Thursday, December 30, 2010

What If?

What if when we are born, we are born as pure, unconditional, perfect love, and we are born knowing all the answers to the Universe?  What if when we are born, we are born with the potential to become the greatest expression of who God wants us to be?  What if this was true, but we’ve somehow forgotten?

You see, I believe that all the above is true, right here, right now.  When a parent looks at their newborn child, they feel that pure unconditional, perfect love for that child.  It’s a feeling like no other.  Some say they never truly knew what real love was until they had a child.  It’s the love that we should be feeling all the time, throughout our lives, for ourselves and for everyone around us.  If you could take that love and multiply it a thousand fold, a million fold, it would still be just a smidgeon of the love that God has for us regardless of who we are or our situation in life.  This is the love that Jesus and all the great Spiritual teachers taught.

As infants, we have yet to learn labels.  We have yet to learn the word ‘no.’ We have yet to be taught that we are less than, that we aren’t worthy, that we can’t accomplish what we want in life, or that our dreams can’t come true.  We haven’t yet caught what I call the ‘can’tz disease.’  (Can’t do this; can’t do that.)

We haven’t yet been taught to hate, that people are different, that some people are bad or good, right or wrong, or that we’re less than because we don’t measure up to other people’s expectations of us.   Hate, bigotry, prejudice, intolerance are all learned behaviors either by those around us, or by our experiences. 

It is said that God is love and that “God created man in his own image and likeness” (Gen. 1:27)  What if that image is not in the physical sense, but in the “Spiritual sense?”  The essence of who we are.  I know that many people believe that God has a human form, living in the clouds, sitting on a throne, in a long white robe, and long white hair.  And if that’s what you believe, that’s okay.  But what if He were more than that?  If God is love, and we are in the image of God, then that makes us love, too.  If that makes us love, that makes everyone around us love.  If we could only see ourselves as God truly sees us, it could change our whole perception on who we are meant to be and that we really can be the greatest expression of God in our everyday lives.  1 John 4:8 says, "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love."

Can we really see God’s love in our fellow man?  Can we love them as God loves them?  1 John 4:20-21 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother."

It’s so easy to judge others because it’s easier than loving them.  We have certain belief systems that actually teach hate and intolerance.  We can pick out Bible verses and interpret them to back up our personal beliefs, but I think Jesus said it best in John 13:34-35:  "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As for judging, James 4:11-12 states:  “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.  The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law.  But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.  There is only one lawgiver and judge; he who is able to save and to destroy.  But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

What if we live the example of Jesus and all the other great Spiritual leaders?  What if we come into the New Year and change the world with our love?  Is it easy?  Hardly.  But the great Master, Jesus, commanded us to love one another as we love ourselves.  The more loving we are towards others, the more loving will be our experience of God.  It begins with us. 

.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Humanity's Hope

In this new year, we have the most glorious opportunity to make the choices to be the grandest vision of who we can be…as a nation, as a world, and as a people. 

We are in a state of miraculous transition, and it is our choice as to how we want to see our future unfold.  We can no longer continue to hate others and be intolerant just because someone is different than we are, whether it’s a different belief/religion, skin color, nationality, race, or walk of life.  We’re all in this world together.

The greatest spiritual leaders and teachers throughout history have taught unconditional love:  Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Mohammed, the Dalai Lama, and many others have all taught unconditional love as the Golden Rule.   But from the beginning of time and throughout the ages, people began to argue, fight, and go to war over who had the only true religion, whose God was better, and who was right and wrong. 

So what is unconditional love?  I looked to Wikipedia on the Internet to see what it had to say and I found the following:  Unconditional love is a term that means to love someone regardless of his actions or beliefs.  Unconditional love separates the individual from his behaviors. The individual is loved unconditionally as a "perfect" child of the Higher Power.”  (I do want to add that this does not excuse someone’s harmful behavior, as people always need to take the consequences for their actions.)

All religions and Bibles teach some form of the Golden Rule.  A few are:

Buddhism:  “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”
Christianity:  “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” 
Confucianism:  “Do not do to others what you would not like yourself.  Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state.” 
Hinduism:  “This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.”
Islam:  “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” 
Judaism:  “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man.  This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.” 
Taoism:  “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” 

If we could all live by the Golden Rule and practice it in our daily lives, think how we could change the world!   Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I say, “Be the love you wish to see.”

There are times when I feel such an overwhelming sense of love for my fellow beings that I feel like I’m just going to burst into a ball of love energy.  We really are all made of the exact same stuff, but we just appear in different forms.  That doesn’t mean that I’m feeling this way all time.  I still have to constantly work on myself.

I know that the world can sometimes look like a very scary place.  There is a lot going on that can cause fear in the best of optimistic thinkers.  I cannot worry about what I have no control over.  I can only work on myself, my own attitude, and the way I wish to see the world.  I choose to look for the good in humanity.  We human beings are so much more than we give ourselves credit.  We’ve overcome the worst adversities throughout history, and we will continue to prevail.  But we can only do so if keep hope alive and work towards the greater good of all.

So, who or what is humanity’s hope?  WE ARE!  Each and every one of us.  Don’t worry about what the next person is or isn’t doing.  Be the change.  Be the example.  Be the miracle.  We may not always get it right, and we’ll still have our moments of negative feelings toward someone or some thing.  Imagine if we could get enough people to work on adding to the collective consciousness of unconditional love and to live the Golden Rule….we could change the world!  It’s up to us.  Choose love and never give up hope.

.

What a Person Believes...Is

In 1969, a new TV show hit the airwaves called “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” starring Bill Bixby.  There was one episode that made an impact on me, and it wasn’t so much the show as it was the words that Bill Bixby’s character said.  I don’t even remember the story line, but the profound words were, “What a person believes…is.”  The magnitude of that statement didn’t really hit me until many years later when I began my spiritual journey and became an open-minded believer in all things that are good.

It is so true.  It doesn’t matter what a person believes; to him/her it is their truth, and for most people, you can’t tell them any different.  They are right and everyone else is wrong.  It doesn’t matter what religion you are, what political party you belong, where you live, how you live, or your walk of life.  You believe what you believe for whatever reasons based upon your upbringing, your experiences, and everything you were taught.   

Many years ago, I attended a Native American Sweat Lodge (you sit inside a dome that contains extremely high heat and you sweat).  Afterwards, I was talking to the Ceremonial Singer and out of the blue, he made the statement, “There’s no such thing as right or wrong.”  I replied, “Killing is wrong!”  He countered, “What happens if that person had to kill to save himself or a family member, or those at war?”  We batted back and forth on various topics, but he continued to have a reply to everything I said.  It took me a good two weeks of constantly pondering that statement before the light bulb went off over my head and I got it.  In other words, I changed my beliefs.  There really isn’t any such thing as right or wrong, good or bad; it’s our perception that makes it so.  Nothing has meaning except for the meaning you give to it.

Some people will argue that they have facts to back up their beliefs.  I can guarantee you that there will be someone else who has facts to back up the exact opposite beliefs.  That is one reason I take the title “expert” very lightly.  For every expert on one subject, you will find another expert who can prove the exact opposite of the first expert. 

We used to believe that the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth. People were put in prison or killed because of those beliefs.  Certain cultures were believed to be sub-human and genocide occurred to get rid of them (this continues in some countries today). 

Just because someone believes something different than you does not mean that they are right or wrong.  It’s just what they believe at this time in their life.  I always tell people that I refuse to argue religion, politics, or opinion.  If people want to share and discuss their beliefs, I can discuss with the best of them; but I will not argue and try to make me right and them wrong.  Think about how some of your beliefs have changed over the course of your lifetime.

A belief is just a thought that you keep thinking and our thoughts can change, which changes our beliefs.  Johann Goethe said “Man is made by his belief.  As he believes, so he is.”  Proverbs 23:7 says “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  The Buddha states: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.  The mind is everything.  What we think, we become.”  James Allen wrote a book titled “As a Man Thinketh,” which I would highly recommend everyone read.  (It’s available free at www.asamanthinketh.net.)

I totally believe that our core belief should be based on unconditional love and build from there.  Embrace the diversity that is in our world.  We are all the same but different.  Allow people to believe whatever they want to believe and respect their right to believe whatever that want to believe (as long as they are not hurting anyone; they still need to be held accountable for their actions).  If we could just accept those who believe differently, think how much better we could get along as a people, a nation, and as a world. 

Even though life can be really rough sometimes, it’s our thoughts about those experiences that will make or break us. I would like to close with a quote I came up with several years ago.  “Life is beautiful, life is good, life is what you believe it to be.”

.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Magical and Miraculous Holiday Season

The holiday season is here and for many of us, it is a season of magic, miracles, joy, and laughter, spending time with friends and family in love and companionship, and eating holiday food to our heart’s desire. We look forward to the holidays and always see them pass with fond memories. Seeing the holiday decorations brings warm feelings, and people feel a connectedness to everyone that is not normally felt outside of the season. Charities see a boost in giving, people go out of their way to see that the hungry are fed, children are given toys, and we are a little kinder to neighbors and strangers alike. Even the holiday movies are festive and always have a happy ending.

On the other side, there are those who do not experience the magic and miracles of the holidays, but instead, the holidays are something to dread and fill them with much anxiety. Family gatherings are a nightmare, and it tends to be an extremely stressful time. There are those who are suffering sometimes more than the average person should have to suffer. I have so many friends who are going through the most awful stuff right now. We all know family, friends, neighbors, and strangers, who are struggling just to get through each day, let alone another holiday season.

So how can we bring a little magic and maybe a miracle or two to those who are not as fortunate as we are this holiday season? There are so many ways we can reach out and touch someone, and possibly change a life, even if just for the moment. Sometimes just a smile can brighten someone’s day. A hug, a kind word, a compliment…. That may be the only kindness that person has received in days, weeks, months, or even years.

I remember many years ago, I was working with an older woman and she was having a bad day. I gave her a hug, and afterwards, she commented, “Gee, I don’t even remember the last time someone hugged me.” A friend in college told me that before we met, she was considering taking her life, but after we became friends, she changed her mind. All I did was become her friend.

We never know how we touch someone’s life. We may even unknowingly save a life. It doesn’t take much. There are countless ways to help people. The smaller ways are to smile, offer a friendly hello, commit random acts of kindness, send a card of encouragement, call someone and tell them you were thinking about them, or ask if there is anything you can do to help. If you are financially able, take a box of food to someone who is in need, take them out to dinner once in a while, offer to babysit or sit for an elder to give someone a break; the ways are endless.

It’s so easy to sit in judgment of what others are going through because it is easier than having to love, have compassion, or understanding. Some think a homeless person is lazy, a depressed person can just snap out of it, the unemployed only need to go out and get a job, the addict only needs to stop the addiction… There is always a bigger picture. People are the way they are for whatever reasons, based on their upbringing, their environment, experiences, and beliefs. We never know a person’s state of mind.

But maybe we can start the healing. Maybe we can be the spark that starts them on their road to having a better life. Sometimes all a person needs is to feel validated as a human being, that their life means something to someone, that someone cares, to know that someone loves them. You don’t know how much the words “I love you” can mean to someone.

So, this holiday season, let’s reach out and touch someone with love, kindness, compassion, and understanding. Even better…let’s continue throughout the year and see how we can make this world a better place. Jesus said… “whatever you do for the one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me.” (Matt. 25:40) It begins with us. Be the magic. Be the miracle. Be the love. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

.