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How to Find Joy and Energy even in Difficulty

What is the very first step of developing a conduit of joy in an area that’s joyless?
Patience.
What is patience?

Not falling for the perennial distractions that would have you thinking about your pleasures and pains of the past or the future in regards to this issue. Like washing dishes, doing laundry, balancing your checkbook.
See if in these areas you can first cultivate patience.

Begin to notice the invitations towards restlessness.
See if you can hear in your own mind the stories and feelings that arise, that try to distract you, that take away your attention on this present moment.

As you give your attention, see if you notice an increase in life force.

When you pay attention to what it is that you’re doing, feel the energy of that.

Years ago when I was a teenager I worked in a lamp factory. I had to spend all day assembling lamps, same job over and over again. It was a nice job for a teenager, I made a little money. I thought it would be a nice job only for a teenager because I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I said, “This is one thing I don’t want to do for the rest of my life, assemble lamps over and over and over again.”

I looked across many rows of people assembling lamps. Just on the other side of me, there was Enrique. He was an older man, didn’t come from the United States, must have been maybe sixty years old. I noticed the way he worked, and he worked the same all day long. I noticed the expression on his face was so serene, almost with a little smile, a simple expression you would call contentment. He was dressed very nicely in his work clothes, everything always neat and clean, his hair always combed, a nice sixty-year-old man.

Day after day, month after month there he stood on his feet all day, making these lamps. I had no way of expressing what I saw except dignity. This was such a dignified person. He wasn’t showing any sign whatsoever of complaint about his work. He was showing a full-hearted acceptance of his work, past the level of acceptance now already into appreciation. And I could see that on his face. I couldn’t see it on mine.

I just kept wondering, how can anybody do that for so many years and not want to quit? And he made really good lamps.

Why? Because he wasn’t fighting his life. Because this was his job in his own mind.

This is my job, and I give it my fullest attention.

You could see that he did that. He gave attention to detail. And because his attention was not on stories about other places, other times, likes and dislikes, but on his work, his work was excellent.

His work was excellent.
He was pointed out to be the model of how you should work. What your lamp should look like when it’s finished.

What perhaps he didn’t know was that his state of fully focused presence was radiating enough for me to be educated by it. He was improving his world even though he was just assembling lamps. He certainly improved my world. I remember him forty years later.

This is what happens when you and I become egoless. We’re able to do our work and stop fighting it.

Now sometimes it is appropriate to leave one job and start another, to make a correction, to exchange one thing for another, to make a constructive change. But is that decision being made exclusively from your own resistance to the situation? Or from the clarity of knowing a change is necessary?

Can you tell the difference between “time for change” and a time when you have tainted the situation with your own bias and prejudice, because you are fighting and resisting and making it bad? If you’re the kind of person who habitually sees mostly blemishes, what’s going on in your life? Without even knowing it?

But that’s what you do. It’s a human trait, not uncommon.
See if you are involved continually in complaints, criticisms, condemnations because of the resistance of saying, “I don’t want to be here, I don’t like this.”

Instead you could see the job, the situation, the relationship for what it really is. Yes or no, correct or time to move on.

Our spiritual life runs hand in hand with our ordinary life. They are not separate, but they are one thing.

It was possible for Enrique to have joy in his work.

I saw it. Each day there was really nothing new about his work. He did maybe five different lamps. And yet there was a contentment on his face, a smile.

That smile wasn’t coming from doing the lamp. The smile was from paying attention to his work without paying attention to stories or distractions.

Now that is the guide. That becomes the yardstick by which you measure your internal movements.

If you are bored and restless, if you are disturbed, angry, desirous, overheated, it means you have been easily trapped by your own mind. And it’s time to pay attention to what you are doing in this moment now. Until you can choose to focus on what you’re doing over what you’re thinking.

If you find joy in what you’re doing, then you’ll also realize you don’t need to be thinking so much. Because after all thinking is just an attempt to find joy.

And if you have found joy in a more direct way, in the true richness of the present moment, then why think so much?

Think when thinking is valuable. Plan when planning is necessary. Review the past when reviewing the past is helpful. But to become addicted to those things and to ignore life unfolding now before you – that is called mental illness.

Spiritually speaking one doesn’t even begin a spiritual awakening until the mind can recognize what it has been doing, how it has been misappropriating funds.

So we give attention to what is before us, with patience, and joy comes from deep within.

Joy pours out through us into our world.

These are Isaac’s words from Chapter 15 of Volume 4, Walking The Bridge: With Courage And Trust.

Lotus on pond 6.1.21

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Adventure into the Higher Mind of Wisdom within Your Eyes 

Isaac said,

The eyes contain wisdom. You can see this in people. Calm eyes, luminous eyes tell you a lot about that person. Shifty eyes send a different impression.

In our tradition the eyes belong to Chochmah, wisdom (at the right side of the head).

Our teachers say Chochmah has two faces: one face looking down to bestow blessings, and one face looking up toward the Keter, the crown. In looking at the crown, the eyes are awed into deep humility by the awesome Light of the Keter, which is our divine connection.

The ears belong to Binah, understanding (at the left side of the head). Binah is our verbal understanding, using words and sound. Binah and the ears offer memories of stories.

Chochmah remembers the feeling, the vibration, but it has no words.
It is the eyes without words.
It is the higher mind.

Lower mind, Binah, is words, books, college degrees. These are good things for us. They are of the logical, analyzing, intellectual mind.
But you can be very smart without being wise. College degrees do not grant you wisdom.

All true decisions really come from higher mind, from Chochmah, wisdom.

Lower mind appears to make decisions, but these movements are really automatic habits – I’ll take the green one, because I usually do.

If you have difficulty making decisions, it means you need more contact with higher mind.

Histaklut is the practice recommended by our teachers to reach higher mind, stillness, emptiness. The place of Wisdom without words – Chochmah.

We can practice Histaklut using a “soft eyes” meditation.
Focus the eyes on something of no interest and hold them still.
Don’t describe the chair you’re looking at. That’s more stories.
Let yourself be without words.
Soften your gaze and simply go into your sense of sight.

Let your eyes take in the whole view, all the periphery in addition to your focal point. Don’t put effort on that focal point. It’s just a place to rest your eyes.
Every object in view is equal to you, and it has no story.
Your eyelids may droop to half-mast, but keep gazing.

Try this for some time, and you will notice how it works on you. It brings you closer to Chochmah.

This Isaac teaching is excerpted from Chapter 5 of Volume 3,  Walking The Bridge: The Art of All-Is-Well

eyes PxHere

(Thanks to PxHere for this image.)

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Shift to True Contentment where Nothing is Wrong

Isaac asked,

Can you be at home wherever you go, whatever you’re doing, at work and at play, no matter what is happening? Can you allow yourself the same acceptance, the same table-awareness, gently holding everything?

Can you carry your home with you, the way a turtle carries his home on his back?

It is such a blessing when you can see every face as God wearing a costume. Imagine, everyone with whom you come into contact is really only God in costume. Eventually God takes off that costume and puts on another. You drop your body and take on another. Everyone you know is doing the same.

And don’t forget God wears the costumes of everything, not just people.

So how do you feel in this moment, now?

– “At peace.”

– “Nothing is wrong.”

Are you needing anything at all right now? No?
Nothing more to grasp? No marbles to gain?

Can you see how nothing is needed? All those things we chase? All that our family and friends may consider important to life? How important is it, really?

We have everything in this moment. (Deep bliss and contentment filled the room.)

When you have all of this, as you do right now, why would you reclaim your troubles like you reclaim your shoes at the door, on your way out of here?

You don’t have to leave this space of contentment. It can go with you, the way the turtle carries its home on its back.

You know when we’re young, we think we need so many things. The right car, the right clothes and hairstyle. Later we can drive a beat-up old car and we don’t care how it looks.

We feel it’s fine to be old. It’s fine to wear white hair. In a sense we’re finished with the struggle. Youth fights about things, but age has been worn down. With age and maturity, you choose your battles carefully, and you don’t waste energy fighting anymore. Aging can make it easier to release attachments, release marbles.

In our culture everybody wants to stay young, and age is not respected. But in older traditions around the world, people stand up when an older person enters the room. They honor age and wisdom. We’ve got it all backwards in this country.

A youngster sees an old person in a rocking chair on the porch, just looking at the flower box. The young person thinks, how boring, they’re not doing anything, they’re so slow, they’re dead already. Meanwhile the old person has a deeper-than-ever appreciation for those flowers, this beautiful spring day, this rocking chair. Their life is filled to overflowing. They have become like a child again, only with more simplicity. They find they need nothing to be happy. They find their happiness everywhere.

That’s what it’s about.

Excerpted from chapter 9 of Volume 2, Walking the Bridge – With Balance.

 

Bumblebee pollen flower Flickr(Thanks to Flickr for this image.)

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How to Untie the Knot of Anger

Isaac said –

We find that some sages, to reduce their anger, would retreat to caves and forests. They would isolate themselves and simplify the routine of their lives in order to touch the Stillness. But if you were to bring them back to the city, they might react as strongly or stronger than anyone. Their isolation did little to trim their reactivity.

So there is merit in living in the city and attaining modest gains of calmness. The people around us are meant to challenge our behavior and help us resolve our karma.

Even the great masters have had their own karma to deal with. Even the greatest sages have had their physical weakness, emotional conflicts and other ailments.

Our challenges and difficulties are like knots. Any recurring issue in us is like a rope we have bent this way and that, squeezing it around itself like a knot. To unpack and learn from this issue, we need to pull the rope out gradually, first from the most recent part of that big knot. The most recent rage on a recurring confrontation, for instance. In a calmer state, we take time to look at it. Why does this bother me? Why do I react so much? Uncurl that part of the rope.

On its way out, the rope must pass through the same way it came in. Every knot needs to be untied in the same way it was tied.

It takes patience and a strong inner Observer to do this work.

This is the Observer or the Witness we develop through meditation. It’s the ability to step back and watch what you do. You gain enough space inside that you’re able to observe your own behavior, your standard automatic reaction.

When one of our hair-trigger reactions pops up, we might be able to take a breath and observe it.

Imagine you’re on the brink of such a reaction. The pressure builds up inside. It feels so easy to go over the edge and release anger in the old habitual way. The old habit rises strongly, overpowering the very dim idea that you could choose calmness.

And yet, somewhere deep inside, a gentle insight may arise, telling you that you may choose as you wish, but know that if you release anger here, you create a long line of consequence upon consequence. In fact it may lead you into another life, as it were. It takes you into a parallel universe where everything will be different for you. Eventually you will forget you were ever in this universe, this smoother vibration. That can be the power of one choice.

And you can handle this situation yourself, with your meager assortment of tools, or you can let God do it. Give it to God?

What would you do?

These are Isaac’s words from Chapter 60 of Volume 1, Walking the Bridge – With a Fearless Heart.

knot lg pxhere

(Thanks to PxHere for this image.)

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Your Wisdom in the Energy Centers of the Body – Chakras

Isaac said –

… consider the subtle energy centers of our body. Many traditions around the world speak about these energy centers. In our Kabbalah tradition, the sefirot (divine attributes) channel divine energy, creative life force.

This concept may be easiest to convey using the system of our Eastern brothers, which is the chakra system, a ladder of energy centers, if you will.

The chakras are energy wheels or discs located up the core vertically, aligned with the spine. Each one is not only a vortex of energy, but it has a consciousness all its own.

The first chakra, at the base of our spine, is focused on survival. As soon as we get to the planet we desire to survive here. In our first chakra we desire not only health and wellbeing, but also prosperity and abundance. Do we have enough money? Do we have a home and food on the table?

If you inhabit a body, these are primary things you need and desire. Before you can take life any further, you need this kind of stability.

Second chakra, a little further up the ladder in the low belly, is mostly about pleasure. The pleasures of the senses in all areas of life. We want life to feel good. We want to explore the whole range of our sensual nature. Nothing wrong with that. We look for and fulfill sensual pleasures. This desire is built into second chakra.
You’ll notice that when a person stays focused on such pleasures, eventually they run dry.
This is only natural, and it allows us to release the importance of pleasures in our life.

We turn our attention to a new desire, further up the ladder.

Third chakra, in the upper abdomen, is about our power in the world. Are we important enough? Do we have any status? Do we wield some power? Can we compete with others, get ourselves higher than others? Can we be in charge? Sometimes this is the area where anger arises. Vengeance comes up.
Personal power is the focus of this chakra, and we are learning through it.
Our desire is to have power and lots of it. But eventually we will get tired of power.

As you can see, the first, second, and third chakras relate to our material world and to ourselves as individuals.

Fourth chakra, the heart, is where we begin to value others. We begin to connect with our heart to other people. The focus here is friendship. Community.
Who am I in community? How do I connect with and care for other people?
My awareness here has opened beyond myself. I want to join others in friendship.

Fifth chakra, at the throat, is about communication and creativity. I am expressing my authentic self to others and receiving them as they are. I engage in creativity, creating and sharing. Not only art in its many forms, but also I am creating ideas, skills, events, and more to share with others. I am contributing my creativity to the community.

Sixth chakra, at the head (“third eye” in the center of the forehead), is about insight, vision, and wisdom. Here we begin to know that we are all One.

There are many of us, yet we are One.

Seventh chakra, the crown at the top of the head, is a place of Divine Union.
Here there are no words, really, because words are personal, and this place is not personal.
Here we are in Union with All.

As we grow through our life, through many lives, we gradually release our attachment to the priorities of each chakra.
Led by our natural desires, we go up the ladder into ever greater joy and truth.
Truth, because we gradually see the illusion built into each chakra consciousness.
We gain more understanding, broad view, and wisdom.

Each chakra serves us well, but going up the ladder is the natural progression of joy.

This is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of Volume 5, Walking the Bridge: to Freedom and Light

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