Saturday, December 31, 2016

Do Not Forget the HOW in 2017

Happy New Year!
Very early in AA I learned about the importance of HOW – to be Honest, Open-minded and Willing. I remember asking questions of members in the fellowship about bosses, children, family members, and questions about how to handle myself. For some inexplicable reason (that I now attribute to my higher power), the questions and issues I discussed were done often in an embarrassingly honest and open way. I didn’t embellish or minimize. Then, I really listened to the answers I got. Rather than trying to explain how different I was and offering all sorts of reasons their suggestion(s) did not really apply to me, I took their experiences seriously and was willing to apply their suggestions to myself.
It worked. I made better decisions, thought through issues in a more reasoned manner, acted in better ways and, voilà, got better results. As I progressed in the development of my sobriety, I watched as others, many of whom had real severe issues with being uncomfortably honest and open with people, did the same thing and began getting better. Their level of comfort in honestly sharing improved, as did their issues or questions – and the answers they received improved as well.
A Course In Miracles (ACIM) encourages us to do much the same. In the most recent issue (Jan/Feb 2017) of The Holy Encounter, Beverly Hutchinson McNeff, the co-founder of the Miracle Distribution Center, wrote an article entitled “Make This Year Different…” In part it reads:
“ A Course in Miracles invites us to ‘make this year different by making it all the same.’ It asks us to let all our relationships be made holy for us. This is its advice on how to make the year different from all others: to consistently allow the Holy Spirit to heal our relationships for us.
“You may think: ‘What are you talking about? All my relationships are just fine.’ But let’s remember, we wouldn’t be here if we were truly healed. We can all benefit by allowing the Holy Spirit into our minds and letting Him do the work.
“So this year instead of resisting healing by saying I can’t do it … it’s too hard … I’m not spiritual enough … there’s nothing to heal…. Let’s just invite Him in. Let’s step back from what we think we know and become comfortable with the presence of God, the presence of love that only wants our happiness and healing.
Mots of the time we don’t know why we’re unhappy, depressed, or anxious. Don’t let that stop you from inviting in the Holy Spirit’s presence. He knows how to help even if you don’t. Your understanding is not necessary for Him to work; only your willingness is.” [Miracle Distribution Center, Anaheim, CA, [] p.11]
I don’t know about you, but I think this is a pretty good New Year’s resolution.
As I’ve stated before, “I have to understand, on a visceral level, who the “Me” or “I” really is when I am speaking or thinking. The “I” that says to myself, “I really need a newer, more reliable car” is a different “I” than the one that says to Spirit, “I can’t do this anymore; help me perceive things the way You see them.”
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening to me and getting to know me – warts and all. As always, feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.

#4 Dec 2016
Copyright 2016

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Form and Content and Christmas: A Daily Tension

I received a comment and question from a subscriber arising from a message earlier this month [Msg-1-Dec-2106, The Resonance and Danger of Ultra Right-Wing Political Movements]. It is worth repeating here:
Hello, Don: The thing that puzzles me on the subject of your current essay on right-wing politics is this: The Iranians, for example, are allowed to keep their culture (except for the globalization effect of the Internet, perhaps); the Japanese, everyone agrees, should keep their culture. These are considered 'good ideas' . . . but the British, well, not so much. They should take in as many immigrants as possible, until the British culture has become so watered down it is no longer in existence. Or the Germans. I heard a story of a resort town in Germany, perhaps Bad Godesberg, in which one can no longer find a German restaurant . . . they've all been taken over by Middle Eastern culture. . . . How is that fair or right or just? And when protests are made for lower immigration levels, and to preserve one's own culture (this only happens in the West), people are called 'right-wing extremists' . . . These knee-jerk liberal expressions, including 'globalization is all good', develop a hollow ring after a while. There are parts of East Vancouver, British Columbia, or Richmond, its suburban neighbour, where a Westerner is an anomaly. In Richmond, citizens have to fight to have street and store signs appear in English. . . . How is this 'good'? . . . If you could be so good as to explain this to me.
Thank you for your comments – very astute and very well-expressed.
I am trying not to confuse "Form" with "Content." The spiritual is focused on content. My ego-mind is focused on form. The issue for me about lowering immigration, as the example you mention, is the fear that lies behind it - fear of losing control, fear of losing status/money/position/identity, fear of the "different," etc. Fear, more than anything else, will diminish any spiritual sense of light, love, inclusiveness, or Oneness, which is what I am seeking for me.
The "Form" this fear takes is almost immaterial - to Spirit, a hateful thought, a hateful word and a hateful action are all equivalent. Not so in the world of form. We live in both: spirit/content and ego/form. There is a quote dealing with the constant tension between being IN the world without being OF the world. What you've described is this same tension. Where I draw lines differentiating between Form and Content and you draw them will be different - we just need to respect and honor that between us. This is not a “once and done” kind of thing. It is a daily tension. Where I draw those lines differs some times between today and where I drew them yesterday. When someone expresses a rightness/wrongness about a “Form” issue, I try to focus on the fear in them and, when I do that, I am reminded of my own fear - so I can begin to relate to that person in terms of Content (in this case Fear) - rather than arguing over egoic manifestations of Form.
I hope this helps.
We are beginning Christmas week where we celebrate the “form” of Jesus’s birth. Exactly how we celebrate that form varies greatly among cultures and has morphed greatly over the centuries. The “content” of His coming is to help us remember that we have never separated from God. Our egoic perceptions that would have us believe we are sinful creatures and deserve God’s wrath are just that: perceptions or illusions. Jesus, the man, fully understood that and fully lived by the Spirit.
So can we – and that is the real meaning of the Christmas of Spirit.
The Christ is the single Self that is shared by all the members of the Sonship – all of humanity. Collectively, we are the Son of God. The Christ does not refer specifically to Jesus. Jesus is simply one of these “members of the Sonship,” who has remembered and fully lived our shared identity. [ACIM: T-15.V.10:9-10 – “Those who are joined in Christ are in no way separate. For Christ is the Self the Sonship shares, as God shares His Self with Christ.”]
I want to take this opportunity to wish all readers of this message a Merry Christmas and a wonderfully happy, peaceful holiday season – Kwanzaa, Chanukah, or simply enjoying family and friends. [Muslims have a little difficulty with Christmas because they do not celebrate their prophets’ birthdays. Since they believe Jesus was a prophet, they don't celebrate. In western countries, their children, however, get caught up in Santa Claus, school closings, and other hoopla. It makes it difficult for them.]
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening to me and getting to know me – warts and all. As always, feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
There will be no message next week.

#3 Dec 2016

Copyright 2016

Saturday, December 10, 2016

How Is Peace Possible In This World?

There is a great deal of anxiety, doubt and fear following the election and watching Mr. Trump announce his pick for cabinet posts. A naturopathic healer we know, trust and refer to for assistance told my wife how many people she knows – from her own practice, as well as practices of other physicians, therapists and healers – that are suffering from this anxiety and the stress it causes: sleeplessness, digestive issues, heart palpitations, inability to focus on even routine tasks, etc. I, too, have noticed some of these symptoms.
Then, in our most recent weekly Course In Miracles (ACIM) meeting, we studied in the Manual for Teachers the 11th of 29 topics entitled. “How Is Peace Possible In This World.” That was associated with the Workbook lessons associated with topic 13: “What Is A Miracle.” These two selections blessed me right where I hurt. Perhaps they will bless you too.
Quotes from these passages follow, but the underlined emphases are mine:
1 This is a question everyone must ask. Certainly peace seems to be impossible here. Yet the Word of God promises other things that seem impossible, as well as this. His Word has promised peace. It has also promised that there is no death, that resurrection must occur, and that rebirth is man's inheritance. The world you see cannot be the world God loves, and yet His Word assures us that He loves the world. God's Word has promised that peace is possible here, and what He promises can hardly be impossible. But it is true that the world must be looked at differently, if His promises are to be accepted. What the world is, is but a fact. You cannot choose what this should be. But you can choose how you would see it. Indeed, you must choose this.
2 Again we come to the question of judgment. This time ask yourself whether your judgment or the Word of God is more likely to be true. For they say different things about the world, and things so opposite that it is pointless to try to reconcile them. God offers the world salvation; your judgment would condemn it. God says there is no death; your judgment sees but death as the inevitable end of life. God's Word assures you that He loves the world; your judgment says it is unlovable. Who is right? For one of you is wrong. It must be so.
3 The text explains that the Holy Spirit is the Answer to all problems you have made. These problems are not real, but that is meaningless to those who believe in them. And everyone believes in what he made, for it was made by his believing it. Into this strange and paradoxical situation—one without meaning and devoid of sense, yet out of which no way seems possible—God has sent His Judgment to answer yours. Gently His Judgment substitutes for yours. And through this substitution is the un-understandable made understandable. How is peace possible in this world? In your judgment it is not possible, and can never be possible. But in the Judgment of God what is reflected here is only peace.
4 Peace is impossible to those who look on war. Peace is inevitable to those who offer peace. How easily, then, is your judgment of the world escaped! It is not the world that makes peace seem impossible. It is the world you see that is impossible. Yet has God's Judgment on this distorted world redeemed it and made it fit to welcome peace. And peace descends on it in joyous answer. Peace now belongs here, because a Thought of God has entered…. Now is the question different. It is no longer, "Can peace be possible in this world?" but instead, "Is it not impossible that peace be absent here?"
The Workbook For Students, which contains 365 lessons, is broken into two parts. Part II is organized around 14 Questions. The 13th Question is “What is a Miracle.” Lessons 341-350 expand on that question, which address this stress and anxiety we all may be experiencing.
13. What is a Miracle?
1 A miracle is a correction. It does not create, nor really change at all. It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false. It undoes error, but does not attempt to go beyond perception, nor exceed the function of forgiveness….
2 A miracle contains the gift of grace, for it is given and received as one. And thus it illustrates the law of truth the world does not obey, because it fails entirely to understand its ways. A miracle inverts perception, which was upside down before, and thus it ends the strange distortions that were manifest. Now is perception open to the truth. Now is forgiveness seen as justified.
3 Forgiveness is the home of miracles. The eyes of Christ deliver [miracles] to all they look upon in mercy and in love. Perception stands corrected in His sight, and what was meant to curse has come to bless. Each lily of forgiveness offers all the world the silent miracle of love….
4 The miracle is taken first on faith, because to ask for it implies the mind has been made ready to conceive of what it cannot see and does not understand. Yet faith will bring its witnesses to show that what it rested on is really there. And thus the miracle will justify your faith in it, and show it rested on a world more real than what you saw before; a world redeemed from what you thought was there.
5 Miracles fall like drops of healing rain from Heaven on a dry and dusty world, where starved and thirsty creatures come to die. Now they have water. Now the world is green. And everywhere the signs of life spring up, to show that what is born can never die, for what has life has immortality.
Subsequent lesson titles [344-347] elaborate on this Truth:
344. Today I learn the law of love; that what I give my brother is my gift to me.
345. I offer only miracles today, for I would have them be returned to me.
346. Today the peace of God envelops me, and I forget all things except His Love.
347. Anger must come from judgment. Judgment is the weapon I would use against myself, to keep the miracle away from me.
I hope this helps you as it helped me.
As I’ve stated before, “I have to understand, on a visceral level, who the “Me” or “I” really is when I am speaking or thinking. The “I” that says to myself, “I really need a newer, more reliable car” is a different “I” than the one that says to Spirit, “I can’t do this anymore; help me perceive things the way You see them.”
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening to me and getting to know me – warts and all. As always, feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.

#2 Dec 2016

Copyright 2016

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Resonance and Danger of Ultra Right-Wing Political Movements

I have written earlier in November about keeping informed and aware, as well as maintaining a check on fear and anger by practicing acceptance, which is awareness without fear. Fear is a terribly powerful emotion that is absolutely from our short-term-focused egoic minds. Fear, more than anything else, will cover up the natural awareness of our Oneness, which is the natural state of our spiritual Selves.
This message is to provide you with some food for thought in order to assist you in dealing with your fear of what might happen under Ultra Right-Wing political movements across the globe, including under Trump.
Let’s start with a definition of right-wing politics from Wikipedia and a few other sources: Far-right politics often involve a focus on tradition, real or imagined, as opposed to policies and customs that are regarded as reflective of the current situation. Many far-right ideologies have a disregard or disdain for egalitarianism [believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights], if not overt support for social hierarchy, elements of social conservatism and opposition to most forms of “liberal/progressive” political action.
The term “Right-Wing Politics” is commonly used to describe ultra conservative populist ideologies known for extreme nationalism and opposition to immigration, as well as … fascism, … and other ideologies or organizations that feature extreme nationalist, chauvinist, xenophobic, racist, or reactionary views, which can lead to oppression and violence against groups of people based on their supposed inferiority, or their perceived threat to the nation, state or ultraconservative traditional social institutions.
Marine Le Pen leads the National Front, a socially conservative, nationalist political party in France.  Frauke Petry is the leader of the rightwing populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in Germany. Britain First is led by Paul Golding. The intimidation tactics used by the organization include “mosque invasions”, where uniformed members hand anti-Islam leaflets to worshippers, and “Christian Patrols” outside mosques which stir up hatred and often end in violence. Most of the more-right leaders are not that rigid, such as Michael Howard, Iain Duncan Smith, and Nigel Farage. And now, of course we have Donald Trump here is the USA, who is excitedly supported by all sorts of ultra right-wing groups who find his message very reassuring.
What all these groups seem to have in common, within a whole spectrum of varying degrees, are distinct strands of very extreme social conservatism, extreme nationalism, chauvinism, and xenophobic, racist, or reactionary views of social values and of government at all levels.
Underneath all this, I believe, is a combination of frustration-anger-fear-disillusionment as a result of not “fitting in” with the new, emerging world many people perceive – and perceive with fear and apprehension. This is a global phenomenon.  This is not unique to the U.S. What is happening in Europe is happening here. People feel left out and overlooked because they have been left out and overlooked. [I am not referring to people who have been victimized by war or cheated by illegal activities, or destroyed by criminal acts.]
Another common thread the disaffected populace fails to understand is that their feeling of being “left out” is a function of their own refusal to adjust. So, rather than looking inward and dealing with the problem of their desire to maintain their cultural-social-political-religious traditions, they want someone to explain why it seems the world has gone off and left them high and dry. In short, the world is moving forward while they are steadfastly standing still. The result? They are left high and dry.
Any politician who speaks the language of their fear and anxiety will generate an emotional connection with these folks and will be rewarded with their trust – and their votes. These politicians also find themselves in a position to focus this emotional connection on whatever target(s) they choose.
That is, in my opinion, where the danger comes in. This is where we must be aware.
A positive political leader will attempt to focus this emotional connection on our commonality or Oneness and provide distinct, doable avenues of action to bring these disaffected folks into this new global community we now live in. The guiding principle is usually some sort of message of: “a rising tide will raise all boats” – not just a select few.
However, most politicians operate in a shortsighted, just-get-elected mode. They will use the emotional connection they have formed to focus their audience on whatever the politician senses motivates them: anti-immigrant nationalism, continued male dominance (it’s okay for men to have affairs, but not women; it’s okay for women to undergo difficulties in obtaining contraceptives to control their reproductive health, while ALL men easily can obtain Viagra to enhance their sexual performance – with whom?), and other reactionary targets – e.g., gays, women’s health decisions, law and order (with or without justice); building on the myth of the universal principles of Christianity (defined, of course by the biblical literalists) – as opposed to Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, humanitarianism or altruism, etc..
We can understand the frustration and fear of these many global citizens.  We can accept them as they are by being aware without fear. We also must be actively alert, aware, and informed as to where politicians are directing their audience to focus their stoked up and enflamed anger and fear. That’s what we can do.
To hate haters simply increases hate. To fear the fearers increases fear. To do nothing increases apathy, which creates a vacuum that will be filled by any organized fear-based activity. By not succumbing to our fear, we allow our spiritual light to shine. By fostering acceptance – being aware without fear – we are building the tolerance necessary for the emerging Oneness our globalization is fostering.
I hope this helps.
As I’ve stated before, “I have to understand, on a visceral level, who the “Me” or “I” really is when I am speaking or thinking. The “I” that says to myself, “I really need a newer, more reliable car” is a different “I” than the one that says to Spirit, “I can’t do this anymore; help me perceive things the way You see them.”
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening to me and getting to know me – warts and all. As always, feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.

#1 Dec 2016

Copyright 2016