"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wayne Dyer: Manifesting Your Spiritual Destiny


"Your destiny," writes Dr. Wayne Dyer, "is to become a co-creator with God and to treasure the sanctity of all that comes into this world of form that we call home, but which is only a transitory stopping place."

"Your creative ability," he observes, "originates in the unseen mind. It begins in the unseen world of waves and energy. So, too, do the planets, the stars, the flowers the animals, the rocks, you, your possessions, your creations - all of it, no exceptions. Examine everything and anything," Dyer notes, "and you find that at the core there is no form, only an unseen quality that brings it from the world of the unseen to the world of the observable."

"Look around at the world of form, he urges. "Then look within and realize that it began in the unseen dimension that we are not even close to comprehending."

[Dyer, "Manifest Your Destiny, pp. 10-11]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Best-selling author and acclaimed motivational speaker, Dr. Wayne Dyer is the author of over thirty books, most of which cannot really be classified as "self-help" but rather belong to a genre that could be called "soul-help," a category he has largely helped to define by his own writing and his passionate and tireless advocacy for the writings of others. (See, for example, the works of David R. Hawkins, M.D.)

The attached two-part video interview captures Dyer at his best, and gives the viewer a good sense of this truly remarkable communicator.
"My belief is that the truth is a truth until you organize it, and then becomes a lie. I don't think that Jesus was teaching Christianity, Jesus was teaching kindness, love, concern, and peace. What I tell people is don't be Christian, be Christ-like. Don't be Buddhist, be Buddha-like."
[Source: Wikipedia.]





Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wisdom of the Night Sky

"If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these preachers of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson --

 * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In the Wide Awe and Wisdom of the Night

In the wide awe and wisdom of the night
I saw the round world rolling on its way,
Beyond significance of depth or height,
Beyond the interchange of dark and day.
I marked the march to which is set no pause,
And that stupendous orbit, round whose rim
The great sphere sweeps, obedient unto laws
That utter the eternal thoughts of Him.

I compassed time, outstripped the starry speed,
And in my still soul apprehended space,
Till, weighing laws which these but blindly heed,
At last I came before Him face to face -
And knew the Universe of no such span
As the august infinitude of man.

-- Sir Charles G. D. Roberts --

Night On The Prairies

Night on the prairies,
The supper is over, the fire on the ground burns low,
The wearied emigrants sleep, wrapt in their blankets
I walk by myself - I stand and look at the stars, which I think now I never realized before.

Now I absorb immortality and peace,
I admire death and test propositions.

How plenteous! how spiritual! how resumé!
The same old man and soul - the same old aspirations, and the same content.
I was thinking the day most splendid till I saw what the not-day exhibited,
I was thinking this globe enough till there sprang out so noiseless around me myriads of other globes.

Now while the great thoughts of space and eternity fill me I will measure myself by them,
And now touch'd with the lives of other globes arrived as far along as those of the earth,
Or waiting to arrive, or pass'd on farther than those of the earth,
I henceforth no more ignore them than I ignore my own life,
Or the lives of the earth arrived as far as mine, or wanting to arrive.

O I see now that life cannot exhibit all to me, as the day cannot,
I see that I am to wait for what will be exhibited by death.

-- Walt Whitman --


Sheperds and Stars
(from, "The Land")


Shepherds and stars are quiet with the hills,
There is a bond between the men who go
From youth about the business of the earth,
And the earth they serve, their cradle and their grave;
Stars with the seasons alter; only he
Who wakeful follows the pricked revolving sky,
Turns concordant with the earth while others sleep:
To him the dawn is punctual; to him
The quarters of the year no empty name.
A loutish life, but in the midst of dark
Cut to a gash of beauty, as when the hawk
Bears upwards in its talons the striking snake,
High, and yet higher, till those two hang close,
Sculptural on the blue, together twined,
Exalted, deathly silent and alone.

-- V. Sackville-West --

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Philosophic Life: Ancient and Modern Views

Philosophy, like salt strewn on the floor of the temple, may have lost its savour. In modern times, philosophy (linguistically speaking, 'the love of knowledge') seems to be the purview of long-winded arguments and arcane proofs of the highest order questions, while in more ancient times, and in other cultures, one either lived as a philosopher, or one did not. It was, and in some rare instances still is, a way of life rather than an academic discipline.

One such modern 'philosopher,' in the truest sense of the word, was the late Paul Brunton. Having adopted philosophy as his station in life rather than as a mere vocation, Brunton was a spiritual seeker of profound breadth and depth. On philosophy and the life-long pursuit of spiritual knowledge as a way of life, he wrote the following:
"Everyone wants to live. Few want to know how to live. If people permit work to take up so much of their time that they have none left for their devotional prayer or mystical meditation or metaphysical study, they will be as culpable for this wastage of life as they will be if they permit transient pleasures to do so."

"Those," Brunton observes, "who have no higher ideal than to chase after amusement and to seek after pleasure may look upon religious devotion as senseless, metaphysical studies as boring, mystical meditation as time-wasting, moral disciplines as repulsive. Those who have no such inner life of prayer and meditation, study and reflection will necessarily pay, in emergencies or crises, the high price of their hopeless extroversion."

"The needs of external life are entitled to be satisfied in their place," Brunton notes, "but they are not entitled to dominate a man's whole attention. The neglected and unnoticed needs of internal life must also receive their due."
[Brunton, "Notebooks of Paul Brunton," Vol. 1, pp. 28-29.]
For his part, Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher, a man who came as close to living Plato's ideal of a philosopher-king as any other Western leader, ancient or modern, had the following self-effacing comments on his attempts to live the philosophic life:
"It will tend to avert complacency if you remember that any claim to have lived as a philosopher all your life, or even since reaching manhood, is now out of the question; indeed, it is as evident to many others as it is to yourself that even today philosophy is still far beyond you. Consequently your mind remains in a state of confusion, and it grows no easier to earn the title of philosopher; also, your station in life militates constantly against it."

"Once all this is seen in its true light," he observes, "you should banish all thoughts of how you appear to others, and rest content if you can make the remainder of your life what nature would have it to be. Learn to understand her will, and let nothing else distract you."
[Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations," Book VIII, para. 1.]
Paul Brunton
(1898-1981)
On reconciling the material life with a life of philosophy, Brunton observed: "It is quite true that if a fortunate fate has not relieved him of the necessity, he must work, trade, scheme, or gamble to get the money for (material) things. But all this is insufficient grounds for him to pass through life with no other thoughts in his head than those of bodily needs or strivings. There is still room there for another kind of thought, for those concerning the mysterious elusive and subtle thing that is the divine soul. The years are passing and he cannot afford such a wastage of time, cannot afford the luxury of being so extroverted at the cost of having lost touch with the inner life."

For his part, Aurelius was well aware that the pressing concerns for the 'needs' of everyday living were every bit as much an obstacle in ancient Rome as they remain in our own modern, consumer society. His quest, like Brunton's was how to live a philosophic life in the midst of the pressures and demands of the mundane life.
"Up to now," he reflects in his Meditations, "all your wanderings in search of the good life have been unsuccessful; it was not to be found in the casuistries of logic, nor in wealth, celebrity, worldly pleasures, or anything else."

"Where, then," Aurelius asks, "lies the secret? In doing what man's nature seeks. How so? by adopting strict principles for the regulation of impulse and action. Such as? Principles regarding what is good or bad for us: thus for example, that nothing can be good for a man unless it helps to make him just, self-disciplined, courageous, and independent; and nothing bad unless it has the contrary effect."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Evolutionary Enlightenment: 'The Path Is Quite Simple'

Andrew Cohen
Editor-in-Chief, EnlightenNext magazine
"The path, in the context of evolutionary enlightenment, is, at least in theory, quite simple," writes spiritual teacher, Andrew Cohen in The Huffington Post. "It is a journey from identification with ego to identification with the evolutionary impulse. It is a radical transformation of our relationship to the human experience, from one that is fundamentally negative, narcissistic, compulsive, and rigid to one that is inherently positive, liberated, consciously creative, and perpetually evolving."

"In an evolutionary context," Cohen observes, "the expression of the enlightened or liberated self is perpetual development in time. So if the individual is not developing in a measurable and discernible way, that means that he or she is stagnating in the emotional and psychological prison of unenlightenment that is the individual and collective ego."

It is because of our unquestioned identification with the negative orientation of the ego that most of us find ourselves unable to consistently express the freedom, lightness of being, and ecstatic positivity that is the quality of the evolutionary impulse," he notes, "(a)nd it is because of identification with ego that so few of us are able to spiritually evolve in a truly significant way."

* * * * * * * * * * * * *


In the attached video, an introduction to his teachings on "Evolutionary Enlightenment," Cohen observes:
"In evolutionary enlightenment, the goal is not to get out of the universe, the goal is not to escape from the universe, the goal is to get into the process."

"The problem for most of us," he notes, "is that we are not in the (evolutionary) process. We are lost in this small-minded, self-centered, hell-life experience, in which our experience of what it means to be alive is so partial, and so small and so minimal, it's almost impossible to imagine how small it is until you wake up."

"So the goal here," Cohen points out, "is to get out of this small-minded, self-centered hell, (this) partial almost non-existent dream, so that we can begin to wholeheartedly, unself-consciously (and) passionately participate - or you could say co-participate - in the creation of the conscious universe with, and as, the very force that created it. Then your own deepest aspiration - your own deepest heartfelt aspiration and desire - becomes one with the creative principle, with the first cause itself."

"It is," Cohen notes, "a big thing. It's a big moment. It's a profound awakening. You awaken literally, to the cosmic and universal significance of your own emergence at this particular time, and to your inherent potential to participate in the process for the development of consciousness itself."


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Albrecht Durer: Hands

"HANDS" 

Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this big family, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighbourhood.

Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by labouring in the mines.

They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg.

Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honoured position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfil his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No ...no ...no ...no."

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late."

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver point sketches, water-colours, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.

One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."

The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one - no one - ever makes it alone!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Non-Duality and the Evolutionary Process

"God evolves as we do," observes enlightened spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen, a proponent of an advanced non-duality that he calls 'evolutionary enlightenment," an approach that places humanity's urgent and energetic drive for meaning and purpose in an evolutionary context that is at least 13.8 billion years old - i.e., at least as old as the universe as we know it, and perhaps co-extensive with the timeless aeons of eternity before that singular event.

In the attached three-part video interview, Cohen outlines his understanding of conscious evolution from a more theological perspective than is his usual wont. With host Iain McNay of Conscious.TV, Cohen explores God as the ultimate Ground of our Being, the 'Big Bang' as the creation event, and the expansion of our consciousness beyond the narrow confines of the ego as our evolutionary destiny.








Saturday, July 23, 2011

"The life absolute from which has sprung all that is felt, seen, and perceived, and into which all again merges in time, is a silent, motionless, and eternal life which among Sufis is called Dhat (zat). Evrery motion that springs forth from this silent life is a vibration and a creator of vibrations. Within one vibration are created many vibrations."

"As motion causes motion so the silent life becomes active in a certain part, and creates every moment more and more activity, losing thereby the peace of the original silent life. It is the grade of activity of these vibrations that accounts for the various planes of existence. These planes are imagined to differ from one another, but in reality they cannot be entirely detached and made separate from one another. The activity of vibrations make them grosser, and thus the earth is born of the heavens."

"The mineral, vegetable, animal and human kingdoms are the gradual changes of vibrations, and the vibrations of each plane differ from one another in their weight breadth, length, color, effect, sound, and rhythm."
[Hazrat Inayat Khan, "Parabola," Spring 2008.]
                                              "We began
as a mineral. We emerged into plant life
and into the animal state, and then into being human,
and always we have forgotten our former states,
except in early spring when we slightly recall being green again.

                                             That's how a young person turns
toward a teacher. That's how a baby leans
towards the breast without knowing the secret
of its desire, yet turning instinctively.

Humankind is being led along an evolving course,
through this migration of intelligences,
and though we seem to be sleeping,
there is an inner wakefulness
that directs the dream

and that will eventually startle us back
to the truth of who we are.

[Coleman Barks, "The Essential Rumi," p. 113.]
 "Man is not only formed of vibrations but he lives and moves inthem: they surround him as the fish is surrounded by water, and he contains them within him as the tank contains the water. His different moods, inclinations, affairs, successes, failures, and all the conditions of life depend upon a certain activity of vibrations, whether these be thoughts, emotions, or feelings. It is the direction of the activity of vibrations that accounts for the variety of things and beings.
[Hazrat Inayat Khan, supra.]

Friday, July 22, 2011

Deepak Chopra: You Are the Universe

"When you know your true essence, you get in touch with that part of yourself that is beyond time and space and the source of both. You no longer identify with the changing behavior of the ocean of consciousness in all its different forms; you identify with the unchanging essence of consciousness itself. If you know that your essence is the unity of one spirit, then everything else becomes known to you."

"Are you ready to take a quantum leap of creativity? Beyond the illusion of a material world is a world of power, freedom, and grace. Understand your true essence, and you begin a journey towards enlightenment. By and by on this journey, you shed your habitual and conditioned responses. As you do so, you become a spiritual master and transcend all suffering, including the fear of death. You realize that the real you was never born, and therefore can never die. Only that which has a beginning has an ending. That which never began is eternal and always, and it is you."

-- Deepak Chopra --
("Power, Freedom, and Grace," p. 78.)
Deepak Chopra, M.D.
Author of "Power, Freedom and Grace"
It is difficult to describe Deepak Chopra's teachings, due in large part to the sheer volume and breadth of his work. Trained as a medical doctor, Chopra expresses a profoundly non-dualistic view of the universe and its beings. Perhaps, the best description of his positions on life, the universe, and our place in it, is that of a strictly non-dualistic "neo-Vedantist."

"In the deeper reality," says Chopra in the attached video, "there is no such thing as a person. There is only the universal manifesting as a person. What is a person? Your body is recycled dust. Your breath is recycled air. Your thoughts are recycled information, Your emotions are recycled energy. And what you call your personality is just the mirror of relationship, because in order to define yourself you need to define everyone around you and what they are doing."

"In the real deepest reality," he notes, "what we call a 'person' is a dynamic bundle of consciousness that is constantly transforming. Where is the person when you were fourteen years of age? Where is the person you were when you were five years of age? Actually, in every moment of existence the old person dies and a new one is born. So, the person you were yesterday is not the person you are now, in any way. Your thoughts are not the same, though they may appear to be the same. But your body is not the same, your emotions are transforming. So, if you really look at how the universe functions, the 'observer,' which we call the person, and the 'observed,' which we call the world, are recreated every moment of existence. The reason why you have this illusion of being the same person is 'continuity of memory' which gives you this false belief that you are the same person you were an hour ago, or ten years ago."

"The universe continues to evolve as observers and observed," Chopra points out. "In reality you are the Infinite Being with a localized perspective, and that localized perspective is impermanent and transient. You are the universe."
 "The essential you, your real essence," observes Chopra in his book, "Power, Freedom and Grace," is a field of awareness that interacts with its own self and then becomes both mind and body. In other words," he notes, "you are consciousness or spirit, which then conceives, constructs, governs and then becomes the mind and the body. The real you is inseparable from the patterns of intelligence that permeate every fiber of creation."

"At the deepest level of existence," he points out, "you are Being, and you are nowhere and everywhere at the same time. There is no other "you" than the entire cosmos. The cosmic mind creates the physical universe, and the personal mind experiences the physical universe."
[Chopra, "Power, Freedom, and Grace," p. 19.]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

From the Information Age to a Transformational Age

Ultimately, the greatest effect of the newly-born Information Age may well be the birthing of an Age of Transformation in which cultures, spirituality and human consciousness itself all evolve to face and overcome the existential challenges we face.

As transformational philosopher, Ken Wilber points out in the attached video, never before have all of the fruits of the world's great wisdom traditions - East and West, ancient and modern - been available (or potentially available) to all of the world's people. It is, perhaps, this largely unheralded potentiality for a radically new understanding of each other, the wisdom traditions which are our common heritage, and ourselves, which has triggered the rise of religious fundamentalism that we now seen in all traditions. History shows that inevitable change often provokes a reactionary response before it is widely accepted.

"This is the first time in history," Wilber observes, "that we actually have access to all of the world's cultures, to all of their forms of transformation. We have stuff from all the way back to shamanic techniques, all the way through the great axial wisdom traditions. We have various yogas East and West. We have some of the most profound contemplative traditions of all of humanity. They are all available to us, certainly at least in terms of study. But also increasingly. . . we have transmitted, realized teachers in virtually all of the great contemplative and meditative traditions. This has never, ever, ever happened in history."

"So, on the one hand," he notes, "we can put all of these things on the table and look at them, and say what are their strengths and what are their weaknesses. There are important truths in all of them. What we want to be able to do is sort of look at this, without diluting any of them or getting any of them to change, but simply putting all of them together in a way that they are mutually reinforcing (and) mutually beneficial. And then we can start to discern the key ingredients of transformation by studying what all of them have in common, using some of them to fill in the gaps that are perhaps not present in others. And that is just from the great wisdom traditions."

"A profound understanding of human growth and development has been contributed by the modern West," he points out. "And there are aspects of consciousness that modernity and post-modernity have spotted that you can find in no sutras, no tantras, no Kaballah texts, no Sufist texts, and so on. So, for the first time in history we really have a chance of putting all these things together, and not in a way to put them all down, but in a way to mutually enrich them. And that is what is extraordinary."


Monday, July 18, 2011

Religion, Spirituality and the Mystic Experience

Religion and spirituality, in common parlance, may be seen as separate but related concepts. Religious practices and spiritual practices are a mixed bag. They overlap. Religious experience and spiritual experience, on the other hand, are in essence the same phenomena, the dilation or expansion of ordinary egoic consciousness. They are the experience of a new and rarefied state of consciousness and being that saints, sages and the mystic have reported in all cultures, in all ages and on all continents.
"There is a state of mind, known to religious men, but to no others," wrote William James, "in which the will to assert ourselves and hold our own has been displaced by a willingness to close our mouths and be as nothing in the floods and waterspouts of God. In this state of mind what we most dreaded has become the habitation of our safety, and the hour of our moral death has turned into our spiritual birthday. The time for tension in our soul is over, and that of happy relaxation, of calm deep breathing, of an eternal present, with no discordant future to be anxious about has arrived. Fear is not held in abeyance as it is by mere morality, it is positively expunged and washed away."

"This enchantment," James observes, "coming as a gift when it does come - a gift of our organism, the physiologists will tell us, a gift of God's grace, the theologians say - is either there or not there for us, and there are persons who can no more become possessed by it than they can fall in love with a given woman by mere word of command. Religious feeling is thus an absolute addition to the Subject's range of life. It gives him a new sphere of power. When the outward battle is lost, and the outer world disowns him, it redeems and vivifies an interior world which otherwise would be an empty waste."

[Wm. James, "The Varieties of Religious Experience," pp. 47-48.]

Writing of this universal experience in an introduction to Swami Prabhavananda's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita ("Bhagavad-Gita: The Song of God"), the polymath philosopher, Aldous Huxley, observed that the experience of a higher, unitive consciousness lies at the heart of all the world's great religious and spiritual traditions. Calling it 'the Perennial Philosophy' (a title he would later use for a book examining the religious and spiritual phenomena underlying the world's great faiths), Huxley observed that there are the following four core principals at the heart of all religions and spirituality:
"First: the phenomenal world of matter and individualized consciousness - the world of things and animals and men and even gods - is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their beginning, and apart from which they would be non-existent.

Second: human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.

Third: man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal Self, which is the inner man, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, if he so desires, to identify himself with the spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit.

Fourth: man's life on earth has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal Self and so come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground."
* * * * * * * * * * * * *

In the attached four-part discussion, representatives of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths - a Benedictine monk, a Naqshbandi Sufi teacher, and a Jewish rabbi -  explore the mystical traditions that are their common heritage, and the similarities that the mystical experiences of these faiths have with the same experiences reported in other traditions.







Sunday, July 17, 2011

Evolutionary Transformation: A Sufi Perspective

"We have forgotten that the world belongs to God. That is the most basic fundamental reality that exists - that the world belongs to God. Not only have we forgotten that the world belongs to God, we have forgotten that we have forgotten."
-- Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee --
In the attached video, Sufi teacher and author, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee ("Love Is a Fire: The Sufi's Mystical Journey Home") deftly answers a slew of the most fundamental questions that we all have, such as: What happens to a person when they die? Why is there suffering and poverty? Where can God be found? etc. His answers to these existential questions reveal an enlightening depth both to the Sufi tradition and teachings, as well as to the basic nature of humanity itself.

Asked to describe the circumstances under which the world as we know it will come to an end, Vaughan-Lee makes the prescient observation that "the world as we know it has already come to an end."
"As a mystic," he observes, "you see how things change first in the 'inner.' There is a law that everything that happens in life first constellates on the inner planes. If you do mystical practices, you will begin to see how things come into being.  And the world as we know it inwardly has already ended. It is already over. . . . Somebody once said, "It is like the last dance on the Titanic."" 
"There is," he notes, "a whole other level of evolution which I call evolution of 'Oneness' or 'global awareness.' . . . It is already setting the scenes for the next level of human evolution. . . .The Internet," he points out, "is a direct example of how 'Oneness' works, and how it is incredibly efficient and it is everywhere at the same time, and anybody (or anybody who has a computer) can have access to it. And it was just given to humanity, and it works. So the world as we know it has somewhere already ended."

"But it is our work," Vaughan-Lee cautions, "to bring this next evolution into being, because it needs human beings who can see beyond the debris of the civilization that is around us."

"If you look around with open eyes," he points out, "you see the debris of a dying or dead civilization. Why? Because there is no meaning. What is it that gives life to any culture? It is meaning. And without meaning - and 'meaning' does not mean to have a bigger car or bigger house, because human beings are made in the image of God, we are divine, we are spinning organisms of light and love - and it is the spiritual, always if you look back throughout all the cultures, it is the spiritual that always gives meaning to people. 

 "It is our work," Vaughan-Lee stresses, "to bring this next level of evolution into form."
Vaughan-Lee points out that the major transformational shift which we are going through is not the end of a thousand year cycle, but rather the end of a one hundred thousand year cycle - a cycle as old as the evolution of humanity as a species.  It is, he notes, a major evolutionary transformation that will play itself out not over thousands of years, but over the next twenty to thirty years - i.e, a transformation that will occur during our lifetimes, or the lifetimes of our children.

This, of course, begs the question: Are we aware that this transformation is already occurring around us? Do we know that the world as we have known it has already ended?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dying to One's Self

"In the outer world we are so caught in duality, in separation from God, that we don't even know how we hunger for oneness," writes Sufi teacher, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. "We have forgotten that we belong to God and that He is our own essential nature, the core of our being."

"But there are those in whom this memory is awakened," he points out, "and, like the moth attracted by the candle, they are drawn into the fire of love, the fire that will burn away their own separate self, until all that remains is love."

"Judge the moth by the quality of its candle," Rumi advises.

"The Sufis," Vaughan-Lee tells us, "have been known as the people of the secret because they carry this secret of love, the oneness of lover and Beloved."

"Jesus was lost in his love for God," Rumi points out, "while his donkey was drunk with barley."

"Inwardly," Vaughan-Lee warns, "the cost of realizing oneness is always oneself."

"In the fire of love we are burnt, and through this burning the ego learns to surrender, to die to its own nature of supremacy. . . . In this ultimate love affair we die to ourself, and this death is a painful process, because the ego, the "I," does not easily give up its notion of supremacy."
[Llewelllyn Vaughan Lee, "Love Is a Fire: The Sufi's Mystical Journey Home," pp. 8-9.]

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Conscious Evolution of Consciousness Itself

"When faced with a radical crisis, when the old way of interacting with each other and with the realm of nature doesn't work anymore, when survival is threatened by seemingly insurmountable problems, an individual lifeform - or a species - will either die or become extinct or rise above the limitations of its condition through an evolutionary leap."

At its most basic level, evolution is "the survival of the fittest," a process that has typically taken multitudes of generations to effect the physical changes that distinguish a species. Mankind has always, of course, been a part of this gradual and continual evolutionary process and has arisen from it. Now, however, with the rise and predominance of human culture and technologies, the glacial speed of evolutionary change seems to have turned into a real-time process. Humanity's evolutionary trajectory, as many writers have pointed out, is no longer physiological, but rather technological and psychological.

It is this speeding up of mankind's evolutionary process, and its change from the physical to the psychical (and thereby the technical), which presents us with the stark choices, individually and collectively, which Tolle outlines above: die and become extinct, or rise above the limitations of our narrow self-consciousness through "an evolutionary leap." As Einstein famously observed: "The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them."

Thus, humanity, if it is to survive long-term, needs to change at the level of the psyche. It needs to move beyond the narrow, egoic self-consciousness that typifies the ways in which we now interact with each other and the world to a dilated, expansive consciousness that heretofore has been the sole preserve of the mystic, contemplative and self-realized sage. In short, we need a second Enlightenment, but this time an Enlightenment of consciousness rather than the merely intellectual Enlightenment that heralded in our current scientific age. Such an evolutionary leap will affect all of us, so we should (or, perhaps, must) all consciously participate in the pursuit of this next phase in our evolutionary imperative as a species.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Andrew Cohen
Editor-in-chief, EnlightenNext
"The full realization of Enlightenment," spiritual teacher, Andrew Cohen, observes, "is the evolutionary leap to which all spiritual experiences ultimately lead. In deep spiritual experiences a human being realizes that which is impersonal. In that realization a profound trust is found. In the discovery of that trust it is possible for a human being to liberate him or herself from tendencies toward aggression and permanently destroy the illusion of separation that those tendencies arise from."

"The result of this discovery," he notes, "is a level of integrity that is deep and profound and which manifests consistently at all levels of human expression. If the evolutionary leap is to take place then the final outcome of true spiritual experience must result in this kind of purity."

"Spiritual experiences and their results," he points out, "are not meant for the individual. They are for the evolution of the whole race."

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Being aware of evolution means many, many things," Cohen observes in the video, below. "But ultimately from an evolutionarily enlightened perspective it really boils down to not only awakening to the fact that we are part of a process that is going somewhere, but ultimately to what degree we are contributing to the movement itself. And, so for the evolutionarily enlightened individual that perspective really points us back to ourselves, and it says: "To what degree are we enabling and encouraging this process of evolution to occur within this evolving cosmos as the result of our own heroic efforts?"

"Ultimately," Cohen points out, "at the next stage of human cultural development, the ultimate source of meaning and purpose for the individual is going to be found through how much we are actually contributing to the process of evolution that  made it possible for us to be here."


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tolle: The Universal Essence Beyond Form

"When you live in a world deadened by mental distractions you don't sense the aliveness of the universe anymore. Most people don't inhabit a living reality, but a conceptualized one."


"God, or your essential nature," says Tolle, "is not some 'thing' . . . not content, not form. The best description through words is to say "not" . . .  what 'It' is 'not.' (T)hen you are left with what it is, which cannot be named but can be known, but cannot be known 'conceptually' because every concept is again a name and a form."

"It can," he points out "be known simply, easily in the silent space of stillness which is in everyone. Underneath the mental noise, no matter how heavy and turbulent the mental-emotional noise may be, no matter how heavy the egoic sense of self is, in everyone - as their essential nature - is the stillness of pure consciousness; your essential nature, the 'essence' - your 'essence' - not separate from the 'essence' of the universe."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tolle and Jung: Collective Insanity, Ego and the Human Psyche

In his insightful and liberating best-seller, "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose," author, Eckhart Tolle, the recipient of a sudden, profound and lasting enlightenment experience, examines the nature of the human ego and, in the following passages, warns us of the dangerous realities it poses, individually and collectively, to our very survival.
"The achievements of humanity are impressive and undeniable. We have created sublime works of music, literature, painting, architecture and sculpture. More recently, science and technology have brought about radical changes in the way we live and have enabled us to do and create things that would have been considered miraculous even two hundred years ago. No doubt: the human mind is highly intelligent. Yet its very intelligence is tainted by madness. Science and technology have magnified the destructive impact that the dysfunction of the human mind has upon the planet, other lifeforms, and upon humans themselves. That is why the history of the twentieth century is where that dysfunction, that collective insanity, can be most clearly recognized. A further factor is that this dysfunction is actually intensifying and accelerating."

"The First World War broke out in 1914. Destructive and cruel wars, motivated by fear, greed, and the desire for power, had been common occurrences throughout human history, as had slavery, torture and widespread violence inflicted for religious and ideological reasons. Humans suffered more at the hands of each other than through natural disasters. By the year 1914, however, the highly intelligent human mind had invented not only the internal combustion engine, but also bombs, machine guns, submarines, flame throwers, and poison gas. Intelligence in the service of madness! In static trench warfare in France and Belgium, millions of men perished to gain a few miles of mud. When the war was over in 1918, the survivors looked with horror and incomprehension upon the devastation left behind: ten million human beings killed and many more maimed and disfigured. Never before had human madness been so destructive in its effect, so clearly visible. Little did they know that this was only the beginning."

"By the end of the century, the number of people who died a violent death at the hand of their fellow humans would rise to more than one hundred million. They died not only through wars between nations, but also through mass exterminations and genocide, such as the murder of twenty million "class enemies, spies, and traitors" in the Soviet Union under Stalin or the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. They also died in countless smaller inner conflicts, such as the Spanish civil war or during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia when a quarter of the country's population was murdered."

"We only need to watch the daily news on television to realize that the madness has not abated, that it is continuing into the twenty-first century. Another aspect of the collective dysfunction of the human mind is the unprecedented violence that humans are inflicting on other lifeforms and the planet itself - the destruction of oxygen producing forests and other plant and animal life; ill-treatment of animals in factory farms; and poisoning of rivers, oceans, and air. Driven by greed, ignorant of their connectedness to the whole, humans persist in behavior that if continued unchecked, can only result in their own destruction."

"The collective manifestations of the insanity that lies at the heart of the human condition constitute the greater part of human history. It is to a large extent a history of madness. If the history of humanity were the clinical case history of a single human being, the diagnosis would have to be: chronic paranoid delusions, a pathological propensity to commit murder and acts of extreme violence and cruelty against his perceived "enemies" (his own unconsciousness projected outward), criminally insane, with a few brief lucid intervals."
"Fear, greed and the desire for power are the psychological motivating forces not only behind warfare and violence between nations, tribes, religions, and ideologies," Tolle notes, "but also the cause of incessant conflict in personal relationships. They bring about a distortion in your perception of other people and yourself. Through them, you misinterpret every situation, leading to misguided action designed to rid you of fear and satisfy your need for more, a bottomless hole that can never be filled."

This is not new information, our collective insanity has been brought to our attention over and over again for millennia by sages and enlightened teachers. It is just the acceleration of destructive intensity and deadly methodologies that increasingly threaten us today. Jiddu Krishnamurti, one of the great enlightened teachers of the twentieth century who influenced Tolle's work, clearly pointed out that what we collectively face is "a crisis in consciousness." Meanwhile, the great Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, clearly warned us that the only danger we are facing is that which comes from ourselves and our unexamined human psyche.

"We are the origin of all coming evil," Jung presciently observed, in the following interview conducted shortly before his death, fifty years ago, in 1961.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Living Sustainably with the Earth, Compassionately with Each Other & Creatively with the Universe Itself

Social scientist and author, Duane Elgin, is an activist who advocates for our establishing a "more sustainable and spiritual culture." Winner of Japan's Goi International Peace Award for his global vision of sustainability, Elgin envisions a renewed culture in which humanity will build upon the fundamental unity that we have with the Earth, each other, and with the universe itself.

"As a species for the last 35,000 years we have been pulling back from nature," he observes, "we've been differentiating ourselves, we have been cultivating our ability to stand apart from nature (and) to know our own power and uniqueness. And we've been doing that as hunter-gatherers, as farmers and then as industrialists for 35,000 years. But now," he points out, "our power is so great that we are on the verge of undermining the ecological foundations (of civilization) for the foreseeable future. "

"So we have to turn then from separation to communion, to connection, to union, to Oneness with the Earth and with the universe. . . .There is," Elgin posits, "only one time in the life of a planet that a species comes to full wakefulness and dominates the life of the entire planet, and begins then to create climate change, species extinction and all the rest, that will forever change the evolutionary direction of the planet. And that," he points out, "is what is happening in our lifetimes, right now."

"We are beginning to see that the world is an integrated living system," says Elgin (in the video below), "not just the human system, but the Earth system of water, air, and earth. So we have to learn how to live sustainably within the Earth system, and we need to learn to live compassionately within the human system, and then . . . we have to learn to live at home within the cosmic system, the universal system - because that's where we come from, and when we die, that's where we go."

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Elgin's viewpoint of seeing and developing our universal sustainability, while utterly necessary, is not in and of itself unique, either to this culture or to this time. The seeming separation from the beauty of all that is has been apparent to mystics and sages for thousands of years.

Says Jalalludin Rumi, the great 13th-century Sufi poet, jurist and teacher:
The universe is a form of divine law,
your reasonable father.

When you feel ungrateful to him,
the shapes of the world seem mean and ugly.

Make peace with that father, the elegant patterning,
and every experience will fill with immediacy.

Because I love this, I am never bored.
Beauty constantly wells up, a noise of springwater
in my ear and in my inner being.

Tree limbs rise and fall like the ecstatic arms
of those who have submitted to the mystical life.

Leaf sounds talk together
like poets making fresh metaphors.
The green felt cover slips,
and we get a flash of the mirror underneath.

Think how it will be when the whole thing
is pulled away! I tell only one one-thousandth
of what I see, because there is doubt everywhere.

The conventional opinion of this poetry is,
it shows great optimism for the future.

But Father Reason says,
No need to announce the future!
This now is it. This. Your deepest need and desire
is satisfied by this moment's energy
here in your hand.
"It may be," says Rumi's masterful translator, Coleman Barks, "that the clarity Rumi calls "reason" is a brilliant lawfulness that ecologists and astronomers examine as the coherence in any system, and that the mystic and the scientist both attend the same layered intelligence: the grand and precise artistry of existence."
[Coleman Barks, "The Essential Rumi," pp. 145-146.]
. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What Is God? Eastern and Western Perspectives

"And being asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God cometh, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you"
-- Luke 17:20-21 --
In an interview with Michael Toms, the late Joseph Campbell, professor emeritus of mythology and comparative religions, had the following to say about the influx of Eastern religious traditions into Western culture, a synergy that continues to lift the discourse on humankind's need for the mysterious and sacred to unprecedented levels:
"You must remember," Campbell points out, "that when we have teachers from the East, we're getting the best. There are also crude traditions in the East; and we have the crude folk-traditions in the West; and our best teachers are not that ones that are most listened to."

"Now, the best teaching from the East is the one given by the Dalai Lama," says Campbell, "We also had it from Sri Ramakrishna, the great Indian Hindu teacher of the (nineteenth) century, namely that there is a common consciousness which is our own ground and so in consciousness we are one; insofar as you identify yourself with the consciousness that moves and lives in your body, you've identified with that which you share with me. And on the other hand, if you fix yourself, and your tradition, and believe you've got it, then you've removed yourself from the rest of humankind."

"What the Eastern teachers are telling us," Campbell notes, "is that the important thing is not what happened thousands of years ago when the Buddha was born or Jesus was crucified: what's important is what is happening in you now. And what's important is not your membership in a religious community: it's what that membership is doing to your psyche."

"The divine lives within you," he notes. "Our Western religions tend to put the divine outside of the earthly world and in God, in heaven. But the whole sense of the Oriental is that the kingdom of God is within you. Who's in heaven? God is? Where's God? God's within you. And what is God? God is a personification of that world-creative energy which is beyond thinking and beyond naming."

"We think," says Campbell, "not only that our God has been named and known, but that he's given us a whole system of rules. But this system of rules is not from God, it's from man, and the rules are man's clues as to how to get to the realization of God."

"(W)e're all from a mysterious trans-rational ground," Campbell concludes, "subatomic particles tell us that. We don't know what they are, and that's what we are. And of course our mind is in this world of time-space relationship; and the mind must open to the impulse and statements of this primary precedent of the general consciousness."

"A numerous and elaborate society must have a consciously defined and clearly analysed technique, based on an evident empirical psychology" observed philosopher Gerald Heard, one of Campbell's notable contemporaries. "The psychology of any epoch must be at the same stage of advance as its economics and physics, if a serious regression is to be avoided. Our perennial challenge has been that our working psychology is always a whole epoch behind our physico-economic state."

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Universal Religion?

Swami Vivikenanda, the principle follower of the Self-realized sage, Sri Ramakrishna (see "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna") was one of the first teachers to bring the knowledge of Hinduism and the Advaita Vedanta to the West. Making his unheralded debut at the Parliament of the World's Religions at Chicago in 1893, his message (like Ramakrishna's) was the underlying non-dualistic unity of all religions.

"Unity in variety is the plan of the universe," Vivekananda observed. "As a man you are separate from an animal, but as living beings man, woman, animal, and plant are all one; and as existence you are the whole universe. That universal existence is God, the ultimate Unity in the universe. In him we are all one. At the same time, in manifestation these differences must always remain."

"What then," he asks, "do I mean by the ideal of a universal religion? I do not mean any one universal philosophy, or any one universal mythology, or any one universal ritual, held alike by all; for I know that this world must go on working, wheel within wheel, this intricate mass of machinery, most complex, most wonderful. What can we do then? We can make it run smoothly, we can lessen the friction, we can grease the wheels as it were. How? By recognizing the natural necessity of variation. Just as we have recognized unity by our very nature, so we must also recognize variation. We must learn that truth may be expressed in a hundred thousand ways, and that each of these ways is true so far as it goes. We must learn that the same thing can be viewed from a hundred different standpoints and yet be the same thing."
[Vidyatamananda and Isherwood, "What Religion Is," pp. 30-31.]

The non-dualistic universality of Swami Vivikenanda's message is an eternal theme of the great visionaries and mystics of all traditions. In the attached video, this theme is reiterated in the words of the great thirteenth-century Sufi poet, Jalalludin Rumi.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Gospel of Fearlessness

Unlike many Christian ministers who preach the gospel of a salvation aimed at an idyllic rather than a horrific and tortuous afterlife, the Rev. Theodore (Ted) Nottingham, of Indianapolis' Northwood Church, preaches the power of a fierce present-moment spirituality that addresses at a deep psychological level the existential problems that all individuals face in this life. In the attached video, Nottingham addresses the principal psychological problem that we all suffer from, namely the self-centered fear that establishes and maintains the human ego.

"Every one of us has fears," Nottingham observes. "Fears of what people think of us, fears of what is going to happen tomorrow, fears of illness and unemployment. . . . What is this fear that is behind all of our distress, he asks, "this fear that keeps us from living in freedom and joy?"

"When you begin to realize that to live in those fears and anxieties that have tortured us for a lifetime is to live turned towards one's 'self.' You might," he observes, "call fear an exaggerated self-interest."

"There is power available in any situation," Nottingham notes. "We just have to get our head out of that which keeps us in the basement of our 'selves,' in our negativity, in our imaginations. Imagination," he notes, is just thoughts . . .  thoughts of what could happen if . . . of what that person is thinking right now about you."

"How many of you," he asks, "have had a whole scenario go through your head about what is going to happen at this meeting, and it was totally different and everything was fine? In the meantime, you have lost so much time, so much energy, so much forgetfulness of God. Learn the discipline of directing your thoughts," he urges, "of choosing not to go with the emotion of fear. Remember what you know, and not just what you feel."

"Remember," he says, "that negative thinking always lies, because it only gives you a little piece of the picture, not the whole picture, (but) just a little edge of it. Some of us," he notes, "get addicted to that . . . (and) enjoy our negative emotions."

"We are not our fear," says Nottingham, "and we have to learn from the Master who walks the way for us. Be willing sometimes to do it (while) afraid," he advises. "You are not your fears!"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Samsara: The Wheel of Suffering

Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, old age and sickness is suffering, and death is suffering. Even pleasure is suffering, said the Buddha, as we know that like all phenomena, "this too shall pass." Buddhists and Vedantists alike say that to the unawakened mind this - all of our "reality" - is samsara, and because of this we suffer.

"Samsara, literally meaning "continuous flow," is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other Indian religions. In modern parlance, samsara refers to a place, set of objects and possessions, but originally, the word referred to a process of continuous pursuit or flow of life. In accordance with the literal meaning, the word should either refer to a continuous stream of consciousness, or the continuous but random drift of passions, desires, emotions, and experiences."
[Source: Wikipedia]
"You jump in the ocean of samsara and you can't swim," says spiritual teacher, Mooji, in the attached three-part video compilation on suffering and compassion.







Monday, July 4, 2011

Gaia and the Evolution of Consciousness

"The psychology of any epoch must be at the same stage of advance as its economics and physics. Our perennial challenge has been that our working psychology is always a whole epoch behind our physico-economic state."

-- Gerald Heard --
("Pain, Sex and Time")
In the attached five-part video lecture, pioneering and iconic climate scientist James Lovelock - who first proposed the theory that the Earth is itself a self-regulating bio-organism (and dubbed it "Gaia Theory") - delivers a sobering lecture on the impact of global warming, a lecture that amply demonstrates that the physico-economic model that is sustaining our civilization is, in fact, unsustainable.

In his book, "The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning," Lovelock observes:
"Our contemporary industrial civilization is hopelessly unfitted to survive on an overpopulated and under-resourced planet, deluded by the thought that clever inventions and progress will provide the shoehorn that fits us into our imaginary niche. I think it is better if we accept and understand how poor is the chance of our personal survival, but take hope from the fact that our species is unusually tough, has survived seven major climate catastrophes in the last million years, and is unlikely to go extinct in the coming climate catastrophe. Geneticists, interested in the evolution of humans, have observed that at one time in the last million years we passed through a genetic bottleneck in which our ancestors might have been as few as 2,000. Gaia, fortunately, is much tougher and as a living planet has survived for over a quarter of the age of the cosmos."
Lovelock has, in past lectures, noted that it is now far too late to halt or reverse global warming - a possibility if we had recognized and understood the damage we were doing to the environment 150 years ago - and that our collective task is now to forge a consensus to ameliorate the damage we have done while adapting to the much hotter and drier world to come.

"Perhaps the saddest thing," says Lovelock in concluding his lecture (below), "is that if we fail altogether and humans go extinct, Gaia will lose as much or more than we do. For not only will wildlife and whole ecosystems vanish along with us, but in human civilization the planet has a precious resource. We are not just a disease on the planet, we have through our intelligence and communication become the planetary equivalent of a nervous system."

"It has taken Gaia at least three-and-a-half billion years to evolve an intelligent, partly social animal species. . . . We have to be patient while we slowly evolve to become an integral part of what could be an intelligent planet."

What Gerald Heard (above) and many other contemporary spiritual teachers and philosophers have pointed out, however, is that if our continuing evolution is to be sustained there will not be a next physiological evolutionary leap, but rather there will have to be a psychical evolution in our individual and collective consciousness. If we are to evolve as the nervous system of Gaia that Lovelock contends we are, then we ourselves will need to deliberately and consciously evolve to a new state of consciousness and being.













Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Pursuit of Happiness Re-Examined

"The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Some of those situations may no doubt deserve to be preferred to others, but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to violate the rules either of prudence or of justice, or to corrupt the future tranquility of our minds either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly or by remorse from the horror of our own injustice."

-- Adam Smith --
("The Theory of Moral Sentiments")

Would you really be happy if you won the lottery? What if, instead, you had an horrific accident and were rendered parapalegic? Faced with these two "permanent situations" is it possible that we could really over-rate the difference between these two seemingly diametrically opposed outcomes?

It turns out that we do, according to research by psychiatrist, Dan Gilbert. Surprisingly, one year after an inarguably life-changing event, both lottery winners and parapalegics report the exact same level of happiness with their lives. By virtue of our anatomy alone, Gilbert explains in the attached video, humans have an unbelievable capacity to synthesize happiness. The trouble is, few of us (a) know it, or (b) know how to tap into it.

This is perhaps not so surprising, given that in our consumer society we are taught (incorrectly) that attaining happiness lies in the acquisition of exterior things, and that permanent happiness can be found through such acquisition. Gilbert looks at the the thought processes that goes into acquiring goods and the phenomenon of buyer's remorse in order to demonstrate the innate potential we all have for being either happy - or profoundly unhappy.

"Some things are better than others," Gilbert observes. "We should have perferences that lead us into one future over another."

"But," he cautions, "when those preferences drive us too hard or too fast because we have overrated the difference between these futures, we are at risk."
"When our ambition is bounded," he notes, "it leads us to work joyfully. When our ambition is unbounded, it leads us to lie, to cheat, to steal, to hurt others, to sacrifice things of real value. When our fears are bounded, we are prudent, we are caution, we are thoughtful. When our fears are unbounded and overblown, we are reckless and we are cowardly."
"Our longings and our worries are both to some degree overblown," Gilbert concludes, "because we have within us the capacity to manufacture the very commodity (i.e., happiness) we are constantly chasing when we choose experience."

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