Seeing Instead of Just Looking

Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you SEE.”

This quote reminds me of someone I went to museums with who didn’t really enjoy our trips there. This person often remarked that they’d already seem all the works and there was  just nothing new to see.

And you know this is often how we see life. There’s nothing new! Too routine and just the same old same old. Nothing in my life ever seems to change.

I want to offer that I think this is because we too often just look at life happening around us. It’s like a movie that we are watching without being actively involved. As I have thought about this I see a big difference between looking at life (or anything else for that matter) and really seeing it!

To look at life you just watch the movie going on around you. Watching it happen and unfold without any input on your part. In this way, life seems separate from you and as something happening to you. You look at a piece of art. You eat a meal. You take a breath. All of these things happening automatically with little conscious thought on your part.

But then one day you decide to read the little card beside the painting which draws your attention to some specific items in the picture that you might never have consciously noticed before. Now as you are seeing the painting from this new awareness the items just pops out at you.

Now the painting begins to be more for you have more fully entered into the painting.

Or you might have this experience with a meal.

Maybe there is a meal you have eaten many times in your life. Each time you just cut a piece and shovel it into your mouth never really taking the time to either savor or really taste it.

But then this time you decide to slow down and you begin to experience the various textures and tastes. They begin to come alive in your mouth. Your mind begins to connect the dots between your meal and where it came from — the various people and places involved in making it happen. And now this common meal becomes more — a communion joining together instead of separating apart!

My last example involves breathing, a very common every moment experience.

Even though we all do this countless times during the day yet most of us do it completely unconsciously. We rarely take notice of the air as it enters or leaves our nose and lungs, except those times when we are congested or experiencing other breathing problems or the air around contains unpleasant odors.

But then one day, you decide to take a deep breath — you breathe in deeply feeling the air entering your nose and you feel your abdomen rise. You experience a deep sense of peace come over you. Your racing heart slows and you become conscious, if only for a few moments, of a sense of stillness and calm within.

In each of these instances you go from just looking, eating, breathing and being a part from the experience to a deeper one of seeing and becoming more aware and a part of the experience.

All of these experiences happen to me from time to time but unfortunately I too don’t fully enter into the experiences often enough. But when I do, then all of life becomes different.

I hope the next time you are at a museum or enjoying a meal or just taking a breath you will stop and really enter into the experience. And as you so, see what a difference it makes even for just a moment.

Wherever You Are, God IS!!!

In this post, I want to talk a little about one of my very favorite subjects– God.

Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved God and Church. Even before I was old enough to got to school, I went to Sunday school. And then on Sunday afternoons, at home with my dad and grandmother, I would have Sunday school with them, teaching them the lessons I had at church.

And the God I learned about way back then was the one that created the world and everything in it. He was said to love the people he created.

This God was usually portrayed as a very old man, the Ancient of Days and he was white and had a great long white beard and hair. In fact, as I think about that image, he was just a really big jolly green giant sized version of my dad or Santa Claus.

As I grew up, this picture was enlarged to include the side of God that loved some people who followed all the rules and also judged sinners who broke the rules. The good people were promised heaven when they died and the sinners, well they just got to roast in hell for all eternity.

This version of the story just never really made a lot of sense to me but since this was what I was told the Bible said and meant, I believed that it was the truth.

Now I have come to the place where I question both that version of God and also the idea that just because the Bible says it does not necessarily make it true. (But I will tell you more about that journey another time.)

Charles Fillmore, the co-founder of Unity says

 The starting place of spiritual attainment is the right understanding of that one that we designate as the ‘Almighty.’

So let me share some of who God is for me today.

God Is Omnipresent

There is a wonderful verse in the Christian scriptures that says, “in whom (God) we live and move and have our being.”

Now I used to think this was just one of those nice saying put in there to fill up space or it was one of those “mysteries” that we just were not supposed to understand.

But now I believe that it’s a statement of truth and really just means what it says and says what it means. It shares with us the fact that God is all there is and that everything that exists, exists in God.

David, in the Psalms, says that if we go to the highest heights or to the lowest depths, that there is no place that we can go where God is not. (Now what does that say about hell?)

God is omnipresent — present everywhere.

God Is Love

Another wonderful truth about God is that God is love and love is God.

This love is unconditional and eternal. It’s not some on again, off again type of love. The “I love you when you love me and do what I want” type of love.

God is love.

And God’s love extend to and includes all of God’s children. No one is excluded.

You see, I let go of the old idea of a God that was just waiting for me to slip-up and do something wrong so he could just whack me good and punish me. I have some to realize that we are not punished for our mistakes in life but we are punished by our mistakes. What we sow, we reap.

God set in place the wonderful law of cause and effect. And we are offered every provision to correct anything that we deem a mistake so they can be changed from chains that bind and enslave us into steps that lead us higher and higher as we are transformed.

I guess one of the most important things I have learned on my journey of spiritual attainment is to trust my own heart and my own experience.

I have experiences the presence of God and I have felt my heart warmed and enlightened by this presence.

I have taken the time to look at my beliefs about God, to examine them and to see which ones ring true with what my heart says. And this has caused my love for god to grow and increase as endeavor to see and sense God’s presence everywhere I go and in each person I encounter.

Final Thoughts

As I close, I want to share with you something I came across recently in my reading. It is called The Golden Key written by Emmet Fox.. The basis of this key is to practice the presence of God. Fox says that too often we spend our time focusing on our problems and what is wrong with our lives and our world. He then says that the golden key to changing things in our life is to instead focus on the goodness of God.

Look for Good!

Look for love.

Look for beauty.

And as you do, you will find more Good, more love and more beauty. You will find more God.

For you see my friends, wherever you are, God is. A friend of mine told me once, there is only God or not paying attention.

Try paying more attention this week and see where you find God.

Are You The Victim of Your Own Self-Talk?

Is you life just a series of “self-fulfilling prophecies”? I am sure you know what this means, but if not, it refers to our ability to imagine that an event will happen to us and then we watch as it unfolds just as we imagined.

Usually when people think of self-fulfilling prophecies they refer to all of the bad things that occur in their lives.

This is because we worry so much about what it will be like when they do finally occur and this just sends out a message that we are expecting the accident, the illness, the lay-off at work, or the breakup in our relationship. And what happens, but what we expect.

I read somewhere that worry is just like praying for something we don’t want to happen.

So, if worrying is a good way to make something occur that you don’t want, then what can we use to make things occur that you do want?

The New Testament encourages us to think on things that are good, lovely, honest, pure and which cause a good report. It says for us to let these images fill our minds and hearts instead of those of gloom, doom and despair.

Often, before they occur, the subjects of our self-fulfilling prophecies show up and occupy our thoughts and they drift down and find expression in the things we say. We find ourselves talking about the things that we are worried about.

So what have you been talking about this past week? Have you found yourself saying any of the following statements?

  • This is the worst week of my life.
  • I expect this will never work out.
  • I can’t imagine how this will ever change or get better.
  • These all result in things not working and maybe even getting worse.

So how do we change this?

How do we make things happen differently in our lives?

One technique that I like to us is self-talk. Many people refer to this as using an affirmation. You might notice that the root of affirmation is “affirm” – to agree to, to say yes to.

Using affirmation is all about saying yes to what do want to happen in our lives instead of what we don’t want.

It changes our focus to one of allowing he good instead of resisting what we don’t desire. This helps us to cultivate good, positive and life-affirming and enhancing expectations.

So here are just a few affirmations that I love to use. Please feel free to leave you comments about any of these and also, if you have affirmations that you use, share them with all of us.

  • I am grateful for all that I have.
  • I am a vessel through which good flows.
  • I am a beloved child of God and I don’t inherit sickness.
  • I attract only good into my life by expecting only good.

Use these affirmations frequently and say them with conviction. Let yourself begin to feel what it is like for these words to be true. And as you do, this will keep you focused on the good,positive and life-enhancing expectations that you wish to manifest in your life.

And my friends, you will attract it!

You Are The Image Of God

This is a video I made some time ago. I thought it was a good way to introduce the videos I made for my “Spiritual Striptease” series. I hope the message here blesses and inspires you and that you share it with anyone you know that needs a spiritual boost.

As always, I enjoy hearing your thought and comments on this subject.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Too often people seem to believe that the best is yet to come. Just not right now.

Maybe one day my ship will come in.

Maybe one day there will be peace.

Maybe one day gas will be cheap again.

Just not today.

But I ask, why not today?

Why does everything good have wait to arrive sometime in the future while everything bad (or that does not work or make life better) happens right now?

The 2 disciples of Jesus were alot like us. They were always looking for a better life sometime in the future. They knew the kingdom of God would come but sometime in the future. But Jesus tried to help them (and us) to realize that the kingdom had come.

They, like many of us, thought the realm of God would come with show and fanfare but Jesus told them, and us, that it had already arrives and was within and among them.

He tried to help them see that they just needed to realize it and then to allow themselves to become aware of it. They needed to become aware of that lay right inside and then to draw from that well of spiritual energy that is within.

I am mentioning all of this because along with Charles Fillmore’s book The Twelve Powers I have also been reading a book by Pam Grout — E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality.

Reading Fillmore, I notices that he used the 12 disciples to represent the 12 powers that lie within each of us just waiting to be recognized, awakened and called forth for use. But I will get to this thought later.

Grout, in her book, talks about how things are right before our eyes but we still don’t see them. She also says that this is also true with things that lie right inside of us that we have been taught to cover over, hide and never to use or share such as love, creativity and wisdom.

We are carefully taught that life is scary and scarce. Everything is limited such as food, money and love. People are to be feared and judged and not loved and accepted.

These were all messages that the disciples of Jesus knew so well and that controlled their lives. And they also control ours.

You would probably be amazed if you could step back and listen to yourself talk and be aware of the thoughts you unconsciously think. It might cause some alarm.

But Jesus (for Fillmore) and the Field of Potentiality (for Grout) each tell us a different story than our words and thoughts. They see a world of endless possibilities and potentials foe each and every one of us!!!

In her book Grout uses the example of shopping for a different item at Wal-Mart. She found it located on an aisle that she always shopped on but she had never noticed this item there before even though it had always been there. This is how she explains the FP (Field of Potentiality).

I want to share with you two ways that I understand the FP (Field of Potentiality).

The first is that the Field is like a video game. When the programmer is preparing the game, they have to think of all the potential actions and all the potential results of these actions and then program these all onto the disk. If I then do Action A what are all the possible results that could occur? All of these are on the disk as a potential but only occur when I choose a particular one. I choose Action A and am presented with all the results of Action A until I choose one and then all the other results that would lead to Action B fall away unless some action on this path leads me back to Action B. And so on — you get the idea.

Now if this example doesn’t work for you maybe this one will. It comes from my days as a librarian. We had a series of books called “Choose your Own Adventure.” In these books you would be reading alone and something would occur. Then you would be told that if you choose Action A to turn to Page 4 or if you choose Action B to turn to page 20. Depending on the choices you make thing happen. But also because of the choices made there are thing you never know about that could have also happened if you had made a different choice.

Both Fillmore and grout tell us that this is how life is. We made choices from an infinite field of potential possibilities. And depending on the choice, there are lots of potential outcomes that fall away.

But that is not the end of the story.

You see with the video game and the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book as will life. You get the opportunity to play and read and live a whole new adventure anytime you want. All you need to do is start again and decide to make different choices. Every time you do, a whole new adventure is created.

This was also the hope that Jesus offered to the disciples. And this is the same hope that is offered to humanity.

If you have not read Pam Grout’s book E-Squared be sure and get a copy. And you might also want the book The 12 Powers by Charles Fillmore.

Some Musings on This Day

I just want to share a few thoughts today with you about God and our connection with God.

I grew up in a Christian family that went to church regularly. While we never really talked about being cut off from God and never really mentioned going to hell, I got this message from other sources. But the idea of hell never really made sense to me.

I was told that God is omnipresent. This is just a big word that means that God is present everywhere. So that means that if hell exists as a place, then God is also there. And if this is so, then how bad of a place could it possibly be?

Also I read in the Bible that God’s mercy and loving kindness never failed. How could this be true if even one person was outside the protection of God’s love and mercy? Mercy that would erase any offense!

God’s love is also said to be unconditional. That means that God still loves you whether or not you meet the conditions because there are no conditions. No “I love you because you love me” or “I love you because you do everything I want” or “I love you because you play the game by the rules I set up.” 

And another thing that always bothered me about hell was that people in countries where Christian missionaries (of the correct persuasion, whatever that is) had not visited, were condemned to hell out of no fault of their own. It always seemed to me that the Christians who did not do their job of evangelizing should be the ones punished as they had the light and a commission to do which they failed to fulfill.

The idea of hell and how anyone could be cut off from love, which is unconditional is just unimaginable to me. 

A god that acts like this is just a bigger version of us, god made in our image and likeness. And a God like this is not one I want to love or offer my allegiance to.

A Course In Miracles Lesson 2

Lesson 2: I have given everything I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place] all the meaning that it has for me. ( Read or listen to the full lesson, click here.)
This lesson continues the idea from lesson 1. As you gaze at the things, events and people around you, you need to apply this idea to each of them and affirm that you gave it all the meaning it has for you.
For example, if you see a fire, you might give it the meaning of warming yourself on a cold evening. Or it might mean a means of cooking food. None of these are the fire but only meanings you give to it.
ACIM says ”try to apply the exercise with equal ease to a body or button, a fly or a floor, an arm or an apple.” James Twyman, in his commentary on this lesson says that Jesus, who is credited as the author of the Course, must have chuckled when he dictated this.
So please share any thoughts you might have as you practice this exercise. And if you haven’t already done so, please sign up to get these posts delivered to your inbox. There are earlier posts that you might enjoy reading also.
Pam Grout’s Post on Lesson 2
James Twyman YouTube on Lesson 2 with Commentary

A Course in Miracles Lesson 1

For about 38 years I’ve had on my bookshelf a book, A Course in Miracles (hereafter referred to as ACIM). Most of this time it’s set unopened. But it is said that when the pupil is ready the teacher will appear. I guess I must be ready now to learn from this course because everyone I have read recently has been referencing ACIM.
So I thought I’d share my thoughts about each of the daily workbook lessons as I do them. I am not sure I will get this done every day but as I do the lesson I will share and I hope my thoughts help you and I’d love to have you share your thoughts also. Each of us has the  same access to wisdom and knowledge and we can always learn from each other.
Lesson 1: Nothing I See in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place] means anything.
Everything, yes everything you see as you look around only has whatever meaning you attach to it. ACIM says you don’t have to believe this or like this,to do the exercise you just have to be willing to look at everything around you and see that in itself, nothing means anything.
Two of my favorite people who work with ACIM are James Twyman and Pam Grout. I will be sharing some of James’ YouTube videos and Pam’s blog posts with you as we progress through these 365 lessons.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with each of these lessons and I look forward to sharing lesson 2 with you tomorrow.

A Course In Miracles — Intro And Tips On Practicing

I’m going to begin discussing the lessons from The Workbook section of A Course In Miracles (ACIM) again beginning with Lesson 1. But before I do, I want to share a bit about how Jesus, who is the author, says we should practice these lessons and how they can change and rearrange our thinking and then our lives.

It is said that the first 3 lessons should be practiced no more than twice a day, preferably morning and evening and for no more than a minute.

The statement of the day should be applied to whatever your eye lights upon but not everything. But most importantly, nothing is to be specifically excluded. The exercise should be “practiced with great specificity” and you shouldn’t “decide for yourself that there are some people, situations or things to which the ideas are inapplicable.”

The purpose of the workbook lessons is “to train your mind in a systematic way to a different perception of everyone and everything in the world.”

Pam Grout, in one of her blog posts on The Course says that “everything we see is just a cardboard cutout — a picture of the past frozen in time.” She says that “we decided long ago that life is this certain way and that’s all we can see.” That’s the reason we practice the Workbook lessons, in order to break free from our past perceptions and gain a new way of perceiving ourselves and the world around us.

There are two sections in the workbook, the first “deals with the undoing of the way you see things now” and the second part deals with the “acquisition of true perception.” This is the way The Course will change your thinking and ultimately your life.

There is a very interesting statement in the Introduction to The Workbook: “Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than that is required.”

Please feel free to leave any thoughts or questions you might have about A Course In Miracles in the comment section and together we’ll discuss these matters.

I hope you try practicing each lesson before deciding that it doesn’t work. You might find a whole new world opening up for you.

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