Lessons from Kaua’i – Firming myself in the Peace of Spirit

I have spent the last couple of weeks here in Hawai’i. We started on the Big Island and then came over here to Kaua’i to spend time with our friends from the community here. Here in Hawai’i I feel very removed from my life on the mainland. The six hour time change means it’s already late afternoon at home by the time I finish my coffee, so any work I might do arrives pretty much after everyone there is done for the day. It seems like even the most simple communication has a two day lag time.

I started to feel this as we crossed the 2640 miles of open water between the California coast and the lava crust airstrip at Kona. There is no fuel along the way. The regular aircraft radios do not work. The internet does not work either. There is nothing but the fuel in the tanks, the constant breathe of the engines, the night sky, and 2500 miles of open water. And so upon arriving here and landing where the black lava field falls into the deep blue ocean, it feels like we have landed on another planet or the Moon.

A lot of energy has been moving over the last couple of weeks. We had the new moon in Leo on July 28th, and then we had the full Moon in the Lion’s Gate on August 11th, and a lot was shifting during this time. I had two communications from people that I have had difficult relationships with in the past, and several “crisis” situations in business, the church community, and my family that seemed to require urgent attention. Most of this energy was just drama, but it is easy for me to get caught up in it in the moment.

From so far away, however, there is really only so much that I can do. There are so many demands that pull my attention away from my present experience in Hawai’i. For the first week of being here, I tried hard to keep up with everything on the mainland, but then in the middle of the week, when we packed up and changed islands, I had to let go of the effort to keep in the loop and trust that everything will be fine until I get back. I hear Padrinho in my ear saying “reduce your sense of self importance.” The concept that everyone will be fine without me is a big step in that direction.

I felt a lot of tension in my body from this energetic division. And once I gave up on trying to stay connected on the mainland, I felt myself really finally arrive here in Kaua’i. This island offers such a gentle and loving embrace. I feel so at home with all of my brothers in the community, and it feels good to work hard outside to prepare the grounds for the spiritual works we have done here. Good hard working brothers make good company and help me feel strong and grounded.

As I felt myself arriving and grounding here on these 5,000,000 year old lava flows that created Kaua’i, what came for me was peace of spirit. I felt in my own body and psyche that I am all A Ok. Sure there are a lot of things going on in the mainland. Sure there are people who are upset because they do not know how their needs are going to be met. Sure there are lots of people who might be disappointed that I am not responding at the moment to their urgencies. But what I have deep in my Solar plexus right now is feeling Irie–which is to say that I have a sense of peace of spirit, that everything is ok here and now an in this moment, and that I am very fortunate to love all of my relations.

So here’s to the islands, and here’s to firming ourselves in the Peace of Spirit that we receive when we are truly present with the Sun the Moon and the Stars, the Earth the Wind and the Sea. All of that is here in Hawai’i.

Peace

Two Ways to Look at Love

A friend of mine asked me for the definition of love the other day. I reached into my spiritual tool box and started to try to put into words a description of Universal Love. I have heard it said many times on the spiritual path that we are supposed to love everyone and everything, and I was doing my best to come up with a definition that could be written down on a flash card. Universal love in twenty five words or less. She was not impressed at all.

“No” she said. “That’s not it at all. Love is a special connection between two people. When you say you love someone, you are talking about a bond between two people. It is the glue that holds them together in a relationship.” She went on to point out that all this spiritual talk about love and about how we are supposed to love everything and everyone removes the meaning from the word.

I have been sitting with this for several days. How can I reconcile these two notions of love? I think the only way to do so is to recognize that the word love is used to describe two very different energies.

The first, the Universal love, or spiritual love, is really a way of being. When we talk of spiritual masters like the Buddha or the Christ, we see that these masters have love that comes from the divine and then when they look out upon the world, love is the lens that they look through. In this sense, love is like a set of rose colored sunglasses. We look out on the world through the lens of love, and then we love all of the things that we see in the world.

The second notion of love is very different. When we say “I love you” to someone, most people think this means something significant. This is where I was running afoul with my sloppy language. It is one thing to understand the principle of universal love and to say that I love all beings as I love myself. Actually, that would not even be true in my case, because I have not achieved anything close to that level of spiritual perfection. There are plenty of things in the world that I judge and dislike. But at least I understand that concept, and if I were to develop true spiritual mastery, then I would be able to say I love all beings.

It clarifies my thinking when I consider relationships that have ended with people who I once had a special bond with. When these relationships have come to an end at a few painful crossroads in my life, the first stage of separation is a very painful process. I have still felt a lot of energy between myself and the other, but the feelings are very difficult feelings. It hurts when we suffer a severance of these relationships. It feels like a limb has been amputated.

So imagine people are like birds or fish. There is a flock of parrots flying around my neighborhood right now, and I can see the little green noisy parrots in the palm tree outside my window. All of the birds in the flock are pretty much the same to me. Let’s say I love the parrots. This does not mean that I love any one of them in particular. There are a bunch of these green birds in the flock, and I love them all. Easy enough to understand.

But lets say I start to feed one of these parrots in particular, and that we start to develop a relationship, until one day, this particular parrot bites me really hard. I will have gone through several stages of relationship with the parrot. First, this bird was a member of a flock, and then I felt about it like I did the rest of the flock. Then I made a special relationship with it, and had a friendship, and then this relationship soured when it bit me. I know have special feelings for this one parrot as a result of the relationship we have together.

So now that the relationship is over, it does me no good to carry negative feelings towards this parrot any longer. I should return it, in my mind and heart at least, to the flock. I should seek to restore for myself the feeling of loving all the parrots that are in the flock, and not having any particular feeling toward this one member.

The same happens with people. When we walk down the street, we see people everywhere. They are like birds in a flock. We can have a sort of universal love feeling towards all of the people we see when we walk down the street. Then, when we enter a special relationship with someone, we can call this love, and we feel a special bond with one person in particular, and we walk the road of a love relationship with them. Sometimes this goes on for life and all ends well, but for most relationships, they end sooner than that, and this causes upset right? And so now instead of love, we have these injured feelings. We look at this one person as different from everyone else.

This happens in all kinds of relationships, not just romantic relationships. We can love a new job, love our coworkers, love our boss, but when things don’t go so well, then love quickly turns.

So the first kind of love is a Universal Spiritual Love that says a lot more about us than about a particular relationship that we have. This is about looking upon the world with kindness and forgiveness and tolerance. If we look at the world through this lens, then we will have warm hearts and good feelings. On top of this we have our special relationships, and these we have to nurture and care for.

And so what have I learned? I have learned not to throw the word LOVE around so carelessly. I have been guilty of saying “I love you” to people without being clear about whether I mean something special. When I tell someone that I love them, I want to be clear that I am talking about appreciating the special bond we share. I need to be clear that I am not talking about my spiritual frame of reference, but about my feelings in particular towards a special relationship.

I am very fortunate that I have several close loving relationships in my life. I am also fortunate that I have some understanding of how having a loving frame of reference can make me a happier person. But I’m not going to confuse these concepts anymore, and I think I’m going to be a little slower to reach for that word so I do not reduce the significance of it when I really do mean it.

Warrior Spirit – Knowing What I Want Shields Me From Manipulation

I was recently involved in a conversation with someone who was coming at me with an extremely narcissistic attitude. I felt tension rising in my chest and in my voice and I found myself in an argument with this person and my internal tension was rising fast. I was feeling angry and defensive, and I could feel my heart rate increasing and felt my face a little flush. In the past weeks, I have really focused on being aware of what is going on inside of me when I have emotional reactions, and so I noticed as this was happening. I began to ask myself what I was getting upset about. How did this other person get under my skin when I needed nothing from them in the moment, and when I owed them nothing as well.

I could feel how the narcissistic person was pulling on chords of guilt. “You don’t even want to be around me” is what they were saying. They were accusing me of treating them unfairly and differently from other people. The attack was like that of a woodpecker looking for a rotted bug infested section of a tree. They just kept ticking away at me looking for a weak spot. A place where some part of me agreed with what they were saying. Once they found these little spots, they went at work chipping away at me, with the idea that eventually I would capitulate and give them what they wanted.

Most of the people I meet are actually really good people, and I have been quite fortunate to be able to help a lot of very good people accomplish and achieve very good things. This is something I really enjoy and want to do. It’s the same sense of satisfaction one receives in the garden when we water and fertilize good plants and watch them grow and bear fruit. It gives me great pleasure to give a small amount or help in some way, and then watch the seed thus planted grow. But I feel a tightness in my solar plexus when I am manipulated into supporting something that I do not feel called to support.

This study I have been doing about myself over the last few months really has focused on coming to really know myself and that means knowing and accepting the truth about what I want, and letting this be a part of my guidance that I follow. And so here this person was accusing me of not being supportive and not wanting to spend time with them. Some part of me felt obligated to support this person, and the additional layer of accusation around not wanting to spend time was causing a sense of guilt to rise up in me.

My Padrinho teaches me that I should always listen to my enemies and “follow my guilties,” which is one of his funny English phrases from his native Portuguese. Listen to your enemies he says because they will tell you things that even your best friends will not tell you. Listen to what they say he advises me, and search within your conscience to see if there is some truth there. Sometimes there are nuggets of truth that I can learn from my enemies, and through the examination of the conscience, I can correct and improve myself. The same holds true with the “Guilties.” I follow them through my psyche like a string through a cave. Where does this guilty feeling attach to me? How is this guilty feeling being used as a lever on me. Is there something true about the accusation that produces this guilt? Or is it just activating some old wound?

In this recent case, I was feeling guilty because some part of me agreed with the accusation that I was not wanting to spend time with this person, but in denying the truth of that statement, I was actually not telling the truth, and this made me feel guilty. I saw this as I followed the trail into my emotional body. And that’s where the sense of knowing who I am and what I want was available to help me. Actually I realized, the person was quite right. I really do not enjoy spending time with them, because they never respect my boundaries and they are always trying to manipulate me into giving them things I don’t want to give them. They were accusing me of stinginess and lack of generosity, but I know this is not true, because I know what it feels like when I want to help or support something. I am plenty generous with causes and people that I want to support, and I don’t need to support people or causes that I do not feel aligned with.

By knowing what I want, who I am, and where I stand, I was able to shield myself from these attacks.

The attachment point for most of the attacks that come at me is the basic need that I, and I think most people share, is this need to believe that I am a basically good person. I have an image inside my head of what a good person is, and when someone accuses me of acting in a bad way, this makes me uneasy, because it challenges my core belief that I am a good person. If I believe that good people do not say mean things, then I would feel guilty if I told someone that I don’t want to spend time with them or support their projects. Something inside me does not like telling someone that I don’t enjoy their company. But when I embraced the truth of this and accepted that this did not make me a bad person, I felt suddenly free from manipulation. This confidence put a smooth shield inside where the grappling hooks of guilt could not find any purchase.

Sometimes it scares me a little to acknowledge what I want, because I am afraid that if I go after the things I want I might lose some of the things I have. I subconsciously fear that the people around me might react negatively if they were to know what I really want, and so to protect myself from this, there is a tendency to deny it even to myself. This hiding of the truth of our own nature causes a break in integrity, and this provides an access point for spiritual attack. The antidote is faith that I was created by God as a creature in this material world, and there is nothing inherently bad about my true nature. I do not have to pursue every temptation. I do not have to eat foods that tempt me, but I do have to recognize that I am in fact tempted by that chocolate almond croissant. If I put up a wall and claim “of course I do not want that tasty croissant, only heathens and scum and degenerates would eat that!” Well I might be erecting a barrier to help me avoid the temptation, but I am also creating tremendous force to give in. This is why we so often see people falling from behind white washed personas.

If instead I know and recognize the temptation, I can see what I really want, in general, is to stay as healthy as possible so that I can enjoy my third revolution of Saturn through the Zodiac, which will start in a few short years when I turn 58. If I eat added sugar regularly, I put on weight. If I avoid added sugar, wheat, and diary, I effortlessly maintain my ideal weight. I am not a bad person for wanting the chocolate almond croissant. Of course I have the desire to experience that. But if I eat them all the time, I will not be healthy, and so I do not want to eat them over the long term, even though I want to eat them in the immediate moment that I am buying my morning coffee. With conscious examination of the conscience, I can learn to see all the nuances of desires and temptations that I have, and I can align them with the things I want over the long term of my life, and then I can make choices in the present moment accordingly.

But if I hide the truth from myself, well then I am doomed.

Warrior Spirit – Self Knowledge, Consciously Inhabiting A Flexible Persona, and Emotional Availability

Often when I receive a spiritual insight, it comes in a dream at the end of a sleep. The other day I took an afternoon nap on a rainy afternoon here in Telluride, and I fell soundly asleep and deep into dreaming. I was dreaming that someone was accusing me of being emotional unavailable, and in the dream I was considering this. I suddenly felt an insecurity that I was harboring inside myself that I did not want to look at. In the dream, I saw how I protect myself by hiding my insecurity behind an outward persona that I project to the world.

Someone once told me something about Buddhist philosophy that stuck with me. They said that we all have three personas. First, we have the public persona that we display to the world at large. For most of my life, this was my professional persona. My identity was printed on a business card. I showed up, on time, in a suit, and got the job done. For decades this persona served in most of my daily interactions with people. The second persona is the person we display to those who are close–our friends, family, neighbors and people we trust. The third persona is who we really are, shadow and all, and it is this persona that most of us do not even know ourselves. We deny the truth about ourselves because we are ashamed or afraid or addicted or simply unaware. This is a serious break in integrity that comes from our very root, for how can we be grounded at all if we do not even know and accept ourselves as we truly are?

I naively thought for a few years that one of the ideal purposes of a spiritual life would be to integrate these three persona’s. I thought, naively, that if I could come to truly know myself, then I could integrate these three personas. I would be possessed of deep self knowledge, and then I would present my full authentic self at all times. Of course, this does not at all work in the real world. I have to be able to go into the public world with a persona that enables me to accomplish my day to day routine without any unnecessary conflict or drama.

So over years I realized that instead of unifying these three personas, it is more important to use them consciously. And then it became clear that I actually have many personas that I present to the world from moment to moment. The persona I present to my parents and family at Thanksgiving can be different from the persona I present to my personal friends and different from the persona I present to my spiritual community. Consider politics as an example. I have relationships with people of all kinds of different political persuasions. But it’s usually quite pointless to engage in debates about politics. And so in my persona, I reveal my political feelings in varying degree.

But what I learned in the dream is that there are aspects of myself that even I do not want to look at or admit. I myself turn away from looking at these aspects of myself, and so as a result, I create a persona that I display to my very own conscience so that I do not suffer the pain of self loathing that comes when I examine the parts of myself that I do not love.

In my spiritual tradition, there is frequent reference to the allegory of the iron giant with feet of clay. This is often used to describe the unsustainable society that humankind is building. The same holds for the persona that I build when I do not truly know myself. The iron giant is the image of who I am that I present to myself that I can love and embrace and feel good about. This persona excludes and denies the things I do not love about myself, and therefore, I can look at this self image and believe that I am a good person who deserves to love and be loved. But if I build a persona that I show to myself, that denies my own true nature, then my very identity will have feet of clay underneath.

This causes a tremendous dissonance within me. I hide the part of myself that I do not love, and build an image of myself that I do love, and when evidence of the truth pops up, I avoid it or deny it or pretend that it does not matter, or whatever, and this prevents me from having real integrity. Instead of being rooted firmly in self knowledge and self acceptance, I have the feet of clay that comes from denying who I really am even to myself.

I saw in my dream this prevented me from being emotionally available. True emotional availability is not possible when I protect a self image that hides the things I do not like about myself. Every conversation, every interaction, every relationship, has an aspect of protecting myself from the truth about myself.

So the first key in this work that I am doing right now is to get out the flash light and look at all the parts of myself that I do not love. This does not mean that I need to expose them at all. It only means that I need to know what they are and then reconcile them. The key to reconciliation is the knowledge and faith that I am a child of God, created as God created me, living in this world. I am what I am.

My relationships with other people are very helpful in this process, because we all act as mirrors for each other. It is very easy to see the things I do not like in another person, and when I have strong reactions to other people, it’s usually because they trigger something inside of me. These triggers open the path to self knowledge. I can then replace or heal them with forgiveness, self acceptance and self love. I am a child of God, I inhabit the world material world created by my divine mother, and my purpose here is to love all beings equally as I love myself.

So where does all this self loathing come from? We are taught this from a very young age by our parents, our teachers, our peers. As a young child, I was told by priests on a daily basis that I was born a sinner and that I needed to seek absolution for my sinful nature every minute of every day. That there was only one person who was ever not a sinner, and they killed him on the cross anyway. Have we not all been taught this? That we deserve to be rejected at the gates of heaven if it were not for the salvation meted out to us? This is not the path of spiritual enlightenment at all. This is the path of slavery to human institutions. It is the prison for the mind that makes us all slaves.

So I have been replacing this with the concept that I am fundamentally a good person. I am kind, I am loving, and I am emotionally available. I can trust my natural inclinations to guide me in my daily life.

But this does not at all mean that other people have the same opinions! I do not need to expose myself to the judgments and derision of other people and neither do you. I have an easy example. I have two tattoos, one on each shoulder. There are people that I am in relationship with who have a very antiquated view of tattoos and they think people who have them are deviants. I remember an interaction I had with someone where they were going on about how no self respecting person would get a tattoo, and I remember thinking that they were assuming I did not have one. I declined to show them that I have one. But I also know that I do have one and I accept this about myself.

And that’s where it is possible to have a consciously managed persona. If I can continue on the path of self knowledge and self acceptance, then I can know and love who I truly am. And then I can be truly available emotionally to the world and to other people. At the same time, I can manage my persona to slip easily through life. Instead of a heavy shield that protects me from myself, my persona becomes like an energetic force field that projects out of my consciousness. It is incredibly light and strong. The heart secure behind this protection is available to love. Self knowledge is the first step.

Summer Reset – The tension between self trust and self discipline

In our spiritual tradition, we have a big festival every June that culminates in a night long ceremony on the night of Saint John, where down in the jungle they ignite a bonfire that burns all night long. Before the fire of Saint John, you can have a conversation with someone to make commitments for your relationship, whether in business, romance, or simply as good neighbors. You can throw your addictions into the fire, you can write the name of a person you are in relationship with on a piece of paper and put it in the fire to set them and yourself free from the energetic cords that bind you, or you can send prayers for yourself for transformation, or for the health or well being of other people. The fire of St. John carries these powerful prayers up to the heavens and to the stars where they are heard and then manifested according to our deserving, which comes from how we give the best of ourselves here on the material plane.

So for me I spent a good amount of time in prayer before the fire, and then on the way home in the wee hours of the “madrugada” with the rising of a waning crescent moon in Cancer on the day of Saint John, the five visible planets and the Moon all lined up in the predawn sky. I saw Saturn, dim and up high, and Jupiter, and then Mars and the Moon. From my view Venus and Mercury were not visible yet, but I could feel their presence below the horizon. This seemed to mark a transition from one cycle of the evolutionary spiral to the next. We closed our June festivities on the 30th of June, and then traveled back out to Telluride Colorado, where I am now writing this. We will be here for three weeks of July, which is both a lovely time to be here, and also a very lovely time to not be in Miami, where it is 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity by 9:00 in the morning. And so I planning to take this time to do the journaling that I rarely do, to write, to rest, to read, to hike and to sharpen up on some of my habits that have gotten a little lazy with all the busyness.

In my personal spiritual evolution, I am moving into a time of being more comfortable in my authentic being. For me this is manifesting as “trusting myself to follow my natural inclinations because I am inherently a good person and my natural inclinations will not lead me astray.” This is a very interesting study, because it’s very easy for me to fall into the trap of trying to justify something that tempts me that I know is not in my highest good. In this study of the warrior spirit, which includes the fundamental principle of submission to higher authority, there is a can be a conflict between doing whatever we want and following our divine guidance. This tension, in my case, I see in my relationship to Chocolate Almond Croissants. They tempt me, and they make me feel lousy about an hour after I eat one. The same is true with ice cream, french fries, added sugars, processed carbs of any type, salty or sweet, and even hidden sugars like Coconut water.

I have to exercise some self discipline to free myself from cravings for sweet and processed foods that are not in my highest and best good. If I leave myself to follow my natural inclinations, I can find myself gaining weight and losing energy. So for this three weeks I’m going to stay in self discipline to balance myself. So for me, this means avoiding:

  • foods with added sugars
  • any fruit juices, sweet beverages, or milk
  • French Fries, potato chips, corn chips, or other processed carbs
  • bread, wheat, and any substitute for bread

I will also exercise discipline in taking healthy supplements that have been prescribed to me, by getting plenty of sleep, by limiting my expenditures of “chi”, and by hiking daily here in Telluride. My goal is to recover my ideal physical condition and pull myself into as much integrity as I am capable of achieving.

But discipline itself can become an addiction. At the same time I am doing these practices, it is important for me to remember to be kind to myself and to other people. To enjoy the abundant fresh foods that are available at the farmers markets here, to enjoy the beautiful nature, and to enjoy the warm relationships I have in my life with myself, my wife, my close family and my special friends, and my dog. This is where I am learning right now. I am learning to walk in the balance of self discipline, self knowledge, and self love. In so doing I will develop my connection to my higher self, and learn to trust myself to follow my inclinations. There is a very powerful way of being that feels like it is still covered beneath the surface, and I feel that as I adopt these practices, I can approach it and it will be revealed to me. It feels good. It feels strong. It feels like the manifestation of the true warrior spirit within my own heart and way of being.

Peace.

Key to Warrior Archetype – Submission to a Higher Authority

Aloha — I’ve been receiving a lot of ideas about the path of a warrior, and I’ve felt a little hesitant to speak about it in those terms, because it seems like such a masculine cliché to think of oneself as a warrior. The Marine Corp Commercials (my dad served in the Marines, and I give them my utmost respect) and the old movie Conan the Barbarian often come to mind when one thinks of a warrior. But the spiritual Archetype of the Warrior is the gateway through which a person truly enters the spiritual life. The concept of Archetypes, I think, was first published by Carl Jung. Archtypes are concepts that exist in the collective unconsciousness and they help us define our role in life. They represent the embodiment of many negative and positive polarities that work together.

The notion of the Warrior archetype itself is quite ancient. Almost every ancient religion has a god dedicated to the warrior. Mars should come immediately to mind. But what is it about the Warrior Archetype that is so critical to our spiritual evolution here in our lives? When one thinks of a Warrior, one may think of a violent and brash individual who kills and then takes what he wants by force. We see warriors depicted as violent and ignorant men for whom the ends justify any means, and plunder is an acceptable end. This is the negative polarity of the Warrior, and it is what happens when a the “higher authority” a person surrenders to is a human authority.

But there is a more subtle and important understanding of the Warrior Archetype in the spiritual context. I find my favorite expression of this in the book “The Bowl of Light” by Hank Wesselman. The Bowl of Light is a brilliant book about Hawaiian spirituality, which is amazingly similar to the Taoism. In both of these ancient traditions, the original source of creation first split into masculine and feminine energies, and then after that came the three related aspects of creation: matter, energy and consciousness. The ancient ancestors of Hawaiian spirituality, and the Chinese masters of philosophy that go back 5,000 years to the Yellow Emperor, all landed on the same truths about the nature of the universe and what it means to be human.

The Bowl of Light details conversations the author, Hank Wesselman had with the Hawaiian “Kahuna” Hale Makua before the latter died in 2004 in an automobile accident. In this book, Hale Makua explains the basic six archetypes of human spiritual development. They go from Servant to Artist to Warrior to Scholar to Sage to Priest to King. Each of these stages is worth reading about. But the level of the Warrior is the true initiation into the spiritual life.

We all have, especially in the United States, great love for artists, and many of us think that the artist or scientist represents the highest level of individual development. The Artist creates and indeed is the highest level of self expression. This is the highest level most people will ever reach. But the true spiritual path starts with the Warrior, and as explained in the Bowl of Light:

We have mentioned that the positive polarity of the Warrior is persuasion, and the negative, coercion. The goal of the Warrior is ho’o māhua kala — submission to the higher authority–and his or her mode of operation requires ho’o manawa nui –perseverence.

Bowl of Light, Hank Wesselman 2011, page 116

This is such an important concept. The Warrior lives in service of a mission, and to be of service, the Warrior must submit to a higher authority. In the human world, this can mean submitting to the higher authority of another person, and as many horrific wars and abuses have demonstrated, the negative polarity of this is violence and coercion. We see this played out every day in the brutality of war.

But the spiritual Warrior submits to the higher authority of the divine and dedicates his or her life to fulfilling the divine mission that they have received. Most people in our society, cut off from their divine connection, live their lives in the world of 10,000 things, seeking security and happiness and satisfaction from the pursuit of their material desires. At this level, one can be a great artist. Living that way, people basically avoid pain and seek pleasure, and their guidance comes from “keeping up with the Joneses”, or the modern day equivalent, living on likes and followers in social media. Cut off from any divine connection, the busy mind does not have any system of values to know what it should want, and so it goes about chasing the things it is told that will make it happy. People guided in this fashion spend their lives chasing their tails in a never ending state of Samsara pursuing worthless things that can never make them happy.

When someone starts to sense that there must be more to their life, they might start a spiritual pursuit. How many people are “spiritual but not religious” these days? I think that might be the largest religious identification now. But what does spiritual even mean? Spirit means that we recognize that our true essence is that of a spirit, and that our spirit is incorporated in this material body. This is the basic first step to understanding our true nature. The next step is then to restore the divine connection between our spirit and our source, through the seventh chakra, which has been severed completely in most people.

Once we connect to our divine source, we see that we have a purpose in our life. This purpose is often completely at odds with the material lives we have accumulated. We have jobs, debts, relationships, material possessions, an entire life, that was built by pursuing whatever guidance system we had in place of our divine channel. Our lives thus constructed, for the most part anyway, place value on all of the things that we will not be taking with us when we die. In other words, we have been living in the world of illusion chasing worthless things.

Upon having a “spiritual awakening” one realizes that their true nature is that of a spirit and that following the journey of a meaningful life is the only way to find any satisfaction. It might be very difficult to come to terms with the realization that your whole life was built on the pursuit of worthless things. Your higher self cares not at all for these shiny objects of the world of 10,000 things. Your higher self wants only to see that you have fulfilled your divine purpose in coming to this planet. This is your spiritual mission, and the only way to be happy and fulfilled is to … yes… wait for it… surrender to the higher authority and start taking orders from your divine guidance system.

This might cause a complete upheaval in your life, because you will be replacing your entire set of values. Things in your life that do not serve your divine mission will be stripped from you. The Path of the Spiritual Warrior is to understand that you are a spirit that is having a material experience in this world. That you have a mission to fulfill and that you live your life in service to a higher divine authority. Most people don’t want to wake up to this, so they just keep their heads down and keep running in circles. But there is no happiness or fulfillment to be found there. You might work in an office until you retire to a gated community in Naples, Florida and then spend the last few years of your life on a golf course with a gold watch. But you will never dance in the wind.

So these lessons about being a Warrior really are about how to find your connection to your divine source and then dedicate your life to obedience to your divine guidance.

Aloha

Masculine Diet of the Seven Chakras for Self Discipline – Foundation Of Yang Strength

You can make a decision to start a spiritual path of self discipline in a single moment, and this decision will change your life when you make it. That is because the first step in the right direction is always exactly one step away. You can, in this very moment, decide to transform yourself. You can transform yourself into a powerful person who acts from a center of self discipline. This process can be completed in 30 days, and you can decide to start right this second. Yes, right now. You can start a 30 day Yang power diet of self discipline, and when you emerge from this 30 days, you will be a powerful person who acts in concert with divine guidance and is free from addictions, from sloth, lust, gluttony, envy, wrath, greed, and pride. You must simply learn to preserve your personal power and tune in to your divine guidance. This article will show you how.

As I write about the development of benevolent Yang energy, it becomes more and more clear to me that these lessons apply to women as well as to men. All of us have Yin and Yang energy, and we can all benefit from understanding the Yang side of that equation. Our Yang energy is that which gives us the ability to execute in the world. It is the power to take what we want when we see it. It’s the ability to make the next move, to close the deal, to shoot the arrow. Women need this aspect as well as Men, and both need to exercise control over this personal power.

Usually it is Men who suffer from excesses of their Yang nature. You see this in cases of “male fragility”. You also see it in men who are controlled by addictions and obsessions, men who anger easily, men who react to their emotional responses, and in men who make a mess out of their lives. Men who resort to violence and men who feel a compulsive need to dominate in every situation suffer from male fragility. This can happen in women too, particularly those who are overcompensating as a result of old wounds they suffered. There are many women who have to have their way, and who always want to speak first. Excesses of Yang cause suffering in both genders, and we can all benefit from self discipline.

In our culture, we resist the notion of discipline. We think of it as minor punishment we received for failing to follow the orders of our teachers or parents or whatever outside forces have used punishment and reward to control our behaviors. We think of discipline as something which limits our freedom, and we often hide our true nature to avoid negative external consequences, and this causes our shadows to develop and fester. But this is not what discipline really means.

Those who suffer from a lack of discipline waste their energy all the time. They spew out unnecessary words, eat and drink to excess, obsess about new opportunities to ejaculate, and enter into conflicts every time they come across another strong man. Many indigenous traditions that I have learned from talk about the spiritual diet, and how this diet concentrates and preserves spiritual energy. This “dieta” as they call it, is much more than simply limiting food intake. It involves discipline in each of the chakra centers.

If you want to develop your true power in this world, these chakra disciplines will help you concentrate and preserve your individual power. The dieta works by restoring your personal integrity. Without personal integrity, you can have no power, because your power will leak out where your integrity is broken. Your integrity can be seen as energy flowing through your seven chakras. So as we go through each Chakra, we will talk both about breaks in integrity, and how a dieta can fix this.

The dieta is a regimen of prayer, meditation, and self restraint that takes place over a specified period. For this initial dieta, a period of 30 days is recommended. An important part of this dieta is devoting at least 30 minutes at the beginning of each day to prayer and meditation. It is best to wake up 30 minutes earlier than you are accustomed to waking so that you can do your prayer and meditation before your routine would otherwise start. It is also a good idea to reflect on your day before you go to bed each evening.

First Chakra – Belonging, Tribe, Connection to Gaia and Yin Side

The first Chakra is so often overlooked as a major power center for all of us. This is because it is the root, and as such, it does not move very much, or make a lot of noise. The Root Chakra is where we connect to the earth, to our tribe and to our sense of belonging. Those with a strong root chakra transmit a feeling of presence, stability, calm, and unflappability. People who have a break in their root chakra can never settle down. The fly from place to place, but never seem at home in any of the places they travel. They are the people who might show up, and might be charming, but who can never be counted on. They are the ones who always rise quickly in popularity, but then disappear just when you depend on them. They often suffer from a deep wound of “not belonging” and of self rejection. People broken at the first chakra give their power away through sloth.

The dieta for the first chakra is to stay put for a while. As you go for your 30 days, stay put where you are for your dieta. Identify the communities that you participate in, and stay with them for 30 days. Do you have a community at work, in a church, in a sport, it a book club, in your family, through your heritage, or in a recovery program? Make a list of the community you care about, and give some energy to your community. Resist temptations for the 30 days to run after the next great thing. Decline invitations to new things. This 30 days is about centering yourself where you are.

In your daily meditation, sit on the floor or the ground on a comfortable cushion. Imagine a root growing down out of your first chakra deep into the earth below you. Imagine you are firmly rooted in your position. Imagine a tree, like a palm, with a deep tap root, that can blow and bend in the strongest wind, and never be moved from its place. This is you. You are here. You are ok. You are enough. You are an essential part of your community. You do not need to run. You can stay in your place. These are all thoughts you can repeat in your mind and then let them sink in your body. Embrace these thoughts and feel the difference in your way of being as you receive and accept their strong vibration of belonging.

The discipline for the First Chakra is to resist the temptation to run. When our fight or flight adrenal response activates, flight is a very weak Yang response. If we run every time we have a conflict or a difficulty, we can never have power. The key to the first chakra is to breath and remain in your place when anxiety arises inside you. Men and women can both benefit from this discipline.

After your 30 days of staying put and meditation daily about establishing your root, you will find yourself to be much more stable and self assured. You will feel anxiety arise in your body, but instead of running, you will remain firm and face it. This energy that comes in the anxiety is released when you run. But if you stay put, you can harness and retain this energy in your field.

Second Chakra – Sexual Discipline

Not a lot of people like to hear about sexual discipline. They think it is prudish, but in fact it is quite the opposite. Most men are encouraged to spend their lives pursuing ever more exciting opportunities to ejaculate. How many men do you know who have ruined their lives by letting this urge control their behavior? It’s a very curious subject in American culture. Almost any Indigenous Diet for men includes a prohibition of sex.

But it is not the enjoyment of sexual relationships that depletes our power, rather it is the undisciplined pursuit of ejaculation itself. Think about this for a minute, even if it’s uncomfortable. What power could you retain if you exercised self restraint in this area? Look at all the trouble you would avoid if you no longer allowed yourself to be controlled by this urge. People who are broken at the second chakra give their power away through lust, and this lust can cause a man to throw away everything of value in his life for the pursuit of a few sticky seconds of pleasure.

Many athletes and performers know that they perform better if they refrain from sex before an event or competition. This is because, as any doctor of Chinese medicine can tell you, when a man ejaculates, he releases a tremendous amount of his Chi energy. So for your 30 day diet, try going 30 days without ejaculating. You can still have sex, but stop short.

Can you see how this discipline will improve your life? If you have trouble sticking with a relationship, or if you are addicted to pornography, or if you regularly deplete you own Chi, and this practice of retaining your Chi will bring you incredible discipline. How many men have broken integrity over their sexuality? Either they do their deeds in the dark, hoping nobody will find out, and then they create a huge shadow that festers inside them, or they galavant about society with a different woman on their arm every night, and they can never be happy. All of their money and energy flows away from them because they have no control over their sexuality.

This is one place where women truly are superior to men. Women can have sex as much as they like, because they do not deplete their energy when they do so. If a man is in relationship with a powerfully sexual woman, you can please her a lot more completely and a lot more frequently if you learn to retain your Chi. This is especially important for men as we grow older. Very young men quickly replenish their Chi after ejaculation, but as we get older it takes longer to replenish. You can find your own ideal frequency through experimentation. This is opposite everything we are taught.

Third Chakra – Diet, Exercise, Action in the World

The Third Chakra is where most of our notions of dieting land. In our culture, we think of a diet as a food restriction, most often a calorie restriction. The history of food diets in America is a laughable failure. We have all been given so much advice about diets that we have lost all of our common sense. It has gotten to the point that people are told that they have no agency over their own diet, and that if a person is obese, there is nothing they can do about it. We should never judge our brothers and sisters, but at the same time, we should never encourage them to give away their power by joining the belief that we do not have the power to control ourselves. People who are broken at the third Chakra give their power away through gluttony..

So here is the diet for 30 days. No cigarettes or any form of nicotine. No Alcohol. No Caffeine. No opioids, Nothing sweetened with artificial sweeteners, nothing with even a gram of sugar added. No processed foods like wheat or bread or anything with flour. No sodas diet or otherwise. No french fries. No fruit juices. We are talking about a full on whole foods diet. When you go to the grocery store, make sure everything you buy is simply what it is. No ingredients. Like Kale is just Kale. Beef is just Beef. Apples are just apples. If you buy peanut butter, make sure that peanuts and salt are the only ingredients. Avoid any preservatives. If you go 30 days sticking to this, then you can question whether you want to bring some of these addictions, particularly alcohol and cigarettes, back into your life.

The third Chakra is where you bring your will into material reality through action. This is the principal Chakra where Yang power is expressed in the world. By exercising discipline over our own consumption, then we can preserve our power to strike at what we really want. If we limit our consumption of garbage foods, for example, then we can take highly nutritious food instead. If we chase every opportunity that appears to us without discernment, then our power is spread all over with projects we never finish, and we accomplish nothing.

To develop power in the third Chakra we must exercise the discipline of self restraint. People who have a break at this level often have good ideas that they clearly express, and that they believe in their hearts. They just never get anything done at the material level. They talk all night about the way the world should be, and then they never do anything about it the next day. By exercising restraint here, you can dedicate your energy to making things happen that you really value the most.

Fourth Charka – Dieta for the Heart

How much do you read about how men need to get in touch with their feelings? We read about this all the time don’t we? But really, the dieta for the heart is more about not getting carried away by our emotions. Men who do not have self discipline in the emotional body, often reject all of their own feelings and try to act only from reason. They deny that they have feelings at all. But this never works, because they end up with feelings anyway, which are usually the negative and destructive emotions of anger, fear, jealosy, and especially envy. People who are broken in the heart give their power away through Envy.

The dieta for the heart is one of acceptance. We all look into the world and see what others have, and this produces envy. This is the tendency which causes weak men to see all other men as competitors. Men like this do not see strong brothers as valuable teammates. Instead they see all of their brothers as competitors. Healthy men and masculine energies that are aware of, but not overcome by, the emotional signals of the heart are happy when they are joined by another masculine force that is stronger, faster, smarter, or whatever, because they see their connections as teammates not competitors.

The Dieta of the heart is exercised mostly in constant awareness of the energy flowing through your heart center. As you go about your 30 days, let yourself be aware of the feelings that pass through your heart, but do not get carried away by them. If you feel anger and immediately rush into action, you are wasting your Chi. Instead allow your emotions to inform you about your world. You might see something, or hear something, and this might create an emotional response. But instead of reacting to it, sit with the energy and preserve it. A man who can experience his emotions and not deny them, while at the same time not being overcome by them, is truly on the path to being a spiritual warrior. Stillness and breath are so important here.

People who are broken at this chakra can have good ideas and they may express them well, but they don’t have any emotional connection to them. They live in a cold analytical world with the detritus of emotional outbursts surrounding them. People who can only want what others have already are dominated by Envy and broken in the heart.

Fifth Chakra – Dieta for the voice

Speak little and listen a lot. This is powerful advice given by almost every spiritual master I have ever listened to. If we open our mouth and talk too much, then we are spilling our power everywhere. I had a law school professor who did not like it when students would highlight portions of their exam papers. He said, ‘why are you writing things that are not important? If you highlight sections of your answers, I will assume that the rest is not important, and I will only read the highlighted portions” People who are broken at the fifth chakra often give their power away through wrath.

The voice is how men of power make their will manifest in the world. It is through the power of the voice that a single man can influence a thousand of his brothers. But if he wastes this power, then everyone will turn their ears off. The most common waste of power from the fifth chakra comes when we speak in anger. Our tongue become the whip that lashes the people we love. We say what we regret. We speak in polarities and exaggerate our grievances. We cry wolf, complain too much, and eat more words than we wish.

A thirty day dieta of the throat chakra will involve at least a couple hours of silence every day. Maybe you can set aside an hour each day, and this can include your time of meditation, where you do not speak a word. For the rest of your day, practice discipline in your speech. Before just opening your mouth at the first impulse and letting words and power spew out of your mouth, just take a moment to think and bring your consciousness into play. Each word is an energy you are putting out. To what effect?

People who are broken at this chakra often talk a lot about what they neither think nor feel. They are the liars who think they can get what they want or avoid negative consequences by saying things they neither believe nor feel. You know who these people are because they are easy to recognize. Do not be one of them.

Sixth Chakra – Third Eye and the Mind

Your concept of the world you live in is a construct of the mind and this construct is displayed in the third eye. I remember when I first heard of the “third eye,” I wondered whether it really existed. Of course it does. The third eye is simply that organ inside you that produces the three dimensional model of reality that you think you inhabit. The senses all collect data that are transmitted to the third eye, and from this data, your world view is constructed. The mind is also where we receive and often identify with our thoughts. Our dominate thought pattern is called our ego, and we often think that this is who we really are. People who are broken at the level of the third eye give away their power through greed, because the mind always finds a justification for taking whatever it wants.

To illustrate the power of the third eye, think of what happens when you dream. When you dream you create an alternative three dimensional reality in your third eye apparatus, only this time, the input is not your senses. The input is instead whatever it is that powers your dreams. The same for visionary experiences. Typically when we have a visionary experience, our eyes are closed and we have a waking dream in the third eye where we are shown a vision. This happens very often when people are experiencing plant medicines and receive a vision guided by a divine being.

The dieta for the third eye and the mind is quiet. Simple as that. Almost every meditation technique that we learn about involves the quieting of the mind. We are all so enthralled by our own thoughts and we believe them so easily because we think they are our own. A lot of the time, we have such a direct channel from our thoughts to our mouths, that whatever notion crosses our mind, we spew into the world as fact through our mouths. Thus the dieta of the throat and the mind are very similar. If you shut your mouth the thoughts will continue to bounce around in your mind. They will create and generate emotions and urges which activate your other chakras. The power of your mind flows everywhere, and it is in self discipline of the mind that we can gain control over the rest of our chakras. This is why we call self restraint “will power”

The mind is our friend when we use it appropriately, but we are seldom taught to control our own minds. Instead we ask our minds to control us. This is very common in our society because we have all been cut off from our divine guidance system that comes from the Seventh Chakra. The mind, however, is merely a good puzzle solver and also acts like a radio receiver. Thoughts are received in our mind and processed through our personalities.

The mind is very good at figuring out how to get what it wants, but it is not good at all at figuring out what it should want. Our minds are subjected to constant attacks by forces that seek to control and manipulate us by implanting desires in our thoughts. The mind has no value system except that which it is given from external messages. Just think how often you see something advertised that you never thought about before, and as soon as you see it, you think you’d be happier if you had it, and then the mind goes about trying to get it for you. The undisciplined mind is constantly in pursuit of happiness in the world of the ten thousand things. A man who follows the undisciplined mind gives all his power away by chasing after worthless things.

The dieta of the mind will bring you quiet and tranquility. There are two essential parts to the mental dieta. The first is to limit the input streams into your mind. Learn to be a guardian at the gate of what comes into your mind. It is recommended that you turn off all of your social media for this 30 day period. You can go 30 days without the constant mental stimulation of social media. It is also recommended that you limit your news intake. Limit the inputs of negative people, of bad news, of complaints and negativity. For 30 days focus on keeping guard at the entry points to your mind.

The second aspect for the dieta for the mind comes in our meditation. As we develop our mental discipline we learn to quiet our thoughts and observe inside of us where our thoughts are coming from. It is our dominant thought patterns that create our external reality, and so to change our life, we must first learn to dominate the mind. From this practice we learn to release extraneous thoughts without manifesting them through our words or actions. By exercising discipline in our thoughts we learn who we really are. Your daily meditation is key to developing this power.

Seventh Chakra – Divine Connection

The Seventh Chakra at the crown of our heads is where we receive our divine guidance. Most of us have lost our divine connections in this materialist world. Instead of cherishing our connection to God and creation, we wonder if they even exist. People who have lost their divine connection may appear to be very intelligent and effective in the world, but their happiness is hollow, and they never have any satisfaction from what they achieve in the world. The Divine Connection is where we find our sense of value and purpose in the world, and when we act in accord with our higher purpose, we feel happy and fulfilled in our lives.

Ants teach a very good lesson about divine connection. In observing leaf cutter ants in Brazil, it’s amazing to see how each ant acts individually, and is also perfectly connected to its higher purpose. What good would an ant be if it were working on it’s own agenda? Not much good at all. We cherish in our society our sense of individuality, and so we are often loath to surrender our ego to the divine will. This is an aspect of pride, and this is why people give away the power of their divine connection through pride.

If you can humble yourself and learn to discern the divine purpose of your life, and then you allow this to guide you, then it is your divine purpose that will inform your thoughts, and these thoughts will translate into the words, feelings and actions that you take. This divine guidance will thus flow from your seventh chakra all the way to your root chakra, and this makes kind of a loop that you might already see. For when you do your meditation on your root chakra, you can see that it is the energy of your divine purpose flowing uninterrupted all through your chakras down to your root and then this returns back to your diving purpose.

People who are broken at the divine connection have to find their purpose in the world of ten thousand things. They want what they see in the hands of others. They let their thoughts dominate their desires, and they accept influence from all kinds of sources. If you have no connection to divine power, then you are like an ant who is walking about on his own purpose. You can have no power at all when you are thus alone.

Every day for this thirty days you must pray and meditate and silence the mind. Let your higher self inform your thoughts. Feel the divine guidance resonating inside you, and learn to recognize it. You will be rewarded with a system of values that will direct your actions and words. You will learn to assuage your feelings through acceptance and trust. You will learn self discipline for all your chakras through your divine connection.

The Power is All Yours Already – All you have to do is Begin

If you start this dieta right now, in 30 days your life will be completely different. You will no longer be addicted to any substances, you will already be improving your physical health through your improved nutrition. You will already have quieted your mind and your heart, you will have restored your connection to your community and your divine nature. You will have softened your voice. You will see other strong masculine forces as powerful allies in your own mission, and you will not longer waste your energy chasing things through greed and lust. In 30 days you can be a completely different person. You just have to take the first step, and then keep going.

Good luck and Peace.

Knowing Who You Really Are – Lessons for the Yang Warrior

Many of us have often heard it said that it is very important to “know who you really are” as we make your way on our spiritual journey through this world, but have you really have ever had a true understanding of what this means? The essence of “who you really are” is buried under such a mountain of wounds and egotistical constructs that the little voice of your true nature is buried and so difficult to hear. We tend to identify with the ego clutter and lose touch with our true self.

Your Human Nature and your Higher Nature

One of my spiritual teachers was talking the other day about two aspects of ourselves that we have to integrate to understand who we really are. First, we have a Human Nature. We live in a material world incorporated here as Humans, and Humans have needs and desire, fears and doubts, and all kinds of needs and motivations. A large part of our life here involves tending to these demands of our Human Nature. Your Human nature also includes your shadow, and that is the part of yourself that you would rather not look at.

Your Higher Nature is your divine spirit that is incorporated here in the material world. This is the Higher Nature can be accessed when we raise our consciousness up above this material plane. We can connect to our higher nature in prayer and meditation, and we return to our higher nature when we leave this world. But most of us are stuck at the level of our human nature, and this is because we have rejected a part of us that is know as the Shadow.

What is your shadow, really?

You here a lot of talk about embracing your Shadow, or doing Shadow work. But what is this “shadow” that everyone talks about? Really it is simply that part of your true human nature that you do not like. You have feared that your shadow is some terrible set of urges that you really don’t want to know about. But this is not the case at all. At heart, you are a good person who wishes well for yourself and for all beings. Like the spiritist prayer says “May all beings realize their most intimate aspirations.”

But our society teaches us that many of our natural tendencies are bad, and so we bury them and pretend like they do not exist. We whitewash our exterior, and let our insides rot. Human sexuality is a perfect example. It has been so engrained in us that we are bad for having natural sexual desires, that we repress our true inclinations. We start to feel guilty about our natural inclinations, and we don’t want to look at them. This is how something becomes part of our shadow. It is simply that we do not wish anyone to know about our true nature.

And so the continued suppression of our natural tendencies stays in the dark, and there it starts to fester. Unexpressed sexuality creates a wound in our psyche that is subject to spiritual attacks by malevolent spirits. These natural urges, when they are suppressed and left to fester, are perfect entry points for malevolent spirits. And as they enter these wounds they start to do their work, and create truly deviant and unhealthy desires. The case of sexual abuse by Pastors in the American Baptist Church is a classic example. If these people had not so repressed themselves, if they had accepted themselves as they truly are, then they would not have this repressed sexual energy inside them festering. They suppressed these perfectly normal tendencies because they wanted to present a perfect clean image to the world, and thus their integrity was broken, and in this wound of the integrity, perversion festered, and this eventually led to crimes of abuse.

The addiction to pornography that is so prevalent in today’s world is another great example. I read somewhere that the pornography industry makes more money than all of professional sports combined, yet it is entirely underground. But why? Why do people secretly consume pornography? Because they are ashamed of their own sexuality. They have been taught to feel guilty about who they truly are, and so they hide their true nature behind white washed walls, and have a break in their integrity. And so when no one is looking, they sneak off and consume pornography, and this turns into an addiction.

This creates a lot of confusion about our shadows, because once something has festered into such a dysfunctional state, we really do not want to look at it. We then think our true nature is to be this horrible person that wants to do terrible things to people. But that is really only after years of festering. What we all really want is to be loved and to have meaningful loving relationships that are expressed in sexual relationships with people we are attracted to. That is our true human nature, not the diseased perversion of the abusive authority figure.

Look at animals for an example. Most animals are completely free from any concern that they have to hide their true nature. They just are as they are. And so then they really do behave in a pretty normal fashion. Of course, my dog might hump your leg in a display of excessive enthusiasm, and if were to do his shadow work he might need to acknowledge that he likes to hump the occasional leg. He could embrace this aspect of his true nature, and then he could also resist the temptation to hump the legs of people who don’t want their legs humped.

Anyone who has ever walked down the street has seen people to whom they think they might be attracted, and we are, for the most part, perfectly capable of acting appropriately. But we don’t have to be ashamed of our basic nature. It’s ok to feel attracted to people and to acknowledge to yourself that you feel that way. It’s also necessary to keep your actions in check to respect the boundaries of other people. That is the nature of Shadow Work.

So the take away, in people who have not suffered from serious breaks in their integrity left to fester for a long time, the Shadow is really not so bad. Most of us are basically good people who have received bad programming.

Relationships based on Denial of Shadow Cause Stress

In less serious situations than outlined above, failure to acknowledge and embrace our shadows causes us to enter relationships based on our outward appearance and then cause us to suppress our true nature in order to keep harmony in the relationship. I remember when I was working at a bank while also following a medicine path. I had to put on a suit and act like a super conservative banker, when my true self was taking plant medicine and embarking on a spiritual journey. I felt like an imposter in my starched white shirt, and I was terrified that anyone would find out.

A few years into this, I left the bank, and applied to the Florida Bar. Someone decided it would be a good idea to write a little letter to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners and let them know that I was “addicted to ayahuasca” and that I should therefore not be permitted to practice law in the state of Florida. I was very angry at the time, and very afraid. This forced me to appear before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners and explain to them what it was to be a member of the Santo Daime Church, and also to explain to them that my participation in the Church was in no way a danger to society or to my clients. I was very angry about this.

Why was I so angry? I was so angry because I feared I would be rejected if my true self were revealed. I expected to be despised. But I wrote a very good brief backed up by well settled cases, including a unanimous decision by the US Supreme Court involving a similar religion called the UDV, and I presented myself before the Board of Bar Examiners. They sent me a letter giving the the authorization to take the oath of office, and the letter was post marked the day after my hearing. What I had feared the most was rejection, but when the truth came out into the light, it turned out that it was not so bad as I feared.

I am now, in retrospect, very grateful for being pushed out of the closet in this way. Now I have nothing to fear, because the authorities are well aware of the truth about me, and so now I do not have to fear.

We enter all kinds of relationships in which we have hidden our true nature, and then we make promises to behave, either explicitly or implicitly, in alignment with the version of ourself we have presented. I know a lot of people who have to hide their behaviors from their principle relationship or family, because they do not want to get in trouble. Cheating on a spouse is a classic example. A more common one is, for example, someone might hide their alcohol use from a spouse or significant other.

You can see right away how this leads to alcoholism. A person who has an urge to drink and feels like they cannot do so openly, hides their behavior. Once their behavior is hidden in this way, it causes a break in integrity, and then it starts to fester. Such a person will inevitably start finding opportunities to engage in the forbidden behavior until it overwhelms their life.

To know yourself you must love yourself

If you want to know who you really are, you must first love yourself unconditionally. This is the biggest secret to self knowledge. If you do not love yourself, then you will judge yourself, and your natural impulses will be buried. There they will cause hypocrisy and start to fester, and before you know it, you will be dominated by them, and you will be really afraid to acknowledge them. That is how addictions come to hide in denial.

You are a child of God and inherently a good person. If you embrace yourself like this, then you can work on your shadow. Take the example of a person who is tempted to drink alcohol, but hides this from their spouse. If they examined their shadow with the light of love and forgiveness, they would see this in their nature. They might say to their spouse, “hey, I have noticed that I have an urge to drink alcohol when you are not around, and I feel afraid that if you find out about this, then you might reject me.” Then you can look at the urge. Is it bad for you to drink alcohol? Many people say that it’s not bad at all in moderation. You might say I think I’d like to have a beer when I come home from a run, or I’d like to have a glass of wine when I settle down for the evening.

If the person you are in relationship with is not able to handle this about you, you have to ask how you got into relationship with them in the first place. Most likely it’s because you were already hiding the behavior. Thus, when you start to find out and embrace who you really are, you may find that you cause some upset in your relationships. But also you have to be wary, because alcohol can easily lead to addiction. If your spouse is angry because you had seven drinks after work and forgot to pick up your child at a friend’s house on the way home, well maybe it’s time for you to consider your behavior and change. But you can’t do this if you don’t acknowledge it, and you cannot acknowledge your true behavior if you do not love yourself.

The power of forgiveness

The first step to learning who you really are is to commit to loving yourself no matter what you find when you look deep inside. This is like looking through a dark and dusty basement with the flashlight of forgiveness. This is why forgiveness of our sins is so important. This notion of forgiveness is a spiritual truth that has been completely abused by institutional religions for many centuries.

Most people have the notion that forgiveness is something you can give to another person that makes their actions ok. A person sins, and then goes to a priest, and asks for forgiveness, and the priest makes them say some Hail Mary’s and then they are forgiven. But this is not at all how forgiveness works. It is not that Jesus will not let you into heaven unless you ask for forgiveness, it’s that you yourself will not go there unless you love yourself. And the only way to love yourself is to accept yourself as you truly are, and the only way to do this is to go looking in your dark corners and forgive everything you find there.

If you do not forgive yourself in this way, then there will be many aspects of yourself that you do not want to acknowledge or look at. You will turn away and deny these things, and then you will live in a hell of your own creation. You will suppress natural inclinations until they turn into deviant urges, and then you will hate yourself for what you have done. These tendencies will make you an easy target for addictions and obsessions, which once in control of your consciousness are very difficult to get away from.

Healing Addictions and Obsessions

Addictions are powerful patterns of behavior that hide in denial and control your behavior so that you do things that are not in your highest good. The most common addictions relate to substance abuse and food. Others relate to the high of gambling or risky behavior. People can also become addicted to deviant sexual behaviors. The truth that few people want to accept is that anyone can drop an addiction with a simple decision to do so. If you are addicted to cigarettes, for instance, you can right now go and soak your cigarettes in water and simply never take another puff of nicotine again in your life. This is not difficult at all. If you were stranded on a desert island without any cigarettes, but with everything else you needed, you would find it quite easy to quit smoking. This is true of almost any addiction.

Obsessions are similar to addictions, except that they relate to thought patterns. You can be obsessed with attachment or hatred toward another person, or towards an object that you desire. You can be obsessed with order, with perfection, or with anxiety. Obsessions are like addictions, but much trickier to deal with, because they come from inside your own head. There is no way to avoid them by going to a desert island, for instance, because your consciousness comes with you.

So the key to clearing yourself of an obsession is to learn to recognize it. Then as soon as the thought pattern arises in your head, you simply dismiss it. You have to exercise the discipline to not engage with it at all. As soon as the thought comes up, you must identify it, and dismiss it out of hand. You cannot indulge it even for a moment. This can be very difficult to do, but if you succeed, the strength of the obsessive thought pattern will be reduced every time, and your ability to recognize and dismiss it will be stronger every day. Soon you will be back safely in your clear conscience.

Once free from obsession and addiction, and once you have forgiven all that you do not like about yourself, and once you love yourself, then you can begin to act on your natural impulse, and this will become the new dominant voice in your consciousness. You will find yourself naturally inclined to eat foods that bring health and vitality to your body, you will find yourself naturally drawn to positive relationships and naturally avoidant of unhealthy relationships. You will find yourself acting with courtesy and compassion to your fellow beings, but you will not be overly concerned about whether or not they approve of you. You will find your true nature, and that is happy and free.

Peace

Yang Warrior in a world of Yin – Establish your Guidance System

A Yang Warrior must have a clear guidance system to make his way in the world of Yin, and the vast majority of men and women have been cut of from their natural connections. This separation comes from many sources–

  • Institutional religions that teach us to look to other people for divine guidance
  • Governments that teach us to fit into the mold
  • Schools that teach us to obey mundane orders and forget our natural tendencies
  • Addictions that cut us off from knowing what is good for us
  • Toxic relationships where we are bound by guilt
  • Media that encourages us to chase that which will never make us happy
  • Science that insists we are all made of random atomic billiard balls

If you do not have a clear understanding of the purpose of your life here on earth, of the divine forces which created you and everything, of what it is that you should value, then you cannot possibly make good choices about what to DO while you are here. And this is the principle Yang Function. We all need to know how to BE, that is Yin, but we also need to know what to DO, and that is Yang. If you think about this it makes sense. A warrior is valuable only if he follows commands, and those commands are delivered through an internal guidance system, and we have all been severed from our own internal guidance system.

Schools, churches, government institutions, and the media work first by severing your divine connection and then by replacing your guidance system with their own priorities. When you were younger you chased the dreams that were placed before you. They were the dreams of your parents, your neighbors, your teachers and your country. You were encouraged to pursue the goals that were laid out in front of you. You were encouraged to get good grades, get a good job, and build a life based on the model of the American “nuclear family.” You were rewarded with praise and recognition when you made advances in this direction. If you did not fit into this mold, you were diagnosed with some disorder, like depression, or ADHD, or dyslexia, or whatever. You were told by the authorities, your doctor, and your parents that you were defective, and then you were medicated so you would sit quietly in the class room and not cause any trouble.

I remember in fourth grade I was at an Episcopalian day school and we were told by the priest in our sacred studies class that anyone who was not baptized would be doomed to suffer eternally in hell. I was only in fourth grade and my internal guidance system rebelled against this lecture about the importance of the sacrament of baptism. I asked “what about the Amazon Indians?” I was naturally fascinated with the Amazon rain forest as a child, and I had learned a little bit about the people who lived there, and to me it sounded like heaven. I thought why would God create “Amazon Indians” only to damn them to hell for not being baptized. I objected and was sent to the principal’s office for being unruly.

Something inside me broke in that moment. I did not believe what this man was telling me, but every authority I knew, from my parents to my teachers, was holding this man up as the authority of God, and I did not know how to reconcile this. I was never told that I could listen in my own heart and hear the voice of God within me. I was told the opposite, that only crazy and dangerous people thought they could hear the voice of God inside themselves. We were not taught to seek the voice of the divine in our hearts. Instead, the only source of divine instructions comes from a dusty and incomprehensible book that was written in another language 2,000 years ago, and only dusty incomprehensible male priests were able to instruct on the meaning of this book.

It was these institutions that the Master Teacher Jesus Christ was rebelling against when they crucified him. Then these same power institutions, such as the Holy Roman Empire, usurped the name of this spiritual master that they themselves had killed. The divine connection of the individual directly to God that we all used to access through sacred plants and rituals was severed two thousand years ago, and human institutions became the surrogates for the divine. The world was taught that the word of God was delivered to the world only through the infallible pronouncements of individual humans, like the Pope. Anyone who stood in the way or disagreed was branded a heretic, and heretics deserved to be burned at the stake.

No institution in the world has brought more death and destruction to mankind than the Roman Catholic Church. This basic historical fact has been obscured, and it is very difficult to see, because so many people believe that this institution is here for the service of the Divine will in a sea of sinful humans. But we are now learning that Pope Pious XII enjoyed cozy diplomatic relationships with the Nazis and the fascists of Italy, and stood by while Jews were deported from Italy for execution in Germany. Before that the Church presided over the genocide of indigenous cultures in South America, it stood behind the inquisition, the crusades, slavery, and the extermination of millions of women who were branded as witches for offering knowledge of healing and illumination through sacred and medicinal plants.

Even today we are discovering the horrific sexual abuses by Catholic priests of young children, to which the establishment turned a blind eye. But so ingrained in our culture is the notion that this institution stands for the will of God, we still line up for our crackers in the communion line, receiving holy communion in the form of a sterile starch cracker right before announcements and donuts.

Back in ancient times, communion with the divine within came in the form of sacred plants. These powerful entheogenic plants exist throughout the world and give a direct and personal connection to the divine within us. Experience with the Indigenous people in South America teaches us that they know everything about the plants in their environment. With our prejudice against them, we assume they did not know about the power of these plants unless we have direct evidence that they did know. A more accurate frame of reference would be to assume they knew and utilized the power of all of the plants in their environment unless we have direct evidence that they did not. And more than this, they still know today far more than we know.

Their concoctions of poisons alone, for hunting for instance, are amazing. They combine plants to create poisons to kill very quickly small birds, to cause large animals to continue bleeding when shot by arrows, to make monkeys fall out of trees. They have drops that they put in their eyes that give hunters greater visual acuity. They use frog venom applied in small burns in the skin to increase immunity, energy and good luck. They know how to mix plants for all kinds of medicinal effect. Ayahuasca, or Uni as it is called in the Western Amazon, has been known and used as a source of communion with divine realms since time immemorial.

In Africa they have Ibogaine, in Egypt they have the tree of life, in the western deserts they have the Sanoran Desert Toad and Peyote, in Mexico, Northern Europe and the Pacific Northwest, they have psilocybin mushrooms. These plants exist everywhere and they open the door to divine connection. These divine plants were well known in ancient Greece, and when Jesus offered communion to his disciples at the last supper, you can bet that the “wine” and “bread” he served were in fact powerfully entheogenic.

But people with divine connections cannot be coerced. We see this in our own culture when the US Government started the war on drugs in the late 1960s after the psychedelic revolution that started on April 19, 1943 with Albert Hoffman’s bicycle ride. People were waking up to another way of seeing themselves in the world, and this new awareness was spreading like wildfire. Hippies were burning their draft cards and rejecting the mandates of the power structure in this country. Once a person has a direct experience of the divine and sees himself in the eyes of the other, it’s very difficult to persuade them to go to Vietnam and drop napalm on innocent people.
And so the war of drugs was initiated by the criminal Richard Nixon, and all research on psychedelics stopped for fifty years.

The first step to waking up and starting your path as a Yang Warrior in this world of Yin is to see what was stolen from you. This does not mean you need to take a plant medicine at all. There are many Buddhists who spend hours connecting to the divine through prayer and meditation. There are many others that find it in communion with nature. But the first step on this path, is to realize that you need a new guidance system.