When you stay present with your children, that's where abundance is. And when you stay out of their business, that's where everything you deserve in life is. When you're in presence, there's no story, and you are abundance. And you come to trust that space so often that you just eventually hang out as that, because there is nothing that can move you out of it, not even a perceived child or a perceived anything.
When you're operating on uninvestigated theories of what's going on and you aren't even aware of it, you're in what I call "the dream." Often the dream becomes troubling; sometimes it even turns into a nightmare. At times like these, you may want to test the truth of your theories by doing The Work on them. The Work always leaves you with less of your uncomfortable story. Who would you be without it? How much of your world is made up of unexamined stories? You'll never know until you inquire.
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So, how do you get back to heaven? To begin with, just notice the thoughts that take you away from it. You don't have to believe everything your thoughts tell you. Just become familiar with the particular thoughts you use to deprive yourself of happiness. It may seem strange at first to get to know yourself in this way, but becoming familiar with your stressful thoughts will show you the way home to everything you need.
It's important to realize that inquiry is about noticing, not about dropping the thought... Inquiry is not about getting rid of thoughts; it's about realizing what's true for you, through awareness and unconditional self-love. Once you see the truth, the thought lets go of you, not the other way around.
If you put your hand into a fire, does anyone have to tell you to move it? Do you have to decide? No: When your hand starts to burn, it moves. You don't have to direct it; the hand moves itself. In the same way, once you understand, through inquiry, that an untrue thought causes suffering, you move away from it.
Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to change the world so that they can be happy. This hasn't ever worked, because it approaches the problem backward. What The Work gives us is a way to change the projector-mind-rather than the projected. It's like when there's a piece of lint on a projector's lens. We think there's a flaw on the screen, and we try to change this person and that person, whomever the flaw appears on next. But it's futile to try to change the projected images. Once we realize where the lint is, we can clear the lens itself. This is the end of suffering, and the beginning of a little joy in paradise.
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The reason I love rules and plans and religions is that people feel safe in them for a while. And, personally, I don't have any rules. I don't need them. There's a sense of order that goes on all the time as things move and change, and I am that harmony, and so are you. Not knowing is the only way to understand... Meanings, rules, the whole world of right and wrong, are secondary at best. I understand how some people think they need to live by rules... It's very frightening for them to watch the world unfolding in apparent chaos and not realize that the chaos itself is God in his infinite intelligence.
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I've heard people say that they cling to their painful thoughts because they're afraid that without them they wouldn't be activists for peace. "If I feel peaceful," they say, "why would I bother taking action at all?" My answer is "Because that's what love does." To think that we need sadness or outrage to motivate us to do what's right is insane. As if the clearer and happier you get, the less kind you become. As if when someone finds freedom, she just sits around all day with drool running down her chin. My experience is the opposite. Love is action.
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Inquiry appears to be a process of thinking, but actually it's a way to undo thinking. Thoughts lose their power over us when we realize that they simply appear in the mind. They're not personal. Through The Work, instead of escaping or suppressing our thoughts, we learn to meet them with unconditional love and understanding.
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A teacher of fear can't bring peace on earth. We have been trying to do it that way for thousands of years. The person who turns inner violence around, the person who finds peace inside and lives it, is the one who teaches what true peace is. We are waiting for just one teacher. You're the one.
My mother became a believer, and then I became a believer. But when I was 43 years old, I began to think for myself, somehow, by fluke and by grace. And I thought, "Oh, my. I was so mistaken." The world isn't what I believed it to be. I am not what I believed me to be, and neither is anyone.
I am a lover of what is, not because I'm a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality. We can know that reality is good just as it is, because when we argue with it, we experience tension and frustration. We don't feel natural or balanced. When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.
Without our stories, we are not only able to act clearly and fearlessly, we are also a friend, a listener. We are people living happy lives. We are appreciation and gratitude that have become as natural as breath itself. Happiness is the natural state for someone who knows that there's nothing to know and that we already have everything we need, right here now.
When you're comfortable and secure, it's not enough. The mind doesn't stop there because it has to continue to focus itself as this body, so it moves to pleasure. And pleasure really is a non-existent thing. When we're experiencing pleasure, we're trying to hold onto it as it leaves, so it really isn't pleasure. Pleasure is pain because we're grasping.
Depression, pain, and fear are gifts that say, "Sweetheart, take a look at your thinking in this moment. You're living in a story that isn't true for you." Living a lie is always stressful. And investigating a lie through The Work always leads you back to who you are. Who you are is not an option. You are love. It hurts to believe you're other than who you are, to live any story less than love.
I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours and God's. Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our business. When I think, "You need to get a job, I want you to be happy, you should be on time, you need to take better care of yourself," I am in your business. When I'm worried about earthquakes, floods, war, or when I will die, I am in God's business. If I am mentally in your business or in God's business, the effect is separation.
An uncomfortable feeling is not an enemy. It's a gift that says, "Get honest; inquire." We reach out for alcohol, or television, or credit cards, so we can focus out there and not have to look at the feeling. And that's as it should be, because in our innocence we haven't known how. So now what we can do is reach out for a paper and a pencil, write thought down, and investigate.
To think that I know what's best for anyone else is to be out of my business. Even in the name of love, it is pure arrogance, and the result is tension, anxiety, and fear. Do I know what's right for me? That is my only business. Let me work with that before I try to solve problems for you.
The Work reveals that what you think shouldn't have happened should have happened. It should happened because it did, and no thinking in the world can change it. This doesn't mean that you condone it or approve of it. It just means that you can see things without resistance and without the confusion of your inner struggle. No one wants their children to get sick, no one wants to be in a car accident; but when these things happen, how can it be helpful to mentally argue with them? We know better than to do that, yet we do it, because we don't know how to stop.
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Your understanding of another person is limited by what you think you already know. So when you just listen, the person you meet won't match your preconception. The exciting thing is that you usually meet someone much wiser and kinder than you expected. You might also lose track of your ideas about who you are.
As we watch the world embrace the Olympics in the coming days, let us remember why the modern Olympics came into being: to bring nations closer together, to have the youth of the world compete in sports, rather than fight in war. As long as we believe our own war-driven thoughts, there will always be war, in ourselves, in our families, and in our world. As long as we believe our thoughts, there will always be war.
Nothing can cost you someone you love. The only thing that can cost you your husband is if you believe a thought. That's how you move away from him. That's how the marriage ends. You are one with your husband until you believe the thought that he should look a certain way, he should give you something, he should be something other than what he is. That's how you divorce him. Right then and there you have lost your marriage.