As our will gains strength, it spills over into other areas of our life. If we intend to skip on seconds on our favorite foods, the same will that is pushing us to meditate every night will be the one that tells us to push away from the table. It is stronger now and carries more clout. In this regards, every temptation becomes an opportunity to strengthen our spiritual willpower.
A Miracle Mind becomes much easier to attain when the principles of Kaizen are combined with the five essential steps laid out in this book. The slow and steady approach of Kaizen allows us to climb out of our most stubborn habits and perceptions. As we progress through the following chapters, we will be looking at ways to redirect our focus and to reprogram our thoughts. We will make the greatest gains when we adjust our focus gently. This shift in focus will permit us to disentangle our perceptions from the ego. The clearer our perceptions, the easier it becomes to tap into the power of the Spirit. It also becomes easier to access our Soul. With the Soul animating our minds and the Spirit supporting it, miracles are not something that we have to try to create; they flow from our thoughts effortlessly. The change may seem subtle at first, but the power to manifest our intentions will be growing exponentially. One day, we will wake up and realize that we no longer have to go looking for things to make us happy; we just seem to attract them. It is at this point, we know we have achieved the Miracle Mind.
Self-discipline does not develop overnight. It is a muscle that must be exercised in order to grow. Strengthening our will is where the practice of Kaizen pays off. It makes it possible for us to strengthen it painlessly through small changes. Say for instance, we are trying to form the habit of meditating twenty minutes each night before we go to bed, but some nights, we just do not feel like it. When we give into the urge to blow it off, our will grows weak. It fails to back up our good intentions, which means the next night, when faced with the same choice, we will find it even easier to blow off meditation.
If we apply the principle of Kaizen to our aim to meditate, we get a very different outcome. Now, instead of giving into the voice of our ego to blow off meditation all together, we compromise. We sit down and meditate for five minutes instead of twenty. Our ego does not offer much resistance to five minutes of mediation and so we do not have to struggle to make ourselves do it. Meanwhile, our will grows stronger because it succeeded in carrying out our intention to meditate. Our will continues to push us to meditate each night for five minutes until our mind gets used to the idea and drops its resistance all together. It is at this point, we up the ante. Now we aim to meditate seven minutes each night. Our mind concedes because, after all, what is two more minutes. Eventually, our will gets us to our goal, twenty minutes of meditation each night, and it never had to struggle against our ego to get us there.
Focusing on small gains is not a method unique to Spiritual advancement. “Slow and steady wins the race” is a refrain we have heard since childhood. People who take this approach toward their goals generally have much better luck at achieving them. It also lends itself to results that are easier to sustain. In Japan, they have a name for this approach. It is called Kaizen, which translates loosely to “improvement.” It resonates with the idea of “all good things in good time” – results guaranteed!
The point of practicing Kaizen is not to move slowly but to move without struggle. In Spiritual terms, this is especially significant since struggle is contrary to the spiritual path. Kaizen also emphasizes steady progress. Focus on moving forward from wherever you find yourself. In other words, do not get stuck surveying the depth of the hole you are in; raise your eyes to the sky and just start climbing. And most importantly, Kaizen is about focus. Whatever step you are taking, give it your full attention. In a journey of 5,000 miles (or kilometers) the step you are taking is the only one you ever have to get right.
Applying the principles of Kaizen is the surest way to achieve a Miracle Mind by helping us transfer power from our ego to our Spirit. Though the mind can get in the way of making miracles, it is also essential to it, since it determines our intentions. Without intentions, there is no spiritual path to follow. The mind also produces the willpower to follow through on our intentions. Depending on where we are on our spiritual path, exerting our will can prove to be a challenge. It comes down to a matter of self-discipline.
We truly are living in the advent of higher consciousness. From the soul’s perspective, it is an exciting time to be a resident on planet Earth. The old paradigm of ego consciousness sways under the weight of the suffering it has caused, prompting a mass exodus of its inevitable demise. People in greater numbers are looking beyond conventional wisdom to discover what ails them. The Information Age has risen up to answer this call. Better still is the emergence of the self-help industry: now we have a veritable buffet of ideas and traditions to choose from to give us direction. The sharing of new ideas has prompted many of us to imagine our own awakening. No longer do we perceive enlightenment as a state reserved for the likes of Jesus and the Buddha; it is guaranteed in our evolution as well.
Though every soul is guaranteed to awaken over the course of its many incarnations, it still presents itself as a lofty goal in a single lifetime. We cannot put it on a timetable like we can in obtaining a degree in computer science. In fact, trying to achieve enlightenment sets us back because it gets us entangled with the interest of our ego. How do we know when we are entangled in our ego? When we find ourselves struggling against what is. This does not mean that we are helpless in advancing our own awakening; it just means we cannot strong-arm ourselves into doing so. There is no such thing as a fast track to enlightenment. Enlightenment becomes insurmountable when we attempt it. A goal set on small daily gains in wisdom, however, will take us far. It will deliver us out of the wilds of our ego, and set us on solid ground with our Spirit where all manner of miracles are possible.
Being an extension of the creator means that you command infinite power. Jesus pointed out you could walk on water if you were so inclined – a little hard to fathom when there are days we have trouble keeping up with our car keys. Walking on water really seems a stretch! A Course in Miracles would beg to differ though. It states “there is no order of difficulty in miracles.” They are all the same as far as the Spirit is concerned, which is, of course, the power that drives them. This same Spirit exists for just one purpose: to awaken our soul. When we are aligned with its purpose, we create miracles effortlessly. So the real reason we seldom experience our creative potential is because we seldom share in the purpose of the Spirit. Aligning with it is where we need to put our attention if we are to come into our rightful power.
Working toward the awakening of our Soul means identifying ourselves first and foremost as a Soul. Our ego identity, or personality, is temporary. It’s only purpose, as far is the Spirit is concerned, is to be a placeholder for the Soul. It will diminish in importance as the Soul finds its way to the surface of our awareness.
Separating our ego identity from our spiritual identity can be a little tricky, because any kind of identity has the ego’s fingerprints all over it. As a Zen Master once taught, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” His point was that “being Buddha” is an ego identity too, and that eventually, even it becomes an obstacle to discovering who we truly are. Ultimately, all of our perceptions fall short of the truth, but some perceptions get us closer to it than others. Until we do awaken our Soul, we can use our perceptions as a means to gain higher ground. Think of them as steps we climb to reach the truth, without mistaken them for the truth itself. With that in mind, let us reach for a perception of ourselves that would allow us to expand beyond the limitations of ego.
Courageous are the Souls, who adventure into time and space to learn of their divinity. For while they cannot lose, they can think they have, and the loss will seem intolerable. And while they cannot fail, they can think they have, and the pain will seem unbearable. And while they cannot ever be less than they truly are – powerful, eternal, and loved – they can think they are, and all hope will seem lost. And therein lies their test, a test of perceptions: of what to focus on, of what to believe in, in spite of appearances. – Mike Dooley, The Universe Talks
Miracles happen; indeed, they do. If you doubt them, perhaps it is just the elusiveness of their nature that gives you trouble. Maybe you were that skeptical kid in Sunday School class that had a hard time picturing Moses parting the Red Sea, even when Charlton Hesston did such a stellar job of reenacting it for us on television. Or maybe you dislike the inequality in the way in which they are distributed: one life is spared while millions of others are lost. Maybe you are suspicious that religions seem to have a monopoly on them: they definitely purport to. Or maybe it just comes down to a matter of science: miracles simply do not jive with what we were taught in freshman physics class. Whatever the reason for your skepticism, keep in mind that there is always at least a thread of truth in the stories we are told, even the ones that involve miracles. It is worth pulling at that thread to better understand their true nature and our propensity to produce them ourselves.
If, on the other hand, you have total faith in the existence of miracles, then you will be happy to know that they are as accessible to you as the nose on your face. Actually, even more so, because they originate in your thoughts. If you can think, then you can wield miracles. Humanity has been sitting on a gold mine of infinite possibilities throughout its history, and few have realized it was there to take advantage of it. This is starting to change.
In our very midst, a shift in consciousness is taken place, one in which is expanding our understanding of reality. It can be summed up best as a growing sense of interconnectedness. Its implications are huge in regards to miracles because if the Universe is but just one big tapestry, and all beings nothing more than patterns weaved into it, then our reach of influence is as infinite as the Universe itself. So how do we claim our right to influence the cosmos? We tug at the thread in the tapestry from which all patterns are weaved: our Spirit.
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