A Roadmap to Awakening
I am starting a new project! I have compiled a collection of essays on various situations I have found myself in recent years. Excerpts of these essays have already been published here or on the Travelers website. I am working now on putting all the pieces together into a book. Would you like to get a first look at the book chapters? Then, read ahead.
Every week, I will post a new section. Some of you have told me privately that you like my philosophical writings. Feel free to email me or comment directly here with feedback on the content, organization, and style. Do you like the personal anecdotes better? Would you rather see more practical steps? Or, what Jin Shin Jyutsu flows I practiced? I welcome your thoughts.
Don’t bother with typos and punctuation yet! There is no point in correcting those until the final draft is complete.
In his book, Astrology for the Millions, Grant Lewi, a one-time Professor of English at Dartmouth, and an astrologer extraordinaire, claimed that when Saturn traversed the first three houses of the natal chart, a person lived through a period of obscurity. Do not expect worldly recognition, he counseled, but work on yourself. Consequently, it is the best time to set up intentions, goals, and plans to work on mental planes.
Knowing this helped me navigate the eight years when Saturn swept through what constituted my own “obscure” sector in the sky. Once I let go of the idea that I would receive any recognition in the outside world, I was free to focus on my family and spiritual growth. I still worked diligently at the college, teaching Physics, advising students, and mentoring junior colleagues, but I stopped expecting recognition that never came.
In 2014, despite Grant Lewi’s warning and with Saturn in the middle of my “obscure” period, I submitted a proposal for the highly competitive and coveted President’s Sabbatical Award at the college. The award came in the form of a scholarship equal to half my yearly salary and allowed me to take time off from all teaching and administrative duties. In short, I was paid for a whole semester to explore whatever I wished without working to pay the bills. Only three faculty received it every year, and I was one of them. I was ecstatic but at the same time puzzled. Perhaps astrology was wrong, and one could get recognition anytime in life regardless of where Saturn was in the sky.
The Universe had a completely different intention, however. Not only did I not receive the recognition I thought I was due, but at one division meeting, my dean even forgot about me. It was the end of the semester, and he was listing all our faculty’s awards, rewards, and achievements. Except, my name was not on his list despite my sabbatical award. I would have been upset and angry if I had not read Grant Lewi’s advice. As it was, the situation finally tipped into absurdity for me. Instead of getting mad, I had to pause and ask myself, “what was going on?”
It turned out that receiving the sabbatical award was more about my spiritual development and less about recognition in the outside world. At about the time of the award, by a stroke of synchronicity, I had come across a spiritual book called A Course in Miracles. The book’s non-dualistic system and its principles were not new to me. By then, I had studied the sacred texts of the East, the occult works of the West, and the modern teachings of the Twenty Century but had never really found a system attractive enough to put it into sustained practice. My head was full of spirituality, of which I put nothing into practice.
There was always something out of my control that prevented me from practicing. I could not travel. I had bills to pay, family to raise, and responsibilities to meet. At times, I felt frustrated – who could afford to go off to the Himalayas on a spiritual journey? Who could find the time and money for a month-long silent retreat somewhere in the backwoods?
And then, A Course in Miracles entered my life. Here was a book, the epitome of the non-dualistic tradition, presented in modern English for modern people. It deftly took away all my excuses for not working on my spiritual growth. You did not have to travel to India or Tibet. Check. You did not have to join an organization or go to a retreat. Check. You did not have to register for classes, pay for services, or listen to gurus. You did not even need dedicated time of the day for your practice. I could practice its principles in the middle of my busy life while cooking, cleaning, caring for my children, and dealing with coworkers and students. “All things were lessons that God would have me learn,” the book promptly taught me.
I had run out of excuses for avoiding my spiritual path. My husband joked once that I did not have to go to the Himalayas – the Himalayas had come to me!
The period of my sabbatical award helped me jump-start my spiritual practice. For about four and a half months, I had no obligations to teach or go to work. My bills were paid, my family was well-provided, and I had no mundane concerns. It was as if the Universe had removed all the reasons for my excuses and invited me to do what I had to do. I had an overall sense that that was it. I either had to start with the spiritual work, or I would never do it.
After this realization, the days of my sabbatical quickly fell into a productive rhythm. I started each day with one lesson from A Course in Miracles and practiced it diligently according to the instructions. Then, I followed up with my academic projects. Throughout the day, I would stop for several minutes to review or practice the lesson for the day. I spend the evenings with my family. The next day, I repeated the process. By the time I returned to teaching in the following semester, I was only halfway through the 365 lessons of the Course, but I had built momentum. I had fallen into a robust routine that allowed me to continue my spiritual practice.
It took eventually eighteen months to complete all the 365 lessons. In the meantime, I had trained myself in new ways to view the world. My long-standing anger and resentment toward life and the world had subsided significantly. I was calmer, more collected, centered, and was starting to apply the Course’s principles in dealing with people and situations.
Going through the Course’s lessons taught me a state of being in which I instinctively knew of the great spiritual laws, remembered God, and was in touch with the Higher Powers that guided and protected us all. Borrowing language from the Course, I called that state of being my “Right Mind” as opposed to the ego state of mind. And because it was easier to use a specific symbol for the Higher Powers I felt were watching over me, I referred to them collectively as the Holy Spirit. At times the Holy Spirit felt like a single masculine entity, and at other times, I felt Him more as a collective host of powers. Plural or singular, I had forged a connection with the Holy Spirit in my mind and loved to ask Him for guidance.
Like any other mundane habit, being in the Right Mind and asking the Holy Spirit for guidance turned out to be a habit I had to build and develop. When things went smoothly in the external world, I frequently forgot about the Right Mind and the Holy Spirit, and I plodded along in oblivion to be jarred out of it only when something went wrong. Problems with students, conflicts with coworkers, and difficulties in the family all jolted me back into spiritual awareness. In this mental space, all problems had solutions. I was ever protected, guided, and loved unconditionally.
The following collection of essays is the result of this experience. I collected here the most frequent situations I found myself in, the challenges life threw at me, the guidance I received, and the insights and lessons I learned from that experience. Each essay gives a brief context of my specific concern, the answers I received, the practical steps I was advised to take, and a reflection on the outcomes.
1.1 Do Not Fear Mistakes
I have always feared making a mistake. I felt that one tiny lapse of attention or good judgment could bring the whole world down. Mistakes were to be avoided at all costs, and if I could not do something right from the first time, I would better not try it at all.
In my second year of undergraduate school in Sofia, I volunteered to help my physics professors with the logistics of organizing a regional conference. I was to go to the train station, pick up a Serbian physicist, take him to his lodgings to leave his luggage, and then bring him back to the physics department. When we hashed out the plan for that day with my advisor, and just before I dashed off with my errand, I asked, “what shall I do if something goes wrong?” My advisor looked up and answered incredulously with his own question: “Why should anything go wrong?”
I was stunned in silence and embarrassed. My question had been spurred by my overwhelming fear of mistakes. I was so used to assuming that something would go wrong. Suddenly, I was aware of the negative attitude with which I had grown up.
What could possibly go wrong? And why should it? And most importantly, was fear of mistakes a justification to stand still and avoid doing things that were new to me? How else could I ever grow and learn new skills?
To this day, I continue to struggle with this fear of mine. As I have learned more, experienced more, and lived through more, my fear has abated somewhat. Yet, at the onset of every new project, I feel the pang. What if I do it wrong? Why did I take on something when life would have been simpler if I had stuck with the familiar?
There are no failures, only mistakes that can be corrected. The fear of mistakes is totally unnecessary. There is only one mistake and only one correction – that of the perception of separation from God. Nothing else matters!
Why agonize over your mistakes? Whenever you catch yourself in agony, offer your mistakes to the Holy Spirit. Turn them over to Him and watch them disappear. What else can possibly happen? Illusion after illusion until there is none left.
Stop worrying about making mistakes. They are tiny spots in the fabric of cosmos – negligible, insignificant. You blow them out of proportion and then worry about their significance. Look over and beyond them. See the brilliance of God’s reality. Let Him correct what needs to be corrected. Let go of the memory of things past. Only your thinking of it keeps bringing it up.
Your fear of mistakes is utterly misplaced. Your anxiety over your creations is pointless. So what if you made mistakes? Go ahead and make them! For how else will you see that they are simply mistakes and be relieved of them? Everything given, everything bestowed or utilized, is for the sake of your release.
What to do
Day after day after day. Create! Creation is in your nature. Create through your word, through your hands and feet. Envision something first, and then the shape will follow. What do you envision?
Creation is your only function as the Son of God. You were created to create, to extend the Creation. When you fell asleep, you dreamed of miscreation. As it is only a dream, it leaves no traces on the fabric of existence. It is not a mistake. It is not an error, and it most certainly is not a sin. It is a dream that you are bound to wake up from sooner or later.
Humor is of the spirit. Laugh in the face of mistakes! Say, “this is just a mistake, and the Holy Spirit will correct it.” Then give it to the Holy Spirit and see what He does with it. When one by one mistakes disappear, you will learn that nothing is to be taken seriously.
There is a part of us that likes to play and enjoy. It is our Inner Child, and we are most in tune with it when babies. As we become more aware of our surroundings, we begin suppressing that child. Peer pressure, parental criticism, and economic hardships all combine to subdue, if not eradicate, our Inner Child. Yet it is that Inner Child that holds the key to our happiness. Even two thousand years ago, Jesus knew this, and we have the records to prove it:
“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew19:14
Our Inner Child is the part of us that freely plays and creates without concerns about what will come out of it. It doesn’t care about money, prestige, looking stupid, or creating masterpieces. It creates solely for the fun of creation.
To reconnect with it, I started writing in a stream of consciousness every morning just after waking up. The early morning is the best time for such exercise. Our creativity is awake while the relentless inner critic is still asleep.
At first, I was reluctant to commit to paper all the random words, phrases, and thoughts. To avoid feeling silly, I promised myself that if I did not like what I wrote, I could always delete it. I did not have to show it to anyone. It was like a warm-up exercise – to get in shape and get me going. It did not have to pass anyone’s approval. It did not even have to have meaning.
The first attempts of such writing came out a bit clumsy. When I glanced at my sheet of paper, the writing resembled more the speech of master Yoda. Here is my very first attempt at this exercise:
It doesn’t have to be.
Just say it.
After almost two years of practice, I had grown in confidence and could keep up the writing where surprising and fun content began to emerge.
An Invitation to Play
We’re here to play
To show another way
Of light and joy;
To live with abandon.
Luminous and boundless,
We come from the stars
And will go back to the stars
After a little while.
Are you interested in Astrology and how its principles can help you go through life with less effort? I post weekly guidance and insights in my Newsletter Cycles.
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