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Saturday, July 4, 2020

Kindness Initiative

During the night a seed of an idea came to me. I'm going to ask you to help water and nourish it.

As we can all see, there is, and has always been, a lot of turmoil and pain on earth. We have the power to turn that around with a simple decision:
From this day onward I will do one or more acts of kindness every day. I will refrain from being hurtful.
This pledge to join the Kindness Initiative means we will do our best to be beneficial presences here on earth. If we do this, invite others to do this, if this catches on, we can shift into a place that nurtures and lifts. Imagine with me how it could be.

I realize that this simple pledge sounds easier than it is. It is easy to occasionally do an act of kindness, but to pledge to do so daily for the rest of our lives is a bit daunting. To refrain from doing any harm is perhaps equally daunting. Many of us have formed a numbing wall around us so that we are not always/often aware or caring of the impact of our actions on ourselves and others. We tell ourselves stories that get us, in our own minds, off the hook. But, we must emerge from the numbing wall and become aware of our own selves fully and honestly.

Those of us who choose The Kindness Initiative as a path are people of courage who open up new ways to walk this earth. Come walk with me dear one.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

My Thinking Pathway

Since I have declared for many decades that I am a seeker of truth, and I am guessing so have you, how does one go about such a daunting quest? What is Truth, and how do we find it?

I was thinking about this partially because I'd been having a theological email dialogue with a clergy friend. One of the things I wrote was, "The God I know wouldn't torture anyone for a minute, let alone for eternity." I was taking exception to Anselm's 11th century idea of substitutionary salvation that got added to official theology. The idea had been debated since Paul, but was not "settled" until Anselm, at least the way I read history. My idea of salvation is that Jesus saves me from a lot of unnecessary pain and angst by showing me how to be in relationship with God and with one another. He is a sacred bridge.

So how do I know this or anything else?

First, I have a touchstone or two of things I know with certainty. In this case, God is a loving, living Presence, always with us, never absent, even if we forget for a moment, we are not abandoned. We live in a state of Grace, even when we stumble. Since I really do know this, anything to the contrary contains falsehood, confusion, willful deceit, or maybe just comes from a shallow thinker. Part of this involves my moral sense, is the idea a lifter, a helper and does it lead to goodness without harm?

Then I look from where and from whom did the idea I'm considering come? How credible are they? What do they benefit from promoting the idea? (As in Anselm's salvation scheme, the church gets control of the seekers wanting to be saved from hell, however imaginary it all might be.) The same could be said of politics and other areas.

I double check, as does this sound like the original and do I agree with the original? Would Jesus have likely agreed with, whatever bit of theology we might consider? And am I in full or partial agreement with them. Is this (whatever) aligned with my experience, knowledge and common sense?

I look with clear eyes at myself to make as certain as possible that whatever it is that I see and am considering is not confirmation bias. I don't want to falsely shore up false or partial truths, even long held ones.

After prayer and meditation, with willingness to let go of even my most treasured ideas in order to seek and find Truth, I arrive at my working hypotheses. Because I am not infinite, I do know I can not arrive at all Truth, but can be sure I am or am not in the right track aiming at my goal or gone astray.

So I question, whatever it is, whoever it is, they have to pass my tests in order for me to take them seriously. I chose not to live in a mental prison. I chose to be free.

Holy Presence, Lord of my soul, guide us gently to Your Truth. Help us to let go of all out of sync with You. Open our eyes and ears and mind to You. Lead us out of mental prisons to freedom.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Dismay

I am watching in dismay the expressions of out of control emotions. Seemingly crazed and ignorant youth attack statues of our cultural heroes like Abraham Lincoln. In a frenzy they shout slogans and carry pre-printed signs. They don't know how erasing history has worked out in other countries (really, really badly). They don't know we learn from history, even the bad stuff. But we have to study history to learn from it, that is, not with a spin on it, but with real intent to understand.

My mind began to contemplate extremism. I saw a circle. Extremists, right and left, meet and are basically the same. Intolerant. Wanting everyone to agree with them, or else. Violent and destructive. Ruled by emotions and prejudices. Easily manipulated by others who want them under their control. One dimensional in thinking. Willing to destroy all in their way. Sure they, and no others, are absolutely right.

Aristotle popped into my mind. His influence in Western culture has been huge. One of his thoughts that has stuck with me since Ethics class in the University is 'The Golden Mean." The happy and healthy way to live is the middle, neither too far to the right nor too far to the left. Balance. Freedom. Oneness.

And, we are all children of God. Time to grow up, give up sibling rivalry and love one another.


Monday, June 22, 2020

I'm Right - No, I'm Right

The who is right struggle goes on constantly. Mostly, the arguments are one dimensional. The argument often assumes there is only one or maybe two causes or variables that produce the outcome being "discussed."

I hear political "pundits" and "experts" on about any topic arguing one-dimensionally. We'll get to religion in a minute. Let's start with climate change. The one-dimensional argument is carbon emissions are THE cause. Let's add texture to this topic. Sun flares and storms and quiet periods have the largest effect on earth's weather. But, of course, we have no known  control over the sun. Trees and plantlife in general take in CO2 and give back oxygen. We do have control over the protection and planting of trees and other plantlife. Climate has continually changed, sometimes drastically, even before there were humans. Volcanoes and meteorites can create huge climate changes. For various reasons, the ozone hole is closing. We could go on, but hopefully we see the need to go beyond one-dimensional thinking here and on all topics.

My particular interest is in spirituality. One-dimensional thinking is rampant in many areas of religion, especially in what is called the organized religions. My personal preference is to look for spiritual principles found in a wide range of places. However, for many people, it is heresy to go beyond the bounds of their group's (tribe's) dogma. So I hear things like, God said it and I believe it; If you don't believe Jesus is God you will go to hell; You are condemned from birth because of original sin, etc. Strange dogma upon even stranger dogma.

I have been on a quest for Truth for most of my life. I have studied history in order to know how these dogmas were formed, asking questions such as: when were these ideas added to the official line, who originated them, what was their purpose, how do they relate to the beginning inspiration and person, who profits from them, how freeing or how manipulating are they, how do they fit with actual personal experience, how universal are they, etc etc etc????

It would be accurate to say, that upon close study and observation, almost all dogmas can be discarded, and should be discarded. They create a mental prison. Instead, in order to free ourselves spiritually, we need to reset our spiritual quest and vision.

Spiritual goals can be explored. For example: I want to draw closer into personal relationship with God; I seek Truth; I want to know God as the Great mystics knew God (of all times and cultures); I want to be as spiritually awake as one can be here in earth, etc.

I truly urge you to go for it. Find the kingdom of God in your very soul.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

A Virtual Life

I'm a delegate from our church to the annual CalPac conference of the United Methodist Church. We meet at the University of Redlands, but not this year. We meet at this new place called "Zoom." It seems so odd. We're on a break right now, but we will be soon Zooming again.

Our Sunday service is now on Facebook. Our committees and small groups of spiritual studies are now on Zoom. Some meetings are not happening at all, as you really have to be there, like making prayer quilts together. Sure, I keep making them and taking them to our cupboard at church, but it's really not the same.

Our world is becoming a virtual experience. A new concept has emerged, "the new normal." No one knows how this will be expressed, except we know things are and will be different.

I miss my previous freedom to go where I wanted, to see people and hug them and share thoughts and ideas, to walk in the park or stroll through the mall, to have civil discussions even with those with a different point of view.

It seems we have willingly given up our freedom. Fear has struck our world - fear of each other, fear of a virus, fear of disobeying those giving us orders, fear of angry mobs. Apparently, freedom is quite fragile and easy to stop in a way we did not previously know.

Before it is too late, let's claim our freedom. Let's be considerate of others and their freedom, but let's not live in the land of fear.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Healing the Collective Unconscious

There are some interesting theories I've read about consciousness I want to share. Carl Jung hypothesized that every thought and word and energy of all time exists in a sort of energy field he named the collective unconscious. It's chaotic, being the storehouse of boogeyman and great thoughts, of fears and hopes, of all range of thoughts.

We can and do tap into it.

There are people who suggest that as we rise in consciousness, we help to calm the chaos in this energy field. To me, this is a hopeful possibility.

Just as evolution may refine our genes, there is a conscious consciousness evolution, and it affects us all, therefore the arc of history. It is conscious because we must choose to move beyond our egos, beyond our conditioning, into the adventure of the spiritual quest.

Each drop of awakening is like a drop of clear water in a glass of muddy water. Each moment of peace, each act of kindness, each choice of selflessness, each hour of meditation, each prayer, each act of forgiveness, all we are and all we do are drops after drops of clear water into the murky pond of hundreds of thousand years of human energies.

Sometimes I see sparkles of clear water in our world. Often I see the hysteria of ego and the dark shadows of conditioning move across the faces of the slumbering mass of humanity - and we are tribal again, just as our ancestors were. But then another clear drop comes, and I have hope again.

Probably not in my lifetime, but maybe in some future time there will be a drop that tips the balance in the energy field and awakening will open like a contagion. All across the planet people will rub their eyes, stretch and see Oneness. Clarity will reign and there will be no more human contributions to the dark side. It is possible, however unlikely. An old lady can dream.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Conclusions/Hypotheses

The turmoil in the world whirling around many vortices has led me to share some of my conclusions/hypotheses about humanity. In no particular order:

  • Earth is a school for souls. The main curriculum revolves around love, agape, unconditional love; and around spiritual awakening.
  • We all have a Divine origin.
  • We all have purpose.
  • We most likely have been to earth before and will return again, as we strive to embody the curriculum.
  • All experiences are teachers.
  • We likely set up a general outline of this life before coming here that is suited to our personal growth.
  • We are also tasked with remembering our oneness with the Divine and therefore with each other.
  • Our lower energies of anger, lust, greed and power need to be tamed.
  • We are responsible for our thoughts, words and deeds. 
  • How we respond to events tells us about how far or how close we are to living our purpose.
  • Everyone is a member of the spiritual family and is to be loved, encouraged and treated with kindness.
  • Great awakened beings have come here to be bridges out of the illusion of appearances into Reality.
I hope you think on these things. Namaste