I was recently scrolling through social media and came across a meme called, “Ten things I wish I knew when I was twenty.” It was meant to be funny and contained a bunch of nonsense. But it got me thinking.
I just turned fifty this year. People from my past often say to me, “John, you are so different now. It’s like you are a whole other person from who you used to be.” And it’s true. If I look back at my twenty-year-old self, I see the very definition of ignorant and uneducated!
I was raised in a very indoctrinating, evangelical environment. Modern Christianity is a cult, and my family’s denomination was further on the extreme side of things. Lies are like an infection – the more of them we’re taught, the more damaging the impact in every area of our life. Thus at twenty, I was swimming in them up to my chin.
I was living life utterly programmed with the wrong information. Every decision I made was incorrect as I looked at everything through the scratched and broken lenses of being an evangelical. It was impossible for me to make sound, positive decisions when all the “truths” I had been taught were false.
Thus as a read that meme, I pondered, “What if I had just one hour to go back in time to speak with the younger version of me? What would I say? What topics would be most important?” Here’s a top-ten list:
1) We’re all reincarnating. You’ve lived countless lives before this one and will live countless lives after you pass from here. Who you are today is the culmination of all you’ve managed to gather across eons of lifetimes. It doesn’t matter who you were before. All that matters is in this reality is who you are becoming, and that should be “nobody.” One day you’ll toss John away like a bad penny and become someone else. Get to the point in this lifetime where you realize your entire ego structure doesn’t matter. When you do, eternal life has begun. Physical death is terrific, like taking off a shoe that’s been too tight for too long.
2) Everything that exists is exactly what God wants and desires. War, famine, plaques, abortions, child abuse – all meant to teach us (Souls) about love. Remember that no one ever dies – we all reincarnate. No Soul is ever lost. Energy cannot be destroyed, and that’s what we are. We’re here in this Earth-school to learn to love. When we’re finished, we go on to countless other realities as learning, creativity, and love are eternal.
3) Meditation is unavoidable. If you want to experience God, you must learn (practice) to be still (Psalm 46:10). It is in this surrender to stillness that all clarity and bliss are discovered. When you dwell on the formless without ceasing, all answers are obtained, and all suffering stops. Find the method of meditation that most resonates with you. Then do it continually, never missing a day.
4) You are not your mind nor your body. You are the witnessing presence observing your life unfold. You are not breathing – you are being breathed by God. When you don’t fight it, that’s dharma. Do your best to stay present, not dwelling in the past, nor fantasizing about the future. The more you are present, the more contented and satisfied you will be.
5) Your reality is created by your intentions, positive or negative. At the root of every intention is either love or fear. Whatever you project into the Universe (God, Divinity) is what you’ll get back. You’re living in the wake of your previous intentions. Forget about material things. Focus on love and all its forms – peace, patience, kindness, forgiveness, tolerance, compassion, etc. Intend this goodness for all beings at all times, and that’s what you’ll experience in every moment of your existence.
6) The entire universe, everything in the reality you are witnessing, exists inside of God. Science tells us everything is energy, and everything is in motion. The entire Universe (God) operates like a holographic feedback system based upon your intentions. Whatever you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it.
7) Only you live in your reality. You are the only one who sees and experiences things the way that you do. The only beings in your reality are you (your witnessing presence) and God. It is the same for every other being. Your reality may intersect the realities of other beings, but each reality is distinct. You must treat every being you meet like God in disguise, for that’s precisely who they are. Each person’s Soul is a little piece of God. The most straightforward explanation of your existence is that you are an artificial intelligence that God is teaching how to love.
8) Everything that has ever happened to you, everything that is presently occurring in your life, all the suffering you’ve ever experienced, is one-hundred-percent your fault, your responsibility, and your making. You are reaping the harvest today of seeds planted yesterday – in this life or a previous one. Take full responsibility for everything in your life, and eventually, the waves of your past actions (karmas) will stop drowning you. Reacting to all situations with compassion quickly extinguishes karmic fires.
9) The entire Bible can be summed up in the phrase “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Everything you do or say to another person, you are, in reality, doing or saying to yourself. The Universe (God, Divinity) is going to treat you exactly as you treat everybody else. If you can do this one thing, you don’t need to read the Bible at all. The Bhagavad Gita is a more accurate spiritual document worthy of continual study.
10) Read Autobiography of a Yogi over and over until you believe it’s true. Then read Be Here Now. Once you do, a whole new reality will open up more magical than anything you could have imagined! These books teach a spiritual path called Bhakti yoga. I’ve never found any spiritual teaching more straightforward or effective.