The Road To Self-Mastery: Taking a Shortcut

The road to self-mastery can be short or long, depending on the psyche of an individual. The choices we make can alter this pathway to paradise. In many traditions it is said, “we need only Christ-Consciousness or Buddha-Consciousness to find everlasting life.” Translating this…”if we think it, know it and believe it to be true…It shall be So.”


The longer journey is uncertainty or doubt. When we doubt ourselves, building walls of self-sabotage, our journey to self-mastery is longer. Whether we master the piano, sports, or whatever, it is through these facets or catalysts that we find self-mastery. In Buddhist traditions it is called ‘our practice.’ Through mindful-meditation throughout our daily activities, we find balance within all we do.

It is not necessarily the games we play, food we cook, friends we have, or materials gained, but merely self-realization. When we come to the realization that we are all of the above… Our boundaries dissolve, expanding our field of energy to the infinite.

My personal story, through various martial arts, continued for over 25 years. It wasn’t about mastering martial arts, but about mastering myself. The martial arts became a catalyst to that which was sought.

A few years back when I was invited into a Master’s program at a martial arts school, I declined… Boldly stating I no longer need the paper to show who I am. This was not intended to be disrespectful or arrogant, but merely stating “the piece of paper was no longer of interest to me.” Not focused on the piece of paper, I am left merely with The Way of travel. My training does not confined in a ring or in a Dojo, my training is out there in the streets. Not sure if the master understood, either way he politely smiled while I went on my way.

Thinking back to the scenario I would have loved to join the program not to get the piece of paper but to continue my training. While my training is continuous, there is something magical that takes place in a quiet room where our practice takes place. For I know that the training inside that room aids me in the training outside in the streets.

It’s not about training for the physical or brawn; it’s about training the brain and the soul.~Muhammad Yusef

Again, when we come to a place of self-mastery… where we no longer need this and we no longer need that…we merely trust in the guidance of self and the voice carried by wind.~Ani Po

So whether we choose the long course of self-doubt or the shortened course of self-actualization, either way we come to a place of self-mastery. While for some the journey is long and difficult, for others it is short and blissful. No path is ever the same and what works for one does not work for the other. The key to our journey of life, is enjoying every moment along the way.

Stepping Into The Canvas of Self-mastery. Whether pain and misery fill our days or peace and Love, we have the ability to live happily ever after. Whether we believe in infinite possibilities or limited beliefs of the self…eventually we come to a place of infinite possibilities. Why not accept them now? The key to our happiness is finding it in the ‘here and now,’ while we are still young enough to enjoy the fruits The Canvas of Life has to offer. The time is now…

Paying It Backwards: A Random Act Of Kindness

Have you ever wanted to do something nice for someone? Make their day? Have you ever thought of doing a random act of kindness? Paying it forward? Yesterday morning, while getting my morning ‘Cup of Joe,’ I decided it was time to pay it forward.

While turning into Starbucks parking lot, with thoughts of paying it forward, a Chevy Avalanche chose to cut me off. My first knee jerk reaction was, “You Jerk!” Then another voice steps in, “I guess he was in a hurry for his cup of coffee. Too bad, because I would have bought his morning coffee.” Had he not cut me off, he would have been right behind me, making him the recipient of paying it forward or in this case ‘paying it backwards.’ His loss; the person in the SUV behind me…their gain!

I ordered as usual and anticipated the random act of kindness. “Quad Venti, Two pump, White Chocolate Mocha, non-fat, no-whip please!”

As I ordered my morning pick-me-up, I wondered where this man was off to in such a hurry. Was he on his way to work? Did he think he was the king of the road? Funny how we begin to fill in the blanks, judging others by the automobiles they drive. I was way off from my assumption of him being a professional athlete. Judging by the large vehicle, the professional sport logos, tinted windows and the major college logo on his license plates, I thought for sure he was a pro ball player…he wasn’t. He was indeed in a hurry to get to work and was not fully in the moment of friendly driving.

When I approached the checkout window, the surprise was on me. The Barista asked me to ‘hold on.’ When she returned she explained, “your coffee has been paid for. The guy in front of you paid for it. When we asked if it was a random act of kindness, he replied No, I think I cut him off. Please extend my apologies.” Huh?! The person about to commit a random act of kindness, just got served a random act?! Who cool is that?!

When I explained to the Barista my plan for the morning and the irony of this gesture, we both chuckled as the person I would have  bought a coffee for, bought one for me. Nevertheless, I asked her to keep it going and still chuckling she complied.

The moral of the story is this…people may cut you off…stay on task. Whatever the goal of the day, do not let others sway you from having a good day. In the end, you will be happier and the mundane will not seem so mundane. Who knows…you might be pleasantly surprised as to how things work out.

Stepping into the Canvas ‘Paying it Backwards.’ As we step out today, may we practice random acts of kindness. Whether it be paying it forward or, while at your favorite coffee shop, ‘pay it backwards.’ In the end you will have made someones day, you will feel better and the domino effect can go on for eternity…


Reigniting One’s Faith

It is often difficult to keep faithful when the world around us is collapsing. How do we stay faithful?…How do we stay focused on the positive side of things?…How do we stay positive in the canvas of life?

Next is a story of how one woman lost her faith, only to realize it had never left.

A friend of mine told me of her Grandmother and how strong her faith was. Her Grandmother’s faith was the rock of the family, but one day her faith had been lost…

One day her Grandmother explained to her, “I feel that I am losing my faith and God has abandoned me. I don’t feel I have a purpose anymore.”  Her Granddaughter didn’t know what to do, so she called other family members to help restore her faith.

While consoling Grandma, one of the children had noticed something very peculiar in the kitchen. The refrigerator had the word faith spelled out in letter magnets. You know that kind…when we were little? We used to spell out words on our parents refrigerator. The family noticed the word faith was missing a letter ‘T.’

“Mom, here is your problem! You have lost the ‘T’ in faith on your refrigerator, this must be why you are missing your faith?!” Insisting they look for the ‘T’ and that her faith resides in that word, they looked high and low for the ‘T’. They looked inside the fridge and out, but could not find it anywhere. They even pulled the refrigerator out and looked behind…but nothing…they lost hope. This left her helpless. Not finding the ‘T,’ grandma was left on her knees crying out with her arms raised to the heavens. With arms extended up she cried out, “I just need to know that everything will be okay.”

The very next day grandma woke and began her day by asking God for a sign, “Please Lord give me a sign that everything is going to be okay.  I don’t know what I’m going to do.  I don’t know if I have a purpose anymore…please just tell me it’s going to be okay.”  As she approached the fridge…she opened it. As she opened the refrigerator, there was the ‘T’ on the shelf.  The ‘T’ clearly was not there the day before, but miraculously has appeared. As if God himself was telling her it’s going to be okay…He placed a ‘T’ upon her shelf.

The irony to the story:  just as grandma was looking for her faith on the outside, we too are reminded that our faith resides on the inside. Traveling an inward journey we find our faith is truly strong. While Grandma found her faith restored within the refrigerator, she realized it was restored within herself.

We all have our challenging moments in life, but how we react to them…shall define our days ahead. We can waffle in misery or we can Shine On!  As we move forward in faith, our hope is restored…hope for a brighter future. When things bring us to our knees, rest for a moment and await the miracle in action. If we have a moment of helplessness or loneliness…rest…it too shall pass.

We are never alone…even when we are. If we enjoy the company of those present when alone…we shall never be alone. Plus we have a Senior partner with us, at all times…waiting for us to begin dialogue. Even if the world crashes down around us…we shall be taken care of.

Stepping into the Canvas by faith. No matter the outcomes, we shall focus on our own house. Keeping our own house in order, happiness begins eternal. It is through our faith that all will be good, we attract just that…more of what we want in our lives. Through our faith, we gain hope and through Hope we align with higher vibrations of creativity…Creating the life we want to Live.

The Parable Of The Lonely Shepherd

It is often difficult to stay a course of The Way, without getting side-tracked or pushed down another path. The key to staying the course, is through mindfulness. When we practice awareness of who we are or our greatest desires, we tend to remain focused on that which we most desire. But what about the suffering around us? How do we pretend everything is ‘hunky-dory?’

While the pilgrim remains lost, seeking The Way, the Warrior is found practicing The Way.~Ani Po

It is typically a small few who will rise above suffering and despair. Subscribing to a destructive way of life no longer serves them well and they begin to see life as beautiful as it can be. While the suffering remains, focus shifts towards happiness.

Suffering will always exist, but affix not our gaze upon it.~Ani Po

It is often written that we are to “brush the dirt off our sandals,” moving on our way. This does not suggest we pretend it does not exist or smug those in need. Not at all! We are to help when possible, but when others are set in their ways, unwilling to listen to our suggestions of change, then we must free ourselves by ‘wiping our sandals clean.’ This next story is about a man who knows this all too well.

Ani Po has a good friend who is a Pastor for an inner city church and makes it his life passion to aid those who are lost. A day does not pass, when he tells Ani Po of another funeral, “buried another young man this past week.” I recall him asking, “How am I supposed to continue helping people, when I can’t help them?” Reminding him of the simple teachings “we cannot save anyone, but we can show them the water of life. We can show them to the well…but they must drink from it.”

He smiled, as if he already knew this, but it was helpful to be reminded. Just as he needed reminding, Ani Po is not impervious to reminding. Have you ever been there? Have you ever needed a good reminding, when the message needed shows up? We all have our moments when we trip, but how quickly we get up depends on our practice. When we practice mindfulness, we practice awareness of who we are and how we shall or want to react to a given situation.

But what of this lonely shepherd? Ani Po continues the conversation with her friend as she is reminded of the loneliness he must feel. As everyone else follows a given way, he attempts to shift their thinking to following The Way. Just as a shepherd tends to his flock, so to the Pastor from the city.

Ani Po knows the feeling of loneliness. As she assertively moves forward in The Way, she is ridiculed daily on how she chooses to live her life. She smiles regularly at the others, as she sees how that way is working out for them, but chooses a way of happiness.

Even under great scrutiny the good shepherd tends to the one lost sheep. He may even, if necessary, leave the rest of the herd unattended to attend to the one lost sheep. Ani Po knows this is how it is supposed to be and we are all to attend our flock, with willingness to abandon others to secure safety of the one lonely sheep.

This Pastor is a lonely shepherd. He goes into darkened regions, when everyone else has given up. He Lights a flame of Hope for those who have lost their faith. He does not follow a rule book, but he follows his heart. He does not Love one person and not the other…He Loves freely for All people, randomly sending Agape into the world…knowing that he was never really alone.

Stepping into the Canvas as a Lonely Shepherd…Often doing what is right when not accepted by the masses…even when they are going left, you go right. Our character is defined by our willingness to do what is right, not for any one person but ourselves. When we stop worrying about approval from others, we accept our own approval.


Way Finding: Choosing One’s Path

There is a lot of talk about right and wrong, this way or that way, but never really a clear direction on the proper path. The proper path being different for each and everyone of us. They say there are many paths to enlightenment…how we get there is up to us.
Even in the darkest times we can find a bright idea. While in our brightened times we embrace all there is. Either way there is always light…a path to enlightenment. Unless there is a void of darkness or the absence of light, there is always a bright idea.
To choose one’s path, is merely just that…a choice. We can choose a path of destruction or a path of creation, either way, directly or indirectly, we are creating a path of creation.
Just this morning, when having words with a friend, our discussion became deep by  normal ears. Discussing whether there is a right way or wrong way in life, we concluded it comes down to perception and choices to which Way to go. Which ever direction we choose, both have cause and effect. Witnessing our discussion an onlooker says, “This is getting really deep.” We chuckle and ask him to join in…he declines. “There’s just too much bullshit going on in this world, without it potentially affecting us and bringing us down.”
That is when it hit me. I explained to them, “yes bullshit is real, but even bullshit can lead to enlightenment. I once thanked a man for being the ass he was, thereby showing me how to be. Directly or indirectly, another human being can show us how to be. No matter the given situation of the day, we have a choice. A choice of being happy or angry.”

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.~Rumi

There are two types of people in our lives whom influence our actions. The direct influence of another and the indirect influence, either way we are influenced by the people around us. The caution being the indirect influences, as they can potentially redirect our ways in the opposing direction.

First the direct influence of another: one who emits qualities in which we admire and have a desire to emanate. These are the folks in which we look up to, wishing or altering our lives to match theirs. The caveat to this is, these people can either influence us to follow a path of darkness and destruction or a path of light and creation. Along a path of darkness, we do what want, without consideration for those around us and potentially harming others for self-gain. While the other looks at the greater picture of spreading more light and love into the world, aligning steps whilst keeping others in consideration. If an individual has made a choice of following a darkened path, then the indirect influence would be that of someone who follows a path of light. The caveat, the indirect influence could potentially bring this person into a more creative role and into a path of creation (humbly speaking…not a bad thing).

Karma moves in two directions. If we act virtuously, the seed we plant will result in happiness. If we act non-virtuously, suffering results.~Sakyong Mipham

The indirect influence is anyone who emanates behavior that does not align with our own views or perceptions of reality. Again, if we are on a path of light and love, then the indirect influences can only increase our cause or bring us down. If we are on a path of darkness and destruction, then the indirect influences may strengthen our darkened ways or tip us into a path of Light and Love. Sounds like we are back to choice.

Wherever you stand, be the Soul of that place.~Rumi

Stepping into the Canvas with choice. Whether we splatter the Canvas with colors of grey or paint with vibrant colors of the soul, may it be so confidently in the direction you seek. Directly or indirectly influenced by another, we have choice to follow or run the other way…either way it comes down to choice…This is The Way.

Connected By Spirit

Have you ever had a serendipitous moment, when things just went right…or as I like to call it…a Syncrosensational moment? At this level, it seems even animals are speaking? When we are aligned with source energy, the Universe speaks through various channels…nature being one of them. Nature has a way of functioning with or without us, but more importantly aiding us along The Way. Those willing to listen will be guided by nature when necessary.

Ani Po was driving north on a local freeway, when a Hawk demanded her attention. As if speaking to her, the Hawk informed her of a coming lesson. With the Hawk perched high in the sky and her back towards Ani Po…she thinks “it is a message from above (via Spirit).” Just as this thought approaches her, another Hawk greets her from a lower stance. Perched below eye-level, she knows a message is coming from below (the flesh). Can it be another example of…as above, so below?

Completing her day as normal, she is leaving work awhile replaying message left by a friend. Her friend Mamani, left her message with a music composition and requested her review. As she reviewed the song, seven turkeys stopped her in her tracks. Bringing her truck to a complete stop, to let the turkeys pass, she hears a message, “connecting through spirit. As in the flesh, so shall the spirit be.”

Ani Po understood this message very clearly, as she knew it meant we are all connected. We are all connected, but there are often times many special connections we make. Those who walk inspired or in spirit, often times connect at the level of spirit…allowing to enter and exit as needed in each others lives. When one is down, another instinctively calls to cheer them, without real knowledge of anything being wrong. They call precisely as needed. Just as she received this lesson…Mamani calls her on the phone.

They were indeed connected in Spirit. They laughed at the connection through turkeys,  music,  and the Love they share. It gets better…

As Ani Po and Mamani share the lesson of life, Ani Po is greeted by another Hawk. This time facing her at eye-level, as if stating “well done, well done.” A Hawk perched facing away from Ani Po, usually means a lesson is coming. When the Hawk faces Ani Po, it means Her lesson was received. As the lesson closes, she considers “there is another lesson on the way.” Assuredly…a Hawk is perched with back to her…

Whether it is possible to connect at levels of Spirit or not, Ani Po knows the truth. For her, it is possible to connect at levels of spirit, allowing people to walk harmoniously on this Earthly plane. For her, messages from Spirit often come via the Hawk or other winged-friends. Walking in Spirit, she is connected to Mamani. Walking in Spirit, she connects with the Universal Life Force.

While Ani Po finds her way within the Canvas of Life, we too must learn from the many lessons laid before us. As one lesson is completed, another appears. Walking in flesh, connect by Spirit.

As we continue through our days, we walk in flesh whilst remaining connected in spirit. Connected in Spirit we move effortlessly throughout the Canvas, receiving messages along the way.

Stepping into the Canvas in Spirit. Walking in flesh, connected by Spirit, we collaborate with the Universal Life Force, allowing dormant forces to come alive…aiding in our journey of life. We coexist in this thing called life, living harmoniously at all plains…discovering life to be Syncrosensational.