New Year - New Opportunities
A Spiritual Road Map From God...i believe
The universe operates on the forces of opposition.
Life and death. Light and dark. Positive and negative. Good and evil. Right and wrong. Obedience and rebellion. You get the picture. The same is true for living beings.
The animal kingdom exists in a constant cycle of survival. For mankind the exception to this unending pattern is the evolution of civility. However, the duality of oppositional living is made real for each of us as evidenced by the struggles, fallout, outcomes and emotional or psychological baggage we each carry with us throughout life resulting from our choices and actions.
It is the desire and quest of many people to reach a balance which allows enjoyment, or at least a modicum of peace.
The questions become; ‘How can this balance be established and experienced?’
‘Where does one go to get it?’
‘How does one change future choices and decisions to positively impact one’s ability to produce appropriate responses?’
Perhaps this sounds familiar
If you can be described as ‘fallen away’ you might be one who had exposure to, or experienced ‘religion’;
Do you ever hear yourself saying, or thinking?
I haven't been motivated to investigate spirituality because of my negative feelings, my time limitations or my situation but I would like to find a way of attaining more peace in my life. I would like to reduce or eliminate the struggles that pull at me and often drag me down. The truth is, there is an inordinate amount of pain associated with living this way.
There are those who know little or nothing about spirituality as part of life and daily living, and although they desire to know more they do not want to be ‘forced, coerced, converted or tricked’ into following or believing something because someone else says so, cajoles, convinces, or attempts to make them feel guilty, embarrassed, bad or ashamed. Most likely they have had plenty of that. Whether ‘fallen away’, or one with little or no religious experience who might be described as ‘searching, seeking or disbelieving’ when presented with spirituality, many ask; “What’s in it for me?”
Perhaps you have wondered or question the role of religion in your life.
Every person who is about to start on a path of spiritual exploration needs to understand one basic fact; It is possible for you to have a personal spiritual relationship with the Lord God, without interference or influence of priest, pastor, pope, rabbi, imam or any self-described or recognized ecclesiastical leader.
In addition one must realize that religions are ‘man-made’. They exist most often to force ‘a square peg into a round hole’ using scriptural interpretation, dissemination and control. Religions’ purpose is to guide and aid the spiritual sojourner on their path to a relationship with God. Sadly, most if not all religions have morphed into entities which control, admonish, and coerce the individuals in their care and charge through administration and admonishment of fear, rather than the embrace of God’s words.
The process of confession used by the Roman Catholic Church is a perfect example of religious manipulation. The parishioner has engaged in (what is deemed) 'sinful' behavior. He or she (the sinner) is then prompted to confess these behaviors to a church clergyman. As a penance for the transgression(s), the parishioner in question is to ‘repent’ and pronounce contrition through ‘prayers (to) and petitions (of) in the name of (the Virgin) Mother Mary. Upon completion of these requests the parishioner is (to be) cleansed and (receive) forgiven(ess). This offer of relief is repeated weekly (or as needed), for those who have ‘sinned’ (or continue to sin).
This pomp and circumstance activity is well known to practicing (and non-practicing) Catholics. There are two controlling issues within this activity. First it involves an intermediary the clergyman (or two, if you count Mother Mary) between the ‘sinner’ and God (be that God the father, or Son) and Trinitarian forgiveness of sin by God (Father, Son, and/or Spirit). The process of penance, the repentance part, (which is often left out by the sinner) in this act of confession, is the seventh step required in the seven steps of action on the part of the individual for actual forgiveness (by God).
One non-religious example of this failed process can be seen, and is played out daily the world over in abusive relationships. The 'perpetrator' abuses the 'victim' and each time then apologizes and begs 'forgiveness'. The victim relents and in-so-doing perpetuates the opportunity and availability that the behavior of abuse will be repeated again in the future.
These steps to/of forgiveness are:
Without these seven steps true forgiveness is neither obtained nor granted. By its very nature a continued and repetitive need for confession is evidence these steps have not been fully assimilated by the heart and mind of the transgressor. Neither has any ‘future changed behavior’ been adhered to.
This is particularly evident by those who participate in the same ‘sinful' or abusive behaviors repeatedly.
Let me emphasize that; without a change in future's (repeated past) behavior Repentance cannot be fulfilled, either by God (for us as individuals), or as given or received by us in our relations with others.
Heartfelt repentance results in changed behavior by secession of prior ‘sin filled’ activities.
Secession takes place by a desire to cease and desist old behavior patterns and subsequently live renewed.
For those affected by new behaviors the reward is changed behavior toward others.
For the repentant Christian the blessing is the reward, by responding more Christ-like.
Options to keep one moving forward and staying on target
We all have choices in life. Choices everyday as to how we will respond the events, people and circumstances that come our way requiring our personal decisions. In each and every instance of response we must determine if we will act and react; the world’s way? Or in a spiritual way?
Balance within the universe hinges and operates on oppositions. So too it is with each of us.
As such, the question becomes, “Will we respond according to our human interests, or our spiritual interest?”
The first aligns our egos and desires for perceived self-advancements and fulfillment.
The second allows us to become recipients of guidance, both in this life and any postmortem existence to come.
If you have ever suffered the consequences of a decision gone wrong or the negative outcome of a choice, and then had the opportunity to contrast it to the peace and understanding associated with a spirit led decision, the difference can be like night and day.
The questions become;
How does one repeat the patterns of positive outcomes in lieu of negative experiences?
What is it that can make the difference at the moment of decision?
What act or point of reference and reflection can ignite a spark of decision?
The answer is: change in thought.
How does one initiate that singular change in thought?
By asking; What is in my best interest in regard to this particular choice before me?
The grace of God as creator is found in the inimitable ways He has designed humans and given their brains the power and ability to think and process numerous thoughts or ideas. However, it is only possible to have one cogent thought within any given moment of time. That is, we can only process to completion one thought at a time. If you are entertaining a thought of action by which you question, or more importantly, innately know the outcome of your action/reaction to be adverse or in opposition to your best interest, you simply have but to change or eliminate that thought, by its replacement of another, in order to alter your potential choice or decision.
Seeing through different eyes allows one to move beyond what was thought possible
Many years ago there was a movement (more correctly, a marketing campaign) among Christians, whereby the fundamental idea was of extreme value for those who wanted or needed a first step toward Christian spiritual enlightenment and practice. This marketing effort or fad like so many others ran its course, never to be heard from again. It was advertised as “WWJD?” Or, What Would Jesus Do? The individual was to ask this question prior to or whenever a choice or decision needed to be made in any particular situation. In short; to emulate the thoughts, words and deeds of Jesus (as their master spiritual teacher) by guiding their pending action(s).
Missed in the sales campaign was the benefit of an answer.
For the believer and follower of Christ the answer was believed to originate with and from God, by the very nature of our human consciousness through faith.
For those seeking, searching, wandering or questioning, guidance is also provided for we are each a product of God’s creation and His love and respond to each no matter our circumstances.
This process of turning to the Lord in times of need always proves to be fruitful whether we oblige or not, for his answer is always true. God cannot, nor will he ever advise or lead one astray. He allows the outcomes of our decisions and the weight of our choices to rest with us not him, should we choose to ignore his guidance or deny his response to our current dilemma.
The secrets of value received
With every expenditure of self you expect a return, whether you are on a spiritual path or not.
If you have had any significant life experiences you know that you “get what you pay for” in time, energy, or effort. You may have heard it said, ‘you reap what you sow.’ In reality, it can’t be any other way. Nothing in, nothing out.
The question becomes, How to get more and better results for the amount you've invested?
The way to do this is NOT to attempt and force a square peg into a round hole. If an action or response seems inappropriate, it probably is. (No matter how much we may desire it to be otherwise.)
Remember, there is a balance in life and the closer we come to maintaining that balance the less resistance or oppositional friction we produce or endure.
The key to understanding and applying this concept is in recalling our past choices and their outcomes. If we have made a decision or choice in a previous or similar situation that was problematic, why would we want to experience that negative outcome again? Why would we continue to attempt to drive that square peg (our inappropriate response) into a round hole (producing an outcome we know by innate understanding and experiential learning not to be in our best interests.)
This example represents the essence of growth filled learning and changed patterns in behavior.
Square peg, round hole equals tension, turmoil and resistance. Round peg, round hole equals smooth transitions and rewarding outcomes.
Discovering how to anticipate, understand, and resolve issues that have been holding one back
Ignorance may be bliss, but not often.
For many people a decision to examine and/or test a spiritual path is often delayed or avoided because of indecision as to which one may best match their anticipated desires or expectations.
The caveat of this statement may be many know so little about the tenets and practices of any particular spiritual path as to be unable to answer the question.
The two major premises of God...i believe are:
The two sides of this coin make different spiritual paths similar, but more importantly, make them different. When you know the basics of each, spiritual growth, discernment and choice becomes easier, while practice can become more effective.
The primary goal of a spiritual growth is to help one understand the concept and value of worthiness, which is essential for respect, appreciation and love. If you fail to respect and appreciate yourself, you will fail to respect and appreciate others. If you find yourself in situations where you are struggling or battling with others in relationships, it’s time to stop! Most instances of relationship disillusionment or frustration are separate because they are between the humanist you, and spiritual you. Not you and the other person. Spirituality reaches beyond and outside self, for spirituality is the foundation of applications in relationships; first with God as creator and then to others in your family, community, society and world.
So what’s in it for you? What is your benefit, your reward, for navigating a spiritual road map that will work for you, in your daily choices? More peaceful, harmonious living.
The focus of the world is on self. The focus of Satan as an archangel in God’s hierarchy was ‘self.' His fall from grace and heaven was a result of his desire to be equal with God, to be as God. And if he could not be on par with God, he was willing to be cast out of God’s presence forever to become the god of this world. Original sin had nothing to do with sex, it was about pride. Pride of self; the psychology of what we call ego. The making of ourselves as a god, with the focus (on the little god in our life) by way of us and our selfish desires.
Do you really have your own best interests at heart and in mind? Do you?
Have you made decisions and choices which caused, harm, frustration, despair or despondency?
Have you said and done things you wish you hadn't, but you did them anyway? Time and time again.
If you already have a base of experiential learning as a result of previous activities and responses and you repeat those actions again in the future, have you learned? Have you changed?
Do you have your best interests at heart and in mind?
Or does your self-centeredness disrupt you from learning and growing?
Does your desire to control and possess keep you from realizing God is greater than you are?
That only He knows what is truly best for you. That He is willing to guide and protect you every step along the path.
So what’s in it for you? What do you want? Do you want a life of selfishness, or selflessness?
The choice is yours. You can have one, or the other, but not both simultaneously. We either serve ourselves in the world’s ways, or we serve spiritually in the Lord’s ways.
If you want to reduce or eliminate the struggles of your life in the world, live a life guided by spirit, not by things of the world.
Every person who walks a spiritually guided path has fallen off, turned away, been discouraged and cursed God. If we didn't have free will to choose whether or not we would walk the path or stay on the path, what would be the point? Only by having the choice to walk, and subsequently stay on the path, or not, does spiritual guidance make any sense.
‘The Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow’ is you get to walk away with the tools and knowledge to gain more than you knew was there, but didn't know how to find. There is no punishment from God for not being or staying spiritually committed. The challenge of spiritual commitment comes from faith. Faith that God’s word is true and what he has said or says to us is true as well.
God is like a loving parent and his spiritual guidance is sometimes easy to hear and obey, while at other times is more difficult to hear and obey. The evidence is in the results which can only be seen and realized by doing and experiencing.
The joy and reward of surrender to his guidance and obedience to his word is the reduction and/or elimination of struggle in one’s daily life by conscious and continuous decisions to make better choices when presented with options.
For in depth exploration of spirituality you are welcome to discover more in God...i believe available in paperback or eBook editions here, or at Amazon, B&N, Apple Store, others.
In the Hawaiian language, "Mana'o" (ma na o) is the word used to describe 'thoughts, ideas, and opinions'.
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