Categories
Arts and Entertainment inspiration self-discovery

Is There Anything I can Do?

Focus On Peace, Love, and Joy

In these troubling times, it seems like the world could go off a cliff at any moment.

I remember what it was like in the nineteen-sixties when we lived under the threat of nuclear devastation. Today, we live under the veil of multiple threats: COVID, cyber attacks, totalitarian regimes, Jihad, the environmental crisis and a few others topping the list. Taken together, I believe these threats have made the world a more dangerous place to live in than ever before.

Can I/we do anything about these threats? Let’s try to answer the question with some self-inquiry.

I’ve noticed on WordPress that there is a lot of blogging about the pain of life: heartbreak, lost loves, loneliness, anxiety, and more. Sure, pain is part of life, and people can relate to it. My question is: Is there something else?

The news carries stories constantly about the daily tragedies that occur around the world. Last night, for example, I was listening to a CNN report about a horrible flash flood in Germany. It’s good to know about these things, but is there something else I can focus on?

If I am a compassionate person and I listen to the suffering of others, is there someplace I can go to find peace, strength, and even, God forbid, Joy?

How many people in the world interrupt their complaining to find this place? Does it exist? Have you found it?

And finally, if I find peace within myself, will the world be a better and more peaceful place to live in?

Think about it.

Before we close, I’d like to continue the inquiry with some questions surrounding the hot topic of vaccinations.

If you don’t want to get vaccinated because the short or long-term effects are unknown, do you stand a better chance of survival if you get the more virulent COVID Delta Variant?

Did you know if the rate of Delta infections keeps rising, there is a very good chance the virus will mutate into even more virulent strains? Quite possibly, these new variants could be immune to our current vaccines.

Do you realize that not getting vaccinated puts not only you, but everyone else in the world at high risk?

If you are in good health, what is your reason(s) for choosing not to be vaccinated?

It seems I can’t end without singing you a song. Talking about the sixties, here’s one that goes back there. It’s from Steve Gillette’s debut album released in 1967. In my opinion, every song on this album is outstanding, except maybe the first one. Steve Gillette never made it to the top of the charts, but he’s a very talented artist.

“Back On The Street Again” is one Gillette’s best known songs. The song is about a lost love (there I go contradicting myself). It’s also about getting back up and moving on. I find the song to be touching and stirring. Maybe you will too.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Categories
inspiration self-discovery

Fresh Water

A Droplet In A Fresh Water River

I thought I had reached the end of the road. In one sense, I had. After spending almost thirty-five years with one spiritual teacher, it finally became painfully and everlastingly clear that I had to find another way to go. It became a matter of spiritual life or death.

I had been studying drama and fiction writing. Like a standard movie plot, I had reached the “all is lost moment” in the middle of the third act. Allow me to explain.

I come from a large extended family. I have a few good friends, but I never had to go far when it came to my direction in life and people to turn to for good advice. My father and my uncle provided everything I needed in terms of my physical survival, and I had found my own way to satisfy my spiritual needs. Spiritually, I traveled an unorthodox path, but I was able to integrate it into my conventional lifestyle. I’m not the type to live in a commune or an ashram, and I never discussed my spiritual life with my parents and extended family.

And then things changed. Life moved on, as it inevitably does. In my late fifties, the only close family relationships I had left were my wife and my daughter. With no spiritual community to turn to, I felt terribly alone, rootless, and achingly lost. I felt myself sinking into an abyss of despair.

At this point in 2013, I found Saniel and Linda Bonder through a local Meetup Group in Miami, Florida. I had been actively searching for the next step, but nothing had clicked, and then it did.

The leader of the Miami Meetup group encouraged me to attend a weekend retreat with Saniel and Linda at a private home in the Atlanta suburbs. At the last minute, I decided to go.

The teaching and the experience I had been following involved a long-distance relationship with a teacher who appeared periodically in Miami amid thousands of people. In the local groups, we watched videos of the teacher appearing at events around the world. I never felt I had much in common socially with any of the local practitioners, except one very good friend who I still have lunch with regularly. And the teaching was a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. I wanted something more personal. I wanted something deeper and more intellectually comprehensive. And I wanted the chance to awaken now, not in some distant future if I jumped through all the right hoops.

At the retreat in Atlanta, I sat next to Saniel’s wife, Linda Bonder. The first thing she did was offer me her hand to hold. I suppose she intuited that I was nervous. I was amazed at Linda’s act of kindness. I felt at home with the audience of twenty practitioners seated in an intimate circle in the lovely living room. Saniel came into the room to start the meeting. He took a seat less than twenty feet away from me. This was the kind of personal touch I was looking for, and the transmission of peace/love was powerful in the room.

I learned that many of the people at the retreat had experienced their awakening to consciousness. They were working towards stabilizing and embodying their individual awakenings. I learned that the Trillium Awakening Path is a completely individual process with constant support available from teachers and fellow students. The process does not center on a Guru. It centers on the individual. It is an awakening within community where each person learns to grasp the means to their own realization. Hundreds of people in the community have awakened.

I am deeply grateful that Trillium Awakening exists. I feel that I am holding and being held by the others. I feel personally seen and met. I am deeply committed to the process and the community. Recently, the Trillium Awakening Teachers Circle has created a program of online events to enable anyone interested to participate in daily gazing, meditations, mutuality circles, mini-seminars and weekend retreats.

After eight years of participation in Trillium, I am significantly more rooted in myself and the community. I lead a normal life pursuing multiple interests and avenues of self-expression. There is nothing I have to conform to in Trillium. I am becoming more and more my true, authentic self within the Trillium Community and in my everyday life. Feelings of peace, love and joy dance in my heart intermittently throughout my day.

I’m fortunate to have found this next step. When the river bed is dry, the rain falls, and fresh water flows, once again.

Categories
dreams inspiration Making Changes Poetry wellness

If I Dare To Leap

Lightness And Darkness

On a rainy day there is no place to go

Except inside

To a safer place

To a better place

A place where I can spend days basking in meditation

Soaring close to the Heart Sun

Inevitably, I must arise and live in the world

Where the only way to move forward is to take a leap

Into the deep unknown

Into who knows what

Or where

I don’t want to jump

I’m not looking for trouble

Or confusion

Or more suffering

But walking in weary circles leads to “nowheresville”

As my Dad used to say

And holding on doesn’t work

So, a path cluttered with dried leaves is unveiled

Beckoning me towards a seemingly un-crossable crossroad

A paradox or a dilemma

The wise ones say, “Be who you are where you are”

Really? What if that place is constantly under water?

Unless I do something

Like making lemonade from demon lemons

I want to feel real love

I want to feel real peace

I want to feel real joy

If I take the leap

Will I find these delights?

Within reasonable bounds (if reason is necessary)

And so, I am pushed by unseen forces

To the edge of a cliff

Where I must decide

Without Knowing

“The path forward may sometimes be unclear. And it may be messy. But the shared heart is calling, and we have an opportunity to make lasting shifts toward love and justice in our world.”

Kristi Nelson/Executive Director of Gratefulness.org

Decision Time At The Edge Of A Cliff
Photo By Pagie Page On Unsplash
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
inspiration Poetry

What Lies Deep Within?

Exploring an Underwater Cave

Go beyond the mundane mutterings of mind

I tell myself

Into a broader perspective

Into a deeper reservoir of peace and love within

Dive

Explore

I tell myself

It’s there

It is really there

Deep within

I’m told there is no end to the depths

Yet, here I am

Standing on the shore

Barely scratching the surface

Despite all of my sanctimonious efforts

I’m okay with it

I tell myself

Better to taste the drop

Than to taste nothing at all

Exploring an Underwater Cave

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
Fitness Folk Guitar Health inspiration Music wellness

Is There a Silver Lining to Corona?

Silver Lining

Can there be an upside to something as horrible as the Coronavirus?

Well, maybe.

While I (we) can’t ignore the tragedies and hardships CV has visited upon so many of us, I think it helps to realize there have also been benefits that will accrue to everyone who makes it through these troubling times.

We all have goals of one kind or another. Some are easy to accomplish, like a “to do” list of daily errands. The ones that are higher on the food chain of goals are more challenging. They require more effort, perseverance and imagination.

What if I told you the CV pandemic made my higher goals easier to accomplish?

Grant me a few more paragraphs to explain.

Since the pandemic began, I’ve taken the mental pressure off of myself. I’ve cut way back on what I expect from myself. As a result, I’ve been more creative, more productive, and I’m having more fun.

In other words, the stay-at-home Covid lifestyle gave me the perfect excuse to slow down and relax. I’m guessing many of you have had a similar experience?

Here are a few examples of what I mean.

First of all, I’m not pursuing happiness with a vengeance. I don’t feel the self-imposed pressure of making myself or someone else happy. I’m just dealing with the Coronavirus situation one day at a time. I’m keeping it simple. I’m not forcing myself to be active. I’m not running around all over the place trying to “do something meaningful with my life.”

As a result, I’ve been working out more than I usually do. And I’m doing most of it at home rather than trekking to a gym somewhere. I’m saving time and energy. I’m in better shape. And guess what; I’m a lot happier than I’ve been in a long time.

Secondly, I’ve had a creative renaissance. I’ve dropped the “shoulds,” the “ought to’s” and the guilt. I’m not thrashing around thinking; What are you going to write today?  What, no ideas? How can you be so empty and lazy?

Instead, I’m not worried about writing anything. And voila. The ideas are coming to me spontaneously. The idea for this post came to me unbidden. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But it wasn’t happening. Now, I’m enjoying writing this stuff. It’s not torture. Imagine that.

On to music. My music. Well, it’s not exactly my music. Plato said; ““Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” That’s a nice quote. I especially like the part about music giving life to everything. I feel the truth of it.

I enjoy singing and playing acoustic guitar songs by my favorite artists. When I get them down “just right,” I record and post them on my blog and on Facebook. I do it because I just plain like doing it. Since I’ve been happier lately, I’ve been doing it a lot more. And I’m downloading inexpensive tutorials to learn exactly how an artist like Cat Stevens plays a song I like. It’s fun and a good way to improve the old guitar technique.

I’m hoping some of this musical joy will rub off on my friends.

There are so many other silver lining stories like this one:

A personal trainer friend of mine told me she has increased her income and clientele by offering her coaching sessions online. She is no longer bound by geography. And she saves time, energy, and gas money with online sessions. Now that gyms have re-opened, she can do sessions online and in person.

I have to give some credit for my new-found happiness to the spiritual community I participate in. There are now nourishing online events I can attend almost every day of the week. It gives me the focus I want and it has helped me to be more grateful for what I have in my life. These community events, which started out as online support for the journey through CV, will now be extended beyond the Covid period.

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” We are responding by developing creative solutions to the CV crisis, both individually and collectively. So hang in there, and find the silver lining shining through the clouds every day in your life.

 

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.