Saturday, August 14, 2010

Strength and Love

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. - Lao Tzu

I think the story of Tiger Woods is very important and needs to be studied from more than the perspective of a person who achieved greatness and threw it away by thinking himself infalable. It needs to be examined as more than just a sports hero who rose and fell. More than a marketing disaster. More than a tragedy of failed family values. Tiger seems to have a lesson for everyone.

The most important lesson, in my opinion, has to do with the effects of love. Tiger was once so loved that people watched golf just to see him play. People admired him. They loved the story that they thought was real. I can only imagine the energy that used to be on the course while he played. The love that people extended to him, I believe, was what made him a super star. It must have started as a little boy and he learned how to absorb that love and use it to give him focus and courage.

Now that he has lost that love, he can't perform the same way. He is no longer a beloved hero. He is ridiculed by comedians. The energy on the course while he plays must be very different now. People whispering, watching, gawking, judging, sniggering. The massive waves of love that moved him are gone.

Such is the power of love and the withholding of love.

I once read a unique perspective on Satan in a book about angels. It was kind of scary for me, being raised in a southern Baptist background. I say it is unique because it is different from what I was told as a child, yet I have also read that this is a Judaic view of Satan. This perspective was one that spoke of a strange gratitude to Satan. It painted the picture of an angel who agreed to do a job for God, to be the keeper of the dark side, to be the initiator of temptation. He knew that he would be reviled and feared, but his love for God was greater than his desire to be loved. God wanted us to have a contradiction to love so people would choose the path of love rather than just complacently accept it. The author's point was that everything is a creation of God, and that we have choices because God wants us to have choices. In this story, Satan performs his duty of dangling the dangerous temptations of the material world and we decide whether we want to please our ego or please our God.

It's an odd thing to think about. Anyone with any smidgen of fundamentalist religion in their background must get a little chill at thinking kindly on Satan. I am not convinced that there is a being in the form of a dark angel who tempts us, beyond being a metaphor, but it is an interesting concept to ponder.

People who achieve greatness and then lose it in scandal probably don't see themselves as performing a service for mankind, but they really do if we pay attention. If we look away from the judgments and the ridicule of such people and just learn from what happened, we can transend many of the trials of living in the material existence. We can mentally put ourselves in their shoes and feel the pain, feel the loss, know the effects, and make a choice to never fall victim to similar temptation. I think it is like the lesson of Jesus in the desert - that we don't have to really experience a mistake to know what it will do to our lives.

Perhaps we can find a new way to love Tiger Woods. Maybe not the way he wishes he could be loved. But we can appreciate the sacrifice he has made during his time here on earth, having to live the rest of his life under the shadow of so many lessons we can all learn from.

I'm sure most people have heard a version of this:
For to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom men have committed much, from him they will ask the more. Luke 12:48
And, then there is this simple quote, which sums up it all up for me.

If you want to be loved, be lovable. - Ovid

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has, the more one wants.
- Benjamin Franklin

Of all the opportunities for learning that our world has to offer us while we are here, I think the issue of “money” offers the most diverse and controversial aspects of all. It seems like people put an awful lot of time into thinking about it, for as many reasons as there are people on this planet. Each of us finds call to think about money in several different ways, unless one is fortunate enough to have someone trusted to think about it for them.
It’s all so strange.
Sometimes when I think about the complexity of the money issue, I feel like I am contemplating something ridiculous.
Really, it is just a pretend stage production we all play. There was a time on this planet when it wasn’t a factor. We have allowed this macabre tune to suck us in and we dance to it as though we have no choice. The world we have built around us makes it too difficult to exist without playing a role, so most everyone gives in.
~ ~ ~
I worked late last night and when I got home I turned the on TV to a favorite show, sat down with my laptop and was reading email when I just keeled over on the sofa and fell asleep. I woke up after midnight. There was a popular televangelist giving an intimate seminar on 7 Laws of Success and he actually sounded interesting, so I listened for awhile. I like to hear different viewpoints because it opens my mind. What he was saying sounded kind of New Age, kind of Law of Attaction-ish, which was fascinating considering how fundamentalists have feared and reviled those areas of thought.
Some of what he was saying sounded incredibly wise for a televangelist. I continued to listen, took some notes even, because I was getting excited that all these people in his audience, all his fans, were getting this great information from a source with a history of narrow minded fundamentalism. These are the very people with whom I could never feel comfortable discussing this way of thinking coming from my sources and foundations. The people who listen to this guy would plug their ears against Louise Hay, Deepak Chopra, or Eckhart Tolle. These folks think Oprah and Marianne Williamson are bad people.
He continued in his charismatic and charming way and after awhile he was talking more and more about money. The focus was no longer about finding your vocation in service to God and the world. It was about money. How to amass more money. How he acquired money. He was basically, in a sideways kind of way, telling people that if they pledged to send him a certain amount of money they would become magically debt and mortgage free because he had a special message from God. I was so disheartened. All these people, worried so much about their fragile souls that they’ll only listen to someone who systematically invokes their particular chosen dogma, getting a small amount of sensible Law of Attraction philosophy only to have it used to lure them into a trap. There is the possibility, however, that it might just open the awareness of a few people who would normally be closed off to a different speaker providing much of the same information (excluding the send money part.) Maybe some of them will discover the power of intention and learn to just flow. Teachers come in all forms.
~ ~ ~
The money issue, though. Why do some people feel like they must have so much? Why have we created a world where money rules so much of what we do? Our biology dictates that we have to participate in a system that has been building to this point for thousands of years, at least in some capacity, because we have to eat and have shelter. Those basic needs are capitalized upon by others who think it is okay to amass large fortunes of money and hoard it. The important thing about money: if it isn’t flowing, it isn’t doing what it was created to do. A multi-millionaire with most of his money socked away in Switzerland is just another man with a mortal body housing a soul that doesn’t benefit at all from millions of dollars. It’s all an illusion.
Is there a point to all this ranting about money? It’s so complicated. I only know that I wish it wasn’t the way it is. I’ve managed to get by with a decent life just by trusting the universe and because I was lucky enough to be born in the United States. I have to keep a watch on my thoughts so I don’t get drawn in to the money dance. But I dream of a gentle life where everyone has what they need and feels equally important. It could be that way. The world is a beautiful and abundant place with way more than enough for everyone to live out their time here in peace and comfort and amazement. I’m doing my part by living with a plan for increasing simplicity. If we all work together, humans can build a world where money is no longer something to fear or revere; a world of love and safety.

Imagining that world is the first step.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Making Time

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once. – Albert Einstein

Modern American life eats up a lot of our time. I’m sure that with the invention of electric washing machines and telephones and automobiles and microwaves and computers and… stuff, there were people thinking, “Wow, this is going to give folks more time.”

So what happened? How did we use up the extra free time? What happened after Grandma didn’t have to scrub on a wash board and ring out the water with rollers before hanging up the clothes? What happened after a chicken dinner no longer meant catching the chicken and going through a disgusting process of preparation before it made it to the table? What happened when going somewhere no longer meant working with a horse? Or walking where we had to go? It really hasn’t been that long ago.

I think about such things because my life is really busy during the week. I try to preserve the weekends, but sometimes that gets bitten into as well. I’m always plotting and scheming how I will manage to get exercise and meditate and make things and write. Every now and then I have committed the mistake of openly voicing frustration over finding the time for those favored things. A polite and gracious person will say something like, “I completely understand. I pray you can work that out.” But there is another reply that used to affect me like the sound of fingernails scraping across a chalkboard. Maybe the whole purpose of this experience was just simply to teach me to stop grumbling. That reply is, “You have to make time.”

That one phrase used to unleash a gnashing little dragon inside of me and I had to use my most powerful techniques of self control to subdue the creature. I do try to steer away from people who use that kind of response technique, but when you work in a public service job you can’t always pick and choose the people with whom you spend the day.

The fact is, making time, in the conventional sense, really just means taking time from something you already do and devoting it elsewhere. If your responsibilities are such that making time for something extra will eat into something you aren’t willing or able to give up, or even trim, then you have a problem. A problem you might be inclined to grumble about, upon which someone who is overwhelmed with their own problems might overhear you and say, “Well, you just have to make time.”

So, what’s to be done? About the time issue, that is? People who teach the Law of Attraction would say that you have to stop focusing on what is dragging you down and concentrate on how you want things to be. That takes a lot of mental fortitude, I must say, but I’m thinking maybe they are right. After a few unexpected and impromptu encounters with some “make-timers,” I decided that the universe was speaking to me through them. Sometimes a slap in the face snaps you out of trance better than a gentle nudge.

With recent budget cuts in the school system and the longstanding practice of assigning extra jobs to the librarian, my work has become increasingly more difficult to get finished within the allotted contracted time frame. (In other words, I do a lot of overtime.) Complaining and feeling sorry for one’s self definitely has no positive effect on a situation like that, except maybe to make one ill and get them some time off that way.

I decided to try the Law of Attraction philosophy here, thinking that maybe all it might do would be to settle me into just accepting ‘what is.’ And, that would have been okay with me. It’s not that LOA is something new to my system of thinking. It's just that I never thought about using it in this particular way.

I started repeating the affirmation, “I have more than enough time for all of my responsibilities and for myself.” Most recently I began incorporating subtle action* into my routine. I’ve teeter-tottered back and forth so much between despondency and my positive affirmations for the past couple of years that I’m sure the universe has been confused. But, in the past couple of weeks there appeared a small glimmer of hope, so unbelievably unexpected that I could not have imagined it. Three of my greatest difficulties at work have been affected. One is gone completely, the other is now changing, and the third is approaching change. I can now see the universe making time for me.

I’m quite sure that the people who ventured to tell me I just need to “make time” were not in any way referring to using the Law of Attraction, but they were unwittingly speaking to me from a higher place. I just had to figure it out.

I have indeed discovered the secret to making time.


*subtle action is a term created by Dr. Deepak Chopra to describe his method of using LOA

Monday, February 15, 2010


People understand me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me. – S. Kierkegaard

Long ago, I was assigned to read a book in college called Tristram Shandy, by Laurence Sterne. One of the major discussion points about that story was Sterne’s use of the “hobby-horse” to describe a private obsession someone might have about which they tend to go on and on in a conversation. I believe, if memory serves me, that the characters in the book may have had only one hobby-horse each, perhaps to simplify the issue. Sterne was greatly influenced by the works of John Locke, who believed that every person lives in his or her own little world, communicating and interpreting everything based on their own thought obsessions. He saw this as why people having conversations frequently feel misunderstood, given they are talking about something from two totally different perspectives. I think he also attempted to explain why people get so offended in personal debates, how they think their hobby-horse is being insulted or attacked when it hasn’t even being considered. In Tristram Shandy, hobby-horses tend to give people something to focus on in order to keep from looking at themselves. They might even begin to see it as themselves.
I didn’t really care for the story itself, but the idea of the hobby-horse stuck with me all these years. I was reminded of it yesterday.

I was having a pleasant discussion with a family member whom I love dearly, and whom I consider my most treasured friend. We can have spirited debates and always come away still devoted to each other, which we have been doing since I was a child. One of the wonderful things about conversations with family members and old friends is that they teach you how to recognize when a hobby-horse has entered the room. There is a feeling that takes over the conversation when one of those blasted things pokes its nose in. Personally, I think people have multiple hobby-horses and I think they ride different ones with different people.

My dear sister was somehow led to get on her medical hobby-horse. She knows a lot about and thinks a lot about diseases, medical procedures, and tests. She goes to doctors when she has a feeling that there is something wrong. There is nothing the matter with that, if it is what she chooses to do. I, personally, tend to try and diagnose myself and I use Reiki and positive affirmations, herbs, exercise, or whatever seems appropriate to rid myself of bothersome symptoms. I’ve rid myself of many problems in just that way.

I know that most of the world, faced with a jumpy feeling in the chest, or a severe pain in the shoulder or knee, would immediately make an appointment with a doctor. I don’t do that and I’m sure that a majority of the medical professionals out there would say that it’s an insane way to behave. I guess that’s why one of the hobby-horses people saddle up and ride hard around me is the “doctor” issue. I don’t mind really. I don’t argue or tell them that I think they are wrong – I wouldn’t dare! I just tell them I won’t go to a doctor unless I think I have to, and that’s that. The conversation ends until they decide to get on it again.

Now, I am trying to think, what are my hobby-horses? Do I have more than one and do I use them to stand in for who I am? Do I get on and ride whenever the opportunity arises? Do I ever find myself embroiled in some frustrating conversation because someone is riding their hobby-horse and I’m on mine and we just don’t understand each other at all? Seems like maybe the answer to that is yes, though not so often anymore.

I know that I’ve had times in my life when I’ve had thoughts about not being understood. It probably happens every day. Half the time people don’t understand simply because they aren’t listening – they’re busy thinking about what they want to say next. Truly, there are only a few instances when it is absolutely necessary to make people understand something, such as in cases of emergency, issues of planning, legal defense, instructional issues, and practical instances like that.

Maybe releasing the need to be understood is the key. Maybe if I don’t ever care to defend my point of view, if I don’t ever think to try and convince someone to believe the way I do, I can be rid of the hobby-horse forever.

How wonderfully good and free that feels to imagine that!