Sunday, June 24, 2012

Part 2 - I Am Not What I Think Nor What I Feel

Continued from Part 1 - I Am Not What I Think Nor What I Feel 
I have said many, many times in these messages I am not a human being in a body that somewhere has a soul or spirit. I am an already-loved eternal spirit currently having a human experience. When my car (my body) finally craps out, I’ll go “back home” and get a different one.
When I share openly and honestly, I share all of me: My ideas; my feelings; my inner knowledge, and my behaviors or actions. At times these are at odds with each other. At other times they are in sync. At times I contradict myself. At times I am pretty much a unified whole. I can be clear on some issues some of the time. I can be befuddled and inconsistent on those same issues at other times.
What I don’t do is tell people I’m right (implying they’re wrong). If I do think I’m right, I always say “This seems right for me.” If I find myself trying to “edit” my voice, it is exactly that. It’s my voice, my opinion, my observation, my perception of reality. I remember the true (for me) adage: un-asked-for advice or opinion is generally received as criticism. So, I don’t offer advice or opinion unless I ask if the hearer wants it. Most of the time, after recognizing I’m trying to “edit” my voice, I remember what ACIM admonishes: “Often, you need say nothing. You need do nothing.” If I say anything at all, I share of my experience. Period. What hearers want to take from that is up to them.
Gentle, open honesty. Walking the Talk – gently, compassionately, honestly – understanding there is not much difference between so-and-so’s concerns, fears, dreams, goals, and desires and mine. That’s how I try to be honest.
There is a term created by Apple Computer way back when they issued their first Macintosh – the little tower (eventually becoming Apples’ Classic computer) with the very small, but brilliantly clear screen. Its software sent to the printer what the user saw on the screen. The term was WYSIWYG – pronounced wizziwig. The acronym stands for What You See Is What You Get. In the mid-1980s it was a revolutionary breakthrough (as was the mouse, common terms for computer commands, and drop-down menus – all Apple innovations).
But, for me, to be honest and share of myself (not simply my ideas or thoughts or feelings) is to share all of me in terms of WYSIWYG. Walking the Talk. Sharing my similar experience. Sometimes, I only manage Limping the Talk or Thinking about the Talk while walking or Totally forgetting the Talk. All of this is who I am. I also try, however, very hard to avoid simply Talking the Talk. When I Talk the Talk, I am hiding me. That does neither of us any good. In fact it is very damaging for me. I have found, as well, that AA’s guidance to me is very true: I am as sick as my secrets.
I don’t want to be sick anymore. So, in gentle honestly, I share who I am in terms of my experience or I say nothing at all.
Thanks for listening. As always, feel free to share this message with your friends, family, and those with whom you are walking your spiritual path.
#4 June, 2012
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Part 1 - I Am Not What I Think Nor What I Feel

Do you have to be a steamroller or a Sherman tank to be really honest?
Following last week’s message, “Are Being Right, Being Happy, And Being Involved All In Conflict With Each Other?” [Msg-3-June-2012], I received a question from another subscriber: “You said you share of yourself honestly. I do not think you were talking about debating ideas or explaining certain concepts. Am I correct? If so, what do you mean by being honest?”
You are correct. I am not talking about sharing cerebral ideas or concepts. What do I mean by being completely honest? Good question!
I have known many people, especially in work situations, that seemingly are not very happy and content. They appear to be very angry, frustrated, wanting to get ahead, or fearful of being at fault. They use a Neanderthal’s club, beating anyone and everyone over the head, all under the auspices of “I’m just being honest – after all tough love can be painful at times.” That’s baloney! To be honest doesn’t mean I have to be as tactless or forceful as a Sherman tank. There is no “rule” that says you cannot be honest with gentleness or respect. Honesty with gentleness is getting a little closer to what I mean by honesty, but it still is in the realm of sharing ideas and concepts. It is an incomplete description of honesty.
The real answer? It is very close to the meaning of what AA calls “Walking the Talk.”
It has taken me a long time to learn that I am not what I think. I am also sure that this learning process will continue until I am no longer in my body. I am not what I think. But if I’m not what I think, then who am I?
Also, I am not what I feel. Feelings aren’t reality. They are not things. They are simply feelings. I am learning to pay attention to my feelings, not as some sort of “Truth,” but as a clue. To use an analogy, if my body is a car and “I” am the owner/driver, then my feelings are dashboard indicators. Am I running too hot? Too low on gas? Are the tires inflated properly? Is the battery being charged okay?  Am I speeding?
My feelings can be a clue that my body needs some food, water, rest, or quiet. My feelings also can be a clue that my ego perception of the world has completely taken over my life at this instant. Am I angry, frustrated, aggravated, retaliatory, judgmental, or critical? That’s not the external stimulus at fault. That’s only my perception of that stimulus. Since my body cannot distinguish between actual or neutral events, my perception of those events, or some other total fantasy I concoct, it reacts equally to everything I think, perceive, and feel. I can drive my body into the ground if I don’t watch out. Trust me, it has happened many times. So, I am not what I feel. But if I’m not what I feel, then who am I?
Continued in Part 2 - I Am Not What I Think Nor What I Feel
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Are Being Right, Being Happy, And Being Involved All In Conflict With Each Other?, Part 2

Continued from Part 1 
What are we to do when it appears that being right, being happy and being involved all seem to be in conflict? Part 2
It seems to me that my issue is about ownership or attachment, as friends at my ACIM meeting continually point out. When my judgment becomes clouded and confused or I find myself angry or frustrated, it’s generally because I am really attached to my perceived rightness or correctness of my personal position – my story; my “superior” experience; my truth; my intellectual beliefs. If I can forgive myself for my attachment to my story or idea, then I can continue to love others even as they seemingly ignore what I’ve shared.
But I do NOT stop sharing myself – honestly and completely!
Jesus ministered to human needs – hunger, sickness, impairment, poverty – because He loved, He cared, and He could. He ministered without judgment or expectations. He shared of Himself and it transformed those whom He touched (figuratively and literally).
Before getting frustrated, angry, or irritated – all signs to me of attachment and ego – I try desperately to stop and:
  • ·      Still my mind! (By this I do not try to stop the incessant monkey chatter within the universe that exists between my ears. I simply try to focus elsewhere as the chatter continues).
  • ·      Forgive me, my perceptions, and the behaviors or characteristics my perceptions have placed on others.
  • ·      Ask the Holy Spirit to provide me another way of looking at the situation – seeing the other as an extension of myself.

So, the line-in-the-sand I draw generally includes teaching. It certainly includes sharing myself. Hence, these messages. It includes accepting responsibility for my self and for those for whom I am responsible – e.g., students, those in a relationship I share, children, good citizenship, reducing my carbon footprint, being part of my environment not simply a user of Mother Gaia.
But my expectations, my own upbringing that laid the foundation of my sense of duty and justice and fairness, and my anticipations can get in my way. I need always to be aware of that. As I concluded last week’s message: “I don’t have to change someone. I don’t have to change things or events. I just have to keep my focus on me and my thoughts. That’s my perceived reality. If I am open, honest and willing, the Holy Spirit will change my perceptions. I can live with that.”
As always, thanks for listening and feel free to share this message with your friends, family, and those with whom you are walking your spiritual path.
#3 June, 2012

Are Being Right, Being Happy, And Being Involved All In Conflict With Each Other?

What are we to do when it appears that being right, being happy and being involved all seem to be in conflict? Part 1
Following last week’s message, “I Don’t Have To Be Right To Be At Peace” [Msg-2-June-2012] I received a pertinent question from a good friend and subscriber. She had been teaching a group of spiritualists for over 3 hours. In an email to me, she asks (and I quote):  “After a very successful 3 hours of teaching I was moved to talk about charlatans in the metaphysical field and how so many are seeking, even as Creflo Dollar [Note: An Evangelical minister who preaches that God’s salvation can be quantified as monetary success] has decided, and is teaching that we are Spiritual Beings having a human experience. I referenced Jim Jones and the kool-aid in his back pocket. I got shouted down that we are all one and if someone gets "taken or mislead" it is part of their path. I thought about that and just can't come to terms that we have no responsibility or due diligence … to warn and give signs to watch for….  We don't tell our children to cross the street without first teaching them to watch for traffic, or not to put their hand on a hot burner without educating them about hot burners. 
“…. Those experiences simply leave me wondering about the rose colored glasses and the ideal world that some are able to create for themselves.”
I have written before in these messages that there is always a conflict within me about the idea that … “We are to be IN this world without being OF this world.” Where I draw the line-in-the-sand between the two is not a once-and-it’s-done event. My line between being in, not of, this world can shift by the hour – depending on the situation, the event, and the people (including me). My perceptions shift that suddenly. I’m sure yours do, too.
I don’t, however, want to try to explain the inner intentions/beliefs of those described by the emailer as wearing “rose colored glasses” or having some “ideal” world they imagine.
The spectrum from being IN the world to being OF the world stretches from the Hindu purist who can watch a baby drown because it is the baby’s Karma, all the way to meddlesome religionists who are trying to control and regiment everyone’s life, because they are convinced they are doing what they perceive is the Will of God.
Most of us are in the muddling middle between these two extremes.
I have learned a very critical spiritual truth getting sober in AA: I share myself and the positive changes that take place in me as I work AA’s Twelve Step Program, understanding that:
  • ·      Some listeners will objectify or intellectualize my message without seeing my humanity existing in their own life.
  • ·      Some will take my lessons to their hearts.
  • ·      Some will be too busy convincing themselves that what’s happened to me is totally irrelevant to them.

That’s the decision of the listener. Regardless of the listeners’ responses, I do NOT NOT share myself – honestly and completely!
Continued in Part 2

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I Don’t Have To Be Right To Be At Peace! (Part 2)

Part 2 of 2 - Continued from Part 1
This is exactly where my ego creeps in to make my ACIM meeting its own – to make me its own. Of course others can feel the same feelings I was feeling. They feel them every Sunday in their congregations, synagogues, or mosques. They feel them out in the woods hunting or creek-side fishing. They feel these feelings with family all around or in their private times with only themselves for company.
My own beliefs in ACIM or in the Twelve Steps and Principles of AA can get very twisted very quickly into the “I’m right, you’re wrong (or at least you’re incomplete)” syndrome. Those whose religious beliefs rely on a fear-based theology, a vengeful Old Testament God, and a cherished conviction that they are right and everyone else is wrong can feel the way I was feeling. Those whose political beliefs provide them with a sense of purpose and meaning and “rightness” can feel the way I was feeling. Those of Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, or Hindu faiths can feel the way I was feeling.
AH-HA – I’m not so superior after all. I’m not really on that much of a higher spiritual plane/path after all. I can get caught up in all the fear, defensiveness, and justification of my thoughts just as quickly as anyone else after all. It’s just a different fear. It’s just a different sense of superiority. But, it’s just as sick and ego-based.
I guess you could construe this as a depressing realization, and I have certainly been down that road. However, it also can be understood as a significant clue that I and my brothers are truly one. And I mean ALL my brothers: Fundamentalist Christian, Islamist, Zionistic Jew, aloof Buddhist, Tea-Party member, rabid progressive, racist, straight, gay.  If I can discipline my mind to see them in me and me in them, then the fear-based barriers that have separated us might be a little more porous – a little more elastic – than I thought. Of course, I cannot control others – but I CAN love them as an extension of myself. They want peace, serenity, calmness, and freedom just as I do. They want justice, change, and understanding, just as I do.
In the final analysis that’s all the Holy Spirit asks of me. I don’t have to change someone. I don’t have to change things or events. I just have to keep my focus on me and my thoughts. That’s my perceived reality. If I am willing, the Holy Spirit will change my perceptions.
I can live with that.
As always, thanks for listening and feel free to share this message with your friends, family, and those with whom you are walking your spiritual path.
#2 June, 2012

I Don’t Have To Be Right To Be At Peace! (Part 1)

Part 1 of 2
I remember reading a powerful, but brief, parable attributed to an Irish priest in the 17th Century Irish countryside. It went like this: “A priest went to visit a parishioner who had been absent from the congregation for some time. As they sat in the parishioner’s small cottage by the coal and peat fire, the older man began talking about how he didn’t really see the need for attending a formal service with the congregation.
“As he spoke, the priest gently reached over, took the fireplace tongs, and gently removed a small red-hot ember from the fire. He placed it 3-4 inches away but still on the hearth.
“Although noticing the priest’s actions, the parishioner continued talking about seeing the handiwork of God in all the lovely natural beauty throughout his small, verdant farm. As he continued opining, the priest continued to smile and nod. As well, the burning ember began to grow darker and darker around the edges as it cooled. In just several minutes, the coal ember was not glowing at all.
“The priest gently picked up the ember with the tongs and placed it back next to the fire. Shortly, it began to turn a deep orange around its corners, then throughout.
“The old farmer, eyeing the ember, suddenly stopped talking and said: ‘I get your point, Father. I’ll be at Sunday’s Mass.’”
I noticed this same phenomenon while we were away in New England. At times, I read a daily message in my Emmet Fox book, I read some passages in the Big Book of AA, and I read some in A Course In Miracles (ACIM). It was nice to have those resources, but it wasn’t the same.
After returning home and attending my regular AA meeting and our ongoing ACIM weekly meeting, I realized I was like the lump of coal – I had begun to get darker and darker around the edges while we were away and now, having returned, was getting the “glow” again.
As I sat in my ACIM meeting, feeling absolutely at ease and accepted – just as I am – with no overriding “shoulds” or “oughts” to be regurgitated among pleasantly polite adages spoken within the meeting, I was immensely aware of the love of the Master I felt present.
I truly felt peaceful, accepted, contented, myself.
Ahhh! Life is so good. The Course material is so right on.
Too bad others don’t know this feeling. I feel sorry for them. I’m so grateful I’ve progressed beyond fear-based religiosity.
Continued in Part 2

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Acceptance and Adjustment - What Wonderful Lessons I'm Learning

We recently lost our dog of 15 years named Miss Tybee. She had always been my little princess. From the very beginning she had me twisted around her paws. I just knew she belonged in our home. Within 24 hours, she knew she belonged, too.
She was about 17 years old when we put her down due to severe pain in her back legs and hips – degenerating spinal discs. She was also just about deaf and going blind from cataracts.
She was still my little 12-pound princess. She always had been. I still miss here terribly. She would cuddle against me at night and – boy-oh-boy – was she a little hot body!
Our other rescue dog, 15-pound Colonel Duffy, was about 2, as well, when we got him. He’s now 8 or 9. He misses her almost as much as I. Maybe more. I don’t know. I do know he shows it more than I, since I’m more “sophisticated, mature, stoic, or responsible” than he. He is just who he is. No apologies. No guilt. No shame.  Just naturally being himself.  I, on the other hand, am wrapped up somewhere between who I am and who I think I ought to be. How I sometimes envy Duffy and his acceptance of himself.
He’s coming around, though. Perhaps, he’s adjusting to being the center of attention.  Perhaps, he’s adjusting to being the “top dog.” Again, I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter anyway. He’s just being himself and I’m learning acceptance from him.
Several days ago a friend called to say that a local business had picked up a small dog – believed to be a poodle – that wandered up to their construction site and hung around all day. The crew took the dog to all surrounding houses to see if anyone recognized the dog. No one did. So they’ve been keeping it at their business. They’ve called all the shelters, vets, related organizations, as well as radio stations and other media outlets to see if anyone has reported it. Nothing.
We went to see it – him – and he’s sweet, groomed, clean and well-dispositioned. He’s about 9-10 pounds. So, maybe he’s a miniature or toy poodle. We’re keeping him over the weekend to ensure he and Duffy get along.
In addition to the acceptance-training I’m receiving from Duffy on how to grieve, I’m also learning from No Name (although we’ve decided to call the new guy, since he’s a French Poodle, Lieutenant Beauregard (Beau for short) – nice and “Frenchy,” don’t you think?) how to adjust to new circumstances.
What a simple education! Beau is constantly on the alert. Watching everyone’s every move, figuring out all this newness as he goes along.
“What door do we go through for a walk? For naps? For food?”
“What is that bowl for? Oh!  Water. Good, I’ll remember that.”
“What’s that thing? Smells interesting.”
“Grrrr!” Says Duffy.
“Oh! That’s his toy. Must leave that alone – or wait until he’s out of sight.”
“What’s this around my neck? Why does Boss Man pull on it? I see. He wants me to come this way. Ouch! I’ll do better next time. Ouch! Okay, once more.”
I’m noticing all this and saying to myself: “Look at Beau – No anger. No frustration. No whining. No comparisons with previous ‘Boss Men.’ No shoulds. No oughts.”
Just is-ness.
I am beginning to realize this is the way my life can be if I simply understand, “This is what is.” It’s not good, bad, stupid, irresponsible, idiotic, thoughtless, short-sighted, or self-absorbed. It simply is just what it is. Period. Adjust, Don, and continue onward.
Beau, after 18 hours, now goes to the appropriate garage side door when I get the leash. He goes and gets a drink when he’s thirsty. He looks at “his” bowl – not Duffy’s – when he’s starting to get hungry. He goes to the correct door, gets in bed, and lies close to my wife when he’s tired.
This may not be a fantastic spiritual message for you today, but, in addition to sharing a message, I am trying to simply share myself with you. This is where I am today and what is going on inside me.
Even though it was wonderful, it’s good to be back home from our vacation in New England.
As always, thanks for listening and feel free to share this message with your friends, family and those with whom you are walking your spiritual path.
#1 June, 2012