We Invoke the Sensual Wild

The dictionary and thesaurus define sensual as self-indulgent, sexual, animal, and carnal.  All of these qualities are taboo, frowned upon, and preached against in families, schools, and religious institutions.  So why are we invoking the sensual wild?

   Sensual has to do with the five senses, with the body-mind rather than the intellectual mind.  Therefore, the sensation and feeling nature of the body is considered unspiritual.  The gift of physicality is often said to be a punishment for wrongdoing in a past life, Adam and Eve’s sin, or something necessary to being alive but a hindrance for anyone seeking a relationship with the Creator.  So, if having a body is somehow gross and worldly why would Creator, the Divine Spirit of All Life, have given humans such a disadvantage?  After all, we could have remained disembodied spirits like angels.  But Divine Spirit gave humans an animal body, for our special friend, in order to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the natural world.  And because we have an animal body-friend we have a desire to procreate and experience the pleasures of sexual union.  But we also love to eat, move, sleep, and in other words, to do what the animals do.

ancienttravel  Ancient people gave thanks to Creator for life in a body and celebrated the seasons of that life from birth to childhood, to youth, to maturity, to old age and death.  They understood that if a thing was made by the Creator it must be good and sacred.

   Humans, despite our much-vaunted technology, cannot create life.  We cannot create trees, grass, stones, animals, ourselves, or any other totally natural phenomena.  We have learned to use what already exists in new and interesting ways and are still inventing and experimenting.  But many, if not most, of humankind, attempts to play god resulted in a mess.  Genetic modification without thought to the consequences comes to mind, species destruction, environmental damage, poison water, and climate change are all the result of human arrogance.

   Somewhere, back in time, about three thousand years ago, humans began to develop religious theories and ideals that negated tens of thousands of years of belief that all life was valuable and sacred.  Sensuality became licentious, lewd, and lustful.  Ceremonies celebrating procreation and fertility were deemed unspiritual and swinish.  Monogamy became God’s law so that men could be sure who had fathered their children.  Animals, land, the fruit of trees, and the grasses of the fields became property and were no longer sacred gifts of the Creator.  Sexual sharing became a commodity, and women, it was decided, needed to be controlled.  And after a while, women thought so too. download

   As we try to remember that all life is sacred and develop a desire to invoke the sensual wild we can begin by meditating with the five senses.  Our dharma recommends that we attempt to block out four of our senses as we practice with one of them.  Focusing on each of these gifts one at a time allows us to develop appreciation for our body and the experience each sense provides us.

Tasting our food brings gratitude for the many textures and flavors of those foods.  Truly listening to the sounds of the natural world, not just the noises we make, helps us hear the song of the Earth.  Taking the time to observe objects, movement, and color develops awareness and awakeness.  Paying attention to the textures of things and the sensations of cool, smooth, rough, hot, hard, and soft allows a sense of stillness and discernment normally missing in our busy lives.

   As we allow ourselves to explore our soft or hard animal body we begin to remember what the ancestors long ago understood.  The Earth changes and we change not only in our body but our emotions and thoughts, it is this ability to observe and totally experience those changes that allows us to open to the wild within.

An Earth Mother Story

 In the beginning, there was spirit, and out of the womb of that spirit, came the goddess Earth.  Formed by an ancient image, she was rounded with beautiful curves and luscious peaks.  She knew only of herself in that time and her beauty was a song to the stars that kept her company.  As she matured into maidenhood, she began to dream a dream.  She dreamed of being a loving and nurturing world full of different and vastly interesting beings capable of relationship with her.  To love and be loved in return was her ideal.  There was no thought to the danger involved in this dream, only the burning desire to fulfil her gift to the universe.  As she continued to dream this dream, she wove an intricate web of her desires and beauty which she cast out into the stars.  The web was indeed provocative, as the moonlight glimmered upon the silken strands, sending light vibrations into every corner of the universe.

After many moons of casting the web and waiting, one night as she was almost asleep and about to give up her dream as hopeless, a slight movement on the outer rim of the web brought Earth to a wide-awake alertness.   She began to feel the energy of a being hovering close to her, and oh, she found that quite exciting.

1293014_10201971184391363_1360457286_o Each night, for many moons, this being came to the edge of the web to court the beautiful Earth.  She knew him as Sky and his freedom and life-giving air was exactly what she needed to make her dream happen.  They became one and together created a perfect place for children to inhabit.

Earth transformed into a Mother and gathered around her other spirits to help with her children.  Water spirit to quench their thirst, fire spirit to transform and heal, stone spirit to inspire and support them, wind spirit to bring change and breath.

 Then, the birth began.  Energy exploded everywhere – the finned ones were born in the water, the winged ones were born in the air, the creepy crawlies reveled in the grasses, in dark caves, and holes in the ground.  The animals roamed the mountains, valleys, deserts, and swamps.  Finally, Earth and Sky created humans to assist all their little brothers and sisters to flourish.

 Constantly changing to meet the needs of all her children she freely gave of her resources.  The human children rejoiced in being alive and held ceremonies to thank and help their Mother Earth and Father Sky.

But, as the ages passed, the humans became more and more sophisticated, or so they thought.  They scorned the old ceremonies of thanksgiving and fertility.  They forgot their place in the balance of all life.  In their zest for discovering civilization, they forgot their Mother and Father.

 But they were not forgotten nor were they judged for their errors.  Instead, the blessed union between Earth and Sky gathered with the spirits of water and fire.  They began to cleanse and transform creation.  Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, and fire brought balance to creation and maybe such signs would help to awaken the humans that something was wrong.download (1)

Earth and Sky sent prayers out to the universe on behalf of all their children to draw assistance into the spinning maelstrom of violence, war, and destruction the human beings were foistering on all life on Earth.  Masters from far and wide began to answer the call and to start the dreaming backwards.  Stories of the beginning of the relationship of Earth and Sky began to be told.  Stories of the human people’s responsibility to hold the gift of life sacred began to sprout everywhere.  Some humans began to listen and their hearts awakened to the old ceremonies of thanksgiving and fertility.  They began to remember the planet as Mother Earth and the atmosphere as Father Sky.  But will enough humans awaken?  Will it be too late?


Troubled Times

thubfireWhen troubled times come upon us and emotions, and stories spin out of control, it’s time to remember that spiritual awakening is not for the faint of heart.  We often imagine that enlightenment or awakening spiritually will be filled with bliss, peace, and a deep sense of connection with the Oneness.  And that does happen.  But more commonly awakening is like a clock alarm when one is deeply asleep, a jarring, harsh reality that upsets our life and makes us wish we’d never set the stupid clock in the first place.

This is a troubling, upsetting, and distressing time in our nation and the world when harsh and strident voices demonize those around them with far-flung accusations splattering even the bystanders.  Many tend to imagine the worse and act from inner darkness instead of compassion and understanding.  But it is in times like these where we are given the opportunity to face the enemy within ourselves.  Will, we meet that moment with openness and a fearless heart or slide into fear, imagining the worst and assigning blame thereby closing our hearts and our minds to the suffering around us?

What if we were to focus on cultivating a community of kinship, compassion, and kindness so strong that Divine Spirit might recognize it?

Can we dream something different than the examples we see in world news?
Let us imagine a circle of compassion with no one standing outside it.
Let us stand with the poor, the powerless, and those without a voice.
Let us stand with the easily despised and the readily left out.
Let us stand with the disposable so the day will come when we stop throwing people away.
Let us stand with the demonized so the demonizing will stop, for demonizing is always based in untruth and a fear-based imagination.

Love-and-compassion-are-necessities-not-luxuries.-Without-them-humanity-cannot-survive.Suffering will only be alleviated by a community of people determined to show tenderness with each other. If we resolve to take our next steps in love, forgiveness, and compassion, it is inevitable that we will finally discover true freedom from the hell voices of the world and our minds’.


Makers and Creators of Beauty


Everyone is born with a fire within, a divine imperative, to create something to leave behind as a statement that we have been here.  Even though that fire is intrinsic, it’s often hidden until something sets it alight.  That something might be a pain, loss, an experience that leaves its mark, or an inspiration, an act of kindness or falling in love.   Our creative fire is ignited by rubbing up against things of the world.

the-blossoming-of-creative-fire-white-flower-and-flameI’ve often contemplated the story about the Jewish children in concentration camps during the holocaust drawing birds, trees, and butterflies on the walls of their prison; and how the human spirit seeks to restore itself to hope in the midst of destruction.  We reach for a future that will be bright and beautiful even when the facts refuse to support our dream of a positive outcome.  But one of the paradoxes of human existence is our ability to either illuminate our spiritual nature or obscure it in the name of reality.

It was the creative fire of love that imagined the Taj Mahal, the creative fire of wonder that created preservation of exquisite places of the natural world in parks and preserves, and it was the fire of anger and fear that also produced the atom bomb and weapons of mass destruction.  Always, sometimes even daily, we have a choice of using our inner fire to warm, preserve, and enhance life or encompass our own destruction and that of others through despair, isolation, self-rejection, violence, and even suicide.

Perhaps, the lesson in the above statement is a call to study and gain skills in how we think and what we think about, how we talk and the effect it has on those around us, and equally important is the creation of actions that result in beauty rather than destruction.

The energies that require the use of creative fire are often left to chance through a learn by mistakes approach to living.  Yet, they are the very stuff of a thriving life- how to live with respect for all life on Earth, how to make and keep a lasting commitments in a loving relationships, how to raise loving, generous, and kind children, how to show respect for our elders, and how to make a meaningful contribution to the communities in which we belong. 6.-compassion

As I was growing up, I tried to make a note of all the energies the adults around me shared with one another, with my siblings and myself, especially the ones that hurt physically and emotionally.  It was my absolute intention to not be like my mother, my father, and other authority figures whose anger spilt over onto everyone around them.  And yet, I yelled at my children and attempted to control my significant relationships by making myself indispensable and necessary while denying my own needs.

So now, I’ve reached the age of seventy-two having dissolved two marriages and pissed off several people who have disappeared from my life.  All I wanted was to be a maker and shaper of beauty in the world, and so I attempted to ignite the fire of creation by rubbing against others instead of igniting my inner divine fire by trusting the Indwelling Presence of the Divine Spirit.  I’ve also learned that finding The Presence within is a journey that everyone must take in order to fulfil the demand and the promise of being a creator and maker of beauty in the world.

Almost all spiritual pathways have given directions on how not to destroy ourselves and others with the creative fire.  One of these is called the golden rule, and there is some form of this statement in most sacred texts.  Do and give to others only what you are willing to receive yourself. 

Another common statement that puts a safety net of stones around that inner burning is- Love God with your whole heart and mind, and all others as God loves you.  However, even with these two lofty and exalted admonitions, humans keep rubbing ourselves against the world, the expectations of the world, and the expectations of what we want, where we want to be, and how we want others to see us.  Sadly, despite all the obstacles and disappointments we still expect these imaginings to come true.

Perhaps, part of our stubbornness in this regard comes from a belief from the western world that we have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The reality of life, however, is that sometimes we are going to thrive and sometimes we are going to be wounded or wound others.  This is difficult to accept.

Does it mean that I must embrace the parts of me that yelled at my kids, failed at my marriages, and pissed off people I cared about?  Yes, actually, that is exactly what it means.  Embracing all that has happened, all that I have felt, seen, heard, and participated in allows me to see my life as an act of creation, a work in progress, as it were.  That is an old cliché, but it is true.

When I’m cutting out pieces for a quilt and sewing them together it’s always my intention that it will come out perfect, smooth, and without blemish.  Somehow, there is always seems to be a piece of two that don’t want to lay flat or don’t turn out exactly square.  The same happens with beadwork, there’s always a bead of the wrong colour or size that doesn’t fit the pattern but finds its way into the work somehow.  I don’t always have the patience to take things apart and fix the problem, so I adopted the Japanese idea that imperfect things are beautiful.

downloadI read recently that James Thurber once sat by his window watching a bulldozer clear a field of elm trees to build an asylum intended for those driven insane by the cutting down of elm trees.  It’s irrational to be guilty, shrivelled, and to cut ourselves down because we have been burned by the creative fires of life and that we were not who we wanted to be, where we wanted to be, and who others expected us to be.  Creation cannot happen without mistakes.  Life cannot happen without wounding.

The most important skill we can develop as we continue to make and create beauty or inadvertent ugliness is to remember that nothing can change as long as we are still rehearsing the history that brought us to where we are today.  Life happened.  Our mistakes and successes are a part of ourselves.

However, we are not yet ashes buried with the ancestors, therefore, let the past be past.  Plan a new image of self, gather the creative fire, the colours, the brushes, wisdom, and courage.  From that place, we can be excited about what we will create next!


Going Into The Dark

Darkness is defined as the absence of light, something that is difficult to understand, a state of ignorance, and something secret or sinister.  Truth is defined, by the dictionary, as factual, or clear and visible, as well as something individuals choose to believe. Faith communities often speak of the dark as something evil and light as the most desirable quality to cultivate and yet it’s only through a willingness to explore what is dark or hidden within ourselves that we are able to shine a light of truth on the state of our consciousness and attain some form of enlightenment

ignorance_quoteIt appears that no one ever believes they are choosing something out of ignorance or a misinterpretation of reality.  We don’t have to look far to discover humanities willingness to pronounce as undesirable, ignorant, and evil people who are perceived as a hindrance to comfort, security, and prosperity.   Currently, immigrants are being targeted as are Muslims, single mothers, and the poor or elderly.  When one is truly spiritual it is easy to see through all the rhetoric and ask, who will profit from this persecution?  Of course, darkness is always obvious when it belongs to someone else. Darkness is defined as the absence of light, something that is difficult to understand, a state of ignorance, and something secret or sinister.  Truth is defined, by the dictionary, as factual, or clear and visible, as well as something individuals choose to believe. Faith communities often speak of the dark as something evil and light as the most desirable quality to cultivate and yet it’s only through a willingness to explore what is dark or hidden within ourselves that we are able to shine a light of truth on the state of our consciousness and attain some form of enlightenment.

Spirit invites us to discover our ancient darkness or  ignorance that has continuously caused suffering for ourselves and those around us.  This exploration is impossible without a spiritual director or teacher.  If it were possible to enlighten our own ignorance we would all be ascended by now.  However, the gift of shining  light on delusions is about as popular as turning sticks into snakes.  Inevitably, the student thus enlightened becomes enraged and defensive often turning on the teacher with accusations and resentment.  My advice is- don’t ask if you don’t really want to know.

GalaticAlignEyeThere is a line in the vow of the bodhisattvas that states- delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them.  Delusions are caused by expectations of self and others.  I’m not suggesting that we have no expectations of self or other, only that we become aware they are a major tripping point on the road of spirit.  If someone says, I am enlightened- we can be sure that person is delusional.  Even the Buddha did not say he was enlightened he said he was awake, which meant he was practicing awareness of his attachments and expectations in order to free himself from them.  Only through constant vigilance can we disrupt our focus on what we expect, deserve, and demand from self and others.  Note the attitude and ask- is it fair of me to have this expectation of another?  And- how can I meet my own need without imposing it on others?

Not all expectations are bad or even undesirable.  This is why we learn table manners as a child, discover the magic of please and thank you, train our pets to deposit their bowel movements in an appropriate place, and end abusive relationships.  Here are some expectations that are guaranteed to cause suffering – wanting others to give us comfort, acceptance, and anything we else we want without our having to say anything.  And, if we do state our need there is an expectation that it is the other person’s responsibility to give it to us.  All of this is delusional thinking a result of ignorance and living in the dark.

Having a session with a spiritual director or teacher can be a challenging opportunity.  While part of us wants to be free from delusion, there is often a greater part that prefers to remain ignorant or to be reassured that we really don’t have much to work on so we don’t need to worry about it.  Amma Ilowan told us once that the mantra for the path of enlightenment is- Oh, Shit! Here is a poem/story gifted to Amma some years ago by a seeker.

A Day in the Dark

On a day such as this my life might be destroyed.
I am not worthy of being in the presence of a Master!
Bitterness courses through my every thought and burns my mind.
Time is passing-
But when will it open?
I am frightened!
I am petrified!
I am anxious- and I do fear what seed I have sown and their harvests to come!
This does not sound like discovery to me- but desolation!
Perhaps it is transformation?
Perhaps it is my evolution?
But to be immersed in such darkness and despair seems cruel and heartless.
True love is creation-
I have said so many discouraging times of late!
Thought creates- and I have thought so many unloving things of late!
Where has the holiness- that I so fervently aspire for gone?
Why do I find myself falling away from the ladder of prayer?
Where has my soul been slipping to?
Why does my love and light flicker- and in the most important of times?
Why does Spirit seem to fade away when I am most in need?
Why am I so afraid?
Why have I chosen to act in anger instead of from my sadness or my love?
The Sword of my Soul has almost become fully tempered
and shall soon undergo the refreshing submersion into the waters of Spirit-
Yet the fires still flame with such climactic degrees-
It seems impossible to focus on the process in its complete stage!
Is this not the dross that initiation burns from my soul?
Will I ever feel I’ve arrived at the warmth of spring again?

My own ancient darkness is fear.  Fear of being abandoned , fear of becoming homeless, fear of failing, fear of disapproval, and fear of trusting others too much and various terrors that come up at odd times.  And, while I’ve experienced some of these energies in my life…most are pure imaginings like a child panicking over shadows in the night.  I believe my ancient darkness arises from the expectation that these things could happen and I must do everything in my power to prevent them from manifesting.  If I have a plan for the worst case scenario I will be able to survive it.  That was my motto for years.

So, I have been advised to simply notice the fear, breathe, and stop making strategies to deal with imaginings.  Once, he told me that my people didn’t know that I loved them, which was devastating to hear since I thought I was serving to the very best of my ability.  After being angry for a few days, thinking people were complaining about me to the Masters, I decided to accept what he said and change my behavior so people would understand that I loved and cared about them.  First, I had to notice what behaviors gave a wrong impression so I watched sangha members who were considered loving and kind individuals.  What did they do?  What body language did they use?  What did they say?  Mostly, it turned out to be a matter of eye contact, fully facing the person I was talking to, and not multi-tasking while speaking to them.  Getting out of the dark into the light required acceptance and accountability and a willingness to be enlightened rather than defensive and resentful that everyone didn’t already think I was an amazing being.

to-make-the-darkness-consciousWilling to go into the dark is entering a time when we don’t know the result and sometimes when the result is known it is nothing we want or desire to experience- and yet, there it is.  To find the light of truth we must be willing to realize, even if it is on faith, that Divine Spirit is with us, as us, and will not abandon us in our grief, pain, or fear.  This doesn’t mean we will have that fear removed, the grief taken away, or the pain eased, it only means we trust we are not alone in those times.  We rely on the relationship we have created with the Dharma, the Sangha, and the Masters to find our courage, strength, and the fortitude to make it through the dark.  In challenging times we have the capability of ignoring or chasing Divine Spirit from our hearts, minds, and lives.  If we do this we sink even deeper into the dark night of our soul.  Ultimately, we cannot find the light without each other and though we may stumble and fall- surrendering to Divine Grace will see us through into the light of wisdom and love.



United in purpose, together we are one.

We cannot live for ourselves alone.  We are interconnected with all life.  Interconnectedness and interdependence are the threads that hold life together.  In modern times, it’s easy to imagine ourselves as independent.  We can choose to live alone, dine alone, entertain ourselves alone, and even pleasure ourselves alone.  It has become possible to survive without relying on anyone but ourselves. In our time, living within and being responsible to a community, which our ancestors did for thousands of years, has been hyped into a story of oppression, enslavement, and cultism. But is that belief true?

log cabinThere is no way to be totally independent unless you grow all your own food, mine your own metals, create your own tools, build your own house out of mud or wood from trees you milled the wood yourself, spin your own cloth, and create all your own furniture.  Even then, you are not the creator of those things, they come from the Earth who, as a generous mother, allows us to take what we need.  Most of us are willing to concede this point, but what about belonging, unity, and togetherness with other human beings?

When I was a child, I had an intact family with a mother, father, and a sister, much later a baby brother.  We had enforced togetherness.  Every Saturday we had chores to do.  My sister and I were sent to the movies in the afternoon so our parents could be alone and in the evenings, we were required to watch the Lawrence Welk Show before going to bed early.  On Sunday we went to Catholic mass, ate breakfast, and spent the afternoon playing cards, while my parents got drunk.  No friends were allowed to join us and we were not allowed to be anywhere except with the family.  The only fond memories of that enforced togetherness are the movies and as I grew older playing card games.  What I came to understand in later years is that my parents were attempting to recreate the true togetherness they had experienced in their families while growing up in small town America in the 1920’s.

Mom often spoke of how on Saturdays all her uncles, aunts, and cousins would meet at someone home, pop popcorn, tells stories, laugh, and play games.  Dad told of how all the German immigrants got together on Saturdays, made food, laughed, and told stories, while the kids played outside.  One day, I realized what was missing from their attempted recreation of their childhood…a community, an extended family, a tribe of individuals who knew each other and shared their lives in more ways then a weekly social gathering.

87604643_XSGradually, within the United State, the artificially created need to place each family in their own house, the marketing of automobiles, the hype of appliances that were supposed to make life easier and give everyone more free time, the promotion of store bought everything, created a desire to acquire more and more money to support those illusions.  Families became separated by distance, the threads of the past were broken.  However, nobody yet knew that all these modern conveniences spelled disaster for the human heart.

It’s my observation that modern people find it almost impossible to remain unified in heart, to remain dedicated to a common purpose.  The word togetherness has devolved into a fear of groupthink.  Currently, people are attempting to create unity and togetherness through Facebook, Twitter, music concerts, political rallies, parties, festivals, and anything else that seems to fill the empty gap left by the dissolution of meaningful community. While this might seem to be a cynical view one need only look at the existing political climate, right-wing racism, epidemic drug use, and the divorce rate to understand the truth of these statements.

ACcommunity2-copyThe spiritual call of uniting in purpose so that together we can be one is a reawakening of the ancient vision of what Native Americans invoke in the words– All my relations…and the African concept of Ubuntu translated as I am because you are, you are because I am.  This way of thinking changes how we interact with one another and all the creatures of the Earth. Oneness with All There Is has been the goal of the spiritual path since our primeval ancestors stood on two legs and gazed into the star-filled night feeling the call of the Creator to join in that wholeness, that holiness.

Right Action

karmaEverything we think, say, and do has consequences.  This is the law of karma.  If a person spends a great deal of time fantasizing about winning the lottery, partnering with an actor or music star they met at a fan party, or dreaming about what will happen when one gets a new job, loses twenty pounds, etc. the consequence is disappointment, possible depression, and definite suffering.  When a person focuses on being positive, enjoying the simple things in life, and verbally appreciates those around them the consequences are likely to be contentment, happiness, and friendship.  When we continuously hold a certain attitude, opinion, or belief about life it tends to manifest regardless rather the attitude is positive or negative.  Abraham Lincoln once said, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  And people are about as unhappy as they make up their minds to be.

In the Analects of Confucius it states something like this- first it is necessary for the ruler to have peace in his heart, then there will be peace in the home, if there is peace in the home there will be peace in the neighborhood, if there is peace in the neighborhood there will be peace in the city, if there is peace in the city there will be peace in the nation.

So, the ability to have our actions take place in rightness depends first on having right thoughts or a right mind.  One way the dictionary puts it is to be morally correct and while there is precious little agreement about what is morally correct it behooves us, once we have decided on a set of ethics, to remain true to those ethics.  Changing our mind from one set of principles to another, possibly even to an opposing idea, to justify getting what we want is breaking the Spirit of Honor.  It is important for a human being, a son or daughter of the Divine Spirit, to know what is right according to a chosen set of life ethics and then to do what is right rather than what might feel right at the time.

Over the years as a minister, I‘ve witnessed the misery created by individuals choosing what felt right at the time over what they had proclaimed was right prior to their time of temptation.  Mostly, these decisions took place because the individual “fell in love” and knew without doubt that this time they were experiencing Ama Marai– unconditional love.  It is easy to forget that unconditional love is something only Divine Spirit can give so we spend years looking for and hoping to be loved unconditionally by our family, friends, children, and partners.  True love, for a fallible human, is facing our capacity to hurt each other.  True love is the willingness to be accountable when we do hurt people, to make amends if we can, and to strive and devote ourselves to accepting, nurturing, and cherishing the love we give and the love we have received.

Being a divine avatar, a beloved son or daughter of Divine Spirit, implies that we must struggle to move from the absurd living of the world mind to the obedient listening of Tarai Spirit Mind.  Absurd comes from the word sardus which means deaf. The dark world of ordinary reality teaches a Machiavellian attitude of expediency and unprincipled, self-aggrandizement- the standard “me first” attitude which keeps people deaf to the cries of suffering arising all over the world.  When actions take place in rightness social justice and equality become the center post for decision making.  This is the principle of democracy- the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people

Actions arise from attitude, attitude arises from habituate thoughts.  Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is more than a cute saying; it actually works.  The two most important values for living fully are appreciation and forgiveness.  This works within our own psyche as well as within communities small and large.  We must forgive ourselves for not being perfect and forgive others that they cannot live up to our expectations of them.  Appreciating what we have, and what gifts others share with us, creates a willingness to wholeheartedly engage in relationship.

  EmployeeBadAttitudeDeveloping a useful attitude starts with understanding and working within the conditioning of our ancient darkness.  If we don’t bring to light the hidden motivations of our decisions they have a way of tripping us up.  In my twenties, I had a terrible fear of abandonment and worked hard to become indispensable to those around me; so they would keep me around.  And, while I did learn the basic principles of how to be a good servant this strategy was actually unsuccessful in keeping relationships.  Friends and people in various communities found my solicitous assistance annoying or in some cases arrogant and snubbed me or even cast me out because I was a pest. Fortunately, Amma Ilowan, pointed out to me that while serving was commendable, my motivation was joyless and detrimental to myself and others.  Ah, enlightenment! Oh, shit!

Actions arise from thoughts and attitudes.  Actions are the ground on which we stand.  Actions are the karmic seeds of destiny.

The Two Wolves

3b4ff0e7They sat together and watched the full moon move through the stars. The young Cherokee boy had been in a fight that day and his grandfather would speak with him.

“My son,” he began, ”there is a battle that goes on inside people. This battle is between two wolves that we carry within us. One wolf is evil. It holds the energy of anger, sorrow, jealousy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, inferiority, false pride and lies.

The other wolf is good. For it holds the energy of love, joy, peace, hope, humility, kindness, generosity, compassion, faith and truth.

These wolves are very powerful. And, they are often fighting like small boys,” he said glancing down at his grandson. His smile was hidden in the darkness.

The grandson thought about it for a while, and then asked, “Which wolf wins, grandfather?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Most of us what to know the rules, learn what is expected of a spiritual person and live accordingly.  However, while we can adopt a set of precepts it’s important to remember that those precepts, like the ones I included in this chapter are a call to be more than is even humanly possible.  The reason spiritual paths create impossible goals is to elevate us to a greater height than we would choose for ourselves.  It’s more likely that when we are goal setting we attempt to vision something that is actually possible of accomplishment.  Spiritual ethics and precepts are so lofty that it reminds me of the catchphrase – Aim for the sun because even if you miss you will fall among the stars.  Our actions will always take place in rightness if we are striving for the highest things we know.

The temptation is to say that loving-kindness, peace, acceptance, forgiveness, etc. is always the answer.  And that answer may cause us to make decisions that are detrimental to ourselves or others.  I love this story about employing loving-kindness in an unusual way.

Umbrella Love  

teacher-and-studentSangmu was developing the practice of loving-kindness. As a young disciple, she would sit in meditation each day filling her heart with loving-kindness for all beings, may they be free from suffering. However, each day she found her practice greatly tested when she went to the market for food. There was among the shopkeepers one merchant who persistently subjected Sangmu to unwanted advances. One day she could take no more of this. She turned to the merchant and raised her umbrella to strike him. It was at that moment that she saw her teacher standing some distance away watching this situation. Humiliated and chagrined she walked over to him ready to receive the admonishment that was surely hers.

Her teacher smiled down at her and said, “Sangmu, what you should do, my child, is fill your heart completely with loving-kindness before you hit this rude man over the head with your umbrella.”

Our actions are the ground on which we stand.  Our actions are our destiny.  Any relationship we enter into will be riddled with frustration and disappointment.  That’s the price of being human. It’s in those times when we feel the most disillusioned that Spirit is calling us to be true to our soul’s honor, true to our promises, true to the moral, and ethical values we believed in when we thought life was perfect and our relationships seemed perfect. Only when tested in the fires of the dark world where we must strive to find the courage to live as a Divine Avatar, or not, do we cast the pattern of our future.  Will we choose what is right?  Or will we choose what feels so right at the moment?


May Changes Bring Healing

Things are often changing in our personal world and in the larger world of societal and political arenas.  Changes occur in the natural earth environment on a regular basis, some are evolutionary and some, due to human ignorance, are regressive or destructive.  Humans live with constant change, while striving to create security and permanence. Hence, our relationship to everything over which we have no control determines how we live our lives.  Viewing difficulty and suffering as isolating, a sign of weakness and failure, or as an obstacle that has to be overcome results in one world view.  Viewing difficulty and suffering as an initiatory experience that calls one to be more present and open to transcendence results in a different world view.  Changes are going to happen.  We have little or no control over our outer circumstances.  So, how are changes going to bring healing to us personally, let alone to the greater world?

523406466Once again, we come to the truth that attitude is everything.  If we examine the attitude that suffering and difficulties are an indication there is something wrong with us, with our job, with our family, with our communities, with the government, and with Spirit itself, we may conclude that “God is dead!” and “I have to look out for number one.”  At worst, this attitude becomes a cause of war, violence, domination, and the greedy, relentless destruction of the earth in order to satisfy a need for safety and comfort.  If we examine the attitude that suffering and difficulties are a normal part of life and a call for us to be open, engaged, and cooperative in discovering how to move through the vicissitudes with compassion, kindness, and generosity to all involved we might find ourselves following in the footsteps of the Great Beings of Spirit.  This attitude of initiation or innovative beginnings can become the incentive to find a cure for life-threatening diseases, discover how to feed the hungry of the world, clean up the oceans, or negotiate a lasting peace for war torn countries.  In all challenges and changes the choice is clear- will it be Me or We

Before western civilization decided to regard happiness as an inalienable right and therefore deemed pain and sadness as a diagnosis that needed treatment- woundedness and aliveness were thought of as natural and dependent on each other in order to find something deeper than momentary satisfaction- Joy.  Think of a time when you were really ill for days or even weeks and then one day you awoke and knew you were on the mend.  That feeling was more than fleeting happiness it was a deep seated joy.  Or, consider a time of loss when a loved individual, human or animal, had left you brokenhearted.  For a time, everything reminded you of the pain until one day all those same things reminded you of the love.  This is the meaning of joy. Someday, when we are awake, at last, we still have to decide how to come to peace with the very real life experience of suffering.

ABFM-changes_old-new.jpg.daijpg.380Changes can bring healing into our lives and into the world.  However, change doesn’t always bring healing or evolution.  Sometimes, change is just a different form of injustice, suffering, and rhetoric. So, how can a person develop evolutionary change?  One way is called cognitive behavioral therapy.  This is a form of self-questioning that examines motivations and unconscious habit patterns to discover if there is a true willingness to change or only an imagined desire to change.  Some of these questions are: What change do I wish to make?  Why do I want to make this change?  What are the advantages of staying the same?  What are the perceived advantages of changing?  What changes have I succeeded in making in the past?  What qualities were required to make that change?

Transformation is a process and takes more than simply making up one’s mind in order to engage the desired evolution.  Just like in the political or societal world where the majority of people have to be convinced that the restructuring process is actually worthwhile, our internal committee voices have to be convinced to cooperative or failure is inevitable and permanent.  All evolution is an experiment to see what works and what doesn’t.  Amma Ilowan often says– failure is inevitable, success requires repeated effort.  One of my favorite sayings from t-shirt ads is- What would you create if you knew you could not fail?  It takes more courage to live in the world as it is, than going open-eyed toward certain death.

pranic-healing-and-reikiA spiritual life doesn’t necessarily lead to tranquility, peace, or a beautiful feeling about ourselves or how nice it is to be together with others.  An ordinary life, with or without spirit, doesn’t lead to these feelings either.  If we want our changes to heal our heart, and bring about the possibility of a better world we need courage, determination, a positive attitude, and the remembrance of who we truly are.  The negative voices in our heads and the negative voices surrounding us are so loud and persistent that it is easy to believe them.  It’s the trap of being a fugitive hiding from life in entertainment, drugs, alcohol, or sexual addiction.  The transformational journey of healing change requires constant remembrance that we are the avatars of Divine Spirit and Divine Spirit is within us, around us, and expressing as us.  We are not taking our life journey alone.  Divine Mother, Father, and Weaver are walking with us.  Our job is to accept Presence and listen to our authentic, true self.  In this way, changes shall bring healing for ourselves and maybe the whole world.