Death is our final destination in this journey of life

Death is a natural thing. It is part of the life cycle, and yet we fear it because we are afraid of the loss of those we love and we fear our own extinction.

The ego fights for its survival. It cannot see beyond it's own interests. It fears its own demise, and yet we intuit that there is more to us and more to life than our own egos. We have learned in many instances "to rise above it" and let the ego's instincts dissipate. We have learned to empathize with the experience of others which requires us to transcend our own ego and put ourselves in some else's place. There are many ego deaths every day if we are aware of them.

Death is the letting go of the ego and dis-identifying with our body and going on into the great beyond whatever that may be. It is our final destination of the journey here on earth and it is a transformation which we can only guess at.

We are told by spiritual masters like Jesus, Buddha, and others than death is nothing to fear. It is going home to the place from which we came, the mystery of God.

It is in the darkness that we see the light

Dark_path We live in a society which falsely teaches that people should be happy all the time. There are all kinds of things you can do and products you can buy to "cheer up". Our society loves cheery people.

I was accused one time, in a psychotherapy session by a client, of having "rose colored glasses on." I was rightly criticized by the client for trying to falsely "cheer her up."

I have been intrigued by the idea that sometimes our depression is trying to teach us something. If we ignore its lessons, we do so at the peril of loosing touch with our soul. Sometimes the path is dark and difficult and it will not be artificially illuminated with a light and bouncy countenance. Sugar coating does not work. Not saying shit when we have a mouth full of it is not in our spirit's best interest.

In one psychotherapy session, I said to a client in a kind and understanding way, after he had told me a long list of grievances about what was going on in his life, "It sucks to be you!" He looked at me with a look of recognition and started to laugh. Finally, here was someone who understood how lost and desolate he feels.

Sometimes, rather than being cheered up, we need to explore the dark path. We need to get to the bottom of things so the darkness can be surfaced, the unconscious demons can be made conscious. It is in going into the darkness of our fears, our suffering, our loneliness, that we begin to see the light.

You've Got A Friend - James Taylor and Carole King

Morning meditation - People who forgive refuse to be defined by injustice

Stephen Gaskin says that forgiveness is getting straight with people. I think he is on to something. I also think there is something more to it that just getting straight.

Forgiveness is many things. True forgiveness is a decision on the part of the victim to put the unjust behavior of the offender into context. Forgiveness requires a perspective and attitude that humans have a hard time cultivating and rising to. Our primitive reptilian brain wants vengeance, retribution, to kill or eliminate the perpetrator of the injustice against us. To overcome these powerful, primal instincts takes tremendous self awareness, courage, patience, understanding, love, and in a positive way, self abnegation in the sense of being able to rise above the hurt, the pain, the indignity, the lack of respect which injustice entails.

Forgiveness does not give up accountability. Forgiveness is not the same thing as pardon or reconciliation. Unjust behavior has consequences, it sets loose a karma in the world which cannot be recalled but can be redeemed. Reconciliation may not be desired by the victim or the perpetrator and yet forgiveness, peace in one's heart, can still be attained.

The victim forgives first and foremost for the benefit of oneself and only secondarily for the perpetrator and others.

Forgiveness is a power we all have to live happy and free instead of bitter and depressed defined by the injustice perpetrated against us. People who forgive refuse to be defined by injustice and victimhood. They realize they are much more than that. They realize they are beloved children of God in spite of how they have been treated by ignorant and dysfunctional others.

Morning meditation - What give joy.

Working together we can create the Beloved Community. It is a place where we can live together in health and harmony helping each other create a better version of ourselves. It is a place where pain, suffering, and sorrows as well as gladness, achievements, and joys  are shared among people who care for one another.

To0 often people falsely accuse one another of insults, injuries, and disappointments. Transgressions occur surely and people need to be held accountable to pursue their better selves for their own benefit and for the benefit of their families and communities and yet holding accountable and punishing out of vengeance and retribution are two different things.

In the spiritual life, we are aware of the innate goodness of all people and strive to elicit it and call it forth. We make the effort to hold people up and love them. It is not always easy but it is a great joy. Peace Pilgrim once said, "I look for the divine spark in everyone and then focus on that." In the Beloved Community people are looking for and acknowledging that divine spark. It  creates the Beloved Community and creating the Beloved Community is one of the most important things that gives us joy.

Morning meditation - "Love as I have loved"

I heard Annie Lamott say that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Faith entails belief in the unknowable. God, at least my understanding of God, is that God is unknowable. God is a mystery beyond understanding. Perhaps we have glimpses or inklings of what God might be like, but God is unfathomable to us human beings.

And yet, there are those, who claim to know who God is and what God wants. They say they know this from a book as if God could be captured in some text. This seems like a very small God who amounts to little beyond a character in a novel, a superhero in a story.

In the spiritual life, we humbly approach the mysterious. We are filled with reverence, with awe, with joy at the prospect of the transcendent. We have faith and hope in love. For the best description of the force we call God might be love and Jesus tells us that the way to the kingdom is "to love as I have loved." As we look around at the expressions of religion today, it seems that the love these religions display is in short supply.

Morning meditation - Offering your own state of being

We are confused as human beings between having, doing, and being. My friend, Al, said that when people asked his father, Nick, what he was doing in his retirement, Nick would say, "I am a human being, not a human doer."

Our doing does not define us. We are not our jobs.

Similarly, we get confused between our being and our having. Adolescents have to have certain shoes, certain pants, certain articles of clothing to fit in with the in-group. Adults strive to "keep up with the Jones." We think that if we have certain things or if we have enough of whatever it is that we think we need, we will be OK.

However, having and being are two different things. We are aware that money can't buy us love. And it also cannot buy peace, or honesty, or beauty, or truth, or justice. In fact, the desire to have things often interferes with our ability to have peace, and honesty, and justice, and things turn ugly when people become greedy, possessive, overly amibtious, and hoard things.

In the spiritual life, we come to realize that it is the quality of our being that matters and as Stephen Gaskin says, it is, in the last analysis, the truth that the only thing we have to offer another human being is our own state of being.

Morning meditation - Giving all to all to make the world as one

When we sing a song do we want everyone to hear it and take joy? When we smile do we want all people to see it and return our sense of wellbing? When we tell a joke, is it all people we are hoping will laugh and take delight? When we share our ideas, knowledge, and skills do we expect all people to share our excitement and satisfactions?

We are here to give all to all. We are here to share our gifts with the world. It is in this sharing all we have with all the world that we receive tremendous gifts of well being, betterment, and benefit. It is when we get selective and discriminate that we get into trouble. We will only smile on these people but not on those. We will only joke with some but not others because we have made the joke at their expense. We will only sing with some, but not others because they are not our kind of people and wouldn't enjoy our kind of music. We won't share our ideas, knowledge, and skills with others because we fear they will "steal" them from us and we want credit or gain from what we consider ours.

In the spiritual life, we are aware that in order to grow the spiritual kingdom and to have peace and a better world we have to share all with all. God loves all God's creatures unconditionally. And we, who are part of God's mind, must extend God's creative powers to all the world. As John Lennon sang in his great song, Imagine, "You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you will join us, and the world will be as one."

Morning meditation - Asking God to forgive in one big cop-out

It says in A Course In Miracles in Lesson 46 in the workbook,

"God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself."

Jesus says as they torture and execute Him, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." and, of course, they didn't know what they were doing. Oh, yes, I am sure that they thought they knew what they were doing just as we today persecute, attack, denigrate, accuse, judge, and condemn people all the time. We love to demonize our enemies and the news and politics and family life are full of such accusations, condemnations, and judgments, but supposing we, like Jesus, could say, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." "And, by the way, forgive me too forI know not what I am doing most of the time."

Of course, if we understood what the Course is saying, God can not forgive us because God never condemned us. It is we who must forgive ourselves and others. Why duck our responsibility, deny our power, cop out, and put it on God? It is irresponsible to create a God to project our responsibilities and capabilities onto. It is we ourselves who must forgive. Leave God out of it. God was never in on it in the first place. We shouldn't be asking God to do our work for us. Asking God to forgive is asking the impossible and is humanity's one big cop out. It starts with us. Have I forgiven anyone I am mad or upset with today?

Morning meditation - He who seeks finds

We sense that there is something beyond our everyday, "normal" reality. I remember the saying posted outside the Methodist Church at Christmas time which said, "You too can hear the angels' song if you tune in to the right frequency." So, I wonder about listening for God's voice and attempting to discern God's will which requires me to be conscientiously conscious of God's mind. This conscientious consciousness requires me to set my own ego aside, my own fears, my own needs and pre-occupations, my own stresses and desires.

It is hard to tune in. People sometimes say that drugs help them to drop out and to tune in. Psychedelic meditation has its pitfalls and problems however and perhaps we are better off pursuing the natural high. Some people have said that chanting helps them do this or dancing like the whirling dervishes or some other sort of religious practice. Meditation also is one avenue or path to tuning in.

The first step in tuning in is to ask the Holy Spirit, the angels, the transcendent to help you. Jesus says in Matthew 7:8, "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

Morning meditation - Extending God in blessings to others

If it is true that we are part of the mind of God, then it is also true that God goes with us wherever we go. If other people are also a part of the mind of God, then it is also true that God goes with them wherever they go. Happiness in life is extending the part of our mind that is of God to the part of their minds which is of God. The hitch, of course, is that egos get in the way.

Egos operate on the scarcity priniciple and because the ego believes that the ingredients in life are scare it engenders fear. These fears lead to defensiveness and defensiveness leads to attacks. Attacks engender more fear and this leads to anger and to counter-attacks which seem justified by an ego which believes in separation, exclusion, and death.

People cannot give what they don't have. If they don't believe that they are a part of God's mind, and that God goes wherever they go and will be with them forever, they find it hard to extend themselves to others and instead project negativity on them.

As St. Paul said, "If God is with you, who can be against you.?"

Jesus said often, "If you only knew how much your father in heaven loves you."

And so how will you operate: out of your ego, or out of the part of you that is of God? And if you choose to operate out of that part of you which is of God, you cannot but bless everyone and everything you see.