Consciousness… Week 03


a Moment for Wisdom…



A Moment for…



“Your biggest problems and your worst obsessions contain the seeds of your own growth and development.” 

Sara Halprin




Personal Wisdom:


What are your biggest problems?


What are your worst obsessions?



Societal Wisdom:


What are the biggest problems in our society?


What are the worst obsessions in our society?


(Hint: They have nothing to do with the current “fad” issues (like debt ceilings or Congressional budgets) that are broadcast by our media.)




a Moment with Sharif…




We tend to think of “problems” as something to be “solved” or “fixed”.  Just say to someone, “I have a headache”.  They will instantly offer Tylenol, a shoulder rub, the latest headache remedy… we do everything other than look at the headache as an opportunity.

If you’ve been following these “Moments”, you will know that everything is connected to everything else; everything is a reflection of everything else; everything IS everything else.

That being true, of course your problems, obsessions, limitations, barriers and fears
are all pointers to your growth and development as a human being. 

As someone said to me awhile ago, when I mentioned that someone was “pushing my
buttons”, they replied, “Of course they’re pushing your buttons.  It’s why you have buttons.”

So, now that you’re making friends with your problems, obsessions, limitations and
addictions… what’s next?

All of these things POINT in a particular direction.  They are not only the seeds, they
are also the PATH of your growth and development.

Does it seem like you are always attracting the “wrong” sort of relationship – even after being “clear” what you wanted in relationship?  Guess what: there’s something that you are supposed to learn there!Does it seem like you run into the same problems, all the
time?  (For me, its keeping my desk – or any horizontal surface – from being cluttered.) There is something IN that problem… some lesson, some cure, some understanding…
that you have not yet embodied.And the Divine, in its infinite patience, will keep it coming to you, until you “get it”.

The faster you can open yourself to the lesson-value, the sooner you can get it!

Deeper: the quote doesn’t say “your problems”, it says “your biggest problems”.  It doesn’t say “your obsessions”, it says, “your worst obsessions”.The ones that have held on the longest, the ones that seem to be the most intractable, are the ones that contain the most “medicine”.  And, of course, they are the ones we most try to avoid.

At this level, the struggle through these limitations becomes the central struggle of our
lives, the center of our spiritual growth as beings in this Universe.  Everything else, every other issue, pales to insignificance next to this quest, for medicine and for Center.  (The quest for your own medicine mirrors the medicine that we need for our human societies in general.  Our need for deeper personal connection is mirrored in the need in our society for human connection – a need that is NOT filled by Facebook fluff.)

Deeper still:  If you are reading this and saying, “Well, I don’t have any problems or obsessions!  Everything is fine with my life!”  Here’s some breaking news:  everyone who has a body, everyone who can read these words, has spiritual work to do on the Earthly plane.  If you didn’t have any problems… you wouldn’t be here, reading this.

If you honestly cannot identify any significant problems or obsessions, ask a couple of good friends and/or family members.  Pay attention to the list they come up with!






Consciousness Exercises:


This week’s “Consciousness” exercises: 


On the theme of problems and obsessions, the most important exercise you can do this week is watch the TED talk by actress Thandie Newton,  (thanks to
Andrea Metheny for passing it along to me).  After watching it, respond to these questions.


  1. How did Ms. Newton’s self-disclosure make you feel?  Did you sympathize?  Empathize?  Did you feel separated or alienated from her experiences?
  2. Did Ms. Newton’s experience give you any additional insights into your own problems and obsessions?  If so, how would you characterize them?
  3. Ultimately, our issues regarding “spiritual starvation” stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the term “I”.  We are taught that this thing called “I” is somehow separated from… everything, including our own bodies and minds.  Einstein referred to that as a “delusion of consciousness”.  How do you react to Ms. Newton’s references to her “I”?  Do you agree? Disagree?
  4. For one day, try to go one day without using the term “I”.  See how odd it feels.
    (Try to practice this with others, or at least with their knowledge, so that they can be supportive – or at least know that you haven’t lost your marbles.) If you need to make a self-referential statement, use a different referent term.
    For example:
    1. Replace “I” with “this one” (and “you” with “that one”).  For example: “This one is hungry.”
    2. Replace “I” with your given name.  For example: “Sharif is hungry”.
    3. Replace “I” with “this part of me” (and “you” with “that part of me”).  For
      example: “This part of me is hungry”.  (This becomes particularly interesting when you practice it for awhile.  You start to notice that “I”
      consists of several different parts – many of them in self-conflict.  “This part of me wants to go to bed, and this part of me wants to stay up and
      party all night”.  Also notice how you can refer to “objects” in this way: “This part of me is a tree that needs water”.)
    4. Replace “I” with no referent at all.  (This is particularly linguistically tricky.)For example:“There is hunger, and it is located here.”

This is more than a cute linguistic trick.  Every single day, we reinforce our separation from others, and from ourselves, through constantly referring to oneself as an object of separation. 

  1. Last exercise:Take a really deep breath.Now, take another.If you can do that, if you still have a breath-breathing body, congratulations!  You’ve got more work to do, and you’re in the PERFECT place to do it!







All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.








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4 Responses to Consciousness… Week 03

  1. Shirlene says:

    We are all indeed connected……
    Great praxis, Sharif.
    Again and again- thank you!

  2. Marie-Jeanne Reynolds says:

    Thanks Sharif for sharing your thoughts.
    They shall inspire my day.
    I would be grateful if you could include me in your mailing.

  3. Lois says:

    Thandie talked about living from essence or as you said, taking the “I” out. Perfect. My fingers are trying to communicate appreciation for the ideas in today’s Praxis.

  4. Susie says:

    I have just returned from vacation and don’t have time to really comment thoroughly, but I loved Thandie’s talk and I also really appreciated the exercise, especially as a linguist. I think the “this part of me, that part of me” one was really the most effective (for me) in underscoring our oneness. I believe we are all one, but I really got the feeling you were after when I considered “this part of me, that part of me.” I probably won’t be doing the exercise out loud, but I am going to replace pronouns in my head as I go about my day. I think it would be a good habit to get into to really FEEL oneness with others.

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