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Unwrap Today’s Gifts

I was reviewing some of my old reflections and I discovered a piece of prose which I shared back in 2002. This interesting short writing was included by Og Mandino in his book The Greatest Mystery in the World. I invite you to read this and consider it carefully.

YESTERDAY

By Dr. Frank Crane

I am Yesterday. I am gone from you forever.

I am the last of a long procession of days, streaming behind you,
away from you, pouring into mist and obscurity, and at last looking back 1 400 pix
into the ocean of oblivion.

Each of us have our burden, of triumph, of defeat, of laughter,
of bitterness; we bear our load from you into forgetfulness;
yet as we go we each leave something in your subconsciousness.

We fill your soul’s cellar.

I depart from you; yet I am ever with you.

Once I was called Tomorrow and was virgin pure; then I
became your spouse and was named Today; now I am Yesterday and
carry upon me the eternal stain of your embrace.

I am one of the leaves of a growing book. There are
many pages before me. Some day you shall turn us all over
and read us and know what you are.

I am pale, for I have no hope. Only Memories. looking back 2 400

I am rich, for I have wisdom.

I bore you a child and left him with you.
His name is Experience.

You do not like to look at me. I am not pretty.
I am majestic, fateful, serious.

You do not love my voice. It does not speak to your desires;
it is cool and even and full of prudence.

I am Yesterday; yet I am the same as Today and Forever
for I AM YOU; and you cannot escape from yourself.

Sometimes I talk with my companions about you. looking back 3 400
Some of us carry the scars of your cruelty.
Some the wretchedness of your crime.
Some the beauty of your goodness.
We do not love you. We do not hate you.
We judge you.

We have no compassion; only Today has that.
We have no encouragement for you; only Tomorrow has that.

We stand at the front door of the past,
welcoming the single file of days that pass through,
watching Tomorrows becoming Todays and then enter
among us.

Little by little we suck out your life, as vampires.
As you grow older we absorb your thought. You turn to us
more and more; less and less toward Tomorrow.

Our snows cumber your back and whiten your head.
Our icy waters put out your passions. Our exhalations
dim your hopes. Our many tombstones crowd into your
landscape. Our dead loves, burnt-out enthusiasms,
shattered dream-house, dissolved illusions, move
to you, surround you.

Tomorrows come unnoticed. Todays slip by unheeded.
More and more you become a creature of Yesterdays.

Ours are banquet halls full of wine-soaked tablecloths,
broken vessels, wilted roses.

Ours are empty churches where aspirations were,
where only ghosts are.

Ours are ghastly Pompeiian streets, rich galleons
a hundred fathoms deep, genealogical lists of sonorous
names, mummies in museums, fragmentary pillars of battered
temples, inscriptions on bricks of Nineveh, huge stone
gates standing amidst the tropical landscape of Yucatan,
Etruscan wine jars now dry and empty forever.

From us comes that miasma of inertia that holds
humanity in thrall; from us comes the strength of war-makers,
monarchs, and all the privileged.

We reach up long, sinewy, gray arms of custom and hands reaching 335
tradition, to choke Today and impede Tomorrow.

We are the world’s Yesterdays. If you knew enough
to put your feet upon us, you might rise rapidly. But
when you let us ride on your backs we strangle and
smother you.

I am Yesterday. Learn to look me in the face,
to use me, and not to be afraid of me.

I am not your friend. I am your judge
– and your fear.

Tomorrow is your friend.

There are no chains which bind us to yesterday. While the idea of starting with a clean slate, today, can seem impossible there is no reason, other than habit, to carry any emotional baggage from the past.

Today is all there is, and even an hour from now is not guaranteed.

This is why being fully present to this moment is so essential. It is also why we cannot put off, until tomorrow, anything which needs to be said or done today.

Today is our friend. The only value yesterday holds is the knowledge and wisdom gained though its experience. Wipe your slate clean and begin, this moment, with new eyes. Allow each instant to unfold without the pain of yesterday’s memories and you may be amazed at what treasure’s await discovery.

I Wish For You …

Last night at Spiritual Cinema we watched the beautiful movie, I Am by Tom Shadyac. There were a couple of quotes, which inspired me, in the movie but I had not taken any notes, so I went to the director’s website to search for them. Instead of finding the exact ideas I was seeking I discovered these from Hafiz:

“When all your desires are distilled relaxing in the grass
You will cast just two votes
To love more
And be happy”

*
“I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The Astonishing Light
Of your own Being.”

These two thoughts really capture the theme of this thoughtful movie well. I do not think there is anything I can add to these profound words. Hafiz’s wishes are my own and they point to the reasons I feel compelled to write and share my insights. If I had one wish for anyone who may read this it would be that you might discover that you are LOVE and that everything in your world reflects your awareness of that Truth.

As an interesting side note, no one present last night had read yesterday’s post, yet the first thing we discussed as soon as we stopped the movie was the importance of doing work you love. What is serendipitous about this was the fact that it was not me who initiated this aspect of our discussion. I love the way life unfolds.

Life is a beautiful dance when we listen to the music within us. Thank you for sharing this dance with me.

Find the Work you Love

It seems that at least once a year there is a new book touting the idea that you can find work which you will find fulfilling by doing that which you love. The challenge, that most of us seem to find, is that it is difficult to decide what it is we love. Or, in some cases we find that we love so many things, it is hard to narrow the field down.

Here is what I know to be true: It is much easier to sit down to work when the task at hand is something I love to do. My interests are varied and so I may be building a landscaping wall one day and washing our cars the next. I write every day because I love the whole process of creating something from nothing. I do not know if I will ever find a way to sell any of my writing, but it does not factor in when I pick up pen and paper each day. writer 1

There are many people who have suggested the value of loving what we do. I really like Gary Zukav’s take on the subject: “When the deepest part of you becomes engaged in what you are doing, when your activities and actions become gratifying and purposeful, when what you do serves both yourself and others, when you do not tire within but seek the sweet satisfaction of your life and your work, you are doing what you were meant to be doing.

When we can figure out what we love and do it with great energy and commitment, the Universe has no choice but to reward us with success.

I do not know what Ray Bradbury’s spiritual beliefs are but his take on doing what you love is impressive: “Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.

I think his idea that your work needs to be something you live for is very wise. Clearly, that cannot be just your routine job. I think our work must be so important to us that we feel we would not want to live without it.

Steve Jobs reminded us that: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” I think the concept that our work must be “great work” which we also love adds a component to this definition which many of the well-known quotes leave out. When we are convinced that the work we are choosing offers the possibility of being great work, however we define that, it has the potential for offering us an additional reason for satisfaction. carpenter

Kahlil Gibran said, “Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.” This idea really drives home the concept that our work does not feed us when it is a burden.

Finally, Rumi suggested that we “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.

While this may not help if you really cannot figure out what it is that you love to do but it does highlight the fact that many of our wisest teachers have recommended that we do the work to find our answers. It would seem that the rewards of such self-discovery far outweigh the frustrations encountered in such examination.

I will tell you that even if you insist that you have no clue what it is you love, you really do know. Throughout your life you have had moments and hours of epiphanies in which you said to yourself or to friends, “I wish I could find a way to do this for a living.” Even if you have not used those exact words you have spent time which passed at a speed which exceeded reason, or you have heard friends or family offer you advice concerning how you could use your special talents to bless others. Every time you have had one of these experiences, you have been given glimpses into ways in which you could use your gifts to do great works.coffee and book

I will close with one last thought, this time from Natalie Goldberg: “Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go.

Witness Beauty

Wherever you are
Whatever your state
You have the opportunity
To witness beauty.
 amazing sunset small
Even in the most desolate
Of climes
The most barren
Of lands
Beauty IS!
 
One glimpse of beauty
And your life is transformed.
For to see beauty
You must be present,
Here and now.
 california poppy small
In that moment
Of presence,
Regardless how brief,
You are free
Simply because
You witness beauty.
 
You owe it to yourself
To not only stop and smell the flowers
But become a witness
To their magnificence
 beautiful spring small
In so doing
You will find yourself
Reflected,
Your beauty
Mirrored.
 
For to see beauty
You must be beautiful.
You may only see
That which you are.
 
Therein lies a great secret.
What you see
Is what you are.
 
See Beauty.
See yourself.
 baby looking in mirror
What you are
Is beyond words.
 
What you see
Of what you are
When free of judgment
Can only be beauty
Can only be magnificence.
 
Look in the mirror
Hold your gaze
Until you see
Beauty
 
What could be simpler?
 
Eckhart Tolle said, “Seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their own innermost being, their true nature.”
 into the flower 307
So,

Witness Beauty
Make it your mission
Peer into the Truth
Of Who and What you ARE.

God as Concept

If I tell you that any God the mind can conceive is a creation of that mind, how does that sit with you? Do you become defensive? Do you immediately go to a place where you want to make me wrong, or do you agree with this concept?

Is your mind open enough to consider the possibility that any concept of God is a creation of the human mind or do you want to fight to defend your idea of what God is? thoughtful statue

Your response to this question can either open you to the possibility of self-discovery or you can have a reaction which shuts you down. Your response may fall anywhere between these extremes and regardless offers you the chance to learn something about yourself.

So where do your ideas, about what God is, come from, provided you believe in such an entity at all? Were they given to you by parents or other family members? Do they come from any particular religion or from your reading of some text you hold sacred? Or, perhaps, your perceptions arise from within your own heart and mind?

Regardless of the source of your ideas about God, have they been carefully contemplated or were they accepted without thoughtful consideration? Consider these words from Robert Powell: “It must be stated that it is so much easier to repeat and accept something one has heard than to question everything regardless of its source. Our propensity in this direction is constantly exploited in the areas of religion and politics.”

A quick glance at the internet reveals that over 90% of the U.S. adult population believes in the existence of God. Less than 10% claim to be agnostic or atheist. I wonder what percentage of this number would say they “know” that there is some Supreme Being. It would be interesting to discover how they arrived at this wisdom.

What I “know” is that there is a Unifying Force which exists and gives rise to all that is. Is that God? I would say that this One power and Force far exceeds any concept my human mind can imagine. To name it God or any conceptualized terminology must, by its very nature, fall short of this Infinite Field of Energy.

If you believe in a God or know, as I do, that there is a vast Nothingness which is beyond the mind’s capability for understanding, what words do you use to define it, or do you even try?

I suggest you open yourself to really examining your ideas around this line of questioning and take a glimpse of how defensive or open you are to another’s truth.contemplation

Each such self-examination paves the way to true self-knowledge. It is a worthwhile use of your time to examine all you have accepted as truth and discover what is real, what stands up to thoughtful scrutiny, and what needs to be discarded. So often, when I have engaged in such soul-searching I have found that many ideas, I have held sacred, were given to me by those I never questioned.

If my above questioning caused any “reaction” in you, take it as an opportunity to use your response as an excellent entry point for such self-inquiry.

Releasing Judgment

Have you ever heard of something dreadful happening to a friend or someone you know to be a kind or generous person and felt or maybe expressed some form of the question, “Why do bad things happen to such good people?”balanceFor the purposes of discussion I want you to consider the reverse, “Why do good things happen to bad people.” In fact, in my life, I just recently heard a discussion, which went something like this: “How does that guy keep making so much money when he is so unscrupulous?” The implied, unstated question, of course, is why does this unsavory individual “deserve” such goodness? Isn’t it obvious, after all, that people of dubious character should be denied life’s blessings?

Many such beliefs were given to us by parents and extended family members before we were even old enough to decide for ourselves whether or not they were valid. The Truth is that all such judgments create suffering for us. When we judge some events as good and others as bad and somehow feel justified in deciding which humans deserve one or the other, we set ourselves up for needless misery.young girls read

Life is so much easier when we simply allow “what is” to be as it is without interjecting any personal values to the mix. Judging something which happens as good or bad is always a reflection of our own spiritual maturity and is never an actual indictment of the true meaning of the circumstance.

As we grow spiritually we learn to simply allow life to unfold without our ongoing insistence that we are somehow in a position to determine what is or is not fair and which people “deserve” life’s ups or downs. Such awareness offer’s us peace which is beyond the understanding of our previously judgmental mind.

Time to Clear the Blockage

It is August first and once again I am absolutely astounded at how long it has been since I shared my thoughts via this blog. I write nearly every day but I have not shared my ideas for such a long time.Agenda

When we are called to do something, as I feel I am to share my writings, and we disregard said call, push it aside for other activities, we become dammed up. We are always creating, but we must be careful about what we are creating. The creative urges within us are so strong that they will continue to create with our without our participation.

When we refuse to answer our calling, for whatever reason, we become constipated: perhaps not actually physically, but mentally and emotionally. We can feel it. We see it in our inability to function at anything which we might term a “high” level. Our refusal to express our creative flow creates this constriction.

This type of blockage shows up in varied manifestations. At the extreme end is sickness and even death. The lighter examples are things like forgetfulness or a mere feeling that something, perhaps not quite nameable, is off. There are dozens of ways this stagnation may appear in between these two extremes.screaming

Just as our physical body is designed for movement, our creative impulses are gifts which are destined for expression. They are not meant to be kept secret. Nor are they satisfied to be pushed aside like some trivial but necessary task.

You know what I am talking about here. If you have ever allowed clutter to pile up in your basement or garage or maybe even your living room, you notice how quickly this unmanaged rubble can become an overwhelming burden. Unattended this untidy room can become someplace you do not want to enter or even gaze upon. When we avoid expressing our creative desires, for whatever reason, they become like this overcrowded room.

For me, I know I need to write and share my words. That is where my responsibility lies. When I get caught up in judging the words I am given it is just like refusing to enter or look at the room where I have allowed things to collect to an unhealthy level. Yet, that is what I do.

I write and I think, “This is written so poorly” or “Who would want to read this” but these thoughts, when honored, become bricks in the dam which block my creative flow. Day by day, I write and by refusing to share these thoughts I reinforce the blockage so that eventually nothing flows from my heart to my hands, from beyond the physical to the paper.

This is true for all of us regardless of the medium of the creative expression. When we refuse to share, for whatever rational or irrational reason, we erect very effective blockage which eventually pushes us away, just as the clutter in our “out of control” room prevents our entry.push back clutterIt is my intention to share something each week day in August so that I may break the dam and get my creative juices flowing again. I need to do this in all the areas of my life. Perhaps I will even take on the clearing of clutter which has accumulated in my garage recently.

It is difficult to write every day, at least to write something worth sharing. It actually takes me longer than one would expect to post, find some pictures to make the post more attractive, and then also send out an email declaring the presence of the new post to my subscribers. But I am going to do just that for at least a month. I want to get back to sharing my thoughts and observations every day for a year, but we will start with my commitment for this month.

It is my hope that I come up with things to share which are worthy of your time, but regardless I need to post. I am feeling stuck and congested and need to clear this blockage. Thanks for sharing my journey with me.

A Life That Matters

Last week I watched Steve Kroschel’s documentary Dying to Have Known which examined the efficacy of the Gerson Therapy in treating cancer. At the end of the informative film Kroschel reads a poem entitled Character Counts. A quick internet search revealed that the poem was from The Josephson Institute of Ethics.

I want to share it with you:

For each of us, it will one day come to an end. 

There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.

All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten will be passed to someone else.

Your fame, your wealth and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.

It will not matter what you owned or owed.

Your grudges, frustrations and jealousy will finally disappear.

So too your hopes, ambitions, plans and to do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

It will not matter where you came from, or what side of the tracks you lived.

At the end it won’t matter if you are beautiful or brilliant.

Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter?

How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought but what you built.

Not what you got but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.

What will matter is that every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that empowered enriched or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew but how many will feel a lasting loss when you are gone.

What will matter is not your memories but the memories that live in those that learned to love from you.

A life lived that matters is not of circumstance but of choice.

Every time I see a bumper sticker which proclaims “He who dies with the most toys wins,” I think something similar to the truth that “what matters is not what you have bought, but what you have built.”

license plate most toys

Every time I see a celebrity, unable to control their various addictions, I think “what will matter,” once you are gone, “is not your success but your significance.”

Every time I see some individual or organization preaching hatred, through acts or words, I think when their time comes “it will not matter what they learned but what they taught.”

Every time I read of a person who bilked people out of their pensions so that they might enjoy some type of temporary decadence I think, when your time comes “what will matter is your character” not your skill at working the system.

When I read of humble people whose simple lives have touched millions I think to myself: “there is a person who knew how to live.”

MotherTeresa

Whenever I have been asked to speak at a funeral I have always included my belief that the ultimate measure of a person’s success is found through his/her ability to love.

Knowing these beliefs by which I strive to live my life makes it quite obvious why this poem resonated with me. I totally agree with the wisdom which states that “A life lived that matters is not of circumstance but of choice.” These choices are not just the monumental ones in life but the minute by minute decisions which define our daily existence. May all of your choices reflect your values and lead you to a life which is not only peaceful but which lives on in the hearts and minds of those who remain in form long after you are gone.

A Really Simple Secret to Peace

This morning I was preparing some tweets to share on Twitter when I noticed this quote from Paul Ferrini’s book Love Without Conditions: “Let go of the past, and you will have no grievances. It is simple, is it not?”

I thought to myself, “That is the simplest Secret to Peace I have ever heard.”

Nearly all the stress in our lives comes from one of two situations: either we are carrying pain from the past or we are afraid about what is to come in our future.

Of course the past is dead and gone and the future exists only in our imagination, but it can be hard to remember these truths in the midst of a full-blown emotional hi-jacking.

peace hand

Ferrini’s advice is a really simple way to tackle one of these situations. Simply let go of anything that has happened in the past which you perceived as having caused you harm.

Whenever I mention this, I always receive a lot of resistance because people hear me saying something I am not. It is important that we extract whatever life has to teach us from every situation we are given. In no way am I saying that we should forget any of life’s lessons. What I am suggesting is that we release our pain; that we free ourselves of the emotional baggage that we carry with us.

Forgetting is the most complete form of forgiveness. Letting go of life’s hurts must include some degree of forgetting, but that does not mean abandoning any wisdom which serves us. I would never suggest that it is wise to allow another to use or abuse you under any circumstance.

Letting go is never about excusing someone’s actions. It is about freeing yourself from the unnecessary pain your memory creates in your life.

That idea really is quite simple, isn’t it?

Imagine Your Return to TRUTH

In Love Without Conditions, Reflections of the Christ Mind, Paul Ferrini asks: “Can you imagine a world in which each person understood that his only responsibility was to give and receive love?

Well, can you?

The plain and simple Truth is this: Our ONLY responsibility in life is to be the LOVE that we are. LOVE is the only Truth of who and what we are. Everything else is contrived.

beautiful spring

So, if the above statements are true, why do we live in a world which is filled with fear, hatred, conflict, and chaos? Is it just a matter that we choose to reject this Truth?

Well, yes and no.

While it is true that we ARE LOVE and only LOVE, we are also, mostly, completely oblivious to this fact. Many of us go through our entire lives and never even hear this Truth.

Those of us who have learned of this TRUTH often have more history living according to life’s lies than we have at applying this wisdom to our own existence. The sad fact is that even when we are exposed to and have some understanding of the Truth of our nature, learning to use this information in order to improve the quality of our day-to-day experience can take the rest of our days.

deer and bunny

It is one thing to know that we are Love in human form, but it another to be able to apply this information so that the quality of our lives is improved in some real and meaningful way. Not to be negative about this, but just being exposed to this information is not enough. For this knowledge to have any real impact on our lives we must take action.

What do I mean by taking action?

Consider the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, from The Phenomenon of Man  “Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves. All we need is to imagine our ability to love developing until it embraces the totality of men and the earth.

To use the Truth that we are Love in a way that consistently improves the quality of our lives, we must love. Not only must Love be the Noun that we are, it must also be the Verb that we are doing. It is only when “what we are” becomes one with “what we do” that we begin to embrace our True Nature.

father and baby

I love de Chardin’s concept of imagining that we are loving until it becomes our only nature. Always love first, second, and forever until we become One with our deepest Truth.

To this end, the quickest path to becoming the “Love we are” is through forgiving and loving those whom we find most challenging. We grow closer to expressing our True nature any time we love, but quantum growth occurs when we are able to overcome old injury, replacing it with current love. In the words of A Course in Miracles, “The holiest of all the spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love.”

So, allow me to summarize:

1)   We are LOVE. That is the TRUTH of our being. Knowing this is wonderful but:

2)   To become the greatest and highest expression of this Truth, we must act on the LOVE that we are.

3)   We accomplish this by constantly identifying areas where we withhold love, forgiving our perceived perpetrators, and imagining that we can love those who challenge us until we LOVE in deed and in thought.

4)   Finally, we need to forgive ourselves for believing we are anything other than Love, and then learn to love ourselves without conditions.

together at sunset

Apply these action steps and repeat as often as necessary. Eventually there will be nothing but LIGHT in your life.