Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On One Day at a Time


            One day at a time…
            One day at a time…
            O, Lord, for my sake
            Please help me to take
            One day at a time…

I remember vividly the words of this old hymn, and how wise its cautions are.  I know also that AA people at every level abide by this premise all the time…This day I will not drink…This day I will not use drugs…This day I will not overeat.  They practice restraint; they practice thoughtfulness; they practice true regard for themselves, and almost as important, they realize the wisdom of not “borrowing trouble” in advance.
The spontaneity of the day's unknowns
    Yes, we plan for the future as much as we are able, and then we let things unfold as they will.  To live by too many “what ifs” only keeps us from enjoying the moment before us which really is the only moment we have.  We don’t have to cast our fates to the winds and be blown along by every gust and swirl, but we can enjoy the spontaneity of the day’s unknowns with a clear eye.
Is the Universe a friendly place?...
  Being a control freak I put my day in order because my natural inclinations and my responsibilities require it.  I have also learned that one cannot have much ease without trust that life itself will be revealed in the best possible ways without the need for constant “tweaking.”  It raises just too much angst to think otherwise.  There are those fortunate folks who seem to navigate their days effortlessly.  I wish I were one of them.  In the meantime I learn; I practice saying yes to Einstein’s question:  Is the universe a friendly place?, and I simply remind myself to look for the good because I’m the only one who’ll find it for myself.

     Each day holds it gifts…and its challenges, and so I’ll take them…one day at a time.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On Fear...and Love

Some thirty five years ago an M.D. named Gerald Jampolsky wrote a wonderful, little gem of a book entitled, Love is Letting Go of Fear. People loved it, and it went everywhere, and so it deserved to. Jampolsky’s major premise was that there are only two emotions, love and fear. The first is our natural inheritance and the other the mind manufacturers. Think of it! This means that it is natural for us to come from love for ourselves and others. It is unnatural for us to move from fear. We have to invent it ourselves, and so we do.

...A brand, new first response...

Thirty five years later, where are we in the scheme of things? Are we cultivating our inborn capacity to love and to choose it as our mode of action every time we go out the front door? Or, more likely, are we so confused and conflicted by the complications of the world that our default response to most everything is some form of fear? I think it is more often the latter. We have become so conditioned by negative, subjective responses that we don’t even recognize a loving response. We can, of course, but we would have to go back into a willingness to trust the gift of love and pull it up as a brand, new first response.

We are purveyors of Love...

Yes, we can, and we can scan ourselves mentally and emotionally to rediscover the strengths that are ours and the responsibilities that are ours as spiritual beings living a human life (Thank you, Wayne Dyer!) We have no business sinking into media marketing or giving away our power to external manipulations. We are more than this. We are purveyors of Love, and we can teach and learn from one another. We more than the tribes into which we were born. We are God’s own… every single one of us… worthy of the best.

"Teach only love...

Let’s give Jampolsky the last word on the relationship between love and fear. He said, “Teach only love for that is what you are.”

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

On Living a Simple Life


How often, when we are very busy, maybe snowed with lots to do, do we say we want to live more simply? We want to feel more comfortable with our lives. If this is a serious question and not just push-back against busyness, this brings us to a basic inquiry: Do we really want to live a simple life, or do we just want to have less to do? These are two very different things. If we want to do less every day, this can be corrected by culling out activities and choosing when to act and when to cease action. Living a simple life is a whole, ‘nother matter and involves another mind set entirely.

Everything is laden with meaning...

The very busy person can hurry through his days half aware of what is taking place. On the other hand, the person who lives more simply has time and opportunity to enter into every part of his day. Simple living can actually become boring if attention and interest are not given to each turn of nature, each entry into a different room. Everything is laden with meaning, from the first hint of a morning bird song to the beginnings of white caps on a bay front that announce the afternoon winds. Nothing is necessarily more or less important than any other…just present and waiting to be accounted for...with the frank fact that beauty lurks everywhere.

The time to sift through ideas...

Active thought is very much a part of simple living, for there is something quietly compelling about taking the time to sift through ideas…our own perhaps, or maybe the thoughts of a thinker that resonates. Simple living allows for self starts and satisfying finishes, resolute beginnings and endings that seem naturally to occur.

All things are possible...

The one who lives a simple life does not necessarily do less but has the choice of what to do more often. All things are possible, especially when we can actually recognize what those possibilities might be, and happiness, joy, contentment and satisfaction all become distinguishable qualities in a life full of meaning…not just an indistinguishable blur of pleasant feelings that come and go without notice.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

On a new World

Now that we are moving into 2015, what will our new world be like this year? Or if this is perhaps too ambitious, we might cast our eyes on at least a new beginning. In last week’s blog I asked what we were going to say yes to, what forms would we be giving this Infinite Mind to create for us. Because we are sentient, self-aware beings able to use the power of Mind for good or ill, it is important that we take thought about where we find ourselves. Are we where we want to be…or is real change due?

New worlds find us anyway...

Even if we’re not up to setting up a new world for ourselves, sometimes new worlds find us anyway! And sometimes in ways we had not imagined. I have been in my home for over fifty years, and all that time I had a neighbor right across the street from me who had been in her home even longer. As my family grew up, so did hers, and she also grew from an active, compassionate, creative (she was a dressmaker of the first order) neighbor of middle years into widowhood and very old age. This past year she died, and I was unreasonably undone. I knew of course that we all die…that is, most of us do…but some are supposed to be eternal fixtures who remain regardless of our own comings and goings, and my neighbor seemed to be one of those. With my old neighbor’s passing, the last of a very present piece of my family went with her, and to my surprise, I was looking across at a new world. Her extended family spruced up the house and sold it to a young couple. All the familiar motions were gone; the lights and shadows inside the house were different. Even the “feel” of the house was different. Like it or not, my little piece of our street was changed forever.

A place in us that can accept newness...

Perhaps it would be a good idea to make a place for sudden change, unexpected newness. It is harder than ever for things to remain the same for long periods, and there needs to be a place in us that can accept newness, whether or not we invited it.

Become bigger, more insightful, more loving...

This year could be the time for us to become bigger, more insightful, more loving, more compassionate than ever, maybe even bringing a new world of our own into being.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On Saying Yes


Students of spirituality will certainly come across the idea called the Law of Mind, often called by other names, such as the Law of Cause and Effect, the Law of Giving and Receiving, the Law of Reciprocity, or just simply the phrase: As ye sow, so shall ye reap. This comes up because of the way Infinite Mind appears to work when dealing with creation. Our belief is that the mind we use is the Mind of God. As far as we are concerned, God always is saying yes to us, for the Law does not contradict itself and does not care whether we are wise or woeful in the way we think. Essentially it must return to us the results of what we are thinking. It’s as if the Law is saying: You want it; you got it.

Misery begets more misery...

How does this work? In a word or two, we can say that if we are miserable, misery begets more misery; happiness produces more happiness; violence create more violence, and this is taking place whether we know what we are doing or not. We understand that the Law is no respecter of persons. Ernest Holmes, the spiritual philosopher, said that we cannot gather roses from thistles.

Setting a new landmark in place...

So what, you say? Well, this gives new meaning to the popular phrase: Change your thinking; change your life. Things can be different; we can think in new ways, and especially can we view ourselves in new ways, perhaps as Wayne Dyer says, as spiritual beings living a human life. We are coming up on a brand, new year, which can be simply the turning of a calendar page to another day or setting a new landmark in place.

Are we hopeful, self approving....

Let’s look at what we are giving the Law of Mind to say yes to. Are we hopeful, self approving, willing to cast our thoughts in more creative directions so that life holds a positive yes? Or is it cynicism and self laceration as usual, setting the stage for more of the same old same old.

It always says yes...

Mind is not influenced by whether we are young or old, big or small, just starting out or have gone many miles along the way. It always says yes. Let us make it work for us more than ever!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

On Doing More Than You Think You Can

I am convinced that we are far more durable than we think we are. All we have to do is remember some of those tough times we pushed through to know that we are made of pretty good stuff. Recently a PBS special presented a several-episode piece on the lives of the Rooevelts…Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor, which I watched eagerly because Franklin and Eleanor were very present in my life during my growing-up years. To a kid it felt like Franklin Roosevelt was President of the United States forever. Whatever one may think of them or their politics, there is no denying that they pushed through some unbelievable hurdles to become the people they were, especially a disabled Franklin and an unloved and unlovely Eleanor.

What is it that moves us......

What is it that moves us through events into outcomes that give us depth and breadth? What can it be but the spiritual raw material we possess, coupled with the desire to come to resolution, whether it is happy or otherwise? Desire, I think, is the key. Desires keeps us hanging in there when at times we seem to be treading water, or maybe even losing ground. And sometimes hanging in there is all that is available to us during some stretches…and we may know in advance that some resolutions will not bring happiness, only the logical outcome of something we began in good faith. Truly we cannot always direct the way in which the road will turn.

I would not have refused the gifts...

The simple truth is that we have a deep, spiritual core within us that, if we wish, keeps us moving. Some of the facts along the way may not be pretty, but the experiences add dimensions we might never have imagined. Certainly I would never have wished some of the hard places on myself if I had seen them coming, but by the same token, I would not have refused the gifts they brought.

At this Christmas Season, let's celebrate the depth of our spirituality as well as all the gifts that come to us from every direction.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On The Bridge of San Luis Rey


Recently I thought about a small treasure of a book, Thornton Wilder’s sleeping American classic, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, written in 1927. Over a 50-year period I have probably read this three times and always find myself immersed in Wilder’s antique language as he describes the lives of people on an important journey. In brief…the book was set in Lima, Peru on July 20, 1714 and involved a rope bridge on the highroad  between Lima and Cuzco, a bridge used every day by hundreds of people. Without warning, the bridge collapsed and sent five people who happened to be on the bridge at that time crashing to their deaths…an erratic, rich old woman and her maid-child, a twin whose brother had recently died, a middle-aged man of many talents and a child he was going to tutor. Watching this was a Franciscan missionary named Brother Juniper who immediately jumped to the existential conundrum… "Why did this happen to those five?” Did they somehow have an unseen “divine appointment?” He set out to examine their lives to find this connection, only to discover after much research that he could not, and in fact was burned at the stake for his supposed heretical writings, a spillover from the Spanish Inquisition.

Sudden, exotic circumstances...

Many of us like to make something of sudden, exotic circumstances. Whether it is the unfortunates on the Bridge or a plane that crashes with all lives lost, we are busy trying to second guess the Infinite. We love to bedevil ourselves with questions that have unknowable answers until we, like Brother Juniper, must come to the admission that we can’t reason out everything, that there are not always tidy conclusions to our internal seekings. To the western mind it can be deeply unsatisfying to have to stop wrestling with some questions of being and simply let them play out as we live our lives.

How much we become capable of loving...

Perhaps it does not matter how much we try to crawl inside the Mind of God or how many mistakes we may make. What matters more is how we come to know ourselves and how much we become capable of loving. One of Wilder’s characters, an Abbess, said it well: “All, all of us have failed…but do you know that in love---I scarcely dare say it---but in love our very mistakes don’t seem to be able to last long.”

Let this coming Christmas be our bridge...

And finally…”there is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” We could let this coming Christmas be a bridge.

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