“There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for your in its hands.
You seek problems because you need their gifts.” Illusions – Richard Bach

I sent the essay “Problems and Gifts” out in May, with my plan to send out Part Two the following month. Editing a book (not mine) and other factors intervened.

I wanted to look at the many problems facing our planet, and see what the gift – the silver lining – was.

I wrote down some of the issues that had gotten my attention. War – forty conflicts on Earth as I write this; corruption in politics; greed in almost every corner of the business sector; medicine for profit, with pharmaceuticals leading the pack; energy; education; scientists being muzzled in the press; anyone trying to tell the truth being muzzled or discredited; young people feeling a lack of purpose; racism, voter suppression, nationalism, religion in politics, politics in religion, extremism, hatred of the “other,” greed, malice, social media lies and distortions; economic inequities, and despair.

As I wrote in the last essay: “Gifts? Are you kidding me?”

But then a light dawned. (Chorus raises voices, stage left…) I had a realization, and it really was the answer to my first question: What IS the problem on planet Earth? And the voice inside me began to spill out the answer: All the problems are NOT the problem. Every one of them is a symptom of ONE PROBLEM. In fact, I had already sort of written the idea for this in January. I guess it just wouldn’t go away; this problem has been out there for a loooong time. Forever.

One problem makes the solution simple, yet at the same time, just about impossible to implement. Simple but not easy. Then again, the problem has created so many symptoms, of course the solution will not be easy. But it is simple.

Here is a hint: How could we, a species with minds that supposedly have a huge capacity for understanding and communication, have come to the point where communication has become more and more solid, escalating from yelling and accusations, to bullets and bombs? Eventually misinformation via cyber crime of global magnitude has turned truth up on its end. We have come to the point where “understanding” comes down to grasping only one viewpoint, and each one holds tightly to that viewpoint, lest it be threatened by – truth!

We have misused our minds, and abused our creative imaginations by failing to look clearly at the issues. Limited viewpoints close off any opportunity to see a wider picture, or consider another view. Thus – SEPARATION. Which is the problem.

SEPARATION. We, one entire species, have split off into tiny pods of special interest, special wants, special beliefs, and special situations, and we have become so disparate that we cannot have a meeting of the minds. Pitiful, but true.

None of us belongs to the human race any more. We belong to special groups all around the globe. We have lost our capacity to communicate honestly, with integrity, because we are so distrustful, certain that if the other guy wins, we lose. And that is a major part of the problem. Our whole system is set up so that one has to lose so another can win. We are separate, not equal, and not willing to give an inch, not even if it were to save the world. Everyone wants to be right, and no one is happy. That’s because everyone would rather be right than happy.

And this is not just about countries and politics. It is about families, neighbors, distrust and dislike among all sectors of society. So what is the solution then?

The answer has been staring at us all along, and we have been led systematically down the path of mistrust and separation by those who can profit from our confusion. (Please note the word profit, a chief instigator in this nefarious scenario. And I am not just talking about monetary profit, but power profit as well.)

The solution to the problems on this planet are not outside us, though it seems as if they are. If only we could fix the corruption in politics, or change the way the economy is run, or fix the problems regarding ecology and the sane and sensible use of our planet’s resources – then things would get better.

But no – none of those will get solved , because they are just symptoms of separation. Until we use the solutions that are inside us, and bring out our best selves to deal with our ONE PROBLEM – SEPARATION, nothing will be repaired, and we as a planetary species will continue until we destroy ourselves.

So the answer to the dilemma of separation happens to be the same one from “Problems and Gifts – Part I) The answer is inside us. It is the strength and integrity and sense of purpose we all carry within us, but which has been supplanted by all the divisive influences around us.

The answer looks like three answers, but they really go hand in hand:

Communication Understanding Love

True, honest communication leads to understanding, which leads to love and acceptance. When we learn that there is no other, that we are all in this together, we can finally drop all the defenses we’ve built up, and get to work reuniting our human race, finding positive cures for our ills.

“Oh please,” you say. “Understanding and love? Airy fairy bull!” (Uh – you might want to read the sentence above where I wrote about total destruction of the human race. If you think I’m airy fairy, you’ve got the wrong person.)

People don’t even understand what love is, and they don’t really get what “understanding” is, either. People will avoid these two ideas, dismissing them in order to avoid confronting the truth, so they can keep their ideas intact.

There’s actually a deep, esoteric meaning to the word understanding. When we understand, we “grasp the meaning,” we “comprehend,” we “get it.” And, when it comes to people, true understanding leads to love.

We’ve all had those moments, maybe sitting in a classroom, or reading something, and the light dawns. “Oh! I get it! I get it! And once you have that understanding no one can ever take it away from you. Things are clear, a light dawns. You see, and not just with your eyes, but with your mind. The light shines, and darkness disappears. You understand. This could just as easily refer to a complex mathematical problem as it could to someone’s behavior. Or to one segment of the whole human race. One moment there’s a mystery; the next, it’s all clear. And once you see it, its yours forever. Someone is a mystery who drives you crazy; the next moment, you understand what they’re about, and you get it. You get them!

What is missing in our world is understanding of one another, which has led to separation. It has led to a complete breakdown in our love and caring for one another. The “most advanced species on the planet” kills its own each day, destroys the land and the oceans and even our own air. We argue with one another because we do not understand each other – or, for that matter, ourselves – and because we do not understand each other we do not know how to communicate with each other, embrace each other and help each other. And we fail to recognize that even as we are different, we are all the same. Our differences do not count; our similarities, our sameness, should bind us in understanding.

But because most people would rather be right than happy, they will sacrifice Earth and everyone on it, simply because they do not understand. In fact, they do not even understand themselves, or why they are so filled with anger and hate. (Note the above comment about profit – those in power profit from this dilemma. If we look at the problem squarely, we will be able to regain our own power and “become who we can be, not who we are”.*)

Just like the people in “Problems and Gifts, Part I”, the solution to the problems that beset our human race and Planet Earth is inside us. For starters, we need to drop the weapons from our hands and we need to start learning how to put our hands out to help and to heal..

How many times have you had an argument with someone and then found out later it was based on a total misunderstanding. Here’s a clue: almost all arguments are based on misunderstandings. This means between individuals, countries, organizations. And the other thing that causes arguments is the deep-rooted refusal to take the time to look at another’s point of view. “My way or the highway,” is the byword for all those who think their religion, political viewpoint, special opinion or preference is the only one that counts. We absolutely refuse to see that maybe someone’s idea of what is of benefit has value.

But – when you are able to understand someone, and see that there can be different views, but you are still connected by your humanity, then you are capable of not just understanding. You become capable of love. Why? Because love is NOT an airy-fairy notion. Love is a deep-rooted sense of connection with another. It can be created by simply finding out how someone else sees the world, and coming to see the world through their eyes.

This essay has gone on too long, but I think the picture is clear. And, by the way, you don’t have to think of this as just a way to solve the world’s problems. Start out with your own life, your own family. That neighbor you just cannot stand? Your cousin who has driven you crazy with her obsession with her looks? What is behind their behavior? What do you see that so troubles you that you cannot find a way to communicate?

Find some common ground. Find a way to connect with someone in your own life, and see how well you do. It starts there.

I may have to write more on this…it’s a big topic. To me, it might be the only topic.

*John Denver

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Note: This was written in early March of 2020, but was never posted.
So sorry. Next posting coming in a few days.

This morning I sat down to meditate, but my mind was so overactive that I could not get still. Higher mind kept trying to pry open the wall of mental armor to get between the chinks somewhere, and it was a struggle.

Then everything went still. I sat, at first, with no thought at all. Then I realized how essential it is to be quiet, when the world is full of madness, turmoil, anger, fear and terror. So much emotional noise – a patchwork quilt of chaos, smothering so many areas of the planet with mixed emotions of rage, frustration, uncertainty and shattered hopes.

Here I sit in my tranquil home, while many miles away the world is being torn to shreds – not just physically, but psychologically – by mad uncertainties and crazy bureaucracies.

People ask, “how can we fight this?” and I believe that is the wrong question. The more we think of fighting, the more we create combative situations. Being silent – creating a pool of stillness within the mind – is a gift to the world. Creating a place where anger, noise, fear and chaos do not exist is a way to alleviate the pain and constant turmoil that envelopes us, if not physically, certainly psychically.

And so, I am inviting all people – whether you meditate or not – to take time each day, even if it ‘s only five minutes, to be completely silent. Consider it a service to the world. Just find a space to sit, close your eyes, and be still. Listen to each breath. Listen to the air move. Expect nothing and give all your attention over to these moments of quiet, where nothing is said, nothing is done.

Think of the Sun, which shines every day, and never asks, “What have you done for me lately?” Just return the favor for a few minutes a day – be still, a place where chaos cannot enter. We are all connected – we can give the message of stillness and peace simply by being.

An addendum:

I was thinking after writing this of a visual example of what stillness against terror would look like. Some of you might not be old enough to remember the June, 1989 student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in the Chinese capital of Bejing. Demonstrations went on for days, and exposed the split within the Chinese political leadership.

A crackdown on the demonstrators began on June 3rd. Martial law was declared; troops with assault rifles and tanks attacked unarmed civilians. The protest was memorialized by one lone man, who stood silently in front of a column of tanks. When the tanks attempted to move around him, he continued to move until he was once again standing in front of them. Time Magazine later named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Silent, still, unmoving, standing in front of a line of tanks. No stone throwing; no attempts to harm anyone. Simply silence and stillness. I will never forget seeing this man, because he was a lesson to the world.

Silence does not mean doing nothing. It means merging with the essence of being, and simply allowing life to be, without affecting you, until you choose to allow it to.

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I’ll start this essay with a quotation from “Illusions” by Richard Bach. It reads: “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”

I know, I know – I can just hear it now. “You want my problems? You can have them all!” We see our problems, and they are awful. Money. Sick children. Older parents. Illness. Hateful job. Abusive relatives. Believe me, I am neither ignorant nor impervious to the kinds of problems that exist in daily life for almost everyone at one time or another.

But to me, the second part of the quote is the important part, for I have come to realize that at a certain point, if I stop drowning in the problem, let go of the sorrow, the fury, the confusion, the petty, roiling thoughts that enter in one door, leave for a minute, only to show up a minute later with two friends, then there is a chance I will see something besides the problem.

It takes a while to find the gift. First the problem swallows you up; you are filled with sorrow, guilt, remorse, fear, fury. The mind babbles; you feel as if you could scream at someone for days. Maybe scream at God.

Death, sudden accident, illness – loss, overwhelming sorrow and confusion. We are brought to our knees by these things, and sometimes we cannot imagine getting up again. We don’t even want to, unless things can go back to the way they were.

Where’s the gift there? How does one let go of the suffering, and say, “Oh, I’ll just look for a gift here?” Sorry, Pollyanna, but that’s just not happening right now. Mostly because you really have to at least begin to let go of the problem, the sense of nothingness, in order to be free enough to find the gift. But eventually, if we are brave and hardy enough to work through the problem, the gift begins to filter its way into our lives.

And once you start to see the gift, the problem has already begun to shift, to mean a little less. Then the clouds part, and you see a little clearing, and something finds you – or you find something – and life seems a teensy bit brighter.

I can think of two examples, which will demonstrate in a very clear way what Bach’s quotation means.

The first is a young woman who was a public figure at one time, and lost pretty much her entire planned future.

Jill Kinmont (Boothe) was an American downhill skier. She was the reigning national champion in slalom in 1955, and was expected to win a medal in the 1956 Olympics. She had a bright future, until, while competing in the Snow Cup in Utah, she suffered a near-fatal accident, and was left paralyzed from the shoulders down. That same week she’d been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Now how does someone pick up the pieces from something like that? The body she had was left without almost any power; the life and future she’d planned was gone. And, to top it off, her fiancé, internationally known “daredevil” skier Dick Buek, was killed in an airplane crash in 1957, on his way to see her for her birthday.

So – a bright future, a stellar career in skiing, and suddenly the body is “useless” and your future husband is dead. Gifts? What gifts? Are you kidding me? Forget gifts – how does one ever dig oneself out from that?

Jill went into rehabilitation, and then on to graduate from UCLA with a B.A. in German. She earned a teaching credential from the University of Washington in Seattle, and had a long career as an educator, first in Washington and then in Beverly Hills, California. In the latter part of her career she taught special education at Bishop Union Elementary School from 1975 to 1996 in her hometown of Bishop. She married John Boothe in 1976.

Jill also became an accomplished painter who had many exhibitions of her artwork. She wrote an autobiography, which became the subject of two movies – The Other Side of the Mountain and The Other Side of the Mountain II.

So yes, there were gifts – inner resources and strengths she discovered and developed, which helped her to become a beloved teacher and an accomplished artist. It did not come easily, and she did not do it alone. Friends she met along the way – some of them in similar physical situations to hers – encouraged her and were by her side. But most of all were the gifts that came from within, in the form of gifts to others. Teaching. Giving of herself to others, and being the example that says, “You are not just your body. You have gifts you can share.” And then, of course, there were the paintings, which didn’t come until later.


I have more than one dear friend who has lost a child to suicide. It would be difficult to imagine anyone actually recovering from such a loss, which is always compounded by a sense of guilt, remorse, constant questioning as to what could have, should have been done, but wasn’t.

One of these friends was tangled in years of depression, sorrow, and a self-isolated state so profound that I never actually met her during that time, though I knew of her for years through mutual friends. When I finally did meet her, she had been working on a magnificent project called “Grief Cards” – glorious pieces of art which spoke to the person using them of redemption, and of future, and of more than just loss.

These cards are a gift to others, those who had lost a child, those who felt that there was no longer a world worth living in. Into these cards my friend poured so much love and empathy and understanding that she created a pool of light around her, and it has shone upon her, and brought her out of darkness. I know at some point those cards will be published more broadly, and they will have such positive response, because others will be healed from her gift.

Like Jill Kinmont Boothe, this friend learned that the gift she needed was already there – it just had to be dug out from behind all the tragedy and loss she endured for years. She is now happy again, with a new life, a forward looking attitude, and an opportunity to share her gifts with others.

So Jill Kinmont Boothe, a life pretty much over if she had allowed herself to wallow in her sense of loss, became a beacon for many, and a friend to many, despite hitting a large bump in the road which sent her over the mountain she was skiing on, to the other side. She was brought down to her lowest place, found and used her inner gifts, and she gave them to others.

My friend who lost her child did the same – she came to the deepest dark place, and from there brought herself back by following her own light. And that light will shine on others. The gift is first given to others, but it redeems the giver.

And that, I believe, is the truth of the quotation.

May you all be blessed, in difficult times, with the gift of your inner light, which will bring you back from dark places.

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What Is Karma, Anyway?

Karma is a Sanskrit word from ancient texts, the first of these being the Hindu text known as the Rigveda. Essentially, it means ‘action’. But it actually has a more profound meaning, having to do with the cycle of cause and effects, action and the outcome of that action.

The Law of Karma is concerned with the idea that what is currently happening in a person’s life is likely the result of actions in the past. So – an effect happens, but before the effect there was a cause. The cycle of this cause and effect, as it relates to life, is called karma. When we attach the idea of consequences as the outcome of an action, then karma implies a more moral attribute.

    Just a short aside here. If we consider the body we walk around in as our 
    complete self, the whole of our existence, then the idea of there being 
    consequences from a previous life seem ridiculous. But if we come to the 
    realization that the body is simply a vehicle for an existence that goes 
    beyond the physical (some call this the soul) then we are also open to the 
    idea that our true Self uses the body to experience material life for a  
    particular amount of time, and then leaves it. 

    There are some who believe that the soul decides its departure date before 
    it even takes on its next body. There is no way to debate the latter idea, 
    but there does seem to be ample evidence that people have lived before in 
    another existence, and then returned as a different person altogether. This 
    gives us the idea of re-incarnation, a soul taking on a new body in a new 

I believe that Karma is related to the idea that the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence will decide their fate in the future. Believing in reincarnation means that karma has a greater influence in one’s thinking than if you think it’s a lot of nonsense. But even so, there is karma in everyday life, which may have nothing to do with reincarnation or past existence.

Often when something happens to us, if we don’t look at how we might have caused the situation, we can end up thinking of ourselves as victims. Note – I said, “thinking of ourselves.” The good news is that it doesn’t mean you are a victim, it just means you think of yourself as that. “Poor me! Why me! Life isn’t fair!” Not so – and this is the good news. As it happens, you are always responsible, which means you are always in control. And if things are in your control, you can prevent them, or avoid them, or remedy them.

Actually if you think about it, karma is related to Newton’s third law of motion. It states: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The pair of action-reaction forces make it possible for fish to swim, birds to fly, and rowboats to move in the water. In life, we can see a quick and quite simple example: Joe hits John. John gets really angry, and hits Joe back. Action – reaction. Cause – effect.

Since all of life is energy, and all of life is balanced, this simple example gives you an idea of the cyclical balance of the energy in the universe, and on our planet, and in our lives. So while Newton’s Third Law of Motion is a law of physics, Karma might be considered a law of metaphysics. But what does this have to do with how you live your life?

Jesus said, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” You plant a seed, it grows. What you plant will manifest in your life. If you sow seeds of kindness, generosity and compassion, you will receive the same. If you sow anger, greed and discontent, you will receive that in your life. It’s actually a very simple matter of balance.

So in every moment of our lives we get an opportunity to shift the balance. As I just wrote in that last sentence, you get an opportunity to shift the reaction if you recognize what your action could cause, and do something about it.

I remember a time when I was in high school, in a PE class. I was at bat, and the girl who was pitching made some comment. I, known for witty repartee, made one of my “cute” comments in return. It was not well received.

The class ended, and that was that. Until I was told later in the day that the girl – who was pretty tough, and hung out with a group of tough girls – had gathered a couple of friends and was planning to beat me up after school. Yikes! I am not and have never been a physical fighter. This was serious.

I realized at that point that I had really hurt this girl’s feelings, and I was truly sorry. And yes, scared. What to do? Run? Get a bunch of my friends together? Okay, last one is definitely off the table – a bunch of wimps, all of us.

I got excused from my class, went to the office to find out where the student was, and went to the classroom. I asked the teacher if I could talk to the girl. We went into the hall, and I told her that I had heard she was really angry. I apologized. I told her that sometimes my mouth runs off, but that I truly did not mean to hurt her feelings. She was actually very surprised, and told me it was all okay. I don’t think anyone had ever taken the time to apologize to her. She was soft and sweet about it, and after that, we became sort of buddies in our PE class.

Now, someone might say I just apologized because I was scared of getting beaten up. That is partly true. But that is only a small piece of the story. Really, what bothered me most was that something I said so angered another person that she was willing to get violent over it. This is not an effect I want to have. It is not the kind of person I want to be. But my apologizing does also show how karma (I hit you verbally, you hit me physically) can be mitigated, reversed, when you see the effects of your behavior and take action to counterbalance it.

Okay, so there’s a big question that often comes regarding karma, and it’s this: “Why is it some people are mean, cruel and dishonest, but they’re rich, seem to have everything, and seem to get away with their cruelty and dishonesty?” Ah, yes. Key word – seem. They do seem to get away with it. But there is justice in the universe, and it does not happen instantly. There are people born into miserable existences, and one wonders how did that person land there, and another didn’t?

And in this lifetime, with all the wealth, and maybe all the trappings, the social gathering and the glamor, what do they really get? Wealth you cannot take with you. Temporary physical stuff. Real love and loyalty? Admiration? Could someone love this person freely, without fear? This person has very little of true value, and Life will balance out actions eventually.

People who are unkind and enjoy cruelty are sick, and detached from humanity. They are only in control of themselves and others by force. This is not a life of integrity and trust, of the wealth of good character and firm connections to others. It is not a life to admire, emulate or desire. So what has the person who commits acts of dishonesty or violence gotten away with? Nothing. Life will catch up now or later. Karma does exist.

So I guess the lesson is to consider consequences, the effects that our actions might have. It means paying attention – to our words, our deeds, our thoughts. And beyond that, it means learning how to shift negative into positive.

I wish the Wall Street bankers who created the 2007 financial debacle had paid attention to the possible consequences of their actions, and used their vast intelligence in a different way. Instead of scheming for their own benefit, they could have “schemed” to upgrade the whole world’s economy. Now that would have really been paying attention, and creating balance! Just makes me smile to think of the possibilities!

So where does one start with creating balance and good karma? With yourself. Ditch the negative self talk, and start looking at the qualities you have that are admirable. Maybe the first one would be that you are willing to work to improve yourself. When you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, ask yourself if you would talk to a best friend that way. Every time you do shift from a negative thought to a positive one, you have shifted the world energy a micro-bit. But it does have an effect.

Work at being sincerely kinder andn more ethical. Consider smiling more – lots of people smile back, and that alone can make you feel good. Decide what attitudes and behaviors you’d like to shift, and work on one. Treat yourself well, and then you will be able to go on to treating others more kindly, more compassionately. You will be creating good karma for yourself, and it will carry through to who knows when…

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It Is Time to Change the World

It is time to change the world.

The scientists have many answers, but the politicians and business people won’t listen, and won’t let the information be heard.

The businessmen won’t do it, because their main interest is profit, and they do not see the connection between profit and making the world a place for everyone to thrive.

The politicians won’t do it, because their interests lie only in getting re-elected, and they are tied to leaders whose only interest is power. Their love of power will destroy the world, because they do not understand that the only real power is the power of love.

Now, before you jump to the idea that love is just an airy-fairy, sentimental feeling, think again. Love as we use it now is some romantic notion, and the word has been so misused and abused that it means nothing. “Oooh! I love that green jacket!” “I love chocolate.” “Love ya!”

Real love is connection. The connection between atoms, which form molecules. The connection between mother and child. The connection between all humans. The connection between moons and planets, planets and stars. Love is the connective tissue that binds all things together, and when we ignore it, we ignore the fundamental principle that rules the Universe. When we ignore it, we do so at our own peril. Love connects us; hate divides us. But we are still all connected, despite the emotional turmoil of our times.

Everything is connected. People starving in one section of the planet means we are all going to suffer. Cutting down forests to profit the few means we destroy the lungs of the planet, which provide all of us with oxygen. Polluting our oceans means we pollute our future.

It is time to change the world. We are not meant to be a polluted, disease-ridden, oxygen- deprived species floating around on a ruined, decaying planet.

Having money will do nothing for you, if there is no food to eat, no air to breathe, and no water to drink. Having power over a destroyed world will bring you no profit or joy. Love – recognition of the connection of all living things – is the answer. I’m not a big Bible reader, but to those who revel in their money, their profit, their status, their power, and to those who support them, the question should be put to them:

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

It is time to change the world, to create answers and solutions. But they will come at a cost, and we must be willing to pay any price to make these changes. When you truly see the connection between all beings, you cannot hate, you cannot turn away when help is needed. You will want to work to correct the course humanity is on, and thus correct the course of planet Earth.

We are all from the same source – race, religion, culture, economic status – these should not divide us. They are just false constructs. We are all humans, and we should all be stewards for Planet Earth and its inhabitants. The inhabitants are us! We need to be caretakers of all of us. It’s time to change the world.

It is time to change the world. And yes, we can do it. It is a matter of standing up for what is right for all beings, and standing up for the Earth, which is our home.

Who wrote this? A human. One person among many. There is no need for one name, because people will instantly ask, “What does (s)he know? What makes him/her an authority?” The answer is that this idea is not unique to one human. Thousands, probably millions, know this. But in the onslaught of corruption in politics, finance, and various industries, their voices are not heard, and if they are heard, they are ignored. Not only humans, but almost all animals know this truth about love and connection. Among themselves they know this as surely as they know the sun brings light. This knowledge is straight-knowledge, within their cells, connected to the source of things. Humans have the ability to touch such truths, but have ignored it, in favor of power, monetary wealth and pleasures. But this is the Truth. It makes no difference if you believe it. The Truth is true.

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Fathers and Daddies

This was written in about a half hour. I had been thinking about my father, and how fortunate I was to have had, however briefly, both a father and a daddy. For me there is a certain distinction between the two. I thought about several friends I have had whose fathers or mothers were abusive, but who still, once their child was an adult, demanded their respect and admiration and time, none of which they had earned nor deserved. So this just poured out of me.

Having not written a blog in almost a year – though I have been productive in writing other things – I decided it was time to write something, and this is the first thing that showed up in my mind. It might not be relevant to many, but it might apply to someone you know. The gist is that love is something to be given freely, not demanded, and if someone deserves it, it is probably not necessary to demand it.

Some people have a man in their lives who is their father, or their daddy – the man who contributed to their birth, and then stayed around to nurture and raise them. If they are lucky, they got both – father and daddy. .

A daddy is a treasure, and is frequently found in the same body as a father. Daddies throw you up in the air when you are a baby. They tickle you, delighted by your laughter. They hurt when you are sad. When daddies get home from work, you run to them as if you haven’t seen them in forever, and then leap up, to get the biggest hug. Daddies play games with you, squirt you when you’re swimming, make you laugh, and always have your back. They will teach you sports, or math, or whatever it is you need to learn. And if they can’t do it, they will find someone who can. In general daddies are cheerleaders.

A father is the man who is there for you as you grow up and mature. He listens to you, takes your ideas and concerns seriously, and from his experience and integrity he is able to guide you through the difficult challenges and circumstances that from time to time assail you. A father answers your questions, or guides you in finding the answers. A father is a teacher, a guide, and hopefully a role model. If you are really lucky, he also provides a moral compass for you as you mature.

Most people in the daddy role are also fathers. Sometimes you get someone who is more one than the other. But he is one of the most important people in your life. The wonderful thing about this person is that you never need to earn his love – it is given freely, continually, and never falters, even on the occasions when you do something unforgivable or unthinkable. Usually at that point this person will cry inside for you, but his love will be there when you realize that you have been less than your stellar self, and he will show you, with his love and his compassion, that you still are your stellar self, you just messed up a bit.

There may be a time when your father/daddy and your mother/mommy split up. If both of them are mature and nurturing, they will still keep up their roles, and be there for you no matter what. Sadly, this is not always the case.

Since this is an essay about fathers/daddies, I will say this: when a man contributes a sperm but nothing more to your existence, he is not a father or a daddy. He is a sperm donor. When a sperm donor turns on you, is unkind, unwilling and unable to nurture, support, and contribute to your well-being, he cannot claim the title of father or daddy. When his emotions run more towards anger, derision and dismissal, he is dishonoring the title he could have had, but has forsaken. Father/Daddy – these are sacred titles, only bestowed on those who fulfill the role with honor.

A sperm donor cannot make demands on your time or your affections. These are given freely by you, because they are deserved, but they are not subject to demand. So – if you have such a person in your life, even if a guidance counselor in your school says to you, “Of course you love him! He’s your father!” – you do not have to love him, except in the more abstract sense that we are all One, and he is part of the One.

But – and this is a big thing – while you may not be able to love him, what you should work on is forgiveness. You do this not for him but for yourself. Do not hold on to all the negative emotions this person evokes in you. Rather release them, forgive him, and show compassion for this person who is, in fact, isolated by his own misery, in a prison he began creating years ago in response to whatever things in his life made him so hurt and angry and afraid to be kind.

Sometimes, by the way, if you have been unfortunate to have a sperm donor instead of a father/daddy, someone else comes into your life and takes on that role. How fortunate you are! These are often the best of the best. If you have someone like that, count your many blessings.

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I met a young woman the other day at Trader Joe’s. I had seen her only a short while before at another store in the same shopping center. I was struck by her beauty, and so when I saw her for the second time, I said, “You were just in Whole Foods a little while ago.”

“Yes,” she said, “I was.”

“I noticed you immediately when you walked in, and was struck by your beautiful face.”

She was flustered for a moment, then pointed at me and said, “Well, look at you!”

“Dearheart, we’re not discussing me,” I said, “I look fine, but you are radiant.”

“But that’s just it – I can’t wait to be old,” she replied. Then, fearing she might have insulted me by calling me old, “Well, I mean, I can’t wait to age.”

“Why wait? You’re aging right now, as you stand here.”

“Oh my God, you’re right! This changes everything!”

“Actually, it doesn’t change anything, it just gives you a different viewpoint. You are aging, but if you wait until you feel old, you will have missed out on all the fun of seeing yourself change, and grow, and become. Aging is the process of change. The key to enjoying it is – pay attention.”

So that was the brief conversation I had with the young lady, and we went on our separate ways. I thought about this later, and realized that the exchange, though short, was actually somewhat profound. How often we don’t see what is occurring in our lives as it is actually happening. We may react to it, but we don’t necessarily pay attention to it enough for it to be a catalyst for change, growth or opportunity. Sometimes we get stuck in the moment and we don’t see anything else past it for a long time.

It reminded me a bit of the last act of “Our Town,” a play by Thornton Wilder, in which one of the main characters, Emily, has died. She is with the other townspeople who have passed on, and she wants to go back to revisit just one day on Earth. Not a very important one, just to go back and see everyone. She is warned against it.

When she goes back – for the day of her 11th birthday – she realizes that no one is really seeing one another. “Let’s really look at one another!…It goes so fast….I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed… “

When she gets back to the place where all the passed-on townspeople are, she asks: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?”

She has said her good-bye to Earth in a sweet remembrance of some of the mundane but lovely things in life – clocks ticking, sunflowers, food, coffee, new-ironed dresses, hot baths, sleeping, waking up. And there it is – all the things that we take for granted, don’t even notice – and then we are old.

One of the townspeople says to her: “Yes, now you know… That’s what it was to be alive. To move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million years…. Ignorance and blindness.”

So – in the middle of sad times, we want them gone. In the middle of good times, we want them to stay forever. But do we really pay attention to either? Do we see them in the haze of our own desire for them to be – or not be – what we do or don’t want?

Pay attention. Take the time to see what is there, and look inside to how you feel, and to what is happening. Sit with it. Be with that specific time, so that it is precious or awful for that moment. You can live with that. You can live much better with that than simply passing it by, and slowly aging without even knowing that that’s what’s been happening.

Paying attention can mean that at the end of your life you will hopefully have lived well, consciously, and that you will not have wasted your time waiting for the next moment to come, while the one you are in is still in front of you.

Age well – en-joy each moment, even the sad stuff. Treat it as if it will never come again. Ha! Pay attention right now, as you sit after reading this. Look in, look out –  pay attention.

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I meditate every day – sometimes more than once a day. My purpose in meditating is very different from what it was when I began. When I began the journey that led me to a spiritual practice and meditation, I thought meditation was about being still, quiet, not thinking, and being relaxed. Mostly it was supposed to be about staying calm, having an empty mind. Lots of luck on that last one.

My spiritual search began when I was still in school, and I asked myself the question, “Who am I? Who am I without my personality attributes and talents?” I asked a friend what she thought. She said, “Well, you’re Davina.” I said I didn’t think that was the answer.

After many years, joining groups, leaving groups, disappointments and disillusionments, I woke up to the realization that there were things I had to discover on my own, by learning and by experience.

I began to read books on ancient wisdom, written by a variety of people. I read physicists and cosmologists and esotericists, the old and new testaments, Hindu and Buddhist teachings.. The most important things I learned about meditation came from a variety of sources, and from my own experience.

I learned that there was a spiritual purpose behind meditation that was far beyond getting still and quiet. Meditation’s true purpose is so much more than simply feeling better so you can cope with life. (And I’m not saying that those are bad things, but they’re just a partial view of the entirety of the purpose and benefits of meditation.)

While at first meditation may seem to be something that “takes you away” from things for a while, I have come to see meditation as a way to bring me to my Self, in the highest sense. I now see myself as the observer of my thinking, and I know my thoughts are not me. I see each human as a spark from a much larger flame, and when we meditate we focus our tiny flame until it is united with the larger one. We become connected to that part of us that knows no boundaries, no limits, no insecurities, no opinions, no needs.

In its highest use, meditation is actually a service. It is a means for reaching higher levels of consciousness, for uniting ourselves with something beyond our small selves. In meditation we place ourselves in a position to receive higher energies, and function like tuning stations for these energies. Hopefully, we then pass them on in some way.

Though what is happening currently on planet Earth doesn’t look too pretty, the fact is that the human race is in the process of evolving. Raising consciousness to a higher level is part of that evolutionary process. So in meditating we are helping true evolution to occur. Imagine a time when humans can communicate without bullets or bombs, but with deep communication and understanding. Imagine a time when someone can say something offensive, and instead of striking back, you can simply observe it all, with no flashback reaction. You might respond, but you wouldn’t automatically react as an animal does when threatened. I believe that sane behavior will be the result of evolution, and I believe that through meditation we become more capable of such behavior.

So for many years now, each day I read, I study a bit, and I meditate. I am changed, and changing. Yet under all the change I am eternally the same. I have always been that still point, but now I am coming to know that. Now when I meditate, I am meditating not just for myself, but for everyone. One point of stillness aids the whole human family to rise.

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I don’t think there is a person on Earth who would reject the idea that balance and harmony are ideal situations for any living organism, and, for that matter, any planet or solar system or galaxy. The mental, emotional and physical states we experience are a direct result of how much balance and harmony we possess, or how much of these two traits we lack.

More and more researchers are discovering that emotional balance has a dramatic effect on physical and mental balance. Stress causes illness. I know. I have had to deal with illness that I know was caused by stress. And sometimes we simply take the stress for granted, and forget what it was like when we were completely at ease.

A sign at the Sonoma Ashram in Sonoma, California reads: “Nothing is worth losing your peace.” More and more I am finding that this is true. There is SO much out there that can grab hold of our peaceful state and make us crazy. Politics, the environment, schools, pollution, bad behavior, tragedies, domination by electronics, our children, their children, someone else’s children, noise. There is an endless list.

What is the remedy? How do we help the world? How do we make it better?

You might not like the answer, but it’s this: Start with yourself. Find beauty each day. Find a way to be kind to people. Be kind to yourself. Instead of being frustrated while waiting in line, or in traffic, use the time to simply be silent, and breathe. Be grateful wherever you are, for that moment. Keep your own energy as clean and bright as you can, and you will be one spot of light in the dark.

I know, I know – big deal. YES. IT IS. Because in doing this, you are being an example, feeling better about yourself and the world. And your light will radiate on others. It will make a difference.

A Quick Parable:
An old man walking along the beach littered with starfish after a storm came across a young boy who was tossing the starfish back in the ocean. Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. The boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.

The old man laughed. “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and, turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”

Get out there and shine, and create harmony around you. Guarantee it will make a difference. YOU will make a difference. And you will feel a difference.

Oh, come on – just try it! You know how sometimes you’re walking along smiling, and someone smiles back at you? That smile is a reflection of you.

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Reaching for Higher Ground

Recently a short paragraph in some reading material I’m studying gave me a bit of a jolt. I thought about it, and several days and several walks in the park later, I came up with some ideas about why I’m on the path I’m on. The mental meanderings I went through were thought-provoking.

Paraphrased, the paragraph said that the creative activity of the imagination is the first organizing influence that operates on and within the energies of a person who wants to move to higher ground (to the Higher Self). That’s what it said – the organizing influence that works on your energies to move you to a higher place in your consciousness is the creative imagination.

What? Okay, wait. What? This took me a while to digest. When I first thought about this idea, I thought about the imagination and what it means to me. My ideas included daydreaming, imagery and visualization. And then there is the imagination that runs on and on, making mountains out of molehills. These are all aspects of the imagination, but considering the creative activity of the imagination as an organizing influence, as something that affects spirituality – that was a new concept.

I thought of the famous quote of Einstein’s: “IMAGINATION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN KNOWLEDGE.” A poster with Einstein’s bushy head and these words hung in my classroom for many, many years. I believe this completely, without question. But as I walked along, I thought, “Okay, I feel this is true. But why is it true?”

What I came up with is that knowledge is what we already know; it is, in a sense, in the past. We can find it in books, in past experiences, on Google. Knowledge is what’s already been found or learned. And it’s fixed in time; after a while what we know may not even be true any more.

Imagination, on the other hand, looks to what we don’t know. It’s what creates, what brings into being that which we don’t already know. And that gave me a clue as to why imagination is a key to the Higher Self.

I began to think about my Higher Self. More specifically, I thought about what it would be composed of, what it would look or act like. I’ve always felt an intuitive sense of this, but really, what would my Higher Self be like if I met her? Am I ever my higher self? How close am I – or is anyone else – to meeting the Higher Self?

I thought first about what my Higher Mind would be like. For one thing, I decided that it would view all things symbolically. The principal of “as above, so below” would be the basis for its functioning. So everything I see would be viewed only as a manifestation – a symbol, so to speak – of something higher. No matter if it be a person, an animal, a rock or tree – I would see beyond the physicality of it, and know that the light of Spirit is within it. I would know that the outer presence is simply the embodiment of that light, but it’s the light that counts. I would know this completely and with total certainty as a given, not simply intellectually. Everything I encounter is a meeting with spirit, or essence. (This reminded me of the title of a book I read awhile ago: That Which Transpires behind That Which Appears.)

Then I thought of my emotional component. What would that be like? The word love came to mind, but not the love of romance, or even the love of a parent for a child, or the affection of one friend for another. I imagined it would be more like total, unconditional acceptance, knowing; more of a doing than a feeling.

I’ve often said that if I could treat every human I meet with the same acceptance I show for every dog or cat or other creature, I would be a saint. When I go on my morning walk I greet each person I see, but each dog is greeted with delight and such joy – as if they were all long lost friends. And the interesting thing is that dogs I’ve never met instantly come up to me. Once in a while they try to follow me home. There is something in my whole openness about animals and nature that says, “You are perfect and I see you that way.” Now, why can’t I do that with people? Notice, I said, “do that” – not feel that. It’s something of a conundrum, to be able to greet an animal with no restraint, no armor, no facade, yet the species I’m most like poses more a of a problem.

Well, what if I did that with people? What if I actually delighted in every person I met? Just to know how wonderful they are. That would be an aspect of my higher emotional state. I would see them clearly, without any of my own “stuff” – or theirs – to get in the way of our relationship. In fact, though I could use any emotion I chose at any time, I would not have any emotional baggage, if I were my higher self.

If someone said something mean, cruel or unkind, or I saw something happen that was not right – what then? I walked around a little, thinking about this. It was puzzling – how would my higher emotional self respond to really dreadful behavior? There are a lot of people in the world who do unkind, cruel things; there is a lot of greed, anger and violence in the world.

The answer came to me in the word respond. I believe the emotional part of me would respond, rather than react. I would not feel that emotional pang, or tug; no rise of reacting anger or hurt would occur. Instead, I would be able to listen, to observer, to understand. Perhaps I would have words or actions that could soothe. But the entire emotional transaction would not involve my getting caught up in being right, in demanding someone behave, etc. First of all, I would know that underneath, this person is still the reflection of the Whole, and therefore there is a light somewhere in there. (Okay, maybe the light is really, really dim, or maybe it’s blocked by the darkness of the person…but there is some spark, I’m sure.)

Then I thought of the physical part of me. What would that be like? I believe my mental and emotional states would be in alignment to the point where my physical body would follow suit – as above, so below. I would be able to communicate to my body through my love for each and every cell, each organ, and I would be able to heal myself. Now, I know this is possible; I believe it and I have done it. I haven’t been able to do it in all instances, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. I just have to know my body a little better, and operate from that knowing place.


So then I went back to the imagination. What does all this have to do with organizing my energies for the journey to my Higher Self? How does this actually work?

And I realized that it was working all this time, to help me see a future self. All the time that I was winding through my questions, I was continually posing the question that invariably evokes the imagination: what if?

Here I was, asking myself, “What if?” and projecting what would happen if…. And of course, I took myself on a journey of “what if…?” and came up with a compact synopsis of my Higher Self. This whole exploration was organized by my imagination. Believe me, I will be looking at this for a looong time, so it’s really just the beginning.


Then another phrase came to mind: acting AS IF. Some people call this “fake it ‘til you make it” but I don’t think this is quite the same thing. Acting AS IF is a conscious choosing of how you will be, and following through with it. It takes will, something I struggle with on moment to moment basis.

For me that rounded out the picture – higher mind, love and will. If I could call upon these three, act as if I were already my Higher Self, I would eventually see results. My imagination would have organized my energies so that I could act as if I were my best self.

I already see results with animals and plants – I just have to get to the point where I can respond to humans – and to myself – the same way. I’m working on it – it’s slow going, but it’s better than not going at all…
HERE’S A STORY SOMEONE SENT ME IN AN E-MAIL YEARS AGO – I THINK IT FITS IN HERE. If it doesn’t seem to fit, at least it’s a cute story.

There once was a little boy who wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God was, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of root beer, and he started his journey.

When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park, just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to her, and opened his suitcase. He was about to drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry, so he offered her a Twinkie.

She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that he wanted to see it again, and so he offered her a root beer. Once again, she smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon, eating and smiling, but they never said a word. As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was, and he got up to leave. But before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old woman, and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” He replied, “Oh, I had lunch with God.”

Before his mother could respond, he said, “You know what? She’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”

Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of pure joy and peace on her face. He asked, “Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?”

“Oh,” she answered, “I ate Twinkies in the park with God.” Before her son could respond, she added, “You know, he’s a lot younger than I expected.”

How much do we see – in a flower, a person, something or someone we see every day? Do we see beyond the anger or the pain, to that which is beyond it, behind it, within it? Do we see the light that’s there? Maybe we just need to look a little deeper, or look at it as if it’s already there.

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