Custom Search

Friday, August 31, 2007

Beyond The Humps

A police officer told an all-too-common story. While on patrol, she was pleased one day to see a car sporting a bumper sticker that read, "Hang up and drive." She had witnessed too many accidents caused by motorists talking on cell phones.
Wanting to signal her approval to the driver, she pulled up alongside the car. When she glanced over, however, she was dismayed to see a man peering into his rear-view mirror -- while shaving! His crusade against using the phone while driving had apparently not extended to driving and shaving.
An African proverb states, "The camel never sees its own hump, but that of its brother is always before its eyes." And with humans, when those irritating faults of others are constantly before our eyes, we can likewise let them obscure our vision. We soon lose sight of the good and decent qualities of another, the true essence of who they are, and all we see is the "hump."
So what will you look at? Will you notice only so-called humps, or will you look beyond them to love and goodness? A good question to ask yourself is, "Do I choose to be a love finder or a fault finder?" For we can't do one while we're busy doing the other.
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Steve Goodier

Love and Gratitude

As I look back over my life, I recognize that everything that has ever happened to me has contributed to the person I am now. While I have gone through different professions, living situations, travels, and relationships, I see that each of them bestowed me with a gift. Even the painful or difficult times taught me lessons that make me a better person now. All of it has been a blessing.
It is important that we hold our past in a sense of reverence, along with the people we have known. If we resent our former spouse, employer, or friends, we are tied t the pain and unable to move forward. The hardship of the past will stay with us until we find a way to make it a gift; then it will empower us to move ahead.
Make a list of significant past events and relationships, and next to each entry note the gifts you received from that person or experience. If you are willing to find the good, you will. Assume that everyone who shows up in your life is here to bless you in some way. The other person may not know their role in your awakening, and they may serve you in ways quite unrelated to the reason you thought you interacted with them. Spirit’s intentions go far beyond human planning.
Then write a note or letter of gratitude to each person on your list. Thank them for the gifts they brought to you r life, and specifically describe how you have grown and improved your life as a result of your interaction with them. Be sure to include those who challenged you. While this writing is for our own illumination, you may send letters to the people when appropriate. By the time you finish your writing, you will be bursting with so much peace and joy that you will wonder how you could have ever thought anyone was your enemy.
Gratitude is the key to happiness: apply it to your past, and you will find friends you never knew you had.
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Alan Cohen

How To Improve Your Vision?

The English word "thanks" comes from the same root word as "think." But they not only share a similar background, they are related in another way. It seems the more we think, the more we thank. One woman illustrated the how thinking and thanking are related in a visit to the eye doctor.
She complained to her ophthalmologist that, as she grew older, her eyesight was getting worse. He examined her eyes and could not be encouraging about the future of her eyesight. But to his surprise, she did not seem to be upset. She told him all she was grateful for: her deceased husband; her children and their families; her friends; the many years she has enjoyed upon this earth; her vast library of memories. She had done a great deal of thinking about these things.
"My eyesight is getting worse," she summarized, "but I'm not going to fret over that."
Her doctor later made this observation: "Her eyesight is poor, but her vision is better than most people." She clearly saw what many never see -- all the good in her life. And she was content.
When we take time to think, and make time to thank, we see more clearly.
It sounds like a good way to improve your vision.
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Steve Goodier

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Needless Worry

A story worth dusting off is about a man who bragged: "I only worry about two things -- whether I am sick or well. If I'm well, I have nothing to worry about! And if I'm sick, I've only got two things to worry about -- whether I get better or whether I die. If I get better, I have nothing to worry about! And if I die, I've only got two things to worry about -- whether I go to heaven or hell. If I go to heaven, I have nothing to worry about. And if I go to hell, I'll be so busy greeting my friends I won't have time to worry! So why worry?"
Regardless of how you feel about his view of life after life, he makes a good point about worry! There is really no room for needless concern about the future. I like what Ralph Waldo Emerson said about worry:
Some of your hurts you have cured,
And the sharpest you still have survived,
But what torments of grief you endured
From evil that never arrived!
Almost without our being aware, healthy concern can be transformed into cancerous worry. And though it is true that most people worry needlessly at times, many of us feel consumed with worry too much of the time. We find ourselves "enduring torments of grief" from evils that have not yet arrived and probably never will.
What needless worries can you release today?
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Steve Goodier

What is Intuition?

Intuition is an incredible resource and gift that we have been given to help us live our best life. Unfortunately, not many people know what it is or how to use it. The word intuition means "in to you" in Latin. Florence Scovel, a theologian, once said, "Intuition is the spiritual faculty that doesn't explain; it seemingly points the way." It's also been said that intuition is your divine Spirit talking to you. If you will stop for a moment and acknowledge this, you will begin to realize the incredible perspective you have at your fingertips. You have this very amazing power! And you don't even have to get any special training to start using it. All you need to do is raise your awareness about it and set your intention to harness it.
Intuitive messages range from an inkling to a strong sign or message. Your inner self is persistent and consistent. It will keep trying to get your attention until you finally wise up! An inkling is like a glimmer or passing feeling/ thought that comes from somewhere inside and usually proceeds a hunch or intuitive message. A "hunch" is accurate information from a higher intelligence; therefore, you can rely on it. An intuitive message ranges from hearing actual words, seeing a clear picture, or a deep inner knowing. Some people experience intuition as a feeling, others a gut reaction, others will see images or have a dream, others hear an actual message. Become familiar with how your inner self communicates with you. Once you receive the message, check it out with your research and common sense.
The best ways to get in touch with your intuition are:
1. Be quiet
Practice taking time out every day to experience silence. Calm your mind with traditional or active meditation. Release your need to think, analyze, and know everything. The best information comes from the deep recesses of your soul.
2. Be open
Open to the gift of intuition and accept what is has to tell you. Many times, our ego thinks it has it "all figured out," but your true path may look very different than the one you are on. Being open to new possibilities and ways of living is key.
3. Be creative
There are many ways to be creative, painting, writing, dancing, designing a website, etc. Do something that helps you get into the "flow," that place where time seems to fly by and the work is leading you. Creativity is an expression of your soul and goes hand-in-hand with intuitive guidance.
4. Ask questions
When you ask yourself questions, you gain additional insight and clarity. When you ask a question like "What is the next step I need to take?" know that you already know what you need to know. Trust yourself. You already have everything you need inside.
5. Journal
When you write, you tap into thoughts, feelings, ideas and direction that you are not consciously aware of. Writing allows the truth to come forth and is an easy way to gain insight from your inner self.
You can further develop your intuitive guidance by preparing yourself by gathering the necessary information and experiences to provide more of an opportunity for your intuition to surface. Intuition cannot be forced; you need to allow it. After loading up your mind with information about the issue, give your intuition time to work on it. And then become open to the answer. You will likely experience an "Aha" moment, which is a moment of instant awareness, where the answer sprouts from "out of the blue." If you have an important decision to make and are not 100% sure about something happening, stop and think before making a decision. Usually this is your intuition trying to tell you that something is not quite right. Likewise, if you feel that you should go for it, do it, so you don't miss a valuable opportunity.
Intuition is your very own best friend. It is always there for you. It waits patiently for you. It gives the absolute best advice, and all you have to do is ask! Like any good friendship, all it takes to nurture it is a little time and attention. If you decide to be close and intimate with your intuition, I promise that your life will transform into something wonderful.
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Michelle L. Casto

Succeeding At "Ohana"

Two men met at a bus stop and struck up a conversation. One of them complained of family problems.
Finally, the other man said, "You think you have family problems? Listen. A few years ago I met a young widow with a grown-up daughter, and we got married. Later my father married my stepdaughter. That made my stepdaughter my stepmother and my father became my stepson. Also, my wife became mother-in-law of her father-in-law.
"Then the daughter of my wife, my stepmother, had a son. This boy was my half-brother because he was my father's son, but he was also the son of my wife's daughter, which made him my wife's grandson. That made me the grandfather of my half-brother.
"This was nothing until my wife and I had a son. Now the half-sister of my son, my stepmother, is also the grandmother. This makes my father the brother-in-law of my child, whose stepsister is my father's wife. I'm my stepmother's brother-in-law, my wife is her own child's aunt, my son is my father's nephew and I'm my own grandfather!
"And you think you have family problems!"
Sorting out his family could be a problem. But most family difficulties are of a different nature than simply figuring out who's who.
One of the most common complaints I hear from families is that they are not close. They may be close in proximity, but still not feel close as a family. They may live next door or in the same house, but not feel close emotionally.
Closeness is not about latitude; it's about attitude. We feel close when we feel understood, when we feel loved and when we simply enjoy being together. We may live far apart and still feel close, or we may share a home yet feel distant.
Closeness is a family trait that grows over time. It is planted by love, watered by honest sharing and fed by true listening. It grows slowly and sometimes takes years to mature; but its roots grow deep. It can weather most any storm and sustain a family through the most difficult of times.
I received a letter from a reader in Hawaii. She pointed out that the CEO of one of the island's largest banks was considering a run for governor. Since he is well-liked, he seemed to have a good chance of winning.
But, before filing papers, he changed his mind, stating that he wanted to spend more time with his family. Not that elected officials cannot be family-oriented, but he felt he needed more time at home than the job allowed.
Ronald A. Young, in the Honolulu Advertiser, said this about the candidate's decision: "No matter what you accomplish in the business world or the social world, if you fail 'ohana' [family], then you have not accomplished much. Failure or success does not lie in the material wealth you provide them. It is measured by what of yourself you give to them."
He made a decision to give the best of himself to "ohana." He chose family closeness first, despite pressure to put more time elsewhere. It's likely a decision he'll never regret.
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Steve Goodier

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Looking Through The Wrong End Of A Telescope

On the way to preschool, the doctor had left her stethoscope on the car seat, and her little girl picked it up and began playing with it.
"Be still, my heart," thought the doctor, "my daughter wants to follow in my footsteps!"
Then the child spoke into the instrument, "Welcome to McDonald's. May I take your order?"
Among the many lessons we can learn from children is the lesson about how to have fun. And for most children, fun is spelled F-A-N-T-A-S-Y. Their worlds of make believe are places of excitement and joy.
Writer Dr. Seuss said this about fantasy: "I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities."
One man spoke for too many of us when he said, "The prospect of a long day at the beach makes me panic. There is no harder work I can think of than taking myself off to somewhere pleasant, where I am forced to stay for hours and 'have fun.'" Are fun and fantasy part of your life, or is having fun just another fantasy?
What might happen if you decided to look at life through the wrong end of a telescope? What if you asked yourself "What if?" instead of "What now?" And how can you put more "fun" into your daily "functions"?
Wake up those brain cells! They'll thank you years from now.
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--2001 Steve Goodier

The Beauty Way

I guess I'm likely to put anything in my body!
I love spicy foods and Mexican foods in particular. I've "treated" friends to my favorite homemade spicy dishes. A typical reaction to a dish bathed in my hot sauce goes like this: they smile and enthusiastically try a bite; their eyes open far too wide, they begin to sweat profusely and reach for the water to put out the flames in their stomachs; then, when voice and reason return, they nod and politely say, "Tasty." They usually don't come back.
One person commented, "I've heard of people who preach hellfire, but you're the only one I know who hands out samples."
Well, maybe it's not quite that bad, but I'm likely to eat most any kind of food. And, though I exercise regularly, my body is starting to tell me to be more selective in my diet. I like the woman who stepped off the scale and was asked by her husband what the verdict was. "According to the height table," she replied, "I should be about six inches taller."
But more important than the food we put into our bodies are thoughts we put into our minds. Thoughts of bitterness like, "I HATE her!" Thoughts of despair like, "I'll never be happy again." Thoughts of fear like, "I could NEVER do that!" And thoughts of worry, thoughts of greed and thoughts of self-loathing. A constant diet of these killer-thoughts will destroy us long before cholesterol.
The Navajo people have an expression for this. They traditionally believe that how they fill their minds will shape their lives. So they want to fill their minds only with that which is good, harmonious and edifying. They speak of "thinking in the Beauty Way" -- ridding their minds of all that is destructive and filling them with that which is good and peaceful. The Beauty Way is the way of love and contentment, peace and kindness, patience and courage.
What are you putting into your mind? James Lane Allen has said, "You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you." Fill your mind with life-affirming thoughts and tomorrow will find you further along the Beauty Way.
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
-- Steve Goodier

Friday, August 24, 2007

Getting It Right

A young boy was sitting in the back seat of the car eating an apple. He poked his father in the front seat and asked, "Daddy, why does my apple turn brown?" His father answered, "When the skin is removed from the apple, air reaches the flesh of the apple and causes oxidation. This changes the apple's molecular structure and results in a brownish color.
After a long pause, a small voice from the back seat asked, "Daddy, are you talking to me?"
Too often I feel like that boy! I want answers. I want solutions to those confusing problems I run up against. I want someone to explain how to get through the difficult times and complex problems so that I can get it right! But I think I identify a bit more with the father whose daughter asked him if he would help her with some homework.
"I'm sorry," he replied. "It wouldn't be right."
"Well," she said, "at least you could try.
I don't have that many answers. And hard as I try, I can't ever get it all "right." But one of the most wonderful answers I do have is this:
I don't have to always get it right! I don't always have to know what to do in every new situation I encounter. All I am required to do is give it my best, learn from the experience and go on.
The affable Dr. Leo Buscaglia once said, "No one gets out of this world alive, so the time to live, learn, care, share, celebrate, and love is now." Which is pretty hard to do when you're waiting for the answers first.
So you got it wrong! So what? Forgive yourself and try again. For even if you won't get out of this world alive, you can get life – joyful and abundant-- out of this world.
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Steve Goodier

Making Pancakes

Six-year-old Brandon decided one Saturday morning to fix his parents pancakes. He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour canister, spilling it on the floor.
He scooped some of the flour into the bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and added some sugar, leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now had a few tracks left by his kitten.
Brandon was covered with flour and getting frustrated. He wanted this to be something very good for Mom and Dad, but it was getting very bad.
He didn't know what to do next, whether to put it all into the oven or on the stove and he didn't know how the stove worked! Suddenly he saw his kitten licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push her away, knocking the egg carton to the floor.
Frantically he tried to clean up this monumental mess but slipped on the eggs, getting his pajamas white and sticky.
And just then he saw Dad standing at the door. Big crocodile tears welled up in Brandon's eyes. All he'd wanted to do was something good, but he'd made a terrible mess. He was sure a scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking. But his father just watched him.
Then, walking through the mess, he picked up his crying son, hugged him and loved him, getting his own pajamas white and sticky in the process. That's how God deals with us. We try to do something good in life, but it turns into a mess. Our marriage gets all sticky or we insult a friend, or we can't stand our job, or our health goes sour.
Sometimes we just stand there in tears because we can't think of anything else to do. That's when God picks us up and loves us and forgives us, even though some of our mess gets all over Him.
But just because we might mess up, we can't stop trying to "make pancakes" for God or for others. Sooner or later we'll get it right, and then they'll be glad we tried...
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Author Unknown

A Letter from the ACEP President

At this time of global turbulence, I want to send each of you a personal greeting to encourage your holding inner peace and being centered. I feel a personal link to the complex suffering that is happening to our human community because this second Gulf War started on my birthday and I am a survivor of saturation bombing and street war in Berlin in WW II. Out of my experiences as a survivor, I want to share thoughts of resilience and courage in the face of this great unfolding tragedy.
May we each with energy balancing approaches bring a light of hope to ourselves and those around us! May we each learn to be spiritual peacemakers, releasing judgment and focusing on the highest good!
Here are a few suggestions for those of you who would like some practical ideas for overcoming helplessness and staying empowered.

* Be aware of any conflicts within yourself. This is an ideal time to reach out to others with your caring and compassion and to mend any personal rifts that may exist within your family or friends.
* Actively contribute to help someone in need.
* Treat yourself regularly with self-affirmations. For example, "Even though I feel fear and helplessness around me, I deeply and profoundly accept and respect the power within me and trust in my higher guidance."
* Connect with people who share your values and make sure they hold a sense
of humor and objectivity.
* Limit your media viewing time. Remember the media seek to arouse emotions so that we feel overwhelmed and intimidated and crave more media coverage. You can stop this addiction to adrenaline rush by limiting viewing time and focusing on peace building.
* Pray for the leaders of the world that they may open their hearts and minds to find resolution and to work for the greater good of all.
* Rather than looking for total triumphs or quick solutions, recall that historically through ongoing victories and defeats, ups and downs, our collective consciousness is growing. This is the first time that war has been questioned as a viable solution on a worldwide
scale. This is the first time that distress has been registered so visibly to everyone and we recognize we live on a fragile planet, our spaceship earth.
* Do the things that have meaning for you. Allow peace to grow within yourself. Feel the connection with the lightworkers of our Association, our worldwide network of energy healers.
In the spirit of peace and caring,
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
Dorothea, Dr. Dorothea Hover-Kramer, ACEP President

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Primary Responsibility

A friend confided in me that he was struggling to understand his responsibility in a world obsessed with war. I told him the answer is simple: choose peace.
While you cannot control the attitudes or actions of politicians or others, you have total control over the thoughts, feelings, and energy you are exuding. If you are steeped in fear, anger, a sense of victimization, or separateness, you are contributing to the darkness. If you hold a sense of peace, wholeness, compassion, kindness, and the presence of love, you are contributing to healing. As Kipling nobly penned, "If you can hold your head when all about you are losing theirs. . '
Mother Teresa was once asked to speak at an anti-war rally, and she refused. "If it were a pro-peace rally, I would attend," she explained. "But fighting against war, like fighting against anything, is just another form of war."
Ram Dass recounted that on his altar he has pictures of Christ, Buddha, and many other spiritual masters. He has recently added a photo of George W. Bush. Why? As Ram Dass explains, "Until I can find the same divinity in George W. Bush as I find in other holy beings, I am stuck. When I can see and honor his soul, then I am in a position to protest. Until then, I am ineffective."
The power of prayer and intention goes a long, long way. At any given moment the world situation is a precise expression of the consciousness of all the people who live here. As you shift your consciousness in the direction of peace, wholeness, and faith, you tip the balance in that direction. You literally become the tipping point for the world you would like to create.
Be less concerned with what you are doing and more concerned with how you are doing it. Actions that spring from fear or hatred, no matter how nobly clothed, create only more of the same. Actions that issue from faith and love, no matter how humbly clothed, create only more of the same.
A visionary thrives under all circumstances, for he or she sees beyond the obvious. At this time the world needs good visionaries. If you would save the world, begin with your own consciousness.
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Alan Cohen

Circles of Life

My grandfather took me to the fishpond on the farm when I was about seven, and he told me to throw a stone into the water. He told me to watch the circles created by the stone. Then he asked me to think of myself as that stone person.
"You may create lots of splashes in your life but the waves that come from those splashes will disturb the peace of all your fellow creatures," he said.
"Remember that you are responsible for what you put in your circle and that circle will also touch many other circles. You will need to live in a way that allows the good that comes from your circle to send the peace of that goodness to others. The splash that comes from anger or jealousy will send those feelings to other circles. You are responsible for both."
That was the first time I realized each person creates the inner peace or discord that flows out into the world. We cannot create world peace if we are riddled with inner conflict, hatred, doubt, or anger. We radiate the feelings and thoughts that we hold inside, whether we speak them or not. Whatever is splashing around inside of us is spilling out into the world, creating beauty or discord with all other circles of life.
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Author Unknown

The Faith Factor

I WENT TO PERFORM A WEDDING FOR MY GODDAUGHTER on the island of Hawaii. In order for me to return home to Maui that evening, I had to book the last flight out of Kona. The airline reservation agent informed me that I would have to change planes in Honolulu, and my connection time would be an illegal 25 minutes. If I missed my connection, the airline would not be responsible for me. Okay, I thought, I’ll take my chances. I love my Goddaughter and would not miss this opportunity.
I performed the ceremony and sat in the Kona airport reading an inspiring book, waiting for my flight. Suddenly a voice came over the loudspeaker announcing that my flight would be departing 15 minutes late. Hmmm. That whittled my time to change planes down to 10 minutes. My mind started to spin off into “what if” scenarios, but I decided to not go there and just practice trusting. Why waste precious moments of life worrying? I decided to use the experience as an opportunity to stay happy no matter what.
The plane took off late and I refused to look at my watch. I remembered one of my favorite quotes by Emerson: “The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear.” Instead of trying to dictate how things should work out, I simply asked for peace. I looked out the window and enjoyed the sunset.
We arrived 15 minutes late, I calmly exited the plane at Gate 53, and walked to the monitor to find out what gate my next flight was departing from. You can imagine my surprise when I saw that my flight was leaving from Gate 53. My flight to Maui was on the same plane I had just sat on! I laughed as I found my way to the very seat I had just left. No matter how late my first flight was, I would have been on the second flight.
I believe there was a direct connection between my practicing trust and the serendipitous result that occurred. Have you ever noticed that when you are impatient, frazzled, and upset, things go worse, and when you are relaxed, patient, and trusting, things go better? Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, taught that there is an Intelligent Power running the universe, and that Power responds to the thoughts we think in harmony with it. Thinking and acting with faith changes the results you get. When you find yourself in a situation in which you seem to have no control, point your thoughts toward peace, and the universe responds.
I met a waitress who had quit culinary school because she wanted to have a more direct connection with the people she served. “I can’t imagine being a chef creating wonderful dishes and not seeing people enjoy them,” she told me. In a sense, we are all like both the chef and the waitress. Part of us is creating our life by the inner thoughts we think, generating dishes – for better or worse – in private, and dispatching them out into world from behind a curtain. (“We think in secret, and it comes to pass; environment is our looking glass.”) But there is also a part of us that sees the dishes when they reach the table and we watch the expressions on the faces of those who receive them – including our own.
You have a very real relationship with God, a Force that responds to your every thought. Not that you are telling God how to run the universe; you are simply aligning with the Force for your good, or not aligning with it. The more aligned you are, the better your life goes. Unlike what you may have been told by fearful teachers, all God wants is for you to be happy. When that is all you want for yourself, that is what you will have.
I love the character in the movie Shakespeare in Love who kept telling worried people, “Somehow it will work out.” When they asked him how he knew, he would simply answer, “It’s a mystery!” To the mortal mind that thinks it has to control and figure everything out, how things will work out is indeed a mystery. Yet to the part of us that knows we are connected to Spirit, deeply worthy, and infinitely loved, it is a Universal Law. A Course in Miracles tells us, “Miracles are natural; when they don’t occur, something has gone wrong.” Einstein put it this way: “There are only two ways to look at life: One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle.” Once you become miracle-minded, they show up wherever you do.
Unity minister Eric Butterworth, while changing planes in Chicago, was informed that his connecting airplane was disabled, and passengers would be transferred to a smaller aircraft; passengers would be chosen for this flight by lottery. Most of the passengers became anxious and angry and lined up to do battle with airline agents. Rev. Butterworth decided to just relax. He saw one other fellow who was sitting calmly and went over to talk with him. When the airline finally announced the lottery selectees, he and the other calm fellow were called first.
Attitude is more influential than action. Attitude is a very powerful form of action. Faith is the most powerful form of attitude.
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Alan Cohen

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


You might remember comedian Yakov Smirnoff. When he first came to the United States from Russia he was not prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, “On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk -- you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice -- you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to my self, What a country!”
We live in a fast-paced world. We drive fast cars. We eat fast food. We live in the fast lane. We want it now. One old story tells of a judge who was in a benevolent mood as he questioned the prisoner. “What are you charged with?” he asked. “Doing my Christmas shopping early," replied the defendant. “That's no offense,” said the judge. “How early were you doing this shopping?” “Before the store opened,” countered the prisoner.
Few of us will go to those extremes to satisfy our desire to “get it now,” but we know what we want and we wish we could have it yesterday. We don't like to wait. Though there is certainly a place for decisiveness and action, there is also a place for patience. Have you learned when to wait?

Wait for the sunrise...there will be another day.
Wait for guidance...learn to be still.
Wait for will come with experience.
Wait for will come in the fullness of time.
Wait and be is a secret to inner peace.

There is a time to act, but there is also a time to wait. Learn how to tell what time it is, for great things can happen for those who learn to wait. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it well: “Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.”
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Steve Goodier


As I look back over my life, I recognize that everything that has ever happened to me has contributed to the person I am now. While I have gone through different professions, living situations, travels, and relationships, I see that each of them bestowed me with a gift. Even the painful or difficult times taught me lessons that make me a better person now. All of it has been a blessing.
It is important that we hold our past in a sense of reverence, along with the people we have known. If we resent our former spouse, employer, or friends, we are tied t the pain and unable to move forward. The hardship of the past will stay with us until we find a way to make it a gift; then it will empower us to move ahead.
Make a list of significant past events and relationships, and next to each entry note the gifts you received from that person or experience. If you are willing to find the good, you will. Assume that everyone who shows up in your life is here to bless you in some way. The other person may not know their role in your awakening, and they may serve you in ways quite unrelated to the reason you thought you interacted with them. Spirit’s intentions go far beyond human planning.
Then write a note or letter of gratitude to each person on your list. Thank them for the gifts they brought to you r life, and specifically describe how you have grown and improved your life as a result of your interaction with them. Be sure to include those who challenged you. While this writing is for our own illumination, you may send letters to the people when appropriate. By the time you finish your writing, you will be bursting with so much peace and joy that you will wonder how you could have ever thought anyone was your enemy.
Gratitude is the key to happiness: apply it to your past, and you will find friends you never knew you had.
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Alan Cohen

Who Are You Feeding?

A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: "Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time."
When asked which dog wins he reflected for a moment and replied, "The one
I feed the most."
Even more than that, the quality of our life reflects the choices we make. Those who feed the good dog seem to have a more enjoyable life- a life filled with positive things happening to us. Yes, there certainly is rain in every life, but how we perceive them makes all the difference in the quality.
Think about it... doesn't it seem that the people who gripe the most also seem to have the most challenges in life? Don't negatives seem to be attracted to them, whatever they put their hand to turns to dust?
And doesn't seem that those who are the luckiest tend to say they are lucky? Doesn't it seem like everything they touch turns to gold?
What you speak you get. It's just another way of stating the law of cause and effect, of reaping and sowing. So, the question is simple, which dog do you feed the most?
Moral stories can improve your moral values.
--Bob Brown

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Did you know that practicing some form of daily relaxation is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself? Taking a few minutes each day to quiet your mind and breathe deeply can make a big difference in how you feel throughout your day and into the night.
We're told that the word "relax" has its origin in the Latin word "relaxare," which means "to loosen." When we relax, we are in effect loosening tension, releasing tightly held energy and letting go. From the state of relaxation we can experience calm peacefulness.
Relaxation also means taking regular time off work. Extended periods of rest are a biological necessity. The human body is like an
old-fashioned wind-up clock. If it is not rewound by relaxing every few days, ultimately it will run itself down.
A group of Americans made a trip with Brazilian natives down the Amazon River. The first day they rushed. The second day they rushed. The next day they rushed. One day, anxious to continue the trek, they were surprised to find the natives seated together in a circle.
When asked the reason for the delay, a guide answered, "They are waiting. They cannot move further until their souls have caught up with their bodies."
Do you owe yourself time to let your soul catch up with your body?
--Steve Goodier

Love Letter To A Cat

A love letter to a cat? Why not? At least Andrew thought it might work. This is an actual love letter written by a boy to his cat.
But before you read the letter, you must understand this about the cat. She is about as affectionate as a cactus. And besides, she goes to great lengths to avoid Andrew. She would rather sleep the day away in one of her many hiding places scattered throughout the boy's house than be near him. And on one of those rare occasions when she makes an appearance, he can forget about touching her. If he never has anything to do with her, that is all right by the cat.
The boy tries his best to be nice. He looks for her, searching the house for an occupied hiding place, and feels abundantly grateful if he should stumble upon his treasure. He is occasionally allowed to stroke her once or twice before she flits off. He even feeds her, hoping to eventually win her confidence and perhaps even a bit of affection. But he is seldom rewarded with anything like attention.
Now that you know something about the cat, whose name is Mehitabel, by the way, what about the love letter? It was found next to the cat's food dish. This is what it said: "To cat (he couldn't spell Mehitabel!): I love you. Before you love me I will love you more.
Love, Andrew. Meow!"
What a selfless love! "I love you. Before you love me I will love you more." That is the kind of patient love a parent may have for a child. And the kind of love God has for us, God's children.
There is something beautifully excessive about a love that says, "Before you love me I will love you more." I believe we can use more excessive lovers!
--Steve Goodier

Why Peacocks Honk

One morning a pair of peacocks showed up at our back door and adopted us. We have no idea where they came from. They were a mated pair, a peacock and peahen, and they roamed the neighborhood together. We named them Alan and Dee.
The two were never more than a few feet apart. They were quiet, curious, and gorgeous to behold. So we just decided to enjoy them.
One afternoon I walked out onto the patio and startled peahen Dee. Flustered, she flew to the other side of the house, out of peacock Alan's sight. Suddenly she began to honk vociferously, and the other bird responded. Separated, the two tried to locate each other by calling to each other repeatedly.
The honking went on for about 20 minutes until Dee found her way around the back of the house and the two had a glorious reunion. It was touching, I tell you -- far better than Jerry Springer. Reunited, the couple spends their days with Alan displaying his feathers and Dee picking bugs off him.
I have taken lots of relationship seminars and dealt with lots of relationship questions and issues in my seminars and my life. But none ever as great as those two birds taught me. Their natural state, you see, was togetherness, or intimacy. When they got separated, the honking began. They were calling to their beloved.
When you feel lonely, separate, or outside of love, your pain and what you do in pain is your honk to be reunited with your beloved. A Course in Miracles tells us that every act is an expression of love or a call for love. What we do from joy expresses love; what we do from fear calls for love.
If you are hopelessly (or hopefully) romantic, you will interpret this story as a metaphor for your search for your beloved. And it is so. But there is more:
We have all been separated from God, or ourselves. Not really separate, but we feel that way. All of our searching and reaching out is our honking to be reunited. It's that simple. Put your notebook down, Sigmund. We just want to go home, and until we get there, we will keep honking.
February is the month for lovers. If you have a Valentine, honk to get a little closer. If you don't have one, honk to get a little closer to yourself. Fall in love with yourself, and you become irresistible to others. If you can't love the one you're with, be the one you love. If you decide to love who you are right where you are, you will be with the world's greatest lover.
--Alan Cohen

Monday, August 20, 2007

Conversation With God

I can remember once, when things were not going so well in my life, holding my head and thinking that I had no more money, and very little food, and that I didn’t know when I was going to eat my next square meal, or how I could pay my rent. That very evening I met a young couple at the bus station. I’d gone down to pick up a package, and there these kids were, huddled on a bench, using their coats for a blanket.

I saw them and my heart went out to them. I remembered when I was young, how it was when we were kids, just skimming by, and on the move like that. I walked over to them and asked them if they’d like to come over to my place and sit by a hot fire, have a little hot chocolate, maybe open up the day bed and get a good night’s rest. They looked up at me with eyes wide, like children on Christmas morning.

Well, we got to the house, and I made ‘em a meal. We all ate better that night than any of us had for quite a while. The food had always been there. The refrigerator was loaded. I just had to reach back, and grab all the stuff I’d shoved back there. I made an “everything-in-the fridge” stir fry, and it was terrific! I remember thinking, where did all this food come from?

The next morning I even gave the kids breakfast, and sent them on their way. I reached into my pocket as I dropped them off back at the bus station and gave them a twenty-dollar bill. “Maybe this will help,” I said, gave ‘em a hug and sent them on their way. I felt better about my own situation all day. Heck, all week. And that experience, which I have never forgotten, produced a profound change in my outlook and my understandings about life.

Things got better from there, and as I looked at myself in the mirror this morning, I noticed something important. I’m still here.

--Neale Donald Walsch

Law of Successful Living

I am impressed by an incident that happened during Ignace Paderewski's career. The famous Polish pianist agreed to play a concert organized by two Stanford University students working their way through school. Paderewski's manager said they would have to guarantee the artist a fee of $2,000. The boys agreed and eventually the concert was held.

Though the two student promoters worked hard, they took in only $1,600. Discouraged, they told Paderewski of their efforts and handed him the $1,600 with a note promising to pay him the balance of $400. But the artist tore up the note and gave them back the $1,600. "Take your expenses out of this," he said, "give yourselves each 10% of what's left for your work, and let me have the rest."

Years later, Paderewski was faced with feeding the people of his war-ravaged Poland. Amazingly, even before a request was made, thousands of tons of food were sent to Poland by the United States.

Paderewski later traveled to Paris to thank Herbert Hoover, who headed up the US relief effort. "That's all right, Mr. Paderewski," said Hoover, "I knew that the need was great. And besides, though you may not remember it, I was one of the two college students whom you generously helped when I was in need."

Paderewski reaped a harvest he had sown years before. And so it is. When we give, we receive. Maybe not exactly the thing we gave, and maybe not at the time it was given.

It is also true that when we give from our hearts, when we give in a spirit of love and compassion, we receive even more than we gave. It's a basic law of successful living. Powerful enough to change a life.

-Steve Goodier

Prescription For Peace

Many years ago, Dr. A. J. Cronin occasionally prescribed an unusual treatment for some of his patients who were feeling "blue," "down," or generally blah. He would insist that for six weeks the patient say, "Thank you" for every kindness and keep a record of it. According to Dr. Cronin, he had a remarkable cure rate!

If you find yourself depressed, please consult your medical doctor. But everyone gets down at times, and sharpening your sense of gratitude can make an important difference in the way you feel. Writer Arthur Gordon (Daily Guideposts, October 1983) told about asking a physician friend of his for the name of the most effective prescription he knew.

"Well, I'll tell you," his friend said. "A colleague of mine once had a woman patient who suffered from depression. Got to the point where she stayed at home all the time, listless, apathetic, indifferent to just about everything. The usual medications didn't seem to help. One day this doctor delivered a small package to the woman's home. "I want you to take what's in this package," he said, "and spend ten minutes of every day looking through it at some object in this room."

In the package there was a strong magnifying glass. The woman began looking through it at the warp and woof of the fabric on her sofa. She was amazed at what she saw! Then she examined the veins in a flower plucked from her garden, the color dots in an old photograph, and even the texture of her own skin. That was the turning point of her illness. She began to get well because the doctor and his "prescription" had aroused the most curative of all emotions - gratitude.

Sharpening your sense of gratitude is no less than a powerful prescription for peace.

--Steve Goodier

Friday, August 17, 2007

Attitude Determines Altitude

Unlike some things in life, we can choose our outlook. Sometimes we just need a reminder that happiness can often simply be a result of choosing attitudes:
"I woke up early today, excited over all I get to do before the clock strikes midnight. I have responsibilities to fulfill today. My job is to choose what kind of day I am going to have.
"Today I can complain because the weather is rainy or I can be thankful that the grass is getting watered for free.
"Today I can feel sad that I don't have more money or I can be glad that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases wisely and guide me away from waste.
"Today I can grumble about my health or I can rejoice that I am alive.
"Today I can lament over all that my parents didn't give me when I was growing up or I can feel grateful that they allowed me to be born.
"Today I can cry because roses have thorns or I can celebrate that thorns have roses.
"Today I can mourn my lack of friends or I can excitedly embark upon a quest to discover new relationships.
"Today I can whine because I have to go to work or I can shout for joy because I have a job to do.
"Today I can complain because I have to go to school or eagerly open my mind and fill it with rich new tidbits of knowledge.
"Today I can murmur dejectedly because I have to do housework or I can feel honored because God has provided shelter for my mind, body, and soul.
"Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped. And here I am, the sculptor who gets to do the shaping. What today will be like is up to me.
"I get to choose what kind of day I will have!"

(Author unknown)

Goof Off!

Recently I signed up with a new trash removal service which requires each rural customer to mark their address on their garbage cans. I bought a can of white spray paint, etched my street number on the plastic can, and drove it to the end of my road where I left the garbage. When I got home I was irked to notice that some of the white paint had rubbed off on the back of my seat; apparently it had not fully dried. I tried to remove the paint, but could not - it was stuck fast.
Over the next weeks and months, every time I noticed the paint marks on the back of the seat, I felt foolish; the voice of judgment chided me, "If you had paid closer attention and left more time for the paint to dry, this wouldn't have happened. Now you have ruined your car seat, and every time you look at it, you are to be reminded of your carelessness." (Do you know this voice?)
Then one day I was in a hardware store with a friend who was looking for some paint. On a shelf I noticed a small can called "Goof Off," - a remover of paint and other hard-to-get-out stains. I grabbed a can, took it home, and applied it to the defiant stain. To my delight, it worked.
I now see this product - especially its name - as symbolic of forgiveness. The name acknowledges that you made a mistake ("goof") - but it also acknowledges that it can be undone ("off"). If you have been subject to the tyranny of guilt, this offers an especially important lesson. A Course in Miracles distinguishes between a sin and an error: a sin requires punishment, but an error simply requires correction. The Course goes on to tell us that we have made many errors, but we have never sinned. All of our sins ("Self-Inflicted Nonsense") are undone the moment we step into the healing light of love.
The story is told about a woman named Josephine who claimed to have daily conversations with Jesus. A cynical priest heard about this woman and sought to debunk her. He went to Josephine and asked her, "Is it true that you talk to Jesus every day?"
"Yes, I do," she answered affirmatively.
"Then the next time you talk to Jesus, would you ask him what was the sin I committed when I was in the seminary?" The priest left smugly, certain that he had cornered the charlatan into exposure.
A week later the priest returned and asked Josephine, "Did you ask Jesus what was my sin?"
"Yes, I did," she answered.
"And what did he say?" asked the priest.
"He said, 'I forgot'."
There is no sin so heinous that it cannot be undone by regarding it through the eyes of compassion. Love has no consciousness of our sins; God sees us only as pure and innocent souls. It is we who have fabricated the concept of sin and crushed our life force under it. A Course in Miracles tells us that "God does not forgive because He never has condemned." In the inspiring movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon, the Pope tells St. Francis, "In our obsession with Original Sin, we have overlooked Original Innocence."
All self-judgment can be undone by recognizing that we deserve only love. I met a man who, during his senior year in college, was walking past the college bookstore where he saw a large display of yearbooks just outside the store. As this fellow had no money, he grabbed a book and kept walking. Over the next few days he began to feel guilty about his theft, and he decided to return the book and confess. He went to the bookstore manager and guiltily admitted, "I stole this book."
The manager smiled and told him, "Come with me." The manager led the student to the display where there was a sign that the young man had not seen: "Free - please take one."
I am not suggesting that you go out and steal anything or hurt anyone. This true story serves as a metaphor: for every sin you can find about your life, God can find a way to forgive it. For every way you have separated yourself from love, higher consciousness reminds you that you have never for a moment been outside of love's embrace. And for every paint stain that you berate yourself for leaving, there is a can of Goof Off to remove it.

-- Alan Cohen

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Forget The Duck

Richard Hoefler, in his book WILL DAYLIGHT COME?, tells about two young children visiting their grandparents for the summer. Johnny was given his first slingshot. He practiced shooting in the woods, but missed everything he aimed at.

As he returned to Grandma's back yard, however, he spied her pet duck. It wasn't the only duck she kept, but it was her favorite. On an impulse he took aim and let it fly. This time he didn't miss. His stone struck and killed the duck.

The boy panicked. He didn't mean to hurt the bird -- he was even sure he'd miss! But he had killed it. His panic grew to desperation and he hid the duck in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing to her grandparents.

After lunch that day Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes." Sally said, "Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn't you Johnny?" She whispered to him, "Remember the duck." So Johnny did the dishes.

Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing. Grandma said, "I'm sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper." Sally smiled and said, "That's all taken care of, Johnny wants to do it." Again she whispered, "Remember the duck." Johnny stayed while Sally went fishing.

Johnny did both his chores and Sally's for several days, and could stand it no longer. He confessed to Grandma that he'd killed the duck.

She said, "I know Johnny." She gave him a big hug and added, "I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. But because I love you, I forgave you. I just wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave of you."

His grandmother was more ready to forgive then he was even to ask for forgiveness. The arms of many people, and I believe God, are open wide, waiting for us to experience a warm embrace of acceptance. But a disturbing inner voice often whispers, "Remember the duck. Remember the duck." Some people live their whole lives enslaved by that voice that says, "Remember the duck." They never let themselves be forgiven!

They don't know the meaning of deep peace. They are seldom free of guilt and feel as if happiness only comes to others more deserving.

What does it matter if the whole world were to love us, and accept us in spite of our failings, if we persist in feeling badly? Are you sick of feeling sick about the mistakes of your past?

Maybe it's time to forget the duck! After you've done all you can to rectify the past, then it's time to put it down. Forget the duck! After, too, deserve to be happy.
--Steve Goodier

Retiring Carpenter

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.
The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career. When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter.
"This is your house," he said, "my gift to you." What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.
So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built. If we had realized that we would have done it differently. Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity.

The plaque on the wall says, "Life is a do-it-yourself project."
Who could say it more clearly? Your life today is the result of your attitudes and choices in the past. Your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitudes and the choices you make today.

--Author Unknown

The Forgotten 10 Other Commandments


Thou shall not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities.
Thou shall not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass.
Thou shall not cross bridges before you come to them, for no one yet has succeeded in accomplishing this.
Thou shall face each problem as it comes. You can only handle one at a time anyway.
Thou shall not take problems to bed with you, for they make very poor bedfellows.
Thou shall not borrow other people's problems. They can better care for them than you can.
Thou shall not try to relive yesterday for good or ill, it is forever gone. Concentrate on what is happening in your life and be happy now!
Thou shall be a good listener, for only when you listen do you hear different ideas from your own. It is hard to learn something new when you are talking, and some people do know more than you do.
Thou shall not become "bogged down" by frustration, for 90% of it is rooted in self-pity and will only interfere with positive action.
Thou shall count thy blessings, never overlooking the small ones, for a lot of small blessings add up to a big one.

--Author Unknown

Joy You Need

Thomas Aquinas once said, "No one can live without joy." But many people try. And the reason is often simply because they don't know how to be happy! They are so intent on the three Ps -- power, prosperity and prestige -- that they miss out on joy.

Try to imagine this picture. It is a photograph taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson, who pioneered modern photography as an art form during the early decades of the 20th Century. He became known for his photographs of apparent contradictions: pictures that left mysteries unexplained.

One of his famous photographs was shot in a poor section of Spain in the 1930s. The picture depicts a run-down alley surrounded by decaying walls, strewn with rubble randomly stacked in thick piles lying on the street, and riddled with bullet holes dotting gray walls. The setting alone evokes feelings of sadness and despair.

But then...the contradiction. Within the grim alley children are playing. They wear dirty and tattered clothes, as one might expect in such a setting, but like playing children everywhere, they laugh with carefree joy. In the foreground, a tiny boy on crutches hobbles away from two other boys, his face lit up with a broad grin. One boy is laughing so hard he has to hold his side. Others lean on the cracked walls, beaming with delight.

It is easy to spot the contrast -- and the point. Joy amidst the rubble of life. Laughter amongst its ruins.

We cannot avoid pain, however hard we try. But we can avoid joy.
We cannot escape hardship and trouble, but we can miss out on much of life's peace and laughter.

If you feel as if you could use more joy, try this:

Spend time daily doing something you enjoy.
Do those things that bring inner peace.
Learn to laugh heartily and frequently.
Cultivate within yourself an attitude of hope.
Fill each day with as much love as it can possibly hold.

You'll still have plenty of problems, but through it all, you'll find all you joy you will ever need.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Important To Be Kind

You've heard it said, "Be nice to your kids. They'll choose your nursing home." Well, there may be other and more important reasons for being careful how we treat one another.

I think that U.S. industrialist Charles M. Schwab may have gotten it right. At age 72, Schwab was sued for a large sum of money. Many high-profile persons would have settled out of court, but Schwab went through with it and eventually won the suit.

Before he left the witness stand, he asked permission of the court to make a statement of a personal nature.

This is what he said: "I am an old man, and I want to say that ninety percent of my troubles have been due to my being good to other people.

If you younger folk want to avoid trouble, be hard-boiled and say no to everybody. You will then walk through life unmolested, but…" and here a broad smile lit up his face, "you will have to do without friends, and you won't have much fun."

Maybe that's why Henry James said, "Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." It's a vital part of a whole and happy life.

This reading is found in Steve Goodier's popular book


Fulton Sheen once said, "Baloney is flattery laid on so thick it cannot be true, and blarney is flattery so thin we love it." There is a wide gap, however, between blarney and a sincere compliment.
Eleanor Roosevelt's mother, Anna, was deeply disappointed in her daughter's looks and demeanor. She often called young Eleanor “Granny." To visitors, she would say, "She is such a funny child, so old-fashioned that we always call her Granny."
"I wanted to sink through the floor in shame," an older and wiser Eleanor later recalled.
Adding to the cruel remarks, Anna told her young daughter, "You have no looks, so see to it that you have manners." Yet despite the obvious disappointment that Anna felt for her daughter, Eleanor forever wanted her mother's approval. Unfortunately, Anna died on December 7, 1892, at the age of 29, when her daughter was only eight.

At any age, sincere compliments and acts of appreciation feel like a warm fireside on a cold night. They melt away icy pain; they invigorate and refresh. We often remember them for years and they have remarkable power to influence future behavior.

One man lived by this motto: Never let a day go by without giving at least three people a compliment. It can give a whole new meaning to "comp time"! If you question the value of this exercise, give it a try. I think you will discover other people responding better to you, and you will experience a growing appreciation for the people in your life. And don't be surprised if, days or even years later, you learn how your words deeply affected someone in a significant way.

Remember, only three kinds of people respond well to a sincere compliment -- men, women and children.

Homing Instinct

Did you know that the Arctic Tern, that lives about seven degrees south of the North Pole, leaves its home every year and flies all the way to Antarctica and back -- some 23,000 miles in all.
I wonder WHY the bird does that…. Is it looking for a better place to live? Surely it must pass a LOT of good real estate between its home seven degrees south of the North Pole and Antarctica! Can't it find something suitable? Is Antarctica really that much better? Or, if it's getting a little warm, why doesn't the bird just fly up to the North Pole?
But that's not the point. The point is that the bird returns home -- home to its special place near the North Pole. It flies all that distance and returns to just the same spot it once left. I can hardly drive across town without getting lost -- how does it do it? Twenty three thousand miles! But somehow, the Arctic Tern possesses the ability to fly halfway around the globe and return home every year.

You know that the salmon leaves her little mountain stream as a fingerling and swims, perhaps hundreds of miles, to the ocean where she lives. Then, when it's time to lay eggs, she swims back to her place of birth. She somehow finds just the right river, and all of the correct tributaries and streams and creeks until she arrives home. It's the trip of a lifetime -- one she may not survive. But she presses on, somehow knowing just the right paths to take along the way.
Like the arctic tern, the salmon possesses a built-in ability to find her way home.

So it is with humans. Not in a physical sense, for many of us can't get anywhere without a map. But we have a built-in ability to successfully navigate the twists and turns of life. When we feel lost and confused about a path we should take or a decision to be made, those answers we need we usually possess -- deep inside. As we learn to be still and listen, we most often can find our way home again.

Dear God, please help me to accept the truth about myself today, no matter how beautiful it is.

Are you using your homing instinct?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Strength is the Test

There is an old story of an astrologer who came to a king and said, 'You are going to die in six months.' The king was frightened out of his wits and was almost about to die then and there from fear. But his minister was a clever man, and this man told the king that these astrologers were fools. The king would not believe him. So the minister saw no other way to make the king see that they were fools but to invite the astrologer to the palace again. There he asked him if his calculations were correct. The astrologer said that there could not be a mistake, but to satisfy him he went through the whole of the calculations again and then said that they were perfectly correct. The king's face became livid. The minister said to the astrologer, 'And when do you think that you will die?' 'In twelve years', was the reply. The minister quickly drew his sword and separated the astrologer's head from the body and said to the king, 'Do you see this liar? He is dead this moment.'

If you want your nation to live, keep away from all these things. The only test of good things is that they make us strong.

The Bugle Sound

To worship is inherent in every man's nature; only the highest philosophy can rise to pure abstraction. So man will ever personify his God in order to worship Him. This is very good, as long as the symbol, be it what it may, is worshipped as a symbol of the Divinity behind and not in and for itself. Above all, we need to free ourselves from the superstition of believing because 'it is in the books'… There was once a stag, proud and free, and he talked in a lordly fashion to his child, 'Look at me, see my powerful horns! With one thrust I can kill a man; it is a fine thing to be a stag!' Just then the sound of the huntsman's bugle was heard in the distance, and the stag precipitately fled, followed by his wondering child. When they had reached a place of safety, he inquired, 'Why do you fly before man, O my father, when you are so strong and brave?' The stag answered, 'My child, I know I am strong and powerful, but when I hear that sound, something seizes me and makes me fly whether I will or no.' So with us. We hear the 'bugle sound' of the laws laid down in the books, habits and old superstitions lay hold of us; and before we know it, we are fast bound and forget our real nature which is freedom.

For The Time of Your Life

Malcolm Forbes once said, "Unless you're serving time there's never enough of it." It's true! Time is the greatest commodity we have. We may be able to make more money, but we will eventually run out of time.

Writer Carl Sandburg advised, "Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."

One man must have been thinking about this when he took a time management seminar. A true story has it that the instructor asked everyone in the class to make a list of ten major time-wasters. The eager young man raised his hand and inquired, "Is it necessary to identify the individuals by name?"

How we use time is important, and only you can determine what is a good use of your time. But if we are not clear about how we want to spend our time, other people will be all too happy to spend it for us.

Those who take charge of their time have learned to say "no" to some things that will have enough time left to say "yes" to that which is more fulfilling. THEY decide how to fill their days up - THEY take charge. THEY determine what is an important use of their time.

This is not to say that every minute should be used in productive pursuits. I like Bertrand Russell's observation: "The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." Why not? Because time you spend doing something that brings you pleasure can be an excellent way to spend some of the day.

Only you can choose how your time will be spent. You will use it for work as well as play; for pursuing your dreams as well as relaxation; for self improvement, for inner growth and to give away to others. Much of your time you will feel you spent well. Some of it you may feel you could have used differently. But all of it ought to be spent as YOU determine. For there are few things you will regret more than to look back and wonder why you spent so much time doing what
others want.

For the time of your life is YOUR life. And your time.

Attracting People To You

In West Virginia folklore there is a story of a country doctor who was called out to a holler late one night to assist a woman about to give birth. By the time the doctor arrived at the farmhouse, things had progressed to a point where the doctor asked the husband to help him by holding a gas lantern up high in order to illuminate the makeshift delivery room.

Before long, the courageous mother delivered a healthy baby boy.

As the father lowered the lantern, the doctor barked an order to keep the lantern aloft: "We're not done yet." Shortly, a second child appeared on the scene, a healthy baby girl. Shaken by the unexpected arrival of twins, the father heard the doctor say once again, "We can't stop now. It looks as if it's going to be triplets." To which the stunned father, still holding the lantern high, replied, "Do you think it's the light that's attracting them?"

Light has a quality of attraction. I recently left my office door open late one afternoon in our mountain home and, at dusk, the light from within attracted -- a hummingbird! (Coaxing a hummingbird out of the house is a little like pushing a rope. Mostly, whatever you do doesn't work.)

You, too, have a light that inner light. Not visible to the naked eye, but apparent just the same. We speak of a "twinkle" in the eye or a "flicker" of warmth in the heart.

Some people shine with a light of kindness. Others emit a light of hope. There are those who glow with enthusiasm and still others who radiate love.

Almost all creatures are drawn to light, including humans. Do you want to attract people to you? Positive and life-affirming inner qualities can attract people like a warm fire on a cold night.

What will draw other people to you best cannot be purchased in any department store. They will respond to that which radiates from within.

You may not always see it, but your light is shining through. And it's one of your most attractive qualities!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bound To Forgive (Fr. Lawrence Martin Jenco)

In 1984, Fr. Jenco traveled to Beirut, dedicated to help the poorest of the poor. On January 8, 1985, he was kidnapped by Shiite Muslim extremists and held hostage for 564 days. He endured imprisonment, beatings, illness and heartbreaking periods of sorrow and loneliness. Several years after his release, he wrote a book (BOUND TO FORGIVE, Ave Maria Press, 1995) about his experiences in captivity and, more importantly, about the power of love and forgiveness.

Fr. Jenco tells about being taped like a mummy from his ankles to the top of his head each time he was transported from one place to another. He described being forced to breathe only from his nose as his mouth was stuffed with a cloth and taped shut.

He tells of times when his captors said they were going to kill him and he waited for the bullet to go through his head. Other times he was dressed up and told he was going home, only to have his spirits dashed when he was later informed they were just kidding.

He remembers being chained hand and foot, donning a plastic bag on his head, and left in a two-foot by six-foot closet. And he remembers his stench when he was denied washing for over four months.

He was later asked what lesson those of us who haven't been in such a position can learn from his experience and apply to our daily living. He said, "Just look at the madness that goes on in the world today. We lug our hates and our bigotry and prejudices from generation to generation and we pass [them] on.... We [must] stop and look at each other and say, 'I am so sorry for the hurt I caused you. I ask your forgiveness.' And then [we must] extend forgiveness and...receive forgiveness. Somewhere along the line we are going to have to do that. We're all bound to forgive."

Fr. Jenco has forgiven and can attest to the power of forgiveness. And though our hurt may not be the same as his, it is no less real. We, too, are "bound" to forgive. For when we covenant with life to earnestly forgive whatever hurts come our way, we see amazing results. We find inner peace and, often, improved physical health as well. As Dr. O. A. Battista says, "One of the most lasting pleasures you can experience is the feeling that comes over you when you genuinely forgive an enemy -- whether he knows it or not."

Genuine forgiveness is crucial if we are to be at peace. Whether or not it restores a broken relationship, it sets our own hearts free. Those who will be bound by the promise to sincerely forgive, will be freed from the bonds of the past. Bound by love, they are be happy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Thankfulness by Oprah Winfrey

I live in the space of thankfulness - and I have been rewarded a million times over for it. I started out giving thanks for small things, and the more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased.
That's because what you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.
"Say thank you!" Those words from my friend and mentor Maya Angelou turned my life around. One day about ten years ago, I was sitting in my bathroom with the door closed and the toilet lid down, booing and ahooing on the phone so uncontrollably that I was incoherent. "Stop it! Stop it right now and say thank you!" Maya chided. "But - you don't understand," I sobbed. To this day, I can't remember what it was that had me so far gone, which only proves the point Maya was trying to make. "I do understand," she told me. "I want to hear you say it now. Out loud. 'Thank you.'" Tentatively, I repeated it:
"Thank you - but what am I saying thank you for?"
"You're saying thank you," Maya said, "because your faith is so strong that you don't doubt that whatever the problem, you'll get through it. You're saying thank you because you know that even in the eye of the storm, God has put a rainbow in the clouds. You're saying thank you because you know there's no problem created that can compare to the Creator of all things. Say thank you!"
So I did - and still do. Only now I do it every day.
I kept a gratitude journal, as Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests in Simple Abundance, listing at least five things that I'm grateful for. My list includes small pleasures: the feel of Kentucky bluegrass under my feet (like damp silk); a walk in the woods with all nine of my dogs and my cocker spaniel Sophie trying to keep up; cooking fried green tomatoes with Stedman and eating them while they're hot; reading a good book and knowing another awaits.
My thank-you list also includes things too important to take for granted: an "okay" mammogram, friends who love me, 15 years at the same job (and loving it more than the first day I started), a chance to share my vision for a better life, staying centered, having financial security. I won't kid you, having money for all the things I want is a blessing. But as I look back over my journals, which I've kept since I was 15 years old, 99 per cent of what brought me real joy had nothing to do with money. (It had a lot to do with food, however.)
It's not easy being grateful all the time. But it's when you feel least thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you: PERSPECTIVE. Just knowing you have that daily list to complete allows you to look at your day differently, with an awareness of every sweet gesture and kind thought passed your way. When you learn to say thank you, you see the world anew. And as Meister Eckhart so eloquently stated:

"If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is 'Thank you’ that would suffice."

A Humble Spirit

In his own eyes, Mike was the most popular guy around. "A lot of women are gonna be totally miserable when I marry," he boasted to his date.
"Really?" she said. "And just how many women are you intending to marry?"
What passes for conceit in many people is often just a plea for attention. A poor sense of self may cause one to want to be the prominent star in every constellation. Humility, on the other hand, does not require that one shine less brightly than others, simply that all be given opportunity to shine.
That great African American educator Booker T. Washington exemplified the beauty of a humble spirit. James Moore tells us in his book Standing on the Promise or Sitting on the Premises (Dimensions for Living, 1995) that one day as Professor Washington was walking to work at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he happened to pass the mansion of a wealthy woman.
The woman, who did not recognize him, called out, "Hey you! Come here! I need some wood chopped!" She was a product of her culture and simply perceived him as a black man who was there to do her bidding.
Without a word, Dr. Washington peeled off his jacket, picked up the ax and went to work. He not only cut a large pile of wood, he also carried the firewood into the house and arranged it neatly.
He had scarcely left when a servant said to the woman, "I guess you didn't recognize him, ma'am, but that was Professor Washington!"
Embarrassed and ashamed, the woman hurried over to Tuskegee Institute to apologize. The great educator humbly replied: "There's no need to apologize, madam. I'm delighted to do favors for my friends!"
The professor taught a marvelous lesson that day. He felt no need to convince her that he, too, was a bright star in the constellation.
Author Ken Blanchard puts it this way: "Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. It means you think of yourself less."

--Steve Goodier,

Sympathy And Compassion

This is the story of Mary Janes's brother Gary who lived in New Orleans. Gary decided to stay with the house. His wife Sherril and son Adam went to the Aunt’s house in Mississippi. Gary lives in Metairie (Jefferson Parish) 9 miles from New Orleans.

Gary opened his neighbor’s gate and drove his van up a ramp in between the two houses to shelter his van. He hunkered down with his animals and weathered the storm. He had about 4 feet of water in his house. He went out after the storm and walked in the water with his neighbors and floated the big trees out of the road. The second day the water receded, and he got his van out and went to look for people needing help. The first days he was shuttling as many as he could get in the van to the rescue point. FIMA was air dropping food and water, so he would load his van and drive up and down the streets honking his horn. People came out with tears in their eyes and took the food and water; it was like he was sent from heaven. By the third day he had a route of more then 800 people that were receiving food and water. The fourth day or fifth day the media had a big deal about black people in New Orleans that were being left behind due to color. Gary showed up to load his van to deliver food and a new police officer had been assigned to the drop off point and said he couldn’t have any food or water because it is ONLY for New Orleans. The FIMA guys and National Guard guys that had been there every day and knew what Gary was doing; were getting into a big fight. So finally Gary was given a few cases of water and food and the police officer followed him to see what he was doing. He saw the people come out for help they realized he was doing an incredible job saving lives. The next day he showed up and they signaled him to drive his van around back past the line (2.5 hour line waiting time) and they brought over a fork lift and they were pumping the food and water into his van. The police were giving him addresses of people that had called 911 for help.

At night Gary went to his neighbor’s house down the street. He has a generator and a lot of rescue workers would gather and talk about the events of the day. He said it was like a movie. Everyday was more incredible.

Gary lives three blocks down from Lake Ponchatrain. He walked down the street and climbed up on the levy only to see the huge hole in the levy. He saw helicopters dropping huge sand bags into the opening. He said it looked like a quarter dropping into a bathtub. The hole was not made by the hurricane directly but it was a barge. The barge was used to build the bridge and was supposed to be sunk prior to the hurricane. The pumps that normally run to maintain the water were evacuated, turned off and they left the gates open. The water was rushing out into the city. They claimed the roof was torn off and the pumps were under water. Not true.

Gary said there was one radio station that was only hurricane news 24/7. He was surprised so many were left behind. He said the politicians knew the people were unable to get out, because on Election Day there were buses sent to shuttle them to the poles. So they new the people didn’t have the means to get out.

He also said FIMA was there from day one. He saw three Red Cross trucks come in one day they unloaded food and water and he never saw Red Cross again. He also commented on the only politician that was there front and center was the Mayor of New Orleans. Everyone else was talking a big story on the news.

Yesterday Gary organized three separate pick up points for the public to go and get food and water in their neighborhoods. Then he spent the day dropping off the supplies directly to the three pick up points.

I thank God Gary was there to help save so many people. He has spent at least $800.00 on gas driving over 70 miles to refuel and keep going. He said for the first time in his life money meant nothing. It was the tears of joy when he came with food and water that made the whole experience worth it.

Sympathy sees and says, "I'm sorry." Compassion sees and says, "I'll help."

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Balance in Life

In a university commencement address several years ago, Brian Dyson, CEO of Coca Cola Enterprises, spoke of the relation of work to one's other commitments:
"Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them--work, family, health, friends and spirit and you're keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls - family, health, friends and spirit are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life. How?
1. Don't undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special.
2. Don't set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you.
3. Don't take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling to them as you would your life, for without them, life is meaningless.
4. Don't let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live ALL the days of your life.
5. Don't give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.
6. Don't be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us to each together.
7. Don't be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.
8. Don't shut love out of your life by saying it's impossible to find. The quickest way to receive love is to give; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly; and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.
9. Don't run through life so fast that you forget not only where you've been, but also where you are going.
10. Don't forget that a person's greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.
11. Don't be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.
12. Don't use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved.
Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way.”

Guru Nanak's Insight

That drill business in the temples and churches--kneeling down at a certain time, standing at ease, and all that drill nonsense, all mechanical, with the mind thinking of something else--all this has nothing to do with real religion.There was a great prophet in India, Guru Nânak, born [some] four hundred years ago. Some of you have heard of the Sikhs--the fighting people. Guru Nanak was [the founder and also] a follower of the Sikh religion.
One day he went to the Mohammedans' mosque. These Mohammedans are feared in their own country, just as in a Christian country no one dare say anything against their reli gion. . . . So Guru Nanak went in and there was a big mosque, and the Mohammedans were standing in prayer. They stand in lines: they kneel down, stand up, and repeat certain words at the same times, and one fellow leads. So Guru Nanak went there. And when the mullah was saying "In the name of the most merciful and kind God, Teacher of all teachers", Guru Nanak began to smile. He says, "Look at that hypocrite". The mullah got into a passion. "Why do you smile?"
"Because you are not praying, my friend. That is why I am smiling."
"Not praying?"
"Certainly not. There is no prayer in you."
The mullah was very angry, and he went and laid a complaint before a magistrate and said, "This heathen rascal dares to come to our mosque and smiles at us when we are praying. The only punishment is instant death. Kill him".
Guru Nanak was brought before the magistrate and asked why he smiled.
"Because he was not praying."
"What was he doing?" the magistrate asked.
"I will tell you what he was doing if you will bring him before me."
The magistrate ordered the mullah to be brought. And when he came, the magistrate said, "Here is the mullah. [Now] explain why you laughed when he was praying".
Guru Nanak said, "Give the mullah a piece of the Koran [to swear on]. [In the mosque] when he was saying 'Allah, Allah', he was thinking of some chicken he had left at home".
The poor mullah was confounded. He was a little more sincere than the others, and he confessed he was thinking of the chicken, and so they let the Sikh go. "And", said the magistrate [to the mullah], "don't go to the mosque again. It is better not to go at all than to commit blasphemy there and hypocrisy. Do not go when you do not feel like praying. Do not be like a hypocrite, and do not think of the chicken and say the name of the Most Merciful and Blissful God".

Our Predicament

There is a Hindu legend that the Lord was once incarnated on earth as a pig. He had a pig mate and in course of time several little pigs were born to Him. He was very happy with His family, living in the mire, squealing with joy, forgetting His divine glory and lordship. The gods became exceedingly concerned and came to the earth to beg Him to give up the pig body and return to heaven. But the Lord would have none of that; He drove them away. He said He was very happy and did not want to be disturbed. Seeing no other course, the gods destroyed the pig body of the Lord. At once He regained His divine majesty and was astonished that He could have found any joy in being a pig.

People behave in the same way. Whenever they hear of the Impersonal God, they say, "What will become of my individuality?-- my individuality will go!" Next time that thought comes, remember the pig, and then think what an infinite mine of happiness you have, each one of you. How pleased you are with your present condition! But when you realise what you truly are, you will be astonished that you were unwilling to give up your sense - life. What is there in your personality? It is any better than that pig life? And this you do not want to give up! Lord bless us all!

True Contentment

"Yes, Yes!" he [Swami Vivekananda] reiterated. "You Western folk want action ! You cannot yet perceive the poetry of every common little incident in life! What beauty could be greater than that of the story of the young mother coming to Buddha with her dead boy? Or the incident of the goats? You see the Great Renunciation was not new in India! . . . But after Nirvana, look at the poetry!
"It is a wet night, and he comes to the cowherd's hut and gathers in to the wall under the dripping eaves. The rain is pouring down and the wind rising.
"Within, the cowherd catches a glimpse of a face through the window and thinks, 'Ha, ha! Yellow garb! stay there! It's good enough for you!' And then he begins to sing.
"'My cattle are housed, and the fire burns bright. My wife is safe, and my babes sleep sweet! Therefore ye may rain, if ye will, O clouds, tonight!'
"And the Buddha answers from without, "My mind is controlled: my senses are all gathered in; my heart firm. Therefore ye may rain, if ye will, O clouds, tonight!'
"Again the cowherd: 'The fields are reaped, and the hay is fast in the barn. The stream is full, and the roads are firm. Therefore ye may rain, if ye will, O clouds, tonight.'
"And so it goes on, till at last the cowherd rises, in contrition and wonder, and becomes a disciple.
"Or what would be more beautiful than the barber's story?
"The Blessed One passed by my house, my house -- the Barber's! "I ran, but He turned and awaited me, Awaited me -- the Barber! "I said, 'May I speak, O Lord, with Thee?' "And He said 'Yes!' 'Yes!' to me -- the Barber! "And I said, 'Is Nirvana for such as I?' "And He said 'Yes!' Even for me -- the Barber! "And I said, 'May I follow after Thee?' "And He said, 'Oh yes!' Even I -- the Barber! "And I said, 'May I stay, O Lord, near Thee?' "And He said, 'Thou mayest!' Even to me -- the poor Barber!"

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

From Gross to Subtle

There was once a minister to a great king. He fell into disgrace. The king, as a punishment, ordered him to be shut up in the top of a very high tower. This was done, and the minister was left there to perish. He had a faithful wife, however, who came to the tower at night and called to her husband at the top to know what she could do to help him. He told her to return to the tower the following night and bring with her a long rope, some stout twine, pack thread, silken thread, a beetle, and a little honey. . . The good wife obeyed her husband, and brought him the desired articles. The husband directed her to attach the silken thread firmly to the beetle, then to smear its horns with a drop of honey, and to set it free on the wall of the tower, with its head pointing upwards. She obeyed all these instructions, and the beetle started on its long journey. Smelling the honey ahead it slowly crept onwards, in the hope of reaching the honey, until at last it reached to top of the tower, when the minister grasped the beetle, and got possession of the silken thread. He told his wife to tie the other end to the pack thread, and after he had drawn up the pack thread, he repeated the process with the stout twine, and lastly with the rope. Then the rest was easy. The minister descended from the tower by means of the rope, and made his escape. In this body of ours the breath motion is the "silken thread"; by laying hold of and learning to control it we grasp the pack thread of the nerve currents, and from these the stout twine of our thoughts, and lastly the rope of Prana, controlling which we reach freedom.

Pratika or Symbolism

There was a certain Yogi who used to practise meditation in a lonely part of the forest, on the banks of a river. There was a poor cowherd, a very ignorant man, who used to tend his herd in that forest. Every day he used to see this same Yogi meditating by the hour, practising austerities, living alone and studying. Somehow the cowherd got curious as to what he did. So he came to the Yogi and said, "Sir, can you teach me the way to God?" This Yogi was a very learned, great man, and he replied, "How will you understand God--you common cowherd? Blockhead, go home and tend your cows and don't bother your head with such things."
The poor fellow went away, but somehow a real want had come to him. So he could not rest, and he came again to the Yogi and said, "Sir, won't you teach me something about God?"
Again he was repulsed: "Oh, you blockhead, what can you understand of God? Go home." But the cowherd could not sleep; he could not eat. He must know something about God.
So he came again; and the Yogi, in order to quiet the man, as he was so insisting, said, "I'll teach you about God."
The man asked, "Sir, what sort of being is God? What is His form? How does He look?"
The Yogi said, "God is just like the big bull in your herd. That is just God. God has become that big bull."
The man believed him and went back to his herd. Day and night he took that bull for God and began to worship it. He brought the greenest grass for that bull, rested close to it and gave it light, sat near it and followed it. Thus days and months and years passed. His whole soul was there [in the bull].
One day he heard a voice, as it were, coming out of the bull. "The bull speaks!" [the cowherd thought.]
"My son, my son."
"Why, the bull is speaking! No, the bull cannot speak."
Again he went away, and sat near, meditating in great misery of his heart. He did not know anything. Again he heard the voice coming out of the bull: "My child, my child."
He went near. "No, the bull cannot speak." Then he went back again and sat despondent.
Again the voice came, and that time he found it out. It was from his own heart. He found that God was in him. Then he learned the wonderful truth of the Teacher of all teachers: "I am with thee always." And the poor cowherd learned the whole mystery.
Then he goes back to the Yogi, and when he is at some distance the Yogi sees him. The Yogi has been the most learned man in the country, practising austerity for years--meditating, studying. And this cowherd, an ignorant blockhead, never studied a book nor learned his letters. But he comes--his whole body, as it were, transfigured, his face changed, the light of heaven shining round his face. The Yogi got up. "What is this change? Where did you get this?"
"Sir, you gave me that."
"How? I told you that in joke."
"But I took it seriously. And I got everything I wanted out of that bull, for is He not everywhere?"
So that bull was the Pratika. And that man worshipped the bull as his Pratika--as God--and he got everything out of it. So that intense love--that desire--brings out everything. Everything is in ourselves, and the external world and the external worship are the forms, the suggestions that call it out. When they become strong, the Lord within awakens.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A case of complete self-sacrifice

This idea of complete self-sacrifice is illustrated in the following story: After the battle of Kurukshetra the five Pandava brothers performed a great sacrifice and made very large gifts to the poor. All people expressed amazement at the greatness and richness of the sacrifice, and said that such a sacrifice the world had never seen before. But, after the ceremony, there came a little mongoose, half of whose body was golden, and the other half brown; and he began to roll on the floor of the sacrificial hall. He said to those around, 'You are all liars; this is no sacrifice.' 'What!' they exclaimed, 'you say this is no sacrifice; do you not know how money and jewels were poured out to the poor and every one became rich and happy? This was the most wonderful sacrifice any man every performed.' But the mongoose said, 'There was once a little village, and in it there dwelt a poor Brahmin with his wife, his son, and his son's wife. They were very poor and lived on small gifts made to them for preaching and teaching. There came in that land a three years' famine, and the poor Brahmin suffered more than ever.
At last when the family had starved for days, the father brought home one morning a little barley flour, which he had been fortunate enough to obtain, and he divided it into four parts, one for each member of the family. They prepared it for their meal, and just as they were about to eat, there was a knock at the door. The father opened it, and there stood a guest. Now in India a guest is a sacred person; he is as a god for the time being, and must be treated as such. So the poor Brahmin said, 'Come in, sir; you are welcome.' He set before the guest his own portion of the food, which the guest quickly ate and said, 'Oh, sir, you have killed me; I have been starving for ten days, and this little bit has but increased my hunger.' Then the wife said to her husband, 'Give him my share,' but the husband said, 'Not so.' The wife however insisted, saying, 'Here is a poor man, and it is our duty as householders to see that he is fed, and it is my duty as a wife to give him my portion, seeing that you have no more to offer him.' Then she gave her share to the guest, which he ate, and said he was still burning with hunger. So the son said, 'Take my portion also; it is the duty of a son to help his father to fulfil his obligation.' The guest ate that, but remained still unsatisfied; so the son's wife gave him her portion also. That was sufficient, and the guest departed, blessing them. That night those four people died of starvation. A few granules of that flour had fallen on the floor; and when I rolled my body on them, half of it became golden, as you see. Since then I have been travelling all over the world, hoping to find another sacrifice like that, but nowhere have I found one; nowhere else has the other half of my body been turned into gold. That is why I say this is no sacrifice.'
This idea of charity is going out of India; great men are becoming fewer and fewer. When I was first learning English, I read an English story book in which there was a story about a dutiful boy who had gone out to work and had given some of his money to his old mother, and this was praised in three or four pages. What was that? No Hindu boy can ever understand the moral of that story. Now I understand it when I hear the Western idea--every man for himself. And some men take everything for themselves, and fathers and mothers and wives and children go to the wall. That should never and nowhere be the ideal of the householder.