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Inner vs. Outer Guidance

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Q: Can I trust my inner sense of fullness to guide me more than outer signs and coincidences?

A: You can trust that inner fullness much more than any external signs. The challenge is to trust that inner fullness even when it seems to not be there. When you feel empty or contracted, that is also your inner guidance operating. Like the kid's game, where someone tells you you’re getting warmer or colder in pointing you in a certain direction, so you need the moments of feeling dry and contracted to let you know you are “getting colder.”

However, the really wonderful thing about listening inside is not that it gets you somewhere—to the right place or to where you want to go—but rather that it brings you to the fullness of your Being that is already here right now. It turns out that it doesn’t matter that much what happens in life or whether you make the right or wrong choice. What matters are the rich, endless mysteries to be found in the awareness that notices what happens. The value in paying attention to an inner sense of fullness is not where it leads you, but simply what it shows you about yourself right now. You are a limitless source of everything that really matters: peace, joy, and love. All this is available right now and in every moment, even if you end up taking the wrong bus to nowhere!

Note to readers: Please feel free to email me with questions or topics you would like to see addressed on this blog using the form on the contact page.

Become a Lake

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Someone shared this story with me on Facebook yesterday, and I wanted to pass it along:

An aging Hindu master grew tired of his apprentice complaining, and so, one morning, he sent him for some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it.

"How does it taste?" the master asked.

"Bitter," spit the apprentice.

The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake, and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, "Now drink from the lake."

As the water dripped down the young man's chin, the master asked, "How does it taste?"

"Much fresher," remarked the apprentice.

"Do you taste the salt?" asked the master.

"No," said the young man.

At this, the master sat beside the young man who so reminded him of himself and took his hands, offering, "The pain of life is pure salt, no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things... Stop being a glass. Become a lake."

Make Believe

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We live in a make-believe reality. We make up our beliefs and then live as if they are true, and in that sense they are true for us. But we make them up; we make believe. And in any moment, we can make believe something else. Belief is just a thought or pattern of thought, and in the time it takes to have a new thought, we can start to experience a new belief. If that new thought gets repeated often enough, then we say that our belief has changed, and therefore our make-believe reality has changed.

There is nothing wrong with this. We are by nature belief-making creatures. Just like squirrels hide their nuts, humans make up beliefs. It is how we create the meaning in our life and how we organize and define the story of our life. Each of us is the novelist or screenwriter for the story of me, and we do this by making believe that what we think about our life is the whole truth of that experience.

However, it is possible to realize that while this process of defining our reality is very creative, challenging for our minds, and even fun, it is never complete or fully accurate. Our beliefs, by their nature as thought, leave out a lot of the reality of a situation. If we believe someone is a nice person, we have left out that person's shadow side. If we believe that someone is a jerk, we have probably left out some of the good things about him or her. This limited nature of belief applies not just to our beliefs about others, but our beliefs about ourselves. We have an identity that is composed of our beliefs about ourselves, and that identity is therefore as fluid, changeable, and incomplete as any other set of beliefs...