Sunday, January 29, 2017

For or Against

Our family attended the women's rights march in Asheville recently. There were thousands of people from all walks of life there, and it was moving to see so many standing together for a common cause(s). As I stood there reading all of the signs, the idea occurred to me to write about being "for" something or "against" something. I'm for all of the rights these people were marching for, but I'm not against the establishment that poses a threat to those. If you are against another group of people, you become like those who are against your group. You now have something in common -- you're both "againsters." It's quite possible to be for something and take action to support what you're for, without being against anything. You can fight negativity with negativity, but it's a never ending battle without winners, only victims.

There's the old saying, "What you resist persists." It may sound quaint, but it’s true. These things that bother us continue to nag at us until they are dealt with, not just externally but internally. What’s bothering you isn’t out there. It’s what’s in you. You’re projecting it out on the world. In that way, you shape the world you live in. If you want to shape it into a better place, then you need to find that better place inside you. You already have it, but it’s hidden under layers of judgment and conditioning. Those are the only obstacles to peace. Without those, peace can come through you into the world and shape it in ways you can never imagine. To be the peace that you already are, be at peace with what’s going on around you. That won’t change until you do.

I love you,

Trey

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Fear of the Future

Fear seems rampant around the world right now. For some it has to do with the impending rule of the new President of the United States. We have heard a great deal about how wrong things could go under Trump, and a lot of it’s easily believable based on the past. However, this is a prime example of how we create fear in our lives -- We imagine a future. We like predictability and are programmed to use our memory to project a future to help put us at ease (or freak us out). Let’s face it, the future we envision today is not likely to be the reality of the moment when it becomes now. Consequently, when you’re living in fear, you’re believing in an unlikely (more like impossible) future. Seems like a waste of energy, doesn’t it?

Ponder this: What if none of the ideas we have about the future will ever be true? What if we are always going to be wrong? What if no matter how much we think and analyze things, we can’t possibly be right? Ever? Would that be scary? Or would you simply stop trying to know the future? If so, a great deal of our incessant mental noise and worry could finally go away, leaving us more time to focus on what’s real, now.

What’s that you say? “How can we be prepared for what the future may hold if we don’t think about what might happen?” I can see the mind justifying its need to predict and analyze. “I’m here to protect you from bad things,” it says. “Without me, you would be lost.” But is that really true? We can only guess what would have happened in the past if we hadn’t relied on the mind’s attempts to know the future. So we can only guess what might happen in the future if we don’t rely on our mind. Can we open our minds to see what good may come? A lack of trust in the unknown keeps us stuck worrying about a non-existent future. As Eckhart Tolle says, “You can never cope with the future. But you can always cope with the Now.”

What’s the worst that could happen if we threw ideas of the future out the window? When you start to answer that question with the mind, you have re-entered an imaginary future world. Let’s pick one negative thing that seems likely to happen with Trump as President. Take your belief in that possible future, and embrace it, then let it go for a moment. See what it feels like to drop that belief. For me, a space of lightness opens up that was previously concealed by worry. A sense of trust and confidence emerge. This trust does not make us vulnerable. It makes us invincible! Don’t let your mind trick you into believing otherwise. Your thoughts are well meaning. They attempt to protect us from uncertainty, but since everything about the future is uncertain, we get stuck in protective mode. Can you accept uncertainty in your life? Can you hold the knowing that you can handle anything life throws at you, whether you saw it coming or not?

The key to peace isn’t knowing what the future holds, it’s knowing what the present moment holds. When you know this moment fully, you become one with the organic flow of Life. Allow it to carry on the way it does. It will happen however it wants to happen, regardless of your best efforts. Take the effortless way to freedom. Stop believing the hype. Speculation is all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and frustration and worry are painful emotions. So, stop hurting yourself! No future = No fear. Living fearlessly is how real positive change comes about in this world. Be the peace you want to see and see what happens.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Trey's Interview with Jeannie Zandi

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Jeannie Zandi recently (www.jeanniezandi.com). She is a great spiritual teacher that I first met back in 2007. In fact, she was the first teacher I had the opportunity to sit with in satsang (I basically lost my satsang virginity to her ;). It was a very powerful and transformative experience which I wrote about in my post “Tears of Joy” (http://compassion-blog.blogspot.com/2007/12/tears-of-joy.html).

Jeannie emanates heartfelt compassion and love, which she brings to the interview I did with her. It was actually like the two of us sitting together in satsang, rather than an interview. Instead of asking her a bunch of questions, I put forth some issues I have been grappling with recently (feelings of being overwhelmed, inadequate, etc.), and she dove in so we could explore those together. My guess is that many people could benefit from listening to our talk.

InJoy,


Trey

PS - Due to video glitches I have posted the audio version of our interview here.



Sunday, December 04, 2016

Divided We Fall

I divorced myself from politics back in 2004 after suffering a grand mal seizure. It happened right after I learned that John Kerry had conceded the election to George Bush, before all of the votes had been counted. I wasn’t a Kerry supporter at the time, but I was a Bush hater. When I went to tell my wife the upsetting news, I fell down and had a seizure. I woke up in the ambulance on the way to the ER. I was later diagnosed with epilepsy, but it was a wake up call that changed my life forever. And I am thankful for it because it’s what started my search for the purpose of Life. I later found it and am continuing to see the purpose unfold all around. I know it’s all necessary. I know everything is a prerequisite for the discovery of purpose. It has to be this way. So what do you do if you don’t like it this way and it can be no other way? That’s how it started for me.


Having said that, I am also among the majority of Americans who are surprised and disappointed in the recent Presidential election. I, like many, didn’t think Donald Trump had a chance. Afterall, he’s a bully with a negative attitude toward a lot of people. He’s very judgmental and prone to make irrational decisions. There, I said it. I cast my first stone. It’s time for me to do The Work :)


I digress, however. The outcome has illustrated just how divided we are as a nation. There are a lot of people celebrating the victory in the form of hate speech toward minorities. I am surprised that roughly half of those who voted are okay with someone like Trump behind the wheel. But, my disappointment transitioned into peace with forgiveness. This is not a forgiveness that comes from a place of superiority, as in those people are wrong and I forgive them. Instead it’s identifying with them. Once you forgive, you can begin to relate to others as human beings again.


As an example, I ended up in the voting booth right next to my previous neighbors. It’s a long story that ended with us moving to get away from them. I know they are blue collar republicans and I thought about why they were voting the way they were.After all, my political mind thinks that poor people are voting against their best interest by towing the party line. Anyway, it dawned on me that it’s because they have no choice. They were exposed to certain things in their past that shaped their way of thinking. The same is true of me. Beliefs are handed down from generation to generation, like folklore. I then felt a sense of compassion toward them as I filled out my ballot. I can only be this way and they can only be that way. We didn’t get to choose--until we realize we have a choice.


The chaos that has transpired since the election has all been part of the unconscious belief that I’m right. How could we think otherwise?  But it has put a magnifying glass on the divisiveness we have within and without. Even though I don’t believe Trump would make a good President, I think he will make a necessary one. From my perspective, he represents part of the acceleration of human unconsciousness. There is a wave of consciousness rolling through this world, and it has a lot of people concerned. Word is spreading like the fires we’ve seen here in the mountains. The word is, “Yes, you can encounter peace in a world gone mad. Yes, you have the power to bring good into this world, even when it seems to be falling apart. You can rid yourself of compulsive thinking and negativity. You can accept what is.” It usually takes something traumatic to get you to look for what’s true. This election will be the trauma that many people need in order to start focusing on the only thing that can be changed--your perspective. You change that and you change the world. You change that and you become the world.


Keep the peace, inside and out. Take time to stop and just be present. Follow your breath as you enjoy the air around you. Look at the sky. Pay attention to your sense of Being. All of the negativity is just mind stuff that covers up the truth of who we are. It’s time to wake up now. I invite you to please make waking up your prime focus this coming year. Learn to make peace with the present moment, even if it contains apparent adversity. You can do anything when you do it from the space of peace.


InJoy,

Trey


Divided We Fall part 2

The thing I love about making an opinion public is the critical responses. I need those to remind we where I'm stuck in ego (or just pretending to be). I pay attention when the feelings of defensiveness arise and start looking at the truth -- it's all just a story and no two people have the same one. Diversity is what makes life so rich, but it's important not to forget that diversity is ultimately an illusion of mind. I received the following comment in response to this blog post:

"​I see Donald Trump the total opposite of you.  Much of what you are reading is fake news in what is considered mainstream media.  Most of the hate crimes reported were hoaxes and many were perpetrated by leftist trying to besmirch the reputation of others.

I see so much light around Trump.  He is a blessing. Most liberals I know project all of their negative traits onto others....they lack self awareness.  Such vast generalizations you are making and such a condescending attitude.  Keep an open mind....it does wonders."

Here was my response:

Our opinions are shaped by the information we receive. I probably have only been exposed to one side of Trump. But when I heard him say that he wanted to hit another politician for saying bad things about him, I became concerned about someone with that attitude running the country. I was a bit surprised at the number of women who forgave his sexual misgivings (for lack of a better word).

It doesn't matter to me who's running the country. I have full trust in the Universe to do what's best. The end goal is to see light around everyone, not just Trump. He's my teacher. Teaching me how to be open to a so-called opposition. If I were to sit down and really do The Work, I would quickly see how he is just a projection of my own mind (but what fun would that be? ;).

I had to share my opinions in my post, despite the fact that I know opinions are at the root of separation, to illustrate how I overcame them. My comments allowed me to identify with the people I'm surrounded by and allow them to see the problems with holding onto their opinions too tightly.

I understand why so many people voted for him. They are tired of seeing politicians, especially career politicians, running things, and they think that someone who is more business minded would do a better job. Hilary was an unpopular option for a lot of people. I was really pulling for Bernie, but it really doesn't matter who's in office. They aren't really running the show. They are just part of it.

Much love,

Trey

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My New Job

A change in my employment status led me to a job that I never really thought of. How I got there is a long, and somewhat messy tale with its own set of life lessons that I may talk in more depth about at a later date. For now, the life lessons are bountiful from my current situation.

I am working as a brand ambassador/event specialist for Advantage Solutions*, which is a national marketing company that partners with Walmart stores to promote certain products in their stores. My job is to go into Walmart stores in the area and set up tasting events. So far I have served up samples of all sorts of things (i.e. yogurt, crackers, ice cream, pasta salad, fruit, sausage, cheese, wine, beer, etc.) It has been immensely enlightening, and I have just been itching to share ;)

When I first applied for the job a few months ago, the job description wasn’t very clear. After I was given the job, I realized I would be giving out samples in Walmart stores. It didn’t sound very appealing at that point, but we needed the money and it was a sure thing. Getting a “real job” opened up some underlying feelings of insecurity. I have been my own boss for most of my adult life and haven’t had to punch a clock since I was in college. It was very exciting!

The job also brought up all of those negative judgments I have had toward Walmart for ages. I never really shop there. In fact, I spent more time in Walmart on my first day of the job than in my whole life. There I was, working as an apparent employee of Walmart. At first I became aware of feelings of failure governed by a mental story and fear of judgment. What would “they” think of me? “Successful Small Business Owner Resorts to Working at Walmart,” would be the ego’s headline :)

Fortunately, I was aware of these stories playing out and could watch them without buying into them. I was able to welcome those negative judgments head on. I became open to the situation, viewing it without a negative overlay. Without some level of awareness, I can see how that story could easily spin someone into a state of depression. But the more I accepted my moment to moment situation, the more at ease I felt. Therein lies liberation -- Accepting without judgments.

It helps a great deal that I have a half hour drive to work. Driving is something that allows me to become more fully present. I also get to listen to Eckhart Tolle audio, which never gets old. In fact, they just get newer. I’m listening to the same audiobooks over and over again (Stillness Speaks and Practicing the Power of Now) and I just get clearer and clearer. His words have been instrumental in helping me adjust to this new life situation.

Basically, this job took me way out of my comfort zone. I’ve been an introvert since I was a kid. I don’t consider myself shy, as such, but I have never been very outgoing. This job requires me to be outgoing, which has been wonderful in so many ways. First, I learned that stepping out of my comfort zone, actually gives my feet a work out. I haven’t really needed to be on my feet for 6 hours a day before, so my feet hurt quite a bit when I first started the job. However, I noticed something interesting once I started paying conscious attention to my feet. When I engaged with people, such asking them if they would like a sample, the muscles in different parts of my feet got tight. I don’t know much about it, but I know reflexology works with different parts of the foot that connect with other bodily symptoms. What I determined was that the flight or flight instinct, typically brought about by fearful situations, was triggered on a subtle level when I struck up conversation with other people. To me this was a clear example of how the residue of fear was manifesting in a physical way so that it could be recognized and released. Had it not been for foot pain, I may not have recognized that fear was there, running silently in the background. (I did get some padded insoles, by the way, which helped quite a bit).

One of the other great things about my job is that I get to people watch all day. Walmart is such a melting pot of people. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, nationalities and personalities. I have seen a number of people with various forms of mental and physical disabilities, which I don’t normally see in my daily life (I lead a sheltered life). There seems to be so much acceptance of people, especially from some of the Walmart greeters. The Walmart greeter at one store seems to know most of the customers. She hugs most of the people with disabilities that come through the door, and likes to kiss every baby on the head (not sure how some of the Moms feel about it though).

It’s been a real eye opener to watch people like this, but it’s been more eye opening to watch myself. I get to notice my own judgments about others as they surface. Notice, accept and release seems to be the practice, and it has become second nature. It’s easy for the mind to spin stories about people based on how they look, what they buy and how they act, but it’s easier (and better) not to. When we stop looking at others judgmentally, they automatically become better people because we are the ones who made them look less than perfect in the first place.

As life continues to give me the experiences I need to wake up to what’s true vs. what’s just a story built on judgments, I am able to relax more. Now I am actually enjoying reaching out to people and greeting them. I’m inviting them with a smile to sample whatever I have in front of me. The ones who aren’t interested almost always smile and say, “No thank you.” It’s amazing! Regardless of who it is (punks, thugs, hippies, yuppies, rastas, rednecks, old folks, kids, even New Yorkers), they all have such good manners. (BTW those terms are not meant to be derogatory in any way. They are terms those people would probably ascribe themselves.) The interesting thing is, 99% of them smile when they say no. It’s like we were all raised with such good manners that it’s an automatic response. I see parents passing on good manners to their children after they have a sample, encouraging them to say thank you. Even people who are very serious looking, with a scowl on their face, pause long enough to say, “No thank you.” It’s like I can get a smile out of almost everybody by a simple gesture :)

So now, I realize that my new job is to make people smile. Now I’m not shy about asking anyone to try a sample because it’s fun to make people smile, and I’m getting paid to do it. Smile and the whole world smiles with you :)

InJoy,

Trey

PS

If you’re interested, the company I’m working for is hiring. Email me if you want to learn more - treycarland@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Essay on Science and Spirituality

I hope you are doing well and enjoying the Summer. The moon is looking beautifully full (almost) and the katydids are loving life by the sounds of it. I love this time of year and especially the warm Summer nights. 

Anyway, it's been a while since I sent out an email update. I've been very busy and going through a very challenging and transitional period in my life lately. I have been working two jobs, and ended up in a situation that puts me well outside of my comfort zone. As a result, I have a lot of insights to share. I just haven't had a chance to write them up yet.

However, I did have the opportunity to write the following essay. Since there was a cash prize involved it gave me some added incentive to let some ideas fly. It was nice to get some gratitude expressed in writing after a bit of a dry spell. It was challenging to keep it short enough to meet their guidelines. I could have written much more on the subject, and may well elaborate some day. But I felt like it was something worth sharing in its current form. 

I did not get selected for the prize, which is fine with me. I enjoyed the exercise. I think they were actually aiming more for the link with "religion" instead of "spirituality" so my essay didn't quite fit what they were looking for. Anyway, here is the submission, complete with biographical stuff.

In-Joy,

Trey

- Please submit a brief letter explaining your interests in using narrative nonfiction to explore harmonies between science and religion (1750 character maximum - approximately 350 words).

LETTER OF INTEREST

After I was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2004, at age 30, I was catapulted head first into a search for truth and meaning. It was as if I had no choice but to find the answers to all of life’s big questions. I started reading books about different religions, mysticism, metaphysics, shamanism, as well as various types of energetic healing modalities. I didn’t stop there, however. I was simultaneously reading books on various fields of science, such as neuroscience, biology, cosmology, kinesiology, physics, psychology and anthropology - just to name a few. I was reading at least 10 books at any given time, and read more books during a two year period than I had read in my entire life. I was looking to see where spirituality and science intersected. My analytical mind had been challenged by a deeply spiritual experience brought about by seizures. My search eventually led me to the idea of enlightenment and I felt like I had finally found what I was looking for. The experiences I had encountered, which were later labeled partial complex seizures, were very much like spiritual awakenings that I was reading about. I narrowed my focus at that point and began reading books and studying with many of the well known teachers in non-duality. Around this time I began writing about my realizations and started sharing my discoveries with the world through my blog and an email list I had of my friends, family and acquaintances. My blogs eventually became a book in late 2012, entitled “A Seeker’s Guide to Inner Peace: Notes to Self.” It was actually like the book wrote itself through me and for me, though everyone who has read it has enjoyed it as much as me. I have continued to write and feel as though it is my calling. These discoveries have to be shared with the world and I am happy to be a conduit for that to happen.


STORY SYNOPSIS

- Please submit a synopsis of the story you would like to develop and tell why you think it is an important story to write, especially for general audiences (2500 character maximum - approximately 500 words).

Wherever you look you see nature and science. For example, if you are driving down the road and you look around, what do you see? Cars, signs, power poles, electrical lines, lights, buildings, bridges, glass, asphalt, guard rails, etc. What do all of these things have in common? All of them come from the Earth and all of them took science to create. We are mining metals of all types to make car parts, steel beams, wires and more. We are converting rocks and sand into structures that could not have existed a few hundred years ago. We are able to turn fossil fuels into a wide variety of plastics, as well as create energy. All of this required scientific exploration to achieve. Wise men and women spent their lives figuring out new ways to manifest things using the natural resources we have been given. The main goal has primarily been to make life better for people.

I’m always amazed at what hard work and modern engineering can accomplish. All you have to do is look around with a sense of curiosity to discover things that took years to become possible. Look at a piece of fabric. Creating that used to take countless hours by hand and is now mass produced from a plant grown by farmers. Imagine how much cotton it takes to make all of the blankets sold at your local retailer, then consider how many retailers there are just like that in your town, your state, this country, the world.

Look at a new bridge being built. Imagine how much concrete and steel it takes to create that structure. Imagine how many tons of metal has to be extracted from the ground and melted in order to form those beams. Let’s not forget how much science goes into forming just the right size, shape and consistency to determine the right amount of support needed for any given application. Consider the ingenuity involved to precisely position an enormous structure and the hundreds of manhours needed to create just one bridge abutment. I could go on and on about the various ways in which science has improved our daily lives and how we overlook it, but I must leave some space for where spirituality fits in.

Science is represented in the world of manifestation, while spirituality is found in the unmanifested realm. Before thought is born, there is only the sense of “I am.” Without thought there is only presence. Consciousness itself. That space of conscious awareness is what we truly are. We are not our names, we are not our stories, we are not what we have been told all of our lives. We are the awareness that allows us to enjoy this world of form. Our purpose is to recognize our true nature, and that recognition makes it possible to truly appreciate what we have been given.


BIOGRAPHY

- Please submit a short biographical sketch (1500 character maximum - approximately 300 words).

I was born in Asheville, NC, the son of two academic-minded business professors. Creativity was encouraged, but I was taught that higher education and analytical thinking is what would lead to success in life. I followed suit and earned three master’s degrees in the field of business. Eventually my interest in business was replaced by an interest in spirituality, thanks to my diagnosis with epilepsy in 2004. It was a life shaking event (no pun intended), but one that had a profoundly positive effect on my life. It made me realize that what’s truly important transcends what the analytical mind has to offer. I came to understand that Self-realization is what leads to the sense of peace that makes all thing possible.

I continued to have occasional seizures, both partial and grand mal, for about four years, but they deepened my curiosity in the unknown. My exploration of the unknown led to me become a writer. After a few years of blogging about spirituality, I wrote a book on the subject I had become so passionate about - A Seeker’s Guide to Inner Peace. Since the publication of that book I have continued to write and deepen my experiential understanding of Life. I now host regular satsangs (truth gatherings) and have created an online community devoted to non-duality - Asheville Sangha. I am now focused on the integration of these teachings into the often times stressful life most of us lead.

My wife and I currently live on the outskirts of Asheville in Candler, NC, with our four year old daughter.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Where is This Thing Going?

Like most people, I find myself caught in repetitive thinking from time to time. It’s usually about something that I need to do in the future, and can be rather bothersome. For example, when I’m laying in bed thinking about something I think I need to do in the future. Obviously there are times when you may need to think ahead or plan, but we tend to get stuck in overthinking things that are really of no importance in the grand scheme of things. It may be helpful to ask yourself, “Can anything be done about this situation now?” If not, why waste time thinking about it?

In my experience very little thinking is actually necessary to make things happen. We do things all day long without thinking about them. But we have a tendency to dwell on certain things instead of just doing them or letting them go. So, let’s explore what happens when we stop thinking about doing things and let things happen.

The next time you have time where you don’t need to be anywhere in particular, just stand in the middle of the room and wait to see what happens. Whatever the body decides to do, go with it. Let the mind follow instead of lead. It may be that you just stand there waiting for something to happen for a few minutes, but eventually there will be movement. It may begin by just turning your head to look at something. As you observe, ask yourself, “I wonder what it’s* going to look at next?” Then wait and watch. Movement will happen eventually. When it does, allow that sense of curiosity to return. “Now what’s it* going to do?” Notice how your mind doesn't need to be in control for action to occur.

Spend some time with this and you can build more trust in just allowing. Use it the next time you go to the store. “I wonder which aisle it’s going to go down?” “I wonder what it will pick up next?” Wonder is the optimum word here. Just wonder at how Life does what it needs to do without you needing to think about it. “I wonder what it* will think of next?” is another interesting thing to ask. You never know, nor can you control, what thought is going to pop in your head next. But there is value in watching the mind just like you watch the body in this way of wonder.

In this exercise you are engaged in active and attentive waiting. This creates stillness even when there is movement and directs your attention to the present moment.The deeper you go into the present moment, the deeper the sense of wonder gets. You can then connect with the mystical impulse of Life that makes things happen. That impulse is ever present but can only be appreciated when thought isn’t covering it up. You can uncover it by letting Life move you instead of you trying to move it. Where is this thing going? We can’t know until we’re here.

* By the way, referring to the body/mind as an IT is a good way to create some space around who you think you are so you can pay more attention to what you really are -- Life itself.