Monday, March 31, 2014

Death of self Meditation for 4/1/14

Savannah GA

“When we do not fully honor this current moment we engage in drama.”  - Eckhart Tolle

“One is not prepared to live until one is prepared to die.”  - L. R. E. Montgomery

     The prospect of death brings the realities of life into focus with brutal simplicity.  What will we take with us?  What will we leave behind?  Will any of it have any value?  This begs the question: Must our demise be imminent in order to “get real?”  Can we “be prepared to die” so that we can “be prepared to live” without having to go through the trauma of being at death’s door?  The answer lies in understanding who “we” actually are.

    First we must realize that the identity the ego imposes with its drama of resentments of the past, judgments and desires in the present and fears of the future is a self imposed delusion.  Our mind wants to convince us that this is who we are, and works full time at maintaining this as our identity.  And drama is absolutely necessary if our ego is to assert itself as our identity.    We can only be fully alive those moments that our ego is “dead” and we dwell within the intuition of our spirit.   We do not have to wait to be at the door of our physical death to arrive at this.

     We all glimpse this now and then when something remarkable happens – perhaps a beautiful sunset or a moment we accidently fall “into the zone.”  But the ego is remarkably cunning and persistent.  It finds many ways to creep back in regardless of how hard we try to be rid of it.  We cannot be rid of it without help, and if we earnestly seek it the help comes.  We begin to have longer and deeper glimpses of that zone of connection with all that surrounds us.  We come to realize our life is much more meaningful without the bondage that arises out of this fantasy “self.”  We become prepared to be rid of this “self” – to let it die and live in freedom in the spirit.  “We” become fully ready to die, and thus are finally able to live.  And ultimately, if we truly mature, we come to realize that this “self” within is doing the best it can with what it has, and we finally make peace with ourselves.  And at this point, and only at this point, the creation of drama is no longer necessary or desired and we start to live in reality. 

Today, may I be “real.”

Have a great Tuesday !!

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Want to see things differently? Meditation for 3/31/14

Wild Azalea blossom

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."  -  Marcel Proust

"Just because a man lacks use of his eyes does not mean that he lacks vision."  -  Stevie Wonder

    It has been said that the journey outward and the journey inward are one and the same, meaning that as we grow and mature spiritually we see and appreciate things on ever deepening levels.  But figuring out how to go about this growth is difficult - in fact it seems that unless I am faced with some crisis I will not really try new things.  I merely experiment with different variations of what I already know because so I can feel "safe."  And going to new locations and using the same old attitudes and behaviors I have used before will ultimately net the same results I have always gotten.  Wherever I go, there I am.  Wayne Dyer said "If you change the way you look at things the things you look at change." But how do I go about getting new vision if I cannot get it by changing locations?  

     One thing for sure is that the false sense of security that comes from exercising variations of the same old behaviors doesn't lead very far.  If day after day I do what I did, then day after day I will get what I got.  And since I do not know what I do not know, this stagnation that I justify by seeking the security of the "known" leads to bad places.  It leads to holding contempt for things that  I know nothing about, it leads to building barriers against anything that would threaten my illusion and it leads to ever deepening ignorance of myself and the world around me.  And thus, without making fundamental changes to the way I view myself, this world and this life a change of location is no change at all.

The question really becomes "How do I grow without waiting for some catastrophe to force me out of my comfort zone?"  First we have to realize that change is not an event.  It comes about over time in increments so seemingly small that it is only every once in a while that I notice a situation where I acted dramatically different than I have in the past.  I must voluntarily take myself out of my comfort zone and take actions that expose me to new ideas and circumstances where I can force growth on myself in small increments.  These seem foreign and risky, and they always will because before I experience them I lack the vision of what that growth will look and feel like.  In short, I must make myself vulnerable and give of myself at levels I never have before.  Does the notion of death make me uncomfortable?  Then I need to go volunteer and help others who are going through the end of life transition.  Am I afraid of poverty?  Then I need to get to know and assist those that are poor.  Is there another race or creed that I dislike?  I need to attend their social functions and come to understand them as they are.  Are we struggling with an addiction or eating disorder?  Then we need to get around those that have already successfully done it so we can learn what they did.

     Often, what we are afraid of disguises itself as things we "hate," so whenever we find ourselves intensely disliking something it is time to take a closer look.  I am not talking about flavors or fashions - I am talking about circumstances and people. And the learning brings the new outlooks, the vision, the awareness and the appreciation that we need to grow.  Putting forth a little effort toward the things we are uncomfortable with on a daily basis leads us to a place where we do not have to face misery to grow.

Today, may I face life head on.  

Have an awesome Monday !!

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Want to be effective? Meditation for 3/28/14

Savannah GA

“Just do the next right thing, and do the next thing right.”    Unknown

“If initiative is the ability to do the right thing, then efficiency is the ability to do the thing right.”  -  Kelly Miller

     Significant change in our lives does not come about without significant changes in our actions, attitudes and thinking.  Living a hollow and purposeless life is wearisome, and we crave for something different.  We also battle constant changes in the environment around us.  How can we effect significant change when we are aimlessly wandering through life, seeming to continually be tossed about by random and hostile waves?

     We cannot change the direction of the wind, but we can change the angle of our sails. It starts simply.  In the morning we take the initiative to ask direction as to what the next right thing to do is and ask for the power to get it done.  We aspire not only to do the next right thing, but also the next thing right.  We quit reacting to situations and start responding.  We stay alert and aware of the opportunities around us to enhance the lives of others.  We err on the side of compassion and are gentle with ourselves and others. We make our decisions with our hands and feet.  At the end of the day we review it and see where we could have done better.  Then we let it go.  Done on a regular basis for any significant period of time, everything around us changes.  Because we have changed the way we look at things the things we look at will have changed before our eyes.  In this manner we become effective, efficient, desirable and content.  Just today, one moment at a time.

Today, may I seek purity and simplicity in each moment.  

Happy Friday !!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Are you a friend? Meditation for 3/27/14

Seabrook Island; SC
“Humility is being right-sized.”  -  Anon

“A friend in need is a friend indeed.”  -  Quintus Ennius

     It is easy to feel inadequate.  People we love are stricken with disease and have debilitating accidents.  Our best efforts cannot save them, and sometimes it doesn’t even seem like there is anything we can do to improve the situation.  This is harder on some of us than others, we for whatever reason many of us grew up feeling that we were somehow responsible for the well-being of our fellow man.  This just isn’t the nature of life.  Things happen – and life by definition is a terminal condition. 

     One of the most pervasive shames on the subconscious level is that our fellows will discover that we are inadequate as a human being.  The attached fear of course is abandonment – that we will be held up to ridicule and end up alone in life.  The amazing thing is how many people spend their whole life making decisions designed to keep this phantom duo at bay without once ever realizing that all of their meaningful decisions in life have been driven by these fears.  For some of us it is even deeper – as youth we got the notion in our head that it was our responsibility to “save” the human race, and we have spent decades of our life feeling that there was no way that we could ever prove that we are adequate. 

     What this usually causes is avoidance – when someone is dying and actually needs our help more than ever, our subconscious fear is that we will have to face our own inadequacy if we are around them.  So we avoid others in their time of greatest need.  Or, in the case of someone who has suffered a debilitating condition, our rationalization kicks in and we declare that there isn’t anything we could do that would make a difference anyway.

      Taking an honest look around will quickly show that these attitudes are much more common than one would think.  And they are subtle – because our ego is so good at rationalizing our behavior we don’t even see the root causes of our selfish behavior.  But there is no situation so bad that a bit of kindness or an expression of love will not improve.  The reality is that unless we are on guard against this, we will cheat ourselves out of much growth and understanding of life by avoiding these opportunities for service.  Who is confined to a nursing home, hospital or their home that we have not reached out to lately?  Odds are there is at least one for every one of us, and this falls into the category of one of those things we CAN change.  Remembering that we always gain more than we give when we are of genuine service to another helps us get over our ego’s resistance, and we will never regret having put forth the effort.

Today, may I choose to be a friend. 

Happy Thursday

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Having trouble understanding yourself? Meditation for 3/26/14

Ft. Pulaski; GA

“..Lord, grant that I may not so much seek to be understand as to understand..”  -  St. Francis

“An appreciative listener is always stimulating.”  - Agatha Christie

    We all have a place we have come from and places we hope to go.  We all want to be able to express our story – sometimes for no other reason than that hearing ourselves talk helps us sort through our thoughts.  But it is a rare occasion that we find someone willing to patiently listen – to be understanding and non-judgmental.  And when we do find such a person, we remember them for a long time after.  We feel we “know” them – even though we did the majority of the talking.

     Listening well is not something we come by naturally – the skill requires practice and development.  But the advantages are many.  First, we already know everything we know, and we learn nothing new when we have our mouths going.  And once we have matured spiritually far enough to realize that we cannot directly see ourselves, we find that we can see mirrors of our self in others.  Granted, this isn't always comfortable because the flaws we spot most readily in others are the flaws that we work the hardest to avoid acknowledging in ourselves.  But unless we force ourselves to become aware of them we will never be able to engage in corrective action. 
     When we seek to understand others we are performing a spiritual service.  As with any other spiritual service, we receive what we give.  By seeking to understand, we are the ones who gain understanding – and we gain it in two ways.  Our own ability to discern improves, so our own understanding of both life and ourselves is enhanced.  But further, the party we listen patiently to appreciates the opportunity we gave them, and they come to understand and appreciate our willingness and effort.  Whose story can we listen to and appreciate today?  Someone close to us has something to teach us – will we learn the lesson when the opportunity is there?

Today, may I listen.
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Happy Wednesday !!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Know how to love yourself? 03/24/14

Ft. Pulaski; GA

“My ego is not my amigo.  It is out to kill me.”  -  Anon

“Love holds no expectation on who you will be, it simply honors who you are.”  -  E’yen Gardner

     One of most difficult and rarest things for people to accomplish in this life is to truly learn to differentiate between their spirit and their ego.  Many use drugs and alcohol to avoid the issue, many more busy themselves trying to please others or obtain mountains of stuff that they know they cannot take with them after this life.  But there are those few that make this realization.  It usually starts with some pain in life that is so deep that a crack is formed in the self-identity of ego.  If this crack is then pried open, it is revealed to the individual that their life has been a sham – almost everything they have done has been a reaction to one anxiety or another.  But once this breakthrough is made, another barrier awaits that can be just as difficult to break through.  This is the difficulty of truly making peace with one’s self.

     It is only in learning to quiet the mind that we can learn to see our ego as it is – that part of us which desperately clings to the notion that it IS who we are, and works hard to retain its position as our identity.  But our ego has been conditioned to believe that it is who we are, and consequently it feels that its death means our death.  This is the whole thing that is discussed in religions that one must “die to themselves, be reborn” etc etc – all of the spiritual paths acknowledge that ego must die.  But ego never completely dies – it remains our constant companion until the day we die.  Thus, many religions teach one to think that this part of themselves is “evil” and must be avoided.  The result is internal conflict within the individual which forever bars them from true spiritual awakening.

     Our ego is a proper and necessary part of our makeup.  It does the best it can with the skewed templates that were installed in it while we were children and the constant negativity it is fed.  The hallmark of the beginning of true spiritual growth is when no only makes peace with this ego, but develops a kindly attitude toward it to the point that they can love it.  Since we never see other people, but rather just see mirrors of ourselves in them, if we have not isolated and come to love this part of ourselves we are incapable of fully loving anyone else.  Our choice is simple – do the work to understand and love ourselves or live in a state of conflict.  It is in this stage of spiritual awakening that we mature to a level that we can truly begin to have conscious contact with the spirit that is woven throughout all.

Today, may I learn to love myself. 

Have a great Monday !!

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Know the secret? Meditation for 3/21/14

Tybee Island GA with Hilton Head SC on the horizon

"We make a living by what we get.  We make a life by what we give."  -  Winston Churchill

"The earth does not belong to us.  We belong to the earth."  -  Chief Seattle

     Traveling and meeting numerous folks allows one to make many observations.  Some generalizations that can be made about people pan out a good percentage of the time.  But there is only one I have seen that pans out every time - all of the time.  People who live their life giving of themselves have contented lives and seem to be comfortable in their skin regardless of their circumstances, and people who base their life on the acquisition of more stuff are marked by a general attitude of discontent and mistrust of their fellow man.

    The ancients from all cultures have told us the same story time after time.  Giving of one's self brings one gratitude which in turn nurtures the state being called joy. They do not say happiness, they say joy.  For when one knows joy, the pursuit of happiness no longer holds much allure - one realizes that happiness is transitory and dependent upon things beyond our control.  Happiness comes and goes as clouds pass by and as the sun sets.  Joy is a permanent state in which the one who has attained it finds meaning and depth to daily existence.

    If we want to know peace and have the humility necessary to be a student of life, there is no other path besides being of service.  We each have our own talent set and capabilities, so service looks different for each of us individually. And for us as individuals, service has a different look as we mature and things around us change.  But if we look for the opportunities they abound.  Take a day or two and look closely at those who live at complete peace with themselves.  You will find the secret - and the secret begins with willingness.  

Today, may I give of myself.

Happy Friday all !!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Where is your head? Meditation for 3/20/14

"....grant me..the courage to change the things I can.."  -  Serenity Prayer

"Attitudes are contagious.  Are yours worth catching?"  -  Dennis and Wendy Mannering

     What things in life do we really have a choice about or control over?  I was given no choice about what time era I was born in or what geographic location or family type.  Nor about my sex or race or stature or eye or hair color or IQ.  In fact no one even consulted me about what my name would be - I was just informed of it along the way.  I have had no luck controlling the weather, although I am determined that one day I will participate in a rain dance just to see if I am missing something.  The tides, the earth's rotation, the sunrises or sunsets - nada.  How about other people?  I used to think I could control other people, but eventually realized that the net result of all my manipulations and deceptions fooled no one but me.  I am powerless over just about everything, as much as I would like to think otherwise.

     But being powerless does not mean being helpless.  There are some things I can control.  A huge one is my attitude - will I maintain a positive attitude that seeks to better things for the environment I exist within or will I give in to my self-centered nature and seek immediate gratification at the expense of all else?  Will I choose to immerse myself in this present moment or will I fuss and stress about events past or notions what might happen tomorrow?  Will I treat my environment including all things living around me with respect and love or will I view them as either a means to satisfy my desires or an annoyance?  Will I choose to be grateful for the opportunities that surround me or shall I choose to dwell on things I perceive as irritations?  Will I concern myself with creating a false sense of security through the acquisition of material things or will I find the value in experience?  Will I immerse myself in the fear-filled diatribes that are spoon fed me through the media or will I get out and discover the world for myself?  Will I honor the body and mind I have been given or will I abuse them in the pursuit of short term pleasures?  

     When we act in a positive manner with a helpful attitude our world responds.  But no amount of promises or proclamations will do this for us.  It only happens a moment at a time, an hour at a time, a day at a time.  In this manner we are creating our legacy this day, this moment and this day.  Today, just today, we can make it a good one.

Today, may I know courage. 
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Happy Thursday !!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Always too much on your plate? Meditation for 3/19/14

Brays Island; SC

"Nothing is more difficult than competing with a myth."  -  Francis Giroud

"A liar is full of lavish oaths."  -  Pierre Corneille

     Not living up to the expectations of others can be a great source of frustration.  It is easy to say that others just set their expectations too high, but a lot of the time we cause the problem ourselves, whether we realize it or not.  Trying to live up to something that we cannot do creates all manner of difficulty for ourselves and for others.

     Over-promising is easy to do.  Sometimes we do it because we are trying to please others or have them think highly of us.  Sometimes we think we need to exaggerate our abilities in order to get a certain opportunity.  Other times we just don't take the time to think through all that we have going on and if we will actually have the time and energy to do what it is that we are promising.  Often we hear something that sounds good on the surface and we commit ourselves without taking the time to research the situation and think it through.  But usually it is just that we want other people to like us.

     And how does this work out?  We end up frustrated and others come to view us as unreliable.  We either work ourselves into a frenzy trying to get done what we promised (all the while nursing a grudge) or we conveniently "forget" and rationalize our failure to do what we promised.  This all is compounded by the fact that the people we promise things to make their own commitments to still others based upon what we have said we will do.  Soon, we have harmed more people than we will ever be aware of - all because we wanted the immediate gratification of an "atta-boy."

     It is important to remember that our good qualities are much more appreciated by others when they notice them from our actions rather than us informing them of them.  It is also important to realize that if we do not promise to do something and later choose to do it, we now are approaching it as a service to another rather than an obligation we are stuck with.  It is just one more way that honesty makes our lives a good bit easier.

Today, may I be real.

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Have a great Wednesday !!

Stuck in a rut? Meditation for 3/18/2014

Brays Island; SC

“I refuse to allow my circumstances to dictate my decisions.”  - Debbie DeJong

“Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; they are but the instruments of the wise.”  - Samuel Lover

     Circumstances are defined as the overall situation and condition of our life.  It is very easy to get lulled into thinking that circumstances are permanent, whether they are “bad” or “good”.   If we “run away” from circumstances, we take the same defects of character we had prior to running with us and will ultimately end up in the same set of circumstances in a different location.  We cannot change the laws of nature and we cannot change other people, but we can change our attitude and our selves.

     The quality of our awareness, our personal experience and the depth of resources to seek wisdom from determine the quantity and quality of options that we become aware of.   Just because we are unwilling or unable to make ourselves aware of choices that we have does not mean they do not exist.  Being fully present and aware, looking for opportunities, seeking counsel and acting in the face of fear are choices we always have.   Circumstances do not make us who we are, but they surely will expose the depth of our character.

Today, may I seek progress.

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Have a great Tuesday !!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Whats stopping you? Meditation for 3.17.14

“Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate.”   - William Wilson

“Fear knocked at the door.  Faith answered.  And lo, nobody was there.”   - Unknown

     It took me a long time to understand how pervasive fear is.  I used to think that if I didn’t fear death, verbal or physical confrontation then I was not a fearful person.  Little did I know.  I fear getting things I do not want.  (illness, IRS audits, etc.)  I fear not getting things I do want.  (Children having decent lives, having resources to work with, etc.)  In fact, in the journey I am on right now – each time I move on to a new area I feel fear.  I work for a couple of weeks to establish relationships, and I then cling to those even though I know that real security lies in having the faith to continue following the path.  Fears (of the anxiety type) are but fantasies, my brain out of control projecting calamity.  If I can remain self-aware and acknowledge them for what they are, I have a chance to use the tools available to deal with them.  But if I am the least bit complacent my mind will step in with all manner of rationalizations as to why I should cling to the familiar.  This in spite of the fact that I know from experience that each time I move on awesome new vistas appear.

     We speak of choosing to live life as though everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle, and the barrenness of living with an attitude of negativity.  Fear poses a similar stark choice.  Do I want to live in doubt and anxiety, convinced that I must force my will and my vision upon everything around me or all will be lost?  Do I want to convince myself that clinging to the known is superior to having the faith to step once again into the unknown?  Or do I want to live with confidence that if I pray for knowledge of and then follow the path laid out for me that the answers and resources necessary will be there when needed?  It is always in hind-sight that we see how it works every time, but following the path often requires courage. We are well served to realize the fallacy of our fears and stay close to the sources that give us the encouragement we need.  Otherwise we are merely existing; we have never really lived at all.

Today, may I know faith.  D.Emch

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Have a great Monday !!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Got a secret? Meditation for 3.14.14

Bray's Island; SC

“Lies and secrets – they are like cancer to the soul.  They eat away what is good and leave only destruction behind.”  -  Cassandra Clare

“All secrets are lies.”   L.R.E. Montgomery

     When we have information that we feel we must conceal from others, invariably we find ourselves manipulating situations, deflecting attention, telling half truths and in general putting out a lot of negative effort into “keep a secret.”   What a horrid form of bondage to subject ourselves to – by its very nature we have to keep that fact a secret too!!  And, what of these secrets?  Who among us has the combination to the safe at Fort Knox?  I am not so unique – there is no flaw or failing or error that I or my family have that millions before and millions to come don’t share.

    If we want to be truly free in life, we must be transparent to our fellows.  If our occupation requires otherwise, we will have to make the choice – consciously or by default – that we are going to live a lie.  Because living a lie to any degree creeps into other areas.  Our mistruths and hidden agendas eventually penetrate every corner of our life, leaving nothing but a husk devoid of real substance.  This eventually robs us of any ability we have to accomplish spiritually what we are capable of. 

     Even worse, we impose “secrets” on others, thus drawing them into our sickness by letting them think they are getting “exclusive information.”   This is not to say that everything we know should be broadcast about to everyone. But even in the case of our deepest and darkest secrets, it pays us huge dividends to share them with at least one trusted and emotionally health confidant and attempt to make amends for any wrong we have done.  In doing so, we will learn to avoid cosigning other people’s nonsense; it is entirely proper to refuse to carry around other’s gossip, protect their false pride or harbor any of their emotional sickness within ourselves.  Remember that the truth fears no inquiry or question – and that is a freedom that can only be earned through proper living.

Today, may I remember that secrets are just lies disguised.

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Have an Awesome Friday !!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dealing with an institution? Meditation for 3.13.14

Bray's Island; SC

“The hallmark of our age is the tension between aspirations and sluggish institutions.”  -  John Gardner

“Countries, states, cities, corporations and laws are all merely words on paper.”  -  Bryant McGill
     Dealing with institutions can be quite aggravating.  First, it can be a challenge just to get someone to speak to – who hasn't spent a half hour in an automated system only to be cut off and have to start over.  When a human is finally on the other end of the line their English is often so poor that just trying to communicate with them is exhausting.  Since we don’t know what we don’t know, often we are not aware of the right things to ask in order to accomplish what we want.  We have to deal with people hiding information and even outright lying in order to get what their employer wants.  And then there are the forms that are prepared by batteries of lawyers.  Often it seems they are designed to purposely trip us up and keep us from achieving the objective we are after.  And when it comes to dealing with various government offices?  Very often we deal with people who are downright condescending, who when we finally do get to speak with them act as if they are too important to be bothered with mere commoners or as if they are protecting nuclear secrets.

     Supposedly, institutions are comprised of people just like you and I, but somewhere in their labyrinth of protocols and rules common sense breaks down.  At one point or another, each of us have to deal with the greed of the corporation and the apathy of the government.  It is just a fact of life.  So, how can we be effective?

     It is difficult to not lose our cool because when we are typically dealing with the insensitivity of an institution it is typically just compounding a problem we didn’t want to start with.  When we find out we are going to have to deal with one it helps to lower or completely drop any expectations we have that we are going to be dealing with rational behavior or that we will be able to accomplish a seemingly simple task in a reasonable amount of time.  We are usually up against an agenda we are not being informed of, and the agenda was not created with our well-being in mind.  Google is a marvelous tool – if we can take a moment or two it usually isn’t difficult to find how others have been rebuffed or have successfully navigated the waters we are about to enter.   When one of these folks does come on the line, if they state their name it is usually only a first name or purposely said in a garbled fashion.  One tool I like to use is to be CERTAIN to get the name of the person I am speaking with at the beginning of the conversation, asking them to spell it and writing it down.  “Hi, did you say this is Bill?  Bill, did I get you at a bad time?  This is David Emch – E M C H.  How do you spell your last name?  S M I T H.  Thanks Bill !!  People are a good bit more accountable when their name is known.

    Remaining polite and not making threats is usually most productive.  Often, I ask advice.  “Bill, how would you handle this if you were in my shoes?”  It is surprising how often someone will give valuable information when approached this way.  Clearly stating what we need, listening closely to precisely what people are saying, refusing to take “no” for an answer without a reason and being willing to ask to speak to a superior are all important.  Remember, too often institutions train people on how to put obstacles in place so that most folks will tire of the aggravation and leave empty handed.  But at some point we may have to decide – how important is it?  Losing our serenity – let alone our sanity just isn't worth it.

Today, may I be diplomatic.

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Have a peaceful Thursday !!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Who do you think you are? Meditation for 3/12/14

Sheldon SC

“Tell me, who are you?”  - The Who

“I am what I am.”  -  Popeye the Sailor Man

“The way some folks talk, you would think they gave birth to their ancestors.”  -  Mark Twain

     I was asked an interesting question today.  “Who are you?” a woman inquired.  How does one respond to that?  She did not ask “Who were you?”  But there was a day not so long ago I probably would have answered that question with select parts of my “story” – because that is who I thought I was.  Where I was born, who my parents were, what level of achievement I had attained and what obstacles I had faced - or, perhaps on a day I was feeling insecure I would have answered the question by trying to legitimize myself.  I would explain why I belonged and how important it was that I was there.  After all, if I didn't belong and wasn't important, what would I do?  Or I might have some desires brewing and try to convince her how important my agenda was.
     Or I might list my affiliations – what government or political party I identified with, what religion or lack there-of I possessed, secretly anxious of course for an opportunity to convince her of my beliefs and there-by legitimize myself.   Or perhaps I would have turned the topic to my acquaintances, what I did for money, what neighborhood I lived in, who my family was, what my children were doing or any other affiliations I felt were impressive.  Maybe I would have turned the topic to what material goods I possessed – casually mentioning things designed to allude to affluence.  It can be any number of things for different people – physical prowess for an athlete, popularity for a politician, talent for a musician – the list goes on.  But again, the question was “who are you?”  Not “Who were you, what do you do, who do you know, why are you here, what do you want or where are you from.” 

     Actually, this is a good question to spot check where we are spiritually.  Do we think we are our physical body or are identified by the family we were born into?  Of course neither of these were our doing.  Or, are we convinced that we are our story – a collection of semi-accurate tales of accomplishment and failure?  Or how about politics or religion?  If we were born in a slightly different time or place these would be wildly different.  How about our desires?  Are they not simply the expression of our fears?  Or even our needs – is my identity really the fact that I am hungry?

     When we stop identifying ourselves with form or memory, what is left?  When we learn through meditation to stop thinking, who are we?   When we divorce ourselves from our ceaseless desires who do we become?  The answer Moses got in the Old Testament was “I am that I am” – hinting that awareness itself is what the divine identified himself as.  I am not sure how to answer for myself, so I just told the lady “I take pictures.”  “Oh, I see” she said, arching an eyebrow, and sashaying off across the room.  Which left me wondering who she is.  Maybe I should have asked her who she thought she was, and that would have given me a better idea how to respond.  Nah, that could have gotten real complicated.

Today, may I be real.

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Happy Tuesday !!

Putting out fires? Meditation for 3/11/14

Yemessee SC

“We rate ability in men by what they finish; not what they start.”  - Unknown

“Finishing races is important, but racing itself is more important.”  - Dale Earnhardt

“It’s the job that is never started that’s the toughest to finish.”  - J.R. Tolkien

     It is said that showing up is half the battle.  It is said that getting started is half the battle.    There are times we struggle with procrastination – starting on things that we know need to be done.  But after we overcome that and get underway, many of us struggle again.  We have a habit of getting things most of the way to completion, then launching some new endeavor.  The next thing we know we have a life full of half-done projects that annoy us.

     Unfinished projects have a way of decaying, and something we had ninety percent of the way done has a way of deteriorated to sometimes being worse than it was had it never been started.  It has been popular to talk about “multi-tasking,” but how often does that really work?  Don’t we soon find ourselves just running back and forth putting out fires, annoyed when we have to revisit projects that in our mind we had finished? 

      There is a joy to be had by learning to bring things to completion – to putting on the finishing touches.  We can stand back and say “I did that,” and then allow ourselves to fully focus on the planning stage of the next project before us.  We have more confidence in ourselves as we know we are a person that sees things through.   In the long run we are more efficient because we are not foolishly burning energy refocusing all the time.  And if it is what others think of us that is driving us to do this?  Well, no one is revered for the number of projects they left unfinished.

Today, may I be complete.  

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Don't give up on Today !! Meditation for 3/10/2014

old rice fields in Yemassee SC

“The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spots.”  - Unknown

“Perseverance is not a long race, it is many short races one after another.”  - Walter Elliott

     Regardless of how well we connect in our morning routine, there are those inevitable days that bring seemingly negative situation after negative situation.  People don’t do what we think they should, what we want them to or what they committed to.  Then comes a random un-deserved parking ticket or what-not, followed by some bad financial or family news.  Every traffic light catches us red, we forget what we went to the store to buy in the first place, and everyone and everything annoys us.  We want to make retaliatory phone calls or emails, to lash out at someone just to feel like we have some control over something.   It isn’t even noon and we want to go home and bury our head in the sand – enough is enough.  We are doing the right and proper things, and life just keeps heaping on the crap.  And meanwhile, God is nowhere to be seen. 

     Well, even the saints share that they have their moments of deep doubt and despair.  But our actions at this point determine whether we are going to create a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom or we are going to keep the faith and stay the course.  But even if we don’t feel like it, it is crucial we keep on seeking what it is we are supposed to do and the power to accomplish it.  If we quit showing up for the game, we do not leave God anything to work with to turn things around.

     We have choices – if we have learned to meditate we can pause for a short period and “start our day over.”  If circumstances will not allow this, we can still show up for what we are supposed to do and fulfill our duties even if our anger has taken us out of the zone of connection.  We can remember to seek simplicity and harmony no matter what – and we keep the coal of anger from developing into a cauldron of rage.  We can find a way to be of service to our fellows and keep showing up.  And when we do, we are amazed at the results.  Our needs are met from totally unexpected quarters, and entanglements that we despaired of unravel.  The next thing we know, it is night and we are reviewing our day, amazed at how things turned around – all because we just kept showing up for life and doing what we know we are supposed to do.  It worked again yesterday – I think I’ll try it again today.

Today, may I have stamina.

Have a great Monday !!

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Think you are courageous? Meditation for 03/07/2014

Bull Island; SC

Greatness is when an old man plants trees knowing he will never sit in their shade.”  -  Greek Proverb

“The moment you have God figured out and defined, you are no longer dealing with God.”  -  Rick Bell

     Contrary to what it would seem on the surface, living a life of trust and faith takes much more courage than living a life under one’s own self-propulsion.  To the casual observer, it would seem like one who follows an intuitive spiritual path is a bit na├»ve – after all they say things like “everything is as it should be” or “there is a reason for everything.”  From the outside it looks like a cocoon of denial meant to insulate one from the chaos and harshness that exists in the world.

     But to walk the spiritual path one must constantly set aside their best thinking and follow the intuitive voice.  Very often this path does not seem to make sense at the time.  Often the path seems to make sense initially but when trials come along fears and doubt creep in.  When we walk the spiritual path we have to remain transparent and be accountable for our words and our actions which can be quite uncomfortable when we have to atone to others for errors we have made.  If we are going to remain on the path we must avoid recognition – we must remain humble and avoid the development of false pride as the result of accolades for things we accomplished because of the guidance we received. 

     But perhaps one of the hardest is to accept the fact that we will be called on to do things which we will never see the outcome of – indeed sometimes we will never even understand the reason we were called to do them.   Our actions cause waves that travel over the horizons of time, and ultimately impact the shores of places we will never be able to see or visit.  It can be from the simplest thing – from the bottle cap lying as litter that we pick up and as a result is not swallowed by a turtle, who would have died from having tried to ingest it.  It might be the fruit trees we plant that will be barren until some years after we are dead and gone.  It might be the moments we take to help show a child how to be loving and respectful, and as a result later turns into a better parent.  It might be those that we help that are too self-centered right now to appreciate the service we are doing them, but years from now our actions will provide a valuable lesson that they draw on.  The list can go on and on, but what we do does make a difference – far beyond our limited vision.  And we need not forget that our freedom, our serenity, our peace of mind and our self-worth are more than compensation enough for continuing to do the next right thing.

Today, may I be steadfast.

Happy Friday !!

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