Scripture: The Dhammapada 252

It’s easy to see the faults of others
But hard to see one’s own.
One shifts out the faults of others like chaff
But conceals one’s own,
As a cheat conceals a bad throw of the dice.

Some of us are always finding fault with others, but never with ourselves. Psychologists tell us that very often the things that bother us in others are the very faults we see in ourselves but hate to admit to.  In any case, we have no business criticizing others until we take a hard look at our own faults and correct them, at which point, we will probably loose our desire to judge others.


Empaths and Spiritual Development

    An empath is someone who experiences some of the same emotions and feelings as others that are close to them. In some cases, this means those who are close to them physically and, in other cases, it means those they are close to emotionally. Some empaths feel many different emotions from others, but many only feel certain emotions or feelings, or feel them only when they are strong. It is especially common between twins and between mother and child.
    I mostly feel the aches and pains of others. I remember once, quite a few years ago, I was in the office with my boss and he gave me a strange look and then said that the arthritis in his hands was really bothering him that morning. I didn’t realize until he said that, that he had been rubbing his hands as if they were cold and he was warming them and, without realizing it, I had started doing the same because my finger joints were aching when I was near him. And once, when I donated blood to the Red Cross, the elderly nurse who took my blood must have had arthritis bad because my joints ached for hours afterwards.
    I also seem to pick up on sadness easily. I remember another time that I took my mother to the funeral of someone she knew, but I didn’t. Even though I didn’t know the person, I got very sad by absorbing the sadness of others there. 
    It really doesn’t sound like being an empath is a pleasant thing, and it isn’t, but useful things are not always pleasant. Being an empath has been useful to me because sometimes, when one of my dogs is sick, I can tell to some degree what is wrong because I will feel the same symptoms. More importantly though, feeling others pain and sadness helps me to be more sympathetic to others. You can’t help but sympathize when their pain is your pain. That is why some degree of empathic sensitivity is very common in those developing their spiritual side. We need to know that we don’t stand alone, we are part of the One, we are all connected. And that is one reason why highly developed spiritual people have to limit their contact with the general public. The bombardment of aches, pains, and generally negative emotions that hit them in such circumstances can be overwhelming. When they do make a public appearance, they often have to put up an emotional shield for protection. This may make them seem somewhat aloof, but they are not.


Spiritual Symbols: Sea Shells

            Conch, and other sea shells, are often collected to use as decorations or as a souvenir of a beach vacation. Sea shells also have spiritual symbology. Generally, they are associated with the feminine side of life: birth, regeneration, marriage, fertility, etc. They also represent water, life and love. Shells represent the universal matrix, probably because of the spiral shape of many shells. In China, they represent good fortune and a good life in the afterworld. In Christianity, they often represent baptism, resurrection and funerals. A scallop shell, or a dish shaped like one, is often used in the baptism ceremony. Shells can also represent a journey across the sea, a material sea or a spiritual one. In the Catholic church, a sea shell is a symbol of pilgrims. The Romans also considered sea shells to be symbolic of prosperity. Woman in India sometimes sew cowrie shells into their garments to aid fertility.
    The conch shell is more often considered a solar symbol, representing both the rising and the setting sun. In Buddhism, the conch represents the voice of Buddha and it’s call is said to awaken one from ignorance. In Islam, it represents hearing the divine Word. In ancient Greece and Rome, the conch shell was the symbol of the sea god. In Hinduism, it is also symbolic of Vishnu as lord or the waters. The Mayans also associated the conch with waters and with sea gods. The spiral shape also represents infinity. 
    The Nautilus shell is symbolic of creation, perfection, and the beauty of nature. It is also a symbol of the golden mean. It is also symbolic of strength and long life since the nautilus has been around for millions of years. It is also a symbol of expansion and renewal.
    In dreams, sea shells often represent the unconscious mind. They can also mean that you are feeling cut off from others or you are feeling a desire to withdraw from others, or from criticism.   


Is Ignorance Bliss?

Ignorance is Bliss.” ~Thomas Gray

What you don’t know, can’t hurt you.”

    These sayings are popular, but are they really true? I don’t think so. And I doubt that Thomas Gray, a Cambridge University professor, believed it either, at least not in general. These sayings originated as references to specific circumstances in which they may have been true, at least short term, but not as a general condition. Not knowing that your mother died in an accident yesterday may allow you to be happy today, but eventually you learn the truth.
    Just looking at the materialistic side of it, we know that those who are better educated and therefore have more knowledge, at least more knowledge of the material world, are more likely to get and keep good jobs. You certainly wouldn’t want to be represented in court by an ignorant lawyer and you definitely wouldn’t want to be operated on a doctor that was ignorant of proper surgical procedures. There is a good reason why education is emphasized in nearly all civilized nations. Of course, public schools are often tools of the state to indoctrinate the youth, but, even then, they are also useful in helping them learn the skills they need to survive and, perhaps one day, to brake free of oppression.
    On the spiritual side, knowledge is even more important. This is especially true today when we have so many preachers teachings things that were never taught by Jesus, Buddha, Moses or and of the other religious founders. The Essenes and the early Christians, an offshoot of the Essenes, understood this and made all effort to gain spiritual knowledge and truth, Gnosis. When you gain gnosis, you are learning directly from God and therefore you know that it is 100% true and accurate. And that knowledge makes it possible for you to obtain true immortality. Without that knowledge, you cannot get immortality, it’s that simple. Now some will argue that knowledge is what got Adam & Eve kicked out of the Garden of Edin, but that was not gnosis, that was the knowledge of good & evil, the knowledge of the material world.