I used to function in a perpetual state of anxiety, fearful of what would happen if I failed to comply with all the shoulds and should nots that were dictated by my family and social institutions.
It was my way of trying to maintain a feeling of safety, sidestepping fear of reprisal for not being good enough or perfect enough. Now I know that my frenzied dance was a form of compulsive behavior - "if I do everything right and am perfect, then I won't be punished" (by parents, friends, teachers, strangers, demons, God, etc.).
Through my continuing individuation process I have come to understand that the requirements and prohibitions that surround our lives are society's attempt to regulate the behavior of it's members to maintain peaceful, smooth, harmonious relations with one another, so that the social unit is not threatened by aberrant or aggressive actions of its members.
With my growing understanding of the interrelatedness of all beings and the sure knowledge that to injure one is to affect the whole, I now chose my behaviors from a different level of awareness.
I would not intentionally harm another. I try to see all points of view in a disagreement, knowing that each person's perception of the reality of the situation is true FROM HIS POINT OF VIEW. Helping myself and others expand awareness will facilitate our learning that there is always more than one point of view - that we, in fact, live in multiple simultaneous realities.
It could seem very egotistical to say that I am approaching a way of being and living that is beyond man-made laws, requirements, and regulations...but I do believe that's what is happening. Behavior must be regulated when it is ego-driven and therefore potentially harmful or aggressive to others. However, when one achieves the level of understanding that the whole is more important than its individual parts, ego defensiveness and aggressiveness are no longer components of the personal behavioral repertoire. The individual has then come to a point that is above or beyond "the law", because "the law" is simply no longer necessary. I believe that this is the major difference in the aims of esoteric organized religion and esoteric spirituality. Religion provides the laws through which we can live better lives communally. Spirituality takes us to the point that laws to control interaction with "the other" are no longer necessary because the realization comes "that there is no other" We are all one. Shma Yisrael Adonai Elo-heynu, Adonai Echad! And we are the individuated points of the One's consciousness experiencing being...human.©
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1. Throughout history, in times of need, great Lights (enlightened ones) have appeared.
2. They carry a piece of the Truth.
3. They express that Truth in a way that can be understood by the people of that time and place.
4. Their Truth, in some way, is a departure from the accepted philosophy or religion.
5. People are gravitized and mobilized around the Light and the new view of Truth.
6. Some people are threatened by the message and often will fight against the Light and kill, or sacrifice, the carrier of the Truth.
7. When the original Light has passed from life, the Truth is taught by followers who codify the Truth and concretize it, all the while filtering it through their own consciousness.
8. This concretization becomes a set of prohibitions, procedures, processes, and beliefs that must be accepted and followed for believers to be saved (from death - ultimate obliteration of the "I" awareness). And thus... a religion is born.
9. With the definition of the religion, lines are drawn - for that is the meaning of definition. The lines are between what is good and what is not good; what is right and what is wrong; what is mandated and what is prohibited. Religion provides a set of rules and guidelines for individuals to interact with each other and to establish and maintain a relationship with God.
10. Adherents to the religion want to believe they have the truth. To convince themselves that they do have the truth, they must believe that those outside the religion do not have the truth. Tolerance and acceptance for others and their ways diminish. Battle lines are drawn. Wars occur. They fight to convince themselves and others that their way is the one right way.
11. Then a great Light appears.©
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Tool for Transformation
Several years ago the thought came to me that I had the power to affect lives with a very simple action. I had noticed that at work most people pass each other with little or no recognition. I worked on a site of approximately 800 people, with about 400 in my building. I was learning about spirituality and the laws of energy, and decided to set myself a task...to do a mini-experiment. It was this - that I would smile at and/or speak to each person I saw that day.
What I observed was amazing. The transformation in the other was as instantaneous as it was dramatic. I would see someone approaching, eyes downcast, thoughts turned inward, flat or worried expression on their face; generally an unapproachable looking demeanor. If they glanced at me, I would look them in the eyes, smile, and say good morning or good afternoon. If they approached without looking up, I would first speak to draw their attention, catch their eyes, and then smile.
The reactions varied. Sometimes people were startled; sometimes they appeared embarrassed that they hadn't seen me before I spoke; sometimes they returned the greeting; sometimes they just smiled in response. But, in all cases I would notice a change in their demeanor, however subtle. They might stand a little taller, walk a little easier, or carry themselves with a little less weightiness.
Usually I do not see auras. But, I think if I could, I would see that their aura brightened a little bit. There was a mini-surge in the light that the person was putting into the world. The light in the world was a bit brighter because of that momentary reaction to being acknowledged. Such a small effort on my part could make a significant difference - even if only in one life. If I passed a hundred people during the day, I could help bring about 100 mini-surges of pleasure.
Recently, I heard that the definition of personal power is one's ability to affect his or her immediate environment. If this is true I must be pretty powerful after five years of lighting up others. That statement is not meant to be pridefully spoken, but merely a recognition of the power each of us has to affect our surroundings in either a positive or a negative way. For, if the laws of energy are fact, we are always affecting our environment simply by being alive. If I am going to affect my surroundings merely by being, I choose to affect it for the better.
Many people in the New Age use the greeting "Namaste" when they meet or leave each other. The meaning is roughly... "the divinity in me salutes the divinity in you". Being a somewhat pragmatic individual, I have chosen to begin by simply saluting the humanity in each individual. In our period of hyper-stimulation, and the desire not to be involved with others, it is so easy to downgrade others to the level of things simply by ignoring them and not recognizing their humanity or individuality. A simple "good morning" or "hello" may not seem as spiritually evolved or powerful as using the greeting "Namaste". But, in my belief system, the occasional use of "Namaste" with like-minded individuals does not carry nearly the potential for good as does the habitual use of the mundane "good morning".
In the title I said that I would give you a tool for transformation. That powerful tool is simply to greet and recognize others. The effect it has on others is positive. Their positive response in turn affects you for the better. When at the end of a difficult or wearying day you ask yourself, as we all at times do... "What is it all for? What difference does it all make?", you will have an answer. By this one, seemingly insignificant act you brought some pleasure into another's life...and that spark of pleasure, no matter how small, brought greater light into the world.©
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We are not our bodies, emotions or minds. We are soul inhabiting our bodies, emotions and minds, using them as vehicles for our learning and growth. When we are functioning in a healthy, whole, integrated manner, the energy of our beingness flows unimpeded within and beyond us. When there is dis-ease at any of these levels, there is a blockage in the flow of energy. This blockage, acting like a dam, causes pain. Dis-ease is caused by a misunderstanding of some piece of truth.
The potential for healing is resident within the individual. The catalyst for healing may be either within the individual or beyond the individual.
As spiritual counselors our role is to be in the presence of the individual in pain, and through the use of physical, emotional, mental or spiritual bodies, to serve as the catalyst that will trigger the healing response within the individual. We must be totally present and listen with all aspects of our beingness. If we are silent and focused we will be able to hear the need that is expressed by the client.
We learn varied approaches to counseling and healing so that we can draw on the specific method that will serve as the client's trigger for healing. There is not one right way or one best way for everyone, although there may be one right or best way for that individual at that moment in time.
The key is to be totally, lovingly present, carrying within the result of all the learning and studying we have done, and egolessly willing to serve as the trigger for healing, however it may manifest.
The violinist Nadia Solarno Sonnenburg practices for hours each day so that she can master technique. When she performs, she goes beyond the techniques, and serves as a channel for the energy of the music. She appears possessed by a consciousness beyond herself. In a similar way, we are studying techniques that have been described by great minds that have come before us and defined paths to help others reach health and wholeness. Our studies, like her rehearsal, are for mastering technique. Like her, when we are performing, (counseling, teaching, or ministering) we will go beyond the technique and trust that the truth for the client's life walk will present itself. We can be the instruments through which others reach health and wholeness.©
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From my learning I have come to regard the individual's and religion's relationship to God as follows:
In the beginning, God, undifferentiated was like an ocean of only one drop. When God particles individuated, the ocean then became a multiplicity of drops within the totality. God, then, was like the ocean, and the individual, a drop of the ocean.
The various religions are like containers that can hold a part of the ocean. The God that is in the container is the same God that is in the ocean. However, no container can hold the totality of God. Likewise, the essence of God that is in the individual, is the same essence as That that is the totality of God. However, no individual can contain the totality of God.
Each container (religion) is also a reflection of the time and place of its creation. Some are very ornate while others are very stark and functional.
The look and feel do not alter the essence of the content, although it may alter the individual's way of apprehending the truth.
It is the content, God, that the mystic yearns for.
The mystical sameness that pervades all of the religions persuades me that it is through the mystical experience, rather than through formalized religions, that we can identify our essential oneness ... not only with God ... but also with each other.
I did not write the following poem, but I love it. It captures in a succinct, beautiful statement the evolution of awareness.©
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One Pilgrim's Progress
I came from an eclectic religious background. My mother was an agnostic; my father, a member of the Reformed Church; my brother, a Methodist; my sister and I confirmed Episcopalians. From the third through the twelfth grade I attended an all-girls' Catholic school. At this school, I learned to have guilt and a fear of punishment. Eventually these emotions evolved into free-floating anxiety. During those years I learned all the classifications of sin: sins of omission, sins of commission, mortal sins, venial sins. I watched my classmates go to confession, make reparation, and be absolved of their sins. But I could not go to confession, and I could not be forgiven because I was a non-Catholic. Therefore, at some level I was always vigilant, watching and waiting for the punishment that was sure to come. Paradoxically, my years at Catholic school also provided me with a sound basis for my now evolving spirituality. This I have come to realized only recently.
During the summer of 1987 I attended my first Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship Conference in Lynchburg, Virginia. I arrived with my angers, fears, guilts, and mental classification system intact. By the end of the week my world view, my entire life view had undergone a transformation. The word I have chosen to characterize that conference for me was "phenomena." I saw things, felt things and experienced things that could not fit into my mental schema. Each day would bring new phenomena ranging from feeling the flow of energy to listening to a man who had died and come back to seeing a UFO to meeting people who worked with spirit helpers to seeing physical manifestation of that fact. I remember thinking that my perception of reality had shifted 47 degrees. I don't know why it was 47 degrees, but that was my feeling. It was as though something was saying to me, "Pay attention Kathi - there is more to reality than you have dreamed."
The last full day of the conference I sat at lunch with friends, old and new. In spite of the amazing phenomena I had experienced, I remember saying "Well this has been fascinating but, I wanted something really big to happen to me."
That afternoon my life changed forever. I had not pre-registered for Carol Canova's class but I went. As she taught, I remember being aware that what she was saying was very important for me. Then I noticed there was no tape recorder, as in other classes, and I had very much wanted a tape. Someone had forgotten. Then I asked if I could get copies of her class notes. She answered that every class was different, since she taught according to the needs she perceived from each class. I was not pleased. I knew the class was important for me and I wanted to be able to go back later to review what was being taught.
Later Carol reached into a stack of notes and pulled out something dealing with forgiveness. As she began talking about forgiveness, I became so totally focused on her and her message, I remember feeling as though the only reality in the world at that time was the interior rim of my pupils and Carol - talking about forgiveness. Then something profound happened to me, something I cannot name, some kind of opening, release, transformation that was so powerful I gasped aloud. The woman next to me turned and looked into my eyes. I was crying; she was crying; and then half the class was crying as we held hands and said a prayer of thanks. The class ended at 3:30. At 4:00 I had coincidentally scheduled my first-ever appointment with a spiritual counselor, and the appointment was with Carol Canova. That session allowed a catharsis that did much to dissolve the guilt and fear I had carried for so many years. I also, that evening, went to confession with a Catholic priest who was attending the conference. I was forgiven and blessed, which my mind needed, and forgave myself and the Catholic church, which my heart needed. I felt that I had been freed from a suit of armor that I had been wearing all of my life. I went home from the conference feeling like a totally different person, living in a totally new reality. It took about four months to become grounded again. Metaphysics and spirituality had changed from a mental pursuit to a passion of my heart and soul. I had found what I had been looking for; that empty space inside of me was starting to fill.
During the second year of my studies, my heart dictated my reading, my choice of classes. If something didn't feel right, I would put it aside. As my reading and classes progressed, I felt that my view of reality was continuing to shift, this time past 47 degrees; past 90 degrees. One day the thought came to me that reality was like the point in the center of a sphere. My view of reality was shifting not only around a two-dimensional circle, but was shifting in three dimensions around the surface of this sphere. Reality was at the center, and I was learning multiple new ways of perceiving it.
The 1988 SFF Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina was approaching and I anticipated the experience with great expectation. I had spent the intervening year learning and growing. Yet, I was not certain of my path, and felt I needed a teacher who would lead me and guide me and show me the way. Because of the experiences of that second conference I came to know, believe, feel, and realize that part of my life's work ñ or perhaps all of it - is to come to honor the divinity within myself. That through recognizing, embracing, and honoring that greater Self, I can begin to serve. Only by non-judgmentally accepting all manifestations of God, including all aspects of myself, can I live in a way that reveres all of creation.©