21 August 2018      

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An Urgent Wake-Up Call
Stephen C. Paul

An Excerpt from Letting Go
M
orrie Schwartz

Why Hurry?
tom walsh

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Love the moment and the energy of the moment will spread beyond all boundaries.

Corita Kent

If you keep on saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet.

Isaac Bashevis Singer

Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them.

Ann Landers

  

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 ever-increasing 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. . . and 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 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. . . and 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. . . with 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 light-hearted. 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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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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The people who are living on this planet need to break with the narrow
concept of human liberation, and begin to see liberation as something
that needs to be extended to the whole of the natural world.  What is
needed is the liberation of all things that support life--the air, the water,
the trees--all the things which support the sacred web of life.

from the Haudenosaunee address to the western world, 1977

   

 

Why Hurry?

One of the things that I'm most grateful for in life is having learned the trick of slowing down and enjoying my surroundings.  I learned early that it doesn't matter if I arrive ten minutes early, five minutes early, right on time, or even five minutes late--life goes on no matter when I arrive.  Much of what I learned comes from my time in Spain, where people tend to be much less focused on the clock and much more focused on their surroundings and the people in their lives.

I loved going to lunch with friends in Spain, because lunch usually lasted a couple of hours, most of which was spent sitting around the table, talking and enjoying each other's company.  There was no hurry to get to the end of the meal, no rush to finish dessert and go somewhere else and do something else.  I liked the fact that when people got together, they had made time for each other; it wasn't like making an appointment that has a specific beginning and ending time, as we so often do here in the states.  "Sure, I can do lunch, but I only have twenty-seven and a half minutes before I have to be somewhere else!"

Somewhere along the line, most of us have bought into the idea that we have to hurry to get where we're going.  I know plenty of people who rush through their mornings because they don't have enough time to get ready for work or school after they wake up.  My way of coping with that was to wake up earlier, and I could count on one hand the times I've had to rush in the mornings.  I like to start my day out relaxed because I know that how I start my day helps to determine how the whole day is going to go.  It means I go to bed a bit earlier than most people, but I'm fine with that.

   

I regret less the road not taken than
my all-fired hurry along the road I took.

Robert Brault

   
If I'm driving somewhere far away, I try never to have to be in a certain place at a certain time.  Most of that has to do with planning, and making sure I leave earlier if there is a certain time I have to be somewhere.  If I have to be somewhere that's 120 miles away and the speed limit is 60, I want at least two and a half hours.  On longer drives, I like to drive for a few hours and then stop and get a relaxed cup of coffee and something to eat, and perhaps even go for a short walk before getting back on the road.  If I'm rushed, I don't have the time to do this, and it gets to be very frustrating.  I don't like to spend tons of time on the road, but when I do I try not to hurry-- especially since so many road disasters happen when people are trying to hurry to where they're going.

Part of the problem is that once we have a destination in mind, all that we focus on is the getting there.  If my class starts at eight and I leave the house at 7:50, I'm going to get nothing out of the journey to class--it's just time that I pass, not time that has any value to me.

Long ago I developed the habit of getting to places very early.  If I have an eight o'clock class, I'll plan on getting there at 7:30, then having a cup of coffee before class just so that I can relax and prepare myself mentally for the class.  And if I'm getting there that early, there's no problem at all with stopping somewhere to watch a sunrise for a couple of minutes, or to talk with a friend I run into.
    

And to this day I wish I had lingered a week or so. . . . But
we stupid mortals, or most of us, are always in haste
to reach somewhere else, forgetting that the zest is in
the journey and not in the destination.

Ralph D. Paine

    
This habit of mine has been a wonderful stress reducer--I almost never get stressed about time at all.  I know people who constantly worry about the clock and about getting to certain places at certain times, but it's a feeling that I can no longer share.  The times when I have to rush somewhere are very rare, and I'm okay doing so every now and again as long as I don't have to do it regularly.

When I take my time, I enjoy my walk or my drive to work, I feel relaxed when I'm going to that meeting or that function.  There's enough to think about and even worry about without adding the stress of hurrying to the equation.  If I had a test in class, I would get there very early and spend the time reviewing the material, and that would be after a relaxing walk or ride to get there, and having plenty of time to find parking if necessary.

On another level, life is about processes, but when we hurry we tend to devalue and negate the processes.  The old saying, "take your time and do it right" has a lot of wisdom in it, but it's advice that we ignore pretty consistently.  If we have something to do by a certain time--a meal to make for a dinner, a project to finish for work, a favor to do for a friend--we often put it off for so long that when we finally get around to it, we have no choice but to hurry.  When this happens, there is none of the joy or exploration that could result from doing what we need to do.  We lose the opportunity to be creative because we have to hurry to do a three-hour job in just two hours, or a two-day task in just a day.
   

We are naturally reverent beings, but much of our natural reverence
has been torn away from us because we have been born into a world
that hurries.  There is no time to be reverent with the earth or with each
other.  We are all hurrying into progress.  And for all our hurrying
we lose sight of our true nature a little more each day.

Macrina Wiederkehr

   
There's much to be said for taking our time and doing things right, but also for taking our time and enjoying the journey and the process.  Sometimes it's important to say no to certain things if those things are going to cause us to hurry in other areas of our lives.  I was at a practice for a middle-school running club the other day, and after the run we had a great time standing around and talking and enjoying each other's company.  Except for the couple of carloads of people who had to take off early because they had to rush to their next commitment.  It was a shame that they missed out on one of the most enjoyable aspects of the practice.  Of course, it's possible that they don't enjoy spending time with other people, but that's a completely different story!

Take your time.  Do it right.  Enjoy the process and don't hurry through it, whether you're writing a poem or doing the dishes.  I get an awful lot out of doing dishes slowly and carefully--it's a meditative practice that helps me to stay centered, and I always make sure that I have enough time to do them carefully, especially since we're going to eat off those dishes again, and it's important that they be clean!

   
More on today.

   
   
  

   

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When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in its beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.   I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.  And I feel above me day-blind stars waiting for their light.  For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

  
Oren Lyons was the first Onandagan to enter college.  When he returned to his reservation for his first vacation, his uncle proposed a fishing trip on a lake.  Once he had his nephew in the middle of the lake where he wanted him, he began to interrogate him.  "Well, Oren," he said, "you've been to college; you must be pretty smart now from all they've been teaching you.  Let me ask you a question.  Who are you?"

Taken aback by the question, Oren fumbled for an answer.  "What do you mean, who am I?  Why, I'm your nephew, of course."  His uncle rejected his answer and repeated his question.  Successively, the nephew ventured that he was Oren Lyons, an Onandagan, a human being, a man, a young man, all to no avail.

When his uncle had reduced him to silence and he asked to be informed as to who he was, his uncle said, "Do you see that bluff over there?  Oren, you are that bluff.  And that giant pine on the other shore?  Oren, you are that pine.  And this water that supports our boat?  You are this water."

Huston Smith
   

  

When we are afraid of someone or something, it is because we do not feel
that particular person or thing is a part of us.  When we have established
conscious oneness with the Absolute, with the Infinite Vast, then
everything there is part of us.  And how can we be afraid of ourselves?

Sri Chinmoy

    

  

   

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