Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On Fear

At this point in my life, I have known only a handful of people who were fearless. I have no idea how they came into life this way, and I’m not sure they do either. In fact some of them cannot recognize fear when they see it. I remember talking with a fearless friend who asked me what was wrong with one of our companions. When I said simply, “Well, she’s afraid,” he could not imagine why. Blessed folks these. How wonderful it must be to have no root of fear in the mind at all!

I know fear...

Now I do not happen to be one of these. I know fear; I have experienced it, and I understand it. There is, of course, existential fear, which involves possible injury or loss of life through illness, accident or dangerous situations; and there is the more common fear that occurs when the really-creatively fearful can make up scary scenarios that may or may not ever happen, yet the juices are at work. Common fear would be the easiest to dismantle if we do not become addicted to the mind-clouding, heart-rattling mindset that immediately forms when something frightening confronts us. Believe me, it is worth the effort to work at thinking through, praying through, walking through the bug-a-boo before us, one step at a time, one episode at a time because we may need all our heart forces to face an existential fear that sometimes surfaces. Then we will need all our practiced fear reducers to serve us.

Take heart, friends!

Take heart, friends! We have lots of company. If we are presently fully engaged in living, every day there will be something dark and dismal to walk through, something that can scare the be-Jesus out of us if we let it. The media will see to that. And when we do put one foot in front of the other and keep our minds and hearts under control, no matter now tenuous, passing through whatever we must, I call that learned, cultivated courage.

Courage is a badge of honor....

For my money, such courage is a badge of honor we should wear quietly within our hearts. We’ve earned it.

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 You might also enjoy "On Change"

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

On Revelation

One of the truly wonderful things about a belief in the unity of all life is that the believer has a sense of revelation moving within him or her. This is one of the great meanings of Oneness; we are the consistent receivers of what the Divine has for us, and this streams through us as a kind of unfolding all day every day. Sometimes we have a strong and powerful sense of it, sometimes just nuances, sometimes nothing really, except the practiced mind set that knows some form of revelation is always at hand.

Whiz bang thunderbolt...

Wouldn’t we love to get a whiz bang thunderbolt to the mind wherein an entire revelation spreads out before us…and sometimes, when we least expect it, this does happen. Mostly, though, we experience a continuous gift that moves through us as we live our lives one day at a time. Sometimes the gift is so quiet and unassuming that we can miss it if we are too cluttered. To that I would say, regrettable but no big deal. We need not add to the clutter by piling on dismay as well. It is enough to know that revelation never ceases. It is always a part of our divine nature and surfaces every chance it gets. Does a wonderful healing sometimes show up in a better way than we had planned? Perhaps an answer simply surfaces to a problem we had been wrestling with.

A lighter heart...

If we are spiritually inclined, whether we take up a formal study or not, the attention that we give to our inner interests will bear fruit as crisper thinking and a lighter heart. We discover that people do not have to do what we have in mind, and everything does not have to lay itself out to suit us. It is very human to doubt and then to know, to doubt and then to know, and it is one of the paths that revelation will take.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

When Nothing's Working...

  Adversarial camps...      

In the my-way-or-the-highway world of the west, you can be sure that the time will come when nothing’s working. There is no open road; nothing meshes, and everyone seems firmly planted in their adversarial camps…very much like today’s House and Senate members of the U.S .Congress.. We, the people, are watching and waiting for wisdom to appear somewhere.

Banded adversaries...

Blessedly we individuals not running for public office have our own wisdoms to unleash, and even the smallest amount of letting go of our cherished positions allows for the magic of flow to begin to take place. It begins with a softening of the mind, and sometimes a non-verbal clue or gesture can signal an opening when a stout word only reinforces gridlock. Given the briefest opening, sometimes a niggling thought emerges that says, “This is really dumb.” It’s a lot tougher for banded adversaries…like Congress…to allow such openings, but individuals have the freedom to renew their thoughts and actions and let them turn around.

Breakdowns occur...

In the world of relationships of all kinds, breakdowns occur. The violent and unhealthy may shoot their way to another reality, but people who have safety inside them also know that all hard places can pass. Sometimes it is enough to just lay back for awhile and let the built-up “heat” begin to cool. People who have been at relationships for a while know to “let be” so that love and reason…which actually do work together…can resurface. It is natural for harmonious accord to begin to appear. It is unnatural when it does not and usually means that someone or something keeps poking a sore.

Quieting thought...

There is that place in us that knows that, if we say one more word, we’ll be into a world of push-back. It takes restraint, constraint and sometimes a whole lot of quieting thought to know that healing takes place in its own time and its own way; sometimes it cannot be hurried and certainly cannot be forced.

More Essays About Everything is now available on Amazon

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

On Right Mindfulness and Right Effort


Anyone who has the least interest in Buddhism knows of the Eight-Fold Path of Virtue, which includes eight guidelines to ethical living. Whether we are religiously or spiritually minded or not, they offer a clear and simple road to good living. Their titles may have varied over time, but their messages continue to resonate. Two in particular have been favorites of mine.

Divinely-centered mind....

Right Mindfulness is not rocket science. Its meaning is simple but not necessarily easy to practice. How are we thinking? What are we thinking, and is the mind an open way for spiritual insight, or so full of conflicting desires and fears that we are pulled in every direction? Certainly there were far fewer distractions in the Buddha’s world than there are today which, of course, makes it more challenging to simplify our lives, but the intention to do so helps to create a healthy focus. We may not choose to live in convents or monasteries but the divinely-centered mind goes with us everywhere.

Conscious awareness...

Right Effort is definitely for the here and now. We are energetic beings, and we have choices on how and where we shall use these energies. Are we a stand for good in the world? Do we consider the wants and needs of our brothers and sisters in life as important as our own? These questions can be a light to our ways and a simple means to help us recognize how we are using our powerful energies. Energy is not a monolith; it is more a flexible, dynamic that we can route and re-route any way we choose, but it must be under our hand to use creatively. Conscious awareness of our efforts means everything, especially in today’s global society.

Old ideas perhaps, but right before our eyes every day.

More Essays About Everything is now available on Amazon

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

On Boundaries

As a believer in the Oneness of all life, it is easy and fun for me to sense and imagine the deep connections that living things share, even with parts of life that seem inanimate. There is comfort in believing that all are in this life together, even during difficult times, because the nature of connection keeps trying to establish and re-establish itself as a natural order of things. Sometimes we can see the linkages showing up before our eyes.

"Form is necessary"....

Still, in the midst of all this, are the obvious separations we all share because of the forms we inhabit. Cosmologist, Ernest Holmes, once wrote that “form is necessary to recognition,” to which we say, of course, but how firm and distinct should these boundaries be? We need enough of a personal boundary to keep others from intruding on our senses of well being. No one should ever get to wipe his feet on our souls. But when is our boundary so tightly closed that we keep out the experiences that bless us as well as those that hurt?

Something of a paradox....

Shared Oneness combined with the separation caused by personal forms is something of a paradox, isn’t it? And we are always adjusting to the expansion and contractions of together…apart…together…apart. But there is nothing for us but to participate in this glorious conundrum. We may ask: How can I continue to swim in the perfect flow of Being and remember that I am a unique swimmer as well? How can I keep my personal ego from overwhelming the gifts that the non-ego has to give?

One, magnificent challenge...

Life is one, magnificent challenge. The believer loves the harmony of unity while being caught in the contradictions of managing a personal experience, which is one of the Gifts of the Spirit. We can do both. We will do both. The expertise comes in learning how.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

On Regeneration


Since we like to use nature’s seasonal changes as arbitrary times for beginnings and endings, I wrote a blog last week on completions, suggesting that the close of the year was a good time to close out unfinished business. By the same token I am using this week’s blog as a good time for regeneration. We are into a brand new year, which is a time for beginnings. Now some of us dragging a little mileage behind us may think that there may not be much that is new to us anymore, but I say no to this thinking. Every time we get up in the morning (or whatever passes for morning) we are into a new, unrepeatable day. Yesterday’s feet-on-the-ground don’t count anymore. Today’s feat (pun intended) always contains something as yet unknown to be lived.

Most priceless gift...

Are we thinking of those who love and care about us because of the many gifts of ourselves that we have given over time? Not necessarily because of what we have done but because of who we are. As she grew older, my sainted mother frequently mourned the things she could no longer do and often felt she was useless. No matter what her children said, she seemed not to realize that simply having her in our lives was enough for us. Hers was a line of thinking I do not recommend, for it tends to set aside the most priceless gift we have to give.


We cannot be any more present than we are at this moment, so let us be very excitably and all-tingly present. Even as the new year begins to lay itself out in both knowable and unknowable events and possibilities, we can welcome them as adventures that are ours, or we can blunt their edges with front-loaded disinterest and dismay. I don’t recommend this either. Who knows what we might miss?

Ready or not...

2016 is here, unknown, unlived, a lifetime in waiting. Ready or not, so are we!

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You might enjoy "On the Life of the Mind"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

On Completions

The old year is dying. There are only a few days left to it, and many of us make quite a big deal of it with big-time celebrations and much whooping and hollering. Nature, of course, does not seem to care about the change of times and seasons. It does not take note of rain or shine, nor is it upset when the weather roars. We, however, are, and beginnings and endings seem to mean a lot to us, so we might as well make use of the finishing year and make our completions.

Ceremonial sorts...

Since many of us seem to be ceremonial sorts, why not use these closing days of 2015 to bring closure to things that have been hanging fire? Is there a deal or project we have been demurring over…let’s get it done. Maybe there is an old friend or colleague we have not touched base with for a while…let’s make that call, and a live call it should be, not a text or a tweet.

Mindless wool gathering...

There is something to be said for making completions at a time that invites them, which the year end does. Nature may not care about calendar dates, but we do, and we can make use of these self-imposed starts and stops to be as creatively engaged in living as possible. How many beautiful songs mourn the time that slipped away while we were not watching? Well, we don’t have to be subject to such mindless wool gathering. We can create our own endings with our heart’s love and very present attentiveness while we are really living, not just passing time.

God's "wonderful surprises"...

And guess what? There is no completion that does not lead to a regeneration just around the corner. If we are up for them, some of these turn out to be some of God’s “wonderful surprises!”

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