Books, Films, Events

It is always a nice surprise when entertainment is inspiring. And, this last week I made the opportunity to engage in 3 ventures that reminded me of the importance of dismissing human foibles while confidently working with spiritual forces.

First, I started reading the book, “The Monks of New Skete,” which is proving insightful. The articulate thoughts walk a fine line in the direction of honest spiritual practice watching out for idolatry and fakery.

Second, I participated in A Celebration of Spirit, Culture & Creativity in Lenox, MA, where the headquarters of EnlightenmentNext is. The main speakers were Swami Chidanand Saraswate and Andrew Cohen, both excellent thinkers on spiritual journeys who agree on the importance of embracing a healing truth versus just talking about it. It is silly to think we can live off other peoples hard earned battles of progress.

Thirdly, I watched the movie “Invictus” directed by Clint Eastwood. This film portrays Nelson Mandela’s first term as South Africa’s President and his response to the Rugby team who goes on to win the 1995 World Cup. The response of forgiveness is shown to be a mighty weapon.

I am reminded that not only is the struggle for spiritual freedom worth it, but it is important that we share our own progress. Never belittle your spiritual progress, share it in the many venues available, and know that it benefits our universe.

Share you spiritual progress as if it is new

Spirituality strengthened and renewed

Generally, strength is juxtaposed with muscles, and renewal is considered to be the aftermath of a disaster or illness, however, in Delhi, NY, a group of thinkers came together last Sunday to strengthen and renew that which already is strong and new, our spirituality.

Everyone collaborated, not to fight against the mortal human identities, but to fight on the side of truth, the truth that our spirituality is manifest on earth, here and now.

We laughed at the common reactive habit of classifying people as human beings with job status and drama. And, we smiled as we claimed our right to reverse that process and know, and identify ourselves with, spiritual qualities, such as honesty, creativity, generosity, wisdom, and friendliness.

The Science and Health open book portion of the workshop brought to our attention that with all due respect to the humaneness on earth, spirituality and its expression of health and holiness are ours to understand and experience more each day.

There was a brief meditation, further familiarizing ourselves with the fact our lives and work can continue to come into sync with a spiritual God and a good work, an idea read in Science and Health.

I’d like to thank Anna, who provided the venue for this public gathering. Anna, and her family have done a terrific job of renewing the old building which will soon be the See-Saw Café.

God Strengthens and Renews

The courage of an immigrant

I bought the book, The Rise of David Levinsky, for 25 cents from a used book dealer. David Levinsky is an unknown to me, but the back-cover promised a powerful, prophetic story of Jewish-American life in turn-of-the-century New York. The book was written by Abraham Cahan (1860-1951), a political radical, union organizer, and founder of the influential Yiddish newspaper The Jewish Daily Forward. Cahan offers a candid view of David Levinsky, who was born in Russia and lived with his mother in a deep dank basement with three other families. Levinsky’s teen years found him studying the Talmud daily, and avoiding confrontations with the local boys who taunted the Jews. However, one evening he was captured and beat. After his mother discovered the bumps and bruises, she rushed out to reckon with the cruel boys, but was beat to death. A merciful distant friend then scrounged up the boat money it took to send Levinsky to America.

Levinsky spent twenty years working his way from desperate poverty to material success in the garment industry. He learned the English language and mannerisms of the 19th century business world. He read. He attended plays. This new found knowledge, juxtaposed with the sheer will-power to toil sixteen hour days earned him millions of dollars and allowed him to eventually provide work for many fellow Russian Jews all the while dodging the young Labor Unions coming into existence.

Now a millionaire, Levinsky has time to think of marriage, “I had no creed. I knew of no ideal. The only thing I believed in was the cold, drab theory of the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest. This could not satisfy a heart that was hungry for enthusiasm and affection, so dreams of family life became my religion. Self-sacrificing devotion to one’s family was the only kind of altruism and idealism I did not flout.” However, he called off the wedding to the woman he was to marry.

As the reader, I wonder if Levinsky feared the experience of matrimony and family would pale before the strong impressions already imprinted on the core of his being. At the beginning of the book, when explaining the day the ship from Russia to America arrived at Sandy Hook and his eyes fell on the landscape of America, his new home, he wrote, “I am at a loss to convey the peculiar state of mind that the experience created in me…the immigrant never forgets his entry into a country which is, to him, a new world in the profoundest sense of the term and in which he expects to pass the rest of his life.”

“Soul has infinite resources with which to bless humanity. Happiness is more readily attained and more secure in our keeping, if looked for in Soul. Higher enjoyments alone can satisfy the cravings of our spirituality.”–21st Century Science and Health

Summer Dinner

Summer Pudding

When Doug got home from work yesterday, he washed his face and we jumped in the car and drove to Oneonta to find Pam Strother’s house. Pam had invited us to dinner at 6 p.m. We found her quaint home easily enough and were welcomed in along with other guests from the Unitarian Universalist Church.
   Pam graded her guests and Doug and I received A’s while all the other guests received F’s….because Pam told everyone NOT to bring anything except ourselves. In other words, Doug and I were the only people who didn’t present a gift to the hostess. We may have received A’s, but we looked like heels.
   Pam had prepared a cold zucchini soup, salad, and egg plant scaloppini with pasta. Her table was set with china trimmed in gold. Fresh flowers were on the table, and a gentle breeze was flowing through the windows. The meal was fabulously tasteful and a fancy dessert topped it off.
   Conversation covered books, travel, children, God, and the highly prized tidbit of reaching Long Island via the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson ferry. We also concluded as church members, we have the right to re-claim “church” if it has been hijacked by hypocrisy, self-righteousness, or sloth. Church is a wonderful tool to use on a spiritual journey and belongs to humanity as a whole.
   Doug and I stayed up past our bed-time, the evening was so refreshing, pleasant, and mind-enlarging. Thanks for a great time Pam.

The Doldrums are not a Sign to Follow

After I wrote my last blog about the doldrums, I decided to go on a motorcycle ride. By myself? Yes, by myself. I headed west toward Binghamton. Even though I accelerated to top speed, my mind and body still felt as though they were stagnate and lethargic. The weather was great. The traffic was fine, so I eventually turned North onto Road 369 figuring I’d head back home the long way and enjoy the scenery. After driving for about a half an hour the road took me to the top of a peak that gave me a magnanimous vista of many peaks. It dawned on me divine Mind is much bigger than my human experience and I can trust the bigger.
Then I came to Route 7 and noticed the sign told me to turn left if I was going to head East but EVERYTHING, all human emotions and sensations of my body told me east was to the right. I followed my instinct, which was to follow the signs and not my emotions and sure enough I made it home. But, first I had to stop and eat a snack and go to the bathroom. A gentleman chatted with me about riding.
Instinct tells me to follow the signs great leaders, such as Christ Jesus, gave us to follow, even if it doesn’t feel comfortable or right. We can do things on our own. We will meet friendly people, we will see the beauty. And, I am glad the doldrums passed away.
I am thankful God has a sense of humor and immeasurable patience to help me on my journey. That bike ride, the mountains, the sunshine, the nice people, the signage, got through to me.

Upstate NY mountains

What to do about the Doldrums

Food doesn’t taste good, polite conversation is boring, reading is monotonous, and being a couch potato sounds ludicrous…is this the doldrums?

In this definition, the doldrums pique me. I go through a series of attitudes: first, disappointment; second, wondering what’s wrong with me; and third, I come to the realization that the doldrums prove that nothing in this world is attracting my attention. There is no lure to eat doughnuts to make me feel better. There is no enticement to meet friends. There is no temptation to get lost in a book. And, I have too much energy to sit around.

I’m stopped dead in my tracks, in the deep rut of human life.

I become anxious. I twirl my hair. I don’t want to walk in this rut. I don’t want to do what I normally do even though it is fine and happy. I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing today.

I twirl my hair some more.

I examine the depth of the rut I am in and realize it is too deep to jump out of. So, I start digging, making steps to climb out.
Step one: I appreciate the unseen good so often assumed other people have and I don’t.
Step two: I deny the lie that I have something someone else doesn’t.
Step three: I loosen my hold on the opinion that selfishness has power.
Step four: I pet my soft, adorable, humble cat.
Step five: I hold tight to the fact that nothing can stop Life, Love, and Truth from interpreting to me, and everyone, universal harmony.
I see light.

Well, well, I found another definition for doldrums from infamous Wikipedia: “The Doldrums, also called the “equatorial calms”, is a nautical term for the intertropical convergence zone, with special reference to the light and variable nature of the winds. It affects areas of the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean that are within the intertropical convergence zone, a low-pressure area around the equator, where the prevailing winds are calm.”

Atlantic Doldrums