23 August  2016      

Good day, and thank you for being here!

 An Excerpt from Letting Go
Morrie Schwartz

An Urgent Wake-Up Call
Stephen C. Paul

The Seventh Day
Matthew Kelly

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To have a purpose that is worthwhile, and that is steadily being accomplished, is one of the secrets of a life that is worth living.

Herbert Casson

Patience and tenacity of purpose are assets of infinitely greater value than cleverness.  There is great strength in patiently waiting.  The sun, having set, comes up.  The tide ebbs, but always flows in again.

Fred van Amburgh

All people ought to begin with themselves, and make their own happiness first, from which the happiness of the whole world would at last unquestionably follow.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  
An excerpt from Letting Go
Morrie Schwartz

I think so many of us are too hard on ourselves for what we didn't accomplish or what we should have done.  The first step is to forgive yourself for all the things you didn't do that you should have and all the things that you did do that you shouldn't have.  Get rid of the guilt.  Negative feelings don't do you much good.  The way to deal with them is to forgive yourself and forgive others.

Forgiveness is a tricky term.  It does not only mean that you apologize, although regretting what you did is part of it.  You may want to make amends if you can, but there are some circumstances where there is nothing more you can do.  Even when you cannot mend fences with others, you need to tell yourself:  "Yes, I did it and it would have been better if I hadn't, but now I want to forgive myself for having done that negative deed."

Forgiveness helps you come to terms with the past.  I've learned how to forgive myself, and this has helped me no longer feel deep regrets or sadness about my past.

For twenty years, I went around feeling terrible about the fact that I had treated a colleague very meanly.  He was in an organization with me, and I did not want to lead a group with him.  For all those years I carried around the guilt that I had been unkind to him and that it wasn't right.  When I saw him again recently, I went up to him and said, "Look, I've carried this burden for twenty years.  I really feel terribly apologetic for what I said and did to you, and I really want to ask your forgiveness."

He said, "Oh, it's perfectly all right.  I remember the time when I was feeling dejected and low and you put your arm around me and were comforting."

I felt tears in my eyes because of the generous way he responded to me and the relief I felt.

There's a difference between using your past and wallowing in it.  Say I had an experience with a nasty person and I got nasty back, but I don't want to be that way anymore.  I can use that experience to work out a different response whenever someone is not so pleasant to me.  If I don't like my reaction, I can change my response.

You can review your past, benefit from your successes, and learn from your mistakes without judging yourself.  This is an excellent time to do a life review, to make amends, identify and let go of regrets, come to terms with unresolved relationships, and tie up loose ends.

   

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An Urgent Wake-Up Call to Live More Simply, Harmoniously, and Respectfully
Stephen C. Paul

On November 23rd, 1993 Native American prophecy was fulfilled when a delegation representing the North American indigenous nations addressed a gathering at the United Nations building in New York. Hopi prophecies had directed messengers to knock four times on the imposing doors of the UN in an attempt to deliver an appeal to the peoples of the world. The messengers began knocking in 1948. It took 45 years for the last living messenger to finally gain access. The Cry of the Earth Conference resulted from that fourth—and final—knock. Native American elders took that opportunity to deliver the prophecies of their spiritual leaders concerning the state of the earth and the people living upon it.

Their message was clear and very simple: The long-predicted time of purification is already under way. The elders pleaded that we heed The Creator’s original instructions to the indigenous peoples and voluntarily return to living in more simple, harmonious, and respectful ways. The prophecies warned that, should we choose to ignore this message, erratic weather patterns, earth movements, starvation, violence, and war would occur with everincreasing frequency and intensity.

We live at a time when Native American prophecies and contemporary scientific predictions are converging and manifesting before our eyes. When we read the morning paper or watch the evening news, we are literally witnessing those predicted events unfold. While there are occasional, encouraging, isolated bright spots of technological advance and humanitarian action, I still see very little evidence that we are seriously heeding the warnings.

My purpose is to reissue that call. I am asking each of you to voluntarily commit to living in ways that are simpler, more respectful, and more harmonious—more in line with The Creator’s original instructions. You, as an individual, must choose how you will respond. Will you voluntarily make the required changes in your lifestyle? If you do, there’s no question that it will have a positive affect on you, the people around you, and the earth upon which you live. You will bring the benefits of simplicity, harmony, and respect into your own personal life. You will prepare yourself to pass through the predicted challenges ahead more successfully and with greater ease and grace. In addition, you will provide a muchneeded positive example for others to follow.

I have written this four part article to help you implement your commitment. In the first two parts, I suggest a number of specific steps you can take to achieve a greater simplicity—both internal and external—in you life.

Part I: Five Steps to Simplify Your Inner World

Any unresolved issues you carry inside can distort your perceptions of the world, inhibit your personal options, and make you more vulnerable to stressful life events. You’ve probably heard the saying, "Wherever you go, there you are." Well, it’s absolutely true. In order to live more fully, and flow more fluidly with disruptive changes, it is essential that you free yourself of any remaining unresolved issues.

Step 1: Release your attachments

I believe this is the most important internal change you can make. Imagine strands of your energy running out from you to all the people and things you rely on to define your identity. One strand may run to a person you love, another to your car, and still a third to your music collection. Some may stretch back in time to people who let you down, while others might reach far into the future, tied to an aspiration or desired possession. Strands might even run to your own body (how you look), or to your thoughts and beliefs (religion, politics, etc.). We can attach ourselves to anything…nd we do.

Buddha said that we suffer because of our desires and attachments. We attach ourselves to people, things, and outcomes as if they were extensions of ourselves. Then we hold on very tightly (using words, actions, and our will). If another person must respond with the "right" expression, answer, or behavior in order for you to be "happy" or "okay," then you are definitely attached. If events must turn out in a particular way—match the picture in your head—in order for you to be "okay," you are attached. If you still carry unresolved feelings about something that happened in the recent or distant past, you are attached. Those attachments handicap you by causing you to resist change or avoid making choices that might jeopardize a desired outcome.

The only solution is to let go. You must draw back—from your side—the strands of energy that you extend to hold, influence, or control people, things, and outcomes for your own ends. You must let everything and everyone go free.

There are a number of ways to go about releasing attachments. Satchidananda offers a comprehensive Eastern approach in The Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali and John Randolph Price presents a Western version in A Spiritual Philosophy for the New World. I describe my own set of eight release steps on my website (www.circledancer.com) in an article titled Releasing Attachments. If you discover that you need additional help with this process, some therapists and members of the clergy are able to provide assistance.

Ultimately, we let go of everyone and everything—we die. According to most spiritual traditions, the sooner you release your attachments, the more peace and ease you have in this life. The Native American prophecies provide a little extra incentive. It will be a lot easier to adapt to a changing world once you free yourself.

Step 2: Face and resolve your issues

Another powerful way to simplify your life and prepare for change is to solve any unresolved personal issues (fears, anxieties, judgments, reactions, addictions, compulsions, depression, etc.). The increasing stress and challenge presented during the difficult times ahead is likely to intensify your unresolved issues, making it even harder 5

for you to operate effectively. You would be wise to resolve those issues before those external pressures mount.

Most issues can be resolved by bringing them fully into your awareness, facing and accepting them, and then taking any required actions (e.g., learning a new approach to managing stress). It’s likely that your unresolved issues have already been brought to your attention. If so, perhaps you dismissed them (e.g., I only drink on weekends.) or even defended them (e.g., If you didn’t do what you do, I wouldn’t react the way I do.). Winston Churchill noted that we often stumble over the truth, but we quickly pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and hurry on our way. I strongly encourage you to stop and acknowledge the issues that repeatedly trip you up.

You may be able face and resolve your issues on your own, using methods such as introspection, meditation, or journaling. You might even be able to address the issues that arise in your relationship—with your partner’s help. However, if you have trouble facing an issue, or coming up with the means to handle it, you may want to seek the help of a counselor. It always makes sense to remove a rock from your shoe rather than limp along with it, but that’s especially true when the road ahead is likely to be rough and full of unknown twists and turns.

Step 3: Tell the truth

Your personal power comes through representing your true self in the world. Your power with others lies in their being able to count on you and to trust in you. Any lie diminishes your credibility in this world…nd it diminishes you. Tell the truth at all times, and under all conditions—without exception.

Step 4: Reduce your dependency

In a dependent relationship, another person (a lover, a parent, a child) appears to control the availability of something you desire. That desired thing can be almost anything, but most often it tends to be acceptance, love, or financial support. Dependency occurs when you surrender your own personal power and control in an attempt to obtain the thing you desire. Then, you and the other person both end up feeling bound, unfulfilled, and resentful.

The only way out of dependency is by becoming independent. You are independent when you are willing and able to make your own choices, regardless of the reactions and responses of others. Independence also requires being willing and able to stand alone on your own two feet (e.g., take care of yourself financially).

One of the best indicators of whether you are independent is whether you are willing to address issues that arise in your relationships. If you are reluctant to express the truth to a friend, a colleague, or a partner, you are probably in a dependent relationship. Your life will be very complicated if there are unexpressed negative feelings or unresolved issues present in your relationships. Say what you need to say and make certain you avoid the binding ties of dependency.

Step 5: Remain light-hearted

I saw the Dalai Lama when he visited Salt Lake a few years ago. He walked out on the stage, and everyone in the audience lit up. That didn’t happen because of his importance as a spiritual or political leader. It happened because he came out grinning so excitedly, waving so lovingly…ith his socks falling down. His lightheartedness was absolutely contagious. I know the Dalai Lama was fully aware of all of the suffering in the world. I’m also certain he was under tremendous pressure to meet with the crowds and deliver his teachings that day. Still, he remained exuberantly lighthearted. It didn’t diminish him one bit, and it elevated all the rest of us.

There is suffering in this world, and maybe even in you own life. According to Native prophecies, it’s likely there will be more. But, your anger, discouragement, and sadness will not diminish that suffering. It will only aggravate and amplify it. It will rob you and those around you of the possibility of perceiving the joy and love that exist right along side the suffering. Be the lightheartedness that brightens even the most difficult times.

* * * * *

Read Part II next week!  Read about Stephen C. Paul here.  We thank Stephen for his permission to use this article in its entirety.  You can read more by him at his website at circledancer.com.

   
   

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You want a better position than you now have in business, a better and
fuller place in life.  All right; think of that better place and you in it as
already existing.  Form the mental image.  Keep on thinking of that higher
position, keep the image constantly before you, and--no, you will not
suddenly be transported into the higher job, but you will find that you
are preparing yourself to occupy the better position in life--your body,
your energy, your understanding, your heart will all grow up to the job--
and when you are ready, after hard work, after perhaps years of
preparation, you will get the job and the higher place in life.

Joseph H. Appel

   
The Seventh Day
an excerpt
Matthew Kelly

The seventh day is an ancient tradition founded and based on our most human needs.  It is a Jewish tradition and a Christian tradition.  Other religious traditions also honor one day of the week as a day of worship and rest.  In this age that has not been kind to tradition, I believe there is a great need to embrace this wonderful, life-giving tradition of the seventh day.

The tradition of the Sabbath emerged from our legitimate need as human beings for rest.  The seventh day tradition upholds, protects, and ensures our legitimate need for rest and relaxation, for a change of pace, for time with family and friends, for time to turn toward the transcendental, and for time to renew our connection with God.  It is a tradition as relevant today as it was five thousand years ago.

The modern conception of life respects only action.  To be spending your time in a worthwhile manner, you must be doing or achieving something.  The crudest and most basic measure of this attitude is moneymaking.  This mind-set affects even the way we spend our recreation time.  People are so caught up in this obsession with action and activity, they feel they must be doing something constantly.  Prayer is an inner activity.  When you pray you take on the appearance of doing nothing.  And because the fruits, benefits, and rewards of prayer are internal, you appear to be achieving nothing.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Not every person with their eyes closed is asleep, and not every person with their eyes open can see. . . .

Everything happens according to the seasons.  Nature is based on certain cycles.  These cycles are the untapped power of our lives.  If a farmer plants the seed in the winter, will he or she have a crop in the spring?  No, they will have wasted time, effort, energy, and seed.  It is knowledge of the cycles, seasons, and rhythms of nature that makes a farmer successful.

Today, it is common knowledge and practice that a rested field yields a plentiful crop.  I wonder, the first time a farmer decided to let a field rest for a year, did his neighbors and friends say, "Oh, that's a clever idea"?  Absolutely not.  They laughed at him, made fun of him, talked about him behind his back, and thought he was crazy.  The next year, when he brought in his crop from that field, he had the last laugh.  The following year, when there were three or four fields resting, he smiled to himself with a gentle sense of quiet satisfaction.  Ten years later, when every farmer in the district was using the resting field method, he had become a legend.

The cycles of nature hold the untapped power of our lives, too.  As you begin to discover those cycles and live by them, your friends will think you are crazy for leaving the party early, or for passing up "an irresistible opportunity" at work, or for changing the way you spend your Sunday.  But over the weeks, months, and years ahead, as you bring the harvest of your life to be weighed, they will soon see that your way is better.  They will turn to it.  They too will begin to seek the rhythm of life.

The question becomes:  Are you prepared to give your health and happiness priority over your bank balance and your toy collection?  The rhythm of life should be a priority in our lives.  The seventh day as a day of rest is a very powerful tool in creating and maintaining the rhythm of life.  Acknowledge the wisdom behind the Sabbath tradition.  Use this day.  Accept this gift.  Allow this day of rest to regulate your week, to provide a macrorhythm for your life.

Do you ever feel that you just need a day off?  A day to relax, to be with family and friends, to do nothing at all, a day to take it easy?

Embrace the seventh day.  Allow yourself to be renewed and refreshed.  For thousands of years, wise men and women of every culture have been tapping into the power of the Sabbath, in one form or another, to maintain rhythm in their lives.  From this rest and reflection of the seventh day, we emerge with a keen sense of what our priorities are and return to our work and to the world rooted once again in our life principles.

There once lived a man whose name was Jude.  He was an apostle of Jesus Christ and was renowned throughout the region as a wise and deeply spiritual man.  People traveled great distances, venturing across foreign lands, to seek his advice and healing.

One day Jude was relaxing outside his hut when a hunter came by.  The hunter was surprised to see Jude relaxing and rebuffed him for loafing.  It was not the hunter's idea of what a holy man should be doing.

Jude recognized these thoughts running through the hunter's mind and also noticed that the man carried a bow for hunting.  "What is your occupation, sir?"

"I am a hunter," the man replied.

"Very good," Jude said.  "Bend your bow and shoot an arrow."  The man did so.  "Bend it again and shoot another arrow," said Jude.

The hunter did so, again and again.  Finally he complained, "Father, if I keep my bow always stretched, it will break."

"Very good, my child," Jude replied.  "So it is with me and all people.  If we push ourselves beyond measure, we will break.  It is good and right from time to time to relax and re-create ourselves."

If you don't break from the tensions of daily living, they will break you. . . .

There is an art to slowing down.  In our busy world it is not easy to master this art, but it is necessary.  Our lives have a habit of gathering a momentum of their own, plunging forward, with or without our consent.  Learn to slow down and access life.  Take your foot off the accelerator and look about and within.

Slow down.  Breathe deeply.  Reflect deeply.  Pray deeply.  Live deeply.  Otherwise you will spend your life feeling like a bulldozer chasing butterflies or a sparrow in a hurricane.
  
      

Matthew Kelly, the charismatic minister, speaker and best-selling author from down under, wants you to live life out loud and on purpose.  In this expanded version of The Rhythm of Life he syntheses Christian theology, cognitive psychology and storytelling to unpack the paradox of being happy.  As Kelly explains, "We want to be happy.  We know what makes us happy.  But we don't do those things--because we are busy trying to be happy."  So here's the gospel according to Kelly:  Find a life-changing rhythm by choosing a central purpose and becoming "the best version of yourself."

   

  

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Life is a series of choices and as all ideas in this manifested universe are divided as opposites, we can choose the negative ego approach or the positive spiritual approach. . . . From the negative ego approach we learn that we will suffer until we balance our actions and bring our lives into harmony with the laws that govern the universe.  This is called the law of hard knocks or karma.  With the positive spiritual approach we choose to live in obedience to God's will, to live in harmony with universal laws without being pushed into it.  This can be called the school of grace.

Cheryl Canfield

  
Beauty is an all-pervading presence. It unfolds to the numberless flowers of the Spring; it waves in the branches of the trees and in the green blades of grass; it haunts the depths of the earth and the sea, and gleams out in the hues of the shell and the precious stone.

And not only these minute objects, but the ocean, the mountains, the clouds, the heavens, the stars, the rising and the setting sun all overflow with beauty. The universe is its temple; and those people who are alive to it can not lift their eyes without feeling themselves encompassed with it on every side.


Now, this beauty is so precious, the enjoyment it gives so refined and pure, so congenial without tenderest and noblest feelings, and so akin to worship, that it is painful to think of the multitude of people as living in the midst of it, and living almost as blind to it as if, instead of this fair earth and glorious sky, they were tenants of a dungeon.


An infinite joy is lost to the world by the want of culture of this spiritual endowment. The greatest truths are wronged if not linked with beauty, and they win their way most surely and deeply into the soul when arrayed in this their natural and fit attire.


William Ellery Channing
   
  

It's good to have money and the things that money can buy;
but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure
that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy.

George Horace Lorimer

    

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