Thursday, January 15, 2009

Being Accountable In Each Present Moment

In Lesson One of the Course of Training through email I share a dream I had before I began writing the new course. In my dream I was among a group of people who were actually doing the work of the present moment, not letting themselves get away with mechanical reactivity, any form of negativity, or even the slightest hint of disrespect or hostility.

These people in my dream were entirely accountable to themselves, for their thoughts and feelings, for how they spoke or related to any other person in each passing moment. If they went off-track for even a moment, they immediately came back into the awareness of the Truth. If they could not see it clearly themselves, they were quickly reminded by one of the others, and they were always open to the reminder, never becoming defensive or compulsively needing to explain their position.

Many believe in the Truth of the present moment, read all about it from many different sources, and even speak about it to others as though it is something they hold true—yet they do not hold themselves accountable for their actions or how they speak or relate to others from time to time. If they react negatively or defensively, or get lost in explaining themselves, or find themselves becoming hostile to anyone for any reason, they tend to justify it for whatever good reason they can come up with this time—and there are no end of seemingly excellent reasons to justify our negativity.

Few of us are willing to be responsible for how we live from moment to moment. Instead, we largely tend to be slaves to past tendencies, sometimes acting like a child, and other times like a young teen, mechanically working out whatever leftover stuff remains in the system from those years. We go through the day getting stuck in psychic spaces from the past, not even really conscious of how we are actually being or expressing to others in the present moment. Few people, even those with a keen understanding of spiritual principles, realize how stuck they are in past tendencies.

In our Course of Training, we emphasize being focused in the present moment, because no matter what we believe in or agree with, or what platitudes we speak to others as though we have true understanding, the only thing that actually counts is how we are right here and now.

Many people conveniently skip over the present moment in their mad rush from the past to the future, yet the Truth of Being exists only here and now, in this present moment.

Before anything can be accomplished, there must first be a conscious intention for it to happen. In order to experience the incredible joy and satisfaction that arise from the expansion of our inner state, we must generate a conscious intent to do the necessary work. This whole process is explored in detail in the lessons of the course.

For some, it might seem strange that we need to “work” at spiritual growth. We might have simply assumed that all we need for spiritual growth is to believe the “right” things, as we were indoctrinated, and to be “good” by following those beliefs. In fact, we even feel guilty when we're not “good,” according to whatever standards and ideals we inherited from family and society.

The Course of Training through email is for those who are open to the possibility that true spiritual growth is possible if we are willing to work toward it in this present moment, and to not put it off until “later”—which usually translates as “never.”

The course 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 (work toward inner growth) 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 practicing spiritual principles for 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.

A friend of many years has written to ask what he can do to become a kinder person, and he asked if it was possible to answer his question in the blog.

I am happy that he aspires to be a kinder person. I wish more people were interested in adding kindness to their lifetime achievements. We do not tend to automatically be kind, as true kindness requires some consciousness and presence in the present moment.

We can automatically be “nice” or “polite”—but that is mostly superficial social conditioning like most other stuff we do without being conscious of how we are being. It is an artificial and false face we put on to appear okay to others. That is not what we mean by being kind.

Unfortunately, many of us are habitually unkind. We get rigidly caught in a hostile, contrary, competitive personality, habitually criticizing others, engaging in fault-finding, and generally making others wrong about whatever they do or say. Many of us are outwardly unfriendly, even though we have no desire to be so, and might even be surprised to learn that others see and experience us as difficult or uncomfortable to be with.

True kindness is seeing the highest and the best in others, and relating to the highest and the very best in them at all times.

If we sincerely wish to be a kinder person, then we must consciously and deliberately see other people in a higher, more refined way. If we habitually look to see what others are doing wrong—which is how many of us have been conditioned to be—there is no way we can be kind to them. We are being unkind simply by seeing them as less than or worse than they actually are.

The kindest act is to see the highest in another person. See him as divine, perfect, and pure in all his ways. Sure, each person in this world has quite human quirks and foibles, yet we can simply note them and be amused that God has taken such a clever disguise.

The mistake many of us make is that we wait for the other to be kind first. I’ll be kind to him if he’s kind to me. This approach will get us nowhere. We will never change for the better with such a limited attitude. We cannot leave anything up to the other person.

If we hope for love, we must be more loving. If we hope for affection, we must be more affectionate. If we hope for respect, we must first be more respectful. If we hope for kindness, we must first be kind to others.

See the highest in others; see them as pure, perfect, and beautiful. Each individual is a microcosm of the entire cosmos. Each person is equally a creation of the supreme Divinity; each individual is a living expression of the Infinite Omnipresence. If we can simply see another as he or she actually is, we are already infinitely kinder.

We are kindest when we see divinity radiating from whomever we are with—regardless of what they are conscious of in their own mind. See the highest in all others, even when they are unable to see the highest in themselves. When we do this, we have attained the pinnacle of kindness.


rico said...

There is a passage in the new lesson that got me wondering.

You mention that living in one's own world is fine unless we act adharmicly. Then you go on to say that when we do this it is usually an unconscious action that will create future unpleasant karma.

It is my understanding that new karma is not created if one is not identified with being the doer. If one acts unconsciously is it possible to be identified with the doer?

D. R. Butler said...

Rico, you certainly keep things interesting.

Acting unconsciously, or according to subconscious tendencies, does indeed create future karma.

If you unconsciously steal someone's car, for example, you karmic consequences might be to spend some time in jail.

You might say that that acting unconsciously has karmic consequences of its own. It is better to be conscious, or present in this moment, and then we are intuitively led to act in ways that lead to pleasant karma.

Of course, ultimately, it is best to be free from karma altogether, and to watch this life as a witness, or as an observer at a movie or a play. Then we are free from whatever karmic conditions and experiences that must play out from our past actions, and we maintain our own bliss no matter what presents itself in the external world.

Then we live in a state of equanimity, and we have the solidity of Being to remain undisturbed by external influences, or by the words and actions of others, or by the circumstances of our own personal life.

This is what we mean by being free from karma.

Gwen said...

Your blog was suggested to me by a friend, and I am honestly surprised by what I find there. The information you present is very powerful, and I have studied spiritual principles, as you call them, for many years, and checked out many teachers and paths.

Something about your writings is extraordinarily clear, and seems to come from a very high place, even though I am sure you save the "good stuff" for the lessons of your course, which I will be signing up for. Thank you for offering so much for free in your blog, and I now look forward to experiencing what is yet to come in your course.

D. R. Butler said...

Thank you for your comments, Gwen. I don't know that I save the "good stuff" for the course, but in the course it is possible to become established in a certain state in one lesson, and then build from that in the next lesson, where we progress from one step to the next, building a solid foundation of understanding. In this way, we are open to experiencing something even greater in the next lesson. In this way our growth and expansion on the path becomes more obvious and more certain. The course allows us to progress from one state of being to a higher, more expanded and refined state of being. This process will become obvious as you progress from one lesson to the next.

Happy to have you on board.

Lisa said...

I recently completed reading "The Secret," and not long after a friend told me about your blog and course. I am wondering if your course teaches the same ideas that are written about in "The Secret?"

D. R. Butler said...

Lisa, "The Secret" serves as a nice introduction to the basic principles, and is primarily for beginners on the path who are discovering these truths for the first time. The Course of Training available through email explores on a deeper and much broader scale the principles on which "The Secret" is based.

I appreciate "The Secret"--both the book and the movie--and it serves a great purpose in activating and awakening an interest in learning about the principles necessary for success and happiness. Yet there is much more to understand for greater spiritual growth and personal development.

The Course is an approach to each moment of life, and we begin by exploring the principles that must first be understood before much greater principles can be comprehended and instilled. This is a process that happens from step to step over time, and cannot be gotten from a book in a way that is permanent and lasting and truly transformative.

If we only read a book, we will be momentarily excited and enthused by the ideas, yet that excitement and enthusiasm will tend to wane as past tendencies of thinking and feeling take over again. In order to overcome the conditioning of the past, a program of development is required, as well as the work necessary to break free from past tendencies and habitual patterns of behavior and reactivity.

The Course of Training through email offers this opportunity to grow from wherever we are right now to a greater state in the very near future, which will be "now" whenever it is experienced as our present Truth. Of course, the Truth of the present moment is true right now. All that is lacking is our recognition or realization of the Truth that is eternally unchanging. This is the Truth of our own eternal Being.

Knowing this Truth, living joyfully in the present moment, we live in perfect freedom in this world and while in this very body.

This is why our course is "Living in the Truth of the Present Moment."

Michael said...

I find it most encouraging when you indicate in the Lessons that our Awareness is continuously unfolding, blossoming without interruption in much the same way as the petals of a flower open, spreading more and more color and fragrance.

It is nice to be reminded that no thing can inhibit or reverse this evolutionary process, even if I get distracted from time to time. I find that if I no longer entertain the thought, "Oh no, I must be backsliding," I see clearly that I am always moving forward, and that my consciousness is more expanded than it was even a moment ago...what a wonder!

Then you indicate that this process of unfoldment continues

Mackie said...

I received Lesson 4 on the 15th, and I am beginning to see how much this course is unlike anything I have encountered before. I've seen many teachers and read many books over the years, but nothing ever quite hit home like what is offered here. You have a special gift for communicating the highest truths in the very simplest terminology. Thank you for making this possible. And of course I thank myself for being willing to sign up for the course. I wanted you to prove to me that it would be worth my while, and you have unmistakably done so.

Nancy said...

I totally relate to Gwen's and Mackie's comments above. I also loved your answer to Lisa's question, as I also know a lot of people who've read "The Secret" and think it contains everything they need. If they only knew. Sometimes I feel frustrated that more people don't know about your course. The principles you present so clearly are amazing and would change anyone's life. It's a shame that more people don't realize that there is such transformative information and energies available in this world. When I read the lessons I can't help but think how great it would be if more people in this world were reading them along with me and the others who appreciate the course as I do.

ari said...

The past couple of years I have noticed I have become much more sensitive to the plight of people. During these times I get a sense of sadness for those who are experiencing difficult times. Having a couple of small children has also filled me with both joy and fear.
My question is: is my heart opening as I continue to expand on this spiritual journey or am I going through a samskara where I am not having proper understanding of people. Meaning I see them more for their outer circumstance and not understand that this is merely their karma they are burning and none of it is ultimatly real.

D. R. Butler said...

Nancy, I know how it feels to want to share something good with others. It takes compassion to allow others to be where they are at, instead of wanting them to be somewhere else; to allow others to simply know what they know, instead of wanting them to know something greater.

During this cycle in time, only a few will have a heartfelt longing to know the Truth, and of those only a few will generate enough will to actually do the work necessary to break free from ego and samskaras, as we discuss in the course.

No matter how we dress it up, no matter how wonderful we make it sound, only a few with be drawn to a spiritual lifestyle. Of those only a few will actually practice the principles in their own personal life.

When you look at it, most people with spiritual understanding let themselves get away with stuff all the time, because they are unable or unwilling to generate enough will power to actually do what it takes to break free from all ignorance and limitation.

Instead of being frustrated that they are complacent with being where they are, we have to be compassionate enough to allow them to freely be where they are presently comfortable, knowing that at the right time, in some lifetime or another, they will begin to feel that inner spark that propels us even now to something much greater than what we have previously known.

Ari, you also need compassion to fully answer the question you present. One of the primary elements of compassion is an understanding of the poignancy of human life. It is very poignant what people go through, and yet it is all part of living in the physical world, and going through the karma that this world presents.

Yes, with children there is joy and fear. We don't want anything to ever happen to them, and we don't want them to ever suffer in any way. We want them to be joyful and content during every moment for the rest of their lives.

However, this isn't the way physical life works. Everyone has karma, everyone has something to go through. I knew a guy who grew up in an extremely wealthy family, and in his mid-twenties he still lived in his own private compartment within his parents' home, and he could live however he wanted for the rest of his life and all his needs would always be taken care of. Was he happy? No, he had his own problems, his own complaints about the ways things were in his life.

We all have something to go through. We can't avoid it, and our children can't avoid it either. Yet through meeting these challenges we grow stronger and wiser, and our growth would be impossible without them.

Through the media these days we hear of people having absolutely atrocious lives--by all outer appearances. However, believe me when I say that our inner experience is not that much different from either other, no matter what the outer karmic circumstances might be.

We are either lost in our mind, our mental descriptions, and our egotistical melodramas, or we are conscious and present and aware of the pulsation of life and love in this very moment. There is basically no other choice for all people. We are either in the mind, or we are consciously present and mindful in the existing moment.

When we understand that this is the only true difference among all people, then we are ready to actually do the work of the present moment, so as to enjoy absolute freedom. Only then do we discover and experience the fullness of this human life.

D. R. Butler said...

One of our dear ones who takes the course by email has written to say that I am being hard on those who take the lessons.

Well, either I can be hard on you now or someone else can be hard on you in the next life.

Either we live in the Truth of the Present Moment, or we are lost in thought-dreams, thinking they have some solid reality of their own.

Come back to the moment, come back to the heart, come back to your love.

There's nothing hard about that.

chris said...

Maybe whoever wrote that you are too hard on us never sat through a Baptist sermon. I figure you are only as hard on me as I perceive or allow you to be. Since being hard is really a description created by the mind, and being captivated by descriptions robs me of the joy of the present moment, if anything is hard it's really me being hard on myself.

D. R. Butler said...

I love the way you put things, Chris.

Melissa said...

Once in the early 90's I had this really vivid dream of you. We were on a mountain top and we were cross country sking and I was right behind you and we were sking along a ridge, and when we looked down it was hundreds of dizzy feet down, and we looked out over this vast white landscape and valley. You turned to me with blazing fiery eyes and said, "Time to Jump. You only have one chance."

I woke up in a cold sweat, but I never forgot that dream. I knew then, there was something different about you.

So when you started this new course and talked about your "dream"...that was all you had to say to me...I was there.

Once I took a neighbor to see a yoga teacher from India. It happened to be on a night that the teacher gave a really fiery talk and she yelled at everyone and asked them, "When are you going to wake up?"

I LOVED it! I have to admit that I really love it when it gets fiery. In fact, I was actually going to write to you after getting the last lesson to tell you that I loved the fire of the lesson.

Anyway, afterwards my neighbor took me outside and yelled and screamed at me that how dare I take her to such a place where it awakens all these terrible feelings in her. She told me, "Listen I have enough trouble and problems of my own in life, I don't need this too." She asked me over and over on the ride home, "How could you sit there? How could you just sit in that intense energy?"

That is when I got it that not everyone is ready for the spiritual path.

I would sometimes feel really sorry for myself when the teacher at an ashram I stayed at was hard on me or said certain things to me or gave me certain looks. Even then, though, I loved it.

Anyway, I no longer try to "turn on" other people to a more spiritual lifestyle, or a lifestyle of being more aware of the truth, or whatever. Not everyone is ready for the truth. Not everyone wants to hear the truth. The truth is a sort of personal experience.

So, I have admired your strength of resolve and even if you are hard on some people, so what?

So sorry if some of my comments seem weird to you or not worthy of your course so that you don't publish them.

So yes, you can be hard on people, but I know you have your reasons for it. I can imagine that after 30 whatever years of this, you get sick of all the BS you probably take from people who read your lessons.

Meanwhile, maybe have a letter that is like a form letter so when someone writes to you and you don't think it is worthy of posting on the website or you just don't want to be bothered with the ego trip reacting to whatever samskara your lesson has revealed..... that says: Thanks for the letter and blah blah blah....keep taking the course you are doing great ....

Just a suggestion because everyone is at their own level of acceptance with this moment of truth stuff. Its like that Game much of yourself can you reveal before imploding, freaking out, or making everyone hate you?

Anyway, whatever happens, know I am a sincere seeker and can sometimes see what you must go through. Be fiery and blast that juice I know you got and everyone will be a-ok (eventually).

Sometimes people get confused. They think a teacher is someone who nurtures them in a certain way. It is fantasy. The best teachers are sometimes adversaries, apparent enemies, and critical people.

If you feel people are being critical of you, then try not to be critical of others and its will even out.

Anyway, love the course and love the blog. I am here even if you don't always get a letter.

D. R. Butler said...

Melissa, you are hilarious. If you had stood up and shared that at any of the workshops I led from the 70s until 2000, there would have been lots of laughter. You have a great perspective of things.

You can tell you have done sadhana for a long time, as you are very real and unpretentious. You also don't mind how other people see you. I like that.

Many people have told me in the past that they have had dreams of me teaching them how to fly. Perhaps when I told you to "jump," I intended for us to go a long, long way. After all, you never mentioned coming down.

I'm also happy to hear that you enjoy the fire. This shows that you have the capacity for endurance and tolerance, which are absolutely essential for progress on the spiritual path.

Keep on writing those comments and never be attached to whether they get published or not. Your outlook keeps us entertained--which is a good thing.

Rico said...

Really enjoyed the latest comments. They brought a smile to my face. I can't say that I've ever thought of you as fiery.

You're one of if not the coolest character I know. I guess it's just a matter of perspective.

Marta said...

You talk about the creative power of thought and I first experienced what that means when I took your previous course and workshops. Right now, I am very interested in this subject, and I keep studying about it and consciously practicing it in my life. I think it is essential for happiness. I agree that if we have to think, and if the creative power of thought is constantly operating in one´s life, why not think in the highest way possible, why not think of those things that we want to experience in life?

On the other hand, there seems to be a contradiction, or at least I did not come to understand yet, why the yogic scriptures constantly talk about being free from desire. When you consciously choose what to think, which translates in choosing what you want to experience, is that desire? Can you choose to think of those experiences that you want to bring into your experience, while at the same time being free from desire? What does it mean exactly "to be free from desire"?

D. R. Butler said...

Marta, I think a simple flick of the switch will bring about a whole new understanding for you.

In the course we explore various ways of considering the various levels of being. Here is one that I think will upgrade your understanding, based on your question.

This particular method requires considering the 7 levels of individual life. 1) The physical body that we all know and love.
2) The emotions that wildly fluctuation from moment to moment.
3) The mind, and all it continuous thoughts and never-ending activity.
4) The will--once we activate will in the present moment, we can determine what we will think next, which influences how we will feel, which in turn greatly influences our experience of physical life.

The average person today operates on the first three levels--body, emotions, and mind. Ego, of course, identifies with the body as its primary identity, identifies with all emotions and thinks that they are what "it" is "feeling," and identifies with the mind and considers itself to be the thinker.

When a person begins conscious work on himself for personal development, he gradually begins to tap into the 4th level of will, and by activating will in the present moment, one can determine what to think next. Consciously choosing a thought based on what is best for all concerned, in turn, greatly influences the emotional level, and what we will tend to feel. The emotional level, in turn, determines our physical experience. The more positive our emotions are, the stronger and healthier is our physical constitution.

Now, based on this particular chart, what comes above will? What would #5 be?

The answer: intuition. We are intuitively guided in how to best use will so as to determine thought so as to influence our emotional and physical experience.

In Lesson 2 of the course we are first presented with the gentle reminder: Come back to the moment, come back to the heart, come back to your love.

Once we truly do this, we go into the space of no-mind, the space between any two thoughts. Once we are in that clear space, we are open to receiving intuitive guidance from the 5th level of Being. From here it is intuitively obvious how to apply will, which among other things, allows us to choose which direction we wish to move in before activating mind.

All the above is explored in greater detail in the course, although it is by no means a major emphasis of the course. In the first 10 lessons, it hasn't been mentioned yet.

Marta, all this is to help you see how to go where you wish while bypassing desire. Intuitive insights guide your way--you know this is true, otherwise you wouldn't be living the way you are. The thing is, if we don't understand this, we will misunderstand intutive guidance and assume that it is only "desire."

Once you can live in the heart to the degree that you can, you don't have to be concerned with "desire" very much. I doubt very seriously that you have a big problem with desire. You can relax in the conviction that you live from intuitive guidance, and know that this guides your destiny.

The "desire" the scriptures speak of is relevant to those who live confined to the first 3 levels--body, emotions, and mind--and who have not yet developed the capacity to activate will or to be open to intuitive guidance. Such people mostly live out of control, thinking and feeling whatever comes up from conditioned patterns, and doing whatever they compulsively feel to do. People who make no efforts to control mind, emotion, or body live as slaves to desire. It is through making efforts to overcome desire that we first begin to tap into will.

I pray this gives you the understanding you need to break through to the next level of being. Continue to follow your heart and you will be in good hands.

Steve said...

Thanks once again for a very powerful lesson. I'm beginning to experience a
similar deja vu with each new lesson: "Holy cow, two weeks is not going to
be nearly long enough!!" Lesson 6 has been particularly intense, and I had an impulse to complain somewhat, but reading the blog I can see that
perhaps it might be in bad form to do so, since it seems that I'm in store
for more intensity on the way in future lessons.

I must say however, that the mind doesn't seem to like being monitored, or
perhaps it's the ego that seems to be putting up a fight. It can be a bit
intimidating watching the magnitude of ridiculous thoughts and feelings
that go on each day. I'm sure they've been there all along causing trouble,
it's just that I haven't been paying attention. Once I do so, the mind and
ego seem to be showing off, as though they will show me just how powerful
they are.

Amusingly enough, I inadvertently glimpsed a few minutes of a movie on TV, "Numb", wherein the main character's psychiatrist gives him a little clicker to record the frequency of his negative thoughts, and we see him sitting on a chair, watching his thoughts, clicking away like mad.

Anyway, thanks for the challenge, especially the conundrum of letting the
mind be, yet not allowing it access to it's habitual tendencies. If only.

With great love.

Anonymous said...

In Lesson 10 DR says, "Certain things might seem very important or even urgent to us, yet for others they are completely irrelevant & unworthy of attention." And so the person who wrote in to say that DR was being too hard on us obviously felt that was something important to bring up. And yet at the same time that thought has NEVER occurred to me in the 20 some years I've known him. Mostly I think of him as really laid back. I can still remember in many a workshop when someone would ask him a question, I was often afraid he was going to fall asleep before answering it! He never did of course. Instead he'd very gently begin a profound, often humorous answer to the question. Obviously he wasn't sleepin'; he was meditatin', by golly!

Steve said...

I have a quick question that came up while reading lesson 6. While discussing the fact that the mind is always going to be doing it's thing, you say "We can pay attention to it or not. It can, if we take our attention off it, go on in the background like a radio in the distance."

I've been trying to get a handle on even identifying the space between two thoughts. Even as I watch, the space will often seem to fill with thoughts. But reading the above statement I realized that there seem to be different weights to the thoughts, as in loud thoughts from consciously thinking something, and softer thoughts that still seem to go on, as a radio in the distance, when I'm making an effort to watch the space between thoughts.

This is difficult to articulate for me, but what I'm trying to ask is if this sounds like watching thoughts, instead of being caught up in them at the time. If so, I could certainly use a dharana or two to help with this. Thanks in advance if you can offer a perspective on this.

D. R. Butler said...

You're on the right track, Steve. You're just still thinking too much.

I love the direction you're going in, and it sounds like you're truly contemplating what the space between any two thoughts might be. If you grasp the "radio in the distance" analogy, then you've understood a great approach to the mind--which is refusing to give it your primary attention. Very few people in this world can turn the "radio" off entirely.

I know you have been on the spiritual path for a long time, yet it is also good to remind yourself that you are only on Lesson 6 of the new course. Something happens when we refer to the current lesson over and over so that we actually start thinking differently and approaching the activity of the mind differently.

The lessons of the Course of Training are not only useful because of their content, but because the very act of reading them changes the way our brain operates, sending the neurons in different directions that their usual grooves and patterns. The current lesson itself is the "dharana"--the focus of attention that will enable you to break free from all past mental ruts.

Honestly, your question shows that you are going in the right direction. Have confidence in the course itself to take you the rest of the way--which is, ultimately, right here right now. When you finally rest in your eternal Being, you'll discover to your delight that it is where you started off from in the first place.