Posted in Healing, Love

“The more you heal yourself, the more of a healer you become…”

As a pastor, one of my primary concerns is to care for those who God has placed in my life, to see to the long-term wellbeing of these precious people. My calling is not to change them, but to create an environment that is rich in love and acceptance – an environment that reminds them of their value, their freedom and just how much they are loved. In such an environment, people are free to explore within themselves, and if they choose, with God, areas of transformation that they deem desirable. Should we see areas of transformation, this is awesome and we will all celebrate. Should they choose to delay addressing some issues or decide not to at all, love remains and is not diminished in the slightest. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not demand its own way. Love is life-giving. Love is attractive and inviting. We are all invited into the embrace of Love and welcomed into the Eternal Dance – the perichoresis that God has enjoyed within Godself from before the beginning.”

– Pastor Nar

I agree with Pastor Nar’s grace-based view of loving people as they are, and that even if people don’t change, our love remains unchanged because as we know, unconditional love accepts people for who they are and not for what they will become. And as we learnt in an earlier post, unconditional love begins with loving ourselves unconditionally, before we can love others the same way.

Like what the header of this post says, we are our own physician, as Jesus said, “physician, heal thyself”, and the more we heal ourselves by cultivating unconditional love towards ourselves and embracing ourselves especially when we don’t like something about ourselves, the more of a healer we become who minister grace and healing to others.

As the saying goes, “loved people love people, and hurt people hurt people.” When we see people hurting, that is when we see that they are in need of loving all the more because they have inadvertently allowed society and religion to rob them of their sense of true identity and belonging. We can help send our love energy towards them through our words or thoughts, whether near or from afar.

“God always entices us through love. Most of us were taught that God would love us if, and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change, is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change. If the mystics say that one way, they say it a thousand ways. But because most of our common religion has not been at the mystical level, we’ve been given an inferior message—that God loves you “when” you change (“moralism”).

It puts it all back on you, which is the opposite of being “saved.” Moralism leads you back to “navel-gazing” and you can never succeed at that level. You are never holy enough, pure enough, refined enough, or loving enough. Whereas, when you fall into God’s mercy, when you fall into God’s great generosity, you find, seemingly from nowhere, this capacity to change. No one is more surprised than you are. You know it is a gift.”

– Richard Rohr

Yes, such is the empowering love of God, and we simply can rest in His love without ever worrying about having to change, for love produces the transformation effortlessly.

Posted in Love

Cultivating unconditional love for yourself

This insightful article How to Activate Self-Love in Your Life on cultivating unconditional love for ourselves reminds me of the adage: “All love is self-love, and all hate is self-hate.” Like what the article says, practising self-love is not selfish, because when we love ourselves unconditionally, we will end up loving others the same way. I think everyone probably knows intuitively the importance of self-love, yet the reality is that we all struggle to love ourselves unconditionally at times, especially when we make mistakes or we think we fail to meet certain expectations imposed by ourselves or others.

I think this is because of the conditioning we received from the mindset of the society and religion – the law mindset that expects us to do something in order to become (successful, accepted, better, more  beautiful, etc). All these expectations only set us up for disappointment as we start comparing ourselves with others and feel disappointed with ourselves for not measuring up and sometimes even beat ourselves up in our own mind and feel lousy about ourselves. I have been there before, and eventually I have learnt and am still learning to be saved from any remaining trace of self-loathing and self-criticism by seeing myself made in God’s image, who is already perfect and whole. (This is the grace mindset as I understand it.)

Like what the article says, practising self-love involves a conscious effort to show love, compassion and understanding to ourselves when we don’t like something about ourselves at that moment (and ignore the condemning voices in our mind), and we will feel our tension lifting and our shoulders relaxed, and our breathing becomes more at ease.

Some days in office when under work pressure (usually imposed by myself), I would need to remind myself to pause for a while and take it easy and practise embracing myself on the inside and feel better afterward. I will be giving a presentation at a meeting later this morning, and this article is a timely reminder of me to keep practising unconditional self-love and acceptance.

“Unconditional Love starts from within. It is not dependent upon anyone or anything. Unconditional Love is eternal transcending both time and space. It does not have any expectations or restrictions attached to it whatsoever. It’s completely free and without all limitation. There is an endless supply of Unconditional Love inside each of us which we can use to create the world and lives of our dreams. We all have the power to dream a new world full of Unconditional Love, Peace and Unity for all into being here and now. To awake this new tomorrow follow your Heart believe in yourself and trust in Love.”
~ Paul Adkins

Posted in Psychology

Positive Thinking and Authentic Living

This part of the article “Why Positive Thinking May Be Overrated” sits well with me:

Lyubomirsky, who has not read Ehrenreich’s book, says that while she has “critiqued and parodied” pop positive thinking programs like that of The Secret, there is some merit to adopting a more optimistic outlook on life.

“Positive thinking has a role to play in a good life as long as it’s not empty,” she says. “If you want to apply to medical school and be a doctor, I would speculate that practicing optimism about that goal might motivate you to try harder.”

Yes, when it comes to pop positive thinking programs, I have my own reservations about them. I agree that too much of a good thing can be bad, and that goes the same for “positive thinking”. In fact, when I am with a group of people who are cheerful all the time, cracking silly jokes constantly, I feel out of place, like a fish out of water.

I feel that for positive thinking to become genuine, it must become a part of our personal revelation. Therefore, just mindlessly repeating a positive-sounding statement from a self-professed motivational guru or speaker will not be helpful in the long run.

That is why I haven’t been listening to sermons for a long time. Instead, in my own time of contemplation, whenever some thoughts pop up in my spirit that are encouraging to me, I would record it in my handphone calendar to serve as a personal nugget of encouragement as it means something to me.

This morning, I was reflecting that maybe because those people in the christian religion have been told week after week to praise God at all times, this may indirectly send a message to them to deny or downplay feelings of sadness, disappointments, etc.

So, eventually it becomes a show put forth by most church-goers, to just talk about blessings and how blessed they are or their families are, and how good God is, etc, as if it is a “sin” or weakness to show any signs of doubt, disappointments, etc.

While I acknowledge that there is a place for positive confession of faith, I feel that sometimes this deliberate outward display of “faith” might turn people off, especially those who are not in the christian institutional church circles.

On a similar note, this verse from Ecclesiastes came to mind:

“To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
..
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”

Yes, there is a season to everything, including our emotional states of being. To be constantly cheerful or constantly sad can become boring after a while. As shared in my blog recently, I was reflecting that my default mode is joy, which is a state of inner bliss of the heart or spirit. But I also realise that at the soul level, I can still express emotions of happiness or sadness.

Based on what I learnt from a blog “Mind and Consciousness ~ Written by David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva)” earlier about the difference between our mind and our consciousness, perhaps I can view it like this:

At the consciousness level, my spiritual bliss is more or less constant, like a buoy that rises up automatically whenever it is made to sink under the water.

At the soul or mind level, my emotional highs and lows, or mountains and valleys, are actually appropriate responses to changing circumstances (for example, I can “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep”).

In other words, the constant spiritual bliss is what makes me divine, whereas the fluctuating emotions are what make me human.

Both completes my true self because I would be incomplete if I were to be completely divine and devoid of any human emotions, or if I were to be devoid of any spiritual bliss and completely human and ruled by my emotions all the time. Therefore, both the divine serenity and human emotional see-saw are necessary in life, so to speak.

To me, mindfulness is about embracing both divinity and humanity in the present moment, without making judgments on whether the emotions are good or bad, and just being aware. This is an liberating experience – free from being controlled by circumstances all the time.

Motivational speakers often say: “You can decide whether to be happy or sad. It is up to you.”

I would say, Yes and no. Yes I can decide to be happy or sad, but I want to go with the flow too – in some situations, it is more appropriate to be happy than sad, while in other situations, it is more appropriate to be sad than happy. This is something that is spontaneous, and therefore I would not want to try to control or manipulate the feelings that arise from within.

In the past, I like to listen to sad songs that bring tears to my eyes, because for some reasons, I can relate to them better – they evoke my deep emotions and allow me to express them freely in my personal space. At the same time, it doesn’t drive me to a place of utter despair. Instead, I would feel better after a while, like the sun shining after the rain. So yea, there is indeed a time to weep, and a time to laugh – all this is meant to be a complete human experience for us.

To sum it up, there is a balance – too much of sadness can be draining whereas too much (self-manufactured) happiness can be frustrating. There is a time to listen to sad songs, and a time to listen to happy songs. I am addicted to neither, and I can enjoy both kinds of songs at different times. I will just go with the flow, so to speak. I must say though that after I got into christianity since 2002, I have been subconsciously moving away from sad songs. But now, I don’t care because I am free to be human (as well as divine). Like what someone said, it is all about living authentically and being true to ourselves.

Posted in Love

There is no fear in love

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

Yes, God is love, and perfect love casts out fear, for there is no fear in love and there is no fear in God, for fear involves punishment. That means “God” and “punishment” are mutually exclusive. Where God is, there cannot be punishment, therefore there is no fear in love. The idea of punishment therefore is not from God but from the false identity or ego which itself is an illusion. The ego feeds from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or the system of reward and punishment based on a duality mindset – do good, get rewarded, do evil, get punished. Religious doctrines on sin, literal hell, rapture and tithing are all built on the illusion of ego and separation and use fear as a motivation to control people.

The antidote to fear, therefore, is to know the perfect love of God, who is our true identity by feeding from the tree of life, based on the unity and oneness mindset. We are one with God and one with one another. This is truly good news. May we continue to enjoy our freedom from the bondage to fear and embrace our sonship and belonging to Divine Unconditional Love.

Posted in Love

If you keep receiving the love, trusting the love

“If you keep listening to the love, if you keep receiving the love, trusting the love—even with all your limitations, with all your unworthiness, with all your limited intellect or whatever you feel holds you back—you start to experience within yourself a sense of possibility. Whatever life is inviting you into, you have this sense that it is okay and, even better, and that you can do it! That is the joy of the saints. Now you don’t have to do it by the world’s criteria of success or performance. As Mother Teresa loved to say, “The only real success is faithfulness.” To be faithful to this inner love is in itself the greatest success. It is of itself the major possibility. No outer successes are necessary to be happy.

This is what makes the mystics sort of dangerous. It’s not just possibility they experience—but permission. It’s permission to color outside the lines. It’s permission to be who you really are. It’s not just gay people who have to come out of their closets. We’re all in our closets. They’ve just given us a good metaphor for what we all have to do. We’re all afraid to come out of our various closets. It’s not the need to be outrageous or rebellious. It’s so much better than that. It is permission to be the “image and likeness of God” that you already are. We each are unlike any other image or likeness. God is saying to each of us, “All I want is for you to return to the Sender who you really are!” Ironically, it takes most of our life to find it and to accept it”.

– Richard Rohr

Yes, I was just reflecting earlier that being peace stems from being unconditionally loved at all times. Like what Richard Rohr said, as we keep receiving the love and trusting the love, we are giving ourselves  permission to be who we really are, each being made in our own way the image and likeness of God. In our daily life living in a material world and interacting with various people, situations and circumstances sometimes may cause us to feel disconnected with our true self, which can cause us to be conscious of our own (perceived) limitations or differences, as people tend to treat us based on who we are in the natural instead of the spiritual.

Richard Rohr made an excellent point by saying the gays coming out of their closets to embrace their true identity is a powerful metaphor for all of us, since we all have our own closets to come out from, and not judge ourselves based on who we are in the natural but based on who we are in the spiritual. I think this is the unseen realm that makes us mystics dangerous in the world system because we are able to tap on this secret spring of joy and peace from deep within our spirit as we drink deeply the unconditional love of God, who is our highest self.

Posted in Identity, Love

How does someone overcome self-hatred?

A question was asked in Yahoo Answers – “How does someone overcome self-hatred?” The following is my response.

For me, I have come to realise that self-hatred is more than a psychological condition, as it is a spiritual condition. I have tried meditation and deep breathing in the past, for example, and experienced momentary peace, but sooner or later, I would be struggling with self-hatred again, as sometimes I would reject myself based on how I look, or condemn myself over little mistakes I made.

Eventually, I came to learn to overcome self-hatred by changing the way I look at myself (through reading inspirational books and listening to empowering messages), and start seeing myself made in the image of God/Divine Love/Great Spirit. I also learn not to internalise the hurtful words others said about me in the past, as I was a victim of school bullying.

So, I believe the key to overcoming self-hatred is to remember that you are a divine being who is already perfect and beautiful. Your true identity does not depend on your performance. You are not defined by your actions/mistakes or by what others say about you, but by who you really are in essence. Like what a friend said, you can love yourself for who you are and not what you are going to become.

Peace and blessings.

Posted in Meditation, Psychology

The Beauty of Shyness – Henri J. M. Nouwen

The Beauty of Shyness

There is something beautiful about shyness, even though in our culture shyness is not considered a virtue.  On the contrary, we are encouraged to be direct, look people straight in the eyes, tell them what is on our minds, and share our stories without a blush.

But this unflinching soul-baring, confessional attitude quickly becomes boring. It is like trees without shadows.  Shy people have long shadows, where they keep much of their beauty hidden from intruders’ eyes.  Shy people remind us of the mystery of life that cannot be simply explained or expressed.  They invite us to reverent and respectful friendships and to a wordless being together in love.

– Henri J. M. Nouwen

I agree with Henri Nouwen’s observation about the beauty of shyness. Usually people who are shy tend to have a contemplative nature and enjoy silence and solitude. They are not necessarily adverse to socialising or afraid of speaking to a group of people because there is a time for that as well. I think shyness is indicative of an inward appreciation of the stillness of the soul and the beauty of Nature, where one enjoys listening to the gentle whispers of our Beloved within us. Jesus is one fine example of such a shy and meditative Person – our true Self.

Posted in Love, Psychology

Everything is Love

I find this video Everything is Love (in Distortion) by Michael Brown interesting. I agree God is love, and just as God is everything and everywhere, love is also everything and everywhere. As he shared, love is not a word or concept but an experience since everything (love) is a vibration. There is nowhere where love is absent, just as there is nowhere God is absent.

I understand him as saying that how we perceive love (or God, for that matter) depends on the condition of our emotions, and though our emotions of fear, anger, etc may have some distortion of the perception of love, that distortion is still love. So perhaps the way to see or experience love in all its fullness is to be still and meditate and know I Am – allowing our emotions to be integrated, knowing we are already whole, complete, beloved, pure and innocent.

“For the love of God was shed abroad our heart by the Holy Spirit (within us)”

“That we may know what is the length, depth, height and width, of the love of Christ, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God”

On another note, I also like what Brother Lawrence wrote here in his book “Practising the Presence of God”:

“Do you so, I beseech you; comfort yourself with Him, who is the only Physician of all our maladies. He is the FATHER of the afflicted, always ready to help us. He loves us infinitely more than we imagine: love Him then, and seek not consolation elsewhere: I hope you will soon receive it. Adieu. I will help you with my prayers, poor as they are, and shall be, always, yours in our LORD.” Brother Lawrence

Yes, we are infinitely loved more than we can imagine, for He (our highest self or cosmic consciousness) is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think.

 

Posted in Love, Meditation

Love gives meaning to life

There comes a time
when nothing is meaningful
except surrendering to LOVE.
Do it!!!!!
~Rumi

I agree with Rumi’s quote that eventually nothing seems meaningful except surrendering to Love, because Love gives meaning and colour and context to everything.

Reminds me of Ecclesiastes where the writer wrote that everything is meaningless and there is nothing new under the sun. Recently, I was reflecting that the sun itself appears to run like clockwork, rising at dawn and setting at dusk, and hurrying over to the other side to rise the next morning. There is a rhythm and regularity in Nature which may appear boring and predictable and monotonous after a while. After all, why doesn’t our Creator change the colour of the sky to green, the trees to purple, the ocean to yellow just to make things look different for a change? Or maybe cause the sun to rise from the west instead of the east just for a day? I think that’s where Love comes into the picture – because our Creator loves us, that’s why we have regularity and rhythm in Nature.

The heartbeat of love is displayed deeper in the symbolism of the sun, the trees, the ocean. Love is the only constant in the flux of changes, and love is multi-faceted. It takes an eternity to know the fullness of Love, which gives meaning to life. Like what Rumi said, when things appear meaningless, we can remind ourselves Love is the answer. The fact we are breathing is a testimony of Love itself, for we live on every breath we take. I like this meditation on our breath:

Breathing in, I breathe in Love
Breathing out, I breathe out Peace.

And yes, we are connected by our breath, the prana, the vital life.

The beauty of life is to be alive. This beauty is often hidden, maybe because it is so basic. It is like the little fish swimming in the ocean looking for the ocean. It takes meditation and conscious breathing to be aware of the hidden yet ever present beauty in and around us.