THE POWER OF CHOICE

All that we need to be in control of our lives is to know that we have choices. We do not even have to exercise them so long as we own them.


Our lives are not determined by the situations that confront us, but by the choices that we make when confronted. If I am born into a poor family I can accept my lot and make the best of it, I can work hard to overcome it, or I can become a thief, or a drug dealer. We are not victims of the situations that life puts us in, we are victims of the choices that we make within those situations. It is vital to living a full life that we accept this fact.

I knew a woman who began with every advantage and ending up on welfare. I saw my daughter reacting to life in the same way and it worried me. I feared that if my daughter saw through the same lens she might end up same way. My daughter’s response to my fears was, “Don’t worry I won’t end up like her”. That statement had such an impact on me, because I knew that no one decides to destroy their lives. Our lives follow the paths determined by our choices and those choices are made one at a time. When we perceive that a choice we made was not right, we should then try to make a choice that is right for where we are now. Instead, most of us lose sight of where we wanted to be and instead focus our choices on making our initial choice right. Each choice is taking us in one direction or another. If we are not aware that we are making choices, we will not look around for options. The path that my friend was on was not the path that she thought that she had chosen it was the path that she took because she believed she had no other choice.

When we are in a place that is not where we had planned to be, we feel unhappy; either with ourselves or with the circumstances we hold responsible for putting us there. Usually we prefer to believe that it is anything other than our own choices that put us where we are. It is generally a partnership, life presented the choices and we made them. Acknowledging that we made the choices helps us to be more aware of the choices available to us in the future. It helps us to stand back when things seem bleak and see other options, and other ways. If we feel like victims, we react without assessing our possibilities, if there is a turn – we miss it because we are not looking. We continue on the path that has caused us suffering since our initial choice. What we can do is we can choose to dig ourselves out instead of choosing to dig ourselves in deeper.

My childhood was very difficult and I felt that I was a victim. I got involved in drugs, tried to kill myself, and I married for the wrong reasons. I married to escape the pain at home. As victims do, I sought escape from the suffering of my life, rather than a better life altogether. I exited through the only door that I could see simply because I was not aware that there could be others. I was not living in choice. I married the first man who asked. I felt very sorry for myself. Each choice that we make out of a feeling of helplessness places us in a situation that increases our helplessness. All of my limits, fears and pain simply changed form but remained consistent with my belief that I was a victim. I continued to make choices dictated by my perception of the situation rather than dictated by what I wanted, or who I was or where I wanted to be.

One day during therapy the therapist asked me why I chose to take drugs. I came from a town where taking drugs was the accepted means of dealing with our pain. However when I had to explain it as a choice, something changed. I never thought of anything that I had done as a choice; I just did what I believed I had to do. This covered anything, I had to react, I never thought that I could choose to act. Suddenly it dawned on me that I had made a choice and it was one of many choices that I could have made.

When we are children we do not have many obvious choices, we can fight, we can hide but we cannot change our situation. We actually have very little apparent power. Within that context I did not see myself as making choices I simply reacted.

I accept the choices that I made then; I accept my reaction to that environment because I did not see at the time that I had choices. I could never look back and blame myself for walking through a door that seemed to me to be the only one open. It was the door according to my belief system, but not the only one according to who I was and what I really wanted. Victims are always blind to where they are going because they live their lives running from instead of going to. They never plan a future – only an escape. Yet knowing even after the fact that I did have choices gave me the power that I needed to move on. I finally realized that each step along the way in my life I did make a choice for which I alone, not my parents, not my life, and not my situation, was responsible and one hundred percent accountable. I made the only choice that I could see, and that was fine, because a person who owns the power of choice owns his life. A person who makes choices, regardless of the outcome of those choices, is a person with a future to live, a life ahead of them rather than merely an expanding prison cell. I may have made choices that did not turn out as I planned, but those choices were mine. This freed me.

The fact that my life is made up of my choices has given me my wings. Nothing could stop me but I myself, and that was fine. I knew that in my life I may reach many dead ends, but if I built the road that reached them, I could build the road that would take me around them.

We suffer not because of what happens to us in our lives but because of the choices that we make in reaction to what happens. Each moment we live, we are making a choice, and that choice will determine the next experience. There is no choice is our last choice until we take our last breath.

We cannot assess our worth based upon one choice. Rather we must assess ourselves based upon our willingness to accept responsibility for each choice. If we do this, it will drive us to make each choice responsibly. Remember that so long as we have another breath we have another choice. Sometimes we are meant to make what we believe to be the wrong choice so that we can arrive at the right destination. When a situation is painful it is not working. If we cannot find a way to make it work there probably is no way. Here is where we have to make a choice. If we stay that is our choice and if we keep moving that too is our choice. The controlling factor is not the situation it is the choice that we make.

If I want my partner, but only if he or she fits into a certain image that I hold, I really want the image and not the person. I should look elsewhere or change the mold. If I need a job but I will only work under certain conditions, I cannot complain that I cannot get a job. I just have to choose what I want more and follow my choice. It does not matter what we do or do not do, we are making choices. What happens to us is and will always be a result of those choices not ever a result of the reason that we made those choices.

There is a person with one leg who chooses to play tennis and live a full life and joyful life. Then there is the person with one leg who chooses to sit in a room lonely and bitter feeling that life has given him nothing but pain. Both choices are understandable. The former is the choice of one whose choices are founded in a belief in challenges and not limits. The latter is the choice of one whose choices are founded in limits, a victim. Why should we sit and make ourselves miserable over those things that we cannot control? The time that we are wasting, and that pain that we are suffering is due to our choices, and not due to our situations. Difficult and painful things happen in our lives, but how we choose to deal with them will affect our entire lives. When we find ourselves facing an ocean of suffering we can choose to swim through it, facing only the far shore, or drown in it.

It used to anger me when every time I said that I could not do something because it was too hard, or even impossible to accomplish someone else did it. Someone would come along with less going for them than I thought that I had and do what I thought that I couldn’t. But I chose to let that help me grow. I could have said that that person was lucky, I chose to look at that as a sign that it could be done. When I took responsibility for my choices I had to examine their foundation. My choices were founded on my belief that my life held only a lose lose potential. Those who accomplished what I chose not to even attempt chose based on a belief that anything is possible.

I once would have decided that they must have been better or luckier than I. That way of thinking was once a choice that validated my self-pity. Instead I now choose to allow the accomplishments of others to empower me, and to make it more difficult for me to say, “I can’t”. We have to take responsibility for our choices, and embrace our ability to choose.

Some souls have chosen a more difficult road than others, yet however difficult or easy the road may be, we have all come here with everything that we need to reach our own destination. The pot of gold is behind one of the doors. All that we have to do is to find it. And we find it by choosing doors. Life is a treasure hunt, each experience gives us something, a direction, a tool, or a clue to the next door until we have it all.

The key is not to give up if it is not behind door number one. We have to keep in mind that the goal is just to find the treasure not to be right. First we find the treasure and then we know where it is, we do not have anyway of knowing where it is before we find it, so we should not expect that of ourselves. God knows where it is and He will lead us to it so long as we choose to seek it. Life does not force us ever to give up, that is a choice, sometimes it is the wise one, but in any event it still is a choice.

Oneness

Each of us is God and all of us are God, in the sense that we are aspects of Him spread out over all of time and space. When we love ourselves we love God. It is not looking up saying “God I love you, you are perfect.” It is looking in the mirror and saying “God I love you, you are perfect.”

We are special; we are all on a mission to spread love and light. If we can learn to love ourselves completely, each part of our being, then by doing that from within we will automatically love each other. It is by loving and accepting all of our different qualities that we will love and accept all of those souls who represent those qualities around us.

That love will infect the energy of the entire planet and the Universe. This is each person’s individual mission. Understand that love and hate are like air born viruses. They travel through the energy field and infect others. As a virus begins first within an organism, so love and hate each begin first within the individual. I cannot spread something I do not have. I must love or hate myself to spread it into the energy environment.

Hate is simply fear. Love is acceptance as oneness. Love is being whole. We do come from one source. We are all different aspects of All that is, and we each contain every aspect of All that is. As we meet others we are meeting ourselves, like the same piece of the cardboard, just cut into a different shape. It is truly, as above, so below, as within without. If I can only love one person, I still am only accepting those aspects of myself that are represented by that one person. If I cannot love a certain person, and worse, if I hate that person, it is the aspect of myself that is represented by that person that I am not accepting.

We speak of good versus evil, of us versus them – Satan versus God – these are all imaginary divisions. They are not real. If you look to Satan as he appears in the old testament, he is not the enemy of God. If he is the enemy of anyone he is the enemy of man. The impression is that he just thinks that God gives man too much credit. He doesn’t believe that man is capable of loving God as the angels do. So God gives Satan carte blanche as to how he tests mans love of God with one exception – he can’t kill him. Knowing that Satan, being an archangel, is no dummy – he would use the division and distraction to distance man from God and prove his point, that man doesn’t have what it takes to love God. Religion is the first and the best tool to divide and conquer humanity. It makes sense; people are so busy defending their particular religion from other people who are defending their own religion, that God – becomes an afterthought. The focus becomes the bathwater and not God, the baby in it. If we were to overcome all of our other boundaries – race, nationality, economic status, religion will still remain Satan’s trump card. We commit more actions that distance us from our own loving hearts and God, in the name of religion, than even our greed commands.

Remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. We are each links. If we are not individually in love with the totality of our beings, we cannot benefit the whole. I can teach you to understand a concept, even the concept of self-love, but I cannot give it to you or to the energy of the universe until I have it. If we can love ourselves unconditionally – we will see no one as unworthy of our love and embrace the Oneness that we all share.

We are God, in the sense that we are aspects of Him spread out over all of time and space. When we love ourselves we love God. It is not looking up saying “God I love you, you are perfect.” It is looking in the mirror and saying “God I love you, you are perfect.” It is looking at all beings and saying, “God I love you, you are perfect.” When we understand that we need not look to what we cannot see to love God, because we each are a cell in the body of God. We are not born from God; we are each and all forever a part of God.

The “veil,” the “Maya” is what keeps us looking at a liver cell as opposed to a pancreatic cell as opposed to a skin cell when we are all simply and divinely cells of one beautiful body, and our individual work is what keeps the body alive.

We are a part of All that is. This is why there is no death. Even our physical bodies do return to the physical substance from which they came; that is not even dying, it is transforming into something greater than before. When our physical vehicle is no longer of use, we are re-incorporated into spirit. Until we choose to utilize a physical vehicle again.

If we go back to the theory of cells, we can understand that we have an ego, which in its highest sense, is the attachment to our individuality and the experiences we have had throughout our history of incarnation. The Aquarian Age is a time where we do not blend our individuality into the brotherhood of man. We add our individuality to aid the betterment of mankind. It is also about taking that individuality and bringing it into the perfect working of the whole. Just as a liver cell cannot forget it is a liver cell and start functioning as a pancreatic cell. Ideally it should realize that it is a liver cell of the same material and a part of the same whole as the pancreatic cell and without both there would be no body.

Individuality does not mean that we are floating unattached. Individuality means that we have our self, our gift, and our unique identity to contribute to the whole of which we are a part. We are a drop as well as the Ocean. We need each other because we are each other in the greater sense. We need God because we are God.

To say that we are children of God is beautiful and it conjures up a beautiful loving image. Yet it implies that we are separate from God so when we are then told to look within for God, we become confused trying to find something separate but within. My child comes from me, she loves me and I love her, however we are separate physical beings in life and that separateness is what impels her to perfect the gifts that are contributed by her being and knowing her whole self.

My cells and my organs, on the other hand, are a part of me; they bear the same connection to me as we bear to God. I may look at every part of me and say this me in this lifetime. The power and strength of each part of me is at my disposal. So we must incorporate the premise that we are not children of God but parts of the body of God. We do not have to look within to find God, we are God within and without. Not only are we parts of God, but so is everything that exists as far as we can see and as far as there is.

If we can understand this concept and break free of the belief that we are merely creations of God but not God, then we can understand that everything else is connected to and a part of each of us.

God created man in His own image. Perhaps what that is saying is the God created man from His own image, and a soul that is, His own image. Understanding that all that exists is God, as each cell within our bodies are connected to the other and dependent upon the other, and the body upon the whole of all if its cells, so too are we connected to every living organism and in some way, aware of it or not, we are dependent upon each. God is economical. There are no left-over or dispensable parts. Each species, each organism has a purpose, and if we remove one from existence, we will eventually feel the repercussions of its absence.

We cannot pollute the atmosphere without somehow polluting ourselves. We cannot weaken the immune system of the earth without having problems with our own immune systems and the immune systems of every living organism that exists on the planet. Not in just affecting from without, but mirroring the effect within our own organism. We must remember that as above, as below as within as without.
We cannot consider ourselves separate from God nor can we consider ourselves separate from another individual, even if that individual lives thousands of miles away worships in a different church, speaks a different language and has a different color skin. We are all connected by the atmosphere that we all share. We live under the same sky and breathe the same air. We are each connected by air. Everything on earth is made of atoms. How then can we not be connected?

To be a part of something larger than ourselves does not make us less in reality it makes us more. When we look at the night sky and see all of the stars and all of the universes, this should not make us feel small and insignificant; it should make us feel great and limitless. Only the belief that one is great can give one the courage and motivation to do great things.

It is the unseen possibility that turns a journey into an adventure

Whether we believe in a world of fate or a world of free will, we are living in a world of possibilities.It makes no different whether our future is preordained or happens by chance we still have no idea what life has waiting just around the corner.We can’t plan corners only straight paths.Yet sometimes, what we did today lies in wait while something new, something completely unexpected jumps out at us from a hidden space.

Life in the Bronx had settled into consistency.My neighborhood was safe thanks to my mother’s personality.I had friends I had known all of my life.I knew what to expect, the good and the bad.My grandmother came over every Friday and stayed until Sunday.I made it through the week from weekend to weekend.All of my friends were born around the same time and for seven years we grew together.Friendship was not chosen we were born into it.Even though I was not white it did not matter from what I saw in my very small world.My father was not around much so his presence was a cause for celebration, not fighting.For me, life had settled into being as good as it gets.

Along comes the Throgs Neck Bridge!!The State decided to build a bridge and the toll booth would be directly across the street from my house.Everyone I knew had to move – my neighborhood was to be destroyed.For the first of many times, life came out of my blind spot. When I was told that we were moving I felt my insides turn to ice, I could not breathe.I would lose everything I knew.My father wanted to move to Connecticut, but my mother wanted to move to New Jersey and buy a house with my grandmother.She won.

I moved to Orange, NJ.It was a beautiful large house with thirteen rooms.When we arrived the house smelled so wonderful and new.There were shiny new wood floors and a big back yard.My room was so light and airy with a big beautiful canopy bed.Best of all, my grandmother was right upstairs on the third floor.My little sister and I went outside and walked around the block.The children did not come up to us, they just looked at us, as if we were aliens.My mother and grandmother were the only ones seen when the house was purchased, no one was prepared for the little black entourage that would come in after them.We were not welcome.

This bridge erased my life.My father only came home on weekends because the commute was too much.I think that the idea of sharing a house with my grandmother was made the commute even more unbearable.We now lived in a neighborhood where we were not welcome.There were forty children in my neighborhood, none of whom could play with us.There were a few Black families in the neighborhood, but they were tolerated.I was different I was a mixed breed.I was called Zebra, oreo cookie and nigger; parents threw rocks at me.I retreated within myself.Everything pointed to my being defective.

I found ways to cope; I drew an imaginary world of happy people and happy families.Slowly a few children began to come over and play.Before the first summer, my parents felt so sorry for my sister and I that they put in a swimming pool, the only one in the neighborhood except for Dionne Warwick who lived quite a distance from us.Suddenly, most of the children began to come over; their parents gave in so that they could swim during the long hot summer.I learned that prejudice is not a condition it is an obstacle.

Life is unexpected, things jump out at us from the Universe, like bridges that change our lives.We cannot plan for them, we cannot prepare for all of the possibilities.All that we can do is seek the purpose of the new path that we have been placed upon.My life has not been built upon a well thought out plan, but upon a series of unexpected turns, roadblocks, and detours.It has been built on possibilities, those bugaboos that jump out at you from behind the bushes and around the corners that we cannot see.

At no moment have we been misguided, nowhere have mistakes been made, and nothing has ever caused us to be anywhere but where we were destined to be when we were destined to be there. The opportunity is ours to embrace each moment, each day with all of its possibilities.We need to believe that although now is forever, it is a container that holds ever changing ever evolving contents. In as little as five minutes, an entire road may be closed and a totally uncharted one opened.Good, bad, or just plain boring, this is still now and the possibilities are still endless.We may be at a point where we have stopped for a while but we are never at the end.We are always on the road to success.

If we are walking down the street and a wall appears to obstruct our paths, it would not benefit us to stand there and yell at it for appearing.It would only cause unnecessary pain to throw our bodies against it.We need to let go and welcome the visit from God and check to see what His new plan is for us.

Life is experience and symbolism at the same time.Each experience represents something which is a part of our growth.The lessons never change, only the classrooms.A new man or woman enters our lives different face, different body and different voice, yet in a short time we find, much to our amazement that we are in the same relationship that we have been in time and time before.Astrologically nothing in life happens that is not promised within our birth.Our lives are either their fulfillment; or our charts are the imagesof our journeythrough symbols.We should take this even further to the understandingthat when we come into each incarnationwe come with a vehicle.This vehicle is equipped with all that we need to travel and prosper on our journey. All of our possibilitiesare built in.

If we spend the time seeing the lessons, seeing the things that happen and the people that enter our lives we will findthat there are patterns.The archetypal hero has many different challenges to overcome, many labors to endure.By looking within, by examining the lives that we have lived we will see our hero’s journey.One of my lessons is to be like the Buddhic monks who spend hours upon hours creating the most beautiful works of art in sand, only to have them blown away.The lesson of non-attachment has pervaded my life since the day that I was born.I also know that I must work hard for anything that I want and hard work will not guarantee my reward.I have to do for the sake of doing. These are patterns – my patterns.This is a part of the plan of my life.I also know that my life brings me constantly to the edge.If I am to be saved it will be at the 11th hour and so close to the end that only a fool would count on being saved.This too is a pattern.Understanding the patterns in our lives brings us closer to understanding the lessons and therefore reaping the rewards in learning them.

We are born into a family with its beliefs and its accepted boundaries.As we seekour place within that family we utilize those aspects of ourselves that make our fitting in easier. Those aspects of ourselves that do not fit, we put away out of sight, even from ourselves.Each of those aspects is an untapped resource that we have. It is just awaiting the arena to unfold.It is part of a possibility that has not yet become apparent.To expose those hidden parts of ourselves would not permit us to fit within our family structure.Those aspects of ourselves and of our pathsthat we hide from the light surface as dreams, wishes, longings and even doubts. They wait to be awakened by the Universe to fulfill their place in our life plan. The road ahead may seem clear, or paved with obstacles, but that is only its appearance, behind the corners, lie a million possibilities that we cannot even imagine. Tomorrow may be just another day, or the day that changes our entire lives.We cannot see all of the possibilities that are around us.Yet they are the things that life is made up of. They are the building blocks of our moments.

When things go well we don’t care about possibilities, and they go wrong we don’t believe in them.Yet the possibilities are all around us, remaining unaffected by our beliefs.They guide our lives.No matter how carefully we planthe future; it is possibilities that create it.

The journeyof man from cave dweller to space traveler is a journey built on those possibilities. They fuel the adventure. It is not what we expect but what we do not expect that puts the life into living.

1979 was a very bad year for me.It was a year of seeing reality as I had never seen it before.I saw my place in the picture, and the responsibility that I had for being in that place.From where I sat I was living up to my mother’s expectations of failure.My life was not moving forward as were the lives of my friends.My daughter was six years old and I was not prepared for the responsibility.My ex-husband was fighting me over child support and in order to make my suffering greater he was refusing to see our child.I felt alone.Then one day, my boss went through my desk drawer and I felt so invaded that I quit.Honestly, I did not even know that I was going to do it until the words left my lips.Once done, I could not take it back although my boss gave me the opportunity.

I felt as though there were a brick wall in front of my life.I was not equipped to do the things that I needed to do for my daughter.I realized that I was not prepared to be the adult I was supposed to be.I was not prepared to be the mother and provider I was supposed to be.I felt so small and lost.Despair filled me, at 28 I had no options, no doors seemed open to me and a child depended on me for everything.I felt as though I were in quick sand I could neither pull myself out nor stop myself from sinking deeper.

My Grandmother pushed me to go and find a job, another any job.Feeling so frustrated that I had to punish myself; I went out on my birthday to make a fruitless attempt at getting a job fully prepared to come home having found nothing and prove once again my worthlessness.I walked by a Temp Agency and decided to walk in.After I filled out my application and failed the typing test the phone rang.An office in the building needed someone immediately, they needed a body and my poor typing skills were outweighed by their desperation.I had any job.This job changed my entire life.It led to my own business.This temp job allowed me to give my daughter everything that I wanted and to feel that I was not a failure.It was a twist in the road.Not visible from where I stood, a possibility that changed my life. This is how our possibilities I walked into a temporary agency looking for some work for a week or two and my entire life changed.Walking into that door brought me to a road that took me from rags to riches.This is how our possibilities work.”

My niece was a college professor in Iowa.The only person that she was comfortable relating to was her ex-husband.Although divorced, circumstances caused them to maintain their relationship.This environment, in which they both felt very out of place, left them dependent upon each other.She believed that this need for companionship was love.They had nothing in common; she had every reason to divorce him when she did.He finally met someone else and left her in a very deceitful manner, but because she was alone and feeling that there were no options left for happiness she wanted to get him back.Regardless of how I tried to remind her that he was not good for her, she just wanted him.

As the reality of a long summer alone in Iowa approached, she decided to do something that would take her to an environment where she did not feel his presence on every street.She decided to choose between spending a summer in Miami with me or going to Paris and learn French.I convinced her that summer in Florida was not a vacation, and Paris held such rich possibilities. So she applied for a grant and all of the pieces fell into place for her to leave for Paris. For the first few weeks her depression was upstaged by the beauty and excitement of Paris.But after a few weeks the pain returned.She began to feel the hopelessness of believing that her life would remain empty, and she would be a lonely old maid.Everywhere she looked she saw couples laughing, holding hands and filling themselves with the aura of romance that was the city.She became more and more resigned to a life that frankly, for her would not be worth living.

One night an old friend insisted that she come to a party he and his wife were giving.Although she was convinced that it would be another night of watching happy couples sharing what she would never again have, out of a sense of obligation and resignation, she accepted.Suddenly, she had a movie moment; a man appeared in front of her who was everything that she had ever dreamed the perfect man to be.The rest of the people in the room faded into the background and the two came together.It was love at first sight.Within six months she was married and living in Paris.It was a story that she herself would have never believed possible only a month before.She saw no way for anything in her life to change – but change it did.We do not see the steps that pave our destiny, we don’t plan them, we don’t work our plan – God’s plan works us.

Sometimes everything just seems lost, and sometimes we just get tired of looking.Perhaps we just need to rest; or we need to clear our eyes so that we may see what is coming.Whether it is a talent we didn’t know that we had, or an opportunitythat we never thought we could have had; anything is possible at any time.

This means that however hopeless things seem, we should never give up and no matter how good things are we should never get too comfortable.All that we can do is enjoy the ride.


 

We Built A World For Our Egos, Now Let Us Build A Garden For Our Souls

Over the past seven or eight years, with increasing urgency, people have been asking me when things will go back to the way they were; when life will return to normal? We should not seek to once again walk that path that brought us here.  That is recovery.  We need to forge a new path, let us not recover, let us recycle the lessons that we learned from that past and create a New World, one that does not reach to scrape the sky but to touch the heart of Heaven.  Now is our chance to redefine what it means to be a human, and not an animal.

We are at the end of an age, imagine, lets say, one of those plastic bottles of Elmer’s glue that squeezes out. In the beginning, when it comes out it is smooth, tight, solid, dependable, it goes where it’s put, precisely and easily. But as the end draws near it may begin to slow down, requiring more force to get it out, but still, it comes. Once the end is reached, it comes out in jumps, starts, and sprays, it is almost impossible to direct, control, or depend on.

All of us alive today have been born at the end of this era, the Age of Pisces. The twentieth century was a critical century for mankind. The number 19 is a karmic number. It represents the needs of the self (1) versus the needs of humanity (9). This was the essence of the century, it highlighted separation from the whole, whether separation by race, religion, nationality, or economic status, we dealt with the loss of and the fight for human rights (9) throughout the world. We were forced to face our dark side. It first came to light with the Nazi’s and their attempt to annihilate the Jewish people. We have witnessed the Black people both in the United States, South Africa, and other counties being hung, killed, and treated as second-class citizens, we have seen many attempts at racial cleansing throughout this century and watched millions of people being slaughtered in tribal wars, and we have done nothing as Africa dies of AIDS. Nothing has been more open and in our faces than the issue of the rights of the few versus the rights of the whole.

We have been forced to see that there is a gap between the image that we held so proudly of ourselves as civilized beings and the reality of our darkness; we began to perceive our frailty, this has been our first unconscious inklings that perhaps, we could not trust ourselves or, for that matter, even life. It was the first, microscopic fissure in our façade. We began to speed up the pace of our lives: to get more life into a day, and more living into a life. Woman, after working in plants and doing the jobs that were previously held by men, began to feel that they could do more, have more, be more.

A generation of children was born into this atmosphere of dissatisfaction, and confusion. These children absorbed the emotions, existing all around them, into their souls; they observed the shattered image that man had once held with pride. Hidden in the closets were the skeletons of bigotry, hatred, and hypocrisy, which screamed out at them. This was a generation driven by an evolutionary intent to begin the process of exposing what was hidden by questioning the lies that had heretofore been accepted as natural. They came in to begin the dismantling of an age. They brought prejudice out into everyone’s faces to deal with; they insisted on civil rights, and woman’s rights. They demanded a world in which their parents had only pretended to live.

Aware that their parent’s generation had stood idly by, while Hitler massacred millions; made them commit to not just standing by and watching. They fought, peacefully, and violently, they lived hard and many died young: they were driven. Yet, it was also a generation whose strength was its numbers; that Vietnam thinned out badly, and whose weakness was its youth and its idealism. It made an enormous difference, but what it didn’t do, what it couldn’t do, was reach its goal; it could not create a beautiful world. It couldn’t do it because it ran up against a green wall of money and power. It believed that it knew the enemy, and the enemy was in front of it and had the power. So, it decided to regroup, go into the world to obtain the power from the enemy and change the world. Unfortunately, It did not know that idealism does not die, it transforms into cynicism. And when we get the power we become the enemy because the enemy does not have the power, the enemy is the power.

We, unknowingly, took the last step towards becoming the enemy…we turned our eyes to the power we needed to obtain our goals and through the power — lost sight of them. Power easily becomes Force. It is the ring in Lord of the Rings, and only those without desires can wear the ring, wield the power without being devoured by it. Our goals were full of God, but, when we turned to power and money, we became distanced from God. The light of God is a soft and eternally burning flame but the lights of the material world are like the lights of New York City at night. The man made lights are blinding, and make it harder to see the other lights, until they finally go out, by whatever means they go out — and they go out quickly; or they burn us out quickly.

The big lights are hungry, and greedy, they draw us in like moths to a flame, and so the closer we get, the more we want them, we become addicted until we overdose. The lights have become both stronger and stronger while the soft flame both harder and harder to find. Many of us joined the quest to put the ring where no one could find it. Few of us emerged untouched by the lure of the darkness that shines like neon lights. And by the time 1994 came along, we saw on television one million men women and children being brutally slaughtered in Rwanda, just as our parents had known about the Nazis and just as our parents turned a blind eye to the Nazis, we turned a blind eye to Rwanda…again, we did nothing. Since then, we have watched repeatedly as outbreaks of brutality and genocide have swept the world. As they might say in Star Wars, “The Dark Side is strong in humankind.”

Imagine being God. You have a garden that you created with love…into that garden you put the children who are the most precious to you. You provide them with everything they could possibly need. But they see something perhaps brighter and shinier than everything else and they turn away from what you offer them — and go to all that glitters. It is that old tree in the Garden all over again. We constantly create new kinds of shiny golden calves. Generation after generation of men and women are seduced, we bite the shiny apple, we worship the shiny statue while God looks on and sees His once beautiful garden all cut up, five of His children have ninety-five percent of the world locked up behind huge walls, while the other ninety-five of his children starve outside.

This is not the first time that He has watched us do this. The weak and oppressed unite to defeat the strong, then they in turn become the strong and oppress the weak; after the oppression becomes too much, again the weak unite and again the cycle starts over. The next step is that the stronger of those on the outside of the wall storm it and seize the resources…with the intention of sharing them among all, and then they decide to hoard rather than to share and then rebuild the walls once again; the persecuted becomes the persecutor they once defeated.

Part of our divine impulse is to create, it is inborn — if we cannot create we cannot survive. Yet, we are continuously being devoured by our creations because we keep falling in love with them. Or, we become so enamored with our own greatness that, reminiscent of Narcissus, we keep falling into our reflections and drowning. And in the image of Adam and Eve, we keep biting the apple. It is part of our nature and most of us sadly have been unable to rise above it.

The story of man’s birth, man’s temptation, man’s heroic effort to overcome, and defeat that temptation and his ultimate failure in doing so, leading to man’s final destruction by his own hand or because of his inflated belief in his own powers is his archetypal theme or perhaps it is a warning that has gone eternally unheeded, although it has been told in thousands of different ways from myths, to legends, to fairytales for thousands, maybe millions, of years. It has been repeated through the history of every mythological or historic civilization that has ever risen out of the hopes and dreams of the masses, and ultimately fallen tempted by the intoxication of power. Are we creating a new version of an old and repeated theme or are we writing a new one? Will we go down in history as the inhabitants of the lost Empire of America with legends told for generations of how we became too engrossed in our own power and destroyed ourselves? Or will we, through our actions, finally do something no other people have ever done; and bring the peace, that we have only dreamt of, to the world? Are we past the point of miracles?

The gift in this whole thing is that the story really never ends. It is a story that we are meant to relive, meant to recreate until we see, until we learn, that the ending is always the same. I believe that a large number of the souls here now, are the souls who have been in this school since Atlantis, some are here because they hadn’t learned the lesson at that time, others are here to help teach the lesson, and everyday new souls are entering who will be a part of the building process for the New Age. We are in that period of wandering in the desert, being tempted – tempted by power, tempted by money, and tempted by desire. At these times, like the Hebrews in the desert, Jesus in the wilderness and Buddha under the Bodhi tree we are tested, not to see if we deserve to enter the promised land, but to see if we are ready – if we have become the energy of love, unattached to the trappings of the world, or, if we still cling to the false gods of more money and more power and bigger and shinier things to own.

For that which guides them, the fire, will give them an illusion of truth, and will shine on them with a perishable beauty, and it will imprison them in a dark sweetness and captivate them with fragrant pleasure. And it will blind them with insatiable lust and burn their souls and become for them like a stake stuck in their heart which they can never dislodge. And like a bit in the mouth, it leads them according to its own desire. And it has fettered them with its chains and bound all their limbs with the bitterness of the bondage of lust for those visible things that will decay and change and swerve by impulse.” Jesus, ‘Book of Thomas the Contender’

Yet, it is all done with love, there is no judgment for not being ready. We just come back, and try again. We come back until we value only that which is worthy of value. This is the planet of choice, and we must choose whether we are rich or poor, healthy or ill, Black, White, Brown, Red, or Yellow. We all choose, love or hate, heal or harm, save or kill, or hold on or give away. It really is a matter of, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” These bodies are symbols of our journey, everything is just a symbol created for our journey, so spiritually, it is better to add up how much we are still holding on to, than it is to measure how much we give. What we give to others, to the world, we give to God, what we hold onto, well…let’s just say, that it is what we keep from God. The more we give to God, the more joy and contentment we receive from God.

The painting is by Paul Hampton Crockett

First We Believe the World To Be A Certain Way And Then Our Belief Creates A Perception That Proves It Right

There is no such thing as a fact; all that exists is a perception. Even a fact would be irrelevant in one’s life it one did not perceive it as such.

How we perceive a situation determines a different reaction and each reaction creates a different outcome. A perception can ruin our lives, and allow opportunities to pass us by. Another can take us to incredible new possibilities. No one remembers how many times we fall only how many times we rise. If we perceive ourselves as being victims we will be victimized.

Lets us say that there is, in fact, an objective reality. It would make very little difference unless it was somehow able to pierce through all subjective realities because our actions are subjectively driven. Let’s say that two people are dating and one is very jealous. The other partner goes to luncheon interview with a man in a position to offer a great employment opportunity, the opportunity of a lifetime. The lunch meeting is in a restaurant that is within a hotel. The jealous lover happens to see the two of them enter the hotel lobby, of course they are heading to the restaurant, but that is not what the jealous partner sees. The jealous partner waits outside for them to exit, and attacks the potential employer. The relationship ends and the jealous lover believes that his partner cheated on him. A person goes to a job interview and the man doing the interview has had a very difficult day, he just caught his lover cheating on him (so he believes) the first applicant enters the office and immediately assumes that the expression on the interviewer’s face means that he took an immediate dislike to him and doesn’t even attempt to sell himself because he believes that he lost the position as soon as he walked in the door. The next applicant, seeing the expression of the interviewer’s face decides to take his obvious mood as a challenge and begins his interview asking concerned questions about the interviewer’s day. Because this applicant did not perceive the interviewer’s expression as a reflection of his qualifications, he handled to interview in a way that landed him the position.

Only the Universe knows all of the facts. All that we will ever know is what we perceive to be the facts and even that perception is subject to change along with all other perceptions. Our perceptions will determine our actions or reactions to any given situation. Things appear the way the majority believes them to be. The truth, as we know it, is not based on reality it is based on consensus. An observation is relative to the perception of the observer.

Every opportunity in life is open to you if you perceive it as your opportunity. If you perceive a wall to be a dead end, you will turn back and allow it to prevent your passage. If you perceive it merely as an obstacle you will get a ladder and climb over it. Regardless of what situation you are in, there are those who will perceive it as better than theirs and those who will perceive it as worse. There will be those who perceive a situation as a beginning and those who perceive it as an end. If we want to change our lives we have to change our perception of them.

There is a story about a man who had two sons. One son was always happy one was never happy. So the father decided one Christmas to give the son who was never happy every possible toy imaginable. The other son he gave nothing but horse manure. When he went into the room of the son who was never happy, he found the boy sitting on the floor looking very sad. When he asked why the boy said that with so many toys there would never be enough room to play. When he went into the room of the son with the horse manure, he found the boy smiling and singing with a shovel in his hand just shoveling away. When the father asked his son why he was so happy he said, “With all of this manure there must to be a pony.”

People, who are truly happy, seem to illuminate peace. We may find that they have nothing more to be happy about than we have. On the surface it may seem that they have even less. Sometimes it may seem to us that they live in a fool’s paradise, but how foolish can one be who lives in paradise? I have had many losses and disappointments in my life. I have a friend who was constantly telling me that I am lucky. I believed that she was saying that because somehow she chose not to acknowledge all of the obstacles that I had to overcome. But finally she explained to me that she saw me as lucky because I faced each obstacle as an opportunity and so I was able to flow with life without so much suffering. I always said that if this is where I am, it is where I am meant to be, and there is something here for me to receive.

Those of us who amass large sums of money, huge holdings in real estate, diamonds, furs, cars, all of the emblems of wealth and or fame, do so because they perceive a world in which ones value is based upon these things, without them one is nobody, worthless. Living in this perceived reality is an enormous amount of work, because one always needs more just be remain good enough because in the material world, that bar is constantly rising, today’s penthouse is tomorrows basement, and so today’s person of worth is tomorrows worthless person. This is why we do not own what we have, but what we have owns us, so long as we believe that it in any way defines us.

Regardless of what anyone says, a conscious person, in a world of suffering caused primarily because of poverty. The only reason for a person with even a modicum of compassion to cling to wealth is because it holds his identity. Today, having so much more than we need while so many have so much less than they need to survive is like walking around with a fur coat made of pelts that are still dripping blood. Only the loss of identity – which could seem like the loss of our own lives, could allow us this caveat to perceiving the suffering around us. We are able to justify even to ourselves, whatever we do or do not do, based upon the need of our egos to feel safe. And if the ego believes that wealth and power are all that keeps it safe, that perception will allow us to justify what we could never justify directly to our souls. This is the same as the man before could not just beat up a man and leave the woman who turned his world, unless, his perception justified his actions.

We move through the physical world, but we live in a world of perception. One person perceives himself or herself as poor because that person has only one bathroom. Someone else perceives that same person as rich because he or she actually has a bathroom in their home instead of an outhouse. Someone else perceives the person with the outhouse as rich because instead of an outhouse he only has a hole in the ground.

We cannot change our lives until we know exactly how we perceive them. Changing our physical world will do nothing for us because the physical world is only the backdrop against which we live our lives. Our story as well as our history is played out within our perceptions. Once we truly understand how we perceive our world we will automatically understand that there are also other ways. Each way of perceiving any situation or any experience has its own unique set of possibilities and choices.

Happy people see beauty in things that unhappy people don’t see. It is not because they would not see them as beautiful. It is because they do not see them at all. Happy people find what the Buddhist call, “the bless in the mess”. They do not notice what is lost they notice what is found. I remember a job I had that made my life so miserable that I quit. Having no job my grandmother made my home life so uncomfortable that I went out to look for a job on my birthday. Thanks to that first job ending and my grandmothers nagging, my next job lead to my eventually starting my own business making close to one million dollars a year.

I quit my job without thinking I did not take the time to feel sorry for myself. I did not allow myself the time to engage in a long period of self-pity or self-destructive behavior. I did not see the loss of my job as the end so I did not miss that opportunity. But I have to add that opportunity is a train that runs twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. It may take determination to find the station, but the only way we miss it is if we perceive it as non-existent if it is not where we expect it to be.

Christ said, Jesus said, “Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]” (Gospel of Thomas)

We can’t change what is, but since what is has probably never been seen by the human eye, all that we have to do is change what we perceive it to be and we will change the path that lay before us, obstacles become challenges, and we no longer seek until we quit, we seek until we find. Life is a series of experiences, and whether our lives we wonderful adventures, or tortuous hell is only a matter of perception, it is a matter, not of life itself but of our experience of it. What we see, determines how we respond, and how we respond determines our life’s experience.

IS FREE WILL AN ILLUSION?

One of the phrases that we hear and say a great deal in metaphysical circles in “This is all an illusion”. Although it sounds good, it is not something that we are able to really incorporate into our consciousness because it is so fundamentally opposed to our experience. And though we may be temporarily soothed by the idea of it, the feeling vanishes the moment we bump into a part of that illusion, like a wall, and get a concussion on another part of the illusion – our heads. For most of us the idea that our experience is “all an illusion” is filed away somewhere with God, another idea that, for most of us, is firmly implanted in our belief system but very much disconnected from the reality of our daily lives.

If this is an illusion, why does it hurt so much or feel so real? Why can’t we just affirm it away? In a movie, which is for all intents and purposes an illusion, when one of the characters – another illusion is shot by a bullet – another illusion, the character dies – another illusion. There are two layers here. There is the layer of the actors or the soul who is assuming the role of the character – the illusion who dies. Within the movie, nothing is an illusion. When the actor – the soul – steps out of the movie, or the life in our case, it was all an illusion. A good actor will feel the pain of the character; he will feel the joy of the character which is what makes his performance believable. A good actor is very sensitive, just as a soul is. When the actor leaves the role, he has to re-enter his own life – his own role in the greater movie that is life. This reorientation often takes time. When a soul leaves a life, that soul too has to re-enter its essence, after absorbing all of the experiences of the life that it has just left. A character in a movie or in a play follows a plot, acts or reacts in a way written by someone else. So, in order to react naturally the actor must inhabit the part. We souls inhabit our personalities and so we are able to act and react according to the character that we come to play.

An actor becomes the character, so convincingly. that we are able to anticipate what he will do or say next because we believe him. We may know that the actor is acting and that the words have been written by someone else, the cues given by someone else, yet we feel and experience what the characters are going through. Although the choices that each character is making have been predetermined by the writer, we know that those are the choices that this character would make. Even when the character surprises us, if the actor did his job and writer did his, we can review the movie and see how this unexpected action could have been predicted. This is free will. These characters are predictable because we understand how they are motivated. Yet, does our ability to predict their choices deny the freedom of their choices? No, they are free to choose. What is predetermined is the point from which they view the world at the time that God or the Universe places the choice on their path. How often do we say, “I did that based on what I knew then”, or “If I only knew then what I know now”, or, “The person I am today would never have done that”.

Imagine being in a room, facing a wall and from your position, you can see the wall in front of you and from your peripheral vision you can make out the walls on each side, right and left of your position. But from where you stand, there is no door. Now, the position that you are in places you on a wheel, like a clock gear, that will slowly turn you around. However, right now you only see walls. You are facing twelve o’clock. There is a door at the six o’clock position, but you won’t see it for six hours. Now a voice enters the room and says, “You are free to go”. Is it an illusion that you are free to go? No, there is a door. But from where you stand, there is none. In a story, the character has free will and, we can anticipate that characters actions. We have free will, and our choices are predetermined. They are predetermined because our visibility of available options is really limited to one, at the time that the Universe presents the choice. There may be ten puzzle pieces lined up before us to choose from, yet, the experiences, the beliefs, the impressions of the world that we have accumulated up to that moment sees only one perfect fit. Because there is only one, it is the one that our soul has chosen to best experience the lessons we need to learn.
We have to remember that we come here to learn and to grow. In order to do this, we have to set up a lesson plan.

Our lessons do not only come from where the choice leads us on our path, but also from which choice we make, and how we arrived at that choice. We are here to expand our view, and to learn to see from our hearts. Most actors take roles for a purpose. Many take roles which allow them to stretch, to grow. Free will is not an illusion, but in a way, the choices we make are. They are the lessons; they are the set-up for our growth. They create the plot within which the actor acts. As we learn from each choice, our view expands; our abilities grow until we are in tune with our hearts. When we are in tune with our hearts – we are in tune with our souls. When the soul has mastered the personality, its view is no longer limited. It then sees through the eyes of the creator of the path. The dreamer has mastered the dream, so it is no longer a dream; the actor now writes his part, so he is no longer limited by the existing plot. Illusion vanished and all that is left is one Will in tune with All-That-Is. To enlighten is to light the path so one may see the way. It really has never been a question of whether or not we have free will, the question is, how much we really see of what our free will is acting upon. This is where growth lies.