"The Soul System"

This image came to me in 2005 while I was wrapping up a two-year "experiment with Truth" (see the About page for more on this phase of my life). After distilling dozens of moral ideals down to the 9 Noble Virtues, I attempted to place these “ultimate truths” into a hierarchy. And yet, no matter how I re-arranged them, it never felt right placing one of them "above" or "below" another. They all seemed to be equally valuable to the human search for true Happiness. It didn't take long for me to abandon my linear approach and simply place them around the perimeter a circle, making each equally important and all of them separate-yet-interconnected portions of the human conscience. From this initial diagram blossomed this (i)am logo – a symbolic representation of the dynamic life of each and every conscious human being within his/her Universe. Though all nine circuits are actually seamless facets of a borderless whole, they are separated here to aid your understanding of how that whole functions.


As I began to apply the symbol's dynamics to my own life, its deeper meanings steadily revealed themselves. The nine circuits represent every facet of human life in any given moment, from the farthest reaches of the Universe (level 9), to the deepest internal mysteries of both consciousness (level 2) and the Soul (level 1). In between, this mandala's layers illuminate how we function as human beings. It evidences the internal interplay between the self-centered ego-mind (level 4) & the selfless conscience (level 3). It also illustrates the constant interconnection that exists (the synchronicity of level 7) between the physical body (6) and its immediate surroundings (the world of level 8).

Levels 1-4 reflect internal interactions within your life – how you relate to yourself, while levels 6-9 evidence your life's external relationships – how you relate to your environment. The (i)am material focuses primarily on the circuit where these two dynamics meet: the human character of level 5. This is the realm of choice, where all conscious beings experience either a sense of harmony or dis-ease based on the type of actions and thoughts they actualize in any particular moment. In essence, every time we make a self-centered choice (in level 5), the "fog" of the ego-mind (level 4) gets denser. We are focused in these moments on our own benefit, often at the expense of others, and feel more separate from the Universe as a result. Because the only lasting experience of bliss comes from acting as an agent of the Whole, these selfish choices ultimately bring us a heightened sense of dis-ease and suffering. Conversely, every time we make a selfless, compassionate choice for the benefit of another, that same "fog" dissipates. We feel the innate Oneness with our surroundings more intensely – and experience a deeper sense of Contentment as a result.

Ideally, your everyday choices harmonize the external guidance received from your surroundings with the selfless yearnings of your internal conscience. We are all constantly presented with opportunities to either enhance others' joy or mitigate their suffering. It is in the moments when we courageously act with compassion for the betterment of others that the perfect harmony of all nine of the logo's layers is felt, and Inner Peace is fully known.




The choices that lead to Inner Peace.

Deep down, every one of us is curious about what makes our actions "right" or "wrong." In every moment of our lives, we have the opportunity to choose how we are going to act: to either succumb to self-centered temptations (a.k.a. "sins") or transcend those fear-based desires by caring for others selflessly ... I do not possess any specific advice that is guaranteed to bring you true Happiness. And yet, after studying (and at times emulating) the lives of quite a few "Masters", it seems clear to me that there are nine major personality traits that, without exception, all "Enlightened Beings" embody and all "Right Actions" emit.

These nine "Noble Virtues" combine to provide each of us with our moral compass -- or conscience. They are the nine principles that enliven our Souls; the nine values that together combine to generate the Ultimate Virtue many of us know as "Love." They underlie any choice we make that is "perfect" or "righteous" or "good" and serve as guideposts to help us identify (and hopefully choose) actions & thoughts that are in harmony with our own unique Life-Missions ...


The following is a short summary of these Virtues:

Acceptance is experienced purely in those moments when you choose to extend unconditional forgiveness to those who have harmed you the most intensely (including life itself when it seems to treat you "unfairly" or bring you "unfair" amounts pain) ... To the degree that this Virtue is not actualized, its opposing sin manifests itself in the form of condemnation (a.k.a. judgement, analysis or criticsim).

Patience is experienced purely in those moments when we do not wait for a "better moment" or a "perfect opportunity" to act, but rather choose to See the perfect opportunities already given to us in every moment. We do so by choosing to engage those opportunities humbly & courageously ... To the degree that this Virtue is not actualized, its opposing sin manifests itself in the form of attachment (a.k.a frustration).

Generosity is experienced purely in those moments when we give cheerfully and selflessly to those deemed to be "least deserving" ... To the degree that this Virtue is not actualized, its opposing sin manifests itself in the form of greed (e.g. selfishness or caution).

Gratitude is experienced purely in those moments when life's pains & difficulties are faced while simultaneously choosing to be thank-full for those "obstacles"; seeing them as challenges that enable life to become Meaning-full ... To the degree that this Virtue is not actualized, its opposing sin manifests itself in the form of envy.

Compassion is experienced purely in those moments when we are harmed by an "enemy", and yet maintain enough composure to pause and care for his/her person anyway ... To the degree that this Virtue is not actualized, its opposing sin manifests itself in the form of apathy.

Honesty is experienced purely in those moments when we replace politeness with Kindness -- &/or replace the temptation to replace "half-truths" with silence and a smile ... To the degree that this Virtue is not actualized, its opposing sin manifests itself in the form of deception.

Humility is experienced purely in those moments when we have the courage to face everything we "know for certain", set it all aside, and See it all anew "as a Child" ... To the degree that this Virtue is not actualized, its opposing sin manifests itself in the form of pride.

Wonderment is experienced purely in those moments when we choose to see the wondrous in the "normal", find excitement in the "boring" &/or See the glorious perfection within the Soul of everyone we find to be "familiar" ... To the degree that this Virtue is not actualized, its opposing sin manifests itself in the form of familiarity (a.k.a. boredom).

Faith is experienced purely in those moments when we are humbly uncertain as to the effectiveness or "safety" of a particular act of kindness, and yet choose to be kind anyway ... To the degree that this Virtue is not actualized, its opposing sin manifests itself in the form of doubt.

More than few of these statements might make you a bit uncomfortable. After all, how can any of us hope to "be perfect" for even an instant, much less our entire lives? ... Fortunately, it is not necessary to exhibit these traits consistently, nor is it necessary to exhibit them perfectly. They are not "goals" for your attainment, but rather guidelines for your use. You are not required to "be perfect" to attain Inner Peace. Rather, the "closer" you get to exhibiting a particular Noble Virtue perfectly, the more powerful that moment will become and the more Peace you will feel in that moment.

Thus, when you choose to actualize a Virtue with complete selflessness (i.e. in harmony with the definitions given above), you will inevitably experience a lasting deep-seated sense of Contentment. And, obviously, in the moments that you choose not to do so, you will not. The choice is allWays yours to make, and then re-make -- again and again for as long as you remain consciously alive ... To better understand this dynamic, click on any one of the 9 Virtues in the diagram to learn more about what each of them means as well as to obtain a few practical tips for putting them into practice in your everyday living.

Acceptance vs. Condemnation
It is important that we learn to embrace the way everything in the Universe pulses and shifts and evolves -- how everything is continually born, grows, dies and then is reborn again. Indeed, there is nothing to do with this dynamic but accept it. We receive gifts only to have them eventually disappear. We are healthy only to become ill -- only to become whole once more. We "achieve" a goal only to see another challenge rise before our path. Our possessions are gained, are lost or broken, and are then gained anew ... Change is inevitable and always comes in ways unexpected. And when we attach ourselves to certain outcomes that then do not manifest themselves, our hopes are shattered and we experience the sufferings of longing, regret and/or pain.

And yet, though what happens "to us" may be for the most part beyond our "control", our perception of what has happened is always our choice. In every moment of our lives, we can choose between being accepting of what happens to us or judging the same as "bad" or "needing improvement." On one side, we can decide to see Life as a series of blessings and/or opportunties, while on the other we look to "improve" situations that harm us or criticize the people or things inflicting us with harm ... The Universe is an interconnected whole; a singularity of which we are all parts -- a singularity that is continually "striving" to attain a state of perfect Harmony. This flow of "Highest Good", however apparently slow or misguided it may be, is always in constant operation. It is there in every moment of our lives -- both for us to See and for us to Follow. And the closer we get to a state of appreciation for everything that makes up our lives, the closer we get to the experience of deep-seated inner Peace.

"Perfect Acceptance" occurs in those moments when you choose to either extend kindness to those who have harmed you (i.e. actualized forgiveness) or appreciate the "normal" things in your life as the spectacular miracle they are. It is a detached, unconditionally compassionate response to an injustice or moral wrong. It is seeing the adventure within every moment that is "boring." It is merciful restraint from revenge or resentment in response to an infliction of "injustice." It is beig amazed by every experience previously deemed to be "normal." It is the Acceptance of all that IS, while simultaneously dismissing all hopes or fears for whatever should or could be. As such, all adversity is met without complaint. One ceases striving to make life "better" and commences instead with assisting the "flow" of life to become "smoother" (i.e. more harmonious or Peace-full). Perfect Acceptance realizes that there are no "phases" to life - only one Moment (the current one), and it therefore encourages us to act accordingly; living every moment of our lives in humble appreciation -- as if it were both our first and our last moment on Earth...

Peace is not the absence of war, but the absence of the self-centeredness thsat is the root cause of all conflict. Health is not the absence of illness, but rather the absence of the arrogant striving that is the root cause of all dis-ease. Wonderment is not the absence of routine, but rather the absence of the preconceptions that are the root cause of all boredom. Love is not the absence of hatred, but rather the absence of fear that is the root cause of all apathy ... Peace is innate -- Health is innate – Wonderment is innate -- Love is innate. We must never strive to recapture them. We must merely set our egos aside and let these innate qualities "float to the surface" of our lives. Acceptance is the key to this setting aside...

The re-construction of yourself can be either a magnificent creation of your own conscious design or a strictly happenstance configuration (click here for some practical tips on how to do so). In essence, you can either choose to be a person who has been molded by what has happened "to you", or a person who has been consciously self-constructed by what you choose to Do with what happens "for you" ... Remember then, it matters not what you choose to do, and it is essential how you choose to do what you choose to do!

The choice is completely yours --

May you choose Peace-fully!



Patience vs. Frustration
In our fast-paced and relatively hectic society, patience is one of the values that seems most difficult to cultivate. Our lives are filled with long lists of things we "have to do" -- some of them are deemed to be "important", while others we label as "urgent." Of course, life rarely cooperates completely with us as we attempt to accomplish these tasks, and we are often encouraged to simply "be patient" ... We are taught that "patience" requires us to remain calm during unexpected delays, tolerate undesirable situations and/or be polite to "slow" or disrespectful people. This conventional concept revolves around learning to wait -- wait for delays to pass, wait for situations to "get better", or wait for others to "grow up." It encourages us to remain inactive while feeling somehow "above" or superior to those unideal occurrences. It requires us to passively hope for our lives to somehow "improve" (i.e. more readily fulfill our own personal hopes and expectations) ...

Of course, in reality, all these stresses are self-generated difficulties; they are all chosen deficiencies of perspective. Indeed, whether we burn out (an excess of "drive") or rust away (a deficiency of passion), we are always able to recharge our lives with Purpose by choosing to alter our definition of patience; transforming it from a passive tolerance of Life to an active service for It. To do so, it is necessary to center our visions and hopes around creating, healing or mending for others, as opposed to dreaming, accumulating or using for ourselves...

Perfect Patience" is when you do not wait for either the "better moment" or the "perfect opportunity" to act, but rather choose to notice the opportunities already given to you by engaging them fully in every present moment. You are engaging your True Path patiently when you recognize an opportunity to aid another and then act accordingly without hesitation. It is doing what you already can where you already are with what you already have. It is embodied by actions that are both consciously chosen and that intend to serve others, as opposed to those that are performed "automatically" (inspired by either a routine or emotional reaction) for our own "best interests" ...

In conclusion, it is always possible to become perfectly Patient because it is always possible to seek, find and engage an opportunity to serve others. Every moment in our lives is a chance to actualize a "State of Salvation" by initiating that process (click here for some practical tips on how to do so). Avoid getting trapped by the desire to immediately actualize your own personal vision of "ideal Service" (a.k.a. one’s "most potent" Calling or Life-Mission). Rather, maintain this Vision and use it as a guideline towards behaving as lovingly as possible within the circumstances already present in your current Here&Now. Simply choose to do all the good you see that is already available to Do. Especially remember "the little things", for these "small deeds" comprise the framework of every great Vision. Indeed, what could be more power-full than transcending your ego’s whisperings related to your life’s "insignific ance" by serving anyway! Simply start "in your own backyard" by serving family members and intimate friends. Then gradually allow your efforts to extend into your community. A "hunter" of service watches everything, and as such, everything grants her/him some opportunity to be a powerful Force for Good ...

Remember that it matters not what you choose to do,

and yet it is essential to DO what you choose to do! ...

The choice is completely yours --

May you choose Peace-fully!



Generosity vs. Greed
We all intellectually understand the concept of "generosity", and yet untethered altruism is so rarely witnessed in our everyday lives. Maybe this is due to some powerful myths we have been taught about giving. Maybe it is the innate, primitive desire for self-preservation (i.e. "survive and procreate") that has us ignoring most of the literally millions of opportunities with which we are each presented each day to selflessly give to others. Either way, even though I have no specific idea how any of you should be giving, I have experienced the Truth that the more frequently and the more selflessly we give to others, the more Peace we experience in our own lives. And so, without further ado, I give you all a "fresh" set of guidelines to enable you to more power-fully give -- should you so choose ...

A look at the traditional dynamic of "giving" ... Let's begin with a brief evaluation of some of the more conventional definitions of "generosity" that we either have been taught &/or have adopted:

The "lowest" level of giving we regularly see is that of "rationalized taking." This is evidenced by the person who literally steals from another to either give to others (e.g. Robin Hood) or to "effectuate justice" (e.g. taking back what was stolen). Either way, it is clear that these choices have nothing at all to do with perfect Generosity, but are rather thinly veiled acts of thievery. Example: one takes a coat from one person in order to give it to another who is "more in need/more deserving" ...

Next, we have "manipulative giving", where the "giver" extends his/her generosity solely to divert the receiver's attention from the "giver's" own self-centered desires. In essence, this "gift" is not a Gift at all, but rather a tool the "giver" uses to accomplish his/her own objectives. Example: one gives another a coat in order to dissuade the receiver from collecting on a debt ...

The 3rd level of giving involves "provoking reciprocation." Here, the "giver" is generous in order to "bind" the receiver into doing something for him/her in return. Some of the more potent examples are political lobbyists "giving" to politicians in return for subsequent political favors or evangelical preachers encouraging their congregations to "give" their tithings in order to be "good Christians." Example: one gives another a coat in order to "guilt trip" him/her into giving something in return ...

The 4th level of giving is the act of reciprocity itself, where the giver is extending his/her generosity solely because he/she has received a "gift" from another and wishes to quell deep-seated feelings of guilt or "unworthiness." Example: one gives another a coat because he/she has recently received a gift from them ...

The 5th level of giving is "obligatory", as the "giver" is doing so because he or she feels duty-bound to do so. This is seen in many dysfunctional parent-child interactions, where the parent is "generous" with his/her children because it's "the right thing to do" (or sometimes because he/she is "bound by law" -- e.g. child-support payments). Example: one gives another a coat (begrudgingly, after being asked to do so) because "that's what a good person is supposed to do" ...

Finally, "perfect Generosity" is seen where the Giver is doing so solely for the benefit of the receiver. This is best evidenced by those who are humbly dedicating their lives to social causes, those who give anonymously, and/or those who give self-sacrificially. Example: one anonymously leaves his/her own coat next to a sleeping homeless person ...

The "lower" levels of giving ultimately seek benefits for one's self, while the last level seeks solely to benefit others. The first 5 levels of generosity inevitably lead to the entrenchment of both the giver's sense of dis-ease and his/her personal addictions, while the latter leads invariably to an experience of deep-seated Happiness and Contentment. It has been my consistent, personal experience that the more any choice reflects this final, "higher" level, the more potent it becomes and the more Peace it engenders ...

In essence then, "perfect Generosity" is Giving a) without any motivations of personal benefit, b) during times of personal discomfort, and c) for those judged by self &/or others as "least deserving." It always gives more than duty requires, more than hope yearns for and more than expectation obligates. As the gift that is most selfless brings the most Peace to others, perfect Generosity gives anonymously, gives to strangers, &/or gives in another’s name. As the giving that is most difficult (i.e. in times of personal discomfort) invariably brings the most Peace to others, perfect Generosity gives when "too busy", when deeply depressed, when in pain, when ill and/or when "too tired" to do so. As those "least deserving" are those who need our caring the most, perfect Generosity is courageously kind to all its "enemies" -- and when an "enemy" is not handy, it is intimately kind to strangers...

In conclusion, Giving is allWays Right Action, regardless of whether or not the receiver of your gift can fully appreciate it, and certainly regardless of whether or not the timing of that giving is "convenient." As a simple guideline, simply remember the following –

When to Give? Constantly -- with the least "convenient" time being the most potent...

Where to Give? Everywhere -- with the least likely place being the most potent...

What to Give? Anything -- with the most personally cherished item being the most potent...

How to Give? All-Ways -- with the most subtle givings being the most potent...

Give to Whom? Everyone -- with gifts given to our "enemies" being the most potent...

Why Give? For Others – with compassion being the only truly potent giving intention...

It matters not how much you receive nor how much you possess; simply Give to others (click here for some practical tips on how to do so). It matters not if you are "loved enough"; simply Love others (and thereby free yourself from all dysfunctional "needs")... It matters not if you are sick; simply Tend others' wounds (and be thereby healed yourself)... Every good deed, every altruistic intention, every loving act given without condition -- they all set in motion a chain of events that expand infinitely and exponentially over time; positively affecting others, ourselves, and the Universe forever.

Remember then, it matters not what you choose to give,

and it is essential to know why you give what you choose to give!

The choice is completely yours --

May you choose Peace-fully!



Gratitude vs. Envy
As we look about us in our everyday lives (or rather, listen around us), it becomes readily apparent that there is a serious lack of gratitude in the day-to-day life of most people. Indeed, at least in my personal experience, others are heard complaining about "what's missing" in or "what's wrong" with their lives far more often than they evince any thankfulness for their blessings. There are a number of reasons for this disparity -- the innate difficulties of modern living, commercials constantly selling the comforts that we "could have" (but do not), and the news-media encouraging us to believe that we live in a world that is "unstable" and "dangerous." These influences stimulate our self-centered egos to construct powerful obstacles to feeling grateful. We are encouraged instead to judge, analyze and criticize all that "isn't right" in our lives. Fear and self-centeredness are lauded as "prudent", and striving to attain what we lack is considered "responsible." Complaining about our "probl ems" becomes commonplace and we start to feel entitled to our blessings -- instead of being thankful for them. We focus on how life "should be", as opposed to appreciating the wonders in the life that already IS ...

"Perfect Gratitude," on the other hand, is facing your life's pains and difficulties while simultaneously choosing to be thank-full for those "obstacles" as the challenges that make life meaning-full. It is the conscious releasing of the feeling of "deserving" anything. It is choosing to humble your ego's self-centered yearnings and focusing instead on the blessings you have already been given. It is discarding the desire for fairness and "justice" -- replacing them with pure thank-fullness for the wonders of all that IS. It is remembering that simply waking up each morning is reason enough to be absolutely grateful (i.e. Great-Full) ...

All conscious beings will continue to regularly experience pain and difficulty throughout the course of their lives. It is the nature of life to be a challenging affair, and it is the nature of the human body to regularly encounter situations that are pain-filled. There is no escape from this reality. And yet, how we choose to respond to those moments -- what we choose to do with those "obstacles", is completely under our control ... Perfect Gratitude takes these instances and, instead of choosing to suffer from them, chooses instead to use them to make life meaning-full. A person can just as readily judge life as "unfair" or "malicious", and yet that judgment is not an objective truth, but a choice. The same person can just as readily see life's difficult moments as blessings; filled with lessons to be learned and challenges that make us stronger when overcome (and that make our subsequent happinesses that much more Joy-full!) ...

It is always possible to be thankful for this amazing gift of life (click here for some practical tips on how to do so). Indeed, life contains many painful moments, and their lessons will continue to guide us along our respective ways -- sometimes guiding us harshly. And yet, it is completely our choice whether we mire our-selves in self-pity and depression, or appreciate the guidance provided by our lives' painful occurrences. As conscious humans, we can come to the edge of a lake incredibly thirsty, and yet pause to see the sun reflected across its surface like thousands of diamonds. As conscious humans, we can be on the edge of starvation and be offered food, and yet pause and offer that first morsel to our hungry neighbor. As conscious humans, we can fear for our lives as an army approaches, and yet choose to walk calmly towards them uttering prayers of love and forgiveness. As conscious humans, we can be im mersed in the bog of mundane routines, and yet still pause to be amazed by the center of a rose. And as conscious humans, we can be hounded by life’s difficulties, and yet choose to be thank-full for life anyway ...

Gratitude actualizes the full potential of every Moment in which you are consciously thankful ... What we already posses becomes so much more than "enough." Energies that were previously diverted into denial and yearning and striving and pining for a different reality are channeled via thankfulness back into our current moments - making us not only content, but incredibly power-full therein. Indeed, perfect Gratitude unlocks reality's full potential. It turns challenges into blessings and despair into empowerment. It transforms every failure into success and allows every unexpected surprise to reflect the Universe’s "perfect timing"

External circumstances actually have nothing at all to do with our fundamental sense of happiness. Only our internal choices related to those events determines our level of contentment experienced in any given moment. And remember that very little of the pain we experience comes to us "incidentally" and absolutely none of it comes to us "accidentally." Indeed, most of the difficulty that comes into our lives is the direct result of previous choices we have made (either the commission of self-centered, discordant acts or the omission of selfless, harmonious ones). Only after accepting a complete self-responsibility for our lives (via perfect Gratitude) can we hope to relieve ourselves of the suffering that is inspired by (not caused by) our lives' painful experiences...

This is the challenge of Humanity: that we feel our pain with Gratitude and still strive boldly forth to Serve others anyway ... This is the challenge of Humanity: to Love another so intensely that we let him or her go with Gratitude even while continuing to Love them ... This is the challenge of Humanity: to accept our tragedies with Gratitude and make them meaning-filled by Seeing them as chances to do powerful good anyway ... And these are not decisions reserved for the "noble few." Rather, they are opportunities that every human has in every moment that is painful or difficult. The ability to transcend our frustrations via gratitude-steeped service is what makes us human. It is the way we can choose to be more than mere instinctual "animals" ruled by fears and desires. It is the way to remembering how powerful it can be to be a fully conscious Human Being ...

Remember then, it matters not what you choose to do,

and it is essential how you choose to do what you choose to do!

The choice is completely yours --

May you choose Peace-fully!



Compassion vs. Apathy
Before we can discuss compassion, we must somehow come to an understanding of what it is. Dictionaries often define compassion as "love"; "love" is then defined for us as "fondness"; "fondness" is defined as "displayed affection"; and "affection" is finally defined as "a display of love" (?!?!?). Tradition and convention are little help as well, as each person seems to attach a different meaning and/or a different significance to this all-important concept. Some people believe that compassion relates to romance -- others, to friendship. Some people think it exhibits pity and/or sympathy for those in pain -- for others, it is displays of basic politeness ... And yet, despite the difficulties we may experience in defining "compassion", every human being intimately understands how true, deep-seated Compassion feels -- how it feels when it is given, how it feels when it is received, and how it feels when it is witnessed ...

It might be easiest to describe what perfect Compassion is by making it clear what it is not. The true Compassion of which I write has nothing at all to do with possession, control, manipulation, dependence (i.e. needing another), codependence (i.e. melding with/into another) or romance. It does not ever engender jealousy, envy, lust, protectiveness, worry, sympathy, pity or passion. Neither is it related to trust, hope, responsibility, obligation, commitment or duty. We must gently release all of these more traditional characteristics of conventional "love" in order to experience perfect Compassion. Then, by experiencing it, we can come to truly comprehend it ...

Like most of the nine Noble Virtues, different "levels" of compassion manifest themselves in our day-to-day lives -- and an examination of these might prove to be insightful:

The lowest "level" of compassion is actually "dislike" and is characterized by open animosity. This occurs when we see others first as separate from ourselves, then as different from ourselves and finally as dangerous to ourselves. All animosity is born in fear and without fear it cannot remain viable. This fear is the birthplace of all physical and mental addictions ...

The second "level" of compassion is "neutrality" and is characterized by callousness (or apathy). This occurs when we can only see others as "special" or "worthy" when they are either very much like us or can somehow provide us with something. All such "neutrality" inevitably leads to inaction and is born in self-centeredness. It is the birthplace of bigotry and ignorance ...

The third "level" of compassion is abject "desire" and is characterized by manipulation. This occurs when we attempt to attain our own objectives without considering the consequences thereof to others' well-being. All desire inevitably leads to disappointment, and is the birthplace of suffering ...

The fourth "level" of compassion is "romance" and is characterized by neediness and melodrama. This occurs when two or more individuals, instead of sharing their respective Life-Paths, attempt to meld themselves into one being. "Fun" and/or control are used to bulwark the innately weak self-esteems of these "partners." All romance inevitably leads to loneliness, and is the birthplace of emotional addictions ...

The fifth "level" of compassion is "politeness" and is characterized by tact and/or sharing with others out of a sense of obligation. This occurs when one does "what's right" only after his/her personal needs have been satisfied and/or when a sharing is considered "safe" (e.g. monetary donations, tithing at church, giving to close friends, etc.). It also encourages the "giver" to feel entitled to a "return" on his/her "investment." All politeness leads inevitably to superficiality and is the birthplace of a lack of intimacy ...

The sixth "level" of compassion is "true Partnership" and is characterized by unconditional respect and detached, pure caring. This occurs when one gives selflessly simply to ease the burdens of another. It is often performed anonymously and is always performed intimately (via action more than thought and via active service more than mere material giving). All such Partnership leads inevitably to appreciation and gratitude, and is the birthplace of Love ...

The seventh "level" of compassion is "Oneness" and is characterized by Peace-full Joy. It occurs when a person recognizes that there is only one option in every moment, and that option is to serve others selflessly. He/She no longer sees others as separate beings, and acts accordingly. All moments steeped in this Oneness lead inevitably to pure Contentment, and are the birthplaces of what religions refer to as "Salvation", "Paradise" or "the Kingdom of Heaven" (i.e. the complete, objective awareness of our innate, intimate interconnectedness with each other and indeed, the entire Universe) ...

This final/ultimate "level" of caring is actually the only one that accurately reflects what I mean by perfect Compassion. The others are all at least partly dysfunctional -- lacking in perfect Love to one degree or another. Conventional "love" seeks security for the future, while perfect Compassion seeks to accept the moment without condition. Conventional "love" seeks to belong to a particular set of relationships, while perfect Compassion seeks to know a Oneness with the entire Universe. Conventional "love" seeks to be either independent (founded in a fear of intimacy) or dependent (founded in a fear of isolation), while perfect Compassion immerses one into interdependence (where one is distinct from, yet partnered with, everything in one's environment). Conventional "love" seeks to meld with others, while perfect Compassion encourages cooperation with the same. Conventional "love" seeks trust (attached to hopes and expectations), while perfect Compassion rests in faith (detached from any outcom e). Conventional "love" seeks commitment for future "security", while perfect Compassion commits only to the moment (over and over and over again!). Conventional "love" seeks to acquire, while perfect Compassion seeks to give ...

"Perfect Compassion" is impartial and detached; caring for all equally -- both those present and those far removed, regardless of their status or openness to being loved. It is when you are harmed by an "enemy", and yet maintain the composure to pause and care for him/her anyway. We are motivated by that feeling to come to intimately know others’ pains, and it simultaneously encourages us to strive to relieve those burdens. Perfect Compassion recognizes the fundamental equality of worth in every being. Thus, it manifests itself gently in all its actions, be that the caress of another’s cheek or the lifting of a tea cup. Most importantly, it is the conscious and active caring for others as much as, if not more than, ourselves ...

In conclusion, to know perfect Compassion, we must choose to experience it firsthand. And this experiencing must come in the form of giving that compassion to others, not in receiving it from them (click here for some practical tips on how to do so). Compassion cannot be sought and found for one’s self. Perfect Compassion can only be known in those moments when we yearn to decline an uncomfortable opportunity to serve another, and yet choose to serve them anyway. It is the complete sensation of Oneness that is felt when the ego is purpose-fully set aside in order to lessen another’s' burdens or add to their Joy ...

Perfect Compassion takes your condemnation and makes it acceptance, takes your arrogance and makes it humility, takes your apathy and makes it service, and takes your greed and makes it generosity ... Compassion enables the true Happiness of others - not only directly via the relieving of their burdens, but also indirectly by inspiring them to do the same for others ... For it is the reliever of burdens who experiences true Peace, not the one relieved thereof ...

We are all wonder-full, innately moral beings who long to do good for others. This is true for those people who happen to be choosing to cause us the most pain. This is also true even for those people who appear to be the most confused (a.k.a. those who seem "evil"). Greet, therefore, everyone you meet in your life with the dignity often reserved for our leaders and loved ones. Everyone, regardless of their "appearance" or "status" -- and regardless of their outward behaviors -- both yearns for and merits pure and power-full Compassion in their lives. This is especially true for those who are acting selfishly, and are therefore seemingly the "least deserving" of that perfect Compassion. Indeed, it is our general lack of empathy for these folks that inspires them to behave as they do!

In essence, we cannot know of Compassion's true majesty if we are only interested in receiving life's hollow joys and pleasures. We must instead choose to experience the Peace that comes from serving a brother as a friend, as opposed to the terror that comes from fighting that brother as an "enemy." It is then that you will understand that only the unhindered giving of Love is the only path to receiving the same ...

Remember then, it matters not what you choose to do,

and yet it is essential to selflessly do what you choose to do!

The choice is completely yours --

May you choose Peace-fully!



Honesty vs. Deception
We witness varying degrees of honesty in our day-to-day interactions with others. Between the lowest "level" of truth-telling (the malicious lie) to the pinnacle of perfect Honesty (examined below), there are many different "levels" of honesty displayed when communicate. There are those that tell untruths in order to manipulate others. There are others who tell similar lies because they are afraid they will be rejected if they do otherwise. There are those who tell "white lies" in the hopes of "protecting" others from pain. There are others who lie to provoke others to "grow" (e.g. politicians who lie for "the greater good"). There are those who tell untruths because of their arrogant ignorance (e.g. religious zealots). And there are still others who lie via their sarcastic remarks ...

Of course, in reality there are no different "levels" of Truth. There is only Truth-telling, followed by the afore-mentioned differing degrees of falsehood, deception and manipulation (a.k.a. dishonesty). Perfect Honesty, on the other hand, is absolute and allWays reflected in words and/or actions that are in absolute harmony with one's loving True Self ... "Perfect Honesty" is manifesting the integrity to be true to your True Self -- with your actions even more than your words. It is following through on every utterance as though it were taken under the most sacred of oaths. It is enabled whenever you replace politeness with kindness, and/or meet the temptation to tell "half-truths" with silence and a smile ...

In conclusion, though perfect Honesty is a rarity in conventional living, it is important to actualize this Virtue as often as possible. Employ your speaking, writing and gesturing only as means to give others the gifts of your wisdom, your wonderment and/or your compassion. In essence, to be perfectly Honest, be Love-centered or be silent. Continually remind yourSelf to re-examine and re-evaluate the motives behind your utterances and choose to communicate to understand more than to be understood ... Just as it is better to do nothing than to act selfishly, it is better to be silent than to speak a un-Truth. Be strong and communicate in ways that are consistent with all your current knowledge (click here for some practical tips on how to do so). Remember to do so gently and with humility. Most importantly, re-member to let your actions reflect those words harmoniously. Though others will often prove unwilling to believe your Truths; honor your True Self by being Truth-full anyway...

Remember then, it matters not what you choose to do,

and yet it is essential to willingly (i.e. honestly) perform whatever you choose to do!

The choice is completely yours --

May you choose Peace-fully!



Humility vs. Pride
In our lives, we are always being pulled in two very different directions. One of these forces tempts us to control our environment and dictate our own destiny in order to maximize our "self-satisfaction," while the opposing inclination constantly "whispers" a deeper Truth to us -- namely, that the way to the very contentment we seek lies not in manipulating our reality, but rather in smoothly harmonizing with it. The more arrogant we tend to be, the more we "hear" the former, ego-based guidance, while the more humbly we choose to listen to life, the more we can access the deeper, selfless Truths that lead us invariably to a life of deep-seated contentment.

These two opposing mentalities tend to manifest themselves in behaviors that appear to be cyclical. On one hand, if we consistently adopt the more common, self-centered outlook on life, our "seeking" tends to conform to some general occurrences: First, regardless of how "wealthy" or comfortable any of us are, everyone eventually feels that their lives "just aren't working." At some point, we each realize that there must be "something more" to life. We then establish specific goals as to how this "happiness" should look or feel (e.g. more emotional glee, more physical pleasure, more material comfort, and more everyday ease are common goals of people following this path). We then begin to search for this particular "Meaning of Life," inevitably finding a teaching or a concept or an activity or a relationship that matches our new vision (such superficialities are, after all, all around us!). We get involved with the afore-mentioned and experience a temporary sense of uplifting, believing that we have finally found "the answer." Inevitably, of course, these new behaviors/relationships cannot bring us the "ultimate contentment" that we originally sought, we become disheartened with our quest, and we either renew our self-centered searching or "give up" and sink into a droning, meaningless existence ...

If, on the other hand, we choose the less common, selflessly humble outlook on living (a choice we can make in any moment), our "Seeking" develops in a quite different manner and leads to quite a different outcome: Initially, very similarly to the self-centered cycle above, we comprehend that our lives are "not working" and realize that there is "something more" to living. Then, however, instead of establishing personal goals as parameters for our search, we choose to set aside all we believe about "the way life is" and "the way life should be." We do not completely abandon our past experiences and ideals, and yet we do set them aside and choose to See life with "fresh eyes," allowing ourselves to accept as possible what was previously believed to be impossible. We are then open to exploring paths/options that we had previously deemed to be either "too dangerous" or "too utopian." Invariably thereafter, we find a teaching or an activity or a relationship that resonates with one of our deeper Truths - most often a Truth that we have long-since abandoned as "impractical" or even "irresponsible." Despite a lack of "concrete evidence" that this new approach will "work", we proceed faith-fully (i.e. humbly) to engage it anyway. We allow ourselves to be happily surprised as this new way leads our lives in a fresh direction. We follow its "guidance" until it ceases to "bear good fruit" (i.e. until it ceases to bring ourselves and/or others Joy &/or Peace), whereupon we simply repeat the process anew. In essence, life becomes a scintillating Journey filled with Meaning – a dance with what IS as opposed to a struggle to create what "should be" ...

"Perfect Humility" is essentially the courage to free yourself from the shackles of "fact", "reality" and "practicality." It is evidenced by a readiness to perceive (i.e. completely accept) your surroundings and then interact with them without the use of your prior preconceptions, expectations or hopes (click here for some practical tips on how to do so) ...

In conclusion, clarity comes not from mere mental "illuminations", but rather from the act of humbly searching for (and then applying) those wisdoms. The enlightenment rests in the search as opposed to what is sought; in the questioning as opposed to our questions' answers. Such a search is innately active, purpose-full and humble. It is the essence of living - of cherishing the amazing gift that is our conscious existence in fleshly form. Indeed, once "knowledge" is acquired - once "answers" are provided for our questions, seeking inherently ceases. It is the "vagueness" of life that enables our search. It is the uncertainty of life itself that enables us to choose to engage life courageously despite our uncertainty ...

Underneath all appearances, we are all seeking, and we are all seeking essentially the same thing: Peace - our own way to further the harmony of the flow of our Universe. We have all been called to this vision of true Peace (as opposed to mere physiological &/or emotional comfort) – a Harmony that can only be actualized in a state of "Doing Anyway;" -- the State of Being where action is engaged because it is felt to be Right even though there is no "evidence" or convention to support its choice. Indeed, it is this patent uncertainty that enables us to attain deep-seated, lasting Peace when engaging such choices selflessly – it is this actualized faith that enables our search to be both perpetual and, thereby, inevitably Success-full. And this is what it means to be humble. This is leaving the life of judgment and stereo-type and categorization and analysis behind you, and entering the world of truly experiencing Life by witnessing its wonders and/or engaging its opportunities to serve others selfles sly. In essence, to be perfectly Humble, simply go forth and do all the "good" there is to do, without worrying about the "reasonability" of your choices ...

Remember then, it matters not what you choose to do,

and yet it is essential to humbly (i.e. courageously) perform whatever you choose to do!

The choice is completely yours --

May you choose Peace-fully!



Wonderment vs. Familiarity
Even though Wonderment is one of the more readily available Virtues (with opportunities to actualize it being both obvious and ever-present), it is possibly the most difficult for us to access. The "productive" pace of our current society makes it quite challenging to pause long enough to truly appreciate the Beauty that permanently surrounds us. And when we do happen to pause, we have "learned" so much about the make-up of our world that it is all too easy to categorize experiences as "normal." ... We tend to label what has "worked" to ensure our survival (or at least has not led to our death) as "familiar" and we miss out on life's innate amazingness in the process. Thus, we are tempted to repeat what is "known" rather than engage the untested unknown, which our ego assumes to be "dangerous.". We see similarities between past occurrences and current events and assume familiarity in order to "function"; all the while not realizing that there are no repeat occurrences; that there are no complete ly accurate categories for any entity or any event. Despite this, our sense of the amazingness of life is innate, and can therefore be re-awoken ...

For the infant, everything he/she perceives is truly wondrous. As months pass, the infant becomes a toddler and begins to "comprehend" its sensations more and more. As this happens with ever-increasing frequency and intensity, his/her sense of Wonderment takes a back seat to the "more important" tasks of learning to move, becoming self-sufficient and interacting with others. By the time puberty is attained, his/her sense of Wonder is often entirely replaced by self-centered worries and/or desires. Later, for most adults at least, the receptivity to life's Wonders has all but vanished. And yet, the ability to be amazed remains as power-full and pure as it was at our conception. It must simply be re-discovered. Each experience in life is completely new and fresh, and can be treated as such if we so choose...

"Perfect Wonderment" is when we patiently pause to gaze in amazement upon life's incredible, inherent beauty. Wonder is especially viable when we choose to see the wondrous in the "normal", to find excitement in the "boring" &/or to See the true essence (or "Soul-Self") of anyone previously labeled as "familiar" ...

For most of us, 95% of our thoughts are repeats from "yesterday" (our recent past). Our "knowledgeable" assumptions about reality lead us to gloss over most of the "miracles" in each moment that we have "already seen." Of course, in Truth, every one of our experiences is completely unique; regardless of how familiar it might appear. And even if we have witnessed an occurrence very similar to a current one, is that really just cause to dismiss its innate wondrousness so readily -- merely because it is similar or familiar? Is a rainbow any less Wonder-full just because we’ve seen one before? Is a sunset any less amazing just because last night’s was "prettier"? Is a day spent with a loved one any less phenomenal merely because you might have walked in that same park with her/him every day for the last year? If so, then it is only your innately flawed judgments of comparison & contrast that make it so. Familiarity-based boredom is a choice, and never has anything to do with the objective reality of th e moments it judges. Every instant is perfectly Beauty-full. The only question remains: Can we be Human enough to truly appreciate them?

For the conscious human, there appear to be three "levels" of existence, and it is feasible to re-manifest a sense of perfect Wonderment in all three ... Initially, there is the External Realm - all that is perceived to be "outside" of, or apart from, our physical bodies. Here, perfect Wonderment can be accessed via the Peace found in "simple living." Clearing our homes of clutter and cleansing them of disturbing (a.k.a. "negative") energies allows us to feel more at ease with our surroundings -- thereby allowing us to more readily pause and witness the Wonders within them ... Then there is the Internal Realm - all that is perceived to be within, or contained by, our bodies (including our thoughts and perceptions). Here, perfect Wonderment can be experienced via the deep-seated Peace felt during moments of inner calm. Clearing our minds of clutter (with meditation &/or focused listening) and cleansing them of negativity (with laughter &/or acts of selfless kindness) allow us to feel at ease with ours elves -- thereby allowing us to more readily pause and witness our lives' innate amazingness as well ... Finally, there is the Interconnected Realm - where all our perceptions (both external and internal) are unified by conscious choice. This is the kingdom of consciousness, where we can choose a humble awareness of our perfect union with all that composes our Present Moment. This is the kingdom of togetherness, where we can experience moments of pure bliss when all our distinctions and preconceptions melt away. In these moments of courageous kindness and intimacy, we are truly at Peace. "Me" and "they" and "it" become "us" -- and all that is left is perfect Wonderment ...

Every "ordinary", external occurrence can be made "extraordinary" by combining it with an intense, conscious awareness of it, and every "normal" internal perception can become "amazing" by examining it alongside the components of the Cosmos that co-generate it. These "Moments of re-Union" can become an everyday way of living only when you repeatedly re-mind and then re-member them in this way. In this realm, perfect Wonderment is no longer a choice - it becomes an intrinsic characteristic of your daily existence ...

"Perfect Wonderment" is the choice to return to the state of mind that we exuded as infants, and the state of Being that we regularly actualized as children. It is not, of course, a return to the self-centered yearnings of the toddler, nor is it a return to the extreme fears and longings of the adolescent. The "Child" of which I write was constantly enraptured and/or amused by the "normal." That Child was simply happy to be alive. He/She obtained more bliss from sharing than from taking. And it is to this mentality that perfect Wonder calls us ...

Beauty and Wonder are seen whenever a conscious being chooses to See them. Beauty simply IS, and miraculous is the ever-present state of the Cosmos. As such, "ugliness" and "normalcy" are delusions we "see" whenever we are afraid to pause and courageously look for Wonder. Amazement rests not in the particular object(s) we witness, but rather in the intense attention we can choose to give to those same objects. A blade of grass is per se wondrous. Every cloud is a miracle. Every conscious interaction between any two human beings (regardless of the content of these exchanges) is truly a priceless gift. And yet it is attending to these moments as miraculous that allows their innate Wonder to blossom forth. Indeed, we do not see the Universe as it is, but rather as we are within It. If only our life's few "magnanimous" moments are seen as wondrous, then we are only wondrous in the exception as well. And yet, when we choose to See all of Life as the bundle of interconnected miracles that it is, then in every moment we are free to revel in the Joy of the Truth of our own Divine Nature ...

People wait for the "amazing" to be amazed. They want miracles from their prophets, the grandiose from their nature and the most noble from their fellow beings. And yet, while truly amazing, these occurrences are not life’s true miracles. Truly perfect Wonderment can only be seen in the everyday - in the smile of a child, in the selflessness of an ant, in the way a tree sways in the wind. If you cannot See the Wonder in these "normal" times, then the more grandiose events will serve as your prison as opposed to your liberator ...

Wonder is not a matter of "maybe" -- Wonder is a choice. Wonder is not the zealous belief that God is everywhere, but rather our humble yet courageous living as though that were the Truth. Indeed, everything in the Universe is a never-ending dance between movement and rest. As such, when in motion, flow with your environment and revel in your motion -- When at rest, sink into the space of that moment and Be One with that space. Realize that, when so chosen, the body is a mobile temple of selfless service, and every place that it accordingly moves or rests is Holy Ground. This realization is the epitome of perfect Wonderment ...

So choose to live in awe of your life (click here for some practical tips on how to do so). The simplest and smallest things contain the complete essence of the total grandeur of the Universe, the least significant gesture contains the essence of the most power-full Love, and every moment in the flow of time contains the absolute stillness of Eternity ... Wonder is truly everywhere. It is merely a question of just stopping briefly (and continually) and looking -- really Looking. Do so regardless of where you are or what you are doing.

Remember then, it matters not what you focus upon,

and it is essential how you choose to focus upon what you choose to focus upon!

The choice is completely yours --

May you choose Peace-fully!



Faithfulness vs. Doubt
In our present society, a "good citizen" adheres to conventional prescriptions of "morality" -- laws, regulations and behaviors which are always in some way fear-based (focused on "fitting in" or "acting appropriately"). As such, these influences lead us to make self-centered choices that invariably cause pain for ourselves and others. Many of us then turn to hoping and praying ("faithfully") that some external force (be it God or the government or luck) will come and rectify those difficult situations for us. This kind of "faith" encourages us to wait to be "rescued"; to abdicate all responsibility for our own happiness; and to submit to a belief system espousing that our regular exposure to "tragedies" is "just the way life is" ...

Awakened Human Beings, on the other hand, use their own intuitive bellwethers of "right" and "wrong" to measure the correctness of their actions. They also accept full responsibility for all that happens with them in their lives. For them to do so consistently, they Faith-fully follow the infallible (albeit quite subtle) guidance of their conscience -- an internal moral compass that always focuses on others’ well-being ahead of any personal "gains." To emulate these brave beings (and attain the same peace with which their courageous actions bless them), we must also choose to act with a resolute belief that our decisions will bring others peace; a complete faith in the "rightness" of our good intentions -- even though we cannot ever be certain that those decisions will manifest the benefits for others that we desire. We simply assume that whatever happens in our lives is "right", and can therefore be used to enhance the overall Harmony (a.k.a. "balance" or "peace") of the Universe. In this way, perfec t Faith encourages us to witness (and indeed, be inspired by) the "Golden Core of Goodness" residing within all of the conscious beings we encounter (regardless of what these beings do or don’t Do) as well as within all the situations that happen "to us" (regardless of whether these happenings bring us pain or pleasure). It is this mentality that allows us to more readily accept, and therefore harmonize with, each and every moment of our lives. It is a primary human challenge to See life as such, and it is our actualization of perfect Faith that enables us to fulfill that Calling ...

"Perfect Faithfulness" is exhibited when you are uncertain as to the effectiveness or "safety" of a particular act of kindness, and yet you choose to be kind anyway. It is your choice to refuse to draw any lines of preconception around what is "possible" in your life and what is not. It is listening with your ears while simultaneously Hearing with your Heart. It is perceiving with your eyes while simultaneously Seeing with your Soul. Perfect Faith is the choice every conscious being has (in every moment anew) to set aside the primitive whims of his/her ego and the self-centered urges of its mind-body. It is the ever-present opportunity to actualize the deeper selflessness resting calmly within us all. It is knowing that the current moment is potentially your last in this lifetime and yet "planting your garden" anyway...

In conclusion, perfect Faith is available only in the present moment, and it is available in every present moment (click here for some practical tips on how to do so). It is all-accepting, and therefore has no enemies. It is the courage to take hold of the kind hand that our True Self extends through the mists of the ego's fears. Perfect Faith enables us to take that hand and follow it, though we cannot see for certain where its path leads. Indeed, our redemption lies not in struggling through our ego’s shadows, but rather in simply taking that all-Loving hand and allowing ourselves to be led through them. If you allow your ego to aim your life's arrows, you might indeed hit the target you desire to hit. And yet, perfect Faith allows you to hit the more potent target that the ego cannot even see. The ego worries about shooting "accurately", and therefore frequently misses, while Faith simply lets "Right Action" fly and paints the target around the arrow wherever it lands.

Remember then, it matters not what you choose to do,

and it is essential to courageously leap into whatever you choose to do!

The choice is completely yours --

May you choose Peace-fully!










Scaughdt Iam
c /o Alexzanna Farms
P.O. Box 62
Wildwood, Georgia 30757
rediscoveringpeace (at) gmail (dot) com