Saturday, April 12, 2014

Time to enter the light...

All the major religions of the world are centered around texts that were written thousands of years ago - Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Muslim, Hindu, Taoism. Isn't that odd?
Consider all the advances of the world's understanding of so many things - medicine, biology, chemistry, geology, medicine, astrology, oceanology, physiology, technology... Would you ever pick one book and say that is the end all - be all - authority on that subject? Of course not!
And yet, if you were raised in the tradition of any of the "religious" teachings above, you are prone to believe it is the ONLY correct teaching about spirituality. We have been led to believe that ONE and only ONE is the correct path. AND only what was known thousands of years ago is known and correct.
Consider what medical practices were 2000 years ago. Would you want your doctor to follow ONLY what was text book knowledge then?
Consider the world maps of 2000 years ago. Would you want to follow those today?
Have we learned nothing in 2000 or more years about spirituality? Should our focus be purely on reading those ancient texts and attempting to interpret them in a new way?
Would it not make more sense to find the core meaning of each and then seek new discovery?
Let's accept them for what they are - ancient history. We can learn from them but it's time to shed the old cocoon and emerge as butterflies. It's time to awaken from the spiritual darkness and find the light.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Good in the World

Last Saturday morning a group of strangers converged to do something - unexpected - unrehersed - without hesitation. They did not know what the outcome may be. It could have resulted in nightmares. It could have resulted in worse. But it did not.
While driving on route 8 just south of Union City, a jeep slid off the road, entered the field and rolled over on its side. It seems no one who converged on the scene actually saw it happen but the sight of that vehicle on its side with lights still on - a slippery road - caught our attention. Cars stopped. People came from the houses and a a chain of events unfolded.
911 people are so skillfully trained to obtain the needed information from a frantic caller.... something like this.
"there's been an accident"
911 "Where are you located?"
"On route 8 somewhere between Townville and Union City.... I mean Centerville."
911 "Are there injuries?"
"Donno - jeep on it's side"
"How many vehicles?"
"One"
911 "Any chemicals?"
A man climbed on the jeep and pulled open the door as another man stood alongside waiting. "Call 911 - there are children in here."
"No..... They are pulling driver out....there are children in the car....children...."
911 "Any injuries? Help is on the way...."
As the 911 operator continued to gather pertinent information - all were pulled safely from the car - shook up but ok. A dear woman opened her car to keep them warm and seconds later a responder arrived - likely a volunteer fire chief.
As quickly as the strangers had converged, they dispersed when trained help arrived.
In the days that have followed, I am flooded wth memories and thankfulness. People did not hesitate to help. We are gifted with trained responders. We are also gifted in some remarkable moments to see the heart of strangers.
Years of my life I observed the dedication of volunteer firefighters in these types of situations but most often as the one who watched them leave home to respond - My dad, uncle, brother in laws....
This day there were simply people who saw a need and stopped to help. I am thankful to have been witnesss. I am thankful all turned out well. I am thankful for all.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Sacred Science book

What would you think if you learned that a school system was using the same science book it had been using for generations? And that same science book was the only book regarded as correct for every single grade - first through 12th.  "Everything you need to know is in THIS book," their teachers said.
No other book on science was authorized and, in fact, any other science book was considered to be of no value. These other books could even destroy their understanding of real science.
They taught from this book for hundreds of years - reading it over and over again. They discussed its meaning, extrapolated, built lab programs and experiments based solely on information contained within those pages but added nothing. Through the years students and teachers learned that chapters were missing, pages were missing, words were missing but nothing was corrected.
While other schools of science grew and expanded, this school continued to cling to this one book as sacred and untouchable. As some revealed that the sacred science book was full of contradictions and tried to point out the parts that were right and the parts that were misguided or entirely missing, the sacred science school system grew angry and defensive.
For many years it was easy to convince those following the sacred science book that there was no other science. Students and teachers were isolated. Former students and teachers did not return. So current teachers and students heard little dissent. But outside of school, many technologies emerged that enabled current teachers and students to learn world teachings. Soon students and teachers could read and learn about other science knowledge.
Maybe the moral of this story is; "You can fool all of the people some of the time. You can fool some of the people all of the time. But you cannot fool all of the people, all of the time." And perhaps it can be added you can fool fewer in the course of time.
Sooner or later, the book has to be updated. If it's not updated, it will be replaced and deemed irrelevant. Those who insist the book is perfect, the teachings surrounding the book are perfect and refuse to grow, will become irrelevant.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Mr. Jeepers story

Mr. Jeepers

Now that Jeepers has grown quite comfortable with his new home, we can enjoy his personality. And what a wonderful little personality he has! Watching him evolve has been remarkable and amusing.
We don't know where he came from or why. One late summer day he was laying on a chair on the front porch but as soon as we tried to get near him, he ran. Such visitors are not an unusual thing. Neighborhood cats do that from time to time. But he was there every morning and every night over the next few weeks as if he had no home. Not wanting to encourage someone else's cat to stay, we were reluctant to feed him, but as the nights turned chilly and he stayed on the porch longer, it was clear, he had no home. We put a box on the porch, put out food and with a long outstretched arm, he would let me pet his head. As weeks passed, I could hold him but only if I was standing up.
We had no plans to adopt a cat. Two dogs seem family enough. Day after day, we asked each other 'what are we going to do about that cat?'
The first snow came and there stood Jeepers at the door with snow on his back. Our hearts melted. He had to come in.
Numerous times Molly and Tobey had gone out on the porch and greeted him in his chair without great incident. But I was most surprised when, on his first indoor greeting, he and Tobey interacted and played like they were old friends. Molly, on the other hand, was rather indifferent. She surprised me as she has had many cat friends through her years. Perhaps she was annoyed that her best buddy Tobey was paying so much attention to someone else.
We set up the basement to meet Mr. Jeeper's needs and began a routine. He stayed in the basement at night but could come and go freely when we were home. He adopted a basement window perch where he was somewhat hidden. He'd come up for an hour or so in the evening, mostly interacting with Tobey.
Not surprising, Jeepers was not impressed with his first vet experience. The carrier and the ride caused him to complain quite loudly. At the vet, he was scared but pretty good and they remarked that considering his experience, he seemed to have an easy spirit. As we know him more, they were quite right. Perhaps because they see so many homeless and neglected pets, they thanked me for taking him in. We now thank him for insisting that we would.
Once he healed from being neutered, he found his role in the house - rid the varmints! An old house is easy sanctuary for little rodents and Jeepers takes offense to the invasion (as do we.) I've only caught one or two in traps but Jeepers is nearing double digits. It seems he is quite pleased with his accomplishment as he likes to ensure that we see each prize and is euphoric when he catches one. In the night we hear him madly racing from room to room. We now know we should get up. The hunter has succeeded and is doing his celebratory dance.
What's interesting is that he practices this dance sometimes with Tobey. He runs up, bats Tobey's nose and runs away. Tobey chases, tags him with his nose, and runs away with Jeepers chasing after him. Every now and then, like children, one of them gets a little rough. They let out a yell and the game is over for while.
Jeepers now has complete freedom around the house. Most of the time, he likes to be wherever the dogs may be laying. He escapes to his basement window perch less often, and he wants fed at the same time and in the same room as the dogs. There's no fear of trying to share their dish if we won't fill his fast enough. Unlike most cats I've known, he isn't one to jump up on tables or counters. If we tell him 'no', he seems to understand and accept it. He loves to have his belly rubbed and sometimes circles our legs begging to be held for a little bit.
Molly and Jeepers
Molly is not his best friend but they are often cuddled up together. While she doesn't pay a lot of attention to him, they touch noses and she will give him a big lick across the face.
I'm curious that Jeepers shows little interest in going outside. Warmer weather may change that but I think all in all, he has grown quite fond of the home he claimed. We could not have asked for a better little furry friend. Thank you Mr. Jeepers!





Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spiritual Journey?

What is a spiritual journey? For me, it is being mindful of the energy I carry and create in everything I do and say. It is how I live and determining to live with purpose in all ways and in all things. It's not a religion or a Sunday practice or a "when people are looking" kind of journey. It is a connection with all things, all people, all creation and that greater power that many call God.
I seek spiritual truths. These are laws that are undeniably correct. A spiritual truth from the source of creation brings abundance, love, joy, and overflows with more and more positive outcomes. There are dark spiritual truths. There is a spiritual path that leads to destruction, damnation, separation. Many churches teach that path. Listen closely. Our thoughts have power. Our words have power. Our deeds have power. Every thought, every word, every deed creates an energy that ripples out.
Today I read about relationships. When we say a negative thing about someone, we need 10 blessings to overcome that negative thing we said. We need to say - believe - think about 10 things that are blessings to overcome that one negative thing we said otherwise we are causing destruction in that relationship. It stunned me a moment. Whoa - 10 to 1 - why? If I say or do one negative thing, why does it take 10 positive to offset it?
Suddenly I saw myself in my little 15 foot backyard pool. I like to run in a circle around the side creating a whirlpool. After a while, I turn around and run against that current to change the direction. As I turn against the current it is very hard - 10 times the effort - until I can get the current going the other way - then it carries me.
I want everything I think, say and do to carry me in the direction I want to go. If I judge another harshly - so too will I be judged. Whatever I do to another will be done to me. We have heard these things no matter our religious teachings. This is spiritual truth.
For the rest of my days, this will be my journey - to make the whirlpool go in the positive direction - the direction that leads to joy, abundance for all, love for all and generates empowerment for all. As I feed my spirit, I will share freely and urge you all to feed yours.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Seek the Best in one another

There is one directive we have been given that may be the most difficult; "Love one another."
It is not just "love people who are like you" or "love people who are nice to you" or love people that think like you" - it is "Love one another." Honor your family. Love your enemy. LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
It's really easy to love people who are like you, believe the same things and share the same path. But what do you do with people you don't trust, don't believe are walking the same path or even who are very alien to your deepest values? We all face that difficult challenge and it can really throw us off the path of love.
Not long ago I faced this. I was faced with needing to deal regularly with a person I did not trust, felt had very different values and that I would prefer not to have to deal with on a regular basis. I began to complain about it a lot. One day my best friend asked a simple question, "what does he do better than you?'
It changed my entire perspective. I began to look for our common ground and more importantly, the gifts he has. As I sought his gifts and strengths, I grew.
Love is about believing in something more - something bigger. There is always something that another person does better than we do. We need to look for that. When we discover that about one another, we grow to love one another for those gifts. As we recognize one another for the gifts we each offer, our relationships build into something greater.
Yes, stick to your values. Yes, express real concerns. But don't let yourself be driven by the negative. Seek love and you will find it by seeking the best in one another.

Monday, March 10, 2014

To a Better Way

Recent polls show that the number of people in the United States without a religious affiliation has increase from 8% in 2003 to 23% in 2013.  Among adults 18-30 the percentage of non-affiliated is even greater - about a third.
Many are asking why but I don't think it's too difficult to understand. The loudest and most politically imposing religious figures are turning people away from religious institutions. For more than a decade they have been fixated on homosexuality, contraception and abortion, while supporting the rich and shunning the poor. The shame is that all religious institutions and followers do not agree with the focus on these things but, until recently, most have been silent.
Over the course of the decade some who remained silent and may have moderately agreed with the theology, are now finding the theology difficult to support as they see outrageous outcomes. The extremist tactics exercised in the name of religion are causing many to question the origin of the need for such tactics. Many are seeing the results as lacking compassion, understanding and insight. The tactics taken and the rhetoric with those tactics is in conflict with the central themes of any of the mainstream religions.
We no longer live in isolation. Many sources of information are at our fingertips. We hear and see stories of real people affected by events around us. If you do not put blinders on and listen to only a narrow stream of sources of information, you learn there is more to the world than your religious institution may like you to know.
I was about 6 or 7 when my best friend went to Catholicism. After a few weeks she announced that we could no longer be friends because I was Protestant. My church taught me to fear Paganism, Judaism, Buddhism and Muslim. If I even learned what they believed I would be tainted. If I practiced Yoga my soul may stripped from me. Paganism was equated with Satanism. Native American teachings were equated with Paganism.
Many like me, are remembering all that, learning something about the world and saying that is all hogwash. If you believe in a God, you have to know deep inside that God is not owned by any single religion. If you have met a Buddhist, a Jew, a Pagan, a Muslim or anyone from any other religion that sincerely seeks God, you can not dismiss them as anti-God. It then becomes difficult to sit in a religious environment that holds those beliefs.
So, an increasing number of people are now non-affiliated. I do not believe that is a good thing. I call myself Unitarian but I would need to drive many miles to be affiliated with like believers. That physical distance defeats some of the purpose for which I would like to be religiously affiliated. A church or temple provides a unique community connection. A believing community of some kind offers support and encouragement for its members. The stronger and more diverse, the greater the rewards for both the members and the community. It can offer multiple skills from many socioeconomic levels that gain from the experience of collective. If these people gather in the spirit of love and compassion to deliver others, and one another, from hardship, the world is a better place.
My prayer is that all religious institutions will re-evaluate their theology - their mission - their values - and become resources for lifting us all to a better way.