One of the keys to recovering our True Self is an intimate relationship with a Higher Power of our own understanding. What ever name you prefer: Higher Power, Great Spirit, The Lord, or simply The Force, all are good. One excellent reference is the "Infinite" because different names allow differences, but there is only one Infinite, so we all share it.
There are many choices, so find what works for you to access your own personal and Higher Power. At Cowboy Dharma we are comfortable with them all so switch around a bit just to keep it fresh and lively. The name God carries a lot of baggage so many avoid it, but it does seems a fitting name, as it infers infinite power, presence, and wisdom.
The alternative is a big, dumb, random universe. Personally, we find creation too complex, diverse, and intelligent for that to be true. There appears to be a divine force that manifested this awesome and incredible drama of creation and life to emerge, expand, and thrive through-out the ages. Also you, everyone, and everything is a microcosm of that macrocosm. We have it all within us, this same power, presence, and wisdom.
And if we are the children of God, then also the heirs of this higher power, presence, and wisdom. It is our birthright and inheritance. We all have the power to create or destroy, a little at a time, but immensely over a lifetime. Just look at civilization; all the houses, schools, libraries, churches, businesses, streets, etc, and the things in them, all ideas in peoples minds come to fruition.
But what has guided us? Conquest, subjugation, imperialism, consumerism, and other pursuits have done much damage. Where is salvation? Greater good, higher law, higher purpose, and higher truth found through Higher Power. This is why a good, if not great relationship with our Higher power is so important, as we strive to do what is best for not only for ourselves, but all people, and all life.
Another reason a deeply intimate relationship with a Higher Power is so important is because in our daily lives most folks believe they are a physical being having occasional spiritual experiences, so what we hear, see, and feel is our foremost reality. If this is our truth we are at the mercy of worldly concerns, and blown about by the whims of people, cultures, religions, governments, wars, disasters, and the like.
Yet through prayer, meditation and our Higher Power we can turn that around completely to where we can come to see ourselves as spiritual beings having a physical experience. This might seem upside down and backwards, but the truth is that's how we have been living all along, so it's high time to turn things around. This is true freedom, and one of the keys to finding our True Self.
It's time for us to stop building up our own little kingdoms. Instead we may now knock down our walls and find we were safe and at home in God's loving embrace all along, we just didn't know it. As we take the step backwards from our worldly self and instead look inward, we may at last give up the rat race, battles, and war raging in our minds, hearts, homes, and world to instead rest in God.
This peaceful place of absolute, love, beauty, and grace can seem far, far away, But when we take time in prayer and mediation we hear a still small voice is calling us from deep within. This is the voice of our True Self, True Home, and Higher Power. Prayer and meditation are a key to this all important connection and very helpful ways to experience true grace. To learn more take these links to prayer and meditation.
Unfortunately many people grew up in dysfunctional, abusive, neglectful families and situations where parents and others either failed to protect them from difficulties, or were the cause. Search family dysfunction and nearly universal features of lack of empathy, denial of issues, mistrust, and extreme conflict come up.
Other typical features such as jealousy, controlling behaviors, silencing children, adultery, promiscuity, incest, and distancing are also common. Since authority figures had power over our lives it was only natural that we overlaid the negative experiences and views onto our experience of Higher Power. Very sad but true. It can be a lot to overcome, but it is critically important we do.
For those that have a real problem with the idea of God, or Higher Power, some find "A Power Greater" works for them, See that post here For many, that "Power Greater" is their recovery group or a loving family member or friend who exemplifies God's infinite power, presence, and wisdom in tangible ways. We often find these people truly are God's eyes and ears, hands and feet.
Since our view of our Higher Power good or bad was created and cemented as a child, our childhood is another very important place to slowly work to understand and transform ourselves and our situation. For help in this endeavor we recommend the Inner Child Sanity File. Here we can recapture the creative, authentic, joyful, playful, imaginative, and loving child often hidden deep inside.
As wonderful an idea as this seems, we must be cautious, as the inner child may be holding onto intense, fear, grief, and sadness that can overwhelm us if we aren't ready. This is good reason to have a Loving Higher Power (and inner parent) to hold our hand and help us face the difficulties of our past. It is often helpful to recognize that our transgressors were most often also wounded children longing for love and closure. This is not to condone their behavior, but to allow a measure of forgiveness to lessen our burden.
Another amazing source of kindness, caring, and love for us is our own inner parent. Just like our Higher Power, the inner voice and opinion of ourselves was inherited from our parents and other authority figures, so healing this internal entity is also of the greatest importance. For help in this essential endeavor we recommend the Inner Parent Sanity File.
Once this also crucial relationship is recovered, a Loving Inner Parent can take our other hand to guide us onward to discover, tend, and recover from our dis-ease, disorders, and dysfunction. This journey will not be fast, easy, or painless, but we are worth it! As we build a loving relationship with our Higher Power and Inner Parent we find a place to go to rest and recover our mental, physical, and spiritual vitality and vigor.
Nature is also saving grace for us as we so cherish time spent in nature. Everything in the wild feels blessed, sacred, and holy.Wherever we look we see great beauty, love, and peace. Often when we share this aspect of our recovery, people tell us how much nature means to them too. Nature is a symphony, a work of art, and a feast all at once and for all the senses. For more "natural" healing see the Mother Nature Sanity File
God's fingerprints are all over creation, and we so much enjoy sharing ways that we have seen the "evidence". A great way to see how how God has woven infinite intelligence, beauty, and wonder into the natural world is to check out Sacred Geometry. Science has unraveled this mystery for us, all the way back to the beginning of creation, but beyond that is the ultimate mystery that can't be known.
These relationships are the pivotal key to having a safe, welcoming, and nurturing place to move forward in our lives with joy, purpose, and passion. We find we can alternate back and forth between Mother Nature, Higher Power, our Inner Wonder Child, Adult, Loving Inner Parent, and Inner Hero as needed to live a full and complete life.
Taken together, these aspects of our basic nature constitute what can be seen as the True Self, the whole and complete self that can relate to life in any possible way. For more on this exciting and fulfilling way of looking at the ourselves, please check out the True Self Sanity File. You may find other aspects of your True Self you wish to add and we say go for it, this model is one that works for us, but what is most important is what works for you.
If the concepts of Inner Child and Parent are foreign to you or a bit
confusing, check out the Twelve Step Recovery Sanity File for clarity and inspiration. Another "personae" we also recognize as a part of our human nature is the courageous, powerful, and perhaps best part of us we recommend you explore in the Warrior and Hero's Journey Sanity File.
Another super tool for getting in touch with Higher Power is Journaling. Some begin each entry "Good morning (afternoon, evening) Lord," then write
out all our doings, issues, and struggles good and bad. We find it takes the
weight off our shoulders, hearts, and minds and to leave it on the pages.
This can also be true of prayer, meditation, and all our "conversations" with God.
We can imagine speaking with a best friend. An incredible friend who created and sustains us year to year, day to day, and moment to moment on every level from the amazing functioning of body and mind, to the laws and seasons of nature. Some have written dozens of these journals, and so created an excellent relationship with their maker they feel deeply. Just a few lines a day or week can lead to great inner peace.
Some might find it silly to "talk" to God in this way, but we don't have to imagine Higher Power as understanding our words specifically, yet can still believe there is an understanding of the intention, and meaning. It's like when we talk to our babies, pets, plants, and other things. There is an energy and spirit there we feel they get on some level. Not by the words, but from a deeper pre-verbal place.
The Classical Eastern Wisdom Sanity File explores how our minds create and control our reality. For this reason we are wise to understand how our minds function so that we can master our minds rather than have our minds be our master. This is also covered in the prayer and meditation files, but here adds the benefit of thousands of years of insight, learning, and wisdom.
This path teaches that us that we must first tame our minds to then train and
transform it with the ultimate goal of acquiring a "Sacred Outlook".
This is real transformation, to see the hand and spirit of God in
everyone and everything. To look into every face and see the face of
God, and to gaze back into God's eyes with confidence that the greatest
good and highest law is at work at all times, in all places, and in all
things, however screwed up and awful things may appear.
It can also be helpful to realize that as humans we have two eyes, two ears, and two nostrils to locate things around us. Unfortunately recognizing things as "out there" gives us a separation bias that is constantly at work in the back of our minds. We also use these senses to identify and avoid threats, so we also have a natural negativity bias. This helped us survive on the savannas and in the jungle but causes us unnecessary stress in the modern world.
Fortunately this problem is getting a lot of attention these days as we realize the deep interconnection we all have due to media, communication, the internet, the world economy, and the impact humans are having on the environment and ecological systems around the world. As Bob Marley sang; "One love, one heart, let's get together and feel alright!"
Seeing how beautiful and hospitable the universe is for life and humans, we see our Higher Power as loving also. A flight of imagination took our focus and emphasis on love to the extreme, considering Love Force as the fundamental and unifying theory of the universe. It may be a stretch of the imagination, but a fun and interesting one we hope you find enjoyable and inspiring.
The Music Sanity File has a section just for Higher Power and Love with many wonderful songs to share and enjoy, and the Super Sayings and Slogans Sanity File also has a significant part dedicated to Higher Power (listed just after the LOVE and FIRE (passion) sections). Many of the other Sanity Files and posts also have aspects of Higher Power in them as all are connected and interrelated in many ways
As you begin to build your own set of tools for building an intimate relationship with you Higher Power, you might wonder why this work is necessary, how did God (actually it was us) get so lost? Taking a look back in time to see how we have regarded religions can be helpful. First, God was seen and worshiped in the forests, rivers, animals, and other aspects of nature. When cities were built, it seems all of that was left outside the city walls, and perhaps thought of as too wild for civilization.
So mankind built grand churches, temples, cathedrals, and other buildings to house God and centralize religious power. This building was often in the center of town and stood high above all else, it's spires pointing to the heavens. Next individual men and women sought power and status so built palaces and castles even bigger and grander, so God was getting pushed out again.
Next, governments sought control and power and built immense and elaborate structures such as the White House and U.S. Capital Building, often modeled after classic Greek buildings. This was even formalized with a clear separation between the church and state. Modern times finds city centers crowded with corporate buildings standing tall against the horizon. Not much prayer and meditation going on there either.
A less visible but seemingly adversarial position is often held by the scientific community, evidenced in the battle between faith and reason. Yet we see nothing to fight over, as it isn't the biggest building in town that counts, and it isn't just what facts our minds can conjure up to explain existence that count. What matters most is what's in our hearts.
One of our favorite teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh sees our worldly life as waves upon the ocean. All very vivid and dramatic in our daily experience, especially when the storms of life come to whip us up into a frenzy, Yet what are the waves but water? So as we rest and relax into the depths and peace of our True Nature and True Self all of our passions are calmed and cooled and we rest in God.