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I have nothing more to say, and I couldn’t be happier!

by Robert Meagher on 12/03/18

When I was a little boy, I learned how to speak English. Speaking became my primary way of communicating with others. I was taught how to communicate verbally so that I could interact with others and let my needs and wants be known.

As I grew into adolescence, I was taught how to refine my speech to fully express myself. Expressing myself in verbal speech spilled over into the written word. As I progressed through adolescence and entered into the world of higher education, expressing myself verbally and in writing became encouraged, prized, and rewarded. I remember during one particular university semester, several different professors encouraged me time and time again to “Write more, go deeper. I want you to express yourself more fully and deeply.”

After graduating from university, entering both adulthood and the workforce, written and verbal communication took on a life of its own. Writing and publishing articles and books, speaking at conferences around the world, all became the new norm. The expectations grew and so too did the stakes!

All through my youth, adolescence and adulthood I was oriented toward silence and stillness. Secretly I pondered solitude in all its glorious possibilities. As I raced my way through my career, and enjoyed more success in my written and verbal communication, inside I was conflicted. I never understood what all the fuss was about regarding the written or spoken word. And public speaking was losing its luster. All around me was the messaging to ‘speak up!’ Professional endeavors at the time also confronted me with the ever-increasing opportunity to defend my views and enter into dialogue that was nothing more than conflict veiled in the name of professional development and advancement. I was tired of it all!

In 2009 when I left Corporate Canada, I discovered a way through life that allowed me to embrace silence, stillness, and solitude. And yet, even in this new, very different, milieu there remained the ever-present call to verbal and written communication and dialogue that sometimes was, once again, conflict veiled in the name of development and advancement.

The transition from Corporate Canada to ministry since 2009 has allowed me to let go of so much, including my need to engage in the societal norms and expectation regarding verbal and written communication. Yes, I still write. Yes, I still do public speaking. I facilitate many groups each week. But all this communication is offered in service to the Divine, rather than ego-aggrandizement. I am becoming less and less interested in casual conversation and I am completely disinterested in any form of conflictual dialogue and defense.

Many have written about how intimacy and communion thrive in silence and stillness; people like Anthony Storr, Michael Harris, Robert Kull, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, May Sarton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ruth Haley Barton, Richard Harvey, et. al. I experienced this first-hand on a ski vacation to a very popular ski resort in Canada, Whistler Mountain. One day I took the chairlift to the top of Whistler Peak, found a secluded spot and just sat there! With stillness all around me, and the wind whistling, I found a profound presence in the stillness. It was as if the wind was speaking to me. There was presence in solitude. There was sound in silence.

This intimacy and communion with life, through silence and stillness, I offer to the Divine in sacred service. The primary means for this offering are the psychotherapy practice and groups I facilitate. I am given the opportunity to listen…to truly listen! True listening embraces a shared experience, a felt experience with the other. Listening to their voice, listening to what their gestures and physical movements are telling me. If I listen carefully enough, a connectedness and synergy arises. A truth emerges.

Today, I am far more interested in listening than speaking or writing. I am more interested in stillness, silence, and solitude. In stillness and silence is everything I need and want. Solitude is not about whisking myself away to a secluded space or place. Solitude is about coming to rest in peace in my true, authentic self. I can easily be in solitude among 100 people as I can in an isolated setting 100s of miles from civilization.

Alas, in truth, I am coming to rest in a very peaceful place of knowing that I have nothing more to say…and I couldn’t be happier!

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Psycho-Spiritual Psychotherapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.

We Learn by Teaching

by Robert Meagher on 11/02/18

There is an old saying, “We learn what we want to teach. And we teach what we want to learn.” A recent experience made this wonderful teaching come to life.

I have recently been blessed to teach English to students of other languages (TESOL; what used to be called ESL). The students of other languages in this case are Chinese children between the ages 6 - 12. A given student’s ability to speak English varies widely. Fortunately, the classes are always one-on-one and provide ample opportunity for focused attention on the individual student’s needs.

With few exceptions, classes focus on speaking English, saying words and short sentences. More advanced students are encouraged to engage in conversation and expand their vocabulary. For a lucky few, grammar is brought into the class environment.

Being a native English speaker, speaking and writing in the English language feels quite natural. However, something that has never felt natural to me is English grammar. Subject, object, predicate, adjective, verb, adverb, conjunction, etc. Sometimes it feels like I am speaking another language when I start to use grammatical terms. Needless to say I have struggled with grammar much of my life. For the most part I memorized the rules but it never came natural to me. So when the opportunity to teach grammar to Chinese children presented itself, memories of my own struggles with grammar came rushing in.

But this time around, something quite interesting emerged. As I prepared myself to teach grammar, I ended up teaching myself (stated with the utmost humility). The more I taught grammar, the more I learned grammar. And the more I learned grammar, the more respect and appreciation I had for grammar. And the more respect and appreciation I gained for grammar, the more I enjoyed it.

The experience brought the ancient teachings come to life: “We learn what we want to teach. And we teach what we want to learn.” Perhaps more importantly, I was reminded of the teaching that we and others learn by what we are teaching. If we teach love, we and others learn love. If we teach joy, we and others learn joy. We learn whatever it is we are teaching. The implications for everyday life are profound.

How do we walk through life? What are we teaching? What are we learning?

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Psycho-Spiritual Psychotherapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.

Letting go of the last vestiges of the world as I know it

by Robert Meagher on 10/02/18

Ten years ago I was living a very different life than I am today. Ten years ago I was at the zenith of my corporate Canada career. I was serving as a Division Head in a prominent company making a 6-figure salary. I lived a fast-paced life. I lived a life full of plenty—plenty of responsibility, plenty of stress, plenty of material possessions, plenty of debt, and plenty of ego-appeasing rewards.

Amidst the fast-paced living and life of plenty was a festering and growing awareness that I was unhappy. Even though I tried to blame everything and everyone around me for my unhappiness, I knew at a deep level that my soul was dying. And I knew that if I did not change my life, not only would I never be happy, but I had a sense (albeit delusional) that my soul would die. My fear of change had lessened to the point that I was now more afraid of my life staying the same.

So in August 2009, I did the unimaginable. I left corporate Canada—all its appeal, all its societal accolades, all its monetary rewards, and all its entrapments. I decided in August 2009 to set myself adrift and explore a new way of living and seeing the world I was living in.

Within 1 month of my departing corporate Canada, my extraordinary transformation accelerated. I was guided to ministry and to re-initiate my study of psychology. First came my study of theology and divinity that led to my ordination as an Interfaith Minister the following year. In parallel, I began studying psycho-spiritual psychotherapy and was eventually certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy Therapist in 2015.

During the 6-year period from 2009-2015, I sub-consciously and unconsciously divested myself of much of my way of life prior to 2009. As new ways of living and seeing the world I was living in came into focus, an entirely new way of living started to take hold. As the years went on I felt and grew more in alignment with my true, authentic self and calling. A trust in life grew over me that allowed me to experience more peace in any one day than I had experienced in the entire 40 years prior to leaving corporate Canada in 2009.

But one last reminder of my corporate Canada days hung around, and that was my debt. My lifestyle prior to 2009 was one that not only numbed me into complacency but made me think that it was quite normal to have debt. As my lifestyle began to change significantly, post 2009, so too did other factors, like income. It became less and less likely that my debt would be paid off under my new lifestyle. So what to do?

Of the numerous options available to bring all aspects of my life, finally, into alignment, I chose an approach to financial restructuring that allowed me to divest myself of my debt. It was an emotional decision to take the approach I did and it was blessed with many gifts of awareness and opportunities to deepen into my inner work to unravel the teachings being offered to me.

Yes, there was guilt. Yes, there was shame. Yes, there was relief. Yes, there was the myriad of sensations and feelings associated with having lifted a very heavy burden off my back—one that had been hanging around for more than a decade. But another awareness came to the forefront that took precedence over all else.

The decision to divest myself of my debt from my corporate Canada days was a final step in letting go of the last vestiges of the world I once knew. I now felt in full and complete alignment with a new way of living and seeing the world I live in. The alignment was freeing. In part because a perceived burden had been lifted from my shoulders, but more so because now I was living in alignment with all other aspects of my life.

I was reminded of the ancient teaching that when what we say and what we do is not in alignment, dis-ease results. I realized that for many years following my departure from corporate Canada I was still in a state of dis-ease because what I was saying and what I was doing was not in full alignment. While the initial steps to bring myself into full alignment, to let go of the last vestiges of the world as I knew it, was bumpy, what has come out on the other end has been freeing, rejuvenating, grace-filled and full of divine peace worthy of our Creator’s love for all of life.

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Psycho-Spiritual Psychotherapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.

The thin line between truth and illusion is not a spiritual experience

by Robert Meagher on 09/02/18

One Saturday last month I enjoyed a daytrip on my bicycle. I headed out early in the morning with food and water for the day. I so enjoy my daytrips on my bicycle. It’s ‘me time’ and I revel in getting out in nature and embracing the stillness that only nature can provide.

This particular day was a quintessential summer’s day. The sky was blue, with the occasional wispy cloud passing by. The temperature was a comfortable 28 Celsius (or 85 Fahrenheit). There was some humidity in the air but it served as a constant and soothing presence that bathed my body in its warm embrace, like nectar for the soul.

After biking for a few hours, I stopped at a popular park that overlooked the Ottawa River. I found myself a quiet spot on the shore of the river, and sat on a large root outcropping from an enormous tree that offered me some shade. In the backdrop was a park that was bustling with activity—people swimming at the beach, families picnicking, people playing baseball, tennis, frisbee, and a host of other activities. There was a section of picnic tables that were full up with people and families enjoying a summer’s feast. I smiled at the scenes and rejoiced in the joy of the setting.

Letting go of my focus on what was happening behind me, I turned back to look out over the river and what was beyond the other side. The river was very wide at this point, as least 2kms across (or 1 mile). I remember looking up and seeing the blue sky and began to tap into the sensation of the expansiveness of the sky. As I lowered my gaze to the shore on the other side of the river, what was in the distance on the other side of the river became the horizon.

As I continued to look out over the river, I reveled in the sensations of the warm summer air embracing me. The warmth wrapped itself around me and carried me into a place of peace and stillness that was pristine and pure. As I sunk into this peace and stillness, I became aware that the sky continued to expand, while at the same time the horizon started to shrink. The sky kept taking up my vision and the horizon kept getting thinner and thinner. This vision continued until there was the sky, there was the water, and all that was separating them was a very thin line that, I was consciously aware of, was the horizon. At the apex of this vision, the horizon almost disappeared and the water and sky started to merge.

I sat with this vision for a minute or two. I remember turning around at the scene unfolding in back of me and everything was as it was before—bustling with activity. I turned back to look out over the river and all there was to see was the ever expanding sky and the water, with only a thin line, a sliver, of a horizon.

I turned around again; still the unfolding bustle of joy happening behind me. I turned back to the scene in front me; still the ever-expanding sky and water, with only a thin sliver of a horizon; and the water and sky merging.

I had a thought, an awareness, that my vision was showing me something else, a window on another reality. But was it truth? Or illusion? And what about the scene unfolding in back of me—the bustling activity in the park? Was it truth? Or illusion?

What was unfolding in front of me, and behind me was both truth (or reality) and illusion. It was truth (or reality) for me, in that moment. But, ultimately, it was illusion, as it was being seen through my body’s eyes. Anything I see through my body’s eyes is my truth, my reality. But anything I see through my body’s eyes is as a result of perception. And perception is only possible through the body’s eyes. My vision of the water meeting the sky was not a spiritual experience. Spiritual experience is not of this time and space, and not something that is seen with the eyes, heard with the ears, tasted with the tongue, smelled with the nose, touched with my appendages. Spiritual experience is beyond the body; it is ineffable.

A Call for Love: You Get Angry, I Get Curious

by Robert Meagher on 08/02/18

I used to avoid conflict. Sometimes I would go to great effort to avoid conflict. Conflict was a very uncomfortable space and place for me to be in, so I would often do whatever was needed to avoid it. This avoidance could manifest in a variety of forms, but my two favorite ways to avoid conflict were to either remove myself from the conflict or try and placate the situation to calm the waters. 

Removing myself from the perceived conflict would often manifest as saying nothing and physically walking away from any perceived conflict in progress. Another example is I would physically cross the street or change my direction, chart a new course, if I perceived any form of conflict up ahead. This was merely another symbolic form of removing myself from, or avoiding, the perceived conflict.

Placating the situation to calm the waters was a favorite strategy of mine to avoid conflict. Not only was I trying to avoid the conflict, but I would get an egoic rush when I thought I had successfully stopped someone else from fighting. I thought I was being successful and / or useful when I stopped others from fighting. This was born out of my early childhood conditioning to try and fix others and to make things better.

Conflict is still not the most comfortable environment for me to be in. I certainly do not consciously seek out conflict. But I no longer avoid conflict or conflictual situations. When my perception of conflict arises, something quite different unfolds now.

Present in any conflictual situation I encounter, is anger. I have come to recognize and observe two immutable laws of anger. First, I am never angry at what I think I am. Second, anger is simply my ego’s way of trying to make someone else feel guilty for my own inner pain and grief. So when dealing with anger, my first line of inquiry may always be: “What am I really angry at?” and “What am I covering up?”

Anger is also my ego’s default mechanism for trying to control people and situations. Think about it; when I get angry, I am trying to change the outcome of whatever is being presented to me. My anger may be a way of trying to overpower, distract, persuade, manipulate, or change another person or situation—all thinly veiled attempts to control other people and other situations.

Ultimately my anger, as a tool for control, is my window and mirror on my fears. What is it I am trying to control exactly? Someone else? A situation? Why can I not accept someone as they are? Why can I not accept a situation as it is? Why do I need to control others and other situations? Very simply, because I fear losing control. I fear the feeling of not being in control. I fear letting go. I fear not knowing. I fear the unknown. I fear my own demise. I fear my death.

So when I am present in a conflictual situation, of which anger is rooted, I am aware that whatever seems to be the source of my anger is not the real source of my anger; I am merely projecting my anger out on to whatever is presenting itself to me. And I am aware that I am merely trying to get rid of my anger and avoid taking responsibility for what it is I am experiencing—thinking, seeing, doing, and feeling.

This awareness allows me to start to get curious. What is at the root of the anger? What is this person (myself perhaps) trying to project? What is this person trying to get rid of? The inquiry allows me to create some space between the situation, the events, and my response to it. This is as natural to do as when I observe others in conflictual situations, as it is when someone appears to be angry at me or when I am tempted to be angry at someone else.

On a deeper, spiritual level, perhaps, I know that I am only ever being shown love or a ‘call for love.’ A ‘call for love’ may come in many different forms. But it’s all the same ‘call.’ Conflict and anger are very common forms of ‘a call for love.’ So when I receive a ‘call for love,’ I know there is something for me to learn. Again, I get curious.

These ‘calls for love’ are a wonderful opportunity to learn about the person calling out. But I know, ultimately, that there is only ever an opportunity to learn about myself. The person I am seemingly angry at, or who is angry at me, is merely reflecting back to me my own anger and my own attempts to avoid looking at myself. The ‘other’ is only ever ‘me’ and the other is showing me what it is I am angry at.

So when someone else gets angry, I get curious. It is the only way to heal my separated mind. For in the awareness that the other is merely a reflection of me, I see the other in me and myself in the other—I am given an opportunity to experience oneness.

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Shanti, Namaste, Agapé,

Rev. Robert Meagher