Saturday, August 29, 2015

Listening With My Heart – Part 2

Last week I wrote of the program on LinkTV called “Global Spirit.” It is a program that “…mixes evocative film segments with deep discussion, [and] takes viewers on a mind and soul-expanding journey, exploring the relationships between ancient wisdom traditions, diverse belief systems, world religions, metaphysics and modern science.”
I quoted one of the participants in a recent program, “Uncle” Angaangaq, an Eskimo-Kalaalit shaman, healer, and carrier of the Qilaut drum. He referred to the longest most complicated journey a person can take is the trip between the head and the heart. I went on to discuss what a wonderful sentiment that was and how I had experienced that in my life – outdoors being a part of nature.
I shared recently in my weekly meeting of A Course In Miracles (ACIM) about listening with my heart as I work in my yard. Our property is almost an acre, has a wet-weather creek that flows through it, and backs up to the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area (an 80,000-acre preserve owned by Tennessee).
During the meeting we discussed the issue of thinking with our heads. Cerebral. Viewing the world I see through my physical egoic eyes, interpreting what I see through the filters of my egoic thoughts, processing those egoic thoughts through my egoic filters, and pretending I am being impartial and rational. What a joke!
While I was out in the yard cleaning up the creek, I had, once again, a sense of being simply a part of my environment. I was not the “master” of my little corner of the world. I was just another being full of life just like the fire ants, beetles, worms, frogs tadpoles, water striders, rabbits, moles, gophers, and a variety of other critters. I was not a user of my environment, but a part of it.
It is an exhilaratingly calm sense of being at One with myself and my surroundings.
I had become aware of a sense of Oneness that I was absorbing – not thinking about. I was experiencing absorption through my heart-sense. I was not “doing” rational thinking through my mental capacity. It reminded me of taking medication. I was absorbing medication through my skin [aka: heart] rather than by injection or oral dose [aka: head].
When I process information through my thinking, I’m in my Ego. Granted, it may be my “higher” mind, but it is still of my ego. This can lead me to very dangerous places – namely, the place where I believe I’m right. And, if I believe I’m right and you disagree with me, then by definition you are wrong.
That’s a dangerous place for me to be.
It reeks of separation rather than Oneness. It keeps you “different” from me. It reeks of defensiveness and justification rather then acceptance and unity. It reinforces my ego’s (Felix) sense of duality – good/bad, right/wrong, spiritual/non-spiritual, appropriate/inappropriate – all of which requires egoic judgment on my part. Again, that is a dangerous place for me to be.
Perhaps it is a dangerous place for you to be as well.
I believe we have all experienced this sense of knowledge through absorption rather than through rational deduction or inference. We meet people that we “just know” we connect with. We meet people that are just the opposite. We find ourselves in places that fill our hearts with calm and belonging, although we cannot explain it. We also find ourselves in places where we are simply edgy. Somehow we “know” it to be so. It’s absorption rather than rational thinking. It’s intuitive rather than logic. It’s a feeling I get many times during an AA meeting: a sense of Oneness, openness and acceptance in the presence of a Reality I could not have imagined 28 years ago.
I also believe I can invite and develop more of that heart-based reality in my life. I desire it very much – but am afraid of it at the same time. After all, I’m the intelligent guy who used to drink a fifth of vodka a day and had to have alcohol in my system 24-hours a day in order to feel normal. And never once did it occur to me that that was rather abnormal.
So, I have a first-hand, visceral understanding of the games Felix can play on me. And I am always aware of that.
Relax and enjoy the most difficult journey you’ll ever take – the trip that will take you from head-thinking to heart-absorption. Simply practice being the observer of your thoughts and, in that stillness, listen for the whispers of the Holy Spirit.
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.
#5 Aug 2015
Copyright 2015

PS: The website to Global Spirit is [   and click on “Programs.”]

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Listening With My Heart

The other day I suddenly became aware of silence – and how loud silence really can be!
Both in the morning and evening I generally spend time on one of our decks just sitting and being still. In the morning it is partly to help me wake up. I have always, from boyhood, had a difficult time falling asleep and a hard time waking up. So, I have my coffee and pipe and sit outside to gently awaken and listen to the silence. In the early evening I love to, once again, sit outside and enjoy the coming dusk, the cooling off, the sounds of silence, and perhaps read a chapter or two of a novel. 
However, several days ago, as I was outside relishing the quiet, I really noticed how “loud” the natural quiet truly is. As I realized this I also became aware that I had been defining “quiet” as the absence of the sounds of humanity: Loud trucks, auto mufflers, hammering, chain saws, lawn mowers, or boisterous voices from neighboring cocktail parties. As I listened to the “quiet” of the forest, which is our backyard, it was raucous with crickets, tree frogs, birds of all varieties, squirrels and other anonymous critters rustling through the underbrush, deer, rabbits, or raccoons.
The quiet of nature is very loud.
It is the sound of life.
Somehow my mind is able to relax and interpret these sounds of life as “quiet.” I believe it is some form of primeval understanding that nature’s life and mine are one. It is bone deep. It is visceral. It is intuitive.
It is a different kind of understanding from the sounds of my life and the sounds of humanity.
As I relax and enjoy the “quiet” of the sounds of nature, I am really enjoying the unity I feel being a part of my environment – rather than as a user or conqueror of my environment. I also believe this was a dormant thought that had been triggered after watching a show on LinkTV, which I support. The show is called “Global Spirit” and is produced by CEM Productions. The promo describes the show: “GLOBAL SPIRIT is a unique inquiry into humankind’s belief systems, wisdom traditions, and states of consciousness. Presented by British actor and writer John Cleese and hosted by author and spiritual seeker Phil Cousineau, this unique, critically-acclaimed series features renowned experts such as Deepak Chopra, Karen Armstrong, Robert Thurman, Riane Eisler, and many others. Mixing evocative film segments with deep discussion, Global Spirit takes viewers on a mind and soul-expanding journey, exploring the relationships between ancient wisdom traditions, diverse belief systems, world religions, metaphysics and modern science.”
Cleese calls the show The First Internal Travel Series and warns you that taking this trip just might change your life. The most recent episode was entitled “The Shaman, The Spirit Healer and the Earth.” It aired last Sunday (8/16).  The guests were “Uncle” Angaangaq, an Eskimo-Kalaalit shaman, healer, and carrier of the Qilaut drum and Flordemayo, a curandera espirtu, or traditional healer, who was born in Nicaragua and has Mayan ancestors.
During this episode, “Uncle” Angaangaq referred to the longest most complicated journey a person can take is the trip between the head and the heart. A wonderful sentiment.
I believe I’m listening to the sounds of nature’s silence with my heart. I listen to the sounds of humanity with my head. Listening with my heart makes all the difference.
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 Aug 2015
Copyright 2015

PS: [If you are interested in checking this out, go to   and click on “Programs.”]

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Talking or Listening – Praying or Meditating

Step Eleven of the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous states: “[We] Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
Michael Z, who publishes a weekly message entitled “Wisdom of the Rooms” [], discussed Step 11. "For a long time I wondered what the difference between prayer and meditation was, and then I heard this quote. [Prayer is talking to God; Meditation is listening for His answer.] While it immediately made sense, there were important distinctions I soon had to learn. In the beginning my prayers were all about what I wanted to see happen for me and other people. I was busy telling God what to do. "Please let me get that job"; "Help my friend get better"; "Don't let me lose it/her/that." It took me many years to realize that God's will for my life and others far exceeded my limited vision and best intentions.
‘After years of developing faith through experience, I finally saw the wisdom in the second part of step 11: "… praying only for the knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out." That knowledge is the answer I listen for in meditation, and my faith today comes from the understanding that God's will is always the best for myself and others. And what a load off my shoulders that is.
“Today I sincerely pray for the knowledge of God's will, and I listen for the best ways to carry that out.”
Even with all my seminary training, I, too, had much the same difficulty when dealing with the eleventh step. My prayers were also about wanting God to do what I wanted – “Please let me …; Help my friend …; Don't let me lose …. Oh! and by the way, I’ll abide with whatever You decide.”
There was a fellow in the Program who used to proudly announce that God had answered every one of his prayers – every one! “Of course,” he went on, “99.9% of His answers were ‘No.’” We all would laugh, but how absolutely correct he was!
I’ve heard fundamentalists decry the use of meditation because it violates some spiritual rule that would offend God. It’s evil, satanic, or the devil in sheep’s clothing they would say. I’ve heard them say the same thing about Yoga. Fear. That’s all it is. A fundamental faith based on fear, yet fear is the opposite of Faith.
A Course in Miracles (ACIM) deals with this issue by making it very clear that what we need to do is very, very little. It is basically just to be willing to see things differently – to see with the Holy Spirit’s vision rather than with our physical egoic eyes. The physical eyes are designed only to “see” the 3-D world of our own perception. They cannot “see” the True Spiritual Reality of the Love of God, which is all there is!
To see with the Holy Spirit’s eyes is not to “see” at all. It is to have vision. We just have to have the willingness to want that. That’s all, folks – as Porky Pig used to say at the end of one of his cartoons.
That’s also all that is needed to learn to meditate in order to hear the voice of God for you. Many people desire to meditate and end up doing a form of contemplation. They read a verse of scripture or some other inspiring thought and then focus on that for a bit. That is contemplation. It has its place and can be very helpful. But it’s not meditation.
Others believe that meditation is totally emptying your mind of all thoughts. Perhaps experienced Hindu gurus can accomplish this. I can’t and never have been able to. When I try, all I am focusing on is how busy my mind really is. I end up fighting with myself trying to not think of the many voices I hear. I used to try to say to myself as I meditated, “Thank you for sharing” every time a stray thought came to my attention. At the end of the 30-minutes, I realized all I was doing was repeating “Thank you for sharing,” “Thank you for sharing,” “Thank you for sharing,” “Thank you for sharing.” Needless to say, I did not feel rejuvenated or rested or calm or peaceful after a meditation like this.
Willingness. Willingness to see things differently. Willingness to see with God’s vision. Willingness to hear what God has to say. For that to happened I need to simply be quiet and listen for His whispers. As I’ve said before in these messages, it is like learning to distinguish my children’s cries – understanding a cry of pain from a cry of anger from a cry of boredom/frustration or from a cry of illness. I don’t know how I did it but I did. I can listen to a special song I like, even though I’m in a crowded room with many voices. I can sort of hear the people (at least enough to be polite) while I’m really tuned in to the music I want to hear – the 2nd movement of Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto, for example – that’s playing in the background.
We are all very mentally lazy and we need to train our minds more. We need to be able to listen for the still, small whispers of God. If it’s a “loud” voice I hear, I know it’s of my ego. It’s Felix. And Felix can speak with many voices all at once. They are all loud. Spirit’s voice never is.
AA old-timers define the difference between prayer and meditation: Prayer is talking to God; Meditation is listening for His answer.
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 Aug 2015
Copyright 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015

Growing Love or Growing Fear

At my last AA meeting I shared about my experience with one of the promises of this effective 12-Step program – namely that I would come to trust the intuitive understanding of how to handle situations that used to baffle me. About the time I had nine or so months of sobriety I had begun to deal with the Fourth Step: “… a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
As I progressed in composing and completing my moral inventory, I began to realize – as most do – that in situations where I had been hurt, angered, or filled with resentments that there were parts of that for which I was responsible. In any situation that upsets me I have contributed something and I have to ferret that out.
This process of doing a moral inventory reminds me a lot of Maritime Law. When two ships collide both captains are held responsible – even if the “split” is 98% to 2%. The maritime rules for avoiding a collision list 8-10 steps, to be done in order, that a captain is to progress through to swerve or alter course to avoid an accident. However, the very last rule states: “If all the above has failed in the avoidance of an impending collision, abandon ALL THESE STEPS and DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO TO AVOID THIS ACCIDENT.” Since, of course, an accident occurred, both captains are held responsible.
Now, when I am resentful or upset, I look for my part in the situation, rather than keeping my focus on how much I’ve been hurt, or angered, or upset. In some way I have contributed to the whole mess I am in. By concentrating on my contribution to the chaos, anger, resentment, or confusion, I am not paying any attention to the other people (and my perceived judgment of what they did or didn’t do or say). By focusing on me I am learning about me. I am learning how to deal with me. I am learning that the problem with my perception of the world is me. Not you. Not the Republicans. Not ISIS/ISIL. Not the housing market. Not the bankers. Me!
When I have done that, more often than not, the situation has melted away. I have not stuck my nose into other’s business because I have been focused on myself. I have not stirred up the hornet’s nest because I was dealing with my own expanding self-knowledge and my growth.
Where, then, did the situation go? What happened? By doing nothing relative to the situation I had perceived, the emotional reactions I had been having (or the emotional involvement I was invested with) simply had gone away.
I began to realize that one of the promises had occurred: “…We will intuitively know how to handle situations, which used to baffle us….” When I don’t know what to do, I generally do nothing about the situation because I’m focused on discovering the source of my emotional reaction. If I feel I’m supposed to do something, I deal with those feelings in me rather than trying to do the something I had thought was required. By the time I have “figured out” what was really going on within me, the situation has melted away.
It seems to be always about my thoughts and/or my emotional investment. Inevitably, I end up by remembering statements in A Course in Miracles (ACIM) that distill the issue: In the final analysis, every thought I think is either contributing to growing Love or it is contributing to growing Fear.
If I am growing Love, I will see Love and I will feel Peace. Why would I want to do anything else?
Why would 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.

#2 Aug 2015

Copyright 2015