Alan Watts: “If we cling to a belief in god, we cannot likewise have faith, since faith is not clinging but letting go.”
Joseph Campbell: “… to worship a god, you must become that god. No matter what you call the god or think it is, the god you worship is the one you are capable of becoming. The power of a deity is that it personifies a power that is in Nature and in your nature. When you find that level, then you are in play. That is the work of art in general, because art really is a worship.”
Me, yesterday, in conversation with a friend: “instead of going with the flow, I want to take it deeper. I want to TRUST the flow.” Because trusting the flow means I can truly let go. Sometimes, when I’m just going with the flow, I’m still attempting to control or manipulate it. Truly letting go takes trust. Which then means I must explore what it is I am trusting.
Then there is this, from Obi Wan Kenobi: “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.”
The Force is, for me, what god is.
And lest you scoff at me quoting fictional movie characters, I’ll just say that the creator of Star Wars, George Lucas, studied Science of Mind. It is my personal opinion that the concepts in the Star Wars movies are great illustrations of this wonderful teaching that has so effectively allowed me to live an even greater life than I ever imagined.
So here I am, trusting, embodying, having faith instead of belief. Asking myself, what does that look like in every day life? It is an interesting exercise in self reflection. If I trust, then I must also accept. Oh, and here’s another comment, made by me when asked by my horse trainer/equine therapist, as she does after every lesson “what did you learn today?”: “allow but continue on.”
This means I must allow what is happening (which for me means I don’t resist it, judge it, try to manipulate it, or attempt to control it) but also continue on with my mission in life. Whether that mission is to continue the horse back ride or to continue doing my minister work in the world or continue doing the laundry or continue to know the good for myself and others. I must allow but also continue on. And that takes trust, and embodying, and having faith.
Such are my thoughts today as I move out into the world to get a massage and do a wedding. And see the completion of the derockifying of my riding trail. WEEHAW! Can’t wait to ride on it!
Today I trust, embody the good, and have faith. Oh, and I play today. And because I also want to play a bit, because play is always a part of things in my life, I’m going to include an oldie but a goodie meme I made three years ago. Because it takes trust, embodiment and faith to do things that are considered crazy, delusional and ambitious. And that, my friends, is what a life looks like when one lives in trust, embodiment and faith.
Life is certainly a rich tapestry isn’t it? At least it is for me. I’ve got some real stuff going on, both personally and of course, at a global level. At the global level, I am feeling the angst, the dismay, the anguish and the anger of my fellow human beings. I vacillate between wanting to go out in the world and do things, and realizing I can only do so much. Every day for me I combat anger the likes of which I have not experienced since before getting sober, which has been over 33 years. I combat spontaneous tears. For the first time in over 33 years, I have a fear of people. Dealing with this is a daily event, every day I must renew my faith. I know what it feels like to live a fear free life, and quite frankly it is simply unacceptable to be experiencing a return of this kind of fear. I know what I must do to replace that fear with faith; this is the ultimate in self care. Not getting manicures and massages, although a massage is currently on my short term list of things to do. But on this journey, I must remember that these kinds of feelings, the fear, the anger, the grief, are normal given what is happening, even if they are not fun. I must honor them, but not nourish them. Instead, I must take a deeper dive into self care than I ever have before. This means talking regularly to the person I have chosen to be my counselor to guide me through this uncharted territory. This means accepting offers of help. It means loving the casseroles that people are bringing over. That one is not difficult to do. This means allowing loving people into my life, and eliminating hateful and unkind and ignorant people from it. I’ve been doing a lot of rearranging on my Facebook page lately. It means not feeling guilty that I simply do not have it in me at the moment to do more out in the world. It means changing my thinking on a daily basis, using the spiritual practices of gratitude and affirmative prayer as I never have before. I’ve been revisiting my book collection, and am rereading some old favorites that have always nourished me. Yesterday I thanked one of Floyd’s doctors for quickly responding to a request we had made. She told me not to thank her and I burst into tears. Why would I not thank her? I like this doc. Others, not so much, but this one, I like. I text her, she calls back within a half hour and our request is honored with one phone call. She is Hindu, and has an approach to things that is part science and part spiritual, and I really identify with that. She honors Floyd’s decisions regarding his medical care, and I love that. Every day is a wild ride of witnessing people doing stupid shit and saying the most outlandish things. Yesterday I heard a man proclaim, very loudly, that his daddy beat him regularly, sometimes with a belt and sometimes without one, and that he had learned respect because of it, and he was respectful now because of it. Despite the fact that he was loudly proclaiming his respect in a very disrespectful way. Sigh. My anger came back. The old me would have taken him on and told him to shut up in a physical way. But that was my old life and this is my new life. I do things differently now. And I’m 65 years old and all of 5 feet tall. I know my limits, and I also know that to engage in such dark behavior leads only to more dark behavior. I inwardly acknowledged my anger and simply left the area. Sometimes I bless those ignorant idiots. But mostly I’m beyond even that now. I leave them to their misery and move on. The fact that almost daily there are opportunities to make a choice like that is a very good indicator of what is happening in society right now. Then I did a wedding. A sacred and beautiful thing, and I was left with the feelings of wonder and joy and gratitude that I get to participate in such important events in people’s lives. And that horrible angry man was left behind to his own devices while I moved on to participate in and help create more beauty in life. Every day I participate in wonderful new beginnings: weddings are off the charts this year. And I’ve taken to asking each of my wedding couples, “why now?” And their response is always the same, no matter what the circumstances are, “it’s time.” I believe that people want certainty in a very uncertain world, and for these couple, getting married is the way to achieve it. Tomorrow I facilitate the last of a month long class I’ve been teaching, called “The Art of Uncertainty.” Yes, there is an art to it. And a beauty, and when we open up to uncertainty, we experience things we would never have experienced otherwise. But I’m left thinking if there is such a thing as too much uncertainty? Who knows? What I know right now is that this time is populated with a roller coaster ride of emotions. Daily I experience the kind of anger I haven’t experienced in a very long time. Daily I cry. Daily I experience joy and gratitude and remember the peace that comes from faith and loving kindness. Daily I even experience some joy. Roller coaster. I used to like those when I was a kid. Go figure. What I know is that with the last class tomorrow, it will be the last class I teach for at least a few months. What I know is that my interim ministry assignment will end on August 31, and I will not be accepting a new one for at least a few months. What I know is that I need to spend some time at home with my dying husband. People are beginning to refer to me as the care giver. I hate that name. And yet, because of what I do for a living, I know the important role that care givers play, and I know how important self care is for a care giver. So I will continue on this self care journey. I once created a workshop on self care. I presented it to ministers, who quite often are not the best examples of self care. (This is a huge understatement by the way.) I believe it was a success. One lady showed up and complimented me. She said, “if you had begun talking about manicures and massages I would have been out of here.” No, self care is not about manicures and massages. It is about self love. It is about self compassion. It is about mindfulness. It is about knowing one’s boundaries, and setting them and keeping them. So today I do the ultimate in self care, and I hope you do the same.
It would help if I meditated. Yes it would. But writing helps too, and so I write.
What is it I need help with on this fine Saturday morning? Nothing really. I’m just a bit scattered. Trying to land on something so I can concentrate enough to do what needs doing. I’m working on a few things. A new workshop. A talk. Two books. Trying to figure out technically how to create an online self guided class (if anyone is moved to help me with this one I sure would appreciate it).
I discovered a few daffodil plants in my yard last week, and today they are blooming! I love the spring bulbs and will plant more of those in the fall, so that next spring I will have even more. I could create a new version of Daffodil Hill, since weather eliminated my annual spring trip this year.
I believe I will make a batch of chili today. Monthly pot luck is tonight and it is good chili weather.
My photo today is a screen shot of my Kindle. Yes, I read a lot. Most books I read all the way through, then return to them again and again for research. Some are for pure entertainment purposes. Those are the ones with the semi naked men on the covers.
Today I turned to Joseph Campbell for a bit of inspiration. He always seems to just dial it in for me.
“The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.” I often tell my clients that they cannot do anything about what anyone else is doing. They usually do not want to hear that. I don’t want to hear it. But it is true.
“The Hoarder, the one in us that wants to keep, to hold on, must be killed. If we are hanging onto the form now, we’re not going to have the form next. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. Destruction before creation.” Yes, we must let go of what is in order to move into our next greatest level of expression. I’ve been using that phrase for quite some time, and just recently discovered that Joseph Campbell said something similar. Unfortunately, it is my experience that most people would rather live with the devil they know about than move into something new. The unknown is much scarier than the known, even if the known is shitty and the new is likely to be better. So they stay stuck, they hoard, and fight any destruction that may be happening. I’ve seen people do this to their death. Literally. Sigh.
“Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up. The earth must be broken to bring forth life. If the seed does not die, there is no plant. Bread results from the death of wheat.” People come to me when they are in pain, and without exception, I discover that the pain is just a symptom of a lifelong pattern. The solution to the pain is in recognizing the pattern and then changing the pattern, from the inside out. But most folks don’t want to do this. They want instant gratification, a quick fix. The idea of taking a look at the pain and the messages it has for them is not something they are even willing to consider.
“When seeking your partner, if your intuition is a virtuous one, you will find him or her. If not, you’ll keep finding the wrong person.” I’ve often put it like this: water seeks it’s own level, and we humans are made primarily of water. Another thing people do not want to hear. They would rather blame the other.
I’m reading a new book, it’s called A New Republic of the Heart. I’m only 7% into it, and still reading about the problem. They haven’t gotten into the solution yet. Perhaps that is part of the reason why I’m feeling a bit pessimistic this morning and why my writing seems a bit cynical. But I will persevere in reading this one, because I trust the folks who recommended this particular book.
And isn’t that what ultimately provides the willingness to hang out in the pain for a while, to examine it and discover the lessons it has for us? Trust. Or faith. Call it what you will. We need to trust that it will be better, or else why would we subject ourselves to this shit? Trust or faith is one of those things I find difficult to describe. I have ultimate faith in a Power that I like to call The Force. It is within me, a part of me. This means I also trust my instincts, inclinations, and ideas. It took a while to get to that point, and today, when I work with folks who simply cannot believe in a religious God, that male entity that is so separate from them as to be unreachable, and I present the idea that perhaps God is hiding in a place they would never think to look, within them, well, let’s just say the rebellion reminds me of a teenager, plotting to run away in the middle of the night because no one can tell them what to do! They refuse to consider anything different, and they refuse to consider anything known. They create their own stuckness. And yet, when I speak with people about this, they remain stuck. They refuse to consider that their stuckness is not a barrier but a cleverly concealed path to joy and freedom. They go away, and call themselves seekers, and never find anything. The truth is there is nothing to seek, and nothing to find, there is only our own incredible power to create. But sometimes we misuse that power.
So it seems as if today I am inspired to be cynical. To be pessimistic. To be real here, I know the reason for this and it has nothing to do with the latest book I am reading. But I can’t reveal the reason because to do so would violate the privacy of another human being. But I have clarity now, and that helps. On days like today, sometimes it is all we can do to acknowledge the feelings and be gentle with oneself and move on as best we can. And when the sadness and grief give way to anger, I will do my best to not react and do something that will get me into trouble. And when the anger gives way to acceptance and I breathe a bit easier, I will then be able to explore what lessons are in this experience, for me.
So that is what I will do today: notice my feelings, notice the new life in the form of the daffodils in my yard, create something new in the form of the chili, share my creation with others tonight at the potluck. And revel in the joy that is humanity, even in the midst of strife. And that, my friends, is what faith looks like.
I have two weddings today, with a break in between during which I will do one of my favorite things: have lunch somewhere by myself and read. And this morning I’ve begun the day’s journey with more reading. I love to read. It simultaneously changes my consciousness and gives me ideas. Reading transforms my thinking from doubt, worry, disappointment, dissatisfaction and general malaise to confidence, faith, hope, contentment and general well being. Reading also is part of my research for much of the stuff I get to do in life that pays the bills: the workshops and retreats, and my writing. I take in the wisdom of others, and let it simmer inside of me, like cooking a great meal in a slow cooker, and then, when it is ready, out pops my own unique flavor of wisdom. I have two workshops coming up, one I have designed and completed. It’s actually one I’ve been doing for years, one that was requested. When a workshop I’ve already done has been requested, I simply tweak the workshop to better represent and match the audience. So one workshop is ready to go. The other one is about fear. I only have three hours for this workshop, and fear, well, fear covers a lot of ground. Do we lean into it? Avoid it? Do we believe the teaching that fear and faith or love cannot co-exist at the same time in the same entity? How do we recognize fear in our lives and what does it have to teach us? And what do we do about it when it comes? This promises to be a doozy of a workshop and I am excited to see how it develops. I’ve got a good beginning. I’m also in the midst of creating a series of talks about abundance, and so much of my reading is on that topic. I love the weddings and portrait sessions. When I did that work full time, it not only provided my means to pay the bills, but it fed something within me and I was full up, complete. Now that I do that work part time, it still contributes to paying the bills, but it only feeds part of me. After all the training and schooling, I’ve changed. After all the inner and outer changes in my life, I’ve transformed and thus, how I show up in the world has transformed, and what I need to feel that contentment I spoke of has changed. What really feeds me is the other work: the workshops, the retreats, the teaching. What I have to say to the world is that life truly begins from the inside of us. If we don’t go within, we go without, and everything I do begins within. My life is wonderful, and being able to facilitate this transformation in other people is what truly feeds me now. So on this beautiful fall day I will go off into the world and do some wonderful work, and spend some time preparing to do some other wonderful work. Life is good.
In the comforting sounds of hearing the rain on the roof of my skylights, I contemplate. Contemplation is such a wonderful thing. I don't know about you but this spiritual practice is the one that allows my mind to wander and consider possibilities. Meditation trains the mind and brings focus, while contemplation seems to want to embrace a bigger picture. I read quotes like this one, and ask myself, am I settling? At times in life, the answer has been yes, I was settling. In my fear of the unknown, I settled for what was known, and it was limiting me. I am not settling now and that is a beautiful thing. For me, not settling means being willing to release the limiting known factors of my life. It means being willing to examine and change limiting beliefs, it means setting boundaries and not allowing people to treat me unkindly just because I want them to like or love me. This means stepping into the unknown, which calls for a certain measure of faith. When my spiritual practice consists of a power pack combo of meditation, contemplation and affirmative knowing, I am able to step into the greatest expression of Life! I hope you are doing the same today. Don't settle. Move into the greatest expression of who and what you are!
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.