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In Christianity, a superficial understanding of prayer is that it is a beseeching to an outside entity.  This idea of prayer is so ingrained in our culture that even people who claim not to be Christian, who replace the word God with the word Universe, still beseech to an outside entity.  They say things like, “I’ve asked the Universe to help me with this.”  

This superficial understanding of prayer has never worked for me.  I’ve always felt “victimy” praying to an outer entity, and always felt like there was something missing with those prayers.  The reality is that prayer goes much deeper than simply asking a God separate from us to do something for us.  The reality of prayer is that it has the power to change us from the inside out, and when we change, our world changes.  

In Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes says that prayer “changes the mind of the one doing the praying.”  And in the Bible, it calls us to “pray without ceasing.”

How is one to pray without ceasing?  And what is the real power behind prayer?  I believe that prayer is a guiding light, not something to be used when we are in need.  Prayer is a way of being, not words.  The traditional way of praying is a very good start.  Now let’s take it a bit further.

If we are called to pray without ceasing, it means we are called to BE prayerful, 24/7.  Prayer, in a deeper sense than the beseeching sense, means communion.  It means connection.  I’m sure you have had times in your life when you felt disconnected.  Alone.  Lonely.  Loneliness is not about a lack of people in our lives.  It is about being and feeling disconnected from that beautiful power that exists in this world, that Power that is everywhere present.  The reality is we can not be disconnected from It, because It really is everywhere present.  We’ve just shut ourselves off from It.  

We shut ourselves off from It by judging others.  We shut ourselves off from It by hatred.  We shut ourselves off from It by putting up walls of defense.  We shut ourselves off from It by acting in ways which run counter to our deepest beliefs and values.  And when we shut ourselves off from It, It never goes away.  It just affirms our way of being, because that, in essence, is what we have been praying for.  It always says yes.  So we judge and hate and build walls and separate ourselves further from It by separating ourselves from our fellow humans.  We live in terms of us and them.  And we get lonelier, and sicker, and more and more hateful and judgmental, and we wonder how God could be doing the things he is doing?  And then we shut ourselves off from God even more because now we are mad at Him.

I am finding it necessary to take a deep breath now.  Breathe.  Breathe out that pain and misery born of ignorance, and breathe in relief, and truth, and the love of God.

Because in reality that is really what God is.  It is love.  That’s all.  But that is quite a bit.  It covers everything.  In some circles there are seven qualities,  or attributes, of Spirit that are mentioned.  Those attributes are love,  light, peace, power, joy and beauty.

I’m going to make an assumption here and assume that you believe that God is indeed everywhere present.  Another way of putting it is that there is no place where God is not.  No place.  You are here.  And if there is no place where God is not, then God is in you.  

I’m going to make another assumption and assume that you believe that the qualities of God are indeed love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty.

If you believe that there is no place where God is not, and if you believe that the qualities of God are love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty, then you must also believe that YOU are made of love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty.   And if you believe in what the Bible says, then you believe that the way to pray is 24/7, without ceasing.  

If you believe all that, then the way to pray is to embody those qualities of love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty.  All day.  Every day.  As best as you can.  This is the mystical and very deep power of prayer.  When we strive to pray like this, prayer does indeed change the mind of the one doing the praying.

In Sanskrit, prayer means seeing oneself as wonderfully made.  How much more wonderful can you get than to think of yourself as the essence of love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty?  

I am reminded of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.  You may know it as the 11th step prayer if you are a 12 stepper.  This prayer goes like this:  

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.

The prayer begins with a beseeching to an outside entity, but then, it moves deeper.  It asks for us to become peace.  It asks for us to become love instead of hatred.  It asks for us to forgive instead of perpetuating the offense.  It asks for us to bring harmony to discord.  It asks for us to speak the truth.  What truth?  OUR truth!  This calls for an extraordinary level of self awareness, which calls for a regular practice of introspection, which is another form of prayer, and the topic of which could be another talk or blog post.  Back to the prayer.  This prayer calls us to replace our doubts with faith, our despair with hope.  It calls for us the Be the light, shining on the darkness of hatred and judgement and bigotry and shame.  It calls for us to be joyful.  It calls for us to turn away from such self centered and selfish motives as wanting consolation, understanding and love and to turn towards consoling others, loving others and understanding others.  And it tells us that when we do this, we find ourselves, our true selves.  Thus that old self, that lonely miserable old self, dies, and we reawaken to an eternal life that is filled with so much love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty that we sometimes wonder about it.  How can I, a lowly human, be filled with so much love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty?

And here’s the kicker to this prayer:  it is in giving that one receives.  In Science of Mind we call this the Law of Attraction.  This law says that what we give, we receive.  I find it somewhat ironic that we are back to where we began, beseeching to an outside entity, only now we have received that which we have asked for, because we have become that which we have asked for.

So go out into the world.  BE love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty.  Every time you find yourself judging, remember.  Every time you find yourself separating yourself from the sunlight of the Spirit by building walls of us and them, tear down those walls.  Every time you find yourself hating something or someone, replace that hatred with love.  Every time you discover an example of sadness, bring some joy to it.  Every time you want to participate in feeding disharmony by choosing a side, instead seek to understand.  BE the voice and the example of Spirit in your every action and your every thought.  Allow to die a natural death pessimism and negativity, and replace that with optimism and positive thinking.  

And watch your life resurrect into something new and wonderful; and what you have prayed for manifest.

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What are you painting on the canvas of your life?

A year ago today I received my ordination from Centers for Spiritual Living.  It was a long road to get there:  8 years of education plus 4 years of working “in the field” after graduating with a Masters Degree in Consciousness Studies.  When I look at the photos of me in my memories feed, I see someone who looks tired.  I was doing what that lady in the commercial for anti depression meds was doing, walking around with a paper smiley face to cover up what was really going on.  I had experienced so many changes and losses in such a short time during that period of my life and I was weathering it as best as I could.  I’m strong.  That is a character asset that has served me well many times in my life, allowing me to persevere and sometimes even succeed, no matter what.  But the shadow side of that is that I became accustomed to only being able to succeed when I felt a need to be strong to stand against what life was dishing out. That is not a good way to live.  Today I’ve come out the other end of that journey.  The active grieving is done, the PTS (I refuse to call a normal reaction to shit happening a disorder) is lessening in frequency and intensity, and today I have learned that I can succeed without hardship.  I can and do succeed just because that’s the natural and normal progression of things. And today the sun is shining and it isn’t snowing, for the first time in weeks!  So today I will bundle up and venture out into the world to continue painting on the canvas of my life.  As Ernest Holmes said, “we must all become artists in living,” and today I am an artist painting a bright and glorious canvas!

If it is true that every thought sets the fulfillment of its desire in motion, and I believe it is, then it behooves us to make sure our thoughts are setting good motions in place.  Ernest Holmes tells us that “trained thought is far more powerful than untrained....”

This means we must take steps to train our mind.  Those steps are the spiritual practices of self inquiry and meditation.  Done together regularly, consistently and persistently, these two practices allow for a trained mind that is supportive and friendly.

I am fond of saying that my mind is not the boss of me, but that doesn’t just happen automatically.  I had to do some work to establish a positive relationship between me and my mind.  You may be familiar with the saying that the mind is a dangerous neighborhood, we should not go there alone.  When I first began the spiritual practices of self inquiry and meditation, it was very scary and uncomfortable.  But I was told that my life would get better if I did these practices.  I did, and it did.

Today, I not only DO these practices daily, but they are a lifestyle for me. It hasn’t always been like this, but I can assure you that if you make a beginning you will eventually end up with a trained mind that is a friend, not a foe.

If you have an untrained mind that seems to be against you, I can help.  Contact me for more information.

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Fun
Fabulous Unique Nut
Feeling Up Now
Feeling the Universe Now
Find Ur Nature
What is fun?  Think about it.  How do you have fun?  You DO have fun don't you?  Do you do fun things?  Is life itself fun?  Or do you simply go from one SHOULD to another, one task to another, thinking that you will have fun one of these days?
I have an invitation for you:  don't do it if it isn't fun.  Yep.  I have learned that life is too short to do anything that isn't fun.  But your fun is different than my fun.  The key is to figure out what is fun for you.
And so we get to the first invitation when we consider fun:  Figure it out!  Figure Unique Nourishment.

...continue reading "FUN: Fill Unique Niche Or Fabulous Unique Nut or …?"

Every week, I create a talk which I deliver at one and sometimes two places.  Sometimes I’m a guest speaker at various Centers for Spiritual Living in my area, and every Monday night I do the talk as a prelude to an open discussion.  We call these discussions Monday Night Musings, and if you live in the Lake Tahoe, Reno or Carson Valley areas, you are welcome to attend.  Every Monday night at 6 PM at A-to-Zen in Carson City.  Monday Night Musings are sponsored by the Center for Spiritual Living Carson City and while they are free, love offerings are gratefully accepted.  These offerings support the various endeavors of CSL Carson City, which are all in line with the mission of providing spiritual tools to live happier lives.  And they are tax deductible!

The process by which I create the talk takes all week.  At the beginning of the week, I  download the topic outline.  Each week’s outline was supplied by a different CSL minister, in a grass roots effort called The Global Vision.  What is cool about this is that many Centers all over the world are all following the same topic outlines, so no matter where you go, you will find the same general topic. And the beauty of it is that depending on the minister who is delivering the talk, you will get a different take on the topic!  After downloading the outline, I read it, and also read the week’s reading from the Ernest Holmes book Living the Science of Mind.  Then I let all that stuff “cook” in my consciousness for a few days.  By the time I sit down to write, things usually flow fairly smoothly and out comes a talk!

My take on this topic is life changing.  At least it was for me.  It reminds me that who I am today, and how I show up in the world today, need not be based on who I was yesterday.  It also need not be based on the events of yesterday.  This is a powerful way of thinking for those of us who have had unpleasantness occur in our lives.  And who hasn’t?

The truth is that we can be limited by basing our current lives on the past, or we can break those bonds and fly free.  My choice is to fly free.  What is yours?

Like many of you, and many of the people I know and love, I woke up Wednesday morning shocked, dismayed, and very very frightened.

I consider myself a fiscal conservative who believes in true equality for all. What that boils down to is I think government needs to get out of our personal lives, and stop enabling people by paying for things that, quite honestly, they should pay for themselves. I believe in lending a helping hand. I've taken advantage of those helping hands at times in my life, but while doing so I also took steps to educate myself, and do my inner work, so that I could once again become responsible for my own life. It is very empowering to do that and I am grateful I had people in my life who refused to enable me. But what I believe in most of all, and this....excuse the language...trumps everything else...is equality. I'm so over racism, and misogyny and bigotry and hateful language which very often results in hateful acts. This is a deep value of mine, and one that takes importance over everything else, so when I vote, I vote equal rights no matter what. No matter whether I agree with the rest of it.

I tell you this because I believe it is important we know what our values are, because all of our thoughts, words and deeds stem from our values. I was frightened post election because I perceived that my country had elected a person who, from his words during the campaign, believed in the opposite of equality for all. Not only that, he seemed to embrace misogyny, hatred, bigotry and racism. I'm frightened of that. To be honest, I did not even investigate policy with him, because I couldn't get past the hateful language.

I also believe that after all I've experienced and done in my life, I am not here to live a fear based life. I believe that we either live a fear based life or a faith based life. Living a fear based life means I believe in us and them. Living a fear based life means I say hateful things, take sides, view others with suspicion, and feel a need to protect myself. It also means I judge others who are not exactly like me. It means I can't make eye contact with people I meet on the street. I can not and will not live like that. I choose to live a faith based life. Living a faith based life means I believe in Oneness, there is no separation between me and you. If I say hateful things to you, I am also saying them to myself. And vice versa. In my faith, I have learned that everything I experience has been for the good. And I've experienced a lot that most "normal" people don't. It has all been for the good. Living a faith based life also means that when I'm experiencing fear, as I was the other day, the call is not to declare sides and lash out in anger and blame others. The call is to go inward and investigate what it is I am afraid of, exactly, and why. And do my inner work so that I can move back into faith. And then make amends if, in my fear, I did any damage.

I've done the inner work. I am now back in faith. I now once again remember that outside appearances have no power to affect me except if I give them that power. I now once again remember that we are all one. I now once again remember that blame only keeps me in the problem. Pointing fingers at others only keeps me in the problem. Focusing on what I am afraid of only keeps me in the problem.

I am not advocating spiritual bypass....which is simply an exotic way of talking about denial. What I am advocating is that we stop contributing to the divisiveness in this world and begin to contribute to peace.

It is time for us to do our inner work, and make amends. I've been reading some interesting articles that basically say that Trump won this election not because of his misogyny, bigotry and racism, but in spite of it. He won because he represented change to a people who are tired of not making enough money, tired of things not working right. I'm tired of that too. I'm tired of people telling me they won't hire me as a photographer or wedding officiant because I charge too much. I'm tired of people who value price over quality. I'm tired of people telling me ministers should do the work they do for free. I'm tired of the government telling me what I can and cannot do in my personal life. Don't EVEN get me started on seat belts. My point is here that those of us who say we believe in tolerance and equality have not listened to the cries from "those other people." We've just judged and separated ourselves from them. Part of my amends is that I will no longer do that.

I've received a few phone calls and emails the past few days from ministers and practitioners (spiritual coaches) who wanted treatment (prayer) and help with the fear they were experiencing. I am also witnessing many who are posting things on Facebook that indicate to me they are still in fear. It is time to move out of our fear folks. It is time to embrace what is. Should we hold Donald Trump accountable? You bet. Do we need to ensure that human rights don't take a step backward? You bet. Should we blame and point fingers and say he isn't our president, when he will be come January? No. That is more separation, more fear based thinking, and it will only keep us in the problem.

One last thing: the good that has come out of this? Ernest Holmes, the founder of what we now call Centers for Spiritual Living, said that healing can only come from revealing. For a long time we've been able to hide the fact that there is racism and misogyny and bigotry in this country. Now it is out in the open. No one can deny it. Now that it is revealed in all its ugly glory, we can heal it. That is my job from this point onward. I don't know how I'm going to do this job, but I know I'm going to do it. Won't you join me?

On Sunday, I will be speaking at the Center for Spiritual Living in Carson City about how to survive....and thrive....in this unsettling time. I hope you will join me. Meditation at 10, service at 10:30. 3579 Highway 50 East in Unit 301. We are in the iStorage Business Park across from Goodwill. Don't use GPS to find us unless you want to take a scenic tour.

Christmas is six days away, but it's not too late to get into the Christmas spirit if you haven't already.  I've been encountering some folks who are  having trouble getting into the spirit this year.  Here's a quote from one of my friends which seems to sum up what I've been hearing,

"Of late, I have been dreading the over-commercialism and expected gluttony of consumerism. Avoiding Christmas at best..."

And yet, I'm also noticing that many of these same people who are objecting to the commercialism and crowds are also deciding to do something new.

And I think this is really what Christmas can be about:  a rebirth of sorts.   We can decide to view things in a different way.

Ernest Holmes says that viewing Christmas as a time for honoring birth is more about "a birth in our consciousness as the realization of love, of truth, of beauty and of power."  (from the December issue of Science of Mind magazine, in continuous publication since 1927)

"The new birth comes not by observation nor by loud proclamation, but through an inner sense of reality."  Science of Mind textbook, page 472

If you are having trouble enjoying the beauty, love, truth and power of Christmas, maybe it is time to look at changing your perception about it.