In case you haven’t noticed, today’s world is changing at a very rapid pace. Although the principles of Truth are eternal and changeless, the presentation and application of these principles must be immediately relevant in today’s somewhat unpredictable world in order to be practically useful to us.
Someone recently told me that someone had referred to this blog as “recycled wisdom.” I laughed when I heard that. Considering that the principles of Truth were first stated in scriptures written thousands of years ago, who among us can come up with new and improved wisdom? Should we come up with bits of wisdom that the sages who wrote the scriptures never considered or experienced? Since the principles were expressed in scriptures thousands of years ago, all teachings of any era since then are "recycled" to some degree or another. There is only commentary on what has already been stated quite clearly, as well as updated methods of presentation.
The most useful communication now is to make the ancient principles relevant and practically applicable in everyday life at the present time. At no point in our lifetimes has the outer world changed at such a fast rate as is happening now. It is important to keep up, on some corresponding inner plane, with the world as it is. This includes how our personal lives are going at the present time. The primary thing is to be established in harmony with the present moment as it is.
Some interesting questions have come in from those who take the course through email, and I’ve chosen to answer a couple of them here.
William: Can you discuss the relationship between going beyond desire and seeing harmony in all things, or remaining content with what comes unsought, verses the discipline of determining what we think so as to create more pleasant results. In the lessons, sometimes you seem to say to simply remain content with what comes unsought and see the perfection of the world as it is, and other times you seem to imply that the priority is our work on ourselves, the work of the present moment to break free from past conditioning. An elaboration on these two approaches would be very much appreciated.
D. R. Butler: There are many approaches to sadhana, to working on ourselves for spiritual growth, or for personal development—however we wish to think of this process we are engaged in that induces us to read the blog or our current lesson. After all, we could spend our time watching one of innumerable TV channels, or checking out our favorite sites on the Internet, or bickering with our partner for that matter. After all, many couples are addicted to bickering just to have something to do together.
Everyone is at a certain level of work on oneself for spiritual advancement. Some of us might be practicing seeing God in all things, and living in the awareness of pure Consciousness being and doing everything. Most of us, however, get caught up in thinking that something else is happening in addition to God’s play, or that someone other than God is present among us, and that such a godless situation or person must be dealt with somehow. The result of this is that it creates unnecessary stress and anxiety
A truly wise person, one who consistently sees the Truth, sees everything as equally the play of the same divine Consciousness. There is no higher or greater vision than of pure Consciousness appearing as everything we perceive and experience. If we could see everything as a manifestation of Consciousness, we would live in the awareness of the Truth of the present moment.
The practical truth, however, is that most of us are constantly thinking of stuff, constantly imagining how things are, constantly describing the world, others, as well as ourselves. We reap the results of these thoughts, of our imagination, and of the ways we describe the world to ourselves. All these things start appearing to be real in our own life.
Therefore, since we are creating our own world anyway, often in the very ways we wish it were not, why not learn to be aware of the creative power of mental energy? Since our thoughts set energies into motion that have consequences in the emotional or physical realms, we might as well be aware of what is going on, and have some conscious input as to how mental energy is directed. Otherwise, habitual patterns will repeat themselves endlessly, and we will live as though we have no choice regarding what we say and do, or how we react to what others say and do.
If there were no conditioning affecting us in limiting ways, then there would be no reason to “break free from past conditioning,” as it says in the question. Most of us, however, have conditioned ways of being and seeing things that limit our perception and experience. This limitation exists until we consciously do whatever is necessary to break free from that conditioning.
This is why in the lessons we explore what needs to be done in order to break free from past conditioning, as well as how to do it. Even though the highest understanding is that everything is the play of the same Consciousness, it is still practically important that the individual comes to understand the creative process, and how situations and events come into being in one’s personal life.
Principles of Truth must be examined from many different approaches, and seen on many different levels, before they become clear enough that we can live by them.
Susan: My current lesson describes a pattern of behavior that I would like to change having to do with reacting to something someone says and immediately wanting them to behave differently. I can see the behavior now as a conditioned response, but I don't have the skill yet to stop my reflexive behavior—(anger). Wanting to explore how to upgrade my response I brought the subject up for conversation. I was then reminded that focusing on the problem gave it more energy. So my question is, how can I explore strategies to upgrade my reactions without focusing on the past negative behavior?
D. R. Butler: You will see that we can go into such things to a much greater degree in the lessons than here in the blog, simply because one lesson lays the foundation for the next. Your question is classic. It is a question all of us wish to be more clear about.
Concisely, the answer is that when you become aware of a habitual tendency, you can change it by creating something more harmonious to take its place in advance. This way you don't focus on the problem; you create beforehand how you will respond instead of being pulled along by past habitual reactions. Focus of attention requires intention and will, which we will explore in detail.
The fact that you have such a question is exactly why we go into such things in the lessons. No matter how sublime and expanded we aspire to be, we still have the nitty-gritty stuff of life to go through and come into harmony with. It is part of being a human being and a process that happens on many levels simultaneously.
You will see that you don't have to refer to or describe past negative behaviors in order to improve the future. All that is required is to focus on what creates or maintains harmony in the present moment. Once we establish harmony within ourselves right here and now, there is no outer force strong enough to disturb it. It is a great thing to be established in a harmonious state, no matter what challenges it.
We don't have to solve past problems. More likely we simply need to see something in a new way right now, which transforms who we are and how we deal with the outer world and other people. As we will learn, it is primarily a matter of focusing attention. This is what we are being taught to do through practicing the principles explored in each current lesson.
Your question was, “How can I explore strategies to upgrade my reactions without focusing on the past negative behavior?” Simply remain focused on whatever contributes to the harmony of the present moment. Allow each moment, through your most mundane actions and words, to be your contribution to the harmony of the world, simply through maintaining your own harmony no matter what happens around you. This is the very best strategy.