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Holidays HolyDays

Holidays HolyDays

Many people believe that holidays are a time to do whatever they want. This is certainly true, however holidays also provide a reminder of a deeper and often forgotten personal and spiritual freedom, a reminder that even though life can pose significant challenges, you can be free at all times, and with the realisation of freedom every day becomes a Holy Day.
As relating to everyday life, freedom means doing whatever you want for yourself and for others, while observing a loving and lawful attitude. A lawful attitude is very simple because it is based in love. It means respecting the life, liberty and property of other human beings. And this mutual respect forms the foundation of freedom in material life.

In spiritual life freedom means abiding in awareness unconditioned by thoughts. Awareness is essentially free of thought. It doesn't depend on any thought for its existence, whereas thoughts and emotions depend on awareness for their existence. This is the freedom of being able to put aside thinking in the same way that a craftsman lays aside a tool. Yet the capacity to pick up or put down a tool doesn't make one a skilled craftsman. Nor does the capacity to stop thinking make one a skilled thinker. On Holy Days you also have the opportunity to examine the mind and it's capacity for generating fear, anxiety and conflict when it is not used skilfully. 

Love and freedom are inversely proportional to fear and anxiety. Fear indicates that you are losing sight of love. Anxiety indicates that you are losing sight of freedom. Many people falsely believe that fear is a necessary protective reaction. This is not so. Real protective and defensive reactions happen so quickly that you don't have time to think or fear.

Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.

Anxiety is a symptom of learned powerlessness, of conditioned helplessness in the face of fear. It is a feedback loop consisting of a stimulus that evokes fear followed by a sense of helplessness to resolve or avoid the situation. After many such feedback cycles the undercurrent of anxiety will remain with you in many if not all situations. In other words, if you can't fix or flee a situation and you are forced to remain in the situation then you will develop anxiety. Yet you might unknowingly have the power to be free by gaining insights, learning new skills, changing how you think, making different choices, and taking responsibility.

What good is a holiday if anxiety goes with you? Unfortunately many people return from holidays more tired and stressed than when they left.

So what is the key difference between a holiday and a Holy Day? A holiday is a Holy Day whose meaning has been lost. A Holy Day is any day lived without fear, without coersion, a day lived in loving freedom, unconditioned by dysfunctional thoughts. Imagine a day where every thought, word and action is a meditation, and a gift of grace. Holy Days remind us that peace, love and freedom are ever present. I wish you now and at all times, Happy Holy Days!

Anxiety and the Dissolution of Separation

Conditioned thinking is often marked by an underlying sense of anxiety, and is based on the perception of separation. Clear thinking and awakened awareness seem inaccessible while you are in a state of anxiety, which separates you from others and from your true nature. There are certain techniques that can help you to relax to alleviate anxiety, however, awakened awareness can dispel anxiety instantaneously.

It can happen through spiritual practice or grace. You can't do anything to receive grace however spiritual practice is always available, as long as you are prepared to bring your attention to it, by meditating, chanting, reading, contemplating, doing yoga, or simply associating with people who are interested in awakening, or who are awakened.

Anxiety is caused by conditioned thinking, which is persistent, and will always seek to solve problems in conditioned ways. Consequently anxiety often makes circumstances appear as problems. This is a subtle point because painful things can and do happen through no obvious fault of your own, nevertheless those same painful circumstances need not become ongoing problems.

The cycles of conditioned thoughts and responses must fall away, at least momentarily, in order to gain this insight. Circumstances are not happening to you, but you, in addition to the habituated perception of yourself, are an inseparable part of transient circumstances. In other words, the totality is you.

Your reaction to circumstances gives you the impression that you are separate, however those very thoughts, emotions, and feelings are completely and utterly dependent on that to which they react, and this difference, this apparent separation, is what gives you the sense of individual existence. Your attention being caught up in the situation and the thoughts and feelings about it can never fully resolve the problem, because eternal transformation has no finality. The mind always needs more information, at least until it is distracted by a new situation, at which time the pattern of seeking information and problem solving will repeat itself with essentially the same form, albeit with different details.

To notice this is a matter of subtle observation rather than complex analysis. In this context complexity is a distraction. As long as your attention is drawn into the details of a given situation then your attention is unavailable to explore who or what is really experiencing all this.

You assume that what you experience is what it really seems to be, because your experience confirms your deepest beliefs. Reality is not only a projection of yourself but an integral part of yourself. Your local self, namely your physical body and the awareness of your thoughts, has a limited sensibility that is numb to the rest of you. And the rest of you is whatever you believe is not you. The saying 'what goes around comes around' is more meaningful when you understand this. If you harm a part of your own body which is numb then you will eventually feel the effects when the numbness wears off, and your whole body is awakened to its senses.

When you have compassion for others, you have compassion for yourself. When you do no harm to others, you do no harm to yourself. When you love others, you love yourself. Spiritual awakening is the dissolution of separation and the end of anxiety.

Turn Fear into Love

When we observe the progress of a seed into its mature state we tend to assume that we are witnessing qualities expressed by the seed. This is true to a certain extent, yet at the same time we are witnessing the qualities of mind and consciousness. Our attention naturally flows outward and tends to be absorbed in evolving forms rather than the source out of which they grow. As we awaken, or learn to withdraw our attention from objects and turn our attention inwards, we begin to notice with greater clarity the quality of our thoughts and emotions.

Over many generations we have learned to observe that a seed is pregnant with potential, and it seems that all things grow from a seed. Yet there is also an unbroken flow of creation of which the seed and its prior and subsequent forms are but temporary manifestations. It's relatively easy to see how a seed becomes its mature form, but it is not always easy to see how it transforms into everything else, or how it resolves back into its source.

When a seed becomes a plant it is following a relatively predictable development. Yet when you eat the plant it turns into a part of you. At some level there is a communication, a communion, between you and the plant, the outcomes of which are not so obvious or predictable. When we follow these lines of development we end up in fascinating realms of mental and physical forms that are not readily unravelled through rational means, as they invariably require more and more investigation and research.

If you try to find the seed of a single thought you will be led into another thought, or many thoughts. So what is the real seed, what is its origin? It is that within which the seed or the thought is arising.  In other words, continuing the analogy of the plant, the seed is not the cause of the plant and it is not the source of the plant. It is a particular state of transformation of the plant. The source is that which facilitates your awareness of the seed and its transition into a fully formed plant.

To follow your thought back to its source is to notice it resolving into silence, or to notice the silence out of which thought is arising. The challenge is to avoid distraction on the way, and the distraction is always a thought that quickly grows into an idea.

A meme is the essence of an idea, its seed.  And when the wrong thoughts are sown they can cause a lifetime of disturbance. If the mind of a child is seeded with toxic memes it will experience a life of struggle, unless the memes of fear are replaced with love. The same applies to a family, a community and a society. Consequently the examination of ideas and their memes is more important than the regurgitation of ideas.   

The most empowering meme is that of love, and the most disempowering is fear.  In any situation ask yourself: "Is this growing out of fear or love?" The question is important because everything is in relationship with you. But what is the quality of your relationship to everything? The answer is not complicated because your life reflects the answer. Ultimately your relationship with life reflects your relationship with yourself, and the degree to which you see yourself in others. The more you become aware of the source of all things the more you will see yourself as a part of everything.  

Take the time to follow your thoughts back to their silent source and from that perspective discover which seeds need sowing and nurturing and which need to be cast into the fire.

Here is a seed, or a meme, expressed in different ways:

Every fear reminds me of love.

My fear fades as love arises.

I turn from fear to love.

Perhaps you can find a different wording that will serve you best. The point is not to repeat it like an affirmation or mantra, but rather to notice and feel the transition from one state to the other, until the state of love becomes more familiar than fear, until your daily stress responses become replaced with relaxation responses.

May our inspired actions meet the needs of others, and lead to a higher quality of life for all.