Books | BLISS | Excerpts
First This …………….
Experiencing that bliss, that greater realization of God, can be achieved by developing the spiritual virtues. Take this journey and together, page by page, we will experience and develop 33 essential spiritual virtues. Think of these 33 virtues as representing essential musical notes of the spiritual scale. The term virtues is meant to be all-encompassing, including what could also be called strengths, qualities, faculties, feelings, attitudes, activities, orientations, and practices. Virtue comes from the Latin virtus, meaning strength. Its archaic definition is the supernatural power or influence exerted by the divine being. Thus, when we are demonstrating virtues, we are expressing the divine within us. The Supreme Being is without attributes, yet paradoxically it is the storehouse of all virtues and good qualities. The bottom line is that a person who is developing their spirituality will want to demonstrate these qualities in their everyday life.
That’s what spirituality is. It’s not taking off and cutting yourself off in a forest or desert or mountain hideaway, though these sojourns may certainly have their place. Spirituality is responsibly carrying out your duties to all those in your world. While developing a consciousness that is more and more of your Higher Power, your everyday behavior reflects the growing goodness, light, and love within you. The greater your realization of love — true, detached love — the greater our spirituality.
The spirituality offered here is universal. Its aim is not to convert you to any religion or group, but to facilitate your growing relationship with your Higher Power, based on what Saints, those fully realized humans, have taught through the ages. If you follow a religion, doing these simple exercises and activities will make you a better Catholic, Jew, Baptist, Baha’i, Muslim, Methodist, or other follower.
Opening to Spirituality
1. Take a Walk …………….
Do you believe in God? Do you accept God? Even if you don’t, why not try an experiment? Summon up your imagination — everyone has this ability — imagine or visualize God; the Power that powers the universe; the Creator; the Source of Love, Forgiveness, and Mercy. If you wish to sit down and even close your eyes for this, do so. It isn’t necessary, for you can feel God anytime, anyplace.
Now, feel God in all God’s Glory giving you the greatest gift. What is it?
Keep walking, breathing in, breathing out. The Supreme Power, your Higher Power, is giving you the greatest gift. Just what is it?
Could it be your life? Your human life? What could be more basic, more important? Your human life is where it began for you, as far as you know. Take a deep, deep breath and thank God. You can never thank God enough for your human life. It is precious beyond all reckoning.
3. Open Your Heart and Turn to God …………….
Imagine a being that is all-understanding. This being has only one aim — your best interests. This being is all-loving. Think of a good, loving mother. While her child is playing, just a few feet from her, she’s content to let the child continue. But if the child hurts himself and starts to cry, the mother will rush to the child, pick up her darling and comfort it. We are here to learn to turn to our Higher Power for just that comfort. And for every sincere step we take in that divine direction, our Higher Power will take at least 10.
Although it may seem to be a paradox, it is also true that your Higher Power is inside of you, closer than your breath and nearer than your thoughts. If you grew up thinking that God is a man or woman or power up away from you in a sky or Heaven, looking down, hopefully benevolently, you’ve been, in a sense, misled. It’s not a question of the physical — that the Power resides unimaginably far away from you, or even that by making pilgrimages to special places or donning special clothes you can thereby get closer. It’s a matter of consciousness. And our Higher Power has made it purely democratic in that each of us, each human being, has their own temple in which to contact the Supreme Being. The approach to the entrance of that temple is where your attention is when you close your eyes. That is the start.
Please don’t be apprehensive that it’s an act of spiritual pride to concentrate your attention within to contact God. You’re not praying to yourself, but focusing your attention, concentrating your consciousness, directly to contact that Higher Power of which you are a part and to which you are inescapably linked.
Your Relationship with Your Higher Power
6. When You Brush Your Teeth, Come to Attention and Salute …………….
Our days are made up of mundane moments. One profound way of developing spirituality is to imbue these everyday moments with heightened consciousness.
When you brush your teeth, come to attention and salute the Higher Power within you. To salute is to greet with a gesture showing recognition, respect, and honor. When you bring your toothbrush to your mouth that is the outer gesture, but as you do it, also think that you’re performing an inner gesture: a bow, and a kiss of love, awe, and affection for the Higher Power within you.
Come to attention is a catch-phrase that means different things according to your practice. If you have a particular technique of repetition or meditation, you may use that. If not, try this.
First, just be aware that you can be aware. Next visualize that you’re watching a film projected onto a screen. The film is a film of your random automatic thinking, the common noise, the chatter–the series of unfocused thoughts and images over which you generally have no control. Now, stop the film on one frame. Notice the light shining through the frame projecting it as a picture. That light is a focused beam from your consciousness. Now, using your consciousness, turn the light away from the frozen frame of your random thoughts and shine it around inside itself, in your forehead, illuminating your internal sense of awareness and being. Come to attention, be aware of your awareness being aware, and be in contact with God. Remember, your Higher Power is inside of you, closer than your breath and nearer than your thoughts. Sense the stillness behind your thoughts. Without a mind that is quiet and attentive, you’ll miss that stillness as you let it chatter away.
Using Your Creative Imagination for Your Self
8. Put on Your Own Class Reunion …………….
A successful class reunion, is when people come together in the spirit of acceptance, rather than judgment. It won’t work for you if you attend feeling any sense of shame or blame or a lack of self-Acceptance. Self-Acceptance is the essential spiritual virtue for allowing the spiritual work to proceed naturally. Lack of self-acceptance can signal a major obstacle. It can impede your spiritual development by not allowing your Higher Power to work in you and through you. To understand why, let’s further explore what non-acceptance is.
14. Review Your Dealings in the Workplace for Honesty …..
Close your eyes and open your imagination. First, wonder about what your conscience is. It is your sense of right, that guides you away from wrong. Now, think of your conscience as a piece of glass. Visualize a large glass slate that’s perfectly clean and clear. It’s so incredibly clear that you can see through your conscience to divine truth. What happens if you cheat someone? A dark mark is etched on the board. What happens if you sell snake oil at $50 a bottle and it’s not worth the 30 cents you paid for it nor is it snake oil nor does it do any of the things you promise? For each sale, your glass is gouged with a deep dark stroke.
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Dishonesty can work like a dark plague, clouding the clarity of your conscience so that you’re not even aware of the dishonesty nor your conscience….
We are all part of God and connected to one another. God is truth. When we’re dishonest, it’s as though we are severing our connection with our Source. But every action, every thought, is on some level known. Nothing is done in a vacuum; everything we do either adds light or digs a dark groove.
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Spray and wipe off your glass again and remember people with whom you’ve had dealings. What comes up? What do you feel uneasy about? In those dealings, what did you misrepresent? Whom did you overcharge? Where did you take unfair advantage? Did you switch goods or hide inferior elements? What distortions or lies are interwoven in your dealings? How have you fudged on your time reports? On what promises did you renege? Review your dealings in the workplace for all these elements and more.
Decide what you must do to clean up your act and imbue all your dealings with honesty. Resolve to do whatever it takes, spray your cleaner yet again, and wipe off the glass until it is sparkling clean. Open your eyes slowly and focus on things around you. If so moved, write what dishonesty came up and what you will do to right things.
Once you earn your livelihood on an entirely honest basis where no one else is treated unfairly, you’ll feel lighter, with more energy and with focused inner purpose to bring more spirituality into your life. When you add the fundamental daily discipline of honest living to your foundation, you’re better able to go out in the world and practice spirituality successfully.
Practicing Spirituality in Your World
15. Make an Agreement and Keep It …..
One sign of a stalled life is a life strewn with broken agreements. People who habitually make and break agreements, spend most of their time avoiding or dealing with the results of their broken agreements. One hallmark of powerful people, people who are focused and able to proceed forward with life, is that they’re able to give their word and keep it.
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Where’s there is truthfulness there is no hypocrisy, lying, cheating, deceit, cunning, fear, and broken promises. A person who is truthful is confident and attracts the confidence of others. A person who lives truth has a calm mind and their attention more readily centers on God. A person who practices truth in their world — in their thoughts, speech, actions, relationships — imbues their world with God, thus uplifting those in their sphere.
Family and Friends
20. The Next Time You See Your Brother or Sister, Be Kind …..
Because our souls are particles of the Supreme Spirit, when we hurt another person, we are going against the Supreme Spirit and hurting ourselves as well as others, for we are all connected. In essence, we are One. Thus, not injuring others is the paramount rule of spirituality. The quality that precludes our hurting others is Kindheartedness. Kindheartedness is what we treasure most in family, friends, classmates, colleagues, adversaries, and strangers. A kind heart, a loving heart, a soft heart would rather do anything than hurt another’s feelings. In surveys of single people asking what they most desired in a mate, the number one quality is kindness.
A person who’s kind is gentle, considerate, and inclined to benevolent actions. A kindhearted person is also nice. It’s easy to be nice to a person who’s done nothing to hurt you and who is nice to you. It’s a lot harder with someone you’ve fought with for years.
23. Reframe a Recurring Negative Thought …..
The one thing that carries people furthest from their spiritual center is negative thoughts. Negative thoughts are unloving thoughts rooted in the downward passions of anger, ego, attachment, greed, and lust. They’re false thoughts that are divorced from clear reality. We’re not talking about pleasant fantasies and daydreams over which you have control but mental scenes and confrontations that are riding on your back yapping in your ear. And try as you might, you can’t shake them. Negative thoughts are also just plain conversations and scenes, unresolved from the past or anticipated for the future — that keep playing over and over and over again in your mind. And try as you might, you can’t change the tune. You’re a captive audience to this broken record.
Wake up, the enemy is your lower mind. How you allow it to run roughshod over you, ordering your every emotion and motion. You allow it to usurp your true identity and purpose and freedom, robbing you of your God-given birthright. But its power is so great and its tricks so relentlessly nefarious that the more you resist it, the stronger it apparently becomes. Even powerful repetition of a mantra or affirmation can have no effect when your mind is on a binge.
Now, as you become more aware of your mind’s tendency to rule you with negative thoughts and scenes, don’t go into a reaction mode and judge them. They’re merely stuck, downward energy that await resolution. And please, don’t judge yourself. You are where you are. Always imbibe self-love. Furthermore, this doesn’t mean you identify with your thoughts, even though that’s what most people do. What you can do is use your growing awareness to focus your spiritual power and reclaim the bliss that your lower mind destroys or prevents you from having.
Spirituality Without Judgment
29. Give up Something You Don’t Like …..
Is there some aspect of your life that you don’t like, that frustrates you, that you wish weren’t so? If so, give it up. Just give it up.
No matter how different you feel that condition in your life should be, just give it up. For instance, if you’re single and dissatisfied about it because you want to be in a primary relationship, give up your unhappiness about not being in a relationship. Don’t force yourself to give up the desire to be in a relationship; rather, give up your frustration and lack of acceptance.
When you give up those feelings, you’re no longer railing against your current state. Realize how you’ve allowed your mind to drag you away from your spiritual center. Do you really wish to hitch your happiness to an external condition? Do you really wish to identify with a mind that goes wild and starts bucking, no matter what the terrain? By not surrendering to the condition of being single, you’ve allowed yourself to be unhappy. Yet people who are coupled just as readily allow themselves to be unhappy in a relationship that could be ideal.
When you’re railing against something, you’re stuck on something that is not working. By clinging to what you don’t have now, you’re attached to it; you’re operating with egotism. There’s no space or energy around the issue. You’re suffocating it with judgments. Your position is that, you know what is best for you. When you insist that you must have something, according to what you think is best, but then you don’t have it, you become divided. You split off from part of your spiritual center. And then you’re unhappy. When you assert that you know what is best, you’re putting your will above that of your Higher, All-Knowing Power. If you truly accept God, do you actually wish to do this?
Forgiveness and Love
31. Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt You …..
Remember the old saying, “To err is human; to forgive divine”? People are prone to error. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t be here — we’d be back with the Creator.
In spirituality, we aim to achieve perfection step by step, thought by thought, action by action. Most people mean well, and if when they hurt you, they didn’t mean well, they were probably acting out of a former unresolved hurt. That hurt came from your relationship with them, from other relationships like it, from a family relationship, or from some combination of all of these. Thus, in relationships where there has been hurt wrapped around everything, remember the frailty of your fellow struggling human and develop compassion. In relationships where there’s been unpleasantness, even ugliness, there’s no doubt been lack of forgiveness. And compassion is necessary for forgiveness.
© 2010-2018 MICHAEL GODDART