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Transformation: The Love Habit Login/Join
 
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Most of all my heart overflowed with the love and freedom to be me.

Yes. Wonderfully said. So wonderfully said that I must intellectualize and philosophize for a moment and see if I can't kill this wonderful vibe that you've got going there, Freebird. Wink Just kidding. But I wanted to truly make a point. You've just shown me that there is talking about love and there is doing love. I tend to talk about it. I'm talking about it now�but hopefully with better purpose. But we tend to talk about things as a way to both approach them and yet keep them at a distance�at least I do. But love isn't necessarily talked about. It's something that's done. You just did it in your words. Wonderful words.

I had a medium-sized essay all prepared about love. And it's not bad, if I do say so myself. But it's not love. Rather, it's about love. And that's okay too, but I know for a fact that I too often blur this distinction. My words can get in the way of doing love because, let's face it, love is ultimately about surrender (of a lot of stuff, and to a lot of stuff) and it's about vulnerability. Love is not safe or sure. It's about daring to do love first and waiting for the reply�and then, incredibly, doing love no matter the reply. That's the nature of love. And that is hard to do, or becomes hard to do for various reasons.

We're taught to put up boundaries and to protect these boundaries. But love inevitably breaks down barriers. Those barriers that we put up, by the way, were never put up to keep out real love. Love is not a threat. But since we're all not walking around in the world distributing perfect love, we have to be prudent. But once hurt by imperfect love, prudence can quickly turn into an impenetrable barrier. And we then wonder why there is not more love in the world. Love is not an obstacle, but our desire to protect ourselves usually is. It's every person's right, of course, to defend themselves, but the impediments to love are always the same: our inability or unwillingness to put others ahead of ourselves, or at least put others on par with ourselves. And it's no wonder. That concept is totally counter-intuitive. The very vessel of our bodies and minds orients us first towards ourselves. That's our first orientation as children. The journey and struggle is always to move outwards. And, ironically, we might first make progress moving outwards by moving inwards, past our outer shell of inward-orientation. Deep inside we find the seeds of outward orientation and thus love. It's a process, for whatever reason, that takes time and takes intention. And surely it takes outside help as well. But we clearly have to want to go there too.

If it were simple to move toward love then we would not be complex creatures. But we are complex creatures. But there's still a quite simple aspect to love. This aspect transcends the issue of complexity, problems, and complications and goes straight to the heart of the matter: our unwillingness to let go of resentment, pride, greed, prestige, ego, and self-righteousness. Why are we unwilling? Why do we resist? Isn't it self-evident that love is the place to be?

I believe self-deception is part of the problem. We believe we can have both love and all these other things. We believe we can love and hold onto our resentment, pride, greed, prestige, ego, and self-righteousness. We probably believe we're justified in having some of these things, that to let go of them would be an injustice and thus unloving. We may even confuse some of these things with love itself. But I think the main point is that we fool ourselves into believing that these things are stepping stones on the way to love, that they somehow make us more worthy or more capable of love. It's an easy enough mistake to make. Love is at the top of the hierarchy. It's king of the hill. We may see the attainment of love as a process of deservedness, of adding on, of attainment, of following rules and guidelines -- and not that some of these don't help set the stage for love. But I think love is a process of letting go. We need to let go of resentment, inappropriate pride, excessive ego, and self-righteousness. Love is not built on these things. Love is a surrender. Love is vulnerability. Love is consideration of others as much as oneself, if not more.

Like I said, I too often talk about love instead of doing it. And the essay came out anyway, more or less. Oh well. I hope it was at least half motivated by love.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We need to let go of resentment, inappropriate pride, excessive ego, and self-righteousness [in order to move to love as an orientation].

How does one do that?

Forgiveness, acceptance, humility.
Forgiveness, acceptance, humility.
Forgiveness, acceptance, humility.

Forgiveness of others. Forgiveness of ourselves. Acceptance of others. Acceptance of ourselves. That's not easy, but I believe it to be the path. It's hard, but perhaps still harder is the next question:

Why does one do that? Why would we want to become more unconditionally loving when we're bombarded each day with evidence that this isn't how the world seems to really work and that it is conditional love that rules the day? Many of us live our lives like the boy with his finger stuck in the dike, patching leaks as fast as we can, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, juggling time, juggling money, clawing and scraping just to get by. Where is there room in this precariously balanced Rube-Goldberg-like system to let down our guard? Why would one do that? Why would one take the extra effort toward unconditional love and thus seemingly expose oneself to extra danger and risk? Isn't it enough just to be friendly, civil, and/or loving to our close circle of friends and associates? Why should one bother to walk in the world wherever one goes in the manner of a Mother Theresa? Isn't that an unrealistically high standard? Isn't that just getting a little carried away with this concept of sisterly and brotherly love?

Well, this is where I think the rubber hits the road in terms of religious beliefs. Does one believe the world is meant to be ordered in a particular way or not? Is belief in god just an investment in life insurance or is it a commitment to love assurance? I would think the point is not just to exist, whether here or in the hereafter, but the point would be how we exist. I know of no excuse, of nothing that lets us off the hook from loving now and loving as best we can.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Wow Brad are you climbing the mountain! Smiler What a great place that you are coming from with all your revelations.

That's it Brad. you've got it- forgiveness for yourself and others together with unconditional acceptance and humility brings forth the fruits of love.

I don't watch television, but do enjoy videos of older films that I just started to watch again the last couple of years. Last night I watched the sorrowful film "Leaving Las Vegas". I bet everyone has seen it except for myself. The heart wrenching tale of an alcoholic and a prostitute. What touched me so deeply was the acceptance of one another without the need of having to change themselves to be loved and to be accepted. Here was the unconditional love we all yearn for with its' joys and pains. The prostitute had a most tender heart with a love so pure and giving. The ending of their relationship was destined for a separation by his death yet the happy moments of just being together outweighs any relationship that puts demands and stipulations on a long lasting affair or marriage.

Don't we all want to be loved in such a giving and unconditional love?. This is exactly how God does love us all, no matter who we are, saint or sinner, uncondionally Our Heavenly Parents embrace us with Their Light of love as the children They created in and through Their love.

We live pretty similar lives Brad in our solitude and silence. I recall from one of your posts from last year,{great memory), as to how you enjoy your brother's son, your nephew, and how you wished for a relationship and marriage to also have children, the problem was finding a wife compatable with you. This may be a reality for you yet to come. For now the treasures of your heart and truths are coming forward in a great abundance. You may not have had this opportunity to discover these wonderful pearls of wisdom you give to us, would your life now be consumed with the care and love of a family. What great gifts God is giving to you by your healing, learning and sharing with us. Should a prospect of a future wife be meant for you, she will appear when you are centered within your own being, and than free to give of yourself in this unconditional love, without the fear of rejection. It truly starts with loving ourselves first before we than are capable to love another.

The power to Love is God's greatest gift
to man, For it never will be taken from
the Blessed one who loves.

Smiler
 
Posts: 571 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 20 June 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Don't we all want to be loved in such a giving and unconditional love?

Yes, and I have the sneaking suspicion that we all want to be capable of giving unconditional love, for then our lives would be set. We would have everything that we needed.

I don't remember if I've seen "Leaving Las Vega", but I might have to check that out sometime.

You may not have had this opportunity to discover these wonderful pearls of wisdom you give to us, would your life now be consumed with the care and love of a family. What great gifts God is giving to you by your healing, learning and sharing with us. Should a prospect of a future wife be meant for you, she will appear when you are centered within your own being, and than free to give of yourself in this unconditional love, without the fear of rejection. It truly starts with loving ourselves first before we than are capable to love another.

Wow, that may be my "June Bloom" comment. Thank you for that. You'll have to have Terri explain the context of that, but my deep, deep gratitude goes to you this day, Freebird, for such loving, wise, generous, and uplifting thoughts. Thank you.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Self love may be one of the most difficult of all "love habits" to learn. And I'm not sure why. I think a lot of pure psychology is involved in this. I think we acquire lots of specific habits that have little to do with spirituality. So we might, for instance, pray for spiritual guidance and awakening until the cows come home when what we need is still guidance, of course, but perhaps guidance on dealing with stuff on a lower level of the hierarchy of existence, the level of psychology, for example.

And no doubt many have picked up the idea that self-love is selfish. We think of the Mother Theresa's of the world and see how they are so giving. But as you said, Freebird, and as I firmly believe, "It truly starts with loving ourselves first before we then are capable to love another."

We can look at this issue of fixing self-loathing from the standpoint of just willingly trying to love ourselves. And I think this is no doubt the way to go. "Keep it simple stupid" can be a very good approach. Instead of spending enormous amounts of energy on thinking and analyzing, one could instead spend that energy on directing one's mind, heart and will toward loving oneself. And yes, that is surely going to take some energy, which is surely a sign that there is some resistance. Because we often struggle with self-love, and our self-loathing can be so persistent and resistant to change, perhaps it would be helpful to look at self love from another point of view and that would be by asking the question: Why do we want to continue hating ourselves?

To me, that is at least part of the answer concerning why self-loathing can often be so persistent and resistant to change. We're perhaps fulfilling some hidden need by avoiding self-love. I have little doubt that much of the reason is that self-protection is overriding any movement toward self love. The survival instinct often is supreme (something which perhaps only spirituality can overturn by giving us a new perspective on our lives other than survival). When survival-instinct is in charge it's going to cause us to go into a staunch pain-avoidance mode. We haven't forgotten the pain that caused us to be self-loathing in the first place, thus any idea of loving ourselves, of coming back to the surface again, might likely be overridden (quite rationally, from a certain point of view) by our survival instinct. To love ourselves again is to make ourselves vulnerable again to being torn down. We may be thinking that it is best to stay small, to stay in the state we're in now on the bottom floor rather than to rise up only to be smashed down again on the concrete basement floor.

But I think it goes even deeper than that. The survival instinct overriding our re-integration of self-love is surely a part of it, but I think an even deeper and more fundamental answer lies below, because most who are self-loathing are not at all unfamiliar with pain � vast amounts of it � and might willingly (I know I would) endure even more pain to get back to self-love. We can "do" pain. No problem. The problem, rather, may be one of belief. You can't convince us that we aren't inherently flawed and that we can change or perhaps even should change because, after all, here's the evidence staring you right in the face. I'm self-loathing. Doesn't particularly matter how I got this way. The fact that I got this way shows the flaw. Case closed. Hamilton Burger wins another one over Perry Mason in our upside down world. If I'm self-loathing, well, then at least I've gotten something right. To be so weak as to be self-loathing is to be worthy of self-loathing. And like the rest of those authority figures (ones who, ironically, may have caused the self-loathing), I'm in agreement on this point and thus am not alone. But now someone wants to come along and tell me that this self-caused pain has been a waste of time? Where then goes my sense of meaning, perhaps even my sense of martyrdom? I'm gonna be right about something even if it's about being wrong deep-down.

And thus perhaps with this state of mind, as well as other possible scenarios, we develop Teflon souls upon which good things refuse to stick. And just by having this Teflon soul (we may not think of it in this way, but we know the concept exists, even if unconsciously) we receive further proof of our inherent flawed nature. Case closed again. Hamilton Burger wins again. Circular reasoning like this becomes next to impossible to escape. And in a certain, strange way, we recognize this black hole of despair and somewhat reconcile ourselves to it. And by doing so (because we can find nothing else we can do) we rationalize good out of this situation. We may think we "deserve" it. We may stay in our smallness, our self-loathing, as away to avoid smudging others with ourselves, as if we were in a foxhole and were jumping on a grenade to save our buddies. Once we believe we are flawed, and cannot escape this fact, all one is left to do is to try to cover it up and to rationalize some deep-down excuse for it to give our lives meaning. We remain stuck in our circular reasoning. One can see, as Einstein said that "You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created." But if so, why is self-loathing so often resistant to even counseling and spirituality?

Liking ourselves may require the biggest leap of faith imaginable. It's one thing to believe in god, an entity who we can't see and must imagine (and always half suspect is nothing more than our imagination). Our god concepts can stay relatively clear and pristine because they are inherently much further away from contradiction and falsification. But our own lives are in front of our eyes at every moment. And whether it is by being alone, being sad, being isolated, being unloved, or loathing ourselves, there can be a constant stream of almost incontrovertible evidence of our flawed nature right before our eyes. And it's little use to say that this flawed nature is an illusion, that it is "all in our minds" because we'll just tell you "Yes. I know this. I have a flawed mind that makes this so." More circular, seeming inescapable reasoning. If the existence of some disruptive process were not the case, why would we not almost immediately come back to loving ourselves after being knocked about a bit by life? Somehow our very insides, our inner processes, are shanghaied and put to work reinforcing this outer message of flawedness. This may simply be our human way of trying to control the situation or to bring forth coherence and thus to try to banish chaos (which is an untenable situation to live in). But in order to escape this situation, I think it requires a trust and leap of faith worthy of the trust and faith required of our god concepts. We must trust we are good despite the everyday evidence. We must trust that we can heal despite the everyday failures and setbacks. We must dare to believe in ourselves as good, which is an entity that we can't yet see and must imagine (and thus half suspect is nothing more than a figment of our imagination).

I think in many ways we might correlate our trust in god with our own degree of self-love. Is our doubt in god perhaps larger than we acknowledge if our self-love is not so strong? Can we really believe we were created good by an all-loving being if we struggle so with loving ourselves? Or, conversely, if our god-concept is one of a harsh, vengeful, and stern god, and our belief in this god is strong, how strong can our own self-love really be?

Atheist, agnostic, or otherwise, for those struggling with life's problems, including self-love, it would do well to remember those words of Einstein that "You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created." We all need some help. We can't do it alone. Whether the answer is counseling or praying � or both � is way beyond my ability to know. But it seems clear to me that unless we take a real leap of faith of some kind and trust in our goodness, despite whatever evidence we see before us to the contrary, we can remain stuck where we are and might likely use counseling or spirituality as little more than objects in the service of our inner Hamilton Burgers, not our Perry Masons.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think this is a great thought from Henri Nouwen from his book, The Inner Voice of Love. Getting to love can very often mean wading one's way through a whole lot of pain and finding ways to deal with it so that it is instructive and does not remain an obstruction.

quote:
The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them, better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them. The choice you face constantly is whether you are taking your hurts to your head or to your heart. In your head you can analyze them, find their causes and consequences, and coin words to speak and write about them. But no final healing is likely to come from that source. You need to let your wounds go down into your heart. Then you can live them through and discover that they will not destroy you. Your heart is greater than your wounds.

Understanding your wounds can only be healing when that understanding is put at the service of your heart. Going to your heart with your wounds is not easy; it demands letting go of many questions. You want to know "Why was I wounded? When? How? By whom?" You believe that the answers to these questions will bring relief. But at best they only offer you a little distance from your pain. You have to let go of the need to stay in control of your pain and trust in the healing power of your heart. There your hurts can find a safe place to be received, and once they have been received, they lose their power to inflict damage and become fruitful soil for new life.

Think of each wound as you would of a child who has been hurt by a friend. As long as that child is ranting and raving, trying to get back at the friend, one wound leads to another. But when the child can experience the consoling embrace of a parent, she or he can live through the pain, return to the friend, forgive, and build up a new relationship. Be gentle with yourself, and let your heart be your loving parent as you live your wounds through.
I think a great accompany thought to the above, also by Henri Nouwen, and also from the same book, is:

quote:
�Still, as long as you keep pointing to the specifics, you will miss the full meaning of your pain. You will deceive yourself into believing that if the people, circumstances, and events had been different, your pain would not exist. This might be partly true, but the deeper truth is that the situation which brought about your pain was simply the form in which you came in touch with the human condition of suffering. Your pain is the concrete way in which you participate in the pain of humanity.

Paradoxically, therefore, healing means moving from your pain to the pain. When you keep focusing on the specific circumstances of your pain, you easily become angry, resentful, and even vindictive. You are inclined to do something about the externals of your pain in order to relieve it; this explains why you often seek revenge. But real healing comes from realizing that your own particular pain is a share in humanity's pain. That realization allows you to forgive your enemies and enter into a truly compassionate life�Every time you can shift your attention away from the external situation that caused your pain and focus on the pain of humanity in which you participate, your suffering becomes easier to bear. It becomes a "light burden" and an "easy yoke". Once you discover that you are called to live in solidarity with the hungry, the homeless, the prisoners, the refugees, the sick, and the dying, your very personal pain begins to be converted into the pain and you find new strength to live it. Herein lies the hope of all Christians.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My greatest desire intellectually or spiritually is to come upon a TOE (Theory of Everything) in regards to spiritual/psychological healing. It would be a set of rules or techniques that could help guide someone to healing, no matter their religion, no matter their cultural background, heck, no matter whether they were even human or not. It would explain the common problems we face and why they are there.

A lot of systems attempt to do this. Some, such as Christianity, seem to do so fairly well. But I�m looking for a more generic or universal model�or at least a model that explains the bits and pieces underneath, in between, or alongside such �ber-models as Christianity or, say, Buddhism � both which offer a model of salvation. Whether whatever model I come up with has to be consistent with these other models, or vice versa, is hardly on my mind. All I�m interested is finding connecting truths, larger themes, preponderancies of evidence, etc.

But considering that this is a Christian site, let�s start there. The following is from the book, Seeds of Hope, by Henri Nouwen:

quote:
Jesus is the Lord who came to save us by dying for us on the Cross. The wounds in Jesus� glorified body remind us of the way in which we are saved. But they also remind us that our own wounds are much more than roadblocks on our way to God. They show us our own unique way to follow the suffering Christ, and they are destined to become glorified in our resurrected life. Just as Jesus was identified by his wounds, so are we.

This mystery is hard to grasp, but it is of the greatest importance in helping us to deal with our own brokenness.

When I feel lonely, forgotten, rejected, or despised, I can easily be tempted to respond to these painful experiences with anger, resentment, and a desire for revenge. Much violence in our world is a desperate acting-out of that wounded inner self. But if I am willing to claim my woundedness as my unique way to the resurrection, then I may start caring for my wounds, knowing that they will identify me in my eternal life in God. What does this "caring for my wounds" mean? It means acknowledging them as revelations of my unique way of being human, listening to them as teachers who help me find my own way to holiness, sharing them as a source of consolation and comfort, and allowing others to pour oil on them and bind them in times of great pain.
First off, immediately in your minds contrast that with the idea of having to retaliate because someone "dissed" you. In the above, Nouwen expresses the complete opposite of that standard. But that is not some modern black standard, although I used a modern colloquialism. That standard goes back millennia. It still rules in much of the world today.

One might say the above Christian model, as briefly summarized by Nouwen, is that being wounded is part of living and that being wounded is to relate deeply and intimately with larger ontological realities. Therefore when one is wounded one isn�t necessarily lessened. Rather, one�s humanity, and even one�s connection with divinity, is revealed. Therefore there is no need to mindlessly lash out at those who transgress against us. With a proper understanding of how life works our more reflexive and fear-based instincts can be overcome.

In short, when the pressure applied to us can inspire compassion rather than violence, we have found a big clue to a very basic question. This happy result can obviously (but perhaps not always) occur when people diligently, forthrightly, and honestly adhere to the Christian model. Perhaps the Christian way is the only way and is the explanation for its own efficacy. If so, then end of discussion. But I can�t help thinking that some universals can be drawn out of it. After all, not all people are Christians, and not all people who are good are Christians either, not to mention that it sure appears that not all Christians are necessarily good people as well. But it should also be said that the Christian way most definitely and powerfully can work. So I would say that contained within the Christian model, at the very least, is a truth.

And I would say that this truth occurs on the spiritual level. Not that psychology isn�t important. We can obviously get so screwed up psychologically that we are unable to address or incorporate spiritual answers, but I think we�re ultimately talking about a spiritual answer. And it cannot just be any ol� spiritual answer, model, religion, paradigm, or superstition. That would be just fine if all we were trying to do was to illicit a psychological response. And surely I think there are whole religions (or parts of religon) and/or people in religion who go no further than that. And for some, that may be useful and it may be enough. But on the other hand, that may be one reason that religious belief often becomes a problem instead of a solution. To focus only on psychology is to miss something because psychology itself (our physical brains) are contained within some larger framework. Of course, dealing in such "spooky" territories as metaphysics and religion, we become less sure of things. But we can still measure the results of our beliefs. So that�s why I say that it is not just any old beliefs that will do. It�s not a psychological effect that we�re trying to induce but an ontological reality that we�re trying to connect with.

And perhaps our religious beliefs are never an exact match for that ontological reality, but by practicing those beliefs, as is, we probe into that reality and test their correspondence. One, for instance, can believe that the specific religious beliefs underpinning al Qaeda are true, but only if one believes that God is a viscous bastard and we humans are meant to murder and main because someone has "dissed" us. This logical possibility exists, of course. But our intuition of compassion and love � not to mention the concrete results we see all around us from the effects of compassion and love � leads us to believe that the universe is about more than just mayhem. It contains mayhem for some reason. But it is a primitive and likely inaccurate religion that does not go beyond the mayhem.

Wisdom, I think, is always a matter of seeing things from a larger perspective. And it is when we see our lives from a larger perspective that we can respond compassionately and not violently when we are stressed. But I think that can be only a part of the story. Even people who do not believe in heaven, who do not see some larger context, can be quite decent and compassionate. And even those who believe in heaven can become torturers and murderers. There is still some reason besides pragmatic existential gains that we tend toward violence or compassion. It seems to be the result partly of our choice and partly of things we can�t control. It may be due to the forces of good and evil battling or just the normal genetic diversity one would expect in a species. Or maybe that larger perspective is not one of places, rewards, or genes -- or even of some supposed shared Christ-like or god-like ultimate nature -- but of a soulful knowledge that our violent responses tend to increase suffering in the world. When we become atuned with goodness (for lack of a better analogy), it becomes solidly discordant for us to play songs against this tune. Ultimately, such internal promptings may not be rule-based and perhaps neither are they religiously-based. But surely we are grounded in Something when we choose compassion over violence. Perhaps in such times we are reading the sheet music right off Her pedestal.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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What comes to mind reading your post Brad is the innocence and purity of children. Remember the days of being a youngster when we liked someone just because we liked them and for no other reason, said reasons were not known to us. There was no asking if the other was a Christian, Buddhist, Jew, or Hindu; it didn't matter at all. Love was not feigned and was sincere in all of its expressions. When you were angry, you hit and struck out at the other,and when they bawled their head of you came running to hug and comfort a friend. Instead of talking of God, we allowed Him the freedom of working in and through us. Our parents hopefully were mature in their wisdom and teaching as they guided us along in our learning. Everyone was our teacher, dogs, cats, frogs, bugs, school teachers, family and friends. We learned through the tears and joys of these early years.

Then came adulthood and it was than that a wedge was forming between us and the others. The Atheists shared in their friendships as before, but we were faced with our loyalties and beliefs to one religion or spiritual group that beckoned us and our loyalties to same. Take your pick between enlightenment, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., formulas and alchemy, etc., all laid out on a spiritual smorgasboard. Now the childhood friends say come and be one with me by joining my group, and we will be one again like in the olden days as youngsters. When you decline their offers to join, the depart with see you around, you loser. Oh, what happened to these golden days of basking in the sunshine of love making no distinctions.

Scripture beckons us often to be like children, and we adults have now hidden behind the masks of grown ups suppressing the child that still longs expression from deep within us.

As our vessels are filled anew, may we be filled with God's light of love, mercy, graces, goodness and knowing that we are all the children of the One God. We really do not need more enlightenment and expanded consciousnesses. We do need to open our hearts, remove the crunch of separateness from them, and join hands once again in the brotherhood of humanity to hug our friends and help in their healing of wounds as they themselves embrace us in our healing as well.

I did an experiment yesterday which I have frepeated often. Picturing a man or woman pleading for help outside my front gate. I would not care if you are black, white, yellow, or if you are a Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, etc., I would run to help you and do all I can to ease your wounds and sufferings. Let us not wait for emergencies nor disasters until we finally open our hearts to our fellow human beings, no matter what beliefs they have.

It is love that is the superglue to give us the hope, faith and strength to make this world a better place with abounding compassion for all.
 
Posts: 571 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 20 June 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Now the childhood friends say come and be one with me by joining my group, and we will be one again like in the olden days as youngsters. When you decline their offers to join, the depart with see you around, you loser. Oh, what happened to these golden days of basking in the sunshine of love making no distinctions.

I think there are many ways to describe the conversion process (for sake of argument we'll say it's the conversion from crudeness to moral sophistication). But one way is surely to become child-like. I think you nailed that concept, Freebird. And to be childlike in our adult suits we have to don at least two crucial elements: the willingness to be hurt and the willingness to forgive.

A child is naturally child-like, of course. He or she doesn't know of all the dangers (god willing). He or she can live in a somewhat angelic world where the worst problem that he or she encounters is a scraped knee. But kids can be brutal too, as we all know. So growing up we get hurt, we are lied to, we are betrayed, and we probably do a little of this ourselves. And by the time we reach adulthood we've got a thick layer of muck on us, both protective muck and the muck that comes from having mucked with others.

And so if we wish to enter any sort of second childhood we already know the rules. We will be hurt. We will be lied to. We will be betrayed. And while that's not to say that we shouldn't be reasonably prudent, we have to be willing to be hurt as the price paid for being trusting, caring, open, available, compassionate, and loving. And to re-enter this game in the first place, to achieve a new child-like status, we have to be able to scrape off that accumulated muck of our own lies, our own betrayals, our own harm done to others. We must forgive and ask for forgiveness.

And maybe in this second childhood we can make fewer distinctions. We can enjoy more golden days.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Absolutely Brad SmilerMy parents have both died. Compassion, love, and forgiveness together with much healing has given me the inner peace of seeing them now not so much as my mother and father, but as fellow human travellers sharing a short experience of life together, and a heart filled with gratitude for giving me the experience of a birth into this life. They gave to parenting three children all that they were capable in their giving. This I honor and respect deeply without my dwelling on their inability to give more. This is very difficult to explain, because it is these very same incapabilities and lack of having greater parenting skills to give more of what I needed, or thought I needed, that helped form me into the person I have become, a person I like and love. Every experience starting from my childhood on may it have been negative and/or positive was a necessary, yet at times painful, catalyst in the potter's hand and distillery in molding my spiritual, mental and emotional growth and acceptance of myself and others.

These last 10 years I have worked extensively in releasing all past pain and trauma. Many times during these releases I have called upon Lord Jesus Christ to offer His graces in giving me true unconditional forgiveness for others as well as for myself. Through the power of God and His love I have succeeded and my heart only holds unconditional forgiveness and love for all who have ever graced my live. Will share more about my healing steps to this glorious gift of love as they come up.

This may explain as to why returning to my childhood I now only see through the eyes of spirit memories of goodness and love.
 
Posts: 571 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 20 June 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This is very difficult to explain, because it is these very same incapabilities and lack of having greater parenting skills to give more of what I needed, or thought I needed, that helped form me into the person I have become, a person I like and love.

Newton's third law is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The world of nature is coherent and intelligible. And if one believes that an intelligence created it then nature also reflects something of the Artist who created it. We might expect to see those same brushstrokes and themes elsewhere.

It is true that some people are hardened by the hard knocks of life. But it is equally true that many more people are drawn to compassion by these knocks. A harsh word can evoke an equal and opposite reaction: sympathy. We are not guaranteed an easy life, but one might see how balance always bounces out. If hard knocks produced nothing but hard knocks then the world, imperfect though it may be, would be a living hell. But the way the world works, we are not inherently stuck in suffering, although individual cases can be pretty bad. One can, of course, logically interpolate from there to the balancing "soft knocks" of an afterlife of some sort. It wouldn't surprise me. It would at least be consistent with the laws of nature as we know them.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The apophatic prayer

What do I want out of life today?
Nothing.
Who do I hate?
No one.

The cataphatic prayer

Praise others.
Praise yourself.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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When someone tells us that it is possible to be free from past hurts, pains, sorrow, suffering, blame, disappointments and betrayals, you could say surely this person is living a fantasy and is not part of the real world. Or else you realize that this state of being free is a possibility and a reality in living Brad's above prayer every single day.

The life I lead now is the life of Brad's prayer. The shackles that once bound me within a prison of my own creation and self-pity have fallen away. How do you suppose this all came to be, this freedom from slavery, trammels and travails of a tortured life like most of humanity.

I awoke and now walk in an awakened state. Oh we all think that we are awake, but I tell you that we are all asleep until we are quickened into aliveness by God's Holy Spirit and given our new birth, born of water and spirit, transforming into spirit bodies receiving everlasting life with God and the transformation of our minds to become as the mind of Christ.

Man is firmly convinced that he is awake; in reality, he is caught in a net of sleep and of dreams which he has woven himself. The tigher the net, the heavier he sleeps. Keep awake whatever you are doing! Do not imagine that you are already awake; no, you are asleep and dreaming. To be awake is everything. Your pains and sufferings will fall away like dead leaves from a tree when you feel your whole body awakening. You come forth out of the tomb of your dream state into life like Lazarus coming forth.

In our first birth we are brought here from, our mothers' wombs into a world of dreams, and illusions. We wander through life thinking that we are awake until the moment of truth comes upon us like a jolt by the quickening spirit as we are birthed anew.

It is the moment of the expansion of your heart filled with love when you understand with clarity the words of Jesus Christ: "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do". These living words of Christ are the graces given to you in your forgiveness of others and yourself. There is nothing then that you withhold from yourself and others in this miracle of love and life in your awakened state.

The new birth and awakened state of being is our bodies transformation into spirit. This is the reason that we have come to earth, to be born anew into our spirit bodies and to awaken to the promised life to come putting on the mind of Christ.

So to be awake is everything. The labor of coming forth into a full awakening is a long process, but daily the light grows in intensity lighting the path of your awakened state.

This state of being awake is described in scripture as the new earth were there will be no more tears nor sorrow, but a total oneness of all in an awakened state of everlasting life and love with God and having the mind of Christ.
 
Posts: 571 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 20 June 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Great thoughts, Freebird. Going down another path...

An episode of "Amazing Police Chases", or whatever that show is called, once featured a military tank that someone had stolen. The guy went on a rampage through town, running over parked cars, smashing things, etc. After leaving a trail of devastation in the suburbs he turns the tank onto the freeway and by this time is followed by a parade of police cars who are pretty much powerless to do anything but wait for the tank to run out of gas. So the tank is heading down this four lane freeway until the driver decides this isn't good enough or exciting enough, I guess, and steers the tank toward the other four lanes of on-coming traffic. But there is about a 2-and-a-half foot concrete barrier between the lanes of traffic. The usual type that you see between the lanes. It's a small thing � so much smaller and unassuming than all the other much larger and taller things that the tank had ran over or pushed out of its way effortlessly. But it gets hung up on this freeway divider like a beached whale. Chase ended.

I think most of us would be astonished, bewildered, and more than a little embarrassed if we could open up our brains and discover the small things that are obstructing our path toward love, friendship, creative expression, or service. I'm sure we're talking about very small things, but small things that exert an influence that belies their size. And if they are so small, how are they able to be such efficient obstructers? I don't know. I wonder what kind of glue does that.

Why barriers?
Why obstructions?
Why do we hold back pieces of ourselves?
Why can't I say I was wrong?
Why can't I say I love you?
Why do we stand apart?
What makes me so stingy?
I am not so fragile.
Why do I refuse?

If we join,
We both become greater.
We become stronger.
I give in.
Will you receive me?
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Dear Brad, I receive and accept you into my loving heart Smiler

The following poem will help us in understanding the difficulties faced in our adult lives in the giving and receiving love and acceptance for ourselves and others.

CHILDREN LEARN WHAT THEY LIVE

If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to feel shy.
If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
he learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
he learns to find love in the world.
 
Posts: 571 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 20 June 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The stories that can occur around just one star are mind-boggling.
Whole galaxies are like stars in the sky.
Easily tripping off our tongue is the idea that our own story is insignificant.
Bite your tongue.

The magnificence is multiplied.
One story is amazing, and how incredibly so is a billion.
And a billion billion billion.
Each story unique.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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[quote] but of a soulful knowledge that our violent responses tend to increase suffering in the world. When we become atuned with goodness (for lack of a better analogy), it becomes solidly discordant for us to play songs against this tune. Ultimately, such internal promptings may not be rule-based and perhaps neither are they religiously-based. But surely we are grounded in Something when we choose compassion over violence. [quote]

You are touching upon something that I have been reflecting on for months.

Is there something buried deep within us all? Almost like a very silent suggestive voice. Not a commanding or taunting voice. Are right and wrong contained within us @ a deeper level? Is right and wrong something universally more than just a commandment from God?

When we do something wrong does it cause so much pain because we are violating some hidden natural force in the universe? A force that even our innermost being is a part of? Maybe when we do the right thing we are more attuned to the force.

Why are so many right and wrong actions, only right or wrong, when you use love as your standard tool of judgment? Is love the invisible force guiding the conscience of the conscious beings in our universe?


Deep within us all I believe there is the knowledge of good and evil. Maybe there is meaning in the symbolic message of Eden. I don't know. If the story is true then we took that knowledge and paid a dear price for it.

We must experience all the possible consequences for our actions. Good or bad.

When we harm others I think it scars even our own hearts and soul.
 
Posts: 470 | Location: Greensboro, NC | Registered: 05 February 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Why does one do that? Why would we want to become more unconditionally loving when we're bombarded each day with evidence that this isn't how the world seems to really work and that it is conditional love that rules the day?
Because everything is worth it as long as there is at least one person out there in the world trying.

It is the struggle that appears to be so important. From day one life has struggled to maintain its existence. And from day one so has love. The reward of that struggle is that they (life and love) are both here today thanks to the effort.

That's the power of love. The power to stand up against adversity in a never ending stride towards righteousness. Love wouldn't even exist today if it was not supreme. Not in today�s materialistic society.

Yet love can appear in the most harden of hearts. I know from personal experience. If there is a chink in our armor love will find a way in.

Just like anything else love can be abused and misunderstood. But only the individual pays not the love. Love cannot be harmed. It is a cosmological constant of sorts.

Why would Abraham ask God to spare Saddam and Gomorrah for just a few good people? Why would God even agree?

So in reality unconditional love is really the ruler of the day. Conditional love is just a confusion of senses. I think most people would choose unconditional love if they were not so confused.

Love is natural but like anything else we try to mold it and shape it to our liking. To our wants, needs, time schedule. We want love to fit our perception of what it should be.

But love is unselfish in nature and cannot be manipulated in this way. This is where pain and rejection originate from. It's not the love that hurts us like we think it does. It is us hurting us.
 
Posts: 470 | Location: Greensboro, NC | Registered: 05 February 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I keep this prayer pinned to the bulletin board here at my computer. I believe it to be a great example of a transformative prayer.

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord,
make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen

Blessings,
Terri
 
Posts: 609 | Location: Oklahoma | Registered: 27 April 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Is there something buried deep within us all? Almost like a very silent suggestive voice. Not a commanding or taunting voice. Are right and wrong contained within us @ a deeper level? Is right and wrong something universally more than just a commandment from God?

When we do something wrong does it cause so much pain because we are violating some hidden natural force in the universe? A force that even our innermost being is a part of? Maybe when we do the right thing we are more attuned to the force.


Good comment, Eric. Consider this. Whether your lover kisses you on the lips or whether someone punches you in the mouth, nothing (as far as I know) but an electrical signal is going from the nerves of your lips to your brain. We can talk about perhaps different nerves being activated, or different strengths or kinds of signals being sent to the brain, but even then, why is one set of signals perceived as pleasurable and the other perceived as pain? What "decides" the feeling? Smacking one�s finger with a hammer just as well might elicit a pleasurable feeling.

I think when considering such questions we�re always led back to asking: What are the nature of our senses and consciousness? Where do they come from? What are they based on? In a purely random, mechanistic universe why should they be at all? Who needs them? Heck, in a godless universe the last thing one would expect is any kind of self-referential mechanisms. I would presume that random things (that is, random things like universes popping into existence from nothing as opposed to random events like rolling two die), by their very nature and definition, have no connection to their sources and don�t need to connect to their sources.

It seems to me that pleasure, pain, love, human judgment, and a ton of other senses and things are all fundamental building blocks out of which a quite rich, complex and nuanced morality can be built. Locate pleasure, pain, or love in a quark for me, will ya? Right now. I�ll wait. I�ll wait for days. Heck, I�m confident enough to say that I can wait for millennia and you won�t find traces of those things there. So when we say "built in" we really have to ask ourselves the implication of that choice of words. Built into what? Or perhaps Whom?
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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When we harm others I think it scars even our own hearts and soul.

If one is an atheist, that makes no sense. The whole idea of conscience makes no sense. Oh, one could talk about brain states or a certain pattern of neuronal connections in the brain as if that were the stand-in for such a thing. But take a deck of cards and throw all 52 cards in the air and let them individually hit the ground where they will and in whatever orientation that they will. Then step ten paces to your right and do that again with another deck of 52 cards. Now, look at the two patterns left by two sets of scatterings. Which one is scarred? Now imagine two sets of brains states resulting from either dipping Susie�s pigtails in the inkwell or giving Susie help with her spelling. What changes? Is topology morality? Is it simply the location of individual neurons that matter? Or maybe it�s more about geography, and how individual neurons connect with each other?

JB and Phil can no doubt go into painstaking detail regarding the philosophical concepts contained in the above. And that would be helpful and instructive. But no one has yet argued anything into existence via their philosophy (and least among us humans). The point is (at least I think the point is) that there are huge, large, obvious gaps between what is and what can explain what is, and that this is inherently so, and that this is not just representative of us humans not having yet gone there with our scientific instruments.

The smartest person in the world could arguably be the one who says "I don�t know, but I�m going to love."
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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So in reality unconditional love is really the ruler of the day. Conditional love is just a confusion of senses. I think most people would choose unconditional love if they were not so confused.

I find that to be a most interesting thought. We can think of unconditional love as the natural order of things, and that our inability to reach that natural order is the result of impediments that either we�ve thrown up or that naturally exist in reality.

Another interesting question stemming from this is "If unconditional love is not somehow given to us a gift from the get-go, how is it then developed?" And then we perhaps see that the impediments that are thrown up by either us, or that naturally exist in reality, induce unconditional love via the "ouch" factor. The question then seems to present itself as to whether we could ever have unconditional love unless we first experience conditional love. Thus perhaps one understands St. Francis� conception of Perfect Joy. Perhaps he gained a particularly good appreciation for the roots:

quote:
One winter day St. Francis was coming to St. Mary of the Angels from Perugia with Brother Leo, and the bitter cold made them suffer keenly. St. Francis called to Brother Leo, who was walking a bit ahead of him, and he said: "Brother Leo, even if the Friars Minor in every country give a great example of holiness and integrity and good edification, nevertheless write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that."

And when he had walked on a bit, St. Francis called him again, saying: "Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor gives sight to the blind, heals the paralyzed, drives out devils, gives hearing back to the deaf, makes the lame walk, and restores speech to the dumb, and what is still more, brings back to life a man who has been dead four days, write that perfect joy is not in that."

And going on a bit, St. Francis cried out again in a strong voice: "Brother Leo, if a Friar Minor knew all languages and all sciences and Scripture, if he also knew bow to prophesy and to reveal not only the future but also the secrets of the consciences and minds of others, write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that."

And as they walked on, after a while St. Francis called again forcefully: 'Brother Leo, Little Lamb of God, even if a Friar minor could speak with the voice of an angel, and knew the courses of the stars and the powers of herbs, and knew all about the treasures in the earth, and if be knew the qualities of birds and fishes, animals, humans, roots, trees, rocks, and waters, write down and note carefully that true joy is not in that."

And going on a bit farther, St. Francis called again strongly: "Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor could preach so well that be should convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that perfect joy is not there."

Now when he had been talking this way for a distance of two miles, Brother Leo in great amazement asked him: "Father, I beg you in God's name to tell me where perfect joy is."

And St. Francis replied; "When we come to St. Mary of the Angels, soaked by the rain and frozen by the cold, all soiled with mud and suffering from hunger, and we ring at the gate of the Place and the brother porter comes and says angrily: 'Who are you?' And we say: 'We are two of your brothers.' And he contradicts us, saying: 'You are not telling the truth. Rather you are two rascals who go around deceiving people and stealing what they give to the poor. Go away]' And he does not open for us, but makes us stand outside in the snow and rain, cold and hungry, until night falls-then if we endure all those insults and cruel rebuffs patiently, without being troubled and without complaining, and if we reflect humbly and charitably that that porter really knows us and that God makes him speak against us, oh, Brother Leo, write that perfect joy is there!

'And if we continue to knock, and the porter comes out in anger, and drives us away with curses and hard blows like bothersome scoundrels, saying; 'Get away from here, you dirty thieves-go to the hospital! Who do you think you are? You certainly won't eat or sleep here'--and if we bear it patiently and take the insults with joy and love in our hearts, Oh, Brother Leo, write that that is perfect joy!

And if later, suffering intensely from hunger and the painful cold, with night falling, we still knock and call, and crying loudly beg them to open for us and let us come in for the love of God, and he grows still more angry and says: 'Those fellows are bold and shameless ruffians. I'll give them what they deserve.' And he comes out with a knotty club, and grasping us by the cowl throws us onto the ground, rolling us in the mud and snow, and beats us with that club so much that he covers our bodies with wounds--if we endure all those evils and insults and blows with joy and patience, reflecting that we must accept and bear the sufferings of the Blessed Christ patiently for love of Him, oh, Brother Leo, write: that is perfect joy!

'And now hear the conclusion, Brother Leo. Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ. For we cannot glory in all those other marvelous gifts of God, as they are not ours but God's, as the Apostle says: 'What have you that you have not received?' But we can glory in the cross of tribulations and afflictions, because that is ours, and so the Apostle says: 'I will not glory save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.'"
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If you're not sure which religion is true,
Pray for love.

If you don't know which god is real,
Pray for love.

I you don't know why you are here or where you are going,
Pray for love.

If darkness descends and there seems little hope of light,
Pray for love.

If you are stuck and in need of a nudge,
Pray for love.

If you're tired of waiting and are looking for guarantees,
Pray for love.

If despair and grief threaten to consume you,
Pray for love.

When you're running on empty, and there's not even fumes,
Pray for love.

It's the only thing we have, or we have nothing.
It's the only thing that holds us, or nothing is holding us.
It's the only thing that enlivens us, or we are forever dead.
It is the essence of our being or we are mere trifles.
It is hope or despair.
Choose the former.
Love
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Let me find the moment that is me,
And me in the moment.
Before I layer anything on top,
Let me stand in the center of my own circle.
Before I run after the things to complete me,
Let me stand with and know the incomplete me.
I so long to be filled, and that is not wrong,
But before I am, let me be intimate with just the shell.
I long to be more in this dreary life so far,
Bit first let me know just one true thing of me.
Let me stand still and deep,
And know that when I step forward I will not be running away.
May I truly occupy where I am, even if unpleasant,
And throw neither time nor me away.
May I sit down and let love be my center,
And may I offer anchorage to others as well.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Very sound, foundational attitudes, Brad. The emphasis on honesty and authenticity resonates with the traditional meaning of "humility." Thanks for sharing these.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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