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A guide to happiness
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A Guide to Happiness
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A guide to happiness
A Guide to Happiness for the Third Millennium
The author takes us on a journey through his artistic activities and his daily experiences, his esoteric readings and his spiritual practices, his reflections on the world of today and his visions for the world of tomorrow. He encourages us, with humour and wisdom, to observe the circumstances of our life and the structures of society, in order to understand the present and to use it to create the future.
While travelling through the seventy stages of this journey, you will explore, to name a few, Buddhism, Taoism, Reiki, astrology, Angelic Healing, meditation, extra-sensory art, golf, personal development, Feng Shui, homeopathy… You will discover their principles and benefits presented in a clear and concise way.
Some excursions will allow you to grasp the nature of the deep transformations that mark our time; and the stopovers will incite you to undertake a personal process to participate in the birth of a new world.
Along the way, you will practice laughter, kindness, forgiveness, simplicity, gratitude, love, wonder… and you will learn to use daily situations to attract happiness into your own life and to offer it to others.
This guide addresses the beginner on the path of wisdom and happiness as well as the mature disciple.
In A Guide to Happiness for the Third Millennium, Pierre Wittmann takes us on a journey, in seventy stages, on the path to happiness. Each chapter presents a topic related to the search for happiness. The happiness that this book invites us to discover is inner happiness – peace and harmony – not only for ourselves, but for the whole of society.
Explanations of the nature of happiness and suffering – of health and illness – on the individual, social and global levels. These include understanding our present situation, visions for the future, and suggestions on the means of transformation. Among these topics, you will find: What Truth Should We Believe, Working for Peace, The Price of Happiness, War and Peace, The New Paradigm, Science and Spirituality, Manipulation through Suffering, Crises and Transformation, The Ills of Society, and A New World.
Brief introductions to teachings of wisdom that relate to our understanding of the nature of reality, our view of the world, our beliefs and our values. You will discover the principles and benefits of various spiritual teachings presented in a clear and concise way. You will also find Buddhist teachings, such as Impermanence, Non-Self, The Perfections and The Divine Emotions; Wu-Wei, or Non-Action, a Taoist teaching; Homeopathy, Reiki and Angelic Healing; Extra-Sensory Art, Light Structures and The Platonic Solids; Astrology, Feng Shui, and The Enneagram.
Practical techniques that use daily situations to attract happiness into our life and to offer it to those close to us, including Forgiveness, Meditation, Laughter, Beauty, Prayer, The Emotions, Gratitude, Kindness, Wonder, Peace, Nature, The Pages, Knowing How to Connect…
These three kinds of information are not arranged separately, but interweave, in order to instil in you one of the most important truths that allows one to reach the realisation of happiness, interconnection. All is linked, and our impression that we are separate beings is an illusion. It is the cause of most of our suffering and our frustrations.
Here is a summary of some of the essential points discussed in A Guide to Happiness:
The Truth. How to recognise what is true in all the information that we receive; how to become conscious of the conditioning and manipulation to which we are all prey; and how to continue to live in the world while disengaging from the structures and influences that stress and exhaust us.
The Emotions. Among the different types of emotions, some are beneficial to our physical and mental health and for our relationships with others, whereas others are particularly harmful to all aspects of our life. One can learn to recognize these and to manage them.
Microcosm and Macrocosm. There are different levels of reality that are intimately interconnected and that reflect in each other, from the atom and the cell, to the galaxy and the universe, while passing through the organs, living beings, social groups, ecosystems, the planets and the stars.
Responsibility. Understanding the situations of our life, the way we react to what happens to us, and accepting responsibility for everything that happens to us, helps us to stop being victims and to discover the power to create the existence to which we aspire.
A New World. What is the nature of the changes and transformations we can expect in the coming years or decades, and what will be the nature of the new world that will result from them?
The inscription on the cover of the notebook in which I choose to write these pages is “Reflection”, with the subtitle, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor touched… but are felt in the heart”. This is the case with happiness. Is one able to speak of it, to define it? Or do all attempts to surround it with mental definitions cause it to immediately flee?
The ultimate happiness, and maybe the only true happiness, is precisely the moment, the space, the emptiness between thoughts, when the stress, the agitation, the racing of the mind stops, when the friction, the movement, and the suffering that they generate, give way to the peace, the silence, the timelessness within. One discovers then an infinite space, beyond form, beyond time, an empty space; but, at the same time, rich with the most beautiful and mad potentiality…
What is happiness? According to the Robert Dictionary, the first meaning of happiness — in French bonheur' is formed from the word heur' meaning good fortune' — is “luck”. The second definition of happiness is “the state of fully satisfied consciousness”. Among the synonyms for happiness, one finds beatitude, well-being, bliss, pleasure, contentment, enchantment, euphoria, ecstasy, luck, rapture, satisfaction, joy… Among the antonyms, misfortune, bad luck, failure, suffering, worry, pain…
All our perceptions are intimately linked to a sensation that can either be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Pleasant sensations produce an attraction to the object we perceive, unpleasant sensations, a repulsion, and neutral sensations, indifference. So are born the feelings of desire and attachment, those of hatred, anger and fear, and those of ignorance, indifference and boredom. We often confuse the search for pleasant sensations with the search for happiness. But it is interesting to notice that pleasant sensations are also sources of suffering, as well as unpleasant sensations and neutral sensations because they give birth to what is called the suffering of pleasure'.
One of the features of our time — and of the development of technology — is the enormous quantity of information of all kinds we have at our disposal. I think about all the books that are for sale, the newspapers and magazines, the reports, theses and studies, the internet and its millions of sites, the movies and videos, the radio and television programmes, the advertisements and propaganda, the shows and exhibitions, the courses, seminars, conferences, workshops, teachings…
If one could print all this information and pile it up, the stack would be higher than the distance from the earth to the sun. Even if we spent all our life reading, we could assimilate only a minute part of all this knowledge. We can wonder which, out of all this information, is really useful to us, and in what measure it could help us to find more harmony, peace and happiness in our life. Another question that we can ask is which information is true and which should we believe?
Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness and affection for all that allows us to be what we are, to have what we have, to do what we do or, more simply, for all that enables us to live. Gratitude is not limited to the people who help us, love us or protect us. It encompasses all that constitutes our environment: nature, the earth, the universe — of which we are an inseparable part — and also, what we often forget, ourselves. Gratitude is one of the principal ingredients of happiness. One can never have too much gratitude. In general, we have too little.
During the difficult times we are going through today, if we want things to change, it is necessary that those who want peace do something so that peace can manifest. If we want the forces of light to prevail over those of darkness, we have to create light. Darkness cannot exist in light.
Our world is covered with large areas of darkness. These clouds of darkness are caused by the ignorance and conditioning of a great many people. This darkness also holds the shadows of fear and other negative emotions that are fuelled by ignorance and conditioning. Those who want to keep the world in darkness — to be able to continue to exploit it and to control it for their personal profit — use the structures of society to manipulate people: the media to keep them in ignorance of the truth; education, medicine and commerce to condition them to accept their lot in life; and war and terrorism to maintain them in fear.
Entropy, in physics, is “the function that defines the state of disorder of a system, growing when it evolves towards another state of increased disorder”. One of the properties of phenomena is to pass naturally from a state of order into a state of chaos or disorder. The universe and all material phenomena are governed by the law of entropy.
It seems that the only exception that is counter to this law is life, which takes disparate elements to constitute ordered beings. The purpose of most human activities is to fight against an increase in entropy, except for some, such as war and pollution, which on the contrary accelerate the natural growth of entropy.
It is said that laughter is a special gift of human beings. Do we laugh enough? How many times a day, or a month, do we use this capacity given to us by nature? Laughter is excellent therapy. For the physical body, laughter makes a whole set of muscles work that stimulate the glands and the organs, and activate the breathing and the blood circulation. For the emotional body, laughter dissipates moroseness, bad moods, stress and anxiety. For the mental body, laughter allows us to perceive things in another perspective, and to accept them with more wisdom.
Art acts directly on our perception and our energy. It generates in us beneficial emotions, producing healing and spiritual opening, which are two aspects of the same purification process.
Art is a human creation, as opposed to nature which is a non-human or divine creation. Contemplation of either art or nature can both lead to healing and spirituality.
The nature of mind is our spiritual essence, linked to the primordial and unlimited wisdom of emptiness. In opposition, our ordinary mind is linked to the limited intelligence of our material brain. The clarity of the nature of mind is veiled, however, by the dualistic and conceptual perception of the ordinary mind. Ignorance, or illusion, is to take this perception, that consists of all objects and phenomena that our senses perceive — the world in which we live — for absolute reality.
Imagine that you have just made love, your companion has fallen asleep by your side and the dawn is soon to come. As you also drift into sleep, curious physical sensations seize your body, luminous geometric shapes appear in your visual field, and you are suddenly transported into the body of another person, five thousand years into the future, in a strange place that somehow seems familiar to you, but that you don't quite recognise.
The Buddha's teaching speaks of Four Divine Emotions. They are also called the Four Immeasurable or the Abodes of the Gods. This is because when one feels these emotions one lives in bliss, like the gods. These four emotions are love, compassion, joy and equanimity. They are four friends we should invite to share our lives. At the same time, let us dismiss the enemies, the negative emotions. The Four Divine Emotions applied to all social situations eliminate tension and create peace. They are medicine for the mind and the body, the secret to sleeping well and a means to good conduct, for oneself, for others, for society, and for the environment. Linked with wisdom, these emotions produce energy and clarity, peace and harmony, liberation from fear and suffering; they are the source and the essence of enlightenment.
Reiki is one of the names describing an age-old technique of the laying-on of hands for healing. In reality it means much more than that… Reiki is a Japanese word. Ki means energy or life force, and rei means cosmic, universal, divine, spiritual.
This energy, Reiki, is present in all things; it infuses life, governs the physics of elementary particles and co-ordinates the movements of stars and galaxies. It is an energy that responds to the laws of harmony, wisdom and love. It is always available, everywhere; its abundance is infinite and inexhaustible. As it is always present and never ceases, to have access to it, we have only to invoke it. But in our modern society we have forgotten that we have this innate power and, in our ignorance, we neglect this source of abundance, healing, wisdom and love.
For it to function, the consumer society has made people believe that happiness can be bought with money, forgetting the old proverb that says “money can't buy happiness”. Many people work like slaves to earn money to buy all kinds of material goods, services and entertainment that should, supposedly, make them happy.
Unfortunately, this doesn't work. And one notes that the richer the country, the more unhappy the people. A consumer society produces a whole set of phenomena that go in the opposite direction to the search for happiness.
Peace is one of the most important ingredients of happiness, to be at peace with oneself, with others, with the world. And the surest way to be at peace with the world is to be at peace inside. When our inner peace is steady and unshakeable, we are at peace, whatever the outside conditions. But it is not easy to achieve, and most people are not yet there.
Inner peace needs to be cultivated gradually, a little each day, until it becomes invincible. In the beginning, to be at peace inside, it is necessary to be at peace outside.
Observing the phenomena and objects that move in the sky is enthralling, but what fascinates me the most is observing the sky itself. This space, this infinite and empty immensity, the calmness and the silence that inhabit it, this opening into other dimensions, into the unknown, into the beyond… I never get weary of letting my gaze get lost in the blue of the sky or in the impenetrable obscurity of the night. It is there that I perceive the abode of the gods, the absolute truth, the source of all manifestations; there that I imagine the existence of invisible worlds and celestial regions where my soul longs to return one day.
Relationships that we have with others have a strong influence on our happiness. When the people that we are with are agreeable and welcoming, we have a more pleasant experience than when they are aggressive and have scowling faces.
To be happy because others are kind to us is a good thing, but we should in turn be thoughtful towards others. We must understand that all beings are like us; they look for happiness and like to be treated with respect and kindness.
Wu wei is a Chinese term that means non-action', non-doing'. Wei means to do' and wu is an adverb of negation. The idea of wu wei is subtle. It doesn't merely mean doing nothing, but rather defines an appropriate way of doing. It explains what is judicious to do and not to do. The key sentence of wu wei is in the Dao De Jing by Lao Tzu: “The Tao doesn't do anything, and yet nothing is left uncompleted”.
A few months ago, I decided to give away my old computer, a big, heavy and loud machine that radiated a lot of heat and electromagnetic pollution. I didn't use it any more since I now had a laptop. According to Feng Shui, my old computer was situated in the “couple-friends-associates” area of my apartment, so that for the last few years the computer had become my companion, my friend and my most intimate partner. It was standing, with its various accessories, on three small pieces of furniture placed at some distance from the wall to leave room for a jumble of wires and cables, and a whole set of transformers. This area had become a nest of dust that gave off unhealthy energy and sheltered a prospering colony of bugs and vermin.
While undoing the knots in these tangled cables and cleaning this corner, I contemplated the greedy stupidity and the paradoxes of our technological society; and I realised where our passion for technological toys wounds: at the level of our energy supply. On the one hand, we possess minuscule, very effective and sophisticated devices. On the other, to feed these devices with energy, which only require a weak source of current, we must use thick cables and transformers, often more cumbersome and more heavy than the devices themselves, and which give off abundant heat. There is far more energy wasted than used by the device itself.
According to Lise Bourbeau, who founded the “Écoute ton corps” (Listen to your Body) school, there are five fundamental wounds from which we are susceptible to suffer during our early childhood. These conditioned our behaviour then and still affect our adult life. The five wounds are rejection, abandonment, humiliation, betrayal and injustice. They were generally inflicted on us by our parents or by the figures of authority who took care of us. One of the wounds is generally predominant, but it is not uncommon to have several of them or even to have all five, in various degrees.
Each of the wounds corresponds to a mask, or defensive behaviour, that we adopted to face similar situations to the one that created the first wound, and to protect us from further hurt. These five masks are respectively those of the “withdrawer” for rejection, of the “dependent” for abandonment, of the “masochist” for humiliation, of the “controller” for betrayal and of the “rigid” for injustice.
It often happens that prophets coming from different cultures and periods make the same revelations, without any contact between them. Many prophets are predicting dramatic events for the present period: natural disasters, epidemics, a new world war, the tragic disappearance of a large part of the world population and even the end of the world. Curiously, there are many prophecies, often coming from the same sources, that predict exactly the opposite, that is to say the beginning of a long period of peace and harmony, a new golden age on planet Earth.
One of the main causes of the difficulties that we encounter in our existence on this planet is the limited capacity of our sense organs and thus the narrow perception of reality that ensues. We only see what is visible to our eyes, which means material objects when they are lit by a luminous source whose frequency is within our visible spectrum. Thus, we have developed an understanding of the world based only on the things that we see — a materialistic perception of the world.
Every day, about three hundred thousand people die on earth. This is the average; some days five to ten thousand or so die, a variation of two to three percent. Death is a normal and natural phenomenon of our type of existence. Every living being in this system — plant, animal or human — is born, lives for a longer or shorter period according to its species, and dies.
The cause of death, in the case of human beings, varies: illness, accident, murder, attack by an animal, old age, execution, natural disaster, terrorism, medical mistake, war, poisoning by pollution or unhealthy substances, suicide, torture… We all know that we are going to die one day, even though, in our western society, we don't like this idea.
The five Platonic solids are the tetrahedron, the cube, the octahedron, the dodecahedron and the icosahedron. The most well known is the cube, a volume formed of six square faces. The faces of the tetrahedron, the octahedron and the icosahedron are respectively four, eight and twenty equilateral triangles. The twelve faces of the dodecahedron are equilateral pentagons. The geometers and the thinkers, even before Plato, have always been in awe of these five perfectly symmetrical solids.
The vision of symmetry awakens in us a sense of order, beauty and harmony, because symmetry is in our genes and we live in a symmetrical body. Nature functions and evolves according to symmetrical patterns and processes. And human beings reflect the creative systems of nature in their own creations, in particular in the plastic arts, music, architecture and handicrafts.
The notion of impermanence teaches us that all conditioned phenomena, whether material or mental, gross or subtle, inside or outside of us, are in constant transformation and in perpetual movement. They are born, pass and die, but they never stop, nor do they persist. All material objects are composed of innumerable particles in movement. The earth rotates on its axis, while turning around the sun which, in turn, moves at a breathtaking speed within the galaxy. Innumerable physiological, metabolic and chemical processes take place at all levels of our organism, twenty-four hours a day, during all of our life. As for mental processes, those who have tried to meditate no longer question their impermanence.
Responding to my message To relieve misery is less expensive than war, with statistics to back it up, a friend answered: “For decades we have known this, but what are we doing?” What are we doing in order for things to change, to create a better world? What can we do? This is indeed a good question, because it is easy to judge and to criticise the present situation, the things that we don't like in the world, but it is less easy to propose solutions and follow through with actions to implement them.
The first thing to do is to accept our part of the responsibility for what takes place, for what happens to us, on all levels. By this I mean everything that happens to us personally, and also that occurs in our family, our community, our country, as well as in the world and in the universe. Everything is linked. We are part of the whole and each of our actions — our actions of mind, speech and body — have a significant effect on the whole.
Beauty is one of the needs of our emotional body. It is a very important ingredient of our life that is often disregarded in modern society. Beauty is the search for quality and purity in our perception. It is felt by the heart and is produced by love and creativity. The search for quantity, profit, easiness, speed or efficiency rarely produces beauty. Beauty is an ornament of the ordinary that requires attention, inspiration and generosity. Nature produces beauty spontaneously, but human beings must cultivate it in order for it to manifest in their activities and become a quality of their lives.
Any evolution requires transformation. And anything that doesn't evolve, degenerates and dies. One can wonder, therefore, while observing nature, society, the human species, if we are currently in a process of evolution or degeneration. The same question can be asked while observing oneself. My idea is that the whole evolves, but that some parts of this whole, those parts that don't, or can no longer serve evolution, degenerate and disappear. In any process of evolution one observes that the individual elements, by their degeneration and their death, allow the evolution of the whole, and the birth of new elements that are more evolved and more effective than the old. What looks like degeneration or a backwards turn, appears on another level like a growth crisis.
The term suffering' used here is a translation of the Pali word dukkha. It is certainly one of the meanings of dukkha, but, in the framework of Buddhist teachings, dukkha doesn't necessarily indicate a painful experience. Dissatisfaction, imperfection, insecurity or stress more clearly express its particular connotation.
The translation of dhukka as suffering' often leads to the false idea that Buddhism is a religion that advocates suffering, whereas its practice leads, on the contrary, to the cessation of suffering, or of dukkha. The Buddha considered, however, that dukkha was a particularly important aspect of our existence, since he dedicated his first teaching to it after having attained enlightenment in Bodh-Gaya, at the age of thirty-five. This teaching is called “The Four Noble Truths”. He gave it, in the deer park of Sarnath close to Varanasi, to the five ascetics with whom he had been meditating in the forest before his enlightenment.
The First Noble Truth is the existence of dukkha; the Second is the cause of dukkha; the Third, the cessation of dukkha; and the Fourth, the path that leads to the cessation of dukkha. Although this teaching may appear simple and concise, it is actually very deep. It constitutes the foundation of all Buddhist teachings and practices, and it is recognised as such by all schools of Buddhism.
The Enneagram is a teaching that has fascinated me since I came upon it — at the same time as Reiki — during a stay in San Francisco in 1996. It is a system that classifies personalities into nine types. The first time that I heard of the Enneagram was while reading a book by Gurdjieff. He said something that astonished me. He claimed that it was very easy to know people and to foresee their reactions, because only nine types of personalities existed. Gurdjieff had learned the Enneagram from the Sufis of Afghanistan, and it seems that he taught it to some of his disciples while living in Paris at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The word enneagram' is the name of a geometric figure with nine sides, formed by an equilateral triangle and an irregular concave hexagon. The nine types are placed at the nine summits of the enneagram, and the sides of the figure indicate specific relationships that exist between the different types.
The system of the Enneagram certainly allows us to understand others and their personalities better, and it is used, in companies, for the recruitment of staff and the management of the capacities of each person. I find, however, that the best quality of the Enneagram is to learn how to know oneself.
The teachings of Buddhism recommends us to practice a certain number of qualities, or virtues, called parami in Pali and paramita in Sanskrit (from parama meaning supreme'). These virtues were developed to perfection by the Buddha during his numerous previous lives, described in the Jataka tales. Bodhisattvas cultivate these qualities to help all beings without discrimination, to bring them happiness and to free them from suffering.
The perfections are essential ingredients of any spiritual life and those who worry about the harmony of the world in which we live must cultivate them. A person who possesses these qualities, even though not to the point of perfection of the Buddha, is a blessing to his or her surroundings, to society and to the environment.
The word emotion' comes from motion, movement. An emotion is an affective reaction that provokes a movement of energy in our body. This affective reaction, more or less violent, is caused by the sensation that automatically comes with all sensory perception, be it perceptions of our physical senses, sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell, or those of our mental sense, our thoughts. These sensations, according to the Buddha's teaching, are of three types: pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. This means that, simultaneous to every perception, there is a sensation telling us whether what we see, hear, touch, etc., pleases us, displeases us or doesn't matter to us. If the sensation is pleasant, we are attracted to the object of our perception; if it is unpleasant, we reject this object; if it is neutral, we ignore it.
Many people think that emotions add spice to life and would not give them up, not for anything on earth. Yet everybody knows that to eat too much spicy food causes ulcers and haemorrhoids. Ancestral wisdom, as well as the latest scientific research, shows us that two kinds of emotions exist: those that are harmful to our health and well-being, and those that are, on the contrary, beneficial.
Our modern society has great difficulty understanding the notion of health and illness. We generally consider illness as a series of painful symptoms that manifest in the physical body, and health as the absence of these symptoms. This is such a limited view that it hardly has any connection at all to the topic. This view comes from ignorance of who we are, of our true nature.
Health and illness are not limited to the presence or to the absence of symptoms, but represent a state of harmony or disharmony, function or dysfunction, of the set or of one of its parts. This lack of harmony manifests as symptoms. A symptom is an alarm signal informing us of the existence of disharmony or dysfunction, but it is not the cause of this imbalance. The cause is generally located at another level, in another dimension than the one where the symptom manifests.
A most important virtue for a golfer is equanimity, knowing how to remain calm, concentrated and imperturbable, whether the shot is good or bad. In daily life, equanimity is a beneficial virtue, but very difficult to practice. It is the same on the golf course. One finds in golf most of the situations and difficulties that one meets in everyday life, in relationships with the other players, with the environment and especially with oneself. Golf is thus often compared to spiritual practice. Some sages, by the way, such as Krishnamurti and Stephen Jourdain, were fine golfers. It is also said that one who practices golf lives through the whole range of human emotions, from ecstasy after a perfect shot, to bitter frustration when several balls in a row are lost in a lake or in the woods.
When one thinks about the advent of a new society, of a better world, it is easy to make a list of the things that presently function badly or create problems and suffering; all the things that one would like to change. It is a little more difficult to come up with better solutions. But the most difficult aspect seems to me to envision how the transition can take place from the present world to a better world. One of the options, of course, is the massive destruction of our infrastructures and the death of a large part of the population, caused by huge natural disasters or disasters provoked by human beings. Or a third world war that would create a space for the reconstruction of a new type of civilisation. These solutions are of course not desirable. A progressive and smooth transformation would be preferable.
I used homeopathy for a long time, without knowing how it functioned. I recently discovered, however, that there is abundant literature on this topic in France. I read two small books for background information, and then I found a particularly clear explanation in the book by Thorwald Dethlefsen, The Challenge of Fate.
I learned that homeopathy had been invented in the beginning of the nineteenth century by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), according to the principle of likeness, “simila similibus curantur” (the similar is healed by the similar), which had already been discovered in antiquity by Hippocrates. Allopathic medicine, on the other hand, is based on the principle of opposites.
Hahnemann discovered by experiment that if a substance produces a certain symptom in the body, one can use this same substance to treat an illness that provokes the same symptom. A substance that is a poison becomes a remedy against this same poison when it is taken in a very small quantity. This is what one means when one speaks of homeopathic doses.
Silence has always been one of my deepest spiritual experiences, in particular during meditation retreats when one remains for ten, fifteen days or more, without speaking, and also without writing or reading. To speak provokes strong mental and emotional turbulence. In silence, this turbulence subsides, as the waves on the surface of a lake; and the mind calms, becomes still. To find inner silence is one of the great benefits of meditation.
My beliefs are founded more on spiritual revelations and experiences than on science. I don't completely trust scientific “facts”, because they change every time a new fact is discovered. Science is based, above all, on material reality and logical thought. As it only concerns a very small part of reality, the material world, science only knows a very small part of the truth. Every time that science reaches a new level of reality, one gets the impression that it comes closer to spirituality, that it proves what was already known by ancient wisdom. In our materialistic society, belief in the spiritual, the invisible, is poorly thought of without scientific proof.
Why are our lives so complicated? Why are the structures of our societies so complicated? Yet life is so simple. Nature functions by itself, without effort, and without our intervention. The stars follow their orbits, the sun rises and sets every day on earth, the rain falls, the wind blows, the rivers flow towards the sea, the plants grow, the animals are born, live and die… Why are humans the only ones who make life so complicated for themselves?
Because they don't accept things as they are. Nature offers human beings marvellous living conditions, but they are not satisfied with them. They want to control nature and to make it function according to their ideas. And it is here that things become complicated.
Our society believes that to create good, it is necessary to fight evil and to solve problems, it is necessary to look for those who are guilty and annihilate them. Unfortunately this belief, applied since ancient times, doesn't work. On the contrary, problems increase and good seems more and more difficult to find. Our society uses violence as a means to an end, but violence only creates more problems and more evil. Thus we witness an escalation of violence, which does not solve anything, but actually increases difficulties and suffering.
This belief is based on erroneous ideas. First, the idea that the causes of problems — and of evil — are outside us, and that if we destroy an outside cause, we will not be harmed in the process. But the idea of outside and inside is an illusion. Another erroneous idea is that the causes are material and that one can fight them with material means.
An exercise proposed by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist's Way is to write three pages every morning. She calls these the morning pages'. The goal of this exercise is to express all things that are within us and that we tend to repress. The pages are not an exercise in style or literary creation, nor the writing of a diary, although they can on occasion be, or become, one or the other. But this is not their goal. The pages should not be written for a future or potential reader. No one will read them, not even you. Do not reread as you write. Julia recommends not rereading them for at least five weeks. This exercise is not to satisfy our ego, but, on the contrary, to purge it and to purify it of its unconscious pollutions.
The pages are also a wonderful exercise for developing your creativity, for waking up the hidden artist that dozes in the depths of each of us. And this is not only for writers or poets.
During our weekly meditation gatherings in Chiang Mai, our group leader Katharina, following her usual custom, asks us an existential question and invites us to draw a card from The Secret Dakini Oracle to guide us in our answer. Last night, on 22 October 2001, the question was: “In the present situation, what can I do to preserve my inner peace and to help establish peace in the world?” The card that I drew was “Taking up Arms”, card number 60, showing Vishnu, standing on the back of a turtle, wearing armour and holding various objects in his four hands. My first reaction was shock at the paradox. Is it necessary to take up arms, to fight, in order to establish peace? Is this not exactly what we try to avoid, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, the escalation of violence, war that increases suffering instead of alleviating it?
Extra-sensory art is a form of art in which artworks are not perceptible by our ordinary senses of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. They are nevertheless perceptible by the senses we call intuition, the sixth sense or the third eye, as far as these senses are developed. Extra-sensory artworks are either composed of subtle forms made of energy, waves or vibrations situated outside of the visible or audible spectrums, such as auras or celestial music, or are beyond all form, like space and silence.
We will talk here about a particular type of extra-sensory art: light structures. These structures are composed of pillars, or vertical beams, of light or energy linking heaven to earth. These pillars are deeply rooted in the heart of earth and rise high into the sky to connect to the source of cosmic energy. Each pillar has its own dimension, a specific colour, and a particular sound vibration.
According to the Robert Dictionary, the definition of suffering is “enduring something painful or unpleasant, physical or moral pain”. Suffering is part of the human condition. But to know if it is good, as some religions ask us to believe, or if it is necessary or really unavoidable, are questions that we all ask ourselves at some time or another.
Physical pains are alarm signals that warn us of an imbalance, danger or faulty functioning of a part of our body, so that we can take necessary measures to avoid or treat it. It is like the luminous signal that comes up on the control panel of a car to warn us that our oil is low, that a door is not properly closed or that the brakes are not functioning as they should do. If we accept this signal, we will not suffer at the psychological level.
Let us never forget that we are part of nature. We are part of a whole that contains the whole universe, with its galaxies, its stars, its suns, its planets. We are also part of the earth, with its minerals, its plants and its animals. Even though for centuries human beings have endeavoured to control, to exploit, to destroy, and to pollute nature at a steadily increasing rate, nature is always there, impassive, and doesn't stop accomplishing its tasks, assuring the balance of the universe and the preservation of life.
What is proof? According to the Robert Dictionary, it is “what serves to establish that something is true”. Why, in our dimension, in our state of consciousness, do we need proof? Because we don't know what is true. We don't know the truth; it is hidden from us. We are in ignorance of the true nature of reality.
Every day, hundreds of pieces of information reach us through our senses. For most of us, they are the only contact that we have with the outside world, and even with our inner world. Up to what point can we trust, can we believe the messages of our senses, sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell? Everything, it seems, conspires to make us believe that the information that our senses give us corresponds to what we know, to what we think we know, to our beliefs and our habits.
Meditation is probably the best thing we can do, not only to find peace, harmony and happiness in our own life, but also to offer these qualities to others and to the world. Meditation is practiced, in one form or in another, in all religious and spiritual traditions.
Meditation enables us to reach a state of beatitude and peace that acts like a purifying balm for our wounds, and relieves stress, anxiety and restlessness. It also helps us to take back control of our mind. In our ordinary state, we usually function in automatic mode, which means that we have very little control over the functioning of our mind, our thoughts, our reactions and our emotions. Most people are not even aware of this, and think they are masters of their mind. Until the day when they try to meditate… To control one's mind means to be capable of choosing one's thoughts, one's emotions and one's reactions.
If we observe the history of the universe and the functioning of nature, we notice that every important transformation in the process of evolution is preceded by a crisis, by a period of chaos. This crisis announces the impossibility of continuing within the existing conditions, and the necessity for change, for transformation, for a leap forward in the process of evolution. This could be what is currently happening on earth, while we wait for the radical transformation that ancient prophecies have announced for the year 2012.
Forgiveness is one of the most efficient practices for the creation of peace and happiness on an individual level, as well as on the level of society. The meaning of to forgive' according to the Robert Dictionary is “to hold an offence as non-existent, to give up seeking revenge for; to forget the mistakes, the wrongs (of someone)”. Not to forgive is, therefore, to hold a grudge, resentment, hatred towards someone, to concoct plans for revenge, and refuse to forget the wrongs or the offences that one underwent.
Resentment and refusal to forgive are not limited to the wrongs that we have ourselves undergone in the past or in our childhood, but often concern offences undergone by our family, our clan, our race, our country… generations or centuries before our birth. A grudge is “the tenacious memory that one keeps of an offence, of a prejudice, accompanied by hostility and a desire for vengeance”. It is a particularly virulent form of hatred; and hatred is the most harmful negative emotion. It is especially harmful for the person who holds it, a lot more so than for the person against whom it is directed. It is as if a person has picked up a burning coal with a naked hand and wants to throw it at the person that caused the wrong. The hand holding the coal is burnt first, and the coal may not even hit the adversary when it is thrown.
“The third millennium will be spiritual or it won't be!” said André Malraux. Are the events that we are experiencing at the dawn of the third millennium the last jolts of materialism that are announcing the advent of a new spiritual world? Let's hope that this is so, otherwise the third millennium will abort before it has really begun…
This prophecy can be understood in another way, on an individual level. Those who are on the spiritual path will reach the new spiritual world; those who remain in the material will perish with the material world. Human beings have the privilege to access the spiritual world while living in the material world, because their true nature, even though embodied in matter, is spiritual. The material world is extremely limited, because it only represents the densest, coarsest form of creation. Matter is one of the forms of energy that constitutes the universe. It is the only one that our physical senses perceive.
Electromagnetic pollution is probably one of the most insidious kinds of pollution, because we can't see it. It is very strong inside our modern houses, in all urban and highly inhabited zones, and at a lower level it is present on the whole surface of the planet.
What we call pollution' in this case are the waves and electromagnetic fields created by modern technology, and also the disturbances caused by human beings in the natural electromagnetic fields and waves. This pollution not only disturbs the health and the energetic balance of all living beings — causing illnesses and all kinds of psychological and behaviour troubles, such as anxiety, stress and depression — but also the health and balance of the planet, particularly of climatic and tectonic phenomena.
What fascinates me in Chinese writing is that it is composed of ideograms, and not of phonetic letters as in most languages. Every sign is a small picture that originally represented graphically the object designated by the ideogram. With time, these drawings became stylised and have become the ideograms that we know today. The first traces of Chinese writing date back more than five thousand years; and the characters used today stabilised about three thousand years ago.
The characteristic of an ideogram is that it is a semantic sign without a specific phonetic value, as are our numbers. When one writes the number 6, it means “6” for a French person as well as for an Australian or a Mexican, yet each language assigns it a specific phonetic value and pronounces it differently. This is what happens with Chinese ideograms, and allowed all the various peoples of the immense Chinese empire — and some neighbouring countries such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam — to use the same language and the same writing, each using its own particular pronunciation.
Why are we so afraid to die? The testimonies of those who have visited the beyond are jubilant and rejoicing. Millions of people have had near-death experiences and have communicated what they experienced. Others have relived, under hypnosis, periods of time spent in the beyond between their incarnations. Of course, there are also descriptions of hell in many religions, that artists have profusely depicted for centuries. These are not surprisingly less jubilant! In most cases, these descriptions do not come from personal experience, but rather from sermons warning us against evil doing. However, such preaching doesn't seem to be much of a deterrent, when one sees what happens in the world…
The experiences of those who have visited the beyond don't speak of devils, infernos and torture, but of light, peace, joy and love, of a non-material world where physical suffering doesn't exist as we don't have bodies. Souls, they observe, move in space, crossing magnificent landscapes of light. They rejoin loved ones who left the earth before them. They also encounter soul-mates from their own spiritual family whom they meet again and again between each incarnation, to program the scripts for their next lives in matter.
Over the past twenty years or so, an increasing number of people have found that they cannot blossom and find happiness in modern society, and have thus decided to live in communities. Today there are thousands of new communities throughout the world.
The majority of people who choose to live in a community no longer agree with most of the institutions that govern society. They feel that even though their society is founded on a system of democracy, they actually have few, if any, means of expressing their ideas and influencing the choices made by the authorities. They feel that they are conditioned and manipulated by the political, economic or religious forces in power.
They don't accept the ethics governing the operations of institutions, in particular with regard to the protection of the environment, human rights and the management of these institutions. And they don't agree with most of the principles, beliefs and values upon which their society is based.
As I mainly studied spirituality in English, some concepts are linked for me to English words, and I have difficulty finding a French equivalent that expresses the same connotation. For example, the word stillness'. When I tried to translate it into French, the dictionary gave me four words: immobility, calmness, tranquillity, silence. These four words, which are not synonyms — except perhaps calmness and tranquillity, whose meanings are very close — describe different aspects that I perceive in the meaning of stillness. The notion of stillness refers, in particular, to the meditative experience and applies to the different levels of body, speech and mind. The stillness of the body is immobility; that of speech, silence; and that of the mind, calmness or tranquillity.
Exaggeration is a form of lying. Exaggeration is a habit so prevalent in our culture that one no longer notices it. When one expresses oneself without exaggerating, words seem flavourless and without interest, and no one pays attention to them. There are two ways of exaggerating: to maximise or to minimise, to overestimate or to underestimate. Neither is the truth. To overestimate is a way of giving more importance to what one says. When one speaks of oneself — and to speak of oneself is most people's favourite topic — exaggerating is a way of giving oneself importance. In the same way, to underestimate what one says about others is a way of giving them less importance. One can even ignore them completely and not speak of them at all. If they do something wrong, however, exaggeration is again foremost.
In ancient times, astrology used the same data as astronomy, and it was the exact position of the stars that determined the quality of time. The zodiacal constellations, however, move in the sky according to the precession of equinoxes, and they are no longer in the same places that were fixed several centuries ago by the promoters of tropical astrology. This change of position is significant, since today there is a gap of 28° between the real positions of the stars in the sky and their arbitrary positions used by tropical astrology. To simplify the calculations before the era of computers, the astrologers had divided the zodiacal circle into twelve equal sectors of 30° each. While observing the sky, one notices, however, that the dimensions of the signs are not equal, but vary between 21° and 43°.
Astrology based on these discoveries is called, in German, “Sternbilder Astrologie”, literally “the astrology of the stars' images”, or “skyview astrology” in English. This branch of astrology was developed by the Austrian astrologer Editha Torsson and should not be confused with sidereal astrology.
Interpreting a horoscope, based on the real “images” of the stars in the sky, puts into question most of the beliefs that we have about our personality — which would correspond to a certain star sign and a certain Ascendant. According to this system, one discovers that the Sun and the Ascendant, in ninety percent of cases, are in other signs than those given by traditional tropical astrology. This discovery deeply transforms the vision that we have of ourselves, and our understanding of the events of our life. It reveals to us our true nature…
Our beliefs condition our life and the world in which we live. We create our life and the world in the image of our beliefs. What is a belief? It is a mental formation, a thought-form, that we consider to be true. Beliefs are based on past information memorised by our mind that we consider true, valid and beneficial. They can come from our personal experiences, from the experiences of others, from our education, or from things that we have heard, read, learned, or observed.
Beliefs are generally based on the assumption that a behaviour that provoked a certain result in the past is going to necessarily produce the same result in the future. If this result is unpleasant, the belief is linked to the fear that it reproduces; if it is pleasant, it is linked to the desire that it reproduces. Thus, through the fears and desires that they create, beliefs direct our life and dictate our behaviour, our reactions and our actions. They block all attempts to change, to progress, to transform ourselves. The same patterns recur continually in our daily life, in our work, in our relationships and become deeply ingrained habits that are only uprooted with great difficulty.
The doctrine of non-self probably best characterises Buddhist thought. It is not found, by the way, in any other religion or philosophy. It is also the doctrine that is the most difficult not only to understand, but especially to realise.
The idea of non-self means that there does not exist an inherent, immortal and independent entity that one can call the “self”. Therefore, the person to which one refers when one says “I”, “me”, “my”, “mine”, doesn't exist, is an illusion. This doesn't mean that we don't exist at all, but that the “I” is only a conventional designation used for the practical needs of daily life.
Angelic Spiritual Healing treats the flow of energy which nourishes the first seven subtle bodies that surround our physical body. Our physical body constitutes only a small part of our being, the more dense part and the more perceptible by our senses, but we are not limited to this material body. We are beings of energy, and matter is only the roughest form of energy. The subtle bodies wrap around our physical body like cocoons or Russian dolls. The thickness of each body can vary between 40 cm and several meters, depending on the spiritual development of the person. It is said that the subtle bodies of Christ and Buddha were perceptible at a distance of several kilometres.
On the level of energy, there is no separation between us and other people, or between us and animals, plants, minerals and objects, which have also, like us, an energetic envelope or aura. The presence of these interpenetrating energy bodies allows us to understand the notion of interrelation — everything is related! We are part of a vast energy network that generates all the phenomena of the universe, from the rotation of galaxies to the movement of elementary particles, including all the current events and all our physical and mental actions.
When one contemplates the problems, the suffering and the vicissitudes of the world, one wonders what led us to this present situation. According to Buddhism, the ills of the world, of society and human beings, are caused by the three poisons: ignorance, greed and aversion.
It is important to note that the three poisons, ignorance, greed and aversion, are not our true nature, but conditioning that we mistake for our true nature. This is why our situation is not desperate. We can wake up and realise our true nature, which is wisdom, generosity and love. Both tendencies — positive and negative — exist in us, and manifest in turns. It seems, however, that we have difficulty controlling them and that, in moments of stress, our negative side usually takes over.
This negative aspect is what one calls the ego. It is preoccupied first of all with itself and with its own interests, even at the expense of others. In really serious situations, on the other hand, it seems that the ego passes into the background and wisdom, love and generosity take over. Generally, though, the conditions of our daily life are not dramatic enough for this phenomenon to occur.
Time as we perceive it is based on regular cycles, such as the earth's rotation on its axis over a twenty-four hour period — which gives us the unit of a day, divided in turn into hours, minutes and seconds; and the earth's rotation around the sun — which gives us the unit of a year, divided into months, weeks and days. New and more precise systems of measuring time have been discovered, such as the vibratory rate of quartz crystals. Thus, scientific observation of the material world — whether it is the movement of stars or particles — gives us a precise quantitative definition of time, that enables us to adjust our watches, our clocks and our chronometers.
It seems, however, that our perception of time has another dimension, which one could call qualitative. We don't function like clocks, according to a regular and invariable rhythm. Sometimes, it seems to us that time passes very quickly, that we don't manage to do everything that we would like to do, that we live at a run and that we are always late. At other moments, time seems to move in slow motion, or even to stop. And there are yet other moments when we lose the sense of time completely, for example, during sleep, in meditation, or when we are completely absorbed in an activity that fascinates us and occupies our full attention.
To really understand the world's present situation and to consider it from a wise and reasonable perspective, it is good to take the old principle of microcosm and macrocosm. Let's compare the world, the planet Earth, with a living being, let's say a human being. Because this is exactly what the earth is, a large being composed of billions of small living beings, plants, animals, humans, and also of a complex mineral structure that, if it is not living in the sense in which we generally perceive life, is composed, however, of the same atomic particles in perpetual movement and the same fields of energy.
If one uses this comparison, the impact of the event of September 11, 2001, on the being Earth, could be compared to a small pimple on the tip of a human being's nose. Evidently, for people who are very attached to their personal image, this could be dramatic!
Prayer is an efficient way to materialise our desires, our goals and our aspirations. There are, however, several rules to follow for our prayers to be successful.
It is important to first determine with precision our desires, our goals and our aspirations; for the short-term, one to two months; middle-term, six months to one year; and long-term, three to ten years. It is preferable to write a list. This list is not definitive, and one can modify it regularly, say once a month.
This first stage is not easy, at least for me. Even though we are not really satisfied with our life and would like things to change, we often don't know precisely what we want. Be careful, however, because the things for which you pray may happen! Are you completely sure that this is what you really want? Are you certain that what you want is really good for you?
What is duality? Literally, duality is the coexistence of two things of different nature, but actually, it is the process of differentiation. From the differentiation of two things, the ten thousand things are born, variety and diversity develop, and the universe expands, with its incalculable number of particles, atoms, molecules, cells, living beings, plants, rocks, mountains, rivers, seas, continents, planets, stars, galaxies… all separate from each other, and separate from their creator, the mind that observes them. Separation creates the duality of subject and object. From the duality of subject and object comparison arises, with all pairs of opposites: big and small, near and far, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, pleasant and unpleasant… Pairs of opposites breed judgement, judgement produces concepts, and concepts make up the world. In the world, the relationships between subjects and objects create the feelings of like and dislike, and all kinds of emotions: attachment, hatred, pride, desire, fear, joy, love, compassion, equanimity… As even the purest of these emotions arise from duality and are impermanent, they cannot bring us complete freedom and fulfilment, and the world of duality is always beset with difficulties.
Now what is oneness? It is obviously the opposite of duality. Oneness is when there are not two things, but only one thing; there is no differentiation, but identification. In oneness there is no diversity, no separation, no subject and object, no comparisons, no pairs of opposites, no judgement, no concepts, no relationships, no feelings and no emotions.
During periods of difficulty, of tension, of crisis, whether on a world level or personal level, it is important to remain centred, to keep one's calm and one's inner peace, not to let oneself be influenced or carried away by outside circumstances, as dramatic as they may be, or by negative energies and emotions.
This is not an easy task. In difficult circumstances, the most reliable and strongest help one can find is inside oneself. This is an opportunity to understand the benefit of a regular personal practice, a spiritual practice, such as yoga, meditation, prayer, Qi Gong, Tai Ji Quan (or Tai Chi)… or an activity, such as sports, gymnastics, walking, music, painting… It is important that it is an activity that pleases us, and that enables us, every day, to disengage ourselves from the world and from our problems, to quickly regain our centre and our inner calm.
Feng Shui is a ancient Chinese art that deals with the harmonious arrangement of our environment. The Chinese discovered that the environment in which we live has a direct influence on our well-being, our health and the success of our life. Our environment is firstly the places where we spend most of our time, our home and our workplace. But all places where we stay for long or short lengths of time have also their relative importance.
Feng Shui, which dates back several millennia, is closely linked to other teachings of Chinese wisdom like Taoism, Chinese Medicine and the Yi Jing. It is based on the fundamental principles of Chinese culture, the yin and the yang, the five elements (water, wood, fire, earth and metal) and the eight trigrams (ba gua). Even though these basic principles are simple, the techniques of application are vast, multiple and complex.
If one looks for love in the Robert Dictionary, one notes that love has three main meanings, that is to say that there can be three kinds of love. The most popular definition, which is “the inclination towards a person, usually of passionate character, founded on sexual instinct, but leading to various behaviours”. Be sure to note the last part of the definition, the various behaviours! This includes the love of movies and novels, and also the romantic or not so romantic periods of our life. Next we find “the affection between family members”, which is the love for one's children, for one's parents and for one's brothers and sisters, that also leads, even though it is not specified, to various behaviours. Finally, “the disposition to want good for another (God, one's neighbour, humanity, one's homeland) and to devote oneself to it”.
The dictionary mentions these three kinds of love in the inverse order, maybe in order to go from the noblest to the most vulgar. The first two on my list are those that we know best. We all practice them and we know their satisfactions and frustrations from our personal experience. It is rather of the third one that I would like to speak: divine love, love for one's neighbour, loving-kindness, unconditional love for all living beings. This is the type of love that is considered by
With whom, with what, does one choose to connect? Although we have the impression that we are individuals separated from each other and isolated in the middle of a universe that often appears to us as cold and unwelcoming, this is not the reality. We are part of a living whole, which is benevolent towards all of its most minute parts. These parts are closely interconnected, and interact constantly with each other, even if it is without our knowing.
We have, however, the choice and the power to encourage some connections, and to limit others. Our connections are not limited to our relations with other human beings. We have relations with all material objects, with minerals, plants, animals, the stars and all phenomena in the visible world.
We are also connected to the invisible world, which is considerably more vast and more varied than the visible or material world. It contains the souls of our non-incarnate fellow creatures, and also all kinds of other beings, entities and deities who live in other worlds and in other dimensions. It also contains energy in all its forms, material and non-material, and manifested and non-manifested consciousness. It contains all existing and potential ideas and all the thought-forms that they generate. It contains the source of wisdom and omniscience, and the primordial intelligence that conceives and creates the universe in all its aspects and with all its innumerable parts. It contains everything that we can imagine and everything that we cannot imagine. It contains the potentiality of everything that exists and of everything that doesn't exist.
Water is one of the vital needs of our physical body. It is also the crucible of life on our planet. The increasing pollution of the oceans, the lakes, the rivers, the ground waters and the atmosphere is becoming one of the main threats for our survival, unless we quickly find radical ways to purify water and clean it of pollution. Fortunately, numerous encouraging research in this domain has come into being over the last few years.
One such study is published in a beautiful book by Dr. Masaru Emoto, The Message from Water, which contains a hundred and twenty-five superb photographs of water crystals. Through analysing and photographing water crystals, Dr. Emoto discovered a new manner in which to study water and its moods.
“The message of water tells us to look inside us” says Dr. Emoto in the subtitle of his book. As seventy percent of our body is composed of water, it is easy to imagine how pollution, our environment, and also the words, the thoughts and the benevolent or aggressive emotions to which we are exposed, can affect the water that for a large part composes our billions of cells. These effects don't limit themselves to our body, but they influence our ecosystem and the whole life of the planet.
Some speak of a new world, of a new age — the age of Aquarius — and of a new paradigm, that is emerging, being born: a world of peace, love and harmony that should replace the chaotic, decadent and polluted world that we know today. Numerous prophecies, visions, and revelations announce or describe this new world. Even though these prophecies have proliferated during the last decade, they are not new, and all religious and spiritual traditions have announced for millennia big changes for the time in which we currently live. More and more people feel the arrival of this transformation, understanding that things cannot continue as they are, that we are at a crossroads where we have the choice between the self-destruction of our civilisation or the birth of a new world.
Wonder is an emotion produced by a perception accompanied by astonishment and admiration. Wonder provokes a deep feeling of joy. It is the heart that perceives, and not the mind. There is no judgment, concept, or duality in wonder. It is a warm emotion, spontaneously produced by the spectacle that is offered to our senses. Without preconceived ideas, without reference to past experiences, the perception is completely pure, new, innocent, authentic. Children often wonder at what they discover for the first time. Adults wonder with more difficulty, because they have already seen everything; they are blasé. They have expectations, requirements, prejudices, and they are easily disappointed.
Wonder requires a little effort, we must deserve it. We have to forget everything that we have already seen or experienced and change our way of perceiving, cast a new glance at things, or lend them another ear.
Free Healing Session
The End of the World
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