This is the day

This is the Day

The statement in this picture from the book of Psalms is an oft-repeated statement in Christian circles; sung in songs, repeated as part of responsive readings and used in sermons. It hearkens to a belief in a personified God that holds a hand over the world and creates each circumstance and moment. In metaphysical spiritual studies, we look at this a bit differently, beginning with the term ‘Lord’.

Different from the concept of the personhood of the Divine, in metaphysical spiritual studies we use the word ‘Law’ in lieu of ‘Lord’. Ernest Holmes said it – though he was not the first and will not be the last – that there is a power for Good in the Universe. This power is available to all, and has been interpreted across cultures and time through many lenses: Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and many, many more.

The standard (Christian) interpretation is one that accepts that someone (God) gave us the day, and we should be happy. It sets up an expectation that we are helpless receivers and not at all a part of the experiences that make up our lives. Metaphysical wisdom looks at this in a slightly different way and restating this passage is a good place to begin the explanation:

This day belongs to spiritual Law. We have a choice: to rejoice and be glad in it – or not. It’s all on us.

Spiritual teachers often use the example of gravity to teach the impersonal nature of universal laws. If you’re reading this you’ve no doubt heard that a nun and a thief can both jump out of a 10-story building, and the laws of gravity and velocity will work on them equally.

So it is with spiritual law, and what this verse is telling us: each day we have the opportunity to use our minds to tap into the infinite nature of the spiritual universe, and create the day that we choose. We can have a wonderful day, we can have a lousy day – it’s our choice.

A wonderful day may include a flat tire, getting soaked by rain as we run from the car to our office, or stubbing our toe on the couch. A lousy day may include sitting in a nice executive office, being paid a generous salary and driving home in a luxury car. The wonderful or lousy qualities are the way we choose to ‘be‘ in any circumstance; the way we react to our world – no matter where we are, what we have, what has happened.Rejoice

When we learn this truth, we know that each day is ours to create. We have no one to blame when it goes wrong; no one to thank if things go well.

There’s a Law that’s as impersonal as the Law of Gravity, and it relies solely upon our ability to work with it – so, good day, bad day or somewhere in between – it’s up to us.

 

(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path
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Leading back to love

1-John-3-18Another year is edging into the waning months, and I was reviewing the performance of this blog and looking at which themes, blogs and days were most popular. I found that 1 blog post moved from position #6 last year to the top position (#1) this year.

The blog was titled, Jesus: the great example.

I wrote it in 2015 as I wrestled with some divergent perspectives on giving inside the New Thought (specifically CSL) movement. I was pretty fired up about some things at that time and wrote a few different articles on the topic, including one that cites Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

I still feel strongly that a spiritual organization that claims to be built on philosophies that include the teachings of Jesus cannot then teach that giving to need is anathema. Any serious scholar of the Christian tradition knows that – flowery biblical language aside – Jesus taught giving and love as he also demonstrated the workings of Universal spiritual law.

And yet, in Christian and metaphysical organizations this concept of giving can become unnecessarily complex. I’ve stepped back from believing that the measure of 10% is a requirement for demonstrating abundance, and believe that the character of our heart toward giving is more important than the decimal point on our checks.

I’ve seen too many circumstances where the focus on handing over 10% supersedes cultivating a giving spirit and it’s a zero sum game. Spiritual wisdom across cultures and time have highlighted the importance of a developing a giving nature in ourselves, which takes place at all times – not just when the offering basket passes by.

Some of the more business-minded center/church folks will tell you that this is the modern world; how can you budget without some idea of what to expect? And yet this flies in the face of what is being taught: that we are provided, always.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? [Matthew 6:25-26]

Organized religion in the United States is undergoing tremendous change and metaphysical organizations are not immune to the societal pressures facing our family, friends and colleagues in the traditional religious sector. One of the defining issues in this great change is authenticity. People are no longer willing to swallow hook-line-sinker what the minister says. They look at actions; they read, think for themselves and ask hard questions. And this is nothing but GOOD for religion and spirituality.

After the very public and painful displays of disrespect and ignorance that we have witnessed for the past 2 years, this nation and indeed the world is ready for a shift. And spiritual people can lead this shift if we remember core principles of the teachings that so many traditions have been built on, and practiced.

In a word, it all comes back to love.

17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. [1 John 3:17-18]

We’ll soon be celebrating the holiday season, and in many metaphysical centers and churches, this means that prosperity programs are right around the corner. What if we start the shift this country needs with a focus on giving to our communities instead of tabulating what our members are demonstrating and adding up the tithes? Let’s know that we are provided, individually and as organizations, and lead the way back to love.

Community organizations that serve the most vulnerable populations are grateful for the holiday spirit that brings in record-level donations, but the needs they serve are year-round. Smaller centers and churches can pick a single recipient and tailor the giving to youth and adults. Larger centers and churches may find joy in identifying different recipient organizations for youth and adults to support.

I have often seen new people wander into a center or send an email and ask: “Who are you? What do you teach – what do you believe?

How awesome it would be if people knew us by the Good we did in our community – Good so impactful that people want to be a part of it because they can feel the love; they can see the consistent demonstration of a giving attitude or spirit.

And so as we plan ahead for another new year, let us not love in word or talk – but in deed and in truth.

And so it is.

(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path

When Soldiers and Sailors Die

(this blog was first published by the author on Medium)

This week General John Kelly took to the podium to explain his experience when informed of his son’s death in combat as part of an attempt to defend Trump’s clumsy and insensitive statements to the grieving family of Sgt. La David Johnson — a soldier killed recently in Niger.

It may make sense to comfort family members whose children willingly joined the military to serve because that’s what they “wanted to do” as General Kelly explained; but that perspective is not representative of everyone on active duty today.

Many of the men and women serving in enlisted ranks did voluntarily sign up — they were not conscripted, but they are not all “doing what they love”.

If we examine the demographics of the typical enlisted person we must ask the question: how many of them had other options out of high school?

“Once again, we’re staring at the painful story of young people with fewer options bearing the greatest burden” — Greg Speeter, Executive Director of the National Priorities Project referring to America’s military engagements since Iraq, Afghanistan.

With the price tag of higher education sky-rocketing out of reach for the middle class, manufacturing and other living wage jobs largely a thing of the past — especially in much of the nation’s rural areas — the options are limited for many young people and the military is often a last resort. It’s a respectable choice, certainly but for many it’s not a choice they would make if they had access to other opportunities.

How many young people serving today made the choice to serve their country as a soldier, sailor, airman or marine primarily because they had few other alternatives?

How many knew the risks, but also knew that if they wanted to provide for their families, there were few other choices for them?

There may not be a Vietnam era style draft taking place right now, but don’t be deluded into thinking that everyone serving today is there because that’s what they want to do.

The fact is there’s an economic “draft” in place right now that forces many young people from the most vulnerable neighborhoods and social classes to weigh their chances in this unstable world against the opportunity to get money for college, learn a trade or skill or simply afford to live.

So, with all due respect to General Kelly; telling the family of a fallen military member that they died doing what they love should never be the default message.

All of our fallen military members are heroes. But too often that lost sailor or ambushed soldier represents broken dreams, lost hope and yet another reminder of the terrible realities that people on the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder face every day.

– – – – –

Author’s note: I served in the US Navy as an enlisted person and saw, firsthand, the impact on people swept up in the economic “draft” that exists still today.

Shared wisdom

hinged-steel-doorOne of the great joys of my career is seeing former students excelling in their professional roles, taking the seeds that I planted in the college classroom and growing them into tremendous skill sets and careers.

I’m extremely proud of the data management analysts, consultants and others whose early years I had a small part in as their professor, and who now represent some of the brightest and best in Health IT.

This same pride and excitement carries over to students to whom I have taught spiritual principles. Today I had the great privilege of hearing a story that is worth sharing.

One student has been sharing with me that they work with 2 fairly miserable (in attitude) people – one of which is actively unfriendly to my student.  We have talked often about the outcome of giving a lot of energy and attention to things, and so the student created a mantra and mini-visualization to address the two challenging people at work.

“<Person’s name>, I graciously bless you, and release you from my experience.”

Each time one of these individuals came into their mind, they said this (or thought it) and pictured a large, steel door closing and separating them from each other. This can be as short as 30-seconds.

Within 2 weeks of beginning this simple approach, one of the people submitted a 2-week notice and will be leaving the job site, and the other person is now telling people that they are actively seeking another job and won’t be staying there much longer.

My student smiled and went about their work duties, knowing that they were well on the way to creating the peace at work that they desired by using a simple spiritual tool.

Here are a couple important caveats:

  • stay neutral, knowing that this is simply an energetic separation
  • do not give energy to hoping they “learn a lesson” or “get what they deserve
  • once the door closes in your visualization, release it and let it go

When we remember that energy flows where our attention goes, we can effectively use this simple mantra and visualization to see our peaceful separation from whatever or whomever it is that is causing a disturbance in our lives.

I am so thankful for this student’s shared wisdom, and am certain that I will use it.

Now you can too.

(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path

Going to Ninevah (the hard way)

Hebrew Jonah

Picture found at Tanakh through world art

Have you ever heard the voice of God?

Has God ever said “Get up tomorrow morning & go to Ninevah” ?

Maybe not, but I’ll bet you’ve felt that nagging feeling about helping someone out; apologizing to someone; or going the extra step on a task or project.

That’s the same voice of God – the divine “nudge” – that spoke to Jonah, telling him to arise and go to Ninevah.

Most of us feel it first in the negative, or reverse direction – often as young children and most definitely as adolescents. It’s that strong almost-audible voice that says:

Now you KNOW you shouldn’t go there / do that …”

It is also as young children or adolescents that we often learn about Jonah as told in the Hebrew Scriptures and Old Testament.

Jonah heard the voice of God tell him to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 

Jonah didn’t want to go to Ninevah and he made a decision to turn around and head so far away from Ninevah that maybe even God wouldn’t be able to find him. He went to Joppa and found passage on a ship headed to Tarshish.

Funny thing about people that God speaks to: they can’t hide.

God “…hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.”

Sailors are, by definition or custom, a superstitious lot. When this storm blew up out of nowhere, it was soon decided that this last-minute passenger might have something to do with it. When they cast lots (fortune telling, of sorts) the lots fell on Jonah and he ended up confessing that he was a Hebrew, and was running away from God.

They were beside themselves as the storm was tremendous and they didn’t want to be responsible for his death, but they had no idea how to survive and asked Jonah how to calm the sea. He told them that nothing short of throwing him overboard would help, so they tossed him into the raging waves.

The story might have ended here. Jonah made this disaster, he ignored God’s request and blatantly went in the opposite direction. Now he’s created a colossal mess and is about to be consumed by it. Sound familiar to anyone?

But God was not done with Jonah. Yes, Jonah had ignored God’s message, but God was not giving up on him and would not forsake him, or leave him in his hour of need.

17And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah ends up in the belly of a whale (great fish) – not a great place to hang out, I imagine but safe from drowning. Eventually the fish vomits Jonah out on dry land.

This is such great imagery, and a great spiritual lesson for kids and adults! Here are a couple of the lessons we learn from this story of Jonah:

  1. When you put your foot on the spiritual path, you can’t continue doing things “business as usual” – our actions have consequences and sometimes they’re dire.
  2. We can’t hide from the Divine.

Have you ever noticed that once you begin to read and follow a spiritual path, you can’t go back to your old ways?

This same concept – this counsel to stay connected to Source, or God, appears in many wisdom texts. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that the way out of the cycle of karmic birth and death is NOT to avoid the tasks required of him (i.e. the instructions or nudges from the Divine) but to perform these duties without a selfish attachment.

Krishna knows that Arjuna can easily get caught up in his own life, and actions and begin to act out of selfish motives – which would keep him in the endless loop of the cycles of life and death.

When Arjuna asks Krishna what binds us to our selfish ways, Krishna tells him that anger and selfish desires are the greatest enemies: they are the destructive powers that can compel us to wander away from our purpose. In the same way Jonah said “Oh I don’t think so,…” when God told him to go to Ninevah and wandered away from his divine purpose.

We learn from Jonah and the Gita that following our own self-centered urges, and ignoring the voice of God has consequences. In the 21st century – especially in America – we live in a very self-focused world. Does this mean that we are all doomed?

Not quite.

This where the rest of the tale of Jonah is instructive.

Jonah defied the instructions God gave him; he ignored that Divine urge and ran in the opposite direction.

But God did not say, “Oh well, Jonah – I ask for a little help and you run off, so good luck dealing with the consequences of your actions!

Instead, God sends a great fish/whale to save Jonah from a certain death by drowning in the raging storm – a mess that he created by running away. The greatest lesson in this story is that we are not ever cut off from the Divine – even when our selfish and foolish ways should mean the end of us.

We may cause ourselves some rough seas. We may experience a close call and spend time in a really awful place,… but we are never cut off from the Divine – and there is always a way back.

In the belly of the whale, Jonah recognizes his folly and calls out to God. We are not cut off from the Divine unless we choose – Jonah chose to reconnect.

Wayne Dyer talked about that connection using the metaphor of the trolley strap in his work on the Power of Intention. He spoke of reconnecting to Source being like reaching up and grabbing onto that trolley strap.

Whether we choose to envision grabbing the trolley strap, or praying from inside the belly of a smelly, giant fish – we are well-served when we remember what Ernest Holmes taught about the voice of God.

“… Spirit is always with us, if we would but sense Its presence”  ~ Ernest Holmes

In the New Testament, Jesus told his disciples, “…lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world but there is perhaps no greater symbolism of the omnipresence of Spirit than that of the whale, or great fish that plucked Jonah from the depths of the sea.

It’s a strong story to remind us that no matter how colossal the mess we create in our lives; no matter how desperate the circumstances appear “… Spirit is always with us, if we would but sense Its presence“. 

And so it is.

(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path

Here’s the Kids Sheet – Jonah and the Whale (kids sheets) – for the story of Jonah

Elijah and the Widow

009-elijah-widowIt is always interesting to teach children about Abundance and being “provided”. Due to their innocence and unfiltered view of the world, kids are not only great teachers of spiritual Truth, but they easily grasp the concepts of spiritual lessons when we share them.

One of my favorite stories to share with children is the story of the prophet Elijah who in his travels (he was running away from angry King Ahab), came across a widow who was gathering sticks to make a fire.

He asks the widow for some food, and she tells him that she has only enough food to feed her son and herself, and that they will likely starve after that. In other words, she has just enough for their last meal.

She offers to share it with him, but he says to her:

13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” 1 Kings 17

I have written before about the relationship between giving and the abundance found in daily bread. You can read that blog here.

This simple but powerful lesson about God’s provision is another great lesson for children. It has the wonderful imagery from the Hebrew scriptures of a dry, drought-stricken land where there is no food -AND- the appearance of a seemingly-every-day miracle. One piece of the power in this lesson is that Elijah does not promise her that a giant caravan will stop by and unload enough supplies to last her through the drought. He promises her that her jar of flour and flask of oil will not run out. He promises her “daily bread“.

This is also a wonderful lesson to share when working with young children on doing Treatment for the things in their lives. Especially in our instant-gratification, 24/7 American culture, children can benefit from learning the concept of being provided with “daily bread”.

Children as young as elementary-age can also talk about what it might be like if all the stores in our neighborhoods closed and there was no food. This is what the widow and her son were facing when Elijah asks them to feed him first. What a step of faith this widow took when she used her last bit of flour and oil to feed this man of God.

Her faith is rewarded, though and she and her son survive the long drought as God promised.

The dual spiritual lessons of giving and its relationship to receiving as well as God as the source and substance of all our Good come together to create a wonderful lesson for kids of all ages.

For older kids, the teachings of Florence Scovel Shinn may be introduced as she writes extensively in an easy-to-read style about God as our Source.

As always, these Kids sheets are free to use with attribution.

(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path

The Widow and the Oil

Widow and oilIn an earlier blog I wrote about the role of our expectations in receiving our Good and shared the story of the widow whose husband had left her with so much debt that creditors were coming to take her sons as payment. She reaches out to the prophet Elisha for help in her hour of need.

At the core of this story, we find the important role of expectation in life. This is another great story to share with children as it has wonderful biblical imagery combined with an important life wisdom lesson on the importance of our expectations.

A quick recap:

Elisha asks the desperate woman what she has and she tells him – a little oil in a single flask; only enough oil to anoint herself.

Elisha tells her to go borrow as many jars from family and friends and neighbors as she can. She gathers every available empty vessel and Elisha instructs her to pour her oil into the empty containers.

She begins to pour and the little amount of oil she had flows and continues to flow until she has filled every available container.

The empty containers represent our expectations. Her supply met with her expectations.

Many people who are “glass-half-empty” personalities begin this pattern as young children. Teaching our kids to see things from the perspective of Good is the antidote to lifelong negativity. This lesson is a simple one with wonderful imagery to share and plant the seed of expectation as a way to experience more good in life.

As always, these are free to share with attribution to this site.

Peace & blessings.

(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path