Tag Archives: life lessons

When Creativity Is On the Line

I was talking to a student today about choosing courses. The student was reluctant to take a more challenging course next year because he didn’t want to do a science research project. After more conversation, he decided that he was terrified that his research project would fail or that he would not have any creative ideas.

The fear he felt looked a lot like the fear of life: we make a committment without knowing the outcome, we are born to be unique without knowing what that looks like, and we are given raw material without the plans (bacause we are the dynamic, living plans). Life can be frightening because nothing guarantees that we will “succeed.”

I felt puzzled while listening to the student – how can one carry so much doubt about having creative ideas? I am always in creative mode: moving, adjusting, reevaluating, researching, asking “what if…”, and ceaselessly reconfiguring my understanding of the questions I want to ask next. But then I remembered that I had similar issues in the past: I worried that I would not have the right answer when I needed to have one ready, or I wouldn’t be able to complete something in time, or whatever I do would not be good enough. I don’t fully remember these feelings now, but I could see their essence through the eyes of this student.

We didn’t talk about life. We talked about ways to approach having creative ideas and allowing ideas to take shape. We talked about looking at work that was done previously, and then saying “What would happen if I changed this…? What would happen if I tried this…?”

Creativity is a billion-dollar subject. People can’t stop talking about innovation to create the “world we can’t even imagine yet” (an overused phrase). In terms of everyday living, such dreams are usually tied into money and profits, which translate to “I can do whatever I want after I make money.

In deeper life terms, spontaneity and creativity are tied into something much more profound than the means to gratify every desire instantly. Creativity is actually about accessing and expressing our true nature, which is flexible, flowing, adept at stitching together bits and pieces into complete creations, and ripping apart old monuments at the right time to make space for change. Creativity does not take any established ideas for granted, and always reevaluates them for how viable they remain.

What we create is a reflection of the art we feel ourselves to be. Both our desire and calling to be creative is a hint that we are more than laborers, or shoppers, or bill-payers. There is something much more magical that unites all of us in the stream of life.

If we believe ourselves to be plastic toy soldiers, popped out of a mould, it may feel safer. Or, we may get behind someone else who seems to know how to move without hesitation – just like when trucks drive behind one another to minimize air resistance. Maybe then we feel like something about life is tried and true and safe.

However, we buy this feeling of safety at a steep cost – our very uniqueness, our self worth, and drawing boundaries around our existence – which we dare never cross. This is what people call a normal life. It is no wonder that highly creative people often stood apart from the crowd, and sometimes stood apart from the mass majority. When these icebreakers owned up to the truth of their being, they no longer fit into the rank and file of society. Their lives were tragic when they cared too much about being out of place, and also made of legend.

To be creative, one has to learn how to play. The toys don’t matter, as long as they help one to express their true nature in new and evolving ways. However, boundless confidence to be creative is not enough without the recognition that we impact the lives of others. Without empathy and compassion, we are mere powertools. Just because we can create many things does not mean that everything should be created.

With power to create comes great responsibility. It is wonderful when our nature is hardwired with kindness. Until we are on automatic, we must take great care to cultivate sensitivity to the big picture of life. If everyone’s creativity spontaneously ignited without the complementary awakening of the heart, humanity would self destruct rather quickly – and in very creative ways!

After our conversation, the student felt hopeful about his ability to try and you could see his creativity begin to move. He has to put himself into action and see the project through to the end. We talked about building something that would benefit others.

He has to experience his ability to live with a situation that does not have a set outcome, and come through with a feeling of knowing himself just a bit more. With each experience, he will learn to recognize when and how to move in life to express his uniqueness within community.

What I Want My Kids to Learn

I hope my kids learn that they have the potential to be unique, that they can trust the process of life above all else, and that they are free to participate fully in their life.

Most people do not awaken to their uniqueness and do things that have been done countless times before. Most people try to control the uncontrollable – and fail. Most people are trapped in illusions, games, virtual realities, self-created worlds – and they enjoy these fragments over the full reality.

What is reality, anyway? I see it as that which results from an uninterrupted conscious connection to what lives all of us. Reality is the deep-dive into a fiery pit that burns up anything that is not It. What remains is a unique embrace of human and Divine that shines its own light – much like a star that reaches critical temperature for sustained nuclear fusion: the initial burst of light pushes gases out of the way, and then the star is free to beam into space and entwine its light with matter through all expanse.

Reality is unique for each of us because no two will embrace the Divine the same way. Paradoxically, It is also absolute. So, reality is not for the mind to understand but for Life itself to birth as It goes.

I am a pragmatist above all else. As someone who has lived through a wide spectrum of experiences and have overcome numerous hardships, I have come to understand that nothing in life is certain. Life broke me of the desire for certainty because certainty does not exist amidst flux. Then comes the question – how does one live in the face of constant change? Self-reliance, perseverance, and a life-wise telephoto lens that zooms in and out of detail – so that you can see the forest and the trees.

My pragmatism is not cold survivalism. While I identify possibilities and open doors for opportunities to grow, I also burn closed loops and dead pathways. Thus, I risk everything to be true to what I am and I trust That. My life is akin to grooming a Bonzai tree: I prune dead ends, and I cultivate potential channels for expression that is ever near and dear to the core of my being.

I prefer the sweet satisfaction of doing joy, happiness, and exploring new ways to move in our ever changing world. I teach in a school, but I am not a “teacher.” I write, but I am not a “writer.” I make jokes and laugh, but I am no “comedian.” I sing, but I am no “rock star.” Who we are cannot have a label. We can only be seen for all that we are by those who have the ability to see.

I hope my kids will see deeply into life and move with life – partner with life. I hope for them to see the limitations of video games and YouTube channels and movies and shallow conversation, and to be unsatisfied with anything shy of their depth.

Life leaves us breadcrumbs and constant signals to guide us into our fullness. Why not follow these? Why not surrender to truth that can only exist as we live it? While we have the potential to be alive, few have dared to tap it. Most seek safe nooks to hide in and live like hibernating bears. They eat, drink, seek pleasure, and dream. They suffer as the reality of life bleeds through their illusions and causes friction. I hope for my kids to see this root cause of suffering.

If there is no one to see a rainbow, does it exist? A rainbow is the effect of sunlight passing through water droplets and exiting the droplets at just the right angle. The observer must be at a certain location relative to the sun to see the rainbow! If there is no observer there, did the rainbow occur? Yes it did. The light went to that location to be received – whether or not it was received. The Universe recognizes all opportunities and possibilities, whether or not they were engaged. The secret to life is knowing that the truth is always available – to humanity and all else. Being human is not the only way to embrace the Divine, after all.

I hope for my kids to recognize the richness of life, and to see both their individuality and the Whole they represent. I hope for them to pierce the miasm of self-doubt that casts a shadow on the human race. Self-doubt is the leading cause of suicide, as I understand it, which the CDC reported today to be on the rise by 25% since 1999. When reality rubs against our limited perception, the result is disillusionment and unbearable pain. Few recognize this pain as an opportunity to see beyond our limited definition of life. What we think isn’t what it is. Anything to stop the pain, even die. I’ve been there, but I pulled up. It is extremely difficult to do in the moment of hitting bottom.

I hope for my kids to understand the intrinsic and uncaused value of life. They are more than the sum of their thoughts, actions, and words. They are a Big Bang poised to birth a universe. They are deeply loved. They lack nothing. They cannot be defined simplistically, and thus can never be judged for being.

I hope for my kids to choose wisely and to learn the map of how life works in its current state. They must navigate relationships with mostly self-absorbed people who are still asleep, shifting economic trends, and constant choices. Choices have consequences, and timing is everything. Learning to feel the clocks of life starting and stopping is key.

I know that no one can ruin my life because I am responsible for my choices. There is a huge difference between taking responsibility and casting blame. I hope for my kids to learn this difference so that they hold others – and themselves – accountable without blaming.

I hope for my kids to have the courage to be themselves, and the wisdom to not martyr themselves. Wisdom grows as you let go into the moment and allow yourself to be in whatever the moment is, taking appropriate action that expresses you. After all, you is all there is when you let go. Honing the craft of engaging the moment is to master life.

Truth vs. Our Role as Truth

People say: “If it’s not simple, it can’t be truth. Truth is simple.” Some truth is simple, like living a life of surrender to the Divine. But not all truth is simple – by far. By writing this article, I am holding back a lot. Some will think this is some New Age drivel, perhaps. But New Age has distorted much information – like a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle scattered on a table, and the people who spread disinformation have simply misinterpreted their experiences or copied and propagated someone else’s misinterpretations.

Most people feel enough complexity just surviving day-to-day. This is most of the human race. A small fraction is dabbling in trying to control our reality without fully understanding what they are doing – magik, mediumship, channeling, etc. Such people are quick to speak about their advanced states and exclusivity of their abilities, but so what? The fact remains that any manipulation of forces that are interconnected with others creates consequences.

My experience is that we live in a highly complex universe with many levels of interactions among many types of beings, including the beings on earth, planets, and stars. What we consider living sentient beings, on average, is too limited at this time. While the Truth of our reality is very complex and mindblowing, our role in Truth – in Life – is very simple (e.g., loving, pure, and detached service of whatever we can offer). We can focus on opening our hearts and our minds to the richness of existence while contributing our unique creativity and willingness to help. This is simple, which is why it is far from easy.

There are boundaries set by karmic law for which levels of beings are able and allowed to interact. Our Earth is only one planet with life among myriads of planets, but we are not that evolved (relatively speaking). Advanced races on the Light path, who abide by karmic law, do not come near us – they do not because we are primarily out of range of their consciousness – like a mosquito appears to a human. However, advanced races who have taken the dark path have no problem interfering with our evolution and adding to the chaos we ourselves have already caused.

There are non-human guardians posted to protect us from external interference, for we are still too self-absorbed to fully do that for ourselves. However, there are occasional bleedthroughs of alien consciousness that mixes with ours. It is my understanding that this premature mixing is not uncommon, but it does add complexity. Such guardians see our human race from the perspective of the One Spirit, of which we are fragments – they do not interact with individuals who have not reached that perspective or get involved in the minutia of our daily events.

Telling apart which information comes from which sources can only be done by a person who has reached the evolutionary level of these sources. Such people exist, but are very few. Most are still stuck in the false (lower level) light of the Astral plane, which is similar to a reflection in water full of ripples and waves. Even this “stuckness” is a normal part of the evolution of a race, as it is training people to feel beyond the physical – even if without clarity.

Some people have evolved to the point of sensing and even participating in our broader reality with clear discernment. Such people are literally invisible as Masters – you can walk by one and never know who they truly are, and they won’t tell you what they really do. That is OK too. It is all part of the stage at which we find ourselves.

While we all love interesting stories and ideas, would it be too much to accept that we don’t have a first-hand clear experience of Reality? Or, does it require too much humbleness to admit that we are ignorant of how our Reality fits together and plays out?

Would it be too much to ask that we stop looking for someone else to tell us what will happen tomorrow, and – instead – focus 100% on giving each and every day to surrender to the One Life that we are?

Would it be too much to say that, right now, most of us are in the role of taking out the trash after a messy party – on many levels, and to embrace that role with a humble heart?

The loud ones with loud claims of grandiosity are distracting those who could just as easily be involved in the cleanup role – of our bodies, our emotions and minds, our planet, and the Astral Plane…. How? Just wake up every morning and immediately ask “How can I serve today?” – the opportunities will present themselves, even if it is to serve your own true needs. This kind of keeping it real is not for the overly intellectual or the ultraspiritual because it requires the rolling up of sleeves and a strong nose for strong smell. That’s pretty simple, but far from easy for those who want to keep pretending profound transformation is easy.

What Is Worth Learning?

I wish I had asked myself this question when I was a teenager, hungry for transformation and grabbing any and every book off the shelf. The short answer is to learn only what you absolutely need to birth something completely new in Life, as aligned to your Life’s expression. But maybe we need to unpack that….

Much of what I learned at the beginning, I had to unlearn. And, over time, I became more selective to attract the knowledge and skills I needed for my next shift. Learning to unlearn is worth learning, without any self-deprecation. 

There is something to the idea of attracting the knowledge you need when you set your intention to fully Live You, and in due time. Maybe it sounds too simple, but most simple things are usually true.

Eventually, I learned that we do not all have the same prescribed curriculum – either academically or in the school of Life. We are unique beings with a unique venture to bring about something new to Life by Being, and not spin endlessly on a common wheel of rehashed and even distorted perspectives. 

The idea that we, at our peak, create new connections as the web of Life, is likely very old – although I don’t know its source. However, too few souls accomplish this and fall into repetition. For example, one cannot become a Master unless one has done something new. This may sound like a Master is a graduate student, working on a Ph.D.  thesis and presenting that thesis to a committee of established Masters. The main difference is that academic theses are highly focused, but the Master-to-be aims to shift Life energies at global scales and with great sensitivity and discernment to true outcomes. There are many actions that cannot be taken on behalf of the human race because they take away from others’ Life learning. And yet, many actions can be taken to help uplift the human race – these cannot be ignored.

Presumably, high school is about absorbing human knowledge and applying basic thought processes in broad brush strokes. Surely, this is a noble enough goal – to get kids on the same page about what is known by the human race, which questions are still unanswered, and the strategies we can use to critically think about the world. If the students are lucky, they will also learn about human interaction and empathy, and walk forward with a greater appreciation for the human race and its rich diversity on a rather small Earth. If students are fortunate, they will be inspired to further cultivate their true expression.

Unfortunately, reasearchers determined that, by the time students reach high school, they are less curious and interested to learn than they were in elementary school. This process of boxing students into classrooms and regimenting them into curriculum ends up either making good academic soldiers or turning out the lights. Some manage to rise despite these limitations. While academic rigor sounds a bit rigid, some welcome the challenges and the puzzles, and also put up with the box. There is no one-size-fits all in terms of how to be taught so that lights are ignited! Given that most of what is taught in school is forgotten, what then is worth learning? Perhaps, that which remains long after school is out.

As I watch students interact and react to their lives, I can see how ill-equipped many are to handle uncertainty, conflict, collaboration, and setbacks. While they strive to define their identities, they could also learn empathy and service – but the latter are considered “useless” or “weak” by most kids. Unless, of course, students have a teacher who can model these qualities and demand self-reflection.

Many feel that being loud and disrespectful to each other will cause them to seem like lions in the serengeti, and competing with one another for looks and social status is the norm. So, the strategies to forming relationships and negotiation – perhaps the most important things to learn – are left to chance in a climate of unpredictable harshness that underlies most school settings, and amidst other students with brains far from fully developed. The most  useful skills worth learning – relationships and interactions – are not explicitly taught, but rather resolved by pure Darwinism. The harshest and the loudest trump the rest without winning anything in the long game.

Skills are important because they are the way we access our relationship to expression. However, it takes time to figure out who we are, and so we pursue all accessible skills at the early stages – critical thinking, problem solving, visualization, representation, abstract reasoning, and hands-on craftsmanship. We try everything with open minds and hearts, and find ourselves drawn to some things more than others. However, too many students shut down to learning too soon, and prematurely decide what they don’t need in life. Most schools do not expressly promote high schools as an exploration, and do not teach how to remain open to possibilities despite ambiguity of long term gain. Remaining open is always valid and is worth learning – without it, our minds shut down the growth pathways that may very well be our unique gifts.

Even if students have the ability to learn in all or most contexts, they may lack the skills to identify and prioritize tasks, and to self-assess. Learning to know what you don’t know may be the most worthy ability yet, for it develops humbleness, topples arrogance, and keeps one from parking on false laurels and plateaus. As our lives progress, we must become more flexible and independent in our explorations. We must question our approach and evaluate our progress, which is always incomplete,  but sometimes good enough. The goal of such introspection is to decide our next move. That is skillful living and worth learning as early as possible.

Finally, we must learn to identify and stand up for truth in our own ways. There is such a thing as a universal truth that is never outdated or out of style. This truth is Character in its purest form. We forge our character in Life’s crucible, tested by Life each step of the way. Character speaks to how we engage Life to foster ongoing unfoldment, while pruning and refining as we progress

So, it seems that the things worth learning are connected to things worth remembering and using throughout life. While these skills have little to do with context, which may or may not be interesting to us, they start in some context and then carry over to every aspect of our life to position us for igniting what is uniquely ours to express.

The future of the human race relies on awakened creativity and a full heart. At every stage of learning, we remove the obstacles of conditioning about status, power, innate intelligence, self-doubt, and outward appearance. We battle these traps to win true freedom to be unique, and not extinguish our fire. 

Thank you to all the teachers and mentors for teaching what is truly worth learning amidst their regular lessons, for the human race is rapidly outgrowing outmoded living strategies and is poised to move forward.

What’s Life Got to Do With It?

I get tired just thinking about the regimens people go through to feel like their lives have value. While balanced  discipline  allows us to see and hear more of Life, regimentation has a completely different feel to it.

The drive behind regimented spiritual practice is, in reality, toxic. The practitioner creates yet another illusion: “If I meditate, do yoga, eat these foods, fast, and cleanse – I will qualify as an advanced being.”

There is no way to say it except straight up – being attached to a routine and restrictions of any kind is just another thing to let go of when one realizes that attachment doesn’t work. Similarly, being attached to living for the day has the exact same effect – it is superficial freedom. Such practitioners acquire a superiority complex, a sense of “beating life at its game” and obsessively conquering what they consider to be human weaknesses – meanwhile immersed in the delusion that they are living Truth. One may get enlightened despite this mindset, but not because of it.

Buddha decided asceticism and zealous regimentation did not work to free him, so he stopped these practices. Doing whatever and avoiding responsibility and commitment does not work either. There is a middle ground, where one studies balance and active listening to their unique Life, answering its call. The yearning to be free, as vague as it may be in the beginning, does evoke a response from Life to invite the relationships that will ultimately interconnect and free us.

In reality, it requires much more discipline to be available to Life in the moment than waking up to a 5 AM alarm to meditate or do yoga. It is much more challenging to respond to the needs of Now, than to react out of habit – to let go when the tendency is to hang on.

Life – the power, energy, and force permeating everything – has everything to do with our evolution. If we pay attention, the very circumstances of our existence are giving us endless opportunities to be free, whether it be feedback, inspiration, change of routine, or support and loving gestures. Life that is open to the unpredictable and new is the toughest training ground for seeing through illusion. A sensitivity to timing develops with intuition of when and how to engage Life’s opportunities.

People nod when someone says change is the norm, but do not actually respond to change in a way that demonstrates this  motto. However, disruption of regimented living is the greatest gift to spiritual practitioners – in proportion to the level of frustration such a change generates. The irritability and anger evoked by change show what is truly lurking behind the controlled facade. Then, there is the opportunity to let go into Life, which is truth – plain and simple.

When I was seeking enlightenment, I didn’t really know what I was seeking. I imagined the state to be something extraordinary – superior knowledge and understanding, freedom from pain, and freedom from suffering. But these were vague goals because I still suffered, felt pain, and knew my ignorance. I wanted to help the world to achieve freedom, having no understanding of what the world needed. And that’s the truth.

When the identification with Soul and Spirit stabilized, I realized that now I had to re-enter the world – Life – as That. There is no running off to secluded places, and there is no donning of white or orange robes to broadcast achievement. Freedom is to be Lived – expressed, not savoured in isolation and separation. Not today. Not anymore. In the past, people ran off to enjoy their bliss, but it is more difficult and requires further evolution to integrate into Life without pomp and fanfair.

It is true that the personality becomes impersonal, and that the embracing of All unconditionally becomes natural. It is true that one can see more clearly through situations, but attachment-based love dissolves and is supplanted by insightful response to need. It is true that one may no longer feel human, but – more than anything – one wants to relate ever more deeply (and not sit on a pedestal). And all this because one knows that one is no different from Life, and not separate from Life. Just as there is the rocky “ascent” to liberation, there is also a necessary reintegration period to establish real and humble relationship from that perspective.

At every transition, there are tests and temptations. Unfortunately, many get stuck there without pushing through. They teach misunderstanding and model disturbance, even if they have many followers. Why would anyone want to be a follower anyway? The whole point is for each person to reach realization, and not to glorify and worship someone else.

Some teachers have announced degrees of enlightenment – stages. Of course, every Ego latches on to those as a grading system to fortify the Ego’s position. In spiritual groups, practitioners actively judge and compare each other to decide who is the most and least evolved,  without realizing that such an activity further distances them from freedom. But the Ego loves to judge and compare, and this very act allows illusion to become more entrenched.

Enlightenment is the exact opposite of feeling superior, extraordinary, entitled, and all-knowing. Instead, such a state is the continuous listening to Life and seeing Life with innocence and clarity. No comparisons, no posturing, and no self-deprecation or self-aggrandizement (which are fundamentally the same). The freedom is the strength to look into the eyes of the unknown and respond with clarity without judgement. The response is one of understanding and acceptance based on experience, rather than preaching wise quotes without having the actual experience of the words. 

It is remarkable that the very process in which we continuously engage – Life – is seen as something to be controlled and overcome, rather than lived. The quality of openness is snuffed out by the should’s. If enlightenment is what you want, then fully engaging everyday  Life – including the seemingly mundane – has everything to do with it. The universe does not know the future because we are all creating it.