Category Archives: Prayer

Heaven is for Real…but this movie won’t even begin to convince you of that fact

Heavenreal

 

Shallow. Unmoving. Poor support of the point it was trying to make. Oh let me tell you how much I just loved Heaven is for Real.

 

In a world where there are thousands of Near Death Experiences where people who have been blind from birth can tell you what color the doctors in the OR were wearing while they had flat lined, where people come back with messages from dead loved ones with information that they could have no way of knowing beforehand, or where the person having the NDE goes completely brain dead so there is no way their brain could have just been hallucinating…we bring you a movie about a kid who never actually died and came back with information that any skeptic could tear holes in. Oh, then the movie just sucked on any standard of film making as well.

 

Let’s first deal with how bad the movie is.

 

The film follows a family, the Burpos, as they deal with the fact that their son nearly died and claims to have gone to Heaven. They deal with their own crises of faith and with being somewhat shunned by the community as others deal with their own crises of faith.

 

Well first off there are the numerous financial and personal problems the family in this film had to deal with (beside the kid almost dying). None of them get resolved

The entire film seems to be about everyone, the family, the parish, the community having a hard time accepting the concept of life after death—this does little more than to portray most Christians as shallow people who cling to the church out of fear, which I personally don’t think applies to all Christians, yeah we’ve all met some people like that…but it’s everybody in this film. It’s a little bizarre that this is what is being hyped as a faith based film given that it shows most church going folk to be hypocrites when you just scratch the surface. Yeah, real inspiring.
Also I felt that the writers didn’t even recognize their own hypocrisy in the final sermon in the film (which I’m guessing was supposed to offer some kind of catharsis, though I didn’t get any) among other things chided people for pride…even though it came from a guy who throughout much of the movie refused help from a friend even though he’s $20,000+ in debt and there was no resolution to this (except maybe the paycheck they got from writing the book but I’m trying not to confuse the movie with reality).

 

But the real problem is that none of it is all that moving. From the actors I recognized I have seen them all give better performances, and none of the crises of faith I see anyone go through in this film ever seems to fully make sense to me (I don’t get how all these people who are so active in a church can all be so full of doubts and disbelief…I understand individuals having a crisis of faith, I don’t understand a seemingly entire congregation becoming hostile to what should seemingly confirm their beliefs). No single character’s story ever seems to be dealt with in detail in the film and it just is all half-assed through the run time.

 

Oh and there’s some girl in Lithuania painting pictures…I never really got the point of this and could ponder for eons what possessed the director to put this random and pointless part in.

 

Now a lot of this could be due to the fact that as an NDE goes, this kid’s story isn’t what I’d call ironclad. He never died, his story isn’t particularly consistent, and none of the information he gives is beyond all doubt that he never heard it from other people. I believe in NDE’s the soul actually does touch the afterlife and see Heaven…but I also happen to know from research that there are cases that leave no logical explanation other than a person’s soul actually did leave their body and touch the other side. There is no such certainty here. I’m not saying the kid didn’t experience exactly what he describes (or at least as well as the movie relays it) but there are so many logical ways one could also be skeptical that the movie is only going to affect people who already believe (and in my case, not even that).  I actually am a little annoyed as you can only get so many movies with a theme like this made and distrusted to a general audience…and if you really want to get people to believe in the truth that there is an afterlife, I would not put a movie with such weak backing.  Also I’m just a tad annoyed that one of the most important facts about NDE’s: that everyone goes to Heaven, Christians, Jews, Pagans, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, everyone (because God doesn’t care about that sort of thing) seemed to get lost in a lot of talk of Jesus (I have no problem with Jesus or what he taught, but this film veered a little too much to the you only get into Heaven through Christianity bend for my tastes given that serious research into NDE’s shows exactly the opposite).

 

I have not read the book, and this movie certainly doesn’t convince me I should.
If you want a good movie that is actually moving about the life after death go watch Hereafter. If you want good well researched material about proof of life after this one I would suggest starting with Life before Life–Children’s Memories of Previous Lives or Evidence of the Afterlife.

 

 

Final Grade D-

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Monthly Meditation: Long Term Goals

Looking to goal

It is the long term goals that should hold your attention.

 

So it has been a while since I’ve put up a meditation.  I’m sorry, but nothing has been coming to me on this front and I feel nothing is better than something that is halfhearted and forced out.  So I’m now going to title these monthly meditations, and hopefully will have something come to me at least once a month.

 

However, something has come to me at last.

 

There is an expression by the Dalai Lama:

“If there is no solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it. If there is a solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it.”

 

This is an excellent thought and a variation in sentiment on the Serenity Prayer.

 

However, this or the serenity prayer isn’t always appropriate because sometimes, regrettably, we don’t always have the wisdom to know whether something can or cannot be done.

 

For instance a few years ago I was unsure if I should focus on my writing or use my time to find a new job as I was very unhappy in my job at the time.  Or should I split my free time between the two? At the time I made the correct choice and focused on writing, although at the time I probably didn’t consciously realize why that was correct decision.   But it was the correct decision because it focused on the long term problem and not the short term.

 

There have been other instances in my life that were like this, and when I reflect on them, when I focused on the long term problems and working to resolve those things tended to work out (as they did with my job…although admittedly not in the way I would have planned).  And when I focused on the short term problems, problems just kept piling up.

 

And suddenly in the last week I have realized that it is always the long term issues that need to be focused on.  Always.  It’s not enough to look toward the future, you have to look to an actual long term goal.

 

It’s ironic that I didn’t see this sooner as this has been my complaint about politics for so long, that our elected officials only see the immediate problems and their immediate solutions to an immediate problem which in turn only causes long term issues.  But this is true of personal lives and problems as well as in politics.

 

You need to focus on the long term issues, the long term problems and the long term goals first.

 

If you are directed toward the long term goals, the small things work themselves out either because you don’t focus on them as much or because God (or whatever name you want to use) tends to help you get over the small crap of the short term issues.

 

So the thing to focus on for this meditation is, as I’ve suggested before, make a list of what you really want in life.  Now prioritize them—what you want the most at the top, the lesser things at the bottom. (Hint: Happiness should be at the top, and the next few should be exactly what you need to have Happiness)   Now circle the top five or six.  And now forget about the rest.  Focus on those. Figure out what you need to do to get those, figure out what you need to learn, to find, to create to achieve those top three (four if you count Happiness, which your other things should all lead to).  Forget about everything else.  Every free moment you have should be focused on those things.

 

All the other small stuff will take care of itself, just keep focused on the long term goals.

 

The meditation for this month will be in training your mind to ignore all the smaller issues and stay focused on the major things.  Have a little faith, that if you are directed toward your ultimate goals, everything else will sort itself out to help you reach those goals.

 

 

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Causing small acts of positive energy

“They might be giants, and we might be pygmies; but we stand on the shoulders of giants, so we can see farther.” Attributed to Sir Isaac Newton

 

So by now you have probably figured out that for my meditations I prefer to list actions and habits to instill rather than just things to focus on during the typical quiet sitting type of meditation.  Now this is not to say that we don’t all need that 20-30 minutes of silent reflection every day (though we so seldom get it). But it is best when it is 20-30 minutes of keeping your mind as blank as possible. Focusing on certain things in your life or certain mantras can be wonderful things to do in preparation for the silence, but it is the moments of silence where you clear you mind of everything and listen to the universe is what is important.

 

But I like action.  Actions that help calm your life.  Actions that bring happiness into your life.

They bring a positive feeling that dispels worries and concerns that not only make your daily life easier…but actually also help with those moments of quiet meditation, because when you’ve dispelled the worries they don’t intrude on your trying to clear your mind of all things. If you’ve ever sat on the beach you probably know how you can close your eyes, empty your brain and then suddenly 20 minutes have gone by and you didn’t have a single thought…conversely after a bad day you can’t quiet your mind to save your life.  So it’s best to reinforce everything you do during the day with positive actions if you want to provide for the best setting for effective meditation.

 

So what I would recommend for the next two weeks is to make every place you go to better than you found it.  Hold a door for someone.  Compliment someone.  Pick up a piece of trash.  Leave a tip for the barista.  Help someone with their work.  Something, anything.  But no matter where you go make sure you did something that made it better than when you got there.  Now our knee jerk reaction to this is, why would that matter–so I do one thing, it’s not like anyone else is reading this blog, what will that matter.  But that is why I included that quote at the top.  It doesn’t matter how little your impact is, it doesn’t matter how small your actions are, even the pygmies who can see further can see further, and your action have made something better.

 

Just psychologically it will help dispel every single negative emotion because every single memory of the day will focus on the action you choose to take which made something better, wherever your mind roams you will see good…and that will lead to a much happier disposition.  From a New Age standpoint it gets better.  You will be spreading positive energy that will go every where, even if only in very small amounts.  But it will have a cascade effect.  Your aura will become positive energybrighter with every act and thus every place you go you will have more of an effect on those around you. If you could just get in 5 positive things in before you go to work every morning, (which I know is a lot given most of our morning routines involve avoiding people*) then you might by the time you get to work be very well immune to the usual low level negativity that surrounds the usual work place.

 

Just try it for two weeks.  Everywhere you go leave it better than when you found it.  Everywhere.  See if you don’t feel the change in your daily life and in your meditations.

 

 

*But if I may suggest…(1) compliment someone either in person if you live with someone or via whatever social media we all know we check first thing in the morning. (2) Share a blog, really it does make the author feel better (they like me they really really like me) (3) Leave a tip at Starbucks of at least a dollar and thank the person who gives you the drink, we often under estimate the power of a thank you (4) you will inevitably see a piece of trash somewhere between your residence and work, pick it up and throw it away (5) hold the door for someone on the way into work.  Just a suggested list but you get the idea. Small things.  Small things that pile up on each other.

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Calm

Okay, so very quickly, here is this week’s meditation.

Rather than do something of my own I found a wonderful site you may not be aware of.  Calm.com.

It offers 2, 10, and 20 minutes guided meditations.

You can pick the nature scene with that is accompanied by the matching background noise and for a few minutes just relax.

Calm 1

There are others but I felt this gives you an idea of the kind of backgrounds they have.

Listening to 2 minutes of this is better than a 15 minute break.

The discovery of this site has been a godsend to me, trust me, use it a couple times during your work day, you’ll find your stress level goes down, your productivity goes up, you’ll leave work happier, you get more done in the day.

It’s a nice reminder to just occasionally clear out from all your troubles.

calm 3

The other nice thing is that even when the meditation is over the sound of the scene will continue and you can just leave it on as relaxing white noise.

Works wonders for trying to get to sleep too.

So this week I would recommend that you just try out this site and see if it helps you regain some quiet and control in your life. calm 2

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Fear, Emotions, Choice and Control

After Earth Stupid statements

And let’s also ignore all those times that fear is present when danger isn’t real…a common habit among people. It’s a terrible sign when you can spot more than a dozen errors about human nature on a poster that contains less than a dozen words.

I know I’ve covered fear before, but after months of seeing that stupid After Earth poster it seemed time to deal with it again.  What am I referring to?  Why the dumbest line I have ever seen on a movie poster or in a trailer:

Fear is a choice.

I’m sorry but this is perhaps one of the dumbest things I have ever seen Hollywood say.

Fear, is an emotion.  All emotions are real.  They are our subconscious’ way of telling us about the trillion and one pieces of information it took in and doesn’t have time to tell you about all the information and all the calculations, so it gives you a quick assessment in the form an emotion.

If danger is real and you don’t feel fear you are either too stupid to not see the danger or insane.  Fear is not a choice.  How we choose to react to that fear is a choice.  How much we choose to let that emotion have control is a choice.  But to act as if our emotions themselves are a choice is wrong.  To act as if we should in someway shut off our emotions like fear (or any and all other emotions as it appears everyone has in that movie from the trailer). Further this is endorsing insanity.  It’s saying you shouldn’t have a natural reaction to danger.  Courage isn’t not feeling fear (again that’s called insanity); courage is feeling fear and choosing to go forward.  By saying fear, or sadness, or any emotion is a choice will eventually lead to problems because people will feel inherently inferior because they can’t control their emotions. *

Emotions are in and of themselves not necessarily positive or negative.  Even anger, hate, and rage are seen in saintly figures. The question is not what emotion you feel, but are you feeling the right emotion because you understand the situation and value the right things, and are you letting the emotion take control of you to the right degree.  Yes fear is not something we should usually let take hold of us…unless you’re being chased by a rabid dog, then, I suggest giving into fight or flight, because only the adrenaline that comes from the fear is going to save you.  Or as Aristotle put it:

For in everything it is no easy task to find the middle, e.g. to find the middle of a circle is not for every one but for him who knows; so, too, any one can get angry–that is easy–or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for every one, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble.

Nicomachean EthicsBook II, Chapter 9 1109a26-29 [Italics Added]

Emotions are neither good nor bad except when they are not in the proper degree.  The degree is your choice, the emotion itself is not.  Now all too often we give into certain emotions more readily (fear, anger, rage, desire) than we should.

Yes fear can be more destructive than most emotions when you give into it too much, which is why I have spoken about it before and why it must almost always be quelled when it comes up, hence the older statement that “fear is the mind killer”…but the quote comes with the point “I will face my fear” not I will simply not fear as if fear is a choice, but rather treating fear as a real thing which can be faced, dealt with, and not given into.  Fear is real and isn’t a choice.  The choice comes in how we deal with it.
But don’t we often say Happiness is a choice?

Yes, but we’re not referring to the temporary emotion of being happy, we’re referring to the culmination of all life worth living, Happiness with a capital H.  It is part of a slipshod way of speaking that people are all too fond of.  When people say we choose happiness it’s not because we choose one emotion or another, it’s because we choose thoughts and actions that cause the emotion we want over thoughts and actions that cause emotions we don’t want…but we can’t just change our emotions…we can train our brain to see certain things, and we can train it to feel certain ways, but we cannot just turn emotions off and on.

You can choose the thoughts you focus on, the situations you put yourself in and how you choose to act in those situations. But you cannot just choose how you feel.

So why is this a mediation?

Because all too often that annoying Ego of ours, our mis-creation that keeps trying to keep us from returning to God, using our propensity for emotions in the wrong degree against us. When in a frustrating situation it whispers to us to focus on the anger, when we are in a situation it nudges us to be centered on the fear, when under stress it tells us to focus on desires we don’t necessarily need (like stress eating).  The emotions themselves are not creations of the Ego, but the Ego wants us to focus on them because by focusing on these emotions at the wrong place and at the wrong time to the wrong degree keeps us from being centered and attaining Happiness.  And then as a coup de grâce the Ego tells you it was all your fault because fear is a choice, which just makes you feel even worse about yourself.

Litany Against Fear--I must not fear, fear is the mind killer

The proper way to handle fear…acknowledge it, deal with it, don’t dwell on it.

So for the next two weeks I want you to analyze your emotions at least once a day (If you can find three or four times a day to do a review even better).  Ask yourself if during every incident if you focused on the right emotion for the situation and to the right degree.  Was there an emotion you felt that you didn’t focus on, but would have resulted in a more positive outcome?  Did you focus on the right emotion but too little or too much?  The first step to changing how you react to your emotions is recognize when and where you’re making a misstep, it’s a long process, even a lifetime isn’t enough to perfect it.  But the first step is to look at your emotions and see if you are reacting properly.  And that is your mediation for the next two weeks.

*I could probably insult another work of science fiction here for depicting a race without emotions…but I’ve beat up on that franchise enough lately, and will say that at least they gave the excuse that this particular race’s emotions are typically so powerful and erratic that it was the choice between suppressing them entirely or giving into the chaos.  Not a great excuse, but at least it’s better than “Fear is a choice.”

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Clearing Your Mind

Carry OMSo I realized that my meditations have recently been focusing on more practical day to day applications.  These are important, and these are often neglected a little when we’re focused on more spiritual meditations…but I realized I was going a little too much to the other side.  And we should strive for balance in all aspects of our life.

So let’s start with a more traditional meditation.  Clearing your mind.

Try to find some place dark, with few as few sounds as possible(although maybe a little soft classical or New Age type music if it helps you).  Sitting in the Lotus Position (or as close as you can get) with your arms out stretched, hands open and the thumb and first finger touching, eye closed, start by focusing only on one thing.  I would generally focus on the mantra “OM”, you can repeat it mentally or actually chant it as you go.  Be sure to take slow deep breaths.  Fill up your lungs and breath from the diaphragm, and through the nose, hold the breath in your lungs for a moment, breath out slowly through your mouth, and then hold for a moment before breathing in. Try to slow down your breath as much as possible again (ideally you would like to work up to only 2 breaths per minute, but this will likely not be possible if you haven’t been doing this for a while).

Again as you chant focus only on the chant “OM” and nothing else.  Random thoughts will intrude, and you’ll think about them for a while, but don’t worry.  When you recognize your mind has wandered just focus on “OM” again.   Don’t chide yourself or worry about the fact that your mind wandered, it’s okay, just go back to “OM”.  The more you do this the longer you will be able to hold the thought. The goal here is to clear your mind of all extraneous thoughts and focus on only one thing.

Ideally you should try to be able to do this for 20 minutes at a time.  It may take some time be build up to this.   But the more you do this the longer you’ll be able to focus on a single thought.  The longer you can focus on a single thought the more you’ll find yourself connected to higher realms, you’ll find your thinking clearer, your energy higher, your happiness in general raised.

And if you can here’s a variation you can try if you can spare may be a few five minute spot throughout the day.   Instead of the simple chant of OM you can focus on each chakra with it’s own mantra.  Start the morning with a quick mediation on your root chakra work your way up throughout the day ending with an evening meditation on your crown chakra.

  • “LAM”- Chakra 1 (Root)Chakra
  • “VAM”- Chakra 2 (Sacral/Navel)
  • “RAM”- Chakra 3 (Solar Plexus)
  • “YAM”- Chakra 4 (Heart)
  • “HAM”- Chakra 5 (Throat)
  • “AUM”- Chakra 6 (Third Eye)
  • “OM”- Chakra 7 (Crown)

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The Importance of Religious Pluralism in the Journey of the Soul

Not sure why, but I’m seeing an upsurge in the frequency of people becoming more hostile about their religion being right and everyone else being wrong (and even for the people who aren’t making a big deal out of it, there is a certain ‘my religion is better than your religion’ arrogance in lots of groups, and it just feels like its getting worse).  And I’m not just talking about the psycho-fringe here (or I’m really underestimating the size of said “fringe”).  I always find this a puzzling concept.  Sure there are a few really insane beliefs out there–mostly the ones that dictate ‘my way or else I’ll kill you!’–but for the most part, most religions all have the same core values and differ only in forms, names, and rituals.  And quibbling over these relatively minor issues is pointless. First off most of these people who want to scream for their own religion and no others seem politically motivated (I’ve seen all sides engage in this religious idiocy) given that it only alienates people away from your political causes.  Further, reason doesn’t hold this up?   I mean, do you seriously believe that God, a being of supposed infinite love, compassion, understanding and wisdom, cares about what ritual you use to get closer to him, rather than if you actually get closer to him or not?

And it’s not just implicit in reason, recent scientific research into reincarnation and near-death experience also demonstrate this. Scientific studies have shown that reincarnation is a fact and that you change from religion to religion based on your life—if that’s the case it can’t be that God loves one religion and hates all others.  Similar studies have also shown that during near death experiences everybody goes to heaven, doesn’t matter what their religion is…it’s almost as if God doesn’t give a shit what name you call him by.

potala palace lhasa

The Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet…it seemed like a place both remote and spiritual enough to serve as the starting place for the soul.

So does this mean that all religions are worthless?  That there is just God and his children and it doesn’t matter what you believe…not exactly.   Now, with that knowledge of near death experiences and reincarnation studies, it seems to be that the majority of religions are correct, that life is a series of rebirths, a progression of lessons and stages of learning all leading to Enlightenment…but that still doesn’t invalidate the idea that you should follow the religion you feel called to. If the soul is on a journey toward Enlightenment, let’s think of it as a journey.   For the sake of metaphor let’s say all souls start out standing in the Potala Palace in Lhasa.  High in the Himalayas, disconnected from the rest of the world.  And you know you have to get somewhere (Enlightenment) you have had it roughly described to you, but you don’t quite know where you are going or exactly how to get there.

How you get there would be comparable to the mode of transportation you take.  Some ways like Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, New Age belief and modern Paganism might be equivalent to walking, taking a bike, a boat, a car or a plane*, other religions maybe more like trying a unicycle with a flat tire, spinning in a circle believing you will magically teleport, digging through the center of the earth using a rusty spoon or launching yourself into orbit using high explosives and hoping you land in the right place. ** While in the minority there are religions that are all but useless in all cases…however most religions are more dependent on where you are in your journey. In this example if one religion is equivalent to riding in a car and you’ve hit the Pacific Ocean, it may have gotten you to this point but you need a different mode of transportation (a different belief system) to advance on the next stage of your journey.

Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, Arizona

Now for the sake of argument in this travel metaphor let’s say that Enlightenment exists at the Devil’s Bridge in Northern Arizona (chosen for the fact that it is beautiful, and the irony was just too good to pass up).

Now to get from our stating place in Tibet and ending place in Arizona there is no way a single mode of transportation is going to cut it the whole way.  You are at best going to have to walk part of the way, either take a boat or plane part of the way, and probably have to travel in some other forms of transportation for part of the journey.

The Journey of the Soul Metaphor

If only the journey of the soul was this short a distance.

Let’s add to the fact that you’re not always sure where you’re headed.  Granted as long as you’re moving you may be getting closer, or at least have a better chance to learn where the right place is as opposed to the stupidity of staying still, but that still doesn’t always mean you’re moving in the right direction (as some religions that could be used to progress can be misused to put you further away from God…Westboro come to mind).

You could use this metaphor for a lot of things, and show it flawed in numerous other ways.  I just want to show that even on a journey you may use different modes of transportation, as different religions may serve different souls on their journey to Enlightenment.

And my overall point here is that reason tells you God is too perfect a being to care what name you call him by or what rituals you go through to honor him, it’s silly to think that one religion is the right one and all others are false.  Yes there are some blindingly stupid beliefs out there, and there may be beliefs that are wrong for you in your life (take a car when you’re on the ocean) but just because your religious beliefs work for you don’t assume they would work for everyone. The most you can do is ask if you find that your beliefs are leading you to God (if they are, bully for you) and if someone else’s beliefs could never in any way, shape, or form lead a person to God (a religion that calls for stoning people in the 21st century for instance) and oppose those vile beliefs will all your heart and soul.

So even if you aren’t decrying that your religion is better than all others, it might also be best to not always believe that (I know some will think I’m only critiquing Christians here, but really this my religion is better than your religion arrogance can be found in almost every religion)…your beliefs may be exactly what you personally need in your journey right now, but don’t believe that your beliefs will work for everyone at every time.

sedona rainbow

you can never have too many random pictures of Sedona

*Try not to match those up, the religions are in more or less chronological order and the modes of transportation are more or less random.

** I may or may not have had Scientology, Atheism, Keynesianism (it denies basic reality so much and requires so much be taken on faith it’s pretty much a cult) come to mind here…oh and I can’t think what religion I had in mind when I mentioned strapping high explosives to yourself…certainly not a religion of peace.  Not everyone following those beliefs is stuck at a stand still, it’s just highly, highly unlikely they’re going to be making a major push forward in that life.  And this is the balance to an acceptance of other beliefs, admitting that there are some really dumb beliefs out there.

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Bi weekly meditation: Take a break.

 

So this is a little late for the bi weekly meditation. I needed a break.   I blogged nearly daily for two years hoping in some small part to take down the tyrant.  But absolute stupidity and a fair amount of cheating conspired to make the immediate payoff of my efforts pay off.  I am still not back to my peak energy levels, but it was very needed.

 

So among others things I took a week off and did nothing. Nothing.  Yeah I put out a few small blogs, but overall I just slept and sat around.  I’m usually not one for doing nothing…I’m not the physically most active but usually I’m writing or reading or doing something. But for a week I pretty much did nothing.  There may have been some Nintendo involved (and can usually go years without playing video games).

having fun

Now probably most people aren’t the workaholic that I am.  So maybe the a whole week of down time isn’t called for…although the Bible actually called for people to take every seventh year off (it’s impractical now, I can’t see how it could have been done pre Industrial Revolution at all,  maybe one day capitalism will have created enough innovation we can actually try it)…still the fact is that we should all take a rest, not necessarily meditate, not read, not exercise, but just have fun without thinking of anything else.  These other things have a valuable purpose, but every so often you need to not to anything to let your brain and your body just catch up and process everything.
So while I am not encouraging laziness this week.  Maybe when you have a moment ask yourself if you need just a few minutes maybe even an hour of rest.  Take a nap.  Play a game.  Just don’t feel like you have to constantly do something.  (Obviously if you’re very used to doing nothing, you may want to do the opposite).

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Rules for Life

So I was working on a more complex meditation when I ran across this.rules for life

I think this is actually more interesting than what I was working on (maybe two weeks from now it will evolved into something better).  I might question if it really comes from a Sanksrit text, but the ideas are still valid and worth thinking over in your daily mediations.

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Bi Weekly Meditation: There should be no conflict between reason and faith.

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

In the beginning was Reason*, and Reason was with God, and Reason was God. (John 1:1)

I post this correct translation of the verse because I have had some odd runs ins with atheists and fanatical Christians lately (and in one really bizarre case someone who seemed to be both at the same time, yes I think that person was just a bit mentally unhinged) who seems to think that reason and faith in God somehow completely incompatible.

This is silly.

This is an embrace of the preposterous ancient concept of “I believe because it absurd .”  That faith, and by extension God, are opposed to and not limited by reason.

Now while there may be some people who feel this way, no sane religion I can think of takes this position.  From St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Contra Gentiles to Krishna in the Bhagavad –Gita to even being implicit in the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, and obviously in the quote above, faith and reason are not portrayed as opposing ideas but rather as ideas that fit together perfectly.

Creation of Adam

There is a reason why that robe around God is shaped like a brain and why the angels are contorted in just the right way to look like the different lobes of the brain.

Yes there are points where reason due to lack of knowledge and information can’t go beyond and that is why we need faith to go beyond it.  And there are places where reason might suggest a certain conclusion, but because our faith disagrees with this point we are forced to revisit the line of logic to find that we missed something.  And there must be times when reason commands that we put away some foolish ideas we previously held on faith.  But correct faith and reason always point to the Truth and are never truly opposed.    And anyone who thinks that they are by nature opposed doesn’t know anything.

Granted if faith says one thing and reason another you do need to find out if your reason is bad or if you misunderstand the point of faith, but never should they be opposed when both done correctly.

But God is ultimate reason, there is no possible reason why God, and the faith that believes in him, should conflict with reason.  And he gave you a brain and the free will to use it…I doubt that was simply to submit to illogic.  Faith may be needed to buffer us through some of the hard parts, but it doesn’t conflict with reason.  And reason doesn’t conflict with faith when they both point to the truth.

So for the next couple of weeks I would like you to consider what you believe because of reason and because of faith.  Find the contradictions, work through them.  And if you simply want a mantra to begin and end these meditations with may I suggest:

God is the mind in which I think

*Some will likely dispute this translation…but if you translated any other philosophical work from the time period λόγος (logos) would be translated as Reason or Logic.  Now in the NeoPlatonic belief system this word is jammed full of a lot of meaning and quite a bit of mysticism, but first and foremost it does mean Reason.

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Thou art God

 

 

So, for some reason (I think fear) I’m seeing a rise in the religiously zealous (and I meant that in the most insulting form of zealotry).  I am seeing far more people claim such preposterous things such as “True humility is inspired by a knowledge that we are less than God, and will always remain so.”  Yeah some psycho wack-job felt the need to tell me that.  First off this is just stupid because true humility comes from acknowledging not only your strengths and potential but that of everyone around you, it recognizes that you are not necessarily better than others, but that you are worthy of pride, hence the phrase “Don’t be so humble, you’re not that great.”  To just say that you are inferior isn’t humility, it’s self-loathing.

 

Second of all is this idiotic concept that we are less than God.  Why would a perfect being create anything that wasn’t perfect?  Why would a being of love create something only to worship it?  Why would an all knowing being create something that could only sin and make mistakes?  Unlike some people, I don’t believe God is stupid or psychotic, nor does he bear any of the personality disorders we see in people.  God would have no reason to create something inferior to himself. Just because we’re caught in the bad dream that is this world, doesn’t mean that in reality we are inferior to our creator.  If we were, God would be the worst parent in existence because it would mean he intentionally wanted his children to be inferior to him.  A true/good parent only loves and wishes the best for their children and only want to be loved and respected back from their children.  Only a sick person would want worship from anyone.

Creation of Adam

To believe you are inferior to God means you believe he couldn’t or wouldn’t create something perfect…which kind of violates the very concept of God.

“You have not only been fully created, but have also been created perfect.” –A Course in Miracles, Text, Chapter 2, I:1:3

 

You, your soul, are a creation of God, it is perfect, and it is divine. There are only three belief systems that fully deny this divinity. Atheism, Islam (except for the Sufi’s), and close-minded Christianity which doesn’t know how to properly read their own book.  (And remind me of all the problems those belief systems cause?)

 

Don’t believe me?

 

Let’s look at some of the texts throughout the world.

 

“An eternal part of Myself [God], manifesting as a living soul in the world of being”  Bhagavad Gita 15:7

“It is God, and God alone, who has encased Himself as the soul in the many human beings He has created.”—Paramahansa Yogananda, God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita

Lesson 35 from the Workbook for Student of A Course in Miracles

My mind is part of God’s.  I am very holy.

 

Even the Buddhists who are agnostic as to the nature of the soul and God, and believe that every living thing has a soul, still recognize the special place the human soul has in creation as the most perfect opportunity to reach enlightenment.

 

Imagine a wide ocean with a golden yoke adrift upon it. In the depths of ocean swims a single blind turtle, who surfaces for air once every hundred years. How rare would it be for the turtle to surface with its head through the hole in the yoke? The Buddha said that attaining a precious human rebirth is rarer than that.—The Dalai Lama The Way to Freedom 

 

And of course the central line in the Bible that shows this point:

 

“God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him” Gen 1:27 (New American Bible)

 

Did you think this was in reference to your physical appearance?  That God is a biped that looks like a highly evolved chimp?  No it’s in reference to your soul, that the soul of a human being is something divine and perfect.  (Even more so for Christians for whom Christ, who is the image of God, (2 Corinthians 4:4) thus connecting the image of God which has already been connected to all humans, but to Christ, and what made Christ special).

 

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point.  Every sane religion is based on the idea that the human soul is divine, every religious belief that is at the heart of suffering and misery denies this basic truth.

 

We are made in the image of God, we are a part of God, and we are divine.  We just have forgotten that.

 

Why do I bring this all up as this week’s mediation?

 

Because it is falling for this lie of the ego that we are inferior, that we are not good enough, that nothing we can do will ever be good enough, that more than anything keeps people held back.  It is a belief that engenders self-loathing, because if you are imperfect what possible reason could there be for God in his perfection to love you, and if God can’t, who can?   It is a belief that engenders fear, because if you are not divine then you have no control over your life and your free will amounts to nothing. It is a belief that engenders hatred, defeat, hopelessness and everything that is not God.  And if you think that I’m taking these little ideas to an illogical extreme, remember that your ego wants you to take them to an illogical extreme because when you realize you are God and not your ego, you ego will cease to be and you will at once be one with God.  And your ego will fight violently to protect the illusion of its existence.

 

I bring it up, as I have brought it up in various other forms, because the belief that you can with God’s help and the help of beings who are already enlightened (the true meaning of “No one can come to the Father except through me” isn’t a call that everyone should be a Christian, it’s statement that only through enlightenment—Christ-consciousness as some would call it—does one become one with God again) once again regain the self-knowledge of your divinity and return you to your place of perfection as the Son of God.

 

So for this week every chance you have, remind yourself that you are the Son of God.  You are perfect.  You are divine.

 

Or you can pull from this list of mantras from A Course in Miracles:

God is in everything I see because God is in my mind

My mind is a part of God’s.  I am very holy

My holiness blesses the world.

My holiness is my salvation.

God is my Source.  I cannot see apart from Him.

I am the light of the world.

Love created me like itself.

I am entitled to miracles.

I am as God created me.

I am one Self, united with my Creator.

Our Deepest Fear

Yes, theoretically this could give rise to arrogance and pompousness…but you know what, I’m not seeing that as being the biggest problem in the world right now. Let’s deal with the problem at hand.

 

But if you really feel yourself drifting to the arrogance repeat this one from the Course:

 

Forgiveness is the function of the light of the world.  Let me not forget my function.

 

That should bring you back to balance.

 

Who are you?  What do you believe in?

Every symbol on here is a belief in the divinity of the soul.  It is silly to think they’re all wrong.

 

 

 

Do you grok?

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Learning To Disengage: Part II

Yeah I know I already did a meditation on this.  As I’ve said before a lot of these meditations come from issues I’m having or seeing with others…and this is something I have issues with.  Admitting you have a problem is the first step.

jackass-whisperer

So let me do a little background that will probably strike a chord with most of you as well.

First off I’m on the internet (and if you’re reading this, odds are you are too).  In fact I’m on several avenues.  I’m on Facebook and WordPress and Twitter and now Tumblr (what in God’s name was I thinking?).  I actually don’t like a lot of this.  Yes, I like keeping in touch with friends on Facebook, and coming up with witty moments on Twitter, and obviously I love writing so WordPress is handy too.  But (with the exception of the reason I originally got on Facebook) do you know what my primary goal for being on all of these is?  Book sales.  I view all of it as modern advertising to get my books sales up.  And it works, I get more hits from all these sites to my pages on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and AuthorHouse than I do from any other source.  It’s marketing in the 21st century.  My goal is to become a full time writer (I have plans and outlines for over 20 books, fiction and nonfiction) but I need one of them to take off first.

However to be active on all of these you run into a lot of idiots.   A lot of idiots.

And that brings me to the second problem I have that I’m sure a lot of you can identify with.  I like to hear opposing opinions, I like to hear someone challenge my ideas with thoughtful arguments, I enjoy argument for the sake of argument and I like to challenge my own beliefs. But people on the internet are so dumb and so arrogant in their idiocy.  Their stupidity makes me not want to even listen, and their arrogance makes me want to beat them into a pulp with words.  I think we all feel this when being confronted with idiots.

It doesn’t help, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I have three settings: off, polite conversation, and FLAMING SWORD OF TRUTH IN MY HANDS READY TO DECAPITATE ALL WHO OPPOSE ME.  (In case you’re wondering I’m very good at not reaching that third level in public, but it’s so tempting on the internet…)

For instance I had two idiots both try and tell me that the philosophy behind communism and fascism weren’t responsible for the atrocities, those governments were just “cults of personality”  (2 people actually used that term)…yes, because, Franco, Stalin, and Brezhnev and Hu Jintao are just who you always look to when you think charismatic person who has a cult of personality.  And I saw this WTF inducing statement after already responding to two other idiots.  (And it doesn’t help that responding to two idiots drove the hit count on my blog up.  Neither the thoughtful discussion I linked on my blog, nor the snarky post I initially put up is what brought the viewers; it was the pettier argument that brought them.   I’m receiving classical conditioning to give into some of my worst habits.)

Now, I know I need to keep hit count up, I need to stay in people’s eyes, but I also know that arguing with idiots is pointless.  It wastes time, it wastes energy and you get more emotionally involved and drained the longer it goes on.

And part of this I think comes from habits I developed in teaching.  Yes I am more than willing to debate the nature of Iago, the personality of Heathcliff, the political implications of Enjolras’ speeches at the barricades, and hear all of my student’s beliefs without taking a side.  Probably because I challenged them to back up their points whether I agreed with them or not.  But on the few cases where I would have a student say something factually incorrect (or in the very rare case of being something just evil like bordering on anti-Semitism) I would shut that down right there and then.  I would have to respond and disprove that statement lest it gets spread.

But for me, and I think for a lot of us who get bogged down in these pointless conversations with idiots, I think we all know the power of ideas, and are worried that if you don’t respond to idiots that we are conceding the argument and that idiots are winning and that their ideas will spread and since ideas have consequences that will end in very, very bad things.  But here is where the meditation comes in…

Have faith.  People who are open to reason if they stumble upon the idiot’s comments will use reason and see the stupidity.  People who are not open to reason will never be open to reason.  And pointless bickering will not win idiots or the reasonable.

Whenever you start getting into one of these situations, or at the beginning of each day if you’re like me, repeat to yourself:

I can only be responsible for myself.  I have presented my ideas.  I have responded to the ideas that are worthy of responding to.  I will not engage in a pointless argument that will drag me down. People who are open to the truth will find it, and my being utterly petty will not help them find the truth.

Now for me I’ll still comment on a few of the idiots to keep hit count up, but I’m not going to get dragged into the back and forth of arguing with an idiot as if they’re an equal.

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Focus on the Present

 

 

I should probably do a meditation on not taking on too much…but that would rather hypocritical and something I’m just not ready to do in my own life…so this week we’ll be covering

But in lieu of that you can at least focus on dealing with the problems at hand.

Tao Te Ching

 

Focus on the following quote for 5-10 minutes every morning.  And repeat as necessary if anything comes up that stresses you out.  All you have control over right now is your own actions.  Planning for the future is important, and that’s sometimes something you should be doing, but make the plan, account for the most likely contingencies and then only worry about what you can do in the present…why because the best common sense will tell you even the best plans are going are to fall apart in the moment, so you don’t have to worry about them.  Do what you can now and roll with punches.

As for the past, if you’re analyzing it looking for mistakes and how not to make them again, that’s one thing and a valuable thing…but it’s also detached.  It shouldn’t cause a negative emotional reaction, and if it is you’re not doing anything productive. Those are the times you most need to focus on what you can do in the present.

And as anxiety and depression come up during the day repeat this quote and then move onto to doing something in the present.  I’ll admit this seems so common sense and obvious to be bordering on trite, but those are often the lessons we most often forget and don’t practice when we should.

 

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BiWeekly Meditation–Looking for the Win-Win Solution

“[Adam] Smith noted that in all transactions, both parties come out better for it.”–Republicans And Reincarnation 

Weekly Meditation: The Sixth Chakra.


Okay, first let me say that I’m switching to bi weekly mediations.  I’ve been doing this for two year and (taking the few weeks I skipped) that’s about 100 meditations, (That’s a lot of meditations) if you need something to focus on to center your mind, it’s not like they have a shelf life and go bad after two weeks.  So rather than keep coming up with stuff every week, I’m going to switch to doing these every other week.

And I think that works out best for everyone, it allows me to take more time to plan these, and you more time to get something out of every meditations.

It’s a win-win.  Which happens to be the theme of this meditation.

As many of my more loyal readers know, I am a huge fan of capitalism.  And besides the fact that it’s the only system that works and is sustainable, there are all the ethical reasons I support capitalism.  One of them is that capitalism is the only system that allows for a win-win scenario. Every honest transaction in capitalism benefits both the seller and the buyer–you both get something you want and you both make your lives better for it.  It’s why this system is the only one that creates prosperity, creates wealth, creates ideas and innovation, and creates a better society.  It’s a system where no one has to lose.  Every other system there HAS TO BE a loser, with liberty and true capitalism the only losers are the ones who don’t engage in the system of free exchange and try to be the most virtuous person they can.  It is the system that models the growth of our souls to enlightenment, everyone can get there, but it is only by choice, work and will power they will.*

But one of the reasons I think so many people are opposed to it is because they are stuck in a win-lose mind set.  They think that every situation has to have a winner and a loser.  If you’re doing better I’m doing worse.  In reality this isn’t so.  With the exception of the artificial nature of sports, life doesn’t have to be about winners and losers.  If one company does well it doesn’t mean its competition must fail, it only means that its competition must adapt, possibly by improving their product, possibly by going in a new direction…and the consumer benefits from both (Microsoft AND Apple seem to be doing well, as well as they myriad of companies that benefit because they do well and the chain of thought goes on and on). Just because you get a promotion doesn’t mean I lost, I now have further opportunities to shine, and I don’t have to feel pressured by the comparison (or a thousand other ways to look at it…a lot of situations come down to how we choose to interpret them and react to them.  If you look at most situations as opportunities, you will seldom find a loss).

But let’s be honest, since there are people with the win-lose attitude instead of the win-win attitude, it does spill into our lives whether we want it or not.  So we have to show people that there are win-win solutions where we can find them.  We have to look for them, we have to propose them to those around us, and we have to convince people.  But the first part of this is that we have to look for them.  So I would recommend either in the evening to spend ten to twenty minutes reviewing all the situations you had during the day that devolved into win-lose situations (or the morning to look back on the previous day).  Look for the ways that they could have been win-win solutions for all involved.  Run it through your mind for to see if there were multiple ways it could have been a win-win.  And do this not with guilt or self-recrimination.  You’re looking at this to get you mind in the habit of looking for win-win opportunities, not to chide yourself for not seeing them at the time they occurred.  The only way you’re going to be being to see them as they occur is if your review previous encounters and see what other possibilities were open that you did not see at the time. And, like so many of these meditations, isn’t something you’re not going to pick up immediately.  It’s a skill that needs to be nurtured, refined, and practiced before you get really good at it.

Now, I do need to point out that just because you can see the win-win solution it does not mean you can convince others.  I remember a time I tried to help someone with a project at work and they incredibly behind on.  This person at first attacked me because they saw my attempt to help them get through the project faster as an insult and responded rather angrily with comments like “I said I’ll get it done and I’ll get it done” (even though they were past the deadline) and then told me “if you want to do this all, fine, I would rather be doing something else.”  This person saw only the win-lose, either they did all the work, or I did all the work, only one person gets free time (yes this had bled into working on the weekend).  It became clear that the win-win of if we both do this we’d both get out of here quickly wasn’t open to this person.  So I shut down my computer, went home, and finished the project later that night when the portion I was waiting on was finished.  If it’s going to be win-lose, I have no intention of being the loser.  And it is at this point that you need to understand if someone makes it clear that there is only a win-lose situation, you should not act like a martyr and think that you should be the one to lose.  Like the Constitution, spiritual enlightenment, is not a suicide pact.  If it’s going to be win-lose, and you’re tried to make an attempt to show any win-win opportunities you can think of, if it is the other person choosing the losing philosophy don’t let yourself be harmed by it.

 

So for the next two weeks look for the win-win opportunities and see you can reduce the stress and increase the moments of peace (and maybe even enlightenment) in your life.

*Okay there might be divine grace in there too, but that has no parallel in any economic system…unless we want to get into voluntary charity, which again is a liberty/capitalism thing.

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The Weekly Meditation: Setting Goals For the New Year

So the new year is upon us.  I don’t know about you but 2012 is not going down as the best year in my life…and I wish it will go down as the worst year of my life (but I feel certain tyrants will put the next four in the running).

That aside, let’s look to the new year.

About now is when people start thinking about making New Year’s Resolutions.  This is usually a mistake that turns into a miserable failure.  Usually, I think, for two reasons. The first is that people make these grand resolutions and then when they don’t get done in the first couple of week people just give up. The second problem, I think because people tend to focus on only one aspect, thinking that improving one thing about themselves is all they need to worry about, when in reality were a multifaceted beings, and each part is connected to all other parts.  To just work on one small thing without adjusting all the parts to work in harmony will often fail.

 

So I’m going to propose for this week is in three parts the first is to meditate on areas of your life where you can improve for each of the seven chakras (to save space I’m not going to go over what each is unless someone asks).  If seven goals seems like too much, I might look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (which is deeply connected to the chakras) and look for 5 things you can improve on–look for 5 ways you can meet the 5 different categories of needs*.  The goal should be looking for multiple ways to make yourself a better person, a person you want to be, a person who is closer to God–way that in terms of habits, your physical nature, your emotions, your thoughts and beliefs are all better.

 

Chakra

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

 

After you have your goals in mind, goals that look to you as a whole person, I would recommend taking time to break that goal into 4-10 steps.

Write these goals and these steps out…post them in your house, they’re going to be your friends for the whole year. Bare minimum that’s 20 intermediate goals.  You will see progress on that no matter what if you put even a modicum of effort into this, which means there will be less chance of giving up due to not seeing results.

Finally, if this part doesn’t take all week at the end of the week (and probably at least once a week for the whole year) you should sit and envision yourself at the end of the having met every goal.  See the person who you have become and believe that it will be a fact.  Even if you don’t believe in the Law of Attraction and that thought creates reality, the psychological fact is that this will help reinforce your habits and desire to meet your goal.

Now matter what this will help you in your path of self improvement, which is what life is supposed to be about because that’s what leads to Happiness.

 

 

 

 

* Yes I know it’s a hierarchy and one should meet certain needs before others…but the fact of the matter even if we’re meeting needs most of us probably have a flaw or two in how we’re meeting them and can improve (we’re only human after all)…and by improving the foundation it makes meeting other needs easier.  Also by look to needs we haven’t met we can help provide ourselves the needed motivation to get past problems that involve us meeting our current needs.

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