Love In The Present Moment

I’ve been wondering lately if it might be possible to find love and express love in everything I do.

I ask myself, is this what Yeshiwa (Jesus) and Buddha did? Is it what Mother Teresa, and Gandhi did? Does the Dalai Lama live this way?

When I ask myself this question, my first response is- no way!

No matter how spiritually connected I may feel at a given moment, I don’t think I could remain conscious enough to let love flow through me like this.

There are just too many triggers for me in life. I’m not even sure I could do this for thirty minutes straight. Could you? Could any but the most spiritually gifted among us?

So, I think to myself, maybe it would be a good idea to set my sights lower. Perhaps there might be a way to increase my awareness enough so that I could hold others gently in my heart and offer them some love, realizing that even if I couldn’t do it all the time, this would still be better.

But I suspect, even this would be very challenging, and this starts an inner dialogue. Part of me has already decided it is not possible to find or express love in every moment, so why try? This part of me is ready to let myself off the hook and I haven’t even begun.

Another part of me enters the conversation with this thought. If you only do the things that are easy, what will you ever accomplish in life. Are you not going to try? Are you that afraid of failure?

A third voice requests my attention. It’s quieter, but there is power in it. It asks me a simple question. What would it change for you if you could find and express love in all that you do?

I hear snickers in the background from the first two voices and then silence.

There is a peaceful momentary pause, giving me a chance to respond. Well, I thought, it could change everything for me.

I would be able to lighten up, to release my fears, to draw others into my world, to smile with ease, to open my heart, to give, to graciously receive, to hug with my whole being. A list flows out of me. A truly wonderful list. I can feel its presence and its power.

The first voice returns and speaks loudly, sure, this sounds very nice, but how do we get from (here) where we are to (there) where we want to be? Do we have to put on rose-colored glasses first?

The third voice takes no offense and offers soothing words and a question. Do you like treasure hunts?

We ask the third voice, where did that come from? It waits patiently until we answer.

Well, yes, we do.

Wonderful it responds. I want to share a secret with you. You knew it at one time, but have forgotten, so let me remind you.

One of the most beautiful things about this world is that we’ve hidden treasure everywhere.  Every single experience you will encounter throughout your life has treasure in it. Some lie on the surface and are easy to spot. Others are buried deeply and may require you to dig to find them. But each one of them is worth pursuing. They may at first seem dusty, but each will sparkle and shine once you polish them.

How do we find them we asked?

You find them by opening your heart and expressing love. The more you do this, the greater the love you will experience. It’s up to you and what you choose. Choose wisely, my love.

All the voices quieted but one.

I want to try, it said.

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Giving Up Sympathy for Myself

When I began writing these posts in October 2020, I felt it would be very important for me to be as honest as I could. I’m not sure if I always am, because we so often tend to fool ourselves. We think one thing but feel another. Which is the truth?

I was struck with a thought lately having to do with how I make my way through an illness or challenge I’m having. It occurred to me that I feel a need for sympathy. Not only my own, but from others as well.

An internal quote materialized out of nowhere.

“The more you are willing to give up your need for sympathy from others, the more easily you’ll be able to accept that all things serve you, even the ones that don’t appear to. Perhaps, especially those.”

Wow, I thought, there’s a lot of meat in that statement.

I sensed two enormous ideas emerge.

One, that everything serves me. I’ve spent a great deal of time considering this with my head only to fall short of understanding it. My head says this couldn’t possibly be true because its view is narrow. It only looks at the present so, of course whatever problem I’m having seems unfortunate to me and I want to dispense with it as soon as possible.

However, when I engage my heart, the meaning becomes clear, or at least clearer. My heart sees into the distance. It waits and watches and connects the dots so that a whole picture is revealed. Once this happens, I can see that what first seemed to be an insurmountable challenge, is actually a powerful message to me. A message that creates clarity and helps guide my thoughts and actions in the future.

The second idea is potent for me. Perhaps others don’t rely on sympathy, but I’ve come to realize that I do.

Feeling that I need the sympathy of others is a huge crutch for me and it prevents me from seeing any depth or from moving on. It makes it difficult to shift and recognize any insights.

The NEED for sympathy becomes my focus and commands my attention, leaving no resources available to me for deciding what would better serve me.

I have to force myself to stop and ask, “what do you want most?”

Part of me responds that I want sympathy from others. It feels good. And yet, I recognize that it is only momentarily satisfying, leaving me unfilled and wanting more.

Another part of me takes a different approach and understands that what I truly desire most is to connect as deeply as possible with the divine inside of me. It knows that every time I focus on soliciting for and accepting sympathy from others, or from myself, there will be a delay in connecting with my heart and my spirit.

I have to decide what is most important to me.

Choosing can be a hard thing to do and I am not always capable of selecting the most beneficial response to the situations I encounter. Maybe this happens to you too.

For now, I’ve decided to give up sympathy for myself and look deeper into the experience so that I can discover the hidden gifts and messages. And I want there to be free space available for me to store the new treasures I find.

I’m pretty sure there will be times I succumb to the charms of seeking sympathy for myself, but my heart feels open and ready to look elsewhere now.

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Never Mind

“Never mind.”

Have you heard these words before? I certainly have and I suspect you have too.

I’ve heard them most often when used to cancel out a request that’s been made. An individual has asked a question or expressed a need for help. If the question isn’t answered quickly enough or the plea for help is ignored, ‘never mind’ can be uttered with some passion and anger. The subtext is a kind of, ‘thanks anyway!’, and the person who asked the question or needed some help usually walks away frustrated.

It also happens that ‘never mind’ is used more softly. At times an individual will request something, but realize they are capable of filling their own need or rethink the importance of their request. Saying ‘never mind’ is their release of need, both for the one they asked and for themselves. It is often accompanied with a shrug or a little laugh, as if to say, ‘sorry to trouble you.’

It is interesting to me that we can use the same expression to mean two very different things. I’m pretty sure there are a ton of examples that fit this description.

Beyond these two examples, I’ve thought of three other interpretations I’d like to share.

First, I want to tell you how this post came about. These two words popped into my head and I just knew they needed to be the subject of a POST. I knew nothing beyond that. I stared at a blank page in my notebook and said to myself, ‘let’s just see what happens’. I’m telling you this because it represents a state of being I encourage, where you let go and trust there is wisdom to fill the void.

And, I want to tell you, there is always wisdom to fill the void.

What about ‘never mind’ meaning that it is okay to be open and to accept what comes your way, knowing you are loved and cared for by the divine universe (you choose the name you like best for the divine universe). Whether it is a less than desirable grade on a test, a bump in your fender, a perceived sense of disrespect or anything else that makes you feel less.

Or the slight variation of ‘never mind’ meaning that you allow everything to be as it is, without having to control it. A kind of ‘never mind’ freedom. So, when others don’t act as you would prefer or say the things you don’t want to hear, you release whatever sting of pain their words or actions might have created in you.

Here’s my last one.

What if ‘never mind’ became a suggestion to shift where you live your life from. So, the expression would read, ‘never mind (first)’.

What if you lived your life from your ‘heart’ first, instead of your ‘mind’? What would that be like?

This idea is not to suggest that your ‘mind’ doesn’t play a significant role in your life. It does. It has to. But, is it first?

What comes to me is this question.

Where is my best life going to come from?

My answer is, ‘never mind’, but rather from ‘my heart’. How about you?

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Forgiveness

I’ve spoken with a lot of people over my sixty-eight years. One of the most common themes I’ve heard is the sense folks have of being out of balance. Things are going along nicely and then, poof, something happens to change them.

Often, as the stories unfold, a disagreement has occurred. Sometimes it’s small or seemingly insignificant. But, at times, the issue creates a major flare up. And when a resolution to the issue doesn’t happen quickly, everything can unravel.

When each side feels that their opinion is worth more and that they should not have to give in, a distance occurs. Closing this gap and restoring harmony requires a degree of openness, a willingness to listen and a belief that common ground can be found.

Forgiveness can become the key, allowing each person to release the thought that there is only one right path. Hearts can be opened to see other directions so that new possibilities can become visible.

I want to offer two consecutive posts about forgiveness because I feel it is so important.

Many years ago, a friend of mine was having an extraordinarily difficult time forgiving an important person in their life. They asked me if I had any suggestions. My response to them came by way of a story. And, this story became the first chapter in my Little Buddha book series.

A man, Sam, asks Claire, a young six-year-old girl he’s met on the beach if she can help him understand how to forgive others. She’s shown her wisdom to him, enough so that he feels he can risk asking her this.

This is her response to him.

 “Imagine (pointing to the pail beside her) that my bucket is you. It’s everything you think and feel and experience during your life. Imagine that everything that is within you- YOU chose to put there. Nothing got in without your choosing. Nothing. Whether conscious or not, every thought, feeling, idea, reaction and prejudice. Every cruel word, every kind gesture, every act of faith, every indifference, everything. Imagine that each of these things takes up space, just like the grains of sand in my bucket. Once it’s full it’s very hard to find any space for anything, no matter how valuable or important. There are ways you can empty part of your bucket if you choose. One way is forgiveness. But first you have to imagine one more thing. Can you imagine that everyone else here is just like you? They’ve lived their lives filling their buckets and sometimes they don’t have any space left either. They’re doing the best they can with what weighs them down. In their hearts, they too wish to be free and to have open space to experience more of the beautiful things in life. But they too don’t know how. They probably sense it, dream about it and desperately want it just like you do. This is very important to know. To forgive anyone anything, requires YOU make a conscious choice. No one else can do it for you.” She eyed (Sam) carefully, “now bring to mind something which begs forgiveness. Feel the space it holds within you. The weight of it, the size, color and dimension. Imagine knowing it needn’t exist and that you can fill its space with something beautiful. Now, close your eyes. Welcome it in. Let it rest in front of you. Believe that it has served its full purpose for you, but does so no longer. Look inside your heart and allow love and compassion to open within. Breathe easily. Smile for a moment. Know that no matter what, this decision is up to you and no one else. Picture your love and compassion surrounding you and the focus of your forgiveness. Now, allow it to fade and fade and fade until it disappears. Breathe and feel the space inside you open. Feel the sunshine enter you and the air move around you. Listen for the sound of your own being. Sense the room created inside of you, now open for that which does serve you. For beauty. For wholeness.”

More to come.

Information about Little Buddha Book One, Two and Three is available by clicking on BOOKS and scrolling down.

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Heaven

Several years ago, I was attending a workshop at the Kripalu Retreat Center in Lenox, Massachusetts. Prior to beginning one of our class exercises, we went into meditation. Instantly, I was transported. Even though I was sitting among my classmates, I was as far away from them as I could possibly imagine.

I want to share my experience with you and the poem that formed inside me, because it brings us to the heart of a question I believe almost everyone has asked themselves at one time or another. Actually, maybe even more than one time.

Is there really a ‘heaven’?

Despite how you may have been brought up, you’ve probably heard many different opinions expressed about the nature and reality of heaven. And I suspect, about the uncertainty of whether there is such a thing. After all, what conclusive proof can anyone offer you?

In the end, it seems to become a matter of belief. But where does one’s belief come from? Do we accept what we are told by some religious or spiritual group? Or perhaps we favor a scientific approach or we seek an answer from some special faction within society?

Interestingly, I’ve been asked about my belief about heaven on many occasions. What I have to say usually comes as quite a surprise to those who ask.

I want to preface what I have to tell you by saying I honor everyone’s decisions and recognize it is always up to each of us what we choose to accept.

For me, I feel really ‘nudged’ to share what feels like the truth to me, because it’s changed the way I view everything. And maybe it will open a doorway for you, one that creates beauty and wonder and new possibilities.

When you read the poem, I’d like to ask a favor of you. I’d like you to place yourself within the poem, seeing and feeling everything that is being described as if it was happening personally to you. Imagine opening your heart fully and giving permission to (god) and to your spirit guides to come and be with you.

If you have someone who can read the poem out loud to you, that’s ideal because it allows you to stay in the moment. If no one is available to read the poem to you, I suggest that you read one line at a time, pausing to feel into the experience before moving on to the next line.

And now, the poem.

Admitted to Heaven

During my meditation, I gave permission to all of my spiritual guides to come and stand behind me,

Immediately, guides were there, then there were hordes of them, pushing and shoving to stand around me,

A great crowd arrived, and one of the beings said to another, “they’re emptying heaven to stand behind him”, and still more came,

I was crying so hard now, and they lifted me up, and held me over their heads effortlessly on hands of light, and passed me around, as if I weighed no more than a feather,

It was the most beautiful thing,

And I heard many shouting, “He’s back, come see, he’s back”, and heaven lit up,

And I could feel it, they all loved me, truly loved me, an overwhelming love, so beautiful, I never wanted to leave,

I asked, “Can I come home any time I want to?”, “Yes,” they all said.

I have so much more to say, so I’ll continue with more heaven in my next post.

I hope to see you then.

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Kindness

Here’s an opportunity to try something new. To open a door in your world and see where it leads. What beautiful shift might occur in your outlook if you allowed yourself some freedom. Freedom to explore some new spiritual practices. Ones that appeal to you and offer hope and excitement and a sense of connection, perhaps to an inner part of you or perhaps to what you think of when you hear the word, ‘divine’.

Ready? I’m going to assume that you said ‘yes’, and I’ll keep going.

Although there are literally hundreds of directions we could go, let’s take just one step and see what happens.

Spiritual practices offer us every possible direction, so we can go inside or stay outside. For this exercise, let’s do both at the same time.

It will be fun. I promise.

So here it is…spend a little time and create an “intentional act of kindness plan” for the next seven days. I say, “intentional”, rather than the more common term of “random”, because I believe the creation of a plan IS “intentional”. You’re doing it “on purpose”, not with a specific idea of how it will turn out, but because you want to be present and somewhat purposeful.

I’m going to suggest that you start out with creating ideas. What acts of kindness come to your mind. Just let them pop into your head and write down a bunch of ideas that appeal to you. Once you have them captured, say each one out loud and see which ones your heart is drawn to.  Make a list of 3-5 ideas (or more) that you want to put into practice during this week.

Once you have your list, imagine what you need in order to perform these acts of “intentional kindness”. Remember that they can cost you nothing or something. That part is entirely up to you.

How are you going to create some magic for someone else? Who will it be? When will you do these things? Plan it out a bit, but not too much. This isn’t intended to be a chore for you. It’s not another “to do” item, but rather an overflowing from the joy that lives inside of you, now and what is to come.

Okay, so now you have your plan.

One more thing. I’m going to suggest that you perform some acts of kindness anonymously and some where the person you’re doing this for knows that it is you. I’m very curious to know if that changes anything about the experience for you, so I’m going to ask you, if you are willing, to record your feelings about each one of the “intentional acts” you perform. That’s really a big part of this exercise.

That ought to be enough to get you started.

I would like to share with you that for my sixty-third birthday I performed 63 intentional acts of kindness. It was an amazing adventure. I learned so much about myself throughout the process, which actually took me all month to complete.

I was constantly surprised, amused and overjoyed by my experience. I found deep connections are always within reach, as long as I was willing to take one simple step.

I wish you well on this journey and would love to hear whatever you care to share.

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Worthiness

Do you seem to have an endless list of things to do and not enough time to do them? Even the most important ones?

There’s probably some club you could join where everyone feels this way. Of course, it’s likely you wouldn’t have time to go to any of the meetings.

I could be in this club.

I have a TO DO list almost a mile long and as soon as I start to feel I’m getting ahead, I add new things to it. Most of the time I add more than I complete.

I asked myself recently how I felt about this. The answer was, burdened.

My thinking mind said, ‘but there’s so much to do and we need to get it done. We have to organize and prioritize. We can do this, we just need to make some adjustments. Let’s identify ways to handle this.’

My thinking mind set about brainstorming ideas; I could get up earlier, avoid distractions and break up my TO DO list into smaller more manageable pieces.

Perhaps these were reasonable fixes, but the feeling part of me knew each of these ideas would only add more items to my already bulging list.

An idea dawned on me.

Maybe the answer wasn’t to identify and fix the reasons why I couldn’t get everything done.

Maybe the answer or answers would appear if I explored the belief(s) that drove my need to check off all of the items.

This felt promising.

I began to wonder what would happen if I didn’t complete each of my self-assigned tasks. As I looked at each item, I discovered a common theme. I would not feel good about myself.

But why?

That now seemed like the critical question to ask. What did completing items from my list really do for me? Well, it gave me a sense of accomplishment. Beneath this, where my beliefs live, I realized there was more. It also gave me a sense of worthiness, which came through the praise of others and my own self-congratulations.

So, why is this necessary?

That answer eluded me at first, until I went inside and looked into my heart and spirit, and then I knew. I saw clearly how my ego was driven by fear and how it believed this fear was necessary in order to protect the self-image it had created. An image that firmly rested on praise from the outside and the inside. My ego believed it was vital to create opportunities (like the TO DO list) that would serve as nourishment to keep me healthy.

In the past I would have begun an internal argument with my ego. I would have attempted to convince my ego that it was wrong and that this approach would always lead to unhappiness.

But, I’ve learned that my ego plays a necessary part in my life and I no longer argue with it. Instead, I offer it love, which is the only thing that allows it to relax and calm down. I thank it for doing its job and keeping me safe. I offer it my gratitude and then share from my heart and spirit a more powerful truth. That I am inherently worthy and valuable. That I am radiant and beautiful and beloved. That I am a child of god and never need to prove myself, to be found worthy.

Looking beneath the surface, beyond my worldly concerns and thinking mind, I find a place of love. My true home.

In this light, I can let go of the significance of all of my TO DO items and they can each patiently wait their turn now.

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Joyful

Do you know the TV and magazine ads that promise to help you deal with physical issues you might be experiencing? No matter what problem you have, there’s a drug or treatment that offers you help in managing your symptoms or condition. I’m very glad that this type of assistance exists and it’s wonderful to know that when you need support, it’s available to you.

The last time I saw one of these ads I wondered, is there some kind of pill or treatment for ‘conditional happiness’?

You may be wondering what this is.

Here are some of the symptoms. Do you create certain criteria that must be met BEFORE you can be happy? A list of items to check off, otherwise you think happiness can’t be experienced. Do you find yourself feeling happy and then wonder how long it can possibly last? And then, sure enough, it falls away. Do you wonder how it is even conceivable to be happy, given the state of the world? You want to be happy, but you feel so much stands in your way.

I’d like to propose a radical idea for you to consider.

What if we shifted our perspective? What if we all were designed to be happy? Suppose your core nature contained everything you need to be happy, and that buried deep within you, there is a place of perfect peace. A place you can draw from any time you need or want to.

While I’m thinking about this, I’m considering my choice of words. Maybe ‘happiness’ isn’t the right word. Perhaps, ‘contentment’ would be better. No, contentment feels limited, sort of like settling for something.

How about ‘joyful’? Yes, I like that word. I like opening it up to see that it means, filled with joy. What an awesome concept. I want to be filled with joy.

So, let me start over.

What if we all were full of joy by design? What if we came here to this earth with the capacity to feel joy no matter what we encountered. What if we believed that joy was our very nature. I love the way that feels.

Is this possible for you to conceive? I hope so.

Imagine what the world would be like if we believed that joy is a fundamental part of us, centered deep within each of us.

How would this change things?

Ahhhh, isn’t that the real question?

One important thought comes to me. If I truly believed that I am filled with joy, and that it is always accessible to me, I could see things from a very different perspective. I could allow joy to flow through me and embrace it with delight.

On seeing a person by the side of the road asking for money because they are homeless, I could open my heart and spirit and let my joy overflow. I could open my window and share from my abundance and watch as my joy spread into another person’s world.

I could look around and see the beautiful turn of colors in the leaves. I could get lost in the aroma of fresh baked cookies coming out of the oven. I could glory in the connection with others who share this world with me, like you. I could reveal joy wherever I looked.

Rather than living according to what I see outside of me, I could live from my center of joy. What a wonderful choice to have.