A: Well really the question isn’t the role that nature plays in your journey, but how you perceive nature based on your frame of reference. So for instance, right now it’s snowing outside slightly, and it’s very beautiful. It’s beautiful how the snow covers the trees, the ground and it brings light and illumination to everything. Seeing it another way however, you could see it as cold, nasty, slippery and dangerous, something impeding your work, the list could go on and on. The ego has endless problems that it can project onto anything. That being said, when you go out in nature, you tend to put some distance between your higher Self and lower self. It makes you realize that there’s more than just your personal thinkings and problems and that the world and universe is much more expansive. When you see beauty in nature it reflects to you something outside of your ego that is not of your creation, that is just there, and that is the reason why it feels good, relaxing, and more like home. A good practice would be to get out in nature and look around for about an hour a day. It really helps to expand consciousness. Also, when we observe nature, it tends to slow down our brain waves and brings us out of the highly stressful high beta waves down into alpha waves. This not only reduces stress, but it also tends to lower blood pressure and help us observe the self (“little s self”). Therefore, strenthening our awareness of the Self (“Big S Self”). That is why you feel so much better when you go for long walks. Conversely, then your ego takes it and thinks that longer is better and wants to do it all the time. However, it’s all about balance. The key isn’t just to become identified with the higher Self but to be aware of the small self and the big Self at the same time and have them come into a union. The ego is an expert at creating either/or situations. This is how on the Journey to Enlightenment, one of the first steps is the development of the spiritual ego. Knowledge of this will result in recognition of the spiritual ego versus true spirituality and help you realize that you are neither the big Self nor the small self but a union of the two.

A: I wouldn’t worry about it. When you’re done, you’re done. That being said, the ego’s questions and problems are endless, so you can always manufacture more questions and problems for me to answer. Also, the Self is forever expanding, growing, and evolving. So there will be continuous questions and answers. There is no “end”. The “end” is a fabricated concept of the ego. It creates time, and like I said, time can be used as a tool, but eventually, the tool takes over and starts to run the show, leaving stress, anxiety, depression and all sorts of human suffering. Learn to respect time, but live in the moment. Now that’s something to contemplate.

A: The importance of time is very much related to your question about the afterlife. Without time, there would be no importance or immediacy to the ego. Just picture this, if you had a job to do, set forth by your boss, but he put no time restraint on it. Many people would not even start the job, they would just let it sit there. In the same way, if our ego does not have something to compare our progress to, it tends to also not get started with a job, undertaking or journey. Herein lies the importance of time. So time is actually very important. However, the ego then because of its dual nature, of seeing thing only one-sided, not both sides or gradations in the middle, sees time and performance as the most important things and either strives for them, gives up, or creates denial to its own progress. One must take the middle ground when dealing with time and performance and see that they are supremely important, however not develop stress and anxiety around them. If you contemplate on these two things, with time and results on one side, and enjoying the present moment on the other side, and bring them to your heart center, a synthesis will occur wherein you respect time and progress but live in the moment, honoring them.

A: There’s quite a big difference actually. Why is this? When you work for yourself, all the responsibility rests on your shoulders, you get to see the fruits of your actions directly. When you work for somebody else, you don’t take responsibility for everything. Someone else is in charge. If something fails, you can blame it on somebody else. If something succeeds, it’s because of somebody else. Working for yourself is ideal for spiritual discernment and progress. That being said, if you find yourself in a good stable job making good money, with benefits, this may also add your spiritual progress because the fact that it will be low-stress, and It will give you more of an opportunity to work on your spirituality and your practice. Like everything, discernment between the two is needed. However, if you feel yourself pulled up to your own business, that would be ideal for spiritual growth.

Q: How can we relax the pressure of time?

A: First, one has to realize that most of the pressures of “time” are actually pressures of “the ego”.  Time can’t put pressure on you at all. If someone, or even you, tell you that you have to get something done by a certain hour, time of day, or day, this is not time, but someone’s, or your own opinion on what is wanted.  A simple technique to help with this is to ask yourself, “Is it true?”

> Is it true I need to pay my bills on time?
> Is it true I need to make dinner by this time?
> Is it true that I need to retire at this age?
> Is it true that I need to be doing such and such with my career by such and such a time?

The ego’s demands are endless. To try and pacify the ego will never work.  By its very nature, the ego is a problem generator/solver.  It will find a problem in virtually anything, then try and figure out how to fix it.

However, when you ask yourself “Is it true I need to go to the store by such and such a time?” a curious thing happens. All of a sudden, you find all these constrictions of time, all these needs, are actually “wants”. You want to be on time to work to do a good job.  You want to retire by a certain age. You want to save this much money by this time.  And so on.

Just feel the feeling that you get when you say “I want”, vs. “I need”. The “I need” is a confirmation of the emptiness of the ego.  It says “I need this to be happy, to be complete”. “I want” is very different.

It’s natural for us to want things, and when you acknowledge this, you are allowing yourself to be exactly as you are. It is only when “I want” morphs into “I need” that stress develops.

Try this experiment on yourself.

 

Q: Why do we feel stressed?

A: We feel stressed when we know that we should be doing one thing, while partaking in another, usually out of fear.  So instead of living out of the truth that we are, we are making choices, and therefore living, out of fear.  This is felt as “stress.”

Usually we keep this fear hidden from ourselves and find justifications for our actions rather than looking at how we are reacting out of fear.  If you want to know what you fear, if you are not aware of what you are afraid of, try this exercise.  Imagine yourself living your life completely in a state of no fear.  Picture your day from beginning to end, living in no fear.  What would you do differently?  Why?  Write down what you would do differently if you had no fear, and then write down why you don’t live like this.

This exercise will help you get closer to how you are living in fear and stress.  Be patient, practice this every day, especially when you feel stress.

At first, your ego will run in circles out of fear.  It will justify its fearful actions rather than let you observe them.  This is normal.  Practice watching your ego’s rationalizations.

Eventually you will feel what it is like to live with no fear, so that you can identify how you are living in fear and watch your fear instead of living out of it.  This will bring you peace and eliminate stress.