"To be really sorry for one's errors is like opening the door to heaven." --
As horrible as it is, prison can be a positive experience overall and an invaluable opportunity to change the course of one's life. It is an excellent time to think back on everything you have ever said and done, both good and bad, and judge your conduct. Are you essentially a good person? Why did you behave the way you did? What would you do differently? What advice would you give your old self? How can you be a better person today? It's a difficult process, for sure; we all have a lot to remember and review no matter what our age, and some of us have more regrets than we would care to face. But it's important for us all, regardless of whether we're in prison or not, to take a good hard look at ourselves in the mirror and to be honest about what we see. That's the first step.
And the sooner we all do this, the better it'll be for everyone. Many of us don't realize what dopes or jerks we are (hello alcoholics) and just blindly keep on keepin' on, as we've always done. Plus, many of us don't take personal responsibility for ourselves, instead of blaming other people or situations for our behavior. Each of us alone is responsible for our thoughts, words, and deeds and how we allow the thoughts, words, and deeds of others to affect us. And every one of us needs to be aware of just how much we affect the world around us.
The character of our thoughts is paramount. Without oversimplifying it too much, I believe that each thought can be rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with those coming entirely from Love a "10" and those entirely from Selfishness a "1" or even a "zero". Check in with yourself from time to time and rate your thoughts this way, it's enlightening. Of course, no one is perfect, but we should all strive for the balance each day to be tilted in the Love direction. Besides Selfishness, where do thoughts of Judgment fit in? Where are they on the scale? Good question. Perhaps any Judgment thoughts should just immediately be rejected and replaced with ones of Understanding. I found that the majority of our thoughts, especially judging ones, are simply habits or habitual reactions to things. When we pay more and more attention to our thoughts, we can catch ourselves thinking/reacting without really understanding something or taking the time to understand. We're usually too quick to judge. So, I guess we should always have two "thought meters" running in our heads: one for Selfishness and one for Judgment.But, unfortunately, there are many people who simply don't care whether their thoughts are selfish or judgmental or whatever. They're just taking care of business, looking out after number one, and there's nothing wrong with that, is there? It's not like it's against the law or anything; and being selfish or judgmental doesn't necessarily mean you're a bad person, does it? But every crime starts with a selfish thought, every hatred with a judgmental one, and who's to tell where such thoughts will eventually lead over time? It's best to get out of the habit sooner than later. So start now! Not to care about the quality of your thoughts is not to care about the quality of the life you lead. No matter what you might say to the contrary, no matter how tough you are, we all want the best possible life.
Just so you know -- believe it or not -- when we die, one of the very first things each of us does as an eternal soul is review the life we just lead. (The whole point of living is to learn and grow from experience, both good and bad, and this initial review is essential to get an overall picture of our progress. Further review compares this life with all her previous ones and helps us decide on the next.) But not only do we see our past life's events, we feel them emotionally. And not only do we again experience what happened to ourselves but also what we did to others; we feel how our thoughts, words, and deeds affected them. You'll feel every hug you ever gave, every good deed you ever did from their perspective, as well is every kick and hurtful word... something to keep in mind,huh?So, having such an opportunity in prison to review one's life so extensively beforehand is a real blessing. It's kind of like getting a head start so that not much will come as a surprise in the end. However, it's too easy, especially at first, to focus on the negative stuff, all the mistakes, rather than the good as well. Remorse can be overwhelming at times. It's just as important, to remember how good we really are, or at least try to be. As souls when we die, only we judge ourselves. (God/the Source/All That Is ) does not judge but only loves), but we tend to be pretty hard on ourselves. And I believe the same can be true in life once we accept full responsibility for every thought and action, as only we are to blame for them. However, the mistake we all usually make is that we punish ourselves for our perceived crimes rather than forgive ourselves. Instead of learning from our mistakes, becoming better for them, and moving on, we engage in self-destructive behavior, like drug and alcohol abuse, over eating, "acting out", sabotaging good jobs or relationships, or committing senseless crimes. We may not be consciously aware of it, but were punishing ourselves for something we feel guilty of. But to really know yourself is to understand that, ultimately, you are a spiritual being having a physical experience on earth, and that you are here to make mistakes in order to learn from them and grow spiritually. Guilt should have no place in your life. Recognize your errors and do your best not to repeat them, that is all. Forgive yourself as you forgive others. This is the final step.
You know, the Hawaiians really got it goin' on. Their's is a religion relatively untouched/unedited since the beginning of mankind. Today it's known for the most part as "Huna". It recognizes each person as having three selves: the waking consciousness, which senses the world around us; the subconscious, which primarily deals with memory; and the superconsciousness, which is our connection to the divine, our permanent, higher self. (Two great books are: "Mastering Your Hidden Self" by King, and "Fundamentals of Hawaiian Mysticism" by Bernie. See my book list at Mysticministries.org)An aspect of Huna that I practice religiously every day these days is "Ho'oponopono", which essentially means "to make right", or "to rectify an error". The practice has three parts to it: repentance, forgiveness, and transportation. The "repentance" is taking 100% responsibility for everything in my life -- every little thing, both good and bad, that I'm aware of, even the problems of others, as collectively we are all One in Spirit and co-creating our physical reality together unconsciously, and realizing that any problems/negativity I experience are the result of my acting upon memories (subconscious) rather than inspiration (super consciousness, the Divine). It's an acknowledgment that I don't have a clue what's really going on and that I really don't have control over everything. My intention is no match for inspiration. The "forgiveness" part is "letting go and letting God." It's about not getting hung up on guilt and blame but instead releasing issues as they arise, cleaning them from my subconscious and/or collective consciousness from where they ultimately came. And the "transmutation" is the divine neutralizing any negative perceived issues with love, replacing the dark with light. Essentially, as things, come up or as thoughts arise, I just repeat to myself, "I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you." That's it. Sometimes I'll say it fast, or sometimes I'll really reflect on each part of it as I repeat it over and over. Regardless of whether it "works" or not, it sure makes me feel better; it sure eases my mind and helps me cope with an otherwise unbearable environment/situation. As I repeat this mantra, I envision myself as a walking, talking lightbulb of Love. (While still being the "tough convict" on the outside, of course). My intention these days is to honor the intention of the Divine.
If you decide to try this method for yourself, please let me know how it goes. I know it may seem a little wacky, especially at first, but the simple act of repeating these four simple statements to yourself seems to work miracles. Notice how people react to you differently, like, "Wow, that guy is nuts." (just kidding!). It's very similar to Jesus' teachings of living in love, forgiveness and gratitude and that the Divine is within each of us, as well is the Buddhist teachings of releasing our attachments to the physical world and forgetting everything as it's all really a collective illusion of our own creation. Two righteous dudes for sure. Ditto for Krishna and Zarathustra,Taliesin,Lao Tzu,Yogananda,Sai Baba,and the Ba'hai guy and countless other teachers of spirituality throughout the ages. Those simple words -- "I love. I'm sorry. I forgive (I'm forgiven). Thank you." -- encompass the not so simple reason for our physical existence as spiritual beings.Anyway, one last thing before I go. Growing up, God to me was like Santa Claus: I couldn't believe in either without proof of some kind. Sunday school just didn't cut it. No one could answer my questions. The Bible -- don't even get me started. I always figured that there must be a Creative Force or something out there, but that we could never really know for certain. Well, let me tell you -- from one science - minded, hard - to -convince skeptic to another, -- a Divine realm does in fact exist, and it's possible to know and experience it for yourself without dying first. There is proof. It's a bit much to get into here, but if you're an atheist or an agnostic, as I once was, please do your research before coming to a conclusion. There are some amazing books out there that will blow your mind and possibly change your life forever . Be sure to read at least the first three on my book list at Mysticministries.org. Even if you already consider yourself a religious person, these books are very enlightening. I've been blessed with countless books sent from home over the years and these are the very best of the best without a doubt. Enjoy!
Thanks again, as always, for listening and caring. Bye for now.