Relationships and Irreconcilable Differences

Irreconcilable differences begin to accrue as soon as a person forgets that being entrusted with someone’s trust, love, self-esteem, growth, and happiness is a privilege and not a birthright.It is a precious gift to love and be loved.

Once we give something a name, we have given it a definition.Once we have defined it, it no longer has room to grow.What we call a relationship and what we call marriage must grow to meet who we have evolved into.When my first husband and I returned home from our marriage I did not recognize him.He had become a ‘husband’, which bore no resemblance to the man that I had been engaged to.I, on the other hand, did not know how to become a ‘wife’.And, I have to add that the husband he became was his father, a man that I would never have married.So even if I had known how to become a wife, I would have had to become his mother to make the institution function.We did not form a relationship, we entered an institution with strictly defined roles, at least, the ones that worked for my husband.

When two people enter into a committed relationship they create an extension of themselves, a midpoint where they unite. So, the relationship is not a thing, or an institution as marriage is called, but a place where lovers join, share, love and grow together. It is the third entity. It is the form of the bond through which their love flows, through which they share themselves and experience each others growth from that sharing and that bonding. This does not describe most relationships and it does not describe most marriages. The reason begins in childhood.

Children have their first and most important lessons in relationships in their family homes. They learn by watching their parents with each other, they learn by watching their parents with themselves and their siblings, and they learn through their interaction with their siblings. One of the first challenges that we are faced with when we enter into an adult relationship is that it is destructible. The relationship with our parents and siblings is indestructible, for better or for worse – they are always there. Even if we run away, they are still always there till death do we part. The relationship between parents and children is the only relationship that is relatively certain to be till death. Yet, somewhere in our subconscious minds we form, and act based upon a belief that a few words repeated before an official creates the same unbreakable bond. It does not and it has not for a very long time.

Divorce statistics show that eighty percent of marriages that end in divorce do so because of irreconcilable differences. Any relationship, including marriage will last as long as the needs of those involved are being met. This makes sense, but understanding those needs, grasping the importance of those needs and realizing how the survival of a marriage can hinge on the smallest thing is a little more difficult. This is because the smallest slight, or cruel word said in a fight never leaves the relationship. It never leaves the memory of the one who was slighted – never – ever, no matter what the person says. Put a person under hypnosis and you will find that throughout that person’s entire life there was not a leaf that blew by that is not remembered. We are, for better or for worse, memory keepers. No one knows for sure where all of the memories go, but what is a fact is that if the incident is repeated, the original one flies out to meet it and grow.

They say God is in the details, well, a relationship is strengthened or weakened by the details, the little tiny details and sometimes no one is aware of its condition until it snaps. One partner says, “What did I do”, the other partner says, “I don’t know, just a lot of things”. It is just a lot of little things. So many people think that the work ends when you say “I do”. This may be when we stop working, but it is also the time when the things that must be worked on begin to accumulate.

From the beginning of any relationship, we need to understand that if we have, ‘fallen in love’, then we are under the influence of a heavy intoxicant, maybe the heaviest.We are not in our right minds.The more that we struggle to see beyond our need for the next fix of the other person’s energy, the better chance we have at success.Clarity is the most important thing in having a successful relationship, make your needs clear – especially to yourself.My hand is a zillion times more mine than my husband will ever be.When it comes to another human being, we can’t take the word ‘mine’ too literally.No one abandons a relationship that makes them happy.No one cheats on a relationship that fulfils his or her needs.No one can be held down, held back, or controlled indefinitely.The only way to guarantee that the one you love is going to be there is to seek to make that person feel important, appreciated, loved, and most of all respected.

There are always two complete individuals and the relationship.The part of you that enters the relationship is the part of you who thinks first of the other – first my love, then us, then me.If you do this there will be times when you sacrifice what you want for your partner, but there will be equal times when your partner does the same for you.You don’t need to be in a relationship to worry about yourself, you can do that alone.

Forget about being right and never even consider winning. In a relationship if one person wins the fight, both lose the war. Sometimes we want our partners to think the same way as we do about everything. Only, if they really begin to do that we begin to feel that the person we fell in love with has been possessed by a member of the Stepford community. And sometimes if they don’t, we fear that we will lose our partner to someone who thinks the way that he or she does. If you are on opposing sides of an issue, respect the other’s right to see things from a different perspective than yours. If you have left your ego, and your baggage outside, an explanation, or saying, “These are the reasons that I feel this way…” may or may not convert the other person, but at least that person will have an understanding of why your beliefs are what they are and understanding in itself should make honoring your right to your beliefs easier.

Some beliefs, often religious or political are never going to become one.However, they are deeply charged with emotion and should not be criticized, discussed perhaps, but never critically.If there are little things that your partner needs that to you seem ridiculous – honor them.You will have you own share of ridiculous needs to be honored.

At some point in a relationship we realize that we do not want to continue without the other person. Not too long after that we have our first fight and realize that this unbelievable, one of a kind, made in heaven relationship is not indestructible. This causes that monster fear to raise its head. We become possessive, and jealous. At which point we remarkably do everything possible to alienate the person that we feel we can’t live without. We forget the most important thing, for some reason that can be articulated, this other person decided that he or she wanted to commit to us. What is important here is that whatever made that person, come to that decision was something about who we were, and what we did. It was never a specific thing, it was a mode of behavior, a way of being – what comes from the heart that beats inside of us. If you love someone and want to keep that person by your side till death do you part, be who you were when that person fell in love with you, and even more, when that person chose you to commit to.

We want to go to heaven but we don’t want to die.We want a guarantee that our partner will never leave us, but we don’t want to do the work to make them stay.If you are not sure as to what you should do, or if you have been fighting for so long that you have forgotten, ask your partner this, “What was it that made you want to spend your life with me?”“What can I do to make you want a life with me as badly as you did in the beginning?”This is not asking who else you should become, or, who else you should act like, it is asking what part of who you are that you have not been lately, or you could be more of.

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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.

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
 

The Value of Man

“And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the multitude were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. And calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.’” (Mark 12:41-44)

In the transitory material world, the value of a man or woman is based upon how much he has amassed. Yet, in the Spiritual World, the value of a man is based upon how much of what he has amassed, he has given to those in need. We are all here to contribute what we have, and who we are. What is expected of us is dependent upon the level of evolution of our souls. A young soul is here to contribute to building of material structure. Young souls translate the spiritual concepts into material form. They immerse themselves in the material world, without them, and all of their apparent superficiality there would be no material world from which the spiritual may emerge. All life is symbolic. A caterpillar represents the soul. The cocoon symbolically represents the material world and the ego. The young soul dissolves into ‘both’ while here on the earth. Remember the cocoon is hard, and it is dark. The caterpillar is lost to itself inside of the cocoon, however, for a time in the beginning it is also safe.

Without knowing why, the young soul is drawn to the material world so opposite from its spiritual origin. Just as the caterpillar is compelled to leave the world of the familiar to create and enter the cocoon. They build the ego structure. The young soul learns to depend upon the material world and all that it has to offer. It learns to be greedy, lustful, and all of those non-spiritual drives that form the walls of the ego structure. Once the young soul has mastered the material world, the ego has no more to learn and so it has no more to give to the soul. The cocoon is complete. Now the soul, once enclosed by the ego must consume the knowledge of the ego and transform the material back into the spiritual and the ego back into the soul. At which point, it becomes a butterfly free of the world. As the young soul begins to find it is no longer nourished by the world as it had once been, it seeks that which is higher than the world. On this part of the journey the soul seeks spiritual nourishment, and still guided by the ego, it seeks this in the world that it knows, the world outside of the self. Thus, it sees God outside of itself. It only does what it knows to do. It recreates spirit in form. It worships God in the image of man, a superman – but still with the feelings and emotions of man, of a father creator. It has not yet seen the world for what it is, but it knows that it needs something more than it sees, or at least above the world that it sees. In order, to reach the God that is above the world it creates religion as a stairway up to that God.

As the process continues, the soul becomes immersed in emotional situations desperately seeking fulfillment of the need to merge, to fully feel at one with something that it does not yet understand. Severed from the ability to identify and merge with the things of the world, it now hungers to identify as one with another. Through the pain and suffering of this part of the journey the soul matures. It begins to find that nothing and no one can satisfy its ‘hunger’ or its ‘emptiness’. Nothing outside of itself can reach into the emptiness within itself and fill the growing void. Again the soul seeks God, but now it can no longer be a God that ‘communicates’ from without nor ‘dictates rules’ from without nor ‘has a home’ without. It must find God within – hear the voice from within and become filled from within. Now the soul finds itself betrayed by the world, betrayed by its things unable to find another soul who can fulfill its expectations and nonetheless, forsaken by its religion. Then, certain of God, certain that what it needs can be found, the mature soul begins to change the direction of its quest from without to within.

Finding less and less value in what it posses, it begins to give. The more that it gives, the better it feels. Without knowing it, the soul has begun the process of turning form into spirit – material into spiritual – and as it does this it finds itself nourished and ‘made full’ in a way that it could never have imagined. The mature soul begins to see beauty, miracles and perfection in the spirit of the world and the spirit of each living spirit on it. And so it releases its attachment to having, and to holding and finds its only joy in giving and sharing. Miraculously, the love, respect, self-worth and value that the soul has spent lifetimes seeking in the world are found in an ever-flowing Source – the God Self within. Diamonds are hidden within coal. The greatest joy in the world is hidden within our fear. Why do we not give more? It is because we fear not having enough.

Once I had a job where I worked very hard. I did my job and my manager’s job. When it came time for the end of the year review, the person in charge of giving out the raises gave me a $2000.00 a year raise and gave him a $5000.00 a year raise. When I complained, he told me that although looking at the amounts it seemed that his raise was greater than mine, if I looked at the percentage increase in his income compared to the percentage increase in my income I would see that my work had been given much greater value. At first, I thought it was a really good line. However later I realized that it was true in everything. In the marketplace, money is money, and one hundred dollars does not buy as much as one-thousand. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. However, when it comes to giving, the value lies not in the face value of the gift, but in how much of what you have to give, you want to give to a person – or to the world.

We live with God within us: we are of God. When we give, to whomever we give, we are expressing how much we care – how much of ourselves have merged with our Spirit and how much of ourselves are yet with the world. That amount has no figure on it, there is no great sum that shows how giving and loving a person is, there is only a great percentage of what we have. If a person has only a penny and selflessly gives that penny, it becomes a mustard seed and grows not only in the works it performs but in the heart and soul of the person who gave it. If a person has a million dollars and gives one thousand to others, the gift will supply its market value and little more. It has little spiritual energy, and it will end up taking more from the giver than it gives. When you give all that you can to those in need, you will be given more than you can contain in love and self-worth.

Contrary to all of your fears, what you give is returned to you ten-fold because you gave beyond what your ‘worldly self’ could release, and you placed your God before the world. No one ever needs to know what you did, nor does anyone need to praise what you did, because the praise flows from within and the gift grows nurtured by Spirit as do you. Here is a true story:
A sobbing little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it was “too crowded.”

“I can’t go to Sunday School,” she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by.

Seeing her shabby, unkempt appearance, the pastor guessed the reason and, taking her by the hand, took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday school class.

The child was so happy that they found room for her, and she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship Jesus.

Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings. Her parents called for the kindhearted pastor who had befriended their daughter to handle the final arrangements.

As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled red purse was found which seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump.

Inside was found 57 cents and a note, scribbled in childish handwriting, which read: “This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday School.” For two years she had saved for this offering of love.

When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do. Carrying this note and the cracked, red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion.

He challenged his deacons to get busy and raise enough money for the larger building.

But the story does not end there…

A newspaper learned of the story and published. It was read by a wealthy realtor who offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands.

When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered to sell it to the little church for 57 cents.

Church members made large donations. Checks came from far and wide. Within five years the little girl’s gift had increased to $250,000.00-a huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century). Her unselfish love had paid large dividends.

When you are in the city of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 3,300.

And be sure to visit Temple University, where thousands of students are educated.

Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday School building which houses hundreds of beautiful children, built so that no child in the area will ever need to be left outside during Sunday school time.

In one of the rooms of this building may be seen the picture of the sweet face of the little girl whose 57 cents, so sacrificially saved, made such remarkable history. Alongside of it is a portrait of her kind pastor, Dr. Russel H. Conwell, author of the book, “Acres of Diamonds”.

As a soul matures, it finds that all that it clings to and becomes addicted to, in the world, only makes it emptier and hungrier. The emptiness and hunger is only satisfied by letting go, and giving. This turns matter into spirit. It turns what is transitory into what is permanent. The soul learns that only by emptying can it become filled, only by giving can it receive. Then happiness is replaced by joy and the journey to find self-esteem and self-worth finally ends.

Changing our Concept of Good and Evil

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We have evolved in many ways since the days when the major religions were founded. We live in a world that is now explainable in ways that our ancestors could never have understood. We no longer fear the darkening of the sun, because we understand the science of eclipses. Religion used the mysteries of nature to prove their validity. Now, we understand the forces of nature and although we cannot control them, they are no longer a mystery. It is a different world. We have evolved by leaps and bounds intellectually, now in order for us to continue to live on and be sustained by the earth that we have come to understand scientifically, we must evolve, we must mature spiritually and “put away childish things”. We have access to great Spiritual knowledge; we must make the spiritual leap.

Before we can understand good and evil, we must be able to stand mentally and emotionally firmly in the understanding that we are not these bodies or these lives, we are souls experiencing these bodies and these lives for a great purpose. We are energy and energy seeks to expand, we are the stuff that God is made of, and as we expand so does God. Thinking logically, the earth is not the only game in town. Ours is not the only dimension in town, and we are far from the only intelligent species in town. I believe that the earth is a unique school, one in which a soul can study the most diversified subjects and master the most diversified abilities. We are all creators, this is part of expansion, and the earth provides so many different mediums to learn to create within. There is the earth itself, there is the body, the emotions, the intellect, so many areas to perfect, and so many opportunities to grow.
Then there are those difficult courses, such as overcoming temptation, overcoming greed, selfishness, fear, hatred, prejudice – what we call the seven deadly sins are actually the seven challenges that we must overcome in order to graduate from this cycle. This is a very difficult topic because it seems to easy to declare one person evil and one person good, one act evil and one act good, but spiritually there just is no evil.

To say that a lie is evil causes most of us to immediately put up a defensive wall, against hearing anything else. The ego becomes angry and prepared for this attack on its goodness. Yet, this is not meant as a judgment of goodness. It is mean to help us to question our concept of evil.

In a belief built world, good and evil are concepts that arise out of perception. When we life in Maya, illusion, we are already living in a world built in the sky so to speak. Like those castles so readily attributed to neurotics. But what grounds that illusion, what connects it with God is the heart. The heart is where we find the doorway to God. So we can say that what we believe in our hearts, whatever we believe to be the truth, is as good as it gets.

The illusion, the Maya into which we are born is ultimately created by God for the purpose of teaching the soul its own value, its own essence which is God. Man once understood this and so created initiations for the purpose of changing the boy into the man, the boy into the warrior, or the shaman. The boy at a certain age would be sent away from the tribe to some place where he was totally unfamiliar, a place that was wrought with peril so that he could confront the many challenges that would force him to reach deeper and deeper within his being until he was in contact with the source of his power, God, which would then guide him through the dangers. He would then be led back home changed, clear, the illusions of childhood replaced with the knowledge of the true self. Just like Jesus truly became the Christ not merely at the baptism but when he went away for those forty days to confront his last temptation.

This is symbolic of mans time on earth. We must confront the ego which controls our little minds, with its wiles, its rationalizations, it justifications, its cunning and its judgments, which are, in fact, all different types of lies.

Evil is merely an illusion created in the mind of man. It is only “bad” because it takes us further away from our Source, which is connected to the heart. Good is anything that is truth, which originates from the heart and leads us to our Source. Look at it this way, if take one letter, the “o” out of good, you have God, they are connected. If you take one letter the “v” out of evil, you have lie they too are connected. Anything that is a lie, is not good, not of the heart.

When we hear the word evil we immediately seem some red horned figure, or some darkly cloaked sinister shadow lurking somewhere in a corner. Evil is in merely that which points us away from the truth which is that path to God. It is a sign that has been turned in the wrong direction, intentionally, for whatever reason. It is ultimately not in the best interest of anyone if it is away from God.

Am I saying that understanding this will put an end to conflict…an end to war? No, I am not. In a world that is built on a foundation of illusion, which is inhabited by souls who are all on different levels of evolutionary progress, there are bound to be different truths. Those truths will be defended or not based upon the age of the soul, its understanding and its inherent nature. But while the ego seeks domination and adherence at all costs to its beliefs, the heart seeks understanding and acceptance. What I am saying is that coming from the heart, living in truth, even if it is a very personal truth, will put an end to weapons of mass destruction. The heart, every heart, contains the essence of God, and even within the illusion the heart can never justify the death of one innocent being as “acceptable collateral damage”.

The ends do not justify the means in the heart only in the mind. And so a man or woman might very well see that the only way to defend what he or she believes in their hearts is to defend it with their lives. But, at no time will the heart defend its truth with someone else’s life. A noble battle is fought with honor by the one whose belief is being defended. Jesus did not send anyone else to the cross for him. And so, although we will not end conflict by coming from our hearts, we will end dishonor, and find our way to God. We will all emerge from the wilderness with the heart of a true warrior.

Enlightenment is Living in the Love of The Light

Sometimes I anger myself because I can read something a hundred times and still not be able to really feel that I understand what I have read. I finally realized that the harder I try to grasp a concept, the more elusive it becomes. Yet, if I calmly put the question to my higher self, and then let it go, at some point the answer will come to me in a clear and easily understood manner.

This is the way it has been for me with the concept of enlightenment. I have read books, articles, and listened to so many lectures yet, it still eluded me. Last night I was reading the words of Lao Tsu, and although they used words like the Way and the Sage, it felt to me, as the though they still referring to the same concept as enlightenment.

At four twenty six a.m., I woke up; or at least it felt as though I was awake. In fact, I really believe that I was having a lucid dream. As I lay there in a place somewhere between being asleep and being awake I heard these words in my head, “The truth comes between thoughts, like during the times like this, between waking and sleeping. Whether one calls it flow, inaction, or being present, it is not trying, just being. One cannot seek enlightenment; it would be seeking what is not missing. To be enlightened we must simply be, and in the stillness of being the light within will shine and we will see. It is that seeing that is enlightenment”. Then shortly after I heard, “It is through the process of doing ordinary things that we brush up against the extraordinary”. I reached for a piece of paper to try and scribble down what I was hearing, because I knew that it would dissolve just as a dream dissolves into consciousness when we awaken.

Just then, I felt the enormity of NOW. It was as if time stood still. I felt as though I had slipped between words, literally I felt that there were words on either side of me and yet, they were at the same time an eternity away. I was in a void, there was neither a sight, nor a sound, but I was a part of everything, everything that has been, everything that could or will ever be, all the knowledge that could ever exist, and most of all – all of the unconditional love that could be experienced. I was in a place that felt older than eternity, and larger and deeper than outer space. I could sense that the things that we consider to be the real world were as substantive as a sheet of tissue paper floating in the eternal ether. We rely on words to manifest our world, but what is real, is what the words are attempting, with their limited ability, to describe.

What is enlightenment? I don’t know if it really can be described, but who cares whether it can or not? What I can say is that there are no requirements to experiencing it, except the willingness to be still in our minds. We spend so much time thinking about the road ahead and the road behind, punishing ourselves or blaming others for the past, and working so hard to guarantee the future. We completely overlook the opportunity to experience now. When the mind is full of thoughts, worries, expectations, plans and just plain noise, it is too full to receive light. It is that simple, one does not have to have credentials, nor does one have to be a highly evolved Master, we only have to be willing to let go and be.

In my search to understand the meaning of enlightenment, I realized that I only wanted to understand the means of attaining it. In all honesty I am not, at least not yet, a person who has mastered meditation. There are an average of fifty thousand thoughts that pass through the normal brain in a day. When we meditate, we do different exercises to still our minds and stop all of the noise that is in our heads. And so meditation is one possible way to reach that point of stillness, that point of being in which light can be received and enlightenment can be achieved. I myself, really don’t think very much, what I mean is that random worries, or plans, or whatever makes up those fifty thousand thoughts rarely enter my head, except, when I meditate. Most of the time, my mind is rather still or occupied with where I am and what I am doing. And so, when I try to still the noise that isn’t there in the first place I create noise that prevents me from meditating.

For people who are like me, absorption works much better than meditation. I allow myself to become fully absorbed in whatever I am doing, and in that process there are no extraneous thoughts filling my head. I remain, for the most part, an open channel. If I space out, or drift off, it is not to a thought; I am simply opening up more in that moment for whatever might come through. I am constantly receiving light, such as the light that becomes information. I know that it is from a source other than my own mind because it really has little relevance to my own life in any personal way. Or, if a thought comes to me that does have a personal relevance, I am shown how my personal situation plays out in a much broader picture that would be relevant to others as well as myself.

Enlightenment is something like slipping through a crack in time and space. And I believe that it is something that everyone can attain or at least glimpse in their lifetimes. But it is not something we can find by seeking. We have to be at the right place at the right time. That place is in the present and the time is God’s time. It isn’t something that we can find, or a place that we can plan to be at a certain hour every day, because our hour may not fit into God’s schedule. So, if we seek enlightenment, the best way to guarantee that we will receive it is to always be ready. That means, always being present in the moment, in the world and in the task that we are immediately involved in.

Because I wanted so much to experience enlightenment, I forgot what I had learned about asking and then letting go. The way we release a letter when we put it into the mailbox or hit the send button for e-mail. I had heard so many people tell me stories about their beautiful experiences during meditation. I wanted to go there so badly that it hurt. Then one night I told God that I surrendered to never seeing Nirvana. I would be fine, being like Moses who never entered the Promises Land. I resigned myself to the fact that it would not happen for me in this lifetime. And that was the night I went to sleep and found what I had been sleeping at 4:26 am. Not only did I then experience it, I learned that we all could. Enlightenment is only seeing it is having a light shown on what is right there. When Jesus said, “Seek and ye shall find”, what did it mean? There is a sense of being lost in seeking, isn’t there? No one would seek anything if they knew where it was.

The answer that we find when we become enlightened is that there is no answer only a beautiful living Mystery. The answer to that mystery is on the horizon, which represents the end of our journey. The horizon is there regardless of the path that we travel or the direction that we choose. With every step we are awakening, with every moment we are becoming. Enlightenment comes when we let go of believing that we know. To be enlightened is to embrace the possibilities that live within the Mystery. There is only one certainty and that is that one need not know what the Light is to feel the all encompassing Love the flows within it. We need only seek to grow in Love, to be freed from the darkness, to be enlightened.