Recently, I was guided to go see the movie A Quiet Place in the theater. Yes, I was guided by my Soul to see a horror film! In the past, I avoided horror films because I didn’t like the tension building, feeling anxious or being startled. I put off seeing this particular movie for several weeks, but I know how this works. As we teach in the Standing in the Light® program, our divine selves, our Souls, have an expanded perspective and can see potentials that we just can’t comprehend from our limited viewpoint in the physical realm. My lower self might believe that I won’t possibly get anything out of a horror film, but my Soul knows otherwise. I have learned to trust my Soul.
So, I went to the movie knowing that I might get scared, might jump out of my seat and that people in the film would probably die. I was fully conscious of the kind of experience I was likely to have, yet I still got pulled into the movie enough to feel some of the tension, to jump in my seat at key moments and to feel a little sad when some of the characters died. But what I discovered, what my Soul desired for me to have the opportunity to understand, is that I still had fun! I wasn’t just accepting or tolerating the movie, not just sitting there and getting through it, but fully and truly enjoying all aspects of it: the scary parts, the sad parts, the heart-warming and poignant moments. When I let go of the resistance and the judgment and just embraced the whole experience, I genuinely enjoyed it.
Every time I jumped in my seat or felt a little intense about the action, I laughed at myself and remembered that it was just temporary and that it wasn’t real. And that’s the key. When we know that this is all just an illusion, a temporary experience that we chose step into, even the things we judge as horrible or bad experiences can be beautiful. When we remember who we are and remember the divine truth underneath the physical trappings, it’s quite wonderful.
Richard Bach writes of the metaphor of life as a movie in his book Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. He reminds us that our physical lives as humans are a temporary illusion, like a film, that we write, direct, act in and also serve as audience. At the level of our Soul consciousness, we can change the script, change the roles we play, change the background scenery and even stop the movie all together. All of these factors are part of the illusion that we’re experiencing and cannot change our divine essence, the truth of who we are within.
So, regardless of what type of movie you’re watching in your life right now, embrace it, love it and let go of your judgments of it. See the gift of learning and move on to the next scene. As you truly begin to master each scene with complete acceptance, you will find that you can begin to make changes in the script mid-movie! You can shift your experience even while you are experiencing it, but only when you surrender your judgments of it and see the truth underneath. So, grab your popcorn and enjoy the film!
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The Most Reverend Michael Curry, bishop of the American Episcopal church, recently gave an inspiring sermon at the wedding of Prince Harry and his bride, Meghan, on the power of love as a profound source of change in the world. He said:
If you don’t believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to center around you and your beloved. Oh, there’s power, power in love. Not just in its romantic forms but any form, any shape of love…. There’s a certain sense in which when you are loved and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it, when you love and you show, it actually feels right. There’s something right about it. And there’s a reason for it; the reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love and our lives are meant to be lived in that love…. Ultimately the source of love is God Himself, the source of all of our lives.
Reverend Curry invited us to re-connect with that passion of love within each of us. We sometimes fall into the habit of thinking about divine love as serene to the point of being bland, but we can find the fiery, joyful aspects in divine love just as we can see it in our passion for a significant other or intense love for a child. It’s time to bring back the passion in our devotion to the divine. Many Sufi poets wrote of the ecstasy of being in love with the divine and spoke of courting that love as one might court a lover, not in a sexual sense but with the pure, unconditional passion of love.
Let yourself remember a time as a child when something was new and wonderful to you or a time when you saw the world as radiantly beautiful because you had newly fallen in love. Re-capture that feeling of awe and wonder, then allow yourself to expand that feeling to encompass everyone and everything. Allow yourself to fall in love with the world, with all of creation, with every part of your life. That is the passionate side of divine love.
When we feel that kind of joy, we feel as if we can accomplish anything. We don’t see obstacles but rather opportunities. Living in that blissful state opens us to limitless possibilities and a genuine desire to create for the benefit of all. That is the power of love.
In his sermon, Reverend Curry shared a passage from the Song of Solomon in the Bible: “Love is as powerful as death; passion is as strong as death itself. It bursts into flame and burns like a raging fire. Water cannot put it out; no flood can drown it.” True, divine love is eternal and expansive. Remember the unquenchable love within you and let the passion and desire of your Soul catch fire in the world.
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If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to His face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?
What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home?
– “One of Us”, lyrics by Eric Brazilian
This song was first released by Joan Osborne in 1995. The underlying theme is that you never know who you’re talking to and should treat everyone as if they might be God come to Earth. After all, Jesus was born in a humble barn and lived a carpenter’s life. To many, he didn’t look like the long-prophesied king they had been waiting to see. Buddha gave up all of his princely trappings to live among the people. And the homeless person you pass on the street who is asking for money might in fact be your greatest spiritual teacher, allowing you the opportunity to see past the surface to the divinity within all of us. So, what if God was one of us? Do you just walk past God?
In the past, when I was in a challenging situation involving other people and was having trouble seeing things from their perspective, I used to visualize that each person involved in the conflict was me. I gave them each my face and my voice and ran through the scenario as if all the players speaking and acting were other versions of myself. It helped me to remove the judgments I might have been holding about the individuals and allowed me to see from a more unified perspective, and I could better focus on what the situation was mirroring to me and what I still needed to heal within myself. It also helped me empathize and have compassion for the experiences and viewpoints of others, regardless of whether my mental body believed they were reasonable or justified.
And this exercise is meant to help us remember the divine truth. We are all playing all the parts here on Earth, in different bodies but still completely connected and created of the same infinite Source. At the level of our Godselves, we are all having all experiences together, as One.
God does walk among us because we are each an aspect of God/ Goddess incarnate. God is not just among us but Is each and every one of us. Make it your practice to go through life treating everyone as divine, giving everyone the face of God/ Goddess because that’s who you’re talking to, regardless of the name they’ve been given or the body they’re in. Who do you choose to be when God is one us?
There is an old story: Two monks are walking along a road and come to a large stream. A beautiful young woman is standing by the stream trying to cross. She asks for assistance. The monks have given vows of chastity in which they have declared they will not touch a woman or lust after the pleasures of the flesh. But one monk agrees to carry the woman across as an act of charity and he takes her to the other stream bank. As they continue along the road, the second monk is outraged and continues to lecture the first monk about breaking his vows. The first monk replies, “I only carried her across the stream but you’re still carrying her.”
The second monk had a strong story in his mind about who a monk should be and what he should be doing. He was unwilling to let go of that limitation in order to look more deeply at what was the most open-hearted response in that situation. If we look within ourselves, we may see this same energy. We carry our stories, sometimes from far in the past, and what we believe is comforting and protective becomes a heavy burden to carry which prevents us from easily moving forward in our lives and being the Truth of who we are.
Sometimes, we use stories to justify our own actions and excuse ourselves from responsibility. We might fall into a pattern of explaining ourselves with something like, “I’ve always been this way ever since that certain experience happened to me.” Other times, we may use stories to justify our behavior toward others as in, “If I’d only known she was going through that, then I would have been more understanding.” Though it is often subconsciously done, we may allow those stories to direct our behavior rather than going within for guidance on how to respond with love. The good news is that we can choose to become conscious of those stories and choose to free ourselves by letting them go. We do not have to be the same person we were several years ago or even several minutes. We don’t have to let our stories define us.
A friend once shared with me that she attended a workshop on taking responsibility for your actions and the facilitator made the following point: If you find yourself in a situation such as arriving late for a meeting with someone and saying things like, “I’m late because I got stuck behind a slow driver,” or “Traffic was really bad,” then become aware of how this shifts responsibility away from you and justifies your choices using a story. The facilitator suggested saying something like, “I apologize for keeping you waiting, I didn’t allow enough travel time this morning.” This is ownership of responsibility and also puts the power back in your hands for your actions. You are not at the effect of anyone or anything, even your own self-justifications.
Many people confuse taking responsibility with self-blame. Often, when we try to take responsibility for our actions, we end up berating ourselves for not doing it differently, not knowing better, etc. This is not responsibility but self-recrimination, guilt and shame. Divine Responsibility is simply the ability to respond, to be fully present and aware in every situation and to listen within for the response that serves the highest good. You don’t need to hear anyone else’s back story or declare your own in order to hear your inner wisdom on how to be a loving and compassionate being in each moment.
How are your New Year’s resolutions holding up? If that question caused a little hesitation, then you’re not alone. Studies show that only a fraction of those who set resolutions actually carry them through the entire year. Even by March, commitment tends to flag and we slide back into our old habits and routines. The first glow of success fades and then we hit that period where we’re doing it through sheer willpower because whatever change we desire to make hasn’t yet become part of who we are.
I recently hit a bump in the road with some intentions that I set for myself. Like many, I felt really good about these new changes in the beginning but realized that my enthusiasm was waning as the outer results became less obvious and noticeable. My new daily routine felt less uplifting and more of a chore. I had already hit a plateau!
I realized that I still had some attachments to seeing certain results rather than taking the actions simply from pure love and joy. I was focusing on satisfaction in the future rather than enjoying the experience in the present. In her book, Start Where You Are, Pema Chodron discusses this Buddhist concept of expecting no fruition to your actions. At first it sounds defeatist to let go of any thoughts of reaching your goals, but it’s actually very freeing. It’s about letting go of expectations and surrendering to the experience in each moment without any judgment of the outcomes. Even on the spiritual path, what may seem like very evolved goals can become traps if they are so important to us that we lose sight of the value of the experience itself. Chodron explains it this way:
As long as you’re wanting to be thinner, smarter, more enlightened, less uptight, or whatever it might be, somehow you’re always going to be approaching your problem with the very same logic that created it to begin with: you’re not good enough. That’s why the habitual pattern never unwinds itself when you’re trying to improve, because you go about it in exactly the same habitual style that caused all the pain to start.
It’s all too easy for our mental selves to turn the idea of experiencing even spiritual states such as Enlightenment, Ascension and Oneness into something that we haven’t managed to achieve, which just brings us back to disappointment and self-doubt. If we start jogging just to look better for our high school reunion, we lose the experience of being in the body while running and that feeling of sending loving energy to the miracle of the body. If we start pitching new ideas at work only to gain a promotion, we may miss the pure joy of being more creatively expressive and the value of working collaboratively. Each of these life changes have rewards already built in, even if the outward goal is never realized. But if we focus solely on where we’re going or what we’re going to get out of it, we lose the bigger prize- the greater awareness of our true inner self.
So, go ahead and set your intentions to create your Soul’s vision, but let go of any attachments to the end results. When we expect no fruition to our actions, we are freed from anxiety and self-judgment and can relax into the enjoyment and insights of our actions right in this moment.