‘Tis the Season

Christmas is in the air. The houses are decked out with twinkle lights and the stores are packed with shoppers scrambling for last minute Christmas gifts. There are ornaments on the trees and wreathes on the doors. We talk of Santa and reindeer and sleigh rides and serve up eggnog and fruitcake to our guests while we enjoy Christmas music on the radio. But what are we doing? More to the point; why are we doing it?

There are those who celebrate Christmas purely as a secular holiday, a time to get together with friends and family and exchange gifts and go to parties, and then there are those who celebrate the sister holiday of Hanukkah, which is the Jewish celebration of lights in honor of the re-dedication of the second temple in the 2nd century B.C.E. and still others that celebrate it as the time when Jesus Christ was born; when Mary and Joseph went to answer the call of Caesar to be counted and Mary gave birth to her son in a stable because there was no room in the Inn.

You have to admit that the Christmas story of Jesus being born in the stable and worshiped by Sheppard’s and wise men is a wonderful story; a bit inaccurate as to timing and details mind you (temperatures in the Middle East can be extremely cold during the winter and shepherds kept their flocks tucked well away in sheep pens or folds during the nights of the coldest time of the year, not to mention the fact that there is historical evidence that Jesus was actually born in September, not December) but still wonderful for all of that; a story full of hope and inspiration as is the old Pagan celebration of Yule, the twelve day celebration (from whence we get our “12 Days of Christmas” stories) whose focal point is Solstice Night, the longest night of the year; the night when the sun (in the form of the Oak or Sun King – the Giver of Life) is “reborn” and grows day by day to fulfill the promise of life-giving warmth.

When Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire it only made logical sense to adapt local holidays and give them a Christian twist so that more individuals would be brought into the fold. Hence the rebirth of the Oak King became the birth of Jesus, the evergreen branches used by the Celts to represent the eternal aspect of the Divine in each of us became the Christmas trees and wreathes that we bring into our homes every December and the Mistletoe which in Christian lore represents the love the conquers death was to the Druids the seed of the Divine and a necessary part of the ritual to re-birth the sun and the candles of Hanukkah work their way into the festivals of light celebrated in Christian Churches.

Everywhere you see the symbolism; the connections between the old traditions and the new. But one thing that the Pagan and Christian and Judaic traditions have in common is the fact that all of the mid-December traditions celebrate a time of rebirth and renewal and a time to celebrate the year gone by and prepare for the year to come, and what better way to do this than to rid yourself of all of the negativity that has accumulated in your life over the last year?

Take a look at your life; at those physical objects that you have incorporated into your world for whatever reason. Look closely at those ideas, beliefs, traditions and relationships that have become a part of you and ask yourself whether or not they reflect the highest representation of who and what you truly are; if they serve to help you live a soul-full and authentic life. If not, use this next week; this Yule week between the Solstice and New Year’s to purge your life of everything that could possibly be holding you back.

So regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas or Yule or Hanukkah, or simply view this as a nice holiday and a chance to take some time off of work; why not take advantage of the season? Go ahead, claim the promise of rebirth and renewal in your own life; in your own heart; and as the days begin once more to lengthen, celebrate the year to come and everything that it has to offer.

Soul Alignment

Do you ever get the feeling that there is something not quite right about your life; that you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing; that your everyday reality is out of synch with your soul purpose?

Just like when your car needs an alignment, you can feel when your everyday life and your soul purpose are out of synch with each other.   The vehicle (in this case your life) does not steer as smoothly as it should.  You can have the noblest dreams; the best laid plans; but something always seems to happen, but something always seems to happen that mucks things up.  Every time you try to get to a certain location something wrenches you in another direction; events conspire to bog you down; circumstances align to trip you up; people fail you, and hopes and plans and dreams get dashed to pieces and you feel like throwing your hands into the air and giving up and screaming “What’s the point?”

What Does it Mean?

If you find yourself contending with these sorts of scenarios regularly, it is not an indication that you are a bad person or that you have been singled out by the universe for punishment or torture.  It is not even a sign that you are being manipulated by outside sources such as angles or demons or closet Marxists.  It is, however, a sure sign that your life is out of alignment with your soul purpose and that you are in need of a serious synchronization.

Sounds big doesn’t it?  Sounds like something that you might need an exorcism for – or at least the advice of a Shaman, or spiritual counselor.  But believe it or not, it is actually a very simple process and one that each and every one of us is capable of undertaking.  In fact, you can probably get to work on it as soon as you finish reading this.

Unlike getting your car aligned, bringing your life and your soul purpose into alignment does not require a trip into the garage.  It does not even require a weekend meditation retreat or year spent in Nepal or Tibet.  But for all that it is a relatively straight forward and simple process, there are relatively few people on the planet whose lives are in full alignment with their soul purpose and when they are it is unmistakable.

For these people, everything just seems to fall into place.  Everything works. Events and circumstances come about which always seem to be exactly those things that are supposed to happen and which happen at exactly the right moment in time.  Their lives look like a dream to the rest of us.  They may not be rich and famous, but they are happy; they are at peace; they have passion and purpose and are living their lives with joy and verve.  Their energy and enthusiasm draws people in and makes you feel as if the world is a better place for them having been there.

So how can you become one of these people?  How can you go from a life where everything seems to be at odds to one where everything seems to fit?  The answer, of course, is to bring your life into alignment with your soul purpose.
But first, of course, it helps to understand just what your soul purpose is.

A person’s soul purpose is the reason that they have been put on this planet; the purpose for which they have agreed to be here, in this body, and in this particular lifetime.  It is something that only they are capable of doing, for only their exact circumstances and upbringing have prepared them for this particular job.

So, how do you find out what your soul purpose is?  The first order of business is to take a look at your natural gifts and abilities for they will be a clear indicator of what direction you should be headed in.   I’m not talking about things that you have been trained to do and that are by necessity a part of your job.  Take a look at your natural abilities; those talents that you were born with and that are as easy for you as breathing.

Types of Natural Gifts and Abilities

These gifts can take on a variety of different types.  For instance, some people are natural healers.  They have a knack for always knowing just the right things to do or say that will make people feel better either physically or emotionally.

Then there are those who are natural teachers.  A natural teacher has the ability to take a complex topic and break it down in such a way that someone else can understand it easily; they may do this in a number of ways (talking, writing, storytelling) but the effect is the same; people learn easily from them.

Some, however, are naturally knowledgeable.  I’m not talking about know-it-alls (who simply think they know everything).  Truly knowledgeable individuals simply have the answers.  You ask them a question and they have an answer, as if they have a direct conduit to some vast knowledge source.

There are also those who are natural creators; their artistic and creative abilities are insatiable and they are always coming up with new ideas for things whether they are paintings, recipes, craft ideas, sculptures, machines or stories.

Or you may be a planner; someone who is great at coming up with a way to get things done, who knows how to organize people and resources in the best way to actually get things accomplished.  Or maybe you are a doer; a person who likes to implement the plans that others come up with and are great at working with your hands.

The Problem and the Solution

The problem is that thanks to a society and culture that put an emphasis on those things that bring the most material satisfaction we have a serious disconnect between what we are supposed to be doing (and what society and those around us expect us to do) and those things that we came here to accomplish.   In fact, this disconnect is so extreme that sometimes it seems impossible that it can ever be brought into alignment and that we will be stuck in this no-man’s-land forever.

But this is not the case, there really is a solution to the problem; something that can cut through all of the expectations that are piled up on us every day; those things that keep us from pursuing our true callings; from finding and living our true purpose.

The way to bring our lives into alignment with our soul purpose is to get in touch with that inner voice and that lives inside of each of us; the one that gives us that gut instinct to do things a certain way.  Unfortunately this is usually the instinct and voice we ignore because so many times it goes contrary to what logic and reason (or even societal expectations) would have you believe is the right thing to do.

By listening to this voice; by following its advice, you can start bringing your life into alignment with your soul purpose; making decisions that will allow you to live an authentic life; one that is lived from the heart.

Rediscovering Your Personal Power

We are all have personal power; we were born with it. It is our right, our heritage as spiritual beings; as individuals with a direct connection to our divine self. So why is it that so many of us suffer from a lack of personal power?

First, let’s get something clear, by personal power I am not talking about the amount of charisma you have; the amount of power you can exert over others in getting them to do what you want them to do or in any sort of position or social standing that you can hold up and use as a guideline or definition of power.

By personal power I am talking about the power within; the power that dominates and controls your will; the power that motivates you to continue to learn and grow and become; the power that fuels the knowledge of your right to exist; that reinforces the fact that you deserve to be heard and, most importantly of all, the understanding that you deserve to be happy.

Ha! Caught you out with that last one, didn’t I? No, I don’t want to hear it; I don’t want to hear your excuses about happiness being dependent on the happiness of others or what you can do for someone else or your current situation.

By happiness I’m talking about YOUR happiness; doing those things that make you grin from ear to ear, listening to the music that makes you want to dance, using the colors that make you warm inside, reading those things that fill your heart with joy and being with those people who make you feel expansive inside.
You can know that you have the right to exist, you can understand the fact that you have the right to be heard, but how many people truly believe that they have the right to be happy?

Think about it. I’m not talking about content people here; calm people; people who have come to grips with their lives. When I talk about happiness I’m talking about those people who glow; whose happiness is such an intrinsic part of their lives that you can hear it in their voices and see it in their eyes. Their vibrancy; their love of life comes through in every aspect of their being.

Chances are you can count the truly happy people you know on one hand. But why is that? Could it be that we live in a society where it is a standard part of our culture to use self-sacrifice and powerlessness as a means of fostering social cooperation?

In fact, a person who believes that they have the right to exist and that they have the right to be heard can fit in with others in a society with absolutely no problem whatsoever, but the moment that individuals attempt to follow their own definition of happiness, they become deviants; social outcasts who are looked on with a general distaste because they do not fit with societal norms of what is acceptable and pleasant.
Every time that we ‘give in’ to family expectations, societal demands or religious dogma simply to keep the peace and make things more pleasant for everyone, we are signing away a piece of our own happiness and, more importantly, a piece of our own personal power.

Think about it, every two year old understands their right to existence, their right to be heard, and their right to be happy. They not only understand it, they demand it. Unfortunately the acceptable response is to train the child into submission and docility in order for them to become “acceptable” to society in general. We are taught to “submit” to the demands of our families, our communities, our churches, our governments regardless of whether those things that we are expected to do fit in with our definition of happiness or not.

For over two decades we are taught to put aside our own hopes and dreams and instead to give in to the expectations of society and, while some of us may have our bouts of adolescent rebellion, chances are by the time we hit our mid-twenties we have learned our lessons all too well and one morning wake up to find ourselves in a dead-end relationship with a job we hate and are saddled with beliefs that we no longer can claim as our own.

Unfortunately, by the time we wake up to the pointlessness of our lives and to just how we’ve been manipulated by our system the chains are firmly in place. We have children, bills, obligations and responsibilities all of which are tapped deeply into our reserve of personal power and that serve as tethers or anchors keeping us firmly in place; that keep us doing the ‘right’ thing out of fearing of losing everything that we have built up.

So how do you break the cycle? How do you regain your personal power; admitting not only the right to exist and to have your voice heard, but the right to pursue your own happiness and, even more importantly, to live your own happiness? It starts with one word – acceptance.

When I speak of acceptance I am not talking about submission; about giving in to the demands on your personal power. By acceptance I am talking of acknowledgement.

In order to regain the full-strength of your personal power, the first thing that you need to do is accept or acknowledge the fact that you are NOT happy.

That’s a hard one, because we have been taught that our happiness is dependent on our status or social position or what other people think of us or how much we own or are able to produce or what job position we hold. We’ve forgotten all about those things that bring us joy; those experiences that leave us full to bursting with wonder and mystery and a feeling of rightness deep inside your soul.

Once you have accepted the fact that you are not happy the second step to reclaiming your personal power is in getting back in touch with what it is that makes you happy; the things that you do that you do with passion; those experiences that make you joyful and those people that touch the very core of your soul.

Of course it is not enough to simply admit that you are unhappy and to get back in touch with those things that stir up the happiness inside of you, you then have to reclaim your personal power by putting it to work in your life; by living authentically and bringing your life into alignment with your soul purpose. Then and only then will you have rediscovered your true personal power and will be able to take your first step into the life that you were always meant to live.

The Only Place to Start

At the heart of everything mankind believes in, there are two very fundamental principles; Thought and Action.

You see it everywhere; in everyone; clear as anything. The majority of people fall into one of two camps.

There are those that fall into the camp of wanting to take action – now – against something, someone, anyone. Who or what shall we fight against? Well, who or what is the perceived threat? Well, let’s take action then. Something has to be done. Plans are laid – battle cries are sounded. But somehow or another there never seems to be any clear-cut thought behind the action. There is no motivation for actual follow through, simply the pressing need to DO.

And then there are those that sit back and twiddle their navels. No action is needed. Ever. It’s all in your head. Everything. Everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be. There IS no enemy. There IS no threat. No action is needed because the universe has everything well in hand. Visualize whirled peas. Love is the answer. Sit back and let love change the world.  And that is all fine and good, except that it never does.

Of course there are those in the middle who look at both sides, throw up their hands and say “what the hell ever – there’s no reasoning with either of you” and go back to their daily lives, but more often than not they usually end up coming back eventually; back to their religion, or to a cause or to someplace where they can feel as if they are actually a part of something.

So where is the disconnect? Why is it that the each side of the coin can never see the other? THEY ARE THE SAME COIN.

But it is a coin.

And coins have to be spent to be of any good to anyone.

Oh, they’re pretty enough mounted up in a frame on the wall, all nicely polished with pretty labels describing where they came from and how much they are worth. Or in the bank, accumulating interest, all safe and secure. You also see them lying in gutters, the bottoms of fountains, and stuck underneath the seats of vehicles alongside the cheeseburger wrapper from last week and last year’s map of Cleveland. It’s so easy to lose them in good intentions.

But money (pardon the expression) is like manure. It isn’t worth a thing unless it’s spread around encouraging young things to grow.

And that, you see, is the disconnect, and the question that needs answering; what are we spending the coin on?

The answer is not to simply sit around and wait for the universe to sort it out – because WE are the universe. But neither is the answer to focus on some evil power or entity outside of ourselves. The answer is not even to focus on the external problems (poverty, disease, disempowerment, abuse, violence, hatred – in all of its myriad forms) – because, believe it or not THEY ARE NOT THE REAL PROBLEM. They are the symptoms; symptoms of the real disease.

The disease is fear. It is the fear of not being able to control our circumstances, of having things done for us, and to us that we do not want and didn’t ask for. All the external symptoms of the disease are curable – yes. But not by attacking them. That does nothing but feed the fear; make it stronger. And those who are afraid will react – you got it – out of fear. It’s a never-ending cycle.

So what do we do, sit back and twiddle our navels and trust that things will work out as they are supposed to? (Sounds a tad bit like pre-determinism to me). Of COUSE we take action, but it’s not the kind of action most would suppose, because you’re not attacking the symptoms. You are taking what the navel twiddlers found out during their meditation sessions (but didn’t know what to DO with) and applying it to every aspect of your being – every aspect of your life.

You see, love IS the answer, that’s the force that holds the universe together, and the universe WILL sort everything out and, since you are the universe, it’s up to you to do the sorting. And since we have determined what the disease is (the disease that is causing all the symptoms that we despise so very much) the action is to inoculate ourselves against the fear. Cut it out of our souls and replace it with the only thing that can make us whole…unconditional and unadulterated love.

I’m not talking all rainbows and roses here. Love is not always pretty, and when it’s healing the wounds caused by fear and hatred and self-doubt it can be downright painful. But it’s the only place to start.

We can heal the world; but only if we heal ourselves first. Once we have healed ourselves – THEN we can start helping others, pointing them towards the same sort of healing. Until fear is gone from inside of each of us – we will NEVER be rid of it in the world.

We can change the world; but only by changing ourselves – and our perceptions of the world around us and only by combining thought and action and putting them to work in our own lives.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

You hear a lot of things about duality; most of it negative.  But when it comes right down to it, dudality is a very necessary part of our existence.  Or rather, duality is a very necessary part of our being able to experience our existence.  But what exactly IS duality?

Quite simply; duality is the act of being twofold, of each thing having an opposite.

It is the dualistic nature of the world is what allows us to exist as individuals – separate from each other; “Me” as opposed to “you.”The dualistic nature of the world is what allows us to experience one thing by comparing it and contrasting it with its opposite, ‘hot’ as opposed to ‘cold’ or ‘light’ as opposed to ‘dark’, ‘male’ as opposed to ‘female’ and even ‘living’ as opposed to ‘dead.’ Without comparisons there would BE no experience.

The very fact that we are in a physical body – a body created to experience – means that we are, physically, completely immersed in duality. It is what helps us to function, to think, to be able to disassociate ourselves from the quantum soup of possibilities form which we arose and get on with the experience of being human.

And yet – and yet – the spirit cries out for more. It cries out to be separate, yes, but still a part of something. It yearns to belong, to have a place – a purpose in something bigger than itself.

But how do you connect opposites? How do you merge light and dark? How do you combine hot and cold? To do so is to negate the light and the dark, the hot and the cold. To merge two opposites, it was argued, was to lose the integrity of both. You may have more by combining the two, but they will have lost their definition, their delineation, their ability to experience themselves AS themselves and so become (from the view of physicality) worthless.

And there were still others that argued that by combining two things together you get something more than you had to begin with – something greater than you had. That combining two opposites you entered a third, greater realm, a realm of oneness where yes, the two objects have lost their individuality, but they have but become something more than they were.

But both the idea of absolute separateness and combining opposites to become something “more” have their drawbacks; primarily that of their being both still based in duality. And neither does anything to truly satisfy the spirit’s need to belong to something greater than itself – BUT AS ITSELF.

Instead, let’s look at this from a different angle, and to do so I’m going to use an example.

It is coming on winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. Days are getting shorter and colder. All the crops have been brought in from the fields and people are unpacking their winter clothes. But in the Southern Hemisphere it is coming up on summer. The days are getting longer and hotter, the gardens reaching full bloom, the growing season is well underway and shorts and summer dresses and being worn.

Opposite sides of the same coin, yes?

Opposite sides of the same planet.

And there is the key you see, for these opposite sides of the same coin ARE part of something bigger than themselves. They are both part of the planet, even though taken separately they seem like completely separate and individual states of existence. The planet is what unites them and ties them together. It is still summer there, and winter here, but together they make up something greater than the season in their half of the hemisphere – together both hemispheres unite to create one WHOLE sphere, or the planet.

Duality combined in “oneness.”

Being a part of the “oneness” of the planet does absolutely nothing to diminish the seasons in either hemisphere; the illusion of being completely different “things” or “places.” So too, being part of the “oneness” of all that is does nothing to diminish your individuality, but merely reminds all individualities that we DO have a part in something greater than ourselves; that we DO belong. We always have.
In one form or one shape or one season or another, we always have and we always will.

Cherish is the Word

To Love, Honor and Cherish.

These words have been included in wedding ceremonies, both Christian and Civil services for the last 200 years and while the first two are fairly self-explanatory, it is the third, Cherish, that has, over the years, lost its true meaning.

So what does it mean to cherish someone?

The word Cherish is defined in most dictionaries with the following five definitions:

 

1). To care for, be fond of or attached to.
2). To love and care for somebody.
3). To value something highly
4). To retain a memory or wish in the mind as a source of pleasure
5). To cling fondly to a person or memory

I don’t know about you, but all five of those definitions come up a bit short – and none of them explain why the word should be included in the words of a service as binding as that of marriage.

To care for or be fond of could apply to anyone you are close to, not necessarily a marriage partner.

To love and care for seems to me to be covered under “love.”

To value something highly – sorry, but that makes the other person sound like something that is owned and prized like a trophy.

To retain a memory or wish in the mind as a source of pleasure – well, a bit shallow for all that, and hardly worth including in the marriage vows.

To cling fondly to a person or memory – again, the concept of “fondly” is hardly strong enough to see it included.

So what DOES the word Cherish mean? Not what has it come to mean, but what does the word truly mean? What does it mean to Cherish another person and why is the word included in one of the most binding ceremonies known to man?

Perhaps a clue can be found in a synonym of the word Cherish. The roots of the word Cherish can be traced back to the 14th century, and at the time the word was synonymous with the word “foster.”

To foster is to promote the growth and development of the object whether the object is a child or a situation… or one’s spouse.

In order to promote another’s growth and development it is necessary to provide that other with everything that they need in order to continue to grow and develop.

With children this is a fairly straightforward thing. You brought them into the world, it is your responsibility and duty to foster their growth (promote their growth and development) until they reach the point where they can go out into the world on their own.

But with one’s spouse or significant other, it takes on another dimension altogether. When it comes to Cherishing one’s mate, you are dealing with equals; two individuals who have come together voluntarily to share themselves.

To Cherish one’s mate, one must be willing to give them everything that they need in order to achieve their growth and development. As you can imagine, this goes far beyond simply giving them the physical things they need (food, shelter, safety etc.).

In fact, this goes beyond physical security and “things” altogether.

To truly Cherish one’s partner one must also be willing to give the other everything that they need in order to grow and develop in a mental and spiritual sense as well; the moral and spiritual support to continue to grow and develop as individuals throughout the marriage.

And here is the key – unless both partners are giving equally – cherishing equally, you are going to have unbalanced relationship and someone is not going to have what they need in order to grow and develop. Even in the best of relationships this can lead to feelings of resentment and frustration.

And that is very likely why the word Cherish was originally included in the words of the binding ceremony.

Love. Honor. Cherish.

Love should be a given if one is even considering getting married, nine times out of ten both parties at least believe that they are in love with the other.

Honor can also be seen as respect for the other; respect for who and what they are, for what they bring to the relationship, for who they are as individuals.

But to Cherish; to Cherish is, perhaps, the most important element of all, for without it neither party in the marriage can continue to grow or develop within that relationship. Without being able to Cherish your other, and without them Cherishing you, the relationship becomes about the physical provisions; the security; the money; the children; and ceases to be that of a partnership where both are striving to help the other towards becoming the best and most that they can be.

Who You Are Choosing To Be

Anyone who has been exposed to modern spirituality for any length of time is sure to have encountered the phrase that “you are making your own reality.”

I’ve spoken with countless people, who support or argue as to whether or not this is possible and I am always fascinated with their interpretation of the phrase.  The complexities of their reasoning astound me whether they are for it or against it, and while I’m not here to argue the validity of the statement, I am here to explain in a little more detail just what, exactly “creating your own reality” means to me.

From my perspective, the phrase “creating my own reality” means that I am continually, by thought word and action choosing the circumstances that come into my life.

In other words, today’s thoughts, words and actions become tomorrow’s experiences and reality; the ultimate example of the law of attraction at work in daily life.

If I choose today to be angry and judgmental, then I have no reason to complain when tomorrow I am confronted with angry and judgmental people.  I have, by today’s actions, drawn those people to me.

If I chose yesterday to live in fear of all the horrible things that could possibly happen to me or be suspicious of someone’s attitude or character, then I should not be surprised when today something horrible actually does happen, or someone whom I was suspicious of decides to act in exactly the same way that I “suspected” that they would.

This may seem like it is a no-win situation, that yesterday’s fear generates today’s bad circumstance and will lead to more of the same tomorrow, but that isn’t necessarily so.  You CAN break out of this cycle simply by changing the way that you react to a situation.  And yes,   this works even if the initial fear or circumstances were generated by someone on the outside doing something bad to you (such as what happens when the victim is a child or other vulnerable individual), for even though you did not choose the initial circumstance but had it forced on you, you CAN choose to react differently.  This is how it works;

Instead of reacting to today’s negative occurrence with more fear and suspicion; with more judgments and anger, you can choose to change how you respond to a circumstance.  You can choose to see that circumstance as an opportunity to break out of your cycle of negativity and act from the highest expression of who you choose to be.

Do you WANT fear and anger and negativity?  Then by all means continue to act and react in the way you have been acting and reacting, but if you truly wish to make YOUR world (not anyone else’s world – just your own world) a better place, then you can change the way that you view your world.  You can change the way that you react to negative occurrences and in doing so you can create a far better world for yourself and those around you.

It takes time.  It takes practice.  And most of all, it takes attention being paid to every thought and word and action to ensure that you don’t revert back to the habit of reacting negatively to negative circumstances.  But sooner than you can imagine, you’ll begin to see your life begin to reflect the highest expression of who you choose to be.