26 April  2016      

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 The Power of Forgiveness
Michael Wickett

 Nourishing Awareness in Each Moment
Thich Nhat Hanh

The Most Important Meetings
Denis Waitley

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I suspect that the happiest people you know are the ones who work at being kind, helpful, and reliable--and happiness sneaks into their lives while they are busy doing these things.  It is a by-product, never a primary goal.

Harold S. Kushner

I hope never to feel completely fulfilled because then the point of the journey would be destroyed.  You have got to have curiosity, hunger, and slight anxiety.

Joanna Trollope

The ultimate lesson we all have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.

Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross

  

The Power of Forgiveness
Michael Wickett

James Allen once said, “People are anxious to improve their circumstances, but they’re unwilling to improve themselves; therefore, they remain bound.”  Now, if we want to have different circumstances, if we want to experience prosperity, loving relationships, peace, and joy inside, we’ve got to go inside and unbound ourselves and drop whatever is blocking our personal power. What I am talking about is the power of forgiveness.   

It isn’t always easy to forgive others because of what they did.  The ego makes a very strong case against them. And it builds up all of the reasons why they were so awful and why we’re going to resent them forever.  Did you know your ego will ruin your life?  And the world is filled with people who would rather be right than happy.  Some will go to their grave clinging to the idea that they would rather be right than happy, at least in their own mind.  Now is that what you want? 

There’s a beautiful old saying that the only wealth is life.  Sometimes it seems that only animals know we’re actually here to be happy.  So let’s please think about releasing old baggage. Let’s let go of the past. And I know that sometimes people do things that seem terrible and totally unacceptable.  There are some incredible things that go on in our society, cruelty and thoughtlessness, and I’m not suggesting it’s easy.  I’m saying it’s necessary if we want to be happy and empowered people.  We clean up the past because an unfinished past leads to an unfinished future. 

What follows is a powerful story of just what I am saying here, in action. It’s not an easy story to read by any stretch of the imagination, but I pray it inspires you.   

Sunday afternoons down in rural Kentucky, Tommy Pigage goes to church with a couple who could almost be considered step-parents, Frank and Elizabeth Morris.  He’s like an adopted son to them.  And after church they go out to eat. They go roller-skating on Thursday, and on the weekends they bowl together.  Tommy’s around a lot, even though he doesn’t live with them.  And not too long ago they had a beautiful luau for lots of friends at their Kentucky home, and Tommy spent a lot of time helping them prepare it. 

They have a very unusual relationship.  He’s not their real son; as I said, he’s kind of an adopted son.  Their real son, Ted Morris, two nights before Christmas, 1982, was on his way home while Tommy Pigage was at a party, drunk, making a fool of himself. His drinking had gotten out of control.  He left the party stone-drunk and blacked out at the wheel and hit 18-year-old Ted Morris head-on.  And he killed the only child of Frank and Elizabeth Morris. 

They had never heard the name Tommy Pigage until a couple of days later at the police station when they got the report.  And they dug out a yearbook; they wanted to see what he looked like.  They wanted to see everything about him.  Frank Morris said, “I saw him. He had long hair and he looked like a punk.  I hated the sight of him.  Of course there was no way I was going to like him.”  He took away their only son.  Ted was the opposite of Tommy.  Ted was a bright, polite, clean-cut kid who was a scholarship student.  Tommy was a drifter and a drunk from a broken home. 

Two weeks after the accident at the court hearing, Elizabeth saw him for the first time.  Her legs were trembling, and she felt rage when she saw the boy who killed their only son.  He got a 10-year sentence, which was suspended, and he was on probation for two years.  He had to attend counseling, and he had to spend every other weekend in jail.  He also had to submit to an alcoholism test, and if he was found to be drunk again, he would go back to jail.  And Elizabeth admitted that she wanted to see him dead, in the grave, just like her boy. 

Several months later Tommy Pigage was speaking at a MADD meeting, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  And unbeknownst to Tommy, Elizabeth was in the back of the room, and she was waiting to hear what his story was going to be, still enraged, still hating him, wanting to see him dead.  And Tommy got up there, and he admitted that he had killed Ted Morris.  He admitted that his alcoholism was out of control.  He said that he felt horrible for the anguish that he had caused them.  He said he cried all the time, day and night.  And Elizabeth was not prepared for that at all. She began to feel empathy for him. It was difficult.  

When the meeting was over, she walked up to him and she reached out, and he thought she was going to slap him.  She put her hand on his arm and said, “Tommy, I want to acknowledge that it took a lot of courage to stand up here and say what you said.”  And as she left, he started to cry.  Days later, she couldn’t get him out of her mind.  She found out that he was from a broken home and he had nobody to love him and he had no direction and he had problems all of his life. 

A short time later he was drunk again, and so he went to jail for three months.  His most frequent visitor in jail was Elizabeth.  She started to look upon him like a son.  She started to feel nurturing toward this boy because she realized he was a human being who’d made a terrible mistake and she wanted to be someone who would love him.  Her husband Frank would not hear of it.  Her husband Frank thought she was crazy because he hated that boy and he wanted that boy to get his due and he wanted that boy dead.  And I think any of us could understand that. 

Well, over a period of time she developed a bond with Tommy.  And then she brought Frank in.  And little by little they started to connect.  Tommy started to read the Bible.  He wanted to change his life.  And one day he said, “I would like to be baptized.”  And Frank said, “All right, we’ll go with you.”  And they were there when he was baptized.  After the ceremony, Tommy, with tears in his eyes, looked at Frank and said, “Do you forgive me?”  What seemed like an eternity passed. And Frank said, “Yes.  I forgive you, Tommy.”  And after that, they kind of adopted him.  He calls them every day between four and five.  Elizabeth said she would miss it if Tommy didn’t call.  He’s become like step-son.

Now, he doesn’t replace their son Ted, their only child who died.  His bedroom remains exactly the way it was the night that he died.  He blew up a beach ball that night, and the beach ball 11 years later still sits on the bed.  Elizabeth won’t let anybody touch the room.  So he’s not a replacement for her son, and nothing would ever bring her son back, but they’ve developed a loving bond.  The story was so powerful there was a book written about it, and they were on many talk shows because it was one of the greatest acts of forgiveness that anyone had ever heard. 

Now I know it isn’t always easy to let go of the grudge, of the resentment, of the anger for what somebody did.  But you might want to think about the payoff.  When Elizabeth was interviewed, incredibly, she said, “The hatred was eating at me like a cancer. Now I can be happy and I can really live.”  And that’s what made such an impact on me.  It’s not a right or wrong issue; it’s the law of cause and effect.  When I talk about being a happy, empowered person, many times forgiveness is the bottom line.  It may be the single most challenging thing to do, but it’s the most necessary, and it just opens up your world. 

Many people have been through the long dark night of the soul.  Have you known some dark moments?  There’s a beautiful Chinese proverb that says, “Don’t curse the darkness.  Light a candle.”  Why don’t you be big enough to stand up and reach out to that other person?  Why don’t you be big enough to stand up and forgive?  It takes a lot of courage to do it.  It’s an incredible gift we give to ourselves because it releases our personal power and it literally sets us free. 

Dale Carnegie once said, “If half a century of living has taught me anything at all, it’s taught me that nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”  There’s no peace in the world.  There’s no peace that just “fixes” people.  It’s tough to change. It’s especially tough to change dramatically.  People are creatures of habit at a very deep level.  Peace is inside of us, and as we create peace inside of us in a very beautiful way, our life becomes peaceful and love and support comes back to us.  I can not explain how it happens but I’ve experienced it, and I’ve seen it lives of other people.  We release all that beautiful, powerful living when we forgive.

Charles Dickens once said, “We forge the chains we wear in life.”  And if you want to let go of your chains, then you want to let go of your judgments and your anger and your resentments.  Regardless of what others did, it’s too expensive to you. 

Forgiveness isn’t always easy, but it is essential.  It sets us free;  it opens up whole new possibilities.  Extraordinary and wonderful things can happen when we forgive and make peace with our past.  I’d like to give you some action steps that you can use if you feel as if you need to forgive, if this has touched you in a way that you know something like this needs to be done to release your own personal power.   

Number one, make a forgiveness list of all the people who’ve harmed you, and write down the specific thing the person did.  I forgive my mother for being critical.  I forgive the coach or the teacher at school, and tell what that person did.  And keep writing them and writing them until you feel the peace.  It might be a couple of days, a couple of weeks, even a couple of months.  It’s essential, however long it might take. 

Number two, write a letter to them and get all of your feelings out. Write a letter to your mom or your dad, your former spouse, your former spouse’s attorney. And write down your anger and resentment and what hurt you and what was awful and swear and rant and rave and do everything you need and then, most importantly, don’t mail the letter!  You read correctly; don’t mail the letter!  This isn’t about getting back at them; it’s for you. Forgiveness is not for them; it’s getting the baggage out of your life. 

And then number three, totally forgive yourself for anything you ever did or neglected to do.  Start writing forgiveness statements for yourself and let yourself off the hook.  Like everybody else, we did the best we could with the awareness and the self-esteem we had.  It’s time to take ourselves off the hook.  That’s every bit as much as hating somebody else or resenting somebody else.  So, please forgive yourself. 

And then if there’s anybody that you have a hard time forgiving, send a blessing of love to them.  Say out loud, “I send a blessing of love to you.”   And the payoff is freedom.  The payoff is real personal power.  The payoff is a wonderful life. 

There are no solutions in the outer world, only inside of us.  I have found that acts of forgiveness and the act of dropping the judgments and the blames and the anger is simply life-changing.  And I do it along the way whenever it becomes necessary. 

A.J. Muste once said, “There is no way to peace.  Peace is the way.”  Let’s go out there and let’s do whatever it takes to be at peace so that we can release our personal power and have the wonderful and glorious lives we so richly deserve.

   

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Nourishing Awareness in Each Moment (an excerpt)
Thich Nhat Hanh

One cold, winter evening I returned home from a walk in the hills, and I found that all the doors and windows in my hermitage had blown open.  When I had left earlier, I hadn't secured them, and a cold wind had blown through the house, opened the windows, and scattered the papers from my desk all over the room.  Immediately, I closed the doors and windows, lit a lamp, picked up the papers, and arranged them neatly on my desk.  Then I started a fire in the fireplace, and soon the crackling logs brought warmth back to the room.

Sometimes in a crowd we feel tired, cold, and lonely.  We may wish to withdraw to be by ourselves and become warm again, as I did when I closed the windows and sat by the fire, protected from the damp, cold wind.  Our senses are our windows to the world, and sometimes the wind blows through them and disturbs everything within us.  Some of us leave our windows open all the time, allowing the sights and sounds of the world to invade us, penetrate us, and expose our sad, troubled selves.  We feel so cold, lonely, and afraid.  Do you ever find yourself watching an awful TV program, unable to turn it off?  The raucous noises, explosions of gunfire, are upsetting.  Yet you don't get up and turn it off.  Why do you torture yourself in this way?  Don't you want to close your windows?  Are you frightened of solitude--the emptiness and the loneliness you may find when you face yourself alone?

Watching a bad TV program, we become the TV program.  We are what we feel and perceive.  If we are angry, we are the anger.  If we are in love, we are love.  If we look at a snow-covered mountain peak, we are the mountain.  We can be anything we want, so why do we open our windows to bad TV programs made by sensationalist producers in search of easy money, programs that make our hearts pound, our fists tighten, and leave us exhausted?  Who allows such TV programs to be made and seen by even the very young?  We do!  We are too undemanding, too ready to watch whatever is on the screen, too lonely, lazy, or bored to create our own lives.  We turn on the TV and leave it on, allowing someone else to guide us, shape us, and destroy us.  Losing ourselves in this way is leaving our fate in the hands of others who may not be acting responsibly.  We must be aware of which programs do harm to our nervous systems, minds, and hearts, and which programs benefit us.

Of course, I am not talking only about television.  All around us, how many lures are set by our fellows and ourselves?  In a single day, how many times do we become lost and scattered because of them?  We must be very careful to protect our fate and our peace.  I am not suggesting that we just shut all our windows, for there are many miracles in the world we call "outside."  We can open our windows to these miracles and look at anyone of them with awareness.  This way, even while sitting beside a clear, flowing stream, listening to beautiful music, or watching an excellent movie, we need not lose ourselves entirely in the stream, the music, or the film.  We can continue to be aware of ourselves and our breathing.  With the sun of awareness shining in us, we can avoid most dangers.  The stream will be purer, the music more harmonious, and the soul of the filmmaker completely visible.

We may want to leave the city and go off to the countryside to help close those windows that trouble our spirit.  There we can become one with the quiet forest, and rediscover and restore ourselves, without being swept away by the chaos of the "outside world."  The fresh and silent woods help us remain in awareness, and when our awareness is well-rooted and we can maintain it without faltering, we may wish to return to the city and remain there, less troubled.  But sometimes we cannot leave the city, and we have to find the refreshing and peaceful elements that can heal us right in the midst of our busy lives.  We may wish to visit a good friend who can comfort us, or go for a walk in a park and enjoy the trees and the cool breeze.  Whether we are in the city, the countryside, or the wilderness, we need to sustain ourselves by choosing our surroundings carefully and nourishing our awareness in each moment.
  
  

Nhat Hanh shows how to be aware of relationships with others and of the world around us, its beauty and also its pollution and injustices. Through deceptively simple practices, Peace Is Every Step encourages the reader to work for peace in the world as he or she continues to work on sustaining inner peace by turning the "mindless" into the mindful. Peace Is Every Step is a useful, and necessary, addition to any Buddhist studies or self-help reference shelf.

   

   

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To the ordinary man or woman, it seems a hopeless task to influence the policy
of the government.  But to express the desire for peace effectively, it is essential
to show that, whatever the nominal issue, you will oppose any and every war that
the folly of governments may be tempted to provoke. Nothing less drastic can be
expected to stand firm against the excitement which the approach of war invariably
produces.  If the friends of peace are to be politically effective, they must be unwilling
to listen to arguments tending to show that this war is unlike all other wars, that all the
guilt is on the other side, or that the millennium will come if our side is victorious.
These things have always been said at the outbreak of a war, and have always been false.

Bertrand Russell

   
The Most Important Meetings You'll Ever Attend
Are the Meetings You Have With Yourself

Denis Waitley

You are your most important critic.  There is no opinion so vitally important to your well being as the opinion you have of yourself.  As you read this you're talking to yourself right now.  "Let's see if I understand what he means by that... How does that compare with my experiences? - I'll make note of that - try that tomorrow - I already knew that... I already do that."  I believe this self-talk, this psycholinguistics or language of the mind can be controlled to work for us, especially in the building of self-confidence and creativity.  We're all talking to ourselves every moment of our lives, except during certain portions of our sleeping cycle. We're seldom even aware that we're doing it.  We all have a running commentary in our heads on events and our reactions to them.

- Be aware of the silent conversation you have with yourself.  Are you a nurturing coach or a critic?  Do you reinforce your own success or negate it?  Are you comfortable saying to yourself, "That's more like it".  "Now we're in the groove."  "Things are working out well."  "I am reaching my financial goals."  "I'll do it better next time."

- When winners fail, they view it as a temporary inconvenience, a learning experience, an isolated event and a stepping-stone instead of a stumbling block.

- When winners succeed, they reinforce that success, by feeling rewarded rather than guilty about the achievement and the applause.

- When winners are paid a compliment, they simply respond:  "Thank you."  They accept value graciously when it is paid.  They pay value in their conversations with themselves and with other people.

A mark of an individual with healthy self-esteem is the ability to spend time alone, without constantly needing other people around.  Being comfortable and enjoying solitary time reveals inner peace and centering.  People who constantly need stimulation or conversation with others are often a bit insecure and thus need to be propped up by the company of others.

Always greet the people you meet with a smile.  When introducing yourself in any new association, take the initiative to volunteer your own name first, clearly; and always extend your hand first, looking the person in the eyes when you speak.

In all your telephone communications, answer the telephone pleasantly, immediately giving your own name to the caller, before you ask who's calling.  Whenever you initiate a call, always give your own name up front, before you ask for the party you want and before you state your business.  Leading with your own name underscores that a person of value is making the call.

Don't brag.  People who trumpet their exploits and shout for service are actually calling for help.  The showoffs, braggarts and blowhards are desperate for attention.

Don't tell your problems to people, unless they're directly involved with the solutions.  And don't make excuses.  Successful people seek those who look and sound like success.  Always talk affirmatively about the progress you are trying to make.

As we said earlier, find successful role models after whom you can pattern yourself.  When you meet a mastermind, become a master mime, and learn all you can about how he or she succeeded.  This is especially true with things you fear.  Find someone who has conquered what you fear and learn from him or her.

When you make a mistake in life, or get ridiculed or rejected, look at mistakes as detours on the road to success, and view ridicule as ignorance.  After a rejection, take a look at your BAG.  B is for Blessings.  Things you are endowed with that you often take for granted like life itself, health, living in an abundant country, family, friends, career.  A is for accomplishments.  Think of the many things you are proud of that you have done so far. And G is for Goals.  Think of your big dreams and plans for the future that motivate you.  If you took your BAG - blessings, accomplishments and goals - to a party, and spread them on the floor, in comparison to all your friends and the people you admire, you'd take your own bag home, realizing that you have as much going for yourself as anyone else.  Always view rejection as part of one performance, not as a turndown of the performer.

And, enjoy those special meetings with yourself.  Spend this Saturday doing something you really want to do.  I don't mean next month or someday.  This Saturday enjoy being alive and being able to do it.  You deserve it.  There will never be another you.  This Saturday will be spent.  Why not spend at least one day a week on You?!

Action Idea:  Go for one entire day and night without saying anything negative to yourself or to others.  Make a game of it.  If a friend or colleague catches you saying something negative, you must put a dollar in a drawer or container toward a dinner or evening out with that person.  Do this for one month and see who has had to pay the most money toward the evening.

Reprinted with permission from Jim Rohn's Weekly E-zine.

   

  

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One of the ways in which we become dangerous to others is to assume that our role or our expertise has in it such an inherent capacity for good that we, occupying that role, can do no harm.  There is no role that absolves us of the responsibility to listen, to be mindful that life is all around us, touching us.

Rachel Naomi Remen

  
An excerpt from Three Cavaliers:

     “That was my first death.”
     Jason wasn’t sure what Hector meant.  It seemed obvious, but there was something in the way that Hector had had spoken the words that made the obvious explanation seem insufficient.  “Do you mean that was the first death you experienced in your life?” Jason asked.
     “No.  I mean that it was the first time I died.”
     Jason thought it over for a moment.  “That doesn’t make any sense.”
     Hector looked over at Jason.  “Perhaps not,” he said simply.  “But perhaps it does.  I know that one day I was one person, but two weeks later I was a different person.  The Hector Gutierrez Sanchez that I was one day no longer was there the next.  I had all the same memories as that other person, and people who had known me before still recognized me as someone they knew, but I was not the same person.  The person I had been had died.”
     “I guess if you want to see it that way. . . .”
     “Tell me,” Hector said respectfully, “are you exactly the same person you were five years ago?  Two years ago?”
     “No, not at all.  I’ve learned things.  I’ve grown.  I’ve been developing as a person, I guess.  But yes—I’m still the same person.  I mean, I’m still in the same body and all.”
     “Perhaps you see it that way only because you wish to hold on to what you were.  Because you are afraid to let it go.  Perhaps you are frightened to let go of who you were because you are frightened of who you may become.”  Hector spoke matter-of-factly, with no hint of certainty that he was right, with no sign that he felt he was teaching Jason something.  He was making no effort to convince Jason that he was right, and that threw Jason off.  He didn’t know how to respond.  He was used to people telling him what they believed almost as if they wished to challenge him, and he was used to arguing his side, which he usually thought of almost immediately.  Here, though, there was no challenge, no need for him to jump to defend his own beliefs.  Rather, there almost seemed to be an invitation to think more deeply, to reflect upon the words that Hector had spoken and the thoughts they expressed.
     It made Jason very uncomfortable.

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Harriet Beecher Stowe

    

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