Jesus: It is often asked of me why do I need to do this work? Why can’t it be easy? Better? Different!
Work provides a focus for time. It provides challenges, thrills, highs and lows. It means productivity and ultimately civilisation as you understand it.
If everyone let go of work your worlds would become chaos. Without focus, discipline and effort humans do not aspire to greatness.
So work is a way of striving for something better, brighter and bigger than you have.
This does not mean that I condone workaholism or results based efforts. No. I merely bring understanding on the importance of focus, effort, discipline. So why not work?
More importantly learn to love your work. Try this for one week – consciously engaging and positively expecting good things to happen. Focus, effort and discipline can lift you to higher and greater things so do not dampen these talents with negative thinking towards your boss, job or colleagues.
Once you are striving for greater states it will become easier to meet me. And this ultimately is my work for you.
Buddha: Reluctance to pursue that which is of most importance is a trait that almost all in humanity are blinded by.
Anyone who has ever achieved anything has focused and taken away their reluctance and what they achieved in is what they considered important. Priority is the breath: the priority is understanding that today you are alive no matter what is happening in the world around you or in your own mind: here you are.
Breath: know that there is nothing to fear in the breathe and very rarely is there anything to fear in the present moment.
Conversation with Buddha and Zoe: In Times of Fear and Uncertainty Look Within
Buddha: We are living in a time of collective madness. We are living in societies and civilizations, not all but most, where people are living with a collective consciousness below that of hysteria. The threat is believed to come from every angle: from economic downturn, from terrorists, from immigrants, from racial minorities.
Within this context many of you will become uncomfortable, unable to function to the best of your abilities and unable to accept this way of being for yourself, for your community, for your country anymore.
When these times arise there is only one place to look that is not in defensive strategies, that is not in armament either of weapon or money. The time to look is the time to look inside and to learn to become one with what you find there in. There is nothing to be frightened or fearful of inside of yourself. There is nothing inside you that, with focus and dedication, cannot be turned into gold. So during this time look inside without fear. There will be great reticence initially at doing this for what is hidden has been hidden for good reason or so the mind has told you. But it is illusion as I repeat there is nothing that is within any human alive that cannot be turned into gold, that cannot be turned into the seeker and even the finder of better states of being.
I have been asked, “Why look within? Why will looking within and becoming at peace with what one finds be a strategy in uncertain times such as these?”
You are connected to the collective mind, to the consciousness of humanity. For the consciousness to change be the change. If enough people in uncertain times become stable and solid and stalwart then peace will be able to return. Think of a life or death situation that is being faced by a group of people. If there is one that is able to find the peace, the strength, the courage to stay in the moment and to deal with what is happening, that one is able to impact the hysteria of the many; not always successfully but impact would be made.
Now think if there were two or three or four, the odds are getting better aren’t they. So in uncertain times when one is concerned with ones material future switch to ones interior future and begin the work. By creating stillness, by allowing the system to harmonize, you will not only make more logical and grounded steps you will also impact the collective of everyone around you.
Conversation with Master Buddha and TMichael: Gay Marriage
TM: I’ve been reading news accounts of the battle between those who favor gay marriage being sanctioned under law and those who oppose it. Some oppose it on religious grounds and some on biological grounds in that it doesn’t facilitate pro-creation naturally. What is your view on the religious grounds for or against gay marriage?
Master Buddha: If a man and a woman have sexual intercourse, there is a probability pregnancy will result, and a second probability that child birth will follow. This is commonly known and understood in modern society. That wasn’t always the case—many centuries ago it was a mystery how offspring were conceived by the vast majority of human population. There arose from the mystery many superstitions around conception and child birth. Conception and child birth require the engagement of male and female contributing each their part. This is a biologic fact. It doesn’t require a social bond to be successful. As a matter of modern fact, it doesn’t require that they ever physically engage in person (artificial insemination).
TM: Ok, I’m with you so far. Creating babies follows sex between a man and a woman, or by artificial means. A long time ago, and I hope a very long time ago, people didn’t quite make the connection and so developed superstitious beliefs around baby-making.
Master Buddha: So, by biologic fact a gay male marriage cannot produce offspring between the two partners, but can enlist a female outside the marriage to perform that role. The same of course then for two female partners. This means that gay couples are capable of producing offspring by proxy of a third partner if they so desire. This is the same for heterosexual couples who are unable to conceive a child. It merely accommodates the biologic fact.
TM: If it’s a biologic fact, then how does it become a religious issue or even a social concern?
Master Buddha: I’m pulling this apart for you, because it can get very tangled. At some point in human history there was a shift in social belief that the chief role of marriage between a man and woman was to create offspring. To ensure that their offspring would not just be running around in reckless abandon they also created social convention around the single-family household and the early beginnings of property rights. The child belonged to the parents and the household and was subject to their supervision and responsibility, and they together as a household subject to the larger society and community.
TM: You’re saying it was a social evolution, not a religious one. Is that correct?
Master Buddha: It is difficult to separate religion from social, because religion is a social enterprise. This is why this subject is so impossible for some people to intellectually grasp. I will continue now to explain.
Religion is a social enterprise, which means that humans have created religions and formed into social sects in order to propagate their religious beliefs and social tenets.
TM: Hold on a second, almost all religious people will say that religions were created by God, or Gods through prophets or enlightened intermediaries (present company included), and that they are followers of that particular religious teaching. God laid the foundation and they followed his word to build on it.
Master Buddha: Please refer to other conversations we’ve had on the subject of truth and how it is convoluted with faith and a state of not knowing everything. Humans will posit truth on a great many things, but that doesn’t make it true. It is merely their belief in what is true. Let’s assume for a moment that religions were founded on direct expression of truth from God or Gods. Humans, as you suggest, interpret that and build on it to make it a social belief system. The filter applied is still of human origin, and therefore subject to the ignorance of humanity.
TM: I don’t mean to stray from our topic, but this seems important to clear up, because so much of what follows is dependent upon this point. You’re saying that religions are social institutions and are birthed and propagated as social tenets, not the word of God.
Master Buddha: I don’t wish to belabor the point of origin of religious beliefs, and so for our discussion I said we could assume that religions spring from the word of God or Gods. Humans the take that word and add to it their interpretations and filter it into social conventions by which they live. That means that religions become social entities imbued with human constructs of socialized behavior. May we continue?
TM: Yes, but maybe we have to come back to this at some point.
Master Buddha: The great problem for humanity in building laws that govern society is that they cannot separate social convention from religious teachings. Gay marriage as it relates to law must pass through the filters of social convention, which is conditioned by religious beliefs. So you can easily see the conundrum. And this provokes a challenge to the truths held by those who believe that the word of God prohibits such human relations.
For them the syllogism flows like this:
God has said that the purpose of a man|woman relationship is to create babies and form single-family households and rear their offspring.
Gay couples cannot create babies directly.
Therefore, gay marriage is not sanctioned by God, and must be excluded from human options.
For religious believers, denying this logic is tantamount to denying the word of God. It will then undermine a society based upon the word of God and eventually lead to the ruin of society. How it reconciles with many other words of God in which it produces conflict and contradiction is inconvenient, but doesn’t cause their belief to waver. They must default to the only intellectual escape possible, which is that God is mysterious and knows more than humankind, and so it isn’t the place of humanity to question this contradiction. It is for humanity to follow the things that are clear as well as the things that aren’t without fail. God will sort it out later.
TM: Yes, I believe you’ve stated that correctly according to what they believe. But is that correct?
Master Buddha: The question is presented incorrectly. Let me re-frame it. What is the role of religion for humanity and what is the role of social convention in creating laws that govern human behavior?
TM: So, you won’t just come right out with an answer to settle the question will you?
Master Buddha: I’m taking an approach that will help you understand the issue and formulate an answer. As we have stated previously in these conversations, the role of religion is to represent spiritual theories for individuals to ponder in an effort to expand their imaginations and range of possibilities for living a better life. Religions form from spiritual ideas and concepts, that in the pure state apply to an individual. Religions become social institutions because they are comprised of like-minded individuals. The purpose of which is to share and discuss the spiritual idea and concepts.
Humans have taken religions in this social form and expanded them into governance entities. Therein lies the problem. It sets up massive conflicts between different religions and between members of society who subscribe to those different religious beliefs. The only way for a system of religious-dominant laws to work without constant and violent conflict is too segregate inhabitants by religion and assign each to their own geographic place. Since that isn’t practical today, you must have a different way. Democratic societies have created a separation of religion and government. Ideally, this should work in a pluralistic religious society. But, it doesn’t work as perfectly as intended, because those who are aligned with religious beliefs that have been interpreted to guide their daily lives in an integrated society, immediately come in conflict with behaviors they find inconsistent with their beliefs. The resulting dissonance cries for resolution. They seek to alter laws to remove the dissonance.
TM: I can see why you’re not so popular with Christians and Muslims. From what I observe both religious groups would love for everyone to line up with them to rule the world according to their beliefs. In that scenario they could outlaw all the behaviors inconsistent with their beliefs and presumably find the harmony in governance.
Master Buddha: Well, secretly all religious groups wish for that scenario, but some are more vocal than others.
TM: Years ago when I visited Nepal and spent some time in Kathmandu, I noticed the incredible non-hostile melding of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians. But back to our topic. How do we bring this conversation to a conclusion?
Master Buddha: Gay marriage could only be subject to religious scrutiny within a purely religious context. Religious context is confined to individuals and their peers for introspection. Social institutions that are erected for governance must take into consideration that there are many types of life styles and it is the responsibility of government to create laws that promote harmony among the differences while removing violence. The fact that gays must seek legal sanction within your laws informs us that the separation between government and religion is not yet a reality.
TM: Will it ever be?
Master Buddha: It’s possible of course, but only when people representing religions surrender to living peacefully with others with different beliefs and abstain from their agendas of hegemony in thought and behavior.
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.
Buddha: We wish to speak to you today about extremes. Because extremes move in different ways from a perceived central point, are they any different? No. To clarify, if one is looking to get fit, becoming a couch potato could be extreme, exercising for five hours a day could be perceived as extreme. Are they any different? While the behaviors of a couch potato person and someone who is exercising five hours a day may seem radically different, extremes are extremes.
People who move into extreme behaviors are cut off from their center, so, although we are speaking about extremes, we are actually speaking about those who are devoid of center.
At Wimbledon, the most prestigious court is center court. I like this! One of the best thing or compliments that can be given to a person is that they are centered. Would you trust someone more or less if you described them as centered? Would it be easier to love someone more or less if they were centered?
Humans were designed to be centered yet many spend their lives rushing around in extremes. What do I mean? I mean that ‘centered’ means feeling strong, feeling safe and sound within your own being. How many people actually spend time practicing this within their day-to-day activities? Equally, as there are so few people who practice feeling centered, there are also fewer people who exist in their center; center is all there is.
I ask that all readers find their center. How do you know where your center is? It’s the mind state that makes you feel ‘centered’. I try not to play with words. Sometimes I resist the opportunities to play with minds other times I don’t. The irony is that it is the mind that takes one out of ones center! But let’s not toy here.
To get into your center stop, breathe. You can still do all that you need to do in your day-to-day activities. You can go to work, be at work, come home from work, cook, sleep: centered. You can wake up the children, feed the children, take the children to school, get on with your daily chores, collect the children, feed the children, feed yourself: being centered. Or you can become un-centered and end up in extremes whereby you are in a rush to get to work, rush to complete your work, rush to get home, rush to cook, rush to get to bed. Similarly you can become lost in the chores or lose you own center by focusing on the children’s centers. Are the children fine, are the children fed, are the children ready are the children this, are the children that? These are extremes. I will speak about child rearing at a different time for now it is suffice to say if you are lucky enough to be raising children physically, then be aware- as they say on the airlines, fit your own oxygen mask before you fit that of the child’s. In this case center yourself. A centered parent will raise centered children: simple as that.
So this is your message today from the center to the center, saying find your center. How do you do that? Stop, breathe, be present. Once you have this go about your day to day activities and you will be successful. Success follows center. Spend a minute now thinking about how mundane tasks feel when you’re centered and how mundane tasks feel when you’re not. Similarly think about a big event. How does a big event feel when you’re centered and how does a big event feel when you’re not.
This exercise itself should conclude the importance to you of being centered at all times.
Conversation with Buddha and Zoe: Uniting with the Body Using Breath
Buddha: Today we are going to focus on respiration: in and out. Why have so many of my teachings, and those who have followed me, focused on the breath? Firstly, as everyone is aware, breathing happens with or without you. Secondly, when you consciously engage your breath you are consciously engaging with the state of being that is happening whether you are aware of it or not. This is one of the easiest, and always the most successful, way of being in the present moment. You cannot escape your breath for breathing is happening to you. But when you join with what is happening to you and offer no resistance, then oneness is developed. There is nothing quite like this. There need be no association with thought. So observation of breath and conjoining of being is my favorite tool for teaching people to become still and whole.
After a few breaths the system becomes energised. Energised not only from the oxygen it has been breathing, but from the release of energy that happens when one becomes present in any given moment. By being conscious of the breath, conscious and conjoining with what is happening and offering no resistance, a huge energy release is borne. It’s akin to a star burst. This is you, one, in ones full potential in any given time simply by being aware of the breath conjoining with being, activating energy. It is from here and only here that transcendental states can be reached.
And what is the message? The message is that one does not ever escape the body to achieve greater levels of spirituality. One doesn’t ever go anywhere else than where one is to achieve greater levels of spirituality. One simply stops, observes the breathes, star burst happens, and the transcendental experience can take place. Simple isn’t it?
In my life as Buddha, I tried everything I had ever heard of to achieve greater levels of spirituality, to reach nirvana. I tried everything that meant leaving the body, in some ways looking back now, killing the body. I also had had from my previous times experiences of indulging the body and all the body was doing was being! Simply responding to what I did with it. If I ate it would digest it, if I drank it would absorb, if I fell it would bruise, if I laughed it chortled. What a close relationship you have people, spiritual beings, with your body. This is something never to be overlooked, but something to be nurtured. This is your best friend. Look after it, but more importantly be one with it through oneness with it. The star burst happens the transcendental state can take place. Care not for what it looks like only its levels of health. If something needs fixed or restored work towards that goal in whichever way you know how. Do not criticise and judge it for being something that it is not, for it is and your development will happen through your uniting with the body, not from desecrating it for it being not something that is a construct of the mind.
So for all of you breathe, enjoy, relax, come and meet me [Buddha laughs].
Conversation with Buddha and TMichael: Integration and Disintegration
TM: I feel like for many years I have tried to integrate my human self with my spiritual self. At times I feel I have reached some measure of success only to witness set backs in the form of failures in my life—failures to live purely in my convictions, or failures in relationships, etc. How can we feel one moment in the complete bliss of integration and then later as if things have become unraveled?
Master Buddha: There is a natural progression toward integration that includes disintegration. It’s the same as when you try to affix one object to another and the seal is not set just right. Maybe there is debris mixed in the seal. Maybe there are gaps in the seal. Whether it’s obstruction or space, the seal is not complete and can be easily pried apart with the least amount of stress to one of the objects. Your human personality and your spirit work in a similar fashion.
Once you are inspired and begin to inquire about your spiritual nature you begin to receive information about spirit. You begin to look at your human life through a new filter. You begin to question your life and its meaning. This is the beginning of integration.
Recognize what is happening even in this beginning. There is a natural disintegration of your human personality, that is, due to new, incoming information from spirit your personality begins to fragment and parts begin to modify. Some parts you may let go—destruction. Some parts you may transform. But what was before is no longer the same. Disintegration within the personality has occurred. At the same time, integration has begun between spirit and personality. However minute that may be, it is an integration.
There is a series of cycles of integration and disintegration that occurs. This may go on for a period of time until the tension resolves and you conclude that you have settled on a point of integration. That is what you describe as the point of bliss.
That state persists for some time until there is a crisis, which disturbs that state. New tension is created and you begin the cycle of disintegration—the tension must be resolved. Suddenly you may realize that all the beliefs you adopted in your quest for spiritual alignment where somehow off. You shed them as a snake sheds his skin. Now you are disintegrating your spiritual concepts.
The process is one by which personality disintegrates, spirit disintegrates, the combination of the two in relationship disintegrates and then it begins a new cycle of integration.
TM: So when do we know we’ve reached the final point of integration? How long will this go on? It’s tiring and almost maddening.
MB: It is no different really than my opening example. It continues until you have properly removed the debris or space between the two objects of integration.
TM: Won’t there always be things we can’t or don’t know about ourselves, personally or spiritually?
MB: This is the great challenge of enlightenment—when do you reach that point? Who can know, perhaps one who is fully enlightened? But how do you know who that is if you are not fully enlightened yourself? Is that not the basis of faith? Faith covers the gap between what you know to be true and what you don’t know. It is the motivation to continue, because you believe in the process.
TM: Makes me want to give up at times and say this is bogus, a waste of time.
MB: Yes, and for a while you might do that. That’s a point of disintegration between your personality and your spiritual self. When faith or belief in the process can’t be the salve to satisfy the tension, then abandonment is a choice. That’s natural.
TM: So, that happens, then what? Why would I get on the treadmill again?
MB: You may not. You may decide to live from the perspective that your personality is all there is. That the state of personality is all there is for everybody and that is your world. You may find some new evidence that pushes you back into inquiry, which starts the cycle of integration and disintegration again.
TM: I’ve done both of those things. It’s wearing me out.
MB: Yet it continues. So, something within you pushes through the haze and says try again. What pushes?
TM: I don’t know, something happens and it starts again. Maybe I should pay attention, but it seems like before I know it I’m inquiring again.
MB: Well, let that be a mystery for now. As you progress through the cycle maybe that is revealed for you. Then it will be okay for a while until something else happens to disturb it.
TM: So, basically you’re saying that it is a struggle forever and I’ll either engage the process or I won’t.
MB: I’m not saying it’s a struggle forever. I’m saying that it’s a struggle for as long as it is and that it doesn’t really matter how long it takes. Until such time that your spiritual self can tap into its essence within your personality and transmute it into a reflection of spirit, you will go through various stages of integration and disintegration. Your impatience may serve you to keep trying or it may persuade you to abandon the process. Your choice.
TM: Yeah, I always come back.
MB: One simple truth is that you don’t really have a choice in the long run. You can abandon the process for a while or you can push too hard and feel frustrated. But your spiritual self is never dormant or absent. Spirit isn’t time-constrained, as is your personality. And that may be something you have to take upon faith. Maybe you already accept that, but have to just not think about it for a while. It doesn’t matter. You will eventually resume the cycle. That is the natural order of life on earth.