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The Journey of ‘S’elf Discovery

by Robert Meagher on 10/02/20

Photo Credit: pexels.com - Valentin Antonucci

In Richard Harvey’s 3-stage model of human awakening, the first stage is all about the journey of self-discovery. The ‘self’ this stage speaks about is the true, authentic self. It is often spelt ‘Self’ in spiritual teachings, with a capital ‘S’.

What is this journey of ‘S’elf discovery? What does the journey look like? How does one travel on this journey? Where does the journey end? And what does one discover at the end? Who and/or what is this true, authentic ‘S’elf?

What is this journey of ‘S’elf discovery? The journey of ‘S’elf discovery includes a process of shedding early life conditioning. This early life conditioning is poignantly adopted from childhood. Our early years are formative and they can leave an indelible mark on us. This early life conditioning is carried forward into our adolescent and adult years. The result is a contracted adolescence and adulthood. We carry around remnants of our early life conditioning and don’t move fully into adolescence or adulthood. We are actually living a ‘kid-olescent’ and ‘kid-ult’ existence (kid + adolescent = kid-olescent; kid + adult = kid-ult). The kid-olescent and kid-ult are chronologically mature, but they are not psychologically mature. The result of this ‘kid-escent’ or ‘kid-ult’ existence are behaviors, reactions and decisions that are psychologically immature. The kid-olescent and kid-ult allows their early life conditioning to infiltrate their existence and keeps them tied to their early life experiences. Until the kid-olescent and kid-ult sheds their early life experiences, they are subject to a limited life—a life limited by beliefs of who they think they are, what they think the world is, and what they think their place is in the world.

What does the journey look like? The journey of ‘S’elf discovery is a lot like ‘peeling the layers off an onion.’ Our early life experiences result in the building up of layers of protective covering that grew as a result of our sense of danger and a need to protect ourselves from what we thought was going on around us. As each layer of the protective child-hood covering is peeled away, scars are revealed. The sensation can be like ripping a band-aide off a festering sore. Eventually the scars heal, however, until the next layer is peeled away. You may notice, however, that as each layer of the onion is peeled away, the core of the onion becomes a lighter and lighter color. So too is the journey of ‘S’elf discovery. As we shed more and more of our childhood conditioning, our story becomes more bathed in light. The brighter the light becomes, the purity of our true, authentic ‘S’elf starts to reveal it’S’elf.

How does one travel on this journey? There is no one way to travel on the journey of ‘S’elf discovery. Each one must find his/her way. Most people never find the courage to undertake the journey. But for those that do, there are many decisions to make along the way. Do I go this journey alone? Do I work with someone? Is there a community of people who could support me through the journey? The Way of Sacred Attention teaches there are three pillars of personal and spiritual growth and development: the teacher, the teaching, and the sanga, or spiritual community. The journey of ‘S’elf discovery is similar. One can benefit from a teacher (or therapist, or healer), a teaching (a method or modality), and a sanga (a community of people that can support the seeker on their journey).

Where does the journey end? The journey of ‘S’elf discover may never end, as we hopefully continue to learn about ourselves our entire embodied lives. However, at a point we realize all the beliefs we held about ourselves, the world, and our place in the world, have changed. We realize we are not the person we thought we once were. We arrive at this point through forgiveness, in the spiritual sense. Forgiveness arises as a practice of letting go of the past with the realization that what we thought happened to us never actually did—it only happened in our mind. It did not happen in truth.

What does one discover at the end? This is a very personal question. Not everyone discovers the same things. But there are some common themes that emerge for those who have shed their early childhood conditioning. Those who have emerged from their early childhood conditioning have done so because they have learned how to forgive. They have risen into the heart space that is filled with love, harmony, compassion, and joy. The tell-tale sign of someone who has shed early childhood conditioning is they have rediscovered a sense of peace in their life. What we may discover at the end is our true, authentic ‘S’elf.

Who and/or what is this true, authentic ‘S’elf? Our true, authentic ‘S’elf is devoid of attachment to anything or anyone. We no longer cling to our story. We no longer find value in the past and all that it meant to us. We jettison our story of early life experiences. We hold on to nothing. We learn to live in the eternal ‘now.’ While we may plan for the future, we accept whatever happens, not what we may have planned for or wanted to happen. Our relationships are not based on what we need or want from the other person, but what we can share with the other. Our true, authentic ‘S’elf learns that in giving we receive and that the only thing worth giving is love. Alas, we realize that the only thing we want to do with love is to give it away. We rest in peace knowing that this love will return to us, because we have given it away.

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.


Allow Things To Go Where They Need To Go

by Robert Meagher on 09/02/20

Photo Credit: Pexels.com - Startup Stock Photos

As some of you may know, I facilitate numerous online study groups each week. These study groups bring together an eclectic mix of people from North America, Europe and beyond.

These study groups gift those in attendance with a rich discussion and sharing. The variety of views is astonishing at times. While there is much alignment among the participants, sometimes there can appear to be disagreements about what is shared.

I usually begin each gathering with a piece of poetry, then a few minutes of silence, as grounding meditation, and then we move into the evening with a reading. The remainder of our time together is used to reflect on the reading. People share their questions, comments, reflections and inquiry.

As the sharing portion of the gatherings unfold, sometimes the discussion can go in interesting directions. Usually the discussion meanders and bounces around. Sometimes I attempt to bring the discussion back to the focus of the initial reading. Sometimes I don’t. I have received comments from participants, outside of the study group gatherings, that discussion sometimes get off topic and that they would prefer the discussions remain focused on the topic at hand.

As the years have rolled on, I am becoming more and more comfortable allowing the discussion threads to take us where they need to go. Granted, even I have limits on where the discussion may take us. But I am a patient man and will at least, initially, allow most any discussion to be brought into the gathering. What I have learned is that discussion threads take us where our healing is needed. If we truly learn how to listen, there are healing words offered in any discourse. We simply need to learn patience.

In a recent gathering, one of the participants chose to share a personal experience of how they dealt with their fears. This person’s sharing about fear was not directly related to the initial reading. However, there was one small snippet of their sharing that touched me at a soul level and provided much healing. Others in the group also expressed their gratitude for this sharing on how to deal with fears.

I have witnessed all too frequently that the words that are spoken in the gatherings are of healing to at least one other person in the meeting space. The words we speak will always resonated with someone. That is why they are spoken. I remember one particular gathering where there was a rather vocal and boisterous sharing that resembled a preacher standing on the pulpit in a church spouting off biblical verse after biblical verse. While most of the people in the gathering cringed at the discord, there was one person who later (after the gathering) shared with me that they received much healing from the ‘preaching.’

It has been said that If we truly learn how to listen, everyone becomes our teacher. Every word that is spoken can offer something to someone. The key is patience. Sometimes the person speaking themselves is the person who needs to hear the healing words. Sometimes the act of speaking our mind is healing in, and of, itself. Often times, the healing is extended to those around us too.

Be patient and kind with others. Allow, even facilitate, them to say what it is they need or want to say. You may be surprised where your listening takes you.

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.

An Endless Cacophony of Worthless Activity

by Robert Meagher on 08/02/20


Photo Credit: pexels.com - Aleksejs Bergmanis

This past month has felt busy. There has been an endless list of things to do. My days felt more full than usual. Most days I would look back over the list of things I wanted to do, to realize they did not get completed. The uncompleted items would be added to the ‘to do’ list for the next day. And so, it went for much of the month.

During one of my welcomed day-long bike trips one weekend, I reflected on my busyness. I actually enjoy having a lot of things to do. And I enjoy even more the sense of accomplishment associated with getting a long list of items scratched off my ‘to do’ list. But sometimes that ‘to do’ list becomes a source of discord.

As I peddled my way along the beautiful roads and pathways on a brilliantly-beautiful summer’s day, I was struck by the meaninglessness and worthlessness of my busyness and, in particular, my ‘to do’ list. Oh yes, there’s a certain practicality to life. There are some things that must be done—brushing one’s teeth, going to the grocery store…to name but two simple necessities. But when I look at my ‘to do’ list with a decerning eye, most of the things on the ‘to do’ list could go without ‘doing’ and the world would not come to an end.

Most of the items on the ‘to do’ list is a cacophony—a harsh discordant mixture of tasks—of worthless activity. I can create a very convincing argument for wanting, needing even, to complete the tasks. But when it comes down to it, not completing the task won’t have a significant affect on my life. In truth, none of the items on the ‘to do’ need doing at all!

There is a beautiful lesson from a spiritual teaching that speaks of the healed mind not planning.[1] The teaching does not condone not planning. On the contrary, planning can have very practical and useful applications in our lives. For example, making a grocery list can be a helpful task when it comes time to go to the grocery store—when we arrive at the grocery store, we have a pretty good chance of getting what we need.

However, what the healed mind realizes is the reason we plan and make the ‘to do’ list. We plan and make the ‘to do’ list because we are afraid of what would happen if we didn’t plan. The healed mind understands the underlying impetus for needing or wanting to plan.

Is having an endless cacophony of worthless activity bad? Is having a ‘to do’ list bad? Is planning bad? Certainly not! So long as one is open to what life actually gives us, in amongst our planning, then plan away. The healed mind understands that when we plan, God laughs!

 

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.



[1] A Course in Miracles

Choose Once Again

by Robert Meagher on 07/02/20

Photo Credit: pexels.com - Subin

Last month I dealt with a situation simply by choosing once again. In this situation that was causing me some dis-ease, I chose to shine some light on it and see it differently. Sound mysterious? It wasn’t. It was rather easy, and natural. Let me explain further.

Have any of you heard of PayPal? If so, perhaps you have had experience using and working with this online payment service. I have been using PayPal for my ministry work for almost a decade.

After almost a decade of using PayPal, last month I started to get requests for documentation from PayPal. I found these requests a bit odd, given that I had been using this account for almost a decade and had never had any such requests from PayPal. I began to provide the requested documentation. As each request was filled, another request for other documentation would come forth. Sometimes PayPal would ask for more detailed documentation and something PayPal would ask for other information. At some point PayPal indicated they may place restrictions on my account until they received the documentation they requested.

This situation went on for several weeks. It started to become frustrating when I would be asked to resubmit the same information I had already submitted. I became aware that different PayPal representatives were asking for information from me each time. It appeared that whatever issue PayPal was trying to address, different people were communicating with me that clearly had not been privy to the communication I already had with other PayPal representatives. The result of this multi-faceted approach to problem solving by PayPal was that I sometimes had to repeat the communication I already had with a representative.

The longer this situation went on, the more frustrated I became. Until one morning…

When I awoke, my first thoughts were about the unfolding situation with PayPal. All my frustrations came bubbling to the surface. But another thought also came bubbling to the surface. I asked myself… “What if I’m not seeing this situation correctly? What if PayPal is actually trying to help me? It seems like an odd way to help someone, but what if???”

As I sat with these questions for only a minute, my thoughts about the situation started to change. I began to see that all the requests by PayPal were not negative, or bad, or even frustrating. I began to see how the experience was actually helping me to better understand how PayPal worked and how I could make PayPal work better for me. By the time I left my room, only a few minutes later, I was excited about these new insights and somehow felt like the problem had been solved for me.

About an hour later I turned on my computer to start my workday. Greeting me in my email inbox was a message from PayPal stating that the issue with my PayPal account (for which there never was a clear description of what the issue was!) was resolved and my account status had been returned to normal.

It felt clear to me that the resolution to whatever the problem was, had nothing to do with the documentation I had provided (or not). The resolution to the problem was my choice to see the situation differently. In this case, once I began to see the situation as something other than threatening, a new possibility emerged. I began to see the situation as something that could help me. Ultimately, my vision changed from one of fear to one of love.

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.


Are You Experiencing Suffering? Or Are You Suffering Your Experience?

by Robert Meagher on 06/03/20


So…here we are! Smack dab in the middle (a metaphorical expression) of what has been labelled a global pandemic. This surely must be fertile soil for suffering! Or is it? The currently evolving situation reminds me of the somewhat-whimsical Buddhist parable about suffering:

The student runs to the spiritual teacher. “Teacher, teacher,” says the student. “I am experiencing suffering.” After listening to the student’s tales of woe, the teacher responds, “You are not experiencing suffering. You are suffering your experience.”

The first change I experienced in my life was that my local recreation center closed. I would faithfully go to the center on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a noon-hour swim. I had been swimming laps for more than 40 years. Now, all of a sudden, I couldn’t. What was I to do?! After a couple of days I adjusted to this new state of being with an acceptance that, for some reason that has not been revealed to me yet, life (my name for God) does not want me swimming at this time. I dusted off my yoga mat, resurrected some of my Yin, Hatha, and Ashtanga flows, and designed some brand new cross-training workouts I could easily enjoy from the comfort of my home and that would keep my healthy and fit.

The next change to my lifestyle was I could no longer go to the grocery store and simply walk in to the grocery store. I now had to wait in line to get in. Public health authorities were limiting the number of people allowed in the grocery store at any one time, and this meant I would sometimes be faced with having to wait to get into the grocery store, if the store capacity had already been reached. After a couple of occurrences of waiting in line, I accepted this new experience as an opportunity to welcome a new meditation session in my day. I would often wait for 15-30 minutes to get in the store. What better way to pass the illusion of time than to ground myself, get peaceful, and meditate—yes, while standing, waiting in line to get in the grocery store.

The next change to my lifestyle was caused when our neighboring province closed its borders to our city. I live in a city that is situated on the shores of a river. On the other side of the river is another province. The river is only a few hundred meters across and is spanned by several bridges. Police had set up posts on each bridge and were stopping all pedestrians, cyclists and motorists from crossing the bridges and entering the other province. This situation was initially quite a jolt for me. I am an avid cyclist and the terrain on the other side of the river is outstanding for cycling. I quickly accepted that given the predicted trajectory of the evolving pandemic, I would not likely be cycling on the other side of the river for the upcoming season. I turned my attention to other options to enjoy cycling for the season. I realized that I had never explored the towns and villages south of the city. When I researched cycling options south of the city, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that there were many hundreds of kilometers of dedicated cycling paths that offered the cyclist many options for short-, medium-, and long-distance cycling rides. I am looking forward to discovering all the new pathways this upcoming season.

The preceding anecdotes are only three examples of how I was able to look at a situation differently and transcend suffering. In each situation, I did initially feel sadness, frustration, and even anger. I felt like something was being taken away from me. In each situation I asked myself “How is my sadness, frustration and/or anger helping me?” In each situation the answer was “It’s not!” And I proceeded to look for others ways to get physical exercise or adjust to a new way of living.

Adjustment was key for me. I needed to change. In the case of my recreation center being closed and not being able to go swimming, I needed to change the form of exercise I did in order to stay physically healthy. My ability to adjust to the change was only possible through an acceptance of life on its terms. If I resisted the change, then I suffered. But if I accepted the change, I opened the door to opportunities for peace.

As the Buddhist teacher imparted to the student in the parable that started this article, it wasn’t about experiencing suffering. It was about choosing, or not, to suffer my experience. I chose not to. And that choice allowed me to accept what life was offering me. And the acceptance of what life was offering me, removed suffering and offered peace.

 

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.


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Shanti, Namaste, Agapé,

Rev. Robert Meagher
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