Category Archives: Love

Weekly Meditation: Live for yourself

A few weeks ago I saw the following on twitter:

And I realized that this was the perfect quote for a meditation.

We often worry too much about others.  I know society has made us think such a thought is anathema, but it isn’t.  Rational interest is not some evil, it is the middle ground we should all seek.  It is place between the two evils of hedonism (the denial of the rights, needs, and concern of others) and altruism (the denial of the rights, needs, and concern of self).  Rather it is the middle ground of rational self interest that say you should “love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

So this week you should consider yourself first.  Do what you want and don’t worry about if it annoys others.  Now don’t go out of your way to piss people off (that would still be letting them dictate your life, although with a slight amount of more pettiness*), just act like you would if they weren’t there.  Now if someone says that what you are doing is annoying them, then the polite thing is to reach a compromise…but your wants, your needs, your desires should be respected.  Do what you want to do.

The goal of life is to reach Happiness and Enlightenment and no one should harm you in your pursuit of those goal.  Those two goals should be your first concern (although you make sure you’re not harming anyone else on that trip).

Remember you’re a child of God, you have the right to do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.

*Now if you do what you want, like say, write blogs about what you believe politically, and get enjoyment out of watching people who disagree with you get infuriated, bully for you.  But it should first and foremost be because you enjoy the writing and expression of ideas…not just solely to piss people off…unless you to make a larger argument and win people to your side is to show how foolishly your opposition reacts, but again your first purpose is to win the argument not to piss them off as an end itself.

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From Republicans and Reincarnation: Part of the Ethical Argument for Capitalism

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul vs. Peter giving to Paul

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.” —Winston Churchill

            Let’s look at two hypothetical systems.

System 1:

Peter is rich.  Very rich.  The government takes what it considers a reasonable amount of money (which has nothing to do with what a reasonable person would consider a reasonable amount).  Let’s say 31 cents on the dollar.  The government then takes that money and spends about 18 cents, of every dollar Peter makes, on Paul.  So what is the point of this system?  Supposedly it’s to help Paul improve his station in life.  We take money from Peter because Peter can afford it.  So now let’s looks at this.  Through the questions we established earlier.

  1. Is the action leading to a positive, neutral, or negative end?
  2. Is the action unethical or ethical?
  3. Is the benefit this action is providing removing a material or spiritual obstacle, or both?
  4. Is this a long-term benefit or short-term benefit?
  5. Is the action benefiting a large number of people or a small number?

I’m going to take these in reverse order, so bear with me.  This is hurting at least on face value a smaller portion of the population (not really, Peter as representative of “the rich”[1] is actually a fairly large portion of the population) to help a larger portion of the population (again not really, Paul as representative of those on the dole is a relatively small portion of the population[2]…but we’re going to play in the opposition ballpark for the moment).  So at least the argument (no matter how flimsy it is) is that few people are hurt and lots of people are helped.

But how are they helped?  Is this a long-term benefit or a short-term benefit?  When we talk about this we have to think about what Paul will do with that welfare check.  Now I couldn’t find figures on how many welfare checks are spent on capital investment or college tuitions, but given the fact that until the 1990’s welfare reform the number of people leaving the dole could not be described as a mass exodus, I think it’s a safe assumption that not much of that money was being used to better Paul.  Quite frankly it’s human nature.  People value things by what they sacrifice to get it, by the amount of work that goes into it, by what had to be done to earn it—thus money just thrown at you without strings has little value.  As such it will be spent on things of no lasting value.  Yes there are numerous examples of people who climbed their way out of welfare, and I applaud these people for the strength of character to fight human nature’s more lazy and apathetic tendencies, but no one can be foolish enough to say that these few examples are indicative of the whole—nor ignore the fact that many of these people who have gotten themselves out of the cycle of poverty are some of welfare’s harshest and most vocal critics.  Thus welfare in general is at best a short-term fix; it by no means attacks the root of the problem.[3]

So it helps lots of people, but is only a short-term solution.  Now obviously this has material benefit (at least for Paul, to hell if it actually depresses the economy as a whole) but does it actually have any spiritual benefits?  Sadly, and rather obviously, the answer is no.  Peter gets none of the spiritual benefits described in the previous chapter that come from giving, because he did not give by choice, the money was taken from him against his will.  Nor is Peter also likely to give to charity now, or at least not as much, because human nature is that once that money has been taken, then that person feels that they’ve already given, when they haven’t.  In fact if anything this leaves Peter more negative and bitter toward humanity as he now sees money stolen from him and given to people who are less than deserving and not using said money to better themselves.  This is likely to make Peter more bitter toward humanity around him, more cynical, and overall a worse human being.  So it’s actually a spiritual negative.  How about for Paul?  The answer is again in the negative.  Paul feels no need to earn this act of charity; it was given to him by an unfeeling, cold, heartless institution, not another human being.  The insult to self-esteem alone comes as a spiritual negative.  More often than not the psychological effects of such a handout will make Paul feel even in less control of his life than before because now that he must depend on the government for his existence—this increases his feelings of powerlessness, increases fear that he is not in control of his existence and rather a mere victim of fate and circumstance.  In short another spiritual negative.

Finally is it ethical?  No!  The phrase is “to rob Peter to pay Paul” for a reason.  It’s stealing money from a human being by force.  I know I don’t pay my taxes out of the goodness of my heart; I do it because I don’t wish to go to jail or have a standoff with the FBI and ATF.  I’m pretty sure that’s the same reason you pay your taxes.  They have jails and guns, a lot of them—certainly more than I would like to make a standoff against.  So in the end it’s theft.  A clear violation of “Thou shalt not steal” or its numerous variations in every religion on earth, and New Agers are no different on this point.  Stealing is stealing; it’s a complete and total violation of any conception of ethics I can think of.   Now we do honor the myth of Robin Hood, but not because he was a thief, as someone once tried to disprove my point that we never believe theft to be a good thing.  Notice that if you actually look at all the legends, it wasn’t that he robbed from the rich and gave to the poor (a more modern socialist reinterpretation) but rather robbed from the robbing tax collector and gave back to the people who had actually earned the money.  His heroism isn’t in the theft, it’s in putting his life on the line to get back for people what was stolen from them, what was originally theirs (which is what we would like to think the police do when they put their life on the line for us).

But don’t the ends justify the means you ask—to which I respond: did you read the previous paragraphs?  Even if there were cases where the ends justify the means, I can’t see how stealing hard-earned money from people is justified by short-term material benefits and long-term spiritual and economic harm.  The welfare system in all its myriad forms is actually harming the spiritual growth of everyone it touches.  Unless you were an atheist you couldn’t possibly support it, and even then to believe that this system pragmatically worked you’d need to be an atheist and a moron to… (Or am I being redundant there?)

System 2:

            So let’s say that starting today we started reducing all welfare entitlements.  Making them harder to get, requiring more oversight of the people who get them, and requiring even further time constraints in regards to how long you can be on the program.  In terms of social security this would be cutting benefits, raising retirement ages and begin to either privatize or simply eliminate[4] through a phased out process.  Now you might be wondering why I’m not suggesting this second system as being one of completely wiping welfare, social security, Medicaid, and Medicare simply off the face of the earth.  The answer would be that for better or much much worse, these programs have unfortunately become part of the country’s society and while they do eventually need to die, just cutting them with a machete, while greatly satisfying, will cause short-term chaos, and long term societal scars.  Welfare, like heroin, is not an addiction that one just quits cold turkey.[5]  There does need to be a large initial cut to show we mean business of somewhere in the ballpark of 10% cuts right off the top—but this needs to be followed by a 10 to 20 year plan of phasing these programs out of existence.

So assuming we do the right thing, and cutting these programs back with the intention of eventually leaving them only as significantly smaller local programs or just out and out killing them.  What are the benefits and losses?

First, how many people are helped?  While I’m sure we all agree that supply-side economics doesn’t work quite as well or as quickly as everyone thought it did back in the ‘80’s, but it does work, albeit its effects take time to work through.  When the economy improves everyone benefits, and when you cut government intrusion the economy improves…eventually.  But the fact of the matter is that more money in the hands of the people is still more money circulating through the economy and not being lost in some bureaucratic nightmare land that creates nothing but red tape and paperwork and thus doesn’t really add anything to the flow of the economy.  More money, more things being bought.  More things being bought, more profit.  More profit, more investment.  More investment, more jobs…you know how this goes.  So certainly this will take time, but then again that’s what we conservatives like—long-term fixes, not short term band-aids.  Further if we do this properly as a long term rollback of funds people receiving these handouts should have time to plan and adjust to the changing environment (like doing things of such a radical nature as getting an education, getting a job, or actually saving for retirement…I know it’s radical thinking, but I believe it just might work for most people).  So there is no harm to this group either.  So everyone makes out with the status quo if not better.

As I already said these are long-term benefits.  Long term the economy does better, more people have jobs, more people have control of their lives, and if we don’t fall in the trap of socialism again, this is a self-perpetuating system.  Yes, long term we will have recessions, can’t do anything about that, but they will work themselves out, and if people begin to learn how to save properly and educate themselves properly to be able to move from career to career if needed they will not need to worry.

But more than these advantages, this puts the control of a person’s life back in their own hands.  A major spiritual benefit.  For both Peter and Paul, the government is no longer butting into their lives more than it needs to.   This will reduce the likelihood of fear in their lives.  It will also increase the feelings of security since for Paul survival depends on himself now, and for Peter there is less worry about how much the Brownshirts at the IRS will be taking this year.  Further, as I pointed out previously, more money in Peter’s hands will increase the odds and amounts that Peter will give to charity, and this charity will come from living human beings who care about people not the cold, mechanical system of welfare.  With this charity to Paul comes the emotional and ethical ties that will force Paul to in some way to be worthy of the gift he has been given and improve himself.

So materially, psychologically, spiritually this provides long-term benefits to the majority of people.  But is it ethical?  Well we’re not stealing from anyone, so there it’s ethical.  And as I stipulated this program has to be carried out slowly, so were not just uprooting people from the system they have become accustomed to…But I hear one last objection about it being ethical coming from the far left: That people have a right to health care or a livable wage, or a right to care from the government in old age and that to deny them that right is unethical.

The crux of this argument is that everyone has a right to these things.  If you believe this you A) have not the foggiest conception of what a right is and B) are just as confused about ethics.  No one has a right to health care or a livable wage or even happiness.  What you have a right to is that the government will not overtly deny you the chance to achieve, to earn, or to buy these things.  But neither the government, society, your neighbor, nor your brother owes you these things.  You have rights to what you come into this world with: Life, Liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness (emphasis on the pursue).  Nor is anyone ethically required to provide these things to you just because you exist (except for your parents as long as you can’t provide these things for yourself).  First and foremost a person is ethically bound to seek their own happiness, not yours.  Now we are ethically bound to help those in immediate need; the Parable of the Good Samaritan comes to mind, but notice that in that case the story revolves around people who are not victims of their own laziness but literally victims to the violence of others or circumstance completely out of their control.  Yes we are ethically bound to help those people.  We are even ethically called for to be generous and charitable, but keep in mind the entire concept of generosity and charity are dependant on the idea we are not bound to help people out of duty, law, or right…if we were it wouldn’t be generosity now would it?  Further generosity does not call for us to help everyone who would come and demand our help—that would bankrupt anyone and certainly lead to personal unhappiness, a very unethical end.  Charity, to have true meaning and worth, must be to those who will use it for their own long term benefit and betterment, not merely short term waste, and anyone who demands the work and property of others as their own isn’t someone who cares about personal betterment because this is indicative of a character that believes in not doing anything for themselves.  Anyone with this sort of entitlement and need for instant gratification can never better themselves, because they cannot even conceive of what is required to better themselves[6].  Hence they are not worthy of the generosity or charity you would give.

Charity is ethical.  But its generosity must be coupled with a desire to improve one’s self, otherwise whatever work or money that is given is merely wasted.  The claim that one has a right to other people’s works is an affront to that belief and merely helps to instill a feeling of helplessness and that is irresponsible.


[1] Of course this isn’t accurate as it is more like the top 50% of wage earners that liberals like to define as “the rich”…so ask yourself do you personally make more than $45,000…if you do, then many in Congress define you as “the rich”.

[2] Unless you count all those elderly people who were somehow too stupid to have any understanding of saving for retirement, and rather chose to live like leaches off people who actually have jobs and know what the stock market is for, but one has trouble feeling sympathy for someone who had over forty years to plan for the inevitable and didn’t do anything about it.  And if you tell me they expected the government to be there for them…well that makes me lose even more respect for them. Even the Sheriff of Nottingham wasn’t dumb enough to think Robin was going to give the money back to him when he retired.

[3] I’m actually going to exclude all job training and education problems from this critique as those do actually attack the root of the problem and do exhibit long-term thinking.  I have no problem in theory spending money on those…although I’m sure the money itself could be spent more wisely.

[4] Even privatizing the system is the government still saying you’re too incompetent to handle your own money…which I’ll grant you, a good portion of America does fit into that description, but it’s still the government calling you stupid…this from an organization currently run by some of the biggest buffoons the world has to offer.  A statement about pots and kettles comes to mind.

[5] Interestingly enough, welfare also shares the quality of heroin of leaving its users emaciated, soulless shells of their former selves.

[6] I would like to point out that this critique is not aimed necessarily at those who are poor, but rather at the demagogues and activists that propose such a system of entitlement and character flaws, who in effect create a system that encourages the poor to stay victims and not seek a better life.

To read more Republicans and Reincarnation: The Conscience of a New Age Conservative is available at AuthorHouse, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble 

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Weekly Meditation: Focusing on the important things…

I’m sorry, I really wanted to have a more detailed and thought provoking meditation this week…but 6 days of state mandated teacher training has left my brain still unable to function properly. It is often the case that 1 hour of boring and useless work is more damaging to the brain than 10 hours of pushing your mind and body…6 8-hour-days of propaganda and BS based off decades old, out-dated biased research.  Thank you state of Arizona.

 

Anyway, as I try to retrieve balance through more serious mediation, may I suggest this week we all focus on two very important questions:

“Who are you?” and “What do you want in life?”*

These two questions are at the heart of psychology, philosophy, and spirituality, and have been asked in a myriad of forms over the ages.

 

Next week I’m going to bring your answers to these questions back to our eternal battle with the ego, but for this week I just want you to spend a few minutes a day and in silence ask yourself these two questions and come up with a list (mental or written down, it doesn’t matter) and be prepared to seriously look at that list soon.

Who are you?

What do you want in life?

PS It might help if you cleared all your chakras mentally before engaging in this if you have the time.  With the chakras cleared of negative energy and filled again with light and love you might get clearer and more preceptive answers.

 

 

 

*No, I’m not quoting a sci-fi show of questionable production values, these are important philosophical questions. Kudos, though if you get the reference.

 

 

 

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Weekly Meditation: Finding yourself in the silence part I

As we continue from last week in our attempt to weaken the ego’s hold on you I am reminded by another line from my favorite musician’s music:

“Don’t believe the things you tell yourself so late at

You are your own worst enemy, you’ll never win the fight.”–Ingrid Michaelson, “Parachute”

The ego whispers in your ear a thousand and one fears and insecurities and makes you believe that they are your fears and your insecurities.  It distracts you with a myriad of false desire to distract you from what you really want. It keep you from knowing how great you really are and focusing on what you really want.

And while we need to replace these false ideas that the ego is putting into your head with correct ones, we first need to ignore the ego. So this week we’re going back to the the old favorite of clearing your mind.  Five minutes, three times a day of thinking of nothing.  Lotus position if you can is the best as it allow for the spine to be straight and the breath to be deep.

Clear you mind.  It takes practice, and the ego will be trying to distract you, so no worries if a random thought intrudes.  Just keep trying to let your mind be blank.

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Weekly Meditation: Ignoring the Ego

 

As the kindled fire consumes the fuel, so, O Arjuna, in the flame of wisdom the embers of action are burnt to ashes.

 

There is nothing in the world so purifying as wisdom; and he who is a perfect saint finds that at last in his own Self.

 

He who is full of faith attains wisdom, and he too who can control his senses, having attained that wisdom, he shall ere long attain Supreme Peace.

 

But the ignorant man, and he who has no faith, and the skeptic are lost. Neither in this world nor elsewhere is there any happiness in store for him who always doubts.

 

But the man who has renounced his action for meditation, who has cleft his doubt in twain by the sword of wisdom, who remains always enthroned in his Self, is not bound by his acts.

Therefore, cleaving asunder with the sword of wisdom the doubts of the heart, which thine own ignorance has engendered, follow the Path of Wisdom and arise!”

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4 Verses 37-42

 

Of all the traditional holy books in the world, possibly none is held in higher regard by me than the Bhagavad-Gita.  I hold it in such a high opinion that I was a little hesistant to start pulling quotes from it.  After all, it is more or less fairly straight forward no matter what level of spiritual evolution you’re on (and one of the great features of the Gita is that each line holds truths for every level of enlightenment) and if you still need further discussion of the wisdom of Krishna as he speaks to Arjuna there are commentaries by Yogananda and other far wiser people like me.

 

Still if I didn’t bring up anything from the Bhagavad-Gita it seemed like it would be an insult to such a divine book.

 

So let’s talk about what the Gita means by Self.

 

New Age and most Eastern religions make a needed distinction that the West so often ignores.  The typical vision in the west is that you yourself are a rational being with free will and have the choice between two forces the positive forces of God and the negative forces of whatever you want to call the negative force (the more enlightened in the west will call it our negative nature, the less enlightened will give make a full blown opponent of God and call it the Devil.)  This is best represented by the cartoon image of the angel and the devil on your shoulders.

The incorrect view

 

This view could not be more wrong. The Eastern/New Ager view is more that you are composed of your self and your ego* (which actually doesn’t exist, we’ll get to that later). Now for all of your ego’s lacking qualities it is quite cunning and it has convinced you of two three very important lies. It has convinced you that you and the angel on your shoulder are two different beings…this is silly because you, your Self, is a part of God an infinite and divine being, and you, your Self, is a part of all that is good.  You and the angel on your shoulder are the same being.

 

The next thing the ego did to you was that it convinced you that it was you, that all of it’s thoughts are your thoughts, that’s it’s fears and doubts are yours.

 

And finally it created the image of the devil on your shoulder an outside enemy.  To distract you from all of it’s fearful and destructive thoughts being against your best interest it gives you the idea that there is some outside force that is your enemy, a devil on your shoulder, an outside enemy to distract you from the real one.

 

Learning to do away with your ego is the final lesson of the cycle of rebirth.  It’s a hard lesson…if it weren’t you wouldn’t have 6 billion souls on this planet.  But it’s a easy lesson, all you have to do is accept the truth: I am a part of God.  I am holy.

 

All you have to do is believe it.   Yeah I know, easier said than done.

 

But let’s start with something easy.

 

Every time this week when you recognize that you have had a negative thought, ask yourself:

“Is this voice in my head coming from the best in me or from the worst?”

 

If it is from the best it is from mutual voice of your soul and God working in tandem.  If not, it is likely the voice of your ego.  Ignore.

 

You’ll miss some negative thoughts, you’ll give in.  Don’t chide yourself for it, self-deprecation of that sort is a weapon of the ego to make you hate yourself.   Just worry about the ones you do catch.  When you catch them, recognize their source and ignore them.

 

Try only to listen the voice that tell you that you will and you should achieve your dreams.  That you are worthy.  That you are beautiful.  Listen to that voice.

 

Learn to recognize the other voice so you can ignore it.

 

Will this solve all you problems?  No.  But it’s a start.

 

And if you’re having problems, just repeat my favorite passage:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

 

*Don’t confuse the Eastern/New Age idea of the ego, the miscreation of fear and hatred that is a part of your psyche, with the traditional meaning of the word as arrogance or mere sense of self.

Remember each one of these symbols is telling you are you are a part of God and divine…maybe you should listen.

 

 


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Weekly Meditation: The Wisdom of Rome

Marcus Aurelius

Not all spiritual wisdom has to come from expressly religious works.  So this week I thought to pull from one of the great pagan philosophers, Marcus Aurelius.  As you may know Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of Rome during what is generally considered to be the height of the empire’s greatness.  And in large part it was because of Marcus and the four emperors before him whom are known to historians as “The Five Good Emperors” (that title may seem a little weak, but consider the caliber of most people who held the office and you’ll see by comparison that’s quite a compliment).  Not that he was perfect, rightly seeing that Christianity was going to shake the empire to its core he took the wrong course and went forward with typical Christian persecutions.  And unlike the previous four emperors who picked men of quality to succeed them Marcus picked his son, Commodus (who was probably even crazier than Phoenix’s depiction of him in the movie Gladiator)…in Marcus’ defense he was the first of the Five Good Emperors who actually had a child to leave the empire to, so the other four may have made just as dumb moves if they had children.  But the reason we turn to Marcus Aurelius is because, in all honesty, he would have rather been a philosopher pouring over ancient tomes of wisdom than be bothered running an empire…but duty called and he was bound by honor to fill the position asked of him (the best leaders are always the ones who don’t want the job…if only we could nominate people who had no desire to serve in Congress or the White House…).  But in between running an empire that covered one quarter of the world’s population, Marcus Aurelius wrote his great work on Stoic philosophy, The Meditations.  A little dry to the modern reader (ancient languages don’t often translate well when you’re trying to hold very technical meanings intact), it is a collection of aphorism on how one should live life.

So without further ado here are the two quotes I have picked for this week:

“The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit.  The second is look things in the face and know them for what they are.”

“I have often wondered how everyman loves himself ore than all the rest of men, yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.”

Why these two?

Because too often we give into doubt.  Doubt and fear are two of the worst enemies we can have in our journey to Enlightenment.  Now if you don’t feel these, you are either my hero (and I have to wonder why you’re reading this…go out there and start teaching), or very deluded (and I’m not sure I have the skills to solve that).  And when we have doubt we must confront it.

First by the untroubled soul.   Admitting that you have doubts removes a great deal of their power over you.

Second by looking at them head on and asking why you have them and what to do about them.  And this, a lot of times, is where the second quote comes in.  We feed off the doubts of others, because there is always someone who will see the worst in everything, and we believe them over our own hopes and let it feed our doubts.

So we need to stop that.

This weeks meditation.  Is to spend 5-10 minutes focus on identifying our doubts.  If it helps envision a large white board you are writing them on.

Then for twice as long as you spend identifying your doubts (so 10-20 minutes) I want you to look at it, see who is feeding that and say to yourself:

I am a divine child of God.  I am greater than this doubt.  My hope in myself is more accurate than the doubts other have about me. I may not always succeed and my doubt may prove true, but not because I gave into them and let myself fail. I am a divine child of God and as such I should trust my soul which I know to have the light of God in it.

So, 15-30 minutes every day this week.  Identify the doubts and put them in their place.

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Weekly Meditation: Know Thyself

As I continue to pull from religious texts the world over, I decided to pick this week from one of the really lesser known ones: The Gospel of Thomas.  For those who don’t know, the Gospel of Thomas is one of those Gospels that didn’t make the cut from Constantine’s Council of Nicea, who, four-hundred years after the death of Christ, were able to tell which Gospels, epistles, and revelations were the word of God and thus made it into the New Testament, and which were not and got cut.  (They also made some edits to the ones that got in, because while the New Testament books were inspired by God, God clearly didn’t get it right on the first draft—silly God, what

Many scholars actually believe the Gospel of Thomas is more reflective of the real Jeshua of Nazareth.

would you do if the Council of Nicea wasn’t there to correct your mistakes?)

The Gospel of Thomas is a collection of 114 sayings of Jesus.  Some look similar to those found in the canonical Gospels…others do not.  I’m going to pull one of those that have no counterparts.  Verse 70.

Jesus said: ‘If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you.  If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you will kill you.’

As with most lines in a spiritual text you can probably read a lot of levels in any line, but I want to focus on the idea that your salvation, is inside you, that the light of God is in your soul.  Know thyself.  Happiness is a choice.  A dozen other variations throughout history and philosophy.

I think this sentiment can be found in every belief represented in this symbol…how do constantly forget this basic truth?

Your soul, that spark of God within you, is really all that matters.  If you are trying to find Happiness, contentment, salvation, or escape anywhere besides your soul, you’re kind of missing the point.  And the lack of your soul in your life will, spiritually, kill you.

So this week, I want to drive this dagger home, and so I want to try something a little radical…

As you sit down for your daily meditation, I want you to imagine your life.  Now imagine that you lose the job you have and are stuck at something dull and monotonous (if you don’t already have that) with only bare subsistence pay.  Now tell yourself, “Even with that I still have my soul.  I still have God’s love.  I will still find Happiness.”  The next day imagine not only losing your job, but add losing your acquaintances that you hang out with (I would say friends, but you can’t ever lose friends, even if they die, that’s what makes them friends—you can, however, lose acquaintances.)  Again, “Even with that I still have my soul.  I still have God’s love.  I will still find Happiness.”  Each day strip more and more away, and remind yourself that all of these things are transitory and impermanent, which is what makes them something other than the source of Happiness and salvation.  They may be a  reflection of our thoughts, of our Happiness and of our soul…but they are not what matters, they are not what bring us Happiness.

No matter how much or little you have, you have your soul, which is all you need.  “‘If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you.”

Now, I will say that since I do believe in the laws of attraction, the idea that your thoughts shape reality, focusing on losing everything might have some negative consequences.  But luckily positive thoughts are thousands of times more powerful than negative ones.  So if you spend 10 minutes stripping your life of all it’s worldly items and reminding yourself that these are not what bring you Happiness, you might want to follow that with 5-10 minutes of focusing on your ideal life.  5-10 minutes of the ideal job, ideal house, ideal relationship.  Yes these aren’t what bring you Happiness…but they don’t hurt either…and taken with the right attitude they can serve as reminders of your connection to God.

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Weekly Meditation: Words of Wisdom

I still really like this as an all encompassing New Age symbol

As a New Ager I find truth in most of the religions in the world.  And while I love to quote from A Course In Miracles(and could probably do so for years going at the pace of one passage a week) it has occurred to me that I should, in true New Age fashion, pull a selection of quotes from other holy books.  Before anyone gets offended it is meant as a compliment, I’m not trying to insult your religion.

This week I thought I would pull a quote from the Tao Te Ching, the central text of Taoism.  Written by Lao-Tzu before departing China to escape it’s superficial and corrupt life, he left a short book of his wisdom for the people of China (yes I realize that there is a lot of myth tied to that story, I still like it). The book is probably the shortest holy text in the world (unless you want to count individual books of the Old, New, and Gnostic Testaments of the Bible).  Written as a series of 81 short poems, the Tao Te Ching (The Book of Virtues of the Way), the book is often a series of double and triple meanings crammed into short, cryptic phrases.  (Given that Chinese is also a language that poorly translates into English, poetry especially, it is always best to read three or four translations if you’re going to try to read the book.)

For this week I’m going to go with a quote from the 19th poem in the Tao.  (I’m just going to go with my favorite translation).

“Give up kindness, renounce morality.

And men will rediscover piety and love.”–Lao Tzu

So what does this mean?  That you should give up being kind and moral?  No, silly.  It means that you should stop doing things because you are supposed to them because they’re rules or codes or values you’re supposed to hold.  Things you’ve been taught to follow.  Ideals society wants you to do.  Why? Because when you force people to do things you breed resentment, hostility, rebellion.  You should do things because you want to, because your personal reason dictates it, because it makes you feel good…not because someone says you should.

 

Why is this the weekly meditation?  This week I want you to ask yourself if you’re doing something because you want to and it makes sense…or because you’re expected to.  Reason and your heart are fine things to follow, and they will often agree with society’s rules, but make sure they are before you act.  I promise you you will be more in tune with yourself and the universe if you do what you want and think is right more than what is only expected of you…even if it’s the same thing, the intent and the reason make a huge difference.

 

 

 

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Weekly Meditation: Fear and Faith

Okay…

So I didn’t post anything during the weekend.  I did this because the internet has a nasty way of suggesting everything is an attack on something else…and publishing a New Age meditation on Good Friday, Passover, or Easer could be interpreted as an attack where none was meant.  I have no quarrel with you if you have found happiness in something other than New Age belief, as all paths lead to God eventually, and each time I considered it, it just seemed tacky to post on another religion’s holy day when I don’t embrace that holiday.  (Yes, I have issues with Easter…still too close to go into them).

Onto the meditation.

I thought it was time to return to A Course In Miracles for today’s meditation.

Lesson 48 from the workbook of the Course is a simple one:

There is nothing to fear.

Simple.  Hopeful.  To the point.

It goes along with the summary of the Course from it’s first page:

 This course can there be summed up very simply in this way:

Nothing real can be threatened.

Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.

Now granted there is entire book explaining that sentiment, but it keeps coming back to the message: There is nothing to fear.  You are your soul, not your body, and thus you, the real you, can’t be harmed.  You are the child of a God that is infinite love, thus he cannot hate or reject you, otherwise it wouldn’t be INFINITE love.  There are no sins, only mistakes that are to be learned from and corrected.  In the end there is no punishment but what you give yourself, and even that isn’t going to harm you in any long-term sense.  There is nothing to fear, as, in the end, everything literally will be fine (now how far off that end is is up to you…but the longer you fear the longer it’s going to take to get to that end.)

So this week every time you come across anything that makes you worried, apprehensive, depressed, sorry or worried, repeat to yourself:

There is nothing to fear.

And believe it.

 

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Weekly Meditation: Friendship

“Without friends, no one would choose to live, though they had all other goods.”-Aristotle

Sorry for no meditation last week, spending time with a friend took precedent.  As it always should.  Which in fact is what this weeks meditation is about.  Spend some time with your friends.

The eventual purpose of all meditation, all spiritual enlightenment and evolution is, in the New Ager view, to once again rejoin our single consciousness as the Son of God.  We are all parts of the same being and trying to remember that there is no line between you and I is one of the chief goals of our spiritual journey.  And friends are one of those moments in life where it easiest to feel those walls between egos break down.

So this week I want you to spend time with a friend.  In person is best, but if calling is all you can manage then do that (I understand, a lot of my friends live in other states than the one I live in).  Have no purpose other to enjoy the time you spend with them…

…and maybe when, and only when, it’s over reflect on how good that time was and why it felt so wonderful.  Believe it or not this will bring you closer to God and your true self.  Time with a true friend is more spiritually productive than any amount of chakra meditations.

And don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of friends…often just one is enough.

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Weekly Meditation: Namaste and the Chakras

This week I would like you to continue with the morning and evening meditations from last week to keep your chakras balanced and connected to the energy of Heaven.  But this week I want to add a simple meditation throughout the day.

How simple?

I want to you say one word.

Namaste.  The word that roughly means: “The spark of the divine within me recognizes and bows to the spark of the divine within you.”

Now I know we’ve done this one before too, but done together this will not only help your balance your chakras but connect you other people through compassion and love which will not only send love to them, but in turn have it reflect back to you (creating a slight feedback loop of positive energy…)

So every person you see silently say to yourself “Namaste.”   Every person you pass in the store, on the street, in the office, everywhere.  If you miss one don’t worry.  Just get the next person.

These two practices together will lift your energy and make you feel better the whole week.

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Shows for New Agers: Touch

“There’s an ancient Chinese myth about the Red Thread of Fate. It says that the gods have tied a red thread around every one of our ankles and attached it to all the people whose lives we’re destined to touch. This thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.”

Touch.  This is a show of epic proportions and everyone should watch it.

So I was slow to watch this show, I’ll admit, for two reasons.  The first being I don’t own a TV (I eventually did download it…and in an unusually intelligent move by FOX they are still allowing anyone to download it for free on iTunes).  The second being as interesting as the show sounded, it had a hint of Kiefer Sutherland racing against a clock to stop something terrible from happening…and somehow that sounded a little too familiar.

Touch is the story of Martin Bohm (Sutherland) a very successful journalist who is now working odd jobs to help pay for the care of his autistic son.  This is difficult as his wife was in Twin Towers on 9/11 and his autistic son has a really bad habit of escaping his special needs school and climbing cell phone towers.  But what begins to make his life infinitely more complicated is that there appears to be a method to the random behavior of his son.  His son somehow sees how even the slightest variable affects the entire world.  And in the first episode, climbing the cell tower at a certain time, setting a few cell phones to ring at certain time and leaving a few numbers to be found he engineers a way for a bus of school children to be saved, stop a terrorist bombing, launch a woman’s singing career, and save a couple’s relationship.  Oh, and convince his father that he can see the larger pattern.  The episode ends with Martin convinced that his new purpose in life must be to follow the clues his son gives him to help make the world a better place.  And if you think I’ve given spoilers, I haven’t.  Because even knowing this won’t spoil the emotional force that the end of this episode has.  If you have any humanity you will be crying.  And it is not often that TV can make me cry…and certainly this is the first Pilot with characters I have not invested years into has made me cry.  If even a tenth of the shows in this series are half as moving, this show, no matter how long it lasts will be one of the most powerful and well written shows in history.

While I don’t know if the New Age aspects are necessarily intentional this show does have three main themes that are very near and dear to New Agers.

The first is interconnectedness.  New Agers believe that everything in the world, that everything, even small things, even mere thoughts, can ripple through the universe, compounding with one another, reinforcing one another until they reach a critical mass of change in the course of a life, a town, a nation…or the whole world.  We believe that every act can change the world for the better, and thus every act becomes infinitely important.  This show reveals how even small things can compound and make massive differences.  Only one or two events were necessary to convince Martin Bohm of the power of small events to change the world for the better, and what makes this show demonstrate a touch of genius I can only hope continues through the other episodes is that he doesn’t even have a clue how far his and his son’s actions spread.  The show begins and ends with the story of the Chinese myth of the red thread of fate….I have a feeling that this all encompassing thread will be discussed in even more detail in future episodes.  We leave traces on the world that we never know about, and this show seems to understand this.

The second New Age point that this show seems to embrace is the idea of purpose, that each of our lives has a purpose and a meaning.  We may or may not live up to that purpose, but we have one.  And it is only by embracing it that we will find true happiness.  Through embracing his purpose, to help his son, Martin Bohm finally finds a sliver of peace and happiness in his life.  I can only hope that this continues to grow.

And finally the last New Age concept is love.  Now certainly New Agers do not hold a monopoly on this concept, but we do embrace it whole heartedly.  Parents.  Children.  Spouses.   Friends.  Even the concern for strangers.  All are embraced in this first episode in truly moving ways and I think that speaks very well for where this show is headed.

My one worry about this show is how long it can last.  Inevitably there can be no lasting relationship between father and son, for to end his autism is to ruin the premise and without making it a character drama it becomes boring and episodic.  But even if it only lasts for a season or two, it will be well worth it.

 

And since FOX is still giving the Pilot away for free on iTunes and a few other places I would say you have nothing to lose by giving it a try.

“Today we’ll send over 300 billion e-mails and 19 billion text messages.  Yet we’ll still feel alone…  The average person will say 2,250 words to 7.4 other individuals.  Will these words be used to hurt or to heal? There’s an ancient Chinese myth about the Red Thread of Fate…”

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Weekly meditation: Balancing the chakras

 

To one degree or another we have gone other the seven chakras that run along your spine and into your head. This week it’s time to stop looking at them as separate things, but rather as a single system of energy that connects you to the world and to Heaven.

So this week we’ll focus on all of the chakras. Sitting in the lotus position (or as close as you can get to it comfortably) clear you mind, and then focus on the chakras going up you spine. With each chakra focus on it, see it bright, large and spinning quickly and repeat the following series of mantras, one for each chakra. Start at your root chakra and work you way up seeing and feeling the energy move up your spine your mind’s eyes. When you reach the crown chakra focus on it’s mantra for a minute seeing a direct connection of that energy at the top of your skull connected to Heaven and God. Then work you way back down the chakras.

If you can do this once in the morning and once in the evening this should help to focus the energy of all your chakras and extend those positive vibrations into your life.

First Chakra. My life is filled with abundance, safety and prosperity
Second Chakra. My emotional are balanced and in tune with light of Heaven
Third Chakra. My will is strong and one with God’s
Fourth Chakra. I love and am loved and know the love of God
Fifth Chakra. I speak and create beauty and truth inspired by God
Sixth Chakra. I see the complete truth and the now through the light of God
Seventh Chakra. I am one with God

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The Greatest Romantic Dramas Part II

So we covered #14-#8 of the best romantic movies yesterday…now it’s time to finish the list.  As I said the reason I’m not doing each movie as it’s own blog is that some of these are more lacking in philosophic depth and there are only so many ways you can say this is  a great movie, which they all are.

#7 An Affair to Remember

“If you can paint then I can walk.”

I could try to say something original about this classic, but why bother when someone has pretty much covered it…

Okay it’s actually not the best description of the film as it actually leaves out the whole part where they fall in love…but nothing is perfect (except maybe #1 and #2 on this list).

#6 Ghost

“It’s amazing, Molly. The love inside, you take it with you. See ya.”

Okay, let’s ignore that three-quarters of this movie is either a thriller or a reminder that Whoopie once was funny and that this movie also has some of the creepiest moments in the history of film (bloody hand slides along glass)…This movie contains a truly beautiful love story and reminds us that love lasts far beyond death, and this movie shows that so wonderfully. (Hell it deserves to be remembered if for no other reason than making Unchained Melody popular again…and somehow making pottery look sexy).

“Ditto.”

#5 Meet Joe Black

“Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well, you forget your head, and you listen to your heart. And I’m not hearing any heart. Cause the truth is, honey, there’s no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven’t lived a life at all. But you have to try, cause if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.”

Probably the most under appreciated film on this list. This is a great movie (even greater if you’ve seen the POS it was based on). This movie not only has a beautiful love story (love-triangle?) between Death and the Doctor he falls in love with, but also shows the peak experiences of life in other forms than falling in love (the beauty of simple marriage between Hopkins older daughter and her husband, the love of parents and children, the love of creating something of value)…not to mention the beauty of sticking it to a crook.

…And the fact that Death gave his beloved one final gift in the last scene always brings tears to my eyes.

“I want you to sing with rapture and dance like a dervish.”

# 4 Love is a many splendored thing

“I do not know what is to happen darling, but what I do know – life’s greatest tragedy is not to be loved, God has been good to us”

This is possibly one of the worst books I have ever read in my life, which makes the fact that movie is near perfect all the more impressive. Yet another tale of star-crossed love torn apart by society and circumstance. The acting, the writing, the direction are all some of the finest in film history. If you know the film you know how it rips your heart out. If you haven’t seen it you need to, and prepare for buckets of tears. And you might not ever look at butterflies the same way ever again.

“We have not missed that many – splendored thing.”

#3 Romeo & JulietRomeo and Juliet

“For never was there a tale of more woe, than this of Juliet, and her Romeo”

The 1968 version by director Franco Zeffrelli is perfection as far this tale of the Bard’s is concerned. Why there have been film versions after this I’m not sure. Not only is the acting and directing what the film needed, but the soundtrack is timeless.

#2 Gone with the Wind

“Open your eyes and look at me. No, I don’t think I will kiss you. Although you need kissing badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often and by someone who knows how.”

It’s also the 2nd best movie of all time. Period. And it’s one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.

This is the kind of movie that doesn’t need to really be discussed because its virtues are self evident.

All I will say is that if you know the characters you know that she will get Rhett back, because there was never a man she couldn’t get. (Don’t even bring up that trash someone thought was a sequel).

“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow….Tara! Home. I’ll go home. And I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all… tomorrow is another day.”

And of course the greatest romance, hell the greatest film of all time.

#1 Casablanca

“Play it Sam, play As Time Goes By.”

Is there a line in this movie that hasn’t been come a classic? Is there a scene that is not perfect? Hell this movie makes me love the national anthem of a nation I’m usually a little disgusted by…

And while no one we care about dies in this film, it’s probably the most tragic of the lot. It’s the only one where our romantic couple does not get together in the end.

And yeah it also speaks to my patriotic side…but first and foremost it is a great love story.

“I think this is beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Honorable mentions:

Sommersby, Jerry Maguire, Dead Again, Sayonara, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Magnificent Obsession. A Guy named Joe, The Fountain, City of Angels

Again I open the floor to discussion of what did I miss?

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The 14 greatest romantic dramas, or, get a box of Kleenex ready…Part I

And finally we get to the 14 greatest romantic dramas. When compiling this list I found that of the 14 films that I put in the top 14, 9 of them have the death of a loved one—in only 3 of those was the death not of one of our romantic couples, and that’s an arguable number as one of those Death himself is involved as the romantic lead in one of those 3. (Of the honorable mentions 6 of the 8 involve death). Of the five films where no one dies, two involve a major character being seriously injured (and also in one of the honorable mentions). It is not safe to be in a romantic drama. With only two exceptions can I say there is not a major amount of tragedy.

(Due to the fact that I started tearing up while writing this, this will be split into two blogs).

You might want to ask why would such a beautiful topic be so littered with suffering? Actually there is a reason. As overused as it may seem, it will always be true that “’Tis better to have loved and lost: Than never to have loved at all.”
There movies are here to remind us that all the pain and hurt and feeling like your life is over is all worth it, because love is worth it.

So let’s start out with something that doesn’t have a major body count…

#14 The Cutting Edge

“Toe pick”

Obviously this is one of the happier ones on this list, of course that might have something to do with the fact that I couldn’t quite decide whether to put this in the comedy or drama list. Obviously drama won out by the slightest of edges. You know you love it. Our star-crossed lovers are endlessly screwed up but together they find the balance and success they were looking for.

“Remember, I said it first.”

#13 The Lake House


“She’s more real to me than anything I’ve ever known.”

Long distance relationships are usually a problem…more so when it’s time not distance separating you. For a movie where the two main characters hardly have any screen time together, and spend most of it in voiced over conversations between letters, it has more passion and romance than most of what Hollywood churns out. It’s never explained how or why they’re able to communicate through a magical mailbox…but who cares. What matters is that Reeves and Bullock make their romance come alive without even being in the same shot.

If ever there was a movie that showed that a lot of times it’s type-casting and directing that conspire to make or break an actor, it’s this film. I’m not going to say that Keanu deserved an Oscar for this performance, but it is not the lifeless and hollow performance that we have come to expect from him in every other film.

“Don’t look for me. Don’t try to find me. I love you.”

#12 Portrait of Jennie


“I know we were meant to be together. The strands of our lives are woven together and neither the world nor time can tear them apart.”

Okay, I promise this is the last love story on the list that involves odd time travel plot lines…at least until the honorable mentions. Artist Eben Adams (Joseph Cotton) and Jennie (Jennifer Jones). Eben a man in his 30’s is being beaten down by life and is about to just give up when he meets Jennie, a young girl about 12. While not attracted to her in any way, he finds her personality magnetic…and her mention of historical events 30 years out of date as if they were yesterday was odd. It gets stranger when he sees her a week later and she’s aged five years. Through a little research he find that Jennie is from the past and is somehow coming into his time at different points in her life, and the magic of it all begins to reinvigorate his life. As she starts popping in closer to his age he does begin to fall in love with her and it becomes clear that they were meant for each other, even if they’re in different times. And when he learns that she died in the past he desperately tries to save her.

Now this movie has its flaws. Namely that Joseph Cotton is in 90% of the scenes and Joseph Cotton couldn’t act to save his life; the man deserved a lifetime achievement award from the Razzies. Now, given how much I hate Cotton’s acting and still love this movie should tell you the quality of Jones’ acting and the script. I would love to see this remade, despite the perfect performance of Jones, simply because Cotton was incredibly miscast as a romantic lead…however I know that will never happen because while we might forgive the innocence of a movie made in the 1940’s, to make a movie nowadays where a 30 year old man falls in love with a 9 year old (even if he really didn’t start falling in love with her until she was of a legal age) would just come off as disturbingly pedophilic, and rightly so. So unless a genius scriptwriter and director can figure out a way around this, I will have to settle for Cotton in a movie that even he couldn’t ruin.

“There is no life, my darling, until you love and have been loved. And then there is no death.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#11 Bed of Roses
Bed of Roses

“Every now and then, um, everybody’s entitled to too much perfection.”

Two people who have lost finding joy in life because of various tragedies in their lives. Oh the tragedies Lewis (Christian Slater) and Lisa (Mary Stuart Masterson) have endured. But together, eventually, we hope, they work everything out and have each other to lean on.

This is the part where you’re supposed to say “Wait!” I’m supposed to leave, and that’s where you forgive me for being such a coward, and for being the last one to figure out what everyone already knew. Then you call “Wait! Don’t go! Stop!” and we hold each other and we know everything’s going to be okay.

I guess I’m not familiar with the procedure.

Yeah…I guess not…. …Um… I’ll see you around.

Wait don’t go.

#10
P.S. I love you.
“Dear Gerry, you said you wanted me to fall in love again, and maybe one day I will. But there are all kinds of love out there. This is my one and only life and it’s a great and terrible and short and endless thing, and none of us come out of it alive.”

A love story after the fact, about a man who loved his wife so much that when faced with imminent death he is more concerned with how she will be able to get past the loss. Now that’s love.

#9
Pride and Prejudice
“Perhaps I didn’t always love him as well as I do now, but in such cases as these a good memory is unpardonable.”

The BBC version with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy! There exists no other version!

Besides the more than obvious reasons why this makes it onto the list (It’s Pride and Prejudice do I really have to justify why it’s here?) I love this film because I share many a personality trait with Darcy (if you stop to think about it that’s not really a compliment, we both seem to embrace our inner arrogant jerk).

#8 Jane Eyre

Again the BBC version with Timothy Dalton as Rochester. Like the Pride and Prejudice version I like this one because it doesn’t cut anything from the story. I know this is one of the most dysfunctional relationships in all of literature (with the possible exception of Wuthering Heights, what is it with the Brontes?) but I can’t help root for Jane and Rochester.

…Tomorrow…the top 7…and honorable mentions.

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