Category Archives: psychology

You are not alone

No Man is an Island’

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

– John Donne – 

We realize when alone that we are not an island. During these times of crisis separation has become the watchword. It mirrors how far we have become separated in the relationship with ourselves and the natural world around us.

The writings of German philosopher Martin Buber seem particularly poignant. His most famous book “Ich und Du”, published in 1923,  roughly translates to “I and Though” with its central tenet that human life finds its purpose and meaning in relationships.

The separation from the ‘I’

Nature does not take revenge. If we go to war with nature there is merely cause and effect.  Perceiving the world, the earth, or the universe as being separate or external from the “I” is a belief-centered delusion.

Relationship is connection to Soul

Buber argues that ultimately relationship is about our connectedness to the inner soul spirit, God, or the Universe.  Ancient man and the hunter and gatherer societies are still very much aware of the connectedness of the inner spirit with the natural world.

Becoming with the Though

In the relationship with the “Though” there is a “becoming” into the wholeness of purpose and BEING. The essence of life, according to Buber, is found in the relationship with the other. With the emphasis of our culture from the “restrictions and obligations” of community” to the self-fulfillment of “individual freedom” we have fallen from one extreme to the other.

Pseudo-community or meaning is sought by the individual in pseudo-religion and the tribe affiliation to party political institutions. How else can we explain the blind following of the professional populist deceivers and the false prophets of our age?

Anybody who has gone through a divorce will know of the trauma left between two people who once loved each other. In the beginning, there is unconditional love. We see in the other, the Though, a merger or completion. Ideally, the partners support and empower each other in spiritual growth. But we often seek in the other that which has not been healed within. Disappointment is inevitable when the emotional shadows get triggered. The breakdown comes creeping slowly, respect gets lost when we see the other grappling with similar emotional issues. Communication is reduced to the mundane.

The soul journey is exploring the “Though” within. In the Gospel of St. Thomas, discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945, Jesus is quoted as saying:

“See the kingdom in the sky, then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you. ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father.” (Saying 3, p. 654.9-21).
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Covid-19 and empty spaces

Thirty spokes meet in the hub, but the empty space between them is the essence of the wheel.” – Lao Tse – 

In the hurried rat race of our modern culture, we have become so used to treading the treadmill of HAVING that we have forgotten all about the BEING. The spokes of the wheel are what is visible but what is really the essence is that which is invisible and holds everything together.

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It is in those quiet moments of loneliness where we are finally separated from the drumbeat of distraction that we find connection.

Western culture is in a state of spiritual disconnect, expressing itself in the fraying of economic, social, religious and other institutions and the pandemic rise of mental illness. The Covid-19 pandemic was just the trigger. The foundations of the house we have been building has been on shaky ground for some time in the constant pull between externation gratification and inner soul yearning.

Resilience is built from a good sprint and recovery cycle 

A life in imbalance with high stress not compensated by recuperation periods of empty space inevitably leads to a breakdown of the body’s natural defence systems. A healthy sprint and recovery system makes a body resilient to the storms of life. Check out my booklet on Resilience: What makes you strong?

These changes are leaving people anxious, scared, disorientated and confused. The first thing people do in such situations is to find someone to blame: The Chinese having started it all with lack of safety measures in a laboratory in Wuhan, politicians not having reacted early enough or having responded too harshly.

Making the best out of the current situation

If you are a spiritually orientated person you will find that such a mindset won’t get you far and make you feel even more miserable. On a personal level you can start by reflecting on your own mindset:

  • What opportunity lies waiting in the current situation?
  • What friends and associations can I cultivate via zoom or skype?
  • What clutter needs cleared in my immediate surroundings?

On a global level the universe is telling humanity with a major jolt to wake up. We cannot continue with the ways of old. We have to question our mobility patterns and what it means for the environment. We have to move from an exploitative economic system to a sustainable, restorative system.

In terms of the ancient Five Element philosophy, which finds many of its roots in Lao Tse’s teachings, gigantic natural or political disruptions do not come from nowhere but are unavoidable when we fail to see the signs of the elements being in imbalance. Nature is merely trying to restore balance when we initially only see the burned grounds before us. But with time grow the first seedlings from the ashes.

In our HAVING culture we have tried too hard to feed the hungry ghosts, exploiting nature to such a degree that major ecosystems and our entire global climate is in danger of collapse.

Living a life of BEING is being open again for those empty spaces where soul evolution takes place. Before our eyes we are seeing our world changing. Transmuting the emotions of fear and anxiousness and seizing the moment with courage and hope is the challenge.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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A changed world after lockdown

We are in the fifth week of our lockdown in Spain which has some of the most stringent Coronavirus rules in place. I was stopped a few days ago by police near my home who told me in no uncertain terms that taking doggy for a walk was not allowed if I had a garden where the dog could go outside.

Moving about is embedded in our genes

When this is over I will appreciate all the more my long walks in nature in the nearby Tramuntana mountains of Majorca. I have become more aware that moving about freely and traveling to faraway places has become very much part of our modern lifestyle. It will take a while to fully comprehend how farreaching an effect this is having on what we have perceived as fundamental freedoms. Our movements are likely to remain restricted for some time to come. What this means for the travel industry is anyone’s guess.

The urge to be on the move and discovering new places is embedded in our genes. Our ancestors moved from the trees to walk on the ground to seek new feeding grounds. For thousands of years, humans were nomads moving from place to place. As recently as 500 years ago there were still hunters and gatherers in many parts of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Finding authenticity on the journey

Jewish mysticist teachers made a point of sending their students on a journey to broaden their mental and spiritual horizons. It was also a way of teaching the scholar not to become too dependent on the Master and to find their own inner authenticity. Experiential spirituality in the mystic tradition is something awaiting discovery from within and cannot be imposed externally by rules of belief.

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Hiking trail, Majorca

The apprenticeship training of carpenters in Germany has for centuries followed the same tradition. After learning the basic tools of the craft from an experienced “Meister”, the apprentice goes on a “Wanderschaft” or hike to distant places to both finetune his skills and character.

Finding the empty space 

Every pilgrim who has gone on a pilgrimage on the Camino in Spain knows all about the “zoning out” into that empty space that comes when walking alone in nature for several weeks.  Experiential spirituality is a deep personal connection with the divine. Spirituality is all about following and remaining true to your divine purpose. Limitations to “Be-coming” are all too often set by the parameters of doctrine, parental expectations and the constant drum-beat of digital distractions.

When our senses are attuned to nature we find alignment with the universe. There is a close feeling of connectivity to the whole in the seemingly chaotic.

It is all the more reason to look forward again to my next annual pilgrimage. It might not take place at all this year on the Camino because we don’t know if all the restrictions will be lifted by summer. Meanwhile, it will have to be short hikes closer to home.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Lessons from nature on Covid-19

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree – Martin Luther – 

From a spiritual dimension, everything has purpose and meaning.

When we look at the coronavirus or Covid-19 crisis from the perspective of the Five Elements, the metal element comes into play.

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Covid-19 is attacking us where we are most vulnerable

We are seeing that the virus is spreading especially fast through contact and touch between humans with most of the deaths caused by an infection of the lung.

The metal element represents the body organs of the lung and large intestine on a physical level. They find expression in the nose, the breathing aspect, and the skin – the sense that we go into contact with our external world. The virus is ignoring boundaries of nations, ethnicity and religion. We are all in this together as a human race.

The insidious nature of the virus is that it is attacking us at the very essence of our behavior patterns. We greet each other with our hands as a gesture of politeness and friendship. We hug and kiss the people we love. We touch hands when we give comfort.

A time for introspection during lockdown?

The metal element moves the body energies inward.  This element represents the season of autumn when nature itself starts contracting. It reaches completion with the water element with plant life withdrawing into the roots and animals going into hibernation.

On the emotional level when the Element Metal is weakened we go into grief. Grief is much about the sadness about that which was and is no more. Our very world has changed and will never be the same.  There is much grief, sadness and fear (fear is the emotion of the water element) over that which has changed in our world and is no more.

Humanity has broken the code of nature

Our skin, which is the outer expression of the large intestine, is about setting and accepting boundaries whether we choose or deny body contact and what we inhale and exhale in energy around us. What we inhale we become. What are we inhaling in negative thoughts, news, and distractions? How much have we broken the code of nature in exploiting and destroying our own and the life systems of other living beings?

Moving from grief into courage 

Metal energy that is in balance has courage. Despite the fear, anxiety and melancholy sadness we are seeing many people rediscovering community. Health workers are working tirelessly to help others. Groups are helping to do the shopping for the elderly. Courage is facing the truth of the moment and regaining control. We don’t have control over the external circumstances but we have control over our reactions to them. Staying in the moment is the big challenge. It is acknowledging what is happening in the world, acknowledging our fears, our grief, and sadness, then to transmute those emotions into courage.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Coronavirus: Lessons for humanity

There are decades where nothing happens,

and there are weeks where decades happen.”

– Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

It was a beautiful sunny spring day in 1986. Nature was awakening from the long winter with white and yellow daffodils blooming on lush green meadows. Birds were singing and looking out to build their nests. Nobody could see the invisible enemy: Airborne radioactive contamination sweeping over northern Europe from the world’s worst nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl power plant in the Soviet Union.

Defining moments of history 

Radio and TV were warning the population, especially pregnant women, to stay indoors. It was one of those defining moments of history that precipitated the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

These last weeks have been a deja vu experience. Here on the beautiful island of Majorca, we are locked into our homes for at least the next three weeks as beautiful spring days unfold. It is one of the defining moments in a lifetime which we will remember like the 9/11 terror attack – where those of us alive at the time remember exactly what we did that day.

The fear pandemic

The coronavirus crisis is changing our world as we know it and teaching humanity a number of lessons.  The emotional, psychological and economic impact will be far more profound than the impact of the virus itself. I wrote in a previous blog that the uncertainty, global lockdowns and constant bombardment of negativity on social media are creating a global fear and anxiety pandemic.

During such times it is crucial to remain grounded and not to be distracted by the constant stream of coronavirus news trackers and horror scenarios.  Humanity is challenged enormously when everything that we know changes within days and weeks. For some, it is too much to bear and we need to be supportive, mindful and caring to those vulnerable people around us. Not only the old, weak and frail but also those who are feeling mentally on the edge.

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Raised human consciousness

The coronavirus crisis is one of the events driving humanity another notch up to a raised higher consciousness. Sometimes we need a jolt and a wake-up call like an alcoholic lying flat on the ground in desperation before he seeks a cure. Interestingly, the coronavirus is also called “covid-19”. In geomancy, the primary root number of the 19 is 1 (1 +9 = 10 = 1+0 = 1).  The one marks the beginning of a new era in the cycle of elements (spring or wood element). The 9 stands for the universal spiritual law, enlightenment, and service for humanity.

Having versus BEING

The opposite of the obsession and attachment to things is Living to BE. Being is opening the senses to nature, is living in the moment, and gratitude. We are social beings and happiness is in friendships and the love we give and get from the loved ones around us. The enemy is not another nation, another race, another religion, or another political party. We are affected globally by this challenge as a human species. We are having to move into a collective responsibility, especially in dealing with climate change and the destruction of our ecosystems of which we are an essential part. Moving from Having into Being is changing our entire economic system from exploitation to one than is sustainable and restorative. It is necessary and essential to our survival as we don’t have much time left.

The power of thought

Already we are seeing a counter-movement to the general feeling of despondency. Social media groups are developing fast committed to posting just positive news and funny stories. Volunteer organizations are being formed in towns and villages to help support the elderly who cannot leave their homes to go shopping. While we have a culture of narcissism focused on individual gratification and validation, the counter-movement is focused primarily on service and uplifting the community spirit. Challenges and crisis situations are also opportunities to rise to the occasion and to bring out the best in us.

Nature needs a break 

Friends living in big cities are telling me that they can hear for the first time the birds singing because there is no traffic noise. Pollution levels are down everywhere. The lagoon in Venice is so clear that fish can be seen for the first time because all the boats and cruise ships are no longer churning up the sediment. Nature is rejoicing in this short break from the human rat race.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

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Fear and the coronavirus

The coronavirus panic buttons are omnipresent. The fighting over toilet rolls in empty supermarkets to the social ostracising of anyone looking Chinese is telling us something about the fragile state of human society.

Where conspiracy theorists and professional deceivers on social media dominate the narrative fear takes hold.  Fear triggers stress hormones that switch off rational thought, putting the body into fight or flight mode.

Fear and panic stir the darkest sides of human nature with an “everyone for himself” attitude, nationalism, xenophobia and a fallback to the perilous age of pre-Enlightenment.

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Mass panic takes on its own dynamics and its anyone’s guess how long the economic fallout will be in the next few months: Complete breakdown of the cruise ship industry, and factories closing because of supply chain interruptions?

We know from neurological research that when the mind is under stress or in high emotional turmoil that cognitive and level-headed thought is impossible. You will not perceive or hear the voice of reason if you are in panic mode.

Let’s stick with the facts that come directly from the experts quoted by traditional media: The coronavirus is influenza.  If we take normal precautions the likelihood of becoming infected is relatively small and of dying from it even smaller. The victims so far have been predominantly among the elderly with a weak immune system.  With most people, it is a mild infection.

By early March the global death toll from the virus was just over 3,000 with most of them coming from China.  Both China and Italy have a large elderly population.

Humanity is faced by far greater threats than the coronavirus. Climate change has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods as a result of flooding, heatwaves and freak storms.  One person dies every 40 seconds from suicide. It is the second leading cause of death in the age group of 15-29-year-olds globally.  And lets just look at the death toll of the normal annual flu: At least 12,000 people have died from influenza between Oct. 1, 2019 through Feb. 1, 2020, and the number of deaths may be as high as 30,000 – just in the United States.

We are all going to die at some point. But in a world of spiritual disconnect, the fear of death is profound. Death is not something we like to talk about. We have banished the experience of it to old age homes and hospices.

Fear of death evaporates with spiritual practice. It comes from the realization that the body is merely a vehicle to higher soul elevation that moves into a different dimension when the sojourn on this earth has come to an end.  Within a different state of consciousness, the mind quietens amid the din of confusion and panic sirens.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

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Is religious being spiritual?

What is religious and what is spiritual?  At its best religion is a ritualized expression of the spiritual. At its worst, it becomes an instrument of dehumanization and control.

While religion focuses on who you are supposed to be by abiding by certain rules of conduct and practice, spirituality is all about becoming who you really are with all your unique, individual, God-given potentials and abilities.

spirituality

Religion is a doctrine that tells you what to believe, what group you need to belong to and what rules you have to follow. Spirituality is experienced from within. You believe because you have felt and experienced. You do the “right thing” because you just know what is good and what is bad for the Greater Whole.

Most of the many fellow pilgrims I have spoken to on my walks on the Spanish Camino would describe themselves as spiritual seekers rather than followers of a certain religious doctrine.

In becoming mindful and watchful for the subtle messages of the universe transmitted in dreams, images, and symbols, life takes on an entirely different meaning. Put in a different way: God speaks to us in many different ways.

We are on the brink of another raised level of human consciousness which is non-divisive, universalist, tolerant, self-reflective and compassionate.

At the same time, elementary and revolutionary changes are always confronted with a backlash from those defending the old order.

In recent years we have seen a frightening rise of movements seeking to divide and separate with fear-instilling messages, propounded by dangerous narcissistic and ego-driven leaders.

It is the natural pendulum of the yin and the yang. Energy is wasted in the hysteria over the actions coming from the shadow.

In going with the higher frequency of the raised consciousness, the danger is that we react with the same patterns as our adversaries. We also become hateful, ranting and vengeful.

Yet when seen according to the law of opposites that is the foundation of life, a different perspective can be taken. Identity is defined in terms of the opposite and it is often when confronted with the extreme opposite that we are galvanized into action.

(This is an extract from “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul”)
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

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Walking your walk

Faith in the biblical sense can truly move mountains. Theresa decides to walk the Camino in an act of defiance after her doctor tells her that the cancer in her body will reduce her lifespan to six months at the most and that she should settle her affairs.

She walks the Camino with soft feet, sending her backpack ahead to the next town with a taxi. She completes her walk and returns home a different woman.

“That was five years ago,” she tells me as we drink our café con leche in one of the many bars dotting the Camino. This time she is walking the Camino the second time.

We are only in the infancy of discovering the true connection between body and mind. So many fellow pilgrims I’ve met on the Camino were told by family, friends, and associates that they would never be able to walk almost 800 kilometers over five weeks. We are capable of so much more than we think possible.

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Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

The Austrian-born Jewish psychiatrist Victor Frankl (1905-1997) is renowned for his breakthrough research on the power of meaning. In his book Nevertheless, Say “Yes” to Life: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp, also known under the bestselling title Man’s Search for Meaning, he narrates several observations in the Nazi death camps.

While incarcerated in Auschwitz, Frankl counseled fellow prisoners with his philosophy that a striving for meaning, even in the most harrowing of circumstances, is what keeps us alive.

Inmates who gave themselves up became suicidal and died, while those who saw some meaning, like telling the world about the Holocaust after liberation, survived.

It was the “will to meaning” that looked to the future, and not to the traumatic events of the past, that sustained people.

Despite losing his wife and nearly all his family in the holocaust, Frankl refused to dwell on the past.

Even in the worst possible situation, man still has freedom of choice and the ability to seek meaning in whatever situation he finds himself in, he argued.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way,” he wrote.

It’s a simple but profound truth. It all begins in the mind.

It is why a cancer patient will very often give up when told of the diagnosis. The word itself is so loaded with fear and mortality that the patient sees no hope. The shocked reaction of family and friends is often not conducive to the healing process either when the patient is asked on a daily basis how “the cancer treatment is going.”

We also know from research that patients who overload their friends and family on a daily basis with all the details of their illness do much worse than those who refuse to mention by name the illness, merely telling everyone that they are in a healing process.

Most fitness and weight-loss programs fail because of a negative mindset.

After an initial loss of weight or a couple of exercise sessions, most people give up and return to old habits because they haven’t found the real reason in their mind why they want to reduce weight or get fit. Some people even end up being more obese because they have subconsciously tricked their mind into putting on more weight. “I don’t want to be fat. I don’t want to be in debt,” are a double-negative with opposite the intended effect.

Reformulating that wish into a realistic feeling that is actually felt as emotion and pictured as an ideal outcome really works.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

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A clue to happiness: How are you talking to yourself?

Humans are hard-wired to live in the past or in the future because planning and learning from the past has been crucial to the survival of our species.

Real joy comes from those magical moments of being absolutely present and experiencing spirituality, love and peace of mind.

Researchers have found that distraction, one of the major scourges of our time, is also a major cause of unhappiness.

Psychologists at Harvard University conducted a study with 2,250 volunteers, monitoring their thoughts and feelings, to find out how often they were focused on what they were doing, and what made them most happy.

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Photo by Aaron Huber on Unsplash

More than half the time people’s minds were wandering to other things. The researchers concluded that reminiscing, thinking ahead or daydreaming tends to make people more miserable, even when they are thinking about something pleasant.

Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral student in psychology and lead author of the study, wrote in the journal Science:

“A human mind is a wandering mind and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”

The human mind has between 60,000 – 70,000 different thought monkeys dancing through the head on one day. Becoming aware of these thoughts is the first step toward focusing on the moment.

It is an empowering thought to realize that you are in control of your thoughts and that with a little training you can regain control of these monkeys.

Thoughts are energy waves and they create reality. Where energy flows, the energy goes. The first step is to become aware of your current feeling. Is it predominantly, sad, angry, resentful, happy, or joyful? Negative emotions can sometimes be triggered by banal events, like a driver blowing his horn at you in a traffic situation. This then suddenly triggers an anger explosion that is completely out of proportion to the event. It would be one example of anger that has its roots elsewhere but hasn’t been transmuted.

Out of control emotions have a close connection to scattered thoughts and an uncentered state of mind. For me, deep walking retreats on the Camino in Spain have been a real eye-opener. While walking alone I was inevitably confronted by countless thoughts, especially during the first few days. It is part of the process of dumping old emotional garbage – some of which lie buried in the subconscious mind for years, sometimes to early childhood.

You will have made progress when you find your senses tuning in to the surroundings and becoming aware of the sights, sounds and smells around you.

What thoughts you have immediately after getting up in the morning have a major impact on your day. A dream could have stirred a negative emotion. But you are in control. You can reset your mind. You can set a positive anchor for the day with a meditation, a gratitude ritual, an exercise routine, a mantra, or a prayer.

Every time you catch yourself with a negative thought, you can train the mind to concentrate on breathing. Consciously counting the inhaling and exhaling sequence of breathing will immediately transmute that thought. If you click on my Podcast link below you will find a powerful meditation from ancient Qi Gong practice which I find enormously powerful and the effects of which can last for hours.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

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The power of choice

As a young newspaper reporter in South Africa in the early 1980s, I once covered a trial of a man accused of brutally raping and murdering a young girl.  Once during the trial, our eyes met and a cold shiver ran down my spine. I had the feeling that I was looking into a dark cold abyss. The man was eventually found guilty and sentenced to death.

Eyes reveal your true nature 

Eyes are a window to the soul and we intuitively feel whether they are kind, compassionate and loving or the direct opposite. We live in a world of polarities. There is good and there is evil.  The pull between the tides, night and day, summer and winter, expansion and withdrawal is part of the yin and yang that make up our world.

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Photo by Patrick Brinksma on Unsplash

 

The story of Good and Evil is deeply embedded in our subconsciousness from the first story in the Bible. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was planted by God with the commandment to Adam and Eve not to eat from it. Pain and evil started in the world when Adam and Eve broke the commandment and ate from the tree. The question often asked is: “Why did God plant the tree in the first place?”

Co-creating with the power of choice 

One of the answers: By giving man the freedom of choice, God separated him from other beings, giving him the power of being a co-creator.  Choice separates us from other beings who do exactly what they have been designed for.  Choice separates us from being mindless zombies to being human with all our doubts, our pains, and emotions. By experiencing the dark night of the soul we appreciate all the more rejuvenation and happiness. It is in the dark night that we often gain the greatest spiritual insight and wisdom.

The lines between good and evil are getting blurred

By seeing and confronting evil we know what needs to be done. But in today’s world of information overload, professional deceivers have been given a massive platform for mind control.  The lines between good and evil get blurred when a lie becomes a truth through repetition in the echo chambers of social media.

Where there is spiritual disconnect, the loss of alignment between the above and the below, lack of purpose, and emotional turmoil the power of evil will manifest itself. Put in another way:  There is evil where there is a complete absence of God. It is that power that destroys the air we breathe, the waters we drink and the earth from which we are nurtured. As within so without.

In the past religion taught us that doing good was by following commandments, certain rituals, and a certain belief system.  It excluded all others who did not follow this belief system.  The preachers, themselves very often fallible human beings, were those who defined right and wrong.

The spirituality of the New Earth is internal rather than external. It is alignment with true self and soul purpose. From that grows the intuitive wisdom and power of discernment. We do the right thing and make the right choices from the base of mindful inner awareness that comes with continuous spiritual practice.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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