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MIND your own LIFEthe journey back to love
By Aaron Anson
BALBOA PRESSCopyright © 2011 Aaron Anson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhere Were You?
The earth is mind-bendingly old: 4.54 billion years old, according to researchers and geologists. In fact, the earth was around for 117 million years before the moon formed. Upon hearing of these massive time spans, an inquisitive person might ask about our lives here on earth: "Where was I when all this was taking place," "Where am I right now," and, "Where will I be in the future?"
Nobody on earth can know the answers to questions like these, so I certainly won't pretend to. But let's ponder briefly: where were you and I one hundred years ago? How about one thousand, or even one billion years ago? Surely we were indeed somewhere in the universe. Even more perplexing, where will you and I be a million years from today?
Our bodies weigh exactly the same before and after our last breath. It's reasonable to say that we are much more than our bodies, which are really just a vessel for our experience here on earth. Our minds define who we truly are. You might even say that we're never actually in our bodies to begin with. But if life has no weight or substance to it, then what is it? This is another question that can't be answered here on earth; nevertheless, this notion warrants further inquiry.
These questions beckon us to heighten our awareness of our Source and ask: what, then, gives value to life as we know it? Life has to be contained in our minds, souls, and spirits, since it has no material value. That said, the mind is of utmost importance. Our bodies along with our brains are here in physical form, but our minds are our ultimate observers. The mind exists in all places at once, much as a radio station emits from a remote location but yet is accessible virtually anywhere for those who choose to tune in.
We are not these physical bodies that we have been taught to believe we are. We are our minds. In fact, our bodies are made up of the exact same matter as were people who came long before us. Their bodies have since decomposed, become part of the earth's surface we walk on, and become our bodies. Of course, someday our bodies will in turn become the very dust matter that others walk upon.
* * *
Edgar Mitchell, the astronaut pilot of Apollo 14, was one of the first men to walk on the moon. He gave an intriguing account of his experience in space, describing his view out into the great abyss of the universe from his spacecraft. He described galactic clusters, twinkling stars, and limitless cellular formations.
Imagine his powerful epiphany when he sensed that the molecules of his body, the spacecraft, and his flight partners were all connected in a oneness, and that oneness had been prototyped ages ago. Edgar Mitchell's account of his epiphany in space still send chills down my spine:
Suddenly, from behind the rim of the moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is Earth ... home.
My view of our planet was a glimpse of divinity.
Buddhism has a name for this experience: "samadhi," the highest form of meditation in which you experience oneness with the universe.
After retiring from the astronaut program, Dr. Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences: a foundation to sponsor research on consciousness and inner knowing.
* * *
Mitchell's experience is compelling, and it's relevant to our lives here on earth today. Such a major paradigm shift has the tendency to put our problems into perspective.
Many times, those we idolize the most are the least perfect. Religious zealots publicly oppose abortion and same-sex marriages, but behind closed doors, they fornicate, divorce and remarry, masturbate, and are unfaithful. When they take these loud, aggressive, hypocritical stances, it only separates us in our journey to achieve a harmonious existence.
It's time for us to become the judges of our own lives.
In our attempt to elevate our standing in society, we insist on separating others into classes by age, race, gender, education, sexual orientation, neighborhoods, income, religion, and every other category we can imagine. We've become obsessed with status, power, and money. We often lose sleep worrying about keeping up with the Joneses, who in turn lose sleep themselves as they try to keep us with us.
We play mind games with the very people we profess to love. Think of all the times you may have been hell-bent on winning an argument with your significant other! We must even evaluate our relationships with those we see on a day-to-day basis.
Perhaps in a hundred or a thousand years, none of these things will really matter.
As we work to make our lives more harmonious, let's remember a quote by Albert Einstein: "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." Surely, we can take what Einstein said and apply it to our lives today. By using a different kind of thinking, we can answer our questions about spirituality, morality, sexuality, and religion; we can discover the authentic love and acceptance humanity once knew.
Welcome to Mind Your Own Life.
Whence Came Prejudice?
Before we were born, we completely submitted the entire first nine months of our lives to our Source. We innately trusted this Source to take the utmost care of us while our hearts, brains, eyes, ears, and hair took shape. Miraculously, all of this form took place from a speck of matter hardly visible, even with a microscope. Now, be aware that all of this happened without input or interference from us, and look at the perfect being that resulted—you.
* * *
This brings me to remembering. Let's bring awareness to the moment when we stopped surrendering to this Source we had trusted so intimately for the very first nine months of our lives. At what point did ego creep in and we decide to forfeit this birthright? If we are honest, we will acknowledge that the moment we first felt fear, anger, hate, envy, jealousy, or separation, we had disconnected from the Source to which we initially submitted. Our goal now should be to—without hesitation—reconnect and submit once again to the Source we once knew.
Though it should really be nameless, I use God and Source interchangeably to satisfy our human insistence on giving everything a name. You are free to call it Spirit, God, or Source—whatever you feel most comfortable with. Just understand that words are just words: the word sun will not burn you or make you hot any more than the word cold will make you need your jacket. It's not the name we give something that gives it meaning.
For future reference, I often link the terms awareness, knowing, Source, and remembering because they are all necessary for explaining this reconnection to our originating birthright. I also used the word reconnect (as opposed to connect) because I feel we're all innately connected to Source and could never be completely separated. However, through our learned behavior and prejudices, we experience shorts in this circuitry, and therefore a disrupted flow of our Source energy. To reconnect, we must cleanse our corroded connections so we can reconnect with our birthright—the love we once inherently knew at birth.
* * *
There was an incident that happened to me at thirteen years old that stands out in my mind as an example of taught hate and prejudice. As a teenager, I would often wear a cap to school; during class I would take it off and place it on the top corner of my desk. One day while in the eighth grade, a white female classmate of mine walked up from behind me and snatched the cap off my desk, then proceeded to walk away. I stood up in the center row aisle and demanded she give it back. She turned around and began waving the cap in my face, shouting, "Nigger! Nigger! Nigger!"
I tried to snatch the hat back, but she just pulled it back toward her. In a flash, I grabbed her by her hair and elbowed her in the top of the head. The teacher, now aware of the confrontation, intervened to separate us. She got hurt and I got my hat back.
Needless to say, we were both escorted to the principal's office.
* * *
A few weeks later, we found ourselves in court. Her parents had decided that they would sue for the medical expenses of her visit to the doctor and her eyeglasses that got broken during the fight. Because we did not have much money, mom was forced to make a huge financial sacrifice in order to retain an attorney to represent me in court. In court my attorney pointed out to the judge that I had been a straight "A," honor roll student up until this incident, and had not even one disciplinary action against me in school ever.
The judge asked me to tell my account of the events that took place and led up the altercation, and I did so. He then asked for her side of the story and while sobbing immensely she bawled to tell him "I only called him nigger once!" Angered by her reply and unsympathetic to her crying the judge sternly admonished her," I don't care how many times you said it! the point is you should not have said it even once." He went on to rule that the attack had been provoked by her and explained that the District Attorney had requested that I pay half of her Doctor's bill, but in light of the circumstance, he would not ask me to pay even that. Furthermore he stated that since I was a juvenile the entire case would be expunged from the court records.
I found out years later from a mutual classmate that my antagonist had in fact had a huge crush on me and started out really just wanting my attention. She instinctively loved me but was so easily provoked to hate me. At twelve or thirteen years old she had already been taught to hate and label others with offensive terms. Her family was obviously just as poor as mine being they qualified for a Public Defender, but somehow she'd been taught to correlated my being black with the word nigger, and that it was hateful. On the other hand, I'd learned to accept labels others placed on me.
As tragic as this story seem with the time and monies lost by both our families, and the tremendous sacrifices my mother made to afford me the best defense—this is truly an example of the human capacity to simulate its source and naturally love, and our human ability to forcibly hate.
* * *
Let's take a look at a newborn baby so we can better understand our connection to our original Source. Better yet, think of when we ourselves were newborn babies.
Now let's focus on our state of awareness the moment after we were born. At that point we had absolutely no prejudices whatsoever, no hate for anything or anyone. We did not care that our parents were of a particular race, creed, or size. We wouldn't have cared if they were a dreadful dictator or a benevolent champion of human rights. All we knew was that we were in infinite care. Our initial instinct is to love without any preconceived notions—without choice or prejudice.
This awareness is a major shift from our current perception: that we're all somehow different and separate from each other. We've learned to define others by race, sex, height, weight, religion, sexual orientation, and every other category we can imagine. These differences between us are most prevalent in our minds. To shift our thinking and our awareness, we need to observe the larger reality of the universe.
For example, we don't think how different the oranges are that made our orange juice, even if the oranges came from different trees. They may have grown in different states or different countries, or even be of different species! But when the oranges are squeezed, they all produce orange juice, and it is good. It becomes easy to see there's not much more difference between you and me, in the scheme of the entire universe, than there is between two oranges.
* * *
The universe is the very body of God, and it is from this body that we were born: perfect, loving, and forgiving, and just as accepting as the stars or the moon. Realizing the beauty of our natural state of love makes you wonder where we got the idea that we are somehow superior (or inferior) to others because of our race, color, creed, or even our ethics and morality. We learned—we were taught—these prejudices, attitudes and behaviors; this wasn't anything we were born with.
That's right! Every prejudice we have against another person was taught to us after we were born. From an infantile state of inherent love, one has to learn to hate, or to feel superior to others. Every single prejudice that a person adopts, every act of resistance to the universe, has to be learned from an outside source—because our most natural state of being is love and acceptance! Our defining moment came when we were birthed from spirit into a material world of physical existence.
Since this is the case, and because we know God as our originating Source, our objective must now be to get back to our Source. This is most certainly an attainable goal, since our Source is our genesis and therefore has always been a part of us. The detrimental behavior we've learned has only kept us separated from fully knowing God and ensured our connection to our Source remains corroded. Our challenge is to unlearn the behaviors that separate us from our Source.
In order to justify our prejudices against each other, we sometimes try to divide Source by declaring that God loves some and hates others. The moment we attempt to do so, our idea of Source is no longer a oneness, but a false duality created to satisfy our egotistical urge to paint others as inferior and ourselves superior. When we act upon these learned prejudices, we completely resist our original Source.
But there is hope that we can relearn. We know how beliefs affect our behavior, and we also know how beliefs can change. People once believed that earth was the center of the universe and the world was flat and square: if you were to traverse the ocean, you'd fall off into the abyss at some point. Many people in my lifetime believed they'd never witness a black President of the United States. Of course, that notion has been shattered, as well. The fact that many of our once-steadfast beliefs have changed suggests that we can unlearn the destructive belief patterns that we still hold onto today. Our challenge is to rediscover the authentic love we all once knew, instead of relying on the beliefs handed down to us from others.
Left to Tell
On a hot Sunday morning in June 1982, my uncle dropped me off at the Savannah airport for an early flight to New York. I had decided it was finally time to go up there and retrieve my customized van—another uncle had talked me into loaning it to him for a week to drive to New York. It was now several weeks later, and all I seemed to be getting from him were weekly promises that he would return it.
It was the trip driving back from New York that would have an immeasurable impact on my life.
* * *
Twenty-two years old and having already had a brief stint in the Army, my life was chock full of anxiety and uncertainty. I had acquired a couple of used cars that I repaired and then re-sold for profit, and I got in the rhythm of selling whatever car I was driving to turn a fast buck. Working down at my relatives' salvage yard made this part-time hustle a natural thing to do. I relentlessly toiled to try and find my place in the world—to make my own mark for success.
Much of my striving was done out of fear of being broke, or even destitute. I was frightened when I would see older adults on the streets who were homeless, begging those who passed by. It annoyed me to see relatives constantly complaining about paying their bills. I became feverishly consumed with justifying my own worth not just to myself, but especially to others who doubted me. I felt that the opinions of my family and friends defined me, so I craved their acknowledgement. I was greedy, in a relentless pursuit of money, and I was willing to do whatever it took to feed my obsession—even if it meant buying homes and cars I could not afford, getting married, and burning the candle at both ends by feverishly working.
Excerpted from MIND your own LIFE by Aaron Anson Copyright © 2011 by Aaron Anson. Excerpted by permission of BALBOA PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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