Author Archives for Gregory Toole

About Gregory Toole

Author: A Simple Guide to Planetary Transformation

Let’s Create a New Paradigm

I am willing to be part of creating a new paradigm in our country that represents mutual respect, tolerance for different opinions, working together across the political spectrum, dignity for all people, loving and kind communication, compassion for each person’s unique situation in life, truly “seeing” each other, deeply listening to one another, integration whereby the needs of businesses, workers, the young, the elderly, and the earth are all accounted for, and so much more that represents our light and the greater possibilities that result from working together.

Sometimes we need to hit a bottom before we can birth something new. I believe last week’s events in Washington, DC represent one of those bottoms.

I really do feel something new and better is emerging, and I am so willing to be a part of that.

It is not about one politician over another politician. It is about our collective evolution. It is about raising the bar higher.

How about if we each take a good look in the mirror and see any of the ways that we are contributing to division, and go beyond that to see the ways we could contribute to sowing unity and mutual respect. We must stop thinking that those of differing opinions are our enemies.

We have all contributed to creating our current situation, so we can all contribute to changing it.

I am holding so much love and compassion for every being on this planet right now as, together, we usher in the new paradigm.

It’s happening. Don’t be thrown off by appearances to the contrary.

How to Be a Spiritual Activist (updated)

A Heart with Copy Space

The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines activism this way: a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue. I’ll focus on “a practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action.” Since oneness is a core precept of spirituality, the second part of the definition, “supporting or opposing one side of an issue,” does not seem to fit.

But can we be activists without taking sides when so much of the world begs us to take a stance, either for or against, on so many issues? Since all of life is one, what we call sides are simply different aspects of the one. All are contained in the one.

What if we simply be for love? Love is our essence, our divine nature. Love has no real opposite. We can be for love without being against anyone. Hate is not the opposite of love; it is simply the masking of love. Fear is not the opposite of love; it is turning away from love. Love is the core essence of who we are and what life is, the divine nature of all things.

When the master teacher Jesus instructed us to “love our enemies” he wasn’t saying love their behaviors or love their hateful speech. He was recognizing that the most powerful and transformational way we can respond to any situation is to bring love to it. We forget how powerful love is. We mistakenly think our best course of action is to force our “opponent” into submission. Remember that thing about “equal and opposite reactions”?

To be for love is to bring more love into all situations. Everything is made better with love. Everything is lifted up with love. When we have love in our hearts we see more clearly. Love points the way, allowing us to find common ground or a higher possibility. It points us to inclusion, fairness, and justice. It allows us to see beyond our biases, opinions, and judgments. It allows us to truly see our “enemies,” and they become real people. We see their fear, their anger, their hopes and dreams. Now they become much more human, much more like who we are.

It can be very destructive to believe our opinions are right. When we feel we are right, and we are guided by that notion, we are blinded to other points of view and we limit higher possibilities. Rather than being right, how about if we are true, true to love? Love doesn’t cast anyone out. Love doesn’t put us in opposition to anyone else. Love connects us.

The world doesn’t know the full potential of unconditional love because it has rarely been tried. My most poignant experience of this was watching a man whose whole family had been in the Ku Klux Klan break down and cry when he received so much love from a group of mostly African American workshop leaders. We had volunteered to be part of this workshop and go into a state penitentiary where it was offered to inmates. This man was an inmate and he shared how he had never really experienced love and never actually met a Black person. He had only learned hate from his family. How ironic it was that the first time he experienced unconditional love was from the group of people he had hated his whole life.

To me, being a spiritual activist is about vigorously acting from love, sharing love, and emanating love. We are not doormats in this new paradigm; in fact, we are using the most powerful force there is. And from this foundation of unconditional love, we speak our truth, we stand up for what love points us to, and we say “No!’ to anything unlike love. Yes, our human instinct is to fight our enemies and to destroy them, and yet we know this only creates further division. Love brings us closer and begins to dissolve the divisions, transcend differences, and open the possibility for higher, win-win solutions to problems.

5 Questions to Know If You Are Being a Spiritual Activist

  1. I am open to fully hearing the opinions of others, even when their opinions are contrary to mine?
  2. Do I easily love people regardless of whether they meet my expectations?
  3. Do I love and forgive people even when they do something hurtful to me?
  4. Do I open my heart and provide a space of love in difficult situations?
  5. Do I love and embrace those who seem very different from me?

If you answered yes or mostly yes to these questions, you are being quite the spiritual activist according to the definition put forth here. If not, perhaps there is an opening to expand your role as a conduit for love. In any case, our essence and nature is love. The question is, how true will we be to our nature?

Enjoy the journey.

Are We Still Free?


During these times of stay-at-home orders from state and local officials, one might ask the question, “are we still free?” To answer that question, let us first explore the concept of freedom.

Ernest Holmes, in his book “The Science of Mind,” wrote “The Law is a law of liberty, but not a law of license.” He was referring to the spiritual laws that we cooperate with to manifest what we want to experience in life. It is a law of liberty because we are free to create and experience unlimited good in our lives. It is not a law of license because we must conform to the ways of the laws, or the nature of how life works. In others words we are not at liberty to do or have what we want unless it conforms to the nature of life and how things work.

I have found that freedom carries great responsibility. When there is no freedom, someone else tells us what to do and we just follow. When there is freedom, we ourselves must choose what we shall do with this great power.

Do laws and orders imposed by officials curtail our freedom? It depends. If it is an authoritarian government perhaps our freedom could be curtailed in some way. If it is a democratic form of government, wherein we participated in electing those creating the laws and wherein we have agreed that this is the way we want to be governed, perhaps our freedom is not curtailed. In either case, our true freedom is not curtailed because, if nothing else, we are still free to think as we wish.

Even in the realm of actions, we are still free to act as we please, albeit with potential consequences. In this way we are still at choice. And if we find the laws to be oppressive, we can choose to protest, work toward changing them, or agree to go along anyway. These are all choices we could make because we are free, and no one can ultimately give or take away freedom.

For some, the idea of freedom connotes that we should be able to do whatever we want, and no one should be able to tell us otherwise. But this is not how nature works. Sure, we can do whatever we want, but if we do not comply with nature, there are consequences. We can jump off a building if we choose, but it does not exempt us from the results of gravity. We are free to do it, but a wiser choice would be to honor nature.

In America, one could say that freedom is our greatest and most celebrated value. And freedom is often connected to individuality and our ability to each chart our own course. In times of a pandemic, this can lead to deadly results because it implies that we have no effect on each other, and it does not fully consider our inherent interdependence.

With the COVID-19 virus, one’s decision to not wear a mask, or to not keep their distance from others, could put those around them at risk, according to medical experts.

Perhaps there is good in balancing our value for freedom and individuality with the truth of our oneness, interconnectedness, and interdependence.

We are still at choice, we are still free, and there is the possibility of making wiser choices that account for this expanded truth of oneness.

Enjoy the journey.

Reclaiming the Holidays

The holiday season is that time of year when expectations can be at an all-time high. There are images of ideal families coming together to celebrate in joy, peace, and love. Then there is the dread of those who feel unable or unwilling to live up to those expectations of what the holidays are supposed to be.

There are those whose loved ones of years past celebrations are no longer with us, or those who are estranged from their loved ones. This can make the holidays a very sad and lonely time.

This year, I decided to redefine what the holidays are for me and to reclaim them, after many years, perhaps decades, of being alienated from the common messages and ideals portrayed.

What I love about Christmas is the spirit of love and goodwill toward our fellow beings. I also love the joy and sacredness expressed in many Christmas songs.

What I have long disliked from the time I was a teenager to the present is the whole idea that Christmas is about shopping. This hustle and bustle at the end of the year to purchase things that often will never be used is the antithesis of what the holiday is to me.

This year I decided to make peace with what the season is for me. I will awaken on Christmas morning alone with a glass of vegan eggnog and the sound of Christmas songs echoing through my home. I will reach out to some loved ones and wish them a Merry Christmas. In the afternoon, I will gather with some friends for a holiday meal. That’s it!

Absent will be the idea that something special must happen. What will also be gone is the notion that it ought to be any different than it is. Comparisons to years past or to what others are doing for the holiday will be nowhere to be found.

Ultimately, the meaning we give this day is fully up to each one of us. What is meaningful for me is to steep in what I consider my highest nature, which is love, and to extend that love to all others. It is to say a prayer of peace for all of humanity, and a prayer that all beings everywhere be happy and well.

That is my prayer for you this holiday season – that you be happy, well, and at peace. And may you claim this holiday season for yourself, unburdened by societal expectations or comparisons to years past.

Enjoy the journey.

Ten Simple Ways to Grow from Your Relationships


Relationships can be a great place to grow and expand, if we allow ourselves to be open and vulnerable to our own growing edges. Here are ten simple guidelines for being in conscious relationship with yourself and others.

  1. When you feel angry, say what it is in you that made you angry, when the other person did what they did.
  2. When you feel joy, say what is in you that resonates with joy when the other person did what they did.
  3. When you have a need or desire, communicate it as a request, not a demand (a request means it’s okay for the other person to say “yes” or “no”).
  4. When you’re not sure what the other person wants or is trying to communicate, ask for clarification (don’t make assumptions).
  5. When communicating with others, focus more on connection than content (more on what you feel and experience together, rather than the specific topic of discussion).
  6. When your feelings arise, pay attention to what sensations you feel in your body, where you feel them, and what emotions are connected to them (this increases your self-awareness).
  7. When conflict occurs, pay more attention to what you’re feeling than what you’re thinking (chances are you are triggered based on something unhealed from your past).
  8. When you get caught in a debate about who is right and who is wrong, pause, reestablish your heart-to-heart connection, and share what you are feeling (chances are you’re not talking about what’s really going on).
  9. When feeling good starts to feel overwhelming, take some space, re-group, and then come back for more good feelings.
  10. When you keep feeling like a relationship is not good for you, trust that feeling.

Check out Gregory’s upcoming Zoom online class entitled “Relationship as Spiritual Practice.

Ten Myths Dispelled About Conflict


The word conflict for most people gets their heart beating faster. The fight or flight impulse begins to kick in, and we get ready to run or move into defense. Each of us has our own strategies for dealing with conflict, some conscious and others unconscious, habitual patterns. Conflict and its role in our lives are not very well understood.

Here, I dispel some common myths about conflict:

  1. Myth: Conflict means something has gone wrong.
    Truth: Conflict means change is being called for. What might have worked before no longer works.
  2. Myth: Conflict is something to avoid.
    Truth: Conflict is a great opportunity for our own growth and the growth of our relationships.
  3. Myth: The answer to conflict is to figure out who is right and who is wrong.
    Truth: The answer to conflict is to understand ourselves and others better so that we can benefit most from the situation at hand.
  4. Myth: The solution to conflict is compromise.
    Truth: Compromise has positive aspects, but ultimately is a lose-lose model.
  5. Myth: The most important thing with conflict is to resolve it.
    Truth: The most important thing with conflict is to learn from it, and to grow ourselves and the relationship as a result.
  6. Myth: The absence of conflict is the sign of a good relationship.
    Truth: Navigating conflict in a healthy way is the sign of a good relationship.
  7. Myth: Nice people don’t have conflict.
    Truth: The best of us experience conflict.
  8. Myth: It’s best to resolve conflict quickly.
    Truth: It’s best to take the time to make sure we fully understand how the conflict is calling each person to change and grow.
  9. Myth: The bigger person is the one who doesn’t engage in conflict.
    Truth: The bigger person is the one who takes responsibility for their part in conflict.
  10. Myth: Conflict is difficult because no one wants to lose.
    Truth: Conflict is difficult when no one wants to change.

Ultimately, conflict is an opportunity to pause and reexamine our values and the values of others, and how those values are being honored or not honored. It is a chance to see where we are and where others are that is causing a disruption in the flow of our relationships. If we approach conflict with love, openness, and creativity, no one must lose, but everyone likely needs to change and grow.

Gregory is offering a four-week online class via Zoom called “Transforming Conflict” beginning February 5, 2019. Click here for more information.

Ten Signs of a Conscious Relationship


In contemplating what constitutes a healthy, conscious relationship, I came up with this list of signs, or key indicators, of relationships that are highly functional. I’m sure there are other things that could be added to the list, but this  addresses some key areas of relationship health. These signs apply to romantic relationships as well as to other forms of relationship. Areas where we feel we are not expressing in the most healthy way represent opportunities for growth. Here they are:

  1. Each person is willing to grow and learn, and the relationship fosters growth and expansion for each person.
  2. You can talk about anything. What needs to be said can be (and is) said.
  3. Each person is free of addictions or committed to being free.
  4. Disagreements are handled with relative ease, without sweeping things under the rug.
  5. Taking responsibility for one’s experience and actions is the norm, rather than blaming or projecting.
  6. Being in the relationship feels expansive, rather than contracting.
  7. Each person can freely and authentically be who they are.
  8. There is a balance between time spent together and time spent apart.
  9. There are common goals and interests, as well as individual goals and interests.
  10. The most frequent experience of being together is joy.

Gregory is offering an online four-week class starting November 27 entitled “Creating Win-Win Relationships. Click here for more information.

How Do We Fix the World?


Most of us know that we can’t fix the world, nor does the world need to be fixed. The process of human evolution continues to unfold, and the greatest thing we can do is to participate consciously in our own evolution, and to bring our evolution forth through the actions we take in the world.

In other words, if we want to create a more peaceful, loving, and joyful world, we start by asking how can I be more peaceful, loving, and joyful? Then, what we do in the world can spring forth from the highest that we can currently offer from our expanding consciousness.

If we are going to march, let it be an act of love, and let it be for some beautiful ideal rather than against something.

Many people today are very angry, and often for good reason. The actions we take from anger can be very destructive and often have unintended consequences. Our actions are not just about what we do, but also about the consciousness, intention, and vibration from which we do it. If we want to create more peace in the world, acting from anger, bitterness, and animosity toward others is unlikely to take us there.

I find that when I act from anger, I am sloppy and careless in how I go about things, and I don’t see people and situations clearly.

Anger can be a good motivator, something that gets us energized to act, perhaps because we are fed up and just cannot allow an injustice to continue any longer. But before we act, let us get centered in our hearts. Let it be an act of love and service for the highest good of all concerned.

Even when working with or seemingly against what we consider to be our opposition, let us embrace those with different views and appeal to the higher ideals we want to manifest rather than personally attacking anyone (including those who might attack us). Let us be clear and strong in our ideals, but not rigid and self-righteous.

In sports, most athletes know that it is not a good idea to talk badly about their opponents, thus risking getting them more energized to oppose with greater force. The wise athlete speaks kindly and respectfully about their opponent and focuses on his or her own preparation to perform at the highest level.

When seeking to effect change in the world, the enlightened approach is to listen to all points of view, including those very different from our own. In listening to all points of view, we seek to see the value in each point of view rather than seeking to show the wrongness of them. We seek to understand what is important to those expressing the views. And we authentically communicate what is important to us.

In my experience working on conflict transformation with individuals and groups, I have found that if we can get beneath the surface and understand values and needs, we have a basis for moving forward where all parties can win. Often in life we stay on the surface, which usually only reveals the conclusions and solutions each party is advocating and not their underlying needs and values.

Our way forward as a human species will require us to cultivate compassion and a deep curiosity about those who appear different from us. It will depend on us tapping into our unlimited creativity, in new ways, to create solutions that honor the needs and values of diverse peoples, with widely varying points of view.

The good news is we are infinitely creative. Just as we have technological innovations today that just ten years ago may have seemed impossible, so too are we capable of social innovations that exceed anything that seems possible today.

The invitation this day is to remain open, curious, compassionate, and creatively energized to bring forth a world where all are honored, and each one’s needs and values are given due consideration.

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory’s next online class starts Tuesday, October 16, 2018. It is title “The Untethered Soul,” based on the Michael Singer book of the same title. Click here for more information.

Feel Your Way to Wholeness


In his book, “Conscious Living,” Gay Hendricks writes “We are doing one thing wrong that is at the root of our problems. We are failing to honor and love our authentic experience and failing to notice the authentic experience of others.“

One clear path to stepping into our wholeness is to honor where we are right now. And one straightforward way to do that is to fully feel our feelings.

Many believe that if they fully feel their feelings they will be totally overwhelmed and might not be able to function. In this belief, feeling our feelings isn’t practical.

What seems to be truer is that with practice, regularly experiencing our feelings, they rise and pass fairly quickly. Perhaps it is in our habit of suppressing our feelings or rationalizing them away that we have created a floodgate that seems like it would burst if we allowed ourselves to feel.

The beauty of our feelings is that they are totally honest. They represent something that is going on with us in this moment. With practice, we can check in, see what’s going on, express the feelings appropriately to ourselves and others, and move on.

Eckhardt Tolle provides an excellent example in his book, “A New Earth,” writing “After two ducks get into a fight, which never lasts long, they will separate and float off in opposite directions. Then each duck will flap its wings vigorously a few times, thus releasing the surplus energy that built up during the fight. After they flap their wings, they float on peacefully, as if nothing had ever happened.”

Feeling our feelings requires being fully in our bodies, aware of the energy moving through us, sensations coming and going, and the flow of emotions.

Often, we have strategies to avoid our feelings, in the form of various addictions, whether it be sugar, alcohol, or sex. These are ways of numbing, leaving us out of touch with our bodies and our emotions.

Many have asked me, “Why should I feel my feelings?” My response is that it allows you to be more alive. When we shut down our feelings, we cut off our very life force, the currents of energy that are moving in us, and we experience life as a contrivance of the mind rather than as it really is.

With practice, the energy is freed to flow rather than getting stuck. When it flows, feelings are momentary rather than continuous. Feelings rise and pass, rise and pass…

All the while, we are experiencing the fullness of each moment, noticing what arises, allowing it to inform us. We might say, “I notice I feel sad when you say that” or “I notice I feel joy as you touched my hand.”

We are experiencing the moment as it is, without judgment. This is wholeness—to experience ourselves and others as we are, without judgment or trying to make the experience something different.

Some would ask, “What about choice, don’t we choose our experience?” The answer is “yes,” and we create our experience by starting from where we are. If we pretend we are somewhere else, we disconnect from ourselves, which is also disconnecting from source energy. Thus, we disconnect from our power to create and, ultimately, we find ourselves unfulfilled, living in an imaginary ideal, rather than our actual embodied experience in this life.

The invitation this day is to ground fully in your body, be present, and allow the flow of life-force energy to move through you freely. Feel those feelings and allow them to pass. Notice the feelings, express them, and be informed by them. And claim your wholeness in what actually is.

Enjoy the journey.

If you want to go deeper into this experience of embodied wholeness, consider Gregory’s upcoming online class, “Conscious Living.” (Click here for more info)

Persona or Authentic Self?


Answering the question “who are you?” can take us a long way on the spiritual journey in distinguishing our personas from our authentic self. The personas are masks we wear to allow us to function in specific situations. They aren’t necessarily a bad thing, if they represent healthy behavior and we recognize them as personas.

In his book, “Conscious Living,” Gay Hendricks writes “The problem of successful people is that their ‘good’ masks work really well.” Often our masks that “work really well” can begin to be confused with our essence or our authentic self. Then our masks can become traps where we are now living for the persona rather than our authentic expression.

No matter how successful we are as a public speaker, a teacher, an accountant, a salesperson, an actor, an athlete, a mother, or a father, it is not who we are. It is a role we are playing, that while drawing on our authentic expression, is only a small part of who we are.

Often as spiritual teachers we invite participants in classes and workshops to sit face-to-face as one participant asks the other “who are you?” then asks the question again and again after the one responding answers. We typically see that the first answers are more about our personas or the roles we play – mother, father, husband, wife, hiker, dancer. As we continue to answer the question, the answers go deeper and begin to transcend personas. Ultimately, we start to come into the realization that I am divine, I am a unique way that divinity is expressing, or something more along the lines of our essence that exists regardless of situation or circumstance.

When we become overly identified with our personas we can lose touch with our authentic selves, and as a result become disconnected from our happiness and fulfillment. Amid great success, there can still be a sense of emptiness and a degree of low self-esteem.

The remedy is to begin reclaiming our essence. We can use that simple question, “who are you?” We can do it in a journal or with a partner. The question is more important than the answers. There is not an ultimate, final, definitive answer to the question. Rather, the question is a practice that takes us deeper and deeper into ourselves, expanding our awareness of the distinction between our personas and our essence.

By continuously feeling into and contemplating what is true and changeless about us, we expand into connection with our deeper, more authentic selves, and give our authentic expression greater outlet, regardless of the role or activity.

When we feel connected to our divinity, our essence, then fulfillment is natural, regardless of external circumstances. When we are not connected to our essence, no amount of external success or recognition is fulfilling.

Meditation as a spiritual practice is also a great aid in connecting us to our essence because it creates more spaciousness within us whereby we see ourselves and the world in greater clarity. A simple breathing meditation will do, where we sit in stillness and keep bringing our attention back to the breath as the mind tends to wander.

A spiritual teacher once said, “If you have time, meditate for 15 minutes a day. If you don’t have time, meditate for 30 minutes a day.” There is great wisdom in this humorous phrase, and yet it is less important how long you meditate each day than it is that you are consistent in meditating daily. If you take one minute each day to get still, pay attention to the breath, and tune in to your inner being, it will be helpful. And the amount of time spent in meditation is likely to expand on its own with practice.

The invitation this day is to contemplate “Who am I?” “What is my essence?” And then to live in the question as it continues to bring greater light and clarity.

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory has an upcoming online class based on Gay Hendricks’ book “Conscious Living.” Click here for more information.

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