Three Buddhist Principles that Lead to Material Wealth

 Material Wealth, a Buddhist Perspective 

The following principles are adapted from Geshe Michael Roach’s bestselling book, The Diamond Cutter. His story is about a Tibetan Buddhist diamond cutter, who worked at a fledgling company in New York that used the following principles to became a world leader in the jewel industry. 

The First Principle: Be successful and make money. 

Obviously, money needs to made in a clean and honest way. However, there is a misguided belief in the United States and many Western countries that making money and spirituality don’t mix well. Buddhists view money as a solution, not a problem because people with more resources can do more good than those without it. This article will address the following questions using the same ancient Tibetian Buddhist principles that the diamond cutters used to become a leader in the jewel industry: How to make money? Remembering where wealth comes from. What needs to be done to make wealth continue to come? How to maintain a healthy attitude about money? 

The Second Principle: Enjoy your money.

It is always important to keep your mind, body and spirit in good health as we make money. Creating wealth should not exhaust us physically or mentally to the point that we fail to enjoy wealth.  A businessperson who ruins his or her health while working defeats the purpose of doing business.  The goal of any business, ancient wisdom or any human endeavor is to enrich ourselves. It is important to prosper inwardly and outwardly. A high degree of physical and mental health leads to individual prosperity.  Once we are wealthy over the length of our life it is important to help others prosper. 

The Third Principle:  Looking back at the end of your life, can you honestly say…my life and business had meaning.

Business ends and people die. The goal of a life well-lived, when all is said and done, is to achieve the following realizations: I conducted myself and my business transactions with integrity. My presence created lasting meaning not only to myself but to everyone around me. And I left the world a better place because of my actions. As with all human endeavors, making money is completely consistent with a spiritual life; ideally it needs to become an integral part of our spiritual life.

Mental Imprints

According to the ancient books of Tibetan Buddhism, our mind records about sixty-five discrete images during a single snap of a finger. The human brain registers everything it experiences like a computer, so mental imprints always occur. Our daily transactions will consciously or unconsciously become mental imprints of self-awareness whether we help or hurt another. The strength which stand out or gets thrown in the recycle bin depends upon: 

    • our intentions and actions
    • strength of our emotions
    • how well we recognize what we are doing
    • the degree we own our actions after the fact
    • the effect of our actions on others

Our subconscious recycles bin retains these imprints for days, years and even decades. During a blink of our eye, they can go in and out of our awareness providing us the illusion of continuity or different realities. Fortunately, we have the power to create positive imprints that lead to success rather than recycling negative images and/or injunctions that become self-perpetuating trouble. Like ripened seeds thrown on fertile ground,  whatever thought we water…will continue to grow in our stream of consciousness. 

Negative Imprints

How do imprints facilitate failure or slow my progress? Normally they are accumulated effects of many negative actions and thoughts such as white lies, small bursts of negative emotions and thoughts like…stinginess, distrust, self-pity, criticism, etc. Negative imprints attract negative responses from others. The law of attractions says like attracts like. Positive actions lead to positive results. The world mirrors our reflection to us every day. Most people believe that they create their own reality so its very important to know how creation happens. The events in our life are being produced by imprints that lead to our actions, words and thoughts—good or bad towards ourselves and others. Everything has a hidden potential, is neutral and has a kind of fluidity about what it could be, until we set things in motion. Even a minor action, if undertaken with a conscious awareness of how imprints make us see an otherwise neutral or empty world as we do, will lead to negative, neutral, or tremendous results. 

“It is not a matter of Faith, but of Practice”

                                                                                                               -Thich Naht Hahn

Positive Imprints

Positive imprints are created through consistent actions, words and thoughts towards a wanted goal. For example, money itself is created by maintaining a generous state of mind. It is essential to understand that a lasting positive result cannot come from a negative cause such as cheating or hurting others. Our world is created through personal integrity or the lack of it. The raw materials that create today’s experiences were built from yesterday’s imprints, accumulated from past actions, previous intentions and/or thoughts.  Grace, fate and collective events such as wars and global warming occur, but we have control over the imprints used to respond to global events.  Here are some suggestions about how positive imprints can replace negative outcomes:

  • Causes come before results
  • Causes are smaller than their results
  • Growing things take time
  • It helps to have a tracking system, free of judgment or guilt
  • Record what you are doing
  • Understanding what you are doing makes change infinitely stronger
  • Always end with the act of truth

Enjoy even your smallest accomplishments towards total personal integrity. Imagine looking back on a day’s work and being able to say with total integrity,  I was totally honest throughout the day to everyone I met. My actions, words spoken and my most innermost thoughts were consistently positive and harmonious. In my attempt to embody equanimity, I was honorable, honest and mindful to everyone around me. And now I can say…it was a day of total integrity. Whenever you have a day like this and it will take some practice or even something approaching a day of total integrity consider an Act of truth. 

The Act of Truth

Calling on the following act of truth strengthens all the imprints for the day and adds a deeper level of meaning, when you meditate upon the following intention:

If it is true that, during this entire day, I have been mindful of all which I said to others, and did to others, and even of my thoughts towards others, and acted thus throughout the day with complete honesty toward each person I came in contact with, then may a new power be born. And by force of this new power may I, and all those in my world, achieve through our work true happiness, and prosperity, together. 

When Tibetans perform an act of truth, they image strong rays of golden light bursting form their heart as if the sun lived in their chest. They envision the light visiting everyone around them, whom they had contact with that day and then to the people waiting for these loved ones as they come home from their day’s work. 

March 2021 Eric Ehrke LCSW, LMFT is a psychotherapist at Ommani.  He sees clients on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Zoom, Skype, or telephonic services are offered.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

 

Terrorism and the Victim Perpetrator Paradigm

The tragic events in Washington DC on 1-6-21 inspired this article about Terrorism and its nasty co-conspirator…The Victim/Perpetrator Paradigm. Like the Bubonic plague in the Middle Ages and our current pandemic…they offer endless opportunities for suffering. Projective rage that festers due to political, racial and economic mistreatment has always been an aspect of the human condition. Corrupt leaders mislead the gullible. People dissociate from both…reality and trauma. Blamers look for victims. And perpetrators judge, punish and try to make others fear for their life. Perpetrators force gut checks and their victims are challenged to answer the following questions: 

  • If I succumb to the fear and control tactics of my adversary, am I also willing to lose my sense of self, safety and personal security? 
  • Should I take a stand…and fight fire with fire to prove my medal? 
  • Or do I steel my resolve, face the “perpetrator” eye to eye and seek peace while holding my ground? 
  • Which choice would you make, if terror knocked on your door? 

Students of history know that the terror tactics of one group often elicit similar responses from its recipients (i.e. Middle East). When eye for an eye philosophies rule, victims can become terrorists in return if they attack, control and become equally intolerant as a teaching tool for the perpetrating group. In order to fight fire with fire, they often dissociate from their own projective rage and may also engage in inhumane actions towards their neighbor. When this occurs, the original perpetrators often claim they were victimized to recruit more terrorists on their team. Like the childhood game, tag where everyone takes turns being it, terror tactics act spread like a virus or the flu, and often gets deadly…like Covid-19. On 1-6-21 social media went viral and corrupt leaders coughed on a mask-less crowd, they unleashed terror and opened the door to the victim/perpetrator paradigm. 

The shadow of a man speaking via megaphone is cast upon a sign quoting Gandhi. Toned black and white image.

On the other hand, when someone faces terrorism with love, gentleness and forgiveness, they are seen as wimps. Every spiritual master that terrorists supposedly represent tried to teach humanity to address problems with equanimity, loving intent and matching behavior. Unfortunately, throughout human history, unconscious people have killed most of the enlightened leaders and spiritual masters that try to teach us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Powerful teachers often shine a light so bright that the darkest instincts of every man, woman and child immediately get flushed out for everyone to see. The challenge before each and every one of us is to take responsibility for our fears. 

Unconscious people lash out and project their issues onto others. Killing a peaceful, spiritual master makes a martyr out of them, which gets their message out in such a way that helps and hurts everyone around them. Martyrdom makes them more famous and attracts more people to their teachings. The problem occurs when people link their death and suffering as something good, OK and sanctioned by the divine. It is never OK to kill or be killed as a teaching tool. No one ever needs to die for their mistakes or is rewarded in the afterlife for acts of violence and cruelty. 

We see some of the participants in the Washington DC consider themselves martyrs for a righteous cause. They believe they are doing it out of love, commitment to a cause and true loyalty. This is why martyrdom is such an insidious problem. The problem lies in the fact that terrorist acts are committed in the name of love. Anyone who uses pain, fear and death to achieve a goal is infected with significant illusion. Martyrdom is a complex problem. People do it from a sincere commitment to their cause with loving intentions, which is commendable at one level. This is flawed logic at its core since imprisonment and/or suicide isn’t a loving act towards oneself. It also begs the question, ”Does the world need to be fixed or created from rejecting democratic principles, harming innocents and/or slaughtering innocent people?” “Or should people offer their lives hoping that a compassionate God would want to stop the carnage or smile upon a group of people that intentionally harmed others or themselves?”

Terrorism demonstrates a fundamental lack of knowledge that we are all one. The act of harming anyone or oneself violates a core spiritual principle within every major religion. Acts of terrorism always represent people who are mired in the clutches of hatred filled projections of rage and righteous indignation. What about victims of terror who choose to live a positive life and refuse to be seduced into retaliatory terrorist attacks or martyrdom in return? They are beacons of divine light even though they may look too humble, meek and powerless in many people’s eyes. Power is a relative term. I invite you to consider the following questions.

Is it powerful to carry a gun and zip ties in your hand and poison in your heart? 

Are you strong when your soul cries out in pain and your mind numbs all of its signals that you are dying inside?

Are retaliatory acts in response to terror more acceptable than the initial ones that started it all?

 

The following information about The Victim/Perpetrator Paradigm and how to stop it comes from my book, The Promise of Wholeness: Cultivating Inner Peace, Mindfulness and Love in a Divided World (Rowland &Littlefield Pub.) You can purchase it at the Ommani Center or Amazon. 

 

Victimization heals with love and compassion. When retaliation and revenge become our primary motivation, a victim/perpetrator paradigm can develop. In this reciprocal relationship, victims can be compared to a catcher behind the plate in baseball, while perpetrators are pitchers. Each is convinced he or she is engaging in a solitary activity, but the catcher fails to realize how he throws the ball back to the pitcher to continue the game. This timeless dynamic allows the tragic drama of pitch and catches to endlessly recycle. Self-soothing pity-parties of helplessness, finger-pointing hopelessness and rage-filled retaliatory fantasies are the types of things keeping the ball in play. Victims tend to believe compensation is due for the pain endured. Society trains many of us to want retribution, feel it is our privilege to retaliate and believe we are entitled to do so because we have endured so much suffering. The seduction deepens when people take comfort in the pain and sympathy their story garners. Trouble occurs when we embrace our suffering to soothe our internal wounds. This gives us permission to disassociate from violent urges to retaliate against the perpetrator without examining our self-sabotaging behavior.

Under stress, a blamer blames others for what occurs in his/her life. The blamer lacks self-awareness or the necessary self-discipline to self-examine. This failure to become self-responsible combined with a dysfunctional primary love template of internalized pain and/or dissociated rage can lead to a victim/perpetrator paradigm. Those claiming victim status and perpetrators hold opposite sides of a reciprocal pole within the victim/ perpetrator paradigm, since both struggles with personal responsibility and internal emotional honesty. Perpetrators and victims victimize themselves and each other while claiming innocence and blaming the other, which recycles the victim/perpetrator paradigm.

Pain provides information about our internal malfunction and reveals imbalances in our body, heart and mind. Others mirror these malfunctions to us so we can see the reflection of our conscious and unconscious primary love templates. If a bully decides to be cruel to another child for example, the form of illusion provides the idea and the opportunity for a perpetrator to experience cruel impulses and the possible enjoyment or internal relief from watching someone suffer. The pain that the bully imposes on his victim is a mirror for both the bully and victim. The bully may feel a twisted form of empowerment momentarily by copying a perpetrator that victimized them. A victim may imagine retribution will right wrongs by dreaming that bullies “get what they deserve” later. At the core, the bully and the victim are exactly the same—both dream of power. The victim/perpetrator paradigm provides opportunities for everyone to see their reflection in the mirrors of illusion. Whether in that moment we are the bully or the victim, mirrors are provided with the strength and power necessary to get our attention so that we can see our twisted dream or cruel reflection and eventually find where love exists.

Here are some additional considerations within the victim/ perpetrator paradigm:

  • Perpetrators frequently were victims of violence and/or emotional or physical neglect.
  • Perpetrators seek victims and victims feel victimized and then flip-flop roles.
  • Anger/rage and helplessness/passivity are different reactions to the suffering continuum, but both methods dissociate from personal trauma.
  • Dissociation cuts off the ability to feel our own pain but seeing another suffer can provide a twisted sense of relief.
  • When emotional indifference and/or violence are modeled, the victim can encode a sense of unworthiness or invisibility as a primary love template survival strategy.
  • Violence projects internal rage onto another and is another primary love template survival strategy that masks vulnerable emotions within the perpetrator.

The victim/perpetrator paradigm occurs because perpetrators are usually disconnected from internal wounds within their own hearts, which makes any objective form of self-examination extremely difficult. Sometimes narcissism and entitlement primary love templates develop to mask emotional wounds, which blind us from realizing the harm we cause others. Unfortunately, on a bigger scale, recycled rage and love linked to pain is also the reason why the victim/perpetrator paradigm persists. Throughout human history, bullies, predators and abusers terrorize, while martyrs, saboteurs and those using other passive forms of rage tend to self-victimize. Children raised in these environments frequently link love with pain and abandon (self-sabotage or victimize) themselves in similar “invisible” ways just like the models witnessed by parents or abusers. This phenomenon is how cycles of abuse, victimization and self-sabotage have proliferated and perpetuated themselves in both families and the larger society alike. Healing and releasing a dysfunctional primary love template that evolves into the victim/perpetrator paradigm requires passionate dedication.

A perpetrator parent, for example, will, as twisted as it may sound, get a sense of relief from witnessing a child’s experience of pain. The complexity of the victim/perpetrator paradigm is that the parent is usually disassociated from his or her own pain but experiences a sense of relief when someone else is suffering. When an individual or parent is emotionally cut off from their pain, that person often purges their unconscious rage through periodic violent episodes…frequently focused on loved ones. The result of unconscious rage within the family unit is that the emotional needs of the child are in effect “invisible” to the perpetrator/parent. Children will tend to re-victimize themselves or perpetrate against others if their unconscious primary love template persists.

Primary love templates recycle until we become conscious and create a new path. Twisted over the millennia, this paradigm has mutated into the insidious virus we commonly call terrorism. Terrorism, in all of its forms, is a pandemic problem that we have yet to develop an appropriate response to as we just witnessed in Washington DC.

When Albert Einstein said, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another,” he probably knew that his brilliant observation also applied to emotion. Thus, emotional trauma can be transformed into love in a productive manner or a pernicious victim/perpetrator paradigm. Paradoxically, I have come to realize the baffling truth, through the examples of my clients, that untreated internal rage actually calms down when an unconscious individual witnesses someone else suffer. Maybe the Romans created the gladiator games for this reason. Deriving satisfaction from the suffering of another has been part of every culture throughout the world since the beginning of time. Who hasn’t felt compelled to watch another’s tragedy? As long as humans remain unconscious to primary love templates that link love to pain, repetitive cycles of violence, bullying, murder or abuse will occur and reoccur in families and society.

Our encrypted primary love templates and victim/perpetrator paradigms of neglect or abuse we inadvertently recycle are our responsibility to resolve. Reviewing and addressing every dysfunctional pattern recycling our suffering is a good practice and requires self-realization. It can be daunting to deal with victim and perpetrator tendencies on our own. Please seek assistance if you run into trouble because brutal self-knowledge is critical to untangling dysfunctional patterns and templates. Facing negative patterns on your own can be overwhelming.

Pleasure and true joy disappear when terror reigns. Righteous indignation is not a happy emotion. People attempting to be instruments of frontier justice just create more suffering. Vengeful Gods, unruly mobs and self-centered politicians are no picnic. Allow yourself a chance to live a good life by embracing whatever love and joy you may find. At least then you will have control of your heart and soul. The heart dies a thousand deaths when it is a servant of terror. It is better to die on love’s alter than embrace terror or the victim/perpetrator paradigm. It is always important to remember, we are all one. Love is like water it seeks low places so all the boats float.

February 2021 Eric Ehrke LCSW, LMFT is a psychotherapist at Ommani.  He sees clients on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Zoom, Skype, or telephonic services are offered.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

 

WISE AND LOVING INNER VOICE MEDITATION

This meditation is designed to help you master your interior mental landscape. Now more than ever, the ability to sustain loving behaviors and recognize illusion is an important survival skill, especially now during this pandemic. Unfortunately, science has become fake news and a lie…an alternate truth, as one political pundit suggested. This meditation provides a step-by-step method to discern your wise and loving inner voice versus those immature inner children and addicted aspects of your personality mired in illusion. Because all of our inner voices share the same brain, you cannot outsmart them. The following meditation is designed to help you learn to recognize your wise and loving voice in the midst of all the misinformation, which confronts everyone every day.  

Crows, monkeys and people have two voices, one is conversational and the other warns its clan about impending danger. Have you ever thought you were listening to loving inner guidance or sage advice and later discovered you were snookered by an inner voice mired in illusion pitching some harebrained delusion? Untreated trauma, unconscious templates and dysfunctional personal paradigms have belief systems, logic patterns and vocal signatures you can learn to recognize. Infant, child and adolescent stress responses can activate screeching monkeys and cawing crows sensing danger.

The Wise and Loving Inner Voice Meditation provides a reliable method to examine and evaluate every interior voice within your mind. Their logic patterns and vocal signatures can be recognized. Wise and loving solutions endure over time. Screeching monkeys and cawing crows fixate on danger and may not be connected to your heart and soul. However, we all have access to an inner voice that suddenly appears like a hummingbird and offers sage advice and enduring love. Discerning conversational eternal wisdom from internal voices that promote illusion is the goal of this meditation.

Noticing how we recycle our dysfunctional templates, paradigms and dramas infected with illusion is imperative for maturation. Your evolution into the higher realms of consciousness and personal sovereignty requires access to your wise and loving inner voice that knows how to embody all the forms. An essential aspect of this meditation is noticing and recognizing when illusion grabs the microphone in your head. Memorizing the distinguishing vocal characteristics of your internal hummingbird is a valuable asset.

You can access your enlightened inner voice and evolve intentionally when you ask the question, “What is the most loving thing I can do?” and follow the guidance received regularly. Intention and passion can flip the ignition switch, engage the engines of creation, and access accurate vocal discernment. Misguided mental strategies create suffering and become your destiny if you lack the intellectual curiosity or the emotional maturity to distinguish your hummingbird’s conversational whisper from cawing crows and screeching monkeys. Intention, passion and consistent action towards your goals awaken matching supportive energy from the universe. You can enter the quantum field when your body, heart and soul align its collective wisdom and love with your inner hummingbird voice helping you reach your goal.

The Wise and Loving Inner Voice Meditation helps:

  • Identify the logic patterns and vocal signatures of your inner voices.
  • Provide a format to distinguish loving wisdom from debilitating illusions.
  • Unify our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual natures.
  • Access positive intention to revise missteps and take corrective action.

This meditation uses repetition and practice, which create reliable outcomes, to help sort out your internal voice that possesses loving wisdom versus the inner voices mired in illusion. It may be useful to reread any of the forms that speak to you and do the Camel Wave Meditation on the next page to find the most mature inner hummingbird voice within your higher brain that can access the wisdom and love of your soul.

STEPS TO THE WISE AND LOVING INNER VOICE MEDITATION

  1. Ask yourself with heartfelt desire, what is the most loving thing I can do?

Center yourself and hold the intention to connect to your loving and wise inner voice that embodies the forms outlined in this book. The ultimate goal is to connect to your hummingbird voice, which whispers guidance from your soul to meet a personal need, want or private desire, while remaining in alignment with all of divinity, as opposed to listening to the cawing crows and screeching monkeys of the unexamined, unconscious mind mired in illusion.

  1. Determine a course of action.

Listen carefully for inner guidance from the hummingbird within and notice its logic, tonal and distinguishing qualities before following through with its recommendations. Remember your hummingbird converses and nurtures your heart and soul, but listen also those voices fixated on danger and suffering.

  1. During the activity chosen, revisit your inquiry to ask, does this behavior still feel loving now?

Halfway through the activity, check in physically, emotionally and mentally to see if you concur that the course taken feels like loving, sage advice. If your need, want or desire is being addressed appropriately, complete the activity, but check in regularly to see if your original strategy feels wise and loving over time.

  1. Check again repeatedly after completing the activity.

Review and reassess your results an hour later, the next day, or sometime during the following week. Ask yourself, “Does this behavior still feel like loving sage advice now?” You can even check a month or a year later to determine if the behavior your chose still feels loving and wise.

If the answer is yes all the way through, you have accessed your wisest inner voice and aligned your physical body, emotions, and actions (three-legged stool) to loving wisdom. Consistent feedback from the external world lets you know if you chose a long-term loving strategy and actually accessed the hummingbird within whispering your soul’s wisdom.

  1. Failing leads to success.

Become Sherlock Holmes and identify as many details about the inner voices that may be deceiving you. Whenever an activity or strategy doesn’t feel loving anymore, it means that the Wise and Loving Inner Voice Meditation ferreted out an immature inner crow or monkey struggling with illusion. Memorize the behavioral strategies, emotional qualities and mental perspectives of each inner voice for future reference.

  1. Get back on your feet in the following ways:
  • Forgive yourself for missteps
  • Let go of any punishment paradigms
  • Re-access your positive intention
  • Decide what you want do differently
  • Repeat the meditation again

Intentions possess royal qualities and provide a divine spark to start the engines of creation. If you don’t like what you created, the Wise and Loving Voice Meditation helps you reboot your positive intention and chart a new course of action. Cawing crows and screeching monkeys warn us about danger until they get noticed. We want love, wisdom and enlightened solutions to suffering but sometimes our personalities are shackled by ignorance and immaturity. The Wise and Loving Inner Voice Meditation reminds us to re-access the positive intention, when we make mistakes until we find our hummingbird inner voice. Letting go of punishing ourselves for a misstep is a powerful practice and an integral aspect of this meditation. All we need to do is dust ourselves off, open our mind to another possibility and listen again for our wise and loving inner voice.

This exercise is a powerful practice that distinguishes hummingbird wisdom from illusion. When we ignore the templates, paradigms and stress responses duality offers, we can forgive ourselves or an adversary’s mistakes by accessing the need, want or desire behind our intention to take advantage of enlightened perspectives and enduring solutions. This meditation comes from my book, The Promise of Wholeness: Cultivating Inner Peace, Mindfulness and Love in a Divided World (Rowland &Littlefield Pub.) You can purchase it at the Ommani Center or Amazon.

Fear, Courage and New Paradigms

Failure is an extremely important tool and, if handled properly, improves our emotional, mental and spiritual hygiene. Everyone needs to wash up, take a shower and pick up around the house periodically. Removing the dirt and debris of life freshens things up and makes us more wholesome. Taking the time to release unproductive habits, poor attitudes and immature beliefs that fail to support our highest interest rejuvenates. This pandemic creates fear, anger and hopefully the courage to create a new paradigm. This article takes concepts from my book, The Promise of Wholeness: Cultivating Inner Peace, Mindfulness and Love in a Divided World (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) and applies them to our national Covid-19 response.

Fear of failure can motivate us to change in a positive way, so it is also a necessary ally. The willingness to admit or recognize a problem, take responsibility and make corrections requires courage. The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz provided a wonderful example of how confusing and chaotic emotions can be. Considered the king of beasts by others, the lion assumed his fears made him inadequate. Unaware that courage is the willingness to act in the face of fear, he bullied others in a misguided attempt to mask his fears. Does this pattern remind you of anyone? Confusion continues for many around our country just like it did for the Cowardly Lion who failed to consider that fear activates not only our illusions…but also its opposite, courage.

Cowards fail to develop the courage it takes to express a motivating form of anger that overcomes fear. Conquering an adversary or a bad habit takes dedication, focus and drive. Determination and willpower are positive forms of aggression that are necessary for survival in a competitive world with limited resources. Success, breaking barriers, or challenging the status quo requires courage and healthy forms of aggression. Self- control, fearlessness and personal power are necessary to achieve an athletic or artistic accomplishment…or a Covid-19 free country for that matter. Anger in its empowered form is a comrade that will fight for your life and help you overcome any adversary or adversity.

Suffering points to our imbalances, while anger can be used as an excellent indicator or a warning signal to point out failed behaviors and unmet needs. A newborn shows an endearing form of anger by turning red in the face and screaming till the infant stops breathing. All this is due to a failure of a caretaker to address a primary need— whether food, being burped, comforted or changed. That courageous temper tantrum gets his or her needs met. The newborn takes control of his/her environment and other people through anger as a form of communication. Birthed from fear and failure, courage and aggressive strategies are effective for success and survival. As adults though, unmonitored infantile anger can corrupt a worthwhile goal. Due to its quick, mercurial, and lethal nature, expressing unmitigated anger fails miserably as a long-term means to get our needs met. 

Take Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the UK for example, who initially blocked efforts to implement necessary Covid-19 protocols used by every successful country with low pandemic related death rates around the world. Then Boris contracted it and almost died. Admitting his mistake, he possessed the courage to create a new Covid-19 paradigm in the UK. In the US, we see a failed effort to cling onto an old, cherished way of life by misguided politicians and conservatives as death rates soar. We have no national strategy unlike every successful country in the world. The challenge before our leaders and each and every one of us is as follows: 

  • Like it or not…Covid-19 engenders fear. 
  • Will I cling onto a cherished way of life that isn’t working?
  • Do I bully, embrace victim-consciousness or deny reality?
  • Or, do I have the courage to create a new paradigm? 

Chorleywood, Hertfordshire, England, UK – October 10th 2020: Scarecrow depicting UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson conducting a news conference during the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic

Albert Einstein said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Successful people and even animal species adapt to sifting circumstances. Failure creates fear. Fear can lead to denial, dissociation and bullying, like the Cowardly Lion demonstrated in the Wizard of Oz. Hasn’t some of the political rhetoric you hear by some of our leaders sound like fairy tale fantasies? It’s time for the US to admit to our pandemic mistakes and muster the courage to unite and create a new paradigm. We need swallow our pride like Boris Johnson did and do what is best for the good of everyone. This pandemic has revealed a deeply imbedded narcissism in our country that needs to be examined. The challenge before us is clear. We need to join forces with the rest of the world, which happens to have a better paradigm. Any plan, which is designed to help the greater good for every soul will always have the best chance for success.

December 2020 Eric Ehrke LCSW, LMFT is a psychotherapist at Ommani.  He sees clients on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Zoom, Skype, or telephonic services are offered.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

Pandemic Blues and Personal Needs

In a recent article published in the October JAMA Network Open, compared to a year ago alcohol consumption in United States increased 14%, including 17% for women. Many bars are closed for the most part but it’s important to remember isolation causes addictions to flourish. Without distractions our brightest but also our darkest instincts tend to surface. Chronic stress will trigger the brain to express its deepest unconscious material. A wise soul accepts challenges and addresses their illusions, while others act out and wonder why they struggle.  This article will address self-care and offer five suggestions designed to meet your needs in order to become a more effective person and/or leader. 

Loyalty to oneself is the cornerstone of understanding our divine nature. The fierceness to which we listen to our needs, comfort ourselves when we are distraught, and follow through with our core needs is the degree we love ourselves. Meeting our core needs ought to be the highest priority in our life since we are an eternal soul having a human experience. If the most beloved person on the planet asked you to do a favor, would you do it? If God appeared to you in all his/her glory, would you do what was asked? The real question becomes…are we willing to do ourselves any favors?

If we want something, we should go get it. Many people put others before themselves claiming love is their motivation. There is a problem with this idea because they are spiritual being creating their experience. However, we need to meet our needs first before moving onto others. We need to give from joy and generosity comes from a full heart. Giving to others when it goes against our own needs means we must abandon our self to give to others. Rescuing another, dishonors their opportunity to self-nurture, if they fail to meet their own needs. 

First and foremost, love needs to have a home in our hearts. When we truly love our self and love resides inside our home, a wonderful transformation occurs. This transformation reminds our physical body of its divine origins and helps us embody love. Remembering our worthiness enables us to realize we are lovable. When we accept this truth beyond a shadow of a doubt, then the belief we deserve to have our needs met starts to makes sense. The courage to fight for our needs follows because it feels natural. This is how dreams manifest. Soon, respecting other’s rights and the environment around us becomes normal. 

Today, some people refuse to social distance or wear a mask during this pandemic. Unfortunately, self-care has become a political statement. They claim risking their and their neighbor’s health is their first amendment right. Unfortunately, they forget that the universe is only interested in the highest good for everyone. The social distancing/mask debate can be boiled down to policies designed to benefit the collective versus self-centered and/or destructive individuals.  

Everyone has needs-based on fear and unconscious belief systems designed to prevent fear. An unexamined intellect will create mental constructs that know fear and were created from fear. Immature aspects of our personality try to solve problems and have good intentions, but often lack the wisdom of our heart and soul’s guidance. This lack of participation of our heart and soul’s participation leads to suffering if unchecked and unexamined. Problems occur if our frightened or stubborn inner child grabs the microphone and leads the band.

Unconscious aspects of our personality were created to protect wounded inner children. Often immature and shortsighted, fear-based protection solutions exist without supervision by our heart and soul. Unfortunately, they are frequently out of balance with others and the global community. Our unconscious motivations can and will harm others. We see this during our country’s disjointed pandemic response, which is spiraling up in the wrong direction. There are three challenges laid before each and every one of us during this pandemic as we collectively struggle with establishing safe solutions:

  1. Can we surrender to divine wisdom, which always supports the highest good for everyone involved? 
  2. Will I consult with my heart and soul and treat others as I would myself, which some call The Golden Rule
  3. Do I possess the courage to examine and confront my illusions if I fail to do so? 

Narcissism and exploitation stem from those who fail to self-examine or explore their deeper motivations. When we are cut off from our self, it’s easy to cut off others. The desire to uncover the truth of our unconscious material, which was created to protect wounded inner children, is the stuff of legends. Mythological tales that speak of heroes and heroines slaying nasty dragons are really speaking metaphorically of the courage to seek and slay our unconscious illusions, which remain unconnected to our heart and soul. These fables do not promote slaying in a real sense but suggest we confront, love and possess a passion to embody our internal personal truth.

 

The enlightened path requires a true desire to love oneself without conditions. Embodying the love that originates from our heart and soul is the next challenge. If we surrender to our soul’s agenda and express the joy of our soul’s expression, many good things happen. When we live at this level, we send out a frequency to the universe, which will reach the other side of the veil. Through the mirroring principles within quantum physics, the law of attraction and karma (cause and effect) our efforts to embody love for the highest good of all are often reflected back to us…sometimes stronger. 

 

The universe also mirrors love to those who embody The Golden Rule. This helps generous souls give more love to themselves and others. People tend to love them more because those that pay love forward are truly present in their joy. Becoming a shining example of living a joyful life draws people to you…like ants to a picnic. When we know how to nurture ourselves, we will always have an unlimited source of food.  Everyone needs food but also love, so they will want to learn from our success. 

 

When we pay love forward our self-esteem rises and then more positives happen. We become more generous with our giving because it is our joy to pass love on. When we give at this level, everyone loves us more and the process accelerates in a positive spiral. Give from this place and everyone benefits because other people will want to emulate us. If we give while depleting our self, people will take what we give but will not be inspired to copy us. These individuals frequently fall into patterns of seeking what they need outside themselves or continue a long cycle of using others. Patterns of quick fixes and addictions can result. These dysfunctional behaviors are an attempt to use other’s love and energy and ignore their own ability to connect to their own energy within their heart and soul. The soul will never let this happen and the cycles of pain, struggle and strife come in to help them learn another way. 

This article offers a gentle reminder to…love yourself, love your heart and listen to your soul. Recognize your needs and address them regularly. Remember your divine home and your absolute birthright of happiness, joy and fulfillment. When we live through our heart and soul, we will never stray from our path home.

If your mind is disconnected from your heart and soul, self-responsibility is required to examine all of your unconscious parts with love. Pain, struggle and obstacles to your dreams will come and suggest another way by staying around until we learn to live from our heart and soul. Perhaps this is the collective lesson United States is struggling to learn. The universe always provides reflections of whatever truth is present through its loving mirrors.

Here are five suggestions to meet your needs in order to become a more effective leader or person. 

  1. Give from your heart.
  2. Listen to your heart and do what it wants to do from joy, passion and love.
  3. Healthy forms of love require a total alignment with your truth and then fierceness. Be relentless in your expression. Hold the awareness in your heart and mind to constantly look for opportunities to meet your needs and express your truth.
  4. And of course, remember to do so in a loving manner. Be gentle, kind and ruthless in your kindness as you give to others.
  5. However, never lose sight of your needs, while doing the four previous suggestions. The fierceness to which you honor your needs will automatically spill over to a compassionate understanding of other’s needs.

November 2020 Eric Ehrke LCSW, LMFT is a psychotherapist at Ommani.  He sees clients on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Zoom, Skype, or telephonic services are offered.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

 

You Can Disagree Without Being Disagreeable

America will be mourning the passing of the legendary Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who spent her life championing equal rights for all for a long time. Throughout her lifetime Ruth Bader Ginsberg fought for democracy, justice and gender equality. As mourners sang Kaddish prayers on the steps of the Supreme Court, politicians found a replacement with their conservative agenda against her dying wish. It’s hard not to feel hatred, bitterness, and despair in response to their naked, blatant hypocrisy. In 2016 Republication senators refused to vote on a Supreme Court nominee, when Justice Scalia died unexpectedly. They claimed the next president should make that decision even though it was nine months before the upcoming election.

The traditional Jewish response to a death is Baruch Dayan HaEmet, which translates to “Blessed is the true judge.” When someone dies on Rosh Hashanah as she did, this person is a tzaddik, a person of great righteousness. So how do we respond when Ruth Badger Ginsburg said, “reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.” 

During challenging times like we are experiencing during this pandemic and political upheaval, negativity, feeling victimized, and fantasizing about retaliation feels natural. Protestors on the streets believe activism will lead America to a path to redemption, peace, and prosperity. Pointing aggressive fingers towards others feel natural and provide temporary relief. Unfortunately, it never quite works that way in the long run. Ruth Bader Ginsberg dissented with her scathing intellect with moderation and respect. When she found herself in the minority, she focused her energies upon influencing the future. This article explores the problems associated with hatred, bitterness, and despair.

Focused negative intent to cause harm leads to hatred. It is the product of a dark, negative cycle of repetitive anger that is churned, marinated, and fermented into a paste, which is toxic and poisonous to everyone it touches. Of course, the receiver becomes embroiled in a firestorm of destructive energy but the real, significant damage comes from hatred and its long-term effects that clogs the heart of the emotional sender. One must marinate negative thoughts and focus on one’s anger for months and years to let it ferment into hatred. It will seep into the pores of the infected individual and operates on the cellular level. 

Hatred instructs and informs every cell in our body we are at war. Life and death survival instincts and adrenal glands take over our fight or flight response in relation to the object, person or people of our focused hatred. Bitterness is a descriptive word for focused hatred that has become brittle with age. Rage is its active form and despair is its passive form. Everyone has their natural preferences to express hatred but it is a passion killer for life and joy for sure.

Why do people hate one another? How is it that so many ethnic and political groups partake in this bitter drink and pass it off to their offspring? Many people call it fate in their defense, but they would learn that they were lying to themselves if they took responsibility for their actions. Hatred is a misguided concept that many immature communities and political groups engage in to help bind and cement clans together. They think they can achieve productive goals by developing a sense of identity and mission-based upon a “we versus them” mentality. 

Some nationalities and ethnic groups mistakenly think that to honor their ancestors, they need to right the wrongs from the past by fueling hatred in themselves, cultivating it in their children, and acting it out in the present time. Partisan purity helps create unity, purpose, and a mission for their clan and people. Unfortunately, hatred, bitterness, and despair are the most negative emotions on the planet, which fosters pain and suffering for everyone who traffics it. 

This is the reason why some ethnic groups have such a long history of a perpetrator/victim cycle legacy attached to their identity. It gives them a purpose forged in hell, which allows them to co-create it with other groups locked in the same crazy cycle within themselves. Many times, soul-groups incarnate just to experience perpetual hatred this way so that they can learn to master the illusions this chronic anger cycle offers everyone. Now the United States is caging immigrant children, building a border wall, and fighting about Confederate Statues of those who fought for slavery. The 17-year old from Illinois, who gunned down three peaceful marchers with an automatic weapon in Kenosha, Wisconsin has collected over 2 million dollars for his criminal defense from people that are easy to judge.

 

Being a Jewish mother and a lawyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg couldn’t get a job in any firm in New York even though she was valedictorian of her Columbia Law School. She believed anger, resentment, envy, and self-pity were wasteful reactions. Ruth said, “They greatly drain one’s time. They sap energy better devoted to productive endeavors.” Her perspective about partisan politics follows:

 

“I wish there was a way I could wave a magic wand and put back when people were respectful of each other and the Congress was working for the good of the country and not just along party lines. Someday there will be great people, great elected representatives who will say, ‘Enough of this nonsense, let’s be the kind of legislature the United States should have.’ I hope that day will come when I’m still alive.” —Stanford Law School, 2017

People paid their respects to Ruth Bader Ginsberg immediately after her death in front of the Supreme Court. 

The trick Ruth learned early is to not engage in any behavior that cycles and churns anger like a hunter, who rotates a dead animal on a spit over a fire pit. The longer anyone cooks and turns the animal over the fire, the blacker and more charred it gets. Life doesn’t grow in these fires, only death, and destruction. When negativity hits us, our family, or our people, the challenge for all of us is to learn to bring light, love and consciousness to the problem. The following questions are useful to consider when suffering comes to our door from the hands of others:

  • Is there something I need to learn? 
  • Am I being challenged to raise myself out of victimization thinking to a higher level of consciousness? 
  • Do I need to “turn the other cheek” metaphorically speaking and learn a new solution to deal with my adversary? 
  • What areas of responsibility do I need to examine for co-creating an extremely negative situation? 

When we can ask ourselves these questions with clarity of purpose, a willingness to grow, and follow through with positively intended solutions, a wonderful series of events occurs. On this topic Ruth Bader Ginsburg said:

 The label ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative,’ any – every time I hear that I think of the great Gilbert and Sullivan song from ‘Iolanthe.’ It goes, ‘Every gal and every boy that’s born alive is a little liberal or else a little conservative.’ What do those labels mean? It depends on whose ox is being gored.’

By taking responsibility for finding an enlightened response to any problem, the wheels of the universe begin to reverse and start to move in a positive direction. Our heart opens up to new possibilities. Our roasting, dead animal now can jump out of the fire, slide itself off the spit and start the process of healing and living again. Basking by the fires of hell fueled by our focused anger broadcasts a tone to the universe to bring hatred to our door. Everyone suffers when this monster is unleashed. It isn’t a friend, has no loyalty, or picks sides. It knows only death, destruction, and takes no prisoners unless it intends to torture us as long as possible. 

Do not entertain hatred for it is a guest that will foul your nest, rape your soul, and take your wealth. When it is running through your house or people, the solution requires the consciousness and the responsibility embodied in the old War on Drugs Dare motto which states, “Just say, No!” So help yourself by considering the following suggestions. 

Pray for your enemy’s enlightenment. Lick your wounds as well as other’s wounds with love. It will help everyone heal faster. Bless the “heathen” for their ignorance gives us an opportunity to teach others and embody the qualities they lack. Show compassion and restraint when hatred is pointed in our direction. Love is stronger than any force in the universe, especially hatred. It feeds off our soul and erodes our connection to the light, happiness, and joy we all deserve. Let hatred go. 

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth,” is not a prescription to be a milquetoast in the face of trouble. It is a recommendation to show compassion, the strength of will, and dedication to the loving truth of our inspired connection in the face of illusion’s temptation. Meekness in this form requires a significant character to adhere to these qualities when lashing out with hatred would be the easy thing to do. 

The definition of meek in this context is expressed by the steel-will of a warrior whose will was tempered by the strong fires of love and wielded by a spiritual master. Meek defined in this manner is not for the faint of heart. It is far easier to succumb to blood feuds, vendettas and hatred to combat one’s suffering. It is only the weak of spirit that thinks it illustrates strength to fight fire with fire and roast dead animals in their soul. The tragedy is even more profound when they call it bonding, tradition, and loyalty as they infuse their children with the same pain.  

So consider letting anger go. Resist the temptation to let it become an internal, hatred paste that acts like an acid burning within without relief. Come to the loving wells of forgiveness, healing, and growth. Leave the battlefields of hatred, bitterness, and despair. Hatred was the bitter fruit in the Garden of Eden. Love is the only fruit for any of us to eat in any circumstance to find sweetness in the universe.   

October 2020 Eric Ehrke LCSW, LMFT is a psychotherapist at Ommani.  He sees clients on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Zoom, Skype, or telephonic services are offered.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

   

Heart and Soul Maintenance

This pandemic has provided unique problems for everyone. Every mother, father and lover worries about friends and family during trying times. Many hearts have been broken due to the death, gut-wrenching violence on our streets, and financial ruin. Poets, authors, and singers like Janis Joplin describe tragedy as losing a piece of their heart. It’s an accurate description of a real dilemma. Who hasn’t felt his or her heart hurt this past year? On the spiritual level, our heart and soul is essentially who we are. Our heart expresses love while we are alive, while a soul is essentially pure love. This article will provide suggestions for heart and soul maintenance. 

Hearts pump love within our body and can caress others with elegance. Souls also express love, but on another level. A soul will not diminish itself to address different agendas like a heart frequently does. Soul will partition its whole self into each piece of the pie. Unlike our heart, it has the ability to place it’s entire self in each piece to address multiple tasks. Since a soul has an unbreakable connection to divinity, it knows it will always survive. Sustained by source, it will wait forever until we collect all of our soul parts when we decide to return home again. Trauma can cause aspects of our soul to remain frozen in time, which is why therapists and many other spiritual traditions have soul retrieval practices for this very purpose. When we get frozen, what is really happening is that our soul holds the pure loving essence of who we are in place until our heart is strong enough to release the illusions our intellect created in its attempt to survive the trauma. 

A human heart often gets snookered and is a different animal than our soul. The phrases such as  “a piece of my heart” and “a broken heart” are often used to describe a very real process. Hearts break and can be given away. They are mortal and fear death. A loving heart has the same courage as our soul, however. People run into trouble if their heart tries to copy a soul’s imperviousness to suffering. Have you ever suffered after giving your heart away or allowed others or life drain you dry? 

The heart is a finite organ, which will die. In an average lifetime it will beat 2.5 billion times but often gets overwhelmed serving and trying to heal others. Trauma creates challenges to heart and soul maintenance. A heart can get frozen in time and get obsessive and compulsive. One way to know if you are running into addictive problems is when you intuitively know you are obsessing or compulsively engaging in behaviors too often, but can’t stop. Rigid minds and addicted hearts will attempt to pump life and blood into situations or relationships that are dead and need to be buried. On a positive note, our heart can remember the power of love’s source and our divine roots. Many hearts beat with this same courage and possess an absolute fearlessness as they help and heal others. We see this in our first responders and hospital staff around the world during this pandemic.

Heart and soul maintenance presents many challenges to overcome. Our challenge is to learn to nurture our own heart as much as our heart wants to nurture us, and everyone else. The following questions are worth considering:

  • Where and how do I express love? 
  • Who do I love and do I do it responsibly?
  • How well do I take care of myself?
  • Do I love too much…or not enough?

The heart is a vehicle of love and an incarnate expression of our soul’s pure essence. They need to work together. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts.

  1. Love yourself, as you would want the divine to love you.
  2. Learn how to love yourself as you are without any conditions.
  3. Love your heart and nurture yourself as your heart nurtures you.

The heart beats in rhythm and varies under stress, loving conditions, etc. We need to listen to its’ rhythms. It is always beating out messages to let us know how it feels. Listen to your heart and give it what it wants and needs. Notice its feedback and what speaks to your heart. Indulge your passions. Recognize how your frequency rises, when your soul starts dancing with you. Whenever your heart and soul work together, a powerful loving combination forms. 

 

When hearts and souls dance together miracles happen and happiness follows. This is how to embody your divinity. A heart will always let our biology know when we are on the right track. When we embody our dreams and heartfelt passion, our soul listens. When our body, heart and soul work together for our highest good…true power enters the picture. This is how love activates the mirrors of the universe to manifest the fruits of our joyful creation.  

 

Loving others invites others to love us in return. They frequently reflect our love back to us like a mirror, which awakens our heart and soul to the frequency of love. Being reminded of our loving origins is always a good thing. The mistake that people make is thinking is that the source of love is from the other individual. Many people believe they can’t or don’t know how to do it for themselves. I invite you to consider that a good heart and soul connection is all anyone needs to meet one’s goals, find happiness, embrace your divine nature and remember your spiritual home. Other people’s love is nice but not necessary. You are a divine being and this is all you need to know.

 

In summary, listen to your heart. Its’ rhythms are designed to register, detect and provide feedback about the true nature of love’s frequencies. This helps us discern what feels loving or is an illusion. A human heart can’t be divided too often. It will attempt to copy the soul and split its love into many places. It always fails and we will suffer. Our energy diminishes if we are split in too many pieces for very long. We need to learn, what our heart really needs and go for it with a singular purpose. 

 

Parents, lovers and healers frequently make the same mistake. Problems occur if our heart has too many masters or mouths to feed. An exhausted heart will let you know when to let others learn to fish for love themselves. It is not healthy to give our fish away to everyone around us and starve in the process. Please consider the following suggestions for heart and soul maintenance:

 

  1. Take care of yourself.
  2. Everyone has a heart.
  3. Teach others to use their heart.
  4. Never forget to take care of your own heart.
  5. Source will provide heart energy for everyone and fill the cracks.
  6. Take time for your heart, listen to it, and love it.

These suggestions will help your heart stay strong and serve you throughout your lifetime. Wisdom and pain are masterful teachers. Some people learn through wisdom, but most of us grow from pain. When fishing for love, trial and error are frequent companions. This is why taking another’s pain away when pain might eventually teach them how to fish for her or himself will always be a dicey proposition inviting a painful lesson. 

Lessons about Leadership, Mistakes and Transformation from Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh and Huwawa is a four-thousand-year-old Sumerian epic that teaches us about heroism and the wisdom evil can birth. Universal and timeless, it’s a story about the importance of moderation and the eternal tension between our lower nature and mature self-awareness. Chiseled into Mesopotamian clay, this mythological poem offers insights about narcissistic impulses, emotional growth, and eventually, spiritual transformation.

Gilgamesh was a powerful demigod, a ruler who was quite immature in his youth. He fought constantly and fed his arrogance by thoroughly dominating others. Initially, when Gilgamesh was in a position of leadership over the ancient city of Uruk, he did just about everything wrong. 

~ Gilgamesh and uwawa (Version A), Sumerian cuneiform tablet, Third Dynasty of Ur (2150-2000BC) 

He killed the divinely protected environmental guardian, ransacked the precious Cedar Forest, 

insulted the goddess of love, and slew a mighty bull deity. He found the key to eternal youth but quickly lost it to a snake, who started shedding its skin immediately afterward. Eventually, he consulted with Siduri (the goddess of beer), who suggested he stop trying to extend his life and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. 

Prior to meeting a human remotely his equal, Gilgamesh indulged his insatiable appetites and sought immortality. When he finally met his match in a man named Enkidu, who was deeply in touch with his instinctive, emotional nature, Gilgamesh tried to subdue him. They eventually became close friends, worked together as a team, and learned about the love that grows from the companionship of equals. Facing fear, death and the terrors of war together deepened their bonds throughout this classic epic. Intuition, instinct, and even dreams guided Gilgamesh and Enkidu on their heroic quests. 

During his misguided efforts to find fame and immortality, he eventually found love with his companion, Enkidu, and developed a deeper understanding of heart connection and the importance of his global community. However, both were young and still immature, fame from conquering a terrifying demon-god named Huwawa became their ultimate goal.  The embodiment of evil and guile, Huwawa begged for mercy after his defeat. Gilgamesh wavered but killed the beast after consulting with Enkidu. Both were enflamed with hubris immediately afterward, but Enkidu became ill upon their return home and eventually perished. 

Prior to his friend’s death, Gilgamesh thought he was immortal. Humbled, he eventually recognized his human fate. Grief provided the opportunity for him to grow and master his interior demons. When he considered himself unique and superior to everyone, he was prideful. Gilgamesh eventually recognized that the evil and terror he tried to conquer in others were merely mirrors of his own reflection. Eventually from Huwawa’s spilled blood, empathy, love, and the importance of human connection matured like cedar trees within Gilgamesh’s heart. Lessons learned about companionship, community, and camaraderie from his time with Enkidu became the nurturing soil that matured his heart. Ultimately, the spiritual wisdom gleaned from his mistakes completed his transformation.

Gilgamesh terrorized others in his youth, healed his heart and spiritually transformed during this epic. He discovered he was never alone while he was in the company of friends. It’s a beautiful story of transformation and the acute awareness birthed from suffering. Gilgamesh ultimately realized love is connection and the secret of immortality is interconnection to all that is. The Iranian philosopher, Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) summarized his timeless lesson in the following way.

“Make the most of what yet may spend.

Before we too into the Dust descend.”

Gilgamesh during his legendary journeys and heroic battles with deities and monsters found lost and eventually discovered the secret to eternal youth. Despite the mythic nature of the story, Gilgamesh remains a very human character. He is narcissistic, has heartbreaks and experiences the same limitations and simple pleasures that every one of us does. During his epic journeys, Gilgamesh explores the nature and meaning of being human. Like all philosophers, he asks…what is love? Why is life so short? How do I deal with loss? What is the meaning of life? And, am I doing it right?    

The story of Gilgamesh is revered mythological epic in the Middle East and has lessons about leadership, mistakes and provides the keys to transformation. In the Eastern wisdom tradition darkness and light lie on a continuum. Sometimes darkness and loss can look like it is winning only to slingshot us to an enlightened way of being as Gilgamesh learned. Similarly, Germany, Italy, and Japan transformed exponentially since the mistakes their leaders made during WWII. 

Wisdom and pain are powerful teachers. When wisdom is lacking, pain rushes in to complete our education. Our soul uses suffering like a carpenter uses sandpaper on wood to smooth out the illusion. Pandemics force us to suffer or find wise, loving solutions. Maintaining the illusion that we are immortal and immune from destruction like Gilgamesh did in his youth isn’t sustainable. Old habits are hard to change. Many of us need to be brought to our knees before real change is considered.

Today, the United States is in the midst of a global pandemic. Many of our leaders are acting like a youthful Gilgamesh. Our Covid-19 death rates, unemployment figures, and incoherent national response to multiple crises are not sustainable solutions. In the past few years, aspects of what many in the United States think are foundational qualities and trustworthy institutions of our country have suffered. Like phoenixes rising out of our despair, the Me Too Movement, Black Lives Matter, LBGTQ support, and a national cry for a science-based pandemic response have exploded in America. United States as a whole is changing and remembering we live in a global community. Change is in the air and pain happens to be America’s primary teacher. Death and loss bring everyone to his or her knees before real change occurs. Now, many more of our leaders are opening their eyes to see what works around the world. Like Gilgamesh, America may learn that heart connection and the importance of a global community where every life matters will eventually solve this pandemic.  

 

“How long does a building stand before it falls?

How long does a contract last? How long will brothers

share the inheritance before they quarrel?

How long does hatred, for that matter, last?

Time after time the river has risen and flooded.

The insect leaves the cocoon to live but a minute.

How long is the eye able to look at the sun?

From the very beginning nothing at all has lasted.”

David Ferry, The Epic of Gilgamesh 

August 2020 Eric Ehrke LCSW, LMFT is a psychotherapist at Ommani.  He sees clients on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Zoom, Skype, or telephonic services are offered.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

 

Self-Actualization is the Third Pillar of Self-Mastery

Self-love is the first pillar of self-mastery and is archived in the Ommani Jewel’s February 2020 edition. That article suggests, when we learn to truly love ourselves without conditions, we can start believing are worthy of a bountiful life. Recognizing it’s our responsibility to align our body, heart, and mind to consciously create our reality is the challenge of the second pillar, which is archived in the Jewel’s March 2020 edition. Once we learn to love ourselves and become responsible then sovereignty and actualizing dreams take priority. Due to the pandemic, I wrote articles about COVID-19 during the past three months. Now we have Black Lives Matter protests and No Justice, No Peace discussions. So, the time is ripe to describe the third pillar of self-mastery. Self-actualization is the ability to become empowered and self-understanding creates the foundation of personal power. It could be said that the inscription of the self-actualizing cornerstone reads: “In order to know who we are, we must learn to walk in the shoes of many people.” You may wonder why, when the operative word of each pillar is self, we must walk on many roads and navigate family footpaths? 

Self-actualization is a lifelong process of advocacy through opposites initially. Choices let us explore what we are not before realizing what we are. Exploring another’s opinion helps us learn about our self and grow backbones. Children are easily infected with other’s agendas, parental injunctions and religious attitudes that do not represent their eventual attitude about life. Developing a sense of self by exploring what we are not is the path adolescents typically walk. Autonomy, power and sense of identity are the driving forces of adolescents. This is the reason they have rebelled from parental authority throughout history. 

Toddlers want power. The first step on this long path is rejecting anything adults say…just because they can. Opposition mirrors an infant’s initial attempt to refuse anything from their mother. This is one of the ways a baby knows it is alive and separate from mother. The parent’s ability to understand this and champion individualization attempts gives the infant permission to grow and helps the child’s decision-making ability. If the mother is crushed by any attempt of the child to individuate, the baby may impede its own growth to help the mother feel better and fail to self-actualize. 

Rules need to be bent and boundaries explored so unique solutions can be developed to help us adapt to changing situations. This is why it’s important to let children’s minds grow without rigid boundaries. We need to give our children and ourselves permission to test boundaries in order to discover what’s possible and what’s not. This instills a mechanism to develop fresh ideas as the old ones cease to be effective. We all need avenues to express our creative impulses to the outside world so that the mirrors of the universe can reflect the results of our efforts back to us. This is how dreams actualize. The Internet is a great example of how unlimited opportunities provide a creative outlet and instantaneous feedback about humanity’s dreams.

Another important building block of self-actualization occurs as self-esteem improves and empowerment occurs, then a longing for spiritual connection grows. Since our soul is our self in its highest form, it knows what to do to meet our personal desires, needs, and internal instincts. After walking in the shoes of many people in our youth, healthy adults recognize outside guides aren’t necessary. For example, people of every color are walking together in the Black Lives Matter protests worldwide. Mature people are uniting and putting their bodies, hearts, minds and souls together to actualize their dreams of racial equality. Self-actualization breaks barriers and is a gift that keeps on giving.

People don’t need to be or should be clones of one another. Unfortunately, many cultures and religious traditions preserve ancient customs that stifle unique expressions and contrary ideas. Self-actualization inspires us to test boundaries, feed our creativity and individuate from the masses. A healthy nation advances through the self-actualization of its citizenry. One of the core reasons individual freedom, human rights, and democratic principles are so important around the world is that they promote self-actualization. The most advanced civilizations use these principles to succeed, evolve, and develop mastery. 

        Forcing conformity or punishing the impulse to foster independent ideas is a fear-based activity from small-minded individuals, cultures, and nations. It’s amazing how fear has motivated various cultures to become very ingenious in their attempts to prevent people, especially women and minorities from becoming empowered. If an idea takes away one’s instinct to thrive, or the motivation to empower oneself, or one’s free will to bring joy to life, there is a problem embedded in the idea.

         The fear of losing power and control runs deep in many areas of the world. We see this daily during the protests and pandemic responses around the world. Many illusions are being laid bare worldwide at this time in history. The reality on the street is that everyone knows all men, women and minorities are NOT treated equally. Without justice, there is no peace. Yet we say, All Men are Created Equal in our constitution and prayers. On a smaller scale, preachers say selfishness is the root of all “evil” and the “devil’s playground.” “Giving is better than receiving” is another one. Resist the temptation to believe myths that promote inequality, injustice and sacrifice are next to godliness. When myths, like white privilege remain embedded in our collective unconscious, everyone loses something dear in the process.  

         Don’t believe the baloney that repressive cultures have been preaching for centuries to enslave their masses. The process of self-actualization allows us to shed illusions and any misguided notions of what works for us and what doesn’t—from our parents, cultural heritage, and worldwide myths in general. Spontaneously create what you want without everyone else’s dysfunctional baggage dragging you down. 

         Our strength, success, and personal power attract people to us. It’s much more efficient to become powerful, happy, and whole than to put our light under a basket so other people aren’t blinded by our brightest qualities. People will listen more attentively when we already possess the qualities others desire. The most effective way to offer help and provide resources to others is from this place. People learn from us by what we do and who we are. It matters little what we say, want, or dream about. This is how life works. We see living examples of this in our first responders and protestors daily.

         Self-actualization is the new paradigm of our new millennium challenged by climate change, partisan politics and shortsighted thinking. Will enough people eventually realize everyone is a divine being living in a human body with an eternal soul just like us? This concept lives at the heart of the Black Lives Matter, the Me Too and the No Justice, No Peace Movements. With this knowledge, we can create from the pure joy from our soul, access the wisdom of the sages, and use our manifestation powers to create a better world for not only ourselves but all of humanity. 

         Realistically, improving the quality of our lives is basically changing one idea or rule and replacing it with another. When we walk into our power by unifying the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of ourselves, we can start accessing universal wisdom with the strength of our soul connection. Our heart, mind, and soul provide a powerful force to be reckoned with when we combine them with pure passion and intent. Nothing can stop us when we all work together in pure harmony. We see this on our streets and in our first responders every day.

         Some people get scared and feel guilty when our friends and family continue to remain mired in illusion’s clutches. Remaining small can be an overpowering seduction. But we’re not doing anyone any favors if we hide our light. Help them by becoming a living example of how focused power can manifest dreams and create success. By our example, we inspire and teach what needs to be done. Who hasn’t been touched by the videos of health responders and protestors worldwide?  Like the girl pictured below, someday we will all learn how to laugh with a lion.

         In conclusion, rules are meant to be broken, and tests of courage always create new possibilities. Every major achievement, individually or collectively, that has ever occurred on earth has been accomplished through this process. Give yourself permission to grow and thrive in this world. Let the creative impulse beating in your heart and shining from your soul manifest your dreams. This is how your soul actualizes itself on earth. Self-actualization is the only game in town worth playing to achieve any goal worth accomplishing. Anything less is small potatoes in a little world filled with old ideas weighted down with tiny possibilities. So have fun, play to your heart’s content and let love direct your spirit to joyful creations.

 

Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust

So why would a soul like us leave the divine’s embrace to experience COVID-19 and craziness on earth? Creating love in the physical world, mastering illusions, and returning home again with the wisdom gained from the experience holds our attraction. Leaving Oneness to experience a physical body and duality demonstrates a significant amount of trust on many levels. Perhaps Peter Pan, the leader of the Lost Boys in J.M. Barrie’s wonderful play said it best, “All the world is made of faith, trust and pixie dust.

Infants instinctually trust their caregivers at birth. If the family home is safe and secure, children will develop trust in themselves and the world around them. Trust is earned through time and behavior. If they experience betrayals, traumas or security violations, trust is quickly withdrawn. Lady Gaga, a victim of early trauma, describes trust toward perpetrators in her unique way, “Trust is like a mirror, you can fix it if it’s broken, but you can still see the crack in that mother fucker’s reflection.” “Once bitten, twice shy” is a more polite way to say the same thing, but it doesn’t quite address endured suffering as powerfully. On a positive note, when we outgrow our reliance on others, heal wounds, and consistently manifest a satisfactory lifestyle, trust can return. So how does trust return during a crisis like COVID-19?

On Tuesday, May 5th according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer spring update, which surveyed eleven countries in late April…trust in government globally is at an all-time high during the pandemic. At 65% this percentage made government the most trusted institution for the first time, ahead of businesses, non-profits, and the media. Usually, the least trusted of the four, the rapid shutdowns eased safety concerns, while businesses were slow to react and partisan media cried, “fake news.” Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman said, “This is really like World War II. This is a different time to 2001 after 9/11, and 2008 after the Great Recession. This is a global pandemic, it is across industries, it is having an economic and a health effect, and therefore the government becomes the last bastion of trust.” In this survey Americans trusted their state versus federal government 66% to 46% respectfully. 

Trust operates like ballast stabilizing a ship during stormy seas. Successfully navigating through life’s difficult challenges deepens its calming effects. Many people make the mistake of trusting illusions that by definition are temporary in nature. Trust is the quality that gets us through the temporary earth storms of hardship and resistance. People who trust are more free, dynamic, and powerful in the truest sense. They tend to thrive in the world because all the forces of the universe often unite to help create a trusted dream. Trust invites support. Happiness and freedom are the results. The universe will always assist an honest and sincere man or woman who embodies integrity, love, and trust. Trust the divine, others, and yourself before addressing any additional ideals on your plate. Prioritize your needs and your soul’s guidance first. Trust the universe secondarily. No matter how difficult the obstacle, trust that the divine supports your efforts to manifest your dreams. Once the first two steps are accomplished, you can never go wrong if you trust in others as your third step. During these trying times, many people are praying.

Unfortunately, many of the prayers people are offering in the wake of the current events have no effect on their desired intention. In order to pray properly, one must know that we an aspect of the divine ourselves. With that in mind prayers of supplication, adoring, and begging for some desired event or outcome do not carry the punch people desire. Here are five steps for powerful prayer.

 

  1. We need to focus our intention clearly in our mind, while our emotions send the prayer bursting out into the universe from our passionate heart. The universe hears all prayers. Visualize the desire approaching, gathering energy and momentum to arrive. Imagine the optimal outcome and feel the positive feelings of the desired event manifesting just in the way we want it. We aren’t manipulating events, we’re reprogramming our belief system and sending a message to the universe that we wish to hold a new vision or focused desire. Give up planning the method, timing and avenue of the desired manifestation. This allows the universe more room to work. The creative spark of the prayer can fit into more places never dreamt of in our mind and do more good this way. 
  2. Calmly hold the knowing that the universe heard us. Let go of wanting to thank the divine before the prayer is answered since this smacks of manipulation. Surrender to the understanding that we may not know our soul’s plan or the soul path of others. A prayer can never override someone’s soul directive or a group soul agenda. They will always take priority over personal prayer.
  3. Trust that earth and the universe will respond to our prayer. Watching water boil doesn’t make it happen any quicker. Vigilance engenders fear and doubt which causes your result to move away. Fear sends the following message to the universe and can undo a prayer, “I now wish to manifest fear.” The universe will match the core energies of your heart, mind and soul in the moment we feel it. By preparing and expecting positive results from our prayer, our seeds of passion and intention grow quickly.

 

The universe provides the sun, water, the pixie dust within synchronicity and the power of creative thought to mirror the creative impulse of our heart, mind and soul. The intensity and sincerity of our prayer is paramount. If we are confused, the universe will match our confusion and return more confusion to us as if our prayer was a request for more confusion.  The universe doesn’t react to our intention, it responds to our whole being. Powerful prayer is one of absolute, heartfelt, passionate desire. We need to let go of any attachment to the perfect way our prayer should be answered. Know that whatever happens will be appropriate spiritually even though our personality may think otherwise.

  1. Sending energy to others needs to be done carefully if they are ill or need help. Visualize the individual or group solving health issues, finding strength and achieving security. We are in effect sending them a vision to stimulate the health, wisdom and wholeness already inherent inside themselves. We are all perfect at the soul level. Pray for the individual’s personality or group to remember perfect health. Hold the vision of serenity and security located in their soul’s individual or collective template. 

When praying for individuals or groups in other parts of the world hold the image of infinite wisdom and compassion filling the hearts of others less wise or full of hatred. Do not assume they are empty and we or the universe must fill them up. Remember, they are divine beings experimenting in illusion just like everyone else.

Earth is a free-will planet and some individuals and groups experiment in pain and suffering to blow up rigid belief systems. Love requires we don’t take lessons away from others. If the painful lesson is removed prematurely, the soul will be drawn to manifest it again. There are no exceptions to this truth. This is why it is tricky to pray for another with our vision in mind as well as our pixie dusted outcome. 

All souls want peace, love and security needs met. This is why connecting to these positive images are empowering prayers. There are individuals and groups with wonderful agendas but pain, suffering, and pandemics are the tools to get the job done. Thus surrendering our personality’s sense of timing to another’s soul timing is critical. Prayers designed to steer them away from their agenda would dishonor them. 

  1. When we pray for ourselves, focus your awareness on good health, happiness and inner peace to remember these desired states. If this doesn’t work, it would be wise to meditate deeply to discern our soul’s spiritual agenda around the problem we want changed. We and/or humanity collectively have beliefs buried deep in our subconscious manifesting these undesirable series of events. If this is true our soul will assist the negative outcomes until we are motivated to revisit our core beliefs so we and/or humanity can change them.

Since this pandemic is so pervasive and affects all of us, this questionnaire may be helpful to explore trust more deeply to help everyone looks at possible solutions. The following set of questions come from the Trust Alliance Principles (TAP) Assessment from M.C. Bligh’s book, Leadership Today: Practices for Personal and Professional Performance (21–42), Springer International Publishing. I adapted some of the sentences to include personal relationships.

*Which principles do you believe are a strength or weakness in your personal relationships, organization or workplace? 
(Select as many as apply)

__ Truth – We are honest and humble – We put the truth ahead of personal or professional gain.

__ Accountability – We hold one another accountable – we each take responsibility without regard to level or role.

__ Purpose – We engage others and our stakeholders to build shared purpose – we avoid short terms “wins” that undermine future success.

__ Integrity – We do what we say – our everyday actions and talk are consistent.

__ Notice – We seek out and listen to diverse perspectives – every voice can matter.

__ Talent – We reward moral character – we seek friendships, hire and promote in alignment with our purpose and values.

__ Openness – We are open and ready to learn – we can be vulnerable and not have all the answers.

__ Transparency – We reject hidden agendas – we are transparent wherever and whenever possible.

__ Respect – We respect each other – we encourage questioning and create a “zero fear” environment where innovation can thrive.

__ Understanding – We celebrate our successes – we acknowledge and examine our failures with empathy, and learn from both.

__ Safety – We call out unethical behavior or corrupt practices – we make it safe to be honest with no fear of reprisal.

__ Tracking – We define and scorecard our performance against our value and values – we measure both.

 

 

June2020 Eric Ehrke LCSW, LMFT is a psychotherapist at Ommani.  He sees clients on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Telephonic services are available during this period of COVID19 physical distancing for new and existing clients.  Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.