Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Being Connected

I was watching a spider spin its web, admiring the intricacy and the precision going into its design.

Very clever.

It started with a single thread, forming the basis of the rest of the structure. From there, the spider released a looser thread underneath the first, attaching it at both ends before climbing to its center. From the second thread, she lowered herself down on a vertical thread to form a Y-shape.  It formed the core support structure of the entire web.

With anchored threads in place, the spider laid out threads from the center, creating a starburst effect within the frame of the web. From there, she spun a spiral extending from the center of the web to its outer edges. She made her design efforts look so easy. When she finished, she rested.

What a beautiful, elegant trap, all according to the instructional manual preprogrammed into its little brain.

Everything connected in this little spider universe.

A vibration on one tiny strand reverberates through all the other strands so that all are affected.

What about the web of connections in our own lives?

I can appreciate the Native American myth of Spider Woman, the Mother Goddess who created all life. Using her magical thread, she connects all human, animal, and plant life together in the intricate web of life. She teaches us to honor those connections.

However, there may be times when we feel that we are disconnected from our world. What we do doesn't seem to be of any value or of any major consequence. This is a trap set by our own mind.

We are all bound by an invisible connection. Just because we can't physically see it with our eyes doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Our thoughts and deeds, the decisions we make each day, how we see and relate to the world, can have a profound impact on people and environments that seem entirely separate from our personal realm of existence.

Being conscious of the interconnection between all things helps us to see our choices in terms of the broader effect we may be creating. There are times when we see the immediate result of our words and deeds; but there are many more of which we are not aware.

As a teacher, I rarely hear about the influence I had on my students. But there have been times when years later a student emails me a note of thanks for recognizing a special talent that he or she now uses to help others.

With the New Year upon us, may we take the time to recognize and remember our connections with all things. What impact will our actions and our words have? What can we do or say to bring about a positive impact on others and our environments?

Recognizing that we are intimately connected with all things and understanding the power that we have to affect all that is around us and beyond can be the first step on the path of living consciously.

We'll never know whose lives we'll touch in the great web of life.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Happy New Year? It Depends

The New Year is almost here.

While many of us will be waiting for the ball to drop on New Year's Eve, others will be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

They are the ones who in positive situations remain on guard, bracing themselves either consciously or unconsciously for something bad to happen. Instead of enjoying the moment, they focus on the negative possibilities, not realizing that they are energizing and inviting (attracting) such possibilities to happen. They fill their lives with anxiety and remain on edge as a result.

This is not healthy.

Remaining on guard against what will happen next makes it difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy happiness and success.

This is not the way to live freely and authentically.

The belief (fear) that happiness is temporary stems from the subconscious mind and past experiences that promoted a negative outlook.

One thing is for sure: the future is unknown. But this is no reason to fear it, just as there is no reason to believe that bad times must befall good times.

When you find yourself expecting the other shoe to drop, it's time to confront what you are feeling in order to remove what is blocking your optimism and happiness.

Take a deep breath.

Is there a strong possibility that something negative will happen?

Is your mind telling you that this positive situation won't last, or that you don't deserve happiness?

Remember that you have more power over your life than you realize. Give yourself permission to enjoy all the things going well for you right now. Counter any thoughts of unworthiness or guilt by reaffirming your worth. Recite a positive mantra, focus on the present moment, read motivational literature or affirmations, and trust in your own potential.

You have complete control over your own happiness. It may take some time to fully believe this about yourself, but as you make room for happiness, you will begin to let go of the fears that have hijacked that happiness.

The New Year is coming. It's a time for new beginnings and a new attitude. Hold on to the good without worrying about what the future will bring. Don't let the fear of the other shoe dropping stop you from wearing it with your new attitude.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Getting A Holiday Rush

helping hand

The holiday season is upon us, and so are the stresses that come with it. All the shopping, crowding, and lack of parking can test our patience and sanity. Attitudes flare and tempers explode, leaving us caught in a whirlwind of frenetic energy.

What happened to goodwill toward others?

The holidays can bring out the worst in us.

To live harmoniously, we need to be supportive and helpful to others, especially during this time of year when everything is rushed and hectic.

Instead of feeling rushed, we can create a new kind of rush, one that promotes the goodwill that is needed.

Instead of getting caught up in the mob scene of the holidays, why not give the gift of you?

While being of service is part of being a good citizen, it also feels good to help others, especially when we do it without any expectation of anything in return.

Our actions become offerings of love.

However, many times we serve because we were taught that we should serve. We do it to gain good standing in our church or our community. In this sense, we are really only serving ourselves. This kind of serving has no heart.

True serving is much more than meeting the requirements of a community, church, or school project; it is selfless and motivated from a deeper space within us.

There are many ways to be of service, and one may serve in various ways before discovering which area or areas resonate the most and are the most heartfelt. There are the obvious and much-needed volunteer opportunities, such as feeding the homeless or mentoring young people.

But there are other opportunities that we may not even think of as being an act of service.

Running errands for those who aren't able to run them, organizing a group activity like a walking or hiking club, leaving anonymous inspirational notes in neighborhood mailboxes are all simple ways of being of service.

Ask what you can do to brighten the lives of others, especially during this holiday season when many people are experiencing frustration.

Your actions will make a big difference and can be the greatest gift of all.

Friday, December 20, 2013

It's Okay to Want

We all have within us the ability to co-create with the universe.
what we want
But many of us have been taught that wanting more than what we have is greedy or that having more is unfair.
What if I said that our hopes and dreams are the universe whispering to us?

What if I said that the universe plants seeds of possibility within us while guiding us toward the best use of our gifts?

Striving for what we want may be challenging at times, but it is not a sin. The universe wants to give us our hearts' desires, but we repel it when we come from a place of unworthiness.

When we accept our worth and believe that the universe will facilitate our eventual success, we find that we have a whole cosmic support system backing us. The universe will not only provide us with assistance, but it will also bring opportunities that enable us to make significant progress on our journeys. We open ourselves to synchronicity.

At the first sign of our faith, the universe will put things in motion. There's no reason to be shy in asking for what we want, especially since the universe wants to see us accomplish our goals.

It's okay to want.

We can nurture our dreams without micromanaging them. Here's how:

Be open to receiving. The universe is the Great Gift-Giver. It wants to give because it is designed to give. Accept its gifts.

Be humble about receiving. The universe is always ready to care for our needs but we must ensure that our egos do not become barriers impeding our progress.

Be clear about your desires. Know what it is you want. Have a clear vision. Visualize all the details from every angle. You can design your dreams to your specifications. Imagine how it would feel to have your dreams fulfilled.

Be quiet between your thoughts. Step into the space of silence through whatever methods work best for you. Be still and know that the universe is.

Be bold in your requests for those desires. Once you are in your quiet place, announce your intentions to the pure energy of creation. Our requests travel quickly from our place of stillness, sending out the signal to the universe to align all the necessary details in the mysterious way that it does. Don't worry about how it all works; just accept that it does.

Be grateful. Express your thanks as if the universe has already granted your requests, but release any attachment to the outcome. Gratitude acts like a super magnet.

Be consistent in your practice. Doing this daily allows us to focus our thoughts and energy while regularly connecting with Essence.

It is our partnership with the Divine that allows us to manifest our desires. What we want, the universe wants for us.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Gift of Breath

Day 29 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.
29 Days Template (27)
The Gospel of Philip, one of the Gnostic Gospels, is the source for today's inspiration. The Gospel of Philip is not related to the canonical gospels in the Christian bible. Considered a heretical text by clerical authorities, it is most famous for describing Jesus as Mary Magdalene's "koinonos," or companion, which led to the popular theory that they were married.

Whatever the case, the Gospel of Philip provides a collection of Gnostic teachings and reflections on the origins and nature of mankind, including the sacraments of marriage, baptism, and anointing with consecrated oil.

In this gospel, it says:

"Glass decanters and earthenware jugs are both made by means of fire. But if glass decanters break, they are done over, for they came into being through a breath. If earthenware jugs break, however, they are destroyed, for they came into being without a breath."

This passage speaks to our origins. We are either the "earthenware jug," molded from clay and earth, or the "glass decanter," blown into existence from molten glass. Though the techniques are different, fire is the common element needed to produce the jug or decanter. One ends in fire; the other begins in fire. However, "breath" is the operative word in this passage.

Without breath, there is no life.

Made of opaque, earthen materials, the jug when shattered is destroyed "for [it] came into being without breath." It is gone for good. Lost. It may be pieced back together, but it will never be the same. Likewise, without Spirit in our lives, we will remain broken and in darkness.

Formed by the breath blown into it, the glass decanter when shattered can be melted down in fire and re-formed "because [it] came into being through the breath." All is not lost. The fire of Spirit purifies us in our state of brokenness, giving us a new form. Spirit reanimates us, giving us a fresh start.

Our breath is much more than a physical exercise of oxygen in, oxygen out. It’s an act we do day by day, minute by minute. Without it, we’d have no physical life. Physical breathing is necessary for energy production and body functions. It is a miracle we seem to take for granted.

Ruah is the Hebrew word for breath. Interestingly, it is also the word for spirit. Our breath is the animating spirit that flows in and through us. As we breathe, the Universe breathes. This is our life force. When we approach breath in this context, we understand it as a divine gift.

Breath connects us with our Inner Source. As we become conscious of our breath, we begin to understand it as an extension of the life force. Spirit is closer than our next breath because it is our breath.

Stop whatever you are doing.
Just breathe.

Breathe deep.
Breathe slow.

Feel your chest expand.
Feel it contract.

Give gratitude for every single breath you take.
Each breath is the heartbeat of the Universe.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Forgive, Or Relive

Day 28 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.29 Days Template (26)
We all make mistakes.

Yet forgiving ourselves can be so much harder than forgiving those around us, and as a result, we carry a sense of blame for what happened and beat ourselves up in the process.

Let's look to an anonymous quote for inspiration: "Forgiveness of self is impossible until you stop longing for a better past."

Forgiving ourselves will always be impossible when we continue to live in the past. And until we bring forgiveness to ourselves, we will feel guilty, unforgivable, and unlovable. We will feel like a criminal. Worse yet, we will trap ourselves into falsely believing that we are cut off from our Creator.

When we feel cut off, we carry the energy of the belief that we are "bad" in our energy fields. This attracts to us circumstances that reflect this false belief about ourselves, and then we tend to act in the very ways that we held ourselves unforgivable in the first place. It becomes a vicious cycle.

While this experience is common, it is detrimental to our overall well-being. When we carry guilt, we create a space of negativity that causes a pervasive sense of powerlessness and unhappiness. We agonize over a past situation that can not be changed, dooming ourselves to relive it over and over while reinforcing the negative feelings associated with it.

Forgiving ourselves allows us to move forward, free of the emotions that no longer serve us. But to do so, we must stop longing for a better past, as today's quote suggests. The past is gone. The only thing we can do is to make peace with it so that we can move forward.

It's easy to say acknowledge your mistake, feel remorse, and learn from it so that you don't make the same mistakes again, but self-forgiveness is a core issue, and we need to look inside that core in order to heal ourselves. We need to touch the space that hurts, and this is not always easy or pleasant.

If you are hanging on to guilt about something, it's important to practice compassion and self-acceptance. It is part of the human experience to make mistakes and hurt others. But wallowing in guilt will not help you or anyone else, and it certainly won't prevent future suffering. Forgiving yourself is about targeting and facing the specific things that you feel bad about, not about the person you are.

When you examine the guilt you feel about a particular experience, it's important to look at what your true intention was when you did what you did. If you look deep enough, you'll discover that your intention was to protect or take care of yourself in the best way that you knew at that time.

Maybe you didn't know all of the options available, and perhaps you made some decisions that brought undesirable results to you and others, but you did the best that you could with what you had at that time.

Does this make you a bad person? Absolutely not. It makes you human.

Self-forgiveness is an act of love. The guilt we feel is our signal that we have strayed from our deepest life values. Rather than making guilt a permanent state of mind, we can use it to assess our misconduct and employ a course of action that leads to making amends. This, in turn, energizes us to realign with our hearts.

As you intentionally take responsibility for your actions, know that you are creating healing for yourself and anyone that you have hurt. Learn from your choices, know that you are inherently good, and always do your best. When you do, you will come home to a sense of connectedness and peace.

(Written for my nephew. I love you, RJ).

No "Wrong" Decisions

Day 27 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.
29 Days Template (25)
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who served under President Eisenhower from 1953-1959 and was a significant figure in the early Cold War era, lends his wisdom about decision-making:

"Once -- many, many years ago -- I thought I made a wrong decision. Of course, it turned out that I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought that I was wrong."

There are no "wrong" decisions.

Many of us have a hard time making decisions. We fear that if we make the "wrong" choice, we will make a bad investment.

We could, at times, make better, more informed choices, but they are never "wrong." Regardless of the outcome, we always gain something from it, whether we get what we intended or learn a valuable lesson.

A decision is only "wrong" when we attach an outcome to it. Attaching an outcome narrows the possibilities of what can happen, and when things don't happen in the way that we expect, we find ourselves feeling full of disappointment, and worse yet, feeling like a failure.

decision sign
CTSY: Google Images
This is not what the Universe wants for us.

Being able to make choices is one of life's privileges. But to exercise this privilege, we must have the courage to decide, to act, to take a chance by moving in a particular direction. But we can't take any action until we first make a decision. Without action our lives stagnate.

Sometimes we need to follow through on a decision to realize that what we thought we wanted is not what we really want. For example, maybe you've always wanted to live in the big city, away from the quietness of the country, so you leave your family, friends, and job and move far, far away. But once you get there, you find that you do not like the commotion and the fast-pace of city living. You wouldn't have known this unless you tried it.

Your decision to experience urban life did work out, just not in the way that you intended. Chalk it up to experience and a lesson learned. Now you know what city life is all about and you can move home (or move on) with a new appreciation for small town life.

Our decisions are never "wrong" when they help us to expand who we are. The only thing that is "wrong" is our wrongful thinking about our decisions. When we change our perspective about the outcome of our decisions, we can only grow and move forward. We can fully embrace the direction our lives are taking.

Being able to make choices is a gift. Our decisions may not always work out as we intended, but they always work out in the end for our highest good and our ultimate happiness.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Warning Signs

Day 26 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.
Remember the science fiction television series Lost In Space? The show ran for three seasons (1965-68) and centered on the Robinson family who set out from an over-populated Earth in their spaceship Jupiter 2 to visit a planet with the hopes of colonizing it; however, the sabotage of Dr. Zachary Smith leaves them lost in space.
One of the characters, the family robot, is endowed with superhuman strength and futuristic weaponry, and often displays human characteristics such as laughter, sadness, and mockery. It is best known for its warning, "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!" while flailing its arms to ward off any impending harm.
Just as the universe wants to provide for us, it also works to protect us from danger, harm, and inconveniences.

We get signals warning us of potential problems all the time.

But we may not always recognize these signs.

Ever get a "bad" feeling about something? That's the universe waving a red flag at us. These warnings come in the form of feelings, and they urge us to take pause, rethink the situation, and listen to our inner guidance system.

robot lost in space
Lost In Space
Sometimes we may not know why we are being warned, only that we are. This is the universe trying to redirect us to our best path.

Many times we choose to ignore our intuition when it warns us that something is not right. We end up dismissing unsettling feelings as illogical because it doesn't seem to make sense in the moment. We may even think that we are being paranoid or that it's our imagination.

Yet, when we look back at situations where we received warnings, the signs become clear to us.

These warnings are part of a divine system designed to protect us. We may not always understand them, but it is always in our best interest to pay attention to them. No harm comes from pausing for a moment to reconsider things. We are to pay attention...to look before we leap, knowing that the Universe is always looking out for us.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bad Day?

Day 25 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.
29 Days Template (23)
Today's words of wisdom come from Theodor Seuss Geisel, the famous cartoonist and writer better known as Dr. Seuss. Here, Dr. Seuss gives us some advice on how to handle our troubles:

"I learned there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead, others come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see. Now my troubles are going to have trouble with me."

As simplistic as this statement sounds, it packs a profound punch.

Troubles are bound to show up in our lives. When they do, we need to show up bigger. We do this by showing up with our "big bat" of courage, faith, and determination.

Troubles can come from any direction, "ahead" and "behind." While we may not know when they will hit, and while we can't control when they will happen, we can prepare ourselves and be in a state of readiness when they do happen.

The key to being prepared is having some tools that we can call upon to help us through a difficult time and use on an ongoing basis to make our lives a little easier.

When troubling times hit, we need to remember that we are not alone. One of the things we can do is to call a friend, someone who is willing to listen and who understands us. This can make a big difference. A friend can help us to see options where before we saw none and can give us direction.

Another thing we can do is to journal. Things can get jumbled inside our heads and by writing things out onto paper we can get a clearer picture once we identify patterns. Getting the clutter out of our heads helps us to see our options.
Getting physical by doing some kind of exercise also helps by relieving any pent-up stress. Getting our bodies moving allows for energy to keep moving so that it doesn't stagnate within our bodies and cause any kind of dis-ease.dr seuss
Make quiet time. Whether it takes the form of meditation, contemplation, gardening, or folding the laundry, quiet time relieves the mind of daily complications and helps us to find our courage, faith, strength, and determination. This is our time to reload.

Give our bodies gratitude. Our bodies work hard in supporting us and keeping us healthy. Instead of making negative comments about the physical self, give thanks to every organ, muscle, and cell for working harmoniously together so that we can keep going.

We may never be able to fully avoid troubles from showing up in our lives, but we can have our "big bat" ready. Rather than duck and run in fear, we can stand and swing with confidence.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

One Size Fits All?

Recently I was asked to be a guest blogger for the website Light of Feng Shui, which offers consultations, tips, seminars, coaching and much more to help others live spiritually and in tune with the energies around us.

When it comes to spirituality, there are many approaches one can take. Each path is as unique as the person on it. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. You can read my article ("One Size Fits All?") here.

Special thanks to Shasheta Bo for inviting me to share with her community.

Note: Feng Shui is the ancient art and science of harmonizing the energies of any given space to assure fortune and good health to those inhabiting it. It is based on the Taoist vision and understanding of nature is alive and filled with chi, or energy. This Chinese practice allows the practitioner to position objects, buildings, furniture, and even graves based on a belief in patterns of yin and yang and the flow of chi. To learn more about this ancient practice, please visit http://www.lightoffengshui.com.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

On Awakening

Day 24 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today's piece of wisdom comes from the Qur'an. Al-Mu'minun 23:115 states: "Do you think God has created you without any purpose, and that you will not be brought back to Him?"

There is a time and season for everything and everyone.

Notice that this is not a direct command to do something. It is a question of humble self-inquiry, designed to get one thinking about why he or she is gracing this planet with his or her presence.

You may be someone who fully understands your purpose and the true nature of reality. You may also perceive deeply that we all emanate from the same Source. If so, then you know that we are here to live our lives as authentically as we can; we are here to love and to support one another. When we understand this, then we are awakened to our true nature.

This understanding is such a blessing.

But not everyone evolves at the same rate to this understanding. This doesn't mean that there is something "wrong." It simply means that we each progress at our own pace. We all have a lot to learn, and some of us may have more to learn than others.

Yet sometimes we find ourselves feeling a bit intolerant with those who just aren't progressing at a rate that we'd like them to progress. It can be frustrating to watch them, especially when they are not connected to purpose.

But it's not for us to determine how quickly others progress. Instead, we need to embrace the spiritual practice of compassion, holding them in love and light, not in judgment, anger, or fear, allowing harmony to flow.

For some, slow and steady wins the race. It would help us to remember that everyone must find their own way to awakening, and whatever they are experiencing is an important part of the process.

It would also help us to be inspired by their example as a way to look closely within ourselves, shedding light upon our own dark places, and remembering that we are still a work-in-progress. Perhaps their example is our own reflection we need to face about ourselves.

Sacrificing the urge to judge is not easy. When we feel this urge, it is our cue to remind ourselves of our true purpose as posed by the Qur'an's question.

We will all be brought back to our Source, in divine time, not ours. Our job is to hold others in the light and love of our energy, and maybe it will awaken theirs.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Courage To Be

Day 23 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.
29 Days Template (21)
The ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism teaches the principle of Inner Nature. In his book The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff writes:

"Everything has its own Inner Nature. Unlike other forms of life, though, people are easily led away from what's right for them, because people have Brain, and Brain can be fooled. Inner Nature, when relied on, cannot be fooled. But many people do not look at it or listen to it, and consequently do not understand themselves very much. Having little understanding of themselves, they have little respect for themselves, and are therefore easily influenced by others."

We each have our own unique attributes. We are "unlike other forms of life."

We are different.

But we sometimes get in our own way because we have "Brain, and Brain can be fooled."

As a result, we are easily influenced by others, especially when we have little understanding of ourselves.

We are social creatures. We want to fit in. We want to be accepted, not rejected. But this fear of rejection sometimes causes us to suppress our Inner Nature, or our Authentic Self.

We end up hiding who we are from others; we wear masks to hide our truth. We deny who we are, and we find ourselves being dishonest with others or ourselves because we are afraid to be who we were designed to be.

This is what happens when we choose to define who we are based on others expectations or definitions of who we are. We live from the outside in, from the ego, because we want to please others. We listen to Brain (ego), and the brains of others, rather than our Inner Self.
Our Inner Nature, our Authentic Self, is our link to God. We cannot change who God made us to be. But if we accept this, we can change the ways in which we are not living as our Authentic, True Self. We begin living our lives from the inside out. We can't change our Inner Nature, nor can we change the Inner Nature of others. However, when we change our perspective, we see ourselves and others in a whole new light.

We are not to be copies of others. We are to be originals because we are originals. And we are to embrace our originality.

We are to listen to who we really are, to what is inside of us, rather than model our lives on social norms because that is what is expected. Sometimes, we get tricked by Brain into assuming that what others want for us is what God expects of us.

Just ask yourself if what others expect of you feels in alignment with who you are inside.

When we accept or agree to something we know is not in alignment with who we are, we feel resignation, not serenity. This allows resentment to sneak into our lives, and if we don't make the necessary changes, we grow ill at ease, prone to "dis-ease." This is not true living.

Knowing who you are and having the courage to be, rather than imitating someone else, is essential to fulfilling your purpose.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sin Revisited

Day 22 of 29 Days of Spiritual Wellness.
29 Days Template (20)
The poet Kahlil Gibran has some interesting words to share with us:

"You are good when you are at one with yourself. Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil. For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is merely a divided house."


If we are not evil when we are not one with ourselves, then what are we?

We. Are. Still. Good.

This brings up the question of sin. How does it fit into this?

Do you get visions of little devils dancing around in your head?

The word for "sin" in the ancient Greek (in which the New Testament was written) is "hamartia" (ἁμαρτία), which transliterated means "miss the mark."

Over the centuries, the word sin has collected a lot of cultural and religious baggage. It was held over the heads of people to scare them into what churches (some, not all) and society considered "proper" behavior. It has been misused, abused, and taken out of context.

The best way to deal with sin is to understand it for what it is. Sin is what occurs when our God-given passions are out of alignment with one another. This is disharmony. It does not mean we, as beings, are "bad" or "evil." As Gibran put it, it is the result of "good tortured by its own hunger."

During the Dark Ages and Medieval times, most people were illiterate and uneducated; only priests and very wealthy people were educated, and because of this privilege, they were able to control (and manipulate) the masses for their purposes. And more often than not, they missed the mark by abusing their power with statements like, If you don't do this or that in the name of God, you're a sinner! You'll be damned and go straight to hell! You're made to feel guilty by others.

It's no wonder people began to fear the word (and God for that matter).

So, when we strip away all of the baggage and misinterpretations, we have a word with a simple definition that points toward the human condition. Because we are human, we are born with some abnormalities, thus the term "original sin."

We are not perfect.

We are born into ignorance. And if we are not careful, others will capitalize on that ignorance to bring out the worst in us or to keep us under their thumbs.

But the concept of "original sin" is not without its flaws. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy because it expects the worst in human nature. This puts all responsibility on God instead of on us. How selfish of us.

Yet, if we are created in God's image and likeness, this means that God is not the only creator in the creation process. If God is not the only creator, who else is involved?

We are.

This means we are responsible for what happens. We are good people who sometimes do bad things. We miss the mark.

But when we are at one with ourselves -- when we are at one with our Creator -- we hit our target each time.

Gibran knew this, as did Jesus. Jesus knew we weren't perfect, but he taught that we could strive toward perfection, or wholeness: "Therefore, be perfect [whole], even as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Mt 5:48).

Sin is nothing more than a misdirection of our energies, away from our authentic selves and away from God. The biggest sin is remaining ignorant and blind to our authentic selves by letting our flaws (and others) hold us down.

We are perfect in our creation, though not always in our behavior, and if we want wholeness in our lives, then we must be willing to take responsibility for our actions because we are co-partners -- co-creators -- with God.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Living The High Life

Day 21 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today's words of wisdom come from Leo Buscaglia, American author and motivational speaker:

"The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another's, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises."

Many people think that living a spiritual life requires attending religious services, observing rituals, and studying religious texts.

For others, the spiritual life is not all about following traditional structures when it comes to the Sacred.

It's not the kind of life that one leaves in the church pew at the end of the service or forgets about once the meditation session is finished.

"The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower" may seem like a simple, ordinary act. The act becomes sacred because through it we connect with creation and Creator. What was once ordinary becomes extraordinary.

"The fact that I can...share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another's" may seem like the typical process of education. This act becomes sacred because through sharing we are giving selflessly to others. What better way to share with others than to share a bit of knowledge that creates awareness for others so that they can plant themselves and grow.

"The fact that I can...smile at someone and receive a smile in return" may seem like a simple, friendly gesture, but this act becomes sacred because through it we connect with others. A smile is something that is understood in every language. It is universal. It says, "I acknowledge and accept you as a sacred being."

Spirituality is the kind of life that flows through all areas of our lives, connecting us to all that is around us and within us.

Everything we do becomes a sacred act.

Talk about living the high life.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Toast To Presence

Day 20 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

We are either practicing the Presence of the Sacred or Its Absence.
29 Days Template (18)

There's no middle ground.

How does this translate into daily life?

Ask yourself if you are content.

Are you?

Today's tidbit of wisdom comes from Abraham Lincoln, when he says: "Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be."

We are only as happy as we want to be.

Making up our minds to be happy means we don't need to look any further than ourselves. Abe's statement implies choice. Either we choose to be happy, or we don't. Happiness is entirely up to us. We are in charge of it, not anyone or anything else.

So, why do so many people feel that they just don't have enough? Why isn't enough enough?

Because they are practicing Absence rather than Presence.

They've latched onto attachment, and they can't let go. Well, let me rephrase that. They won't let go. They've become attached to being attached to outward things that they think, feel, or believe will make them happy.

Yet, when they attain those things, they're still not happy (though they may be temporarily). When that temporary feeling wears off, they begin seeking once more. It's an exercise in futility, not fulfillment.

Anyone in a state of seeking can never be truly happy; they're so busy acquiring things that they don't have the time to appreciate what they already have. Their minds are constantly focusing on the next prize. They get attached to the outcome. They get addicted to attachment. If they didn't, they would be resting in what they already have; they would find that they have enough.

Practicing Presence is not about unnecessary self-denial. There's nothing wrong with having money or possessions; although, some people do go to the other extreme, thinking that to be spiritual means living a life of renunciation, where they give up or avoid gifts, money, experiences, and people in fear of being selfish or attached. They become attached to not being attached.

Practicing Presence is about taking responsibility for our own happiness. It's not about seeking happiness; it's about allowing ourselves to be happy. If we are to be happy, then we are to do things that make us happy. If we do things that contribute to our unhappiness, then we will feel it going against the grain of our core, and we will remain unhappy unless we make the necessary changes, whatever they may be.
champagne glass
Practicing Absence leaves a void to be filled. Without self-examination, we find ourselves filling this void with things that do not last. We may even try to numb the emptiness with drugs, alcohol, or other addictive substances or behaviors.

Practicing Presence fills this void with the champagne of joy that bubbles up from within and spills outward into our lives. We find ourselves filled with gratitude for what we have and for who we are. Our perspective evolves. Our lives change.

When we choose to be happy, we practice Presence in our lives. We allow Presence to work its mystery. We allow it to guide us. We allow it to create with us and for us. We move from futility to fulfillment.

I'll toast to that.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Living Your Truth

Day 19 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today we revisit the Bhagavad Gita for inspiration. In XII:19-19, Lord Krishna says:

"He who is tranquil before friend and foe alike, and in encountering adoration and insult, and during the experiences of warmth and chill and of pleasure and suffering; who has relinquished attachment, regarding blame and praise in the same light; who is quiet and easily contented, not attached to domesticity, and of calm disposition and devotional -- that person is dear to Me."

In trying to live spiritually, we are going to encounter materially-minded people who do not understand us. Some of these people may even hate and persecute us because we don't "fit in."

These words from the Bhagavad Gita are exhorting us to operate from a place of inner truth. We are to follow what we know to be right, in spite of criticism.

To be "tranquil" is to be at peace within, no matter what others say or do to us. To do this we must "relinquish attachment" to our ego. The nature of the ego makes undisciplined people uncomfortable and mean-spirited toward those who are morally or spiritually different from themselves.

This passage calls us to analyze ourselves, honestly and without egotistical bias. If what we are living is right, we are to remain strong in our actions that produce joy, uninfluenced by either "adoration or insult."

If what we are living is wrong, or out of alignment with our Highest Self, then we are to be grateful for the opportunity to correct ourselves in order to remove any obstacles from our path of happiness.

Even unjust criticism becomes a tool that fortifies us to follow the ways of inner peace. It enthuses us even more.

It should be considered no great loss when those who don't understand us suddenly shun us. Instead, this ostracism becomes a blessing because it keeps us away from their negative influence, and it opens up the door for like-minded people to find their way to us and us to them.

To be strong in the face of such opposition, the spiritually dedicated are to be "of calm disposition and devotional," meaning we are to approach situations with a levelheadedness, devoid of ego, and we are to cultivate divine habits to which we must adhere. We are not to simply find time, but to make time for honoring Source in the peace of meditation and other spiritual practices. Such practices will grant us the wisdom and guidance by which we are to conduct ourselves.

Living the spiritual life is going to separate us from the worldly crowd and all of its influences. Will there be temptation? Of course. Many will try to get us to veer off of our path, and when we don't, we will more than likely face their non-understanding, insults, and wrath. In knowing who we are and what our truth is, we need not be fazed by such antics of the ego.

This is not to say that we are better than or spiritually superior to others. We're not. They are our brothers and sisters; they can accept us, follow our example, or simply fade harmoniously away when they realize they can not shake us from our Truth.

To live the spiritual life is to live our truth from the inside out, not the outside in. It's not about flattering the ego; it's about flattening it. When we approach life from this perspective, and when we hold fast to our truth, we live more authentically, no matter what anyone says.

When we encounter those who take issue with us because of our chosen path, we know that they come from a place of attachment, of ego, and we can move past their invectives because they know not what they do.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Journey To Jedi-hood

Day 18 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.
29 Days Template (16)
Today's simple, yet powerful message comes from the blockbuster movie Star Wars, as young Luke Skywalker prepares himself for Jedi-hood.

“Luke: I can't believe it. 
 Yoda: That is why you fail.“

Luke, in his journey, trains intensively with his guru Yoda. At first, he is awkward, clumsy, and unfocused.

But as he continues his practice, he grows into a powerful warrior.

In the midst of his training, Luke struggles to grasp the whole Jedi-Use-The-Force thing.

Yoda sets him straight when the ancient master points out that Luke's thinking is his main stumbling block.

Luke stands in his own way.

How many times have we stood in the way of our own greatness?

The saying, "I'll believe it when I see it," comes to mind. This is a very limiting view. It implies a serious lack of trust with a large dose of cynicism.

The fact that Luke says, "I can't," means that he won't. Not without a complete change in perspective.

When we tell ourselves that we can't, we immediately set up inner roadblocks. Then we wonder why we fail. We have trained our brains to see obstacles instead of possibilities.

Look around at your surroundings. Everything in your line of vision did not exist at one time. Someone had a vision of it. Someone believed it could be created. Someone worked at bringing it into existence. Someone visualized it in the mind's eye first, then gave it life.

Luke's problem is that he doesn't see himself as a creator. He limits himself because of his limited thinking, preventing him from progressing. He doesn't see himself as a Jedi. Yoda not only supplies Luke with the physical training necessary to be a Jedi, but he provides vital mental and spiritual exercise as well. These are not separate, but one.

Courtesy Google Images
When we step into Jedi mode, we step into a whole new identity. Our separate selves unite into one Self.

Yoda's appraisal of Luke points to the young man's lack of trust in an Unknown Force. He is told repeatedly to "Use the Force." Luke's scattered thinking scatters his energies. As he learns to focus and channel his energies, he advances in his training.

If we are to progress, we must trust the Unknown Force in our lives. We may not know how it works, nor are we to concern ourselves with the how. This requires a letting-go of old, out-dated thinking that no longer serves us in our new identity.

What is interesting about the phrase "Use the Force" is that not only must Luke trust it, but he must use it. Yoda speaks in the imperative here, directing Luke to trust and apply.

In our own spiritual training, using the Force in our lives means directly applying it. It means taking action. Even more so, it denotes taking responsibility for that action. This puts us at the helm of the control panel. It is there for us to use, and we can steer in any direction we so choose, but we must do so wisely.

The journey to Jedi-hood is an evolution. When we realize that we are responsible for creating what happens in our lives, we realize the power we have within us to change things for better or for worse. We come to understand that life doesn't happen to us, but that we make our lives happen. We focus our energies on what we want, not on what we do not want.

Our entire worldview transforms as we align with the Force. And fail we will not.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

No Blame No Game

Day 17 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today's passage for contemplation comes from The First 30 Days by Ariane De Bonvoisin. In it, she says:

By blaming yourself, you become stuck in old patterns, old emotions, and old ways of looking at life. Blame distracts you from looking at the facts, free from emotion. And so it keeps you from doing what needs to be done—making changes in how you look after your health, learning to handle your finances, packing up and moving, or forgiving someone. Stop telling yourself, I should have done this or I should have said that. What’s the point? Blame has never helped anyone achieve anything.

The real question, then, is What can I do now

Blame is abusive. Bottom line. It's a game we never win.

It is classic victim-mode thinking.

Whenever we blame ourselves, we give up our power to create. We get distracted. We remain stuck. We avoid taking responsibility for ourselves -- our health, our finances, our relationships, our daily living -- all of this gets sloppy.

It's like stepping into quicksand. The more you struggle, the quicker you sink.

When we blame ourselves, we are saying to the Universe, "I'm no good. I can't do anything right. I'm a loser." Each blaming thought is a shovel-load of shame we heap upon ourselves, reinforcing our predicament. The Universe, in wanting to bring us what we dominantly think about, gets our message and springs into action, bringing us more of the same.

But according to this passage, there is one small step to take to save ourselves. It instructs us to "Stop telling [ourselves], I should have done this or I should have said that." Actually, this is more than instruction; it's an imperative, meaning it's a command to examine our self-talk, which is absolutely vital if we are to save ourselves from sinking further into the pit of blame and shame.

Stop with the shoulds. And replace them with coulds. Any time you find yourself saying, "I should do ___________________," replace it with "I could do _____________________." Feel the difference? That shift in energy puts you back in control.

One thing Ariane suggests in her book is to "take the twenty-four hour no-blame challenge." Go a day without placing blame on yourself or others, and see what happens. If twenty-four hours seems like too much, then start with a lesser amount of time.

Blame is a game for those who choose to lose. It monopolizes everything with its "Do Not Pass Go. Go Directly To Jail" card. But when we stop the blame by realizing our responsibility for what we have created and for what we can/could/will create, we free ourselves from our self-imposed prison.

We see the blame game for what it is. And then the game ends. We win. Boom.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Mental Movies

Day 16 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today's passage comes from Vernon Howard's book The Power of Your Supermind.

Let's examine it:

"A chief cause of unhappiness is what I call mental movies. Mental movies are a misuse of the imagination. You know how it goes. You have a painful experience with someone, then you run it over and over in your mind. You visualize what you said, what he did, how you both felt. As awful as it is, you feel compelled to repeat the film day and night. It is as if you were locked inside a theater playing a horrible movie."

Been there. Done that. No fun.

Remember the movie Groundhog Day? Phil Connors, an egotistical and arrogant weather man is sent to cover Groundhog Day festivities in a tiny Pennsylvania town only to find himself reliving the same day over and over again, seeing the same people doing the same thing the same way every day. At first, he uses it to his advantage, but then realizes that he is doomed to live this way unless he makes changes within himself.

Talk about a living hell.

But this is exactly what happens when we lock ourselves away in the dark theater of our minds. We get stuck.

Something happened that pained us, and we relive the nightmare again and again. It keeps us in the dark. Our thinking stagnates. We ache and wonder what we could have said or done differently. And watching the same scenes repeatedly serves only to reinforce our unhappiness. We are doomed to relive the pain like Phil Connors.

But when we become aware of what we are doing to ourselves, we can begin the healing process. When we take notice that we are the ones responsible for replaying the same movie, we can take the steps to start playing a new one, one which moves us out of the dark seat of unhappiness.

Rather than view the same old stuff, we can put ourselves in the director's seat where we can create a new role for ourselves. We can ask ourselves, "What role do I want to create for myself in my new movie?" By asking this, we step into action. We take responsibility for what we have created, but more importantly, for what we will create. Imagine the possibilities!

We realize we are the chief cause of our unhappiness and our happiness. Always have been. Always will be. There's no way around it.

We can choose to sit on our duffs in the dark theater of our minds, or we can zoom out of that old, tired thinking and zoom in to fresh, new possibilities.

Life is rolling. It may require a few takes (or more) until we get things right, but at least we are taking the action we need to put us back in the spotlight.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stretch Your Thinking

Day 15 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Our inspiration for today comes from Confucius, the Chinese philosopher who lived between 551 BCE - 479 BCE.

Even when walking in the company of two other men, I am bound to be able to learn from them. The good points of the one I copy; the bad points of the other I correct in myself."

According to Confucius, it is important for us to stretch our thinking. When we do, we learn.

If one learns from others but does not think, one will be continually confused.

If one thinks but refuses to learn from others, then one will remain narrow-minded and in ignorance.

But if we open ourselves to what others have to teach us, we become more well-rounded in our thinking. Some teachings will resonate with us; some may not. Some we will want to apply to our lives; some we won't. Either way, whether we agree or disagree, we are to respect the process and one another.

Learning can happen in any moment from any source. For Confucius, learning occurs "even when walking in the company of two other men." Whatever is present in our reality at that particular moment can serve as a teacher when we open ourselves up to the experience.

Learning doesn't have to take place in a formal setting like a school or a university; it can happen in the most common of places. Teaching doesn't have to come from professors; it can come from the common man, woman, child, animal, place, or thing. 

When we choose to become students in the open classroom of life, we find ourselves "bound to be able to learn" from life's teachers, whoever and whatever those teachers may be. Our learning will be much more meaningful when we acknowledge that life sends many kinds of teachers.

Our teachers ultimately lead us to ourselves. They reflect who we are. When we see the "good points," we will want to emulate them, copying them into the script of our lives. However, when we see the "bad points," we are to "correct them" within ourselves.  We don't necessarily erase them from our lives, but we work to transform them as part of our learning. 

If we are to learn anything, we must be in a state of readiness.

As the adage goes, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Watch Your Mouth

Day 14 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today's inspiration comes from the Fourth Buddhist Precept from the Pali Canon, the first Buddhist scriptures (the Pali language is a variation of Sanskrit).

It is written as Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami, which translated means "I vow (or undertake) to refrain from incorrect speech."

We are to be "impeccable" with our speech, as don Miguel Ruiz instructs us in his best-selling book The Four Agreements.

In the Buddhist tradition, the Fourth Precept is described as refraining from four particular actions: (1) being untruthful, (2) exaggerating, (3) divisive speech, and (4) insulting language.

Incorrect speech is destructive.

While this precept is not a rule to which we must adhere like the Abrahamic/Mosaic ten commandments, it is a personal commitment we make to ourselves when we choose to follow a spiritual path. We find versions of this precept in many, if not all, wisdom traditions.

This precept tells us not to lie and not to say things that destroy relationships and friendships. Instead, we are to use "right speech," as Buddha calls it, speaking truthfully and honestly, and speaking words that promote goodwill, not harm.

Can we disagree or criticize? Sure, as long as our words are respectful of others' differing views or offer constructive criticism that will help another to improve.

In Buddhism, false speech is rooted in hate, greed, and ignorance, known as the Three Poisons. If your speech is to discredit or assassinate the character of someone you don't like, to get something that you want at the expense of others, or to lie about your status to win the adoration of others, then you are breaking this promise not only to yourself, but also to your Higher Self.

To practice "right speech," we are to be mindful of our speech at all times. We are to think about what we say before we say it. Is it going to help, edify, or exhort? Or is it going to harm, insult, or abuse?

We need to examine our own motivations for our speech. Is our speech stemming from the three poisons? Or is it coming from a place of love and compassion? What is your intent?

Note the word "refrain." The precept doesn't tell us we have to absolutely stop. We are human; we can't, but that is no excuse for not trying. The more mindful we are of our speech, the better we get at watching what comes out of our mouths.

When we vow to refrain from incorrect speech, we vow to cultivate wholesome, loving speech in order to bring joy and happiness to others. We vow to relieve others of their suffering. We vow to speak truthfully, using words that inspire others.

This precept is not a directive. It's not a commandment. But it is a spiritual practice that enables enlightenment. When we are mindful of our words, it helps us, our families, our relationships, and our community.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Mouth to Mouth

Day 13 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today's passage comes from The Gospel of Thomas, which predates any of the New Testament gospels by some twenty years. The Gospel of Thomas is part of the Nag Hammadi collection, sources discovered in Upper Egypt in 1945 and not endorsed by clerical authorities. In fact, these ancient texts were taken from the library of the earliest Christian monastery in Egypt and hidden after the archbishop of Alexandria ordered the monks to destroy all books he deemed "heretical."

In this gospel, Jesus speaks directly to Thomas and says:

"Whosoever drinks from my mouth will become as I am; and I will become that person; and the mysteries will be revealed to him."


This doesn't sound like the Jesus presented in the canonized version of the Christian bible.

A different sense of communion emerges from this line of text. Rather than eating a wafer or a piece of bread, rather than drinking from a bejeweled chalice, we are told that drinking from the mouth of Jesus makes us one with him and makes him one with us. Of course this is not literal but symbolic.

This is a much more personalized approach to knowing and communing with Spirit. This is more than mouth to mouth. This is Being to Being, Essence to Essence, Spirit to Spirit. Jesus is merely a receptacle, a cistern, pouring forth the Divine from an endless place within himself to a place deep within us, awakening (resurrecting?) the Divine in us.

As we drink, we become.

It's no wonder clerical authorities deemed such texts heretical. This takes all the power away from them and places it directly on us.

This gospel is attributed to "Thomas the twin." In Hebrew literature, the name Thomas means "twin." This does not mean that Jesus had a twin brother. Again, this is a symbolic reference.

Page from Gospel of Thomas
When we partake of the Living Waters of the Spirit from the teachings of Jesus, what we are being offered is access to God right then and there without having to depend on outside authorities telling us what to do and how to do it. Instead, drinking from the mouth, from the Inner Fountain contained within Jesus, we discover at a deep level that we are indeed Jesus' "twin." We become the spiritual twin of Jesus.

This puts us on the same level as Jesus, toe to toe, eye to eye, mouth to mouth. We can choose to drink from the same Source from which Jesus himself drinks, or not. He offers us the choice. And should we take him up on his offer, he claims "the mysteries will be revealed to [us]." As we learn to live with our new identity, Source will reveal its wisdom to us as we continue to drink from it. It will teach us and guide us in the same ways it has taught and guided our twin, Jesus.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Getting Back To Good

Day 12 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today's passage comes from the sacred Hindu Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, literally "the song of the Lord."

In this passage, the Lord Krishna declares:

"Whenever virtue declines and vice predominates, I incarnate as an Avatar. In visible form I appear from age to age to protect the virtuous and to destroy evildoing in order to reestablish righteousness."

The text is presented in the form of a dialogue between the avatar Lord Krishna and his disciple Arjuna on the eve of the historic battle of Kurukshetra. There's a sense of ease and comfort that comes through Krishna's words as he converses with Arjuna, even as they face an impending battle. It's as if Krishna is saying, "Whenever something pivotal is about to happen, I will be there to intervene." In this case, vice is winning over virtue; the bad is outweighing the good. Krishna sees the selfishness and the misdirection of his people and knows his time has come to step-in to right the situation.

What's interesting is his comment, "I incarnate as an Avatar." The word "Avatar" comes from the Sanskrit avatara, with roots ava, "down," and tri, "to pass." Avatars are those who have attained union with Spirit and then return to earth to help mankind; they are divine incarnations on a special mission. They come to pass down something to us.

What's even more interesting is that the Lord says that "in visible form," he "appear[s] from age to age." This implies that he has incarnated more than once, and he will continue to incarnate "whenever virtue declines and vice predominates." This seems to indicate that not only does he come in visible form, but he is with us in an invisible form as well. When in invisible form, he is in a state of potentiality that is waiting to be expressed or incarnated. He has always been and will always be, no matter what form he takes, visible or invisible.

Also, the Avatar doesn't incarnate in the same visible form ("I incarnate as an Avatar," not the Avatar), but in many, and each of these physical forms contained or contains the same God-Mind, the same Infinite Intelligence, throughout the ages. It's this God-Mind that is passed down from Avatar to Avatar to us. It also implies that we humans will somehow be able to recognize these Avatars when they do incarnate. We are not a totally lost people after all. We just need some redirection from time to time, and the Avatars who show up, show up for a very specific reason.

The Lord then shares his reason for incarnating when he tells his disciple that he comes "to protect the virtuous and to destroy evildoing in order to reestablish righteousness." He comes to save us from ourselves, especially when our vices are overtaking our virtues. There is a battle within us; it's the battle between our good and bad tendencies.

Sometimes our thinking gets so flawed that we take it out on ourselves and on one other. We inflict pain and hurt, we commit crimes, we start wars, we cause suffering because we have lost our mind -- our God-Mind -- and we need to be Re-Minded. The Avatar comes to destroy "evildoing," not evildoers, but the wrongful thinking that leads to doing harm; the Avatar comes to "reestablish" --  to reconnect and reunite us -- to our rightful mind, the God-Mind that is ours, too.

Human nature is what it is. We are a forgetful people who tend to do horrible things when we disconnect from the God-Mind. Avatars are Spirit's Emissaries sent to remind us to renew our minds, to renew our thinking, to the Mind of God, the Universal and Infinite Intelligence. Without this intercession of God's love come to earth in the example and form of Avatars, we would be lost in a world of delusion and illusion. Avatars (Krishna, Buddha, Jesus...) from age to age have come and continue to come as guides who open access to spiritual understanding.

They get us back to good.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One With The All

Day 11 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today's passage comes from a Gnostic text from the Nag Hammadi Library collection that was discovered in a cave in Egypt in 1945. This excerpt comes from The Thunder: Perfect Mind. This text is part of the literature that was excluded from the canon of the bible as we know it today.

Hear me, you that hear
   and listen to my words, you who know me.
I am the hearing that can be acquired everywhere,
   and I am the speech that cannot be grasped.
I am the name of the sound
   and the sound of the name.
For what is inside of you is what is outside of you,
   and the one who fashioned you on the outside
   is the one who shaped the inside of you.
And what you see outside of you, you see inside of you;
   it is visible and it is your garment.

We start with the imperative, "Hear me," a directive for us to listen, to pay attention, to someone's words, someone whom we know and who knows us very well. The speaker wants our attention and has gotten it.

But then we are hit with some cryptic phrases that evoke a sense of mystery and leave us scratching our intellectual heads. These words, from wherever it is they come, come from a place of mystery, a place that cannot be explored intellectually. The Voice in this passage begins in mystery and is a mystery.

Such is the language and wisdom of Spirit, especially when it says, "I am the hearing that can be acquired everywhere, and I am the speech that cannot be grasped." How many times do we perceive the sound of words, but do not understand what they mean for our lives? Words sometimes go in one ear and out the other, and when we are not mindful we miss the message. But if we are to grasp the importance of words, we need to open ourselves up to all that is present in our lives.

The Voice makes a big distinction between listening with the head and listening with the heart. We have to open the ears of our heart to fully understand what this message is.

Then we get thrown another cryptic line that says, "I am the name of the sound and the sound of the name." There cannot be a name without the sound of a name. The name of the sound is the perception (or thought) of the sound while the sound of the name validates and expresses the name, giving it its existence. Spirit speaks to us in silence and we are to listen in that silence before we give it voice. This implies that we must be very careful and ever mindful with what we think and say.

Then we are given a statement of assertion, "For what is inside of you is what is outside of you, and the one who fashioned you on the outside is the one who shaped the inside of you." Here we are told that we are not separate from what is outside of us. What we see is shaped by what we are. As we interact with the visible world, we do so through specific lenses. Our outer life and our inner life are reflections of one another.

At the end of the passage, the Voice continues, "And what you see outside of you, you see inside of you; it is visible and it is your garment." Again, it is established that we are not to separate ourselves from what is outside of us. That which has created our inner world has created the outer world and what is outside of us is also inside. We are to clothe ourselves with such knowledge and wisdom.

This is a message of unity, oneness, and harmony. We are not separate from the Universe, nor is it separate from us. As above, so below. The Universe exists within and without. We discover that we move in rhythm with the Universe because we are the Universe and the Universe is us.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Say Yes to Your No

Day 10 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today's little gem of a passage comes from Mahatma Gandhi.

Let's see what shiny shards of wisdom we can gather for our spiritual growth.

"A 'No' uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble."

How many times have we said yes when we really meant no?

If we can't say no and mean it, then we can't say yes and mean it. 

No conviction on one end means no conviction on the other.

All too often, people give in to the requests or demands of others at the expense of their own happiness or sanity. 


They say yes as a way to minimize friction, avoid fights, or because it's just too hard to speak up. 

Saying no can be very difficult, especially for those who want to be all things to all people. Saying no puts them at risk for disapproval. 

Learning the power of the word no is about making healthy, conscious, deliberate choices. Saying yes when we mean no means we are out of alignment with ourselves, with our passion, and with our Source.

When we learn to say no to the things that don't serve us, then we create the space to say yes to the things that truly matter to us.

What makes it difficult at first is that it forces us into the position to decide. It forces us to consciously choose, and this scares the hell out of some people. What if we choose and it doesn't work? 

But what if it does?

Courtesy Google Images
Saying no when we mean no is about reclaiming our power. As we say yes to meet someone else's requests or demands when our hearts are screaming no, we give up our power to that person. Each yes to that person is a no to us. This opens the door to anguish, anger, resentment or total submission, and we lose our self-respect. 

Saying no when we mean no is about honoring ourselves. We have needs, too. We have dreams and desires, and we deserve to get what we want, but if we are too busy meeting the demands of others without proper boundaries, we are the ones who lose out. 

Consider these questions before you give an automatic yes:

Am I feeling in alignment with this?
Is this what I really want?
Do I feel passionate about this?
Why am I about to say yes when I really mean no?

Saying yes to your no will give your life back to you.