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Are Shortcuts Worth It?

by Robert Meagher on 10/02/19

Last month I took one of my day-long cycling adventures. I had not ventured on this particular route before so I looked at the map before I ventured out to determine the best roads for cycling. As I examined the map I noticed a route that I thought would result in reduced car traffic on the road and make the ride safer for me. I also noticed that the proposed route cut through some backcountry and resulted in what looked like a bit of a shortcut for one leg of the journey. With an anticipated 100km+ round trip cycling adventure, I didn’t mind cutting off a few kilometers along the way.

As I arrived at the point where the shortcut began, I joyfully turned off the main highway and began my trek. I felt somewhat relieved for turning off the main road because the car traffic was heavy. After only a few minutes of cycling on the backcountry road, lines of cars started to pass me. Car after car, after car after car. I realized the route had no less traffic than the main highway. I was to realize after 10km that the reason for the heavy car traffic was a ski resort that turned to a summer amusement park was attracting a lot of families on this beautiful Saturday.

Did you notice I mentioned ski resort??? Where there is a ski resort, there are hills. And as I approached this ski resort, the topography became more and more undulating. Said another way…the cycle became more and more of a challenge. A few of hills were among the steepest I had ever descended and ascended. The descents were thrilling, but the ascents were grueling! I carried on, however. Shortly after I passed the ski resort, the terrain levelled out and the next 10km were quite picturesque and pleasant to cycle. I eventually came back out on the main highway that I had left 25km ago, feeling a bit smug that I had cut off some time from my adventure. After 7 hours of cycling, I arrived back home.

I had enjoyed the adventure so much that I vowed to make the trip again. So a couple of weeks later, I ventured back to the same route. But this time, I decided not to take the ‘shortcut’ and stayed on the main highway for the entire trip. I was pleasantly surprised that the longer way around was a much more gentle ride, compared to the very undulating terrain the supposed shortcut had offered me a couple of weeks earlier. And this time the round trip took me an hour less!...even though I went a longer, overall distance! So…

Not only did the supposed shortcut result in a much more grueling and difficult cycle, it actually didn’t save me any time at all! As it turns out, it took me longer to get to where I wanted to go! I laughed at my foible and the symbolism in the experience.

Are shortcuts worth it? In my cycling adventure, the supposed shortcut wasn’t a shortcut at all! I expended more energy than the long way around and it didn’t save me any time. It actually took me longer!

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.

Who Are You Pointing Your Finger At?

by Robert Meagher on 09/03/19

I was recently blessed with a blatant example of finger pointing and the blessed teaching in this act. When we point our finger at someone, it is crucially important to be aware of who we are actually pointing our finger at. There is a beautiful teaching that says, “When we point our finger at someone, there are always 3 fingers pointing back at us!”

After a recent weekly study group gathering, a relatively new participant, and devout Christian, came up to me and shared their dissatisfaction that the gathering had begun with another participant chiming a Tibetan Singing Bowl during the opening meditation. This disgruntled participant shared that the playing of the Tibetan Singing Bowl was an ‘idol’ (i.e., a distraction to connecting with Source/Divine) and had no place at the gatherings. Furthermore, the new participant shared that he felt the playing of the Tibetan Singing Bowl would be confusing for other participants and detract from the teachings shared during the weekly study group gatherings.

The very next day an interesting article came into my email ‘inbox’ from a spiritual-oriented news-feed. The article was about a Christian monk who was on an extended retreat in a Buddhist monastery. The monk recounted his difficulty with accepting some of the rituals of the Buddhist community, including the “incessant chiming and playing of bells and bowls and the praying to statues of Buddha.” The monk went on to criticize the Buddhist faithful for worshipping “idols” like bells, bowls, and Buddha statues, and denounced the practices as “a distraction from direct union with God.” Toward the end of the article, however, the monk revealed how he was graced with the awareness of his judgements and that he too had his own rituals and idols he placed before God, including the worshipping of his faith tradition’s prophet, Jesus. The monk knew that if he called for someone else to drop his/her idols, he would have to drop his.

Will the relatively new participant at the weekly study group gatherings have the same awareness as the Christian monk in the Buddhist monastery? Time will tell. The new participant may have indeed been concerned that other participants would be confused by the playing of the Tibetan Singing Bowl, but is it possible that they themselves were the confused one, and were merely projecting their confusion onto others?

And so it is with finger pointing, we are only ever pointing a finger at ourselves. Any grievance expressed toward another is merely a projection of a grievance toward ourselves. Look carefully at what you accuse the ‘other’ of doing, and you will find that you are accusing yourself.

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.

I Want Nothing From or For Anyone

by Robert Meagher on 08/02/19

A new awareness is emerging on my journey. I want nothing from or for anyone.

I want nothing from anyone. At the core this is a statement of expectation. This statement may be misunderstood. So please allow me to clarify. If I need help, I will certainly ask for it. But I will not expect a certain outcome from this ‘ask.’ What will result from asking is what will happen. I let go of all expectation of the outcome. This wanting nothing from anyone is also an awareness and trust in life that I truly do have everything I need in and from life. What would I ever want from anyone when I am perfectly whole, safe and resting peacefully in the arms of God?

I want nothing for anyone. This part of the equation was a more challenging one for me to accept. I tend toward wanting to ‘be there’ for people. I have a natural tendency to want to help people in need. The very idea of not wanting anything for anyone has challenged my natural tendency to want to help people in need. What I have come to realize is that I can trust in life. And a cornerstone of this trust in life is a trust that everyone, without exception, is exactly where they need to be to take the next step in their journey. To want something for someone may suggest that they are ‘in need’ or ‘wanting’ for something. This perception of a need assumes they are somehow lacking, inferior or, even worse, suffering. Nothing could be further from the truth! To see the reality beyond the perception of lack, inferiority or suffering is to know everyone is perfect, just as they are. There is nothing lacking in anyone. There is nothing anyone could every want or need. Their divine wholeness is without any concept of lack.

Wanting nothing from or for anyone is a practice in non-judgement. Can I not judge a person, situation, or a situation that a person finds themselves in, including myself? If so, I could not possibly want anything from anyone. If so, I could not possibly want anything for anyone. If I rest in non-judgement, I can simply allow what is, to be.

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.


Acceptance As My Pathway to Peace

by Robert Meagher on 07/02/19

Eight months after a tornado ripped through the city I live in, I cycled through a neighborhood where the tornado had touched down. What was once a neighborhood with houses lining the streets and old-growth trees creating a canopy over everything, was now a barren and desolate feeling landscape.

Most of the trees were gone. Many of the houses were still standing, however. You could clearly see where some houses had already been repaired, while others were in various states of repair or disrepair. It was also clear that many had been abandoned.

There was a large power line that cut through the centre of this neighborhood. On one side of the power line was destruction. On the other side of the power line was pristine, untouched property. The contrast was striking.

My thoughts ranged from the awe of the power of nature, to how lucky some properties were on one side of the power line, to how heart-wrenching it was to see the devastation on the other side of the power line...less than 100 meters away.

There was the momentary deluge of WHY questions that entered my psyche. Why did the tornado hit the community on that side of the power line? Why did the tornado leave the community on the other side of the power line untouched? Why did this happen at all!?

The experience made me realize that we ask the WHY question a lot! If anything untoward happens in our life, we tend to default to a litany of WHY questions, that typically starts with Why is this happening to me?...and then spreads out to include such endless inquiry as… Why are you doing that to me? Why are you being so mean? Why me? Why not someone else? Why are you hurting me? And the litany of WHY questions goes on infinitum.

I learned that asking WHY does not bring me peace. Asking WHY tends only to feed a loathsome self-pity and lead me into energies of anger and hatred.

My peace can only be found in an acceptance of what is; an acceptance of life on its terms, not how I want it to be. The sooner I can accept what is transpiring, the sooner I can return to a grounded sense of peace. It is during times, episodes and events that have an element of extreme upheaval about them that our acceptance is challenged.

Take, for example, the tornado and the resulting damage. How can one accept such an event and the devastation it produced? This kind of acceptance is only possible through a deep trust in life—that everything, with no exception, happens for our good. Even a tornado! Yes, life does seem to present us with challenges and challenging situations. But they will only seem like a challenge for as long as we resist them. Learn from them if we can; but accept them we must, if we are to be at 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.

A Journey with Grace through Transformation

by Robert Meagher on 06/03/19

Let me, first, define what I mean by ‘grace’ so that I can then examine grace in the context of the sequential steps of transformation: awareness, acceptance, and change. Grace is an exalted state of divine influence resulting in no difficulties, challenges, struggles, guilt or burdens.

Grace may come through awareness in those moments when time seems to stand still. At times it can feel like a flash of light. Something dawns on us—a new insight, seeing something a different way or anew, realizing our judgements or condemnations. This awareness may come out of the blue. It may come from a traumatic event. Or it may come as a result of our devotional or similar practice. But grace is always brought to and through us. Grace is not something we do necessarily. It is an allowing, mostly unconscious, of something other than our small self to show us something else, a new vision.

Even though we may be shown something anew, it does not necessarily mean we will accept and adopt that new vision. In the movie classic Christmas Carol the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, was visited by three ghosts and shown things from his past, present and future. Initially, Mr. Scrooge did not want to accept many of these visions. It was only toward the end of his journey into the future did Mr. Scrooge begin to accept what he was being shown. Once Mr. Scrooge began to accept what he was being shown, did change unfold and occur.

The story of the Christmas Carol is symbolic of so many of our journey with grace through awareness, acceptance and change. Allow me to use a personal example of journey with grace through awareness, acceptance and change.

In 2006 grace came to me in a flash-of-light-like experience. On a fateful 2006 morning, I woke to a clear and audible message. It was the closest I’ve ever come in my life to ‘hearing’ a voice from the ethers speak to me. The message was “Rob, simplify you life: materially, financially, relationally (i.e., with other people).” In the days that followed I became intensely aware how unhappy I was with my life. At the time I was still in the headspace of blaming everything and everyone around me for my unhappiness (i.e., it’s there fault; they did this; they did that, etc.). But the underlying awareness of my unhappiness was acute.

Fear quickly reared its head as I asked myself the questions: “What do I do now? How do I change my life? What do I change? What do I change to?” The fear was so intense that I momentarily (i.e., weeks) denied change was possible and resolved myself to the fact that this sorry state of my life was my lot in life. But grace flowed in again to give me the courage to accept that if I wanted my life to change, then I had to change my life (i.e., no one or no thing was going to do it for me). When I began working with a Life Coach in 2007, I began to accept and be willing to take responsibility for my life.

Fear was ever-present throughout the transformation; but so was grace. I reached a point in the transformation that the fear of change was less than the fear of staying the same. It was at that grace-filled moment that I knew change was possible. Even after releasing myself from Corporate Canada in August 2009, and jettisoning a way of life, the fear remained. But again, grace showed the way.

I surrendered to life. I can remember lying in bed, trembling with fear… “What am I going to do now!?” I was out of work (for the first time in my life!). I had no solid leads on a new job. It felt like I was afloat in the middle of the ocean with no sight of shore. The boat I was in felt very small and not particularly sea-worthy! But I would lullaby myself to sleep each night with the words… “Thy will be done. You have me now. Guide me where you would have me be.”

As the days, months and years unfolded, change slowly and gradually occurred. And as the days, month and years unfolded, I came to trust more in life. I was able to trust more in life because grace was walking along side me. I was able to tune in more to grace’s divine-filled presence and allow it to guide me. The result was fewer difficulties, challenges, struggles, guilt or burdens.

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