Search

Vibes UP! Spiritual Alchemy for (R)evolutionaries on the Path

Loving wisdom words and insights about the death, rebirth and life of a criminal justice professor turned transformative justice and spiritual talker and walker. We are on this earth plane to give and receive LOVE, to play and experience JOY! It's really all about the journey of the HEART and the process of becoming the beautiful Truth of who we are: LOVING VIBES IN ACTION! Elevate and vibrate your Lifeforce! Be LOVE! Namaste!

Letting Go

As the new year looms in the next week or so, it seems that now more than ever is a wonderful time for reflection.  I know it is for me, anyway.  However, for me, the past few days and weeks have been about letting go: letting go of trying to fix people, letting go of anger and resentment at other people’s behavior, and letting go of anger around people’s reactions to things I say or things in which I believe.  I have always known and understood that the only person I can control is me; the only words I can manipulate are mine; the only beliefs I can hold and mold are mine.  However, it is good to remind myself of this every once in awhile.

One of the most challenging things of late that I have had to deal with and work on letting go of are the addicts and alcoholics in my life.  I am sure this is something that many folks can relate to, as it is fair to say that likely all or us, or most of us, have an addict or alcoholic in our lives. Am I right?  I have a tremendous amount of compassion for those who struggle from addiction, whether it is with drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, sex, shopping, exercise, other people, you name it.  I have this compassion because at one time in my life, I struggled with an addiction to alcohol.  I began drinking when I was 18 years old, just after high school, and I drank A LOT in college (work hard, play hard was the ol’ motto), and then on and off during grad school.  I was what is often called a “dry drunk” in grad and law school.  I’ll save THAT for another post.  Anyway, I often drank to feel better about myself. I drank because it appeared to me that people liked me better when I drank and got drunk.  In college, it was the first time people considered me to be “cool.”  Who knew that passing out and going into black outs, vomiting on yourself occasionally, etc. was cool?  Hmmm… Anyway, I drank because it took the edge off of life.  It made grading papers go by faster and more amusing.  For some reason, run-on sentences and sentence fragments did not bother me as much when I had had a few beers or a few glasses of wine!  But the drinking took a turn for the worst, as it often does for people who struggle with addiction, and I was drinking more and more frequently and having more and more black outs, and I drove while intoxicated more and more frequently.  It is by the grace of God that no one ever got physically hurt while I was out driving drunk.  (To this day, I am convinced that I am surrounded by guardian angels.  I do not know how I’ve made it thus far without them!). 

When I hit bottom in July 2004, I was absolutely miserable.  Being an alcoholic is quite a miserable place in which to be.  I wouldn’t even say I was living because I wasn’t.  I was going through the motions of living, but I was not engaged with life. In fact, at one point, I wanted to die.  I visualized staggering to the train tracks near where I once lived in midtown Sacramento, laying down on them, going to sleep and then “waking up” in another place (I am not sure if it was Heaven, as I did not believe at the time that I deserved to go to Heaven).  Anyway, my point is that I thought about death quite a bit, as I had done earlier on in my life, in my teenage years.  I was depressed for sure, back then, but of course, many dismiss it as ‘teen angst.’  Too bad because it went unaddressed and likely manifested as my addiction to alcohol.

So, how is this all connected to letting go?  Well, once I became sober on July 31, 2004, I reengaged with life.  It was really my very first awakening; awakening out of the foggy haze of alcoholic depression.  I went to AA meetings, I began volunteering at meetings, and I began volunteering with the Sacramento SPCA.  My volunteering grew and grew the more sobriety time I had under my belt.  I have always been engaged in service at the university (Sac State) where I work, but that was more out of necessity than pure personal desire.  If you want to get tenure and be promoted, you have to play the game.  *sigh* Another post later on…My volunteering and engagement with life continues to this day.  I am engaged mostly with my spiritual center in Placerville as a practitioner (spiritual counselor) which I love.  I guess I just hope and often wish that others have the same desire and longing to be of service as I do…

And that is where the ‘letting go’ begins.  I have a few folks in my life who are active in their addiction, whether it be to alcohol, prescription drugs, gambling etc.  Part of me calls that “sad” and “unfortunate,” while the other part of me does not label it at all.  It just is what it is.  But as many of us with addicts in our lives know, the behavior is not isolated.  It affects us all, sometimes in profound ways.  When I was active in my addiction, I was not aware of this.  Instead, I thought those who tried to clue me in to my behavior and how it affected them were just being ridiculous and at times, just flat out jerks.  ‘What do they know?’ But once I got sober, I slowly realized how selfish I had been for all of those years; thinking that everything revolved around me. I often cringe when I reflect back on my behavior, but I consider it to be a gift. It is a stark reminder to me of my self-centeredness at one time in my life.  The alcoholics and addicts in my life today do affect me quite a bit.  I try not to let it bother me, but it is sometimes difficult to be still and know someone’s truth when they are harming themselves, spending all of their money, popping excess pills, etc. At times, I have spun myself into an angered frenzy, ranting that I am cutting people out of my life, not participating in family activities, etc. The only person who is affected by that is….. me.  That’s it.

So, when I step back from it, I realize that if I am to really know peace–really know it, within my soul and at the core of my being–I need to let go.  Let Go, Let God. One of the central tenets and sayings of AA.  To know peace is to really see the Divinity in each person–the sober and drunk alike.  Challenging?  Oh yes it is.  But it is a practice. “Progress not perfection” is another AA-ism.  I love that.  Sure, I know we are Perfect Divine Beings as that is our Truth.  But on a human plane, it is all about the progress we make, not about beating ourselves up for not attaining the human definition of perfection.

Since yesterday, I have been engaging in this practice of letting go and letting God flow in.  And I have felt more peaceful.  I have interacted with one of my qualifiers (an Al-Anon term, which basically means the addict or alcoholic that triggers one’s feelings of anger, resentment, etc.) and felt at peace.  In his presence, I inhaled his pain and on the out-breath, I sent out Love and Peace.  This is called the Buddhist practice of tonglenand it is something one can do at any time, anywhere.  Do it in the moment and feel the peace come over you like a gentle wave. 

I will continue this practice, especially in moments where I can feel anger boiling up.  And at times, I may just have to let that anger come up and accept that it is there and just be with it, where I am.  Learning to love one’s Self is a good starting point.  At least for me it is a good place to start.  As American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron has taught in her books and talks, start where you are.  Be gentle with yourself.  I take these thoughts to heart as I settle in to “letting go” and “letting God” in. 

This holiday season, I wish anyone who reads this post the deepest level of Peace.  I surround you in Love and Light.  It is too difficult and challenging to continue to live in anger and resentment.  The time to live in Love and Peace is now.  Then, and only then, change will come.

Namaste,

Sue

Advertisements

Finding Faith in Times of Uncertainty: The Role of Faith in my Life Today

Finding Faith in Times of Uncertainty: The Role of Faith in my Life Today.

Finding Faith in Times of Uncertainty: The Role of Faith in my Life Today

We wish a faith based on the knowledge that there is nothing to fear!—Holmes, SOM, 156.4

            In a word, Faith is the opposite of Fear.  When someone fears something, usually something external to them over which they have no control, a sense of insecurity, fear, and uncertainty overwhelms them.  This fear, though, resides in one’s consciousness, so the key to unlocking this fear-based trap is to step outside of its grip and enter into the realm of faith and trust.  When one’s consciousness resides in fear, one has sacrificed their own power to an external entity—real or imagined.  Fear crushes self-efficacy, removes the foundation underneath our feet, rendering us powerless and willing to follow anyone and anything—a political leader, the media, conventional wisdom.  It is not to say that listening to these things ultimately makes us powerless; it is living in a state of fear to which our minds, our consciousness, succumbs that renders us powerless.  When our consciousness shifts from fear to faith, we regain power and control—not external power and control in terms of domination over others, but power and control of our own lives.  Living a life of Faith and in Faith is a life lived with personal conviction, inner knowingness that all is well despite the outward appearances suggesting an otherwise form of reality.  Faith removes doubt; allows the paradox to unfold: calm within the storm; security in a time of uncertainty; peace at a time of war.  As Ernest Holmes writes in the Science of Mind textbook, “[f]aith is an affirmative mental approach to Reality” (156.1).  Living in Faith means saying ‘Yes!’ to life, no matter what.

So, if what has been written above is true, why does it seem to be such a struggle to live a life of Faith, whether it be today or many years ago?  ‘Times of uncertainty’ have always seemingly existed.  Interestingly, though, Holmes comments on how “faith is a quality unconfined to age or station” and “it may be ours today as much as it has been any man’s at any time” (SOM, 158.4).  This is reassuring to me, as it suggests that, regardless of what is going on, I can live a life in faith.  However, to be honest, for me, my faith in God and that ‘all will be well’ has wavered at times.  There was a period of time in my life when I questioned whether there could be a God in the face of such tragedies as the Holocaust, the Vietnam War, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Korean War, two World Wars, natural disasters, and on and on and on.  Was this God’s test of our spiritual mettle?  Did God have an over-arching plan with all of these what I called horrific events?  Was this some kind of sick joke?  Honestly, these were questions that have floated in and out of my consciousness over the course of my 42 years of living.  I can say with confidence that, in the past few years since coming into the teachings of the Science of Mind that my faith in God has grown immensely.  I do feel a calm sense of inner security—not all of the time, but most of the time!—when I look around me and see what can be labeled as ‘chaos’ happening.  Tragedies abound on a daily basis, but I think it really depends upon how one sees them and reacts to them.  Moreover, what Holmes says is absolutely correct: “We are not going through a harder time today, a longer or darker night, than has ever been experienced before.  It only seems harder because we have lost faith—the beacon of light” (SOM, 158.4, emphasis added).  Our reality reflects back to us like a mirror what we project; if we are coming from a place of fear, projecting uncertainty and doubt, then that is what we will see.  Our world will appear dark for it reflects the darkness that resides within ourselves.

*          *          *          *

 Each one of us walks a path; whether that path has been established prior to birth, who is to say.  I don’t know for sure.  But I do know we all have a path to walk on this earth plane, a life to life.  It is my goal to walk this path in faith, in love, in joy, and in peace, knowing that regardless of what the outside world looks like, I know in my heart that Divine Love reigns.

We were saying how very important it is to bring about, in the human mind, the radical revolution. The crisis is a crisis in consciousness, the crisis that cannot anymore accept the old norms, the old patterns, the ancient traditions and considering what the world is now, with all the misery, conflict, destructive brutality, aggression and so on. Man is still as he was, is still brutal, violent, aggressive, acquisitive, competitive and… he has built a society along these lines.—Krishnamurti, Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008), opening lines.

Recently, I watched the movie, Zeitgeist: The Movie (2007), upon the suggestion of a few people in my life who thought that I would enjoy it and gain something from it.  So, one day while I was at home, feeling ill and unable to go to work, I watched it.  In a nutshell, Zeitgeist: The Movie is a 2007 documentary film by Peter Joseph.  The film puts forth a number of ideas, some of which have a ‘conspiracy’ tone to them, depending on how one interprets them, the Christ myth theory, alternative theories for the parties responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, and that bankers manipulate the international monetary system and the media in order to consolidate power and control.  The film, Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008), the sequel to the original film, focuses further on the monetary system and advocates a resource-based social system influenced by the ideas of Jacque Fresco and the Venus Project.  Following the release of this film, Peter Joseph created an organization called The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) in order to promote the ideas of Fresco’s Venus Project.  The Venus Project culminates Fresco’s lifetime of work and serves the foundation representing his vision of a future world without poverty, crime, war, corruption, or waste.  It promotes resource-based economies, which provide for sustainability and equitable distribution of resources, and fully supporting every person in society, as opposed to a monetary-based system, which, as we know, focuses on profit, inequality, and an unequal distribution of wealth.  As Peter Joseph illustrates in Addendum, “The fact is, efficiency, sustainability, and abundance are enemies of profit. To put it into a word, it is the mechanism of scarcity that increases profit.”  The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement operate to change all of that.

Though I am still working my way through Addendum (I have gotten about ½ way through it), I have found the ideas generated and promoted in both films, The Venus Project, and The Zeitgeist Movement to be utterly profound.  The general message in all of Peter Joseph’s films is this, I believe, as illustrated in the words of Krishnamurti:

What we are trying in all these discussions and talks here, is to see if we cannot radically bring about a transformation of the mind. *Not accept things as they are* – but to understand it, to go into it, examine it, give your heart and your mind with everything that you have to find out. A way of living differently. But that depends on you and not somebody else. Because in this there is no teacher, no pupil. There’s no leader, there is no guru, there’s no master, no savior. You yourself are the teacher, and the pupil, you’re the master, you’re the guru, you are the leader, you are everything! And, to understand is to transform what is.—Krishnamurti, Zeitgeist: Addendum

Ultimately, the ideas put forth in these films offer their viewers a new way of thinking about life on our planet; a new way of thinking.  To me, this seems very much in alignment with what The Science of Mind teaches!

Despite the conspiracy-laden ideas in the original film, I took it upon myself to investigate some of the claims being made, primarily with respect to 9/11 and then the issues with our monetary system.  What I read completely shifted my thinking about certain things about how our world operates.  I had always been a person who believed what is now being called the mainstream conspiracy that the WTC attacks on 9/11 were the result of 19 terrorists who crashed two planes into those buildings, into the Pentagon, and then one was derailed to its final destination in a field in Pennsylvania.  I had heard of those claims that our federal government knew about the attacks, or possibly colluded with others in order to create a ripe scenario to get us into the war in Iraq (false flag attack), but I did not believe it.  For I felt, to believe something seemingly so “other-worldly and crazy” would just rock the bedrock of my faith in God and Country.  No way, I kept thinking, adding the afterthought, “Freakin’ conspiracy nut-jobs!”

Now, I am singing a new tune. I am not saying that I believe, without question, everything that Peter Joseph included in his movies.  In fact, I love how he tells his viewers to question everything he has shown, to do the research ourselves, and question, question, question.  Be skeptical.  Hmmm, so how can one be skeptical and live in Faith?  Interesting paradox!  I will explain how I am able to do that in a moment.  What has happened for me since seeing that original film is that I have begun doing some research.  I have begun reading different pieces of information and sources on 9/11, its aftermath, the Bush/Cheney policies before, during, and following that event; I have read documents critiquing our monetary system, how it is truly designed to support the power elite, and operates on conditions of scarcity, not abundance, and I have been reading what I deem to be a very important book, published in 2007, on the erosion of democracy as we know it, entitled “The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot,” by Naomi Wolf.

In the second chapter of that book, we read a quote by John Adams, the 2nd President of the United States of America.  Adams states:

Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men, in whose breasts it predominates, so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it (p. 35, The End of America).

Wolf’s little book packs a powerful punch, in my opinion.  She questions whether fascism can really happen in America or, worse, whether the country has already shifted towards fascism, similar to Nazi Germany or Chile under Augusto Pinochet.  If America has entered into this fascist shift as she calls it, can we know if these dangers do really exist and what can be done to restore democracy?  Wolf’s short volume presents a more disturbing look at fairly recent events in America’s history (the Bush/Cheney years, primarily) and offers predictions for a possible future in which the democracy of America is slowly eroded away and replaced with a rising totalitarianism.  In her book, Wolf spells out clearly for her readers the ten steps that all dictators take when imposing their control over a democratic society, and she sees each step being taken in America, at the time of her writing (2007).  I would add, honestly, that I also see this trend continuing even under the Obama administration. The steps are the following, taken directly from the book include:

  • Invoke an External and Internal Threat
  • Establish Secret Prisons
  • Develop a Paramilitary Force
  • Surveil Ordinary Citizens
  • Infiltrate Citizens’ Groups
  • Arbitrarily Detain and Release Citizens
  • Target Key Individuals
  • Restrict the Press
  • Cast Criticism as “Espionage” and Dissent as “Treason”
  • Subvert the Rule of Law

Upon reading through her book and reflecting on these ‘Ten Steps to Totalitarianism,’ one can easily see how easy it would be to allow faith—in anything!—to slip away.  Peter Joseph, in Zeitgeist: Addendum echoes Wolf’s ‘ten steps’ when he says the following throughout the film:

The world is being taken over by a handful of business powers who dominate the natural resources we need to live, while controlling the money we need to obtain these resources. The end result will be world monopoly based not on human life but financial and corporate power.

*          *          *

As the inequality grows, naturally, more and more people are becoming desperate. So the establishment was forced to come up with a new way to deal with anyone who challenges the system. So they gave birth to the ‘Terrorist’. The term ‘terrorist’ is an empty distinction designed for any person or group who chooses to challenge the establishment.

*          *          *

Of all the social institutions we are born into, directed by, and conditioned upon, there seems to be no system to be taken as granted, and misunderstood, as the monetary system. Taking on nearly religious proportions, the established monetary institution exists as one of the most unquestioned forms of faith there is. How money is created, the policies by which it is governed, and how it truly affects society, are unregistered interests of the great majority of the population.

I highlighted the above sentence purposefully to show just how indoctrinated our society has become in terms of its faith on the monetary system and that many people—most people, in all likelihood—are not even aware of what is happening with respect to the erosion of democratic ideals in our country.  We have become so conditioned, complacent perhaps, to accept things as they are with respect to money, inequality, “the way the world works,” that we do not question.  Anything. At all.  For to question means to rock the boat.  Rocking the boat jostles the bedrock of faith upon which our lives are built.  The jostled bedrock may crumble, causing fear.  Let’s not question.  A quote by Jacque Fresco may be the most frightening of all for most people to hear, and most might dismiss as nonsense: “American industry is essentially a fascist institution. The minute you punch that time clock you walk into a dictatorship” (Zeitgeist: Addendum).

So, how does this all tie in to the notion of faith and my continued faith in God and in my country and the democratic ideals on which it is founded?  To me, folks like Peter Joseph, Naomi Wolf, Jacque Fresco, and even Krishnamurti are all saying very similar things but in different ways.  Basically, they are suggesting that rather that turn away from world events that are happening and that seem beyond our control, we need to face them—face the uncertainty!—, try to understand and make sense out of what is happening, look within ourselves for change, and create something new, different.  I love these words spoken by Peter Joseph here in Zeitgeist: Addendum: “Our true divinity is in our ability to create. And armed with the understanding of the symbiotic connections of life, while being guided by the emergent nature of reality, there is nothing we cannot do or accomplish.”  How much closer to the principles of The Science of Mind can one get with those words?  He goes on to say that since “[o]ur outmoded social systems have broken apart….[i]t’s time to claim the unity and work together to create a sustainable global society, where everyone is taken care of and everyone is truly free.”  In other words, the possibility for positive, sustainable living exists.  It exists in each of us, in our interconnectedness with each other.  For me, then, to reconcile the seeming apparent paradox of faith and uncertainty (i.e., fascist shift, eroding democracy, scarcity society based on monetarism and so on) is that I know for certain that there is a Power for Greater Good in Universal Mind that exists, and that I can use it.  So, Peter Joseph’s ultimate suggestion?  It is up to each of us, and the revolution begins in mind, how we think about and see our world.  If we can begin to see things differently, say, as reflected in the Venus Project, then true transformation can happen.  “The real revolution is the revolution of consciousness and each one of us first needs to eliminate the divisionary, materialistic noise we have been conditioned to think is true; while discovering, amplifying, and aligning with the signal coming from our true empirical oneness. It is up to you” (Zeitgeist: Addendum).

The topic of Faith can be addressed and applied to any number of situations.  I chose to focus my discussion of faith on current events, mainly in terms of politics, our financial institutions, and a vision for a better world that allows everyone to enjoy resources equally, to be free from violence and harm, and to just allow themselves to be who they are.  As Holmes states, faith is timeless and does not come or go based on the level of certainty or uncertainty in any given time period.  Faith truly resides in our consciousness.  “Faith is the attitude of one who makes a complete mental surrender.  It can arise through a consciousness of complete abandonment” (Holmes, Living the Science of Mind, 247.3).  In other words, faith=surrender to what is and to understanding and knowing that despite what we may see happening in our word, a Higher Power and Greater Good dance behind the scenes.  I know this because of works by Peter Joseph, Jacque Fresco, Naomi Wolf and so many countless others who are working to promote a better, more free, loving, and supportive world—for everyone.  Faith is something of a paradox, but once we understand and appreciate this paradox, we can relax into it.  I have been in a bit of a mental quandary lately regarding all that I have been seeing and reading.  However, as I have processed it through in the writing of this paper, I am at peace with it all.  An ardent supporter of democracy and freedom, I will not stop speaking out for these principles.  As Holmes stated in his famous Sermon by the Sea:

Find me one person who is for something and against nothing, who is redeemed enough not to condemn others out of the burden of his soul, and I will find another savior, another Jesus, and an exalted human being.

Find me one person who no longer has any fear of the universe, or of God, or of man, or of anything else, and you will have brought to me someone in whose presence we may sit and fear shall vanish as clouds before the sunlight.

Am I that person?  Living life fully in Faith—Yes.  I am that person.  Always for peace, for love, for harmony, for a sustainable society where there is abundance of resources, enough and more for each person.  I will never stop supporting these ideas and speaking out for them.  This is my Faith and how I reckon it with all that is.  Reality truly is illusory, and the more that people can realize that and step out of fear and into faith, we will see a New World.

Namaste J

REFERENCES

Holmes, Ernest. (1938/1966). The Science of Mind and Spirit. New York: Tarcher/Putnam.

Holmes, Ernest. (1984). Living the Science of Mind. Camarillo, CA: Devorss.

Joseph, Peter. (2007). Zeitgeist: The Movie. http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/

Joseph, Peter. (2008). Zeitgeist: Addendum. http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/

Wolf, Naomi. (2007). The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot.  White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.

On Faith

Well, it has finally happened… The snow stopped falling, the sun has begun to shine.  A monumental, meteorological miracle!  I am just thrilled.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I do believe that weather is a state of mind, the sunshine on our faces does wonders for our moods and our days.  It brightens our smiles–literally–and just makes our days seem to go better.  We know the sun shines because we know the sun lies there, behind the clouds; even the gray hues above beckon our inner faith in a distant sun that lights our day for a few hours and warms our planet.  This notion of faith is an interesting one, one that is challenged quite often throughout the course of one’s life.  My faith has gone through periods of strength, glowing bright; at other times, it has waned into the darkness where nothing seems safe and everything is to be questioned for its veracity and validity.  During one of my classes for my Religious Science Practioner studies, I wrote a brief paper about faith.  I would like to share it here with you for it captures quite nicely my feelings about faith in light of some of the current challenges and crises we humans face on a daily basis.  The main text I am referencing is the primary text for Science of Mind and Spirit, written by Science of Mind’s founder, Ernest Holmes.  I have come to thoroughly enjoy his works and his perspective on Life, God, and Spirit and so much more.  But this chapter on Faith has spoken to me like no other.  Thus, I would like to share my thoughts on it with you.  Thank you for reading, my friend 🙂

Faith of a Mustard Seed…

Since faith is a quality unconfined to age or station, it may be ours today as much as it has been any man’s at any time.  We are not going through a harder time today, a longer or darker night, than has ever been experienced before.  It only seems darker because we have lost faith—that beacon of light.—SOM, p. 158.4

This week’s readings in the Science of Mind textbook on faith were incredible and had quite an impact on me and my perception of life, generally, and faith, specifically, especially how it can and does work in my life.  Though I always enjoy reading the words of Ernest Holmes, the chapter on ‘Faith’ really made sense to me.  I really “got it” when he was talking about the origins of faith, in terms of spiritual healing, how many have lost their way, away from faith, and how the everyday, human experience can once again embody faith.  The reading of this chapter could not have been more timely, in my opinion, given all that is happening in our country and around the world.  In nearly every corner of the globe, there is some kind of revolt going on—some violent, some relatively peaceful, though tense—for more fair treatment of individuals in terms of their employment, wages, freedoms, and so on.

Even here in the United States, in Wisconsin, average citizens are rising up in protest against an oppressive state government that has demonstrated itself to be dishonest in its dealings with the people.  To be specific, Gov. Scott Walker claims he wants to limit or eliminate altogether collective bargaining rights of the unions in his state in order to balance the budget, but what has been revealed is an ulterior motive.  This is nothing more than union crushing tactics.  But more importantly than that, this is a fear-driven strategy by a few the Tea-Party politicians who want to take from their own people.  Granted, my biases are shining through, as I, too, am a state employee in California.  Thankfully, I do not think Gov. Jerry Brown will act as Gov. Walker has acted, though there will be tough cuts all around.  However, I feel compassion for the people of Wisconsin and in other states where their rights to negotiate with the powers that be, to collectively bargain together to protect rights given to them long ago in order to foster a safer, more fair labor environment.

What this causes me to do is to rely, more than ever, on my faith in a Higher Power—Spirit, or God, as I like to call It—that ALL IS GOOD and that all this represents is a confluence of different energies and shift in perspective and ways of relating to one another.  I would be remiss if I did not state that my faith has been shaken at certain times in my lifetime, 9/11 being the most stark memory of shaken faith.  But these times are faith-challenging, too.  Personally, I think these challenges are good for us humans for it reminds us, or makes us remember, who we are at the center, and brings to us conscious awareness of our faith and where we are at on the “Faith-o-Meter,” so to speak.  So, though my hackles rise when I watch the news, my faith in God and Love and Spirit are renewed.  But from where did faith arise?  What are its origins and what role does it play in the human experience?  I’ve explained some of these answers already, but I will elaborate more fully below.

 

Origins of Faith

Before discussing the origins of faith, perhaps I should define it.  Simply put, faith is simply belief, trust, or confidence.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us “[n]ow faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  According to Ernest Holmes, faith—like belief and prayer—involves a mental attitude.  Put another way, it is “an affirmative mental approach to Reality” (SOM, p. 156.2).  So, from where did faith come?  Some claim that faith is the gift of God.  For example, in Ephesians 2:8, it is said that “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”  Others claim that faith arises by the direct operation of the Holy Spirit.  Faith also operates through God and is available to all, which I will elaborate upon further.  Roman 2:11 “For there is no respecter of persons with God.”  Faith also arises in answer to prayer: “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”  This is similar to Holmes, who writes that “[f]aith is a faculty of the mind that finds its highest expression in the religious attitude, but always the man who has faith in his own ability accomplishes far more than the one who has no confidence in himself.  Those who have great faith have great power” (SOM, 155.3-156.1).

Holmes goes on to say that, throughout history, there have been many instances of healing through faith.  Healing through faith is illustrated through the basic spiritual principle of belief in one’s prayers and that they will be answered.  For, as Jesus said, “it is done unto you as ye so believe.”  Put another way, “[t]he principle governing faith is, that when one is praying becomes convinced his prayer will be automatically answered” (SOM, p. 157.4).  This principle has existed throughout the ages and is well-documented in the Old Testament and, of course, in the New Testament with the works of Jesus.  Faith continues to thrive even today, but it is when we lose faith that we lose the light.

Faith’s Role in the Human Experience

From my perspective, faith plays a large role in the human experience, though it seems like today that we have lost some of our faith.  When listening to accounts of the happenings in our nation and world on the news, it seems as though we have lost faith to the darkness.  Much of our news seems to be doom and gloom these days, but there is an unwavering faith in something greater than ourselves that does exist and is very real for many, many people.  As Holmes states, “[i]n order to have faith, we must have a conviction that all is well.  In order to keep faith, we must allow nothing to enter our thought which will weaken this conviction.  Whenever anything enters our thought which destroys, in any degree, one of these attitudes, to that extent faith is weakened” (SOM, p. 159.1).  Having faith hones our spiritual conviction and prayers.  Having faith in our everyday lives allows us to live positively and affirmatively, knowing the Truth.  Faith also propels us forward in action.  Faith needs action!  “Treat and move your feet!” or “Do the footwork!” (A.A.) or what about “Faith without works is dead.”  Dramatic statement, but true.  Just as with the example in our reading about the belief in electricity and light, without making the affirmative, physical act of flipping the light switch, the light will not shine.  So, in our daily lives, faith in whatever it is allows us to move, to act, to create.  Without faith, we become inert, static beings, not living life to our full potential.

Though it can be challenging at times to maintain my faith, I hear that small, quiet voice in the background saying, “Do it anyway.”  I like that!  This is what faith gives to us, to our humanity.  Faith brings out the Spirit in us, radiating through our human skin.

Out of the tragedy of Japan, Goodness is born…

It’s been awhile since I have made a post so I thought to myself, I need to get in here and write something!  Not a whole lot has happened in my life, at least outwardly, so there is not much to report there.  Globally, yes, a lot has happened.  The great country of Japan is on everyone’s radar these days.  Earthquake, tsunami, and now potential nuclear meltdown at one or more of the 6 plants there… yes, we are all concerned, and greatly saddened by what has happened.  This morning, after letting our 3 dogs out to potty and giving them a bone to lick and chew on, I began preparing my breakfast.  I turned on the tv to a local channel just in time for the Today Show. As I stood at stove, stirring my bubbling oatmeal, tears began streaming down my face.  My jaw slowly dropped as I watched in awe and deep sadness as the tsunami waves rolled in, taking with them houses, cars, trees, everything visible.  It was surreal, almost like watching a small child dump water on top of match-stick houses, Matchbox cars, and stick people.   But this was not a game of make believe.  This was real; heart-wrenchingly real.

Some reading this may ask themselves, ‘Why would you cry?  Do you know someone in Japan who has died or who is missing?’  No, I do not know, personally, anyone in Japan.  But I cry because of my deep connection with All  Life.  I firmly believe in the Oneness that connects each and every sentient being, and as these Japanese people weep out of fear, the loss of loved ones, their homes and all of their belongings, I weep, too.  And I continued to weep silently and uncontrollably for awhile that morning, stirring my oatmeal as my tear dropped in to the bubbling soup.  I also wept silently as I drove down Hwy 50 toward Sacramento, the rain periodically pelting my windshield, cars whizzing past, the morning commute unfolding like any other day.

However, in that moment, I said to myself, “Be complacent no more.”  No more can we sit  by, struggling each day in jobs we hate, relationships that are not working, getting irritated by people in our lives.  Life is too short.  We can work a lifetime for material things that can be swept away by a wave in one second.  Yes, that can happen, and it already has.  I am happy with my life.  I have my, what I can “mad moments” which I will write about in a separate post, but all around, I am generally content with things in my life.  But this event in Japan has shaken my core; reminded me of the fragility of life.  The real significance of each of us and the insignificance, the smallness, of the daily grind and drama.  It reminded me of what is important.  So this is my message to you, and a message to myself:

Today, pause for a moment, and recognize how interconnected we all are; how important you are and how each of us is so important and valued.  Know, deep in your soul, how loved you truly are, that you bring to this planet each day upon rising the Gift of Life: You.

Today, turn to one person and thank them for no other reason other than their presence.  Turn to someone today and share with them a smile.  That smile could be the one thing that brightens their day.  In that smile, you share the Love of the Great Spirit, and that is a Perfect, wonderful thing.

Take a moment and create a list of all of the things you are grateful for.  Give thanks for the food you eat, the clean water you drink, the rain, the sun, your car, the expensive gas that you can afford to put into your car, your job, your co-workers, your partner, your child or children, the clerk checking out your groceries… anyone, anything.  Put it down.  Read it through.  Again.

I am sure you’ve all read these kinds of things before and may have even done them: gratitude lists.  But, hey, a little reminder once in awhile is okay.

What happened in Japan is tragic, but there is ALWAYS some good that can emerge.  Look at all the Japanese people pulling together to help each other, whether that involves pulling someone out of a car,  from underneath rubble, or handing out food and other supplies.  Look at the actions of the U.S. military.  The donations we can all make.  Tragic events bring the humanity out in people, but on a day to day basis, we do not need a tragedy to smile or thank each other for just being who we are.  The lesson here is to Love one another and to see how small of a planet this is.  How interconnected we are.

In writing this entry, I am reminded by a song by Melissa Etheridge, “We are the Ones.” It all starts with us; we need wait no longer.

“We are the ones, we are the ones, we are the ones/The ones that we are waiting for./ Hey every stranger you meet is a part of you/Teaching we are the ones.  Every stranger you see is a part of you/Teaching we are the ones. We are the ones, we are the ones, we are the ones/The ones that we are waiting for.”

Namaste,

Sue

 

Weather… fine tuning ones spiritual practice

Ever have those conversations about the weather?  You know, the ones where your parents will ask you, “So, what’s the weather like?”  For some people, this is just conversation filler.  For my parents, they really want to know!  At least I think they do.  I guess in some people’s lives, the weather is really important.  If your employment depends on it–say, road conditions– then yes, it would be important.  For me, the weather became significant when I bought my house.  Living in a community at almost 4,000 ft. elevation and in a home surrounded by tall trees, I knew that I needed to be concerned with things like snow, ice, and wind.  So, before we moved in, I subscribed to the Weather Channel’s online email updates.  I did this specifically because we needed to get a new heater installed, and the company said that in order for them to put in it, they needed to have our roof clear of snow.  That particular winter, Pollock Pines witnessed storm after storm.  I was beginning to think that we’d never get that heater installed!  But, lo and behold, we did.  The snow storms paused for a moment to allow the heater guys to come in and remove the old heater and replace it with a real nice one.  It took awhile, but it eventually happened.

And that is the thing about weather.  In  a way, it is like Step 1 in 12-Step Programs: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol….”  In this case, we can admit that we are powerless over the weather.  However, in admitting that powerlessness, we claim our power.  Our power lies in the choices we make, each and ever day.  Despite the weather, we can choose a peaceful, patient attitude or one that is grumpy and gloomy.  I have met some people whose attitudes change with the direction of the wind–literally.  If it is warm and sunny outside, they are cheerful, relaxed, and enjoying life.  But as soon as the rains move in, forget it.  It’s all doom and gloom.  “Ah, the weather totally sucks!”  they’ll say.  I’ll cop to it; I used to be one of those people, to some extent.  If it rained, my attitude would be a little darker than it would be if it were a bright sunny day.  But now, I am realizing that the weather has no power over me, my mood, what I am feeling, what I am doing…. There is choice in every moment, and like Ernest Holmes, the founder of Science of Mind says, “We can always choose again.”  I just love that!  So, yes, in life, there are ‘rewinds’ or ‘do-overs.’  An abusive ex-girlfriend once told me that in life, there were no second chances.  Once you did or said something, it was ‘out there,’ and you couldn’t take it back.  You couldn’t press the rewind button.  To a certain extent, that may hold some truth, but in life, there ARE second chances; and third and fourth and so one.  We always can choose– again.

The weather–like life itself–is a wonderful teacher.  I did not pay much attention to this teacher in my youth and early adulthood, as I viewed it something that influenced my mood and my life, generally.  But now, I see that the weather, like everything else around us, is made of the stuff of life.  Just like weeds in a garden that we try to eradicate.  Once we get to the point where we realize we can choose our attitude, that we run life and not allow life to run us, that we have unlimited power at our fingertips.  In the Buddhist tradition, specifically in the Four Noble Truths, they teach the notion that attachment is suffering, and the way out of suffering is detachment or non-resistance to ‘what is.’  Applying this concept to the weather, we can accept what is and then make a choice.  We realize, in that very moment that the power is with us and by not resisting the stuff of life, that we do not have to suffer anymore.  Sure, I prefer the sun over endless days of rain–or snow, for that matter–but rainy days no longer make a difference to me in terms of how I am feeling.  My choices around the day’s activities may be different than they would be if it were a sunny day, but the point is that I have the power to choose.

So, let the weather be your teacher. It is a remarkable mentor.  Patience, acceptance, non-resistance to what is, self-empowerment.  Those are all wonderful tools to have in one’s spiritual toolbox, assisting us along the journey of life.

Namaste, Sue

 

Training runs…

Okay, so some of you know that I have committed to run CIM (California International Marathon), which is held annually in the greater Sacramento area in the beginning of December.  This will be my very first marathon ever!  I think the longest I have ever run was a half marathon (13.1 miles) in March 2007– the Shamrockn’ Half.  To be completely honest here, I did not run all of the 13.1 miles… I ran about 10 of them and walked the last 3.1 across the finish line.  My partner, Sylvia, completed it with me, though I think she could have actually finished it, running all 13.1 miles.  I am always sure to add that .1 in there because, hey, we runners want to account for each every mile, down to the 10th of a mile!  It matters, okay 🙂 Since that half marathon, I had not really done much running.  In mid-late 2007, I had turned to cycling as my exercise outlet, while still occasionally going to the gym for strength training with the weights.  I decided to join the local Leukemia and Lymphoma Team In Training to do my first century– the Tour de Tucson (which actually turned out to be 109 miles, but hey, who’s counting, right? Yes, you know… ME!  Those extra 9 miles really mattered to my brain and my butt!).  That was a phenomenal experience, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Though I no longer keep in touch with any of my cycle team members, I recall each of them fondly as I reflect back on those training and fundraising days.  I really challenged myself on so many levels.  Even thinking about it now, I am still in awe that I raised over $3,700 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society AND I road proudly across the finish line, sore butt and all!  It was an experience I will never forget, and if anyone out there reading this is considering a challenge like this (there are others: Susan G. Komen 5K run for breast cancer and the NorCal AIDs Ride (cycling), to name a couple), I encourage you to do it.  You CAN do it!  You do not have to be a star athlete, or even athletic for that matter, to do it.  Just a little heart, soul, and some grunts and Gu and you’re on your way 🙂

Just after I finished Tour de Tucson and the hype and celebration had calmed down, I embarked on another adventure into real estate, where I bought my first house in Pollock Pines, which is at 3,980 ft. elev.  The story of this house will be saved for a separate blog, but pointing out the elevation is relevant to this post on exercise, running, and cycling specifically.  Moving to the mountains, albeit beautiful to the eyes and clean air to breathe, has not been too enticing to me in terms of exercising for the first few years we lived here.  I had done some cycling around the area in Pollock Pines and in Apple Hill (Camino), but to be honest, it was not enjoyable.  I mean, sure, the scenery is spectacular of course, and who wouldn’t enjoy a pit stop at Boa Vista Orchards in Placerville for some freshly made apple cider, a tri-tip sandwich, and/or fresh fruit?  What gets to me is the perpetual ups and downs of the ride.  It is nothing like the long rides along the American River Bike Trail, that’s for sure!  (plus riding up here makes the AR Bike Trail seem like nothing)  I will say that riding up here is good for hill and resistance training, but for everyday rides, no way.  Sylvia says she enjoys the hills.  I say, rock on, er, ride on, sista!  I will do it, but not often.  I’ll have to swallow the ever-increasing gas prices and just truck on down the hill to the Sac State Aquatic Center or old town Folsom…. which is fine with me.

As for running, well… recall that I have not done much running at all since March 2007.  I never did any running up here in the ‘Pines until last year.  But hey, it is a new year, now 2011, and I have begun a different kind of journey– the running kind.  After being inspired by my friend Carolina and her participation and completion of CIM this past December, I decided, that day, to commit to training and completing it in 2011.  For my birthday, Carolina, Tamara, and Liezel bought my entry into CIM as well as some essential gear for my training journey: a new water bottle waist pack with a place for my phone (I can now run with tunes and still not have to wear those stupid ear buds.. does anyone else out there despise those things? Anywho…), socks, and vaseline and blister band-aid thing-ies.  Now that I am all ‘geared up,’ my training has begun in earnest.  I started out slowly, doing my usual loop along Pony Express Trail, which is about 4 miles round trip (up and back).  I have now expanded that to 7 miles!  I even took Brady, our golden retriever, on my recent 7 mile trek this past Saturday, and it was a magical run…. He did so well, trotting along beside me and in front of me, and then he passed right out when we got home that night!  Sylvia wanted to know how soon we could both do that again.  We’ve been dealing with his nuisance barking for awhile now… another issue for another post.

This week, we’ll be having a lot of rain and maybe some snow, so the outdoors running will be a little tricky.  I am thinking I will have to go ahead and brave the elements and get out there and do it.  Considering that CIM is in December each year, one never knows what the weather will be like.  Some years, that day has been absolutely gorgeous: cool with sun; other years have seen torrential downpours.  It’s kind of like life: expect the best, prepare for the worst.

Probably the best thing about this whole running experience though has been how it has influenced my spiritual growth.  Running for me is meditative.  It takes me out of any mental rut I might be in and puts me into my happy place.  I can meditate on a mantra with each step, whether it be ‘Om’ or whatever, and the run just seems to zip on by.  Being out in nature also does wonders for my soul.  With each step, I feel God’s presence around me, supporting me as I move along my path.  I connect in Oneness with the trees, shrubs, everything around me.  It is a wonderful feeling.  I am feeling stronger each time I venture out, and I am enjoying my runs in the hills for now.  I truly enjoy the physical challenge each run brings, and I am looking forward to more.  Bring it!

Namaste, Sue

Hello world!

Hello everyone! Well, this is my very first adventure in blogging. I am not sure if the world needs yet another blogger, another blog, more things to read on the internet, but I have been thinking, what the heck?!  As many great thinkers, past and present, have written, it does us and others no good to live our lives small.  So, here I am, living out loud, living my life boldly, by putting stuff out there: my thoughts, my musings about my life in Pollock Pines with our now 8 animals, and my path from the darkness of alcoholism to the light of sobriety, and a slow, loving, compassionate process of spiritual awakening.  On that, to me, enlightenment, or a Great Awakening, is more or less a journey of the soul, not a final destination.  Many of us are a part of the wider evolutionary process of expanding out our consciousness.  But, to be honest, I do not think we reach an end point.  It is kind of like death.  When we die, we begin again, and again and again and again.  At least that is how things look on my map of the world.  Not right, not wrong.  It just “is.”

So, to tell you a little about who I am and why I have decided to create this blog…. Okay, well, for starters, I am a Professor of Criminal Justice in the Division of Criminal Justice at California State University, Sacramento, where I have been teaching since 1999.  It was my first real job, and I have decided to keep it.  I left for a brief period of time to try out what life was like in an “8 to 5” State kind of job, but that was not working for me.  I am a “color outside the lines” kind of grrl; I like my flexibility, and I do not appreciate having someone breathing down my neck, more interested in whether I am 1 or 2 minutes late than my progress on the project.  So, I left that after 6 months to return to university life where I felt more at home.  I love working with students, seeing them grow and learn, and then finally graduate.  Sure, the job market is not “all that” right now, but things are cyclical, as I believe, and the jobs will be there when the time is right for the graduates to enter them.  I also enjoy working with my colleagues in various capacities, whether it is research, personnel issues, assessment, our graduate program, and on and on and on.  Though it can be stressful, university employment has served me well, and the bottom line is that I really have no complaints about it.  Well, I COULD complain, but what good would THAT do?  Well… hey, maybe that is why I am blogging! Haha!

Right now, I am on sabbatical for the entire Spring 2011 semester, and I have to say… why did not do this sooner??!!  We faculty can apply for a sabbatical after 6 years, so typically, once one becomes tenured and then promoted to Associate Professor, one will go on sabbatical.  Well, my version of that sabbatical was to take a professional leave of absence and work for the great State of California, to which I alluded to above.  I worked for 6 months as a Research Analyst II for the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, beginning in February 2005.  I had recently become sober in July 2004, and thought for some reason that this job was “my destiny;” it was “meant to be.”  Well… not exactly.  Suffice it to say, it did not work out, but I learned A LOT: about myself, about working in a state office, being a state employee, what “8-5” feels and looks like (not my kind of ‘art’), and I learned all about methamphetamine and other drugs, drug treatment programs and databases and the like.  So, all in all, it was a great learning experience.  I also met some really wonderful people in that department and in my office!

For this current, and real, sabbatical, I am working on a manuscript which I plan to submit to a peer review journal sometime in the spring.  It focuses on animals as victims and their absence from the field of victimology and past and current victimology texts.  More on this later in another post, but that is what I am working on… for the most part.  With this sabbatical, I also have time for other pursuits, more spiritual in nature, which I am truly enjoying.  I will also elaborate on this in another post, but I am currently taking courses to become a Licensed Religious Science Practitioner, or spiritual counselor, which I find to be a more accessible term.  I feel as though that this is my true calling in life and did not realize it until sometime in April 2009 when I began searching for a place, a church or center, I could call my spiritual home.  After some searching in the El Dorado County area, I found Mountainside Center for Spiritual Living, and ever since coming to that Center and meeting the minister and people there, my life has not been the same.  I am now on their Board of Trustees and volunteer every Sunday in some capacity.  I just love it.  The “religion” is Science of Mind (or Religious Science), which is a faith, a philosophy, and a way of life according to founder Ernest Holmes.  It supports the notion of Oneness, that we all may be on different paths but are headed to the same Source (Many Paths, One God).  Anyway, for me, this teaching works, and I will speak more about it in future posts, primarily how it is helping me in my daily life.

Well, I guess this is it for now for a welcome post!  I wish all of you well and bless you on your path.  My goal for this blog is to get out, in hypertext (I almost said “on paper!”), a lot of thoughts I have had and currently have about all sorts of things and, hopefully, have a dialog with others who are interested in what I have to say, are on a similar path, or have some words of wisdom to offer me.  I truly am a student of life as well as a teacher; we all are, every one of us.  There is something to be learned from each person we meet, from each experience we have on a daily basis.  I am looking forward to this new adventure in cyberspace!

Namaste, Sue

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑