Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Am a Little Pencil...

I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world. - Mother Teresa

I have just moved forward toward publishing the book I have been working on - off and on - for a while now. There has been a period in which I could not do much writing and I was frustrated about it, feeling like I was failing, but I have now realized that I have actually been working on it more "on" than "off", even if it did not seem so. Events of my life have been telling the story, with me living the book even when I was not writing. The experiences ARE the book - the seeking, the learning, the practicing - all a necessary part of what is being said. It is one thing to write about something from your head, telling others how to be, but the experience of living it, obstacles and all, makes it from the heart. To write this book from the heart, from the soul, I needed to live it fully, and God provided me with wonderful opportunities to "practice what I preach".

I needed to learn to let go of my own fears and just trust Him, knowing that everything we need is provided at exactly the time we need it, and when we are ready to allow it. I needed to clear areas of my life that were holding me back, some of which had been holding me back my entire life, patterns that ran deep. I needed to learn to love me, because the love I give others is not complete until I really love and appreciate myself. I needed to learn that I am deserving, and special, and that I have many gifts from God to share with the world, to help make it a better place. I needed to let go of the effects of a world that beats us up, telling us that we are less, forcing us to conform to its way, which are not always in line with who we really are.

At the beginning of this year, I started hosting a facebook page studying "A Course In Miracles". Its ideas correspond to many of the thoughts on this blogsite, and the ideas that I have been learning since I started down this journey of spiritual awakening. ACIM shows us a systematic path on which to undo some of our worldly conditioning so that we can return to God in a truer fashion, through returning to our own power that is activated by love. It shows us how to release our fear emotions, which include doubt, guilt, judgment, and uncertainty. Although I had studied ACIM previously, going throught the exercises again at this time, after I had cleared many obstacles, has been immensely helpful. Doing it with others through facebook, I believe, has given me an added power. As we seek to grow spiritually, we are uplifted by others who are doing the same.

As I move forward in finishing the book and publishing it, I keep in mind Mother Teresa'a quote and ask to be a little pencil in the hand of God. I know these experiences I have had are through God, and I ask to be an accurate messenger of ideas that will help others find God, find peace, find love for themselves and others so that our world can be a better place. If you have enjoyed this blogsite, please hold me up in the light to help me complete this task in a way that brings light to others.

We are all pencils of God, whether we are writing, expressing other gifts, or simply living in a way that shows compassion and acceptance of others, remembering that we are all One. Find your avenue to be a little pencil, to open to your gifts and share with others. Your life will have new meaning and you will have more joy and peace.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Giving In Secret

For the last week the world has been united in compassion for Haiti. Tragedy is a powerful bonding agent. It touches our hearts and gives us moments of understanding that we are all One. In those moments, love flows through conflict, through discrimination, through resistance. These moments become more than unfortunate and painful events - they are not punishment from God for misdeeds - rather, they are opportunties to renew the love in our hearts. On a daily basis and without those strong reminders, we have a harder time staying in that place of compassion.

Many people and organizations become moved to help, to give, to send love and prayers, which is a great thing. However, there is an element of grandstanding that can also occur in an event of this magnitude, as people use it as an opportunity to get notoriety for themselves or their groups. I want to be careful not to sound too critical here. As Aesop said, "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." But I also want to remind that gifts given quietly from the heart may have more impact on our souls - because they are void of ego. It can be difficult to keep ego out of the equation, and the need or desire to publicize what is given can be an indicator of where we are. If we can refrain from marketing what we have given, then it tells us that the gifts are from the heart and for the sake of giving, not for receiving recognition.

When we give and broadcast it, there is something lost. Our gifts become much more meaningful and soulfully rewarding when they are quiet, not subject to examination by others, not subject to our ego's need for boasting, not subject to gaining publicity or public accolades. I think that is what Jesus was saying in this passage that he Bible credits to him:

2"So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

3"But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

4so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6: 2-4)

I don't think Jesus was saying that it was entirely bad to give publicly, but that it is not the best and purest way to give, and does not indicate that there is full communion with God. While we benefit from giving either way, the need to be noticed for it speaks of a need to impress, of an inner feeling of being unworthy and the need to earn acceptance. There is a fine line between charity for charity's sake and charity that is partly for pride's sake; the pride tarnishes the beauty of the charity. Therein lies the root of our soul's troubles. That need serves as a sign that we are still not understanding that God thinks we are perfect and wonderful, and only our negative thoughts about ourselves keep us from Him. So that need to tell everyone can serve as an indicator or gauge of where we are spiritually - as individuals, as a church or other group.

Many might say that giving publicly helps awareness and encourages others to give, but even that suggests a competition or underlying guilt. Certainly with our media coverage, the levels of giving would be well known whether or not they are credited by name. I encourage you to increase your charity to others...whether it be through money, through time, through a commitment to go out each day and be a light to others by your ways. But try to do it quietly, where you will know that ego is not involved in it; then you will know your own sincerity. It simply allows you a level of soulful connection with God, not man, that can be liberating. It is an opportunity to live in the world but not of it.

God Bless Haiti - and let us thank the people of Haiti for opening our hearts through their difficulties and their courage in adversity.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Honoring Dr. King's Message

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged us all to be better, to think better. His ideas were so ahead of his time that he lost his life over them, at the hand of others who acted in fear of the changes that his thoughts might bring about. Dr. King helped us progress by shining light to drive out darkness.

Each of us has come to this world as light, with the purpose of illuminating the darkness. This is why humans progress - because we know that is our purpose. Those individuals like Dr. King, who are willing to be that light against the odds, help us to be better people, help us to love one another in actions rather than just in words. It is interesting to me that those who opposed Dr. King did so very much in the name of God and Christianity, quoting Biblical scripture to justify their actions. In hindsight, most of us can see that was in error, yet so many well meaning people do the same thing today in justifying their hatred.

Recently, I saw a declaration that "the Bible is not PC" (meaning Politically Correct). I pondered that statement, knowing that the bearer of the message was probably meaning to convey that since the Bible did not use "PC" terms, then we should never consider them. It was intended to be a clever "buzz statement" that I'm certain has been repeated over and over by many who think that it demonstrates their dedication to the Bible and to God.

Then I thought about the Bible's politics...the ideas of the times were that women were essentially worthless, wealthy men held all the rights and power, it was acceptable to own human beings in slavery, or to sell your daughter into slavery...the poor and downtrodden were expected to remain that way. Perhaps the Bible SHOULD HAVE BEEN more politically correct, but since the powerful had the ability to filter and control its message, why would they want to change their established ways? Perhaps Jesus's messages were an attempt to balance those horrid inequities through softer words of love and compassion...just as good (unextreme) political correctness seeks to do. And while I would agree that sometimes PC gets a little silly or extremist, and sometimes becomes more about winning political favor, the premise behind it might be illuminating. Personally, I don't want to say things that are hurtful or offensive to others, even if I didn't mean them that way.

Judgment is a dark emotion. When we look at others as less than us, or decide that only our way is right, we are spreading darkness, not light. We are not illuminating their goodness or driving away the darkness, rather we are contributing to it. When we become callous in our ways and resist change, we are neither enlightened nor enlightening. Just as it only takes a small amount of light to illuminate a dark room so that we can see our way, it only takes a small amount of light - a few committed people - to illuminate the world. When we do this collectively, there will be no darkness. Just as God declared, "Let there be light," we can declare, "Let ME be light," and choose to spread unconditional love.

On this day of remembering Dr. King's contributions, decide how you can spread light. Are you willing to challenge old accepted ways of thinking in order to make way for new illuminations - as not only King did, but as Jesus did? Can you risk disdain from others in order to seek or deliver a new message, encouraging love and freedom rather than fear and control?

See others with love rather than judgment, notice good qualities rather than bad, give up your need to be RIGHT in exchange for a need to be LIGHT, and you will contribute to driving out darkness. Be the light amongst the darkness, the love amongst the hate, the hope amongst the despair, the calm amongst the turmoil. It is your purpose and where you will find peace and joy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sacrifice vs. Surrender

I am hosting a page on facebook for studying "A Course In Miracles" (ACIM). I have studied this text before, but decided to revisit it for 2010, as I seek to move forward in a deeper spiritual journey. By studying ACIM with others on facebook, I get the benefit of the group feel - the power of minds joined to help each other, without any one individual dictating what others should believe. As I work through the exercises, I can feel the strength of numbers helping me to grow, knowing that we are all in this together - and I don't just mean the ACIM group...I mean we are ALL in this world TOGETHER...and we are ONE! The sooner we remember that and let down our need to have our way be the only way, the sooner we will have peace, within our own hearts and in the world at large.

One concept that stood out to me this week was the contrast of sacrifice and surrender. We sometimes intermingle these concepts as if they are similar, worrying about surrendering because of what sacrifice it might bring. ACIM teaches us that sacrifice is not necessary, that it is not of God, but only man's doing:

"Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God. It arises solely from fear, and frightened people can be vicious". (Text,3.I.4)

"Surrender" in our world sometimes has a negative connotation of giving up or admitting defeat, being beaten. Surrender often implies a loss of freedom, yet in the spiritual sense, surrender IS freedom. It is simply a release from all of the bondage and baggage that our human earthbound ways have taken on in error, a remembrance that sacrifice and struggle are entirely unnecessary. We have concocted illusions that have made us feel unworthy, and have assumed that sacrifice would be required in order to clear ourselves, in order to earn back our worthiness. So we punish ourselves with pain, thinking that it well serve as penance. In Christianity, for example, the cross represents sacrifice by Jesus. We are told that Jesus had to sacrifice for our wrongdoing, yet the message of Jesus was that sacrifice was all in our minds - that we could heal ourselves by simply remembering that we had that ability - that our pain was all in our minds.

The sacrifice idea becomes a very powerful tool to control us - to keep us feeling badly or that we have a debt to pay, to hold us down from true freedom and our Highest Selves. When we surrender to God, we are not bowing down in weakness as has often been portrayed; rather, we are lifting up into our strength and greatness, showing faith that we can move mountains, as we were told we could do, but seldom remember or believe. People and organizations that gain their power through fear and control do become vicious at times when we begin understand that sacrifice is unnecessary, when we circumvent them to surrender to our Higher Power. They can attack or heavily criticize in their fear, trying to whip us back into submission to their ideas, but others will know there is truth in our thoughts and actions, so we must hold fast and bringing others along in love and peace.

So make a choice to surrender - to ask God to reveal your true strengths and gifts. Accept that you are a Divine being - creating your experience, creating miracles - and return to that rightful place where you were created to live perfection. Give up the idea of sacrifice so that you can surrender to living and loving without judgment, without the need to be right, without the need to control others. Accept your power, and it will be the end of your suffering.

BE the light of the world...

CLICK HERE to view or join my facebook group for "A Course In Miracles"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Put On Your 3-D Glasses

Recent talk about the 3D movie Avatar caused me to think about the 3D viewing process, where the audience must wear special glasses in order to see real depth in the 3D picture. I thought about our spiritual vision, and how, when we see only with our "earth eyes", we cannot fully see all the depth and layers that exist. We miss things, miss the whole experience - miss truth - because we do not choose to view what is before us in the way that it was intended to be seen by its creator.

In New Age circles, as well as ancient spiritual practices, there is a common term of "Third Eye", which represents our spiritual sight - one that brings the blurriness into absolute clarity so that we can see what God really intended for us -before the ways of this world stripped us of our "truth vision". Our images have become distorted in layers of control and illusion - our tools of true sight systematically taken away over the ages so that we do not have the methods to see God in His fullness.

But now, in this age of information and discovery, we have the ability to return to our full spiritual vision - to return to our spiritual sight. In the same way that is is easy for a movie viewer to have the full experience of the production by putting on their 3D glasses, we can begin to have the full experience of God by returning to our spiritual sight - we simply have to ask to see truth, ask God to show us, then be willing to open our eyes and see. If, in a 3D movie, we put on the glasses but close our eyes, we will see nothing, our experience then limited to sound and what we hear. In our spiritual journey, if the visions are shown to us but we close our eyes and listen only to those around us for our truth or to tell us what is happening, then we will not experience it for ourselves. In the same respect that 3D glasses allow us to see a movie with a new look, changing our spiritual vision can help us see in a more Divine way.

This is a new year and new decade, marking a new beginning, a freshness. Make it a spiritual beginning. Stop seeing life in 2 dimensional black and white or in the way that others have told you to see it, and move on to full color and dimension, having the experience for yourself. In spiritual terms, our dimension is referred to as the 3rd dimension - but there are more dimensions that are beyond this mass/body existence. Once we move to these levels, we are acting more in alignment with God and our Higher Selves. Challenge all that you have thought in the past (mostly from what you have been told to think) and move on to truly think and live on your terms, having the full experience because you no longer see with deficient sight.

Ask God to give you the next dimension - a truer experience - ask angels for their help and guidance, then allow it to happen. Don't second guess it and put your own limitations on it, but accept it as it comes, knowing that you want to see clearly from God, not from man's blurred vision of God.

Your life will change...this new year will be more real...this decade a momentous one. It is all waiting, just be willing to put on new spiritual glasses to live in the moment rather than the past or in past interpretations. Then savor all of the new experiences...ask for even more...and enjoy.