Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The right decision in the end

When I was a child, about the age of 10, it dawned on me that "It's not a bad life if you know how to live it." Where this aphorism came from, I have no idea. I don't remember anybody telling me this. I just seemed to understand this from my intuitive mind. The aphorism arose from my "inner well." It seemed a right understanding then and it still does at age 72 all these years later.

Now, after all these years, I have a better understanding of what this aphorism means. According to A Course In Miracles, I can live my life on the path of the ego or the path of the spirit. I have tried, since age 14, to live according to the path of the spirit, and have learned how to do this reflecting on my experience.

Experience has been a great teacher. Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living." I have tried to live an examined life. To live an examined life, the person has to admit that (s)he doesn't know. Knowing that you don't know is the first step on the path of the spirit. Knowing that you don't know, and that other people don't either, leads one to no longer trust the path of the ego to provide the satisfaction and fulfillment of the good life.

Throughout my life I have been well aware that bull shit abounds. Bull shit is abundant and we live our lives sinking deeper and deeper into it until we, sometimes desperately, become aware that there must be a better way. With this awareness, what I call, "the dawning," we initiate a search. We become a seeker for what that better way might be. I call this initiation of the search, "the turning." "The turning" is the turn from the path of the ego to the path of the spirit.

"The turning" is easier and ultimately must involve our asking our "Higher Power" for guidance. There are many formula's human beings have created for this requesting. One of my favorites is "What would Love have me do?" or more simply, "What is the loving thing?"

In the Christian prayer, the Our Father, we say in part, "...Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Bringing my will into alignment with what I think is God's will brings peace and joy and the "good life" which I have been seeking.

Sometimes my ego objects to my doing God's will. Doing God's will can fill me with fear sometimes and yet I have found that to move ahead in faith, in spite of the ego's objections, has always been the right decision in the end.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The path to peace

In leading the spiritual life there are some practices that guide us on the path of the spirit.

The first practice is one of intention. When you wake up in the morning simply ask yourself what kind of a day do you wish to have. Will it be one of love, compassion, forgiveness and peace or a day of anger, judgment, attack, and rancor?

If you decide for a day of love, compassion, forgiveness, and peace ask for the help of the Spirit so that you do not make decisions yourself based on the ego but rather ask the Spirit what would Love have me do?

This action, at first, will fill you with fear especially if the response is not what your ego expected and desired. However, trust the Spirit, and continue in faith that Love is the most powerful path of all. This is the path to peace.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Pick your idols carefully

It is written in A Course In Miracles, "The slave of idols is a willing slave. For willing he must be to let himself bow down in worship to what has not life, and seek power in the powerless." T-29.IX. 1:1-2

Referring to money, the cliche is "You can't take it with you."

Referring to power, British politician Lord Acton said, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Referring to physical beauty we know that beauty fades.

And yet we humans invest such meaning and significance in our idols and we miss the interior divine connection.

It is written further in the same section of ACIM, "Little child, the light is there. You do but dream, and idols are the toys you dream you play with. Who has the need of toys but children? They pretend they rule the world, and give their toys power to move about, and talk and think and feel and speak for them. Yet everything their toys appear to do is in the minds of those who play with them." T-29.IX.4:3-7

The bumper sticker reads, "Those with the most toys when they die, wins."

The bumper sticker is sarcastic. It is meant to be funny but it is sad and depressing. Is this really what our lives are about? Who wants to live in such a world?

Pick your idols carefully. Better yet, give them up. Set them aside. Hospice nurses tell us that no dying person every said that they wished they worked more. They all say they wish they'd spent more time with their family and friends.

Leave the path of the ego and take the path of the spirit. You and the world will be better off for your choosing the later.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

You are okay just the way you are

What does Unitarian Universalism teach about idols? Francis David, the founder of the Unitarian Church in Transylvania in the 16th century said, "We don't have to think alike to love love alike. Francis David brushed the idols aside and taught that they make no difference, they are not important, hardly worthy of our attention. The important thing is love.

A Course In Miracles teaches that there are many paths to God. The theology is not important. The experience is.

The question is asked in A Course In Miracles, "What is an idol?" The question made me smile and chuckle.

I thought to myself, "An idol is anything that we substitute for God."  We put our idols in front of God all the time because we think our idols will supply what we lack and give us something that will make us happy.

Idols can be money, sex, power, fame, religion, food, gambling, sports, you name it.

I wonder about people who walk around with sports paraphernalia adorning their bodies as if these images enhance their self worth, self esteem, self confidence by not just identifying with a sports team and a player but pretending to be them at some point, an athlete, or a member of the team they idolize.

One of America's favorite reality TV show is even called "American Idol." Whoever is named this year's American Idol will only last for a temporary period until we are on to finding a new idol next season. Idols come and go. They distract us from more substantive questions like why was I born, what is the purpose of my life, what happens to me when I die, what will be my loved one's understanding of what my life was about after I die, what do I think God would want me to do?

The underlying dynamic of idolization is that idols, no matter what they are, divide people from one another; they don't bring people together. Idols set up dynamics of competitiveness, jealousy, envy, exclusion and even animosity, resentment, and attack.

Idols are like the clouds that block the divine rays of God shining on us like the sun. God is always there for us if we would look within, but we look without, looking for love in all the wrong places.

Give up your belief in idols. Turn your attention and focus on the God within and within your brothers and sisters. You are okay just the way you are.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Est quid est

What if there were no time? What if time disappeared and things just were the way they are and that's that?

What if the Buddhist expression, which has become popular in our contemporary time, "it is what it is", is true?

Peace descends and we rise above the turmoil of change on the ego plane. We enter a blissful awareness born of forgiveness of the ego world.

Is this heaven? It matters not what we call it. It simply is what it is. That's it. Period. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Looking for Love in all the wrong places

There are times when we are quiet and still that we sense there is something more deep in us and in other people.That something more is the glimmer of the divine. We want it desperately and we search for it usually in all the wrong places.

Johnny Lee's great song "Looking for love in all the wrong places" sums up the problem succinctly in an entertaining way.

That "something more" is not to found on the path of the ego. It is not external to us where all we find is counterfeit. What we find is "fool's gold." What we find may be temporarily pleasurable but then becomes boring once we are satiated. We come to realize that pleasure is not the same thing as joy and while joy is better, joy is not the same thing as bliss and bliss is what we seek and is to be found in the union with the Beloved.

A Course In Miracles teaches that bliss is to be found in the miracle and the miracle is simply a choice to perceive at the level of spirit rather than ego. The level of spirit is Love. We simply ask "What would Love have me do?" "What would Love have me see?" "What is the Loving thing deep in myself and in my brothers and sisters?"

As the Beatles say, "Love is all you need." However, we have to be on the path of spirit to see it within which means we have to turn back from looking for love in all the wrong places.

 

Monday, February 12, 2018

If we are to be happy we must be born again

I could be happy if only you would do what I think you should do and if you don't, you are holding out on me because you could do what I want you to do if only you would but you won't because you don't love me. This is how we create hell.

We assign roles to people and expect them to do certain things and when they don't do them we get angry and attack them and get sad, resentful, full of grievance and recrimination. They, of course, are not doing anything to us, we, in fact, have done it to ourselves.

We are playing the game of "give to get." And then we play, "one or the other." These games litter the path of the ego. From these games great drama is created, emotions aroused, pain and suffering inflicted up to and including death.

We come to a point when we realize we don't want to play these games any more. They aren't worth it to us and we say to ourselves "there must be a better way." This slight glimmer of awareness is called, "The Dawning." It starts to dawn on us that we deserve to be happy and have a high quality life full of peace and bliss.

Recognizing that we are meant to be happy and have a high quality life, we begin to search. We become seekers and it is this turning from the path of the ego to something else that marks the beginning of a new life. It's like we're born again and like babies have to learn how to live in this world as spirits and no longer egos.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

How the miracle occurs

When we look deep into the soul of another what do we see? Don't look at their body for the body is but a container for what lies within. And when we look at the contents within the container the outer layers may be moldy and contaminated in some ways but beneath this there is a light, a divine spark like a brilliant diamond twinkling in the darkness. It is this brilliant diamond, this divine spark, like the proverbial needle in a haystack that we seek.

When the divine light within us joins with the divine spark in the other a light manifests which illuminates the world and Love has been found and a peace descends like no other.

These can be rare moments that seem serendipity until we know what we are looking for and seeking. With intention and the request of help from the Holy Spirit these moments can occur more regularly. It is taught in A Course In Miracles that awareness of this Love is our natural inheritance. It is written in principle 6 of the 50 principles of miracles, "Miracles are natural. When they do not occur something has gone wrong."

If we are to experience miracles we must choose the path of the spirit and leave the path of the ego. The path of the ego does not lead to Love. On the path of the ego we believe in "give to get" and "one or the other." These beliefs on the path of the ego take us to hell. On the path of the spirit we believe "what's mine is thine," and "one for all and all for one." The path of the spirit takes us to the peace and bliss of heaven.

Once we become aware that we have a choice about how we can live our lives, we can exercise our power in embarking on the path of the spirit which means we must leave the path of the ego behind. This is a courageous choice empowered by faith because we fear the loss of the conditioning with which we have grown accustomed. Jesus tells us we can be in the world but not off the world and in this awareness the miracle occurs.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

How to get to heaven

We love our bodies don't we? And sometimes we are attracted to and love other bodies don't we? But what we think we love is always changing and this love is ephemeral. This love is unsubstantial because the object we think we love is constantly changing and the objects we want to love, we sometimes come to hate and experience great disappointment in and consequent distress.

We slowly come to the awareness that there is much more to us than bodies and maybe it is that aspect of self and personhood that we are attracted to and love. The body is just a container for the good stuff. It is what is inside the container that we really desire and find delightful or distasteful.

We may come to the point where we realize that deep down in the container there is always something delightful even if it is encrusted in objectionable material that has to be excavated and dug through to get to the brilliant diamond within.

We come to realize that there always the brilliant diamond there but our perception was blocked and distracted by so many other things that we couldn't see it and were not consciously aware of it.

At last we come to realize that there is part of us that is a witness that doesn't change but monitors our own changes and those of others and tunes in to their witnesses too that don't change. When our witness joins with the witnesses of others we fall in real Love with them and realize that we are in heaven.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Love is not something you do; it is your state of being.

It seems paradoxical to become aware that we fear love. We are afraid of getting too close and getting hurt again. We are afraid of having our heart broken again and so we keep our distance or we become possessive and jealous and at times we even hate the ones or the things which we perceive as abandoning us or rejecting us or attacking us in some way.

It is poetic to say, "Love hurts," but that is not true if we understand what Love is. It would be more precise to say, "Ego hurts." because what we call "love" is not real Love.

Osho says, "Very few people in the world are loving, that's why there is so much misery. Everybody wants to be loving, everybody wants to be loved, but nobody learns the art of loving. It is a great art. You are born only with the potential, but potential has to be transformed into the actual. It has to be made into a reality and the first requirement is becoming more alert."

Most people don't know what love is. It is easier to say what love is not. Love is not jealous. Love is not possessive and controlling. Love is not manipulative to get one's needs met. Love is not attachment and clinging to reduce one's insecurities and fears. Love is not caring for so one can feel superior.

Love is unconditional and a sharing of one's well being and peace. Love is generous and forgiving and nurturing. Love desires the well being of the other as if the other were part of oneself. Love is kind, benevolent, and whole hearted. Love really has no definition because it is beyond definition. It's opposite is not hate but fear. Love is joining with the whole and as such love is a holy thing, a holy experience which brings peace, joy, and bliss.

Further, love is not special and not exclusive. The art of being loving is a state of being not an attitude towards a special object. We don't do love. It is not a thought, or a feeling, or a behavior. Love is a state of being. And as Stephen Gaskin said one time, the only thing, in the last analysis, we really have to offer another human being, is our own state of being.

Osho teaches that in order to become a loving being and not asleep in the ego we have to be alert. As was written on the men's room wall over the urinal, "Be a lert. The world needs more lerts."

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Brokenness is the work of the ego. It does not exist in the mind of God.

All Souls Church in Tulsa, OK has a theme based ministry meaning that all church activities focus on a different theme every month. The theme for February, 2018 is brokenness.

Leonard Cohen's great song, Anthem, has a lyric "There is crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen may have taken this idea from Rumi, the great Muslim poet.

In A Course In Miracles it is taught that the gap, the crack, the separation is the tiny mad idea of the ego. People on the path of the ego are broken, lonely, isolated, alienated, separate from their brothers and sisters and existence. People on the path of the ego have not realized and become aware that they have done this to themselves and it is unlikely to change until they become aware of the choice they have made and choose again, hopefully, for the path of the spirit which is a path of healing, reconciliation, joining with their brothers and sisters and existence.

It is a scary thing to give up one's ego, to surrender as the third of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous advises us to do, "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

This shift from the path of the ego to the path of the spirit is what A Course In Miracles calls a "miracle." The beginning of the text of A Course In Miracles lists the 50 principles of miracles. The eighth principle states, "Miracles are healing because they supply a lack; they are performed by those who temporarily have more for those who temporarily have less.."

The miracle heals the brokenness. The miracle rests in the understanding and awareness that we are participants in God's love and that essentially we lack nothing and are not broken in any way. Lack, scarcity, and brokenness only occurs on the path of the ego. The path of the spirit knows nothing of this because it is not real but illusionary.

On the path of the spirit we come to the awareness that everything is basically okay in spite of the drama we experience in our ego world.

Bottom line is that brokenness is not real. We are part of God's love which is Unconditional Love. This is the Universalist faith which we have inherited and it is our honor and privilege to extend to others.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Sanctifying the world

It is taught in A Course In Miracles that the opposite of love is fear. Fear is manifested in many ways, most often as anger, and/or guilt. Most of us do not manage our fears well.

Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent psychiatric diagnoses in the United States and the ones for which the most psychotropic medications are prescribed, and other chemicals are used to manage fears by individuals who choose to do so through self medication.

Fears are what trouble us and provide the most anguish and suffering. And the spiritual antidote for our fears is so simple, but rarely taught and recognized, let alone used.

The antidote for fear is forgiveness. It is written in A Course In Miracles, "You share no evil dreams if you forgive the dreamer, and perceive that he is not the dream he made. And so he can not be a part of yours, from which you both are free. Forgiveness separates the dreamer from the evil dream, and thus releases him." T-28.V.3:1-3

The simple formula for healing and health is, "I forgive you. I hope you can forgive me. Thank you, I love you."

It takes a big person to rise to this level of awareness and action. Most of us, stuck in our egos, are not willing and able, but there are a few who have achieved a presence of mind at this miraculous level. Seek them out. Learn from them. Emulate them. Join them in their work to sanctify the world.

Love your enemies - how?

In Murray Bowen's model of family systems, the concept of the cut off is very significant. Bowen's model is trans generational and he points out that cut-offs can go on for generations as was the case of the Capulets and the Montagues in Romeo and Juliet, or the Hatfields and the McCoys here in the United States that lead to the deadly blood feud in which many family members were killed.

Cut-offs, "estrangements," is the more common word, are very common. These estrangements are often bitter, resentful, full of grudges and recrimination, and often vengeance and retribution. Jesus, God bless Him, says that we are to love our enemies. Goodness gracious! How are we to do that? These others are bad, mad, and/or disloyal. How, in God's name, are we suppose to love them?

The first step is to recognize and acknowledge that in spite of the problems, they have inherent worth and dignity. God loves them as part of God's creation as much as God loves us. Hard to believe but true.

The second step is to be kind to them, that is civil and polite, even when we have our differences. This civil and politeness, even if not accepted and reciprocated, is its own reward because we have recognized the divine spark within the other and intentionally have made a decision to join with it.

The third step is to turn our intention over to the Holy Spirit for guidance and correction. At this point, we let go and let God. We do our best and God will do the rest. It is comforting to approach people with compassion and an open heart when our fears lead us to defend ourselves, close off our hearts, and even attack.

In the Christian prayer, the Our Father, we pray in part "...forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us......."

The fourth step is forgiveness, which simply means, to raise above and change our attitude in a loving direction in spite of what we perceive the other person as having done or is doing. Jesus says as the Romans are torturing and crucifying Him, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." If Jesus can forgive his torturers and executioners as they kill his body, it demonstrates that we, too, are capable of doing the same. They killed Jesus' body, but they couldn't kill His spirit nor can anyone kill yours unless you let them.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Changing course

The saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for because you will probably get it."

Do we really know what we want?

Most people asked what they wish for, the most common answer given is "To win millions of dollars in the lottery."

And if asked, "What would you do with your millions?" they have silly answers.

Observing this phenomenon in our materialistic world leaves me feeling sad.

We dream silly dreams. Our values, what matters to us, don't run very deep or true. And in our anguish when we see such suffering in the world, we wonder what's gone wrong.

What went wrong is our dreams. We dream silly dreams and when we get what we thought we wanted, we are miserable because the dreams we dreamt were misguided.

The dreams we dreamt were misguided because our minds are sick. Our minds have been sickened by the path of the ego which is contaminated and toxic. It does not lead us to health and happiness but to sickness and grief. You would think our societies, our cultures, our educational systems, our religions would have taught us this by now, at this point in human history. These societies, cultures, educational systems, religions either have failed us or if they, in part, tried to teach us better, we ignored those lessons and failed in our studies.

If we recognize the failure of our choice in pursuing the path of the ego, we can then consider deciding to embark on the path of the spirit. In order to set off on this path of the spirit, we have to let go off our bull shit and that scares the hell out of us. The thought of it makes us tremble. Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent psychiatric diagnoses in the United States in our times. Anxiety medications the most commonly prescribed.

However, with guidance and support, embarking on the path of the spirit is not only possible, but, once over our stage fright, fabulously satisfying, and fulfilling. We come to realize that our former lives on the path of the ego were unmanageable, and changing course to the path of the spirit makes all the difference.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Feelin groovey

Taking the path of the spirit instead of the path of the ego is not so much difficult as it is unsettling. It fills us with fear to give up that with which we have become familiar even though the familiar gives us much pain.

Once embarked on, the path of the spirit calls to us and we have a longing to return home to that from which we have come. When we can get past the hurtles and obstacles presented by our own ego, we feel the bright, calm peace of heaven to which we belong.

First we catch a glimpse of this bright, calm peace within us, and then we find ways to become aware and more centered and it becomes more than a glimpse when it becomes a more regular part of our experience, and then we become aware that we can sustain this peaceful centeredness as we go about our bodily activities, and finally we long for it to be our customary consciousness.

Some would say this awareness takes practice and yet it is attained not by striving but by excluding and removing the barriers and obstacles to Love's presence which we laughingly come to realize was there all along. We were just so pre-ocuppied and distracted that we were not aware of what was there, from which we came, and to which we are going.

So, slow down, you move too fast, you've got to make the morning last, to steal a lyric from Paul Simon and Art Garunkel's great song, the 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin groovey)


Friday, February 2, 2018

Heaven on earth

It is taught in A Course In Miracles that in our ego mind we have just made our lives up. It is written, "Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son Of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects. Together, we can laugh them both a way, and understand that time cannot intrude upon eternity. It is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity, which means there is no time." T-27.VIII.6:2-5 And it is this "tiny mad idea," that is the separation which has caused all the drama, all the problems, all the wars, all the pain and suffering, all the anguish, and grief, and sorrow. In short, it is this "tiny mad idea" that has caused hell on earth.

There is a saying, "Religion is for people afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for people who have been there." Those of us who have chosen the path of the spirit and have left the path of the ego understand the consequences of the "tiny mad idea" that we are separate from Godliness and separate from our brothers and sisters.

Forgiving our mistake thinking that the path of the ego is real and turning our attention and intention to the Love of Godliness we create for ourselves and others a heaven on earth.