Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fear, Anger, And Blame Are The Opposite of Love, Acceptance, Peace, and Joy

I received this quote from a friend of a friend: “People who blame others have not begun their lesson. People who blame themselves have begun their lesson. Those who blame no one have finished their lesson.
AA oldtimers state that the easiest way to forgive is simply not to blame in the first place. Blame involves fear, anger and the attempt to deflect a perceived attack on you (which becomes an attack from you). Those emotional states reflect the exact opposite of Love, Acceptance, Peace, and Joy, which are the internal states of living I wish for each of you in 2016.
In light of this quote and my comments about fear, anger and blame, I want to share the following message. This is an article that was distributed by the U/U Church in Brevard, NC as a message for the 2015 holiday season. Our friends in Brevard sent this to us. I want to share it with you.
During 2016, we need to begin seeing the fear in ourselves.

Guns Don't Kill People - Americans Kill People
By Michael Moore, The Hollywood Reporter
22 December 15
When Hamlet debuted on the stage of the Globe Theater in May of 1600, a funny thing happened — no one went home and killed their uncle. In fact, in the weeks and months afterward, there was no rash of uncle killings throughout London. The same thing had happened over two thousand years earlier — after the debut of Oedipus Rex, thousands of Greeks (as far as we can tell) did not go home and have sex with their mothers.
With the recent spate of mass shootings — at the community college in Oregon, the Planned Parenthood in Colorado and the county building in San Bernardino — the debate has begun anew, like it has ever since the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999: do we need stricter gun laws, and do we need to decrease the violence we show in the movies and on TV, as a way to help prevent these tragedies?
There is no question that fewer guns will result in fewer gun deaths. This has been proven in every country that has decided to decrease or remove guns from civilian ownership. In the 1980s and '90s, Australia had a series of mass shootings, including an awful one at a school in Port Arthur. The conscience of the country was so moved by that slaughter — that's right, "slaughter," like the slaughter in Colorado Springs, the slaughter in San Bernardino, etc. — that Australia outlawed nearly all guns. Total number of school shootings since that law passed: zero.
Less guns also mean less successful suicides. It should be pointed out that over half of the nearly 30,000 gun deaths each year in this country are from suicide. If you want to make sure you will die by your own hand, using a gun is the tried and true way to accomplish such a task. But many who attempt suicide don't really want to die, and by using pills or even slashing their wrists there's usually a greater that 50% chance that they will live, that someone will save them. There's not much saving going on when there's a bullet hole in one's head.
The other pertinent fact regarding gun-related homicides is that more than 60% of murders involve people who know each other — usually it's a domestic situation between spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends or family members. An argument breaks out and somebody "loses it" and goes and grabs the gun. If guns in these heated situations had not been so easily accessible, many deaths would have been avoided.
We will probably never be able to rid ourselves of the more than quarter-billion guns that are in our homes. But any effort to reduce this number would reduce the level of killing.
Unfortunately, even if we had stronger gun laws, we would still have a few thousand gun deaths in this country. That's because we have a problem no law can solve. Canada has strict gun laws, but they also have an estimated five million hunting rifles and shotguns in their homes — and they don't go and shoot each other on a daily basis like we do. In 2013, they had a total of 131 gun murders in a nation of 35 million people. We have nine times their population, but fifty-fives times their gun killings. How can this be?
Which brings us to Hollywood. I don't think I'm making any big revelation here when I point out that the Canadian kids (and adults) are watching the same exact violent movies, playing the same exact violent video games and watching the same exact violent TV shows as their neighbors, the Americans. So why don't their students—other than on the rare, rare occasion—continually walk into their high schools and colleges and start firing away? It's not that the Canadians don't get angry—have you even been to a hockey game? You cannot say that violent Hollywood movies somehow magically affect only American youth, but no one else. The Japanese cannot get enough of blood and gore in movies, ours and their own. Total number of gun murders in Japan in 2012: three.
So what is it about us? It's clear that the NRA is actually half-right in their slogan, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." We just need to modify that to: "Guns don't kill people—Americans kill people."
It's not the movies or the video games or the gruesome crime scene photos on CSI that drive us Americans to kill each other. It's fear. Why would one want to own a gun in the first place? Well, fear of being robbed or assaulted or killed. Wanting to protect yourself or your family. You know, "just in case."
But in case of what? Remember, the statistics show that the most dangerous threat to you is sitting over there on the couch right now. We have nearly 123 million homes in the US. There are only about 600 home invasions here each year that result in a gun-related death. And in nearly half of those incidents, the deceased was killed by the gun that was in the house to protect ... the deceased!
It's the fear of getting killed that is getting a lot of us killed. But it's also other fears that are winding us up and making a few of us go crazy enough to take off on a shooting rampage. Unlike in other civilized countries where people take care of each other—with free health care, generous compensation for the unemployed, free or nearly-free college education, strict laws on credit card debt and junk mortgages, serious help and treatment for the mentally ill, aid for aging and infirm people and the list goes on and on. From Ireland to Italy to Norway, from New Zealand to South Korea to Morocco, governments all over the world have discovered that the real way to reduce violence is to simply take care of each other.
What separates us from everyone else is the way we force the members of our society to live in a constant state of fear: fear of going broke, fear of losing your job, fear of getting sick, fear of getting old and being without. We know that there's no safety net for us here in the USA. We are the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" nation, the "you take care of yours and I'll take care of mine" and the "your problems are not my problems" society. Most of us find a way to cope with all of this. We suck it up and take the ulcer for the team. But then there are the few that can't. And with easy access to any kind of gun—and as much ammo as they want—they find a way to act out their frustration and aggression. Not because they saw Kill Bill. But because they live in the home of the brave. That is something we can change.
But first, it will require some of that "bravery."
As I said earlier, we need to begin seeing the enormous amount of fear in ourselves, as well as the fear we are being subjected to. I received a Christmas card from the president of Princeton Theological Seminary this season. The cover was a nice picture of their family, including their dogs. The inside message simply stated: “Fear not….” [Luke 1:30]
Quite a profound and apt message for all of us as this year comes to a close.
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 Dec 2015
Copyright 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

Love is at the Heart of Courage

I received this message of Light and Love from a good friend. I am forwarding it to you as my Christmas message this year. I was very perplexed over how to write a message of hope, light, and the power of love that is the embodiment of the Christmas message. How do I write that in the context of the hate, fear, anger and unjust actions that are occurring all over our planet?
Then, this message arrived:
L'amour est au coeur de courage
(Love is at the Heart of Courage). By Richard Girard  
“Peace Be Unto You.
“We dedicate ourselves to the idea that it is time to end the fear instilled by all of the terrorists, internal and external, around the world: from the Daesh cowards who killed over one hundred people in Paris last month, and fourteen more in San Bernardino a fortnight ago; to the corporate monsters who hold fear of our losing our jobs over our heads to drive wages down …; to the politicians who use fear as a club to keep us in our place …; to the religious bigots in the United States who shoot physicians because they provide abortions, and their kindred spirits around the world who believe that murder, rape, and destruction … are justified as being the will of their so-called god, in contravention of their own holy books, and for their own expedient purposes.
“The time for the use of fear against the peoples of this planet to force them to acquiesce to your point of view is over. We the People of planet Earth, as of this hour, declare Love on you.
“We will resist your attempts to force us to live in fear of you: passively when we can, actively if we must. We will not hate you, we will not fear you, because that gives you power: we as of this moment deny you all power over us. We are tired of your ideology of denial and privation, of haves and have nots, that is contrary to virtually every religious and moral philosophy that has survived the test of time. We declare our universal solidarity with all of humankind.… Understand that you will lose this war, because exposed to the light of truth and love, you will wither away like the malignant abominations you are--unworthy of our fear, let alone the respect you crave.
“This is our time, our place, and our cause: to finally free the world from the fear that has so long held it in thrall, to rise up against our tormentors and as one voice say a resounding, and unequivocal, "NO!" We will throw out the politicians who speak of fear, and embrace those who speak of boldly going into the future, not trying to rediscover a past that only exists in their self-delusion.
Love arises from real courage; courage arises from real love. Embrace this fact with us, and let's walk into the future together, unafraid because we are no longer alone. Join us as human beings who finally, as of this instant in time, realize that we have each other, and we have one another's' love and courage to back us in … the ending of fear of power-hungry individuals and groups. [This is] our first step in establishing what will be a universal community of mutual Love, Respect, and Solidarity in the world. And from these Virtues will arise the Charity, Humility, and Mercy that will usher in an era of Liberty, Equality, and Justice for all.
“And if we can remember and live that ideal, then that is all we need to succeed beyond our wildest dreams.”
[Richard Girard is an increasingly radical representative of the disabled and disenfranchised members of America's downtrodden, who suffers from bipolar disorder (type II or type III, the professionals do not agree).]
As I continue to recognize and deal with my fears and egoic perceptions, I trust my inner light will continue to emerge and shine so that the Holy Spirit will use it for His purposes. In this spirit, I wish a “Merry Christmas” for each of you – the birth of the transformative presence of Love in your life.
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 Dec 2015
Copyright 2015

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sight And Vision – A Key To The Spiritual World

As I mentioned last week [Msg-1-Dec-2015; The Stuff Of Life … And Death], I am currently reading a book by Jon Turk entitled “The Raven’s Gift” [St. Martin’s Press, 2009]. He describes how a Siberian shaman, Moolynaut, healed a fractured pelvis he had sustained during an avalanche. He is a chemical engineer by trade and authors science textbooks for college-level courses. The reality of this healing is beyond something he comprehends. Trying to “fit” that reality he experienced in a world view of science and technology is not an easy task.
I fully understand that dilemma. I, too, have had instances where I experienced a reality that I could not dismiss, yet could not explain.
Early in my recovery from alcoholism I came face-to-face with a visceral experience I came to rely on but could not verbalize. I wrote about this in my book (p. 184):  Before I had gotten sober I would get an unmistakable knot in my stomach every afternoon around four o’clock. I know now it was an early withdrawal symptom. By the time I’d get home the knot would’ve turned into a real pain. A shot of vodka would make it disappear—just melt it away. After I stopped drinking the knot continued to appear every afternoon, right on schedule. But I was going to AA after work, not home for a vodka. I began noticing, however, that when I simply touched the doorknob to the church basement where the AA meeting was held, my knot began dissolving. This was a physiological phenomenon that I could not ignore but could not explain. As I talked about it, old-timers just smiled. [How the Bible became the Bible. Infinity Publishing, 2007, ISBN 978-0-7414-2993-3]
A few years later I was living in Saint Augustine, FL. I was still sober and still consulting. I had a severe attack of sciatic pain while consulting. I had a disappearing disk between my lumbar vertebras and my sciatic nerve was being compressed. I am very pain tolerant, but this was debilitating. I worked with orthopedic doctors for almost a year using physical therapy to correct my situation without resorting to surgery. I finally gave up and had the surgery. It was very successful – although I later had to have additional surgery to remove a growing synovial cyst that also began exerting pressure on the opposite sciatic nerve.
Several years later the pain returned – albeit not as severe. I was very worried that the entire medical procedure would have to be repeated. I had a friend that went to many “spiritual” meetings we were attending. She mentioned that she had been rather successful in providing spiritual surgery on back pain and asked if I would be willing to let her help me. I thought about it and said I would. She worked on me for several hours following a very strict regimen of hers. When finished, she told me she had added disk material where it was needed and I was to go home and remain very quiet and still, to the best of my ability, for 96 hours. “After all,” she said, “Surgery is surgery. Your body needs to recover.”
I followed her directions. Although my lower back was very stiff  – with a dull ache –she had never physically touched me during her healing. That “achy” pain slowly dissolved over the 96 hours. That was almost 10 years ago and my back is still fine. If I overextend taking care of our acre, my lower back will ache and twinge at times, but exercise and stretching keeps it under control.
How do I explain these visceral events? I’ve long since quit trying to verbalize what can’t be truly communicated. I just acknowledge that there are experiential events whose reality I cannot ignore nor can I explain.
I’ve learned, however, in working AA’s Twelve Steps, as well as in my study of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) that, just because I cannot explain something (or “see” something), doesn’t meant it isn’t there. The rods and cones of my retina can only discern a small spectrum of light waves that gets passed on to my optic nerve. Why should I limit my physical reality to just what I can “see?”
 One of the primary principles of ACIM is the distinction between sight and vision. This is best stated from the Introduction and Section Four of the Clarification of Terms at the back of the book:
INTRODUCTION: 1 This is not a course in philosophical speculation, nor is it concerned with precise terminology. It is concerned only with Atonement, or the correction of perception. The means of the Atonement is forgiveness. The structure of "individual consciousness" is essentially irrelevant because it is a concept representing the "original error" or the "original sin." To study the error itself does not lead to correction, if you are indeed to succeed in overlooking the error. And it is just this process of overlooking at which the course aims.
4. TRUE PERCEPTION – KNOWLEDGE: 1 The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself. Yet there is nothing in the world you see that will endure forever. Some things will last in time a little while longer than others. But the time will come when all things visible will have an end. 2 The body's eyes are therefore not the means by which the real world can be seen, for the illusions that they look upon must lead to more illusions of reality. And so they do. For everything they see not only will not last, but lends itself to thoughts of sin and guilt. While everything that God created is forever without sin and therefore is forever without guilt. 3 Knowledge is not the remedy for false perception since, being another level, they can never meet. The one correction possible for false perception must be true perception. It will not endure. But for the time it lasts it comes to heal. For true perception is a remedy with many names. Forgiveness, salvation, Atonement, true perception, all are one. They are the one beginning, with the end to lead to Oneness far beyond themselves. True perception is the means by which the world is saved from sin, for sin does not exist. And it is this that true perception sees.
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.

#2 Dec 2015

Copyright 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Stuff Of Life … And Death

In light of Paris and now the Colorado Planned Parenthood facility as well as the San Bernardino Health Department where people, armed with guns designed exclusively to kill people, are doing just that – killing people – I try to focus on stilling my mind and allowing the Holy Spirit to open my spiritual eyes to a vision of True Reality – acknowledging that every thought and act is either an act of Love or a call for Love.
I am still a novice at accomplishing that. I have to have help to still my mind. I routinely find the outdoors of great use in doing my “stilling.” It is the only way I have found to propel me into the Now, where I have to be to hope for the arrival of stillness and the whispers of the Holy Spirit.
I am currently reading a book by Jon Turk entitled “The Raven’s Gift” [St. Martin’s Press, 2009]. Quoting from the back jacket: “The northern lights have indeed seen strange sights, but none quite compare to Jon Turk’s adventures on the frozen tundra of Kamchatka. There he encounters a great-great-grandmother spiritual healer who mends his body of damage sustained in a long-ago skiing accident. The tension between his own logical scientific background and the mysterious shamanistic wisdom of his healer is at the heart of this wonderfully told story of Koryak life and his own personal transformation.
In the book Turk describes [pages 3-5] his first experience of a transformative, intuitive “knowing” that emerged inside him while, on a beautiful spring day, he watched his dog simply leap, bound, run, dig and play in the meadow where they were. “My dog suddenly raced off at a sprint for about fifty yards, leapt into the air like a fox, with his front paws spinning, and landed, digging furiously, clods of sod flying into the air….I sauntered over, but by the time I arrived, my dog had abandoned that hole, sprinted another fifty yards and repeated this same odd behavior. [The dog did that 3 or 4 more times.] “Each time, after breaking through the protective sod, he shoved his nose into the earth and sniffed, then dug, and sniffed again. What did he smell down there? I squatted on my hands and knees and tentatively stuck my nose into one of his holes. Even my human senses could detect the sweet aroma of decay as mites and bacteria woke from their winter somnolence and began to munch and crunch, as only mites and bacteria know how, to convert bits of roots and old leaves into soil…. By the time I reached the fifth hole, my nose and cheeks were smudged with dirt and bits of moist soil lodged onto the hairs of my nostrils, so the earth was inside me, as if we had just made a pact of togetherness….
Since that time, my entire adult life has been a balancing act between science on one hand and the smell of the earth that became so seminal that spring day in the Rockies on the other. I have made the bulk of my living writing college-level textbooks on geology, environmental science, chemistry, physics and astronomy. At the same time I moved to a ski town and became involved in high-intensity rock climbing, skiing, kayaking, and later mountain biking. Climbing a vertical granite wall in a remote region of the Canadian Arctic … involves a different level of intensity than smelling the spring earth. But the relationship between the two is stronger than most people would suspect. During expeditions, the often razor-thin margin between life and death depends on a tactile, sensory awareness of the environment that incorporates but also transcends logic. My first introduction to that awareness occurred on a spring day when I was walking in a meadow with my dog.
I have described several instances where, smelling and observing the myriad life in the muck of my wet-weather creek, I found myself making sense of me in light of the commonness of this thing called “Life.” I simply had this feeling of knowing what the indigenous peoples have known and trusted: Life is universal and non-discriminatory. Native Americans, as well as Australian Aborigines, understood that all things have life or spirit: animals, birds, fishes, reptiles, trees, springs, rocks, winds, storms, and – of course – humankind. But they also understood there was no hierarchy. No one form of life was superior to another.
When I truly sense that reality, I become immediately calm. My little spark – called biological life – is no different (nor better than) any other form of biological life. I’ll watch an ant. I don’t think he’s saying to himself: “I’m tired of this. Why couldn’t I have been born a soldier ant instead of a worker ant? Why couldn’t I have been born a butterfly – or a hummingbird?” Then I’ll talk to him, asking,  “Are you even vaguely aware of how upset I am?” “No? Don’t you care?” “No? Okay, maybe I shouldn’t either.” “Thanks for listening.”
Maybe I’m just a little off my rocker. But I feel calm. I feel peace. I feel at ease. And I have grown to love those small, little moments. If only people could be as non-judgmental as ants. Oops! That means I am seeing them as judgmental, which means I am looking at them through my own judging eyes. Mr. Ant! Where are you?
In A Course in Miracles (ACIM), Chapter 25, The Justice of God, Section IV, The Light You Bring, Paragraph 5 alludes to this sense of Oneness that extends beyond the human form to all of nature: “In you is all of Heaven. Every leaf that falls is given life in you. Each bird that ever sang will sing again in you. And every flower that ever bloomed has saved its perfume and its loveliness for you. What aim can supersede the Will of God and of His Son, that Heaven be restored to him for whom it was created as his only home? Nothing before and nothing after it. No other place; no other state nor time. Nothing beyond nor nearer. Nothing else. In any form. This can you bring to all the world, and all the thoughts that entered it and were mistaken for a little while. How better could your own mistakes be brought to truth than by your willingness to bring the light of Heaven with you, as you walk beyond the world of darkness into light?”
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 Dec 2015
Copyright 2015