Thursday, July 02, 2015

Twisted up
One of the things I learned quickly about yoga is that it can do a lot more than unblock sore muscles and loosen tendons. Sometimes it can release things in you that have blocked and backed up for years. I have had some amazing experiences on the mat. Today was one of those times.

Noell's class today featured music from the 70's, 80's and 60's. Of course Noell, the teacher of the class, is young enough to be my daughter. So, my experience with the music she played was very different than hers. She grew up to the music. It was the sound track of much of my adult life.

It was a moving experience, in more ways than one. As we moved through the asanas (yoga poses) the music seemed to reach through my pores to something deep inside.

Memories of youth, family, times gone by and people I loved and lost seemed to seep in as the sweat seeped out. Years ago I learned about the power of pictures and music together. Like in the video above. Today, I learned about the power of music and motion; something like dance I guess, but not.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Me at the pulpit

Sunday, April 26, at CSL (Center for Spiritual Living) I gave my Insight Talk.

It's a feature of the CSL service where a member of the community shares a story of how their spirituality has impacted their lives. I spoke at both the 9.30 and the 11.00 service.  I am told it's well worth watching both, they were off-the-cuff (no notes) so each one was slighly different.

Forward to 26.43 minutes into the service:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Are we to blame for everything?

"A man will always draw to him just what he is..." ― Ernest Holmes

One of the things I love about my spiritual practice, at least as Science of Mind (SoM) is practiced at our center, is the emphasis it places on accepting contradiction: we live in abundance, but people in our spiritual center are getting their home foreclosed upon, is one example...

You can be of any religion and practice SoM even though those religions deny each other by definition. That's because SoM is a philosophy, a practice, not a religion.

Christianity is a religion. In John 14:6 "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me...." Yet you do not have to be Christian to practice SoM. SoM, as a philosophy, tolerates differences in concept of God, it has to or it becomes a religion.

When you say, "I have the answer and if you don't agree with me you are wrong," that is a religion and you have substituted one religion for another. The new "truth" becomes Ernest Holmes is the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Ernest Holmes...."

I do not totally agree with the duality concept of spiritual vs. ego and the concept of good vs. evil that it implies. Words are just labels and reducing the complexity of human existence to two forces fighting each other does not work for me.

In 1976 when my oldest was born he was a tiny premature baby and he was moved to an infant intensive care unit. In that ICU was a baby who had been scalded almost to death. This baby boy was in agony, screaming. He was anchored in a brace that held his hands and feet in a locked position. This literally prevented him from any movement at all as his skin very slowly healed. I never saw any parents there with that baby and I have no idea of his story...

If a man will always draw to him just what he is. By this definition was this baby a man? What could this baby have been to draw such a fate to himself?

The reason I reject that "a man will always draw to him just what he is" as a singular truth is it has the effect of blaming the victim. No, no, no! Did every single Jewish person in Eastern Europe in the 1930s draw the Nazis to themselves?  No, no, no! Did every single person in the world trade center in 2001 draw the terrorists to themselves?  No, no, no!

You can live a good life and terrible things can happen. Just being a good spiritual person does not prevent bad things from happening. Life is more complex than that. Life is more complex than an experience that reduces itself to a binary struggle between two forces.

We are spiritual with spiritual truths, and we are ego with ego truths, and we are animal with animal truths and we have genetic natures and orientations that are hard wired into us and that in my opinion no SMT can change; nor should we attempt to change them.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.

Within the human experience there are many truths and these truths do not always agree. Life may give us a cactus. But, we chose whether or not to sit on it.

In the Buddhist tradition, the first noble truth is the truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering. In my opinion suffering is a fact of life, not a flaw on the part of the person who suffers.

I reject that "a man will always draw to him just what he is" as a stand alone truth. Even Ernest Holmes followed that statement with the word, "But..."

I am not saying the Holmes quote is not true, but that it is one truth and not a singular truth. Shit indeed does happen I believe. We choose how we see the world and that influences how the world sees and responds to us. I believe in the law of attraction. But, I also believe in the principles of inevitability, impermanence, the possibility of randomness and the principle of holding perpetrators accountable for their actions. I do not believe that we are the cause of every bad event in our lives. I do not believe in blaming victims for violent acts committed on them.

I prefer:  “He who kisses joy as it flies by will live in eternity's sunrise.” ― William Blake

Saturday, March 07, 2015

My Sister Lura's Life

Ten years ago today my sister Lura died of cancer. We are on this life a short time. She is such a part of me. So many memories. Was it just yesterday?

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Holi festival of colors kicks off India

I know so many friends from India. This is my most favorite of the Indian holidays.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Talk to strangers

Talk to strangers, Danny Harris speaking at TEDxFoggyBottom. As reported in this Huffington Post article:
"I'm asking that you be more present and you be more aware," he said. "I'm asking that you think about who the extras are in the movie of your life. I'm asking that you introduce yourself to your neighbors. I'm asking that instead of saying 'What do you do?' and 'Where are you from?' you ask people meaningful questions and you pay attention to the answers."

Monday, March 02, 2015

Is heaven like Facebook?

Sometimes I wonder, what if heaven is like Facebook? Think about it. We are virtual, without a body. We are connected to those we care about all the time. We are energy, not bound by any location. Sometimes I wonder, what if heaven is like Facebook?

Friday, February 27, 2015

How to love and be loved

How to love and be loved featuring Billy Ward at TEDxFoggyBottom. Is there someone in your life who could use some unconditional love?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Depression and spiritual awakening

Depression and spiritual awakening -- two sides of one door
Lisa Miller

"When you hear the knock, consider the invitation."

Sometimes depression can be a door to spiritual awakening and change. If we choose to listen, we can hear what the universe is trying to tell us.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Is and Was

Each moment is unique, now "is." And, "is" is the only reality. Yet, each "is" will become was as soon as you utter "is" the reality of it is "was."

Monday, February 02, 2015

We need to pass Leelah's Law

According to a post from the President:
On Sunday, December 27, 2014, Leelah Alcorn a 17 year old transgender youth wrote a suicide note, posted it on Tumblr and then walked in front of a semi-truck tragically ending her life. Leelah explained how her parents had forced her to attend conversion therapy, pulled her out of school and isolated her in an attempt to change her gender identity. 'Conversion therapies' have been documented to cause great harms and in this case, Leelah's death. Therapists that engage in the attempt to brainwash or reverse any child's gender identity or sexual orientation are seriously unethical and legislation is needed to end such practices that are resulting in LGBTQ+ deaths. We respectfully seek your help to ban the practice known as 'conversion therapy' and name the bill in honor of Leelah Alcorn.
One of my best friends in High School is a trans woman. Last year she and I spoke about her transition process and her life since she transitioned. She told me of a job she lost after her boss, rejecting her decision to transition told her, "God does not make mistakes." I said to her, no, God did NOT make a mistake, God made you transgender! Who is to say that's a mistake?

Conversion therapy does not work. We are who we are. We need to pass a law against misguided parents forcing it on their LGBTQ kids. We should do this in honor of Leelah Alcorn.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

About Orientations

I think we do not pay enough attention to orientations in our culture. What do I mean by orientations?

To me orientations are those things that we are born with. Orientations differ from lifestyle choices because orientations are not choices. Orientations can be resisted but not eliminated. Orientations are part of who and what we are. Like feelings, orientations choose us, we do not choose them. Orientations always have to be part of the equation when people are making lifestyle decisions. In my opinion orientations are hard wired in.

It used to be people thought folks could be cured of their orientations. For example, after the misery of attempts at “conversion therapy” most rational people now accept different sexual orientations as being something folks just are.

Yes, we do pay a lot more attention to sexual orientation (thank goodness) than we used to. In fact, it is rightfully against the law for people to be discriminated against for their sexual orientation (thank goodness) and legal same sex marriage has become the norm in our society.

Gender orientation is often included with sexual orientation, which is a good thing because it makes discrimination based upon it actionable. In my opinion our gender (our wiring) is sometimes very different from our sex (our plumbing.) I think the truth is orientations are generally a non-binary spectrum as opposed to say sex, which tends to be binary. I believe almost all of us have both male and female in us, no matter what’s our plumbing.

I think another kind of orientation that’s coming into realization is relationship orientation. This is emotional romantic orientation not just sexual sexual. In fact some folks are attracted to one gender sexually and another romantically. The hetro-normative standard is male-female monogamy. To me that is just one option, of a landscape of options. Polyamory is just one other possibility.

Almost all of us have met people who just cannot be sexually and/or romantically monogamous. In the past these folks have often been shamed for being who they are and have had to either cheat or deny themselves. Thankfully, that seems to be changing. Oh yes, and if the statistics for infidelity are any indication, monogamy vs. non-monagamy seems to be a a non-binary spectrum as well. Even people who profess to monogamy seem to struggle with emotional infidelity as well as sexual infidelity. No, I don't think cheating is right. People are responsible for their actions.

Folks need to know who they are. People should not be shamed for their orientations, as long as they act ethically. People need to be able to see themselves for who they are and consider what kind of ethical commitments they make based on those orientations, before they make them.

People should accept their orientations and live them, when possible, in a way that is ethical, sane, safe and consensual. If people live a lifestyle that differs from their orientations they need to be prepared for a life of internal conflict. Everyone who ethically lives their orientations should be respected and accepted by others who do not have the same orientations. They are living their lives as who they are. That, to me, is what freedom is all about.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cheryl Strayed: Love, Life and Lessons Learned in “Wild”

Required listening after your required reading of her book, Wild. Some of the most profound transformations we can go through are not those that can be seen from the outside; but they create a new truth. That is the truth we take forward.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Popeye got it right!

Maybe you have heard it to many times, (or maybe you have said it to someone,) "You are too..."
The next word might be one of the following:
Manly, feminine, mental, dumb, intellectual, feminine, masculine, girly, butch, fat, thin, sensitive, insensitive, negative, optimistic, pessimistic, shy, withdrawn, happy, not happy...
Or, it may be something else.
The point is someone is trying to judge another based upon their own opinion of what they consider "normal." People often like to put labels and categorize others and say what is normal, like they are the keepers of the yardstick of normalcy. Maybe they have had it done to them and have had their own individuality repressed and feel threatened by people not afraid to express their own uniqueness.
In reality, we are all as different as snowflakes or zebra stripes or fingerprints. As long as we are not hurting or oppressing others we should cherish that which makes us unique. We are entitled to having and expressing our own feelings and lifestyles as long as we are not hurting others.
Yes, as individuals we have a right to choose whom to spend time with, our friends, our lover (or lovers), our life partners. But, we do not have a right to shame others and/or chastise them for being themselves.
I have a male friend who got emotional and started to cry and another male friend told him to "man up!"
That just rubbed me the wrong way. People have a right to be sensitive no matter their gender.
When I think of this I think of Amelia Earhart who said, "Women must try to do things as men have tried." Amelia Earhart was controversial in her time. (Even I remember when some folks believed it was improper and not "normal" for women to work in men's professions.)
Most enlightened people today know that particular sexist attitude is incorrect. Yet, I have heard men who think of themselves as enlightened (and even women working in male dominated fields) complain of men whom they judge as not being masculine enough. Hey folks, even though it's different, it's the same thing. It's sexism folks.
Popeye got it right! Let people be themselves.

Letting go of the lead weights

It's  hard to rise to your potential when you don't let go of what is pulling you down.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Turn Away

My journal entry from Tuesday, April 23, 1991, 6:40 a.m., Doctors' Hospital, Modesto, CA

I am sitting next to my middle son's bed. My four year old youngest son is in the next room. The news is on television. My son just closed his eyes. Candy is dead! It is so hard to write, much less understand, what has gone on...
Beck's Lyrics to Turn Away
Turn turn away
From the weight of your own past
It's magic for the devil
And betray the lack of change
Once you have spoken
Turn away...
In my 10 week Spirituality class we were asked to identify what was holding us back, and in essence, write a mantra about it. Mine focused on forgiveness. I have had really shitty things happen to me in my life, but none of it bore the weight of what happened that night. I was mad; mad at God, why did she die so close to home with the kids in the car?

I was crazy mad at circumstances and most of all mad at myself. Why wasn't I there? Why wasn't I driving?
Saturday night my wife Candy went to her mom's to tell her about the divorce she and I had recently filed. I had spent the evening at my oldest sisters in Dublin and we went out to dinner. On the 60 mile drive home from Dublin I bought a bottle of diet 7-Up, to mix with Seagrams when I got home, to make some good, strong drinks.

When I got home to Patterson, I called my dear friend (and former sister-in-law)  to see if she heard if Candy had talked to her mom (about the divorce) and how it went. Marie said she hadn't heard from Candy. So, I called Candy's mom and ended up talking to her about an hour about the divorce. I then drank my second drink, put Bonnie Raitt on the stereo and went to sleep. I was only asleep about five minutes when I got a call...

Survivors guilt?

It's been a brick in my heart. I have cried so many tears. Our decision to end our marriage was mutual and very painful. But, we made it together, intent to part as friends.

We were each even anticipating the life we could have separately that we could never have had together. Suddenly everything changed. We shared our dreams of lives apart with each other. I was the only one who would be able to live that life...

I have a great and happy life in the here and now. Yet I am, almost 25 years later still afraid to let go and forgive myself, perhaps lest she die a second death?

Here I am playing this song over and over...
Turn turn away
From the weight of your own past
It's magic for the devil
And betray the lack of change
Once you have spoken
Turn away...
My mantra?
I am forgiveness, I am forgiving
Therefore, I have to forgive myself. Let that part of her go. But, I don't have to forget, do I?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What if

What if all the times in life one thing could have happened but another thing did, whether good or bad, that was fate?
What if all the bad things that happened in life, and good, were exactly what it took to make you the person you are now?
What if right here and right now it were up to you to decide just what to do with that to make you who you will be tomorrow?
What if that was the only thing that matters?
What if that is why you are here?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Science, faith and the picnic

Science is many things including a belief system.

Science is a belief system of values built upon the concept of the scientific method. It calls for measurement, testing, application and more measurement, testing and application of the results. It provides for rewards based upon the ability of the method to create things that can be monetized. We call that technology and capitalism. The problem is it is not so good at solving fuzzy problems that can't easily defined and/or monetized.

Capitalism is very good at monetizing solutions to technology problems that can be defined, that people with monetary resources want. That's why we have so many solutions for erectile disorder and no cure for ebola. The research, technology and rewards goes where the money is. That's, also why we have global terrorism.

Science is great at meeting the definable, technical and monetizable problems. Science sucks at providing for fuzzy needs that are hard to define, test and monetize; but no less real despite being fuzzy.

Science and Technology creates widgets that entertain us and poison the planet. Science and Technology gives us virtual technical solutions that can leaves us lonely and isolated from physical and emotional human contact.

Religion meets fuzzy human real needs for physical and emotional human contact but the cost sometimes is the need to either accept the ways that religion contradicts science, or reject one, or the other.

Science and Technology disenfranchises whole third world cultures while it rewards others. Is it no wonder some of them use technology as a weapon? Jihad is an example the rejection of science for the sake of religion. I think it's no accident that Jihad is most at root in societies unable to benefit from science and technology.

But, what about the cool-aid? I don't think you need to drink the cool-aid if you want to go to the picnic. Faith based belief systems are far from perfect, but so is science. Stay away from the cool-aid!

"I will take a heap of science and a scoop of faith, I want some of each, thanks. No, I don't want the cool-aid, thanks, I am having a beer."