Category Archives: Women’s Toolbox

Living Your Truth

Day 19 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages. 29 Days Template (17)

Today we revisit the Bhagavad Gita for inspiration.  In XII:19-19, Lord Krishna says:

He who is tranquil before friend and foe alike, and in encountering adoration and insult, and during the experiences of warmth and chill and of pleasure and suffering; who has relinquished attachment, regarding blame and praise in the same light; who is quiet and easily contented, not attached to domesticity, and of calm disposition and devotional — that person is dear to Me.”

In trying to live spiritually, we are going to encounter materially-minded people who do not understand us. Some of these people may even hate and persecute us because we don’t “fit in.”

These words from the Bhagavad Gita are exhorting us to operate from a place of inner truth. We are to follow what we know to be right, in spite of criticism.

To be “tranquil” is to be at peace within, no matter what others say or do to us. To do this we must “relinquish attachment” to our ego.  The nature of the ego makes undisciplined people uncomfortable and mean-spirited toward those who are morally or spiritually different from themselves.

This passage calls us to analyze ourselves, honestly and without egotistical bias.  If what we are living is right, we are to remain strong in our actions that produce joy, uninfluenced by either “adoration or insult.”

If what we are living is wrong, or out of alignment with our Highest Self, then we are to be grateful for the opportunity to correct ourselves in order to remove any obstacles from our path of happiness.

Even unjust criticism becomes a tool that fortifies us to follow the ways of inner peace.  It enthuses us even more.

It should be considered no great loss when those who don’t understand us suddenly shun us.  Instead, this ostracism becomes a blessing because it keeps us away from their negative influence, and it opens up the door for like-minded people to find their way to us and us to them.

To be strong in the face of such opposition, the spiritually dedicated are to be “of calm disposition and devotional,” meaning we are to approach situations with a levelheadedness, devoid of ego, and we are to cultivate divine habits to which we must adhere.  We are not to simply find time, but to make time for honoring Source in the peace of meditation and other spiritual practices. Such practices will grant us the wisdom and guidance by which we are to conduct ourselves.

Living the spiritual life is going to separate us from the worldly crowd and all of its influences.  Will there be temptation?  Of course.  Many will try to get us to veer off of our path, and when we don’t, we will more than likely face their non-understanding, insults, and wrath.  In knowing who we are and what our truth is, we need not be fazed by such antics of the ego.

This is not to say that we are better than or spiritually superior to others.  We’re not.  They are our brothers and sisters; they can accept us, follow our example, or simply fade harmoniously away when they realize they can not shake us from our Truth.

To live the spiritual life is to live our truth from the inside out, not the outside in.  It’s not about flattering the ego; it’s about flattening it.  When we approach life from this perspective, and when we hold fast to our truth, we live more authentically, no matter what anyone says.

When we encounter those who take issue with us because of our chosen path, we know that they come from a place of attachment, of ego, and we can move past their invectives because they know not what they do.

Journey to Jedi-hood

Day 18 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages. 29 Days Template (16)

Today’s simple, yet powerful message comes from the blockbuster movie Star Wars, as young Luke Skywalker prepares himself for Jedi-hood.

Luke: I can’t believe it.  Yoda: That is why you fail.“

Luke, in his journey, trains intensively with his guru Yoda. At first, he is awkward, clumsy, and unfocused.

But as he continues his practice, he grows into a powerful warrior.

In the midst of his training, Luke struggles to grasp the whole Jedi-Use-The-Force thing.

Yoda sets him straight when the ancient master points out that Luke’s thinking is his main stumbling block.

Luke stands in his own way.

How many times have we stood in the way of our own greatness?

The saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” comes to mind.  This is a very limiting view.  It implies a serious lack of trust with a large dose of cynicism.

The fact that Luke says, “I can’t,” means that he won’t.  Not without a complete change in perspective.

When we tell ourselves that we can’t, we immediately set up inner roadblocks.  Then we wonder why we fail.  We have trained our brains to see obstacles instead of possibilities.

Look around at your surroundings.  Everything in your line of vision did not exist at one time. Someone had a vision of it.  Someone believed it could be created.  Someone worked at bringing it into existence.  Someone visualized it in the mind’s eye first, then gave it life.

Luke’s problem is that he doesn’t see himself as a creator.  He limits himself because of his limited thinking, preventing him from progressing.  He doesn’t see himself as a Jedi.  Yoda not only supplies Luke with the physical training necessary to be a Jedi, but he provides vital mental and spiritual exercise as well. These are not separate, but one.

yoda

Courtesy Google Images

When we step into Jedi mode, we step into a whole new identity.  Our separate selves unite into one Self.

Yoda’s appraisal of Luke points to the young man’s lack of trust in an Unknown Force.  He is told repeatedly to “Use the Force.”  Luke’s scattered thinking scatters his energies.  As he learns to focus and channel his energies, he advances in his training.

If we are to progress, we must trust the Unknown Force in our lives.  We may not know how it works, nor are we to concern ourselves with the how. This requires a letting-go of old, out-dated thinking that no longer serves us in our new identity.

What is interesting about the phrase “Use the Force” is that not only must Luke trust it, but he must use it.  Yoda speaks in the imperative here, directing Luke to trust and apply.

In our own spiritual training, using the Force in our lives means directly applying it.  It means taking action. Even more so, it denotes taking responsibility for that action.  This puts us at the helm of the control panel. It is there for us to use, and we can steer in any direction we so choose, but we must do so wisely.

The journey to Jedi-hood is an evolution.  When we realize that we are responsible for creating what happens in our lives, we realize the power we have within us to change things for better or for worse. We come to understand that life doesn’t happen to us, but that we make our lives happen.  We focus our energies on what we want, not on what we do not want.

Our entire worldview transforms as we align with the Force.  And fail we will not.

Stretch Your Thinking

Our inspiration for today comes from Confucius, the Chinese philosopher who lived between 551 BCE – 479 BCE.

Even when walking in the company of two other men, I am bound to be able to learn from them. The good points of the one I copy; the bad points of the other I correct in myself.”

According to Confucius, it is important for us to stretch our thinking. When we do, we learn.

If one learns from others but does not think, one will be continually confused.

If one thinks but refuses to learn from others, then one will remain narrow-minded and in ignorance.

But if we open ourselves to what others have to teach us, we become more well-rounded in our thinking. Some teachings will resonate with us; some may not. Some we will want to apply to our lives; some we won’t. Either way, whether we agree or disagree, we are to respect the process and one another.

Learning can happen in any moment from any source. For Confucius, learning occurs “even when walking in the company of two other men.” Whatever is present in our reality at that particular moment can serve as a teacher when we open ourselves up to the experience.

Learning doesn’t have to take place in a formal setting like a school or a university; it can happen in the most common of places. Teaching doesn’t have to come from professors; it can come from the common man, woman, child, animal, place, or thing.

When we choose to become students in the open classroom of life, we find ourselves “bound to be able to learn” from life’s teachers, whoever and whatever those teachers may be. Our learning will be much more meaningful when we acknowledge that life sends many kinds of teachers.

Our teachers ultimately lead us to ourselves. They reflect who we are. When we see the “good points,” we will want to emulate them, copying them into the script of our lives. However, when we see the “bad points,” we are to “correct them” within ourselves.  We don’t necessarily erase them from our lives, but we work to transform them as part of our learning.

If we are to learn anything, we must be in a state of readiness.

As the adage goes, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Watch Your Mouth

Day 14 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today’s inspiration comes from the Fourth Buddhist Precept from the Pali Canon, the first Buddhist scriptures (the Pali language is a variation of Sanskrit).

It is written as Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami, which translated means “I vow (or undertake) to refrain from incorrect speech.”

We are to be “impeccable” with our speech, as don Miguel Ruiz instructs us in his best-selling book The Four Agreements.

In the Buddhist tradition, the Fourth Precept is described as refraining from four particular actions: (1) being untruthful, (2) exaggerating, (3) divisive speech, and (4) insulting language.

Incorrect speech is destructive.

While this precept is not a rule to which we must adhere like the Abrahamic/Mosaic ten commandments, it is a personal commitment we make to ourselves when we choose to follow a spiritual path. We find versions of this precept in many, if not all, wisdom traditions.

This precept tells us not to lie and not to say things that destroy relationships and friendships. Instead, we are to use “right speech,” as Buddha calls it, speaking truthfully and honestly, and speaking words that promote goodwill, not harm.

Can we disagree or criticize? Sure, as long as our words are respectful of others’ differing views or offer constructive criticism that will help another to improve.

In Buddhism, false speech is rooted in hate, greed, and ignorance, known as the Three Poisons. If your speech is to discredit or assassinate the character of someone you don’t like, to get something that you want at the expense of others, or to lie about your status to win the adoration of others, then you are breaking this promise not only to yourself, but also to your Higher Self.

To practice “right speech,” we are to be mindful of our speech at all times. We are to think about what we say before we say it. Is it going to help, edify, or exhort? Or is it going to harm, insult, or abuse?

We need to examine our own motivations for our speech. Is our speech stemming from the three poisons? Or is it coming from a place of love and compassion? What is your intent?

Note the word “refrain.” The precept doesn’t tell us we have to absolutely stop. We are human; we can’t, but that is no excuse for not trying. The more mindful we are of our speech, the better we get at watching what comes out of our mouths.

When we vow to refrain from incorrect speech, we vow to cultivate wholesome, loving speech in order to bring joy and happiness to others. We vow to relieve others of their suffering. We vow to speak truthfully, using words that inspire others.

This precept is not a directive. It’s not a commandment. But it is a spiritual practice that enables enlightenment. When we are mindful of our words, it helps us, our families, our relationships, and our community.

Blessings.

Mouth to Mouth

Day 13 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today’s passage comes from The Gospel of Thomas, which predates any of the New Testament gospels by some twenty years. The Gospel of Thomas is part of the Nag Hammadi collection, sources discovered in Upper Egypt in 1945 and not endorsed by clerical authorities. In fact, these ancient texts were taken from the library of the earliest Christian monastery in Egypt and hidden after the archbishop of Alexandria ordered the monks to destroy all books he deemed “heretical.”

In this gospel, Jesus speaks directly to Thomas and says:

Whosoever drinks from my mouth will become as I am; and I will become that person; and the mysteries will be revealed to him.”

Wow.

This doesn’t sound like the Jesus presented in the canonized version of the Christian bible.

A different sense of communion emerges from this line of text. Rather than eating a wafer or a piece of bread, rather than drinking from a bejeweled chalice, we are told that drinking from the mouth of Jesus makes us one with him and makes him one with us. Of course this is not literal but symbolic.

This is a much more personalized approach to knowing and communing with Spirit. This is more than mouth to mouth. This is Being to Being, Essence to Essence, Spirit to Spirit. Jesus is merely a receptacle, a cistern, pouring forth the Divine from an endless place within himself to a place deep within us, awakening (resurrecting?) the Divine in us.

As we drink, we become.

It’s no wonder clerical authorities deemed such texts heretical. This takes all the power away from them and places it directly on us.

This gospel is attributed to “Thomas the twin.” In Hebrew literature, the name Thomas means “twin.” This does not mean that Jesus had a twin brother. Again, this is a symbolic reference.

Page from Gospel of Thomas

When we partake of the Living Waters of the Spirit from the teachings of Jesus, what we are being offered is access to God right then and there without having to depend on outside authorities telling us what to do and how to do it. Instead, drinking from the mouth, from the Inner Fountain contained within Jesus, we discover at a deep level that we are indeed Jesus’ “twin.” We become the spiritual twin of Jesus.

This puts us on the same level as Jesus, toe to toe, eye to eye, mouth to mouth. We can choose to drink from the same Source from which Jesus himself drinks, or not. He offers us the choice. And should we take him up on his offer, he claims “the mysteries will be revealed to [us].” As we learn to live with our new identity, Source will reveal its wisdom to us as we continue to drink from it. It will teach us and guide us in the same ways it has taught and guided our twin, Jesus.

Blessings.

Getting Back To Good

Day 12 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today’s passage comes from the sacred Hindu Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, literally “the song of the Lord.”

In this passage, the Lord Krishna declares:

Whenever virtue declines and vice predominates, I incarnate as an Avatar. In visible form I appear from age to age to protect the virtuous and to destroy evildoing in order to reestablish righteousness.

The text is presented in the form of a dialogue between the avatar Lord Krishna and his disciple Arjuna on the eve of the historic battle of Kurukshetra. There’s a sense of ease and comfort that comes through Krishna’s words as he converses with Arjuna, even as they face an impending battle. It’s as if Krishna is saying, “Whenever something pivotal is about to happen, I will be there to intervene.” In this case, vice is winning over virtue; the bad is outweighing the good. Krishna sees the selfishness and the misdirection of his people and knows his time has come to step-in to right the situation.

What’s interesting is his comment, “I incarnate as an Avatar.” The word “Avatar” comes from the Sanskrit avatara, with roots ava, “down,” and tri, “to pass.” Avatars are those who have attained union with Spirit and then return to earth to help mankind; they are divine incarnations on a special mission. They come to pass down something to us.

What’s even more interesting is that the Lord says that “in visible form,” he “appear[s] from age to age.” This implies that he has incarnated more than once, and he will continue to incarnate “whenever virtue declines and vice predominates.” This seems to indicate that not only does he come in visible form, but he is with us in an invisible form as well. When in invisible form, he is in a state of potentiality that is waiting to be expressed or incarnated. He has always been and will always be, no matter what form he takes, visible or invisible.

Also, the Avatar doesn’t incarnate in the same visible form (“I incarnate as an Avatar,” not the Avatar), but in many, and each of these physical forms contained or contains the same God-Mind, the same Infinite Intelligence, throughout the ages. It’s this God-Mind that is passed down from Avatar to Avatar to us. It also implies that we humans will somehow be able to recognize these Avatars when they do incarnate. We are not a totally lost people after all. We just need some redirection from time to time, and the Avatars who show up, show up for a very specific reason.

The Lord then shares his reason for incarnating when he tells his disciple that he comes “to protect the virtuous and to destroy evildoing in order to reestablish righteousness.” He comes to save us from ourselves, especially when our vices are overtaking our virtues. There is a battle within us; it’s the battle between our good and bad tendencies.

Sometimes our thinking gets so flawed that we take it out on ourselves and on one other. We inflict pain and hurt, we commit crimes, we start wars, we cause suffering because we have lost our mind — our God-Mind — and we need to be Re-Minded. The Avatar comes to destroy “evildoing,” not evildoers, but the wrongful thinking that leads to doing harm; the Avatar comes to “reestablish” —  to reconnect and reunite us — to our rightful mind, the God-Mind that is ours, too.

Human nature is what it is. We are a forgetful people who tend to do horrible things when we disconnect from the God-Mind. Avatars are Spirit’s Emissaries sent to remind us to renew our minds, to renew our thinking, to the Mind of God, the Universal and Infinite Intelligence. Without this intercession of God’s love come to earth in the example and form of Avatars, we would be lost in a world of delusion and illusion. Avatars (Krishna, Buddha, Jesus…) from age to age have come and continue to come as guides who open access to spiritual understanding.

They get us back to good.

Blessings.

One With The All

Day 11 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today’s passage comes from a Gnostic text from the Nag Hammadi Library collection that was discovered in a cave in Egypt in 1945. This excerpt comes from The Thunder: Perfect Mind. This text is part of the literature that was excluded from the canon of the bible as we know it today.

Hear me, you that hear
   and listen to my words, you who know me.
I am the hearing that can be acquired everywhere,
   and I am the speech that cannot be grasped.
I am the name of the sound
   and the sound of the name.
For what is inside of you is what is outside of you,
   and the one who fashioned you on the outside
   is the one who shaped the inside of you.
And what you see outside of you, you see inside of you;
   it is visible and it is your garment.

We start with the imperative, “Hear me,” a directive for us to listen, to pay attention, to someone’s words, someone whom we know and who knows us very well. The speaker wants our attention and has gotten it.

But then we are hit with some cryptic phrases that evoke a sense of mystery and leave us scratching our intellectual heads. These words, from wherever it is they come, come from a place of mystery, a place that cannot be explored intellectually. The Voice in this passage begins in mystery and is a mystery.

Such is the language and wisdom of Spirit, especially when it says, “I am the hearing that can be acquired everywhere, and I am the speech that cannot be grasped.” How many times do we perceive the sound of words, but do not understand what they mean for our lives? Words sometimes go in one ear and out the other, and when we are not mindful we miss the message. But if we are to grasp the importance of words, we need to open ourselves up to all that is present in our lives.

The Voice makes a big distinction between listening with the head and listening with the heart. We have to open the ears of our heart to fully understand what this message is.

Then we get thrown another cryptic line that says, “I am the name of the sound and the sound of the name.” There cannot be a name without the sound of a name. The name of the sound is the perception (or thought) of the sound while the sound of the name validates and expresses the name, giving it its existence. Spirit speaks to us in silence and we are to listen in that silence before we give it voice. This implies that we must be very careful and ever mindful with what we think and say.

Then we are given a statement of assertion, “For what is inside of you is what is outside of you, and the one who fashioned you on the outside is the one who shaped the inside of you.” Here we are told that we are not separate from what is outside of us. What we see is shaped by what we are. As we interact with the visible world, we do so through specific lenses. Our outer life and our inner life are reflections of one another.

At the end of the passage, the Voice continues, “And what you see outside of you, you see inside of you; it is visible and it is your garment.” Again, it is established that we are not to separate ourselves from what is outside of us. That which has created our inner world has created the outer world and what is outside of us is also inside. We are to clothe ourselves with such knowledge and wisdom.

This is a message of unity, oneness, and harmony. We are not separate from the Universe, nor is it separate from us. As above, so below. The Universe exists within and without. We discover that we move in rhythm with the Universe because we are the Universe and the Universe is us.

Blessings.

Say Yes to Your No

Day 10 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today’s little gem of a passage comes from Mahatma Gandhi.

Let’s see what shiny shards of wisdom we can gather for our spiritual growth.

A ‘No’ uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.”

How many times have we said yes when we really meant no?
If we can’t say no and mean it, then we can’t say yes and mean it. 
No conviction on one end means no conviction on the other.
All too often, people give in to the requests or demands of others at the expense of their own happiness or sanity. 
Why?
They say yes as a way to minimize friction, avoid fights, or because it’s just too hard to speak up. 
Saying no can be very difficult, especially for those who want to be all things to all people. Saying no puts them at risk for disapproval. 
Learning the power of the word no is about making healthy, conscious, deliberate choices. Saying yes when we mean no means we are out of alignment with ourselves, with our passion, and with our Source.
When we learn to say no to the things that don’t serve us, then we create the space to say yes to the things that truly matter to us.
What makes it difficult at first is that it forces us into the position to decide. It forces us to consciously choose, and this scares the hell out of some people. What if we choose and it doesn’t work? 
But what if it does?

Courtesy Google Images

Saying no when we mean no is about reclaiming our power. As we say yes to meet someone else’s requests or demands when our hearts are screaming no, we give up our power to that person. Each yes to that person is a no to us. This opens the door to anguish, anger, resentment or total submission, and we lose our self-respect. 

Saying no when we mean no is about honoring ourselves. We have needs, too. We have dreams and desires, and we deserve to get what we want, but if we are too busy meeting the demands of others without proper boundaries, we are the ones who lose out. 
Consider these questions before you give an automatic yes:
Am I feeling in alignment with this?
Is this what I really want?
Do I feel passionate about this?
Why am I about to say yes when I really mean no?
Saying yes to your no will give your life back to you.

Blessings.

Wise Up

Day 9 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.
Today’s message comes from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear.“

These five simple sentences are packed with truth. Let’s unpack it.
Notice the authority in which HWL speaks to us. He speaks in the imperative. His words command us to “look,” to “improve,” and to “go.” This is the voice of confidence, of experience, of knowing. And the words ring true deep within us. We know this, too, but how many of us remain in the past, glorifying or romanticizing “the good old days”? 
Staying stuck in the past robs us of the present. It smacks of a fear to move forward.
Sure, there were some good times, maybe some better times, and some bad times, but as HWL says, “It comes not back again.” In other words, let the past go because there are bigger and better things coming our way, but they can’t and won’t come to us when we continue holding on to the past. If we are too busy allowing the past to define who we are, how can we ever build a future?
To “look mournfully into the past” is a sad and lowly vibration that does nothing to elevate us; instead, it drags us down by the neck, chaining us to our illusions, where we will forever be haunted. Can we learn from our past? Absolutely. But once we learn the lessons, we must move on so that we can “wisely improve the present.”
Note that HWL doesn’t say to simply improve the present, but to “wisely improve the present.” Big difference. To improve “wisely” means that we must take action, but not just any action. We are to be selective in our choices. We are to be educated in our choices. We are to make choices that will serve the highest good, not just for us, but for all. 
This may take some hard work as well as some heart work to bring about positive change. There is no time like the present because “it is thine;” the present is all we have, so let’s use it wisely in order to “go forth” to our future, no matter how uncertain it appears.
Courtesy Google Images
Even though the future is “shadowy,” HWL tells us to meet it “without fear.” We can’t predict the future, and this scares many people because the future is the one thing over which we have no control. We can either fear it or embrace it. 
Our preparation in the NOW is what will help or hurt our future. This goes back to wisely improving our present. Our choices in the here and now will pave the way for what is to come. If we prepare in fear, we live in fear. If we prepare in faith, we live in faith. When we accept that the future is unpredictable, we can move forward without any fear because we will have prepared ourselves wisely through our personal and spiritual practices. 
As we live in the present, in the here and now, the future will take care of itself. 
Blessings.

Stripping Down

Day 8 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today’s spiritual message springs forth from an excerpt found in the book Stripping Down by United Church of Christ minister Donna Schaper. Here, she discovers truths about herself while refinishing a chair.

So, let’s sit up straight in our seats and strip this passage down for some meaning.

“The first thing people do when restoring old chairs is to strip–strip right down to the bare wood. They do this to see what the original might have looked like and to determine if the thing is worth doing over. They strip away all the years of grime, the garish coats of paint piled one on top of the other. They get rid of all the junk that’s been tacked on through the years and try to find the solid, simple thing that’s underneath.”

We are like these old chairs in need of that stripping process.

The old chair that we see is not the simple, original chair that it once was. Over the years, the original slowly disappeared under the “years of grime” and the “garish coats of paint piled one on top of the other,” heaped on us by culture, media and advertising, authorities, family and friends, and more.

How did we let this happen? Why didn’t we see this happening? And how do we “get rid of all the junk that’s been tacked on” throughout our lives?

It’s gonna take some elbow grease.

Some of those areas will need more elbow grease than others.

But either way, when we make a commitment to our spiritual and personal growth, we must be willing to strip ourselves down to our core, that “bare wood” to get back to our natural, original beauty.

We didn’t see this happening to us because we didn’t know any better. We learned what everyone else before us had learned and had passed down to us. We accepted it as “truth.” We didn’t question it. Because we didn’t question it, it piled on. And we allowed it to pile on because of our ignorance.

But not knowing any better is not an excuse.

When we realize that we have always had the power of choice and that we are responsible for what happens in our lives, we remove the initial layer of “grime.”  We begin to take a long hard look at what has built up in ourselves. We see what we have gotten ourselves into.

We come to see that all of those so-called “truths” are really illusions to keep us in our places. So, we strip, and we strip some more. Sometimes it’s downright painful, but we keep doing it because we now “know” what lies beneath. We remember our purity, our beauty, our naturalness, our divinity in all of its originality.

This stripping down is an intentional letting go. It becomes an act of love and worship. The illusions fade away as we strip through the layers of anger, disappointments, cynicism, or pain — all the junk — until we can finally forgive ourselves for what we have done to our Sacred Center.

And that’s when God says, “Welcome home, my Beloved. Come sit with me now.”

Blessings.