Whoever wills to save his life, will lose it.
— Matthew 16:25

The spiritual path is a path fundamentally defined by undoing. Letting go. Removing. It crisscrosses from the gross to refined levels in a kind of ascending, spiral staircase manner.

At every level and every rotation, it is your attachments that are being inspected and loosened. Attachments to people, to places, to things, to habits, and especially to beliefs.

On a gross level, that could mean a marriage or job. On a refined level, that could mean an understanding of who you are.

If the attachment is being removed — and you'll know it when it is because it hurts — it is blocking the road. Sometimes it feels like punishment but there is no such thing.

We punish ourselves by trying to cling to the attachment and by fighting for "what's right." Not only do we suffer but we remain stuck in the familiar.

Behind every attachment is a belief about the way things should be. Those beliefs cause separation, mainly between you as observer and the thing as subject.

If I believe vegetarianism is right, I become an I, and those who disagree, become other.

In reality, vegetarianism is both right and wrong (you can find useful and harmful applications) and so neither absolutely. Every belief is like that.

If I am attached to my beliefs, i.e., I hold them as absolutely true about this or that particular way, watch how life will conspire to inform you otherwise.

We are trying to reduce the I to nothing. Then we get free.

Even Understanding

You can only judge that which is different from this.

Easy targets include ethnicity, religious belief, identity decisions, and profession.

Behind ethnicity is a human heart that enjoys delicious food and flinches at the sight of an incoming punch (and might punch back).

Behind religious belief is a witness looking for a feeling of greater connection.

Behind identity is a being looking for truth.

Behind profession is somebody trying to get by.

No matter your particular definition, I'm guessing you can easily relate to all of these things.

Even understanding requires us to "see behind the wall." To take a split second to realize there is a lot more to the world — particularly people — than meets the eye. Take it as some kind of symbol that only 4% of the known universe is visible in the form of stars, planets, and galaxies. The other 96% is invisible.

Where then to place our focus? On the tiny, tip of the iceberg that you can see? Or the depths far below?

Of course, that is your choice. Limited understanding by nature is limiting however, and there is plenty of it to go around these days.

Even understanding doesn't discredit surface differences—not at all. Surface differences give life spice and variety, otherwise it would get a bit boring around here. But how, truly, can you judge turmeric superior to ginger, when both serve a nearly identical purpose?

Even understanding says that we are this and that, at the same time. We are the ocean, and we are the ocean drop. And if you are, so is everybody else.

That is love.

Instead, love.

To solve our current humanitarian and ecological crises, political solutions will not avail us.

If Jesus Christ himself were to appear tomorrow, remove all human pollution from the earth, causing a mass regeneration of the environment, how long would it take before we started demolishing forests again?

Without out a corresponding change in human consciousness, we will keep repeating the same pattern of turmoil.

Well, we may not. We are at a turning point. Either, we realize we are part of one human family profoundly interconnected with the environment around us — and when one suffers, we all suffer — or, we watch the human experiment come to an end.

Instead of protest, we can plant. We can plant seeds of goodness. We do this every time we “sit.”

To sit means to stop, close eyes, check in, connect with self, and come in contact with deeper vibrations of truth and love. There are many ways to do this, as shared by all the religious teachings the world knows.

Every time we sit, we plant.

Don’t underestimate the potency of such small acts multiplied across a percentage point of a population as large as ours.

Resist the urge to react in anger. Instead, plant. Instead, sit. Instead, be.

Instead, love.

(And watch the outer respond in kind.)