A Path with No Steps

Photograph © 2019 Peggy Kornegger
“There is no way to peace.
Peace is the way.
­—A.J. Muste

If you pick up a magazine or scroll through the internet these days, it’s likely you’ll encounter some kind of self-help article or program that features 4 Steps, 6 Ways, or 7 Secrets to magically make your life “work.” Instant wealth, health, peace of mind, and the perfect soul mate are yours if you just follow the streamlined advice provided. Even experiencing God can be reduced to a checklist of actions or strategies. Like this recent article I ran across online: “How to Find God: The Five Ways.” Really? God? Aren’t we losing something in this pared-down process?

The deepest experiences of life and God can’t be translated into short summation paragraphs. There is no Dummy’s Guide to the Cosmos (or if there is, there shouldn’t be). No fast lane to divine connection or a peaceful life. It is within awareness itself that God and peace are found. And awareness arises from slowing down and being present in each moment. The only action necessary is breathing consciously. When you pause and relax into the slow eternal rhythm of your own breath, you align perfectly with the center of your being, where peace and spirit always reside. And where the answer to every life question you could possibly ask resides.

It’s true that there are wise spiritual teachers who can share their insights and inspire and support you on your life journey. Ultimately, however, we ourselves hold the key to our enlightenment, our own magnificent and unique lives. The light of divine connection and truth shines in our hearts; we just haven’t opened to fully and continuously experiencing it yet. But that day is dawning. In fact, it is already here. We are more ready than we have ever been to recognize and honor our own inner guidance, flowing with infinite possibilities. You can sometimes jump-start your evolution and growth with a self-help agenda or teacher, but going forward, rely on yourself—your soul self—for the full expansive flowering of your life on Earth. Only you can realize and live that completely.

So don’t look outside yourself for ways or steps to find God, peace of mind, or fulfillment in your life. Look within. It can’t be found in a list of how-to tips. It’s encoded in your genes; it lives inside your soul. You have wisdom beyond your wildest dreams at your very core. You came into this life with a blueprint that wordlessly guides you even when you think you have no idea what is going on. It can even take you to self-help articles just to show you that ultimately you know better than anyone else how your life is meant to unfold and how to open your heart to God. Trust your intuition and the spirit that lives within you. That is the path with no steps.

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The Universal Heart

Photograph © 2019 by Peggy Kornegger
The heart of the universe extends outward energetically through every dimension of Being in the cosmos. That heartbeat is the vibrational source of the manifest world. Every star, every birdsong, every blade of grass, every human emotion vibrates with a universal pulse of life energy, the expression of absolute love many call God. Our own human heartbeat mirrors this divine process. With every rhythmic beat, our hearts pulse the love at our core into the world around us. That pulse connects human hearts around the globe, whether we recognize it or not. The time has come to recognize it.

Each goosebump, teardrop, deep breath, note of music, cat’s purr, and firefly’s light embodies God’s essence. You couldn’t escape that immanent presence even if you tried. You can, however, live your life unconscious of it. Our life purpose, we humans on planet Earth at this transformational time, is to become fully aware of the sacred source energy within us and all around us. To know with every part of us that there is nothing and no one that is not God. This deeply spiritual (and deeply human) process encompasses every facet of life.

Huge leaps in consciousness are being asked of us. This is a time unlike any other that has come before. We are starseeds standing at the edge of the cosmos reaching into infinity. We are lifting curtains and clearing out past histories so that we can fully and consciously embody spirit in our human forms, something that has historically been achieved only by enlightened spiritual masters. Now we are all becoming masters and avatars and recognizing one another as such. The deeper we look into each other’s eyes, the more we see the entire cosmos reflected back to us in all its shining splendor.

So what does this mean in our frequently distracted daily lives? It means that we will increasingly have experiences of seeing whomever we are interacting with as an essential part of the human family, not unlike ourselves. In shared moments of great sorrow or great joy, we recognize our commonality. We see the gossamer thread of spirit that connects us at the soul level and the love that joins our hearts. In those moments, separation, division, and judgment fall away, and we relax into peaceful presence. Thus is peace on Earth initiated, one individual soul at a time. When we softly breathe into our similarities instead of tightly hanging onto our differences, the entire planet shifts. God recognizing God.

The universal heartbeat animates life on Earth and throughout the cosmos. That living pulse permeates every aspect of our lives. Our cells are made of the same stuff as the stars we gaze at in the night skies. The light of the sun is the light in our own eyes. We are all connected, in every possible way, because the entire universe is of a piece: a divine creation that allows spirit, or God, to experience itself in form. We are that form. As Joni Mitchell once wrote, “We are stardust, we are golden.” In moments of inspired connection, we can see this with such clarity that our awareness expands to include the farthest stretches of the universe, and we know it as ourselves. We see the One that became Many which is now recognizing itself as One. What a miraculous time to be alive.

 

Practice…and Beyond

Photograph © 2019 Peggy Kornegger
Remember the old joke about the tourist asking directions in New York? “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice, practice.” That answer could also be given to the spiritual question “How do I get to the enlightened state?” Practice—a lifelong commitment to finding peace of mind and God. Your practice becomes your life, and vice versa. And yet it is not until the practice softens and becomes a relaxed inner flowering rather than a rigid outer striving that everything shifts. The virtuoso pianist and the devoted meditator discover the sound and light within them, not on an external stage or altar. Carnegie Hall and enlightenment are not destinations; they are experiences.

Only when we let go of the need to arrive somewhere do we find that what we were looking for existed already, right in front of us. Dorothy traveled over the rainbow to Oz only to realize that “Home” was in the faces of those she loved…and in her own heart. The enlightened state, too, appears to be over some distant rainbow, yet what if it exists inside us? We only have to deepen our awareness to feel its expansive presence. This deepening is the softer sense of practice, the spiritual sense.

Growing up, we are taught that if we practice enough, we will achieve whatever we focus on with intent and purpose. Practice is seen as a repetitive routine that leads to a specific goal, like playing a musical instrument well. This meaning has a certain truth; if we practice anything diligently enough, we can achieve proficiency. But there is a step beyond proficiency that can only be reached by an almost indescribable surrender wherein we become the music (or the meditation) itself. In spirituality, diligent meditating does not necessarily lead to enlightenment. Ultimately we have to let go of trying and open to something greater than ourselves. In this opening, practice falls away, and there is only spirit. The experience and the experiencer are one.

When you come to realize that you are, as Adyashanti put it, “seeking God with [God’s] eyes,” then awareness literally opens your eyes to the truth of who you are. Beyond practice is grace, in music or in spirituality. You become one with the flow of life, and you begin to flow yourself, whatever you are doing. You see the divine light within you that is reflected in the world around you. In every person and in every thing. This is enlightenment. A state of being, not a state of practicing.

Master musicians and spiritual masters share one attribute: connection. They are connected to something greater than themselves, and that is what lifts them into a state of pure being—oneness with music or oneness with God. This is the future of all of us who were born on the planet at this time. Our destiny is to softly step beyond the edges of practice into a life of awakened presence: spirit embodied in form, fully aware of both our humanity and our divinity. In any given moment, we can shift our awareness into this peaceful space of expansive perception. It’s not as difficult as it may seem. It just takes practice…and then letting go of practice.

 

Are You Twins?

Photograph © 2019 Peggy Kornegger
My partner/wife Anne and I have been together 36 years, married 5 years. During that time, we have been present to many changes in consciousness about and reactions to LGBTQ people. It is a time of great expansion on this planet. At the moment, it can feel like everything is going backwards, but it’s really just the rising and falling of waves of change. Awareness is definitely continuing to open and flower, even in the most unexpected places.

As a couple, Anne and I have experienced one particularly humorous reaction/interaction over the years that has repeated itself in place after place, with slight variations. After looking at us curiously for a moment, complete strangers will ask either “Are you twins?” or “Are you sisters?” When we say “no,” their faces register disbelief. This was especially true 30 years ago when the general public had little awareness about same-sex couples.

On one occasion, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, two individuals came into a store just to ask if we were twins. We found this particularly funny because we were in the midst of a conversation with the storeowner who was asking the same thing! When this kind of inquiry first began to happen, we said little other than “no” (especially while traveling) because acts of hatred and violence against those in the LGBTQ community were not uncommon, and we knew we had to be cautious in what we revealed to strangers. Anne would often divert the conversation by saying that she had a twin brother.

As the gay/lesbian rights movement grew over the years and more and more people courageously came out in their lives, a dramatic shift in the collective consciousness began to occur. In May 2004, Massachusetts (where we lived at the time) became the first state to allow legal marriages of same-sex couples. State after state followed. In 2013, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down, and it became legal at the federal level. Thousands joyfully flew rainbow flags throughout the nation, and rainbow lights even graced the White House. It became much more commonplace for people to recognize a same-sex couple when they saw one, particularly in Massachusetts.

Today, of course, negative opinions about LGBTQ individuals and anyone else considered “different” are re-surfacing, all fed by fear. But those on the receiving end of these attitudes are not turning back and becoming invisible, even in the face of threats, anger, and violence. Acceptance and love has entered the collective conversation at the national and international level, and that is a genie that cannot be returned to the bottle.

When Anne and I married in 2014, we were surrounded by those who loved us, and waves of love radiated out from all of those present in the most magical of ways. We continue to live in that radiance in spite of whatever divisiveness is playing out in the national media and in the underside of public consciousness. Our openness about being who we are has been tested recently as we moved from Massachusetts to Florida, a state historically not known for its support of LGBTQ rights. We didn’t know what to expect, but we have been pleasantly surprised so far.

Yes, there have been replays of the “twins” conversation, but sweet ones. In January, we were celebrating our 36th anniversary at the local botanical garden. As we stood waiting to enter, a woman next to us struck up a conversation, and soon that familiar series of questions began: “Are you twins?” “No.” “Sisters?” “No” “Oh, just really good friends then?” At this point, I said: “We’re married—5 years. And today we’re celebrating 36 years together.” The woman immediately responded, “That’s wonderful! Congratulations!” And the woman next to her echoed, “Congratulations!” with a big smile on her face. The man beside her wished us a “Happy Anniversary.” Smiles all around.

Assumptions, yours or mine, can separate us from each other. I’m finding that you can never assume anything about someone else’s beliefs or lifestyle. You just have to be willing to be yourself and to hold love in your heart. Generally, that is what you will receive in return. Just yesterday, we had a mini-replay of the above conversation, and when the woman heard we had been together 36 years, her face lit up and her eyes softened with tears as she looked back and forth at us. “That’s so wonderful and so unusual for anyone to stay together that long. You are blessed.” Yes, we are. And may such blessings as these multiply and circle the globe, filling every heart with limitless love.

A World Without Marketing

Photograph © 2019 Peggy Kornegger
“Imagine no possessions.
I wonder if you can…”
—John Lennon

Marketing drives our world today. Everything from political candidates to clothing to cars and cell phones is presented to us through a filter of manipulative images and languaging. True needs (supporting life) have been replaced with artificial needs (unnecessary, even detrimental, to our lives). What would the world be like without marketing? Some economists say it would fall apart, no longer driven by false monetary incentives. I don’t believe it.

In much of the Western world, possessions rule daily life. From the time we are born, toys and playthings are dangled endlessly in front of us. Artificially created cravings begin very early. And now that smartphones are often in the hands of very young children, this trend is intensifying. Yet alongside all these distractions is a movement for conscious awareness and simplicity that is becoming more wide-spread.

There is a new consciousness emerging on the planet, one that sees energy as the force behind every thought, interaction, and event in the universe. Positive energy uplifts and moves us forward in our lives with open hearts and open hands, centered in our own inner peace. Negative energy freezes us in place with closed hearts and closed hands, yet always anxiously longing for something else. Positive energy is dynamic and reciprocal; it brings people together in sharing and love. Negative energy pits people against one another and promotes material goods to fill the subsequent holes in their lives.

As people choose simpler lifestyles and are more mindful of global connections and interdependencies, this positive energy flows out to the collective and gradually shifts consciousness. Recycling, reuse, and repurposing are now in the public vocabulary. Many people make donations rather than buy physical presents at holidays. They volunteer at food banks, homeless shelters, or nature sanctuaries throughout the year. The circle of life and generosity extends energetically beyond a few to include the many.

The marketing mentality tells us that selling, whether objects or ourselves, is the baseline for survival in this world. Out of this approach arises written or spoken language that manipulates consciousness to “buy” what is being promoted, whether it’s a T-shirt, a pizza, a drug, or a person with a skill or service. Nothing is real in the world of marketing. It’s usually targeted to specific audiences to create a buying magnet that is irresistible. And often even when we know we are being manipulated, we buy into it anyway! That’s how powerful that particular kind of energy is.

It takes continuous awareness to resist the siren call of the marketers of the world and choose another path. One centered in authenticity, integrity, and the common good. It is entirely possible to present information about life-sustaining products and services with honesty and simple truth. We need to support those who do so and turn away from those who use false hyperbole to promote the accumulation of possessions.

All of us on this planet can live deeply fulfilling lives without poverty, deprivation, or suffering anywhere. We don’t really need houses full of the latest items trending in the popular media. Those things don’t bring lasting happiness and peace of mind anyway. So why not give up the illusory solo quest for “having it all” and choose instead sharing it all. And being it all. Meaning, being rich in spirit, in kindness, in caring. In friendship, in love, in sister/brotherhood. These are the true jewels in the treasure chest of life on Earth.