Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

Spiritual Book Review: The Little Red Book

April 1, 2011

Often the truth isn’t where we think it should be.  By accident I found a copy of  “The Little Red Book” that has a truth one might never expect to find.  It wasn’t written  by theologians.  Nor was it transcribed by Spanish Monks. Tibetan wise men were not counseled for their views.  Actually the book is the result of two people who struggled with temptations, fear and frustration their whole lives.  These precepts are the life lessons of Bill W. and Doctor Bob, originators of the AA program. The Little Red Book(ISBN number 978-0-89486-985-3 ) is the handheld companion book for the Big Book from Alcoholics Anonymous(AA).  I’m not a member of AA so my finding this book is quite remarkable. I was slightly acquainted with it though because I have acquaintances and friends that are members of AA. I actually found this in the bookstore, picked it up, and immediately recognized it.  As I read the 12 Step Program from the book I thought “what a perfect spiritual outlook.” In the subtext is my spiritual reinterpretation of the 12 Steps that can be used by the rest of us. My apologies to any that I may offend by showing this in a different light, the rest of humanity can really learn from these examples and from the people who have followed them:

 Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. 

Sub: We admitted that we were powerless over our lives – that our lives are separated from one another and God.

Step Two:Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to Sanity.

Sub: Came to believe that a Power(God) greater than ourselves could restore us to Sanity(Wholeness).

Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

Sub: Same

Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Sub: Same

Step Five: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Sub: Same, a Spiritual Confession

Step Six: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Sub: Same

Step Seven: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Sub: Same

Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Sub: Same

Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Sub: Same

Step Ten: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong (and)  promptly admitted it.

Sub: Same

Step Eleven: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Sub: Same

Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Sub: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other people, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Our eternal thanks to Bill W. and Doctor Bob

One day at a time
       – Bill W.

 

“The Little Red Book”  Ten Stars   **********

  ISBN: 978-0-89486-985-3
Advertisement

Thoughts Are Things

March 28, 2011

Thoughts are things.  They have a beginning, a middle, and end. Most of us, if pressed, would just say that it’s an electrical current running around in our head.   That’s true too. I think that thoughts are builders and destructors.   That each and every moment, each and every thought is building or destroying.  That’s why it’s so crucial to think properly.  Imagine something as soft as a feather but as dangerous as a Blue Flame Welding Torch. That is our minds.  Soft as a feather that when I’m bumped in line at the store, I’ve lost my thought. Yet,when totally utilizing a laser beam focus(like a welding torch) we can become unstoppable.   The blinding light, the searing heat, able to burn through any thing.   Normally though a torch creates a heat that creates plasma to weld two things together. Our ideas build things.

When I was a freshman in school we had a Grammer Book and it stated that the definition of a noun was, “A noun is a word used to name a person, place, or thing.”  About 6 Years later I happened upon a new copy of the book. The noun definition had changed to “A noun is a word used to name a person, place, thing, or idea.” Epiphany!!!  I suddenly realized that an Idea was a thing.  I was holding an Idea. It was the first time that I ever realized that an idea had substance.

Our minds create ideas that build up or tear down our own and others worlds.   In lockstep pattern we create our reality constantly. When you walk down the street and look at the buildings and park benches and buses and signs, keep in mind that at one time these were just the ideas on someone’s mind. Imagine the very beginnings of each object. All things begin with mental conception.  An idea in the engineer’s mind, an idea in the architect’s mind, an idea in the park commissioner’s mind. Imagine walking by these buildings, stores, park benches, street signs, and  street markets and being able to sweep your hands and arms through those idea patterns.  That’s what they were at one time, just idea patterns. 

I believe that our lives are analogous to that one movie “The Matrix”. The Superior beings had created a false world of computer code to ensnare human slaves.  Except that we are the ones creating the code, we are the ones creating our world with ideas.

Our reality is nothing but our Ideas.  Many spiritual books say this. A famous healer was treating a patient one time and he advised surgery.   The recorder of the event knew that a very similar case was treated very differently(medication, massage, proper diet).  She spoke up and asked “Why is this patient different?  Why does this patient need surgery when the other one didn’t?  The healer answered, “Very good question.   THIS PATIENT BELIEVES IN SURGERY. That is the only way he can accept being healed.”

If we were to focus with our laser like minds upon our plasma  like world we could change anything. 

 And Jesus said unto them,  Because of your unbelief: for verily I (Jesus) say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

                                                                                              -Matt.17:20

 

The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts

March 27, 2011

Try to imagine an Idea. We can’t really do it.  It’s an abstract thought.    It has no size, no shape, no color, or smell.  In fact the idea of an idea can only be fixed in the mind. Can we imagine our own totality, our own collective greatness? I doubt if we can. But I believe that collectively we are the end all, the greatest ever, and we are greatest when we are eventually reunited with God. When we are reunited with God we will be Greater Than The Sum Of Our Parts.

Let me give an example:

A blind man goes into a totally dark room(this is a double-blind experiment). He has a mission to find out what is in the room. Since he can’t see, he makes his way clumsily around the room.  He makes his way along and finally stumbles onto something. He picks it up, examines it, and thinks “It feels like an angular bar.”   He shuffles along again, careful not to fall.  His foot kicks something.  He picks it up and it appears to be a  short rubber tube closed at one end.  Then he bumps into another big piece of  angled piping or tubing of some kind.   He mumbles to himself, “A bunch of useless junk. These things don’t mean anything.”    Then he steps on a flat metal piece. He picks it up and it has sharp-pointed edges.  “Hmm…a type of disc.”    He hates this game and wishes he could be let out but knows this is his mission.   Next he finds another short rubber tube closed at one end.  ” It feels familiar though,” he says.   He shuffles and shuffles and can’t find anything,……finally he kicks something else.   He reaches down and picks it up.  “It’s a  chain of some sort.”     He has an epiphany!!!   “I think I know what it is.”      His eyes light up(even though he’s still blind), he sees the light(even though the room is still dark).  His heart starts pounding but he asks himself, “Is it a self-propelled or motor driven?”   He scrambles around the room looking frantically for the rest of the parts, two here, another there, three more across the room until finally he has all the parts and he knows what it is.   He cries out, “It’s a bicycle.”

The short tubes were the handle grips, the angular bar was the handlebars, the big angular tubing was the frame, the disc was the sprocket, and the chain was of course a bicycle chain.  Even here with his developmental reasoning he still had to ferret out slowly and deliberately the missing part to delineate what it was. “I know what it is, but still, is it a bicycle or motorcycle?  There is no engine so it must be a bicycle.”

The parts individually mean nothing. Just like he said “A bunch of useless junk.”  But taken together “The Whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”   We are like that.   Individually we are nothing, but working in harmony of motion we are magnified tenfold. It can be argued that “Yea, but the bike is a design, an engineering effort.” To which I reply “So what is God’s plan?”   Aren’t we HARMONIZED together and fine tuned?   Our true being can’t really be conceptualized into we become Spiritual Adults and we work together.

Actually we are the blind man, in a dark room, stumbling together, but separately.  The parts aren’t really pieces, they are PEOPLE.  As we come together we become more. God’s Design is greater than a bike.

“I see the Past, Present, and Future existing all at once before me…”
                        – William Blake

Dream #1

March 26, 2011

Freud and Jung started modern man on the path to understanding.   They weren’t the first and they won’t be the last.

For atheists that don’t believe in God, I ask them to think if they have ever had an out of Time/Place Phenomenon(Psychic, I hate that word) experience and second if they have had any Pre-cognitive dreams.   That’s a litmus test for me that God is real.   I have pre-cognitive dreams all the time.  Frequently I’ll have a  dream and it’s in a totally unknown place with totally unknown people.   When the event happens months later, I am usually in a mid-sentence conversation with someone and suddenly realize “I dreamed this months ago”.   I then look around at the environment and realize that everything is exactly in its place just like in the dream.

An interesting dream I had:

I’m out on the golf course on hole #9 having just chipped for the green when another ball comes whizzing by me.  I’m not happy so I rush back to the front driving area of the hole and encounter an old lady trying to golf.  I start in right away about how she doesn’t know how to golf and that she almost killed me with that last shot.   After I calm down I offer to show her how to golf and start to tee up the ball.   I patiently explain to her that the fundamentals of golf require A, B, C, & D.   I swing the club and my ball goes flying.  It’s a good shot.  

She just looks at me and says that she has her own way.  “Ok, How do you golf?”, I ask.   She proceeds to get a ball out her bag and then she walks off to the side by a small tree. She’s off the shooting area now and I have no idea what she’s going to do.   She places the ball about four foot high in the crux of the tree.   I start laughing almost hysterically.   She draws her club back and swings and hits the ball.  The ball goes flying.  I watch it as it careens the trees, it bounces and lands and rolls about twenty foot past the ball that I just shot.  She then turns to me and smiles politely  and says “We each have our own way, can’t you see that?”   When I woke up from the dream it still took me awhile to realize what I had dreamed.  I finally realized that it wasn’t a golf lesson at all, it was a life lesson.

Later on I found a quote that could have been quite apt coming from the wise old lady in my dream:

Forget your opponents; always play against par

                                 ~Sam Snead

Prayer(101)

March 25, 2011

I didn’t understand that some people didn’t know how to pray.  In a prior post I had mentioned an elderly friend of mine named Mrs. Strong that had newly rediscovered her Bible(her religion never endorsed her to read the Bible on her own).  At that same get together we also discussed prayer. After attending a new  Bible Group she also realized that she didn’t know how to pray.   I asked rather incredulously “What do you mean?”  She had always to my knowledge attended church, I didn’t understand.   She said, “when I go to the Bible Study and we sit in a circle, the members take turns praying.  Some are very, very good.  They say prayers for things I never really thought about.”    I was starting to hear her but was still fuzzy.  “Well, how do you pray?, I asked.   “we have a book of prayers that has a  prayer for every occasion.  I’ve always used that.  These people just seem to pray off the top of their head, they make up their prayer.”  I understood then.  I said, “that’s right, they do”.

I need to back up here a little bit.  Mrs. Strong had always been very devoted to her church and family.  She is great. Her famI didn’t understand that some people didn’t know how to pray. In a prior post I had mentioned an elderly friend of mine named Mrs. Strong that had newly rediscovered her Bible(her religion never endorsed her to read the Bible on her own). At that same get together we also discussed prayer. After attending a new Bible Group she also realized that she didn’t know how to pray. I asked rather incredulously “What do you mean?” She had always to my knowledge attended church, I didn’t understand. She said, “when I go to the Bible Study and we sit in a circle, the members take turns praying. Some are very, very good. They say prayers for things I never really thought about.” I was starting to hear her but was still fuzzy. “Well, how do you pray?, I asked. “we have a book of prayers that has a prayer for every occasion. I’ve always used that. These people just seem to pray off the top of their head, they make up their prayer.” I understood then. I said,”‘that’s right, they do”.ily is great. Her life was great. In essence she had always done what she was TOLD TO DO.  She was also from a different generation and a rural background.  Again this is not wrong because again she has raised a great family, served her community, cared for others and wonderfully fulfilled her faith.  I believe that she did pray on her own but  mostly she recited hers prayers.

I on the other hand I found things differently. When I was a boy and a teenager I would read the Bible in Church, during church service.  This always made my Mother mad.  “Why don’t you read it at home?” she would say.  “because I’m to busy playing baseball,” I answered.  “Then why do you read it in church?” she countered. I gave her three reasons why I read the Bible in church. “One, I’m bored with what the minister is saying. Two, It’s the only book in the church pew. Three, I find Jesus words much more interesting than what the preacher is saying.”  After that she didn’t bother me and she didn’t like it but she did understand. I guess I always read and prayed on my own.

It’s about direct communion.   Back to Mrs. Strong.  I told her it may look difficult but she could pray any way she wanted to.   “The greatest thing to remember about prayer is to pray sincerely.  That’s what these people are doing”,   she nodded her head.   “It sounds like you’ve always prayed for reasons; a birth, a death, a wedding or a tragedy.” If we really think about our greatest prayers, they were done with our deepest conviction and spontaneity.   I relayed to her the story of one Minster’s greatest prayer.  He said that one time while he was getting water from the well his foot became entangled by the rope and he fell into the well. Hanging upside down in the darkness of that well “I never prayed so sincerely in my life as at that time, I was eventually heard and found.” (<Unremembered Source)  With that I want to say that we can pray for a reason but that we can also pray BECAUSE WE CAN!  Every thought is in fact a prayer.

Dear Father, help me find the words….

                                                             – Someone, Somewhere

How Many Ways?

March 23, 2011

 

As time goes on we realize that religion is in fact disbanding.  Not in terms of groups breaking up but more and more groups being formed every day.  In fact, splintering, I believe.  More and more people are finding their own religion and values.    In a way we are in a constant state of religious pluralism.  In Europe before Martin Luther’s Revolution there was only the Catholic Church and the Muslims(this may not be quite true, but pretty close).   Today there is a religion on every corner.   The organizational religion is breaking down.   More and more people are discovering their own connection to God and finding their own values. 

There are 6.8 billion people on the earth.  Since there are no institutional funnels that sweep people up to heaven and since there is no religious group that has automatic passes to get to heaven, how may ways are there to get to heaven?  Is it a trick question?   Not really.   There are at least 6.8 billion ways to get to heaven.   Why?    Because each and every soul has carved a unique niche path that only they can follow.  Again from a Karmic point of view each person has built up or tore down their own way to heaven.  Some are quick. Some are slow. Some replay the same lives over and over again relearning the same lessons again and again(probably me).    Many of us have crossed paths many times and we will probably continue to cross paths.   We’re each climbing to the mountaintop but each of us is climbing up a different way.

 “Be kind to people on the way up – you’ll meet them again on your way down.”
                                                  – Jimmy Durante

Founding Fathers(What they really believed)

March 22, 2011

There has been a lot said about the Christian beliefs of the Founding Fathers.  Two books have answered many of the questions of their real beliefs.   The first is called “Faith of the Founding Fathers” by David L. Holmes(http://www.amazon.com/Faiths-Founding-Fathers-David-Holmes/dp/0195300920/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1300658042&sr=1-5).  Mr. Holmes goes step by step through each Founding Father(Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Madison & Monroe)  to outline their actions, their beliefs, their letters and other significant evidence as to their real beliefs.   Most of the evidence does not backup an idea of a Christian Nation or Fundamentalism.   In fact, several of America’s leaders were Unitarian or Deist  in belief.   Thomas Jefferson compiled his own version of the Bible which today is called the “Jefferson Bible”.  Three that professed a more Orthodox Christianity were Samual Adams, Elias Boudinot, & John Jay. 

The other book is called “American Gospel” by Jon Meacham(http://www.amazon.com/American-Gospel-Founding-Fathers-Making/dp/0812976665/ref=pd_sim_b_5).   This book more or less reinforces some of the ideas of the first book with more and different evidence.   The Founding Fathers were not devoted to a purely Christian Nation as some people believe today.   The most compelling evidence is the “Treaty of Tripoli”.  This was a treaty to end the pirating of the Barbary Pirates.   Initiated by Washington and completed by Adams it contained language to allay the fears of these Barbary Muslims that America had any designs of a Christian Crusade.    Article 11 of this treaty has these words, “America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,…..”.   This was ratified by the Senate in 1797.  No apparent evidence exists that shows any public outcry or disturbance.  The Founding Fathers really believed in religious freedom and expression.

Make no mistake that the Founding Fathers were in fact very religious and spiritual minded individuals that tried to live by their beliefs.   In fact, what comes across the most in these two books is each and every Founding Father lived and believed what they thought was right regardless of what others thought.  That takes a lot of courage. If only we could act on the same faith that they possessed.

My practical mindset knows that nothing I’ve written here will hardly change one iota of anyone’s opinion.   Still in all I pursue the truth of things as they really are, not as I wish them to be.

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.”
                 -Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Different Religions

March 21, 2011

While I don’t personally subscribe to an individual religion, I respect that others do.  In one of my prior posts I stated that  values shouldn’t be based on geography or birthright.  My intention was to show that again those religions don’t have a singular, direct exclusive line to God.  I believe that our greatest link to God is in the individual.   The greatest values are practiced with people.  The greatest Ideals and Truths are Universal and transcend all religions.

If a person feels and believe in their heart that they are a Catholic, Jew, Hindu, or a disciple of any religion, then I respect that.   Since I believe in Karma, I believe that God’s plan is perfect.   While it may escape me and my understandings, somehow people must fulfil their destiny in their religions. While I don’t believe that they are completely Universal,  God and that person has a plan for them in that religion.  In my religion,  we are all Universal Children of God and it is a hard concept for me to understand that the majority of people practice a less than Universal View.   Perfect  dualities:  Somehow God has given me  my  greater Universal approach that helps me while at the same time God’s grace IS WORKING FOR PEOPLE IN THEIR  RELIGIOUS UNDERSTANDINGS.    My point here is that my posts are not to sound judgmental as much as this is my little mini-church to share an understanding that I believe in and that works.  

In the movie Gandhi, there is a Hindu man describing to Gandhi  the scene of the Hindu/Muslim rioting in the streets.   The Hindu man found his own dead son killed in the melee.   Very shortly he then killed a Muslim child.   The Hindu then explains to Mahatma  Gandhi he feels convinced that he will go to Hell for this senseless murder of the Muslim boy.   Gandhi eyes him cautiously and explains that he knows a way out of hell.    He tells the Hindu to find a boy.    An orphaned Muslim boy.   Then he tells him to adopt him and to raise that boy AS A MUSLIM.    Not as an exercise in karmic repayment but as an exercise in Love from an Indian Hindu father to his adopted Muslim son.   Therein lies the grace of God.

Frequently my Christian friends come under attack and I feel compelled to jump in to back their position.   They are great people  and I learn things from them.   I have my view and I know that God is working with people in their Faiths.

 “We must become the change we want to see.”
                              -Mahatma Gandhi

No Intermediaries(No Thank You, I Can Do It Myself)

March 19, 2011

I understand the need for teachers, tutors, instructors and mentors.   I understand the need for books.   My parents job and responsibility was to raise me and teach me.  As a teenager my parents no longer remembered enough to teach calculus.  I had to learn from new teachers.  When I learned to drive, I wasn’t able to hear it from my parents.   I needed a driver’s ed teacher.   In college they taught me Music Theory and Music Arranging & Orchestration.    But each parent, each teacher, each mentor eventually said “While you may occasionally come back to me for future instruction, essentially I’ve taught most of what I know.   From here on out, experience is your best instructor”.  

I believe  that the whole of God cannot be encapsulated in special books, special men, or special places. Books, Men, & Places are not more important or more spiritual than God.  Eventually each of us must need DIRECT EXPERIENCE.  Eventually we need to trust that Speaking to God and Listening to God will yield our greatest instruction.  I believe that prayer & meditation is our real personal connection with God.  Eventually each of us will have no intermediaries, no earthly teachers, no books or manuscripts to study.    No external teachers, all knowledge is within.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever.”
                                                         -Mahatma Gandhi
  

Civilization(Nothing’s changed, maybe it’s up to me)

March 18, 2011

 

I have a quote from Stanley Diamond, the world-famous anthropologist,  “Civilization originates in conquest abroad and repression at home.”  This is the way of the world, even in the religious community. My own religious experiences mirrors this definition of civilization.

In my twenties I happened to visiting an old retired friend named Mrs. Strong.   She told me she had just started reading the Bible and was finding it very wonderful and refreshing. She had hardly ever read it her whole life, even though she was about 69 years old.   I was amazed because I knew then that she was even more religious than I was.  I was befuddled about this and asked her why it was suddenly so great.   She said that she had never read it, that her church thought fit to best interpret it’s meaning.   She was actually never encouraged to read it herself.   This is a very famous church and congregation(which shall remain unnamed).  I showed her some of my favorite passages and said that she should read it all the time.  

Later I met some people in another congregation that were equally insistent that ONLY the bible was meaningful and purposeful.   That all the answers were there and there alone.  I don’t really believe that the Bible is the literal word of God.  I shared the parts that we agreed on but didn’t press any issues to purposely challenge them.  I did say though that some things can never be taught in a book, like swimming or dancing.  They invited me to be a member but I couldn’t ever find that I would agree to their ideas.   I found it to be too repressive for my tastes.

Again later, I met another religious order that espoused that their teacher was advanced enough that his insight alone should be the favored and preferred lead in my life.  Would I like to have him as my teacher?    I initially agreed but eventually we parted ways.

I think of Stanley Diamond’s quote often.   Each group wanted my membership, to expand their world and to cull from mine.   Each group or teacher wanted to limit my relationship with God by making their position supreme.

Sometimes this had made me angry and sad.   I realize though that with reincarnation and karma I HAVE ONLY ACTUALLY EVER MET MYSELF.  If these were my past ideals from past lives then I let it go.   I will not seek unwarranted expansion and conquest anymore.  I will not repress any more.   Each person is free to pursue God in the manner that they see fit.  I will help people because I love them.  I will help people because I wish to be truly helpful.

I believe now though(my new ideal) that  no intermediaries, books or teachers can interpret God or talk to God on your behalf  BETTER THAN YOU.  I’m convinced that no one can speak or listen to God for you, better that you.  You alone hold the key to God.

Life is eternal, and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”
                                                            – Anonymous