We’ve all heard that as soon as we drive our brand new automobile out of the dealership parking lot, it begins to decrease in value. Material things depreciate in monetary value over time except for rare antiques, valuable art, etc. These things have value because society has … Continue reading A Life of Increase
In my living room are two black and white photographs that I love. One is a bridge across a large expanse of water. The other is a spiral staircase. In neither can the viewer see the beginning nor the end. What mysterious room lies at the top of the stairs? What destination awaits the traveler crossing the bridge? Both pictures also capture light and shadow.
To me, these photographs represent the journey through life, but more than just representing the movement through years and life stages. For me they suggest movement in states of being, states of consciousness and awareness.
This movement in our state of being doesn’t always come easily, for life brings both light and shadows. We often pass through some dark times before we break through to a greater understanding and awareness, more inner freedom.
From my own life experience, I have come to realize that the bridge that helps us cross from blame and anger to forgiveness, from pain to trust and acceptance, from questioning to answers, is love.
But this is not an ordinary love, but the kind that truly “passeth all understanding.” It is the spark of hope that remains inside when all else is lost. It is this love that builds bridges between people and heals hearts.
That transcendent love can link us to worlds of understanding and experience beyond this one. This transcendent state of being is what saints down through time have aspired to reach, poets have written about, and lovers dreamed of.
How does an ordinary person hope to experience this state of sublime love? We must find our own way, our own bridge, to the inner, higher self where truth and love await us. But, as the two photographs in my home suggest, there is not a final destination, only a journey.
Here is a contemplation you can try if you would like:
Imagine walking up a staircase or crossing a bridge in the company of a spiritual guide. It might be Jesus or some other Master or spiritual leader. Inwardly you might ask to be shown a greater state of love, joy, or freedom from a problem.
True contemplation is the bridge across forever.
See you on the other side.
On the car radio this morning, I heard two musicians discussing the art of creating music. One said he sometimes hears music in dreams. He said at other times he hears it while driving. During those times he goes over and over it in his mind so he won’t forget it before arriving home.
Both musicians also agreed that improvisation means they are continuing to compose while playing. The music inside leads them. He also said that if more people could hear the music they and others create, that they would feel the joy they feel as they compose and play it. I certainly felt their joy and love for their art as I listened to them.
For a musician, the music inside comes through as melody or lyrics. For a writer, the song inside comes through as poems, stories, or novels. For a painter, an inner visual image may inspire a painting. A good cook will intuitively know how to “improvise” a recipe as she prepares the food and makes it even better. It’s also expressed as acts of kindness. The music inside is really love, God’s voice desiring expression through us.
Years ago I heard a well-known jazz musician describing how he had once lost his creative spirit and was suffering from a deep depression. During this time his wife had been a constant support and help, never losing her belief he would recover and be himself again. As he recovered, he secretly recorded a new album and dedicated it to her. The dedication said: “You heard my music and gave it back to me.”
I was so inspired by this story. It made me realize that when we hear God’s voice, the inner sound, and give it expression in our lives in some way, we are returning love back to God and to life.
True contemplation is the way to open our inner hearing and inner sight to the Light and Sound of God. An endless creative pool of love awaits us.
I found the booklet entitled Spiritual Wisdom on Prayer, Meditation, and Contemplation by Harold Klemp to be a helpful guide to the art of contemplation. This quote is from page 4:
Go to the holy of holies. It is the temple inside you. This is the place where all truth comes from. Before there were words, before there was a written Bible or a printed Gutenberg Bible, before there was Luther’s translation, there was the Word in the heart of mankind.
This is the temple. Go there.
Thank you for reading a little song from me today.
This morning I remembered something I heard a minister say on tv one day. He said: “It only took one day to take the Israelites out of Egypt. But it took 40 years to take Egypt out of the Israelites.” Yes, freedom really is an inside job.
Several years ago I was having a serious conversation with a close male friend. He asked a question, and suddenly I started crying and said, “I always just wanted someone to love me.”
This statement was a revelation to me. I realized that all of my life, through every action, every pursuit of happiness, I was looking for love. I was loved, of course, all of my life, but I was too wounded and closed to recognize and receive it. Love didn’t show up the way I expected it or wanted it to. Now, years later, I realize that the search for love is the search for God, and the search for God is the search for love.
In every true religious and spiritual teaching, there is emphasis on the loving heart. If God is love, then we, a creation of God, must also be love. How then, have we moved so far from our natural sate of love?
I have met so many people throughout life who were so completely in the body consciousness that they were filled with anxieties, fears, and worries. In such a state it was hard for them to feel any joy or inspiration. Once I asked Spirit to show me the energetics of what was going on. What was the solution?
I was shown an image on the inner screen of my mind that looked like computer graphics. I saw how the spiritual, higher energies enter through the crown, the earth energy through the root and feet, and how they meet at the heart enter, or heart chakra. Here the energies are transmuted by the heart center, according to the state of consciousness of the receiver, into the energy that creates his life. The life he creates, the state of relationships, health and happiness, reflect the condition of the heart. The Bible verse, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) came to mind. Because of life events, traumas, and fears, the heart is closed in many people or heavily guarded.
Some people are mind people and live in their heads. Some live in their bodies. Most are a mix. Some truly fortunate ones have learned how to be people of the heart. A true healing, and true spiritual progress, must include a healing of the heart.
What heals and restores the heart except love? Love isn’t love if it empties us. I also learned through many years of looking for love that love doesn’t mean giving your whole self away. Love is love when it fills us in places we didn’t know existed, and spills over to all life around us and reaches into the very heart of life. It returns to us again and again in ever new and surprising forms. It inspires us and gives us purpose.
I have always known that circulation is life, and the absence of circulation is death. But it was a revelation when I realized that circulation is related to love. We think of love as an emotion, or a kind act, or benevolent thought. That is how love is expressed and manifested, through our feelings, thoughts, words and actions. But love itself is pure spiritual current, the life-giving energy that moves, creates, sustains, and once we connect with this love, life changes for us. We must keep love circulating in our lives in some way.
If indeed love is our natural state, our birthright, how do we awaken this love within us? Again, a daily spiritual practice is key. But a simple way to begin is to simply say at bedtime and when starting the day, “Please show me love.”
After my own life of much trial and error, one night years ago in the dream state, I was shown how to have a new beginning in life and love. My inner guide, sometimes known as the Dream Master, had sheets of paper that contained the story of my life. He had marked and corrected it, much as I had done with students’ compositions when I was a teacher. I knew that he was showing me that many of the mistakes and karmic burdens of my life had been settled. Then he took a clean, blank sheet and wrote across the top of the page: “The Rest of the Story Is…”
I knew he was saying that I was ready to begin writing consciously on the pages of my life.
So after all of this, can I say that I am a master of love? Hardly. But I am willing to be Its servant.
And the rest of the story is…
Once in contemplation I asked, “What is true freedom?” Inwardly I heard, “Freedom is an inside job.”
As I contemplated the meaning of this statement, I realized its truth. A country can ensure its citizens of certain freedoms–freedom of speech, freedom to follow the religion of one’s choice, or not, freedom to vote, etc. We may have a lot of outer freedoms, yet can spend a lifetime unknowingly imprisoned by the limitations within our own state of consciousness.
Our state of consciousness, how we think, what we believe to be true, our attitudes, have been created by our life experience, for we record consciously or unconsciously everything that has happened to us or been done by us. It is our own responsibility to choose and create inner freedom..to be free from anger, fear, greed, envy, and habits that harm us and others.
Years ago soon after I moved into a new neighborhood, the woman across the street came over to meet me. Almost immediately after introducing herself, she began to tell me how, 35 years earlier, her husband had left her for another woman. She still carried so much resentment and anger over this. She had never remarried or found happiness, imprisoned, held captive, by this one unhappy event in her life.
On the other hand, I’ve read accounts of survivors of the holocaust and of prisoners of war who, though outwardly imprisoned, starved and beaten, found a way to hold safe and free the inner sanctuary of their own consciousness.
It takes courage and incredible strength to hold fast to the awareness that the true self, the innermost part of us, cannot be controlled by events outside us. Our attitudes and beliefs are deeply ingrained patterns, as deeply ingrained as those of a prisoner experiencing brainwashing. Our conditioned patterns of thinking and being clash with others, for our minds have closed to seeing other viewpoints. Or is it that our hearts have closed? A closed heart leads to a closed life, closed to change and true happiness, true freedom.
But it is difficult to have a reaction, strong feeling or thought, and stop and ask, “Is this really me?” Learning to separate mental and emotional habits, our conditioned state of consciousness from our true self, is possible, but takes time and desire. It starts with a sincere question: “Who am I, apart from who I’ve been trained, taught, learned to be?”
Again, back to the importance of the daily spiritual practice. and a sincere desire to know oneself. Who am I? What was I created to do, know, to be? An important question is, how can we truly know another, unless we start with our self?
It’s the adventure of a lifetime, this search for inner freedom, because we are mining for life’s greatest treasure–the eternal love, wisdom, and creativity that we are. Free to Be.
(And of course, you’re free to not to believe any of this, for it was created out of my current limited state of consciousness.)
I was in a meeting once in which a woman began to tell this interesting story. She was part of a group that was planning an event for their religious organization. Every time it was her turn to speak and report her findings to the group, another woman would take over and do her part. She became annoyed and finally decided to report this behavior to the main leader and overseer of the project. After she voiced her complaint, the project manager asked, “Are you ready to hear this?” The woman, a little apprehensive, said, “Yes.” The manager asked, “Can you love more?”
Perhaps the woman who was overstepping had a fear of being overshadowed, a lack of self-worth, or a need to be validated, seen and heard. The manager was telling the woman that by remaining silent and just loving more, this would give the other time to grow and learn her own lessons.
This story has stayed with me over the years. How often do we find ourselves in a similar situation, one that causes us to react, lash out, or put another “in their place.”
Little annoyances and irritations can arise on a daily basis. Why is that person taking so long with the bank teller as we wait and wait our turn? And look, that woman has at least 40 coupons for the cashier to go through at the checkout line in the grocery store. Does every traffic light really have to turn red when I’m in a hurry?
When we are in those and many other situations, we can say to ourselves: “I am in this moment, right here, right now. I will never have this moment again. I can love more right now.”
When we are “in love,” a state of Being that is so pure and selfless, we find we are in love with the people in line at the bank, the grocery store, the people in all of the cars at the traffic light. This state of love makes room for us to see, to know, to just be. And like the lady in the first story, we find we have nothing prove, and nothing to lose.
A woman from another country once told me this about her husband. He was so well known for his love, patience and wisdom, that people in their village would come to him to settle disputes and arguments. She said, “He is the only person I have ever known who can mend two hearts and never leave a seam.” Love leaves behind no scars, only new growth.
So we all might ask at this point, “How does one evolve into such a state of love?” For myself, in my morning contemplations, I say, “Show me how to love more.” Then without fail opportunities arise. And when we don’t get it right, life always gives us another chance. Love never gives up on us, and we can’t give up on love. It is our true and natural state. We’ve just forgotten.
I also remind myself of this story. Years ago I heard an interview on the radio with a monk who lived in Chicago. The interviewer asked, “How can you live a contemplative life in the midst of such a busy city?” The monk replied, “I don’t bring contemplation into my life. I bring my life into my contemplation.”
May great love find its way to you today.