In the musical Wicked, Elphaba, the “wicked” witch sings a song called “Defying Gravity.” In it she sings a wonderful line: “Unlimited, . . . My future is unlimited!” Later in the play she sings that line again, but instead of singing “unlimited,” having experienced some hard knocks, she sings “I’m limited.” However, despite the fact that she is feeling limited at that moment, she holds fast to her original vision of being “unlimited” and life is transformed for her.
How often we get bogged down with thoughts and feelings of our limitations. Instead of keeping our focus on our dreams and visions, we so often focus on the day to day things that we all must do to live in “reality.”
Does living in “reality” preclude us from feeling unlimited and keeping our focus there?
It is those who have not allowed themselves to be bogged down, or held down by the way things are that have been the movers and shakers in our world. It is those who have constantly stretched the limits imposed by “reality” who have created new spiritualities, new cures, new technologies and new ways of being. Where would we be without such unlimited thinkers?
I was reading Wayne Dyer’s new book Excuses Be Gone. In chapter 4 he reminds us that we are unlimited. “Know that you are a soul with a body rather than the reverse” (p.75). That is, our souls are from eternity and are eternal – where there are no limitations. Remember this! If I could be or do anything I would want, without any current limitations imposed on me – what would it be? Ask yourself this question. And when you get the answer, this is what we need to keep before our eyes – not the limitations of “reality!”
NOTE: I meant to post this on Christmas Eve, but a very good friend of mine had a stroke at the age of 40 the day before Christmas Eve. He’s only 40 years old. He remains in critical condition, but is showing signs of improvement. Please keep him, his partner and family in positive thought and prayer. Thanks!
Last week I stopped in a drug store and noticed that the Christmas stuff was already marked off 50%. I had no intention of buying yet another Christmas decoration; but I almost felt as if I was lead to look. In the midst of the plethora of decorations were some simple, painted wood block words. One of them said: “Believe.” I felt something as I picked it up, an energy, . . . and ended up buying it. It now sits front and center above my fireplace, and as I pray and meditate in the morning I look at it. As I walk through the living room a hundred times a day, I look at it. It becomes a mantra, a reminder – “Believe!” “Watch your thoughts.” “Your beliefs create reality.” I’ve just begun reading Wayne Dyer’s new book called Excuses Be Gone, in which he talks about scientific studies that have been done which prove that what we believe can literally create our reality, bring healing and affect our lives, positively or negatively – depending on what our beliefs are.. Scientific proof!
I can’t help but think that I was lead to buy that wood block word. I will keep it in my home year round, as a reminder.
Again, some, including myself might find a lot of the movies, songs and hype that surrounds us this time of year a bit sweet and syrupy. But it is good that collectively this time of year, many people are lead to positive thoughts and feelings – and frankly I’ve seen examples time and again where such thoughts create reality. I have seen and experienced kindness and self giving that is admirable. What a grace that we have this time of year that so many humans are thinking good thoughts and believing good things. What a great thing it would be if we carried such thoughts and beliefs through the rest of the year. Imagine the reality that collectively we could create in our world!
I love the song “Thankful,” made popular by Josh Groban. The song is written by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager and Richard Page. The text of the refrain and the music wonderfully express our desire to turn our attention to what is good and hopeful:
“So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can’t see”
I hope that the little wood block word that I was lead to serves as a reminder throughout the year. Imagine the world we could bring into being if the good will that is felt this time of year was always in our thoughts!
I was recently watching a program on PBS called “Excuses Be Gone” featuring Wayne Dyer. In it, he quotes Aristotle as saying:
“Contemplation is the highest form of activity.”
I so resonate with that statement! I am wired differently from what society, corporations and even churches applaud and hold up as good. “Idleness is the devil’s workshop” we were often told as kids. Certainly that was the message in the church and family in which I was raised. For me, the opposite is true.
The more “activity” I am involved in – the less I do – and the quality of anything that I do, and even the person I am, suffers greatly! It is in the silence of nothingness, in time, seemingly wasted – where great things are born within me. When I don’t take time to be, read, write, pray, listen to music – my life and work suffer. When I have, or take this time – despite great pressure not to do so – then my work finds life and creativity and I am a decent person to be around.
I find this is not very much appreciated either in society or the church. Produce! Produce! Produce! This is the message that most of us receive. It’s funny. I don’t find society, churches or countries any the better for all the incessant activity! Perhaps we would be wise to slow down, take stock. I recently heard these very words in a church, coming from a man who’s an unredeemed, angry workaholic whose toxic energy is oppressive to his staff and his church. He does a tremendous amount of work; but I don’t know of anyone (who really knows him) who looks up to him or actually wants to spend time with him. How sad. But I believe, like all addicts, he’s basically a good person at heart. Perhaps he just needs to slow down and take stock.
Once again, I’m not strictly speaking of finding a boyfriend, but happiness, the ever allusive happiness that we all seek.
Last night at a coffee shop I began reading a book called The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello. Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest and spiritual guide who, in his many books and conferences, brought together Eastern and Western spirituality. He himself was raised in India so was familiar with Eastern concepts. If you have not read anything by him or about him I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT! It’s amazing how very much in line he is with the thinking of Tolle, Dyer, Jung, Frankl and many others who speak of being free of ego attachments and realizing the grace of living happiness in this moment no matter what is happening around us. These people, I believe, like the Christ, have keys that can make a tremendous difference in living a happy, more peaceful life. The Way to Love is a very small volume, something you could carry in your pocket, but is packed with lots of insight and practical wisdom that can change the way you go about life! It’s published by Image Books, Doubleday.
Last night, on the heals of yesterday’s meditation, I read De Mello’s take on ever allusive happiness. He says we are programmed from birth to believe that we cannot be happy without things, that happiness lay somewhere in the future when I get this person, thing or place. Or we are programmed to believe that if we just change the situation and the people around us, then we’ll be happy, or when all our desires are fulfilled we’ll be happy. All of these are FALSE. It is only when we stop clinging to these things that we begin to experience what peace and happiness is. It is only when we let go of these things and simply live this moment and accept what is here and now that we can begin to live in a greater state of peace and happiness. For then we won’t waste a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to get this or that or to change this or that circumstance in our lives (See pp.5-12 The Way to Love) It’s difficult for me to put this in words, but I know what it feels like when I stop looking to the future for happiness, or some person, place of thing. I know what it is to experience peace and happiness when I accept interruptions to my day, or when my day hasn’t gone as I had planned, or when something seemingly bad happens. I know what it feels like when I simply accept that and stop resisting it.
I want to continue exploring this. I find myself being lead to read Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning which chronicles his experiences when he was in a concentration camp in World War II and how he found that even in such horrible and unspeakably inhumane circumstances, one could still be happy. Imagine the freedom!
Service and a Grateful Heart
Two other aspects of spiritual practice that I find helpful are being of service to others and having a grateful heart.
This morning I was listening to Wayne Dyer’s Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling. I have this on CD and when I’m in the car I like to listen to it. It’s just another way to absorb some good information in the midst of all the garbage! As I drove this morning Wayne spoke of the ego and how the ego tries to distract us, keeping us agitated and grasping after more and more. It feeds on the illusion that we need more, and need to protect what we have or else someone is going to take it from us. Spirit, on the other hand, is infinite and ever giving. Having no sense of lack, but a firm belief that there is infinite abundance, Spirit has no need to protect or hoard. To be like Spirit, our Source, believe that there is abundance and that we will always be taken are of. When we do so we will naturally become more preoccupied with being of service than protecting and hoarding our time or what we have. When we let go and give, we will find that it comes back to us; and then some! So part of good spiritual practice is to be of some service to others. Conversely, I find when I am in a mode where I am totally self absorbed, I lack energy and vibrance.
Finally, maintaining a grateful heart is a part of my spiritual practice that I find helpful. I do this in a simple way that takes about 60 seconds. At the end of each day, right as I get into bed, I take around 60 seconds to become conscious of at least five things that day that I have to be grateful for. I find this, not only a good review of the day, but something which lifts my spirits. Those who have grateful hearts walk through life with a much more positive, happy attitude. Simply by knowing how blessed we are, we become a blessing for others in the positive energy that we radiate.
All of this being said, I am NO saint. I have my ups and downs; my good days and bad. Ask any of my friends who know me well! Yet in the midst of it all, when I maintain some spiritual practice, there is a pervading sense that life has meaning and that I’m going somewhere and somehow contributing to this world.
Whatever your spiritual practice may be, I pray that it is something which gives meaning and energizes your life and relationships.
“If the owner of the house knew when the thief was coming, she would keep a watchful eye.” See Matthew 24: 42-51
If you are the owner of a house, you know the work that goes into maintaining, caring for and protecting your investment. It is a constant process.
Each of us IS a house. Do we take the same consistent care of the house that we are, as we do our own homes? What are the “thieves” that I need to watch out for? It could be negative thinking. It could be unhealthy food. It could be the lethargy imposed by a lack of physical activity. It could be a lack of reading which feeds our minds and spirits. It could be self centeredness. Am I vigilant about keeping away those things which would drain life from me?
I think of Wayne Dyer’s strength test that he mentioned in one of his talks. I believe it is in his book and set of talks entitled Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling. If you haven’t read or listened to these talks, I highly recommend it! Here’s the exercise he describes: Place something next to your heart, hold out your arm and have someone press down on your arm. If it is something that is healthy and life giving you will have the strength to keep your arm straight up. If what you hold to your heart is something unhealthy, you will not have the strength to hold your arm up. Try it. Parents, try it with your kids. See what happens. What is healthy will give us energy. What is not will deplete our energy.
Am I being watchful in maintaining and protecting the house that I am?
When we lift our thoughts to the Universe, whether we call this prayer, meditation, positive thinking or the like – when we lift our thoughts for others or ourselves, expect a response. Watch for it! When I have lifted something in prayer or thought, I need to be attentive to I the promptings that I feel within AND respond to them. When I am lined up with Divine energy, the promptings that I feel within may well be pointing me in a direction. It behooves me to respond to these inner promptings and take action. This is our part in manifesting spirit into form reality. Karl Rahner, a great theologian of the 20th century used to say that Divine action is 100% God AND 100% us. That is, if I just sit back and think positively, pray, meditate or whatever, but don’t respond to the promptings and situations that Life puts in my path – little will happen.
Is there something that you have felt stirring within you? Is Life putting something in your path to lead you somewhere? Are you responding to it?
Follow the promptings and see where life takes you. Watch what happens in your relationships, your work or your life situation. We might be surprised!