Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome to 2009

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 drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com

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: drbutler.course@gmail.com. For Spanish, write: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com.

12 comments:

Michael said...

Greetings, D.R. and any other souls online...I'm very grateful for your recommending contentment as the most accessible feeling to contemplate. I was actually focusing on that feeling for the past two hours, affirming, "ah, I am perfectly content. I have achieved everything I ever wanted. I feel like I've won the lottery..." Well, I haven't won the material lottery, but the spiritual lottery is always paying handsomely to anyone who holds out their hand...

Love,

Michael

Mely said...

Yesterday, in the New Year´s celebration it was all about love, happiness, joy. Everyone was singing, dancing, hugging, even me was singing, I was so happy, I am so happy. I experienced the most incredible creative-love energy, and it was all within me, nothing is really out there.
Today I am fulled of love, my mind is clearer than ever, I have everything I need, today is the best day ever, and just because I belive so.
"Inmerse your soul in love" RadioHead

Love

Ari said...

I feel like gratitude and contentment go hand in hand. One thing the new course has re-emphasized for me is to give thanks for what I have. When I do that I feel a real sense of contentment vs. grumbling about what I dont have.

Sara said...

Thanks to the Course, I feel I am more in touch with my inner contentment. It is a great reminder to stay focused in contentment. Three weeks ago while writing my Christmas cards, I jotted a note in a few that said I was glad to see the end of 2008, (2008 was a very difficult austere year for our family).
After I wrote that in a few cards I sat and examined what had passed through our lives in 2008 and reexamined what it had been. It had really been about doing intense sadhana! Had the year not played out the way it did, I may have not learned certain traits, like being content in times of hardship, knowing nothing stays the same for long. I would not have developed certain relationships with close family members that opened my eyes to see another side to them that I had never been aware of. My faith was challenged and became stronger. I dove into my spiritual practices to just keep going.
In the end of my examination, I realized that 2008 had been a fabulous year! My goalfor 2009 is to continue to be content with whatever God sends my way. I wish this for all of you as well in 2009!

joanelyia said...

Hello, everyone ~ Blessings of the New Year, ALL Year! The "out with the old and in with the new" was truly brought home to me this year. When I think of the "old", I think of memories ~ and by thinking of the past, I continuously tie myself to it. But, when I think of the "new", I am creating action with intention in the present. The concept of experiencing the "new" has kept me hopping for the past four days! I would really like to thank whoever it was that sent us the Dhammapada: "We are what we think ~
All that we are arises with our thoughts ~
With our thoughts we make the world."
With the help of The Course, I am focusing on making the world a contented, harmonious place. And I would like to thank each and every one of you for making my world a richer place. Thanks!

D. R. Butler said...

I would like to bring your attention to the new series on PBS called "The Story of India." The show presents some extraordinary material regarding the development of human civilization. Check out your local PBS offerings, or go online at pbs.org for info.

Maria said...

Thank you so much for lesson 9. I love it. Each lesson is even more beautiful then the one before.

I have been very moved by this lesson and I even cry in some parts when I feel you transmit your deep love to us. I read it every day.
I am so grateful to be in touch with you again. Thank you for your knowledge and for teaching us the Truth.

Ari said...

Hi DR and everyone. Really enjoyed lesson 9.
My question pertains to speaking your mind. In an earlier discussion you spoke with other participants on how you (we) have felt speaking "your mind" was more your style vs. being "yogi and sugary" in regards to communicating with others.
In this lesson you speak of discrimination with words. Speaking only using words that convey kindness, compassion and respect.
In a sense those two styles of communication seem almost incongruent with one another.

D. R. Butler said...

Ari, I don't find them incongruous with each other at all. In living in the Truth of the present moment, bringing consciousness and presence to everything we do, it feels most natural to speak to each other with respect. I don't think that's being "sweet and sugary," and I don't think it is counter to freely speaking our own mind. Speaking our mind doesn't mean that we give in to tendencies toward anger and hostility while relating to another. In order to truly be here in the present moment, we eventually do everything that we do with great respect--otherwise we're not respecting ourselves or others. This certainly includes how we speak to others.

Anonymous said...

are there any techniques one can use to help control the mind? i could really use some concentration exercises. i am taking the lessons and need to get the drunken monkey off my back. i have noticed a severe worsening of my temper and patience with life.

please help this child of light.

chris said...

Before he was a revolutionary hero, Thomas Paine lived in many different places and held a lot of jobs from preacher to corset maker. But when he wrote “These are the times that try men's souls” I wonder if he ever tried his hand at plumbing. Over the last few days I've struggled with frozen pipes (and fingers) and migraines. The great thing is that I've found a previously secret stash of joy and contentment that is available to me whenever I call upon it. I love lesson 9 when it reads “Personal power is best used to do whatever is necessary to create, maintain, or restore harmony to whatever situation the present moment has presented.”

As with the lessons of old, there seems to be much more at work here than words on a page or even the thoughts and concepts they inspire. Others may use their own words, mine is grace. I chose to be grateful for this grace and look for each new way it will manifest itself in my experience. Thank you D.R. for the lessons that provide a vehicle for God's grace.

D. R. Butler said...

This is in response to Anonymous above. The best "concentration techniques" I can offer are the lessons themselves, especially if you actually reread them as suggested. If you only read each lesson once or twice and imagine that you "know" the contents, you miss the point of the course. To truly focus on each reading is a most effective contration technique, and you will find your mind gradually coming more and more under your control.

If you seriously want a concentration exercise other that reading the lessons, there are many simple and classic exercises to bring the mind under greater control. For example, focus on a candle flame and see if you can make the flame absolutely steady through the power of your concentration. Or focus on the second hand of a watch or clock and see how long you can go before thoughts kick in. At first you might be amazed to find you can only go a few seconds, but if you persist in your practice, you can soon get the time of focus up to two minutes. By then you will notice a great difference in your power of concentration. Or, you can simply focus on the breath. Notice the inhalation, then the exhalation, then the inhalation, and so forth. See how long you can focus on your breath without thinking of anything else.

I practiced all these exercises and many others that will be outlined in the lessons beginning when I was a teenager growing up in Mississippi. I share much of my personal history in the lessons of the course, and I practiced the concentration exercises for a long while before I began to genuinely meditate. Before I could somewhat steady the mind, true meditation was impossible.

As far as the worsening of temper and impatience, remember that emotional peaks and valleys come and go in cycles, and during some periods negative emotions such as temper and impatience become more intense and even volatile, while at other times it is much easier to be in an uplifted and expanded state. Emotional states come and go. When you go into a cycle of negativity, don't automatically assume that you are getting worse, because the time will come when you will just as easily get better all over again. The best thing is to refuse to be judgmental regarding emotional states, and most certainly to never put ourselves down because we are momentarily out of sorts. What goes down eventually comes back up, and this is especially true for the ever-fluctuating emotions.

Most importantly, watch how you describe yourself. It can be helpful to observe that you are getting angry too easily or that you are being impatient, but it works against you to actually describe yourself that way as though it is a permanent or worsening condition.

Continue to focus on your current lesson, and all these things, and more, will become more and more obvious to you, and you will start to appreciate your transformation from a relatively limited state to a more expanded state. Spiritual growth is like the blossoming of a bud into a beautiful and fragrant flower. Just don't let your down cycles get you down.