Your God Is You

God  is not Christian or Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist. God is a combination of all the natural laws in the universe that we witness, as well as the LOVE we feel. It is the energy that is within us without knowing where it comes from.

It is not we who decide who our god is. God is the destination of the path we end up following.  In the end you will find that whatever faith you decide to pursue, that the Creator simply is. The creator simply set everything in motion, all those billions of years ago – whether through a Big Bang, or simply the drop of a leaf.

From there, it has always been up to us to define the world we live in, to try to improve upon it, with good intention and with the Love that is within each of us.

If you doubt this, simply look around. Everything, every creature on land and in the air has the same bone structure as that first creature that crawled out of the sea. We all share the same spine, the same rib cage, one bone in our upper extremity and two bones in our forearm or calves, a small clutch of bones in our hands and feet that expand out into fingers or wings or toes. The fact is we share DNA with practically all life on earth at one level or another. We simply missed the Love we were supposed to share along the way. In the end, we are not so special. We are:

  • 98% genetically similar to a chimpanzee
  • 92% genetically similar to a mouse
  • 44% genetically similar to a fruit fly
  • 26% genetically similar to yeast
  • 18% genetically similar to a common weed

So all those small ideologies that we created out of our own ego to differentiate people based on race, age, sexual preference of being gay, straight, bisexual or transgendered; it is not god who decreed we are different. It is us. If anything it is his or her way to test your capacity to just LOVE one another – just as Jesus or Muhammad, or Buddha or Abraham would have wanted you to.

So the next time you feel your anger rise because someone does not fit your ideal, look within. If  you feel some comment start to bubble up from your gut about the way someone looks or acts, stop yourself before you say or do something irreversibly foolish in the eyes of whatever creator you wish to believe in. Remind yourself, that this is just a test that your god has given you. A test that is going to look really foolish in whatever book of deeds your spiritual leader refers to, or that you think will be referred to your judgment day.

Solving The Immigration Crises Mindfully

The world has become a far different place than it was ten years ago. With climate change effecting more and more third world countries, the mass immigrations we are starting to see will be the norm and not the exception in the coming years. This is simply a fact we need to stop averting our eyes from, to accept, and to realize it is up to us to do something about it. It is time for the nations of more advanced economies to realize this.

Instead of sitting back with talk of spending increasing monies building fences and closing off our borders, we need to be start being proactive and start developing real solutions. It is easy to send warplanes, drones and troops to places like Syria and the Sudan, it is more difficult when the results of those actions end up on our doorsteps; and they will.

Immigration EuropeOnce the waves of immigrants make it to what they feel is the promised land of Britain, they will realize that nation does not have the resources nor the space to keep them. That is the point they will start to look West and to the doorstep of America. It is only a matter of time.

So why wait? Why not take action now? Why put our collective heads in the sand and pretend it is not our problem, when the solution is easily within our grasp, right in front of us? Why not take a collective gasp and admit that the immigration problem is a global problem? Why not help the immigrants, instead of bemoaning the boatloads of seekers as they drown in the oceans and soon on our streets?

To do this, we must first admit that we are all a part of the global community. We must also admit that no economy can survive the influx of millions of undereducated, impoverished, and often abused people. To accept them as they are would only take down whatever country they end up in. And therein lies the solution.

What we can do is start to set up integration camps in key areas of the world. Along the borders of Northern Africa, Central America, and South Eastern Asia, the UN can step in with the goal of preparing the refugees to enter the Western economies they so want to be a part of.

Who will pay for this? Well, it will fall on the first- and second-world economies of Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Russia and even China. I can already hear the collective moan of “Why is it always us,” but we need to suck it up and realize it is a far less expensive offering than the monies currently being spent on border fences, dogs and patrols.

With the promise of a 12 month stay to study Western laws, to learn computer programming, and to learn a new language such as English, French, or German, we can prepare the growing waves of immigrants for integration into their potential host countries, rather than trying to hide them in the growing refugee camps like the infamous Jungle of Calais.

Still think it is not worth it? Just wait until one of these immigrants brings a virus like the Bird Flu or even Ebola into one of those camps, and you will see an instant outbreak that will make the Zombie Apocalypse seem like a field day.

Think what a change this would have on people with nothing. The promise of a better life is far better than the promise of martyrdom with a bomb strapped around their chest. The promise of a visa upon the completion of a course in remedial citizenship and applicable skills would not only open the door for them, but might even make them realize that we are not the enemy, and that our economies are do not hold the promise they are seeking.

Yes, it will mean a lot of countries will have to coordinate. Yes, it will mean a lot of countries will have to budget the cost of upkeep for these camps to their/our national budgets. But with all the money we are spending to handle these situations with our militaries, I cannot see either of these being a real problem. Beides, whether we like it or not, it is our problem; and we can either handle it today while it is relatively inexpensive, or we can try to handle it tomorrow at a much, much larger cost.

After all, it is a new world out there. We need new solutions to solve the problems we are facing with it.

What are your thoughts? I would be curious to hear them.

Tools To Take Action By

MY VIEW:

At times it really can all get to be too much some times. Over here we have a young African American by the name of Kalief Browder who committed suicide after behind held for three years on Rikers Island without behind convicted of a crime.

And over there, the one video that actually made me sick was of a Texas police officer throwing teens onto the ground and holding a young teen in a bikini down with her face down in the dirt. What was she, all of 100 pounds to his 200+?

The last time I was physically nauseous from watching a video was when I sat in awe watching the sheriff of Birmingham Alabama, Bull Connors, as he set police dogs and fire hoses on men, women and children who were simply marching in a peaceful march for equal rights.

That was more than 50 years ago. It was a time when my parent’s friends piled into buses and rode trains into the South to get rocks and worse hurled at them as they protested. My God Mother actually bears the scar from such a rock to this day, and she still laughed “All I could think of was ‘Thank God they don’t know I’m Jewish…”

Part of me is so sickened by how we are so quickly slipping back to where we were 50 years ago, that I have begun to doubt that we actually made any progress at all. At times I want to turn the Internet off and return to a state of naively blissful ignorance.

But we all know that is not the right course of action.

No, unfortunately that would only perpetuate the injustices that America is getting to be known for. Injustices that are toppling us from being a beacon of hope and opportunity around the world, to reflecting the lowest common denominator that is not ashamed to get their 15 minutes of fame however they are able.

From the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy, we have fallen. We are no longer leading the space race. We are no longer curing the causes of cancer. Instead we are running after the false Gods of money, creating cures for illnesses we created as we turn our back on the societal illnesses that are all around us.

When a well known Buddhist tells a story of accidently dropping a fifty dollar bill into the hands of a homeless person, and then taking it back to give the man a one dollar bill instead, I know the illness of our society is reaching a new low, or perhaps we have already reached it.

 

YOUR CHALLENGE:

So here is a challenge for everyone out there. It has nothing to do with meditating for 21 days or giving up petroleum products. It is not about selling your car and buying a bike. There are no 10 day retreats to run off to. It is simply this.

DO SOMETHING.  DO ANYTHING.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND MAKE IT COUNT.

STAND UP AND BE COUNTED IN SOME WAY.

No matter what your issue is, I have included a list of people to contact. At this point all you have to do is pick and click. The difference you make could be the life of a teen at a pool party, or in time, could be your own.

  • POLICE VIOLENCE: Write a letter to the governor of Texas to complain about the treatment of teens at a pool party. Acknowledge that yes, some may have jumped over the turnstile at a city pool, but that is no reason for a white PEACE officer of THE LAW to do what he did!
  • INSTITUTIONAL INJUSTICE: Write a letter to the Mayor of New York and refuse to spend your vacation money in the five boroughs if he does not do something about Riker’s Island, NOW!
  • PRESIDENTIAL RACE: Send an email to the Presidential Candidates and let them know you will not vote for them unless they speak out on X, Y, or Z issue!
  • BE NICE: Hold the door for someone for no reason at all.
  • SMILE: Smile and say please and thank you today and every day.
  • LGBT: Call the editor of your local newspaper and tell them you want to see more coverage of the LGBT issue, and no, showing how sexy Bruce Jenner has become is not it!
  • GUNS & NRA: Send an email to all of the above that says if it is fair to ID a person to the USA from voter fraud, then it is good enough to protect us from guns.
  • POLICE KILLINGS: Let your mayor know that if the police can kill 464 people in just the first five months of 2015, then they are no longer public SERVANTS, and yes they can start wearing body cameras.

No, I am not so naive to think that any of these things will really do anything. But maybe, just maybe, if we all start making small changes in the way we watch over each other, and watch over our own actions, we can bring back a little bit of the energy that started the Great Experiment that was the United States before it fails miserably in a ball of fire and smoke and ash.

 

YOUR TOOLS

If your excuse for not taking action is that you are not sure who to contact, please see the links below.

Members of the 114th Congress [phone, email, postal addresses – House & Senate] http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

Governors’ Office Addresses [By State]

http://www.nga.org/cms/home/governors/staff-directories–contact-infor/col2-content/governors-office-addresses-and-w.html

Presidential Candidates [By Name]

http://www.politics1.com/p2016.htm

 

 

Monday Moments: To Err is Human

The other day, I heard a father tell his son, “Do what I say, not what I do.”

His son asked him why, and he said, “Sometimes daddy makes mistakes. I do things the wrong way, and I don’t want you to learn my bad habits.”

At first I was taken aback. I could feel a touch of anger rise within me as I thought to myself, “what a minute, as a father he’s not allowed to do the wrong thing. He should always set an example for this children.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he just had.

He admitted his own frailties. He admitted that none of us can be perfect all the time, but we can be honest about who and what we are. We can lead our children by example; so they don’t worry about being perfect all the time.

If we can just pass that lesson on to them half the job of parenting would be done. If we can just help them be more aware of who they are, and who they are not, we can help them build the character they need to make the right decisions in their lives. And isn’t that what parenting is about? Not necessarily being there all the time, but giving them the tools they need to do the right thing.

We all know that life is not a hallmark card of picture perfect holidays and Facebook ready moments. Life is all those sloppy, misbegotten events that lead to scraped knees and bruised egos. The kind that teach us to reach out for help when we need it most and to trust in the people we have around us. Life is about becoming better people, and we rarely learn those lessons if everything keeps going our way.

So the next time you start beating yourself up for not being perfect. The next time that voice in your head admonishes you for something you did or did not do, stop, breathe, and take a moment to realize that perfection is not why you are here. It is the lessons you pass on to your children that will help them the most.

We learn through our imperfections. Lessons like forgiveness, compassion, and the value of family and friends, come from those who help us in times of need. So don’t be afraid to show them your human side.

After all, as I remind myself from time to time, to err is human. To forgive, divine.

Both others, as well as yourself…

Be well,

Jeff Cannon
Simple Truth Project

 

 

 

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A Meditation on Self Thought – Buddha’s Kalama Sutta

Do not believe in anything just because:

  • It is accepted by many,
  • It is written in books,
  • It is spoken by teachers and elders,
  • It is handed down in tradition.

But if, after analysis, it is found to accord with reason, and to result in the common good, then accept it, and live up to it.

(Kalama Sutta)

 

Most of you know the Kalama Sutta, even if you may not know the name. It is a formal meditation on self thought as set by The Buddha.

To many it is seen as a carte blanche to do whatever it is they want to do; for following one’s own sense of right or wrong, or as a justification for going against a proscribed path of action. In reality it actually sets our a far more rigorous path to follow. One of study, of reflection, of contemplation and of true understanding. The Kalama Suttra is associated with the Buddha and states that we should, no must, disavow outside opinions, even our own opinions, at times:

  • Traditions are not to be followed simply because they are traditions.
  • Reports, or historical accounts or news, are not to be followed simply because the source seems reliable.
  • Even one’s own preferences are not to be followed simply because they seem logical or resonate with one’s feelings.

Instead, the Kama Sutta tells the reader to actively pursue knowledge on their own. That any view or belief must be tested by the results it yields when put into practice; and — to guard against the possibility of any bias or limitations in one’s understanding of those results — they must further be checked against the experience of people who are wise.

The ability to question and test one’s beliefs in an appropriate way is called appropriate attention. The ability to recognize and choose wise people as mentors is called having admirable friends.

In today’s era of misinformation, both online and in the mainstream media, I think it is more important now than ever before to be reminded that it is not just today’s media that misleads. It has always been thus. And it is up to each of us to make an informed decision based on the facts at hand.

 

 

Credit for the original concept of this must be given to the translator:

Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas

translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

© 1994

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.065.than.html

Monday Moments: Windows + Doors

Every window and every door is a reminder.  Or at least it should be throughout your day.

It should remind you that whatever happened on the other side of that door is over. It is gone. It is now in the past, and that there is nothing you can do to get it back. It should be a reminder to Let It Go, and to Let It Be.

It should also be a reminder that even though it is in the past, that does not mean you are powerless to do something about it.

Yes, the moment you pass through a door is the moment you move forward  toward the next opportunity in front of you. It is also an opportunity for you to look back, and to ask yourself, “is whatever it is that happened just now worth revisiting, worth carrying with me as new baggage, or should I just Let It Go?”

If someone shot down your new idea in a meeting, is it really worth going after them? Or should you just Let It Go and get on with your day? If someone cut you off on your commute, is that space you have opened up for them, really worth it? If not, and I doubt it ever is, then Let It Go and do not dwell on it.

If, however, that event keeps happening, that person keeps berating you, or the affections you have for someone continue to be unreturned, then you have to ask yourself, is it worth pursuing knowing that they will not change. Or, should you yourself be the one to change and just Let It Be.

Let them go about their lives without you, or with only a limited part of you? Because that is the other half of letting it go. Knowing when enough is enough, and knowing when to walk away.

Tell your ego to be quiet, let the anger subside, and get on with your day. As fun as it may be to think up awful ways to get back at someone, all you are doing is giving them a home within your heart. You are giving them fertile ground in which to drop a seed. And that seed, with enough attention, will grow into a weed with the potential to suck the life out of you.

So stop it before it starts. Smile to yourself and breathe. Feel that smile radiate across your face and follow your breath down into your heart. Let the glow within your heart spread across your body as you push out whatever anger or ego was trying to arise, as you Let It Go and/or Let It Be.

Then get on with your day as you walk through the next door that awaits.
I hope this helps you.

Be well,

Modern Meditation Profile – Alan Muskat

Alan Muskat – PhilosoForager: Looking Without Seeking

Alan Muskat is a naturalist in the tradition of Muir and Thoreau. He has brought the art of foraging to new light, both as a meditator and a philosopher. As someone who is stepping into Modern Meditation, he calls his approach that of a philosoforager.

Alan pursued the martial arts in middle school, before studying Daoism while in college. He entered the Back to the Land movement in the 1990s; a precursor to today’s Slow Food and Locavore movements. For him, it was simply an idea that resonated. Eventually he began to simplify his life, and soon enough, to simplify everything he did. He found each step returned him to a more natural state of being, and he liked what he was experiencing.

For the next twenty years, as Alan recalls, he continued to chase after material things until he found, as many of us have, that he was living in fear: the fear of not Forest Meditationhaving enough. It was with this understanding that he came to the realization that the only way to remove fear from his life was to stop collecting those things that he simply did not need.

You see, a forager is not a farmer. He or she does not put down roots. He does not store the crops he has raised. Instead, a forager is endlessly wandering, searching without looking for anything in particular.

“What many people don’t realize is that foraging is not about intention. It is about letting go,” as Alan puts it. “I try not to go into the woods with the idea of finding something specific. I never know what I will find. I can look for something, but I may not find it.” He smiles, “In April everyone wants morels.  But to seek them sets you up for frustration and disappointment. It really is a practice of non-attachment.”

Today, when Alan wanders into the woods, alone or as a guide, he finds himself reminding those Slide3who wander with him to “look without seeking.” When people seek him out, most are not looking for the philosophy behind the foraging. Usually, they just want to know how to get the food.

But it’s not that simple. “This is not about making nature into a grocery. Some of the prettiest things can be the most poisonous, while some of the tastiest can be the least attractive. All the while, we are fed by beauty and the sounds of nature. Even if you don’t find anything to eat, you are continually being fed.”

For Alan, this is how foraging can be a walking meditation.

“When I am sitting, I get distracted. But when I am in the forest, nature takes my attention.  Like Krishnamurti says, ‘meditation is like the breeze that comes in when you leave the window open.’ I can’t easily find the beauty in life, outside of my thoughts, when I’m sitting in a room.”

For Alan, as it is for me, going into the woods is a wonderful context for meditation. But then, it was like that for John Muir and Henry David Thoreau too. May it be the same for you.

 

[learn_more caption=”See The Full Interview Here”]

There’s a love that’s divine

And it’s yours and it’s mine

Like the sun

Van Morrison

 

What drew you to yoga and meditation?

Well, I was mostly forced into it. I have adrenal fatigue and other stress-related conditions. For me, it was a matter of necessity.

How have they changed your life?

I’m slowly developing better habits. Basically, in stressful situations, I go into my body instead of into my head. It greatly reduces my stress and provides me with a wonderful sense of calm no matter where I am.

At what point did you decide to teach others?

I teach something as soon as I learn it. Or rather, I argue for the importance of it, based on my own experience and reflection. There hasn’t been a “point” at which I began to teach yoga or meditation because, for the most part, that’s not what I teach, at least ostensibly. But I have been slowly integrating more of both into my work as a nature guide.

What do you find most rewarding about working with others?

I like making friends with others, finding common ground. If I can get past superficialities, I always learn something. I also pick up simpler ways to express my teaching when people reflect it back to me.

What is your advice for someone just starting on their journey?

Probably just to “be in your body.” Most everything else important comes out of that.

What should someone look for in a studio or an instructor?

I think of flexibility, like you are promoting. Someone you can relate with, and v.v., who bridges the gap between “teacher” and “student.”

What does the term Modern Meditation mean to you?

I’d like it to mean something integrated with daily life, a way of walking any path, rather than a technique to take time out to do. Mindfulness, I guess.

How have you adapted traditional meditation and yoga in your life outside the studio?

I have not developed the discipline to do a regular practice on my own. I am starting to remember to use these tools when the need is flagrant, like first aid.

How has expanding and deepening your practice, improved your life?

Probably my deepest practice is self-forgiveness. For example, ‘if I don’t meditate, that’s OK.’  I fall into my workaholism and fritter my time away again and again. Harping on myself doesn’t help. It’s where I’m at, and if this “plant” is going to grow, I need to water it, not yank on it.

What is your Simple Truth?

I adhere to Advaita (non dualism). I would sum that up by saying that life is a dream and the challenge is to stay awake in it. To be awake in the dream of life is not to believe that “nothing matters” but to recognize that the best way to alleviate suffering in the world is to find and/or maintain a peaceful, open heart in the midst of it. Simply put, “all we need is love.” Foraging helps me to see that with love, everything else comes easily.

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