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The many lessons of grief include a better understanding of loss, transitions, and changes, as well as a heightened appreciation of love, family, and friends.  Grief is painful, but usually brings an opportunity to experience the feelings that come with being human.  It is a chance to appreciate life, because if we don’t reach the heights of love, sharing, relationships, caring (the list goes on) how could we ever reach the painful depths of life – the loss of those peak experiences of life. of things and those we love.

Like most of life, you must let yourself feel it, sense it, experience it.  Without the true highs then there could not be the depths of lows.  The highs and lows are all part of it.  They depend on each other. 

Grief is a part of life, with many theories for dealing with it.  Included are: 

Kubler Ross’s 5 stages of grief –denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance

Rando’s 6 Rs for processing mourning – recognize the loss, react to the separation, recollect and re-experience (the deceased), relinquish old attachments, readjust (to a new world),  reinvest (emotional energy)

     Bowlby’s 4 stages of grief – shock and numbness, yearning and searching, despair and  disorganization, reorganization and recovery

     Warden’s 4 tasks of mourning – accept the reality of the loss, work through the pain of grief, adjust to an environment where the deceased  is missing, find an enduring connection  with the deceased while embarking on a new life

     Eric Lindermann’s 3 steps to recovery – emancipation from bondage to the deceased, readjustment to a new environment in which the deceased is missing, formation of new relationships

     Klass, Silverman, and Nickman’s continuing bonds theory – suggests that rather than assuming detachment as a normal grief response, consider creating a new relationship with the deceased. This does not mean one is not grieving in a normal and healthy way, but that grief can include having ties to loved ones where one finds ways to adjust and redefine the relationship with that person.

Things to remember as you deal with grief include:

           Grief is unique for each person

            Stages are not linear

            Not everyone goes through stages in a prescribed order

            Path is more like a labyrinth, not a tunnel

            Stages are just tools

            Steps may repeat

            There is no endpoint

C.S.Lewis – Feeling, and feelings, and feelings.  Let me try thinking instead.

                  –  It doesn’t really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist chair or let your hands lie ii your lap.  The drill drills on.

                   -Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.

Experiences feed our attachments and increase our desire for more experiences.  When we begin to sense the unity of all things, however, we can begin to identity our Self.  It is then that our perspective can grow and change can take place.

When we begin to awaken, our experiences lead to reflection and insight.  This developing of consciousness can enable the soul to free itself from the bonds of the ego.  The experiences that form our ego seem real at the time, but they constantly change.  We have endless experiences, but the Self is separate.

The Self is on a different level of consciousness.  It doesn’t try to change, evaluate or judge, it just observes.  The Self is what helps you to center.  It is the part of your soul that allows you the discriminate between your soul and your ego, between your real Self and the self of this human life.

Human life is a series of experiences.  When one becomes aware of the process, they can begin to shift their identification from these roles and thought forms.  The process becomes more like watching a movie than being the central character in one.

 

Ego = _____1_____

Knowledge               More the knowledge, the lesser the ego

Lesser the knowledge, more the ego               Albert Einstein

When the ego dies, the soul awakes.      Mahama Gandhi

The ego wants quantity but the soul wants quality.

If you want to improve, you must be content to be thought foolish and stupid.   Epictetus

A bad day for your ego is a great day for you soul.     J. Michaels

Your ego is your soul’s worst enemy.      R. Eric

Your were born to be real, not to be perfect.

Sometimes you have to be alone to truly know your worth.   K. Baquirue

I am me, nothing more, nothing less, and that is enough.   H. Dayal

It’s not your job to like me.  It’s mine.

 

We are searching for answers that are beyond our reach.  Yet the combined human intelligence is constantly growing.  As a result, perhaps some of the things we are seeking answers for may someday be common knowledge.

In the past, religious and native cultures had many of the answers for their questions, but it could not be proven by science.  Today science has many answers for past questions, but still has not made the connection with spirituality.  Who knows where it may end, what someday we may know.

Clearly we seem to be evolving.  Quantum theory in the early 1900s called for a new order of physics.  It sought to explain the seen and the unseen.  It looked for the connection between the macros and micros.  By the mid-1900s Bohm wanted a radically new order of physics, one that included focusing on the enfolding and unfolding of the universe.  He wanted to start with process, not particles.  It left the door open for thinking of the soul as a movement in our life.  The possibility that life is a wholeness of nature and consciousness.

Science is reaching out closer to a possible bridge to understanding spirituality, a greater understanding of who we are, where did we come from, and what is our purpose.  This all will hopefully add to our insight as what is reality.  Perhaps we are the determiner of what we see.  Quantum physics invites us to see the whole of which we may see that we are co-producers.  Wholeness is an interdependency where we may be internally related to everything..  It shows how we need to look beyond the form to see the oneness, and how reality is undivided wholeness.  Hopefully this knowledge may even show us how we interact with each other and with the earth, and how we must solve our problems together.

While we’re here, do we have a responsibility – to others, to ourselves?  short term, long term?  Does our life view make a difference – if we are a physical being and only live once, if we value making it better for those who come later, if we believe in reincarnation, or if feel we need to enhance the progress and growth of our spirit?  Maybe we’re not sure, don’t care, or believe at some level we should be responsible, but can’t make a difference anyway.  We’re only one person in a world that’s moving faster than we can comprehend and certainly can’t control.  Maybe we need to step back and look closer at compassion, at oneness, at working together, and at what we can do.

Compassion versus Self-Interest:  When looking at the question of morality versus self-interest, many people assume that feeling compassion for others is only good for the others, and not for oneself.   The Dalai Lama points out that the first beneficiary of compassion is always one’s self.   When compassion arises in us and shifts our focus away from our own narrow self-interest, it is as if we open an inner door:  Compassion reduces our fear, boosts our confidence, and brings us inner strength.  By reducing distrust, it opens us to others and brings us a sense of connection with them and a sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Accepting We Are One:  Diversity can be the art of thinking independently together.  It’s not the differences that divide us.  It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.  Most often our failure lies not in what we do but in what we do not do, the words we fail to say, the hand we fail to reach out to.

People Working Together:  It’s helpful to see the interconnectedness between things.  We may want to recognize too that the spiritual paradigm is growing in all kinds of ways, though still has a long ways to go.  Believing that this life is the only one may well lead to developing no long-term vision.  Then there is nothing to restrain plundering the planet for immediate ends and from living in a selfish way that could prove fatal for the future.  We are not the center of the universe.  We need to shift awareness.  This is the age of interdependence.

Paradigm Change:  We need to face the challenge of responsibility, of freedom, of compassion.  If not us, who – if not now, when?  We must stand together for morality, for what we know is right and just. World systems make it difficult to make massive changes.  We need to live in the currents.  The secret in turbulent water is not to fight, but to let the current take you out.  It may take you out a long ways, but then it will drop you.  Then you can swim back in on the eddy, which can take you almost all the way back to the beach and solid ground.  Then you can do it again.  That may be the way we have to do it.

The time is always right to do what is right.  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.   Sigmund Freud

It is our own responsibility, as best we can, to live up to the divine potential God has placed within each one of us.   Marianne Williamson

You never go wrong when you do the right then.  Mark Twain.

Well done is better than well said.  Ben Franklin

Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.  All things are bound together.  All things connect.    Chief Seattle  (1854)

This is really the problem with Gen X and baby boomers.  They’ve championed this kind of individualism.  They’ve championed thinking less about the community.    Neil Howe

Nothing worth doing can be done in a single lifetime.  Reinhold Niebuhr

What we do for ourselves dies with us.  What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.   Albert Pike

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.   Margaret Mead

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.   Ralph Waldo Emerson

We learn from history that we do not learn from history.  George Bernard Shaw

There is no path to peace.  Peace is the path.    Gandhi

You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think.  The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice.  What you do comes from what you think.    Marianne Williamson

If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.   Chinese proverb

 

 

We’ll never know the essence of death, or what lies beyond.  We’d be missing an opportunity, however, if we didn’t examine the issue more closely – what can be learned, where might it lead, are there clues to what may be after, is it only a phase of something greater?  One needs to let their preconceived notions go, and go deep within to explore and listen to what may come forth.

Physical and/or Spiritual:  The question of “Where did I come from?” Is really only addressing the “I” that is the physical body – but the physical aspect originated in non-beingness.  We come from mystery and we return to mystery.  The truth would seem to be that our essence is eternal.  Only our physical body appears to come and go in a cycle of birth and death.

The End or Reincarnation:  Perhaps it is not true that the expression of God through our physical self is an endpoint.   That would be to create an ego-driven life.  The lesson in this philosophical journey may be to recognize our primary identity as a spiritual being that is eternal and therefore impervious to both birth and death.  Perhaps the human journey in bodily form is barely a parenthesis in the eternity of our real self.  Before we shed our physical body and complete the return trip we can hopefully begin to understand our original nature – and by making an effort to be more like what we imagine our Source of being to be.

Living Consciously:  Whatever you do, you will die.  Whatever you manage to build will be broken down, sometimes while you’re still around to watch.  The day will come that your life’s work is unraveled.  It appears the lesson is to not be aware of what death is, but of what life is.  The best preparation for death is to become more and more enlightened in this life.

Dying Consciously:  The key to conscious dying is living consciously – knowing who we are, why we’re here, what we’re doing.  Everyone has the opportunity to find that out.  That’s conscious living.  Then we don’t have to worry about dying, because we will.  Death is the stripping away of all that is not you.  The secret of life may be to “die before you die” – and find that there is no death.

The Common Journey:  We do know that we are not alone.  There are others on their way on the same track.  We are travelers from nowhere to nowhere, on our way from nothing to nothing.  The track may be narrow and steep and boring and frightening, but everybody walks on it.  We are not alone but linked to everything around us.

The voice of Nature loudly cries, and many a message from the skies, that something in us never dies.  Robert Burns  (1791)

The spiritual life does not remove us from the world, but leads us deeper into it.  H.M.  Nouwen

We see in straight lines, but life is circles.  Anon

Body is like a suit of clothes.  It is not who you are.  We are spirit.   Course in Miracles

Enlightenment is realizing death does not exist.  One transcends death by realizing it does not exist.

The transition from outer form to inner teaching may be what our real journey is all about.

Religious and philosophical approaches to the purpose of life share many of the same lessons.  Such approaches are often based on dogma and formal structures.  The lessons serve a purpose and vary, but it is when they reach the esoteric phase that they all seem to come together.

The word Esoteric is largely misunderstood.  The essential meaning of the word is “inner.”  It is not secretive or occult.  It can be linked with that part of mysticism that represents the work of inner transformation.  These inner lessons are at the heart of spiritual teachings.  It is about moving from outer form to the inner teaching.

Christian teaching, for example, describes both crucifixion and resurrection.  These concepts can apply to the human ego – the thing that stands in the way of our development.  It encompasses the yin and yang, the death and rebirth recognized by visionaries as being at the core of reality itself.  It is the spiritual awakening of the mind and heart.  This is a consciousness that takes us beyond the level of the individual ego.

Christianity is about a personal relationship with G-d, but it’s also an inner work that aims for the divinization of the seeker.   T.J. Nottingham

Jesus’ greatest liberation is to have liberated us from religion!  He wanted us all to have free, direct, and joyful access to G-d.   Louis Evely

Finding that inner sanctuary; that point where G-d and the soul touch; a secret dwelling in the center of our being; to move into oneself is to move ultimately move beyond oneself:

The ground of the soul     John Tauler

Interior home of the heart     Catherine of Siena

Inner castle    Teresa of Avila

House at rest in darkness and concealment    St. John of the Cross

Be silent and listen.   St. John of the Cross

 

Origins of humans, their environment, and their understanding of the world from at least 3200 B.C. until around 700 B.C. involved many Gods.  By the 6th century B.C. people in different cultures started to give expression to new ideas.  These ideas were independent but were actually very similar.  One of these new ideas was monotheism.  This was reflected in the ideas of Moses around 1200 B.C., the Upanishads around 800 B.C., and Zoroaster and Jewish prophets of the 600’s B.C.   These profound explanations for the universe and the purpose of life can be seen as the evolution of consciousness.

In earlier times the emphasis was on the group.  This helped reinforce religions and the resulting church and community groups.  Today there is less meaning in the group, and often even less on the world.  The focus appears to have shifted to the individual.  In the resulting transition, one does not know what it is we are moving towards.  The lines of communication between the conscious and the unconscious zones of the human psyche have all been cut, and we have been split in two.

The social/group unit is no longer the carrier of religious content.  We have become an economic-political organization, where the ideals are those of a secular state.  The values have too often become competition for the material supremacy and resources.   The vestiges of the ancient human heritage of ritual, morality and art seem to be steadily decaying.  The universal triumph of the secular state has put religious organizations into a secondary position, leaving them relatively ineffectual.

The mystics stress the self-knowledge that we are more than the rules and boundaries that govern material existence; we are of more divine origin that is apparent.  We are asleep and must wake up to the truth that our work is to help others.  The lower self is enslaved in a world of dreams and sleep, and doubts the existence of the higher self – which is the true link to the eternal.

The mysteries and unconscious messages have lost their force.  The values and morals seem to no longer interest our psyche.  The beliefs held by the group are now held by fewer and fewer people.  Is this really the evolution of consciousness?   Perhaps our current dilemma is being disconnected with our unconscious.

 

We have an evolutionary imperative to grow beyond the conditioning of pleasure and self-satisfaction.         George Bernard Shaw    (Shaw was not a religious man, but comes close to the great mystics of all religions)    This is what it means to be a human being, and not just in the pursuit of money.

Rites of initiation and installation teach the lesson of the essential oneness of the individual and the group.   Joseph Campbell

If only we could see ourselves as we really are.  If only we could see each other that way, there would be no reason for war, for hatred, for cruelty, we would fall down and worship each other.  Thomas Merton

Silence is the language God speaks and everything else is a bad translation.  Father Thomas Keating

Fairy tales have many common themes, most often at the subconscious and spiritual level.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is one of the best known fairy tales and serves as a good example.  If there is a “moral” it is that we must rely on ourselves – for we alone have the power to save ourselves.  This lesson also extends to Dorothy’s three companions.  Like Dorothy herself, the Scarecrow, Woodman and Lion have within themselves the qualities they are seeking.  We each have everything we need, we lack only the intuition of Glinda the Good in the South to tell us so.  Other underlying messages include:  the Yellow Brick Road suggests the Path, the mystic way, that leads to enlightenment; yellow is the color of gold; at the end of the Road is the Emerald City, the color of harmony and balance; Wizard is the hoped for Teacher; she crushes the wicked Witch of the East, the place of sunrise, thus overcoming the desire for further birth; she slays the wicked Witch of the West, the place of sunset, the fear of death –  and she dissolves the witch with water, the symbol of life;  she then travels South, the natural direction of the ocean of unity, to have Glinda tell her she needs no guru, she has always had the power to go back home; Glinda represents intuition, the light of Truth, the only true source of guidance; home is where you’re always drawn back to, it’s the heaven that’s all about you, waiting only for you to recognized.

Look to the Lord of the Rings, Brothers Grimm, and other tales where the pilgrim’s return and they re-enter the structure of life, but thereafter (like the Muslim hajji) are somehow a little different, changed forever in some imperceptible way.  As we dissolve our ties to the material world and simultaneously connect to the Divine realm, we have the opportunity to receive guidance from beyond ourselves.  It’s never about ego.  Lao-tzu knew this truth 2,500 years ago and Jesus reminded us 500 years later.  Yet to be able to enter a life of Spirit one has to give up our life as we know it.  This is a concept that ego will ridicule and work to convince us that it will have disastrous consequences.

If you want your children to be brilliant, tell them fairy tales.   Albert Einstein

The one possible way of giving meaning to (human) existence is that of raising their natural relation to the world to a spiritual one.   Albert Schweitzer

I didn’t arrive at my understanding of the fundamental laws of the Universe through my rational mind.   Albert Einstein

When you succeed in connecting your energy with the divine realm through high awareness and the practice of undiscriminating virtue, the transmission of the ultimate subtle truths will follow.  Lao-tzu

The ancient theosophists were called analogists because of their custom of interpreting all scriptures and sacred symbols as metaphors for an inner reality.  When we have comprehended their hidden meaning we have seen into ourselves and recognized our own powers and potentials.    H.P. Blavatsky

 

Myths and symbols are messages from the past that convey human understanding of life.   Myths speak to us in pictures, stories and concepts that often cannot be communicated in words alone.  It would be a mistake to try and take them all literally.  It would be a bigger mistake to not learn from the lessons and wisdom they are trying to pass on to us.

Myths preceded the development of primitive writing and were the way humans explained the world around them.  The first recorded evidence of the myths was the hieroglyphics and pictures in Egypt around 3200 B.C.  The Greeks left tablets giving evidence of its myths around 1300 B.C.  In time, every culture in the ancient world had a fully developed set of myths to explain the origins of humans and their environment.

The symbolism of every people reflects the same spiritual principles.  Myths recognize, in symbolic stories, that in our lifetime we must learn to balance the dual energies within us.  Myths tell the underlying stories from every part of the world and every epoch in human history.  Knowledge of human consciousness has been preserved in symbols, allegories and myths.  This symbolic language lays out the journey we all must take from ignorance to knowledge.

Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.                  Joseph Campbell

Mythology is –

a production of poetical fantasy from prehistoric times, misunderstood by succeeding ages.   Muller

a repository of allegorical instruction, to shape the individual to his group.   Durkheim

a group dream, symptomatic of archetypal urges within the depths of the human psyche.   Jung

the traditional vehicle of man’s profoundest metaphysical insights.  Coomaraswamy

All mystics speak the same language, for they come from the same country.   De Saint Martin

The mystics of all religions concur on what to believe:  that the core of our personality is divine, and that the purpose of life is to discover this divinity for ourselves.   Eknath Easwaran

What we have lost in the modern world is our “transcendental anchor.”  It appears many of us have forgot the ancient wisdom that the goal of religion is not to “perfect ourselves,’ or “get in touch with ourselves,” but to get beyond ourselves, in an effort to find something far, far greater than our isolated little egos.    Vaclav Havel

 

 

 

 

We need to find security and peace of mind in a world whose very nature is insecurity, impermanence, and unceasing changes.

Many human beings appear to be happy only when they have a future that they can look forward to, either tomorrow or eternity.  Could they be trying to drown out the realization that perhaps all is futile and meaningless?

One of the greatest favors bestowed on the soul transiently in this life is to enable it to see so distinctly and to feel so profoundly that it cannot comprehend God at all.    St. John of the Cross

The desire for security and feeling of insecurity may be the same thing.

Insecurity is the result of trying to be secure.   Allan Watts

The principal thing is to understand that there is no safety or security.

The notion of security is based on the feeling that there is something within us that is permanent, something that endures forever.

The highest to which man can attain is wonder: and if the prime phenomenon makes him wonder, let him be content; nothing higher can it give him, and nothing further should he seek for behind it; here is the limit.  Goethe

Life must be accepting and embrace insecurity, so as to not miss the realities and pleasures of the moment.