Do You Live From Memory or Inspiration?

For many years I lived from memory. I was held captive by my past. Most of those memories were unhappy, but even the happy memories keep me chained in the past. When we live from memory, we give up our power. We can do nothing constructive if we live from memory.

Not all my past was unhappy. There were some good times. I have lived a long and interesting life; I’ve had two husbands and gave birth to four children. As with most people, my life has had its share of happiness and pain. But if I dwell on either for very long, I’m living in the past.

As much as I value my past and the experiences I’ve had, I choose to live from inspiration. I believe that every person can be inspired, if they’re willing to listen for it.

Recently I watched an interview with a well-known personality, who was talking about his latest book. He said he felt like he was inspired by God as he wrote.

Mozart was composing magnificent music at an age when most boys are still pulling pranks and playing in the little league. I’ve read that he said that he “saw” complete symphonies in his mind before he began to write them down.

Most people know that Einstein was thought to be intellectually retarded; some biographies say that he didn’t speak until he was three years old and that in his early years he spoke slowly. No one, in Einstein’s youth, considered him to be a genius.

A friend says that we all have the capacity for genius, we just don’t realize it. We all have the seeds for greatness, but only if we live by inspiration. We all have the inherent ability to live from inspiration. In truth, that’s the only way we can live. Einstein said we live in a spiritual universe. Taking the religious meaning out of the equation, spiritual also means non-physical and unsubstantial. Quantum physics shows us that what we call “reality” is unsubstantial…everyone is 99.9999 percent empty space.

The word inspiration comes from the root inspirare, which means to breathe into. We all are inspired by the Intelligence of the universe. It inspired us with the breath of life. Just being alive, we are inspired!

When we live from inspiration, we let the Intelligence of the universe breath through us, giving us new ideas, new ways of living our lives. When we live from inspiration, we are like Einstein, open to new ways of thinking. There is no limit to what we can do, have, or become, when we live by inspiration!

Who I Am…

I adhere to a philosophy called Science of Mind.  For fifteen years I’ve studied, taught and tried to practice the principles of Science of Mind.  I say “try” because I have years of old recordings in my mind that need to be erased and unlike a computer program in which I can hit “select all” and then “delete’, I have to work with the recordings one-by-one as they surface in my conscious mind.

Science of Mind teaches that God, or Spirit, is All – everything was created by God and everything comes from God. It also teaches that God doesn’t judge or condemn; It only sees the good that It created.  (Yes, I said It, because Science of Mind teaches that God, as Spirit, has no gender.  At the same time, because It is personal to anyone who approaches, It is Mother/Father/God.  Both Comforter and Creator.)

What drew me to Science of Mind is that it is both a deeply spiritual philosophy and a practical spirituality.  If a follower wants, she can go deep into the heart of God, learning more and more of her unity with the Divine.  At the same time, it has principles that, when practiced, can lead to a happier, more full-filling life.

One of those principles is the Law of Attraction.  Is there anyone today who hasn’t heard of the Law of Attraction?  Simply put, you draw to yourself how you are.  Many advocates of the Law of Attraction make it as simple as “thoughts become things”, which is one part of the Law of Attraction.  Science of Mind does teach that thoughts become things, but it goes further.  The Law responds to our feelings, which are created by our thoughts.  Even further, our thoughts and our feelings created beliefs and it is the beliefs that actually create our lives.  This is where the erasing of the old records comes in.

Beliefs are the old records.  We start to have beliefs about how life is or should be when we are old enough to understand speech and body language, though we’re too young to know this.  When we’re very little, we learn how to behave by the expressions on our parents’ faces, by the tone of their voices.  At an early age we begin to understand that when mommie or daddy is upset, we need to be very good, if we want to be fed, or loved, even.  Beliefs are starting to form.

Overtime, beliefs learned at the early age become engrained.  We don’t even realize that any responses we have are because of our beliefs.  We live almost as automatons.

Some of us are fortunate; for some reason we begin to realize that life isn’t going the way we want.  We start to question.  Questioning leads to introspection.  Little by little we begin to understand that we’ve been living with beliefs that no longer serve us.  This is when the magic happens; this is the beginning of enlightenment!

Enlightenment isn’t something that boom!  happens one day.  You don’t wake up one morning and think, wow!  I’m enlightened.  It’s a process; little by little we let go old beliefs, about ourselves, about life, about God.  Out of the void a new belief grows.  One of my gurus says, “Meditation isn’t about what goes on when you’re meditating; it’s about who and how you are in the world.”  It’s the same with enlightenment; you don’t even realize that you’ve changed.  It becomes who you are, how you are.  You live and love and experience the world in a new way, a way that is softer, and yet stronger at the same time.  You know who you are.

Knowing who you are…that’s when you truly begin to live.  For me, it began with Science of Mind.

Veer Right…or Maybe Left?

A few days ago I was driving up Highway 47 to Albuquerque. From my house it just makes sense to take 47 to I-25, even though the road takes me down curving roads and the drive is slow, especially in the summer, because of farm vehicles. Some say it’s faster to drive through Belen to I-25 (it isn’t, I’ve clocked it), but I prefer tree-lined 47 and it’s lush, green summer fields. In the fall the beautiful old trees blaze gold against a cerulean sky.

As I was driving I looked down at the compass on the car’s control panel. I was driving true north.

On a compass, as in life, True North isn’t always so clearly marked. Many times I’ve thought I was heading in the right direction only to discover I was off course, sometimes so much so I thought I had lost my way. But when I stopped and took my bearings I was able to find my way back. I’ve discovered that I enjoy getting off course, because I’ve gone places and had experiences I wouldn’t have if I traveled true north all the way.

Exploring country roads and strange cities on your way to your destination can be fun, if you’re not in a hurry or anxious about being lost. When my youngest daughter was still at home we often took road trips. Inevitably I’d find myself wandering through an unknown city. My daughter, anxious about being lost, always insisted we stop and ask for directions. I, equally insistent, said, “We’re not lost; just haven’t found our destination yet.” (Recently she gave me a t-shirt with the inscription, “All who wander are not lost.”)

I like exploring new cities and unexpected turns. However, when it comes to my life’s purpose – the big questions of “Why am I here?” and “What’s my purpose in life?” – I’m not as easily entertained by detours. I’ve always had an inner urge to “get on with my life,” feeling that life was passing me by.

However, I’ve discovered – this is my life! Whatever I’m doing in the moment, this is my life. If what I’m doing in that moment is something that I don’t enjoy, then I need to look at it, but at the same time, realize, this is my life. No matter what I’m doing, if I’m doing it with joy in my heart, then I’m living my purpose. True North can have many different facets, many twists and turns, but we will still arrive at our destination if we stay the course.

All my life, one thing has been a constant: I wanted to write. I lost sight of that desire in my younger years. I veered left when my inner compass said go straight. I listened to critics or my own inner critic who suggested I either didn’t have the talent or I’d ask myself, what would I write and who would read what I wrote?

Our True North is an internal voice that will always lead to our destination, if we listen to it only! How do we know if we’re listening to our own Inner Guide? By paying attention; there are clues, particularly in our bodies. There are many studies today that verify that the cells in our bodies have intelligence. Remember that old “gut feeling”? Turns out, it’s true, we can trust our gut feelings. In 1998, Dr. Michael Gershon, a neurological researcher at Columbia University in New York, studied the enteric nervous center. His, and other research, show that the network of neurons lining our guts is so extensive that some scientists call it our “second brain”. This brain, this mass of neural tissue filled with neurotransmitters, partly determines our mental states and plays an important part in some diseases.

Researchers are revealing the mind/body connection, how our minds affect our bodies. Our “gut feelings” are big indicators of whether we’re following true north. You know when you’re off course or have taken a wrong turn, when you’re trying to find a physical location. If you’re using a GPS, the programmed voice will immediately tell you. If you’re off course with your life, you’ll know if you pay attention to your gut or other areas of your body. That flu bug you caught? That may be your Inner Guide trying to tell you something. Do you have a new ache somewhere? Pay attention; your body may be trying to tell you that you need to change direction.

There are clues to True North in your body; listen, pay attention. True North is the only way to happiness and happiness is the bottom line for all of us.

What’s Your Passion?

Mark loves food, he loves to eat and he loves to cook. He also loves to grow what he cooks and eats. Mark’s dream was to live on a farm and grow everything he ate.

It was in his junior year, Swathmore College in Pennsylvania, that Mark’s love of food and cooking began to formulate as a desire to grow his own food, when his biology teacher took the class on weekend field trips to innovative local farms. During his senior year, Mark bicycled across the United States, working at farms along the way. After graduation he worked as an apprentice on farms around the world; Mark traveled from Venezuela to India to learn about farming.

Mark’s passion for good food led him to his life’s work. After traveling the world to learn about farming, he came home to run a Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) farm. It wasn’t long until he began to long for his own piece of land where he could farm. He started looking for land on which he could build. When he was looking for a farm to build his dream, he never wavered. His dream was to have a big piece of land on which he would grow not just vegetables, but also dairy cows and beef cattle, chickens for eggs and eating, pigs, and any other animal that would provide food. A big piece of land. Some might falter – this was a big dream – but not Mark. He expected to have the land and he expected to have the land for free. All his life, he said, good things had happened to him. He believes he has a magic circle around him that attracts good things. His belief in his magic circle worked; nine months after he began looking for his big piece of land, a man walked into his magic circle and offered him 500 acres of land in upper state New York, with a year’s free lease.

Now into its eighth season, Mark lives his passion – living and working on a farm that provides everything he needs to eat all year and enough for all the members who buy shares.

Mark’s magic circle is his intuition or inner guidance. Everyone has a magic circle, but not everyone has the courage or bravado to believe in it. Mark’s passion for good food led him to discover his purpose in life. An inner knowing kept him from deviating from that purpose. Though his fiancé (now his wife), friends and family might not have understood or shared his belief in his dream, he didn’t let that deter him. He had a dream and knew it would be realized. Today he and his wife and two daughters live on a farm that sustains them and many others. Mark lives his dream, his purpose.

There is no trick or secret to finding your purpose, your passion. All that is required is to listen. Have you been with a friend who never stopped talking? When you parted, you felt as thought you knew a lot about your friend, but you came away feeling letdown. The “conversation” was one-sided; your friend monopolized the conversation. You listened, she talked. That’s how most of us are. When we’re trying to find our way, we talk…”This is where I want to go; this is what I want to do; this is what I want…”. We’re so busy exclaiming what we want, we never stop to listen to what our hearts, our inner guidance, is trying to tell us. We need to listen, not just with our ears, but with our hearts.

How do you listen with your heart? Scientists now believe that the heart is a highly complex system with it’s own functional brain. Neurocardiology, a new science, shows that the heart is a sensory organ and a sophisticated center for receiving and processing information. In addition, information about a person’s emotional state is communicated throughout the body. Emotions change the rhythmic beating pattern of the heart. The Institute of HeartMath has discovered that the heart’s energetic field plays an important role in communicating physiological, psychological, and social information.

Neurocardiology gives ample support for listening to and trusting your heart. Pay attention to the rhythm of your heart. You know that your heat beat speeds up when you’re excited. It affects your entire body. When you think about, or are doing something you enjoy, how do you feel? When you think about how you will spend your day, how do you feel? Pay attention to your feelings and your heart beat. These will guide you to your passion. When you’re living your passion, you’re living your dreams. Living your purpose is living a passionate life.

Finding Your Path, Your True North

Expert navigators know that by following the North Star they can find their way wherever they want to go.

As a metaphor for life, true north is both easy and difficult to follow. It requires the willingness to listen to the wisdom of our heart and surrender to that wisdom. Surrender is difficult because we don’t believe the wisdom. Few of us are intimate with the wisdom of our hearts, so we don’t recognize it.

A woman named Cheryl embarked upon a journey to intimacy with the wisdom of her heart. Grieving the death of her mother, she couldn’t find her true north. Seeing a brochure describing the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), she decided to hike the trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada. She admitted she didn’t know why; she only knew she was a woman “with a hole in her heart” who hoped the hole would be healed as she hiked.

Cheryl’s true north was hidden from view by the cloud of her mother’s death. Her mother had been the focal point and compass of Cheryl’s life for 22 years. Losing that, Cheryl’s grief became her focal point. Everything she did from that time, even the decision to hike the PCT, was to assuage her grief.

As Cheryl hiked the PCT her mind became clear. Just as she saw the landscape she walked from the perspective and panorama of the PCT, her perception of her life and her mother’s life and death began to come into focus. She could see with a clearer vision.

Cheryl’s focus became the trail and her own survival. Blisters on her feet, water to drink and food to eat, where to camp at night, staying alert because of the threat of wildlife- bears, wolves, coyotes, rattlesnakes-enveloped her mind and her engulfing grief began to lessen. Near the end of the trail, standing on the ridge of Crater Lake in Oregon, she realized the hole in her heart had begun to fill. As she hiked the PCT she found her true north. Though it had been with her all the while, she hadn’t recognized it. Having the courage to set out on the trail and endure the months of her journey, she discovered a strength she didn’t know she had. Facing her fears and surviving the hardships of walking a wilderness trail, alone for many weeks, she discovered the person she always was: a brilliant writer, a loving, faithful wife and a mother to equal her own. The PCT pointed the way to her True North, her true self.

Most of us have a hole in our hearts, without the eloquence to know what to call it. We yearn for something and try to fulfill that yearning with food, drugs, work, shopping, and other addictions. All addictions are simply something we use to fill the hole in our hearts because we don’t know how to listen to our heart wisdom. In our own ways, we’ve walked a PCT, trying to find our true north, trying to fill the hole in our hearts. And the irony is, the distance we have to travel is just inches, from our heads to our hearts!

True north, our true self, that for which we yearn, is always silently waiting right where we are. True North is never found outside ourselves. Though she found her true north while hiking the PCT, it was the time Cheryl spent becoming intimate with herself, discovering the strength of her character, that led her to her true self.

When we’re struggling with our addictions, we’re walking the PCT, allegorically. Our paths twist and turn and lead us to places we didn’t intend, or even want, to go, as, blinded by our addictions, we chase one thing then another. Without the journey, we can’t reach the destination. That’s the human condition. How often we say, “No pain, no gain”? We don’t appreciate our good until we’ve experienced heartaches. That’s the lie we’ve been told and we’ve accepted it as the truth.

The “real” truth is that our true north is as steady and real and clear as the North Star. When we step outside on a clear night and look up, it’s there. It will guide us home if we let it.

When we listen to our hearts, when we silence the noise of our minds, we discover our True North. It will guide us to our purpose, our reason for being.

There are clues all around for finding True North: what makes you feel alive? What makes every cell in your body tingle with life? What is it that gives you the greatest feeling of accomplishment?

That’s your True North, your True Self.

Finding True North

I love maps and I’m fascinated by Global Positioning Systems (GPS). It’s amazing to me that a tiny electronic device can pinpoint my exact location anywhere I am and guide me to my destination. When traveling in an unknown city, I often have both a map and a GPS in my lap, trying to find my way.

Maps differ from a GPS in that they offer possibilities, while a GPS, if programmed correctly, will lead you where you want to go and let you know when you’ve gone astray, loudly! “As soon as possible, make a u-turn and go….”. Over and over…ack! Turn that thing off!

I like the possibilities of maps, but when I have a destination and a deadline, a GPS is better. It takes me where I want to go without deviation.

Then there is the compass. Compasses point the way, but there are variations, because of the magnetic pull of the earth. If I want to find true north, a magnetic compass will not help. True north is different from magnetic north. Magnetic north varies from place to place because of local magnetic anomalies. To find true north from a magnetic compass I need to know the local magnetic variation. A good map will have magnetic deviations marked. Magnetic north differs from true north because of magnetic declination, a measure of the angle between true north and magnetic north. True north is a geographical direction, represented on maps by longitudinal lines. Each line of longitude begins and ends at the Earth’s polar and represents north and south travel. Finding your way north by following longitudinal lines may be tricky; you may encounter impassable terrain or other obstacles. A magnetic compass will lead to your destination, but you may wander and zigzag.

The simple way to find true north is to use a GPS, which tells you where you are. Be selecting true north on your GPS and entering your destination, the GPS will show you how to get there.

True North has become a metaphor for life. Everyone has a True North; it is something within that calls us. How we find it depends on our choices. Sometimes the choice is made because we hear the call clearly. Some people know from a very young age what is calling them and they don’t let anything stop them from heeding the call. Some people may know but they become deterred or distracted. And some people don’t hear or don’t trust themselves.

True North doesn’t pull you toward it or tell you how to get there. It does, however, point you in the direction, when you look and listen.

There is a True North for your life. It is uniquely you. No one else has the same True North. It is an internal compass that will guide you through life successfully, if you will consult it. Your True North is you at your deepest level – your passions, your values and what motivates you. It represents what gives you satisfaction. True North is your point of orientation and leads you forward.

Finding your True North is both easy and difficult. Easy, because all you have to do is pay attention and listen. Difficult because you have to listen and make the commitment. Most of us don’t want to take the time or make the commitment. We often don’t trust ourselves. We’re so busy following the compass, we zigzag when the quickest way might have been to go straight. How do you know what your True North is? It’s so simple we often ignore it. There is an inner knowing, a “gut feeling”. Is there something you love to do, just for the sheer joy of doing it? That’s your True North. Pay attention to how you feel and you’ll learn what your True North is – you’ll learn what satisfies you, what makes you happy.

If you’ll take the time to consult your internal compass, you’ll always be led in the right direction. Finding your True North is applicable to every area in your life: you’ll find true joy in your work, your play, your relationships. You’ll know who you are at a very deep level and that knowledge will guide you in every thing you do.

And when you are seduced and get off track ( and you will!) your internal compass will let you know. You’ll have an internal knowing, that “gut feeling”, that something is wrong and you need to make corrections.

Consider this: what makes your heart sing? What, when you’re doing it, gives you such pleasure that time flies? Think about that…that’s your True North.

The Two Faces of Dharma

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?  

Mary Oliver

Is there a person who hasn’t asked herself, “What is the purpose of my life?” Or, “Why am I here?”
    In seeking to know my own purpose, or why I am here, what I shall do with my “… one wild and precious life…”, I’ve gone down many avenues. In one avenue, I was a domestic violence counselor. One of my clients’ husband, while begging her to come back to him, threatened to commit suicide. Even though his threat was a ploy to cause her guilt, the threat indicated he didn’t understand how precious life is.  Charles Fillmore, in Dynamics for Living, wrote, “God, or Primal Cause of all things, is the only safe basis on which to predicate an argument that deals with life in all its sinuous windings…”.  When we begin to understand that God is :..the only safe basis…”. we begin to live, fully, joyfully and expectantly. 
    To the question, “Why am I here?”, Charles Fillmore wrote, “God answers: Spiritually you are My idea of Myself as I see Myself in the ideal; physically you are the law of My mind executing that idea.” We are God manifest and we are here to live out the idea of God that It has for Itself.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  Mary Oliver

When we ask ourselves, “What is my purpose?”, we usually mean, what am I to do, with my life; what is my vocation? There is a deeper meaning to the word ‘vocation’. The Latin root, vocatis, which means a call or summons, is similar to the word voice, vocem, its Latin root. Vocation in this sense means finding your voice. When you ask, “What is my purpose,” meaning your vocation, you are also asking, “What is my voice? How am I being heard in the world?”

Thomas Merton, American Catholic writer, mystic and Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, wrote, “Every man has a vocation to be someone; but he must understand that in order to fulfill this vocation he can only be one person: himself.” I can only be myself, no matter what I do, what occupation I pursue.
If I can only be myself, who or what is that self? What is my vocation? How do I know? “What is it [I] plan to do with [my] one wild and precious life?”  I have always thought that my purpose in life was to do something; my purpose is defined by what I do “in the world.”  Reading the Bhagavad Gita and Charles Fillmore, however, I discover something quite different. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna reveals to Arjuna that purpose – dharma, in the Gita – is not what Arjuna is or does. Arjuna, born into a caste system, is a warrior and faced with leading his troops into war against an army which is comprised of many of his kinsmen. He cannot bear this responsibility and is frightened and full of doubt. Krishna reminds him it is his duty, his dharma, to lead and to fight.
Krishna explains to Arjuna that all humans must work while in this physical world, but when we realize we are expressions of the Divine, that we are God-incarnate, we work for the joy of expressing God, no matter what we do.

Charles Fillmore echoed Krishna’s exclamation that our purpose is to express the Divine in all we do when he wrote, “The great and most important issue before the people today is the development of man’s spiritual mind and through it unity with God.” Like Arjuna, I struggle with my dharma – what is my purpose? Why am I here? Charles Fillmore declares, “You are here to discover your unity with God.” I’m here to discover that I am the image of God and was born into the perfection of God.

If my purpose is not what I do, but Who I am, then it doesn’t’ matter what I do…or does it? How important is it that I “…live squarely in the center of [my] dharma?” (Stephan Cope, 2012).
What I do in this physical life and body are my way of honoring the Divine. The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas asserts: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you; if you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” If you bring forth what is within you… What is within me that needs to come forth? What is it that wants to be expressed?

We live in a time when people have many options, many occupations from which to choose. Twenty years ago I worked as a career counselor. It was my job to guide people to find work. My philosophy was that every person should be able to work at something they loved. Mary Oliver wrote, “Whoever you are…the world offers itself to your imagination…”. (Mary Oliver, 1992). We can choose from many fascinating occupations, but “…if [we] do not bring forth what is in [us], what [we] do not bring forth will destroy [us].” If I do not bring forth what is within me, if I do not let my voice be heard, what is within me will destroy me. If I do not honor my true nature, it will destroy me.

Psychologists are beginning to understand the mind/body connection. Many diseases are thought to be a result of stress (Gale Stewart, 2014). Is it possible that refusing to acknowledge our dharma, or even being ignorant of it, can be the number one factor in many diseases? Stephan Cope, in his book, The Great Work of Your Life, tells story after story of people who have turned their back on their dharma and the illnesses, mental and physical, that have beset them. He also tells about people who lived their dharma, no matter the cost, and how they were fulfilled. “If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you.” It may not be important to the world that I am living my dharma, but it is important to my soul.

Dharma is the essential quality that makes an individual unique; the true nature and divine order of a person; a personality fingerprint. Dharma is written into our souls; just as DNA forms our bodies, our souls are formed by our dharma. Each of us has a unique dharma, that which is within and must be expressed. Dharma in this sense is that which we were born to do. If we ignore our dharma, “…what is within us…”, it will destroy us.
The world today isn’t an easy place to live our dharma. Arjuna was born in a time and a system where every person knew his role, his duty. Today, many of us flounder, or slip into a role we don’t want, because of the expectations of our family, or because we’re convinced we can’t, either because we don’t have the talent, or what we want to do, what we’re born to do, won’t pay the bills.

We watch our ‘…one wild and precious life…” slip by. Our true voice goes unheard.

Life is precious. It, along with our dharma, our vocation, is a gift from the Universe, from God, to discover our divinity and to live from that divinity. Not understanding this, we sometimes settle for a life of mediocrity. Not understanding that “…the world offers itself to [our] imagination…”, that we were born with a gift that needs to be expressed, we squander it chasing after material things.

Krishna calls us to a higher way of being. When we ponder, “What is my purpose; why am I here?”, Krishna and Charles Fillmore remind us, we are here to express the Divine, to live as the Divine and to live our gift. Dharma has two faces: our essential Self – the Divine – and our talents. Dharma calls us to express our Divine Self by way of our talents. Anything we do, whether it’s writing a book or painting a wall, waiting on customers at the neighborhood market, leading a country or a parent-teachers’ meeting, giving a spiritual message or raising a child – everything we do is our vocation, our call from the Divine, just to live, to experience life as the Divine.

“Tell me, what will you do with your one wild and precious life?” As for me, no matter what I do, I live to express God, to know that God and I are one.

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