Living in an Interconnected Universe

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In the Buddhist tradition, there is a beautiful metaphor called “Indra’s net.” Indra, the Vedic/Hindu god of the heavens, has hanging above his home a net that stretches to the edges of the Universe. The net connects all things of the Universe. It is like a spiderweb. And when one strikes a part of the spiderweb, the entire spiderweb vibrates.

Such is the Universe in which we live. It is an interconnected Universe. When one part of the multidimensional web is struck, the entire web vibrates.

When one person makes the journey towards the fullest expression of who they are and only as they could be, the entire Universe begins to shift.

From suejames.com

If you’re digging some of the wisdom I’ve shared in this blog post, I invite you to access your personal connection to the Universe with my Jumpstart Your New Year” e-booklet and meditation audios. ($9 through January 31st; normally $18)

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On Developing a Positive Relationship to Suffering

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It’s been a long while since I have written a blog post. I happen to be developing an e-course on “Living a Sacred, Fulfilling Life” and it seems that Life has been providing me with ample opportunities to move through my own curriculum.

One key idea in that curriculum with which I am being at this moment is transforming our relationship to suffering. As the Buddha realized, it is natural that, as human beings, we experience suffering because having that experience comes along with the grasping/desire-seeking parts of us that are hard-wired after millennia of human evolution. And as a means of coping, we have developed a resistance to the suffering caused by unfulfilled desires.

Even if the resistance automatically comes up, this does not mean that we do not have a choice as to how we react to that resistance and thus, to the suffering. We can begin to transform our relationship to our suffering such that it begins something positive from which we can learn.

So my mantra right now is: “May my suffering bring clarity and lead me back to my truth.”

On the Nature of Recovery

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Today, I dragged myself to the “Heart of Recovery” Buddhist 12-Step group at the Berkeley Shambhala Center. I was resisting going, but with the encouragement of Jon, I just committed to showing up. I am glad that I went because I had a profound realization: I’ve been so focused on resisting and controlling my addiction that no energy was being devoted to my recovery. It was like I was in limbo in my war with myself.

In a text called Cool Water, by William Alexander, he talks about recovery as being a gift that is revealed to you. This made me think of all the ways I have expended energy on curbing my addiction rather than focusing that energy where it counts most: on my Self. I realized that recovery isn’t just about stopping an addiction. It’s about recovery of Self. It is about experiencing the same aliveness, clarity and vibrance inside of myself that I am beginning to experience without the haze of addiction.

All of a sudden, being in recovery wasn’t such a bad thing. In fact, it suddenly became a good lifelong process for recovering and awakening my Self. …

The Starting Point for Compassion

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One of the bodhisattvas that I most love is Quan Yin. Buddhist mythology holds that Quan Yin had an opportunity to achieve full enlightenment. Instead, she forwent enlightenment, saying that she would only cross that threshold when all beings have been freed from suffering. I’ve always seen this as the ultimate act of compassion. Yet, last night, I realized that for her to have achieved that level of compassion for others, she had to have shown the deepest compassion towards herself first.

In an age where we are attempting to do more, and therefore, have more things that we don’t get done, there are more opportunities for us to beat ourselves up. That’s when we need to show ourselves compassion.

The more I love about myself, the more of myself that I make available to others.

The Forgotten Happiness

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The Catholic in me is used to believing, after many recitations, that I am a sinner, so suffering is the lot that we’re supposed to have in life. And if that’s all one has ever believed, then life is something to be survived until one gets into the after-life. In this worldview, there’s very little room for happiness, save for the fleeting goodness one experiences when they do the good work of the Lord… which usually involves some sort of sacrifice.

Here’s a novel idea: What if we really are meant to be happy? I’m very serious. What if I started in a completely different place: that I’m deserving of happiness? All of a sudden, life becomes about connecting powerfully to every bit of delicious beauty found in every moment…. No waiting for the other shoe to drop…. No getting stressed that I’m not there yet…

I don’t want to sound defeatist. Rather, I’m really trying to engage in that old Buddhist meditation for myself where I try to go back and imagine me before my mother’s mother…. It makes me go back to a time before the indoctrination and programming, when life really was genuinely and unadulteratedly (isn’t that an appropriate word: “un-adult-erated”… the undoing of our becoming adults, i.e. becoming like children again) happy.

What was life really like before all of this, … before the first time we were told we didn’t fit in, … before we were told not to be bad?… I suspect that there resides a happiness we’ve forgotten….

May All Be Happy, Whole, and Complete!

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This morning, I returned to a practice that has been my anchor through good times and bad: meditation. Lately, I haven’t given myself the space to be able to be with Life,… to be still and with the Divine in a palpable way.

I took the Buddhist Lovingkindness Meditation and modified it a little bit and found myself reflecting on the following:

May I be Happy, Whole, and Complete!

May (specific person’s name) be Happy, Whole, and Complete!

May all be Happy, Whole, and Complete!

I kept on saying it over and over to myself, replacing the name in the second line with different people in my life. I loved this meditation, because it began with extending Compassion to myself and ended with sending Compassion to the world.

May all be Happy, Whole, and Complete!