In every life exists a line, a door, or a wall. To encounter any one or more of the three requires time, energy, devotion and commitment. Crossing this line, opening this door or scaling this wall will initiate and release a new world of reward and understanding. Standing in the way blocking our endeavors to challenge these obstacles are conflicts and struggle which often cause us to shrink back from the opportunities represented by these three. Our perceptions revolve around a misunderstood belief that these three holding us back are at the beck and call of others. We think our ability to cross that line, to open that door or to scale that wall is controlled by others. Many believe it’s others who precipitate and cause our struggles. Nothing could be further from the truth. These three barriers are internal constructions. To achieve dominance over one, two or all three requires us to address and deal with them while putting aside our fears.
This line of demarcation, this closed door, this insurmountable wall represent our chosen inability to break free. Breaking free allows us to look beyond our immediate limitations to see the total scope of our past, present and future. A past we can’t change, but can learn from. A present we can change, but only as it relates to our future. A future that will rely on the choices we make in our present based on the things we now know from experiences in our past. Past, present and future are interrelated more than we might imagine. Until we recognize and accept this, the line will remain uncrossed, the door will remain closed and the wall will be too high.
In each day there exists only enough time to accomplish the tasks and challenges we have set before us. The energy, devotion and commitment necessary to challenge the struggles that hold us tightly in their grasp must be generated by and from inner strength and confidence. There are methods to effectively eliminate or reduce personal chaotic struggle and conflicts. However for each method employed one common theme is found as an essential element of this success. A focus on balance. Balance between physical wants and spiritual needs. Between mind and body. Between one’s soul and identity. The amount of energy, devotion and commitment needed determines how close, how quickly, and how successfully the line will be crossed, the door opened or the wall scaled once and for all.
With maturity comes an awareness of time excised or wasted. With age comes a realization of dreams lost or abandoned. As death draws nigh there may dawn a reluctance or desperation to challenge the line, the door, the wall. Whether one dejectedly gives in or steadfastly determines to forge ahead, both may wonder what waits on the other side? Is it worth the effort needed to find out? Are we willing to take on the struggles representing roadblocks to our latent desires? Is it really worth it? And ultimately, are we worthy of this new or last effort? Many believe they’re not and merely give up. Taking a last breath filled with despair and remorse. Never to be heard from again is not an endearing exit. Many are convinced nothing can be done that might change the inevitable extinguishing of their presence. So why even try? Some reflect on where they have been, what they have done and what the results their past efforts surmised. Good, bad or ugly they recognize it’s never too late to address what waits on the other side of the line, the door, the wall. Not necessarily to conquer, but to at least to accept and understand. In this way making sense of the time, energy, devotion and commitment having been invested over time.
An acknowledgment and acceptance of the potential tranquil relief to be released by crossing the line, opening the door or scaling the wall will wash away the residue of resistance that has repeatedly fomented as conflict and struggle. It’s adversities that keep us focused on self and hold us back from accepting a grounding of truth in ourselves. Relief, peace and tranquility (and often enlightenment) await on the other side of our fears. It’s here that clarity of vision comes into being. We begin to see the folly within precipitated by our insecurities that enveloped us as life unfolded before our very eyes. With new knowledge and understanding there now exists absolutely no reason to wait. It’s time to discover what has been hidden in plain sight for an entire lifetime.
To sidestep the drama and trauma of daily life represented by the conflicts and struggles we experience is a goal of many. Sadly there are many who see the end of life as the only way to stop heartbreak and disappointments. It need not be the solution, for there are others. Like the fluid or oil in a hydraulic system which replaces itself in order to complete its task of providing power to move an object, we must discover how to replace the consequences of our struggle with inner tranquility. Meditation works for its practitioners, as does yoga for others. Some philosophies provide thoughtful options and methods for dealing with or overcoming the sense of despair often associated with turmoil. In western cultures mental entanglements are often relieved (temporarily) by spending money on frivolous ‘things.’ So be it, but consumption rarely fills the longing for any depth of extended satisfaction.
So, what will fill the void? Interestingly enough it’s satiated when our mental attention is cognitively attune to who we are and the steps we are taking to become who we aspire to be. The relationship between us as individuals and by extension with others is highly influenced by this balance within our own nature. Remember; mind and body, soul and identity, spirit and humanism. We are each made up of a variety of dichotomies. It’s difficult be one totally and successfully contribute in today’s world. Functioning balance should be our goal. We’re each a cumulative combination of all the oppositions that make us the person we are. We need preparation to cross that line, open that door or scale that wall. In doing so we can expand better understanding of ourselves and how we best fit into our world. In this way we can start down a pathway which expresses more love and compassion to and for those important to us.
The test in this exercise of growth is grounded in the fact we must traverse the gap between who we are, and who we would like to become. That is, from this side to the other. For it’s only on the other side of the line, door, or wall that we are released from the onslaught of daily conflicts and struggles. The good news is, it can be accomplished. However, like crawling and then walking before we can run, our triumphs come through progressive and success building blocks or steps. So when we begin we start at the beginning. The farther we travel, the faster our efforts show positive and reassuring results. That is, growth sustained produces peace and tranquil understanding which can translate into behavior and responses in our world of challenges and demands. Subsequently more understanding is revealed.
How do we initiate and go about this transformation? We start by accepting ourselves. Who we are, right here, right now. Then by having a vision of who we would like to become. What new and different character traits and behaviors do we want to have as our own? Each of us has a myriad of examples in our lives of character and traits we wish were ours. Just look around. Surely there are people in your world you admire and want to emulate. What traits are you looking to copy and make your own? Are the traits and characteristics you desire one’s that will help you become a more balanced individual? If not, what’s the point? If you just want more wealth and possessions then understand that the quest for things of the world comes with the world’s consequences. (Those being struggle and conflict, because the very nature of human existence is survival of self at all costs and regardless of the consequences to others.) That’s why the rich and powerful continue to prosper at the expense of the many. Their avarice drives them to acquire wealth and its trappings irrespective of damage or loss incurred by others. It’s been this way since the beginning of tribal communities and will continue to be as such in the future.
We transform ourselves only by accepting who we are, right now, and then using that strength to overcome, or transform, our weaknesses. Where do we get help to accomplish this growth? On the other side of that line, behind that door, beyond that wall. You’ll notice these three ‘obstacles’ appear to be different as to their levels of difficulty. This is because they represent different levels of change needed to accomplish our transformation. It’s much easier to cross a line than to open a door. And scaling a wall is always harder than the other two. At least one of these may represent the depth and breadth of struggle or conflict holding you back from more fulfilling relationships.
All life is a series and combination of relationships. Whether they are personal, family, business, friends or acquaintances. Each relationship you are in has different intensity and dynamics. So the line, door or wall can be different or even fluctuate. Each relationship we have can generate challenges and is represented by the line, door or wall.
The goal is to make everyone of our relationships a process of positive reciprocity in order to aid in our development establishing growth leading to greater balance. In doing so we become a more trusted and valued friend, business associate or family member. In this way our transformation unfolds. Like the budding flower we begin to bloom, slowly at first then more rapidly as the positive energy we give and receive is welcomed in our small world. As we reduce the struggles and conflicts in our life and relationships, those which linger still causing difficulties will soon be replaced or discarded.
As our transformation evolves we begin to realize we don’t need or want the drama, trauma and negative energy hampering or delaying our progress. As balance starts to become our reality we begin to more easily accept the presence and role of truth in ourselves and in our life. At the same time we start recognizing truthfulness or lack thereof in our relationships and in the immediacy of the world surrounding us. We can now actively compare and contrast the peace and confidence of our transformed decisions and behaviors. As we become more balanced continued growth and confidence provides strength to overcome the obstacles on our path which held us back; our line, door or wall. The rewards that accompany new growth and confidence can and will change who we are, who we thought we were, and who we now know we can become.
Welcome and recognize the reality of your line, door or wall. But know they are your constructs. Look inward to see you now have the power to cross, open, or scale these obstructions. Embrace this opportunity to transform who you are into who you will be.
Acts of God or Accident?
“Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?”
As we acknowledge the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 “Twin Towers” attacks in New York City, I thought it might be appropriate to revisit this critical question so often asked when trying to ‘justify,’ make sense of, or understand the untimely loss of a loved one.
There is a lesson for each of us in the terrorism of our world. It is not however a lesson in conflict. It is not a lesson in economics. It is not a lesson in politics or religion. It is a lesson in none of these.
God’s activity or inactivity in our lives is of His choosing and His timetable. Suffice it to say, all events we experience up close and personal or from afar can be tests of our faith and beliefs. Events and consequences of the choices we make or experience can come in three forms:
1) According to God’s plan for our lives.
2) By accident.
3) By actions perpetrated by forces of the world, or forces of evil in our world.
This answer may or may not be an adequate explanation around the water cooler or in the classroom, but what about for everyday real life? “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Christian believers say that they trust in the words of Jesus Christ. So, let’s look at what He has to say. Jesus explains for His listeners, “No one is good, no not one, except God alone.”
Jesus is telling us something very important about people who perish throughout the world under all kinds of different circumstances regardless of the particular day or event. He is also telling us something very important about ourselves. Not one of the people who has perished in the turmoil and tragedies of our day, whether in New York City, Iraq, Timbuktu or elsewhere are good, “No, not one.” Each of them had complex lives, just like you and I. We know nothing of their individual situations or how they acted or behaved in their lives behind closed doors. What we do know is that those lives cut short by events unforeseen can serve as a reminder to be heeded.
The only one who knows when your last day and hour will be is God. When He is ready for you, will you be ready? Were the people who perished on Sept. 11, 2001 ready? Were any of them ready? We have no way of knowing. The single blessing for those who might have realized their deaths were imminent was they had an opportunity to make their peace with their God.
This is a lesson for us as survivors. It is not one of economics, religion, politics or terror. It is a lesson of personal choice and personal action. It is a lesson which is twofold: First, “None of us is good, No, not one.” And second, only God Himself knows the last day and hour. The world’s and each of ours. When He is ready, will you be? Make your peace with God and you’ll be blessed here and hereafter.
A Child Knows
“The Truth of Innocence”
The enjoyment of each autumn season for Dave was found in the weekly broadcast of ‘Monday Night Football.’ Just as he had lived for Friday during his bachelor days, now as a married man with a young daughter, his seventh day solace was found in front of his big screen plasma television watching the NFL’s premier ‘Game of the Week.’ It was this Monday evening which he had anticipated all month, for his favorite gridiron gladiators, the Green Bay Packers were squaring off to face the team Dave loved to hate most, the Dallas Cowboys.
Completing his own pre-game preparation of all necessary snack and beverage needs, Dave settled into his favorite chair and hit the remote control button. Leaping to life across the high definition screen a camera panned the scantily clad figures of silicone implanted bodies and cosmetically painted faces of the famous Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. “Ah” Dave thought to himself, “Now this is what Monday night is all about! Hard bodies, on and off the field.”
As Dave’s coy smile began to stretch from ear to ear, into the living room of their small house walked his wife and daughter. Carol planted her little girl down beside Dave and exclaimed, “Honey, I need to go to the grocery store and I’m leaving Cassie home with you.”
“Oh No,” groaned Dave. “Green Bay is playing Dallas and I don’t want to be interrupted.”
“Well, you know how difficult it is for me to get through the store with Cassie wanting to grab every toy and candy bar in sight. I don’t want to be gone any longer than necessary and I can complete my list faster if she stays here with you” Carol stated.
“But Carol” retorted Dave, “You know how long I have waited for this game and Cassie will do nothing except bother me constantly. Just take her with you.”
“No Dave,” Carol calmly replied, “She is staying here with you. Just give her something to do that will keep her busy and you can watch your precious game . . . and cheerleaders” Carol added softly as she turned toward the door.
“Carol” Dave said raising his voice an octave but by that time his wife of ten years was out the door and gone. “Great” thought Dave, “the most important game of the season and I’m babysitting.”
At that moment six year old Cassie came to Dave and asked, “Daddy, will you read me a story?”
“Not now Cassie, the game is about to start.”
“But Daddy” the little girl said, “I want you to read me a story.”
“Not right now Cassie” Dave replied adamantly. “Find something else to do.”
“I want to hear a story,” his daughter insisted once again.
“Look” replied Dave, getting irritated. “Go get one of your toys or a doll to play with.”
“Mommy said that you would read me a story from my new book if I would stay home with you.”
“What is this?” Dave thought, “A female conspiracy?”
“All I ask is that once a week I get to watch a little football and have some peace and quiet” Dave muttered.
“Daddy,” Cassie said breaking into his thoughts. “I want to hear a story.”
“Look here Cassie” Dave said. “Go get one of your toys and play with it.”
“I’ll read you a story in a few minutes, okay?”
“Okay!” replied Cassie.
“Now” Dave said to himself, “time for some football” as the kicker on the screen launched the pigskin into the end zone. Three plays into the game Cassie was standing in front of Dave once again. “Daddy, will you read me a story now?”
“Cassie,” Dave said, his tone rising in exasperation. “The game is just getting under way. Go!”
“But Daddy, you promised.”
Dave glared at his daughter.
“Cassie, go find your new doll and play with her” Dave said emphatically.
“I will read to you in a little while.”
Looking down dejectedly Cassie walked away.
Within a few minutes Dave noticed that Cassie was on the floor in the corner twisting the arms of her new Barbie doll up and down as if the two girls were waving at each other in animated conversation. “Finally” Dave thought. “Now if she’ll just stay busy until Carol comes home or until half time, everyone will be happy.”
Early into the start of the second period, Cassie appeared in front of Dave once again.
“Ok Daddy, I’m ready for my story now.”
“In a few minutes” Dave told her.
“Daddy, you promised,” she said.
“Yes Cassie I know, but the game is just getting interesting.”
“Green Bay is about to score” he said as if that made a difference or mattered at all to his little girl.
“I want to hear a story,” Cassie exclaimed.
“Good Lord” thought Dave, “the apple sure doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to women in this household wanting to get their way.”
“And to think, if I was still single I could be down at Burt’s pub with the guys, really having fun.”
“Daddy,” said Cassie, interrupting Dave’s conversation with himself.
“You said you would read to me.”
“Yes Cassie, I said it and I meant it. I’ll read to you when I am ready.”
“Here” he said, glancing at the open travel magazine on the coffee table, which Carol apparently must have been reading earlier. There before his eyes, was a map of the world with all the continents pictured. He reached down grabbing the magazine and tore the page out of the book.
“I’ll make a deal with you Cassie,” Dave told her.
“You take these pieces of paper,” as he slowly ripped apart the global image, “and put them back together again in the right order, and I will read you your story.”
He handed the now torn puzzle pieces to his daughter thinking, “This will keep her busy the rest of the evening until Carol gets home or she falls asleep.”
Taking the scraps of paper from him, Cassie asked, “You promise me Daddy, when I put the puzzle together, you’ll read to me?”
“I promise” Dave said, crossing his heart in a solemn gesture that he knew to his daughter meant that his word was now beyond reproach.
“Okay” she shouted aloud with a smile on her face and off to the corner of the room she went with the pieces of paper and the magazine, which he had given to her to use as a small stable base.
“Come on Pack, break the backs of those stinking Cowboys” Dave muttered to himself, seeing Cassie out of the corner of his eye as she busily worked with the paper puzzle. He was soon lost in the action of the game unfolding before him. It was as if he were in the stadium stands watching the players pummel each other. Suddenly he noticed movement to his right and there stood his daughter, magazine in hand.
“Ok, Daddy, I’m done” she said smiling up at him. Holding the magazine in front of her between the two of them the paper world was reassembled once more. Staring at the picture Dave was mesmerized. There it was, just as it had been when he first saw the map on the coffee table; every continent in its proper place. “Wow,” thought Dave, “but how did she figure it out?”
“Cassie” Dave asked, “How did you fit the puzzle pieces back together again? How did you know where to put each of the pieces?”
“It was easy Daddy” she replied.
“On the other side of the page was a picture of a man. I just put the man back together again. And when the man was right, the world was right.”
People often ask, “How is it God can have a relationship with some and not with others?” Or, “How can He care about some and not others?” The answers are relatively simple, for just like you He interacts with those who interact with Him. As creator, God has an innate relationship with all of creation but He has given mankind a special opportunity to connect with Him spiritually.
Think of it like your own address book. There are people you have a special bond and personal contact with, then there are those you interact with on a regular basis, others more infrequently and finally the rest, with whom you have no interactions. It’s the same for God.
God has neither contact nor relationships with those who refuse, deny or are uninterested in His existence and presence. Does this diminish His love or interest in their well-being? By no means. He remains available and ready to embrace all with open, loving arms of acceptance and protection whenever and wherever one may be in life.
These are followed by multitudes who turn away from Him in disgust, ignorance or rebellion. Including vast numbers who by choice, tradition or inclination invest their faith elsewhere. Next, He has little contact with those who may plead with Him incessantly for assistance on occasion but quickly move on. That is, those plagued by ‘trouble or turmoil’ who subsequently turn to Him for momentary relief and abandon Him just as quickly. Out of unconditional love He may or may not respond. For as much as one may want or desire, it’s actually best in the long run to resist helping those trying to force ‘a round peg into a square hole’.
Next are those who have heard, studied or perhaps been exposed to God’s Word but have decided they neither want nor need Him in their lives. These are often labeled, ‘the fallen away’. They’ve heard God’s words but refuse His Spirit, preferring to rely on the ‘little god’ of self living within.
Then comes believers who acknowledge and claim trust, faith and invitation. This group would include vast numbers who profess a personal relationship with God’s Trinity. Friends and acquaintances with regular holiday and/or special occasion contact. These people recognize and realize that fundamental contact can have and produce blessings and rewards on many levels. A fullness of this relationship with God’s Trinity gives both hope and courage for here and hereafter.
Finally there are those who accept and consider themselves to be part of God’s family. Those who have an unbreakable spiritual connection strengthened by blood. The blood of Christ. Those, who through thick and thin, through trouble and tumult, through long and short, rely on each other as family. Do they have bumps in the road? Sometimes, but unconditional love and acceptance are the cornerstones of this relationship. Unconditional love that comes from and through God’s living spirit, represented by Christ’s presence in both heart and soul blessed by God himself.
You can see how the total growing number of earth’s inhabitants may in fact be reduced quite substantially to a manageable number who truly desire and pursue a personal daily relationship with God. It’s not like He doesn’t have time or ability for He is God to and for those who believe in Him.
If you wish to have a spiritual relationship with God; Father and Son, through His Spirit, simply ask and then respond. Although you’ll be doing the leg work, He will do all the heavy lifting.
All the best,
Recently I was invited to sit down with poetry editors Maureen Clifford and Loretta Leslie of The Australia Times Magazine of Queensland, Australia. The interview can be seen and read in the upcoming edition at their website; www.theaustraliatimes.com
As a sneak preview for our followers, we are posting the text of that interview here:
You were born in Osaka, Japan. What are your memories of living in that country?
None, as we were only there in my infant years. I was lucky however that my father was an avid photographer who recorded our time there on 8mm film. Watching those movies now accentuates the starkness of post war Japan of the late 1940’s.
You have travelled extensively growing up. How did that influence who you are?
The opportunity for exposure to varieties of cultures, peoples and places is priceless. Travel can both broaden and deepen an appreciation of the commonalities and differences we all share in one manner or another. I hope those experiences are identifiable in my works for many readers.
Branch Isole’s writing world is where Mana'o takes shape as short stories. What does Mana’o mean?
Mana’o (pronounced, Ma Na O) is Hawaiian for “Thoughts, Ideas and Opinions”.
Living on the island of Maui, Hawaii when I started writing, “Mana’o” aptly portrays the ‘Observation/Commentary’ style of my short story poetry.
Voyeurism Poetry has been used to describe your work. How did the title come about?
To be a ‘Voyeur’ is to be one who observes. My works are a process of ‘Looking Out, Seeing In’ and realizing we are not alone in our struggles. The best and the worse of what we observe globally lives embroiled within each of us. Our challenge is to change the world by changing ourselves for the better.
What does it mean to be a Voyeuristic Poet?
To be a ‘Voyeuristic Poet’ is to be a writer who observes commonly shared life themes and emotions, and then comments on its distillation to encourage reflective identity for and by the reader. Unlike most poets my works are not autobiographical. The focus on my story characters and emotions are those of my readers. My erotica pieces are written in first person (whether the main character is female or male). In this way the reader becomes the Voyeur.
Your recent blog post starts poetically: “The door to success hangs on two hinges. Insecurity and security.” What is your conclusion to this?
Insecurities are the bane of our existence as individuals. Each of us is plagued by doubts and issues concerning ourselves or our place in the world. We often magnify these to levels that hold us back like a closed, locked door hindering our growth opportunities. Overcoming insecurities by recognizing our true nature allows us to oil the hinges, open the door and move forward in life. My works are designed to aid the reader in this effort.
“Only poetry has the capacity to create with each line, a new fate.” How does this influence your writing?
Every line in poetry has power in its singularity and as part of the whole. Poetic versatility of changing a word, even a punctuation mark, can alter the tone or meaning of a poem. Each story line embodies an opportunity to express or change everything for the writer and for the reader. This writing power is untouched and unmatched by any other form of prose.
Barking Geckos is the name of one of your poetry books. Tell us why you are enamoured of the gecko.
Geckos are a prolific part of the Hawaiian environment and lifestyle. A symbol of good luck, their size and color renditions brighten and decorate many households. The geckos’ endearing presence in Hawaiian culture prompted its use as the cover art for my first book of short story poetic prose.
“As with life’s finer things, poetry is created to be savoured, not consumed.” How does this translate to your work?
Poetry offers unique opportunities to read ‘between the lines’ for meaning or nuance. As such, depending on the reader’s state of being, well written poetry can provide multiple impressions with subsequent readings. My works employ twists and turns of plots, scenarios and characters designed to leave the reader saying, “Wow” when they’re finished. If I’ve done my job, each time they come back to re-read, they may experience a new revelation, depth or emotion from the piece.
Who is your favourite poet? Please quote a verse.
While admiring many across the spectrum of poetry, my favourite poet is Anessa Blaine. This verse is from her poem; “i give him me”
wet and curled,
i toss and burn in placebo abandon
and lull myself into sleep. . . .
i embody, already, tomorrow’s memory
and yesterday's malady.
...and all my unknown life,
outside, [it rains
inside] without restraint.
i sw.allow certain indulgences
like my fingers silent tracing of mimicry panes.
My thanks to The Australia Times for recently publishing four of my poems and for the opportunity to speak with them and to their readers.
Questions or comments are always welcome from our readers and followers. Please use the contact link, Meet the Author.
All the best,
I received an email from one of our followers and thought I would post it on the blog. It is a theme I often hear from readers who are trying to navigate their way on the new path of a spiritual relationship.
In a message dated 11/18/2015 12:27:11 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, email@example.com writes:
"I just love the reads I get from you, and it is wondrous how perfectly timed they are. Thanks for being so tuned in...And for caring ...especially for TRUTH! For God’s sake!. The world is so full of nastiness and I am not choosing to focus on all the negativity.....I just want to ignore it all...But NOOOOOO....I want to know....So my pain body was even recognized in church last Sunday when trying to fill myself with Holy Spirit..
I believe, I am saved, but I can’t say I’ve had that special wallop of being in filled with the Holy Ghost. Any advice for this blundering Christian?"
It's always a joy to hear from you. You are right on target in your observation regarding both the world and ourselves, and you are not 'blundering'. We are all encouraged to be led astray by our world and society, so it is not unusual to feel stress and pain, confusion and chaos on many levels of existence. Therein lies both the reason and purpose for our quest of truth; to bring us back to a pivotal position of mind, body and spirit balance, whereby we may again respond with love no matter the situation or circumstance. It is only at this state of understanding do we recognize reality for what it is and in so doing embrace true realty hidden by the veil of truth.
If one is (voluntarily) on the path [and from your description, you definitely are!], then the spirit of God dwells within and you have nothing to fear. The struggle for everyone (on the path or not) is encapsulated in faith that what one holds to be true. That's where the presence of God's Spirit is revealed. It is a slow process (at first) like learning how to stand upright and walk. We scoot, then we crawl, then we look for something to hold on to as we stand and acquire initial balance. This is the point in our journey when we have the opportunity to (acquire and) accept God's presence in spirit. Prior to this moment God is merely an illusory concept or "carrot and stick" perpetrated religion. For those who are ready, a first step can be taken. Some stumble and fall, finding it unrewarding or not what they expected, while others continue to stride forward, gaining strength through fulfillment.
Like an infant moving to toddler stage, the neophyte believer gains strength and purpose to propel her/himself even if they misstep off the path momentarily or sporadically because a realization begins to set in that God always has their best interests at heart.
You are definitely on the path. God's spirit is definitely at work guiding and protecting you. Your faith and knowledge of this personal spiritual relationship between you and Him will continue to grow as you see the truth in all and everything around you. You will also start to recognize where it is void, and thus knowing, may now simply disallow those people or energy to invade your space attempting to suck the life out of you. Initially this may lead to a sense of aloneness, however the peace and love of God (that transcends all understanding) will be yours. Others (not on the path) will not understand the new you, but that will no longer matter. The struggles of life will begin to melt away and the clarity of your existence will make itself known.
The door of success hangs by two hinges; Insecurity and Self-Assuredness. Success can result from either. It's possible to be so insecure that perceptions of others drive us to do whatever is necessary to succeed in our chosen field of endeavor. Or, we can be so self-assured that nothing others may believe will influence or deter us from our focused goals.
The insecure, regardless of their success often remain insecure. For them it is insecurity that continues to push them ever onward. For many not as accomplished, insecurities can have the opposite effect, by keeping success at bay.
Those who have shed their insecurities or have overcome the hardships insecurity represents are no longer held hostage by what others may think. These people believe themselves ‘worthy’ regardless of their situational efforts and outcomes. Being secure within they are not concerned or bothered by setbacks. More importantly their energies are not attached to others’ perceptions of their efforts. This produces a confidence to understand they’re not unblemished and will not win every time. Life being what it is, no matter what may happen they know they will most likely have another opportunity.
Take the example of a baseball or a solitary (card game) player. Both know they will continue to get another chance (at bat/at cards) as long as they participate in the game. It’s understood they will not ‘get a hit’/win each hand every time. With this in mind they can approach each game knowing they have a chance to get a hit/win every time because there is no pressure not to be successful. In baseball accumulated at-bat statistics over three hundred (and up to five hundred) is considered highly successful. And that’s only three (to five) out of ten!
Eliminating pressures to succeed (in someone else’s eyes, or for another’s approval) one can mentally approach each game reaffirming, “Today I will get three hits”. By practicing the skills that produce success one can begin to recognize patterns that lead to successful achievement. This cognition of patterns reinforces the knowledge that even though one may not get a hit, the patterns of success will show themselves again and again, which begets opportunities for greater success.
We all know (of) or recognize someone who is at the top of their field, industry or business. We should also recognize their extraordinary energy and effort invested to get to the top, and then to stay there. And good for them because the world needs “movers and shakers.”
What about the rest of us? What of those whose dreams have been cut short or altered by life somewhere, somehow along the way? What of those in situations that preclude the kind of singular focus required to do 'whatever it takes’ to attain the top and stay there? What of those whose dreams were attached to another's approval, or love? What about when fear of failure is greater than the anticipated joy of success? Or when negative outcomes overwhelm (or are perceived to be) a more powerful response than possible success? What of those who have put aside their dreams?
Potential success dwells deep in the psyche as ‘acceptance worthiness’ and it is generally blunted by insecurities. Shadows of disappointment past and present housed as encroaching memories (by parents in their own failures) can vicariously effect the support, demands or efforts of our children. Too often recalled patterns of unfulfilled expectations can become an emotional “Damocles sword” for parent and child. When fear of failure is more intensely tied to “How I (or my efforts) will be perceived by others, my focus is realigned from “I will get three hits today.” The joy for the participant is getting the hits.
Our challenge is to overcome feelings of inadequacy spawned by fear of failure and instead learn the power of triumph in the effort, which is reflected by our successes. The reward is our response to the challenge, not others’ perceived approval or anticipated disappointments. When one is secure their efforts become a testing ground for self-improvement, not leverage of another’s acceptance, love or praise. Failure’s condemnation loses its powerful grip when the mirror’s reflection can say, “I did my best and will again.”
Don’t be afraid to fail. A new attitude will allow you to stay in the game and continue to take your turn at bat. Encourage yourself to recognize the patterns of your successes. Start to use these patterns again and again. As your efforts bear fruit your insecurities will start to melt away. Your worthiness will no longer be tied to anything (or anyone) except your own participation and goals. Then, transfer this acknowledged worthiness to every effort and relationship in your life.
The door of success hangs by two hinges; Insecurity and Security. Both can spur accomplishment. One set will keep you focused and on task for as long as you are physically, mentally or emotionally able. The other will allow you to succeed at the joy of living, while experiencing the success of your efforts in accord with your goals, for as long and at every game in which you choose to participate. Your opportunity is to make both hinges the same in order to open the door to your success.
Have you ever wondered about the difference between a spiritually grounded life versus a carnal (worldly) focused life? If you think of these two divergent response paths, what thoughts jump to mind? What mental pictures do you envision? Are they scenes of blended activity? Or do they appear to be at odds with each other?
A first thought surrounding the spiritual for many people is some form of peace or calm. Images of a spiritually grounded life often produce mental pictures of a serene or meditative lifestyle practitioner. It is interesting that with this mental picture in mind many don’t or won’t venture there. Those who equate spirituality with religion often imagine parochial purposed attachments filled with subservient ecumenical or fellowship obligations. It is no wonder that many who envision this path or who have traveled it, turn away and want nothing to do with it. In reality it is not hard to distinguish the spiritual from the religious, for one encompasses a connection between the individual and his/her belief enigma, while the other relies upon a man or men as intermediary conduits. The first has no intent except for peace and calm. The second has nothing except self-serving control and manipulation at its core.
By contrast a carnal focused, or world-view lifestyle is often thought of as nonstop on-the-go event seeking interactions (“fun” to some, demands to others). Those who are busy with work or family commitments , group involvements, participation in many or varied activities coupled with never ending pursuits of entertainment for relief, describes an assortment of time filling or time consuming choices. It is easy to see how these two lifestyles, the spiritual versus the carnal might appear to differ well beyond a point of mutual exclusivity.
Additional aspects of these contrasting investitures of time and energy can be realized by their effects on relationships. The spiritual person usually embraces a knowledge of God’s unconditional care and nurturing desire for them as individuals. This faith filled understanding is complimented by a respect for the core value that exists between God and mankind. As the spiritual bond between God and the individual (wo)man strengthens, the awareness of ‘self’ diminishes as one begins to forego the incessant focus of egotism and indulgence.
In either case, spiritual or world-view, with risk comes reward. Reward is most often perceived as a benefit gained, or loss abated. It’s been said, “The greater the risk, the greater the reward.” This adroit concept is typically embraced wholeheartedly as true by those wiling the world’s ways. The stronger one’s belief in the power of money and its accumulated possessions the more effectual its influence to besmirch the spiritual. Carnal desires honed and status levels achieved whereby one may prove his or her comparative worth, while validating a presence or contribution can become prime motivators in furtherance to grasp tight the world’s rewards, often however at the expense of balance. Competition produces the conquering of adversaries, a prime motivation since the beginning of mankind which has often offered either love or envy, or both as great rewards for the risk taker.
Some individuals find winning to be so compellingly and satisfying they can grow to thrive on the risk or gamble. This adrenaline rush becomes elevated to intense levels even in the face of potential or actualized loss. It is often the thrill of possible conquest which can drive one to risk beyond calculated measure. In the beginning risk is part of the process during the quest of winning. Eventually however, win or lose, it is the risk itself that for many becomes the “juice”. The chance of losing can become inconsequential compared to the appeal of the perceived risk taken.
At a sustained level, win or lose, a risk taker void of spirit may begin to ignore subsequent behavior consequences and outcomes of repeated downfalls. Winning or losing can become irrelevant as the cycles of adrenaline rushes ensue. Cascading spirals of defeat may take hold drafting the individual to experience emotions of unworthiness as doubts creep into the psyche. The culmination of this downward slide may lead to aberrant behaviors ending in abuses of self, or others. At this low point one may turn to a search for spiritual cognition, (or not).
Disregard for mental or physical health while burning the candle at both ends can be endured only so long. Those leading a life of imminent destruction eventually burn out or stumble. Age and relationship issues are often undeniable factors taking a toll and leading to ruinous outcomes. A balance brought about by spiritual grounding has the capability to help keep in check the spiraling effects described, but it can be an arduous road.
The world’s path promotes and reinforces reminders to the individual a litany of one’s insecurities at every opportunity. For the carnally disposed these are often prompted to be placated apparently only through the accumulation of possessions, acceptance by peers, or recognition and elevation in the eyes of superiors or the general public. This may invariably put pressure on the individual to be drawn to situations where such corporeal core values are consistently fed and fulfilled in spite of risks or detrimental outcomes.
There are many who view a spiritual lifestyle as simply boring. For the spiritually grounded this scene of boredom is a disguise, for balance. Balance which incorporates the humanism to participate in life, yet still have an active regard for a burgeoning spiritual connection. Within a spiritually grounded relationship ramifications go beyond recorded wins or losses. A realization of actions and consequences colored by spiritual intervention can lead to imperative forethought. Mature spiritual believers often find ‘loss’ has its own reward, for it is through loss that risk can be illuminated to have been a fool hearty undertaking not in one’s best interest. As such, loss may also be viewed as a blessing for it provides opportunities for future avoidance from similar past or new costly endeavors.
By our very nature we live a corrupted state of being. It is also in our nature to be looking for ways of embellishing or advancing our lives and lifestyles. The length and breadth of corruption permeates every nook and cranny of existence. Aspects of every one of mankind’s systems have become permanently stained with corruption, for that is the way of the world. Is this a new phenomenon of our time? By no means. Mankind has lived corrupted since its beginning. Today however, when more people fight each other instead of fighting for survival and more people possess more material goods and have access to a world of comparative information, no excessive level of grandiose ascension seems to be enough.
Our individual choice is one of lemming participation or, turn to a different course. This is easier said than done for are we not only participants in and victims of our socialization, our insatiable desires for immediate gratification without acknowledgment of consequence is commonplace and most often met by an acceptable bending or breaking of all moral and ethical rules. We acknowledge aberrations of law, code and decency all around us, and we are incensed. Yet we are conditioned to be ever on the prowl for an advantage, closely shadowed by an attitudinal inclination of “what’s in it for me?” When a decision appears to hold benefits for us and our perceived good or to our advantage, clarity to negative consequences is usually less than piqued.
We each must decide with every interaction what response will we choose and how we will live with the consequences thereof. This is the difficult stage upon which the essential struggles of life play out. As we transitioned from the needs of tribal and communal living for our survival to all out competition for consumption our focus on self has been refined and honed to fit choices we believe best for us in lieu of the costs or harm to others. As we soon discover, what is in our best interest, consistently isn’t. Our self-centered indulgence is the taproot of our problems. This is the single commonality at the heart of our carnal and worldly lifestyle choices.
Those desiring or choosing a spiritual guided inner compass must first come to grips with its reality to embrace, accept, and then to make changes. It is this desire to act upon a newness of self that predicates the pivotal difference in our journey as we prepare to move forward renewed instead of being mired in a continual confluence of issues and life relationship struggles. Our decisions become choices between the known, and the unknown. Between the relative positive or negative consequences. And yet deep within each of us exists a spark of recognition that we innately understand this causational relationship.
By our very existence we each possess a spiritual ‘pilot light’ burning within our soul. Somewhere along life’s journey, for some that light is extinguished. For some it burns, for many it flickers only to return to a dormant state. For a few, spirituality takes hold and the flame roars to life illuminating a new way of understanding, a new way of living and a renewed way of responding. Many guided by the resourcefulness of the spirit learn a new balance in the risk-reward equation. One which relies on faith filled confidence and trust.
There are vast numbers of people who are observing extensively repeated media coverage of a celebrated few and their bauble lifestyles. Most of these people are busy dealing with their daily activities perhaps with daydreams of a ‘cast to the winds’ lifestyle that the wealthy seem to enjoy endlessly.
We live in the world. As such we are exposed to the world’s ways and its material laden desires. It is only natural our goals and accomplishments tend to be measured by the world’s rewards. The trappings of fast lane living may entice, but within its pompous illusions comes risk, here and hereafter. Spiritual presence allows girded balance which promotes longevity of more peaceful and calm living.
Is there a difference between spiritual living and carnal living? Definitely!
Is one boring and the other thrilling? Perhaps but realize, each of us hears the sirens’ call as to which life path holds our reward, and at what risk.
What compels us to respond or behave in the ways we do? Of course it’s choice, but what motivates our choices? Choice is the lynch-pin between our thoughts and desires to respond, and our actions of doing so. In almost every case of voluntary decision our first inclination of response is most often to do what we want. That is, we proceed with a responsive action we think will bring us the result we desire or intend for ourselves. After years of commercial advertising bombardments and layers of socialization reinforcing a misconceived notion that we deserve everything we desire and we deserve to have it immediately, it is no wonder that our initial approach to every opportunity is to ‘get mine’ or ‘do what I want’ regardless of any potential negative fallout or harm to ourselves or others. We trust ourselves and our instincts implicitly concerning our situations and therefore propel ourselves forward often with abandon. In doing so, it’s possible to suffer consequences in both the short and long terms. It is when those consequences in fact turn out to be detrimental to our well being that we often turn to “God” for either consolation or as the object of disdain or disappointment upon which to place our blame, disgust and hatred for not allowing our heartfelt wish to become our realty. In a state of anger we may verbally or mentally reject God for having rejected our desire. And so we drift, farther from the omnipotent source which we think, believe, have been told, or taught exists and will be there for us.
With each opportunity or choice/decision we have before us we instinctively rely on three essential thoughts;
1. Past experience
2. An internal belief in a positive or negative outcome, and
3. A benefit to ourselves.
Before we actually decide and take action, choices play out (in split seconds) within the mind as possibilities related to these three are mentally examined. We desire and tend to see (decision) opportunities as a way of advancing ourselves in some manner or position with little to no regard for possible negative consequences. When decisions and choices are presented to us for a response we are usually focused on the outcome we desire. We often remain intent on that outcome at the expense of giving thought to any negative possibilities. A highly negativity consequence should immediately turn us away from proceeding further with our choice, but not always. An example would be “Driving Under the Influence.” If I am intoxicated enough to cause harm to myself or others by driving, three outcomes are possible; A. I may cause or be involved in a collision, B. I may be arrested by the authorities, or C. I make it home without either of the other two taking place. Innately I know that the odds are against me two-to-one and by the very nature of statistics if I continue to drive under the influence repeatedly the odds of a negative outcome increase. Based on my knowledge of the possible costs of the negatives I should have a designated driver, ride with a sober driver, or call a taxi if I am going to drink or imbibe controlled substances and require transportation. This is just one example. Perhaps you are familiar with others where life, limb, or even your general well being are or have been at risk by ignoring your three precursor thoughts when faced with a decision of active response.
As stated, our first instinct is to trust ourselves and our ability to control our own decisions. After all we each have a lifetime history of making choices (and we each know where that has led.) And yet, most of us continue down the same path relying on the same patterns of choice and decision we are comfortable with regardless of any ‘not-so-good’ outcomes we also may be familiar with. So why is it we implicitly trust our decision making process in the face of so many prior ill-advised choices? More bluntly, why do we keep making the same fateful choices and mistakes? Don’t we trust ourselves? Or perhaps more aptly put, why do we continue to trust others who persistently and continually influence or take advantage of us thereby doing us harm? If we no longer trust ourselves to make good decisions or choices, to whom or which of them do we turn?
Is God Real? Is Satan Real? Many believe so, others doubt it. If we are on our own in all of this are either of them influencing our choices and decisions? For the believer in God’s existence, He may (or may not) be an invited guest dwelling within. For the nonbeliever, God is a moot point.
When we act upon a choice, one of them may have had influential subconscious input at our precipice point of decision. It’s been said, ‘God tests, while Satan tempts’. The temptations and ways of the ‘prince of this world’ are ever present, prompted and promoted. It is within the bounds of self-indulgent achievements and motivations upon which the material world exists and moves ever forward. Keeping one’s focus on self-gratification at all times, in all ways and at all costs makes our choices and direction not only easy, it also relieves us of any responsibility for harm or disappointment we might cause in our quest for total self-fulfillment.
Given our historic pattern of ‘errors in judgment’ it’s no wonder we begin to doubt not only our choices and decisions but the active or inactive presence of an ‘omnipotent other source’ we know, or knew, or at one time trusted to guide and help us, instead of mock and punish us. Needless to say many of us have become ‘gun-shy’ and therefore hesitate to examine our options more fully prior to jumping into action. When we make a choice which leads to actions based on self-aggrandizement regardless of the means or outcome, we can rest assured there has been no interference from God and total support from the forces of evil in the world.
By not trusting God’s presence to be in our lives we absolve ourselves of moral and ethical imperatives toward ourselves and others. This is exactly what the wiles and wills of evil in the world under the tutelage of Satan desire, for he is always actively involved with influencing our every material and carnal desire. Abdicating moral or ethical adherence invites active indoctrination of distrust for ourselves and our choices/decisions. The dichotomy here is that God will neither interfere with our desire to disobey His moral and ethical guidance, nor will He punish us, or absolve us of the consequences by the choices we make. In a nutshell, we really are on our own until we decide to pursue God. For this reason we must learn to trust our choices/decisions and be assured that when we make and act upon them, they truly are in our own best interests. So how do we do this?
God may (or may not) be present, Satan may (or may not) be present, but in the end we are on our own. We must own our choices, decisions and actions. How do we go about trusting ourselves and in so doing trust God (if that is our relationship desire)? We must remember that as believers in His existence and Holiness, His desire for us is as a loving parent who wants only the best for His children. Again, for the nonbeliever, this is a non-issue. They trust themselves and their choices/decisions no matter the outcome. Their motto; “Win some, lose some.” But for us, the believers who have accepted His presence in our lives, either little or much, long ago or today, by trusting His Word and His Spiritual presence/guidance within, we can learn to truly, in every instance trust ourselves with each and every choice or decision we make.
How does this process work? First we must realize that God will not decide for us. That’s what the blessing of ‘Free Will’ is all about. Our choices must be ours to make. This is the fundamental upon which a relationship with God is established and continues, for if we choose to have (or not) a spiritual relationship with God, it must be of our own volition. Once we understand God will not interfere or attempt to coerce us in deciding; either about Him, about our relationship with Him, or about the daily options and opportunities we encounter, we will come to realize that if our efforts are aligned with His for us, then our choices and decisions will be truly in our own best interests. Through this spiritual nature they will then be morally and ethically grounded. Within such a framework each decision/choice and action will be in our best interest. With His spiritual presence and guidance to aide in our thought decisions and subsequent actions we will successfully build a new track record of good choices with positive outcomes, and good choices by avoiding ahead of time, negative producing outcomes. As we grow and experience more positive results in our choices and as we avoid the negative fallout from decisions that we now side-step instead of initiating, we will be aware of His presence more fully and know our spiritual relationship is strengthened. Through continued success in trusting ourselves to make better decisions and choices our confidence is bolstered to new levels where we decide, and He concurs.
If you have seen or read the news in recent days you may be familiar with the phrase “Je suis Charlie” meaning “I am Charlie” [Hebdo], referencing a public outpouring of support and recognition of a psychological solidarity movement in response to the terror attacks and killings by Islamist fundamental jihadists in Paris, France. More recently this same phraseology (Yo Soy Nisman; “I am Nisman”) has appeared in Argentina referencing the [apparent] suicide of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, although some believe he was murdered by Islamic agents of the Iranian government. In both cases the phrase “I AM” is employed and displayed prominently to bring attention and support to a consciousness of unity in confronting terrorist acts. In a unique dichotomy, different groups continue to clash along ethnic, racial and religious divides, yet the trouble seems exacerbated by responses of right wing groups and neo-conservative fundamentalist factions, such as the ‘Pegida’ in Germany, the right wing ‘National Front’ in France, the ‘Tea Party’ in America, and of course ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Harem and others of their ilk in the middle east. While responses by western neo-conservatives has yet to reach a crescendo as blatantly abhorrent, deadly or destructive as some Islamic groups, those in the west can be just as bombastic in their inflammatory rhetoric and their ‘just beneath the surface’ fatal desires or perhaps, intentions. In America we see this clash exhibited primarily in racial or xenophobic responses to those not Caucasian or what once was anti-WASP in the early and mid-twentieth century, is now more skin color and ‘anti-Christian’ lifestyle directed. In parts of Europe and most of the Middle Eastern and/or North African countries confrontations often have a root cause between those of fundamental Islam and [sometimes] Jewish (religious) cultures. Most clashes in other countries or parts of the world are focused primarily on religious differences between Christians, Jews, Muslims and/or Buddhists populace combinations.
The response of most “I AM” participation is an attempt to draw together many who prefer the use of peace and cooperation to defy terrorist acts under banners of freedom, free speech, free expression to bolster political dissent and/or compromise as indeed stronger than violence. And that coexistence coupled with social cooperation, even if at odds at times, may still prevail in an ever changing world. Neo-Conservative Fascists in democratic, republic, and parliamentary countries often use programmed change through legislation, denial or elimination of public [assistance] programs (for those who often need them most), or police state tactics to ‘keep order’, whereas terrorists see only deadly force and acts of violence as both the ‘means and the ends’ methods to impose their fundamentalist doctrines and beliefs on others.
In our postmodern world the exclusionary didactics between different conservative extremist groups of like, yet oppositional fundamentalism come into contact and into conflict with each other’s bellowing expletives of superiority through both in oratory and actions. Likewise, the “I AM” of extreme right fundamentalism and left-leaning progressive reactionaries go at each other on every available opportunity and stage; political, economic, social, religious, sectarian, provincial and/or parochial, fighting each other as individuals and groups. It’s no mystery that this “I AM” identity and label within these different groups and interests who use as their declaration to others and to the world at large is so closely connected to the “It’s All About Me” syndrome purposed and propagated by twenty-first century social media technologies. We now live in a world of exhibitionists competing for time, space and attention in a world of voyeurs.
In this mix of ‘Always getting my way’ and ‘What’s in it for me?’ ‘My group, right or wrong’ and ‘My way or the highway’, there does exist one more “I AM”. The original “I AM”. The “I AM” of brotherhood and sisterhood, the “I AM” of Peace and Love and Truth.
When God described Himself for mankind He said simply, “I AM”.
He said to Moses, “I AM Who I AM” and “. . .say to them, ‘I AM’ has sent me” (Ex3:14).
It is through this and only this one, “I AM” that we who long for peace and love and truth should strive to identify with and emulate. It is when we as individuals, and group participants declare “I AM” as a reflection of God’s true nature and character that His spiritual strength and wisdom will defeat the enemies of truth and love. By making this one declarative and emulative statement of belief of truth our own, we can move forward against evil and terror in all its forms and incantations of racism, bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, hatred.
The one and only “I AM”; (God, Allah, Adonai, Para Brahman) explained the action required to make
“I AM” your reality, my reality, our reality: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In the Hawaiian language, "Mana'o" (ma na o) is the word used to describe 'thoughts, ideas, and opinions'.
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