My New Activism

Over the past few weeks I’ve talked to many people groaning over the outcome of the Presidential election and fearing catastrophe for our country. I’ve been asked to participate in a march or some other protest as an activist. I respond that I decline to be discouraged because I hold faith that everything works out for good and that even painful change leads to greater possibilities. Usually, my words are greeted with skepticism and sometimes frank astonishment or criticism. But I know from our teachings that I own the responsibility to construct the story of my reality, so I’m not choosing any story of doom and gloom. Instead, I choose to stand on the truth of All One, All God, All Good. I strive to see the good in every person and every event, and to live from my internal divine guidance and core values. I call this “quiet activism” because it is so different from the way society, under the influence of collective consciousness, deals with things that seem to be “bad”. Instead of protests, petitions and marches, I choose prayer as my method of activism.

Over these same few weeks, I’ve reviewed my core values just as I know many others are doing at our Center. I have examined my actions to see where they were not congruent with my values. I meditated and I prayed. I got several “intuitive imperatives” that came in hard and fast. The first was that Compassion means, for me, means that I shift my diet and become a vegan. I cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the suffering of other beings, human or animal, that results from factory food production. The second imperative came a few days after I learned the news of Reverend Donald’s retirement plans. Love moved me to volunteer to sit on our Board of Trustees to help our Center navigate the change.

None of these decisions have been easy for me to implement. For example, I swiftly discovered, as a vegan, I can’t grab a quick bite to eat anywhere ever again. I am required to plan and be far more present about the food I eat. As a new Board member, I have new duties and meetings to add to my already busy schedule. My new activism is far from comfortable. When in doubt, I pray.

I believe the state of the world of our experience reflects our consciousness. If I want to see a world of love, plenty and right action, I must hold these things in my own consciousness first. As Michael Jackson sang, change starts with the man (or woman) in the mirror. My new activism is to believe one prayer of Truth can change everything, and then I pray.

by Leah Hamilton

Cows Don’t Give Milk

While living in Sonoma County California in the seventies, Clover Dairy billboards could be seen everywhere, even into Marin County to the south. One day, I saw my all-time favorite. It showed a Holstein cow sitting in full lotus with her eyes closed. The caption read, “I moo; therefore, I am.”

This is my last article for the Center for Spiritual Living Tucson newsletter, before I “ride off into the sunset” of retirement and my “next yet-to-be”. Therefore, it must include thoughts about frog-princes, farms, cows, love, and our relationship with Life and living. In specific, it focuses on cows and loving, and how they are connected, and that by looking at them together, one can capture a snapshot of reality, and if there is anything I want to leave with you, it’s another dose of reality, my favorite subject.

First: I must say, “The Science of Mind is a bunch of crap. This is true, if you think about the highest use of crap, and from this point of view, all philosophies are a bunch of crap.” Without crap, the garden of Life would not be nearly as rich; the plants would not have the basic nutrients and required elements to produce fertile crops. So whether it’s The Science of Mind or some other philosophy, the points of view they offer give us ways of understanding Life, and points of view about Life, so we can more readily experience Life and Its full bounty. All philosophies are crap, but they work for us, when we work with them.

Second: We are always in relationship. We’re never not in relationship, whether it’s with ourselves, another, our community, our planet, an idea, a philosophy or whatever. We’re always in relationship.

Third: Glamour and delusion change nothing, absolutely nothing, except our experiences in life. Smoke and mirrors do not change the world, or a person’s life. They only change appearances and set up expectations that always shatter peace of mind.

Many years ago, I edited and retold a story, which I called, “The Lady and The Frog.”

A woman had experienced difficulty in all of her relationships with men. She hadn’t succeeded with any. To add insult to injury this particular week, work had been exceptionally tough, so when she arrived home that fateful Friday evening, totally bent out, torqued and twisted about her whole life, she was thinking that life was too much of a struggle.

As she approached her front door step, the automatic sensor light came on, and when she put the key in the door, she heard “ribbet, ribbet.” She thought maybe one of her friends had gotten one of those noise-making guard frogs that croak “ribbet, ribbet”, when you walk in front of them. She looked around to find it, and sure enough, there in her little flower garden, next to the concrete slab porch, was a frog. But this was a real frog, and when the frog looked up at her, he puckered up his lips, air-kissed at her, and said, “ribbet, ribbet.”

She froze and thought, “My God! Am I freaking out? That frog just kissed at me and croaked ‘ribbet, ribbet!’” So she looked at the frog again, and when she looked at the frog, the frog looked at her, air-kissed her and croaked “ribbet, ribbet” again.

Since it already had been one heck of a week, this was the frosting on the cake, so she decided that she was up for a little bit of distraction and entertainment. She picked up the frog, walked into the kitchen and put the frog on the kitchen counter. Putting down the rest of her stuff, she poured herself a big glass of wine and couldn’t help noticing that every time she glanced at the frog, the frog would make eye contact, air-kiss at her and croak “ribbet, ribbet”. She poured a second glass of wine; followed by a third glass of wine, and then, all the fairy tales she had heard started becoming more real for her. That can happen after three glasses of wine. And it continued: Every time she looked at that frog, it air-kissed at her and croaked “ribbet, ribbet”.

Finally, she said to herself, “What the hell! I’ve got nothing to lose,” and she picked up that frog, held him under the faucet to clean him off a little bit, because you never want to take a dirty frog into your bedroom, and she put the frog on the bed. She went into the bathroom, took a shower and worked on looking good and smelling good. She was becoming more and more convinced that when she kissed that frog, it was going to turn into a gorgeous, beefcake of a Prince, and since frogs don’t wear clothes, neither would he, so she wanted to be ready. Throughout the process of her cleaning up, she kept looking to see if the frog was still there, and every time she made eye contact, it would look her straight in the eye, air-kiss at her and croak “ribbet, ribbet”.

Wow! She seriously started to get her hopes up here. It was looking like this could turn out to be a pretty good evening after all. She finally completed her cleanup process, walked into the bedroom; bent over and kissed the frog right on the lips, and sure enough, that frog transformed into a gorgeous, beefcake of a very naked Prince. She screamed, “My God! It worked!”, and as she looked into those deep, hazel-green eyes, he air-kissed at her and croaked “ribbet, ribbet.”

The moral of the story is, that no matter how much make-up and glamour and delusion you bring to a situation, a delusion is still a delusion, and no matter how much wine you drink, a frog is still a frog. You can dress them up and make them look like a Prince, but they always will be a frog.

Take out a piece of paper up and draw a vertical line down the middle. At the top and of the left-hand side of the paper, write the word Delusion. On the right-hand side write the word Reality. Now spend a few minutes listing situations and conditions in your life, under the column where they belong: Does that situation or condition belong in the Delusion or in the Reality column?

It has been said, “Pain is the difference between what is, and what I want it to be.”

The Delusion column is your, “What I want it to be.”

Life experience tells us: “If my ‘Want to be’ is different than ‘What is,’ that’s what causes the pain or chaos or confusion in my life.”

Tell yourself the truth now, and tell it fast. Write down at least three situations or conditions in each column, before continuing with your reading.

You have heard me say, “Love is a Verb.” In my mind, as a noun, Love falls horribly short sometimes. It makes a very crummy noun, unless you’re talking about the effects of Loving.

Looking at Love only as a noun can be problematic, and in fact, sometimes catastrophic, since our definitions shape our experience. This is how love and milk begin to relate.

If I want love (as a noun), without loving (as a verb), it may take a while, and it likely will not last very long. It’s hard to fill my love-bucket without putting in some energy.

As a verb, Love would be something we do. It’s active, it has impact, it moves, and there is an exchange of energy. Verbs support an exchange of energy.

At the same time, Love is part of our nature. It’s a function of the True Self. If it’s a function, then it’s a verb. It’s something the True Self does. It’s part of our “frogness”, as well as our “prince-ness” or “princess-ness”; it’s part of our essence. It’s natural. When we’re natural, we love. In fact, we have to stop ourselves from loving.

Love is a verb. It falls radically short of its true potential if it is considered only as a concept. Love needs to be actualized; it needs to be practiced and lived.

In Ernest Holmes’ and Willis Kinnear’s New Design for Living, we find, “The proof of any truth rests only in our practical use of it, and each individual must prove this theory for himself in his own life and experience.

Here is the story that became the title of this article:

I had a Great Uncle and Aunt, who lived on a little farm near Newcastle Texas. When I was four years old, I got my first pair of real cowboy boots for my birthday. In Texas you can get them early, and earlier, when I turned two, I had a pair, but they weren’t real cowboy boots. These four-year old versions had red leather and stitching up the shank; the whole bit. They were really cool looking, brand-spanking new boots, and I wore them proudly.

We went to visit my Great Uncle and Aunt’s little farm, and Uncle Richard was going to show me how to milk a cow. Most of my life, I have lived in a particular way. My Dad used to say that I “bogied right in,” which meant that if I wanted to do something or go somewhere, I just took off and went there, fearless to a fault sometimes. So I stepped right off that porch and started walking, hell bent for election toward the corral, determined that I’m gonna milk me a cow. Four years old. Sooner or later we learn things, and it musta’ been time for this one thing to be learned.

I stepped through the lower slat of the corral fence and stepped right into it. Yep, I stepped into some of that stuff that I called The Science of Mind and other philosophies. I stood there for a moment, looking down at the mess, and that’s when my Dad learned that I knew what it was. I called it what it’s called, but I said it as an expletive. He roared with a belly-jiggling laugh. He thought it was hilarious: What I had just stepped in, that I had stepped in it, and that I knew what it was and said so, for all the world to hear.

Well, I stepped right back out of that corral and started rethinking things a bit, as much as a four-year-old can rethink things. After a while of standing there, stomping for some time, to get that stuff off my brand-spanking new boots, Uncle Richard walked over to me. He had on those big, black, knee-high rubber boots. He had figured out how to do this thing, so he grabbed my hand and hauled me around the corral. He said gently, and not without a grin in his voice, “You don’t cut through the corral, Donald. You walk around the corral to get into the barn.”

When we arrived in the barn, there was old Bessy, or whatever her name was, and she was huge. Here I was, a little bitty shrimp in red cowboy boots, just about to milk my first cow. Uncle Richard showed me where the milking stool was, and he brought another stool over and sat next to me. He showed me where the bucket was; and this next part, I will never understand: That cow was just down-right dirty, and Uncle Richard made me wash my hands before milking her. Explain that one to me! Anyway, after washing my hands, I looked down under that cow, and I can tell you for sure, that was one utterly huge bag. I had never seen anything that big in my life. I was bottle fed, and my bottles didn’t look nothin’ like that udder.

Uncle Richard reached out and grabbed one of those puppies, and he started working on it. Right away, he got milk, but I noticed that the milk didn’t fall out on it’s own. He said to me, “This is what you’re supposed to do, Donald,” and he showed me the hand action, so I grabbed on, and I went for it. I started pulling, and kept pulling, and pulling, and pulling, and I thought, “I ain’t getting no milk.” It was the goofiest thing. So I looked at him like, “You’re tricking me. You’re playing a practical joke on me. This thing doesn’t work. It’s empty!”

And he said, “You’ve got to squeeze hard and like this.” Well those little four-year old hands could barely get around it all, but I worked and worked, and finally I got a couple of drops and began to feel pretty satisfied with getting even a couple of drops. I was ready to bag all this nonsense, because the longer I sat there and struggled, the more I noticed that it stunk in there. I just didn’t really enjoy the process much. Farms were dirty, and it seems like a whole lot of work to me.

On again and off again throughout my life, I have held to the romantic notion that living on a farm would be sweet and lovely and fun. Then I found out that my Great Uncle and Aunt get up before sunrise, go to bed after dark, and they work their tails off. It’s dirty. It’s messy. It stinks. They dealt with the realities of life like life and death every single day. Farm life is hard work! They had to eke out every drop from the cow, every head of lettuce and every single carrot they got from that land. They had to work for everything. Eggs were the easiest part, except for cleaning out the coop. And as I watched my Great Uncle and Aunt that day, they weren’t worn down by doing all of that work. They loved it. It was a true labor of love for them. It was their livelihood.

To complete the story, my aunt cooked a homegrown ham for dinner, and that was the sweetest piece of pork I have ever tasted. After eating that literally homegrown dinner, I could easily have called that farm their lovinghood, and I think that’s how Love is, as a verb. It doesn’t have to be struggle, and it yet it’s work. Energy gets exchanged, and when it does, it’s powerful and the most magical of activities. It’s as sweet as that ham.

I learned a great lesson that day. The lesson didn’t complete itself until many, many years later, but it finally finished percolating: Work doesn’t have to be a struggle. Work is nothing more than the exchange of energy. Metaphysics can be hard work, too, but it doesn’t have to be a struggle.

We don’t have to eke and pull out every single drop from this thing called Life, especially with Love as our nature. It’s just that we have been trained out of loving naturally. We have gotten trained into thinking that Love is a concept, an abstraction, a noun, a thing. But when we are at our best, most natural state, we simply love, and we naturally perceive and receive love. The flow of real love is a natural exchange of energy.

Loving is easy. It’s natural. It just takes practice. It takes practice to realize that loving is what we are, and when it’s natural, it’s what we do.

From The Jerusalem Bible: “Love is always patient and kind, it is never jealous, Love is never boastful, nor conceited, it is never rude nor selfish, it does not take offense, and it is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love gives naught but itself, it takes naught but from itself, Love possesses not, nor would it be possessed, for Love is sufficient unto itself.”

Cows don’t give milk. It is in their nature to provide it, but energy must be exchanged to express the milk. The same is true for love. The greatest souls are those who love.

Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be. Become one yourself.”

Become the great soul that lives within. Become the love within you. Become the great Center; the Center that lives in you and awaits your discovery.

I trust that you continue to milk Life for all It’s worth, and It’s worth a lot of love!

I love you and have appreciated our time together, so with the Best of Blessings and with Love in Its Greatest Verbness, I leave you.

~ Rev Donald Graves

Natural Oneness

There is One Infinite Mind from which all things come.  This Mind is through, in, and around man.  (Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind)

During the early months of this past summer, I began my day in the usual fashion of watering my outdoor plants.  I started my daily routine by refreshing the mesquite tree that provides shade for my front yard and a resting place for the birds in the heat of the day with a cool splash of water.  As I unraveled the garden hose from its storage box, I dropped the hose onto the ground between two flowerpots on either side of the mesquite tree.  After a few moments, I started to reach down to pickup the hose when I suddenly noticed a coiled diamond-backed rattler snake perfectly camouflaged in its natural surroundings of the mesquite tree and Mother Earth.  I stood up straight, took one deep breath and on the heels of my feet I made a sharp 180 degree turn.  Next, I turned off the running water and in two or three swift movements I retreated into the safety of my home.

I spent the next ten minutes searching the Internet for an available resource to have the limbless reptile removed from my front yard.  Eventually, I found a Rattle Snake Wrangler who happened to be at a work site near my home. The only downside to this possible solution as the Wrangler explained was the fact that he had to finish his current work assignment and he would not be available for another 90 minutes.  The Wrangler assured me that I had nothing to worry about and if I decided to wait for his arrival, the only thing he would ask me to do would be keep a watchful eye on the movement of the rattler from a safe distance.  I agreed to wait and to also maintain vigilance.

Looking out of my kitchen window, the sight of the creature that momentarily took my breath away and made my heart skip a couple of beats, remained still and visibly clear in plain sight. I decided that it was time to relax so I opened the shutters, positioned a chair in front of the window, took a seat and I appropriately named the rattler “Diamond.”  I felt a calming influence flow through me as I slipped into a meditation with Diamond. Rather than holding onto my initial fears, I came to a resolution of Peace. I experienced the wonders of nature and I felt as One with Diamond.

The Wrangler arrived and humanely removed Diamond from its resting place. The Wrangler commented that he thought it was odd that a rattlesnake found its way into my front yard.  I did not think that this was odd as I know that One Mind spoke through Diamond.  I felt the presence of Divinity moreover I experienced Oneness in the least likely way that I could ever imagine.

In the Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes explains that faith expresses as the power of prayer.   What started out as the appearance of a hazardous situation developed into a lesson of personal empowerment and peace.  Most importantly, I learned that elevated thoughts, raised into awareness of Spirit, prove my ability to recognize life force as all shapes, forms and fashions of the Universe.

By Carla Hodge

Double Down and Flip

by Holly Baker

Double Down – to become more tenacious, zealous, or resolute in a position or undertaking

By the time you are reading this article, without any threatened delays and, fingers double crossed, we’ll finally know the outcome of the 2016 presidential race.

Jangled nerves, a neck and back achy with complaint, my body, mind and spirit hunger to end my election year bender, a self-imposed bonafide media binge. Like a gawker passing a horrifying car accident, I couldn’t stop slowing down to look again and again.

No matter how repulsed, I’ve been fixated by this year’s election cycle – following all major newspaper coverage, missing not one minute of all three debates. To my glee, the latest IOS update for iPhone displays “Breaking News” on the opening screen. The words “double down” entered my awareness and vocabulary for the first time.

In this season of an in-your-face, all-persuasive feeling of separateness, even vitriolic hate – an us-versus-them atmosphere on steroids, how do we embrace our Oneness? How do we “double down” on our Truth?

In CSL’s “The Power of your Word”, an 8-week certificated course, weekly homework starts with the popular news – each student picks a current news story that triggers them, pushes their buttons, or repulses them.

The initial task in this course designed to teach students to formulate and use Spiritual Mind Treatment for themselves and others is to identify the God Quality in any situation, and then “flip” the perceived condition to a positive, an expression of Wholeness.

We learn everything we experience demonstrates a God quality. Behind every fear is a God quality. Knowing Wholeness, knowing Perfection, knowing it’s all God is the first step. There is no evil just a misuse of good. Science of Mind does not deny any circumstance; we deny it has power over us. Pain lets us know we are alive. We’re not supposed to put up with it, but change our mind about it and then it can change. We choose our consciousness. We bring every trigger to ourselves in order to develop mastery.

During this divisive time as we begin our lives under new controversial leadership, how do we remember and apply the principle that we are ONE? What are the God qualities you can see?

Double down on knowing Oneness, double down on knowing Perfection, double down on knowing Love. Flip whatever angst you are feeling and “double down”. The source of peace lies within us.

My eyes behold the complete and perfect in all Creation, “In all, over all and through all.” I see the perfect; there is nothing else to see, and no suggestion of otherness can enter my thought. I know only the perfect and the complete. I am perfect and whole, now. I see the Good.
–Ernest Holmes

Come On In … The Water’s Fine

While volunteering as a Chaplain at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Salt Lake City, a Protestant Chaplain shared his motto with me: “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Intuitively, I resonated with the wisdom of this guideline, and when I shared it with peers or other chaplains, their heads always nodded in agreement.

The objective of an effective chaplain is to help people confront their demons so that they can deal with them. “Afflicting” is not about irritating. It’s about awakening to the truth of the situation and to a deeper truth beyond the conditions. It’s about bringing one to themselves, so they can bring out more of themselves.

An American proverb offers: “People are like teabags. They find out what they’re made of when they get into hot water.”

Just like with the chaplain’s point of view, when most people hear this proverb, they nod in agreement. What many don’t say, and more probably believe, is that “hot water” can be a bad and painful thing; that hot water is undesirable. Who wants to suffer? On the other hand, most believe that we need to hurt to wake up, and after being around this world for more than just a few years, this belief seems more regularly experienced than not. However, I don’t believe that life has to be this way, and neither does it need to remain this way if it has been up to this point in time.

When I think of hot water as a method by which a tea bag can bring out the tea’s true nature, its true essence, it becomes analogous to the hot water in a “Hot Tub”. Hot tubs can be therapeutic. They help us cleanse, feel refreshed and feel like a cooked noodle in a good way. The hot tub can help to bring out health and vibrancy, just like the hot water helps bring out the essence of the tea.

Hot water can help us birth our greatness, our magnificence, our true essence. In the same way, afflicting ourselves into a recognition of reality, can facilitate our awakening to the obstacles we have place in the way of that greatness and help us to choose differently.

Consciously or unconsciously, we create our own suffering. Consciously or unconsciously, we also create our own metaphoric hot water.

I think it is more difficult to experience personal magnificence, when we believe we have to suffer in order to get there. That would mean we could not experience greatness while having an ecstatic experience; that we have to suffer in order to awaken instead of enjoying the journey. This is absurd.

The belief that we have to be the wounded healer; that we have to limp along from the wounds of past experiences in order to step into greatness, is a horribly limiting way to go through life. And I say this, even though I have lived much of my life with this approach. However, just because we have lived our lives in that way up to this point in time, does not mean we have to continue in this manner. Maybe it’s time to consider doing it differently.

I think it’s time to celebrate the magnificence within us. I think it’s time to glory in and share the Power, the Intelligence and the Presence that lives within all of us, AS us, with each other. I think it’s time we climbed into the hot tub of magnificence together. I think it’s time to jump into the boiling pot that brings out our greatest selves.

Together, let’s steep in our magnificence and create a brew worthy of drinking and sharing. Together, let’s allow the Divine Tea (Divinity) to come forth from ourselves and share it with each other.

In case you have not started before now, it’s never too late to begin. Come on in. The water’s fine.

Many Rich Blessings On You…
RevDonald

Don’t Go There!

The theme for June was “imagination” and its power to manifest our experience in life. Like all of us, I have a vivid imagination which likes nothing more than to run hither and yon, unchecked, conjuring up all sorts of vivid images, scenarios, and outcomes, often the worst possible outcomes. The Science of Mind teaches that what you focus on or give constant attention to increases or manifests as our experience. Our imagination gives power to and solidifies what we believe, think and say, by giving them a strong visual and experiential component in our mind. When we strongly imagine something, do we not only visualize it, but experience as well as feel it? The Universe, or Divine Mind, which always says “Yes!” will always respond to the imagined scenario and reflect it back to us and manifest it as our reality.

In his book The Power of Awareness, Neville Goddard writes “…to become the master of your assumptions [beliefs, thoughts] is the key to undreamed-of freedom and happiness. You can attain this mastery by deliberate conscious control of your imagination. The great secret is a controlled imagination and a well-sustained attention firmly and repeatedly focused on the object to be accomplished.”

But how do you consciously control your imagination, which by its very nature seems impossible to direct, especially when it comes to thinking about the worst (which your mind seems so willing to do)? One way is to notice when your imagination is going in a negative direction and stop that train of thought. Thank your mind for sharing, then turn to its polar positive opposite and contemplate a higher idea. A phrase I’ve been using of late whenever my imagination starts down a negative free-for-all slide is “Don’t go there!” I’ve found that this puts on the brakes, so to speak, and sets my train of thought on to another track, in another direction, where I am free to choose a more positive idea. It works!!

Another process you can use (which I’ve shared in a previous article, but it bears repeating), is the following: after a treatment, while still in an expanded, high state of consciousness, indulge in an imaginary visualization voyage where you vividly see, experience and feel what it would be like if what you’ve just treated for were actually real in your life right now. It’s your trip, your imagination is infinite, and nothing is impossible. Should your logical mind want to step in with all its negative reasons and “yeah, buts” why your good cannot happen, DON’T GO THERE and continue imagining your good as vividly and thoroughly as you can. This is your time and this is a gift you are giving yourself! Immerse yourself fully in its “reality” and when you feel whole, complete, happy, and at peace, release it into the Universe, knowing it’s a done deal!

You CAN pro-actively direct your imagination to manifest the kind of life you want. Just get into the habit of noticing where it’s going, and if it’s not in the direction you want it to go, Don’t Go There!!

And so it is! Namaste. By Jon William Lopez, RScP

“Stupid hurts, and it should.” (Graves’ Law #97)

“This Is How It Works”

“Stupid hurts, and it should.” (Graves’ Law #97)

When we do something against the Laws of Nature, or against our true nature or values, we suffer… and we should. This valuable feedback gives us the information, and possibly the motivation we need, to change.

What’s interesting to observe is that the hurting escalates if we don’t pay attention.

Initially, we get feedback from our emotions and/or feelings. We feel emotional discomfort or upset, and this could be as vague as an internal “stirring” or something more specific as anxiety.

If we don’t listen, then it escalates, and we get feedback in our environment: in our affairs, at home, at work, in the world around us, etc. It shows up as “noise”, chaos, “failure”, defeat, resistance, etc.

If we don’t pay attention and listen, then it escalates further, and we get feedback in our body. It shows up as chronic and/or acute pain, disease, sickness, and/or with other physical symptoms. The body is the first and the last place where the Universe gives us both our first and our last chance to wake up to the thinking that is out of whack. If we continue and do not listen to the feedback of disease, we move into an even deeper phase.

Since the Universe “loves” us and gives us to ourselves so totally and continually, It is willing to kill the body and let us start all over again. The Universe escalates the feedback until we get it, up to and including our getting to “start over”.

Paying attention to this process can encourage all of us to pay more attention to the various kinds of feedback presented to us, and therefore, help us to find ways to live more congruently and joyfully.

I trust you will choose to enjoy your process.

Reverend Donald Graves
(Excerpted and expanded from Graves’ Laws: Aphorisms to Live By, by Donald Graves)

The Power of Receiving in a Season of Giving By Amanda Owen

Cover_Power_of_ReceivingHalloween is the coming attractions preview of the holidays. Those little witches, ghosts, and goblins will soon morph into angels, wise men, and reindeer, and the candy you gave in October will give way to more expensive gift-giving in December.

While the old proverb tells us it is better to give than receive, countless people bemoan the absence of grateful receivers. Thank you letters seem to be a relic of the past and expressions of gratitude are often drowned out in a sea of complaints about what is wrong with the world.

When you get back nothing or little in response to what you give, it’s natural to feel mystified or even resentful. Interestingly, our culture spends a lot of time on the value of giving, while little attention is paid to receiving. Yet, for every giver there is a receiver. And when something is not received well—whether it is candy, a gift, or a compliment—we notice!

With a little time left before the holiday season arrives, it’s not too late to strengthen your ability to receive and help your children brush up on their receiving skills. Here are three simple steps that will help you receive as well as you give:

1. Notice what people do for you and thank them.
Don’t think for a second that a lack of acknowledgment or a refusal to receive is not noticed by the person who gave! When we don’t receive graciously, we thwart an opportunity for connection and prevent a mutually satisfying transaction from occurring.

The simple expression of gratitude is one of the ways that we give back to the giver. It feels good for our giving to be received and it makes us want to give again! Here are a few ideas to help you practice saying thank you:

• Thank the grocery clerk for putting the food in the bag.
• Thank the bank teller for saying, “Have a nice day.”
• Thank the driver who waves at you to go first at the stop sign.
• Thank the waiter for bringing you coffee.
• Thank your cat for using the litter box.
• Thank your coworker for saying, “Have a great weekend.”
• Thank your houseplants for their beauty.

2. Accept compliments.
When people pay you a compliment, do you downplay what they are saying about you? Or do you thank them? If someone wants to do something for you, do you say something like, “Oh, you don’t need to do that! I can handle it myself!”

Many people are uncomfortable accepting compliments and then wonder why people aren’t kinder or don’t help them out more. Receiving something as simple as a compliment is a huge statement about your willingness to receive the good things in life.

Even if you are uncomfortable accepting a compliment, kind words, or a gift, note that feeling and receive it. But still say, “Thank you.” Here are a few ways to graciously respond to a compliment:

• Thanks!
• It’s so nice of you to notice!
• I really appreciate that!
• How sweet of you to say that!
• It’s great to hear such encouraging words!
• How lovely of you to acknowledge that!
• You made my day!

3. Start a gratitude journal.
To be grateful is to be receptive to life’s abundance. Gratitude is a state of mind, a way of seeing life, of noticing and relating to life. There are those who have an overall attitude of gratitude. Conversely, some people are rarely grateful—even when people bend over backward to give to them.

Appreciation and gratitude come from inside a person as a way of looking at life, as a way of being in life. It is completely independent of external circumstances. Start a journal where you can record every day at least five things for which you feel grateful.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:

• I am grateful for my morning coffee.
• I am grateful for the beautiful tree in my front yard.
• I am grateful that my husband received a job promotion.
• I am grateful for the recommendation my friend gave me for a massage therapist.
• I am grateful that my sister is content in her life.
• I am grateful for my home.
• I am grateful that I have been feeling better

Someone once said, “Life is a marathon.” Through all of life’s peaks and valleys, there are people who help make the journey a little brighter and a lot more fun.

When you express your appreciation, when you respond graciously to compliments, offers of help, gifts (and candy!) you not only strengthen your relationship bonds, you create a life where people want to give to you as much as you give to them. You create a two-way street, giving sometimes and receiving at other times.

This holiday season, receive from the people who give to you. Listen to what they say, notice what they do, and most of all, respond with a sincere ‘thank you!’

Amanda Owen is the guest speaker at our Sunday Celebration Service on October 12, 2014. Join us. She is also the author of The Power of Receiving and Born to Receive.

Using Imagination and Will

Having run across this following tidbit today, I thought it very appropriate for consideration given our theme for June: “Imagination and Will”.

“We take our point of view so much for granted, as if the world were really as we see it. But it doesn’t take much analysis to recognize that our way of seeing the world is simply an old unexamined habit, so strong, so convincing, and so unconscious we don’t even see it as a habit. How many times have we been absolutely sure about someone’s motivations and later discovered that we were completely wrong? How many times have we gotten upset about something that turned out to have been nothing? Our perceptions and opinions are often quite off the mark. The world may not be as we think it is. In fact, it is virtually certain that it is not.” (Norman Fischer, Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong, pg. 63)

How many times have you taken a piece of information and built it into its own false universe, only to find out later that the information you had was mistaken? You thought something happened, and maybe you took offense or felt hurt or diminished by it, when in fact it never happened at all, or it happened very differently than you thought.

Huge suffering can come from a misuse of imagination and will, and no one is exempted from doing this. We all have done it at one time or another. The key to sanity must be in understanding how to do this differently.

While thinking on Fischer’s quotation, I considered some questions:

How might I rightly use my imagination and will?

How can I use my imagination and will FOR my benefit, as well as for the benefit of those around me?

What if I use my imagination and will to “create” a world that works for everyone; where everyone respects differences and looks for connections and relatedness, instead of focusing on the differences. Since we all live in the same human bucket, how might I use my creativity to assist all of us more effectively getting along and finding mutual joy?

The questions continue to help my mind explore, and so far, I only have a few answers. This tells me that more answers are on their way and more joy is unfolding each minute. I think the beginning is to become ever more aware of how I am using my imagination, and how I am applying my will to those imaginings.

BestBlessings,

Reverend Donald Graves

1 2 3