Background to Conversation with Buddha and TMichael on Smoking Cigarettes
Note from TM: This topic may be a bit off from the typical spiritual topics we talk about, but it’s one that I have been wondering about for some time from a spiritual perspective. Many people I know, including myself, have struggled with trying to quit smoking cigarettes. We all know about the health issues associated with smoking, yet continue. Is there an understanding about smoking cigarettes that could help people quit?
Master Buddha: It’s a good topic because it bridges the material and spiritual realms. On the purely physical level smoking cigarettes is well known to create a physical addiction. That is not so difficult to understand or accept.
It weakens the breath capacity and reduces the nutrients that can be carried by the blood. Additionally, it carries with it potentially harmful chemicals throughout the body. This is the part that is established. Just a small amount of common sense can grasp this and say that it is not necessary to smoke cigarettes to achieve good health and that to the contrary it degrades health.On the emotional and mental levels other addictions are at work. Smoking also creates an illusion of power. And this is much harder to give up than the physical addiction. Power can mean different things to different people, but I mean it I the sense that one feels powerful to do whatever one needs to do. If one feels weak in some way, he will compensate by finding some way to feel powerful. This is why so many people begin smoking as a teenager—a time in which a great sense of weakness is experienced. Others experience the attraction to smoking during emotionally upsetting moments. Still others enjoy smoking when they are drinking alcohol (this is more complicated because the source of weakness is not so apparent).
It should be obvious that real power is not gained from smoking cigarettes, but that is exactly what makes it a illusion. For those who derive power from it, it is real, and thus an effective illusion.
There is a proverb that states, “The best way to eliminate is to substitute”. In order to do this in a way that supports substituting real understanding for an illusion, one must understand that the apparent weakness for which the illusion is compensating, can be addressed through self-awareness and contemplation. Some people, when quitting smoking, will substitute another substance or activity that supplies the power they seek. This could be substituting one illusion for another; perhaps one that is less harmful in other ways. The real benefit will come from a true understanding of the weakness perceived in the first place, and then proceed to cure it. Some people can make the behavioral change without this deeper understanding I’m speaking of, and for them this is a success. For others it requires the deeper contemplation and cure. Most likely the underlying feeling of impotence, or weakness, is affecting them in other ways as well and this approach will be more helpful.
The worst thing that can happen is for one to come from an approach of judgment, self-loathing, guilt, shame or anger at oneself. Be gentle with yourself as you begin to unravel the complexities that lead to behavior that is inherently harmful. At one point, however erroneous, the smoking habit derived from an intent to cope by providing a power that compensated for a weakness. Seeing that error in choice and seeking a new one confirms self-love and care.
Conversation with Jesus and TMichael: Loneliness and Love (Part 2)
TM: Is it an addiction?
Master Jesus: Of course it is. You cling to the old story out of comfort in the fact that it is known, while the new story isn’t known. Humanity has struggled with this dilemma for eons. Always there are those who support change and those in the majority who resist it. This is built into the evolution of the species. If change was too rapid, the status quo might never reach its peak of efficacy. Remember the status quo was selected as the story to abide by at some point. When it begins to wear down in efficacy a new way is discovered. Those comfortable with the old way resist the new way while the others champion the cause of the new way. The tension is created and at some point things change. The addiction is the rationalization that something is good for you when it has passed the point of being so.
TM: So loneliness is an addiction?
Master Jesus: Loneliness is an experience of what love isn’t, which leads to a bridge experience of hope that leads to the promise of love. Back and forth it goes. It is the story that is addictive; the experience of loneliness is part of the story.
TM: Easier said than done to change it. How do we just let the old story go?
Master Jesus: That’s not easy. But consider that it starts with awareness that the new story may be true. Then gradually you begin to notice evidence of the truth. Over time as you welcome the truth the old story wears down until it no longer holds you in its grasp. The ones who understood the truth and who agitated for change usually go through this process too. The timing is different for everyone.
TM: It seems overwhelming at times, the idea that we have so much to understand in order to alter our present course. Sometimes the will to keep things the same over powers the forces of change. But you’re saying it has always been that way?
Master Jesus: Yes, and every generation thinks it’s worse for them; that the stakes are higher. By the way, the forces of change challenge the bedrock of status quo. The energy of the status quo is not so fluid, having crystallized over time. I say that metaphorically to underscore how thought forms behave.
TM: May I change the subject given the subject of change?
Master Jesus: See how easy it is?
TM: What are the greatest expressions of love that you observe in our culture of modern times?
Master Jesus: There are expressions of love through individuals and through institutions and they are in abundance throughout the world every second. Believe it or not it is the predominate emotion.
TM: Really? It doesn’t seem that way. I thought you said in our last conversation that the other energies were stronger right now and that you guys are trying to strengthen love to make it dominant.
Master Jesus: We are strengthening the manifestations of love, so that when the force that comes in behind it comes, love will be expressed so fully that everyone will experience it. It’s not what you observe so much because of the filters of observation. To many, expressions of love are signs of weakness, or at the very least non-productive. I observe the intimate moments between a parent and child, which is possibly the most intense expression of love. There is romantic love that for some is the only expression of love that they have ever known. There is the expression of love between friends; that love being rooted in loyalty and forgiveness and most closely imbibed with no conditions.
When I witness communities coming together to help one of its members through a crisis; that is an expression of love. An act of creation inspired by love can be a beautiful song, a painting, a home crafted with the hands of its inhabitants or a building 50 stories high that embraces the dreams of its residents. I find expressions of love in the works of many. You call it survival, but I say that it’s love. Providing for one’s survival is love. It has been distorted and made into a material quest for more, but it is nevertheless the ultimate expression of love for one’s self. It doesn’t matter if it is used to gratify the ego or punish one’s neighbor or competitor. It is an act of love to survive.
TM: Hang on just a second. You’re saying that love can be used to gratify egos and punish people and that’s okay?
Master Jesus: I’m saying that survival is an act of love, perhaps the ultimate act. The act itself is not diminished by misinterpretation.
TM: So, if someones intent is to survive, that’s love. And if they happen to kill a few people along the way, that’s okay?
Master Jesus: Hmmm…. that’s a bit extreme isn’t it? We’re talking about love and you’re mixing in attributes of what love isn’t. I appreciate the confusion that exists around absolute rules and definitions. That is what humanity wants you know, precise definitions and guidelines. I’m sorry to disappoint you in that regard, but it doesn’t work that way. Every time you create a black and white answer to a complex system you inevitably end up with contradictions in practice.
Let’s take these one at a time. Survival is an act of self-love. Providing for one’s loved ones for their survival is an act of love. The next part of your question then moves to the means of survival; how one goes about securing the provisions for survival. The means to an end debate has gone on for some time, but hasn’t really been decided has it?
TM: It has for me, although it is a major struggle at times depending on how refined you make it. I wouldn’t kill someone in order to get food or water.
Master Jesus: Let’s say a group of people in your community formed a militia and commandeered the food and water supplies. They are determined that only certain people are entitled to these supplies and the rest shall perish through starvation. In a sense, they are killing you and others like you. Assume you have no other outside resources. Is it self-defense for you to harm them in your quest for survival?
TM: I don’t know what I would do. To do nothing means I would die and if killing them was the only means to survive myself, then that doesn’t seem right either. What’s the right thing to do in that case?
Master Jesus: There isn’t a right thing to do in this case. There is only what you would do and what they would do. We’re assuming this scenario from your perspective of survival. But what if we peered into their perspective and discovered that their actions are necessary to the survival of the community because they have discovered that there is a lethal, communicable disease running rampant throughout the community and they are able to isolate the infected ones from the healthy members. The food and water provisions are likely to be disrupted because of this calamity and so a quarantine of the sick ones and rationing of the scarce provisions is the only way for the healthy members of the community to survive and rebuild the community. Should all the members of the community perish because they haven’t the will to allow the ones with a lethal disease to die without wasting their means of survival?
TM: These are the scenarios we pray we never have to face; the stories of stranded expeditions where people resort to cannibalizing to survive. It hurts to even imagine what I would do.
Master Jesus: We have examined an extreme case that most people never have to face. But by degrees from this, people do experience it in some form or another. That is why it is so difficult, for example, for a wealthy person who is many degrees from starvation to understand the plight of those who are inches from starvation. People don’t know to whom they should attribute their good fortune to survive comfortably. Some thank themselves, some thank God and some thank others. Others don’t know whom to curse for their misfortune.
TM: As of this writing, the aftermath of the tsunami that struck countries in the Indian Ocean bears witness to much suffering and at the same time much compassion by wealthier countries. What can you say to this situation?
Master Jesus: You’re right the suffering is immense and the outpouring of aid once it was realized the amount of devastation has also been immense. This is an example of what I’m talking about. The next step is to recognize the chronic suffering by hundreds of millions of people throughout the world every day. In some cases emergency aid is warranted, but for the most part it is the long-term commitment of resource sharing that is needed. The tension exists between the aggressive tendencies of humanity against the tender heart of humanity. This can be measured by the level of fear in the minds of those in control of the resources. The greater their fear, the more they rely on aggressive tendencies (even though they’re couched as defensive). As fear is diminished, so they are open to loving response.
It’s rare to find an individual with the capacity to share what they have with others. Sometimes their sharing is limited by their fear that maybe they won’t have enough for themselves when the time arrives. Sometimes it’s because they don’t know where to begin. Sometimes they follow the institutional giving route that makes it easier to identify to whom to give and how much. Groups behave in a similar manner. To the government sharing add the component of strategic politics. Sharing starts with increasing individual capacity for sharing by reducing fear. For this reason individual awareness is a major focus of spiritual work.
Background Conversation with Jesus and TMichael: Love and Loneliness (Part 1)
This is the third conversation with Masters Jesus and Buddha. I’m never sure how it’s going to start. I sit. And wait. I think of things to say but they’re not really the things to say only forced ideas that my mind impatiently pushes into the foreground to get it going. But then a question springs up and that’s the beginning.
Conversation with Jesus and TMichael: Love and Loneliness (Part 1)
TM: Why are people in my culture so lonely and are people in other cultures lonely too?
Master Jesus: That’s a good question. Relevant for many people, yet misunderstood in this age of plenty and hectic daily living. As I look at the times that have passed and note that throughout human history and human suffering, never has there been as much loneliness relative to so much material and social progress. How could this be?
TM: That was my question.
Master Jesus: Don’t you have an idea why it is so?
TM: I don’t really know. I observe people who are lonely and I feel sad for them. Sometimes I see people who are surrounded by friends and family and still they are lonely. They’ve somehow lost contact in a way that they don’t know if they exist or not I suppose. I’ve had moments when I felt alone, but they seemed fleeting like a day or two and then I remembered something that connected me and I was back.
Master Jesus: Do you imagine hope has anything to do with the feeling of loneliness?
TM: I don’t think so, but since you brought it up I imagine that you think it has something to do with it. Do you?
Master Jesus: No I don’t. But I can tell you that people who are experiencing loneliness feel as if there is no hope for them. They are hopelessly isolated.
TM: If that’s so, then hope does have something to do with it.
Master Jesus: Really? And how is that?
TM: Well, if there’s an absence of hope, then hope has something to do with it then hope has something to do with it—the reason why they’re feeling lonely.
Master Jesus: What if they’re wrong? What if hope is just something that fills the gap in a perception of life filled with holes? What if hope merely replaces for a moment the underlying sense of despair that is the theme of a disjointed view of life?
TM: Yes, but that is the point of hope. It’s sort of a wild card, a get out of jail free card. It bails you out when you don’t know exactly what has you down, whether it’s loneliness or depression or sadness. Hope is a handy antidote.
Master Jesus: That’s an interesting way to view it. I see love fulfilling that promise. So is hope a bridge then to something else?
TM: I guess so in a way. It’s getting out of someplace, an emotional place that feels yucky. I’d say it’s more of an escape “out of” rather than a bridge. Although I think in order for it to work, obviously it has to be a bridge to something better than the thing that one is getting out of. But since you brought up love, how is that different from hope? Isn’t it the promise of something better but in a more generalized way?
Master Jesus: Love is more than the promise of something better. It is all there is. Any other state is a creation of someone who isn’t connected consciously with the only state there is. So that that doesn’t confuse you, let me state it another way. When you are experiencing loneliness, fear, doubt, depression or sadness, you have created those states, but they’re not real. They’re illusions. Love is real and the only state.
TM: When you say they’re not real and love is, what do you mean? What does ‘real’ mean?
Master Jesus: The limitations of language are real. ‘Real’ means the genuine thing, the enduring, absolute thing. It is the be all, end all. There can be no other. Something is unreal when it poses as something real. Sadness poses as reality, and so does loneliness. Those states pretend to be real to give you the experience of what it would be like if they were real.
TM: That’s fine for you to say, but how can we know that is true? When people are lonely or sad they are those things. That is a real experience.
Master Jesus: I see how you trap yourself in believing that those states are as real as love. Let’s say that only one thing can be real. Let’s also say that everything other than that thing is unreal. The only reason you would believe that the unreal things are real is that you believe the real thing is unreal.
TM: Now you’re messing with my head. I don’t follow you. I know love is real. When I experience love I know it and it’s real. Then there can be a moment when I experience loneliness and it’s different than love and for that moment it is real and love isn’t activated or present, at that moment, so the other thing is and it’s real. Why can’t they all be real?
Master Jesus: So, by your reasoning all things are real and none are unreal?
TM: Yes, I guess that’s true.
Master Jesus: But only one of them can be real at one time, is that it?
TM: For the most part, yes. But I think there are times when I experience more than one state at a time, or there’s some overlap. Often I can sense the transition from one state to another.
Master Jesus: What causes the shift then, from one to another?
TM: I don’t know, it just shifts. Thoughts trigger the shift I suppose.
Master Jesus: And you create the thoughts, is that correct?
Master Jesus: And you create the thoughts with the intent to shift from one state to another, or is it involuntary?
TM: Well, mostly I think if you’re depressed or lonely then you’re motivated to shift out and so it’s a conscious act. If you’re in a happy or joyous state and you start to slip into another state it seems more of an unconscious act. I mean people basically want to be happy and so they strive to stay that way. If they’re sad they try to get to the happy state.
Master Jesus: I noticed you used happy and joy, not love. Why is that?
TM: I remember what you’ve said, that happy and joy are states of love.
Master Jesus: So does that make love a meta-state?
TM: Could be I guess.
Master Jesus: If love is a meta-state and happiness and joy are states that reflect love, then what meta-state does loneliness and despair reflect? Or do you consider them to be meta-states?
TM: I consider them to be undesirable states. But I don’t know the answer, maybe they reflect evil.
Master Jesus: Now we’re getting somewhere. So, you believe then that love and evil are the meta-states and from those the others come into momentary reflection?
TM: I wasn’t aware that I thought that, but maybe I do or maybe I just don’t know and you’re putting words into my mouth. I have never thought that deeply about it. I guess I’m like most people I just live my life from one state to the next trying to stay a little longer in the good ones and avoiding the undesirable ones.
Master Jesus: Well, that’s an honest answer and one that represents the majority, if not all, the human race. But surely you have thought deeply about these things, as have others. Is it that you don’t trust the conclusions you’ve reached?
TM: I think it’s more like I’ve never really concluded anything. I resort to the old story of love and evil, good and bad, happy and sad, because that’s easier than risking a new story that may not be true. And at least the old one is accepted by nearly everyone.
Master Jesus: It’s time to risk a new story. I think you already have, but you’re not sure whether or not you want to tell it. What if you’re wrong, right? Then you’ve duped yourself and everyone else who believed you. I’ve told it and others have told it. It gets changed a little here and there so that it looks more like the old story to make it more comfortable for everyone. So, I’ll tell it again.
TM: Please do. I’m willing to listen. Is this going to answer my original question about loneliness?
Master Jesus: Yes, and more. Love is all there is in this universe. It is the meta-state. Every other state of emotion you experience is either a reflection of love, or it is a state you have individually and collectively created in order to experience that which isn’t love. Evil is the creation of humanity and is unreal. It appears real because you believe it is as part of your collective agreement to do so.
You experience life one moment at a time on Earth. You experience life on more than the Earth dimension. The meta-state of love is on all dimensions. You create within the realm of Earth during your incarnation here. Your creation does not extend beyond this dimension. You can choose to create with love or you can choose to create with that which is not love. At the point when your creation is purely from love then your boundary of creation will expand. That is the moment we are all waiting and working for.
The challenge of humanity is to synthesize all that is in your human nature with all that is in your spiritual nature. Love is in both and will temper the fusion. Give up your addiction to your own creation when it isn’t in alignment with love.