Awakening Is Fun and Broccoli Is Delicious

holy_spirit_fire_by_jpsmsu40I started my first Peter Rollins book last night.  I’m reading ‘Insurrection – to Believe is Human, to Doubt, Divine’ as part of The Collective‘s Virtual Insurrection on-line group reading experience.  This is the book whose mere title inspired an entire blog post about Doubting Thomas.

In the introduction, Peter Rollins promises that this book won’t be an easy read, in fact, many will find it disturbing as it will burn up our false concepts of a religion concerned with life after death to reveal the true transformation of Christ that takes place now in our life before death.  It sounds terrible… but wait a minute, isn’t that a good thing?

I guess it depends on what part of your self you are identifying with – the part of you that wants to hang on to ignorance and suffering or the part of you that wants to awaken into Light and happiness.  If you identify with your ego, I guess it’s disturbing and uneasy.  If you identify with your soul, it’s a downright party!  Woo hoo – freedom and transformation, let’s go!

So, why not say this book will be a great experience because it will set you free from false outer holiness to experience happiness in the transformation into what is truly holy inside your very soul!  Doesn’t that sound like more fun?  Why should awakening be so hard and painful?  Why should awakening be something we embark upon with dread because we know it’s really good for us, kind of like eating brussel sprouts or broccoli (which can actually both be quite delicious).

happinessLast year I went to the Ash Wednesday service at Trinity.  The pastor started talking about how Lent is the time to rend our hearts and offer up anything that is unpleasing to God and I thought “YES!  How wonderful, thank you – I so long to purify my heart of anything that is unpleasing to God.”  I was so happy!  “What a wonderful time of year Lent is,” I thought.

Then all of a sudden the pastor starts saying, “I know, you’re squirming in your seats, you want to hang on to all your attachments and desires, you want to hide all that stuff from God, I know you’ve been dreading Lent all year.”  And the rest of the sermon was all about how we don’t want to purify our hearts.  Say what?

Why wouldn’t I want to get rid of anything in me that is unpleasing to God?  If it’s unpleasing to God, isn’t it unpleasing to me?  And what’s more, if it’s unpleasing, wouldn’t it be unpleasant?  Why would I want to hang on to attachments and desires that cause me disappointment and suffering? Why would I want to keep a bunch of ugly ego stuff that is festering inside of me keeping me from transforming into the happy, fulfilled, loved and healed human being God wants me to be?

And what’s more, why is the pastor who is supposed to be guiding us closer to God, saying that it’s an awful uncomfortable thing?  Isn’t that backwards? I guess he’s trying to be relatable, acknowledge the part in us that is actually attached to our attachments.  But there is a big difference between acknowledging a part of us that might have resistance to transformation and identifying our selves as that part.  Why not identify ourselves with the much much bigger part of us that has been yearning to purify our hearts of suffering for many lifetimes?  As long as I’m identifying myself as a soul, the only thing I’d be renouncing or “giving up” for Lent is my suffering.

firewalkOtherwise, even in church we are teaching each other that we don’t want to be close to God – that we don’t want to be pleasing to God.  And I’ve heard the same kind of thinking in yogic self-realization circles, talking about awakening as “ego-death” or “walking through the fire.”  If even in church or our spiritual communities we keep identifying ourselves with our baser selves and ego desires instead of our souls, then we will keep telling ourselves that we don’t want our own happiness and spiritual liberation and that it’s something we should be squirming to avoid.

Instead of making Lent out to be so terrible and difficult that the whole congregation should be squirming in our seats, why not simply say, “I know some of you might be having some thoughts of resistance, but remember that to let go of that which is unpleasing to God will make you so much happier!  Your soul longs to be free!”  Let’s not turn some thoughts of resistance into WHO WE ARE.  Wanting to awaken and be happy is after all the Divine Purpose of selfishness – let’s put our selfishness to good use.

bonfire partyInstead of making the reading of a transformational book out to be some difficult task and making our awakening out to be some terrible chore or some painful trial by fire – let’s make it a party!  It’s joyful.  It’s wonderful.  Let’s break out the bongos and marshmallows and burn up all our misconceptions of God and what is holy in a big ole bonfire and dance around it with glee.  Let’s live here as our souls!  Not only will we realize the Secret to Immortality, but we can go about this whole awakening business with the realization that it’s fun to be set free!


To join me in all the Awakening Fun:

What is Inevitable for All Living Things?

golden-ratio-cosmic-constant-617x416Lately, I’ve been chanting the Purnamadah a lot.  It is the first verse of the Isha Upanishad, and it goes like this:

Om Purnamadah Purnamidam
Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya
Purnameva Vashishyate

The sanskrit word Purna can be translated in many ways – Complete, Whole, Fullness, Brahman or Reality, but personally the translation I like to use is the word Perfect.  Thus, the translation would be:

Om. That is perfect, this is perfect;
from the perfect, the perfect becomes manifest;
When the perfect is taken from the perfect,
Only the perfect remains.

k8aiVTo me, this chant is a meditation on the immutable perfection of God and God’s whole entire complete full reality called the universe.

Even when you take the perfect out of the perfect, the perfect is still there.  There is nothing that can be done by anyone anywhere in any way that would take away from the perfection of God.  “When the perfect is taken from the perfect, only the perfect remains.”

And from God, the Creation was manifested – so the whole universe is also immutably perfect.  Yes, we have entropy, we have decay, we have a cycle of life and death, we have lions eating gazelles and we even have atrocities taking place on the planet – but remember, Evil is like Peeing in the Ocean, a miniscule percentile of urea in a vast ocean of good.  Underneath it all is the immutable perfection of the Divine Creation.  “From the perfect, the perfect becomes manifest.”

milkyway_800This chant helps me when I am dealing with things that would seem to be less than perfect.  Instead of focusing on “woe is me” or “why is this happening” or going down any number of rabbit holes into negativity and small self-centeredness, I chant “That is perfect, this is perfect…”  And it works.  It helps me to see that behind everything that is happening in my life is an immutable perfection of God loving me, teaching me, molding me.  Everything that I experience is part of God’s creation for my life and is somehow giving me more compassion, more understanding, more inner strength and brings me closer to God.

A few days ago, I plain and simply just had a bad day and at the end of it, I chanted Purnamadah for 45 minutes before bed.  The next morning I felt so happy I wanted to hug everyone at work.  Mind you, I work in a business office, not normally an environment conducive to group hugs, so I had to contain myself – but I only contained my hugs, not my happiness.

pandavas2This chant on the Perfection of God and all of creation reminds me of my favorite story from the Mahabharata.  The Mahabharata is an ancient sanskrit epic about the battle between the good Pandava brothers and their less-than-good cousins the Kaurava brothers.  It being the longest poem ever written, it is all very complicated and I won’t go into it here, but my favorite part takes place during the seven years that the Pandava brothers are living in exile out in the wilderness.

The brothers all come across an enchanted lake.  The nature of the lake’s enchantment is such that when you see it, you immediately get intensely thirsty and want to drink, but before you drink you must answer all of the lake’s riddles, and if you drink without doing so, you die.  So, one by one the brothers come to the shore of the lake, give in to their thirst and then die – until the eldest brother, Yudishthera, comes to the lake and is the master of his thirst.  When the lake says to him “Before you drink, you must answer my riddles,” Yudishthera says “Very well, and if I answer them all correctly, you must bring my brothers back to life.”

Yudhistira_and_YakshaSo, the lake asks a series of riddles, all of which Yudishthera answers correctly without hesitation, and thus, all his brothers are restored from death and they may all drink from the enchanted waters and carry on through the rest of the epic poem to victory.

The riddles are a long string of esoteric or philosophical questions, such as “What is the cause of the world?” with the answer “Love” and “What is the opposite of your self?” with the answer “Myself.”  But the one that really got me, the one that makes this my favorite part of the longest poem in the world is this:

“What is inevitable for all living things?”

Being as philosophical and esoteric as I thought I was when I first heard this, I thought the answer would be something like “Death” or “Change.”  However, the correct answer that Yudishthera gave to save his brothers was “Happiness.”

Happiness is inevitable for all living things!

Summer-happiness-photoContemplating this tidbit from the Mahabharata made me ecstatically happy for days.  I would walk around seeing random people in a grocery store or post office and think “you are going to be happy!”  I felt like I was going to burst with the wonderfulness of the inevitability of happiness!

It felt kind of like the other morning after chanting the Purnamadah.  And really, they are both contemplations on the same thing.  No matter what it looks like right now, no matter what is going on in my life or what things could cause me stress and unhappiness if I let them – that is perfect, this is perfect.

There is an immutable perfection of God behind everything and happiness is inevitable for all living things!


For the beautiful Shantala chant:

For the Indian epic or its excerpt, the Bhagavad Gita:

 Or if you prefer the movie version (and there is no shame in that):

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.

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

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.

Faking it, Holiday movies and The Inside Job

its-a-wonderful-life-movie-poster-1946-1010458427In Friday’s post I know I said that once we start to do our karma yoga or our charitable deeds, it doesn’t really matter what our internal motivation is.  Given that tis the season for holiday charity, I want to both agree and disagree with myself.

In a certain sense, “Fake it til you make it” works. If it wasn’t so, there are countless holiday movies about transformation and Christmas miracles that just would not have ever gotten made.

Even if you’re not entirely selfless when you sign up to volunteer down at the homeless shelter, chances are your heart will be touched, your eyes will be opened, your horizons will be broadened… what I’m saying is, you’ll learn stuff.  It’s even possible that if you sign up to serve at a free medical clinic simply because you have a crush on the doctor who works there, that you’ll be transformed by the experience (insert holiday movie trailer with this or similar plot line here).

It’s even possible that if, instead of getting expelled from high school, you get “sentenced” to community service helping the former nurse at the free medical clinic who is now married to said doctor and runs an inner city at-risk youth center, you could learn a thing or two and be saved from a life of crime yourself (insert trailer for holiday movie sequel here).

xmas2009hallWhat’s more, whether your intentions are as pure as the driven snow in Antarctica or not, if you are volunteering for an organization that is actively reducing carbon emissions in America, then you are saving that driven snow and the iceberg it is on either way.  If people are getting fed, if the rainforest is being saved and if poor children are getting warm jackets, it is a very good thing.  At that point, if the person giving the warm jacket did it just so they could look good at church, who cares?

In these ways, the underlying intention doesn’t matter.

However, there are also ways in which intention is everything.  Maybe even the same ways.

Change and transformation is an INSIDE JOB.  This is true both for our own small lives and the greater whole of the planet.

On the personal level, that means that no matter if our initial intention is 100% pure and selfless or not, we need to at least be internally open to grow and learn and transform.  If we remain internally closed off and angry, then no amount of outer service can transform us.  It is something we have to do from the inside.  If we go through our mandatory service at the homeless shelter hanging on to our self-centered self-righteousness, we could see everything from our skewed perspective and just come out thHomeless-For-The-Holidayse other side with more prejudice and bah humbug.  They don’t make holiday movies about this, but I’m sure it happens.

If you are a person who donates cans at Thanksgiving and volunteers at Christmas time, but act like a complete and utter jerk the rest of the year, you’re not really making the world a better place.

On the planetary level, if a person is giving a warm coat just to look good at church but hangs on to thought forms of class-ism and greed – the poor are lazy and it’s their own fault – then they are part of creating our society that makes that young child cold and hungry to begin with.  If we want to not only put one jacket on one cold child, but transform our world and change mass consciousness, then the internal intention is key.

On another level that is a mix between the personal and the planetary – the energy that you put into something makes a difference.

volunteer-bell-ringerIf you stand outside your local grocery store ringing the Salvation Army bell and you genuinely pray to be an instrument of Christ’s love and to smile and spread holiday cheer to all who pass by, at the end of the day you will have collected 185 dollars and 28 cents and increased the amount of warm fuzzy happiness on the planet and made countless people feel a little more love.  If, on the other hand, you ring the same Salvation Army bell at the same grocery store and you are stressed and self-absorbed, at the end of the day you will have collected 185 dollars and 28 cents period.

If you deliver Thanksgiving turkeys to low-income families and you do so with warmth and genuine love and care, you might turn a whole family’s year around.  You never know the impact sincere intention can have on the world around you.

Likewise, the impact sincere intention can have inside of you is also very powerful, no matter the outer circumstances.

volunteer-Vietnam-1If you are sincere in your desire to help others and make the world a better place and you volunteer for an organization that turns out to be not as pure as your intention – it doesn’t matter.  God sees your intention.  The inner transformation you receive is according to your own inner sincerity.  And the love and compassion you have spread into the world comes from the purity of your heart only.

If a good-hearted, fit and handsome young law student who is a little bit disillusioned with his family over the holidays, instead of going home for Thanksgiving volunteers at an orphanage that turns out to be a front for an illegal child labor ring, it can still turn into a big holiday action box office smash hit.

I don’t know why I keep going from deep inner most sincere intention to inspirational holiday movie plot lines.  I guess it’s the way we learn things this time of year.  So, whenever you’re curled up on the couch watching the holiday line up of movies, just keep your intention in mind and see what you might learn about goodness, charity and the magic of Christmas from a place of both outer service AND inner sincerity.  Oh, and keep going all year round.

And here is a little something to help you on your way:

The Divine Purpose of Selfishness

me me meOn the spiritual path, selfishness and selflessness are two sides of the same coin and they can sometimes intermingle.

What I mean by that is that often our desire to even be on a spiritual path in the first place is in essence a selfish desire.  We want to end our suffering.  We want to know happiness.  We want our Enlightenment.  We want to live in Bliss.

While these desires might, in a sense, be more noble than desires such as wanting a new car or wanting a bigger house, they are still in essence coming from selfishness.

Once on our path, we might engage in service.  The Bible tells us to do charitable acts.  The Koran tells us to give alms to the poor.  The Gita tells us to do karma yoga, or “selfless action.”  Every yogic, Buddhist, Judeo-Christian or Muslim path has some form of seva or service.  So, you could say that in the beginning we might start out serving others as part of our goal of serving our own happiness, so again, from our own selfish desires.

Of course, this sounds bad, but I don’t think it is.  I think that is how God set it up.

Early on my spiritual path, that is what I wanted.  I was seeking Enlightenment.  I had enough of all this suffering and separation crap and I wanted me some bliss.  It was essentially selfish.  I wanted to know God, I wanted to understand the universe, I wanted to be happy.  Maybe somewhere mixed in there I had concerns about peace, unity, human rights and the environment, but mostly I just wanted God.

shabdaI remember this one retreat I was going on, I prayed “I want sammadhi, I want sammadhi, I want sammadhi” over and over again.  Sammadhi is the experience of Union with the Divine, a state of transcendent bliss that I had read about in many books and I wanted it!  I wrote my prayer on paper, over and over again.  “I want sammadhi, I want sammadhi, I want sammadhi.”  I filled the whole page.

At the time I thought I was being passionate about my spiritual path, that I was pouring my whole heart and soul into my desire for union with the Divine, but looking back at it, I must have looked like a three year old screaming for a toy.  I still yearn for union with the Divine, but hopefully I have grown a bit in the last 15 years and deepened my relationship with God a little bit.  At the time, sammadhi was something I wanted to experience for myself.

Yet, I can also see that the spiritual toddler that I was, screaming for my sammadhi, served a purpose.  It was a part of my spiritual development that helped me grow into a meditative pre-schooler, and then into a contemplative elementary schooler and eventually a mystical high school student.  I won’t presume to guess where I’m at in the whole process, but I at least hope I am continuing to learn.

I have this theory that every human quality has a Divine purpose or a good side.  Every human quality that we can see as a weakness or a detriment, when turned towards God is actually a good thing.  It’s just when these qualities are used to drive us away from God that they are “bad.”  So – I would say that wanting to live in blissy happiness and cozy comfy rose-colored Oneness with God is the Divine purpose of selfishness.

leprosy6And the beauty of the whole set up is that once we start to do our karma yoga or our charitable deeds, it doesn’t really matter if our internal motivation is for our own enlightenment.  As we serve down at the soup kitchen or animal shelter or children’s home, even though in a sense we were “faking it” from our own spiritual selfishness of wanting to be a good person – the very act of faking it begins to make it real.  God tricks us.  In our selfish desire to make sure we get into heaven, we begin to have our heart opened in compassion and understanding.  We open ourselves to witness the suffering and the inherent dignity and beauty of the people we are serving.  We begin to feel empathy and experience the actual Oneness of Heaven that we are hoping to attain later.  And we begin to actually spread the loving kindness of God to others and in doing so, we get to experience it ourselves.

God is pretty smart.

Pretty soon we aren’t even praying for sammadhi anymore, we’re not even selfishly in it for our own Enlightenment.  Pretty soon we just want to experience the heart breakingly exquisite feeling of being God’s instrument.  Pretty soon we just want to witness God’s Love touching other people.  Is that still coming from selfishness?  Is that still part of the selfish prayer to be One with the Love of God?  Sure.  Maybe.  Who cares.

Ironically, it was when I stopped praying for enlightenment and started praying to be an instrument that I actually started experiencing prolonged periods of happiness.  Could it be that Union with God and serving God is actually the same thing?  Again, I don’t presume to know.  But it seems that it is when we get out of the self, even in our desire for enlightenment, that we can be free of the self and actually start expanding towards enlightenment.  Oddly, we need our desire for sammadhi to propel us forward on our path, but as long as we are stuck in the self that craves sammadhi, we can’t actually GET to sammadhi.  It’s one of those ways that God is mischievous and tricky and very very funny.

There is this poem that I kept seeing on and off on my spiritual journey by Rabindranath Tagore – and now I get it:

54612e3a3e0271fd3064720d_seva2I slept and dreamt that life was joy.

I awoke and saw that life was service.

I acted and behold, service was joy.

 

Rogue Renunciation for Every Day Living

hinduism-ascetics-portraits-india-holy-men-joey-l-1Recently in my religion class we talked about how certain religions believe in asceticism – the act of monks, nuns or sannyasins giving up all worldly roles and connections to solely focus on God – and how other religions don’t believe in renouncing the world but that we can live with God IN the world as “householders.”  In Judeo-Christian terminology that would be “being in the world but not of it.”

To this question of either/or, as in most things where God is concerned, I say Yes!  God is in most cases all-inclusive and of course there are merits in renunciating and there are merits in living in the world as householders.  There is value in both and God is available to us on either path.  I respect both paths immensely.

The important part for me is to live a life that is focused on God, on Love and on making the world a more compassionate place.  In terms of focusing on God, sometimes renunciation can be helpful to free oneself of distractions or attachments, though it’s not necessary and it’s quite possible to focus on God while standing in line to check out at Publix.  In terms of making the world a more compassionate place, that can sometimes be more easily done by living in the world and doing such things as helping to feed the hungry, being kind and helpful to strangers or volunteering for a charity, but it can also be done through prayer, meditation and service away from the world.

DEL_4_169837gHowever, renunciation is not always practical and it isn’t for everyone, and I don’t think it should be.  The joys of “renunciating” our attachments and distractions are available to anyone who simply says YES to the Divine and who wants to identify as a SOUL and to live a life centered in God.

Back when I was an interfaith renunciate of sorts, someone once told me how they admired how I had “given up” so many things for God.  I remember feeling perplexed because I didn’t think of myself as “giving up” anything.  I was getting everything my soul ever wanted!  Love, Peace, Joy, Purpose, Contentment and closeness to God!  I was happy. What was I giving up?  As long as I was identified with my soul, the only thing I was “giving up” was suffering.

Now I am living in the world.  I am working an office job at a local college, I am paying my bills, buying my own groceries and living fully as a householder – yet I think about God every day and I talk to God every chance I get and I still identify myself as a Soul.  The Love, Peace, Joy, Contentment and closeness to God is still right here, available at all times just as soon as I focus on it.  I can be sitting at my desk and feel the presence of the Divine in my life.  No nunnery necessary.

The purpose of “giving up” our worldly desires is just so we can move away from our ego identification, which creates suffering, and learn to live here as souls, which creates happiness.  When we are happy, we can share love and compassion and help make others happy, too.   But how we identify ourselves is an internal process.  It really has very little to do with if you wear an orange robe or a business suit.  It’s quite possible that you become a angrynunnun or a monk and that you still don’t feel closer to God, that you still don’t give up your ego identification or emotional baggage and it doesn’t make you happy (insert memory of angry Catholic school nun here).  The important part to remember when it comes to renunciation is just “where is your focus?”  Who are you identified as?  It is about going from “I am a body, I have a soul” to “I am a soul, I have a body.”  And then eventually to “I love you, God, what can I do to help?” Or as those old monks and nuns would put it “Thy Will Be Done.”

So, my practice of rogue renunciation for every day living consists of this:

tumblr_mg45ovHjAc1qi8mw9o1_500Internally focusing on God as much as I can through out the day

Holding a consciousness of God/Soul/Love as the ground of my being, in the background even as I am focusing on tasks in the world

Identifying myself as a Soul – I Am a Soul, my thoughts, random desires and the noise of the world is just happening, it is not who I Am.

Internally thinking of God as near, thinking of God and Christ and Holy Beings as my best friends (they ARE near, we just need to realize it)

Remembering to choose love and kindness whenever possible (and it is always possible)

Saying yes to any large and small ways to make the world a more compassionate place

helping-others-succeedAs long as I practice these things I can still really dedicate myself to God and my soul  AND I can enjoy the beauty and the fun of this world that God has created for us.  I can dress up for Halloween and go have boo-ritos at Chipotle and even go dancing!  During it all I can internally be in prayer, contemplation, chanting, meditation, communing with or conversing with God or Christ, St Francis, Amma or other Holy Company.  I am in the world, grateful for the beauty and the wonder of the creation – enjoying the gifts of the creation WITH the Creator.  I am a soul, gratefully and fully living this incarnation.

And even though I am now a householder, my internal identification has not changed.  I am a soul.  I am in love with God.

The Yearning that is Behind Everything

narayan3Last weekend I went to the Community Satsang at our local yoga studio. My friend TeZa, aka Lord Flea, led us in two chants, the second one was Om Hare Bhagavate Satchidananda.

Bhagavan, or as Teza’s sweet husband Carter calls him, our buddy Billy Bob Bhagavan, is The Lord God, the most eternal name for God, the huge ancient God before any religion, any incarnation, any expression of God.  I love chanting to Bhagavan. I always experience The Lord God as a primordial infinitely profound and glorious presence.

TeZa explained how Satchidananda means Sat – Truth of Being, Chid – Consciousness and Ananda – Bliss, and how this is what all humans long for. This is why we chant, why we meditate – to know this Truth, Consciousness and Bliss.

So, we began the chant and my mind wandered in and out as it usually does. I would chant, then think of something I wanted to post on my blog (NaBloPoMo has me thinking a little bit too much about such things). But as I allowed the chant to do its work on me I started feeling this ancient Presence of Bhagavan and I started feeling this underlying yearning for Satchidananda.

My entire focus went inward and upward (I even forgot about my blog for a few moments there). I could feel this reunion with Bhagavan, the presence of The Lord God of my Being. And I could feel my heart aching, yearning and breaking in this core longing to know God, to know the Truth of my Being, to dwell in this Consciousness, to live in this Bliss. My heart was burning and I could feel the flame focusing me inward, upward, deeper into this presence of God.

Chicago Architecture City Skyscrapers Upward View

In that moment of yearning, I remembered how years ago I had gone into a big city for a meeting with some lawyers on behalf of a spiritual group. We were doing the worldly paperwork needed for us to do what we wanted to do from our Love of the Divine, part of the necessary steps to follow. As we were leaving the attorneys’ office and getting back into our car, all of a sudden I could feel everything in the whole city as a manifestation for our yearning for God – not just us, but all of humanity. All the buildings, all the roads, the parks, the cars – I could feel how every human invention, every human endeavor was actually coming from our longing to return to God, even if we don’t know it.  The motivating energy behind humanity, in all our efforts, all our drive to be successful, to grow and learn, to study science and engineering, to be bigger and better – that underlying motivation has always been to find our way back Home to union and wholeness. And as I was feeling this, I could feel that same energy IN all the things we have created. The skyscrapers were reaching up towards Heaven, our rocket ships and submarines are both striving to reach God as quickly as possible, our laws and systems and governments are all attempts at getting closer to God. I looked at the building we had parked next to and every single faded yellow brick was screaming for God.

In some strange way – I could even feel that all the terrible things that humans have done, all the hurtfulness and cruelty, was also coming from some kind of yearning for God.  It was just twisted in the wrong direction, like a child that wants to be held and when it perceives that the Mother is not there throws a tantrum kicking and screaming, throwing toys and tearing the house down, not realizing that the Mother is always there holding us, we just can’t feel it for all our kicking and screaming.

inside-an-ancient-temple-jason-irishIn remembering that moment during the chant, feeling the deep yearning for Satchidananda, for Baghavante, I started feeling all around us an inner Temple, an ancient eternal holy place where God is in fact holding us.  And I could feel how we have never left God’s Temple.  We have never fallen, never been kicked out of Paradise, never been separated, not really.  In truth, all of our human existence is happening inside the Temple of God.  God loves us so much, we could never leave God’s care, we could never be outside of God’s home for us in Her heart.  Everything we have ever done has happened inside this ancient eternal Temple.  It is a Temple small enough to fit inside each human heart and a Temple large enough to contain all of humanity.  We are always and eternally inside this Temple that contains our lives and all that we are.

As I felt this ancient and loving living Temple around me, my heart broke even more with gratitude.  I cried deeply from the comfort that God has never ever left us out in the cold, that we have always been warm and safe inside this ancient Temple of Bhagavan.  Just as we have been yearning for God through all the ages, through our evolution and progress and history, God has been answering that yearning in every moment along the way – we just need to stop screaming, rest in the love of God and open to feel it.

ancient-indian-temples9

The Shaved Head Dilemma

Natalie_Portman_Shaved_HeadI have decided that at least once a week I am going to post something truly silly.

One reason is to keep myself from taking this whole blogging thing and myself too seriously.

Another reason is just because it’s fun.

And a third reason is that silliness is seriously important.  I went for years of my life very seriously focused on a serious spiritual path that had no room for silliness – and I suffered and my spirit suffered.  So – from now on I make a holy vow before God to always be at least a little bit silly.

Last week’s silly post was about shoes and socks.  This week’s silly post will be about hair – or rather, lack of hair.Sinead_OConnor_Shaved_Head

All through high school and college I hung out with the alternative, counter-culture, artsy, punk and poetry theater crowd.  I had numerous female friends who shaved their heads a la Sinead O’Connor just as a fashion choice – and they looked awesome.  Shaving your head, in my circle of friends, was cool.

Fast forward just a few years when in my mid-twenties it was time for me to renounce my ego-identifications and dedicate myself to God.  Normally on such occasions one shaves ones head to give up any vanity or pride in ones appearance.  But what was I to do?  I thought shaving your head was cool.  If I was going to renounce being cool (and let’s face it, I was never really ever cool to begin with), it wouldn’t work for me to shave off all my hair.

79ab3e3a862654d78b66d77880e754bcAdd to that the fact that “cool” to me was also being really super spiritual.  The more spiritual, the better.  In the New Age Mecca of Asheville, NC, where I lived, being spiritual was the same as being a member of a really fancy country club – so again, shaving my head as an act of renunciation would be the ultimate in cool and would in no way help me in my quest for humility.

So, I decided just to cut my hair short – have it symbolize my letting go of the past, give up my identification as a long-haired girl.  At least I could do that much.  So, I said my prayers in the morning and went down to a hair salon and, holding my intention inside, the nice chatty hairdresser cut my hair short short.

And it worked.  I looked like a dork.  I think in the fashion world my face would be described as being too long for short hair, and whatever the reason, I looked awful.  I was all forehead.  My short rat-brown hair looked awkward and embarrassed on top of my head.  I hated it.

Then I laughed and I thought, ok, this is good.  This is BETTER than shaving my head.  This fulfills the purpose of shaving my head much more than shaving my head would have.  I renounce looking cool.  I renounce my pride and my vanity.  I renounce my attachment to my appearance and my concern with what I look like to others and I focus my attentions on God.  This is what I wanted.

tibetan-buddhist-nun

And while now-a-days I have grown my hair back out and I enjoy being creative with colors and clothing and how I combine my shoes and socks, it was good for me at the time.  Now I can enjoy how I dress without being attached to how I look.  I can do so while not identifying as a long-haired counter-culture artsy poetry girl.  I can do so while identifying as a Soul.

The Matrix or Fearless? The Pros and Cons of Limitations

Bumble-bee-and-purple-flowers-July-4-2011I know in most instances limited thinking is not a good thing.  Like when presented with “There aren’t a lot of jobs in town” it’s good to remember you only need one job.  And the mack daddy of all unlimited thinking is letting God do the manifesting.  I mean, God can part the Red Sea, God can walk on water, God can manifest saris out of thin air, God can raise the dead, God can create the heavens and the earth – God is certainly not hampered by the small number of cool guys in town.

There are instances though where limitations are good, in a way.

As an example of the unifying effect of the internet, my new blogger friend in Turkey is helping inspire realizations in me yet again.  Meyla wrote about the balance of knowing or not knowing (the whole post is really good, you should read it, and I’m not just saying that because she references how cute and wise my Peachy is).  She pointed out the saying about bumble bees:

“Aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know it, so it goes on flying anyway.”

So, would we be able to fly if no one had ever told us that we couldn’t?  Or would we end up killing ourselves by trying to jump off a roof and quickly learning that we can’t, in fact, fly.  Maybe there are some limitations that are good?

01It’s like the Matrix movies – Neo doesn’t accept the limitations that he has been programmed to believe about what he can and can’t do – so he CAN fly.  But is that limitlessness only applicable in the computer generated Matrix?  No, in the third movie when he is blinded, he can see through his inner sight and he continues to fight for the Good of humanity and defeats Mr. Anderson anyway.  So, limitlessness is good, right?

In the movie “Fearless,” Jeff Bridges plays a man who survives a major airplane crash and because he doesn’t die when he was certain that he would, he becomes fearless.  He walks in front of traffic in major intersections, he stands on the edge of the roof on fearlesshighrises.  He acts crazy and nearly kills himself and his passenger when he drives around without any fear or limitations.  So, limitations are good, right?

One movie demonstrates the power of limitlessness.  The other movie demonstrates the need for a little bit of limitation so we can keep from hurting ourselves or others.

I guess it’s about finding a healthy balance of limitations.  It’s important to know when the limitation is JUST a thought form – like “it’s impossible to find a good apartment in this town” and when the limitation is related to a law of physics – like “I can’t jump off this building and fly.”

However – it’s also important to note that on the spiritual journey the laws of physics do not necessarily always apply.  God can do whatever God wants.  But we need to be humble enough to trust that God also created the laws of physics for a reason and to know when it is God’s will that we break them (like curing cancer, not jumping off the roof on a dare).  And we need to have enough self-awareness to know where we are at in our spiritual awakening so that we don’t jump off a roof before we have actually cleared all those pesky subconscious human limitations and are really and truly One with God and ready to fly.  Maybe it’s better to start with flying in spirit and then simply learning to levitate a few inches above our meditation cushions and so forth.

I’m not saying we can’t fly – it works for the bumble bee – but it’s a process.  It’s a balance.  Like my friend Meyla puts it:  “Imagine trying to stand-up in the middle of a see-saw. A little bit of the real world and a little bit of the other real world.”

bumblebee_thistle_4

God is a Better Manifester than I

grandcanyon700Yesterday I posted my first post about the popular topic of “manifesting.”  I stated it’s not something I think a lot about, but I guess to correct myself I’ll modify that to say that it is something I have been witnessing quite a bit lately.

My one secret to manifesting (if it is even possible to have secrets about something that is a natural function for all human beings), is to not focus on it too much.  Many many years ago I had a friend tell me “I just focus on God and I find that God takes care of the rest.”  I have found this to be true.   If I can just stay in a state of gratitude, focus on being happy and giving as much love to the world as I can and loving God with all my heart, manifesting takes care of itself.

main-bgGod is a much better manifester than I will ever be – just look at the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest or Koh Pipi!  I find that if I just focus on being grateful to God for all the amazing blessings I have been given in my life, God keeps giving me blessings – and God knows what is best for me much better than I do.

A few months ago I was in the midst of a huge life transition.  I had left the path I had been on and I was asking God, what next?  I wasn’t trying to figure it out from my own mind.  I wasn’t trying to manifest the best future I could come up with.  I was praying for God to show me.  I was asking God where do You want me to go?  And this is the incredibly true (and somewhat long) story of how God manifested everything perfectly for me.

I had been staying with my sisters, alternating between their two houses, asking and remaining open to what was next for me.  One evening I was sitting on the couch with my sister Charlotte after we had tucked her children into bed and I remembered this neat little town of St Augustine that was just a couple of hours away.  When I tuned into the feeling of it, I felt excited, so I decided to go there the next day.  I drove up and checked into a hotel, the best deal I could find on the internet. I walked around the downtown and walked by the fort and I was overcome with a feeling of peace, a deep calmness in my being and it felt good.6a00d8341d171f53ef00e54fb149888834-800wi

The next morning I woke up and across the street from my hotel there was a Wednesday morning farmer’s market.  Delighted, I walked over.  The first booth I came upon was Bob’s books.  The lady there had written two children’s books about God, which I bought for my nieces and nephews, and we talked about the honoring of all religions and the importance of compassion and peace in our world.  I didn’t realize it until months later, but this woman is the founder of Unity & Peace, the non-profit organization that I am now the chairperson of.  She was the very first person I met in St Augustine and it was an answer to both of our prayers – she had been praying for someone to continue the work of Unity & Peace and I was praying for my next assignment.

So – even though I didn’t know it yet – I had my purpose for moving to St Augustine.  What about housing?

Later in the afternoon I was driving around looking at different areas of the town.  I was driving down Marine Street and out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign on the side of a house that said “St Francis Room.”  I LOVE St Francis, he is one of my very best friends, so I pulled over and parked in front of this house to find out what made it a St Francis room.  It turns out it was just a name for a rental room because nearby is St Francis street.  Disappointed that it did not contain a holy shrine to my favorite little saint, I was about to get back in my car.

A pedestrian walking down the street approached me and inquired, “Are you looking for a rental?” I told her “well, I’m thinking about moving into town but I haven’t decided yet.”  I thought perhaps this woman was a landlord or a rental manager, but it turns out she was neither.  She just came up to talk to me because she thought she might be helpful.  She had just found her rental and knew the in’s and out’s of finding a good one in St Augustine.  She told me she was writing a series of books inspired by the Archangel Gabriel and we spoke of spiritual things.  Then we exchanged contact info and I was again on my way.

shrineI continued to pray and be open to receive the answer – was this to be my next place on earth?  As I carried on my exploration I went to the shrine at Nombre de Dios – the “Name of God” mission, which I found interesting because I love chanting the name of God so much (though the Catholic church who built and maintains this shrine might not agree with the exact names I sometimes use).  As I walked up to Our Lady of La Leche shrine, the teeny stone chapel covered in ivy, I spontaneously burst into tears.  The simple holiness, the healing energy of Divine Mother, the peace of St Francis, the sweet serenity of devotion – these were all the things my soul craved and here God was giving them to me with a big bonus dose of Grace.

I called my new friend and said “OK, I’m moving here and I want to live next the shrine.”  She said to me “Oh, well just two days ago I met the person who lives right next to the shrine” – as in literally the very first house next to the shrine.  I asked her if she would go and ask if they had a garage apartment for rent or something and she thought I was a little weird but she, being a little weird as well, agreed.  Given that she didn’t actually have a phone number or email for these people, she walked over to the house beside the shrine.  As she walked up, the people were just heading out of their driveway.  My new friend told them she had met someone who wanted to move to St Augustine and wanted to live next to the shrine – did they happen to have a garage apartment?  They said no and then they drove off.  So, was that it?  No, a minute later they came driving back and said they didn’t have a garage apartment to rent, but they did have a rental house just a couple of blocks away in the neighborhood across the street from the shrine.

My new friend called me and gave me the address.  The owners couldn’t meet me for a couple of days but I could go by and take a look from the outsi2014-01-24 15.23.18de.  I went over immediately.  The house was a cute pink little concrete square and there was a gate into the enclosed back yard, so I entered.  It was a little bit neglected and overgrown, but sweet with a beautiful canopy of trees overhead.  Over in the corner there was a lump of concrete amidst some ferns.  It looked like something had fallen over.  I went over and lifted it straight and all of a sudden found myself holding St Francis’s hand.  I once again had tears rolling down my face as I could feel him leading me into my new home.  This is where God wanted me to be – could it be any more obvious?

A couple of days later I met my new landlords – a very sweet Catholic couple who love the shrine and who love God with deep sincerity.  They had meant to put the house up on Craigs list but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.  The previous tenants include a seminarian and several groups of novitiates and nuns visiting the shrine on pilgrimage.  I could not have dreamed up a more perfect little holy abode for my next home.

The one thing that perplexed me was the size.  It was huge, especially for one person.  It is essentially a 3 bedroom house with an additional office space.  In my last living situation I had been through 15 years of community living and I really felt like I needed my own space – my own little nest to make into my own little home.  I felt it was an emotional necessity.  So I had been picturing 1 bedroom apartments or a small little studio.  Why was God laying this huge house in my lap?

So, I prayed about that and asked God – why is this house so big?  And within a day I realized that God knows me much better than I know myself.  I only needed my own space for the first 2 or 3 months, just to make it my own and have the privacy for my own healing process.  But when I contemplated the long term, I didn’t want to live alone.  So, God took care of that for me, too.

I didn’t want to post something on line and have a bunch of strangers to contend with – I was feeling pretty vulnerable.  So, I told my new friend from church that I was looking for a room mate.  She said she knew a friend who might need a place.  Meanwhile, that friend, an entrepreneur and business owner, was talking to her employee about her moving up to St Augustine to be a more active part of the business.  The entrepreneur said she would pray about finding the right place for the employee to live and went straight into her daily Agnihotra ritual.  After her fire and prayers she got back to her computer and had received the email from my new friend from church asking if she knew anyone who needed a place to live.  And voila, my perfect room mate was found.  So, 4 months after moving in – in fact just one week after I started feeling like I didn’t want to be alone anymore – my new room mate moved in, and she is the sweetest most harmonious house mate I can imagine.

p550098514-3I could never manifest or orchestrate all these things on my own!  I could never even come up with knowing what to ask for as perfectly as God has given me all the wonderful parts of my new life.  All I had to do was to pray with sincerity, stay in a state of trust and gratitude and be open to receive.  And God can manifest a much better and more beautiful life than anything I can dream up.

 

 

Manifesting: You Only Need One

concept, money tree on grassI don’t think a whole lot about “manifesting.”  It might be because I have gone to too many new age type “spiritual” gatherings only to find an imbalance of focus – not so much on love, compassion or God and a bit too much on “manifesting abundance” for ourselves.  But I have had a few realizations in the last few months and I will share them over the next few days as part of my NaBloPoMo daily postings.

One realization is that you only need one of whatever it is you are looking for, for the most part (except for shoes).

My house mate is currently in the process of looking for a job and the other day someone was saying to her that St Augustine is such a small town that there just aren’t many jobs, there isn’t a huge job market like there is in a big city like Jacksonville.  But in thinking about that I told her – just remember that you only need one job.  You don’t need there to be a huge job market, you don’t need lots and lots of jobs, you only need the one job that is right for you.

That evening, in order to drive this point home, the universe continued to demonstrate this for us in the form of parking spots.

Parking in downtown St Augustine is notoriously scarce – the nations oldest city was built before there were automobiles so parking was not an issue considered by the city planners back then.  Downtown St Augustine on Halloween is notoriously busy – busier than almost any other evening of the year with costumed people meandering about like the whole downtown is one big block party.  Yet, when we drove into town with our friends we said “we only need one parking spot” and lo and behold, that one car was leaving and giving us that one parking spot just as we drove into the plaza.

Our next stop was the Ice Plant, another business notorious for their small parking lot, and right in front of the main entrance there was that one spot just waiting for us.

An hour later we again ventured back to the downtown where there were pedestrian traffic jams in certain areas and again, that one parking space just a block away from our destination.funny-tiny-car-parking

The next day we drove up to Trader Joe’s and it was packed – as we drove into the parking lot my room-mate pointed out the cars that had illegally parked in the grass on the side of the building because it was so full – but as we pulled up there was that one parking spot exactly in front of the automatic sliding doors.

At this point we were both amazed.

I found this to be true in my own job search a few months ago.  I was told by several people how hard it is to find a job in this town: new friends I just met, some lady petting my dog and a waitress where I was having lunch.  I thought to myself – well, I know I was guided to move here and so there must be the right job for me. I didn’t want to buy into any kind of limited thinking.  I was too busy being grateful for this new life I was creating for myself in this new town I loved to have time for fear or worry.

I looked at the on-line job postings and there wasn’t much that seemed exciting to me.  But instead of being discouraged, I just looked on-line for the businesses or companies in town I’d like to work for and I made a list.  I stopped by to introduce myself and drop off my resume whether they were hiring or not.  One holistic healing clinic I went into said – “oh, you’re the first response to our ad.” Apparently they had just posted a job opening that morning.  Another business wasn’t really hiring but they liked my resume so much they started trying to create a position for me – but then I got a call from the local college, the first choice on my list, asking if I’d like to take a temporary job for two months while someone went out on medical leave.

So – I started at the college thinking that this “boring” temporary position would lead me to a permanent job in a more “interesting” department within the college.  Maybe I could infiltrate the Religion and Philosophy department.  Maybe I could work with college events or the literary journal or the art museum… I just kept moving forward, knowing that of course God had something good in store for me – after all, He had given me my first choice of employer within a couple of weeks of me looking.

It turns out my permanent job is actually the “boring”  position that I started out in, and it’s perfect.  It is not a job I would have sought, it’s not one I would have gotten excited about applying for if it had been posted – but it is the perfect job for me.  I have zero stress, I have evenings and weekends to spend time with my nieces and nephews, to blog and to focus on Unity & Peace.  In short – it is the perfect job to give me the most amount of time and emotional energy to focus on what matters to me most in life.  And God knew that.  I didn’t.  And I didn’t need St Augustine to have a huge booming job market, I only needed the one perfect job for me.

woman-field-sun_0Some of my friends and acquaintances in town are amazed at how quickly I found such a good job in this little town.  The same is true for how easily I found such a nice place to live (“It’s so hard to find housing in the downtown area, things go so fast.”), which is the topic of tomorrow’s post (yes, it’s a link to the future! Actually, it won’t work until tomorrow).  And I’ve heard the same thing on many other topics – “it’s so hard to meet a good man in this town, there are so many more cool spiritual women than there are men,” but I really am not a polygamist and I don’t need lots of cool men, just one.  “It’s too hard to find a meeting place for peace meditations in the downtown area, it’s so expensive and restrictive,” but when I called the city the very helpful woman told me the beautiful grassy fountain area in front of City Hall is free speech space and is not only available but free.  “It’s so hard to find a good room-mate, there are so many college students who are flaky and unreliable,” but I am not living with so many college students, I only need one room-mate and God found me the perfect one.

So no matter what limitations are presented to me as just “how it is” – my answer is, I only need one.

Master Peachy – Wise Dog of God

Peachy runningMy little Peachy doesn’t just add an immeasurable amount of love and healing into my life and into the world (being the Light Warrior that she is), she also has a lot to teach me if I pay attention.

Peachy has no limited thinking.  She fully believes that she can catch that squirrel, that lizard or even that bird that is flying 20 feet up in the air.  She walks through life, and through the park, without any self-imposed limitations that encumbers her with self-doubt, second guessing or hesitation.

Peachy goes all in.  When she sees that squirrel, that lizard or that bird she holds nothing back – she commits herself fully, running with all the strength and speed her four little legs can muster.  She is focused on her singular goal – catch the squirrel.  She has no distractions, no day dreams, no worries about the future, no grumbles about the past – she is fully in the moment and fully engaged in catching that squirrel.

Peachy has no disappointment or regret.  Once the squirrel has disappeared up the tree, as it always does, she moves on.  She does not beat herself up or get angry at either herself or the squirrel or the world for the outcome – she let’s go and smells the next bush.

Peachy does not hang onto the past.  The very next squirrel she sees she runs after with every bit of fervor and belief in her abilities as all the previous squirrels that she did not catch.

Peachy does not let herself be defined by societal standards of size or strength.  Just because she weighs 7 pounds and is a little fluff ball of a lap dog does not keep her from speaking her mind and telling those two 120 pound Rottweilers a thing or two.

Peachy w stickPeachy is efficient and uses resources to their fullest.  If you have stopped petting her and your hands are just laying idly in your lap, wasting time doing nothing at all, she will place her little nose under your hand and nudge it upwards over her head, essentially petting herself.

Peachy is content with simple things.  She doesn’t focus on what she doesn’t have, she doesn’t have desire for new and shiny toys.  She plays with the same old bunny, the hand-me-down from her cousin Pixie, the one who has had it’s ears sewn back on numerous times.  I bought her many other shiny flashy toys because I still have desires for new things, but she’s happy with the one that smells really good (to her) and has dirt all over it.

Peachy finds happiness in every day things.  She does not get bored or negative.  Every single time I pick up the leash she gets so excited she jumps up and down, she runs back and forth, she runs in circles – she never says “really?  another walk?  can’t we do something else for a change?”  Going for a walk is the most exciting and glorious thing that could ever happen to her, every time it happens.

Peachy doesn’t take anything or anyone for granted.  She maintains her relationships with a steady consistent show of appreciation.  Every time I come home she is just as happy to see me.  Even though I come home at least once if not twice every day and I have come home approximately 488 times since I got her – every time she wags her tail, runs around my legs and jumps up and down to greet me.

Peachy fulfills her mission of bringing love to the world effortlessly.  She does not work hard or try hard to be a good person – she just is (and yes, she is a person, a wonderful little dog person).  She doesn’t have to effort or struggle or go through a whole process to do the right thing.  There is no decision to make – she just IS love.  She makes the world a better place just by being who she is.

Peachy is a little Buddha, a wise one, a Dog of God.

Peachy meditation

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu ~ May All Beings Everywhere Be Happy

Amma prayersAbout 3 weeks ago I was browsing Facebook.  I have my doubts about the merits of Facebook, as when I spend too much time flipping through post upon post I feel my brain turn to mush and my productivity draining out of me, yet I do believe, when used responsibly, it can be a force for good.  And here is the proof.

On this occasion I came across a picture of Amma standing amid a crowd and the caption said she was leading the chant “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu,” – a sanskrit chant that is translated as “May All Beings in All the Worlds be Peaceful and Happy.”

It was just a quick glance, I didn’t even click on the “read more” option and scrolled down to the squirrel in front of the Buddha statue and the mini-pig jumping in a pool.  I regretfully admit that I spent more time watching the video of the dog walking on its front legs for a full two minutes peeing than I did reading the post from Amma’s Facebook page.  But through the mercy and blessing of Amma, after I saw that picture I all of a sudden had that chant stuck in my head.

I have had chants stuck in my head before after attending a community satsang or burning a hole in my Krishna Das CD. But this was unusual because it’s not a chant I have chanted before and it’s not a chant I even knew at the time – yet I found it repeating itself in my head even as I was scrambling for the words.  It was like my mind was involuntarily half-mumbling this chant over and over, all of this going on internally as I was busy going about my day.

After a couple of hours of mumbling a chant I didn’t know I looked it up on you tube and found this version by Wah – and then I had something to listen to on the outside that matched what was going on inside.

Since I was being given this blessing (it is infinitely better to have a sacred chant stuck in your head than for example a song “all about that bass” which can also happen) – I gratefully learned the chant and joined in with my conscious mind whenever I did not have some other task requiring mental concentration.  I chanted under my breath at my desk at work.  I chanted as I drove to and from work or anywhere else for that matter.  I chanted as I walked my dog Peachy in the evenings.  I chanted as I cooked dinner in my kitchen.  I chanted as I brushed my teeth morning and evening.  And for almost two weeks I felt the chant going constantly in the background even as I was engaged in conversation or attending meetings at work.Amma 14

In first reading the meaning of the chant, it seems like a prayer – like a request, asking God or the universe or some all-powerful being somewhere for all beings everywhere to be peaceful and happy.  So I thought, great – what a good thing to do as I’m walking across campus to pick up the business department mail – even if it looks like I’m mumbling to myself, I might as well be praying for peace and happiness for all.  But as I continued to chant “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” I started feeling that it is much more than a prayer – it is a state of consciousness.

In chanting those words I was getting in touch with the part of God that holds for the peace and happiness of all souls, of all Her children.  I was noticing that each time I sat down to meditate I had an easier time going into a state of peacefulness, slipping right into a calm steady happiness as soon as I closed my eyes.  One time when I took Peachy down to the fort I sat down on the grass with some live musician playing in the background and plenty of tourists milling about, and as soon as I closed my eyes and focused on the chant I could feel the vastness and eternity of God that is IN and behind and underneath everything as this state of peaceful happiness.  I could feel this chant as God holding everyone – all beings in all the worlds – with this loving happy presence of peace.  I could feel all the tourists around me, the musician playing across the street, all the people in all of St Augustine being held in this Presence.  And not just now, but beyond time.  It was like I could feel this constant loving Presence of happiness holding all beings through all of time – through the most ancient days of this ancient city, I could feel this Presence, somehow connected from where I was sitting to these men and women from long ago.

I realized that this chant is not just a prayer – it is not just asking “May all beings in all the worlds be peaceful and happy.”  It is the actual state of consciousness of Peace and Happiness that is just a click away from all of us – right next to us, right under every cell of our beings – there It is, just waiting for us to shift, to let go into It.  So, in chanting this prayer we can merge with God’s own wish for all beings everywhere to live in peace and happiness, and in praying the same prayer God prays, we become just a little bit closer to God ourselves.

Amma 10Just a few days after this experience I saw yet another post that read “Amma’s intention is that each person somehow grow closer to God.”  So, for this blessing, I thank Ammachi and Facebook!

Peachy Keen, Light Warrior

image(1)Back in March I got a little rescue dog and after knowing her for the last 6 months I ask myself – who rescued who?

Peachy Keen is a tiny little 7 pound fuzz ball of a Light Warrior.

She is cute.  I am not the only one who says she is the cutest dog they have ever seen, so it’s a fact – she is cute.  On the show “Cosmos,” Niel DeGrasse Tyson said that cuteness was a beneficial evolutionary trait in dogs because the cuter they were the more their humans would feed them – so my little Peachy is the pinnacle of canine evolution.  But I see how she is taking an active part in the evolution of humankind, as well.

Everywhere we go, people smile. I see how we walk by all these people and they instantly smile, make cooing noises, come up to pet her and just melt.  People’s faces light up with just a little bit more joy than they felt before seeing her. Sometimes they just half smile and silently walk by, sometimes they utter loud exclamations – “oh my God, what a cutie!” Sometimes they call to their spouses or children to make sure that they, too, get a chance to look at this adorable little dog. Big tattooed biker dudes giggle with glee and rub her belly.  One time a lady told her husband to pull over and stop the car so she could get out and say hello to Peachy. My dog opens hearts wherever she goes and brings more love and happiness into the world every day.  It’s actually a very high service that I strive to attain – and Peachy does it naturally just by being Peachy.

But she does more than that. She’s a little healer. I cannot tell you how many times Peachy has helped me keep my heart open in order to let some pretty tough emotions pass through. Sometimes something is stirred up in me, some emotion or issue from the past percolating and bubbling around as a murky uncomfortable feeling of I don’t know what, just below the surface – and then little Peachy runs up to me with her tail wagging, her eyes just loving me. All of a sudden I shift my focus to how much I love this little being and my heart bursts wide open and all the emotions that might otherwise have gotten trapped or stuck come rushing out and get released. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I laugh at the ‘duh’ of some obvious realization – but somehow by not shutting my heart down, by shifting into giving love, I have some kind of resolution.

Peace bean bagPeachy also protects me from negative energies! Yes – she barks and tries to protect me from the UPS guy, random people walking by our house and the thunder – but that is not what I’m talking about. For many years I have heard how radiating love is the best protection from any negative energies or thought forms. But if you’re having negative thought forms run around in your head or you’re feeling negative energy flying around – sometimes it’s hard to just start radiating love. A couple of weeks ago I was feeling in a funk – I was grumpy, I was having negative thoughts, I kept getting paper cuts and bumping into things, and it just kept going. Pretty soon I was starting to feel anger – anger that didn’t feel like me, that didn’t feel like who I am or who I want to be. So – I started paying attention and I started setting my intention to clear my energy.  I did some chanting, some breathing, some offering up – I still felt pretty funky. I walked around the corner into the living room and there was Peachy curled up in her little blue bean bag. All of a sudden I was overcome with how much I love her and poof – negativity gone! In an instant! I didn’t even have to try. Thanks to my little dog I was quite naturally and spontaneously radiating love!

Love is an amazing force. And keeping the heart open is such an instrumental key in any process of healing, awakening or happiness.  And I am witness to how much having my little Peachy in my life is helping me.  I know it sounds cute and fuzzy, and it is – but it’s real.  Does it qualify as a spiritual practice?  Is having a dog a part of my awakening?  From my own experience I would have to say yes.

So – I am a firm believer that all these cute little dogs and cats that we have in our lives are actually beings of very high service. When I think about how much more happy I am, how much more I smile, how much more I laugh, how much more love I feel on a daily basis because of Peachy I am amazed. And when you multiply that by however many pet owners there are in the world… and all the people we walk by on the sidewalk… and all those darn cute videos on you tube… think about the magnitude of the vibration of love that these little beings are contributing to our collective world!  Even though I feel almost silly writing this post about my dog, it’s seriously astounding.

 

P.S. To add a furry friend into your family – please rescue, don’t give any money to the incredibly inhumane puppy mill industry – you’ll be rescued in return.

Thank you to V.I.P Pet Rescue of Florida for finding my little Peachy

Locally:  S.A.F.E Pet Rescue

Anywhere:  Pet Finder

 

 

Are Meditators Cooler than Other People?

vinyasa-yogaNo.

I know when the question is asked so bluntly the answer is obvious, but judgment can be a sneaky thing and it has been known to crawl into a spiritual community or two.

When I lived in the New Age mecca of Asheville, NC I had a friend who whenever I would mention someone I met he would ask “is he a meditator?” as if that is the question that divides the worthy from the unworthy. The same friend made a pact with an equally “spiritual” friend that they were going to be enlightened in 6 months – yes, they set a date. His reasoning was that “I Am God” so I can decide and I decide to be enlightened and if I decide, then it will be so! They also felt that Christ or Angels or Masters or any “intermediaries” were an unnecessary distraction because “I Am” and therefore I can go direct to the Godhead!

At the same time I was taking classes in “energy studies” and going to group “awakening activation” circles (parts of my spiritual path that gave me a great deal and that I am very thankful for). My main teacher at the time was my massage school instructor, Craig, who also taught Merkabah meditations and beautifully shared his passion for how the physical anatomy of the brain corresponded to ancient Vedic poetry about awakening. At one Tibetan bowl ringing circle we were meditating in the midst of the sound waves and the Divine Presence was palpable. The moment I remember the clearest was when Craig walked by me and leaned in and said “There is the God that I Am and then there is the God that I ain’t!” It was his way of saying that there is a God that is more glorious, more benevolent and just more friggin AWESOME than we could ever contain!

I remember that moment often. And I feel that one moment taught me something vitally important.  I feel that humility is such an essential quality on a spiritual path, and it is very rarely talked about. Maybe that is because it’s hard to point out humility or you end up looking very Uriah Heepish calling attention to how “umble” you are. Or maybe humility is just by nature a meeker spiritual quality and doesn’t call attention to itself as much as courage, knowledge or rigorous self-discipline.

Or maybe it’s because it’s not a very popular concept in the Westernized spiritual talk of being “co-creators”, of “manifesting abundance” for ourselves and “I Am God” consciousness, or even the slightly removed “I Am One with God.” And yes, of course, in absolute truth we are all the “I Am” – but when that deep spiritual truth is co-opted by the small ego self, it’s not pretty. And sometimes “spiritual” people can behave just as judgmental and petty as high school teenagers.

It’s a strange dichotomy in our culture. On one side we have this struggle to feel worthy of our Divinity, worthy of God’s Love and Benevolent Grace and all the beauty and peace God wants to shower upon us – the “not enough” that is engrained in us. And on the other side we have this over the top spiritual arrogance of claiming we are God before we have purified our consciousness enough to have that be an actual manifested reality. Because even if something is true in absolute reality – i.e. that we are One with God – it doesn’t mean we ACT that way – and acting that way is how we ACTUALIZE it.  And actually doing that takes a lot of emptying, surrender and well, humility.

And that is the goal, isn’t it? That is why we meditate, contemplate, pray and work on ourselves – so that we can embody more of the qualities of the Divine – love, compassion, joy, light, peace and bliss – so that we can really act like we are made in God’s image. But it is very important to remember that loving kindness and compassion are what matters, and if you get there by meditating or by praying or by just being a good person with a loving heart, so what?  Who are we to judge?

sistersI look at my sisters and their families and they are beautiful people and I think they wouldn’t mind me saying they have never meditated a day in their life. I always thought of myself as the “spiritual one” – but I see how much good they create in the world and I am humbled. They have both created lives of harmony and good families – lives where their kids don’t know what yelling is. When they had their children they decided they didn’t want to re-create our upbringing of yelling and screaming and “not enough.” They applied themselves, read books, really thought about the choices they would make as parents and became conscious mothers. Their kids feel loved and respected and are being healed of the “not enough.”

My sisters do not have any pretense about being spiritual, yet they are changing humanity! The generational shift is amazing! They did not say – “I Am consciousness itself, I am going to change the world” – their only motivation was loving their children and wanting to create a better emotional life for them, and it IS changing the world.

So, I have decided to redefine what being “spiritual” means to me. It’s easy to get attached to this thought of being spiritual, almost as if spirituality has become a status symbol as much as a Mercedes or a Gucci bag. But it’s not about being the person who does yoga on the beach at 7am or who meditates for an hour every day. It is more about being compassionate. It is more about just making conscious loving choices in daily life. And I thank my sisters for not even trying to be spiritual but just being part of the evolution of the human race! It is humbling and beautiful to witness.