This article by PAL&G and MSIA Founder, John-Roger, was originally published in the Movement Newspaper, November 1982.
The quest inside us is an eternal quest. We may speak different languages, go to different churches or worship different forms of God, but we all still want to experience joy and love inside ourselves because that’s the nature of the Soul.
It’s true that when people come together in a group, there is often an agreement which says, “We’ll function this way while we’re in this group because that’s the way it will work best for us.” But later you may go to another group or another job and assume another function or role there. Then you may go to yet another activity and assume still another role. But while you’re doing this, you should never lose track that inside of you there resides the eternal One—the One that always exists.
The problem is, however, that sometimes you will say, “If there is this eternal One within me, then why don’t I already know it?” My response is, “Why don’t you listen? Why don’t you hold still within yourself for just a second and open your awareness?”
And then you want to know, “How do I open my awareness?” One way is to close your mouth, eyes and ears so that you’re not distracted by all the distractions of the world. Once you can control the body, you can start moving into higher levels of awareness.
The physical body may be the first level to bring under conscious direction and control. You can hold out your hand and shake it and then you can stop it. And you might wonder who stops it. Does your body stop it? Maybe not. Maybe the body wants to keep shaking it. Does an emotion or a feeling stop it? Not necessarily, because you can feel like shaking the hand and still control the body and do the opposite action. So, obviously you’re more than your feelings. Perhaps it’s the mind that says, “Shake it,” or “Don’t shake it.” But your mind doesn’t really do the action. It can only have a thought about the action or potential action. All of these levels can function independently of one another.
You can be talking to someone while you’re looking at something in the opposite direction, and your hand can still be shaking. Different levels perform independently. The feelings can be independent of the mind. The body can be independent of the imagination. But when you stop all of those things, what is it that stops them? You stop them. That which is beyond all the other levels is you. Much of the time your expression is on the periphery of the real you because the mind and emotions kick up and the body gets upset, which pulls you into those lower levels.
What you must do is quiet the body, emotions and mind. You can do this through the processes of meditation, contemplation, spiritual exercises, chanting a mantra or personal tone. Often it is suggested that you take between 10 minutes and two hours a day for individual spiritual practices. The time varies with individual teachers, preferences, schedules, etc. Spending some time in meditation can be a tremendous key to self-awareness.
Another key to self-awareness is a positive mental attitude. If you want to learn to direct yourself consciously, bring yourself into a positive focus. You might say, “Well, how can anybody have a positive mental attitude in the mess I’ve created?” Nobody said it was going to be easy. Look at it this way: If you develop a positive mental attitude when there is no challenge, what have you really developed? If you develop a positive mental attitude in the face of a lot of negativity, you have developed great strength and integrity.
If a person says, “I’m going on a diet,” when he’s just finished eating a big meal, how long do you think his “diet” will last? There is no challenge in dieting when your stomach’s full. There’s no challenge to stop smoking after you’ve just had a cigarette. But how about the next moment coming up? How about the next time you’re hungry and you think, “Do I gorge myself or not?” If you are to gain in self-awareness, you must exercise a conscious direction and hold to it. At some point you must restrain yourself. It’s often easy to hold a positive direction for awhile, but do you have the ability to hold and hold and hold until the old negative patterns get tired and give in?
Too often you give in first—and that may be what you hate. Not having the strength inside that you’d like to have can bother you because you don’t feel worthy of all the goodness that can be in your life. Some people think that in order to feel worthy you must do worthy things. Spiritually you are worthy, just in your own beingness. But to experience the sense of worthiness, you must do worthy things. It’s difficult to feel worthy if you’ve been angry and resentful, screamed at everyone around you about how wrong they are, and generally behaved like a madman.
You are here to go through life and experience it, not to experience everything or fall in temptations of negativity, but to consciously make choices in your life that serve to uplift you. You unfold according to your divine right. When you meet the demands of life as they are placed upon you, and overcome them, then you are exalted because you have been tried and found worthy. Then your inner strength lifts you up. You stand higher, the body feels better, the emotions feel good, and the mind clears.
You meet the demands of life as they are created—this is your responsibility. If you create a dishonest situation, you meet it and clear it in whatever way comes forward. If you’re going to worry about what’s going to take place tomorrow and if you’ll get caught, don’t do anything that will lead to being caught. If you think, “Should I do this? What if this is bad? Which way do I go?” all you’re doing is swinging back and forth in your consciousness. Some people think that it is Spirit coming in and moving them. But it may actually be indecision moving you. Move toward what you are worrying about and see what it is.
If the action does not seem clear for you to do—don’t do it. If you are going to worry and be concerned about the outcome, don’t go into that area. Be smart in your approach to life. If you think of embezzling some company funds, but you’re losing sleep over what happens if you get caught, don’t embezzle. If you’re flirting with your neighbor and worried what your wife will do if she finds out, don’t be the flirt. Move if you have to, but don’t go into that area.
If you’re willing to put forward effort to increase your awareness, Spirit will move with you. You don’t get healthy, wealthy and wise with a negative attitude. Even if you’re just looking to be happy, you won’t get there with a negative attitude. If you just want to get along with people, have success and gain wealth, you have to have a positive approach. No matter what your goal is, you will come closer to accomplishing it if your attitude is positive.
Why not make your goal God consciousness? Why not learn about the inner realms before you die so you can know where you’re going? If you don’t move in that direction, you won’t get it. And if you do move in that direction, you’ll be moving that way all the time, every moment of your waking consciousness. And as you start moving into it, you’ll start making wise choices. As you make wise choices, your environment will settle down, and you’ll begin getting free of it. Then you’ll start to say, “Life is good.” It’s really been the same life all along. It’s just your attitude that is now creating peace and harmony.
Find your freedom by seeing what is going on right now and how to make life work for you, rather than seeing what is going against you. How can you make your life work better for you? You may not have a solution right now, because you might be in a level of experiencing a situation. You may still have to internalize it more and allow it to shake things loose inside of you, until you finally say, “I don’t need this anymore. I’m free of it.” Then the “negative” experience becomes positive as you use it as a stepping stone. Life is a challenge. You knew it before you came here. It is a challenge of fulfillment and a challenge of awareness.
More and more we are moving into a new area. Some people call it the Age of Aquarius or the Golden Age. It’s actually the age of greater loving. We’re living in the time of Biblical prophecy. It is said that in the latter days God will…”pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” (Joel 2:28)
Force isn’t going to make the changes you want to make. If you try to force someone, they’ll use force back on you. If you try to be the authority with them they will show you that they are as authoritative as you. The thing that will create the changes you’re after is when God’s energy of love flows through you and activates your love. You combine that with other people’s love, and it starts overflowing. It becomes an “epidemic” of loving. People are no longer afraid to love and they’re not afraid to say, “I love you.”
Life is to be lived. It is meant to be shared. It is not to be abused or inflicted upon anyone. It is meant to be joyful, not evil or sinful. Life is being present and just breathing in and out. The knowledge of how to solve problems, how to grow and change is within you. But you are the one who must come into the awareness of yourself to such a degree that you can activate that knowledge and use it for your own and others’ upliftment.