“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves” ~ Dalai Lama
What comes after peace?
Have you ever stopped to think about this?
We spend so much of our time and energy working to attain both inner and global peace, but have we ever stopped to think about what this really means?
What is on the other side of Peace?
Twice in my life, I have broken a board with my bare hand. There is one simple rule to this technique. You must not focus on breaking the board but rather on breaking through the board. This means placing your attention not on breaking the board but on seeing your hand on the other side of the broken board.
Perhaps we need to apply this technique to our quest for peace.
Several years ago, when my son was eight years old, we were discussing the possibility of creating a video game that did not include war and violence.
As the discussion moved into the possibility of world peace, my son in his infinite wisdom said,
“People are not ready for that. Without conflict there would be no plot. And without a plot, no one would know what to do.”
I was speechless.
My eight year old son had just summed up in one simple sentence why the world has continued this cycle of war and conflict since the beginning of time. I could not get this thought out of my head for weeks.
I realized that our children are being taught to live in the cycle of conflict. Not only through propaganda, video games and media. They are learning the importance of conflict in English class!
The foundation of every paper they write is that a plot must consist of an introduction, conflict, and resolution. In fact, every story that we read is based on this core principal. It is our collective story!
How do we write a new story?
I dedicated the last four years of my life to mastering a new story; not for the world, but for myself. In fully dropping a storyline that clings to conflict, I free myself to imagine a world beyond peace. As I dropped my attachment to conflict, I discovered that not only were my actions tied to the cycle of conflict and resolution, my desire for intimacy was woven into this same cycle.
Stop for a second and think about relationship. Most intimate moments come from joining together around conflict. We have a problem; reach out to a friend for comfort. The friend either commiserates by sharing her/his own similar problems or helps us find a resolution. We are comforted by these moments of intimate bonding.
So how do we create intimacy beyond conflict?
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being present at the Common Grounds of Peace Forum, with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and several world peace advocates.
I smiled when the moderator, Ann Curry, read this question,
“We focus so much attention on attaining world peace. What comes after peace?”
After four years of contemplating this very question, I anxiously awaited the response from these notable peace leaders.
One by one, each person attempted to answer. Yet, each answer simply reiterating the need for peace. Not one of these renowned peace advocates actually answered the question. Even more significant is that not one of them even seemed to realize that they were not answering the question.
Then His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, with his brilliant smile and light-hearted nature spoke. He shared that when you have peace at your core, you will be happy and you will have more friends.
“And,” he said, “everyone likes more friends.”
Simple and true.
Yes, after peace comes joy. We must start by finding this joy within ourselves.
As we release our attachment to storylines of conflict, we will discover a whole new way of connecting to others. We will discover a new way of seeing this world.
Begin by imagining a new and vibrant world. See a world that is more vibrant and colorful than you have ever before imagined. This world has unlimited possibilities and its only plot is to explore and create beauty. In this world, everything moves naturally into its most perfect form.
Meditating on this “Vibrant New Earth” immediately brings life into harmony. More than that, meditating on this Vibrant New Earth is the greatest gift we can offer our world in its quest for peace.
We are co-creators of this Universe. We must be able to see a world of joy in order to move through peace and create the world we desire.
John Lennon understood this in the 70’s when he planted the seed of intent with his song Imagine.
We have all heard the song. We have felt the vibration of peace it carries: But have we actually taken the time to Imagine?
Take a moment to contemplate these lyrics. Really let the images of a joy filled world penetrate you. Let yourself feel the world you imagine.
“Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace
You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one”
Imagination is the gateway to creation. Let’s join together and imagine a world beyond peace. Let’s co-create in this moment a world filled with playful and creative joy.
(Sheila Applegate, MSW, is a clinical therapist, motivational presenter, author and teacher. Sheila’s passion is to provide a forum for people to process emotion and integrate spiritual understanding into their daily lives. For over 20 years, Sheila has combined her broad formal training with her continual personal awakening to bring forth the message of Oneness through Divine Love. Sheila’s first book “Enchanted One: The Portal to Love,” released in December 2012, is a work of love that weaves together messages from the Divine Feminine and highlights her personal experiences in embracing the full spectrum of human emotion as a gateway to living in Oneness. www.sheilaapplegate.com)
(If you would like to contribute an article you have authored to the Guest Column, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Guest Column.”)
People all over the planet are now reexamining themselves. As the New Year has begun they are looking at themselves as individuals and deciding what changes they wish to make, and they are looking at their entire culture, the groups to which they belong, and the whole global society—and in this process they are re-thinking what it means to be human.
Do humans really need to control, and use up, the largest portion of the world’s resources, while exerting the largest level of control over the world’s nations and their people, in order to create “the land of the free and the home of the brave”? Is this what it means to be free and brave?
Do humans really need to kill each other by the thousands in violent revolutions in Syria and Libya and elsewhere on the globe throughout human history in order to create their lives the way they want to live them in nations ruled by strong-willed despots?
Do humans really need to degrade, abuse, attack and rape the females among them, at the rate of one every 22 minutes as reported in India, in order to misguidedly assert some horribly mistaken notion of male superiority?
And do we need to lie, cheat, steal, and murder on an individual basis in order to simply get what we want in life?
Do we know no better way to behave? What would it take for us to rid our species of these deplorable deportments? It’s all very well and good to say that, well, it’s only the minority among us who do these things, yet how do we explain that in the second half of the first quarter of the twenty-first century (not the third century, thank you, or the twelfth century) we are still behaving in such a primitive fashion?
Could it be—might it just be—that what we are showing ourselves and teaching our children about what it means to be human is totally opposite to what we say we want our species to be? That it is, in fact, morally corrupt and socially depraved?
It is all these things, of course, and that’s the problem. But the even bigger problem is that we can’t admit that this is the problem.
Hey, we’re doing nothing wrong here!, we tell ourselves. Sure we graphically depict violence and killing in our entertainments and games; sure we objectify women in everything from our advertisements to our religions in our culture; sure we emphasize that Might is Right and To The Victor Go The Spoils from board games to board rooms—but this has nothing to do with why rape and killing and ruthless, go-for-the-jugular competition is rampant on this planet! One thing has nothing to do with the other, and get that straight! The things we model have nothing to do with the things we do, and we’re sick and tired of hearing you wimpy liberals telling us that it’s all our Culture’s fault! We’re going to continue to sell cars with pictures of half-naked women, and to sell movies with pictures of people getting their heads blown off, and we want you to shut up about it!! There’s money to be made here!
This article is Part III of an ongoing series:
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR TOMORROW
Now in the last installment of this series we began what I have called the Carol Bass Dialogues. This is a string of commentaries based on an entry made on January 3rd by a lovely woman of that name. I picked Carol’s entry out of the dozens that were placed here because I found it wonderfully reflective of where so many people find themselves today.
Carol wrote about the challenges of moving into 2013, and of life in this post-modern world. She spoke about the fear she feels regarding the future, and about her lack of confidence as she looks ahead to Tomorrow.
“At my age to feel so much fear and uncertainty is not a good place to be,” she said. I’m not sure I agree about the Uncertainty part, Carol. I think that it is when human beings are certain about things that they become dangerous. Give me someone who is unsure rather than someone who is Dead Sure every time.
We do well to keep questioning ourselves, we do well to not have all the answers, because that keeps us searching for them. Or as Conversations with God says: “The question! The question! The answer to the question is in the question itself.”
The reason that humanity is in such a precarious place right now is precisely because we’re certain we’re doing everything right. Many people are, at least. The people in power are. They are sure that their economic system is the right way to do it. They are sure that their politics are right. They are sure that the increasing violence of society has nothing to with violence in movies, on television, and in video games. Kids understand, these are just games. People understand, it’s just a movie.
So you know what, Carol? I think it’s a good thing that more and more people now are uncertain about our future, and unsure of the way to build it. Uncertainty is the farthest edge of Creation. And if ever there was a time for our species to recreate itself anew, this is it. We can’t keep going on like this.
Carol Bass also said…
“It seems that so many have turned their back on what is right and what is wrong. The ten commandments according to the bible have become just another thing to cast off as just someone’s religious beliefs but not necessarily truth.”
Well, Carol, as you may know, Conversations with God says there is no such thing as “right” and “wrong.” It also says there’s no such thing as the Ten Commandments. Wow. What do you think of that? What if that were true? How can that be true? What implication does that have for society?
Is Carol right? Is it this kind of tossing away of our fundamental beliefs that is adding to the problem—if not causing it?
That’s next. We’ll look at that next.
Pass these articles around. Send the link to your friends. Talk about them on Facebook. Bring them up at the office. Let’s have The Conversation of the Century. We would do well to be talking about these things.
(A Note from the Global Conversation Project Team: If you join the Civil Rights Movement for the Soul and start a Conversation of the Century group in your home, Neale will personally join in the group’s explorations by live link on a regular basis. More on this as the series of articles here continues.)
Joining the progressive movement of environmental stewards who are zealously embracing and actively stepping more fully into the concept of sustainable living, Jennifer and Jason Helvenston, Orlando, Florida, set an impressive goal of producing 75% of the food they consume on the property they own and live on. And what a bountiful and lush edible oasis they have cultivated with their own two hands, a 25×25 foot vegetable garden in their front yard, brimming with succulent tomatoes, mouthwatering leafy greens, and a wide variety of other colorful and nutrient-dense produce. Their garden has grown to be so plentiful and robust that they generously share it with neighbors and friends, educating passers-by with gardening techniques and sharing the gift of their wisdom and experience freely.
Sounds wonderful, right?
Not to everyone, unfortunately.
This health-boosting, life-sustaining, crafted-with-love patch of vegetation, affectionately named the “Patriot Garden” by the Helvenstons, is on the chopping block by the City of Orlando officials for not being in compliance with the City’s code. Fines of up to $500 a day will begin to accrue if the young couple does not uproot their garden and replace it with code-appropriate traditional grass.
But these forward-thinking, earth-friendly homeowners are not going down without a fight. “The greatest freedom you can give someone is the freedom to know they will not go hungry,” said Jason Helvenston. “Our Patriot Garden pays for all of its costs in healthy food and lifestyle while having the lowest possible carbon footprint. It supplies valuable food while being attractive. I really do not understand why there is even a discussion. They will take our house before they take our Patriot Garden.”
It is alarming to me that in a day and age where the natural resources on our planet are being pilfered, the food we consume is laden with chemicals and preservatives, and, perhaps most unimaginable of all, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people in our world who die every day because they do not have a morsel of food to put in their mouth, that we would consider placing more importance on maintaining outdated zoning codes or landscape uniformity/conformity than we do to the welfare of our planet and the well-being of all our brothers and sisters.
We, as a society, are ignoring and destroying one of our most important relationships of all: Our relationship with Mother Earth.
At what point in time did it become more important to have a perfectly manicured lawn than to contribute to the vitality and sustainability of life as we know it? What levels of indifference and negligence and abuse will we allow ourselves to sink to before the results of which will ultimately cause us to agree at least on some basic level that we have got some real work to do and some significant changes to make, both individually and collectively, locally and globally, if we want to continue to rely on our planet to support and sustain us in the way we have come to expect it to?
With the legal muscle of the Institute for Justice Florida Chapter backing them, Jason and Jennifer Helvenston are launching “Plant a Seed, Change the Law,” a protest of Orlando’s law, which they say violates their constitutional right to peacefully use their property to grow their own food.
And they just may be putting a dent in some of the City’s antiquated laws as some Orlando planners have proposed changes to the code. Upon entering office several years ago, the city mayor himself, Buddy Dyer, launched Green Works Orlando with the goal of becoming one of most environmentally friendly cities in the country and established four community vegetable gardens around the city. But City officials admit the code has fallen behind the rebirth of urban gardening.
To see a photo of the Helvenston’s front-yard garden and to follow their Patriot Garden blog, click here. If you would like to support the Helvenstons and their ability to continue to grow their own food, you can sign their petition to the City of Orlando here on the Change.org website.
After all, this movement is not solely about supporting Jennifer and Jason’s rights to grow and consume their own produce; this is much, much bigger. We are at a critical juncture at this time on our earth where we all are faced with a choice, an opportunity to decide what is truly important, what truly matters. And as a natural outgrowth of that choice, if we desire to ensure that our world will continue to be an abundant and peaceful place for us and our children and their children and their children and their children to live and grow and thrive upon, we will do as the Helvenstons did – boldly declare that decision, stand up to the stagnant and rigid beliefs held within the pages of the Old Cultural Story, and “get our hands dirty” by beginning to co-create the kind of world that we all desire and the kind of world which God intended for us to have.
(Lisa McCormack is the Managing Editor & Administrator of The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team atwww.ChangingChange.net, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com)
Hi, I take your offer and have a question for you:
Since I work hard on me to except everything in my life and I am way more relaxed with whatever life throws at me… the downside is that I don’t have much motivation to achieve things, cause things doesn’t annoy me anymore so there is not much need to do something about it. But I work way under my qualification (I am a social worker and work as a support worker), and I know that I have the skills to do much more, to change things, to make a real difference, but I simply can’t be bothered. That would be okay if I would be happy like this, but I am not and want to live my whole potential. I am stuck in between… have no drive to change things since that is the only thing bothering me….
Does this make sense?
Yes, Verena, it makes perfect sense. I think the confusion comes in thinking that because you believe life is happening perfectly, you no longer have a reason, or right, to try and change what is happening in your life. I believe that just the opposite is true. Accepting all that is happening does not mean that change can’t or shouldn’t happen. It means that you are no longer giving your energy to the past, and can now give that energy to what is in front of you, that you might be able to change.
You see, once you know everything is perfect, the natural thing is to wish that understanding for everyone. When you see those who are doing harm to themselves, or to you, you should do what you can to move them into an understanding that this is not working for them. Being a social worker puts you right in the middle of doing just that! You can be relaxed and motivated to help at the same time.
Perhaps you are not letting the proper thing motivate you, Verena. Is money your motivator? Or acclaim for what you do? Or is helping others your motivator? As a social worker, I think you just might understand that this life is, ultimately, not about you. Yes, you must take care of yourself and be kind to yourself, and doing that is not being selfish. If you are spiritually healthy, then you are in a better position to give of yourself fully. And when you give of yourself fully, you can give others back to themselves more fully.
The Christian Bible says to be in this world, but not of this world. To me, this does not say to distance yourself from living. To me,it means to look at how you are living from a spiritual perspective…and doing that gives you calmness and motivation. It means to see things as they are, love them and move forward from that love to raise all that you touch to a different level.
Make sure, also, Verena, that you are not using your understanding of spirituality as an excuse to not be motivated. Spirituality does not mean withdrawing from life, it means fully engaging from a very different level of life! It means living to your fullest potential because it gives you joy to simply Be who you really are, and demonstrate who that is. If you are doing this, then you may actually find you have money and accolades, but they will be secondary things.
Lena, you get to decide what you wish to Be in this life. Just the fact that you have written this question tells me that you are questioning what you think you believe about spirituality. Continue questioning…and then decide what makes you feel…just feel. Feel good, feel passionate, joyful…engaged.
If you would like a continuing dialog on this topic, we have Life Coaches on the site who answer questions. (Nova Wightman, Annie Sims, J.R. Westen, and Kevin McCormack), or you could go over to The Changing Change Network, and talk about it with Spiritual Helpers and wonderful peer members.
(Therese Wilson is a published poet, and is the administrator of the global website at www.ChangingChange.net, which offers spiritual assistance from a team of Spiritual Helpers responding to every post from readers within 24 hours or less, and offers insight, suggestions, and companionship during moments of unbidden, unexpected, unwelcome change on the journey of life. She may be contacted at Therese@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
(If you would like a question considered for publication, please submit your request to Advice@TheGlobalConversation.com, where our team is waiting to hear from you.)
ADVANCE REVIEW: “This piece is the most comprehensive “look” at this subject I have ever encountered…extremely insightful…right on the money, so to speak…very poignant, very sincere. I suspect Neale has had another ‘Conversation with God’…thank you!”
— from the Comment Section beneath this column
I had this interesting insight this morning: We’re all walking around trying to keep each other happy. I mean, on this planet. That’s all we’re trying to do is keep each other happy, so that we can keep each other in our lives. It’s about trying as hard as we can to avoid rejection. We don’t ever want to be alone again. We never want to be rejected again, because we think that’s going to lead to our being alone again.
We were rejected once—at least, that’s what we were told has happened, when God kicked us out of the Garden of Eden—and we have felt the sting of that ever since, the loneliness of that, the utter desolation of that. I call it the “Desolation of Isolation,” and we struggle mightily to never experience that again, because there is nothing worse than feeling rejected, pushed out, left to our own devices.
This is a repeat of the birth experience, and that is an experience we have never forgotten. We remember it at a cellular level. We remember being pushed out, left there, on our own. We’ve never forgotten that, and we never want to experience it again.
So we spend or lives trying to please each other, trying not to get rejected, even in the smallest ways. Now, if it happens that in our life we have been rejected, or have been “pushed out” of someone’s life—of the life of someone we’ve dearly and deeply loved—no matter how hard we’ve tried to please them…there’s almost no repair for that. We can eventually get past it, but we can never get over it.
This is the answer to the question, “What hurts you so bad that you feel you have to hurt me in order to heal it?” It may not even be us who did the original rejecting of another. They may feel so hurt by the original rejection wherever it came from that they have become bitter and angry with life at every level.
They think, So this is what happens when you allow yourself to love somebody!, and that are determined never to become that vulnerable again.
And so they armor themselves. And in some cases they do more than armor themselves. They embody the notion of preemptive strike. They lash out at anyone who shows them kindness, admiration, or affection—and especially if anyone tries to show them love.
When I was a child there was a song I heard a lot on the radio, sung by a group named the Mills Brothers. I remember the lyrics to this day.
“You always hurt the one you love, the one you shouldn’t hurt at all. You always take the sweetest rose and crush it ‘til the pedals fall. You always break the kindest heart with a hasty word you can’t recall. So if I broke your heart last night it’s because I love you most of all.”
And it’s not always only about armor. With some people—people who have been severely or repeatedly damaged—it’s also at some level about revenge. It’s about getting back at the world for how the world has treated them. And this kind of “pay back” is indiscriminate. Everybody is in the line of fire.
Harsh remarks are made. Cruel judgments are made. Cutting comments are made. “Corrections” are offered in the most searing, blistering, belittling ways. Tones of voice and facial expressions are mocked, often right in front of the other person. And if the “target” of such verbal aggression offers the tiniest protest, or displays the smallest sign of being hurt, the aggressor says, “Oh, come on, can’t you even take a joke?”
If someone else other than the “target” calls the verbal aggressor out, asking why they would say such a thing, the aggressor inevitably responds, “Hey, I call ‘em as I see ‘em.” And if some other person says, “But you don’t have to do that. If you have judgments about others, fine. We all do. But you can keep them to yourself. You don’t have to announce it in public,” the verbal aggressor will respond, “I’m just telling the truth that no one else will say. Someone has to.”
In this, they see themselves as the Hall Monitor. They’ve been assigned the task of keeping everyone obeying the rules—and they won’t give anyone a “pass.” If they catch you in the slightest infraction, they’ll call you on it. And if you say, “Wow, you don’t let anyone get away with anything, do you…? You know, you don’t have to notice and announce every single thing that you have a judgment about,” their defense and response is: “I hold in a lot more than I let out.”
And so we see a person who feels incredibly and unbelievably superior to the world around them, and just about everyone in it. Their kindest act is to “hold in” 90% of their comments and judgments. What you’re seeing in only the tip of the iceberg.
Ouch. They must be hurting really, really bad to have such an inner experience of everything they look at in life—even those they love.
Now not every person has experienced the hurt of birth’s trauma in this way. And not every person—even those who have, like most of us, experienced some rejection in their life by someone they loved—retreats to such a place of Arm & Attack. But when you meet someone who has retreated to that place, you will know it. You will be able to spot it a mile away, because they will be caustic and mocking and sometimes even directly and harshly critical of every fault and foible of others—and maybe even of you—right in front of you.
And the question then becomes: How to deal with such a person? How to respond?
You don’t want to just turn away and allow the behavior to continue (particularly if it is directed toward you), because this creates a wholly dysfunctional relationship with the other: An Aggressor/Surrender relationship that simply teaches the aggressor that unkind words and unkind behavior is going to continue to be accepted by you. And acceptance, of course, is all that the other person ultimately wants. It is rejection that they fear! So they will continue to accept in themselves the very behavior that they see others accepting in them.
That is the supreme irony.
And so, my own personal recommendation is that we lovingly and caringly, compassionately and patiently—but very honestly and directly—communicate with the verbally aggressive person exactly how they are being experienced by you, and then let them know that every time they foist their verbal aggression on you in the future, you are going to call them on it.
And if they continue to verbally attack you or those you love when they are around you, you will simply no longer have them around you. You will leave the room when they enter, and if you can’t easily and graciously leave, you will simply not interact with them in any important or meaningful way beyond common courtesy.
Then, you will do this: When they ask you (as they surely will), “Why are you always so cold and distant with me? If you’ve got something ‘going on,’ why don’t you just come out and say it?”, you will gently respond, “I have said it, dear one, I have said it. You have simply not taken it in. So I will say it again…
“You are not safe. You are too often unkind, too often harsh and cruel and mocking of others, and sometimes even of me, and I therefore find it more pleasant to not interact closely with you. We can be friends. We can always be friendly. But if you want us to be good friends, friends who want to spend time with each other, friends who have each other’s back, who can’t wait for the next interaction with each other, you will have to change those behaviors with me. I have a little slogan that I share with my friends: DON’T ATTACK. HAVE MY BACK.”
Then your opportunity is, at first, to forgive the other person, knowing and seeing the level of pain they are in that is causing their verbally attacking behavior, then moving even past Forgiveness, right straight to Understanding. Conversations with God says that when Understanding arrives, Forgiveness leaves. That is, the need to forgive another for anything leaves us the moment that we understand how it is possible that they could have done such a thing. And that understanding arrives the moment that we see the same behavior in ourselves.
Through the years I have learned that there is nothing another has done to me that I have not done to someone else, in some form or another. This is a second way of saying, “I possess every fault I find in you. I have committed every offense that I see you committing.”
This is True Understanding. And it is revealed when an even deeper comprehension arises: Every act is an act of love.
This is important to hear, this is vital to grasp, if you ever want to move into real Mastery.
There is no emotion other than Love. Conversations with God famously said, “Love is all there is,” and this is true. Every other emotion, or action arising from it, is an expression of love. Fear is an expression of love. Anger is an expression of love. Hatred is an expression of love. And yes, even violence is an expression of love. All of these are expressions of love—distorted expressions, for sure (remember I said that), but expressions nonetheless of love, and of nothing else.
Let’s test the theory.
If you did not love something, you would not be in fear of losing it, or not having it, or not ever getting it. The thief steals something he loves because he fears not ever having it otherwise. Thus, thievery is a distorted act of love. A person becomes angry as an outcry of love that says, “I don’t want this! I want what I love!” Hatred is likewise an even more distorted expression of love. Consider this: If you loved nothing, you would hate nothing. There would be no reason to. And, at its ultimate level of distortion, violence is an expression of love for something. It is our awareness of this very truth that allows us to justify violence, and even killing—as we do on this planet every day.
Knowing that every act is an act of love—for the Self or for another person, experience, or object—greatly increases our chance of understanding other people and their actions. The challenge then becomes how to stay in understanding—or at least its forerunner, forgiveness—without moving into dysfunction.
In the case of the person who is continually verbally attacking, dysfunction is when you allow that person to verbally aggress upon you and seem to be okay with it when you’re not—all so as not to “rile” the other any further; so as not to offend the one who is offending you.,
This is the height of dysfunction, and it appears in more marriages and more relationships than you might ever imagine. It shows up in such close interactions particularly because all of us are suffering the pain of Original Rejection, and the love of something we can’t have that we dearly want: ultimately, the end of Separation forever.
Yet when we tell a verbally attacking person how you feel about their constant verbal aggressions, it will serve us to not be verbally aggressive with them, but rather, to heed the words of one of my own life’s spiritual masters, Francis Treon, who taught: “Speak your truth, but soothe your words with peace.”
These things I have experienced being shared with me this morning, by the Source of Wisdom within. I share them with you in the spirit of togetherness, as we walk side-by-side along this road that we call Life. I hope you will Share with me your own insights, below.
Hugs and love…neale.
(The above is from the new book What God Said, due out in September from Penguin Putnam, and is part of a continuing series of commentaries by Neale Donald Walsch on the Conversations with God material.)
How do I reconcile my desire to do and have more in my life with my desire to help those who struggle just to survive? I know there is unlimited abundance in the world because God is unlimited, yet for every dollar I spend on something I want just for fun, that dollar could go to someone who desperately needs it for basic necessities. I give to people on the street and to charity, and I want to do more… but I also want to live a fabulous, fun, free life, without feeling guilty about it. Please help!… Elizabeth
Dear Elizabeth… Please know that your question is one that I also ask myself as I continually work to choose the highest and best way to express Who I Am. It’s an age-old question, really, how to come to terms with this gap between the “haves” and the “have nots”.
Dr. Wayne Dyer said something very interesting once: he said he believes that if we could take all the money in the world, put it in an airplane, then distribute it evenly around the world, in a very short time it would end up right back where it started. What he was saying was, we can only embody that which we have in our consciousness, so the money would end up back in the hands of those who had it in the first place. If I have a wealth consciousness, I will continue to attract wealth. If I have a poverty consciousness, I will continue to attract poverty… unless I decide to dig deep and root out the Sponsoring Thoughts that cause it. Some people feel they are not worthy of being wealthy. Others feel that there is something inherently wrong with being wealthy. Society itself gives us many mixed signals about this, so it’s no wonder people harbor guilty feelings around having a lot of money.
However, as you said, God is unlimited and there is unlimited abundance in the world. I whole-heartedly believe this is true. I also believe that God is Omni-present and in every single person, rich or poor. So to me that means every person has the same unlimited potential for abundance that God has… but only to the degree that they know it.
Another thing Dr. Dyer said that I never forgot: we can’t feel bad enough to make someone else feel better. This is in no way meant to be a callous remark. Rather, he is rightly saying that we do much more good for others when we are in a positive frame of mind than when we are in a negative one. When we are in alignment with God and feeling great, that’s when we are open to receiving inspiration to really make a difference in the world.
At the end of the day, it is up to each of us to discern how we choose to be in relation to everyone… and everything, including money. The opposites of wealth and poverty here in the Realm of the Physical are here to offer us yet one more way to decide and to declare, to express and to experience Who We Are.
(Annie Sims is the Global Director of CWG Advanced Programs, is a Conversations With God Coach and author/instructor of the CWG Online School. To connect with Annie, please email her at Annie@TheGlobalConversation.com
(If you would like a question considered for publication, please submit your request to: Advice@TheGlobalConversation.com where our team is waiting to hear from you.)
My question deals with something that may sound trivial to others but is a serious challenge for me. I’m wondering what the spiritual approach to dealing with the harshness of winter would be? Although I have never officially been diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I’d lay money down that I have it. I am happy, content and thriving throughout most of the year until these harsh winter months hit, especially after the holidays. All I seem to want to do is stay home, sleep, and disengage from life. It truly is a struggle, until spring comes and I’m back to my old self. I’m no longer okay with feeling awful for 3 months of the year for no good reason. There’s got to be another way, right?
~ Mark, North Dakota
There is always another way, because we are creative beings and have the ability to decide how we want to experience any given thing in life. And when co-created events show up that are seemingly out of our control – like harsh, cold, long winters (I’m from MN so I can soooooo relate to this) – we get the opportunity to decide how we are going to experience them as well as who we are in relationship to it.
So now, Mark, it is your turn to decide who you are in relationship to this thing called “the harshness of winter”, and create your experience of it. Don’t worry, I’m not just going to leave you with that, I’m going to help you out with “the how” part as well.
The very first step is to manage all of these thoughts and emotions you have because it’s winter, and the very best way I know of to do this is to engage in a daily practice, one that includes meditation (of any kind, whatever works for you) and gratitude (writing down at least 10 things each day that you are truly grateful for). Those two practices alone go such a long way in quieting the mind chatter and lowering external influences, because it shifts your focus on what is good and gets you centered and connected – always a great starting point when approaching anything in life. Plus, they raise your vibration and put you in a place of desire (creative) vs. a place of lack (resistant) for the next step, which is…
Decide and express who you are in relationship to winter harshness and how you’d like to experience it. Let go of any beliefs about how you’ve experienced it in the past, or how you think it has to be, put your focus on the way you’d like it to be for you, and then express that. For example, if you decide that you’re actually okay with hibernating for winter, then get some good books and/or movies, buy one of those “snuggie” blankets to curl up in, light a candle or start a fire in the fireplace, and enjoy the comforts of home. Quit making yourself wrong for it. On the other hand, if you decide you’d like to still be able to get out and about and be active during the winter, then make it a point to schedule some social dates with friends, sign up for a class, or plan a winter weekend getaway. Engage in winter activities like sledding, skating, or building a snowman, enlist a friend to join you and use each other as accountability partners. Make it a point to connect.
I used to despise the months of January and February here in Minnesota, they were so cold and so long and I never wanted to do anything. My experience nowadays is vastly different. I decided that I am naturally one who does slow down in the winter and hibernate a bit, I spend a lot of time in my cozy house (and yes I have a snuggie blanket) with my family and watch a lot of movies. And I love it. You see, I no longer make myself wrong for wanting to do those things, I embrace it. Incidentally I also decided that I wanted to be someone who enjoys winter, and while the latter is part of what I now enjoy about it, I also make it a point to schedule outings with my family and friends, and play in the snow with my 3 year old (something I previously also despised). And what makes this a sustainable choice and expression of who I am vs. a fleeting one? Those daily practices I spoke of as step one.
Although you may never have a direct say in the weather conditions of winter, Mark, you most certainly have a direct say in how you experience it from now on. And I don’t tell you this in theory, I tell you this from my direct experience. I even look forward to winter now, something my former self of a few years ago would have laughed in your face if she heard you say it.
P.S. I’ve also heard those sun lamps are great for those dealing with SAD, you may want to consider getting one, or making a commitment to spend time outside every day it happens to be sunny.
(Nova Wightman is a CWG Life Coach, as well as the owner and operator of Go Within Life Coaching, www.gowithincoaching.com, specializing in helping individuals blend their spirituality with their humanity in a way that makes life more enjoyable, easy, and fulfilling. She can be reached at Nova@theglobalconversation.com. )
(If you would like a question considered for publication, please submit your request to: Advice@TheGlobalConversation.com, where our team is waiting to hear from you.)
As the news reels come out of the Middle East, we are seeing anything but happy images. Instead, we see images of war; bombs, guns, missiles, and leaders that stand to make sure the other side won’t last through the next morning. More often than not, our view of the Middle East is spite, hatred, and cruelty Especially when we look at Iran and Israel, we remember all the stories we’ve been told, of endless bloodshed and brutality. But is this really true? Is that all these two countries are?
Ronny Edry doesn’t seem to think so. As a graphic designer in Israel, Edry wanted to make a statement about the Israeli-Iran conflict, and decided to create an extremely simple poster. The poster showed a picture of Edry and his daughter, with the message, “Iranians. We Will Never Bomb Your Country. We Heart You.” Shortly afterward, Edry posted the image on Facebook, and got far more of a reaction than he had expected. Edry begain responding to conversations all across the world – and even in Iran. The Iranians that sent back their own posters, including “Israelis, in the end, we are all brothers and sisters” and “I love that blue. I love that star. I love that flag.” Since then, Israelis and Iranians are becoming friends – on the internet and in real life. They share, they love, and they have a new message to their government “Not Ready to Die in Your War.” Just from the actions of one man, the world is already a better place.
By expressing his highest definition of who he is, Ronny Edry began a global campaign for peace, understanding, and love for mankind. In a December 2012 TED TALK, Edry stated that “I was in the army. I was in the paratroopers for three years, and I know how it looks from the ground. I know how it can look really bad. So to me, this is the courageous thing to do, to try to reach the other side before it’s too late, because when it’s going to be too late, it’s going to be too late. And sometimes war is inevitable, sometimes, but maybe [with] effort, we can avoid it. And really, we can be our own ambassadors. We can just send a message.” And our message is our expression.
So, no matter whether we look at affairs abroad or at home, we know that ‘enemy’ is all a relative term. As teens, can we honestly hate any person, once we have seen their hearts and loved their souls? If such a bridge can be made between two of the world’s most hostile countries, then how easy is it to make the bridge between each other? With the expression of our highest self, we can link with each other, no matter how different they may be. In America, we have our own problems. Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, Liberals, all are more divisions that have created ‘the enemies’ at home. Expression of our higher selves, our higher intentions, our higher purpose, diminishes the ego’s desires and reveals the eternal truths: to live, to love, to share the wonderful experience of humanity. So send your message, express yourself, and reach out across the aisle. Defy what you’ve heard to be true, to be what you know to be true. When they see your highest message, the differences will disappear. And when they see teens do it, a single word will change the world.
(Lauren is a Feature Editor of The Global Conversation. She lives in Wood Dale, IL, and can be reached at Lauren@TheGlobalConversation.com)
Isn’t it heartwarming and wonderful to watch very young children, two-, three-, four-year-olds, who express and demonstrate their love so spontaneously and unreservedly? It’s not unusual to hear the collective sound of a harmonious “awww” from observers on a playground witnessing two new young friends sharing in an impromptu hug or unforeseen kiss on the cheek. These children live in pure awareness. Their love is unfiltered, not yet programmed, authentic, allowing them to exemplify the level and kind of love we all yearn for but have somehow forgotten how to experience.
But why have we forgotten?
At some point in our childhood, we are exposed to and told to believe in a different kind of love. This different kind of love works swiftly to reprogram what we come here already knowing: that we already ARE love. This different kind of love then works tirelessly to convince us that if we “do this” or “be that” or “do things in a particular way,” we will finally earn and be rewarded the love of another. Haven’t we all, at some point or another in our lives, yearned to hear the words “I love you”?
But what do we really mean when we utter these three words to another with an underlying hope that we will, in turn, hear “I love you” back? To say nothing of the paralyzing fear that the possibility exists that we may not be the recipient of another’s confirmation of love. Would it be possible to be in a relationship where the knowing of one’s love was so palpable that the desire and need to hear this verbal affirmation would no longer present itself?
Somewhere along the way, in an attempt to capture the essence of love in a way that makes sense, we boxed it into our language, as we do many of life’s esoteric ideas and concepts, and formulated our own version of love. We have minimized, twisted, stretched, warped, contorted, and manipulated this small but powerful phrase — “I love you” — to the point that its meaning is almost spiritually unrecognizable. We hinge or hasten our expression of love upon some need-driven expectation of what we may or may not receive in return.
Imagine a world where we did not condition our love, or the expression of it, upon an assurance and acknowledgment that we will be loved back, a world where everyone demonstrates their love freely, openly, and unconditionally, where love was not bartered over or bargained for. I have, on more than one occasion, found myself asking the question: Are we even capable of experiencing unconditional love for a period of time beyond an occasional moment or two?
And the answer I receive is that if we fully awakened to who we really are – all of us – we would never place another condition upon our love. We would not need to prove love’s reciprocity because we would already know and feel its omnipresence. Fear and doubt would never cause us to hesitate in expressing our deepest gratitude and affection to anyone, as we would no longer buy into a perceived need to self-protect; but rather we would each place into the world our highest intentions and actions, giving freely from the source of our own abundance, understanding that the entire purpose of our being here in the first place has very little, if anything, to do with ourselves…and everything to do with all those with whom we share our path.
I once saw an interview with Tony Robbins, the well-known motivational speaker, where he was asked if he gets nervous before he walks out on a stage in front of thousands of people. His answer was (paraphrasing): “If I thought that going out on that stage had anything to do with me, I would be nervous, tongue-tied, struggling to find my words. But going out there has nothing to do with me. It is about those people in the audience. I am here for them.”
That, to me, is unconditional love, giving your gifts absent the necessity to receive anything particular in return, a choice and demonstration of your Highest Self which arises out of a deeper understanding of why you are here. Unconditional love asks, “Who am I in the room to heal? And how will I let them know I am here?”
Perhaps as our world continues to shed its Old Cultural Story, the one which carries with it a “different kind of love,” we will collectively begin to once again behold the world as our playground, just as we did when we were children, spontaneously and unreservedly declaring and expressing, returning to Love and a remembrance of Who We Really Are.
(Lisa McCormack is the Managing Editor & Administrator of The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team at www.ChangingChange.net, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com)
Most people think that to meditate, you have to sit quietly in a lotus position (legs crossed, the right foot resting on the left thigh) chanting a mantra. When I learned Transcendental Meditation in the 80’s, that’s exactly what I did, 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening.
Sitting like that gave me the feeling that I was in a meditation pose meant exclusively for meditating, and if anyone were to come into the room and see me, it would be rather obvious what I was doing. But what I was doing had more to do with what was going on in my mind, than the position I was sitting in, and that, I’ve come to realize, is something you can do in any position, including sitting down drinking your morning cup of tea or coffee.
Meditation is designed to quiet your mind and put you in a state of relaxation and peace. By focusing on your breathe, your thoughts can come in and out of your mind more easily without attachment to them. This focus and concentration allows for inner transformation to take place, which can take us to a higher level of awareness.
The discipline of sitting quietly to achieve this kind of relaxation, peace, and awareness has wonderful benefits like reducing stress or anxiety, but not everyone has or makes time to sit on the floor with their legs crossed and eyes closed, but would like to realize the advantages of meditating. So, can you, if you don’t sit in a traditional meditation pose like a Buddhist monk? I think you can, and here’s how:
1. When you wake up in the morning be aware of your thoughts. Allow them to come in and out of your mind by observing them.
2. Continue being aware of your thoughts when you do your morning ritual like brushing your teeth, showering and getting dressed.
3. Make a cup of tea or coffee.
4. Find a quiet place to sit.
5. Focus your attention on drinking your tea or coffee.
6. Feel the warmth of your drink on your lips, and going down your throat.
7. Be aware of how it tastes.
8. Feel the pleasure it gives you as you drink.
9. If a thought distracts you from enjoying your tea or coffee, put your focus back on the pleasure it gives you by the taste and feel of it.
10. Be aware of not rushing to finish your tea or coffee.
11. Stay present as you drink what is left of it.
12. Take a moment to hold your finished cup of tea or coffee, feeling the appreciation and gratitude of it as a gift to being alive.
13. Get up from your chair slowly.
14. Put your cup down and begin your day with the mindfulness you feel being in the present.
Meditating is something everyone can do. Whether you’re sitting in a lotus position chanting or drinking a cup of tea or coffee, you can put your focus on the here and now by concentrating on what you’re dong with awareness. Practicing a form of meditation will help you go through the day staying in the present and remaining mindful of everything around you.
Even if having your morning tea or coffee is at your local Starbucks or Coffee Bean, you can sit there, although it may not be quiet, using this meditation technique to transcend the noise or talking around you by focusing and concentrating on mindful drinking. There’s a great story about a Taoist master teaching his sons how to meditate at a busy, crowded park. When they questioned their father as to why he was teaching them how to meditate in such a noisy place, he replied “If you can learn how to meditate here, you can meditate anywhere.”
Everything we do is an opportunity to turn it into a meditation by allowing ourselves to be in the present, and focusing on whatever we’re doing with awareness. If you’re someone who would like to meditate, but don’t feel you have time to do it, you can experience it while you’re doing something like drinking tea or coffee, and it will become more than just drinking. It becomes mindful drinking, which takes it to a whole other level. You become aware of yourself drinking your tea or coffee with clarity of mind and a feeling of inner peace.
It sure beats drinking a cup of tea or coffee in your car, rushing in traffic, trying to get to where you need to be, your mind racing everywhere other than being in the present. I call that drinking on the go, not drinking in the now.
(Posted on Huffington Post 11/14/2012)
(Ora Nadrich is a certified Life Coach with a private practice in Los Angeles, CA. Her unique, practical method helps her clients attain happiness and fulfillment by teaching them to look inward and connect to their authentic selves in order to reach their goals. Ora is also a writer, speaker and facilitator of a popular women’s group focusing on inner awareness and a constructive, alternative approach to dealing with life’s challenges. A book detailing her method will be available in 2013. In the meantime, to learn more about Ora and read her previous blogs, visit www.oralifecoach.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)