Surviving a Crisis

The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.
Aristotle.

My son has a close friend TJ. I had noticed his father at different school functions. Jerry was blind and had one leg. His attitude was so completely at peace with his situation that I thought he must have spent most of his life this way. After all, how could anyone seem so happy unless he had had a lifetime to adjust to such tragic circumstances?

I learned that it had only happened a year and a half before. I was shocked that such relatively little time had passed and that everything was so normal. This caused me to look back over my life and the many crises and tragedies I myself have had to face and I found that the only thing I had to regret was the length of time I spent on self-pity. Regardless of what we go through, eventually, we must face that moment when it becomes necessary to evaluate the living of our lives and not our lives themselves. You see, we have no control over what happens to us, but we do have control over how we react, and how we react could possibly determine the quality of the rest of our lives. Although it may seem difficult to control a reaction, reaction is a function of the lower mind. It is a habit. I had my hair pulled when I was a child so as I grew, anytime someone reached their hand in a way that appeared, to me, to be coming towards my head, I would flinch and pull back. Once I became conscious of this reaction, I began to do it less and less, first intentionally, and later not reacting became a habit. It took time to build up our reactions and it will take time to change them, but they can be changed.

We are each being faced, right now, with some form of personal crisis, within a national crisis within a world crisis. At this time, as perhaps at no other, it would be difficult to find one individual on the planet who is not at this time dealing with a crisis. We, in this country, are dealing with the effects of the Iraq War, the destruction caused by the climate changes, and our evaporating economy, while at the same time every individual is dealing with some form of personal, political, financial, racial or religious crisis. So, it helps to know that we are not suffering alone but have actually joined the suffering of mankind.

Putting it in this perspective, we must rise above our personal situations and understand that this is a time of change in the universe. There have been unprecedented increases in the sunspot activity in recent months. The atmospheres of various planets including our own have been going through drastic changes. We have just entered a new millennium, but with all things being synchronistic, we can say that the entire universe is also entering a new era.

For change to occur there must first be a period of breakdown; logically, there cannot be a breakdown without chaos and crisis. That which is not built to move to the next level must be transformed. The beginning of the last millennium was dominated by the advent of Christianity. The first years of breakdown and realignment of previously held beliefs were difficult years. They were not easy years in which to be incarnated, yet many souls chose them for their growth.

I read a book, “Life before Life<!–[if supportFields]> XE “Life before Life” < ![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]>< ![endif]–>“, by Helen Wambach which is now out of print, in which she, during the course of a few years, regressed over one thousand people from all over the country, to the time before they were born. She asked each person to find out the answers to a list of questions, one of which was why they chose this time to be here. The overwhelming reason was that this is a time of so much change and chaos on one hand, and so much available spiritual knowledge on the other, that it offers each soul the rare opportunity in which to fit many lifetimes worth of growth.

When life doesn’t work the way that, we planned or hoped it would, we can’t sit around until we rot; feeling miserable because we were given lemons. We just have to make lemonade. Sure, it is never easy, but the history of the world and the history of our own lives tell us that this too shall pass. And when it does, it is important that we have not wasted this valuable time in self-pity. When God closes one door, He opens another. It may be a struggle at first to face a new door, but it is worth the effort. For every pain, and every heartache there is a seed of equivalent benefit. If we take this as an opportunity to move to the next level, we will find that many of us are being given an opportunity to recreate our lives in a way that we never before believed possible. For so many years now I have been living under an cloud of debt. In the past few years I have felt like the commercial where a couple want to move their house is hovering over their heads. It has been a constant panic, will we lose the house, the cars, the insurance – or even, will we eat. I constantly fear that I will exhaust my reserves of faith if this goes on much longer. Then, as irony would have it, Easter Sunday my husband walked outside to find that both of our cars had been repossessed. I was initially distraught, I felt violated, lost, and how could we work without transportation? I just felt that this was the domino that would knock the whole building of dominos down. And it could have, no car – no work – no money – no home. But, a funny thing happened after the shock wore off – I felt just them most exhilarating sense of relief knowing two more payments that we could not afford to make were no longer hovering over our heads.

Just a few years before this, I was in the same position only this time I was renting and six months behind in my rent. I had this moment – you know – a movie moment when everything stops in mid-action, and I said to myself, ‘I have done all that I can do, I have tried everything that I can try, if we lose everything and end up in a shelter – it will be God’s will, and we will all learn what we arrived at this experience to learn and climb up from there.’ In that moment there was an energy shift in my life. A crisis can last ten years, or it can last ten minutes. It lasts as long as we remain in crisis mode and ends when we enter acceptance that what is – is, and move on to plan b – or at least to formulating a plan be. Anything that we do, that is not wallowing in the approaching trauma or existing trauma will shift the energy. I shifts from what was or will be lost – to what was or will be gained. Acceptance is the train out of suffering. It is the open door that allows new air to come in. Above all, acceptance allows us to realize that we are in good hands – always. And nothing happens that we did not choose before we came – and for the highest of reasons.

I asked for…
I asked for strength…. and was given difficulties to make me strong. I asked for wisdom…. and was given problems to solve. I asked for prosperity… and was given brain and brawn to work. I asked for courage… and was given danger to overcome. I asked for love… and was given troubled people to help. I asked for favors… and was given opportunities. I received nothing I wanted… I received everything I needed.
From “The Analects of Confucius” – a philosophical translation, by Roger Ames and Henry Rosemont
 

Being Loved Requires Being, Feeling Loved Requires Loving


1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor , and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; 6 rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; 7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known. 13 But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13

When I was a very young child I noticed how unhappy everyone in my family was. I then began to notice that there was so much of the same unhappiness all around me. I watched it, but I also shared it. Everyone felt unloved. At least, I know that is what we believed we felt. It is as though we are all standing in line facing and focusing all of our effort on receiving the love we need from the person standing in front of us, whose back we are facing. If we could all just turn around and give exactly what we are seeking to the person behind us, seeking the same love and approval, we would all, in turn, receive what stands between wholeness and ourselves.

I believed that if someone married me, I would feel loved; I would be happy. Then I believed that if I had a child of my own, THEN I would feel loved and be happy. When my only hopes for happiness left me still feeling worthless, I entered therapy. I went to the Alfred Adler clinic in New York City. On the intake questionnaire they asked: If you died, what would you want written on your gravestone. My response was, “Denise was WELL LOVED”. I believed that if by the time I died, my legacy was having been loved by many then I would know that somewhere along my journey on this earth I had found the happiness that I was seeking. All I thought I ever wanted was to feel loved. But what feeling loved really meant to me had nothing to do with another person loving me, but having some person convince me that I was worthy of loving.

I think about that gravestone often, and at various points in my life I have revisited the inscription considering what I would want written at each of those points in my life. At one point, about ten years ago, I arrived at my final revision of that stone. I realized that I would know that my life was all that I could have asked of it, if my gravestone says, “Denise LOVED WELL”. The reality is that the only way that the void of love within remains constantly filled is if it is constantly poured out to others. Here is a story that I read somewhere:

“With an angel for his guide, the visitor is first ushered through the gates of Hell, which, he is surprised to find, are made of finely wrought gold. The gates, in fact, are incomparably lovely, as is the verdant land¬scape that lies beyond them. All this is quite astonishing to the visitor, who turns to his angelic guide in disbelief. “It’s all so beautiful,” the man says. “The sight of the meadows and mountains . . . the sounds of the birds singing in the trees … the scent of thousands of flowers. . . .” And then another scent catches his attention: the aroma of food being prepared.
The angel leads the visitor toward an immense banquet table laden with every sort of delicacy. However, something is terribly wrong. Hundreds of people are seated around the table, but they all appear to be starving. Their emaciated condition is painful to see in the midst of such bounty, but even worse is the frustration and anger they are obviously experiencing. Each person at the table has a long-handled spoon chained to his wrist. The handles are so long that no one can place food in his mouth. But that does not prevent the condemned souls from trying. For all eternity, they are struggling to feed themselves a meal that is right before them, but that might as well be a hundred miles away. Taken aback by the tragic spectacle, the visitor is now more than ready to visit Paradise, and the angel immediately complies. At once they pass through an¬other set of golden gates, alike in every detail to the gates of hell. In fact, a great deal about the two locales seems to be identical, including the banquet table and the diners chained to their utensils. But the people around this table are well fed and happy, despite the fact that their circumstances are identical to those of the damned. The difference is not in the physical situation, but in how they respond to it. As you might have guessed by now, instead of trying to feed themselves, each of the souls at this table feeds the one across the table.”

Remembering that the ego through which we incarnate in each lifetime is little more than an accumulation of experiences and beliefs of our past lives. Change – growth and the merging of the ego and higher self are instigated by the soul. Each life is the next chapter in the evolution of the soul. This plotline of this life carries with it a repetition of situations from prior lives that were not resolved, not balanced. It also contains new areas experiences and challenges for further growth, and the fruit of lessons that we have mastered from past lives to share with others in this one. All souls who are late young, mature or old have lived through lifetimes of conditioning as beings stained at birth by original sin. Few adults living today were not there at the birth of this age, which is drawing to a close, and this age was born with the imprint of original sin.

The majority of people on earth, or at least in the western countries feel in some way inferior to almost everyone else alive. I have admired to so many people who I believed were confident, and self-assured only to find out that the singular difference between them and me was that they were better at pretending. Some assuage their feelings of inadequacy by telling themselves that they are superior to others. The more they immerse themselves in their superiority the less they have to acknowledge their feelings of inferiority. Some make a great show of telling everyone how great they are, while others find a skill, talent, or physique that they use to draw a constant flow of accolades. Then of course, there are embellishments such as wealth, fame and power to make one look superior.

People insist that their religion is the only religion acceptable to God out of a need to feel superior. It is the need to feel superior that causes people to insist that their choice of worship is the only true choice of worship. Jealousy is a sign of insecurity – God could not be jealous unless He was insecure about all of the other gods being worshiped. However, if there is only one God then that one God is not jealous, not wrathful, and not angry because all of those are symptoms of insecurity. Regardless of how superior we appear, and how content we may be with that appearance, within ourselves there are no props that can change how we feel. So, we look to intimate relationships to give us that feeling of adequacy by showering us with love. The problem is that the material world or rather the external world is impermanent. Whatever fills us up today will be insufficient to the task tomorrow. Someone will always come along smarter, prettier, wealthier, more powerful, more famous, more creative, more talented, younger etc. Everything external that matters today will not matter tomorrow, next week, next year, or whenever. Whatever exists in the external world has a shelf life. If that is where we seek our value, or sense of lovability, then we must acknowledge the expiration date.

Our past lives of belief in original sin have convinced us that we are defective. Now is the time to understand and to instill in the young children born at the dawn of this new age that we are each created so perfectly, so flawlessly, that there will never be more than one of each of us. We are each so perfect that we cannot be duplicated. We are each original signed creations of our Source, and there is not now, and will never be an artist superior to our creator, nor will there ever be materials superior to those from which we are made because we are made from the Creator. It is the uniqueness of our design that makes us each so great. And we are each here to add that unique color, that unique quality that is each of us to the great work of art that is in a constant state of becoming, entitled “Life”.

Love is. It does not exist because of what we do, or who we are. Love is unconditional. Many people have found through regressions that they suffer from debilitating illnesses in this life so that they have the opportunity to be taken care of, and to feel love from others who receive nothing in return. It is the only way that their souls can guarantee the experience. If someone loves us and we push them away because the love does not come wrapped in the package that we are expecting, although may they move away – they do not stop loving us.

All of this concern over being loved and being lovable dissolves into itself when we stop worrying about being loved and strive to be love itself. No amount of love, adoration, worship or praise can change how we feel about ourselves when the lights go dim. Most people I know who do not feel loved are really not very loving. Whatever they give to others or do for others has some form of string attached, even if it is a required amount of expressed appreciation. They may not feel that they are measuring, but they can give an extremely accurate account of their expressions of love – for people who are not keeping track. Whatever experiences have closed them down do not matter.

I once thought that we were given love in proportion to the love that we give.  This is not true.  Many people who are too fearful to love are themselves loved unconditionally.  They are given this love so that if at any time they choose to understand what true loving is, they have it available to learn from.  However, it does not matter to these people that they are truly loved, because being loved is not the same as feeling loved.  So, until we are willing to open ourselves to give love – even if the whole world loved us – we would still feel unloved.  Feeling the love that is sometimes all around us is only possible when we give it.

If we want to feel loved we must take the risk of loving unconditionally. And what happens when we do this, is that we forget about what we are not getting because we are overwhelmed with the joy of what we are giving. Then suddenly, out of the blue, we look around and are astounded by the amount of love that is coming to us.

Getting What We Really Want

We usually do not ask the Universe for what we really want.We ask for what we think it looks like, so when we get what we ask for, we are disappointed.

We usually do not ask the Universe for what we really want.We ask for what we think it looks like, so when we get what we ask for, we are disappointed.” Once we have made a commitment we have focused our energies that focus creates a clear direction for the Universeto interpret and help guide us towards.Focus brings clarity.Once our desiresare focused we are clear.Once we are clear our goal is understood and immediately the Universe begins to work. Having this focus means trusting that the Universe will guide our steps, even if it is not where we think it should be. It may not even be where we want it to be.The external world dominates our thinking and we make our plans based upon its rules.The Universe does not act in terms of physical categories, or forms, it acts in terms of the need to be filled on a soul level.

A position may appear before me, or someone may speak to me regarding a particular career and I will decide that it is what I want.This position or career stimulates within me a feeling of satisfaction, or accomplishment.That feeling is why I want that position, and so it is the feeling and not the position that the Universewill bring to me. The position is only the form that I assume will provide the feeling.It is the boxthat I assume contains what it is that I really want. This understanding is critical.

The Universemay not bring me that particular position because in actuality that position was not going to give me what I was really looking for.It is that underlying need, that underlying feeling that Universe will bring me.So when we focus, it must not be merely on the outer appearanceof what we desire, but primarily on the feeling we anticipate that it will fill us with.

The ego is a bag with a hole in the bottom.What is fed through the ego empties into the soul.The problem is that food for the ego is waste for the soul.The ego cannot be satiated, that happens in the soul.Do we want to feel secure, or is it the sense of achievement that we desire? What does our soul receivefrom whatever it is that we are going after?When we see ourselves with whatever it is that we seek, how does it feel?We may seek the physical form of something but it is really the essence that we perceive is contained within that form that we are after.When we are attracted to the physical form what is being drawn to that form is the ego.The ego sees the thing, the person, or the position as a way to satisfy a craving.Yet, when we attain what the ego is attracted to, we are still empty within.When we override the ego and connect with the feeling of it, we are closer to the truth.Truth is what the Universe will at all times bring to our lives.

I may think that I want John, but in fact I want what I imagine being with John will feel like.It may very well be that what I think I will feel with John is not in any way what I would actually feel from him.He may not be who I think he is.I am.However if I focus on what it is that I want to feel, and open myself to any possible way that it may be brought to me, I am in a much better position to have my real needs met.When I am clear on what qualities I am seeking in a mate, even if I am hoping it is John, it will be those qualities that the Universewill provide.If I do not get John that does not mean that I will not get what I am seeking, it only means that what I am seeking is not John.

The Universe is constantly answering our prayers.It is we, who are not really in touch with what we are actually praying for.We may have an idea of the form that we imagine it will come in, but we need to leave the knowledge of the actual form up to the Universe.We need to trust that we will get what we really want.When we obtain what the egoseeks, we temporarily scratch an itch.When we obtain what the soul is seeking, we remove the cause of the itch.If we let go and have faith, we will get the enduringquality that our soul is seeking.

This is a lesson that may take us forever to learn.Very often the Universewill give us exactly what we ask for, and often when that happens we are disappointed because it is never what we thought it would be.The egosees a box, wants the box and gets the box.The soul opens the box to get what is inside and beholds that it is empty.The ego does not look inside.It does not even comprehend the meaning of inside.To satisfy the ego at the expense of the soul is to put a piece of tape on a hole in the dam.It will not hold.The satisfaction of the soul fills the hole with the same materialthat the dam itself is made of.Therefore, there is permanent repair.

What we do not realize is that the Universemay have presented us with exactly what we really wanted many times over, but we didn’t know it because we didn’t like the box.Each time that it appeared before us, we simply passed it by without noticing. Our egowas in the way.The Universe gives us what our ego asks for so that at some point we will begin to realize that the problem is not what we keep getting, but what we keep asking for.

We may be so entrenched in what we expect to see that we miss what is before us.Finally we learn that perhaps we need to look deeper to findwhat we really want and rephrase the request.It is valuable to go inside and dig beneath all of the layers of what we want to find out what we need from it.We need to find the feeling we are seeking.What is the experience meant to satisfy on the deepest level?Once we know what we need to feel, we will be able to focus clearly upon what it is that we want.When we can focus, we will find that we do get exactly what we want. There are as many ways to express love as there are people to express it.

There are certain things that are very difficult to recognize as adults if they were absent in childhood.If we were not given the love that we needed as children by either or both of our parents, we find it almost impossible to recognize love as adults.Love is an invisible energy that is transmitted through even the most trivial action.If you were not loved, you do not understand this.And so, you look to the world outside for almost Shakespearean expressions of love.Loving and grand shows of affection are two different things.A person who was taught to say, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, who was trained as a child to always call home, to always ask about someone’s health and well being is a person who was taught to be polite.My daughter is extremely dramatic.When she was young, she would exhibit dramatic shows of affection.It didn’t even mean that she cared, it just means that she is a drama queen.A person can be impolite, inconsiderate and unemotional and still love deeply.I have known many extremely well mannered people who went through all of the ‘shoulds’ but really didn’t care about anyone.I have known too many people who have gone through life feeling unloved, all the while turning away those who love them because they did not recognize the form that it came in.

These people, desperately seeking love, were attracted to individuals who were natural at presenting a façade of loving or even caring when in fact their actions and words were empty, or self-serving.And it is easy to fall into this because if you don’t know what it feels like – you go after what it looks like.Unfortunately love looks like air, so since we can’t see it, we search for what we normally find containing it, a balloon, so when we think that we have love, often times all we have is a balloon.One of the greatest gifts that I have received is this particular understanding.I have learned that the value of a gift lies in its value to the giver, not to the receiver or to the general public.I know that some people love me because they give me the hardest thing for them to give and that is trust.I know that other people love me because they won’t go away no matter what I do.My father never did one thing that would fit on the list of expressions of love – but I knew that he loved me when he stopped at the Howard Johnsons to have pancakes with me when I went to work with him.

Sometimes getting what we really want requires taking the time to go inside and find out what it is that we want from it.If we do this, we will find that what we want from it may be in it, or it may not be in it at all. Knowing what we need to receive from what we want to achieve will give us a far greater chance at satisfaction.It removes the appetite from being the decision maker so that we may be really nourished. If we can attract to us that which we believe we want, we will cut out a great deal of disappointment and suffering if we are not focused on what we believe that we want but we believe that we want is what we also know that we need.When we know that what we want is a box and what we need is not the box but its content, then we can accept that only God knows which boxis right for us.