Who are you without the desire for someone or something to be different?
To relinquish our “wants” feels like a death of sorts. We feel like “If I stop wanting that, then I’ve sacrificed who I am and what I want.” It feels almost like we’ve surrendered our will to theirs, like we lost and they won. And though we may be able to let some battles fall, there are other battles that must be won at all cost, right?
And there’s nothing essentially wrong with that, until the point when you are ready to learn the lesson that through surrender you can get way more of what you want than any scraps you could ever win in battle. It’s a choice. And if it’s one you’re not ready or willing to make, then don’t.
But then you need to be responsible for that choice. In honoring your choice, you need to honor the choices of those around you. If there’s nothing wrong with what you want, then there’s nothing wrong with what others want either, and you should get on board with helping them celebrate their choices and/or your choices instead of judging their choices or hoping they will change. If you can’t love and respect and honor the situation unconditionally as it is, you need to remove yourself from the equation. In doing so, you open to the possibility of creating a new equation that is not at odds with what you want.
When we choose surrender, we open to the possibility of discovering the infinite ways we might otherwise find what we want rather than being stuck on one single idea of happiness that we may never get. Essentially, when “wanting” is our mindset, what it really is that we want is to be unhappy, even if intellectually we can’t recognize or even acknowledge that.
But if you consider it for a moment, in making the choice to continue to want something we don’t have, that is exactly what we are choosing: we would rather be unhappy than have what we want. With that state of mind, even when we do get what we want, our minds will quickly switch to some other source of unhappiness because that’s what it has been conditioned to do.
In that way, it is completely fair to say that the human species has the capacity and propensity to be addicted to unhappiness. We want to “want” more than we want to “have” (Eckhart Tolle, “A New Earth”). And the chaos and suffering that “wanting” creates is unmatched. We are convinced that we are just trying to honor what the heart wants, but really we are perpetuating the unhappiness that the subconscious mind wants. It wants that unhappiness because that is the most direct root to the ultimate fulfillment that can only be found when we surrender our desire to want anything. That surrender creates an opening for something beyond mortal desire to come in.
To reach that state of being, you have to make the first move. You have to embrace each situation in your day and find the absolute perfection of it, especially the ones you don’t want but are unable to directly do anything about. You discover a peace and calm in that gratitude for each experience, and the void inside you that used to be filled with wanting gets flooded with joy. In that joy, your inner purpose is revealed, and now any “wanting” that arises is from divine inspiration and is absolutely achievable.
It’s fine to want what you want, as long as you aren’t wanting something for or from someone that they don’t want or can’t provide. Otherwise, you are not being responsible for your energy, and in that way you are not being responsible for life. In surrendering our wants, we are finally free to discover who it is we really are beyond those limited ideas of who we think we could be “if only we had that”.
The thing about tapping into conscious awareness is that in an instant you know “where” and “why” and “how” and “what” for all of about fifteen seconds (if you’re lucky), and the “who” just becomes irrelevant. Liberation is not a big enough word for that experience.
Then, your mind reboots and starts trying to grab onto it and make it into an identity: an experience “I” had, what “I” am, why “I’m” special. And then the mind starts diverting energy and effort to recapture that same experience, which of course it never can exactly: “You are now reentering the realm of “suffering”. Please keep your seat belts fastened and your hands in the cart at all times…”
Eventually you do shift again, and again, and again, ever deeper into the truth. Each time holds new lessons and each time finds deeper peace. You get more comfortable not knowing who you are anymore. Sure there is a person here, and that person can still function quite normally in the world. What aren’t here anymore are the thoughts that limited your being in this world.
To discover the depth of the truth of who you are, you need only become comfortable with not knowing, because it really is a moving target. It’s one thing to say “I am [fill in the blank]” and have those all be relative facts, but it’s another to be identified with those thought forms as being the absolute totality of all that you are. Essentially, it’s the thing that we have no way of knowing or describing that is more “us” than anything.
Words make us believe we know something, when really we just know about that thing (Eckhart Tolle, “A New Earth”). No “thing” is ever the same from one moment to the next, because we exist in a world of fluctuating energy. Essentially, one can never really know any “thing”. What you think of as “you” or “I” is really just a bunch of atoms being held together by the mystery of Life.
It is “that” that persists beyond existence that is who you are. We are that eternal conscious awareness, tuned to just the right frequency to hold energy in a state of matter until the biology breaks down beyond repair. Who are we then? Surprise, surprise: we are still “that” but without the burden of the filter of the mind-made, thought-and-stuff identified “self” that we kept trying to perfect all those years.
There is no need to wait until you die to discover eternity. It’s here now, and it is you. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t be eternal now would it? All you need to do to find it is just be who you are in this one moment and not create a mind-made identity out of it. Have thoughts, and then let them go: don’t seek to find yourself in them. Allow others to be who they are in that one moment, but don’t make their thoughts or actions into their identity either. The moment you think you know them is the moment you are no longer in touch with your eternal self.
You will know you have tapped into your true essential nature when you can ask the question: “Who am I?” and then instead of filling up the space that follows with an answer, you get a warm, comforting feeling from leaving it blank. You know that that stillness is more “you” than any words could ever capture. When you know yourself as “that”, you no longer feel the need to try to fill up your “self” with stuff, because you know there is nothing you can add to yourself that would make you any more complete or more fulfilled. Life then becomes about experiencing life, and your identity is then inseperable from that experience.
How can I enjoy this moment when what I am doing is not what I want to be doing? My question back is: How can you not?
If we are not finding the joy that’s available to us in this one moment, then our mind is wandering down some road of past or future, or it has simply found a method of escape for a while. When we are in this one moment, it is one of “no mind”, and one of joy and fulfillment.
That’s not to say we can’t ever think. Thought is necessary to be able to do those things we are doing. It’s also not about never considering past or future. But when that form of thinking consumes most of our waking hours, then it becomes a hindrance rather than a help.
One method we use to escape from the torment of those thoughts of past and future is by suspending our thought activity. We do this by plugging in to someone else’s streams of thought, primarily through the use of tv or radio or other such distractions. Another way is through the use of drugs or alcohol. On the surface, these appear to be a form of relaxation because they do indeed free us from thought, but what’s really happening is that instead of rising above thought we sink below it.
Rather than becoming conscious of our ability to stop thought, we sink into a level of unconsciousness, not entirely unlike hypnosis, and in that space we are free from past and future. This, of course, only lasts until we unplug and find those thought patterns are still there waiting for us, and are maybe even compounded now by thoughts of having lost so much time or behaved so irresponsibly. Eventually even those distractions hold no pleasure or escape for us.
But when we tap into this moment by rising above thought at regular intervals throughout the day, all the other times when thought is active, it is less burdensome. Thought becomes a useful tool instead of a tyrannical dictator. The thoughts we have then lose their absolute heaviness, and a sense of ease and joy flow into what we do. This is, as Eckhart Tolle calls it, the “joy of Being”: the dynamic aspect of life.
Joy is not something that comes from what we are doing, it is an aspect of life that is inextricably woven into every action, even if that action is simply breathing. Some things stand out as more enjoyable than others, but make no mistake: there is joy available in taking out the trash as well.
If we are constantly striving away from this moment into the past or future, then that is all we will ever be able to experience in your life regardless of the changes those thoughts prompt. But when we are finding those pure moments of joy in each day of our life, our future will be filled with joyous moments. Then when we do use our mind, our thoughts are much more productive, creative, and effective. The things in our life that need to be changed stand out more clearly, and the things that we thought needed changing that were really just a product of an overactive imagination simply fall away. What is left is an enriching and fulfilling life beyond any we might have imagined, and it all starts with the ability to tap into the unquestionable joy that is available to you Now.
When we say that we don’t trust someone, really what we mean is we don’t trust ourselves with their behavior. As long as someone’s actions are rooted in fear, it is wise not to lend them too much trust and influence in our world. But really, what trust comes down to is how much do we trust ourselves not to fall apart if they don’t do what we have trusted them to do? And as long as our actions are rooted in fear, we will never completely feel safe in trusting ourselves.
So how do we trust ourselves? It’s actually quite easy: you just do, and then it’s simply a matter of not letting your mind create stories about why you shouldn’t. In essence, when you trust yourself you are really trusting love, because that is essentially what you are. Love will get you through the most challenging situations much easier than fear. Open up to the challenges you face instead of closing yourself off to them. Such barricades are just travesties created with the illusion that they keep you safe from the hurts of the world, but really it is just a device that keeps you locked in the very hurt you seek protection against.
When we trust ourselves, when we trust love, we know we are safe in any situation. There is an overwhelming sense that everything is as it needs to be for the evolution of consciousness, and so rather than rail against it, we merge with that purest intent. In doing so, this unexpected action of love confuses the person who was expecting a reaction from fear. It throws them off balance, which plants a seed of awareness that under the right conditions may blossom one day.
Trusting is much easier when you have realized your oneness with life. You are free to see past the individuated ego to the eternal one life within yourself or another person. Even if that other person doesn’t know anything about that eternal aspect of life, you know it for them, and your actions stir their formless nature within them. This may cause them to let their guard down, or it may serve to make them more fearful.
Ego doesn’t really want to be known, because when it is, that is the end of it. Ego is nothing more than a mental construct kept alive by stories of separation, and that illusive separation drives fear. In letting go of the stories of “you”, your authentic self is revealed. You still have your personality and your mannerisms, (in other words: you are still you), the difference is that your actions are no longer motivated from fear.
And when we embrace the truth of that authentic self, we understand “trust” in a whole new way. We trust ourselves, even with another’s fallibility. We no longer derive a sense of identity from someone else’s actions, because we are no longer inclined to make up stories of ourselves as victim or savior.
We are free to love, and we trust that love, because it is the essence of the life that we are. Let go into love, and in doing so we discover it was there all along. In that discovery, we know beyond any question or doubt that it can be trusted: that it has “had” us even when we were “unhaveable”. We draw strength and confidence in knowing it will be there in every situation you find ourselves in, whether in this life or beyond.
Think for a moment about someone in your life who triggered some harsh feelings for you, whether they are someone you feel you know very well or someone you only met once or twice. Ask yourself, is it possible to find a place inside yourself where you are free to love them? I assure you that such a place does exist, and these words today will point to that place.
Loving someone really takes no effort at all. What takes effort is holding onto those memories that spark those strong emotions. It’s one thing to know whether a person is trustworthy or not, but it’s another to make it into their whole identity and exhaust hours in mental protest to their behavior. Just know what you know, and let the rest go. There is no need to keep the story of why what they did was wrong, just let the truth be truth and get on with your day.
You have to just love people, whether they are good or bad and whether they are right or wrong. The experience is so freeing. The energy expended by hanging onto that memory of what someone did that you perceived was wrong could be put to so many better uses. Those stories color every interaction you have whether it’s with them or someone else. And if you’re not judging them, then you are trying to imagine how they may be judging you. Either way, your authentic self is barricaded behind this illusive wall of fear.
And it’s more than just “don’t worry about what other people think about you” and it’s more than just “be yourself”. There is an experience of those concepts far deeper than those words point to.
When you experience your connectedness with life, you know yourself beyond form. It’s that part of you that loves you unconditionally, even in those times when you were most unlovable. And experiencing that love, you can now offer that to others, because you recognize that they are merely an extension of that same one life. You see their fear-based actions and judgments as a symbol that they are still cut off from that source of unconditional love that resides inside of them, and you feel compassion and understanding.
You don’t fear their judgment of you anymore because you are no longer judging yourself. In that opening, you are free to love them, whether they love you or not. You are free to love them even when they are unlovable. Does that seem naïve? It’s really not. Just because you love someone, just because the eternal nature in you recognizes and loves the eternal nature in them beyond their individual fears and judgments, doesn’t mean you need to subject yourself to poor behavior. It actually empowers you to say, “Hey, I love you, but I’m out of here.” And when you leave the scene, it is without any negativity following you into the next scene.
Words cannot adequately convey this experience of truth. The best I can really offer to you is just to give it a shot sometime. It’s the people who trigger those strong reactions that are actually your greatest ally in finding the hidden door to this unconditional love. As they say, if you don’t feel like you have that kind of love to give, just give it anyway and you will find it was there all along. That is the key to so many things: We keep waiting to get it until we feel we can give it, but how do you get something that you are? Love is the force holding together the atoms that form your very dna: it is that force that organizes and directs your dna’s activity. You can’t see it because you are it. It’s everywhere, and it loves unconditionally.
In Eckhart Tolle’s book, “A New Earth”, he reveals that there is an inner purpose and an outer purpose for existence. In chapter nine he writes that the inner purpose is simply to awaken, and that “Finding and living in alignment with the inner purpose is the foundation for fulfilling your outer purpose.” It is this inner purpose of awakening that I also often point to as primary, and that I would like to explore again today from another angle.
It’s taken me some time to get comfortable using the term “awakening”. It is a concept that, for me, was loaded with preconceived notions because it fell under the umbrella of another even more loaded concept of “spirituality”. But what I’ve come to realize is that awakening is primarily about evolving beyond fear. Without fear as a motivation, you are free to make truly inspired choices. You can honor “That” which allows you to be here in whatever unique way feels appropriate to you.
There is no right or wrong way to live in alignment, and in essence even if one is not “awake”, they are still living in alignment. Regardless of whether they are aware of their participation in creation, they are still doing what has been called upon them to do. The difference is that there is fear behind their actions, and where there is fear there is suffering, so they can’t be enjoying the ride.
And that’s not to say you should rage against fear. To “live fearlessly” is another misused and misunderstood concept. It stirs a sense of rebellion, and although that can certainly feel liberating, there is still fear at the heart of that action. Essentially, rebellion is just masking the fear of letting fear influence your life.
Is it even possible to live life without fear? Well, to some extent fear is a useful tool for all living beings. Primal fear aids our ability to escape dangerous situations. But what if the danger is just a story you made up in your head? Most of the fears in this contemporary life are just that: stories. And regardless of where you go, there is no escape from those stories except to awaken from them.
So awakening is not about shifting how you think about yourself or your actions, it’s about expanding awareness of your undeniable connectedness to the formless essence of life. Though you can never be out of alignment, with awareness your actions naturally fall in line with the intention of creation. Free from the burden of fear, you no longer exhaust energy in pointless protest to “what is” and discover the deep peace in the realization that “all is as it should be”. Then those fearful stories that drove your actions fall away easily, as if they were just a dream, and the story that is unfolding Now stands revealed.
It is a story of an unconditional love unlike any you’ve ever imagined, and it is that love that drives your actions now. You bring love to places that have only ever known fear, and you witness transformation. There is more joy and fulfillment in that experience than in any that had come on the level of form alone.
And you don’t have to live a stereotypical “spiritual” existence to live in alignment. That is just another story of how live the “right way”. There will certainly be changes in how you live upon awakening, but they will happen organically as the things that are no longer shielding you from fear simply fall away. If you take a sampling of the spiritual teachers alive today, you will find a whole range of lifestyles, and all are appropriate. Life is supporting them in the way that suits their desires because they are supporting Life. All it takes is the willingness to let go of the stories that cultivate fear. The equation couldn’t be simpler: Life – fear = Love.
Last week, I wrote a post entitled “My Two Cents” revealing my interpretation of the purpose of life. As I sit to write today, I realize that there is a most significant piece that was completely left out. Although this piece is actually more important than what was offered in that post, at the same time it contains that post and every other post I’ve written because of the space of consciousness that I write from. Please allow me to share.
So the no-thing that is more important than “What is the purpose of life?” is… “What is my purpose right now?” It’s when we lose sight of what it is we are doing in this moment that quality begins to degrade. I say “no-thing” because as I revealed in another post, “Intentional Being”, in essence we never actually do anything: all we do is just shift energy around. When you consider your action in this moment, sitting here reading this post, what is it you are really doing? Drawing energy to power the computer, churning energy as you read and process the words, converting energy as your body breathes and digests, expelling energy as it radiates from your body.
Why? There are hundreds of other things you could be doing…why take time to read this? There must be some payoff. Is it to learn? To expand your awareness? To find fault in the things I write? To try to know what I know? To figure out what my motivations are behind writing this? Is it just a habit? Are you reading it in order to be done reading it?
Unless you recognize that the purpose for reading this post, including each word as it tracks through your vision, is in-and-of itself the purpose as well as the goal, then you are missing the present moment. There is some identification with a thought of “you” as the reader of this post that is interfering with your ability to recognize the perfection of the stillness and creative intent of consciousness that allows these words to be here to be read.
Like the natural pause after you exhale, it is that stillness that also allows your form to be here reading, and it is that stillness that allowed this form to be here writing it to be read. It was written for no other reason than to bring form to formlessness: to bring the light of consciousness into this world using the vehicle that was open for that purpose. There is no higher purpose for me than to be of use to that consciousness, and that is my only motivation in this moment. My hope and desire is that it translates, and somehow touches that extension of stillness that is in you, the reader, and stirs your own insights into how to bring that light of consciousness into this world.
So in the moment that this is being written, this is my only purpose in life. When I am done writing, I will get up, and then that will be my purpose, but only until I begin moving to my inspired destination, then that will be my purpose, and so on. In being present in each step, thoughts and judgments do not cloud the ability to take in the surroundings. I allow things to be as they are without labeling them mentally, and in that openness the things that genuinely need my attention stand out more clearly. As a result, I spend almost no time concerned with the things that might have otherwise demanded my attention because of some idea of what that thing “says” about me as an individual. When I am connected to stillness in this way (which for better or worse isn’t always the case), my identity becomes one of presence rather than form.
And when you are hosting stillness in that way, an overarching goal is finally able to reach you. With this goal comes an intense infusion of enthusiastic energy, and everything you do is towards that end, but all the while you are working towards that goal, you are honoring each step as the absolute purpose that it is, and therefore each step is one of absolute quality. There is no “doer”, there is only what is being done. And when the goal is met, there is no need to create a story about “I did this” because you recognize no-thing really got done at all. There was simply a celebration of life, and the joy that was felt in the process continues to resonate the being you are, providing a deep sense of fulfillment beyond any superficial accomplishment. When you experience the truth of what I am referring to, you also know there is no greater payoff than that.
The purpose in reading this post was not simply to be done reading it, but now that it’s done, what will be your purpose now?
Letting go of one dream makes room for new dreams to come in. Often when we reach what feels like a dead end, all that’s really needed is a shift in perspective. There’s a dream that you had, a past memory of an imagined future, and if you don’t let go of it then it will continue to block the authentic dream that is unfolding right now. In your willingness to let go, you will discover more happiness and fulfillment than you ever imagined possible.
When we get so caught up in these imagined stories, we can lose sight as to whether that dream is still even applicable anymore. Or maybe it is still applicable, but just not in the way we envisioned it happening. By letting go, we free ourselves of that tunnel vision that led us to feel so lost, and find ourselves on a platform of possibilities.
Letting go of a dream can feel almost like a death. But the part of you that was so invested in that dream coming true was just one story of you, and by letting that story die, you tap into the authentic life that was here all along. And even when the imagined future felt so beautiful and so true, continuing to mentally dwelling on it obscures the truth of the story that was running as a silent parallel program in the background of all our experiences.
By letting go, we are able to see things in our lives that may have always been there but that we just couldn’t see before. There are opportunities everywhere if we just know how to look. But we cannot see them if our minds are lost in a story of a failed dream. Only when we can recognize that moment of release as an opportunity for something new, can we tap into this alternate dream that’s been there all along.
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, it’s only when we hold on so tight to one dream that it can seemingly become a nightmare. That is by design. In truth, that nightmare is the key to our awakening to Life. Life is about perpetual change within the changeless structure of this one moment. And if we cling too tightly to any one dream, we will surely find ourselves lost along the way. When we allow those dreams to change and adapt to the situations at hand, we can discover the dreams that are coming true all around us.
And when we do finally let go of one dream, too often it simply gets replaced with another that we hold onto with just as much intensity. As long as we are grasping at a dream that we believe holds future fulfillment, then regardless of what that dream is, we are setting ourselves up for heartache. But if our dream is one that reveals the fulfillment at every turn, with maybe an idea of where we’d like the path to end up, but that also allows for that end goal to change or shift as needed, then we have already stopped dreaming the dream and started living it.
Remember that they are not your dreams after all: they are life’s dream for you. It’s only when ego steps in and say’s “it’s mine” that we begin to lose ourselves in it. Love the dream of life by just being the space for it to unfold. Discover the strength and inspiration woven into the experience of knowing that you are a key component to this dream of life. Only there will you find the lasting fulfillment and true joy available in the active participation of a dream coming true.
The topic of attachment is a key component of liberation. To fully know it requires a direct experience beyond the words that describe what it is and how to do it. Attachment to the things of this world, whether they be objects, thoughts, or our own biology, is the very root cause of so much suffering and angst in this contemporary society. It’s even possible to become attached to the thought that one should not be attached to the things of this world, and that in and of itself causes suffering.
And as illogical or irrational or difficult as it may seem to become unattached to the things of this world, I can report that it can actually happen in a split second when or if it’s something you are ready to choose. And in that split second, the simplicity of nonattachment stands revealed. From that place of wholeness, it becomes so obvious that it isn’t that you can’t have things, it’s just that those things are no longer imbued with a sense of self and you are free to enjoy them in a way you couldn’t before.
No longer do you live in your house with your stuff and your family or your self, but instead you are simply living. The biggest shift happens when you realize that the story of “your life” was nothing more than that: a story, kept alive by firing neurons in “your” brain for the purpose of creating an identity of yourself as a separate being. There is deep liberation when you no longer seek to define yourself by the events that have happened in the past or the things that you hope to make happen in the future, and instead realize the life that is happening in this moment right Now.
In that moment, all that remains is an experience of wholeness with Life. You recognize that every thing (including you), whether it is in your possession or not, as well as the space that allows it all to be here, is at it’s very essence simply borrowing it’s perceived reality from a single field of intensely alive and creative energy. This energy cannot be created or destroyed, and is more “you” than anything you can think or possess. Eckhart Tolle reminds us “You do not have a life, you are life.”
And from this realization, you are now free to be in this world, this play of form, without all the struggle and drama. You can then choose to have things or not, the difference is that it is no longer about enhancing your identity and is instead just a celebration of life. When you no longer feel defined by what you do, you are free to discover the joy in doing everything. That is where ultimate fulfillment is found: not in having, but in “being” in everything you do, and there is nothing more logical or rational in this life than finding lasting fulfillment.
So rather than seeking to create identity by accumulating form, or seeking to create identity of one who is not attached to form, just stop for a moment and discover what it is you are in your essence that can never be acquired or lost. When you experience that essence, you know yourself beyond any concept of self, and you know your absolute connectedness to creative intent.
From that place of power, you are free to just “be” without the compulsive desire to add to that experience of self, because it’s already perfect and complete. You are free to experience the world of things without becoming lost in the attachment to the identification with the story of yourself as the experiencer of those things. There is a realization that as Life, you already have it all, and so you are free to simply savor all the experiences that life has to offer.
So in yesterday’s post, “My Two Cents”, I revealed my own interpretation of the driving purpose of creative intent. In no way do I feel my interpretation is, or should be, the only interpretation. As I said, there are as many potential different takes on it as there are people on the planet, and the beautiful thing is that we can each be right. We don’t have to agree on one precise explanation in order to live in harmony. In fact, that differentiation is essential: a harmony cannot exist if everyone is playing the same note on the same instrument.
What’s more important than what my experience of truth is, is how it makes me feel. My truth empowers me to live boldly. Upon discovering this truth, as well as each subsequent shift deeper into that truth, I am released from limiting thoughts and fears. I am liberated from judgments (primarily composed of the ones I make of myself) that stifled my potential and kept me locked inside a tiny illusive box of my own creation.
I bring up this topic quite often simply because now that this truth has me, it seems so obvious. But it wasn’t until somebody told me to look for it that I even knew to look. Eckhart Tolle said something like “If everything in the world was blue, you wouldn’t understand what “blue” was.” When something is everywhere and part of everything, it’s impossible to see it until someone tells you to look. This is also similar to the notion of how a fish is the last to know he is in water because to him it’s just his world as he knows it. And knowing there are so many who are seeking to find it, my hope is that these simple inspired words and stories will bring you to your own experience of authentic truth.
So when find your mind wandering down the road of the truths that you hold dear, rather than getting hung up on what those truths are or how they differ from other’s truths, consider instead how those truths make you feel. Do they embolden you in a way that celebrates your authentic self while not feeling threatened by other’s who might hold different truths? Or do they keep you locked inside a limited illusion of self, cut off from the infinite love and support and joy of the life that you are? If that’s the case, I urge you to investigate that truth. When you get to the root of all your fears, go inside that too. When you are there, you may be surprised to discover that what that shell of fear was concealing all this time was love.
What is the purpose of life? There are probably as many different answers to that question as there are people on this planet.* So how is it possible to talk about aligning our actions with the actions of creative intent? (Refer to post “Perfect Alignment”) What is the intent of creation? Until that is known, there can be no underlying purpose to an action except to serve that of the individual.
Of course: maybe that is the intent of creation…to serve the desires of the individual. After all, dreams come true everyday (though admittedly they don’t always turn out to be so dreamy in reality). But when I surrender to the dream of eating, I eat. When I surrender to the dream of getting in my car and driving, I go. When I surrender to the dream of going to sleep, I sleep. When I surrender to the dream of posting a website, I do. It would seem that all my dreams do come true, and the ones that haven’t…just haven’t yet.
So could it be that the purpose of life is to make individual dreams come true? Something doesn’t seem quite right with that. It feels very self-serving. It certainly creates a situation that has huge potential for strife when you consider how there are so many conflicting dreams out there. Some people dream of dastardly things, and even many of those dreams come true. Where’s the responsibility? Ah, “the end of days”…that’s right. Hmmm. . .maybe I should have listened more those few times I went to “religious ed”. So does that mean the purpose of creation is to live in fear of judgment? That really doesn’t feel right.
There’s got to be another answer…but what? What is the intent of creation? Evolution seems like a likely candidate. There’s nothing more creative than evolving a species from stardust to an inordinately complicated bionetwork. And with evolution as a purpose, I am released from so many of my individual struggles because it’s no longer just about me: it’s about the entire world order. There seems to be a lot of buzz around that concept these days: conscious participation in the evolution of life. I’ve been a strong advocate of it myself lately, and it is a noble goal if I do say so myself.
But even that still doesn’t feel like a complete explanation. It begs the seemingly unknowable question “What is the purpose of evolution then?” Always more unsettling questions… Is it possible to just leave it at that and say “we’ll just have to wait and see”? Sometimes I can do that: just rest in the mystery. But eventually it comes up again and again. That’s how it works: our minds feed on mysteries to solve.
But I also know that all the answers I’ll ever need are inside me, so why not look? What else is there to do between the dishes and the cooking and the laundry? I was never one to watch soap operas, so instead I spend my free moments solving the mysteries of the essence of life: I guess you could say it’s kind of a hobby. Each answer I find brings me strength and focus to live life boldly, and like I said, the answers are always there when it’s time for me to know.
So I asked, yet again, “Why is life going to all this trouble anyway?” and then went about my “daily doings”. My actions have felt so aligned with life lately that as I’m washing the kitchen table I changed the question and asked, “Well, why am I going to all this trouble?” And there it was: the answer just jumped out at me as I realized it was there all along.
When my actions are in alignment with life, there is pure joy that flows into whatever it is I am doing. In fact, there ceases to be a “me” doing anything and all that remains is what is being done. That surrendered action results in such a deep vibration of joy that is beyond any fulfillment I ever found through indulging in worldly offerings.
So that has to be why life does what it does: simply for the joy of doing it. While it certainly has a plan and a design, there is no goal or deadline. It’s doing it because the vibration of the “joy of doing” is the epitome of fulfillment. Life doesn’t “not” do things because it “doesn’t feel like it right now”, nor does it do those things begrudgedly. It does everything that needs done in equal measure from a field of pure creative intent: not for the purpose of creating, but simply because that process of expressing creativity is fulfilling in and of itself.
But that’s just my perspective. I’d love to hear what you think.
* Refer to the “Inner Harmony” post for a follow-up on this comment.
(Please also see “Hosting Stillness” for another follow-up on this post.)
There is a stage in the journey where “want” and “need” cease to resonate. That space inside that was occupied with so much longing, urgency and dissatisfaction then overflows with the awareness and gratitude of “being”. There is a sweet sense of liberation as the mind is freed up from “trying to figure it all out” and experiences a deep sense of appreciation for how it all is in this moment.
The mind can never know all that is at work in a scene. And since finding and solving mysteries has consumed so much of its purpose to this point, it’s very challenging to turn that function off for a while. Where there is no apparent problem, the mind is an expert at infusing even innocuous things with a troubling sense of restlessness. That “not knowing” drives a constant feeling of dis-ease, which in turn drives a constant feeling of wanting to know more: wanting and needing to fix what is perceived to be broken.
Suspending that cycle just long enough creates a space, an opening, allowing for the discovery of absolute truth behind all the relative ones. Within that calm, there comes a realization that all the implications of an action can never be grasped by the mind, and so resistance falls away as the mind releases limiting judgments of good and bad in favor of honoring the higher good that can never be known.
This deep realization of truth brings with it a sense of peace and acceptance. It is in this space where the mind can move beyond the program of fragmentation and discover the essential joy of being. In this experience of wholenss, the fractured mind is healed giving rise to purposeful actions. Those actions, because they are in direct alignment with creative intent, are far more effective at cultivating fulfillment than any action that arose from “want” or “need”.
Ultimately nothing we can do will ever make any difference in this world, but our state of being while we’re doing those things makes all the difference in the world. Our state of being is ultimately the only thing we are, or can, be responsible for. Every action is just a way of shifting energy from one form to another. Many of us have been led to believe that the end goal is to accumulate the most and the nicest forms of energy, but if that’s our primary driver, ultimately we are operating on a very base level of existence and probably unaware that we even have choice to carry ourselves any other way.
It’s time to evolve beyond “more and better” into the space of “sacred and responsible”. That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t have things: what you choose to have or don’t have is a completely personal choice and makes no real difference in the world of things. It is the intent behind obtaining or doing those things that I am pointing to.
If an acquisition or activity celebrates the joy of being and is not designed to enhance a “sense of self”, then that is an expression of love: the only true currency of universal intent. If there’s something you want because you feel it adds to your sense of self, then that is an expression of lack. What an intention of lack says to the eternal host is that you do not feel you have enough or are enough: that you need “something else” to make you special.
That intention of “lack” is nothing more than the “energy that you are” vibrating and resonating at a low frequency, and that frequency says more about you than any acquisition or accomplishment ever could. Mind you, “low” does not denote good or bad: it just is as it is, just as vibrating at higher frequencies is not “better”.
That resonant frequency is what signifies our placement along the spectrum of evolution. It leads us to experience life in different ways than we do at other frequencies, because we are tuned in to those lessons designed to support and encourage our evolution at that stage. And truly, in any given space of time (day, week, month, etc), those frequencies can rise and fall even among those who are deeply aware of their eternal nature.
Your energy vibration is very much like a musical instrument. With practice, you can play the song more gracefully and more precisely than you can without practice. How much you practice is completely up to you depending on your level of interest in mastering that instrument. For some, it’s enough to simply practice in moderation so they are still available to experience other plays of form. For others, practicing becomes their greatest indulgence.
The biggest obstacle along this spectrum is simply becoming aware that you are playing an instrument at all. Awareness is essential in order to attain even a basic mastery of it, and without it your experience will be similar to that of a “Nowhere Man” (The Beatles, 1965). So many people go about their day unaware that they are even contributing to this larger orchestra. Life responds by sending them trials in an attempt to get their attention, but if they’re not aware it’s speaking to them, how does one know to listen? Without that awareness, they will continue to operate at that base level of consciousness, but even that is as it should be. Eventually they will awaken, though it may not come until their release from form.
Our intention behind our thoughts and actions is what determines our experience in form. Depending on the frequency, the universe will respond accordingly by bringing us those experiences we need at that stage of evolution allowing us to tap into our latent skills and abilities. Practicing is nothing more than learning how to listen to life. With love as the primary driver of our actions, the limited joy of “having” is replaced by the limitless joy of “doing”.
There is a story inside of us beyond the one we tell ourselves. It is a hero’s tale of perseverance and triumph, but it can only be revealed upon surrendering the story of our past. That story we’ve been weaving since the day we were born is a child’s tale of innocence: an idealized fable of true love and “happily ever after”. It’s that story that has led us to suffer and struggle and blind us to our true selves. True love and “happily ever after” do exist, but you will never discover them as long as you are trapped inside a story of what you thought they should look like in your life.
The ultimate life story is one that cannot be planned or thought. It must be lived in order to be believed, otherwise it remains a fairy tale or a work of science fiction. The only way to tap into that journey is to dive head first into the belly of the beast that scares you. All that you resist must be welcomed with open arms as the gift that it is. Without those obstacles, we have no way of discovering the truth of who we are beyond who we think we are and who we think we want to be.
It is simultaneously the most difficult thing, and the absolute easiest thing, you can ever do, but you have to choose it and you have to commit to it. It is not for everyone, and it is not a required course. You will still graduate eventually, though your journey will be marked by unfulfilled wishes and a longing deep inside your soul.
There are struggles on this journey, though they are no longer ones brought about by illusion. They are real and they are Now, but when you are in alignment with them, all you see is the adventure. You charge ahead with adrenaline coursing through your veins and an enthusiasm that can only be experienced when joy meets goal.
Life is energy. Form is energy. Thought is energy. Emotion is energy. “You” is energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. Energy is recycled over and over throughout the creative process of manifestation and dissolution.
Can’t you see how ludicrous all this suffering is that we create for ourselves? Thoughts twist those emotions by creating a story about them that we then call feelings. We feel unhappy, we feel alone, we feel misunderstood, we feel unloved: but really it’s all just energy. Energy twisting energy by an energy-based entity. All because we have the ability of reflective thought, made possible by a dramatic leap of evolution, that allows us to churn that energy through our minds and bodies.
Sometimes it’s thoughts that spark the emotion, other times it’s the emotion that triggers thought. Either way, once the cycle gets going, without awareness it’s impossible to pull the plug on it until it’s run it’s course. And the things that we say and do while under the influence of such toxic pathology undermines our ability to trust or be trusted. From that place of total absorption in thought and reaction and fear, it’s all but impossible to see it as simply an overdose of energy.
But with practice, we can begin to stem the tide. As we set in place reminders to awaken from those thoughts that consume us, we avail ourselves to discover that original self who has been carrying us all this time. For the first time, we are able to allow that original self to emerge and take the helm. We tap into a wealth of inspirations to focus our energy on, and we come at those tasks from a place of empowerment. Letting go of one dream makes room for a new one to arise in its place. And this original self has such an amazing dream, far more fascinating than any the mind could create.
Was the purpose of that evolutionary leap simply to allow us to create mind-made entities that drive us deep into unhappiness? Or is that just a symptom, a byproduct, of something more spectacular? Maybe, just maybe, that mind-made entity that creates so much angst, was an essential part of the journey leading us to awaken from it. Upon awakening, we are now free to use that self in service to the life that we are instead of continuing to use it in service to the madness of our mind-made self.
At least that’s been my experience. I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this…
The eternal structure of life is what allows all the fleeting content, made real through our perceptions and interpretations, to be here. All of life passes through one fraction of a moment that is so small it is immeasurable. And if you can bring your conscious awareness into that infinitesimally small moment of time, you will experience a vast expansion as you realize the enormity of it. What you discover is that this one immeasurable moment in which all of life unfolds is actually all of eternity.
This eternal structure holds all the content we perceive in our lives. Many live their lives under the illusion that time is real, and from that limited perspective many things are perceived as threatening. But as it turns out, time is just a mind-made construct that helps us organize and categorize and examine life, but in it’s essence has no reality of its own. Time seems real to us because we are just so busy thinking about past and future that we have no awareness of this most sacred present moment.
And truly, we can never know the present moment. The moment this moment rises to the level of thought, it’s already a different moment (in terms of content) than it was before. This fact confounds us, and seems irrelevant and unuseful, so we disregard it in lieu of more interesting things that we can know. These things make up the content of our lives. It’s this content that is ever-changing and gives rise to fear of loss.
But in terms of structure, it is and always will be this one eternal moment. As the saying goes: “You can never step into the same stream twice”. What it doesn’t speak to is the structure of the intangible, unknowable web of energy that allows that stream to be there or that allows you to believe you are here stepping in it. You, as content, will perish one day, but you, as life, will be eternally unfolding in this present moment.
If you are stuck in a place where you only believe what you can directly know, you are only going to know very little about life. But if you can throw open those doors of limiting thought, you will discover a deeper dimension to that life as well as your absolutely critical connection to it. You find yourself in a space of endless time, and the need to “hurry up and finish” and the fears of “getting it wrong” just don’t resonate anymore. All of a sudden you are free to be your authentic self in a way you just couldn’t before.
Eckhart Tolle reminds us “There is never a time when it wasn’t now”. It’s only when we get caught in the illusion that we are separate from this eternal life that we feel limited by time. Awareness is the only way to experience the truth of the vastness of this moment. The life that you are is unfolding here in this pure and perfect moment, and will continue to unfold even when the “you” that you think you are isn’t here anymore.
When we tap into the truth that in our essence we are inseparable from the very essence of life, we are filled with a sense of awe as we begin to explore all the many ways we have manifested. We are filled with compassion for all those who are still locked in the prison of their conceptualized, time-based realities. We experience a love so deep and so pure that all previous experiences of love just pale in comparison. Fear falls away, freeing us to live and celebrate this unique expression of life in a way we just couldn’t before. Welcome to heaven: please leave your baggage at the door.
The human mind is a truly amazing feat of life. Through it, our species has produced some incredible achievements as well as some horrific devastations. Advances in biology, technology, earth and space science, humanity, psychology, architecture (to name a few) are being realized at a pace more rapid than has ever been seen before. We stretch the boundaries of the limitations of our minds, but only to a point, and then any further concepts become a leap of faith that we either choose to believe or not.
The mind cannot easily wrap itself around what it cannot perceive, though it is a master of inference. The mind is much more satisfied when it receives information that can be categorized and classified and put into the larger context of the construct that it filters all of life’s experiences through.
Beginning in infancy, the mind perceives an experience though the senses, and now it has its first data point. It labels it as good, bad, or indifferent (for now), then sets out looking for another experience. As we grow, this process continues until it has a model that it feels adequately represents reality. Anything it already knows is quickly dismissed in favor of experiences it hasn’t had yet, but typically only to the point where those experiences aren’t perceived as threatening to the life that is experiencing it.
Based on the options you feel are available and achievable, you craft an idea of the life you want to create for yourself. Mind you, to a large extent, most of this process takes place before you are even out of your teen years. Once that idea is formed, however, you set about looking ways to make that dream a reality.
You’re so focused on the end goal, however, that as you check off those things on your list you don’t stop long enough to consider whether those original assumptions of life still hold true. At some point, you probably find you have much of what you set out to get, but something just doesn’t feel quite right about it.
You mind begins to feel unsettled. It wants more experiences. It looks at the things around it that once brought it a sense of accomplishment or specialness, but now can only see them as unfulfilled promises of satisfaction. It begins making changes: job, house, furniture, spouse. Those changes bring satisfaction for a while, but continuing to change these major things threatens other areas of your life. Now you either resign yourself to whatever life you have, or you can continue to make changes in spite of the instability they cause.
But there’s another option that is beyond the minds ability to offer as a solution. It’s like a bug in the software: The mind will continue to think it must be a problem with the input rather than a flaw in its original programming. There is a patch for that bug, though, and all it takes to upload it is for you to open yourself up to experiencing the unknowable. In that experience of truth, you come to a place of “knowing” that lies beyond the minds ability to know.
Because the mind operates on the basis of differentiation and assimilation, it is incapable of sensing its absolute connectedness to the web of energy that forms the true basis of reality. Because it’s intangible, as well as omnipresent, the mind can’t know it. Anything the mind can’t know is disregarded for things it can know, and anything that is commonplace is disregarded for things that stand out as extraordinary. But this field of energy which pulses our form based reality into existence, however common and however unknowable, is nonetheless there, and it is not afraid.
You can only sense it though, and once you sense it, you come to know that as you. From there, you begin to sense it in the things around you, as well as in the space that allows those things and you to be here. Then when you turn to look again at those things in your life that seemed so ordinary, you will be able to experience their true depth and beauty as if for the first time, every time you experience them. That is where true fulfillment is found: it is the essence of the life that you are.
We are taught from a young age how to seek and grant forgiveness, and told that it’s an imperative component of a civilized society. Forgiveness is a deeply misunderstood concept, though. It turns out you don’t need to forgive the people and things of the past in order to be released from those past hurts. Those hurts will continually present themselves in your everyday life repackaged in different scenarios until you find a moment when you realize the true nature of forgiveness.
It basically comes down to identification with a sense of self: if there’s no “self” being wronged, then there is no need to forgive. When we are locked in a story of being wronged or doing wrong, energy becomes trapped inside us. Forgiveness is a way of getting the energy flowing freely through us and back into the world. It is a gift we give ourselves, and one of the keys helping us to get in touch with our ultimate source of power.
In this space of Now, any number of amazing or horrible things are possible, and as long as you are identified with a “story of you”, your experience will be that these things are happening to you or by you. But they are not: things are just happening.
When you let go of the “self” that those things are “happening to”, you open to the possibility of just experiencing life. And in that experience, there will be things that are more welcomed than others, but when it comes right down to it, it’s those most unwelcome things that challenge you to grow beyond your concept of you.
It’s important to note that in letting go of your identification with the “self”, you do not let go of those unique things that make you “you”. All it means is that you stop allowing those things to define you and ultimately cause you to suffer. In a very real way, this ultimate act of free will allows you to embrace your unique qualities in a way that was unavailable to you before.
From that place of clarity, when you find yourself in a frustrating situation similar to ones you have been in before, you discover you are free to speak clearly and directly from a place of peace to make whatever adjustments need to be made, or you can leave the situation if that’s what makes the most sense. Either way, the story of what just happened will not follow you for the rest of the day.
And in those next moments that would have been spent recounting what happened, you are free to notice all the life that is going on inside you and all around you. Rather than being trapped in a story in your head, you feel light and open and available for more experiences.
Eventually you come to a place where you begin to see how those situations were leading you into the pit of despair so you could discover the hidden passageway to freedom that lay just beyond it. In that moment, forgiveness is replaced with gratitude.
And when you reach the depths of that level of experiencing life, you are finally free to love yourself in a way that was just incomprehensible before. All it takes is to recognize how the “story of you” is creating suffering in this moment, and then recognize how these moments of identification serve our highest purpose by reminding us to awaken from that identification with thought. In doing so, we tap into the power that is Now, and those moments that used to drive us into suffering are now seen as gifts. Forgiveness then ceases to be something you do and is instead just something else that happens. From there you come to realize the true nature of forgiveness is love.
In the transformative book “A New Earth”, Eckhart Tolle wrote: “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.” Remembering this essential point throughout the day serves as an excellent cue for us to awaken from the incessant stream of thoughts about the past and the future. This is important if we are to shed our past conditioning and embrace our authentic selves.
When we remember that every experience is for our own evolutionary benefit, we become like explorers as we look with fresh eyes at the situations we find ourselves in. The lessons of life are all around us, but as long as we are trapped in thought, we are unable to tap into those deeper meanings. People and things are relegated to the status of object or obstacle, mere concepts in our minds, as we go about a deadened, conceptual reality.
In this limited state of mind, we are no longer interacting with the people and things in our lives, but instead we are relating to the mental image that we hold of them. We completely close ourselves off to seeing them for what they are and are only able to see them for what they are to us. From that lowly platform, they are no longer able to grow and change, and as a result, to a large extent neither are we.
But a simple reminder that every experience holds the key to our liberation can shed new hope and new light on even the darkest of moments. It has the power to transform even the ugliest depression into a priceless diamond. With this straightforward prompt, there comes a sense of renewed interest as we set about investigating “What am I missing here?” It makes the situation less personal so we can stop fighting the problem and instead become a part of the solution.
Deescalating a situation in this way opens it up to the creative forces of life. It’s no longer you against the world: it’s oneness with all of life. Even just one person shifting their energy in this way is all it takes to transmute the energy of the entire scene. It is as if you let go of the rope that you thought was keeping you above water, only to discover life was there supporting you all along.
But this type of truth is one that must be directly experienced in order to grasp the full weight and power that it carries. It is not something that can be understood or held as a concept in the mind. You either practice it and experience it, or it remains beyond comprehension. At face value, it may look and feel illogical and irrational, but through simply trying it a few times and really opening yourself up to the experience of an experience, you just may get a glimpse of what it is you’ve been missing all your life. With enough practice, you may ultimately discover the “you” that’s been inside you all along.
Being “presence” can be described as sensing a deep connectedness and aliveness between yourself and life. When we are presence, we essentially step outside of identification with form (thought forms, emotional forms, or physical forms) and open ourselves up with a sense of awe to everything that is contained within this moment. When we regularly practice presence in our daily lives, we are better able to catch ourselves in moments of past conditioning. This allows us the opportunity to break the chain of reactive patterns of behavior that can be the source of so much suffering.
One way of practicing presence is to simply take in as many of the sensations available to you in this moment without interpreting or labeling them. As your senses perceive your surroundings, just allow them to “be” without any judgment or resistance. For instance, when you go outside: instead of thinking “Ah, the sun feels warm”, just become the warmth, or instead of “Wow, that breeze feels fantastic”, become transparent to it instead of allowing it to become a thought about how it feels on your skin.
Visually, we are often drawn to notice those things that are most obvious (bright, big, odd, whatever). When we find ourselves drawn to that obvious object, use that as a cue to practice being presence by shifting your attention to everything around that most obvious object. Sense how everything else in that space is allowing that more obvious object to be noticed, including the empty space between you and it. Or instead of looking at the flowering trees in Spring, notice instead the beauty of the still-bare trees nearby that allow the other trees to stand out.
Another way of practicing presence is to consider all the steps and people and processes that were necessary in the creation of this present moment. It is one way of being presence from the aspect of being “all of eternity” in this single moment, and bringing in as much of the entire process as you can that led up to that moment into that moment.
A personal example: As I ate a piece of homemade banana bread one day, I brought into my awareness as many of the elements as I could that went into making that one moment possible. I considered what it took to grow the bananas, including the people who were the first to discover and eat bananas. I brought into focus all that was involved in discovering, growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, delivering, and purchasing all the rest of the ingredients too, as well as everything within my own personal process of making it. I considered the very first person to put all these ingredients together, and my mother who made it for me, and my children who I am able to make it for. By tracing a moment back to the beginning of time, it lends a sensation of extreme and humbling significance to that moment, even if all you’re doing is simply eating a piece of banana bread.
Everything is important in this moment, and if we’re only paying attention to the flashy stuff, we are caught up in the content, and the more subtle clues to discovering our path can often get overlooked. By bringing in moments of presence in our daily lives, we create gaps in the otherwise incessant stream of thoughts that can consume us. From that platform, we are more open to seeing a situation for what it is rather than coloring it with hurts from the past or fears about the future. We sense our own aliveness and connectedness to life, and we are better able to act, instead of react, to the challenges that will inevitably arise in our day. In this way, we find peace and fulfillment in the only place it can ever be found: this present moment.
We’ve all had our ideas since childhood of what a successful life would look like. We often find comfort in the fact that we’ve achieved “some measure of success”. But what is that standard measurement by which we gauge our lives on, and who calibrated it anyway?
It would appear to me from the sheer volume of commercials on tv about anxiety and anti-depression medications that to some extent it just might be the measuring stick that’s broken and not us. We drive ourselves crazy trying to make all the things we have chosen in our lives work in the way we think they should, but it’s a slippery proposition because others are trying to do the same with us.
There’s a line by the classic rock group Jethro Tull: “You were bred for humanity, and sold to society”. It speaks to how our choices in life have been based on everyone else’s ideals until one day we realize we are completely disconnected from our authentic self. It would seem to me that this disconnection is a primary driver of the genuine chemical imbalances that lead to so much suffering.
We’ve all had bad experiences, and if you’re reading this then maybe you can draw strength from the fact that in spite of them you have gone on to live another day. How many times have you said or thought: “If only I could go back, I’d have done it differently.” The thing that so many of us don’t realize is that we don’t have to “go back” and we don’t have to live with regret. The past continually presents itself to us in the current moment giving us endless opportunities to do it differently, and endless opportunities to heal.
Rather than letting those bad experiences bring you down, look instead for how they might be presenting themselves to you again in this very moment. For every experience that has brought you down is a lesson waiting to be realized and lift you back up.
In other words, life is nothing but a series of lessons that keep manifesting over and over in different ways until we learn them and move on to the next set of lessons. By recognizing those lessons as they show up in our lives Now, “knowing what we know now” we are free to find that “best way” for us to handle a situation. In doing so, we heal those past wounds and graduate to new experiences from a new, more skillful platform.
So what if we change the definition of success? What if it’s no longer the superficial, third-party judgment of “works and plays well with others” or “is a productive member of society” and instead becomes “is deeply in touch with their authentic self”? Then how would we measure success?
It would seem that instead of molding our selves to meet the needs of society, we would have a society that would organically rise to meet the needs of us. The stress and pressure in our lives that result from “needing to prove my worth and value” would shift to an enthusiastic experience of life resulting from “celebrating my worth and value”. From this place of fulfillment, the need for measuring our success would cease to be relevant.
Success is nothing more than a successful experience. With that new definition, there can be no more “bad” experiences, only opportunities to embrace our authentic selves and address situations from a more empowered perspective.