Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Unity


“Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one”
― John Lennon, Imagine

In our rush through this life, we seldom take time to consider what unity means and how far it extends from their own being.  I believe in the unity of all.  That is why it is called a UNIverse – all one.  In our humanity, we fragment our selves, separate our being, and rarely realize our unity with each other and God.  We focus on compartmentalizing our lives, our feelings, and our beliefs.  We separate from each other, from nature, from God.  Indeed, our psyches are broken into bits and pieces.


One way to look at unity is through the value of integrity.  When you act in a unified (integral) way, you approach and behave in all parts of your life according to one set of values, beliefs, and ways of acting.  Your actions, beliefs, and your words match.  Your being, the “me” within, encompasses all parts of your self in an integrated whole and consistent manner. 

The unity of body, mind, and soul lies at the next level.  Here the physical world, our thoughts and feelings, and our soul meld into a whole that allows us to grow and pursue the soul’s desires.  We can listen to the stirrings of our soul and bring its light into every aspect of our living.

Our connection with other humans, other living things, and the external world constitute the next tier of awareness.  Look deeply into your friend’s eyes and drink in the wonder of union.  Walk in nature on a beautiful day and feel a joy and oneness with the earth and its bounty.  We can extend this to a feeling of awe and harmony with the stars in the sky, indeed, the whole universe.  “It isn’t hard to do.”

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Finally, our connection with the spirit within, an integration of our soul with God, fulfills our purpose in this life.  We discover a new way of living filled with love, peace, and divine presence.  Imagine if everyone lived this way.  The world would be as one!

-- Pete

Monday, April 29, 2013

Transforming


I am in catch-up mode on the A to Z Challenge, due to a major transformation of my garage last week.  These pictures show “before” and “after”:





The garage transformation took three weeks of sweat, tears, and a bit of blood!  However, transformation for humans is a continuous process of becoming, journeying through life, changing, and growing. 

We begin this process by awakening of our consciousness, stepping back from our 10,000 things and focusing on our reactions and their origin, starting our “work”.  The work is the hero’s (or heroine’s) journey through the accumulated detritus of our childhood and teenaged development, traumas, patterns of family dysfunction, incidents of neglect and abandonment, and our held feelings of sadness, fright, and deep anger.  All our negativity and disbelief is the result of human development.  It is up to you to sort through the refuse of your psyche, walk the junkyard of your life, and start to clean it up.

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Your awareness of pain and your manifold wounds is necessary for growth and healing.  You must slog through the sewers of lost loves and lost opportunities, of hopes and dreams unfulfilled, of your resentments and hatred and grandiosity and addictions, of death rattles and endings, and in the end, you must let them all go.  You must persevere in your work; sometimes it takes years to undo a single moment of past trauma.  You must feel it, confront it, accept it, and then release it to the Universe.  Your release must be like the release of breathing out stale air and waiting to inhale.  You must then turn away from your swamp of misunderstanding, arise from the your slumber, and move toward the light born of your growing awareness.

As we do the work, we are able turn to a newness of life and an ever-increasing awareness of our true self.  We allow ourselves to embrace the great values of humanity and recognize divinity in all people.  The promise of a new way of living will be fulfilled.  The old energies of chaos and tension will transform into guided purpose and steady passion for good. 

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Our awareness will turn away from the past so we live fully, present and alive, and allow our evolution and unfolding.  Our gold will come forth to manifest love, peace, and a steadfast presence borne from our soul.  Ultimately, our work is a seeking and questioning of the mind of God within us.

-- Pete


Monday, April 22, 2013

Serenity


"God,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference."
 -- Attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr

The soul seeks respite from the dissonance of our lives on this plane, from the mad dashing about, the ever-present anxiety we carry that destroys our bodies, and our constant striving for achievement, success, and obsession.  So it is that most addiction recovery programs use the Serenity Prayer as their mantra.  The prayer centers on awareness of our limitations, our presence in the moment, and our expansion, all at the same time.

It is right to strive to achieve some modicum of success in this life, however you define it.  However, most of us have a stirring deep within us that looks forward to stopping, resting, and taking a vacation from it all.  How we look forward to time away from the work-a-day world!  Some of us continue our frenetic pace during vacation; others simply sit and observe.  Some find their escape at a beach or lake, a spa, or the mountains, others at a quiet cafĂ© sipping a cappuccino.

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Enjoy those moments of calm peacefulness.  When you sit still, perhaps in meditation, contemplation, or prayer, your inner self can bring forth a wondrous serenity and awareness.  In this serene quietness of spirit, awareness grows, to the point where it can permeate every fiber of our being.  

-- Pete

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Reason


“Some people think only intellect counts: knowing how to solve problems, knowing how to get by, knowing how to identify an advantage and seize it.  But the functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion, and empathy.”
-- Dean Koontz

Reason holds many answers but not all the questions.  The intelligence of mind allows us to achieve success in this life.  It elevates us in our capabilities and expands possibilities in our lives if we exercise it.  However, intelligence cannot be the final authority in all the ways we live because we also have emotions that must be dealt with, parts of our psyche that are hidden from awareness, and internal promptings from what I call soul.  Our spirit has innate qualities that include wisdom, intuition, morality, and consciousness itself that exist in a realm far beyond logic, qualities that we must pay attention to so that we may become wholly human.

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The soul brings forth many traits that reason or emotion alone cannot.  We are complex beings, encompassing humanness and spirituality.  When we expand our awareness, we find a greater depth than we had imagined in a sense of connectedness with others, awe, courage, warmth of friendship, self-esteem, self-expression, creativity, compassion, and unconditional love.  We discover a sense of the greatness of the universe, a shining soul within us, and a greater power upon which we can rely.  These have their genesis in the soul as the reflection of God.

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It is not enough to simply reason your way through life, for then life would be barren.  We would miss the sparks of serendipity, inspiration, and creation.  The soul creates your meaning.  When you become aware of it and pay attention to its stirrings, your life becomes rich and fulfilling.  A sense of purpose emanates from within you.  The universe whispers its grand mysteries, and your soul listens in anticipation and excitement, seeking to grow and expand.

Reason is the way you make sense of these voices and place order into your world.  It allows you to manifest all that you are and all you want to be in the choices you make, the thoughts you think, and the life you create.  Reason is the conduit of your effect on others and your legacy.  It brings action that ripples outward to the earth and to the universe through you.

www.mindandspirit.org.uk
Use your reason as the way to make good choices and have good effect, but play it first against your inner self.  Ask the deeper questions and listen to your guides and your soul for direction.  Contemplate the mysteries first, seeking revelation and enlightenment, and then let your reason conduct you on your journey.

-- Pete

Friday, April 19, 2013

Questioning


"Asking the proper questions is the central action of transformation.  Questions are the key that causes the secret doors of the psyche to swing open."
-- Clarissa Pinkola Estes

It is in our questioning that awareness has its genesis.   Delving into the meaning of life sets the stage for our awakening.  In the curious task of asking profound questions, we stir from our slumber of forgetfulness and begin to understand who we are and why we are here.

Our questions awaken intuition, wisdom, and the guidance of our soul’s desire.  They drive us toward the existential, the nebulous, and the mysteries about us.  We turn within to the inner self, and without, to our guides and mentors, and, finally, to the essence of the universe for answers.  Our thirst is the thirst of humanity searching for the drenching rain of soul understanding that so often eludes us on this plane of existence.

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What questions might you ask?  Questioning the direction of your career, what foods you want to eat, what you should buy, how to raise your children, what church you might attend, all seem important in the moment.  You probably have a hundred questions running through your mind right now.  However, what about the most important questions, those that relate to your values, your spirituality, your relationships, how you show up in this life, and your eternity?  Perhaps you ignored these in the cacophony of your perpetual busyness, your victimhood, your anger, or your addictions.

Your soul whispers to you to ask the deeper questions, to look beyond this material world and the shallowness of your striving, to study the great writers, mystics, and philosophers for their questions and musings, and to create your own interrogations of the universe, of God, of your spirit within.  Ask your questions of your guides and consider carefully their responses.  Seek your gut feeling, your soul’s aspirations, and your enactment of life as you consider the alternatives.  Go deeper, so deep you become lost in the mysteries that churn within you.  Let your awareness grow of both the concrete and the nebulous as you pose and contemplate your questions.

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Most importantly, seek the mind of God, whatever your perception, concept or belief about God may be.  The Universe holds the answers!

-- Pete

Perfection


“I am perfectly imperfect, for I am human, and that is good.  I strive not for perfection, but for understanding and love.  I work toward spiritual progress, not perfection.  Our imperfection is what makes us perfect in our own ways and it's what makes us different and special from the others.”
-- Unknown

When I was a teenager, I prided myself on my perfectionism.  I did my homework as perfectly as possible.  I got an "A" in every subject.  In shop class (everyone took “trade” classes in those days), I built perfect birdhouses and such.  I achieved and carried my perfectionism into my workaholism that followed.  I put great pressure on myself.

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Truth be known, I was not so perfect!  I missed something in my education.  I missed an understanding of my humanness and that of others.  I judged most of my peers as less than I, and those who were stronger or had more stuff as better than I.  I was either a grandiose egocentric or a victim of my own envy and lacking.

We often become mired in either envy or pity for other people.  Our judgments about them and about ourselves create barriers to acceptance, connection, and intimacy.  We strut our stuff in egoism, wallow in self-pity, or flog through life without passion.  We escape our dilemma through excessive work, depression, or addiction.  We fail to deal with our own imperfections and we project our anger and sadness onto others. 

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During my recent journey toward awareness, I read the book “The Spirituality of Imperfection” by Ernest Kurtz.  This powerful volume helped me realize that our imperfections constitute our humanity.  It helped me accept my deficiencies and limitations as a human and heed the call to fulfill my soul’s longings.

As you work your way out of the torpor of your past, realize that all people are equal at some level, the soul level.  The material trappings of this world, the physical form we have taken on, and our position in society or career have little meaning at the soul level.  These things only serve to provide the lessons for our personal and spiritual growth.

Pay attention to your imperfections, but only to learn and grow from your new awareness, not to judge yourself.  Use them as a way of growing toward your soul’s imprint in all aspects of your living.  Exchange your judgments of others for openness, compassion, and unity.  Remember too, “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here”[1]… just as you are!

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Finally, I believe that perfection in this life is available only in our connection with God.  For it is the perfection of God’s spirit that makes our relationship with God perfect.  Your soul yearns for that union and the sense of perfect love and peace it can bring.  All imperfections fade in such light!

-- Pete


[1] Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, 1927.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Opening


“We often think that there is just one way to look at things - the way we always have.  In fact, there are an infinite number of ways to look at most everything.  An open mind allows for a multitude of perspectives from which to choose in any given moment.  That suppleness of mind allows for true choice, and opens us to a whole new realm of possibility.”
― Jeffrey R. Anderson, The Nature of Things - Navigating Everyday Life with Grace

Awareness requires opening.  Like the bud of a rose, its beauty is hidden until it opens and stretches its delicate petals to the sky.  Suddenly, its fragrance comes forth.  It becomes vulnerable to the vicissitudes of weather and random lovers who pluck it from its living.  It is willing to give.

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In like manner, you no longer need to remain closed, cloaking the stunning beauty of your soul in your running about, your ego, ambition, addictions, and your many obsessions that sate your life.  When you open your heart to others, becoming vulnerable and genuine, your awakening begins.  When you open your soul to the light, peace can stream forth.  Your awareness can grow that we all are one, that this life, your life, has purpose and meaning, and that serenity and joy are our natural soul-state of being. 

To begin, seek solitude and quiet, both in your world and in your mind.  Learn to meditate/pray, to seek quietly, to center your consciousness on the mysteries of life and the wonder of the universe.  Learn to breath for the first time.  Open your willingness so that you may learn and expand.  Let go of old concepts that no longer serve you and welcome a new awareness of your spirit and its journey.  Allow your new awareness to enter your living, all parts of it, all aspects, and all nuances of who you are.

www.anandamarga.org
Open the questions in your heart and seek the answers within you as well as outside of you.  In your opening, drink in the beauty of your unfolding.  Think about your mission and the values you wish to espouse but so long ago forgot.  Ponder what god you will honor, and live your life in the awareness of that god.  Open the vault of your imagination, intuition, and creativity.  Study the works of humanitarians and spiritual masters.  There are many to guide you!

-- Pete

Post Script:  After rereading this entry several times, I was surprised at its exhortative nature.  After thinking about it, I realized this was a plea from my inner self that I must heed.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Nebulae


“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
― Carl Sagan, Cosmos


Mankind looks into the sky, as he always has, and puzzles over the immensity, complexity, and mysteries of the universe.  He wonders about what he sees, delves into it with telescopes and sensors, bringing unfathomable images into the clearing of his mind, and he makes up his stories of gods, matter and anti-matter, energy fields beyond comprehension, and measurements that awe him yet allow him to put our universe into a 15 billion year old box.  He has put god in a box and named it the Higg’s boson.

When I look at images of the universe, I see the eye of God: 
The fingers of God:

 Man reaching for God's light:

 The countless points of light in a single galaxy: 
The mystery of the "soul nebula": 

And I come to understand there is, for lack of a better phrase, a Higher Power.

This is all I know: There is a God, and it is not I.  Like the universe, God is everywhere inherent in all.  Like the Higg’s field, God is the essence of all.  All forms of energy, all forms of matter, all thought, indeed consciousness itself, encompass God's presence.  Just as those who believe in the Gaia principle, that earth is a living, conscious organism, so I believe this of the universe.

Call it blind faith, or magic, or the wild scratchings of my paltry mind.  Perhaps it represents insight into the infinite.  At any rate, it helps me live my life in peace and love.  And isn’t that what we all want, at our core, at the center of our being?

When you take time to become quiet, go to a place where you can see the Milky Way, our galaxy.  Look up on a clear night, and take a few minutes to tap the awe in your being and the wonder you once felt as a child.  It would take 100 million years to travel across this galaxy played across the heavens.  Yet, beyond that are so many more testaments to the power of which I write.

Get a book or consult the Internet for images of the stars, galaxies, black holes, and nebulae.  Meditate on the incredible greatness of it all.  Ask the questions mankind has asked from the beginning.  Then ask the questions that pinpoint our existence on this insignificant spec of magma:  Who am I?  Why am I here?

Listen in solitude and awe as you gaze into the heart of God and become aware...

 -- Pete

Monday, April 15, 2013

Letting Go


“Letting go doesn’t mean we don’t care.  Letting go doesn’t mean we shut down.  Letting go means we stop trying to force outcomes and make people behave.  It means we give up resistance to the way things are for the moment.  It means we stop trying to do the impossible–controlling that which we cannot–and instead, focus on what is possible–which usually means taking care of ourselves.  And
we do this in gentleness, kindness, and love, as much as possible.”
— Melody Beattie

Our development as a human is a letting go, from the moment of birth to the ending of the ending of our physical life.  Unfortunately, we spend our live accumulating things, as well as patterns of living and traumas that are useless and even damaging.  We tend to be neurotic as humans, and we accumulate resentments, fears, and unhappiness.  We easily become lost in obsessions and addictions, all of which seem beyond our ability to control. 

Control is elusive.  When you grasp and hold on to something, instead of letting go, you set yourself up for anger, sadness, anxiety, or shame.  If you let go, you open the gates for awakening from this life’s slumber and your private purgatory.

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It is paramount to let go of the detritus you have become accustomed to in your life - your accumulated dysfunctions, your traumas, and your striving to be what you are not.  The very core of your being cries out, asking you to open your willingness and acceptance of not only what befalls you here, but also what has been with you since the beginning.  Your growing awareness brings with it a recognition that our brief life here is not all that exists, that there are mysteries we cannot comprehend that constitute the absolute reality of who we are – a living spirit with a purpose for living and a desire to emanate love.  But first, we have to let go of the garbage!

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Seek these unseen and uncharted depths of your self, let go of the dross and refuse in your life, and renew a loving connection with God, others, and all that is.

-- Pete

Mission



“Has your soul a special mission?  Yes.  Your mission is in the inmost recesses of your heart, and you have to find and fulfill it there.  There can be no external way for you to fulfill your mission.  The deer grows musk in his own body.  He smells it and becomes enchanted, and tries to locate its source.  He runs and runs, but he cannot find the source.  In his endless search, he loses all his energy and finally he dies.  But the source he was so desperately searching for was within himself.  How could he find it elsewhere?  Such is the case with you.  Your special mission, which is the fulfillment of your divinity, is not outside you, but within you.  Search within.  Meditate within.  You will discover your mission.”
-- Sri Chinmoy, Yoga and the Spiritual Life: The Journey of India's Soul

The meaning we attach to our lives is the driving force of our actions, contribution, and personal growth.  It motivates us and expresses itself in our thinking and activities.  Lack of meaning leads to drifting through life, blaming our ennui and misfortune on some nebulous fate, god, another person, or an ideology.  Perhaps we blame ourselves.

You need a mission, something that leads you to your soul’s desire in this life.  It is what gets you up in the morning with joy, purpose, eagerness, and energy.  It can form the theme for your life.  It has steps and processes that lead to progress along its way.  However, you may never fully accomplish your mission.  It is the journey in mission that counts.

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I believe a mission must be grounded in unconditional love and the positive enactment of attitudes and behavior.  It must be based upon values, ethics, morality, and purpose.  It should reflect an expression of positive humanity and spirituality in this life. 

Mission is grounded in wisdom.  It edifies your life and the lives of others.  Care is necessary in selecting a mission.  Sometimes it is obvious: “ My mission is to nurture and raise my children to become honest and productive members of society.”  However, we often need guidance to fathom the needs of our soul and psyche.  My experiences in two programs (Pathways Life Management Program and The Mankind Project) helped me form a mission that challenges me to live my life fully: “I create a perfect world of peace by speaking, writing, teaching, and being peace.”  That is a huge mission!  However, the good news it that it forms meaning in my life daily as I write this blog, communicate with people, spread love when I can, and enjoy the gift of this life.

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A mission is not unchangeable.  For example, after your children grow up, you can switch to a different mission, perhaps: “My mission is to help others less fortunate than I by volunteering in my community and church.”  Your mission can morph as your personal growth evolves.  For example, as I age, my mission is taking on the form of a legacy to my family, friends, and others.

Every person deserves to develop an overall mission that will motivate and give meaning to his or her life and fuel his human and spiritual growth!

-- Pete


Friday, April 12, 2013

Knowing


“Know that everything is in perfect order whether you understand it or not.”
― Valery Satterwhite

Becoming aware is akin to knowing sureness.  It requires openness, vulnerability, and presence in our living.  It asks us not to close off in our judgments and preconceived ideas and concepts, but to look deeper and farther into our souls than ever we have.  It calls us to a lifelong commitment to discerning our soul’s purpose through intuition, wisdom, and rational thinking.

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Knowing is a remembering of ancient archetypes combined with present moment occurrences, which bring the gift of perception beyond this material existence.  It encompasses reality, as we understand it, and faith in the mysteries we cannot fathom.  Knowing grows as a bedrock presence rooted in God and blossoms as the tree of life in our spirits.  It manifests as faith, tolerance for others and their ideas, and a belief that, indeed, the universe is evolving as it should.  We are evolving, and our journey in life can lead us to heaven, however we experience it here and in our life after physical death.

When you know, there is an outpouring of compassion and unconditional love, a deeper connection with all others and all that life brings your way.  When you meet a person like this, you sense a power beyond simple cognition.  When you meet a Buddha in the road, you encounter God’s presence.  When you touch life’s true meaning, you become alive, awake and aware, and your knowing transcends even faith.

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Make knowing your handmaiden for a better life.  Hide not from the truths that confront you, that dance around the perimeters of your mind and your heart.  Use your discernment to find what is useful and edifying to your soul.

When you become aware, greet each other with love and connection to the divinity within.  Look the other in the eyes and feast on the Spirit within them and within your Self.  The eastern cultures have a word for this connection and deep recognition: NamastĂ© - the Divine in me honors and blesses the Divine in you!  This is a knowing of the soul.


Knowing results from our journey within to awareness.  Knowing transcends living on this plane of existence.  It brings peace, a serenity and tranquility, a sureness of being.  It allows love to become our watchword here and our salvation at the end of this life.  It is the gift of transformation, enlightenment, and transcending.

-- Pete