Friday, May 27, 2016

Awakening Your Consciousness

Over the years and through my travels, I have had many opportunities to meet and know a large diverse group of people. When I lived on a reservation in British Columbia, I learned about the Native American culture and their spirituality, and they became my family.  When I moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, I met so many amazing people in and out of the entertainment business and found them to be decent and caring human beings.  Before I moved to L.A., I was told by several people, including my minister, that I was going to go straight to hell for moving there and that all people in ‘Hollywood’ were evil.  Except I had a different experience in that most everyone I met and got to know were really wonderful human beings!  I learned a great lesson in that you’ll find what you’re looking for and I found the good in people.

Since then, I’ve lived in numerous states, and have enjoyed expanding on my diverse friendships.  I continue to meet and make friends with such a variety of human beings, and those include all colors, races, religions, cultures, LBGT’s, and so many more.  As you know, I love diversity!  My life has been so blessed and enriched because of all the people I’ve met and known in my life, and it doesn’t matter where they come from or what they believe. 

I was fortunate in that I had these experiences, as there are many who don’t have the opportunities to meet and know so many.  There are also those who refuse to get to know others because of any perceived differences.  It’s so easy for fear and hate to dictate who we meet and know, and then people are fighting, arguing, and going to war just because of their differences in beliefs. 

Once people start dehumanizing and demonizing an individual or groups of people (races, religions, etc.), it becomes very dangerous and we’re seeing a lot of this in our current religious and political realms.  When the oppressors treat people as sub-humans, this can lead to horrific atrocities because people will justify their fear, hate, bigotry, and ignorance by believing that since these people are sub-humans, then they have no right to the same rights as the rest of us, or in its extreme, to even have the right to live.  

After arriving on this continent, early Europeans committed genocide on millions of Native Americans and moved thousands to reservations.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, over 100,000 Japanese men, women, and children, most who were American citizens, were forced into internment camps on the American west coast.

In Nazi Germany, Adolph Hitler believed that Germans were racially superior and soon committed genocide on millions of Jews, Gypsies, disabled, religious dissidents, mentally ill, homosexuals, and others he didn’t agree with. 

In 1994 in Rwanda, Africa, the Hutu’s committed genocide against the Tutsi’s and as many as 800,000 people were slaughtered because of ethnic hostility.

These are just a few examples of the atrocities committed against man-kind all because of a difference in beliefs.  Haven’t we learned anything from our history?  Today, we’re seeing political and religious leaders demonizing and dehumanizing Muslims, Hispanics, immigrants, LGBT’s, disabled, homeless, mentally ill, women, and many more.  When you get enough people riled up in hate, bigotry, ignorance, and violence, anything can happen.  We’re already seeing many of these groups being oppressed, harmed, murdered, and laws being made against them.  It’s not a far stretch to think that another genocide could occur in our future if we don’t do everything we can to prevent it.  My heart goes out to all those who are experiencing this brand of hate and discrimination and I hold them all in the collective consciousness of unconditional love.

The other side of this is that there are billions of people out there who are not steeped in hate.  We’re following the teachings of the spiritual masters of our religions in that we are to love one another (no exceptions), we’re showing kindness and compassion to each other, helping those in need, and are working to bring peace to our world!  We’re raising the consciousness of all human beings as well as to our planet!  We can either join the collective consciousness of fear and darkness, or we can choose the collective consciousness of love and light.  It’s our choice.

Eckhart Tolle said, “The awakening of consciousness is the next evolutionary step for mankind.”  And Neale Donald Walsch stated, “We’re seeing a higher level of consciousness and many more opportunities for people to challenge their present ways of thinking and move into a grander and larger experience of who they really are.”

“If you knew how many hearts are healed and how many lives are transformed throughout the patterns created in every choice, you’d follow your heart in every breath and bless the world wherever you go.”  Matt Kahn 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 27, 2016.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

I'll Laugh With God Anytime!

Recently, I read a great book titled, “Why Is God Laughing?  The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism” by Deepak Chopra.  I love reading spiritual novels which are fictional stories, yet contain a lot of spiritual truths to them.  Many that I read are based on the author’s real life experiences, yet they use their imagination to enhance the story’s plot while weaving in the lessons they actually learned in life.

“Why is God Laughing” is an uplifting read on spirituality and gives us ten reasons to be optimistic even in a challenging world.  It also teaches us why laughter from the heart is a very healthy response to life.  As Epictetus said, “It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

It’s about a fictional character named Mickey, who is a successful comedian, yet just as human as the rest of us.  When his father dies, he goes into a deep despair turning to alcohol to try to deaden the pain.  At one point he was passed out on the couch when he heard his father, Larry, coming through the TV.  After his initial shock, he began having a conversation with his dad, who started explaining what it was like after he died.  He said he didn’t see God, but he heard the voice of God.  Mickey asks him what God said and Larry replied, “He didn’t say anything.  He was laughing.”  Mickey asked if God was laughing at Larry, but Larry answered, “He wasn’t laughing at anybody.  This laughter was everywhere.  It filled the universe.  It was pure joy.”  He added, “Everyone should hear that sound.  Kiddo, it would make all the difference.  Until the world laughs with God, nothing’s going to change.”

One day Mickey meets a mysterious gentleman named Francisco who ends up changing his life forever.  Through riddles from Francisco, and by having Mickey experience different scenarios, Mickey begins to look within for his answers and discovers the truth of who he really is. 

At the end of the book, Chopra gives us ten principles that Francisco imparted to Mickey and explains them in more detail.  Chopra states, “As realization grows within you, there is no limit to what you may become; the only certainty is that you will be transformed.” 

These principles are as follows:  1) The healthiest response to life is laughter.  2) There is always a reason to be grateful.  3) You belong in the scheme of the Universe.  There’s nothing to be afraid of.  You are safe.  4) Your soul cherishes every aspect of your life.  5) There is a plan, and your soul knows what it is.  6) Ecstasy is the energy of Spirit.  When life flows, ecstasy is natural.  7) There is a creative solution to every problem.  Every possibility holds the promise of abundance.  8) Obstacles are opportunities in disguise.  9) Evolution leads the way through desire.  And, 10) Freedom is letting go.  As it states on the book’s inside cover, “In the end, we really don’t need a reason to be happy.  The power of happiness lies within each of us, just waiting to be unleashed.”

I can imagine that some are having a hard time imagining God laughing, but why not?  Laughter is very healing!  Personally, I consider laughter to be the music of the Universe!  But how can God laugh when so many people are suffering here on Earth?  Even though we see so much suffering, don’t we still laugh?  It doesn’t mean that we don’t care.  We still love and help our fellow beings.  It’s a hard concept to understand, but once we do, we realize that we humans take ourselves way too seriously, and that in itself is a hard concept to understand when we do see so much suffering.

Laughter is a very spiritual emotion and is one of the greatest gifts from God to us.  It’s everywhere if you just listen.  Osho said, “If you become silent after your laughter, one day you will hear God also laughing, you will hear the whole existence laughing…trees and stones and stars with you.” 

To give laughter is a wonderful gift you can give to others.  As Lateef Warnick stated, “The greatest life one can have is of service. Give joy, happiness, bliss, laughter, wisdom, prosperity, love, and light to others. By doing so, you tap into the Infinite Source within ensuring that you will never have to do without these ‘treasures’ yourself!”

Whether you believe God laughs or not is up to you, but for me?  I’ll laugh with God anytime, and I’d be willing to bet God has a really great, infectious laugh! 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 20, 2016.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Soul Is the Truth of Who We Are

There was a great movie called “Cocoon” that’s about aliens disguised as humans who come back to earth to retrieve twenty of their friends who were kept alive in pods which were left behind at the bottom of the ocean.  They retrieve the pods with the help of a human boat captain and put them in an abandoned indoor swimming pool.  Next door is a retirement home where several elders find out about the pool and decide to go for a swim.  Seeing the strange pods, they decide to swim anyway.  The elders and the aliens soon meet, and along with the captain, they all become fast friends.  It’s a beautiful movie about friendships and people coming together in spite of any perceived differences. 

One scene made a huge impact on me.  The captain was on his boat with the aliens, and a female alien was in one of the rooms.  As the captain watched her from outside the room, the woman reached behind and unzipped her ‘costume’ causing the human disguise to fall to the floor.  The captain was shocked to see that underneath was the most beautiful light being. 

When I saw that scene, I had a great aha moment!  That must be what the soul is like!  Every single being on earth has this soul light within because we were all made from that same light Source (God or by whatever name you use).  Within us, that beautiful light emanates and glows.  When we are aware of that light which is made of pure, unconditional, perfect love, we can let that light shine outwards towards others, and we can connect with the light of all those around us and in the world.  We know that we are all connected because we are all made of the exact same substance, the same substance that makes up the stars and everyone and everything around us.  Billy Fingers said, “Imagine your cells as billions of stars sparkling inside of you.”  I love that image!

When I first came to this realization, it taught me not to judge, that we really are all created equal, and that when we hurt others, we are only hurting ourselves.  When we take off the labels we use to define us, we realize we really are a soul.  The soul has no color, race, religion, gender, nationality, etc., and there is no separation.  Marianne Williamson said, “The soul is the truth of who we are.”

The adventure is that because we are souls living in a human body and we have no memory of who we were before we came here, we get caught up in so much of the human drama that makes up our lives, and then we acquire those labels that end up defining us.  Once we become conscious of the soul within and our connection to others, we then can no longer be a part of hurting anyone else for any reason.  As Deepak Chopra stated, “If we could learn to live from the level of the soul, we would see that the best most luminous part of ourselves is connected to all the rhythms of the universe.  We would truly know ourselves as the miracle-makers we are capable of being.”   If we could all really see each others’ souls, there would literally be peace on earth. 

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 states, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.” 

Jesus and all the great spiritual masters in all genuine religious and spiritual teachings knew this eternal truth as well as our connectedness with each other.  We are bound together by these loving souls that are within each and every one of us.  Trudy S. Vesotsky said, “Your soul is the extension of a higher source, its love for you is greater than anything you can experience outside of yourself.” 

I love the term Namaste` which means, “My soul honors your soul.  I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides.  I honor the light, love, truth, beauty, and peace within you, because it is also within me.  In sharing these things, we are united, we are the same, we are one.”

We can all become more enlightened when it comes to our souls.  As James Blanchard Cisneros said, “Enlightenment is not a change into something better or more, but a simple recognition of who we truly already are.” 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 13, 2016.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Good Luck, Bad Luck? Who Knows?

There’s a story of a farmer and his son who had a magnificent stallion.   One day, the horse ran away and the neighbors exclaimed, “What terrible luck!”  The farmer replied, “Maybe so; maybe not.”

A few days later, the horse returned home bringing with him several wild mares.  The neighbors declared, “Your stallion has returned with several other horses!  What great luck!  The farmer again replied, “Maybe so; maybe not.”

Later, the farmer’s son was riding one of the mares when she threw him to the ground causing a bad break in his leg.  The neighbors sympathized, “How awful about your son!  What terrible luck!”  Once more the farmer replied, “Maybe so; maybe not.”

Not long after, soldiers from the army marched through town recruiting all the eligible males, but they didn’t take the farmer’s son because of his injury.  Elated, the neighbors cried out, “Your boy was spared from war!  What tremendous luck!”  The farmer replied once again, “Maybe so; maybe not.” 

This wonderful story came to my mind recently as I went through a catastrophic event that had me so upset and wanting to eat a brownie the size of a cow.  My computer crashed.  Not only that, our Internet provider’s back-up program hadn’t backed up my computer for over two months, even though their numerous techs insisted that everything was being backed up.  I cried a few tears, did some comfort eating, went into my shell, and had myself a huge pity party for a party of one.  Me.  For the next several days, I was in major bummie mode and was having a hard time getting myself de-bummed.

Yeah, yeah, I know…  My computer crashing isn’t a big deal compared to what other people are going through and with what’s going on in the world, and the possibility of losing over two month’s writings and work can’t be compared to diseases and death.  But for that one vulnerable moment in time, it took me out big time.  I’m a writer and I write a lot, so losing any of my work could be a huge bummer.

I am a big believer that good comes from everything even though we may not always see it at the time.  Or we may never openly see it, but it will happen.  We just have to keep an open mind and look for the signs.  And trust me…at the moment I’m looking big time.

Those who know me also know that I’m an incurable optimist to the point that it can sometimes drive friends and family bonkers.  What many don’t know, except for my closest friends, is that I do have my pessimistic moments more times than I care to admit.  I just don’t complain or talk about them.  I may mention something that happened in passing, but I refuse to play the victim card. 

When I look back on my life, I can see how good manifested from the experiences I thought were traumatic at the time.  For some of them, it took years before I could look back in hindsight and see the good that had transpired.    

You may ask how good can come from such terrible disasters such as 9/11.  Tragedies such as these are horrific and they can leave people scarred for life.  The thing to remember is these events unite people from all over the world to help.  We all see each other only as human beings and look past the labels.  The problem is that people soon forget, and society and nations go right back to their fighting and arguing and seeing only the labels that each of us wears.

Another example would be to look at all the hate, bigotry, and violence that is being propagated right now.  Yes, many people who are steeped in fear of others for whatever reasons are joining the dark side, so to speak.  What people don’t realize, and too few can see, is that all this is actually teaching people to love!  It’s uniting people and bringing us together from all races, religions, nationalities, genders, politics, and walks of life.  Again, love doesn’t sell in the media so we don’t hear about these wonderful stories of hope, courage, and oneness. 

Of course, being an optimist or always looking for the good doesn’t mean we ignore the bad or negative.  Our perspectives are choices that we make.  Walt Disney said, “I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.”  And Noam Chomsky stated, “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future.  Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.” 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 6, 2016.