In the first days of the now occurring trial of celebrity self-help coach James Arthur Ray, partial author of the best selling book “The Secret”, prosecutors are using his own voice to try to paint him as responsible for the deaths of three participants in a sweat-lodge ceremony at a Sedona-area resort. "There's no sweat lodge like my sweat lodge," Ray said in an audiotape from the event that prosecutors played in the courtroom.
"You'll feel like you're going to die. I guarantee that." In October 2009, as he prepped the lodge participants - there were 49 clients and eight volunteer aides - he said, "You have to get to a point where you surrender, and it's OK to die." He repeatedly said, "It's not a question of whether you're going to die. You are. The question is: How did you live?"
Two people died in the sweat lodge incident, so in a way, I guess Ray was right. One of the survivors said that she was searching for enlightenment. Apparently all considered Mr. Ray their teacher, but why would someone follow a teacher that teaches that you must die for enlightenment? Some people believe that suffering brings enlightenment. Sweat lodges with heat so extreme that the participants pass out or die do not bring enlightenment unless you consider bodily anguish or death enlightening. In a way, I guess it will at least enlighten you on how to die.
Some religious sects beat themselves with chains, believing that self punishment brings heightened spirituality. Others use various other methods involving pain from self inflicted agony, believing that it brings them closer to God. Usually these methods are employed in search of some elusive spiritual insights that somehow they could not get otherwise. For those who believe pain is euphoric, it will be, but there are other methods available that are quite as effective that do not involve privation or such self accepted hardships. You could of course, just light up a joint and kick back with a good high, and in truth, some drugs can indeed relax or distract the conscious awareness enough to loosen the egos unrelenting hold on physical reality.
There are other more innocuous methods of what could be considered self inflicted punishment for some other segments of the population, such as running marathons, extreme mountain climbing, long distance swimming, biking and many others. For sure, there is a factor of self satisfaction gained in the achievement of certain goals, surpassing what has been done before and pushing the human body to new limits, but these are usually done with full knowledge of the individual involved in the activity, and it is good to keep in mind that most people would consider these extreme activities quite punishing.
Let me say that in all reality, in this world and others, suffering is only good if it teaches you how “Not to Suffer”. Not to say that you can't be taken to a new level of consciousness, for indeed, in some cases you can, but to what end? There are more acceptable ways to seek knowledge without the degradation of the body or annihilating consciousness in the pursuit of being reborn, so to speak. In other words, you do not have to die to live, but in other terms, you do die often and live again just as often.
The world is full of spiritual teachers, or so-called teachers, some call themselves Swami, Guru, Enlightened One, Pope, and some of these teachers do have valid knowledge to convey. There are priests, ministers and assorted clergy of all religions and cults, who will try to convince you that you were flawed at birth, a born sinner, doomed to damnation unless some kind of penance is made and indulgences given. Usually, but not in all cases, there seems to be a universal principle at work here, and that is that personal shortcomings, defects, flaws and sins can be alleviated and totally forgiven with the ample transfer of currency, from your bank account to their coffers.
Sometimes the ones dispensing the forgiveness are involved in molesting your children in their spare time or pilfering the collection basket. I do not intend to denigrate all spiritual teachers, for some are well motivated and altruistic in their pursuits, but usually these are not the ones selling you prayer cloths, holy water from the river Jordan, or blessing your piles of prayer requests, before tossing them in the dumpster and depositing your checks in their Swiss bank accounts before boarding their personal jets for a vacation in the south of France.
If a so called teacher tells you that God wants you to be wealthy he should also tell you that God also wants you to be poor, but no evangelical preacher will ever tell you that because it would not motivate you to contribute to the cause. To God (All That Is), as much can be learned from observing the life of a beggar as the life of a millionaire, in fact probably more. The pompous religious icon with all his golden crowns, staffs and vestiges knows nothing of mans true relationship with the earth.
No pope ever knew the migrations of the buffalo across endless plains or the plague of the locusts as they swept across vast stretches of Western lands, the exodus of populations of entire species as they fled before fires that swept aside wide stretches of their home habitats. No king ever knew the pangs of hunger and starvation, the scourge of plagues, for they were above all of that, securely tucked away in their castles surrounded by moats filled with water and minds filled with indifference and ignorance of the plights of the common man. So, are these the teachers you would follow? But you do! If the teacher does not understand the relationship of the common man with the animals and the earth, how could they teach you anything?
But still, you hang on to these dead beliefs. Why? Because you will always wait to jettison one belief until you have another waiting in the wings. You need that security before setting your course in uncharted waters without a captain aboard, not realizing that you are the captain. A captain must learn to trust himself and cannot depend on others for guidance forever. No matter that the destination is unknown and the arrival uncertain, the journey long and arduous, you can learn to read the stars and your reality in new ways, but to do so, you must break the chains of old, worn out myths and children's tales, step aside and follow a new path inward to discover the source of those stars and realities.
As long as you look for answers in the exterior world, you will come up against a brick wall, since the answers you seek can only be found in the secrets of consciousness which creates the brick wall in the first place. In other words all physical phenomenon and physical knowledge are by-products of inner events thrust outward into the realm of atoms and molecules. If you want to know about the beginning and source of the universe or the existence of a God, then look not through a telescope or microscope but explore the mysteries of consciousness, the source of all physical and non-physical reality.
A true teacher can to some extent explain the nature of reality, but it requires your active participation and those who sit quietly and obediently with head bowed in a church pew waiting for enlightenment, will never find it. As I have said before, none of these false teachers, gurus, prophets and popes can really hurt you even though on the outside it may seem so, but they can surely impede and delay your progress. Ask any man if he really believes that he needs to be taken to the point of death or give his last dollar to become enlightened and he will tell you NO. So, if every man inwardly knows this, why do you chase false gurus sometimes to the point of your own death.
The trend is toward increasing “Awareness” of that which is so elusive at this point of your life. You wonder why you cannot communicate with your dead relatives and loved ones if they have truly survived death. Indeed, you sometimes wonder why bad things happen to good people. You wonder why your life isn't better if you are truly creating your reality. You wonder why God allows suffering if He is really a caring, loving God. You wonder if you have lived before and if you will live again, then why don't you know it. You wonder if there are alien civilizations and although it is almost ludicrous, you ask if anyone else is out there.
Again, the trend is toward increasing awareness throughout this life and in the next and the next You live a series of lives in the physical “Earth” system, and the purpose is to learn, grow and evolve and with the expansion of your consciousness, you will become aware of things that are now surrounding you that you simply cannot perceive. The trend is to notice things that now evade your awareness and that is coming, even though it seems at a very slow pace. You will evolve in spite of yourself, but keep in mind, there is no limit to the time you have and the lives you are allotted. What you do not learn in this life, you will perhaps learn in the next and so on.
It only gets better, life after life, world after world, but that should not be an excuse to waste your time buried in decaying dogma and old worn out myths and legends, many of which are distorted or totally wrong. On the other hand, you can waste time and sometimes place your life in jeopardy believing everything that is told to you. You have to learn to trust yourself and your inner knowledge rather than the spoken or written word. Do not believe what others tell you based on the words alone. Words can lie, but your intuitive self, your inner knowledge cannot lie and in fact they are incapable of misleading you. Do not believe what I tell you either, but subject what you hear or read to the only true test of validity, how do you really feel about it. Why would you presume that someone else knows more about you than you do yourself?
In a nutshell, subject information that you hear or read to the ultimate judge of validity, your “Heart”, meaning, your inner feelings and emotions, your intuition. If your inner senses tell you that something is “Rotten in Denmark”, then it is likely so. I try to explain to you what is, but I do not know everything and there are concepts that I struggle with too, so I can tell you with some authority, “Reality” isn't easy. Generally speaking, if it's really simple, it isn't true. Reality is unbelievably complex and difficult to understand and requires some degree of effort. If you believe that “God created the world in six days “and then got so tired he had to sit down and rest on the seventh , then I have a bridge to sell you.
There are infinite worlds, universes and alien civilizations and their existence will slowly become more evident to you, but you must set out on a journey with purpose, knowing in fact, there will be no end to your personal expansion in the expedition of consciousness..
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