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Waking from the Trance of Struggle with Mark Matousek

We are pleased to bring you this excerpt from "Waking from the Trance of Struggle" with Mark Matousek.  Learn more about the struggles many people face and how we seem to let it consume us, but how we can come to understand it and succeed without it.

This is a very important topic for many people who feel gripped with a sense that their life is an ongoing struggle, that their in a never-ending competition to be happier or healthier or wiser or more enlightened.  Whatever the aspiration may be. Do you find yourself longing for a simpler life?

That’s the question. The person you are today, right now, in this moment, is already more than enough. That’s what we’re going to be exploring together. Now, we’re addicted to struggle in the same way that we’re addicted to suffering. Though pain is a given, suffering is not, and in the same way, aspiration in our life is a given and is necessary.  But struggle of the kind that I’m describing really is not. This form of struggle which I think of as a toxic struggle is the near enemy of aspiration and achievement.

In Buddhist teaching, there is this notion that every virtue has a near enemy. The near enemy of generosity is being a doormat, then your enemy of patience is complacency, then your enemy of acceptance is resignation and then your enemy of aspiration and achievement is toxic struggle. Now, this form of struggle brings very different results and different choices than aspiration. Aspiration leads to fulfillment and curiosity. It leads to flexibility and a kind of prolific growth when we lean into our aspiration and give it our heart, but toxic struggle leads to diminishing returns. It leads to burnout and bitterness and narrow mindedness, a lot of anger and self-torment. Toxic struggle can also lead to a low grade despair that we carry with us without necessarily knowing where it’s coming from.  But there is a sense of never being there, never having enough, never being sufficient, never being satisfied and never being content or finding ease in our own lives. 

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What's Your Story with Mark Matousek

We are pleased to bring you this excerpt from "What's Your Story" with Mark Matousek.  Whose story, exactly, are we living? Who is this character we’ve invented? Those are the questions Mark Matousek forces us to ask ourselves.

What’s your story? Discover who you are and what you want through the power of personal writing.  It's about asking questions and understanding who we are and why we are what we are.  Allow yourself to hear what I am saying.

We are going to be talking about who am I, accessing our soul or awakening our spiritual witness.  There is a beautiful story that I’ve always loved. A group of tigers in a forest leaves a cub behind by mistake. The tiger cub is reared by sheep. The sheep teach it how to act like sheep. It walks like a sheep, and it baas like a sheep, and it eats grass just like a good sheep should.

Now many years later, a tiger happens to be passing and sees this ridiculous sight of this half grown tiger behaving like a sheep. The adult tiger is appalled and sort of amused and drags the tiger to a pool in the forest, and there it shows the young tiger its own reflection.  The tiger begins to wake up to what it really is. The older tiger teaches the younger tiger how to roar. At first, all it can do is make bleeding sounds, but slowly the tiger roar begins in its throat and then after weeks of practice, it comes up to its master and gives the great roar of freedom.

This is how we spend our lives, although most of us don’t know it. We are taught to see ourselves as sheep, small, herd-bound, domesticated creatures defined by our physical bodies and an image of ourselves bequeathed to us by parents who think that they're sheep too. These parents give us names that are meant to define us, names that eventually grow into stories. These stories then come to comprise a self-image, whose legitimacy we believe to be iron clad. It’s not until we begin a process of self-inquiries, spiritual inquiry, that we come to understand that this way of life is a case of mistaken identity. Now, I have learned this myself through writing, that when we question our labels, our beliefs, our assumptions, we pull back the layers of mistaken identity, onion skin by onion skin.



Five Keys to Mastery with George Leonard

We are pleased to bring you this inspirational program inspired by George Leonard's Five Keys To Success.  

You can enjoy featured interviews with Carlos Santana, BB King and other highly talented and successful people from all walks of life. The program culminates with an insightful interview with George Leonard himself. The program includes a digital booklet outlining the 5 Keys.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; follow your bliss; follow your heart; answer your calling; go for it; go for broke; seize the day; give it up; find yourself; do you; keep it real; jump in; play your position; live with passion; be true to yourself. “How can I describe the kind of person who is on a path to mastery? First, I don’t think it should be so dead serious. I think you should understand the joy of it, the fun of it. Being willing to see just how far you can go is the self surpassing quality that we human beings are stuck with. Evolution is a whole long story of mastery. It’s being real. It’s being human. It’s being who we are.”

George Leonard, 5th Degree Black Belt and Author

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Reflections on Suffering with Ram Dass

RamDass-Reflections_on_Suffering-Cover-BLSuffering -- the nature of it, how to be with it (ours or someone eles's), what attention we give it in our lives -- can be a major dilemma for most of us.  We often don't know how to be with it, whether to embrace it or shun it, give it space or re-direct it.  In this brief yet profound excerpt from "Reflections on Suffering", a talk given by Ram Dass in 1987, the heart of the matter is revealed, offering succint and direct teaching and wisdom on the place that suffering should have in our lives.

Now, just as I said before, if you are going to be able to deal with see somebody else’s beauty, you have to be able to acknowledge your own beauty. In a similar way, if you are going to be able to be available to someone else’s suffering, you have to be able to acknowledge your own suffering and be able to understand the nature of suffering in such a way that you have converted the quality of suffering in yourself.
Gurdjieff, the Russian philosopher said, “There is nothing that can be obtained spiritually without suffering in life, but at the same time, if you are going to proceed on the journey you must sacrifice suffering.”

You hear that dual nature of it. You have to have suffered because the suffering is what burns through you and what deepens the compassion and opens the door. Suffering brings you closer to the mystery and at the same moment, if you hold onto the suffering and grab at it and sort of wallow in it or cling to it, it stops the journey.
There is an understanding of suffering such that you don’t invite suffering into your life, but when it comes, you work with it and transform it. The extreme of it is the Christian monk who is saying, “God, God, give me more pain. Give me more suffering because I want to get closer to you” and Maharaji saying “Do you like suffering or joy?” and saying, “I love suffering. It brings me so close to God.” 

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