Recently on the Internet I discovered a few lists of the signs of spiritual awakening (sometimes also referred to as symptoms of spiritual awakening). The lists I’ve come across so far are vague and unclear (for example: headaches and body aches, feeling as though you’re on an emotional roller coaster “for no reason,” changes in energy levels, sleep patterns, jobs, and/or relationships, gaining or losing weight, even an itchy scalp–all apparently for no reason), so I decided to come up with my own list of what I understand to be the most essential and relevant signs and symptoms of spiritual awakening.
The following is a list of nine things I experienced during the process of awakening:
1. Synchronicities that are meaningful to you. (These help point you in the right direction or help spark an important new insight.)
2. Intensely painful life “changes” that you can’t explain or know how you’ll get through. (This assures that you look within for the answers. Note that “change” is often a polite way of saying “loss.”)
3. All-consuming inner contemplation followed by possible reassessment of beliefs, especially at 3 or 4 in the morning (often triggered by happenings or things you can’t explain using your current belief systems or knowledge).
4. Receiving “secret messages” from people who aren’t aware they’re relaying special messages to you. (If they had known, they may have hesitated, and sometimes spirit just doesn’t want to take chances.)
5. Having the same thing (especially something that’s unusual) happen to you two or three times in a relatively short period of time, like, say, 24 hours. (This assures that you actually notice what your higher self wants you to notice.)
6. Waking up in the middle of the night feeling intense confusion. (This means your beliefs are being re-evaluated. Before you become clear and solid in your new awakened state, you will no doubt find yourself mucking through a period of deep confusion.)
7. Favorable synchronicities that happen regularly. (You can expect these to occur after you regularly follow through with your inner guidance.)
8. Intense, vivid dreams that seem to point you in a certain direction. (The further along in the process you are, the clearer your dreams will be and the more your dreams will help guide you in your daily life. The dreams will be in metaphor form, often in metaphors that make sense to you.)
9. Finding yourself laughing more often. (Sometimes you will wake up in the middle of the night, think something profound that’s also funny, and then laugh your head off. This is not a joke. Your higher self is playful and wants you to have fun while you’re awakening.)
Experiencing any (or all) of these signs means that spirit (your higher self) is trying to get your attention! Also, spirit is playful and wants you to enjoy the awakening process (it’s not all about pain and drama but about enlightenment, about becoming light-hearted). You will also be amazed at the creativity of your higher self.
Remember, the fast track to spiritual awakening does not depend on how much fame or fortune you’re born with (or currently possess), or on how many advanced degrees you have, but on how much you’re willing to (temporarily) forgo your comfort zones for the noble purpose of personal and spiritual growth. This is important because it is your individual growth that is of utmost importance at this crossroad in humanity’s collective evolution. Remember also that the signs and symptoms you experience aren’t just signs or symptoms; they are designed to assist you in the spiritual awakening process.
Sadhguru looks at the importance of the process of karma yoga, its role on the spiritual path, and how one can go about using action as a means to spiritual growth.
Question: What is the role of karma yoga in sadhana?
Sadhguru: It is not needed really. Yoga does not need karma. Yoga is to go beyond karma. Why karma yoga has been brought in is to bring about balance in a person. Whatever we call as our awareness, our love, our experience or our glimpses of our reality, if it has to be sustained, the path of non-doing is a very wonderful path, but it is very slippery. Extremely slippery. It is the simplest and the most difficult. It is not difficult but it is not at all easy, because it is simple – right now, here and now. But that here and now – how to get it? Whatever you do, it is not in your hands. It is never going to be in your hands. But your hands need something right now, you need to hold something. That is why the crutch of karma yoga.
Without the crutch, most people will not be able to walk. There are a few beings who can walk without the crutch from the first moment. They are very rare beings. Everyone else needs the crutch to manage your awareness. Without this, most people are incapable of remaining aware. So karma yoga is brought into your life to properly temper sadhana with the right kind of action.
Activity – liberating or entangling
Karma yoga has unfortunately been described as service, but it is not so. It is a way of undoing the impressions that you have gathered. If you can joyfully involve yourself in any activity, that is karma yoga. If you do it with great effort, only karma will come, noyoga will happen!
Generally it is through various activities that you perform that you get entangled and enmeshed with life. But if the activity becomes a process of liberation instead of entanglement, it is karma yoga. Whether it is work or walking on the street or talking to someone, the nature of the activity is not important. When you do something only because it is needed, where it does not mean anything to you but you are capable of involving yourself as if that is your life, it transforms you and action becomes liberating.
When we were building the Dhyanalinga, people thought, “This is it! He wants this to happen. Let us do it! Once this is done, we can relax.” They worked like their life depended on it. They went from house to house, raising funds and bringing the necessary support and made it happen. When it was done, before they said “Ooff…” I announced ten different projects. I will always keep it on because people need that kind of action. They need to do what is needed without worrying about their fulfillment and their likes and dislikes. Anyway we are doing something for our growth, so let us do something that is useful to everyone. Let us do sensible action.
There have been many masters who created action like this. When Gurdjieff started his centers in Europe, the European elite went to him. In the morning he would give them a shovel and a pickaxe and tell them, “Dig trenches.” In the hot sun, they stood and dug and dug. These were not people who are used to labor of any kind. By the time they had worked a few hours, they had blisters all over. He stood there and drove them on. By late evening, they were hungry but they worked and worked, digging trenches. Then he would look at the watch, “Okay, it is seven o‘clock. Looks like dinner time. All of you can close the trenches again before we go for dinner.” A whole day’s work!
Doing something that does not mean anything to you with total involvement is what breaks the karmic structure. Karma means action. If action has to become yoga, action should be liberating. If your activity has become a process of binding yourself, it is karma. So the question is not about how much activity you do. How you are performing the activity is what makes the difference. If you are crawling through your work, that is karma. If you are dancing through your work, that is karma yoga.
Karma: that word that gets thrown around a lot.
People talk about “good” karma versus “bad” karma, or “your” karma versus “mine.”
But despite the term’s popularity, it seems like everybody has a different idea about what it actually means. If karma is truly one of the Buddha’s most important teachings, as he himself repeatedly emphasized, then to follow in his footsteps, we need to be clear about its definition.
The Problems with “Agricultural” Karma
Probably one of the most popular misunderstandings about Buddhist Karma is the idea that everything that happens to us is our karma. If we win the lottery or have an attractive partner, it’s because we performed good deeds in the past—we have “good” karma. If we get hit by a truck or our partner cheats on us, it’s because we misbehaved and have “bad” karma. And, of course, what we do now will determine our future results. Let’s just call this the agricultural view of karma: we reap what we sow.
So, what’s wrong with this idea? Well, whether we’re Buddhist or not, it creates lots of intellectual problems.
The first is that believing we reap what we sow simply seems to contradict a great deal of our experience. We act with kindness, maybe dropping a few coins into a homeless man’s can, only to have him call us a cheap yuppie. Or our chronically underperforming co-worker who spends most of the time surfing Facebook and pilfering office supplies gets a promotion.
In other words, the wicked very often seem to prosper, even thrive, while the good seem to get a goodly portion of crap.
Why, for example, do innocent infants die? They’ve barely had enough time to learn how to digest food properly, let alone perform some wicked deed. (Of course, we need to leave Stewie from Family Guy out of this equation, as well as the idea of the infant proposed by famous psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, who viewed it as a viscous and greedy succubus bent on completely draining the mother of her vital energy.)
I’m sure you’ve already come up with the answer: we must be dealing with more than one lifetime. In fact, the claim is that we have an infinite number of lives extending into the past. With this explanation, all the rewards and atrocities of life fit together like a skillful game of Tetris. We have an account for why infants die, or why we can be completely loving and faithful to our partner, only to end up alone; it’s just our karmic comeuppance from cheating in a previous life.
Sure, we still might feel unhappy because our partner is now dating a princess from Bhutan, but at least we can mourn with a sense of ease, knowing there is some order to events in the universe, and that these personal painful events are just the fruits of old, bad karma. We can also rest easy because in the future, we’ll also reap the rewards of our fidelity—it just might take time.
If we stop here, then all is well.
However, if we push a little further beyond this logical seal, then we confront what we call “the administrative nightmare.” How can all those good and bad deeds possibly be kept track of? And not just in one lifetime, but across infinite lifetimes? What conceivable cosmic ledger could account for all those transactions? It seems like an administrative impossibility to coordinate that vast amount of information and organize events so everything unfolds correctly, and justice gets served to the right people, at the right time, in just the right way. The organizational details are so complex that it leads people to say that karma is some infinitely subtle, ineffable cosmic order, inaccessible to even the most sophisticated minds.
An even bigger problem is that, with infinite lifetimes, absolutely everyone would have enough karma for nearly anything to happen to them. Put it this way: we all have everything coming.
The irony is that this view of karma ends up undermining its original purpose of explaining an individual’s unique, personal history.
Even if we manage to somehow dismiss these logical problems, we’re left with one that chafes at the heart of Buddhism. This view of karma presupposes an abiding self that’s responsible for these events, whereas the Buddha’s central message was the radical proposal that there is no self (anattā). The agricultural view of karma rests on there being some sort of enduring “you” (call it a self, soul, mind-stream, or whatever) who is responsible for what “you” did in the past, and a “you” who will benefit or be cursed in the future.
This view of karma contributes to acting in self-cherishing, ego-reinforcing ways. In other words, it supports the very self-illusion that the Buddha considered the root of our suffering.
Karma as Intention
What did the Buddha really mean by karma? The answer is simple: intention.
He said, “Intention, I tell you, is karma. Intending, one does karma by way of body, speech, and intellect.” Defining karma in this way, the Buddha departed radically from all previous thinking about karma.
In the traditional Brahmanical culture of India, karma generally referred to action. Do good deeds, and the universe will reward you in turn. But by redefining karma as the intentions behind one’s actions, the Buddha was pointing to a deeper truth: the kinds of intentions we habitually entertain—whether they’re generous and loving, or selfish and aversive—will determine the kind of mental space we inhabit. We can’t fully control whether our dog runs away, or whether our partner cheats on us, but we do have a say in what kind of person meets those events.
Karma as intention was the central message the Buddha emphasized over and over. The more any acts of body, speech, or mind are motivated by poisonous intentions such as greed and hatred, the more toxic we become, and the more we suffer, no matter what happens to us externally. The reverse is also true: intentions of compassion and wisdom shape us into beings with greater patience, who are less susceptible to suffering, no matter what happens to us externally.
To put it succinctly: Buddhist karma is not about what happens to you, but who it happens to.
Yes, the Wicked can Prosper
The Buddha’s focus on intention rather than actions and external circumstances allows us to fully acknowledge that the wicked can prosper, and that selfish behavior can bring a person great fortune and power. However, the mental state of such a person surrounded by luxury is a whole different matter. This also means that acting with compassionate intentions won’t magically prevent us from confronting the slings and arrows of life’s misfortune.
But acting out of wholesome intentions opens up the possibility of becoming a person who encounters these challenges with less grumpiness and greater ease. We have exemplars of this possibility in our great spiritual luminaries, such as the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hahn. The fruit of their karma was not the atrocities they were victims of, but the equanimity and active compassion they show in the face of such extreme oppression and violence.
So too, getting sick is not the result of one’s bad karma. People grow old, experience the pain of illness, and eventually die. The Buddha never said you could plant the right karmic seeds to avoid any of these. They’re simply not optional.
However, whether or not we suffer when confronted by them is entirely up to us.
Not Everything is your Karma
In a sense, it’s true that karma means we reap what we sow. The only difference is that we’re sowing in the furrows of the mind, and less so in actual fields in the physical world.
That’s not to say our actions don’t have consequences. If we go around smiling at people, we’ll likely be smiled at in return. If we go around slapping people, we’re sure to get slapped. Yet, the ultimate outcome of our behavior is somewhat unpredictable. We could smile at a stranger, only to have them beat us up in return.
This unpredictability happens because there are other levels of causality working in the universe.
Not everything is our karma.
The Buddha actually taught about these other levels of causality quite explicitly in what are called the five Niyāmas. It’s worth going through them briefly. Here, we give them a modern twist.
The first level of causality is called the Utu Niyāma, or the level of physics and chemistry.
The second level is known as Bīja Niyāma, or biological causality. This new level is necessary because living organisms are more complex than just their physical and chemical constituents.
Continuing up the ladder of emergent complexity, we see that some living organisms have nervous systems and minds, which can’t be fully understood by just looking at the previous two levels of Utu and Bija Niyāma. Therefore, the Buddha talked about the Citta Niyāma, or psychological causality.
Now, some minds have a more hard-wired relationship with the previous levels. Take a lizard, for example. It behaves fairly predictably, based on tight wiring between chemical signals and genetic codes. We will never train a lizard to fetch a newspaper. Other minds, such as those of dogs and horses, have greater flexibility. Yet, teaching a dog to fetch the newspaper depends on an outside stimulus—specifically, our persistent efforts. The behavior doesn’t come entirely from inside the dog’s mind. And in fact, there may be only one animal on this planet with “self-forming” minds: humans. For us, we have to identify another level of causality: karmic or intentional causality, known as the Kamma Niyāma.
Kamma Niyāma opens a space for reflexivity, self-organization, and changing ingrained habits of body, speech, and mind. The preciousness of human life rests in this potential. Karmic causality, in other words, is a whole new level of causality in the universe, allowing us the chance to awaken to the highest level, called Dhamma Niyāma, or Ultimate Reality.
Dhamma Niyāma describes the absolute, indivisible reality, the universe in its entirety. All divisions from these heights are products of a mind struggling to grasp the ultimate. We build conceptual models to try to understand this level, and some models are certainly better than others. If that weren’t the case, the Buddha wouldn’t have bothered teaching. But at this level, all models are equally empty.
To say that everything is our karma is to usurp this vast spectrum of causality into a singular, self-centered mind.
When we realize the complexity we’re dealing with, we no longer see events as a result of karma, but rather as the product of certain physical causes and conditions. We also no longer fall prey to magical thinking, believing, for example, that by giving away money and being nice, we will get money in return and be showered with niceness.
Instead, we realize that when we replace hatred with compassion, or greed with generosity, those intentions will shape the type of being we become, whether rich or poor.
Authors: Culadasa and Matthew Immergut
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Hartwig HKD/Flickr
Source: Elephant Journal
I have a plethora of opinions concerning depression. Considering I have been to therapists my entire life, those opinions war with each other and force a place into my brain. I do have depression, or to be exact, I suffer from Bipolar disorder which entails both depression and mania. I was told that this was a disease, that I would suffer for the rest of my life. I am medicated, as well.
So imagine the churning of my thoughts when I read that depression may actually be the gateway to a spiritual enlightenment, that on the other side of some door, I could find the answer to my pain. Of course, this doesn’t include the mania, and that’s a subject for another day.
So basically, is depression an illness or simply a step toward becoming one with all existence? I have to look further now, since, of the late, I’ve been hungry for knowledge in all areas. Now this, I have to examine, as well.
Enlightened by the darkness
Dr. Lisa Miller, researcher and professor of clinical psychology at the Columbia University, through a dark time in her life, discovered there may be more to depression than illness. Driven by her despair during infertility and sharing this despair with her husband, Miller began to gradually absorb the messages of healers and helpers along the way. These healers offered support with words of wisdom about greater things in store for the Millers. Not only were there words of wisdom, but included in this journey were objects, animals and healers bound in synchronicity. What some may have seen as strange moments of coincidence, the Millers saw as a sign of what was to come. Maybe these synchronicities held the answers to their questions.
These moments ultimately left Miller with questions, questions about whether or not depression was really a disease.
If depression was a disease, then why do traumatic events in life cause this state-of-mind?
Miller’s team of researchers set out to find the answers to these questions, and they did! The study recruited a great number of those who suffered from a severity of depression which included long family histories of the ‘illness’. They paired these individuals with those who had long lineages of spiritual presence, for comparison.
It seems that the brain does actually look different in those who are depressed as opposed to those who have experienced spiritual enlightenment. Both groups showed a marked influence in the cortex region of the brain. For those with depression, the region was withered and small. Those experiencing spiritual enlightenment, however, had large thick regions in the cortex. To Miller, depression and spiritual enlightenment seemed to be opposite sides of the coin, so this discovery was not all that surprising. It wasn’t just a metaphysical connection, it involved polarity.
Could it be? Could the cortex region only be experiencing starvation? If so, depression could indeed be a journey of reaching spiritual nourishment.
Wavelengths of the human brain
To help fortify this belief, results revealed that women, who had endured suffering before reaching spiritual enlightenment, exhibited an alpha wavelength, the same as with monks during meditation. There are four wavelengths that the human brain can exhibit, including alpha, gamma, beta and delta. Alpha is the same frequency emitted by the earth, better known as the Schumann Resonance, so this means…
The spiritually engaged brain vibrates at the frequency of the earth’s crust.
– Dr. Lisa Miller
So, with this, new-to-my-ears information, I can add an additional layer to how I see depression. I cannot say that I am 100% convinced of this notion, but it is interesting. Miller does state that not all those who suffer from depression, suffer because they are on the road to an awakening, just some. I don’t know what differentiates the two either. One thing is for certain, whether it’s enlightenment or just an invisible disease, as I have come to believe over time, depression can be treated. Maybe, the deeper the depression, the closer you are to the answer. Just keep up the good fight, the answer could be right around the corner.
Source: The Learning Mind
Osho, the Indian mystic, spiritual guru or sex guru (for some) had an immense impact on the culture and religion of India. Although, originally from India, Osho faced various troubles and criticism in his own country; on the other hand, he was highly respected and earned a name as spiritual leader in western countries.
1. Osho, also known as Archarya Rajneesh, was born as Chandra Mohan Jain on 11 December 1931.
Came to be known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in 1960s and Osho during 1970-80s.
2. His major talks and preaching include sexuality. He advocated an open, free and straight attitude towards sex.
For this he was criticized by the Indian press and had earned a sobriquet as ‘sex guru’.
3. Osho owned 98 Roll Royces, all of which were donated by his disciples.
When people asked him why he didn’t donate them to the poor, he said, “Every religion in the world is taking care of the poor, why can’t they just let me take care of the rich?”
4. The book that Osho praised the most was ‘The Book Of Mirdad’, which only a few people around the globe read, and fewer liked.
5. In his dissertation, he mostly spoke about his original analysis and views on the writings of religious traditions, mystics and philosophers from around the world.
Due to which, he soon started attracting westerners.
6. Not receiving immense fan following in India, Rajneesh relocated to the United States in 1981.
Where his followers established an international community that later came to be known as Rajneeshpuram near Antelope, Oregon, south of The Dalles.
7. Rajneesh was the eldest of 11 children born to a cloth merchant in the house of his maternal grandparents in Kuchwada, a small Indian village in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh.
8. Due to his parents’ busy schedule, Osho had to live with his maternal grandparents and was majorly influenced by his grandmother.
But after his grandfather died, he went to Gadarwara to live with his parents.
9. After some years, Osho became an anti-theist and was keenly interested in hypnosis, with which he was briefly associated.
10. At the age of 21, his parents pressurized him to get married. On 21st March, 1953 he became spiritually enlightened under a tree in Bhanvartal Garden, Jabalpur.
11. Osho was harshly criticized by Indian religious leaders and the press for “making empty rituals and fake promises”.
On the other hand, he started getting a loyal fan following which included wealthy merchants and businessmen from around the world.
12. Osho’s secretary, Laxmi Thakarsi Kuruwa, who was the daughter of one of his followers, a wealthy Jain who was Osho’s first disciple, was named ‘Ma Yoga Laxmi’ by Osho.
13. Osho continued his teachings, and died on January 9, 1990 in Pune from a heart attack. (Some sources say, he was killed by the government of America.)
Virtuous actions consist of abandoning the ten negative actions and, on the other hand, of practicing their opposite.
The ten virtuous actions of Tibetan Buddhism are:
1. By avoiding killing and harming the others, and by protecting the life of other beings we will gain a long life and a good health.
2. By avoiding stealing and by practicing generosity, by making sacrifices, we will have wealth, no thieves and enemies, and a good physique.
3. By maintaining a pure sexual conduct, we will have a good partner and only a few enemies.
4.By avoiding lying and by talking sincerely and directly, we will be appreciated and respected by everyone.
5. By avoiding slandering and by making peace between the people that hate each other, we will have disciples and respectful employees.
6. By avoiding painful words and by talking calmly, amiably and gently, we will hear nice things.
7. By avoiding talking uselessly and by talking about important things, our words will be listened.
8. By avoiding greed and by cultivating an open and generous mentality, our wishes will come true.
9. By avoiding having bad thoughts and by cultivating love and goodwill, we won’t be afraid and we won’t suffer any harm.
10. By avoiding being involved in wrong beliefs, by cultivating the real point of view and by practicing it, we will have a correct and intelligent vision of reality.
I read a lot of biographies and memoirs about inspiring peoplewho place radical trust in God. (By “radical” I don’t mean reckless or imprudent, but am referring to the difficult, very counter-cultural act of recognizing God’s sovereignty over every area of our lives.
More on that here.) From He Leadeth Me to God’s Smuggler, Mother Angelica to The Heavenly Man to The Shadow of His Wings, these true stories are about people from all walks of the Christian life: Catholic and Protestant, consecrated religious and lay people, men and women. And yet they all have distinct similarities in their approaches to life and the Lord.
I found it fascinating to see what common threads could be found in the lives of these incredible people who place so much trust in the Lord, and thought I’d share in case others find it inspiring as well.
1. THEY ACCEPT SUFFERING
One of the most powerful things I’ve read in recent memory is Brother Yun’s story of being a persecuted pastor in China, as recounted in the book The Heavenly Man. After facing weeks of torture, including electrocution, starvation, beatings, and having needles shoved under his fingernails, he was thrown in a box that was four feet long, three feet wide, and four feet high, where he would stay indefinitely. The day after he was put in this mini cell, he felt prompted to pray for a Bible — a ridiculous idea, considering that many people were in prison at that very moment for being in possession of such contraband. Yet he prayed anyway. And, inexplicably, the guards threw a Bible into his cell the next morning. He writes:
I knelt down and wept, thanking the Lord for this great gift. I could scarcely believe my dream had come true! No prisoner was ever allowed to have a Bible or any Christian literature, yet, strangely, God provided a Bible for me! Through this incident the Lord showed me that regardless of men’s evil plans for me, he had not forgotten me and was in control of my life.
Now, the less saintly among us (cough-cough) might have reacted to that a little differently. Had I been tortured and thrown in a coffin-like cell, my reaction to receiving a Bible would have likely been more along the lines of, “Thanks for the Bible, Lord, but could we SEE ABOUT GETTING ME OUT OF THIS METAL BOX FIRST?!?!” I wouldn’t have even “counted” the Bible as an answered prayer since my main prayer — reducing my physical suffering — had gone unanswered.
Yet what I see over and over again in people like Brother Yun is that they have crystal clarity on the fact that suffering is not the worst evil — sin is. Yes, they would prefer not to suffer, and do sometimes pray for the relief of suffering. But they prioritize it lower than the rest of us do — they focus far more on not sinning than on not suffering. They have a laser focus on getting themselves and others to heaven. In Brother Yun’s case, he saw through that answered prayer that God was allowing him to grow spiritually and minister to his captors, so his circumstances of suffering in an uncomfortable cell became almost irrelevant to him.
2. THEY ACCEPT THE INEVITABILITY OF DEATH
Similar to the above, people who place great trust in God can only do so with a heaven-centered worldview. They think in terms of eternity, not in terms of calendar years. Their goal is not to maximize their time on earth, but rather to get themselves and as many other people as possible to heaven. And if God can best do that by shortening their lifespans, they accept that.
The Shadow of His Wings is filled with jaw-dropping stories of Fr. Goldmann’s miraculous escapes from death during World War II, which begs the question, “What about all the people who didn’t escape death?” Fr. Goldmann would probably respond by saying that God saving him from death was not the blessing in and of itself — after all, every single one of us will die eventually. The blessing was saving him from death so that he could continue his ministry bringing the Gospel to the Nazis. He eventually died while building a ministry in Japan, and presumably accepted that God would bring good from his passing, even though there was undoubtedly more work he wanted to do.
3. THEY HAVE DAILY APPOINTMENTS WITH GOD
I have never heard of a person who had a deep, calm trust in the Lord who did not set aside time for focused prayer every day. Both in the books I’ve read and in real life, I’ve noticed that people like this always spend at least a few moments — and up to an hour or two if circumstances permit — focused on nothing but prayer, every day. Also, they tend to do it first thing in the morning, centering themselves in Christ before tackling anything else the day may bring.
4. IN PRAYER, THEY LISTEN MORE THAN THEY TALK
I’ve written before about my amazement that really holy people seem to get their prayers answered more often than the rest of us. I’d heard enough stories of people praying for something very specific, then receiving it, that I started to wonder if they were psychic or God just liked them more than the rest of us or something. What I eventually realized is that their ideas about what to pray for came from the Holy Spirit in the first place, because they spent so much time seeking God’s will for them, day in and day out.
So, to use the example of a famous story from Mother Angelica’s biography, she had a satellite dish delivery man at the door who needed $600,000 or he was going to return the dish, thus killing all the plans for the new station. She ran to the chapel and prayed, and a guy she’d never met randomly called and wanted to donate $600,000. Her prayer wasn’t answered because she had a personal interest in television and just really, really wanted it, but because she had correctly discerned God’s plan that she was to start a television station on this particular day.
5. THEY LIMIT DISTRACTIONS
Of all the amazing stories in God’s Smuggler, one of the lines that jumped out to me the most in the book was in the epilogue, when the authors talk about how Brother Andrew’s work has continued in 21st century:
“I won’t even consider installing one of those call waiting monstrosities,” he exclaimed, “that interrupt one phone conversation to announce another.” Technology, Andrew says, makes us far too accessible to the demands and pressures of the moment. “Our first priority should be listening in patience and silence for the voice of God.”
Far too accessible to the demands and pressures of the moment. That line has haunted me ever since I read it. I love technology, but it does come with a huge temptation to feel a general increase in urgency in our lives: I have to reply to that email! Respond to that comment on my wall on Facebook! Ret-tweet that tweet! Read that direct message! Listen to that voicemail! Here in the connected age, we are constantly bombarded with demands on our attention. Periods of silence, where we can cultivate inner stillness and wait for the promptings of the Holy Spirit, are increasingly rare.
One thing that all the people in these books have in common is that they had very little of this pressure of false urgency. It’s hard to imagine Fr. Ciszek coming up with the breathtaking insights about God’s will that he shared in He Leadeth Me with his iPhone buzzing alerts every few minutes, or Brother Yun seeing the subtle beauty of God’s plan in the midst of persecution while keeping his Twitter status updated on a minute-by-minute basis.
6. THEY SUBMIT THEIR DISCERNMENT TO OTHERS
People who have a long history of watching the way the Lord works in their lives notice that he often speaks through holy friends, family members and clergy. If they discern that God is calling them to something, especially if it’s something big, they ask trusted Christian confidantes to pray about the matter and see if they discern the same thing. And when others warn them not to follow a certain path — especially if it’s a spouse, confessor or spiritual director — they take those indicators very seriously.
7. THEY OFFER THE LORD THEIR COMPLETE, UNHESITATING OBEDIENCE
One of my favorite parts of God’s Smuggler is when Brother Andrew got a visit from a man named Karl de Graaf who was part of a prayer group in which people often spent hours of time in prayer, most of it listening in silence:
I went out to the front stoop, and there was Karl de Graaf. “Hello!” I said, surprised.
“Hello, Andy. Do you know how to drive?”
“No,” I said, bewildered. “No, I don’t.”
“Because last night in our prayers we had a word from the Lord about you. It’s important for you to be able to drive.”
“Whatever on earth for?” I said. “I’ll never own a car, that’s for sure.”
“Andrew,” Mr. de Graaf spoke patiently, as to a slow-witted student, “I’m not arguing for the logic of the case. I’m just passing on the message.” And with that, he was striding across the bridge.
Despite his initial hesitation, Brother Andrew discerned that this was something that God was calling him to do, so he learned to drive. It seemed like a complete waste of time, an utterly illogical use of his resources, but he was obedient to the Lord’s call. I won’t spoil what happened next for those of you who plan to read the book, but let’s just say that shortly after he received his license, it turned out to be critical to the future of his ministry (which eventually brought the Gospel to thousands of people behind the Iron Curtain) that he know how to drive.
I often think of how Mr. de Graaf responded when Brother Andrew was scratching his head about this odd message: “That’s the excitement in obedience,” he said. “Finding out later what God had in mind.”
Obviously we can’t grow closer to God by aping the actions of others, but I find lists like this helpful as a starting point for reflection on my own spiritual progress. I hope you found it helpful as well!
Some days our minds have a difficult time understanding God’s plan. At least that’s true for me. I’m guessing it’s true for you too. We want so desperately to “get it all.” To see God’s plan for the future. To understand how it is all going to work out right here on this earth. In this decade. Or this year. Or this week. Or this second.
I can’t see the future. Although my kids might argue with that statement a bit. After all, they think I have eyes in the back of my head.
When I can’t understand God’s plan, there is a question I find myself asking:
Where is God in all this?
The more I’ve been reflecting on this question recently, the more I’ve realized that the problem is not where God is.
Because God is everywhere.
The problem is that I’m asking the wrong question. You see, the question I should be asking is:
Why can’t I see God in this?
Because His fingerprints are all over His handiwork. Even when bad things happen to good people, He molds and reshapes until you can’t even recognize the bad anymore. It’s a plan called “redemption.”
So I’ve stopped asking God where He is. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that He’s been here since before the beginning of time and He’s not going anywhere. The Alpha and Omega.
I’ve started asking Him to reveal Himself to me.
Lord, help me see Your work in this situation.
I pray prayers like this one for when you can’t understand God’s plan.
And I am reminded to trust the Creator of the universe through these 14 Bible verses for when I can’t understand God’s plan.
So I thought I would share them with you.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. Psalm 147:5
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Ps. 8:3&4
Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind? (this is God questioning Job) Job 38:35&36
For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD, and there is no other. Isa. 45:18
But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! Luke 12:28
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isa. 55:9
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, Deut. 7:9
For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death. Ps. 48:14
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5&6
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. Isa. 40:28
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! Ps. 111:10
Do you have a Bible verse you could share that helps you understand God’s plan when you can’t? Would love it if you’d leave it in the comments.
Author: Rachel Wojnarowski
Sadhguru looks at the significance of the being we call Shiva, and how his contribution to humanity is truly unique.
Question: Sadhguru, you place great importance on Shiva. Why do you not talk so much about other Masters, like Masters of Zen for example?
Sadhguru: Because there is no one crazy enough for me. We are not talking about Shiva versus someone else. That which you refer to as Shiva includes everything. There have been many wonderful human beings who have done great service to humanity. But in terms of perception, there has not been another being like him.
So you are talking about Zen. What greater master of Zen than Shiva himself? Have you heard of the Zen Master Gutei? Whenever Gutei was talking about Zen, he would always raise his finger, trying to show, “Everything is one.” In these Zen monasteries, little boys became monks at four, five years of age. A little boy like this who was growing up in the monastery saw Gutei and also began to raise his index finger whenever anyone said anything. Gutei watched this but waited for the boy to become sixteen years of age. Then one day, Gutei called the boy and raised his finger. The boy instinctively also did the same thing. Gutei took out a knife and chopped off the boy’s finger, and they say the boy attained. He suddenly saw the point that it is not about one, it is about nothing.
Shiva went further, a long time ago. One day, after a long absence, he came back home. He had not seen his son who was now ten, eleven years of age. When he came, this boy, who carried a little trident, tried to stop him. Shiva took off his head, not his trident. Parvati was hugely upset about this. So to fix this, Shiva put a gana’s head on the boy’s body, who then became very brilliant. Even today in India, before people start education or anything else, they will first worship this boy. Now people have kind of modified it and the gana head has become a gaja [elephant] head, but he became the very embodiment of intelligence and brilliance. They said there was nothing that he did not know.
That was the first act of Zen. Nothing in this world is left out of Shiva’s life. He is so complex and so complete. And he did not have a teaching, he only had methods, and these methods are one hundred percent scientific in nature. He gave 112 ways in which a human being can attain because there are 114 chakrasin the human system, but two of them are outside the physical body, so he said, “That realm is only for those who are beyond. For human beings, there are only 112 ways.” And he showed clear methods as to how you can exploit these 112 dimensions of how this life is made. Through each one of them, you can realize.
What Shiva was talking is the mechanics of life, no philosophy, no teaching, no social relevance – simply science. From this science, individual masters make technology. He gave the science of it. Behind the technologies that you are enjoying today, either in the form of a smartphone or a computer or some other gadget, there is a science. That science is not relevant to you. You are only using the technology. But if someone had not grasped the science, you would not have the technology.
So what Shiva said is simply pure science. He left it to the Saptarishis to make the technology as it would suit the people who would sit in front of them on that day. Technology can be made up. Depending upon what we need, we produce a particular gadget, but the fundamental science is the same. Gadgets that are relevant today may be irrelevant tomorrow. So many gadgets that we once thought were very valuable are no more valuable because new gadgets have come – but the science is the same.
So with the Adiyogi, we are looking at the fundamental science. At a time like this, when for various reasons, humanity is in the kind of state that it is in, it is important that the essential science is strengthened.
Source: Isha Blog
I read this amazing article by “Sadhguru” on his blog and found it amazing, felt like sharing this with you. Please give it a read.
Who is Shiva? Many stories and legends surround this most prominent figure of Indian spiritual traditions. Is he a god? Or a myth constructed from Hindu culture’s collective imagination? Or is there a deeper meaning to Shiva, revealed only to those who seek?
Sadhguru: When we say “Shiva,” there are two fundamental aspects that we are referring to. The word “Shiva” means literally, “that which is not.” Today, modern science is proving to us that everything comes from nothing and goes back to nothing. The basis of existence and the fundamental quality of the cosmos is vast nothingness. The galaxies are just a small happening – a sprinkling. The rest is all vast empty space, which is referred to as Shiva. That is the womb from which everything is born, and that is the oblivion into which everything is sucked back. Everything comes from Shiva and goes back to Shiva.
So Shiva is described as a non-being, not as a being. Shiva is not described as light, but as darkness. Humanity has gone about eulogizing light only because of the nature of the visual apparatus that they carry. Otherwise, the only thing that is always, is darkness. Light is a limited happening in the sense that any source of light – whether a light bulb or the sun – will eventually lose its ability to give out light. Light is not eternal. It is always a limited possibility because it happens and it ends. Darkness is a much bigger possibility than light. Nothing needs to burn, it is always – it is eternal. Darkness is everywhere. It is the only thing that is all pervading.
But if I say “divine darkness,” people think I am a devil worshiper or something. In fact, in some places in the West it is being propagated that Shiva is a demon! But if you look at it as a concept, there isn’t a more intelligent concept on the planet about the whole process of creation and how it has happened. I have been talking about this in scientific terms without using the word “Shiva” to scientists around the world, and they are amazed, “Is this so? This was known? When?” We have known this for thousands of years. Almost every peasant in India knows about it unconsciously. He talks about it without even knowing the science behind it.
The First Yogi
On another level, when we say “Shiva,” we are referring to a certain yogi, the Adiyogi or the first yogi, and also the Adi Guru, the first Guru, who is the basis of what we know as the yogic science today. Yoga does not mean standing on your head or holding your breath. Yoga is the science and technology to know the essential nature of how this life is created and how it can be taken to its ultimate possibility.
This first transmission of yogic sciences happened on the banks of Kanti Sarovar, a glacial lake a few miles beyond Kedarnath in the Himalayas, where Adiyogi began a systematic exposition of this inner technology to his first seven disciples, celebrated today as the Sapta Rishis. This predates all religion. Before people devised divisive ways of fracturing humanity to a point where it seems almost impossible to fix, the most powerful tools necessary to raise human consciousness were realized and propagated.
One and the Same
So “Shiva” refers to both “that which is not,” and Adiyogi, because in many ways, they are synonymous. This being, who is a yogi, and that non-being, which is the basis of the existence, are the same, because to call someone a yogi means he has experienced the existence as himself. If you have to contain the existence within you even for a moment as an experience, you have to be that nothingness. Only nothingness can hold everything. Something can never hold everything. A vessel cannot hold an ocean. This planet can hold an ocean, but it cannot hold the solar system. The solar system can hold these few planets and the sun, but it cannot hold the rest of the galaxy. If you go progressively like this, ultimately you will see it is only nothingness that can hold everything. The word “yoga” means “union.” A yogi is one who has experienced the union. That means, at least for one moment, he has been absolute nothingness.
When we talk about Shiva as “that which is not,” and Shiva as a yogi, in a way they are synonymous, yet they are two different aspects. Because India is a dialectical culture, we shift from this to that and that to this effortlessly. One moment we talk about Shiva as the ultimate, the next moment we talk about Shiva as the man who gave us this whole process of yoga.
Who Shiva is Not!
Unfortunately, most people today have been introduced to Shiva only through Indian calendar art. They have made him a chubby-cheeked, blue-colored man because the calendar artist has only one face. If you ask for Krishna, he will put a flute in his hand. If you ask for Rama, he will put a bow in his hand. If you ask for Shiva, he will put a moon on his head, and that’s it!
Every time I see these calendars, I always decide to never ever sit in front of a painter. Photographs are all right – they capture you whichever way you are. If you look like a devil, you look like a devil. Why would a yogi like Shiva look chubby-cheeked? If you showed him skinny it would be okay, but a chubby-cheek Shiva – how is that?
In the yogic culture, Shiva is not seen as a God. He was a being whowalked this land and lived in the Himalayan region. As the very source of the yogic traditions, his contribution in the making of human consciousness is too phenomenal to be ignored. Every possible way in which you could approach and transform the human mechanism into an ultimate possibility was explored thousands years ago. The sophistication of it is unbelievable. The question of whether people were so sophisticated at that time is irrelevant because this did not come from a certain civilization or thought process. This came from an inner realization. This had nothing to do with what was happening around him. It was just an outpouring of himself. In great detail, he gave a meaning and a possibility of what you could do with every point in the human mechanism. You cannot change a single thing even today because he said everything that could be said in such beautiful and intelligent ways. You can only spend your lifetime trying to decipher it.
Shiva & Shakti shrines from 8-12 century AD
In this country, in ancient times, temples were built mostly for Shiva, no one else. It was only in the last 1000 or so years that other temples came up. The word “Shiva” literally means “that which is not.” So the temple was built for “that which is not.” “That which is” is physical manifestation; “that which is not” is that which is beyond the physical. A temple is a hole through which you enter into a space which is not. There are thousands of Shiva temples in the country, and most of them don’t have any form as such. They just have a representative form and generally it is a linga.
Source: Isha Blog