The Heart of Christmas

The advantage of making a What If post in which you say your final words just in case you croak is that you never have to do it again unless there’s a revision you’re just dying to make.  ‘Scuse the pun.

With that task done (see previous post if you’re new here), it’s time now for an uplifting Christmas message!

As many of you know, at this time last year I was living in a remote area of northern India at the foothills of the Himalayas.

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The nearest village was accessible in twenty minutes by way of narrow stone and dirt paths and leaps across six rocks in a creek.  It was a small, traditional Hindu, Muslim and Sikh community into which many Tibetan refugees and Buddhist monks and nuns had integrated.  Everywhere you looked, varying brands of faith were advertised in the clothes people wore, what they did or did not put on their heads, and how they greeted you.

While there were no practicing Christians in sight, it was not at all unusual for this blended community to embrace the spirit of Christ.  Jesus was, after all, considered a Buddha, a prophet and/or a divine being by many in these other religions.  So it should not have come as a surprise that I saw this notice posted outside a local shop just a few days before Christmas:

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But this was, in fact, quite a surprise, for beneath the veil of spiritual harmony in this village, there were plenty of tensions constantly brewing.

For more than 50 years, India has been host to high profile exiles like the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist teachers, and every year thousands of new Tibetan refugees find their way into communities near their beloved leaders.  In the village, it was clear that many Indians alternated between being gracious and blatantly resentful hosts to these Tibetans, and many Tibetans alternated between being grateful and blatantly mistrusting of the Indians.

The wariness of both sides was easily visible to me, and I found this troubling.  From a distance I assumed their spiritual devotion implied a constant dedication to kindness and compassion, but up close I often saw them behave contradictorily to these very ideals in particular.  Without tending to this troubling feeling, I let it casually wall off my heart so that I mindlessly discounted the spiritual sincerity of both the Indians and the Tibetans.

So I paused when I saw this sign.  At first I thought it was fantastic, that’s why I took a picture of it.  But then I began to think…wait.  Was it genuine or was it gratuitous?  Was it meant to keep the peace or keep the pretense?

As I walked home, I considered this issue in the manner requisite of any good spiritualist: First, I wondered the hell was wrong with the world.  Then I wondered what the hell was wrong with me.  I had taken a perfectly lovely gesture and promptly allowed my mind to make it suspect.

Wasn’t Christmas precisely the time when people with differences should come together?  Wasn’t the whole point of Christmas that we celebrate in honor of one who sought to unite us through love and peace?

And wasn’t I being just as lax in my own devotion to kindness and compassion as those by whom I was troubled?

Ahhh, there was the path I was looking for – out of the drama of my head and into the honesty of my heart.  Unconditional love and understanding were much easier to find in that light.

And so it was that last Christmas a village of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs helped lead me back to the spirit of Christ I held so dear.  I had wandered away from it in my expectations of how Christ-like others were supposed to be, and that’s just how Christians have been ostracizing people for years – including me.  Because I wanted no part in knowingly ostracizing anyone, I promptly committed to staying centered in my heart every time I walked back into the village from that day forth.

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This Christmas I am again firmly centered in my heart, and it is from that place that I send out prayers of love and blessings to family and friends of all faiths in all corners of the world.  May the light of peace and goodwill shine brightly in your own hearts as you gather with loved ones and those in your own communities throughout this holiday season.  I love you.

 

What If…

No matter what, December 21, 2012 will be just like any other day: it is going to be the last day on Earth for someone, somewhere.  Maybe more than the average number will transition on that day, and maybe not.  The reality is, not a single person in this world knows for certain what will happen to any of us on that day or any other.

So since no one knows for certain, I have to wonder: what if that day is, in fact, my last?  What if this is the last blog post I ever write?

On the slim chance that is true, here is the last thing I want to say:

–       I did my best

–       I have no regrets for loving anyone

–       I have no regrets for any apology I ever made

–       I have no regrets for any dance I danced

–       I have no regrets for any song I sang

–       I have no regrets for any sigh of nature I shared

–       I have no regrets for any night of stargazing

–       I have no regrets for any hand I held

–       I have no regrets for letting dogs kiss me on the lips

–       I have no regrets for seeking understanding

–       I have no regrets for seeking the lesson in every mistake

–       I have no regrets for constant prayers of gratitude for my teachers and every single person who supported me on my journey

–       I have no regrets for believing in humanity

–       I took risks

–       I made friends

–       I saw the world

–       I forgave genuinely

–       I made helping others a sincere priority

–       I tried in earnest to find, reveal, and honor my purpose

–       I was the best BEing of love, compassion and kindness I knew how to be

–       No one and no moment was insignificant to the beauty of my experience as a human

If Friday is not my last day, then I have no regrets for taking a few minutes to just appreciate my life.  I wish each of you deep appreciation in the reflection of your own journey.  I love you.

Envisioning a New World: Keepers of Innocence

*This is dedicated to all those in Connecticut who in their hour of darkness remind us that we are the light*

In media reports about killings, the word “innocent” is used primarily in reference to women and children, implying subliminally that the death of men is somehow more fathomable because they are not inherently as innocent as women and children.

In mass killings, “innocent children” get top billing over all others, implying subliminally that the death of any adult is more fathomable because any adult is not inherently as innocent as a child.

Fair enough.  If we feel compelled to decide worthiness of life, history tells us there have not been a lot of women, and certainly not a lot of children, causing problems in the world.

But ‘death of innocence’ sparks our emotional outrage and upheaval from a much deeper place than just identifying who is more or less deserving of life or death.  It comes from the fierce helplessness we feel in seeing the world reflecting back our own loss of innocence.

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The African philosophy of Ubuntu says that we become who we are through each other; one reflects what another sees in, or makes of, them.  This philosophy tells us we have a sacred responsibility for each other and that protecting the innocence of one is everyone’s work if innocence is to thrive anywhere.

In our frenetic, pressure-bombarded world, as adults we understandably become so overwhelmed that we forget that WE are the keepers of innocence.  Having had own child-like spirit taken away, we forget then that every child learns to hold on to or let go of their innocence based on what we show them.  They learn from every expression we offer, every word we speak, every motive we evidence, every visual we create, every lyric we sing, every stance we take, every blame or forgiveness we extend.

When tragedy such as a school shooting strikes, we don’t stop to think about all the ways the perpetrator learned to forget his innocence.  We are quick to try to identify a single cause to blame, then we get on our bandwagons and demand change.  Gun control.  Mental health services.  Bullying.  Parental involvement.

In our search for answers and comfort we look everywhere but at the possibility that the single cause of any manmade tragedy is that on our forgotten innocence WE raised a perpetrator in a world riddled with fear instead of love.

When war, killing, bullying, competition, separation, performance, greed and revenge are glorified in every manner of entertainment, education, media, marketing, religion and history telling – and we support these glorifications with our time, attention and money – blaming gun control and lack of mental health services is a like saying the fork caused the holiday weight gain and we lack therapy to cope with our flatware problem.

The best thing any of us can do in the face of a tragedy like what happened in Connecticut is to take a good honest look at where we as individuals further any measure of fear or violence or suppression of kindness, compassion and individual spirit in our world.  ANY MEASURE.  And commit then to transform it to love.

This is how we restore our own innocence as well as ensure that our children’s remain blessedly intact.

In the new world I envision, we have all learned the lessons of those who sacrificed their life to show us that darkness calls for our light.  And we all remember, as last, that we are the keepers of innocence.

Envisioning a New World: Emergence

In my previous post I featured Marianne Williamson and her book, A Return to Love.  Today Marianne has a piece in the HuffingtonPost.com that says everything I was going to talk about in this post, which I intended to be about the emergence of the Christ through each of us.  I see no need to re-word or repeat what she has said so beautifully.  Enjoy!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marianne-williamson/christmas-for-mystics_b_2288340.html

Envisioning a New World: Awake

I have a vivid memory of me as a young child standing in my grandmother’s front yard in Clovis, New Mexico, staring up at the hot desert sun and pondering the question of why people go to church to learn about Jesus when he was right in their heart.  I actually remember touching my heart and whispering, “Why can’t they hear him in here?” 

What prompted this pondering was the constant judgment and damnation I kept hearing from all the “Christians.”  The Jesus they were finding in church was not the same Jesus I had in my heart.  Mine was always, without exception, kind, compassionate and unconditionally loving of everyone.

I learned to dislike the churchgoers’ Jesus.  And eventually the noise of the world drowned out the Jesus in my heart. 

In journeying back into my heart with great focus and intention these past 18 months, I have come to realize there is something more than a beautiful man named Jesus in there.  There is me, waking up in his arms. 

I have, as Marianne Williamson says, woken up and returned to love.

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Years before her famous book club, Oprah Winfrey said on national television that she had never before been so moved by any book as she was by Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love.  She was so moved in fact, she bought 1000 copies to give to friends and family.

In the introduction to her book, Williamson says:

“When we were born, we were programmed perfectly.  We had a natural tendency to focus on love.  Our imaginations were creative and flourishing, and we knew how to use them.  We were connected to a world much richer than the one we connect to now, a world full of enchantment and a sense of the miraculous.”

What happens from there, she says, is that we were taught to think unnaturally and focus away from love.

“We were taught to think thoughts like competition, struggle, sickness, finite resources, limitation, guilt, bad, death, scarcity, and loss… We were taught that things like grades, being good enough, money, and doing things the right way, are more important than love… We were taught to see the world the way that others had come to see it.  It’s as though, as soon as got here, we were given a sleeping pill.”

If love is what we were born with and fear is what we have learned, then the most important thing we can ever do for our own well-being and the well-being of our planet is WAKE UP!

There is a new world waiting for just that miracle.

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So how does one wake up?  Well, for starters it might be helpful to read Marianne’s book or re-read it if it has been a while. 

But more importantly, the real first step is a willingness to look at the world inside and around you with awakened questioning.  Start with yourself, looking honestly at everything you believe, think, say and do.  Fear or love-based?  Find the courage and resources to start removing all fear from your thoughts and beliefs, and what follows in your words and deeds will be love. 

Look carefully at the underlying messages and motives of your faith and your government.  Fear or love-based?  Use the discerning guidance of your heart to know the difference…and trust love.  If you don’t find the motives that feel right in your leaders, you may realize you are actually the love you and others have been waiting for.

Look carefully at what influences your opinions, spending, education and priorities.  Fear or love-based influence?  Are you being manipulated into conformity or encouraged to express your uniquely true self?  If you find yourself holding back on expressing your own glorious voice or choice for fear of what others might say or expect, this is a sure sign there’s a magnificent YOU pleading to wake up and live freely.

As you begin to wake up and the fog of fear begins to clear, you will remember more and more of who you are, why you are here, and what you are capable of experiencing and manifesting through love.  Your motivation doesn’t need to be finding Jesus.  In fact, he said the love we are looking for is inside us, like his love was within him.  His source of love and ours are the same, and we are here on this Earth to experience BEing that love.

So, in the new world I envision, we are all magnificently, gloriously, beamingly, wide awake.  And I can’t wait to see the new you there – and the new us, together.

 

  

My Top 5 CHRISTmas List

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1. I wish for everyone to remember they are love.

For those who can’t remember they are love, I wish them blind faith in that possibility.

For those who can’t have blind faith in that possibility, I wish them friends and family and circumstances that cause them to suspect that possibility.

For those who can’t suspect that possibility, I wish them the ability to feel my love, and that the power of that resonance will tell of their truth.

2. I wish for everyone to wake up Christmas morning (or before) and realize Christ consciousness, regardless of what they call it.  Call it feeling the collective potential for goodness, call it seeing the potential for uplifting change, call it milk and cookies for the soul.  These are only words.  My wish is not for words but for awareness; that all may be aware of the truthful and peaceful and healing feeling that is unconditional love…which is Christ consciousness.

3. I wish for everyone the courage and willpower to drop every single thought, word and action that is not purely love.  I wish for them to see clearly the frivolity of any moment of this precious life that does not promote love inwardly or outwardly.

4. I wish for everyone to unlock their wildest imagination and dream a new world into existence.  No more bandaids on old problems; all the old ways and old problems no longer exist.  Let us all bid a grateful farewell to ways of BEing that others created and design a new world of our own imaginative making.

(Me, I will imagine I can fly.  I will imagine I am pure light.  I will imagine a world of abundance without money; a world where children teach and adults listen; a world where no form of entertainment requires an arc of conflict to be popular; a world where prisons and wars and competition and all the ‘isms’ that separate us are long gone.  I will imagine a world of gratitude and equality and fantastic colorful co-creations with God, with others and with all of life.)

5.  I wish for everyone to realize that all of these wishes are possible.  Since this is a CHRISTmas list, let us remember it was Jesus who reportedly said, “With God all things are possible.” He also reportedly said that the Kingdom of God is within, and that we can only see this Kingdom of God if we are born again.

So my ultimate wish then is for you, beloved brothers and sisters, to go within and find that Kingdom of God.  While in that precious space, may you realize you are love; may you find the Christ consciousness; may you find the courage to let go of every bit of that which is not love; and may you be joyfully born again into a spectacular new world of you own making.

When you get there, look for me.  I’ll be the flash of pure light flying nearby.