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, March 1, 2015

How To Gain The Whole World and Not Lose Your Soul: Stop Comparisons (Envy)

"I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11
Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura
A spiritual story that has been circulating for decades is that of a king who one day went out into his garden.

He found all his trees looking desolate. When he inquired of the oak tree its reason for sadness, it said it wanted to be as tall and majestic as the pine tree; when he asked the pine tree its reason for discontent, the pine tree said it wanted to be a grapevine to produce grapes; the grapevine... yes, you guessed it...wanted its life taken because it did not bear beautiful, large fruit like the peach tree. As to the geranium, it was unhappy because it was not like the lilac, tall and fragrant.

The king finally found one happy species: a small violet, which was just content to be. The violet told the king: "I know I'm small, yet I thought if you wanted an oak or a pine or a peach tree, or even a lilac, you would have planted one. Since I know you wanted a violet, I'm determined to be the best little violet I can be."

Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura
With Humans It's Truth!

We can picture the seeming tranquility of the garden, yet tell the tale of discontent among the various bushes, trees and flowers, because we know the truth: it's a fallacy. But were the same story to be told about  humans, sadly, we know:  it's truth.

When we see each of the plants, flowers or trees in the garden, we see them shining and reflecting their glory with what nature has given to them. They don't have a mirror in which to see their image and to compare that image to others around it and become discontented.

When we see a drooping plant, we also know it's not in the best of health and something outside of itself must be causing its demise. For  drooping plants and trees, often it is lack of care to the plant itself or pollution from the environment that's causing the problem. For humans, it's the lack of self care and often preoccupation
with worry or stress.
Credit: Mentors' Channel

Think about those among us, whose stories we do not really know, but who we see dragging themselves around with the burdens of life hatched to their backs. The distortions could indeed come from physical illness, but often it comes from heavy emotional baggage, like envy or making comparisons, that creates disharmony in many areas of us lives.
Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

We feel Cheated!

Many of us may feel we weren't served up the right ingredients to make for a happy walk through life. We feel somehow that life has cheated us by making us the wrong height, weight, and/or giving us the wrong color hair or skin. Others may feel they were born into the wrong family, i.e. one of poverty and not wealth..

In truth,  despite all we hear about creating our lives in the moment, were we to trace our lives back to the beginning, we would see that there was a fate, destiny and direction that already seemed to predetermine our lives. And when we look back, we would see that it was a path of mostly good, despite where we may have started out, i.e. rich or poor.
"Everyone on this earth should believe amid whatever madness or moral failure, that his life and temperament have some objective on the earth.
Everyone on the earth should believe that he has something to give to the world which cannot otherwise be given."
G.K. Chesterton. 
Despite the circumstances into which we may have been born, all of life is skewed to keep us moving progressively forward, not backward. This should be the first clue to us that our fate...our destiny ...is one of successful living. 
Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticulutura

Life is Skewed to Our Good!

When we begin to experience our lives getting off this path of good and cluttered with unknown "weeds," we also can then trace these back to the times we sought to go against the plan that seamlessly was laid out for us and began to follow or assimilate the plans laid out for another. At those times, we'd find that we winded up going around and around in circles, fighting with ourselves.

The truth is that when we're on the wrong path for our lives, it causes all sorts of disruption in our lives. We struggle and strain to get through each day. This is not only the case for those born into poverty, as even when poor, people adjust to a rhythm of life that brings a certain element of peace to their days.

In spiritual circles, we often hear these words:"Let Go and Let God;" "Divine Order," and "All Things Work Together For Good." These are not just vain repetitions but are Truths: there is a path of good...a fate...a destiny ... a purpose ...for our lives.

Cultivate the Right Attitude

By resting in this knowledge and by cultivating the right attitude towards life, we would find our lives flowing in the right direction; moment by moment, as we are indeed co-creating the next stage of our lives with the Spirit within us. When we work against the grain of this, then disruption and chaos cannot fail to ensue.

Often, we resist because we don't think the path where we're being led is on an attractive roadway. We don't want to go! What we often do then is fight with our own Souls in order to get to some place where we truly do not belong. The truth is that we're not solely responsible for doing this.

The societies in which we now live seem to want to re-program us all to be noticed by the world. In terms of success, many in leading motivational roles seem to want us to be visibly successful...wearing and showing our success for the world to see. Indeed, many unformed and uninformed people are getting into the motivational arena because of the financial gains they can get from people who have lost their way through life. Many are promising us and  pointing us in one direction: to visible success.

Watch Out! There are many "false prophets" 
Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

Over the years, I've benefited greatly from the teachings of spiritual luminaries, such as Deepak Chopra, MD; Rev/Dr. Michael Beckwith;  Dr. Wayne Dyer; Gary Zukav; Michael Singer and others. I've pointed out on this blog over time the wisdom of these teachings and have promoted their books and others on this page and in other posts. But today, the motivational field is getting crowded with confusion. Some are pushing mind-control techniques, which may serve us in the short-time to reach specific goals, but do nothing to help us achieve Wholeness. 

 Those seeking sincere answers to the separation they feel from their true selves (Souls) often spend thousands of dollars following people who take them to bridges leading to nowhere! To many, it seems, finding Wholeness means teaching you ways to program your mind. That is so far from the Truth! Your mind often is part of the problem separating you from Wholeness.  While controlling your thoughts and programming your mind may lead you to obtaining a financial windfall and getting the trimmings of success, it will not lead you to Wholeness. For That: Search Within! 
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you." Matthew 6:33

Be as sturdy and simple as an apple tree. Do what YOU do best!
Learn to Differentiate Truth from "Fiction" 
We must learn to differentiate between motivational teachings for success and finding the Wholeness we seek by reconnecting with Soul.
I now tell  people with whom I share spiritual insights that following their simple traditional religion ...where they may be able to honor the Eucharist or do simple rituals ...is the best way to stay connected with the goodness within themselves. 

Although I've studied many different spiritual paths, I find the essence of who I am resonates with traditional teachings. I love the Bible and find so much comfort in the words of those who have gone before. After so many years of study, I know now that elaborate, world-wide Soul seeking is not at all necessary to find wholeness. To stay connected to ourselves (our Souls) moment by moment, day by day, we must stay aware of the Presence within us as we go about our daily tasks.There is no escape from thinking of God throughout the day: He is all in ALL that we do! We must recognize his works and not let our EGOs take credit! Meditation and prayer in the early morning and at night also serve to help us stay connected. For the sake of community, I recommend church attendance. Local churches work hard to keep their membership going. Your presence always would be appreciated by regular attendees. Going to church, mosque, temple or synagogue, we also can find reinforcement for our path with like-minded people.

Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura
These Digitas Purpureas may bloom, thrive and stand out for a season...but they, too, eventually pass on.  
My strong advice: Without much contemplation, don't go following the mirage of success so many contemporary programs are promoting. Many borrow bits and pieces from traditional religions, and may do a few things right, but overall offer nothing but confusion.
"Leaders, teachers, and philosophers speak and work for a season and then fall silent and powerless. He [God] abides. They die but He lives. they are lights that glow yet are ultimately extinguished. But He is the true Light from which they draw their brightness, and He shines forevermore." Alexander Maclaren, as related in "Streams In the Desert." 
Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

Our Seeds Already Have Been Planted

The seeds for our trees of life may have been planted at our birth, but those trees are growing into perfection every day as we walk through the world. Born pretty, beautiful, ugly or just plain, our lives will unfold the way it should, no matter how much we strive to fight against the destiny and the purpose that was laid out for us.

Credit: Mentors' Channel

By emulating those we admire, we can improve ourselves. But we should take extraordinary care in not losing ourselves by fully copying someone else and trying to fit into an image that does not honor our truth. It also makes no sense to go through life sour and seemingly burdened because someone has something more in one area or another than we do. In every area of life, there always is someone with something more or less than we have in our lives.

We can begin by observing the microcosm of our family, then branch out to observing our friends, then to our community ...then the country and then the world. Essentially, that's how many people exponentially we'd have to compete with in order to even the score.

Would any of that make sense?

Who gets to decide what's the best...what's beautiful or what's not?
Credit: Geology Page
(Look at the mineral/crystal images above and below: doesn't each  have a beauty all of its own? Should the topaz be a flouride, or the flouride, an amethyst?)

on Facebook.
 "For the body is not one member but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole body were hearing, where were the smell?But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body?" 1 Corinthian 12:14-19 

Think of Yourself Like A"Piece of Equipment"

Many of the man-made tools and equipment we've made to facilitate our lives are intended for specific purposes. As one example, let's think here of various pieces of equipment at a gym. Can we for a moment imagine the pain, misalignment and disjointedness that would occur,  were we to use the wrong equipment for parts of the body that they were not intended to support?

Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura
In a way, we also should view ourselves each as "machines," designed for certain roles in life."Made in the image and likeness of God," we are each programmed for a specific purpose. Like the man-made machines, which are constantly being perfected, we also day-by-day are programmed for improvement and success.

When we realize that our different gifts are intended to be used for different purposes, we can understand fully why disharmony often results when we try to take over what does not rightfully belong to us.

Don't Fit Badly Into Your Own Life!
Credit: Mentors' Channel

Have you ever seen people fitting very badly into their own lives? On the surface, they may appear to be successful, but you can certainly detect the lack of joy from their ill-fitting lives. Do you wonder how they get through their days with so much unhappiness and lack of peace?

Even when we have achieved our own stripes in our own way in life, we may cling to feelings of discontent because someone, somewhere, is doing something different.

Envy has to be the surest way for us to lose the blessings we've been given and destroy every ounce of good that came our way through our own striving. Do not lose what you have earned through your conscious efforts by needless comparisons and envy!

We should go within ourselves and ask the following questions about what we're doing or planning to do:
Am I in sync with my Soul? 
Am I following my own path?
Am I being truthful to my own skills and talents?

Get Back To Wholeness Through Acceptance of Your Own Gifts 

When you're able to answer a resounding YES to these questions, then you're on your way back to wholeness. Even if you've strayed a far way off course, by steadily listening and re-connecting with your Soul, you'll get back onto your intended path. You'll be back to the peace and the success that was intended for your life.

Be content with the path that was laid out for you! Get back in touch with your Soul!


Sunday, February 1, 2015

How to Gain the Whole World and NOT Lose Your Soul: "Love One Another..."

                                                 Photo Credit: "Towers" competitiont
"Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu." ("A person is a person because of other people.") African Proverb

Imagine if you would, the following scenario in the above photo and those below: one, two or three people, each on different sides, breaking the chain of unity and connection we witness in the "human towers." Just imagine the chaos and mayhem that would result.

Yet, in the United States and throughout the world, we are witnesses to the chain of unity being broken day by day, minute by minute, as people make choices to love only their own.

We also are witnesses on a smaller scale to the mayhem every Thanksgiving in the United States. We see the ritual some people go through to purchase certain select items, supposedly only affordable on Black Friday, and we see how far some would go to get those items for loved ones. (Woman kills three for last X-Box One.) 

Many choose to forgo Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends to stand in line on Thanksgiving *night at the doors of department stores to get bargain gifts for their loved ones. At some stores, there's a stampede when the doors open and people get hurt. As we read the story above about the woman killing three others for the store's last X-Box One, we also read that she allegedly used the excuse that she was "taking care" of her family's needs when she was apprehended by police.

Were we only to focus on the outrageous nature of the story, we would be missing the point of this post. The real story is what people are really saying when they shove, push others and kill others to get their own way: "People outside of me... or my loved ones... don't really matter."

A greater irony here, too, is that all the occasions where this type of mayhem happens are meant to be joyous ones!

Were Valentine's Day, coming up in two weeks, to have the same impact on our shopping patterns, we'd see the same behavior: people beating, even killing other people, to obtain the last one-of-a-kind gift for a loved one. The occasion we're shopping for seems to have little significance as to how we treat others outside our circle to meet our goal.  In fact, one very popular, low-cost bridal store often was in the news for brides-to-be fighting over one-of-a-kind dresses.

Let's hit the Pause button now.

Think about the expectation you may have about the appreciation of your loved one receiving the ideal gift. Think about how diminished your joy would be, were you to reflect on how ugly the shopping experience became for you to obtain that gift.
Would you feel satisfied, knowing that you trampled, or stepped over, another person to purchase it? Think, too: if it's the last one-of-a-kind left, how unique is that gift?

"Love Your Neighbor As Yourself" is the second of the 10 Great Commandments. This is not a feel-good urging; it is meant for our very survival as a species.

Like all the other 10 commandments, these utterances are meant to help us live our lives in ways that contribute to the overall good...that ultimately benefit us as individuals and as a species.

The truth  of the 10 commandments, recorded so many centuries ago, apply in an even more critical way today:

Our societies...our communities...are in dire need of love. More specifically, our societies...our communities...are in critical need of people loving people, neighbor loving neighbor, more than at any other time before.  
We are witnesses every day to the estrangement happening among different people in communities, based on issues such as race, religion, education, finances and other tangibles and intangibles.

This type of separation is causing an overall deterioration in the quality of life we all enjoy, and consider important, in our day-to-day.

As humans, we interact daily, sometimes minute by minute, needing the services and love of others.

Without others doing what they do, we cannot be who we are and do what we do.

Bridges, roads, our very infrastructure of life would fall apart if we don't each contribute our part, play our role for the whole.

Yet, people blithely go about their business, disrespecting the needs of others, and only caring about themselves and what is of importance to their or their families' needs.

But were they to stop and look around their world, they... we... would all see that nothing in life is separate. Our lives are so intertwined and integrated, we don't know where one begins and another ends.
Photo Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horitcultura
That's because... there is no real beginning and no end. Our connection to each other, like life itself, is a continuum. ...it's all infinite.

Any thoughts to the contrary are just illusions. There is no separation among us...everything is a seamless whole!
Each one of us plays an important part in this great puzzle in life. Each is a critical part.

We can see this as a microcosm in our families. We can clearly see the role each person plays.

We see how each member contributes with the loving way they prepare a meal or a huge Thanksgiving, or other holiday, dinner. We see the extra special touch and care they put into everything they do to make us feel special. We know the difference each of our family members' special ways make to our days.

It's time now for us to transfer that thoughtfulness and consciousness to the larger world.

When we step out of our front door, we need to be conscious that everyone else we encounter has stepped out of their homes...their cocoons ...and are now moving from a microcosm into the macrocosm of life.

Let's get conscious of this!

No matter how difficult it is to be nice to other people...to strangers...we must learn to do so.

People can be annoying with their strange ways....with their attitudes and selfish ways of seeing the world.

We all are guilty of doing this.

But the times we're now in are requiring us to step out of our zones...our Twilight Zones...into the reality of understanding that life requires us to "love one another."

We must "love our neighbors as ourselves."
We must learn how to fit together...in better ways ...and in love.

It doesn't mean that we go around hugging people...and even speaking to strangers. But what it does mean...is that when we step out...when we interact with people on the phone and in any of the myriad ways we do in our daily lives...we keep "love" as the mantra at the back of our minds.

No matter how hard it is in the beginning to see others from a perspective of "love," once we make it a habit, it becomes easier.

Are we ready to LOVE...really LOVE...each other in this new month of February, the month designated to love?

Then step out of your comfort zone ...step out of your family cocoon...step out of your circle of "love" ...and begin to expand that feeling...into the world.

It's time to begin writing a new book on "love."

Once you do: Watch...Wait ...and See...
Giving love; you receive love. 
An entirely new world will open up to you and for you.. 

Can your heart grow big enough to capture more people  in the world? Do you have a big enough heart to capture it all? 

I wish you  the ability to both give and receive "love" this Valentine's Day from a multitude of sources. 


*NOTE: Since 2013, many department stores increasingly have started opening on Thanksgiving Day, thus eliminating the long lines.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

How To Gain The Whole World And Not Lose Your Soul: Ditch the Wrath

"Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not thyself in any wise to do evil." Psalm 37: 8           
Photo Credit: Begin With "Yes!"
Hello 2015! Hello You! Hello New You!

We're beginning this spanking new year...with the right attitude.

Throughout this year, we will feature each month all the emotions, thoughts and actions that separate us from Wholeness and the Truth of our being. These are the negatives that can in turn lead us to all the toxic results we see showing up as different experiences in our lives, separating us further from our Souls.

So we begin this month with Wrath, or how the lack of forgiveness towards others can destroy all the positive goals we may have already achieved and those we've set for the future.

No matter where you are as this new year reaches you, you can begin by saying, "YES!" to life
Photo Credit: http://www.timharman.com
and capture as much Love and Peace the universe is waiting to pour out on you. Yes, YOU!

The reason I can say this now...today...is that I'm writing this as the Fall begins ...
way back in the year 2014.

Yes, it's October 2014, and today, I've decided that I always will have the right attitude about life....no matter how trying the circumstances that confront me in the day-to-day issues of life.  

I can say this with confidence, because I know the reason you're reading these words, and they've not been been deleted is that the decision to have the "right attitude" towards life has propelled me forward to this joyous day: January 4th 2015.

You see, I woke up on this Fall day deciding that whatever issues I may have to deal with today...nothing is worth sacrificing my peace and sense of contentment.

Trust me: On this day...there are issues waiting to be resolved. 

(Even aspiring mystics have challenges to overcome. It's the choices we make moment by moment that determine success or failure over those challenges.)
But from today...I have the right attitude, so those issues can wait.

As a matter of fact, I'll just let them dissolve themselves...just melt away on their own.

Photo Credit: Mentors' Channel
The fact that I can even think this way is ...huge.

A week ago, I had a huge "unforgiveness" issue. I had to go deep down within to resolve the issues by pulling up the roots from where the lack of forgiveness stems. In retrospect, yes, even a week later, I can see that the reason I got so bent out of shape was that the issue arose seemingly out of nowhere, so I was unprepared and surprised by it. Add to that the fact that I was being self righteous by believing I'd gotten past my inability to forgive. So, I felt the challenge had little to do with me and more to do with the other side. Ha! 
Via Mentors' Channel (find on Facebook)

The truth is that WRATH is a great divider with us and other people in our lives. These can be family, friends, colleagues,  and even strangers, and these issues of wrath and unforgiveness can plague us for a lifetime.

Some people choose to carry grudges against others all their lives.  You may know some folks who as adult are still angry about what a parent, a sister or brother or a childhood friend did or said decades ago. We can choose to hold on... if we wish...but we also should not complain about a life that is half satisfying and less than whole. 

Or, we can choose to step away from the darkness and into the light and have the right attitude towards issues and challenges in the moment they crop up.

We simply have to make a decision...not to let challenges or problems take over and corrupt our lives.
Via Mentors' Channel

Here's how an issue like unforgiveness can ruin an otherwise perfectly happy life:

We work very, very hard to gain a great foothold on life.We experience career success...success in relationships...we may have the perfect mate by our side ... and are experiencing Joy and Love, day by day.

Yet, we may not have cultivated the "right attitude" towards life, so that "issues" are like a waiting time bomb, stacked up like a deck of cards waiting to fall down. 

The first card on the deck may be Ingratitude: not being grateful enough for what's there; focused only on what we lack....wanting more and more, and never being satisfied.

Not being able to truly appreciate what we have can destroy the consciousness of openness that allowed us to be successful and attractive to others. So, the light of openness we created to allow those great things to happen begins to close up.
Photo Credit: From Apollo 11

One by one,  as we begin to harbor resentment and distrust towards people and what I simply call the "wrong attitude," we may begin to cultivate a climate of negativity in our lives. 
Take Stock. Take your temperature. 

Where are you holding resentment?

Let it Go!

Get into the right attitude towards life, especially unforgiveness, and the world will become your oyster! Get that new attitude! (Patti LaBelle: I've got A New Attitude)

With a "new attitude," you can overcome Wrath towards someone. As a matter of fact, the issue is there to help you learn something...often, it is to learn how to "Let Go, and Let God," and /or how to "Forgive." 

Forgiveness is the only one of the seven deadly sins that does not require you to do any real work with yourself...it simply is a decision you make, then this becomes a habit. "Let Go."

When someone does you wrong, you have three choices:
1. Continue to invest more time in the issue.
2. Seek retribution
3. Move on.

Many of us get stuck on the first two, rarely seeking to reach the third, until we're forced to do so, often with the resentment and wrath continuing to fester. This lack of forgiveness is what keeps us stuck in the past, closes the openings we worked so hard to create to let the light through when we were in a "better mood."

Well...we've got to get into the "mood" now...to let the light through again. Do not let the darkness in. This is how we can lose so much of the good we've created in our lives.

Life is built step by step. Day by day. Moment by moment. Choice by choice. 

This is the same for your achievements, which you built, thought by thought, step by step. 

Do not let a moment of wrath, i.e. unforgiveness, derail you permanently from the path of good that is laid out for you.

Keep following the light. And...
the universe always is waiting to support you.

This audiotape from the Rev. Ike Ministries (Rev. Ike's Powerful Treatment on Forgiveness) came to me in a moment that I was still resisting forgiving and letting go of the situation that was confounding me. By using this tape for just five minutes, twice, I was able to release the situation without ever looking back. By doing so, the issue miraculously ...literally...resolved itself. The situation simply melted...

Imagine the the holes...the many, many, holes we sometimes fill  with darkness in our Soul when we hold on to any of the seven deadly sins.

We are our consciousness. Whatever holes develop, let them be of light, not darkness.
"The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine ye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. if therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness." Matthew 6:22-23

The fastest way to get that light through and burning into your life is through Forgiveness. Another sure-fire way is through Gratitude. Practicing these two attributes, you cannot fail to let the light into your life.

Here is are two affirmations I picked up at a Unity church in late 2014 that seem to work well:

I Release, and I Let Go
I release, and I let go!
I let the Spirit run my life,
and my heart is open wide.
yes, I'm only here for God!

No more struggle,
no more strife, with faith
I see the light.
I am free in the spirit, yes, I'm only
here for God.

I am So Blessed
I am so blessed.
I am so blessed.
I am so grateful for all that I have.
I am so blessed.
I am so blessed.
I am so grateful.
I am so blessed.

As we enter into this new year 2015, I invite you to let more light onto your path by forgiving all and by being grateful for all things, even those on the surface that seem bad.

By cultivating and practicing these traits and truths, I guarantee you will have a blessed 2015!

Happy 2015 to you, my friends.


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.