Saturday, November 30, 2013

I am Sorry. Please Forgive Me. I Love You. Thank You

I received the following question several weeks ago, and I read something this week that supplied me with an answer. The question?  What is a reasonable thing I can do to change the hate and fear we find ourselves in? Besides trying to pray for things to get better? I mean conservative politicians scare me to death. I don’t trust big companies anymore. People still are saying rotten things to me or giving me dirty looks when they see my 5-year old Obama sticker on my car. Some still flip me the finger when I’m driving. Praying doesn’t seem to be enough, but I can’t think of much else to do.
This is the kind of question I believe is very common to all of us who are on a spiritual journey.
I was reminded earlier this week, reading a missive from Suzanne Ward, about the practice of ho’oponopono. It’s a Hawaiian mantra that means, “I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.” It was explained to us that we are all connected and this is how we are to respond to all life and all life’s situations. We were told to do this when we picked up some trash along our street or in the parking lot or while we try to accept an angry person or aggravating situation. I hadn’t thought about it for a while. I think it’s an appropriate suggestion for all of us. It is also very similar to the concept of gratitude from A Course in Miracles (ACIM) that was in my special Thanksgiving message: sincere gratitude is based on the realization of the connectedness of all things.
I first heard of ho’oponopono from a friend in St. Augustine during an “Intender’s” meeting. We would meet once a week to state our intentions. [] We would go around in a circle and, when it was our turn, we would state our gratitudes and then our intentions. We wouldn’t say, “I intend that I will start exercising.” Rather, “I intend I am exercising.” We would say this with the positive emotion we would feel from accomplishing an exercise regimen. We state our intentions in the PRESENT and with the accompanying emotions. At our intenders meeting we practiced ho’oponopono as well. “I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.” It added so much to my statement of gratitude as well as to the quality of my weekly intentions.
I remember when we were selling our house in St Augustine in order to move to East Tennessee. We had no buyers or prospects. Real Estate was slow. We were in the middle of the housing bust. I had been intending for our house to sell. As we had visited the area where we wanted to move, almost all the homes had outdoor decks off the kitchen or family room. It was January and cold. I began intending I was walking out on my deck in chilly weather to have my morning coffee and smoke my pipe. I could feel the cold and see my breath in the chilly air. That became my intention: I intend to have my morning coffee in Tennessee while it is still cold enough to see my breath. Three weeks later our house sold. We moved into our new house in East Tennessee in the middle of March, while the temperature was still low enough to see my breath as I sipped my morning coffee. Intentions. Ho’oponopono. It works.
From Suzanne Ward’s Message From Matthew just last week (11/24/2013): []
“… In previous messages we have said that everything in existence is energy. We have spoken about the power of thoughts, feelings, and written and spoken words, and we have stressed how crucial it is to focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. Also, we have explained why forgiveness and gratitude are so important. Evidence of these universal truths is in the ancient practice of ho’oponopono, which ties them all together into an ‘elixir’ of divine grace’ you might say.
“The accomplishment of Dr. Hew Len, formerly a psychologist at a hospital for the criminally insane in Hawaii, is a stunning example of ho’oponopono’s efficacy. Instead of seeing patients during the couple of years he was there, he stayed in his office, sometimes looking at their files, and repeating over and over and over “I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  I love you. Thank you.” By his accepting responsibility for the patients’ status—in essence, acknowledging the inseparable connection of all souls and that whatever one does affects all others—they started improving and continued until they were healed and released.
“This remarkable proof of the power of thoughts and feelings can be enlightening and inspiring to everyone. Sharing that story along with feeling grateful for our universal family’s diligence, assistance and unconditional love will speed the day when life in your world is peaceful and harmonious.”
Gratitude. The connectedness of all living things. Forgiveness. Ho’oponopono.
I trust you find this message helpful. “I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.”  Do this while you are watching the news. Think of this and say it to yourself, while looking someone in the eye, as they are griping about the President. Do it and mean it. “I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.”
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#1 December, 2013

Copyright, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Thanksgiving Message

Love Is The Way I Walk In Gratitude

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. I could think of no better message than the Lesson on gratitude in A Course In Miracles (ACIM). This Lesson [195] tells me there are two kinds of gratitude. The first is an ego-based thankfulness, which often is simply veiled hostility. When I pray “Thank You, God, for You have blessed me with all this bounty…” am I really implying that those who don’t have the kind of bounty I have are not blessed, or not blessed as fully as I? The second is sincere gratitude for the connectedness of all living things. As Allen Watson says, “Today I am joyful that the gifts I have received belong to everyone. I am grateful for every living thing, every person I meet…. I recognize that if anyone is diminished, I am diminished, and I thank God that ‘…everything has earned the right to love by being loving,’ for all is part of my [True] Self.” [A Workbook Companion, Volume II, Circle Publishing, 2006, p. 63]
From ACIM, A Workbook for Students, Part II, Lesson 195:
“Gratitude is a lesson hard to learn for those who look upon the world amiss. The most that they can do is see themselves as better off than others. And they try to be content because another seems to suffer more than they. How pitiful and deprecating are such thoughts! For who has cause for thanks while others have less cause? And who could suffer less because he sees another suffer more? Your gratitude is due to Him alone Who made all cause of sorrow disappear throughout the world.
“It is insane to offer thanks because of suffering. But it is equally insane to fail in gratitude to One Who offers you the certain means whereby all pain is healed, and suffering replaced with laughter and with happiness. Nor could the even partly sane refuse to take the steps which He directs, and follow in the way He sets before them, to escape a prison that they thought contained no door to the deliverance they now perceive.
“Your brother is your ‘enemy’ because you see in him the rival for your peace; a plunderer who takes his joy from you, and leaves you nothing but a black despair so bitter and relentless that there is no hope remaining. Now is vengeance all there is to wish for. Now can you but try to bring him down to lie in death with you, as useless as yourself; as little left within his grasping fingers as in yours.
“You do not offer God your gratitude because your brother is more slave than you, nor could you sanely be enraged if he seems freer. Love makes no comparisons. And gratitude can only be sincere if it be joined to love. We offer thanks to God our Father that in us all things will find their freedom. It will never be that some are loosed while others still are bound. For who can bargain in the name of love?
“Therefore give thanks, but in sincerity. And let your gratitude make room for all who will escape with you; the sick, the weak, the needy and afraid, and those who mourn a seeming loss or feel apparent pain, who suffer cold or hunger, or who walk the way of hatred and the path of death. All these go with you. Let us not compare ourselves with them, for thus we split them off from our awareness of the unity we share with them, as they must share with us.
“We thank our Father for one thing alone; that we are separate from no living thing, and therefore one with Him. And we rejoice that no exceptions ever can be made which would reduce our wholeness, nor impair or change our function to complete the One Who is Himself completion. We give thanks for every living thing, for otherwise we offer thanks for nothing, and we fail to recognize the gifts of God to us.
Then let our brothers lean their tired heads against our shoulders as they rest a while. We offer thanks for them. For if we can direct them to the peace that we would find, the way is opening at last to us. An ancient door is swinging free again; a long forgotten Word re-echoes in our memory, and gathers clarity, as we are willing once again to hear.
“Walk, then, in gratitude the way of love. For hatred is forgotten when we lay comparisons aside. What more remains as obstacles to peace? The fear of God is now undone at last, and we forgive without comparing. Thus we cannot choose to overlook some things, and yet retain some other things still locked away as ‘sins.’ When your forgiveness is complete you will have total gratitude, for you will see that everything has earned the right to love by being loving, even as your Self.
“Today we learn to think of gratitude in place of anger, malice and revenge. We have been given everything. If we refuse to recognize it, we are not entitled therefore to our bitterness, and to a self-perception which regards us in a place of merciless pursuit, where we are badgered ceaselessly, and pushed about without a thought or care for us or for our future. Gratitude becomes the single thought we substitute for these insane perceptions. God has cared for us, and calls us Son. Can there be more than this?
“Our gratitude will pave the way to Him, and shorten our learning time by more than you could ever dream of. Gratitude goes hand in hand with love, and where one is the other must be found. For gratitude is but an aspect of the Love, which is the Source of all creation. God gives thanks to you, His Son, for being what you are: His Own completion and the Source of love, along with Him. Your gratitude to Him is one with His to you. For love can walk no road except the way of gratitude, and thus we go who walk the way to God.”  [The Workbook for Students, Lesson 195]
Happy Thanksgiving!
#5 November, 2013

Copyright, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Different Is Not Another Word For Wrong

This is Thanksgiving week and I’m very grateful for the following insight as a result of reading Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Lacuna.
Recently, I’ve discussed the spiritual concept of Oneness. It is not a uniformity of social behavior – groups or congregations that all seem to agree on a few common beliefs. I believe this is a kind of egoic version of oneness, which is merely a feeling of belonging to a common group that – in bigger numbers – alleviates my fear somehow. It helps me believe I’m right. It is similar to mob mentality and sometimes can morph into just that with the right trigger. That is not the oneness I’m speaking of.
The story Kingsolver tells is one of an American lad that is raised in Mexico and returns to the US as a young adult. It is set in the pre- and post-World War II era. This was an era of wonderful community commonality brought on by the Depression and WWII, followed by the Cold War and our fear of Communism (stoked and promoted for political gain until the fear became pervasive and irrational).
From The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver, HarperCollins, 2009, pp. 5, 185:
The boy, Harrison Shepherd, had discovered snorkeling and was mesmerized by the schools of fishes around a Mexican reef. “The rule of fishes is the same as the rule of people: if a shark comes, they will all escape, and leave you to be eaten. They share a single jumpy heart that drives them to move all together, running away from [perceived] danger just before it arrives. Somehow they know.
“Underneath the ocean is a world without people. The sea-roof rocks overhead as you drift among the purple trees of the coral forest, surrounded by a heavenly body of light made of shining fishes. The sun comes down through the water like flaming arrows, touching the scaly bodies and setting every fin to flame. A thousand fishes make the school, but they always move together: one great, bright, brittle altogetherness…. [p. 5]
“… A wife. Van had a wife named Gabrielle. He has a son. This is what it means to be alone: everyone is connected to everyone else, their bodies are a bright liquid life flowing around you, sharing a single heart that drives them to move all together. If the shark comes they will all escape, and leave you to be eaten.” [p. 185]
This thought, of schools of fish acting as one, keeps coming up over and over in different forms. It is the metaphor Kingsolver uses to describe what happened to America during the late 1940s and early 1950s during the Joe McCarthy era of rabid, fear-mongering anti-communism. In the atmosphere of terror by innuendo, trial by press release and guilt-by-association, the forwardness of American politics just stopped. Since one couldn’t criticize public policy without being condemned as a probable “Red,” the country stagnated as having suddenly “arrived.” No more progress needed. We are perfect. Let’s just stop. Others who think otherwise are unpatriotic and dangerous. Let’s leave them for the shark.
Personally, I encountered this same attitude in the 1970s during the tumultuous activity of Civil Rights, the social safety net and the Vietnam conflict. The prevailing atmosphere was perfectly summed up in the popular bumper sticker: “America – Love It Or Leave It.” Once again – the attitude was we’re pretty perfect just as we are. If you criticize us, we’ll label you as being “suspect.” Soon that will morph into “dangerous,” then ”un-American.” Finally, that fear will lead to being denounced as “evil and unchristian.”
Kingsolver goes on to explain how this attitude of America’s special “rightness” came about. It is just five or six years after WWII. She uses a character called Artie: “Do you want to know my theory? … I think it’s the bomb…. I believe that is the heart of the matter. When that bomb went off over Japan, when we saw that an entire city could be turned to fire and gas, it changed the psychology of this country. And when I say ‘psychology,’ I mean that very literally. It’s the radio, you see. The radio makes everyone feel the same thing at the same time. Instead of millions of various thoughts, one big psychological fixation. The radio commands our gut response…. That bomb scared the holy Moses out of us. We became horrified in our hearts that we had used it. Okay, it ended the war, it saved American life and so on and so forth. But everyone feels guilty, deep inside. Little Japanese children turned into flaming gas, we know this…. [So] we convince ourselves we are a very special people, to get to use this weapon. Ideal scenario, we would like to think it came to us from God, meant for our own use and no one else’s…. Suddenly we are God’s chosen, we have this bomb, and we better be pretty damn certain no one else is going to get this bomb. We must clean our house thoroughly. Can you imagine what would happen if England also had the bomb – or France, Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union all had this bomb? How could a person go to sleep at night?” [pp. 369-70]
I believe one of the primary facets of guilt is the unspoken assumption that “they” will do to us, if given the opportunity, what we have done to “them.”  So, to quell the fear driving the guilt, we must do all we can to prevent that (perceived as probable) attack from happening. Published in 2009 The Lacuna  is a wonderfully written, but scary, portrait of the rise of the same hatefulness, fear and distrust that has pervaded our country in the last five years. Fox News commentators, who artfully blend factual reporting with opinion-as-fact, are now providing this singular voice of fear and hysteria about anything that sounds progressive in nature. The Democrats counter with fund-raising appeals that broaden the base of Fox’s fear-filled messages. McCarthyism almost brought our government to a standstill in the early 1950s. Today, the Republican-Tea-Party-Social-Conservatives, whose stated goal is (for a variety of competing, very different, reasons) to do nothing but bring down the Obama presidency, is accomplishing much the same level of non-governance as McCarthyism did.
Our situation today can be viewed as frightening, but the book’s history has helped me keep today’s events in perspective. We survived Joe McCarthy and went on to move our country forward with Civil Rights and social safety-net legislation. We’ll survive today’s movement trying to return us to values of the 1950s: state’s rights, abortion bans, a clamp-down on all sexuality, maintaining all sorts of groups of second-class citizenry, including women.
To be aware of my True Self, which allows for the possibility of seeing another’s True Self, begins, for me, to be aware of my thoughts and the importance I seem to give them. If I harbor them, they lead to words, actions, behaviors, habits, and values. All of which can lead me away from my spiritual path.
Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, 2009. Read it. Ponder – with willingness.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#4 November, 2013

Copyright, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Spiritual Truths and My Perceived World of Form

I was reminded of a very simple, straightforward and critical message in my weekly ACIM meeting. The message? I go through a lot of mental gymnastics whenever I try to apply the Truth of spiritual principles to my world of form.
The world of form is the world we “know” so very well. It’s the world of duality – black/white; good/evil; abundance/lack, win/lose; right/wrong; rich/poor; strength/weakness; victor/victim and living as a separate being (I am me and you are not).
The world of the Spirit is the only “real” world there is. Underneath each of us we are not only the same, we are One – still very much an already-loved spirit in God’s Thought and Mind. When we are willing to truly see, by asking the Holy Spirit to help us, we encounter the face of the Christ in all we meet, including ourselves.
This world of form I see, interpret and react/respond to is illusionary. Whenever I take a spiritual principle – like “Love Your Neighbor As Yourself” – and try to apply that to the texting jerk on the interstate or the rude TEA Partier in Rite-Aid, I find it doesn’t work. I end up frustrated and moving rapidly to the arena of martyrdom or victimhood or moving to a state of aggression, judgment and attack – both of which are simply two faces of the same coin.
Before I became aware of this whole other dimension of spirituality, my perceived world of my perceived form was all I knew. Not until I began my journey to sobriety in my mid- to late-forties was I open to a different way of looking at life – open to a different perception of my universe. That’s when things began to change for me.
In a situation where there is stress or tension with another, if I find myself concentrating on what it is I am supposed to be doing-saying-responding (or not), then my “higher” ego is trying to apply ACIM principles to the situation. In short, I am trying to apply Course Truths to my world of form. That is not what the Course is suggesting I do. The Course is encouraging me to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, words, or proper actions. There is no formulaic approach to spewing ACIM (or Bible, AA, Quran, Vedic, or other Eastern) one-liner quotes that will “magically” correct the tension.
I cannot spout Truths of the Spirit to remedy confrontations in my perceived world of form. Yet I go on automatic sometimes to do just that. It’s frustrating. The Golden Rule, quoted above, should actually read “…as your True Self.” This, of course, implies you are aware of your True Self and therefore open to the possibility of seeing another’s True Self.  This act of simply and really “seeing” another is all that’s required for the Holy Spirit to transform that encounter – which blesses both.
To be aware of my True Self begins, for me, to be aware of my thoughts and the importance I seem to give them. If I harbor them, they lead to words, actions, behaviors, habits, and values. To stop this egoic progression, I do not need to try to think  “different” thoughts, for they, too, will be of my ego, which will try to convince me that these substitute thoughts are really spiritual and – boy-oh-boy – look at this evidence of my growth and spiritual superiority.
To stop this egoic progression all I need to think about is: “All I can change is my mind. All else is naught.” To change my mind only requires that I be willing to let the Holy Spirit show me a different way of looking at things or situations.
All this has been hard for me to articulate. It’s hard to write. I have a tiny glimpse of what I want to say, but by the time that thought has traveled around in my mind and eventually down to my fingers on the keyboard that tiny thought gets lost.
The Course tells us we are approaching the time when words will end. I think, perhaps, that is so for this week’s message. So, I think I’ll stop. If you found this meaningful, well – that’s wonderful. If you are feeling confused, then welcome to the club.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#3 November, 2013

Copyright, 2013