by Alan Cohen –
Hearing myself say those words, I recognized an extremely important lesson for living. When your life starts to labor, it’s time to shift. First gear is designed to get your car going and guide the engine at low levels of revolution. When your car starts to move at higher revolution, first gear is no longer appropriate. You need a different gearing mechanism to take you to higher speeds.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed, overworked or overburdened, you are trying to use a lower gear to drive at higher speed. You need to shift paradigms to navigate the next level. Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem at the level of thinking that created it.” The problem is calling you to see, think and act in a new and more effective way. In that sense, the problem is a gift because it is moving you to a new level of living.
Jesus said, “You cannot put new wine in old wineskins. They will burst.” Trying to go to new places with old ways of getting there will leave you frustrated and beleaguered. A higher gear is available to you if you are willing to use it. Then the motor will say, “Ah, that feels a lot better,” and get you where you want and need to go quickly and easily.
by Alan Cohen –
When to trust God over other people’s opinions.
Like Ben, you may have to be a visionary to make your dreams come true. You may need to see beyond appearances and act in harmony with your beliefs and intentions even if other people do not agree with you or understand you. You may have to trust God more than the opinions of people.
If so, you are in good company. Albert Einstein shocked his students when he announced, “I have not arrived at my understanding of the universe by means of my rational mind.” Rene Descartes, credited as the father of modern science, did not gain his insight through conventional thought. In the midst of a high fever, Descartes had a vision of the formula for the scientific method. Linus Pauling (the only man to win Nobel Prizes in two different categories—Chemistry and Peace) noted, “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”
Outlandish ideas move the world ahead far more rapidly and powerfully than logical steps. Your imagination is the playground in which your prayers mature through joyful exercise. Let your mind dance in a world beyond the obvious, and you will access a cache of treasures that will spark your spirit and lead to success.
Most great inventions and positive social changes are the result of unconventional thinking. While your ideas may seem half-baked to others, they may be fully baked in the mind of God. Do you trust your ideas, intuition, dreams, and visions enough to stay true to them even if you do not receive social approval?
I honor my inner voice.
by Alan Cohen –
1. The path of retaliation. He could dash up the stairs, find the owner of the potted plant, and punch him or chew him out.
2. The victim path. He could see the experience as confirmation that life is dangerous, and things that could hurt him await at every turn. Then he might go home and hide or wear a hard hat for the rest of his life.
3. The stoic path. He could decide, Well, I guess it was my karma for the flowerpot to miss me, and just keep walking.
4. The high road. He could go to the flower shop on the corner, buy another potted plant, knock on the door of the owner of the plant that fell, and tell that person, “You may not know that you lost your plant. I thought you might like a replacement.”
Obviously the high road is the one that will bear the sweetest fruit for everyone concerned. At this moment you stand at a crossroads in your life where you must choose which path you will take. Keep thinking about your options until you discover what your high road is.
What choice now stands before you? What would your high road be? I choose the path that brings the deepest reward to me and everyone concerned.
I always plucked a thistle
and planted a flower when I
thought a flower would grow.
— Abraham Lincoln
While driving home one day, I noticed that someone had posted some cardboard signs along the roadside, leading guests to a party on my street. I live out in the country where there are no city blocks, with many curving roads and irregular intersections.
I saw that the person who had posted the signs, placed them at the crucial intersections. At every important choice point, there was a sign. I drove for long stretches past numerous smaller intersections, where there were no posters. Then, when I again reached a crucial intersection, there was another clear marker.
It occurred to me that this is how Spirit gives us guidance we get signs when we need them. Whenever you arrive at a critical choice point, information shows up to help you decide. If you are not getting a sign, you are probably not at a crucial intersection. That’s the time to just keep going and enjoy the ride. When you are ready to know, you will. If you don’t know, it is not time yet. In the meantime, just breathe, trust, and find the blessing where you are.
If you are seeking direction, pray for guidance. Then let the universe deliver your answer in the right way, place, and time. If, upon completing your prayer, you do not hear a voice boom from heaven, shout your name, and bellow, “This is what you must do!” don’t freak out. Give the Great Spirit a chance to deliver your message when you most need it. It will come.
Guidance often arrives in uncanny and synchronistic ways. I met a fellow who prayed for a sign to help him decide whether or not to accept a promotion that would require him to relocate his home and family to a distant city. Then one night he came home late and saw a “For Sale” sign on his lawn. Since his wife was already sleeping, he did not want to wake her. The next morning he asked her about the sign. “What sign?” she asked him. “The one on the lawn,” he told her. The two walked outside, and no sign was to be found. The fellow deduced that he had indeed been given a sign. He took the job, and the move ultimately turned out to be a success for everyone.
A man at a seminar told me he prayed for direction one morning, and then that afternoon as he walked out of a restaurant, the wind blew a piece of paper against his knees. He picked it up and discovered it was a flyer for my seminar that evening. He attended, and subsequently his life changed.
Another friend decided he wanted to become independently wealthy and retire at a young age. He prayed for help with this project. The next morning when he went out to jog, as he turned a corner he saw a book someone had left on top of a trashcan: Your Money or Your Life. He took the book, read it, and found the wisdom he needed. Now he is well on his way to riches and early retirement.
If you act anxiously to hasten your answer, you inhibit your ability to receive guidance, and delay its arrival. In such a situation your wisest move is to step back from frenetic activity and return to peace. I once needed to find a particular document to resolve a financial snafu. I searched for it nervously, and only grew more confused and frustrated. Finally I realized I was getting nowhere and decided to sit down and meditate to clear my mind. I let go of trying to locate the paper, and relaxed. Toward the end of my meditation, an image popped into my mind, showing me a certain folder toward the rear of a file cabinet. I looked in the folder and there was the document.
I use a very successful method to receive guidance. I call it “The Truth Smoke-Out.” Whenever I am not sure what to do, I say to the universe, “Just show me what I am to do here. I am willing to do whatever is in the best interest of everyone involved. Give me a clue, and I will follow.” Then I release the situation. I give up any preconceived notion about how this is supposed to turn out, and when I am supposed to know. Sometimes the answer comes instantly, and sometimes it takes a while. But it always comes.
In the Greek version of the Bible, the first translation from the original Aramaic, two different words are used for our word “time.” One is chronos, which is equivalent to our understanding of time in seconds, minutes, and hours. The other word is kairos, which can best be translated as “in God’s time” or “at the right time” or “when the time is ripe.” In our culture we are used to living in chronos. But there is an entirely more important element of time, which is timing. That’s kairos. Practice living in kairos, and answers arrive at the perfect time. God is at least as smart as the person who put the signs up for the party.
The profound nature of the cartoon is that the large tomato is ripe to be picked. Of course the plant has to let it go because it has no further purpose on the stalk. If it stays it will rot and die. If it leaves, it will serve its next purpose.
The cartoon is a fabulous metaphor for why and when we need to be let go from a job, relationship, living situation, or any station of life. Life is not cruelly kicking you out of a place you still need to be. It is moving you on to where you really need to be for your joy and the gifts you can offer. You may think you are being cast aside, unfairly treated, or victimized, but there is a far bigger plan unfolding than meets the eye. You have completed your purpose where you have been, and your journey is about to reveal a new vista.. That’s why we have to let you go. The “we” is not your boss or your lover. It is the wise and loving collective universe.
A woman in one of my seminars reported, “Everything I have to let go of, I leave claw marks on.” If you believe there is safety in history, you will cling to the old out of fear. If you trust in the security of destiny, you will embrace the new out of trust. As I noted in an earlier work, it takes courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real safety in what is no longer meaningful. There is more safety in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.
Paramahansa Yogananda advised, “What comes of itself, let it come. What goes of itself, let it go.” If you have to struggle to get something or to hold on to it, you are trying to swim upstream of life. There is a stream of good that flows to you, through you, and around you. When you move with the stream, your good shows up in the right way, place, and time. When you buck the stream you fight to get and fight to hold on. You do not need to fight to hold on to anything that is truly yours. If it is truly yours, it will stay with you by the Law of Attraction and the Right of Consciousness. You own what you own not by manipulation, but by who you are.
When it’s time to let something go, the universe will let you know. If you get laid off, or your landlord sells the house, or your lover leaves, despair not. There is a reason for the change, and something better is in store. The more energy you spend complaining or resisting the change, the harder your transition will be, and the longer it will take for your next good to show up. Define the current change as good and helpful, and your next rewarding position will appear more quickly, easily, and naturally.
I recently saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the movie fable about a man who is born old and grows younger over time. To be honest, during most of the movie I wondered, “And the point is?” Yet upon thinking about it, I realized there is a good point to be extracted, although in my opinion the filmmakers spent a couple of extra hours to make it. As an old man, Benjamin meets and falls in love with a little girl, but their huge age difference prevents them from having a relationship. As Benjamin grows younger and she grows older, the time comes when they are the same age, and the two have a glorious love affair. As he continues to grow younger and she older, they are drawn apart again. The apex of the movie is their thrilling love affair at the right time.
While the movie plays on the sadness of the two lovers being torn apart by time, it takes a narrow view of reality. Like many gut-wrenching romances, it suggests there is one perfect soulmate for you, whom you can enjoy for a moment, but then some evil circumstance will wrest them from you and you must muddle in the pits of despair for the rest of your life. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is true that good things come and go, and no one of them lasts forever. But what the Button movie and other romances do not tell you is that when one glorious experience ends, another one begins. To think there is one moment of good for you in your life, and when it’s gone, it’s gone, is to see the universe through incredibly narrow blinders. Life is more like a square dance or a Sufi dance where you enjoy one connection for a while, and then you move on to another great one.
So when your lover or the plant says, “We have to let you go,” do not interpret the event as loss. Interpret the event as “ripe.” While in the physical world a tomato is ripe once for one purpose, as a spiritual being you have an infinite array and procession of ripenesses for many different purposes that go on literally forever, each more fulfilling than the last. Sure, there are layoffs at the plant. But the plant of life has roots that spread far beyond the stem the eyes can see.
How Lucky Can You Get?
by Alan Cohen –
“That’s amazing!” I replied. “How long did it take you to find them?”
“About fifteen minutes,” she answered.
I was astounded. If you have every searched for four-leaf clovers, you have likely found perhaps one or two in a fifteen-minute stint. She found 150!
The answer has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with belief, expectation, motivation, intention and focus.
While many ascribe the results of their efforts to luck, fate, karma, astrological influences, and a gamut of external sources, experience is determined more by consciousness than any other factor. The artist I described is so immersed in four-leaf clover consciousness that the clovers show up practically everywhere she looks.
You, too, are finding plenty of what you are looking for.
You can change what you are getting by shifting your attention to objects you truly value.
I met a woman who had been told by a doctor that she had six months to live. She went home and decided that if she wanted to live, she would have to entirely change the way she was thinking about her life. So she switched from resistance to flow; from disdain to appreciation; and from fear to trust. That was many years ago. Her disease disappeared and health found its rightful place in her world.
Thomas Jefferson declared, “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I have.” I would replace the “hard work” phrase with, “the more I focus my consciousness on success.” Have you noticed that people who have bad luck seem to keep having it? And people who have good luck seem to keep having it? That’s because those with bad luck keep focusing on the bad, and those who have good luck keep focusing on the good. If people with bad luck started to focus on the good, their “luck” would change.
In an episode of the Northern Exposure television series, Shelly received a chain letter promising that if she sent a copy of the letter to five friends within the next day, her entire life would change for the better. So she mailed the letters, and immediately good things started to happen to her. Unexpected money showed up, she met a nice man, and she felt great. The letter worked!
A few days later Shelly returned to the post office, where the postmaster handed her the letters and informed her that he could not dispatch them because they had insufficient postage. Stunned, Shelley declared, “Maybe I’m in charge of my own life after all. ”
In the Bible we are told that we are created in the image and likeness of God.
How many four leaf clovers are out there?