Friday, October 9, 2009

I see Progress

Its been a wild and crazy month. There is just too much going on to talk about. On the spiritual front, I have been working on affirmations teaching me to love myself. I continually remind myself that I am a creation of the Most High God. I am in unity with the Most High God. The Most High God Loves me. - unconditionally. I must do the same.

Guess what. I am starting to lose weight. I have lost nineteen pounds in the last forty-five days. I am not dieting. I can think of five things that have contributed to this:

  1. the positive affirmations.
  2. the focus on being more positive
  3. I'm starting to relax.
  4. The injured knees have helped me and my body realize how self-destructive my eating has been.
  5. while I am not dieting, I am choosing better things to eat, eating slowly. Snacking is simply not as frequent as it had been in the past.

Remember Jon Gabriel? Remember I had thought about trying his method, bought the book, listened to the CD, etc., and gained 10 pounds. I decided that the method works only for those that have learned to love themselves. I switched my focus to learning just that. I think I'm learning to love myself, and the outcome, in part, is the weight loss.

Be Peace.
Be Love.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Living Mirrors

Yesterday was an interesting day. Somehow I had convinced myself that I had made progress. Yes, even after the last post where I exposed the proof of continued arrogance. Both Ann Albers, Byron Katie, Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama tell us that other people are our best mirrors. Other people evoke or provoke aspects of our personality. If we keep alert, we can watch ourselves in that mirror.

OK, watch this. Last night I needed to refill the prescription for needles for my diabetic dog, Maisie. We have been injecting insulin into Maisie for more than a year, picking up a new supply of needles every 50 days, with rarely a problem. Sometimes, the pharmacist will ask me if I have a prescription for the needles. I explain its for the dog. “Oh, yeah, I see that. No problem.” and the pharmacist gives me a box of one-hundred needles.

Last night, the pharmacist challenged me, “I'll have to call the doctor. There are no refills left on the order.”

Its nearly 7:00PM and the veterinary office is long since closed. “Its for my dog,” I explain.

“I know its for your dog,” she says, “I will have to call the doctor to renew the prescription.”

I got angry. “Look, that prescription has said 'No refills' for over a year. Since it's for the dog, it doesn't require a new prescription.”

“Oh, wait a minute,” she says as she is typing into the computer. "There is a newer prescription on file. I'll use it.”

“Thank you,” I said.

“Nope, can't do it. I need to call the doctor.”

“OK, just give me a pack of ten needles to get me by until you can call the doctor.” (For some reason, they can sell a pack of ten needles without a prescription, but not a box of one-hundred needles.)

“OK,” she said as she pulled out a bag of ten needles. “Oh, wait! You don't need a prescription renewal for the dog. Do you still want the bag of ten, or do you want the box of one-hundred.”

I was confused and I was very irritated. Did I not tell her it was for the dog, and did she not confirm that she knew that? “Please give me the box of one-hundred needles.”

As I drove out of the parking lot, I realized I was still angry and thinking many negative thoughts toward the pharmacist. I also realized that I still have some nasty issues with judgment and arrogance. There is no way that I can justify the irritation I felt about the situation. The mirror worked! I saw myself as I was. Byron Katie's admonition came to mind, “Love what is.” I'm not going to change anything but my chemistry and my health by allowing anger to rule. So, now the question is, how do I restructure my thinking so that these silly situations don't cause so much turmoil within?

Be Peace.
Be Love.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Does anybody remember?

Does anyone remember what I wrote on August 24? How can you remember what you never read? Well, just in case...

If you did read it, perhaps you caught a very telling attitude in my final statement. I actually caught it immediately after I thought it earlier in the evening. But I was tired last night, I didn't feel like addressing the real issue, Here's what I said:
I concluded, once again, that I can only change myself. I can't change any one else. The most that can happen, is that if I change, perhaps it can inspire change in others. But, don't count on it, I assured myself, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink

Did you catch the attitude? The assumption I made in that statement is that I was right, and someone else was wrong. That, my friends, is arrogance. Pride. Not that I was wrong about the situation, but that it was wrong of me to assume that the other person should learn from me and correct their situation.

The correct attitude would be to “love what is.” Sound familiar? Remember Byron Katie, Loving What Is? Rather than wanting something to change, I should just accept it, embrace it, and let life go on.

'Nuff said.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Don't drink the water.

In my younger years, I visited many bars all around the world, from Omaha, Nebraska to Monterey, California; Melbourne, Australia; Seoul, Korea; Chicago, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; Long Island, New York; Tampa, Florida; San Angelo, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Ames, Iowa; Iowa City, Iowa; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and many, many towns in between these towns. There were a few bars that remain in my memory simply because of their unusual names.

In the early 70's, if someone shouted an insulting name in your direction, it was expected that you would respond in kind with, “So's your mother.” In Des Moines, there was a bar close to Drake University on University Avenue that took on the name, “So's Your Mother.” It was a fun bar; mostly Drake University students. My most “fond” recollection of the place was when a person with beautiful blond hair and a creamy white pant suit captured my fancy. I saw her only from the backside at first. I walked across the dance floor and tapped her on the shoulder to find out that “she” had a well trimmed red beard and very bushy eyebrows. “Uh, I'm sorry, I thought you were some one else.”

Well, there was one other memory from that bar. It was the musician that played there one night. The 1st string on his guitar was actually the “E” string from a bass guitar. It made for some very rich bass runs in his music. I figure the action on the guitar had to be very high to accommodate the thick bass string. Perhaps he crafted the nut and the bridge so that they accommodated the large string. I did not look at the guitar closely. I just enjoyed the music.

And then that triggers another memory; my apartment in Des Moines was a very small 6 ft by 10 ft room with a smaller room with a toilet and a small shower booth in the basement of a one-hundred year old mansion. The most interesting thing about the apartment was that it had a combination safe in the solid brick foundation of the house. The door was locked open—you could not close the safe because the locking pins kept the door from closing. The landlord told me that he did not know the combination of the lock

One night, when I didn't have the money for So's Your Mother, I removed the inner panel on the safe door, exposing the tumblers. I played with the tumblers, while listening to the Guess Who's “Share The Land” album, until I figured out what they represented in terms of numbers. Then I applied the “clear right; twice left; once right” rule to the numbers and successfully unlocked the safe. I was excited! Then for fun, I played a little further and figured out how to change the combination. I did it and successfully unlocked the safe with a new combination. I thought I was pretty damned smart. The landlord was impressed when I left him with the combination to the safe.

Also, I shared the same name as the leader of the Des Moines chapter of the Black Panthers. Many times, I received early morning calls telling me that the “pigs” had locked up so-and-so, and that I needed to take some action to get them out of jail. Since I was somewhat involved in the civil rights movement at the time, I was often sympathetic to the complaints that came my way. None-the-less, I was obligated to explain that I was not the person they thought I was.

Then there is the “Lift Ticket” bar in downtown Benson, Nebraska. Benson was a town once upon a time. Now, Benson is a suburb in Omaha, Nebraska. Its old town center still thrives as a commercial district in the suburb. Why was it called the “Lift Ticket?” I have no clue. The clientele consisted of the “hip” people in their late 20's and early thirties. I was a sound engineer for a band in those days and we played that bar frequently. One memory that remains from that experience was the day one of the band members called me crying. “Someone broke into the bar and stole all of our sound equipment." It was more than a thousand dollars worth of equipment. I was the only person in the band that was fully employed. I excused myself from the job for the day and met my friend at the bar. I quickly ascertained that I could find new equipment and have it set up and ready to go for the night's show. It cost me well over $4000 ( about two month's pay) but I was glad to do it.

The other memory from that experience was the night that a lady was trying to put the make on me right in front of her husband. I learned that she was a cousin to our lead guitarist. I discretely approached him about her. “Oh, yeah. Stay far away from her. She's a pack of trouble.” I had already decided she was nuts. His admonition only confirmed my suspicions.

And last but not least, a bar with a “south-of-the-border” theme-I believe it was in Omaha, too, “Don't Drink the Water.” The thing that stands out in my memory of that bar is simply the name. I have no recollection of the bar itself. Hmmmm. Maybe I should have drank the water.

What brought on this series of thoughts? Well, I was in a negative funk tonight, pondering what I could do about a situation that piques my ire. I concluded, once again, that I can only change myself. I can't change anyone else. The most that can happen, is that if I change, perhaps it can inspire change in others. But, don't count on it, I assured myself, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Of course, “Don't Drink the Water” came to mind immediately after that. And here you are, a victim of my rambling thoughts.

Freedom. Real Freedom

When I hear or think of the word "freedom" the scene from Braveheart comes to mind, where William Wallace (played by Mel Gibson) is being tortured in an effort to make him renounce his freedom movement. While in excruciating pain, he signals his tormentors that he wants to talk. They bow down in front of his face to hear what they hoped would be a statement of capitulation. To their chagrin, Wallace screams to the top of his lungs, a long drawn-out rally to “FREEDOM!”

I could probably write at length about the feelings I have for freedom. I will just shorten those feelings to this: I would hope that I would have the personal integrity and strength to stand-up for freedom should it come to a point that we Americans should once again need to shed a tyrannical government.

For the moment though, I just want to tell you about the dream I remembered from last night. It spoke of one of the many aspects of freedom.

I found myself in a small farming community somewhere in the Midwest. There are many dieing towns with populations of less than one-thousand souls here in Nebraska. I suspect I had moved to one of them, for some reason. I needed a place to stay but the only place available was a small house in which three other people were living. As I walked into the rear door of the house, I found myself immediately in the kitchen. The old linoleum floor was cracking, and pieces of it were flaking. The floor was mushy under the feet, and it creaked with every step I took. There was a smell of musty damp wood. The refrigerator was an ancient gas refrigerator that clunked and clanked as it turned on. The stove was an old gas stove with the heavy iron grid work where the pots and pans would sit. The oven door did not have a glass viewing port. The clock on the stove had long since stopped from the grease and dirt clogging the workings and causing the motor windings to burn up. The ceiling was dingy from grease and dirt that had never been washed. There were no tables or chairs, but at the opposite end of the kitchen, in what should have been the dining area, was a dirty dark couch—my bed.

To the left of the entry way was a dark, short hallway leading to the two bedrooms. A large window nearly covered one wall of the kitchen. The window was covered by a filthy white, thin see-through curtain. The window was not a window to the outside; showed into one of the bedrooms. The occupants of the bed in that bedroom watched me through the curtain. The foot of the bed, was in fact, level with the base of the window and shoved flush against the window.

The two women dressed in night apparel lay on their bellies, actively watching me, giggling and whispering to one another, knowing that I could see them as well as they could see me. I sensed from them an attitude of arrogance with a question of whether or not I would be able to live in those conditions, with them always able to see everything I did in that end of the kitchen. I would have absolutely no privacy in that house. The two women kissed each other and waited for a reaction from me. I threw my backpack on the couch. I felt the challenge from them, and an attitude which said, “We are free to do whatever we want. We have no shame. Can you take it?”

One of my dogs barked, waking me from the dream. I laid in the recliner trying to make sense of the dream. I'm not sure if the dream made sense, really, but it started my thoughts on freedom. My character in the dream lived an open life. Having no privacy was somewhat of an annoyance, but I had nothing to hide; I did not do anything that would bring negative judgments on me. The situation was tolerable.

The two women, while they felt they had freedom, flaunted their life-style in defiance. The truth be known, they were not free at all. They could not change their life if they wanted to, because they had become slaves to their lifestyle, flaunting it in an attempt to say they had made a choice and therefore were free. The arrogance was a way to cover the fact that they no longer had choices.

Is it true then, that a man who lives in good conscience is a truly free man?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe

If you are a baby-boomer, you may recall the Hollies song, “The Air that I Breathe.” Cool tune, in my opinion. If you have read any books by Thich Nhat Hanh you have read that he focuses on breathing techniques. When I first started reading his works , I almost became irritated about his constant emphasis on learning to breathe. However, Let me tell you something. I have been practicing breathing techniques regularly for over 2 years, now. I have learned that you can control heart rate, skin resistance, and blood pressure using breathing techniques.

I'll give you a specific example of how I use breathing techniques to control my blood pressure. I had read about a product called RespeRate. It sells for less than $300 USD. I read as much about it as I could to determine how it works. It monitors your respiration rate, does a calculation, then guides you into changing your breathing to get your respiration rate below 12 respirations per minute. Typically, most of us (including me) are very shallow breathers. The other goal of the RespeRate is to get you to breathe deeper. The company claims that if you use the machine 15 minutes each day for 30 days, you can lower your blood pressure as much as 20 points on the systolic and diastolic measurements.

I set about to determine my optimal breathing patterns to decrease my respiration to something less than 12 respirations per minute, and to increase the depth of my respiration to supply more oxygen to the heart. As I describe this process, keep in mind that we are all metabolically unique. We all have different operational requirements in our biology. What works for me may not work for you. You must determine your own optimal respiration rate and depth.

First, learn to count off seconds. I have found that if I count “one-thousand-and-one” that will get me very close to one second in time. If I count:
I will have counted off 4 seconds.

Start at trying 12 respirations per minute. A complete respiration includes an inhale and an exhale. To get 12 respirations per minute, I divide 60/12 which is 5. I need to do a complete respiration every 5 seconds. Keep in mind that you must exhale as much volume as you inhale. So I would need to inhale for 2.5 seconds and exhale 2.5 seconds (5/2).

OK, start the inhale as you count “one-thousand-and-one one-thousand-and-two one-thousand” Then start the exhale as you count one-thousand-and-one one-thousand-and-two one-thousand.” Then start the cycle over.

Twelve respirations per minute will probably be too shallow and you will soon feel like you are out of breath. You may even start yawning or even burping.

After a bit of experimenting, I found that 6 respirations per minute was optimal. That means I count off 4 seconds on a deep, steady inhale, hold 1 second, exhale 4 seconds, hold 1 second and repeat the cycle. Holding the breath for a second may be necessary to allow your lungs time to absorb the oxygen from the air and exchange it with the carbon dioxide. That rate allowed me to breathe comfortably, deeply and efficiently. At 6 respirations per minute, I do not yawn, I do not feel like I am out of breath. It is totally comfortable and sustainable.

How effective was it? Well, my blood pressure without medication has a baseline of 168/98. I have had times when my blood pressure, without medication shoots up to 210/110. At that pressure, the capillaries in my eyeballs literally start popping. It is not pretty. Using the breathing technique at 6 respirations per second, I can lower my blood pressure to the baseline in less than 10 minutes.

Obviously, I have to be on blood pressure medications. The meds have brought my pressure down to about 158/93. (For some reason, my diastolic pressure doesn't change much under medication. My doctor is somewhat distressed over that phenomenon. There are times when my blood pressure may jump to around 190/101. In less than 5 minutes, using the breathing at 6 respirations per minute, I can bring my pressure as low as 158/89. That is a drop of 32 points on the systolic measurement.

There can be any number of reasons for this decrease in blood pressure. Here are a few things that come to my mind. First, counting of seconds causes my mind to focus – it gets rid of “monkey mind.” It could be that whatever emotion or thought that causes the pressure to go up, is preempted by the counting. Without the stress source, the blood pressure naturally drops.

Perhaps, the deeper breathing allows the lungs to absorb more oxygen, giving the heart more oxygen, reducing the need to pump so vigorously to get enough oxygen to the rest of the body.

After years of practice, I easily achieve one of the altered states of mind with the breathing techniques. Perhaps, with that relaxed state, the heart doesn't have to work so hard, and the blood pressure drops.

Back to Thich Nhat Hanh and his emphasis on breathing techniques: he is spot on. Controlling breathing in various patterns, achieves different results in your body statistics; Things like heart rate, skin resistance, mind states, and even awareness, change.

I have found a training device that is excellent if one is interested in learning breathing techniques for what ever reason. Checkout Wild Divine's hardware and software packages. I have used both the Journey to the Wild Divine and the Wisdom Quest packages. All of their packages work on the same premise, but the “Journey” and the “Quest” wrap the exercises and techniques in a story that requires you to learn and achieve proficiency in various breathing techniques. The sensors measure heart rate and skin resistance then calculate the degree of success in controlling these measurements. The program provides constant biofeedback to help you achieve the goals. The fact that breathing techniques influence “something” that changes skin resistance and heart rate, is interesting, and it can obviously be used to do good things like lower blood pressure, and change moods and attitudes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I won't tolerate intolerance.

One day the CEO of the company for whom I worked made a statement that caught my weird sense of language. She was talking about an incident where some children were engaging in racist types of dialogue. She told us, “Of course, you know me. I won't tolerate intolerance.”

Have you ever thought about “tolerance?” In this diverse society, we are constantly reminded of the requirement to “tolerate” those with whom we differ for whatever reason. Those of us that were brought up as Christians, were admonished to “love” one another. The command includes loving our neighbors, our family, our government, and our enemies. The same admonition given to the Jews and to the Buddhists, as well. In none of those traditions were we told to “tolerate.” We are commanded to “love.”

See where I'm going? If you do, you are ahead of me. I'm not sure I can explain this clearly. To me, the term “tolerate” has more to do with avoidance and preservation of peace than it has to do with love. Tolerate does not mean “accept.” It just means that we have to allow the other to practice whatever it is one may practice. In my mind, if you don't think you can accept another 100%, then the next best thing is to tolerate the other. It is an expedience; a practical, pragmatic attitude to avoid conflict and possible mutual destruction.

OK, that brings me to another point in my practical experience of learning to love (accept unconditionally). I find myself judging another, and realize that I am not thinking loving thoughts. So, I start trying to justify the behavior of the person I have come to judge. In effect, I am rationalizing and finding a condition by which I can “love” the one I judged. The irony is, of course, that I set up a condition for love. Love, by definition, is unconditional. In the end, I am only providing an excuse to tolerate the person, not love the person. I fall short of love by a long distance, do I not?

I learn a lot from my dogs. I can tell you without hedging any definitions, I LOVE my dogs. They cannot keep me from loving them. They can do nothing to stop my love for them. My dogs are like me--they have behaviors that can be irritating. When those behaviors manifest, I very lovingly seek a way to correct the behavior, or in the case when they soil the floor with biological discharge, I clean it up. For other behavioral corrections, I will think of appropriate ways to demonstrate to the dog what I expect without in any way striking or hurting the dog. In the end, I really do not “tolerate” my dogs. I love them and I involve myself with them and I teach them what they need to know.

See the difference?

I guess, until I have grown spiritually to the point that I can love all things, I will have to settle for tolerating all things. And to say I will tolerate something is offensive. It makes me sound arrogant. My goal is to become love. I will have to tolerate tolerance until I learn to love. Life is just chock full of contradictions, is it not?

Be Peace.
Be Love.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Intuition is worth its salt.

Roger Kamenetz says that our dreams are the subconscious attempts to confront us on issues to which we need to pay attention. I highly recommend his books, The Jew in the Lotus and The History of Last Night's Dream . Now that I am getting some sleep, and I am starting to remember dreams, I am also trying to listen to them.

Last night's dream: I was on a Department of Roads team—the new guy. We gathered at the rear of the two-ton flatbed truck to discuss the plan of action. A few yards ahead of us was a long span of bridge over a four-lane highway and a river below. Our task was to wash the gravel and salt off of the bridge. The supervisor, a lady in a baggy white denim shirt with buttoned pockets on the chest, and a wide collar. She wore baggy, unpressed khaki pants. Her curly blond frizzy hair blew in the gusts of wind. “Let's see, now. We do have some detergent with us.” She spoke first looking down the road toward the bridge, then back at me. “I want to hear what you think we should do to clean the bridge.”

I tried hard not to show my surprise at her question. I heard her mention the detergent, but was otherwise clueless. This was, after all, my first day on the job. My gut told me to steer clear of the detergent. I knew that what ever we did, we needed to dilute, or neutralize the salt. I scanned my memory for my high school chemistry where learned that salt was a by-product of neutralized acid. Even so, salt is very corrosive, so I must have misunderstood what salt came from. Then I thought that perhaps the detergent we had was specially designed to neutralize the salt. I looked at the terrain below the bridge. Along with the four-lane highway, there was a meandering shallow river with a great deal of natural vegetation. I thought that surely the salt and detergent were the last things we wanted to use because the run-off would end up in the river.

The supervisor smiled as she looked into my eyes, waiting for the answer. “Why would she mention detergent if that were not part of the answer she expected.?” I asked myself.

“Yeah,” I started with feigned confidence and authority, “high pressure water and a mild detergent mix ought to be good.”

The smile on her face grew bigger as she cocked her head in a “Gotcha” gesture. I knew immediately that I should have gone with my instinct and totally ignored the comment about the detergent. I awoke, feeling embarrassed, stupid, and duped.

I think there were two messages that came from the dream. 1) I try to read people to please them much to my own peril. 2) Pride always makes a fool of its prisoners.

The solution to the problem? First, my instinct said “no detergent” and warned me about salt and detergent in the river below.” I should have went with no detergent, but had no clue what to do about salt. Pride forced me to provide an answer and cover the ignorance with a show of authority and confidence. I should have simply stated my concern about the salt and the detergent and left the solution up to the supervisor who probably knew the correct action to take.

So my targets are to trust my intuition more, and to ferret out and marginalize pride in my life.

Be Peace.
Be Love.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Answer Is the Question

I have been reading Whispers of the Spirit by Ann Albers. It is packed with wisdom. Not that every sentence you read contains an indispensable life changing bite. One of the reasons the book is so valuable is because Ms. Albers takes you through the very real life situations that caused her to grow in spiritual maturity and in wisdom.

Through the course of the reading, I am usually excited, enthusiastic, and generally highly appreciative that I, too, gain insight from her experiences, and definitely from her conclusions. But every now and then, I find myself face to face with something you may not expect of me, but I find quite typical of me in certain situations. I get jealous of Ms. Albers. She goes through an experience and comes out the other end with such profound understanding, or she has an indescribable mountain top experience. I think, “Damn, why can't I do that?”

Think about it for a second. The answer to my question is the question. Were it not for pride and jealousy, I would never ask the question, would I? Pride means that I can't be trusted from a spiritual standpoint. I can't be given some truths because pride and arrogance will abuse them. There will come a time when prides has released its grip, and I will be more trustworthy. Until that time, my wise and loving guides will continue to teach me humility.

Be Peace.
Be Love.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wisdom from Ann Albers

I have been reading Whispers of the Spirit by Ann Albers. I have been reading it slowly, and just taking in bits and pieces to digest in between times. The book is just full of wonderful insights and incites. Here is the wisdom I read today:

Life is like a great hall of mirrors. Everywhere we turn there's a chance to see something more about who we are and where our lives are going. I had learned well how to look outside of myself for wisdom. The mirrors of my life—the reflections that showed me who I was and who I was growing to be—were becoming ever clearer. Next, I would learn that there is even greater wisdom to be found when you go within and discover the source of the reflections. (Ann Albers, Whispers of the Spirit, P144)

'Nuff said, I say.

Be Peace. Be Love.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Relax! Take it easy.

At the beginning of "Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)" by Styx, Dennis DeYoung speaks softly, "Relax. Take it easy." It's a good title for this piece.

Sometimes, we are forced to slow down in order to learn our spiritual lessons. I am about 100 pounds over my best weight. The pressure on my knees is very high, and for the last several months, I have had to be very careful about what I do when I am on my feet.

It was inevitable that someday I would be forced to exceed the limits on my aching, inflamed knees. Our new dog decided he'd take the opportunity to explore on his own. I chased him for about one-tenth mile before finally catching him. By that time I had twisted both knees and it was extremely painful carrying the naughty little boy (7 pound Pomeranian) back home.

The knees quickly swelled up, and immobilized me after I arrived home. This is my third day for not being able to carry out my normal duties. It is my third day of trying to manage the pain as I do the walking that can't be avoided. I am learning something. I don't know if I am learning what was meant for me to learn, but I am learning, none-the-less.

First, when I have to walk, the muscles automatically tense up in an effort to protect the injured knees. The muscles quickly tire and the legs begin to ache from muscle fatigue as well as the knee injuries. As the muscles fatigue, it is harder to maintain balance. The more the knees shift to maintain balance, the more pain you experience and the more the muscles tense up. It's a vicious cycle.

To mitigate the pain and to stop the cycle when I have to walk, I use techniques I learned from meditation to relax the muscles in the legs. I can't explain how, but once you learn various meditation techniques, it becomes relatively easy to control localized pain. So, as I walk, I concentrate on slow, even movements and relaxing those muscles that so want to protect the knees. I can walk for a considerable longer time without exceptional pain, now. When I talk about “longer time”, I'm talking about something less than 5 minutes of walking, as in walking from my office to the bathroom, or helping to feed and medicate the dogs. The idea is to stay off of the feet, but control the muscles when it is necessary to walk.

There are several spiritual and life lessons in this. First, in many situations, it is necessary to relax when the urge is to act. How many times can we recall when we have acted hastily and exacerbated the situation. The second lesson is that it is far harder to maintain balance when one is weak and injured. Ironically, when one is weak and injured is the very time that balance is most required. It comes back to learning to relax in the face of adversity.

The third lesson is this: Life goes on. The daily demands on a person continue whether or not you are up to them. During the time that I wrote this piece, I have had to help feed and medicate the dogs, eat breakfast, clean-up the breakfast mess, prepare my morning cherry juice, clean-up after the dogs, and walk up and down two stories of stairs to reset a circuit breaker that popped during last night's rain storm. And by the way, speaking of last night's rainstorm, I was awakened by the sound of water splashing somewhere close to my bed. One of or downspouts backed up, and poured water into our house. Yes, I was cleaning that mess up at 5:30 AM.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Change is in the wind.

The Catholic theologians of old had it right when they named pride as one of the seven deadly sins. But let me reword that just a little. You know of my struggle with the word “sin” and the connotation that it involves condemnation from God. The original meaning of the word “sin” as the Apostle Paul used it, means “missing the mark.” That is when we do something that falls short of the standard God has given us, we miss the mark.

“I'm so proud of the fact that I'm humble.” I frequently say that in jest. But only partly so, because I understand how insidious pride is. It is truly a two-edged sword, and if it doesn't get you on the forward swing, it will definitely get you on the back swing.

For the sake of argument, let's give each of the blades of pride a name. When you refuse to see that you have faults, that is the blade that comes at you with the forward swing. It is called, “arrogance.” When you see that you have faults and you try to hide them from others because of embarrassment, that is the blade that cuts your legs off on the back swing. That blade is called, “shame.”

Yes, shame is not the opposite of pride, it is just pride coming from the opposite direction. Shame says to you, “I am not perfect, therefore I am embarrassed.” In this case, pride causes you to hate yourself.
Arrogance says, “I am perfect and beyond reproach. I have no need to change.” Arrogance precludes self examination. Arrogance places a condition on your love for self, and builds an illusion resembling, but far from unconditional love. Shame merely seeks to cover the fault, not to resolve it. Arrogance never acknowledges fault. Either way, pride brings spiritual growth to a halt, and it will eventually totally annihilate any growth that may have gone before.

In years past, if I went a period without finding cause to hate myself, I had the false sense that I had not fallen short of perfection and that I must be growing. Now, I see the folly and the work of pride. Now, if I seemed to have successfully navigated through the many temptations and invitations to imperfection, I no longer have a sense of smugness. In fact, quite the contrary; I have a deep sense of gratitude to my spirit guides who advised me and guided me through those dark and dangerous straits. At the same time, I know there are many failures about which I have not yet become aware. For everything I've done right, I have fallen short on at least a hundred others. Never the less, I bow in gratitude and joy before my God, Who is the lover of my soul, and I see Him smile, knowing that I finally have learned to lean on those divine servants He has provided to see me through this life. Even so, don't get the idea that I think I have arrived. Believe me, my guides continue to push me to deal with other issues that are now clearly visible that weren't so visible before.

And today, I have felt a peace that I have not felt for many years. I finally feel at home with myself. I am finally learning to be real with myself, and learning to love myself unconditionally. That means I see my faults, and I work to resolve them, not hide them. And I also see my attitudes toward others changing, as well. I don't spend near the time judging as I may have in the past.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Who needs whom

Nigeria, 1989, I traveled with a Christian evangelism team to the eastern part of Nigeria that was at one time the Republic of Biafra (1967-1970) . Prior to our arrival in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, we had spent a week in the jungles of Gabon just the week before. In Gabon, there were some very tiny insects that one could barely see with the naked eye, but when they bit, they injected an anti-coagulate that caused a purple ring of hemorrhaging about a quarter of an inch in diameter on the skin. The bites were mostly harmless, unless you are allergic to the anti-coagulant. I had an allergic reaction. I ran a fever, headache, body ache, much like the flu.

The land trip from Port Harcourt to Enugu was grueling. The territory was still tightly controlled by the Nigerian government. Military checkpoints covered the major roads, each check point within sight of each other. After being searched, harassed and intimidated many, many times through the trip, we finally arrived at our destination.

I don't recall the name of the village where we stayed. It was near the Biafran capital of Enugu. The hosting pastor gave us a tour of the area around the village. It was the site of a major bloody battle between the secessionist Biafran troops and the Nigerian Federal troops. Standing on the red clay soil made me acutely aware of the bloodshed that took place under my feet. My spirit heard the cries of the dying wounded, the mothers for their men and their sons. A gross injustice, the ugliness of humanity screamed all around me. One of the students assigned to my team related to me his personal story. On that very piece of land where we stood, his mother and father died. He was spared, but his body yet bore the deforming scars of malnutrition, and he suffered severe learning disabilities. None the less, he saw himself as a servant of the Most High God, and he wanted to be a pastor of his own church, someday.

Through the next days, my fever and body aches persisted. I finally announced to our hosts that I was sick and needed to rest. The hosting pastor let me use his daughter's bed. As I lay there, five of the students came in to the room.

"Mr. Tigerpaw, we will pray for you to get well."

I thanked them and listened as they prayed. They were like little children, praying in total expectation that God would hear them and that God would heal. They prayed with such intensity and fervor. As I lay there listening, I felt ashamed. I can't recall a time that I prayed actually expecting God to listen, much less answer. For the first time in my life, I saw what real prayer was all about.

The men huddled about me and laid their hands on me, praying with ever more intensity; then, silence. They let go. "Ok, sleep now, and when you wake, you will feel better."

I closed my eyes and slept for fifteen minutes, then woke. The fever was gone. The headache was gone. The body aches were gone. I felt great.

I thought, "How ironic that I would travel nearly seven-thousand miles to teach these young men how to present the Gospel, and they demonstrate to me something far more valuable." I thought to myself, "These Africans don't need us. We need them!"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

There is no way....

How do I know that my “faith” is the right path to God?
Let me be clear on this. I DON'T KNOW!

I started my journey as a child. My first conscious understanding of God came from my parents. They tried to live a “godly life” and teach us to live such a life. Mother spoke of God and Jesus off and on, in a generally positive way. By the time I was in second grade, I somehow ended up in a Baptist church, heard some stories about Jesus and immediately took to this gentle teacher. From that point on, my focus was on emulating Jesus. But I had very little to do with churches until I converted to Roman Catholicism when I was seventeen years old. It is then, also, that I learned the hard way about the divisions in Christianity. My mother and father were very disappointed in my conversion. My aunt also sent me tons of anti-Catholic literature from the famous Bob Jones University.

That did not stop me. Catholicism taught me much about a formalized spiritual life. Out of high school I entered my first year in a Roman Catholic seminary. I was on my way to being a priest. Ironically, it is in the seminary that I met with my first serious “faith” challenge. It changed my life drastically.

There is a classic Biblical work by the Episcopalian scholar, Bernhard W. Anderson, Understanding the Old Testament. Dr. Anderson's approach was a truly scientific and literary analysis of the Old Testament texts. He taught that the Old Testament literature was that of a simple desert people who interpreted everything in the light of their relationship with God. The histories were exaggerated renditions of the events designed to highlight God and Israel. The stories were usually not true, per se, but were meant to teach us life lessons. The miracles were not miracles but natural events interpreted as miracles. The so-called prophesies were contemporary politicized rantings of mystics that spoke of God's judgment of regimes that had polluted the traditions of the nation of Israel. These “prophesies” were in fact, interpretations of past events and their final outcome from the perspective of this deity that had adopted Israel as His people.

By the end of the year, I had concluded that if the Old Testament is not the true word of God, then the foundations from which Jesus conducted his ministry were equally false, and Jesus could not possibly be who everyone had taught me he was. I left the seminary, and after a few years, left Christianity altogether.

Eventually, after a major encounter with God I described in an earlier post (May 27, 2009), I would wonder back in to Christianity in the form of fundamental Bible-believing evangelical churches. Of course, I personally had to renounce Dr. Anderson's work as errant. After nearly twenty years of study as an evangelical Christian, I found it very hollow and actually a distraction from true relationship with God. I set out in a major review and reform of my spiritual life. Today, I view Dr. Anderson's work as a truly accurate and scholarly work. I have a very high regard for it.

I want to be clear about my views of Christianity. I harbor no ill feelings toward Christianity. It is after all, a major part of my understanding of God. It is not my intent to be critical of any religion. However, I admit, in order to come to the place I am now, I had to be very critical of the doctrines espoused by the majority of Christianity. Let that be part of my path. I do not expect anyone else to take that path.

Dennis DeYoung, a devout Roman Catholic and the lead scream of the rock band Styx, wrote a song, allegedly for his son Matthew, called “Show Me the Way.” It is a profound piece outlining the struggle with faith. I love the traditional Judeo-Christian metaphors he employs in the work. I share that with you here:

SHOW ME THE WAY (by Dennis DeYoung)

Every night I say a prayer in the hope that there's a heaven
And every day I'm more confused as the saints turn into sinners
All the heroes and legends I knew as a child have fallen to idols of clay
And I feel this empty place inside so afraid that I've lost my faith

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the river
And wash my illusions away
Show me the way

And as I slowly drift to sleep, for a moment dreams are sacred
I close my eyes and know theres peace in a world so filled with hatred
That I wake up each morning and turn on the news to find we've so far to go
And I keep on hoping for a sign, so afraid that I just won't know

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the mountain
And take my confusion away

And if I see a light, should I believe
Tell me how will I know

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the river
And wash my illusions away
Show me the way, show me the way
Give me the strength and the courage
To believe that Ill get there someday
Show me the way

Every night I say a prayer
In the hope that theres a heaven..
(CopyRight by Dennis DeYoung/Styx 1990)

I have studied the major religions of this world and have found they all have some very common experience on the mystical levels. It is in those common experiences I, too, find common ground. And it is in that common ground of experiencing God, that I have concluded what I now understand as truth in part. ( I cannot know total truth at this point). God is not concerned about the path we follow to connect to Him. Each of us come from entirely different places, entirely different understanding. But what we hold in common is that we seek Him in earnest, we thirst to be in Him and with Him, and He honors that and sends his messengers (angels) to encourage us and to guide us. He rejoices when we arrive, and He rejoices at every turn in the path that brings us closer. He even walks with us! Even when we don't think He is there, He is. And he brings us home to Him with fanfare and rejoicing.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There is no way to peace. Peace IS the way.” Let me hijack this famous statement and change it to suit my purpose:

There is no way to God. God IS the way.

Missing the mark

The tiger has been having a lot of trouble with sleepless nights lately. This is another in the series. I don't mean to imply that I get NO sleep. I usually make it through one dream cycle, and that is about it. Tonight was a nightmare on many levels. On one level I found myself in a position that compromised my principles. If that wasn't enough to disturb me, the Dream Weaver added a deadly threat to the mix; a man that would turn to half man, half wolf at the slightest provocation. Of course, the provocation was the my failure to live as I thought I should be living. The man walked by me, stopped at a closet, stared at me in disgust, then walked out, leaving me with an ominous sense that he would be back to lay me to destruction.

I was frightened, but realized that fear was a detriment to self-defense. Fear is like a fire alarm. It only warns you about the danger. You can't use the alarm to extinguish the fire. You can't use fear to mitigate a threat. I had to shift my thinking to taking defensive action. I was waiting calmly for the man to return, and I was prepared to kill him anyway I could if I had to. I didn't have to; I woke up.

I know where the dream came from. Two things have been on my mind lately that mashed together in the dream. One you already heard about—love; loving one self. The other was failure to do what is right. In the religious vernacular it is called, “sin.”

This is going to be hard to explain correctly. It is an understanding about “sin” that may or may not be common. I could be the only one in the world with this understanding, but I don't think so. When I think of sin, included in that thought would be God and punishment. In my mind the act of doing wrong or, failing to do right, the relationship with God, and punishment are wrapped up in the word “sin.” If I “sin,” I can expect punishment from God in the form of condemnation and hell.

Also, fundamental Christianity says the “believer” that is “living in sin” will not be condemned, but is separated from God. So, sin includes the the excommunication from God. At the same time, we read in the Bible that “God will not forsake you,” and that if you confess your sins, that God will restore the communication with you. In other words, God responds to my failures with disgust, anger , and with retribution.

WRONG! How could I have gotten this so WRONG?

I have heard preachers tell me that God's love is unconditional, that He will never forsake me. I have heard one preacher postulate, “If you are feeling distant from God, guess who moved.” Both of these thoughts are, in fact, correct. So, how did I get this so wrong?

Have I not said in previous posts how the human mind can have the facts and still draw the wrong conclusion? The root of the problem is my self hatred. This hatred defies and overrides all logic. God loves me unconditionally. When I fail to do what is right, He stands by me and encourages me to correct it. He does not condemn and abandon me. He works with me, and will continue to work with me until someday, I get it right. That's the fact. Even so, the hatred I have for myself tells me that God can't possibly love me. I condemn myself. Surely God would condemn me, too.

If you, like me, are trapped by self hatred, if you believe in the unconditional love of God, then you must just let that be. Find a way to come into agreement with God on that issue, and a whole new world will open up. You see, God is not withholding anything from you. You are closing yourself off and refusing to let His love work in you. I see it this way: I am alive. God created me. If He created me, He loves me. Then I need to love myself, too. As the Apostle Paul would say, if God is for me, who could be against me?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Justify your existence.

In twelve days, Golda Stein and I will celebrate fourteen years of marriage. We picked an easy date to remember, August 1. Even so, over the years, we haven't always been in a position that we even wanted to remember that day. Sadly, that's how relationships go, sometimes.

Hopefully, this date will be one to remember anew. I have to say that my understanding of love has been seriously deficient. The last couple of years, that has come under serious scrutiny thanks to my spirit guides.

In this blog, you have read many of my thoughts concerning the definition of love. While the thoughts are high and seem to be meaningful, the transformation of the mind has been very slow. As I have pointed out many times, the largest obstacle to love is the lack of love for self. I am yet working on that, and until I can say that I love myself, I will find it very difficult to love anyone else.

Even so, there is a saving grace, in spite of my failures, thanks be to God. Let me explain by describing an incident prior to our marriage. Golda had announced to her children of our plans to marry. Her youngest daughter, who at the time was a student at Indiana University at Bloomington, Indiana, called me on the phone.

“Hi, DeHomely. I'm Susan. So, you and mom are going to get married?”


“Well, I want to learn more about you. Do you mind if I ask you some questions?”

“Fire away,” I said.

“Describe who you are. Tell me how you fit in to this world. Justify your existence.”

Curiously, that was not really a challenge to me at the time. In fact, for several weeks prior to that phone call, I had been examining that very issue with myself. I had already worked through the justification for my existence.

At the time, I was an fundamental evangelical Christian. My answer came quickly. “Actually, Susan, I can't justify my existence. That is entirely up to my Savior, Jesus Christ. It is only in Him that I have life. It is only in Him that there is any reason for me to be alive.”

Susan, too, was, and still is, a devout Christian. The answer satisfied her and she blessed our marriage.

As you have already surmised, while I do not take issue with the gentle man of peace, I am no longer a Christian. So, how do I justify my existence, now?

It is simple. I do not exist outside of my Creator. I cannot justify my existence in anyway except to point to Him and say, He is the one that justifies me. If He does not, then I no longer exist. Since His love is true love, He will never forsake me, and He will continue to be my justification. He will continue to be the lover of my soul, teaching me to love myself, and empowering me to give true love to others.

The saving grace of His unwavering love, is the same grace that will hold together the marriage of DeHomely Tigerpaw and Golda Stein. Already, I feel the changes taking place in me, and I have no doubt that my loving Creator will bring me to be love, as He is love, and our marriage will reach a higher plane.

Be Peace. Be Love.

Primal Warfare: Before there were swords there were stones; before there were stones, there were...bananas.

Every family or group of friends has their “private jokes,” or “private stories.” Today, I make one of my stories public.

I was perhaps three-years old, barely out of diapers, and able to talk. My brother, Jon, was three years my senior, and our neighbor, George, as about three years older than my brother.

I had just come out of the house with a ready snack, a Chiquita® Banana, in my hand. I have no recollection of the background of the event I would come to witness, but that is beside the point. My brother and George were suddenly in an all out fisticuff. In no time, the nine-year-old George sat on my brother's chest, throwing his fists into my brother's face. I didn't understand much at three years old, but I did understand that my brother was not in a good position, and I was angered and afraid for him. One may say the situation elicited a primal call to action.

The only weapon I could think of was already in my hand. I screamed the primal scream, "Leave my brudder alone!" Without hesitation, I swung that deadly banana into George's skull. Much to my utter surprise, the fight stopped immediately. George fell off of my brother, fully involved along with my brother in hysterical laughter. Still laughing, they shook hands and became friends as quickly as they had become enemies.

If you should hear some veiled reference to my choice of weapons and a banana, you now know what it is all about.

Be Peace. Be Love.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Young love

The old man sat back in his chair and looked intently at the young man. “Marry my daughter, huh?”

“Yessir.” The young man's eyes moved to the floor.

“Why do you love her, son?”

A smile spread across the young man's face. “Why, she's lovely. She inspires me. She is bright, witty, and humorous. She challenges me. I just want to spend the rest of my life with her.”

The old man's face did not change. “Well, son, then I'm very concerned. What if tomorrow she has an accident and her brain is turned to mush. She becomes quadraplegic, and can only grunt like a pig when she needs a diaper change, or something to eat? Will you still love her?”

The young man could not believe what he had heard. He smiled in confusion and embarrassment; he could not answer.

“You see, son, what you see is temporary. There are no guarantees that she will always be that way. Maybe you need more time to think about this “marriage” thing. Even so, I'm not stopping you. I'm not sure I understood love when I was your age, either.”

“Well, sir, I wasn't sure I could tell you what I really think. It is very hard to explain. There is a connection... we are connected somehow beyond what we see, or touch, or feel. Your daughter is that connection. That connection won't go away, even if our bodies fail us. If she is alone in some kind of hell, I will be there to keep her company. Does that make sense?”

With a tear in his eye, the old man took the young man's hand into his hands and pressed as he spoke, “That's what I want for my daughter.”

No comments necessary.
Be Peace, Be Love.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


While walking the dogs tonight, a memory from thirty-five years ago reran in my mind. It was one of those scary situations that I have laughed about off and on. Not only that, but it demonstrates so clearly how pride has been ever present, and ever so faithful to lead me head long into folly.

My then wife and I had separated. I had arrived early on a Saturday morning to pick up my son for the weekend. As I parked my car I noticed a new Kawasaki dirt bike in the driveway. I believe it had a small 75CC engine.

I had always wanted a motorcycle. I was immediately lividly jealous that my wife, who refused to agree to let me buy a motorcycle while we were together, had taken up riding motorcycles with her boyfriend. “Is that your bike out there?” I asked.

“No, its John's. He's keeping it here so we can ride together,” she said without any hesitation. Of course, at that moment, a torrent of emotion hit me like a flash-flood of high turbid water in an small arroyo. At the top of the list of intense emotion was jealousy, a very close companion of pride.

“You can try it out if you want. John won't mind.” My ex-wife was not a mean spirited person. She meant it sincerely, knowing that I wanted a motorcycle of my own.

“Really? Cool.” She handed me the keys. I didn't hesitate.

I sat on the seat of the small bike, turned the key, kicked the crank. It started on the first kick. Unbelievable exhilaration flowed through me. I didn't even have to face the embarrassment of not being able to start it. I pulled the clutch, kicked the gear shift for first gear, rolled the throttle, and popped the clutch. The bike popped up on its rear wheel and rocketed down the driveway with me hanging on for dear life, sprawled horizontally with my belly on the seat, my legs somewhere behind me in the air, and my vision blocked by the bike's headlight.

In a split second I was into the street and heading for the opposite curb, completely out of control, totally panicked. Upon realizing that my hand was still pulling the throttle, I released it and jerked the hand brake. Yes, the handbrake stops the front wheel, and yes, bikes do flip when you apply the front brake incorrectly.

As I pulled myself up off of the grass, I looked back at our house, hoping the wife had not seen what must have been a very comedic display of utter stupidity. I picked the bike up and examined it. I was relieved to see it had not been damaged. I remounted, re-started, and this time, slowly released the clutch as I gently rolled the throttle. It was a good ride around the block and back to the house again.

“Well, what do you think?” the wife asked. If she had seen the clown show I put on, she did not let on. She was then, and still is, a very sensitive and caring person.

“It was fun. I'll have to get me one. Except maybe a 400CC bike or something. Then, as I learn, I'll work into a bigger bike.”

A couple of years ago, I read Wispers of the Spirit by Ann Albers. I was impressed with the wisdom I found in the book. I felt then that I had learned a great deal. I loaned it to my step-daughter, hoping that she could harvest some of the wisdom, as well. At the same time, I had developed a strange opinion of Ms. Albers. The entire book centered on her experience, the very parts of life that brought her to spiritual realizations and a complete change in her life. On one level I admired her courage. On another level, I was jealous that she could abandon a promising life style, for a more spiritually oriented life style and fewer materialistic guarantees. On yet another level, Ms. Albers seemed to be a self-centered giddy convert to a new religion, promoting her “testimony” of how she arrived at such great spiritual heights.

Last Wednesday, I had need to find a particular passage in Whispers of the Spirit that I wanted to share with a friend. As I skimmed the text for the passage, I began to notice something. “Man, this book is packed with wisdom!” I thought. I am reading the book again, and this time I see something entirely different. The words haven't changed. Obviously, I have. When I first read the book, I was in a prideful, “Let's see if she can teach me anything attitude.” I was a stupid old man trying to be cool on an out of control motorcycle. Today, I am a seeker. Pride does not let go easily, but it is losing its grip. I have a thirst to learn. Ann Albers has much to say, and I'm listening.

Be Peace. Be Love.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Another Faith Challenge

The last blog may have raised a question for some of you. So, in 1989, the tiger was an evangelist? He was part of a team under the direction of Dr. Tom Stebbins, the Evangelism Explosion Ambassador? And now, DeHomely does not claim to be a Christian, and what's more he claims to be a seeker.

My understanding and attitudes toward Christianity have been varied over the last 50 years. I have gone the gambit from negative, to positive, to negative to appreciative.

Christianity has influenced the majority of my life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the basic tenants of Christianity as taught by that humble and loving leader, Jesus of Nazareth. The Apostle Paul, if you read him as a Jew would read him, you would probably see that Jesus was a mystic, perhaps a prophet, and the Apostle Paul was solidly convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah (Christ). I am convinced that both Jesus and Paul are both mystics and both very solid Jewish mystics.

Listen, can you name many individuals that have been so influential in the everyday lives of people for 2000 years, as has this simple carpenter from Nazareth? His teachings have been twisted and abused more than any other notable teacher in history. It was not Jesus' fault that men have so corrupted his teachings and brought on so much tragedy and unhappiness in the world in his name. Yes, I can easily subscribe to the teachings of the gentle man of peace, and his staunch follower, Paul, every bit as much as I can appreciate the wisdom and kindness of that simple teacher from India, Mahatma Gandhi. I don't subscribe to all of the dogma and doctrine that has been imposed on those Jewish and Christian texts. I read them at face value, as any other piece of literature, accounting for custom and culture of the time. And yes, there is much wisdom to eschew.

I see Christianity as a temporary path for some of us.

Not for all of us.

It served a purpose in my life. And the abuses and corruptions in Christianity also lead me to seek a simpler truth, something less tainted by the agenda of ambitious and greedy men, or men that want God all neatly packaged and confined to a finite mental container that satisfies a very limited need.

Of course, some (atheists) would say that religion not only has messed up the history of man, but it also offers false hope for the afterlife. I think, so, if one dies with hope, and there is no afterlife, then there is no disappointment for the dead, is there?. On the other hand, if there is an afterlife, hope is an important part of dying. I have to laugh when I have been challenged by some militant atheists that are determined to rescue me from “false hope.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How soon I forget

Remember my July 5 blog?
How I talked about loving myself?

I have another story, a true story about one of many times that God has shown His love for me.

I think it was June of 1989. I and a team of evangelists were in JFK airport, New York, waiting to board a Nigeria Airways jet to Lagos, Nigeria. For many months prior, my team and I prepared for this trip, making sure that we had everything we needed for the trip. Including our passports and visas. By the time we had arrived at JFK, we were still not in receipt of our passports from the Nigerian Embassy. Our boarding time was to be at midnight. It was 4:30PM when Tom Stebbins called our agent and asked again about the status of the passports. “Go to the TWA terminal. They have them ready for you there,” they told Tom. Tom turned to Lyle Irvin, Bill Waters, and me, requesting that we take a journey over to the TWA terminal and get the passports.

The three of us caught the bus to the TWA terminal and arrived in a matter of minutes. The lady at the check-in counter was polite, but insisted that she had no package for Tom Stebbins, and had no record of such a package. In disbelief we returned to the Nigeria Airways terminal and reported the same to Tom.

Again, around 7:30 PM, Tom called the agent, and the agent again insisted that TWA had the passports. We took the trip once again, and returned empty handed, once again. We made the trip again at 9:30 PM and again at 11:30PM, as the plane was boarding, thirty minutes before the plane was to depart.

Again, the ticket agent told us she had nothing. We asked for a supervisor. He verified, they had nothing. As we turned to go back to Nigeria Airways, the ticket agent said, “Wait! I just thought of something. Maybe you are looking for TWA Express. They may have it.” We looked at each other. Lyle asked how to get there. The agent pointed us through a set of doors that took us to what appeared to be an alley with a dead-end. We looked at each other in disbelief. Why would the agent be so cruel as to send us out into a dead-end alley. We turned back toward the double doors to go back to the ticket agent. A voice came from behind, “You boys look lost.” It was a short gray-haired elderly lady dressed in a light brown tweed dress outfit. Her face was peaceful and her manner very friendly.

“We have to get to TWA Express. They may have a package for us.”

“Follow me. It is hard to find from here,” she said. She took us beyond what appeared to be the dead-end and then pointed further down the alley. “Keep walking that way until you come to another alley. Turn left and TWA Express is at the end of that alley.”

We turned to see where she was pointing, then turned to thank her. She was gone, nowhere to be seen and we had a clear view of the passageway for at least a half of a city block. We looked at each other in astonishment, then ran the remaining way to TWA Express. It was 11:56 PM. The plane was scheduled to depart in four minutes.

A young lady greeted us at the counter. “May I help you?”

“We are looking for a package from Washington D.C. to Tom Stebbins.”

The lady typed something into the computer. “No, we don't have anything under that name. Is there any other name?”

The disbelief in our eyes must have clued the woman into thinking that we had full expectation that the package was there. “One moment,” she said. She went to a large bin behind her, lifted the lid, and maneuvered around to get a better view of the contents. “Aha!” she exclaimed. She lifted herself down into the bin and disappeared momentarily, then resurfaced with a package in her hands. “Tom Stebbins,” she said as she climbed out of the bin. “We missed it.” She handed the package to Lyle. We turned, thanking the lady and ran back to the TWA terminal and out to catch the bus back to Nigeria Airways.

We arrived back to the departure gate, greeted by Tom Stebbins and the rest of the team. “We have it.”

“Great timing!” Tom said, “They just ordered our baggage off the plane.” He left immediately to find the gate manager. The gate manager delayed the flight and boarded us.

Later, as we discussed the event, we all agreed that the lady in the tweed suit was nothing short of an angel. We were absolutely sure that we were supposed to be on our way to Africa considering the miracle we had just experienced.

As I was walking the dogs today, that incident came to mind. I laughed, “Well, that miracle happened for the rest of the team, not for me. I was just a coincidental beneficiary of a gift that was meant for the rest of the team.”

Do you see the problem? Do you see how I so easily dismissed God's love for me?

I continued to think about how I had just now denied God's love for me. You see, God is not the problem in all of this. I am! And that is exactly what I need to work on—this notion that I have that I am not worthy of God's love.

Well, the fact is, I'm not worthy, but God's love is true love. He loves me because He is Love. He accepts me unconditionally. And I ask myself once again, “If God loves me, who am I to question God's judgment?" I need to love myself—without conditions.

Be Peace. Be Love.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Liability of Ethics in Privacy

In these modern times, we have been introduced more and more to a concept of “right to privacy.” The concept has become very institutionalized in our laws and in business practices. Financial institutions are required by law to publicize their privacy policies. Websites that do e-commerce, especially with credit cards, are required to publicly state their privacy policy. Any organization that collects personal information is required to publish a privacy statement explaining how the information they collect is used. The goal of the privacy laws and policies is obviously to protect individuals from being exploited, or to prevent discrimination against individuals.

Privacy laws and ethics enters into all aspects of our lives. Employers are particularly sensitive to privacy issues, partly because some employers have suffered very expensive lawsuits when they have been lax in protecting the privacy of ex-employees.

Now, here's the thing. Privacy can be a two-edged sword. While it is designed to protect some individuals, the enforcement of privacy can become a true liability to the party that is committed to protect the privacy of another.

Before I continue with an example, I want you to know that what follows is a fictional creation and I personally do not know any sales people with the name of Barry. The situation is a fictionalized representation of a scenario that can happen in any organization.

Let's say a hypothetical company had a salesman, named Barry, that worked very hard, and developed a network of contacts with many organizations. This was all a plus for this sales organization. But Barry had a dark side. Barry often used information he gained in his networking activity selectively to make himself appear to be more important than he was. Not that he had out right lied, but he ordered partial truths in such a way that it led the clients and associates to erroneous conclusions. In this manner, he had, on several occasions, misrepresented himself to other organizations using facts that were only partially true. Other sales staff started complaining that Barry had interrupted conversations with clients and made statements that contradicted what the client had just been told, adding confusion to the conversation, undermining the client confidence in the sales person, and finally handicapping the ability of the salesman to close the sale. Other good sales staff began to leave the company to get away from this interfering salesman. Some just refused to attempt to help a customer if Barry was in the area.

Complaints started coming in from the customers, as well. Some customers were confused about Barry's position and authority in the company. Some customers learned that Barry was manipulating them with partial truths and stopped doing business with the company altogether. On one occasion, the sales manager directed Barry to work with a client and told him specifically how to handle the client. Barry disobeyed the sales manager and not only lost the sale, but caused the customer go away with hard feelings.

The sales manager talked to Barry many times to no avail, hearing excuses like, “they misunderstood me”, and “I only want the best for the company.” Finally, the sales manager had to fire Barry. There was no one incident that in itself (other than the incident where insubordination was involved) actually warranted Barry's dismissal. But, the cumulative affect of the incidents became a burden to the company. The liability had come to outweigh any good Barry was capable of doing.

Now, Barry goes about spreading rumors about his ex-employer and ex-associates. He says he was fired because he “knew too much,” and tells other stories with half truths cleverly designed to bring suspicion on the company. He tells others that many employees are leaving the company, casting doubt in the way of old clients and potential clients. Meanwhile, the employer can only say, “Barry was released from the position for cause. Because of our commitment to privacy we won't discuss the details of the dismissal.” Some employers today don't even say that much. They will say something like, “Barry worked here, and now he doesn't.” No matter what, the company continues to shoulder the burden of Barry's rants, while steadfastly keeping and honoring the principles of Barry's right to privacy.

In an effort to show itself as being a company of integrity and principle, it has to shoulder the liability of Barry's continued deceptive rants. However, in the eye of the public there is a huge question concerning the integrity of a company that would fire an individual with such talent for which Barry is recognized.

At the same time, the general public can't see through Barry's veiled agenda to destroy his ex-employer. They cannot see that Barry has little regard for his own integrity, much less that of the company that once employed him. In fact, Barry's ultimate goal is to destroy his ex-employer.

Does this seem fair?

It isn't fair.

Life is not fair.

When you hear voices assaulting an ex-employer, or an ex-friend, for that matter, know that there are two sides to any story, and the one that “doth protest too much” may be the one that is not bound by ethics and may also be the one that lacks integrity. In any case, before one takes any action or position based on what is said by any departed associate, it is wise to investigate the situation thoroughly, and also know that the ex-employer may be suffering the liability of protecting the privacy of the very person that attacks it.

Be Peace.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Reality Revisited

In my last post, I talked about learning to love myself.

I don't make sense, do I?

Not even to myself!

Look at my posts. How many times have I told you that God has demonstrated His love to me over and over again.

I honestly and absolutely believe it!

Then logically, how can I dare to say that God is wrong about His love for me.

Well, isn't that strange? If God is the All-knowing, then He can't be wrong, and I don't believe I am lovable, then I must be wrong about God's love for me. Right?

No! That is totally illogical if we understand that God is love. If God is love, then He accepts me as I am, unconditionally. He loves me.

So, logically, I must love myself, or be against God.

It doesn't work that way, does it?

We humans are capable of such great inconsistency. We are totally comfortable with saying what is logical, but accepting that which is not. We do, to a large degree, create our own reality.

This is where we run into trouble.

Is it safe to say, as say the Buddhists and Kaballists, that the only reality is God and spirit? All else is an illusion. When we bring our illusion into agreement with reality, this is when we can live without contradiction and be totally comfortable with what and who we are.

That, dear friend, is so hard to do after 63 years of believing the illusion.

It is said that we shall live any number of lives necessary to bring us to that point when our perception of reality is in agreement with Divine reality. Then we no longer have to re-incarnate. Our learning is over. We have arrived.

A few years ago, I read two very important books by Ms. Ann Albers. Ms. Albers had her B.S. in electrical engineering and went to work for a company subcontracted under Honeywell to develop the software for the cockpit of the Boeing 777 aircraft. She was almost immediately made a supervisor and put in charge of the group responsible for getting the software completed, tested and integrated with all the systems of the entire aircraft.

Even though Ms. Albers was not a religious person, she seemed none-the-less open to spiritual leading. Through the years on that project the Spirit began to work with her.

By the time the project was completed, and new and more lucrative and prestigious positions were offered to her, she left them all to follow the call of her Spirit.
She too, had to learn to love herself. She had to work past all of those internal voices that tell us we can't love ourselves. Her story and her books are inspirational to me.

A conversation with a friend last night brought me back to her books. As I scanned the pages for some very specific information, I realized how much more her experience is relevant to my current situation. I am going to read them again to revisit the wisdom that escaped me on the first reading.

Here is some of that wisdom from Whispers of the Spirit:

I knew more clearly than ever before that my work at Honeywell was nearing completion. My work with Ariel was changing too, as I started to really understand what she had been saying about being a “higher” part of the “One.” I saw her now as an angelic being who, unlike me, had never forgotten the power of living with in the sacred circle of life. In one sense, I felt a loss as I realized her wisdom was in some way not new, but something that had always buried deep within me. The feeling of loss was soon replaced by a sense of homecoming as I realized I had regained conscious access to the wisdom of my soul. I had discovered, at long last, the whispers from within. Ann Albers, Whispers of the Spirit P174

I think two things, now. I have had that type of epiphany many times in life, and have been so grateful for them. Secondly, this passage makes so much more sense to me now than it did a year or two ago because I had not learned what I needed to know that would allow complete understanding of the passage. I'm sure that I will learn much more from the second reading of this book, and her book, Love Is the River.

What about the book by the Dalai Lama I have been reading? Well, how “coincidental” that I should be reading how to expand love around me, as I am also learning how I must learn to love myself, as well. Again, God affirms His love for me in the way He has brought me to this point. I am humbled, but at the same time, feel so privileged to be in the immediate care and guidance of the most high God.

By the way, I heard a man on the radio the other night say, “Coincidence is God working anonymously.”

How true.

Oh, how true.

Be Peace. Be Love.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The No Diet Diet Update

On my June 8, 2009 blog I talked about taking on a new weight loss effort following the prescription of Jon Gabriel in his book, The Gabriel Method: The Revolutionary DIET-FREE Way to Totally Transform Your Body

It is reality check time, now. How am I doing? Well, try this on for size. (No pun intended.) I have gained nine pounds, the largest single one-month weight gain I have experienced in over three years! In fact, it is the ONLY weight gain I have experienced in over three years.

So, what is going on?

Did Jon Gabriel fail me?

Is the Gabriel Method another cruel hoax?

A resounding “No!” to both questions. Eating disorders are nasty disorders, much like battling an addiction to heroine or alcohol. They are complex and they are deeply rooted.

“Hi, I'm DeHomely. I have a food addiction.”

And the crowd responds in a dry, but familiar sing-song Friends of Bill chant: “Hi, DeHomely.”

One thing I know about my psyche: you can't give me an out. You dare not give me any wiggle room in the rules of engagement. If you do, I will push the envelope to my own destruction – just like any other addicted person.

If Jon says, “Diet free,” I take that to the extreme. I no longer have to watch what I eat, in my own mind, and guess what. I ate with total abandon.

OK. Now that I know that Jon requires a rational approach to eating, then, I guess I better examine myself again to see if I can accept responsibility for my own lack of reason.

Am I discouraged? No. But I am sick about it. And I am determined to try once again, this time using something that resembles “reason.”

Are you laughing yet? If not, you should be.

If I do have a complaint about Jon Gabriel's book is that it is for a very specific audience. Jon clearly warns the reader in a very brief statement that eating disorders can have some very deep psychological and chemical roots , and that those issues need to be addressed with professional guides. Beyond, perhaps, a simple paragraph, that is all he says about that. Jon's assumption is that you are an average person that has a healthy body, and a healthy love for yourself.

Let's go back, then. Didn't I confess that I have a food addiction?

I did.

And I do.

I am retired, on a limited income, and I don't have insurance. I can't pay for professional guidance. What can I do?

I personally believe, after nearly 63 years of self-examination, that I have a solid absence of love for self. This is not saying I am not selfish. Believe me, most people that lack love for self, will be selfish inversely proportional to the degree to which they lack love for self. Selfishness, and self-love are on two opposite ends of the continuum. A person that has the proper amount of love for self, will also have other things in balance. A person that loves himself or herself will most likely not be arrogant. Those that have the healthy amount of love for self, will also have a very healthy love for others. Such a person will most likely be well liked, as well—kind of like Jon Gabriel.

For me, I must continue on with my exercises in learning to love. Part of those exercises include learning to love myself. The bottom line is this: I am face to face with the demon behind all addictions—-self-hatred. I need a complete overhaul of my mind. I must learn to love myself.

Not only does this involve a renewing of the mind, but first, a re-knowing of the mind. Had I examined myself honestly in the beginning, and admitted that I am dealing with self-hatred and addiction, my approach may have been more realistic in the first place. But I didn't. I was too blinded by the hope that maybe I had found the holy grail. This is common amongst those of us who battle with self-hatred. Somehow it is as if we want to continue to hate ourselves at all costs. Damned crazy, if you ask me. But, what do I know?

OK, one more thing must be clear to you by now. It is the vicious cycle found in all addictions: the more you succumb to the temptations of your addictions, the more you hate yourself. The more you hate yourself, the more you will succumb to your addictions. The cycle must be broken, and believe me, if you try to attack the addictions, you will lose the battle, and eventually the war.

You must assert an attitude of forgiveness toward yourself and find away to love yourself, and others. Then and only then, will the power of self-hatred and its partnered addictions be finally overcome. That is my goal, and believe me, it is far easier said than done.

Do you suppose there is anything to the fact that I am talking about shedding the tyranny of my self-hatred on July 4 (Independence Day)?

Be Peace. Be Love

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

There but for the grace of God go I

Last Sunday, I took my grandson to the swimming pool at the Jewish Community Center. This exercise is most likely going to continue because the grandson's mother continues to deteriorate in health and she has less energy each day. The grandson is autistic. All of the off-shoot manifestations of autism will drain a caretaker very rapidly. That's two different stories apart from this one, however.

At the pool, the grandson is reasonably safe. He loves the water, and he swims with the best. He keeps focused on the diving boards, and his risk for injury is amazingly low, considering how well behaved he is, and disciplined he is in that environment. That is a credit to his mother, who generally does not let his syndrome of autism related disorders become a handicap.

Since he is relatively safe in that environment, I allowed myself to read a book and try some exercises in expanding my ability to love. I watched people. As I focused on a person, I'd make note of my first reaction to that person. Then I would examine that thought or thoughts. Why did I feel that way? I quickly realized two things: I am a very judgmental person. I have many more prejudices based on physical appearances than I ever imagined. It could have been a very discouraging exercise, EXCEPT I went on to correct my thinking anytime I reacted negatively to a person for whatever reason. Here is the process I thought through:

Whatever I think of this person, remember that he/she has been formed by the many events in life and his personality traits. His life experience has brought him as many blessings and pains as life has brought me. Whatever he is, I would be no different if I were in his shoes.
It is true, whatever I hate in this person, I hate in myself. I see that same quality in myself, that I hate in him. Where is it that I can sit in judgment?

This person wants what I want. He wants a comfortable life. He wants to be loved. He wants to love some one. He wants good health. He wants to secure the future for his family. He wants to feel secure now. We have all misunderstood how to achieve those things, and we have all made errors that hurt others.

Life changes continuously. Nothing remains stagnant. Even if you are my enemy now, perhaps in the past or in the future, you were my friend, or you will be my friend.

I send blessing to you. I give you peace. And what ever it is that has made me judge you, I bind, I bless, I and I send it into the Divine Light so that it my return as blessing to you.

Oh, maybe you are impressed that I have thought of this exercise. Well, relax. I learned this from the book I am reading, How to Expand Love: Widening the Circle of Loving Relationships by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This book is packed with useful meditations that will help you to restructure your thinking to expand your ability to love others.

Remember my definition of love: total unconditional acceptance.
That is the love of God.

I came to another very important conclusion;
the same conclusion I have come to many times before.
You have to love yourself first. Since you hate in others what you hate in yourself, you have to love yourself before you can love others.

That doesn't mean you can live without conscience.
It does mean that you have to accept your failures,
your weaknesses,
do what you can to correct them,
and move on without looking back.
The key to not looking back is to LEARN,
and then move on.
Let your failures and weaknesses serve to evoke compassion for those that suffer the same failures and weaknesses.
You know the struggle,
you know the pain,
and you have the basis for compassion, a building-block for loving others.

Be Peace. Be Love

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Different Paths, Different Journeys

I have always wanted to travel out of the body. Some people call it astral projection. That is, my spirit wants to leave the body and explore. It's not so much for the sake of travel, but I want to learn more about who I am.

Common to many of the out of body travelers is that it starts with a strange and very frightening loud vibration and a sinking feeling where you actually feel like you are dying. I have experienced that state many, many times, and I always try to brave it out and see it to the end. It's like playing chicken and I turned off at the last minute. I've never made it into the astral plane, at least, not that I am aware.

Tonight I have been listening to an interview with one of those astral travelers, Marilyn Hughes. Her perspective is unique in a number of ways that many other travelers do not share. One of them is that she feels that if one is a traveler, he/she does become exposed to situations that can result in spiritual injury. The biggest danger, she feels, that if you are not protected , you may pick up spiritual hitchhikers, or “demonic attachments” that will cause you grief. Other well known astral travelers (Robert Monroe, William Buhlman) mention the lower realms, and that the spirits in these realms may try to attack, but that you always have control and that you have no reason to fear their attacks.

Well, I have been trying to do OBE's for at least five years, unsuccessfully. Now that I know the entry signs for OBE's I have not had them, EXCEPT, lately, on two occasions, I have felt the vibrations coming on, and my dog, Maisie (Tibetan Terrier), immediately jumped on top of me as if she did not want me to get up. Of course, her body on top of me immediately interrupts the process. That leads me to believe that my spirit guides do not want me to travel in the astral planes for some reason.

Marilyn Hughes talked about that and has given me an answer that my intuition seems to have been hinting at. She says that we are allowed to take paths as planned by God. She says that in one of her travels, she went into pure white light where she learned that all of the “good works” she had performed in her life were selfishly motivated. You know what? I learned that about myself in a series of meditations. It is very humbling, and I am thankful that that information has been revealed to me. Perhaps, my psyche is such that if I were able to astral project, I would suffer a higher degree of pride, rather than humility. Perhaps, that pride is such that it would open me to the attacks from the spirits of the lower realms. I don't know the reasons for the restrictions on my astral travels, but my intuition tells me that I am on the right path as designed for me. I am thankful for that. Not only am I thankful, but I have a new found respect for the spiritual level of those that are privileged to travel the astral planes. It is my hope that someday, I will have the spiritual maturity to do the same.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Death: The Servant Of The Most High God

Have you ever had a strange, but very profound dream? One that actually has had an impact on your life outlook? Actually, one should consider all dreams in that manner. According to Rodger Kamenetz, every dream you have is your subconscious trying to alert you, or reveal something to you that you need to know and take to heart. Take a look at his book, The History of Last Night's Dream. Mr. Kamenetz has a very easy going, easy to understand writing style that will keep you glued to the book.

OK, here's a dream for you to ponder. I had it when I was about 17 years old, shortly after I had converted to Roman Catholicism.

The scene was a picnic event in a park near a swollen river. My sister wandered too close to the river and fell in, quickly disappearing as the rapidly moving water pulled her under and away. My mother quickly responded by wading into the river until the current grabbed her. The last I saw of her was her head still above the water, disappeared under tree branches hanging into the water near a bend in the river. I jumped in and for some reason was able to keep my head above water, but my body was completely at the mercy of the currents.

Suddenly, I felt a slimy, cold hand grab my ankle, then my leg, and then, suddenly, cold slimy hands on each shoulder, and staring me in the face was a woman in a deep purple, hooded wet robe with slimy algae dangling from her shoulders and tangled in her long coal black hair. Her eyes were cold deep purple; her face, pail white with skin peeling off from the rot of death. Her continence cold as steel.

At first I was horrified, but suddenly realized there is nothing I face that does not have the hand and the approval of God in it. I spoke with a new found boldness. “Lady Death, you are but a servant of the Most High God. I do not fear you. If the Lord has sent you to take me to Him, then let's go.”

A smile grew on the lady's continence and suddenly the oozing dead flesh on her hands and face turned to healthy pink flesh, her eyes sparkled with loving delight, her face shined; the slimy moss on her robe disappeared and she arose fully out of the water, with the robe dry and flowing in the wind. She gently and lovingly pulled me out of the water and spoke softly, “Come, then. The Lord calls.”

The dream ended there.

Since that dream, I am fully convinced that Death is nothing to fear.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Strawberry Fields

Today, someone mentioned to me something about a “normal fantasy.” My immediate thought was, “Fantasy—unreality; how can something unreal be “normal?” Then I think back to several weeks ago,when I sat in a class on gnosticism. The teacher told us that we were not really in the classroom. We were in an illusion. I felt like standing up and saying, “Excuse me, if I'm not here, then I have to go find myself. Heck, for all I know, I might be missing out on some fun I'm having somewhere.”

The Buddhists and Kaballists say that we are living in an illusion, as well. An Illusion. Not a fantasy. There is a difference. Well, maybe. Maybe the difference is that we seem to experience an illusion, where a fantasy is something we conjure in our minds but do not experience in our physical manifestation, which is an illusion. So we fantasize while we are are in an illusion, to escape the illusion for whatever reason. Am I making sense? Probably not!

Have you ever listened to the refrain in the Beatles' song, “Strawberry Fields?”

“Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to strawberry fields.
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry fields forever.”

Did you catch that? “Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.” See? Doesn't that just prove it to you? Life is an illusion. Nothing to get upset about. Just let it happen, will you!

“How can this be?” you ask. Well, try this on for size. There are people that are called “astro-travelers.” Many of them claim that they travel in many universes many times through astral-projection. In their travels they find other “realities” where the spirits have agreed to certain conventions and rules by which all live and interpret their environment. Since all have agreed to those “Terms of Service” there is no question of what is “real.” In other words, if all agree that all residents look like lizards, then when they look upon one another, they see lizards.

By extension, in this dimension we call “life,” we have all agreed to a complex“Terms of Service” wherein this Earth we live upon is what we agreed it is. We have seven continents, and we have agreed they are located on an elliptical sphere, the third rock revolving around a solar furnace we call the Sun; and there are many islands, ice caps, etc.; our atmosphere is such and such and degrades as we pollute it. We are just pretty damned smart, don't you think? I don't remember reading the TOS, though, and somehow, it all seems so real, and almost everyone I have met seems to agree on what I have seen.

Is that possible? I'm just a tiger. Don't ask me. I can only tell you what I think I have experienced, and most people are able to relate to my experience because they have experienced “life” in much the same way. I have no REAL idea how I/we came to be. I have suspicions, but nothing more, and nothing about which I am willing to debate.

Like most Buddhists, I do accept that the dimension in which I think I live is temporary—it will pass away into oblivion. I do accept that we as spirits are here to learn and to grow to maturity so that we won't have come here time and time again as we do now. What we experience will end. We have to keep that in mind, otherwise, we may despair in our many failures and give up on growing to maturity. And we have to understand karma, and know that what goes around, comes around. We will reap what we sow, but eventually, we will “arrive” and fail no more. In this life, it doesn't matter what conditions we endure, they are all very real and those around us endure them as well. What matters in the end is that we learned to help one another; to love one another.

Have you ever heard of Raymond Kurzweil? Ray Kurzweil is an inventor—much, much more actually. To his credit are many inventions to include music and voice synthesizers, optical readers, and voice to print converters and print to voice converters. He is a futurist and has promoted many ideas in theoretical physics. Read the wiki on him to get a flavor of the man.

Now, consider all I have said and ask yourself, what would our illusion be like if Ray Kurzweil were not a “dreamer”, a “visionary”, a “fantasizer” living with us in this illusion of ours.

I'm just a tiger. Go figure!

Hey! If you are in for a great mind bender, read The Spiritual Universe by Fred Alan Wolfe. I'm working through it now. I'll probably have something to say as I untangle the convolutions swirling in my cranial cavity.