Thoughts2

There’s a lot of buzz these days, and  from many sources, about humanity’s current move to a higher level of consciousness, to a realization of oneness between each of us and all of creation. Or, as the Bhavad Gita puts it:

“He who sees that the Lord of all is ever the same in all that is — immortal in the field of mortality — he sees the truth. And when a man sees that the God in himself is the same God in all that is, he hurts not himself by hurting others. Then he goes, indeed, to the highest path.”

May we all choose the highest path in every thought, word and deed …

Namaste ….

 

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Thoughts

I have a huge collection of superb quotations I’ve collected over the years that I plan to share on here … Feel free to comment, add your thoughts. “Intent is a force that exists in the universe. When sorcerers (those … Continue reading

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The Window

Today let’s talk about “The Window”:

Eric Butterworth is the late minister of Unity Center of Practical Christianity in NYC (for over 35 years), and was, in my opinion, a leading spokesman for Unity & New Thought principles.

In one of his books, Butterworth has given us a great visual that pictures Jesus’s life and teachings and what has subsequently happened to the message he taught, the life he lived as a demonstration for us. This is my retelling of Butterworth’s story:

Over time mankind had built a barrier, a wall between him, between her, and God. We could no longer see God as who he really was, which meant we could no longer see ourselves as we really are. Jesus, through his life and teachings, broke through that wall, giving us a window through which we could, like him, have a relationship with God and know who we really are … expressions of God … of Spirit … in this world. His followers grasped the truth for themselves, through watching Jesus and hearing what he taught …. Through looking through the window that Jesus was.

Now, the gospels seem to indicate that the disciples were pretty slow in understanding — just like me! But, as they… and others of his followers … continued to tell and retell Jesus’s story, they were able to take people to the window and let those others also see through the barrier with the aid of the life and teachings of Jesus.

But, as time passed mankind constructed a beautiful frame around the window … next we replaced that frame with one of gold, then added gems and precious stones. Eventually we began worshipping the window itself … actually the window frame, putting alters in front of it, lighting candles, building huge buildings to house the frame. In fact, the frame had become so beautiful, so ornate that we could hardly see through the window at all, even if we wanted to.

So here we are today, instead of remembering the teachings of Jesus and his life, we created beautiful stories, we call him God, we call him divine. We created creeds, hymns, even complete services worshipping the frame we’d built.

[There’s a Zen illustration that speaks of a finger pointing at the moon. The moon is to be the object of our attention, not the finger !! In the same way, Jesus can be thought of as the finger pointing to God/ Creator/Spirit, etc. We’re to focus on God as the object of our attention, and not on Jesus, the “pointer t0” God.]

Eric Butterworth called it the religion ABOUT Jesus, instead of a religion OF Jesus … Let me include what he’s written on this …

“Theology, the religion about Jesus, talks of the Divinity of Jesus and that we must believe in him to be saved. On the other hand, the religion of Jesus, as found in his teachings, emphasizes the Divinity of man,
and that if you believe in your innate unity with God, your contact [with] a Dynamic Power, then

  • [get this …] you are one with flow of the means by which you can change your life.

This is the fundamental that I think has been grossly understated, if not lost. I believe that this is what Jesus was all about.“

  • Powerful,
    huh?
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Journey Outward

I’d like to shift the conversation …

Most of the posts here … and my life … have reflected a “Journey Inward” toward a deeper connection with the divine, enlightenment, whatever you wish to call it. That’s a laudable, valuable goal … many of us wish to have a deeper connection, a deeper meaning to our lives, a connection with the All.

But, it seems to me that, at a certain point, the Journey Inward “should” turn outward, to a “Journey Outward,” if you will.

Just take a look at the life of Jesus: we have a great gap in the gospel record … one gospel does tell a story about him at the age of 12, but then there’s only the beginning of his outward ministry. And for the rest of his short life he roamed the countryside with his followers, teaching those who would listen.

It’s also worth noting that much of his criticism was directed at the religious institution of his day. He is especially critical of the more obviously-devout followers of the rules of the Judaism of that time.

Over and over again he echoes many of the Jewish prophets of the past in their message that God cares little about prayers, about offerings and sacrifices. What he does care about, according to those prophets and Jesus, is how we treat others. And their particular emphasis is on how we treat the “widows and orphans,” the most vulnerable people of our world,

So … what does that mean for us in the 21st Century? It would seem to me that at the very least, a nation calling itself a “Christian Nation,” continually saying “God Bless America,” with religious and Christian symbols and platitudes all around, would also show some greater commitment to Jesus’s “windows and orphans” than it does to making war and creating tax and spending policies that benefit some group or groups at the expense of those very same widows and orphans!

That’s the macro-view of the current national emphasis, it seems to me. In a bizarre turn of events, we’ve made selfishness a virtue and aid for the “widows and orphans” an “entitlement” program that needs to be purged from our language and our national budget!

But, and perhaps even more importantly, there’s the micro-view that shifts the focus to you and me. What are the actions of  those who are believers of the message and ministry of the man called Jesus? How do we shift … or include … an outward dimension to our life of devotion and worship?

I believe we need to find a “bridge” that will connect the two emphases. Jesus’s life included some quite significant time in prayer, and his teachings a focus on aligning his life with God’s priorities with its emphasis on those in need.

It’s time to begin building bridges …

(More to come on that, I hope …!)

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from Richard Bach’s “Illusions”

One of my favorite books: “Illusions” is not about a river, or these creatures, but it is about illusion and reality, and questions of which is which … and how do we tell? This story is a great introduction …

 

Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river.

The current of the river swept silently over them all – young and old, rich and poor, good
and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth.

But one creature said at last, “I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.”

The other creatures laughed and said, “Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will
throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than
boredom!”

But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath, did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free of the
bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, “See a miracle! A
creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all.”

And the one carried in the current said, “I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this
adventure.”

But they cried the more, “Savior!” all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they
looked again he was gone, and they were left making legends of a Savior.

….

This story sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Also, some thoughts arise for me:

  1. What is it that I cling to?
  2. What would it take for me to let go?
  3. How can I learn to ignore well-meaning advice to continue clinging?

Do I believe that the river [life, the Universe, God] delights in lifting me, us, free of our
clinging places? Perhaps it is true that it’s in the journey, in trusting “the river” that I can let go of this place, this life of clinging. That I can indeed go with the flow, not knowing where it may lead? The alternative … see the prior post!

 

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Powerful YOU!

I recently saw this quote from Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech, where, he, in
turn, quoted Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful
beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most threatens us. We ask our- selves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

“It’s not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. And as we are all liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So, here’s the challenge for ;you and me during this next week … Let’s “Act As If” we already know that we are “powerful beyond measure,” and by so acting, we will liberate ourselves and the world!

 

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Let the Dead Bury the Dead …

This verse is found in both Matthew and Luke of the Bible, but what did Jesus really mean? He’s conversing with a would-be follower, who tells Jesus he first needs to bury his father before following him.

Is Jesus telling the person … and us … to ignore our obligation to family?
Remember, at another time and place he tells us he’s come to set child against
parent … !

And, for the more literal among us, how can the dead bury the dead?

Jesus had a knack for these powerful little one-liners – as well as the longer parables –
that led to something deeper than just the surface meaning.

Of course, people have been reporting and interpreting his teachings for 2,000 years, now. But, the traditional religions have usually interpreted Jesus’ life and teachings primarily out of their position that he was the “only begotten Son of God.”

But here he may be pointing to something quite different … what if Jesus was really directing our attention to the example of his life, and to a special relationship with the divine, with God, a relationship that formed the core belief, the guiding principle, of his works, his actions … his life! And, what if he’s telling us, showing us, how to be “the living” instead of “the dead?”

I claim no special position here … I’m just (?) inquisitive. In fact, I, too, have my excuses for not becoming a follower of Jesus. But, I’m growing, changing into more of a serious seeker, perhaps.

So … “Let the Dead” … could mean that, if I’m serious about examining my reasons for not becoming a follower, some of those reasons have more to do with my own excuses, even with my perceived “obligations” to family, to society, even to my church!  It appears that Jesus is cautioning the would-be follower — that’s you and me! –telling us to become aware that many of those obligations actually exist in the “land of the dead.” I suspect that the “land of the dead” is in stark contrast with his frequent references to the Kingdom of God. Does that mean that that much of our existence in this life, including this sense of obligation could be called the Kingdom of the Dead!

Following Jesus, really following him into a relationship with Spirit, or God, or
whatever you wish to call him, would then be the here-and-now ”Kingdom of Life.”

Near the end of the Movie, Hook, the Maggie Smith character asks Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams, if his adventures are over, now. Peter responds with something like, “To live, to really live … now there’s the great adventure.” I suspect that’s what Jesus is challenging us to do … to really live!

Carpe Diem !!!

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What’s Your Key Life Principle?

Some (many!) years ago we took a class entitled Religion 101 or such.
Wayne, the class’ teacher, posed the question that is the title of this post:
“What is your key life principle?”

Some of us thought it would be “Love” (After all, this is a church group,
right?) But Wayne rejected that term, reasoning that the very word,
“love” has been so overused as to become virtually meaningless. In
other words, it’s just too difficult to clearly define what the term means,
even when used in a context. The very word has become too encumbered with our
varied usages: of romantic love, with a mother’s love, or the love we have for
a friend, perhaps even the love of chocolate, or perhaps the biological
attraction we have for another … sex appeal, in other words.

Wayne instead proposed truth, or perhaps honesty as THE key life principle. As we
thought about, then discussed the notion of truth as the primary guiding
principle, there was, of course, a lot of agreement, disagreement, and quite
different viewpoints that were aired. Eventually we began discovering the very
real difficulties of living a life of complete honesty. We live in a society
that doesn’t seem to value honesty very highly at all … just read any daily
paper or watch TV news. In the small acts of living as well as in the more
public acts, we humans vioate a truth principle all the time! Sometimes it’s
because lying can give us an advantage, or perhaps save us an uncomfortable
consequence. We even have those dilemmas where being less than honest .. ok,
lying .. in order to save another the pain of an honest response That’s quite
complicated, isn’t it. Even assuming our motives are pure when we make such a
choice, doesn’t that really mean that we’ve acted out of love, and are
therefore using it as our guiding principle at least in this case?

Steven Covey had his Seven Habits, the Bible has The Ten Commandments
(reduced to two by Jesus), and there are a plethora of rules, regulations,
laws, various holy books, commands, etc that many of us use, or at least try to
use, as our guiding principle. From my observations of myself and others,
though, most of us are pretty vague about a key life principle.

I suspect, however, that we’re actually living from our principle, acknowledged or not, in
everything we do and say. After all, there’s a reason for the old truism, “actions speak louder than words.” Who was it that said, “what you do speaks so loud that I can’t hear what you say”?

I guess I’m saying that we all live by our own key life principles, whether
acknowledged or not. Actually, that should read, whether acknowledged by us …
the world around us certainly knows our principles by our actions!

In my reading of the New Testament’s Gospels, Jesus was pretty consistent. And his views
don’t match up very well with those we profess … our our actions profess … in our lives and in our world today.

As one example, Jesus warns again and again of the dangers of the corrupting
influence of wealth. Yet today there are many, many preachers and teachers pushing prosperity principles. We may say that our emphasis is primarily prosperity in all aspects of life. Agreed, thinking positively rather than living in a depressed state is certainly preferable for a “good life.” But, the first of Jesus’ two commandments was “Love God.”
Or, shift your focus from the “here and now” of daily lving to the”here and now” of living in God’s kingdom right here, right now, on earth.

And then there was his second commandment: “Love your neighbor.” Over and over
again Jesus criticizes those whose personal life principles did not extend to those around them, and particularly to the poor among us.

Perhaps we could consider those two commands to be the Key Life Principles: first, love God, and second, love your neighbor. Jesus went on to say that those two principles were the summation of all of the prior attempts to regulate behavior. I’d suggest they are also the key principles of living “the good life” in the 21st Century, also!

Namaste

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Paradigm Shifting

Paradigm Shift: Now there’s a term that has become strongly entrenched in our language. Thomas S. Kuhn may not have coined the phrase, but when he used it in his 1996 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the term quickly became a part of our ordinary language.

Although the term is now commonly used, Kuhn specifically applied it to explain the progress of new ideas in the physical sciences. The general public has long viewed scientific knowledge as progressing in a steady path as new discoveries come on the scene. In other words, if scientific knowledge could be charted on an x-y graph, we’d expect to find a steady upward slope, reflecting the steady growth of scientific knowledge throughout history.

Kuhn’s book countered that “steady growth” view. His findings show that, for most of
history, science [read religion, social science, education … you name it!] would instead show up as a flat line on that graph. The information of any of those particular disciplines is typically taught to new scientists, or new preachers, social scientists, educators, even new teachers in our schools and universities, and then it’s applied as “the truth” by these new scientists, etc as they do their work. This body of facts, the supposed “truth” exists in a kind-of present time paradigm. But new information, new discoveries, new theories continue to bubble up beneath that present time reality until fhey finally reach a critical
mass, at which time the discipline goes into a crisis mode. The initial reaction by elder scientists, church leaders, or educators is to push back against the new. Eventually, however, the massive amount of new data forces a paradigm shift, and leads to a new way of thinking about that particular discipline.

It’s an unfortunate reality that it usually takes the younger generation of practitioners to fully understand and implement the change. Kuhn observed that “the transfer of allegiance from [an old] paradigm to [a new one] is a conversion experience and cannot be forced.” Even Darwin understood that, “I by no means expect to convince experienced naturalists … I look with confidence to the future – to young and rising naturalists.” Max Planck in his Scientific Autobiography observed “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

I want to resist those observations, possibly because I could now be one of those “elder
practitioners,” myself! Perhaps there’s some hope, though, in Kuhn’s observation of a “conversion experience” as key to accepting a new paradigm. Yet, Kuhn also observes that the “transfer of allegiance … cannot be forced.”

I also suspect that conversion experiences are somewhat uncommon. And, I suspect I’d tend to view my defense of the old paradigm as a defense of “principles.” And, one doesn’t want to compromise on “principles,” does one?

It is interesting that life on earth is and has always been changing, and yet we humans  resist change, we want things the way they have been. Often, we even wish for things to be as they were in “the good old days,” which, if we’re honest, appear good only in retrospect.

So, you and I should begin to make the shift to considering new ideas more openly. If I’m
honest, I know that there’s very little in the world that couldn’t stand some … or a lot! .. of improvement.

I’ll confess that I genuinely want things to be “better.” So, perhaps a valuable tool for me (and you!?) is to remember Gandhi’s statement to:

Be the change you want to see in the world !!

 

 

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Fingerprints of God

It’s been a while, but …

I don’t know who recommended this book, but I’ve had it for a while. Then a few days ago it “called” to me from my bookshelf. What a great read!

Remember when the ”What the Bleep …” movie was all the rage a few years ago? “The Bleep …” used scientists and others to relate to the rest of us, the non-scientists, the incredible discoveries now being made in science, and more particularly, in the study of “the very small,” or in quantum physics. The Bleep’s scientists and other “players” did an excellent job of explaining the ramifications of just a few of the  discoveries from experiments in the emerging world of quantum physics, Those discoveries led some of the Bleeps players to imply, if not outright state, that quantum theory just could prove to be one of the paths that could lead to the healing of the great divide that has  separated science and spirituality for the last 500 years.

Now comes along the book, Fingerprints of God. The author, Barbara Bradley Hagerty has written “Fingerprints” as a trained reporter from very-extensive research and interviews. Ms Hagerty, an award-winning religious correspondent for NPR, is an investigative reporter in the best sense of the word. She has interviewed scientists, medical professionals, and ordinary people like you and me to develop this book. Although Ms Hagerty was was raised in a spiritual setting, it was her own later life experiences that led her on this personal journey. To a large degree, the book is a journal of a personal pilgrimage by her, as she reevaluated her own beliefs. Along the way, her journey also led  her to discover if — or how! – she was to think anew about religion and about God.

Her story is a fascinating blending of a reporters story about some of the current scientific research by pioneering brain/mind scientists and the experiences, the personal stories of individuals much like you and me as life brought them the experiences that led to new understandings about life and their place in it. Of course, it’s not only reporting; its also the story of Ms Hagerty’s personal pilgrimage to discover, or perhaps, to rediscover, her own belief system. It’s also interesting to note that many of these scientists and individuals were not, and for some, still are not religious in the traditional sense. Yet, there’s something that drives them to the very edge of science, where their discoveries and sometimes, the events of their lives, have resulted in incredible new discoveries about life, about mind, about spirit and the soul, and their — and our! — place in the universe.

It’s such a very good read that I hesitate to give away anything of the book itself … so, here are quotes from two other “fans” of the book:

“Barbara Bradley Hagerty has done something truly remarkable here. She has brought her considerable reporting skills and wonderfully wry writing to the question of who or what is God. By meticulously documenting scientific studies ;and interspersing them with the experiences of a number of individuals, including herself, she opens doors to those answers. Fingerprints of God is its own scientific and spiritual journey, one well worth taking.”                                                                                                                                                  — Cokie Roberts, News Analyst and Author of Ladies of Liberty

“What a book! The pages crackle with fresh insights into the nexus of faith and science. Striking just the right balance between skepticism and open-mindedness, Bradley makes for the perfect guide on this journey of discovery. Read this book. It’ll inform and entertain — and just might change the way you view the world.”                                             — Eric Weiner, Author of The Geography of Bliss

 

 

 

 

 

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