A Change of Perspective: Your Assignment

The More

Take a break from what you think is your reality.

 

Just for a few minutes I want you to come along with me on a journey of release and imagination.  To do this, I need you to go outside somewhere and find a comfortable place to sit or stand.  It’s best if you are in Nature somewhere, but this is not a requirement.  Please take your time to find a place where you will not be interrupted but you can most certainly be with others around you.

 

Now, for this to work I need you to suspend some of your knowledge of the world around you.  I need you to forget that wind exists.  Yes, that’s right.  Just for a bit, pretend that you don’t know what wind is or what effect it can have on things around you.  Got it?

 

Next I want you to start looking at things around you.  Look at the trees.  Look at the leaves on the ground. Look at the flags on the poles.  Look at the clouds in the sky.  Do you see that they are moving?  Now, I want you to shift your perspective a bit and forget that wind is moving them, and that they are moving themselves.  What if the trees are moving on their own, stretching, waving, alive!  What if the clouds are on an adventure moving across the sky and taking in the scenes of the Earth below them?  What if the flag is waving because it’s excited to represent the hope and dreams of a country?  What if the leaves are racing around, playing, finding mischief in getting stuck to your window, in your hair or car grill?  Notice how the world is alive around you and notice how you have been oblivious to these wonders.

 

Indeed, we all spend way too much time in our heads or stuck to a portable screen to notice the life around us.  Take a break now and then to notice how much life is all around you.  Notice that by doing this, you become more connected to life, you appreciate life more and feel joy in being part of it.

 

Let me know how you did with your assignment.  What did you experience?  How did you see life around you differently?  What can you add to this assignment that might help others?

 

American Beauty – Plastic Bag Scene

 

Peace,

 

Dwight Raatz

What Is Real?

The More

Lately I’ve struggled with what I perceive to be reality.  This struggle has, at times, given me pause to even question my own sanity (which can be quite frightening).  As I dove into the feeling of this, it put me on a path of thinking about how I perceive reality in my own life as well as the lives of others.

There seems to be a couple ways to learn about what is real in your life, and one of them is through experience.  For most people, we think the things we can perceive with our senses (sight, sound, touch, etc) makes them real.  The other way to learn is by being taught what is real. If there are things we can’t verify with our senses, then there must be accepted scientific or mathematical ways to test and verify something is real as proof. Another seemingly acceptable way to view something as real is to hear someone else tell us that it is (friends, family, media, etc).  But what if you have experiences that cannot easily be verified in any way, nonetheless you had the experience and it was very “real” to you?

Have you ever had the experience of driving in your car and you come to a stop light in the midst of several other cars and you are stopped for a length of time?  While sitting there, you kind of lose focus on things as you look at the cars beside you, and suddenly you get the sensation that somehow your car is moving backward, like you are rolling back for some reason?  Then in a short panic you press on the break harder to stop, but you don’t and then you snap out of it only to realize that you are not moving, but the car(s) next you are moving forward?  In that moment you thought you were rolling backward, you thought that was really happening right?

Another example of a perceived reality happened several months ago where I was driving home after a long day on a very familiar road.  As I was driving, I had a sense of where I was and the direction I was going and what I was expecting to see next, but all of the sudden I came upon a stop light that should not have existed.  For a second I was completely disoriented and I could feel the world around me spin slightly when I realized that I was on a completely different road and hadn’t driven as far as I thought I had.  In the moments leading up to my realization, I thought where I was, what I was doing, seeing and experiencing to be very real.  These kinds of “re-orientating to reality” moments have happened to me several times over the years and each time it was quite disturbing. It usually takes me several minutes to come back into alignment with the reality I’m perceiving in that moment. Was what I experienced real or not?

About eight years ago, I was driving to work in my 1996 Geo Prism on a very cold and snowy winter morning.  I was heading for downtown Minneapolis at the intersection of Hwy 55 and Hwy 100 going east.  The roads that morning were snowy and a bit icy.  As I was stopped at the light with no other cars around me, I looked in my rear view mirror to see a large black pickup truck driving straight toward the back of my car.  What I perceived was that this truck was going way too fast for the road conditions and was invariably going to crash into me.  Well, if you know anything about a Geo Prism, it does not have any getup and go, but instinctively, I stepped on the gas and floored it (even though I was a a stoplight) and I braced for impact. What happened next, was nothing at all!  No impact.  As a matter of fact, when I looked in my mirrors, there was no truck at all, nothing!  I even slowed so much I physically looked out all my windows and there was no truck or any other vehicle around me at all in any direction.  In those few seconds there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to be rear-ended by that black pickup truck.  So, was what I saw and experienced real or not?

In the Summer of 2010 I was taking a nap in the front room (we called it the parlor) of my home in Buffalo, MN.  I was in that kind of pre-awake state where I could sense that I was awake, but my eyes were not open yet.  As I laid there on the couch, I felt very relaxed as I could feel the summer sun coming through the windows warming me.  I was enjoying that feeling and sense of peace when quite faintly I could hear a kind of buzzing or fluttering sound in the room.  Initially I was thinking it was a fly in the window, but the sound didn’t quite match with my memory because the sound was much deeper and fuller.  I continued to keep myself in the space of “not awake” with my eyes closed and I could hear the fluttering sound circling the room getting near as it circled.  Then it came very close to my face and I could hear the deep fluttering sound of wings and even a slight movement in the air around me.  In my mind’s eye, I started to get a sense for what the being or creature looked like.  I then opened my eyes only to have the sound and feeling of what I thought was there with me to instantly dissipate.  What did I experience?  Was it real or not?

I think perhaps the most significant experience I’ve had around perceiving what is real is my own thoughts around how I believe something will turn out or how someone will react or respond to my actions.  There have been many times that I’ve held back from sharing myself with others (especially family).  When I’ve thought about sharing something important or possibly controversial with them, I would often think I knew how they would respond and usually the thought was not favorable.  I would often spend weeks, months or even years with anxiety, afraid that if I did tell them, they would reject me or they might possibly stop loving me or talking to me.  This fear would infect my life and relationships with others and get to a point where I knew I needed to come clean.  The interesting thing is that in every instance when I finally confessed, they never responded the way I had predicted.  It was a total lie. Every time, they were thoughtful about my issue and very accepting of me.  Each time this happened to me, I would not only be relieved but I would reprimand myself for having spent so much time believing this spell of fear.  What I assumed to be so very real was not real at all.

Most recently I’ve been going through what feels like a large shift or transformation in my life.  This shift is a culmination of many factors including career, marriage, aging, and the ever present ebb and flow of the Universe.  I find myself having a powerful drive to seek more fulfillment in my life, in how I spend my time and who I spend that time with.  I feel as if I am in an in-between place moving from the role of raising kids, building a career (which was created from necessity and not from my heart), divorce and re-marriage, and an ever evolving change in physical health. I’m now moving toward a deep calling from the bowels of the Universe within me to finally allow myself to bring forth the full possibility of what I have to offer this world.  This in-between place feels like my own primordial soup of possibilities.  What I can create for myself in the next phase of my life?  It has been so intense at times I find myself having out of body experiences with my “Self” being the observer of my body and the interactions of it and the world around.  It has been at times very frightening because I feel if I were to just let go a bit more, I would never be able to reconnect myself with this world and physical reality I am in.  I also have the dual experience of being intrigued with the experience because there is a great sense of peace, wonder and interest from the Observer’s perspective.  The Observer is not invested or involved with the interactions of the body, ego or even the physical reality of the experience, it just sees or senses.  So is what I’m experiencing real or not?

As I think about what I’ve written, I feel a common theme has appeared. Reality is based on whatever I chose to focus my attention on at any point in time. This “attention” is really perspective on any given situation. I find this fascinating.  I’ve often thought about how each of us perceive things and if someone else sees the same things or not.  For example, when I look at the color red, is what I perceive as red the same for you as it is for me?  This perspective is also described in a story I wrote in my blog the-more.com a few years ago called “The Reality of Fog”.  I was on a trip to Peru with a friend, when we found ourselves slightly lost in the airport as we tried to figure out where to go for our next flight.  We each had a perspective on what we thought were the right direction through an airport, only to find out we each were looking at the same signs in a slightly different way. Another good example is found in a TEDx Talk titled “Dying to be me” where a woman named Anita Moorjani describes her experience with cancer, her death and coming back to life.  Her message on her awareness of the world was strikingly similar to what I described above in my “Observer” story.  I highly recommend you watch!

I’ve experienced many profound things during my journey from within, and from the world around me.  Each of these experiences has allowed me to grow more and more into who I truly am as a person.  This tangible and palpable experience of the Observer has been challenging, but I truly believe it is all a part of another transformation the Universe is providing for me to grow.  The challenging part of all of this is the intensity of the feeling and how overwhelming transformation can be. The one thing that allows the process to flow, is in the sharing of the moments, and connecting with others in their own similar experiences.  How are you perceiving the world around you, and allowing the experiences to change your life?

– Dwight Raatz

All Reality is but a Stage

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
~ Shakespeare – As You Like It, Act 2, scene 7

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I believe with regard to religion and spirituality. I’ve come to realize that I need to be clear on my beliefs so I have a better understanding of how to explain them to others. With that, I’m going to spend some time here to give a more thorough examination of my current beliefs and I will utilize some real life experiences and analogies in order to explain them. It’s important to know that as I learn and grow, so do my beliefs. I take time to re-analyze my beliefs against any new awareness and decide if it needs to be updated, added or removed.

Recently I was invited for lunch with my friend Joshua because we had been dialoging via email on various topics surrounding religion and we thought that we could really make some ground on our conversation by meeting in person. Upon arrival at our meeting, I was surprised at how quickly he wanted to dig into the topic at hand and dispense with too much small talk, but in a way I was glad of it. (As a side-note, Joshua is Christian who is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and I’m not – even though it is the church of my birth) I decided to back up a bit and give an overview of my personal position on why I’m not a Christian. After doing so, Joshua continued into a line of questioning that was mainly asked in order to obtain a better understanding of my beliefs. While the conversation was quite lively and interesting, I became concerned about the kinds of questions he was asking as they did not seem to be in line with what I thought I had explained as my beliefs. Even in subsequent emails over the following day or two after our lunch, I was still confused on why the conversation went down the path of being more of an offense/defense around religion. He even recommended that I read the book “Letters from a Skeptic”, in order for me to have a resource to answer my objections to Christianity. This book is about a son (the Christian) who invites his father (the Agnostic) into a letter dialog to enable his father to pose all his objections and questions around Christianity and the son would answer these letters in hopes of “saving” his father.

I took Joshua’s advice and downloaded the unabridged audio version of the book and I listened to it over the next couple days. What I found in listening to this book is a range of emotions. First I was angry at what I felt were not only ludicrous and ignorant questions (from the father in the story), but also I was angry at the answers being given by the son as I felt they lacked any real motivation to “convert”. My emotions then moved into boredom as the book when on and on with questions like, “… well if God is love and he loves his creation, then why are their natural disasters and pestilence in the world?” to answers like, “… there are bad people in the world because of a great cosmic war between good and evil that we are caught in and cannot save ourselves.” I was tired of the story and seeing that I had about half the book left, I thought more than once to abandon it and move on. I decided that there must be some reason why this particular book was recommended to me so I trudged on and what I found is that once I gave up my emotions around listening to the book, I began to really hear the conversation. I also was able to see a different perspective on the stories of the Bible including those of Jesus. I also came to the realization (based on the questions Joshua was asking) that I’m doing a really bad job at being clear as to what my beliefs are. I realized that how I approached the reasons around no longer being a Christian (or any religion for that matter) not only challenged Joshua’s beliefs (which would naturally put him on the defensive), but it also clouded what I really wanted to share about me.

With the new awareness in place, I decided to outline my personal current beliefs in writing and here is how it came together (in no particular order):

  • I believe in an intelligent, universal energy that is All, it binds all and is pure love and pure creation (e.g. The Universe, The Divine, God, Yahweh, Ein Sof, Allah, etc).
  • I believe my Higher Self (HS) is but an extension of God and is not in any way separated. My HS is not my humanity. The HS knows all and is completely enlightened within its connection to The Divine.
  • I believe my Soul is my consciousness in and around my human body. It is my HS’s representation of itself as I am in human form, but the soul has chosen to “forget” who he really is as the HS.
  • I believe God can only truly know herself through experiencing all facets of creation through a virtual separation or dis-memberment from herself. The dis-memberment is a veil of “forgetting”.
  • I believe the dis-memberment I create from God is only an illusion that I agree to before becoming human.
  • I believe that everything returns to God because nothing is truly separated from Him.
  • I believe free will enables us to create a vast number of experiences and opportunities for The Divine to know Herself.
  • I believe that when we die from the human form, our Soul goes back to be part of All – Always
  • If we do bad or “evil” things during our lives, or we experience evil, this is an experience we have chosen.
  • I believe that if we put (create) enough negative or “evil” energy out, it will manifest into its own force with apparent intelligence. I believe this force can cause problems, death and destruction but has no power over The Universe. I believe this force can be transmuted by (not only God) but easily by a direct focused intention of any human commanding it with Love.
  • I believe hell is only a part of our human reality and is a deliberate denial of being connected to The Divinity within us. It only exists individually for a person’s lifetime as a human. Hell can also be conditions brought upon by an energetic imbalance from society. Hell is also a chosen experience.
  • Whether the bible or any religious text is real and/or actually happened is irrelevant to my beliefs.
  • I believe we can choose to be incarnate in human form multiple times.
  • I believe religion came about because of a natural evolution of Man discovering and remembering it’s truth. Religion is not right or wrong, it’s simply a tool used as we become more enlightened as humans.
  • I believe the human ego is a purposeful way to experience our humanity. Once we understand this, each experience can be reviewed, considered, and then released.
  • I believe our reactive emotions (anger, fear, depression, happiness, etc) are the domain of the ego – they are conditional. It’s when you can allow the emotion to pass through and out (release) and observe it for what it is, then you can truly be the master of your ego.
  • I believe that there are many roads Home and it’s our choice which path to take (free will). But no matter the path, we all go Home.
  • I am no religion. Nor do I claim to fit into any category of organized spirituality.
  • I am not a Christian because I do not need to be saved by having Christ die for my sins.
  • “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” – John 14:12
    – Even if everything taught to me about the stories of Jesus are true, I believe the actions by Jesus were primarily a guide to living life and showing us that we just need to let go and believe in our connection to The All that Is. Jesus was another example given to us over human history (also like Horus and Osiris) .
    – I believe I am just as much a part of God as Jesus. I believe Jesus was just more naturally (by intention and design) aware and humanly conscious of this connection to The Universe than most. He was this way on purpose to help us evolve our awareness and our collective consciousness.
  • I believe we have had many Masters come to earth over time to teach us the same truths that was taught by our ascended Masters. I believe that over time we have become more enlightened as humans, that we now have access to more “connected” humans giving us more guidance and truths.
  • What I see is that the illusion of daily life as an experience that we can truly see and re-member the Divinity within ourselves.
  • I do not believe that God has the emotions of humans and that She is pure Love. Love is not an emotion, it is a way of being that is all accepting.

I have an analogy that helps me to explain our existence as it relates to our humanity, the ego, the soul, and our Higher Self (Godself). The example that I am giving is to compare these things to a stage play. The primary aspects of a play include; the set (or stage), the actors, the characters, the audience and the script. Each of these components I will relate to how I see myself as a spiritual being having a human experience.

  • The set or stage represents the earth as well as the visible known universe. This is where I “exist” in my reality.
  • The actor represents our soul which is veiled in its full knowledge of God and is more closely related to our physical human experience, but takes guidance from the Higher Self.
  • The character is our humanity or our day to day facade that we portray during our life including the effects of our ego
  • The script is our overall plan for our experience that we designed before coming to earth as a human
  • The audience is our Higher Self and God, witnessing and experiencing the interactions between all aspects of the play.

As we live our lives as characters in a play, we play out using our free will and some guidance from the script. The actor or soul is the connection to spirit or our Higher Self and it experiences the interplay among the self, other characters and the set. If we choose (using free will) to ignore our guidance and take a different path, this is acceptable and is honored, but we find our lives to be incomplete and we struggle.

Before we are born unto humans, we have already decided the main experiences we want in our lifetime. Some people refer to these as lessons, but that is not my view. I believe we already “know” everything conceptually, but not experientially. It is our wish to truly know via experience. The problem we face as humans is that we deny the truth of our existence as it has been shown to us many times (including by Jesus). We do not know how to manage our experiences of life as just that, an experience – then it should be released. Upon human physical death, the experiences of the life is re-membered All the consequence of the life are no longer relevant, but yet does create a Karmic resonance that can continue to be felt and can seek resolution within the next life. If we haven’t been able to release our experience, we will never really know it completely. Therefore, if we choose to re-incarnate, some of these experiences may be played again in the next life.

As I look back onto my lunch with Joshua, the book I listened to and the validation of my belief systems, things became clearer about life and my existence. I am slowly becoming even more aware of each interaction I have with everyone in my life, no matter how seemingly insignificant. I can step outside of the experience and see it for what it really is. I am more cognizant of what I’m being shown in the experience and how it is teaching me more about myself and re-membering who I really am. This awareness has brought me peace and fulfillment to my life. I believe it is in the awareness of the re-membering where I fulfill the script or “plan” of my life. It is the whole point of my existence.

What I Believe Changes as I grow and become more attuned to my true self.
 

Dwight Raatz

My Perception – My Reality, The Observer and the Observed

I had a dream last night where I was car racing a friend.  We challenged each other to be the first one to make it to a particular destination.  After taking off, we became separated for some reason and lost sight of each other.  The dream gave me sight, as The Observer, to see both my friend and myself as we raced trying to make it to the end.  The Observer me saw my friend make it to the destination first and there he waited.  The Racer me was trying very hard to navigate through all the obstacles of the course to make it to the destination, but I was not making very good time.  Meanwhile my friend became worried that either something happened to me, or that he misunderstood where the final destination point was supposed to be.  So he took off in his car back toward the beginning of the race.  As he was driving over a highway over-pass, he saw my car drive under on my way to the destination point.  He then realized that I would get there and since he was not there, I would assume I was the winner.  It would be his word against mine as to who was there first.  There was no actual proof either way other than what The Observer knew to be the truth.

I awoke from this dream thinking that this is a lot like the reality that we each produce each moment of every day.  We each have a perception of what the truth of life is from our perspective.  In the dream contest, the Racer me thought that I was the winner, my friend thought he was.  But were either of our perspectives wrong or untruthful?  No, I don’t think they are.

I think it’s important to realize the concept of individual reality perception when working with others.  It’s important to not take their observations personally, but rather try to understand their perspective first.  As it has been said, “Seek first to understand before trying to be understood” – or something along those lines.  Each of us has our own truth for life and respecting this in others is an important step toward peace.

When it comes to a person’s state-of-mind, whether it be joy, love, anger, anxiety, depression, bliss, etc; it is their reality for the moment.  It’s important to understand that the person may not be able to see outside of this state of being.  It’s also important for you (the person that is in this state) to know that you are the only one who can keep you in this state, or change it completely.  Nothing or no one can make this happen for you AND it’s is only YOUR TRUTH – not the Truth of the Divine.

Another aspect of this dream is The Observer.  To me the Ultimate Observer is Divine – the one who knows the all and complete truth of each action in the Universe.  The Ultimate Observer knows your true Higher Self , your purpose and will always be there to help.  Just ask, then listen!

Dwight Raatz