Reaching Sunward

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

My Easter Meditation

Père Henri: Do I want to speak of the miracle of our Lord’s divine transformation? Not really, no. I don’t want to talk about his divinity. I’d rather talk about his humanity. I mean, you know, how he lived his life, here on Earth. His *kindness,* his *tolerance.* Listen, here’s what I think. I think that we can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do; by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude.  I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we *embrace,* what we *create* … and who we *include.* ~ Chocolat

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The Golden Rule – Versions from many religions & philosophies

Recently I’ve encountered several articles, websites and conversations discussing the universality of The Golden Rule, also referred to as the “ethics of reciprocity.”  Whenever I get that kind of synchronicity I feel that it’s a prompt to pay attention and share the wisdom…. so here you go.   Talk amongst yourselves.

Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people’s suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal.” The Dalai Lama

Versions of the Golden Rule from different Wisdom Traditions:

Buddhism – Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.   Udanavarga 5.18.

Christianity – Always treat others as you would like them to treat you.  Matthew 7:12.

Confucianism – Do not unto others what you would not they should do unto you.  Analects 15.23.

Hinduism – This is the sum of duty: Do nothing to others which if done to you, would cause you pain.  Mahabharata 5.15.17

Islam – No one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.  Traditions.

Jainism – In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self, and therefore should refrain from inflicting upon others such injury as would appear undesirable to us if inflicted upon ourselves.  Yogashastra 2.20.

Judaism – What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man.  That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary.  Go learn it.  Talmud.

Sikhism – As you deem yourself so deem others.  Then you will become a partner in partner to Heaven.  Kabir.

Taoism – Regard your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.  T’ai shang kan ying p’ien.

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What you can give for Christmas this year that will REALLY matter!

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New Christmas Wishes

Every year at Christmastime I write a little inspirational piece about love, understanding and such things… and I’ll get to that in a minute. First, I want to take a peep under the Christmas tree as it were, and have a look at the shadow side of the season ~ so eloquently stated below by Rush, the Band, and personified, funnily enough, by folks like Rush, the Limbaugh:

Quick to judge
Quick to anger
Slow to understand
Ignorance and prejudice
And fear walk hand in hand

As we approach 2009, a year of profound hope and change, we will also bump against ignorance, prejudice and fear.  So let us be mindful – when we see these shadow elements in ourselves and in others, let’s shine the light of acknowledgment and compassion upon them.  This, after all, is what Christmas is about ~ light in the darkness, warmth in the winter, and hope’s ability to conquer fear.  I am hopeful that those crippled by ignorance and poisoned by anger and fear will be healed, and that’s my deepest Christmas wish this year.  So now, it’s on to the good stuff!

Christmas is a time of Remembrance and Gratitude for the most important things….

Abiding friendship (Anam Cara) ~ the kindness, fun, fidelity and understanding we share

Beauty ~ and the capacity to see it in all that is in and around us

Caring ~ for those we love and for those in need

Compassion ~ and the many times it is given and received

Generosity ~ of heart and resources

Hope ~ and the vitality it brings us

Joy ~ for all that makes us smile

Laughter ~ and the ways it lifts us

Light ~ in ourselves and in all sentient beings

Miracles ~ did you know you’re made of stars?!

Peace ~ “All we are saying is give peace a chance” ~ and we are!

Love ~ which envelops all these things and more…

Wishing you all these gifts, at Christmastime and all through the year.

Merry Christmas and Namaste!

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Things to be Thankful for

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~ Thornton Wilder

I’ve just watched the Paul Newman production of Our Town, and it reminded me of the many precious essentials in life. Coming up on Thanksgiving, it’s a good time to reflect on them…from the commonplace to the magnificent, with a nod to Thornton ~

  • Cleanliness & Beauty – I don’t know about you, but I am really thankful that I can get up in the morning and have a shower with French lavender soap, and moisturize with Origins, put on my face, and dress in beautiful clothing… I know – this is somewhat mundane – but what if everyday was like camping? And, so many people don’t have these little luxuries, which are true gifts. Being surrounded by beauty, being aware of it all around us, appreciating it, lifts the spirit. “It is very necessary to have markers of beauty left in a world seemingly bent on making the most evil ugliness.” ~ T.W.
  • Working and resting – I am especially thankful to be gainfully employed, working in my chosen field for a wonderful and kind boss, and having a fairly strong sense of security in these troubled times.  Work provides us not only with the means to live but with a sense of dignity, and it is my hope that all those looking for work now will find it.  Work is also frequently fulfilling, and rest well deserved. Both are something to be grateful for, for when we’re without work what do we do but search for it? And when we are without rest, we must have it before we can do anything well. “There are the stars doing their old crisscross journeys in the sky. Scholars haven’t settled on it yet but they seem to think there’s no living beings up there – just chalk or fire. Only this one straining away – straining away all the time to make something of itself. And the strain is so bad that every 16 hours, everyone lies down and gets a rest.” ~ T.W.
  • Nature – I’m very grateful for clear nights of star-watching, the sound of running water, and the splendor around us. We have more opportunities than ever to share in the preservation of the environment, and our voices are making a difference. “The planting of trees is the least self-centered of all that we can do. It is a purer act of faith than the procreation of children.” ~ T.W.

Autumn Mandala

  • Books – You can just never have enough books. Remember that Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough at Last” where Burgess Meredith was the last man on Earth and all he wanted to do was read? I can relate.  Books are a joy every day, and every one seems to have something good to tell us about ourselves. “The Cartwright interests have just begun building a new bank…and they’ve asked a friend of mine what they should put in the cornerstone for people to dig up a thousand years from now. Of course we’re putting in a copy of the New York Times…..a Bible, and the Constitution of the United States, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s plays. What do you say folks – what do you think?” ~ T.W.
  • Music – I never go through a day without music, even if it’s singing in the bathtub. My iPod is technology I am super happy to have. “Music came into the world to give pleasure. Get it out of your heads that music’s only good when its loud – you leave loudness to the Methodists – you couldn’t beat ‘em even if you wanted to.” ~ T.W.
  • Friends – I have *really* good friends who are fun, compassionate, caring, intelligent, open, honest, insightful and who just make my day! A special thank-you to all of you – you know who you are. “I’m celebrating that I’ve got a friend that tells me the things that ought to be told me.” ~ T.W.
  • Art and Culture – “Seek the lofty by reading, hearing and seeing great work at some moment every day.” ~ T.W.
  • Travel – “It seems to me, once in your life, before you die, you ought to see a country where they don’t speak any English and they don’t even want to.” ~ T.W. You said it Mrs. Gibbs – and more than once is just fine too!
  • Humor – “The comic spirit is given to us in order that we may analyze, weigh, and clarify things in us which nettle us, or which we are outgrowing, or trying to reshape.” ~ T.W.
  • Little things we take for granted – as Emily: said in Our Town, “Good-bye to clocks ticking…and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you! …Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute? Stage Manager: No. Saints and poets, maybe–they do some.” ~ T.W. Every once in a while I like to pay attention to the little thing we take for granted, like stocked shelves at Whole Foods, the smell of something good cooking, the easy hugs of friends and family, 24-hour electricity, etc.
  • Living in the present – “My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate–that’s my philosophy.” ~ T.W. Time goes by pretty fast and if you don’t pay attention, “you’re 21, 22 years old, you make a few decisions and whap! You’re 70.” ~ T.W.
  • Ice Cream
  • Hope – “Hope, like faith, is nothing if it is not courageous; it is nothing if it is not ridiculous.” ~ T.W. “Hope” was my favorite station as a Rainbow Girl. It’s important to have love, faith, nature, immortality, fidelity, patriotism, service, and charity as values and experiences but for me, hope is a the constant and needed resource that I draw on… hope for myself, the people I love, the World. I am especially thankful this year as we look forward to the inauguration of Barack Obama as our President ~ he is bringing a new sense of hope to the nation and the world.
  • Love – “And we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” ~ T.W.
  • Understanding – “When God loves a creature he wants the creature to know the highest happiness and the deepest misery He wants him to know all that being alive can bring. That is his best gift. There is no happiness save in understanding the whole.” ~ T.W. Yes it’s true, as my wise friend Sabrina said, that if you hadn’t made some bad calls and hadn’t suffered, you wouldn’t be who you are today and you wouldn’t be a complete human being. So let us give thanks for all the dead-end jobs, boyfriends and girlfriends we’d like to forget, ex-spouses, orange shag carpet and Dorothy Hamil haircuts – we learned something!
  • The part of us that’s eternal – “Now there are some things that we all know, but we don’t take them out and look at them all that often. We all know something’s eternal and it ain’t houses, it ain’t names, and it ain’t Earth, and it ain’t even the stars. Everybody knows in their bones something’s eternal. And that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.” ~ T.W.
  • Our address – (substitute your own) “Grover’s’ Corners, Sutton County, New Hampshire, The United States of America, continent of North America, Western Hemisphere, the Earth, the solar system, the Universe, the Mind of God.” ~ T.W

Universe

  • Wisdom that comes with living – “True influence over another comes not from a moment’s eloquence nor from any happily chose word, but from the accumulation of a lifetimes’s thoughts stored up in the eyes.” ~ T.W.
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Making a Difference ~ A list of helpful organizations and their websites

The nice folks at Credo put together this list of organizations that you may be interested in checking out, participating in or giving time and resources to. Pass this list along! More people, more power, more change.

There are so many ways we can all make a difference!!
Peace & International Freedom

Acción International

Provides microloans, business training and other financial services to poor men and women who start their own businesses.

Americans for Peace Now

Campaigns for a nonviolent political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Amnesty International

Takes action to prevent and end abuses of human rights and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.

Center for Victims of Torture

Works to heal the wounds of torture on individuals, their families and their communities and to stop torture around the world.

Doctors Without Borders

Delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics or disasters in over 70 countries.

Global Fund for Children

Advances the dignity of vulnerable children and young people worldwide by supporting and strengthening grassroots groups.

Iraq Veterans Against the War

Gives a voice to the many active-duty service people and veterans who are against the war but under pressure to remain silent.

Oxfam America

Creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and injustice.

Pathfinder International

Provides women and men throughout the developing world with access to family-planning information and services.

Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

Supports women’s rights activists working to create cultures of justice, equality and peace.

Environment

Alliance for Climate Protection

Works under the leadership of Al Gore to persuade people around the world to immediately address global warming.

American Rivers

Protects rivers and raises awareness that they are vital to our health, safety and quality of life.

Center for Biological Diversity

Advocates to secure a future for animals and plants on the brink of extinction and for the wilderness they need to survive.

Earthjustice

Serves as the law firm for the nation’s environment, litigating critical cases to block environmental destruction.

Environmental Working Group

Uses investigative skills to demonstrate the health risks of damaging environmental practices to consumers.

ForestEthics

Holds accountable those corporations that distribute and manufacture products that destroy forests.

Greenpeace

Employs nonviolent action to expose global environmental problems and encourage solutions essential to a green and peaceful future.

NRDC

With the support of members and online activists, NRDC works to solve the most pressing environmental issues we face today: curbing global warming, getting toxic chemicals out of the environment, moving America beyond oil, reviving our oceans, saving wildlife and wild places, and helping China go green.

Ocean Conservancy

Promotes healthy and diverse ocean ecosystems and opposes practices that threaten ocean life and human life.

Organic Farming Research Foundation

Expands availability of organic food by supporting research on best practices in organic farming.

Sierra Club Foundation

Funds projects that promote a safe and healthy environment, clean air, clean water, open space and a healthy, diverse ecosystem.

Economic & Social Justice

America’s Second Harvest

Provides food assistance to more than 25 million low-income hungry people, including 9 million children and 3 million seniors.

Campaign for America’s Future

Challenges the conservative agenda through campaigns such as fighting against the privatization of Social Security.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Conducts research and analysis to inform public debates on budget and tax policy and to ensure the needs of low-income people are considered.

Corporate Accountability International

Campaigns challenging corporate control of water, tobacco industry interference in health policy, and watch-dogging corporate abuses.

Media Matters for America

Monitors, analyzes and corrects conservative disinformation in the U.S. media.

Mother Jones Investigative Fund

Produces journalism that informs and inspires a more just and democratic world.

Ms. Foundation for Women

Creates opportunities for women and girls and encourages investment in them to help them develop their voices and skills.

Physicians for a National Health Program

Engages doctors in the effort to create a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program.

Project On Government Oversight

Investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct to achieve a more accountable federal government.

United for a Fair Economy

Raises awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermines the economy, corrupts democracy and deepens the racial divide.

Civil Rights

Alliance for Justice

Leads efforts to block confirmation of right-wing judges.

Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Campaigns to create an America free from gun violence, where all people are safe in their homes, schools, jobs and communities.

Center for Constitutional Rights

Defends the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Conventions.

Center for National Security Studies

Works for control of the FBI and CIA and to prevent claims of national security from eroding civil liberties and constitutional procedures.

Equality Now

Documents violence and discrimination against women around the world and mobilizes action to stop these human rights abuses.

Family Violence Prevention Fund

Takes action to prevent violence in homes and communities and to help those whose lives are devastated by violence.

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

Promotes accurate media reporting to help eliminate discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

National Center for Lesbian Rights

Advances the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families.

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Works to end the death penalty.

Planned Parenthood

Improves women’s health, prevents unintended pregnancies and advances the right of individuals to make choices about reproductive health.

Voting Rights & Civic Participation

AlterNet

Creates original journalism and amplifies the best of independent media sources to inspire citizen action and advocacy.

Center for Independent Media

Creates independent online investigative journalism in key states where the mainstream media is failing to cover political corruption and progressive issues.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Promotes ethics and accountability in government by exposing political malfeasance and cover-ups of official corruption.

Democracia U.S.A.

Increases the participation of Hispanics in the democratic process through large scale voter registration campaigns and leadership training around progressive issues.

League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Strengthens the environmental movement’s ability to mobilize voters and advocates for sound environmental policies.

New Organizing Institute

Trains young, technology-enabled political organizers to work for progressive organizations.

Project Vote

Registers millions of Americans in low-income and minority communities to vote each year.

Rock the Vote

Engages youth in the political process by incorporating the entertainment community and youth culture into its voter registration and advocacy activities.

USAction Education Fund

Works to take our democracy back from the corporate elite and special interests that dominate the political process today.

Wellstone Action

Honors the legacy of Paul and Sheila Wellstone by continuing their work to educate and mobilize a vast network of progressive people and organizations.

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Marianne Williamson – Yes we did!

This article was written by Marianne Williamson – I’m posting because I can’t say it any better!

America has had a non-violent revolution.

As long as there are historians writing about the United States, this moment of fundamental re-alignment of our national purpose will be remembered, poured over and analyzed. It will be seen as one of the shining points along the evolutionary arc of the American story. Yet it will never submit itself to being summed up nicely in a little package that reason alone can understand.

It’s been noted before that Americans get excited about politics every forty years. Then, in the words of comedian Will Rogers, “We have to go sleep it off.”

We were certainly excited in the l960’s. This is 2008, remember; exactly forty years since the most dramatic and violent year of the Sixties decade: the year when both Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were literally killed before our eyes.

At that point, a generation of young people — looking much like the youthful army so out in full force today, only grungier — marched in the streets to repudiate an oppressive system and to try to stop an unjust war. Yet bullets stopped us. The shots that killed the Kennedy’s and King carried a loud, unspoken message for all of us: that we were to go home now, that we were to do whatever we wanted within the private sector, yet leave the public sector to whomever wanted it so much that they were willing to kill for it. And for all intents in purposes, we did as we were told.

According to ancient Asian philosophers, history moves not in a circle but in a spiral. Whether as individuals or as nations, whatever lessons we were presented once and failed to learn will come back again, but in a different form. For the generation of the Sixties and for our children, the lessons of that time — as well as its hopes and dreams and idealism — came back in 2008.

During our forty years in the desert, we learned many things. Then, we marched in the streets; this time, we marched to the polls. Then, we shouted, “Hell no, we won’t go.” This time, we shouted, “Yes, we can.” Then, we were so angry that our anger consumed us. This time, we made a more compassionate humanity the means by which we sought our goal as well as the goal itself.

In the words of Gloria Steinem, “I feel like our future has come back.” And indeed it has. For in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “No lie can last forever.” What Bobby Kennedy tried to do, and was killed for trying; what Martin Luther King tried to do, and was killed for trying; what the students at Kent state were trying to protest, and were killed for daring to; Barack Obama and his army of millions of idealists with the audacity to hope have now succeeded at doing.

Praise God. Praise God.

And that praise to God didn’t just go out last night, when Obama’s election to the Presidency was finally achieved. That praise was part of what allowed the waters to part here in the first place. Millions of Americans have been deeply aware that this kind of historic and fundamentally positive effort has not gone well in the recent past, and the spiritual understanding of this generation of Americans — an understanding not yet fully formed forty years ago — created an invisible light around the Obama campaign. How many people over the last twenty-one months have posted, in their own way, angels to Obama’s left and angels to his right, angels in front of him and angels behind him, angels above him and angels below him. I know I have, and so has everyone I know. May we continue to do so.

The Obama phenomenon did not come out of nowhere. It emerged as much from our story as from his; as much from our yearning for meaning as from his ambition to be President; as much from our determination to achieve collective redemption as from his determination to achieve an individual accomplishment. And those who fail to recognize the invisible powers at work here — who bear witness to the external political events, yet fail to discern the profound forces at work in this campaign that moved mountains by moving the American heart — well, they’re just like Bob Dylan’s Thin Man to whom he sang, “You don’t know what’s going on here, do you, Mr. Jones?”

Back then, Mr. Jones didn’t know what was going on, but we did. We knew what was going on then and we knew what needed to happen; but we simply weren’t mature enough and we were too wounded then, as people and as a culture, to pull it off.

Yet this time, we both knew and we did. The violent American revolution of 1776 entailed separating from another country. The non-violent revolution of 2008 — a non-violent revolution that did not quite fail, yet also did not quite succeed in the l960’s — has entailed separating from who we used to be.

In the l960’s, we wanted peace — but we were angry. Yet this time, after hearing Gandhi’s call that we must be the change we want to see happen in the world, we came to our political efforts with a deeper understanding that we must cast violence from our hearts and minds if we are to cast it from our world; that we must try to love our enemies as well as our friends; and that when a genius of world-historic proportions emerges among us, we cannot and we must not fail to do everything humanly and spiritually possible to support him. For his sake… and for ours.

Having gone to a higher plane within ourselves, a higher level of leadership then emerged among us. A higher level of leader now having emerged among us, he calls us to an even higher plane within ourselves. And these two forces together can and will, as Obama has told us, truly change the world. Having moved one mountain, we will now go about the work of trying to remove the ones that remain.

With God’s help, yes we can. Yes we did. And yes we will.

Marianne Williamson is the author of Healing the Soul of America. Her website is www.marianne.com.

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Yes We Can

Oh, yes we can people!

Robert F. Kennedy said, “Let no one be discouraged by the belief that there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills — against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence… Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation… It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man (or a woman) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he (or she) sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. {And elsewhere he said} Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws–but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted–when we tolerate what we know to be wrong–when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened–when we fail to speak up and speak out–we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.”

And ~ We are the Ones! Anne Lamott reminds us that Martin Luther King Jr. said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward freedom.”  Molly Ivins said “freedom fighters don’t always win, but they’re always right.”  Our road has been long but we are moving once again towards freedom, and together we can make the difference that brings hope to all of us and to the world.  Sí Se Puede. It’s our time to win.

There is hope, and it is US.  Lift up your voice!

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.
Yes we can.
It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom.
Yes we can.
It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.
Yes we can.
It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballots; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.
Yes we can to justice and equality.
Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity.
Yes we can heal this nation.
Yes we can repair this world.
Yes we can.
We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change. (We want change.)
We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics…they will only grow louder and more dissonant ……….. We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.
But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.
Now the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea: Yes We Can.

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The Important Moments in Life

“Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings,  not the great goals achieved.  The real milestones are less prepossessing.  They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave.  Our lives are measured by these.” ~ Susan B. Anthony

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to start a new journal with a catalogue of your most important life moments.  Describe each of the moments.  Include drawings, pictures, cuttings, clippings, a list of people who were there, a reference to the song that was playing, what scent was on the breeze, how you felt, how it makes you feel to remember the moment now.  There is no limit to the number of moments you catalog.  They can be moments that were happy, sad, life-changing, or quiet moments of appreciation or epiphany.  Update your journal as memories come back to you. Update your journal as your life goes on.  Include in your journal a list of important moments that haven’t happened yet but that you wish for.  Turn back to the list some years from now and see if those wishes came true.  Make copies of your journal or parts of it and share it with your loved ones.  Leave your journal to your children or your friends when you pass on.  This is one of the true records of *you*.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~ Thornton Wilder

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Enlightenment Tools

In Transcending the Levels of Consciousness, David Hawkins offers “Simple Tools of Great Value,” asserting that spiritual enlightenment is not necessarily complex or the result of many years of study, but rather knowing and applying a few simple tools with consistency, and devotion to spiritual truth.

Simple Truths of Great Value (pg. 333-334)

  1. Be kind to everything and everyone, including oneself, all the time, with no exception.
  2. Revere all life in all its expressions, no matter what, even if one doesn’t understand it.
  3. Presume no actual reliable knowledge of anything at all. Ask God/Universe to reveal its meaning.
  4. Intend to see the hidden beauty of all that exists – it then reveals itself.
  5. Forgive everything that is witnessed and experienced, no matter what. Remember Christ, Buddha and Krishna all said that all error is due to ignorance.  Socrates said all men can choose only what they believe to be the good.
  6. Approach all life with humility and be willing to surrender all positionalities and mental/emotional arguments or gain.
  7. Be willing to forgo all perceptions of gain, desire, or profit and thereby be willing to be of selfless service to life in all of its expressions.
  8. Make one’s life a living prayer by intention, alignment, humility, and surrender. True spiritual reality is actually a way of being in the world
  9. By verification, confirm the levels of consciousness and spiritual truth of all teachers, teachings, spiritual groups, and literature with which one intends to be aligned or a student of.
  10. Accept that by spiritual declaration, commitment, and surrender, Knowingness arises that provides support, information, and all that is needed for the entire journey,
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The Oneness of it all…

Today, my fav columnist Mark Morford wrote another fantastic piece about the oneness of it all… and in it he said … [remember that] “all matter, no matter how disgusting, joyful, vile or beautiful, is merely energy, that everything emanates from and returns to the same divine source, that all dualities of good/bad disgusting/delicious love/hate collapse together into the same moment. There is no difference. Grossness is merely a perception. Joy is merely an illusive state. Where they collapse into one, there lies the truth…You get the idea? Somehow, some way, you gotta take it all in, sit right in the center of it, conscious of all but attached to none, and be OK. It’s all just energy. It’s all the same divine breath of god, blowing in your ear, whispering sweet everythings. Collapse it all together. Shake, stir, swallow it down with a bow and a humble smile. Tasty, no?”

The idea here being, can we live in the world but not be of the world? Can we be grounded and awakened amidst our circumstances – the people around us, our jobs, our concerns, the things we think of as good and bad, right or wrong – and realize that none of that is the core of truth? That truth lies behind it all?

You know, good question.

I often feel segmented into the Spiritual me – the mediator, reader, pray-er, seeker – and the person that has to do and experience life. The goal for me is to bring the two aspects together… to wash dishes Mindfully, as it were …. to be spiritually awake during my workday, my commute, my stressful interaction with someone who is difficult to work with. To be grounded in the Oneness while experiencing uncertainty about the future, rethinking of the past, manifesting my desires. To realize my essential nature is the consciousness in which all things – my feelings, thoughts, perceptions, actions and circumstances – arise and subside.

Being in this state is its own reward because it allows you to feel at peace… and its a reward for everyone else too, because in this state we bring peace and lovingkindness into the world, raising the consciousness bar for everyone. It’s a happy place.

” The perfect and the imperfect, the sacred and the profane, beautiful and the ugly, sinner and the saint, evil and good are all manifestations of the one divine consciousness. This is the reality of an awakened being.

The nature of existence is bliss. it is qualified by auspicious qualities of love, compassion, connectedness and silence. Man’s consciousness is fettered by concepts, ideas, conditioning and mental constructs.

“When consciousness is purged of all its contamination, what remains is life – pure consciousness or God.”

Sri Bhagavan


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Put it in the “Things I have learned” box and stop beating yourself up

So this morning I was getting ready for work and my thoughts turned to this decision I made a few years ago, and it turned out (in hindsight) to be a huge career mistake which has delayed my progress, postponed my goals and dreams, and generally has taken me down a road I didn’t want to travel… and I felt (once again) really bad about myself, and stupid for making this mistake. Even when I ran through the reasons why, and the rationale I had at the time, it still causes me tension and angst that I did this. And there were other mistakes… I married that guy. I trusted that person whom I knew to be untrustworthy. You know, the usual. So then later today I was talking to a friend about a guy she had dated (dating is really not the right word, but it’s more ladylike) and he’s calling her again, and my advice to her was to put that guy and that situation in the “Things I have learned and don’t need to learn again, thank you very much” part of her journal, or heart or mind. And then I realized “oh – this applies to me too.” Epiphany. Doh!

So yeah, I figure that you, and I, and all our friends who are intelligent and humane and have good intentions, as well as compassion and a healthy sense of wanting to do the right thing for ourselves and others, we can look at those mistakes from the past, take the nugget of learning out, and then put the experience in the “things I have learned” box.” So you get to look at it, roll it around, squeeze the wisdom out, then throw out the empty peel. Go ahead – do it now.

Also, you can now stop thinking of yourself as: stupid, lame, ridiculous, evil, bad-tempered, lacking the sense that God gave watermelon, unable to control your impulses, etc. This bad decision – the Jagermeister, the wedding, the decision to move to the Valley, whatever – this decision happened in the past. You only knew what you knew then. Even if you vaguely felt at the time that this decision had a red flag, (ok, me too) you still went ahead with it, and here you are – older, wiser. You could still be living with the consequences, or not. You could suffer moments of regret and subsequent self-torture while driving, or trying to sleep, or whenever. My advice to myself (and to anyone who wants to take it) is to remember that ~

  • it’s now in the past
  • you can’t change it
  • you can accept it and go forward
  • you learned something
  • if you really learned it you will probably make better decisions in the future
  • you’re human, it’s ok to make mistakes (ok, this one may take me awhile to believe)
  • put it in the “things I’ve learned” box and stop hitting yourself with it

It’s pretty refreshing, isn’t it? Maybe it will help you to write them down, in a column to the left entitled “Mistakes” and a column to the right entitled “What I learned.” Maybe just the realization that you have the power and the permission to put these things in the past will help. The cool part is, you get to stop feeling bad about this. You are now free to make new decisions. Whoo hoo!


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Easter Messages

My Easter meditation ~

Père Henri: Do I want to speak of the miracle of our Lord’s divine transformation? Not really, no. I don’t want to talk about his divinity. I’d rather talk about his humanity. I mean, you know, how he lived his life, here on Earth. His *kindness,* his *tolerance.* Listen, here’s what I think. I think that we can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do; by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we *embrace,* what we *create* … and who we *include.* ~ Chocolat

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“OK – Yes”

Acceptance

There’s an Italian man who says “OK – Yes” to almost every situation in Under the Tuscan Sun. When the wall he is working on starts to rumble and crumble and begins to fall down, he runs outside with everyone and says, “OK – Yes.” Now, those may not be the first couple of words you hear yourself saying when things are stressful, or crumbling around you. But, if you can manage to say “OK – Yes” to any situation, it enables you to recover and move on more quickly than if you resist, complain, curse, or punish yourself or others. Eckhart Tolle has a metaphor for this too. He says, if you find your self stuck in the mud, you can curse it and complain about it, try to figure out why the mud is there in the first place, and flail around, but you will still be in stuck in the mud – and you’ll just be a bit dirtier. Instead of resisting the mud, say “OK – Yes, I see that I am stuck in the mud, I don’t like it, and now I’m going to do what it takes to get out.” Coming from a place of acceptance allows you to move forward more constructively, and freer of the psychological pain that comes with being opposed to the present moment. Acceptance allows you to deal with it and move on, while resistance keeps you stuck.

“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Alignment

Yesterday a friend described how her rowing team works together. She’ll be competing in a world-wide competition, and her coach has taught them that “rowing like a jackass” will not win the race. In rowing, the forward motion of the boat not only depends upon the exertion of the rowers, but also on the alignment of the rowers with the forward movement of the boat. If you’re “rowing like a jackass,” you are not only wasting energy, you are creating negative momentum by pushing your body toward your feet while the boat is moving in the opposite direction. Teams who win are not the ones rowing hardest, but the ones in which each team mate is rowing in alignment with the boat and with her team mates. This seems like a great analogy for living a peaceful life – stop rowing like a jackass, for one. Also, it helps to have good team mates. And finding your sense of alignment, and staying with it, will move you forward.

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Forgiveness

What does forgiveness really mean? I’ve been thinking about this for several years and struggling with the implications of what forgiveness includes and what it doesn’t include. After much reading and discussion, here’s what I’ve come up with:

What forgiveness means:

  • Forgiveness means you don’t act in retribution or vengeance to the person who has wronged you. You don’t punish or retaliate.
  • Forgiveness means you do (or can) wish for the person who has wronged you, “May the Lord give you Peace” – this is the stance you take toward the person in your heart.
  • You realize that forgiveness is a gift you are giving yourself in the sense that you are only responsible for *your* own behavior – you are not responsible for how someone else acts or responds. Letting go of your own anger and hatred sets you free.
  • You may open the door to the person to restore the relationship.

What forgiveness does not mean:

  • Forgiveness does not mean you are saying what the person did is OK.
  • Forgiveness does not mean you have any obligation to continue in the relationship with the person. You can forgive and also protect yourself from toxic people and toxic relationships by no longer engaging in those relationships. Really, its ok. Even if it’s your mother or your brother or your son, you can say to them – or just in your own mind – that “I understand your behavior and I wish no ill to come to you, and (as Bishop Tutu said) I am not going to let you victimize me and hold me in a position where I have an anger against you, a resentment, and [in which] I’m looking for the opportunity to pay back.”
  • You may decide to continue in the relationship, and “turn the other cheek”- but I recommend being watchful for patterns of behavior that continue. Destructive behavior is not acceptable, even if it is forgivable.
  • Forgiving someone does not necessarily mean that the pain of the situation will go away – this usually takes time and is not usually an act of the will.

What does the person being forgiven need to do?

  • If you offer someone who has wronged you the gift of forgiveness, the person being forgiven must open herself to it in order to receive it. They can do do this by confessing, apologizing or by seeking atonement. (see Bishop Tutu’s remarks on this below)

What is the spiritual element of forgiveness?

  • Rob Brezsny says “The 17th-century surgeon Wilhelm Hilden had an interesting theory about healing. He developed a medicinal salve that he applied not to the wound itself but rather to the weapon that inflicted it. Though today we may sneer at such foolishness, the fact is that Hilden’s approach has great potential if used for psychic wounds. Jesus understood this when he articulated the revolutionary formula, “Love your enemy.” More than any other action, this strategy has the power to cure you of the distortions your enemy has unleashed in you. Try it out.”
  • In Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen describes love and forgiveness as unconditional. “Though this is not a novel idea, Nouwen’s approach is arguably unique as he approached this theme from the angles of the younger son, the elder son, and the father. Each captures the unconditional quality of love and forgiveness in their own way. The younger son’s life shows how the beloved lives a life of misery by thinking he can be loved only by meeting certain qualifications of the lover (which he fails to meet). The elder son’s actions shows how the beloved can be depressed because he thinks he should receive greater love because he has done all the right things (i.e., that he has met these qualifications). The father alone understands how to love and forgive and is able to do so and be happy. Nouwen explains that we are the younger son at times (when we think we don’t deserve love or the forgiveness) and the elder son at times (when we think we deserve love or that another doesn’t deserve it more than us), but that we are all called to be like the father (and that only by being like the father can we come closer to being loved as we should be loved).”

Here’s what Desmond Tutu has to say about forgiveness, from Bill Moyers Journal, 12/28/07

ARCHBISHOP TUTU: I would hope that the world would realize that there is no situation that is not transfigurable, that there is no situation of which we can say, ‘This is absolutely, totally devoid of hope,’ because that is what people thought about South Africa. And that the star turns of this report are those we wrongly call just ordinary people. There are no ordinary people in my theology, but it is the small people, the ones who used to be nonentities, they are the stars and for the world to know that those called-so-called ordinary people are incredible.

BILL MOYERS: What do you actually do when you forgive someone?

ARCHBISHOP TUTU: Well, basically, you are saying ‘I am abandoning my right to revenge, to payback. I mean, I have… By the fact that you have abused me, you have hurt me, or -whatever it is that you have done, you have wronged me. By that you have given me a certain right as – over you that I could refuse to forgive you. I could say that I have the right to retribution.’ When I forgive, I say, ‘I jettison that right, and I open the door of opportunity to you, to make a new beginning.’ That is what I do when I forgive you.

BILL MOYERS: But the Buddhists talk of letting go of the past, dying to the past, when you forgive, of letting loose of the sorrow that you have brought with you from the past. Is that what you’re talking about?

ARCHBISHOP TUTU: Yes. The thing is, of course that I don’t know that you yourself are able, by an act of will, as it were, to let go of the pain. The will part of it, where your will is, deliberately to say, ‘I am not going to let you victimize me and hold me in a position where I have an anger against you, a resentment, and I’m looking for the opportunity to pay back.’ I am saying. ‘I want to let go of that-that right, and begin to work for the possibility of restoring the relationship.

BILL MOYERS: Do I have to do anything – the person being forgiven?

ARCHBISHOP TUTU: For your own sake, the only way you can appropriate forgiveness is by confessing. That opens you to the possibility of being able to receive it. It’s like, it’s like opening up a window. You see forgiveness can be likened to the fresh air that is outside or the sunlight that is outside and you have a room and the windows are closed and the curtains are drawn. The wind is still out there, my forgiveness is still available to you, but it won’t find access until you open the window and the light streams in. You draw the curtains apart and the fresh air comes in. You by your contrition and confession, say I am sorry, forgive me, open and my forgiveness enters your being.

BILL MOYERS: We’re talking here about genocide, torture. Are genocide and torture forgivable?

ARCHBISHOP TUTU: As a Christian, you have to say, ‘Are there things that are unforgivable?’ I’m afraid we follow a lord and master who at the point when they are crucifying him in the most painful way can say, ‘Pray for their forgiveness.’ And we follow the one who says, ‘Forgive one another as God and Christ forgave you.’ That is for us the paradigm. We may not always reach to that ideal, but that is the standard.

For further inspiration, see No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu

No Future Without Forgiveness

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