DARLING MAGGI

•February 12, 2016 • 3 Comments

No matter what beliefs we hold about life and its seeming alternative, death, we are still touched by the passing of dear ones. If there is a grander picture – of which I’m allowed only a pinpoint view – then each moment of life has a purpose and each purposeful moment in one life must, by necessity, overlap purposeful moments in other lives. How could it be any other way if there be only One Purpose, One Life.

When our dearest Maggi chose last Monday to leave this physical life, my spiritual beliefs suggested she went to a better place, a place of peace, and joy, and color, and laughter, always laughter, where she could continue to experience spiritual growth without physical restrictions and distractions. If this is true, then grieving is a solace only for the living – those left behind.

It is we mortals who weep to cover the hole her passing leaves in our hearts. It is we mortals who scramble to resurrect shrines and hold memorials in order to clutch memories of her closer for just a little longer.

But eventually all the weeping and scrambling must subside. And as it does – but not until – we will once again hear the sound of her laughter in the songs of the birds and feel her warmth and see flashes of her brilliant colors in the dazzle of the sun, the sparkle of the rippling stream.

When we finally stop weeping, only then can she find us. Only then can she fill our hearts so that once again we overflow with Maggi. But this time we will never loose her again; she will be ours forever.

GOD IN OUR DNA

•July 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been doing some thinking lately about manifesting my own reality. These are the current buzz words used to indicate that we believe we have control over our own lives.

This thinking brought back a dear memory of one day many years ago when I walked into my Senior Minister’s office looking for advice. I’d been up to my knees in alligators for several weeks: negative readings from the Universe, astroids landing in the flower garden. I was so irritable my dog wouldn’t look at me – let alone my husband.

This was before my days as a minister. Not to say being a minister precludes wading in alligators; we all have those days occasionally. 

The moment I walked into Rev. Angie’s office I started to wail. “Angie, I think I’ve lost my spirituality.”

He didn’t laugh.  Men learn that particular grace at a very early age – never laugh at a wailing woman with mascara running down her face.

“Angie, I just can’t seem to do it. I can’t make it work.” I continued like that for several minutes, bemoaning what seemed to be my ineffectual prayer treatments.

Finally Rev. Angie reached out and gently patted my hand. In a very soft voice he said, “Janna, you’ll have to step aside.”

“Step aside.” That was all he said. But it was my cue – to let go and let God.

Down through the years I’ve learned to practice stepping aside more and more. We’ve all gotten to the point at sometime in our lives where we feel we’ve done everything we could think of and then finally in despair we had to turn it all over to a higher Power because we couldn’t cope on our own.

One of the most interesting things I’ve learned over these years is that when I turn it over; let go and let God; step aside, before the situation is out of hand, I get the same results – or even better – but without all the pain and anguish that goes into my clinging to a particular outcome.

And I have a theory about that. When we were born, not merely this lifetime, but hundreds, maybe thousands of lifetimes ago, at the time of the creation of man, the divine Creator instilled within each of us a part of Himself. I call it the God-particle in our DNA. It has other names: Soul, Inner Being. But there is one word I  particularly like. That word is Genius.

Today a person is considered a genius if they show higher levels of intellect – like an Einstein, perhaps. Or has tremendous creative talents, like a Michelangelo. But back in the 14th century, when this word was first used, Genius was the spirit that watched over each person from birth. Therefore a person wasn’t singled out because he was a genius; instead, each person was special because he had a Genius, a Higher Self.

I believe it is our Genius that works through us. It is our Genius that does the creating.

Our bodies, our actions, our minds, our thoughts, are actually not ours at all; they are merely the tools, the instruments of the Genius within us. What a relief when we finally recognize that all we have to do is show up; our Genius does the rest.

In the words of Joel Goldsmith, “Our only job is to know the Truth; everything else is God’s responsibility.”

In the words of Janna Lewis, “Step aside; let your Genius do the work.”

MY SOUL – MY PERSONAL GOD

•July 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I recently had some “soul-talk” with a group of friends. We were sharing our thoughts about the identity of the soul. Although our beliefs were joyfully and animatedly shared, after an hour or so we found we were pretty much where we’d started.

In later consideration it occurred to me that ideas about the soul, like beliefs about God, are fairly tightly held, starting from childhood and acquiring strength as they grow.

For many years I gave very little thought to a soul. Just some spiritual entity put there at my birth as my link with God, perhaps. Those thoughts were due to my very heavy Catholic childhood in which everything was so shrouded in mystery, as if only the priests were intelligent enough to know or understand. When I thought about the soul at all I believed that whatever power the soul had was greatly diminished due to its need to evolve or if not evolve exactly, at least to awaken from its many-lifetimes of slumber. Not a particularly reassuring force in my life. I also assumed that awakening would be very gradual based on my own ability to learned and grow spiritually. It was obvious to me that a soul wouldn’t want to awaken in a body not spiritually ready for it. It was a long tough climb, and one in which I often felt alone.

As it turns out, that was just another of my ego-trips. As if “I” (the janna-i) could actually control the soul’s propensity for being (Being). My life has been a long stretch of questions, and often I’ve had to “go within” when the answers weren’t immediately forthcoming through my usual litany of books. It finally occurred to me that the Soul, my Inner Self, was that part of me answering my questions. In fact, my Soul has always answered all my questions – at the level of awareness I could grasp at the time. It’s not my Soul that needs awakening, it’s my awareness of my Soul and what it is (has always been) to me and for me.

The Soul is not merely “like” God, it is God. It’s no wonder I walked away from the friendly soul-discussion with my friends with no desire to change my thinking since it has long been my belief that God acts in us as differentiated-God. And differentiated-God is my personal God, my Soul, my Inner Self that I talked about in my last blog.

I believe now I’ve always had a relationship with my Soul – even when I wasn’t consciously aware of it. The Soul infuses matter so that matter (terrestrial beings) have direct access to God. I now think that all my “guides” and “gurus” over the years have been merely masks of my Soul, taking on whatever guise necessary for my “awakening” at that moment. I think the Soul is our ever-widening consciousness; it is the Divine pressing down from above and pressing out from within.

The Soul penetrates and pours itself into every aspect of our nature thereby growing our Peace, Light, Bliss, Strength, Greatness. The Soul is how we relate to our personal life; it takes on the sweetness of Love; it is all encompassing like the sky; it is as deep as the deepest waters; it’s a Friend who never leaves our side; a Lover who shares the secrets of our heart. This God-legacy we call our Soul is the inner Master of our activities, our works, and just as surely our ordeals, and as such points our way. As the Creator of things, it uses us as its instrument.

I feel that as instruments of the Divine, all the above mentioned aspects – Peace, Light, Love etc where the Divine meets us – in us – are Truths. At first they appear merely as helpful symbols, masks of the Divine, perhaps, but as we awaken more fully to our awareness of the Soul-God within we begin to experience the one Truth that is behind them, the Absolute. Our lives then can be revealed, not as illusions of duality but as supreme Reality.

Surrender, then becomes not a giving up of self (that’s the illusion of duality), but an awareness there is only Self/Soul and there is nothing to give up.

We live in the arms of the eternal Mother.

SPIRITUAL WARRIORS

•June 15, 2015 • Leave a Comment

When I was young, back in one of my prior lives as a Catholic child going to catechism every Saturday morning, I was taught to pray for the deliverance of my soul when I died. And as a rather sickly child, death was not an entirely remote possibility. So while lying on my sickbed I had ample time to contemplate my soul’s deliverance.

What was it exactly that was going to be delivered? To whom? And by whom?

I decided my soul must be at least as important as my favorite party dress. And, still having a lot of wear in it, I suspected that party dress would be handed on to someone needy if I died.

Being not an overly generous child – I only had one party dress – I wasn’t exactly enamored with this idea. Along with this whole situation was added a lot of resentment toward my soul – whatever it was – at the idea of abandoning me when I died.

Strangely enough, I never blamed God. Perhaps it was because I had a strong respect for God, so if He wanted my soul back then that’s the way it was suppose to be, I guess. I suspect, however, that my lack of blame had more to do with the fact that I didn’t really associated my soul with God – whoever He was.

After I regained my health I pretty much stopped worrying about the deliverance of my soul, to say nothing of my party dress – which I’d outgrown, anyway. I wasn’t having a whole lot of contact with my soul while alive, I couldn’t imagine I’d miss it much once dead.

It was only after many years of spiritual study and learning some of the characteristics of the soul that I began to associate it with God. For instance, it isn’t that we as physical beings are extensions of God as we so often hear, but that our soul is a unique, individualized extension of God. The word I like best to describe this activity of soul-life is differentiated God – the distinct difference that characterizes each of us while still remaining part of the Whole. I equate it to a diamond of which our souls, individually, are the facets – each glowing in it’s own unique way but able to shine only because it is part of the One Diamond.

When I learned this valuable distinction between our physical beings and our soul-beings, I allowed my physical being to take its rightful place as merely a reflection of my thoughts and beliefs about myself and the world. My soul then took its rightful place as my own personal piece of God.

This became strongly apparent during the years that I sought a guru, a teacher who’s beliefs I could grasp as my own. I followed many mystics and wise teachers over the years, but knew I hadn’t found my guru when each time I was once again drawn on to study with the next one. Eventually I learned through my Hindu studies that my true Guru is within me. It is my Soul, that which the Hindus call our Psychic Being. It is in that way that I learned that my soul is my Inner Self, my True Self.

Last week I had three events occur that tied this True-Self concept together for me. The first was rereading the book, The Legend of Bagger Vance. While researching I’d learned that this story is a modern-day version of the Bhagavad Gita, The most widely read of all Hindu scriptures.

The Bagger Vance story is the game of Life and takes place on a golf course. The Gita explains the game of Life in terms of a battlefield. I’m assured by my golfer friends that the similarity is easily understandable. In both cases the game must be played to the best that defines each man. In the golf story, Bagger Vance, the modern-day Krishna, tells the player that within each person is his Authentic Swing and it is only by becoming one with the Field can that Authentic Swing be found and expressed.

We find our Authentic Swing, our Authentic Self when we reconnect with the Whole, the Field of All-That-Is. Only when we break through the layer of outer appearances will we find our Authentic Swing, our True Self. These outer appearances are the fears, guilt, anger, anxiety, stress and attachments which we all hold on to as part of our identity.

The second thing that tied in with this True Self concept occurred while my husband and I were taking our daily walk in the hills above our home. We found a snake-skin at the side of the road (without the snake). It was complete and perfectly formed, about 5 feet long, transparent and very fragile. We carried it gently home and placed it on a shelf in our library.

This skin made me aware of how wonderful it would be to be able to shed my outer layer of beliefs and attachments whenever the old had served their purpose – not as a physical death, but as a periodic cleansing while living in this body.

About that time the third event occurred. My long-time Minnesota friend called to tell me her husband had suffered a stroke and she desired my prayers. I immediately took him (mentally and spiritually) into meditation with me. During this meditation I was shown a battle field – reminiscent, I assume, of my recent encounter with the Gita battlefield.

In this vision were many people, all with bandages somewhere on their bodies – around their heads, across their eyes, wrapped around their chests and arms and legs. As they stood there, mentally, physically and emotionally wounded, I realized we are all the walking-wounded with our layers of anger, fear, guilt, resentments, our control issues, and are attachment-to-outcome issues.

And then I thought of the snake shedding its outworn skin. As this remembrance flickered through my meditation the people in my vision began dropping their outer skin. What was left was an inner, glowing, new body, free from all the wounds and outer baggage.

At the center of each person throbbed a vivid heart. It’s was like the little alien in the movie E T whose heart-beat was so strong it almost came through his chest. I was seeing the Heart-Lights, the Soul-Lights, of the Spiritual Warriors on my battlefield-vision of life.

Within each of us is our Authentic Self, that personal part of God we can claim as our own. Our Soul. This is the God we can access whenever we have questions or needs because it’s that differentiated part of God that responds to each of us personally. It is our own Inner Self, our own Guru.

It has always been there, will always be there for you. It will not be delivered to anyone else when you decide to leave this body. It’s yours for eternity. To contact it you have only to open to your Authentic Self.

So, let your Heart-Light shine.

THE HERO’S JOURNEY

•June 2, 2015 • 2 Comments

I recently watched a movie I’d seen once before: The Legend of Bagger Vance. The movie haunted me for days after this last viewing, something that hadn’t happened when I first saw it. What is the message? I kept wondering. What didn’t I receive the first time but now wants to make its presence known?

Finally, sheer curiosity more than anything took me to the internet to goggle Bagger Vance. Well, surprise, surprise. The Legend of Bagger Vance is a modern day version of the Hindu epic, Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord). Often referred to simply as the Gita, it is a 700-verse Hindu scripture in Sanskrit that is part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, believed to have been written somewhere between the fifth to the second century BCE.

Of course! That was the tripping-trigger in my mind.

Every myth is a tale full of purpose and meaning and often told as a Hero’s Journey. This is the motif every good storyteller learns in “Writing 101”. You take a reluctant hero, give them an unacceptable quest, add a wizard or wise person as guide and mentor, give him staggering obstacles to overcome and have him reap the benefits by overcoming them, both externally and internally.

Arjuna and Rannulph Junuh are the heroes of the Gita and The Legend respectively. Notice the similarity in pronunciation of names, R. Junuh and Arjuna? And the wise person or wizard in each instance is God represented by Krishna and Bagger Vance. Actually, the name Bagger Vance is a take off on Bhagavad which mean Lord or God.

The similarities continue throughout the stories, but what are we meant to learn from them? These are teaching myths, after all. And by the way, the word, myth, is not meant to imply these events never occurred. The dictionary defines myth as a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation. The Jesus-story is just such a myth with Jesus as the hero and the Christ-consciousness as the wise wizard.

In more personal terms, we are the heroes of our own stories with both real and imaginary struggles. We all hesitate at times when presented with a challenge, a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Should I? Can I? What if I fail? What if nothing good comes from my efforts? It is then we must rely on our own personal Bagger Vance, that still small Voice within, for ultimately we are our own guru; we all have within us the wise Master who, like Bagger, Krishna and Christ “will never leave us”. And since these myths are allegorical in nature they search for abstract Truths through concrete and material forms: the figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another. For these to be universal Truths, the guise in each must represent a universally recognized subject which, it turns out in these stories, and by extension, in all of our personal stories, to be the will of God.

But what does that mean, “the will of God”? Does it mean God wills that Arjuna do physical battle with his close relatives and friends against his own desires? Does it mean God wills that Junuh should reluctantly fight against his contemporaries on the battlefield of a golf competition?

In all cases, it would appear that what is being revealed is man’s need to drop his own ego in light of the bigger ego, the God-Ego.

The Bagger Vance legend is representative of all hero-stories so I’ll use it as illustration of how this works. R. Junuh must lay down his ego long enough to recognize that he, personally, was not responsible for being the only survivor in the field where all his men were killed. It is sheer ego-arrogance for anyone to put themselves up to such an exulted position. We just don’t have that kind of personal power. Until he can let go of that ego he is too guilt-ridden (guilt being a by-product of excessive ego) to accept the necessity of returning to the battlefield of golf. And even when he finally accepts his responsibility – with a little nudging from Bagger – he still has to undergo more trials of the ego, for until he stops thinking that he is making the moves, doing the swings to hit the ball, his game is erratic and unpredictable. When he finally “gets it”, when he finally understand the “field” (battle field, playing field) as the sum-totality of All-That-Is, he feels himself merge into, become one with the Field. Only then can he find his ‘authentic swing’ which for those of us who aren’t golfers means authentic self.

Arjuna fights against doing battle with friends and relatives but is assured by Krishna that as a member of the warrior caste, Arjuna’s duty is to fight and kill. Yet he should do this only after understanding that all beings have the same divine self. Selfless devotion to duty is just one of the lessons taught in the Bhagavad Gita as well as in the Bagger Vance legend. It was Junuh’s duty to represent his city in a golf game – golf being his field of authenticity. We must take on each battle, not for ego-gratification but with ego detachment. Only then can we go beyond our humanness to our supreme identity.

All choices made in life are fulfilling choices when made from our authentic Self. This is the inner Self that leads us and occasionally nudges us (through our intuition); it is our soul-consciousness, that never-ending connection with God. Whatever the action we take, when taken not with the ego but through our God-Center can only result in a truer Self. We submerge our little ego when we shed the belief in our invincibility or conversely the belief in our inability. Then, and only then does the God-Ego emerge, that same Ego which is in everyone of us, just hidden behind and beneath our small, inconsequential, personal ego.

Our world, we are told in these myths, is a battlefield, a golf course, a playing field, in which we are all involved in the game called Life. It is a game, according to Bagger Vance that can’t be won, only played. It is up to us to find our authentic swing.

HOW “FREE” IS OUR FREEDOM OF CHOICE?

•May 21, 2015 • 3 Comments

“You might be interested in this,” my husband remarked recently, holding up a Kurt Vonnegut novel he was reading. “This alien says that after visiting thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe and reading the studies of one hundred more, Earth is the only planet that claims to have free will.”

My immediate response was, “Of course!”

I didn’t mean, of course, I agree; I meant, of course we humans would believe that way because of our arrogant, egocentric natures.

But it wasn’t a criticism of humans I was experiencing (heaven knows egoism is one of my greatest battles), but acknowledgement of where we as humans are in the whole evolvement-of-the-universe type thinking. I don’t know if we are the only species that considers itself self-willed or having free will, but surely the more intelligent  species would think differently. It may sound like a reflection on my own level of intelligence to say I no longer believe I have free will, but I’m more inclined to believe this Truth revealed itself to me more from my Intuitive consciousness than my intellect. I’m learning to recognize such Truths from within me: not only must they make sense to my very logical mind, they must “feel” right, also.

For years I argued for my ego, and of course, everyone else’s by extension, believing I wouldn’t have it (as a gift from God) if I wasn’t to use it. By my ego I determined my independence and my individuality. I exulted in being different and believed it was God’s intention through this ego-gift that I continually differentiate myself through my choices.

But like most gifts continuously given, the ego is taken for granted; just as it is taken for granted that having received this gift of singularity we can exploit it, use it to continue to build our identity of distinction and originality – our separateness. Although when ego first receives the message that it has no free choice, it typically rebels, refusing to accept the implications; puppet-hood, after all, is just too, too degrading. But the rebellion is short-lived (relative to infinity, of course) when we begin to recognize where this ego-gift came from, and its ultimate purpose.

Ego is a two-edged sword. Although necessary to move us as a species and as individuals through our lower stages of consciousness; i.e. unconscious matter to physical consciousness (breathing the body, beating the heart) to vital consciousness (desires, passions) to mental consciousness (thought processes) to psychic/soul consciousness (intuition), it is also what holds us in each of these levels. But it only holds us long enough at a particular level for our awareness to develop.

In the early stages, when we determined we were more than mere animal-nature, living by instinct in a fight or flight world, we began to make choices. All choices are made for the sole purpose of feeling better. Each choice brings with it another desire and each desire another choice, thus moving us up the evolutionary scale.

But what, in fact, is actually making these choices, attracting this ever-increasing variety of desires? Or perhaps more succinctly put, what is the impetus within our desires and choices?

If the entire universe is the Divine in infinite differentiation, and I, with an ego, am one of the myriad differentiations, then can I be truly separate from the All? Of course not. Impossible to be All with separate parts; only possible to be Differentiated-All. So having established that I am different, yet within the Infinite, I can only determine that my ego, like my body, is merely a tool for growing my conscious awareness. And it isn’t even my consciousness that I’m growing; it is the Consciousness of that which I AM, being revealed via the rituals of growth-of-the-self through the various levels of awareness.

My choices, set in motion eons before my today-existence, will lead me to my infinite goal: transcendence, the eventual awareness of and joining with Supra-consciousness, because my choices are, in fact, God-choices instilled in me at the moment of my soul-birth – at the moment of differentiation of the Divine. It can be no other way: I Am That.

Our individual actions, pursuits and goals must be seen in their true light; they were put into place and their outcome determined by that supreme Force behind and within all. All that we are and all that we do in each detail of our lives as differentiated entities are the indivisible manifestations of the One. Our choices, although seemingly independent, will eventually be recognized as the orchestration of divine Will through all of Life.

When we can sufficiently get our minds around this concept there is peace; a peace that arrives through recognition of a harmonious, loving Presence dictating our movements. We can release our fears, knowing that divine Will acting down through the ages has continued the Unity of its creation, the Harmony of its design and the Benevolence of its actions. This is apparent not only in the continuity, balance and correspondence of the cosmos, the macrocosm, but in the collectivity of its creations, right down into the very soul of every human.

From birth we have been hard-wired to God, in a manner of speaking. A divine Particle lies within each God-Differentiation, within you and me, rooted within each, yet tied, pristine and inviolate, to the Alpha and Omega of Life’s purpose. This embedded Particle is the belief in our perfection; a belief that drives us constantly onward to a more harmonious existence. This is the true law of attraction, and that which drives our choices: a Center of being that desires only more of Itself expressed.

The only freedom in our will is an acceptance of divine Will as our right and joyous nature. Why would we ask for more?

THE GIFT OF AGING

•March 9, 2015 • Leave a Comment

A recent Time Magazine shows a child on the cover with the caption: THIS BABY COULD LIVE TO BE 142 YEARS OLD. Ah, science!

My first thought was: How would I feel at 142 years of age? I am now 73; how would I feel today if I knew I could live another 70 years or more? Of course, it’s a moot point as that baby will grow up with different beliefs than I have. With the belief in a much longer lifespan comes the strength, endurance and health that must accompany that longer life, to say nothing of the desire to enjoy the body for many more years than is now seemingly possible.

These thoughts came at a very appropriate time in my life as this week marks another of those celebrations of living we call ‘birthdays’, which, in my family are a great cause for get-togethers. This week I am that cause.

As a synchronous aside, I was reading Joel Goldsmith’s “Practicing the Presence” last night in which he states this about our bodies.

“Life is an activity of consciousness reflected by the body, but life is not in the body. Love, peace, health, wholeness and perfection are all activities of consciousness. There lies all power. . . .We are not the body; the body is an instrument for our locomotion at this particular moment . . . Instead of trying to hold on to this form of body, we hold on to the truth of our own identity, and the body is maintained harmoniously.”

Using Goldsmith’s enlightened wisdom it would appear that we could harmoniously maintain a body for 140 years or more – if so desired. In order to do that we would have to see the activity of the body as the invisible Spirit of God in us. This activity of Consciousness would then appear as peace, harmony, joy and love – expressed through the body – for as many years as we held the thought.

And this led me back to the wonder of maintaining this body for many additional years, which segued my thinking into the ever-present mystery of duality and how much importance we place in the body. The more I learn of Spirit, the more I long for Oneness. But it would seem that the only true Oneness would be letting go of the body. I have read of mystics who express Oneness while still in bodies, but my awareness isn’t anywhere near to theirs.

Letting go of the body is, of course, a euphemism for death. I don’t think I fear death – at least not today when I feel so full of Life – but how will I feel in later years when my body doesn’t function as smoothly as it does today? I recognize in the aging process that I have lost much of my thirty-year-old exuberance. This doesn’t surprise me; it’s an awareness that creeps up as slowly as youth-filled euphoria recedes.

Could this be a blessing in disguise? Perhaps the aging process is God’s gift as a way of slowly releasing my hold, my need for the body to perform in certain ways – often merely to maintain an ego-image. As the physical needs and desires of my youth call to me less frequently, it is increasingly easier to release the strong hold I have on my body.

Aging then becomes a pleasure as I dissolve more of the illusion of the body and duality. Not that separation from God has ever been a possibility, but it is the strength of the belief in the body that keeps us “feeling” separate.

Another joy has taken hold with this idea: When the time comes I don’t have to TRY to release my hold on my body; in fact, trying only adds guilt to my inability to do it. But by releasing guilt and holding to my joy in Spirit, the body loses its importance naturally.

It is my newest pleasure to grow old peacefully.

 
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