Spirituality To-Do, Item 12

Putting the Bhagavad Gita into practice.

Relax and enjoy the show.

I just watched the 2-part episode of Star Trek called “The Menagerie”. In it, Captain Pike was captured by an alien race that attempted to coerce him through the use of mental illusions — they could create a convincing reality in his mind. But Captain Pike refused to cooperate with the Talosian’s illusions. He could have any life, any adventure he wanted if only he didn’t fight it. But he wouldn’t accept his confinement, he complained and wouldn’t submit. He eventually escaped and went back to his everyday life — that is until he was severely wounded in an explosion that left him mute and immobile — Spock helped return him to Talos IV where he could live out the rest of his days in imaginary bliss.

While watching, I related to the story. I’m constantly fighting with life as if I refuse to submit, sensing coercion in my circumstances. Something’s not right here, there’s an artificiality that I can’t shake. Something’s trying to force me to perform — “but I won’t be your trained monkey! I refuse to dance for you!”

And it’s true, everyone can sense the conspiracy, we just can’t quite put our finger on it. There’s a forced fictitious narrative attempting to hide the reality of our situation. Yet all this time we really are within an illusionary realm — the conspiracy is true! But many of us can’t sense anything past the surface, so we attribute the feeling to things we can actually see.

In Star Trek, the Talosians weren’t monsters, they were simply trying to create a mutually beneficial exchange, they just went about it in a heavy-handed manner. Captain Pike was fine with it in the end. Similarly, I think the world I find myself within is trying its hardest to fulfill my desires but I refuse to play along. My suspiciousness and paranoia have me assuming a nefarious plot, yet it’s simply a misunderstanding on my part. The creator was welcoming me all along.

Therefore, because I finally get it, because I’m going to stop struggling against this gift that was given so graciously, I will relax and enjoy the show.


Spirituality To-Do, Item 11

Putting the Bhagavad Gita into practice.

I mustn’t judge the world, simply appreciate the spectacle.

What’s wrong with the world? Hm, couldn’t tell ya. Just kidding, I could write a list so long that I probably wouldn’t be done by the time I’m dead and buried. But it’s easy to be negative, to pick stuff apart, relentlessly criticizing until there’s no redeeming value left. It really doesn’t take me much effort at all to find fault with everything I encounter.

It does take its toll of course. When you ceaselessly destroy, nothing remains, the world’s a horrible place filled with worthless garbage. But are my criticisms correct? Is cheesecake really that bad? Even though it has a gross graham-cracker crust and a weird soft texture of sweetened cheese (yuck!) — is it really THAT bad? There’s entire factories dedicated to its production, so some people obviously find it delightful.

With an entire menu of desserts, it would seem silly to pick on cheesecake, why spend my time focused on what I don’t prefer? Why tell the waiter all the stuff I don’t want, isn’t it easier to tell him the item I do want. He’d be happier, I’d be happier, my dining companions would be happier. Just as I don’t care whether someone doesn’t like chocolate lava cake (it’s awesome btw), why should anyone care about my cake preferences? Yet I feel compelled to tell them how horrible their choice of cake is!

Constant complaining seems like a bad idea — because it is. It serves no one. Constructive criticism is one thing, but that’s not what’s going on here, I’m downright rippin’ into everything simply for the sake of it. Instead of finding something to enjoy, I’m dedicated to degrading all I survey. But again, that’s because it comes so easy, whereas appreciation takes effort. But perhaps that’s a problem with an easy fix, maybe a change in perspective or a bit of practice would help.

Perhaps I should stop myself when the urge to criticize surfaces. Instead of compiling a litany of complaints when I receive something, I should pick out something pleasant to say, focusing on at least one beneficial attribute — and if I can’t find something specific, then the very act of receiving should be appreciated — “thank you for what I am about to receive”. Because ultimately, I’m only ruining my own experience by being so critical.

Therefore, so that I can enjoy all the things provided for my existence as well as the delightful treats sprinkled in, I mustn’t judge the world, but simply appreciate the spectacle.

Spirituality To-Do, Item 10

Putting the Bhagavad Gita into practice.

Perform as my character, fearlessly following my nature.

It’s pretty obvious that we come with a set of foundational preferences that shape our overall personality. It’s as if we browse a dossier of attributes in the spiritual-realm, selecting the stats we want for our physical-world character. My character definitely has a certain set of skills in some areas while lacking in others. That’s another reason why we can tell this is a virtual realm by the way, that people’s skills are distributed in such a clearcut manner.

The funny part is, that we the possessors of particular skills don’t always know we have them, we have to figure out what we’re good at along the way. That makes sense though, because to us, our specific skill is easy, it doesn’t seem like an ability that others would lack. Sometimes we don’t know what we can do until others point out how good we are at something. Although, I suppose the primary indicator of what we should do, is the feeling of fulfillment we feel while performing a particular activity.

Whatever my character’s nature is, I must follow it. The only caveat being: don’t adhere to fear. If I really want to paint pictures for example, then I must, regardless of whatever consequences I might imagine — there are worse consequences for not performing as my nature suggests. But don’t be fooled! Life doesn’t let you off that easy… sometimes the time to act isn’t now. And sometimes one attribute overrides another. So you gotta play it by ear, adjusting as you go. Life likes to keep it interesting, keeps you guessing (in a fun and playful way).

To be clear: for those of us filled with fear, we have to filter that out first in order to reach our essence. “Scared little creature” is not an option here. And to remove that fear, we require spirituality to bolster our perspective. We have to feel safe and supported upon our path, confident in its progression. Through spirituality, we obtain hopefulness for what’s to come and gratitude for what we’ve received.

Therefore, to fully engage with this adventure-realm known as Earth and express my appreciation for the gift I’ve been given, I must perform as my character, fearlessly following my nature.

Spirituality To-Do, Item 9

Putting the Bhagavad Gita into practice.

Know that I am carried through life by a benevolent force playing amongst his parts.

If I look out my window I see white fluffy clouds drifting through a sea of blue sky. It’s a bit cold today, but nothing I couldn’t adequately dress for. Most of my days are pretty pleasant in that regard. But on some days I ignore all the decent stuff and focus on one particular part that I find annoying. If only I ignored the annoyance and went on with my day, accepting and appreciating whatever came next.

I think a lot of complaints I have about life stem from my inadequacy as an audience member. There really aren’t many challenges I have to deal with, the difficulty I have with life is in accepting and appreciating the gift I’ve been given. That’s true in my everyday life as well — if I’m given something for free, oftentimes I’m suspicious of the giver’s intention, paranoid that there’s something wrong with it, and so I downright reject it.

And that’s true of life, I’m suspicious and paranoid and avoid participating as much as I can. Here life is, giving me the gift of existence within a wondrous high-definition realm filled with all sorts of captivating adventures, and the whole time I’m thinking life is trying to trick me, tempting me with delights up until l let down my guard — then the trap is set, life takes it all away and I fall into despair, tortured by my loss for the rest of my miserable existence. And so I think, “NO! I’ll never let my guard down, I’ll never accept anything you give me! I know you’re out to get me! Suspicious till the end!”

What a dumb attitude though. If life wanted to hurt me, it could do so at any time using the most brutal means possible. And unfortunately, any pleasant attempt to get me to engage only increases my paranoia. My greatest challenge apparently, is to be a better audience member. Repeat after me: “Life is not out to get me”; “Existence is enjoyable”; “Gifts are good things I should appreciate, not scrutinize”; “Shut up, stop complaining, just enjoy the show”.

Life probably does include some unpleasantness, but I think that has more to do with effective storytelling. All good stories have moments of tension, some lows to highlight the highs, early lack to increase anticipation for later gains — that sorta stuff. But overall, life regularly displays its benevolence as circumstances synchronize and good stuff happens. And so that I can graciously receive these fruits, I must know that I am carried through life by a benevolent force playing amongst his parts.

Spirituality To-Do, Item 8

Putting the Bhagavad Gita into practice.

Convince myself that I’m not a fragile creature struggling for survival within a chance-based physical reality.

When I think about all the stuff I haven’t done for myself throughout my entire existence, the idea that I’m a fragile creature struggling for survival seems absurd. The weird part is that I believed myself to be so delicate for so long. I suppose it was easier to believe when I was younger, but now that I’ve lasted several effortless decades, it puts all my anxieties in an embarrassing light. I have zero justification to worry about anything.

Things just kinda work out and I’m seemingly along for the ride. And the longer I live, the more I notice the narratives, they’re obvious and everywhere, meaning this place is NOT chance-based. People regularly do get the objects of their desires, they do achieve their goals, and they do all this while following clearly defined story arcs that captivate and energize along the way.

Some people really do have sad stories, but that’s their story. There are entire TV networks based around that kind of drama, so the market is there, and some individuals truly want that experience. That’s not for me though, oh no, I’m a romantic-comedy guy. Give me the light and funny stuff. Heck, there’s people that love gory horror movies, so of course those types of narratives play out in this fulfillment-generator of a world.

This world is like a typical movie theater packed with all the different genres of movies. Sometimes you accidentally wander into the wrong room and NOPE right outta there — that flick clearly isn’t for you. But it’s a mistake to think EVERY movie in the entire place is just like that one. No, the types of movies you enjoy are playing too, just stop staring at the ones you don’t prefer, don’t obsess on the things you don’t like.

And similar to movies, stuff just happens outta nowhere — this isn’t a limited physical reality where a known circumstance forever and always follows another — no, there are deus-ex-machina plot twists all the time. If I think I can readily predict a specific outcome, then I can be pretty sure I’m wrong. Life tells an engaging tale that never fails to surprise.

Therefore, so that I can harmonize with existence, I must convince myself that I’m not a fragile creature struggling for survival within a chance-based physical reality.

Spirituality To-Do, Item 7

Putting the Bhagavad Gita into practice.

I mustn’t cling to thoughts passing through my mind (and if I do, just let go).

This is meditation. Thoughts come, sometimes persistently, but I don’t grab them, holding them tight in my mind — no, they’re free to go as quick as they came. But when I do grasp one, stare at its contents, analyze its meaning, I let go when I realize what I’m focused on. No big deal.

I practice not grasping thoughts, it’s a challenge but I’ve gotten better over time. I practice because I’ve noticed how thoughts affect my mood, and I don’t enjoy bad moods. When I hold unpleasant thoughts in my mind, I feel bad. All types of thoughts constantly enter, and without practice I had no choice but to allow them all in — but by practicing, I’m able to set boundaries, only welcoming in the thoughts I prefer. My moods have improved.

I simply sit comfortably, eyes closed, breathing through my nose, in, out. But as I exhale, I wordlessly say “Om” in my mind. When I notice I’m no longer mentally saying it, I just go back to saying it. By this method I train myself not to grab thoughts. In a sense, I’m ignoring all thoughts as they enter my mind, and this practice allows me to ignore thoughts in my everyday life, thoughts that would otherwise disturb me.

That’s the mechanical side to meditation — but there’s something beyond the mechanical. Oftentimes while meditating I stop saying “Om” in my mind, but it’s different, I’m drifting, it’s as if I take a break from my body for a bit. I sense tranquility and my perspective widens. I feel a greater connection to something beyond myself. These sensations tend to last for a little after I return from my twelve to twenty minute trip.

Therefore, so that I feel better, so that I’m able to take a break from myself, so that I can live life as it comes – experiencing the spectacle before me, I mustn’t cling to thoughts passing through my mind (and if I do, just let go).

Spirituality To-Do, Item 6

Putting the Bhagavad Gita into practice.

Do not logic my way through life, my perspective and understanding are just too limited.

One plus one equals two; two plus two equals four — yes? No. I grew up thinking in terms of simple cumulative steps and attempted to apply that logic to EVERYTHING. The problem with that type of thinking is that it’s severely limiting. If I can’t foresee the steps adding up to an outcome, then that outcome is impossible. This means I believed in only the most rudimentary of goals and outcomes. I was placing limits on everything because I assumed I fully understood the nature of existence. Oops.

It’s like that saying: if the only tool you have is a hammer, it’s tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail. And I did a lot of pounding trying to get the outside world to fit my theory. Another problem with my simple-steps philosophy was the heavy dose of “chance” mixed in. But chance is a monkey-wrench, it meant that simple-steps are an unreliable means to a goal — and there’s no way to overcome chance. So in effect, why bother doing anything at all.

My logic imprissoned me. I couldn’t do anything grand because I couldn’t imagine the steps to get there. And for simpler goals in which I could see the steps, chance comes into play, so what’s the use? This is in stark contrast to spirituality where adherents tell me to set lofty goals and the details are magically filled in — the universe does the work and aligns everything perfectly on my behalf. Huh!? My small-mindedness obviously has trouble grasping the concept.

But this magical thinking is everywhere and a lot of people are saying it, and there really are individuals achieving great things — so it must be true — right? And here’s the bottom line: I denied spirituality for decades, derided it in fact, and what did that get me? Anxiety, hopelessness, lack — fun stuff. Whereas I see those spiritual people, full of hope, trying new things, inspiring others — sounds pretty good. And the only requirement to join the party is a belief that all things are possible through faith — um, yeah, sign me up!

I’m done with my self-righteous attitude. I was confidently wrong about everything. And even if my pessimistic attitude was right, which it wasn’t, but even if it was, the misery it inflicts just isn’t worth it. And funny enough, if I want to have a great time here and enjoy life, the most logical path to take is the spiritual one — I’ve tried the other route, it sucks. Therefore, so that I may experience the best of what life has to offer, I mustn’t logic my way through life, my perspective and understanding are just too limited.