I remember when I was growing up. Each year my Mother, sister and I would spend one month in Atlantic City. It was wonderful. During those summers I made many friends, one was Wanda Wingate. She lived in Philly. From the age of about ten, until I finished high school we would write letters to each other every week. Each week I would sit and tell her all of my highs and lows. I share all of the intimate details of my life with only her, and she with me. We exchanged advice, shared each others happiness and tried to support each other through our sadness. I loved getting her letters, reading them over and over and placing them in a box. Through her I met my first great love, Jeffrey Goldson. He was a few years older than I and when he went off to college we would write to each other a few times a week I loved to stare at how he formed the letters of each word, I loved the scent of the paper because it carried his scent. The internet is a wonderful place to share, and to learn – but it came at a great cost. It cost us those letters, those moments of going off to a quiet place to hold those pages and feel the energy of the person who is writing. I think that our letters intensified my love for him. And in his box, I could reach in a pull out the letters and feel again that love whenever I needed.
Then I remember so vividly the first book that moved me, it made me fall in love with reading. I remember the way that it smelled, I remember the way that each page felt against my fingers – I remember this, but I neither remember the title nor the name of the office, just the feel. There is no e-book that can compare with the feel of a good book in your hands.
Two of my favorite shows when I was young were “Little House On the Prairie” , and “The Waltons”. The families in those shows had very little. Life was hard work, but somewhere in that hard work was a sense of quality of life. All that they had was the love of family and community, and somehow, life seemed to me so much better then. They were not plagued by depression – even in the depression. The wealth of each family was their bonds, bonds created out of necessity and lack of distraction. But their wealth could not be given a price. I remember when I was in my own business and making more money than I every imagined that I could make. I would drop ten thousand dollars in a boutique without blinking an eye, but I have never been so unhappy in my life. I wore the quality of my life on my back – Escada, Ralph Lauren my gold rolex, my Fendi purse, wallet and cigarette case. My life had no other value. I know now that the ability to feel joy and happiness are what we pay for those things. The more I bought, the more my soul was being drained out of me. I did not know it. A junkie first gets high to feel a little rush, to be taken out of himself for a short time. This is the same thing that happens when we find ourselves with money. We buy things that we could not have bought before just to be taken out of the self that we once were. What we don’t realize is that whether the addiction is to a drug, alcohol, food, or money – we are not taken out of ourselves, instead, our self, is taken out of us. We don’t realize this, until we kick the habit by choice or by force. Then we find that ‘living’ feels so much better than anything that we could buy or steal to make us feel like we are living. If one is born poor, he always looking through windows at the people who have everything. That experience makes them feel that they are not whole. So it is their journey to strive to have those things in order to see that nothing in the material world can increase us, to the contrary, it decreases us. Then there are those who are born with money and the status that it brings. They do what they have to do because they are raised to feel that who they are is about what they have and how they appear. Only by losing or giving up what they have, can they learn who they are.
There are two cycles of wealth and both are natural as the cycles of day and night and as much a part of our journey. These cycles occur to the individual soul as well as to the collective. There is the cycle of material wealth, where it is our path to gain materially at the cost of the spirit. This is followed by the cycle of spiritual growth, where it is our path to gain spiritually at the expense of the material. These are set by God, and we can no more change, extend or redirect them anymore than we can the rotation of the earth around the Sun or the moon around the earth. We can change these no more than we can change day to night and night to day. There are many minor cycles within each great cycle, but it is the great cycle that rules through it all. If you are on the spiritual cycle individually, you may win the lottery – then lose all of the money. If you are on the material cycle, individually, you may be down to your last dime and come up with an idea that brings you material wealth for the rest of your life. As a whole, we are so deeply engulfed by our addiction to the things that we don’t need, that we can’t see how life could be better or even tolerable without them. We have become enslaved by our material addiction collectively, that we fear losing our chains. In the Rider Waite Tarot deck the Devil Card has a man and a woman chained to the Devil.
The important thing about this image is that the two people chained to the Devil have their hands free and the chains around their necks are more than loose enough to be slipped right off. The Devil represents money, power, status, all of those things that are our addictions in the material world. It seems that the Devil has possessed these people, but in fact, they can leave at any time. They have taken on the horns of the devil because they have become that which they have coveted. This is the material part of the cycle. The Major Arcana, or first 22 cards of the Tarot deck depict the “hero’s” journey from fool to wisdom. We have been the fulfillment of this card. But we are entering a Spiritual Cycle. So, since we will not voluntarily remove the chains, we must be shaken at the roots, we must lose what we have allowed to posess us in order to be free, and so, the card that follows the Devil is the Tower.
If the natural disasters of the past years have shown us anything, they should have shown us that we cannot control life. We do not know when we will be struck by a disaster. Personal safety is an illusion, just as homeland security is an illusion. We are each on our own clock’s and they will each stop ticking at the appointed time, whether we are in the Twin Towers or walking along the desert. All that we have built and held onto can be lost or taken away from us in a moment. How much better would we feel if we gave what we had to those who have nothing rather than just losing it? Once upon a time the world was immense, and one could comfortably live a lifestyle of opulent excess, ignorant of the starvation and suffering that our excesses could ease. Now, it is not the case.
And [Jesus] told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God will say to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Christianity. Luke 12.16-21
Imagine how the earth was created—how the body was created. The earth was given limited resources. The earth could have been created as a garden in which the food and shelter and everything that we could ask for simply grew as quickly as we could harvest it. Or, we could have been given the power to manifest everything we wish to have merely by desiring it to be. But that is not the case. And knowing that the force that guides the Universe is love, we must know that this is not to punish us. No, the earth has limited resources and some men are born with access to those resources while some are born without that access. This is the Divine Design, it places before us the opportunity to choose righteousness, the path must be chosen to have value, one cannot be forced out of fear of punishment or fear of rejection, the path of love must be chosen out of love—the need for love and the desire to give love. It is obvious that in the wild animals do not have this choice. Animals know only one path, and for the lower self in man, the animal way is the natural way. Yet as humans, we are able to reach into our souls and find the strength to rise above the natural choice to the spiritual one.
What causes wars, and what causes fighting among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Christianity. James 4.1-3
We are containers with limited space within. We may fill that space with the things of the world or with the things of the spirit or, as it is for most of us – some proportion of both. Everything that the world of flesh has to offer contains an addictive quality. From the moment that we take our first breath – we are engulfed in an addict’s paradise. It is through this addictive garden that we evolve and it is our susceptibility to addiction – not the choice of drug, which marks the level to which a soul has evolved. Addiction is attachment plain and simple, but it is easier for us to raise ourselves above judgment (in our own eyes) if we limit our focus to what one is addicted to rather than that one is addicted. For one to be addicted to cocaine is bad; yet to be addicted to attention – is ok. It is bad to be addicted to alcohol – but power is ok. We become addicted to food, to comfort, to routine, to family, to nation, to form of worship, to race, to position, to war, to being divided or even to being united, to injustice or even to justice. Addiction is attachment.
All of these things that we attach ourselves to will one day be no more. And the extent of our suffering – the intensity of our hellfire, will equal the intensity of our attachment. We are all born within the garden of our own struggle. The lesson is to love your brother as yourself without condition. There is a story of a man who went up to the greatest Jewish religious leader and asked him to condense the entire teachings of all the sacred Wisdom into one sentence and the Rabbi, without hesitation said, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. There are innumerable gardens in which to grow that flower and we are each born in one of them. Some learn through greed, some through religious hatred some through bigotry, some through the need for power and some as victims of the powerful. You can learn the lesson by the choice you are faced with while riding in a limo passing a poor child in a ghetto, or a homeless man on the street. You can learn the lesson being the poor child or the homeless man. Both roles are means to the same end and neither one is a punishment or a reward. The awareness of the other on both ends engenders an emotional response, which in turn forces a choice. The choice that we make in those moments will feed the soil that we sow and determine what we will ultimately reap.
On earth, our parents threaten the harshest punishments on actions that will cause us the greatest harm. They do this out of love for us. So it would stand to reason that the Source of all Love would place the greatest admonishment on those things that hurt us personally the most. And to Do unto others what we would have others do unto us is wise because what we do to others we really do to ourselves. When we harbor hatred, resentment, or anger towards another we create an energetic umbilical cord between the other and ourselves which flows from soul to soul feeding each with poisonous energy. When we are told to forgive, we are really being told to release ourselves from the flow of that poison; to forgive is only to release.
All that belongs to us or will ever belong to us is what we can take with us. All that we can take with us is what we can carry in our souls. Unconditional Love is spiritual tender. Those emotions that can only exist in the absence of Unconditional Love are spiritual debts. When we act selflessly from our hearts we are making deposits into our spiritual retirement accounts. When we act selfishly without regard for others, we are making withdrawals. The account must be full in order to retire from the suffering of this world. How many lifetimes it takes us to fill that account is up to us. There is no judgment. But to retire from suffering, it must be full.
We are here to learn to cherish that which is ours to pass through, with love and appreciation, that which is not ours and to know the difference. We are happy when we receive, when we acquire, when we are applauded, we are happy when we are loved. Happiness is contingent on an action that is happening and when it is no longer happening, we are no longer happy. But our being is transformed into the most elevated joy when we give and the more difficult the gift is to release the greater the feeling of sacrifice – the greater joy that fills us. Remember that to sacrifice is to make sacred. Feed your own body, you satisfy your body, but feed the body of another who is in need and you satisfy your soul.
3. I searched in my heart how to cheer my flesh with wine, my heart yet guiding me with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what it was good for the sons of men that they should do under heaven all the days of their life. 4. I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards; 5. I made me gardens and parks, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruit; 6. I made me pools of water, to water there from the forest where trees were reared; 7. I bought men-servants and maid-servants, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of herds and flocks, above all that were before me in Jerusalem; 8. I gathered me also silver and gold, and the treasure of kings and of the provinces; I got me men-singers and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of men, musical instruments, and that of all sorts. 9. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. 10. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them; I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced because of all my labor; and this was my portion from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do; and, behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was no profit under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:3-10
God, Spirit, All-That-Is, placed a certain amount of resources on the earth for all life to share. It is limited, but it is always just enough. Regardless of what we tell ourselves about the greatness of our effort, we cannot earn more than our share, we do not deserve more than our share. And what is our share? It is that which leaves enough for every other person on the planet to have their share. Those of us who have more than we need to live comfortably are hoarding the food, the shelter, and the medication that could save the lives of those who are dying because of their lack. And the blood of those who die because of our greed is on our hands. The difference between life and death for a child in Africa is a few dollars; the difference between a life of poverty and suffering and a life of hope and possibilities is a few dollars. We are not only our brother’s keepers; we are our brothers. We are one body human containing one Spirit immortal, and to tell ourselves that what happens in the Sudan will not effect us, it the same as saying that cancer in the foot, untreated, will never effect the heart.
All children are our children, all lives are our lives, and any life that we are able to save becomes our responsibility to save. To whom much is given, much is expected. It makes no difference what lies we tell ourselves in order to buy our ten thousand dollar bags, and six million dollar homes, a child’s face is embedded in every one of those dollars and a child’s life or death is written into those choices that we make.
Jesus said to [the rich young man], “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will by hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Christianity. Matthew 19.21-24
The depression that sweeps the industrialized nations is the price of our greed. The Bible says that money is the root of all evil, but it is not evil, it is the most addictive of all drugs and so it is the root of the greatest spiritual pain. Money is the key to the material kingdom. Money brings worship, adulation, slaves, all things that feed the ego. Yet, it is not money that is the problem it is the hoarding. The more money one hoards, the emptier one is Spiritually because the energy of material possessions in much denser and weighs down our energy fields leaving little or no room for spiritual joy to permanently root itself within us, not because we make money but because we hoard it for ourselves and do not send it back out to do good works.
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:25, 2.
Today the Spiritual force of the Universe has made the world one in which we know children are dying needlessly. The world is small enough for us to know where and when men, women and children are being senselessly slaughtered because of the color of their skin or nature of their beliefs. We know, because this has been deemed the time of revelation, when we are revealed for what we are—and what we are is reflected in what we most value, not what we tell others we most value, and not in what we tell ourselves we most value. In this moment, we can stand strong as healthy wheat, wheat that gives nourishment to all, or as weeds nourishing only ourselves at the expense of others. All that we each deserve is enough to live a healthy loving life. All that we have beyond that is what would give that same quality of life to another. I once worked eighteen hours a day and was paid more than generously for that effort; I had a house in the suburbs and three bathrooms in my New York apartment. At the same time a woman sharecropper in Mississippi worked the same eighteen hours a day and could not afford indoor plumbing. I was not being rewarded for being a better person in this life or any past life, what I was being – was tested. It is time for the harvest.
We must learn and not forget that it does not matter how healthy, wealthy or wise we are, the time and manner of our death is not within our control. How long we will keep whatever we have is also not within our control, all outcomes are beyond our control. Now is the time when we are to be seen clearly, we cannot hide or pretend. The true measure of the man is not how much he has, and it is not how much he gives, but how much he is willing to give of that which he cannot bear the thought of living without.
We are being tested, and more than this, we are being given an opportunity through the suffering in the world to show the power of the light that we have within us. The world has become small enough for us to see the needs of others, small enough that we must make a conscious choice with every penny that we waste on selfish pleasures. We are no longer only responsible for the consequences of our actions but we are responsible for the consequences of our lack of action as well.
The Universe is not something around us, it is the substance of our being. God is not a separate entity; God is the Great Self, the Great Soul of which each of us is a part. God is Love; to live in God’s image is to live in the image of love and to love in the image of God. No one is empty, we are all full, those who are empty of attachment to the world are full of Spirit, and those who are filled with worldly attachments are empty of Spirit. Some are half full of the world and half full of Spirit, each have our own proportion of both and that is our choice.
Do you not feel this time different than any other? This time is not a test it is a gift. It is a gift to us from Our Source, a chance to wipe out our karma with good works, to purify our souls with unconditional love. To strengthen our faith and show our love of All-That-Is by giving without fear of not having enough left for ourselves, for the enjoyment of the world is empty, but the joy of Love is a cup that constantly runneth over. What are the fires of hell? They are the tests and temptations that we must go through on this earth to burn away our attachment to the material – to mammon. The fires of hell are no more or less than the suffering that we endure living with the desire for what we do not need, the fear of losing or actual loss of what we do not own, and the blindness that keeps us from knowing that having and losing in this world are both illusions and what is of value to our souls is always a part of them.
He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever. He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity.
Christianity. 2 Corinthians 9.6-11
We must join hands, join resources, and realize that it is not what we have that creates happiness it is what we share. That is what we will be left with when all is done. We will have all that we need to live. Above that we will have the spiritual wealth that is priceless. We will lose much to gain much more. We cannot recover we must recreate. And as hard as it is for many of us to believe, it is in the plan that we will. We are being shaken from the Devil by the Tower. But once we have lost all that stands between us and each other, between us and compassion, and between us and God, we become wealthier than we could ever dream because our wealth will flow from an unlimited Source. It will be spiritual and we will re-birth our humanity – the card in the deck which follows this, tells this story, it is The Star
After the tower of all that is false and illusion has crumbled to the ground, we are left with abundance of all that is real and eternal. The world as we know it is ending, its cycle is over. The Star represents abundance, a bright future – and most importantly it is a future that one of freedom. True freedom is owning nothing and being owned by nothing, but being a part of everything.