I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can…

We each remember the story of The Little Engine That Could, that we first read as children and then some of us read it to our children (and some even grandchildren) with the not-so-very hidden message that no matter what the obstacle, if I think I can overcome it then I will put my muscle and mind into it and I will succeed. We tell ourselves and our children this story, and it is a true story.

Holmes tells us this again and again. It is one of the main operating principles in the Science of Mind. “Law of Life is a law of thought — an activity of consciousness — the Power flows through us. The Spirit can do for us only what it can do through us. Unless we are able to provide the consciousness, It cannot make the gift. The Power behind all things is without limit, but in working for us it must work through us.” (SOM 141.2)

The way I read these words, and ponder that dear old childhood story is that I recognize that I choose what and how I wish to experience my life. We all do, whether we know it or not.

Patanjali said, “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

I’m going for an ever yet greater, more expanding, joy-filled life … and I ‘think’ I can. How about you?

–Janis

Graves’ First Law: “Use It All”

Driving home after potluck today and pondering all I had heard during services this morning, I reflected on a comment that Rev Donald made during his talk. Graves First Law: Use It All. That would have to include the good, the bad and the very ugly. The good is pretty easy, unless you are like my stepdad who doesn’t think he deserves a fabulous life. He does, but he has to own that realization, and since he doesn’t, it is done unto him as he believes and his life is less than wonderful.

The bad and the ugly take a bit more work. So let’s see what I can do with this. The other morning I woke up with an intensely sharp pain in both my right wrist and my right ankle and I knew I hadn’t done anything particularly physical that would have created that specific effect, so I got really quiet and asked the question “What’s this about?” The almost instantaneous response was that I was feeling severely limited in my movement and my choices. That’s what was manifesting in my physiology. Once I named and owned the feeling, the physical sensations disappeared within moments and have not returned. It didn’t have to be a big, gut-wrenching deal; it was as simple as a change of heart-mind. If there’s no baggage or history that needs to be shifted or cleared (that has more stamina than the present awareness), then it really can be that simple.

What about the very ugly? What about someone misrepresenting me and disrespecting me to others? That’s pretty ugly. And it happens. What then? Well, obviously to tell the truth and clear the air, cleaning up the mess as best I can without thrashing or trashing the other, because that doesn’t serve either. But then what? Forgiveness? Oh, that. If I carry around and magnify a hurt, then I’m the one hurting myself. The other isn’t hurting me, though they must be hurting pretty bad to do and say those things about me. To forgive another who seems to have wronged me can take a good bit more prayer and journaling work on my part, because there’s a part of me that would like to have a gigantic pity-party and play victim. The Adult of God in me, as me, knows that I’m never a victim. I’ve chosen to participate in this game for some unknown reason and I may never know exactly why. And that doesn’t matter either.

Taking the very ugly further, Rev Donald clarified his First Law by adding, “It’s all there for our good, so use it. It’s either there for our awakening, or for our joy.” Rev Donald suggests another possibility: “Look for the gift in it.” Finding the gift in misrepresentation and/or disrespect takes me even deeper, to see what I’m calling to myself, furthering my journey along my path of awakening and expansion. Maybe it’s to recognize that I have an old belief that I need to be punished. Perhaps I just need to further clarify my boundaries in my interactions with others.

That’s my take on the idea. What’s yours?

— Janis

Being in Peace

Today’s posting was written by a friend of mine, who captured a sentiment I desire for us all. Enjoy! And be in Peace…Rev Donald

I had an experience this week that was both remarkable and rare, at least for me.

I was at peace.

I was driving around the town where I live, a place I have grown to love as if it were another member of my family, my window was down and the bright sun was shining on my arm, and I thought to myself, that I had nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to achieve, no unmet dragons to slay or damsels to save, and for that moment and several moments after, I was at peace.

Now I know that peace is a difficult state of mind to cultivate. God knows I’ve tried my whole life either to find it, or keep it when it comes. But here it was, almost the antithesis of my personal mission, which is to do something remarkable with my life; to attain the impossible, and win the prize at the end.

And so I began to look into what allowed these few moments of peace. And this is what I found:

Peace is who I am – I am not the gerbil on the treadmill. I am free.

Peace is not a destination – It doesn’t come because you’ve been good, or because you’ve finally arrived. It comes with the realization that letting go is more fun than holding on.

Peace comes when you stop looking for it – You can look all you want, but eventually you come back to the moment you’re in, and the sheer joy of being alive and aware of it.

Peace is not a weapon, a political ideology, or a reason to leave – There are some things in life that are just fine as they are, with no need to label, change, or improve them. Peace is like that.

Peace is available when wanting ends – Nothing needs to be added or taken away, for me to be happy and at peace, right now.

If peace is the light that enters the room of my mind, then that room is brighter today. I can see more opportunities when I look out my windows, and I’m more willing to risk, that it might disappear, or even be greater than I ever imagined it could be.

My wish for you is to be at peace.

– Michael Davis

Sunday, 3:11am – Shut Up and Drive

In the wee hours this morning I was reflecting on a conversation with a friend when I blurted out “Shut up and Drive”. It wasn’t intended to be offensive. I wasn’t even intending to say it. I thought the quote “Shut up and Drive” was from the movie ‘Thelma and Louise’. It isn’t. It’s the title of two very, very, very different songs, neither of which I ever remember hearing. I feel like somehow we are each being sandpapered and polished to do *great works* that only we can do. And only we can each do them. I don’t like that thought and yet, at the same time on some level, I feel like its time. And it’s right.

It sounds incredibly big-headed, too big for my britches and some part of me just wants to shrink over to the corner and vanish into the wallboard instead of doing *this thing*, whatever it is. There are times that I feel that Marianne Williamson quote (about being frightened of our own light, our own brilliance) taunting me, chasing me down the street, pointing and laughing. I don’t like it at all and I’d just as soon go iron a shirt, clean a toilet, or something incredibly, routinely and safely, mundane.

And yet…

One Sunday morning some years ago, I spoke at a Spiritualist Church in Houston. A friend had asked me to speak on the Harmonic Concordance and I said, “Sure, why not?” I didn’t even know what it was, but I figured I could pull stuff together. I had taught 7th grade earth science for two years, I could certainly do this. So I started reading and studying and thinking and gathering information and nothing, absolutely nothing would come together. There was no flow, no form, and no sense. As the date got closer, I intensified my striving. Finally the weekend of the talk rolled around and I still had nothing but jumbled words and I was beginning to really sweat over it. The night before the Sunday morning talk, I had only the barest hint of anything and I felt like it was garbage. The morning of the talk, I cobbled together some things, disjointed but adequate and I went and did the talk. I was only relieved when it was over.

And then, being a Spiritualist Church (a completely unknown commodity to me), the host, my friend, asked if anyone had received any messages for anyone else. Several people stood and delivered messages. I became fascinated, completely curious, about what I was observing. Then this diminutive man in this three-piece brown polyester double-knit suit stood up with a message for me, the speaker. So i stood up, as I had seen others do and he said something to the effect of, “You had three angels standing with you when you spoke; the biggest guardian angel I have ever seen, a scruffy drunk Irishman angel and a little blue haired fairy angel. The Irishman angel was shaking his head sadly and said something like, ‘she’s never going to just trust and speak, that she will always have the words she needs.'” I sat down dumbfounded and wrote his words down precisely. I still have the feeling in my body. Holy cow. I heard that challenge, and responded. Never again did I massively prepare a talk – even technical ones. I’d do the charts and graphs and the ubiquitous Powerpoint slides, so I could show people what I had seen, but I never, ever wrote another talk. And it has always worked.

Two owls are hooting outside with each other at this moment. The cadence: one-and-two, three four … who are you not to be? As soon as I write these words, they stop talking to me. This feels like a similar challenge and I don’t know presently where it is headed. With a knot in my stomach, I say ‘yes’.

You?

— Janis

To Desert the Truth…

Saturday, I dumped a 24 oz cup of scalding hot tea over my hand and down the front of my sweater and pants leg in a coffee shop. It may have splashed on my sandaled, essentially bare feet, or not. I don’t know. The table had wobbled when I set this cup down and the whole cup went over. My first thought was “What??” My second thought was “No.” People around me started reacting, panicking, certain that I had gotten burned. Ummm, no. My pants legs were quite cool, almost chilled. My knuckles were stinging a bit. I looked at them and mentally said ‘No”. It was as if they said ‘Oh, OK.” and they calmed down. There was quite the commotion, and I went up to the counter and told the barista that they needed to remove that table from service because it was dangerous. I got replacement cup of hot tea, and I burned my tongue when I took a sip.

One of my friends tells about one morning when she woke up the muscles in her back seemed to have gone into spasm and seized up. She could hardly walk. She fainted, and when she returned to her senses, she was lying on the floor. When she came to, she was scared and asked the Divine what she should do. She heard, clear as day, ‘to desert the truth in the hour of need is to prove that we do not know the truth.’ (SOM 282.4) Oh that. So she started praying, not in a begging or beseeching or fearful way, but knowing that all was truly well and that she was actually OK. It only took one prayer, said with certainty and conviction. Within 20 minutes or so, she could get up off the floor and walk relatively unencumbered to the kitchen. She had a bruise on her chin from where she hit the floor.

I used to firewalk several times a year. The only time I got burned was the first time I walked, only on the pads of my toes, corresponding to the reflexology points for sinus congestion. My toe pads blistered up slightly, were totally back to normal within 12 hours with no medicinal care on my part (besides washing the dirt and ash off them) and my sinuses stayed totally clear for about six weeks. When I pondered this, I determined that it happened for three reasons. First, so that I would actually believe I had walked on fire; second, so that I would actually believe that the acupressure or reflexology points really were what I thought they were and did what I thought they did, and third, to recognize that I really did have that much control over my reality.

Why would I tell of these events? It isn’t to assert that my friend and I are in any way, remotely, special. It is to point out that we are each and all actually infinitely more capable and responsible for how we handle what happens in our lives, and what we create in our lives, than any of us are actually willing to concede.

Why is that, I wonder?

– Janis Farmer

Enemy or Opportunity?

Vernon Howard wrote,

We lose enemies when no longer having a false need for them.

WOW! What a powerful and accountable viewpoint.

We lose enemies to our self-expression, or threats to our person, or the experience of other people resisting our life expression, when we no longer have a false need for their behaviors or stimulae. I interpret this as “No one is against us and every thing and every one is FOR us. Or, at the very least, these things are there for our benefit.”

In example, when we have eliminated our doubt or uncertainty about some aspect of our life, when we are clear about the life we want, people don’t challenge us about that which we were doubting. It never even occurs to them. They doubt us because we get them to.

Every thing and every one in our life gives us feedback or information about our OWN point of view.

Everything and everyone helps us to awaken and to see where we are “on the map” in our life. This is tremendously good news! With this viewpoint we can experience every aspect of our life as a blessing. We can experience every person and every event as a gift we have given ourselves to awaken to how we are defining and interpreting our life. With this information, if we like the outcome, we can reinforce our point of view. And if we don’t like the outcome, we can change our point of view. The liberation potential is HUGE!

If may be hard at times to keep this point of view, when we get fired or divorced or experience illness or injury or financial crisis. However, if we can look at these events as supportive of our awakening, then maybe, just maybe, we can learn something about ourselves and can move into the experience FROM power and awareness, FROM the possibility of betterment.

It has been said many times and ways: “Whatever you focus on expands in life.” Well, there you have it!

Would focusing on how awful it is help to create an experience of possibility, or would it create an experience of victim-hood and potential despair?

When we look for possibilities and potential in a situation, we feel like we are more in the driver’s seat than when we feel at the effect of the same situation. And by definition, we can also see more possibilities and potential when we look FROM that point of view. It’s hard to see wildflowers while focusing on the thickness of the forest.

If you find an enemy in your life, give up the false need for that enemy and see what you might create from the situation.

Best Blessings,
Rev. Donald

Stone Soup & Letting Loose

There are many variations on the story of Stone Soup, but they all involve a traveler coming into a town beset by famine.

The inhabitants try to discourage the traveler from staying, fearing that he wants them to give him food. They tell him in no uncertain terms that there is no food anywhere to be found. The traveler explains that he doesn’t need any food and that, in fact, he was planning to make a soup to share with all of them. The villagers watch suspiciously, as he builds a fire and fills a cauldron with water. With great ceremony, he pulls a stone from a bag and drops the stone into the pot of water. He sniffs the brew extravagantly and exclaims how delicious stone soup is. As the villagers begin to show interest, he mentions how good the soup would be with just a little cabbage in it. A villager brings out a cabbage to add to the soup. This episode repeats itself until the soup has cabbage, carrots, onions, and beets; indeed, a substantial soup that feeds everyone in the village.

This story addresses the human tendency to hoard, especially in times of deprivation. When resources are scarce, we pull back and put all of our energy into self-preservation. We isolate ourselves and shut out others. It’s a biological reality, too. Individual cells in the body can either preserve or expand. However, the cell uses all of its resources to do one or the other. It can’t do both.

As individuals, we are more than a single cell of the body. Metaphorically, we are individual cells of a community, yet much more complex, with many more resources available.

Several experiments have proven that we actually change the composition of the cells in our body by thinking differently. By focusing on certain thoughts and feeling certain feelings, we change our body’s chemistry and the environment around the cell. We create the environment for the cell in which it makes its choices. As far as biologists can tell, the cell reacts to its environment, and it changes according to its survival requirements. We have choice, indeed many choices, and in our choosing, we create the environment in which our cells “choose” to survive. We choose our reactions to a world we have created. This is a closed-loop system in which we live, move and have being, and in which we choose how we will live, move and have our being.

“Stone Soup & Letting Loose” is not about survival. It’s about thrival. It’s about claiming the bounty we are made from and live in, the bounty of choice. It is about making choices from the awareness that abundance is our nature, and that Good fills our world.

The Stone Soup story reveals that by focusing on deprivation and lack, we deprive ourselves, and often everyone else, of a feast. This metaphor plays out beyond the realm of food. We hoard ideas, love and energy, thinking we will be richer if we keep them to ourselves, when in truth we make the world and ourselves poorer whenever we greedily stockpile our reserves. The traveler was able to perceive that the villagers were holding back, and he had the genius to draw them out and inspire them to give, thus creating a celebratory spread that none of them could, or in their state of mind, would have created alone.

Are you like one of the villagers, holding back in your world? Come forward and share your gifts. You will inspire others to do the same, and the reward is a banquet that will nourish many.

BestBlessings,
Rev Donald

Is it Really Intuition -vs- Reasoning?

There was a post on Yahoo News (from LiveScience.com) this week called “Belief in God Boils Down to a Gut Feeling” by Stephanie Pappas. She reported on a study that suggested a link between thinking styles and the likelihood that someone would believe in a benevolent deity. The study authors noted that those who operated on intuition were more likely to believe than those who operated more on a reasoning or reflective basis.

From the on-line article: “The researchers plan to investigate how genes and education influence thinking styles, but they’re quick to note that neither intuition nor reflection is inherently superior. ‘It’s not that one way is better than the other,’ study researcher David Rand of Harvard said in a statement. ‘Intuitions are important and reflection is important, and you want some balance of the two. Where you are on that spectrum affects how you come out in terms of belief in God.’ The research was published Sept. 19 online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.”

This article was of interest to me personally because I have been experiencing a shift from reflective to intuitive for the past several years, and concurrent with this my belief in Spirit has moved from questioning to a sense of profound knowing.
I experienced two incidents just yesterday that confirmed the power of intuition in my life. In one case, I realized that I needed to check with my boss about the sponsorship of a community event that we had discussed several weeks ago. I had not yet acted on this thought when, a few minutes later, my boss came into my office with the executive director of the organization that is hosting the event. They had been in his office discussing the sponsorship, and then they came to tell me what had been decided. In the second case, I had been thinking that it would be nice to get together for dinner this weekend with some friends we hadn’t seen for a few weeks. A few hours later, Don called to say that these friends had contacted him about getting together, and we made plans accordingly.

by Karen Chatfield

What has your experience been?

The Night Sky

I was awake this morning a little after four. At first that disturbed me a little, until I checked in and realized that not only had I had six and a half hours of deep, sound high-quality sleep, I also felt quite rested and refreshed, so I got up. And once up, I decided to go outside and look at the night sky. I have always felt a kinship with the starry night, perhaps it was all those evenings of walking our family dog when I was growing up and we lived on an army base in Germany.

This morning the moon had just set; the swath of sky immediately above my head was brilliant black and the constellations standing out in vivid contrast. Venus, morning star, was brighter than moonlight, Cassiopeia, Orion, The Pleiades felt like dear old friends who had come to visit after being away for a while. I realized in this crystalline moment, I felt inexorably… totally… at One with the All That Is and completely In The Circle.

by Janis Farmer

Do you? What pulls you into The Circle? What pulls you out?

Is Faith Made Up or Is It Real?

I’ve been thinking about a note that an interested party sent me the other day. To paraphrase and abbreviate a long missive: “Is faith made up, or is it real? I don’t want to fake it.”

What if, since we make it up sometimes to our advantage and sometimes against it, if we realize that the name of the game is to make it up in a way that stacks the deck in our favor. What’s the disadvantage of this approach? None, from what I can tell.

We’re going to make it up some way: God exists/doesn’t exist; compare me with others; dark now, light now; faith or lack thereof (I’ve already said, “There is no such thing as no faith.”); structured inquiry or spontaneous expression or combustion; personified deity or cold law… and so it goes. We’re gonna’ make up something, and no matter what we make up, or what we have convinced ourselves is true, we still made it up and will always be making it up. That’s what we do. We’re designed that way.

Sometimes we convince ourselves we are safe by talking ourselves into believing that we are safe and by assuming that we know what’s going on around us. If this only helps us to feel more creative and at peace, so what? We are by design, automatic, organizing machines that overlay a notion of order into the absolute chaos of creation. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this approach to calming down. Most of us could use something to calm down; that’s for sure…and there’s no hangover.

Whether we’re boinking or breathing or musing or levitating, we can’t get out of this thing called Life. Even if we attempt escape by so-called suicide, there is no guarantee that we get “out” or avoid suffering. I also think that we make up all of the potential options and outcomes in this one, too.

Instead of is faith real or imagined, I think the real question is, “How are you gonna’ make up your life from now on. You’ve done it the way you’ve done it up to this time, and you always have the option of doing it a little or a lot differently every moment hereafter. What now, Dear Traveler? What choose, Ye? The blue or the red pill?

This time, I choose blue. Why? Because I choose blue.

What are you making up about all of this? You will make what you make up.

BestBlessings,

Rev Donald

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