Leo Tolstoy on God

LEO TOLSTOY ON GOD: "When you look inside yourself, you see what is called 'your own self' or your soul. You cannot touch it or see it or understand it, but you know it is there. And this part of yourself--that which you cannot understand--is what is called God. God is both around us and inside of us--in our souls.

The more you understand that you are at one with God, the more you will understand that you are at one with all His worldly manifestations."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

In Defense of EGO: "The Power of Understanding"

Photo Credit: Gorgeous Picture. 
 "The Power of Understanding"  is like a protective covering that shelters us when we encounter pain.

"Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom;  and with all thy getting get understanding." -Proverbs 4:7

If you watched the March premiere of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," a science program on FOX and National Geographic, you would have learned a few things about the formation of the universe and our planet and where we, as humans, fit into space and time. 
Astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson serves communicator on the new Cosmos show 

Much information was provided on the show, but the line that stayed with me  for a long time afterwards was this:

"There comes a time in our lives when we realize that we're not alone in the universe...that we are part of something greater than ourselves. It's part of growing up."'

The show's writers seem to take this "growing up"  as truth. 
But this isn't necessarily so for many people.

We should acquire wisdom as we age and acquire more of life's experiences: the more we live, the more we should learn. But this entire process of learning and growing with age can elude us, if we're not aware, paying attention and truly "listening." 


 It's simple: 

We grow up knowing A follows B, C, D, E, F, G. But somewhere along the "I" to "J,"  things begin to warble and we lose our footing.  
Instead of stopping to take stock of what is happening, we try to force the results to go back to where we were: Let me "fix this!" Let me "handle this."
We want to quickly get things back to normal, and through our  human will*, we may be able to execute a change to get things back to normal. Everything seems fine...We think we're fine. 
Then another battle ensues.
We fight that one too, through sheer will, and we keep covering over and covering over things, one battle at a time.
That's how we can wind up...aging... without learning anything different about life than where we started out.  Indeed, we may never go further than where our parents and grandparents started out. 

Via Gorgeous Picture: Begin to truly see your reflection in life
Of course, it's our ego that dictates our human will to make things happen! We know what's good for us, dammit, and we will find a way out of this or that hole. In doing so, though, we are completely shutting  out the light that keeps beckoning us to come closer.

Through all the storms and challenges that occur in our lives, there is a whisper, if only we can listen closely enough to hear it. It's an invitation to see life from yet another perspective ...to see an even "more excellent way." 

"But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way." - 1 Corinthians 12:31

But let's not immediately lay the blame on EGO. Without this need for self protection and doing what makes sense to our conscious mind to survive via EGO, we would not have gotten this far in life.

Operating with the EGO as our compass, we have navigated untold number of situations that possibly would have gotten us stuck at one plateau. It is the EGO that allows us to want to reach higher and go further than where we began in life.

Knowing and appreciating the EGO's need for achieving and getting more out of life, however, must be put in perspective when we reach that plateau in life. When we know, unequivocally, that "something greater than us is at work in the universe" and our lives, we should begin to "listen" for guidance. 

The delicate balance of self reliance and confidence must be struck with the intuitive knowing that a greater force is impelling us forward into life. Continuing to struggle, even when we realize this truth, only brings disturbance within our Soul. 

We push. We fight.  
"Dancing With Spirit": Follow on Facebook
For years...decades...we may ignore warning signs about choosing another way in almost all areas of our lives: eating and drinking things we can feel have an adverse effect on our health, choosing not to pay as careful attention as we should to our business, financial and personal affairs, and overall continuing behaviors because they have become our habits.

Whether we realize it or not, in our daily lives, we all live in microcosms of our own with values shared with family and friends and other chosen associates. We tend to see the world we inhabit from this platform of our world. 

But, it isn't so! There is a much larger world...a huge world...a bigger world... that we need to learn about. We ignore it, since it doesn't fit with our views and what we value most in life. 

Slowly...but inevitably...life demands that we do pay attention. Sometimes, it's a big BOOM, which throws our lives into chaos. 

Finally, we may surrender, and exhausted we may whisper:

 "Reveal to me what needs to be Revealed!" 

This is not resignation; it's finally deciding to work with our Soul, which has been whispering to us all our lives, always trying to show us an even more excellent way.

It's then our EGO may try to go into full gear... kicking up, creating a storm for its survival...our life becomes a hodge podge of confusion, as fear arises and panic steps in.

"What am I going to do without YOU?" 
We try to cling to our ways in life. But by now, we know there's no turning back. 
Credit:"Food For The Poor." 

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy path."
Proverbs 3: 4-5 

Change is never easy, as is giving up seeing life the way we've always believed is right for our well being. Yet knowing we must change is the understanding we need to grow forward into peace. Life may not wind up unfolding the way we pictured it...but by staying steadfast in prayer and true to our Soul, we will have a guarantee...that it will be "on purpose." 

"My brethen, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." - James 1: 1-4
 We will have peace.
  • We will have all we need.
  • We will be able to co-create with Spirit the road ahead that works with our Soul and brings peace, wisdom and understanding to our conscious mind.  
  • We will age with Grace
  • We will have Wisdom, and with that, Understanding.
"Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don't think that you've lost time." -Asha Tyson, via Gratefulness.org

Credit: Africa Geographic; photo by Gary Taylor, Serengti, Tanzania 

Credit: "Inside The Divine Pattern."
We must become like the elephant, which drinks continuously from the trough of trees, seeking what it does not know, but it always leaves the trough feeling satiated and better for the contact. The elephant accepts, without asking, the gifts provided by the trees and stars and the universe itself. The elephant has been part of the universal landscape throughout the ages and has developed its own wisdom. So must we, too, trust our intuition, knowing this leads to our wisdom and understanding. We must know that we're here only for a period of time, and it is only by "listening" that we will know our divine purpose.    

The next time you get doubtful about the unrelenting movement forward of the universe and our place in it,  check out Cosmos. Neil deGrasse Tyson is waiting to teach you...a thing or two.

"Be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul."- Desiderata



*NOTE: **We will cover "The Power of Will" in May.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

In Defense of EGO: The Power of LOVE

"Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself." Matthew 22: 39

Most people go through life believing that the tried and true way to happiness is to meet the man or woman of their dreams, "fall in love," get married, have kids and "live happily ever after."

Manipulation of Japan: Photo via Gorgeous Picture
Many achieve most of this...except... for the happily ever after. This, after all, is but a dream...an illusion of "perfection" on earth and ...utopia.

Despite not always achieving the "happily ever after,"  the majority, after they reach a certain age/stage in life,  keep moving forward, striving for wherever and however they can achieve happiness.

This is good: it's reality! It's truth.

There is no perfect way to happiness. And, too, this is a state of mind and consciousness.

As Dr. Wayne Dyer tells it:

Staying aware of every moment that happens in our lives is a sane way to navigate our way around the many obstacles and challenges strewn in our path as we weave our path to finding happiness. By being  conscious of our lives, as it happens, we can make choices in the moment, allowing us to stay in control of our responses and emotions. Staying in control, we achieve a certain level of peace...and yes...happiness.  
Perhaps, the greatest challenge we will ever encounter in any lifetime is "to love thy neighbor as thyself," i.e. to love "strange" people we meet along the way.

Some people simply will test our ability to care about, much less love, another. Some personality types are some that we simply don't want to know or interact with in any way...on any level.

And it seems that every where we look: there are these people!

If we truly don't care to grow beyond the status quo of relationships, interrelationships and interaction, then we can do as suggested in the graphic on right... *"Keep walking..." away from them.
Thing is...we'll have to keep walking...and walking and walking... only to have them show up in place after place after place.

Dare I suggest that there's another way to "love" folks we'd rather not know than to walk away from them? Can you believe me when I say that you also can learn to accept them easily and with equanimity? Stay with me.

It all starts with love and appreciation of self...yes... "self love" and "ego." 
Here we go...
Photo: "Faerie Magazine." Follow on Facebook
In the beginning of time, there was YOU!
From the time you became conscious of yourself as a separate entity
There was only YOU and the way YOU see the world and navigate your way through it.
Encapsulated in that body that grew from babyhood to adulthood is the history...of all the steps and missteps...
And most importantly, the consciousness, that led you to today.
No person. NO PERSON. No matter how much you may believe he/she is a soul mate and/or your "best friend" can ever KNOW you as thoroughly as  you KNOW YOURSELF!   
Remember this: it's the foundation for loving others.

So, we begin with the awareness and consciousness of self with its concomitant history of all that is, was... used to be...and will be.

We begin to know that whereas... others may see us showing up today, as the person we are today...
we know...like no one else...the history, the pain, the shame, the disappointments, the failures, the successes and everything...that represents the being showing up in the fullness of our self!

If we've not dealt with issues as appropriately as we should, some situations will still move us to anger, tears and fear.
If we've not dealt with our insecurities as appropriately as we should, some situations will still bring us pain.  
Most importantly, if we are not aware of ourselves...as ourselves...if we don't know our ego tendencies...then situations and people, who may remind us of others in our past, will set us off. 

By staying aware of ourselves, which some may call being self-centered but I prefer to view as "centered in self," or the Spirit Within, we can help ourselves better understand others, walk silently with him/her when we see their "acting up" and begin to love them...yes...love them...as ourselves. 

The good and the bad part of the self is that we are all encapsulated in bodies.
 "You are the Temple of God." 1 Corinthians 3:16

That's the first pain we feel.
Via Wildlife Nature: Follow on Facebook
Via Wildlife Nature: Follow on Facebook

We're locked up.
No one can "see us!"
No one can "hear us!"
No one can "feel us!"

At least not the way we see, hear, and feel.

Still with me?

So, we wake up every day going through each moment, meeting different folks along the way...at work...in the grocery store...in the theater...at the shopping mall...on the phone.

They don't know ...we don't know...
What led up to this moment any of us are experiencing.

See...we, they, you, me...we don't have the full history...about us.

We don't know everything about the people we see. We simply see them, their current behavior or personality.
CHARITY IS DIFFERENT FROM COMPASSION; Some people believe that they must travel across the world, looking for strangers to love, people in foreign countries who are less fortunate than themselves upon whom they can heap largesse, thus expanding their ego views of "loving neighbor." This is good. But what about the colleague sitting beside you each day, the person living next door, locked in his/her own prison? We don't have to have an intimate relationship with "these people." But...we can be kind and look upon him/her with the same level of understanding and compassion we do the people we seek to help in a foreign country when we choose to step into that realm of compassion, caring and giving. 

We stay safe from those we don't want to understand by hanging out only with those who love us, reinforcing our sense of self, supporting and feeding our "egos" by telling us how wonderful, how successful, how beautiful we are in all we do and say.

Don't misunderstand: we need and should have this reinforcement!

Having family and friends is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. They are our "Fort Knox" to keep us from the pain we may experience in living in the larger world.
Via "Happiness in Life"

"My friends and loved ones are gifts from God. We celebrate when our lives are smooth, easy, and filled with joy. And we stand together in challenging times of loss or disappointment.
Regardless of what is happening in our lives, my loved ones are a blessing. Each moment together is a gift we share...."- Daily Word

Algeria. (Image via Gorgeous Picture, follow on Facebook.)
Yet life demands of us that we go beyond our comfort zone and our sphere of familiarity.
We work. We travel.
Photo via Gorgeous Picture: Follow on Facebook 
Life changes. We change.
Life demands more.
We must change.
We must change the way we view ourselves, first.
Next, we must change the way we view others.
We must do so by seeing the "neighbor"as an extension of ourselves: a Soul, with a full history, trapped in a body trying to make the best of the moment!

(Having recently seen Mariel Hemming profiled on OWN, you may find some useful pointers in her two books: "Running with Nature," and "Running from Crazy."

Via Gorgeous Picture: Follow on Facebook 
I also believe these two 2005 releases by Karen Armstrong also should prove useful: "Through The Narrow Gate Revised: A Memoir of Spiritual Discovery" and "Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness.")

By choosing to stay conscious of ourselves as a SOUL operating in a body, we also will then stay in the consciousness of our own history...all that was...and is today. This allows us to ease into the present with perspective.
    (Photos: Roatan, Bay Island, Honduras, 
       via Gorgeous Picture.)

Eventually, we'll begin to understand and appreciate ourselves so fully that we won't feel anything but gratitude for the unique selves that we are...we'll remember always the journey we've traveled. The obstacles we've overcome.

Envy, jealousy, competition: 
those are for others, not for us.

We'll even begin to re-create where we're going tomorrow, as we'll begin to write the script. 

Having this consciousness of Self, which is centered in a protection of Ego, hurt by some things, joyous by others, then we get to know and become aware of all that is about us.

We'll understand our dharma (our place in the cosmos).  Once we understand our place, then we'll begin to understand our unique life's purpose. There won't be room enough in our lives for us to want to copy...even in the slightest way...others' walk through the world. 

Becoming intimate with our own vulnerabilities and strengths not only
empowers us but makes us compassionate with our failures and missteps.**

We move on. We learn to fight another day.

This level of intimacy with self requires much focus. We have to make sure that we are the ones defining ourselves and remembering truthfully our own histories.

It is overall a very painful and humbling process.**
Jesus says it best:
"...how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye." Luke 6:42

After doing this...after staying faithful to this way of living...from the center of self...then out into the world...
can we, then, look upon another with any less care ...any less compassion...any less love?
Image: Wildlife Nature. (Follow on Facebook.)

I invite you to engage in this way of loving.
After all, we all have this "Power of LOVE!"
Via Gorgeous Picture. Follow on Facebook

*If there are indications of mental instability and you cannot help or get the person help, then for your safety, do walk away! 
**In April, we will highlight the "Power of UNDERSTANDING." This will feature understanding of self, as well as others, for the good of all. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

In Defense of EGO: "The Power of FAITH"

You hear the whisper... 


What is this?

Well it turns out that when you "investigate," you enter into a world of alternate reality, co-existing side by side with the world we consider "normal" for our humanity.

"Investigation Discovery," a television network operated by Discovery Communications, became my companion during the recent holiday season, spent amid heavy snowstorms and extremely cold weather in the Chicago Metro area. Since then, I've continued to watch ID myriad of times. What especially fascinates me about the show is that all the stories are real.

Seeing life only from the perspective of form, i.e. "me" vs. "you,"
keeps us separated.
We see within these stories the lowest form of animal behavior and depravity, co-existing within our human nature. What is especially poignant to me is that when people can pass themselves off as "normal," we accept bizarre behavior on face value. Most of the individuals involved in committing the horrific crimes featured on ID appear to be fully functioning individuals, except for the bouts of anger and control that surface when we first meet them. The first set of bizarre incidents often are ignored or forgiven, and left untreated, these individuals degenerate into full-fledged animals.

We can all learn from the stories unfolding on ID that we should never become so smug in our own humanity that we believe the incidents and events are far removed from our own lives and people in our lives.

Indeed, were we to pay attention, we would see that the husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, friends, enemies, children ...scheming, plotting, planning and executing brutal murders can be any of us on a very, very, very bad day. What we see played out on screen are the results of people moving through life "unconscious" of an existence outside their sphere of reference. It also highlights the illnesses that result from having little or no awareness of our  inner selves, our Souls, and its purpose in our lives..  

Aside from the lack of spiritual awareness, we also should not overlook the fact that our animal impulses, though dormant, remain very strong instinctual responses when we get into a bind. 
Many of the tools used in the ID murders are often knives and axes! And we're talking about events that happened in the late 20th century and still are happening now in the early 21st century! The animal traits of murdering in vicious ways have remained with us, despite the many centuries of evolution of the human species.  

We can wonder: Will we ever get "it" right? 

Through many years of spiritual and mystical studies, I am now of the firm opinion that there will never be a universal form of "rightness" for "it." 

Humanity, represented by the "it," continues to evolve. We will continue to do so at differing levels at different periods in the space/time continuum. So that we can live in peace with each other, we must recognize that to a large extent each of us is at a different level and stage of evolution in our lives.

The miracle of our humanity is that there are not more murders and other atrocities being committed in the course of a normal day. As a species, we should take a certain level of pride at the relatively minute numbers of truly horrific incidents occurring in our societies today.  Indeed, we should celebrate the billions of us co-existing in peace on Earth every day, fighting the good fight to play by the same rules of decency and humanity.
Most of the time, we get it right, as we currently are co-existing at an extremely high level of evolution.

AHHHH... How very, very far we've come from the beginning of our days, where leveling brutality was the main means for us to communicate with each other. Let's celebrate this triumph of the human spirit!

As we look to this celebration, let's also look to the source of our beingness that allowed for this level of evolution over the years! This "beingness" was with us from the beginning of all time and will be with us to everlasting.

Of course, I speak here of God!
God is the one presence and power that has remained consistent and unchanging over the centuries, even as our humanity has assumed different forms and continue to unfold at different levels.

Remaining unchanged and unchanging over the centuries is the Cosmic Presence, Universal Consciousness, that oversees all and allows us to unfold at these varying levels during our time on Earth.  The fact that our Soul guides us moment by moment, helping us stay conscious of our actions and intentions throughout our days, does not mean that this presence is not at work throughout the world. 

When bad things happen, or we see truly hateful human behavior leveled from one man to another, we want to believe there is an absence of God. But this is not true. God is all in all and sees all. 

This Cosmic Consciousness has seen so much advancement in our humanity! From our days of running around killing each other at every turn to today, when we occasionally degrade to the level of wild animals who seek out and destroy their prey. God, overall, must be very pleased!

(See this recent Deepak Chopra piece: "What Is Cosmic Consciousness? Part 2"

The soul is each human's share of God, and character is the muscle which tries to reveal its mysteries-Charles Ives,  Essays Before a Sonata (Via Gratefulness.org, Word For The Day, Jan. 17, 2014) 
The presence and power and energy that allows us to unfold in myriad of ways, as we stumble, yet advance, through our human walk on earth is our Soul. 

Yes, our Soul is the ever-present power in our lives, allowing us to connect to the greater consciousness that is God. Our Soul helps the human self (the ego) to become all we're capable of becoming while yet we breathe. This is the consciousness that permits us to unfold and demonstrate our varying levels of  humanity.

If God is the Presence, the witness and the Consciousness that rules the world, then our Soul is the essence that rules our lives, our bodies and our immediate consciousness.

God is the presence of all that is within all that exists. Our Soul is the essence of all that exists within our lives. God, as cosmic consciousness, sees the evil, the good, the unformed, the formed, the striving and the lazing, all unfolding through our individual consciousness, our humanity, when we are connected or disconnected from our Souls.
We certainly have to wonder how does this all fit together, each of us moving through life at varying paces and at different levels of our humanity. How can we get it right and what can we do on an individual basis to keep it all together? 

The answer lies in that intangible gift and power called: Faith.
Going beyond the limited parameters of our ego, which allows us each a sense of self,  we can navigate our way through the labyrinth of life by faith in the Presence and Power of of God that oversees all. Faith is the gift that humanity has received as a way of bringing us peace in our troubled selves. Knowing that our essence (Soul)  is connected to the greater whole and has existed before the form we know ourselves to be in this life, and will exist after, should bring us peace. We are able to get out of the limitations of ourselves and see the bigger picture.
When we become stuck in the form of ego, which simply is our individual masks of separation from the oneness that connects us, we lose sight of our greater selves and our connection to the whole.
So that we may  move us from fear of each other and life itself to a higher consciousness, we must lift our thoughts to the Cosmic Consciousness overseeing us all.We must lift our eyes to God with childlike faith that his will is being done on Earth as it is in the "heaven" of Cosmic Consciousness that sees the bigger, the much, much bigger picture beyond our troubled Souls and failing areas of our humanity.

By staying connected to our Souls, our guiding light on Earth, we are navigating our way to higher levels of humanity. When we are witnesses to a puncture in the overall fabric of that humanity... we can and should:

1. Pray.
2. Have Faith.
3. Remember God who continues to be with us in all as all.

NOTE: See January 2014 for listing of Twelve Powers.
In March, we will focus on "The Power of Love."

Personal Authenticity: "To Thine Own Self Be True"...

"To Thine Own Self Be True and it must follow as the night, the day, Thou canst not then be false to ANY man."
William Shakespeare.