Pearls from Horses

June 9, 2009

2009-06-03 005
My intention for starting this blog and writing my book is to get people thinking “outside the box,” as the saying goes.

I see so many people pining for meaning in their lives and yet surrendering to mediocrity, often because they don’t know where to look for answers.
Continue reading

Will the World End in 2012?

February 4, 2010


I’m sure by now most of you have heard some of the hype about the year 2012: that the Mayan calendar ends there, therefore perhaps the world will end then too. For me, that thought conjures up images of doom and gloom—Armageddon, fire, turmoil and a “you’d-better-have-your-shit-together-by-now- because-if-you-don’t-it’s-too-late” feeling of complete helplessness.

But people have predicted the end of the world for as long as I can remember. In the ‘60s there were cartoons of beatniks carrying signs that read “The end is near.” (Or maybe there really were hippies carrying signs like that, I just didn’t see them because I was too young at the time!)

In 1999, they said we would never get to the year 2000 because computers would freak out and life as we knew it would erupt in utter chaos. Some of my neighbors stock-piled freeze-dried food, bottles of water and gasoline. But the world didn’t end. Perhaps our computers were smarter than we gave them credit for.

Now they’re saying that 2012 will be the end. After all the articles I’ve read and “experts” I’ve heard speak on the matter, I’ve come to my own conclusions.

I choose not to dwell in doom and gloom. I don’t believe God dwells in doom and gloom either. I believe God is hope and light.

I choose that hope and light. Therefore, I don’t think 2012 will be the end. I think it will be a new beginning.

True, we seem to be experiencing many more natural disasters all over the world than in the past. And I don’t know about you, but I sense something different in the air—that our way of looking at things seems to be changing—we are even more hungry for spiritual fulfillment than ever before and a lot of us are no longer satisfied with accepting someone else’s definition of “The Truth” based on blind faith alone.

I think this is great! We cannot grow if we don’t ask questions and discover our own answers. If you’re completely happy with your life, that’s wonderful, but if not, by looking in other directions you may discover what you’re looking for. Or rather, what you’re looking for will find you! But I’ll save that for another post.

j0437185My interpretation of 2012 is that people will become more spiritually aware, more tolerant and loving. It’s already happening, don’t you see? The outpouring of love for those who’ve endured the earthquakes, 9/11, the hurricanes and tsunamis—the coming together of complete strangers to help those in need. And maybe the reason for these disasters is to teach us not to segregate ourselves based on the color of our skin or to fight over whose religion is the truth, but to come together as brothers and sisters. We obviously haven’t been getting the message thus far, so maybe these things are God’s way of forcing us to unite.

The mystical experience I had in 2003 was a tremendous gift bestowed upon me. It showed me that nothing is more powerful than love and that there is no separation between me and God and all the living and non-living things of this world and all worlds. I know this sounds cliché, but it’s all so simple really. This is why I believe that 2012 will be a time of rebirth for our world—a new way of looking at ourselves and realizing our connection to one another, to this earth and to the Divine. I’m not saying there won’t be great upheaval, because sometimes this is what it takes to wake us up. If we’ve reached the bottom of the barrel, there is nowhere to go but UP, right? So if we stick together and continue to believe in the power of love, we will emerge stronger than before and find ourselves in a world of new possibilities for spiritual growth and the attainment of our human need to realize God on a personal basis—whatever that definition means to you.

In each and every moment, we have a choice.

I choose love.

The Best Definition of Heaven and Hell


February 24, 2011

I grew up in an era when the Mass was all in Latin and as a Catholic school student, I had to go to church every morning before class. I remember sitting in pews crammed with children like me, all wearing our coats because it was Wisconsin and cold outside, our bookbags and metal lunch pails taking up what little room there was on the floor in front of us behind the kneelers and on the wooden pews where we were supposed to sit. It was kind of like a contest to see who would pass out first—I bet today it’ll be that third-grader, little Johnny B. in Sister Agatha’s class…

All the while, men in robes at the foot of the altar chanted in Latin and waved incense that made my nose sting and my stomach churn. I didn’t understand it, but that’s the way it was, so I didn’t question it. Then afterward, back in our classroom, our teacher, Sister Bernadette, would tell us about how we were supposed to fear the Lord and if we didn’t spend our whole lives repenting, we would go to hell when we died.

Okay, this is my interpretation. Organized religion satisfies the spiritual needs of a lot of people and I think that’s great. It just didn’t work for me. I saw too much hypocrisy there and too many double standards, like why couldn’t women be priests? And how could a priest counsel people on marriage if he wasn’t allowed to marry?

And how could I ever be really happy since, being born a sinner, I was supposed to spend my whole life pleasing God, who, because I was a sinner, I wasn’t humanly capable of pleasing in the first place? But I was obligated to try anyway. And if God were in a particularly agreeable mood the day I died, He might consider letting me into heaven if I was lucky and if I’d been good. But there were no guarantees. All this did was make me feel small and inadequate.

The more I thought about it, the more I decided that gnashing my teeth and burning in hell didn’t sound like my idea of a good time. On the other hand, cloud-squatting didn’t sound too interesting either. I mean, just how many clouds can one count and how many songs can one learn to play on the harp before one gets bored, even if one has an inclination to these types of activities, which I don’t? Eternity is a long time!

I also don’t think God is vengeful. I don’t think God can be anything but love. And I don’t think God wants to be feared because fear is the opposite of love.

The best definition of heaven and hell that I’ve ever heard, comes from an ancient Zen story. It goes something like this:

“Is there such a thing as heaven and hell?” a student once asked his teacher.

“Oh yes!” replied the teacher.

Surprised at this response, the student asked his teacher to explain.

“And how are you feeling right now, at this moment?” the teacher asked.

The sun was shining, the day was warm, the student had just finished a nice breakfast and was basically in good health.

Confused, the student replied, “Fine, why?”

“That is heaven,” the teacher told him. Then without missing a beat, the teacher promptly picked up his foot and stomped it down as hard as he could upon the student’s bare foot, causing the student to cry out in excruciating pain. “And that, my dear student, is hell,” said the teacher.

Like all Zen stories, this story is open to one’s interpretation. To me, it means that heaven and hell are here and now, not some place we go when we die. It also means that heaven and hell, like all things, are subject to each person’s perception and may mean something different to you than it does to me.

At first glance, my Catholic background would have told me that if there’s no “place” called heaven, and no reward for living a good life, that makes me feel kind of empty and that my life has no meaning. But the more I think about it, the more I see it’s quite the opposite. I believe in reincarnation. I believe in God. I believe in living my life right now, to the best of my ability to be a good person. And I believe that God has given us gifts and when we discover them and implement them, we become a light unto others. These things bring me to God and that, to me, is what it’s all about.