The Challenges We Face
By Peter Shepherd
I feel that the human nature of Mankind has progressed little over the centuries. Yes, we have made great technological progress, and there is more equality in some respects, there isn't so much of the barbarism that occurred in older times. But there remain fundamental problems in the psyche of most individuals, such as the schism between left and right brain thinking, between fixed male and female ways of being. And the vested interests in our society resist any kind of progress, free thinking and open-mindedness... the oligarchies, the 1% for whom equality, sharing and compassion are swear words.
I think we need to evolve, to move forward as a race, and then we stand a chance of resolving the immense social, cultural, economic and ecologic problems that are staring us in the face. Human nature has to change. That’s all!
It’s that or going over the edge of a cliff, as H.G. Wells foresaw:
“Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe.”
If you don’t care about personal growth, that’s OK. You might be quite happy and you will stay that way, until something happens that you don’t have the resources and wisdom to handle – then you may go downhill. Or you may get old and wonder where your life went, since you had been living in a safe but limiting cocoon. Or you might be pretending you’re quite happy, because you don’t want to face that actually you are living someone else’s life rather than what you want to be doing, and that you spend considerable effort avoiding things you don’t want to confront. Or you might consider that painful emotions are just a part of life that is inevitable, and you can continue to live with this suffering.
Many people are waiting for technology to advance further and solve the problems of Mankind. However technology is just a tool. It can raise our standard of living. However it’s primarily intended to create desirable consumer products that make the rich richer and that profit the few. That’s all. The real issues remain – greed, lust for power, intolerance, prejudice, fear – the qualities of the human animal based on a competitive struggle for survival, and all the fears that result.
Most people do nothing, and so human nature continues to create all the problems that we see in the world, on a personal, familial and social/political scale.
Unfortunately our society provides very little education about the challenges we face in our lives - there is no school of life other than hard knocks. Indeed, we very often receive misinformation from parents, teachers, colleagues, media, religion and the culture in general.
If we cannot meet our challenges we are stressed and confused. We retreat to safe but limiting solutions. If we do not truly know ourselves, we are unaware of our needs, our values and our purpose. As a result we fail to live a life that is fulfilling. Stress, confusion and lack of fulfillment makes us unstable and far from peaceful in our being.
We react instead of respond. We regret the past and worry about what the future may hold, instead of being fully involved and mindful in the present. We suffer from painful emotions, frustration and low self esteem. We become unconscious of our loving inner self and its natural insights into universal truth.
Or transform your life
Instead, it is possible to ‘find yourself’ through releasing the limitations you impose on yourself as a result of your upbringing and negative learning experiences. Only in this way can you fully and freely love – without judgment – your fellow man.
You can have a much better life if you are true to your core self, therefore guided by love and intuitive inner knowing.
You can be an oasis in the lives of your family, friends and community, to uplift their lives with your presence, to help make the world a better place.
That’s what is needed today: you being… YOU. With no fear in your life as you are overflowing with love.
I believe truth is to be found by viewing the world objectively, always keeping an open mind, keeping all beliefs open to revision. Seeing what is. And secondly by combining objectivity with a conscious looking within, to what the heart is saying. This source of inner knowing relates to the spiritual essence of a human being, whose motivation is essentially service and compassion founded on unconditional love.
This is quite apart from the mind and instincts of the human animal that empower the ego. Our animal motivation is primarily fear, reacting to perceived threats to survival, and therefore leading to envy and greed.
We truly need to know our deeper heartfelt selves, to find our inner loving core. It is for each person to discover their own version of truth and to recognize the universal values it contains. The measure of that truth is alignment with the values of loving service.
With open communication, we gain in understanding, we see reality more clearly, our empathy increases and we feel compassion.
A life based on compassion & loving service
We can find the truth that underlies each of the challenges we face in life. We can recognize our fears and where they derived from, the fixed ideas and conditioning we hold onto. We can let this stuff go and take responsibility, to take the loving, caring, compassionate and kind view, that is always the source of truth and insight.
By implementing these insights into our everyday life, we can start to follow our spiritual path. This means we will remain conscious and responsible whatever the situation, and at the same time involved and flowing with the stream of life, connected with all around us and profoundly appreciative of every moment of our lives.
This is unbounded thinking... We experience. We learn. We share. We progress.
Jeremy Bentham stated, “It is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.” But that’s not necessarily true… The end does not justify unethical means. The only way the majority could be happy if the minority were suffering as a result, is if they had become psychopathic: with empathy switched off and compassion missing in action. This blindfold is called expediency and occurs a lot in the world’s socio-political-economic systems, even perhaps in our local neighborhood or family. We get used to ‘switching off’ and it’s time that we as individuals awaken to our responsibilities – to the mutual connection with our brothers and sisters everywhere. Personal development goes beyond personal happiness and extends to the true fulfillment that we can best obtain through loving service and shared responsibility.
Improving the quality of relationships is the key to a better world to live in. With tolerance and genuine listening all problems can be resolved – these result from a state of being that integrates mindfulness, compassion and loving service. The qualities of an awakened human BEING… connected with inner knowing, the source of universal truth that is part and parcel of our essential loving nature.
This is what the world needs – without all the false dogma and political manipulation we see with established religions and the closed-minded protection of vested interests. We need to begin living a life of service based on compassion, instead of a selfish life based on a barrage of fears. We need to become conscious of who we really are, as human beings rather than merely human animals. Communicating and creating instead of enslaving and going to war.
Finding our Higher Self
The holistic path of personal growth includes the development of our inner conscious awareness, our spiritual self. Our awareness of awareness. This isn't our thinking mind, our personal identity or ego, it's senior to that. It's our mindful self (ironically named as it's actually a no-mind). It's connected to others, to nature, to our spiritual source. It's our Higher Self, from which derives our inner knowing.
When we talk about spirituality it is either referring to qualities that have a spiritual nature, like compassion and love, even coming from an atheist. Also we may refer to God. We each have our own ideas about this concept, but it can only be one actuality. I consider God to be the universal creative consciousness, powered by love, that is indeed the source of those spiritual qualities.
By ‘universal’ I mean all-inclusive. All that is - or “All That Is” as they say in India. “Who is God?” is therefore the wrong question... but at the same time, we ‘feel’ God as a presence. As Jesus said, “My Father who art in Heaven.” And we ‘feel’ our Higher Self, our spiritual nature that is not contained only within this 3D material dimension. But because spirituality is all-inclusive, it is one and connected with Nature and all other Higher Selves, essentially. Like a mountain is one with Nature, even though it is an individual mountain.
What has all this got to do with personal development? Well, it's this spiritual connectivity, this Source, that is responsible for the inner knowing that each of us possess. Not intellectual knowing, valuable as that may also be in its way, but a knowing and guidance that exists intuitively and beyond, way beyond, our single mind. Since spirituality is essentially Love, we know that truth is always to be found in the path of love, and this is a fabulous guide that is available to each of us as we face our life challenges, as we search for insights and the best path to move ahead.
Our inner resource of Love, then, is more than equal to the challenges we face.
More about this in my podcast - The Meaning of Blessing & Surrender:
This is something Peter put together that is close to his heart. It's a free daily meditation program to help you make the state of unconditional love an integrated part of your life, which is key to lasting joy and fulfillment.
Plus check out Your Inner Truth, a phenomenal range of journaling tools to help you find the truth of your situation. You may feel stressed, or confused, there may be a lot going on and choices to make that seem a bit overwhelming. Or you may simply need time with yourself, to decide what is it you really want... and just who are you, really?
Communication -> Understanding -> Reality -> Empathy = Compassion
The CURE is Compassion