Origin Story: A Healthy Heart Will Not Hold Jealousy
This book has an origin based in Love.
In the midst of taking a break from a romantic relationship with a partner whom I loved, I found out rather abruptly that she planned to be with someone else. I was bewildered by this news; I had figured that we would get back together eventually. Now I pondered what this change of events meant for my life. Was this a simple case of “you-snooze-you-lose” in love, or was there a bigger picture— some other lesson I needed to learn?
For many years, I had been able to tune in quite easily to my Intuition at such times for insight and guidance. I scanned my mind and Body while gently requesting insight and meaning for the situation at hand. Pay attention to what is missing was the message from my inner wisdom.
What was not present at that moment? Intrigued, I engaged my Intuition further.
What I felt at first was a strong Love for my now ex-partner. She had been part of my life for over seven years. I felt an admiration for her work as a midwife— a “Baby-Catcher,” as she called it. She brought babies─ and joy─ into the world in a natural way.
Then the answer to the question made itself known. While I still felt deep love for her, I felt no jealousy whatsoever over what had happened (even though she would soon leave for Italy with another man). While I had never been a jealous person in the past, this was slightly different. Jealousy would be a natural response for anyone, yet it was glaringly and conspicuously absent in me. I was lucky enough to experience Love completely void of jealousy draped in a peaceful veil of total Acceptance in that moment. It felt awesome and bewildering. There was a purity, Joy and sense of liberation in it. Where at least a touch of jealousy should have been present towards this other man or the situation in general, I instead felt only peace and Love towards my ex-partner.
Still in Intuitive mode, I sought more information about what this experience was all about. I received what I thought to be an interesting and curious cognition:
A healthy heart will not hold jealousy. It simply will not affix.
With this cool little phrase in mind, I suddenly saw, in my mind’s eye, an image of molecules. The image reminded me of a scene from a movie that I saw in a high school chemistry class. It was an animation demonstrating how certain molecules may attract or repel each other. What I now saw was the image of molecules not sticking together. The implication was that the fundamental structure of Love and the fundamental l structure of jealously simply cannot join together.
It was an effective and powerful image. I wrote down the phrase and made a mental note about this exciting stream of thoughts and Intuitions for further exploration, knowing that more information would unfold from this starting point.
I soon noticed that I was repeating a certain fairly common phrase as I went about my own life. Varying references of this or that person “being in their element” were coming up in casual conversations, and in other ways as well. In different contexts, these observations implied that the person that was the subject of conversation was really doing what they were born to do; they were “living their Truth” and in, some circumstances, they were also serving others through this Truth.
Soon after, the Intuitions, images and phrases all came together for me. I realized that they were all pieces of a puzzle, begging to be connected. I saw the Love that I had experienced without jealousy as being pure, in the purest sense, and determined that Love in this purest state was as a fundamental spiritual element— just like the classic scientific elements such as Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Iron.
I began to wonder if there might exist other fundamental building blocks that may be core aspects of a person’s spiritual wellbeing. I had survived high school chemistry with the help of a great teacher, and I recalled the classic scientific Periodic Table of Elements from that time. As a person who enjoyed psychology, personal growth and independent spiritual development, I quickly deduced that a Periodic Table of Spiritual Elements would be compelling and serve as valuable tool for growth and transformation for others.
I felt that I was somehow “tagged” to make it happen by a force greater than I. It amuses and intrigues me, in hindsight, that the energy of a traditional midwife was involved in “birthing” this idea into the world.
More Than I Can Chew?
At first, the idea of The Periodic Table of Spiritual Elements was straightforward. Some elements that should be included in the Table were fairly self-evident to me: Love, Gratitude, Truth, Humility and Courage, to name a few. Other potential elements tended to overlap with these elements or each other, and I was concerned about redundancy. Maybe this Table would be more fluid and amorphous than the traditional scientific table. Should Wisdom and Discernment be two separate elements, or is one covered by the other? I automatically knew that the number one element would be Divinity, as placing it front and center reflected my own personal belief that, at our core, each human being is a spark of the Divine.
Should I reflect my personal beliefs in this work? Should I try to accommodate specific religions or simply speak in terms of Universal Truths that may be accepted by many? I also wondered how the whole Table would fit together and be arranged according to some kind of rhyme and reason, like that classic scientific chart did.
At one point, I reached overwhelm. I felt that I had perhaps bit off more than I could chew with the project. I started to have doubts similar to those I speak about in several elements of the book. My biggest doubt came in the form of a question: “Just who do I think I am to be crafting this table and book?”
I realized then that I had to make a few decisions if I wanted to go forward with this work in a productive way and in a manner that might serve others and my own Truth. I needed to get back to my basic method of making those decisions— consulting my Intuition.
After much thought, meditation and consulting of my Intuition, I decided that the purpose of the Table and the corresponding book would be to elicit spiritual inquiry and self-examination of one’s spiritual beliefs so interested persons can explore and define their beliefs for themselves. I wanted people to use the Table for healing and transformation that might lead to spiritual growth on their own terms. I still see the Table as providing a process and structure with which to achieve this.
I knew that I wanted the Table and the book to help readers achieve some sort of spiritual awakening, realizing that the very term “awakening” may represent different things to different people.
For some reason (that I didn’t quite know the origin of at the time), I knew that it was important for people think about these spiritual issues on their own terms. This sort of inquiry had been important in my own life for sure. I had done much personal psychological and spiritual work, and am now comfortable in my own skin and carry myself in the world with a fairly grand feeling of Equanimity most of the time. I am super chill. I live by and trust my Intuition. I Meditate and pray daily. I feel that my spirituality is fully integrated into my life.
Through this book, then, I am sharing a gift of something that was and is important to me. I want other people to have and live by their own strong spiritual beliefs, regardless of what they are. I know that having a solid spiritual belief system can provide Peace and happiness for many.
As a trained clinical therapist who has helped many people in that capacity throughout my life, I know that having a strong spiritual foundation can be a critical element (there goes that word again) to one’s overall psychological health and satisfaction in life. Numerous clinical studies support this concept.
In my training as a secular therapist, we were taught to never proselytize or promote any particular spiritual beliefs with our clients. Rather, we were encouraged to work with individuals within the framework of their own beliefs in addressing whatever problems come forward. I found during my years as a therapist that many people do not have a spiritual belief system that they truly honor and that is fully integrated into their lives. Therapists usually assess for this system immediately with any new client. What we are looking for is any support system at all that might be of service in some way in helping the client solve problems or simply grow as an individual.
Many people only loosely associate with a belief system. People will say they are of a particular faith because their parents were of that faith and perhaps they feel obligated to associate with it, but they don’t practice it personally or relate to the beliefs in any meaningful way themselves. Many will also express disagreements with major policies of their particular belief system. Some may even have heavy resentments, negative associations and anxieties relating to a specific religion for various reasons, including feeling imposed upon by religious authorities or internally conflicted by hypocrisies that they have noticed within the tradition. Others may feel that the religion they grew up with is too ritualistic or rule-based.
I came to enjoy working with clients who had solid spiritual beliefs that were well thought-out and consistent. These individuals chose their spiritual beliefs of their own Freewill and they had fully integrated them into their daily lives (I again include atheists in this mix). I saw that these folks had stronger problem-solving skills at their disposal and lived with less underlying anxiety than those who had not developed their own system of belief. Some of their big picture questions about life were already processed and handled by the strong connection these individuals had to spirit, as they defined it.
I believe that The Periodic Table of Spiritual Elements can be a tool for more people to explore and solidify their beliefs in order to reap these and other benefits.
The Five Umbrella Anxieties
I have come to recognize what I call “The Five Umbrella Anxieties,” which are five broad anxieties that having a solid spiritual belief system can serve to rectify, allowing for greater Peace and happiness in an individual. I call them “Umbrella Anxieties” because if they are not addressed, then they are always hanging over our heads (whether we are conscious of them or not).
Really contemplating these anxieties, which mostly come in the form of questions, might be a downer or slightly overwhelming for some. On the other hand, if we ignore them, they will create a constant undertow of anxiety in our lives. For both the long and the short run, it is best to shine a Light on them as soon as possible. Solid spiritual beliefs will often provide answers to these anxieties in some way.
The five anxieties are:
- Who am I?
- What is life about?
- Must I die? (This can be extrapolated to: Why do bad things happen to good people?)
- What happens when I die?
- The Earth is finite. With expanding human population and dwindling natural resources, how will we survive?
In working with clients without a solid spiritual base, I came to feel that I was engaging in battlefield triage, giving them a temporary fix so they could head right back onto the battlefield which, for them, was the constant day-to-day goings-on of their busy lives. The Five Umbrella Anxieties hung precariously over their heads at all times. These folks were like beach balls, bouncing in the wind, reacting to the latest pressures, feeling constant anxiety and giving way to distractions on an almost moment-to-moment basis.
The people with a solid belief system clearly established in their lives, on the other hand, seemed to be “playing the long game.” They saw the bigger picture and did not get stuck in constant reaction mode to the daily challenges of their lives. When the Umbrella Anxieties were addressed in the context of an individual’s belief system, the realizations that came out of them created a totally different playing field on which to operate. These people gained Acceptance regarding these questions. They were also able to see how these questions played out their own lives. Suddenly, there was room to handle day-to-day troubles. The personal bucket used to contain anxiety was not constantly overflowing. People who had some form of spiritual well from which to draw were far better able to keep “things that happen” in perspective on a day-to-day basis.
Pearls in the Mud
After considering my intentions for writing the book, I next had to decide on what the basic, underlying foundation for presenting the material in the Table should be. Should I be reflecting any particular religion or beliefs? Should I be delineating universal truths discerned from major religions? Should I be preparing it like a reference book, trying to be as objective and scientific as possible?
These questions brought up that other line of questioning, based on self-doubt: Who am I to write this? What are my qualifications? Am I a theologian, spiritual scholar, Zen master or Monk? As mentioned, I am just a regular guy who has stumbled through some personal growth work. I am “chill” in my life and I honor my spiritual life. I also assume that my personal work is an ongoing process and that my work is never done.
I thought about all of these questions and also about the fact that I was still getting the strong Intuition to go on and that Divinity, our own inner Divine nature, had to be the number one element.
I think everyone has this inner Divinity inside of them, every single person. I like the phrase that we are all “pearls in the mud (and our job is to clean off the mud).” Therefore, any Pearl in the Mud, i.e. any one of us including me, is qualified to tap into our Divinity and write about it, if done with Respect, Gratitude and Humility.
They Know Not What They Do
Eventually I came to the conclusion that the Periodic Table of the Elements would reflect my personal understanding of spirituality, which has been loosely based on my own practices of Meditation, yoga and my education and personal experience. Most importantly, it would be based on my own Intuition, that beautiful gift that brought me the idea for the Table in the first place. I knew I would also write this book in a fashion that makes the topics accessible, shaped by the spiritual element of Simplicity.
So, in the interest of full disclosure, I do want to delineate some of the central spiritual assumptions that went into formulating the Table:
- Assumption #1: There is a Divine power. I use the words God, Divinity, the Divine and the Universe interchangeably.
- Assumption #2: There are underlying forces at work that push us towards Communing with God.
- Assumption #3: Some of us are totally oblivious to these forces. The saying “They know not what they do” would apply here.
- Assumption #4: There are many paths to Commune with God that may or may not include being part of an organized religion. There is no one right way to Commune with a higher power (this is explained in the Spiritual Law of Equifinality).
- Assumption #5: There is an awakening process that can occur whereby we find “God.” That process is different for everyone.
- Assumption #6: Awakening is an inward process that can involve an incredible amount of work, including suffering and pain. In the long run, the process of Awakening can and probably will completely change one’s life.
- Assumption #7: Awakening of any sort can’t be forced. The best you can do is to set up an environment conducive to Awakening occurring without trying to control the outcome.
I also note that in formulating the Table and book, I chose a path that more or less focused on positive semantics. By this I mean, for example, that I could have chosen Death, Suffering and Pain as elements to focus on, as these concepts can certainly be part of one’s spiritual development and Awakening process. I did not do this simply because my general inclination is to be positive and Optimistic in celebration of our own Divinity, which transcends states viewed as negative.
Optional Exercise: What Are Your Spiritual Beliefs?
In your own words, write down (in brief bullet point statements, if you want) the essence of your spiritual beliefs. If there are concepts or issues that you feel need further exploration, write them down as well with question marks next to them. Save this document for future reference and/or amendment as you work through the elements in the book. J
Awakening is probably described differently by each person who experiences it. There are also those who, in fact, have not experienced it but think that they have in some way. There is a general feeling in the spiritual community that “Awakened souls” represent a small group. Indeed, the mainstream Christian bible talks about a “narrow gate,” implying that few travel through this gate to achieve an Awakening as described by that text.
The truth is that we have a busy-busy, rush-rush world where many people simply don’t have the time for (or choose not to put the time towards) spiritual work. Many of us are just trying to get through each day. It is understandable that most folks don’t put time into cultivating their spiritual path. Often times, it is only tragedy, grief or loss of some type that triggers a natural inclination to pursue spirituality. When an individual does choose to investigate their own spirituality, however, the payoff is usually tremendous and a life-changer.
In short, Awakening might be said to be a realization and acknowledgment that we are, in fact, living, breathing creatures who are connected to God on an ongoing, 24/7 basis. Awakening is what occurs when we know this on all levels— “from head to toe and everywhere in between.” How we feel when this realization occurs is part of our Awakening as well. I would say that, in general, in order to experience an Awakening, most of us have to shed years of social conditioning as well as many aspects of our persona that have been shaped by external factors. By the time Awakening occurs, we will have likely addressed the emotional wounds that may have been directing our lives in an overt and/or clandestine manner for years.
When we experience Awakening on some scale, we know it by the greater sense of Equanimity we feel after the fact. We most likely will feel more sensitivity towards the needs of others. We might gravitate towards the healing arts or another form of Service. Our Intuition spikes and we tend to declutter and Simplify our lives. We drop various forms of self-medication, and we enjoy Solitude. We need less distraction. We pursue the goal or career path we’ve always wanted to pursue, regardless of obstacles and naysayers. We may feel a sense of being unlimited in so many ways after Awakening. Yet we remain humble. We love the Divine, and we see it everywhere.
You may notice that I don’t use the term Enlightenment in this discussion. This is because I feel that Enlightenment represents the ultimate Awakening and it is something we all receive when we die (it’s the Grand Prize!). I like to think that enlightened masters have existed in our world before, and may now, but I can’t speak to it and I make no claim to it. Quite honestly, I feel like if I were to become Enlightened, I would literally disappear into being a vapor of pure Bliss and not be capable of writing this book.
I choose to focus on Awakening as being on a spectrum accessible to all. I believe that with Awakening, there is an experience for everyone. I feel enlightened beings are the great spiritual teachers of the world and are confined to that role or a life of solitary contemplation. On the other hand, for me, Awakening is about being a Divine, spiritual human who still participates in the practical world.
The Spiritual Law of Equifinality
I mentioned The Law of Equifinality above and want to explain it in a little more detail here. The Law states that there are many paths to Awakening and Communion with God, and that no one path is more righteous than another.
The law does not say that all paths lead to God. One can infer from this caveat that there are false paths that only claim to lead to God. One can also infer that those who imply that their path is the one true and only path are in violation of this very basic law.
On an intimate level among friends, families and neighbors who live spiritual lives, this law can be observed. We all know individuals of different faiths and others who just “do their own thing.” Yet despite these differences, we may still get together to play a game of ball, share stories and Commune over a birthday dinner. There can be a sense of Non-Judgment and quiet respect for each person’s individual beliefs, if not a feeling of genuine happiness over the fact that someone you care for is satisfied on their unique path. We can adhere to our own journey and still understand and be happy that our loved one’s path, although different than ours, is working for them.
On the macro level, things are often not as amiable. Wars are fought over differing spiritual paths. While some spiritual leaders can Commune together as individuals, many may still preach that their path is the one true and only way. Perhaps that’s natural to some degree; after all, it’s normal that when one finds a spiritual realm that they believe in, their passion for it often drives them to share their knowledge of that particular path with those they love. They may become “true believers” in the narrowest sense, and begin to think that there is no other way but their own. This is what I call “creed-centric” thinking.
One might also assume that when someone does find a route to God that they believe in, they may view it as a thing of beauty and feel compelled to share it with others, but not necessarily impose it on others. This imposing kind of behavior would not conflict with The Law of Equifinality
To me, spiritual belief systems and organized religions can be viewed as “recipes” for Awakening or Communing with God. Sages of yesteryear compiled sacred texts and teachings to form the core values of different belief systems. They all spoke of the same endpoint, just different ways to get there. Their teachings may be distorted by time or personal agendas. New approaches also developed over the years as individuals experienced God for themselves and chose to formalize their unique spiritual “recipes,” resulting in new religious systems throughout the centuries.
We each have a taste for a different recipe. Still others may like to shoot from the hip, foregoing the use of a recipe altogether: a dash of this, a pinch of that, and─ wah lah!─ something wonderful is created. On the other hand, sometimes the plate at the next table looks better than what we ordered and that is something we can then investigate for ourselves as well.
Inherent in the Law of Equifinality are at least two almost universal spiritual concepts: Non-Judgment and The Golden Rule. The element Non-Judgment (Nj) stipulates that the judgment of others is the domain of a higher power, not us mere mortals. The Golden Rule is to treat others how you want to be treated. If those whose belief systems include the concepts put forth in The Golden Rule truly practiced them, the Law of Equifinality would be observed automatically and naturally. To the extent that our belief systems do not overtly harm others, no one deserves to have their creed judged “unworthy.” Variations on the Golden Rule, if adhered to, would only serve to emphasize this point.
Universal application and understanding of The Law of Equifinality by all would, of course, lead to Peace among faiths and possibly greater spiritual exploration in general. For those of us who believe and adhere to this law, it is up to us teach this tenet as an overall understanding among all spiritual seekers so that individual Communion and Awakening is unhindered.