Chapter Five: The Discovery of What IS

The theme and undercurrent of this book is the discovery of “what IS.” The discovery of what IS starts with the intimate journey of inner understanding. Once we achieve self-knowledge, the world around us bursts into colour. Nothing is too small or too big in our journey of discovery. Leave no stone unturned!

The made-up world we hold in our minds obscures reality by trying to squeeze the past and future into the present moment. Our discovery happens as our awakenings show us the broader view, which unfolds as we deepen our connection with our Divinity.

In this chapter, I explore seven doors that I feel we must pass through to aid us in discovering a deeper reality of life. The seven doors are:

1.         Love

2.         Surrender

3.         Silence

4.         Service

5.         Prayer

6.         Study

7.         Gratitude

There are other doors to discover, but these seven became the main focus in my life that aided me in my transformation. I encourage you to spend time exploring them, finding your wisdom and truth behind each door. The information I share is based on my ideas and experiences; you must discover your own. Your life is a unique and special journey that only you can take.

Chapter Five

The Discovery of What IS

Positive Affirmation: May all my actions arise out of my willingness to love. In this moment, I surrender everything to the silence within my soul, for within my soul awaits my greatest teacher.

The theme and undercurrent of this book is the discovery of “what IS.” It would be easier to describe what is not than explain what IS, but I have taken on that challenge. For now, I define it as the reality of life and God, including everything that will be and could ever be. The discovery of what IS starts with the intimate journey of inner understanding. Once we achieve self-knowledge, the world around us bursts into colour. Nothing is too small or too big in our journey of discovery. Leave no stone unturned!

The made-up world we hold in our minds obscures reality by trying to squeeze the past and future into the present moment. Our discovery happens as our awakenings show us the broader view, which unfolds as we deepen our connection with our Divinity.

The Seven Doors of Self-Discovery

The different religions and philosophies of the world have shared many teachings that can help guide us in our journey of discovering what IS. And yet connecting with God has been riddled with obstacles stifling our efforts. However, the expansion of my consciousness has helped me to find the Divine within and to see the Divinity that surrounds me. To that end, I have identified seven doors of discovery leading to experiencing a deeper reality of “what IS.” The seven doors that we pass through are:

  1. Love
  2. Surrender
  3. Silence
  4. Service
  5. Prayer
  6. Study
  7. Gratitude

There are other doors to discover, but these seven became the main focus in my life that aided me in my transformation. I encourage you to spend time exploring them, finding your wisdom and truth behind each door. The information I share below is based on my ideas and experiences; you must discover your own. Your life is a unique and special journey that only you can take.

The Door of Love

The longer we spend behind this door in the room of love, the brighter the flame of God burns in our hearts. Within the room of love, we will find ourselves at the heart of all the other rooms, for love lives behind all the doors we walk through. The light produced by the flame of love is one of the most brilliant lights we can rest in and use to create. The flame of love has the power to generate miracles. Within the light of the flame of love lives God the Father and God the Mother. These two potentials amplify all the creations formed in the light of love. The Holy Fire burning at the gate of our soul is the flame of love. What makes love so unique is that it lives in the world but is Divine in nature.

Life is a precious gift, and love teaches us how to handle and care for this gift.

Love’s Divine presence and power can transform life into heaven on earth when we move into its purest states.

As we learn to become masters of love, it transforms us. And yet love is hard to define and tricky to master because it has nothing and everything to do with our humanness. Love has nothing to do with our humanness because it is Divine; it has everything to do with our humanness because it is the weave that holds the fabric of life and form together. Love is non-dualistic because it has no opposite. As we connect with love, we strengthen our connection to God, and the longer we hold this connection, the more we become “hardwired” to God.

Sharing love with others teaches us its sacred wisdom. As I brought more love into my life, I found more life in love, for love. Our minds will forever make up presumptions and beliefs about love, for example, if we believe that love has failed us when we pour love into something and it doesn’t work out for us, it’s helpful to remember that the Will of our mind doesn’t direct love because love has its own intelligence. Love always knows what is right and just, in accordance with our soul. Therefore, if we perceive that love has failed us, it isn’t true. Love never fails. According to Divine Will, love gives us precisely what’s in line with the soul’s purpose.

On our path to discovering the reality of what IS and exploring our life, love is the first—and last—thing we need to apply in all our endeavours. As we travel further down the path of awakening, love becomes more than a practice; it becomes our response to life.

When love becomes our only response, we allow the providence of God to become the source of intelligence from which we operate. We are no longer dependant on the limitations of our human minds.

The Door of Surrender

On the path to discover what IS, the door of surrender is a significant threshold to cross. To master what’s behind this door in the room of surrender, there are many aspects of ourselves and of life to let go of. Without surrender, the mind runs our life. It’s not that we don’t need our minds; knowing what we are supposed to do comes first out of the silence into our hearts and then is relayed to the mind. When the wisdom of the heart reaches the mind, we surrender to what the heart knows to be true. However, if we haven’t yet surrendered the mind, we’ll have trouble discerning our desires from the knowledge of the silence and the wisdom of our hearts. The mind only works within the constraints of what it knows. By surrendering the mind, and then surrendering to the silence, we position ourselves to receive and accept Divine wisdom.

Surrender calls us to anchor ourselves to the moment. (My first two books give the necessary instructions for stabilizing the practice of being present.) When we surrender to the present moment, we open to the possibility of experiencing the sacredness of life. We become connected to the gifts flowing around us. The sacredness we experience helps us understand that the grace of God is always at work. Without this surrender, God’s grace might pass by unnoticed. By understanding the value of surrender, we stop denying the signs for initiating our deeper awakenings. As we grow in our ability to surrender, we become available to fulfill the Will of God while living in the silence within.

Mastering surrender puts the ego in its rightful place and allows faith in God to take over. Deeper levels of surrender come when we trust in God, which happens when we develop a deeper relationship with God (discussed in more detail in the next chapter). As we move into higher states of consciousness, our willingness to surrender grows and becomes increasingly important on our path of discovery. With surrender, we give up the notion that our mind has all our answers. To fully access what’s behind the seven doors, we must be willing to pass through the door of surrender.

The Door of Silence

The door of silence drops us into the presence of God. The silence within is God’s soundless reflection in our soul. Sometimes, this soundless presence roars in our ears. At other times, there is only complete silence. The following is an excerpt from the book The Voice of the Silence by H. P. Blavatsky:

“For when to himself, his form appears unreal, as do on waking all the forms he sees in dreams.

“When he has ceased to hear the many, he may discern the ONE—the inner sound that kills the outer.

“Then only, not till then, shall he forsake the region of Asat, the false, to come unto the realm of Sat, the true.

“Before the soul can see, the Harmony within must be attained, and fleshly eyes be rendered blind to all illusion.

“Before the soul can hear, the image (man) has to become as deaf to roaring as to whispers, to cries of bellowing elephants as to the silvery buzzing of the golden firefly.

“Before the soul can comprehend and may remember, she must unto the Silent Speaker be united, just as the form to which the clay is modeled is first united with the potter’s mind.

“For then, the soul will hear and will remember.

“And then, the inner ear will speak.”

The silence holds great mystery and discovery. No two meetings with the silence will be the same, and it offers more as we learn to surrender. In our discovery of what IS, learning to become silent is necessary for building a relationship with the Divine. In these quiet times, the sweetness of the Divine floods into us. The silence within takes us deeper into our soul and closer to God. Within the silence, we learn, grow, and deepen our ability to extract the wisdom we hold.

In my early adolescence, my deaf grandmother and I spent a lot of time together in silence. She taught me more by her silence than she ever could have with her words. My time with her helped prepared me to become an Ishaya Monk. When I joined the Ishayas, the teacher leading us always said, “The true teaching happens in the silence.” We must give up the compulsion to keep listening and talking to the voices in our minds. We miss a great deal of wisdom when we reject the gift of silence.

When we first begin to rest within the silence, it might seem like an insignificant practice. However, there is endless depth and beauty to be discovered. The nature of silence is similar to the nature of love; it’s bottomless. The deeper we go into the silence, the bigger it expands within us. Our experience of the silence far outweighs any description of the silence. Enter the door of silence as often as you can—so often that it falls off its hinges. Doing so allows the richness of the silence to permeate everything.

Being silent starts as a practice and then, as with love and surrender, becomes our nature. These three points—love, surrender, and silence—make up the core of our daily devotion to knowing God.

The Door of Service

Many lessons and beautiful gifts await us behind this door. We will repeatedly be asked to answer the call to serve others and the world; all we need is to look around. And when we look within, we will find the gifts we have for the world. Once we find our gifts, it becomes our duty to share them with others. Can you imagine how life would be if no one before us had shared their gifts?

The following three aspects come into play as we learn how to serve. Mastering them will helps us extract a richer experience in serving.

  • Surrendering ourselves
  • Surrendering to the moment
  • Giving with an open heart

Surrendering Ourselves

Surrendering ourselves refers to our willingness to surrender as we serve. When called to serve another, our minds can quickly move into opposition. One way to practice surrender is to dissolve any sense of “I” while serving. We can accomplish this by setting down our opinions or rationales and focusing on the task at hand—not the voices in our minds. Let go of the idea that you are giving, and again, focus on what you are doing. Give yourself over to the serving.

For example, if you are washing dishes and find yourself caught in a mental dialogue about how much you hate doing dishes, pause and feel the warmth of the water. Notice how it soothes your hands, then slow your breathing and focus on washing each item. When we dissolve our limited sense of self in the act of doing, we open ourselves to experience the joy of doing even the most mundane tasks. We then move away from the noble idea that we are serving others.

Surrendering to the Moment

Surrendering to the moment helps us get out of our own way. To serve what’s in front of us, we cannot be occupied by a future or past moment. Being lost in the past or future divides our attention. A split focus leaves us with only a fraction of our potential to serve.

My job as a tattoo artist has taught me how to hold my focus on the moment. If my mind is somewhere else while working, the results are not nearly as good. By being deeply present, my reach into creativity is deeper, the execution of my craft is stronger, and I am more responsive to what a situation needs.

Giving with an Open Heart

Genuine service means giving with an open heart that seeks no reward. When we aim to give without need for compensation, our service to others and the world becomes an act of unconditional love. Giving with an open heart calls for us to drop our ulterior motives. In doing so, we experience a greater depth of love and attract Divine favour. Our service to the world is a fast track to our awakening because true service is love in action.

By adding these three components to service, we bring a deeper meaning and purpose to our work in the world. My service has returned more fruitful rewards than the fulfillment of my desires could have ever provided. Whenever I feel in need, I respond by giving freely.

The Door of Prayer

Prayer positions us to look toward God, which can lead to powerful results. For when we look to God, we find that God is resting in our lap. Thomas Keating teaches this in his practice of Centering Prayer. In his lifelong search for what IS, Keating concluded that we only need to approach God or look to God for God to respond. I postulate that the Divine comes to us because God is always present. The reflection of God’s presence is in everything we see; it makes up the entirety of what we don’t see.

There are two sides to prayer: talking with God and listening to God.

The Two Sides of Prayer

  1. Talking with God

On one side of prayer, we start a conversation with God. Talking to God enters us into friendship with the Divine. What we say isn’t important. The goal is to put our direct attention on God and approach the Divine as a friend. This inward practice of talking with God gives us the experience of bringing the Divine’s presence into our hearts. The practice of prayer will reveal its power. There is nothing for our minds to know about praying. It’s all about making the connection with the Divine while in prayer. And like any friendship, our connection grows over time as we become more comfortable talking with God.  

At first, it might feel like an empty practice, as if we are just talking to ourselves. But over time, as we build our friendship with God, this practice becomes sacred. Our time with God becomes a practice of surrender. Confessing our struggles to God can help us release our worries. In the act of talking with God, we open our vulnerabilities. Simply asking for help humbles us. Whatever we request will always be answered in Divine time and according to God’s Will. When we ask for help, we must trust God, strengthening our faith in the process.

          2. Listening to God

The other side of prayer is listening to God. As I wrote above, when we set down the mind and go into the silence to be with God, we receive God’s ever-flowing grace. Listening requires us to remain quiet. If we constantly ask God to provide for us but never take the time to listen, we miss God’s Divine guidance and direction. Also, by continuing to ask, we aren’t trusting God. Whatever we ask for is already on its way, but it might not come in the way we expect.

Once, during a mentoring session with a client, I asked him if he ever asked his heart for answers. He said, “Yes, all the time.” My next question to him was, “Do you ever stop to listen?” We often do this with prayer; we repeatedly ask but never take the time to listen or watch for answers and results. To tap into the true potential of prayer, we must do both. We need time to talk, and we need time to listen. By doing so, we complete the circle.

When we spend enough time in prayer, we learn that God is always available. Over time, prayer becomes a way to live rather than a practice we visit from time to time.

The Door of Study

If we do not take time to study the wisdom that others have shared about their spiritual experiences, we might become trapped in our limited beliefs. Learning from others will help open our minds and lead us into deeper understandings. Over the centuries, many masters have shared great wisdom. It would be a significant loss to ignore or reject their teachings.

            As you study, it’s essential to look at the entire picture. Many groups stay within the confines of their teachings, limiting their growth in the process. Reaching out to other systems of thought and worship has its place in our discovery of what IS. There are many groups and wise

teachers that can help us evolve. For example, when I met my first spiritual teacher, Dr. Johnson (“Rod”), he threw me into the door of study headfirst. I have always been deeply grateful for his influence on my life. My lessons with Rod helped me grow in many ways. We were inseparable for eight years. We studied books together, held study groups, and co-facilitated workshops.

By entering the room of study, be careful of oversaturating yourself. This can happen to anyone who is seeking spiritual knowledge. Reading book after book and absorbing other people’s experiences can limit your own journey and can stifle your growth. I watched my first teacher devour books like potato chips. I recall a conversation I had with my second teacher. I was sitting on his porch one day going through my list of questions, when he stopped me and said, “Who is asking this question? Is your mind asking me?” He went on to say, “You are a brilliant guy who has taken in a lot of knowledge. However, consuming too much can be a barrier to your freedom.” When we consume too much information, we might be adding more ways to trap ourselves in our minds. We can also lose the innocence of our own experience. Balance is the key. When I read spiritual books these days, I take in the material, work with it, and then return to my own experience.

The Door of Gratitude

The door of gratitude helps reduce the desires conjured up by our minds. I was less connected to gratitude when I constantly required material objects to be happy. As soon as I acquired one thing, I was on to the next round of obsessing and desiring—long before I had time to use (or abuse) my last purchase. Gratitude has a unique way of moving us into a deeper place away from our desires. For example: if someone does something nice and we fail to offer gratitude, the transaction falls short of completion. Selfishness and entitlement squish gratitude out of our lives. When someone offers us a gift and we take the time to acknowledge it, we open a heart connection with another. Gratitude is not just a transactional experience but a transitional one, for it leads us to our heart and then into a place of love.

On the path of love, gratitude becomes an experience that comes more frequently. If we take time to stop and look around us, there are plenty of blessings to move us into a state of gratitude. The simple gift of a smile from a stranger, for example, has the power to bring up a sense of gratitude. Still, gratitude is not an automatic occurrence in our mind, for our minds tend to find and focus on the negative. However, when we live in a more heart-centred space, gratitude naturally follows.

The Wisdom of the Doors

Within the seven doors, there are many ideas to explore. I challenge you to surrender to love and allow it to flow out of the silence within you. Then watch how the power of love, surrender, and silence transforms all that you do and who you become. By doing this, we naturally find ourselves serving the world versus looking for how the world can serve us. Find time to pray and study. Many times, my prayers have been answered through a simple conversation with a stranger. The Divine answers our prayers in mysterious ways. When we make it a practice to swing open all of these doors, gratitude will surely follow.

These are just a few of the doors we pass through in discovering the reality of what IS. We discover the ultimate reality by living a loving and conscious life, which is found in the small miracles happening around us in every moment. Here is one of my favourite quotes, written by me when I was about twenty years old:

“In between our greatest moments, the miracles are still happening.”

Tools to Deepen Your Experience of this Chapter

  1. Spend a day each week studying the wisdom behind one of the seven doors.

2.   Take time exploring what each of these seven doors means to you.

3.   What have you learned from your own experiences of these practices?

  1. Make a list of the other doors that are important to you. Then review what you have learned from them.

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