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Consciousness

Choice And Will: New Teachings From Jesus

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In my work with Michael Jeffreys in Los Angeles at the Santa Monica Eckhart Tolle Meetup, one of the issues that frequently comes up is that of “free will.”

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What is so confusing to many is that writers like Eckhart Tolle will say things like -in every situation you have three choices – to accept it, change it or leave.

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At the same time, many nondual teachers like Michael will assert categorically that all freewill is an illusion; for example, they will cite experiments that show that the brain “knows” what will happen (seen in an MRI) before a subject chooses which arm to raise. And of course they will always inquire deeply if there is choice, “who” is actually the chooser – and can one find the “self” in the body or anywhere else?

I have begun my own approach to this issue by ascribing the conflict to the innate paradoxes within Life, and the need to simply accept “not knowing.”  Further I believe that the key is actually to be found in the inadequacy of our linguistics –thought and words –and their inherently flawed subject-object programming to provide a real “answer.”

So I was very interested to read Choice and Will: New Teachings from Jesus by Gina Lake, to see how this ostensibly nondual teacher, whose writing is so clear, approaches this profound issue.  The title itself obviously suggests that some measure of choice–and indeed will–does exist.

Gina basically “gives away the ending” in the very first paragraph, in which with typical clarity she writes:

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“You have been given the gift of free will. This gift requires one thing: consciousness. By consciousness, I mean awareness of the possibility of choice. Without this awareness, human beings would not be very different from animals, who function and survive primarily through instinct and other conditioning. Similarly, if you are not aware that you have a choice and if you don’t exercise it, you also will function mostly according to your instincts and conditioning.”

Where she goes with this is really what makes the book so interesting. She calls the Ego the “small will” –not because “it is not powerful” but because “there exists a greater will within which the ego’s will operates, although the ego is not aware of this greater will, what I will call Thy will or divine will.”

Many scientific readers will stop right there and require proof. Is she talking about God?  After all, this book is supposedly being dictated to her by Jesus… But this is exactly the chief feature of the “small will” – the need for rational explanations within the world of thought.

What Gina points to as the “Greater Will” –or Consciousness –is the ability to question even this –even the stream of rational thoughts that are there to question everything else.

As Eckhart Tolle also powerfully says, beginning to question the thoughts in the head is the beginning of true freedom. In this context, “choice and free will” take on an entirely different flavor or quality.

They are no longer words, or concepts, but rather lived experiences –which is the “essence” of the concept of “will” anyway.  It is the act of getting out of the chair that is apparently the result of the thought, I should get up.  But in “actuality” the act itself is not the “result” of the thought, as the small mind would have you believe –it is of an entirely different scale.  It is simply the act itself or a function of “the Greater Will in which the ego’s will operates.”

As soon as the concept of proof arises, “we” are once again in the realm of thought. Gina refers to this belief in our thoughts as our ego’s “robotic programmed existence” or conditioning.

Our true choice comes from the Greater Will of Consciousness which allows us “space” from our thoughts and to actually question them, summoning a quality of attention in the moment that allows Life to unfold as it is – “Thy will be done.”

One can take a more holistic scientific view of this that goes beyond the well-known Christian interpretation, using the analogy that I find so fascinting–that of the conditioned mind as “software” –again robotic programming –and here Gina deftly describes how our blind belief in what passes for information can paralyze us:

“Another useful but often misapplied aspect of the software is the mind’s ability to come up with every possible thing that can go wrong. Being aware of negative possibilities can be helpful.

However, if you let the computer-mind make choices for you based solely on problems you might encounter, you may never get out of bed. The mind’s tendency to focus on potential problems leaves people scared, joyless and immobilized. Such cautionary warnings were never meant to overrun or hijack people’s decisions. The computer-mind may provide some useful information, but information is just information, and it was never meant to run people’s lives. For decisions that affect your life, you need wisdom.”

So again, where do “decisions” based on wisdom actually come from?  Gina sometimes refers to this as “The Choiceless Choice” which is the beginning of true liberation –when the Egoic mind has lost its call (power).  Going further with the parables of Jesus, which Eckhart Tolle also fondly interprets, this could well be the “Kingdom of Heaven.”

When the illusion of the ego is seen through, and many of the programmed motivations of the “real world” fall away, the “choiceless choice” remains only as the obvious and disciplined “choice” to be present and aware.  This discipline ask us to remain vigilant and aware of the extent to which we may continue to believe thoughts –and to question these beliefs, let the thoughts float away, and to act from silent presence instead.

In some ways this also alludes to an opening of what some may call “intuition” or higher awareness.  But again such faculties or experiences are not something to be explained or described but only to be experienced.

Gina discussed this recently in a wonderful interview with Grace Balik on Easter Sunday in an “online retreat.”

I am generally skeptical and put off by books that are supposedly “channeled,” but after exposure to a Course in Miracles and Bashar, I try to keep an open mind. Gina herself addressed this issue on the interview linked above, and basically says that any discussion of whether Jesus “really” dictated the work is an irrelevant distraction.

Along the same lines, in the interview Gina also addressed the conflict I raised at the outset, and suggested that the dogma of “no free will” espoused by nondual purists may be a bit difficult for people just beginning to awaken to comprehend; it can only become clear, in the context laid out so well in this short book, once the disciplined and exercise of true free will -seeing through the illusion of the ego and the trap of believing one’s thoughts -has consistently been experientially realized.

This is very subtle and not very easy material to grasp, although ultimately it is the “simplest” and most elegant solution to life itself –to let go of one’s egoic predilections and to simply trust life.

What made it a bit clearer to me was remembering a book I actually read a decade or so ago by another one of my favorite philosophers – in The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders, Jacob Needleman also explains what the “founding fathers” actually meant by the pursuit of happiness, and the concept of liberty.

It never was meant to suggest that freedom meant just “doing everything you want,” or what your mind suggests, and that that would make you happy.  Happiness is not the accumulation of external “things” but rather, what it meant for many of these intellectual giants (who were actually Deists and not fundamentalist Christians) was the freedom to explore and grow in the sacred inner world.

“Deism holds that God does not intervene with the functioning of the natural world in any way, allowing it to run according to the laws of nature. For Deists, human beings can only know God via reason and the observation of nature.”

This is merely another way of suggesting that a deep alignment with What Is (Nature) is the path to God — so that the freedom sought by our founding fathers was partly scientific – to explore nature – and partly sacred – to appreciate inwardly what we know and sense to be Life.

When fundamentalists maintain that this is a “Christian nation,” they are partly right -it was founded “under God” but the Deist conception of God that was practiced by many signatories to the Constitution is actually very similar to eastern mysticism of pantheism.  Just read Thoreau, Emerson or the other transcendentalists to understand what many deists believed.

Alignment with this “sort of God” results in profound joy (as opposed to the modern notion of happiness dependent on results or goals) – it is almost an Eastern concept of Chi or Tao – going with the flow based on a higher reason – or what Gina Lake describes in this book at seeing through illusions of the small mind (belief in thought) to grasp the experiential truth of “what Is.”

This wonderfully addresses one of the key issues raised by seekers of truth who wonder at the apparent “passivity” of awakening or enlightenment – the result, again, of the apparently uncompromising assertion of nondual teachers that free will doesn’t exist.

Another common misperception is that this implies passivity and laxziness.  That within this system of “non-belief” we “won’t” do anything.

But as Michael Jeffreys has said in our classes, then try it.  The reality is that you “will” still function, and if it is in your nature to write, for example, you will still do so.  Like this review of Gina Lake’s book on CE.

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Consciousness

How To Ground Yourself: A Simple Yet Powerful Technique

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Mental health challenges, depression and even physical illness, are all on the rise. All three are believed by emerging research to be linked to trauma.

Thankfully, nervous system health and trauma are becoming a big part of what people talk about as it seems people are looking to get to the root of these issues more now than ever before.

After coming to my own realization that I was traumatized from experiences I had, I began studying trauma to not only help myself but to see how I could further improve my own media work – which has been, in essence, trauma-informed, since 2009.

What I’ve come to feel is that trauma affects almost all of us in some way, while there is not much data to back that up, I truly believe this to be the case. Learning useful skills to work through that trauma is becoming important in order to take our health into our own hands.

In the video below, I talk a bit about how events going on in the world can make us feel anxious and worried, and how that affects our bodies, minds, and health. I also share a simple yet powerful technique for sensory grounding.

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Consciousness

Why Hugging Is Powerful: Especially When We’re So Isolated

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CE Staff Writer 6 minute read

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

When’s the last time you had a good hug? Can you even recall a time when one lasted longer than 10 or 15 seconds? Hugging releases oxytocin, a bonding hormone, as well as serotonin and endorphins. These hormones are a big part of what makes us feel good and build a sense of community and connection with others.

When we hug our friends or family, or even spend a good few hours with them, we often don’t know what exactly the mechanism is that makes us feel good, but often times it’s touch, eye contact and reading facial expressions.

Throughout COVID, once we got a sense of what it feels like to not have as much touch, see smiles, see our friends or family, we might have gained a greater awareness of how important this really is. Intense isolation, like we’ve all experienced, leads to touch deprivation, and one could argue, has led to collective traumatization throughout the course of this pandemic.

Humans biologically need touch, it’s built right into our physiology. When we are babies, touch is a crucial part of our ability to regulate our nervous systems and feel safe. When we’re very young, our bodies have not yet built the ability to self-regulate (feel safety and comfort), and thus our caregivers play the important role of not only touching to bring regulation and safety, but also using facial expressions to send the message that ‘all is OK.’

Further, humans thrive in a sense of community and connection. When we are too isolated, without a deep and dedicated practice like monk’s might do in a cave in Tibet, we begin to lose the benefits of co-regulation, and in turn our psychology can begin to suffer over time. Humans have built incredible things – together – when in community, and touch plays an important role in that.

It most cultures around the world, hugging is part of daily life. Other cultures might decide to greet one another with cheek kissing instead, but touch is often a common denominator. But it’s true, there are places that may be ‘less touch-y’ and will certainly find other ways to connect.

One thing I can say though, especially during this unprecedented time of isolation, make it a point to hug those close to you when you can. Make it a good one, 15 or 20 seconds! Pay attention to how you feel after.

As mentioned, hugging is not the only way we get a sense of co-regulation and connection. Looking into one another’s eyes, sensing facial movements and reactions are also important. We have millions of mirror neurons in our brains that are constantly reading what is happening in another person, and sending information to areas of our brain, subconsciously, that tell us how a person might be feeling, for example. When we witness someone taking an action, neurons in our brains respond to that action in the same way as if we were taking that action ourselves – hence ‘mirror neurons.’

This might mean that when we watch a nervous moment in sports for example, although we are not playing, we might take actions like covering our mouths or holding our chest, feeling the nerves the players are likely feeling. As you can imagine, this is not a perfect science. Sometimes we are nervous but the player is cool as a cucumber, but generally, mirror neurons tend to help us connect to what others are feeling or doing, giving us a sense of empathy.

It goes even deeper. Research from Institute of HeartMath has shown that the human heart emits a measurable electromagnetic field that contains information other people can pick up on and decode in their brains. Regardless of how ‘new-agey’ this might sound to some minds, it’s a reality of our physical bodies.

Just think, have you ever walked into a room with multiple people in it and noticed the energy of it? Perhaps you noticed right away it was very tense or very jovial. This sense likely comes from having an awareness of how our electro magnetic field is interacting with the collective field of the room.

What you’re feeling is how someone’s general emotional state is affecting the field they emit. The more we feel tension, anxiety, or depression for example, the more we also put that signal out into our communities. Now, this isn’t a call to get stressed out about how we’re affecting others, this is simply a realization of what’s going on.

In our current chaotic world, it’s quite common to feel anxious or uncertain about what’s happening, and acknowledging that is OK is perfectly fine. The next question becomes: how can I manage my emotional state and create a a felt sense of calm? (Which of course will change the field you emit as well.)

Managing Our Emotions & Energy

One very simple option is written at the top of the article we post here on The Pulse. It’s a simple technique I adapted from my training at HeartMath, but I added in my own flair learned from my trauma specialist training as I felt a greater focus on interception, our awareness of sensations in our body, was important to be in the mix.

As go move through your day, stop, take a breath and release the tension in your body starting from your head all the way down to your feet. Take a few moments on each muscle group if you like. Place attention on your physical heart and breathe slowly into the area for 60 seconds, focusing on feeling a sense of ease.

I wrote a much more in-depth article here, where I share more detailed steps and how this helps improve our overall energy levels as well.

Our bodies are filled with tools that sense anything from obvious to ‘unseen’ signals coming from others and our environment. These tools suggest we are beings of connection, and we thrive when we get enough of it. They also suggest it’s important to pay attention to more than just the material aspect of our world, as there is much that needs to be ‘taken care of’ in the ‘unseen.’ By that, I mean, as we manage our emotions and regulate our nervous system’s, our felt electro magnetic field communicates a different message to others out there.

What message are you sending?

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Aquarius: Rationality & Seriousness

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

We are having a Full Moon in Aquarius on July 23rd/24th. It will appear the brightest on the night of the 23rd throughout most of the world and on the night of the 24th in the time zones East of Japan. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon in Cancer on July 9th/10th.

The energies of a Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations also play a part over the following two weeks. You may start to see its themes slowly build up after the New Moon prior.

This is a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Aquarius and the Sun in Leo. It can play out as either a conflict, an integration, or some sort of dynamic between the energies of both signs. The Moon reflects the expression of feeling and emotion while the Sun reflects the expression of ego and conscious self.

We may feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us; with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Aquarius side and others expressing the Leo side. In some cases, Full Moons can also reflect/trigger some sort of change or release.

Full Moon In Aquarius Opposite Sun In Leo

Leo season began 36 hours before the Full Moon and will continue until August 22nd/23rd. This is the sign of self-expression, creativity, love, affection, children, courage, vitality, passion, leadership, generosity, and playfulness. Ruled by the Sun, it is also about shining in our power and being in alignment with what really lights us up and gets us excited.

The negative expressions of Leo can be egotistical, self-absorbed, authoritarian, dramatic, stubborn, jealous, and hot-tempered.  As it is associated with seeking praise and attention, it can be demanding of respect and be boisterous without considering or caring about how others respond to that.

The Full Moon highlights and brings the energies of the opposing sign of Aquarius into this Leo backdrop. This is the sign of friends, networks, social dynamics, social issues, groups, teams, humanity, and being in the best interest of the collective. This energy is unconventional, idealistic, innovative, progressive, scientific, original, inventive, technological, reforming, and even revolutionary.

Negatively, Aquarius can be overly detached, aloof, unemotional, and very invested in the mind at the expense of the heart. Traditionally ruled by Saturn, it can also be unyielding when it comes to the ideas and perspectives that it has already decided on.

Both Leo and Aquarius have some similarities. They are ‘Fixed’ signs and therefore can both be determined yet stubborn. They are also both associated with originality and authenticity. In Aquarius, this comes from its unconventional and innovative attributes while in Leo it comes from being inspired by its heart centred self-expression.

Full Moon Quincunx Venus, Conjunct Saturn, & Square Uranus

This Full Moon is in a quincunx with Venus which has recently entered Virgo. Our feelings, emotions, needs, or domestic lives may be at odds with friendships, values, finances, pleasure, or matters of love. It can be hard to integrate these areas but being flexible and making adjustments can be the solution.

The Full Moon is moving towards Saturn in the same sign. This can reflect a serious energy and we may be faced with limitations, restrictions, delays, or obstacles. We or others may be emotionally distant, pessimistic, or reserved. However, this can be good for some sort of effort that requires discipline, structure, and orderliness. After the Full Moon period, some of these energies will be strong again on August 1st/2nd.

Following the conjunction with Saturn, the Moon forms a square aspect with the disruptive Uranus in Taurus. This is activating the square between Saturn and Uranus that is happening throughout the year which I’ve covered in previous articles. Themes around ‘old versus new’, ‘restrictions versus freedom’, ‘the status quo versus revolution’, ‘commitments/responsibilities versus liberation’, ‘elder versus youth’, ‘progressiveness versus tradition’ and so forth.

Jupiter Going Back Into Aquarius

Jupiter entered its home sign of Pisces in mid-May for a short stint as it is returning back into Aquarius on July 28th/29th. The planet of expansion, freedom, beliefs, perspective, education, is unrestrained in Pisces and gets to express itself more ideally in this sign. We have seen examples of this as many jurisdictions loosened up covid related restrictions during this period.

With it going back into Aquarius, a traditionally Saturn ruled sign with Saturn currently present there, Jupiter will be more inhibited until late December when it re-enters Pisces again. It’s possible that during this 5 month period we will likely experience more restrictive measures return or new ones implemented. We may also experience this in different ways in our personal lives such as not being able to expand the way we’d like to. However, this might not be noticeable immediately.

The combination of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius (which began last December) can be good for building towards something or planting seeds pertaining to some sort of technological integration, social networking, collective or social pursuits, activism, new scientific approaches to things, and innovation.

Venus Square Lunar Nodes, Mars Opposite Jupiter

Venus will be in a square with the Lunar Nodes which will be strong from July 28th-30th. We may be reflecting on the past and future, or perhaps at a crossroads, when it comes to friendships, love, values, or financial matters. We may need to complete something and address what is holding us back  to help us move on and take a step forward in an evolutionary way when it comes to these areas of life. Venus is in Virgo so therefore discernment, details, practicality, health, organization, or efficiency may be key.

At this time Mars will be switching from Leo to Virgo while in an opposition to Jupiter. We may begin to feel the need to apply ourselves in a way that is more productive, sustainable, healthy, and clean. However, we can overextend ourselves and take on more than we can handle. This can also play out as conflicts around beliefs, perspectives, opinions, or judgements.

Mercury’s Superior Conjunction

Mercury will be in its Superior Conjunction on August 1st/2nd which is in an important phase of Mercury’s cycle with the Sun. From this point onward we may have a better perception around certain things that were seeded or occurred in the previous two months which may also help our momentum forward. .

Circumstances and developments that happen at this time can help us gain more clarity or facilitate necessary realizations to help us make the right decisions and appropriate mental focus. During this conjunction, the Sun and Mercury will be opposing Saturn which can play out as hindrances or the need to be pragmatic as part of this process.

Things To Consider

How can you balance or integrate your personal passions with the needs of the collective? How can you resolve any conflicts between leadership and a team or group? Are you experiencing any challenges or conflict between your heart and intellect? What areas of your life do you need to be more orderly, structured, disciplined, or take more seriously? Is there anything that you need to separate from? How can you apply yourself in a more noble way?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up or ways to approach this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release, it is best to do so after it begins to wane following the peak or during the two weeks afterwards when it is waning before the next New Moon. The exact peak of this Full Moon is at 2:37am Universal Time on July 24th, night of the 23rd. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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