Ocean Grove Retreat – Closing Thoughts

I am back in New York, it is misty outside, our dogs – Mickey and Lucky – have been walked and fed, Lucky has managed to harass the bejeezus out of the cat, Chita, and I am now free to share with you my thoughts and experiences about our retreat.

As you’ve read, our first day was filled with many gifts. The workshops were excellent tools to help us clarify our intentions, to remind us to connect and that we are not alone.  Ending the evening in song was truly the icing on the cake – it gave many of us the opportunity to free voices that have not been thusly exercised in some time, and to remind us the joy of doing so!

On Sunday we had our much loved gift ceremony and, again, it was filled with laughter, tears, surprises, and confirmations of our work.  One participant was given the gift she brought, and then she shared that she wasn’t really ready to part with it. We are One indeed! For the person choosing the gift and being guided to deliver it had no way of knowing on our temporal plane that this was the case!

When we went around to share our individual experience of the retreat, we received the most wonderful surprise.  While many sharings could be perceived as positive, there were those that could be perceived as negative. I am very grateful to those who had the courage to express their Truth at that moment, as uncomfortable and unpleasant as it was to hear. These brave colleagues reminded us that spiritual work is not always neat. It is not always sweetness and light. It is very often messy and very, very painful.

Even as practitioners of Therapy of the Soul and long-time spiritual students, such outpourings of pain and unhappiness can leave us feeling helpless.  For me, it was important to remember that this was Self providing us, each and every individual Perfect Expression of Self, with the opportunity to hold Truth for one another, to practice compassion, to remain non-judgmental, to understand that each of our temporal paths brought us to the retreat.

I am also grateful that what could be characterized as negative experiences were expressed in what was, indeed, a safe place.  Inasmuch as it may not have felt safe at the time because of the claims, issues, old baggage that were brought up for what I perceive as the equivalent of an energetic regurgitation, we were all there to hold the sufferer’s head, so to speak, and offer what we had to offer in the hopes that there was something there that would help the individual Perfect Expressions of Self experience some sort of relief.

It was yet another example of we are all One for it became very clear to me that when one of us suffers, we all suffer, and our belief in the power of suffering is so strong it takes much work by many colleagues to release ourselves from that mirage.

My thanks to Arnie, our teacher and leader, to Bruce, our marvelous chef, and to each and every participant in the retreat, whether physically or spiritually present. This was very special!

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Ocean Grove, Sat night

It’s already after midnight and everyone in the house is turning in after a very full day.

After lunch, Arnie continued with his introduction to Therapy of the Soul – a presentation that reminded all of us who are already practitioners, and explained to those new to the subject, the principles of this practical and useful method.  We always need to review, remember, highlight, again and again that Reality cannot perceived with the senses, and that our human condition is temporary since the Truth is that we are eternal beings.

Then we had a short workshop on the meaning of traditions and rituals, and to show that we are all One.  While we were meditating on Truth, the presence of our fellow therapists of the Soul in spirit was quite palpable! Thank you for your support!

Then: dinner (we ate flan!) and singing!

Ocean Grove, Sat p.m.

This morning we had a workshop on journaling.  We discussed various tools: pen and paper, computer, texting, voice recording.  What came to me is that, like for meditation, the commitment to journaling is important, even if all we do is write down today’s date and our initials.  Just that pause to acknowledge the activity, that we are here, that something – or nothing – happened is enough.

What are your journaling experiences?

Lunch was great – chili, salads, lots of roasted vegetables, delicious desserts! And after lunch, I finally made it to the ocean and put my feet in the water!

Ocean Grove, Sat morning Jan 21, 2012

I am sitting by the window of our lovely lavender room in our beautiful retreat house in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.  The yogis are doing yoga downstairs and I, not being a yoga practitioner, am looking out at the rain that is now falling over the snow we had last night.  The neighbor across the street is shoveling his walkway.

We began our retreat last night with a magnificent banquet deliciously prepared by Bruce.  I told him his food had seduced me right into stupendous overindulgence!  Indulge today…we’ll see about tomorrow! Great food is, probably, one of the reasons I’ve taken physical form this time around…what do you think are some of your reasons for physical form?

There is an atmosphere of peace and excitement in our little group.  It’s wonderful to gather purposefully to contemplate, understand, decipher, define Truth together.  While we’re focused on this project here, we also feel the blessings and intentions of our world-wide community and it is clear that we are all, indeed, One!

We hold you all in the Light, just as you do the same for us!

I think we’re going to eat again…what joy!

Therapy of the Soul Association Meeting- NYC Jan 2012

On Monday, Jan 9, 2012, the Therapy of the Soul Association met in New York City to discuss Chapter 10 of Joel Goldsmith’s The Realization of Oneness.

Chapter 10 is titled “It Shall Not Come Nigh Thee” and in this chapter Goldsmith reminds us repeatedly that we must be vigilant lest we be “seduced” by universally held beliefs in more than one power. In the first few paragraphs of the chapter, Goldsmith tells us that by consciously holding fast to “the principles of one power, impersonalization, and ‘nothingization'” we can break through the hypnotism.

Goldsmith reminds us, again and again, that in order to “become the one who ‘dwells in the secret place of the most High”‘ we cannot just sit around for that to happen, we must live our lives as a “conscious activity,” not just as a haphazard accident.

In the last paragraph of the chapter, Goldsmith says:

“For a long, long time, this is hard work.  This is not an easy path, but eventually something beautiful begins to happen.  You no longer have to think consciously. Thoughts come of their own accord, automatically arising within you, and you really understand what Paul meant when he said, ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ After that there is very little of conscious effort.  It all flows from within.”

Please share your thoughts and experiences!

Remembrance of Self – How do you do it?

Rituals and ceremonies are an important part of our lives.Weddings, baptisms, graduations, initiation ceremonies, family traditions.  Each one of these marks an occasion of significance, an achievement, a commitment.  Most of all, they are a remembrance: a remembrance of what has lead us to this moment, and then the ritual in and of itself becomes a remembrance for the rest of our lives of all the things the ceremony represents.

Rites and rituals in every day life could be characterized as routines, schedules, plans, which still amount to remembrance:  remembering to do the “stuff” in our life/play.

Remembrance of ourselves as the Perfect Expression of Self Unfolding Perfectly is key to the practice of holding Truth, not just for our individual selves and loved ones, but for all of us since we are all One.

What are some of the rites, rituals, customs, ceremonies that you have/use to help you maintain that remembrance?

I am all eyes and ears, dear ones, awaiting your sharings!

Happy Birthday!

Today is my daughter’s birthday.  Like 25 years ago, it is very cold, windy, and sunny here in New York City.  Unlike 25 years ago, I’m much more comfortable in my physical body today!

As every parent knows, holding that newborn child in your arms brings out feelings of overwhelming love, a desire to protect, and many fears: fear of being an inadequate parent, fear of being able to afford school, fear of having the wisdom to guide her, fear of not talking to each other when she’s a teenager!  The list goes on, and on! As those of us who have been blessed with the role of parenthood for a while know, we manage to get through all these aggressive mental suggestions one little bit at a time, sometimes more successfully and gracefully, other times it’s a bit more messy.  As I said to my own mother then, when I was exasperating her for the millionth time in our own parent/child play: “We [my siblings and I] survived your mistakes, I’m sure my child will survive mine.”

And she has.  She is a beautiful, compassionate, kind, loving, intelligent Perfect Expression of Self Unfolding Perfectly Unto Infinity!

For me, this is one of those “marker” days. One of those days when I consciously reflect on the path that I’ve traveled to get here, and many things come up. I’ll just share some.

A couple of days ago, my daughter and I had the pleasure of spending time together with friends, another mother and daughter.  We met when our daughters were in kindergarten and have kept contact over the years. As we sat at the restaurant, enjoying one another’s company, our meal, our conversation, I was struck by what a different set of choices our daughters have made than what was expected of me and my fellow mother at their age. In my head, I heard Orson Welles selling Ernest and Julio Gallo’s wines back in the seventies with the motto:  We will sell no wine before its time.

Yet our beliefs lead us to expect our children to develop a certain way, to a certain level, by a certain time.  Why can we exhibit patience with the maturation of wine but not so much with our children? Or with ourselves, for that matter.  How is it that we understand that fruit ripens in its own time, Source expressing and unfolding perfectly as fruit, following its own inner guidance, but we don’t apply the same understanding to ourselves? We know the consequence of picking fruit before it’s ripe, yet we frequently forget to apply the same degree of patience with our children.

Anyway, the two young women in my story are making choices that are unexpected in our society. I hear the defensiveness in their voices when we ask, “So, what are you doing now?” and the answer is not: I have a great job, I’m studying for my doctorate, I’m on a career track, I have a great apartment/house, I have a significant partner, I’m getting married, I’m starting a family. Instead of saying any of these things, they say, almost apologetically: I’m not sure, I’m still trying to figure it out, I’m trying this to see how it works out, I’m confused, I’m trying to get clarity, I’m hoping all my explorations will come together to represent a meaningful life.

Today, on this birthday, I’m taking a moment to celebrate and inviting you to join me: to celebrate the journey, to celebrate Self unfolding, to celebrate awakening awareness that allows us to witness Self unfolding, to celebrate uncertainty, to celebrate parenthood and childhood in all their forms and ages, to celebrate kindness and compassion, to celebrate the surprises of the unexpected. To celebrate Life.

What would you like to celebrate?  Please share!

Human Agitators AND Spiritual Activists

The end of an old year and the beginning of a new year are a Universal “marker.”  It is, generally, a time of reflection on the past year, a time for looking forward to the coming year, usually with hope and renewed commitment and energy.  While there are many such markers in our lives:  birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and holy days, the upcoming new year celebration is the one that is globally observed by all the cultures on our planet.

I have been going over the major events of the past year:  the Arab Spring; the protests in Puerta del Sol, Madrid and Madison, Wisconsin; the execution of Troy Davis; the Climate Change Summit in South Africa; the Occupy Wall Street movement; the student and workers uprising in Chile; the unprecedented political outcry in Russia; the endless squabbles and power plays in Washington – and these are just the events that caught my attention! The most obvious common thread to me is that of critical mass:  a critical mass of people standing up for themselves, standing in their own power, recognizing (at some level) that the “powers that be” are only “powers” if we recognize them as such. A critical mass of people engaging, understanding that there cannot be winners and losers, for when one person loses, we all lose, and when the common good is expressed correctly, there can be neither winners nor losers for there is no polarity in the common good.

One of the things that’s different about the current movements from other times in history is that this is the first time that such a disruption is taking place on a global level and is rooted in peaceful demonstration.  Every one of these demonstrations began in peaceful resistance.  Every one of these demonstrations recognizes that we are all one, an excellent illustration of Oneness on the physical plane.

The human experience is about the corporeal and physical:  There are things, events, feelings, sensations that we are not able to experience without a physical body.  So each one of us Perfect Expression of Self unfolding enters this plane to experience.  And when we do, we “forget” that what we see around us is the play, the drama and that Reality is where we came from.  In that “forgetting” we get so caught up in the drama, we think it’s real and then we must “do” something about what we see.  We believe we must heal, we believe we must right wrongs, we believe we must “do something!”

The reality, however, is that the only thing we must do is simply be and remember who we are.  I say “simply,” and it is simple.  It is not easy.

Since we chose to enter this plane of existence for the experience, it behooves us to experience on the physical level.  Just think, in our bodies we are able to experience laughter, tears, a wonderful meal, birth, death, hugs, kisses, sex (BIG favorite!), running a marathon, and the list goes on.  Within our contracted consciousness, we believe that these experiences comprise life.  When our individual expression of Consciousness awakens and expands, we realize that there is life and Life, and that Life is what we yearn for.

One way that awakening Consciousness is perceived on the human level is the pursuit of justice, the awareness of social responsibility, the understanding that what we see as differences – i.e. gender, skin color, nationality, sexual orientation – are just “cosmetic”.  As we remember Self more constantly, we begin to see these “differences” for the nothings that they, in fact, are.

While we are practicing remembrance, however, we must still navigate the currents of our human understanding, and so we feel compelled to “do something.”  So we become activists: political activists, social activists, advocates for all kinds of causes.  And while activism is a wonderful thing, we need to understand that this type of activity is only treating symptoms of a perceived malaise.  The cause of the “ailment” is our inclination to forget our true nature and Life:  We are each and every one of us the Perfect Expression of Self Unfolding Perfectly Unto Infinity and when we remember that, we can see that Harmony prevails.

In Chapter 10 of his “Realization of Oneness,” Goldsmith tells us:

“Nothing happens outside the activity of mind–not a thing…If it is the activity of the mind of God, you cannot change it, you cannot alter it, you cannot improve it, and it would be quite futile to attempt to do so…But on the other hand, anything that exists as an activity of the carnal mind can be nullified in proportion to the degree of your awareness of these [spiritual] principles.”

What we perceive in our surroundings as injustices, as injuries, or even as triumphs, are activities of the carnal mind.  It is the manifestation of the Universal hypnotism that a power other than the One exists.

Goldsmith further cautions us against becoming a blotting paper.  He says:

“On every side, you are witnessing sin, disease, death, lack, limitation, unemployment, disfigurement, alcoholism, drug addiction, poverty.  All these things confront you on the streets, in the press, and on the radio, and you cannot afford to be a blotting paper.”

Goldsmith instructs us to be “consciously alert” and remember that these are just images, pictures, nothings attempting to appear as somethings.

So while we progress on our journey of Awakening Consciousness, on our journey of Remembrance of our True Self, instead of being blotters, let’s start by being human agitators – Go into Science gently, Mrs. Eddy encourages us.  Gently, we transition on the temporal level from believing we are powerless to understanding that we can take action.

At first, while we are still practicing to remember Truth, we become the social, political, economic, scientific activists.  This is the equivalent of treating the symptoms of an ailment.  We can see this play out in the temporal play:  something bothers us, we make it go away temporarily so we believe we’ve solved the problem and we forget about it until the next time it makes itself felt.  We may continue to treat the symptoms until it gets so annoying that we are impelled to seek the cause of the annoyance and to find a way to treat that.

As Therapy of the Soul practitioners we know the cause of the annoyance:  the belief in two powers.  As Therapy of the Soul practitioners, we also know the “cure”:  remembering that God and I are One.

So let us be human agitators shaking our Consciousness awake AND Spiritual Activists, for it is in the activity of Mind, in the conscious remembrance of Truth, that Harmony reigns.

More of us around the globe are becoming human agitators as evidenced by the massive protests around the globe, and with all that agitating something greater is happening:  all that “shaking” is waking something up.  From where I stand, that something is Consciousness and it becomes clearer and clearer to me that we are all, indeed, One.