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    The "Course"

    Friday, September 19, 2008, 1:34 AM [General]

    It should come as no surprise that the first section I visit in Border's is the Metaphysical Studies area. As soon as I walk through the door, I make a bee-line to the back of the store to begin thumbing through all the newest releases. Typically, if a book piques my interest I'll purchase it on the spot. I need to work on the whole "instant gratification" thing, I know.  However, there's always one book I pick up and put down nearly every trip to my beloved bookseller.

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    For years, I've heard how "A Course In Miracles" has changed people's lives for the better. Nearly all of my favorite authors quote the "Course" in some fashion and I’ve never heard of a course concept that I disagreed with.  I was fascinated with the story of text’s origination. Yet, I was always intimidated by the sheer size of the book. I’d like to think myself an avid reader, but honestly….  The text is like an inch and a half thick with bible-thin pages. Good grief, who has that kind of time?

    The point of my post is, I finally picked up the book and didn’t put it back on the shelf. After years of toying with the idea of starting a routine study, I’ve decided to jump in and see what happens. The fiery Aries in me wants to devour this book in a week and then spout off “wisdom” to anyone within earshot. So, it’s been a bit of a challenge reining in my ego and really taking my time with the materials. It’s been a couple of weeks now and I’ve only reached page 17.

    Almost immediately I noticed how rich the language is, despite being scribed in very plain text. There’s a certain cadence to each sentence which causes me to read the book using a very distinct inner-voice. That is to say, I can hear the author speaking each line to me and he doesn’t sound like anyone else I’ve ever read. Some of the lines are quite beautiful, almost poetic. As you can see, I’ve really tried to absorb every word of the first chapter so as to build a foundation for the concepts that will be introduced later in the book. Just listening to folks talk about ACIM’s teachings can make your head spin. It can be a bit heady at times. But I’m no longer scared to take on the challenge. I feel studying the course is the next logical step in my spiritual development and I’ve begun to get comfortable with the idea that this will be a life-long practice.

    Also, I’ve found the greatest ACIM study group out in Scottsdale, AZ. They’re all such amazing people. Even though the meetings are held once weekly, they email each other almost daily. I get the privilege of being copied on these email messages and they contain vast amounts of wisdom written in the most practical terms. I’ve only met with the group twice, but through them, I’ve gained a better understanding of concepts appearing later in the text. The weekly discussions are frank but loving, honest but irreverent. Coming from a corporate background, it’s so bizarre for me to find myself in the middle of a meeting where people are sharing the best and worst parts of themselves, in equal measure. It’s like radical honesty… and it’s all done with such love. Honestly, I can’t find the words to express the feeling I get during these meetings. It’s magical…

    So today’s lesson for me (#7 in the workbook, if you were wondering) was:

    “I see only the past”

    Excerpt – “ Look at a cup, for example. Do you see a cup, or are you merely reviewing your past experiences of picking up a cup, being thirsty, drinking from a cup, feeling the rim of a cup against your lips, having breakfast and so on? Are not your aesthetic reactions to the cup, too, based on past experiences. How else would you know whether or not this kind of cup will break if you drop it? What do you know about this cup except what you learned in the past?”

    This was the first lesson that I really “got”. The previous six lessons left me kind of cold. But now I see how they’re beginning to build upon each other and today’s lesson was so profound for me.

    Give it a shot sometime. Ask yourself what you know about an object, person or place. Then ask yourself if your knowing is rooted in your past experiences.

    Today I’m so grateful for the wonderful people I’ve met through the ACIM study group. I’m also incredibly grateful for sharing a wonderful dinner with my partner, mother and aunt and  finding a killer parking space at work today.  

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    A.C.T.S. - A New Way to Pray

    Monday, September 1, 2008, 3:12 AM [General]

    During the last couple of weeks I've been hearing a lot about a method of prayer referred to as "A.C.T.S." which forms the acronym for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving & Supplication. For the last couple of days, I've incorporated this method into my prayer practice and I've already noticed a slight difference in the way I've approached issues that have arisen throughout the day.

     

     Lately, when I've encountered any sort of difficulty, the solution to the problem has been presented to me almost immediately. It feels as if my spiritual sight has become clearer since I've begun using the ACTS method.

     

    Admittedly, my prayer practice was never much to speak of. A typical prayer for me would go something like this:

     

    "Thank you, God, for all of your blessings. Look, I really need to get ______________. Please provide ___________ as soon as you see fit. In the meantime, I'll try not to interfere. Halleleezy, praise Jeezy! Thank you and goodnight.”

     

    Okay, that was a bit exaggerated. But most of my prayers (outside of mantra meditations) did simply consist of a quick thank you and a laundry list of items I needed help with. When I started using ACTS, my prayers felt richer and fuller and a feeling of peacefulness followed me throughout the day. So, here’s my take on an ACTS prayer.

     

     

    Adoration (Affirmation)

     

    In the first part of the Acts prayer, I like to state the things I love about God and myself. After all, as individual expressions of God, we’re both one and the same. Your communication with source can be as casual or as formal as you like. I’d like to think God and I have a casual, but respectful relationship. Here’s how I would pray the first portion of ACTS.

     

    “Hello God. What a wonderful day it’s been! I’ve felt your presence all day long and I love you for it. I love the peace I receive when I speak with you and I love that all of my prayers are answered in divine order. Everyday, I’m more and more amazed at your creations. I see you in everyone I meet and most of all, I recognize your divinity within myself. As people, we truly are mirrors of your goodness and grace.”

     

     

    Confession

     

    When I first read about this portion of ACTS, I immediately went back to my time as a Catholic. Which is to say, a cold chill ran immediately through my body.  While I loved my time in the Catholic church, I was never very fond of the whole confession thing. It puzzled me as to why anyone would have to confess to a God who should already know all the sordid details. On top of that, I’m still not that keen on the whole idea of “sins”. 

     

    I had to reflect for a minute on the teachings of the New Thought movement. In “The Revealing Word”, Charles Fillmore defined the term sin as “error or wrong thinking”. I prefer this definition as it replaces the implication of “fire and brimstone”  with a practical mental application. This helped me to come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t necessarily be confessing my sins to a God who was going to punish me. It would be more like reviewing the areas of my day where I could have take a more positive approach. As it turns out, the confession portion has become one of the most healing aspects of the prayer.

     

    “Well God, I don’t have to tell you today was a tough one. There were some moments where my human side really showed out. I snapped at a co-worker today for simply interrupting a conversation. Looking back, I could see the co-worker was being pressed for information and needed an answer right away. I cussed out a woman on the freeway while I was driving home from work. While it’s true the woman cut me off, I could have blessed her and thanked you for helping us to avoid an accident. Speaking of the freeway, I spent a good thirty minutes of my day complaining about the traffic when I could have spent it being grateful for having a car. I’m going to take what I learned today and make some different decisions tomorrow”

     

     

    Thanksgiving

     

    Here’s where you can really let loose with the gratitude. This is the part of the prayer where you can list everything your thankful for on any given day. Gratitude is vital in the process of forgiveness, so it’s only natural that this part of the prayer should follow your “confession”.

     

    “God, I am so thankful that I woke up this morning in my own bed rather than a hospital bed. I’m grateful for the privilege of waking up next to a wonderful partner who supports me in everything I do. I’m thankful for having a job that pays the money I use to pay for my rent, utilities & car. I’m grateful I can take my next breath without the aid of a respirator (breathe deeply). Thank you for surrounded by loving, supporting people. God, I even appreciate all of the people I don’t get along with. For I know their presence in my life is just an opportunity for my soul to grow. Thank you for creating this day and I look forward to what you have in store for me tomorrow.”

     

     

     

    Supplication

     

    Supplication simply means asking for something. That something can be for you or someone else and can be as large or small as you like. The first line in chapter one of A Course in Miracles states, “There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not ‘harder’ or ‘bigger’ than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal.”  Would it be out of line to pray for a jackpot win? According the Course, the size of the request does not matter in God’s world. The real question would be, “would winning the jackpot serve your highest good?”.

     

    During this part of the prayer, I’m very careful not to tell God just how I’d like something to happen. I simply focus on the result and leave the rest up to Spirit.

     

    “God, I ask that the peace of your presence be felt in the lives of ____________ & ____________.  I ask that your love be poured into anybody who’s ever felt lonely, sad, suicidal, hopeless or addicted. Please bless those who don’t have homes, those who are terminally ill, and those who purposely seek to harm others. For I am not my brother’s keeper, I am my brother. Your blessing for another is also a blessing for me. And so it is…”

     

     

    That’s it! Some folks like to keep the prayer short, while others like to take their time and then sit in silence to wait for an answer. I’ve done both, and I prefer remaining silent for 2-3 minutes after the prayer. Guidance is often given in the silence… the space between words. We just have to listen.

     

    Peace and Blessings,

    Dustin

     

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Catching Up, Service, & Gratitude

    Saturday, August 30, 2008, 1:26 AM [General]

    Hey… remember me?  I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, but that’s going to change.  Admittedly, the last seven months have been a bit overwhelming. But overwhelming in a really positive way.  Here are some of the high points:371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99c

     

    ·         Started working on my dream of opening a metaphysical book & gift store

    ·         Attended my first annual “I Can Do It” conference in Las Vegas

    ·         Started attending a study group for “A Course in Miracles”

    ·         Re-discovered the work of Iyanla Vanzant

    ·         Accepted a position on the board of a local professional organization

    ·         Bought my first BRAND NEW car. I’ve only ever purchased used cars in the past.

    ·         Turned 30

     

    So far, 2008 is shaping up to be a productive year. With all that’s been happening, I seemed to have lost focus on one of my favorite activities… volunteering with Special Olympics. Working with the athletes is one of the most rewarding, challenging and inspiring things I’ll probably ever do.  I particularly love working as a timer at the race events. The athletes are so amazingly talented and are in far better physical shape than anybody I know.  Plus, there’s an amazing feeling you get when you’re watching an athlete give his all, despite their last place position. It may take some runners ten minutes to make it around the track and they may come in dead last, but the enthusiasm from the crowd never dies down. In fact, the crowd cheers for the athlete the entire time they’re on the track. The moment they cross the finish line, every single person in the stadium is on their feet going wild.  And for that single moment, there’s no difference between 1st and last place, no difference between us and them. That’s the moment that lives in my heart.

    Even though the athletes are greeted with towels and water when the cross the finish line, they’re only interested in talking to the person timing the race to see how well they did. Perhaps this is why I love that position. As a timer, you’re guaranteed the first hug from an athlete who’s absolutely overflowing with pride. They’re so excited about their performance and grateful for all the support from the crowd. The athletes have taught me a lot about genuine gratitude. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve volunteered for Special Olympics and I’ve missed it terribly.  Having said that, I’ve re-registered to be a volunteer and will be helping out with this year’s Fall games.

    I didn’t really expect this post to focus on Special Olympics so much. I guess it was just on my mind.  As the days go on, I’ll be writing more about some of the other experiences I’ve had this year. I’m also going to end each post by listing one thing I’m grateful for.

    Today, I’m grateful for the privilege of having a roof to sleep under every night. With all of the nasty weather we’ve been experiencing around the country, I can’t help but think about homeless men, women & children who may not have a safe place to sleep during a thunderstorm.

     

    Peace & Blessings

    Dustin


    0 (0 Ratings)

    A Letter to an 18 Year Old

    Sunday, January 27, 2008, 1:03 AM [General]

     

    Dear Dustin

    So, you’re out on your own and you just turned 18. So far, you’re the only 18 year old you know with an apartment of his own. I mention this because you need to be very cautious about who you allow to move in with you. In fact, I think it would be best if you didn’t take any roommates at all. I realize everyone has to make mistakes in order to learn some lessons. However, I’m confident you will learn the very same lessons in the years to come. I repeat… there really is no reason for you to take in a roommate. This rule should apply to strangers and friends alike

    Speaking of friends, you may even want to re-examine your current friendships. Are they still authentic? Are your friends now spending more and more time with people whom you consider “toxic”? I won’t say anymore as I’d hate to ruin the surprise for you. You’re a smart kid. I trust you will take the advice from your future-self to heart and really examine what’s happening around you.

    Speaking of examination, you’re about to face a bit of a spiritual crisis. Until now, all you’ve ever known is Christian doctrine. In all honesty, your grasp of Christianity is weak at best. Despite that, you've relied heavily on the stories you've been taught. I would advise you talk with others in your community to get their perspective on the faith. Soon, you’re going to meet an especially helpful person whom people refer to as “mama” (don’t ask) who will really help you to reconcile your lifestyle with your notion of Christian scripture. Once you’re at peace with the religion of your upbringing, it may be time to start exploring other faiths.

    Remember your infatuation with Islam during high school? Take the passion you felt for their culture and use it to embrace people of all cultures. By first embracing the people, you will slowly begin to embrace their faiths. I implore you, study those faiths. The vast amount of knowledge available to you is astounding. Soon you will learn there is more than one path up the mountain. And that, my friend, is the most important advice I can give you. Don’t worry if some of the philosophy is over your head at the moment. In time, it will come. This is to be a life-long project for you.

     

    At first, you will feel like the wisest teenager you know. You’ll dole out half-assed advice to anyone and everyone who will listen. And that’s okay. In your mid-twenties, you will realize that you know nothing and will openly admit to all of the things you don’t know. This will be a turning point in your life and an important sign of maturity. With any luck, you will have retained all of the knowledge you gained in your teens and will now be able to apply it to your life in a more practical way along with your new “non-awareness”. You will learn that the sage is always silent. The sage is always looking within himself for areas to improve. Don’t let your ego get the best of you.

    Like I said, you’re a smart kid. Surround yourself with like-minded people and you’ll be alright.

    Dustin

    P.S. Don’t hesitate to do wild things with your hair. Grow it out, dye it, shave it, whatever… It’s not going to be around for much longer, so you should really enjoy it while you can.

     

    P.S.S. Pay your bills on time, get yourself enrolled in college and try to cut back on the smoking. Aww... who am I kidding? Go have fun!

    See you in 11 years!


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    Kiva.org - A New Way to Help

    Sunday, December 30, 2007, 2:57 PM [General]

    Well, I finally did it. I signed up to be a lender for Kiva.org this morning. If you haven’t heard, Kiva is an amazing organization which allows individuals to connect with the working poor in underdeveloped countries and offer them financial assistance in the form of a loan.  This idea of “microfinance” has really taken off within the last year. In particular, Kiva’s website has received coverage on Frontline, Oprah, and in Bill Clinton’s book entitled “Giving”.

     

    Here’s the deal…  smaller regional microfinance organizations act as field partners within their own underdeveloped country. They review  the business plans of potential candidates for a loan and pass the qualifying entrepreneurs on to Kiva’s website.  On the website, they will post the person’s picture, summarized biography, and a brief description of the person’s business idea.  I’ve found people in Nepal who are wanting to setup a fruit stand in the center of town. I’ve seen a woman in the Ukraine who sells used shoes to locals and is looking to expand her inventory.  I’m amazed at the sheer scope of the  ideas generated by people who are just looking for enough income to support their families. 

     

    The first loan I made was to a woman in Pakistan by the name of Parween. Her husband had just left the army and had taken out a loan from a local lender to purchase a rickshaw. He plans on operating the rickshaw in town to help generate income for wife and three children. If you know anything about these local lenders, you know they will charge interest rates of up to 300%.  Luckily, Parween selected a  Kiva field partner who is not charging her an interest rate for a loan of this size. This will allow her to pay off her husband’s rickshaw loan and start seeing profits from his business. Down the road, she would like to take some of the rickshaw profits and open up a small market in town with her son.  The total amount she was asking for was only $175. Amazing!

     

    The field partner will stay in touch with Parween and provide updates to us, the lenders, every few weeks. The loan term is 12 months, so I don’t expect to see the money back anytime soon. If you’re wondering, the lenders do not collect any interest on these loans. You simply get your money back and you can either withdraw it or re-invest in another family’s business.  The average interest rate charged by Kiva partners is only about 22%. This may sound like a lot, but when you’re facing local interest rates of up to 300%, it kind of puts things into perspective. The interest collected goes directly to the field partner to continue doing the marvelous work they do in their respective countries.

     

    Another great thing about the website is that you can loan as little as $25.00 to these individuals. In fact, most individuals are only looking for loans for a couple of hundred dollars. Multiple lenders contribute any amount they wish to fulfill the person’s loan request. It seems there are two other people besides me who have funded Parween’s loan, and we all have the option to interact with each other if we prefer. This site just seems to bring people together.  I know it sounds like I’m pitching for Kiva, but I’m not. I’m just excited about this new opportunity to help. I love working with charities like Project H.O.P.E. , but this opportunity feels like a different kind of high. With Kiva, you’re not just giving, you’re potentially helping someone to create a new life for themselves.  

     

    I’ll post as I receive updates from Parween. This is totally an experiment for me. I’m not  sure I’ll get the money back, but that’s alright. If I don’t get paid back, then I’ll just consider it a donation and find someone else to invest in.  Fortunately, Kiva has only had about fourteen people who have defaulted on their loans.  Not having a high FICO score myself, I know how easy it is to default on a loan and I’m absolutely amazed that only fourteen people from underdeveloped countries have done the same.  For me, the benefits of lending far outweigh the risk of potential loss. 

     

    I’m currently looking for one more person to help with a loan, but miraculously it’s hard to find anybody. This site has become so popular, there are more lenders than actual qualified applicants. Last night, I watched the site as several new people’s profiles were posted to the website.  I kid you not, I would refresh my browser and see that they had ready received 60% of the requested loan. I would refresh again and see they had received 100% funding. Literally, these people would receive funding for their loans in minutes. That fact alone helps to restore my faith in humanity just a little more.  I’ve never seen so many people willing to help all at once. This morning, I tried to fund several people, but I just wasn’t quick enough, if you can believe that.  As of 12:50, everyone on the site has been fully funded, but that could change in a matter of minutes. Field partners are constantly sending profiles of approved applicants to Kiva and they are updating the site every few minutes.  The people at Kiva and the field partners are doing some amazing work and it makes me proud to be a very small part of that.

     

    Peace & Blessings

    -Dustin-

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Caught In A Moment...

    Sunday, December 30, 2007, 4:39 AM [General]

    Have you ever met someone who made you feel as if they were looking right through you?  This past April, I experienced just such a person. It was at the Wayne Dyer seminar held at the Celebrity Theatre here in Phoenix, AZ.  During one of Dr. Dyer’s first set of lectures, he introduced a couple of special people sitting in the audience with us. It seems he had met the ex-wife and son of none other than legendary author/anthropologist , Carlos Castaneda.  Mrs. Castaneda and her son quickly stood up, but I could only see them from the back. When Wayne flew into Phoenix the previous night, he was blessed with the opportunity to dine with the Castanedas at the home of Carlos’s ex-wife, Margaret. 

     

    During the intermission, I was standing downstairs in the lounge waiting for our first meet and greet with Dr. Dyer (see post entitled “My Hero”). While I was milling about, I noticed a man sitting at a table approximately 20 feet from where I was standing. Despite the volume of people walking around the lounge, I seemed to have caught this man’s attention. You know that awkward moment when you realize a stranger is staring at you? Most times, your eyes will meet and the stranger will realize what they’re doing and look away shyly. Well, this moment didn’t quite go down like that.

     

    When I became aware of his gaze, I looked him in the eye expecting him to do the usual “look away”.  Much to my surprise, his eyes met mine and I got the distinct feeling he was reading me.  I immediately sensed his stare wasn’t of the intimidating variety. Rather, the expression on this man’s face was akin to that of a doctor scrutinizing an x-ray slide.  I felt a flood of emotions start to surface as this man continued to look right through to what felt like my very soul. Chief among them was embarrassment, for it felt as if he was asking my body to tell all if it’s secrets.  A request with which my body readily complied, much to my ego's objection.

     

    The awkwardness quickly passed as I’d felt he’d received the answers to his questions. I distinctly remember hearing a subtle voice saying “I understand you”.  Seemingly this was coming from the man, which if you haven’t guessed by now, was Castaneda’s son.  In that moment, I’d felt that it was entirely possible for this man to be communicating with me. Mentally, I responded “But I don’t understand you”. Not more than a second later, I heard the voice again saying, “That’s okay, you’re not going to”.

     

    What on earth was happening here? Just moments ago, I was shuffling around the lounge checking out the rock ‘n roll paraphernalia on the walls, and now I’m trapped in one of the weirdest moments of my young life. Just then, an older woman walked up to his table escorted by what appeared to be the man’s wife. Of course! The older woman was Margaret and this man was Carlos’s son. Was the gift passed on to the son of the “nagual”?  It would seem so.  Once the two women approached his table, the man broke his stare and my body felt a huge release. I honestly have no idea how long this moment lasted, it was probably only fifteen seconds. However short the moment was in reality, in the “nonordinary reality” it was just long enough to leave an indelible impression on my soul.  This experience was one I would not soon forget.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Tori Amos

    Thursday, December 27, 2007, 12:59 AM [General]

    When I think of Tori Amos, a million things come to mind. My brain begins to whirl with references to Jung, the Magdalene, Joseph Campbell and Robert Plant. It’s virtually impossible to offer a comprehensive description of Tori’s work, even for the most hardcore followers (or Toriphiles). Rather than provide a yawn-inducing bio, I’d like to spend a moment describing what makes this woman such an inspiration to me.

     

    It was the winter of 1994 and I was well into my sophomore year of high school. I remember turning on MTV and catching the tail end of Kurt Loder’s report on the upcoming album by a rising alt-star with hair the color of fire and talent the size of I-don't-know-what.The album “Under the Pink” was Tori’s third record and her most provocative to date. The report featured a clip of Tori’s video entitled “God” whereupon she proceeded to dance with snakes, shave her legs from a bucket, lie down with rats, and cast spells over a glowing candle. All the while, repeating a chorus of “God, sometimes you just don’t come through. Do you need a woman to look after you?”.Whoa!

     

    Now, I had heard of Tori Amos before due to her acclaimed cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and because the girl I was dating at the time was absolutely crazy about Tori’s second effort, “Little Earthquakes”. It wasn’t until I saw the video for “God” , that I actually began to take notice of this woman’s work. All at once, I was shocked and titillated and scared and inspired. The mix of feelings I was experiencing would be akin to peeling back wallpaper, only to discover a priceless fresco hiding beneath and then pressing the paper back into place with a suspicious glance around the room. How could I keep this revelation a secret? How could a girl and her piano get away with this lyrical blasphemy spread over that fantastic tribal beat and those killer guitars? Is she actually challenging God? I had to buy the album to get the rest of the story.

     

    Turns out, she was challenging all of us and our perceptions of the “one true God”.With this song, Tori was placing the patriarchy in mainstream Christianity on notice. She had the Christian church in her cross-hairs and she wasn’t leaving until she said her piece.Interestingly, Tori is the daughter of a Methodist minister. Ah, preacher’s kid, that explains it all.Well, not really…

     

    Tori’s work isn’t just about rebellion against the religion of her upbringing. She’s an extremely spiritual woman who’s found a way to incorporate both the sacred and the profane seamlessly into her work. She is part Eastern Cherokee, which plays heavily into her lyrics and core set of values. Additionally, Tori has a deep respect for both myth and archetype. She’s not afraid to admit her songs are channeled through her from a different plane of existence. She views each of her songs as children, all with individual personalities. I could go on for three more paragraphs on how the songs come to her as “sonic shapes” and how she interprets them for use in this world.Alas, I’ll save that for the fan forums.

     

    An avid bookworm, Tori has studied the works of Carl Jung, James Hollis, Joseph Campbell, Elaine Pagels, and many more. Tori always seems to infuse her lyrics with the ideas presented by these authors and with references to any number of world religions. Greek mythological figures tend to crop up in her songs quite frequently. Perhaps the sheer number and scope of Greek deities are enough to encompass the various archetypal behaviors she chooses to explore in her music. Of course, she doesn’t limit herself to the mythology of Greece. For example, In her song “Caught A Lite Sneeze”, Tori intones the name of Sumerian goddess Inanna throughout the length of the chorus. Other tracks like “Apollo’s Frock” reference the Shekhina, the feminine aspect of God in Judaism.Tori has the ability to call upon whatever God or Goddess she requires for any given song or performance. That is perhaps one of the most valuable lessons I’ve gleaned from her work.Now, I find myself calling on multiple deities for assistance when I find myself in situations that require a particular type of energy.

     

    Tori’s lyrics aren’t easily digested upon their first serving. Personally, it takes me a number of months before I discover the seemingly hidden meaning in one of her songs.Additionally, I don’t always connect tosome of Tori’s albums right away. For example, I purchased “Scarlet’s Walk” the day it came out in 2002. I listened to the album for two months straight, but I just couldn’t find the entrance. Do you know what I mean?I couldn’t immerse myself in the message of the album, as it seemed too inaccessible. It wasn’t until 2006 that I finally got it. The album had finally revealed itself to me and I was ready to hear everything she had to say. It was an amazing experience which was repeated just this year with Tori’s 2005 album “The Beekeeper”.Tori’s lyrics are just so multi-layered, I sometimes find them hard to penetrate upon my first listen. In that respect, I can see how Tori would regard her songs as individual people. Some people you have a connection with right away. You feel you completely “get” them. Other people will make you wait until they’re ready to let you in. For a Toriphile, I can tell you there is no feeling greater than finally being able to step inside a song and see it from the inside out.Heaven!

     

    The rich texture of Tori’s lyrics and the many arcane references she makes are somewhat responsible for my beginning to research religions outside of my traditional Judeo-Christian upbringing. I guess you could say, Tori helped me to “unzip my religion”.Fourteen years later, I’m not ashamed to admit Ms. Amos has turned me on to everything from the Gnostic Gospels to ancient bee shamans … the sacred feminine to the Native American corn-mother. I owe much of my spiritual growth to this woman, who first scandalized me with her alternative take on God and the church.She gave me the tools I needed to begin a lifetime of study and ultimately brought be another step closer to my true nature.

     

    - nothing gonna stop me from floating -

     

    Pax

    Dustin

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Thank you, Everyone!

    Monday, December 10, 2007, 1:51 AM [General]

    I wanted to drop a note to thank all of you who've donated to Project H.O.P.E. through my donation badge on my homepage. It really means a lot to me. I'm proud to raise money for such a noble cause and thanks to the generosity of all the Beliefnet members, I stand a wonderful chance of winning B-Net's holiday giving contest.

    If you haven't heard, the contest is open to all members of Beliefnet who have created donation badges for their profile pages. You simply drop a line in the Beliefnet forum (forums> interests & Topics> Charity & Service> Holiday Giving Contest) and you're entered. At the end of the month, Beliefnet will donate $1,000 to the selected charity of the member who raises the most money.  I would be so honored to raise that kind of money for Project H.O.P.E. and I know I could never come up with that large of a donation on my own. So far, it appears I've taken a early lead and it's all thanks to you!

    Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find out who's donated through my profile page. Otherwise, I would thank each individual personally. Since the donations stay anonymous, I'll just have to gush with gratitude in my journal and trust they will feel all the thanks I wish to give them.

    I would also like to offer my sincerest thanks to Beliefnet for providing this incentive for us to help others. It certainly kicked me into gear. 

    I just can't say it enough... thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Seasons Greetings!

    - Dustin - 

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    Fear and Peace

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007, 12:55 AM [General]

    Today, while attempting to counsel my nervous mother before her surgery, I was reminded of something I'd long since forgotten. 

     

    You see my mother is extremely nervous about going under the knife tomorrow. In fact, she's already told me several times she believes she is going to die on the table. Mind you, she's having a completely routine operation in an outpatient facility. In my attempt to try and calm her nerves, I related a story in which I was relagated to a waiting room while my partner was put under general anesthesia for the very first time.

     

    I was a nervous wreck the day of the surgery. In the waiting room I was sweating, experiencing light chest pains, and grinding my teeth until I tasted blood. I was so worked up about this procedure, you'd have thought I was the patient about to be put under. During the crescendo of my mini anxiety attack, I decided to force myself to quiet down and enter into prayer and meditation. Within just a minute of silencing myself, I was reminded of a quote from "A Course in Miracles" that brought me more peace and comfort than I had previously known.

     

    "If you only knew who walks beside you, on this path YOU have chosen, fear would be impossible."

     

     I'll never forget the instant feeling of peace that came over me. In that moment, I experienced a minor revelation. You see, I've always held the belief that everyone chooses a path in life before they are  born. Since we're all here to learn a lesson, I realized I had a lesson to learn about the fear I was experiencing.  I had to stop and ask myself  how often fear and anxiety had played a role in my life? Perhaps these types of anxieties kept recurring because I'd never taken the opportunity to face them head on. 

     

    Right there in the waiting room, I was provided with a wonderful opportunity to take my anxieties and examine them. I became curious about that which I had feared and found I developed somewhat of an interest. Once I had become interested in anesthesia and how it works with our bodies, I realized the fear had completely lost it's grip on me.

     

    It was a lot of information for me to process in a very short time. I took a deep breath and no sooner than I'd exhaled, the nurse had come out to let me know he was awake and ready to be taken home.

     

     While I've never officially studied ACIM, I have a sneaking suspicion I'll find the course manual in my stocking this year. Even if I have to put it there myself!  As for Mom, she's still a ball of nerves. All I can do now is pray and send her positive vibes.  

     

     

     

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    Jesus and me...

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007, 12:19 AM [General]

    "What are your ideas of Jesus?" Someone recently posed this question in a discussion forum and it really made me go back and review the longest running relationship I've ever had with another man. My answer went a little something like this...


    My ideas of Jesus have changed considerably over the years. Having been brought up in a Pentecostal household,  Jesus was introduced to me as the one and only true son of God.  This notion of the savior was not to be questioned and doubters would be dealt with accordingly in the afterlife.  As you can imagine, a bit of fear was instilled with every religious message I received.  As a child I would sing  songs like “Jesus Loves Me” not because I necessarily believed their messages, but because I was afraid of what would happen if I didn’t.  I spent many nights in my bed petrified the rapture would come and Jesus would take my family away from me.  I can vividly remember crying myself to sleep while praying, nay, begging  Jesus to postpone his return until I’d had the chance to live out the rest of my life. Can you imagine?


    In my teens, my religious horizon expanded and I found people who regarded Jesus as their closest friend. A person who knows them inside and out and loves them unconditionally. It occurred that I was so busy falling at the feet of the savior during my childhood, I never took the time to stand up and look him in the face.  For if I had, I would have seen all of the love and compassion he had to offer . After all, he may have been the son of God, but he was also half human. Surely he would have a better chance of understanding the human dilemma, having spent time down here on earth.  When I prayed to him, I began to appeal to his human side which seemed to make prayer more like an honest conversation and less like relentless adoration.  



    Now that I’m approaching 30, my ideas of Jesus have shifted once again. I began learning about other enlightened masters from various cultures and it seems Jesus may just be one amongst many. People have suggested Jesus was a Kabbalist, which doesn’t surprise me at all. Others have suggested Jesus traveled to India during the period of his life that was unaccounted for in the bible. While I’m not certain, I love the notion that Jesus would have gone to study the traditions of the east. In fact, I have an amazing picture in my bedroom of Jesus in a meditation pose (below). This image brings me so much peace and makes me completely comfortable with him.   


    lord02.jpg



    So today, my idea of Jesus has evolved and he’s now become  a sort of heavenly ambassador to the western world. Following Jesus isn’t the only path up the mountain, but he’ll get you there just the same. Now when I picture him, I see Jesus participating on a panel with other masters discussing how best to help those who’re seeking to find God.  I still call on him frequently and he’s never let me down when I’ve needed him.  I’ve moved from fearing Christ, to respecting him, to loving him, to realizing he’s a part of the very same thing that we’re all a part of… God.  As I get older, I’m sure my ideas of Jesus will continue to shift as I get closer and closer to the truth of my own nature.


    Pax


    Dustin

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