Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Spiritual Perspective on Speaking Your Mind

How freely can we speak our minds?

Can we say whatever we want around our loved ones without worrying about their reactions, or do we have to walk on eggshells so that we don't disturb anyone's ego?

As is obvious to anyone, if our relationship is based around preserving each other's ego, then it is a very limited connection and probably will not be very fulfilling. We can't enjoy an open and harmonious relationship if we worry about the other's reaction every time we voice what we are truly feeling or observing. When this happens, couples tend to stop communicating altogether, and this marks the end of the enjoyment of the relationship, for open communication is essential.

All couples should establish the foundation of communication that either of them can freely say anything without the other reacting. Otherwise, if you can't speak your mind without the other coming down on you because of it, the relationship cannot grow.

Only the ego reacts. The inner Self simply observes the dialogue without taking anything personally, or feeling that anything has to be righted, corrected, or confronted.

I will be focusing more and more on the lessons of the Course of Training available through email, and working with those who are actively participating in the course. Of course, we will continue with new blog entries twice monthly as a means for staying current with each other, and as a great avenue for questions and answers. We have enjoyed an interesting discussion over the past couple of weeks, and I'm bringing up 3 exchanges in particular so that everyone can see and perhaps focus a little more deeply on what is being discussed, which I find very valuable and relevant.

I feel that the entries already posted in the blog are an excellent introduction to the Course of Training, and anyone who reads over the blog should have a fair idea of what is available through the course. I especially recommend the entry of November 1 for learning more about the course, as well as more specifically where we are coming from. Also, at the end of the very first entry in July, titled "Introduction," there is a list of topics that are among what we are exploring in the Course of Training.

While the group who began the new course in August/September will receive Lesson 6 sometime later tonight, work is also being done for the future. Speaking of the course in Lesson 17, it is written:

"This Course is for those who are open to the possibility that rapid spiritual growth is possible if we are willing to work toward it. It is for those people who simply want to come into harmony with the present moment and to be content in their own life as it is right now. It is for those who have experienced a fruitful spiritual path for many years and want to explore even deeper. It is also for all those who simply have some inkling that there is much more to life than what they have previously known, yet for whom the ideas and terminology of the lessons are new and unfamiliar.

"The Course is simultaneously for those who are absolute beginners on the spiritual path and for those who might have done sadhana (spiritual work) for many years. Most people who will appreciate the lessons are those who begin the Course having already attained some understanding of spiritual principles. I work primarily with those who have been around awhile, and few absolute beginners show up; but they are indeed welcome.

"Ultimately, the Course is for anyone who sincerely aspires to see and experience the simple Truth of the existing moment.

"We can learn what is new only when we maintain a state of inquiry. True self-inquiry is an exploration of what is true right now.

"I invite you to accompany me on this fascinating adventure, this exploration of the Truth of the present moment. As we proceed along this journey together, our experience of life can be transformed and our understanding deepened and refined. On one level, the Truth of the present moment is eternally changeless. On another level—the fun part—we have no idea what might happen next."

I truly recommend that all the comments under each entry are read, as I don't allow anything that doesn't contribute positively to our opening through dialogue. There are really great sharings of the course, as well as many thoughtful questions and answers regarding the day-by-day process of spiritual growth.

If you are new to these writings, please note that the person who posts under the name "DRB" is none other than myself, the writer of the blog and the Course of Training, D. R. Butler.

Now on to the questions:

Kristina: I have been working on myself for awhile and it seems that I am not what I thought I would be when I started the course many years ago. I am often confused and I certainly don't feel like I am beaming with the light of god. I often feel quite the contrary. I do accept myself a lot more and I am less scared to say what is really on my mind. This is what bothers me. I used to be a very timid and reserved kind of person (I didn't get into any trouble) and now it seems I speak up more and I have more personality and I care less what others think. This scares me because I think I am becoming some kind of monster. It just seems that before I was always safe and pleasing to everyone, while now I have become the opposite. I don't know if I am going in the right direction towards my Self or if I am just going around displaying my big fat ego and making a total fool of myself. It seems I am getting into more trouble these days. Things don't always seem harmonious. Sometimes I am afraid of what comes out of my mouth and after I think, I can't believe I just said that. I challenge what people say to me and I am more critical of things others say. Like I want to think for myself more than just listen to someone else's jibber jabber. It doesn't seem very positive to me. Obviously, I know that I am not an enlightened person which I aspire to, but am I on the right track?

DRB: Kristina, I relate totally to everything you are saying. I was just describing to someone not long ago about how I have changed over the past few years. One is that I speak my mind more without being afraid of what others are hearing. I also complain more, as I figure at this point it's better to just say something than to keep it bottled up where it will fester. If I have the freedom to complain without there being a reaction to my complaint, it only takes a moment to get it off my chest and then it's forgotten (if the other doesn't take it personally, that is; otherwise, it can initiate a whole chain of negative reactions). Repressing the feeling, however, builds up toxic energy that will lead to unpleasant consequences.

Kay and I have an agreement that either of us can say anything to the other without the other taking it personally or reacting to it, just so that we are both allowed complete freedom of expression. We both strongly recommend that all couples and partners adopt this principle in your own relationship. Neither partner should feel censored regarding what he or she is allowed to express to the other. Holding things in is bad for both physical and emotional health--which are obviously closely linked.

Kay has expressed to me that she thinks I've grown grumpier over the years, but that she's also noticed that I seem to be happiest when I'm simply allowed to be grumpy without anyone thinking anything of it or feeling that it needs to be addressed somehow.

There is certainly no reason to take another's grumpiness personally. After all, it is just as egotistical to take offense as it is to give offense.

The feeling I got from reading your question was that you are simply becoming more real, more spontaneous, and less of a people-pleaser, which are all big steps. It's a huge step to finally just stop caring about how others see or hear us, or what they think of us.

A great teacher once said, "If people think better of you, it will not help you; if people think worse of you, it will not hurt you"

I can certainly attest to this in my own life. I have had large groups of people at a time relating to me with great love and respect, and it didn't do anything for me, it didn't enhance my own experience. I still had to maintain my own state. And I have had people say and write the worst things about me imaginable, and spread the most ignorant rumors, and it didn't hurt me at all. I still had to maintain my own state.

You said, "I do accept myself a lot more and I am a lot less scared to say what is really on my mind."

This is a good sign, Kristina, and a big step to take. I'd say keep heading in the direction you're going. You have a good heart, and one day you will attain all your dreams.

Mary: Thank you to Kristina for her honest share - I feel like I'm in the same club - letting my "inner monster" out after 54 years - but I also feel my inner affectionate, tender self coming out as well. I think I have to be able to feel my pain to feel my joy - and go through it cleanly (or let it go through me, rather) without letting the ego do its "misery" thing. I find that really tricky. My question is, do you agree, and how does that fit in with refusing to consider what is unpleasant? I know you said not to complicate things, and I don't want to either, but sometimes clarification helps to cut off my ego from protesting with "yes, but" stuff. Thank you so very much

DRB: There is a truth to the fact that as we break free from our tendencies to be inhibited and reserved, and allow ourselves to freely express those things that are not so people-pleasing, our "more affectionate and tender side" comes out as well.

When we are enslaved by inhibition, we prevent the expression of the best of ourselves as well as what we fear might be the worst of ourselves. This is why ultimately we have to be free from inhibition. Only then can we be truly spontaneous.

Later in the course, we will explore the "Seven Deadly Samskaras," and we will examine how inhibition is a limitation we must break free from. Otherwise the highest cannot freely express through us, which only happens spontaneously. The Creative Power of the universe doesn't have to plan things out in advance.

I loved when you said: "I have to be able to feel my pain to feel my joy - and go through it cleanly (or let it go through me, rather) without letting the ego do its 'misery' thing."

It is a great attainment to go through pain cleanly without getting into the negative emotion of misery, or without using the pain as a justification for allowing ourselves to be miserable, or to make a martyr of ourselves ("Oh, my life is so hard. So many bad things happen to me.")

Pain in itself is not an egotistical melodrama. Misery is. Misery comes up when we create a mournful story to go along with our pain.

Much better to, as you said, go through the pain cleanly and be done with it without making a big deal of it.

When we discipline ourselves enough to think only of what is pleasant, which is true discipline, then even our pain will never lead to misery. If we continue considering what is unpleasant, then we can experience misery even when there is no real or valid pain. In this way misery itself is an egotistical melodrama.

Ari: It was very liberating to read what you and Kristina wrote about expressing yourself freely and not worrying so much about how others view us. When I was young I was very outgoing and always spoke my mind (I'm talking grade school here). Then I suffered some trauma in my life and went into a shell for a long time. Through it I found yoga and a spiritual practice. I feel I have come full circle again but have not had the courage to really start speaking my mind until recently. With it I started to have doubts because it felt like such a big change. I felt at times it was "unyogi" like. So it was reassuring for me to read your posts on this subject.

My only added comment on it is how do you know when you're just being an ass or speaking your mind? I remember reading a quote from my spiritual master on the subject. She said why would you spend all this time doing meditation if you're going to be mean to the first person that you come across? I think if you are coming from the heart you will be coming from a good place and wont have to worry if people are approving of you.

DRB: Ari, you answered your own question: "I think if you are coming from the heart, you will be coming from a good place and won't have to worry if people are approving of you."

This is so true, and the very best answer to the question you presented. Simply come from the heart--from a place of love, kindness, and respect--and whatever comes out is what is best for everyone involved.

It's more a matter of vibrations than semantics. In other words, it's not so much what is said as what is felt as the words are spoken. Someone teases us playfully, but the ego is quick to take offense at the imagined slight, interpreting the words as a serious insult. Many of us have a hard time with imagined slights.

Your spiritual master is obviously very wise when she said: "Why would you spend all this time doing meditation if you're going to be mean to the first person that you come across?"

Too many of us practice our practices, meditate, repeat homilies and platitudes about what is good and best and right, and then we act like an absolute jerk the first time someone says something we don't like.

Kristina's post seemed to strike a nerve with several people. A lot of people think it's "unyogi like" to speak their mind--but the yogic Masters I have worked with didn't seem to subscribe to that particular point of view. They spoke their minds to me several times, pulling no punches, and it was always very good for my ego.

You can speak your mind and still come from the heart, still come from a place of love and respect. Sometimes fierceness is required in certain situations.

I am reminded of a story I once heard about Swami Satchitananda, one of the yoga teachers I met and studied with for a while in the early 70's. He was traveling on a crowded train in India with an older swami. The older swami had to leave his chair for a moment and asked Swami Satchitananda to please save his chair for him. Soon after he left a burly man came and sat down testily on the seat. Swami Satchitananda sweetly explained to him that the seat was saved for an elderly swami who would be right back. The burly man refused to budge.

Suddenly, Swami Satchitananda turned to the man and roared like a lion. You could hear his roar throughout the crowded coach. The burly man took one hasty look at the apparently mad yogi, and then quickly retreated from the chair. Soon the elderly swami returned to his seat without further incident.

Sometimes we have to roar like a lion. Sometimes, when faced with extreme negativity, stupidity, or rigidity, what is most appropriate is not always the nicest or most people-pleasing thing to do. Sometimes intensity is called for to serve a noble purpose.

Look at Arjuna, in the Bhagavad Gita; he had to go to war with cousins, uncles, gurus, and sages on the other side. When Arjuna doubted that war was the best option, Krishna reminded him, "It is the duty (dharma) of a warrior to fight for a noble cause."

Sometimes we have to fight for a noble cause--and such noble causes may be big things or seemingly smaller things. Yogis aren't always sweet people. My own Master once said, "I am not the kind of swami that turns the other cheek."

I enjoyed all the comments from last time, and I look forward to seeing what all of you come up with this time.

For more information about D. R. Butler's new Course of Training available through email, write:


Mike said...

For the last 20 years I have been doing sadhana. I have been through so many incredible experiences and many highs and lows. In the last couple of weeks I was in a blissful state filled with gratitude and falling into meditation spontaneously at different times during the day. I was watching the ego react and was able to be the witness many times.

Then I went to a one day meditation program that was held in silence. We meditated for five sessions of one hour each. In between the sessions I was reading a book that explained the path I follow which had commentaries on Kashmir Shaivism. During my readings a phrase would always stand out that I would take into my heart. If I read the phrase before I went into meditation I would experience it in meditation. At one point I did not do any reading. I was experiencing a deep blissful state. I was sitting outside the meditation hall near a door that was left open during a break and a strong gust of wind came through the door and wrapped around my body. It was like a giant hug of spiritual energy.

Then I read a section in the book that explained that we can get and recharge our spiritual energy from nature. It was an enlightening experience. On another occasion I read that at certain states our thoughts can become like passing clouds in the sky, as you mentioned in the new lesson which I hadn't even received at the time yet. They are there but you're just witnessing them. I'm truly filled with wonder at how your lessons correspond to the experiences I had this weekend. I also experienced that space between thoughts (pure universal Consciousness). I was able to maintain that state for some time during the meditation.

Another verse in the book that stood out for me was "Desire never knows contentment." I experienced this throughout the day. At one point I experienced such deep gratitude for all the blessings in my life that tears of joy came to my eyes.

I had a blissful drive chanting all the way home from the program. When I arrived at home I began to experience a feeling inside that I could not let go of. I felt a lot of anger like a wanted to revolt against something. I felt like creating an egotistical melodrama, but I didn't. There was nothing in particular, that I can remember, to trigger this feeling. In the blog you talk about being able to let this stuff go and how important it is for your health. It feels like a heavy boulder in my chest weighing me down mixed with depression. I can't find a way to release it. I want to release it in a dharmic way. I have felt this way many times but not recently. Do you know of a way to let this go. I feel as though I'm suppressing it. My view is to just keep doing the practices, and a lot of chanting, as you mention in your lesson (bhakti yoga), what you think is what you get. Will this purify this feeling?

With love and gratitude,


Michael said...

What place do faith, hope and love hold in sadhana? Do you see them as virtues to cultivate, as ongoing practices that gentle the mind and open the heart, and/or as processes that will eventually culminate as the last samskara is discharged?

D. R. Butler said...

This is one of the most challenging questions I have received yet, Michael. Leave it to you. I had to get out my dictionary.

Looking up "faith," my dictionary says: "1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. 2. Belief not based on logical proof or material evidence."

According to these two definitions of faith, I'd say it is definitely a virtue to cultivate this quality. First of all, it is most important to have faith in our own Self, in our own value and worthiness; secondly, we can develop faith in the source of our spiritual teachings, and the great value of the teachings (principles of truth) themselves; third, we can have faith in the community of seekers that we are a part of, and give up any sense of being alone on the path, or of isolation from loved ones.

If I were to add another valuable use for faith, I'd say we need to develop faith in the goodness of our lives, and in the truth that only good will come to us and our loved ones, and that everything happens for the best.

Moving along to "hope," my dictionary says: 1. To wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment. 2. To expect or desire."

Well, hope doesn't look very hopeful for spiritual purposes, if we go by the dictionary definition. For spiritual growth and maturity we need to be free from wishes, expectations, and desires.

Many people unfortunately substitute "hope" for "faith," and "hope" that the best thing happens, uncertain of whether it will or not, instead of having a firm faith that everything happens for the best, with a firm certainty.

So, for the most part, we can learn to be free from hope and replace it with positive affirmation. Generally speaking, to "hope" something happens is to rest in the belief that it very well might not happen. Therefore, for practical purposes, "faith" is much superior to "hope."

My dictionary defines "love," as: 1. An intense affection for another person based on personal or familial ties. 2. An expression of one's affection."

I don't particular like this definition of love, at least in terms of spiritual work. The dictionary definition seems to refer to the common melodramatic uses of love, which often result in attachment, obsession, possessiveness, jealousy, and all that gunk that the sooner we are free from the better.

From a spiritual perspective, love is the feeling that arises when we experience our oneness, or at-one-ment, with another. When you and I experience our oneness, love arises between us. If an entire group feels its oneness, as we used to experience at our weekend workshops, then a feeling of great love arises among the entire group. My teacher used to say that love is the secret sensation of the Self. That is certainly as good a definition as I have ever come upon.

Thanks for your question, Michael. Enjoy a great day.

Mely said...

Talking about love...
What does it mean to love? Where does the love come from? Why is love releated to the heart? Is the love just in heart?
"Love until it hurts", I don´t get this phrase, I know it´s beautiful, but I don´t get it.
Does love hurts?

Mike said...

For the last 20 years I have been doing sadhana. Last weekend I went to a one day meditation program that was held in silence. We meditated for five sessions of one hour each. In between the sessions I was reading a book that explained the path I follow which had commentaries on Kashmir Shaivism. During my readings a phrase would always stand out that I would take into my heart.

Then I read a section in the book that explained that we can get and recharge our spiritual energy from nature. It was an enlightening experience. On another occasion I read that at certain states our thoughts can become like passing clouds in the sky, as you mentioned in the new lesson which I hadn't even received at the time yet. They are there but you're just witnessing them. I'm truly filled with wonder at how your lessons correspond to the experiences I had this weekend.

I also experienced that space between thoughts (pure universal Consciousness). I was able to maintain that state for some time during the meditation.

Another verse in the book that stood out for me was "Desire never knows contentment." I experienced this throughout the day. At one point I experienced such deep gratitude for all the blessings in my life that tears of joy came to my eyes.

I had a blissful drive chanting all the way home from the program. When I arrived at home I began to experience a feeling inside that I could not let go of. I felt a lot of anger like I wanted to revolt against something. I felt like creating an egotistical melodrama, but I didn't. There was nothing in particular, that I can remember, to trigger this feeling. In the blog you talk about being able to let this stuff go and how important it is for your health. It feels like a heavy boulder in my chest weighing me down mixed with depression. I can't find a way to release it. I want to release it in a dharmic way. I have felt this way many times but not recently.

Do you know of a way to let this go? I feel as though I'm suppressing it. My view is to just keep doing the practices, and a lot of chanting, as you mention in your lesson (bhakti yoga), what you think is what you get. Will this purify this feeling?

D. R. Butler said...

This is in reply to Mely's question above about love.

First of all, about the statement, "love until it hurts," since I did not make this statement, I cannot explain it or comment on it. My experience of love is that it does not hurt. I do not even know where this statement comes from, but I would not pay it too much attention or give it any importance.

Your true questions: "What does it mean to love? Where does the love come from? Why is love releated to the heart? Is the love just in heart?"

As far as what does it mean to love, my answer is that it means to tune into the love that already exists deep in the heart center. As we will explore in the section of the course focusing on love, we do not use love as a verb. I have yet to witness anyone demonstrate what they do to "love" someone. All you can do in tune into your own inner love, which already exists in its fullness.

Where does the love come from? As is stated above in another comment, I quoted my own teacher as saying, "Love is the secret sensation of the Self." Love does not come from anywhere. Everything comes from love. Everything starts with and ends in love. We live in an ocean of love, and asking where does it come from is like a fish asking where water comes from.

Why is love related to the heart, and is love just in the heart? We are not referring to the physical heart here, although there is a connection. In yogic terminology, we are referring to the heart chakra, the heart center, which is the center of love in the individual. When we fully feel our love, our heart swells with the sweetness of love. Love is not just in the heart. Love is all-pervasive and eternal. It's just that the individual experiences love in the area of the heart--corresponding to the heart chakra, which is the inner energy vortex where love is centered.

We will explore love in depth in the lessons, and there is much to understand about it. We are limited in how much we can discuss it in a blog, but we've made a good start right here.

Thanks as always for your good questions, Mely.

D. R. Butler said...

Mike, I will attempt in this limited space to answer what seems to be happening for you.

You talked of going to a meditation program that was mostly in silence, except for your reading during breaks. Obviously this was a spiritually intense day for you.

What often happens after any intense spiritual experience, is that afterwards there is a discharge of accumulated negative energy, some that has been there for years, perhaps even some that has been there for lifetimes.

Mike said, "I had a blissful drive chanting all the way home from the program. When I arrived at home I began to experience a feeling inside that I could not let go of. I felt a lot of anger like I wanted to revolt against something. I felt like creating an egotistical melodrama, but I didn't. There was nothing in particular, that I can remember, to trigger this feeling."

So you had a blissful ride chanting all the way from the program, and then when you got home there was anger and the temptation to start some kind of egotistical melodrama. This is the energy from your intense spiritual experience expelling old stuff from your psychic system, even samskaras that have been with you (in the subconscious mind and the subtle nervous system) for a very long time.

We can understand it as a cleansing, but you have to understand the energy when it comes up and not allow the ego to get involved and run with it, which it seems you handled pretty well.

Chanting can help release and transmute the energy, if this is your thing. Also, any form of physical exercise is real good--hatha yoga, a good workout, or simply a long brisk walk can be very helpful in releasing stuck energy.

Also, if there is a wooded area, or somewhere you can be completely alone, or with someone you trust, go there and talk to yourself loudly about what you are feeling and how you feel about it. You can talk about it in such a way that you can gradually discharge the energy and be free from it.

The trick here is not to direct the energy toward someone else. Many people have problems with this, because the impulse of the ego is to direct it toward whomever we are with, which comes across as irrational anger. Many unnecessary fights get started this way, simply because someone can't deal with his energy in a positive way.

With practice, you will discover your own ways of releasing unwanted energy harmlessly, where it does not impose upon anyone else in your karmic sphere.

Enjoy a great day, Mike.

Steve said...

I was struck by the definition you provided for hope, and I have a question about managing expectations. I've noticed in this life, for many years now, that limited knowledge provides continuous expectations about what's going on in practically every aspect of life, and that in almost every instance the expectation is entirely wrong. It's as though the Shakti (life force, whatever) is very patiently playing a game with me.

For instance, the day begins and I have some pending activities to attend to, and a part of my mind has the scenario formulated for a particular activity, or meeting, or what someone's attitude will be. It's often something so simple as unconsciously knowing that when someone performed a certain task, well of course they will have done it this way, and left this out, etc. Then when that present moment rolls around, not only is the expectation wrong, but usually the exact opposite of the reality.

None of this is earth shaking, or mission critical, however I find it endlessly amusing to see my expectations so completely foiled so consistently (thus the mention of the "game" above). At times I am able, whenever I'm aware of the present, to consciously refuse to "know" or indulge in an expectation, and just enjoy whatever the reality turns out to be. But not as often as I would like.

My question is that, this has been going on for a long time, so am I stuck? A part of me wants me to progress to the point of no expectations whatsoever, but I don't seem to be getting far along that path. Anyway, thanks for any thoughts on this.

Teri said...

I have just recently come across your writings for the first time, and for some reason your teachings, even the title of your course, remind me of Eckhart Tolle and his work. Would you say that your teachings are similar?

D. R. Butler said...

I had to laugh when I read that, Teri. I remember a few years ago, when Tolle's first book came out, so many people wrote me to say something like, "The fellow who wrote this book is obviously someone who has been taking your course and attending your workshops. Everything he says sounds like it came from you."

Amusingly enough, the first time I actually heard one of Tolle's talks, several years after first hearing of him, I truly did have to laugh, because it sounded like hearing myself talk with a British/German accent. He actually was speaking very similar ideas to what I had been writing in my course since 1975.

Anyway, obviously, I have a great appreciation for Tolle and the work he does. The amount of preparatory work he did in the broadcasts with Oprah has opened many to the idea of inner work who might have only recently glimpsed for the first time what's truly in store for us in this lifetime, and the incredible possibilities that lie ahead for those who are willing to seek the Truth wherever it takes them.

I am happy there are people like Tolle out there now still traveling and giving programs and meeting with people. I did those things from 1975-2000, and now I am happy to sit here and work with folks online and let people like him do the legwork, so to speak.

I am sure if the two of us were to ever meet, we would share a lot of laughter together.

There are definite similarities between our style and teachings, yet we also each have our specialties. He goes into some stuff that I don't get into, and I emphasize some things--such as the creative power of thought and the even greater power of focused attention--that he doesn't go into.

We had different teachers and different backgrounds, and so of course we would have different strengths. I appreciate his work, and I imagine if he ever were to actually read something I wrote, he'd appreciate mine as well.

Nathan said...

I just read the last two comments, and I have to leave a comment myself.

I have read D.R.'s writings, when they were available, for over 20 years now, and I have also read all of Tolle's books and heard many of his CDs.

I, like D.R., also have a great appreciation for Tolle's work. He has touched a lot of people in a positive way.

D.R., however, was obviously very humble in his response to Teri, as there is more of a difference between the two than he makes it sound. It is true, as D.R. says, that he goes more into creating our moment-to-moment experience through directing our inner own creative power, however what he did not mention, and what he probably cannot mention, is the intensity and transformative nature of the heart energy transmitted through D.R.'s writings.

Everyone I knew, and there were many, who attended D.R.'s workshops or took his course by mail for any length of time reported a distinct opening of the heart and of love energy. He was known among those who knew him as someone who awakened heart energy, love energy, and in my experience his writings are more powerful today than ever.

This is one quality that is distinct in D.R.'s writings that he probably cannot appropriately speak of himself, yet it is worth noting, for it is what sets him apart from other teachers.

His heart energy is both enormous and contagious, and it is what keeps me attuned to his writings, and what makes me so very happy that he has resumed his active public writings and made a new course available.

My own heart is filled with gratitude for what we are given. And even so, I know that most who read this won't quite yet understand what I'm talking about, but if you stick with it, you will.

ari said...

When you mentioned in lesson 6 about the passage where if someone was looking in on a group of people meditating he might think "they are a bunch of loonies". I burst out laughing reading that. I then realized that might be the first time I laughed at one of your passages. And it's already lesson 6.
I remember the old course and how often I laughed at your writings. I thought your work was as good as a lot of comedians.
Do you have a conscious intent to have less humour in your work or perhaps it's me suddenly getting too serious about life.

D. R. Butler said...

You got me, Ari. It's all pretty funny to me.

Maybe it depends somewhat on the mood or degree of lightheartedness you are in when you read.

If that doesn't help, write back and we'll try something else.

Robert said...

My girlfriend keeps yelling at me that I should treat her more respectfully. She has been doing this for a few days now without letting up. She yells at me with so much hostility about how I should be more respectful to her, and it's embarrassing because I know the neighbors can hear her berating me, but she doesn't seem to care. I would love to be more respectful to her, but it is difficult to do when she is yelling nonstop at me with so much blame and intensity. What to do?

D. R. Butler said...

Robert, this sounds like another case of someone seeing reflections of her own actions and feelings in another, and blaming him for what she is doing and feeling herself.

This is one of the most common things in the world. People go around yelling at reflections, blaming the mirror for what they are seeing and reacting to.

Just hang in there and do your best to remain centered in a compassionate space. If she is worth maintaining a relationship with, the emotional storm will soon pass over and she will come to her senses. If she doesn't, then I suppose you have to reevaluate the worth of the relationship. No one wants to live with someone yelling at them disrespectfully all the time. It is not even respectful to ourselves to put up with such nonsense after a while.

Like I said, if she is truly worth your love and companionship, her intense mood will soon pass and she will get back to remembering her love and being respectful to you again, as she is apparently demanding from you.

People have the hardest time not blaming others for the very things they themselves are doing. It is a strange phenomenon, yet it happens all the time.

Rico said...

Just some thoughts bouncing around that I'd like to share with you. The first Eastern Philosophy that I explored with any degree of thoroughness was Zen some 40 years ago. While I enjoyed reading the works of Alan Watts & D.T. Suzuki, the concepts they conveyed were beyond my ability to grasp at the time. Two of the essential concepts were wu-wei "non-doing" and wu-hsin "no-mind". I was startled when I saw this same concept on page 6 of the current Lesson. I was reminded of the longing I had as a teenager to experience these states "of mind". Now all this time later here they were again only this time they weren't so foreign. I am often struck by how many times I come across descriptions of the same state in almost the same words in other traditions. There is a strikingly similar description in the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition of Dzogchen although their name for it escapes me at the moment.

It's exquisite that I have found the meaning of something I so longed for years ago from a tradition that is often at odds at least philosophically with Taoism/Buddhism. Maybe that's why I'm having a problem with the term and maybe the concept of God lately. It seems like so much damage has been done in the name of God throughout the ages that maybe the Buddhists have the right idea with doing away with the concept altogether. I guess that's one of the things I like(d) about the early lessons(then and now). You manage to cover everything without leaning too heavily on the God thing. Given how highly charged the word is maybe it's best if it's used sparingly if at all. After all it seems Love is a much better word/concept to focus on, so much more unifying.

D. R. Butler said...

Rico, that is an interesting perspective. Our outlook is that God is love, and that love is the
All-Pervasive Feeling that permeates the entire cosmos at one and the same time.

It is challenging to live in love if we are focused on thinking and doing, so the ancient sages came up with the ideas of "non-doing" and "no-mind" to help deal with the ever-interfering ego. If we are not involved in "doing" or "thinking" then we can live in the heart and in love, but these two things take us out of the heart and put us squarely into the clutches of ego.

This doesn't mean that we can't think or do anything. People really need to understand things in the right way. Many are in such a rigid either/or mentality that they literally can't think straight. They think things must be either this or that. When you understand the different levels of things that exist simultaneously, you begin to see that things are not necessarily either this or that--either you can think or you shouldn't think at all; either you can do things or you shouldn't do anything.

It isn't this way at all. On one level thinking happens, yet we can consciously remain in a state of no-mind; on one level doing happens, yet we can consciously remain in a state of non-doing.

This is why we need the course as such and cannot cover everything in a blog. Each lesson progresses to the next, and the understanding of one thing leads to the understanding of a completely new thing. In the blog we can refer to what we are talking about, but we need to actually take the course to be trained, step by step, how to truly do what we are talking about.

Thanks for your continued contributions to the blog and the course, Rico.

D. R. Butler said...

I was just reading over the comments and hanging out online, as I'm prone to do Sunday afternoons while I relax by watching a little NFL. If someone can't see spirituality in sports, well, you wouldn't understand anyway.

I was reading my response to the question about Tolle, and something else came to mind. Of course he is still on an ascending arch, so who knows what is to come, but at least he hasn't yet had anyone create an anti-Tolle site, or an ex-Tolle site, or a leaving-Tolle site. That's a pretty outstanding feature for a modern-day spiritual teacher, when anyone can gossip on the Internet about anything or anybody as though they know what they are talking about.

There are even sites where they lump all spiritual teachers together and spin all the negative stuff about all of them that they can come up with. Now that's wise use of someone's time and energy. That really helps us all; thank you very much for your great contribution.

Our Course of Training is all-inclusive, and excludes no one's way of thinking. Anyone can practice any path or religion and live by the universal principles as taught in the lessons of the course. There is no conflict with anyone else. Not only that, no one can rationally argue against any of the principles explored, except by resorting to dogma and blind belief. The principles as taught in the course are universal, and apply to all times, places, and all people living anywhere on the planet.

Well, just me rapping about my thoughts on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

To quote Pink Floyd: "Is there anyone out there?"

Love to all who read this.

rico said...

Your Sunday afternoon comment points to what I was getting at about the "God thing". An individual's personal beliefs are the cause of a lot of the conflict between people. Someone's beliefs define their identity, who they think they are. For many what a person believes about God defines their most essential core identity. Too often these beliefs are fundamentally dogmatic creating the most rigid sense of us and them. This duality has led and continues to lead to prolific pain and suffering. Therefore talking about God can evoke rigid beliefs deeply held. Replacing the word/concept God with the word/concept Love can bypass this rigidity. Love is something anyone can take to heart.

D. R. Butler said...

I agree with you, Rico. If I were in charge of the world and the world's religions, I'd certainly vote for using Love instead of God.

Still, the love word is also greatly misunderstood, as we saw even in the dictionary. When you use the love word, people mostly think you are talking about obsessive- neurotic melodramas that have nothing whatsoever to do with actual unconditional love, which is the only kind of love that is real. If it's conditional, if it's "I'll love you if you do what I want," then, as my teacher used to say, that's not love, that's business.

I agree the God word is also much misunderstood, especially when it comes to fundamentalists, or those who have their own weird ways of interpreting scriptures. Obviously most so-called Christians totally misunderstand the Christ or what he stood for, or they could not be so exclusive and unloving, so completely lacking in compassion when it comes to "defending" their beliefs. And the Islamic fundamentalists, well, we won't even go there. Enough to say, if you've seen one fundamentalist, you've seen them all.

That's why I don't believe in anything. When someone asks me what I believe in, I tell them, "Nothing--I don't believe in anything." And it's true. Rigidly-held beliefs cause all the trouble in the world. They are the true "sin," the true "Satan." Our own erroneous beliefs cause us to live in our own hell, and often we can't wait to share that hell with whomever will join us.

To me the only English term that truly works is "Infinite Omnipresence," and Infinite Omnipresence could only be described as being omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent--existing everywhere, on all levels of being, at all times.

Anyway, in my own mind, that's how I work out the God/Love thing.

jimi said...

DR says, "That's why I don't believe in anything. When someone asks me what I believe in, I tell them, "Nothing--I don't believe in anything." And it's true. Rigidly-held beliefs cause all the trouble in the world."

Eckhart Tolle says that beliefs are nothing but another limitation.

But I don't believe them!

jimi said...

DR says, " If someone can't see spirituality in sports, well, you wouldn't understand anyway."

What, are you completely NUTS? Just kidding. Actually lots of the most successful athletes have incorporated many of the principles about living in the present moment. That's what separates them from all the others who have the physical ability but not the "intangibles" that make one great. The truth of the present moment allows them to least in competition. I'm not sure it always carries over into the rest of their life.

D. R. Butler said...

The second comment from Jimi reminds me of the WR from Florida who caught the pass for the winning touchdown on the last play of the game, and afterwards said, "When I caught the pass for the winning touchdown, I was so happy that my mind stopped."

Catching the winning pass gave him an intense experience of the present moment, so much so that he went into the space between thoughts. That's when true happiness and a deep inner contentment arises.

The trick, of course, is to sustain it in daily life, which is why we're doing what we're doing in the blog and the course.

sara said...

I have a question about lesson 2 and trying to readjust our future karma. Say someone tries to drag me into an argument and in working on not reacting, I just watch the drama unfold. However, inside every trigger has been pulled and my ego is totally reacting(resentment, anger, etc). So on the outside I appear calm and observing, but sometimes what's going on inside is explosive. I understand that by not reacting and being dragged into someone else's drama I can change my karma with them, but if the ego is still reacting inwardly against my best wishes, what happens then? How do I work with this?

ari said...

Hi DR and everyone else. It's been great reading everyone's contribution in these blogs. Sure beats what is being written on some sites on the internet these days!!! Glad I can focus my good energy and continue to have great experiences with the very same practises others are now bashing.

I liked the comments on sports. I have been an avid fan and particpant all my life. I can tell you that the times I had achieved my highest success in sports I went into some sort of "zone" that was beyond any conscious effort to perform. And the beauty of sports is when your enjoying them they are a form of meditation in itself.

I do have a question pertaining to our bodies and experiences with pain. With these lessons I have started to incorporate how I think with perhaps how I end up feeling with some old injuries I have. I experience some degree of pain in one part of my back and have for years. I am starting to change the way I view this part of my body. Before it was always "I have a bad back, this part of my back is stiff and hurts". Now I am visualizing my back feeling normal and speaking well of my back. Do you think I'm on the right track with that or should I focus or also just practise witness consciousness? Thanks DR.

D. R. Butler said...

Sara, that is a great question. There are just too many people out there who seem to want to drag us into fights and conflicts as soon as they can manage to do so. Egos thrive on doing this. This is particularly difficult to deal with when the person trying to draw us into conflict is our husband or wife or partner or friend or associate.

Most of us were raised by parents who fought through their whole relationship, and many were emotionally abused by parents who, in the name of doing what they thought was best for us, emotionally intimidated us with their anger, frustration, irritation, and downright oppression.

I know I learned at a very early age to keep quiet and out of the way as much as possible. As a child I lived in my own world. I tried to remain aloof and unaffected by my parents' fights, and that aloofness remained with me for many years.

Over time I trained myself not to care about things, especially regarding any hurt feelings or emotional pain I might have. As an adult, I had to deal with chronic depression for many years. I was also deeply reserved and inhibited. At parties, as a young man, I stayed in a corner and watched, with very little active participation with others.

Fortunately I found a teacher who worked with me on all these things, and brought me out of myself and finally into the freedom of spontaneous expression.

Anyway, you are doing very well if you can deal with the triggers of anger and resentment without exploding and being drawn into the argument or fight. People want us to bicker with them, they keep digging at us, doing their best to provoke us. This is a primary feature of the ego, and in most people today the ego has absolute freedom to control us. The only way to avoid this is to stay away from people. Of course, this is neither practical nor good for our spiritual work, as it is through coming into harmony with others that we grow.

You can become free from being affected by other people in this way, but it requires a great deal of discipline that is usually developed over a period of time.

As I write, I realize the true answer to your question can only be answered in the lessons of the course, where we can progress from one level of understanding to the next, more expanded level of understanding.

We have to learn to remain centered in our own inner Self, in the column of light that corresponds to the spine of the physical body. In this column of light there is power and the strength to not be affected by the outer world, including the words and actions of others.

Or there is the formless light. Being formless, it must logically be all-pervasive. It can't be formless and only take up a little bit of space, otherwise it would have form. When we learn to center in the formless white light, or golden light within our own being, then we are never dragged into the conflicts and negativities of others. They bounce off us like drops of water in the shower.

As you progress through the lessons, you will understand more and more what I am speaking of. It will become more clear as you go from one lesson to the next, and you will grow stronger in your practical application of the principle.

For now, thanks for your great question. I am sure it is something that many people can relate to.

D. R. Butler said...

Ari, you already know how I feel about the "bashers" on the Internet. Don't even get me started. I know that everything is an expression of the one God, or the Infinite Omnipresence, but Internet sites bashing the spiritual work that others do are worse than mosquitoes, ticks, and skunks in the grand scheme of thing--just to mention a few of the things I can't grasp why the Infinite decided to manifest as.

I can only believe that their resistance aids the growth of those who move forward toward the light. Since this current age, Kali Yuga, is the darkest and most spiritually ignorant time to live in, yet the very best time to do spritual work for accelerated advancement, I figure all the bashing sites are simply an aspect of Kali Yuga.

Seems like everyone would just pitch in and help everyone else, instead of having to make a point of being against something, but that's just me.

Regarding the pain, that's a hard one. I'm sure you've heard the story of the woman whose child died and she went to the Buddha and asked him to bring the child back to life. The Buddha told her to go around to all the homes and find a family that had never known death, and he would then be able to help her. After a while the woman came back with renewed understanding, for she could find no homes that had not known death.

It's kind of the same thing with pain. Everyone experiences pain. Dealing with pain would take a whole lesson in itself, if not a whole section of the course. I agree that you are doing the best thing by "seeing" and "feeling" that your body already exists in radiant health. Focusing on what you actually want is turning on the light; focusing on the pain, or on what you don't want, is like trying to push the darkness out of the room.

I feel that pain is a certain aspect of the physical world. Even saints and sages and great beings of all traditions experience pain. It is not really possible to live in a human body and not experience pain. It just goes with life in this world. It's like pain is one of the elements required to make up the physical world--or at least the polarity of pain and pleasure. Probably if we were above experiencing pleasure we would also be able to transcend pain, but that is a discussion far beyond the scope of the blog.

Have a nice day, Ari.

rico said...

I'd like to take a crack at Ari's question about back pain since I have been all too familiar with the condition for over 30 years.

Since I first injured my back in a fall back pain has been a more or less constant companion. I have tried just about every treatment available short of surgery. I've tried visualizing a healthy pain free back. All of these methods have offered some varying degree of relief but it never goes away entirely and often when I am physically active the discomfort can be intense.

After all this time I have finally come to realize that trying to avoid this discomfort or make it go away does no good. I have come to accept it and if not quite make friends with it at least I don't have an active aversion to it anymore. I do all I can to take care of my back doing Hatha Yoga and Tai Chi stretching before any physical activity.

To paraphrase the Buddha, pain is a part of life. Once I stopped trying to avoid it the impact pain had on my experience was greatly diminished.

John said...

How can you tell true spiritual progress from acquired behavior that come with experience but will probably leave us when we leave the body. For example, as I grow older, I am less shy and more able to think for myself. Well this is nice but it seems it happens to a lot of human beings as well, like grumpy old people exhibit. So how do we tell true progress from conditionning, even when the conditionning is indeed beneficial.

sara said...

Thank you for your response, D.R., I will keep on keeping on so I can eventually find the place where there is calmness inwardly as well as outwardly.
As far as sports goes, I'm a baseball fan, but I always see duality in sports. After all there are two sides playing against each other. Each team has different sides (fans) cheering them on. One team must win and one must loose. I have often said to my husband, that it is a shame that the players do not work as intensely as a group to find God the same way they chase a mere piece of gold-a Championship ring. Can you imagine watching a competive game where the players are competing with intensity to see who will attain God first?

D. R. Butler said...

John, if I understand your question, I do not think it makes much difference.

People do grow freer and wiser as they grow older, even if they live a totally ordinary life absored in the objective world around them. They grow freer in expression and become more cranky simply because they've seen that it really doesn't matter what anyone thinks of them. After a while you see that others' opinions of you affect absolutely nothing.
Especially as you get older, you know there's no future in trying to impress anyone anymore. The whole idea of being impressive to others becomes totally unappealing and irrelevant.

With true spiritual progress, we identify more with the inner Being and inner light and love, moreso than with the body or personality. We begin to see that the body and personality are temporary manifestations of the Self that will be completely irrelevant in a hundred years.

However, the inner Self, the inner Awareness of Being, becomes obviously more and more who we truly are, and will be exactly the same in a hundred, a thousand, or a million years from now. We know better and better that aspect of us that never changes, but remains eternally the same.

This leads to a peace and contentment that are rare among younger people who are still working out who they are on the levels of personality and mind, as well as learning harmonious ways to deal with others in their karmic sphere. There is a restlessness of energy during our younger years, as well as a looking for something or someone to complete us.

Through spiritual growth, we learn to be supremely free and independent, depending on nothing outside ourselves for our joy or love, and knowing that all we ever searched for lay within us all along.

So some things do improve and grow with age, simply through the process of dealing with life and karmic challenges, but with spiritual understanding and inner growth on top of that, life becomes infinitely richer and more satisfying.

I hope I have touched somewhat on what you were asking. Thanks for your question.

joanelyia said...

I was struck by the phrase " is a very limited connection and probably will not be very fulfilling." It's funny how "in context" the lessons are - in this case, the connectivity brought to mind my new computer modem/router. Having just recently moved, I set up new service for my phone and internet. Alack and alas, I have had to deal with the modem/router and my laptop not giving one another a proper handshake. Which meant that I had to turn the modem/router off and on every time I wanted to re-establish a connection. When I thought about the material covered in the current blog, I had to laugh at myself. I was definitely NOT being open to harmony. Instead of being grateful that I had an internet connection, I was being persnickety because I had to turn my modem/router on and off! I was taking it personally, and the blog helped me realize that. Thanks DRB!

D. R. Butler said...

Sometimes my computer and I go 'round and 'round too. I am not a technical minded person, and so I have my technological challenges now and then.

Then, as you say, gratitude counts for everything. When I remember the days of typing out the lessons on typewriter, taking them to the printer, folding, collating, stuffing envelops, licking stamps, typing out address lables, (yes, in the beginning, I did all these things) taking them to the PO to be mailed out--well, I'm only too happy to go through whatever is necessary to enjoy the convenience of an online course.

Hope all of you are enjoying it as well.

D. R. Butler said...

I was looking back through recent comments, and noticed that my comments regarding fundamentalists might be misunderstood by some. I certainly have nothing against Christianity, or any of the other great religions of the world. Like I said earlier, in my world everyone is accepted equally, there is no one excluded, no one left out.

Anyway, perhaps to balance out what I said above regarding Christian fundamentalists, which in my mind is not any particular religious group, but people who interpret a scripture (in this case the Bible) a little too literally, especially considered the innumerable translations over the years, including the last one by King James himself, who was not exactly an enlightened being.

Anyway, to share something positive, this is one of my favorite collections of Biblical quotes. It’s called “An Intimate Message from God to You.”

Barry Adams in 1996 heard a still small voice say: "If you put the Scriptures in the right order, they will form a love letter."

You may not know me, but I know everything about you.
(Psalms 139:1)

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
(Matthew 10:30)

for you were made in my image.
(Genesis 1:27)

In me, you live and move and have your being.
(Acts 17:28)

I knew you even before you were conceived.
(Jeremiah1:4 5)

I chose you when I planned creation.
(Ephesians 1:11 12)

You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book.
(Psalm 139:15 16)

I knit you together in your mother’s womb.
(Psalm 139:13)

and brought you forth on the day you were born.
(Psalm 71:6)

I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me.
(John 8:41 44)

I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love.
(1John 4:16)

It is my desire to lavish my love on you simply because
you are my child and I am your father.
(1 John 3:1)

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
(Matthew 7:11)

for I am the perfect Father.
(Matthew 5:48)

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
(James 1:17)

for I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
(Matthew 6:31 33)

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11)

because I love you with an everlasting love.
(Jeremiah 31:3)

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore.
(Psalms 139:17 18)

and I rejoice over you with singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17)

I will never stop doing good to you.
(Jeremiah 32:40)

for you are my treasure.
(Exodus 19:5)

I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul.
(Jeremiah 32:41)

and I want to show you great and marvelous things.
(Jeremiah 33:3)

If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me.
(Deuteronomy 4:29)

Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:4)

for it is I who gave you those desires.
(Philippians 2:13)

I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine.
(Ephesians 3:20)

for I am your greatest encourager.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16 17)

I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles.
(2 Corinthians 1:3 4)

When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you.
(Psalm 34:18)

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I carry you close to my heart.
(Isaiah 40:11)

The above is a solid foundation of understanding. And this is the rock the Christ spoke of when he said:

. . . whoever hears these sayings of mine, and follows them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. (Matthew, Chapter 7).

chris said...

Thanks for that Biblical montage from Barry Adams. I know I could spend the rest of my days contemplating it, but it's late and I realize I've not read my lesson yet this evening. So much to read, so much to learn. How fortunate I am to be so overwhelmed in truth, like I'm drowning in grace.

Here in the States, it's Thanksgiving time, so Happy Thanksgiving all!