Unhappiness and the worship of false gods

The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity” – Leo Tolstoy

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Pablo Picasso

The famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung was once asked by a BBC journalist whether he believed in God. Pausing for a moment, Jung answered: “I don’t need to believe I know.”

While institutionalized religion is essentially a doctrine of what to believe, and how to behave, Jung was referring to experiential spirituality that has been embedded in the collective consciousness of mankind for eons.

Humans have always instinctually felt that there is a creative force within and beyond transcending the self. Derided as a Mystic, Jung is today regarded as a pioneer in bringing together science and religion.

For the Mystics, spirituality cannot be defined as a theology. We all have those precious few moments where we feel a sudden clarity of mind, have an epiphany, or when everything suddenly falls into place. These are rare occasions when consciousness touches authentic soul nature.

When we are disciples in service of the greater good, we will perceive that driving force within that some describe as a real feeling of happiness, contentment, and satisfaction.

Worshipping the false Gods

In the spiritual vacuum of much of our materialistic culture, we are however taught that happiness comes from the worship of things. It is all about HAVING instead of BEING. We are sold an illusion.

Self-worth is defined by what we own and what status we have in society. It is about feeling significant rather than BEING happy. Individualization, personal needs, and wants take precedence over the holistic needs of community and society at large.

We have seen to what extremes individuals took what they perceived as their “personal freedom” during the pandemic and the culture wars over issues such as environmental protection. An entitlement culture will always be at odds with collective responsibility.

The more attention we focus on the external the more disconnected we become from our divine nature within. The “selfie-culture” in the form of self-worship and narcissism inevitably leads to unhappiness, disappointment, and ultimately depression. The ego appetite to be significant, to be seen, and to be heard is insatiable. A preoccupation with the self compares and is never grateful for what is.

There is compelling evidence that the secret of happiness begins when we begin to transmute the needs of self in service of the bigger whole. It is at the root of all the great religions. Matthew 6:21 tells us: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

In Taoist and Buddhist teachings the worship of the 10,000 things is the root cause of unhappiness and one of the biggest obstacles to spiritual transformation. It refers to the human tendency in getting stuck to concepts, thoughts, beliefs, concepts, and idol worship.

Numerous studies have found that when we help and serve others the brain releases happy hormones such as dopamine,  oxytocin, and serotonin. It can help us feel that we are living a meaningful and significant life. Happy hormones counteract the effect of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline that eventually rob the body of energy and cause fatigue.

Life is ultimately spiritual practice that brings consciousness to every moment of daily living, amid all the distractions, complexities, turmoil, and challenges. When we navigate that personal path and go into alignment with the higher self, it is comforting to know that we are protected and guided, that all in the bigger picture has meaning.

There is a prayer or personal mantra I say to myself each day after getting up in the morning. It has been truly transformational to my life in a multitude of ways:

Lord grant that this day may prosper for me. Lord turn from my path all harm. Let this work on earth become thigh heavenly sacrifice. Make me an instrument of thigh will and peace.

Planning and structuring your day is important but at the same time, we have to humbly surrender when external circumstances are out of our control, and adapt accordingly. Sometimes when things don’t go our way it might just be for our own good. The universe could have a different plan and we are blind to the bigger picture.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Our so “easily offended” society

During recent travels with long hours spent at airports and in planes, I witnessed several people ranting over the smallest things not going their way. My impresson: We seem to have become a society infected with the “easily offended” bug.

It is not only my subjective impression. The United States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has reported that last year was the worst on record for unruly passenger behavior. Admittedly much of it was mask-related but I have seen passengers insulting air hostesses, punching the backs of seats, or verbally abusing fellow passengers.

There appears to be a real decline in basic politeness and respect for the public space with the pandemic-related restrictions only highlighting what has become an increasing problem: The “right” to throw a tantrum and utter verbal abuse no matter what the consequences.

Unfulfilled expectations: The cause of much unhappiness?

We as a society appear to have become less resilient in dealing with unforeseen external circumstances out of our control. Western culture has become so accustomed to its comfortable lifestyle that a minor discomfort is perceived as a massive problem. Compared to previous generations and life in poorer countries we live in unparalleled abundance and luxury. However, the more we have the less appreciative we seem to be.

When we are confronted with a “painful” or uncomfortable situation it can mean one of several things. Person A steps back and says to herself/himself. “I can’t change the situation now. Let’s see how we can go from here.” Person B has had a certain expectation that has been disappointed. He is unable to reflect like person A, and loses control. Unfulfilled expectations from a parent, an employer or a partner could be at the root of the problem.

Ego getting in the way

The person losing control has a certain ego-based image of himself, feeling entitled to a “privileged” treatment based on an illusory image of the self. Person A might have gone through a previous painful experience but dealt with it differently. What did I need to learn from this experience? What event in the past made me feel the same way hurt, embarrassed, helpless, and angry? By momentarily removing himself from the situation, Person A could realign with the wiser higher self.

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What does the Will Smith incident tell us?

The media frenzy unleashed by the actor Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock on stage says much about our collective unconsciousness. Smith felt offended because the comedian allegedly insulted his wife in public. In retrospect, it appears Smith’s uncontrolled angry outburst could be related to his childhood trauma when he often witnessed his father insulting and abusing his mother.

But do we have to find excuses for inappropriate behavior? Where do we go as a society if we tolerate and accept abusive, impolite, violent, and disrespectful behavior, even from famous people? If they can do it why can’t I?

Smith’s action was that of an entitled badly-behaved Hollywood megastar, feeling entitled to walk onto a stage, slapping another person, returning to his seat, cursing and shouting, and refusing to leave when asked.

In our media-based world, we take much of our moral cues from what we see and hear on the screen. It is not just two Hollywood celebrities misbehaving whose world is far removed from the average person in the street. What happens in the coming weeks and what consequences and conclusions are drawn from the incident reverberate into society at large.

Feeling offended is so different from having to express”outrage” at what is obviously wrong. While Hollywood was dining and celebrating, Russia continues to bombard, and massacre civilians in Ukraine. Millions of ordinary people’s lives have been completely disrupted because Vladimir Putin felt “offended” by a democratic and sovereign nation on his borders.

If we are incapable of expressing our collective outrage about what Russia is doing to Ukraine and try to intellectualize it like some commentators still do with “the Russian perspective” or with the “neutrality” cop-out, we lose our moral compass. On some issues there just cannot be grey areas. Minor discomforts fade into insignificance if we reflect on the suffering of those millions of people.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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When things start falling apart

Things seldom fall apart suddenly. A leak in the roof of a house will drip by drip gradually weaken the structural walls. A country’s slide into authoritarian rule comes with many small repressive laws. A divorce is preceded by many hurts, insults, and betrayals. A company’s bankruptcy comes after years of poor management and missed opportunities.

Traveling through my home country South Africa during the past few days, I have been wondering how the ruling African National Congress (ANC) government could so utterly lose its moral compass and ruin every major state-run enterprise through corruption and mismanagement.

When Nelson Mandela steered the country to democracy in 1994, South Africa was hailed as an example to the world. A race war was averted. A new “rainbow nation” of diverse cultures was born. Mandela and his compatriots sacrificed their best years in prison for this ideal. I covered the elections of 1994 as a journalist for a major news agency and visited the country again in 1997 and 1998. There was a sense of optimism and euphoria among all race groups. Foreign investment and tourism flourished.

A serving culture is turned upside down

It wasn’t to last. The ANC always had a dark underbelly of hardened ideologues and self-serving opportunists. During the presidency of Jakob Zuma (2009-2018) the ANC elites turned from serving a country to looting a country. Literally, every municipality, hospital, school, postal service, energy supply company, and public transport system run by the ruling party today is malfunctioning, or not working at all.

The rot can be seen in derelict railway lines, potholed roads, collapsing bridges, and lack of basic services in once-pristine rural towns. I was aghast to learn from old friends in my hometown Dundee in the eastern KwaZulu Natal province that the water supply is switched off for most of the day because pumps have not been maintained for years. Electricity outages are almost a daily occurrence.

A culture of entitlement

What is happening in South Africa has its roots in a culture of entitlement that is a growing global phenomenon. Mankind has experienced an exceptional period of material upliftment, luxury, and comfort that previous generations could never have dreamed of. It has, unfortunately, come with a huge cost to the environment, physical and mental health. When a society is indoctrinated with a “happiness recipe” of material gain and immediate gratification, the hangover comes with addiction, depression, and fanaticism in the form of extremist political movements.

Instead of being grateful for what we have, we are constantly comparing ourselves with the happier, wealthier, younger, and more beautiful people we see in the tabloids. Instead of cherishing the present moment the mind constantly wanders to some distant future when we will be happily enjoying life with the million dollars we are earning annually.

A fertile field for dictators and demagogues

The entitlement culture is a fertile field for demagogues of all persuasions. In South Africa, influential politicians are demanding the seizure of private property and farms for redistribution to the poor – in effect meaning redistribution to themselves. Demagogues always find an external enemy to deflect from their own failures. As a result the ANC still enjoys massive support.

In Russia, a majority of people continue to support President Vladimir Putin’s horrific invasion of a sovereign nation. They seem to believe in the prosperity dream of a new Russian empire. In the United States a populist demagogue, calling Putin “smart” and “savvy”, is filling his war chest with donations from millions of supporters still believing that a democratic election was rigged. His chances of again winning the next U.S. presidential election are not unrealistic.

Tunnel vision: the hallmark of an entitlement culture

A hallmark of an entitlement culture is tunnel vision of the ego-mind. When in tunnel vision there is no evolution or progress of mind and spirit. The head-mind or “ego-mind” is caught in a belief. Its mind is made up of what is right and wrong in the world.

Head-Mind is incapable of listening to the alternative argument and will interrupt you before you have finished your sentence. They will tell you that 1+1 = 4. Nothing will persuade them otherwise. Their lives have been taken over by an alternate reality and they will be reaffirming their belief daily with similar believers in social media bubbles. Once entrenched in a tunnel-vision bubble it is virtually impossible to break down the walls the person has surrounded himself with.

What is the solution?

The worst thing you can do is try to convince a person that he or she is wrong. The ego-mind will never admit a mistake. Realization and humility mostly come after a painful process of catharsis. This is a path that only an individual will have to walk. Addiction to an ideology is comparable to the alcohol addict who will only seek help when everything has fallen apart.

The realization might come that a life of bliss is a perception. Material comforts and the satisfaction of basic needs are important elements but will never be a replacement for good health, a sense of purpose and meaning, friendships, and community. We, humans, are innately social beings and spiritual in nature. Where we feel a connection to something larger than the self, nationality, gender, and race, the journey to joy begins.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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One journey ends

The journey is never-ending

This weekend we finally managed to hold the memorial service for my father in South Africa two years after he had passed away in a retirement home at the age of 89. Even after such a time, it felt right to have a ritualized formal closure to remember a life and its final destination.

Dad’s journey through life was at times shaken with the pain of losing loved ones, confronting his own mental winters of depression, and financial challenges. The relationship between fathers and sons has a special dynamic and my relationship with him can be described as difficult at times.

As a young man, I had a problem understanding why Dad’s brothers were dynamic, outspoken, and self-confident men who had built successful businesses and careers while he in contrast preferred to take a backseat role unable to really make decisions, often faraway in thought and not really present during conversations.  He could withdraw for weeks into a moody silence.

It was only in his twilight years that he opened up and it began to dawn that the seeds of depression and nervous breakdown had already been sown in the regimental and bullying educational culture of the 1940s in South Africa, coupled with overly high expectations from his own father.

Having emigrated from South Africa to Europe in 1981, I could only come for sporadic family visits, surprised at his gradual transition to a stoic reflection and meditation on the multitude of lessons that life has to offer. He retained a sharp mental focus until his dying hours that we could witness only by remote with Covid travel bans having taken effect a few days earlier.

The pilgrimage: An analogy of life

Sifting through a few memorabilia and fading photographs my thoughts turned to the Camino. The ancient pilgrimage in northwestern Spain has become a popular modern-day path of self-discovery and spiritual renewal because it is in so many respects an analogy of life.

The pilgrim faces “winter days” of emotional and physical pain. A route and day are carefully planned but inevitably turn out with pleasant and also nasty surprises.

Lesson: Take each day as it comes. It’s necessary to plan but assume that you will have to adapt and change your plan. Accept external circumstances out of your control but control how you react to them.

On the path, you will meet and bond with people in a way as if they were old friends and family. You will share deep experiences and feelings. Some will become lifelong friends, even partners. Others you will never see again and not even know their surnames.

Lesson: The impermanence of life. Some people and family will walk with you for a lifetime. Others only share with you a short chapter but will most likely have left a lasting impression, precious memory, or lesson in self-awareness.

Life is a roller-coaster of spring, summer, autumn, and winter – sometimes even in one day. But when reaching the destination, walking into the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela you experience the immense joy of having accomplished your journey. The cathedral and all its artwork, sculptures, and lighting are an expression of ultimate joy and rebirth. It is not only the joy of the pilgrim having accomplished the journey.

Life is a spiritual journey of meaning and purpose. It is a journey of grace and faith in the truth of an ultimate journey where one day the walls of the physical fall away, leaving just space for the soul that is eternity.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Leadership: The good and the ugly

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. —Max DePree

During these times when the images of the horrors of war are constantly troubling our senses, it is so important to remain grounded. Every major crisis at the same time offers opportunities for realignment and change.

What we are seeing before our eyes is a vivid display of two different styles of leadership: One is that which galvanizes forces into positive action and service for the common good. The other is impervious to empathy, rooted in self-aggrandizement and intrinsically destructive.

Evil eventually destroys itself

Malignant narcissists, psychopaths, and highly egotistical individuals are inevitably drawn to leadership positions where they have unhinged control over large groups of people whom they can subjugate and bully into submission. They surround themselves with sycophants because they can’t bear criticism from others questioning their decision-making or authority.

Such authoritarian leaders, who eventually convince themselves that they have been elevated to God-like status by destiny, eventually ruin themselves and the companies, institutions, or nations that they have taken charge of. For, deep inside during those lonely hours at night they are haunted by their own insecurities, fears, and paranoia.

Unsurprisingly everyone that doesn’t toe their line is deemed as the enemy. Those who believe, think, and act differently are seen as enemies, foes, and competitors that need to be destroyed. The first stage is dehumanization by language followed by ever more evil acts of bullying and physical aggression. They ultimately leave a terrain of scorched earth if it serves their own purpose.

Good leadership is one of service

In contrast, the visionary leader sees his or her role primarily in that of service to others. They prioritize the self-development of others in their institution, team, or country. They are constantly aware of their own shortcomings and thus able to delegate, train and transmute their own shadows. Primarily they have the ability to listen, accept advice, admit mistakes, and correct them. They are in acceptance of one of the principles of creation – the chaotic diversity of life, ideas, and cultures.

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Authoritarian leadership is inevitably doomed to failure because the imposition of an individual belief or will is anathema to the chaotic and diverse beauty that calls itself life.

The French poet and novelist Victor Hugo first coined the phrase: “Nothing else in the world…not all the armies…is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

Around the globe, we are seeing a collective uprising of millions of people marching on the streets for peace, humanity, democracy, freedom of speech, sovereignty, and simply the right to live the life we are meant to live.

Good leadership as opposed to bad leadership serves the truth and never its own version of reality. During a time where truth becomes blurred by falsity we need wise leadership based on the intrinsic values of a common humanity.

Without fear, no courage. Faith overcomes fear and hope springs eternal. A vision that is of service empowers, strengthens, encourages, and instills peace and joy.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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We are one humanity

“You should feel beautiful and you should feel safe. What you surround yourself with should bring you peace of mind and peace of spirit.” —Stacy London

Events in the external world are a reflection of collective consciousness. Global tragedies such as wars and natural catastrophes are inflection points for humanity that guide us forward into an elevation of consciousness or catapult us backward into reflex actions governed by toxic emotions.

If we want to have peace in the external world we have to find peace within. Persons unable or unwilling to transmute the shadow aspects of their personality gaining uncontrolled power can sow untold grief and pain as we are seeing now in Ukraine.

The enemy reveals who we really are

But sometimes we need “an enemy” or the visible display of such gross injustice to galvanize us into action and to clarify our own moral compass and value system. What we are seeing on a global level is a battle between a world of freedom of expression, tolerance, and cultural diversity on the one hand versus 19th-century nationalism, violation of basic human rights, and authoritarian rule by a male Macho figurehead.

The 21st century is seeing a growing awareness that we are one humanity and that we can only survive as a species if we collectively address the common threats to our existence such as climate change, or deadly viruses that know no national boundaries.

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The last battle of the old order

Our economic and cultural systems have become increasingly intertwined. Those pariah nations of the old order such as Russia, Belarus, and North Korea will become increasingly isolated, poverty-stricken, and desolate places to live while the rest of the world prospers. We just need to reflect on what massive technological, medical, and other advances have been made during the past ten years.

We are gradually beginning to win a greater understanding of the functioning of the human mind. Medicine is on the threshold of finding cures for most of the deadly diseases of our time, slowing the aging process and extending lifetimes manifold. We have access to more information and knowledge than all the generations before us.

On the spiritual level there is a silent revolution happening with experiential spirituality, the language of the ancient Mystics, finding new expression. There is a growing rebellion against the hypocrisy of religious institutions and the clergy telling us what to believe and how to behave.

The end of Macho culture

Putin represents a male Macho culture of the past that must know its days are numbered. In our new order, we are already seeing a growing number of excellent female politicians with a leadership style that is more holistic, and empathic. History has provided ample lessions that disagreements are ultimately best resolved with dialogue and not by military subjugation.

For the moment we watch a tragedy unfold before us in Ukraine on a daily basis. It is a time when most of humanity can show its true resolve. The brave Ukrainians are also fighting for our basic values and self-respect. This is why we are seeing hundreds of thousands of ordinary people from Paris to Sydney taking to the streets. We are made more aware and gratefel that the freedoms we have are not a certainty.

The clock cannot be turned back. On an individual level, it is those “flat on the ground” moments, those times of greatest despair and grief that force us to dive deep into soul nature. The moments of pain also offer the greatest opportunity for transformational change and a new beginning.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Evil casts its shadow

“Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants himself to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” Carl Gustav Jung

For millennia mankind has grappled with the question: “If there is a God, why does he allow evil?”  Defining evil and recognizing evil can also be a difficult undertaking where the lie is sold as truth and truth gets turned into a lie.

Self-love and the acceptance of the human condition

What Jung tried to tell us is that if you don’t accept this duality of light and shadow within, you will soon find yourself on a path of much self-created pain and suffering.

Only in unconditional acceptance of the imperfect human condition, and self-love of all aspects of the personality can grow the seeds of forgiveness, tolerance, and compassion.  This is at the heart of the teachings of Jesus and the ancient Mystics. The fundamentalist Christian concept of original sin meanwhile has been distorted into a culture of guilt and self-mortification. It is the perfect breeding ground for hypocrisy and intolerance.

The enemy is also the teacher 

In the pull between the identity of the opposites, spiritual growth and the evolution of character takes place. Are you kind, generous, compassionate, and loving?  Or are you rude, greedy, inconsiderate, spewing hate and anger? The decisions and habits we make on a daily and hourly basis can tip the scales in either direction.

Are you nurturing the God in your heart or feeding the demons in your head?

We need the enemy, and the opposite perspective to gain clarity on our own core values and choices. Humankind has been given the power of choice. Are you falling into the shadow or going with the light?

The tragedy is that the character once held by the stranglehold of the shadow demons finds himself incapable of self-reflection. The phenomenon is widespread in some of the populist leaders of our time, trapped by their own egos and narcissism.

An individual unable or unwilling to transmute the shadow within becomes a very dangerous person when handed the control of an entire nation.

Such leaders easily get subsumed by the darkest parts of their character if they have not transmuted their shadow. Going back to the early days of Vladimir Putin’s rule we hear a man propounding democratic values and freedom of expression. From what is said, he was a good listener and open to advice – a far cry from the chilling autocrat, emotionally cold to the suffering of millions of people.

Other profoundly evil leaders such as Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Adolf Hitler had similar grievances that were expressed politically but probably stemmed from childhood trauma. All three dictators had bullying and abusive fathers. Putin grew up in poverty as a street kid and was often bullied.

South African leader Nelson Mandela by contrast, although having every reason to hate his white persecutors who locked him away in prison for 27 years, was able to transmute his anger and hate into wisdom, saying:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Evil does not come from God. It manifests itself where there is the complete absence of God. Every minute of every day we have the power of choice. Do we choose the God in our heart or the Devil in our head?

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Thought about death today?

The Dalai Lama once said that what surprised him the most about the human condition was that “Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.

And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Confronting our mortality is anathema in our western culture. We don’t talk about it and when a loved one passes we are expected to “get over it” and function again as soon as possible.

Cultural icons are expected to stay forever young. The dying are outsourced to hospitals and hospices and the dead are buried in well-manicured cemeteries far-off the beaten track.

Confronting mortality head-on

One of the multiple reasons for our mental health crisis and addiction epidemic is that we don’t confront our mortality head-on, compare ourselves with the Jones’ next door, and hope to live the “happy” life one day when we retire, when we get rich, when we find the perfect partner when we have that luxury car or that beautiful home.

There is a reason why the people in the small southeast Asian country of Bhutan are regarded as the happiest and most contented people in the world. Like in the world of our ancestors, death is part of everyday reality.

The Buddhist country encourages its people to think about death for at least a few minutes each day. Paintings, artwork, and house decorations often feature death. Funerals are an elaborate three-week event where the dead body is kept in the home before being slowly cremated over fragrant juniper trees in front of hundreds of friends and relatives.

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In Bhutan, death is merely seen as a transition to another dimension. The spiritual disconnect in our western culture has left no place for death or the ritual of death. I’ve had my fair share of loved family members and friends who have died during the past three years, jolting me back to reality and the age-old question: What are you doing with the rest of the days left in your life?

Because death is the big elephant in the room, we succumb to collective hysteria and grief when a well-known personality suddenly dies.

The University of Oxford Centre for Suicide Research found that the overall suicide rate in England and Wales rose by 17 percent in the four weeks after Lady Diana’s funeral in September 1997, compared with the average reported for that period in the four previous years.

A review of these patients’ case notes suggested that the influence of Princess Diana’s death was largely through “amplification of personal losses and exacerbation of existing distress.”

Talking about the human condition

We need to talk about the human condition, about death, our mortality, and that life at some point ends the way we know it. My passion is to help people improve their lives to such an extent that they have the vitality and energy to live out the life that they are meant to live.

Are you living the life you are destined to live?

Are you merely existing or living the life that you are destined to live? Are you stuck in a job or relationship that depletes most of your energy? Are you waiting for that day to arrive when you can finally start living?

Procrastination and fear is the biggest obstacle to the elevation of consciousness and spiritual growth. When you are doing things that are in alignment with your soul destiny you will, to quote Rumi, feel a river moving in you with joy.

If you are interested in diving deeper into the topic of goal setting, experiential spirituality, and an accountability coaching partner please contact me for a scheduled zoom chat and free get-to-know session.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Just another hill to climb

The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.

Warren Buffet

One of the worst chains of physical and mental habit is procrastination. Without action, there is no result.

We can dream, hope, and think our wishes will come true but they will only remain dreams if they are not followed up by action.

The pain of breaking the chains of habit are perceived as greater than the pain and the fear of facing an uncertain future. It is the reason we stay in dysfunctional relationships, fail to change an unfulfilling job, and refuse to change a diet that is ruining our health.

The universe will inevitably test your willpower

So often when we are on the brink of giving up in walking through that long, dark tunnel of obstacles, the breakthrough comes in the most unexpected ways. We climb a hill. We reach the top and then we find out that there is still another hill to climb. It is in such moments of despair that most people give up.

It is almost as if the universe is testing our willpower, creativity, and clarity of thought on the walk through life.

The yin and yang, the law of opposites, is an active process of life force, “qi” energy, swinging us from one extreme to the next in the never-ending cycle of growth and change.

Finding the balance between the extremes

The first light of dawn can only be seen in the darkness. Deep happiness is a feeling that is all the more intense after we have gone through the experience of sadness. They are both intense feelings. There is a fine line between love and hate, as William Shakespeare vividly portrays in “Romeo and Juliet.”

The moral of the story is that nothing good can come from blindly embracing fully one or the other.

In Act 1 Scene 1, Romeo is well aware of the close relationship between these two strong emotions:

Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love.

Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate,

O anything of nothing first create!

O heavy lightness, serious vanity,

Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms,

Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,

Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!

This love feel I, that feel no love in this.”

When we fall in love we tend to see the other in a rose-colored hue of positivity. Love appears all-encompassing and we are blind to character traits or habits that are difficult to reconcile.

The disappointment comes later when we move in with each other and the fights start over who is responsible for the grocery shopping or cleaning the bathroom. Shattered hopes and dreams of what an idealized relationship never was or could have been is one of the main reasons for the breakup of so many relationships.

Extremism has its roots in fear and lack of grounding

Much of the animosity in the political divide comes from the same energy—embracing either the right or the left of the spectrum without seeing the nuances in between. The one is the shadow of the other. Both extremes have a shocking level of intolerance and are rooted in fundamentalism that prevents them from listening to each other.

The tendency toward extremist positions is rooted in uncertainty and fear from a lack of grounding.

Mastering the mundane to grow spiritually

The Chinese masters placed great emphasis on this aspect—not only as crucial in the martial arts but as a life philosophy.

Without a solid foundation in dealing with the mundane, any type of self-development will come to naught.

The ancient Jewish sages went further in teaching that if we fail to master the normal daily activities such as looking after our health, family relationships, and livelihood, we cannot hope to advance to higher spiritual experience.

Thus, a good portion of life in the monastery is spent in cleaning, gardening, and other menial chores. It is not only a practice in humility but stems from the knowledge that mastering the mundane is the gateway to loftier spheres.

Physical exercise and the mindful carrying out of mundane chores are excellent for grounding. If your work is mostly in a sitting position in an office, it is crucial to use breaks for walking or another low-impact exercise.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing...If you have found this article interesting you might want to read more in my books that can be ordered at all places that sell good books in both paperback and kindle.

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Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
― Aristotle

We are living in an age where our minds are drowning in information and thirsting for wisdom. Having worked in the media industry for most of my life I am horrified at how much the public discourse has degenerated into banal superficialities feeding on the exchange of toxic emotions.

What you are feeding your mind with you become. It has become more important than ever to stand guard at the doorway of your mind. A video or a statement that you coincidentally read while thumbing through your smartphone can trigger all sorts of emotions that might spoil the rest of your day.

If you are reading this you are probably one of the few people out there reflecting on what is happening collectively to our societies. Of course, there will always be conflict and social disruptions. It is part of the human condition. We are imperfect beings. But we also have the power of choice.

Fanatical fringe groups are hoarding the stage

My impression is that the dark side of humanity is being amplified manifold by the technical means at our disposal. Fanatical fringe groups and really bad people are spending most of their time bullying other human beings with hate mail. Social media is doing little to control this for a simple reason: The more emotionally charged a topic, the more clicks and the more advertising revenue.

You might think you are in control of what information you are feeding your mind with but most people are not. The social media and search engine algorithms are monitoring your usage and calculate automatically what posts you are most likely to read. In this way, they are shaping how you think.

Photo by Omkar Patyane on Pexels.com

Beliefs and opinions are being reaffirmed

Beliefs and opinions are constantly being reaffirmed in different realities and information bubbles. Families, friendships, communities, and congregations are breaking apart along these dividing lines.

We need a pushback from the quiet majority, those rational thoughtful people who are firmly grounded against these toxic emotional hooks. It starts with the question:

Is this information expanding my energy frequency or diminishing my energy frequency? Is the information helping me to grow and positively develop my full potential?

A common misconception is that knowledge, information, and education equal wisdom. How many so-called intelligent people refuse to learn from their own mistakes, have a fixed mindset, refuse to reflect on their actions or admit that they were betting all the time on the wrong horse.

The power of your associations

Innate knowledge born from the body of experience is wisdom. It is trusting your intuition and higher consciousness. If you surround yourself with wise friends, train your mind with spiritual books, and seek guidance from wise persons you will become wise.

It is also essential to practice self-care by setting firm boundaries to people, associations, and external influences that are depleting body, mind, and soul. Self-care is looking after your body, realigning with your soul by taking time out for silence and contemplation.

Choosing such a path will fill your life with much more happiness, and contentment because you are building the bridge to soul connection. Actions are directed at serving the bigger whole as opposed to seeking individual gratification. As the wise Greek philosopher, Aristotle noted wisdom begins by getting to know your true self.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing...If you have found this article interesting you might want to read more in my books that can be ordered at all places that sell good books in both paperback and kindle.

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