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Posts Tagged ‘Meditation’

The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man

October 27, 2013 2 comments

My first exposure to Jungian psychology was during my undergraduate studies, when I happened upon a copy of Dr. Carl Jung’s 1933 book, Modern Man in Search of a Soul. While up until that point I had never even heard of Dr. Jung, the title resonated with me because I myself was a modern man in search of a deeper understanding of myself, and the world around me; therefore, I was compelled to read the book. What I discovered in those pages set me firmly upon my spiritual path, so I owe a great deal to the wisdom contained in those pages.

The Swiss psychologist Dr. Carl Jung (1875-1961), founded the field of analytical psychology, which seeks to aid individuals on the path of individuation. Rather than rejecting religion as his contemporary Dr. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) had done, Dr. Jung explored and integrated religion, alchemy, and esoteric elements into his theories. By exploring various religious and esoteric studies, Dr. Jung, integrated a great deal of ancient wisdom into his theories. Dr. Jung’s theories regarding the unconscious and conscious subparts of the psyche can be extremely beneficial in understanding the methods, rationales, and goals of the world religions, as well as esoteric and initiatic systems, including Freemasonry.

One of the final chapters of, Modern Man, is aptly titled, “The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man”, and it really sums up the issues that most of us encounter in our spiritual lives, as well as the solutions to lead a more balanced and spiritually integrated life. In this chapter Dr. Jung discusses the fact that modern people often suffer from various forms of anxiety and neurosis, because we have severed our conscious self from our unconscious subparts. Most modern people no longer reflect or partake in personal introspection, instead we are only concerned with instant gratification and that which can be validated by our physical senses. However, this causes a myriad of problems, because no matter how hard we try to divorce our conscious self from our unconscious, our unconscious will always seek to guide and gain control. Since modern people don’t partake in introspection, and thereby gain an understanding of our unconscious subparts, we are in essence trying to sail a ship without an adequate knowledge of the engine or navigation mechanics.

Read more…

From the Archives- The Application of Shakespeare’s “To Be or Not to Be”

October 7, 2013 2 comments

In Shakespeare’s famous soliloquy from the play “Hamlet”, the main character, Hamlet, is racked with despair, and is questioning whether or not the unknown world beyond death will be easier to bear than the current life. Hamlet is in such despair that he is contemplating whether or not he should continue to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, or if he should “take arms against a sea of troubles”, by possibly committing suicide. However, Hamlet is unsure of whether or not he should act on his wish to end the pain he is suffering, because he is unsure what will await him in the afterlife in that “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns”.

While every sentient being suffers in one form or another, it appears to be a uniquely human characteristic to wish, or at least look forward to death. Many people turn to the concept of the afterlife presented in their religion to such an extent that they cease to truly live in this current stage of life. For example, some Christians look so forward to the day when Jesus Christ will appear in his prophesized second coming, that they are constantly trying to interpret every disaster as some sign of the upcoming Rapture and Armageddon. Other people are so disheartened with the world around them that they buy into the newest doomsday prophesy that the world is soon to be destroyed. Read more…

The Little Rituals of Life that Bond and Nourish

September 23, 2013 4 comments

Baby John's 1st Football Saturday!

Baby John’s 1st Football Saturday!

In the hustle and bustle of life, I have often found that the little rituals of life that I have setup not only help ground me, but also help to nourish various parts of my life, by maintaining important bonds with my friends and family. For example:

1) Every morning, when I get to the office, I always have my first cup of coffee in silence, before I even turn my computer on. This lets me relax, and focus on the tasks at hand, as well ground myself.

2) On days when I can, I always try to set aside 10 to 20 minutes during lunch for meditation or contemplation.

3) Every Tuesday or Thursday, my in-laws host a big family dinner. While this may seem horrible to many people, I am blessed to have great in-laws, and it is always a great time to catch-up and just spend time together.

4) Every Friday I try to have a big lunch with friends. This gives us a chance to catch-up, and stay connected. Some Friday’s we may have four people, and some Friday’s it may be standing room only, but no matter what it is a great time!

5) Every Saturday morning my son and I go to the doughnut shop together. While not the healthiest ritual, it gives us a chance for “guy time” as my four year old calls it. We talk about the previous week of school, and our big plans for the weekend.

6) I am extremely lucky that I married someone who likes college football almost as much as I do. So when football season comes around we will try to get all of our chores done by 11:00 am, so that we can watch the first kick-off, and generally we will stay up until the last game is over.

While these little rituals may seem trivial, they have become very important to my life, and they each serve a unique purpose. I often hear people say that they don’t have time to take care of themselves, to meditate, to spend time with friends, or to spend time with their families. I have found that I have to make time for myself, my friends, and my family. I have a very hectic work schedule, and with an almost two hour round-trip commute, I have to make a habit out of the little rituals that help fulfill and nourish the various areas of my life.

“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.” – Warren Buffett

As always, thanks for reading, and please share what little rituals you have carved out of your time for grounding, bonding, or nourishment.

Also, please check out my book, “The Path: Using the Religions of the World as a Guide to Personal and Spiritual Development.” (Click the Book Cover to view on Amazon.com)

Zen Moments


This is my twenty-sixth (and final!) post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I have tried to post a point of reflection or insight that I used to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I attempted to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lent itself to interesting insights and growth, because I not only had several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but I also had several days to put any lessons and insights that I discovered to work in my every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I tried to write updates as the weekly topics came up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

My son Jason and I enjoying an OKC Thunder game!

My son Jason and I enjoying an OKC Thunder game!

Z= Zen Moments: Zen moments are moments, often unexpected, of mental and/or spiritual clarity and insight. Zen moments are the times in our life where clarity and insight breaks through the mental and spiritual clouds that can build up during every day life. These moments can happen at any time, but some of my most profound insights and experiences have occurred somewhat out of the blue after I have been ruminating on a seemingly endless topic for quite some time, or when I just take a random moment out of my day to relax, meditate, or reflect.

I have also experienced several of these moments out of the blue with my wife or son, where their laughter, a smile, or a simple hug blissfully places me smack-dab in the here and now, where I cannot help but relish in the beautiful simplicity of the moment. During these moments, the mental clutter and buzz of normal life fades away, and living in the now, is truly blissful.

Some may see moments such as these as a distraction, or even a possible anchor for attachment; because after all, bliss-hunting or bliss-seeking can easily lead one to fall into a never-ending trap of attachment, seeking, depression, and even addiction. However, these moments of clarity, insight, and general bliss, really help to keep me going on my spiritual path. Life isn’t about asceticism, where the one who gives up the most wins the most, the Buddha tried that method and failed miserably. Life should be embraced and enjoyed. Life should be blissful, peaceful, and serene. Read more…

Welcoming Change

January 28, 2013 9 comments

This is my twenty-third post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

My son Jase playing in the snow with his Uncle Shelby! (c) Shelby Hurst Photography 2012. http://www.shelbyhurstphotography.com/

My son Jase playing in the snow with his Uncle Shelby! (c) Shelby Hurst Photography 2012. http://www.shelbyhurstphotography.com/

W= Welcoming Change: Well the time has come to welcome in the new year, and with it a new year of opportunities, and a new year of changes. Already this year I have lost my grandfather and had a bout with the flu. However, I have also had positive changes, because I have started making significant progress towards living a healthier life, and in a few short weeks my wife and I should be finding out whether or not we will be having another little boy or a little girl in July!

While the changes thus far haven’t all been pleasant, changes are a part of life. Too often , we get comfortable in the status quo, and when any changes come our way we resist them. We even tend to resist changes that have the ability to affect positive changes. However, life is in a constant state of change and flux. Therefore, we can either learn to live in harmony with the flow of life (Wu Wei in Taoism), or we can continually oppose change in our life. The constant stream of life is like a river in constant motion. One can learn to flow with the stream of life, or one can oppose it, and just as a river will eventually wear down even the mightiest boulder, life will eventually wear down an individual that opposes its natural flow.

The great Tao flows everywhere.

All things are born from it, yet it doesn’t create them.

It pours itself into its work, yet it makes no claim.

It nourishes infinite worlds, yet it doesn’t hold on to them.

Since it is merged with all things and hidden in their hearts, it can be called humble.

Since all things vanish into it and it alone endures, it can be called great.

It isn’t aware of its greatness; thus it is truly great.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 34 (Stephen Mitchell Translation)

 

If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.

If you aren’t afraid of dying there is nothing you can’t achieve.

 

Trying to control the future is like trying to take the master carpenter’s place.

When you handle the master carpenter’s tools, chances are that you’ll cut your hand.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 74 (Stephen Mitchell Translation) Read more…

Reintegrating With Our True-Self

October 1, 2012 5 comments

This is my eighteenth post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

Used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons, and Photopin.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/2852672177/

R= Reintegrating With Our True-Self: In Psychology reintegration involves the unification of the various subparts of the psyche into a balanced and harmonious state. According to most psychological models, the human psyche is composed of various conscious and unconscious subparts, all of which fight for control of our conscious awareness. If these various subparts are not explored and reintegrated into a balanced state, various forms of psychosis may result.

The Swiss psychologist Dr. Carl Jung (1875-1961), who founded the field of analytical psychology, believed that reintegration, which he referred to as “Individuation“, was an absolutely necessary process for every human being. According to Dr. Jung, we are each born with a sense of wholeness, or completeness; however, as we grow out of childhood, our sense of wholeness is lost, due to various repressed memories, life events, societal expectations, etc. Therefore, for Jung, the process of Individuation (reintegration), involved exploring, correcting, and unifying the various subparts of the psyche, so that we can regain our sense of wholeness, which is our true-self.

While the science of psychology is a relatively new field, the various religions and spiritual traditions have long dealt with the process of reintegration. Most of the world religions, especially the Abrahamic religions, have a creation story that involves a peaceful beginning at the dawn of creation; however, each of these stories also involves a story regarding the fall of man. In the Abrahamic religions, there is the story of Adam and Eve, who originally dwelt in the Garden of Eden; however, after eating the forbidden fruit of knowledge, they were cast out of the garden by God. The creation myths closely mirror Dr. Jung’s theory, where we are each born with a sense of wholeness, which is basically a psychological garden of Eden; however, as we grow and develop we are cast out of the proverbial garden, and separation occurs. Read more…

Positive Prayer

September 10, 2012 8 comments

This is my sixteenth post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

Used with permission from Photopin.com and Flickr Creative Commons. http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathanhayag/5441597739/ (C) 2011

P= Positive Prayer: Prayer in one form or another is part of almost every religions tradition. In my own path, and in my numerous discussions with others regarding prayer, I have found that prayer can be a powerful tool in one’s spiritual path, no matter their religious or spiritual tradition.While some may view prayer as simply a time to seek divine intervention, such as rattling off a wishlist of desires, or seek divine intervention during a crisis  (the old saying, “There aren’t any atheists in foxholes”, comes to mind), divine intervention isn’t the sole purpose or use of prayer.

While prayer can certainly be used as a medium to seek divine intervention in our lives, the most powerful and fundamental aspect of prayer is that it allows us to connect with, and spend time with, the divine. Prayer when performed with the right mindset and attention, literally gives us the ability to commune with G*d, as directly as possible, regardless of what name you call him/her/it/they by.

Now then if you believe, as I do, that prayer allows you to literally connect with the divine, the natural questions is what should one do with that time? While asking for divine intervention is certainly a valid use of prayer, prayer can also be used as a time to give thanks to G*d, a time for self-introspection, as well as simply a time to commune with the divine.

Giving thanks in prayer is a powerful tool, because rather than using prayer as a time to rattle off a list of desires, giving thanks in prayer automatically forces you to focus on the many blessings that each of us enjoy in our lives, yet too often fail to recognize. Many of the ritualized prayers such as “The Lord’s Prayer” in Christianity, and “The Du’a” in Islam, first focus on acknowledging and giving thanks to G*d, and then seek the strength and wisdom to act in accordance with God’s will (love). I personally start off each day with a simple prayer of thanks, which allows me to focus on the positive things in my life, rather than my impending to-do list that awaits me once I get to work. Read more…

Mindful Living

August 20, 2012 5 comments

This is my thirteenth post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

Used with permission from Bramstone Photography (c) 2005, via Photopin.com and Flickr Creative Commons. http://www.flickr.com/photos/badboy69/2333409688/

M= Mindful Living: Mindful living (mindfulness) and living in the now really go hand-in-hand, and while many people may view them as being the same, and even use the terms interchangeably (myself included at times) I think there are some important differences. While living in the now, and mindfulness, both involve rooting your thoughts and emotions in the present, mindfulness involves much more focused attention on your physical sensations and emotional states moment-by-moment. For example, if I have a major deadline looming at work, living in the now would involve not allowing that deadline to become a stressor, and instead direct my focus and energy on remaining calm while working diligently on the project in a focused manner (all I can do is what I can do right now, if it can’t be done until tomorrow, then don’t worry about it). Mindfulness takes this a step further by directing your attention to your physical states, sensations, and emotions. Is my breath becoming rapid and shallow, am I starting to feel anxious, do my hands fill cold and clammy, are my head or neck muscles becoming tense?

Mindfulness requires a sort of constantly flowing, moment-by-moment examination of life, it requires you to direct your full attention on this very moment, the right here, right now. This can be difficult, because in today’s fast-paced technological world, we are constantly being bombarded with ringing cellphones, text messages, email alerts, television chatter, etc. This causes us to pay more attention to the external world, than we do on our own thoughts, sensations, and emotions. Mindfulness practice is extremely important, because it forces us to slow down, and keep our emotions and physical responses in check during stressful situations. Mindfulness also, allows us to really drink in and enjoy peaceful, relaxing, and joyous moments. Basically, instead of letting the “monkey mind” bounce our thoughts and emotions around like pinballs in the game of life, mindfulness forces us to slow down and truly “experience” life in all of the wonderful detail available to us. Read more…

Knowledge and Experience of Self

August 6, 2012 9 comments

This is the eleventh post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

This week is a little break from the norm, as this piece is written by my good friend and Masonic brother, Baruti KMT-Sisouvong. Baruti is truly one of the most enlightened, yet humble, people that I have ever met (he has even met Oprah), and his insights have never failed to inspire me, so I jumped at the chance to have him write a guest piece, because I know that his words will surely uplift and inspire others.

Used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons (Via Photo Pin.com). Artist: Sigfrid Lundberg

K = Knowledge and Experience of Self is the Greatest Gift One can give to one’s self, Family, Friends, Community, and the World.

In our very material society, there seems little consideration given to the underlying unity of all diversity. In a world that prizes the “toys” of the physical world the non-physical substrate, or self, is most often ignored. Unfortunately, the very act of ignoring this fundamental aspect of being a human, as articulated by philosophers, mystics, and sages throughout recorded human history, takes us further away from the very knowledge and experience which may prove of great benefit to all concerned.

In many of the texts and traditions of the many life-systems and/or religions the world over, and throughout time, we learn of an underlying or over-arching “something” which seems to be guiding the ship of human existence. Much like the rudder of an enormous sea worthy vessel, this “something” is unseen when we examine the surface of life alone; yet, this guiding force is ever-present. A simple dive below surface reality to the depths thereof reveals the silent and active presence of this “something.” Some traditions refer to this “something” as “The Source of All,” “God,” “The Field,” “The Force,” etc. In the grand scheme of things, the names employed to designate this “something” matters little. What seems to matter most is that this “something” has predominated human awareness and conscious activity from, seemingly, time immemorial.

As we consider this same “something” in relation to ourselves, it may dawn on us that the life each of us leads is based upon: 1) our knowledge, or lack thereof, of our self, 2) the world within which we find our self, and 3) how best to interact within and move through said world. In considering these three elements of lived reality, a few questions may arise. For example: “How have I come to be in this place?”, “In what ways am I creating my lived reality?”, “Am I making a contribution to others?, If so, what is it?”, “What is my experience of Life?” “Am I having a good time, overall?”  “If not, do I have the capacity to change my experience?” “If so, where do I begin?” Seeking to answer such questions, and many, many more like them will surely lead one to the doorstep of a new beginning. I submit to you, that seeking knowledge and experience of Self is a good place to begin your journey of conscious betterment.

Practically speaking, the question then arises “How does one gain knowledge of Self so as to imbue all that one thinks, speaks, and does with said knowledge?” There are many methods. Some are: deep study of the essence of modern and ancient teachings, prayer, the inner or sacred aspect of many martial arts, walking in a place where one is conscious of and absorbs the beauty of the One responsible for that into which humans are born, etc. In short, to reach that “something,” one may engage any activity which leads one to a space of no thought, thus allowing them to know the same and act from this fundamental basis. For my wife and I, we meditate. Specifically, we employ the ancient technique of transcending the relative world so as to experience the underlying unity of all physical phenomena; in some teachings it is, sometimes, referred to as “seeing the face of God.” As for our chosen technique, in this modern age, it is called “Transcendental Meditation” or TM for brevity.

While I cannot say, I have seen an actual “face” of the Divine, what I am able to report is that as I continue to experience the place, or space, of no thought and no sound, which has now become an ever-present presence, life is lived with great effect.  In short, since learning this particular technique from a Certified Teacher of Transcendental Meditation on 25 April 2008, my life has become better in innumerable ways. My thinking is clearer, my speech is more precise, and the ability to see into the essence of a situation is almost instantaneous, and many of my desires are fulfilled before they can be fully visualized or vocalized. Strange? Perhaps. Yet, since my wife has had similar experiences, these things have become commonplace for both of us. Additionally, I am more mindful of my thoughts and their effect on my speech and actions, and life’s serendipitous moments have increased to almost seem constant. In short, as a result of consistently transcending the relative world to experience the deepest aspect of my being, that “something,” I bring to all activity the knowledge and experience of Self.  With the knowledge and experience that there is something more and that this “something” is that underlying unity pervading all diversity, and is nothing but my self, for me, life becomes more spontaneously purposeful; in essence a greatly enhanced lived reality. Despite appearances to the contrary, each human has that spark, that Light, that “something” within; we must simply seek, locate, and employ It. The knowledge and experience of this “something” as existing within me and YOU has been a most profound reward of my/our seeking and is worthy of sharing; it may be said to be a Gift which will return dividends beyond measure. Read more…

Compassionate Character Development


This is my third post in a series, where each Monday I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during every day life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

Used with permission from: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net

C= Compassion: Compassion is best defined as empathetic action, where one takes steps to understand the cause of another’s suffering, and then undertake action to ease the suffering, and hopefully prevent whatever problem or issue caused the suffering from occurring again in the future. Every religion, from Jesus’ Beatitudes and teachings on charity, to Islam’s Zakāt pillar of faith, to Buddhism’s Eightfold Path, teaches that developing a compassionate character is essential for anyone wishing to live a happy and fulfilled life. The reason that every religion promotes compassion, is because it is an essential ingredient for not only your own happiness, but the happiness of others.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” -H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama

Compassion naturally develops internal and external happiness, because compassion allows you to reflect your positive values and wisdom out into the world at large in order to make the world a better place. On an internal level, compassionately helping others naturally makes us feel good and raises our level of awareness. On an external level, compassion should be used to help alleviate the suffering of all sentient beings, which naturally makes those around us and the world at large happier. Also, as those around you become happier through your compassionate acts, they will naturally reflect your acts of kindness back to you, in the same way that ripples in a pond eventually return to their source.

Read more…

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