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‘Anything that annoys you is for teaching you patience.
Anyone who abandons you is for
teaching you how to stand up
on your own two feet.
Anything that angers you is for teaching you forgiveness and compassion.
Anything that has power over you is for teaching you how to take your power back.
Anything you hate is for
teaching you unconditional love.
Anything you fear is for
teaching you courage to
overcome your fear.
Anything you can’t control is for teaching you how to let go and trust the Universe.’

-Jackson Kiddard

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“We can’t find our path without getting messy. Messy comes with the territory. We came in messy. We learn messy. We love messy. We leave messy. I never found my way to clarity without first befriending confusion, in all its chaotic forms. I never found a path that felt like home before falling into quicksand. I never established a new way of being without trying the wrong way of being on for size. I never found the light without stumbling around in the dark. I never tasted God before getting a little dirt in my mouth. In the heart of the chaos is the clay that shapes us home. Chaotic Magnificence!” -Jeff Brown

Forgiveness and the Awakened Soul by Ram Dass

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Image by Teresa Freitas

Question: I’d like to know about forgiveness as a bridge between the separate self and the awakened soul.

Ram Dass: That’s a nice way of phrasing the question. It’s a step on a ladder that goes from dualism into non-dualism. Because as you forgive or allow or acknowledge or say “Of course you’re human” or “We all do that” or something, you open your heart again which embraces the person or the situation back into you, which allows the play. See, every time you close off something with judgment, it’s as if you take a bit of energy and you lock it away and make it unavailable to you. Until pretty soon you are exhausted. You don’t have any energy, because you are so busy.

I often visualize it as having little doors inside your head. You’re holding a grudge — and so every time you think of that person your heart closes down. It’s as if you’ve got a little room with a guard at it that doesn’t allow you to flow freely. And they’re all the no’s of life — the no, no, no, no, no. It’s an emotional “no” against the world — against the Universe — against the way the Universe is. As opposed to “yes”. We’ve been telling you how to say no without closing your heart, but the no I’m talking about is the heart-closing no. It’s the judging, grudge, non-forgiving no. And it costs more than it’s worth. Even though you are right, righteousness ultimately starves you to death.

Righteousness is not liberation. It is known as the golden chain. You’re wonderful and you’re absolutely right, but you’re dead. I mean you’re dead to the living spirit. And finally, you want to be free more than you want to be right. And you have to forgive somebody not because they deserve forgiveness within your other model, in a righteous sense.

Maharajji said to me “Ram Dass, I told you to Love everyone and tell the truth.” And I looked at those people who I had built up all this righteous indignation and hatred towards, sitting across the courtyard at the temple. And I went over there and I was in this ecstatic state from being with Maharajji and also my ego was in incredible pain, and I took apples and I cut them into little pieces and I know that you can’t feed somebody with anger, or it’s like giving them poison. And I went up to each person who I had built up resentment to and justifiable, righteous resentment. I mean I am very creative in justifying my reactions, so I had a good reason to be angry with that person. And I stood there, and he didn’t say work it out, which is what we in the West psychologically like to work out our anger so that everyone saves face. He said “Give it up.” And I looked at the person, and I had to just let it go. And it was so painful! And when I had let it go and I could look at that person with Love again, I stuck the apple in their mouth. And it took me over an hour and a half to do that for these people. Before I could finally really let go enough to do it. Because I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t afford not to forgive. Once you are in the One, nothing builds up so there is no forgiveness. No forgiveness is required, because you don’t forgive a tree and you don’t forgive a river. You know? It’s like lightning strikes your house and you say “I forgive you.” I mean, who are you forgiving?

It’s interesting. You know that story — the Chinese story about the boats and the fog? As the boatman, he hits another boat, and he starts swearing at the other –“You, why didn’t you look where you were going?” And then the fog lifts for a moment and he sees there is nobody in the other boat. And he feels like a fool. Well, it’s roughly the same thing. I mean you hold a grudge against your father, as if he’s in there. He isn’t in there. Psychologically you think he is, because you think you are in you, but once you begin to see he’s just a set of phenomena happening. You are busy saying “I forgive you. I forgive you.” To a clock? You know, it’s really nothing different than that. I don’t mean to demean personality. It’s quite interesting. But it is a lawful set of events. It’s not freedom.

The Importance of Love

image1 (1)“Love is something you and I must have. We must have it because our spirit feeds upon it, we must have it because, without it we become weak and faint. Without love our self-esteem weakens. Without it our courage fails. Without love, we can no longer look out confidently at the world. With love, we are creative. With love, we march tirelessly. With love, and with love alone, we are able to sacrifice for others.” –

Chief Dan George, Geswanouth Slahoot, Tse-lai-Watt Nation (1899-1981)

Get Real- Jeff Brown

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Photographer Erkin Demir

“I know we often want it all happy and positive, but that’s just not where much of humanity is. Many of us are overwhelmed with pain, undigested sadness, unexpressed anger, unseen truths. This is where we are at, as a collective. So we have two choices. We can continue to pretend it’s not there, shame and shun it in ourselves and others, distract and detach whenever possible. Or we can face it heart-on, own it within ourselves, look for it in others with compassion, create a culture that is focused on authenticity and healthy emotional release. If we continue to push it all down, we are both creating illness and delaying our collective expansion. But if we can just own the shadow, express it, release it, love each other through it, we can finally graduate from the School of Heart Knocks and begin to enjoy this magnificent life as we were intended. Pretending the pain isn’t there just embeds it further. Let’s illuminate it instead.”

~ Jeff Brown

The Practice of Turning People into Trees

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Image from 500px.com

“…when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”
Ram Dass

Supporting Loved Ones

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“Just to sit, without expectation, with someone who is in grief or fear or loneliness or despair, without trying to fix them in any way, or manipulate their experience to match your idea of how it should be; just to listen, without playing the role of ‘expert’ or ‘enlightened guru’ or ‘the one who knows best’; just to be totally available to the one in front of you, and to walk with them through the fire, to hold their hand when they are broken – this is how we begin to heal each other through love. Beyond our roles, unprotected, unresolved, undefended, we truly meet.” -Jeff Foster

Jeff Brown’s Balm for the Heart

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Image from Jimmy Law Images
“So many of us walk the planet overwhelmed with self-hatred, our earth suits riddled with bullets forged in the fires of shame. For too many, their experience of normal includes beating themselves up for simply being human… How very sad, and deeply unnecessary. So much brilliance lives below our shame shackles… We need to honor and validate each other. We need to build the healthy ego. We need to help free each other from our shame shackles. We need to meet each other with compassion for this very difficult human journey…”
Jeff Brown

Compassion. No Pity.

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“Compassion is a far greater and nobler thing than pity. Pity has its roots in fear and carries a sense of arrogance and condescension; sometimes even a smug feeling of “I’m glad it’s not me.” As Stephen Levine says: “When your fear touches someone’s pain it becomes pity; when your love touches someone’s pain it becomes compassion.”

From “Glimpse After Glimpse” – Sogyal Rinpoche

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Sogyal Rinpoche: Let Go

 

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‘Although we have been made to believe that if we let go we will end up with nothing, life itself reveals again and again the opposite: that letting go is the path to real freedom.

Just as when the waves lash at the shore, the rocks suffer no damage but are sculpted and eroded into beautiful shapes, so our characters can be moulded and our rough edges worn smooth by changes. Through weathering changes, we can learn how to develop a gentle but unshakable composure. Our confidence in ourselves grows, and becomes so much greater that goodness and compassion begin naturally to radiate out from us and bring joy to others.

That goodness is what survives death, a fundamental goodness that is in each and every one of us. The whole of our life is a teaching of how to uncover that strong goodness, and a training toward realizing it.’

—Sogyal Rinpoche author of ‘Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’  chapter 3