- Am I stuck in a downward spiral of spiritual frustration as I
think more and more about unanswered questions and spiritual dilemnas?
The sea of frustration leads to nowhere but exhaustion. Instead,
stop. Practice the classic relaxation technique: paying attention to
one's breathing (use meditative breathing techniques) and focussing
(softly) just above the horizon "jump starts" the mind out of
- Am I feeling sorry for myself as the victim of unfair and
obnoxious actions by others (or perhaps a victim of circumstance)? As
below, I must recognize evil for what it is --- but I need to remember
that self-pity does not do the right thing. Remember, "Self-pity is
bad for me" --- or better yet, "I don't need self-pity." Self-pity
is a downward spiral; I need to climb up and out and into the realm
- The way out of selfishness and into selflessness is not boredom
and martyrdom; it's through becoming genuinely interested in something
or someone else --- even reading fiction is a good first step. (Thank
you, Mr. Lewis.)
- (Very simplified) Hell is made up of those trying to help
themselves only. Heaven is made up of those trying to help others.
Next time I feel really bad or self-pitying, remember that a change of
attitude can convert Hell to Heaven.
- Am I feeling threatened by dire circumstances? Is something
threatening to become so horribly dark and terrible that ... that who
knows what? Remember, God and I together can handle it --- or
whatever. And haven't I already withstood a *lot* of crap in my
- Am I filled with fear about something I can't do much about at
the moment? A name-able threat and fear? Well, not only can God and
I together handle it, but I should not forget to seek to see, and
trust, and love, God --- especially at this time when I most need it,
and least feel like doing it! God isn't the one threatening
with fear. God is the one offering the long-term, long-run hope!
- Am I surrounded by malicious people, hypocrites, and selfish
power-mongers? I must stop cursing them; bless them instead. Wish
for them good --- but don't bend to their ways. Try to help the
innocent victims these people mangle and hurt and maim; worry first
for others, not myself. Maintain inner calm as much as possible, and
pray, pray, pray. Have the courage to name evil as what it is --- but
have the compassion to see the hidden light of the soul.
- Am I expecting some sort of reward for what I'm trying to do? I
need to get rid of expectations, whether good or bad. Doing a good
deed may yield negative effects for me; I can't let that stop me. But
I should be aware of the possible bad effects, and prepare for them or
try to make sure they won't happen. And remember a desire for
feedback (so as to know how to improve one's performance) in and of
itself is not bad. Just don't get bummed if you get none, or get
- Am I being dragged down by worries and anxieties? I need to cut
off those things, and drop them like ballast. I can visualize cutting
off the dark chains that are trying to pull me down. What is really
- Am I just plain tired and irritable? Does the thought of doing
more work right now jangle warning nerves? Do I feel like a candle
burning at both ends? Then stop, rest, relax, refresh ... take it
easy! When a motor starts smelling of smoke, only an idiot --- or a
truly desperate person --- keeps it running instead of shutting it off
and letting it cool down.
- Am I trying to get something exciting or sensual: food, drink,
money, a big house, some time spent with a really cute person? Well,
I need to remember moderation, and to remember what is more important
than the physical world.
- Am I being fretful and unsettled? I need to draw in a deep breath,
relax, and remember that "this too shall pass; have patience and do not
despair!" And then I need to ask: Why am I being unsettled? And if it's
not worth concern, then I should remember that I can simply will myself
to be calm and at peace, and do so.
- Is dogma starting to weigh me down? Well, I can read counter-dogma
that refutes the first set of dogma, or I can just let it go entirely.
- Am I generally depressed? I need to be active and pull myself out;
I need to listen to non-depressing music, read non-depressing books, and
go out and actively help other people.
- Am I feeling weak and apathetic and unenergetic? There may be an
energy-drain of some sort, since apathy is a symptom of low spiritual
energy. I need to make sure I get food and sleep; I need to gather
energy by appreciating the true, beautiful, joyous things in life. I
need to envision any dark drains dissipating and detaching. I need to
re-examine my situation and be brutally honest about myself (too many
dark ones seize upon flaws like hypocrisy, and use them to suck all one's
energy away). Pray for the rescue of those that promote spiritual flaws.
- Am I feeling apathetic about Truth, and more tuned into the
material world? There may be a need to step into "the world" and deal
with it; perhaps I need to play a role in something worldly; but if I
cannot turn it off and honestly face God, then I must drop the
ballast, banish the fears, and turn to God and seek to know God, truth
and compassion. Get some eternal perspective on my own problems!
- Am I angry at someone? I need to remember to look at the situation
from that person's point of view. If even that fails, then I need to let
go of the irritation from my end, so that an obnoxious person doesn't wind up
ruining my day or my life.
- Am I exceedingly disappointed in myself, or in something that didn't
happen as it should have? I need to remember to not cultivate expectations
but to cultivate hope instead; I need to remember that even what seems like
wasted effort is not necessarily wasted; I need to remember that the best way
to turn a disappointment into success is to stop feeling wretched and get
back to doing things --- doing them right. No matter how many times I
fail to get something done that I should have, it shouldn't stop me from
trying the next time, if the job is truly worth doing.
- Am I confused beyond words? I need to stop and look at what I'm
doing, and remember that I am the ultimate authority on my own actions. If
I really don't know what to believe any more, I will simply have to formulate
a best-guess plan and act on that. Plan, act, review; make hypotheses and
work from those assumptions, remembering they may be wrong.
- Am I being wishy-washy, unfocused, distracted by fear? I need to
remember that unfocused people are targets for predators of all sorts.
I need to extend Ki and act with determination, confidence,
relaxation, benevolence, and intelligence. A focused, relaxed, benevolent
mind will tend to do the Right Thing, or will tend to recognize the Right
Thing when it happens to come by.
- Am I being selfish? I need to remember that I need to work on learning
true compassion and benevolence and selflessness. "Love thy neighbor as
thou lovest thyself." I need to remember that selfish motives draw
the darker elements, and ultimately lead to destruction. Short-term
self-gratification --- long-term unhappiness.
- Am I being jealous? I need to remember that I don't know the whole
story behind anyone's success; I need to remember that surface success
may have nothing to do with long-term anything. I need to remember that,
in the long run, it probably doesn't matter one iota. I need to remember
how to appreciate another's work, if it is something that is truly good.
Jealousy is not pleasant and is actually fairly pathetic.
- Am I frustrated with another's inability to hear what I'm trying
to convey? I need to know that the other may simply not have reached
the point of comprehending what I'm saying; I need to realize that I
may be wrong, and the other person right. I need to realize I
shouldn't expect everyone to understand or appreciate what I'm trying
to say. I need to realize that maybe it's simply a matter of
rephrasing it. And if all else fails ... Oh well! If I'm right, God
- Am I really in deep, deep kimchi? Then I need to have the
courage to ask for help from those who will truly and sincerely try to
help: friends, family, truly caring spirits.
- Are negative thoughts popping in and disrupting me? Then I need
to practice blocking them out. I need to fill myself with the
positive; I need to focus on the good. I need to remember to say
"God bless you" each time something not good shows up. And
then I need to remember that this process --- of even remembered to do
all this consistently --- takes a lot of time and patience.
- Do I feel utterly alone, forgotten, and ill-used? I need to
reach out to others and seek their help; I need to strengthen my own
independence; I need to imagine reaching, rising up to the realm of
the caring, to feel it, to practically see it --- and then I shall be
there. Read the uplifting, listen to the elevating --- such things
that were born of a connection to God, and which will lead the willing
back up there.
- Do I feel burdened by guilt, failure; do I feel unacceptable, and
Who Cares Anymore, and Why Do I Bother? Well, all right, God likely
won't come swooping down to pick me up and babysit me. I should be
outgrowing that, anyway. But look --- look up, and remember: Light is
above all those wretched notions and feelings of failure and guilt.
How alien and how beautiful that Light can be ... patient and
accepting beyond human understanding. What is the Source of the
alephs (starting from aleph-null) must be truly amazing indeed.
- Do I feel like Death would be a great thing, an opportunity to
escape the sordid affairs of this world? The one way out, to be free,
to be able to seek God? Well, several things to remember: 1. What
better place to practice than in a really tough school? 2. The world
is not all ugly; appreciate the good parts (think of them as free!
gifts! no obligation to buy!), and try to contribute to making things
better. 3. Death will come eventually to everyone anyway. It's a
guaranteed deal; no sense in rushing it. 4. Choosing death because
one is too lazy to deal with life isn't exactly the best way to enter
the next stage; in fact, it's one of the worst. It's likely very much
not worth rushing. 5. Hey, being alive means opportunities;
why waste them?
- Am I totally and utterly disgusted with (not just myself, but)
the people around me, disgusted at all the stupid petty idiotic things
and all the vast and horrific and revolting things they do? Is my
patience worn thin by cruelty and ignorance and suffering and pain?
Do I wonder where the heck God is in all these mindless or heartless
or just plain painful events? Am I to the point of completely losing
my temper at all the stupidity, at the sheer wrongness of the
world? No, I don't know what the solution to this one is yet. I'm
working on it. Any suggestions beyond "More patience!" are welcome.
"Love them" is the answer that finally came....
- Am I angry at people in general, and so ticked off that
spirituality seems unappetizing? Does destruction, retaliation, and
generally expressing discontent sound best ("screw the patience and
joy stuff" "who cares")? Don't go there. Limit the effects;
if I must be depressed, at least try to keep it in check. Pray! Make
the *choice* to listen to something not depressing. Recall that
at the root of this anger is sadness, and the cure for sadness is....
- And in my utter disgust and disappointment at the nature of the
world, am I starting to lose all hope and all faith and all belief?
Maybe I need to reread this. And then I
need to review all the other pieces of this checklist, and see where
the frustration is coming from, and work at that.
- Tool phrases. "I don't need self-pity." "I don't need to show
off." "I don't need to be a martyr." "Don't mind what others think
--- it's what God thinks that's important." "God and I can handle
whatever comes." "I don't need that connection." And not least: "God
- Then I need to stop remembering all this stuff, and actually set out
to do it. Rise....