This Life Is Joy: Discovering the Spiritual Laws to Live More Powerfully, Lovingly, and Happily

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9780399174957: This Life Is Joy: Discovering the Spiritual Laws to Live More Powerfully, Lovingly, and Happily
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A simple, fun instruction manual for living a more joy-filled, authentic life!

By one of the most admired spiritual teachers in the country, this book shows us how every moment, every experience, and every person can be an opening for our soul--to greater understanding, more peace and joy, and an overwhelming experience of love. Divided into three easy-to-use parts, this book will:

- Tell a fable that puts our spiritual journey into context. 
- Discuss the seven spiritual principles that are universal to all of the world's wisdom traditions, becoming a map into our purpose and destiny.
- Show how nine specific challenges and difficulties (like fear, illness, and change) can be transformed into stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks.

Each chapter also includes three parts: the Essence, the Experience, and the Expression. The Essence gives the spiritual teaching behind each principle, the Experience tells a story, illustrating the principles from Dr. Teel's own life or the life of one of his many followers, and the Expression gives specific instructions for readers to embody that principle for themselves. Filled with advice that can only come from a lifetime of practicing these traditions, this book will be a unique and indispensable guide to people who want more from their lives.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Dr. Roger Teel holds a degree in psychology and religion, as well as doctorate degrees in divinity and religious science. He has served pulpits in Oregon and California, and in 1993, he returned to his home church—Mile Hi Church in Colorado—where he serves as Senior Minister and Spiritual Director to more than 10,000 members and friends. Through storytelling, humor, and practical spirituality, Dr. Teel's transformative messages help empower people and lead them to their limitless potential to live dynamically.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

FOREWORD

PREFACE

PART ONE

Openings into Life Mastery:
A Short Story

He was a seeker. Always had been. Earlier in life his all-consuming search was for more . . . more recognition, money and possessions, friends and lovers, opportunities and advancement, pleasures and satisfaction—what he had come to believe was “the good life.” And he had achieved a fairly good measure of success in most of these areas. Lately, however, he could no longer run away from or deny a desperate feeling of hollowness that saturated most of his waking moments. Everything acquired thus far not only failed to deliver much joy, it seemed only to intensify his yearning. Now he began to search for something beyond . . . for a better way, higher meaning, greater fulfillment. He worked hard at his labors and tried to live a good life, yet he was haunted by the beckoning of this something beyond. He couldn’t quite define it, but it was real in his heart.

Sometimes he felt close to the discovery, but lately it felt more out of reach than ever. This seeming lack of progress was unsettling, disheartening, frustrating. Self-doubt washed over him and he wondered if the searching was mere fantasy or a ceaseless dissatisfaction with life. Maybe it was time to give up, let it all go, find a way to make do.

Then he heard the news: an awakened one—a keeper of the mystic keys to truth, happiness, and freedom—was traveling in this region. Few, they said, had been allowed to speak with this lofty soul, but many had been comforted and blessed just by being in this one’s presence. The seeker’s heart leapt. He knew he had to sit at the feet of this master, no matter what it required of him. Though his pursuit took several weeks of arduous travel, his determination brought him successfully to the awakened one’s encampment. The seeker pleaded so fervently that the attendants were moved to convene a special council. Finally they announced that the seeker would be granted an unprecedented audience the next morning. He rejoiced and hardly slept at all.

At dawn’s first light, he was ushered away from the main camp to a clearing in the forest. Sitting by a small fire was the great sage, enfolded in a hooded white robe. The seeker knelt on the other side of the fire, lost control, and began to sob. Then he caught his breath, composed himself, and told of his lifelong searching . . . the passion, the relentlessness, and, lately, the frustration.

When finished, he felt pangs of embarrassment from this uncontrolled litany. He looked up in time to see the great one pull back the hood of the robe. The seeker was stunned. The master before him was a woman, and her radiance immediately sent waves of warmth flooding over him. Her features expressed the essence of feminine energy . . . gentle yet powerful, ageless, wizened, compassionate. It was not what he had expected, yet somehow he knew it was exactly what he needed.

She began to speak, but not of simple answers. Instead, she offered him an opportunity if he was up to it, a chance to challenge himself beyond anything he’d attempted thus far. Would he be willing to be placed in a situation in which he would have to find a way out . . . an experience that would force him to find a different approach? There was a risk, she explained. He could get lost in this experience, languish, or even perish in it. As he considered her invitation he felt a tightening of fear . . . followed by a greater quickening of anticipation. He agreed to submit himself to this unknown trial. After all, how could it be worse than the constant gnawing he felt most of his days?

Sensing the seeker’s sincerity, the awakened one rose and moved slowly before him. She lifted her hands and placed them upon his forehead. The seeker was immediately plunged into an alternate reality. He felt himself accelerating beyond control down some sort of passageway or corridor. After a while he slowed, but was then thrust into a very dark space. When he fell to its floor, the space closed all around him and he lay stunned in a cavernous darkness. When his eyes adjusted, he could barely make out that he was, indeed, trapped in a cave. Where was the lesson in this? he wondered.

After a while he began to look for a way out of this place. His hands groped all over the walls, looking for an opening of any kind. But he couldn’t find any. Just when he thought he was lost and destitute, a minimal serving of food and water appeared as if by magic. This sustained him as he continued to search for a way out. He lost all track of time and marked his days by the appearance of his meal. At one point, he began to climb up little crevices in the wall, thinking that an opening might be near the ceiling of this cave. But again he found nothing and several times fell back to the floor. Day after day he searched. He scoured every inch of the place to no avail. He felt totally trapped and bruised in so many ways.

As dark as was the cave, after a while the seeker stumbled into an even darker place within himself. He became uncontrollably angry. He shouted, cursed, and railed against God, against the sage by the campfire, against life itself. Then he turned on himself, verbally lacerating himself as a miserable, lost, worthless being. No wonder he was cast into this living hell. After ranting for who knows how long, he collapsed in utter dejection and hopelessness. He felt like he was melting into the floor of the cave, into nothingness.

There was no more fight in him.

It was then that he realized something that gave him his first sense of relief in a long time: it wasn’t his entrapment that was the real problem; it was the nature of his searching . . . forceful, controlling, violent in its own way. He came to understand for the first time that this kind of searching was futile, even damaging. It made finding an opening more elusive than ever. It was getting him nowhere, wearing him out. And . . . it was preparing him for something else.

Having played out so much within himself, he now felt empty . . . in a good way. No longer did he scrutinize the walls, ceiling, and floor of the cave. He closed his eyes and became still. He asked for help and surrendered his resistance to the unknown. He made his awareness pliable and let go of his certainties and judgments . . . about everything.

Then it began: The seeker perceived a light gently glowing within him. How had he not seen this before? He took his whole attention there and gave himself to the light’s allure. He felt himself moving again but in a different way . . . expanding. The cave could no longer confine him. He didn’t leave it, really; he grew bigger. The cave of darkness began to shrink into a small space within him while, at the same time, he began to enlarge as an extension of the light. The illusion was that he was within the cave; now he knew that, in truth, the cave was within him, and at that very moment, he was free. His opening was found not through overcoming, but by becoming . . . becoming more than the dark place. It was the realization of realizations: The way out was not “out there” but “in here.” A portal to a more expansive and powerful reality, a Light, was within him—then, and in every situation, all the time, no matter what.

He relaxed and opened his eyes. To his surprise, he was sitting by that campfire again in the presence of the revered sage. He looked deeply into her eyes and she smiled knowingly. Now he understood. A deep and marvelous Joy surged forth from the wellspring he had discovered within himself . . . and he, too, smiled.

As with most teaching stories and parables, this is my story, your story, everyone’s story. We are all seekers, not because something is missing that we must struggle to find. We search for more because we are made of more, so much more than we usually know. We are participants in greater dimensions of reality than we realize when trapped in worldly, ego-oriented awareness. There are times when human experience is really difficult and painful. But have you ever sensed that something in your approach might be making it even more troublesome . . . and that there is a pathway of life mastery that could not only free you but also evolve you? Have you sensed a deep calling to discover and master more enlightened ways?

Consider this: in our hardened world and our busy lives . . . amid our problems, issues, and troubles with others . . . there are openings. These openings are higher realizations that create inner actualizations. When we see the opening’s light, even as an inner ember, and let these higher realizations have their way with us, we are ushered into greater frequencies of awareness and expanded dimensions of life mastery.

It is then that we experience more lofty and powerful aspects of the authentic Self, our spiritual nature, and its profound capacities.

It is then that we have the wherewithal to open to more effective responses and answers.

It is then that we know, with certainty, that there is that Something within us that is always greater than anything facing us.

It is then that we expand and transcend.

It is then that we can find light in the darkness and open up to a limitless storehouse of opportunities and possibilities.

It is then that we become the healers and peacemakers that God, the Creative Source of all Life, has designed each of us to be.

It is then, as a mystic put it, that we “let God be God—in, through, and as us.”

When circumstances seem very dark, it is transforming to remember that all things are more than they seem to be . . . and that you are more than you seem to be. There is a way to find openings into life mastery that are different from the “usual” approaches. It is not found by aggressive searching or by fighting, resisting, or attacking whatever is going on. It is not found by hiding or suppressing aspects of ourselves. In the language of integral philosophy, the more powerful approach is to transcend and include. It is being willing to grow larger in awareness than the dark spaces, ever mindful that though the dark spaces may be reduced, they do continue to reside within us. In the language of spiritual psychology, this is embracing the rejected or disowned parts of us—the shadow—just as the seeker finally quit fighting parts of himself. In this way, we embrace all that we are and are freed to expand into greater dimensions of awareness and livingness. A greater light guides our way into newness, wholeness, and mastery.

There are times in life to push forward, to make things happen, to take a dominating approach. This is the masculine dynamic in full expression, and it is also the foremost strategy employed throughout most aspects of Western culture. In fact, to take any other approach is very often ridiculed, much as introversion is often erroneously held to be inferior to extroversion. However, our cultural imbalance toward the masculine has produced significant shortcomings and challenges. Since every person is a composite of masculine and feminine qualities, true mastery calls for a balancing of these modes of being. There are, equally, times to cease resisting, to allow, to expand, to become more—engaging the wisdom of the feminine—rather than to demand, attack, or coerce things. Most inner growth occurs when the feminine dynamic is introduced to balance the masculine, and it is becoming more and more clear that the most powerful arrangement is for the feminine aspect of each of us to be in overall leadership on our path, with the masculine toolkit being utilized wisely to bring forth results when this is appropriate. At the collective level, a renewal of the leadership of the divine Feminine is now essential for the evolution of humanity as we seek openings into greater peace and well-being for all.

Most often, the caves that trap and limit us are our definitions and judgments of things. By insisting on these limiting definitions and judgments, we stay trapped, frustrated, and bruised. The opening is found by discovering and embracing a more expansive realization of what is going on and who we are. By dissolving the illusion that life’s fullness and greatness is missing, we free ourselves from the unyielding and debilitating search for more and better. Then a greater potential can be birthed, suppressed magic can be unleashed. Situations begin to transform as awareness expands. Miracles, healings, and serendipity emerge without all the struggle and aggressiveness. What unfolds is of a higher order than what otherwise would have been. There is the wondrous realization that, in this process, we have become instruments of something greater—call it God, Spirit, Love, Truth, or whatever you choose. This is the next stage of human evolution, for we are the enlightened ones we have been seeking. That is what this book is all about.

What follows in the next two parts is a rich set of opportunities to move from searching to becoming . . . to discover and move through life-empowering openings. These openings complement one another and can lead us into the experience of powerful new dimensions of mastery. This mastery is not acquiring something missing, nor is it a conquering of opponents or obstacles; it is an empowering of our awareness of what life really is, who we really are, and how we can create a masterful relationship with anything that might seem to block our progress. You will learn how to go from resistance to transcendence.

Part Two will support you in moving through openings into truth . . . giving you a more expansive and empowered understanding of reality that alone can change and up-level everything. Then, Part Three will give you the keys for transforming the difficult situations we all encounter on life’s journey. You will be equipped with insights and tools to enhance your awareness. You will be shown how to grow beyond old limitations and how to create openings for healings and blessings greater than you might ever have imagined. Each chapter begins with “The Essence,” core realizations about that particular opening . . . followed by “The Experience,” how that opening has been discovered or used in life experiences . . . and then “The Expression,” ways you can activate and move through each opening.

It is all about moving into the masterful You! The spiritual teacher and writer Ernest Holmes offered a pivotal reminder: That which you are searching for . . . you are searching with. Twentieth-century Indian guru Ramana Maharshi also declared: There is no greater mystery than this . . . that we keep seeking Reality though, in fact, we are Reality. May the teachings in this book become for you dynamic openings into all things great, gracious, and glorious! And may your pilgrimage to enlightenment bring you into the presence of your very own Awakened Self.

(Author’s Note: Throughout this book, I capitalize certain word...

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