Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I hope this message finds you doing well and enjoying life.

Religion in one of those subjects that I don’t broach lightly, due to the fact that some people tend to have such deep rooted beliefs that saying something to the contrary has a tendency to upset them. But I have had three encounters now with Christian promotional materials which has caused me to make some realizations about myself as well as religion in general.

Let me start by saying that I am one of those people who was turned off of Christianity a long time ago due primarily to my exposure to those who talked about eternal damnation for failing to follow certain rules. This idea of a vengeful and judgmental God has never really appealed to me, and, unfortunately, my idea of Christianity has suffered as a result. I suspect that I am not alone in this and that those who are condemning sinners to hell have actually been tarnishing the image of Christianity for a great number of people.

However, after two different eye catching pamphlets crossed my path in a week, both of which I read with an open-mind, and both of which had the same elements of “believe or burn,” I had a realization that made sense to me. I finally understood why “they” (the numerous authors, translators, editors, and promoters of the Bible) would make God out to be judgmental. “They” were/are trying to put the fear of God in people as an added incentive for people to follow the teachings of Jesus. This gave me a sense of relief because I realized “they” were only doing what they thought was best at the time (as I believe everyone is doing at all times).

However, I don’t think the best way to get people to become kind and caring people is by using fear tactics. I think that by projecting God to be judgmental, we ourselves become more judgmental. We are in effect justifying our own judgmental nature by making God in our image. This is where my third encounter with Christianity comes in to play.

I received a DVD in the mail, and was given it again later by a friend, entitled Jesus, which was sent by a consortium of churches in the area. Not being particularly well versed in the life of Jesus and being the open and eager to learn type of person I am, I watched the movie and took notes. I think the following quotes taken from the movie (which were supposed to be taken straight from the Bible) sum up the teachings of Jesus quite nicely:

“Love your enemies. Be good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone strikes you on the one cheek, let him hit you on the other one also. If someone takes away your coat, let him have your shirt as well. Give to everyone who begs from you. And if someone takes what is yours, do not ask for it back again. Do for others as you would have others do for you.... Love your enemies and do good to them. And lend expecting nothing back. And then you will have a great reward.... Be merciful just as your father [God] is merciful. Judge not and you will not be judged. Condemn not and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

What a great message. It seems to me that if we could all live by these simple guidelines, which I hope represent the core essence of what it is to be a true Christian, then we would already be living in heaven. Another thing that fascinates me is that this message weaves throughout the Eastern religions as well. In fact, one of the main paths to enlightenment is paved by these same values. So, there must be something to it because I don’t think that many ancient sages be wrong.

After watching the movie, I can even empathize with those people who would try to spread the word by any means necessary. But the means affect how the message is received, so great care should be taken when delivering it. In my personal opinion, now that Christianity’s image has been tarnished in the minds of some, I think the only way to rectify the damage is to focus on embodying these core teachings.

In the end, I would not have even watched the movie a few short years ago, but I found it quite enlightening. I also felt like I had seen it once before a long time ago when I was too young to remember well. I was a bit turned off by the brief opening scene about Adam and Eve and “the Fall,” but we’ll get into that some other time.

Hope all is well with you and yours. Stay in touch, stay open minded, and love your enemies.
Take care,

Monday, January 08, 2007

Some books to read

I have been wanting to share with you all some of the things I’ve been reading lately just to provide you with some ideas if you would like to learn some new things. First of all, I just finished watching the movie The Secret, which I would recommend everyone see. It will help you realize that you do in fact create your own reality and give you some practical advice on how to shape your life to be what you want it to be.

As for reading material, let me first re-recommend the book “A New Earth: Awakening to your Life's Purpose” by Eckhart Tolle. It is one of the best ones I have read lately. I am currently reading the following eight (this seems to be about the limit of how many I can read at once without having trouble remembering where I left off). They are all great books in their own right, but I think it is safe to say that everyone would enjoy reading “Way of the Peaceful Warrior.”

A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking
The Undiscovered Self, by C.G. Jung
Wherever You Go There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn
The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell
Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman
The Evolutionary Mind, by Rupert Sheldrake, Terence McKenna, Ralph Abraham
Conversations with God - Guidebook 1, by Neale Donald Walsch
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac

I would also recommend everyone pick up a copy of “What Is Enlightenment?” magazine. It comes out quarterly and is one of the best periodicals I’ve been exposed to so far. The current issue is on evolution and the various schools of thought on it. Check your local bookstores for availability. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy everything you do.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Dealing with negativity

Hopefully everyone has gotten the new year off to a positive start and is gearing up for the best year you’ve experience so far. I thought I might share some information that might make doing just that a little easier, if you’re up for the challenge.

If you have people in your life that you dislike, it could be that what you dislike about someone else actually reflects something you dislike about yourself. I’ve come across this idea a couple of times and have actually seen it to be true in my life. However, it might be beneficial to fine tune this idea a bit.

If someone does something that elicits a “negative” emotion in you (anger, frustration, impatience, resentment, anxiety, etc.) that emotion is a signal for something you have not appropriately dealt with yet. I have found this to be true in my life and have also noticed that it becomes a recurring event until it has been dealt with properly. Over time it becomes obvious that there is something deeper at work that is trying to demand your attention.

So, if you are like me and are interested in being the best person you can be ;), it’s important for you to pay attention to these signals, which are expressed as thoughts and emotions. When something someone says or does triggers something you don’t like in yourself (i.e. a negative emotion), pay attention. There is something that needs to be dealt with there. Entire books have been written on the subject of how to deal with these emotions when they do arise, but one of the central proponents is to realize that your response is your choice. This is hard to come to grips with since we have developed well trained responses to certain stimuli, which often involves placing blame, but it is true.

So, when you encounter a situation that elicits one of these trained responses from you, such as anger, “choose” to respond differently. If, for example, your initial reaction is to defend yourself against a false accusation, stop and be with that feeling. Is it caused by injured pride or the need to never be in the wrong about something? Then, let it go rather than react. This gets back to an issue touched on in the book The Lost Art of Compassion involving graciously losing an argument. To a certain extent this involves a little bit of pride swallowing and I’ve noticed that pride is one of those things that does not taste all that good going down (it’s an acquired taste).

However, if you are able to do this when your emotions flare, when the same trigger is encountered again it will have less of an affect on you. You are, in effect, changing your perspective on the issue and releasing the power it has over you. You are retraining yourself not to be negatively impacted by something someone else does or says.

It may help to ask yourself why something upsets you. It may also help to remind yourself that everyone is doing what they think is right at any given moment. It may help to try to see the issue from the other person’s perspective. It may help to realize that everything will be just fine regardless of the inconveniences encountered. It may help to remember that each little issue that prompts a response from us is a learning opportunity, and there will be plenty more if we don’t get it right this time (be grateful when they occur).

The bottom line is that we are all divine beings in our own rights whether we realize it yet or not. If we can realize it in ourselves first, it’s easier to see it in others.

Enjoy the new year to its fullest and do your best to make the most out of everyday, even if it brings some minor inconveniences or hard lessons. We’ll all be better off for it.
Love and peace,