The problem sometimes with ones own spiritual work is that we allow ourselves to get caught up in the work of others.  This is a trap that we can easily fall into and it has the effect of rendering our own path and work compromised.  It isn’t that we can’t work with others, no, its that when we seek to compare our path to another that we wind up getting in trouble.

When we compare ourselves to another, we are no longer dealing with ourselves.  We look out across the patchwork of backyards and we see the Smiths and the Jone’s and we begin the comparison process.  Everyone is different, everyone has their own challenges and lessons to learn.  When we start worrying over what the backyard of another looks like, we forget what it was we were involved in.  This becomes the wedge through which all kinds of things enter.  With such a strong reliance upon the ego, the sense of differentiation between “me” and “the” becomes distorted, exaggerated, and we lose sight of what it is we need to be attending to.  They eye of your heart is best served by keeping it on the prize, which is you. This isn’t to say that you don’t care about others, you can and should, but when you seek to judge others for that which rests in your own field of inexperience and lack, you become not unlike a Pharisee, which is a nice way to say “hypocrite.”  The problem is that its so easy to do, and we all do it.  Learning the lesson of self love includes, I think, keeping our eyes on what matters most, which is ourselves.  The moment we begin to compare, we have a world of differences at our disposal.  The differences will always be there and they can serve to trip us up and get us tangled in what should probably best be kept in the past.

Someone once said do not seek to point out the mote in your neighbors eye when you have a beam in your own.

We are all imperfect.  We are like balls of clay that we are kneading into more perfect form.  In awakening, the higher self serves as a kind of template, what Jesus called the Mother and the Father.  I know you may not be familiar with the Mother part, but old documents suggest quite strongly that this was what he was talking about and that he used these very terms in describing the Kingdom which is made up of two currents moving in the body, a source-point of higher consciousness, a more expanded sense of awareness that is what you are.  For the Hindus. it was the Shakti and Shiva that served as a cosmic template.  There is no one culture or tradition that has any kind of monopoly on these ideas, for they spring as fresh and as real from our innocent realization as buds from a cherry tree.  These two higher forms of awareness can serve as a perfect example for you.  This is the part of you that actually exists outside or independent from time so that the usual rules of causality and exploded.  This means you have this wonderful “cheat” or short cut to knowing how you can be.  In the same way that a parent will offer you, as a small child, a better was to respond, react, or to be, so too does this cosmic template offer you the way out of your own dark corners and discontent.  It isn’t anything that exists outside of you. None of this is anything you must right in another….for certainly we should by now be able to see what happens when we seek to make it right in another (no matter the merits of doing so).  We have the Crusades, endless wars, the Inquisition, the Dark Ages, invasions to help bring freedom to poor insufferable souls, and Witch Trials.  All of this because we each felt we knew what was best for another, all because we saw the mote in our neighbor’s eye instead of taking care of the beam in our own.

It isn’t in your neighbors yard or in some far-flung country or ashram.  It is in you.  And when I say this it isn’t like it is some nice thought to consider; it is true from the top of you to the bottom of you.  Its like you were given this marvelous kit with all the tools necessary to get things right within.  If you think to yourself that you could not even imagine how that could be, then take that thought and look at it carefully and learn from it that this is the extent to which we each have been blind to its presence in our world…within each of us.  But don’t worry; I didn’t know that it existed within me either.  I only had a distant sense that whatever I was going to find out, it wasn’t going to be about something outside myself.  It would be within me. Set the world right within so that you may properly know the world without.  Without doing this you shall not see or know that which is ever-present around you moment by moment.  With all of our own self loathing and unhappiness about ourselves I know it can be easy to look and compare, but don’t.  Take what you have been given as well as the accumulation of all the things that you yourself have created up to this point and say “I accept all of this and will begin working on it right now.”  Then go into that silent garage of your soul, the temple of your highest holiest place, the lab of your own inner creation, or your ocean of being and begin doing the work.  Observe, feel, ask yourself the question, not your beighbor “what is it I most need to know right now, what must I attend to in this moment?”  If you are quiet enough, observant, and receptive, the answer will come.  And sometimes it will be pretty obvious.  Maybe the answer will be “quit looking over the neighbors fence” while at other times the answer will not be so cut and dried.  You might have to just let yourself FEEL without expectation.

When you get to this place, you are so much more centered. Quiet and observant, you can better become aware of all the loops and memes that play through your being at any given time of the day.  This will further help to cultivate a deeper sense of awareness and a meditative state.  Life itself becomes a constant meditation, not a distraction.  You go from being reactive to proactive.  You go from slave to your feelings to a master of them.  How long this takes, I don’t know.  I am not you.  Maybe it takes years. Maybe it takes lifetimes.  Maybe it can begin to be cultivated and put into practice within a few weeks, or even right now.  But right now is what you have.  the past is gone, the future keeps slipping one step ahead of you, so the NOW is the point of power for you where all change can take place.  Don’t worry how long it will take.  Be like a child and be curious about all of it and don’t worry about the time factor.  It will come when you are ready.  You aren’t going to change any of that anyway, so letting something take you out of the present isn’t going to be very productive I don’t think.

The other problem with looking over the backyard fence is that we see what we want to see.  We see through our own filters, our own lenses. Someone will see an old craggy plum tree and think “my goodness, that tree is so ugly it needs to be cut down” while the owner might say, “plum tree, I planted you when I first married my wife and I have had four children, lived in three homes, , had two different careers, and now all my children are grown and my wife has died and I am all alone in the autumn of my life, and here you are still bearing the most delicious fruit….

I have had some hard lessons in this area with people who could not or would not see things clearly that was in my own backyard.  I allowed myself to get caught up or hung up on what these very misguided people had to say, and instead of getting a chuckle out of it, I let it affect me.  I became too concerned how others viewed me, a kind of reverse form of the whole motes and beams idea, and yet it is all still very much the same thing.  Why on earth would I have let someone shake my confidence about how lovely my old craggy plum tree is?  I told myself that it was because it was the mother of my children doing this, so I had to correct the noise being generated.  “There are plenty of people looking to crucify and tear you down.  Why let them knock you off your game?” my inner voice would say.  So these kinds of things served as the focal point in my own work, which is to heal that part of me that might be hurt or affected by the harsh judging words of me by others.  “Stop looking over the fence and look at your own backyard,” it cautioned.  You see, we all do this, so saying this is a reminder to me as much as it is to you.  Maybe moreso for me.  So you never can judge for yourself the worth or importance of something in a person’s life. Of course you can, but then, you will most certainly lose sight of the very things that you need to work on, which is that beam stuck in your eye.

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