God’s Limitlessness & Lamps

DISCOURSE 4 - SIGNIFICANCE OF LAMPI am in the process of searching for the right new housemate.  As I’ve shared in a previous post, God manifested the most amazing little blessed home for me and also gave me a wonderful room mate and dear friend all through synchronicity, surrender and prayer.

Well, now my dear friend and house mate has moved away to pursue her artistic and professional dreams, so my own motto of “You only need one” when manifesting something you need (i.e. one job, one parking space, one housemate) has turned into “Well, actually, God, in this instance, I need two.”

Sunday morning I was talking to a sweet friend who asked me if I had found a housemate yet and I said, no, not yet.  She said that God would find me the right one, in the right timing – but maybe I’d need to be patient because God had a lot on his plate right now with terrorism and some pretty big world issues that were higher priorities.  And yes, I agree – ending senseless violence in the name of religion is of highest priority. (Or senseless violence in the name of anything or indeed any violence at all, for can any violence really be sensible?)  However – it struck me that God is not limited.  I think She can take care of the big stuff and the small stuff all at the same time without breaking a sweat.

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Table lamp from God

And just a couple of weeks ago, to show me that God is taking care of me in every single way, however small, God gave me a lamp.

The table lamp in my living room was broken.  I only had the overhead light and it is bright and harsh and anything but relaxing.  In the evenings I had to choose between semi-darkness or full-wattage light.  I had been wanting to get a new lamp to replace it, several times I had almost gotten in my car to go down to Target, but I always changed my mind because I didn’t think it was sensible for me to spend the money right now.

Then I had my sweet friends Vilasini and Suresh over for dinner.  After our lovely meal and spiritual conversation, Vilasini said to me “We have this lamp that’s just been sitting in our closet, do you want it?”  Suresh went out to the car and came back with a gorgeous table lamp.  I was astonished!  How could they bring the one thing that I had been needing?  I hadn’t said anything to anyone.  I had never mentioned how much I wanted a lamp for my living room.  But here they arrived at my house with a lamp.  How does God do that?

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Table lamp from Target

It was a lamp Vilasini’s father had bought when he had gone to visit her in India while she was at Chinmayananda‘s ashram.  They didn’t want to just get rid of it or give it to a thrift store, it was special – but they didn’t want it sitting useless in their closet, either.  It is absolutely beautiful.  It has a carved wood base and a beautifully painted design in teals.  It matches my end table and my couch perfectly!  I could not have picked out a better lamp for my living room in a hundred years and it’s so much more exquisite than anything I could find at Target for any amount of money.

This is one of the most amazing things about God – that God can love ALL of humanity absolutely and also love little ME completely – perfectly Universal and Personal at the same time.  I never feel that God doesn’t want to hear my prayers or that my life is too miniscule for God’s care.  If I just love God, God cares for me in all ways.  Just when I was starting to worry a little bit about my housemate situation and finding the right person, God shows me that it is all perfect and not only is God holding Light and Love for all the world’s major problems, She is taking care of my indoor lighting needs, as well.

So, I am reminded once again to have faith.  I know that God manifested a whole new life for me out of nothing!  God gave me a home, a community, a purpose, a Peachy.  I know that She also has a second perfect housemate for me – or a way for me to be able to live alone if that is my highest.  God is caring for my soul and awakening me to more and more love AND bringing me beautiful Indian lamps to make my living room feel cozy.

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Busy white guy with beard

And this manifestation of the perfect lamp in no way detracts from God’s focus on healing humanity of violence and terrorism.  God’s focus is not limited, God is not confined by time or space.  It’s important to remember that we are made in God’s image (limitless & perfect) and not to project our own limited image onto God (white guy with beard who can only do so much in His busy schedule).

What it feels like to me is that God is absolute perfection!  And simply by BEING That Perfection God holds for the perfection of ALL things at ALL times.  So, God “working towards” the perfect love and compassion of the human heart and the healing of all violence is in a sense done in the same “Act” of holding for the perfect table lamp or the perfect healing of a friend’s surgery or the perfect new job.  God answers all our prayers, no matter how “small”, simply by BEING Perfection, BEING Love, Being Peace, Being Light.  We offer our prayers with sincerity and love into God’s Perfection and we receive Perfection in return – Perfection is reflected back to us.

Something like that.  Of course, as in all things God, there are myriad ways and nuances, multiple yes’s and paradoxes – but this is what I’m feeling right now.  I feel like God is right here for me as my best friend, my Beloved, right here with me in my daily life, in my heart, with me at all times and in all things – in God’s vast expansive limitlessness and the mundane specificity of lamps.

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Straight and Narrow Path ~ Spine of Shiva

530735302_e447c704feI am a firm believer that any book or bible can only help point the way for us to experience the living word of Love and Truth that is in our hearts.  There are many teachings in Christianity and, indeed, in every other religion, which gets taken out of context and twisted into something unrecognizable from the original intent – often times even quite the opposite of what the Teacher, Prophet or Messiah had in mind.  Yet, if you truly pray with an open and yearning heart and contemplate the words, it can lead you back to the original meaning.  This is the point and practice of Mystical Christianity.

Even though I have never read the bible cover to cover, I have had the experience of being in prayer or meditation and suddenly understanding a phrase or a verse that I have heard repeated all my life without knowing what it really means.  One such phrase is “the straight and narrow path.”

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” 

right_roadThis bible verse from Matthew 7:14 has been used for centuries as a way to justify a very straight and narrow religious point of view and all kinds of discrimination or prejudice for those the particular church deems not straight or narrow enough.  But I experience that the phrase is not about being straight as in heterosexual or even straight as in upright and rigidly conforming to religious norms.  And narrow does not mean narrow-minded.

One summer years ago I had just dedicated my life to God and at this particular time that meant I was not working “out in the world.”  I spent my days mostly alone, working at my desk and taking care of my ministry’s retreat center and sweet little temple.  I would water the plants on the decks and in the temple and then take the opportunity to kneel at the altar and pray or meditate.  I wore all white just because I felt like it, and I do admit, some days I would put my white sarong over my head and dress up like a novitiate, just for fun, just because it felt good to me, even though no one else was around to see me – or I guess specifically because no one was around to see me.  (Otherwise the only opportunity I had to dress up like a nun was once a year on Halloween.)

41w5HDcnoKLThroughout the day I would stay tuned into my heart.  I know we often talk of the Temple within the heart, and it is most often used as figurative speech, but I actually would feel my little inner self inside my little inner temple in my heart.  It was like I could tune in to my heart and feel myself kneeling at the Temple in my heart, sometimes prostrating, and sometimes, when I was feeling less than surrendered, I could feel myself standing or restless, not quite in the mood to be empty or devoted.

One day as I knelt before the altar in the temple, I looked at the picture of Jesus and poured forth my love for Him and then closed my eyes with my hands on my heart.  I tuned into the Inner Temple of my heart and could feel myself kneeling with my head bowed to Christ.  All of a sudden I experience myself kneeling inside a column of white light.  It was the most exquisite, peaceful, soft and radiant white light I’d ever felt.  And I could see it as a straight and narrow column or path connecting me to God.  And it didn’t have anything to do with behavior or moral code or do’s and don’ts or should’s – the only thing that helped me stay in this beautiful exquisite blissful straight and narrow column of white light was my focus on loving God.

That was it – that was the mystical meaning of the straight and narrow path that I felt from the living word in my own heart.  I don’t know what mystical scholars or ecclesiastical books might say about what was meant with those words in the bible, but my experience of those words was about the simple and profound power of devotion.  The straight and narrow path I felt inside of me is about keeping my focus steadily on loving God.  It’s not about anything else, and it’s certainly not about judging someone that we deem to be off the straight and narrow path that we have self-righteously drawn out for ourselves.

Shiva NatarajAnd, as is usually the case, this mystical meaning of the straight and narrow focus on God can also be found in other religions with different words.  Last weekend I was over at a friend’s house and they had just acquired a new Shiva Nataraj statue.  They invited us over for puja, to bless and consecrate the new addition to their temple room.  We chanted the Om Namaha Shivaya 108 times and afterwards I stayed in the little room standing in front of the Nataraj.

Shiva is the Hindu aspect of God as the ultimate yogi, the ultimate meditator with absolute pure focus solely on God.  As I was standing in front of the Shiva statue I all of a sudden felt my spine become straight and narrow in single pointed focus on God.  I could feel Shiva’s spine as a focus so straight and narrow that it felt like a thread – a thin, glimmering, golden thread of light.

I was reminded of my experience of the straight and narrow column of light connecting me to God.  Shiva’s spine is also the straight and narrow focus on God, and it has nothing to do with renouncing or not renouncing the world, it has nothing to do with do’s and don’ts or should’s, it only has to do with getting into the state of consciousness where you are residing in single pointed focus of loving God.

The straight and narrow path is internal.  It’s all an inside job.  The mystical truth is between you and God.  And whether you practice devotion to Christ or meditation with Shiva, the straight and narrow path is found in the temple of your own heart.

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The Radical Equality of Oneness

crowd-of-peopleI recently watched a spiritual documentary, a movie meant to be inspirational for living our life purpose, which it was.  However, there was this underlying premise that I found kind of bothersome.  Some of the best-selling authors and motivational speakers kept making comments like “Most people live in a trance, unawakened and on auto-pilot.”  There was reference to shopping mall consciousness and the general apathy of the larger part of humanity.  This kind of judgmental attitude towards billions of people on the planet struck me as actually contradictory to living my soul purpose, which is to love my neighbor as my Self.

In order to inspire us to live life to the fullest and really examine our passions and purpose, do we really need to think ill of most people?  It feels kind of like flippantly saying “everything is an illusion” – it is kind of rude.  And it seems not only unkind, but untrue.

5-inspiring-photograph-helpI find that “most people” find ways to express love in their lives – small ways, big ways, medium ways, all kinds of ways.  There are billions of people all over the world who do all kinds of good things – loving their children, supporting local charities, volunteering at local churches, feeding the homeless, giving to the Humane Society, sending care packages to soldiers overseas, donating their old clothes to thrift stores, taking care of their aging parents, helping a neighbor fix their garage door…  I could type all day long and the list would not come to an end.  These are all ways of expressing love and soul purpose.

I guess some best-selling authors or motivational speakers might not see a housewife’s passion for pottery as her fulfilling her purpose or going on her hero’s journey, but it IS her way of centering herself, meditating and putting love into what she does – not just in ceramic coffee cups or vases, but in all her actions as a human citizen.  Why is that “less than” doing a series of success seminars or writing books on how to live your dreams?

man-meditating-black-color-light-SSI also hear this underlying judgment of “most people” in spiritual circles sometimes.  Some of the sweetest most well-meaning people I know talk about how we have to hold the Light for all the un-spiritual people of the world or how we are part of the 2% of those who are focused on awakening.  I am absolutely certain that I have said similar things many times, so in a way I am grateful to this movie for pointing this separation attitude out to me.  I intend to be more conscious, loving and inclusive in the future.

And it might be true that those who meditate on the Light of God hold Light for the whole planet.  I know there are great Masters and yogis in the Himalayas who spend their lives in service to the consciousness of humanity by holding the focus of God in meditation and prayer (though I doubt very much that they look down upon “most people”).  In our kirtan at Chinmaya last weekend, as we were chanting the name of God and proclaiming the victory of Lord Rama I could feel the energy ascending, radiating out in all directions and manifesting the Victory of Love on Earth!  I’m sure that was a good thing.

But there are many good things and many ways that most people hold Love and Light, too.  I want to be careful to not hang on to any subtle separation that divides the 2% from the 98% or creates any kind of us/them thinking or spiritual elite.  I don’t want to go around thinking that meditators are cooler than other people.  I am not separate from my sisters or co-workers or friends, I am not separate from all the kind-hearted people at my church who may not meditate but who have a sincere love for God and who try to be the best neighbors and grandmothers they can be.

parentWe are all part of the world we are creating together and we are all doing our parts to the best of our ability.  Who am I to say that my part is any more important that anyone else’s?  What would happen if all parents in the world stopped loving their children?  What would that do to the vibration of human consciousness?  I can’t even imagine how much upliftment and love all the parents of the world add to humanity!  Is it more or less than the amount of love people on a path of spiritual awakening contribute?

What would happen if all the dogs and cats in the world stopped being cute and opening human hearts to feel love? What would that do to the sum total of love in the world?  For that matter, what would happen if crickets stopped chirping their eternal Om?  How would that change the vibration of the planet?

What would happen if all those people who “just” go to church on Sundays stopped going to church?  If all the millions if not billions of people who go to churches and synagogues and mosques and temples to sing praises and honor God for an hour or two every week stopped doing that?  When I started going to the All Saints Cathedral I’d watch everyone standing in line going up for communion.  Some people would hold their hands in prayer, some people would stand in line glancing around at the people coming and going, but they were all participating in becoming one with the body of Christ.  Who am I to say that the person holding their hands in prayer is worth more spiritually?  Who am I to say that this person is contributing more than that person?  All I see is that something holy is happening and so many people are participating and it makes God happy and it’s 662026beautiful.  It could be that the 98% who focus on God one hour a week do more for human consciousness than the 2% that focus on God 40 hours a week.  I don’t think there is really a way to do the math, but the point is, it’s all good, we’re all contributing love to the world.

We are all an intricate whole.  We are all doing our parts and adding our vibrations of love in our own ways and we are all dependent on each other.  I don’ even know if I COULD  be focused on God or awakening if it wasn’t for all the people in the world loving their sons and daughters or their dogs and cats or their spouses.  If all those billions of people stopped holding love in their hearts and their daily lives, if all the artists and craftsmen of the world stopped putting love into every stitch, would there even be enough love in the world for me to focus on loving God?  Maybe the world would fall into such a low vibration that I would just fall into chaos and despair?  Could I even hope to awaken without everyone else doing their parts in the collective consciousness?

Instead of thinking of “most people” as living in an unconscious trance, I should be grateful to every single one of them for all the ways they help to lift me up!

I read the online bio of one of the speakers in the movie and it said “so-and-so is a major, major player in the spiritual transformation taking place on the planet today.”  It struck me as almost strange to say that.  Is that what we should want?  As a spiritual blogger, peace activist and someone wanting to help all of humanity live in Peace, Love and Happiness, should I, too, strive to be a major, major player?

MLK 1I know that there are great teachers and wondrous leaders in the world, of course, and I admire and love them and am grateful for all their inspiration and the power of their love.  But Martin Luther King could not do what he did without the nameless guy walking behind him, the nameless son of a nameless mother who feared for his life as he marched.  There were thousands of those nameless someones who marched and stood with Martin Luther King in countless unknown ways.  There were also all the nameless people sitting in their living rooms watching the protests, watching the injustice, feeling horrified as the peaceful protesters were beaten and arrested, simply for asking for equality.  Could the world have changed without those people feeling their hearts touched and crying alone in their homes?  Could we have changed our collective consciousness without any part of the whole?  We were all doing our part and in that way Martin Luther King is no greater than the nameless sons and daughters who marched with him or the nameless fathers and mothers who watched with wrenching hearts on the television set.  Or if he is greater, at least he is not separate from any one of us.

I think that if there is anything that makes a great leader great, that makes someone a “major, major player” in our evolution, it is the ability and the humility to see ourselves in all of humanity, to see ourselves as part of a greater whole and to love that wholeness as our Self.  There is a radical equality in Oneness, and to truly hold the Light for the planet is to remove any subtle judgments or separation, to see the beauty and perfection of “most people”, and to simply LOVE.

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Everything in Moderation, Even Moderation

c71154b62e816f03e6f0a6ccfebe0326Given that it is the beginning of the New Year and the store aisles are featuring weights and scales and exercise videos and the collective consciousness is rife with excessive resolutions about moderation, I thought it would be a good time to contemplate both sides of the spectrum, and the middle of the spectrum, as it were.

The West has the adage “Everything in moderation.”  Buddhists have the Middle Path.  Islam has the path of Enlightened moderation.  In Hinduism there is the balance between Advaita and Dvaita, seeing the world as illusion AND as real, being at once detached and engaged.

It seems that moderation is also the rule of nature.  Temperatures are not too high or too low (Global Warming notwithstanding), animal populations have a balance of death and new life and lions only kill one gazelle at a time.  Inside our bodies this middle path is called homeostasis – even in our bones we have a balance between bone production and bone destruction.

And I do believe that moderation is a good thing – a little bit of potassium is necessary to live, too much can kill you.  It is clear that the excesses of Western Civilization have had devastating effects (killing a lot more than one gazelle at a time) and can lead to catastrophic effects (aforementioned Global Warming).  And physically, one glass of wine in the evening may have health benefits, but 5 or 6 is detrimental not only to the liver but to the quality of one’s life on many levels.

In Religion, moderation is a key to compassion and respect of all human beings and cultures.  Moderation is what keeps us from going to extremes of self-righteousness which leads to fanaticism and the most hideous of extremes – hate in the name of love.

Spiritually, moderation is a very important quality.  Without moderation we can get lost in our relationships, our emotions, our attachments, our attainments, even our suffering.  I have learned the painful lesson that without moderation we can lose our connection to that still small voice and listen to the sometimes louder voice of outer extremes.  A spiritual path without moderation can even be dangerous.

Yet, in contradicting myself again, I also believe it’s not good to practice moderation to the extreme.  We don’t want to be so moderate that we are passion-less.  We don’t want to be so middle of the road that we don’t stand for anything.  We don’t want to be so detached that we don’t care.  We don’t want to be so moderate that we hold back our full self and live a half-hearted life.

There are a few things that should be done fully, completely, 110%, no holds barred, do or die, no limits, go for it like there ain’t no mountain high enough!

Loving God is something I recommend doing to the extreme.  That one I am sure about – don’t hold back for any reason.  I guess some would say you should love God in moderation because you need to also feed your family and pay your bills – but I say Love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might – and do so WHILE feeding your family and paying your bills.   God wants your children to eat.  God loves your children absolutely, so I would even venture to say that loving God in excess will help you feed your family.  If you are doing something in the name of loving God that somehow interferes with your children eating, then it’s not really loving God.  There is absolutely no reason you can’t take care of daily life while loving God with absolute abandon.

thakur_hriday2I guess sometimes you can love God so much that you go into a state of ecstatic rapture and are not able to write checks, but even so, I say go for it.  It only takes a minute to write a check, so then you have hours to reside in ecstatic bliss.  And if you plan on doing this frequently, like Ramakrishna, make sure that you have someone around you to write those checks for you and to put your loin cloth back on if it falls off while you are in a blissful state of oneness with the Lord.

Most of us don’t need to be concerned about not knowing when our loin cloth falls off because we are so busy loving God to the extreme, like Ramakrishna, and if that is a concern, I’d consider that good fortune and not a reason to love God any less.

Loving our neighbors as our Selves is also something I recommend doing whole-heartedly.  I believe as a soul incarnated here, I am to love my neighbor as I love God – unconditionally, completely and without limits.  And just as there are those who say love God in moderation, there are also those who say love others in moderation – you need to also take care of your self.  And yes, this is true.  We do need to not only eat and sleep but also replenish ourselves emotionally and spiritually – and if we don’t, we will not be able to continue giving.  Yet – this moderation does not mean that we need to LOVE any less.

Indeed, this need for moderation in sleep and food is often confused for an excuse to limit loving – but again, loving your neighbor as your Self does not mean that you do not eat or sleep – it simply means you LOVE your fellow human beings with your whole heart and strive to love them as God loves them.  There is absolutely no reason you can’t eat and sleep while loving your neighbor as your Self.

And it is very important to distinguish between this energy of pure love and its distant dysfunctional cousin, co-dependency.  Giving away your Self to a man or a woman or a parent or any other ego identification is NOT love.  And this same co-dependence can even be acted out in a cause – giving your whole self to feeding the hungry, but from a place of guilt or anger or escaping what you don’t want to face in your own life.  So – in the case of co-dependence, moderation IS good.

MotherTeresaHowever, this is not LOVE.  What I am talking about is LOVING thy neighbor as thy Self in the extreme, no limits – like you are loving God.  When feeding the hungry comes from that place, it is far from dysfunctional, it is saintly and Divine.  Co-dependence in human relationships is the opposite of loving your neighbor, just as fanaticism in religion is the opposite of loving God.  Mother Teresa was not a religious fanatic or a co-dependent do-gooder.  Her mind was balanced and her heart was open and flexible, and she loved humanity to the extreme.  She loved humanity as she loved God.  We should all be a little more like her.

Moderation and extremism is a complicated issue.  It is full of paradoxes and contradiction, open-ended questions and infinite possibilities on both ends of the spectrum and in the extreme point in the Middle.  However, if I were to conclude something , it would be this:

Live life to the fullest, but don’t get addicted to dare-devil sports that will kill you cave-diving when you’re 21.  Love God with all your might, love thy neighbor as thy Self  – to the extreme, and do so with a very high level of discernment and balance of mind.  Extreme love also requires extreme consciousness or it can turn into the opposite of love.  Everything in moderation, even moderation.

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Painting by Jim Thompson at www.art-mind-soul.com

Loving Your Soul Purpose

Two hikers enjoying sunrise from top of a mountainNew Year’s Eve is as good a time as any to contemplate one’s soul purpose.

What is it I am meant to do in life?  What is the purpose of my life?  What does my soul want to do here?  What am I here to accomplish?  Why did I incarnate?  What is my destiny?

In contemplating these things I give you two hints.

The first hint is:  LOVING YOUR SOUL PURPOSE.

When you are doing what it is your SOUL wants to do, you will feel LOVE.  So, what is it you love to do?

And I don’t mean what is pleasurable? I’m not talking about “I love to eat chocolate” or “I love to unwind with my favorite mindless TV show” (although either is OK in moderation). Soul purpose is not about hedonism, selfishness or escapism.  I don’t mean what is it you love to do to relax and unwind?

By loving your soul purpose, what I mean is – what is it that makes you feel alive? What are you passionate about? What inspires you and excites you?  What is it that you walk around thinking about as you go to your car in the parking lot?  What is it you are thinking about when you are brushing your teeth or first thing when you wake up?

Enjoying the sunWhat is it that gets you in the zone?  You know, the zone.  That space beyond every day life where you feel like the whole universe is in alignment like some cosmic chiropractic adjustment just clicked and everything feels RIGHT.

What is it that when you are engaged in it, you are totally absorbed and hours go by in minutes? What gets you to stop thinking and start just being? What brings you fully present into the moment?

You see, when you are doing something that your soul wants to do, your soul is fully participating, fully engaged and present in your body and it feels blissful. It feels like love.

Sometimes it’s obvious what your soul purpose is or what it is you love to do. But sometimes it’s not so obvious.

And soul purpose is not about success or money. It’s not always something that you can turn into a career or make a living – maybe it’s the volunteer work you do or the hobby you have. Maybe it’s the spontaneous help and support you give to your family and friends. And what’s more, it can be a combination of these things – it’s not always ONE thing.

And your soul purpose can be small and simple things. It’s not always some big cause that you can easily turn into some Norma Rae moment of standing on top of factory equipment holding up a sign saying “This is my soul purpose!” It can be something tiny that only those closest to you notice but it makes all the difference in the world to them and to you.

So, as we go into New Year’s Eve and into this New Year of 2015, you can meditate on what this might be for you. You can have a prayerful conversation between you and God and your soul. You can journal and free flow what is most important to you. You can make a list of what inspires you. Or if you are not verbally inclined you can collect images or pictures of what matters most to you.

And don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. It could very well be that you already know what your soul purpose is and if that is the case, just take some time to contemplate it and envision how your purpose will unfold in the coming year.

And now, before you go off and contemplate too much, it is time for the second hint.

The second hint is: LOVING, YOUR SOUL PURPOSE.

hands-holding-candleYes. While the activities and tasks that you have just read about, the things that you love to do, are perhaps what your soul is guiding you to do at any one moment – the actual PURPOSE is not the activity. These are simply ways for your soul to express its purpose.

The actual purpose of any soul is LOVING. I guess that is a bit more than a hint.

Our purpose is to Love.  I would pretty much venture to say that is everyone’s soul purpose, really, if you really get down to it – to Love, to love God, to love our neighbor, to love ourselves, to love those around us, to love those in need, to love the Earth, to love.

As I have recently started writing again and I am sharing my inner spirit in words with the outer world, I have been feeling that this is, in part, my “purpose” – to write.  And it is something I love to do and it is something that I feel alive when I am doing.  When I am writing I can spend hours and it feels like minutes and when I leave I feel energized and inspired.

Yet, something that I have known in my heart for a while is that a soul purpose is bigger than just this life or this body. Writing is only an instrument for me to express my purpose.  And there are other expressions of that purpose as well.  Our soul purpose is much bigger than can be contained in any one task or activity.

So, even though I could say that writing is my purpose, I could just as easily say that my purpose is rubbing Peachy‘s belly.  When she is laying on my chest with her four feet flailing up in the air and I am loving her more than I can contain and rubbing her soft little puppy belly – that is me expressing love in the purest form I know.  So – that is my soul purpose.

If you looked at the whole thing energetically it’s like we’d just be little radiating suns sending light beams of Love out to all of life around us.  But we don’t look quite so silly.  We look like people with jobs and families and homes, so we express those light beams of Love in different ways – but essentially, that is what is going on. We are souls here loving.

Some people express Love in the form of inventing the light bulb or engineering a great bridge or composing a spectacular symphony.  Some people express Love in the form of being a really great boss or a very caring grandparent.

You see – a Soul having a purpose can’t be limited to what the circumstances of this particular life have turned out to be.

I am NOT a writer and you are NOT a singer. Suppose tomorrow my fingers fall off and your vocal cords dissolve and we can no longer write or sing. Would our soul purpose cease?

water-blue-sea-wavesWhat if a person feels that their soul purpose is to be a surfer – to merge with the ocean and the wave.  But then that person has a car accident or gets hit by a meteor and somehow they no longer have the physical ability to surf. That soul is still here and that soul still has a purpose.  So, perhaps that soul was expressing Love in the form of surfing and merging with the ocean and the wave up until that point. Now that soul will find a different way of expressing.  Perhaps that person will find that feeling of being One with the ocean and the wave inside themselves beyond the surfboard and then express their love for life around them by teaching about the Oneness that is inside all of us, regardless of our outer physicality.

If I attach so much importance to writing that I think it is WHO I am and it is what my soul is here to do, then what happens to me if my fingers fall off (and I lived in a world where voice recognition software didn’t exist)? And the last 16 years of my life that I spent NOT writing (or NOT petting Peachy‘s belly) were not some wasteland of meaninglessness and despair because I had not found my soul purpose yet.  I was expressing my purpose of loving in different ways.

In deed, we express our purpose of loving all along the way from the time we are infants until we are old and wrinkled. We express our purpose of loving in small ways all the time – so in a sense we don’t need to worry so much about FINDING our soul purpose or we will waste our lives in some kind of rat race. All the moments of love IN the rat race ARE our soul purpose, too.  You HAVE been living your soul purpose all along in lots of weird and wonderful ways.  Your soul is smart.  It’s not going to waste time.  It will express love in small and big ways no matter what.

Yes, it is good to find the things that you love to do, that you are passionate about and that make you feel fully alive. It is good to listen to your soul and follow what it is your soul is guiding you towards, to find the activities that your soul is most aligned with at this point in time. Doing that will help you to express your soul purpose in the fullest. Doing that will help you expand your purpose of Loving, it will help the Love to fill you on the deepest level and for you to express your love in the most important way you can.

However – life circumstances, opportunities and abilities change.  And to truly find one’s soul purpose, one has to focus on the Soul – that which does not change, that which is eternal and permanent:

LOVING, your soul purpose.

living-life-300x225

 

Caroling with the Gandharvas

my-photos-food-fashion-photographyDid you know that it’s not just Love, Peace and Compassion that is common among different religions?

There are many descriptions of God, Holy Beings and the Heavenly Realm that are strikingly similar across faiths – the feeling and experience is the same, only the words are different.  One such experience is the Gandharvas, as they are known in Hinduism and Buddhism.

The Gandharvas are heavenly beings who sing for the Gods.  In the Abrahamic religions these Angelic beings are called the Heavenly Host.  They are beings whose sole purpose is to sing honor and glory to God, who spend their entire eternal existence singing praises to the Divine.  I guess I shouldn’t say their sole purpose is singing – for in their singing they uplift, heal and glorify all of life.  In their singing, magic and mystery happens and I’m sure their one purpose of singing contains a multitude of purposes that I cannot even fathom.  But what I do know from experience is that they adore God and in their singing praises they magnify the Divine for the entire universe.  So, that is no small sole purpose.

AAAADH3MBXQAAAAAALGByAOne of the amazing and interesting facts about the Gandharvas (if you can call a trait of a heavenly being a fact), is that they love praising God so much that they are drawn to anywhere such praise is happening.  Wherever people gather to sing gratitude and love for the Divine, they gather also.  Loving God in song is like a magnet for the Heavenly Host – our voices lifted up to the Lord and our hearts loving God in unison pulls them straight to us.  This is one of the many reasons why I love going to church, or to chanting circles, or to Krishna Das concerts, and why this time of year I love to attend Christmas Caroling.

Last night I attended St Cyprian’s Carols and Lessons service.  Our sweet choir, joined by some extra singers from the Community choir, sang some beautiful versions of ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘O Holy Night.’  The packed standing-room-only congregation joined them in singing ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel’ and ‘Angels we have heard on high.’  And as those Angels heard US, they flocked to the tiny church, as well.  (It made me wonder if THEY have any songs called ‘Humans we have heard on low.’)  Luckily, they don’t need chairs or even standing room, or the hundred-year-old wooden walls of the church would have burst.  I could feel them bringing their Angelic presence and their pure love for God to our gathering, adding the vibration of adoration to all of us as we sang.  During the Ave Maria, I closed my eyes and could feel my consciousness being lifted up effortlessly, almost as if I was on an elevator bringing us closer to God.  All I had to do was sing and open my heart.

jtciLast year I attended the Vero Beach Community Church Christmas Eve service.  The Vero Beach Community Church has a choir of at least 80 people and a grand organ that covers the whole front wall with a beautiful stained glass of Jesus with open arms in the middle.  In addition they have a children’s choir and as if that is not enough, they have an orchestra.  The large church has several services on Christmas Eve and all of them are packed.  As I stood as one of a thousand audience members, singing the carols with this human chorus of voices, I could feel the Angelic chorus of Gandharvas and Heavenly Host joining us in tier upon tier above us and all around us.  These magnificent beings joined us in singing glory to God and victory to Compassion and Peace in the victory of Christ, Alleluia!  My heart was filled with ecstatic joy as I felt this vibration of adoration and GOD not only filling my heart and every heart in the room, but radiating out for miles, lifting up the entire world into the victory of LOVE.

So, if you want to, over the next week or so, if you attend any holiday gatherings with people putting their love for God into song, tune into the other beings joining you.  Whether you consciously tune in or not, whether you can feel the angels singing with you or not, their vibration of love will lift you.  And if you choose, you can consciously join with the Heavenly Host or the Gandharvas in their purpose of lifting up the entire universe into the adoration of God.  It is not only a service to the world, it is fun.


 

To learn more about the Ghandarvas, check out The Ghandarva Experience from Tom Kenyon – it has an introduction with information followed by some truly beautiful and angelic music.  This is a CD that is meant to be experienced and used as a spiritual practice and it is very beautiful.

More Tom Kenyon

Love is a Wave and the Ocean

ocean-wave_157798“Loving another person is not separate from loving God. One is a single wave, the other is the ocean” ~ Deepak Chopra

I read this quote the other day and it struck me as very true.  Not only that, but it applies to loving people with four furry paws, too.

Yes, my Peachy is a person.  She is my person.  And loving her brings not only joy but also healing and a deeper connection to life and to God.

I wrote about how Peachy Keen is a force of Love in the world – a Light Warrior.  And I wrote about how Peachy is also a teacher of living life to the fullest.  But this post is about my own internal meditations of love inspired by my little furry friend.

Every day and throughout the day, my heart focuses on Love.  My heart, as the center of my being, resonates with the vibration of Love every time I look at Peachy.  I internally meditate on Love every time I even think of Peachy, even as I sit at my desk at work.  I also sit anIMG_0427d close my eyes or gaze upon a picture on my altar in more “formal” meditation and I can absolutely feel how much more easily I can slip into a focus of loving God from all the time I have spent in my day loving Peachy.

You see, love is love.  Love is love is love is God is love.

Just as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, if you are putting love into what you are doing, then you are in essence focusing on God – God is Love, so focusing on Love is focusing on God.  The same is true for any form of love.

If I am loving Peachy, my heart is vibrating in a state of love.  If I am loving Peachy, my heart and my body are in a state of positive resonance and I am moving in the direction of healing.  If I am loving Peachy, my heart is open and I am open to receive love from life all around me and from God.  If I am loving Peachy, I am lifting my consciousness up into the feeling of Love and that feeling of Love connects me directly to God.

loving-kidsA sweet friend of mine, who is leaving tomorrow to see his guru for the first time in 11 years, said last night that it doesn’t feel like it’s been 11 years because he has had his two sons and the love he feels for them is the same as the love he has for his guru, the love he has for God.  My heart was really touched as he spoke this, because I could feel that continuum of love that is the wave and the ocean of God.

In fact, this is precisely why God sent us gurus and saints and little baby Jesus.  I suspect this is also why God gave us cute little puppies.

Sometimes it is too far of a stretch for us to love GOD.  The ocean of God is so vast, how do we connect?  I am a drop of water, how do I love the ocean?  How can we know how to love something so perfect and mysterious?  How can our little hearts love something bigger than the universe?  So, God gave us Her waves to love.  The waves are not as vast, but just as beautiful, and the waves are something our hearts can open up to embrace.

Years ago I heard an explanation of the Christ Consciousness that pertains simply to consciousness, not to one religion or another.  I don’t even remember where I heard this explanation but it stuck with me.  You see, the “fall of man” wasn’t really about evil or us doing something terrible, it was just a fall into separation.  It’s just that we lost touch with our Divine Selves, we forgot about our oneness with God and were in a sense “lost” (though if God is holding us at all times we can’t ever really be lost, but we can feel like we are lost).

Jesu KrishnaFrom this state of forgetfulness, it was too large a leap for us to get connected to God again.  God Consciousness is PERFECT.  Everything is perfect in God Consciousness and there IS no separation, there IS no suffering, there IS no pain – so how can we get out of the suffering that feels so real to us and go directly to the perfection of God?  So, God created Christ Consciousness as a bridge.  The Christ Consciousness is One with the perfection and the absolute Love of God, but is also connected to the apparent suffering of humanity and reaches out to us in our state of forgetfulness with compassion.  The Christ Consciousness is a form of God’s Love that we could see and accept and open up to in our state of fallen consciousness.  And once we are open to the Love, the Christ can lift us back again into our connection with the perfection of God.

It is the birth of this Christ Consciousness that I contemplate and celebrate every year at Christmas.  For God so loved the world, that She gave us the Christ Consciousness in the form of Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed, Buddha, Quan Yin, Rama and yes, cute little puppies.  It is this connection to God’s Love that I see every time Peachy wags her little tail at me. It is this love of God and guru that my friend has seen every time he has looked at his sons for the last 11 years. It is the love of God that we experience whenever we love our neighbor as our Self.

20141209_215756_HDRThe feeling I have in my heart when I love God is the same feeling I have when I love my sisters or my Peachy and the love flows seamlessly back and forth in either direction.  When I look at Peachy with her furry little 7 pound body that breathes and beats and runs around with her nimble little jazz paws, I am struck by what a miracle she is.  Her sweet puppy eyes that look at me with that puppy love soul opens me up inside.  Feeling my love for Peachy flows right into feeling my love for God.  Feeling Peachy’s love for me reminds me of God’s love for me.  I feel like God created her as a gift personally for me, God’s love manifest as a cuddly little wave in the ocean just for my tiny soul.

Sometimes it is easier to love a single wave than to love the whole ocean.  Yet the wave is not separate from the ocean, and the entire ocean is loving us in each wave.

Jai Ram He Shall Reign Forever Alleluia

angelic-hostThe other day I was listening to Handel’s Messiah Alleluia chorus while driving back to work from the dentist.  It was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir – the men and women alternating singing the words “And He shall reign forever and ever.  Alleluia, Alleluia.  Lord of Lords!  King of Kings!  Alleluia, Alleluia!”

I had it on repeat and the drive from dentist to work afforded me the opportunity to sing along 3 and 1/2 times. I was not only singing, but fully participating with the truth of the words.  I had it blaring, full volume.  I mean, I was rocking out like it was Springsteen or Bon Jovi – windows down, sun shining, wind through my hair, singing at the top of my lungs and waving my one hand in the air, reaching up to heaven (other hand on the steering wheel).

Here it is – but before you click play just be sure you are in a private place where you can sing and wave your arms about (at least one of them).

As I was singing the awe-inspiring and somewhat repetitive chorus it struck me that it IS a repetitive declaration of God’s victory.  I realized that singing Handel’s Messiah is much like chanting “Sri Ram Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram.”  That is sanskrit for “Glory to God, Victory to God, Victory to God”  It is sanskrit for “And He shall reign forever and ever, Alleluia! Alleluia!”

Dipawali-Special-1And, much like when I chant Jai Ram, as I was singing “And He shall reign forever and ever, Alleluia” over and over again I could feel my heart’s deepest yearning and prayer for God to be victorious in our world, for God’s Love and Peace to reign in our day-to-day world forever and ever, for God’s compassion and justice to be the common place way of everyday business.

In those 15 and 3/4 minutes as I was driving back to work, I felt the place in my heart that deeply knows that God’s Love and God’s Will are one and the same – that all He wants for us is for all of us to live here in harmony and happiness as one human family.  As the song says, “the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ!”  Each time I repeated the same phrase, the feeling of God’s victory grew stronger in my chest.

0b5cd4918a1a1c24d4d92646037d2fb9And just as when I chant the Sri Ram Jai Ram, I could feel that yearning and chanting for God to be victorious happening inside of me.  They say that changing the world starts with changing yourself, and the same is true for chanting.  As I was repeating the phrase “And He shall reign forever and ever” I was praying fervently for Christ to reign inside my own self.  I was yearning with all the burning desire of my soul for God to be victorious in me – for God to be victorious in my life, in my thoughts and in my actions, for my heart to be an instrument for God’s victory in the world.

As I parked my car outside of my office building, I rolled the windows up, turned the engine off, wiped the tears from my cheeks, took a deep breath, thanked God for the rogue renunciation of my every day life and went into work with God’s victory ringing inside of me.

So, in this season and all seasons, whether we are singing ‘Alleluia,’ ‘Jai Ram,’ ‘We Shall Overcome’ or ‘Let There Be Peace On Earth and let it start with me,’ we are all singing the one song of Victory to God.

Merry Christmas, Jai Ram, He shall reign forever and ever, Alleluia!

5 Stitches to the Inch and Love Every One

beautiful-tropical-sailboatMy brother in-law’s mother, Nanny Annie, is over from England for Christmas. In my one sister’s kitchen she is cutting my other sister’s hair and talking about how her husband is excellent at sewing (contrary to general gender stereotypes). He used to sew sails for sailboats for a living. When he was an apprentice, the master sail-maker used to say to all the young lads, “5 stitches to the inch and love every one.”

The old master sail-maker was tuned into the same thing that Mother Teresa was when she said “It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in that action.”  This same inner wisdom has been taught by bakers, chefs, artists, carpenters, landscapers, pediatricians, veterinarians and milliners.  Masters of all trades have taught their apprentices to put love into their craft for hundreds of years.

Love is the magic ingredient that makes whatever we are doing a part of a better world.  If we put love into every stitch, that love is anchored in that sail and that love moves that sailboat and that love travels out across the world on the wind.  And, it gives the young apprentice sail-maker a meditation of love to focus on inside his own mind and heart as he sews for hours every day.  It transforms the young sail-maker into a more loving human being, a kinder husband and father, a better neighbor and a more compassionate citizen of the world.

gorgeous-good-color-small1This is how putting love into sewing sails, baking cakes, building houses, planting trees and making hats is transforming the world.

In the East this is taught as Karma Yoga.  In the Bhagavad Gita, Karma Yoga is described as the path of Action – the path of putting your love for God into everything you do.  Whether you are sewing sails or cooking dinner, typing up a report at work, mailing a package to a friend for Christmas or cleaning your bathroom – putting love into it is a way to make it a meditation, a Yoga, a method of gaining Union with the Divine.

This can be consciously done as Karma Yoga by focusing on our love for God and offering all our actions to the Divine.  Or it can be done simply by putting Love into what we do, sewing a sail as a meditation on Love, and God is Love, so it’s still a meditation on God.  See how God pulled another tricky move there.

Not only does putting love into everything we do make the world a better place, but it also makes us happier.  The love we feel in our hearts becomes the reward of our labor and the stuff of our life.  We begin to live here a little more as our souls – as the love we are focusing upon.  And if we don’t win the cake bake-off or the hat best-in-show, we don’t take it so hard because we still won the love in our hearts – and that we get to keep forever.

Amma 11On the one day I spent at Amma’s ashram in San Ramon, one of her students read a satsang he had written about karma yoga.  He talked about how doing everything with love for God transforms us and offering everything to God frees us from our ego attachments.  He said, if we offer everything to God, then our success is God’s Grace and our failure is God’s Will.  So we don’t let our successes inflate our ego identification and separate us from the love of unity, and we don’t let our failures deflate our ego self-worth and separate us from the love of unity.

I quoted that satsang once in a Christian Bible study class at a fairly conservative church, not giving credit to Amma or the Bhagavad Gita.  Everyone thought my stealth Karma Yoga reference was beautiful and inspiring and everyone agreed.  It is the universal truth that transcends not only religions but trades and crafts and professions.

So whether you’re a Christian or a Hindu, a musician or janitor, an engineer or a sail-maker – to increase your happiness, reduce your ego suffering and make the world a better place, just remember what Ammachi, Mother Teresa and the old master sail-maker said to his apprentice: “5 stitches to the inch, and love every one.”

Rainbow Regatta by Lisa Lorenz

Rainbow Regatta by Lisa Lorenz

The Essence of Merry Christmas and Goodwill to ALL

Christmas-Card-at-www.best-christmas.net_1In this time of Christmas I am thinking a lot about Christ.  Of course, I tend to think about Christ a lot anyways, but what I mean is that I’m thinking a lot about how Christ’s love applies to all of humanity.  I briefly wrote in my post about Christmas Carols how I believe that the Christ Consciousness of love, compassion and miracles that Jesus embodied and taught is not limited to Jesus the man or even to Christianity. So, that is the part of Christ I’ve been thinking about specifically.  And in this season of warmth, cheer and giving, of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All, I so long for everyone to be open to receive LOVE in all its myriad and beautiful forms.

I’d say all in all, Christmas and the holidays brings out the best in us – our charity, compassion and generosity – but inevitably some humans will find something to fuss about. So this is also the time of year for arguments about religion, whether it is more right to say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” and the supposed War on Christmas.  (I don’t think Christmas qualifies as an oppressed minority when every store, town center and neighborhood is decked out in massive amounts of Christmas lights and our whole socioeconomic consumer establishment gears up for the holiday with everything from sales to TV programming to “get it there by the 25th” shipping specials.)

And it’s from both sides of the spectrum.  There are the Christians who get outraged if the people greeting you at Macy’s say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” and insist that Santa is Satan and we should just focus on Jesus.  And there are the atheists who insist that celebrating Christmas is against the constitution and Santa cannot be scientifically proven so he has no place in schools.

jesus-vs-santa-armwrestleMy sister is a really good photographer.  For her daughter’s school last year she took pictures of the kids with Santa as they entered into the annual Holiday fundraiser and nearly all the children participated and she helped raise valuable funds for their education.  This year someone made a big fuss about how Santa is not what Christmas is about and Santa shouldn’t be allowed in the main hall because Santa violated their religious rights.  So my sister and the kindly volunteer Santa Claus were relegated to some distant classroom away from the main event and raised one third of the money they did last year.  And it’s silly.  Why waste an opportunity for happiness and charity?  What is more religious about that?

I really don’t think it matters if you say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas – what matters is simply the amount of love you say it with.  And it’s silly for anyone to get offended when given a greeting of love simply because some word doesn’t fit into your own personal list of preferred words.  If someone were to smile and give me a sweet seasonal greeting I wouldn’t care if they wished me a Happy Hanukkah, a Joyous Kwanza, a Sweet Solstice, a Merry Christmas or just the generic humanistic Have a Good Day.  As long as we are spreading more love in the world – all the better.

christmasYou see, the Consciousness of love, peace and compassion that is in all the Christmas Carols and Santa movies is the same underlying consciousness that has been at the heart of humanity since before any of the religions were even dreamed up.  And really, if you just let go of the words and what your mind thinks about them and instead just focus on the feeling or the Presence behind the words, then we’ll realize that we’re all talking about the same Presence.  A few days ago I wrote about how sometimes religious words can be associated with religious divisiveness and how we need to reprogram our subconscious minds to get beyond words and into the feeling self.  I know this was true for me and my own associations with the words of the Christian language.

In my teens and early twenties I rejected Christianity.  I saw a lot of bickering, prejudice and narrow-mindedness in the churches that were around me growing up and it didn’t feel right to me, so I closed myself off to that part of God.  Sure, I found Eastern religions, meditation, bhakti yoga and many ways to connect with God, but I was limiting how God could love me.  I was saying to God – no, I don’t want your love in the form of the Christ, I don’t want your love through Jesus or even from Christians – I only want your love through sanskrit chants and Tibetan mantras.

Then one day 16 years ago, my sister was visiting me in Asheville for the weekend.  We went to the Biltmore House (talk about a photographer’s dream – she must have taken 100 pictures in the gardens alone).  Afterwards we went to Biltmore Village, a collection of quaint shops outside of the estate surrounding the church the Vanderbilts built.  The church was really beautiful and reminded us of churches in Sweden.  The docent told us the music was really good and that the organ is one of the finest on the east coast, so my sister said she’d really like to go the next morning.

I would have never thought to go to a Christian church on my own.  But since my sister wanted to go, I said ok.  Who doesn’t like some nice music?  So, on Sunday morning I went to church for the first time in a very long time.

all souls churchThe church in the Biltmore village is Episcopalian (incidentally called “All Souls Cathedral”) and so the service was traditional with the reading of the bible and the singing of hymns.  I was standing in the pew with the hymnal in my hands singing and I started reading the actual meaning of the words of the hymn.  I can’t remember which hymn it was specifically, but it was about the Light of the Holy Spirit coming down and entering into our hearts like a flame – it was about us making room to have the Christ Light dwell in our hearts forever.

I was amazed.  I was astounded.  My heart started expanding and breaking.  This was real.  I had experienced this very thing in meditation.  I had felt the Light of God coming down and entering into my heart like a flame.  For years I had been working to make room in my heart for God’s Light to dwell there forever.  Whatever old monk or Christian musician who had written this hymn hundreds of years ago had the same experiences that I was having as I was chanting the sanskrit names of God and meditating on the compassion of the Buddha!

I wanted to shout out to everyone in the church who were all calmly singing these words – “This is real!  Oh my God!  Christ and the Holy Spirit are real!”  Instead I just let my heart flow over and tears rolled down my cheeks as I could feel Christ and the Holy Spirit coming down and filling my heart.  It was something I had felt before, I just had used different words.  But here I was in a Christian church, singing a Christian hymn about the truth of God.

After that Sunday I started going to this sweet Episcopal church every Sunday.  Not only that, I went to the Tuesday morning services as well.  I went to every service they had, tears flowing from my heart every time.  I found so many truths about God in the words of the hymns, the psalms and the readings.  I found so much inspiration for my spiritual journey in the sermons.  And watching so many people going up for communionmomma3 to become One with the Body of Christ made my heart burn in my chest with exquisite beauty.

And the people there were so loving and accepting.  They had an openly gay deacon who was a major supporter of the local gay and lesbian community.  The pastors were open to all religions and could talk to me about books by Sogyal Rinpoche, the Dalai Lama and Shakti Gawain.  I had a nose ring and tattoos and I thought the congregation would judge me – but one Tuesday morning after the healing service a sweet Southern white haired lady asked me what the tattoo on my left arm meant and I told her “It’s the Hindu chant Om Namaha Shivaya – it means the God Presence in me honors the God Presence in you.”  She nodded and said, “That’s right on!  And that’s real pretty.”

I realized that I had been the one who was prejudiced.  In all my New Age spiritual focus on loving the world, I had been holding on to all kinds of judgments and attitudes, thinking that there should be respect for all religions, but those Christians just didn’t get it.  Yet God was loving the world through Christ and the Holy Spirit for hundreds and hundreds of years but I dismissed it all.  Wow – I was the one who wasn’t getting it.

But now I AM getting it!  I’m getting God’s love every which way!  I am not limiting how God can love me.  I am not limiting God to the shape of my own mind.  If God wants to love me through Hare Krishna or Alleluia or As-salamu alaykum or Merry Christmas, I say YES!

No matter what your personal beliefs are, why not just receive the love?  Why be all bah-humbug because the person giving you the love says either “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas,” depending on what side of the bah-humbug you fall on.

If someone says “Ola” or “Bonjour” or “Guten Tag” – why get upset if it’s not your particular language.  Just smile and say hello back.  Whether you personally prefer Merry Christmas or Hare Krishna, in essence it means the same thing. So, allow LOVE to enter your heart through baby Jesus, jolly old Santa,the star of Bethlehem, the star of David, the Angels on High, Frosty the Snowman, the generic Holiday Party at work or the all-female living nativity scene featuring the Three Wise Women!

There are no limits to the ways that God can love us if we just say Yes.  Just let go of the mental arguments and Believe in Love, Peace on Earth and Goodwill to ALL!

dove-christmas-decoration-peace-on-earth_140479322355

The Implementation of Dumb Ideas

RENUZIT-500x247In this week’s silly post I’d like to talk about an ad currently running on Hulu for a brand of air-fresheners.  Aside from the fact that air-fresheners contain numerous toxic chemicals that can cause everything from reduced sperm counts to cancer, the ad is really stupid.  It has hunky men carrying air-fresheners in slo-mo, winking at the camera seductively from each room of a house – one in the kitchen, another in the living room and yet another sexy young thing in the bedroom.  The ad goes on to say that while having a different man in every room might be a fantasy, you can in fact have a different toxic scent in each room.

First of all, what woman fantasizes about having a man in every room?  That sounds terrible.  Second of all, the campaign is so ridiculous it makes me want to NOT buy that air freshener, even if I wanted to poison myself with benzene, formaldehyde, styrene, and phthalates. 

1075545_562888983757997_1303988084_oThe thing that gets me about really really bad advertising is that there are so many people involved in the process of actually getting it on TV.  First there are a number of people at the ad agency who come up with the bad idea, then their creative team does a pitch to a company, then the company sends the proposal up the chain of command and who knows how many people sign off on the concept and budget.  Then there are graphic artists, writers, producers, casting agents, actors, make up artists, cameramen, boom mic operators and even key grips, whatever the heck they do.  It must be at least 100 people who take part in producing a really really bad ad.  And nowhere along the line did someone say – STOP.

The same is true for some of the reality TV programming of today.  There are food shows about deep-fried-mac-n-cheese-hamburger-loaf. There are married couples flipping houses and arguing over every remodeling decision along the way.  There are housewives arguing in virtually every metropolitan area of the United States.  There are naked people who are either afraid or shopping or dating, or a combination of all of the above – of course arguing more or less the whole time. There are even horrific things like a man being eaten alive by a snake in some kind of snake-digestive-juice-resistant suit.

In all of these TV shows there are countless people who never say – wait, this is dumb, let’s not do this.

Thirteen Reality 2This ad for an apparently intelligent TV station is actually quite funny and points to the state of our TV entertainment.  I know there are quite a few really good shows out there, also.  There has even been some God centered shows that come and go, like ‘Joan of Arcadia,’ ‘Eli Stone.’ or the awesome good kicks evil’s butt ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’  But sometimes I look at some of the truly dumb ideas that actually manifest themselves as ads and TV shows and I wonder.

I guess it’s kind of like other really dumb ideas, like segregation or women not having the right to vote.  For a long time, they were just accepted and all the boom mic operators and key grips of life didn’t feel it was their place to say anything even if they thought it was a terrible idea.  It took people like Martin Luther King and Susan susan-b-anthony-quote1-300x200B. Anthony to speak up and say – STOP!  Then enough people joined them and said – yeah, I think it’s really dumb, too.  And then the Civil Rights Act and 19th Amendment could happen.

So, I guess, if the awful toxic air-freshener ad has any merit, it is to remind us to speak up against dumb ideas!  Why is racism and sexism still showing up in so many ways in our ads and TV programming and everywhere else in our society?  Why should gay or lesbian human beings have any less rights than any other human being?  How could such a bad idea still even be a thing?  Let’s just stop implementing all these dumb ideas.


hrc-logoPlease consider supporting the Human Rights Campaign – to speak up for equal rights for the LGBT community.

Or support any of the fine organizations listed on the Get Involved page who are working towards ending dumb ideas.

Don’t Think Green OR the Secret to Immortality

RadiallyDon’t think green.

Did it work?  Or did your mind immediately flash on the color green even though you specifically told it not to?

The thing is, it flashed on green specifically because you told it not to.  It’s not being rebellious.  Your mind is not being a teenager or a terrible two.  It would have also flashed on green if you had asked it very nicely, “Please think green.”

The subconscious mind does not understand negatives.  It only hears whatever it is the words ARE – i.e. green.  That is why, if you’re trying to calm yourself down saying “Don’t be afraid, don’t freak out,” your subconscious hears “be afraid, freak out.”  That is why in those situations it’s better to use positive language, such as “Just relax, breathe.”  Can you feel how much more effective that is?  Even reading the words feels more relaxing.

It’s kind of like the ads I put on my blog a few weeks ago.  There is a computer program that is designed to automatically detect reoccurring words and place ads that are similar to the content of the blog, so that the ads might be of interest to the people reading the blog.  Makes sense.  However, it’s kind of like the subconscious mind.  Somewhere there is a computer brain that is processing the words but not understanding negatives, satire or even unity.  I noticed once I posted about how engagement rings are a scam, ads for brilliant-earth-antiquediamond rings started popping up.  That is ok, they are for some earth friendly jewelry company, not the evil De Beers, and at least they have pretty pictures.  But even worse, when I first put the ads on, the program started picking up on all the references to Jesus, Christianity and Islam and there were all these ads about converting to one religion or another and about how this prophet or that savior is the only way.  This is the exact opposite of what I stand for and what I write about!  So, I had to go in and block those ads, in a sense reprogramming the subconscious computer brain to not associate religious words with religious division.

This is what we need to do with our own minds.  It is, however, a little more tricky.  It’s not as easy as just clicking on the “block” button.  But this is where we train ourselves to focus on what we DO want, instead of what we DON’T want.  I.e. – if wanting to manifest a new job, make a list of characteristics you want in the job, like ‘flexible hours, good benefits, at least X/hour’ etc.  If you make a list of what you don’t want, like ‘no jerk for a boss, no crappy pay, no awful hours’ then you’re more likely to get a job with at least some of those crappy characteristics.

This is the basis of such personal development systems as Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), Est and the Forum.  Big name self-help guru Tony Robbins uses elements of NLP in his success seminars and the practice of affirmations and positive thinking have seeped into our popular culture.  And there is something to be said for being conscious of how we use our words and what it points to in our subconscious mind.  However, there is more to it than just words.

NLP-BubblesIn general, I believe that everything should be done in moderation, even moderation.  And NLP can get a little extreme at times.  I’ve had friends get so into it that they tried to eradicate ALL “negative” words from their speech.  They would twist and turn and speak in all kinds of round about ways simply to avoid saying the word “not.”  Back in my Asheville days I worked at a massage school and one day when I answered the phone, it was one of the assistant instructors essentially calling in sick – but instead of saying he wasn’t feeling well and he would not be coming in to work he said “I am in the process of healing and I am choosing other than to come to work today.”  That’s just silly.

The most important thing to remember when dealing with positive language, NLP or affirmations is that the only reason we are using words at all is to relate to the FEELING we have inside.  It is the FEELING of our hearts that creates our reality – that creates us being happy or sad or confident or insecure or scared or relaxed.  The words themselves don’t mean anything without the feeling behind them.  You can use all the positive words you want but if you still feel negative and grumpy inside, you won’t create a positive outcome. Anyone who has written affirmations on the mirror to no avail knows that.

I saw this Gregg Braden video (which I have on my Meditation and World Peace page) where he talked about a friend that had all these post-it notes all over his house saying “I am attracting a wonderful loving woman into my life” and the like.  He asked his friend if he was really attracting a wonderful woman and his friend immediately responded “Of course not, no wonderful woman would want to be with me.”  So, even though he had all the words plastered all over his house and even in his car, his underlying feeling about himself had not changed.

In fact, this is how affirmations can misfire.  People think that simply by putting up post-it’s they can change, but what they don’t realize is sometimes those post-it’s just get the subconscious mind to sass-mouth the post-it and it aggravates the negative feeling even more.  Every time that guy looks at his post-it’s about a wonderful woman, instead of it ee85e279ff1a413cf53822c0804ac0c9having the intended effect, his subconscious mind says “are you kidding? she would never be with someone like you,” magnifying his negative subconscious feelings and working against him.  Instead of using post-it’s with words on them, it is much more useful have post-it’s reminding you to sit for a few minutes and focus on the FEELING you want to create.  Instead of calling in and saying you are choosing other than to come into work today, just call in sick like a normal person and then spend some time resting in bed focusing on the feeling of being healthy.

Before we get too nit-picky about what words we use and run around yelling “cancel clear!” every time we say a negative word, as if it’s a cosmic delete button to ward off accidental manifestations of “not,” just breath and remember it’s more about the state of our feeling self.  Our manifestation consciousness is not so much centered in our verbal mind, it is centered in our feeling heart.

Now, here is where we get to the Secret of Immortality.  I know you’ve been waiting for that.

The Tom Robbins book ‘Jitterbug Perfume’ is about all manner of people searching for the Secret to Immortality.  Some people believe it is in some extraordinary combination of scents to be found in a blue perfume bottle embossed with the image of a goat-horned god.  There are others in the book, however, that believe the Secret to Immortality lies in completely eradicating any and all words or idioms involving death or dying in our language.  These people believe that every time we say “I was scared to death” or “that is so funny it just kills me” that we are creating our own eventual demise.  They are part of a society that is aiming to neuro-linguistically re-program our biology from death itself.

Back to Godhead - Volume 12, Number 10 - 1977

Journey of the Soul through life, death and reincarnation.

However, I posit that the Secret to Immortality is not in NLP or ‘never say die,’ it is in FEELING that you are an eternal soul.  Immortality is not only saying the words “I am a soul” or even believing that you are a soul who will live forever.  Those are important steps.  Immortality is in feeling that you are an eternal soul.  It is about internally identifying as a soul and experiencing your every day life with that knowingness as the ground of your being.  Immortality is in even your subconscious mind knowing and accepting that your consciousness is timeless.

As an example, if someone were to ask me, ‘have you ever been to Peru?,’  I would think – not with this body in this lifetime, but I’m sure I’ve been there at some point.  The “I” is my soul.  Of course, I’m not obnoxious and I simply reply like a normal person, answering the question in the way it was intended – ‘No, I have not been to Peru.’  The person wasn’t asking for a treatise on immortality and past life remembrances.  They just want to tell me about a cool hotel they discovered in case I ever go there.

So, whether you are wanting to get over a cold, manifest a wonderful woman or discover the Secret to Immortality – remember that you can use positive language, verbal reminders and post-it notes, but the essential part is in how you feel.  Do you feel that your immune system is strong and capable of healing your body quickly?  Do you feel that you are a good loving person who deserves to have a wonderful loving woman in your life?  Do you feel that you are an eternal soul and that the consciousness of all time is available to you here and now?

eternal soul portraitAnd as in all things, it’s important to remember that Divine Grace supersedes it all.  If you don’t want to worry too much about what words you use or what your subconscious mind is doing – just pray for Grace.  No matter what you are wanting to manifest, not enough can be said for praying with full feeling in humility and adoration. Loving God will take care of most things.

Stress Reduction – God’s Secret Weapon

ilovemy-crm-logo - CopyI recently taught a 6 week meditation class for stress reduction.  I work at a fairly conservative small college and this past quarter the focus of the staff Wellness program has been on reducing stress for health benefits.  The Wellness program is something the college has for its faculty and staff in order to get better rates from our insurance company.  I guess they figure if the employees receive support and education around health there will be less claims – less by-pass surgeries and long-term diabetes treatments to pay for.  So, basically – it comes down to money.  In a strange twist of fate, in order to save a corporate-greed-capitalist-America insurance company money, I was paid to teach meditation to my co-workers during our lunch hour on Fridays.

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Or is it a twist of fate?  Maybe it is just fate straight up.  Maybe it is exactly as God planned.

My friend Lord Flea sent me an article from the New York Times – How to Find a Job With Meditation and Mindfulness.  It is about a meditation studio craze in New York where Manhattanites are flocking to invite-only meditation studios to meditate and network with investors and start-up entrepreneurs. The article states how this idea came to New York from San Francisco and Wisdom 2.0 – a conference bringing together leaders from the Silicon Valley tech giants with experts in yoga, mindfulness and meditation.  Their goal is “to live with greater wisdom, purpose, and meaning, while using technology in ways that create a more open and healthy culture.”  This is an organization that I first heard of from my friend in San Francisco, Janardhan Chodagam, a very successful software engineer who realized that “a life of fulfillment trumps a life of achievement.”  When I met him he had left the industry to teach meditation with the Brama Kumaris full time and was doing an introduction to Raja Yoga for overworked business professionals in the Bay Area.

Teza, or Lord Flea, is one of my closest spiritual friends, a true lover of God and believer in the power of Love.  Yet, when she started meditating decades ago, she wasn’t looking for God. She heard a talk about how Transcendental Meditation made a person more efficient, productive and creative – and although she started meditation for productivity, she ended up on a lifelong spiritual path.

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Deepak Chopra & Dr. Oz Meditating to lose weight

Years ago I also heard a story of a woman from Brooklyn.  She was your run-of-the-mill Brooklyn housewife and she saw a sign in the window of a yoga studio advertising a certain breathing technique to help you lose weight.  She took the class and the teacher recommended practicing the technique for 10 minutes a day.  She figured if she did the breathing technique for longer, she would lose more weight.  Before she knew it, she was meditating for hours a day and having all kinds of spiritual experiences.  She went to India to meet her teacher and wound up dedicating her life to God, founding an ashram and a charitable organization that does work in the US, India and Uganda.  All because she wanted to lose some weight.

You see, I think that God is secretly using all these “lose weight” and “increase productivity” and “reduce stress” tag lines to help forward the evolution of human consciousness on earth.  It doesn’t matter why we start on a spiritual path.  It doesn’t matter how we get focused on love, peace and a higher way of life.  It doesn’t matter if we expand our consciousness initially because we want to network and find spiritually centered investors for our new fashion start up.  It doesn’t matter if we open our hearts to compassion because we downloaded a meditation app from 1 Giant Mind (who I talk a bit more about on the Meditation Resources page).

biz man med - CopySome people might see New York’s meditation/networking clubs as a crass capitalist sacrilege.  But I rejoice in ALL the wonderful new ways God is finding to bring people to the center of their being.  How amazing that so many business tycoons are breathing in relaxation and breathing out peace.  How glorious that so many doctors are prescribing mindfulness meditation to lower blood pressure.  I can’t even begin to count how many people are being transformed into better, more loving human beings simply by beginning the practice of meditation for any reason whatsoever.  I can’t imagine the impact all these success workshops and health seminars are having on our collective consciousness.

God loves us.  God is constantly looking for any way at all to bring Her children home to more love, peace and happiness.  She sends prophets and saints.  She gives us nature and the miracle of sunsets.  She gives us music and poetry and all the creative expressions of the human soul.  And She gives us Wellness program stress reduction meditation classes.  People get into meditation for all kinds of reasons – blood pressure, weight loss, productivity and success.  God uses all kinds of sneaky ways to aid in the evolution of human consciousness.

I don’t know if you could really say that God has a weapon of any kind.  I know all kinds of scriptures depict God as smiting and drowning and killing all kinds of peoples, but I really think that if there is anything that God is NOT capable of doing, it would be to cause harm.  But, I guess in the old spiritual battlefield of inner decision between good and evil, God can kick some ass.  And in that arena, stress reduction is Her secret weapon.


Join the Consciousness Evolution with Inner Action & Meditation How-to’s

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Stand on One Leg and LOVE! the Rest is Commentary

456501701A few weeks ago in church we had a reading from Matthew’s gospel where a lawyer asks Jesus “Which commandment is the first of all?”  And Jesus replied:

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

In Father Ted’s sermon, he also told us of a Rabbi Hillel, a contemporary of Jesus who was famous for a similar answer to a trick question.  Asked if he could recite the entire Torah while standing on one leg, he stood on one leg and said, “What is hateful to you, don’t do to others.  That is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary. Go and learn.”

In Islam, ‘compassion’ is the most frequently occurring word in the Qur’an. Each of its 114 chapters, with the exception of the 9th, begins with the invocation ‘In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful…’piriformis-standing-lga

Love and Compassion are also central to Hinduism and the most important practice of ‘seeing the Self in the other’ (strikingly similar to ‘Love thy neighbor as thy Self’).

Daya or Compassion is a fundamental teaching of the Sikh religion, where it means ‘suffering in the suffering of all others’ and it is believed that Enlightenment cannot be reached through meditation alone but the spiritual seeker must also do good works towards their fellow humans.

Compassion is so important to Buddhists that they have been known to remove insects from the ground before putting up posts during construction, as to not harm any creature, however small.

Compassionate to even smaller creatures still, devout Jains sweep the path before them as they walk and wear masks as to not step on or breath in, thus inadvertently killing, any minute invisible insects.

How is it then that we have seen so much violence in the name of religion?  It is a very peculiar quirk of humans that we can have so many beautiful religions that all profess love and compassion as their central tenets, yet we use those religions to argue, discriminate, hate and at worst kill each other.

In my tradition of contradicting myself, I have two “buts” to that statement.

But, I don’t think i73032265t really is our different religions that drive us to those extremes of disunity, warfare and violence.  I think the conflict is really about something else altogether and religion is just used as an excuse.  The reasons for violence throughout history are such basic things as greed, land or power and instead of kings or emperors, or nowadays politicians, saying to their armies “I want that gold and that treasure in that land, let’s kill them for it” and just being honest about it, they say “Those heathens are doing the devil’s work, let’s go kill them.”  I guess they figured their citizens would be less likely to want to die just to feed their king’s coffers.

The second but is: But I think more and more, people are seeing the absurdity of this kind of religious disagreement about which way of practicing love and compassion is right.  We are finding the common ground that we all share.  In fact, I believe this call for unity, understanding, kindness and compassion among all peoples was actually central to many of the prophets, founders and sons of God who started these religions in the first place.  They themselves were trying to reform the baser human tendencies of greed and violence and taught instead LOVE.

The Gospels are full of stories of Jesus sitting down to dine with tax collectors, accepting the devotion of a prostitute (that was NOT Mary Magdalene, but that is the subject for another post), and of showing mercy and inclusion to gentiles of all sorts.

Flamingo_Web_For Muslims, at the heart of their faith is the principal of tawhid or oneness. This oneness has been described as that which dominates the mind in Islam, while the heart is intrinsically linked to the concept of compassion. “My Mercy encompasses all things” (Qur’an 7:156).  Islam sees love and compassion – the ability to feel with the other, as expressions of the interconnected oneness of all human beings, reflecting the oneness and unity of God.

The Muslim leader Badshah Khan, who waged nonviolent resistance for Indian independence alongside Gandhi has said:

“It is my inmost conviction that Islam is amal, yakeen, huhabat – selfless service, faith and love…. My religion is truth, love and service to God and humanity. Every religion that has come into the world has brought the message of love and brotherhood. Those who are indifferent to the welfare of their fellowmen, whose hearts are empty of love, they do not know the meaning of religion.”

This is why religious or spiritual figures from all different faiths and religions are often found saying “Love is my religion” or the like.  This is why I am an Everything.

This is also what Karen Armstrong discovered when she founded the Charter for Compassion.  The bottom line of virtually all religions is compassion – so let’s stop squabbling about the different nuances of compassion or who we believe said that compassion is most important or what name we use to refer to the All Compassionate One – and let’s start making COMPASSION a part of our every day life and all that we do.  Instead of worrying which prophet is the most right or  most godly about compassion, isn’t it more important to actually practice the compassion they all speak of?  That is what putting all our varying religions into Natrajaction actually looks like.  And that is what will bring about the Unity of God that all our prophets, saints and Holy Ones of all religions have taught in one way or another.  That is what we have always yearned for.

That is why I stand on one foot and say – Love!  The rest is commentary.


Please enjoy the inspiring Charter for Compassion video – and if you haven’t already, please sign the charter.

Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables

article-2693000-1FA30DFD00000578-601_634x929This is something that falls both under the category Silly and Important.  I’m not even sure it’s silly enough to fall under the category of a silly post of the week, but with a name like ‘Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables,’ I’ll say it qualifies.

I recently saw a video about a French supermarket, Intermarche, who wanted to do something to combat food waste.

Did you know that grocery stores throw out up to 40% of fruits and vegetables simply because they are ugly?  I had no idea, but I, too, look over the fruits and vegetables and squeeze and examine as if I actually know what I am doing.  I search through the tomatoes and the peaches to find the prettiest one, as if my fruit bowl at home needs to rival a French Provencal painting.  Little did I know that my finicky fruit and vegetable habits are part of such tremendous waste.

So, thank goodness for Intermarche for setting me straight.  They set out to prove that ugly fruits and vegetables taste just as yummy as DSC_3342their more beautiful counterparts.  They dedicated a whole aisle to the deformed produce and sold them at a 30% discount.  They also started a line of prepared foods made out of the two-legged carrots or bulgey eggplant.  This way people can take home a bowl of ugly tomato soup and taste for themselves how delicious it is before buying the lumpy things themselves.

An estimated 90,000 tons of produce in the U.K. goes to landfill sites annually, all because customers associate ‘ugly’ with ‘defective.’  I don’t know what 40% of the US grocery store produce equals in tons, but I’d guess it’s a lot more than that.  The same is true for all westernized countries.  The amount of fruits and vegetables that are thrown out world-wide simply because they aren’t visually acceptable to consumers is astounding.

It is even more egregious when you factor in the fact that there are areas in the U.S. that are called “food desserts” because there is so little access to nantesgood healthy food.  How many people are there in this country (or any country) who live in low-income neighborhoods that don’t have access to fresh produce?  When you also factor into that the fact that a head of broccoli in America costs more than a full meal at McDonald’s, that blows my mind.

So, my not-so-silly ending to my kinda-silly post for the week is this:

The ugly fruit movement should join forces with the Food Justice movement and design programs to take the less than perfect looking – but still just as tasty and nutritious – produce to lower-income neighborhoods and sell them for a discounted price.  And we should all stop being so prissy about our food.

NaBloPoMo ~ What I Got with the Go-For-It Rule

14762-TypewriterFour score weeks and 30 posts ago, I first heard of NaBloPoMo – the month of November when thousands of bloggers make a commitment to post something every day to get into the habit of daily blogging, to build momentum and readership, to learn from each other and to become actual legitimate bonafide bloggers.  I was hesitant at first because, after the last 3 or 4 years of my life I have developed a severe allergy to stress and, being very grateful for the chance to turn over a new leaf, I have been very careful to not add stress to my new life.  However, I had been praying for my next purpose.

With NaBloPoMo I felt like God was saying, your next mission, should you choose to accept it, is to become an actual legitimate bonafide blogger.  So, I accepted.  I applied the Go-For-It Rule of diving in, embracing the challenge of posting every day, accepting my next mission not with stress and ‘oh my God, how can I post every day’ but with joy and ‘wow, God, I get to post every day.’

And I am so thankful I said yes!

Having the experience of writing every day, editing and polishing, contemplating and adding to, waking up with 3 ideas for posts and generally having my blog become a part of me, I can genuinely say that I love being a writer.  It fits.  I feels like me.

When I am writing I just feel alive, totally engaged, fully present in the moment and aligned with All That Is.  I feel at peace inside.  For a long time I have thought about writing, I have written a little bit here and there, I have dreamed about my life as a writer.  The most amazing gift of this experience is discovering that I AM a writer.  Not in a dream, in real life.  And all I had to do was say yes.

2014-01-11 16.37.19I know it’s not all that I am, I know that what we do doesn’t define us and we all contain multitudes.  I know that in essence we are not writers or plumbers or artists or teachers or engineers – we are just love.  However, the expression of love that feels most like my skin in this world at this moment is that of a writer.

I am a writer.  There, I said it.  Yes, I might also be an administrative assistant.  Yes, I might also be a sister and a daughter and an auntie.  I might also be a mama to my little Peachy. I might also be a Peace activist. And I am first and foremost a lover of God.  And all of these aspects tie into my experience and my expression as a writer.

I also have a confession to make to all my fellow NaBloPoMo’ers.  I was not stressed at all.  I had fun.  There was only one day where I had frustration with my post and it was because after I had finished writing and was adding pictures the wordpress website glitched and I lost it all and had to write it all over again.  I had an abundance of topics and inspiration, in fact I have 34 more ideas saved as drafts.  I would be so excited some evenings I would write 2 posts.  One day I wrote 3 posts, so then I got to take the weekend off.  As I read all the comments and posts about the struggle of NaBloPoMo and how challenging it was, I almost felt bad for having so much fun.

Sophie & Isabel grabbing Sn's legsSo – here in the last post of the month I am going to address my first NaBloPoMo prompt.  One of the prompts was asking have you found your blog’s voice?  I actually did think about that on and off all month.  My blog’s voice is simply my voice.  However serious or silly I am, however devotional or contemplative, however reverent or irreverent, however nerdy or quirky, however awe-struck or amazed I am – so is my blog.  I really don’t want to try to shape it any other way.  I don’t want to do anything except be myself and be a writer.  For me it hasn’t been so much finding the voice of my blog.  It is more that blogging has helped me find my voice.

Thank you!  And Thank You!

Times Are A’Changin’ – or Are They?

6a50a4c6098d43f9e6de4d24f5d2d508Here is a quote about the state of our youth.  Can you guess who said it?

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

Did you guess? Emily Post?  Miss Manners?  Donald Trump?

I’ll give you a hint.  The quote is from someone who died 2413 years ago.

This is what Socrates said about the youth of his day.  For some reason I find that hysterically funny.

Yesterday morning, the morning after Thanksgiving at my sister’s house, we were sitting around the kitchen table, extended to accommodate the extra family Three Types of Political Campaignsmembers.  As tends to happen at family gatherings during holidays and special occasions, the conversation steered towards the state of the American political system (broken), the intelligence of American politicians (or lack there of) and the state of our youth (rude with no attention span).  Then I thought of Socrates.  And after the discussion of how cell phones have ruined our youth, I used my cell phone to google the quote.

It is oddly comforting to me that people were complaining about the youth of their day over two millennia ago, sounding exactly like something my grandmother might have said.  Our breakfast conversation was actually similar to Socrates (that is a lofty claim, I know, but our conversation didn’t get any more philosophical than this derision of young people).  I realized that if Socrates was offended by the youth of ancient Greece, maybe the youth of our day isn’t so bad.  Maybe they are just being youth and we are just being the grown ups who complain about them gobbling their food without any manners.

Then I remembered the very true (though somewhat slurred) story about the election of 1800 from Drunk History:

 

When we get down about negative campaigning or smear tactics in today’s politics, it’s good to remember the antics of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams 214 years ago.  They were basically behaving like two 8 year-olds throwing mud at each other – each one trying to out-do the other in outlandish and completely untrue negative ads.  Thomas Jefferson went to the newspaper and told them John Adams was a hermaphrodite – there are actual printed statements that Adams had both male and female sex organs.  John Adams told the media that everyone should vote for him because Jefferson was dead – and even if you disagreed with everything Adams said, at least he was alive!

When I saw this clip, I again had a strange sense of optimism.  If this is what our founding fathers were up to over 200 years ago and we are still around and haven’t ruined ourselves with our own stupidity, then maybe we’re doing ok.  Maybe, just maybe, we are actually getting better.  Even with all the negative attack ads and political spin, at least our candidates aren’t just blatantly making up stuff about each others sex organs.

hopeYou see, instead of seeing that we are all doomed because our youth and our politicians have always been deplorable, I see that our youth and our politicians are just being how they have always been and humanity has just had a tendency to complain.  That doesn’t make everything horrible.  Even if people like to lament about the state of young people, politicians and the weather while sitting around a breakfast table, the world is actually quite a wonderful place.

Maybe our youth aren’t so rude.  Maybe we are making progress.  Maybe things are actually changing for the better.  Maybe we ARE evolving.  Maybe there is hope.

Contradictions, Paradox and Unity

walt-whitman1Way back in my high school days of Dead Poets Society and Oh Captain my Captain teenage angst poetry I remember loving this line by Walt Whitman:

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

The older and hopefully wiser I get, the more I love that line.  It is true.

Sometimes in writing I worry about contradicting myself, like it will make me lose my credibility or make me look inconsistent or like I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about (which I have never claimed that I do, so if it turns out I don’t know what I’m talking about, there is no contradiction there).  But of course I contradict myself!  Contradicting myself doesn’t mean that I am inconsistent or hypocritical.  It simply means that life contradicts itself.

I also worry about contradicting others.  The other day I saw a friend of mine and she said to me “was this post about so-and-so?”  My first thought was – oh my God, people are actually reading what I write!  My second thought was – uh-oh, people are actually reading what I write.  How do I go about clarifying and refining my understandings without being anti-anything or giving anyone the impression I think they are wrong.  Doesn’t there have to be some form of “not this, not this, not this…”  Yet saying “not this” doesn’t negate the unity.  The unity is large, it contains multitudes.

I wrote in an earlier post about my concern about responding to something I disagree with in my posts.  I don’t want to be “anti” anyone or have my energy come across as disagreeable.  I want to embrace and unify and bring love.  And sometimes I hear something come out of someone that doesn’t feel 100% true to me and so I contemplate and ponder, I focus my awareness on what it is I am feeling and I gain more clarity inside myself.  Then I share that in my writing.

0124Like the other day, with my dear friend’s habitual “it’s all an illusion” utterances.  Yet when I emailed him and said hey, I wrote about you today, he replied that he was honored.  “I am truly honored…uh…in that i was mentioned in wonderful piece in such a loving way and that i could be a cause of such deep contemplations.”  And what’s more, he said that he really agrees with me that it is the separation that is an illusion and that the  “disengaging interpretation engenders apathy and by golly, boredom, ‘nothing matters because everything is an illusion…’  c’mon, what about living. (if talking to a dog, ‘flare those nostrils and experience the melange within each instant, free from the obscuring delusion of thought.)”

For every person that has said something that I have deeply listened to, contemplated and responded, I hope they would have the same experience.  I’m sure that they are just as sincere in their seeking as I am and that deep down inside they share the same longing to know Truth, to love God and to live in Unity and Happiness.  I hope we all get closer to the answers that we are seeking and that we can help each other along the way by comparing and contrasting, clarifying and refining, inspiring each other into deep contemplation and deeper understanding of this beautiful paradoxical vastness we live in.

Heck, half the time after I publish a post I think – oh, but the opposite is also true.  A few days later I’ll post something that says – oh, and I want to disagree with myself.

God is in Her very nature paradoxical.  God is a beautiful mystery.  In the vastness that is God, seemingly opposite things can both be true at the same time.  In fact, multiple things that seem contradictory can all be true. It is true that nothing matters because God will always win and happiness is inevitable for all living things.  It is also true that everything matters because it is up to us to stand with God and each moment that we prolong the suffering for any creature is a betrayal of our own loving nature.

goldeneggIn Hinduism there are multiple creation stories.  In one version the creation emerged from a Golden Cosmic Egg.  In another version, the great man-God Purusa was dismembered and each of his body parts formed a different caste of humans. The ancient Rig Veda gives a strikingly modern agnostic rendition – not so much a creation story as a creation pondering, stating that we don’t really know what happened and maybe even God doesn’t know:

“There was neither non-existence nor existence then… What stirred? Where? In whose protection?… Who really knows? Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?… Perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not – the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven (God), only he knows – or perhaps he does not know.”

There is not one definitive truth of creation.  Yet, somehow, it doesn’t really bother Hindus in general.  No one seems to mind the blatant contradictions and multiple versions of events.  They are not so concerned with there only being one account of the creation of the universe.  I guess they just have an acceptance that the universe is large and it contains multitudes.  Just as there are hundreds of gods and only One God at the same time.  Hinduism is often depicted as “polytheist” but it is really radically monotheistic, seeing all gods, and indeed all of life, as a manifestation of the one Divine. The hundreds of gods are varying expressions or faces of the One God who is vast beyond all time and space – so vast that God contradicts Herself all the time!

It doesn’t make sense.  It’s not meant to.  It’s not possible for God in all Her vastness to make sense.  Yet She is the Supreme Order of the Universe.  Yet She is what feels like totally obvious common sense inside our hearts.

JesusLovesYouBeachI once saw a bumper sticker that said “Jesus loves you but I am his favorite.”  I know it was meant to be funny, but what struck me is that it was so perfect because it’s true. The only thing is, it’s true for every single person on the planet.  Jesus (and God) completely loves you the most out of every being in the universe – you are his favorite.  And you, too.  And you.  And so forth.  Jesus is vast, he contains multitudes.

God is a paradox.  I contradict myself.  Opposites are true.  Deal with it.