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.