2 BENEFITS OF SPIRITUALLY GOING PALEO

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Image provided by Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

 

The truth of any teaching can never be found in the words. Rather, the truth is found in that which is revealed inside our own selves. By exploring in this way, we make the teachings our own. And by making a teaching our own… we come to awaken to a view of life that is whole and unified…and addresses the deepest yearning and longing of the human heart.

Adyashanti

 

I so want to consider myself a mystic. I’m always looking for that next burning bush, while ignoring that my left foot is on fire. Can’t see the tree, for looking at the forest. I want to have a positive impact on the world. But, the true point of impact is the fundamentals, not the polished product. I have learned this again and again and yet, the lesson is far from over. When I am trying to accomplish a lot, I focus so intently on the finished work that I literally lose myself, and lose these critical benefits in the process:

 

DIRECTION AND PERSPECTIVE

I can’t accomplish big things, if I can’t even accomplish little things consistently. I must remove all the fluff, drilling down to the most basic level first, before doing anything else.

If I don’t put my spiritual life first, my entire perception of everything and everyone becomes skewed.

I am a person of words, but words can and often do lie. In his wonderful book, Falling Into Grace, Adyashanti posits that the reason for human suffering is that we believe our own thoughts.

My thoughts are just a story I tell myself. If I don’t make my time with God my top priority, I start to live in the story, instead of the truth. I have a story about everything: the past, the future, and my motivations for doing what I am doing. I even tell myself a story about my spiritual time:

“ It’s something I have to do, or God will be mad at me.”

“ I need to master the art of prayer and read scriptures or books about prayer.” Well, that’s just the enemy telling me another story.

It is best to start my day with God, before things get too far afield. Otherwise, I will take off in the wrong direction going 200 miles an hour until l hit the wall and finally collapse. My time with God can be 30 minutes or 3 minutes— it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be fluffy or perfect. My prayer and meditation time is where I find the fount of truth, which becomes, freedom, insight, purpose, direction, energy and inspiration. It starts out being like spiritual broccoli, how I get my antioxidants. But, soon it becomes the most pleasurable part of my day, because it leads me to:

 

IMG_2925AWAKENING. I get out of my head and my stories, and focus on what is true, and what is happening right in front of my face or even in my own beating heart right now. There is no truth, or happiness or peace or love living in my head. It is happening in this very moment. I even tell myself stories about the truth, wanting it to be bigger, something I can’t miss, like a neon sign. It isn’t.

It is amazing how often the truth for which I search is hiding in my own body. I drive and drive myself, ignoring the evidence. Am I sleeping and eating well, in other words, treating myself like I matter? If not, why?   What am I feeling? Is fear or resentment from the past driving me? What is my true motivation for the present course I am charting? Have I been feeling sick or tired for a long time? What is the story I’m telling myself about this? Is it even true? The evidence is not just physical: it is spiritual. Something is off. My life is skewed and out of balance and the cure is not driving myself harder, but drilling down to the Paleo: finding the truth in each and every moment. It is far from easy; it is peeling an enormous onion, but it is the seed from which everything else grows.

 

DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING. SIT THERE!

 

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My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.

Albert Einstein

 

God speaks to me in metaphors because it is the only thing I understand. Every year, I go to a retreat at Laity Lodge to get closer to the Creator and his creations and foster the creative process in myself. Usually, I am presented with a lesson or several on the last day. I offer this, for what it may be worth to you.

I had been feeling severely depleted and removed from my Higher Power due to some serious and ongoing personal crises, aka life. I just wanted to hunker down somewhere and hide and try to find my center again.

I found a cool spot on the footbridge facing some waterfalls and situated myself where no one could see me.  I tried to get still and quiet, but the beauty of it all was too much. I tried to catch the 4 big waterfalls with my iPad camera from every angle, but they didn’t show up.  I got up and changed position, but it didn’t work. I resorted to my phone, because it had a zoom, and I figured I could capture the beauty and crop it after the fact.

Finally, I gave up and sat back down. I resumed staring at the falls. As soon as I did, a 5th big waterfall came into view.  I don’t know how I missed it, but I did.  This sent me into a new tailspin. I began to try to capture the 5th fall with my cameras; it was the biggest one! This effort to capture a moment was even more fruitless and frustrating than the last.

Slowly, I realized the sound of tumbling water was coming from more than 5 places. My eye was drawn, each in turn; to 3 other small falls spewing from the rocks.

The lesson just kept coming.  I tried to capture these new, hidden sources of flow with my camera, but they didn’t materialize either.

I looked around again at my surroundings, paying attention and noticing two additional falls staring me in the face. This was getting ridiculous!

All of these sources had been there all along, biding their time. Not waiting to be revealed, but waiting to be noticed.

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I ‘m always trying to capture the infinite and reduce it to a sound bite. But, then it disappears. This is complete insanity on my part, but we all have those moments of craziness, when what we are trying to accomplish for ourselves, for others, or even for God completely takes over our thoughts and makes us completely lose perspective. What is required at this moment of lunacy is to sit there and do nothing, reconnecting with our Source of infinite peace, intelligence, wisdom, love.

The Infinite Source is magnificent, but not necessarily glamorous. It is like the support girders that keep our national highways humming without falling down. We are supposed to keep driving: not stop and take pictures of them as we make our way down the road. Imagine what would happen if we did! Well, that is exactly what does happen in each individual instance of mini-crazy. We go off- course and can stay there until we can stop long enough to check our direction. I can veer dramatically off course before my feet even hit the floor in the morning.

Perhaps, for me personally, the best thing I can do every morning before I bounce out of bed is to simply ask ” God, what are you going to show me today? What’s my lesson? Please help me to see it and receive it.

This is when being a storyteller can be a less than good thing, because I’m so excited about relating the miracle, the blessing or the lesson, that I don’t give it time to sink in. Hopefully, next time I’ll just sit there for a while and take it all in.

LOVE AND QUICKSAND

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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Aristotle

 

What else would I talk about this week, but love? As the quote would indicate, love is a practice, not a gooey feeling. But, what kind of love are we practicing? What is excellence in love?

 

Love can be a super- power, because it can erase fear, and not much else can.

Love can be freedom, because it can create an expansion in our spirit and open us to a whole new perspective on the world and a host of unexplored possibilities.

Love and intelligence combined can result in wisdom.

But love without detachment, can be quicksand for the giver and the recipient. Love that is not detached from judgment is entirely conditional, and can make the giver a puppeteer and the recipient resentful. Love not detached from the fact that we are not anyone’s saviors can ruin our health, take us off of our own path and ultimately take our loved one off of theirs. We can’t save anyone from all pain or consequences, even our children. Any and all efforts to do so only result in the erasure of us.

Love with detachment, gives us the ability to be compassionate and forgive. It allows us to love from the appropriate distance, so we don’t get stepped on for putting ourselves between someone else and their destiny.

Love is an attitude, an intention practiced daily, or even more often, to see others as a gift, a blessing, and a lesson for who they are right now at this instant.

 

 

Do Christians Have Free Speech Today?

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I like to live life in the cracks, because that’s where the light comes in.

Leonard Cohen.

 

On this day in 2015, do we have more or less freedom to speak than 10 years ago, or even 2 years ago?  This Monday was Martin Luther King Day. Dr. King was a living example of the power of speech, particularly, the power and the right to use speech to protest injustices and inequality.

I can’t help but wonder if there is still freedom of speech when the thing spoken about happens to be religion. Do we still have the right to speak in protest of religious inequality or other practices? With Charlie Hedbo, we saw the dangers of freedom of speech about someone else’s religious beliefs. But, what about Christianity? Right here, today in America, a land that ridicules theocracies, do Christians really have free speech? Are Christians really allowed to speak honestly or even critically about their own religion without losing the moniker of “devout” or “faithful?”

The most common observation my non-Christian friends make about we Christians is that we don’t seem to practice tolerance or grace to each other or even like each other very much. Case in point: the YouTube uproar resulting from a Victoria Osteen sermon. A video clip from a sermon preached by Victoria Osteen seemingly saying, “ come to church for you and your own happiness” was played with a predictably vehement series of responses. She was called a heretic. I’m not surprised that some people vehemently disagreed with her. I even disagreed with some of what she was saying. But, what really caused me concern as a Christian was the vitriolic claims of heresy not because of what she said, but because she was a woman saying it. One YouTube commentator said she was a heretic because the Bible does not allow women to speak with authority over men. So, she was a heretic because she was a woman speaking in a church? 

Another case in point: Rob Bell. The Huffington Post recently ran a great article recounting what happened to him as a result of writing the best-selling book, Love Wins. It recounted how Mr. Bell fell from grace, lost his flock and had to completely re-invent himself after publishing the book. Fellow Christians labeled him a heretic. Heretic? Apparently, Christian commentators did not know what to label him; was he a Christian Universalist or something else? I’m wondering why that is important in a theology that stresses grace?

These two events happened before the cyber- attack pending the release of The Interview, and the subsequent attack on Charlie Hebdo. Where at first, I was concerned, now my blood is running cold.

 ~                                                                   ~

 I have a question or two. Do we find wonder, authenticity, or miracles in rigid dogma? I haven’t. I haven’t found compassion or tolerance resting there either. What about grace, the hallmark of Christianity? Doesn’t grace only occur when we fall short of the absolute rules and someone loves us, anyway? I have been unsuccessfully trying to be as perfect as Jesus all these years, and found these spiritual prizes in the cracks between the dicta, the dogma, the all or nothing commands.

When we decry any work or statement we don’t’ agree with as heresy, aren’t we limiting our own ability to speak out in the future?

Owe no one anything except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

Just saying:)

5 PRICELESS GIFTS I HOPE YOU ALREADY HAVE FOR CHRISTMAS & HANUKKAH

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(BOOK EXCERPT)

“ I overheard a conversation recently which was life- changing for me.

The man whom I was pretending not to overhear was giving a definition of integrity that I had never heard: it simply means undiminished. This is the first gift I wish for you for Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year: that you go through this season and this life with passion and dignity undiminished. Love undiminished. Faith undiminished. Influence and ability to help others undiminished. Joy and lust for life undiminished. Beauty and purpose undiminished.

 

Audacity

I hope you are already audacious enough to realize you are ageless and timeless and to love wildly and unconditionally, especially yourself. I wish you the audacity that provides you the certainty that you were created intentionally for a reason and that your life and your individual experiences will ultimately matter to others, and that makes them not only valuable, but also sacred. May you always have the audacity to question those who judge and question you. May you be audacious enough to ask for answered prayers and even miracles and to expect those answers and miracles to arrive.

 

The Simplicity necessary to actively look for, perceive and receive those answered prayers and miracles with clear sight. May you never second- guess, analyze, or explain a blessing or miracle away, just because it didn’t arrive in the predicted packaging.

 

I wish you Freedom to find and lose and find your authentic self yet again within the safety of a group that provides you the sanctuary to do so without the hindrances of:

Deadlines

Shame

Dogma

Labels or

Limitations”

 

May you have happy, joyous and peace-filled holidays and beyond.

God bless us, every one:)

 

Undamned, My Escape From the Old Testament 

 

PEACE IS INTERSTELLAR

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Each moment has its life and its death; otherwise, existence is impossible.

The Tao.

 

I saw the movie, Interstellar, last night in IMAX and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a Sunday morning, and I should be in church, but I am still thinking about this movie instead. I keep thinking about how so many seemingly random and unrelated things in this movie turn out to be inextricably intertwined and, in fact, dependent each upon the other. I keep thinking about the vast number of spiritual parallels to this theme.

The film is almost indescribable in its artistry and overlapping themes, but David Brooks of The New York Times writes a stunningly beautiful review of the movie entitled, Love and Gravity, that is, I think, a work of art in and of itself. In his review Mr. Brooks points to the movie pointing to this interconnection of seemingly mutually exclusive things: science and faith, and science and our love for each other. In fact, they are intertwined, and faith and love become their own field and dimension.

And so it is, I think, with Peace. It can be a super- power, but it is dependent upon and intertwined with so many other things. Like the movie, it is dependent on our attraction to and seeking out of something or someone out there we cannot see, who spans time and space, generations, life and death—a God who is invisible but is still reaching across time and space to be with us. It is impossible to connect with him if we don’t extend ourselves to meet him. That is the cosmic, fun side.

There is also the mundane side of peace– muscle memory. Peace is a practice.

I suffered a brain injury as a result of a car accident about two years ago. I am now ok. Before the accident, I was a fairly accomplished pianist and was in a band singing and learning the guitar. I lost my memory of how to play these instruments. Because I lost the intellectual memory to process these things, I didn’t even try. Because I didn’t even try, I lost the muscle memory. When my intellectual memory of the chords and notes returned, my hands and my voice would not respond to the commands. Once I just started moving my fingers it was terrible at first, but within a couple of weeks, the music began to sound like something a human being would want to hear. I played a tape of a friend singing to teach myself to sing again. I thought that regaining command of my instruments was dependent on my mind but it was dependent on my love for them and their need to be played.

Peace is like this. If I wait for it to just happen to me, I won’t experience it. To have peace I have to surrender to the partnership with my unseen creator, and for that to happen, I have to practice being mindful that there is a partnership It is dependent on my love for my creator, his love for me and my ability to practice this, if only for a few moments a day. Peace, and the lack of it, is related to control, powerlessness and fear, but especially self worth and humility.

I can’t have peace if I am afraid of the future, regret the past, or don’t approve of myself. I can’t get rid of these afflictions unless I practice peace. I can’t cure my mind and it’s ridiculous thought patterns with my mind. Back to the partnership and the eternal dance.