Spiritual Guidance Blog
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 Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for and Co-Founder of the .
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.
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.
A couple of months my beloved dog, Muggins, passed through the veil of death. Muggins had lived with me in this realm for 16 years. Over the past 4-5 years Muggins mobility slowly declined, due mostly to a neurological condition that created instability and lessened his ability to walk. Over the past year Muggins required increasing assistance to move around, to void and defecate, and with most every aspect of his life that was so easily taken for granted when he was younger.
Other conditions were slowly creeping into the picture of Muggins’ overall health. One of those conditions was seizures. While the seizures were few and far between, I knew that another one would surely mark a turning point in Muggins’ physical embodiment and be a definitive signal that it was time to let go. As with everything temporal, that time came.
It was one night a few months ago that an unprecedented series of seizures kept Muggins and I awake most of the night. Over the years I had educated myself in ways to effectively minimize the ravages of seizures-in-progress, reduce the stress for Muggins, and even stop the seizures. But on this night the seizures were relentless and severe. I did what I could to keep him calm and knew that, should he make it through the night, the sunrise would bring with it the beautiful opportunity to bring some ceremonial closure to this blessed life that had given everyone so much.
At some point during the night, due in part to exhaustion no doubt, both Muggins and I fell asleep. We were both woken by a brilliant sunrise and the lullaby of birds chirping outside our window. Muggins had made it through the night and seemed wanting to start a new day. We rose and proceeded with morning ablutions, walk, and breakfast. Muggins was ‘on edge’ but relatively calm.
At a reasonable hour I called the vet I had been in touch with over the preceding months, with ongoing updates of Muggins health. I arranged for the vet to come to our home later in the day to perform the euthanasia.
Shortly before the vet arrived, friends and loved ones gathered to say their goodbyes to Muggins. Some stayed for the ceremony, some did not. Shortly after the vet arrived, Muggins was peacefully euthanized. The predominant feeling was peace, and the predominant emotion was relief.
When one chooses to take care for an aging person or animal, the amount of time you devote to this blessed task increases in proportion to the amount of care given and/or needed. And when that caregiving ceases to be needed, a void emerges. Reality sets in and you realize, among a myriad of feelings and emotions, that you now have a lot more time on your hands. It can almost feel like freedom. I asked myself… “Well…what am I going to do with this new freedom?”
I thought about how I might honor Muggins’ memory. What legacy did he leave? What did he give me? What did he teach me? What would be fitting to pass on to others? What might Muggins want me to do?
I thought about how Muggins taught me unconditional love. I thought about how Muggins taught me peace, especially in the end. I thought about how he treated all other beings. I thought about the harmony he created. I thought about the unending compassion he demonstrated and offered. I thought about the joy he gave to the world.
It was through these blessed memories and awareness that I discovered a renewed sense of purpose and commitment with and for my ministry work. I thought.. “What better way to honor a life that had given me so much…than to extend this new sense of freedom to serve, teach, and heal a world in transformation.” It was then that the following dedication poured out of me:
In Muggins Memorio
I honor each day to be of service to humanity.
I will not squander the opportunity to bring love, light, and peace to the world.
I will not miss the opportunity to teach and heal a world in transformation.
Through devoted service I honor each brother and sister who comes into and through my life.
May the spirit of Muggins serve as my inspiration to be love, to be peace, to be harmony, to be compassion, to be joy.
And so it is…
May you be inspired to walk your truth. May you be inspired to bring love, light, and peace to this world. May you be inspired to serve and honor your brothers and sisters in whatever form that may take. May you be inspired to be love, to be peace, to be harmony, to be compassion, to be joy.
Growing up as a child all I wanted to be was ‘liked.’ This desire carried over into my adolescent years. I would do things, and do things for others out of a longing to belong, fit in, and be liked. As a child, the idea of being respected was not yet in my vocabulary or understanding.
As I moved into adulthood, as I strove for accomplishment in this world, my focus shifted from wanting to be liked to wanting to be ‘respecting.’ I still hung on to vestiges of wanting to be liked, but I was more concerned now with being respected. I wanted people to listen to me. I wanted people to do what I told them. Underneath it all was a thin veil over my secret desire to control people. I unconsciously equated their respect as my ticket to control them.
At this stage in my life, I no longer desire for people to like me or respect me. Of course, it is nice when someone likes and / or respects me. Striving to be liked or respected is of no interest to me anymore. This lack of interest in whether or not someone likes or respects me has come with the awareness and acceptance that whatever someone thinks about me is none of my business. Equally, what someone says about me is none of my business.
It has been suggested that the preceding is an indication that I have grown to become more comfortable in my own skin. Perhaps. It feels more like simply accepting and loving myself like never before.
I am becoming more aware that all I want is peace in my life. And I know that I cannot find that peace outside of me from anyone or anything else. I can only find this peace within me. And I know that if I strive for being liked or respected, I will not find my peace, because either striving takes me away from my core, my altar, my place of peace.