Forgotten

I’ve always found it intriguing how a single perspective can become the dominate way of viewing reality. No matter how flawed the outlook, we can become blinded. Eventually we become puppets to the vision, and we lose sight of any alternative. The possibility of stepping back and seeing the bigger picture becomes null.

Every kernel of time harbors an infinite amount of possibilities and events. Each second bears witness to the indefinite and the undefinable. We often forget here on Earth that our lives and experiences only comprise an infinitesimally small fraction of the totality.

Time is relative. The reality in which our consciousness resides is certainly not the bigger picture. It is an extremely limited viewpoint that forms the basis of all suffering. It is a rampant addiction to personalizing all of the pain we endure in life. If such a perspective becomes ingrained at an early age, is there any means of transcendence?

There are moments when something akin to an epiphany intrudes upon the cacophony of our flawed reality. There are moments when we are overcome by an intuition or inspiration that renders our critical conscience useless. We become vessels of the deepest creative powers. These moments constitute true beauty. The incessant drone of that voice in our heads is halted, even if it is only for a moment. Within that single second, the truth becomes apparent. The empty expanse of the page behind the text is revealed.

We perceive ourselves in these momentary glimpses, but is is inherently not our Self that we encounter. We are encountering the crystal depths below the surface of a turbulent sea. This epiphany opens our hearts and minds to the undefinable depths that constitute our true being.

In that single second we see the bigger picture. We understand the futility of maintaining our flawed perspective. In that single blink of an eye, the truth is apparent. And like the sun obscured on a cloudy day, it’s over. And then we forget.

Transience

Dusk was settling in and the fireflies began illuminating our vista with intermittent rhythm. I grasp tightly to the aged, shriveled hand nestled in mine and project our souls into the surrounding dance of light. Mindless, unconcerned, and only existent in a reverie of love, we dance; my Miriam and I. Hearts colliding and minds twirling, our projected essences mingle into one. Our earthly shackles have fallen away: the world weariness and diminishing life that constitutes old age. I look into my beloved’s eyes and find, in this moment, recognition. Recognition and Love.

The receding light of day is a reminder of life’s transitory nature. Our bodies wither, ambition dulls, and eventually our minds fade, similarly to the waning strength of the sun. Returning to earth and the wooden rocker on my front patio, I glance over at Miriam’s flower bed nestled against an old magnolia. The forget-me-nots have been invaded by weeds and neglected by their normally devout caretaker. They were her children, the product of her love and nurturing. Now they had been forgotten, wilting and choked with crabgrass.

My thoughts linger on death, the unavoidable destination people shy away from. When a loved one exits this reality and begins the great adventure, why do we mourn? Is it love? Attachment? We can reason and say that dying is a process of nature and something we should cherish as a facet of life itself. But why do we feel a heartache and grief that keeps us awake at night? Why do our hands shake with sadness when we lift a pencil to write? My darling Miriam is physically sound. Her bodily strength ebbs just as surely as mine, however the degradation of her memories—her heart— is a painful realization greater than death itself.

Twilight deepens and the fiery insects emerge in abundance. Long shadows adorn the lawn, stretching to the front steps like fingers probing for a thing almost lost. The day was over, and the sun diminished. Knowing it was time to retire for the night, I clamber to my feet. I offer my hand to Miriam, our eyes meeting in the twinkling light of fireflies. In that moment, I realize some part of her has finally passed on. Confusion and bewilderment replace the recognition I searched for earlier. A lone tear trails down my old face as I understand. Even love can die.

Note: Researchers have discovered that emotions outlast memories. Victims of severe Alzheimer’s are still capable of increased happiness when meeting friends or family. If you are loved one of such individuals, please know that you DO have an effect. Your affection WILL make a difference. And most importantly, love CAN transcend impermanence.

Under the Cedar Tree

I was surrounded by a thicket so dense I could almost feel the rhythmic throbbing of hearts in every tree. The needles beneath my feet padded every footstep, and my tread was silent. I could hear the birds chirping their songs of joy and sweet content, careening through the skies like angels patrolling the heavens. Dawning bright and glorious, sunlight crept through the branches. I reveled in these sporadic windows of light and warmth. I felt the thrum of life in every direction, and it was invigorating. Good morning Serenity, I thought to myself.

There was a friend hiding somewhere in this forest of cedar trees. My friend and your friend; a friend to us all.  Sometimes I could hear her calling from a limb above my head. Or maybe she was whispering from just behind my back. Every time I looked up or turned around, her kind cajoling ceased to invite me. Her presence wavered in and out of my consciousness elusively, like a guttering candle in the wind. I danced on the threshold of frustration, and somehow I felt that this would be the greatest impediment to my quest. Most could never find their friend in the forest. Some searched, but always in the wrong direction. This friend did not like to hide, for it was not her nature. The wanderers of the forest had merely forgotten how to look.

My passage through the thicket was halted when I met a wounded tree in my path. This broad cedar bore an impressive girth and towered above its neighbors. How lucky I was to witness this goliath; still a King of the Wood however marred his flesh had become. I gazed upon a charcoal wound spanning the diameter of his trunk, stretching from the base to several feet above my head. The King had been a victim of fire, in similarity to how the wanderers had been victimized by life. I had garnered many scars of my own throughout this search for a friend. The forest had dealt its blow in numerous ways, and I grew wary of the endless suffering. Deciding to break from the pain and momentarily renounce my title of seeker, I sat down beneath the cedar tree. Crossing my legs, I thought: There is no place like here and now. 

A lesson can be found within the needles and bark of trees, like the one I was leaning my back upon at that moment. These envoys of wisdom toil with the natural forces of the greater wood, collecting garish wounds in the process. However, they do not suffer from such adornments. The King at my back lived on, healing ever so slowly with lasting remnants of his scar. Yet he did not fight back, for all trees know that scars are inevitable. This unconditional acceptance was captivating and held me in sway. This compliance with the whimsical and unpredictable nature of life was compelling. In an act of capitulation, I turned inwards and yielded to the throes of existence. It was then that I found my friend. She had never been hiding, but merely resting below the surface of where I chose to search. My quest to seek the hand I wished to hold was over, and it ended under the cedar tree.

Hope is a Fickle Thing

The total obliteration of hope within the human consciousness is an uncommon occurrence. There is a strength of will and mental fortitude within the human psyche that keeps our soul and very spirit on top of its game. The nearly indomitable belief that a better outcome is always possible can be likened to faith in the most powerful of senses. However, hope can still be trampled and forgotten, or merely overridden by a plethora of fear and depression.

In this sense, the realization of hope can be quite fickle. It is usually present within our hearts, although humanity has a way of forgetting their most beautiful mutual characteristics. When we are placed in a situation of extreme stress and anxiety, a certain blindness can overcome our good sense. We succumb to the tyranny of emotional turmoil and lose faith and conviction. But hope in the deeper sense is usually present, although sometimes it takes the likeness of a gem buried beneath the rubble.

I’ve noticed an intriguing paradox concerning the concept of hope. One can deny the impetus of this force, and even believe, in all honesty, that its practical uses are few and far between. However, this cannot stop an individual from hoping entirely. We all wish for better times and a brighter future, even when the fruits and bounty of life are served to us on a gold platter. The choice between faith and action is not a necessary decision, no matter the rhetoric some may jaunt.

Hope and faith, in actuality, are the result of positive action. This equation cannot be lived in a one-sided manner. Hope stems from action, and this action, in turn, produces a new infusion of hope. Faith alone may guide us in times of strife and confusion, for it is the fire within us that dreams of what could be; the passionate desire for an idealistic outcome. Yet, this expectation and feeling of desire for a certain thing to happen must be acted upon.

Indeed, hope is a fickle thing, but fickle in the sense that it is always in the process of burial and renewal. We all have that flicker of something beautiful within us; that core of innate longing for an outcome that goes beyond mere survival. A very testament to the will of humanity, hope is our light. It is the mutual drive that propels our society, consciousness, and dreams ever forward.

“To Thine Own Self Be True”

Relationships are often the focus of emotional speculation and sometimes, unfortunately, derogatory criticism. It it my opinion that this outlook stems from a misunderstanding of the mysterious phenomenon called love and an often one-sided view of relationships in general.

In order to develop the correct understanding of love, one must first dissolve any preconceived notion they might have developed from a worldly source, namely the media and the cultural leaders we call celebrities. Secondly, one must understand the three fundamental components of any true relationship. They are also relevant in the context of friendships.

The most vital component of any relationship is sincerity. One must e completely honest to their partner, but to an even greater extent, themselves. Truth of heart, truth of mind, and truth of character comprise the fundamental pillars of this concept.

Integrity is an often overlooked attribute in the development of relationships. Everyone follows their own moral code; a set of ethical standards. Admittedly, this code can vary drastically depending on the individual, however it is there, all the same. Integrity is the willingness of one to adhere to their own conscience.

The final aspect of an enduring relationship is compassion, an almost indescribable force that seems completely at odds with human nature. Love is founded in the deepest compassion. It is the understanding and caring tenderness that occurs in those completely speechless moments of devotion and spiritual attraction, regardless of superficial factors including personal identity.

You can sum up these components in a simple commandment: Be true. You deserve your honesty as much as anyone else, whether applied to friendships, or a deeper relationship. Cultivating your inner characteristics results in a more powerful outward experience. Too many times have I witnessed individuals falling away from each other because of superficial discrepancies, which are only existent as an effect of inner turbulence and misunderstanding. I have come to the realization that ignorance of the true nature of love often predates the collapse of relationships. My message to anyone, whatever form of relationship you may in, is to find a cure for your ignorance. Take those necessary steps to understand. And most importantly, Be true.

Heroic Humanity

Looking at humanity from a detached point of view can be enlightening, yet quite frankly, confusing. At first glance, we seem to be a selfish and fairly materialistic folk. Consider our vain treatment of appearance and the standards of society we deem so important to adhere to. How about our ineptitude in liking someone for who they are, rather than how they compare to us? Some would consider this human nature, with anything greater being a true anomaly. While I am still a dreamer, one who hopes and believes in a better future, it can be difficult to ignore the grim aspects of humanity.

Despite our seemingly inherent egotistical tendencies, there is a deeper character in most humans. This character finds expression in the facets of life that often go unmentioned or undiscussed. This is heroism, an utterly selfless act of compassion that defies our normal self-preservationist mind frame. It is completely voluntary, often involving a particular risk, and is carried out without need for material gain or recompense. Being a hero is more than doing your duty, or following through with something you have been charged to do. Being a hero is about acting without hesitation or fear for your own safety.

The very basis of heroic humanity is founded in altruism. This principle can become a belief or practice, one of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others. Coupled with courage and decisiveness, heroism becomes a true possibility. My goal in life is to be a hero, both in the official and unofficial senses. My goal is to inspire, love, and protect those I care about, as well as to do something truly remarkable for a complete stranger on a daily basis.

Humans are capable of suffering, both enduring and inflicting. We are capable of truly horrendous wars, murder, genocide, and hurt. We are unforgiving when it comes to defending belief and tradition. Despite our total lack of appreciation for our shared humanity, we are always in some form of conflict, either internal or external.

Yet, we are also capable of so much more. We can coexist if we find common ground. We can discover what it means to be a hero, and live our lives in betterment of our brothers and sisters around us. It stands evident that there is something within our hearts, something nameless and profound, that has the potential of uniting us in a brotherhood of humanity. This phenomenon is called love; the very clay of creation. From the words of John Lennon: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”

Be a hero.

The (Un) Discovered Country

There was once a Mother and her many children. Together, they lived and coexisted in a large and frightening world. In the beginning, there was only love and appreciation in their relationship. The Mother provided for her children by growing crops and raising animals. In turn, the children were charged with harvesting the crops, domesticating the animals, and above all, loving their Mother. Throughout many great epochs, this system worked and flourished. The children toiled happily to build a life and the Mother provided everything she could give.

Eventually a time came when some of the children wanted more from their Mother. They worked harder in order to prove their worth, and the Mother provided even more. However, She told them, “I am growing old, my children, and I must have your care in order to keep providing. I must have your love, cooperation, and peaceful intentions.”

For a time, the children heeded Her wish. They cared for their Mother’s well-being and reaped the fruits of their labor. However, this system couldn’t last forever. Several of the children wished they could have even more, at the expense of their siblings. They wished to grow strong and powerful. The Mother did not approve.

And so the time came when these few children asked their gracious Mother for more, once again, in order to fuel a war against their brothers and sisters. As sad as She was, the Mother could not deny Her children what they needed. She provided resources such as iron, steel, and uranium. What could these harsh materials ever be used for? The Mother labored at the coercion of her many children and slowly grew weak with each newly unearthed resource.

And so the war began. The children, for all of their self-justified reasons, were killing each other. The Mother weeped for Her losses, and struggled to keep providing. The children were intent on destroying each other, and She was slowly beginning to grow tired of watching the madness. Her faculties were becoming old and worn out. But still, She continued to love. When the war ended, and the remaining children were few and far between, they appealed to their Mother once again. The bloodshed had left them in far worse shape than they ever could have imagined. This time, they wanted food, water, and peace.

The Mother knew that She could provide little in Her terrible state, and least of all peace. This last request was one that the children must discover on their own. And so She whispered again, deep in Her throes of agony, “Even though I am ravaged, torn, and abused, I will always provide for my children. There is a country where you can find sustenance and joy. No matter how destroyed I have become, this country will always exist. It lies not in front of your eyes, my children, but in your hearts. The voyage to this place requires facing your inner fears and imperfections. It is the true voyage of self-discovery. It is a microcosm of greater possibilities.”

The children weeped for their Mother and regretted their foolish behavior. They watched as She slowly withered and could only provide less and less. They were to blame, the children who failed to provide love and nurturing. Distraught, they ceased any standing quarrels and made a vow. They would no longer wage meaningless wars against each other. They would dedicate themselves to their Mother and to finding this undiscovered country of hope and peace.

Why do we live in such madness?

The Greater Man

A cascade of leaves erratically flies in a gust of wind. Competing forces pull to and fro, sending them in wayward directions. Unplanned, spontaneous, and totally free. Traveling somewhere we can never guess, they present a paradigm of life. In essence, we are all merely leaves, being carried throughout existence by an unseen and greater hand. We all ride the wind, and we all are traversing the same path, with only minor deviations. This force is powerful enough to carry the multitude of our spirits. There is always a breeze somewhere in the world, and this gives insight into the persistency of life itself.

An old man once told me that life is both more and less than we can possibly imagine. We carry out our existence, seemingly with a plethora of complications. Thinking, analyzing, judging, and toiling our minds away. We create an identity for ourselves, a mass of labels and materialistic stickers, and decide we are only going to view the world through a biased lens. We are preconditioned from childhood with a sense of “self” that allows us to judge situations and people on a personal level, and react in the best means of promoting self-preservation. This way of going about life can be useful as a tool, but not as the perfect means of understanding reality.

Sometimes, humans are capable of losing touch with the fundamental aspects of life. Sometimes, we fail to grasp the true essence of what it means to be living, breathing, and experiencing the awe of simple existence. Remember, we are all embodiments of impermanence, such as the leaves the fly together in a gust of wind. Sometimes we place too much emphasis on the time we are alive and forget that the universe still persists after we are long gone. Death before death is the true purpose of our existence. To abolish our simple and flawed perception of a personal life, and to realize the much greater picture is the ultimate goal.

In a sense, the Eastern sages were correct; we are all interconnected, we are One. Even if humanity is not linked by some cosmic, mystical force, we are linked by the everyday moments of life.  Everything we do and everything we say has an impact on countless individuals around us. Our words and actions have an altering effect on the proceedings to come, and our future can change drastically because of it. This broader outlook of cause and effect relationships is vital if we are to transcend egotism and experience reality in its true, unfiltered state.

Our goal in life is to live with integrity. To walk, talk, breathe, and create in utter honesty of our true being. Understanding the greater relationships in life allow one to be true to themselves, and the people they care about. We all have a greater man inside, and he has never abandoned us, regardless of the insanity we are capable of. This man is not your identity, but your state of being, for identity is an exterior construct. Through this state, we are capable of reveling in the awe of riding the wind. We are capable of appreciating the unsolved mysteries of the universe and knowing what true love really means. My final question: have you found YOUR greater man?

Interview with L.M. Aldrich

Author: L.M. Aldrich
Published works: Legends of the Light Bearer: The story left untold

I would like to express my gratitude toward L.M. Aldrich for this enlightening interview. I am honored to have met her and been able to support her publication of Legends. Indeed, our acquaintanceship has evolved into a friendship, spurred mainly by our contact through email. I cannot begin to explain the inspiration and understanding I have received from L.M. We have much in common, but where I can only see one side of the coin, she is bold enough to go all the way. I have made a vow to help spread her wisdom to any interested ears. So please, take to the heart what she had courageously expressed.   

Ty: If Legends of the Light Bearer became a bestseller, how do you think it would be received?

L.M: With passion, both positive and negative.  I don’t think it’s a book that many will find ho-hum. Though I am certainly not the first to challenge conventional thinking, some may see Legends as a step too far.  But as a perceptive reviewer recently noted, this book should be read with the heart, not the mind.

Ty: I know that spirituality has been a great driving force in your life. Do you believe it has the potential to change the world as well? Does faith alone take us all the way or should we strive to uncover the truth about what we know nothing about?

L.M: I try not to use the word belief, because like faith and free will, belief is a risky business if you’ve got it all wrong.  I have met people of faith who don’t adhere to a particular dogma, but simply walk in goodness.  They exude such kindness and tolerance, such purity and peace, you just want them to hold you.  To me, that is spirituality; that is wisdom.  But blind faith to a doctrine or ideology is different.  It is not only unworkable in a complex society, it is dangerous, and too often engenders hate.  Nazi Germany is just one example.  We come into this world wondering who we are and why we’re here, and then we leave it to others to tell us.  That maybe one reason we have continued to make the same mistakes, throughout human history.  So, if we do nothing else, if it is our only reason for being, I think we should absolutely pursue the truth, until we all find a way to walk in the world without destroying it or ourselves.

Ty: In your opinion what is the true, inherent nature of man? Are we greedy and sinful, unable to change, or can there ever be a true salvation?

L.M: Well, Legends suggests that we are all misbegotten, which would explain a lot.  But I am hopeful that we are merely lost.  I have experienced the paranormal since childhood, and what it has shown me is that we are not our bodies.  I’ve heard psychics refer to their ability as a gift, but I would say that the paranormal is our birthright.  It is a manifestation of who we really are—spirit.  Ghosts, astral travel, precognition, bi-location and a whole host of others tell us there is something more than this physical world, something beyond the laws of nature.  With bi-location, for instance, in an instant, your consciousness is transported thousands of miles, and it could be any distance, because you travel faster than the speed of light, which physics is just beginning to show is a real possibility.  So, if we were created in the image of God, I would say that the image of God is spirit.  Though our bodies may do stupid, awful things, inside of us our spirit is divine.  And from the moment we truly understand that and begin to live it, we save ourselves.  Maybe God is waiting for us to find Him.

Ty: Extraterrestrials seem to be an important aspect of your book. If indeed, intelligent alien beings exist, should this be a humbling thought, or an empowering one? How do you you believe humanity would react to the undeniable evidence that this was indeed the case?

L.M: I have no idea how humanity will react, but I would anticipate both humbled in the knowledge that there is so much more to our story than we ever imagined, and empowered by the realization that we are so much more than we ever imagined.  But most of all, I hope we keep in mind that they are us.  If God is spirit, and spirit gives life to all things, then we are all the same, whether we reside in human bodies or alien.  So we should not, we cannot relinquish our will to them out of either fear or awe.

Ty: Do you think our government is being completely honest with its citizens? What could they possibly be hiding from us?

L.M: Of course not!  They lie about everything.  In all of human history, no political, religious or financial institution has ever been completely honest.  They inevitably devolve into cabals, with allegiance to self-interest, sustained by conspiracies.  Right now, we are again standing on a precipice, because of all the lies and abuse of power.  Democracy is perhaps the most enlightened vision of all time, but democracy was not meant to be a fiefdom, and slave labor cannot keep capitalism afloat.  Like Rome, history is replete with the rise and fall of great civilizations, a never-ending story with one main character: greed, whether for wealth or power.  At the end of every calamity, the survivors enjoy a brief moment of hope, and a collective will to overcome and prosper.  Then, predictably, a few rise to the top, and the cycle begins again.  Greed is a mental illness, no different than drug addiction.  The afflicted will sacrifice family, friends and country for the next fix.  And when that is not enough, they want to rule the world.  However, in a democracy, it is not all their fault—we the people need to pay more attention.  I for one am grateful for the 99%’ers.
On the other hand, if you’re asking me if our government is being honest with us about ET’s, of course not!  For me there are only two possibilities, neither of which is very comforting.  If the technology is ours, it would mean that at least since the 40s, our military, or a secret branch of our military, has had enough wealth, power and autonomy to work outside all branches of government, including the Executive branch, except for perhaps Truman and Bush Senior.  But to what end? The technology was futuristic, even in the 40s, and what they have now is mindboggling.  The only other possibility is aliens, although I don’t happen to think they are extraterrestrial.  If both possibilities are true, which I have a hunch they are, then why the truth remains hidden should be of paramount concern to all of us.

Ty: Is humanity becoming closer to God, or are we a doomed society that is deviating away from our spiritual force? Is their hope?

L.M: We cannot be apart from God, if we are a part of God.  We can deny, we can ignore, we can chose not to care, but one day, we will be forced to face the truth.  People who have a near-death experience are forever changed, because they actually experience who we really are.  And when they try to describe the experience, they use only one word: love.  When you are standing in the light, you realize that every cell, every molecule in your spiritual body is made of this purity, this clarity, this loving energy that provides structure to consciousness, and at the same time, is connected to everything there is.  The feeling of belonging and acceptance is indescribable—the peace of it, the infinity of it, the absoluteness of it.  You are part of everything and everyone, and it is all love.  It is not a love directed at you.  It is not a love you give.  You are the love.  You are the love.  There is a feeling of promise, as though this experience is just a glimpse of things to come, and you understand with every fiber of your being that if there is a purpose to our time on earth, it is to bring that love into this world.
I have had a similar experience, and I was not dead or dying, I was merely praying.  I prayed for one thing, understanding, and then I remained silent, and waited.  I don’t recall if it took days or weeks, but one night it simply happened: the tunnel, the light, and with it, understanding.  Have you ever had a bubble of joy, a moment of such intense delight, you felt that every single thing was exactly as it should be? Well, that is what it feels like, but it is a bubble of joy you do not have to covet, because you know it is eternally yours; it is your natural state of being, forever.  All I can say is: the human word, love, cannot contain the magnitude of meaning that comes from this experience, and if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.
There are also those who find themselves in hell, but it appears to be self-imposed, when they realize how far they’ve strayed, not from God, but from the perfection of who they really are.  The contrast is so intense that even the most insignificant sin seems a chasm.  It is painful to realize that you have sacrificed so much for so little.  It also appears that your stay in hell is up to you.  Forgiving yourself must come first, and that is not as easy at might sound.
In the Gnostic Scriptures, Jesus says that God is in you and all around you—God is everything there is.  When we strip away these physical shells, we are standing in the kingdom of heaven.  When you think of it that way, it is difficult not to see us here on earth as children, fighting over toys and who’s the boss of me.  It would be comical if it didn’t produce so much suffering.  There is now enough wealth and technology to ensure a comfortable life for everyone, and yet versions of commercials I saw as a child are still running: starving babies sitting in the hot Sahara sand.  And there is the ever-present threat of a nuclear holocaust.  But to answer your question, there is always hope, because even if we destroy ourselves, again, for better or worse, we are everlasting.  I just wish we would try harder to get it right this time.  Earth is a miracle, our existence on it is a miracle, and yet we treat both like yesterday’s trash.  Heaven may be our natural state of being, but I do not think there is a hell, only shame and sorrow for abusing such a gift. 

—-
If you enjoyed this illuminating interview, you may be interested in my review of Legends of the Light Bearer. If so, you can find it here.
Crisp, Ty (2012) Interview with L.M. Aldrich

True Life

  A muse has bestowed upon me the gift of an insight and after much pondering I am ready to write about it. 😉 I haven’t posted anything philosophical or spiritual for a while as most of my recent musings have been more of the internal, reflective type. That still really isn’t much of an excuse for not sharing. I believe that I should express myself and share what my developing consciousness has to offer because if not, how could I ever be true about myself? After struggling with the words to begin, I am finally ready.

Life as we know it is an illusion.

An awesome way to start, right? It seems so dramatic, I love it. 😉 Actually in truth, it’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds. I am not going to talk about aliens imprisoning humans and placing us in computer created alternate realities just so they can eat us later. Nothing quite so Matrix-y. Although what I do have to say is still pretty serious. Our comprehension of life is definitely flawed. Humans have allowed their minds to triumph over the true joy of living. Most of us are possessed by our egos, the voice in our heads that is constantly in conflict with life. Who would have ever thought that we may be thinking about life too much instead of actually living it?

We humans live a seemingly complex life. I stress ‘seemingly’ because life is in fact simple. We view the very essence of our existence as though it was bagged down by constant constraints and complications. In reality, it’s all in our minds. So no more worries, right? For most people, life is the persistent struggle of gaining and losing. We try to reach some form of fulfillment or satisfaction through our power or possessions. Our struggles are futile. We will never feel fulfilled and will constantly seek more as a means to remedy our feeling of being incomplete. This is because material possessions and delusions of power cannot complete us. They are mental baggage and slowly pollute our Spirit. Only living in harmony with life, and not fighting it, will we be fulfilled and experience true joy, not the illusion we are familiar with.

The central goals of Buddhism are to achieve Nirvana (spiritual enlightenment) and to eliminate suffering. Suffering means that pain is inevitable in life. Birth is painful, sickness is painful, aging is painful, and death is painful. It is painful to experience unhappiness and displeasure; it is painful to want something and not be able to have it; it is painful to have something and lose it; it is painful when a pleasurable experience ends. This is suffering, the conflict our ego constantly puts us through. It does not accept the inevitable pain of life and constantly fights it, causing us to suffer.

If you have finally just realized that you have suffered your entire life, than you are probably in a pretty pessimistic mood right now. But never fear! Suffering is of the ego, but the ego is not of awakened life. 😉 This means there is a way to eliminate suffering and truly experience the joy of life through achieving Nirvana, awakening, or reconnecting with God.

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism are a way of approaching suffering. They are as followed:

1. Life means suffering.
 2. The origin of suffering is attachment (ego).
 3. The cessation of suffering is attainable (Nirvana) (God)
 4. The path to the cessation of suffering (Eight-fold Noble Path)

The Eight-fold path is the path to end suffering- a gradual path of self improvement and finding God. It is as followed:

1. Correct thought: avoiding covetousness, the wish to harm others and wrong views (like thinking: actions have no consequences, I never have any problems, there are no ways to end suffering etc.)
 2. Correct speech: avoid lying, divisive and harsh speech and idle gossip.
 3. Correct actions: avoid killing, stealing and sexual misconduct
 4. Correct livelihood: try to make a living with the above attitude of thought, speech and actions.
 5. Correct understanding: developing genuine wisdom.
 (The last three aspects refer mainly to the practice of meditation:)
 6. Correct effort: after the first real step we need joyful perseverance to continue.
 7. Correct mindfulness: try to be aware of the “here and now”, instead of dreaming in the “there and then”.
 8. Correct concentration: to keep a steady, calm and attentive state of mind.

Nirvana is not a place like heaven, but rather an eternal state of being. I consider it to be another name for God, Goddess, Spirit, Love, etc. It is the end of suffering; a state where there are no desires, and individual consciousness comes to an end. Realization that we are all one spirit connected through God arises. Attaining nirvana is to relinquish clinging, hatred, and ignorance. Its achievement entails full acceptance of imperfection, impermanence, and interconnectedness. It is true life. 😉

In my opinion, one of the most beautiful moments of life is when somebody finds that the truth they were searching for has been inside of them the whole time. Their heart is their own temple and they discovered it through their own means. They are truly on the path to uniting with God/Christ. I find that more and more of humanity are becoming aware that God or Spirit are much more a part of their lives than imaginable. This realization can come from inside AND outside of religion. In fact, many people are turning away from religion as a whole. This does not necessarily mean that they are Godless or sinful, just that they wish to discover truth in their own, more personal way. They wish to be free from dogma and pursue a more intimate relationship with their creator.

As more and more people accept and discover spirituality, the collective consciousness of humanity rises. Spiritually enlightened humans are becoming more frequent. God IS being discovered, even if it seems unlikely at times. As the grip of the ego lessons just the slightest among us, it will try even harder to corrupt our spirits before it is truly diminished. And someday it will be diminished. I guess it could also be considered the return of Christ, depending your beliefs.

Humanity is definitely on a path, collectively and individually. It is up to each individual to accept their part in the interconnected web of life and discover Spirit/Love in their own way. It is up to humanity as a collective whole to rise up and Ascend to a new plain of consciousness, to coexist harmoniously, and to eliminate the unnecessary suffering that constituted a false life. It is up to us, yet it is our choice to seek God and true life.

-Ival Ty Crisp