On this date, 2009 arrives. I am happy to be able to share the beginning of a brand New Year with you. May this be your happiest New Year's Day, and your best year ever.
In September, 2008, we launched the new Course of Training by email. Participants who began then will receive Lessons 9 & 10 in January, and those who began since then will receive their corresponding lessons as well. It has been an auspicious new beginning for many of us, and I appreciate each one of you who have shared it with us.
Anyone interested in information about the new course can write to the email address at the end of this entry. You can also receive the first month of the course (first two lessons and newsletter) free of charge simply by requesting it for yourself.
Also, beginning now the Course of Training is available in Spanish. Our good friend Marta, who lives in Spain, has worked with us for many years, and I trust her implicitly to translate even the subtlest meanings of my words into Spanish.
Ahora el Curso ya está disponible en Español. Para más información e inscripciones, envíanos un correo a firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking of Marta, we received an email from her at 8 pm on New Year's Eve saying that in Spain it was already 2009. Kay wrote back and told her it was the first time we'd received an email from the future.
Kay and I both wish you the very happiest New Year, and may the year ahead lead to greater contentment, health, prosperity, and happiness. Usually, if we are content, the other qualities follow naturally and take care of themselves. Conditions and situations around us tend to take a form corresponding to our predominant inner feelings, so if our primary feeling is contentment, life around us arranges itself to fit the feeling of contentment.
One of the primary principles is that we perceive and experience our personal life, from one moment to the next, as we describe conditions and situations to ourselves and others, as well as by our primary feeling at the time. A happy person will not interpret circumstances the same as an angry person, and a depressed person will interpret things even differently. A content person sees things in ways that contribute to his contentment, and through experience and observation over a long time, I recommend contentment above all other feelings. It is by far the most stable.
Even the joy of love is more easily available if we are relaxed and content. Love and lightheartedness go together, and a person who enjoys love and lightheartedness will find life to be greatly fulfilling.
It is up to us whether we are lighthearted or serious and heavy. It is not up to another person, or what anyone else said or did, or even current life circumstances. Our inner state is determined only by our own attitude, and we can generate a lighthearted attitude simply by activating the will to do so, and refusing to consider anything that would threaten or diminish it.
Unfortunately, many people have lifelong habits of negativity and contracted states, and these states tend to feel more normal and comfortable than a lighthearted space where there are no cares or worries. It is challenging to overcome the contracted states we have lived in most of our life, and that is why we offer a Course of Training focusing on the transformation from our current state to a more enlightened state. We cannot be transformed simply by reading about it or agreeing that it is possible.
It takes actual step-by-step work to experience the transformation from a contracted state to a more expanded state, and for this it is helpful to have guidance. In our case, the grace lies in the reading.
In India, when they celebrate the Hindu New Year, Diwali, the custom is that on that day everyone speaks, thinks, and behaves exactly as he or she wishes to be and act during the coming year, for it is believed that however one acts on the day of Diwali is how he will tend to be over the span of the entire year.
Of course, in a year from now, we will be in a completely different space—freer and clearer and less cluttered with mental confusion and emotional agitation—yet for that to fully manifest we must begin now living and speaking and behaving as we know it is right to live or speak or behave right now, in the present moment. Simply by giving it our best shot in each present moment, optimum growth is assured.
Enjoy this beginning of your new year, and enjoy the coming year to the greatest of your capacity. The Creative Principle of the universe put us here to be happy and to enjoy ourselves in a most natural way. In fact, that Creative Principle created happiness and enjoyment in the first place. Why shouldn't we avail ourselves of it?
We have space for one question and answer:
Ari: There seems to be a focus in the lessons on relationships, which is great. In the world we live in, relationships seem to be front and center for most people. They also appear to be a lot of work and seem to bring a lot of difficulty in people's lives.
Why do you think we are so attracted to relationships? Is it karmic? Do we think the person is going to "complete" us?
I remember living alone for a long time. Life seemed so simple. But mabe I am not remembering the difficult times.
DRB: Ari, I think anyone involved in a relationship would have to laugh after reading your last paragraph. Yes, life does seem simple when we live alone, doesn't it?
Of course, many people who live alone wish they could find someone nice to live with. They meet someone interesting, start things going in one way or another, and see how wonderful is the bliss of another person. So they move in together.
Before too long, something quite different and unexpected happens. This other person who seemed so perfect in the beginning suddenly and inexplicably starts to display undesirable traits. In fact, they might even manifest in the very ways that we always most hated or feared. Suddenly life feels very complicated, and much of the trouble apparently comes from the other person.
Yes, our Course of Training does focus a lot on relationships, because when it comes down to it, our interactions with others during the day are foremost on the list of most people's activities. Our personal life revolves largely around the other people in it. So the Course places an emphasis on living in harmony with each other.
Relationships are indeed karmically determined. It is our karma to come in contact with certain people and not other people. This is why we know only an insignificant percentage of the people in the world. Who we know and who is in our life is not determined by chance or coincidence nearly as much as we sometimes think. We all knew each other long ago even better than we do now. When we break free from this karmic delusion, we remember who we truly are.
The Course focuses on relationships because, strange as it seems, relationships with other people are our primary arena of sadhana or spiritual work and growth. And by “relationships” in this sense we include all interactions with others. We are in relationship with the clerk in the store for the moment that we are with them. A major aspect of life is getting relationships right—or at least being in harmony with all who are attracted into our lives for whatever reason.
Relationships are a lot of work and do sometimes cause a lot of apparent difficulty. Yet, that seeming difficulty is the result of clashing samskaras or complementing egotistical tendencies, which have to be cleansed from our psychic system before we can be free from all conditioned influence. Whatever we go through in relationship to others is purifying if we allow it to work its way out and be released into the ethers. Sometimes we want to hold on to such things instead of freely letting go, but that is another story altogether.
When we avoid others and keep to ourselves, it is too easy to hide our ego from ourselves, and therefore more challenging to evolve spiritually—which is in truth the only kind of evolution there is. In relationships of any nature—marital, business, friendship, whatever—ego and samskaras are exposed and have to be dealt with and come into harmony with. This entire process is explored in great detail in the lessons of the Course.
We might think another can complete us, yet whether we think that or not, we can only complete ourselves. Depending on another for completion is a frustrating proposition at best. We find our ultimate fulfillment within ourselves, yet relationships of some nature with other people usually lie along the path we have to travel to get there.
The primary elements to maintain in relationships of any nature are respect and harmony. Be respectful of all others, even if they are unable to be respectful of you. Come into harmony with all others in your life, even when they cannot manage to come into harmony with you.
It does not matter in the least how another sees you or thinks of you; you can still see and respect the inner Self in all others, no matter how they might treat you at any particular time. Some people truly do not know how to live respectfully, act respectfully, or relate respectfully to others—even the ones they live with and supposedly love. For the most part, in ordinary life, we have never been taught this, and few of us have had good role models in this area.
Never take another's lack of respect personally—it has nothing to do with you. Respect yourself and everyone you know, and your life will be filled with respect.
Respect is not really something that can come from others. Even if others respect you, you are no better off unless you respect yourself.
Respect and harmony in relationships are among the primary keys to enjoying a life of joy and contentment. Above all things, where others are concerned, be respectful and remain in harmony within yourself.
The following was sent in from a dear friend and participant in our Course, who wrote: “This sounds like a quote from a recent lesson, yet it's actually a quote that is over 2500 years old from the Dhammapada, which is traditionally ascribed to the Buddha.”
We are what we think
All that we are arises with our thoughts
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.
We are what we think
All that we are arises with our thoughts
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
My love and good wishes go with you.
For more information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler, write: email@example.com. For Spanish, write: firstname.lastname@example.org.