Friday, August 5, 2016

The Tao, the Link is with us always

"Caught in our prejudices,
we act as puppets,
moving in lockstep
to the beat of commerce.

All emerges from the Tao,
all returns to the Tao in time.
Meanwhile darkness deepens,
bringing fear and despair.
Darkness faced, however,
opens into daylight."

William Martin, The Activist's Tao Te Ching, p.11

A Course in Miracles teaches that here on earth we have a dichotomous mind which loves contrast, comparison, the ying and yang, but this is not so in heaven where all is one with God. It is written in A Course In Miracles, "Contrast and differences are necessary teaching aids, for by them you learn what to avoid and what to seek. When you have learned this, you will find the answer that makes the need for differences disappear. When you have learned that you belong to truth, it will flow lightly over you without a difference of any kind." T-13.XI,6:3-6

Awareness is the quality of mind which brings peace. Higher awareness, sometimes called higher consciousness, is the goal of life culminating in what some call enlightenment. ACIM assures us that the link between ourselves and God cannot be broken even if we wish it broken. "The Communication Link that God Himself placed within you, joining your mind with His, cannot be broken. You may believe you want It broken, and this belief does interfere with the deep peace in which the sweet and constant communication God would share with you is known." T-13.XI.8:1-2

For today, pay attention to the divine spark within you, the Link. It is there, it always will be there, and like a spark it can be fanned into flame, holy fire of illumination and energy which lights up the world.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

What makes human beings love war so?

"Ideas, concepts, and words
have separated us from life.
Masquerading as friends,
they have made us enemies
of each other."

William Martin, The Activist's Tao Te Ching, p.11

We fight with each other and hate each other and injure and even kill each other and we do not even know why. Emotions of the moment drive us to evil for which we can only grieve and lament. And after all the carnage, things seem to right themselves and we go back to living as if it never happened. What makes humans beings fight war? If not with guns, then with words.

Will human beings ever become more aware and in control of their emotions and reason? Most human beings are not very spiritually developed.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Will you play the role of the enlightened witness and save the soul of America?

We usually think of the soul as an individual thing but then we recognize such a thing as team spirit and the soul of a nation. There is such a thing as group consciousness, and we recognize the concept of a "culture" as being a helpful idea.

The soul of a nation can be thought of as made up of the predominant norms and attitudes, values, beliefs, and practices. These norms and attitudes, values, beliefs, and practices can be further thought of as dysfunctional or functional, functional meaning that they enhance the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual functioning of the individuals who participate in that culture.

Once looked at from this perspective, the question can be asked, "does racism enhance the functioning of the members of a culture? The answer based on research is no. Racism has a negative impact on the person with the racist belief as much as it has a negative impact on the target.

The problem is that people with racist attitudes are not aware of how the racism negatively impacts them and others. If they were more aware they would no longer allow racism to influence their thoughts, attitudes, values, and behavior.

The problem of racism evidenced by the building of walls and the demonizing of groups of people is that it corrupts the functional soul of America. It brings suffering on us all and by extension to the whole world.

What is to be done about racism?

It must be identified, acknowledged, and treated to diminish, if not eliminate, its influence on our culture. There are many ways to treat racism once it has been diagnosed. The best way is by the introduction of alternative stories which are positive about the people in the groups being oppressed and subjugated. Empathic understanding comes from getting to know "the other" better which dissolves racist ideas at their core. The understanding that we are all God's children, unconditionally loved is key. This empathic understanding may need to come first from changing people's behavior. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that he had no illusions about changing the attitudes of a racist. He was not intending to simply change their attitudes, but he wanted to change their behavior. The civil rights act made many racist practices of segregation illegal. Walling people off is more a symbolic than a practical solution to creating security and safety when people have been influenced to fear "the other."

The spiritually aware can make a huge difference in a culture by being what is called "enlightened witnesses." They are the soothers, the reassures, the ones who manifest compassion and loving kindness.

With whom can you share your witness today?

For more on the role of enlightened witness in society click here.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The soul of America

The sexism, bigotry, racism, greed, hatred and xenophobia that emanated from the United States Republican Convention this past week from July 18 - 21, 2016 calls into question the soul of America.

The observation that these ideas are supported by a group of Americans might lead one to question the spiritual well being of part of the nation.

It is too easy to say "let us pray for them". It also is condescending and patronizing because these misguided people are part of us and deserve out love, compassion, and acceptance, but we also have an obligation to set appropriate limits and hold accountable those who advocate for hate and would hurt groups of people.

How does one set appropriate limits and work to decrease and maybe even eliminate the racism, sexism, bigotry, xenophobia, and vanity that was spewed encouraging followers to lock up and even kill people who oppose these evil ideas?

The first and most important step is identifying and naming the evil. Demonization and exclusion promise safety, security, and increased well being, but they do not deliver what they promise. Usually demonization and exclusion beget more of the same and a tit for a tat dynamic is generated which is destructive for all participants no matter which side is taken.

Second, Jesus tells us, counter-intuitively, that we should love our enemies. Demonization and exclusion protest that this makes no sense and will only increase the risk of harm and yet, at a spiritual level, if one has achieved the higher levels of spirituality, one is aware of paradox, and recognizes that the fear injected into us is an illusion because as a spiritual being we realize that harm and death to our spirits are not real. We have just unthinkingly believed it.

Third, given the awareness of the tricks that demonization and exclusion are playing on us, we laugh at the silliness of the situation. The risk that demonization and exclusion claim to protect us from never existed. It is a figment of our imaginations being triggered by fear mongering so that we will give up our power to those who would dominate and control us, and profit from us.

Fourth, we make another choice. We choose love, compassion, brotherhood, and inclusion because we know that we are all in this thing called Life together and our fulfillment comes from helping each other achieve the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Moving in this direction our spiritual health as a nation will be nurtured.

Fifth, we act in ways to include, to nurture, to support, to lift up and build up all people, everywhere. In short, loving kindness will restore the soul of America and we can do things every day to manifest this in our daily lives enhancing the lives of others as well as ourselves. This is how God will bless America working through the loving kindness manifested in our mutual lives together.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

"Life isn't fair!"

Joan complained to me "It's not fair. How can God allow these things to happen!?"

Joan is at stage 2 using James Fowler's model of stages of faith development. Stage 2 is what he calls "Mythic-literal." In every day speech, people at his stage of faith development are called "fundamentalists."

Fundamentalists believe in the literal interpretation of what they consider to be sacred texts, the revealed words of their God. They also believe in an orderly world based on reciprocity and fairness, an eye for eye, the Code of Hammurabi.

This stage of faith is very soothing for believers because it makes order out of what they perceive to be a chaotic world and thus reduces their anxiety and enhances a sense of security and predictability. People in recovery from addictions find this stage of faith very helpful in reorganizing their lives in a more constructive way. Also children in elementary school years find this stage of faith development helpful in creating rules and roles they should play and expect others to play as they make sense out of an unfamiliar and sometimes threatening world.

Stage 2 faith works for a while with its literalness and articulated understanding of fairness, but it can't last forever because life is full of paradox and is not always just and then what is a person to do, believe, and how is a person to manage mixed feelings?

For today take comfort in what you understand to be the order of the universe and what you understand to be fair and just, but remain open and flexible if contradictions, paradoxes, and injustice come your way. Life is not to lived based on a recipe or a protocol. It is to be lived as an adventure and in the last analysis as a mystery.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Why are there people in the world?

James Fowler in his book, Stages of Faith, asks a child of ten, "Why are there people in the world?" and she answers, "People in the world? Let's see. If there weren't any people, there wouldn't really be a world. And if there wasn't a world then the world would be blank. I mean everything - that's a tough question. Let's see. Why would there be people.?" p. 137

A follow up question to the same child was what the world would be like if she wasn't in it.

It's one thing to mess around with kids asking them these questions, but I got to imagining how the average adult in the United States in 2016 would answer these questions; Why are there people in the world, and how would the world be different if you weren't in it?

I would guess that the answers would run something along these lines: people are in the world to make it a better place and to help bring God's creation to perfection, and I'm here to assist in this process.

And then, I began to wonder if this is true. If it is, it is rarely reflected in our media, our politics, our arts these days.

I met a man from Australia in Washington, DC at Arlington Cemetery traveling with his family for a month in the United States and I asked him what stood out for him in his visit to the states and he said, "How courteous and polite and friendly everyone is."

I said, "You'd never know it from the media what with Donald Trump wanting to wall off Mexicans and keep out the Muslims," and the man said to me, "we have our conservative politicians in  Australia too" and dismissed the subject.

Of my five day trip to Washington, DC, my encounter with this man was the high point of my trip. I wonder what he would have said in response to the questions about why there are people in the world and how would it be different if he weren't in it. I feel blessed by my encounter and I am certainly glad he is in the same world I am in and I had a chance to meet him.

Friday, July 15, 2016

If you would find your real life, lose the counterfeit one with all the drama

A friend of mine asked , Jesus says in Matthew 10:39 "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." It is written in the seventh chapter of the Tao Te Ching that because the master has let go of himself, he is perfectly fulfilled. These statements seem paradoxical, contradictory. I don't get it. What do they mean?

I tried to answer as best I could because I'm not sure I get it either, at least not in my dichotomous mind which wants to reduce things to their component parts and think things through in a logical way. 

In order to understand the paradox of losing your life to find it, you have to think systemically and intuitively. It has been taught in A Course In Miracles, and in other mystical traditions, that the ego world is not real. We have made it up when we separated ourselves from godliness. We did this when we thought we knew better than God. This separation is alluded to in the book of Genesis when Adam and Eve ate the apple from the tree of knowledge. The so called "original sin" was thinking that we can create our own universe apart from God and as we become more aware and conscious we come to realize that our creations, our drama on the ego plane, is not real and not what we really want. In fact we often experience our ego creations and drama as hell. Jesus says to us simply, "drop it." This so called "life" you have created with all its drama, pain, and suffering is just nonsense. You cannot find your real life until you get rid of this false life which you have made up and participate in. As you point out, it says the same thing in the Tao Te Ching. We can't be fulfilled until we let the bull shit go.

One of my favorite bumper stickers says, "Don't believe everything you think." A lot of the stuff we think and then believe is fraudulent, counterfeit, not the real deal. Both Jesus and the Tao Te Ching are teaching us to detach from the life on the ego plane which we have created in our own minds.

So, for today, let go and let God as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous. Surrender to your Higher Power whatever you conceive your Higher Power to be. Admit that your life is unmanageable and let go and let God. While it is scary to do this at first, being willing to surrender to the Will of God, to the Tao brings blessed peace.