self-hug

Today we ask you to embrace yourself as you are.

Embrace yourself as you are.

Let go of trying to be someone else.

Embrace yourself as you are.

Embrace your body as it is.

Embrace your size, your shape. Embrace the age of your body. Embrace whatever discomfort you may feel in your body today.

Just accept it as it is today.

Of course it is good to cultivate health, to work on creating health in your body.

But health is not possible if you do not accept your body. If you do not embrace your body, you will never be healthy — no matter how much you may exercise, or how pure your diet may be.

So please embrace your body as it is in this moment.

This one action is more powerful than all the work on exercise or diet.

Just accept it as it is today.

And thank your body for all that is good within it.

If your body did not function at a high degree of perfection, you would not be reading these words.

Think of all the things that your body must do in any given moment in order to sustain your life.

Embrace all that is good about your body today.

Embrace all that is good about yourself today.

Whatever you consider your “self” to be — embrace that.

Just accept your “self.”

Whatever your identity is at the present moment, whatever your mind thinks it is, whatever your mind is up to — embrace that.

And it is of course fine to work on your “self,” to cultivate a healthier “self.”

But true self-realization is not possible if you cannot embrace yourself as you are today.

No matter how much you work on becoming a “better person,” however you may define that — you cannot ever attain that without embracing yourself right now, today, in this moment.

Just accept yourself, whoever you believe you are, today.

Appreciate yourself. Look at how far you’ve come, and all that your mind does in any given day. Even if you believe that you are not accomplishing anything, still just look at all that the “self” is doing. This mind of yours, this identity. It is always learning and absorbing. It is always engaged in highly complex actions, even when it does not appear to be doing much.

Brushing your teeth, doing the dishes — these are highly complex actions. A baby cannot do these things. A cat cannot do these things. You may even be able to drive a car while your mind is thinking about other things. Consider how complex that is!

Embrace this. Embrace this wonderfully complex “self,” this mind, at work.

Embrace your life as it is today.

Embrace your reality as it is today.

Even if there are many things you dislike about your reality. Can you just embrace your life?

You will never make your world a better place if you reject life as it is today. It is not possible.

Only people who love and embrace life have any hope of creating a more harmonious world.

There have always been plenty of life-hating people who try to fix and save the world. Terrorists are such people. Hitler was such a person.

You cannot help the world if you don’t love life, as it is, today.

So embrace life as it is.

Embrace the trees, the sky, all that sustains and nourishes you.

Embrace the animals, embrace the children.

Embrace your fellow humans, even if this is challenging. They are all doing their best. Truly this is so. There is a lot of fear and ignorance. Judging others will do no good, and will not help anything or anyone.

Everyone does their best with the limited awareness they possess in any given moment. You do, too.

Accept this. Embrace it.

With this embrace comes a deep peace.

Your body will feel it. Your “self” will feel it. The world around you will feel it.

It’s good to receive a hug, isn’t it? It’s good to feel accepted and loved as you are.

Everyone feels better with a hug.

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trust the flow of life

Today we ask that you trust the flow of life.

Trust the flow of life.

Everywhere you look when it comes to life, you perceive rhythms and tides.

Spring, winter, summer, fall.

Day and night.

The waxing and waning of the moon.

The rising and falling tides.

Life is born. Life dies.

That is how it is, in your reality. It is a reality defined by changing states.

There are many causes of mental suffering for humans. But one of the greatest causes of such suffering is the human tendency to cling to that which must inevitably pass.

If you live long enough, you will grow old, and die. This is true for everything in a physical body. It is inescapable.

Babies are born, grow into children, become adolescents, and then adults. It is inescapable.

It is natural to feel grief when things change and pass away. It is natural to feel sadness when things come to an end.

But with every ending, comes a new beginning.

And so the healthy human being does not linger too long in that which has already passed. Or worse, cling to or attempt to prolong states which desperately need to pass.

A parent cannot keep his child a baby. Attempting to do so will harm the child.

When someone is very sick or elderly, prolonging life past the point of any joy is harmful.

When an aging man or woman tries to artificially maintain youth, this is harmful.

Clinging to relationships that have reached their natural end is harmful.

The day cannot stop the night. Summer cannot stop the fall and winter.

Acceptance of this is not only wisdom, but the key to peace.

The most miserable people in all the world are those who cling to a past that is long dead and gone. The aging person bitter over lost youth. The parent who cannot accept that his child has grown up. The person clinging to a relationship that ended years ago.

If you wish to be miserable, that is the way to live.

If you wish for peace in this life, you must find a better way.

The happiest people in the world are those who embrace reality as it is. Those who embrace change.

Such people still experience sadness and grief over loss and passing. But — they do not linger there. They do not cling.

Life is a book with many chapters. When a chapter ends, that does not mean the book is over. It means it is time to begin a new chapter.

Youth, middle age, old age — these are just different chapters of life. Each one has its dramas, its highs and lows.

While people tend to believe that youth is superior to old age, in practice this is not necessarily so. Many young people are terribly unhappy. Many people find more peaceful minds with maturity. Nothing is fixed.

One of the main things to learn in this lifetime is how to let go gracefully.

This is not an easy skill to master. It requires a great deal of practice.

Children have a very hard time letting go of things: toys, food, turning off the TV show. They feel loss very acutely, often over things that are quite trivial, from an adult perspective.

One of the best things a parent can do is model for children how to let go of things, even when there is sadness.

Letting go is a practice, and an art. It does not come naturally. It is an acquired skill.

You acquire this skill only when you make a conscious effort to acquire this skill.

This may happen when, at last, you decide that you do not want to experience so much mental suffering triggered by the inability to let go of things.

So practice this skill in your daily life. Find little ways to let things go. The dispute with the co-worker. The need to possess this or that thing. The need to win something or prove something.

If you acquire skill at letting go of the little things, you will be much better equipped when it is time to let go of the big things.

One chapter ends, another begins. One book is over. Time to start a new book.

If you wish to experience peace in this life, this is a good place to begin.

simple meal

Today we ask that you simplify your life.

Simplify your life.

Most people feel that they would like their lives to be more simple. Yet they feel that this is hopeless. Life is too complicated, and it is getting more complicated all the time.

But simplifying one’s life is not complicated. It is challenging — but not complicated.

The main thing that makes life feel complicated for people is the modern habit of “multitasking.” That is, modern humans are chronically distracted, and trying to do too many things at once.

When you think of a simple meal, what do you think of? A few good things served on a plate. Nourishing food, that will go down well in your belly. Food that won’t give you indigestion.

A complicated meal might involve many courses, and many things to eat. It might be a gourmet meal, or a meal with many different competing flavors. Very likely such a meal will leave you feeling overfull — it is difficult to digest such a meal.

That is what life is like for many people. A complicated meal, with many competing flavors. There may be moments of pleasure as you eat, but in the end, there is indigestion.

It is fine to eat a complicated meal every so often. But if it is all you eat — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — then it will compromise your health.

So how to make life more simple, more nourishing, more easily digested?

Simplify what’s on your plate. Eat less. What you do eat, make nourishing.

Most people protest that it is impossible to simplify life. Their work is too demanding, family life is too demanding, etc. 

Certainly work and family are part of a balanced meal for many people.

But what about all the extra courses and flavors? What about all the colorful distractions — the constant checking of phones and computers, the constant absorption of information? These things can be reduced.

Do you really need to do all the things that you do? It is one thing if you have plenty of energy to do these things. Then there is no problem. But if you are exhausted and stressed, it might be time to take a close look at all the things sitting on your plate.

Look at the things you do as if they were food. Does what you do nourish you?

Another way to simplify life is to be present in what you are doing.

If you are at work, be at work.

If you are with your family, be with your family.

If you are cooking a meal, cook the meal.

Focus on what you are doing right now. Be there. Don’t let your mind wander in twenty different directions at once. Just do what you are doing.

People think, oh, nothing will get accomplished if I don’t multitask.

But in reality, nothing much gets accomplished when you do multitask.

A truly focused, present human can get a great deal accomplished in relatively little time.

A distracted human takes a lot of time to do little. There’s just too much food on the plate.

So simplifying one’s life is possible.

Really it just means breaking the addictive habits of chronic distraction, multitasking, and over-scheduling. It is challenging to break these addictive habits, but it can be done.

The first step is recognizing that chronic distraction, multitasking, and over-scheduling are addictive, destructive habits — not just the thing that everyone does and calls modern life.

Chronic distraction, multitasking, and over-scheduling are not givens. They are a part of the current cultural conditions — the societal mores of your time. In the past, cultural conditions promoted such things as the morality of owning slaves, or the healthy properties of cigarettes. From a modern point of view, you can see these things were destructive. But they were normal, in their time. 

Therefore, it is wise to question the prevailing cultural conditions of the time that you inhabit. What may seem “normal” to most people now will be looked at by future generations as destructive and unhealthy.

Simplify what’s on your plate. Let what you eat in this life be nourishing.

have patience with the process of human evolution

Today we ask that you have patience with the pace of human evolution.

Have patience with the pace of human evolution.

Many people live in a state of chronic frustration with the pace of human evolution. It is not happening fast enough. How can so many people still hold on to backwards, reactionary belief systems? How is there is still so much bigotry and violence in the world of men? How can people be so blindly greedy and destructive?

It is natural to feel this way at times. But really, humanity has come a long way — much further than you may think.

100 years, 200 years, even 500 years — this span of time is quite small, in the scheme of human evolution. Many of the problems you reckon with today are roughly the same problems your ancestors reckoned with in the past few centuries.

And yet: the world just a mere 200 years ago was once in which there was virtually no understanding of “human rights.” The vast majority of humans, 200 years ago, believed that women were simple-minded and weak, that dark-skinned races were inherently inferior and subhuman, and that homosexuality was an abomination. Even highly educated, relatively enlightened men believed these things a mere 200 years ago.

Just a century ago, it was not much better. Progress had been made, to be sure. But still, the majority of humans believed that heterosexual males of rank and status, with culturally desirable skin color, were intrinsically superior to all other humans. It was perfectly commonplace and socially acceptable to hold such beliefs — anywhere in the world. 

100 years is so very little time. In the grand sweep of history, it is nothing. It is the blink of an eye.

The world you now reside in is more tolerant and compassionate in the field of human rights than any history. Enormous strides have been made.

Yes, much of the world still struggles with widespread bigotry and violence. Yes, even in the most progressive, developed nations, there are large reactionary factions and forces. But that is because it was only yesterday — twenty years, fifty years, one hundred years — that points of view you may consider to be backwards and barbaric were, in fact, the mainstream social norm. 

So have patience. Have patience with the process of human evolution. It may appear to be slow, but in truth the progress of the past century has been exceptionally fast. The very speed of this evolution is, in fact, what is so deeply threatening to those who try to cling to the past and wish to roll the clock back.

Most of these changes cannot be rolled back no matter how much reactionary forces may attempt to do so. This is because they have reached a “critical mass.” There is no turning back.

Have patience, also, with your own individual pace of evolution.

Many people are chronically frustrated that they are not evolving more quickly.

You wish to be better, more enlightened versions of yourselves, free of all your hang-ups and fears — and you want to be that person today. You want to have been that person yesterday, ten years ago.

Honor your own process of evolution. Instead of being frustrated that you have not come far enough, appreciate how far you have come.

Instead of being frustrated that collective humanity has not come far enough, appreciate how far it has come.

In this state of appreciation, with a patient heart, you will be in a far better position to create positive change in the world — and in your own life.

you require no further improvement

Today we ask that you be at peace with who you are right now in this moment.

Be at peace with who you are right now.

Many people are very obsessed with the idea of “self-improvement.” They read books and attend classes, all with the aim of “self-improvement.”

And there is nothing wrong with this. 

Growth and learning are natural processes. Every baby born arrives with a powerful instinct to “self-improve.”

So it is good and fine to want to learn and grow.

The problem arises with not being at peace with who you are right now in this moment.

A baby is at peace with who he is right now in this moment, even as the whole thrust of his energy is directed toward rapid learning and growth.

But adults obsessed with self-improvement tend not to be at peace with who they are.

Instead, they wish they were the “improved” versions of themselves right now.

They imagine that if they just “improved” enough, they would arrive at a place of great success and recognition. And all their life problems would be solved.

More spiritually minded people may believe that if they simply “improved” enough, they would reach a state of enlightenment. And all their life problems would be solved.

Watch out for this kind of thinking.

It is good to embrace opportunities to learn and grow and experience reality in new ways. That is in alignment with the flow of life.

But if you believe that there is an end point to this process, you will be frustrated.

If any part of you yearns to arrive at a place where you are so “improved” that you will face no further challenges, you will be frustrated.

If you are angry at yourself because you did not “improve” sufficiently in the past — watch out for this kind of thinking.

People in your culture are very obsessed with icons of “success”: billionaires, athletic champions, celebrities, and so on. Famous people are held in the highest esteem. Everyone should aspire to be a rich, celebrated, successful “winner.”

Much “self-improvement” is therefore directed toward this very narrow goal.

But really this is not useful. In fact, such thinking can be terribly destructive.

It is fine in life to want things, have goals, and work toward them, while learning and growing in the process.

But if you believe that true success in life means being a billionaire, a sports champion, a famous celebrity, a Nobel Prize winner, or even a well-known “enlightened guru”… then in all likelihood you will remain a miserable person, no matter how much you try to “improve.”

Learn and grow in ways that bring you peace of mind.

Learn and grow to love yourself in the present moment.

The world truly doesn’t need another famous person.

Be at home in yourself. Be at ease with who you are right now.

A peaceful person brings peace to the world.

By all means, improve yourself. But be clear about your motives. Watch your thoughts. Notice if “self-improvement” brings you joy, or misery.

Just pay attention.

Learn and grow from a place of self-love.

you deserve good things

Today we ask that you know that you deserve good things.

You deserve life’s goodness.

It does not matter what you did or did not do in the past.

It does not matter if you made “mistakes,” or if you were “not living up to your potential.” It does not matter if you made unwise decisions, or entered into destructive relationships. It does not matter if you squandered good opportunities, or acted foolishly.

None of that matters.

Let all of that go.

You deserve good things. You deserve to experience the goodness of life.

Other people deserve good things. Other people deserve to experience the goodness of life.

Just because one person has good things, should not deprive another person of good things.

“Good things” are generally not the things that the ego desires — status, proving superiority over others, and so on. Status always comes at the cost of someone else.

“Good things” are love, joy, and good feelings about life itself. Experiencing these things does not come at the cost of someone else.

Everyone deserves to feel love, joy, and good feelings about life. Every baby born deserves to feel love, joy, and good feelings about life.

You deserve to feel love, joy, and good feelings about life. It does not matter what you did or didn’t do. It does not matter if you have been a “bad” person. It does not matter if you’ve made a lot of “mistakes.”

You deserve to feel love, joy, and good feelings about life.

These feelings can only arise in the present moment.

Thinking about your past — this will not give you those feelings.

Thinking about your future — this will not give you those feelings.

You deserve good things. You deserve to feel love and joy. And you can only feel those things now. Not in the future. Not after you attain whatever it is you think you need in order to be happy.

You deserve good things today. You deserve love and joy now.

You do not need to do a single thing in order to deserve love and joy.

You deserve it right now.

Many people go around demanding things from the universe.

They demand money, they demand success, they demand recognition. There is nothing wrong with those things. But sometimes those things are wrapped up in the human ego’s need for status and superiority — which always comes at someone else’s expense.

Love and joy in the present moment do not come at anyone else’s expense.

So if you are going to demand anything from the universe, demand love and joy — now.

Do not demand love that really is just needing someone else to tell you that you are worth something.

Demand love that arises in the present moment. Demand love now.

There is love all around you, if you have the capacity to receive it.

The tree outside loves you. The coffee cup loves you. Your body loves you. The sun loves you. The sky loves you. The birds love you.

And you deserve that love. You deserve that love.

Likewise, the tree deserves love. The coffee cup deserves love. Your body deserves love. The sun deserves love. The sky deserves love. The birds deserve love.

If you feel that, and sense that, and live from that place — then you will have all the good things that you require.

there-are-no-mistakesToday we ask you to sit with the idea that there are no mistakes in reality.

There are no mistakes in reality.

There are no mistakes. There are no errors.

What does this mean?

It means that nothing that has ever happened, is happening now, or will happen in the future — nothing is a mistake. Nothing is an error. Nothing “should not be.”

There is nothing harder for a human to fully accept than this idea. And yet when it is accepted, it means the end of almost all mental suffering that humans experience.

So let’s just look at it.

There are no mistakes, errors, or accidents in reality. Nothing happens that was not meant to happen. There is nothing that has ever existed, that exists now, or that will exist in the future that should not be.

The human mind cries out against this. Reality, to most humans, is an endless parade of mistakes and errors. There are countless things that never should have happened. There are countless things that should not be happening right now. And one can only sit in hopeless dread of all the terrible mistakes that will happen in the future.

This kind of thinking is the cause of the vast majority of mental suffering that humans experience.

Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes! This went wrong, and that went wrong. All the mistakes your parents made, all the mistakes other people made, all the mistakes you made. All the mistakes God made. Most people carry around long lists of mistakes, and read these lists over and over in their minds like a liturgy.

And in so doing they fall into misery and despair.

For how can you ever be happy, with all of these mistakes in reality? Even if you are doing okay in life — one mistake, and it’s all over!

So you must forever be on guard against making mistakes, constantly vigilant. And even then — through no fault of your own, some terrible error may occur. The car accident, the natural disaster, the economic collapse, the terminal illness. Make no mistake: sooner or later you will be the victim of some awful mistake, if you haven’t been already.

For some people, life is just one mistake after another.

This is not to minimize the serious traumatic events that befall people. There is war, violence, oppression, grief, and terrible loss. And it is hard — almost impossible — to believe that such things are not mistakes and errors.

It is best, when sitting with this idea, not to focus on extreme cases of human brutality and loss.

Rather it is more useful to focus on more mundane mistakes. All the little things that happen to you that seem wrong, that provoke outrage and a sense of injustice. 

When children are young, so many things seem like mistakes. Not getting the treat, not getting to watch the movie, having to go to bed by a particular time, eating the vegetables, cleaning up your mess — all these things, to a child, are mistakes. They are worthy of outrage and tantrums.

As children get older, the tantrums continue. Now you like the girl or boy who doesn’t return the affection, or you wish you looked different, or you wish your parents had more money. Reality isn’t doing what you want, and all these things seem like mistakes.

Adults are no different: forever craving things they do not have, outraged by all the mistakes in life. It is very possible for a middle class person in a developed country, who has never dealt with true oppression or hardship, to go through life feeling like a victim of tragic injustice. Petty grievances rule people’s lives, and they live and die in misery — even when, by certain standards, their lives are quite comfortable.

This happens because people believe there are mistakes in reality.

It is not uncommon for a poor villager in an impoverished country to feel more inner peace and clarity than the well-fed person in the developed nation.

When people have a sense of faith, meaning, and purpose — when they believe even in the possibility of a deeper intelligence at the heart of reality — then this inures them to life’s challenges to some degree.

People still face loss and grief, faith will always be challenged. But even to be open to the possibility of a deeper wisdom at the heart of reality, one that does not make mistakes… this is the beginning of true peace, true freedom. 

There is a power at the heart of reality. It is so vast that it cannot ever be grasped by the human mind.

You are a part of it, and it is a part of you.

It does not make mistakes. It does not play dice with the universe.

Nothing in reality is harder than believing this, in the face of all the evidence against it. Nothing is harder than true faith.

Paradoxically, if this awareness penetrates every part of you — life gets very simple, and relatively easy.

So just try it on for size one day.

What if you went through your day with the belief that “There are no mistakes in reality.”

What if every news story that provokes outrage were met with this belief?

What if all your daily struggles were met with this belief?

Nothing is a mistake. Nothing is an error. Whatever is happening, is supposed to be happening. Wherever you are, that is where you are supposed to be.

This will run counter to human nature. It may seem wrong, unnatural, uncaring, blind, stupid, and naive.

But just try it on.

Every war ever fought was fought by someone who believed there were mistakes in reality. Every act of murder and terrorism is committed by someone who believes there are mistakes in reality. 

Trusting in a deeper wisdom will not make you passive or inactive. Far from it.

If you struggle a great deal in life, and yearn for peace — look here.

If people trusted the deep wisdom of reality, and did not believe in mistakes, there would be no wars, no violence.