Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Where Ego, I Go – Avoiding My Bad Ego Trips

"Ego specialness prevents you from authentic feelings of sacredness by creating an inner experience of fear."
                                                                    Dr. Wayne Dyer

            Egomaniac. Egocentric. Egotistical…not nice things to call someone, right? But just what the heck is your ego? The simple translation of the word ego from its Latin origin is “I.” That’s all, just “I.” What can be so nasty about that?

Despite the simple ordinariness of it, I have learned this one particular lesson the hard way: Whenever I start a statement with “I,” there’s a much greater chance that I’ll regret it than if I start it some other way. So I ask myself, why do I have to be so careful about my ego? How does ego get such a bad rap? Why do “I” have to ask “myself?”
It’s because generally speaking, there are two different kinds of “me” in here – two aspects or types of my ego that are always competing to define the world for me, and make me behave the way I do:

The first (and ideally more prominent) type is that healthy ego that allows my true, grounded self to interact with material life in an easy, less-demanding way (hello, angel on my shoulder). Things can come and go in life without seeming so terribly important. I find that “me” rarely gets offended, because tolerance and acceptance just come naturally. 
This is my healthy, beneficial ego because it provides a reasonable, balanced foundation to my life, and plays a relatively small active role in my experience of things. It demands less judgement and comparison, and much less control of everything I clearly can’t really control. So listening to the inner voice of my healthy ego makes it easier to "stay out of my own way," and allows me to experience a more balanced exchange of Life energy that lets me share, express, and grow. I become more tolerant and teachable. It’s not all about “me,” and so I can live much more easily with “my self.” Simply put, this ego is grounded in Love.

            My other ego is more or less the opposite – unhealthily self-absorbed; over-important and over-complicated (hello, devil). It’s the voice of what I think of as my “False Self,” because it’s rarely (if ever) who I want to be. Unfortunately, this self-important ego often acts as my instant default interface with Life, pressing unfair and unnecessary demands and comparisons on all the people and situations I encounter. It's easily offended, lacking in tolerance and acceptance, and foolishly wants to control the uncontrollable. It’s a kind of shadow “me” that stifles the expression of my natural, easy-going self with unnecessary defensiveness and negativity. It obstructs that beautiful, balanced exchange of Life energy – which is Love. In this way, I can unconsciously become my own worst enemy. Simply put, this is the ego that’s grounded in Fear – it’s what gives ego a bad rap.

             This double nature is expressed in the beautiful mythic metaphor of The Garden of Eden. The unhealthy ego knows everything and always needs to be right. It wrongly makes a constant diet of "the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil" – judgment and comparison, and so insists on “playing God.” Then, when it serves as the sole interface to Life, our grounded natural self is “banished from the garden.” Simply being what we really are is never enough, so we must become something other than our authentic, natural self, based on what the unhealthy ego demands us to be – on how it compares us to “what others expect from us.” We get locked out, separated, from the beauty of the natural world.

            On a larger scale, this unhealthy ego process is the mass default for commercial culture. The rapid expansion of this dangerously delusional unhealthy mass ego – driven by unconscious, top-heavy corporate media – is the reason for our gravely unbalanced world. It’s why we find the very survival of all species – the very ability of our planet to sustain life as we know it, suddenly in such precarious circumstances. This mass ego lives to control and exploit the Earth in order to meet endless voracious needs that can never be met. It lives by creating its own "map" of reality, and only functioning by focusing on that delusional map, instead of paying attention to the actual geography and conditions of the world around us. 

            As soon as we escape this useless, destructive mass ego and live in the simple underlying truth, becoming honest with ourselves and the rest of humanity, the sooner we'll see that no matter how big the problem there’s always a solution. With this simple realization, we will become spiritual beings, and the inevitable spiritual evolution of our species will become a real and workable thing. 
Evidence of this spiritual evolution of humankind is all around us. Our extreme circumstances serve to inspire more people all the time to say:

"Wait a minute! This is insane – we can't do this anymore!"

That's your window of opportunity. Climb through it, and from that moment on, your healthy ego (your intuition) will be activated and will direct you to behave in a whole, newly responsible way that will lead to your connectedness with all life (Love & happiness); to the healing of our mass psyche, and – most importantly – to the healing our planet.

"When Man ate of the fruit of the Tree, he discovered himself in the field of duality instead of the field of unity.  As a result, he finds himself out, in exile."
                                                                                 Joseph Campbell

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Could it be "The End of the World" as We Know It?...Yes!

 "The Promised Land has nothing to do with real estate."  
Joseph Campbell

Remember all those poor old evangelists who promised the end of the world? They all had a lot riding on that prediction, so you can't help but feel a little sorry for them when it didn't happen when and how they said it was going to. But then perhaps it did happen – it is happening, just not the way they thought it would.

May I be the first to bring you the real good news right here and right now? Despite whatever evidence to the contrary, The World – as we have known it – has ended.
It's been the "end of time," and "the end of the world" so many times now, it seems like it never will really end, and it won't. Of course, it's never actually the end of the world we're talking about. As George Carlin (the patron saint of cynical enlightenment) said: "It's not the end of the world, it's the end of people, man. The world is still gonna be here – we aren't.

The end of the world hasn't come the way we usually think of it, because the classical "End of the World" doesn't describe a literal ending; like all scriptural spiritual scenarios it's really a metaphor. "The End of the World" is really a spiritual and psychological end – the reframing of a new reality brought about by a big change: a transformational coalescence of consciousness, a "singularity" after which old ways of thinking and doing are in an instant rendered obsolete. Sound familiar? It is a lot like what's been happening around here lately. 
It even fits quite nicely into that Mayan theory that around 2012 the Earth began to resonate with a level of consciousness that simultaneously threw things into a kind of chaos, and seriously began to inform it's occupants that a major change was taking place. The "occupiers" showed up in town squares, the "Arab Spring" took place. Hong Kong began to percolate. Fraudulent elections became unacceptably obvious, and their results provoked the most massive global protests ever known. War became obsolete (but it's chief proponents will never admit it). Now pandemic is defining the falsehoods of financial structures, the equivalent needs of all people – and the grotesque inequalities forced onto humanity by unconscious folly, greed, and self-worship. A revolution has erupted against the "Era of Power" that supports itself on lies and hatred. Climate change attests to the truth that what we do has consequences – that we can cause irreversible destruction to this beautiful world.
And all the while, arising awareness and Love demonstrates the solutions presented to us by spiritual sanity. We are all one.

Wherever you're at home now, everyone is learning that the Earth's endless potential is being mismanaged by a criminally unconscious minority (God bless 'em). It's global knowledge that misguided, destructive segments of humanity are intensely wasteful, while the majority of our brother and sister humans are subject to unnecessary want and deprivation. It's clear that our extreme economic disparities are selfishly foolish and completely unsustainable. The occupants in every small town know about the elite class of super-wealthy, extraordinarily fearful (suffering) people, who feel they need to control the world's resources and media (the true "Fake Media"); corporate agents who are happy to kill off every Mom & Pop business in the world, and control all consumption from soulless global distribution centers. We can see their duplicity and their political mess on TV everyday, and increasingly we are living in it, too.
Yet the true, vast majority of real earthly occupants are aware of what the miraculous potential of the Earth actually is.

Naturally it's all happened before, when these literally medieval disparities bring us to a spiritual renaissance. We suddenly realize that being programmed to identify ourselves with the insane demands of corporate materialism, like "trickle-down," "know your class," "what you deserve and must have," and "how our way is right," is a form of destructive insanity that's forcing us to live totally inauthentic lives. The death of that inauthentic self becomes inevitable, and that's the shift – "The End of the World." Nothing can ever be the same after that.

Here's what it means: Everyone deserves to be who they are. Everyone deserves to be reborn into a fulfilling, authentic life. Everyone deserves life, health, and sufficient wealth – the shared resources of this incredibly abundant planet. We will have that, but there almost always seems to be a kind of "Dark Age" first, where faith is not always a well-lit place. It's like that period inside the caterpillar's chrysalis that is pure chaos, before the formation and flight of a new Era of Ethics.
I can't say exactly where we are in the process – at the start of that dark age, in the middle, or towards the end of it – whether we've stopped crawling and are growing our wings...but I do know one thing for certain regarding "The End of the World:"

Humanity is currently experiencing a mass metaphysical impulse to transcend the delusion of separateness. It's the collective death of an illusion, and it's spreading faster and more completely than any virus ever could. The resurrection is arising; the "Ethical Era" is settling upon the followers of the one true prophecy: That all Life on Earth is beginning to realize that it is one in the same thing. The Earth already knows, the animals do too – it's just people that are a little late to the real party.

As that global entity, we can all recognize the unfathomable mystery that everything comes from somewhere and goes somewhere, to a kind of ultimate ground of being that we're becoming aware of through quantum physics, cyber-consciousness, and verifiable sixth-sensory perception. We know that a mysterious ground of being – a 'matrix' of loving intelligence – transcends this form we're in; that this "radiance of the eternal" penetrates everything and everybody, and is intuitively informing a graceful and responsible way to live that's possible for everyone, and that everyone in this world deserves as their birthright. The darkness just requires deconstructing first.

Then the "radiance" (that understanding we all share) can illuminate the dark place where we'll find trust in ourselves and each other – call it Faith. That is the light we can shine now to penetrate our media, our destructive mass-ego, our "One Percent," and expose it – penetrate through it back to the fundamental mystery where we all live free and equal lives. 
Now we can stand our ethical ground with an unassailable authority; the boundaries protecting humanity simply can no longer be contested; and if you stop for a moment, and just listen and feel, it is yours to occupy.

The best and easiest way to make all this happen is to simply show up for life with this knowledge in our hearts, and try our best to live our authentic lives – where the inspiration for our actions comes from the inside, not the outside. We're being taught the difference between what is really important, and what is completely unnecessary and destructive – just pay attention and follow that direction! 

And here is the good news, here is the real gospel – the world has ended. Welcome to the new world.

"It will not come by watching for it. No one will be saying, Look, here it is!
Or, Look, there it is! The Kingdom [of the Father] is spread out over the whole earth, and people do not see it."

Logion 113, The Gospel of Thomas

The latest book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor from Llewellyn Worldwide can be ordered direct or online; and the first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for them it at your local bookstore!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Experience Your Own (Rebellious) Resurrection – Quarantine-Style

These are strange times we live in, the global pandemic, forcing us into a 'quarantined' life and a major economic re-calculation; the unexpected onslaught of authoritarianism – the bizarre betrayal of our standards of fairness and civility by our 'leaders' in what we thought was our solid democracy...and all of it concurrent to the synchronicitous celebration of Spring. Cooped-up like this, it's easy to be overtaken by a rebellious urge, an urge that arises from the underlying sensation that things just aren't the way they're supposed to be. Life is absurd and crazy. Life is harsh and unjust. And this enforced isolation can make us feel that we're living in a personal exile of sorts, separated by the unfair complications of material life from a source of contentment and wholeness that we're naturally heir to – a source from within that we're currently forced to seek (and that we may occasionally be succeeding in finding). 
For me it seems that seeking and finding almost requires my being troubled – experiencing this profound discomfort to force me down the hard path that may eventually lead to inner peace. Then in those liberating moments when I manage to get there – however brief they are – I find a familiar, comfortable knowledge, an understanding when I seem to I know why I'm here. 
That, in a nutshell, is my experience of Gnosis – that rebellious urge to root out and live within Life's greatest solution.

"Get outta that state – outta that state you're in!
             The B 52s, Private Idaho

Simply put, Gnosis (coming from the Greek, for knowledge) is that knowledge – that understanding of transcendent being and belonging-to – that naturally arises from within our hearts. Inspired by the inner longing to reunite with a serene, unifying power that we inherently know to be our benevolent source, Gnosis isn't a product of any science, or even philosophy or religion, really. Instead, Gnosis is a personal discovery based in self-exploration and inner experience, and as such, it's experienced both as a process, and as a state-of-being.

It's natural that Gnosis is the product of that rebelliousness – after all, it is a search that requires rocking the boat a bit (or in this case, being stuck in this shaky little boat), since you have to abandon the definitions and conventions of who you are supposed to be, and what society says is important in order to open to a state of inner completion that really isn't available through any outer norms, religions, or institutions. In all its incarnations throughout human history, Gnosis has been the product of that personal alchemy, likened not only to the Hindu process of samadhi sought through forms of yoga, but also to the spiritual rebellion that led The Buddha to nirvana.

That's also why the search for Gnosis was originally associated with the early growing Christian insurrection. These pre-Christian rebels developed a process, a mythology, and a language of metaphor (including the idea of 'resurrection') that would lead an individual to enlightenment through personal inner experience, completely at odds with all of the prevailing religious institutions of the time – even Christianity itself. 

"Yeshua said: Whoever searches must continue to search until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed; and being disturbed, they will marvel and will reign over All."
The Gospel of Thomas, Logion 2

"The Gnostics," as referred to by academics were specifically those pre-Christian Hebrews and early messianic Christians whose "Messiah" primarily took the form of an inward self-realization of God. Everybody was [and is] a "Christ" in a personal way, or is capable of realizing their very own "Christhood" through an initiation, in which an initiate could dis-identify with the difficulties of their material being by way of an alternative practice of personal ritual, absolute honesty and nonviolence, and unselfish service – which sounds a lot like the things many of us have been forced to realize in our "stay-at-home" surrender, doesn't it?

Of course, in the harsh light of the religious, political, and economic institutions of the day, these alternatives – the social and economic re-alignments, and the realization of a personal divinity – was absolute heresy. The most stubborn sacred cows aren't really sacred at all, they're political and economic. At that time, the Gnostics 'radical' suggestions led to the genocide of these rebellious, peace-loving "heretics."  

The nicest, and probably the most influential of these heretics were called "Essenes" (essence, essential), a "fringe" sect of Hebraism that were happy to let the Establishment Pharisees and Sadducees run the show around the second Temple in old Jerusalem, just before the Christian Era. I suspect that like the segment of citizens we today call "Progressives," Essenes also made up a much greater share of the population than reported, but because they rejected destructive commerciality (including slavery), ritual sacrifice, and phony spiritual authority, it was the guys with the hats and swords who miswrote their history, as usual. Theirs was – and is to this day – the essential rebellion of those seeking Gnosis. 
(Present day media academics pigeonhole the Essenes as heretics hidden away in the caves of Qumran, near the Dead Sea, where a particularly devoted community of ritual Gnostics made their last stand. In fact, Essenes were less a part of Hebraism and more a spiritual nation of their own, spread out across civilization, and bridging the east to west, and the many disciplines oriented towards enlightenment through inward experience)

Essenes established inns called hospitals, where anyone was welcomed, healed, and fed. They practiced hygiene, strict vegetarianism, and holistic medicine way before any of that was cool. Everyone – man, woman and child – was spiritually equal, possessing the same spark of divinity and spiritual potential for unification with The Divine as anyone else. All that was required was initiation into "the secret teachings" of inward exploration, and the willingness to live a life of compassion and integrity. They were absolutely non-violent, and only participated in commercial and agricultural efforts that benefitted everyone. In short, they lived the ideals of Christianity, before Christianity.

In other online articles I've told a version of the wonderful Gnostic myth of Sophia, the princess of Wisdom, and her descent to earth to elevate humanity through the example of her struggle back up to the light, and her gift of consciousness to mankind through the power of feminine energy. It is the classic myth of metaphor, describing Gnosis in a way that resonates in the heart and mind. Summing up the essential myth of the Gnostic inner journey goes something like this:

Humanity is an expression of a Divine Light imprisoned in a clunky, imperfect plane of existence, surrounded by the beauty of human life and the earthly realm, but victimized by the suffering that is such a big part of it all. Each human contains a spark of the Divine Light within, and enduring Life's painful challenges (pandemic, for example) inspires the desire to reunite that inner spark with the great field of Divine Light, our Source, called the pleroma. It sounds quite a bit like Buddhism, doesn't it? That's because it is, in a way – there are ways, in ritual, action, and practice, that the suffering can be avoided.

The self-realization of the light within requires a more austere approach, a set of principles designed to merge the earthly ego with the eternal self; and a community of shared consciousness – individuals who are cooperatively seeking the same state of happiness, wholeness, and purpose. 
I find the elemental directness of Gnostic myth and scripture very helpful and instructive in these times of quarantine:

"Yeshua said: When you bring forth that within you, then that will save you. If you do not, then that will kill you.
The Gospel of Thomas, Logion 70

This is what attracted people like Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung to Gnosis and Gnosticism, the fact that it pre-dated every form of modern depth psychology with its remarkable synthesis of human experience into an applicable framework, and an alternative process of rebirth, recovery, and "resurrection" – like that which is forced on us at times like these. It's the timeless story of every authentic spirit's journey from a fearful, semi-conscious "death,” to the wholeness of a compassionately conscious “re-birth.” It symbolizes every individuals shared journey to wholeness and happiness, and the hard path we have to discover to lead us out of this darkness. 

"[Mythology inspires] the natural metaphysical impulse to transcend the illusion of separation."
Joseph Campbell

The Gnostics' understanding of Life was finally symbolized not as the iconic early Christian fish logo (submerged in the depths of the divine mystery), but as The Crucifixion Cross, symbolizing the horizontal experience of Life on earth – and the ego-death that's necessary to transcend it by way of the vertical inner knowledge and realization of our true ascendant nature and potential. That's what the cross really means (the Romans actually crucified people on short, X-shaped crosses, to save wood).

So Gnosis begins with an uncomfortability about Life (easy to imagine in the "stay-at-home" mode), and a rebellious dis-ease that moves us to reunite our selves with a wholeness and comfortable being that we're all entitled to. In this way, Gnosis is both a subtractive process – intentionally eliminating the unsupportable expectations and constraints of this style of human life; and it’s an expansive process – bringing us into the consciousness of our limitless potential by merging our damaged, earthly egos with a pure, eternal Love, accessible through our hearts.

But unfortunately, you may have to get a little pent-up first...

"When you make the two into one, when you make the inner like the outer, and the high like the low; when you make the male and the female into a single One…when you have eyes in your eyes, a hand in your hand…and an icon in your icon, then you will enter into the Kingdom."
The Gospel of Thomas, Logion 22

Discover the true Gnosis of the Gnostics, with all its ancient metaphoric mythology, and applications to contemporary spiritual psychology in Gnostic scriptures such as: The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Phillip, The Pistis Sophia, The Gospel of Truth, The Gospel of Mary, and in many fine resources, like: Elaine Pagel's The Gnostic Gospels, Stefan Hoeller’s The Gnostic Jung, and Jung and the Lost Gospels, or in Carl Jung’s Seven Sermons to the Dead, and Answer to Job.

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Jesus, The Easter Bunny, and the Real Renewal of Spring

At the time of the earliest stirrings of the philosophy that was to become Christianity there were numerous centers of nascent world religion, from the Gandhara region of India thru Asia Minor, Persia, and Greece, to Alexandria and Jerusalem – and other spots within and beyond the Roman Empire and the rest of the known, civilized world. To literate religious academics of the early Christian era, all of this knowledge was available. Christianity, like all religions, was not born in a vacuum.

You'll notice in the retellings of the Passion Play that Christians celebrate each spring, as well as throughout the New Testament, there are plenty of references to the Pharisee sect of Hebraism, the proletariat and middle-class Jews of the time. The Sadducees, the bourgeois, aristocratic sect get very little airtime comparatively – despite making up most of the temple priesthood. Edited out of the story completely are the Essenes, which were not actually a single sect but instead a collection of differing gnostic beliefs grouped together generically.

Beyond their numbers, which were significant throughout the middle east at the time, the Essenes were the original Christians, eschewing sacrifice and materiality, living simple lives based in practices of healing and service. They were dedicated to cleanliness, to communal, all-inclusive dining, to the practices of foot washing, vegetarianism, and holistic herbal healing. Their "inns" and white robes were the inspiration for our present-day hostels and hospitals, and doctors' white coats. It's likely that the Jesus of mainstream Christianity was drawn from this model. 

Most sects labeled "Essene" fully embraced a more personal, inward, mystical path to the realization of a divine simplicity, and so were the foundation of the esoteric forms of Gnosticism and Kabbalistic practice. In some groups, Buddhism was very influential, and in fact "Theraputae" Essenism was likely one in the same as the Buddhist community located near Lake Mareotis, outside of Alexandria (from Theraputta, sanskrit meaning "from the old ones"). Buddhism was alive throughout the region for hundreds of years prior to Christian mythology, and it's very important to note that the Buddha sat in the wilderness alone and was tempted by the devil, walked on water, fed the multitudes from a single basket, and drank at the well of an outsider (and more) 500 years before the Christ story came about.

It's very likely that the teacher Yeshua, whose philosophy – resurrected in the  discovery of very early pre-canonical scripture like The Gospel of Thomas – serves as the basis for the teachings of the Jesus of the canonical, Roman gospels.

The selectivity of Christian myth runs roughshod over much of what is actually known – as is the case with most inventions of organized religion. This is not limited only to religion, the same is true for organized historical dogma, organized cultural dogma, and organized social dogma. In a contemporary American context, for example, we have the assertion that Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviet Union, or that John Kennedy was killed by a lone assassin; both nascent myths that aren't based in fact, but still canonized as historical truth by many. 

Likewise, American frontier identity was actually rooted in the genocide of the indigenous Americans, whose culture was, so to speak, crucified by "Rome." The positivity and popularity of much of contemporary American culture is based on the transcendent adaptations of African people held in slavery for hundreds of years. The implications of these truths are truly biblical, but not in the self-enhancing way traditional white male American historians would have us remember it.

So the suggestion that the Christian Passion Play is mythic, and was created in the centuries following the decline of Rome to serve political purposes by commandeering an authentically mystical path actually makes much more sense than the assumption of the canonical gospels as historical fact. The first big tip-off is the fact that the eventual authors of those gospels weren't actually named Mark, Matthew, Luke, or John – those were pseudonyms of journeymen writers of their day. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, chances are you might want to duck.

More recently there are the examples of Mormonism, whose co-creator Joseph Smith is not hard to prove as a plagiarist, philanderer, arsonist, and possibly worse – but not at all proven to be a prophetic witness to an early ancient American Judaic civilization; Scientology, whose inventor was unquestionably a hard-drinking, womanizing, egomaniacal science fiction writer – but highly questionable as an enlightened channel of godlike alien entities; and, going back a little further, Islam, the transcendent, mystical heart of which is regularly betrayed (like the other Abrahamic religions) by random acts of violence. 

Sadly for true believers, the historical references to the actual existence of the Jesus of the canons is still limited to the scant testimonies of Pliny, Tacitus, and Flavius Josephus, whose less-than-second-hand accounts came well after the fact, and were subject to powerful political and cultural influence, and countless subsequent rewritings. The most compelling testimony of Josephus has been known to be a forgery for a long time now, while Judeo-Roman historians contemporary to the times, like Philo, never mention the man or events, despite having every reason to. Josephus, in all his authenticated accounts in fact, mentions at least twenty different people named Jesus.

Then what should we really be resurrecting today? If the religious establishment now neatly sequesters the whole of the ancient Essene world into the austere walls of the community at Qumran, and the timeless teachings of philosophers like Gautama and Yeshua are respectively redefined as platitudes and tragic morality plays, rather than as the radically effective calls to action they truly are, then clearly what requires resurrecting is the spirit of divinely shared consciousness that Aldous Huxley called the "Perennial Philosophy." 

"The All came forth from me and the All came into me. Split the wood, and I am there. Turn over the stone, and there you will find me."
The Gospel of Thomas, Logion 77  

It's forgivable human nature to transmute certain realities into conveniently avoidable practices, or for people suffering from the fearful manifestations of low self worth, greed, and delusional self-centeredness to act out in our shrinking world, but what we really need is to rebirth the elemental compassionate unity, the eternal springtime of human spiritual evolution alive in each Easter every day, if possible. That is the message continuously carried by the spirit of Yeshua (not to mention the Buddha, Krishna, Gandhi, et al).

We can all "sit in the wilderness" – take the inward path to realization of our shared being; "walk on water" – rise above and make foundational our psychic afflictions;  "feed the multitudes" – know that we have plenty with what we always have;  and "share water from the well" – understand the eternal that unifies us, regardless of our outward labels. The Jesus of the Christian Easter is purely a symbol for the real power for transformation each of us carries within – all the time...not just every Spring.

"Whoever seeks will find; whoever knocks from inside, it will open to them."
"When you bring forth that within you, then that will save you."
"What you are waiting for has already come, but you do not see it."
"Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me and I will become them and what was hidden from them will be revealed."
The Gospel of Thomas, 94, 70, 51, 108

Since I believe that we all only die to this world, and so resurrection is a simple, personal realization that we will all get to experience, is it possible that the spirit of the Easter Bunny could actually be a better shepherd? The brand we want to revive each Spring? Could that be a better metaphor than the image of a good man suffering – the gentle lapine, the playful, prolific, vegan creature of the woods and meadows? Could a bunny be smart and wise enough to easily share that level of consciousness? For the answer to these, and possibly other questions, I invite you to watch this video:

Happy Easter! 

[re-edited and reposted from an earlier time]

The latest book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor from Llewellyn Worldwide can be ordered direct or online; and the first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for them it at your local bookstore!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

"The Perspective of Presence," It's Always Been Now, and Will Always Be

      This excerpt from How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying) comes from Chapter 8:  
Finding Presence Now: It's Always Been Now, and Will Always Be

      Maintaining presence allows us to respond appropriately to life's personal challenges. Our ego always wants to be in control by labeling, judging, comparing, and making demands, while being truly present lets us recognize our harsher ego demands and reject them, allowing our deeper, intuitive intelligence to arise within that eternal moment. If we let our ego-mind – our feeling offended, our sense of injustice, our need to be right – spontaneously dictate our actions, we tend to be reacting, or often over-reacting to simple circumstances.  We can blow situations out of proportion, losing the perspective that kindness, humility, honesty, forgiveness, and compassion can give us. In fact, we can make proper choices only when we're fully present to do so, because not only does presence give us the priceless gift of constraint – the ability to take that extra moment to let sanity and reason arise – but it also puts us in touch with an existent intelligence that is greater than our own. Just stopping and intently focusing on one breath can instantly allow us to check in with Heaven, so to speak.

      In Heaven nobody gets caught overreacting in senseless or destructive ways. Everyone relishes taking that eternal moment to adjust to every situation. In fact, in Heaven everyone is quite calm and thoughtful, as you may have already imagined.

The latest book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor from Llewellyn Worldwide can be ordered direct or online; and the first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways too – but ask for them it at your local bookstore!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Announcing: The Zen of Near Death ©2019

I'm pleased to announce the working title of my next book:

The Zen of Near Death
Afterlife Lessons for Transcending the Mess 

©2019 by Robert Kopecky
Watch for it in 2021

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A Halloween Soul Metaphor—The Zombies Among Us

Each Halloween, we get a chance to think a little about famous monsters. The monsters of our childhood. The monsters of our advancing age. The monsters our kids might be for the holiday (or that they may seem to become, sometimes). The monsters that we witness in public life, or that, occasionally, we ourselves can become too.

You may notice that the really famous monsters are scary on a couple of levels. First, on the level of the material imagery; and then on a deeper metaphoric, or spiritual level. Take Frankenstein (please!). He's plenty scary on the obvious material level, but he also makes a pretty scary metaphor – as the manifestation of self-will run amok; the consequences of our wanting to play God with the natural world, with our lives, and with the lives of others. Or Dracula, as a symbol of soul exploitation – people who selfishly suck the life out of other people; or out of Mother Nature, for that matter. Or the Wolfman – the potentially violent beast within us all, unleashed by the uncontrollable cycle of life...a curse he passes along whenever he bites someone else.

So what's up with all the Zombies? They seem to be everywhere these days. Zombies in the movies, on TV, in commercials and videogames – almost everywhere you look, there are zombies popping up. What are we trying to say, on a deeper level, with this zombie fascination? Well, let's take a look (if you dare…)

 Most obviously, zombies are the undead. Inhumane humans who've lost their souls, so the only life they have left is spent unconsciously feeding off the souls of the living. They selfishly grope around for the next bite that's going to fuel their empty search. In that sense, they're really much like unconsciously self-centered people (profit-driven entrepreneurs or mindless consumers), lurching about ineffectively, swarming on any situation where their appetites may be sated. So eternally they flounder around, staggering through a soulless system, driven to find something to feed their emptiness, but only finding more remorseful, bottomless hunger.

They would find their solution – their rest – if they'd just die already, wouldn't they? Symbolically, that simply means "dying" to the empty, ego-driven life of schlepping from one incessant need to the next. Realizing that the death of "who you are supposed to be" and "how it will look to others" in our often soulless, demanding culture will reveal a real peace, and a responsible purpose that may have been hidden right in front of you all along. It's not really about what any single one of us needs – it's about what every single one of us needs: Love, Purpose, Spiritual sustenance.

I'm sorry to point out that the people responsible for all of this zombie programming, sadly, may just be the zombies "in charge" – which gives us another spiritual challenge to face...how do we recognize the undead among us?
Well, zombies couldn't care less about what you think. They're not at all interested in your thoughts on any subject; and what's even worse, they don't give a damn about how anything makes you feel. You're not going to get anywhere by politely asking a zombie not to eat you. Zombies only think about their own delusion of self, and no amount of actual evidence will persuade them to recognize reality, so zombies dare not allow themselves to feel anything except fear or anger (which are the same thing), and expresses itself as hate or entitlement or arrogant bullying. God bless 'em.

Not being zombie-like yourself means opening up to what others think; and more importantly, to how they feel. Relating, sincerely, to one another’s feelings, and by doing so, to share the experience – and the intelligence – of our shared heart-energy. Forgiveness and compassionate consciousness are the only things that can help a zombie re-enter the real world of the living, and the only ways to deal with a zombie, even if – God forbid – we realize it’s ourselves.

I hate to get too graphic, but they do say the only way to kill a zombie is "to kill the zombie's brain," and they may have a good point there (whoever "they" are). It’s very likely that zombies probably think too much with their dizzy, addled heads, and not with their grounded hearts. That’s where the path to restoring a zombie’s soul (or to help a struggling ghoul to find it themselves) must initiate from. It seems like a long schlep, sometimes, that short stretch from the upturned graveyard of the head, to the peaceful, heavenly realm of the heart.

When dealing with a zombie, try to look past that unkempt exterior – the unconscious self-centeredness, the fearful pallor and fugue-like gaze past you, the blood n' guts everywhere. Many zombies are really good at heart, they've simply been made “undead” by a monstrous metaphor ­– ­the Dark Lord of the Unconscious Ego; but look beyond the quickly fading external images, into the compassionate spirit we all share, and you will find the zombie’s struggling heart.
If you fear you’ve become a little zombie-like yourself, simply start living in your soul's life, that's where you’ll find the real, joyful world of the living–not on the shifting horror show of life’s “silver screen.”

And for Halloween, I recommend that you don't go as an orange, flesh-eating  ghoul, or dress your kids that way, either. Instead, go as a fairy, or an angel, or just as the bright, shining light that you really are. Happy Halloween!

"There is a light within people of light, and they shine it upon the whole word. If they do not shine it, what darkness!
The Gospel of Thomas, Logion 24

The latest book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor is now available from Llewellyn Worldwide, and can be ordered online; and the first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available everywhere too – but ask for them it at your local bookstore!