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, 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.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

In Defense of EGO: The Power of LIFE

"Once there's life, there's hope," Physicist Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything."* 
Photo Credit: Rosa Cruz Azurea. Light is able to shine through flowers as naturally as day turns into night: there's no obstacle placed in its way.

Life is. Life simply is.        

                                        Life, if left to unfold naturally, can be and is beautiful. PhotoCredit Liu dMila

We don't know for sure from whence it came. (In October, Pope Francis settled the question on evolution vs. creationism) 

We don't know where it's going. 

Yet, from beginning to end, we get ourselves relentlessly tangled up in it. 
Breathe. Be Still.

The rose in its many splendors calls out for us to STOP.

"Look at me. I grew, yet I did not strive to grow."
Photo Credit: Mentors' Channel

Peace. Be Still. With life and all our of striving.

"Life is not going anywhere; there is no goal to it, no destination. Life is non-purposive, it simply is. Unless this understanding penetrates your heart, you cannot slow down. Slowing down is not a question of any “how”; it is not a question of technique, method… Change your basic philosophy: that of an achiever. Relax into your being." Osho, Contemplative Mystic, via Mentors' Channel, 21-Day Meditation

We glorify activities in life because they give our life purpose. Whatever we do in life, we do it with a sense of urgency. We must get it done...and now!

Without this sense of urgency, what is the point...of even waking up tomorrow?

We must get it done...and NOW!
Photo Credit: Camille Pissarro
   Is life with all its hustle and bustle today,
any more joyous or happy than in earlier times? 

As hurriedly as we move, life is not going anywhere but in a giant circle.

We see this circle with new babies coming into the world and needing care, and on the other end, with older people preparing to leave the world and needing care. Yet, we hurry.

Photo Credit: Musetouch Visual Arts Magazine. We can  pause and create wherever we are and  with whatever gifts we've been given to be part of the equation of life, bringing joy to others.

We must accomplish and achieve. And it must be done...yes, yesterday.

As we're hurrying along to accomplish so much, we're missing ...life.
(See this piece about what we do when we pay attention to the world around us: "Can I Borrow Your Bucket For a Bit?"

Lillian Weber: doing what she loves each day...sewing.
We're missing the critical ingredients that are required for cooking up a life. At 99 years old, this woman is doing all she can by continuing to contribute to life. (Ninety-nine-year-old Iowa woman sews a dress a day for children she will never meet.) Is she living to give or giving to live? Only Lillian Weber knows what drives her. But at the end of each day, she knows she did more than think about being old and dying. Indeed, we die each moment we choose not to participate in life. 
Photo Credit: Berussa

We're missing the cues that come from human interaction...the cues we gain by
connecting one on one with people from all places and spheres in life.

That's why travel becomes so important. We see much and we learn much. 
Photo Credit: Dr. Farrah Gray

When we travel, we're able to see...no matter how far and wide we go...people operating on different levels, who view life from a different perspective than we do. As Poet/Writer Oscar Wilde said, "Travel ennobles the spirit and does away with our prejudices."

Indeed we learn, people don't come in only one form. The creativity of cosmic consciousness is at work in many ways...mixing us up!

Photo Credit: Marca Peru

The world is wide, and so, yes, there are many differences for us to absorb.
Some of us try to immunize ourselves from acknowledging these differences by making our way and our walk in life the desirable and only way through the universe. We make laws to acknowledge that our way and our views are supreme on Earth. But in the end...to the place where we're going...does it matter?

Muslims and Jews. Jews and Muslims and Christians. Muslims and Hindus. Hindus and Sikhs and Buddhists. Catholics and Protestants. Methodists and Lutherans. Lutherans and Jehovah Witnesses. Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah Witnesses.  Then there is Mormonism and Scientology, each established solely on the beliefs and teachings of one individual.

Actress Angelina Jolie proudly displays
her Buddhism. This sets the tone for others
to follow.

Where does your group belong? 

If I were to ask you, I'd bet anything you'd have great arguments for why your group and your way makes the most sense, wouldn't you?

Even with all our scheming and planning and trying to trick life, though, with our religions and our rules and our views on the "ought to's" and the "should be's," life has a way to reckon with us.

We age.

Yes. We AGE! 

In defense of EGO, this is when it starts to take a backseat, having urged us on for so long in our early years. Ego begins to go into "retirement" as we age. It finally realizes that it cannot do all.

Aging and the process of Life, itself, forces us to slow down. When we do, we see and we ask:
"Where was I going in such a hurry?" "Why did I miss so many important cues along the way?" "Why was I so blinded?" "Why was I so stupid?" "Why and how didn't I know?"
Don't  panic, if we discover we've been traveling
down the wrong road to self discovery

As we age, life has a way of replaying for us all the little...and big ...slips we made along the way.

Somewhere in the middle of our lives, we think we've got it all figured out: 

"Okay, yes. I've lived; I've learned. No person, place or thing can trick me now."

Life continues.

We're tricked...again.

Now, what?

Plot and plan some more?

If we're still walking through life with blinders on, with EGO leading the way, we may try to  plot and scheme  our way through life again. Doing so, though, we'd end up in the same circle.

If we were conscious of life only as taught through religion, we may cling to it some more, fervently going to church to squeeze whatever "tricks" we may think we have missed along the way:

Am I praying right? Am I saying the rosary right? Am I giving enough to causes? Am I good enough? 

Fervently we hold on...and will keep holding on. We've even passed down these techniques, much earlier in life, to our kids. This assures that the next generation continues the tradition of walking exactly the same way through life that we learned from our parents and generations before.
Photo Credit: Jean-Philippe Deterville

I'm of the opinion that we're here to become a better version of ourselves, evolving from where we came into the world.  So our lives are 'personal' and unique to our Soul's journey.The collective journey is when we each get bettter at life and can contribute at a higher level to the greater whole.  
Credit: Mentors' Channel
The way I see it, looking back with regrets on things we did when we did not have the consciousness to know better is an absolute waste of time. Keep moving forward to a new level of consciousness, hopeful that you'll keep doing better as you grow.
Credit: Mentors' Channel

 The greatest thing we can do for our lives is to make the best of each day; try to live it as if it's your last! This means being an instrument of love and caring for those around you. Giving the best of yourself to the tasks at hand. Leaving your handprints on all you do, and great footprints for others to follow.   
If we have even a half-way consciousness of the spirit within us, we'd whisper, "Lead Me, Guide Me."  

Even with this half-way consciousness, we would have learned that despite our way of walking in the world, which may have worked for us, there simply are other ways; we'd let go of trying to change or convert people to our view.

We'd learned, there's much we don't know about life...much to learn about and from animals. 
Photo Credit: Spirit Science
We'd have the first inkling that a consciousness can only do what it is awake to doing.

We would be able to trace back all of our steps and see that no matter how much we tried, there was an inexorably presence leading us on.
Credit: Mentors' Channel/follow on Facebook


If we're fully AWAKE and aware of the Consciousness that is our lives, we will learn to just be. Then we can make the choice: BE HAPPY!

We'd learn that this consciousness is us, and we can only cultivate our relationship with it by being present with it in each and every moment.
"Within me is the potential for meaningful, creative, and dynamic living. I am worthy and free to demonstrate life, wisdom, understanding, strength, and order—attributes of my divine inheritance." Daily Word, July 31, 2014

We'd slow down.

We'd find we must slow down in order to connect and create.

We'd slow down.

We'd know that the relentless walk ...going here and there... is a futile step to really going... nowhere.

We'd slow down and just be....with the moment.
After all, we'd figure, this IS Life and it can be lived...
yes, only in the moment.
Slowing down and savoring each moment of life brings joy and happiness, as we witness with this loving mother and her son.
To savor it...we'd slow down.
We'd simply breathe in and breathe out...enjoying LIFE.
"Creativity has nothing to do with any activity in particular – with painting, poetry, dancing, singing. It has nothing to do with anything in particular. Anything can be creative – you bring that quality to the activity. Activity itself is neither creative nor uncreative. You can paint in an uncreative way; you can sing in an uncreative way. You can clean the floor in a creative way; you can cook in a creative way. Creativity is the quality that you bring to the activity you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach – how you look at things
Whatsoever you do, if you do it joyfully, if you do it lovingly, if your act of doing it is not purely economical, then it is creative. If you have something growing out of it within you, if it gives you growth, it is spiritual, it is creative, it is divine. Love what you do. Be meditative while you are doing it, whatsoever it is – irrelevant of the fact of what it is." Osho, Contemplative Mystic, via Mentors' Channel 21-Day Meditation.
Remember: If light shines through a flower or a tree, it also always is seeking a way to shine through you.  
One of the key things to learn from life is that no one has the answers to life: we may learn a lot from association with others, but the key to our happiness and our success is within us. Remember, too, no one can love you more than you: self care is critical. 
Like mountains: With the right consciousness, 
we'd stand through the test of time. 

      Like mountains:  With the right consciousness,
 We'd stand through the test of time. 

Most of all hold on to faith and love, gain true understanding and wisdom, by giving up your human will. Find the real strength that lies within you and, even as you do, realize there is an "order" to your life and to all of life. So live yours with zeal and enthusiasm, letting go (eliminating) the things that are not just, right and true. Create from the essence of your being (imagination) and find your power, as you enjoy all the gifts that Life offers to us all. 
(See Unity's Twelve Powers chart on this blog.)

Osha also offers that trying to escape the life of Zorba--eating, drinking and being happy--is not the way to fulfillment either.
"Zorba, the Greek, is the very foundation for Zorba, the Buddha," he says. 

Those people who try to avoid life's normalcy by trying to become monks, are immature in Osho's eyes. "Before a lotus can become a lotus it must go through the mud. The mud is the world," Osho says. Monks are afraid of the mud, he says. 

Essentially, Osho urges us to live life in its fullest and only then can we appreciate our Buddha transformation.  
Photo Credit: Mentor's Channel
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11

Happy Holidays. Make it the Best one yet!


 *NOTE: I strongly recommend this movie about Stephen Hawking's life. Even though Hawking currently repudiates GOD and his impact in our world, the movie provides a great insight into the physicist/scientist's thinking and clearly demonstrates for those of us who believe in God his very activity in Hawking's life!

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.