Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stop Trying to Shine Your Light!

I no longer try to shine my light. I try, rather, to allow my light to shine. It’s a small difference grammatically, but a HUGE difference spiritually.
I love the image of light as an analogy for spiritual truth, love, transformation and compassion. Virtually every religious tradition – from Pagan Nature Worship to Buddhism, to Hinduism, to Zoroastrianism, to Judaism, to Christianity – use the concept of light in this way.
I am to let my light shine and not cover it with a basket. Jesus was called the Light of the world. Chanukah is the Festival of Light. Buddhists refer to one’s Inner Light as the source of spiritual Truth.
People often will say I am so small and insignificant that my light cannot make a difference. Yet, if you and others were to be inside a darkened building and could not find the exit door, just the smallest match would provide enough light to allow all of you to escape. This example reminds me of the children’s ditty “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine….”
One of my favorite visual examples is that of a lighthouse. It shines its rotating spotlight out into the inky darkness of night. It does not care if ships at sea look for it or heed its recurring beam. It simply shines. That is its purpose. It’s not the fault of the lighthouse if a ship ignores its beam and founders in the shallows. The lighthouse does not get into a snit (like I seem to do), pick up its skirts and relocate itself to another cove where it believes it will be appropriately appreciated. It just – night after night – shines its light.
That is what I am to do. As small, as flickering, as apparently inconsequential as my little beam of light may be, I am simply to shine my light and let Spirit do the rest. As I learned in AA: “Live as best you can today; don’t drink today; go to a meeting and share today; work the Steps today; pray today; and the rest of your life is none of your business.”
If someone doesn’t appreciate my honesty, as I share of myself, that is not my concern. If someone refuses to subscribe to my messages, that is not my concern. If someone decides to unsubscribe, that is not my concern. If no one seems to be interested, that is not my concern. Just shine, baby, shine – and the rest of my life is none of my business.
In fact, that is, literally, what I used to say. “All I want to do is to shine my light.”
Then, one evening in Tennessee, a respected friend gently admonished me. “Don, quit saying that you’re trying to shine your light. Continue saying that and soon it will become a ‘task’ your Ego grabs a hold of. The Course [in Miracles] tells us our light is already there. Inside. Our job is to strip away the personal gunk that is covering it up – fear, judgment, anger, analyzing, mind-wandering, frustration, attachments. As we remove this dark ego-gunk, we simply will be uncovering the light that is already there – and has always been there.”
A Course in Miracles (ACIM) says, “The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief in yourself. Your other life [spirit] has continued without interruption, and has been and always will be totally unaffected by your attempts to dissociate it.” (Text: 4,VI,1,6-7)
So I no longer try to shine my light. I ALLOW my light to shine.
To “try to shine my light,” requires the verb “try” and the adjective “my.” This has always been my downfall. Since I am the one TRYing – it becomes an activity of MY will and resolve. It quickly becomes a job, an objective, a goal. Since light-shining now is MY mission, MY progress can be tracked, improved on, clarified, and made better. These are all the symptoms of MY ego-based efforts to be good, relevant and spiritual. And, brother, you had better notice and applaud! or I’ll take my marbles and go home.
Whenever I find myself using the tools I’ve developed (the same tools you’ve developed) to protect me from my perceived world, then I know I’m in a state of fear. “What tools?” you ask. Tools like rationalizing, being on the defensive, minimalizing, justifying, projecting, general dis-believing – to name only a few. When I use these tools I will always feel like a victim or a potential victim or a victor. In any of these cases it means I am reacting to my perceived world as if it’s some sort of bad, evil, dangerous place I need to conquer or overcome.
That’s a bad place for me to be. It separates me from you. It covers my light. It is the most serious symptom I detect that reminds me I have slipped, once again, into the frame of mind that allows me to believe I am my body and must do “godly” things to save my soul (which resides somewhere inside me). 
When I remember I am an already-loved spirit currently having a human experience, then I can begin to deal with much of my ego-centric attitude. Essentially, it keeps my focus on the spiritual truth that everything is always an “inside” job.
Now, I try not to shine my light. I try to allow my light to shine. I realize it’s a small grammatical difference. But, I believe it’s a whopping BIG spiritual difference.
Thanks for listening. Please share this by forwarding it to friends and family.
#4 February, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Separateness Is So Very Important To My Ego-Mind

My mind is often like a dog at a beach – digging and digging to uncover negative thoughts, feelings and fears, and then rehearse ugly scenarios, or rehash old problems.
Recently I read the following message from a site I subscribe to. It’s a collection of sayings with a brief commentary on AA’s spiritual wisdom. It’s called “Wisdom of the Rooms” and is posted by Michael Z.  Like my posts, it is free. [Want to subscribe, as well? Visit:]
"If only my mind would leave me alone," I often think. I have what I call a "digging mind." Like a dog at the beach, it digs and digs and digs in a problem, a worry, or in some other imagined potential problem area or scenario often without my approval or awareness. It loves to uncover negative thoughts, feelings and fears, and then rehearse ugly scenarios, or rehash old problems.
“My digging mind is not only relentless, but it is consistently negative as well. I never find it digging in a positive or hopeful place…. No, driven by a hundred forms of self-centered fear, it searches the beaches of disappointment and failure, and digs away.
“R&R always meant physical relaxation to me. It wasn't until I heard this saying that I thought to give my digging mind a break as well. In fact, before this saying I didn't realize how active my mind stayed when I did try to rest and relax. Today I realize the importance of reigning in my digging mind and allowing (sometimes forcing) it to rest and relax as well. Giving myself a break - a total break - provides me with the renewal and space I need to let the love and light of my Higher Power in. Today, I've learned how to truly rest and relax.
“R&R stands for rest and relaxation not rehearse and rehash!”
The single thought that struck me right between my eyes was the comment “…it is consistently negative…” That is a right-on description of my monkey mind, which I often refer to as the shitty committee that lives in the universe between my ears. It is absolutely and dependably negative. It blames, shames, wonders “why me?” finds fault, sees the glass half empty, reignites my fears of scarcity and lack, reinforces my belief that I am (and will continue to be) somehow “less than.”
Rationally, I know all my negative issues have nothing to do with actual reality – it is always an inside job. It is simply my perception. It is my attitude. It is my outlook. It is my propensity to be fearful and anxious. It is my constant tendency to look outside myself for the source of my problems or the source of my solutions.
When I stop to think, it is actually really arrogant. It is arrogant to believe that my perception harbors the real truth of the universe. It is arrogant for me to believe my perception of what the Bible (or any sacred writing) is really saying is the only correct one. It is arrogant to believe I truly know what is best for me – the guy who believed I had to have alcohol in my system 24-hours-a-day to feel normal and never, EVER, considered this to be abnormal.
I heard an Evangelical preacher on YouTube describe, in light of Jesus’ instruction to forgive someone 70 times 7, that “…Well Jesus lived 2,000 years ago and He didn’t know about Muslims and terrorists.” The preacher was really saying, “I cannot fathom forgiving a Muslim or Terrorist. Therefore, neither can God.” That’s absolute arrogance. Yet, I do it all the time. So do you. Just not in such a dramatic fashion.
My ego-mind has to constantly convince me that my perception of reality is accurate – and certainly more accurate than yours. It accomplishes this by reinforcing its belief in my separateness. It is always telling me, in thousands of different ways, that I am really a body – 5’-8” – and nicknamed “bird legs” when in high school. Somewhere in this body is my soul or spirit. It will continue to live on after my body dies. My soul or spirit will then go on to live forever in Heaven or Hell. Implicit in all this is the constant message: “Don, you are your body; it has a soul; All others are in ‘different’ bodies with ‘different’ souls.”
If my ego-mind can convince me that all my issues are “out there” somewhere, then I will remain separate from you and everyone else. The “everyone else” includes God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus the Christ, and spirit guides or angels. They, too, are separate from me. Yes, I believe they love me, but they are somebody else. They are somewhere I am not. They are in a form I am not. They are not here unconditionally. They are here with me only if I acknowledge them, believe certain things about them, say certain things, profess certain things. If I don’t, they’re outta here and I am toast.
I pray and sometimes it seems to work and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t my first thought is “what did I do wrong? Why aren’t they listening to me now?”
As I’ve said before in these messages, when I concentrate on training my mind to understand it’s an inside job, to think of me – not as a body – but as an already-loved eternal spirit simply having a human experience, then I can connect with you. Then, I know you are also an already-loved eternal spirit simply having your human experience. My already-loved eternal spirit, your already-loved eternal spirit, and the Holy Spirit are truly as one. Just as we are.
I am already loved. I make mistakes rather than commit sins. I am guided rather than being saved. Just as I am, I am as God intended, although I get in my own way, which prevents me from fully living what God intended. I am still loved. I am still guided by the whispers of the Holy Spirit. I just need to quiet my mind – stop digging at the beach – so I can hear (and heed!) Spirit’s message for me now.
Thanks for listening and, as always, please forward this message to your friends and family.
#3 February, 2012  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Disgusting Use of Fear

We all have fears. I certainly do. Understanding my fears and learning how to relegate them to their proper place is a principle focus (among others) of my spiritual journey. However, I believe it is immoral, crass and disgusting to “milk” or exploit someone’s fears in order to achieve a personal advantage.
According to everything I’ve recently read, we are in for a very dirty, very mean-spirited, very fear-inducing presidential campaign. Both camps are gearing up to scare the beejezus out of us.
Republicans would have us believe that America is going to Hell in a hand-basket unless we elect more of them and try to turn back the clock to a non-existent simpler time. Democrats would have us believe that unless we donate to them (so they can run fear inducing Republican-style ads to win more Democrats), the US will revert to a 19th Century Dickins-style of unbridled capitalism depicted in Oliver Twist.
I’m going to focus on the Republicans because they are in the spotlight right now.
The following quote is from an interesting article entitled: Are Conservatives More Fearful Than Liberals? (By Emily Badger,, Posted on February 5, 2012, Printed on February 6, 2012

“The tone of this year’s Republican presidential primary (which now seems destined to last much longer than Mitt Romney had been planning) seems sort of, well, fearful. One after the other, these would-be presidents have warned of looming threats — war with Iran, economic collapse, class warfare, social disintegration, illegal immigration — and have sought to position themselves as the best candidate for the job of protecting America.
“Their political advisers must understand a psychological phenomenon that researchers have been studying for some time now: conservatives appear to be motivated by fear in a way that liberals are not. An expanding body of research suggests that Republicans and Democrats differ on some fundamental level in how they respond to positive and negative stimuli. A new study, published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, adds even more evidence to the theory that these two groups quite literally see the world differently.”
To spot this kind of fear mongering, all I have to do is look at the boogey-man-under-the-bed words that are used to frighten me: Socialist; Muslim; Unpatriotic; Non-Christian; Pacifying; Unbiblical. When I see or hear these kinds of words, I am reminded of the story of an old country preacher who had died. He was very well-known throughout a 7-State region, often invited to preach at revivals and speak at conventions. His children were looking through his handwritten sermons thinking maybe they could get them published. Many of his sermons had marginal notations and the most curious, repetitive notation they saw was: “Very, very weak point. Be sure to shout!”
The relevance of the marginal message in the preacher’s sermons? If you have little to say, then focus on invigorating the perceived fears of your audience. Once you have your audience scared witless, then hope to high Heaven they don’t actually begin to really think about what you’ve glossed over.
For example, after the State of the Union speech, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels delivered the Republican rebuttal. During his speech he referred to Steve Jobs (Apple’s late CEO) as creating more jobs than the Stimulus package, which was begun by Bush and continued by Obama (although Daniels forgot about the Bush part). It was a very misleading statement. It all depends on what considerations are chosen to be considered in calculating the numbers. He went on to say, however, Apple had created over 700,000 jobs. True. Then he stopped. What he didn’t say was that only about 62,000 of those jobs were created in the USA. Well over 600,000 were created overseas, primarily in China. Please note: my numbers may be a little off – I’m writing from memory.
Politicians of all persuasions want to give some accurate facts, some misleading, tangential information, and lead us in a way that we arrive at an erroneous conclusion. This way they can say they didn’t lie to us – we simply misunderstood.
The Republicans are making all these accusations about socialism, venerating capitalism in all its forms, painting every Muslim as a terrorist, marginalizing Hispanics, decrying the death of a potential baby via abortion, while cheering mass bombings and executions and booing references to Jesus’ 2nd Commandment – the Golden Rule. What they don’t say is how this is any different from the Republican platform under 8 years of Bush II – a period that led us to the most devastating economic meltdown since the Depression. They seem to be implying that the same policies that broke the system 4 years ago will now fix the system. But they won’t address that. They know it’s a weak point – so they shout! Their shouting aims to demonize Obama enough that we’ll be so frightened we’ll vote for anyone but him – without really thinking.
I don’t buy it. Neither should you.
As I said earlier, I’m not just picking on the Republicans. It’s just that they have the main stage now. Later, as the General Election heats up, I’m convinced we’ll see similar rhetoric from the Democrats. Both parties will be counting on the fact that we will be so scared we will not notice what they’ve glossed over.
I think the point I’m trying to make in this message is to be aware and to be careful. I do believe the Conservative side of the election equation will be more blatant in the use of fear-mongering. They’ve gotten very good and effective at it. For conservatives their politics have become meshed with their religious beliefs – good conservative republicanism is virtually indistinct from Christian morals. The danger in this is that religious fervor opens the door to a policy of “the end justifies the means.” For example, in Tennessee the conservatives want to return to the Constitution so badly they have passed State laws (to prevent voter fraud, which has been demonstrated to occur about 0.01% of the time) to restrict voting rights, which violate the Constitution.
But, rest assured, this is not just a Republican issue. Both sides will use it. Be alert.
I have my own political persuasions, as do you, and I’m not here to debate these. I am aware that my attachment to my political beliefs – I am right. If only everyone else could be convinced of my view, the world would be a better place – only gives tremendous power to the world I perceive – the world of my Ego; the world of Fear and Judgment. This reinforces my ego-belief that I am a human being who has a soul, rather than the Truth: I am an already loved eternal spirit, currently having a human experience.
I will vote, as I hope you do, but I will try my best not to vote based solely on my fears or my attachment to the universe I’ve created between my ears. This is not easy and my answers for me will not be your answers for you. As we watch the election process unfold, it’ll be tough to decide what it means for us to be IN the world without being OF the world. [It’s always okay to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance – then still your mind so you can listen for His whispers]
Thanks for listening, as always. Please share this message with your friends or family.
#2 February 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Damnation of Unconnectedness

I think the more "sophisticated" we've become, the more stupid we act - the dumber we've gotten. 
The following quote is from the novel The Dreaming by Barbara Wood, Random House, Inc., New York, 1991, Pages 36, 42.  [After seeing some Aborigines disappear off the road, Joanna, new to Australia, asked Hugh where they were going. He answered,] “’I’ve heard that this road used to be what they called a songline. Maybe that’s why we ran into them here.’
“’A songline?’
“’I’m not sure I can explain it to you,’ he said. ‘Songlines are part of the Aborigines’ sacred lore, their beliefs. It’s taboo for them to speak about sacred things, especially to a white man, and so there is little we know about them. But as near as I can determine, songlines are like invisible tracks. They mark the routes the Aborigine ancestors walked, thousands of years ago, and on up until fairly recently – thirty five years ago anyway [the novel is set in the late 19th Century], even less in some parts. Songlines are sort of invisible roads, crisscrossing the continent. Apparently way back the ancestors walked all over Australia, and as they walked they sang out the names of everything they encountered. They believed they were singing the world into existence. The Aborigines believe that song is existence – to sing is to live.  And that is why, too, to the Aborigines, everything in nature is sacred – rocks, trees, waterholes.’ (p. 36)
“’…The Aborigines believe the dead are always with us. They go back to the Dreaming, but they are still with us.’
“’The Dreaming?'
“Hugh picked up a stick and stirred the embers. ‘It’s a concept white men have little understanding of, including myself…. As nearly as I can judge, the Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, is what the Aborigines call the distant past, when the first people walked the earth and sang everything into creation. Their spirituality is very earthbound. From the earth we come, by the earth we are sustained, and when we die, to the earth we return. To wound the earth is to wound ourselves. That’s why the Aborigines never developed farming or mining or anything that altered the environment in any way. They were not just part of nature, they were nature.’” (p. 42)
In an earlier message, “The Unity of Life,” December 4, 2011, I wrote: “Not too long ago I was out cleaning up the wet-weather creek that flows… through our property…. I was cleaning out sticks, wild water grasses and weeds. As I would pull up a clump of vegetation, the roots, all mired in creek muck, contained all sorts of bugs, beetles, and other tiny critters. Each clump of muck was its own little universe. It was a remarkable moment, as I tried to imagine life in that clump of muck from the perspective of the inhabitants.
In a short while I knew the muck would dry, the critters would either die or scatter, and the water vegetation would die. One day the creek muck is alive as its own little world and the next it is apparently dead. What happened? What's missing? What the heck is Life, anyway?
… Indigenous cultures have had an intrinsic reverence for this thing called Life. Attributed to their Great Spirit, Life was Life – whether in stones, deer, themselves, frogs, birds, plants, rain, or snow. Life was a mystery and was revered. Not some of life was revered some of the time. All life all the time. There was no hierarchy in Life. Human life was not more valuable than animal or plant life. Life was Life. It was a mystery. It was honored…. They had no more right to be alive than a stone or a maize (corn) plant. This was not an intellectual deduction from repeated observations. This was embedded in their hunting, defending, family life, crafting, ceremonies. In short, it was their culture; it was who they were. They were at one with their world. Just a piece. Not superior. Not a user. Simply an interactive part of the whole system of Life…. They were not above the environment; they were not users of the environment; they were an integral part of the environment.”
Just like the Aborigines.
I think the more “sophisticated” we have become as a civilization, the more separated we have become from nature. The more separated from nature, the more separated from our true Selves. The more separated from our Selves, the more we see people as simply tools and resources to be used – just like we see our environment as something to use.
On NPR recently my wife and I heard a story of a woman who was transforming vacant lots in Detroit into small vegetable or herb gardens – growing native Michigan plants and herbs. She’s involving whole neighborhoods in the growing and care of these small fresh food sources. The local residents are loving it!
She told of how a wee tot asked her, “Can we plant the trees that grow pizza?”
In some ways it’s a cute statement of childlike innocence. In other ways it’s a serious damnation of our society’s total irreverence and lack of connection to the natural world of which we are very much a part.
The more intelligent we have become the dumber we have gotten. We have come to believe we are bigger than Mother Nature. We treat the environment as an unlimited reserve of materials just lying around,  ripe for the picking. Unfortunately, that disconnected view of our Earth and its resources has led us to treat people the same way – raw material to be used and abused. People are now simply renters, day laborers, consumers, a steady stream of patients, congregants, vote totals, cashiers, or ignorant drivers.
I personally like the spiritual world-view of the Aborigines better. It’s more intelligent. It’s healthier. I am more spiritual when I am connected to the Earth.
Thanks for listening and, as always, you may forward this to those whom you believe might find this discussion stimulating.
#1 February, 2012