Saturday, October 22, 2016

Fix My Perception Not My Reality

I have described several instances where, smelling and observing the myriad life in the muck of my wet-weather creek, I found myself making sense of me in light of the commonness of this thing called “Life.” I simply had this feeling of knowing what the indigenous peoples have known and trusted: Life is universal and non-discriminatory. Native Americans, as well as Australian Aborigines and others, understood that all things have life or spirit: animals, birds, fishes, reptiles, trees, springs, rocks, winds, storms, and – of course – humankind. But they also understood there was no hierarchy. No one form of life was superior to another.
When I truly sense that reality, I become immediately calm. My little spark – called biological life – is no different (nor better than) any other form of biological life. I’ll watch an ant. I don’t think he’s saying to himself: “I’m tired of this. Why couldn’t I have been born a soldier ant instead of a worker ant? Why couldn’t I have been born a butterfly – or a hummingbird?”
Then I’ll talk to him, asking,  “Are you even vaguely aware of how upset I am?” “No? Don’t you care?” “No? Okay, maybe I shouldn’t either. Thanks for listening.”
Maybe I’m just a little off my rocker. But I feel calm. I feel peace. I feel at ease. And I have grown to love those small, little moments. If only people could be as non-judgmental as ants. Oops! That means I am seeing others as judgmental, which means I am looking at them through my own judging eyes. “Mr. Ant! Where are you?”
I recently read a passage in a book called “A New World If You Can Take It,” by Rev. Michael J. Carter [Grave Distractions Publications, 2014]. He is a pastor of a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Western North Carolina. In it he discusses a redefinition of the word God. He begins to equate the word Change and the word Life as synonyms for the word God.
Carter writes (p. 51):  In short, the words Life and God are interchangeable. Life will not punish or reward you. Life is the process of change and growth and some would argue so is God. If our life is a process of change, the words God, Change, and Life are all the same thing.
If these concepts of God and life seem too impersonal, you are correct. Life is not concerned with us individually, but we can use the energy of life at any time. In this way, life becomes our greatest friend. You and I are life itself. We can use this energy. How? Simply by using our thoughts intentionally. Remember now that thoughts are things. What we focus on, we also create. Thought is just another form of energy. We use the energy of life when we are thinking and feeling. These thoughts and feelings can be applied in certain situations as knowledge. This knowledge applied can be wisdom. We use this energy in the form of prayer, contemplation, and meditation … by reading, witnessing and creating art … by philosophy … by observing and spending time in nature. More importantly, we tap into this energy by keeping our hearts, as well as our minds, open to what comes our way by risking being vulnerable and saying “YES!” to life ... You see, we are life/God itself.”
To really believe that about ourselves will lead us also to believe that about all others we meet. To believe that about all we meet leads us to begin believing that about all of humanity. To begin believing that about all of humanity means we have begun morphing into a State of Oneness, which, as A Course in Miracles (ACIM) states, is being in a state of acceptance through proper perception to fulfill our Function here on Earth – seeing all of us in all our actions as either performing acts of Love or calls for Love. That is precisely how the Holy Spirit perceives each of us all the time. There is no “Sin.” Only error. Ask for help from Spirit to change your perception of people, situations or events – and be willing to change your mind! – and then begin again.
Ask and be willing. That is the key. So many times I have asked Spirit for help and nothing happened. When I became truly honest with myself, I understood what was really going on.
I was asking but I was not willing.
I was asking for Spirit to fix my reality to fit my preconceived perceptions. I was not asking Spirit to fix my preconceived perceptions in order to see Reality truly.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening to me and getting to know me – warts and all. As always, feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.

#3 Oct 2016
Copyright 2016

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Our Responsibility To Vote

Lee’s email was titled: “Old Souls Need To Vote.” In it he discusses the old and new energies that are competing for us. He writes of Kryon’s channeling: “… Old souls are going to have a tendency not to vote in this election because you’re going to see old energy on both sides. And you’re going to look at it and you’re going to say, ‘Neither one really is what we want. Kryon, where’s the new energy? This is old stuff. They’re fighting, they’re angry, they’re calling each other names. You take a look at their meetings and all they do is shout and get angry and red faced.’
Kryon goes on the admonish us to vote and to vote for whomever we believe will be the more transformative. He concludes: “Now dear ones, it’s important that you vote. Because if you simply say I don’t like what’s happening, you won’t be able to vote for what’s transformational. And you have this privilege and this right. The next time around it’s going to be different and the time after that is going to be startling.
“I am not an island unto myself. I am just a small thread in the fabric of society. My work is to dedicate myself to improve the whole social structure. Much of that work requires me to subjugate myself to the health of the whole. My freedom comes, not when I become my own little island, but when my society grows and thrives. I work to make that happen, just as I work to make AA and ACIM a reality.”
Certainly Donald Trump is unfit and unprepared to don the mantle of global leadership required by the Office of the President of the United States of America. As well, Hillary Clinton has a lot to be desired on a personal level – although much of this is based on 20 years of Alt-Right conspiracy theorists who have made of wonderful living from keeping these rumors alive. So, I’ve concluded for me the issue of the personhood of these two candidates is not the basis on which to cast my vote. I will vote for the transformational (to quote Kryon) issues available to us.
The conservatives are proposing to restore the economic/social policies of the George W. Bush administration – lower taxes for the wealthy and the corporations, strengthening of the military (through more war or through more structuring), reducing regulations and the budgets of regulatory agencies, and hoping the business community will come to our collective rescue. Those policies, enacted by a Republican controlled House and Senate (for 6 or Bush’s 8 years) added almost $3 Trillion to our deficit, added only 5 million private sector jobs, almost bankrupted our nation, and plunged us into a horribly severe recession that became global. Why they want to go back and do more of that is beyond me.
The Democrat policies are more progressive and in line with what is emerging as the interconnected global economy in this Information Age. So, I will be voting for this agenda. It was begun with President Obama and has done significant things to improve our overall social structure in terms of inclusiveness, growth, and economic diversity. Fifteen million private sector jobs have been added, the stock market has doubled, we have reduced our wartime footprint, and we have resolved severe international crises with diplomacy rather than military might. And he has accomplished this – not with Congressional help – but in spite of the most obstructionist Congress (under Republican leadership) in history.
Kryon concludes his message by stating: What I have been saying “… are potentials, not fortune telling. The ripples of what is coming are being felt. And I say it again. That there is precedent on other planets that have gone through this and you’re right on schedule. Because what is happening here has happened there. It’s about light and dark. It’s about energy reacting to energy, and what happens and how it happens. It’s benevolent physics.
As I’ve stated before, “I have to understand, on a visceral level, who the “Me” or “I” really is when I am speaking or thinking. The “I” that says to myself, “I really need a newer, more reliable car” is a different “I” than the one that says to my Holy Spirit, “I can’t do this anymore; help me perceive things the way You see them.”
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening to me and getting to know me – warts and all. As always, feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.

#2 Oct 2016
Copyright 2016

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Tolerance and Serenity of India

In Delhi we were able to see the familiar sites of Mahatma Gandhi’s home and site of his assassination, The War Memorial (India Gate) and the President’s house, as well as the Baha’i Lotus Temple. In Agra we visited, of course, the Taj Mahal. In Jaipur we visited the Amber Fort and rode elephants to the top, we rode rickshaws through the old “pink” city – including the Palace of Winds, watched a demonstration of Oriental rug dyeing and weaving, and visited a gem shop where we saw a demonstration of gem cutting and polishing. Throughout it all we were able to eat the most wonderful food in the world! The worst we had in the most depressing of eateries was absolutely superb. We couldn’t have been more pleased and sated.
However, because of the populations we encountered we also witnessed the extremes of poverty there. There were people living in hovels and shanties not much better off than the roaming animals living around them – cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, dogs and cats. I asked our Guide about them – living in abject poverty in the middle of bustling cities. He told me that India (over a billion people) was really two countries – urban and rural.
The urban India consists of about half of the population. It is moving forward while fighting all the typical “modern” calamities – smog, zoning, traffic and infrastructure issues that plague growing metropolitan areas. Rural India is backward, has resisted change, is culturally stuck 75 years ago, is untrusting of education and health care initiatives, and wants to remain existing as their forefathers did. But it isn’t working anymore. They cannot make a living. They no longer can totally exist in a rural barter economy. Their children will be less prosperous and sufficient than they. So, they are moving to the cities. Some have sold their meager farms to developers and, believing they are rich, move to the city to live a “life of luxury.” But they have absolutely no life skills for urban living. They spend most of their money on a down payment for a small house or condo with no idea that they have to make monthly mortgage payments. When those payments come due, they are bewildered and lose all they have recently acquired. Hence, the hovels and shanties we saw, as well as the begging and attempts to sell trinkets.
It was awful; it was fascinating. It was a living crucible of urban versus rural adaptation to a globalized economy in the Information Age. Although it was more stark and severe, it was a fuzzy, in-your-face mirror of the urban/rural divide we are seeing emerge here in the U.S.
However, many, if not most, of these impoverished displaced rural folks were also vendors plying their wares at every opportunity. Around the more famous tourist sites we saw permanent “gypsy” villages of clapboard shacks and shanties. They were attempting to be as clean as possible but they were relentless in their desire to have me part with a few coins in exchange for their trinkets. Some of the times I felt exactly as a piece of rotting meat must feel watching the flies begin to gather around.
Quite often there would be larger, more robust vendors who would push their way to the front to hawk their goods. I noticed, however, that the other vendors would simply move out of the way to wait their “turn” to get in front of me. Where was the anger? Where was the: “Hey, you, I was here first. What are you doing?” I tried to imagine this in New York, Boston, Chicago or Saint Louis. I couldn’t. There would be fistfights, shouting, shoving. A melee. Police would get involved. People would get hurt.
But not in the India I saw. Why?
They are a serene, gentle and accepting people. I think it is their heritage of Buddhism and Hinduism. They accept – they are aware without fear – without guilt for their circumstance. There was no evidence, as there is here, of a seething underbelly of hate, anger, resentment and fear. Their gentle acceptance was palpably evident – even amidst the throngs of vendors. I could “feel” it. I was impressed.
Last week in A Course In Miracles (ACIM) a Japanese lady who has recently joined our group mentioned that she was told, when she asked “What is ACIM?” that it was a course in Buddhist and Hindu principles couched in Christian language. That description really resonated with me – in light of what I had just experienced in India.
These observations and explanations helped me. I hope it is helpful to you as well.

#1 Oct 2016

Copyright 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016

Sunni Versus Shia Within Islam

We have all heard of the traditional Sunni/Shia difficulties within Islam. This feud has been on-going for over a millennium. It’s been the cause of strife and war within the Mideast for centuries. It is into the midst of this internal Islamic strife that we plunged during the Iraq war under the Bush Administration. It became a mess. The Obama Administration continued to flounder, as well, because of this internal Islamic rift.
My wife and I were away to visit India and the United Arab Emirates – especially the cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It was quite a contrast between India and her 3,500 years of history and the UAE, barely 50 years old. But I finally was able to make sense of the Sunni/Shia difficulties. Since the Mideast conflict(s) is such an important aspect of our current political and security concerns, I want to share my new understanding with you in this message.
As we toured Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates and the wealthiest of the UAE, our Guide kept referring to the tolerance the Sunni Islamists offered to all Abu Dhabi residents. All religious beliefs are welcome as long as they, including Islam, do not try to proselytize other residents. That can get you removed from the country. I began asking questions of our Guide about the Sunni branch of Islam as opposed to the Shia Branch. He gave me little snippets of answers here and there, as were appropriate to what is was we were currently touring.
Finally, on the last day we visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. I had heard of this fabulous mosque, but I really didn’t know what to expect.  When we saw the mosque, I was blown away, as was everyone else in our tour group. I told a companion traveler, “I really didn’t know what to expect, but I surely didn’t expect this!” He felt the same way.
As an aside: Google “Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi” and click on the Wikipedia entry. Check out the details of the Mosque in Wikipedia – especially the sections entitled Design, Dimensions and Statistics, as well as Key Architectural Features. The information presented is very much in line with what we heard from our tour Guide, who functions as an Imam (which simply means prayer leader) in his local mosque.
Most of the world’s Muslims are Sunni (85-90%) by recent estimates while the remaining 10-15% are Shia or Shi’ites. The Sunnis are throughout most of the Arab world, Southeast Asia (including Indonesia) and Africa. Saudi Arabia has the largest Sunni population. Pakistan has the second-largest Sunni population. The Shi’ites are primarily in Iraq and Iran. Pakistan also has the second-largest Shia populations in the world.
Although the Sunni/Shia animosity is a very, very complicated issue, our Guide tried to explain it as succinctly as possible. After the Prophet Mohammad died circa 650AD some of the Islamic community thought his successor should come from his family – it should be an inherited line of succession. This successor would be the Caliph of the Islamic community. Additionally, there should be a hierarchy of imams (or mosque leaders), culminating in the highest, most potent, position – that of Ayatollah. Those favoring this approach were the Shia, or Shi’ites. Shias also believe special spiritual qualities have been granted not only to Muhammad but also to the other Imams, especially the Ayatollah, who can understand and interpret the hidden inner meaning of the teachings of Islam.
Others believed that the successors to Mohammed should be determined by the method of choosing or electing leaders, as endorsed by the Quran, by the consensus of the Muslim community. These are the Sunni. The foundation of Islam for them is the inherent equality of all believers before God.  Hence tolerance. In Sunni mosques the men stand hip-to-hip and foot-to-foot with their neighbors – regardless of social position. This equality before God and a sense of Oneness with all present is very dominant and critical for the Sunni. Women are separated from men in the mosques – not because they’re inferior – but because they are there to pray and sexual distractions can affect both a man or a woman if they are in close proximity to each other.
ISIS/ISIL is not Islamic but simply a terrorist group fulminating the Sunni/Shia tensions and trying to manipulate the seething anger and resentment between the two groups for their own political interests. Most of the people ISIS/ISIL kills are Muslims. Although ISIS/ISIL inflicts much of their terror on Shia populations in Iraq, they also target any group in Syria that will encourage the continuity of the civil war there. Any unrest is seen as a good thing to ISIS/ISIL – something that can be exploited for their political benefit.
The understanding of the Sunni Islamic view as one of tolerance was also pointed out as we passed the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, where there is a marvelous sculpture of the word “Tolerance.” Equality and tolerance also explain the care taken by the government to protect the indigenous Emirati population, which is only about 20% of the residents of the UAE. Education, health care, housing, and employment are all considered a right of native Emirati citizens. The remaining 80% of the population consists of immigrant workers and employees of outside companies. These, too, are afforded a great many benefits because the UAE demands their contracts contain a living wage, adequate housing, health care coverage and a paid month-long leave (with round trip airfare) so the workers can go home each year. Violations of that contract with an employee can result in the cancellation of the company’s ability to continue to do business in the UAE.
Tolerance and equality before God are the hallmarks of the Sunni. Top-down Islamic dictates from the Ayatollah is the hallmark of the Shia. They can (and do) detest each other and play for political gain by keeping their differences inflamed.
This explanation helped me. I hope it is helpful to you as well.

#3 Sep 2016

Copyright 2016