Tag Archives: spirituality

The “boiling frog” syndrome

A well-known fable tells us that if a frog is put into boiling water it will immediately jump out. But if the water is only gradually heated the frog will not perceive the danger and be boiled to death. The story is a warning of how a creeping normality of crisis situations delude us into a feeling of false complacency. We fail to act until it is too late.

Our daily habits, thoughts, beliefs and actions play a major part in determining our future. The compound effect of bad or good habits over a period of years and even decades are hugely underestimated.

The compound effect of good and bad habits

Eating for lunch a burger with French fries and a soda drink will affect your body but not harm you in a big way if you eat healthy foods most of the time and you metabolize sugars and carbohydrates with plenty of exercise. But eating mainly processed foods over years and decades will have a devastating impact on your mental and physical health in the long term.

In the same way if your self-talk is mainly negative about yourself or if you incessantly blame others for everything that is going wrong in your life you will most probably be a grumpy, unhappy and miserable person during old age looking back on a life not lived and opportunities missed.

How often have you been buying things you don’t really need because you said: “Its only a few pennies.” But added up over years and decades you could have put aside a small fortune in savings.

Complacency is our biggest enemy

Social and political developments in the recent past should be shaking us out of our sense of complacency and nonchalance. It appears that the general social consensus on values and norms that has prevailed for most of the past decades is seriously being eroded. An independent press, non-partisan judiciary and democratic voting procedures are seriously under threat in countries such as Hungary, Poland, Turkey and first and foremost in the United States. If the United States is no longer the world’s best example of a working democracy authoritarian rule as we see it today in China and Russia will entrench itself in many countries.

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Like a physical body gradually weakening from the effects of bad nutrition, you don’t perceive the spiral downward immediately. In my home country South Africa the seeds of maladministration and corruption were sown with the election of a populist demagogue Jacob Zuma as president in May 2009. For a while things, like the national airline, appeared on the surface to still be functioning perfectly. But after nine years the rot was there for everyone to see. Most parastatal institutions are bankrupted, leaving numerous towns and cities in dire lack of basic services such as electricity and water supply. It will most likely take generations to get South Africa back on its feet economically.

We tend to forget that political parties, governments and institutions have been created by bodies of individuals. They are a reflection of who we are. When a social pendulum of change swings into a new direction it is at first always led by a minority that eventually become the majority view.

A crisis is a way marker

Crisis situations, whether on a personal or collective level, always tell us that the status quo is no longer workable and that things need to change. The art is to perceive the small, telling signs that something is moving into the wrong direction and to adapt accordingly. It is the frog sensing when the water temperature is rising to a dangerous temperature and when it’s time to get out.

This is why some companies thrive by adapting to changing market conditions while others procrastinate. It is why some species adapt and others become extinct. Some marriage relationships adapt to changing needs and circumstances while others end in divorce. It is why the enlightened leader picks himself up during a crisis, using it as a tool of change in valuable lessons learned while the other stays in the shadow of self-pity and recrimination.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Beware the false prophets!

“The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.” Jeremiah 14:14

Organized religion arguably provides structure, meaning and community to many people battling with the struggles of life yet during these challenging times we are seeing a proliferation of “false prophets” capturing the minds of individuals with messages of  fear and guilt.

During my lifetime several good friends got caught in the web of religious sects, surrendering their lives including all their material assets to the group.

They would bombard me with enthusiasm of how their lives had been transformed by “the teacher” “priest” or “guru”. I would repeatedly be invited to attend a meeting and made to feel like losing out on something very important.

The common traits of the cult

Fundamentalist groups and cults of all persuasions share a common trait. They are tribally insulating,  separating the convert from all former friends, spouses, family and associates. Anyone not sharing the same belief structure is termed as a non-believer, or as the enemy.

After having made the enormous personal sacrifice of giving up an old life it is extremely difficult to escape. Few people have the courage to admit that they made a huge mistake by believing in an illusion. After all external ties have been severed the individual is at the mercy of the group in providing  a livelihood, food and shelter. The friend, son, daughter, spouse you once cherished as a carefree individual is bombarding you with quotes from the master. You will hear:  “But the guru said …”,it is the opinion of the guru that …” “the guru would not approve that …” “I would first have to ask the teacher if I can …”

At this point the friend or family member is far gone down the road of mind control, repeating the teachings of their leader like a recording device on automatic. They will find numerous excuses if you question the lavish lifestyle of the cult leader while the devotees are donating their last pennies. “Its all ultimately for a good cause,” they would say.

Decent and intelligent human beings are particularly vulnerable to the cult when they are going through a crisis of meaning or mental health challenge.  The “prophet” is the last straw of hope, seemingly offering the perfect recipe. What follows is the complete surrender of personal responsibility to the guru or belief structure of the cult.

The false promise of hope when people are vulnerable

We’ve had this phenomenon of “end times” during several historical cycles. During the Middle Ages most of Europe’s population was decimated by the bubonic plague. Science was at its infancy with the false prophets having easy play in convincing people that the deadly disease was God’s punishment for sinful ways. Persons not conforming to the shared belief were vigorously persecuted and often burned at the stake. The sins could be absolved by paying tithes. The higher the donation the “higher the likelihood” of having a good afterlife in paradise.

We falsely had assumed that humanity had become immune in the 21st-century to such crude preaching and the questioning of basic science. The messaging today comes in the guise of political parties with a charismatic figurehead and bearing all the hallmarks of the religious cult.  Several extremist parties in western democracies essentially are in the business of fear-mongering and xenophobia. They are supported by a billion dollar industry of alternative reality media stirring a cocktail of hate and negativity. The  first step toward authoritarian control is to dehumanize your opponent or the person with a different belief, culture or mindset.

Evil and delusion of the mind can always be identified by language of hate, disrespect for fellow human beings and blatant lies. Social friction points along race, gender and economic lines are over-emphasized. Division, dissent and chaos is sown by an “us against them” propaganda.

We are indeed living in dangerous times. A growing number of people are feeling left out and  stranded during rapid social and economic change. The uncertainty and fear is the feeding ground of the false prophets offering simple solutions for complex global problems.

The chosen few must commit to a strict code of conduct, belief and ritual.  

As human beings we make mistakes with feelings of guilt often deeply submerged in traumatic childhood experience. Self-esteem is shattered after a job loss or family break-up.  There is that underlying promise that by committing to the cult  those bad feelings will disappear. In reality the  guru will repeatedly stir the feelings of inferiority to maintain his stranglehold.

Protecting our vulnerable family members from the false prophet is no mean task. The groundwork is laid in strengthening self-confidence, self-esteem, self-love and a spiritual mindset based on common decency and respect.

Experiential spirituality is freed from the shackles of fundamentalist belief in the awareness that we are fallible and incomplete human beings, learning the lessons of life as we go along.

The truth is that there is no one-truth. God’s garden is made up of a multitude of plants, animals, cultures, religions and languages. The beauty and adventure of life lies in the individual exploration, the  opening of new doors and walking onward new paths of insight and knowledge accumulation in becoming of who we really are.

External belief systems have too often in the past been forcibly imposed, robbing the individual from essentially living a life of meaning, authenticity and soul purpose.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Humility and the lessons of adversity

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels”

Saint Augustine

Humility seems to have lost the battle against pride. Our world of social media has provided the perfect stage for narcissism and self-aggrandizement with the world of illusion taking precedence over what is real and a fake.

On one of my Camino walks in northwestern Spain I met a pilgrim who told me: “If you don’t walk the Path with humility it will force you into humility.”

Walking the Camino is in so many ways walking through life. Every day the path has new lessons to learn where the pilgrim is confronted with new and old emotional demons.

The last section before reaching a destination is sometimes the most difficult. You are relieved that you have reached the top of a mountain and then you find that you still have another even bigger mountain to climb.

It is why so many people who started walking the Camino as hikers ended their journey as pilgrims, learning on the Path that when going slow and finding that inner rhythm, external personality merges with the internal needs of the soul.

An emotional and physical breakdown leads to the breakthrough

When we are confronted with adversity and almost insurmountable challenges, the path of life forces us from pride into humility. The wounded soul is cracked open for the light to shine into that inner truth.

Sometimes you have to shut a door and walk away from everything in order to rediscover who you really are. You are forced into falling forward and opening a new door.

David Bowie once said that “aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.”

The elderly person surrenders to the cycle of life, the inevitability of death. There is nothing more to prove. There is a quiet solitude and acceptance. It is the same when an identity built on the weak foundations of personality breaks apart after a financial disaster, the loss of a job or a divorce.

Transformation begins where the world of certainty crumbles

There is a deep human need to be seen, to be heard and to have certainty. But when the world of certainty crumbles truth is revealed. This is the opportunity for real transformation and recognition of soul.

Pride and narcissism is about self-interest while humility is focused on being of service. If people are in search of their calling and having difficulty in finding an answer the clue is always in finding that niche where individual talent finds expression in the act of service for the bigger whole. You will have surrendered to that bigger plan that the universe has in store for you.

What is humility and what is pride?

Humble people are unafraid of expressing their vulnerability, and pain, and to seek help. They are listeners rather than talkers. They accept the transitions of life and are willing to learn from them while the narcissist in his pride is always right and is immersed in the illusion that the world is owing to him. He will always blame other people for his failures and take accolades for accomplishments that were none of his doing. Too many of such people find themselves in leadership positions causing much pain and suffering to all those around and ultimately to themselves.

Humility and adversity teach us that we always have another mountain to climb during life’s up-and-down cycles. Climbing those mountains make us more resilient. As long as we are alive we are never done as human beings. It is during those moments when we think that we are done that life inevitably throws another lesson at our feet.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. Check out the latest online courses for you to download and our special Retreat on the island of Majorca in October this year.

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Unbecoming who you think you are

We all need a purpose closely aligned with our personal philosophy and value system but can easily lose track of that purpose if we feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges and go into automatic mode.

When we let powerful emotions such as anxiety and fear take over we tend to seek gratification in external gods that keep us feeling empty and small. We seek set patterns of predictability, giving us the illusion of security. We function within a framework of the same road to work, the same friends and colleagues, and the same pattern of thought and thinking.

When the comfort zone of familiarity crumbles

It is when we are jolted out of this comfort zone by a crisis, when things go horribly wrong, and when the map of familiarity crumbles that we are freed from robotic habits, and seek new purpose and meaning. We need to unbecome who we think we are.

Every now and then it is necessary to seek out those quiet spaces in meditation, walks in nature, and alone time to recalibrate on whether the road I’m travelling on is in alignment with my personal value system and philosophy.

Our predominant thoughts and emotions determine the outcome of all our actions. If you believe that every person out there is an unfriendly cheat you will inevitably run into just these persons. If you on the other hand question your labelling of people every time and fundamentally believe in the goodness and kindness of human beings you will be mainly surrounded by such people because you emanate what you think and feel to your surroundings.

Taking time out to realign in nature

Mindsetting into a positive framework of opportunity

If you program yourself with a mindset of scarcity and that money is the root of all evil, you will never have enough. If you turn this thinking into an abundance mindset and really believe that the universe always provides at the right time, things will turn out this way.

Walking in new surroundings and going into uncharted territory is a huge challenge for humanity at this moment in time but also a huge opportunity.

Institutions including the big corporations, government, politics, religion and mass media have become dysfunctional. A crisis such as the pandemic has only brought to the open what has been simmering under the surface for some time. These institutions are made up of individuals often in automatic mode in their boxes, losing sight of the bigger picture because these jobs provide ever less opportunity for individual creativity.

Our mind becomes less anxious if we let go of the attachment to things we believe to be set in stone. Life is unpredictable and always in a cycle of change. One door closes and another opens. Those “flat-on-the-ground” moments are an opportunity to heal the wounds of the past, and to rediscover soul purpose and meaning.

Stepping out of the treadmill

It is vital to step out of the treadmill of routine, predictability and habit every once in a while. If you are marking the calendar and counting the months and years to retirement, or to the next vacation, you need to realign and restore meaning.

We have to sometimes carry out unpleasant tasks but the more we go into resistance when we carry out these tasks the more energy-depleting they will be. We can compensate such routines with fun activity that renew and refresh. It is when we do not count the minutes, when we lose the sense of time in tasks of creative imagination and aligned with our own values and soul purpose that we are in flow with the rhythm of the universe.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. Check out the latest online courses for you to download and our special Retreat on the island of Majorca in October this year.

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Are we living in a religious society?

“I have come to the conclusion that whether or not a person is a religious believer does not matter. Far more important is that they be a good human being. ” – Dalai Lama

The other day I took a walk up a mountain in the northwestern part of the island of Majorca where the hiker has a panoramic view of the little villages and towns below. On the highest visible points you can see the convent of Santa Lucia and the monasteries of Santuari de Cura, Randa and Santa Magdalena.

These ancient buildings date back to the early 13th century when the peoples reserved the best and highest places to build their places of worship. The villages, still largely intact and unspoiled by mass tourism, still have a chapel or church as a “central anchor” of a harmonious architecture that blends naturally into the landscape.

Architecture as an expression of human consciousness

Architecture is an expression of human consciousness. During the early Middle Ages the external world was aligned with the inner world of consciousness. The concept of a creator of all things was never questioned. Religion was embedded into the concept of church and society that controlled all aspects of life.

Winchester Cathedral, United Kingdom, AD 1093

The word religion has its origins from the Latin “religio”. St. Augustine followed the interpretation of other scholars who saw the origins in the word “ligo”, meaning to bind or connected to something. Religion is closely associated today with a fixed “belief” in something.

Competing beliefs and religions sowing the seeds of conflict

Religious doctrines of a belief in a God or higher deity, which had a monopoly over thought and belief over centuries, today compete with many other thoughts and beliefs in an age of information overload. Never before has humanity had access to so much information and knowledge. At the same time humanity is losing its compass with increased access to knowledge going in line with loss of wisdom.

Our journey as human beings is ultimately like a river flowing into the sea with our path taking us from the body into the spirit, from form into formlessness and from time into timelessness. The disconnect between external material an inner soul need and purpose is one of modern man’s biggest calamities.

The consumerist “God

The architecture of modern cities are a stark expression of the religion of material and consumerist worship. It is the dominant religion of today. God whispers through nature and nature has been exploited, destroyed and pushed to the outskirts of life.

The difference between religion and spirituality is that religion defines a belief system. The followers of a “belief” have to adhere to a code of conduct in terms of rules, mannerisms, and obligations. Fixed belief has the tendency to exclude, condemn and separate itself from all those who do not share the same belief structure.

Social change and upheaval have the tendency to fan the flames of all the “isms” that we thought we had overcome. Truth is turned into a lie or an illusion. Sound scientific research is labelled as fiction. The validity of democratic institutions and elections are being questioned, especially if those that don’t share the same belief happen to win. As tolerance and acceptance of diversity wanes, the mayhem of chaos and violence increases. Throughout history great suffering has come from narrowminded intolerance.

The worship of personality cult

There is the faint hope that adherence to fixed “belief” is temporary and gradually evolves into something different. During times of uncertainty the temptation to take refuge in dogmatic belief is great but is ultimately unsatisfying as these beliefs feed on fear, hate and other toxic emotions. The need “to be right” comes from insecurity that find expression in the worship of personality cult in political parties, and in the high priests of consumerist culture on Instagram.

In raised spiritual consciousness the belief transcends into tolerance and the constant daily confrontation with the shadow. Who is the “God” that I am attached to? Where does my anger, my jealousy and my hate come from? If we find realignment with the true self we don’t need to feel small and insecure. We don’t need other people to agree with us in order to feel justified.

The purpose of religion is really to practice our true nature, which according to the Dalai Lama, is simply kindness.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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God, nature and the Duke

Ritual and ceremony like the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh strikes a particular chord with millions of people but there is much more to why we are so obsessed with royalty in a modern era where institutions are in crisis and there is a general loss of purpose and meaning.

There is a particularly heartfelt scene in the new movie “Victoria & Abdul” where Queen Victoria laments the death of loved ones and the point of it all. Abdul replies: “Service. We are not here to worry about ourselves. We are here for a greater purpose.”

The power of service

Service has a different meaning if it is by personal choice compared to an inherited obligation from birth as with a monarchy. Born into an age of patriarchy, it must have been a difficult decision at times for the Duke to stand back and walk two steps behind the Queen.

With the subtle choice of the hymns and psalms for his own funeral, the Duke sent a powerful message to the global audience.

One of the most poignant moments of the funeral ceremony was the rendition of Psalm 104 set to music by William Lovelady and first performed at a special celebration to mark the Duke’s 75th birthday. The psalm is a celebration of God’s creation and the power of nature.

The song praises the splendor of the heavens, the light of the sun, the expanse of sky reaching down to meet the earth, the movement of clouds blown by the wind, and the flashes of lightning – all an illustration speak of the magnificence of the Creator dwelling in and ruling the universe.

If we want to understand God we must study nature

The deeper message is that if we want to understand the concept of God, we need to study the fundamental principles of nature. In contrast to ancient man, the industrial man sees nature as an object to be conquered, extracted, exploited and utilized. It is part of the illness of modern-day blind narcissism.

The disconnect from the spiritual self, the loss of meaning and purpose is responsible for much of our mental health crisis. Healing our planet starts with healing the self. The deeper we immerse ourselves in nature the stronger the growth of connection, belonging and purpose.

At a point where all the senses are opened to the universe, there comes connection with the frequency that vibrates within all that is living.

One and the One within diversity

“All creatures seek One, even the lowest creatures seek the One, and the One is perceived by the highest,” according to the 13th-century Mystic Meister Eckart.

A principle of nature is the diversity within the “Oneness”. Meister Eckart explains that it is impossible for the whole of nature to break or spoil, or even touch anything in which she does not aim at a higher good for the thing which she touches.

The song of Psalm 104 is an “outpouring” of life itself. Each part is interpenetrating the other. To the question of who or what is God, Eckart replies: “God is.” The act of being is the same as being in all things.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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From brokenness into transformation

“Resurrection is not just consolation — it is restoration. We get it all back — the love, the loved ones, the goods, the beauties of this life — but in new, unimaginable degrees of glory and joy and strength.” Tim Keller

There have been times in my life where I have wrestled with the question why an all-powerful God and creator can allow evil, injustice and cruelty to prevail. How can a God of love and compassion want at the same time suffering?

Some beautiful Renaissance paintings depict Jesus bleeding and hanging from the cross with the Pharisees mocking him with the words: “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” (Matthew 27:42–43). They missed the point.

The key message of Easter

The key message of Easter is one of hope, rebirth and resurrection after experiencing brokenness, hurt and suffering.

After the resurrection Jesus asks the skeptical disciple Thomas to place his hands into the wounds of his hands and his side. Jesus carried his scars and wounds as the visible signs of having transmuted the pain and suffering.

The idea of God being both a God of Light and a God of darkness comes from a simplistic perception of a three dimensional reality. We have the external world of sensual and material gratification, the dimension of the soul having a human experience and the divine dimension that encompasses the other two. The Mystics compare the external world of distraction to the darkness of the night, the human experience to the morning of life itself in the striving toward the eternal of midday.

What is soul purpose?

Suffering, pain and the brokenness is that part of life that sculptures us into the human beings we are destined to become. The external world is in a constant cycle of change, impermanence and movement. Suffering comes essentially from a mindset of attachment to that which was and is no more. Soul purpose finds connection to that which is aligned to the universal truth.

We are imperfect beings and a “work in progress”. A particularly deceptive part of the “wellness and positive-thinking culture” indoctrinates us into thinking that there is something wrong with us if we have moments of melancholy sadness, depression, anxiety and fear.

Suppressing negative feelings is not authentic and creates inner turmoil and stress. In extreme cases it might even lead to mental illness. The expectation of a narcissistic external world to function and perform in a certain way or to showcase “borrowed” material possessions is a major road block to elevation of consciousness.

The 13th-century Mystic Meister Eckart ruminates on the question on how God can “really destroy a man by himself?” He goes on to say that we should humble ourselves but because we are unable to do so sufficiently, God does it for us.

Elevation of consciousness

“The highest height of elevation lies in the deepest depth of humility. For the deeper and lower the ground, the higher and more immense the height and the exaltation. The deeper the well, the higher it is,” according to Eckart.

Goodness, light, compassion and love comes when the soul is closely joined to God. The greater and harder the struggle, “the greater and more praiseworthy the victory and the honor of vanquishing.”

Evil is defined commonly as the opposite of good. In the view of Mystics such as St. Augustine it is the complete absence and disconnect from inner purpose and God.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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Surrendering to the pain of the past

It is just part of the human condition that we  have about 70,000 thoughts a day with most of those thoughts revolving around cravings such as food or on the past or future.

The melancholy sadness over that which was and is no more holds many a mind captive. If you find that you are caught in such a downward spiral it might be useful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What other avenues did the loss open up in my life?
  • What lesson did I learn from the mistake and how can I avoid making the same mistake again?
  • I blame nobody and take full responsibility

The addiction to please

Relationships between loved ones, family members, friendships and associations are often  the biggest challenge. The fear of being thrown out of the warm cave by our tribe is deeply embedded in our genes. We will therefore bend over backwards to be seen, to be heard and to be liked.

It is the reason why we stay in toxic relationships that have long outlived their purpose. It is why love for another person is often confused with self-love, especially when we expect another human being to compensate for an inner void.

The contract between souls

The ancient mystics believe that no relationship is coincidental. The intensity of a relationship is defined by the underlying current  that brought you together. The soul contract is to be teachers for each other so that we can grow in spiritual consciousness. And, sometimes the teaching can be to set a boundary by going  into isolation from a particular person, especially if this is a family member who  inhibits your growth or prevents you  from pursuing your  full potential.

What timeline in dealing with sorrow?

One of the biggest sins is not to live the life you were meant to live in terms of your individually mapped out destiny. The invisible wall is most often the difficulty in surrendering to the pain of the past. “You need to let it go,” is a saying that often comes from friends and family who mean good. But dealing with sorrow, grief and loss has its own timeline. It is not like just turning a switch and going into “happy mode”. It is not authentic and if your pain is not transmuted it will come back to haunt you later in life.

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

Remaining in faith and trust

The 13th century Mystic Meister Eckart has some wonderful words of comfort for those having difficulty in letting go of the pain of the past. “God is not a destroyer of anything good. He fulfills. God does not destroy but completes nature.” And in the same vein he recommends surrendering that pain to the “highest order and highest nurture.”

Staying in faith and trust is possibly one of the hardest trainings in patience but Meister Eckart also describes it as the highest schooling in spiritual training and elevation of consciousness.

Even the smallest of actions can be turned into spiritual training of “staying in the moment”, according to the Spanish Mystic Theresa of Avila (1515-1582). There is a story of how she once confronted a nun in her monastery complaining about having to do kitchen chores, telling her off with the words: “If you don’t see the dear God in the pan you don’t see him at all.”

It is in those “darkest night of the soul” moments where the chains of the ego are broken and space opens for change and a new beginning.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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From loneliness into solitude

We have all at some stage in our lives had to deal with loneliness or the feeling of being left alone. I’ve always had to deal with different facets of loneliness on my pilgrimage walks on the Camino. There is a subtle but important difference in feeling lonely and finding solitude.

Pablo Picasso once said that without solitude no great work of art is possible and the singer Naomi Judd describes solitude as “refreshment of the soul”. Transmuting loneliness into solitude is a deep dive into the true self.

But the feeling of an empty loneliness is pervasive in our modern society that then turns into an obsession with external and illusory gratification. This comes from the lack of solitude in a noisy world with the echo-chambers of the media world tugging at us. There is a constant drumbeat of how we are supposed to be living our lives.

Living a life of having or a life of Being?

Living a life of having instead of a life of Being is bound to disappoint. But the lie that life begins when we have that house, that car, that perfect spouse or that perfect job is robbing you of the preciousness of the present moment. Ask anyone having heard the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease, or having suffered a great loss on how priorities can change overnight.

A disconnect from the spiritual lies at the core of loneliness. There is a deeper meaning to Jesus’ teaching: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Photo by resa cahya on Unsplash

Self-care and self-love as the path to bliss

It is a commandment to connect the heart to the soul – in essence to connect with God. But this is only possible if you love and respect yourself. If you don’t practice self-care and self-love, you will be constantly pulled out of alignment. What you are you will attract. If you are feeling angry, frustrated and judgmental, you will attract that energy. You will especially be blaming others for your feeling of unhappiness. Current politics is a reflection of society and its its underbelly of unconscious mind that seeks to blame, vilify, distract, distort and turn the lie into truth. Unhappy people have the tendency to pull other people into their unhappiness. It is the fuel of nationalism and xenophobia. Our time is incredibly vicious with its bombardment of noise and visual sensation.

Connecting to the heart, to the innermost being of soul, is only possible during solitude. The 13th century Mystic Meister Eckart describes the process as a “detachment” from the external world and to be empty. “The detached heart does not ask for anything at all, nor has it anything at all that it would like to be rid of. Therefore it is free from all prayer and its prayer is nothing else than to be uniform with God.” He describes what the masters of Zen Buddhism call the bliss in the space of emptyness.

Befriending inner solitude

While personality and ego is still focused on the validation from the external, the soul nature finds connection to the divine during solitude. The divine is felt in nature itself, in the vibration of deeply inspirational music or in the quiet contemplation of a work of art. There is no fear of death as this is merely a pathway to another dimension. We are eternal souls currently having a human experience.

As you start befriending your inner solitude, the contrast between the chatter of external thoughts and the authenticity of the deeper self become clearer. At times you need to withdraw from the world to get a clearer picture of who you really are and for what purpose you were born.

Making room for silence

Having conducted a multitude of workshops on stress resilience and preventive health during the past decade, I am convinced that our modern lives have become so noisy and cluttered with stressful thoughts that too little room is left for silence. It is almost as if we are running away from the blessings of the spiritual.

Fyodor Dostoevsky is quoted as saying:

“A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and, in order to divert himself, having no love in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest forms of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal. And it all comes from lying – lying to others and to yourself.”

Recognizing the inner truth is the recognition that soul and purpose are closely intertwined. Growth of consciousness is an ongoing process of discovery, re-definition and reconfiguration. It is part of the wonder and mystery of life.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. I will also host from March 17th every week for eight weeks a live online event of practical Qi Gong exercises to boost flexibility and mindset.

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The happiness illusion

Our culture has been indoctrinated with the happiness illusion with the self-help industry promoting the image of the perfect human being, successful in all areas of life and beaming a happy smile on social media outlets.

The “happiness” and “positive thinking” preoccupation is one of the many fallouts of a culture addicted to the distraction of the 10,000 things and immediate external gratification. Something is “wrong” with you if you are struggling with the challenges life throws at you.

Admitting to your surroundings that you are going through a bout of sadness or even depression is frowned upon.

Life is cyclical

One of the key lessons the pandemic is teaching us is that life is cyclical. There is never only growth, happiness, prosperity and celebration. The ancient wisdom of the Five Elements emphasizes that impermanence is an essential aspect of evolutionary growth and an inherent aspect of cosmic law.

Saint John of the Cross, the great 16th century Spanish mystic, narrates in the Dark Night of the Soul, the elevation of consciousness during periods of hardship and difficulty. In the darkest of nights the soul reaches the light in the union with the Creator. The ego has been killed and in that humility of quiet emptiness a door opens.

The architects of Europe’s finest medieval cathedrals were aware of this central spiritual message. The light from the stained glass is most pronounced when the light from outside illuminates the darkness within.

The power that lies within

Nelson Mandela, during his darkest of nights in solitary confinement, repeatedly recited and found solace in the poem Invictus written in 1875 by William Ernest Henley. The poem reminds us of the great strength that lies in the unconquerable soul during challenging times. In confronting adversity we come out on the other side greater and stronger as the “captain” of the soul.

The trap of falling into resistance

The greatest obstacle in transmuting those struggles, humiliations, losses, and relationship breakdowns is by going into resistance. Typically its the response: Why me? Who can I blame? Instead you should be asking: What is the universe trying to teach me? Which new direction do I need to take? How can this experience make me a more valuable, vulnerable, humble and a wiser human being.

Often the resistance is to making the necessary changes. You might have been pursuing an image of yourself that does not align with your soul purpose but has been dictated by the ego, your parents, immediate associations or other external influences. The universe gently nudges us into the direction we need to go but with so many distractions we miss the road markers on the way.

Life is a topsy-turvy world of ups-and-downs, challenges, failures, mishaps, disappointments but also victories, joys and celebration. One of the reasons why the deep walk pilgrimage is becoming so popular is that it is such a perfect analogy of life.

The entire Camino walk of five weeks can be a hard, painful slog through mud, bad weather, painful blisters and emotional flat-on-the-ground moments. But at the end of the journey there is boundless joy in entering one of the world’s great architectural masterpieces, the Cathedral of Santiago in northwestern Spain, and celebrating the accomplishment with fellow pilgrims.

It is upon the reflection of life’s journey that we become aware that from the day we were born, life sculptures us into the human being we are destined to become. It is part of the beauty of the human condition that the struggles define and make us who we are. Living authenticity is the unconditional acceptance of the low-moments as the precondition to fully experiencing the high moment.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

I have a special New Year offer on my latest book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul”. If you buy my new video Deep Walking with the key lessons from the book in my store, I will send you the paperback edition of the book for FREE.

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