Gratitude Creates Actualization

Virtue is its own reward.Cicero

The social emotion of being grateful for what one is deeply implanted in human history. Expressing gratitude is also a survival mechanism. Experiencing gratitude changes the part of the brain responsible for personality expression and social behavior. People who do not use a monetary scale to measure self-worth are more grateful for the lives they have and do not ungraciously strive for what they do not have. Being grateful releases toxic emotions that would otherwise fester and debase everyday life. Having a fat bank account does not equate with having a bountiful life.

Sadly, too many people become enamored by the “fabulous” lifestyles they see in movies and on TV. Along with that, chasing after notoriety through social media has altered values and perceptions of self-esteem. Our hi-tech world with high disconnect from reality. Seeking validation while wearing a mask can only lead to deeper despair. Gracefully appreciating one’s actual life leads towards increased self-awareness and over time to self-actualization. Self-reflection and empathy creates a positive aspect towards life. This beneficial energy amplifies the soul and increases creativity.

Creativity unwraps the soul even further. This is not necessarily just the type of creativity people think of such as in the fine arts, but also creativity in living. Being expressive and spontaneous leads to increased actualization through self expression. Being “young at heart” allows a person to live more naturally according to their personal nature. In this way, a self-actualized person can more smoothly work through problems encountered.

Creativity springs from the depths of the soul and peak (or flow) experiences. Another aspect of creativity comes from hard work. Applying knowledge, and judgment to spontaneous works brings about a wholeness of spirit. The brilliant energy of self-actualized creativity illuminates the lives of others as well. Fulfilled people live graciously for others and not just for themselves.

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Elegy for My Father

Now gone, far across the sea

The old sailor’s final song has been sung

Never again will we see his steely blue eyes

Or hear his hearty laugh

The sand has run out and

Fate’s absolution delivered

Departed from this life

Passed beyond life’s grievous boundary

He’s stepped through heaven’s golden curtain

My loving mother’s gentle hand

Has welcomed him to his last reward

The young hero sailed across distant seas

Braved the fires and smoke of war

Stared down death a dozen times

Returned well seasoned and bold

Full throttle to victory atop his two wheeled horse

Before love tamed his wild heart

The master mechanic of the factory floor

And master of the house he built

He wove tales of mighty deeds

And was respected by all who knew him

He fearlessly guarded his corner of the world

There will never be another like him

This morning as I stood by the ocean in meditation

An eagle soared overhead calling for its mate

Although the world is reduced by his passage

We were all blessed by his longevity

I will not grieve for my loss

Instead celebrate his story

Writ across over nine decades

Find solace in time’s steady rolling tides

Hear his voice across the surging waters

Honor his welcome into the celestial pantheon

Know his noble soul has been granted eternal peace

Cosmically Connected

Cosmos is a Greek word for the order of the universe. It is, in a way, the opposite of Chaos. It implies the deep interconnectedness of all things. It conveys awe for the intricate and subtle way in which the universe is put together. Carl Sagan

When you look up at the stars, do you see vast, dark empty space? Imagine instead that throughout the Universe space is brimming with energy. We are standing on a concentration of that universal energy, and are connected to the All and Everything, and one another. The fabric of reality depends on how it is observed. As Shakespeare wisely wrote in Hamlet, that there are limits to our knowledge: “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy (science).” The problems of mankind originate in thought – how we think about the world and our place in it. And so instead of viewing ourselves as integral bits of the whole, we get trapped into seeing separation wherever we look and feeling disconnected.

The great thinker Krishnamurti wrote, the observer is the observed. When a person places “I” in the center of everything, they cannot escape from the labyrinth of isolation. There are many paths to increased awareness. The first thing is learning how to quiet the thoughts of how you define “I”. Thoughts are movement, and cannot be silenced completely. But if you accepted what you actually are, deeper layers of reality can open up …the heavens are filled, you are part of it, there is bliss. This state takes place when the mind sees the falseness of attempts to become, to achieve. There is a state of timelessness only when there is no observer. – Krishnamurti

Everything is interconnected. On the deepest level, the Cosmos emerges from the quantum potential fabric beyond the measurement of physics. The fundamental Now floats within the eternal, metaphysical medium. This is the Tao. To understand you have to have the patience to wait until your inner mud settles and your mind clears. We all are places of transformation. We determine what we see. To become a co-producer of possible futures we have to participate in the emerging and unfolding of the world. The Universe is Unity – a fundamental Oneness. In that sense, the observer is also the observed.

The world we perceive unfolds from the Whole. What we know as matter, manifests from what we identify as sub-atomic particles, which are made of increasingly smaller bits, which continuously unravel from the Oneness, before being re-woven back into the fundamental foundation of everything. Consciousness too acts in this way. Our self is founded upon memories of the past. True freedom arises once we release those images of the past. Consciousness determines our relationship to the Whole of life, and outward from that, the Universe. Life becomes more satisfying once we begin to understand our connection to the whole of existence. When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. – John Muir

Free Book: Unboxing Your Soul

I am offering my new book free on Amazon – July 5th.

Available in : India ; United Kingdom ; Canada ; Germany ; France ; Japan ; Australia ; Netherlands ; Brazil

Introduction

There is a dynamic spiritual illumination within you. I discovered that energy after years of soul searching. In the prologue I reflect on a life-altering epiphany I experienced beside the ocean. Afterwards, I struggled for days to identify what had happened. A week later, during a walking meditation at the beach, the term Godlight was whispered into my quieted mind. For months before that Godlight epiphany I had been walking the beach to heal my injured knee. As I walked I took photos of whatever caught my eye and began writing a blog using the photos to inspire my posts. Before writing I would select an inspirational quote to seed my imagination. The quotes helped focus my “reflections” around a theme from the artistic to the spiritual.

When the coronavirus pandemic struck America, I refocused on increasing the meaningfulness of each post. In this way, I tried to heighten the positive impact for my readers. Something hidden deep inside my soul awakened as I emptied my mind and let nature inspire me. The prologue epiphany lit my life and I have been unpacking my soul since that day.
Nature is the inspirational mirror on which I visualized these written reflections. Peaceful contemplative walks in nature allow an individual to become aware of the deeper connection between the natural world and the soul. During peaceful strolls in nature, an earnest person can begin to unbox their soul. A unique path will unfold as the obscuring layers of the self are discarded. The lucid Godlight within will light the way naturally. Sincere appreciation for the holistic power of nature transcends the real world. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “In the woods we return to reason and faith…the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.”

All religions offer paths to the same end – reuniting with the Divine. And a myriad of philosophies offer techniques to enhance self-awareness along the Way towards enlightenment and ultimately to transcendence. To begin unboxing your soul seek to no longer identify with your ego. Know that you are a whole, harmonious being. Becoming more self-aware and eventually self-actualized connects your spirit to greater levels of meaningful existence. These connections expose your heart and mind to higher spiritual realms which in turn alter your world in unique ways.

Childhood is a continuous act of self-expression. Sadly, this self-expression can be buried beneath emotional sedimentary layers of adult obligations. Many people spend their lives accumulating material possessions. The more things one has, the safer they feel. Their self-esteem remains generally centered on the materialistic. But others wonder if there is more to life than earthly wealth. You, dear reader, are one of those who are searching for a deeper meaning to life.

Crossing Over

When Great Trees Fall
And when great souls die, / after a period, peace blooms, / slowly and always / irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of / soothing electric vibration. / Our senses, restored, never / to be the same, whisper to us. / They existed. They existed. / We can be. Be and be / better. For they existed. Maya Angelou

My father passed away yesterday. His frail body could no longer contain the tremendous soul within. He lived for early 35,000 days and over forty-eight million minutes, but he had been in my life every minute of every day – until today. He has now joined with the spirits of my mother, his brothers and sisters, my grandparents, and nearly everyone he knew as a boy. When my dad was born, my grandmother didn’t have any breast milk to offer him, and they didn’t have any milk of any kind. For the first two days of life, my father survived on well water alone. My old man was strong. I will love him all my life.

I went for a walk yesterday morning, to think about my dad. My brother had told me his condition was worsening. Half way down the beach, I saw something move in my peripheral vision. It was a hawk. I had never seen a hawk like that on the beach before. As I approached, the thought entered my head that this fierce bird was a spirit guide for my father, waiting there next to his beloved Pacific. I approached with reverence and from a distance took several photos. Unbeknownst to me until later, that was the exact time when my father passed away. As I turned to walk away, the stoic bird of prey, turned to glance at me; and in silhouette his profile resembled my father’s. My dad and I share the family characteristic noble beak of a nose. My father admired and respective Native American culture. The hawk was the messenger of the Universe. Hawks symbolize courage, wisdom and are protectors. These are characteristics of my father too, and I strive to share them.

You only live twice: Once when you are born And once when you look death in the faceIan Fleming My dad often said he had died a dozen times, he would say – being dead or scared to death are the same. In World War Two he saw death daily and was nearly killed numerous times. But he survived, just as our ancestors had survived – by tenaciously struggling against and not surrendering to death. I am certain he faced death as he had lived – righteously. You mustn’t be afraid of death. You’re a deathless soul you can’t be kept in a dark grave you’re filled with God’s glow.Rumi

This morning, as I reflected on my relationship with my dad, I found a quote from Umberto Eco, I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom. My dad seldom taught me directly. Instead he commented on what I did, or let me hover in the periphery while he worked on the car, or fixed things around the house. He built our home from cement blocks while working full-time at the factory, and part-time as a motorcycle mechanic. In that way he taught me the value of hard work. I will say a prayer for his spirit each day so that his soul may find everlasting peace. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. Kahlil Gibran

July 5, I am offering my new book for free on Amazon. If you enjoy my writing, please consider reading and writing a review.

What We Pretend to Be

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.Kurt Vonnegut

As I get older, pretense drops away like autumn leaves. Some parts I have played became obsolete years ago, but the related emotions remained deeply-rooted to my spirit for far longer. The clever artifice of pretend characteristics became integrated into my self-image. I believed what I pretended to be, and those soul tattoos could not be erased easily. Over years of self-doubt, costumed mannerisms were for adopted for self-protection and provided the “edge” I needed to rebuild my self. No matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.Albert Camus.

In order to survive adversity, the human spirit must grow stronger by believing in the possibility of survival. Overcoming the most difficult times, awakened and empowered a spirit within me. That spirit has flourished not by direct focus, but through more indirect absorption from observing nature. Wordless wisdom abounds in tracks of abstract designs and transcendental patterns. Although direct interpretation into words is impossible, deeper decipherment can be sought through the mind’s eye. Abstract art is energy and motion made visible – memories arrested in spaceJackson Pollock

For millennia, humans have studied nature for portents of the near future. Noticing changes in the local environment is a deep-seated survival skill. Walking without labeling helps develop a deeper connection to the real world and brings out our authentic self. Silence the rational mind. Peel back the veneer. In the Hindu belief system, the Veils of Maya distort our perceptions and keep us from viewing the actual reality before us. In Christianity, believers are warned not to become too enamored of this physical world which would prevent the soul from entering the eternal realm. Tibetan Buddhism speaks of Moha – delusion and ignorance, which is the opposite of insight and wisdom. And in Zen, Makyō is the realm of demons of self-delusion. So many beliefs tell us to drop our pretenses in order to discover strive for enlightenment. Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.Meister Eckhart

Just as a painting is not not reality, our preconceptions color the way we see the world around us. There is so much more to the so-called mundane, common world in which we live. Bask in the unrefined as your unadorned self. Find peace by finding your true self. Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate of All Wonders. Huang Po (Zen Master, 720-840)

Reminder: July 5, I am offering my new book for Free on Amazon

Silent Spring 2.0

Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better. – Albert Einstein

Scientists have coined a new term to describe our absence from the natural world during the pandemic – Anthropause – the temporary disappearance of humans from the natural environment. The wretched covid-19 pandemic has given us a peek at the natural world with fewer humans present. This glimpse is both marvelous and disheartening. Because hundreds of millions of people were self-isolating, wildlife roamed more freely and began to reclaim portions of their ancient territories.

Transportation was nearly ground to a complete halt globally and animals crossed the road to explore our temporarily vacated territory. Modern human civilization has become a geological force surpassing such natural forces as earthquakes and volcanoes. At first, the construction of cities carved out strongholds to protect against nature. Transportation networks where then added in order to support mankind’s artificial habitats. These manufactured trackways interrupted primeval pathways. The human animal then greedily dominated those subdivided areas no longer simply for survival but for gain. This civilized environment, separated from creation, became spiritually discordant and hollow.

All manner of wild animals have been roaming through the vacated cites. They approached warily at first sensing that the top apex predator is still nearby. The populations of animals that depend on garbage have declined or are reverting back to their instinctive behavior. Sadly, some animals that rely on human benevolence, such as through tourism and donations, are declining. While other animals see the vacated space as an opportunity to expand. As the pandemic restrictions ease, we must see these lessons and adapt our own behavior to further benefit nature. With more people moving towards virtual work, and migrating away from large cities, humanity should live more attuned to nature. Our spirits are calling out for this natural reconciliation.

Let’s walk the path to a brighter future of a more peaceful coexistence with the natural world. Over the coming decade great technological leaps can enhance the lives of a large portion of humankind, or further isolate us from one another and from a greatly diminished natural world. Our human civilization has reached one of the long anticipated crossroads for survival. The chronicles of human history contain scores of tales of collapse and downfalls. Choices we make now will create the paths forward for the future of humanity. Let us choose wisely – together.

Remember: July 5 Free Book Offer

New Book Rising in Rankings

I am very happy to say, my new book is slowly rising in the Amazon rankings for Spiritual Self-Help books. The world needs more positivity, and so I am offering my book for free on July 5.

We are all wandering timelessly through paradise. Unwrapping the gift that is life reveals who we truly are. There are many stages on your life-journey. After an unexpected epiphany changed my life forever I decided to write this book. I hope by reading it you can discover your own unique way to unbox your soul and discover the godlight within.

Many self-help methods prescribe a series of steps necessary for your advancement, but the real world does not always work that way. Religions offer paths to the same end – connecting to the Divine. And dozens of philosophies offer techniques to prepare for the journey towards enlightenment and transcendence. Just as water flows to the sea by discovering a wandering path, your life will meander down many paths before discovering the Godlight within you.
I have compiled and organized many of my best blog posts in Unboxing Your Soul: Discovering the Godlight within. There are over one hundred fifteen reflections in five sections through progressively deeper layers of the Self: Self-Expression, Self-Esteem,Self-Awareness, Self-Actualization, and Self-Transcendence. There are nearly one hundred fifty inspirational quotes and terms to encourage your journey. Additionally, there are two hundred tips for improving your life from general wellness to transcendence. I sincerely wish you peace and happiness on your journey. Everyone’s journey is different, but the broad steps are similar.

If you can’t wait until this Sunday :-), or if you would like to support my writing, please consider buying a copy of the eBook or paperback.

Peace and Love.

Natural High

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir

There are great wonders in this heaven of a world of ours. One does not have to wander to the ends of the earth to find mystery and magic. Nature’s grandeur is on display wherever you look. So many people do not set foot on soil for weeks on end. Returning to nature, if only for a few minutes a week, offers enormous benefits to once psyche. Spirits soar with the sound of the wind in the trees. The body sympathetically vibrates when encountering wildlife. No price can be put on the joyous sensations rippling through the mind when interacting with resident wild denizens.

Nourished by rainfall and sunlight, vast varieties of glorious greenery burst forth from rock, soil, and sand. Capturing stellar energy through paper-thin membranes, wondrous vegetation provides the foundation for life itself. Life paints the landscape with a myriad of textures and hues. Following a sophisticated, flexible strategy, life adapts to its surroundings. Nature’s malleable elements glow with sumptuous offerings to fortify and invigorate both body and spirit. This week, reach out and touch a tree for a few minutes. In Japanese Shinto beliefs, trees are often viewed as sacred objects capable of housing the nature spirits known as “kami”. Kami personify the sacred energy arising from nature.

The same amazing power, drives galaxies, explodes stars, and energizes Earth’s vastly diverse life. Life occupies every hospitable niche from the top of the highest mountains to the deepest ocean bottom. Pause and consider odd nature of the hidden clam. Down beneath the sand the clam whiles away its time siphoning nutritious bits in and out a two-way gritty siphon with its tubular foot standing ready to dig deeper. Surrounded by sparkling grains of shattered mountains and lost continents, I feel I am very lucky to occasionally share the beach with such a well-adapted being.

It is said that our primitive ancestral life erupted on this planet over 3,500,000,000 years ago. But where did it come from before that? Who could believe that in all the universe, life only exists here? The universe is within us all, and in our blood we feel the pulse of life throughout the starry sky above. Take the time to get into nature this week. Let go of the chatter and stress for a while and wander down some dirt paths. Or make your own path. …and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?Vincent van Gogh

Blue over Time

It is my wonderful youngest daughter’s birthday. I woke up thinking of the first time I looked into her beautiful blue eyes. When she was born, I was allowed to wheel her back to the nursery and I kissed her little forehead and looked into her innocent eyes and knew with absolute certainty, I would love her forever.

Blue has many connotations. For instance, Blues music got its name from the blue color of sulfur flames when the Devil was near. Blues songs are cathartic and chase away the sadness, in exhortations to the joy of living. When it comes to the color blue, the ancient Egyptians first produced blue pigment over 4,000 years ago. They heated limestone, sand and copper-containing minerals to produce a blue glass that was crushed and combined with egg whites to make paint and glazes.

So-called “true blue”, made from the gemstone lapis lazuli, was first used as a pigment in Buddhist paintings in Afghanistan 1400 years ago. Historians say that the ancient Greeks did not even have a word for Blue. Homer described the sea as “wine dark”. In English, Blue was the last of the basic color words to be added to the language. The deep blue lapis lazuli pigment was renamed Ultramarine, “beyond the sea”, about 600 years ago and was incredibly expensive. Painting changed when cobalt blue became available in the early 19th Century. Renoir and Van Gogh relished the less expensive blue. You can see the readily available cobalt blue liberate their creativity.

Indigo has been used to dye cloth blue for centuries. Above is a photo of natural indigo dye being made for batik art (Zhaoxing, Guizhou China). My wife and I spent a week in the area living in and around the various ethnic minority people. I enjoyed watching the batik process from start to finish.

Over 1600 years ago the Catholic Church decided Mary would have a blue robe to distinguish her in paintings. Over time the shade of blue became known as Navy Blue. Because Mary stood for innocence and honesty the color was seen as a symbol of being trustworthy. Navy Blue has been the official uniform color of the British Royal Navy for nearly three hundred years. Due to the symbolic trustworthiness, police use the color for their uniforms.

Pablo Picasso used Prussian Blue throughout his Blue Period , and the great master Katsushika Hokusai incorporated the color into many of his masterpieces. Throughout history the availability of pigments has opened new avenues for creativity and more practical applications. Prussian Blue is also the color still used today for “blueprints”. Take some time to enjoy the various shades of blues in your life. Chillout to my newest short music video on Youtube.