Chapter 10 - Cultivating our Ultimate Relationship
Some steps to help to foster a deeper, more vibrant on-going relationship with the radiance, beauty and loving-kindness of Divine Presence.
In this chapter, we'll look at some tools that can help to open your eyes, ears and heart to the majesty and wonder of the inner life, the Divine Presence within you.
But first, let's re-examine some of the obstacles to our progress in developing the most important relationship in our lives, our relationship with Divine Presence.
A great obstacle to the flow of Divine Presence arises whenever we ourselves are not present, that is, when we are not engaged in the present moment. Our lack of engagement with the present moment is, in general, due to our own conditioning, our own outdated, habitual responses to life's situations. Whenever we respond to a situation with a habitual response, we are no longer responding in harmony with the present moment, and the burden of our old baggage isolates us from the inner guidance and loving-kindness which is the very solution to every situation.
In order to be effective instruments of Divine Presence, we ourselves must be fully present in each moment, in each situation, always responding from that fountain of inner guidance and loving-kindness, not with old habitual responses. All too often, some minor event brings about a major response, triggered by an old (and often unconsciously recalled) memory of something which occurred at an earlier time in our life. But that was a different situation, it was a different time.
The subconscious response of the ego is trying to help us find the pleasure, affection and esteem that we deserve, but it does so by playing over and over some old response to some other situation from our past. And whenever we respond, consciously or unconsciously, out of our past conditioning, we are actually responding to some other situation from some other time rather than responding to the living reality of the present moment.
To enjoy the love, harmony and beauty which are our birthright, we must be fully present, fully engaged, here and now. We must respond to the needs of present moment as instruments of Divine Presence, not as servants of our ego's old habits and unconscious reactions. Be here. Be beautiful. Now.
Being in Control of One's Own Mind:
In order to fully enjoy life, it is necessary to be able to control one's own mind. Unfortunately, all too many people allow the mind to run uncontrolled, and in doing so the ego is given free reign to chatter incessantly, leading us astray in ten thousand ways.
Recently I had the opportunity to see a dedicated dog trainer working with a young golden retriever who was in training to be a guide dog for a blind person. The trainer carefully instructed the dog to lay down, and then, to test the effectiveness of that instruction, the trainer put a bag of peanuts in the grass about a foot in front of the dog. Within just a minute or two, a squirrel came running down a tree and across the grass to get a peanut. The dog was fully alert, watching, constantly aware of everything going on, yet the dog never moved, never barked, never chased the squirrels. Soon there were several squirrels, all standing there only a foot in front of the guide dog, all of the squirrels happily munching on those peanuts. The young guide dog was totally alert, watching it all, in total control, not giving way to any desire to chase or play with the squirrels, looking so majestic, noble and serene. It was a beautiful sight. There was such a glorious display of nobility, majesty and serenity in that exercise of self-control. And we too can be even more noble, majestic and serene when we practice self-control.
How many of us have such self-control? Can we train our minds to be majestic, noble and serene in any situation, in the presence of any temptation? If so, then we will have conquered our own greatest obstacle. If not, then we will be pawns of our own mind, incurring needless mental and physical suffering due to our own lack of self control.
We can, and must, rise above the old, outdated programming of our own ego. The ego is useful, and we need the ego, but we do not have to controlled by the ego's inadequate attempts to find, or compensate for, the pleasure, affection and esteem which we all so deeply need. We can be much more than mere victims of our own past... we each have the ability live in joyful harmony with the present moment as an instrument of Divine Presence, bringing love, grace and ease into the world though our own life, in our own unique way.
Keys to Success and Failure:
That which is in harmony with the Divine Presence will succeed. That which is not in harmony with the Divine Presence is doomed to failure.
At the moment this chapter is being written, there is a world-wide banking crisis which threatens to bankrupt entire nations. When we look at the root cause of this crisis, we find that in general the financial institutions have become greedy and selfish, they are not serving as instruments of Divine Presence. Those who learn something good from this crisis and become instruments of Divine Presence will surely be rewarded with success. but, for those who refuse to be instruments of Divine Presence, their path will not lead to any enduring or satisfying success. It's just that simple. This great principle of success is just as applicable to industry and commerce and it is to individuals.
Whether we consider the life of an individual or the existence of a corporation, the same law applies: that which is in harmony with the Divine Presence will succeed, and that which is not in harmony with the Divine Presence is doomed to failure.
For example, if a business is so obsessed with monetary goals that it puts monetary profit above loving-kindness, generosity and compassion, then that enterprise is doomed to eventual failure.
This same fundamental law is true in every situation. It is true for individuals, it is true for companies, and it is true for governments. In some cases, it is possible for an inharmonious situation to exist for months or years or even decades, but it cannot endure. Anything which is not in harmony with the loving beneficence of Divine Presence will ultimately fail.
Living in Harmony with "What Is":
There is no greater futility than trying to resist or struggle against whatever has already come into being. Our birthright of Divine Presence offers us a life of understanding and ease, but our ego wants to do things in its own dysfunctional manner.
In order to discover the ease and beauty of enduring peace, we must change our own viewpoint, live a life founded upon Divine Presence, and accept "what is".
There are fundamental laws of this world which we may not always like, but which will always prevail, so we may as well learn to accept them. It is utterly pointless, and quite frustrating, to try to resist these two fundamental laws of nature:
1.) Everything (including you and me) is continually in a process of changing from one form to another form.
Every person, every plant, every animal, and even every grain of sand will eventually be transformed into some completely different form. We cannot stop this great on-going process of change, so we may as well find a viewpoint which welcomes and embraces the changes.
2.) Today's harvest (all that is in our life) is the result of seeds which were previously planted.
If we truly want a different harvest in the future,
then we must begin to plant some different seeds in the present
moment. As the old saying goes: If you keep doing what you're doing,
you'll keep getting what you're getting.
Now let's move on to some specific daily practices which can help to cultivate a deeper relationship and sense of union with the Divine Presence.
This inner work, when done with sincerity and dedication, is an effective antidote for the effects of the undue attention which we tend to pay to the rambling and chattering of the discursive ego. Inner work, and the discovery of the calm, clear, loving and supporting depths within, brings about many changes in one's life, often including greater happiness and greater physical well-being.
Daily use of methods such as the following three practices can bring great improvements in the quality of one's daily life. Please do not be tempted to judge the merit of such practices merely on the basis of what happens during the course of the practice itself, but rather judge the merit of the practices on the basis of how the quality your overall daily life is gradually improving over time.
One of the best ways to learn about Divine Presence is to explore the wonders of nature and allow the troublesome thoughts of "I", "me" and "mine" to be washed away by the sublime beauty of nature.
Amidst the wonders of nature, we may ponder questions such as: What is it that makes the flowers so beautiful? What is it that infuses such endless varieties of life? What is it that gives us such a sense of peace and tranquility when sitting in a field of wildflowers or along a babbling brook?
The answer to all such questions is the same: all of this beauty and majesty is directly due to Divine Presence, that wondrous indwelling aspect of the Source which we can all directly experience in the depths of our own hearts. We most easily experience it in nature, and with some inner effort, we can learn to experience it in all of life.
Initially we must learn to more clearly see the wonders of nature, then gradually we will discover that we too are a part of that same wonder, and finally discover the inner gift of Divine Presence which infuses all of creation.
It is not very important to distinguish between
two opposites. What is most important is to recognize that One which
is hiding behind it all... seeing One in all things, in all beings.
In Sanskrit there is a beautiful phrase "tat tvam asi" which means "That you are". All of this wonder is what you are too! There is no greater pleasure than to simply "be", not struggling to be anything in particular, but simply responding to the opportunities of the moment with loving-kindness and harmony, bringing body and soul into perfect union.
You are made from and created with the same beauty, the same majesty, the same power which infuses all of nature. The Divine Presence which infuses all of nature with such wonder and beauty is infusing you with wonder and beauty too! Every moment of life is an opportunity to be an instrument of the Divine Presence, bringing love, harmony and beauty onto the world.
Any place is sacred ground, for it can become a place of encounter with the Divine Presence.
God, and the gift of Divine Presence, are so vast that the human mind can never completely know their full extent. Nonetheless, we can (and should) distill our deepest inner knowledge into a great personal ideal, an ideal which might be called the God-ideal. If you do not yet have such an ideal, you can simply use your imagination to create a temporary ideal, which can then be gradually refined and modified on the basis of your own direct experience.
The ideal must be lofty, but cannot be selfish or self-centered. That is, a God-ideal which merely gives us whatever we want or demand (like some sort of cosmic Santa Claus), is merely a self-centered idea, more troublesome work of the ego, and is therefore doomed to failure. Remember, we are servants of God, and our God-ideal must help to vividly portray ways in which we can actually bring the love, harmony and beauty of Divine Presence into the world on a daily, moment-by-moment basis.
God, who exists independently of our conception
of Him, must be conceived by us for our own comprehension. To make
God intelligible, man must first make his own God. It is on this
principle that the idea of many gods and the custom of idol-worship
were based in the ancient religions of the world. God cannot be
two. The God of each is the God of all, but in order to comprehend
that God we each have to make our own God. Some of us seek for justice;
we can better seek for God who is just. Some of us look for beauty;
we can best find it in the God of beauty. Some of us seek for love;
we can best find it in the God of mercy and compassion. Some of
us wish for strength and power; we can best find it in the God Almighty.
The seeking of every soul in this world is different, distinct,
and peculiar to himself, and he can best attain to it by looking
for the object of his search in God.
Daily meditation on the ways in which your highest ideal, the God-ideal, manifests love, harmony and beauty in this world will gradually lead to the discovery and embodiment of the indwelling Divine Presence. Such "God-ideal" meditation is a wonderful way to gently conclude each session of the following guided meditation.
As the mystical poet Rumi wrote:
In meditation, there is nothing to do, nothing to think about, just relax, being fully awake and receptive, but not taking any action of your own. Simply relax and absorb the nourishing beauty, calm and strength of the Unseen.
Meditating on a daily basis can produce great benefits in one's daily life, such as even-mindedness, greater happiness and better health. Meditating more than once a day, such as once in early morning and once in the evening, every day, can bring even greater benefits. And meditation must be an on-going daily activity... it is the accumulated effects of diligently repeated daily practice which bring about the desired results.
As you continue your daily meditation practice, the silent wonders of love, harmony and beauty, which at first may have only been wishful thinking or imagination, will gradually become your constant companions, day and night, in every situation, in every moment, helping you to give the greatest of gifts to all whom you encounter.
Guided Meditation web page:
To help make such meditation more accessible, I've also created several guided meditations which are available for free on the Basking in the Light web page, including on-line mp3 recordings of guided meditations. You can play the guided meditations on-line, or you can put the guided meditations on a CD or an iPod.
For the best results, such practices should be done every day. At first, daily spiritual practices may seem to be a burden, but gradually, as the results become manifest and undeniably wonderful, one actually begins to hunger for these daily practices and misses them if for some reason they cannot be performed as usual.
As you begin to directly experience the grace and wonder of Divine Presence in your own life, your periods of daily practice will become as necessary and enjoyable to your daily life as eating your daily food. Indeed, these periods of daily spiritual practice are the food which nourishes the soul. The path to spiritual growth and enduring happiness relies upon day-after-day, consistent daily spiritual practice.
Human beings are very forgetful, and without our sincere daily practice we fall back into forgetfulness and the grip of our own troublesome ego. yet, with continual practice, we stay immersed in God-consciousness, the bliss of Loving Arms, the always-available Divine Presence.
It may be helpful to have a quick "refresher" during the day, some action or thought or word that helps you to return to your True Self. Laughter and smiles are always helpful... enjoy them more often!
Giving is the key to happiness. All that you want to receive, you must give. Want love? Then give love. Want peace? Then give peace. Want respect? Then give respect. Want support? Then give support. And in such giving you will find the happiness and fulfillment that you have been longing for.
The only thing that separates us from the wondrous radiance of the Divine is the obstruction caused by our own ego. We must find ways to remove the obstruction, and allow the Light to shine from deep within.
It's really just this simple: There are two aspects to our human life,
1.) There is the wonder of Divine Presence, and
2.) there is our own inane drama which we each create.
That's all there is to it! Everything that happens in our life can be put into one of those two categories.
We were created for a joyous life, receiving freely and
giving freely the wondrous gifts of Divine Presence, but all too
often we become preoccupied with languishing in the midst of our
For Further Study:
Wishing you love, harmony and beauty,
rev Sep 10, 2009