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, November 8, 2015

What's Height Got To Do With It? Keep Perspective: Oneness

"If a man would have peace, let him exercise the spirit of Peace; if he would find love, let him dwell in the spirit of Love; if he would escape suffering, let him cease to inflict it; if he would do noble things for humanity, let him cease to do ignoble things for himself..."- James Allen, "The Heavenly Life: 'Divine Center.'"

Photo Credit: My Story
(Seeing this picture; can you gain a perspective on how "tiny" we are in terms of the Universe)
We are tiny creatures. We are very tiny creatures.
We may look at the ant, crawling on the ground, going busily from place to place with seemingly
no purpose, as a pitiful creature that we can crush any time we have the desire. And... we often do...crush, crunch, spray, kill...the ant without a second thought.

Some people do so with larger creatures...animals... as well.
They shoot animals, going to and fro, for no reason other than...because they can.

Were we to truly pause and see our own smallness in the scheme of life, we would indeed pause...halt...all our busyness going to and fro in our daily activities.

Were we to ask, if there was any real purpose to our days, we would see clearly and understand fully that our individual busyness is as seemingly meaningless in the scheme of things as that of the ant, or the dog, or the lion going about their ways. 

But we, as humans, never stop. Most of us don't pause in our days and our ways to ponder the larger questions of life and wonder about our "bigness" in the overall scheme of life?

Of course, we are here for a purpose. Our
lives do have meaning. Often, though, it's not what we think. Often, too, it's not in the ways we think we fit. I certainly don't know how it all fits together. I respectfully leave that to a higher Presence active in our world. But what I do daily is try to stay connected to that Presence and Power and stay aware of where I might, or might not fit, into the day's activities I'm called to do.

Look around you now and see if the room in which you're now sitting is smaller or bigger than you?
Do you have a perspective of your size?

Some folks spend a lot of time worried about being tall, short, fat or slim. This is so much so that during the GOP debate, held in mid-September 2015, the top Google search was the height of the 2016 candidates. (See this: People Only Care About How Tall The 2016 Candidates Are). A seven-foot or taller man or woman may seem a "giant" among us, but in terms of the Universe, it's just a different variety of life's creatures and things on Earth. [Advice: When you're feeling big, look up and around you

We go boldly forward in our days and our ways acting on the feeling that we are the greatest creatures on Earth. WE have a right to be here; THEY do not.
Photo Credit: My Story
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." Genesis 1: 26 
Photo Credit: My Story 
 Whether you believe in Pantheism, God present in all,  or Panentheism, God above all, he created the animals as well as humans.The only thing that separates us is our intelligence. But as Science uncovers the intelligence of other species, humans may have a humbling experience about this point too. (The Science Is In: Elephants Are Smarter Than We Realize), (Dolphins, Dogs and Elephants Smarter Than Some Realize), and (Goats Are Smarter Than You Think). We may yet find that humans are not the smartest creatures on Earth.

We're increasingly discovering that animals, like humans, feel emotions...sadness, joy...as do humans.
Cane Carso was a dog featured on Facebook. He was scheduled
to be euthanized, but his tears saved him.

"Lawrence Anthony, a legend in South Africa and author of 3 books including the bestseller, The Elephant Whisperer. He bravely rescued wildlife and rehabilitated elephants all over the globe from human atrocities, including the courageous rescue of Baghdad Zoo animals during US invasion in 2003.
On March 7, 2012 Lawrence Anthony died.
He is remembered and missed by his wife, 2 sons, 2 grandsons, and numerous elephants.
Two days after his passing, the wild elephants showed up at his home led by two large matriarchs. Separate wild herds arrived in droves to say goodbye to their beloved 'man-friend'. A total of 31 elephants had patiently walked over 12 miles to get to his South African House.
Witnessing this spectacle, humans were obviously in awe not only
because of the supreme intelligence and precise timing that these
elephants sensed about Lawrence's passing, but also because of
the profound memory and emotion the beloved animals evoked
in such an organized way: Walking slowly, for days, making their way in a solemn one-by-one queue from their habitat to his house. Lawrence's wife, Francoise, was especially touched, knowing that the elephants had not been to his house prior to that day for well over 3 years!
But yet they knew where they were going. The elephants obviously wanted to pay their deep respects, honoring their friend who'd saved their lives - so much respect that they stayed for 2 days 2 nights without eating anything.
Then one morning, they left, making their long journey back home.
AND DEEPER THAN HUMAN INTELLIGENCE."- This story was posted in 2013 by Dr. Wayne Dyer and re-posted by Reid Tracy after his death, as a "classic Wayne FB posts."

Why can't we then keep perspective and respect for other creatures?

One of the key reasons, I believe, is that day-to-day, we are so full of ourselves, our very lives and the concentrated energy within us, we don't have time to look outside at the larger world. The times we do, it's to see how the other creatures can serve us. 
Photo Credit: My Story
(Goldfinch by Feathers [Allan])
Notice the birds of the air are more protected
than animals and creature that are on the ground.. 

But believe it or not, our concentrated energy is no more important to the Universe than the concentrated energy within the animals and the lowest species crawling on Earth.
Animals, like humans, know how to instinctively
care for and love their offspring.

We are all here for a purpose. Yes, even the lowest creature. Some people are aware
and are doing much to alleviate killings and suffering of some animals. See these pieces:
(Dogs Arrive After Being Rescued From South Korea Farmers) and (200 Horses Roam Free After Being Rescued From Years of Abuse)

When we gain perspective on our lives, we also see that the passing issues that destroy our joy day-to-day are unimportant in the overall scheme of things. We can begin to feel Joy and Peace and Happiness in this way. 

Look up...look around you...see how 'big' you are...and see how you fit, if viewed from above, in relationship to the sky and the wind and the sun and the moon...and all the other animals and creatures on Earth. Know, they too, are here for a purpose, and though we may not know it, they also feel what we feel. See this: (Dog Stands Guard Over Pup Until Is Rescued).

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this November, my wish for us all is that as we give Thanks for our lives, we also gain perspective on that very life and its meaning in the ever-evolving Universe. I pray that we begin to wake up to the ONENESS among us all, people and animals alike, as did this pilot who's obviously awake! (Pilot Diverts Flight So Dog Does Not Freeze To Death).

Remember the turkey you eat came here with a purpose, too. In the eyes of the Universe, it, too, is worthy!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Greater Part of You....

Photo credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura
We Should Think of The "Greater Part Of You" as a sleeping giant...awakening by any touch of connection. 
Challenges in life bring the greatest men to their knees. I mean this in both a literal and figurative way.
People fall on their knees and pray ...without ceasing... when obstacles block their path
to good. God then becomes their top "agenda item," until the next obstacle comes around.

I'm not going to knock these people.

What is sad? They don't realize that God always is ..the greater part of themselves.

God IS the greater part of all we are at any stage in our lives!
Photo credit: Mentors' Channel
We may have traveled far and achieved much from our early days, and through it all, God has been the force and the fuel propelling that growth forward.

When we are able to fully connect to this greater part of ourselves during times of crisis and through prayer, seeming miracles occur. Endorphins are released into our bodies...we relax, we feel peace...we become whole.
Photo credit: Sociedad Argentina 
de Horticultura

On a daily basis, though, we can reach in and connect to this infinite source of power, strength and goodness within us.

Any time of day or night, in any given moment, we can find the same peace, we can relax, we can become the wholeness we seek...were we to reach in and simply connect.

In "The Dynamic Laws of Prayer," Catherine Ponder, a master spiritual teacher, writes,
"The shocking truth about prayer is that all prayers are answered by our loving father. Whenever a prayer seems to remain unanswered, you can be sure that somewhere there is a closed door between you and the Infinite Giver." 
I have lived this.
GOD SENT LOVE IN A BAG OF POTATOES: This potato showed up in a bag of potatoes on a day several months back when  I was having a challenging day.
Without a doubt...seeing the "love potato" stilled my fears of the moment...immediately. 
The only times my life has gotten really off track are those times when I've bought into the fears of the world and the insecurities of people surrounding me. Sometimes, it's the hands of God that reached in and grabbed me back to fullness and wholeness from the "smallness" I had cultivated around myself. 
As I proudly and gratefully celebrate yet another birthday tomorrow, I've made myself a promise: I desire and expect only the highest and best experiences in my life.
Moet & Chandon may not be everyone's best champagne, but it's certainly one of my favorites. 

"What I know and what I've learned is that when I expect and desire only the highest and best experiences in my life...(doing so without fear or doubt, but with absolute faith... and without sharing my desires with anyone else...especially those who would disparage those desires)...then only the highest and best experiences show up in my life."
We can all look back and see that our lives have been a true reflection of our thinking and our expectations. Pay attention. Look back. Trace back.. and see... when certain experiences showed up in your life.
Credit photos: 
(L: Sociedad Argentina de Horitcultura 
R: My Story ) 

Was it when you were fearful that a negative experience showed up? 

And ... 

Was it when you were holding yourself in highest regard that you began to experience the highest and best manifestations in your life, i.e. in terms of finances, job experiences, people and events? 

It's no longer a mystery to me as to why we experience life the way we do.  The simple truth: what we think about, we bring about!

Dr. Wayne Dyer, our blessed and recently departed spiritual teacher, explains this phenomenon in his book "Inspiration." "We're in a system that's directed by a Supreme Intelligence, and we're part of that system," Dyer writes. "Everything is on purpose."
Credit: My Story
"Our 'vibrational'  match-up determines what we attract and what we repel in our life. We needn't focus on what's already happened and what we've gone through; rather, we must shift our vibration upward so that it harmonizes with spirit, and then...only then... will spiritually based ideas come knocking on our door."

"There's nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come," Dyer writes.
He recommends that we try these personal affirmations to tune into things we desire and expect. "I desire it. It's on its way. there's nothing for me to worry about. '

In his book, "As A Man Thinketh [circa 1903]," from "Mind is The Master," James Allen  reflects the same thoughts. Allen writes: "A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts."
Credit; Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura
"As a plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them. This applies equally to those acts called, 'spontaneous' and 'unpremeditated' as to those which are deliberately executed.   
"Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits; thus does a man garner in the sweet and bitter fruitage of his own husbandry."
As a progressive and evolving being, man is where he is so that he may learn and grow. Allen continues.  "And as he learns the spiritual lesson which any circumstance contains for him, it passes away and gives place to other circumstances." 

I have found that the more I have grown in wisdom and understanding, the less I want to speak. In this vein, I then choose to write no more on this subject of thoughts and life's circumstances. But I share this Allen poem with you to ponder and become wise about your own life.

"Thought in the mind hath made us. What we are
By thought was wrought and built. If a man's mind
Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura.
 (Like fine wine, we grow better with age, as the wisdom of God pours itself into us.) 
Hath evil thoughts, pain comes on him as comes the
wheel of the ox behind...                                                                                                          ...if one endures
In purity of thought, joy follows him
As his own shadow--sure."
Photo Credit; Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura
As I grow one year older, my wish for me, as well as for you, is to go deeper in Spirit. I intend to sit back of my personality more and more, allowing my Soul to move further in: into my mind and body... so that this Soulful view becomes the perspective with which I gauge and respond to the world. (Check out, from the photo on left, how relaxed and easy life seems when we're aligned and living from the Soul.) 

Over the years, especially this year that just passed for me, I have learned more than anything else that this Soul...is indeed, the greater part of me.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Laboring Without Pain...

This is a pencil sketch by Russian Artist Olga Melamory Larionova. 
Look at the picture above. Who could have occupied their days getting this image to perfection but someone who loves her craft?

Those of us without a trust fund to sustain us through life must make a living, and we're trained  to do so from birth. Of the many things we're taught in life, the most critical are those surrounding work and success.
We are told to get good grades in school... to succeed... so we can go out into the world and get the right job to make a life. Throughout this process, we are implicitly being trained about how to transition successfully into retirement with enough money for our Golden Years. (Some GenZers are going to buck the system. Check out this recent Bloomberg Businessweek piece: ("Boy King of The Evil Geniuses" )

Isn't this the crux of what we learn about life and living? But dare I now say that our time on Earth deserves more than a preparation for retirement, and ultimately, our death?

If we are not aware and awake to the purpose of our lives, the societies in which we live would have seduced into believing that life is the process of work: preparing to work, going to work, retiring from work.

Yet, while we're here, we are being offered a chance for so much more!

Each day we awaken to a new opportunity to see life with fresh eyes.

Each day, we're being called to wake up to the truth about life and its promises.Whether we're beginning our career, in mid-career or retired, here are some of the questions we wrestle with daily;
    •  Am I saving enough for a good retirement?
    • How can I get the next promotion?
    • What type of raise am I going to get at my review?
    • Did I pick the right career?
    • Are others doing better than I in their achievements at work?
    • How can I get the next right job?
    • Am I Bored?
    • Did I retire too early? 
     Few questions focus on what should be fundamental considerations about work:
    •  Am I happy with my work?
    • Is my work the reason for my happiness or sadness?
    Earning a living is at the center of how we live our lives. So, our work is critical to our happiness.
    We should begin then to focus on work in the sense of "occupying" our time. 
    Each week, a new listing comes out for the Top 10 "best paying jobs," or Top 100 colleges that provide the best paying jobs or best paying college majors. Here are a few samples:
    (Highest Paying College Majors),
    (America's Top Colleges), (Schools With The Highest Salaries Upon Graduation), and (Top 10 State Universities With Highest Earnings Graduates)

    We never will see listed the "Top 10 Most Satisfying College Majors Leading to A Happy Life."


    When we think of a career, we rarely think about whether we will be happy with our occupation for the rest of our lives. The focus is on the money we would earn. For most, this translates into the happiness we can buy with that money: house, clothes, car, life partner, friends, entertainment, travel and other past times.

    We assume that happiness will follow where the money goes. But this is not often the case.
    There are many, many unhappy people occupying their days in work they try to fit into, though that work is totally wrong for their dispositions and real interests.
    "Prosperity is at first a spirit, an attitude of mind, a moral power, a life, which manifests outwardly in the form of plenty, happiness, joy. Just as a man cannot become a genius by writing poems, essays, plays, but must develop and acquire the soul of genius---when the writing will follow as effect to cause---so one cannot become prosperous by hoarding up money, and by gaining property and possessions, but must develop and acquire the soul of virtue---when the material accessories follow as effect to cause--the spirit of virtue is the spirit of joy, and it contains within itself all abundance, all satisfaction, all fullness of life."  - James Allen, "Mind is The Master"
    An employer may provide the right types of benefits, give a fair salary, be considerate about the time we need to take off...yet, not all of their employees will be happy. So, they wind up with bad or sloppy performers. This is bad practice for both the companies and the employees.

    Employees are a company's greatest assets. Companies should  not suffer because we are doing the wrong type of work. Neither should we.

    We may have been conditioned from birth to look for work that pays us the most in terms of salaries and benefits, but we must look within ourselves to know the kind of work that would satisfy our Souls. We must be active participants in our lives to make sure that the work we do leads us to both satisfaction and happiness. (Sometimes, due to economics, we may have to take work that is unsuitable to our desires, talents and skills, but we must make sure that work is only temporary. Do not stay long term in work you have no interest in.)

    Even if all our conditioning led us to finding work, we must look for work of the right kind.  We must be active participants in our lives to make sure that what we do to occupy our days leads us to both satisfaction and happiness.

    When we think of choosing a career or the work we would like to do, the real question we should be asking is: "How would I like to occupy my days?"

    This question speaks to each second, each minute and each hour we spend doing what we do. Then, when we think of our work, we can envision (or not) the seconds, minutes and hours being spent pleasantly, happily and joyously doing what we feel most called to do. Once we can envision our joy in the work, then we can begin to drill down to the company and people with whom we'll be occupying our days: look in terms of the seconds, minutes and hours spent in that "company" in both a figurative and literal sense.

    Do the companies practices and policies support our values?
    Are the people we'd be working/interacting with on a daily basis pleasant folks?

    We don't always get it right the first time. But each time, we get an opportunity to start anew to move unrelentingly towards retirement.

    Is that the goal? Should moving unrelenting towards "the safe harbor of retirement" be the goal?
    Indeed not.

    Again we must get back to the seconds, minutes, hours...then days.

    Are we occupying our days in the right way?

    The purpose of our life is not to simply get through it.
    The purpose of our life is to live through it, making each day one of value...a day that honors our Soul.

    When we sell out our Souls, we know that only chaos, unhappiness and a lack of fulfillment can ensue.

    This Labor Day weekend, I invite you to begin to focus on how you're occupying your time..
    By doing so, excellent work, and all of its concomitant benefits, will follow.
    "There is no joy in money, there is no joy in property, there is no joy in material accumulations or in any material thing of itself. These things are dead and lifeless. The spirit of joy must be in the man, or, it is nowhere. "- James Allen

    Sunday, August 2, 2015

    "Overcoming Selfishness Is Key To Our Growth in 21st Century..."

    Photo Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horitcultura 
    Things Left Undone by Adelaide Proctor
    It isn't the thing you do, dear
    It's the thing you leave undone,
    That gives you the bitter heartache
    At the setting of the sun;
    The tender word unspoken,
    The letter you did not write,
    The flower you might have sent, dear,
    Are your haunting ghosts at night.

    The stone you might have lifted
    Out of your brother's way,
    The bit of heartfelt counsel
    You were hurried too much to say;
    The loving touch of the hand, dear,
    The gentle and winsome tone,
    That you had not time or thought for,
    With troubles enough your own.

    These little acts of kindness,
    So easily out of mind,
    These chances to be angels,
    Which even mortals find--
    They come in nights of silence,
    To take away the grief,
    When hope is faint and feeble,
    And a drought has stopped belief.

    For life is all too short dear.
    And sorrow is all to great,
    TO allow our slow compassion
    That tarries until too late.
    And it's not the thing you do dear,
    It's the thing you leave undone,
    That gives you the bitter heartache,
    At the setting of the sun.

    Selfishness is suffocating the individual, stifling the family's ability to grow in meaningful ways, and stunting our overall spiritual elevation.

    Most of us think of ourselves as giving, caring and loving people. But a closer look at what truly is being demanded of us by the spirit of God working in and through us, we'd see an abysmal picture.

    We can't really see the myriad ways of our selfishness, because we don't have the awareness to discern it. But selfishness goes beyond giving, or not wanting to give, away "stuff" and sharing. Selfishness describes the ways we walk through life.
    • If we close ourselves off from the world by not staying open to how our days can be changed in a minute by a stranger needing our help or attention: we are being selfish.
    •  If we're inflexible so that we remain totally unaffected by people, places and events in our environment: we are being selfish.
    • When no one and nothing else matters but meeting our needs and seeing the world only through our eyes: we are being selfish.
    We Must Allow the Flow Of Our Talents and Gifts Into Life!     

    There's a parable that's shared in Christianity about three men who were each given a talent by their master. The first man brought back three talents for the one he'd received; the second man brought back two talents for the one received, and the third man saved his and returned it to his master. This third man was promptly thrown in jail.


    He'd hoarded his "talent."

    Let's look more deeply at the real  message of this story.

    God gives us each skills, talents and gifts to walk in the world a certain way.
    • Some of us will expand and use those talents, helping others along the way, thus multiplying our skills and talents into many generations.
    • Others will do the best they can to grow in ways they feel led and will expand circumstances to benefit many others as well as themselves. They, too, will be blessed.
    Giving Our Gifts To The World Contributes To Growth for All
    • The third set will try to preserve their gifts and talents by staying focused on one thing, not expanding beyond where they started. Doing so, they limit those very gifts, stifling the good for all and shutting off a flow of good into the world.

    When we close off the flow of good into the world, we also close it off from flowing back to us and our families. But many people don't see it that way. Instead, they view their selfishness as a form of self preservation. But this truly is wrong thinking!

    Competitiveness breeds selfishness. We all want to win at any cost. We'd prefer to close off our skills and talents to preserve them for ourselves and our families, rather than share them with the larger community. Why share, when we can have it all? By being this way, we can elevate ourselves in our own eyes and those of the world. And, after all, isn't this what life is all about?

    This stinking thinking must stop, if we are going to grow forward as a progressive society during this 21st Century.  We see when those who think beyond their own companies, and their own needs, manage to elevate the ways of life for many. For examples, we've only got to look at the many critical developments made in the late 20th Century and being made today by those in the Information Technology field and in other industries changing and improving the quality of life for us all. See this  FORTUNE piece: ("Must you be ruthless and selfish to be a really successful entrepreneur.") Yet, we've got much further to go: we've got to go beyond individual companies' ROI and our own individual wealth and riches and grow into societies where no group of people is left behind. 

    In "Mind Is The Master," James Allen writes that we must first discover this selfishness within ourselves, and understand it, before it can be removed.
    "Seeing that in selfishness there is no security, no stability, no peace, the whole process of seeking the Kingdom resolves itself into a search for a principle; a divine and permanent Principle on which a man can stand secure, freed from himself---that is, from the personal element, from the tyranny and slavery which that personal self exacts and demands. A man must first of all be willing to lose himself (this self-seeking self) before he can find himself (his divine self.) He must realize that selfishness is not worth clinging to, that it is a master altogether unworthy of his service , and that divine Goodness alone is worthy to be enthroned in his heart as the supreme master of his life."  -James Allen
    We can rid ourselves of Selfishness, Allen writes, by going through Three Gateways of Surrender:
    1. Surrender of Desire
    2. Surrender of Opinion
    3. Surrender of Self
    Surrender of Desire is the first step to Selflessness

    Surrender of Desire is achieved when we realize that we are a slave to both ourselves and our surroundings and circumstances. Realizing this, then, we are able to get to the second Gate, Surrender of Opinion, which relies on self-control, self-reliance, fearlessness and independence of thought.

     "Here also he  (man) will have to pass through ridicule and mockery and false accusation; so much so that some of his best friends, yea, even those whom he most unselfishly loves, will accuse him of folly and inconsistency, and will do all they can to argue him back to the life of animal indulgence, self-seeking and petty personal strife.

    "Nearly everybody around him will suddenly discover that they know his duty better than he knows it himself, and, knowing no other and higher life than their own of mingled excitement and suffering, they will take great pains to win him back to it, imagining, in their ignorance, that he is losing so much pleasure and happiness, and is gaining nothing in return.

    Build Your Mountain by Surrender of Self

    "At first, this attitude of others toward him will arouse in him acute suffering, but he will rapidly discover that this suffering is caused by his own vanity and selfishness and is the result of his subtle desire to be appreciated, admired, and thought well of; and immediately this knowledge is arrived at, he will rise into a higher state of consciousness, where these things can no longer reach him and inflict pain."

    Through development of humility, we learn to distinguish between Truth and others' opinions about Truth. We must learn that opinions about Goodness, Purity, Compassion and Love are very distinct from those qualities themselves, and that we must stand upon those divine Principles, and not upon people's opinions, Allen writes.

    We must Build A Community
    Photo Credit: Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura
    "The journey to freedom by walking through the gateway of Surrender of Self may be long and tedious one, or it may be short and rapid. It may occupy a minute, or it may take a thousand ages. Everything depends on the faith and belief of the searcher." -James Allen

    Walking through these three gates to freedom ultimately boils down to things: 1. Having faith  2. Having the wisdom to discern the Truth.

    Are you able to develop these key attributes to walk away from Selfishness and into Freedom?

    As for me? I'm taking a slow, long walk to Freedom. It's trying on many days, but still I persevere.


    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.