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How You Can Find Love & Peace In The Process of Divorce

Divorce doesn’t have to be messy if the decision and actions by both parties, come from a space of compassion.

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Whenever I’ve told friends that my partner and I were separating, the overwhelming response was, “Oh my god! What happened? You guys were such a great couple!”

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There’s an assumption that there had to be “something” that “broke us up”, but the truth was, after over 20 years, whether we wanted it or not, our paths had diverged.

It was the clearest moment when I knew that it was over. I wanted something. He didn’t want it. There was a passive power struggle (we were both peace-keepers). And the realization hit me that we now wanted different things in life. Twenty-two years ago, we wanted the same things in life and perhaps our paths had started separating years before. But we weren’t willing to look at the divergence because we both believe strongly in the institution of marriage.

It’s normal to have ups and downs, right? We were taught to take the good times with the bad, right? These sayings had kept these thoughts of separation at bay for a long time… But they just weren’t making sense anymore.

Note: Although I am now talking about this easily and objectively, I don’t want to pretend that it felt easy at the time. There was still sadness, anger, emotional pain, and real grief after we were actually living separately. We aren’t robots. We had been in love, emotionally connected, and pretty dependent on each other for a long time. This is no small thing to separate from.

The End of “Till Death Do You Part”

I realized that, besides not wanting to hurt my husband, it was actually my pride that was my greatest obstacle to leaving.

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I was known as a spiritual teacher, I did marriage counselling, and I taught tantra. What would it look like to others if I ended my marriage? Would I be considered a failure? Would everything I taught suddenly not have merit? This was a massive hurdle for me to overcome.

As I wrestled with this, I picked the brains of people I respected. I researched writings on marriage. And I prayed a lot.

The ultimate answer that came was that separating was not a failure. It was simply the natural response to what the truth was between a couple. That’s all. The idea of “till death do you part” had nothing to do with what was real between the couple. Historically, it actually began as a financial agreement between two men for the caring of a daughter.

There was a time, in some cultures, when a young man would ask a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage. If the answer was yes, the father would give land, money or some kind of dowry to the young man (because women couldn’t own anything) with the promise that the young man would take care of his daughter until his very last breath… makes sense. And then, at the wedding, it was (and still is) customary for the father to “give” his daughter away… Hmmm.

Many cultures have some version of this where a promise had to be made so that the legal and financial union must stay intact for life. On the positive side, this could have been since women were not able to work and therefore couldn’t be financially independent. Or, on a darker note, maybe it was due to a sense of ownership of each other or imposed for the need to control by the church and state.

The quality of the relationship was often not important at all. Difficulties, violence, control, cruelty, manipulation, sadness, depression, and extra-marital affairs were all normal – which makes sense – because although there might have been love in the beginning, it certainly wasn’t the quality of the love that was going to keep them together. We were legally bound for life. It wasn’t until the early twentieth century that divorce even became legal in North America. And in many cultures and religions today it still isn’t allowed.

So I soon began to realize that separating wasn’t actually a failure. The idea that the end of a marriage is a failure came from a previous time and an old system where you weren’t allowed out of the agreement. Leaving could have meant being destitute, disowned and the end of any kind of “decent” life. Being able to survive, even in an abusive relationship, definitely became a sign of strength and a real test of personal endurance.

But times are different now.

Staying Together While Separated

We chose to stay living together for a year even though we had agreed that we were separating. We had two of our own children plus four more teenagers living with us. The other teens were our kids’ friends who couldn’t live at home for many reasons and had chosen to move in with us. So, if we actually physically separated at that time, we had 6 teenagers to split between us or find homes for. Since they were all at the end of high-school and ready to leave the nest in a year, we chose to stay and enjoy our family of eight and see how it went.

During this time, I had two main goals with our separation. One, I wanted to really honour the 20 years we had together. And two, I wanted to be able to share my struggles that I hadn’t been able to share before, partially to have healing between us and because who are we kidding, I just really wanted him to know.

Honouring The Marriage

If you have ever been married or been in any kind of serious relationship, you know how easy it is to count the “bad” days. And unfortunately, in the process of deciding to end a marriage, it is adding up the “bad” days that give us the momentum to actually leave (and unfortunately, this is also what others want to hear about so that they know “what happened”.)

But the truth was, our marriage was really wonderful. We had been through so much together. We had milked cows and farmed together for 16 years. He was an incredible support for me when so many people including my mom and all my grandparents had died. We had wonderful children together. We shared the same favourite TV shows, we laughed and had more inside jokes together than we will ever remember.

Were there also things that weren’t so hot? Sure.

We all come into relationships with our “stuff”. We have patterns that we learned from our parents, past-lives, karma, “sins of the forefathers”, etc. Sometimes I think that it is such a blessing to have so much love (and passionate sex) in the beginning because it helps smooth out the difficulties of bringing so many challenges into such an intimate relationship.

Plus, we were in our early 20s when we got married. We’d never done it before and so, we truly did the best we could.

In the end, I really wanted us to remember all of the good times. I didn’t want us to forget how wonderful all those years had been too. Because if you’re going to remember anything, those are the memories worth bringing forward.

Being Honest About My Struggles

In no way do I blame my ex-husband (A term I really dislike, I wish there was a nicer word for this) because I too, came into our marriage with “stuff”.

One of my greatest issues was being an eternal peace-keeper. Of course, that is the nice way to put it. The other way to say it is that I avoided conflict at all cost. If I was angry about something and nothing got resolved, well, I just let it go. I didn’t want to stay angry. I understood where he was coming from. So, I swept it under the rug. I kind of let it go.

But after 20 years, I had swept a lot under the rug. (Or maybe I’d swept a couple of things under the rug a thousand times.) Was he a part of it? Sure. Was I a part of it? Yes. But now, since I had no reason to “keep the peace”, I was able to stand stronger about the things that had been bothering me. We had to have difficult conversations because there was no longer a rug to sweep anything under. That time had passed.

But we were as kind as possible. And truthfully, we resolved a lot. We were very lucky for the healing and closure that we got.

But You Teach Tantra. Couldn’t Tantra Heal your Relationship?

This is the million-dollar question. The answer is yes, and no.

We had explored a lot of tantra together. We had had incredible tantric intimacy and amazing healing times (lots of detail about this in my book: Tantric Intimacy). Tantra had deepened the loving connection between us. But that doesn’t mean that we were meant to still live together.

The foundation of tantra is about being fully spiritual in a very physical world. In a relationship, this directly affects the quality of the love connection between you. Both of these aspects of tantra were in full expression throughout our separation (and continues today).

During our separation, there were many days that were really hard. I didn’t want to talk about splitting the money. I didn’t want to talk about the kids. Each one of these conversations felt so painful. I would have preferred avoiding them altogether, which of course is impossible.

And so I would pray. I would meditate. I would ask inside for the kind words to broach these really hard topics. I would ask for the right timing, “would we talk about the money today? Or tomorrow? Or next week? How should we split the finances?” Etc. I sat in silence a lot, waiting for the answers to find the most loving, peaceful way through.

And the answers always came. Perhaps today was the day. And so I would ask him if we could talk about it, and the answer was yes. And the discussion would go flawlessly, not without tears, but it was smooth. And this is how all the issues were resolved.

In terms of a “tantric connection”, we simply had it. We maintained a loving connection throughout the process. Choosing to live together has nothing to do with whether we had a loving connection. We can have loving connections with thousands of people that we don’t live with. And we can always choose kindness.

Once, we had worked out how to split the finances and what it would look like with the kids, we walked over to the courthouse and asked if we could fill out the paperwork so that we could get a divorce. We were smiling and giggling and joking with each other. The woman behind the desk just stared at us.

Eventually she said that were weren’t allowed to get a divorce without lawyers because we owned properties and had children. Oh.

So, I asked around and found a lawyer who was well-known for taking care of amicable divorces. I showed her our agreement, she wrote it up, assigned a lawyer to look at it on my husband’s behalf, and very soon, the paperwork was complete. The separation and divorce was final. And we were still hanging out with our six kids at home.

It was quite a surreal time.

Today, we are still great friends. His girlfriend is a woman whom I’ve been friends with for a long time. There’s no fighting about the kids because we all just stay together for Christmas and holidays. They come to my family functions, we hang out and it’s actually really, really wonderful.

Is This Possible For Everyone?

Unfortunately, no. For the two of us, our deepest desire was to still be loving towards each other. So, that is exactly what happened.

But for many people, being loving isn’t their deepest desire. They want to hurt the other. There are power struggles. There is history to “make the other pay for”. There is no desire to be kind. The divorce is as messy as the marriage was as well– at least under the surface.

I only tell this story as a possibility. To share my struggle with feeling like I had failed – when in fact, I hadn’t.

To share a possibility of a graceful way to lovingly separate.

Of course, there are always a few couples out there who have been happily married for 65 years and their beaming faces show us just how in love they are after all these years.

This too, is a possibility. And it is certainly a success in some ways.

But it’s just one possibility. There are many kinds of success.

To be loving in all circumstances.

To be honest in each moment.

And to always choose kindness.

These are the greatest successes.

Katrina Bos

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Awareness

Research Shows We Can Heal With Vibration, Frequency & Sound

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Multiple studies and examples have shown how sound, frequency and vibration can literally alter physical material matter. Research has also shown that sound, frequencies and vibration can be used as a significant healing method for various ailments.

  • Reflect On:

    How plausible would it be for these interventions to become a regular part of therapy, just as much as pharmaceutical drugs are now?

Cymatics is a very interesting topic. It illustrates how sound frequencies move through a particular medium such as water, air, or sand and as a result directly alter physical matter. There are a number of pictures all over the internet as well as youtube videos that demonstrate how matter (particles) adjust to different sounds and different frequencies of sound.

When it comes to ancient knowledge, sound, frequency and vibration have always been perceived as powerful forces that can influence and alter life all the way down to the cellular level. Sound healing methods are often used by Shamans, who employ drums and singing to access trance states. Research has even demonstrated that drumming and singing can can be used to slow fatal brain disease, and it can generate a sense of oneness with the universe . Sound therapy is getting more popular, and it can have many medical applications, especially within the psychological and mental health realms.

Sound, frequency and vibration are used all throughout the animal kingdom, and there are many examples. If we look at the wasp, they use antennal drumming to alter the caste development or phenotype of their larvae. Conventional thinking has held for quite some time that differential nutrition alone can explain why one larvae develops into a non-reproductive worker and one into a reproductive female (gyne).  However, this is not the case, according to a 2011 study:

“But nutrition level alone cannot explain how the first few females to be produced in a colony develop rapidly yet have small body sizes and worker phenotypes. Here, we provide evidence that a mechanical signal biases caste toward a worker phenotype. In Polistes fuscatus, the signal takes the form of antennal drumming (AD), wherein a female trills her antennae synchronously on the rims of nest cells while feeding prey-liquid to larvae. The frequency of AD occurrence is high early in the colony cycle, when larvae destined to become workers are being reared, and low late in the cycle, when gynes are being reared. Subjecting gyne-destined brood to simulated AD-frequency vibrations caused them to emerge as adults with reduced fat stores, a worker trait. This suggests that AD influences the larval developmental trajectory by inhibiting a physiological element that is necessary to trigger diapause, a gyne trait.”

This finding indicates that the acoustic signals produced through drumming within certain species carry biologically meaningful information (literally: ‘to put form into’) that operate epigenetically (i.e. working outside or above the genome to affect gene expression).

Pretty fascinating, isn’t it? Like many other ancient lines of thought, this has been backed by modern day scientific research.

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Cancer 

Another example comes from cancer research. In his Tedx talk, “Shattering Cancer with Resonant Frequencies,” Associate Professor and Director of Music at Skidmore College, Anthony Holland, tells the audience that he has a dream. That dream is to see a future where children no longer have to suffer from the effects of toxic cancer drugs or radiation treatment, and today he and his team believe they have found the answer, and that answer is sound. Holland and his team wondered if they could affect a cell by sending a specific electric signal, much like we do with LCD technology. After searching the patent database for a device that could accomplish this, they came across a therapeutic device invented by New Mexico physician Dr. James Bare. The device uses a plasma antenna that pulses on and off, which, as Holland explains, is important because a constant pulse of electricity would produce too much heat and therefore destroy the cell. For the next 15 months, Holland and his team searched for the exact frequency that would directly shatter a living microorganism. The magic number finally came in the form of two inputs, one high frequency and one low. The high frequency had to be exactly eleven times higher than the low, which in music is known as the 11th harmonic. At the 11th harmonic, micro organisms begin to shatter like crystal glass.

After consistently practicing until they became efficient at the procedure, Holland began working with a team of cancer researchers in an attempt to destroy targeted cancer cells. First they looked at pancreatic cancer cells, eventually discovering these cells were specifically vulnerable between 100,000 – 300,000 Hz.

Next they moved onto leukemia cells, and they were able to shatter the leukemia cells before they could divide. But, as Holland explains in his talk, he needed bigger stats in order to make the treatment a viable option for cancer patients.

In repeated and controlled experiments, the frequencies, known as oscillating pulsed electric field (OPEF) technology, killed an average of 25% to 40% of leukemia cells, going as high as 60% in some cases. Furthermore, the intervention even slowed cancer cell growth rates up to 65%.

You can read more about the story, find sources, and watch that TEDx talk here.

Another example occurred in  1981, when biologist Helene Grimal partnered with composer Fabien Maman to study the relationship of sound waves to living cells. For 18 months, the pair worked with the effects of 30-40 decibel sounds on human cells. With a camera mounted on a microscope, the researchers observed uterine cancer cells exposed to different acoustic instruments (guitar, gong, xylophone) as well as the human voice for 20-minute sessions.

They discovered that, when exposed to sound, cancer cells lost structural integrity until they exploded at the 14-minute mark. Far more dramatic was the sound of a human voice — the cells were destroyed at the nine-minute mark.

After this, they decided to work with two women with breast cancer. For one month, both of the women gave three-and-a-half-hours a day to “toning” or singing the scale. Apparently, the woman’s tumor became undetectable, and the other woman underwent surgery. Her surgeon reported that her tumor had shrunk dramatically and “dried up.” It was removed and the woman had a complete recovery and remission.

These are only a few out of multiple examples that are floating around out there.

Let’s not forget about when Royal Rife first identified the human cancer virus using the world’s most powerful microscope. After identifying and isolating the virus, he decided to culture it on salted pork. At the time this was a very good method for culturing a virus. He then took the culture and injected it into 400 rats, which, as you might expect, created cancer in all 400 rats very quickly. The next step for Rife was where things took an interesting turn. He later found a frequency of electromagnetic energy that would cause the cancer virus to diminish completely when entered into the energy field.  You can read more about that story here.

More Research

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease found that two months of drumming intervention in Huntington’s patients (considered an irreversible, lethal neurodegenerative disease) resulted in “improvements in executive function and changes in white matter microstructure, notably in the genu of the corpus callosum that connects prefrontal cortices of both hemispheres.” The study authors concluded that the pilot study provided novel preliminary evidence that drumming (or related targeted behavioral stimulation) may result in “cognitive enhancement and improvements in callosal white matter microstructure.”

A 2011 Finnish study observed that stroke patients who were given access to music as cognitive therapy had improved recovery. Other research has shown that patients suffering from loss of speech due to brain injury or stroke regain it more quickly by learning to sing before trying to speak. The phenomenon of music facilitating healing in the brain after a stroke is called the “Kenny Rogers Effect.”

A 2012 study published in Evolutionary Psychology found that active performance of music (singing, dancing and drumming) triggered endorphin release (measured by post-activity increases in pain tolerance), whereas merely listening to music did not. The researchers hypothesized that this may contribute to community bonding in activities involving dance and music-making.

According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, “Music effectively reduces anxiety for medical and surgical patients and often reduces surgical and chronic pain. [Also,] Providing music to caregivers may be a strategy to improve empathy, compassion, and care.” In other words, music is not only good for patients, it’s good for those who care for them as well.

Below is an interesting interview with Dr. Bruce Lipton. You can view his curriculum vitae here.

What About The Mind?

A few years ago, these scientists held an International Summit on Post-Materialist Science, and created a manifesto to explain its significance. The scientists involved were Mario Beauregard, PhD (University of Arizona), Gary E. Schwartz, PhD (University of Arizona), and Lisa Miller, PhD (Columbia University), in collaboration with Larry Dossey, MD, Alexander Moreira-Almeida, MD, PhD, Marilyn Schlitz, PhD, Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, and Charles Tart, PhD.

There are hundreds of published peer-reviewed publications showing statistically significant results for this type of science, yet unfortunately, it is still shunned by mainstream academia, even though so many mainstream academic scientists support it. What is going on here?

The idea that the mind affects physical material reality is not trivial, and it’s been demonstrated repeatedly with statistically significant results through fascinating research undertaken by government programs, places like the Institute of Noetic Sciences (founded by Dr. Edgar Mitchell), and, in more recent developments, the group of internationally recognized scientists mentioned above.

Many studies have been conducted in these realms as well. Let’s look at water.

Experiments over the past four decades have investigated whether human intention alone can affect the properties of water. This question has been of interest to alternative medicine research, because the human body is made up of approximately 70% water. Interest in this topic has been rekindled recently by multiple researchers suggesting that intentionally influenced water can be detected by examining ice crystals formed from samples of that water. Scientists have hypothesized and shown that water influenced by intention can indeed influence the physical formation of the ice crystals that water produces. Consistent results commonly point to the idea that positive intentions tend to produce symmetric, well-formed, aesthetically pleasing crystals, and negative intentions tend to produce asymmetric, poorly formed, and unattractive crystals.

Dean Radin, the Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, along with Masaru Emoto, Takashige Kizu, and Nancy Lund, designed an experiment that tested this hypothesis.

As the study’s description reads:

Over three days, 1,900 people in Austria and Germany focused their intentions towards water samples located inside an electromagnetically shielded room in California. Water samples located near the target water, but unknown to the people providing intentions, acted as ‘‘proximal’’ controls. Other samples located outside the shielded room acted as distant controls. Ice drops formed from samples of water in the different treatment conditions were photographed by a technician, each image was assessed for aesthetic beauty by over 2,500 independent judges, and the resulting data were analyzed, all by individuals blind with respect to the underlying treatment conditions. Results suggested that crystal images in the intentionally treated condition were rated as aesthetically more beautiful than proximal control crystals (p < 0.03, one-tailed). This outcome replicates the results of an earlier pilot test.

You can access the full study here.

If thought alone does indeed have an effect on physical material reality, just imagine what it could do to our body? Something to think about

The Takeaway

The information presented in this article isn’t even the tip of the iceberg when it comes the the medical applications of sound, frequency and vibration, which are all obviously correlated. One thing is clear, however, which is that there are many more methods out there, like the ones discussed in this article, that should be taken more seriously and given more attention from the medical establishment. It seems all mainstream medicine is concerned about is making money and developing medications that don’t seem to be representative of our fullest potential to heal. “Alternative” therapies shouldn’t be labelled as alternative, they should be incorporated into the norm.

Other sources used

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Consciousness

Negative Thinking Can Be An Addiction – Here’s How How You Can Break The Cycle

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    We all think negative thoughts on a regular basis as our minds are wired to do so. This is a habit that we can gain control over, the first step is awareness.

  • Reflect On:

    Negative thoughts tend to repeat themselves over and over. The first step to overcoming this addictive behavior is to become aware of these thought patterns. The only way out is through.

Have you ever noticed how much time you spend thinking negative thoughts? Either dwelling on events of the past or ruminating about the future, these thoughts seem to infiltrate our minds and feed off themselves and can even become addictive.

Most of us would claim that we do want happiness, yet over and over again we choose suffering; and this isn’t to say that we should merely stop these negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Only thinking positive thoughts could be considered spiritual bypassing and won’t bring us to our desired happiness either. We continuously return to our suffering because in our minds we are trying to make the negative experiences come out a different way, even though this is not possible.

In an effort to figure out how to let go of our pain, we end up grasping onto it.

From Psychology Today, author Nancy Colier states,

“Pain is also profoundly intertwined with our sense of identity. We remind ourselves of our pain as a way of keeping alive our personal narrative, our story of me, what’s happened to me, and my life. We’re deeply attached to our stories of suffering; you could say we love our pain. As a result, we’re reluctant to let it go, to stop bringing it back into the present moment, even when it’s no longer useful or active. To do so would be to lose touch with who we believe we fundamentally are, what makes us us. “

Learn To Feel The Feelings The Painful Thoughts Bring

In the short term, it may be easier to think over and over again about our painful memories, embarrassing moments, wondering “what if?” But eventually we will become these thoughts and believe we are those thoughts. They will just come back again and again and again until we can learn how to truly let them go. The mind will go through great lengths to avoid actually feeling our pain, perhaps in an effort to protect us, which we can potentially have gratitude for. Perhaps we can even choose to say: thank you ego/mind for protecting me, but I’d like to explore these feelings that are inside of me.

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So What Can We Do?

One might feel as though they wish they could just stop these negative thoughts altogether, but until they are acknowledged, these thoughts won’t stop. Perhaps in reading this article, you will remember or gain the awareness to notice just how repetitive some of your thoughts are. Next time your mind gets stuck you can say “No, I’m not going there right now,” but be sure to notice any feelings that come up at the same time.

We can practice mindfulness and separate our thoughts from ourselves. Instead of identifying deeply with the thought, we can choose to be the mere observer, the one who is noticing that the thought is happening. So instead of “I’m so stupid, I can’t believe I didn’t jump at that opportunity I was given, typical me, always too afraid to take a leap,” or whatever it may be, we can step back from our thought and say, “I notice that I am having a thought that I am not good enough, now I can observe where this thought is coming from and identify the feelings that are attached to it, feel them fully, and let them pass.”

The Only Way Out Is Through…

If you want to begin breaking these negative thought cycles of the mind, the first thing to realize is that the only way out is through, and if we wish to truly end these thoughts and let go of this pain we are carrying, then we in fact need to face them directly and not just continuously dwell on them.

The only way to do that is to actually feel the feelings and emotions that the painful thoughts are bringing up. Identify how the thoughts are making you feel, even say, “I feel sad about ______ .” Then, you don’t need to think or say anything at all, you can just allow the feeling to be felt, in all its intensity, and maybe you cry, maybe you start laughing uncontrollably, or maybe nothing happens at all. When you give your feelings and emotions the space to be acknowledged and felt — and practice loving kindness and compassion to yourself — these feelings and even those negative thoughts will become quieter and quieter. Because as stated earlier, “the only way out is through.”

This Takes Practice

Please be gentle with yourself, and don’t kick yourself if you can’t grasp this right away, as you could be trying to break through decades worth of addiction to these negative thought patterns. Having awareness is the very first step towards dealing with this. So, if you can begin to simply notice these repetitive thought patterns, this is an excellent first step! Over time it will become easier and easier and soon you will be able to separate yourself from your thoughts, become the observer, and allow yourself to feel your feelings, in all of their glorious intensity, and eventually be able to let them go completely.

You got this.

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Consciousness

The 10 Spiritual Realms According To An Ancient Japanese Buddhist Priest

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One night in the early days of my six-month tenure managing a holistic healing retreat center in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico, our community gathered as we always do for the evening activity. This evening’s activity focused on a discussion of the ten spiritual realms. The person sharing his knowledge on the subject was a short Italian traveller and devout Buddhist named Lorenzo.

His claim to fame at the retreat center was being voted most likely to be found chanting the mantra  “Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō,” which means “Devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra” or “Glory to the Sutra of the Lotus of the Supreme Law.” In his words: “Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō is a vow, an expression of determination, to embrace and manifest our Buddha nature. It is a pledge to oneself to never yield to difficulties and to win over one’s suffering. At the same time, it is a vow to help others reveal this law in their own lives and achieve happiness.”

This is the central mantra chanted within all forms of Nichiren Buddhism and Tendai Buddhism. The practice of prolonged chanting is referred to as shōdai, while the purpose of chanting daimoku is to reduce sufferings by eradicating negative karma along with reducing karmic punishments both from previous and present lifetimes, with the goal to attain perfect and complete awakening. Sometimes he would be found chanting this mantra for hours at a time. This was his “thing” and we loved him for it!

In the very beginning of his talk he looked at each of us wide-eyed and asked the group: “Has anyone here ever been in hell?” I looked around the room and after a few seconds of waiting, slowly raised my hand. Without hesitation, he looked me directly in the eyes and said “Good! Now you can help others get out.” There are few things that people have said to me throughout my life that I know will stay with me forever; this was one of them. So began our intro to the ten spiritual realms.

The 10 Spiritual Realms as described by Nichiren Daishonin are listed below. Broken into two parts, the first six (Hell, Hunger, Animality, Anger, Humanity, and Heaven) are derived from the Indian concept of the six realms of rebirth. Above these lie the four holy states (Learning, Realization, Bodhisattva, and Buddhahood).

Ten Spiritual Realms:

1. Hell or Jigokudō: A state of suffering and despair in which we perceive we have no freedom of action. It is characterized by the impulse to destroy ourselves and everything around us. It is also commonly referred to being in a state of mind completely absent of hope and being unable to construct our future in our minds.

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2. Hunger, Hungry Ghosts, or Pretas: The state of being controlled by insatiable desire for money, power, status etc. While desires are inherent in any of the Ten Worlds, in this state we are at the mercy of our cravings and cannot control them.

3. Animality, Beasts, or Chikushōdō: In this state, we are ruled by instinct with neither reason nor moral sense nor the ability to make long-range judgments. We operate by the law of the jungle and will not hesitate to take advantage of those weaker than ourselves and fawn on those who are stronger.

4. Anger, Titans, Asuras, or Shuradō: Here, awareness of ego emerges, but it is a selfish, greedy, distorted ego, determined to best others at all costs and seeing everything as a potential threat to itself. In this state we value only ourselves and tend to hold others in contempt.

5. Humanity or Jindō (also known as Tranquility): This is a flat, passive state of life, from which we can easily shift into the lower four worlds. While we may generally behave in a humane fashion in this state, we are highly vulnerable to strong external influences.

6. Heaven: This is a state of intense joy stemming, for example, from the fulfillment of some desire, a sense of physical well being, or inner contentment. Though intense, the joy experienced in this state is short-lived and also vulnerable to external influences.

7. Learning, Śrāvaka, or Shōmon: In this state, we seek the truth through studying the teachings or experience of others.

8. Realization, Pratyekabuddha, or Engaku: In this state we seek the truth not through others’ teachings, but through our own direct perception of the world.

9. Bodhisattva or Bosatsu: Those who aspire to achieve enlightenment and at the same time are equally determined to enable all other beings to do the same. Conscious of the bonds that link us to all others, in this state we realize that any happiness we alone enjoy is incomplete, and we devote ourselves to alleviating others’ suffering. Those in this state find their greatest satisfaction in altruistic behaviour.

10. Buddhahood: A dynamic state that is difficult to describe. We can partially describe it as a state of perfect freedom, in which we are enlightened to the ultimate truth of life. It is characterized by infinite compassion and boundless wisdom. In this state, we can resolve harmoniously what appear from the standpoint of the nine worlds to be insoluble contradictions.

A Buddhist sutra describes the attributes of the Buddha’s life as a true self, perfect freedom from karmic bonds throughout eternity, a life purified of illusion, and absolute happiness.

10 Worlds Description Source: http://www.sgi.org/resources/introductory-materials/ten-worlds.html

Be Your Own Guru

Personally, I feel that understanding the difference between each of these realms and integrating the lessons learned by visiting them all can inspire rapid personal growth. As someone who has set out on a seemingly unending quest for personal and spiritual development years ago, I have learned quite a few things in my travels. One of the greatest lessons was how to truly listen to others, but ensure that their thoughts don’t become my own unless they align with my personal truth.

In my experience, individuals who lack control over their own emotions and actions tend to feel the need to push their own ideas, agendas, and influences onto others. When it comes to giving advice, I appreciate Tony Robbins’ approach on this subject. As he would say, “I am not your guru,” but if talking with me can help you realize what steps you need to take in order to better your own life without harming others, then great! I’m not you. I have no idea what you’re going through, but if I can assist in removing mental blockages to get you to where you need to become your own guru, then that’s a beautiful thing.

Learning Through Suffering

It is essential to take some time and look at the positive aspect of suffering. The creative forces inside each and every one of us seem to be activated when we are experiencing difficult times. Have you ever wondered why you prefer the earlier work of your favourite musicians? Did you ever think maybe it has to do with the fact that they were “hungry artists,” channeling their own pain and utilizing it as a source of creativity while desperately trying to make their mark on the music scene? Once I realized this a while back, I always make sure to look for the lesson to learn and wonder how I can use that seemingly negative energy to create something beautiful in times of despair.

We will constantly revisit these realms, sometimes many of them throughout the course of a single day or even only a few hours. Just because we’ve previously attained the higher spiritual worlds doesn’t mean we won’t revisit the other lower ones later on in life. By developing a deeper understanding of these states of mind, we are better equipped to conquer them.

What Makes Someone “Spiritual”?

So let’s say that you meditate and do yoga daily, you pray for the wellbeing of others, you don’t eat meat, you go to farmers markets, buy locally sourced produce, wear conscious-made sustainable clothing, have a vast collection of Lumerian Quartz Crystals for your shrine, have full moon ceremonies with your soul tribe, and attend Burning Man every year. Does that make you spiritual? Not exactly, at least not in my opinion. These are, however, things that many people do as part of their spiritual path. However, for me, spirituality is defined simply as being someone whose highest priority is to love themself and others. That’s it. If you do all the aforementioned things, but you’re still an asshole to other people, sorry, but you’re doing it wrong.

The basic principles of spirituality are at the core of every religion and often referred to as the “Golden Rule.” It has been taught for millennia and is most well known in the phrase “Do unto others as you would have them undo to you.” Nothing has changed from this Golden Rule other than the verbiage, as you can see in the diagram below.

At the end of the day, I view truly spiritual people as those who have been through hell themselves and want nothing more than to help others get out because they know what it’s like. These are beings that help others with humility and don’t allow a self-serving ego to subsist within their being. Killing the ego is not a phrase I like to use. The ego is part of our personality and who we are as human beings; however, we must keep it in check to ensure that it exists to serve us so that we may serve others. Now that’s being spiritual as fuck!

Check out my travel blog to follow my journey and other adventures from some of the most inspiring people I’ve met along the way! www.FollowingFreebird.com

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