Archive for the 'All There Is…' Category

The Importance of Forgiveness

I’ve been taking part in Karen Armstrong’s 2008 TED Challenge. Together, me and over 100,000 other concerned individuals have been writing a “Charter for Compassion” with Karen. The purpose of this charter is to inspire the leaders of the world’s major religions to get back to the basics of their faith. And what are the Basics? Regardless of the faith, these basics are remarkably similar: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Participation in this writing has caused me to consciously and actively practice this simple – “Golden” – rule.

The biggest stumbling block I found was in the area of Forgiveness. Sure, I’ve never had a problem forgiving others, as I’ve never really taken anything people have done “to” me as something personal.

No, my challenge has been forgiving myself.

In what ways have I been “un-self-forgiving”? I’ve recently discovered I have a tendency to be unhappy with where I am and what I’m doing Right Now. Being an A-personality, I’ve always felt my life should be filled with “doing” a whole bunch of “things” to get me where I wanted to be. And where did I want to be? Anywhere but here! It’s only since I’ve eased up on myself and realized what I am doing and where I am right now is perfectly OK have I been able to relax, ease up on the self-criticism and be at peace.

And, even if for some reason I’ve found myself unhappy with what happens to be my present situation, I allow myself the feeling of unhappiness – I don’t have to be “better” or “positive” or “good” or “right” or anything other than what I happen to be at the moment.

I’ll tell you – starting with creating an internal landscape for peace within myself has been the best place to start practicing compassion. If more of us dedicated our time towards this practice, peace in the world would be a natural and effortless result.

A Christian Response is “No” On Proposition 8.

Gale Tompkins-Bischel (a Christian) makes a great argument a “Yes” on Prop 8 was not a valid “Christian” response. Read her original letter here.

This was my reply:

Gale-
What a beautifully eloquent letter! Thanks for voicing your views!

It’s understandable why many people live in fear today with so much threatening our view of reality. Our first (human) approach is to fall back on the laws, rules, and regulations of our faith for support.

This is precisely NOT the path to God.

We are asked to look beyond the visible – to trust in Love:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

And, what is Love? The fruit of the Spirit is a pretty good guidepost:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23.

Of course, a few verses earlier in Galatians, Paul speaks about “sexual immorality” as being an obviously sinful act. However, one could effectively argue same-sex couples exhibiting spiritual fruits in their relationship are NOT breaking any law, even according to Paul.

In fact, one could argue that loveless heterosexual sex performed within the bonds of marriage is sinful!

If you still want to stick to rules and laws, why not stick to the ones that matter? Here’s what Jesus said when asked about which were the greatest commandments:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

As far as Jesus is concerned, you can throw away the rest of the Torah (or, in our case, the Bible). These verses point to the core of Jesus’ teachings (and to the core of the teachings of most other religions, too!)

We (Christian, Buddhist, Jew, and Muslim alike) must return to this, the Golden Rule of Love. It’s the only way can know God and reach our heavenly reward.

On an Earthly level, the Golden Rule is also the only way we can successfully address not only this issue of marriage equality, but also all the world challenges of today.

Carol Cole-Lewis
President, Unitarian Universalist Community of Lake County
http://www.uuclc.org

How can I protect myself in a failing economy?

This wasn’t exactly the question I’ve been asking myself lately, though it is the one I think is on most people’s minds.

The first thought that comes to me when I ask this question is “Protect myself from what?” I started thinking. Usually a need for protection comes out of a sense of a lack of something – in this case a lack of security that comes from a stable financial base. But, is this true? Can we really find true protection in “stuff”?

My spiritual heritage has its roots in the Christian tradition. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been meditating on the following verses in Matthew:

Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the filed grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

So do not worry, saying,”What shall we eat” or “What shall we drink” or “What shall we wear”. For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

-Matthew 6:25-26; 28-33

Are you worrying about what you will eat or what you will drink or what you will wear? If you’re a person of faith in a higher power, it isn’t really useful to spend time concerned over these issues, as God already knows we need them. So, where then should the focus of our thoughts be if not on our desperate condition? On the Kingdom of God.

Right. Anybody got a roadmap to where this “Kingdom” is?

Well, actually, yes.

“The Kingdom of God is within you.”(Luke 17:21)

OK. If that’s the case, how do I know what part of me is the “Kingdom” and what is not? Actually, God gave the answer to Moses after Moses asked him, “Who should I say sent me?” God’s answer? “Tell them ‘I AM’ sent you.”

The Kingdom of God is when you are connected to the “I AM”. And, what is the “I AM”? The only thing that there is – The Present Moment. The NOW.

Anytime you feel fear, anxiety, worry, guilt, anger, etc, etc., it’s because you’re living in a time-bound experience. These emotions imply a sense of time, as fear, anxiety and worry are rooted in an imagined future, while guilt and anger have their source in a remembered past. Neither is happening now (though your ego-mind would like you to think this is so).

When you’re Present, you experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (does this ring a bell with you Christians as the “fruits of the spirit?”).

How do you get and stay Present? A few ways:

  1. Acceptance and Surrender
    Allow the present moment to be what it is. Completely accept the situation as it stands. This does NOT mean you cave in and do nothing about it. Quite the contrary – by not judging the conditions you find yourself in, you bring a sense of clarity to the moment. This permits you to see things in a different, less emotionally charged, light from which a better course of action can be determined
  2. Gratitude
    I like to think of gratitude as the energetic opposite of “surrender”. “Surrender” to me implies an inner acceptance of what appears to be an outward experience. “Gratitude” to me is the outward expression of an inner state of being derived from surrender. Having gratitude – or thankfulness – means you are OK with what Is and is the natural result of Surrender.
  3. Do not Judge
    (anybody got a good antonym for “Judge”? I couldn’t find one!)

    Ever wonder why Jesus admonished, “Judge not, lest ye be judged”? I would dare say because we do not know the mind of God. What we deem to be good (or bad, or fat, or old, or ugly….) may not be so because we tend to look at the situation from our own small point of view rather than God’s bigger picture. If you can cease to label an experience, you open up yourself to a wealth of possibilities only accessible by this freedom from your inner critic.

  4. Give.
    “Give, and it will be given to you. A large quantity, pressed together, shaken down, and running over will be put into your lap, because you will be evaluated by the same standard with which you evaluate others.” (Luke 6:38 ISV) .Do you ever wonder why it feels so good to give? Because when we give, we are filled with a sense of abundance, not lack. And, don’t just give money – give the most valuable item you own to everyone and everything: Your Attention.

You say you’re a Christian, a Buddhist, a Jew, a Muslim? All of these religions have these tenents at their heart. You’re living as a “Pagan” (read: “Non-Believer”) if you are not living in the Kingdom, and the only place you’ll find the Kingdom is by being Present Now.

Enjoy the Peace and Abundance of the Kingdom of God!

The Angel in Me

Paul Hoyt is an amazing man. He’s got both sides of his brain working, which makes him not only extremely intelligent, but also creative, spiritual and musical. You can find him on the web at http://hoytgroup.com, though I met up with him again after a long period apart at Border’s in Palo Alto, where he is now resident.

After our visit, he emailed me the “One and only song I have ever written”.

I share it here now with you. Paul is the composer and the singer – I’m not sure who the pianist is. It’s a marvelously simple tune with a profound message beautifully performed by Paul and his exquisite tenor voice.

"Angel in Me" by Paul Hoyt


Archives

Welcome to my personal blog. You can visit my business website by clicking on my Gravatar or visiting http://c-cole-lewis.com

Carol Cole-Lewis's Facebook profile
View Carol Cole-Lewis's profile on LinkedIn