18 August  2015      

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An Urgent Wake-Up Call
Stephen C. Paul

An Excerpt from Letting Go
Morrie Schwartz

tom walsh

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Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them.

Ann Landers

If you keep on saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet.

Isaac Bashevis Singer

Love the moment and the energy of the moment will spread beyond all boundaries.

Corita Kent

I want to know what passion is.
I want to feel something strongly.

Aldous Huxley


An Urgent Wake-Up Call to Live More Simply, Harmoniously, and Respectfully
Stephen C. Paul

On November 23rd, 1993 Native American prophecy was fulfilled when a delegation representing the North American indigenous nations addressed a gathering at the United Nations building in New York. Hopi prophecies had directed messengers to knock four times on the imposing doors of the UN in an attempt to deliver an appeal to the peoples of the world. The messengers began knocking in 1948. It took 45 years for the last living messenger to finally gain access. The Cry of the Earth Conference resulted from that fourth—and final—knock. Native American elders took that opportunity to deliver the prophecies of their spiritual leaders concerning the state of the earth and the people living upon it.

Their message was clear and very simple: The long-predicted time of purification is already under way. The elders pleaded that we heed The Creator’s original instructions to the indigenous peoples and voluntarily return to living in more simple, harmonious, and respectful ways. The prophecies warned that, should we choose to ignore this message, erratic weather patterns, earth movements, starvation, violence, and war would occur with ever-increasing frequency and intensity.

We live at a time when Native American prophecies and contemporary scientific predictions are converging and manifesting before our eyes. When we read the morning paper or watch the evening news, we are literally witnessing those predicted events unfold. While there are occasional, encouraging, isolated bright spots of technological advance and humanitarian action, I still see very little evidence that we are seriously heeding the warnings.

My purpose is to reissue that call. I am asking each of you to voluntarily commit to living in ways that are simpler, more respectful, and more harmonious—more in line with The Creator’s original instructions. You, as an individual, must choose how you will respond. Will you voluntarily make the required changes in your lifestyle? If you do, there’s no question that it will have a positive affect on you, the people around you, and the earth upon which you live. You will bring the benefits of simplicity, harmony, and respect into your own personal life. You will prepare yourself to pass through the predicted challenges ahead more successfully and with greater ease and grace. In addition, you will provide a muchneeded positive example for others to follow.

I have written this four part article to help you implement your commitment. In the first two parts, I suggest a number of specific steps you can take to achieve a greater simplicity—both internal and external—in you life.

Part I: Five Steps to Simplify Your Inner World

Any unresolved issues you carry inside can distort your perceptions of the world, inhibit your personal options, and make you more vulnerable to stressful life events. You’ve probably heard the saying, "Wherever you go, there you are." Well, it’s absolutely true. In order to live more fully, and flow more fluidly with disruptive changes, it is essential that you free yourself of any remaining unresolved issues.

Step 1: Release your attachments

I believe this is the most important internal change you can make. Imagine strands of your energy running out from you to all the people and things you rely on to define your identity. One strand may run to a person you love, another to your car, and still a third to your music collection. Some may stretch back in time to people who let you down, while others might reach far into the future, tied to an aspiration or desired possession. Strands might even run to your own body (how you look), or to your thoughts and beliefs (religion, politics, etc.). We can attach ourselves to anything. . . and we do.

Buddha said that we suffer because of our desires and attachments. We attach ourselves to people, things, and outcomes as if they were extensions of ourselves. Then we hold on very tightly (using words, actions, and our will). If another person must respond with the "right" expression, answer, or behavior in order for you to be "happy" or "okay," then you are definitely attached. If events must turn out in a particular way—match the picture in your head—in order for you to be "okay," you are attached. If you still carry unresolved feelings about something that happened in the recent or distant past, you are attached. Those attachments handicap you by causing you to resist change or avoid making choices that might jeopardize a desired outcome.

The only solution is to let go. You must draw back—from your side—the strands of energy that you extend to hold, influence, or control people, things, and outcomes for your own ends. You must let everything and everyone go free.

There are a number of ways to go about releasing attachments. Satchidananda offers a comprehensive Eastern approach in The Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali and John Randolph Price presents a Western version in A Spiritual Philosophy for the New World. I describe my own set of eight release steps on my website (www.circledancer.com) in an article titled Releasing Attachments. If you discover that you need additional help with this process, some therapists and members of the clergy are able to provide assistance.

Ultimately, we let go of everyone and everything—we die. According to most spiritual traditions, the sooner you release your attachments, the more peace and ease you have in this life. The Native American prophecies provide a little extra incentive. It will be a lot easier to adapt to a changing world once you free yourself.

Step 2: Face and resolve your issues

Another powerful way to simplify your life and prepare for change is to solve any unresolved personal issues (fears, anxieties, judgments, reactions, addictions, compulsions, depression, etc.). The increasing stress and challenge presented during the difficult times ahead is likely to intensify your unresolved issues, making it even harder for you to operate effectively. You would be wise to resolve those issues before those external pressures mount.

Most issues can be resolved by bringing them fully into your awareness, facing and accepting them, and then taking any required actions (e.g., learning a new approach to managing stress). It’s likely that your unresolved issues have already been brought to your attention. If so, perhaps you dismissed them (e.g., I only drink on weekends.) or even defended them (e.g., If you didn’t do what you do, I wouldn’t react the way I do). Winston Churchill noted that we often stumble over the truth, but we quickly pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and hurry on our way. I strongly encourage you to stop and acknowledge the issues that repeatedly trip you up.

You may be able face and resolve your issues on your own, using methods such as introspection, meditation, or journaling. You might even be able to address the issues that arise in your relationship—with your partner’s help. However, if you have trouble facing an issue, or coming up with the means to handle it, you may want to seek the help of a counselor. It always makes sense to remove a rock from your shoe rather than limp along with it, but that’s especially true when the road ahead is likely to be rough and full of unknown twists and turns.

Step 3: Tell the truth

Your personal power comes through representing your true self in the world. Your power with others lies in their being able to count on you and to trust in you. Any lie diminishes your credibility in this world. . . and it diminishes you. Tell the truth at all times, and under all conditions—without exception.

Step 4: Reduce your dependency

In a dependent relationship, another person (a lover, a parent, a child) appears to control the availability of something you desire. That desired thing can be almost anything, but most often it tends to be acceptance, love, or financial support. Dependency occurs when you surrender your own personal power and control in an attempt to obtain the thing you desire. Then, you and the other person both end up feeling bound, unfulfilled, and resentful.

The only way out of dependency is by becoming independent. You are independent when you are willing and able to make your own choices, regardless of the reactions and responses of others. Independence also requires being willing and able to stand alone on your own two feet (e.g., take care of yourself financially).

One of the best indicators of whether you are independent is whether you are willing to address issues that arise in your relationships. If you are reluctant to express the truth to a friend, a colleague, or a partner, you are probably in a dependent relationship. Your life will be very complicated if there are unexpressed negative feelings or unresolved issues present in your relationships. Say what you need to say and make certain you avoid the binding ties of dependency.

Step 5: Remain light-hearted

I saw the Dalai Lama when he visited Salt Lake a few years ago. He walked out on the stage, and everyone in the audience lit up. That didn’t happen because of his importance as a spiritual or political leader. It happened because he came out grinning so excitedly, waving so lovingly. . . with his socks falling down. His lightheartedness was absolutely contagious. I know the Dalai Lama was fully aware of all of the suffering in the world. I’m also certain he was under tremendous pressure to meet with the crowds and deliver his teachings that day. Still, he remained exuberantly light-hearted. It didn’t diminish him one bit, and it elevated all the rest of us.

There is suffering in this world, and maybe even in you own life. According to Native prophecies, it’s likely there will be more. But, your anger, discouragement, and sadness will not diminish that suffering. It will only aggravate and amplify it. It will rob you and those around you of the possibility of perceiving the joy and love that exist right along side the suffering. Be the lightheartedness that brightens even the most difficult times.

* * * * *

Read Part II next week!  Read about Stephen C. Paul here.  We thank Stephen for his permission to use this article in its entirety.  You can read more by him at his website at circledancer.com.


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An excerpt from Letting Go
Morrie Schwartz

I think so many of us are too hard on ourselves for what we didn't accomplish or what we should have done.  The first step is to forgive yourself for all the things you didn't do that you should have and all the things that you did do that you shouldn't have.  Get rid of the guilt.  Negative feelings don't do you much good.  The way to deal with them is to forgive yourself and forgive others.

Forgiveness is a tricky term.  It does not only mean that you apologize, although regretting what you did is part of it.  You may want to make amends if you can, but there are some circumstances where there is nothing more you can do.  Even when you cannot mend fences with others, you need to tell yourself:  "Yes, I did it and it would have been better if I hadn't, but now I want to forgive myself for having done that negative deed."

Forgiveness helps you come to terms with the past.  I've learned how to forgive myself, and this has helped me no longer feel deep regrets or sadness about my past.

For twenty years, I went around feeling terrible about the fact that I had treated a colleague very meanly.  He was in an organization with me, and I did not want to lead a group with him.  For all those years I carried around the guilt that I had been unkind to him and that it wasn't right.  When I saw him again recently, I went up to him and said, "Look, I've carried this burden for twenty years.  I really feel terribly apologetic for what I said and did to you, and I really want to ask your forgiveness."

He said, "Oh, it's perfectly all right.  I remember the time when I was feeling dejected and low and you put your arm around me and were comforting."

I felt tears in my eyes because of the generous way he responded to me and the relief I felt.

There's a difference between using your past and wallowing in it.  Say I had an experience with a nasty person and I got nasty back, but I don't want to be that way anymore.  I can use that experience to work out a different response whenever someone is not so pleasant to me.  If I don't like my reaction, I can change my response.

You can review your past, benefit from your successes, and learn from your mistakes without judging yourself.  This is an excellent time to do a life review, to make amends, identify and let go of regrets, come to terms with unresolved relationships, and tie up loose ends.

To his family and friends--and to the millions who saw him interviewed three times by Ted Koppel on Nightline--Morrie Schwartz became an inspiration because of his willingness to talk openly about the intimate aspects of facing imminent death.  Letting go offers Morrie's remarkable philosophy on living and dying.  It is a compassionate, unforgettable guide to caring for the mind and spirit when the body grows frail.



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For years, the people of Canyon Bluff have shared the stories of the Nogglz, their own version of the monsters in the closet. "If you don't behave, the Nogglz will come and get you and carry you down into the mines," they've told their children. Of course, they were just stories. Nobody could have stayed alive in an old mine for six decades. But when one of their own is brutally murdered one cold November night, it may be time to come to terms with the sins of their fathers and their own ties to the town's dreadful past. And for the sheriff and his deputy and the state troopers who are called to the town to deal with the murder, an ordinary day becomes an extraordinary battle for simple survival.
Sometimes I write things just to tell a story, but I just can't help mentioning some life lessons, even in a novel about creatures running amok in an old mining town in the Colorado mountains.  Nogglz is available in print by clicking here, or as a Kindle e-book by using the link to the left.  Using the mining town as the setting is a tribute to my mother, who grew up in a tiny mining town herself, and who has never left there in her heart.


The people who are living on this planet need to break with the narrow
concept of human liberation, and begin to see liberation as something
that needs to be extended to the whole of the natural world.  What is
needed is the liberation of all things that support life--the air, the water,
the trees--all the things which support the sacred web of life.

from the Haudenosaunee address to the western world, 1977




I had a strategy many years ago when I was working on two master's degrees at the same time.  I would do my work for my M.A. in English during the day, and I would teach the classes I was teaching during the day, also.  In the evenings, I had my classes for my educational administration degree.  During those two years, then, I was extremely busy and I was dealing with an awful lot of stress, as you can probably imagine.

But I had something going for me.  During those two years, there were two television programs that were on between four and five every afternoon:  Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures.  Now, I'm not a huge fan of television at all, but during those two years, that hour became very important to me.  For those sixty minutes, I was able to laugh and to relax as I watched these programs, and this was a fact that I'm sure contributed a great deal to my successful completion of the two programs.  It didn't matter to me a bit that most people saw them as "children's" programs; because I watched them regularly, I knew that most of the humor in the programs was extremely adult in nature.  And besides, what other people think should almost never cause us to make decisions about what we're going to do with our own lives.

I also like to read comic strips, especially right before I go to sleep.  There's something comforting about ending my day on a humorous note rather than reading something stressful or informative--right before I go to sleep, I don't want to have any violence or learning in my brain.  Sleep should be about sleep, and I certainly don't want to read anything that will cause me to have nightmares or to get my brain running around in circles.


How tremendously valuable is the power of joy and laughter to enliven our
soul as we go forward to meet our goals.  Laughter can lift us over the high
ridges and lighten up the dark valleys in a way that makes life much easier.
A happy heart generates a forcefield of love and joy in which doubt, fear,
disaster, and dismay have no power to interrupt the universal flow of good.
And in some instances, laughter has been considered to be a high form of
prayer!  Truly, when you are in the consciousness of the joy of spirit,
you are praying from the very heart of your being.

John Marks Templeton

There are many physical benefits to laughter.  When we laugh well, according to the Mayo Clinic website, we soothe tension, activate and relieve our stress response, stimulate many organs, improve our immune systems, relieve pain, increase personal satisfaction and improve our moods.  Our spirits, too, benefit from laughter.  When we laugh, we see the world more brightly, and our problems grow smaller and more manageable when they're in a new context.

Many people choose not to laugh much.  When they choose reading material, they choose murder mysteries or crime dramas or romance novels, none of which are necessarily bad, but which should be balanced out with a healthy dose of humor now and then.  Likewise, many people choose to watch television shows and movies that focus on killing and extreme violence, and they fill their minds and hearts with images of other people suffering at the hands of sadistic killers.  Again, this is something that needs to be balanced with humor--we have enough tension in our regular lives, so why do we choose to fill our minds and spirits with tension when we seek out "entertainment"?

Even many of our so-called "comedies" are focused on a type of humor that's insulting and demeaning to others--the makers expect us to laugh at someone cutting another person down, someone insulting another, someone hurting someone else.  This type of negative humor actually adds to our stress because as we watch it, we can't help but think--at least on a subconscious level--that someone might be saying those same insulting things about us.  Personally, for example, I can't stand to watch episodes of Home Improvement because so much of the humor is based on demeaning and insulting others. 

Wholehearted, ready laughter heals, encourages, relaxes anyone
within hearing distance.  The laughter that springs from love makes
wide the space around it--gives room for the loved one to enter in.
Real laughter welcomes, and never shuts out.

Eugenia Price

In many ways, laughter also helps us to learn about the world around us.  I'm sure that we've all experienced hearing someone laugh at seeing someone else be harmed or embarrassed, and we all of a sudden know something more about the person who has laughed at someone else's misfortune.  We can learn about ourselves this way, too--by finding out what we laugh at.  Are we the type of person who finds it funny when someone gets hurt?  Do we find it amusing when another person has an extremely embarrassing moment?

We have to ask ourselves an important question:  From whom have we learned about what to laugh at?  When I was young, I learned that other people's misfortune was funny, and I grew up laughing when I witnessed incidents when other people failed at something or got hurt.  As an adult, though, I was fortunate enough to have friends who helped me to see that this was harmful to others--not only does someone have to deal with failure or embarrassment, but they also have to deal with being laughed at--ridiculed--now.  I want to be the person who helps someone else with encouragement and support, not someone who helps to tear another person down with mocking laughter.

Nothing shows our character more than what we laugh at.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There will always be the people who say, "You need to lighten up."  They say this because they're people who laugh at other people's misfortunes, and they think that everyone else should, also, because that's the way they see the world.  But I really don't need to "lighten up."  I see more humor in the world than most people I know--I just choose to focus on the humor that's healthy and intelligent rather than the humor that's directed at people's lower natures.

Sometimes we don't see the world in a humorous way, but even in our most dire misfortunes, we still have the ability to find laughter.  And of course, there's a season for everything, times when laughter might simply be inappropriate or unhelpful--and we must respect those times and not try to force laughter in where it doesn't belong.  But in most of our lives, laughter is an important element that can be extremely helpful to us, and it's well worth our while to search it out and practice it as much as we can.  Our lives will certainly be brighter when we do.

More on laughter.


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When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in its beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.   I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.  And I feel above me day-blind stars waiting for their light.  For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

Oren Lyons was the first Onandagan to enter college.  When he returned to his reservation for his first vacation, his uncle proposed a fishing trip on a lake.  Once he had his nephew in the middle of the lake where he wanted him, he began to interrogate him.  "Well, Oren," he said, "you've been to college; you must be pretty smart now from all they've been teaching you.  Let me ask you a question.  Who are you?"

Taken aback by the question, Oren fumbled for an answer.  "What do you mean, who am I?  Why, I'm your nephew, of course."  His uncle rejected his answer and repeated his question.  Successively, the nephew ventured that he was Oren Lyons, an Onandagan, a human being, a man, a young man, all to no avail.

When his uncle had reduced him to silence and he asked to be informed as to who he was, his uncle said, "Do you see that bluff over there?  Oren, you are that bluff.  And that giant pine on the other shore?  Oren, you are that pine.  And this water that supports our boat?  You are this water."

Huston Smith

When we are afraid of someone or something, it is because we do not feel
that particular person or thing is a part of us.  When we have established
conscious oneness with the Absolute, with the Infinite Vast, then
everything there is part of us.  And how can we be afraid of ourselves?

Sri Chinmoy


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