How do you know whether the guidance you hear comes from spirit?

Recently, I was asked how I know whether the guidance I hear comes from spirit (and not from an ego-driven part of me).

Good question. Actually, I don’t always know this. There are many pitfalls in the process of guidance.

My higher self and my human personality self have a bit of a different agenda. While my soul probably wants to major in subjects such as compassion, trust, courage, growth, etc. , there is another aspect of me that cares more about being comfortable and safe (and having daily afternoon naps and dark chocolate). So, the higher self and the human part, which feels fear and wants to stay safe, are in conflict sometimes.

Therefore, it is not always easy to discern whether guidance comes from my higher self or from my egoic part.

The ego can come as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. So, it may be that I feel I need to do a certain thing and I have only the best intentions, but it is simply wrong to do this from spirit’s point of view. Then I will get signs that this is not the right way to go.

Another difficulty is the interpretation of the received messages or signs. Surely the guidance of the inner voice or a dream may have come from spirit. But it usually comes in metaphors and I need to interpret it afterwards. What did it mean? And this process leaves much room for uncertainty.

I usually navigate as follows: I use several input channels for guidance, like what I would enjoy doing, what the inner voice tells me, but also what my dreams, some songs in the mind, and what signs and synchronicities tell me. And if they all point to the same direction, then I assume that this is the way to go. (And if I get over my fear-based procrastination, then I’ll eventually follow the guidance).

But sometimes, the signs from the various input channels point into different directions. Then I usually go with what the signs tell me.

It happened twice that I wanted to do something of which I thought that this was the correct way to go. And in one case, it was even in alignment with the message from the inner voice. But then weird things started to happen in my surroundings and messages started to come in via synchronicities which all pointed to the fact that I should reconsider my choice. And eventually, I followed the signs.

You can find more about the input channels which I use (with example stories) in my divine guidance workshop script here:
https://karinfinger.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/divine_guidance_workshop_script.pdf

If this world is an illusion, then why bother?

In the book The Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard about A Course in Miracles, I read that this world was not made by God, but that this world is a consequence of the thought of separation taken seriously.

This made sense to me. Thoughts are the blueprint of everything which is manifest. Out of the pure unmanifest potential of Source or the void comes a thought. This thought has manifesting power, especially when it is coupled with an emotion. So, if we find ourselves here in separate meat-suits with sense organs which enable us to experience a real-looking world which is seemingly out there, then we can sort of reverse engineer this and ask how this did come about. Knowing that thought is the blueprint of everything, it must have been the thought of separation which brought this realm into being.

Even though this made sense, it made me depressed. If this world is not only an illusion like in a virtual reality but also not made by God and the consequence of an erroneous thought, then why bother about anything here in this realm?

But later, I read in another channeled text that God/Source/consciousness is everywhere. I thought, okay, that made sense, too. It was also congruent with my experiences of fast manifestation of thoughts and other non-ordinary stuff like getting messages from living or deceased people in dreams.

So, then what is the illusion?

Well, the illusion is appearance of separation. It is like in a sandcastle. There are towers and walls and people, and we can even name the sand-people and pretend that they are real entities, but the sand is everywhere. So, one way of looking at the sandcastle would be to say that this is a castle with towers and walls and people which are all separate entities. The other way of looking at it would be to say that it is all sand and the form is temporary. The forms may look separate, but they are connected to each other by what they are made of which is the sand.
Another metaphor would be that of a puppeteer with two puppets on his arms. The puppeteer is dressed in such a way that he remains invisible. Only the puppets are visible and they look like separate entities. But they are connected via the invisible puppeteer.

Now, why bother?

We are consciousness, a bubble of experience. In this incarnation and after this incarnation there is always a witnessing I AM presence with an experience in it.

And here comes the important point. The content of this bubble of experience is determined by our beliefs, thoughts, and emotions.

I remember reading a story in one of Jurgen Ziewe’s books (either in Multidimensional Man or in Vistas of Infinity) about his out-of-body experiences. In the astral realm, he saw a woman who was in a depressed mood and desolate external circumstances. Jurgen felt compassion and went to talk to her. They went for a walk together and while they were walking, he managed to convince her to try on a different attitude, like see things more with compassion and hope rather than with anger and depression.

And the miraculous thing was that while she walked and changed her attitude during that walk, also the surroundings changed. The environment started to look more friendly and prettier than before. In the astral realms, the effect of thoughts and emotions on the surroundings is more immediate than here on earth.
So, she was experiencing a direct reflection of her own attitude – in the desolate environment as well as in the better environment. She just wasn’t aware of the mechanics of how the external world was generated by the internal attitude.

In the 3D realm of incarnation, the changes of the external world as a consequence of changes in the internal world (of beliefs, thoughts, emotions) are much slower than in the astral realms. But the connection works in the same way. It is just not as obvious that there is a connection at all. So, we are usually not aware of the connection and assume that it is perfectly okay to have prolonged states of negative emotions because we think that thoughts do not have any effect on the outside world. But they do have an effect. They manifest. And prolonged anger about undesirable circumstances can be the cause which creates more undesirable circumstances.

Now, back to the original question. If this world is an illusion, then why bother?

We have to take a closer look at what is meant by the word ‘bother’ in this context.
If to bother means to attempt to fix the outside world without taking care of one’s inside world first, then that would be pointless. It would be like trying to fix the mess of a bad hair day by trying to comb it in the mirror.
But if to bother means to take care of our inner world of beliefs, thoughts, and emotions first, which will in turn adjust the outer world, then that is very important.

I do not mean to imply that there is never any action to be taken in the outside world. I only want to underline how important it is to take care of our own inner state first. Doing this can lead to an appropriate action to rearrange or fix the outer circumstances.

Besides, the universe/Source/life can help us to start engaging again in case apathy hits. For example, after I had turned the focus of my attention backwards on awareness and found stillness and peace there, I had lost interest in engaging in life here. I think maybe that could be compared to what NDEers experience. Many of them also don’t want to come back to earth after having tasted the peace of heaven. What happened for me was that there was guidance. I got little tasks to engage with life again. For example, one of our budgies got sick and I had to take him to the vet. And in addition, my guides indicated to me that they wanted me to invite a bunch of old friends with their kids to our house. They even gave me a deadline for it. That induced a feeling of overwhelm, but I think it was just meant to drag me out of my apathy and give me some tasks to do. Later, whenever I fell into this apathy, the same thing happened. I would get tasks to do to keep me busy. I found that noteworthy and wondered why. Maybe spirit thinks that the state of being annoyed and in overwhelm is better than being calm and disengaged?

The journey is about coming into alignment with Source within us. This is not just the silent observer or witness and pure unmanifest potential. But it also has a direction to it, a will, like a river has a current. It offers guidance to let us know into which direction the current is flowing. Even though swimming upstream or clinging to the riverbank can feel like the comfortable or safe choice for the short term, it will exhaust or hurt us in the long run.

The guidance can come in many forms. I once read a book about dream work, and on the first page, there was a quote from the Gospel of Thomas (Saying 70) “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” When I read that I thought, ugh, that sounded like a warning that I better give up my resistance, obey the guidance I got, and get some work done.

To sum it up, the world is not an illusion. Only the appearance of separation is an illusion. And it is advisable to align oneself with the current of life’s flow or with the guidance from spirit, not only because that is where joy and fulfillment will be found but also because non-alignment means that the external circumstances can get uncomfortable.

Food for the soul and some vegan recipes

Over the last years, I had a recurring dream theme that I was cooking or helping to provide food for various groups of people. I always interpreted that meaning that it would be my task to provide food for the soul for people.

But now (in May 2021) after more than one year in the home office due to Corona, I am not so sure anymore about that interpretation. Maybe it meant that I would have to provide lunch for my family almost every day?

When I cook, I am more relaxed and do not feel the same urge to plan ahead which I feel with other tasks on my todo list. But I trust more that I will be able to finish my task in time.

I have come to enjoy cooking because it allows me to be creative. I rarely use recipes but rather mix and match whatever inspiration tells me to do in that moment. For example, when I feel inspired to add dried apricots, dates, and cinnamon to an otherwise hot and spicy dish, I usually just do so, wondering with some curiosity how it will taste. It is always a bit of an experiment.

One of my sons has turned strictly vegan since one year. This means, I have to cook mostly vegan or dishes where he can have vegan food and the rest of the family can add cheese or so if they want to.

Recently, I was asked twice on the same day what I usually cook. This led me to compile a list of dishes which I want to share here in case some of my readers are looking for inspiration for what to cook.

Baked vegetables

Besides cooking dishes like pasta, pizza, burger, wraps, and sushi, I like to bake marinated vegetables in the oven and serve them with varying sauces.

-) For example, a mixture of baked red kuri squash (hokkaido pumpkin), apples, onions, chickpeas, carrots, sweet potatoes served with garlic dip or with mango chutney dip (both based on soy yoghurt). Also yummy as a sauce is coconut milk mixed with peanut butter and chili and sweetened with sugar or agave syrup.

-) Baked celery root slices with mashed potatoes with mustard-agave-dill sauce (which is the vegan type of mustard-honey-dill sauce).

-) Red bell peppers and black olives with potato wedges, all marinated and baked, served with a dip made with soy yoghurt and ajvar.

Grains and vegetables

Aside from the oven-baked dishes, I cook rice and serve it with vegetables, beans or nuts, and a sauce.
For variation, I substitute rice with millet or spelt and also spice it a bit.

-) Creamy carrots: For example, I cooked millet+red lentils+chopped onions+chopped dried apricots+yeast broth paste+ brewer’s yeast all together in one pot. Served this with peanuts, chickpeas, tortilla chips, and puree of carrots with coconut milk spiced with cinnamon, ginger, chili, and curry.

-) Coconut curry: rice and brown lentils. Coconut milk with pan-fried, chopped onions, garlic, ginger, and some green Thai curry and lemon baking flavor. This recipe was inspired by this video https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0d2wNXbw9rY , but is a variation of it.

-) Sweet and spicy: Bulgur cooked with apples and oatmilk, cinnamon, sugar, and chili. Then put it into a casserole and baked it in the oven with a crust of almonds and sugar. Served it with vanilla sauce.

Schnitzel

-) My family also loved my onion-sauce dish. Pan-fried vegan schnitzel with red cabbage and mashed potatoes with a sweet sauce from a puree of pan-fried (or microwaved) onions with oatmilk.

Sauces

I have become creative with making sauces. Cooking or baking vegetables is easy. But to make things taste good, I need a sauce.

-) So, I make soy yoghurt based dips where I experiment with mixing whatever fits into the yoghurt (like chutneys, sweet chili sauce, mustard, ajvar, or vegan spreads).

-) Or I make vegetable purees from microwaved veggies, mix them with oatmilk or with coconut milk, and spice them with aceto balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt, and chili.

-) Sometimes, I cook oatmilk, mix some spice into it, like mustard, and use cornstarch for making the sauce creamy. But this requires more effort than the soy yoghurt method or veggie puree approach. Therefore, I do it less often.

I like it best when I have added something from almost all flavors,(i.e. sour, sweet, salty, hot, and umami) to each sauce to make it taste interesting and balanced.

This is a bit like telling a story which conveys spiritual insights and is food for the soul. The story also tastes best when it has elements of all flavors of suspense, surprise, sadness, and humor.

I think that at the moment my guidance is trying to get me to apply my more relaxed approach to cooking to the other areas in my life, i.e. less planning ahead, less preparation for the future, trusting that all will work out in the right time, and following inspiration in every moment. But I find that challenging.



The spiritual journey and the workplace (part 3/3)

In the previous posts (part 1 and 2), I shared how I had changed with regard to my work at the office and what kind of follies I observed. In this post, I write about the problems with technical solutions in general.

Layers of emergent problems

I was working in a technological environment. When there were issues, the usual approach was to fix the bug in the computer coding, to improve a process or workflow, to automate more, or to improve the documentation. And there is nothing wrong with these approaches. In fact, they brought us a long way. I think these approaches are needed in a corporate environment and it is common sense and best practice to use them.

But I saw how not only at work but in our society in general we always tried to solve one issue only to have new issues arise from the solution. For example, having mobile phones is great and useful. But with these gadgets, new issues arise like trackability, data privacy issues, and also smartphone addiction- It is as if every solution to a problems breeds a new layer of emergent problems.

For example, with the tool I developed to prevent our stress-inducing last-minute issues, I did indeed solve one problem. But afterwards I had the burden of the maintenance for that tool and had stress with that. So, one problem solved, but a new one arising.

For every issue, there was always this hopeful feeling, “Never mind, we are going to find a solution. We are going to fix that. And then life will be easier.”

But that never happened. While we did find a solution and we could fix the initial problem, things did not get easier after that. Instead we had an new layer of emergent issues. So, this hope that things would get easier was an ever evading carrot. And it was after waking up that I was able to see this.

What did work, though, for making things easier, was finding inner peace inside and going into inner peace whenever the shit hit the fan. This was the key which made my life easier – and not necessarily some new tools or technical processes.

While I see the necessity to keep improving technical solutions and business processes, an improved common sense and best-practice approach to the usual approaches would be to educate people about the fact that we are consciousness, that consciousness embraces and permeates everything in this world, that thoughts coupled with emotions are literally creative, and that choosing inner peace and acting from inspiration and guidance from that improves results.

Technical or process solutions vs synchronicities and intuition

In the movie The Matrix, there is a scene where Neo walks with Morpheus through a crowd of people. While Neo frequently bumps into another person, Morpheus navigates this stream of people without issues. In the corporate world, people are like Neo on the sidewalk frequently running into collisions with something or someone.

So, the usual approach would be to develop tools to prevent these issues. Hey, we could develop an app for our smartphones which measures the distance to other people and beeps whenever we come to close to someone else. Isn’t this a great idea? Then we would surely solve the issue of bumping into people once and for all. How about marketing that, making some money with it, and feeling great about the fact that we have made the world a better place with this new tool?

But Morpheus has a different solution. He is awake and navigates the world at a different level. So, the issue of bumping into people does not arise for him and therefore does not need to be solved.

I thought that this movie scene was a wonderful metaphor of how waking up and then learning to navigate the current of life can be the solution to so many problems of daily life.

I want to share one story where I saw this principle in action. I had encountered a technical issue and opened a ticket in our Continuous Improvement Process. Someone took care of that ticket and even though he shared a lot of links with knowledge in the ticket, he was not able to get the issue solved because it required the collaboration of another department.

I had already given up and thought this issue would never get fixed, but then one day I synchronistically met a colleague who was a student doing an internship at our company, and he knew what the problem was and whom to contact. So, in the end this issue got solved without our sophisticated Continuous Improvement Process, just by a chance encounter with a student worker who was willing to help.

Just to be clear, I don’t mean to condemn technological advancements or improved processes in any way. They do have their place and they can be very helpful. I just want to point out that they alone are not the way to lead a more happier and peaceful life because of the issue of layers of emergent problems discussed above. And in addition, I think that we need to be aware that there is another way of finding more peace and happiness in life, namely coming into inner peace which in turn will lead to the adjustment of the outer circumstances (something which science hasn’t realized yet and which it cannot explain). So, if someone wants to develop an app which would help people to find a parking space, maybe that would be helpful. But in addition, asking for help from beyond the veil to find a parking space might be a useful option.

The spiritual journey and the workplace (part 2/3)

In the previous post, I wrote about how my shifted focus at work led to more relaxation. Here I share what I observed about my work environment. While in the beginning of my worklife, I was enmeshed in the corporate world, now I noticed much more about what was going on in the corporate environment and how insane some of it was.

Laboro, ergo sum

I saw the need to always have something to do just to look busy and feel valuable and how that plays out.

Once, a co-worker complained to me that he could not really enjoy his vacation because he had so much work to do. So, in order to be able take time off, he would have to work harder before the vacation and also right after the vacation. But on the other hand, I noticed that he had enough time for optional activities like participating in work-related knowledge quizzes and doing stuff just for the sake of gaining visibility. And I wondered why he did not drop these optional activities and then enjoy his vacation.

And I have been there before. I have felt this pressure, too, to always look busy, to always show in team meetings and in meetings with the boss how much I contributed and how engaged I was.

This attitude can breed unnecessary work. Work which is done just for the sake of doing something because one feels obliged to do so.

I remember when I rode my bike to work, I came across a retirement home every morning. In the windows I saw pretty, colorful handicrafts and thought, “The old people are doing occupational therapy here. They need something to do to keep them busy, and so they are producing pretty things for the decoration of the windows.” I thought that I would not have time for this.

But then a thought hit me. What was I doing at work everyday? A lot of not so necessary stuff. Wasn’t it something like occupational therapy, too? Well, but maybe this is what’s needed for keeping people so busy that they have no time to ponder the big questions of life of ‘What are we? Why are we here? What is the purpose of life?’ Just to keep ourselves busy, running in the hamster wheel, chasing the ever evading carrots of happiness out there.

In the corporate world, it is not ‘cogito, ergo sum’ (I think, therefore I am), but ‘laboro, ergo sum’ (I work, therefore I am). (Of course, even Descartes did not get it completely right because the I AM presence is there even when I do not think , but that is a different topic.)

Communication distorted by fear

Another folly in the corporate world is how things are communicated – or not.

If a status of a project is red, it evokes fear to clearly communicate this to the hierarchies above because of the consquences it might have. And so, out of fear, people can feel tempted turn the red status lights into yellow lights. And sometimes, the yellow lights can be turned into a more greenish color when the status is reported higher up. Until the people at the top are unaware that there have been issues in the hierarchy layers below them.

I also noticed that the communication of unpleasant news works as follows: For example, instead of writing an email with the subject line “We are planning layoffs”, write an email with an introduction with how great the company is and blah, blah. After reading that first paragraph, one third of the employees will have deleted the mail because who has time to read such business emails anyway.

In the second paragraph communicate that you will have to do something unpleasant like layoffs, but rephrase it like “In order to be able to continue to be successful we will make our workforce leaner, reorganize, restructure, and streamline our departments and leverage synergies.” People will read that, yawn, and not understand that it means layoffs.

At the end, conclude again with a statement how fantastic and amazing the company is. This way one can communicate layoffs but without people becoming upset – at least not immediately.

Basically, I became aware of how fear was ever-present and how it would lead to distortions when unpleasant things had to be communicated.

How to get a promotion: the dos and don’ts and the power of letting go

After my frustration about not getting a promotion for my work, a colleague let me in on a secret.
She told me that if people are intelligent and have a good heart, then they do things in a most efficient and cost saving way. Just solving problems fast to everyone’s satisfaction. And let the boss know afterwards that they have solved a problem.

Then they will be promoted – NOT!

Why?

Because they are not visible.

The ‘correct’ approach to a promotion would be to make the boss aware of the issue which needs to be solved, and let it stew. To wait until the boss comes and begs them to solve it.

Then set up a project with ten people. Lead the project. Organize a lot of meetings. Discuss. Have others do the work. Present some nice slides at the rollout. Even though this would burn resources and would much more expensive than the original approach, it will give them visibility to those bosses up in the hierarchy who can decide about their career. They will demonstrate that they are a teamplayer and a leader. And then they might get a promotion.

Okay, that was eye-opening. While I was successful in school and up to my doctorate degree, my approach to work had never fit into the corporate world all along. I had too often solved issues using the fast, efficient, but invisible way.

The weird thing was that I got my promotion after I dropped some of my efforts and handed most of my tasks over to other colleagues, signaling to my boss that I was not willing to play this game with the ever-avading carrot anymore.

Surprisingly about six months later (in 2016), he gave me a promotion.

I am not sure that I would recommend this method of ‘try hard only to fail repeatedly and then let go‘ to everyone, but I noticed that there was definitely something remarkable about the power of letting go.

The spiritual journey and the workplace (part 1/3)

What does working in the corporate world look like after waking up? As usual, this may look different depending on the person. Here, I share how my experience at my day job changed over the years after awakening.

Disengagement – not seeking fulfillment via work anymore

Before my spiritual journey started, I was very engaged at work and passionately digged in to develop a new tool which would help us to avoid overwhelming last-minute stress and to improve the quality of our products.

But when this not only resulted in additional stress for me regarding the maintenance of this tool but also wasn’t appreciated the way I expected it to be appreciated, I became angry and eventually found that I did not want to be as engaged as I once was because every time I tried, I felt anger rising up.

So, I let go not only of the need for appreciation but subsequently also of the need to feel engaged at work, and in turn this helped me to let go of anger about what I perceived as an unfair situation.

Eventually, I found my inner peace and joy inside and found new fulfillment elsewhere, namely in reading metaphysical books, journaling a lot, and sharing my spiritual journey with others. The former driving force of seeking fulfillment in the job, in making a contribution there and in turn getting in a promotion and pay raises, – all of that fell away.

In addition to this story of disengagement at work and shifting my focus elsewhere, there were some other things I have observed.

Not creating problems any more

I had noticed that my need to see myself as a smart person was a creating, generating force, which resulted in attracting problems which were difficult to solve. Once I had seen that connection, I could let go of the need to have this part of my self-image being reinforced. In turn, I did attract fewer and fewer difficult issues.

Mirrors

Occasionally, I noticed that my bad mood would affect my PC. So, I made an extra attempt to come back to inner peace after being upset.

I also realized that other people acted as mirrors. A guy who was particularly annoying in his search for recognition and appreciation dropped out of my field of interaction after I had let go of my own need for appreciation at work.

Work became easier

My work shifted from very stressful to much easier over the past two decades even though I held the same job the entire time. Although there were many factors contributing to that development (e.g. more automation, better documentation, enhancement of my own skills, outsourcing, delegating), I think that a large factor was that I had become disengaged. No more need to prove myself or impress anyone. No more attempts to fix the issues in our processes (other than what was absolutely necessary).

Towards those who were superior in the hierarchy, there was no more fear and people pleasing. No more fear that I might not get the proper pay raise if I was not compliant. No more falling for the bait of the ever evading carrots put in front of my nose in an attempt to keep me motivated. If I did not want to take on a particular task because I felt it was too much to handle, I rejected it fearlessly.

Just to be clear, I still completed my tasks as reliably as possible so that other people down the line who depended on my work wouldn’t have to suffer. And if someone needed help and asked me for my expertise, I would gladly offer help if I felt able to do so. But I didn’t feel the need to put in any more engagement than that. I also tried to remain polite and respectful even towards someone who I felt had lied to me. But I made sure to state my boundaries firmly and fearlessly.

The overall feeling was a bit like being retired in my mind. Detached, disinterested, and not bothered by things about which I would have become upset about before.

Freer and more relaxed

While before, I measured my own success in how much computer coding I had written or how many issues I had solved, afterwards the more important points during the day were the chance encounters with some colleagues in the coffee corner and the interesting conversations that resulted from that ( – that was before the start of the lockdowns due to the Corona pandemic in March 2020 when where we were still in the office regularly).

My mail inbox became emptier than ever before. The sense of overwhelm lessened considerably.
I noticed that I was able to think faster and more efficiently when needed. This might have been due to the lessening of the constant overwhelm with too many tasks.

I was less able to fake interest for things which did not interest me at all. So, I dropped most meetings which did not interest me and which were not absolutely necessary.

I navigated with synchronicities, relying on that I would meet the people I would need to meet in order to solve a problem.

Once I read a story about a poor man and a rich person who was working for the king which was like a parable describing my situation. I haven’t found the original text, so I tell this from memory here:

The rich man saw how the poor man was eating just soup and bread every day. And with well-meaning compassion, he said to the poor man, “If you had learned to be a bit more disciplined, you could have worked for the king and then would have become rich and then you wouldn’t need to eat just soup and bread every day.”

The poor man replied, “If you had learned to be content with soup and bread, you would not need to work under the yoke of the king and then you would be free.”

This story says that it basically comes down to what priorities we have. Mine had shifted a bit to the beggar’s point of view. But fortunately, I do have more to eat than soup and bread even though I don’t work as hard as I used to work.

Interacting with others while on a spiritual journey (part 2/2)

In the previous post, I shared how family , friends, and co-workers reacted to me when I shared my experiences from the spiritual path and my changed belief system. In this post, share how I experienced the interaction with other people who are also on a spiritual path.

Before I started blogging, I was particularly afraid of the reactions of materialists. Would they pooh-pooh my worldview and experiences? Would I have to argue with them, justify and defend my point of view?
But it turned out that even if I shared the link to my blog or the link to NDE stories with them, I would not get any reaction. So, I concluded that I must be somehow invisible to them and this fear that I would have to argue with them did not come true. Instead, an unexpected challenge arose, and that was interacting with other people on a spiritual path.

Travelers on a spiritual path

I met several wonderful and interesting people, not only online but also at work. I learned about other people’s life’s journeys and how they coped with partly tremendously difficult challenges.

I learned about several different spiritual traditions and also about many different forms in which people express what they have experienced and learned on this journey.

Some share books and youtube videos which resonated with them. Others share parables. Some create poems. Others are into photography and share their most amazing and beautiful pictures. A few people dedicate themselves to interviewing others. So, there are webpages, blogs, or youtube channels who interview only enlightened people, or only Near Death Experiencers, or only channelers. Some blog often and basically share their journal entries openly. Others package their story into fiction and create a book from it. And much more. There is such a variety of ways to share and contribute.

I got many new book recommendations for my long reading list. Also, I got plenty of encouragement for my writing and was very grateful for that.

I also learned which parts of my stories do and which do not resonate with others who are also on this path. That was valuable to learn.

But in addition to all the wonderful and enriching effects of meeting others on the spiritual path, there were also some aspects which were a bit irritating.

Lingo

One thing that I needed to get used to was the language. Seems like people in every subculture (Buddhists, psychologists, lightworkers, Christians etc.) have their own language. Which is not a problem per se, of course. It can just be very confusing to suddenly be flooded with a multitude of terms from which the sender assumes that the receiver surely knows what they mean.

It becomes even more confusing when the terms sound like everyday language but mean something completely different. When someone used terms like ‘dharma’ or ‘metta’, I could look them up, but I remember how confused I was when a woman said that her task as a co-leader of a workshop was not to teach anything but to just ‘hold the space’. I had never heard that term before and tried to imagine what that would probably look like when someone opens their arms and grabs space with their hands and simply holds the space. LOL. It also took me a while to find out what people meant when they used the term ‘grounding.’

While I became used to the unscientific and ubiquitous use of the term ‘quantum’ in some lightworker texts, I still cringe when I read texts which state that our bodies are allegedly going ‘from carbon-based to crystalline’ ( – and in addition, some were seriously suggesting that the carbon atoms somehow turn into silicon atoms).

Boxes

I encountered the need of others to put me into a certain box. For example, when I first started blogging here on WordPress, I was greeted with “Welcome and how wonderful to meet a fellow lightworker!” That other person just meant to say a nice ‘Hello’, of course, but at that time, I didn’t even know what the term ‘lightworker’ meant, let alone whether I would belong to that group.

Others had different types of categories into which they wanted to put me. So, I was asked whether I was a pantheist or a panentheist or a theosophist and whatnot. But I was not familiar with any of these categories. I only had some experiences to share about the beneficial effects of inner peace. My reading background was mostly books about personal accounts of other people’s stories of awakening and enlightenment as well as some channeled texts.

I wondered whether they expected me to look up all these new terms of lightworker, indigo, gridworker, pantheist, theosophist and so on in order to be able to answer the question in which box I did belong.

Unsolicited advice from various belief systems

I share my own experiences on this journey. And I share not only the good and blissful stuff, but also the ugly parts just to show what traveling on this path can feel like.

But sharing the more difficult parts has the side effect that compassionate people from all walks of life felt called to help and fix me and so they jumped in and offered unsolicited mental diagnoses and advice. It happened quite a few times that people of various other belief systems tried to offer their point of view to me.

For example, some people of Christian belief sent me emails regarding my blog telling me that my path was dangerous and that I should refrain from it and rather study the videos they suggested which talked about sin, punishment, and hell.

A few people from Eastern spiritual traditions let me know that according to their beliefs spirit guides didn’t exist (and they suggested that I adopt their point of view) and people who heard an inner voice or had an inner vision should just meditate more. And, BTW, signs and synchronicities didn’t exist either in their opinion and so they advised me to stop paying attention to these things. (I want to mention, though, that I have also met people from Eastern spiritual traditions who do pay attention to signs and synchronicities. I have even read about someone who channels a Buddhist spirit guide.)

A psychologist who was also on a spiritual path said that it sounded like multiple personality disorder when I heard an inner voice which told me to do something which I didn’t want to do. In addition to the unsolicited, free mental diagnosis, he was so kind to prescribe a certain kind of prayer which I should do to heal that condition. Even though he meant to be generous and loving, I was pissed off. But then I tried to see his point of view and I could understand that someone who probably had never experienced the inner voice of guidance and in addition had been trained in psychology could easily come to the conclusion that having a discussion with a spirit guide resembled a mental disorder.

In an online forum, another guy wanted to draw me into a battle about my beliefs. He had the opinion (A) that spirit guides do exist, but all of them are either completely deluded or evil and (B) that we should not just agree to disagree, but discuss until someone had won the discussion. He was seriously thinking that this way he could do a huge service to the world, just discuss the wrong beliefs out of everyone.

No, thanks. I kindly but firmly refused to engage into a battle. In retrospect, I thought that this was a lesson about trying to withstand the urge to justify and defend myself.

Dealing with unsolicited advice

What should I do with this? Avoid all the interactions – the pleasant ones as well as the unpleasant ones – , withdraw into cave time again and shut up? Or set boundaries?

Whenever I felt irritated by this onslaught of well-meant, but unsolicited advice and didn’t know how to react to it, I was reminded of the following little story that happened with my one of my sons when he was about one year old and just able to walk. I was in the bathroom, upset and fretting about something. My child saw this. He couldn’t talk yet, but he had enough understanding to know that mommy was upset and feeling some compassion, he looked for a solution.

So, he went to his room and came back and brought me his pacifier, signaling to me, ‘Put this into your mouth. It has helped me to calm down when I feel upset. I am sure it will help you, too, when you feel upset.’

How cute! I couldn’t help but break into laughter.

Now, when adults did this, I found it not nearly as cute as my toddler trying to calm me with his pacifier. But it came from the same line of reasoning that what had helped them would surely help me, too. And therefore, in all their love and compassion, they felt the urge to give me advice.

And sometimes this advice was very useful. But at other times, it came across as “Oh, your path is dangerous. Don’t go there, this is sinful, or else you will suffer in hell.” Or a bit like someone telling me, “Don’t travel too far out in the world because I believe that it is a fact that the Earth is flat and I really want to protect you from falling off the edge of the Earth.”

So, while my fears about negative reactions from materialists did not come true, what did happen was unexpected reactions from fellow travelers on one of the spiritual paths.

Now, some more reflections on reacting to this.

Shadow work

Sometimes others can be mirrors of my blind spots and could be an invitation to do some shadow work. So, I asked myself whether I did that to other people, too, to offer unsolicited advice to them which might not be exactly right up their alley. And, yes, I admitted that I did that, too, sometimes and made a note to self to avoid that in the future. But that did not mean that the influx of unsolicited advice and unsolicited mental diagnoses stopped afterwards.

It says more about them than about me

Later something else happened which made me think. During one time period, three people made comments about what they perceived as character traits of me. Their comments came independently and out of the blue without me asking for their opinions. Two of them said that I have a lack of patience while the third one said that I was way too patient.

I thought that this was a lesson which was meant to show me that people would have an expectation of what is normal or what their baseline is, so to speak. And when I deviated in a certain way from their own baseline, then I was ‘too impatient’ or ‘too patient’ – in their opinion. Or maybe it was that they projected their shadow on me. I couldn’t decide, but I settled for the explanation that some of the reactions which people showed to my writing said more about them than about me.

Setting boundaries

While sometimes I could just ignore the irritating comments of unsolicited advice, at other times, especially when I expected the behavior to happen more frequently coming from the same person, I firmly stated my boundaries with as much kindness and politeness as I was able to muster.

I was aware that it would almost break the other person’s heart if I refused their advice. After all, they came from a place of love and compassion and they only meant well. And in addition to that, they were so darn sure that they were right. So, how dare I refuse their advice which was given in the spirit of love!

But I stated my boundaries anyway. And this turned out to be an important step on my journey.

It did not mean that afterwards everything was all roses with regard to the relationships with these other people. For example, one woman became upset when I said “No, thank you, I don’t feel like going to your spiritual teacher, even though you have already insistently told me many times to sign up for her class.”

But even if the other person was pissed off, I found that it was better to set my boundaries than to withdraw and shut up completely.

In addition to setting boundaries, I have learned not to invest in useless battle over whose viewpoint is right or wrong. After all, when my guides sent me to do this blogging adventure, the mandate was to share my experiences. But they did not say, ‘Go out into the world and proselytize everyone.’

In summary, this was a time of loneliness among family and friends, but also about finding enriching connections to others on a similar path. It was about being encouraged about my writing, but also a time of being challenged. It was about letting go of attachment to praise and also of avoidance of criticism. It was also about learning to resist the need to justify, defend, and prove my point of view.

Interacting with others while on a spiritual journey (part 1/2)

I want to share what kind of reactions other people had to me when I shared my experiences and changed beliefs from my spiritual journey or when I reacted differently to life’s circumstances than I had done before.

So, there was me and there were others.

Me, with my increased need for solitude and quiet time. Me, finding inner peace inside and not so much by rearranging circumstances out there anymore. Me with my several paranormal experiences bursting to share this with someone else on one hand, but the fear of being judged as crazy on the other hand.

And then there were other people. Others who were just family members and who expected me to behave and function as usual. Others who were materialists and who did not believe in this woo stuff. Others who were travelers on the spiritual path, coming from various religions and spiritual traditions, having different languages for the same concepts, some just beginning to wake up and some further advanced and psychically much more gifted than me.

As you can imagine, there was a variety of interactions between others and me going on. Others who had a certain kind of reaction to my behavior or my changed beliefs. And then me having in turn a certain kind of thought and emotional reaction to their reaction.

Family members

When I told a family member about my experiences with anger vs inner peace, burned out light bulbs vs miracles, and that I thought that our thoughts can influence the weather, he stared at me blankly, somewhat clueless what to make of that. Then he said, “And does that mean that you are going to become a Buddhist now?”

I shook my head, wondering how he came to that idea. I figured that in his world there were only Christians of Catholic and Protestant faith. So, anything that did not fit into these categories was probably something more exotic. And probably the most exotic category he could come up with was Buddhism.

What some family members also tended to find irritating was that I could stay in peace and acceptance in situations which they found highly irritating. While for me it felt good to stay in inner peace in certain difficult situations, it felt as if they somehow expected me to get upset, too, because according to their worldview that was the right thing to do.

But there were also some family members who slowly opened up to the idea that we are more than our bodies and that there is life after death.

Old friends

When I tried to share with old friends what I had experienced, they listened politely and found my stories incredible and hard to believe. Some of them then said that they could not relate to it and changed the subject back to topics such as how the kids were doing and how their career was going.

Co-workers

I tried to share only with a few co-workers what I had experienced. Some of them were also on a spiritual path and interested and open to my stories. These encounters were wonderful and enriching for both sides.

In these interactions, it was important to learn when was the right time to share something. Sensing into whether the other person would be open and whether it would be welcomed or was safe to share what I had experienced. This required some intuition and also courage on my side and was not always easy.

But when I mentioned how disengaged I felt after the anger about too little appreciation for my work and that I did not feel like taking on more responsibility at the job, one colleague shook her head and said with a serious tone of voice, “But you have to find something where you can feel engaged. If you cannot find it here, you must change to another department and find it there.” This was certainly well-meant advice and also true – but not in a way my colleague saw it. She simply could not conceive of the idea that it was possible to find fulfillment outside of work.

So, on my spiritual journey, interaction with others was a mixed bag. Sometimes it was enriching, but at other times I felt more lonely than before.

Ego on the spiritual journey (part 2/2): ego backlash or the upper limit problem

In the previous post, I described how ego can sneak in as a wolf in sheep’s clothing and can be difficult to discern. In this post, I mention some noteworthy phenomena which I encountered.

Flip-flopping between perspectives

Often, I found myself flip-flopping back and forth between the ego’s perspective and the perspective of my higher self. One moment, I would be ranting about how awful and unfair things are, and a while later, I would listen to the inner voice that told me to be grateful and see the possible benefits of a disturbing situation. Until I would drop back into the ego’s perspective again. Back and forth over and over again until it settled down into a peaceful attitude eventually.


The ego backlash phenomenon or upper limit problem


I have observed a tendency in myself to keep my emotional thermostat at a certain setting which feels familiar. My normal mode of mind is relatively calm and focused on getting the tasks of the day done, be it work, household chores, or writing weekly blogposts. Occasionally, there is a bit of feeling of overwhelm with my long todo list, a bit of annoyance when things don’t go as planned, and some general grumpiness about why I had to incarnate at all.

Strangely though, when things happened which put me into an elated and enthusiastic mood for a period of time, I would come crashing down with a bout of negative feelings afterwards. And from there, I would move into the calm, focused, and slightly grumpy place again. It was as if I needed to stay in a certain range of emotions for most of the time.

This phenomenon has been termed ‘ego backlash’ or the ‘Upper Limit Problem’, a phrase first termed by Gay Hendricks in his book The Great Leap. (Here is an interview with Gay Hendricks about how he discovered this upper limit problem).

Spiraling forward

As I have mentioned before, the path is not a constant climbing up of the rungs of the emotional ladder from depression to peace and bliss. Rather it feels like back and forth and back and forth. It feels more like a spiraling forward motion.

How to deal with ego

In the spiritual literature, I have come across various suggestions about how to deal with ego.

Some say you have to kill it.

Some say that fighting with ego only makes it stronger. Therefore, our only option would be to ignore it because it cannot survive without attention.

Others say that what works best is some kind of appreciative cooperation. So, if the fearful part which believes in separation acts up with only the best of intentions to keep us comfortable and safe, then we should talk to this part and thank it for its good intention, and then tell it to relax and that we are going to try a different route this time.

Maybe there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Or maybe all of these view points together make up the whole picture (like in the parable with the group of blind men describing an elephant).

My path has been yielding to guidance because of the sheer necessity of it. When I struggled to get over the fear of sharing my story, not yielding would result in clogged things everywhere in the house (and boy are there many things which can be clogged, like drains, coffee machine, shower head) and in my body (breathing issues in my throat). But yielding and sharing, even though it was very uncomfortable to go through the fear, cleared these external issues.

So, other people may have a different approach, but for me, dealing with ego meant constantly coming to this place of submitting to guidance with ‘Okay, Thy will be done’ over and over again – because any resistance would have become too painful. So, it was basically an approach of disregarding the ego’s opinion.

Ego on the spiritual journey (part 1/2): the wolf in sheep’s clothing

The way life actually works is that everything happens in consciousness and that our beliefs and thoughts coupled with emotions are literally creative. So, what shows up in the outside world in our respective bubble of experience is a mirror of what is going on inside of each of us in terms of beliefs, thoughts, and emotions.

Everything is safely held in consciousness. Even after we leave this incarnation we will still be a bubble of consciousness with some content, some experience in it. Real peace can only be found in that which is indestructible which is consciousness. And everything is interconnected via consciousness.

But the ego does not see it this way.

The ego thinks that we are separate. The ego thinks that our thoughts do not have an effect on our surroundings. And the ego thinks that what shows up in the outer world is separate from what is going on inside of us. And not only does it assume that the outer world is separate from what is going on inside of us, but it also assumes that the outer world can be threatening to us.

Now, against the threats the ego wants to have some protection. And therefore, it sets up defenses. At the root is usually fear. And that breeds many branches which show up in a variety of ways.

Ego is the part in me which wants to keep me safe. Really, it has only the best of intentions. It thinks that I am a separate being in world which is full of randomly moving separate objects and people who could endanger me. And it tries its best strategies to cope with that situation.

Ken Wapnick, the famous ACIM teacher, said that the ego is a “maladaptive solution to a non-existent problem”.

The wolf in sheep’s clothing

One important thing to learn on this journey is how to discern when a thought is from the higher self vs when it is from ego. Now ego is easy to discern when it shows up like fear or judgment. But what makes it challenging is that ego can show up as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Ego can show up as over-responsibility which at first glance feels like it comes from love, but underneath that could be looking for an acceptable excuse for not going forward with life in more alignment to the soul.

Ego can show up as an overly controlling and coercing behavior, for example, on children which at first glance looks like parental love. But what it really might be is fear that if the children do not conform to society’s expectations, they will end up poor and will not be able to sustain themselves later.

Ego can show up as procrastination or as confusion. When I know I have to sit down and write the next blogpost, but writing takes a bit of effort and feels uncomfortable, and suddenly I feel the inexplicable, strong urge to tidy up my living room instead of writing – that bout of procrastinational cleaning urge is from ego. It is just masked as something acceptable. Sure, the cleaning and tidying up might be necessary because my mother in law is about to visit us and then it should be clean, right? Aah, it is hard to spot ego and even harder to discuss with it.

I didn’t mean to imply that any sign of responsible, parentally caring, house-cleaning behavior is caused by ego. But it could be.

It is important to look not so much at what is done but why it is done. What is the real underlying motivation? Do I clean my house because I like my MIL and want her to have a good experience when she visits us? Or do I do it because I am afraid that she might judge us if the house is dirty? Or do I clean the house because I need an excuse for not sitting down and writing another blogpost? Because even though cleaning the house is no fun, writing a blogpost about ego is even less fun, and therefore cleaning the house would be the easier choice at the moment.

The same investigation of the underlying motivation can be done for any other choice, of course. When someone does excessive physical exercise, for example, is that because they do it because they just love the act of exercising? Or is it because they want to be very slim and muscular? Is being in very good physical shape important to their self-image? I remember that Adyashanti shared that being able to ride his bike very fast was part of his self-image. And how life weaned him from keeping up this self-image by repeated mysterious sicknesses which caused him to be unable to train as hard as before.

So, it comes down to the underlying motivation for things, and discernment and remaining vigilant is important on this journey.