Happy Birthday Spirit Walking Journal

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One year ago I started blogging Spirit Walking Journal. I had no idea how long I could keep it going or even if I could actually blog three days a week which was my goal. I’ve been fortunate to find a lot of information to read, see on TV and to pass along to my readers. Thanks to all of you who read my humble ramblings and thanks especially to those of you who take the time to comment on Spirit Walking Journal.

For the next week I am taking some time off to visit family, but I am also hoping to expand my horizons and continue to find new and interesting ideas to share. I will be back at my desk in early July, looking forward to keeping on keeping on. May God bless all of you, your families and your friends and may God provide you all with the abundance our earth can provide.

Happy Birthday SWJ!

 

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Day to Day Healing: Purification

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Many of the following thoughts are taken directly from Mana Cards by Becker and Nardin, pages 74 and 75.

In the Hawaiian tradition there are rituals that use sea water for purification. Sea water can represent tears. Sometimes there’s nothing more purifying than a good cry to clear our thoughts and emotions. Purification is periodically required to get rid if negative influences whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.

When we discuss physical purification we must include our daily diet. What foods are we eating? Are they wholesome or filled with empty calories? Are we overusing some food products, ones associated with alcohol? Are we eating too much fast food, filling ourselves with high fat content foods? Are we getting enough frequent exercise? Are we getting enough sleep at night? Is our living environment clean and healthy? These are all areas where purification should take place. We must be aware of them and check our physical habits regularly to maintain our health. Ask ourselves, what do we need to change to be healthier?

Emotional health means our words and deeds must be good and genuine. They come from within us. But, as with physical health, we must be aware of what emotional issues we are feasting upon. If we start our day with a diet of TV news, shootings, war and hateful interviews with political opponents, interrupted by long periods of commercials urging us to buy the latest product because it will make us better or happier, our emotions will be affected in a negative way. Just as we must watch what our mouths consume, we must guard what our eyes see and our ears hear. It’s easy to get depressed watching too much TV.

Of course our emotional outlook affects our mental outlook too. Bad feelings can turn into negative thoughts which can result in bad actions. We should not hold grudges or resentments and when we realize they exist within us, we must rid ourselves of them in order to have good intentions. (See also my blog on using Ho’oponopono to eliminate resentments).

Last but not least is our spiritual purity. Prayer and meditation are great ways to keep our spiritual life pure. We must remember to focus on the needs of others, not just ourselves. Working on spiritual purity through prayer and meditation is the key to keeping our physical, mental and emotional aspects in healthy condition because it encourages us to focus on the highest good for all concerned. Spiritual purification is our corner stone. Physical, mental and emotional purification depend on the daily effort we put into our spiritual life.

 

Healing: The Shamanic View of Mental Illness

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I want to thank my friend Dana Lundin for posting a link to this information on her FaceBook page. The information here is from an article titled The Shamanic View of Mental Illness by Stephanie Marohn (featuring Doctor Malidoma Patrice Some). Published in The Natural Medicine Guide to Schizophrenia, pages 178-189, it can also be found on http://www.earthweareone.com.

According to the shamanic view, the onset of mental illness signals the “birth of a healer”. The person has been selected to convey a message or messages to this world from helpful spirits in the spirit world. When the person doesn’t get the proper assistance in learning how to receive and pass on the message(s), and receive energy from the world of spirit, disturbances arise and the person is diagnosed as having one or more mental problems.

Dr. Some knew an American couple who had an 18 year-old son who experienced hallucinations, was suicidal, and periodically depressed. This started when the son, Alex, was 14. With the parents’ permission, Dr. Some took Alex back to Africa with him, to test this theory. After experiencing help from healers and going through rituals over a period of eight months in Africa, Alex had become quite normal. He even learned to participate with African healers, helping them with rituals they were performing on their clients. Because Alex felt safer in Africa than America, he stayed four years until he felt his work was complete. When he returned to America, Alex graduated from college and attended the graduate school in psychology at Harvard, an accomplishment his parents and American friends thought he was incapable of.

Dr. Some believes that we Americans are experiencing problems because we have no rituals. He believes that rituals help align people to changes in their lives; help them keep the balance necessary for good health. As an example, we have no rituals for initiation. In indigenous cultures, young people are initiated into adulthood using ritual. We have nothing like these rituals which are designed to “trigger enlightenment” in the participants and help align them with their purpose and their ancestors.

If you have a chance, read this interesting article at http://www.earthweareone.com.

Maybe Bad, Maybe Good

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This past Sunday I was standing in my back yard when I noticed what appeared to be a crack in a major branch of the maple tree which shaded my patio. I found it went all the way around to the other side where it was even larger. I researched tree services on Monday, and called one on Tuesday. He came out, examined the tree and stated the whole thing had to come down. Removing the one branch would only unbalance the tree because the other two went in opposite directions, toward neighboring houses.

I just loved that tree. It was so large I never had to worry about sunburn when I sat in its shade regardless of the time of day. I struggled with the decision, finally agreeing because I didn’t want future problems for myself nor my neighbors. So I told him to go ahead. He scheduled it for this morning.

At 8:15 AM the crew of six showed up and began their work. One man climbed forty feet above the ground using special shoes and ropes and began lopping huge branches off. I still felt bad, but I watched and took pictures to share with friends and family. (I’ll post those on FB tomorrow.) By 10:00 AM only the main trunk stood there, seven feet above ground. As they cut it some more, the supervisor waived me over, pointing at the trunk. They had just cut a three foot section off. The cut revealed that the tree trunk was hollow from the ground to a point about five feet up. It was so old, it would have fallen down sometime soon, probably this summer or fall, depending on the weather. By 10:15 AM it was all gone.

This situation reminded me of a story buddhists tell about a man visited by misfortune who shrugs and says, “Maybe bad, maybe good.” Later good fortune comes out of what happened; he shrugs and says, “Maybe, good, maybe bad” and something bad follows. The story goes on for a number of events. The main point of the story is that we should remain detached from outcomes, especially since they are all impermanent. So it was with my maple tree.

But I miss it, so I saved a large piece of hollowed out trunk and I’ll convert it into a natural flower pot; maybe bad, maybe good.

Nature: Stewardship or Conquest

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A common attitude is that mankind is destined to control or conquer nature. We need to climb the highest mountains. We must learn how to clone sheep; maybe humans in the future. It is as though we think we have the intelligence to figure it all out. However this is undermined when we hear the doctor who came up with the idea of avoiding gluten now tell us that it is not causing the problems he told us about in the past. Or when the doctor gives us a prescription for the drug to control a problem, along with two other prescriptions to off-set the negative impact of the first drug. Or when they tell you not to eat eggs … oops, now it’s OK. Listen to the ads for pharmaceuticals on TV and pay attention to all the warning statements at the end. We invent one drug to help a single condition and then warn users about the dire consequences of its use.

You call that conquering or controlling nature? I don’t. It’s not science. It’s hubris.

There’s a lot we could learn from our predecessors; our Native American friends. In his book Nature – Speak, Ted Andrews talks about Gifts of the Earth (page 16), “Native Americans recognize that they are a part of Nature, not a ruler of it. They acknowledge a stewardship role with the natural world. Plants and animals are companions, healers, teachers, spirit messengers and even younger siblings needing protection at times. As such, they are given the respect  that one gives to any member of the human family. To them everything in Nature is related. All life is sacred and thus everything that comes from the Earth is a gift …”

If western man hadn’t been so sure that he knew best, we could have learned much from Native Americans. If we would have learned what they knew, we might have been able to avoid the problems we are facing today from climate change. We are not in charge of Nature, we are a part of it; we are surrounded by it; we live in it; we need it to survive. It is indispensable. It is the basis of life itself.

Healing and Risk Management

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At first glance the two subjects in the title of today’s blog may seem unrelated. But they translate into the concept of taking proper care of yourself and your family in order to avoid injury or illness. It’s like looking both ways before crossing the street, or not letting your middle school child play outside after curfew, or not smoking while filling your tank with gasoline.

While those ideas are commonly accepted, many people do not understand that managing risk has two parts to it. The first part, the one everyone thinks of, is ‘what is the probability such-and-such will happen?’ If the odds are 1 in 100, the chances seem very good, perhaps even excellent. But risk has a darker side: ‘what will the impact be if the event DOES happen?’ Betting 100 to 1 on a roll of the dice is one thing; betting that you can step out of the way of a train before it hits you is another. The difference is the result, the impact.

I’m thinking specifically about the Kaufman family from San Diego. In March of this year they left San Diego as part of their plan to travel around the world on a 36 foot sailboat. They got stranded 1,000 miles from land and it took four pararescuers and the U.S.S. Vandegrift to save them. Supporters of the sailing family were quoted as saying, “Bad things happen,” and “some people are adventurous and some are not.” But these defenders are missing the point. While the Kaufmans are probably nice people who love their children, they risked the lives of their children, for what, a trip around the world? It doesn’t seem worth it to me. They are guilty of poor risk management.

In their defense, the Kaufmans probably figured the odds of engine and communications systems failure were very low. And they probably didn’t think their one year old would get sick. But all of those things happened and the potential outcome was the death of their little baby. Pararescuers said the baby was only a couple of days from serious problems when help arrived.

I’m sure there are still people who will defend the Kaufmans; focusing on the probability of something going wrong. They are missing the point. Risk management is the consideration of probability plus impact. Nothing is worth the loss of your child. And a voyage across the Pacific Ocean on a 36 foot sailboat, is not the place for an infant and a toddler.

Good versus Evil

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Years ago a friend of mine asked, “Why does God allow evil to exist in the world?” At the time I couldn’t come up with a decent answer. Perhaps I was too young and lacked life experiences.

If she asked me the same question today I would answer, “You can’t understand good without evil. And if you can’t understand what is good, why would you choose it?” But there is so much more to the answer than a sentence, or a blog, can state. Sometimes we define a person as evil because they don’t agree with us (republicans vs democrats). Sometimes we classify an event as bad because when it happened it destroyed our plans (we didn’t get out way). And so eventually we must try to define what we mean by evil. Just because we don’t agree, or don’t get our way, does not mean the person or event is evil.

I’ve read that change is the only constant in life and I believe that is true. People, ideas, events, societies and countries are born, thrive, decline and end. All of them end; every single one. If you don’t agree, name one thing that has existed forever, other than God. There isn’t anything that has lived forever. The U.S. is just 238 years old. Our religious beliefs are two to five thousand years old; Hinduism may go back 10,000 years. Mankind has been around for about a million years, give or take a hundred thousand. By comparison, a few of thousand years is not a significant number.

We view our society and our beliefs as being the culmination of an evolutionary process. Are they? Countless generations of human beings have had that view long before we were born. And we think our progress is the apex of creation. Others held that view too, but about different ideas and societies. Still, I think the definition of real good and real evil is easy to understand. It has to be easy in order to be available to all human beings throughout the ages, past and future.

Real good is what creates love, harmony and compassion in any society; do to others what you want them to do to you. It is the angelic side of our nature. And real evil is its opposite, and usually associated with the needs of our ego; greed, and a desire to control others.  Good is based on our ability to see the unity of creation. Evil occurs when we see ourselves as separate beings. Real good and real evil are the choices we make; they come from within us. Do we choose unity or separateness?