You Always Have A Choice

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You always make a choice

You make a choice

To be the driver of your live

Or

You make a choice to be

The passenger

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But in choosing to be

The driver be aware

Of not only the destination

Bit also the passing of life

Along the way

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And if you choose to be

The passenger,

Choose to share in knowing

The destination

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Do not just idly watch life

As it passes by

You can choose to make

Each decision as it comes

Or you can choose to follow

The decisions of others

Whichever choice you make

Choose to be responsible

Because

Whether Active or passive

Whether Leading or following

Whether Moving or staying

You have made a choice

A decision

Active or passive

And In the quiet acceptance

Of your choice

In the quiet acceptance

Of your responsibility

You will find

Quiet power

And active peace

The Only Real World Is The One Within

Man should discover his own reality and not thwart himself. For he has his self as his only friend, or as his only enemy. A person has the self as friend when he has conquered himself, But if he rejects his own reality, the self will war against him. Hinduism.
Bhagavad-Gita 6.5-6
There is a children’s tale about a woman who felt that her house was too small, so she went to a wise man to advise her, and he told her to bring in one animal to live in her house. Each time she felt the house growing smaller, she was advised to bring one more animal into the house, when the house was so crowded that she could no longer move, she was told to take them all out of the house. When she did this, her house seemed large and roomy, and she was grateful for the space that she had.

The house did not change. Her perception of the house changed and the same house that she once hated became a house for which she felt gratitude. That gratitude opened her to feeling joy. Imagine for a moment, that it rains for two weeks straight how beautiful and joyous you feel on the day you look out and see the blue sky and a brightly shining sun. We spend our lives wanting what other people have, the job that provides for the house on the hill, the job that pays for the Porsche or the Mercedes, instead of the job that affords you the junkyard reject on wheels that you are driving. Imagine that you walk in today and you get your pink slip. Now you can’t even pay for the junkyard wreck let alone your rent, food, children’s clothes etc. Go one step further and imagine that the phone rings and they offer you the same job back. Now you don’t care about the house on the hill, you don’t care about the Porsche or the Mercedes, instead you thank God for that phone call, and that dirty office, or that lousy cash register which shines like a brand new penny!!
For a time, generally in proportion to the time that you spent without the job, you are grateful for every difficult day that you go to work and you don’t even give a second thought to what it doesn’t give you because you are so grateful to have what it does. I had some jewelry that had meant so much to me when I received it, but, as time went on, it became stale and valueless to me. Then one day the jewelry was gone, I panicked, and when, after two days of searching, I found it, it was like the first day I had ever laid eyes on it. I felt such overwhelming joy and gratitude that it was actually mine. All of these things, the sun, the sky, the job, the car, those things that shone for one moment in your life and now were dull, overlooked and underappreciated, like the basic fact that you woke up and saw one more day, are always the same as they are in empty situations, like cups to be filled by you with whatever you choose—gratitude and joy or resentment and sorrow. This is life, a chain of consecutive experiences void of emotion until we fill them with whichever emotions we choose.

Man struggles to find life outside himself, unaware that the life he is seeking is within him.’
Kahlil Gibran

Whether we believe that the things occurring in our lives are pre-determined or the result of our free will really doesn’t matter in the end. The indisputable choice that we have is what emotions we fill our experiences with. This is where our free will is at it’s purest. Things don’t fill us with joy or sadness—we fill them. Life doesn’t emote—we do. We enliven our world, we color it, first as individuals, then as generations, as societies, as a species, and finally as souls. Even so, the world in which we are born has been colored, to some extent, by those who have preceded us, our personal world, our subjective world—the world that is there for our particular journey is, for all intents and purposes, colorless and formless until we give it color and form; until we label each person and each experience good, bad, painful or joyful.

‘We choose our joys and our sorrows long before we experience them.’ Kahlil Gibran

My daughter, Lia, told me that she could deal with anything so long as she could label it. This is because “out there” is meaningless until we bring it inside, label, and classify it. We must give it meaning and color within our own description of the world. When we are young, we learn language—we learn the descriptions of the impressions that we receive from the outside world. We are told that a certain object is a table, that a table is a flat surface supported by four legs. In our brain which is our personal computer, we are not able to make infer that all flat surfaces with four legs are tables. Our brains take the labels that we are given for the object as a whole, then they dissect the object into its parts. By doing this, our brains can automatically make connections to things that are the same as or different than.

Labeling and classifying becomes more difficult when we deal with intangibles, such as experiences. When we are very young we dissect, label, and classify experiences in the same way as we do everything else—we record what we are told and what we see, i.e., the reactions of our parents, who are our first teachers, to the appropriate stimuli. When we are faced with situations that our brains tell us match one of the experiences to which we have a recorded parental response, we mimic that response. Whenever we feel a contradictory response coming from within ourselves, we push it away as inappropriate relying on the blueprint of the world that we received as children.

As children, we live in the world of our families. We spend the major portion of our time with them and so, we live in their world. Our survival instincts tell us that we must know and understand the world in which we live. More than a thing or an experience, life is a language. As children we learn the words, the idioms, the nuances of the languages of those around me. That language tells us where to go and what to do so we may find our way around and live as best we can within their world. As we approach our teens, we find ourselves spending the better part of our time in a new world, the world of our peers. And because of the large amount of time that we spend, because of the dictates of life at this point, within our peer group, we must create a new language, one which is distinct enough to distinguish one world from the other. This is generally opposite to the language that we grew up with. This new language is contrary to the language of our family environment not because it is a period of rebellion, but because of evolutionary design. We refuse to acknowledge our initial language, the one given to us by our parents, simply because we are unable to maintain two contradictory beliefs. The language of our parents is a combination of the language of the greater whole, the society within which we live, the language of their generation, and their own personal language.

When we move into our peer group, we learn the language of our own generations, and the idioms of our own peer society. It is only after we have an understanding of all of these languages that we are able to confidently begin to develop, and respond to a reality based upon own personally formed languages. During these teen years we slowly develop a language that comes from our personal responses as they are weighed against the database that we now have of prior learned responses from our families, our peer groups, our teachers and advisors, and the greater society around us. As we develop own languages, we gravitate towards others whose languages are the same as, or similar to ours. We develop a religious language, a philosophical language, a moral language—a language that as clearly as possible distinguishes good from bad, dangerous from safe, and happy from sad. It is vital to understand that it is in our personal language, and not in the object or experience being defined by that language, that our feelings and emotional responses are defined.

When I was young, in my personal language, marriage meant happily ever after. My definition of marriage included love, security, and escape from sadness. From watching my struggle as a single mother to support my daughter Tana and myself, Tana was led to define the word children, in her language, as sacrifice and burden. I only told her how much I loved her, but still, from observing my struggle, she developed her own personal language to describe, and thus create, her reality of motherhood.

The world out there is not alive until we animate it with our personal definitions, our personal language. Nothing out there can make us feel one way or another. The feelings that we get from anyone, anything, or any experience don’t lie within the person, thing, or experience but they lie within ourselves, within our languages and the descriptions that our languages give to them. Often, we will say, or hear someone else say, “I just don’t know how to react to that”. This is because it is a situation to which the person has not yet defined and thus, has not yet attributed an emotion. Or, someone will exclaim, “Oh, that’s what that was!” and immediately they will replay the scene in their minds so that they can label, define and feel the appropriate reaction. Life is a coloring book with only the lines drawn in and we can choose whatever colors we want to fill in the pages. Or, life can be viewed as a book filled with Rorschach images, and it is up to us to write the story for each page.

It is possible for life to be fated, and at the same time, it can be true that we create our own reality. These terms are not contradictory. In life, fate means that we don’t chose the stage, the scenery or the props with which we have to work. We have to utilize what is there. We don’t choose our entrances or our exits. But within those limits, we live, and how we live our lives is determined by the language we use to define reality. There is no such thing as objective reality. And our subjective reality can either be determined by consensus or by personal design. To create our own reality we need to siphon off reach inside, find our own language, our own meaning, and use it. What has been a life well lived, or life wasted lies in the definition and not the life. We must stop seeking the definitions of others when it comes to living our own lives. God has planted within our souls the keys to the kingdom. Those keys are the symbols of the language of our individual souls. Out there may or may not be real. It may or may not be predetermined. Reality, however, is personal, and our definition of it determines the quality of our lives. We can choose to accept the consensus defined reality, or define it for ourselves. If we define it for ourselves, we will never outgrow it, because it will grow with us. We will suffer if we expect to do what others define as the right thing at all times. If our reality is defined by others, simply keeping up with their language of right and wrong will be stressful enough in itself. There is a difference between being right and being true. More times than not, right is defined by consensus, but true, is the cornerstone of integrity and it is defined by self alone. We can be certain to be true at all times, if we live by a reality that is defined by our truth.

My grandmother’s language was designed around two words, usefulness and independence. Indulgence and dependence were at the core of my mother’s language. Within the same week, both my mother and my grandmother became wheelchair bound. My grandmother was destroyed by it. In her language, my grandmother’s wheelchair caused her to be dependent and useless. Her disability placed her into an environment where her language rendered her unable to communicate with herself. Because the foundation of her language defined everything in terms of black or white, she couldn’t label and therefore couldn’t understand this new situation. Before she could begin to function, to heal, she had to learn an entirely new language—an entirely new language for describing – coloring – her life. Once she did this, once she allowed for the expansion of her own language to allow for her physical limitation, rather than exclude it, she found that she could be almost as useful and independent as she had once been. For my mother, the loss of her ability to walk fit perfectly into the language of her reality. It required no adjustments or redefinitions.

Life, out there, is neither good nor bad. It is incapable of doing anything to us. It doesn’t have the power to make us feel happy or sad, valuable, useless, lovable, unlovable, beautiful, ugly, smart, stupid, fat, or thin. We can expect nothing of life and life expects nothing of us. Our lives are determined by the quality of our living. That quality is derived from our personal language, the labels, the meanings with which we color the props and the backdrops of our living. Out there has no effect on us, it’s in here.

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Understanding Life In These Spiritual Times

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 as 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

GETTING THROUGH THESE TIMES

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 as 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