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, July 6, 2014

"In Defense of EGO: 'The Power of Wisdom'"

Photo Credit: Akira Ota. A flying insect is pictured above. Insects, ants and others have innate wisdom. "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise." Proverbs 6:6 

Knowledge may be Power, but it is not Wisdom
Many people, if not the majority, regard wisdom as knowledge. But can we get any further from the truth?!

If wisdom were truly for the knowledgeable, then most of the living species crawling the Earth would be vulnerable to death ...and extinction...every day.
God is Wisdom, which emanates to us from the Soul. 

Yet, these species learn to survive and thrive in creative ways that confound many humans.

The tiny ant knows to build its "domain" and stockpile its food in the summer, knowing the winter will bring only barrenness.

Birds know to migrate in different directions, based on the season of the year, for their survival and protection.

Photo Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horitcultura
Trees and plants bend every which way to ensure they receive the best and maximum amount of sunlight.

Yet, these species and "things" do not have brains. Humans, like other higher animals, have a cerebral cortex, allowing them to process information in a logical way.
"Ants, like other insects have networks of nerve cells called Ganglia. Human cerebral cortex, with ten billion cell bodies, is by far the most ingenious cellular network in the universe capable of processing vast amounts of information...."- Dr. Chatatin on Yahoo Answer.
Swarming ants.
A Colony of ants

How then can the ant and other species know what they know to do what they do? Obviously, something greater is at work, providing these species with limitless "intuitive" intelligence.

Although they help, reading a book and, or, attending seminars may lead to knowledge but not Wisdom. This must be acquired!
    "We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us." Marcel Proust
In the world in which we live, we celebrate those with the most information and knowledge, the most wealth, and the most of anything. "To Get More From..." is the aim of almost all we do, and aspire to, in this life.

Selected from best advertising posters
Look around at the more popular occupations, and you'd see that the ultimate goal of them all is "To Get More From..."
Selected from best advertising posters 

The more brazen fields are ...Advertising,
Marketing, Sales, Telemarketing, Collections, Strategic Planning...Yet, other seemingly innocuous occupations also have the same aim: Accounting, Finance, Teaching, Politics and others.
Telemarketing has to be one of the most aggressive forms of "To Get From"
Insects and other "creatures" and things do more than bug us. They serve some essential roles, especially in protecting crops and also providing diversity in the quality of our food supply. If you doubt this, see this photo gallery: "World Without Bees."

Why is it that most of us, humans, never seem to have enough and always seem to want "To Get More From..." simply to satisfy our own greedy desires? Very simply. It's our egos. 

We want more than...want "to get more from..." because we simply believe that more is better.

In Defense of EGO, we must accept that without this drive to want more, do more and be more, we would stand still, content with the smallest amounts thrown at us.

So, yes, our egos are our driver. But wanting more simply for ego gratification ultimately leads to a void within us. Without being balanced with our Spirit and desires of our Soul, an egotistical desire for more leads us to emptiness. 

The ego drive can be useful and honed to serve us and others in more meaningful ways through conscious awareness and effort. 
Sweet and delicious as honey may be: too much of it can destroy management of Diabetes 
This is where Wisdom comes in.

Wisdom is the reward for having walked a path of self examination and waking up to the truth that we're here on Earth for more reasons than to "get more from."
Money will come when you're not looking, and scheming,  for it.
Let Life flow through you...first.
We all have a greater purpose to serve here on Earth, beyond our ego's role for more. As we become more aware of this truth, we then have the challenge to consciously choose whether we will walk our humanity's need only for ego satisfaction, or follow the intuitive guidance of Wisdom from within.

This awakening is one of life's greatest gifts, yet it presents one of life's greatest challenges we will face each day. Those living an "un-examined life" often can be seduced by their egos into believing that they are doing what is "right, just and true," which is the way of the Christ within.   

On the surface, it may seem to be so. Our ego is a seductress and is smart enough to disguise itself in many forms, such as "I am a good person," "good Christian," "good Catholic."  Yet examined beyond the surface, we may uncover only a need for self gratification...and no other ultimate purpose for "doing good." We must pay attention.

The path of an "un-examined life," which has absorbed religion without question and sees spirituality only as a vehicle to "doing the next right thing," is subject to seduction of the ego. "Right and good" in the eyes of the world may have little, or nothing, to do with the journey of the Soul.
"And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."- Romans 12:2

To be honest, even those who are doing what is "right and good," vs. "right, just and true," may have a conscious or unconscious awareness of  "getting more from..."  Playing by the rules of Spirit and following the promptings of the Soul take hard work!

Writing our honest feelings in a diary is an effective way to help us connect within. Yet, we must learn to listen for guidance and follow it. 
If you're conscious of doing "right and good" only for its immediate rewards, then admit it and stop fooling yourself and others. But if having true Peace within your Soul is the ultimate goal, then you've got to face up to the fact that you cannot walk a double path. You either want "stuff," or you want "peace."
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." Matthew 6:24

Photo Credit: Alex Wild. Ants building a protective wall around their space.
The ant, the birds, the trees, the plant, the air, water... don't have brains but know what they must do to survive. They want stuff; they get stuff...not by scheming and plotting... but by planning with the intuitive wisdom that comes from within.

Most other species know they must change form in order to not only survive, but thrive, in myriad forms of beingness. Humans want the same thing too... they want to "get more from ..." but don't think they must "change form" to do so.

Trees in California's Redwood Fores,
 located in Humboldt County.

We, humans, want to have all the riches in the world... be happy...live in peace, live a joyous and prosperous life, beginning to end... without doing the work that requires us to look at the world with new eyes: compassion, love, decency, humanity, caring enough to share. 

Air turns into clouds and survives by changing form. This is called "atmospheric stability. " 

Water turns into ice and survives by changing form. Plants and trees bend and twist and grow up and down, changing form, but still... surviving....and thriving.

But humans think they need do nothing...but continue on the same path...year after year, generation after generation...gathering more, getting more... and giving less and less to the sources of the universe that feed us.

We try to walk through life the same way with the same guiding knowledge we had from the day we came in.  Whatever intuitive guidance we would have flowing from within, we block it out. We allow our egos...and human greed for more... to rule, front and center. In essence...we fight our own, personal, evolution. 

As humans, too, many of us believe we must plow through everything in our path. We cut trees indiscriminately...pollute our waterways and our air, our ground and our groundwater...all in our singular quest for
"getting more from..."

"To hell with those inanimate objects.  Who cares?"

But we all should care... Should we truly, in our greed for "getting more from..." destroy the things we need for basic survival: air, water, plants, trees et al, we destroy ourselves.

It may not seem to matter now...but to future generations ...it will. (One Nebraska Utility is getting the message: Nebraska Utility Is Phasing Out Some Coal Units.)

Lest we stray, let's return then to acquiring "Wisdom." We must understand that wisdom is a journey, not something we can acquire by reading a book, or attending a seminar. We must know each day, we're offered new lessons, new solutions to overcoming old problems, and an opportunity to evolve from our old ways of seeing and being. To evolve authentically and to live truthfully in Peace, we must stay open to our Soul's guidance.
Birds intuitively know what to do to survive...and thrive

Birds migrate in flocks from coast to coast in different seasons
We can look around us at the birds and the trees and know that Wisdom... is a Gift of Spirit, like Strength, Will, Love, Understanding, Creativity and any of the other traits we've covered so far
and will continue to cover through the rest of the year.

The Power of Wisdom does not come from striving and fighting our way through life to "Get More From"... Wisdom comes from getting a deeper understanding of life by allowing the intuitive spirit within us to be our guide.

It comes from taking a closer walk with God and the being within us that is constantly there...our Soul...asking, only, to be let through. But instead of gracefully stepping out of our own way, we push, fight and grab.

So, yes. We get more... Then...comes the VOID. Life lacks meaning. 

So...we wonder...and wander....

Ants build their nests with protective walls around them.
We begin to walk into nature to ask why "Getting more from..." did not bring us the joy and the peace we thought it would. As we look up...we see a tiny ant...busy going to and fro, knowing winter is coming.

We see the tree bent a certain way.
 We observe the birds...migrating in accord...away from the clouds.
 We look into the distance, then, we, too, see the clouds.
We look down and see the water in the lake has turned to ice. We wonder..."how?"
"God Grant Me the Serenity To Accept the Things I Cannot Change Courage To Change The Things I Can And Wisdom to Know The Difference." -The Serenity Prayer
Are you willing, and able, to see...and also accept ...the difference?

Can you acknowledge the Power of Wisdom, as a gift, knowing, it comes from within? 

Giant Sequoia and Redwood trees, hundreds of years old, grow
in California's Redwood National Park. 

Can you be still enough, to differentiate between ego's need for more, and the Soul's gift of guidance to you to "change form" when guided to do so in order to become whole?

"Getting more from..." with ego's and our humanity's guidance is a totally different gift than "Getting More From..." with Spirit and from the guidance of the Soul. 

Are you ready to learn the difference? 
If so...the teacher, within, awaits you. 


Sunday, June 1, 2014

In Defense of Ego: "The Power of Strength"

Photo Credit: Labio Guia. This image demonstrates strength that goes way beyond the physical.
I've been working out at fitness centers for decades now. When I go two-to-three times a week, sometimes only once, I always get energy from the guys who pump iron. They pump iron and grunt, as they pile on more and more weights. No one at the gym thinks them strange for making these animal sounds; we all understand: lifting weights and building a strong body is hard work.

I admire these guys, and women, too, who are growing into stronger and more powerful bodies. We admire them for their strength and physical fitness, and this is rightly so for all the time and attention and love they give to their bodies.

But were I to whisper this to you, "these folks ain't seen strength yet," would you believe me?

The truth is that whereas our physical strength comes from building muscle and equipping ourselves with the best tools necessary to sustain a healthy body, the real power of our strength comes from within. 

No one...repeat...no one...including world-class athletes, bodybuilders and/or muscle-bound aficionados can lift a muscle and grow forward, if they didn't have the inner strength and constitution to keep believing each day that they could do it. All of these fit people know one thing: they must dedicate and commit to going to the gym as often as they feel necessary to keep growing stronger and stronger, bigger and bigger. They may take it for granted that this is required. What many may not know, though, is that they could be stronger still, with perhaps less effort, by first going still within and connecting with the source of their being. 
(EDITOR'S DISCLAIMER: Any commercial enterprise promoted on this blog is done freely and because of admiration and appreciation for the work and/or business. Namaste' Wholistic does not have direct contact with any management personnel at Planet Fitness.

We must first acknowledge the positive role EGO plays as the impetus for us wanting to look, and be, our best. Yet, it is by getting past the motives of "looking good," or "being bigger" that allows us to truly succeed.

Getting beyond self and visualizing the strong presence we want to manifest can be just as powerful as piling on more weights. The owners of many of the gyms seem to know this, too, as scattered throughout almost all of the gyms I've had membership are several powerful images and motivational pieces. Planet 
Fitness, a very moderately priced fitness center, appeals to the masses and offers more than just equipment and good management. Scattered throughout Planet Fitness gyms, and on every machine, are motivational pieces to keep members focused on the goal at hand.

Of course prices at Planet Fitness locations may vary and depend on time of year. 
On every machine, Planet Fitness has these these words: "You Belong." "No Critics. " "No Judgement."  The walls are beautifully complemented with images of perseverance, strength, courage, stamina and much more. The  color scheme of purple, black and yellow on the machines and walls also adds to motivation and the ambiance at this very well presented fitness center.
On Planet Fitness machines, members find motivational words. 

We can look at the cover photograph (at the very top of the blog) and wonder all day how these women and one man manage to stay up without falling, leaning their bodies on top of, and intertwined, with each other. We may never get an answer. We can only imagine the inner strength, coupled with their physical fitness, that allows them to stay centered, strong, focused and connected. There's lots of trust there, too. Trust in one another and themselves. Teamwork. Trust. This is powerful stuff. (See this too: Collaboration at Its Best.)

The spirit within us is the strongest part of ourselves. Lizzie Velasquez clearly lives this truth. ("The 'Ugliest' Woman Speaks Against Anti-Bullying.")

When our lives would want to crumble all around us, the way we pick ourselves up is by going quietly within and reconnecting to the source of our being. Sometimes, we are so far removed from this connection that it may take years for us to reach back into center. Like the athletes and others who slowly build muscle through exercise and discipline to reach their goal, we, too, must practice and prune ourselves to go further in and build stronger spiritual muscle. It is not an "overnight thing."

Photo Credit: Dado Ruvic, REUTERS. Imagine the determination and strength it took Momir Bojic of Bosnia to build this  Volkwagen Beetle.  Bojic sculpted 50,000 pieces of oak to build the car's exterior  and interior. 

Building spiritual muscle is the hardest job you'll ever have on Earth. Life constantly tests us, and we fall backwards sometimes. But if we can keep on the road...that inner road...to strength, our "salvation" to "the promised land" will be the prize.

Only you can decide how many hours you want to dedicate to building your spiritual muscles. Only you can decide whether it is worth the reward or not. But I promise you this: if you are miserable and feel lost today, the only way you'll get out of that feeling is to slowly hold on to the wall of spirituality around you and keep inching your way back home.

Gradually and steadily, holding tightly to the wall of prayer, meditation and commitment to God, you will make your way.

Just hold on.

Keep holding on.

Use whatever tools and equipment you have around you. The journey does not require expensive props.

Gospel music on the radio, preachers on the radio or television who touch your Soul, music in church, friends you admire and love all bring messages that can help you.

Walking in the park, in nature, tending your garden, playing with your cat and/or dog are all ways to connect and go deeper within.

The main thing, the key to living a fulfilled life, is staying Present and Aware in each moment. Know that you know that you know this moment is special every time you're having one. Pay attention to yourself, your thoughts, your feelings when you're in the presence of another or in a certain place.

If you have feelings of discomfort when in a place or in a person's presence, move
quickly away. If not, you'll end up chasing your tail and getting distracted from your goal.

Make your home a sanctuary for your Soul. Make sure your surroundings are pleasing to you. If you're seeing chaos, that is a metaphor for your life. Start cleaning up your act!

Use candles, incense, an aquarium, flowers, aromatherapy and other soothing "instruments" to relax and soothe you.

Love yourself. More than anything or anyone else: LOVE yourself!
Loving yourself does include pampering...but also means getting beyond the exterior of self. This is where many of us fall short. 

"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 Shakepeare 

The truth is this: if you can't love yourself, then how can anyone else love you?

Getting to the self beyond the Ego, i.e. the inner journey, is the longest one you will ever undertake.

 But "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a simple step." -Confucius

Make a commitment to grow stronger by connecting within.
All the strength you need resides there, muscle-bound or not.

May God Bless You on the Journey Within!


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.