Karma for Dummies

Karma is something that is really misunderstood. It is usually considered something that we earn – we earn good karma or we earn bad karma. Just how do we earn this karma? It seems like we earn it by either doing something good or doing something bad. However, if karma were a bucket the size of the earth, those explanations would be drops the size of mothballs.

Having done a number of past life regressions for people, I have found a whole new appreciation for and understanding of karma, sort of karma for dummies. Karma is really something that we have to learn – plain and simple. Here is an example of karma for myself, in this life. I have carried over into this life a feeling of extreme vulnerability in the physical world. My father was one of those larger than life characters, someone my husband would call a “Mans’ man”. I grew up feeling completely safe with him around. I did not take into considerations his character flaws, I just saw him as a MAN who was tough and strong and so he could keep the monsters away and insure my safety.

As I began dating, I was attracted to men who could protect me. The type of man that many woman are attracted to – MACHO. I was attracted to dragon slayers. I liked men who kept the masses at bay either through their financial power, or that physical energy that some men just emit. I met these men, and, as was my karma, they were equally attracted to me. We would even fall in love, or, more aptly put when referring to karma, we would fall into obsession. After countless disappointments, and sometimes a little violence, I found that the men I attracted to my life were not strong, at least not when it came to a strength that required more than lifting heavy rocks. In the end it always came back to my own strength. It was my karma to take responsibility for myself. Each time I handed over responsibility for my well-being to someone else, I paid a price, in love, in business, in anyway. Another karma that I had was with my self-worth and my lovability. Each time that I turned to someone else to show me that I was worthy, they challenged my worth. Karma is not necessarily about something that you have done to someone else, or to others in general – sometimes, very often, it is about something that you have to do for yourself.

My grandmother believed that she could not be loved for herself; she believed that she had to buy it, or place herself in a position that others needed her. She couldn’t give, although that is what she thought that she was doing – but there was a debt to pay for her giving and somehow in her mind this exchange was as close as she could come to being loved. My grandmother held on to every penny that she could. She did nothing, went nowhere and only used her money to hold on to the people that she loved. She believed that no one really loved her or could love her so she saved every penny. In her mind, no one would be there for her when she was old so she didn’t want to be in a position to have to depend on anyone, who she believed, would only reject her. After an unfortunate and unforeseen karmic turn of events she lost everything and had no choice but to rely on the kindness of strangers. However, those people that she was so sure would not be there for her when she was in need, turned out with open hearts blessing her with all of the love that she never believed possible in her life. That too was karma. It was the karma of learning. It is all the karma of learning.

I have a friend that I regressed to a number of past lives. In each one she was some kind of slave. Someone who was not given any value, except for one life, in which she did find and relish her own value and her own accomplishments after a childhood of being devalued. However, old habits die hard and she brought that same unworthy mindset into this life and was treated as a lesser being by the same souls who had done it to her in her past lives. However in this life she is learning and beginning step by step to assert her own power. And with each experience in which she does this – she finds that those souls who once intimidated her begin to treat her with greater respect. This is karma also. Perhaps with this karmic reinforcement she will become one with her own power and her own worth and the lesson will not require more lives, the karma will have been released. Most times we return to learn our lessons with the same souls but wearing different costumes in a different set. I believe that we choose to experience these lessons with the same souls not because they owe us, or we them, but because that soul level contact awakens in us those feelings that we need to rise above. We are innately intimidated by those who have left us with scars of feeling less than in past lives. Just as we awaken in them a need to treat us in a way that they may not really understand themselves in this lifetime. It is not so much that they do it to us, and then we do it to them. It is better explained as they do it to us over and over again, lifetime after lifetime until we do not allow it anymore. I have often heard someone say to me, “I don’t understand it, I only act this way with you”. It is because this drama is between us. Generally, this drama, repeated over lifetimes on different stages teaches a lesson to all parties involved, and it is repeated until the lessons are learned.

Of course there are the karmas that involve race, religion, social status, and power. Someone may be very poor in one life, and feel enormous resentment towards those who have more. That person may come back again poor, but in the next life that soul has the opportunity to amass great wealth. The lesson is in how they handle that wealth, just as there is a lesson in how one handles poverty. All roads lead to love, compassion, empathy, understanding, acceptance and brotherhood. All of these things must be learned but not just for the benefit of others but equally for the benefit of ourselves. Karma is ultimately about learning the lessons of unconditional love which inevitably leads us to the knowledge that we are all One, and that the totality of that One of which we all are is God.

We write our karma as we go along. We write the plot for our next life in this one. Reincarnation is about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. Karma is the path that we walk that mile on so that we may learn the true love of God, of other and of self and know that there is not differentiation between the three. That is the trinity that has existed since the beginning of time and before. Karma is not complicated. It contains no judgment, no punishment and no reward, except perhaps the reward of becoming the Love that we so desperately seek.

Peace Comes From The Balance Of Mind And Soul

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We have been given the gift and the curse of the use and enjoyment of our minds and our hearts. From the moment that we rose above the other animals to become co-creators of our universe, we were given the heart to love, and appreciate the world. We were given the mind to classify, and the ability to blend the two for the creation of solutions to our problems, ensure our survival, and to develop the wisdom that comes from the balance of the two.
How far have we come in the evolution of these gifts? Not as far as we believe we have. The mind has been developed to the point that without the heart it cannot go any further. Scientifically, we have traveled to the point where we are now dealing with a quantum reality that requires creativity, imagination, and even a bit of faith to explore.

Still, the heart is well behind in its development. To kill in cold blood, or really, to kill at all, requires functioning without the heart. Hate is a cold product of the mind. Yes, it does become impassioned, but passion is not a quality of the heart. Passion is a remnant of our primitive ancestry — the energy that drives animals to pursue food, pursue a mate, and scare intruders from its territory. It is an energy, which is directed by a healthy ego or it directs an unhealthy one. The ego, which separates us from the other creatures on our planet, coordinates the use of mind and/or heart. The ego is the decision maker; it is the mediator. It is the health of the ego that determines which we use.

The heart and mind are in balance in a healthy ego. Working together they choose when, how much, where, and if the fuel of passion should be utilized. The decisions, guided by creativity and wisdom, are born out of the combination of heart, and mind. Hate is an instinct based by-product of an unbalanced ego. It is instinctual fear harnessed by the mind without consideration of the heart. Hate is the absence of love. Love is the only ingredient that the heart has to contribute. Even a balanced ego may become unbalanced for a moment when it considers the stresses of life on earth and the different ingredients it has to balance.

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Anger, however intensely it is experienced at the moment, is soon extinguished by the warmth of the heart. It doesn’t turn to hate. Not if the ego is balanced and the heart is strong. Where hate has a place, the heart energy is not developed, either because there is too much reasoning mind, too much primitive instinct, too much fear, or too much of them all. Whatever it is, there is no room for the heart to grow.

Mankind was given, or we took — when we bit the apple — this enormous Pandora’s box of mind, heart, passion, and fear. How we mix them would determine whether we survived outside of the garden or not. And so we struggle with this mixture of cold reasoning mind, hunger for more, and divine love. And it is my belief that as part of the Divine Plan, the souls that incarnated at a particular time, are balanced in a way that will bring all souls, the lessons they have evolved to learn. There are no new lessons, the lessons we face today are the lessons that have been faced by mythic and historical figures, and mythic and historic lands, only the setting is changed.

Ultimately it all comes down to this, can we face the enemy without becoming the enemy? Or can we, as a species, be the hero who faces the enemy and allows the enemy to become one with us? Acknowledge, after thousands of years, that the battle waged out in our world must be won within our own egos, so that, as a species, our progress can be seen in the world around us. As long as we seek the enemy outside of our own beings, we will diminish our chance of winning with each outside enemy that we kill.

We fight the same war, century, after century, without finding peace, until it is found within our own hearts. There is no good or evil; there are no boundaries, no pure white hats, or pure black hats. There are only human beings torn within their egos between spiritual or material. It is a battle that the unbalanced ego does not want to face, because that battle requires letting go of those big shiny idols which the little mind finds such pleasure. It means embracing the small eternal flame, which the heart longs for. And so, we enter the battlefield like Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita, with God as our charioteer, patiently telling us that these bodies are not real, only symbols used by the soul for the true battle within. And this war, whether it is fought on the battlefield, in the playground or in the living room, is a battle of duality, one that continues for as long as we cling to our belief that first the other is bad, and second, that there is any other at all.

We battle those we label evil because we believe they seek to destroy us. They fight us for the same reason. No one marches into battle with a picture of Satan on their flag. We all go off to fight evil, to fight the devil we imagine we are facing. As we all wear both labels at the same time, saying to the enemy, “I am evil”, to myself, “I am good.” We fight to protect our lives because we do not really believe in the eternal soul. We fight to revenge the deaths of those we love, because as Krishna told Arjuna when he was questioning the battle that he was about to fight,

“One man believes he is the slayer, another believes he is the slain. Both are ignorant; there is neither slayer nor slain. You were never born; you will never die. You have never changed; you can never change. Unborn, eternal, immutable, immemorial, you do not die when the body dies. Realizing that which is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and unchanging, how can you slay or cause another to be slain?

As a man abandons his worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out a new one is acquired by the Self, who lives within. The Self cannot be pierced with weapons or burned with fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it. The Self cannot be pierced or burned, made wet or dry. It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundation of eternity. The Self is unmanifested, beyond all thought, beyond all change. Knowing this, you should not grieve.”
( Bhagavad-Gita 2.19-25)

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When we are able to see that the entire world is a symbolic battlefield for the individual soul and the larger groups of souls to play out their eternal battles, we will be able to deal with that apple, understand that the dark and the light are two sides of one coin that each exists because of the other. One cannot exist without the other because both exist within each of us. Only when we have a balanced mind and heart, can we be released from war and suffering.

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The Power of The Word

“Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?” – Sai Baba

Jesus said, “Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all.” I sought the truth and I was disturbed because the Truth conflicted with my own beliefs. Yet when I was disturbed I became awed by the power of the Truth and so I did marvel. And when I marveled, I accepted, and when I accepted, I attained power over my life.

In the beginning man observed nature, and communicated meaning through the qualities of the animals. So transformation might be represented by a butterfly which transformed from a caterpillar, or a frog which is transformed from a tad pole.

Then came letters with each letter having a meaning and in expanding and combining the different letters based not on their sounds but on their meanings, words were put together. In the Semitic languages there is a spiritual meaning for each letter and so in the combining of letters you have not a single word, but a symbol which represents a meaning that must be understood in its context. This is the reason why the Torah, or the Old Testament is studied on a daily basis, the belief being that like creation which is ongoing, so too does the torah grow in meaning as we read it.

In Aramaic, the word Alaha (Allah) can be translated to mean, sacred unity, oneness, the All, the ultimate power, or the one that is many. Spirit, is translated in the bible from a word that means, breath, wind or air. Worship is translated from a word that means surrender. Truth in the bible is translated from a word that means, that which liberates, that which opens, that which acts in keeping with Universal harmony. And Forgive is translated from a word that means, to let go, to set free, and to omit. In Aramaic, the word used for blood is also used for wine, sap, juice and essence it comes from the same root word as Adam. The word for fruit also means offspring and the word for vine also means blood lineage.

The phrase translated to “Son of Man” in Aramaic means, human being, so for Jesus to refer to himself as the Son of Man is merely referring to himself as a human being, it was a common substitute for “I”. In the Beautitudes where it is said, “They shall be called the children of God”, another translation of the same words would be, “They shall be called channels for Unity”. Most importantly, the word that Jesus used in Aramaic for “sin”, implies a correctable error, something temporarily lost. So a better translation of someone who was the forgiver of sins, was someone who helped those who cling to their errors, find the way to freedom in Unity.

In the beginning of the twentieth century, Science entered into the realm of the metaphysical, or the realm of spirit. Physical means that which can be observed by our senses. Metaphysical is that which cannot. Science has now, with Quantum Physics, entered into the metaphysical world. The physical world according to the new science is the manifestation of the metaphysical world, what many mystics have been saying since the beginning of time. The metaphysical world, the quantum world is a world that appears to be chaotic; the first problem was that light seemed to be at once particles and then at other times waves. In the physical world nothing can be a particle and a wave. Then when they began to measure particles, they found that they could not measure both the distance and speed travelled because they seemed to arrived at whatever the destination at the moment that they departed, or to be at two places in the same moment. This quantum world is also so sensitive, that whatever we do to measure it affects the outcome of the measurement. So we are not observers of the experiments, we are part of the experiments. As strange as it is, the real world, the world that is no more than potential and probabilities manifests a world of humans, trees, skies, oceans, rivers, streams, mountains, buildings, sidewalks and all that we see, hear, feel, taste, and touch.

God spoke the world into being:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,

We do not live in the world; we live in the Words that describe the world. God spoke the world into being; existence is a word that only has meaning in contrast to the word nonexistence. The world does not exist in itself; it exists to us because we have a name for it and so a description of what it is supposed to be. The words existence and nonexistence in themselves impart no meaning. The metaphysical world, the spiritual world – does not exist in words, it exists in meanings. All things come into being through the Word, without the Word nothing exists. The Word is the manifestation of the Universe. The Word is considered masculine, and so it would be because it is action. God has no name, God has no image. This is because God is without beginning and without end and without description. A name has a beginning, an end and a description. A name defines a thing – it tells us what it is, or who it is. God is without definition or limitation. We are each the Word made flesh. We have a name, which has a number and that number has a vibration. Nothing exists outside of the Word. Nothing exists without a word. The first thing that God instructed Adam to do was to do was to name everything in the world. What did he do? He spoke everything into manifestation. Whatever has no words to describe it cannot exist for us. There is nothing more important in our universe than the Word. And each word has a number and that is what the universe sees. We each have a name and a number and it’s vibration is written in God’s book.

Ancient Priests used words to heal understanding that the sounds of certain words had an effect on certain parts of the body. The Magicians and Sorcerers of ancient times used words to manifest. Prayer, and Mantras are words used to evoke whatever outcome is being sought. Rulers and Politicians have historically used words to win over the populace. Advertising is based on the use of catchy words and phrases. The US President today uses these catchy words in his war campaign. “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, for example. Words can make people, even whole nations act in ways that they normally would not. Words can convince, enchant, heal and destroy.

If we can believe that the power of the mind can manifest things or experiences in the outer world, imagine what that power, given sound and released could accomplish. There is no greater tool known to man than the word.

The physical body is a vehicle for the self. “I”, that which I know as myself can neither be seen, nor touched. Anything that can damage my body cannot damage my spirit. Yet, that which can damage my spirit can destroy my life. Words, are the weapons or the salve that reaches into what cannot be seen, reaches into our hearts and souls.

When I was a small child I was deeply aware of the impact of words. Hurtful words seemed to enter into my solar plexus like a knife twisting and spreading throughout my being long before they seemed to enter my mind. It was as if by the time I heard the words – the damage was already done. In my home, words were the weapon of choice. I watched as each family member was stabbed and brutalized by words spoken in anger by another. What astonished me the most, was after the anger came the apologies, or the, “I didn’t really mean it”. The person who spoke the words actually believed that they could be retrieved. A bullet can be retrieved, a knife can be retrieved, a spoken or written word can never be retrieved, and its damage can never be undone. No amount of apologies or forgiveness can ever undo the poison of a word misspoken. There is no antidote. Can you find the organ of self-worth and heal it? Can you find the organ of self-confidence and heal it? Parents should use each word spoken to or in the presence of children with the utmost care. Whatever you call your child he will call himself for the rest of his life.

Children are suggestible; they work within the description of themselves that they take from their environments. The words that we mean and words that we don’t have no discernable difference to a child. The subconscious mind cannot differentiate between what was meant as truth and what was meant to make a point, or to hurt. To an adult who has been raised with a less than positive description of himself or herself all negative words have meaning. I remember as a child hearing a neighbor compliment a drawing that I had made. I remember my mother responding, “Yes, she has talent, but…”. I don’t remember what came after the “but“, all I remember is that I expect the “but” every time I do something well and it is noticed. I expect to be exposed as a fraud.

We all have different reactions to the words that we hear as a child. Some children who hear that they will never amount to anything or that they are not good enough to succeed react to these words as a challenge – or a means to receive the needed approval or love and so they reach amazing heights. Some react by never trying to be more than is expected of them based upon the things that they heard. Many grow up to become leaders; they go on to inspire generations that follow. These people reach higher and higher, they amass more and more searching for that achievement that will fill the whole left by those words spoken years before. Nothing built from the material world, or gained in the material world can ever heal a spiritual wound, a wound caused by words. It is only through finding the spiritual meaning that we can extract the poison. As in the Bible story of Joseph, we must reach to understand God’s reason for words spoken by others. Emotional pain and suffering are not human constructs. They are built into our egos for the purpose of moving us to achieve the goals that we have set in each incarnation. Pain bores like a drill deep into our center and the path that is drilled deepens the meaning of the lessons as we learn them. Those who have hurt us with careless words have been ignorant of the power within those words. They only understand pain as being caused by a physical act. It is for us to understand that the people who hurt us with their words are the ones chosen to deliver that which we must learn from, and often – that which we must use to teach or lead others.

Most relationships are not destroyed by the actions of those involved, but by the words of those involved. When two people enter into a relationship they are placing their hearts, their hopes and their trust in one who has entered into their lives holding a mirror through which they see themselves in their most beautiful and flawless state. The “other” holds up a mirror in which they see themselves through love. Only once before were they so vulnerable and that was when they came into the world. As soon as they begin to disagree, they feel threatened. Each fearing that the other, who carried the mirror of their goodness, and their beauty, will take it away. Feeling threatened they lash out with words that are spoken in anger, meant to intimidate, threaten or hurt the other into staying in the same place, not changing, not growing and, not putting down the mirror. The words start flying, the mirror starts cracking, the trust begins to wither, and although there are apologies, and despite attempts to retrieve the words spoken – the bond is weakened. The words cannot be retracted. And if they continue, the bond, worn away by the acidic action of the words, becomes permanently destroyed. The word is mightier than the sword.

So often a person dies of an illness that could have been overcome, had the doctor not declared an approaching death. A researcher noticed that people who were mentally challenged had a much lower mortality rate from a certain type of Cancer than did others. Surprisingly, what they found was that it had nothing to do with genetics, there was no special anti-body attributed to the mentally challenged. It was as simple as the fact that they did not recognize, or understand Cancer as a death sentence. Because the word “Cancer” was meaningless to them, and could not be explained, the emotional contribution, which is obviously great, to the deterioration of the body was not there. It had no more impact on their spiritual, or emotional bodies than if someone had sad that they had a large do-di-da. If we take responsibility for nothing else in our lives, we must take responsibility for the words that we place in the hearts, minds and bodies of others. We must fill them with loving truth. Use them wisely. Seek their meaning. Words are the greatest power given to us.

We Built A World For Our Egos, Now Let Us Build A Garden For Our Souls

Over the past seven or eight years, with increasing urgency, people have been asking me when things will go back to the way they were; when life will return to normal? We should not seek to once again walk that path that brought us here.  That is recovery.  We need to forge a new path, let us not recover, let us recycle the lessons that we learned from that past and create a New World, one that does not reach to scrape the sky but to touch the heart of Heaven.  Now is our chance to redefine what it means to be a human, and not an animal.

We are at the end of an age, imagine, lets say, one of those plastic bottles of Elmer’s glue that squeezes out. In the beginning, when it comes out it is smooth, tight, solid, dependable, it goes where it’s put, precisely and easily. But as the end draws near it may begin to slow down, requiring more force to get it out, but still, it comes. Once the end is reached, it comes out in jumps, starts, and sprays, it is almost impossible to direct, control, or depend on.

All of us alive today have been born at the end of this era, the Age of Pisces. The twentieth century was a critical century for mankind. The number 19 is a karmic number. It represents the needs of the self (1) versus the needs of humanity (9). This was the essence of the century, it highlighted separation from the whole, whether separation by race, religion, nationality, or economic status, we dealt with the loss of and the fight for human rights (9) throughout the world. We were forced to face our dark side. It first came to light with the Nazi’s and their attempt to annihilate the Jewish people. We have witnessed the Black people both in the United States, South Africa, and other counties being hung, killed, and treated as second-class citizens, we have seen many attempts at racial cleansing throughout this century and watched millions of people being slaughtered in tribal wars, and we have done nothing as Africa dies of AIDS. Nothing has been more open and in our faces than the issue of the rights of the few versus the rights of the whole.

We have been forced to see that there is a gap between the image that we held so proudly of ourselves as civilized beings and the reality of our darkness; we began to perceive our frailty, this has been our first unconscious inklings that perhaps, we could not trust ourselves or, for that matter, even life. It was the first, microscopic fissure in our façade. We began to speed up the pace of our lives: to get more life into a day, and more living into a life. Woman, after working in plants and doing the jobs that were previously held by men, began to feel that they could do more, have more, be more.

A generation of children was born into this atmosphere of dissatisfaction, and confusion. These children absorbed the emotions, existing all around them, into their souls; they observed the shattered image that man had once held with pride. Hidden in the closets were the skeletons of bigotry, hatred, and hypocrisy, which screamed out at them. This was a generation driven by an evolutionary intent to begin the process of exposing what was hidden by questioning the lies that had heretofore been accepted as natural. They came in to begin the dismantling of an age. They brought prejudice out into everyone’s faces to deal with; they insisted on civil rights, and woman’s rights. They demanded a world in which their parents had only pretended to live.

Aware that their parent’s generation had stood idly by, while Hitler massacred millions; made them commit to not just standing by and watching. They fought, peacefully, and violently, they lived hard and many died young: they were driven. Yet, it was also a generation whose strength was its numbers; that Vietnam thinned out badly, and whose weakness was its youth and its idealism. It made an enormous difference, but what it didn’t do, what it couldn’t do, was reach its goal; it could not create a beautiful world. It couldn’t do it because it ran up against a green wall of money and power. It believed that it knew the enemy, and the enemy was in front of it and had the power. So, it decided to regroup, go into the world to obtain the power from the enemy and change the world. Unfortunately, It did not know that idealism does not die, it transforms into cynicism. And when we get the power we become the enemy because the enemy does not have the power, the enemy is the power.

We, unknowingly, took the last step towards becoming the enemy…we turned our eyes to the power we needed to obtain our goals and through the power — lost sight of them. Power easily becomes Force. It is the ring in Lord of the Rings, and only those without desires can wear the ring, wield the power without being devoured by it. Our goals were full of God, but, when we turned to power and money, we became distanced from God. The light of God is a soft and eternally burning flame but the lights of the material world are like the lights of New York City at night. The man made lights are blinding, and make it harder to see the other lights, until they finally go out, by whatever means they go out — and they go out quickly; or they burn us out quickly.

The big lights are hungry, and greedy, they draw us in like moths to a flame, and so the closer we get, the more we want them, we become addicted until we overdose. The lights have become both stronger and stronger while the soft flame both harder and harder to find. Many of us joined the quest to put the ring where no one could find it. Few of us emerged untouched by the lure of the darkness that shines like neon lights. And by the time 1994 came along, we saw on television one million men women and children being brutally slaughtered in Rwanda, just as our parents had known about the Nazis and just as our parents turned a blind eye to the Nazis, we turned a blind eye to Rwanda…again, we did nothing. Since then, we have watched repeatedly as outbreaks of brutality and genocide have swept the world. As they might say in Star Wars, “The Dark Side is strong in humankind.”

Imagine being God. You have a garden that you created with love…into that garden you put the children who are the most precious to you. You provide them with everything they could possibly need. But they see something perhaps brighter and shinier than everything else and they turn away from what you offer them — and go to all that glitters. It is that old tree in the Garden all over again. We constantly create new kinds of shiny golden calves. Generation after generation of men and women are seduced, we bite the shiny apple, we worship the shiny statue while God looks on and sees His once beautiful garden all cut up, five of His children have ninety-five percent of the world locked up behind huge walls, while the other ninety-five of his children starve outside.

This is not the first time that He has watched us do this. The weak and oppressed unite to defeat the strong, then they in turn become the strong and oppress the weak; after the oppression becomes too much, again the weak unite and again the cycle starts over. The next step is that the stronger of those on the outside of the wall storm it and seize the resources…with the intention of sharing them among all, and then they decide to hoard rather than to share and then rebuild the walls once again; the persecuted becomes the persecutor they once defeated.

Part of our divine impulse is to create, it is inborn — if we cannot create we cannot survive. Yet, we are continuously being devoured by our creations because we keep falling in love with them. Or, we become so enamored with our own greatness that, reminiscent of Narcissus, we keep falling into our reflections and drowning. And in the image of Adam and Eve, we keep biting the apple. It is part of our nature and most of us sadly have been unable to rise above it.

The story of man’s birth, man’s temptation, man’s heroic effort to overcome, and defeat that temptation and his ultimate failure in doing so, leading to man’s final destruction by his own hand or because of his inflated belief in his own powers is his archetypal theme or perhaps it is a warning that has gone eternally unheeded, although it has been told in thousands of different ways from myths, to legends, to fairytales for thousands, maybe millions, of years. It has been repeated through the history of every mythological or historic civilization that has ever risen out of the hopes and dreams of the masses, and ultimately fallen tempted by the intoxication of power. Are we creating a new version of an old and repeated theme or are we writing a new one? Will we go down in history as the inhabitants of the lost Empire of America with legends told for generations of how we became too engrossed in our own power and destroyed ourselves? Or will we, through our actions, finally do something no other people have ever done; and bring the peace, that we have only dreamt of, to the world? Are we past the point of miracles?

The gift in this whole thing is that the story really never ends. It is a story that we are meant to relive, meant to recreate until we see, until we learn, that the ending is always the same. I believe that a large number of the souls here now, are the souls who have been in this school since Atlantis, some are here because they hadn’t learned the lesson at that time, others are here to help teach the lesson, and everyday new souls are entering who will be a part of the building process for the New Age. We are in that period of wandering in the desert, being tempted – tempted by power, tempted by money, and tempted by desire. At these times, like the Hebrews in the desert, Jesus in the wilderness and Buddha under the Bodhi tree we are tested, not to see if we deserve to enter the promised land, but to see if we are ready – if we have become the energy of love, unattached to the trappings of the world, or, if we still cling to the false gods of more money and more power and bigger and shinier things to own.

For that which guides them, the fire, will give them an illusion of truth, and will shine on them with a perishable beauty, and it will imprison them in a dark sweetness and captivate them with fragrant pleasure. And it will blind them with insatiable lust and burn their souls and become for them like a stake stuck in their heart which they can never dislodge. And like a bit in the mouth, it leads them according to its own desire. And it has fettered them with its chains and bound all their limbs with the bitterness of the bondage of lust for those visible things that will decay and change and swerve by impulse.” Jesus, ‘Book of Thomas the Contender’

Yet, it is all done with love, there is no judgment for not being ready. We just come back, and try again. We come back until we value only that which is worthy of value. This is the planet of choice, and we must choose whether we are rich or poor, healthy or ill, Black, White, Brown, Red, or Yellow. We all choose, love or hate, heal or harm, save or kill, or hold on or give away. It really is a matter of, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” These bodies are symbols of our journey, everything is just a symbol created for our journey, so spiritually, it is better to add up how much we are still holding on to, than it is to measure how much we give. What we give to others, to the world, we give to God, what we hold onto, well…let’s just say, that it is what we keep from God. The more we give to God, the more joy and contentment we receive from God.

The painting is by Paul Hampton Crockett

Whose Heart Is God Hardening Now, and Why?

image Exodus 4:21 The LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.”


Exodus 7:3 “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.”

When Moses wanted to appeal to Pharaoh in order to convince him to allow the Hebrews to leave Egypt, God advised Moses that he would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that Pharaoh would not allow the Hebrews to go free.  What followed, the plagues, the death of children all happened because God meant for them to happen.  In fact, in the study of the Old Testament there is a great deal of destruction and conquering, it is really brutal.  And what is important about that is the fact that the major disasters which occur in the Bible are all orchestrated by God.  It should be noticed that in the Bible, the false idols are statues built of gold.

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Another ancient spiritual text, the Bhagavad-Gita centers entirely around a battle.  On the surface, like the Bible, we have a story about Arjuna and his relationship with many of the people on the other side of the battle.  We know that he is a great warrior, but it seems that many of those people that he will be required to kill, were also important to making him into the man that he has become. The Bible seems to be filled with unfairness, and ambiguity.  Many Jewish Sages have created back stories to make just what seems unjust, but it is still adding details to a story thousands of years after the story was written.  In the Bhagavad-Gita  the Lord Krishna, who had been posing as Arjuna’s charioteer gives us a spiritual view of the story, depicting it as an external playing out of a human internal battle.

It was understandably easier for the eastern philosophies to be clear in the meaning of their stories because they were not competing with so many other regional belief systems that made it necessary to make the hide the teachings in stories without explanation.  But it is my belief that all religious stories are meant to be inner journeys and that all of the experiences that we have in the world around us are the physical manifestations of those inner journeys to be taken by the soul.

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There is no other way to make sense of the world that we live in.  Today in the United States there is a hardening of the hearts of Republicans and some Democrats who call themselves “Conservative” to the suffering of Americans who, because of the cost of living, the economy and subsequent unemployment, and the rise in catastrophic illness and its cost are literally dying and losing what little they have.  There is no explanation for these statistics except that God has hardened the hearts of of those who could make a difference.

It is easy to see why some people believe that we have been abandoned by God.  It is easy to see this if we see life as beginning and ending with the body.  From that perspective, either there is no God, or God is uncaring and capricious.  Life is as senseless as so many stories in the Bible.  But we are not these bodies we are the souls within them.  And God did not create the world and turn away, the world is recreated every moment, with every life born into it.  Flesh and blood come from the earth, come from man, but life, the life force that animates us and all that is, comes from and exists within God.  It is not manmade.

So God is here and God is Love.  The experiences that we have are lessons for the soul and the bodies that we wear to have these lessons are no different than a school uniform.  Rich, poor, black, yellow, red, brown, white, all are nothing but parts of the lessons in this life. Their meaning is personal and universal but only within the life in which we wear them.  The soul has not race, nor does it have a gender.  It has wealth but that wealth is measured in love, compassion, and understanding.

The following statistics, are proof that our hearts have been hardened, and proof that there can be no recovery because our hardened hearts will not permit us to make the only changes that would prevent what lies ahead.  And so we will fall, and that falling is what will free us, what will part the Red Sea – the sea of suffering and oppression that enslaves us all.

At-Risk Americans: The Uninsured And Underinsured

By Janis McMillen

Data from multiple sources agree that in 2007, 47 million Americans (15.6 percent of the total U.S. population) lacked any kind of health insurance coverage. When these numbers are adjusted for age (excluding those 65 years and older), the uninsured percentage of the population rises to 17.9 percent. Moreover, it is estimated that 25 million adults under age 65 were underinsured during 2007, despite having insurance all year. In total, 42 percent of all adults (86.7 million) were either uninsured or underinsured during 2007.

Putting a face on persons who were uninsured or underinsured during 2007 and 20081

  • Age: One of three people under age 65 were uninsured for some or all of 2007 and 2008; of the total uninsured population, 60.1 million were adults (between 19 and 64 years of age)
  • Duration: Among the underinsured/uninsured, 74.5  percent were uninsured for nine or more months and one-quarter were uninsured the entire 24 months
  • Employment status: 80 percent of individuals who were uninsured were in working families and only 16 percent were not in the labor force (due to disabilities, chronic illness, or serving as family caregivers)
  • Income: Nearly 60 percent were in families with incomes below the federal poverty level (FPL: $21,200/year for a family of four); 52 percent with incomes between 100 to 200 percent of FPL went without health insurance in 2007/2008
  • Racial and Ethnic origin: 55 percent of Hispanics/Latinos, 40.3 percent of African Americans and 34 percent of other racial or ethnic minorities had no health insurance in 2007/2008, compared to 25.8 percent of whites.  While racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to be uninsured, whites accounted for 49.8  percent of the uninsured
  • Age breakdown: The likelihood of being uninsured declines with age; 49.5 percent of those 19 – 24 years old, 36.3 percent of those 25 – 44 years old, 32.5 percent of those 45 – 54 years old and 21.2 percent of those 55 – 64 years old were uninsured over this two-year time period. The 55- to 64-year-old age group consumes more health care on average than younger adults.

For all ethnic and racial groups, lower-income families and individuals were more likely to be uninsured than lower-income whites. This disparity continues even as incomes rise in all groups.

There is a marked increase in the number of adults having difficulty paying medical bills – the most visible consequence of the weakening in insurance coverage. In 2007, 41 percent of adults (72 million people) reported problems paying medical bills, faced bill collectors or were in debt for medical care, up from 34 percent or 58 million in 2005. The majority had insurance at the time these bills were incurred2 – well in advance of the economic downturn.

1 All statistics above and below are from http://www.familiesusa.org/resources/publications/reports/americans-at-risk-findings.html

2The statistics in this paragraph are from http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/Publications/Testimonies/2009/Feb/Testimony-Insurance-Design-Matters-Underinsured-Trends-Health-and-Financial-Risks.aspx

Janis McMillen (LWVUS Board member and LWVKS) is chair of the LWVUS Health Care Education Task Force.

Produced by the LWVUS Health Care Education Task Force, 2009

Poverty Facts and Stats

Author and Page information

  1. Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.Source 1 

  2. More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening.Source 2 

  3. The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.Source 3 

  4. According to UNICEF, 25,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”Source 4 

  5. Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.If current trends continue, the Millennium Development Goals target of halving the proportion of underweight children will be missed by 30 million children, largely because of slow progress in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.Source 5 

  6. Based on enrolment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls. And these are regarded as optimisitic numbers.Source 6 

  7. Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.Source 7
  8. Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.Source 8
  9. Infectious diseases continue to blight the lives of the poor across the world. An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with 3 million deaths in 2004. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities: Africa accounts for 90 percent of malarial deaths and African children account for over 80 percent of malaria victims worldwide.Source 9 

  10. Water problems affect half of humanity:
    • Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhea
    • The loss of 443 million school days each year from water-related illness.
    • Close to half of all people in developing countries suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.
    • Millions of women spending several hours a day collecting water.
    • To these human costs can be added the massive economic waste associated with the water and sanitation deficit.… The costs associated with health spending, productivity losses and labour diversions … are greatest in some of the poorest countries. Sub-Saharan Africa loses about 5% of GDP, or some $28.4 billion annually, a figure that exceeds total aid flows and debt relief to the region in 2003.Source 10

     

  11. Number of children in the world
    2.2 billion
    Number in poverty
    1 billion (every second child)
    Shelter, safe water and health
    For the 1.9 billion children from the developing world, there are:

    • 640 million without adequate shelter (1 in 3)
    • 400 million with no access to safe water (1 in 5)
    • 270 million with no access to health services (1 in 7)
    Children out of education worldwide
    121 million
    Survival for children
    Worldwide,

    • 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (same as children population in France, Germany, Greece and Italy)
    • 1.4 million die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation
    Health of children
    Worldwide,

    • 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized
    • 15 million children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS (similar to the total children population in Germany or United Kingdom)

    Source 11

     

  12. Rural areas account for three in every four people living on less than US$1 a day and a similar share of the world population suffering from malnutrition. However, urbanization is not synonymous with human progress. Urban slum growth is outpacing urban growth by a wide margin.Source 12 

  13. Approximately half the world’s population now live in cities and towns. In 2005, one out of three urban dwellers (approximately 1 billion people) was living in slum conditions.Source 13 

  14. In developing countries some 2.5 billion people are forced to rely on biomass—fuelwood, charcoal and animal dung—to meet their energy needs for cooking. In sub-Saharan Africa, over 80 percent of the population depends on traditional biomass for cooking, as do over half of the populations of India and China.Source 14 

  15. Indoor air pollution resulting from the use of solid fuels [by poorer segments of society] is a major killer. It claims the lives of 1.5 million people each year, more than half of them below the age of five: that is 4000 deaths a day. To put this number in context, it exceeds total deaths from malaria and rivals the number of deaths from tuberculosis.Source 15 

  16. In 2005, the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption. The poorest fifth just 1.5%:The poorest 10% accounted for just 0.5% and the wealthiest 10% accounted for 59% of all the consumption: 

  17. Shah, Anup. “Poverty Facts and Stats.” Global Issues, Updated: 22 Mar. 2009. Accessed: 25 Nov. 2009. <http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

Today we live in an age where information is at our fingertips.  We cannot hide from what is all around us and because of this, we are responsible for it.  Yet we do nothing.

When the pharaohs heart was hardened it was because Egypt had become a nation that worshipped the golden calf.  What is the golden calf but money, power, and all of the things that turn one away from God.  Had Moses convinced Pharaoh to free the Hebrews it would not have been because he had seen the error of his ways, nor because he had realized that the Egypt had become corrupt and inhumane, no, it would have been nothing more than a gesture made to the brother he grew up with.  Had he released the Hebrew slaves, he would have simply increased the numbers of the other slaves.  It was time for Egypt and the Hebrews to see what happens when man turns his back on God and on his fellow man for the sake of the wealth that gold promises.

Man has lost his heart.  The industrialized nations of the world are Egypt.  In the United States, Congress represents Pharaoh and its heart has been hardened to the plight of the majority of the people.  The government and all of those with power worship at the alter of insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, banks, and all of the movers and shakers Wall Street.  And we are the Hebrew slaves.  We are enslaved by the insurance companies that take our money and give back nothing.  We are enslaved by the pharmaceutical companies that charge so much for medications that people die because they cannot afford them.  We are enslaved by the banks that charge so much money for credit card interest that we can never pull ourselves out from the debt that they pile on our backs.

We are the slaves and we are not going to be freed.  Those who could free us have had their hearts hardened.  We will be freed when the system collapses under the weight of its own inequity.  We will be freed by God, but that will only be the beginning.  We have already been given the commandments by which we must live.  We already know they type of people we must become to enter the promised land.  We must become the promised land.  We must build something new.  We must not attempt to recreate the golden towers that enslaved us.  We must redefine success and greatness.  We must establish a new path for our children to follow, one that is not for the self but for all.  We must become one people, and one family.  We will have no choice.  We are slaves, but it is time to build a free world.  We will not recover, we must reinvent.  We must acknowledge the chains that bind us and know we are bound by the chains of our desires.  And when we relinquish those desires, we unlock the chains. We will then lift the fog that hides our future and once again see a light to follow.

Success and Failure

What we consider failure is merely a rehearsal for success

Belief is the greatest factor in whether or not we succeed in reaching our goals. Whether we believe that we are able to reach them or whether we believe that the tools that we have will bring us to our goals is the determining factor. There is a story about a German troop during World War II that was out of guns. The commander handed each soldier an imaginary weapon and told him that this weapon was superior to any other. He told them that they only had to point it at their enemy and say, “Bang bang” and the enemy would drop down dead. One day the soldier, as he was fighting in the field of battle saw an enemy soldier, pointed his imaginary weapon and said, “Bang bang” and enemy fell down dead. He was so excited that he charged after each enemy soldier that he could find pointing his imaginary weapon and yelling, “Bang bang” and they all dropped like flies.

Soon after he heard the Star Spangled Banner playing in the air, and he knew that the Americans were coming. He was ready, he pointed his imaginary gun at the first American soldier that he saw and yelled, “Bang Bang”, and nothing happened, the soldier kept advancing. He did it again and still the American soldier kept advancing. Soon the German soldier found himself on the ground dying, and as he slowly faded out of consciousness he heard the American soldier saying, “I’m in a Tank I’m in a tank, I’m in a tank I’m in a tank, I’m in a tank, I’m in a tank…”

One way to succeed at reaching our goals is to go forward with the belief that we ourselves are fully capable of reaching that goal. Another way is to believe that we have the tools, the abilities that are needed to reach that goal. A third way is to be so focused on our goals that we do not even consider that we cannot reach them. In this way we do not even acknowledge any obstacles and therefore they are not given the life that they need in order to be obstacles in the first place. This is how many people who do not have any great amount of belief in themselves reach their goals.

The main thing that each of the above ways of succeeding has in common is the fact that they are all moving in the direction of their goal. So long as we move, the Universe will assist us in getting anywhere that we need to go. That forward movement is in itself an act of believing whether or not we are aware of it. We are all given the same keys to success at birth. However we are all given different things to succeed at. There are, as many people who were born with money who do not make anything of their lives in the world, as there are people who are born without money and do.

What we need to achieve, and whatever it is that we want, are not things that come to us from the world it is what we bring from ourselves out to the world. Everyone has a talent. Everyone has that specific talent that is required to achieve whatever it is that they came here to achieve. Sometimes we must know exactly what it is that we want in order to find that particular talent that we each have. Sometimes we have a talent that we do not know what to do with. That may not even be the talent that is immediately connected with our hearts desire. Yet once we connect with our hearts desire, we will find where our talents fit in.
Pope John Paul II wanted to be an entertainer; I recently watched a movie based upon a story that he had written. To creatively enrich the lives of others was his heart’s desire. Through following his desires he was led to the Church. He has now as the Pope, written a book and produced a CD. He did not end up where he planned as a child to be, or even as a young man to be, but it was from following his own plan that fate was able to guide his success in the Master Plan. He certainly was not a failure, yet he is on a much different stage than he had dreamed of.

Success and failure are both part of a process, failure is the means to success, but succeeding is something that does not end with reaching one goal. It is only after reaching one goal that we are able to see the next one. Once we are in sight of our next goal we will fail and fail until we succeed. Again the process will begin.

The fact is that we cannot succeed without failing. Failure is actually nothing but practice. Failure is rehearsal. How would we ever learn to walk if we were afraid of falling? What would happen if we accepted falling down the first time that we tried to walk as a failure? If that were the case we would all be crawling failures. As children there was never any doubt that in order to accomplish whatever it was that we wanted to do be it sitting crawling walking or riding a bike we would have to fall. Falling was not an issue. And we did not stop and count how many times we fell, our eyes were on our goal and we knew that we would reach it.

The sense of failure is really a byproduct of living in comparison to others or to the standards set by others. We were taken from being the best that we could be to being better than someone else is. The thing that impresses me when I hear successful athletes speak is that they usually say that they are not competing with others they are competing with themselves. They seek to better their best. It is this going outside of ourselves, living in comparison to others that causes us to judge ourselves as failures. What we consider as a failure could merely be a redirection. It could be a turn in our path that the Universe intends for us to take. With each step, regardless of where we seem to be, we are gathering what we need for the next. We are gathering the strengths, the tools, and the abilities that we need to go on. The heavier the weight that we lift, the stronger our muscles will become, physically, as well as emotionally. Yet, we never lift it on the first try, it takes time, that is not failure, that is work.

Many people are afraid of failure, so in order to avoid it they do not try. They do not realize that once we take the first step the possibilities before us are endless, but if we do not take a step we will go nowhere. We do not have to know where we are going in order to get there. We are here to find our way. Even if we do not exactly know our destination we can be still certain that we won’t end up on the wrong place. In life anywhere we end up will be right. Sometimes we are guided by a light that we do not even know that we see. The only way to fail is to quit. So long as we keep going the road will lead us to success.
In actuality we are all in the process of succeeding. Some of us have a longer road than others have. If my goal is ten miles away and I am competing with someone whose goal is five miles away, logic says that he will reach his goal before I will. Yet there are two separate things going on here. If the object is to reach ones goal, the winner is the one who reaches his goal. Therefore the only way to win is to keep striving until the goal is reached.

If the object is to beat someone else, there is no winning because competition can never be fair. There will always be another someone else. Someone will always have an advantage and someone else will always have a disadvantage. There are no equal playing fields, yet the ultimate playing field is always equal. We can all reach our goals. We can use competition to help push ourselves, or to help keep ourselves motivated. We should not use it to compare or to judge our success or failure.

Living in comparison is not living. Sometimes as an astrologer, I will look at a chart and thank God that it is not mine. Yet I know how many astrologers look at my chart and feel the same way. Nothing is one size fits all. Each life is tailor made for only the person who is living it. I could no more handle what someone else endures as I could find happiness in what makes someone else happy. My life would be empty for anyone else who tried to live it, for it is my reality and everyone’s illusion. There is no point in comparison.
If something makes you happy I cannot assume that it will make me happy. It does not mean that there is something wrong with me. If your shoes are not comfortable on my feet it does not mean that there is something wrong with my feet.

We need to find within ourselves what makes us happy. We need to find within ourselves what it is that we want. Somehow, we need to start with our childhood and filter out what others told us was right for us and seek deep inside for what we know feels right. The guarantee is that if we seek we shall find. If we intend to find what our hearts desire is, it will be shown to us. Our task, our journey is to find our way to that hearts desire. We just have to accept the fact that it is out there for us. We will reach it if we sincerely desire it.
The greatest guarantee of success is to find ones road and to travel it. We each have a road and a destination, and each road leads to that destination. Success is promised to us. It is there, we just have to keep going and not give up. More than anything we must not compare ourselves to others. We should find hope in the successes of others not lose our hope because of them. The Universe gave us each exactly what we need. All we have to do is find a way to activate it.

What is the measure of success after all? It is not what we have but what we feel about what we have. Success is not measured in the things that we own but in the life that we live. Success is not in our pockets but in our hearts. More than anything else, the person with the greatest success is one who has the most to take with him when he leaves.