Abundance is Everywhere – Open Your Eyes.

Aug 13
2011

Florida’s Gulf beaches offer a cornucopia of gifts: gorgeous sunsets, puffy, shape-changing clouds, fresh air, blue herons, egrets, seagulls, baby turtles plodding their way from their nests to the sea, sharks teeth, seashells, warm sun, blue sky. Every single one of these gifts is free. Do we stay mindful enough to notice them, breathe them in, and allow them to renew our minds, bodies and spirits?

 

This morning, as I waded in the warm, turbulent Gulf surf, shells and sharks teeth abundantly cascaded over my toes. If I didn’t scoop them up quickly, I lost them. The surf churned them back into the sea or beneath the sand.

 

The supply was constant, but if I didn’t stay alert and take action, the moment and opportunity were lost.

 

A friend of mine recently made a public offer to give $25 to anyone who would contact him and ask for the money. At least 100 people looked at the offer. Only one acted.

 

How about you? Would you rather just sit there, think about it, be skeptical, and lose a life of wonderful moments? Or are you open to taking action to receive all the bountiful gifts that are constantly flowing into your life?

Good “Angry” People

Aug 07
2011

My good friend, Frederick Zappone, just started a big discussion as the result of his INSPIRED LIVING blog talk radio show. His topic was Got ANGER?  Find out how to make anger your most powerful ally and your best friend.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/frederickzappone/2011/08/05/good-angry-people

You can’t imagine the resistance his topic brought up from people still stuck in their heads about anger, certain that anger was somehow bad.

I can only assume that those people have lived very comfortable lives. Have they ever been jailed for a crime they didn’t commit? Raped? Tortured? Had their homes ransacked and gifts from their loved ones stolen? Been evicted because their landlord could get more money from someone else? Lived in a society where disputes are resolved by bribes? Been forced to exist in a concentration camp? Been relegated to the back of a bus or forced to drink from a different water fountain because of their skin color? Been an innocent victim of a nuclear bomb? If not, they simply can’t understand anger and outrage.

The issue is not whether there is anger and outrage. There is. The issue is what we do with it when we experience it.

Do we stuff it and pretend these evils never happened? Do we remain silent, tacitly supporting this kind of inhuman conduct and allowing it to continue?

I, for one, choose to speak out against it, bring it to the light of day, make it transparent for the whole world to see, and take action to stop it whenever I can. It is simply not acceptable conduct in a co-creative, collaborative world.

Feeling anger and taking appropriate action is not the antithesis of love and understanding. It is love and understanding at the very deepest levels of our souls.

I can still love the person who engages in this kind of despicable conduct and understand that he, too, may have been abused, without standing silent in the face of his dysfunctional conduct.

Benevolence and Leadership. Valuable? Possible?

Jul 31
2011

A recent post on the Business Spirituality LinkedIn site asked: “What difference can a benevolent leader bring to people and organizations? Is it possible to be benevolent without being naive?”

I’m not sure benevolence is the right word here. Benevolence, to me, implies giving to others, sometimes without including myself in the benevolence. I find myself preferring the word compassion. The word compassion, to me, has more of a sense of having walked in the shoes of the other, having experienced their suffering, and supporting all of us in moving toward a more joyful, purposeful life. Compassion is essential to good leadership.

One of my life long lessons has been learning how to expand into my own spiritual understanding and power and then use that spiritual understanding and power to support others as they expand into the fully developed, unique individuals they are intended to be. Supporting them does not mean giving them whatever they want. Often, it means challenging their current thought processes or flat out saying ‘no.’ This is the role of the spiritual warrior.

I was very fortunate to have had two wonderful parents. Both were teachers. Both were fair and compassionate. Both valued order and structure, and yet, there was always space for play and creativity in our home. My parents truly led by example. Because I was happy, I never questioned their leadership. I knew I was loved, respected, and valued. I did what they told me to do simply because I trusted them.

Then I moved out into the rest of the world and discovered, over and over, through painful experience after painful experience, that not everyone was as kind, benevolent, compassionate and fair as my parents. Other people said negative things about me, verbally abused me, bullied me, and betrayed my trust. I had to learn how to protect myself from all this negative energy. I had to learn how to detach mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically. I had to learn how to release my fear. I had to learn how to refocus my outrage from judging and blaming the bullies and abusers to shifting the energy of that outrage into being just, fair, and accountable. As painful and sometimes terrifying as it often was, I had to learn how to say ‘no’, I will not enable and support that conduct. I will not stay in a relationship where I am not respected. I will move out of relationships where I am verbally abused. I simply deserve better.

For me, finding the balance between benevolence and naivete requires a constantly shifting awareness of the energy dynamics of any situation. I can then change those dynamics by changing myself. It always requires staying in integrity with my own values of compassion, non-violence, mutual respect, and accountability.

I’ve walked in the shoes of the other. I’ve experienced their suffering. How can I be anything but compassionate toward us all?

Does Evil Really Exist?

Jul 01
2011

Are we asking the wrong question when we ask, “Does evil really exist?”

What if we change the question to: “What does the word “evil” mean to me in this particular experiential context?”

Envision a mother, bound and gagged, forced to watch a brutal gang rape of her beautiful ten-year old daughter. The mother’s and daughter’s physical and emotional pain has to be nothing short of excruciating.

If I were in the shoes of either, it would be easy to label the rapists “cruel”, “brutal”, “uncaring”, and even “evil”. From the rapists’ perspective, they are probably simply showing off their sexual prowess and engaging in male camaraderie. But at what cost to the mother and daughter?

If you’ve never spoken with a woman who has been brutally raped, you have no idea what shame, guilt and anguish she experiences or the years it takes her to heal. If she’s fortunate, her shame, guilt and anguish will eventually turn to rage and outrage, and yes, this rage and outrage may initially be directed at the rapists. Temporarily, she may need to label these men “evil” in order to find the courage to step into her own passion, power and purpose. What will that passion, power and purpose be? To protect herself and all other women on this planet from this type of life-shattering experience and stand firm in her own core respect for and appreciation of herself and all other women.

“Shut Up, Mind!”

Jun 24
2011

This is my friend Alice’s new mantra when her mind starts going round in circles.

How interesting! That’s the exact opposite of what I use when my mind starts going round in circles.

I just let my mind go wherever it wants without censorship. The “without censorship” is important. Censorship is exactly what makes my mind go around in circles. How can it possibly get out of that tiny little box it doesn’t know it’s in, when it keeps telling itself that that tiny little box is the only safe place to be?  What would other people think if I let my mind get out of the box?

“Shut up, Censor!”

When I let my mind out of the box, it takes me along absolutely astonishing paths, to places I’ve never dreamed of visiting, along roads I never thought I would travel. This often occurs in a semi-dream state when I’m half awake and half asleep. I’m conscious, but my critical, analytical brain is less active. That’s when my creative, right brain comes alive. I never try to stop it.

Often, I’ll go to bed struggling with a problem my left brain can’t solve no matter how hard it tries.

My right brain comes in, chuckles, and turns my left brain’s ideas upside down. In the morning, my problems of the night before are solved and I am at peace.

How do I remember the thoughts that pop into my head during that semi-conscious state? I keep a tape recorder next to my bed and talk into the recorder as the thoughts happen. In the morning when I’m fully awake, I welcome my left brain back, listen to my out-of-the-box mumblings from the night before and integrate whatever is useful.

You and Me – Alienation or Collaboration?

Jun 18
2011

Shib Shakti, a long- time spiritual friend from India, wrote:

… we are programmed, in our families, from the very onset of our senses – It’s ‘my’ mom, it’s ‘my’ dad, it’s ‘my house’, that’s ‘your’ pen, that’s ‘your’ toy…. and this way we are programmed to alienate ourselves from ‘others’, though we could be taught instead that everything outside us is also part of ourselves

What a fascinating topic!

You/Me Scarcity Mentality

If I hear Shib correctly, he is speaking about that aspect of you/me mentality that operates from scarcity. There is not enough to go around. I have to protect myself and hoard all the physical resources I can. If you win, I lose. This mentality creates conflict.

There are, however, other aspects of you/me mentality.

You/Me Uniqueness Mentality

Each of us on this planet is unique. Each of us has different genes, different cultural experiences, different parental experiences, different education, different skills. These differences are the gifts we have to give to the planet. It is vital for each of us to respect our own uniqueness in order to be able to grow to our full potential. This requires distinguishing you from me and getting clear on exactly what gifts and skills each of us has to offer.

You/Me Stewardship Mentality

US - Figure/Ground Ambigram by John Langdon, www.johnlangdon.net. Used by permission.

 

A third aspect of you/me mentality, related to Uniqueness Mentality is stewardship.

There are clearly some people who are better qualified to manage certain resources than others. For example, if I want to fly to New Delhi, I am far better served when the plane is piloted by an experienced pilot than a five year old child. If I need food, I am far better served by a farmer than an accountant. If I want joy and curiosity in my life, perhaps I am best served by the five-year old.

Stewardship emanates, not from scarcity thinking, conflict and disrespect, but from abundance thinking, collaboration and mutual respect. It is a you/me relationship that allows you and me to align into us. It allows me to serve you and you to serve me. We all win.

Are there other aspects of you/me mentality? I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can comment below.

The Perennial Philosophy—A Golden Thread of Awakening

May 25
2011

By Guest Bloggers, Lee and Steven Hager

http://www.thebeginningoffearlessness.com/blog

In our world, nothing stays the same for very long. We’re taught to rely on the advice of experts, but their opinions seem to change with the breeze. If you knew that something had remained unchanged for over two thousand years and had continued to help people find the peace and joy they were seeking for that entire time, would you be curious?

The perennial philosophy is a golden thread of spiritual thought that can be found in virtually all cultures and time periods. It’s a group of harmonious spiritual concepts that are free of dogma and ritual. It’s been a part of so-called “primitive” and pagan belief systems as well as the mystical branches of nearly every organized religion.

The concept of an “eternal philosophy” that incorporates universal spiritual truths and exists free of human influence has intrigued philosophers for hundreds of years.  In the West, it’s been thought of as a “philosophy of harmony” or a “universal religion” that remains untainted by sectarian views. In the East, it’s been thought of as Sanatana Dharma (eternal law) or Manava Dharma (religion of man). In 1945 Aldous Huxley wrote the aptly titled Perennial Philosophy, which outlines the universal truths that have continued to crop up in spiritual thought worldwide.

The perennial philosophy is not a formula for enlightenment, but its simple concepts have encouraged countless seekers to reach spiritual mastery. Although the perennial philosophy has far more to offer, here are four of its most basic and helpful concepts:

  • There is a Divine Ground that permeates the universe. The world we think we see is a temporary projection that originates from that Divine Ground
  • A change in consciousness is required to become aware of, and experience, the Divine Ground.
  • Everyone has the ability to experience the Divine.
  • Experiencing the Divine is life’s highest purpose.

Simply put: Life-giving intelligence permeates everything in existence. This intelligence wants to be known and can be known.

Most of us have been taught that spiritual mastery is a nearly impossible goal, but the perennial philosophy does not agree. No secrets, methods, formulas or spiritual practices are involved, and none are necessary to experience the Divine.  Knowing the Divine does require a shift in our awareness, but everyone is capable of making that shift. How do we shift our awareness? Huxley pointed out that successful spiritual seekers have all shared a mindset that includes these features:

  • “Pure in heart.”  This does not mean we need to “clean up our act.” It refers to our motives. A pure heart is looking for a connection with the Divine for the sheer joy of that connection.  A pure heart isn’t asking for material blessings.
  • “Poor in spirit.” This has nothing to do with poverty. It means that we understand that the world can make us rich, but it can never enrich us. We’re poor in spirit when we understand that our life will be empty until we have a direct connection with the Divine.
  • “Empty hands.” Seekers with empty hands are willing to let go of all mental conditioning, preconceived notions and the desire for a particular outcome. They are willing to be instructed by the Divine instead of trying to fit the Divine into their own belief system.

These qualities are free and available to everyone, no matter what our circumstances might be. Most of us have been taught that we can learn about God by taking in information, but there is no need for us to be satisfied with that.

Spiritual masters have never been interested in learning “about” the Divine; instead, they expect to “know” the Divine through personal experience. You don’t have to become a spiritual master before you can experience the Divine, in fact, it works the opposite way. As you open yourself to the experience, you grow spiritually. The perennial philosophy tells us this is not only possible, it’s our highest purpose.  Best of all, experiencing the Divine is the beginning of a life of fearlessness that you can enjoy.

Know by your own direct experience that the Divine within you is the Divine in all—Shankara ______________________________________________________________________________

Lee and Steven Hager are the authors of The Beginning of Fearlessness: Quantum Prodigal Son, a spiritual quest and scientific adventure based on Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, quantum physics and the gnostic gospels. Their blog http://www.thebeginningoffearlessness.com/blog features articles on oneness, spiritual awakening, quantum physics, the gnostic gospels and the direct, personal experience of the Divine.

 

Why Forgive?

Apr 20
2011

David Beale, a long time spiritual friend from Perth, Australia, has a brilliant and penetrating mind. Years ago, he offered a wonderful analogy for understanding forgiveness:

The yin-yang, though symbolic, does sum up the harmony that averages to nothing when taken over a wide enough viewpoint. …. A hurricane that goes in both directions may in sequential time do lots of damage yet the net average is No Wind ….

David went on to note that to forgive, we must have a sense of both:

  1. It does not matter because it can and does add up to nothing; and
  2. In this physical life, we have an obligation to change both ourselves and the elements of disorder so that they balance and no longer bother us, “allowing us to enjoy our temporal existence with minimal disruption and maximum joy …. we are individuals growing in a limited environment so as to better enjoy a less limited environment. Forgiveness is part of the less-limited environment. (Emphasis supplied.)

In short, there is no need for forgiveness and yet every need for forgiveness. What in the world do I mean by that paradoxical statement?

In what sense is there no need for forgiveness?

Each of us physical human beings births onto this planet with limited perspectives, limited bodies, physical needs for food, water, and shelter, and emotional needs for love and belonging. Baby Mary cries because she is hungry or cold or has a bubble of air in her belly. Her perspective is limited to her own immediate needs. She doesn’t understand that Mommy may be exhausted from cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, and caring for her brothers and sisters. She knows nothing about the sixteen hours per day that Daddy spends in a coal mine to provide a few dollars to buy rice and beans. Maybe she doesn’t even know she is hungry or cold or needs to burp. She just knows she hurts. She cries because that is all she knows how to do. She has done the best she knows how with the limited resources she has. Mommy is doing the best she knows how. So is Daddy. There is no need to forgive any of them, even though they live in desperate poverty and pain. They are all doing the best they can with the resources they have.

In what sense is there every need for forgiveness?

As Mary matures through youth and adulthood, the pain continues to gnaw at her gut. Now she notices that not everyone is hungry or cold or without shelter. As she becomes aware of her external world, her pain turns to anger. She may resent those who have more food and better shelter. She may blame her parents for their lack of education or the fact that they haven’t always been able to respond to her needs. She may come to hate other children whose parents can afford to buy them nice clothes. Her boyfriend may leave her for another woman, betraying her trust. Her internal pain and external anger may generalize to labeling all men liars and cheats, even though she has had personal experiences with only one or a few. Worst of all, she may hate herself because she feels powerless.

Pain and anger are simply different forms of the same energy. Pain is negative energy directed inward. Anger is negative energy directed outward. It doesn’t really matter where the negative energy is directed. The challenge for each and every one of us is how to release the negative energy and transform it into positive energy, or at least into neutral, detached awareness.

Mary’s adult condition is the human condition that Buddhists call “suffering.” Suffering is not necessary and can be released. At this point in Mary’s life, there is every need to release suffering. There is every need for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of many spiritual tools we’ve been given to transform our pain and anger into deep, personal, inner peace.

Why forgive? Certainly not because the other person deserves it. In their own misery, desperation, and low self-esteem, they may have done horrible, ugly things that felt like knives through our hearts. Perhaps they lied because they were ashamed to tell the truth. Perhaps they murdered. Perhaps they committed adultery or stole our physical possessions. Perhaps they were simply not present in their relationships with us.

Their actions were certainly not functional. We do need to pay attention to how others treat us and conduct themselves in their relationships with us. If we don’t notice what others do and how it makes us feel, we haven’t learned the relationship lessons we were intended to learn.

However, we never change the relationship by changing the other person. We change the relationship by changing ourselves.

Why then forgive? We forgive for ourselves. We forgive because forgiveness releases our own pain and anger, changes our relationship dynamics, and allows us to move forward in freedom and joy.

Holding onto pain, anger, and blame destroys each and every one of us. It makes us sick. It keeps us stuck. Anyone stuck in this negative energy and unable to let it go will eventually kill themselves as well as all the loving relationships that surround them and could support them. Being stuck in negative energy condemns you to a life lived in hell (using Christian words) or a life of suffering (using Buddhist words).

So why do we forgive? We forgive to shift our own energy from hell to heaven (Christian terminology). We forgive to release our own suffering (Buddhist terminology).

First, we forgive ourselves, knowing that we did the best we could with the resources we had. Then, we forgive others, knowing they did the same. Forgiveness does not mean staying in abusive, dysfunctional relationships. If we learn the lessons our pain and anger have taught us, we move out of abusive, dysfunctional relationships and seek out relationships that support us. When the abuser no longer has a victim, the abuse stops.

Word Energy

Feb 07
2011

About three weeks ago, I received an email, through pure synchronicity, from published poet, Luisa Castagnaro. She sent me a link to a series of SoundsTrue audios about Sanskrit mantras, http://www.soundstrue.com/shop/STSearch.do?searchTerm=Thomas+ashley+farrand&searchDomain=author&selectedType=All+Products&searchPage=0&selectedComponentGroup=All&selectedItem=bestsellers

Knowing that I was working on another book about word energy, my foreign rights agent had previously mentioned Sanskrit as a language I should explore. Western language uses symbolism and meaning. Sanskrit uses the pure vibration of the sound.

I ordered the audios and began listening. There was a mantra for bringing abundance into your life. Phonetically, it sounds like “Om schreem kleem Lakshmi ay Namaha.” Most of it is toned on a single note, with the “ay” one note higher and the “ma” in Namaha one note lower.

This longer mantra is composed of seed mantras. “Schreem” is the principle of abundance. “Kleem” is the principle of attraction. “Lakshmi” (pronounced “lockschmee”) is the Goddess of abundance, a beautiful woman with money flowing from her hands. “Namaha” means to salute.

According to Sanskrit philosophy, you can attract abundance into your life simply by saying, over and over, the simple seed mantra “schreem.” The longer mantra is supposed to be more powerful. I decided to play with the longer mantra and see what happened.

Two weeks ago, as I was driving to the Tampa airport, I repeated the mantra over and over. Then I forgot about it.

When I arrived in Panama, there was a penny lying on the ground beneath my feet. Mmmmmmmm. I picked it up. Three days later, in Boquete, my travel agent, out of the blue, gave me a free $3 phone card. Mmmmmmmmm. Then, my agent at the bank gave me two free 2011 calendars. Mmmmmmmmm. As so often happens in Panama, I fully expected the taxi driver who took me back to Boquete to notice I was an American and triple his fee. He didn’t. Mmmmmmmmmmm. That happened a second time. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Greetings, meetings, lunches, and dinners kept flowing in. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I’ve been wanting to facilitate healing workshops and have always wanted to go on a cruise. Suddenly, over the past two weeks, I’ve been offered opportunities by PacificOrient Caribbean Cruises out of Australia and WhaleWatchingPanama around Coiba and Contadora Islands off the southern coast of Panama. Mmmmmmmm.

The kicker happened shortly before I arrived home. I’d been getting about ten hits a day on my website. Suddenly, the hits jumped to over 100. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Is there something going on here that I don’t understand but that somehow seems to work? Or is it just that as I focus on abundance, I become more aware of the abundance all around me flowing into my life? I don’t know the answer, but I think I’ll continue chanting the mantra.

Warm regards,

Janet

Thought Energy, Intentions, and Synchronicities

Dec 10
2010

“Drive safely,” my son Bill said as I was getting ready to leave our family get-together in Saint Marys, Georgia. He was the third family member who had said that to me.

I replied with a bit of irritation, “I am a safe driver.” Then, noticing my own abruptness and recognizing that Bill’s intentions were good, I added, “But I appreciate your thought. There are an awful lot of people on the road who don’t pay attention to their driving. Please hold the thought that the people who aren’t careful drivers stay out of my path.”

About 20 minutes out of Saint Marys, an unexpected question suddenly popped into my mind. Had I remembered to pack the power cord for my computer or had I left it plugged in at the motel? At first, I wasn’t going to stop, but then I figured it was better to check than to arrive home after a five-hour drive, only to discover I didn’t have it.

I pulled over to the side of the road, popped the trunk, got out and unzipped my suitcase and computer case. Sure enough, the cord was right where it should have been. Two minutes later, I was back on the road.

The drive was uneventful until I got to I-75 just below Ocala. Suddenly, all traffic in all three lanes came to a dead halt. Nothing moved for almost two hours.

I couldn’t see a thing. One motorist who had gotten out of his car reported that helicopters were dropping down to the roadway ahead of us. Another said that there had been a three-vehicle crash, and lifelines were pulling people from demolished vehicles.

When traffic finally began moving again, about two miles down the road I passed what was left of the wreck: one totally trashed vehicle, a pickup truck, a camper, and belongings strewn all over the side of the road. At the next rest stop, a woman said that according to OnStar, someone had been killed.

Two minutes. Two miles. Except for my stop to check for my computer cord, I could well have been in that accident with one of those less than careful drivers.

Did this chain of events have anything to do with my parting conversation with Bill?  Where did the thought about my computer cord come from and why did I unexpectedly stop for two minutes along the way?  Are our thoughts and intentions simply instantaneous energy exchanges that manifest desired results in unexpected ways?

I don’t ever expect to know the answer to those questions, but this strange series of apparently unrelated thoughts and events surely produced a strange synchronicity that may have saved my life.