.  It’s never been God’s will to shortchange anyone or leave anyone unfavored. There’s a way to share Divine Power among all of us that God knows and reveals but our egos ignore and obscure. We are each created to express Divine Power but we adopt egos as false social identities to survive in our society where egos and ego’s values and priorities determine how social approval and disapproval are distributed.  If you want to set Divine Power free to flow through you, be prepared to encounter turbulence as your own ego and egos around you react to your violation of ego’s rules, roles and routines and accuse you of being a boat-rocker and rule-violator – too “different” in your attitudes, beliefs and social orientation for a conformist society to approve of – while you are not a social deviant except to the extent that you exceed social standards by deviating towards excellence. The ego may declare you a hero one moment, a scapegoat the next and then do its best to ignore you entirely as it exiles you from its company. More than likely our ego-based traditionalist society will do its best to make you feel unwelcome and regret siding so radically with God as to value God’s will that Love reign supreme over our pathways to freedom and joy. You will not experience the flow of Divine Power as your natural inheritance until you reclaim God as your Divine Parent and participate fully in Divine Family Life, treating every other human being as your brother and sister, as beloved of God as you are.

Purifying our hearts means letting go of all fear so as to allow Divine Love to radiate where fear once imposed the gloom of separation and loneliness onto God’s celebration of oneness and companionship throughout all circumstances from lovely to harsh and back again. Purification of our hearts is a process that conflicts with modern practices and principles now widespread throughout our fear-based, fear-saturated society. Social norms support our maintaining hearts filled with fear as if that’s a desirable goal. Purification sets our hearts free of fear so that we become social nonconformists (even sometimes feeling like a freak) until being pure of heart becomes the new social norm. In the transitional phase during which society shifts from being fear-based, fear-saturated to being love-based, love-saturated, mutual encouragement to make the shift is vital.  We most need to learn to no longer fear Divine Love and instead to share it generously with mutual appreciation for all we are daring to be and to become.

In modern times, while fearing Diving Love, humanity mistakenly subscribed to the lie that human life evolves towards an ideal standard of improvement on account of the “survival of the fittest.”  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  The ideal standard of improvement for humanity is an increase in the flow of Divine Power to comfort, heal and bless us all. (Students of A Course In Miracles may recognize this statement of Divine Purpose.)  Human life evolves towards increased flow of Divine Power through the service of the fittest in promoting the welfare of the whole so that all members of the human race thrive, not merely survive.  Service by, not survival of, the fittest is what matters. In other words, empowerment for humanity is not about outdoing the competition by being fitter for survival than others.  It’s about being fitter for service than others may currently be.  Empowerment and life-enrichment happen naturally from learning to be more helpful towards others – with pure hearts, based on motives as pure as God’s.

Those who serve others on God’s terms (e.g., not co-dependently, compulsively or fearfully) are models of humanity’s divine nature as they serve the best interests of the whole, including those who may at first appear to be least suited for survival or service. It is wise for honored leaders of society to be spiritually oriented servants of those with the least social status.  When those at the leading edge of humanity’s social privileges reach out to aid those at humanity’s trailing edge and lift them forward along with the whole of humanity, we all move forward together. Within the dynamics of service of “social bottoms by social tops,” progress sustains itself because those previously at society’s trailing edge learn to participate meaningfully on leadership teams at society’s cutting edge of positive developments.

In sum, God’s plan for humanity’s progress in awakening to our divine nature is a wrap-around process that leaves no one out of the circle of mutual service – the Circle of Life. Humble service means that socially privileged people do not use spiritual principles and practices to continue to feather our own nests and expand our experiences of convenience and privilege. Instead we adopt humble lifestyles that free our discretionary resources to be applied voluntarily to benefit less privileged members of society, elevating everyone together into a sustainable range of lifestyles that are totally adequate but not extravagant or self-indulgent.

How can this idealistic “bottom served by top” social dynamic become reality? It is guaranteed to become society’s new reality when we commit to cooperating with it wholeheartedly because God’s orientation to humanity is as our Wholehearted Supreme Servant.  Serving us all with Divine Delight, the Ultimate Top will orchestrate the creation of the new society rooted in purified cooperation. God asks not that we serve Him/Her but that we serve each other while we also allow God to serve us all without imposing any restrictions on God’s faithfulness and generosity towards all of us through each other.  We become God’s means of equity, liberty and justice as well as creativity and multimedia beauty when we cooperate with God’s will.  While we have been uncooperative with God instead of serving each other with grace and joy according to God’s divine plan for our evolution (awakening), we have learned to crucify (do a disservice to) each other by habits of our egos while we know not what we do. We are ignorant of what we are doing because our buried guilt and shame numb our sensitivity towards others and cause us to ignore how we are harming them (and ourselves) emotionally as well as in other ways. Our natural sensitivities that would alert us to our wayward ways are offline because development of an ego and its social habits requires that we deny our hearts, tune out our emotions, limit our listening, defend against change (including improvements offered by God) and turn away from each other in distrust.

A forgiving, attentively listening, trusting God waits patiently for us to repent and turn back to Him/Her to be restored to awareness of our innocence (free of guilt and blame as well as pride and shame) so that we might once again walk with God in humility to love mercy, do justice and liberate all captives of the ego – setting them free to walk, dance and sing along with God as well.  Universal mutual service will set us free of ego’s cruel tyranny and resurrect us from the deadening effects of benumbed hearts and painfully confused minds. In serving each other’s best interests as God defines what is “best,” we will regain clarity of mind as we regain purity of heart. God’s mind is clear.  God’s motive for serving all of us is pure love.  To serve as God serves and become living channels of service under Divine Authority, we must purify our motives by learning to love as God loves and to trust one another as God trusts us.

“Let he or she who would be greatest among you be servant of all.”  Such a calling strikes at the heart of the heartlessness of the egoistic culture modern society has become.  In modern times, shrines are built to egos while hearts are shrouded in despair.  Their kinds and styles vary but the purpose of each shrine is the same – to glorify to a lesser or greater degree an ego-imprisoned person who has failed to serve with humility on behalf of the health and happiness of many who would have benefitted from a life lived egolessly.  Pervasive neglect of the needs of others and studiously maintained ignorance of God’s divine plan to bless us all hide behind every enshrined failure of an ego-bound person to serve others.  Some who are popular in the eyes of fans (or Facebook friends) may protest, “But I mistreat no one!”  Yet all of us are at risk of allowing our craving for social approval to cause us to be more concerned about cooperating with other people’s egos than about cooperating with God.

Eager to get along (survive) socially, we please others at the cost of being empowered (thriving) spiritually. We protest against being called “indifferent” towards the needs of others only because we are unaware of the many we could serve but fail to serve when we focus our energies and resources on cooperating with egos to conform socially instead of cooperating with God to transform spiritually. We are more inclined by ego’s habits to use our resources to insulate ourselves from people in need than to come into contact with them personally as we naturally would do if we serve them with all our time and resources. Once society makes cooperating with God its standard procedure, we’ll be able to conform both socially and spiritually.  But not yet while social norms ignore God’s offer to enrich our lives through service empowered by purified cooperation.

Under the ego’s current reign, with few exceptions, the socially privileged are blessed and yet of little blessing to others.  In catering to our egos, we divert into shrines of varying degrees of personal isolation, convenience and self-aggrandizement time, energy and other resources intended by God for the welfare of others.  God blesses us to empower us to bless others, but we restrict the flow of blessings by diverting them into futile attempts to satisfy insatiable egos. In so doing we continue to mislead generation after generation of children to believe that the path to greatness lies along the ego’s way and not along the way of service to those God calls us to serve. All shrines, tiny and elaborate, divert resources. It is time to awaken to the error of the ego’s claim upon our lives and rise free to serve as our hearts’ wiser nature is restored to its rightful preeminence as guide and counselor in place of ego.

For centuries, men and women have clambered over each other to acquire greater fame and fortune through socially valued achievements ranging from minor to major in the eyes of other ego-oriented people.  Today we accept the approval of others and amass wealth in excess of our basic needs on account of our performances as employees, employers, entrepreneurs, professionals, politicians, captains of industry, entertainers, sports figures, experts, critics, religious leaders, middle managers and other paid and unpaid roles – and as common citizens who allow social approval to be our false god.  We admire others for their performances, allow others to admire us (often for our pretenses as much as for our performances) and bask in the glow of spiraling social approval as often as possible.  Often we blindly accept our social approval ratings and fail to point our admirers to God as the only Being truly worthy of admiration and imitation as a role model. Instead we accept praise as if it were truly due us.  If we mention God, we do so only in passing. We tip our caps to God but do not topple ourselves from the pedestals our adoring fans and friends erect for us – or emerge again from the tombs of shame we may endure if we offend our fans and friends. To be clear, there’s only life-enrichment to be gained through expressing and receiving heartfelt gratitude and genuine compliments. It is awe and worshipful praise we must reserve for God alone.

Of course, because we are not A-list celebrities and rarely attract media attention, most of us will deny that we are heavily invested in self-serving lifestyles and continue to participate in moderate mutual admiration societies we call friends, co-workers and other restricted-entry social gatherings. By the ego’s trick of comparing ourselves to others and finding ourselves “not as excessive as ‘them,’” we justify our modest participation in a society that is blind to God’s plan.  But ego’s success in diverting our attention and investment of our lives from God’s plan is still controlling our decisions and blinding us to the truth of how God would have us serve if only we were more cooperative with God and less cooperative with egos.

We prefer to applaud and admire the few who serve in exceptional ways and call then “heroes” than to become one of them according to God’s calling in our hearts. If we share a portion of our wealth and other resources with others, we do so only according to some token measure that assuages our guilty conscience but does not honor God. Our tokenism reveals our egoism.  All we have received we hold in trust as endowments from God yet we give back to God only the little that legalistic social conformity requires.  A tithe perhaps, but not the whole.  We trust not God’s promise to return to us a thousandfold all that we might give cheerfully to God. We trust not the engine of universal prosperity that would function for the benefit of all if only we would honor God and give all to divine service as God gives so generously to us.  We take credit for God’s part in our successes and fail to express our gratitude to God as fully as God expresses His/Her generosity to us. Today there are many who continue to make excuses for glorifying ourselves according to the ego’s subtly deceptive model rather than step entirely free from self-serving lifestyles to serve God and let God be glorified. The time for undiluted, uncompromised cooperation with God has arrived to save humanity from extinction.  It’s likewise time to be entirely free to love as God loves and to be loved in return with equal power and commitment.

Our devotion to the ego’s way results from competition that epitomizes the deceitful proposition that survival of the fittest causes humanity to evolve.  As evidenced by events and conditions worldwide, the truth is that competition dehumanizes the human race and causes us to dissolve, not evolve.  Cooperation is the way of Life – of ever-expanding Vitality. Symbiosis and mutuality of living are features of Life. The ego belittles being truly helpful as humiliating and debasing “obedience” as if living humbly in harmony with God’s will is evil or at least an embarrassingly nonconformist way of life to be avoided at all cost.  The ego declares generosity to be a sacrifice instead of a sacrament that expresses God’s nature and an opportunity to live in oneness with God, with one another and with all forms of Life according to God’s plan of creation and sustainability for us all.

Life is God’s to design and implement.  When we gracefully serve God in all humility with joy in our hearts, we return to God the grace God first extended to us with divine joy.  By grace, we participate in Life fully and it flows through us as joyfully as a bubbling brook of crystal clear water.  Many are those who come to the Water of Life that God shares through us when we cooperate with God and serve as God serves.  Only then can we declare as protector of the socially less powerful “Such grace as has been given to me I give unto you” and open the way for the healing of our lands through the healing of our hearts.  Such gentle generosity and grace compose the way of true power because it is the way of life amid which we encounter and embrace God as He/She encounters and embraces us.

Life is not a process primarily characterized by disintegration and lack of integrity as ego’s false version of life presents.  Life is a process primarily characterized by continuously upgrading integration of creative ideas around a core of integrity that is eternal as well as internal.  Spiritual principles and practices of many paths of faith invite us to experience the wonders of this expanding process called “Life Everlasting” or “Limitless Creation.” An apt analogy for this expansion from the inner core outward is found in the growth rings, spreading branches, abundant fruitfulness, towering majesty and longevity of ancient trees.  That is one reason the Tree of Life so frequently appears as a universal symbol of Eternal Life.  Our pure cooperation with God creates a reality that will outlive all physical symbols used to convey its nature through human languages other than the universal nonverbal language of love found in smiles, twinkling eyes, heartfelt laughter, music, dance and other signs of peace and goodwill among all peoples of the earth.

How did we go astray from God’s plan for a continuously upgrading integration of creative concepts around the core of timeless wisdom? We strayed off target when we mistakenly equated our lives with the physical expressions of other kingdoms of life – of minerals, plants and animals – and failed to recognize 1) the human kingdom’s unique identity and qualities as the pinnacle of God’s creation and 2) our developmentally unfolding wholeness as an expression of God’s nature being progressively revealed throughout humanity with some individuals unfolding in time ahead of others.  We misunderstood our status as God’s most exalted creation as an excuse for exercising power over all other kingdoms of life without regard for the counterbalancing responsibility that comes with greater power.  Even Spiderman had to learn that “with great power comes great responsibility.”  It is time for humanity to learn that lesson too.  When we wield power over others for the sole purpose of serving supportively under those we serve we achieve the delicate balance required of stewards of divinely augmented power wielded on behalf of all.  Through this spiritually enriched, ethically administered paradigm of power we achieve the greatest good for the greatest number by ensuring the best for all in the long run. Such are God’s ethics.

Each of us can personally wield the power of life ethically if we wield with wisdom and committed cooperation the power God entrusts to us.  As we grow in wisdom in its wielding by allowing God to purify our hearts, God entrusts more power to flow through us.  We maximize this power’s potency and perseverance by minimizing our ego’s intensity and interference.  We cause death – and impose upon others fates worse than death – through all forms of abuse and by a thousand slices of neglect when we fail to exercise our divinely entrusted power wisely with pure motives.  God is relying upon us to master the art of wisdom so as to cooperate with Him/Her fully before all forms of life upon the earth are damaged too heavily to sustain life for human beings.  God ensures the sustainability of all other kingdoms of life.  They will thrive well without humanity’s presence if we humans insist that they do so.  They will thrive well with humans present only if and when we are present as God is present in relationship to all such kingdoms and serve them well so that they may continue to serve us well in turn.

We have a choice to live in harmony with God and all created kingdoms of the earth and thereby share in the mutual benefits that flow from the symbiotic miracles of nature or to defy God’s plan of creation and render it unsustainable for humanity.  The other kingdoms will recover from our abuse and neglect once we are gone.  The issue is only whether we want to render ourselves extinct on account of failing to cooperate with God and with each other as children of God or prefer to perpetuate our race as one race under God with liberty, justice, beauty and grace for all – for all of Life in every form created.  To choose in favor of purified cooperation with God – with total commitment to accepting and adjusting to its terms and conditions – is to choose to be true to ourselves as expressions of God, to perpetuate the human race as God created us and to place our futures in the hands of a Most Competent Supreme Servant who knows how to lead us into the experience of our Divine Home on earth modeled on Heaven’s Home now imagined to be only reachable beyond earth. We need only imagine that Heaven is already here on earth for us to begin the transformation God has in mind for all of us.

© Art Nicol 2013