Sorrow & Pain & the Artist

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In the morning when i open my eyes, after a night of pain, after a night of desperate prayers for consolation, birds sing outside in the sunlight. Outside a window filled with silk colors hanging, prisms on string dangling, blooming violets of pale pinkish lavender in a blue willow pot on a dusty ledge, with quartz crystals in varying hues tumbled together in a pile–all catching glimmers of daylight–the pale sun dares to discretely stream into a darkened room.
The birdsong is a natural sound of joy that serves as a reminder that life is bittersweet. nothing is truly this way or that. Light or dark. heaven or hell.
Beauty is everywhere. It can be found within anything when we choose to look. But within a certain mind all the vibrance of brilliant color is drained by the experience of a hard sad painful life turning everything into homogenized tepid gray. it suits our bad humor, our morbid habitual lack of imagination.
a broken heart sees a colorless broken world, yet a broken heart can accidentally or incidentally fill the world with a type of redeeming beauty that is beyond essential.

An artist takes the bleak mirage and out of necessity recreates–like magical ancient alchemy–an inner vision from whatever caustic despair may block the light. that’s how some of us survive. and in turn, that’s how artists share the art of survival.
an artist offers a vision of recreated determination back to the world as a challenge to its indifference.

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Please Don’t Kill All That Is Beautiful In The World

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What does beauty mean to you? What is it exactly?

Is beauty only a mirage–a fleeting visible image of the superficial, like an illusion? Is what we call beautiful only a shallow temporary experience of what pleases our physical senses? Or is what is truly beautiful a gift to our infinite being, something we visit that imprints indelibly on our soul, our character, making it richer and more expansive? A song that uplifts, a smile that enlightens, a hand reaching out to gently reassure us in encouragement and love, a shared spontaneous experience that makes us bust out laughing, a new born baby, a flock of birds swirling in graceful shapes against a sunlit blue sky–is beauty that indescribable breathtaking moment that makes us feel grateful for being alive? Isn’t that beauty? Is it an experience of a incredible moment, or an interaction that surprisingly arises in our mundane path, or something amazing we feel within the confines of a personal relationship that goes mysteriously far deeper than just a pretty dress on a fashion model, or a gilded framed peaceful landscape that matches our couch on our living room wall?

What is your idea of beauty?

Well, this is mine.

Beauty is like the picture above and what is behind the picture above–the story of what it is expresses or invokes the experience of beauty in what we see and what it all means, even when what it means is ineffable. In that deeper sense of what it means to me, there is something more to the experience than a 2-dimensional photograph.

The day I took this photograph, I was out hiking in the woods by a river and I stopped to watch several monarch butterflies at play. Sitting on purple iron weed in Autumn time, under a pristine blue sky next to a rolling river, I was entranced by a pair of perfect vibrant delicate orange and black wings that fluttered and flitted from place to place. It gave me a great deal of joy to watch this butterfly dance from flower to flower. My little butterfly friend even allowed me to touch it, and it sipped water off my fingertips.

But here’s the hard truth in comparison to this fleeting ephemeral image.

What is truly beautiful in this world we live in, like this monarch butterfly, is in real danger of going extinct. Just like the climate change has drastically affected the yearly monarch migration detrimentally, and heavy use of pesticides that have killed off vast numbers of these North American butterflies, potentially weakening future generations and their ability to thrive, there is a huge probability that to behold a monarch playing among the iron weed may indeed become a very rare sight. Once something is gone, there’s no bringing it back.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we, as human beings, are directly complicit and completely involved with the destruction of all the beauty on our planet. That is a sad and unpleasant fact. One we need to own up to and change. And I will not be so self-righteous as not to count myself in that lump of humanity. No one gets a pass. It is everyone’s responsibility, not just our “leaders”–spiritual, environmental, political or otherwise.

Just by going along with the way we do things in the modern age, we cause destruction to the planet and to each other. And yes, I love our modern conveniences, but not every convenience is necessary. Not every popular viewpoint or interior thought that comes to us with ease is beneficial. We can change the way we do things, as well the way we think–which is where what we say and do flows forth from–in a way that will have less harmful impact and more direct good. And we must think beyond ourselves. Selfishness, pettiness, greed, hatred and fear is the enemy at our gates. And we must beat it back interiorly within our own person. We must as a whole think of life on earth as interdependent, because it is actually and factually interdependent.

We breath because trees exists. Simply stated, trees exist because we and other animals exhale out what they need to live. But they can’t live if we chop them all down. And also, we can’t live if we chop them all down. The same holds true for the ocean. The ocean is our primary source of oxygen, but we are quickly killing off that symbiotic relationship too. When one part is out of balance, there is a cascade failure that causes catastrophic disaster. It’s like the process of organ failure in the human body. Each organ shuts down because each organ is dependent of the other organs to get what is needed to continue living. If our planet was a patient, it might already be in the ICU.

Humanity was never meant to be a plague on the earth. And the best of what humanity means in its highest idea would not be celebrating the way we treat each other either. I say that because there is so much violence and hostility in our current world, and, in particular, in America. What is wrong with us? Mob mentality is not higher thinking. It’s toxic death to everything beautiful and glorious about what we are as  human beings. Celebrate only what should be celebrated–goodness, compassion, wisdom and brilliant potential. Our habits of hate only cause harm, because hate begets hate. And love begets love. What do you want? Love or hate? Heaven or hell? And we all go there together, so chose wisely.

Because of our ability to reason, we were meant to be good custodians, caretakers and peacemakers, who ensure the positive cultivation and continuation of the indwelling natural abundance found within this miraculous planet of ours. But we aren’t doing that right now, are we?

Greed kills all. Hatred only causes destruction.

Of course, it is completely possible with a little extra consideration to educate one’s self so that we are individually able to make wiser, more comprehensive decisions on how to make better choices. And there is no excuse for not becoming a better person. Anyone can be compassionate if they want to be. It just takes effort. Becoming kinder wiser people not only makes our own life better, it makes life better for everyone.

You want a better world, be a better person.

Many people chose to live that way right now. And all of us have that capacity. I’d like to think we all care enough to be that person who makes a difference for good. But just how much do we really care about that? Is it far easier to sit and blame others, while placing all our responsibilities onto some political party, leader, employer or church affiliation? It might seem easier to go with the flow, stay silent, grumble and complain, spew hatred, incite violence, point fingers, but the end result is that things only get worse for everyone. No one else will do the work for us. We are either all in this thing called life to uplift, cultivate and protect the beauty in our glorious existence; or all that is inspiring and good gets eradicated systematically because of our own ignorance and apathy.

Very few things go extinct without our direct involvement with the destructive process. And the essential point I’m alluding to is that our involvement is not limited to the extinction of our splendid wonders of the world, our immaculate wildernesses really no longer exists in an untouched pristine manner. The wildernesses are already dying and so are the animals that live in them. Our oceans are full of garbage, spilt crude oil and radiation. Sea life is choking to death on our old cracked sippy cups, plastic forks and grocery bags.

And yes, this destruction of our beautiful environment is symbolic of our concern for life and each other. We are also directly involved with the denegration and destruction of our fellow human beings. Stepping on someone else’s back to feel superior or to take whatever we want is not acceptable behavior. Some of us do this intentionally–fully aware–driven by ignorance, hatred, anger, greed, and the hunger for power. And many of us do this each time we stay silent when we see injustice. Injustice is everyone’s problem. When irritable or angry, it is not our inalienable right to shove hatefulness and abuse at another person–despite what you may think. We become complicit when we don’t want to get involved with the struggle to uphold human rights and mutual respect for all.

Within our humanity, our divinity is waiting to be seen and acknowledged. Unfortunately, It doesn’t appear that many people think it’s important to make an effort presently. If we did, there would be no hatred, bigotry, inequality, starvation and war. Why are we allowing big industry to ruin our water systems and farm in ways that are toxic? Why do we eat that toxic food, when it sustains a greater problem? And don’t say because it cost less. Almost everyone in American has a big screen TV and a smart phone. If we wanted to spend money on more important things like healthy sustainable food sources, we would. But we just want our shiny stuff, don’t we. Why do we allow the deforestation of what’s left of our precious wildernesses? And why is there a garbage pile the size of Texas floating in our oceans?

Do we not care whether there is oxygen to breath? Do we not care about our children’s children?

We all have immense potential for good, regardless of our personal weaknesses or imperfections. The glorious state of human perfection is not possible because we have this crazy idea that perfection is what it is not. Perfect is not looking perfect. Perfect is not being unrealistically happy all the time by focusing only on external material things. Perfect does not equal wealthy, materially successful and powerful. Perfect is not the ability to do everything we do precisely in the correct way, without missing a beat. Perfect is not keeping your house immaculately clean. Perfect is not pretending you are superior to anyone else.

There is no such thing as human perfection. Our beauty is not judged by that ridiculous standard, like a beauty queen with a certain figure and a certain smile and perfectly straight teeth. The idea is absurd.

Beauty is far greater than restrictive ideas.

There is only a divine mystical perfection shrouded discretely behind the chaos of our unique experience as we think it is on the planet earth. The comprehensive perfection I speak of is that beyond our limited understanding, which is only glimpsed in the beauty of how all life is woven interdependently into seamlessness.

Humanity can kill or allow that beauty to be killed easily if we don’t all wake up.

Nothing is random. Everything that arises in our lives is a result of cause and effect. We  make choices, even when we refuse to make a choice. Refusing to make a choice is in fact a choice. And as I said, all life on the planet is interdependent. And it requires positive participation to keep that interdependence from taking us down the proverbial toilet. There is no us and them–no one to blame. There is only personal responsibility.

In our imperfect individual lives, we all are immensely beautiful in our own messy paradoxical existence. It is within the experience of our faults, weakness and imperfections that we are able to find mercy for others. But we have to seek truth. And we have to want to become merciful. Mercy doesn’t come automatically. Compassion is something we must work on developing. Not everything is warm and fuzzy.

Mercy is beautiful. Compassion is beautiful. Love is always beautiful. Wisdom is supremely beautiful. Nurture those virtues. Do not distain them or ignore them into oblivion.

With that said, yes, it is entirely possible to snuff out the beauty that gives life joy. It is also possible to repress or oppress all that is splendid, compassionate and awe-inspiring to the degree that we all will suffer such great atrocities and planetary disasters that our joy will only return on the wings of future generations, if we give them a planet to live on.

Do we allow beauty to be destroyed? Do we actively participate in destroying everything that is beautiful in the world?

That is a choice we all must make.

The choice to uphold beauty can be in the simplicity of a smile. It is in loving instead of hating. It is being accountable for what we think, say and do. What is our intention? Do we actually want to harm others? And if so, why would we ever think that way? We must learn to work things out compassionately and wisely by listening and learning from each other. There are no easy answers, but if we value what is truly beautiful we have a personal responsibility. If we treasure loving family, healthy relationships, a livable planet where our children can exist without chronic impending catastrophe or unilateral despair, the majestic wildernesses, clean water, land that grows food, the eagle soaring, honey bees, the great blue ocean, the air we breath, the ability to have freedom on this earth to live in peace, monarch butterflies flitting on wildflowers–then we must think, speak and act accordingly.

Give beauty a chance to thrive. It’s specifically up to you.

 

The Useless & Confusing Nature of Guilt

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Guilt (emotion)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation.[1] It is closely related to the concept of remorse.

guilt | dictionary.com

noun

1.

the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; culpability:

He admitted his guilt.

2.

a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.

3.

conduct involving the commission of such crimes, wrongs, etc.:

to live a life of guilt.
verb (used with object), Informal.

4.

to cause to feel guilty(often followed by out or into):

She totally guilted me out, dude. He guilted me into picking up the tab.
See also guilt-trip.

The Useless & Confusing Nature of Guilt

The two definitions above are the common ideas of what guilt means. Yes, one can be found guilty of a crime and one can live the proverbial “life of assigned guilt” by the narrow minded views of society. However, what I would like to explore is the nature of guilt within our individual psyche and how destructively confusing, energetically wasteful and useless it is. Based on my personal experience, there are far too many people walking around mistakenly thinking or believing within a distorted religious format that guilt is some sort of a virtue that helps a person make positive decisions. It is not.
So what do I know about guilt?
Guilt is an ingrained pattern of thinking based in an insecure fear-based concept of self-hatred. Self-hatred or self-loathing is not a guidance system. The idea of guilt overwhelms the inner positive qualities that help us navigate life in a trustworthy, reasonably peaceful manner that is practical, compassionate and wise. When we are able to access our inner wisdom, we make positive decisions. When we allow ourselves to be guided by guilt, we resist our own inner positive nature, centered in wisdom, and rather lean upon suspicion and lack of trust. We do this because we don’t trust our own self as being able to make good decisions, which makes us even more reactive and unstable. In guilt, we habitually shift our focus from higher innate truth, toward small distorted ingrained ideas based in insecurity, fear, lack of self-esteem, false identity and deception. It is extremely confusing to think that way. It divides us from our higher-self, our indwelling Christ, our wisdom center. The use of the delusion of guilt and other distorted negative false beliefs systems as a method to navigate through life–accepting any hateful ideas that tell us we are “less than” and “inherently evil”–will always be unreliable at best because they are a cause of schismed thinking that is destructively detrimental and guaranteed to bring great suffering.
No one is less. No one is more. All are equally precious and sacred. In that forum, guilt cannot exist. There is no room for it.
If we hurt someone’s feelings or do harm to someone else, real or imagined, it is not guilt that guides us to make things right. It is love and compassion. It is integrity. It is the desire to be a better human being.
Regret should only be a moment of reflection that brings us to rectify past wrongs in the higher minded manner of bringing about healing, reconciliation and release. Regret is not useful other than that. And regret and remorse are not the same as guilt. If we think of them the same way, then we need to adjust our own awareness of how we are thinking to understand who we are in truth. Regret and remorse are feelings directly in relation to the past that can be resolved with positive effort. We cannot live in the past. We can understand it, forgive and move on. We also cannot live in the future thinking of how we are going to screw things up. Not a healthy point of view either. We should live in the present moment with deliberate awareness and do the best we can with what we have.
Guilt is a way of seeing everything as being our fault. Guilty people are easy to manipulate. And people who cannot shed the false burden of guilt are frustrated, confused, stagnated and despairing people who seem to really only want to be beautiful lights of love and compassion in a world of darkness. The ensnared “Guilty” souls have yet to figure out how to be that light. These people are usually sensitive, empathically connected and sympathetic to the needs of those around them, and would genuinely like to help others, but feel they cannot without failure or fault. They ruin their own joy by not being able to realize–or accept as truth–that at the core of who they are they are already dazzlingly in the divine sense of perfection. So stop trying to be humanly perfect–because that is not ever going to happen–and embrace the expansive mysteriously divine forgiving perfection hidden within the messiness of our own being and in all life.
Let me share a little fairytale story to further explain.

Butterfly the Free

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who was taught that she was not worthy. Although she was perfect in everyway–intelligent, compassionate, joyful and loving–she was taught something all together differently about who she was. Throughout her childhood she was told by her parents through words and actions that she was not good enough, nor lovable. She was repeatedly told she was stupid, and inferior because she was female. She was regularly yelled at, and sternly told that she was irritating and annoying to be around, a financial burden to everyone, and that her presence–truth be told–was not wanted or appreciated. Now even though children all through the ages are unfortunately taught false detrimental ideas by unpleasant ignorant parents, family and social structures about of who they are at a young age, this particular little girl for whatever mysterious reason decided that those words–those hateful ideas forced upon her–were in fact not true.
As she grew into adulthood, this beautiful little girl resisted the cruelness of what she had heard and witnessed through her life so far. Yet even though she resisted, those horrible voices went everywhere with her in her own mind, as we all carry forth our abusers, belittlers and naysayers until we pull them out by the roots. In essence, during this part of her life, the voices won. But the voices only were victorious over her life until things became so dark that she was forced to face her greatest fears or die. And as a spoiler alert, she eventually broke forth from her past, and sloughed off the nasty burden of what was said and done to her. And she became like a brand new being made of indestructible light–a new creature dedicated to life and truth.
For most of her life the girl, we will call her Butterfly the Free, was greatly troubled by what she felt within her mind and emotions. It made her insecure and frightened of everything, particularly good things like love, success, prosperity and respect. No matter what she did, Butterfly felt surely she was not good enough. She felt guilty for everything, even good things. When she spoke up to someone in truth–a necessary essential truth–she constantly apologized. Somehow Butterfly felt that her truth was a burden that no one else could handle. She projected some imagined false sense of harm in an exaggerated delusional idea that even when she was being honest and sincere that it was bad or even evil to discomfort others emotionally or mentally. She didn’t seem to understand that we are all responsible for our own inner negative emotional and mental baggage, because we carry it around and inflict it on others if we don’t seek to understand it and embrace our own unique healing process. We cannot be responsible for everyone else’s comfort. We can however be kind, compassionate and helpful. But in order to really help others, we have to help ourselves by working out our own conflicting issues.
Inflicting our inner garbage onto others makes life bad for everyone. On the contrary, being compassionately honest, ethical, having self-esteem and self respect will inevitably make things better for everyone in the higher idea of living a non-harmful life, despite the conflict it might bring. We cannot avoid conflict. Conflict is part of life as a human being. Feeling interior emotional and mental discomfort is a valid part of spiritual growth, which we all need to learn how to cope with in order to become better, more emotionally literate people. Emotionally literate people have a much better skills that can insure having healthy, positive, happier relationships. So Butterfly chronically apologized because she was afraid that what she said would offend whoever she was communicating with and cause a conflict. And she feared conflict. She feared offending others. She felt that conflict would ultimately result in rejection. Hostility and rejection was her greatest fear. Hostility and rejection had been her life experience so far.
Hostility and rejection leads to isolation. And isolation is a lonely place for one who treasures love. And we all treasure being loved and being able to love on some level.
Butterfly was so unsure of herself that when she spoke truth, she was immediately afraid of rejection, which made her a reactionary insecure mess. She felt guilty for making others uncomfortable, even when that other was a raging jackass. She let guilt consume her life. Every decision she made, even if she knew for sure it was the right and ethical decision, was accompanied by feelings of guilt. If she actually made a mistake, it was unforgiveable in her own mind. And everyone makes mistakes, so she was doomed to struggle with depression because of how she thought about herself. Because of this, she strived so desperately to be perfect, to live up to some unrealistic idea of human perfection that would appease the hateful parental voices in her mind and make them finally proud enough to be silent forever more. And that really is a fairytale. One that will never-ever-ever have a happy ending. Yet, Butterfly does have her happy future regardless.
Appeasing the voices of abuse is impossible. There are people, both real and imagined, that will never be appeased by anything or anyone. So don’t try. There are many people who have learned to use guilt to manipulate others quite effectively. And this is not a good thing on either side of the equation. Manipulating others is a no-no. And on the other hand, do not try to live up to the flighty fleeting irrational pissy unrelenting standards set by the voices of the ugly abusers in our own heads. No one can validate our worth, but our selves. We have to find love for our self within our self, and then work ongoing to live life within our own concept of what’s right, compassionate and good for the sake of our sanity and happiness. We must break free of the delusional habit of needing approval and validation. We must get to the point where we can authentically feel and declare, “Who cares what other people think about me! I am the only one who needs to feel good about what I am, what I think and what I do!”
Butterfly the Free, before she was free, felt guilty for everything good she did as well. Doing something good and right was not the immediate cause of the guilt problem. It was that after she did something good and right, people where still displeased. Her being able to do good things and right things made many people uncomfortable, to the point of these same people becoming rather cranky, antagonistic and condescending toward her. So when she was brilliant, she felt sadly guilty. It made her want to hide her amazing abilities. She tended to stay hunkered down like a beaten dog, which is not to be confused with being the virtue of humility. Being demeaned–even self-demeaned–is not humility. It is merely a result of abuse disguised in another form. Humility is simply realistically knowing our abilities without being an egotistical braggart about it. The Dalai Lama said something to the effect of this on the topic of confidence; it’s like being tall. When you are tall you can reach higher places. Being able to reach something someone else cannot does not make you better. It just makes you tall.
The end of Butterfly’s story was also the beginning. One day Butterfly met a mystical revered spiritual teacher. He taught her special prayers and helped her understand who she was in the core of her being. He taught her that she was everything infinitely good, pure and wise. One morning not long after talking to this spiritual master, she woke up and had strange new experience. She had no guilt. It was so radical to have no feelings of guilt, that Butterfly was initially frightened and amazed. How could she have gone through life so far without noticing that  guilt had colored her every thought, action and view with a hazy perilous darkness? This new freedom from guilt was alarming at best.
Her first thought was, “How will I tell right from wrong?”
And within just a short time of reflecting on that idea, Butterfly understood how completely ridiculous it was to think that guilt was her interior guidance to truth and positive choices. Guilt was in fact a plague on her life, as it is a plague on everyone’s life. Guilt does not make us good people. Guilt does not inform our decisions in truth, but burdens them down with confusion and deception. Guilt is not a virtue. Rather, guilt is a weight worn about the neck that keeps one bowed to the false Gods of egotistical habitual self-abuse.
Butterfly was finally free! She realized immediately that her true guidance is the deep innate wisdom within her already and that she would have to learn to trust that abiding wisdom. This inner divine Wisdom Guidance is pure eternally aware and omnipotent, and centered at its core is pure goodness, love and compassion. This is where she will find her answers. This is what she will pull on to make her good choices. This is the quality of virtue that can successfully help us navigate life. And with this revelation, Butterfly finally successfully and faithfully allowed herself to accept a new clear viewpoint so she could live the rest of her life with joy and accuracy. And at her ending and beginning, she flew away to pursue a happier life, free from the weight of useless confusing guilt.
So this is the end and the beginning of the little story of Butterfly.

And further more, we do not need guilt.

In a more straightforward and realistic manner, guilt is not good for anyone. Shame is not what we need to have making our decisions, but rather something we need to heal within ourselves. Shame is a sense of doing something we are not proud of. It could be seen as guilt, or it can be something all together different. But what shame and guilt have in common is they do not help us, other than to enable us to see something that needs to change in our life. Shame is something that needs to be healed, and it might be a warning to create a more positive environment through positive choices. Guilt we’ve already discussed. We cannot let our habitual patterns of thinking and false ideas ruin our lives by stunting our potential growth, and placing joy and happiness out of our reach.
There is confusion to what is guidance and what is not. We must learn how to discern goodness and truth. If it isn’t compassionate, it is not from God. And in that manner of speaking, if it isn’t God, it isn’t who we are in truth. All good gifts are from above. Focus on trusting higher truth, instead of letting our doubts, fear, insecurities and self-inflicted punishments consume our possibilities. Simply this, we cannot appease anyone but the divine within our own self, and all that takes is love, forgiveness of self, and being open to a better viewpoint. And if we seek truth, which we must bravely do, then we will have conflict. And conflict is part of life. Life requires great effort and courage. Guilt keeps us hemmed into a way of life that is small and fearful. It is bad programming that destroys happy life.
So look to the guilt we feel. Why is it there? Examine that. Work through our interior constructs of mind and emotion with compassionate awareness. Forgiveness for being an imperfect human being is necessary, particular towards one’s self. Prayer is essential. Ask for truth. Seek it. Allow it to transform our idea of who we think we are as opposed to who we are in truth. Allow it to show a divine perfection within our humanity that has nothing to do with our faulty human ideas. And let Holiness and Wholeness shine within our person for the sake of everyone, despite what anyone may think.
Shining is always a great thing to do.
Be free.

What Should We Do?

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In a world full of hate, what should we do? In times of violence, abuse and fear-mongering, what should we do?

When bad things happen to good people, and work is hard to find, when we see people living without basic needs, what do we do? When we are living in desperate situations, what do we do?

It is easy to become overwhelmed by what we see everyday and what we experience. But do not let what we see and experience make us bitter and hard. Do not let our current situations and frustrations keep us from what we are meant to experience in life. Regardless of how bad things get, there is always an opportunity in the experience of being human to use everything that comes to us to become who we are in the deepest truth of what that means. And that truth is glorious. And that truth is freedom itself.

When we are overwhelmed, what we do is to take a moment and sit still–pray, reflect and listen to our hearts. Find the mercy and compassion that dwell in the deepest part of who we are and pull that forward. Let it arise within us as a holy infinite spring that gives pure unending life to all. Give room for all the disturbing horror of the world to move through, be cleansed by that life spring and be released forever more. We wipe the dirt away from our soul–our mind and heart–that gathers like dust, settling on us in a dark cloud each day. Wash it off.

We do such things by developing a mental attitude that says, I am not afraid to feel what I feel. I am fearless. I am made of a fiery refining courage. I am the light in the darkness. My feelings are not permanent. My mind and heart are of the same essence as the divine–the pure omnipotent consciousness–and I will rest in that perfection.

And we do this. We sit within our own innate divine perfection and we refuel, we feed our soul and refresh our mind and heart.
Then we go on.

We go on to our normal daily life to do whatever is best to our own capacity.

We do good for the sake of goodness. And we do what good we can do to the level we are able to do it. We have faith rather than fear. And when we have fear, instead of faith–we forgive ourselves and we grow stronger in mercy. Because we all fail. We all break and are remade into something more sublime when we allow that transfiguration. And we must allow transfiguration to happen. We must be willing and give consent for miracles to seed, bloom, grow and have room to flourish. Mercy is made of failure.

Living well is a simple process. It requires a dedication to simple methods of preserving our own integrity, joy, love and enthusiasm by way of facing what we need to face each day with as much mercy as we can cultivate.

Silence our own harsh words within the mind that tell us that we are a worthless, unlovable, stupid and a failure. When the ugly critical inner voices no longer spew hatred in our minds, our mouths will speak kindness and wisdom. And our words will heal rather than cause harm. As we change our interior dialogue we can imagine washing clean those wounded echoes of past shame with the light of love and mercy. And this is enough.

So this is what we do.

We keep trying. We get up when we fall.

We love. We laugh. We keep doing the best we can with what we’ve been given. We sit and face our problems in our own personal intimate way. We encourage others. We encourage ourselves. We make an effort to help one another. We find our mercy and compassion within, and we become a light for the world to see by.

And we do this all within the mundane. It only takes everyday normal people to change the world for the better.

Be loving, compassionate and generous and everything we touch will begin to heal, even if we cannot see that miraclous restoration happening. When one person heals, so do we all.

Stay strong in the trust that we each have an important part to play. Learn how to feed innate joy, to inspire it within, so you may share it with others.

This is what we should do.

What seems overly complicated and oppressive can only be addressed effectively with simplicity.

Mercy is simple.

Love is simple.

Joy is simple.

This is what we can do.

Help Me Hope

imageHope is a word people use constantly, yet few understand exactly what it is. What is hope? I’ve sought that answer for a long time. And perhaps the best I can offer is to allude to what it means to me.

Hope.

I’ve heard we must have faith, hope and love. I understand very well why we must love. If we want love in this world we must learn to love and exude love and become love embodied. Only love begets love; and love is the perfect answer for everything.

Faith I understand too. Faith is the way we think. It is an openness to God, to goodness, to ultimate divine perfection that gives us freedom to move about unhindered in a world full of doubt, darkness and fear. It is a process of training our minds and hearts to move to the next level of positivity because it is practical and healthy. Faith does move mountains.

So hope. What is it?

Is it expectation? Because expectation in itself is flawed and rarely turns out to be a good thing. Expectations are merely rules we set within our minds that what we experience must be this or that. There is no this or that. There is only what is. An expectation is a concrete idea that one embraces of how one thinks things have to be; and when expectations are not met, there is great suffering and disappointment–bitter disillusionment. And bitter disillusionment leaves us hopeless.

Hope is not an expectation. And yet hope does seem like it is possibly something weirdly the same without the restrictive view that inevitably causes things to not end well.

I’ve heard it suggested that a person should be able to live in hopelessness and in that state one would be free from all clinging and attachment to this illusionary temporary world because everything we experience causes suffering otherwise. I find this idea ludicrous. Regardless of renunciation and spiritual prowess, hopelessness is an experience of meaningless life. It is being stuck in a mud hole covered in shit, without being able to see the sky above. And because we cannot see the sky, we believe the sky no longer exists. The sky is still there. The sky is our expansive God-mind; it is our infinite nature. And this is what I feel hope is: “Hope” is that glimmer of wisdom from beyond time and experience that tell us that the transient nature of this human existence is in fact good and will bring a higher good into being.

Hope, as it is to me, is something I can ascribe to what I feel now, regardless of what I see. As I see a grand scene of life playing out in front of me, as I have been and continue to watch our current problems and generalized negative social disposition in the world; I cannot help but see a swift end to humanity as it is. We have already used up most the earth’s resources irresponsibly and we show no sign of stopping. We squabble and war for no good reason, and lay waste to everything that keeps us from our egotistical agendas. We throw life away like useless garbage; and cannot seem to understand as a whole the importance of acknowledging sacredness in all because we do not appear to know that sacredness even exists, let alone what it is.

And hope–which is entirely necessary to me now–is a quality of grace, a divine gift, that helps me know that we, humanity, still have a chance to turn things around regardless. My hope is that we all can find the divine spark within us, cultivate that enlightened flame and make the essential shift within ourselves, within our families and communities, and within the world at large–before we miss the last opportunity to pull back the reins in time to prevent an inevitable plunge into a permanent cataclysmic abyss.

This is the end of days. It has always been the end of days, because we all die–so every life has its own eschaton. But this end of days I see now will be taking away our proverbial future and our children’s future with it. This is the big eschaton coming up hard and fast on our collective heels.

Hope is all I have for the change we need to continue.

Help me have hope.

Show me the sky.

Everyone Counts–A Critique on Hate

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People are talking. The world suddenly seems incredibly small, because it is. And Rational people are concerned with the rise of hatred in what words we see splattered like blood on a wall, what hatred we see smeared across the television screens and on our little cell phones that are inseparable from our person. We can’t stop looking at the train as it hits the concrete wall going a million miles per hour. As if in slow motion, we watch the destruction as it grinds into something unrecognizable, disintegrating into shrapnel that flies out in all directions decapitating any future anyone may ever have. Is this entertainment? Do we care enough to change our behavior? Or do we just watch as things go up in flames? Rational people are sickened and abhorrently shocked at the absurdity of hatred exploding in violent episodes through the country, throughout the world. None of it makes sense. And none of it is a solution for anything.

And it is all a personal responsibility. Do we choose hatred or do we chose to be compassionate? Everything we do is a choice. Human Beings are not predestined to live like mindless demons controlled by inner ignorance, ego and fear. Anyone can be a good person, but it actually takes effort. It takes no effort to hate and cause destruction, other than a complacent willingness to just fling our insanity at the world around us, blame everyone else and live like a brain-sick rabid wolverine. And just a note to be clear: a healthy wild wolverine has much better, more practical habits than a stubbornly stupid hate-filled person.

This continued violent hatred is a giant shit ball, ever increasing in size as it rolls straight down the hill of denigrating what’s left of humanity to land firmly in hell. Hatred is a death sentence for whoever holds it, whoever projects it and whoever inflicts it on others. Stop making hell for everyone else. If you must live in hell, please do it privately and inclusively on your own.

SPEAKING DIRECTLY TO THOSE WHO THINK HATRED IS A GOOD IDEA, OR THAT IT IS A INHERENT RIGHT TO PUKE OUT HATRED UNCHALLENGED ONTO THE REST OF CREATION:

Stop it. You’re really being stupid.

If you hate anyone or anything, then you need to reevaluate your habitual thinking patterns. Regardless of religious or non-religious affiliation, it is a known fact that psychologically hatred consumes the person who hates. Hatred even makes the person who hates physically sick. Hatred is never a solution and always a problem. Hatred directly causes harm to self and to others. And the human being who ignorantly thinks hatred is natural, and is just a part of being alive, let me just say–it isn’t. Hatred is a poison in the mind and heart. Hatred is a choice. Do we hold onto the poison, do we cast the poison out?

Dysfunction is unfortunately prevalent in the world. People do horrible things. Abusers destroy children and children if they survive it have to choose, “Do I continue to destroy by also being a hate-filled abuser, or do I become the cure for hatred on the planet by letting my own experience fill me with a higher compassionate purpose?” You can be a hate-filled abuser and accuser, or you can contribute to positive solutions–but you can’t do both.

There is always a choice.

And it is a personal choice. Hate stands against anything good–even if not especially, self-hatred. Hatred is a mental and emotional egotistical distortion that a person surrenders to, ignorantly thinks is the way things are or willingly embraces. It’s like falling in love with cancer, inviting it into your physical body and thinking “I’ll be just fine.” after the fact. “Yes, cancer I want you to eat my body, and disease my mind until it causes everything I am to rot and fester, then wither and die. Yes, I want that.”

So the hatred we see boiling over into a venomous momentous idea of having a “personal right” to destroy anyone and everything that steps into our field of psychosis–is not helpful. It is no one’s personal right to harm anyone else. It is no one’s personal right to abuse another person or living being. It is not a personal inalienable right to hate and destroy. It is however a personal responsibility to be a positive human being who causes no harm.

Everyone counts.

If we keep on blaming everyone else for our problems, then we are stupid and are doomed to destroy everything good that we know of life. And that is just the way it is. This world is too small for it to be anyway other than that.

It’s a choice. Choose wisely.

 

 

New Testament Love Translated for Modern Americans

RedSacredHeartPamelaStansberry

Love is the message of Jesus of Nazareth, the Biblical Jesus Christ. Love. That’s the point. And for some reason, love is a quality that humankind is reluctant to embrace. It has always been that way, and it seems in modern times that we haven’t changed a bit. We are still resistant to the idea of genuine love in all its varied forms. We dance all around through the scriptures, this way and that, making them fit into whatever scenario we feel works for us at the time. I truly believe that most Christians greatly revere, admire and are inspired by the teachings of Jesus Christ, but how often do we as individuals actually delve into cultivating true love within our own hearts as he demands we do–and live that love? It’s not impossible to do. And it seems like a reasonable request. Why do we, even now, not want to embrace the core of what Jesus’ teachings prescribe?

I say that and some of you may not want to believe that it is true. But look at the news. Look how people who say they are Christians are behaving. Listen to what they say. Is that love?

Do not make the mistake of reinterpreting love as some twisted, self-righteous excuse to inflict a hateful judgment, pointing and crying out “Us” and “Them” in the name of God. Being a judgmental ass is not righteousness, rather it is self-righteous, vain, pompous, hateful ignorance-and it has nothing to do with love. Just a reminder, the word “Satan” means the accuser. So be careful of the finger pointing.

We cannot base the depth of Christianity on the screaming voices of those who have labeled themselves as Christians, but preach violence, hatred, destruction and discrimination. We cannot base our understanding of any religion on such faulty views. It would be wonderful if everyone who said they were Christian actually acted like one–and better yet imitated Jesus in his non-violent, patient and loving manner. But as we can clearly see, that is not what is happening in the world.

Love is scary. Love makes us vulnerable. And so we are immensely frightened by the concept of sincerely opening our hearts in this cruel world, full of cruel people. However, it is paradoxical that if we do not open our hearts, we instead become one of those who are cruel. That is the power of fear. By not doing what we know we should we become what we do not want to be–we become what we fear the most. In the end when all is said and done, if it ain’t love–or our thoughts, speech and actions are not done with loving intent–then it’s vanity and a waste of time. Love is all we can keep in the end, yet love is never a possession.

For the last 30 years exactly, I have been working every day, struggling through my own issues, through the years of having suicidal depression, dysfunction, intense anger and self-hate in order to find my way to love. And I’d like to share what I have learned on the subject, and most of it has come by way of studying scriptures, sacred texts, learning to forgive myself and practicing what I preach. It has taken being open to what I need to learn. Truth requires an open mind and an open heart.

First, as a Christian who embraces God by every name and honors God in all to the best of my capacity, what I have found is in the New Testament the most important aspect is the teachings of Jesus, which focus on love and compassion. He keeps things simple. “Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Judge not lest ye be judged.” And importantly he says repeatedly, “Seek truth, the truth will set you free.”

The way is simple.

Love is indeed found in greater truth. When one looks for truth, we can find answers and solutions–and eventually we find wisdom. And while stumbling into wisdom via our search for truth, we discover higher clarity to why there is in fact inherent love and divinity within ourselves. In the realization of that inherent quality of indwelling divinity, a light shines on how we can better become vessels of love; and it becomes obvious why love and compassion are so intensely important.

But what is love? What is the definition of love in the New Testament?

To find love within ourselves is to understand the nature of mercy. Mercy is a wisdom spawn of imperfection, yet mercy is perfect in itself. Love is inseparable from mercy and wisdom, and all are divine perfections–not to be mistaken with the idea of human perfection which is a complete falsehood. We are not on the planet to pretend to be perfect people. We are all screwed up–every one of us is broken or at least has been broken at some point. If we can’t admit to that, then God help us all.

Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you must act like your are perfect because you are this or that religion. You aren’t perfect. I’m not perfect. But that’s the whole crazy delusion. That’s not what divine perfection is about. Divine perfection is about love and mercy. There is no way to win approval in this world of human beings. If acceptance and approval is what one thinks of as perfection, then that person is in big trouble. We can go our entire lives thinking that we need to live up to the standards of others. At best that will lead to being permanently insecure and completely at the whim of what everyone else’s delusions dictate. Doesn’t sound appealing to me. Instead, we should focus on what we are at our core and transform into the highest joyful version of that merely for the sake of goodness and love itself. What can we do to improve or be happier about our own life and the lives of everyone we care for, if it does not begin and end with making an ongoing effort to exude common decency, respect for the sacredness of all life, love, tolerance and compassion?

“Beloved, Love one another as God has loved you.”

And this, “I want mercy, not sacrifice.” That statement is in the New Testament in many places for good reason. “I want mercy, not sacrifice.”

Think about it.

It is in recovering these divine perfections within that will simultaneously bring us into the unity with the pure God Mind and God Heart. That is who we really are. But that takes a great bit of lifelong effort, which also might be why so few attempt to be like Christ-like. It’s way easier to be a judgmental, angry, hateful, reactive ass. However, being a judgmental ass is not a fulfilled, joyful occupation; nor is it a comprehensively positive solution to life as we know it. It only makes life worse for everyone, including ourselves. To refine our human experience into one of love and mercy, we must look at ourselves and forgive our own idiosyncrasies and numerous faults. We do that with understanding. If we can do that for ourselves, we can do that for others. And that is mercy plain and simple. And the entire effort is one of true love. At some point, our own interior love knows we have no right to judge anyone.

The Old Testament establishes what I just said. Genesis 1:27
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

If God created humankind in his own image, then at the core of humanity there is the perfect God within–humanity is innately good. We are all inherently good. However, we have to work to rediscover that good. That is our choice to do. Being a good person is not an immediate entitled privilege reserved just for us because we say we are saved by Jesus. Being saved by Jesus requires us to make an effort to do our part. If we are not doing our part, then that’s also a choice. There is always cause and effect to everything we do. If we choose to call ourselves Christian, but not try in any shape or form to be Christ-like, that’s not a good statement to our own commitment to being saved. We have to work hard to make good choices that bring good into our own lives, our family’s lives and into the world around us. The world around us is a projection of how we think and what we focus on. We have to learn how to cope in a radically distorted vision of what we think we know of the world, through working through our own egotistical issues that shroud us in darkness, rather than light. “Let your eye be filled with light, so that your whole body will be filled with light as well.”

We have to choose to learn how to move through emotions with emotional literacy. That takes wisdom. And to find wisdom, we must develop discernment.

The number one thing I have learned about discernment is simply–if it isn’t compassionate, it isn’t from God.

Focus is everything. If we go around focused on evil, we will have lots of evil. If we focus on good, if we focus on God, then we will have light. It doesn’t mean the whole world will willingly transform to our higher vision of love and light. But it doesn’t mean it won’t either. Our participation in necessary.

If we think we are flawed at our core, from evil origins from the beginning of time, then what hope is there to become like Jesus Christ? Don’t take away the only chance you have at healing, at wholeness–at holiness–by thinking your way into impossibility. That would be hell on earth. We must find our own sacredness for ourselves.

Original sin does not mean we are evil at the core. It means we are ignorant and require truth in order to be free from our shroud of ignorance. Ignorance is something we are taught-something we erroneously embrace. We are subtly taught ignorance by living in the world, while thinking that the world around us is truth. The world cannot determine effective positive rules in which for us to successfully live by, no matter what we see or experience. The rules of the world are deceptive and primarily all together wrong because they are based on distorted perception, emotional reactivity and ignorance in its most primal form. There are deeper truths; an absolute truth.

We can see perfection in the world in beauty and love. So it’s not that we can’t learn or grow by what we witness or experience, but we must work at becoming more aware of what we are thinking, saying and doing. We must evaluate why we think, say and do what we do. What is our intent? Personal ego power or higher love?

Jesus says we, human beings, can become just like him and then some. “You too can do all that I can do and more; because I go now to the Father.”

Let’s contemplate this, a commonly read quote from 1St Corinthians about love. Most people have heard or read the scripture I’m mentioning at some point in his or her life as a Christian. And most would feel the power in it, because it provokes an obvious truth about love. And I will say up front, Paul, who was formerly Saul, formerly a zealot who brutally killed early Christians as heretics before converting himself to Christianity, had a lot to say on a lot of subjects. Honestly, he was not always in accordance with Jesus’ teachings himself in his writings. So teachers of Biblical Scripture recommend using critical thinking when studying the bible.

As from Wikipedia: Critical thinking, also called critical analysis, is clear, rational thinking involving critique. Its details vary amongst those who define it. According to Barry K. Beyer (1995), critical thinking means making clear, reasoned judgments. During the process of critical thinking, ideas should be reasoned, well thought out, and judged.[1] The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking[2] defines critical thinking as the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.’[3]

All I can say is that Paul, the author of 1st Corinthians, was a man of his time. He didn’t care for the rights of women, because the society he lived in at the time did not care for women, and additionally they were a culture that also kept slaves. Paul squelched the voices of women in the church, and his writings on the subject are still used as a way to control women presently. He didn’t recommend being married, among other things, and he also made a statement that can be horribly misinterpreted about our bodies and sexuality being evil. But we are talking about love. At best, he often had hard views. And there were only so many ways to verbalize extremely deep ideas with the language of his time, which has been translated over and over again for thousands of years.

With that said, Paul worked tirelessly unto death to redeem his former violent actions and went on to become a beacon of Christianity. Regardless, even though I truly relate to and am inspired by much of what Paul my say, I do not confuse Paul for Jesus.

On some subjects he was divinely inspired to the utmost degree, as with the scripture below. I do respect greatly his words of truth when they are based in the wisdom of love. This is a scripture that inspires true love and it well sums up the meaning of love in the New Testament.

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1 Though I command languages both human and angelic — if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.

2 And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains — if I am without love, I am nothing.

3 Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned — if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

4 Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited,

5 it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances.

 

6 Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth.

7 It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.

8 Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with.

9 For we know only imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly;

10 but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with.

11 When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways.

12 Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.

13 As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.

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This is love.

To find love, we must become love. And to become love, we must be willing to see our own negative ego habits, and we must forgive ourselves. We must listen and learn; and we do that with mercy. We listen to and monitor what comes out of our minds, hearts and mouths, and we make it our goal to weed out what isn’t compassionate. It is important to treat our own psyche with compassion. Our hatred and anger are habitual cycles that return only with stronger force if they are not handled with compassion and forgiveness.

This interior work is the work of love. This is the highest goal in life, to seek truth and embody love.

Love takes courage and commitment. Love is a force that requires mastery and determination, but even a child can do it and children do it so wonderfully. “Let the children come unto me, for it is only in becoming like a child that one will know the kingdom of God.”

Love often requires us to face down demons of fear, and conquer them with faith.

Love certainly requires us to face truth about ourselves, and in facing that truth we find even greater love because we will find freedom from the deceptions we have mistakenly embraced that chronically poison our lives, and give rise to self-hatred, destructive behavior and self-sabotage. By cultivating pure hearted love, our minds align with the mind of God. The world may still be a sad, horrific place, but it all can be overcome with love. For in love we find our joy. And love is all that remains in the end. Love begets love.

“Love conquers all.”