Categories
inspiration Poetry

Prosper In Joy

I pray that my journey leads me to a graceful end and a new beginning.

It is a place of peace.

It is a place of fulfillment.

It is a place where my spirit can plug in and know what to do to bring peace to this world.

I do not have to be concerned with the magnitude of my actions.

I just have to feel that they are given in love.

I can let go of the results.  The results are whatever they are.

There is love in this place and a feeling of enfoldment and unfoldment.

My heart feels that it has come home.

There is strength and a quickening of the spirit in this place.

The answers to the mysteries of my life are revealed.

This is a place of generosity where so much is given.

I touch it almost daily.

It is not yet stable.

The universe wants us to prosper in joy.

Still, so many of us are outside of the gates.

The world is broken.

As am I.

What can I do?

First, I must find this place alone.

And then, I must do whatever I can to help my brothers and sisters find it too.

Categories
humor Novels

The Aftermath

Three Days to Darkness Novel by David Gittlin

Excerpt from Three days to Darkness, Copyright 2009 by David B. Gittlin.

Hiram Fyrum stared at the Mamongen Pharmaceuticals Building through the one-way front windshield of Joseph Mamon’s bullet proof Rolls Royce.  The majestic skyscraper had been reduced to a modern version of the Leaning Tower of Pizza silhouetted against the rising morning sun.

Police cars surrounded the ruptured base of the building.  Portable barricades and a line of Policemen prevented pedestrians and traffic from coming within a thousand yards of the ominous slanting edifice.

Hiram had been up all night, mostly trying to figure out what he was going to say to Joseph Mamon, the ninety year old Chairman and Founder of Mamongen Pharmaceuticals.  His stubby legs ached from climbing down fifty floors of emergency stairs from his twenty thousand square foot Penthouse to the ground floor.  Hiram had spent the major portion of this middle of the night journey screaming into his cell phone at various members of the Mamongen Engineering Staff.  The rest of the time he had spent catching his breath.  Needless to say, Hiram Fyrum was not in the best of shape at the moment for the task at hand.  He was, on the other hand, determined as ever to do what he always did in a crisis.  He would rise victoriously to the occasion.

“I’m beginning to see an opportunity here, Joseph.  What if we left the building tilted like that, reinforced with polished steel supports.  We remodel all the interiors to fit the new structure.  Stay with me now.  The building becomes the company’s new logo.  The tag line goes: ‘Mamongen Pharmaceuticals — Taking an Innovative Direction into the Future.’  The building becomes a statement, like a modern art sculpture.  Think of it, Joseph.  It’s what we’re all about.”

Hiram sat back confidently in the rear compartment of the Chairman’s fortress of a car.  His mind automatically began to compute the logistics of the plan he had just proposed.  The more he thought about it, the more he liked it.

“We’re going to play the cards we’ve been dealt,” Hiram added.  “We’re going to turn adversity into an opportunity.”

He turned to Joseph Mamon in the seat next to him.  Hiram’s confidence was now in full flight.  He was suddenly bubbling with energy despite a sleepless night and no morning coffee.

Joseph Mamon stared morosely out at the spectacle that now loomed in a sadly comic fashion amidst the other sterling examples of Corporate Wellness standing straight and tall beside it.  He coughed into his oxygen mask.

“Come on, Joseph.  Say something.”

“I’m looking at what’s left of my life’s work,” the old man said.

“You’re looking at a new beginning, that’s what you’re looking at,” Hiram said.

The old man turned to him. “I’m looking at the biggest putz in the entire world.”

“I’m not offended, Joseph.  This is an emotional time.  I know you don’t mean that.”

“I’m the guy who hired you, which means only one thing:  I’m getting senile.”

The old man broke into a coughing fit.  Hiram patted him on the back.  The coughing finally stopped.

“I’m going to dismantle the company and sell it off in little pieces.”

“Let’s not make any rash decisions.  Let’s give the situation a little breathing room.  Let’s also keep in mind that your passion built this company and our passion can keep it going.”

The old man looked at him with big, rheumy eyes.  “Get out of my car.”  He blinked several times.  “I never want to see you again.”

“You’re firing me?”

“Only because there are laws against killing you.”

 

Categories
inspiration Making Changes self-discovery

The End Is The Beginning

Choosing a new direction into the unknown.

If You Find Yourself at the End of Your Rope…It Might Be a Good Thing

The word I hear bandied about is “surrender.” Truth be told, I’m not a big fan of surrendering. I’m not really sure what that word means in relation to the path of awakening. I’ll have to fumble forward to find my own way of “letting go.”

Once every seven years or so, I get to the point where I just want to scream obscene epithets from my terrace railing. Since I’m not a big fan of being arrested, I’m able to contain myself.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t keep the dam of frustrated emotions from spilling into the lap of some innocent bystander. I feel like I’ve done everything that can be done to accomplish my goals and my efforts are bogged down like German Panzer tanks in the snow on the Russian front.

The funny thing is,unlike the German Army in 1942, I find it possible to actually get somewhere when I reach this point. In one sense, it’s a scary place, a place of desperation, a feeling of being at the end of my rope. But I’ve found it can also be the beginning of something better than the orbit I was in. You might call it a breakthrough to a higher altitude, if you don’t mind pedestrian metaphors.

When I have looked in every crevice and corner and turned over every stone in search of the faintest glimmer of light—the light is usually not very far away.

There comes a time when human effort is met by something that looks like chance, but it is not chance. Some people call it Grace. Some people call it luck. I call it proof positive that persistent effort, and faith in myself and the universe, will unlock the door to whatever my heart truly desires.

Sometimes I think I want something that turns out to be only a construct of my mind.  I’m chasing a phantom with no real substance. Sometimes I overestimate my abilities, and I set unrealistic goals. However, if what I want comes from deep within my heart, I believe nothing can stop me from attaining my heart’s desire.

One of the good things about advancing age is that it makes it easier to focus on priorities. I mean real priorities—the meaningful stuff, because the clock is ticking, louder and louder. There simply isn’t time to screw around with trivialities and dead ends. I’ve been everywhere, done everything, made a fool of myself, and accomplished a few goals. You might say I’ve grown weary of missing the point. I want the real thing—the beauty within my heart—and I know it can’t be far away.

To illustrate my point, I’m reminded of a crossroads I reached earlier in life.

The Easiest and the Hardest Step in Breaking Out of Old Patterns

Walking Towards an Unknown Destination

It’s one of the most frightening passages life confronts us with. What we’ve been doing doesn’t work anymore. We’ve come to a fork in the road. One fork leads to the known. The other one leads to the unknown.

I had spent my entire career working in a family business. My father and my uncle built the business. They passed away, leaving the next generation in charge. My father and uncle expected me and my two cousins to continue where they left off. In theory, my cousins and I had the education and the experience to handle the transition seamlessly. Except we didn’t share a vision for the future, and I frankly couldn’t stand one of my cousins.

After several futile attempts to carry on as expected, I saw the handwriting on the wall. I did not foresee the business flourishing with the three of us at the helm. I decided to sell my share of the business to my cousins. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make.

Up until this fork in the road, my life had been structured from the outside in. I had done what was expected of me. Now, it was up to me to structure my life from the inside out.

I have found this wise old saying to be very true. “When one door closes, another opens.”  To express it another way, letting go of one thing leaves room for another. The scary part of navigating this passage is enduring the empty space left behind in the wake of releasing the known. We are normally left with only a tiny kernel of an idea; a faint voice whispering beneath the clatter of every day life.

I had always dreamed of writing fiction. From a solid background in marketing communications, I began writing short stories in my forties. While still employed in the family business, I took online courses in screenwriting at UCLA. I learned the basics of character development, drama, conflict, and plotting. I used screenwriting as a bridge to my main goal: Writing novels. After selling my share of the business, I now had the time and the freedom to pursue the dream.

Part of me thought I had gone mad.  That part turned out to be dead right. Logically, what were the odds of finding an agent and a publisher? It’s not something to think about when writing a first novel. Trust me.

I discovered that writing a novel is a very lonely process. I was accustomed to interfacing with all kinds of people in business. Now, except for a few friends, wife, daughter, and mother-in-law, I was completely alone. Doubts and fears assaulted me. I figured real novelists enjoyed their solitude. I kept thinking, real novelists are self- sufficient artists. They can take or leave people. All they need is their cats or dogs. Maybe this is true.  All I know is I’ve managed to write three good screenplays and three good novels since taking the fork in the road that leads to the unknown.

There are certainly ups and downs mucking about in the unknown. I have to say, though, that it’s more interesting and rewarding than steady doses of the known. It’s actually fun to travel back and forth between the worlds of the unknown and the known.

Let’s take writing this article to illustrate my point. When I began, I only had a vague idea of what it would be about. I did, however, have the definite intention of writing something that would be of interest and benefit to you and me. So, what is my point? Here it is: Nothing happens if you don’t take the first step. You’ll stay stuck in the same rut, and that’s no fun. Have the courage to adventure into the unknown. Trust yourself and the talents you’ve been given. Nobody gets rich, creates anything meaningful, or finds a deeper source of happiness following the crowd.

 

Categories
inspiration

Heart Awakening: Where Is My Joy?

“The Sun in Your Heart is Rising.”

Saniel Bonder

I’ve been working towards a spiritual awakening for most of my adult life, and it seems  I’m on the brink of a promising development in my growth process.  There are many paths to “higher consciousness” and many kinds of spiritual awakenings.  In fact, each of us is destined for his or her own unique awakening.  For the past five years, I’ve been involved in something called “Waking Down in Mutuality.”  WDM is a path that nurtures an embodied individual awakening through energetic transmission and various forms of study and group participation.  There are no gurus.  It is not a cult.  The people who help other people to awaken are teachers and facilitators.  There is no hierarchy.  There is no dogma.  There are no “shoulds” or “oughts.”

The chances are that you’ve never heard of anything like WDM.  You’re not alone.  Less than one percent of the world’s population is interested in transformative spiritual awakening.  You may be wondering why I’m interested.  The answer is simple:  I want to experience more peace, love and joy in my life than most other pursuits can provide.

Thanks to the evolution of consciousness and the opportunities and modalities provided by WDM and its close relative, Trillium Awakening, I don’t have to be a monk or a saint to awaken.  I don’t have to destroy or surrender my ego.  I can just be me, whatever that is.   I don’t have to separate spirit and matter.  I can live a relatively normal life while opening myself to the treasures of the Heart, every chance I get.

Recently, I’ve made a discovery.  It’s a big one.  It’s really more of an experience than a mental concept.  I’ve realized that self-worth ultimately has nothing to do with accomplishment.  Equating self-worth with achievement is a trap that most of us fall into.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with striving to accomplish things, or to be a better you, or in getting better at whatever it is you do.  It definitely feels good to get things done and to improve.  As an example, I enjoy the feeling of writing this.  It feels good to create something new.  But writing a best-selling novel will never give me the deep down satisfaction, wholeness, and completeness that my heart craves.  This type of satisfaction can only be found buried deep within my heart.  The same is true for you.

I’m not sure where I’m going from here, but I’m confident it will lead to more and more happiness and self-satisfaction.  It won’t happen overnight.  What’s important is that it’s happening.  As WDM founder and spiritual teacher Saniel Bonder likes to say, “The Sun in Your Heart is Rising.”  That sounds pretty good to me.

 

Categories
inspiration

Towards An Unshakable Foundation of Peace

Waiting for a connecting flight from San Francisco on my way home to Fort Lauderdale, I look around me at the faces of my fellow early morning passengers. The feeling of happiness within me contrasts sharply with the reflections of dulled spirits I see sitting row after row at the departure gate.

In defense of my fellow passengers, it can be argued that even the hardiest soul has a difficult time smiling at the ripe hour of six in the morning with nothing to look forward to besides a long, cramped flight in cattle-car-coach. Yet here I am, feeling a sense of contentment so overpowering it compels me to share it with a young lady sitting two seats away. We enjoy a pleasant, meandering conversation before going our separate ways.

By all rights, I should appear as glum and bored to the other waiting passengers as they appear to me.  I’ve logged barely a few hours of sleep thanks to a five AM wakeup call. Yet I feel so alive and awake it seems like a miracle. My spirits soar like a nimble 757 jumbo jet taking flight from a short runway.

Let me assure you: I’m no stranger to boredom and depression. And I most certainly don’t feel this happy all of the time. What I’m feeling this morning is the direct result of attending a weekend retreat with Saniel and Linda Bonder.

Before I discovered Waking Down in Mutuality, now co-named Trillium Awakening, happiness had become an increasingly elusive commodity. I had my own ideas about where to find happiness, all of them external, and I pursued each and every one of them with zeal. And then the zeal began to ooze out of me like a rubber raft with a big hole in it. Fortunately, before all of the air in my psychic tires escaped into the ether, I had my first introduction to finding happiness and peace within me.

Thirty years later, my path took me in another direction. I discovered a local group on MeetUp. The group description that captured my attention went something like this: “You don’t have to be a saint to awaken to consciousness. You can awaken as yourself, right where you are. Not in a hundred lifetimes. Now.”

Eventually, I discovered to my surprise that people in this group had actually experienced an awakening. Hundreds of them. It was’t just talk.

That was eight years ago. Since then, I’ve been nurturing an inner experience that is  alive and real. I haven’t had an awakening yet, but I’ve experienced more peace, joy and, love in my life than ever before.

And, most recently, I’ve had an opportunity to bathe in this experience almost on a daily basis. Thanks to the Trillium organizers and volunteers, daily online gazing and meditation sessions are being offered, free of charge, to support people through the coronavirus crisis.

The major life goal that remains for me now is to realize in greater depth an unshakable foundation of joy, peace, and love waiting to be uncovered inside me. You may be thinking, “give me a break.” People have told me your goal isn’t a goal. It’s nonsense.

I disagree.

I believe it is possible to experience peace, love and joy on a consistent basis, and radiate it out to others. Not every moment, of course, but certainly more consistently than every once in a while.

It is said that what you can conceive and believe, you can achieve. As Saniel and Linda Bonder often say, “The Sun in Your Heart is Rising.”

 

 

 

Categories
inspiration

Becoming a Human Light Bulb

 

Light bulbs, by definition, radiate light. I’m told that we humans are essentially comprised of light. So, it follows that I (we) are radiating light all of the time. The truth is closer to this: I (we) constantly radiate something, but it isn’t necessarily light. What we radiate depends upon the inner reality that I (we) cultivate.

In my case, meditation helps me to cultivate peace and therefore I radiate a peaceful vibration. But thoughts also come into the picture. Thoughts affect emotions which influence moods and demeanor. So, it pays to cultivate the kinds of thoughts that contribute to the transmission you want to radiate as a total being.

I’ve found that the key to positive thoughts is to have something joyful or pleasurable to look forward to. It’s best to make whatever I (we) look forward to something that contributes to wholeness and well-being. Activities such as snorting cocaine or abusing alcohol are not recommended. Discretion is definitely suggested on the path to becoming a human light bulb.

It helps to find a source of light and bathe in that source daily. Light sources come in various shapes and sizes. Each of us has his or her own version. The one thing light sources have in common is that they all inspire us, and most importantly, THEY ACTIVATE THE LIGHT WITHIN US.

Believe it or not, light is much more enjoyable to experience than darkness. It would be wonderful if the news media, for example, discovered this simple truth. These days, most of the material coming at us does not support our whole being or wellness, to put it mildly.

If you haven’t already, find your light source. Find a whole bunch of them if you like. Change your light source if you’ve outgrown it. Whatever you do, take some time to bathe in your light source daily. Bathing in light every day increases your joy. That’s a promise. The most advanced ones among us have found their light source within them. Good for them. We all are destined to do it sooner or later.

Categories
Stories

Grain Burgers and the Door to the Infinite

The moment arrived unannounced during a set of solitary yoga postures on my plush, living room rug.  A long stretch to relieve the tension of the day popped something open inside me.  It was not a ligament or a tendon.  It was my hardened heart.

In the Hollywood version of the story, the hero manages to crawl to the phone, call 911, and then wakes up in a hospital bed after a miraculous, life-saving operation by a brilliant, open-heart surgeon.  The experience impresses upon our hero a number of crucial life lessons.  After the crisis, the hero’s character and actions towards others change profoundly for the better.

Unfortunately, life does not resemble a Hollywood B movie.  My physical heart had not split open while in shoulder stand on the rug.  A more subtle heart had opened, and with it, a door to a new world and another destiny.

It all started with Jorge, the new employee I would never have invited to lunch if my regular lunch buddies had not run off without me.  Jorge was Mexican, the only Latin guy on in the executive suite of a wallpaper distribution company that hired mostly Anglo-Americans when Miami’s transformation into a multi-cultural city had begun in earnest in 1981.

Jorge was in his early thirties, average looking, average height, dark hair, brown eyes, and a thin mustache.  He was the kind of guy who could get lost in a crowd easily.  I had no idea his unheralded arrival would trigger a seminal occurrence in my life.

My company hired Jorge for its fledgling export division.  Jorge’s mission was to open up markets in South America and the Caribbean (approximately one quarter of the world) all by himself.  He had the ability to speak Spanish and, I presumed, super-human sales skills coupled with a pioneering spirit.  I didn’t envy Jorge one bit.

I considered myself above Jorge.  I was the high and mighty Marketing Director—Jorge the lowly new sales recruit.  I had served my time in sales.  I was grateful beyond words not to have to spend my days selling wallpaper sample books to dealers who had no more room in their stores for them.  I figured, if nothing else, I could learn something about the export market by going to lunch with the new recruit.  Besides, Jorge was the only soul left on the second floor other than myself.

Jorge suggested we eat at a quiet, natural food restaurant in Miami Springs.  My lunch prospects had just been elevated from a singular, fatty, McDonald’s affair to a tasty, low cholesterol engagement.  I happily agreed.

Over salads and grain burgers, I discovered Jorge was a vegetarian and practiced meditation daily.  Here was a subject I had some interest in, having experimented with various forms and teachers of meditation over the years.  You might say I was a semi-serious spiritual seeker.  And, I had reached a curious crossroads, a sort of impasse in my life.

I had everything a thirty-something American male could wish for: the perfect job in a field I enjoyed; a great boss; a townhouse bachelor pad; girlfriends, a few pals to hang out with; a sports car and club memberships.  I had scrupulously followed the prescribed formulas for success.  I had cobbled together many of the accouterments of an ideal life.

Yet I felt restless and unfulfilled.

I was terrified there was something terribly wrong with me.  I felt the cold winds of middle age blowing in my direction.  I saw myself dating one girl after another well into my eighties, until I finally abandoned the search for true love when my body and spirit caved in from old age.

There I was, sitting across from this lowly new recruit munching on his iceberg lettuce.  He casually mentioned losing 80 pounds after becoming a vegetarian.  I commented that it must have taken a great deal of willpower.  He answered, “Not really.”

I began to pepper Jorge with questions.  The guy was unlike many of the salespeople in our company I regularly rubbed elbows with.  He had a depth and an intensity that I found intriguing.

I asked Jorge what kind of meditation he practiced.  He said it was not a “kind of meditation.”  He launched into a passionate discourse about a profound experience of peace the meditation opened up for him.  He invited me to a presentation scheduled at a hotel on Miami Beach that evening.  I told myself there was no way I was going to drive all the way from South Miami to the Beach to attend some dubious spiritual seminar.

That night, I found myself sitting in a lime green, orange accented meeting room at the Carlyle Hotel.

Curiosity—and some undefinable vibe emanating from between Jorge’s words at lunch had picked me up from the chocolate brown pit sofa in my living room and deposited me in an uncomfortable chair surrounded by a room full of strangers.

Indian music played from six-foot speakers flanking a makeshift stage.  The only thing that kept me in my seat was the absence of Hare-Krishna-like chanting.

I glanced to my left and caught a glimpse of Jorge, who smiled kindly at me.  Someone took the stage and began speaking into a microphone.

The Indian Music and the microphone are the only details I recall after the program began.  My perspective slowly shifted from an external focus to a pleasant inner experience.

A succession of three speakers addressed the gathering that evening.  I do not recall a single word any one of them said.  I just remember feeling relaxed.  I had an experience that can only be described as feeling at home with myself.

For the first time in a very long while, I had actually enjoyed myself without a great deal of effort or alcohol to help me along.  I felt like an invisible hand had knocked off a layer of caked mud from my body.

It is difficult for me to describe what happened after that evening.  I can only say that it marked the beginning of a long journey that lasts to this day, to this very moment.

In the days and weeks after the event at the Carlyle Hotel, I met Jorge’s teacher, who essentially introduced me to myself.  I thought I knew myself pretty well.  I began to see that the image I held of myself was only a faint glimmer of a deeper, broader self, filled with possibilities.

Many years later, my life remains full of challenges, but I face them with real joy and optimism.  I have discovered that life can be every bit as beautiful as you want it to be.  It takes some courage and effort, but the possibility is real for anyone willing to step up to the plate.

I look inward now for satisfaction, rather than chasing it on the outside.  I shake hands with myself on a daily basis through meditation.  I feel more grounded.  I feel more love from within, which reflects positively into my outer life.

It occurs to me that I should have picked up the tab for Jorge’s lunch.  Jorge, my friend, if you’re out there somewhere and can read this, please know that I owe you one.