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Tag Archives: suffering

Find the Helpers: 5 of The Best Spiritual Teachers for Hard Times

best spiritual teachers for hard times

Change and chaos seem to be in the air. It’s certainly a part of my immediate experience, and I hear stories of it all around me, including from many people in this community, judging by the emails I receive and the comments I see on articles.

If my last few months has taught me anything, it’s that it is critical to be constantly building your spiritual practice, especially when things are going great.  It’s a path that you need to devote time to constantly because there is no such thing as a life free of obstacles. Practice now, so that when the glorious drama faces you down, you can sit quietly with it.

We always the choice of TV or meditation, a weekend with the family or a weekend retreat. It can seem selfish, even to take that time. But to have a foundation when the rug gets pulled out, that is how we can handle life.  How do we deal with curve balls like radical change, grief, betrayal, financial problems, etc?  With a practice. Silence, sitting, listening, leaning on friends and family.

I’ve found myself passing on these resources that I use (below) to a lot friends and family and people I see in person, so I wanted to them with our readers at too. Click the links on the name to find out more about each:

1)  Carolyn Myss. Could it be that whatever you are stuck in or not facing is a self-esteem issue? Even if you think it’s not, you may change your mind when you listen to her “Self-Esteem” seminar on She is powerful and no-nonsense. I’d recommend it to anyone.

2) Jack Kornfield. Really hard times hitting you? Have a listen to his “A Lamp In the Darkness” book on tape.  The book itself is fantastic, but he has one of the best Zen Buddhist voices out there, so hearing it is amazing. I’ve listened to it several times. Check out his book or audiobook on our Amazon site.

3) Byron Katie.  Her way of thinking is seen by some as ‘radical.’  I personally find it practical.  She was helping people realize the truth about themselves and their stories long before Oprah made that approach to dealing with our suffering popular. Her website has some great info on her and her ways. But I’d highly recommend going to one of her retreats and doing “The Work” with her in person. Absolutely life-changing.

4) Jeff Foster. Wow. We’ve run a few of his articles on, and also sell his book “The Deepest Acceptance” on our Amazon store.  Sign up for Jeff Foster quotes on Facebook if you want to get a good idea of how he can help.

5) Rumi. This ancient sage literally wrote the books on personal healing. He must be one of the most quoted sages on Facebook. We sell his books on our Amazon store too. We’ve got Rumi’s 15 most inspiration art card quotes here.

I’ve read and re-read these above resources many times.  And knowing myself as I do now, I’m aware that the me 10 years ago would be a proverbial mess of resistance, fear and confusion right now.

I’m grateful to have the tools to go through this change. It’s helped me remain (mostly) calm, reflective, open to possibility and to have an absolute sense that while my world might read like an intense drama today, I can also choose the thought that right now, I have this very moment that is real and full of beauty between the cracks and it will never be here or be the same again. I am creating my life, and these other things, these words, are just part of a story, an ending which I can’t know, but one that I am sure I can weather, learn from, and come out stronger on the end.  Our stories are important, but they only define us if we let them. Do your work when you can, look for help when you need it. There are always helpers out there. Seek them, have faith in yourself — and support yourself and others in practice.

What teachers do you turn to in hard times? Please share with others below!



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The Key to Surviving a Spiritual Wasteland

stages of spiritual development


By Ben Riggs

I have been in a dry spell for well over six months now. It is painful. I cannot write, meditation seems misplaced or emaciated, prayer is mechanical. I feel disconnected.

There is no solution. The solution—meditation, writing, and prayer—seems as trite as drinking a soda or watching a funny movie. There is no where to turn. It seems hopeless and hopelessness is terrifying. At times I tremble because there are no words, and words are the great anesthetic. They have the capacity to distance me from the piercing immediacy Reality.

Interestingly enough it is this terror that lets me know I am exactly where I am suppose to be.

It is almost as if the soul is de-toxing— a Dark Night, of sorts. On a dark night there is only one light, honesty, which means that the shroud of darkness has been cast by deception.

As my life unfolds my egos adapt. They evolve, incorporating the body’s wisdom into their conscious framework. The articulation of insight—what the ego thinks about Being—becomes just another credential or means of identification. Before long, I have migrated from the life of the body into the arid and desolate wasteland of a false image.

There is no creativity and inspiration; only stagnant slogans and feeble spiritual technologies used to embalm and preserve the false image. The ego is forever trying to maintain comfort and destroy discomfort. But at a certain point in the human journey we must learn to relate to our discomfort or explore the world beyond the basic limitations imposed by the ego.

I imprison myself when I refuse to acknowledge the world extending itself beyond my conscious system of identification. The ego seeks to maximize pleasure and reduce discomfort. A “spiritual ego” tries to do this using “spiritual technologies” like meditation, prayer, yoga, etc. I trap myself when I refuse to acknowledge the impotence of this strategy—the simple fact that all the spiritual practices in the world cannot organize life into one great big thrill ride, devoid of uncomfortable experiences.

Suffering is what fuels the spiritual journey, because it is what invites us to open up or get honest. Suffering makes it impossible to pretend that we have our shit together. It breaks down our pretenses and forces us to see our how futile all of our planning and strategizing have been. That there is safety or security to be won. Suffering opens our eyes and forces us to see that we are fundamentally vulnerable. Suffering, the dark night, invites us to be honest. This willingness to be honest reconnects us with reality, with the present moment. It enables us to rejoin our journey.

The human journey is not about escaping the darkness, but learning how to shine light on those dark corners of our life. Basic honesty is our lamp. Basic honesty is incredibly practical. You cannot see. You cannot figure it out. It is like being in a strange house during a power outage; all you can do is slowly feel your way through the living room. This feeling through is the meaning of faith or basic honesty. It is trust.

Every journey begins in darkness or confusion. It is about working with the confusion, not obliterating it.

We’ll be sharing this one with friends on the (sometimes rough) journey to enlightenment, will you? 

Guest Columnist Ben Riggs

You can catch Ben putting his perspective on the spiritual path at Web of Enlightenment - one of our favorite blogs. It’s high on honesty, low on bullish*t.  Find out more about Ben here and be sure to visit him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Miracles: Happening Now In Your Presence

You live Now. You live in the present, You always do. There is no other way to in the now

Those who are not Alive are asleep – numbed to the infinite unfolding experience, vast and fecund and rife with vibration. Life happens upon them. They cry out as victims to circumstance, bemoaning the happening, pushing it away. Resistance creates atrophy. Atrophy begets death.

Anyone who is suffering does so by attempting to push themselves to exist somewhere other than fully present in Now, fixating on a Then – the past or the future. This fixation pulls them through the spiral of time space into an energetic torsion. By holding on to a time space other than Now, they unwittingly hurt themselves, like strapping into a torture rack, the ends of which being ever-increasing distances of time. This attachment to another time space is the basis of suffering.

When we can let go of these other time spaces and just Be Here Now, suffering ceases. Any pain we experience becomes merely sensation, vibration. Because the experience of pain merely Is. Suffering while experiencing pain is projecting pain onto the future. This prophetic projection is irrelevant, because it’s accuracy is unreliable.

Our brains are good at extrapolation, and that can be a very useful function. Monkey see, monkey do. Human see, human learn what to do instead to align to preferred outcome. The extrapolation into the future based on recognition of past outcome is a useful human capacity. But the forecast is just that – a casting into the future that which happened before. This statistical inference is solely based on patterned data of past occurrences – not presence to what’s happening Now.

The good news is, the universe is vastly more intricate than we could ever fully predict the potentiality of. Even though likelihoods have proven reliable in the past they will continually hold little relevance to the present. This is how so-called miracles happen.

The antidote to suffering? Watch and allow. This is the “witness consciousness” we are told of. It says, “oh, this is happening. Okay. Let’s see what happens next.” It is accepting what is and allowing what unfolds.  Any practice that cultivates both awareness and equanimity strengthens this ability.

Some suspect this witnessing would prove quite boring indeed and rail that passivity implies lack of volition or creates subjugation. Quite to the contrary, the only powerlessness lies in habituated reaction. True action comes from observation of experience, acceptance of it and alignment to the harmony that Is this ability.

This lack of choice in action is what some people refer to as fate. Others call it the existential dilemma. In one way, fate is the unconscious reaction that perpetuates life patterns and circumstance. This circumstance has been dubbed the ill-fated life, and is the fuel for any form of pessimism.

Yet another kind of fate exists. It is the only true choice – the choice of that which aligns. Any other choice is reaction, and leads to suffering. The illusion of choices is a prison. There is only one choice – that which aligns, or that which does not align.

Sometimes making the “wrong” choice, as in any choice that does not align to our most essential self, is useful. We learn by experience. Just as a parent might have a child they caught smoking sit and smoke the whole pack to deter their interest in the habit, sometimes we choose things that help us distinguish what we know we ultimately don’t want but have to find out for ourselves in order to choose otherwise the next time the choice is offered. Sometimes this is completely unnecessary – why would I choose to eat a handful of dirt?

This approach can be useful to an extent, especially when experienced with awareness. Otherwise, addictions form and perpetuate until the awareness coupled with its sister wing, equanimity, overrides the habit.

That is all there Is. That which Is and how we choose to relate to it – how we choose to Live.
Guest Columnist: Emma Hawley
Since childhood, Emma Hawley has always asked the “million dollar questions.” She grew up in a family of thinkers and always found her comfort zone outside the box. Since graduating valedictorian of her class at UCLA,  she has found her footing in Los Angeles’  wealth of consciously oriented communities. Emma’s respite is in her daily Sahaj Marg sadhana: a form simplified of raja yoga meaning “Natural Path,” that has vastly transformed her inner world. Check out some of her musings on her personal blog, Spark in the Husk. Catch her tweets at @sparkinthehusk.

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