The art of silence: A virtual museum to inspire stillness

Silence exercise for the week: Go to a museum

When was the last time you went to a museum? There is so much inspiration for silence there!

I just went to a museum today: Not the Guggenheim–the Google museum.  In an effort to find non-verbal inspiration for stillness, I went to Google Images and here is what I found.

Which of these paintings inspires the stillness in you?

Are you inspired by nature?

Leonid-Afremov-Winter-Silence

Leonid-Afremov-Winter-Silence

Or..

Joseph Mallord William Turner:  Norham Castle: Sunrise

Joseph Mallord William Turner: Norham Castle: Sunrise

Are you inspired by order?

Laszio Thorsen Nagel: Plaid Strokes

Laszio Thorsen Nagel: Plaid Strokes

Or randomness?

Joan Miro: Woman and Bird in the Night

Joan Miro: Woman and Bird in the Night

Or minimalism?

Justin Page Wood: Taupe

Justin Page Wood: Taupe

How about the face of stillness?

Detail of an angel in Madonna of the Rocks, Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci: Detail of an angel in Madonna of the Rocks

Personally, I am inspired by images of empty rooms, light, and windows.

Lee Ufan: Silence Room

Lee Ufan: Silence Room

Looking Back: Ida Lorentzen

Ida Lorentzen: Looking Back

Figure at a Window: Salvadore Dali

Salvador Dali: Figure at a Window

Have I inspired you to visit a museum this week? If you roll up all the time you usually spend on Facebook in a typical week, you will likely have enough time to stop by a museum or gallery in your town or city. If you’re looking for some more quiet in your life, this is a good way to do it.

Don’t “think” while you’re there. Don’t seek out specific artists. Don’t look at the titles of the paintings. Seek out the ones that speak to your soul and sit with them for a few minutes. Soak them up. Art is a great cure for the noisies.

Noises off: The two channels of chatter

IMG_0926“In a sense, silence is God.” –Anthony de Mello

No one can dispute the lack of silence these days. Gone are the days when your boss could only contact you between 9 and 5. Gone are the days when you had to actually be home to get a phone call. Gone are the days when TV was a family event that took place after the dinner hour. No Hulu or Netflix or on demand programming to access on a variety of devices in a variety of places. It has all crept up on us so… silently. And now here we are–if our lives were a forest and noisy distractions were weeds–we would be an overgrown mess.

But there is another form of chatter that gets in the way of silence. My husband and I once went to a 3-day silent retreat. Initially I thought it would be great to get away from it all with my book and chill out from my busy life. But this silence? This was deafening silence. It was like quitting  heroin and dealing with withdrawal. I couldn’t focus on my book, because this silence kept ringing in my ears. When I saw my husband at dinner, his face confirmed he had the same experience–but his withdrawal had been even more crippling. “Whoa–that freaked me out!” he told me. “I had to sit with my thoughts!  That was scary!” IMG_1422To go back to the forest analogy, many say that silence is like the sun to us.  Silence is not just a microsecond of space between two sounds. It’s active. It’s real. We need it in order to be a fully realized human being. If we allow the weeds of busyness, human interaction, and constant distractions to proliferate unattended, the sun can’t reach our souls.

When I went on that retreat, I thought that all that was going to happen would be the absence of external noise. But as my husband testified, after the external noise is gone, what is left is an internal noise that remained to be dealt with. Now that’s the hard part. You can shut off your computer, but it’s harder to shut off your thoughts. Thich Nhat Hanh calls this RNST: Radio Non-Stop Thinking.

When we listen to music, read a book, or pick up a newspaper, it’s usually not because we truly need that activity or information. We often do it mechanically–perhaps because we’re used to doing it or because we want to ‘kill time’ and fill up the discomfiting sense of empty space. –Thich Nhat Hanh in Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World full of Noise

So my discovery at that Benedictine retreat is that there are two kinds of noise: exterior and interior. The exterior noise is the bombardment of Facebook news feeds, text messages, advertising messages, ringtones, superficial human interactions, TV shows, CNN headlines.  Interior noise is the mental chatter that keeps our mind from setting down–the replaying of the past and the fears and hopes of the future–in other words, stuff that doesn’t even exist. The antidote to exterior noise is unplugging from the outside chatter. The antidote to interior noise is plugging in–to the present moment.

Thankfully we don’t need a three-day retreat to face silence head-on. All we need is mindfulness and awareness. As anyone who has practiced meditation can attest, growing in awareness is like practicing any discipline–you start and take few steps and expect it to be difficult until it isn’t. But on the other hand, those who are more practiced agree that you can’t “achieve” meditation results, because unlike our bucket lists and our financial goals, success in meditation is success at just being. Often silence and beingness just come in a flash. The Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello, author of Seek God Everywhere, Reflections on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, relays one of his singular experiences in awareness:

The day before yesterday I went to say Mass for some people in the seminary. I rose early in the morning and went outside to wait for a group of scholastics (Jesuits in training who have not taken final vows). It was quite cold. I was looking up at the sky and this thing hit me, this silence. It lasted for about a minute, but I am still experiencing the effects of it. It is the world we know but there is no knowing. We suddenly sense it. Each of us experiences it in different ways.

What has your experience been in mindfulness? How do you cultivate it in your life? When has it caught you by surprise? Please feel free to comment.

My theme for Lent: Speaking up about silence

Yawn.. stretch…Good morning!  Has a year really gone by already?

The name of the blog is Silent Entry and that title has proven to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. I haven’t wanted to write. Words just weren’t coming! The past year has been a chrysalis of words and ideas in hibernation. Yet I haven’t wanted to disturb this foment of wordlessness or prod it prematurely. Words this past year have been unwanted, and diversionary, and writing itself felt like a tailoring a cloak for a manikin . Yes, having a blog in which a silence is a journey becomes its own enemy.

But now, Ash Wednesday seems like a good time to wake up and explore silence itself: explore the everyday tension between silence and words; silence and thought; silence and movement; silence and the physical world; silence and the interior world.

Alrighty then.. where’s that snooze button?  That’s enough stretching of my atrophied writer’s sea legs for now. But moving forward, this Lent I intend to provide support and ideas for growing the spaces between our thoughts and turning down the noise in everyday life.  I think this quote by Kierkegaard is a nice place to start:

As my prayer become more attentive and inward
I had less and less to say.
I finally became completely silent.
I started to listen
– which is even further removed from speaking.
I first thought that praying entailed speaking.
I then learnt that praying is hearing,
not merely being silent.
This is how it is.
To pray does not mean to listen to oneself speaking,
Prayer involves becoming silent,
And being silent,
And waiting until God is heard.

–Søren Kierkegaard, quoted by Joachim Berendt in The Third Ear, translated by Tim Nevill (Shaftsbury, England: Element Books, 1988).

 

Releasing the obsession with possession is a me-hugging idea

churchill-giving-quote1Pope Francis’s latest tough-love sting was against people who are too wrapped up in consumerism, at the cost of our spiritual individual and collective lives.

We live in a world that is always more artificial, in a culture of ‘making,’ of ‘profit,’ where without realizing it, we exclude God from our horizon…
Often today, giving freely is not part of daily life, where everything can be bought and sold, where everything is calculated and measured — Pope Francis, March 5, 2014
Instead of keeping balance sheets in the heart, he tells us that the best way to give is to not expect anything in return.  This way, he said, people can free themselves “from the obsession of possession, from the fear of losing what we own, from the sadness of those who do not want to share their well-being with others.”

He tells us that the downside of not just having stuff, but loving our stuff, costs more than cash or credit because it’s taxed with our peace of mind.  Once you have stuff, you invite fear–fear of losing it, fear of having it taken.  We have to be on alert and vigilant.  Maybe even anxious.  Perhaps that’s why so many people think back nostalgically to times when they had nothing, but were happy.  I remember when my husband and I were just married, we had very little.  We were leaving for the day shortly after moving into our first place, and I asked him, “Shouldn’t we lock the door?”  To which he responded, “Nah, if a robber came in, he’d probably feel sorry for us and leave us a buck.”

I got no lock on the door
That’s no way to be
They can steal the rug from the floor
That’s OK with me
Cause the things that I prize
Like the stars in the skies
All are free!
–I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin, George Gershwin, Porgy and Bess

So excessive attachment to our stuff causes us to be fearful.  Pope Francis also talks about the sadness obsession with possession brings, because being preoccupied with our stuff cuts us off from others.  We become territorial.  We develop a “what’s mine is mine” mentality, and to protect what’s mine, like every toddler, we become little watchdogs to prevent others from getting too close.  It’s a zero-sum game.   If they get, I lose.

Well, actually, some say it’s not a zero-sum game.   When I share or when I give, I don’t lose.  I gain.  Who says so?  Well, the Bible for one, which instructs us to give our first one-tenth to God.  And what does that do?  It makes us prosper.  It makes US prosperous.  And this is not just a woo-woo idea by a New Age author or a biblical scholar.  George Clason says in the classic prosperity book, The Richest Man in Babylon.  Modern-day financial guru David Bach teaches the same in his blog:

This notion—that the more we give back to others, the more comes back to us—is not simply a religious doctrine; it is virtually a law of nature. If you are looking to attract more wealth and happiness into your life, the fastest way I know how is to give more.

He said it–it is a law of nature.  We are hard-wired to share.  It makes us feel good, and somehow a flow is generated by giving that acts like a boomerang–it all comes back to us with more.   Obsession with stuff=sad; Sharing=glad!    Plus, a side benefit of letting go of obsession with possession is that by buying less, you are minimizing the impact of all this stuff on our air, land, and water.

In short, sharing, giving, and anti-consumerism may sound like a tree-hugging idea, but it is really a me-hugging idea.

How do we know if we are obsessed with our stuff?   Good question.  Richard Foster, in his book Freedom of Simplicity, offers a simple way to find out.   He says to start by just giving something away.   Not that ugly shirt you got for Christmas.  Give away your favorite shirt.   Just for the fun of it.  Examine your feelings when you do.     Frankly, as for me, way too often when I think about releasing many of my own possessions I feel exactly like that young man in the New Testament that turned away sad after Jesus proposed to him that his possessions may be coming between him and his spiritual yearnings.   Like him, I’ve already flunked the entrance exam.

We have, for the past several decades, established the paradigm that progress is measured in GDP.  Outward upward mobility is more important than inward upward mobility.   But we are seeing that there is a hangover that comes with the addiction to stuff.  We are seeing many symptoms of a sick society, and it’s nothing a little more sharing, a little less hoarding couldn’t cure.

I remember a book I read in grammar school about a dad who gave his son and daughter each their own garden to tend.  Each child started with the same size plot of land and the same number of flower seeds.  Both gardens grew and flourished.   One day the boy decided to cut some flowers for his teacher; his sister didn’t want to deprive herself of the beautiful blooms she had cultivated.  One day the boy decided to cut some flowers for the elderly neighbor; again, the sister didn’t want to share the flowers–she was enjoying them too much.  The boy continued to cut his flowers and give them away; the girl continued to keep them for herself.

Anyone who knows anything about gardening knows exactly what happened.  The boys garden soon was prolific in its blooms–because every flower cut yielded at least two more.  The girl’s garden unfortunately just went to seed and languished.   The moral of the story if obvious.  Who had the prettiest garden now?

Some people, proponents of the gift economy like Charles Eisenstein, are suggesting that maybe we see that this story is not just a parable about a family garden–but perhaps the concepts are true on a global scale.  Perhaps we dismantle some of the economic dogmas that are proving to be counter-productive, such as the idea that hoarding money–when our brothers are in need and when our resources are being decimated–might bite us in the butt very soon.  Maybe we have to redefine progress on an individual level, and then scale that up to local and global models of economic development.

We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.  –C.S. Lewis

Change? Or Be Changed?

During these sleepy, snowy winter days, I have been reading a book called Stepping Out of Self-Deception:  The Buddha’s Liberating Teaching of No-Self by Rodney Smith.  This is the kind of book you read with a highlighter.

One line that the author quoted really hit me…

We are not here to change the world.  The world is here to change us.”

Yikes–that seems like totally convoluted to many of us.   Some of us who wind up being “Helpers” or “Idealists” in our Enneagrams see this differently.  Haven’t we been attached to our thoughts about how messed up this world is?  Don’t we go into careers driven to our part to change the world?  Don’t we feel the frustration when we see all that is wrong with the world–all that has to be done–and how futile it seems?   We feel like Atlas with the world’s problems on our shoulders–Oh, if only everyone saw the world the way we do!

Even if we wear our “Be the Change you Want to See in the World” it implies action and effort.  But my take-away from Rodney Smith’s quote and from the commentary on it made by Smith is that there is a lot of letting go that needs to occur before we take on the world, or even ourselves.  We are so motivated by “results,” by “goals,” that our self-improvement projects are like an old Victorian home waiting to be restored, making us Weekend Warriors on our own souls.

I can in no way succinctly or accurately describe Smith’s simple illustration of how we move in the horizontal plane vs. the vertical, but in short, the horizontal is where we are most comfortable because it is the road between the past and the future, and all the baggage we take with us on that journey–our memories, our sense perceptions, or fears, our hopes, our to-do lists.  The vertical is where the here and now, where simply “being” resides.   (Forgive me, Mr. Smith for my oversimplification!)   While each has its place, and integration between the horizontal and the vertical is important, we spend too much time on the horizontal, and then when we try to seek the vertical, we become disoriented because it requires leaving behind the land of the horizontal, where we’ve spent our whole lives.   If the horizontal is the head, the vertical is the heart.

We need to find a home in this vertical world of the Present in order to really change.  One of the things that this requires is being still.   It’s hard to harbor stillness in the horizontal.   But the vertical plane is where we get “the right answer” about who we truly are.  We don’t need to “decide” anything, or do checklists to determine our life path.  In fact, we don’t have to “do” anything.    Just allow ourselves to go home to our real selves.

If the idea of allowing the world to change us sounds kind of scary (what, THIS world?  I don’t want to be like this world!), the author doesn’t mean the material world.  He means, I think that, as I was taught by the Benedictine monks, we need to open up the ear of our heart and listen and be responsive to what we  hear.

Today is Ash Wednesday, and so I’m going to concentrate on that this Lent.  Of course “doing something for Lent” is a horizontal plane task, but I’ll just use it as the bus to get me to that space where I can suspend my mind and rest easy in my heart for a spell.

you-have-the-power-to-be-changed

If you like Eckhart Tolle…, Part II: More about The Happy Wanderer, Anthony deMello

I have taken a good long break from writing, and not sure exactly why.   Shoot, my last post was about the election of Pope Francis, and look at all he’s done since then!  That tells you how long of a writer’s break I’ve taken.

But from time to time I’ll check stats here and I’ve noticed that the most popular, most viewed post by far is this one:  “If you like Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, With a Touch of Bill Hicks… You’ll love Anthony deMello.”   It makes me think that people get to the end of books like The Power of Now and realize there’s a whole other world out there where it may be possible to let go of attachments, be one with the present moment, and accept what is.

I hope that some people have been drawn to Anthony deMello as a result of reading that post.    He is so accessible, so light and yet so deep.   Since my last post, I learned that his brother, Bill deMello, wrote a biography about him.  It is called The Happy Wanderer, and it is a great, loving account of the road that “Tony” deMello took in his journey to mystic awareness.   But I will talk more about that later.

I’ve explored other deMello books in the meantime as well:  The Way to Love:  The Last Meditations of Anthony deMello and Sadhana:  A Way to God.  

  • The Way to Love is a series of short chapters, or meditations on topics such as how to unloose the false beliefs that keep us from happiness; dealing with feelings of insecurity, how essential it is to cleave ourselves from our attachments before we can love.
  • Sadhana:  A Way to God is a more structured series of spiritual exercises, described by Amazon as “Truly a one-of-a-kind, how-to-do-it book, this small volume responds to a very real hunger for self-awareness and holistic living. It consists of a series of spiritual exercises for entering the contemplative state — blending psychology, spiritual therapy, and practices from both Eastern and Western traditions.”  Apparently the word Sadhana means “A means of accomplishing something.”    Very useful tool.

Once you’ve read a couple of these books, you may be inspired to check out the credentials of the author.  After all, f you want to learn to paint, you look to Picasso.  If you want to learn to build a building, you look to Frank Lloyd Wright.  If you want want spiritual awareness and enlightenment, you look to one who has walked the walk.

And that’s where Bill deMello’s The Happy Wanderer comes in.  Bill gives us a window into the life of his extraordinary brother, but he does not rely on just his memory or experience with him.  He was just a young boy when his brother left home, so Bill has done extensive research and conducted interviews with friends and colleagues in the Jesuit community who knew his brother in order to give us an accurate and multi-dimensional picture of who he was. At the same time, Bill’s love and appreciation for his brother shines through the book, which becomes both tribute to Tony and spiritual inspiration for the reader.

“The Happy Wanderer” title comes from a song deMello loved.  And it is an apt title for how he lived his life, as a person with no attachments, a wanderer in God’s world;  joyfully inspiring us to pick up our knapsacks and bask in the beauty of every moment.  His books take us with him on that journey.

And by the way, click this link to go to Bill’s Facebook tribute to his brother’s writings–and “like” it while you’re there!

We have a pope! Ring the bells that still can ring…

crack-light

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

How I LOVE that lyric from Anthem by Leonard Cohen.

On March 13, I was sitting in my living room proofing a report that was due to a client.  My husband burst out of his home office, looking for me.  “I hear the bells!  Do you hear the bells?”  Thinking he was going a little daft, I feared for a moment, but then got it…  the bells!  The bells of St. Augustine, the Catholic church at the bottom of my street.  The bells I catch at 8:45 every morning when walking Nessie.   Those bells ring at 8:45 every morning, summoning people to 9:00 Mass.

But it wasn’t 8:45.   It was in the afternoon.  And all of a sudden I remembered how the bells rang when Pope Benedict was elected.  So, this meant there was a new pope!  Now, my husband isn’t even Catholic, and for that matter, neither am I.  But I have certainly have brought my Catholic heritage into my life with no apologies.

So the bells were ringing, and with that, I was searching CNN.com.  Sure enough, habemus papum!  We have a pope!  And a simple Pope at that!   He cooks his own meals.  Eschews the fancy cardinal digs for a small apartment.  Rides the bus instead of taking a limousine.

CNN made good work of talking about this, how Pope Francis is a man of firsts–first non-European pope; the first Jesuit pope; first to choose the name of Francis, first to petition his flock to pray for him before he prayed for them.

Then, of course, the backlash.   Maybe he wasn’t so perfect after all.  Maybe he hadn’t done enough.  He should have done more to free and protect Argentinian Jesuits during the Dark War.  He didn’t back gay marriage.

When I started reading all this stuff about how “imperfect” Pope Francis is, I remembered Leonard Cohen’s lyric.  I remembered Dorothy Day who had an abortion, who was divorced.  I thought about the former party animal St. Augustine.   And then, what about Victor Hugo’s inspirational Jean Valjean–a thief, turned prisoner, turned ex-con, turned man of God.

I recently watched a Youtube video in which one of Dorothy Day’s commentator’s said that the meaning behind Dorothy Day’s famous quote:  “Don’t call me a saint.  I don’t want to be dismissed so easily”  is that designating her a saint lets us all off the hook.  If we expect saints to be perfect, we don’t have to strive for sainthood, because we’ve already “broken the seal” of sinfulness.  Kind of like when you abandon a diet after succumbing to pint of Cherries Garcia ice cream.  Well, guess what.  Yes, we’ve all broken the seal of sinfulness by virtue of being born.

But accepting that we, as well as all the saints, have inherited this original sin offers us hope.   Because all we have to do is accept God’s grace and take up the cross.  Anyone can do this!  We aren’t that special!  But paradoxically, we ARE that special.   We are special because we have cracks–not because we are perfect.  Our cracks are the peephole to God’s grace, and the way for the light to shine on others.

So when some people bash Pope Francis, I just want to say, “He’s not perfect.  Duh.  But he has lived among the poor.  He does not dismiss them.  He has washed the feet of AIDS patients.  He does not dismiss them.”  And as pope, it seems he will not be dismissing the imprisoned on Maundy Thursday, when he will go to a minor’s prison outside Rome instead of St. Peter’s Basilica, where he will wash of the feet of young offenders,

If he can stay true to himself, it will be a wonderful thing for the people, for the Church, and for the world at large.  If he can continue to perform these simple yet profound acts of humility and love for all of humanity, warts and all, he will shine a light on what we all wish a Christ-follower and Church leader to be.  And he will shine a light on the path that we can all follow.

Why aren’t there more footprints in the snow?

footprintIt snowed in the Northeast last weekend, as everyone knows.   We got a decent amount of snow, but not too much to handle.

I took Nessie out this evening for her walk, and I happened to notice that there was only one other set of footprints in the snow out in the park, back by the creek where we routinely take her.  Maybe they were a neighbor’s–more likely they were my husband’s from when he took Nessie out yesterday.

I live in a suburb with hundreds of homes surrounding this little suburban oasis of a park.  But, with all those homes, there were no other footprints in the snow.   I don’t get it.

The woods were beautiful this evening–smokey grey and looking not unlike a Japanese pen-and-ink drawing.  The snow-protected creek bubbled with clean, clear, cold water.   The duck entourage quacked while navigating their way down the waterway.  And I couldn’t believe that perhaps I was the only witness.

The walkway into the park had been cleared by the township.  Perhaps the other dog walkers took that less-soggy route.  What a shame that we’ve moved so far from natural life that we think we should only walk on the cleared tarmac, and that we must avoid wet crunch of the snow and the icy, crackling, canopy of the woods.

How gratitude fuels prosperity

thank youYes, I’m still working through my prosperity classics.

One of the abstracts in Tom Bowden-Butler’s book sounded so interesting to me that I looked it up on Amazon and found that it was only a couple of bucks on Kindle, so I bought it.  It was Charles Fillmore’s Prosperity.

Charles Fillmore was one of the early New Thought leaders of the last century.   He founded Unity, a church within the New Thought movement which includes thinkers and spiritual leaders such as early ones like James Allen to modern-day New Thought practitioners like Caroline Myss.

One of the things you find in a lot of these New Thought/Positive Thinking books is that the secret sauce is gratitude.  You can work your butt off.  You can list goals.  You can network a web around every mentor and business leader and prospect in the country, but unless you do all of this with an “attitude of gratitude” your mileage on the road to prosperity is going to be akin to that of a Hummer.

“Many people who order their lives rightly in all other ways are kept in poverty by their lack of gratitude.” – Wallace Wattles

However, if you simply fill the tank with gratitude for anything that comes your way–if you simply thank God for the mundane as well as the miraculous, you may find you’re driving your way to prosperity at 50mpg.    Much higher efficiency.

Why is this?  To be sure, the mystics all talk about gratitude.  Meister Eckhart famously said that “If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you’ that will suffice.”  But what does that have to do with opening up the door to abundance–to prosperity?

Poet, author and teacher Stephen Levine says:

Gratitude is the highest form of acceptance. Like patience, it is one of the catalytic agents, one of the alchemist’s secrets, for turning dross to gold, hell to heaven, death to life. Where there is gratitude we get the teaching. Where there is resistance we discover only that it keeps us painfully ignorant.

So when we are grateful we tap into the flow.   When we tap into the flow, we have access to an aura of abundance that that creates a magnetic attraction.  People become attracted to us.   Doors become open to us.  We, no longer resistant to what is, are open to walking through those doors fearlessly.

Daniel Peralta describes this phenomenon in Louse L. Hay’s book, Gratitude: A Way of Life:

When you express gratitude, you raise the vibrations around you to a higher frequency. You create positive energy that emanates out from you and returns to you as wonderful experiences. You become magnetic. Good things and good people gravitate toward you because you’re such a joy and delight to be around.

An attitude of gratitude is naturally attractive. It has the power to turn challenges into possibilities, problems into solutions, and losses into gains. It shifts the energy. It expands our vision and allows us to see what might normally be invisible to someone with a limiting attitude.

So, taking this concept, adopting it, and making it “actionable” in the parlance of business leaders means that once that gratitude has seeped into your consciousness like rum in sponge cake, you are in the position of accepting your present circumstances.  More than accepting them, you embrace them.  You call them good.

Good leads to good.  So if you’re starting from a place that you deem to be undesirable, what good can come of it?   So by turning the switch from the attitude of scarcity to an attitude of plenitude, you are on a different trajectory.  You are on your way to exponential goodness.

“We should form the habit of blessing everything that we have. We know that we are setting the law of increase into operation.” — Charles Fillmore

So, let’s just lean into our gratitude.  Let’s not just thank God for the obvious.  Let’s thank God for everything that is now in our field of vision.  Everything we can see.  Everything we can embrace joyfully.  Everything we can accept gratefully.  Everything we can change purposefully.

Here’s a poem about the joy of gratitude that expresses how I’ve felt at times:

I Kissed It

I was ironing the other day
And I found myself
Kissing
My son’s white T-shirt
Size 8
It was a silly thing to do
I did it anyway

I was wondering what to cook the other day
And I found myself
Kissing
A small rutabaga
It was a silly thing to do
Kissing a rutabaga
(Purply-waxy little thing!)
I looked around sheepishly
To be sure I was alone
And I kissed it

Some things make sense to kiss
You kiss a spouse
You kiss a cheek
Or two, if you’re in France

But there are things
So beautiful
So wonderful
So awe-inspiring
(To my eyes anyway)

That the desire wells up
Irresistibly
And I…
Sshh…
Just have to sneak a peck!

A silly way (to be sure)
To simply say
Thank you

–C.M.Boyd  ©2012

What’s Your New Year’s Prosperity Affirmation?

bart-simpson-chalkboard_www-txt2pic-comThis year I’m not doing New Year’s resolutions.  I’m doing New Year’s affirmations.

Remember when our teachers made us write things on the board 100 times in order to modify our behavior?  Well, maybe they had something in common with people like James Allen and Wayne Dyer.  And maybe they were really on to something.

I got an Amazon gift card from my son for Christmas.  So, I spent some time perusing the seemingly limitless choices, and then a light bulb when off.  Why not get one of Tom Butler-Bowdon‘s books?  Years ago I got his 50 Success Classics on MP3 and listened while I was driving.  I loved it.  It was just enough to get the gist of the classic works, already abstracted and synthesized.  And the bonus is his “In a Nutshell” where he gives you the key takeaway of the whole book.

So, getting his one book is like getting 50 books–and 50 great, time-tested books at that.

This time around, I chose 50 Prosperity Classics.   That choice may seem weird for someone like me, who writes about people like Peace Pilgrim and Charles Eisenstein and who basically feels that unlimited economic prosperity is going to ruin the environment.  But I looked at the list of authors in this book and they called out to me:  people like James Allen, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Friedman, Paul Hawken, Ayn Rand, Dave Ramsey and Muhammad Yunus.  If that’s not a diverse group of people to put under the prosperity umbrella, I don’t know what is.

What struck me immediately as I started to move through some of the authors was a common thread–the idea that manifesting prosperity is a matter of affirming your prosperity today.  And to me, prosperity doesn’t mean dollars and cents necessarily.  I’m not looking to be a millionaire, or own a better car than the one I currently have (a 2007 Prius), and I certainly don’t want more rooms to clean.  To me, prosperity is about thriving in a holistic sense.  Having physical needs fulfilled is part of it, but really, to me, it’s about creating conditions for your mental, physical, and spiritual being to thrive so that God can work through you.  Prosperity can be the happy result of unclogged spiritual plumbing.  Spiritual clogs can be fear, doubt, lack of imagination, lack of belief, and resignation.

A while back, I touched on Wayne Dyer and his book Wishes Fulfilled.  As a result of reading his book, I spun off with an interest in Anita Moorjani and Neville Goddard.   Reading the 50 Prosperity Classics I was reminded of these inspiring writers who join with James Allen, and Catherine Ponder, and Napoleon Hill in advising us to BE what we want to be NOW.  Don’t say, “I’m going to be healthier.”  Say, “I AM healthy.”   Don’t say, “I’m going to be able to pay my bills.” Say “I AM able to pay my bills.”

Once of the basic tools most of these folks teach in order to manifest prosperity in life is the use of affirmations, like  Catherine Ponder’s “I am the radiant child of God, my mind, body and affairs now express his radiant perfection.” 

Some people may think that affirmations are New Age-y and cheesy, but the most pragmatic, successful people believe in the power of the imagination–people like Richard Branson and Steve Jobs, who simply affirmed and asserted their unique visions.  They didn’t let “reality” stop them from manifesting who they were and what they were here on earth to do.  Reality is what we make of it.  It’s not a wall–it’s the window of our minds, thoughts, and hearts.

All these prosperity books are replete with stories of people who were able to manifest their realities.  I might think those stories were fiction, if I didn’t have a story of my own, but I do.    Someday I’ll tell it.

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