Unity

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.

Spirit’s Plan For Us

9ff62d1c0d6f7e33e4a09489d59de107There’s a plan for us in this life devised by soul before we were born.  We are here to implement that plan to make a contribution within the world that only we can make.  We chose to be born in a certain family hoping we could make a contribution to that family.  The other places we set our destiny into motion are: Community, Friends, Companions, our Nation, our Earth, and the Sacred.  We are not here to be self-fulfilled but spirit-filled, love-filled, and joy-full creators of something original and new.

We are workers of the Light for the Divine Sacred Way of love, joy, and peace.  We can start by choosing a portion of that divine inheritance (love, joy, peace) that comes naturally to us.  Our task is to be a preparer of the way, a pioneer, an innovator, a creator of something that was once thought to be impossible.

Life only works if we have a plan.  The path of Spirit only works if we have a plan.  Nothing is gained by waiting for the perfect opportunity.  We must be fully engaged in both life and the path of Spirit.  It doesn’t matter whether we are happy if we don’t create opportunities to share that happiness with as many other beings as possible.

selfish-manThe path of life is definitely about us.  What we want and don’t want, what we think should happen and what we think should never happen to us.  The plan of Spirit means we are creating as much good for other beings as we have created for ourselves and our families.  Meaningful work means generating an attitude of service.  Without true heart service all work is meaningless.

Humans are not meant to be alone.  Rampant psychological problems come from being alone.  We need community.  We are herd animals and need a place to belong.  We may long to find ourselves, but the only self we will find is through our connections with others.  By the age of seven most people have created a lifetime of core beliefs.  From that time forward there is only the same mental, emotional, and habituated inner roads to travel.  But maybe everything in our minds is not a precious memory.  Maybe some of those thoughts are erroneous.  Maybe some of our emotions are stones weighing us down.

20150824_092516People used to sift flour to get out the stones.  We need to sift our lives to get rid of the stones.  Humans only consciously remember about 10% of their lives.  The rest has gone into brain storage, somewhere.  Review the last two weeks.  If they were ordinary, we remember very little of what happened.  Most of the time the events of our lives are not important enough to remember.  To remember who we truly are as spirit beings requires effort, daily, hourly, minute-to-minute effort.  This is why we cultivate a life of meditation, prayer, and study in order to remember something worthwhile and beautiful!

What are you remembering?  Is it of true value for your soul?

The consciousness of the western world tends to be one of guilt, shame, blame and punishment.  One of the first things we ask when something happens is:  Who did it?  Why did they do it?  What is going to happen to them now?

From childhood we learned that if we don’t lie about things, we will be punished.  We are terrified of making mistakes, to accidentally do something that will bring punishment down upon our heads.  We are so used to expecting punishment that we punish ourselves through cruel, critical inner dialogue.

We need to think of a new plan for our lives.  While we can’t change the western mind consciousness all at once…we can start changing the way we think, what we choose to believe, and what we choose to share.  Restorative justice means everyone is forgiven and allowed to begin again.  f2c793b49f2c477ebc950aaae5f2d847The Beauty Way is restorative justice.  The world above me is restored in beauty, the world below me is restored in beauty, the way before me is restored in beauty, and the way behind me is restored in beauty.  My voice is restored in beautyIt is finished in beauty.

So why remember negative incidents and characteristics about ourselves?  We don’t deserve it.  Let us throw out thinking errors!  Let’s not wait to see what life brings us.  Get a paddle or a motor and drive the boat upstream.  Only dead fish go with the flow.

An affirmative plan is to celebrate ourselves.
It forces us to remember the good.  Freed from guilt and blame it’s easier to make changes from the standpoint of infinite possibilities. Let’s challenge ourselves instead of punishing ourselves.

The path of Spirit is a dance of joy!
Make a daily plan to design a celebration of joy, laughter, love, happiness, and generosity.  Create something memorable that isn’t suffering!
Choose a sacred word of the day and make room in your life to express it.

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Belonging To Community

I am a part of a community, not just a person for myself.”  wpid-hands_of_friendship
Being within community means I am not just passing through, or showing up sometimes, making demands, seeking attention, and complaining that my needs are not being met.  I do not pretend to be someone I am not nor do I disown or dislike the original community that shaped me.  Instead I am continually checking and adjusting myself to make sure I am right with my communities.  I do not expect them to understand and do things my way.  I am open to the needs and ways of the community.

Trust is an essential part of a viable community or any worthwhile relationship.  Trust assumes that everyone is innately well-intentioned and working toward the same goals and purpose.   Trust is learning to be trustworthy in ourselves which not the same as automatically trusting others.  Trust comes when we know that it’s possible to discern if another is trustworthy without having judgments about that.

Secrecy is a strategy that satisfies a need for safety and self-protection.  We live in a guilt and shame culture and learn early in life not to share things that might “get us into trouble.”  Even as adults we believe we can “get into trouble” instead of understanding that our mistakes are opportunities to learn, grow, become initiated, and develop compassion for the self and others.

Feelings of guilt or shame create a need to make excuses or deny our behavior.  secretsWe try not to get caught doing and saying things that our community, family, friends, and significant other might not approve of.  Most of us believe deep down that we are bad, unlovable, and unworthy of trust.  Often we don’t trust ourselves let alone anyone else.  After all how many times have we tried and failed- to stay on a diet- not drink too much- get enough sleep- eat the foods that are good for us- and so on.

Making another responsible for our behavior is also a strategy to be safe and protected.  We tell others: “Don’t tell John I said that!”  “Please don’t tell Mom- I know I can trust you.”  “I don’t want Jill to hear about this, Ok?”  “I’ve never told anyone this before, but…”  Making others responsible for our secrets keeps us immature and spiritually undeveloped.

love-trustAll feelings of guilt and shame are an opportunity to develop compassionate forgiveness for the self or for another. When we fall out of grace there is a temptation to withdraw and blame others, or to punish ourselves.  However, pretending everything is fine when it isn’t fine only creates barriers in our heart.  So before we can actually make a commitment to a community or a meaningful relationship we have to stop pretending, withdrawing, and blaming.  We begin by thinking and acting with sincerity and reliability.

Trust I am a part of a community, not just a person for myself.

We open to Divine Will,
Surrendering, letting go, and being held
By the Great Mystery.
We trust in one another.

This day Great Father, we open
To the Divine way.
Surrendering, letting go, and being held,
in community,
We let divine movement carry us to the fullness of life.

This day Great Mother,
We remember who we are.
We remember why we are;
Your hands in the world, your voice for our people,
Free to create and bring love and joy and peace
To fill all the places of this day.

We are spirit, we are people of heart.
Guild us as we bring grace to this world.

Spiritual Community?

For thousands of years people of faith have gathered together to form a supportive community to pray, discover a deeper relationship with their Higher Power, study and contemplate consciousness, and to perform acts of service for those less fortunate than themselves.  Iraqi Worshippers Pray For Pope John Paul IISometimes these communities were organized around a rule of life, sometimes they were a more spontaneous gathering of like-minded souls wishing to have support in their journey of seeking a deeper meaning to life.

Today many spiritual seekers appear reluctant to commit to a community stating that the expectations of such a group is likely to cramp their freedom of expression and inhibit their exploration of personal truth.  A feeling of entitlement seems to pervade most technologically advanced nations.  People grow up expecting to have leisure time, early retirement, comfort, and praise for any effort, however small, he or she puts into a project.  Individuals don’t expect to put up with the personality quirks of a partner or a friend, instead there is a demand that these others contribute to their well-being and happiness.  “My needs are not being met!” is the cry of the disaffected, disillusioned populace at large.

Having just returned from China where religion has only recently been tolerated again after being all but eliminated in the last century I noticed a dissatisfaction among the youth who were taught that being a good consumer would truly free them from suffering and lead to happiness.  chinese-christians-prayingThey are hungry for something more…but they don’t want the old traditions of spirituality.  What can we tell them?  What can we say to all of the cynical and disappointed multitudes of our own nation?

Perhaps we can start by recognizing that we have a biological imperative to belong, contribute, and share affection with others.  If we understand that it is our personal need for sanctuary, love, and emotional security that are driving us both into and away from interpersonal relationships we can find the inner values that might allow us to have those experiences.  What we value is the very thing we most need to contribute.    

Current wisdom implies that we don’t need teachers anymore, that everything we need to become is already inside of us.  Everything we need to become is inside of us…but transforming that energy from what we expect to get into what we expect to give is a journey that requires a teacher, a guide.  what-if-there-were-no-teachersWhere are the guides who can demonstrate such a treasure?  If books could liberate us this world would be a paradise for there are tens of thousands of books telling us how to be, think, and live.  If movies and Youtube videos could enlighten us into compassionate spiritual beings our world would be unrecognizable today.

 Instead consider this- Everything we believe and know was taught to us by someone.  What do you want a spiritual community to be?  Can you demonstrate that gift?  Can you learn from those Great Beings who have gone before…and if you are fortunate can you learn something from the Great Beings around you?

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Some Possibilities to Consider

Belonging and sharing we accept and forgive
so we can follow hope and have a meaningful life.

Seeking to live selflessly we work together.

We are a collective of embodied souls who seek to share
the sacred song of life and remember ancient wisdom.

With unity and action we take on the responsibility
to share love and goodness in our world.

With common purpose we leave no one
outside of grace.

We are a people who seek to honor and cherish
the sacredness of all life and all beings.

In the Grace of Great Spirit
may it be so!