Posted in Authentic Freedom

Shattering Election Day Illusions

Trigger Warning!  If you believe your life depends on the outcome of today’s elections, you might not want to read this blog as it will poke a hole in whatever attachment you have formed around the election and your personal hoped-for outcome.  While I support our right to vote and wish, dream and hope for a government that actually lives by the principles upon which our country was established, I’m no longer sure that is possible. There is no person “out there” who is going to save us and if we are attached to an outcome of today’s elections, you will likely be disappointed – maybe not immediately, but later as we learn that really nothing has changed.  Here are my ponderings on this day of midterm elections:

I voted….and I have no delusion or attachment to the outcome.  As I recently told a friend, I suspect that one of two things will happen:  Democrats will win and nothing will change or the Republicans will win and nothing will change. Why?  Because the change we are all looking for has absolutely NOTHING to do with what is happening outside of us. That is the lie we tell ourselves to keep us believing we have some measure of control over our lives.  As the death of two friends, the terminal diagnosis of another and the son of another friend who is currently fighting to stay alive from an as-yet diagnosed illness reminds me, we are NOT in control of whether we live or die and the outcome of today’s elections will not change that.

The truth is that we have no control over what is happening outside of us. We only have control over what is happening within.  And if we want to see change outside of us, we first have to change what is within. This is the truth of all spiritual systems. What we see in the political world as polarization and division will continue until it is healed – and that healing is an inside job.  It’s all an inside job. As I recently shared on my own blog, “when the ship is going down, the only one we can save is ourselves.” I call this the “Titanic philosophy.”

As a friend recently reminded me, what we see on the outside of the political game has nothing to do with what we can see and what is reported in the media, and everything to do with what is behind the curtain – the hidden, insidious power brokers who are actually running our government. But again, we cannot change what’s behind the curtain, we can only support ourselves in learning how to see….to pierce through the veil of lies, manipulation, distractions, etc. and live from a place of our own truth.

There is no magical day where the world will suddenly be peaceful and free. There is not a person outside of us (most especially among politicians) who is going to save us or our world. The human condition IS the human condition and it is our individual task to remember and then live our divinity within the human condition. Will there be a day when critical mass is reached and the world becomes a nicer, kinder, gentler place? Perhaps. But until (and if) that happens, we can only create that peaceful, kinder, gentler world within ourselves and live from that.

I, for one, am done waiting for the world to wake up (one of those illusions we tell ourselves) and am taking care of myself. In doing this, I am giving others permission and an example for doing the same. This is all I can do and all (I am coming to believe) any of us are asked to do. If the world “out there” is causing us distress, it is simply because it is triggering a fear within us that has not yet been healed. Observe our reaction. Identify the fear. Heal the fear. Return to peace. It is that simple.

Now, if everyone in the world followed this method, then YES our world might become a peaceful magnificent place. But, in my experience, few are willing to do this work which is why the world remains as it is and will continue on this path. Which brings me back to this truth – the only thing we can change is ourselves and that is solely an inside job.

Get out and vote. Or don’t.  The outcome has no bearing on your ability to live within or from a place of peace.  That is up to you.

 

 

Posted in Relationships, Spiritual Practices

The Path to Dialogue with guest blogger John Backman

Today’s blog comes to us from author and writer, John Backman.  John Backman’s new book is Why Can’t We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart (SkyLight Paths Publishing). As a blogger for Huffington Post Religion and an associate of an Episcopal monastery, he writes extensively on contemplative spirituality and its ability to help us dialogue across divides. His website is located at www.dialogueventure.com.

The Best Path to Dialogue Is Through Your Deepest Self

If you read Lauri’s blog for any length of time, you will have all the resources you need to talk with—and listen to—the annoying relative at Thanksgiving dinner. Or the neighbor who voted for the candidate you loathe. Or the faithful believer from the religion you abandoned years ago.

Does that seem hard to believe?

You might think the gulf is too wide, and no one would blame you for that. When we encounter people who disagree with us, our gut leads us toward anger, defensiveness, self-protection, fear, or some combination thereof. More often than not, we shy away from those who disagree with us, or we angrily state our opinion and brook no dissent.

Some of this comes straight from our DNA. Fight or flight, after all, is built into our status as creatures on this planet. But our culture has taught us well too. Black-and-white thinking inhibits dialogue and even casts it as irrelevant. (Why dialogue with anyone when you already know The Truth?) Too many pundits and radio hosts would rather shout than talk. The structure of our media reduces complex, difficult social issues to sound bites and platitudes. Elected officials, all too often, model how not to dialogue with others.

Behind these obstacles to dialogue are entrenched systems that we cannot change on our own. So why not start with the one thing we can change—ourselves?

Oneness Transforms Us…

This, I think, is where God comes in. We can change ourselves by ourselves, but overall, we’re not very good at it. (For evidence of this, think weight loss programs.) We do better with help—and who better to help than the One who can change us permanently, thoroughly, from the inside out? How better to access help than to seek Oneness with this One?

Oneness with God—or, rather, participation in our Oneness with God—has fueled the journeys of saints and mystics for millennia. An experience of this union brings us unutterable bliss, joy, and love. But it does something else too: it changes who we are.

I first experienced this soon after undergoing a born-again experience in my teens. By the end of three days, not only was a long bout of depression lifting, but as I told a friend with some consternation, “I’m starting to love people I can’t stand! That’s not my style!”

The experience of Oneness comes from a mutual opening. As we open our hearts to God, God opens the divine heart to us. And we start to “look like God.” Have you ever noticed how long-married couples start to resemble each other, or how the opinions of our closest friends “rub off” on us? This is what happens here. When we foster our own personal connection with God, we gradually begin to reflect God. We begin to desire compassion and connection above all else—because God desires them above all else.

These are precisely the virtues that make dialogue possible. As they become part of our souls, we move beyond the practice of dialogue and become people of dialogue at our very core. Dialogue and its prerequisites—curiosity, compassion, attentiveness, listening—flow from within us.

…and We Start to Listen

When that happens, we stop marshaling our counterarguments while pretending to listen to our neighbor blather on about his candidate. Instead, perhaps for the first time, we truly hear what he says and think, “I wonder how he got there?” Our children can dig in their heels about getting a tattoo and we want to ask, “Why is this important to you? I really want to know.”

Nothing about this inner transformation means that we will automatically agree with our adversaries, or that we will “win them over to our side.” What does happen is that issues of agreement or “winning over” become irrelevant. The other’s well-being, and our relationship with that person, become more important.

The process of reaching out from this deepest self feeds upon itself. In many cases, “a soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1), so when we communicate curiosity and compassion, our adversary responds in kind—or at least dials down the intensity. The more we hear the perspectives of others in this way, the more we come to realize that our perspective is one among billions, and that other points of view might be just as valid as ours. That redoubles our curiosity about those other perspectives, and we delve deeper into dialogue.

A Matter of Time—and Practice

Rarely, if ever, does this happen in an instant. It is why, instead of the single word conversion to describe the process, I prefer the Benedictine phrase conversion of life: it implies a slow, daily turning of our deepest selves toward God. We draw toward Oneness one day at a time, one step at a time.

In the process, we draw closer to reconciliation across the divides that plague us—not necessarily to agreement, but to a commitment to greater wisdom and one another’s humanity above all.

How do we get there?

The Oneness is real. Our job is to enter into it. Most faith traditions include spiritual practices that, over the millennia, have been shown to foster our drawing closer to God. Seek out the practices in your tradition and try them out. Or find the practices that resonate with you and make them a daily practice. Daily practice is the best way to open ourselves to the daily shaping of our souls that is conversion of life.

THANK YOU JOHN for this beautiful post.  It is a great lesson for all of us……me included.  😉

Posted in detachment, grief, Lessons, Surrender

Election Results

Made you look!  Today’s blog only has a little bit to do with the results of the presidential election and much more to do with how to maintain peace in the midst of what we might not want.

Obama Wins

As a bleeding-heart, liberal, democrat, I am pleased with the results of yesterday’s presidential election.  At least 40% of the US population and over 50% of the House of Representatives are not, however,  happy with these results.  With the make-up of Democrats vs. Republicans in the House and the Senate, President Obama will once again have his work cut out for him.  Posing an even bigger challenge will be the fact that many of our political leaders are no longer working with the best interests of the collective in mind, but instead work for the special interest groups and lobbyists that pad their pockets and fund their elections.  While Barack Obama has succeeded in winning this race, he might once again face a losing battle in accomplishing anything of meaning or value to the American people as policy change gets thwarted by bi-partisan politics.  Regardless of what may or may not happen in the forty-eight months ahead, today, there are many people who will be disappointed, frustrated and angry over the results of yesterday’s elections and even more who will be frustrated, angry and disappointed over the inability of our current form of government to affect positive change that is truly for the good of the people.  But, as I suggested in my August 12th blog, Elections and a Disturbance in the Force, the results of yesterday’s elections has nothing to bear on our ability to move forward with our lives enjoying peace, contentment, love and joy.

Timely Wisdom

I found confirmation of this truth while enjoying my morning meditation.  As usual, I begin by reading the daily scripture readings, then continue by listening to and sometimes singing sacred chant, ending in silence with maybe a little journaling to round things off.  In the first scripture reading, Paul had this to say to the Philippians:

Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.

Philippians 2

These words certainly apply to our response to yesterday’s election results – if we are not happy about the results, let’s not grumble about it, complain, throw stones, cast dispersions…instead….let’s move on and look toward how we can make the best of the situation.  For those happy with the results and who will become later frustrated by that battles that are sure to continue between parties and interest groups, again, let us not grumble, complain, throw stones, cast dispersions…instead….let’s move on and make the best of the situation.

Applying this to our everyday lives

The results of yesterday’s elections and the path ahead are but a drop of water in the pond of challenges that we face in our everyday lives.  What happens in Washington truly has little to bear on the day-to-day struggles that we face – death, job loss, illness, aging, unemployment, underemployment, divorce, heartbreak, children growing up and moving away, business failure, unfulfilling jobs and relationships, injuries, physical, emotional, mental, verbal and sexual abuse, assault, natural disasters, crop failures, etc. etc. etc.  No matter what happens in Washington, we will still face these challenges.  People we love will die.  We will find ourselves in unfulfilling and seemingly meaningless jobs.  We will age and experience illness.  Our businesses will fail.  Our hearts will be broken.  While it is appropriate and important to grieve these losses and disappointments, it is equally important to remember that the end result of healthy grief is ACCEPTANCE. It is in grieving the loss and finding acceptance that we once again know peace.  This peace is what Paul is inviting us to enjoy in the reading above.  Political races are lost. We don’t always get what we want.  We become frustrated when our efforts fall short.  Bad things happen to good people.  And…..in the midst of all of this is the promise of peace. As Paul says, this peace is found not in the grumbling, complaining or questioning, but is instead found in acceptance of what is and in trusting that this too is in the highest good, no matter what it might look like right now.

Lauri Lumby

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Freedom, Inspiration, Oneness with God

Elections and a Disturbance in the Force

As Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate, a firestorm of political debate was launched on Facebook.  Today’s blog explores the spiritual approach and compassionate attitudes we are invited to embrace if we are to make it through the coming elections intact and unharmed!

A Disturbance in the Force

As I was reading through the Facebook posts this morning relating to the upcoming elections, I sensed a disturbance in the Force.  I felt the point-counterpoint postings and arguments stirring up a sense of unease, maybe even fear in and among my little Facebook community.  I also felt a fair amount of sadness as I watched people I know to normally be peaceful, calm, accepting,  picking their side and standing in defense of their chosen position.  I suddenly realized the negative impact all of this political arguing and grandstanding has on our ability to maintain a peaceful, loving, harmonious state of being.  No matter what “side” you have chosen – Democrat, Republican or Other, the greatest temptation in this time of political mischief-making, is allowing the external chaos to disturb our inner contentment.  I now understand what Jesus meant when he said,      “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)

Render Unto Caesar what is Caesar’s

In this passage from the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus is reminding us to keep politics in their proper perspective.  While the outcome of the upcoming elections may have an impact on public policy, education, access to healthcare or certain forms of birth control, the economy, military engagement, etc. it has ABSOLUTELY NO BEARING on our ability to be the LOVE and the PEACE that God made us to be.  While we are tempted to believe that we are “right” and the other is “wrong” and while in our humanness we want to believe that we know better than anyone else; from a spiritual perspective, all our current political process does is reinforce our ego-driven choice of duality rooted in the false perception of separation.  When we choose Oneness the false perception of separation falls away and in this state, there is no right or wrong; left or right, anti-abortion or pro-life, conservative or liberal; we are only human beings struggling in our humanness to find happiness.  The truth that we do not want to admit is that we will NEVER find happiness in anything that is outside of us because happiness is NEVER NOT who we are.  When we surrender our attachment to separation, we are happy, content, loving, peaceful and fulfilled regardless of what is going on outside of us.  Jesus knew this.  The Dalai Lama knows this.  The Buddha knew this.  And we do too if we really listen and pay attention.

Cultivating Inner Peace

If we want to remain in a state of peace through this political season, there are certain attitudes that might be worthy of embracing.

1) Recognition that our political decisions are deeply personal and for many people, private.

2) Acknowledge that we all do the best job we can to choose the candidates that we believe most closely align with our own personal beliefs, values, hopes and desires for our world.

3) Trust that regardless of the outcome, only WE decide our happiness.

4) Trust that regardless of the outcome, it serves a higher good that perhaps we cannot yet see in our limited human perception.

5) To acknowledge that whether Barak Obama, Mitt Romney or some other unnamed politician becomes the next President of the United States, this has no bearing on our ability to know peace, love, joy, fulfillment or contentment in our lives.

In this election season, we are invited to “Render unto Caesar’s what is Caesar’s” by exercising our right to vote; and rendering unto God what is God’s by exercising the spiritual practices that reconnect us with our original state of peace, love and joy.  The choice is ours.  And in that choice, May the Force Be with Us!

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com