Everyone says that they want to change, but who is ready, willing, and able to actually do so? We’d like to get out of our ruts and our stuck places, or so we claim; but are we ready to give up the comfy, secure little nest cozily settled at the bottom of those ruts, those psychological habits, patterns, and entrenched bunker-like mentalities? Who is willing to face the insecurity of the unknown and unfamiliar, and break, recondition, and decondition their habits? And who knows how to effectively pursue new goals and purposes, suffer the inevitable setbacks and mistakes, get up when we fall flat and just keep on going no matter what?
Changing ourselves is easier said than done, not to mention the challenges and travails inherent in positively changing the world. And yet we must and do aspire to be able to do so, and now. We do need genuine change and transformation, each and all of us. And our broken social systems also need transformation, not to mention our endangered environment. Yet we can’t just ask what needs changing without sincerely striving to know and transform ourselves.
Acceptance too is an important part of the puzzle. When we accept and love ourselves, the whole world will accept and love us. Acceptance has its own transformative magic. Humor is crucial: keeping an eye on the cosmic absurdity of whatever predicament we may currently think or feel we are in. Life ain’t much fun if we take ourselves too seriously! I myself am a jolly lama.
Lacking Time or Lacking Priorities, Focus, and Awareness?
People today commonly say that they don’t have enough time, are crazy busy and stressed out, and inevitably experience time-crunch in these speeded-up times. However, I find that it’s not time we lack, but priorities, focus, and awareness. We actually have all the time in the world, should we choose to use it intelligently. Life is long enough for those who know how to use it.
Our longer life spans and many labor-saving devices can contribute to the possibility of us having more time to spend wisely on the things that really matter to us — like quality time, for example — and to choose more skillfully how we spend and use our time rather than foolishly thinking of our time as being taken up by others while giving in to inchoate feelings of time-famine and scarcity.
Life is time, and time is life. Squander it at your peril. Time is an endangered natural resource today. Killing time is just deadening ourselves; you snooze, you lose. And how we live our lives makes all the difference. We need to wake up right now within this gritty existence and not in some later idealized place or state. It’s now or never, as always. This is our greatest challenge and our opportunity.
Dealing with Traumas and Conflict
For those of us consciously on the spiritual path, we are extraordinarily interested in personal development, in contributing to a better world and improved relationships at home and abroad through being better people, and longing to live a genuinely meaningful and productive life. Moreover, we certainly don’t just wish to carry on “the sins of the fathers,” as the Old Testament calls it, which persist for seven generations according to Biblical tradition. Modern psychotherapy — Virginia Satir, for example — has broken that mold, showing how to end this cycle of dysfunctional behavior within family systems, within one generation. I am all for it!
Awareness is curative. Wise awareness is the opposable thumb of consciousness development and evolution, which enables and empowers all the other fingers on the hand of the heart and mind, including knowledge and intelligence, memory, critical thinking, creativity, introspection, self-understanding, and so forth. We too often sidestep deep traumas as well as more ordinary emotional, familial, energy, and psychic issues which condition, limit, inhibit, and even afflict us throughout every day of our lives, whether we know it or not.
Until we deal effectively with such matters and conflicts, outer and inner, individual and collective, including fear and anxiety, anger and insecurity — and make substantial headway in unfreezing those frozen places and hang-ups in order to clear away the stubbornly persistent problems — we will struggle mightily to be able to fully embrace and embody our authentic spiritual nature, our radiant true self and best nature — what Buddhists call innate Buddha-nature.
Self-Deception & Denial vs. Honesty and Integrity
Self-deception is a terrible thing, and the river of denial runs deep throughout our culture. If we are truth-seekers and people of character and integrity, I believe that we have to be very honest and candid with ourselves and each other, well beyond subjectivity and mere partisanship, not to mention spin, flimflam, false advertising, and self-deception. I can scarcely stomach reading most news items about things I actually know and am well-informed about, such as certain Buddhist groups, Asian religions, yoga centers, and spiritual gurus. It seems incredibly difficult simply to get it right, without exaggeration or misunderstanding.
Just as Christians follow their Golden Rule, or aspire to at least, Vajrayana (Diamond Path) Buddhists too have an adamantine Diamond Rule which fairly crackles with energy and blessings. This wish-fulfilling jewel of a Rule reminds and exhorts us to see the light in everyone and everything, the innate clear light which is technically known as Buddha-nature — our innate divinity — but by any other name is still as sweet, for this is our Original Goodness.
We are all Buddhas, also known as divine by nature. All we have to do is awaken To And Realize Who And What We Truly Are. Let’s exploit our inner natural resources for a change. Turn the spotlight, the searchlight, inwards. Wisdom gives life, and is the pearl beyond price.
Meditate as fast as you can.
© 2013. Dr. Jennifer Howard. All rights reserved.
Published by New Page Books a division of
Career Press, Pompton Plains, NJ. 800-227-3371.
Reprinted from the FOREWORD of the book:
Your Ultimate Life Plan: How To Deeply Transform Your Everyday Experience And Create Changes That Last
by Dr. Jennifer Howard.
Your Ultimate Life Plan is the missing "how to" for getting unstuck and moving past your problems into a richer and more meaningful life. The distillation of Dr. Howard's 20-plus years of experience as a licensed psychotherapist and spiritual teacher, this "workshop in a book" is a roadmap to living your most happy, most authentic, most amazing life. Why settle for average, when the potential to live an amazing life is inside you, right now? This book will help you step boldly into your next, deeper level of happiness, wholeness, transformation, and success.
About the Author of the Foreword of the book
Lama Surya Das has spent forty years studying Zen, vipassana, yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism with the great masters of Asia, including the Dalai Lama’s own teachers. He is the founder of the Dzogchen Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and its branch centers around the country, including the retreat center Dzogchen Osel Ling outside Austin, Texas, where he conducts long training retreats and Advanced Dzogchen retreats. He is also active in interfaith dialogue and charitable projects in the Third World. In recent years, Lama Surya has turned his efforts and focus towards youth and contemplative education initiatives. He is a published author, translator, chant master (see Chants to Awaken the Buddhist Heart CD, with Stephen Halpern), and a regular blog contributor at The Huffington Post, as well as his own AskTheLama.com blog site. He is the author of: Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be: Lessons on Change, Loss, and Spiritual Transformation and Buddha Standard Time: Awakening to the Infinite Possibilities of Now, and numerous other books.