Releasing our Baggage

Empty the boat of your life, O man; when empty it will swiftly sail. (From the Dhammapada (aphorisms of the Buddha)

I was faced with a choice regarding the quality of the life that I would live. I could be unhappy; looking at the seemingly unending list of tragedies that seemed to enter my life, not to mention all of the great adversity that I myself invited. Or I could look at the fact that for every dollar I lost I found five dollars, and for every dollar that was stolen from me, I was given ten dollars. For each sadness there was greater joy. I could live the life of one who is miserable because for every win there is a loss, or as someone who is grateful because for every loss there is a win.

These are the decisions that I felt I had to make in order to turn a painful life in to a joyous one. During my dark night of the soul, my most painful time, I had to find a way to be happy and at peace regardless of the circumstances in my life or more importantly, in my history. I decided that I would not rely on life for my happiness. Basically I decided that because I had to go on through anything that came my way, for the sake of my family, I needed to take control of my present. I had to take control of the quality of my life, and the only way to do that was to refuse to allow my past experiences to dictate my living.

To take control of our lives is to begin eliminating the baggage that we carry with us from our past. It is this baggage; my sad childhood is one suitcase and within it are the complexes that were left with me from it. My bad marriage was another and within it was my feeling of being a failure as a woman. Rejection from my friends was another bag, which contained my feelings of self-loathing. All of this baggage seemed to have no bottom.

Each moment that I lived seemed to jump back into the suitcase that most resembled it. With all of that baggage, I literally could not go anywhere that I did not have clothes in my suitcases to fit. Since I carried those suitcases with me, I lived out of them. If I was looking for a man, I put on my abused woman outfit. If I was looking for a job, I put on my desperate worthless outfit. I could only venture in my life where I was equipped to go. That equipment was whatever clothes I had in my baggage. I only went into experiences; or rather I only related to experiences that I had from my past. I could dress for them. In other words I knew how to dress for them because I could relate them to my history and therefore I could relive them. In order for me to move forward, to begin fresh, I had to travel light. Let go of my past experiences and my past habits and come only with myself.

Our baggage limits us. We feel unable to avoid living out of the baggage that we carry. Only when we let it go, can we shop for new perceptions to live through. The key is to keep that wardrobe only so long as it fits where we are. When we move on, we leave it behind and take only what is necessary. What we take is us. We need to understand that each situation is different. Each situation is new. We need different perspectives, and different solutions. In order to truly realize the totality of each new experience, we need to start fresh. Once we learn to leave the past where it was appropriate, we will see each moment as it is. Our lives will be fuller because we are experiencing it as it happens. In order to truly release our past, and leave our baggage behind, we must come to terms with it. We must always close the past, not just walk away from it. We need to put it where it belongs intentionally.

We have to truly release ourselves from guilt and regret. Because when we come to the realization that perhaps, we are in some way responsible for the unhappiness that seems to follow us, we add the blame of carrying it to the other baggage that we are carrying.
So even when we read all of the steps that show us how to move forward, we add to our burdens that guilt, or the loss of self worth that we feel for not releasing those things that cause us pain. In this way we only cause ourselves more pain. It is essential to understand that everything that we did was OK. Everything is appropriate for the situation in which it was created. Our past actions and our past emotions are fine as long as we leave them where they belong.

Even if we fall backwards, or take a long time to stop, that is OK too. We have not done anything wrong because we cannot do anything wrong. Even when we act out of negative emotions or negative intentions we are still learning and still teaching lessons. So long as we are here we are in progress. God will not judge where we are or what we have done until we are finished and there is no more left to do. So long as we have breath in us, we have a chance. We are learning. As a child learns to speak, and says one of those cute things that are not exactly right, it is not wrong, it is all in the process of learning. We need to release ourselves, and go even further, we need to praise ourselves for acknowledging the need to change. We should praise ourselves for making the attempt. If we intend to grow, intend to improve, and intend to become better human beings, those intentions show that we are growing. They show that we are learning and becoming who our souls are striving to become. Just as we do when we graduate to a new grade, we need to take with us the knowledge gained, the lessons learned and leave the textbooks of our struggles behind.

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Our Haves

There is no mountain that we cannot climb so long as we can fix our eyes on the peak
To truly believe something is to have innate knowledge. That innate knowledge is faith. Faith is connected with inner sight, the sight that sees the truth that our eyes do not see. We are only capable of believing that which is possible. We all believe in fate. Even those people, who feel that they are totally in charge of their lives, believe that at some point that something happened in their lives that had the feeling of Divine Intervention. There was at least some moment in which fate played a part.

Whether we believe that fate is the path defined by God, by the Universe or simply the path we ourselves determined prior to coming here; fate still has a hand in determining the path that we walk.
We each contain knowledge of our path. The Maya, or the veil of illusion, fools us into believing that we are driven by our wants, our desires, or our wishes, when in fact what moves us ahead are our possibilities. Each of us longs to fulfill our own destiny. It is through our needs, our wishes, desires and our choices that we are guided towards that destiny. When we are able to visualize something or when we are fueled with the passion for something to the point that such a passion consumes us, this is not a desire. It is in fact a, “Knowing”. It is a piercing of the veil of illusion to that which actually will be.

We cannot sustain a burning desire for anything that we cannot actually achieve. If in fact we are capable of truly visualizing a goal, it is not simply a goal; it is the actual vision of our destiny. The fact that it is real and not just imaginary is the only reason that we are actually capable of visualizing it.
It is our beliefs that work to manifest our reality. We cannot truly hold on to a belief that is impossible to realize. We may hold a vision for a short period of time but we cannot maintain it unless it is real. Therefore if we can really believe something to be true, if we can really believe that we can attain a certain goal, this is only because we will attain it, or at least it is within our capabilities to attain it.

Let’s say that we all come into this incarnation with what I call a, “Bag of ‘Haves”’. These are the things that are within us to do, to accomplish, or to obtain. These things are a part of our destiny. The knowledge of these things is expressed through our dreams, wishes and desires. We would take no notice of or at least we would not be able to retain any desire for these same objects, positions, or relationships if they were not within our ability to have.

Many times we are obsessed with getting to one point and once there we feel as though it isn’t where we want to be at all. This wasn’t a mistake; it was a step that we had to reach on the road to our ultimate destiny. The lessons come in each step of the process and sometimes the lessons are meant to make us feel lost, or out of step because within that experience is the key to the next door, or the clue to our next step.

Some people spend their entire lives feeling lost and out of place. Even that would mean that within those feelings are the lessons to be learned in this lifetime. What is important to remember is that we are always going to have what we came here to have. We always have what we really need; it may be just a matter of time and experience until we receive it.

There was a time when in order to get a donkey to move they would attach a carrot to a stick and put that stick on the donkey’s head. The donkey would keep going in order to reach the carrot. Of course he never reached it because it was always in front of him. Yet, he always had it because it was attached to his head. He would go around chasing the carrot because he could see it, but actually the reason that he could visualize the carrot is because he really had it. He could not reach the carrot because he did not believe that he had it. If he believed he had it, he would find a way to get it off of his head, instead of chasing it. Faith is the step to remove the carrot from the head and place it in the hand. The carrot is ours and it is on our heads. We simply have to take it.

We just see the carrot as what we want as what we wish for and desire. When we have faith, we realize that the carrot is ours and we stop following it and just take it. But if it were not attached to our heads, if it were not in front of our eyes, in other words within our, “bag of haves”, we could not think to desire or want it.
So it is helpful to say that if we can visualize what we want and believe it, then it is truly already ours, it is in fact attached to our heads; now it is just a matter of getting to it. When we are capable of visualizing a thing, a goal, or a relationship so totally that we can feel it and believe it, that is not the work of our imagination, it is simply piercing the veil into the truth of what is really ours. When we are taught that the appropriate prayer for receiving what we want is a prayer of thanks for having it already, it is truly appropriate. The reason being that we do actually have it already. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours…” (Mark 11:24)

Understanding this does not change the fact that it is in front of us and not in our hands. We must still do the work of reaching for it whatever that may entail. The difference is that if we know that it is actually ours and there is a way that it can be reached, we can remove our confusion, and our doubt. We may simply focus on getting it. This still requires faith. If I know that the thing that I desire is behind one of the doors before me, I will get it.

We are here to learn lessons, to grow, to perfect our souls. This is done through our experiences here on earth. We all have our own destiny, our own path along which lies our personal lessons and our, “haves”. In order to reach each of our “haves” we must pass through different experiences, and in order to hold onto our, “haves” we must again go through lesson.

An infant has a burning desire, an obsession to raise its head. It is not really a goal from our point of view; it is a step toward standing and walking. It is simply a step in the path of development for a human being. However to that infant it is the end product. That infant cannot focus on anything else until it reaches that goal. Then it moves to the goal of turning over. Well, we do not spend our entire lives rolling over, even though while striving for that goal, to the infant, it is complete in itself.

We can only see the horizon and consider reaching it as our goal. However, each horizon turns into another. Each horizon takes us closer to God. When we finally reach the horizon, we are there. This is also how it works with our “haves”.
The stronger the desire is that one has, the more one is connected to that, “innate knowing”. There really is no such thing as a desire. A desire is really the veil that covers one’s destiny. We cannot desire what is not ours, just as the donkey could not desire the carrot if it were not visible in front of it’s face twenty four hours a day.

I am not referring to the desire that comes from envy, or from wanting what someone else has. That is not a desire for the thing in itself it is a desire for the feeling that the other person exhibits from having whatever it is. If I know that what I want is definitely in front of me; that it is definitely behind one of the doors that I am facing, even though I must still find which door and face what ever challenges lie before me, I know that it is mine. The difference is that I will reach it because I know that it will be there whenever and however I get there. Most of all I know that I will get there.

When we are clear and able to focus on the journey and the process and are not confused by doubt or fear then we are able to listen and accept the guidance that is constantly given to us on our path to attainment. We can learn our lessons as we travel because we are awake to our journey and not lost in fear.

It is important to understand that the lesson, is the process and the process contains the journey, the journeyer and the destination.