Friday, 24 December 2010

The Good Samaritan


I want to wish each one of you a very happy Christmas and a New Year full of peace and solid spiritual achievement. Thank you so much for reading my blog so regularly during the past twelve months.

Lionel



I read this true story on the BBC News website today and I want to share it with you all. It shows that no matter how belligerant, anti-social or unresponsive an individual may be, if we listen to their story, we can usually do something to help.

One act of kindness that befell British writer Bernard Hare in 1982 changed him profoundly. Then a student living just north of London, he tells the story to inspire troubled young people to help deal with their disrupted lives.

The police called at my student hovel early evening, but I didn't answer as I thought they'd come to evict me. I hadn't paid my rent in months.

But then I got to thinking: my mum hadn't been too good and what if it was something about her?

We had no phone in the hovel and mobiles hadn't been invented yet, so I had to nip down the phone box.

I rang home to Leeds to find my mother was in hospital and not expected to survive the night. "Get home, son," my dad said.

I got to the railway station to find I'd missed the last train. A train was going as far as Peterborough, but I would miss the connecting Leeds train by twenty minutes.
I bought a ticket home and got on anyway. I was a struggling student and didn't have the money for a taxi the whole way, but I had a screwdriver in my pocket and my bunch of skeleton keys.

I was so desperate to get home that I planned to nick a car in Peterborough, hitch hike, steal some money, something, anything. I just knew from my dad's tone of voice that my mother was going to die that night and I intended to get home if it killed me.

"Tickets, please," I heard, as I stared blankly out of the window at the passing darkness. I fumbled for my ticket and gave it to the guard when he approached. He stamped it, but then just stood there looking at me. I'd been crying, had red eyes and must have looked a fright.

"You okay?" he asked.

"Course I'm okay," I said. "Why wouldn't I be? And what's it got to do with you in any case?"

"You look awful," he said. "Is there anything I can do?"

"You could get lost and mind your own business," I said. "That'd be a big help." I wasn't in the mood for talking.

He was only a little bloke and he must have read the danger signals in my body language and tone of voice, but he sat down opposite me anyway and continued to engage me.

"If there's a problem, I'm here to help. That's what I'm paid for."

I was a big bloke in my prime, so I thought for a second about physically sending him on his way, but somehow it didn't seem appropriate. He wasn't really doing much wrong. I was going through all the stages of grief at once: denial, anger, guilt, withdrawal, everything but acceptance. I was a bubbling cauldron of emotion and he had placed himself in my line of fire.

The only other thing I could think of to get rid of him was to tell him my story.
"Look, my mum's in hospital, dying, she won't survive the night, I'm going to miss the connection to Leeds at Peterborough, I'm not sure how I'm going to get home.
"It's tonight or never, I won't get another chance, I'm a bit upset, I don't really feel like talking, I'd be grateful if you'd leave me alone. Okay?"

"Okay," he said, finally getting up. "Sorry to hear that, son. I'll leave you alone then. Hope you make it home in time." Then he wandered off down the carriage back the way he came.

I continued to look out of the window at the dark. Ten minutes later, he was back at the side of my table. Oh no, I thought, here we go again. This time I really am going to rag him down the train.

He touched my arm. "Listen, when we get to Peterborough, shoot straight over to Platform One as quick as you like. The Leeds train'll be there."

I looked at him dumbfounded. It wasn't really registering. "Come again," I said, stupidly. "What do you mean? Is it late, or something?"

"No, it isn't late," he said, defensively, as if he really cared whether trains were late or not. "No, I've just radioed Peterborough. They're going to hold the train up for you. As soon as you get on, it goes.

"Everyone will be complaining about how late it is, but let's not worry about that on this occasion. You'll get home and that's the main thing. Good luck and God bless."
Then he was off down the train again. "Tickets, please. Any more tickets now?"
I suddenly realised what a top-class, fully-fledged doilem I was and chased him down the train. I wanted to give him all the money from my wallet, my driver's licence, my keys, but I knew he would be offended.

I caught him up and grabbed his arm. "Oh, er, I just wanted to…" I was suddenly speechless. "I, erm…"

Bernard was desperate to see his mother, Joyce

"It's okay," he said. "Not a problem." He had a warm smile on his face and true compassion in his eyes. He was a good man for its own sake and required nothing in return.

"I wish I had some way to thank you," I said. "I appreciate what you've done."
"Not a problem," he said again. "If you feel the need to thank me, the next time you see someone in trouble, you help them out. That will pay me back amply.

"Tell them to pay you back the same way and soon the world will be a better place."
I was at my mother's side when she died in the early hours of the morning. Even now, I can't think of her without remembering the Good Conductor on that late-night train to Peterborough and, to this day, I won't hear a bad word said about British Rail.
My meeting with the Good Conductor changed me from a selfish, potentially violent hedonist into a decent human being, but it took time.

"I've paid him back a thousand times since then," I tell the young people I work with, "and I'll keep on doing so till the day I die. You don't owe me nothing. Nothing at all."

"And if you think you do, I'd give you the same advice the Good Conductor gave me. Pass it down the line."

Saturday, 11 December 2010

A Life Without Television

As I watched with growing revulsion, the so called “peaceful demonstration” of students in London protesting against increases in fees for higher education and I remember all the violent terrorist acts around the globe, I began to wonder. What is the main objective of most demonstrators and terrorists?

The answer is abundantly clear, to obtain maximum publicity via television. This publicity is designed in both instances to provoke fear. In the case of demonstrators, fear amongst legislators of the side-effects within society of proposed new legislation and where terrorists are concerned fear amongst the general population. The fear in both instances leads to reaction on the part of the legislature. Any action based upon fear is likely to be ill-thought-out and almost certainly lead to a worsening rather than an improving situation.

The target of these comments of mine is not so much the organisers of protests or the master-minds of terrorism (though I have nothing but contempt for both) but television production companies and their journalists. I accept without reservation that television is such an important part of the fabric of society these days that under no circumstances would the majority of people be willing to contemplate its disappearance.

This fact in itself should give the television companies and their journalists pause for thought. Their pictures and the views of their commentators are received in the privacy of people’s homes. Many people are still uncritical of the views of journalists on most subjects other than part politics, so the power wielded by television over the thinking of the general population is enormous. What a responsibility! A responsibility which it seems to me is shrugged off by the use of phrases such as, “we have a duty to report life as it is”.

I agree with the sentiment expressed in this phrase but object most strongly to the manner in which television producers and their owners interpret it. It seems to me they are interested purely in what looks most dramatic (interpret this as ‘most violent’ if you will) on our TV screens. There seems little desire for objectivity in their reporting, they merely accept the ‘hand outs’ and press releases of the terrorists and organisers of demonstrations that turn violent without pausing to question the accuracy or fairness of their contents.

I am forced to conclude that were there no television cameras, the number of ‘peaceful demonstrations’ would decline dramatically, as also would the number of terrorist outrages. Demonstrations and terrorist violence are designed to force ordinary people to accept the bigoted and usually totally unrepresentative views of tiny minorities. Because we are foolish enough to report their statements so uncritically, we bring unreasonable pressure on the decent peace-loving majority of the communities these extremists say they represent. We end up cutting the ground from beneath the feet of the moderates. The more we do it, the more extremists are encouraged, which leads to greater and greater use of violence and terror to support their unrepresentative views.

We cannot allow this to continue surely? Something must be done. It is no use hoping “they” will do something for they won’t. If the TV companies and their owners and journalists are unwilling to act responsibly, one option remains to us. The “on/off” switch! Switch off our TV sets! Refuse to watch news programmes and so-called current affairs programmes. Bearing in mind the number of 24 hour news programmes that have to find ‘news’ of some kind to report continuously, one suspects there is sometimes a very creative interpretation of what constitutes ‘news’ to the producers of these programmes.

In my view the message would soon be received and a sea change would take place in TV reporting. News programmes would be cut back severely, extremists would have to depend more upon reasoned argument to persuade people of their points of view and we would all be freed to take more exercise and spend time talking to one another instead of being glued to news programmes.

I know it is useless to pretend we could ever achieve a future ‘life without television’ but we all need to think a great deal more about the impact it has upon our basic freedoms. Television of itself, just like the wheel, fire, atomic energy and gunpowder, poses no threat but the use to which it is put by unscrupulous people both in the so-called ‘free world’ and elsewhere, is a huge threat to human advancement and happiness. It is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity – a challenge to use our inventions responsibly and not to further narrow, self-interest. How we respond to the challenge as individuals will determine what kind of world our grand-children and our great grand-children will inherit.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Whale


Another beautiful (True) story that it gives me much pleasure to pass on. Blessings to you all - Lionel

If you read a recent front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth.

A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallon Islands (outside the Golden Gate ) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her.

They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around as she was thanking them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth said her eyes were following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.


May you, and all those you love, be so blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you.


And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Wooden Bowl



Friends, my apologies for not posting anything lately. My excuse is I am working on a new book. I received the following from a friend today and I want to share it with you because it is so true and so touching, Lionel

I guarantee you will remember the tale of the Wooden Bowl tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson.

The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.
The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and
failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor.
When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess.
'We must do something about father,' said the son. 'I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.'

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.

There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner.
Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food. The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor.

He asked the child sweetly, 'What are you making?' Just as sweetly, the boy responded,

'Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up. '

The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks.. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.
That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table.

For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

On a positive note, I've learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things:
a rainy day,the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a 'life.'
I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands.You need to be able to throw something back sometimes.

I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you. I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Dark energy and Flat Universe exposed by simple method


Here is another survey that gives further evidence that scientists should abandon their unreasonable opposition to anything connected with Spirit and pay attention to what scientists from the Spiritual world can explain to them. In 1914, through automatic writing, Spirit explained the existence of Dark Matter and Dark Energy together with some of its properties. These included the means by which light is carried around the universe!


By Jason Palmer Science and technology reporter, BBC News

The measurement depends on hundreds of pairs of "binary galaxies"

Researchers have developed a simple technique that adds evidence to the theory that the Universe is flat.

Moreover, the method - developed by revisiting a 30-year-old idea - confirms that "dark energy" makes up nearly three-quarters of the Universe.

The research, published in Nature, uses existing data and relies on fewer assumptions than current approaches.

Author Christian Marinoni says the idea turns estimating the Universe's shape into "primary school" geometry.

While the idea of the Earth being flat preoccupied the first philosophers millennia ago, the question of whether the Universe itself is flat remains a debatable topic.
The degree to which the Universe is curved has an effect on what astronomers see when they look into the cosmos.

A telescope on or near Earth may see an image of a celestial object differently from how the object actually looks, because the very fabric of space and time bends the light coming from it.

Christian Marinoni and Adeline Buzzi of the University of Provence have made use of this phenomenon in their technique.

Dark prospect

The current model of cosmology holds that only 4% of what makes up our Universe is normal matter - the stuff of stars and planets with which we are familiar, and that astronomers can see directly.

Once you measure the abundance of matter and energy in the Universe, you have direct information on its geometry; you can do geometry as we learn in primary school”
End Quote Christian Marinoni University of Provence

The overwhelming majority of the Universe, the theory holds, is composed of dark matter and dark energy. They are "dark" because they evidently do not absorb, emit and reflect light like normal matter, making direct views impossible.

Dark energy - purported to make up 73% of the known Universe - was proposed as the source of the ongoing expansion of everything in the cosmos. Astronomers have also observed that this expansion of the Universe seems to be accelerating.

Even though gravity holds that everything should attract everything else, in every direction astronomers look there is evidence that things are in fact moving apart - with those objects further away moving faster.

Dark energy is believed to pervade the essence of space and time, forcing a kind of "anti-gravity" that fits cosmologists' equations but that is otherwise a mysterious quantity.

"The problem is that we do not see dark energy because it doesn't emit light, so we cannot measure it by designing a new machine, a new telescope," explained Professor Marinoni.

"What we have to do is to devise a new mathematical framework that allows us to dig into this mystery," he told BBC News.

Circular reasoning


The technique used in this study was first proposed in 1979 by researchers at the universities of Princeton and Berkeley in the US.

It relies on measuring the degree to which images of far-flung astronomical objects are a distortion of their real appearance. The authors originally suggested a spherical object would work.
\
The way the image is distorted should shed light on both the curvature of the Universe and the recipe of matter, dark matter and dark energy it is composed of.
The problem until now has been to choose an object whose real, local appearance can be known with certainty.

Professor Marinoni and Dr Buzzi's idea was to use a number of binary galaxies - pairs of galaxies that orbit each other.

The idea was checked using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Since nature shows no preference for the direction these galaxies would be orbiting one another, a look across the whole sky should spot the full spectrum of orbital planes - up, down, left, right, side-on and so on.

Put all of them together and they should approximate a sphere.

The team formed a kind of average of all of those binary galaxies, and corrected for the varying speeds at which the galaxies might be orbiting each other.

The calculation also takes into account the relative proportion of dark energy in the Universe.

The equation was then juggled until the collection of binaries did indeed look like a uniform mix of directions.

The results suggest that the Universe is made up of about 70% dark energy.
"In general relativity, there is a direct connection between geometry and dynamics," Professor Marinoni explained, "so that once you measure the abundance of matter and energy in the Universe, you have direct information on its geometry; you can do geometry as we learn in primary school."

The team's conclusions suggest the Universe is indeed flat - an assumption first put forth by Albert Einstein and seemingly confirmed by more recent observations but that remains one of the most difficult ideas to put on solid theoretical footing.
Alan Heavens, a theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Edinburgh, said that the strength of the result lies in that it requires few assumptions about the nature of the cosmos.

"The problem that Marinoni and Buzzi have attacked is to see if we can get another, rather clean way of working out what the geometry of the Universe is without going through some fairly indirect reasoning, which is what we do at the moment," Professor Heavens told BBC News.

"They get complete consistency with [results from] existing methods, so there's nothing surprising coming out - thankfully - but it's a neat idea because it really goes rather directly from observations to conclusions."

However, while the abundance of dark energy seems on an ever-firmer footing, its nature remains a mystery.

"I don't think it can tell us in a lot of detail what the dark energy is," Professor Heavens said. "I think it's probably not precise enough - certainly not yet."

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Thanksgiving Address


Tomorrow in American Thanksgiving Day and the world is facing ever more threats to peace and prosperity. It seems an appropriate time to remind ourselves that Thanksgiving did not begin with The Pilgrim Fathers and that not only Americans but all of us should give thanks for the marvellous bounty all around us. The following may help us do just that.

These words come to us from the Six Nations – Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onodaga, Seneca and Tucarora and date back at least one thousand years. They are still spoken at ceremonial and governmental gatherings of the Six Nations.

The People:


Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People.
Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother:

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother we send greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.

The Waters:

We give thanks to all the Waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms – waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.
Now our minds are one

The Fish:


We turn our minds to all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So we now turn to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.

The Plants:


Now we turn towards the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.
Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants:


With one mind, we turn to honour and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, the vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them greeting and thanks.
Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs:

Now we turn to all the Medicine Herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy they are still among us those special few who remember how to use the plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.
Now our minds are one.

The Animals:


We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.
Now our minds are one.

The Trees:

We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many peoples of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.
Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds:


We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.
Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers:

Now we turn to the west where our Grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightening and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.
Now our minds are one.

The Sun:


We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest brother, the Sun. Each day, without fail, he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of the new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.
Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon:


We put our minds together and give thanks to lour oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of women all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.
Now our minds are one.

The Stars:


We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewellery. We see them in the night, helping the moon to light the darkness and bring dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to all the Stars.
Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers:


We gather our minds to greet and thank the Enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring Teachers.
Now our minds are one.

The Creator:


Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.
Now our minds are one.

Closing Words:


We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way
Now our minds are one.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

The Rainbow


This is an extract nfrom my new novel, "The Keepsake." Visit www.spiritteach.net for details of how to buy it.

We were sitting on top of the ridge overlooking ‘our lake’ beyond which was another ridge, the twin of this one. The sun was shining and the sky above the lake was bright blue. Doing nothing in particular, we just sat treasuring the closeness of one to the other, listening to the birdsong and drowsing to the steady drone of insects. Yesterday and Carla seemed far away; to belong to a different century. I don’t know when I’d felt so relaxed. Olwen cried out, her voice full of excitement,
“Oh Ian look! Look at the rainbow, isn’t it wonderful?”

A perfect rainbow was forming which framed the lake, the two ends of the arch resting perfectly on either side of the water. We stared at it enraptured.
“It’s getting brighter. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such brilliant colours in a rainbow before.”

“You’re right Olwen and look, there’s a second rainbow forming alongside the first. Can you see it? It’s almost as bright as the other.”

“You know this means there are four pots of gold don’t you?” I laughed and replied,
“It’s so beautiful Olwen; I can believe anything at this moment.” I put my arm around her and drew her close.

We sat and watched in awe as the colours deepened. We became aware that behind us the light was so bright we knew if we looked around we would be blinded. Our rational selves knew it must be the sun but neither of us dared to look. It was almost as though we were in the presence of some special magic and to look backwards would break the spell, dispersing all the beauty unfolding before us.

“Look Olwen, there are two purple bands in each rainbow. Can you see?”

“Yes, it’s magic Ian. I feel God has singled us out for a special treat. Do you think He’s trying to tell us something?”

“No, He’s not trying to tell us anything. It’s His way of saluting our love.”
“Oh Ian, what a beautiful thing to say; no wonder I love you.”

It would have been natural to kiss but somehow we just couldn’t tear our eyes away from the scene before us. We just sat and stared, lost in wonder at this unique spectacle. It was so breathtaking there were tears in my eyes and I felt as if the light was filling me and enhancing my eyesight. I could swear I saw colours in the rainbow that I had never seen before. Colours I never knew existed.

As I looked I realised there were four rainbows, not two - Two in the sky and two in the lake. The lake was a perfect mirror reflecting the arches that spanned it. I found myself thinking about the future with Olwen and tried once more to picture the room I had glimpsed earlier. Somehow I knew she and I would be together for the rest of our lives. My heart swelled and my whole body tingled with excitement as I saw the room again. Just like before, it wore a familiar look. There was something about the windows … I tried and tried to work out why but still couldn’t place it. What I did know was it exuded a feeling of utter peace. The room seemed to wrap us in a cocoon of love and contentment. I knew I would recognise it as soon as I saw its physical counterpart and wondered when and where that would be.
Olwen interrupted my reverie.

“The birds aren’t singing anymore. Have you noticed?”

She was right. Even the skylarks were silent. Until a few moments ago they had filled the air with their joyous warbling as they climbed higher and higher into the sky, each trying to outdo the other in expressing its joy. I wondered if they too were overawed by the spectacle. There we were high in the Radnor hills amid perfect silence, watching the most beautiful natural phenomenon either of us had ever seen. Stunned by the beauty, we couldn’t break the almost mystical silence and sat there spellbound and still as though in a place of worship. I don’t know how long we sat there but it seemed forever. Gradually the light behind us dimmed, the colours in the rainbows began to fade and then the second, shadow rainbow, disappeared.
“I want to stay here always,” murmured Olwen, “but if we don’t leave soon we’re going to get so wet it isn’t true.”

We stood up and started to hurry back to the car. I thought that was that but we had another surprise. As we retraced our steps I noticed something else.
“Am I imagining things Olwen, or has the path turned purple?”

“Oh my goodness, it has and just the path. The grass on either side is still green. How incredible. What can it mean?”

“I think it’s connected in some way with the two purple bands in the rainbow,” I replied “but I can’t explain it, especially the fact that only the path seems to be affected. I’ve never seen anything like this before, have you?”

“No never. I’ve read somewhere that purple is the colour of power, which is why emperors and bishops wear purple robes. Look, let’s not try to analyse it, the magic will go if we do, just accept it as a blessing on the power of our love, a special benediction just for you and me.”

I’m not a religious or mystical person but this experience affected me a great deal. I seemed to feel the touch of an invisible hand and like Olwen was convinced that this whole, wonderful phenomenon was in some strange way staged for our benefit. Such a conclusion was irrational and quite contrary to my training as an accountant but I am certain that our souls had been touched. Neither of us would be the same again.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

~ No Excuses ~

Many people say you must forget about yourself and love other people. Well, it doesn't work that way. The truth is, you must first accept yourself with all your mistakes - all of your so-called sins, all the times you look like a fool, and all the times you've acted inappropriately.

You must be able to stand before the entire world and make no excuse for yourself.
When you can do that, you're coming from a position of unconditional love.


Robert Anthony


There is so much truth in this but how difficult it is to put it into practice. So often, although we know all too well how weak and selfish we are, we feel compelled to pretend before other people so they will think us better than we really are. We have come to prize the opinion of others above that of being true to ourselves. Does this therefore mean we can only be true to ourselves if we stand alone and refuse to seek out the company of others? There are many who have thought that way and have shut themselves away in convents and monasteries, imposing vows of silence upon themselves. Have they found the true answer of how to live with unconditional love?

Isolation is not an easy option but despite this, I cannot believe that the way to overcome any negative aspects of our character is to run away and hide, no matter how much such self-denial may cost us. It is no accident that human beings band together in groups by nature and it is by no means natural for us to remain solitary. We are united by a common spiritual bond, even though each one of us appears to be so different from the other. As Alexander Pope puts it so eloquently in his “Essay on Man,” “That changed through all and yet in all the same.” We are each sons and daughters of The Great Spirit, or God, or The Great First Cause, or whatever name you prefer to call the power that is the source of all life. That means no matter how much we may differ in colour of skin, language, personality, beliefs or nationality, we all exist only because of the power of the spirit within us. Without our inner spirit we could not be.

No matter how difficult it is to come face to face with ourselves as we truly are, it is indeed the only way to achieve and experience unconditional love. The Ancient Greeks knew this well for written above the doors of the Oracle at Delphi were the words “Know Thyself”. It is impossible to forget yourself but it is possible to get to know your self so well, warts and all. Then you must learn to accept and love being what you are. Having gained this close acquaintance with ourselves and accepted ourselves as we truly are we can proceed to recognise that despite all our faults, we are part of the Source of all life and as such eternal and will after many trials and temptations, become as pure as the Angels. Thus we can truly love ourselves in a selfless, non-egotistical way. Only then will we be able to love others as we love ourselves.

Perhaps this is the ultimate challenge of our earthly lives!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

TO: God.Com

I thought this was wonderful and wanted to share it with you all. Lionel


Dear Lord,
Every single evening
As I'm lying here in bed,
This tiny little Prayer
Keeps running through my head:

God bless all my family & friends
Wherever they may be,
Keep them warm
And safe from harm
For they're so close to me.

And God, there is one more thing
I wish that you could do;
Hope you don't mind me asking,
Please bless my computer too.

Now I know that it's unusual
To Bless a motherboard,
But listen just a second
While I explain it to you, Lord.

You see, that little metal box
Holds more than odds and ends;
Inside those small compartments
Rest so many of my friends.

I know so much about them
By the kindness that they give,
And this little scrap of metal
Takes me in to where they live.

By faith is how I know them
Much the same as you.
We share in what life brings us
And from that our friendships grew.

Please take an extra minute
From your duties up above,
To bless those in my address book
That's filled with so much love.


When you update your Heavenly list
On your own Great CD-ROM,
Bless everyone who says this prayer
Sent up to GOD.Com


Amen

Monday, 25 October 2010

The smell of rain


A dear friend sent this to me and it is so moving I want to share it with you all.

Lionel




A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor
walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing. She was still groggy
from surgery.


Her husband, David , held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news.
That afternoon of March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks
pregnant, to undergo an emergency Cesarean to deliver couple's new daughter,
Dana Lu Blessing.



At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound nine ounces, they already
knew she was perilously premature.

Still, the doctor's soft words dropped like bombs.

'I don't think she's going to make it,' he said, as kindly as he could..

'There's only a 10-percent chance she will live through the night, and even
then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very
cruel one'




Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described
the devastating problems Dana would likely face if she survived.



She would never walk, she would never talk, she would probably be
blind, and she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions
from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation, and on and on.



'No! No!' was all Diana could say.

She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed
of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four.

Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away.



But as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana.
Because Dana 's underdeveloped nervous system was essentially 'raw',
the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort, so they couldn't
even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength
of their love. All they could do, as Dana struggled alone beneath the
ultraviolet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God
would stay close to their precious little girl.


There was never a moment when Dana suddenly grew stronger.



But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here
and an ounce of strength there.


At last, when Dana turned two months old. her parents were able to
hold her in their arms for the very first time.




And two months later, though doctors continued to gently but grimly
warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal
life, were next to zero, Dana went home from the hospital, just as her
mother had predicted.


Five years later, when Dana was a petite but feisty young girl with
glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life.


She showed no signs whatsoever of any mental or physical impairment.
Simply, she was everything a little girl can be and more. But that happy
ending is far from the end of her story.



One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in
Irving , Texas , Dana was sitting in her mother's lap in the bleachers of a
local ball park where her brother Dustin's baseball team was practicing.


As always, Dana was chattering nonstop with her mother and several
other adults sitting nearby, when she suddenly fell silent. Hugging her
arms across her chest, little Dana asked, 'Do you smell that?'



Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana
replied, 'Yes, it smells like rain.'


Dana closed her eyes and again asked, 'Do you smell that?'


Once again, her mother replied, 'Yes, I think we're about to get wet.
It smells like rain.'


Still caught in the moment, Dana shook her head, patted her thin
shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced,
'No, it smells like Him.



It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest.'



Tears blurred Diana's eyes as Dana happily hopped down to
play with the other children.
Before the rains came, her daughter's words confirmed what
Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had
known, at least in their hearts, all along.


During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life,
when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was
holding Dana on His chest and it is His loving scent that she
remembers so well.

Gardening God's Way


I like this very much and thought it might appeal to you too. Enjoy!






Plant three rows of peas:
Peace of mind
Peace of heart
Peace of soul

Plant four rows of squash:
Squash gossip
Squash indifference
Squash grumbling
Squash selfishness

Plant four rows of lettuce:
Lettuce be faithful
Lettuce be kind
Lettuce be obedient
Lettuce really love one another

No garden without turnips:
Turnip for meetings
Turnip for service
Turnip to help one another

Water freely with patience and
Cultivate with love.
There is much fruit in your garden
Because you reap what you sow.

To conclude our garden
We must have thyme:
Thyme for God
Thyme for study
Thyme for prayer

Author Unknown

Friday, 22 October 2010

A Dog's Purpose? (from a 6-year-old)


Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker 's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try to live.

He said,''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?'' The Six-year-old continued,

''Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

ENJOY EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY!

Passing Over


Of all the fears which beset modern humanity, I believe the fear of death is the greatest. How sad this is, for it is unnecessary. Our life on earth is but a brief span compared to our life in eternity. You and I have always existed and will continue to exist forever. Each phase of our life is a preparation for the next phase and we cannot omit any step of the journey. Why is it that, compared to my grandparents’ generation for instance, we fear death so much?

Part of the reason has always been there. That is that due to the overpowering influence of the five senses, we are persuaded that earth life is the total of our existence. Because the senses are concerned almost solely with material things and take little or no account of the spiritual, they easily persuade us to accept their view, especially if we have separated ourselves from the world in which we live. What do I mean by this? I mean that in former days all people lived much closer to nature and were acutely aware of the rhythms of nature and the need to work with those rhythms. Death is a regular occurrence in the natural world and it was therefore much easier then to accept death as a natural part of life. The acceptance that everything dies and is renewed was universal at one time.

In modern urban society we are closeted from nature (many children think milk is produced in factories) and we do not meet death nearly as frequently as our forebears. I suppose the exceptions are pets and warfare. In the case of the latter, because invariably it is the young who die our negative attitudes to death are reinforced. We also have a tendency to try to protect our children from an awareness of death and what it means. When I was a child, it was expected that all members of a family, irrespective of age, visited the deceased loved one lying in his or her casket or coffin in the front room. I cannot say it was an enjoyable experience but it did bring about closure, taught us that death is part of life, that life continues and the importance of accepting those things. Today, my experience is that many parents keep their children away from funerals or anything to do with death and the practice of the coffin sitting in the home for three days has long gone. Added to this, the media have gone out of their way to emphasise the macabre aspects, at no time more than just now as we approach Halloween. Instead of the spirits of loved ones being presented as loving, caring souls, we are taught to be frightened of them by the use of ghost stories or movies like 2012 aimed to frighten us with images of disaster that kills millions.

Consequently we have a generation that fears death and its results more than any previous one and treats spirit presence as a macabre entertainment. As a result stress builds up because the inner spiritual self is being denied self-expression due to the dominance of the conscious mind or ego. If only more people could accept that death itself is not a bad experience and that nobody dies alone, there is always a person who loves you from the spiritual world there to help you into your new life. Then this mindless fear would be removed, stress lowered and although we would naturally still miss our loved ones when they pass, prolonged, painful grief would become a thing of the past. It is natural to feel grief when a loved one passes but the depth of misery some experience and their conviction they will not be able to cope without him or her is not. It points to our responsibility to face the issue openly well before the end arrives. We need to discuss how the survivor will manage and what they can do to help themselves. For instance, if a man is involved deeply in his own business and has shared little or any information about it with his wife, he needs to change that. We never know when the call might come and nothing is more daunting for a widow than having to learn how to run or dispose of a business about which she knows little or nothing. There are many unscrupulous people out there ready to take advantage of such a situation and it is surely our responsibility to ensure our partner never has to face that kind of experience if we pass early.

Canon Henry Scott Holland wrote a wonderfully uplifting piece on this subject and the importance of accepting it as a natural, unavoidable but not final event:

________________________________________
“Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well."

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Endings and Beginnings

“When you were born,
you cried and the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die,
the world cries and you rejoice.”

Cherokee Expression


Based on Messages supposedly from the Great White Brotherhood, given through Patricia Beirne.

What follows is an interesting view I think on the changes so many of us are aware that are taking place at present.
I have edited the content a little for grammatical accuracy. - Lionel



Endings and beginnings are what life is all about; they are the Alpha and Omega. As the autumn season appears, many of you are surprised to find time passing so quickly and you wonder what you have accomplished that has made this year better for you.

Frustrations and fears run high. This is being played out at every level of your lives. There seems to be little time to do the things you want to do, your dreams of the future appear further away then ever. What escapes most of you is the understanding that your thoughts have tremendous energy and power. When you are feeling angry, discouraged, sad, fearful, the energy becomes dense and heavy. Those around you feel it, and it is reflected back to you in many ways.

"Love" is the substance of life. From "Love" the Universe was born, and everything in it. There is no separation, except in your minds. This is part of the illusion of duality. Unconditional love experienced and shared from the heart is the key to heal all; it is your true Essence.

Humanity is in the throws of a transition that is experienced in ways that are unique to your "life contracts." You came into this life to bring together all the fragmented aspects of self, to finally understand that you live simultaneously in many realities, experience many parallel lives, but focus on one as your "only" reality. Your "true" reality is being unveiled in order to bring you back into Oneness, to heal feelings of separateness from your Creator. There is no way to escape the move of mankind to a new level of existence. The third dimension as you know it is coming to an end. It is time to raise your consciousness, and no longer be limited by the illusion you see all around you.

If you are fearful, this manifests as discomfort, and disharmony throughout your lives. Everything seems to be falling apart. There is no escape except to recognize "yourselves" as one universal family striving for acceptance and the love of all.

Change is taking place within you, and all around you; at personal, global and universal levels. Take a deep breath; find the love and peace that dwells deep inside and remember, we are here to support you in this transition.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Angel in White - Natalie Casey


Last year Natalie Casey, 82, a nurse since 1945 at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center–Passavant, was caring for a World War II veteran who was not expected to make it after major abdominal surgery. She had his wife bring in an old photo album, and then Casey sat down with him, flipping through the pages. "I told him my husband had been in the service," she says. "We talked about it for days. And pretty soon he was on the mend."


After decades of tending to the bodies and souls of patients, Casey has found that the best medicine doesn't come out of a pill bottle. "I found out that if I took a genuine interest in my patients, it took their minds off what they were in the hospital for," she says. "Nursing isn't just delivering medicine and changing bandages. If you listen to somebody, it's surprising how much their outlook can change."


How true! One of the noticeable changes of attitude in Western society since I was a boy is that towards health. In former days people accepted that a certain amount of sickness was inevitable and had an ability to tell what was serious and needed medical treatment and what was minor that they could treat themselves. When you had something minor your mother or grandmother knew exactly what was needed to treat it, added to which mothers and grandmothers lived much closer to each other then.

However, when you had a serious illness, your doctor was not so rushed off his feet that he could spare little or no time to listen to you describe exactly what your symptoms were. In addition, as Natalie Casey knows, the causes of illness are not always obvious and the wherewithal to cure them not always to be found in drugs or pills. Sometimes a kindly, listening ear is a far more effective curative than any drug. In most countries doctors no longer have the time for this. The reason they have so much less time to listen to their patients is a serious reproach to our society and individual attitudes. Many people feel because in many countries health services are funded by the State, they have an inalienable right to call on their doctor for anything. Consequently doctor’s surgeries are full to overflowing and the doctors themselves work non-stop to meet the demand. Added to this State medicine demands a great deal of administrative work for which the doctor must find time. The separation of family units that makes the passing on of traditional remedies for non-serious illness more difficult is another important factor.

Perhaps we need more “angels” like Natalie, especially as the proportion of the population who are elderly grows. There are of course many kind people who carry out voluntary work in hospitals but the sort of listening Natalie does so effectively is rare. Nurses are caring people, by and large and would love to have more time to talk to and listen to patients but like doctors, much of their time is spent filling in forms!

Elderly people often live alone and the thing they most yearn for is companionship; someone with whom to share their views on what is happening around them or even just to listen to their reminiscences. If more of us were willing to spend a little time each week with an elderly person, perhaps, just perhaps, geriatric wards in hospitals would be less crowded!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

IF ONLY . . .

In the words of the old song:-

If only, if only the woodpecker sighs,
The bark of the tree was as soft as the skies.
The wolf waits below hungry and lonely
And cries to the moon, “If only, if only . . .



How often have you heard people begin a sentence with these words? Indeed, how often have you done the same? It usually happens when something goes wrong or a totally unexpected challenge comes our way and interferes with plans we have made. Nobody likes change particularly and neither do we immediately accept the results when something we have undertaken or planned, goes wrong. Yet, if we look back over the years and remember what happened on other similar occasions, I believe we can take heart.

I know we always think that the current challenge is so much worse than any previous one but that is human nature. In fact our life is full of such changes of direction or emphasis and although it is often possible to trace the cause, maybe some oversight on our part or the failure to anticipate the actions of another, they rarely turn out to be quite as desperate as we sometimes think. Indeed, many of them have forced a change upon us that has turned out to be a blessing. Whether that is so or not, there is no doubt at all that each such experience and how we meet its challenges impacts upon our character and our spiritual growth.

Our character, whilst partly formed by genetic inheritance, is chiefly moulded by what happens to us, the environment in which we live and how positively we react to challenges. In life we learn a great deal from our mistakes and although we strive hard not to make them it is impossible not to. That is because they are part of the curriculum of life. What was it the sage said? “Show me a man who has not made a mistake and I will show you a man who has not lived”. The corollary to this of course is that we should try to learn from each mistake we make.

Another “If only …” concerns our environment. "If only I had been born at a different time or place; if only I wasn’t surrounded by so much poverty, or violence, or temptation; if only I hadn’t listened to his or her advice"; the list seems endless. I believe each of us chooses the time and place of our birth as well as choosing our parents. That being the case, there must be a very good reason why we chose them. Although it is almost impossible to establish beyond doubt why we chose, we only need to look at the pages of history to see the huge number of people who have triumphed over adversity and completely overcome the disadvantages of their birth or setbacks experienced subsequently.

Instead of moaning “if only…” should we not rather be tying to work out how we can turn the new circumstances to our advantage or what it is we are expected to learn this time? Whatever it is, we can guarantee it’s important. It really is ‘part of life’s rich pattern in which nothing happens by chance and there is a silver lining to every cloud.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Fable of the Porcupine



It was the coldest winter ever - many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together. This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions even though they gave off heat to each other. After awhile they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen. So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. This way they learned to live with the little wounds that were caused by the close relationship with their companion, but the most important part of it, was the heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.

Moral of the story:

The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but the best is when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others and can admire the other person's good qualities.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Good Wishes for Fall



Being a good person is like being a pumpkin. God lifts you up, takes you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. He opens you up, touches you deep inside and scoops out all of the yucky stuff -- including the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then He carves you a bright new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see. This was passed on to me from another pumpkin. Now, it is your turn to pass it on to a pumpkin of your choice. I liked this enough to send it to a few of my favorite pumpkins in my patch.

Peace on Earth: Towards Universal Peace And Hope


Here is an Eastern view on achieving peace on earth that contains some very interesting ideas and opinions. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

Lionel


Despite continuing conflict, prejudices that once seemed inherent in our nature, are giving way. However, frequently, organised religion poses a formidable obstacle in the path, especially when fanatics seek credence from it. Yet, a lot has been achieved elsewhere: Women were generally regarded as inferior. But now, globally, the concept of equality of the sexes is a universally accepted principle.

Nationalism faces a similar fate. One has to distinguish between patriotism that enriches one's life, and submission to inflammatory rhetoric that provokes hatred and fear. Nationalistic rites are as often marked by feelings of awkwardness as they are by the strong convictions and enthusiasm of earlier times. The fetish for absolute national sovereignty is on its way out.

Millions continue to endure the effects of ingrained prejudices of ethnicity, gender, nation, caste and class. Such injustices persist because the institutions and standards we devise only slowly become empowered to construct new and better orders. Nevertheless, fundamental principles have been identified, articulated, and are becoming progressively incarnated in institutions capable of influencing public behaviour.

In contrast to processes of unification that are transforming the rest of our social relationships, the suggestion that all the world's great religions are equally valid in nature and origin is stubbornly resisted by entrenched patterns of sectarian thought. Racial integration will arise from the recognition that the earth's people constitute a single species whose many variations do not themselves confer any advantage or impose any handicap on individual members.

Preoccupation with agendas that disperse and vitiate human energies has led religious institutions to discourage exploration of reality and the exercise of mankind's intellectual faculties. Denunciations of materialism or terrorism are of no real assistance in coping with the contemporary moral crisis if they do not begin by addressing the failure of responsibility that has left believing masses exposed and vulnerable to these influences.

Such reflections are less an indictment of organised religion than a reminder of the unique power it represents. Religion reaches to the roots of motivation. When it has been faithful to the example of those who gave the world its great belief systems, it has awakened in whole populations capacities to love, forgive, create, dare greatly, overcome prejudice and sacrifice for the common good.

Growing numbers of people are coming to realise that the truth underlying all religions is essentially one. This recognition arises not through a resolution of theological disputes but as an intuitive awareness born from the ever widening experience of others and from a dawning acceptance of the oneness of the human family. Out of the welter of religious doctrines, rituals and legal codes inherited from vanished worlds, there is emerging a sense that spiritual life, like the oneness manifest in diverse nationalities, races and cultures constitutes one unbounded reality accessible to everyone.

Religion and science are the two indispensable knowledge systems through which potentialities of consciousness develop. These fundamental modes of the mind's exploration of reality are mutually dependent and have been most productive in those rare but happy periods of history when their complementary nature has been recognised and they have been able to work together. The insights and skills generated by scientific advance will have always to look to spiritual and moral commitment to ensure their appropriate application; religious convictions, no matter how cherished, must submit willingly to impartial testing by scientific methods.

(Abridged from an address by the Universal House of Justice, Baha"i World Centre, to the world's religious heads)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Thought for Today

Spiritual Insight: The Spiritual Basis Of Creativity

In the mid-1980's, while William was consulting on corporate creativity, he began to recognise a similarity in the language that people used to describe their moments of creative insight and their experience of spiritual inspiration. It dawned on him that the similarities were not by accident; but rather, it's because our spiritual nature literally means we are co-creators with the Divine...as Martin Buber, a 20th century Jewish philosopher, reminds us:



"Destiny is not where we wait for God to push us. We take part in creation, meet the Creator, reach out to Him, helpers and companions."

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

AUTUMN


I am in Upstate New York at the moment and the leaves are changing colour. The sun is shining brightly and the leaves look so beautiful it takes my breath away. It makes me realise yet again what beauty there is in this wonderful world of ours and how sad it is that there is so much stress and unhappiness to mar the enjoyment of all this wonder and beauty.

If only – ah if only . . . !! If only we could bring ourselves to the point where enjoying the beauty of the earth and doing our best to enhance it were among the most important things we feel we can commit ourselves to. If instead of feeling threatened by those we do not understand, we can try harder to obtain understanding. If we could only see that we are all swimming in the same universal sea and that because someone is swimming in a different direction from us does not mean they are our enemy. If we could see that helping another swimmer in difficulties is so much preferable to either pushing them under the waves or ignoring their cries for help. All these things would change our perspective and create for us a much more satisfying and worthwhile stay upon earth.

As I look at the autumnal beauty all around, it is difficult not to believe in the rightness and perfection of the natural world; to believe that all nature, the animals and humanity are part and parcel of the same wonderful design and that each is as important as the other in the scheme of things that the Great Spirit has created. We are meant to enjoy it all but to work in harmony with not only the natural world but with ourselves also. Disharmony and disease are inseparable. Much of the disease we see throughout the world springs inevitably from disharmony; whether it is the disease and death spread through warfare and terrorism (which is just another word for warfare), or the spread of diseases like cancer and hypertension that are the result of the desperate unhappiness of people. Unhappiness created by the struggle going on within us between our higher, spiritual self and the ego that is ruled by the five senses.

Inside we know what is needed for happiness on earth and it is rarely to do with maximising our material possessions. Inside we know that war and violence resolve nothing, are destructive and generate a cloud of negativity that at present surrounds our globe and adds to the total sum of human misery. Inside we also know that disputes more often than not result from two things; 1)Our refusal to make a real effort to understand one another and 2) Greed, the selfish desire to possess more and more material things, especially money.

Is there anything we can do to reverse the process? There is. We can as individuals pay more attention to the beauty of the natural world. When, as we gaze upon it in wonder, and as a result feel the light of the spirit shining around and within us, use our imagination to project that light outwards and upwards. If enough of us do this it will disperse the clouds of darkness created by war, hatred and misery and the suffocating pall that hangs over the earth at present will melt away. The effects of its removal will bring about a dramatic increase in inter-personal understanding and a vast reduction in sickness.

Surely such a prize is worth making an extra effort to spread the light of the spirit as widely as possible?

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

SILENCE



Once again my thanks to "Spiritual Insight" for this thought-provoking piece. It brings to mind Psalm 46 "Be still and know that I am God."

In spite of whatever wisdom we may have; we can make a mistake if we have no control over our words. And we can easily find examples of this truth; those who talk much have less power than those who talk little.

For a talkative person may not be able to express an idea in a thousand words which those who are masters of silence express in one word. ... What gives power over words? What gives the power that can be attained by silence? The answer is: it is will power which gives the control over words; it is silence which gives one the power of silence. It is restlessness when a person speaks too much.

The more words are used to express an idea, the less powerful they become. It is a great pity that man so often thinks of saving pennies and never thinks of sparing words. It is like saving pebbles and throwing away pearls. An Indian poet says, 'Pearl-shell, what gives you your precious contents? Silence; for years my lips were closed.'

Sunday, 10 October 2010

A Little Ice-Cream is Good for the Soul!


Last week, I took my grand-children to a restaurant.

My six-year-old grand-son asked if he could say grace.

As we bowed our heads he said, "God is good, God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if Nana gets us ice cream for dessert. And liberty and justice for all! Amen!"

Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, "That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I never!"

Hearing this, my grand-son burst into tears and asked me, "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?"

As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job, and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table.

He winked at my grand-son and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer."

"Really?" my grand-son asked.

"Cross my heart," the man replied.

Then, in a theatrical whisper, he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), "Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes."

Naturally, I bought my grand-children ice cream at the end of the meal. My grand-son stared at his for a moment, and then did something I will remember the rest of my life.

He picked up his sundae and, without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her, "Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes; and my soul is good already."


The End

I love this story!

Sometimes, we all need some ice cream.





I hope God sends you some ice cream today!

Friday, 8 October 2010

FEAR!

I am once more indebted to the writer of Spiritual Insights for this piece. I hope you find it enlightening - Lionel

According to metaphysics fear is caused by the lack of light. Therefore the more light there is in the heart the more fearless the heart becomes. ... When a person is afraid of a dog, he gives the dog a tendency to bite him. This can be noticed so plainly in the lower creation, that every animal is afraid of another animal, and the expectation of harm makes it fear more than does the idea of the hugeness of the form or the bodily strength of another animal. Many things in life can be brought about, not only by wanting them and thinking about them, but also by fearing them, both objects and conditions. To clear one's mind of fear is like bringing light into a dark room, and as light is needed to illuminate a dark room so the light of the soul is necessary to clear away the thought of fear. ... When one fears, this world frightens one, but when one clears one's heart of all fear, the whole world of illusion turns into one single vision of the sublime immanence of God.


There is a story of a Brahmin, a young man who was very much impressed by what his guru told him: that the whole of manifestation is the immanence of God and that, therefore, there is nothing to fear, nothing to distrust. This thought made the young man feel quite at home in the world, quite comfortable. Then one day a mad elephant came along the road on which the young man was walking. The men running before the elephant yelled, 'Away, away! The elephant is coming!' But the young man would not get out of the way. With palms joined he stood as fearlessly before the elephant as one stands before God, as his guru had told him. The consequence was that the elephant gave him a shove and he fell down. He was brought to the guru who asked him what had happened. The young man said, 'Guruji, you said that all is the immanence of God, and therefore, in all reverence, I stood before the elephant with joined hands.' The guru said, 'Did anyone tell you to get out of the way?' He replied, 'Yes.' 'Why then,' said the guru, 'did you not stand before that man with joined hands and listen to him?'

Thursday, 7 October 2010

What You See Is What You Get



I am indebted to The Spiritual Insight’s website for this enlightening piece. I hope you find it as thought-provoking as I did. - Lionel


A friend of mine had an unpleasant experience with a mother of one his students who was about to be ordained a rabbi. This greatly upset and disturbed this woman who considered herself an enlightened intellectual and looked at organized religion as backward and fanatical. She was very nasty and cynical about her son's religious convictions. They were on the way to the ceremony when she turned to my friend and said, "Basically, I don't believe in G- d."

My friend replied, "O.K., fine! Don't believe in G-d." He was the first religious person who had responded to her that way, others tried to convince her. "What?" she exclaimed in surprise.

"You don't want to believe in G-d?" he said. "Fine, so live in a G-dless world."

That's essentially the choice we have. If we don't want to believe in G-d, then G-d won't be in our world. That doesn't mean G-d isn't real. G-d is real, but not for those who choose do deny that truth.

In other words, if I've never tasted papaya, then there's no flavor of papaya in my life. Whether it's real or not for others, it's not in my life. If I'm blind to the color red, then red will not be one of the colors in my life. Mammals do not see colors, so they live in a colorless world. If I'm not willing to see G-d, then my world is godless.

Once I was dating a woman, who I'll call Daphne, whom I loved very much. I wanted to marry Daphne. It took me a long time to realize that Daphne simply could not acknowledge my love. I did everything in my power to show her that I loved her. Daphne had such a poor image of herself, however, that she couldn't believe that anyone could love her. It didn't matter how much I professed my love to her, how many bouquets of flowers I sent her. She couldn't see my love. So, in a way, it wasn't there for her.

Everyone is thirsty for love, but how much love you can receive is dependent on how much you believe someone can love you. How much you believe is how much you receive. The more you acknowledge and believe in G-d the more you receive and see G-d in your life.

To the extent that we build our awareness, expand our consciousness, and acknowledge that G-d is the power directing the show, to that extent we see how G-d runs the show for us.

Each one of us has a choice. You can believe that this world is filled with the presence of G-d who cares about it and guides it. Or you can believe that this world is one big accident, a chaotic mess. The choice is yours. But remember what you believe is ultimately what you will see. What you believe creates the world you live in.

The Talmudic Sages taught: "Everything is in the hands of G-d except awe of G-d."

The Hebrew word for awe, yira, means both "awe" and "will see." Everything is in the hands of G-d, except for our acknowledging and seeing and being in awe of G-d. If we are in awe we will see G- d. If we are not in awe, if we are not open to seeing G-d, then G-d is not in our world. It's that simple and that serious.

Some people experience constant Divine presence, which means they see and feel G-d's care and guidance in their lives. They need $800 to pay for a car repair, and an unexpected check for $800 arrives in the mail. They miss a bus, so they get on the next bus, and the person they sit down next to turns out to be a friend from twenty years ago.

Why are such experiences not part of everyone's daily life? Because what you see is what you get.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

SECURITY


One particular thing I notice these days that is so different from when I was a child is the growth of an almost unhealthy pre-occupation with security. I do not just mean national and international security due to terrorism, although I will come to that later, I mean ordinary, every day activities. When I was a boy, no adult worried about me climbing trees or going off cycling on my own for miles. Indeed, when I was four, I climbed onto the roof of a greenhouse in the garden. Surprise, surprise, it would not take my weight and I bear the scar on my leg to this day! I am sure that had my parents seen what I was doing they would have stopped me but they did not because they felt it unnecessary to keep watching me all the time – “just in case”. The fall and the cut resulting from it were painful but no permanent damage was done and it certainly taught me not to climb on glass roofs again!

I and my friends would have died had our parents insisted on accompanying us to school every day. We walked, sometimes alone, sometimes together with friends but never with our parents. It was perhaps a thirty minute walk and there were potential dangers on the way; not just ill-intentioned adults (although there seemed to be an absence of those, then) but a canal and two busy roads to cross. I recall no-one being hurt – oh one or two ventured too near the canal, fell in and emerged wet and smelly but that was the worst that happened. Today, even quite grown up schoolchildren are driven to their schools by over-anxious parents and local authorities are so in fear of legal actions against them for negligence that they have removed any equipment from children’s playgrounds that carries the faintest risk of injury.

What has happened to us? As we have become more prosperous, we seem also to have become more fearful. Why? Life has never been and never will be risk free. Indeed it appears logical that it is through the risks with which we are faced and what we do to meet them that we learn. If life were completely risk free I believe it would become anodyne and uninteresting. I realise that anxious parents will point to the large number of attacks on unaccompanied children and the presence of various ne’er-do-wells in their community. There have always been sick people in communities but in former times we seemed to be able to handle them rather better. Perhaps, paradoxically, we cared more then? The change in attitude is epitomised by the equally fundamental change in adult behaviour towards the children of others and the attitude of the law in this area. When I was a boy, if you dared to misbehave in any way in the presence of an adult, you were reprimanded there and then. Indeed if there was a policeman about when you misbehaved, you would probably receive a clip around the ear and be sent on your way. If you dared to tell your parents about it, they would give you another clip on the assumption that you had deserved what you got from the policeman. Today even parents hesitate before disciplining their children in this way.

I can just hear some people muttering about sadism and licence to practice it when you are in uniform or are a parent but it wasn’t like that. There was a mutual sense of pride in our communities and that included how children behaved. Children are learning to be adults and they need rules to guide them. It is surely our responsibility to not only set such rules but also to supervise them? Today bullies and the like are arraigned before children’s courts and wear their arrest and trial like a badge and become folk heroes as a result, going on to become much worse as adults. Formerly, most such bullies had their violent tendencies knocked out of them as it were, although some did not. I am citing this merely to show it could well be a reason for the growth of parental fear and our preoccupation with security. There is a big downside to all this in my opinion. Because so much risk is removed from the pathway of children, when they grow up they either yearn to take any kind of risk, especially anti-social ones, or they become mentally incapable of overcoming even the smallest risk placed in their way. They have been so coddled they cannot accept the normal risks of life.

We seem to have abdicated personal responsibility for acceptable behaviour in our communities and handed it to officialdom, just as we have with our response to terrorism. We set up official bodies to oversee national security etc., and then wonder why so many petty regulations emerge! Give people an official title and they will feel obliged to justify their existence by introducing all kinds of rules, whether they help or hinder the policy they have been appointed to administer. I will not repeat what I said about our reaction to terrorists in an earlier blog but there is a strong case for arguing we have made the terrorists’ job much easier by over-reacting, by becoming too fearful. Maybe it is time for us to take stock and re-examine the whole question in the light of experience.

Should we perhaps encourage more risk taking by our children and become less anxious for their safety? This does not involve failing to warn them about risks beforehand and giving them advice on handling them By accepting more openly that life has risks we may begin to produce a far less fearful future generation! That wonderful person Helen Keller once pronounced on the matter of life and its risks and remember what she had to overcome to make her way in the world; this is what she said:-

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

Saturday, 2 October 2010

DANCING IN THE RAIN


I know that thanks to Gene Kelly, “Singing in the Rain” is more widely quoted. However, following on from yesterday’s shipwrecked sailor blog, I wanted to look in a bit more detail at how we react to difficult and unexpected circumstances in our lives; those occasions when nothing seems to have worked out as we expected and we feel lost, even betrayed sometimes. It is as though the flowing river of universal consciousness has passed us by, or at the very least, left us marooned in a pool far away from it. At times like this we discover that when the going gets really difficult, our own resources seem scarcely sufficient and any of those we hoped would help us, either cannot help very much or ignore us altogether. We are dependent upon our own devices; we feel abandoned to find our way out of the maze into which fate seems to have deposited us, all on our own.

Of course, although we do feel like that when the difficulties or challenges are extreme, we are never totally alone and how quickly it is before we become aware of those trying to help us both here and from the spiritual world, depends upon our attitude. The deeper we sink into self pity and blaming others for our plight, the more alone will we feel. Although we cannot see it, there is both a cause and a reason for us finding ourselves facing this challenge. Because we are only dimly aware of the real world, the spiritual world which is our true home, we tend to look for causes in the wrong places, in the short term, and as to reasons, we rarely become conscious of these until long after the event, if ever. This should teach us to take the long view more often but usually, the challenge we face is so acute, all rational thought deserts us. We bang around hitting out blindly, looking for things or people to blame and tend to waste far too much effort on this largely futile exercise.

It helps sometimes to look back on our lives and remember the occasions, during our youth especially, when things were difficult and see what happened to us subsequently. In many instances, we will find that the new circumstances though seeming difficult at the time, presented us with opportunities that we would never have been aware of before the difficulties arose. Why should the present situation be so different? Can we not by changing our thinking and our attitude transform the difficulty into an opportunity? It might seem impossible at first but if we try to relax, put negative reactions and thoughts out of our minds, and allow our inner light to guide us, it is amazing what can happen. We tend to make so many assumptions in life that it often conditions us against accepting change of any description. This is a shame because life is a dynamic experience. How boring it would be were our lives always predictable. Just think about those people you know who always act and react in predictable ways. Are they not, as a result, less interesting than those happy, relaxed people we know who never seem to react in the same way twice?

How do you measure up against such people? Do you accept life as it comes, adapting to changing circumstances as flexibly as you can or do you expect life to follow a fixed, invariable pattern? Do you have a wider outlook on life, realising that there is purpose behind everything? Do you accept that nothing happens by chance, no matter how difficult it might be to detect a cause? Do you have an inner conviction that physical life is not all there is, even if you cannot put that conviction into words and are not especially religious? If you do then you are well equipped to take advantage of opportunities that come your way, even when disguised as problems. You are also well equipped to allow yourself to be helped by those both here on earth and in the spiritual world that care deeply for us and always want to help. We are never alone, even when certain decisions have to be taken on our own initiative. Guidance is always available and often we accept it without being completely aware that we have been helped. This too is part of the wonderful, rich pattern of life.

So next time the rain clouds gather and it looks as if a terrible storm is approaching remember this:-

"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...it's about learning how to dance in the rain."