Gratitude. It is one of the most amazing feelings in the world. Gratitude is a powerful emotion. We’re always talking about expressing appreciation and gratitude when we want to manifest and co-create our dreams and realities, but what about the things we already have in this MOMENT. (Set aside that All Time Is Now.) You WILL get to where you’re going. There is no other way for it to happen. It WILL happen. But what about NOW. What are you in gratitude for today?
I want you to take out a notebook and a pen, or stationery or perhaps some pretty colored paper. Whatever speaks to you. Today, we’re going to focus on our physicality. Write down TEN THINGS about your body that you are grateful for. TEN THINGS. Things that have already happened. Things that you have already created into existence. Do you have legs that go on forever? What about a really healthy heart? Do you run like a cheetah? Are you blessed with naturally voluminous hair? Don’t be modest! Talk your body up!! The trick is that it has to be your PHYSICAL body.
You see, physicality is what anchors our ability to co-create to our existence right here on Earth. Your body is what will be able to enjoy whatever it is you’re looking to co-create. A house? A car? A new job? The love of your life? More money? World domination…err, world peace… 🙂 Your body is where it all begins. You entered into your body and into this incarnation very intentionally. Instead of viewing your body from a place of lack (“I can’t lose this weight.” “My lungs are always unhealthy.” “I wish I didn’t always have stomach problems.” “Damn this IBS!”), view your body from a place of fulfillment. When you change your programming to focus on fulfillment rather than on lack, amazing things start to happen, Beautiful!! Trust me!
Now go out into the world and flutter a little dance for all of us!! Remember to read your body gratitude list every day and really be in that moment of gratitude for all the amazing things your body does for you!
“Why am I losing friends?” “Relationships with people I’ve known for years are suffering.”
This is a common, albeit uncomfortable, situation to find yourself in. But this is something that comes with the territory of spiritual awakening.
As you begin your ascension process and as you begin to move from duality to unity consciousness, chances are that you will lose friends, and perhaps even family members. Understand that this is for your highest good, for the friends who choose to part ways with you are still stuck in a modality of fear. They are still in a space of victim-based thought patterns and may wish to stay there for quite some time. On the flip side, you may find yourself losing interest in friends you’ve known for a long time because of their refusal to allow themselves to be empowered and to take action in their own lives. Put these two things together and it is a recipe to lose relationships.
While on Earth, incarnated during these times, we attract certain individuals into our lives for very specific reasons. Some are attracted to teach us more about ourselves; some are attracted to give us experiences which we can take on with us for the rest of our time here. No one who has ever crossed your path in life has done so “just because.” There has always been a reason you and your Higher Self have attracted them into your life. But just because you have a specific set of needs at 12 years old–or 28, or 57–doesn’t mean those needs stay with you during your entire incarnation. Needs change, perceptions change, consciousness expands (well, not for everyone).
As a result of this expanded awareness and this heightened sensitivity to the energetic imprints of others, we choose to cut friends out of our lives and they also choose to cut us out from theirs. Some people are very, very satisfied (or perhaps “content” or “settled” are better words to use here) sitting in a place of un-empowered victimization. When they begin to see people in their lives taking accountability for the experiences, it can make them uncomfortable, forcing them into a place of subconscious denial and fear. It perpetuates their role in their own life as victim, as now, “No one understands my experiences!”
That is when they decide to leave. They are the star of their own soap opera, and your new way of thinking and living is messing with their groove, man!
From an energetic standpoint, we all understand vibrational differences. It’s been discussed extensively in our community and most of the people I like to surround myself with understand this concept.
Say you have a scale from 1 – 100. Say that 100 is the highest mark by which to vibrate. Say you vibrate at a 63. Then you have a childhood friend who vibrates naturally (with no desire to increase this vibration) at a 57 and a Facebook friend you’ve never met who vibrates at a 32. As you begin your ascension process and as your consciousness expands and you do a lot of self-work, your vibration slowly begins to rise. Soon it’s a 65, then a 72, and finally, an 89. Years have passed and you have evolved spiritually and you have successfully raised your vibrational level. Now before anyone gets too worked up, higher-vibrational is not necessarily synonymous with “better,” and lower-vibrational is not necessarily synonymous with “worse.” They simply are. And they are subject to change! It simply means that one’s comfort level and resonance level is different than another’s. Two people are no longer energetically or vibrationally compatible. There is a feeling of dissonance when they are together. The same goes for houses. You might have an area of your home you decorated and used to love, though through your spiritual awakening, this space no longer feels good or comfortable to you. You no longer resonate with it. You are at vibrational odds with it. So you change it. And so people change friends, and sometimes even who they consider family.
When this exit of relationships happens in your life, go with it. Go with the flow. Understand that resisting it will only make the experience more difficult and more uncomfortable. Understand that you are not better or worse than the other person, but that you are simply having different journeys and no longer in harmony with one another. Acknowledge this change, honor this change, accept this change, and release this change.
Hey everyone! So I have an old high school friend name Sami. She’s sincerely one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever encountered and she is so giving and compassionate. She is Christian. For a class, she had to ask people of other spiritual systems what they believe and why they believe it. I answered her questions, and then she had follow-up clarifying questions to ask. I thought this might be beneficial for some of you as well.
Sami: What do you value the most?
Charlie: I value my spirituality, my family, and connections with other human beings the most.
S: What books, people, or electronic media inform your life?
C: I try not to let media inform my life, but I do love to read! The books that really played a significant role in my life and development would probably be the “Conversations with God” series by Neale Donald Walsch, anything by Eckhart Tolle, and anything by Deepak Chopra. People would probably be Nathan, my daughter (you can learn so much from 4-year-olds!!), my mentor (for spiritual empowerment and life coaching), and those I surround myself with at work or in social media. And although I mentioned I don’t like to allow electronic media to inform my life, I do find it so fascinating to connect with people through YouTube. I’ve met people from all over the world with so many different ideas about life and how it works that it has just helped me to expand so much.
S: Do you believe that human beings are good, evil, or neither?
C: I believe that human beings are inherently good. In my college psych class, this was actually a debate that one of the groups had to do. The catch was that the professor made people debate FOR the side that they actually disagreed with. I found out that in countries that are not as “civilized” and are more “primitive,” (such as tribal countries), there are lower instances of rape, domestic violence, theft, etc. The reason is because those people value people over objects and material goods. In the Western world, technology and capitalism have driven so much importance on material possessions that we’ve lost the connection we should have with our fellow man, and that is what drives people to be “evil.”
S: Is there such a thing as truth?
C: I believe that everything in our existence is relative. Your Truth may be far different from my Truth. But they are equal Truths and should be treated in equally fair and appreciative ways. Truth can be found in moments of solitude and reflections and during the darkest despair and also during the highest moment of elevation and elation. But the important thing is to stick as closely to our own Truths as possible. Sometimes Truth changes, and that’s okay. Ultimately, what is in your highest good and what makes you feel the most love (versus the most fear) is the closest to Truth. And of course, there is the whole “telling the truth.” That actually doesn’t exist. People cannot tell how things happened. They can only tell someone how they remember it to have happened, or how theyexperienced it as it happened. Nothing in this world is objective; it is all subjective and therefore, there is no such thing as ultimate truth (with a lowercase “t”).
S: What, if anything, happens to people when they die?
C: I believe that people experience what they expect to experience when they die. If they expect to experience heaven, they will experience heaven. If they expect to experience hell, they will experience hell. But this is, in my opinion, only for a short amount of time. When one experiences hell, they will eventually learn that they are able to control their surroundings and their experiences simply by willing it to be different. At that point, they will more than likely choose to experience heaven. And so they will. I personally believe that, when we die, our Spirit/Soul/Essence is reunited with what I refer to as Source Energy (which is essentially God, but without gender and without face). Source Energy is complete Consciousness and Knowing. There, we come to a calm understanding of why we experienced certain things in our most recent incarnation and will we reflect upon those experiences. Then, when we are ready, we will break apart once again from Source and reincarnate into a new life to live our Truths experientially. Since, when we are part of that pure consciousness, we know everything conceptually–we know ourselves as love, we know ourselves and radiant–we want to experience ourselves as those things. In order to experience ourselves as love in the physical incarnation, we must also experience that which love is not. This, I believe, is a never-ending cycle that exists even unto the end of time.
S: Is there a physical world, a spirit world, or neither?
C: I believe there is a physical world, which we are part of. And there are also a multitude of spirit worlds, on different levels of consciousness and existence.
S: Is there a supreme force, power, or being? Can you describe your idea?
C: I do not believe in a separate Supreme Being, such as the Abrahamic view of God.I am in between being a pantheist and a panentheist. A pantheist believes that God is in all things and runs through all things. So, in that, you and I are both God, and the computer screen is God, made manifest. The tree outside your window is God. Not God Itself, but God as in bits of God’s Self. A panentheist believes that God is in all things, but also is a separate and conscious being Itself. I fall between these two beliefs. I believe that this “supreme being” is not a being at all, but expansive pure consciousness. I believe it is perceived by people in the way that is most comfortable and most spiritually fulfilling to that individual. Some experience this (what I call Source) as God, some experience Source as Yahweh, some as Krishna, some as the Buddha, some as Muhammad, etc. But I believe this “being,” which is formless, genderless, and faceless pure consciousness runs through all things and we are all a part of it. If you look at an ant, and you see the ant as a Whole being (that is Source). Yet all the parts that make up the ant–the legs, the head, the molecules and atoms inside its cells–those would be all the creatures and objects in our reality. Inside the ant is a universe of cells all its own, in an intricate web that creates a whole other life. Those cells are us, and the trees, and the animals, and inanimate objects. The ant itself, in this analogy, is Source, or God, or Yahweh, or Krishna. It is a distinct and conscious entity, yet it is not able to experience itself without the intricate network of cells.
S: Is logic to be trusted?
C: Logic is important, but I believe not to be given too much power. I believe there are 2 parts to humans: Ego, and Spirit. Spirit is the direct line to Source, or to God. Spirit is what helps guide us intuitively back to our Truths. Spirit speaks in the form of a subtle whisper and speaks strongly to us through emotion. Ego, on the other hand, would be the logical part of ourselves. Ego’s main purpose is to keep us focused on Ego and focused on the Mind. Ego is the selfish part of us contained in our physical mind. Spirit transcends physicality and retains itself after the body dies. Most people live by Ego. Ego is that part that tells us, “You can’t do that,” “God isn’t real,” “You’re making that up,” “Seeing is believing.” Spirit is more of a wise and patient old man that simply allows us to experience and guides us gently on our paths. Spirit is the part that allows insights and direct messages from Source. Spirit is where our internal, expansive, soul wisdom and understanding and intuition lie. Ego serves to keep us second-guessing. I haven’t found out the purpose of Ego, but I have come to understand that Ego is useful in terms of working with career-centered individuals. Spirit is effective in understanding our life’s purpose and following our intuition and Truth.
S: Are there certain “key beliefs” in what you believe…or like how do you live out this spirituality practically in everyday life? Does it shape the way you live?
C: I have a Code of Ethics by which I strive to live. There are 29 of them and I wrote them myself based on different ethical codes from different spiritual systems. My main key belief is that we are all one, and we are all divine expressions and the perfect translation of Source Energy (or God). As a result, by treating yourself well, you treat others well. By treating others well, you treat yourself well. And I try to honor that everyone is living in this life to experience, and everyone is entitled to have whatever experience best suits them. Live and let live, is basically it. And live with love.
S: How do you know about “Source Energy”?
C: Source Energy is just a name that I personally resonate with. Some call it God, others call it Great Spirit. But because I see it as not only a conscious and sentient being of itself, but also running through all things that exist, Energy is most appropriate for my spiritual practice. And Source, as in it is the Source of all things. How I know of [Source] is just like how you probably know of God. Youexperience God. Your experience of God is the same as my experience of Source. God and Source are the same thing, with different names attached. And I also remove the fear-based illusions from my experience with Source that some people associate with the Abrahamic God.
S: How do you know what you know about different spiritual realms?
C: How I know of life after death, for instance, is from being so intrigued by it that I researched near death experiences and found hundreds and hundreds of accounts from people all of the world, all races, and all spiritual background (or even lack of spiritual backgrounds) having the same experiences. Later down the line, as I was working on clarifying my connection with Spirit/Source and my communication with my higher self/guides/guardians, I realized that I was actually able to communicate with passed relatives of people I was speaking with. It was really bizarre and first and I’m telling you this with the risk of sounding like a nut (lol). But there were certain things that I would just know about people’s passed relatives. It wasn’t a voluntary thing. They (the passed relatives) just sort of popped out whenever they felt like it and I would translate their message to the person I was speaking with and gain validation on what they looked like, their personality, what they wore, etc. Through that, I was really able to gain more confidence in my ability to intuit things that transcend our physical world. And sharing experiences with others, I was able to figure out what really resonated with me and what I believed deep within myself. It’s difficult to describe, but it’s simply a Knowing. Just like how you just Know that God exists and is a part of your life. But it’s not the same as faith. Faith denotes belief and belief denotes following a concept blindly. This knowing that I feel (and I’m sure you feel about certain things) is more concrete and experiential than that.
S: In one part you wrote about how people experience “Source” in different different gods such as Yahweh, Krishna, Buddha, Muhammad etc, so is what you are saying here that its all Source but he manifests himself differently in each religion?
C: Exactly. You got it. He manifests Himself (or Herself, or Itself) differently based on the comfort level of the person as well as how they will be most receptive to His/Her/Its presence.
S: What is the difference between ‘truth’ and ‘Truth’?
C: “truth” is everyday truth, like “Today is Saturday.” “Truth” is divine truth, and it can vary from person to person, but it is your own personal Highest Truth as your experience as a particle of God. Basically when someone is living in their Truth, they are living in their Spirit. They are allowing Spirit to guide them and they are aligned with their Soul Purpose, which is whatever they originally set out to experience in this life. My Truth and your Truth may differ, but because we are both perfect translations, expressions, and manifestations of God/Source/Great Spirit, both Truths are equally valid and should be expressed.
S: Can ‘spirit’ tell something to one person that is completely contradictory to what is says to someone else?
C: So there’s a difference between “spirit” and “Spirit” as well. “spirit” would be the energetic remnants of a person who has passed on and can also be a non-human entity (when I say non-human, please understand that doesn’t mean it is evil in nature, such as a demon–angels are also non-human entities, and would be spirits with a lowercase s). Spirit with an uppercase S is the same as Source/Divine Energy/Great Spirit/God/Universal Energy. Spirit is also your Higher Self, which is the part of you, Sami, that is still in direct connection with the All (Source/God/Great Spirit). You the physical and earthly Sami is here to experience yourself in the way your Spirit knows you to be conceptually. So spirits with a lowercase s can provide information that is contradictory to what another spirit stated. Spirit with an uppercase S will always provide direct and consistent messages from one person to another. The problem here is that we are human, and to err is human. We only know the world from a purely subjective level, based on our life experiences. So if I were to channel a message from Spirit, I would have to try to remain as clear a channel as possible to ensure I didn’t mess up the message. Someone else may receive the same message and, because we are human, interpret it differently. In addition, Spirit will convey messages in words, images, emotions, etc to people in ways they are most comfortable. So for me, if I were to receive an absolutely untouched and clear message from Spirit, I might have the words “Source” and “Energy” and “Consciousness” expressed to me. If you were to purely and clearly channel a message from Spirit, you might receive the words “God” and “Christ” and “Salvation” because those are the words that you resonate with and understand on a deeply spiritual level. But one thing is for sure: Spirit is only ever made manifest through Love and only ever transmits as Love. Spirit never transmits or makes manifest through Fear, because that is not in Spirit’s nature. Fear is the exact opposite of what Spirit is. (In your experience, Fear might be made manifest through the experience of things that are not of God. Satan and Hell are concepts that, in your religion, depict the essence of Fear and how it is exactly opposite–or not in alignment–with Spirit or God.)
Thanksgiving has come and gone. We’ve stuffed our now angry bellies with turkey and stuffing and cranberries, watched football (well, I haven’t), and taken tryptophan-induced naps. All over my country (the United States), grown adults are preparing themselves for a multi-store Shop ‘Til You Drop session at all their favorite retail stops. Black Friday: the biggest shopping day of the year.
Last year was 2011 and I was within the first month and a half of my spiritual studies with Flora. We had just finished the unit on energy, shields, and circles. I thought to myself, “What better time to practice energy-reading and shielding than the emotionally-charged Black Friday?” So I loaded up in the car and waited early with all the other crazy mother-fuckers outside Walmart. I generally avoid Walmart as much as possible since I don’t resonate with their [lack of] humanist ideals or employee treatment, but when thinking of where I could possibly get the worst possible crazed shopper energy, Walmart was at the top of my list (followed closely by Best Buy and Toys R Us).
What I experienced inside was absolutely surreal. There were formations of allies and enemies. I did not have a cart, but I was in no way unaware of them since many a cart rammed into my heels during the two-hour long course it took me to walk the inner perimeter of the store. (That’s right–at a snail’s pace, it literally took me no less than two fucking hours to do one single loop from the entrance to the exit.) There was a memorable moment when I allowed a woman at a crossing aisle to edge her way in ahead of me. The man behind me (fulfilling all my Walmart fashion expectations) was dressed in a stained and dirty Packers jacket and his head was topped with a tattered baseball cap. Perhaps he was so cranky because it was getting disgustingly hot and muggy in the store–what with all the breathing and sweating going on–but I doubt it. I believe his frustration was induced by his intense desire to raise his parents and impress his kids with the best Christmas of their lives…until next year. He became my enemy. The woman in line before me, the one I’d allowed to sneak in, formed a partnership with me. When the man started grumbling in his thick Wisconsin dialect, the woman came to my aid and stood up for me. I didn’t need it of course. I was simply smiling and ignoring the man’s childish antics. But the woman acted as if she’d known me forever, calling me “honey” and treated me as a beloved daughter.
Inside, I was laughing at this entire spectacle. This is what consumerism has done to the Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers of my country. I didn’t see many people my own age, but I saw many older parents and grandparents feverishly picking over the unwanted bargain bins. The store had only opened 20 minutes earlier but already nearly all the “good deals” were gone. Now what was left were the Next Best Things.
In my drowsy Thursday night state, I started contemplating this horrendous annual phenomenon and I have come to a conclusion. This will be where I tell you what that conclusion is. Obviously the main overtone of this particular day (Black Friday) is consumerism. I think that goes without much doubt. Good old American consumerism. It’s a little bit of a Keeping Up with the Joneses mentality that sort of washes over America every winter. Your neighbors and friends? They are no longer neighbors and friends. They have become competition. You need to make sure you get the best deals while still buying the best possible gifts. After all, you need to be able to discreetly brag to Susie and Tom about all the wonderful things the kids got for Christmas, right? Of course. I cannot tell you how many times friends and family members take every opportunity (birthdays, gift-showered holidays, anniversaries) to drop a name, so to speak, on some of the amazing gifts that were given or gained. That is, of course, where I feign surprise because that is what my friend/family member is looking for. If they want it, they got it. I will give it to them. “Oh my gosh, that is so awesome!”
And if you are childless (or child-free, depending on perception and preference), you need to make sure you outperform your relatives at the Christmas dinner by lavishly gifting all your family members with the most ostentatious gifts possible. That’s the meaning of Christmas! ‘Tis the Season! (Bonus points if you “forget” to take the price tags off some of the more expensive items.)
But I’ve come to a more important realization this sleepy evening. What the time period between Black Friday and New Years is all about is actually approval. We’ve all heard the phrase “raising your parents” right? What it essentially means is that, at some point in your under-privileged youth, you finally woke up to how horrible your parents were and you vowed to treat your own children better. Of course, the majority of the people who fall into this self-pitying population have a severe and detrimental tendency to over-correct their parents’ mistakes. That’s where this whole Bigger and Better toy bullshit comes into play.
So now I see kids born from 1990 on who, Jesus Fucking Christ, need to be fucking back-handed against the side of the head. Okay, I’m only being sarcastic about that part. But seriously, I have never met a more spoiled, more whiny, more entitled fucking generation! Now all the fucking Gen-Xers and younger Boomers are going through some weird midlife crisis which is embarrassing to say the least. So everyone is hip and cool and has the brand new gadgets and I’m sitting here, on the sidelines, and my eyes are popping out of my head and I’m thinking, “Are you serious?” I mean, really? Are you kidding me right now? I have never seen so much of an entire population with eyes glazed and completely out of touch with reality. And I am not immune to this, I promise. I am not trying to say I am. But when I go to my daughter’s gymnastics class and all the parents are sitting against the glass wall on their fucking smart phones instead of watching their child accomplish new and exciting physical feats, I just can’t stand it. We’ve become an age of robots. This is absolutely disgusting to me.
So let me talk a little more about this underlying theme. Children seek approval from their parents. Children need to feel loved and appreciated and valued. They need to know their opinions matter. Even though they spend great amounts of time texting (and sexting?…kids, knock it off, that’s fucking gross) their friends, all they really want deep down is to spend quality time with their parents.
Meanwhile, parents seek approval from their children. Why? Because they seek approval from their own parents, and they’ll never get it. They seek approval from their parents through their own offspring. So what is Black Friday really about? It’s about gaining approval from your children. It’s about making them say, “Wow! My parents are the best!” Now you’re reading this and you’re either in denial or your jaw is open and you’re thinking, “My God, Charlie, you’re right!” (Of course, a select population may also be thinking, “My God, Charlie, you’re full of shit!”)
Everything in this world at this point in time is about seeking approval from others. Don’t wear that outfit, you’ll be made fun of. Don’t drive that car, it’s not expensive enough. Don’t buy those earrings, they look too cheap. Parents, you are raising an entire generation of spoiled, ungrateful human beings all because of your innate insecurities of self worth. You want to know why your kids act the way they do? You raised them that way. Plain and simply, Baby.
Kids, you want approval from your parents and you constantly talk shit about them to your friends because they just don’t understand and they don’t know you.
It’s this huge catch 22 of parents seeking approval from children seeking approval from parents. You know why it’s a catch 22? Because no one can put down their fucking phone for a minute to have a conversation. When was the last time you had a family dinner where someone wasn’t answering an “important call” or returning a text? When was the last time you sat at the dinner table uninterrupted for 30 minutes to eat a dinner than came from anything other than a can or a box? Do you remember? When was the last time you went to the store and bought the basics and nothing else? When was the last time you decided you didn’t need that upgrade on your wireless package because, well, you just didn’t need it?
Toys and technological gadgets are not, nor will they ever be, an adequate substitute for time spent with your children. They can’t laugh like you laugh. They can’t hug like you hug. They can’t kiss like you kiss. They can’t make you feel better when you’re sick. They can’t listen or offer advice like you can. Put away all your fucking toys (kids and adults) and start spending time with each other!
The new year is coming up. This year, make a resolution that actually means something. Make a resolution that is a little less petty than losing 10 pounds by swimsuit season. Make a resolution to spend more time with your family. Have your entire family make this resolution. And make it happen.
Good luck with your Black Friday shopping, but I’m telling you that spending massive amounts of hard-earned cash is not going to ever permanently fill that void you feel inside from seeking approval from anyone. It will help for a little while, but accumulation of “stuff” does not heal wounds.
This particular entry was actually written as a Note on Facebook on September 16, 2011.
For a long time, I believed in what the majority of Americans believe in. Live a good life, I will be offered the Kingdom of Heaven if I accept Christ as my Lord and Savior (and servantly spread the Word). With those beliefs, many things in my life were not right. I noticed that there was a facade, a lie, something in the way, something not right. Years later, I eventually considered myself simply agnostic and I never really paid much attention to my spiritual side.
It wasn’t until after my daughter was born that I started re-evaluating my roots, mostly from Christianity. I had been studying Wicca and Witchcraft for a long time before then, but secretly (as I had been raised in an area of the state that is notorious for its small, narrow worldview and thick layers of hypocritical judgement).
What was I looking for in faith? Was it peace? Was it salvation? Was it more personal control over the things in my life? I just started reading and studying and putting years of study to more frequent practice.
Today, when I speak of my faith or my spirituality, I refer to it as my Practice. My Practice is different from anyone else’s, my journey unique to my experience (as is yours). My Practice encompasses roots that grow deep in different cultures from around the globe: Wicca, Native American traditions, Buddhism, and beliefs I’ve retrieved from my Japanese culture (the melding of Shinto and Buddhism). (Yumiko, I am reading more into Shinto and it is scarily aligned with what I already experience in my life.) I also pull heavily from neo-pagan/new age/spirituality insights.
The theme around all the religions/paths that heavily influence my own Practice is pagan. None of them are Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). Those faiths work well for many, but in my experience, those who follow those faiths have a one-track mind when it comes to spirituality.
Let me give a visualization. A Christian (say this person is my friend) is driving down a highway and I’m driving down another highway (pretend for a moment that I actually drive a car and I’m not scared shitless to…lol). We are headed to meet and have coffee in a town two hours away. My friends knows she has to drive safely, accurately, and follow the road map in order to get to where she is going: the coffeehouse to see ME and hang out with me! 🙂 I, on the other hand, am on a highway and it feels too crowded and I’m not comfortable with the bumper-to-bumper traffic. I see an exit for a small town and decide to take the scenic route. Along the way, I see some little farms and little shops and I stop in and look around. I breathe in the vast landscape and absorb this wonderful, unfamiliar environment with all my senses. My Christian friend is still on the highway on her way to the coffeehouse, diligently paying attention to her road map and the signs. She has everything laid out in front of her, every turn, every detour. She knows the fastest, easiest way to get to the coffeehouse is to stay on this highway. Meanwhile, I’ve parked my car on the side of the road and I’m frolicking (try to picture me frolicking, it’s a funny sight) through some meadow somewhere. Eventually, my friend calls me. “Where are you?!” she shouts. “I’m at the coffeehouse waiting for you and you’re not here yet!” I explain to my friend that I took the scenic route and I’ll be there shortly. She scolds me for getting off the highway and tells me I’ll never make it to the coffeehouse unless I get back on the highway. But I’m so consumed by my scenic environment. It’s so much more PEACEFUL than the highway! So much more NATURAL than the highway! I don’t want to get back on the highway. I know the highway is wonderful for some people to get where they’re going, but I’m just going to follow the sunset, keep an eye on the horizon, and use my “internal compass” to figure out the way.
When I make it to the coffeehouse, my friend is very upset with me. She tells me I should have stayed on the highway. I just laugh and tell her that my scenic route got me there eventually, right?
That, to me, is the difference between faiths. Everyone always believes THEIR way is the best way for EVERYONE. But I don’t WANT to see concrete and bumper-to-bumper traffic! I want to see mountains and fields and animals and the expanse of my world. I want to experience the natural things in life and stop every once in a while to appreciate them. My way may have taken me longer, and maybe I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to before I made it to my destination, but I got to see a whole lot more than my friend and I eventually made it to the coffeehouse feeling relaxed, peaceful, appreciative, and calm. And it’s all right that my friend insists that I only ever take the highway from now on. I know that I’ll always choose the scenic route because that’s what works for ME.
I cannot tell anyone for certain what path would be the best for them to explore. That is all in the experiences you’ve had on your own. And by this account, I’d also expect that others could not tell me the path that is best for ME to explore, because those people have not experienced my experiences. Sure, they may understand them, they may be able to grasp them conceptually, but they have not experienced my experiences in the sequence or mindset that I have experienced them myself. And not to mention the fact that my friend was so busy following the signs and the road map that she never once looked out into the fields that surrounded the highway. So how could she tell me that it wasn’t worth it if she hadn’t even allowed herself to break away from her “rules” and experience it herself?
Now here is the part where if may begin to offend some. This co-existing (go ahead, take the scenic route; I’m taking the highway and I’ll meet you there) was once the norm. Here’s where history comes in:
Since the beginning of the Japanese people, the faith that was followed was Shinto. There are no founders, no sacred scriptures. By the sixth century, Shinto was being affected by Buddhism and Confucianism being introduced in Japan. For many years, this did not cause any problems or conflicts. The faiths melded together and lived in harmony with one another. Until the late 19th century, Shinto and Buddhism would have been difficult to tell apart and they had co-existed peacefully, without incident. However, Shinto could not co-exist in the 16th century when Catholic missionaries brought their faith to Japan. At first, the missionaries were accepted, but because they proclaimed loyalty to some pope in Rome, Japanese government began to suspect their motives. In 1587, missionaries were banned from Japan.
This was not the first time, nor would it be the last, that one-track mindsets where spirituality is concerned would cause conflict with other faiths that had once peaceful foundations never shaken (and which had previously shown the ability to co-exist with other respectful faiths). And most of the major wars were due to one of three things: faith (specifically the Abrahamic God), money/resources, or power. I find it quite silly that followers of the Abrahamic God try to convince me that my Practice is wrong (and that I will go to hell, which I am telling you does not exist), when one of the pillars of my Practice (Buddhism) has never been involved in any major war in the name of Buddha.
Did you know that upon its creation, the extremely wealthy could literally “buy their way” out of hell by paying the Church obscene amounts of money? There is no hell. It’s a fear tactic meant for power.
Now am I asking everyone to convert to a pagan practice? Absolutely not! I know many followers of the Abrahamic God who are wonderful people and do good for humanity because that is what they are called to do as servants of their God. I would never take someone’s spirituality away from them. What I AM asking of everyone is that you respect the beliefs of others and do not try to convince them that your way, your highway to the coffeehouse, is better than theirs. They will get there on their own, whether they walk, drive, bike, bus, fly, or teleport. Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks. And as we part, know this: self-righteousness is not attractive on anyone. When was the last time you thought someone who was self-righteous was a model of what you’d like to be? I’m guessing never, or you have some strange goals. Love, peace, compassion, acceptance, understanding, empathy. THOSE are qualities humans strive for. Don’t lose sight of your destination being so concerned with the means another is getting there. Focus on YOUR path, YOUR road, YOUR highway. And instead, take an appreciative interest in the way the other person is getting to the coffeehouse, as it will broaden your worldview of life itself.
Source: World Religions: Beliefs from Around the Globe – Robert Pollack
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Many of you know through my YouTube channel DivinelyInspired|DivinelyDesigned and possibly also through my friend Patrick’s channel that I have a friend who is extremely talented when it comes to crafting bath and body products. For my 25th birthday, Patrick created a beautiful scroll for me that contained a creativity spell. Included was an adorably perfect round glass bottle filled to the brim with lavender bath crystals. I took a bath with them (and another, and another, and another). I became addicted to baths (versus showers). I also became much more calm, reflective, and in tune to the energies around me (including the amazing energy radiating from my lavender bath crystals.)
I’m generally a pretty tough (though silent) critic. If I like something, I’ll plug it. If I don’t, I generally won’t talk about it. I never want to talk down about another person’s business or livelihood, especially if they are friends of mine. But seriously, Patrick is so fucking amazing at making quality organic products that it’s, well, a little frustrating–infuriating even! However, I try to temper my jealousy and enjoy his products. And after months and months of me (and everyone else) insisting that he needs to get back online to sell and share his gifts with the world, he has finally re-stocked his Etsy shop with new products (and more to come).
Let’s set aside the fact that this man is gorgeous, and let’s set aside the fact that his product descriptions gives my writing a run for its money. With all that aside, Patrick is an extremely gifted witch and craftsman. He is so profound at directing energy, manipulating energy, and empowering his products. So this blog post is all about his shop: Bewitchments.
Not only is Patrick gifted with his bath and body product design and creation, but he’s also an extremely savvy photographer. All the presentations (photos and descriptions) that you see on Bewitchments are thanks to Patrick Stoffel and his creative genius.
So check out Bewitchments and Like, Favorite, Buy! Whatever you feel called to do. I will be doing some product reviews in the future for Bewitchments, but I can tell you from personal experience that these Lavender Bath Crystals are the best lavender bath crystals I’ve ever experienced. The BEST.