You can change one simple habit and it may change your whole life. It doesn’t cost anything, plus you’ll end up eating less and feeling more energetic. You may even have less anxiety and a new appreciation for life and the world.
The next time you eat, count how many times you chew each bite before swallowing. Most people chew their food only a few times before swallowing which results in gulping down entire meals in just a few minutes. Swallowing large chunks of food can cause you to eat more, have digestive issues, and be tired after eating! Slow down and chew more.
The Macrobiotic lifestyle recommends chewing your food up to 100 times; however, I have found that nearly impossible. Try chewing your food 30 or 40 times before swallowing. The food should be completely liquefied and mixed with important digestive juices before it reaches your stomach. By the time you finish a bite of food, your dining companion may have eaten 3 or 4 bites.
Chewing more enables you to eat less. It takes your brain 10 – 20 minutes after filling your stomach to realize that it has had enough food. Chewing your food 30-40 times will slow down your eating and your brain will tell your stomach it is full while it has less food in it. Chewing more and slowing down will enable you to eat much less food and feel the same satiety.
Chewing more helps alleviate digestive issues. By chewing your food completely and liquefying it before swallowing, you have mixed the proper digestive juices completely with the food before allowing it to enter your stomach. This means your stomach will have less work to do. Many times this can relieve digestive issues such as pain, bloat, gas, and other nasty annoyances.
Chewing helps you feel less tired after eating. Since your stomach has less work to do, you will have more energy after eating that can be devoted to other things. If you frequently feel overtired after eating, simply chewing your food can be a big boost to your energy level.
Slowing down will allow you to enjoy your food more. You may not have even paid attention before to the beauty, taste, smell, or texture of your food. You may not have observed how it makes you feel, and how much you can enjoy a fresh strawberry or a cup of green tea. Once you appreciate your food and what you are eating, you may start eating healthier food.
Slowing down and enjoying your food may cause you to relax and think about slowing down and enjoying life more. You may realize that life isn’t about rushing around, getting lists of things done, and stressing yourself out anymore. The simple act of slowing down at meals may allow you to extend the principle into your whole life. May you will slow down and enjoy your children, or enjoy talking to a friend instead of rushing off to work.
Chew your food more. From the simple act of chewing your food, you may eat less, feel better, enjoy life more, and get healthier. You may end up noticing and nurturing the beautiful people and things that were right there all the time.
(Beth Anderson is a certified Holistic Health Coach and founder of the Holistic Health Hotspot in Evansville, Indiana. She is also the author of “The Holistic Diet: Achieve Your Ideal Weight, Be Happy and Healthy for Life.” Beth received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Beth is helping people improve their lives through nutrition and lifestyle education, health coaching, and by helping others to learn to make informed choices. Beth continues to spread understanding of the connection between body, mind, and spirit and encourages all to discern the truth about food, consumer products, environment, and life choices. You can find Beth on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/HolisticHealthHotspot or email her at email@example.com)
I have never been a fan of flying. As a matter of fact, I downright dislike it. There is probably not a better example in my personal life of a time when fear-driven thoughts crowd out clarity and dominate and distort my reality.
What if they forgot to tighten a bolt?
What if there is a leak in the cabin pressure?
What if we hit a flock of birds? Hey, that’s actually happened before!
I once said to my husband while boarding our flight, “If I could just look into a crystal ball and be assured that we will make it safely to our destination and land without incident, then I could relax and actually enjoy this.”
Of course, those “crystal ball” assurances I am looking for never appear, just as they never appear in any of my day-to-day happenings. What I do recognize, however, is the mere fact that I desire an assurance for a particular outcome only serves that aspect of me that doesn’t understand the much broader interweavings of what is going on here in this process of life. And, oh, how quickly my Mind is willing to buy into the story that events must unfold in a certain way, one that protects or preserves or prevents, which only perpetuates the false thought and, thus, belief that I have something to lose.
How many times in life do we hold back or avoid certain situations because we think we have something to lose? And what exactly is it that we believe we will no longer have if we do a particular thing? Or if we enter into a new relationship? Or if we depart from an old relationship? Or if we change careers? Or write that book? Or if we demonstrate who we really are to everyone…all the time?
What I have come to know for myself is that in those moments when I come from a place of fear, I guarantee my own loss. Not the loss of what I think I might lose; but rather the loss of something much more significant: the loss of my Self. In an effort to avoid a perceived loss, I actually cause loss to occur — the loss of experiencing my Soul’s desire. It is only when I include the perspective of my Soul that my field of vision expands to see that there is nothing to lose except that which I deny myself in the process of thinking that there is.
If I withhold my expression of love in my relationships for fear of rejection, even in the smallest of ways — a look, a gesture, a kiss, a touch, in words — I am losing the opportunity to experience myself as an unconditionally loving being. If I avoid challenging tasks in my career for fear that I might “fail,” I am losing the opportunity to experience the full spectrum and outreach of my capabilities. And if I fear flying in an airplane, afraid of losing my life, I am causing myself to lose the opportunity to know myself as an eternal soul.
And those, to me, are the greatest losses of all.
(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.)
Part 2: Clockwatching 24/7
7:50. 8:51. 9:47. 10:43. 11:45. 1:15. 2:11. 3:07.
These may seem like arbitrary times, but for me, they hold a much deeper meaning. For these are the times that I always seem to be watching for, as they are the times my classes end. And if I’m not counting down the remaining hours of school, I am counting down the remaining days until Friday. Most high school students follow the exact same time-watching trend, but is it doing us a favor?
No matter it be in school, work, or anything else equally as monotonous, we all find ourselves constantly (consciously or unconsciously) clockwatching. We have become fixated on time itself – not because it is the unified pulse of the world, but rather it is something that needs to come to pass. The trend of clockwatching has not been a recent occurrence, but has served as a reminder of how very little time we are spending in the present moment. By choosing to be distracted by the hours upon the clock, our Old Cultural Story has us involved very passively in life. Instead of submersing ourselves in the present time, we wait and watch for it to be over. Virtually, the now moment has become so obscured by the distraction of future plans that we are fully disengaged.
Psychologists, scientists, and even economists have now begun to recognize the negative results of the disengaged passive role that clockwatching has brought about. In the workplace, there appears the growing trend of ‘presenteeism’, in which employees show up for work, but are so unfocused and disengaged on the task at hand that they become anti-productive. In the article by management author Daniel Sitter, “Presenteeism: The Hidden Cost of Business”, the disengaged worker has cost businesses an average of $250 billion per year. Simply due to ‘life distractions’, nearly 75% of the workforce is not engaged in their work or their career. Literally, presenteeism suggests though we are being physically present, we are not being emotionally present or being spiritually present. In this state, we are absent from the present moment. If in business or if in life, we are losing out, and losing time.
So, can we be present in the present moment? We can, if we decide to engage ourselves – in our tasks and in life itself. One of the largest engagement campaigns occurring today is actually occurring at the high school level. The University of Indiana’s 2010 High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE) found that nearly that nearly 82% of students wish to be more creative in the classroom, and that over 65% of students prefer “discussions with no clear answer”. Hmmm, students want to be challenged, want to expand their consciousness, and want to spend their time in school discovering (not being told) about Who They Are and What Is their World. We don’t desire to always clockwatch, but without the creative presence, interest starts to wane. High School students want to be engaged, we just need the environment where our engagement can thrive. If we choose to be a creative force, in the classroom or elsewhere, we can be far more than just the sum of our parts.
In a single day, there are approximately 86,400 seconds. That means that there are 86,400 times in a day to enjoy life – instead of watching it pass by. Will you be passive, will you wait and watch? Or, will you engage, and create a reason for life in every single second? Make your choice. Time’s ticking.
(Lauren is a Feature Editor of The Global Conversation. She lives in Wood Dale, IL, and can be reached at Lauren@TheGlobalConversation.com)
Well, I turn 50 today. March 6, 1963, sure doesn’t seem like that long ago! And it certainly doesn’t seem possible that I have spent 50 years in this body. It doesn’t feel 50, it doesn’t think 50, and, wink-wink, I am sure you will all agree that it doesn’t look 50! But the math doesn’t lie, and so today I celebrate my 50th year in this physical form. I have been reflecting a lot these past few months as this day approached. You know, if you read my column, that it has been an especially challenging time for me personally. It has also been a time of great growth and, as hard as this was to see, a time of great change…that is, change that I now see as change for the better.
Change is always for the better, whether or not you can see it in the moment. Once again, that has become true for me. Part of the reason it was hard for me to see was because it was unwanted and unexpected change. But even that, maybe especially because of that, the changes that have happened in my life have created the conditions for me to step into a larger and grander version of myself. While it hasn’t been easy, I spent the last half of last year using all of the tools (and I do mean ALL of them) that I have gathered since I began looking for deeper meaning and understanding of this thing called life. The best news is, they worked! And that has presented me its own Birthday gift.
Having wisdom and using your wisdom are two different experiences. Knowing how to move through challenging times does not guarantee that you will use your knowledge during those challenging times. Knowing vs. using knowledge have two very different outcomes. I am clear that I would not be writing to you this very day without the latter.
So many gifts have been made available to me as a result of all that has happened. I am happy to say I chose to use the same tools I would offer anyone moving through challenging times. Like for example, I didn’t go it alone. Instead, I chose to ask for help. I didn’t reject my feelings, but rather I embraced them even though they were very painful. I didn’t stuff my emotions with any kind of addictive substances or behaviors, but rather expressed them when they came up. I didn’t hide from the truth, but rather faced it and eventually accepted it, because not to do so was more painful. All of these things, and more, were the pieces of wisdom that I have gathered along the way, moving through other tough times, gathering strength and courage to face the next. Perhaps the greatest gift was the knowing that no matter what, I would be all right. Even though I didn’t feel it, I somehow knew that it would all work out. Even though my life as I knew it was falling apart before my eyes, I also knew that I could pick up the pieces that I really wanted to keep and let the others fall away with grace.
Yes, the last many months have been challenging and wonderful all at the same time. I experienced what the book “Happier Than God” offers, that happiness and sadness are not mutually exclusive; that is to say, it is possible to be happy and sad at the same time. Contemplate that for a moment. Consider it for a while. The implications of this statement could change everything for you. Think of a time when you may have experienced being happy to be sad. I am experiencing it right now. I am happy that I am sad about the losses I am moving through. It speaks deeply of who I am and who I am choosing to be. This experience has made it clear to me that I love deeply, and that when the loss of a loved one occurs, the experience I feel is a direct reflection of who I really am…love. And I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
A new day has dawned in my life, or perhaps it has just dawned on me that all I have been through has prepared me well for the new life now presenting itself. I am not only ready for the new challenges that I face, but I am excited to “Carpe Diem,” or “seize the day”!
I have been presented with so many opportunities that I am grateful for. Gratitude is a powerful part of the recipe for transforming any experience, especially ones we might perceive as negative. All painful experience comes from a point of view or thought that “this shouldn’t be happening right now.” When you argue with reality, reality wins. The opposite possibility is, of course ,“this should be happening right now,” especially because it is. Accepting reality doesn’t mean you give up the ability to respond to it. Who you choose to be in relationship to the events in your life will create your experience and reality of them. So if it sucks right now, look in the mirror and ask, “How is this response working out for me?” If it sucks, would you be willing to change your mind, point of view, or perspective? Would you be willing to consider the possibility that more will be revealed? The revealing will change everything, including how you hold this experience currently. I hope you will, for that willingness and decision to do so will set you on a path to peace.
I am grateful to say that I am at peace today. I am grateful for all that has happened to me in my 50 years here. I look forward to what I will co-create with the universe in the next 50…and beyond. I am excited about the opportunities that have presented themselves to me as the space has become available for these new things to arrive. I understand now that only when there is space available can the new opportunities become realized. I can now accept these new things in my life because I have accepted the reality of what was and have done my part to create a reality of peace, rather than pain, in relationship to all of it.
Pain is mandatory only because it is instructive. Pain shows you the paths in life that do not work for you. Pain is the opposite of truth. It didn’t say “know the truth, it will cause you pain!” No. Truth sets you free! Pain presents the opportunity to see the truth in its opposite form. All I had to do was turn it around and move in the other direction.
There are only two choices in any moment and only two possible outcomes from those two choices. Both are instructive if you only pay attention. One is a path to peace and the other is a path of pain. The choice is always yours which path you take. When you find yourself on a path of pain, turn around, go the opposite direction, make a change in course. Pain is God and Life attempting to show you that you are going the wrong way.
It reminds me of my favorite scene from “Planes Trains and Automobiles” when the two unlikely travelers (John Candy and Steve Martin) end up unknowingly driving down the wrong side of the interstate. A panicked couple on the other side are yelling at the two, “YOU ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY!” which, just before the predictable disaster strikes, our two sarcastically say, “How would they know where we are going?” Don’t ignore your pain! Life sends you the signs if you are going the wrong way, and pain is one of its greatest tools.
I am happy to say I am not in pain on this day, my Birthday, and that I am paying attention to the signs. I hope you are, too! I hope you are feeling the joy that is you today, for if you are alive and reading this, you have much to be happy and grateful for. We all do. If not, consider reaching out. That is why I am here.
Finally, I would like to share one of the best Birthday gifts I have received this week. It came in the form of an opportunity to share my experience, strength, and hope with another. My work is one of my greatest joys in life, and it certainly is what I came here to be and do this time around. Over the years of counseling and coaching, I have received many of these kinds of expressions, which have always far outweighed any amount of financial compensation I might receive. All have touched me deeply, causing me to clearly know that what I am up to is exactly what I was meant to come here and do. I am grateful every day I get to be there for another. And when they find the answers within that change everything, well, there are no words.
Here was a recent note posted on the website built especially for the book “When Everything Changes Change Everything” (www.changingchange.com):
“I reached out to the Changing Change network 2 days ago trying to connect with someone who could help me understand some of the things that I am going through in life right now. I was taking Neale’s advice in When Everything Changes Change Everything to “change my decision to ‘go it alone’”. I sent an email requesting info and just a few hours later I got a reply directly from JR Westen, the lead Coach on the Changing Change site, as well as on Neale Donald Waslch’s site, and the Director of the Conversations with God Foundation. He suggested that I call his office and schedule a free consultation with him to try to find a solution to the challenges I am facing. In his email, he wrote, “I have yet to meet a problem that did not come with a solution and a gift.” So, I scheduled the consult anxious to find out what he would think the “gift” is in my situation.
The next day JR called me at the scheduled time and at first I was a bit apprehensive about telling my story to a complete stranger but before long I realized for sure that he was not going to judge me but was there to listen and help me see some things that I was missing. I am the type who seldom discusses her problems with others but I felt extremely comfortable opening up. I felt like I was talking to a friend. He really gave me some much needed insight and helped me to look at the issues from a healing point of view. In fact, before my conversation with JR, I felt that I was experiencing what could very well have been the worst day of my life; after the conversation, I could not remember that feeling and I was able to have a great day.
I will continue to connect with the Changing Change Network and use the opportunity for coaching whenever I need an impartial nonjudgmental look at my situation to help me see my way through. He understood that I cannot afford to pay the consultation fee right now and is still willing to work with me.
I am writing this post to share my experience so that all of you out there who are going through adversity and want to connect for life coaching or grief counseling or whatever will not be afraid to reach out to the coaches at Changing Change. This is one of the most powerful services offered here, take advantage of it.
These are the kinds of Birthday gifts I really love and appreciate. This is why I am so excited, especially about what my life is presenting me right now. This day was made possible by the pain of yesterday and the inevitable growth and healing it birthed. I am reborn this day anew and full of gratitude. Not a bad 50th Birthday gift! No, not bad at all…
(J.R. Westen, D.D., C.A.d, is a Holistic Health & Spiritual Counselor who has worked and presented side-by-side with Neale Donald Walsch for over a decade. He is passionate about helping individuals move beyond their emotional and spiritual challenges, transforming breakdowns into breakthroughs. His counseling and coaching provides practical wisdom and guidance that can be immediately incorporated to shift one’s experience of life.
As is true for most impactful teachers, J.R.’s own struggles and triumphs inspired him to find powerful ways of helping others. Sober since June 1, 1986, J.R.’s passion for helping individuals move through intense life challenges drove him to also specialize in Addiction and Grief Recovery.
J.R. currently shares his gift of counseling & coaching with individuals from around the world through the Wellness Center, Simply Vibrant, located on Long Island N.Y. In addition, he operates “Change House” a place where people come to transform. He also works with Escondido Sobering Services and now serves as the Director for the Conversations with God Foundation. He can be contacted at JR@CWG.ORG or JR@theglobalconversation.com, or to book an appointment, write firstname.lastname@example.org.)
…what we are “up to” on this website is creating a Civil Rights Movement for the Soul, freeing humanity at last from the oppression of its belief in a violent, angry and vindictive God, and releasing our species from a spiritual doctrine that has created nothing but separation, fear, and dysfunction around the world.
I see us replacing this dogma, finally, with an ethos of unity and cooperation, understanding and compassion, generosity and love.
If you would like to know more about this movement, please visit this online newspaper often, read each of the articles, and join here in The Conversation of the Century. That conversation is about more than just idle talk. It is about creating and moving energy. Every major shift on the planet was ignited by a conversation. When many people talk about the same thing at the same time, they become very powerful. What we envision here is a global movement that jumps from computer screens to living rooms all over the world…and then from living rooms to the streets, to churches, town halls, city councils, state legislatures, national assemblies, and global seats of power. We see The Global Conversation as a catalyst in changing the world.
At the very least, it will get the stagnant energy of humanity’s evolution moving again. Right now, nothing is working. None of the systems we have put into place to make our world function better are working. Not our political systems, not our economic systems, not our ecological systems, not our educational systems, not our social systems, and not our spiritual systems. None of them — not one of them — has produced the outcomes for which we have collectively yearned. In fact, it is worse. They have produced exactly the opposite. They have generated outcomes we say we don’t even want.
This is a sure sign that something is amiss. There is a systemic problem. And something has to change. That’s where we come in. It is time now for us to re-write Humanity’s Cultural Story. You can begin to do that, joining with others, right here on this website. (See the copy block just above.) And then, join in The Conversation of the Century. You can do that on this website as well. And you can start a Global Conversation Group in your home. And then, get ready…
…we are about to change the world.
What did you know of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died Feb. 5? What is your estimation of his time in power?
I am a 28-year-old Indian woman. I am quite attractive and a very loving person but have never been in a romantic relationship. For some reason, the people whom I have fallen for have never reciprocated my love. In India, marriages may also be arranged by your friends or family. I really want to have love in my life, but I want it to come naturally. I do not want to look for a partner or go for an arranged marriage. I am really confused as to whether I should make a conscious effort, like joining a matrimonial site, or do I wait for love to come by? I really can’t imagine getting married to a person whom I do not love…please guide.
First of all, thank you for reaching out, for listening to the voice of your soul and being brave enough to ask if there is another way to find love that is more in alignment with who you really are, as well as how to find it. The answer to your question of whether or not to go actively searching for it or wait for love to come by is…neither. Instead, here are two other approaches that I’m going to offer you today, Pilar:
One of the greatest messages from Conversations with God is that if there is something you’d like to experience in life, the quickest way to do so is to give it away, give it to another. The very act of doing so is a statement to the Universe that it is yours to give, and in the actual giving of it, you are indeed experiencing that thing you said you wanted to experience. For example, for someone who wants to experience being rich, sharing what little they do have with someone who has even less can produce a tremendous experience of being rich. Now, in the situation of intimate love, this can be kind of challenging. It doesn’t necessarily mean going around telling everyone you see that you’re in love with them (unless, of course, that serves you). Instead, it means fully expressing all kinds of love – to your family, your friends, your pets, your fellow humans walking their own path. It also means giving yourself the experience of being in love with you. Treat yourself with the same love, appreciation, respect, kindness and tenderness that you would your significant other. Take the time to express that love to yourself, through loving thoughts, words, and deeds. You see, what happens when you do this is that your focus is shifted towards love itself, versus the perceived lack of it in your life, and via the process of creation, you can’t help but call forth more of it into your life.
The second approach is an approach that I would offer, no matter what the external challenge or problem, is to first of all stop worrying about how to make it happen (in other words, get out of the energy of the problem, as no solution is ever available in the same energy the problem exists in), and to go within and focus on your own alignment. Neale calls this your “soul’s agenda” and offers the powerful question, “What does this thing (problem, choice, situation, etc.) have to do with my soul’s agenda?” When you are living from your soul’s agenda, or living from a place of alignment, everything else quite literally comes together. It works itself out. In other words, love finds you, you don’t have to find it. By the consistent attention to and raising of your own vibration, you open the door to allowing all of the things you desire in life to come through, and, in the process, you get to experience all of those feelings you thought you could experience only in the having of something external to you. You get to experience them right here, right now. It’s incredible.
So what does that look like, this alignment thing, or how do you tune into your soul’s agenda? By focusing your attention inward, through meditation, journaling, practicing daily gratitude, whatever you resonate with that allows you to connect to that source within. But here’s the key: do so consistently. Sometimes even the simple posing of the powerful question “what does this have to do with my soul’s agenda?” or even “what would my soul do here?”, without consciously trying to answer it, is enough to shift your attention, and the answer appears right exactly when it needs to.
Try the above approaches, Pilar, and much love to you in the process.
(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.)
Television news network CNN is reporting that North Korea has threatened to “nullify the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War.” North and South Korea have technically been at war since 1953, the news network report said. “The 1950-53 civil war ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty,” the report went on.
Why is North Korea being so bellicose? The following article contains more background on this question than many people may feel interested enough to read, but for those who choose to spare a few moments, there is an opportunity to come to a larger understanding of just what is happening in our world — and to explore this secondary question: Is there any way that The New Spirituality, and the messages in Conversations with God, could be applied in this situation to bring an end, at last, to humanity’s apparently insatiable need to bring itself to the brink of hostility, and, if nuclear weapons are used, straight into Mutually Assured Destruction?
IN-DEPTH NEWS ANALYSIS
So let’s look at what is going on here. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency says that North Korea cites “U.S.-led international moves to impose new sanctions against it over its recent nuclear test,” according to the CNN report.
North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test on Feb. 12. That test met with widespread international condemnation from the global community of nations, which has desperately been attempting to limit the spread of nuclear weapons for decades, using a combination of cajoling, pleading, negotiation, threats of economic sanctions, and sanctions themselves.
North Korea insists that it has the same right as any other nation which has already conducted its nuclear tests and developed its nuclear weaponry, to do the same thing — and that no one is going to stop it.
In order to try to stop it, many of the world’s nations — including, notably, North Korea’s own military ally in the Korean War, China — have condemned North Korea’s position, saying the proliferation of nuclear weapons must end, not continue, and certainly not be expanded, if humanity is to have a safer world — to say nothing of a world that even survives.
North Korea has indicated since the Feb 12 test that this latest nuclear blast was “more powerful than its two previous detonations” in 2006 and 2009, and that it used “a smaller, lighter device, suggesting advances in its weapons program,” the CNN report said. (The full report may be found here: http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/05/world/asia/north-korea-armistice-threat/index.html?hpt=hp_t2)
The United Nations Security Council has since met “to consider a proposed resolution to authorize more sanctions against North Korea,” CNN’s news report continued.
And so, the back and forth sallies continue and the sabre rattling goes on, leaving millions around the globe wondering: What will it take to bring peace to this world at last? Others ask: What does North Korea want that it feels it can’t get any other way? Is there nothing that can bring an end to all this?
The difficulty increases exponentially when nations can’t even sit down and talk about these questions. Just to keep so-called Six Party Talks going has been a major (and failed) ordeal. As Wikipedia reports:
“The six-party talks aim to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns as a result of the North Korean nuclear weapons program. There has been a series of meetings with six participating states: South Korea, North Korea, China, United States, Russia, and Japan. These talks were a result of North Korea withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003.
“Apparent gains following the fourth and fifth rounds were reversed by outside events. Five rounds of talks from 2003 to 2007 produced little net progress until the third phase of the fifth round of talks, when North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear facilities in exchange for fuel aid and steps towards the normalization of relations with the United States and Japan.
“Responding angrily to the United Nations Security Council‘s Presidential Statementissued on April 13, 2009 that condemned the North Korean failed satellite launch, the DPRK declared on April 14, 2009 that it would pull out of Six Party Talks and that it would resume its nuclear enrichment program in order to boost its nuclear deterrent.North Korea has also expelled all nuclear inspectors from the country…However, it pledged a no-first-strike policy and to nuclear disarmament only when there is worldwide elimination of such nuclear weapons.”
There is more. Wikipedia reports that “Cheonan-Ham, a South Korean patrol vessel with 104 people aboard, sank after an unexplained explosion tore through its hull while conducting a normal mission in the vicinity of Baengnyeong Island at 09:22 p.m. on March 26, 2010. An investigation conducted by an international team of experts from South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Sweden concluded that Cheonan was sunk by a torpedo launched by a North Korean Yeono class miniature submarine.This incident caused rising tension and antagonism between North and South Korea.
“On November 23, 2010, North Korea shelled South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island. Two South Korean soldiers were killed and a dozen injured after North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells onto a South Korean island setting more than 60 houses ablaze and sending civilians fleeing in terror. These two incidents stood in the way of holding Six Party Talks during this period.
“On 29 February 2012, the United States and North Korea announced a ‘leap day’ agreement that the U.S. would provide substantial food aid in return for the North agreeing to a moratorium on uranium enrichment and missile testing and a return of IAEA inspectors to Yongbyon, leading to a resumption of the six-party talks. On 16 March 2012, North Korea announced it was planning to launch a satellite to commemorate the late founder Kim il-Sung‘s 100th birthday, drawing condemnation by the other five participants in the Six-Party Talks, casting doubt on the “leap day” agreement.
“On 6 April 2012, North Korea’s rocket (satellite) launch failed to enter into orbit, and was declared a failure by the United States and South Korea. In addition, the launch was described as a provocative test of missile technology, and the United States subsequently announced the suspension of food aid to North Korea.”
And that’s roughly where things stood until the latest North Korean underground nuclear blast on Feb. 12. So why is North Korea insisting on being so bellicose?
First, a bit more background, again from Wikipedia: The Korean peninsula was governed by the Korean Empire from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, until it was annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910. After the surrender of Japan at the end of World War II, Japanese rule ceased. The Korean peninsula was divided into two occupied zones in 1945, with the northern half of the peninsula occupied by the Soviet Union and the southern half by the United States. A United Nations–supervised election held in 1948 led to the creation of separate Korean governments for the two occupation zones: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north, and the Republic of Korea in the south. North Korea and South Korea each claimed sovereignty over the entire Korean peninsula, which led to the start of the Korean War in 1950. An armistice in 1953 committed both to a cease-fire, but the two countries remain officially at war because a formal peace treaty was never signed.Both states were accepted into the United Nations in 1991.
North Korea is a single-party state under a united front led by the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP).The country’s government follows the Juche ideology of self-reliance, initiated by the country’s first President, Kim Il-sung. After his death, Kim Il-sung was declared the country’s Eternal President. Juche became the official state ideology, replacing Marxism–Leninism, when the country adopted a new constitution in 1972.With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, North Korea lost a major trading partner and strategic ally. Combined with a series of natural disasters, this led to the North Korean famine, which lasted from 1994 to 1998 and killed an estimated 240,000 to 1,000,000 people.North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il adopted Songun, or “military-first” policy in order to strengthen the country and its government.In 2009, references to Communism were systematically removed from the country’s constitution and legal documents altogether.
North Korea has been described as a totalitarian, Stalinist dictatorshipwith an elaborate cult of personality around the Kim family and one of the lowest-ranking human rights records of any country.As a result of its isolation and authoritarian rule, it has sometimes been labelled the “Hermit kingdom“,a name once given to its predecessor, the Korean Empire. In 2011 North Korea had the lowest Democracy Index of any nation on Earth. North Korea is one of the world’s most militarized countries, with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel. Its active duty army of 1.21 million is the 4th largest in the world, after China, the U.S., and India.It is a nuclear-weapons state and has an active space program.
That’s the end of the Wikipedia entry. Here is the entry reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-party_talks
Now, as to my personal analysis…
I have visited the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, and worked with others, including friends in South Korea, to lessen tensions between the two nations. With Dr. Ilchi Lee — a South Korean author and the founder of a variety of mind-body training methods, including Dahnhak, Dahn Yoga, Respiration, Brain Education, and DahnMuDo — I jointly formed the New Millennium Peace Foundation, and we each made a significant financial contribution to creating a major peace initiative, with a public event in South Korea a number of years ago, at which former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore was the keynote speaker.
Dr. Lee and I wondered if there was any way that a new spiritual and philosophical foundation for not only the Korean Peninsula, but the world entire, might produce an environment in which North and South Korea (and all the world’s people) might be ultimately united. I wonder that still today, and so does Dr. Lee.
From the North Korean point of view it would seem that (and this is just my analysis) it has wanted from the very end of the Korean conflict (the state of war itself, as we have earlier explained, has never ended, but the active, ongoing military conflict has) to be recognized as an equal among nations, having the same status and the same rights as other nation states. While it has been admitted to the United Nations, it has never really gained this respect and full recognition from the United States (whose soldiers fought side-by-side with South Korean soldiers to prevent the complete takeover of Korea by the northern communists), and it not forgotten that it was thwarted in its attempt to claim the entire Korean Peninsula as its own in the early Fifties.
Now, in the second decade of the 21st Century, it continues to insist on parity with other nations, and that it why it has said that it will embrace complete nuclear disarmament only when every other nation does. Of course, those nations holding an arsenal of nuclear weapons (chief among them the U.S. and Russia) have no intention of completely disarming themselves, saying that their nuclear weapons capabilities are used as deterrents.
North Korea says it is developing its nuclear weaponry for the same reason, as a deterrent to what it claims to be belligerence toward it by the United States. It likewise feels it has a right to launch satellites and to test missiles that have the capability of carrying nuclear warheads.
There are observers who have said that North Korea’s divergence of the biggest share of its resources to its military build up has been at the expense of its people, huge numbers of whom live in abject poverty. My own analysis of this is that, having eschewed communism, the North Korean government was found a way to serve two ends simultaneously: (a) increase its military might (including nuclear and missile capabilities); and (b) provide income for millions of its people (as noted above, it has the fourth largest army in the entire world, and a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel) without seeming to be providing them direct government assistance and violating the formal North Korean philosophy of self-sufficiency.
In other words, not all that much different from the Works Progress Administration created in the United States in 1938 (renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA). This was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency of Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects,including the construction of public buildings and roads. In much smaller but more famous projects the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. The only difference between this and North Korea’s undertakings is that North Korea has used its government to employ people only in fields associated with the military, but the concept is the same: use the government to provide employment for the masses of unemployed by serving the needs of the nation as the government defines them.
The question I am considering today from a spiritual point of view: What understanding or message of The New Spirituality as exemplified in the Conversations with God dialogues could have any effect whatsoever on such seemingly intractable situations?
I think of two off the top of my head. One is so hugely general that it does not seem as though it could be immediately applied, barring an absolute miracle in terms of a change of thinking by all the players in the game. The other is so specific that it could open the door to instant healing of the rifts that cause the divisions analyzed in the many paragraphs above.
The first message of CWG that I wish we could overlay on the entire global circumstance of this day (not just the Korean situation) is the statement: We are all one. The embracing of this spiritual truth as a functioning physical expression would produce a radically new and different geopolitical reality overnight. Short of an invasion by creatures from outer space, however, I am not sure what could produce such an instant transformation in humanity’s thinking about itself.
No, this is a long-term shift in self-conceptualization, and can best be achieved by educating the next generation through the presenting to our children of a New Cultural Story about humanity. This is the work now being done by The School of the New Spirituality, whose CWGforParents team is creating a 52-week School-in-a-Box program, giving parents around the world the tools with which to share the most important concept of Conversations with God with their offspring — including, of course, the concept that We Are All One.
The second approach emerging from The New Spirituality could, on the other hand, produce surprising and even strikingly rapid results. It is the asking of a single, simple question — but with the pure and honest intention to listen to the answer, and then to actually do something about it.
I would be asking North Korea, “What hurts you so bad that you feel you have to be able to hurt others in order to heal it?” North Korea says it wants economic sanctions lifted. The U.S. and other countries say, “Only if you stop escalating the arms race by continuing your development of nuclear weapons capability.” Some have alleged that North Korea in the past has said, “We will,” and certain sanctions have been lifted, only to result in North Korea moving ahead in a clandestine way to continue to develop its nuclear capability. In other words, the allegation goes, North Korea can’t be trusted to keep its word.
Publicly, North Korea says it will discontinue nuclear military development “only if the U.S. and the other nations completely disassemble and dismantle your own nuclear weapons capability.” The U.S. and other nations say, “This is our deterrent to global war. We can’t and won’t do that.” And there it is.
Unless it’s not. Unless the U.S. and other nations did, in fact, ever enter into a Global Disarmament Accord. The chances of that happening seem to most observers to be virtually nil. But we will talk more about this in our next post, as we address a larger question about our world: Can The New Spirituality change anything at all?
For now, your input and comments about the current events on the Korean Peninsula, and possible solutions, are invited below.
I recently had the most extraordinary and unforgettable experience of attending a Krishna Das kirtan in the city where I live. I have always been a fan of his resonating voice and soulful music, but this was the first time I immersed myself in the experience of his gift.
Krishna Das led a very large room of people from all different walks of life, and every age imaginable, through two-plus hours of his extremely powerful and deeply moving chants, taking a moment here and there to explain the meaning of some of the Sacred Sanskrit words to those of us in the audience who didn’t know, although hearing the translation didn’t seem to matter much to me. I knew – I could actually feel – that what I was chanting in unison with this room full of people was Holy and meaningful.
Krishna Das (born Jeffrey Kagel) is one of the best-selling chant artists of all time. He was recently nominated for Best New Age Album at the Grammys and performed “Narayana” (which means Supreme God) live at the awards ceremony – yes, the Grammys! — demonstrating in another exciting and very real way that our world is changing and growing and moving towards a greater acceptance and embracing of new ideas, new concepts, and new ways of doing things…a New Cultural Story.
If you have the opportunity to place yourself in the space of a Krishna Das kirtan, please consider gifting yourself with an experience that will enhance whatever spiritual path you are on and wherever you are on it. And if you are unable to participate in a live performance, I would urge you to add one or two of his CDs to your playlist, such as “Heart as Wide as the World” or “Heart Full of Soul.” Visit the Krishna Das website where you can purchase any of his music and read more about who he is. Reading his life story only adds more layers of love and gratitude for the Divinity of his music.
(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.)
(If there is a book, movie, music CD, etc. that you would like to recommend to our worldwide audience, 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: “Review”)