Creating a Peaceful World by Charles “Al” Huth

Creating a Peaceful World

By Charles “Al” Huth

Creating a peaceful world begins with each of us. To enhance this idea requires knowledge of one’s True Self and one’s natural contribution towards world peace. Socrates express the idea that an unexamined life is not worth living. Each of us view ourselves, community and world through our personal lenses. These lenses were developed over time, with stories to support them regardless of their validity. However, we internalize them as factual without a deeper examination of their origin. Some of these inaccuracies were developed harmlessly and other false assumptions have created great harm to oneself and others. As a child, my father liked Chevrolets and did not care for Fords, a perspective that I adopted. I became a mechanic and discovered that there was much to like about Fords and Chevrolets.

As another example, my mother (when a very young child) grew up under extremely difficult circumstances. Her only protection was to try and make adults feel guilty. She learned to use guilt as a way to get what she wanted or needed. “My son, if you loved me you would not have done…” Deep into my adulthood I discovered why I had a deep sense of guilt about many things I did – it had felt like my natural way to be. At a subconscious level I was tormented, I was trying to understand what was wrong with me. I tried to hide this discontentment from the world. Through my journey of searching for answers, I was able to see how devastating this perspective was and how this perspective generated negative reactions within the conduct of my life: I created a lot of disharmony in my relationships. At times, I have not been able to totally dismiss my guilty perspective; however, I understand what is driving it and I do not let it interfere with my life. I guess I could be called a recovering guilt-driven addict.

Through my experiences, I developed concepts and daily practices to live in harmony with myself, my relationships and the universe. Although the concepts and practices that I promote are simple, they require each individual to engage oneself at a deeper level with a personal commitment to become a conscious co-creator of their life, in harmony with their True Self.

In January, I will be teaching a class at OLLI – Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The course number and title is: PERS210, Creating an Extraordinary Life. OLLI’s contact information is: e-mail olli@sou.ed; phone 541.552.6048.

My class will be an interactive experience where teacher and students learn from each other. The course content will be based on the three books that I have published. The books are: Living an Extraordinary Life – The Magic of Oneness, Essentials for a Changing World – Living Harmoniously with Yourself and Others, and The Evolving Higher Self: A Directed Guide to Fulfillment. These books can be purchased through Amazon.com.

This is an opportunity to become a conscious co-creator of your life as your True Self. Recognize our false concepts of self and others can help facilitate this goal. We will explore the benefits of personal journaling that reveal self-knowledge at our deeper, core level. Our interactions with others will be greatly enhanced when internalized with our True Self. Humans have their own unique guidance system that adds to our intellectual knowledge. We will explore processes and techniques to establish an internal connection and trust in your internal guidance. Knowing who we are, the passions of our soul, and our purpose in life are not easy to understand, but vitally important.

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Al Huth is a retired public school teacher with a Bachelor of Science and Master’s degree in Education. He taught psychology and motivational classes in high schools and in adult education programs, such as the Learning Light Foundation in Anaheim, California. This fascination with the body-mind connection led him into the various disciplines of spiritual and human empowerment. In his spare time, he is a magician. He can be contacted at 541.973.2362 or www.joyal.org.

 

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The Energy of the Election by Jim Hatton

The Energy of the Election

 I think everyone can agree that the Presidential Election of 2016 was like no other. It has been debated Ad nauseam, over analyzed, over polled, and over played in the media.  Did I leave any anything out?

I personally am glad it’s over.  But the unique energy behind it continues and has polarized many people. There is big disappointment, anger, hopefulness, smugness, and even despair.  And certainly, uncertainty, pun indented.

I did not vote for either major candidate so please don’t put me in a box of judgement, at least not yet. A lot of people were saddened and disgusted with the viability, credibility, and ability of each major candidate.

Alright the county has voted and by our current system we have a president elect.  I’m all for being open and seeing where this all goes.

But I have talked to a lot of people and seen people interviewed that are angry, extremely disappointed, and saddened, and continue to be so much that it is controlling their lives. I know one young bride-to-be who had un-invited her best friend from the wedding because she voted for Trump. I know several people who became physically ill after and because of the election (including some “macho” men).  Many other people are carrying around the hatred they saw in candidate Trump.  Many have made one of the candidates their hero, their savior, their redeemer and by doing this have given their power away to someone else.  Why else would they be physically sick from the election results?

Our power lies within.   When we give it all away to someone else, (in this case our candidates) in hopes that they will make our lives better, we become power-less.  If we can realize or better yet remember that we create our own lives through our own thoughts and actions, our whole world would be a better place.

Many commentators have pointed out how deeply the country is divided and blame the election and the candidates.

Let’s wake up here folks.  Any and all division in the country; the anger; the hatred; or the prejudice was already there, it existed in our collective consciousness before the election.  The candidates and elections just allowed us to call it forward.  There can be no blame here; we must look within ourselves to examine what in exists in our own consciousness. This is where our prayers belong.

The negative energy that exists toward either candidate is only working against our selves.   Let us remember the Law of Attraction and that the Universe is inclusive, not exclusive.  What attention we to give to the anti-candidate, anti-president elect, or whomever or whatever will only create more of what is not wanted. This was the same in the Anti-War movement in the 1960s rather than a pro-peace movement.

A good friend of mine who was born in the 1950’s wisely pointed out:  “We have survived every president since Eisenhower.” In fact we have survived all prior presidents who have been before, popular or not.

We can only change things in our world if we change the consciousness within ourselves.  Change will happen when we are in alignment with our true nature. Anger is not our true nature, Peace and Centeredness is.

Peacefully,

 Jim Hatton, Author: “A Spiritual Master’s Guide to Life” available on Amazon or at SpiritualMaster.co

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Habitual Peace or Stillness

THE GAP: HABITUAL PEACE OR STILLNESS by Jim Hawes

             William James in his essay on habits says quite correctly that our daily habits can be allies or enemies. He elaborates further and says that if we want healthy bodies; then, we must exercise regularly, and eat good, wholesome food. If we do little exercise and consume a low quality eating style; these habits are enemies to us having a healthy vibrant body.

            What is true for our bodies is true in our spiritual quest. For sure, reading or listening to our spiritual teachers, meditations, chanting, journaling or attending seminars are all helpful guideposts.

            One of the most fundamental questions is to how to become more conscious or present in our daily spiritual habits. Recently, I have discovered guideposts of using nature, a more effective meditation technique, and most important becoming more loving each day.

            Early Sunday mornings walking my dog in the park; there is very little car or truck noise. There is an incredible quietness, actually an enveloping stillness where one finds themselves in a brief gap of no thinking.

            Hiking each Wednesday through our incredible southern Oregon wilderness points to nature’s best lessons.  I look up in awe and feel or sense the stillness or silence of these massive, majestic giant Doug Fir, Ponderosa and Madrone trees. It is the same stillness, silence (consciousness) that we are.  Here too, as I looked; there was a short gap where my conditioned mind abruptly stopped its habitual thinking.

            Meditation is another way of becoming more conscious or present. Because I kept falling asleep; I discovered the new technique of keeping my eyes open. During the meditation, I became very attentive in looking at four trees. As I felt a oneness with the trees, I again experienced these short or brief gaps of no thinking.  

            The most important way of creating these conscious gaps is to be more loving each day. An example is worth a 1,000 words. I finally decided it was time to heed my beloved’s suggestion and make good on my promise to actually help more in raising our beautiful 14 year old granddaughter. We studied a recipe, wrote down the ingredients, and shopped together. Rather than the usual suggestion to stir the ingredients; my wife gently guided me through each direction. There were no ego eruptions—just a calm, relaxed conscious cooperation. The dish was delicious and passed the acid test. Our granddaughter loved it.

            This conscious giving and receiving carried over to our house cleaning. Again, no judgmental comments or questions like, “Aren’t you going too fast?” Or, “Did you miss this or that?” We were a cooperating loving team. There was an effortlessness and a gentleness which created extended gaps of no thinking.

            These conscious gaps of stillness or peacefulness are available and can be extended only if you make a habit in expecting and looking for them in your connections with nature, being consistent, but open to varied meditation techniques. Last, and most important in all your relationships, allow this always present consciousness to gently envelope and guide your actions and words to be kind, joyful, and nonjudgmental. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it better than I have, “Get your bloated ego out of the divine circuits.”                                                                                                                       

Jim Hawes, a retired Medford school teacher has published Ageless Child, Balboa Press. Amazon.com or Barnes and Nobles and is working on his new book, AGELESS LIVING.

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Halloween: Goblin or Angel

 

 

Our Halloween Identity: Goblin, Ghoul or Angel by Sally McKirgan

 At Halloween we can have fun exploring our various inner “creature features” and play let’s pretend for one night.

 any of us wonder at some point during our lives Who we really are.  Some question and search more than others and maybe that’s a curse depending on how you look at it.  But the basic human question is: who am I and why am I here? 

 Halloween is fun because we can be someone or something else and escape from whatever it is we think we are.  And besides, it is fun so why not.

 Deep down we know love is the essence the core of our conscious being.  We all have a Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde split personality lurking within the ego self we constructed to deal with life to live in the world where we find ourselves.  We can be kind one minute and hateful the next depending on which voice we are heeding.  But that double identity still keeps us from realizing the light the love that is our truth. 

 You are not the double identity your ego would have you believe. The ego is merely a thought in your mind.   It is a false thought system however.  If you let it run your life, controlling every thought and action you will be miserable and wonder why happiness is elusive.  It is not who you are, it is not your friend and it will never make you happy as you continue to seek and never find.   It can make you feel superior or inferior. It does not want peace, love or harmony.   It tells you that you will be happy if you do such and such. It does not want you to be truly happy because that would put it out of business.  The ego is a lie.

 A wise person said “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”  We will be happy if we remember that and connect to the Light and the Love that is within us that is far, far beyond any false ego thought.  The mystics tell us we are the light of the World!  We are complete and healed and whole, loved, loving and lovable. We need to let the realization of our true identity sink in and that will happen when we change our thoughts and practice mindfulness.  The calm beauty and grandeur of your true identity will reveal itself gradually.  As you allow the fog to lift, things will bother you less and less.  You gradually train your mind by not believing every little egoic thought that arises.  Eventually the happiness of heaven where loneliness does not exist will dawn upon you.

 You inherited Love.  It is a gift, a present within you that you discover when you become present.   You are the creator of Love but it came with you from the factory.  Love just extends.  No one lives who does not have it.  That would be impossible. Whenever you have a loving thought or extend love to someone, you are shining the light you came with.  Just watch a baby (after their diapers are changed) and remember their sweet love is glowing at you – and connecting with yours.  Mystics say it is God shinning in this world from one mind to another. 

 Whenever you see Love, you are seeing your True Self and your inheritance.  To be happy, extend the Love within you to everyone and every living thing, your friends, enemies and exclude no one.

When you are kind and loving your journey and your classroom will be peaceful and joyful.  Since love is internal and comes from the eternal, it can never run out.   It is like the magic pot of pudding in the child’s story that boils over unceasingly – impossible to halt or stop! 

 Remind yourself of the limitless love that is your true identity everyday by saying: 

 

I am the light of the world.  I am Spirit, I am Love and I am Loved, Therefore I extend Love to all whom I meet.  I walk in Love there is nothing to fear. 

 

Numerous daily repetitions will allow the belief set in your mind.  You may not believe it but that does not mean that it is not true. 

 

So dress up this Halloween – be anything you want but at the same time, KNOW WHO you REALLY ARE!

 

Sally McKirgan facilitates one of several ‘A Course In Miracles’ study groups in the Rogue Valley and the Ashland Daily Tidings inner peace column and community blog.  Contact her at innerpeaceforyou@live.com or visit her blog at www.innerpeaceforyou.com

 

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The Path to Enlightenment can change your life.

by Jim Hatton

 As a very young man, I remember hearing about “Enlightenment”.   The Buddhists talked about the Buddha being enlightened and that that was the ultimate goal in life.  When you were enlightened you were wise, people wanted your advice, you were peaceful and did not have problems, you remembered past loves, and people wanted to be around you. Once you were enlightened, you made it, that was it and the work was done.  Therefore, I prayed and prayed for God to enlighten me right now, all at once.  After all, I was ready and deserved to be enlightened and not have to be a monk, wear an orange robe, and live in a far off place and eat only vegetables.  Oh, and never take a lover when I grew up. Yes, God, do it to me right now I begged. 

I prayed for this for a long time…and just knew that the light would hit me and all of a sudden, “boom” I was enlightened.  I prayed some more…but It never happened. What did happen was every so often I would have a “Satori” or spiritual insight.  I would realize or understand something that I never knew before.  I loved the feeling of having a spiritual “ah-ha”.

Therefore, I started looking at my thoughts, my actions and re-actions, how I reacted to people and situations.  When I reacted in a strange, rude, or hateful way to people and things, I would ask myself why I respond this way. Is this how an enlightened person, spiritual master, or Buddha would act?  What was my fear?  I then I would set my intention to act or do something different the next time a similar situation or event would present itself.  After a while, I understood that the buttons that people pushed, previously installed by me, disappeared. All I had to do was to become conscious of them and then set my intention.  I thought that after addressing quite a number of “buttons” that pretty soon I would finally be done. Would enlightenment then come?

What I did notice is that the buttons I found were getting smaller and smaller, less significant, and easier to dissolve.  Things in my life started to change.  Energy began to return, there were peaceful people in my life, the various challenges seem more easily solved and my prosperity increased. I became more and more unattached to situations and their outcome.  Was this what the Buddhists talked about “non-attachment”?  I used to think that would be boring and I would have the personality of cardboard.  The discovery was not being attached did not mean that I did not care about people or situations; it meant that more unconditional love was entering my life.  I love things, gave thanks for more in my life, and allowed people to be who they are.  My love was not conditional on how they acted or what the outcome of a situation would turn out.  Ah ha!  Non-Attachment!

I still have “buttons” but now I call them thought structures.  They may not be so blatantly obvious anymore; they hide in the corners of my consciousness.  But as I seek them out discovering more and more about who I am, I find myself becoming more and at peace.  Now, I am at Peace with the world, people in my life, and with myself.  Is this the Path of Enlightenment?

   Jim Hatton, Author: “A Spiritual Master’s Guide to Life” available on Amazon or at SpiritualMaster.co

 

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Peace, Presence and Relationship

Peace, Presence, and the Relationship  by Ed Hirsch

 

If you are not at peace in your intimate relationship, then your life will not be at peace. To gain some insight here, let’s step back and consider the typical stages of intimate relationships.

                The first stage can be called falling in love, the honeymoon phase, romance, or infatuation. In the midst of it, it can seem like true love. It has elements of fantasy, and especially it is fantasy if you take it for real love pure and simple. But to demean it as mere fantasy, or to reduce it to a chemical cocktail that amounts to being on drugs, is itself to be in fantasy. What is learned on “drugs” can be quite valid and only becomes fantasy if we translate that into “How easy this is! How wonderful I am! How enlightened I am!” And yet even this is a glimpse into truth, for love in itself is essentially easy, we are indeed wonderful, and we are essentially enlightened already. This stage of the process is provided by nature to get us to mate, and to help us to weather the storms of sustained relationship. But beyond that, it can be a glimpse into your own and your partner’s True Nature, and into the nature of True Love.

                You might naively think you have arrived, but then comes the stage called falling out of love, the power struggle. You might think you have gone from Heaven to Hell, or that you were addicted and now have hit rock bottom. You might think you’ve been deluded and now have seen the (awful) truth. You might think that this is now the real thing, simply the way life is. You might make your partner wrong and struggle with them in order to get them back to what they were in the previous stage. Or you might bail out and seek another partner (with the sense that obviously this one can’t be the real deal).

                If you weather this storm, and somehow wake up from the pain so that you can step back from it to a larger perspective, then you might enter into the stage of conscious love, or real love. Here is where there can be an integration of the previous two stages, recognizing that life is a process that includes both love and challenge. You might come to understand that you were a bit naive and culturally conditioned to suppose love is so easy, and that you had found the right partner for this easy love. You might become sober enough to recognize that real love in a long-term relationship requires real work, relational skills, and commitment. And you can recognize that it all serves as a mutual growth opportunity, wherein each partner takes responsibility for their own process.

                This can now seem to complete the stages, but there is another stage, which really can come at any point in the process. This is the opening to what we can call Essential Love (including Essential Compassion), the Loving Presence that is an aspect of your Essential or True Nature. You can learn to access this (supported by other essential aspects of Presence, such as Peace) at any stage. If you do make this your foundation, anchored in your body and heart, then you can apply this at any of the above stages, and transform the journey through every one of the stages. If possible, begin before the first stage, so that you can enter into it consciously, from a place of Presence. In any case, the journey is still not going to be ideal, and human loving is never going to be without challenges. Both partners will still have egoic delusions and shadows. And that’s OK, for now you will be able to relate to those challenges from a place of Presence. You can cultivate the Loving Presence by yourself, and you can cultivate it with your partner. And then you can bring that to any stage of your process and to the process of relationship. Sometimes outside help is needed to support this when you lack perspective.   To cultivate this, become still and open to the Presence that is always Here Now.

 

Ed Hirsch teaches an OLLI course on Presence and conducts a small committed group centered in the practice and process of Presence. He is available for sessions for those who want to explore this for themselves.  Contact him at presenceofone@yahoo.com for information.

 

 

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Inner Peace from Beyond the Grave

Inner Peace Beckons From Beyond the Grave

by Janai ‘Grandma Boom’ Mestrovich

 

 

 Florida captured a part of my heart during childhood when, as a family, we would drive straight

through from Kansas City to Wildwood, Florida, Mom’s childhood home.  Every summer we would venture that way to see Mom’s relatives and other friends she grew up with. They had children we played with. The sandy soil, humidity, lush vegetation, and that southern accent coupled with the hospitality on front porches were the closest thing to southern heaven next to southern cooking.

 We sometimes stayed with the Cochran family and always felt the kids were cousins and their parents, Annette and Son, were like an aunt and uncle. Clear up into adulthood when visiting my parents in Florida, the Cochran’s were an essential part of the visit. Daughter, Teedlee, kept a loving kind of glue connecting everyone with her service minded love, helping my parents during their decline, especially Mom. Needless to say, there was always a closeness that brought warmth and loving care between our families.

 It was 2001 and I was living in central Oregon when I was awakened by the phone at 5:30 a.m. “Hello,” I said sleepily. No one responded, but I heard talking. I said ‘hello’ a couple more times. It sounded like Sheilah and Teedlee, the Cochran sisters, talking. This incident took place just a day or so after the funeral of their mother, Annette. Teedlee lived in Wildwood but Sheilah and family were residents in Oklahoma. Sheilah was in Wildwood for the funeral.

 “Sheilah? Teedlee?” I said, but they kept talking to each other and not me. It was beyond me why they didn’t answer me. Maybe they didn’t realize I had picked up the phone. I understood enough of their conversation to know they were talking about their mom and post funeral goings-on at the house. I couldn’t understand why they wanted me to hear this conversation anyway. It was private family stuff. So I hung up.

 Later that day I called Teedlee and asked why they had called so early. Teedlee said they had not called. I repeated snips of the conversation I had heard. Teedlee was astounded. She told me when they were talking about those things they were walking outside. I told her the call registered on my phone as being from Sheilah. But Teedlee said Sheilah had left her cell phone back at the house.

 This experience defies rational explanation. Sheilah thought it was their mom trying to make contact with them through me. Whatever the case, we all know something extraordinary happened. Some events don’t fit our views of how the world works, and we just have to accept that they happen.

 I had an unsettling inner sensation with my nerves and in my heart area all day after that call came. It felt awkward to hear a personal family conversation that was none of my business. But I trusted that it happened for a reason.

 I was not at peace until I shared with Teedlee and Sheilah what I heard them talking about. They knew their mom was trying to connect with them. I believe Annette was unsettled in her post death journey and needed to give her daughters a message regarding life after death. When this all settled down, a grace came into my heart. I knew it was Annette thanking me for being receptive and giving her girls a message. How it all manifested with no real phone connection but through the phone is beyond me. I simply found inner peace accepting the extraordinary gift from connecting a mother beyond the grave to her daughters. I also knew it brought Annette peace in her journey.

 I am grateful to have been an inner peace emissary between the worlds as the veil that separates the living from the dead lifted for that short period of time. (Parts of this sharing are extracted from Janai’s Self-Help Memoir, The Grandma Boom Chronicles…More Alive at 65!)

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An Ego Free Day

This Wednesday, UN Peace Day Sept. 21st

Choose to be ego free! 

The International Day of Peace, sometimes unofficially known as World Peace Day, is observed annually on 21 September. It is dedicated to world peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid access. The day was first celebrated in 1982, and is kept by many nations, political groups, military groups, and peoples.  Source Wikipedia

This year the theme is “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks of Peace” a worthy goal however in 2017 or the near future the theme could be: “The Sustainable Individual:  Take Your Peace Temperature.”    The UN could lead the way in encouraging the practice of personal peace and promote the daily “hygienic” practice of taking one’s peace temperature everyday like brushing teeth or combing hair.  Are you a peace maker or a trouble maker? We know Global Warming is heating the planet with dire predictions but something that we can do something about is the temperature of our mind.  

For example, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being peaceful, what is your temperature today?  If encouraged to perform the task of accessing our daily inner temperature we would look inward: Happy or sad; upset; what can I forgive or accept; what do I need to do; a walk in the park; write an apology or thank you; what am I thinking and should I believe it; what I am judging; projecting and can I find it also within myself so I can let it go. 

In taking my temperature I am responsible for looking at my thoughts and change them if they cause pain, grief or misery of any kind.  Who or what part of my mind is running the show that translates into my judgments and thoughts?  Unless I choose differently it’s the ego.  I don’t have to believe every thought or the drama attached to it that can escalate to a war pitch in my mind.   When we are aware of the escalation and how we feel and think we can say:  “Do I want this thought; is it true? Can I refuse to believe it or see it another way?”  

Question every thought and when a judgmental thought crops up (and it will) say: “Oh there’s the ego again – no big deal” merely look and let it go.  If  I take the time to look within and name the annoyance or the judgement and acknowledge it is also in myself, it has to be otherwise I would not see it out there, then I can let it go or see it another way.   All condemnations are from the ego, a master in projection, if we let it be chairman of our thoughts.

Salvation from the ego is within your powerful mind.  You are the decision maker and can put the controls on the ego; switch channels.   Go to the sanity within and say “I choose peace; I want to see this differently.”  Find the “mute” button and turn off the ego insanity.  Maybe carry a small symbol as a reminder in your pocket to choose peace.  This practice of watching the mind will reduce the ego.  It is imperative for inner peace.  

The ego is not your friend.  You are a loving mind, a higher Self, a Spirit and you have done nothing wrong.   As we become less identified with the ego, the quiet truth will emerge from the Love within the One mind we share.   We live in a world that screams of distraction and misery, especially with the current war in the Middle East, refugees flooding Europe and the general election.  But there is always something screaming at us.  A mind at peace will find the loving thing to do when called upon and if we don’t buy into ego doom and gloom we will see clearly what the right thing is.   No longer living as a puppet of the ego we take our inner peace temperature daily allowing the love within to be projected outward to do the good it will.  Take your inner peace temperature next Wednesday September 21 and have a nice day!

Sally McKirgan facilitates one of several ‘A Course In Miracles’ study groups in the Rogue Valley and the Ashland Daily Tidings inner peace column and community blog.  Contact her at innerpeaceforyou@live.com

 

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Celtic Evensong, Sunday, September 18

A CELTIC BLESSING  by Bert Anderson

 

Church is not the first place most people go to today to find inner peace. They might go to be inspired by the sermon, a personal witness, or outstanding musical performance, but I seldom hear people who do attend report they are touched at the level of soul or spirit.

Fewer people go to church these days, even though a majority say that they believe in God. One woman I talked to recently said that she was lapsed Unitarian and was now a  Buddhist.  Others in my group of friends do not deny their Christian heritage, but they are more likely to attend a Thich Nhat Hanh mindfulness meditation than a church.

I’ve been a member of the Episcopal Church for eighty years. I love the prayer book services, and here in Ashland, the music is excellent, but I am one of those people with an active mind, always on the go, needing to do the next thing.  I don’t have the patience to keep a daily routine of meditation and prayer and going to church has often become an obligation. Not until recently have I found the quiet, meditative atmosphere that I crave in a service.

I began attending a monthly Celtic evensong at Trinity Episcopal Church, an unusual service for Episcopalians.  When I enter on Sunday evenings, I am handed a folder so I can follow the service. An offering plate sits on a chair to one side for anyone who wants to make a donation.  Candles flicker in the church and lights are low. A Celtic harp is played. I light a votive candle to remember someone who needs healing, or for myself, and then I slip into a pew and become part of the meditative silence.

The service begins with a familiar hymn and a reading that draws on wisdom of the ages, perhaps that of Rumi or another Sufi poet. Thich Nhat Hanh would not be out of place here. After a short reading from the Bible, one of the church members tells a personal reflection of his or her faith. A few minutes 0f silence follow. Then comes a brief communion, where everyone is welcome to join in or not. After a final hymn, the service ends as it began, with silence. People leave as they will, no minister is at the door, and one walks out into the quiet of the night.

Celtic Christianity is about “original blessing,” instead of “original sin.” There is no contrition, confession, creeds, or long litanies.

One member writes, “I love the quietness, the candles, the music, and the words said. I feel at peace with myself and God. It is hard to explain the whole sense of spirituality that I feel, but when I leave, my cup is full.”

Another writes, “The solemnity of the Celtic service urges me to set aside my daily complexities and invites me into God’s love.”

The Celtic evensong and communion originated as an alternative to morning worship at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. Members of the group that plan the Celtic services at Trinity, have visited St. Stephen’s and have gone to the island of Iona, Scotland, a center of Celtic spirituality, to learn more about this form of Christianity.

People from all faiths or none are invited to find inner peace at the next Celtic Evensong, Sunday, September 18, at 7:00 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 44 North Second St., Ashland.

 Bert Anderson is an assisting clergy at Trinity Episcopal Church. He has written four plays since he retired in Ashland, including Mister Brightside and the Bonfire Nights, and TRaNZ. Currently he is working on a memoir.

 

 

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I don’t know by Dan Fischer

My core philosophy: I don’t know  by Dan Fischer

“There is no hole in the bottom of the universe out of which you can fall.” I am alive. Someday I will be dead. I am not going to speculate on what happens after I die.  I don’t know. If there is a life after death we don’t know anything about it because no one with any credibility has come back and told us about it. So, I’m not going to talk about it. I’ll deal with it when I get there. . .  Or, I won’t. . .  Meanwhile, I’m alive and I’m going to die. I can enjoy the ride or complain about the ride and the scenery.

For years I remembered John Merritt, with whom I shared a hospital room back in the spring of 1959. He had bone cancer and was dying a terrible, painful death. His wife was sweet and gentle. Neither of them deserved the pain they were enduring. It frightened me. And I stayed frightened for years. 

After many kidney stones and intestinal blockages I have learned that pain is inevitable but suffering is a choice. I have chosen not to suffer. (Most of the time.)

When I was young and starting into the world I spent some time leaning about goal setting. Goal setters and their gurus make rules for goals. Like: Goals must be positive. Goals must be measureable. Goals must be specific. Etc.

“I will make a million dollars by five years from now.” Meets the criteria for a good goal but it didn’t satisfy me. It was incomplete. So I took it a step further. Why do I want a million dollars? What would I do with it? What would it do for me? A million dollars is a pile of paper or a bunch of marks on paper. It only has value if it does something. So I sought what I really wanted. After careful and long search I found that what I want and wanted is internal Security, personal peace and joy. Oh, and a million dollars couldn’t buy them. There is some security in owning a lot of money. It can provide some peace (or anxiety). And it may provide some joy, . . . or not.

When I got, really got, that there is no hole in the bottom of the universe out of which I could fall I understood that my goals were in my reach. My kidney stones and intestinal blockages helped me to understand that pain does not necessarily stand between me and my three goals. I can feel pain and have my internal peace. I can have joy. My internal security is in knowing that I am, nothing can change that until I am not. And then I won’t care!           

This seems so simple to me. It is so clear. I am reminded of a time when I was working for Univac and learning their 1108 super computer. It had a concept that was strange to me. The manual explained it on about two pages. I read them and didn’t understand. I re-read them and still didn’t understand. I went to my boss and asked him to explain it. I spent more than two days struggling with the concept and finally got it. It was simple. I could summarize t in about two sentences with which my boss agreed. 

One of my General Semantics gurus said “I’ll see it when I believe it.”  The simplicity of my three goals is like that. I didn’t see it until I believed it.

So, how do my three goals fit into the greater world? How do they relate to morality, to family? I get joy from doing, doing for others, doing for myself, sometimes, just doing. My joy is greater when I do for others than when I do to others. When I was a little boy I pulled the wings off flies, (didn’t we all?). When I reached a certain level of enlightenment, I no longer took pleasure in torturing lesser or weak creatures. Now, when I find a spider in my sink, I gently catch it and take it outside to freedom.  I do to it what I think it would like me to do to it. It brings more joy than hitting it with a magazine would. It could be considered a selfish act. (But, not to the spider.) Morality is its own reward.

Internal security comes from knowing that I will endure and I can endure until I am no more.  I know I can focus on the pain or the pleasure. I can enjoy just being alive. If that gets too tough and I’d rather not be alive I can just stop breathing until I remember how wonderful a full breath can be. This is how heroes survive torture and imprisonment. I’d rather live without pain but I’m not going to let my pain interfere with my pleasure.

I can know no one like I know myself. We are locked in an existential aloneness. I can appreciate your pain or pleasure but I can’t feel it like you do and you can’t feel mine.  When I finally got that, I relaxed into my personal peace.  (I wish I could always get it. Sometimes, I forget.) It is still a goal.

My three goals: Internal Security, Personal Peace and Joy. I achieve them and then I lose them. But they are always my goals.

Dan Fischer lives in Ashland. He occasionally teaches at OLLI at SOU. His blog is www.danielcfischer.com or google “The Crazy Mud Caper.” —–

 

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