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 5, 2015

How To Gain The Whole World and NOT Lose Your Soul: Lose the Pride

Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

We will not know the truth as to whether the orchid (bird) we see spreading its wings, above, is doing so innocently, or with the intent to display its beauty. With the human judgment we place on things, though, were this a human doing such an elaborate display, we'd think the person was being deliberately prideful. 
Having Pride and Not Having Pride are two sides of the same coin; they are both tricky.

Have too much... and be accused of egotism.
 Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura 
Have too little or none...and be accused of being shameless, even slovenly.
Pride defineda feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.  

Who among us does not want to have pride?

Without pride, we do sloppy work, because we simply don't care. We go about our days, too, without much purpose or direction. We dress without care and attention to ourselves.

So... we develop pride in ourselves. We seek the accolades from colleagues and others ...well...just because.
Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura 
As to our friends: who wants to walk up to "friends" you're ashamed of greeting? After all, our friends  supposedly are a reflection of ourselves, especially if we follow the old saying, "Show me your friends, and I'll tell you who you are."

Credit: Wildlife Nature
Our pride keeps us pumped up and often out on a limb with confidence in our own abilities. This is a great way to feel, especially if we truly are the "gods" so many claim. We want so badly to believe these teachings that tell us we can find and reconnect to this "god"  power within us by simply reaching in, and it'll be automatic. 

What these teachers don't tell you is that reaching in is just the start! 

If we're truly dedicated to the search for truth, we will discover that the journey is the way in. And it involves giving up illusions of Ego and our false self in order to reach and fully connect with this inner self.  

Even Jesus had to experience Crucifixion before Resurrection; Buddha tramped through the harshest terrain, with the courage to challenge death, in his search for Nirvana; Muhammad made his way through deep confusion and many desert years before finding bliss (and ultimately Jannah), and with Hinduism, the search for Atman to reach the Brahman state takes decades, if not a lifetime, of dedication.
PhotoCredit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura
The search for Nirvana is in the journey

Throughout 2014 we focused on The 12 Powers within man on this blog, ranging from Will to Life itself. While developing these "powers" may help us succeed in our human endeavors, they do not automatically lead us to Wholeness. We can achieve much through confidence in our human abilities and pulling on our innate "powers." But without reaching in, then going deeper, to align with the truth of our being, we are building foundations on sand, not rock. 
"And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand." - Matthew 7:26
Like the prophets, we learn that it's the willingness to give up all and even have a fall from grace that allows for a closer walk with God. As we begin to fall, we become fully aware that  we will never reconnect back to our Souls from the lofty state of pride, fully supported by Ego.
"When pride cometh, then cometh shame...but with the lowly is wisdom." Proverbs 11:2
"The gift" that many get from a seeming fall from grace is finding their true selves and true freedom.

Most of us assume that working hard got us to where we are today. We never knew of another part of us...much less a force within us that "doeth the work."

What force?
"To Bring the sublime into the mundane is the greatest challenge there is."                                          Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, Alchemical Wisdom
Editor's personal photo of "The Impersonal Life."
"The Impersonal Life," scribed by Joseph S. Benner and first published in the 1920s, provides powerful insights about this other self.  We may know ourselves to be a personality with five senses.  On the inside, though, is the impersonal self:  

"I AM that innermost part of you that sits within, and calmly waits and watches, knowing neither time nor space; for I AM the Eternal and fill all space.
"I watch and wait for you to be done with your petty human follies and weaknesses, with your vain longings, ambitions and regrets, knowing that will come in time; and then you will turn to Me, weary, discouraged, empty and humble, and ask Me to take the lead, not realizing that I have been leading you all the time."

It may take extreme circumstances such as an illness, a death in the family, loss of a job or career, separation or divorce or other catastrophe for us to wake up to the truth within us. In our pain and in our loss, we may discover the fount of wisdom, compassion and truth lying within us. 

We awaken to truth!

Whatever circumstances cause us to wake up, when we do, we know life as we knew it is over. We will never be the same:

Making different choices from the heart of our Soul, we may find ourselves becoming more compassionate, caring, loving, giving, forgiving and generally operating with more conscious wisdom.

That's where we ultimately do wind up: in a place that gives us the "lowly perspective of the wise."

To get there, though, may take us through  "the forever"...

Through the darkest alleyways of our Soul as our stubborn pride does not easily give up ...
Nor does it take kindly, especially in the beginning, to hearing that all of our accomplishments over the years...were not due solely to our skills and abilities, 
but we were dependent upon how much we unknowingly exercised the power within us.

Which prideful Soul wants to hear that?
Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura. 
Humans certainly aren't amphibans...we want control over our lives!

Which prideful Soul wants to know that its success was not due to its own efforts?

Which prideful Soul wants to hear about the power of the "other?"

Where ever your pride may have taken you to date...

Whatever accomplishments you may have achieved to date...
Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura
Like the core of this beautiful Digitalis Purpurea, so do we have our core. It's our Soul.
Whatever purpose you may be planning to fulfill...
Whatever still lies ahead of you to achieve...

Begin to acknowledge the Truth of You!
Begin to look within for the Truth of You!

Don't lose what you have...because of something as nebulous...as pride!

You know those "friends" who supposedly are a "reflection of yourself," and the accomplishments you acquired? 

In time: you'll begin to see them as the illusions they are in the light of truth...

We only reflect the consciousness that we are to the world, and similarly, we attract people reflecting our values or consciousness. Change our consciousness, and our perspective on life changes. We also change the people with whom we have close association. 


One by one, consciously or unconsciously,  these people will have a tendency to disappear...as the ephemeral beings that they are....with the light of Truth. 

Enjoy the journey of discovery, there are countless blessings along the way.  

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.

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.