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, October 1, 2017

Generosity of Spirit: "Born To Be Awesome"

               "I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any                             kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now.                               Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way                               again." Etienne de Grellet, Quaker Missionary
Celebrations often mean bringing out our favorite champagne.  Those living middle-class lives, and liking French champagnes, may choose brands such as Veuve Cliquot or Dom  Pérignon. Then, there's  Moët et Chandon. To my untrained palette, the only real difference between Dom Pérignon and Moët et Chandon  is the cost, as the difference in taste is so subtle, it's almost indiscernible. And both champagnes come out of the *house of Moet et Chandon. 

But many would rather have the higher-priced Dom Pérignon, at twice the price ...because we want the best for our friends and family. Then, there are the "neighbors," who may watching us too.  

Question of the day:
Why is it so easy for us to serve the best when we want to leave a lasting impression among our friends, acquaintances and family, yet there's a lack of generosity when serving our thoughts to those same people?   
Serving up spiritual gifts is one of the most generous gifts we can give to a person.  Doing so, too, costs us nothing. But in life, we find that many people would rather give tangible things as gifts...real expensive items... yet  skimp on compliments. 

"Generosity of Spirit" is an elixir so rare that when it's served up, it often takes us by surprise. This should not be. 
"At the end of the day, people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel." Maya Angelou
I tend to remember both how people made me feel and also what they did and said.  

And this past week was a week filled with gifts. 

Each day brought blessings from Souls who popped into my space just long enough to pour out their wealth of spirit, making me feel rich and truly prospered.  

It started with a very early birthday card I received, screaming on the cover in black and red:  "Born to be Awesome...that's YOU!" The words inside also elaborated in even more magnificent ways the reasons the sender thought I was awesome. I was truly struck by the "generosity of spirit" that prompted my friend to send such a card.

Then, the next day,  a sweet man, with a wonderful demeanor and style paused at my desk to tell me something: 
"I had some extra time last night, so  I was reflecting on the good things in life. I was thinking of the early morning sun and how it blesses us with its positive, vibrant energy each day. Immediately upon thinking of the sun and its gifts, I thought of you. As you bring this same energy into my space."
Wow. Just wow.
Two days in a row.
On the third day, another person, knowing I had grown to love Welch's mixed fruit snack bought the hugest box she could find and left it on my desk. "Happy Birthday, Cheryl. Enjoy."

Merlyn, my sister, back far right,  pictured with her
two daughters, Shondelle, back row, center, Saudia, front center,
Stephen, back row, 3rd from right!
and their families, recently visiting Seattle.  (Happy Oct. 3 birthday, Saudia!)
On the fourth day, one of my truly awesome sisters, who in the past had forgotten my birthday until the last minute in her busyness with her real estate work, was taking no chances this year:  she called me with a generous offer for my birthday celebration. I truly was touched that this year, she'd taken the time to plan ahead.

Wow! Just Wow! 

My birthday still is a few days away. And I tell you, if this keeps up, I won't have a heart big enough to accommodate the gifts of love and generosity being poured onto me

 "Thank you, Universe! Thank you, people!"
These gifts will outlast any sparkling champagne, as they nurture my Soul.

We must then ask, "How much did it cost these Souls to bring me these gifts?" 

We know the cost. Yet, few people seem able to afford them. 

We must understand, though, why:  
  • When we're not feeling our best selves, or operating from a place of wholeness, it becomes very difficult for us to give good feelings to others.
  • When life has thrown us some seeming cruel, curved balls, and we don't know where we're headed, we may become disillusioned enough to believe that there's little to life than the superficial.
  • When we're separated from the center of our being, our Soul, there's no way we can see beyond the circumference of our own bodies, much less to give or bring joy to another. 
Sometimes, it becomes too costly to tell someone else that they are cool.
Sometimes, it becomes more than we can bear to see others strutting their brightness, when our world may be filled with darkness.

This is human. This is real. This is a direct result of our separation from our Soul.

For many of us, this separation is causing real riffs to develop in our lives.

When we feel a sense of inadequacy in some way, it's difficult to celebrate the light shining from someone else.

When we're feeling that way, most of us have the tendency to turn surly and unpleasant. We believe that by looking sour, and acting that way, we will dim the light in others.  Somehow, in our distorted state of mind, this makes us even. 

On the other hand, those who truly have a light that no man on Earth can dim do the exact opposite; they present a bright, cheerful demeanor even when life turns sour on them. One such beautiful soul, Zaudia, told me that she smiles harder when life presses her on the inside.
"I want people to see me smiling during my most difficult times. By doing so, I am able to camouflage my pain and eventually the pain goes away."
We've all heard the saying, "Smile and the whole world smiles with you." This is truth.

Surliness will never win friends. Compliments, and a spirit that expands to see the world beyond the circumference of our body, always will. 
"Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others."                                             -Barbara Bush, via Gratefulness.org
Generosity of Spirit
comes back to us
We so long to celebrate life with  the best of champagnes and the best of life's offerings. My strong belief is that we'll always have to keep breaking out the Dom Pérignon, Cristal and  Salon Blanc de Blanc, or Louis Roederer Cristal Brut, until we reconnect back with our Souls. Champagne and other external "tools" may lift our spirit for a day or two, then it's back to "reality."

For those looking to enjoy a permanent spark,  connect within and then learn to reach out.

We should give generously of our spirit. When we do, joy does come back to us...even in little ways.

We should remember, too, that when it comes to people, we don't often  get "do overs." We may meet someone this year and never have an opportunity again to say, "Thank you for being in my life. I think you were born to be awesome, the way you shine." 

Say your kind words now, heeding the words of Etienne de Grellet at the beginning of this post, and do not defer your good deeds and thoughts, "as (the people we meet) may never walk this way again."

As I move closer to my October 5th birthday this year, I feel tremendously blessed by the Souls in my life. When I reflect on my past life, where I was known as "the hostess with the mostest," and where champagne poured freely at my celebrations, I see a tremendous difference today. With the consciousness I had back then, I was tremendously happy. But my Soul today has filled the center of my being with its energy:  I am totally at peace...because ... I am home!

Thank God for the journey, and the long, slow walk that brought me here.
On Thursday, I may choose to have a rare sip of alcohol. If I do, I know it will not be Dom Perignon or any of the others. I will choose my perennial favorite:
                                Chandon  Brut!
I raise my glass to all of you among us...all of you, my friends and readers...who don't wait to be invited to give gifts:  
Thank you for your generosity of Spirit!
Please remember, too: You were Born To Be Awesome!
EDITOR'S NOTEMoët et Chandon began in 1743 by Claude Moët, a wine trader.  In 1973, the then Moet -Hennessy company, founded Domaine Chandon, as an outpost winery in Napa Valley, California. Domaine Chandon was the first French-owned sparking wine operation in the United States. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

From A Higher Perspective: "The Second Coming..."

"For Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required, and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask more." Luke 12:48 KJV 

In our striving to arrive to a place of success, we often seem to forget the second part until life comes screaming at us to pay attention.

My heart did not permit me to watch newscasts and all the videos of the thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Harvey. But I knew it was bad...very bad. I needed to hold onto my heart. 

Not watching television did not excluded me from seeing reams and reams of social media reports of rescue efforts. I did my part contributing where I felt called. And amidst the many reports I saw scores of other reports:  of those Houstonians who remained un-involved, praying for others from a distance, and doing little else to help.

One such person, sadly, is the prominent Houston Pastor Joel Osteen, who often talked in his Sunday sermons about how God "gifted" him with the Houston arena. This is a mega arena, a former NFL stadium, seating 16,500 people each Sunday. Osteen’s doors remained closed in the early days, as Harvey lashed its fury upon residents in Houston.

I didn't read all the reports coming through, but the sheer volume of them streaming through my Facebook feed made reading a few of them inevitable.

As many of you know, I have long been an admirer of Osteen. I've long celebrated his rise and style of preaching and teaching. Like Osteen, I believe Jesus was our way-shower, not wanting to be deified but wanting only to show people the way to open their own consciousness to The Christ consciousness within them. So, I did not want to believe that he, Joel, stopped short of demonstrating that Christ consciousness when it was most critically needed.
While thinking of Joel Osteen, I began thinking of my own  lapses and the lapses of so many of us. Almost on a daily basis, if we're aware, we're called to do more than just talk about TRUTH and preach/teach to others. Often, we are called to actions of "The Christ," but just as often we miss those opportunities.

There's one thing to be gifted with the power of the tongue to bless many to awaken to God's presence and power in their lives. It's another to step forward and be counted when those among us are "dying," yet we turn a blind eye to them.

I will not repeat what the news reports said about Osteen. You can access those yourself. But the message I want to share today is that we have to awaken to TRUTH each moment of each day, as opportunites knock on our doors of consciousness to "Be Christ" in the moment.

Unlike some of my Christians brothers and sisters, I do not believe there is ever going to be "a second coming of Christ!" I believe that Christ already arrived once and now the second coming is about us.
Believe it or not: the second coming of the Christ is about you and me and Joel Osteen.
 *Saudia Solomon Turney is a therapist in Houston,
working with people
in crisis of some sort on a daily basis, was moved during Hurricane Harvey
to contribute to Hurricane Harvey victims from
her own contributions and those of friends.  See photos of some of their donated items below. 
It's about us stepping out of the shadows of our lives and going out of our way to demonstrate that we know and understand the "Christ" teachings. It's about us awakening from the stupor of our own successes and the grandeur of our lives and realizing that we may have been blessed...not because we may be beautiful, talented and gifted...but for a purpose! The gifts of spirit are never only about us, though they do come through us and our ways (talents) in the world! Our gifts of spirits are not intended only for us to stand out from the crowd, but they intended for us to be among the few who should be counted as the next generations of Christ!
(See Michael Dell's response to the HurricaneMichael Dell donates $36 Million to Hurricane Recovery,)
 Yes! We are the "next gen of Christ!"
We are all being called to be Christ-like 
in our ways and step out of our shadows 
and step up to the TOP of our own pulpits and do what is right...without being told what to do.  

If we truly are believers in the Christ way, we must be believers all the way:

1. We must walk barefoot among those who do, so that those without shoes would not be shamed in any way. OR, if we want to wear shoes, we must ensure that those who walk beside us wear shoes, too!

2. We must preach and teach not from an elevated platform, but from the plateau on which our Souls have rested in a new consciousness of The Christ.

3. We must see within the eyes of our friends and colleagues the silent pain they carry and reach out our hands so they can hold something tangible when they are in pain.

4. We must reach into our own Souls to see into their Souls the silent tears so many wear beyond their smiling facades.

5. Whether Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Pantheist: we must all form a brotherhood of love and unity and fight with every breath of our being those who would seek to divide us and our shared humanity.
One person visiting victims
of Hurricane Harvey wore high heels. 

6. We must all learn from the examples of those who have amassed the greatest sums of money on earth and have chosen to give it all away (See the Giving Pledge); make these people our heroes and role models.

7. In the end, we must fight like Jesus did when he threw over the tables of the money changers and throw over the tables of engaging useless sports, like cocaine and other indulgences; we must think of the lives being lost to drugs and be grateful for the privileges we've been given so that they can be used to serve in some way.

Religion is often disparaged by many who seek Spirituality. The greatest thing we can learn along the way as we strive for spiritual growth is that spirituality is at the base of all religions. Spirituality without a Soul is meaningless. We can learn all we want about meditation and getting into the center of our being, and about the Spirit of God being within us. But if this learning is not coupled with transformation in that Spirit, like Christ, then our spirituality has a BIG HOLE in its soul. 
Jesus said:
 "O faithless generation; how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?"                                                             Mark 19:19  (KJV) 

Esentially, Jesus was asking his disciples when will they truly learn his ways.

Yet. Many of us still wait... with hands and arms folded... in anticipation for his "Second Coming."

Unfold those hands and arms and use them instead to reach others in some way. Doing so, we'll then find the waiting will not be in vain.

Unfolding our hands and arms, one day we'll each wake up...in the not-too-distant future... and realize: Christ has come again!

*NOTE: Saudia Solomon Turney is one of my nieces. Being the youngest of my parents' nine children, I have several nieces and nephews living throughout the United States. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Rich Dad, Poor Dad: Bringing "Heaven" on Earth.

We're having a dream. 

In that dream, there's a garden filled with every imaginable flower. In the middle of the garden, there's a cascading waterfall, and we feel only joy, happiness and tranquility while slowly floating through the beds of flowers. 

Then we awaken. We realize that this dream is of our concept of "heaven."

But what if that dream were a waking one? What if such a dream could be created in your life?
Would you want to  bring that bit of heaven here on Earth and enjoy it for all time?
This 30,000 square-foot house in Bel-Air, Calif., has four swimming pools, 
spa-like amenities and bullet-proof windows. (Credit: Splash News..) 
According to news reports, purchase of the home is reportedly 
being considered by the entertainment couple noted below.
That's the question most of us should keep uppermost in our minds, as we go about our tasks each day, striving...some of us scheming...as to how we can get more and more beautiful "stuff" into our lives. 

The lifestyles of many people are ever evolving and the ordinary practice of living and creating a life is being taken into the stratosphere. If we're not conscious of what we're doing, we, too, may aim for the "stars" without really knowing or understanding why and what we are doing. We may just think it's the "thing" to do. 

One such example of reaching into the stratosphere of today's prevailing lifestyle is a piece I recently read: it was the union of a billionaire's daughter to another billionaire's son. The wedding reportedly cost $7.7 million; small change for this couple, when the level of extravagance is factored in. 

  • Five hundred thousand flowers, (500,000), arrayed the wedding and reception venues. 
  • Guests' names etched onto stars, visible as they walked into the reception. 
 (See the wedding details recapped here: 2017 Russian Oligarch's Oscar-Inspired Wedding)
Juxtapose that wedding to the everyday living of another American power couple in the entertainment field: 
  • A $1 million a month rental property for a vacation spot.
  • An $80, 000 tiara for their first-born daughter
  • A $2,100 rosary. 
This couple, still being relatively young, has many years left to cultivate new lifestyle habits. (See the piece on the couple's lifestyle here: How JayZ and Beyonce' Live.) And another couple? Here's this: ("Edible Gold Birthday Cake.")
There's absolutely nothing wrong with this way of living...if you have the consciousness to dream it...achieve it...and sustain it.
The dark queen of opulence: Magia 2000
Where it gets tricky for many of us, though, is when we lose the consciousness to sustain it. Because to stay in the consciousness of sustaining the lifestyle of extravagance, we must believe that we're also entitled to this life and way of living. 
    Magia 2000
  • If we were born into such extravagance... we know no other life.
  • If we've earned it and made billions... we'll have no issues maintaining it.
    But for those of us striving for this lifestyle... without the consciousness of feeling 
    "entitled" to it... that's where trouble can start for us. Riches are not to be carried lightly:
    • We have to have the consciousness to feel entitled to walk down the aisle with hundreds of thousand of roses and other flowers at our wedding. If we don't have the right consciousness to truly believe we are entitled to these things, we can certainly fall under the massive weight...financially, emotionally and physically... of carrying such extreme displays of wealth. 
    • Even being born into wealth doesn't guarantee we may not eventually feel the emptiness of it all. 
    There's nothing ...absolutely nothing...wrong with growing rich. 

    Go for it! Many have gone from rags to riches and have ended up leaving great legacies for their families and future generations.

    Here's the thing, though: 
    Know what you're stepping into and the burden you give with that legacy. 

    It's then we may begin to deeply appreciate the wisdom of truly rich folks, like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and others who have signed pledges to give away most of their wealth.("The Giving Pledge.")

    The humility of these folks may seem strange to those without the consciousness that allows these truly rich people to walk away from wealth and not burden their kids with it. Yet, if we have the consciousness to appreciate these folks, we would have to believe that these rich men and women love their kids very much. They love their kids so much that they are wise enough to know the true value of wealth. So, they give it all away. 

    Warren Buffett's daughter, Susan, did not know until she was in her 20s that her father was one of the richest men in the world. Read this: "Susan Buffett Finding Out Her Father Was Rich."

    Materialism, defined (here) by The Dalai Lama, as "expensive cars, big houses..." are "all illusions and of the mind," he says. (The Dalai Lama Speaks With Maria Shriver On Materialism.)

    Then, there are those "not so rich" dads who do what they do for their children to simply make the passage of their time on Earth more enjoyable. 
    Serena Williams' dad, Richard Williams, was not rich when he taught her and her sister, Venus, the intricacies of tennis, leading them both to world-class status. After reading this piece, (Serena Williams' First Million Dollar Check), we will understand that this seemingly "poor" dad instilled in his daughters much deeper values than earning money. 

    Warren Buffett, a rich dad

    Richard Williams, a poor dad. 

    Both the rich dad and poor dad 
    demonstrating values beyond money: LOVE
    Our consciousness about money should also be about the flow of money. Whether we have a lot of it or not, whether we can give it all away and earn more or not, our consciousness about money must center around how we include others in the flow of things.
    Costco shopping: Alleuia time for many
     because of the value

    Bill Gates can afford to be cheap, ("Bill Gates Wears A $10 Watch."), as we all love a bargain, and Bill already has the consciousness to know that he contributes to the flow of life in much higher ways. But then there are so many among us proud to say they have accumulated a lot of money, yet would not give a dime to someone begging on the streets for a meal. (And no, despite pieces like this "Why You Shouldn't Give Money To Homeless People." that you see from time to time, homeless people are not trying to scam you. Most of them are desperate and need help, regardless of how they became homeless.) Or, they are always 
    proud to note that they have received this or that item "for free," without thinking of the cost to the other, or even thinking in any way they can contribute to the free flow of that "freedom" to others. For example, spending money at a local car wash keeps many young people employed, as in their diligence, they buff and shine your car. Eating out at places beyond fast food restaurants when you can afford to do so also keeps those restaurant employees working. These are small ways to live well and also stay in conscious flow of money circulating to others.   

    For those wanting to live an extraordinary life, without going to the stratosphere, here's an idea of havng a form of heaven while still on Earth:"Warren Buffett Donates $3.7 Billion To Charity"

    Photos Credit: UNILAD Adventure Magazine 
    Remember, too, the truly best things in life can be enjoyed without "possessing.
    "Those who are awake live in a constant state of amazement."
    Jack Kornfield (via Gratefulness.org)


    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.