With the Fourth of July holiday upon us, my friend, Marsha Hankins, suggested a few books by authors who explored their inner freedom even in the midst of physical imprisonment. Viktor E. Frankl, a Nazi holocaust survivor, tells his story in Man’s Search for Meaning. Immaculee Ilibagiza, a Rwandan holocaust survivor, writes her story in Left to Tell. Both Frankl and Ilibagiza describe the deprivation of the circumstances they survived in the physical realm. Both authors speak of what they were able to withstand physically because of the transformation within. We can look to these people as role models for finding inner peace and freedom.
Frankl writes, “ When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Ilibagiza, a Rwandan who spent three months in 1994 hiding in a small bathroom with 7 other women states, “I found a place in the bathroom to call my own: a small corner of my heart. I retreated there as soon as I awoke, and stayed there until I slept. It was my sacred garden, where I spoke with God, meditated on His words, and nurtured my spiritual self…I spent hours contemplating the meaning of a single word, such as forgiveness, faith, or hope.”
These are beautiful thoughts and feelings during two of the most violent episodes of the twentieth century. Most people know that 6 million Jews died during World War II, but might not know that 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and 10,000 Batwa died at the hands of their Rwandan countrymen, the Hutus, over the course of three months in 1994.
Besides the underlying fear and hatred that precipitated these genocides, the divisions of the culture into ethnic and religious, as well as other categories, allowed for the identifiable markers to permit such mass action of neighbors against each other. Separating ourselves and others into categories helps dehumanize the “other” from ourselves. It might even allow us to see a different group as the cause for our current problems or potential scapegoat for issues in the future.
The Nineteenth Century Danish Philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, said, “Once you label me, you negate me.” Not only does labeling negate who we truly are, but it is the seeds for incivility, discrimination, and ultimately, labeling is what leads to the divisiveness that has allowed hatred between groups and the consequences of violence against each other.
As with the Nazi and Rwandan Holocausts believing that the labeling of a person or a group as a basis for how they should be treated, is a slippery slope to civil wars and conflict all around the world.
What labels are you allowing to guide your thoughts, fears and prejudices currently?
Do you label yourself or others as liberals, conservatives, republicans, democrats, independents, gay, straight, male, female, or other? Do you label yourself and others based on education, religion, union membership, management, haves, have nots, 1%, or 99%? Do you label yourself as the ones with God on your side and the others with evil on its side? And then, do you use those labels to draw battle plans, determine who is right or wrong, demonizing them without discovering the issues or circumstances that make the others feel differently than you feel? Many of us take the label as the short cut for action and belief instead of taking the time to understand the human with the human fears, potential frailties and needs and desires, similar or different from our own.
Depending on which source you read, humans, chimpanzees and bonobos have 95% – 99% similar DNA with each other. If we are so similar to our animal brethren, why do humans label each other with abandoned disregard to the aspects that are similar within our own species? If we want to label ourselves, why not find common ground labeling like: air breathers, water drinkers, earthlings, sun revolvers, universalists, or unique expressions of Source. Aren’t these the qualities that we all are and need to cherish? Would the differences in our approach to policies be minimized if we saw the bigger picture, the “Bigger We” and used language with less rhetoric and hyperbole and more civility? Kierkegaard also stated: “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for freedom of thought…”
As we celebrate the birth of our nation, can we still hold the words of the Declaration of Independence to be true, to be self-evident? “That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Can we change the trajectory of the slippery slope of demonizing someone else because of cultural, religious, ethnic, political or orientation label? We cannot wait for the “other side” to become civil. We must examine our fears, our lack of feeling safe and secure, and our need for someone outside of us to protect our rights and to heal these issues within ourselves. We need to encourage our internal wisdom, power and strength. Then, as guided, we may take action in the outer world for the issues we believe are for the highest good of all, but we will do it based on inner wisdom, inner power and inner love. We must look, as Frankl and Ilibagiza did, to changing ourselves to recognize who we truly are: Unique Expressions of Source. No labels, no divisions, simply Source.
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!
photo by www.pixabay.com
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.
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I am writing today from a position and attitude of happiness. I would love to be able to tell you why I am happy – but I am not sure I can either quantify or justify why I am feeling this way. Which of course, makes it difficult to write any inspiring ideas as to how you might feel this happiness, too.
I could tell you it is the mild and beautiful weather in Colorado that is making me happy. I could tell you it is this fun dance community that I dance with that is making me happy. I could tell you that my husband and my dog have great dispositions and living with them makes me happy. I could tell you that I love how I serve humanity and mother earth, and that makes me happy. I could tell you that I have some cool adventures and travel plans for the rest of 2018 and that makes me happy.
All of these statements are true. But, I don’t think they make me happy. These details definitely allow for the possibility of happiness, but in the end, aren’t these just the results of my inner happiness shining through? My outer world is reflecting my inner world.
What does your outer world say about your inner world?
If you like what your outer world is telling you, that is great. Keep up that great energy! If you don’t like what your outer world is telling you, what do you need to change to bring into fruition what you really want to create for yourself? As Within, So Without. This is not just another platitude or punch line. I believe this is a universal truth. Our outer world can only be as great as our inner world is. As my teacher Kris Duffy use to say, you can’t heal the pimple by putting make up on the mirror that you use to see the pimple.
The Standing in the Light® Programs and the other blog entries here can help you with intellectual knowledge if you need reminders as how to take concrete steps to manifest your inner and outer world. Standing in the Light® Level 1 classes provide you the opportunity to learn how to manifest consciously.
5 Steps to Conscious Manifesting:
1. Learn how to align and connect to your own inner wisdom, your own guidance.
2. Learn the 3 R’s of manifesting: First “R” – Receive the Vision
3. Second “R” – Release / Clear the blocks to creating the vision
4. Third “R” – Resonate the vision and learn a 5th Dimensional healing and clearing technique.
5. Take Action Steps to bring Your Soul’s Vision into Fruition.
Use the energy of this summer to make any changes you want on the inner so that by fall you may see the changes on the outer – or you are comfortable enough with the inner world such that what the outer world shows you doesn’t define who you truly are.
Again, I ask, what does your outer world say about your inner world? Create it consciously.
With spring fully upon us, many people feel like it is a good time to tackle cleaning out our closets and picking up our desks. Tax season is over. Time to decide what documents to file away, which ones to throw away and which ones to place in the hallowed box waiting for the statute of limitations to run!
A friend of mine recommended a book on a decluttering system by Marie Kondo. Kondo’s book is called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. As with all self-help books, some of the ideas resonate with me and some of them don’t. I always try to see what fits my circumstances and personality. At a minimum, I like to use the knowledge as a catalyst to do something. Any movement in this area is a step forward, for me anyway!
What I like about Kondo’s approach is that the whole idea is to motivate us to determine if the things in our lives are bringing us joy. If they are, make room to keep them. If they aren’t, find a new home for them or throw them out. Kondo suggests that we become more conscious about why we have certain things in our lives. Why do we hang on to the clothing, the books, the paperwork and the mementos? She is not suggesting we have judgment regarding if we do keep it, just asking ourselves consciously why we do. Then, allowing for the conscious self to determine if this item is still a good fit for us.
Kondo has three insights that struck me as particularly wise.
Her first comment is “One of the magical effects of tidying is confidence in your decision-making capacity.” This is definitely not one of the benefits I would have expected from a decluttering philosophy. However, I think she is right. The more we make decisions that help us to feel free and alive, the more we are going to be confident in all our decisions and in all our choices.
Kondo’s second insight is “…when we really delve into the reason for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” Kondo is applying this philosophy to help declutter things, but this statement actually applies to us decluttering events, energies, old patterns and “what ifs” in our lives. We can discard our old belief systems, old resentments and discordant emotions just like we can throw away that holey t-shirt that no longer serves us. Detach from past actions and events. Start to live more consciously, in order to move into the future without fear.
The final insight that really struck me was, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” Wow, that is really powerful. Again, this is a great principle for determining what things you want in your house, but it is also a guide post for other aspects in your life. What are we willing to own as our belief systems? What are we willing to own in our relationships? What are we willing to own in our relationship with money, with mutual funds, with other investments? What are we willing to own in our energy fields? Do these things and situations bring us Joy? If they do not, should we change how we look at them or throw them out? Maybe we only need to make slight modifications and maybe we need wholesale changes. Asking your inner wisdom if something brings you joy and serves you and your goals well and then acting on that wisdom, will allow you to continue to live more consciously and more joyfully.
Take the opportunity to use the energy of the spring to move forward into a more joyful life.
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?