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The Purpose of Spiritual Practice Reveals Itself

by Robert Meagher on 10/04/22



Photo Credit: pexels.com - Pixabay

During April, I experienced a protracted bout of influenza. For 10 days I pretty much stayed in bed, only to get myself out of bed to do something, anything to relief my discomfort. It was only after 14 days that I started to feel well enough to return to regular activities. It is during times of unwellness—dare I say suffering—that spiritual practice, if one has a spiritual practice, comes in very handy.

I remember about 4 or 5 days into the illness, I wondered if I might need medical attention (in the form of hospitalization), as I simply could not stop coughing. The pain and discomfort in my chest worsened. Days 6-9 saw the virus move into my nasal passages and head. Yet the coughing maintained, although not so virulently.

Throughout the 14 days of unwellness, there remained a steadfast reminder of the very simple spiritual teaching… “This too shall pass.” It’s true, everything and anything ephemeral shall pass. We may not know how it will pass, but it will pass. This gentle, constant reminder “This too shall pass.” always offered me the opportunity and gift of acceptance through the teaching… “Let go of what was. Accept what is. And have faith in what will be.”

Even when I was feeling my most uncomfortable, I repeated the mantra, “Accept what is.” It was in the acceptance of my current state / condition that I consciously allowed forgiveness to permeate my state of being. I have had a tendency during past illnesses (e.g., colds, flus, etc.) to feel sorry for myself, whine, complain, commiserate, get angry and cranky. There was none of those emotions this time around. It sort of surprised me. But I realized my spiritual practice was paying off!

Each day when we sit down to meditate, read spiritual teachings, participate in dharma through community interaction, or whatever our spiritual practice may be, we are training our minds to be at peace with whatever presents itself to us.

While I cannot say I felt ‘at peace’ for the 14 days of my unwellness. The absence of feeling sorry for myself, whining, complaining, commiserating, getting angry and cranky, suggests to me I was at peace. This simply would not have been possible without my spiritual practice. Why I engage in daily spiritual practice had not only revealed itself to me, but it has increased my resolve and commitment to maintain my practice.

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.

The Power of Perception

by Robert Meagher on 08/05/22


Photo Credit: pexels.com - Jonathan Petersson

Earlier this month I was having a conversation with a dear, long-time friend. At some point in the conversation my friend asked me if I had ever seen so much unrest in the world. I said, “No, not in my lifetime.” My friend affirmed that they had not experienced such unrest in the world in their lifetime either. We talked a little about the current events unfolding around the world. We then moved on to talk about other things.

The very next morning, I woke up and walked out to the living room. I walked over to the large window overlooking the neighborhood. Sitting on the window sill was a hyacinth bulb planted in a small pot. The bulb had grown significantly since I planted the bulb several weeks earlier. In the past week alone, the bulb had really taken off. It was clear that something magnificent was going to become of this hyacinth bulb.

Later in the day I thought about the two experiences I describe above. The exchange with my friend regarding the events in the world was full of disbelief, fear, even anger. I saw nothing but darkness in the exchange. My perception of world events in that moment left me feeling only fear. The experience with the hyacinth bulb was full of beauty and joy. My perception of the hyacinth bulb was imbued with love.

One could look at the above two experiences, and the feelings associated with these events, and consider them to be two very different experiences. If they were, it was only because of my perception. It is said in A Course in Miracles, “Perception is a choice of what you want yourself to be; the world you want to live in, and the state in which you think your mind will be content and satisfied. It chooses where you think your safety lies, at your decision. It reveals yourself to you as you would have you be.” (T-25.I.3.1-3)

All events are neutral; they simply are. Anything I experience associated with an event is a result of my perception of the event. None of my perception is true, in truth. Anything and everything are only as I want them to be. Our perceptions are a powerful thing. In the above experiences, I was struck by how my perception made my reality in those moments. I could have as easily saw love in the current world events, as I could have seen fear in the sprouting hyacinth bulb.

We can train our perception to see a more peaceful and loving world. Like anything else we strive for, it takes practice—until we realize there is nothing we need do to return to peace and love. We are that we seek.

 

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.

 


What We Give Our Energy to Expands

by Robert Meagher on 06/03/22


Photo Credit: pexels.com - Brett Sayles

Have you heard of the expression / teaching “What we give our energy to expands?” A recent telephone conversation with my sister brought this teaching to life for me.

I had not spoken to my sister in a while, so I decided to call her and catch up. We began the conversation with my asking my sister what was happening in her life…her husband, son, job, and life in general. After 15-20 minutes of sharing, my sister asked, “So…what’s happening with you?”

I proceeded to share about my family and my work. I then said, “And Sherwin (my partner) and I have been watching the events unfold in our neighborhood.” My sister responded, “What events?” Her question surprised me. I thought… “With all the media coverage, how could you NOT be aware of what is going on my city?!”

I explained to my sister that a convoy of trucks had come to Ottawa to protest a variety of issues. And that the event was resulting in the blockage/closure of many streets and businesses, and causing a level of disruption in city life that I had not experienced in the 20 years I had been living in Ottawa (and no where else in my life). I explained that at the time of our conversation, the area I lived in was under a militarized-like lockdown spanning an area one-two square miles. No one who did not live or work in this area was allowed to come in, and if you lived in the area and wanted to get out, you had to go through checkpoints with armed officers.

My sister responded, “Oh yah, I heard something about that.” And with that response from my sister, she flowed right into another thread of conversation. I followed along, realizing she wasn’t interested in hearing more about the events unfolding in Ottawa.

After the conversation ended, I pondered the conversation I had with my sister. I had moments of thinking how insensitive it was of my sister to not show some level of compassion or concern for what was happening in my life. I was reminded of the saying, “Not in my back yard.” That my sister was living more than 1400km from Ottawa might explain why she had paid so little attention to what was going on. But then I realized what was being shown to me was far deeper than ‘not in my back yard.’

I was allowing my thoughts, my energy, to coalesce and focus on the events unfolding in Ottawa. My sister, on the other hand, was allowing her thoughts to be about something else. Because my thoughts were focused on the events unfolding in Ottawa, that’s where my attention went. And the more energy I gave to this event, the more it expanded in my consciousness.

My sister was not being insensitive, and she was not showing a lack of compassion or concern. She was merely allowing her thoughts, her energy, to be focused on something else.

In both cases, my sister and I were choosing, in that moment, what we wanted to be the focus for us. I was focused on the events unfolding in Ottawa. My sister was focused on events in her life that were equally important to her. In focusing on our respective life events, the events expanded to consume our life.

From this experience I was able to ask myself, “Are my thoughts, my energy, my focus, bringing me peace?” If not, (and they were not), do I want to continue to give my energy to these matters? Where do I want my thoughts, my energy, to be? What will give me 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.


My Peace Is in Riding the Waves of Change

by Robert Meagher on 05/03/22


Photo Credit: pexels.com - Pixabay

The past few months has brought with it the awareness of how at peace I am with some waves of change in my life. Let me share a few examples.

First, I recently lost some of my income. This income was from teaching ESL to Chinese children (online). Recent legislative changes in China has resulted in the banning of all foreign teachers from teaching ESL to children in mainland China. The adjustment was, initially, a bit of a jolt. There was some worry about the loss of income, but I trusted something else would emerge to allow me to recoup that income. The change of pace has been a welcomed change and other opportunities have emerged that will allow me to replace the income I lost from teaching.

Next, is a rather casual change, but no less significant for me. I have gone through periods in my life where I have done a lot of reading. By a lot, I mean reading as much as a book every day. Over the past 5-6 years, however, I have done very little casual/recreational reading. I was doing a lot of reading for my various work activities and didn’t have the desire for additional recreational reading. Instead of reading, I have been doing jigsaw puzzles. I cannot tell you how many jigsaw puzzles I have completed over the past few years, but it’s a lot! Since December, there has been, what feels like, a natural shift back to more casual / recreational reading. And I’m loving it! I still always have a jigsaw puzzle in the works, but the majority of any spare time I have finds me snuggled up with a good book.

Lastly, enter winter! I enjoyed and embraced winter as a child, teenager, and adolescent. But as I grew into adulthood, my love of winter diminished. Having to commute during winter weather became a stress, and my body grew leery of the cold temperatures. During my 40s I grew to actually hate winter. I tolerated it, at best, and despised it, at worse. But the last few winters I have noticed a wave of change in me. I don’t mind the winters now. I have grown to accept winter for what it is. A period of several months where it is cold outside and there is likely a lot of snow on the ground. This winter, in particular, I am content with winter. And, so far, we have had a very cold and snowy winter; that I anticipate with continue.

In each of the example above, I was presented the situations that invited / allowed me to change and flow with that change. While the period of time resisting the wave of change varied among the above examples, I was always able to welcome peace back into my life as soon as I rode the wave of change instead of resisting it. While this lesson (i.e., go with the flow) is obvious in theory, it is not so obvious in practice. I can think of a couple of areas of my life where I will do well to practice ‘going with the flow.’ Yet there are places and times in the life where I can ride the wave of change and receive the gift of that peaceful transition. My trust is that by practicing riding the wave of change in some areas of my life, I will grow to be able to apply it in all areas of my life.

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.


Holding On / Letting Go

by Robert Meagher on 04/02/22


Photo Credit: pexels.com - Mariana Montrazi

We live in a world that prizes possessions. Hence, we tend to hold on to things. Do you remember the last time you moved? How much of your ‘stuff’ did you hold on to? How much did you let go? And if you let go of anything, how did that feel?

Personal possessions are perhaps the most obvious examples of holding on and letting go. Yet personal relationships can be even more dramatic example of holding on to, and letting of, things. More than our personal possessions, we tend toward holding on to our personal relationships with even greater verve. We tend toward clinging to our relationships. And then when we let go of relationships, if we do, our response can be far more dramatic than with personal possessions.

More than personal possessions or personal relationships, the most vivid experience I have witnessed of holding on and letting go is with what we call life in the embodied state. I have been blessed to do many things with my Ministry work, but perhaps the most meaningful work I do is Chaplaincy work that focuses on visitation with the sick, infirm, and transitioning (or what is commonly referred to as dying).

I had the honor of sitting bedside with a man who was in the process of transitioning. I remember the day very well. He was nearing the veil of death and he shared with me that he was afraid. I held his hand and offered to him to squeeze my hand if he felt any fear. His grip became iron clad.

At one point I said to him, “It’s okay to let go.”

“But I’m afraid.” he said.

“I am with you. I will remain with you to the end of your time here.”

His eyes opened and I could see his fear lessening.

“Where am I going?” he asked.

“You aren’t going anywhere. You will simply remember a state of being that has always been with you. It is a state in which you will know nothing but peace and love.”

And with those words, he closed his eyes and journeyed through the veil of death. His grip on my hand weakened. A sense of peace washed over his body.

This man’s ultimate peace was in letting go of embodied life itself. He clung to his life. He was afraid to let go. But in letting go, he was offered the greatest gift of remembering life in its purest sense—without our myriad of illusions cast upon it.

What are you holding on to in your life? How are you holding on? What is it you need to let go of?

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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