“…the celestial tree of love…”

I think we all have known the feeling that we finally understand love.

I think we all have known the feeling that we’ll never understand love.

I think most folks have had periods when they’ve oscillated between these states—sometimes within hours or minutes of each other…

My personal experience is that the only reliable and fertile understanding of love is what our highest spiritual traditions have bestowed.

Today’s Excerpts:

O SON OF LOVE! Thou art but one step away from the glorious heights above and from the celestial tree of love. Take thou one pace and with the next advance into the immortal realm and enter the pavilion of eternity. Give ear then to that which hath been revealed by the pen of glory.

Bahá’u’lláh: The Hidden Words, Persian #7

The essence of love is for man to turn his heart to the Beloved One, and sever himself from all else but Him, and desire naught save that which is the desire of his Lord.

Bahá’u’lláh: Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, “Asl-i-Kullu’l-Khayr” or “Words of Wisdom”, p. 155

Be most loving one to another. Burn away, wholly for the sake of the Well-Beloved, the veil of self with the flame of the undying Fire, and with faces joyous and beaming with light, associate with your neighbor.

Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection CXLVII, p. 316

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~ Unleash The Life Within ~
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Prayer . . .

A brief exploration of prayer from a few of the world’s religions and spiritual traditions:

“Beware lest ye harm any soul, or make any heart to sorrow; lest ye wound any man with your words, be he known to you or a stranger, be he friend or foe. Pray ye for all; ask ye that all be blessed, all be forgiven.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 73

“Then said I, Abraham prayed first for the Sodomites, and
Moses for the fathers that sinned in the wilderness…”

Deuterocanonical Apocrypha, Esdras 2 (Ezra 4)

“The bird of God, who at the portal sits?
Behoves so long that Heaven first bear me round
Without its limits, as in life it bore;
Because I, to the end, repentant sighs
Delay’d; if prayer do not aid me first,
That riseth up from heart which lives in grace.
What other kind avails, not heard in Heaven?”

Divine Comedy of Dante (Henry Cary tr), Purgatory Canto  4

“Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.”

King James Bible, Acts 8:22

“It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.”

LDS (Mormon), The Pearl of Great Price

“She can hardly conceive of a person in full spiritual health whose life is not one of prayer.”

St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel

“An offering, consisting of muttered prayers, is ten times more efficacious than a sacrifice performed according to the rules (of the Veda); a (prayer) which is inaudible (to others) surpasses it a hundred times, and the mental (recitation of sacred texts) a thousand times.”

Hindu, Laws of Manu – 85

“O ye who believe! seek help with patience and with prayer, for God is with the patient.”

The Qur’an (Rodwell tr), Sura   2 – The Cow

“LORD, in trouble have they sought Thee, silently they poured out a prayer when Thy chastening was upon them. Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been at Thy presence, O LORD.”

Nev’im (Prophets), Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 26,16-17

“Now, being equipped with this lofty Morality, equipped with this noble Control of the Senses, and filled with this noble Attentiveness and Clear Consciousness, he chooses a secluded dwelling in the forest, at the foot of a tree, on a mountain, in a cleft, in a rock cave, on a burial ground, on a woody table-land, in the open air, or on a heap of straw. Having returned from his alms-round, after the meal, he sits himself down with legs crossed, body erect, with attentiveness fixed before him.”

The Eightfold Path, Buddha,  the Word

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~ Unleash The Life Within ~
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Mercy . . .



Just a brief exploration of mercy from a few of the world’s religions and spiritual traditions:

Mercy is what we get when faults are overlooked.

That which Allah openeth unto mankind of mercy none can withhold it; and that which He withholdeth none can release thereafter. He is the Mighty, the Wise.
The Qur’an (Pickthall tr), Sura 35 – The Creator

Justice itself can be a Mercy.

God, however, as has been pointed out in the very beginning of these pages, does not only punish the wrongdoings of His children. He chastises because He is just, and He chastens because He loves. Having chastened them, He cannot, in His great mercy, leave them to their fate. Indeed, by the very act of chastening them He prepares them for the mission for which He has created them. “My calamity is My providence,” He, by the mouth of Bahá’u’lláh, has assured them, “outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy.”
Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 115

Sometimes, humans use apparent mercy to entrap others.

Therefore, the truly great man does not injure others and does not credit himself with charity and mercy.
Tao, Chuangtse (Lin Yutang tr)

We certainly could use more human mercy in our world !

Bounty waits on squalid hunger, gifts dispel the suppliant’s fear,
Gold revives the poor and lowly, mercy wipes the mourner’s tear,
Tender care relieves the stricken by the gracious king’s command,
Charity with loving sweetness spreads her smile o’er all the land!
Hindu, Mababharata (R. Dutt, abridged tr)

It’s our duty as spiritual beings to be merciful.

This is the hour when ye must associate with all the earth’s peoples in extreme kindliness and love, and be to them the signs and tokens of God’s great mercy. Ye must become the very soul of the world, the living spirit in the body of the children of men.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 20

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~ Unleash The Life Within ~
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Fighting War With NonViolence

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“It is my hope that this standard of the oneness of the world of humanity may be upraised with the utmost solidity so that the Orient and Occident may become perfectly reconciled and attain complete intercommunication, the hearts of the East and West become united and attracted, real union become unveiled, the light of guidance shine, divine effulgences be seen day by day so that the world of humanity may find complete tranquillity, the eternal happiness of man become evident and the hearts of the people of the world be as mirrors in which the rays of the Sun of Reality may be reflected. Consequently, it is my request that you should strive so that the light of reality may shine and the everlasting felicity of the world of man become apparent.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 12


Do you feel like world peace is a fantasy? Here’s an excerpt from the article, Has Your Town Declared Peace Yet?, from a site named YES!, back in April of 2006:

“…citizens in 32 Wisconsin cities, towns, and villages had cast ballots for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Voters in tiny villages in the North Woods and the Door Peninsula, in the regional urban centers of Madison and La Crosse, and in the small cities that are the heart of the Badger State, sent a clear message.”

If you read that with a bit of skepticism because they “declared” peace in 2006 and the war is still raging, realize that each and every attempt to Wage Peace does add up. Also, the more individuals do take action, the faster the sum of all actions will bring Global Peace…

Waging Peace is not a new concept and the power of nonviolence is a Force More Powerful than the hate and rancor of violence. One of the big reasons there’s still war is simply because not enough people are waging peace…

And, just to add to your understanding that you can Wage Peace, check out this excerpt from Peace Brigades International:

“PBI is an international NGO that has been promoting nonviolence and protecting human rights since 1981. The founders of PBI shared a profound conviction that ordinary people can take action to stop war and human rights violations even when their governments cannot or will not.”

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~ Unleash The Life Within ~
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Big Green Purse ~ A Book & A Crusade

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What realizes and promotes the fact that 85 cents of every dollar spent in the marketplace is spent by a woman and that big business responds faster to consumer demand than any other market force?

Answer:

Grist, an environmental journalism site, has a compelling article on the book Big Green Purse and its author, Diane MacEachern, a longtime conservationist.

Just a few Q&As from the riveting interview:

question There’s this notion out there that you can save the world by buying all this stuff — as long as it’s green.

answer In every single chapter, the very first suggestion is buy less, consume less, reduce — clearly we have to cut back on the total amount of stuff that’s being produced. But I do think that being a conscious consumer is a very powerful tool, because consumer dollars are the lifeblood of manufacturers. So we can either use them to tell manufacturers what to make or we can just continue to let manufacturers tell us what to buy.

question Do you feel like environmentalists have been too quick to dismiss shopping as a route to change?

answer I think that the power of green consumerism has not been harnessed by the environmental movement. You’ve got all kinds of companies wanting to be green and natural and eco-friendly, and you’ve got the environmental movement saying, “Whatever you do, don’t buy anything.” … The light bulbs are a perfect example … people have to change their light bulbs anyway, so why not buy the option that makes the most sense? If you have people sit in the dark, that’s literally a turn-off.

question Does your book address the challenges of buying green on a budget?

answer First of all, there’s so much cushion in people’s budget that they don’t realize. People will say to me, “I can’t buy organic; it’s too expensive,” and then I look in their refrigerator and it’s full of bottled water. They may be spending $10 to $15 a week on bottled water, but they don’t want to spend $6 for a gallon of organic milk.

question How can the environmental movement change its message to be more effective?
answer I do think some groups are doing a pretty good job in starting to provide information … but now I think the next step is to start getting the message out to people who aren’t necessarily in the environmental community. We don’t need to talk to other environmentalists; we need to talk to garden clubs and women’s clubs and church groups and all these people who are not as fully aware of what the opportunity is.

What would be great is if Safeway would put an environmental spokesperson in the store. “On Saturday, as you’re coming through the store, there’s going to be these five people wearing green vests, and if you have any questions about green shopping, you can ask them.” Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

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~ Unleash The Life Within ~
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Detachment Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry…

“We can appreciate without attaching ourselves to the things of this world. It sometimes happens that if a man loses his fortune he is so disheartened that he dies or becomes insane. While enjoying the things of this world we must remember that one day we shall have to do without them.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 134

I’m featuring two recent posts from UrbanMonk.net, both dealing with the widely recognized (and, frequently misunderstood) spiritual principle of Detachment.

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The first post, Attachment: Understanding the Origen of Human Suffering, contains these ideas:

“This teaching is marvelous, for there is nothing in there that cannot be verified simply by looking into your own experience. Look deeply into your own life, the times you have cried, the times you have raged. What was the cause of it all? The next time you are in pain, pause, and look. Ask yourself – why? What am I holding on to?

“Without attachment, suffering does not exist. Let go of your attachments, little by little. By and by you will see the freedom, the happiness that is there.”

“We have spent so much of our lives, every waking moment, following desire. We expend huge amounts of energy and time; we make extreme sacrifices, in the hope of finding happiness by attaining them. But as Lorne Ladner says in The Lost Art of Compassion, rarely does it occur to us the very way we go about seeking happiness has been causing our problems.”

There is much more of interest !

Part Two, How Our Cravings and Attachments Cause Our Pain and Suffering, goes even deeper into this vital spiritual principle:

“…when we crave, when we cling, we do not see people as they are. We are projecting our neediness, our sorrows – all the garbage inside us – onto them. And it is an insult. For them not to be seen as a human being; but for what they can do for us. Make me feel good, make me feel loved, make me feel safe, feed me, take care of me, impress my friends. That is all they are reduced to – a function, a service.

“And it is just as likely they are doing it to us too, and then what do we have? Not two human beings together, but two images, two roles, two cardboard cut-outs. Where has the humanity gone? This is so cruel, and yet so painstakingly common that it simply seems normal.”

“A rich man could have everything he wanted, and enjoy them all the more without the cravings, the attachments. There is nothing wrong with having most of the things we desire. Naturally, some cravings are just plain nasty – wanting to hurt another person is a fine example. But if you want money, or love, or any of those, then go for it. Does removing your attachment to health mean you stop exercising, stop looking after yourself?

“Most definitely not! Chasing new joys, setting new goals, all of these can still be pursued, but from a place of freedom, and not from the unease of craving.”

There is also much more of interest in this second post of the series !

Reading the full articles would reap great spiritual profit;  just be careful you don’t become attached to what’s said… 

“Our greatest efforts must be directed towards detachment from the things of the world; we must strive to become more spiritual, more luminous, to follow the counsel of the Divine Teaching, to serve the cause of unity and true equality, to be merciful, to reflect the love of the Highest on all men, so that the light of the Spirit shall be apparent in all our deeds, to the end that all humanity shall be united, the stormy sea thereof calmed, and all rough waves disappear from off the surface of life’s ocean henceforth unruffled and peaceful.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 87


Thunderbird Magic

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Today’s post is a gift from Liara Covert who writes the Dream Builders blog. She shows us that ancient myths are alive and well, inside each of us…

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The Thunderbird legend is timeless. Some people believe it began as a myth of Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest and the Great Lakes. Yet, the legend spread much wider.  This great creature has been sighted by non-native people on many different continents.

Native American myths suggest the sizable Thunderbird is a guardian Spirit with innate power to influence changes in the elements and energy shifts, in everything. It has penetrating vision and even changes form to help regenerate and stabilize the energy grids of the Earth.

Legend says the magical creature flew with a whole whale in its claws and saved a Chilkat tribe from starvation. As lightning shoots out from its eyes and thunder pearls from its wings, you might imagine everyone would hear it coming.  Wisdom reveals the depth of your faith and the nature of your beliefs determine all you will sense and experience.

As it happens, the Lakota and other tribes believe that if you have repeated dreams of birds, the medicine or “alternative healing way” is part of your destiny. Yet, if you envision a Thunderbird, you are destined to be a ‘Heyoka,’ that is, to learn to channel and heal with electromagnetic energy.

According to Laughing Deer in the Encylopedia Mythica, Heyoka is “one who does things backwards or opposite…Spirit chooses who is Heyoka; it is a very difficult path to follow.”

Of course, difficulty is relative. Conditioning may have also taught you choose your own destiny. With this in mind, you’re never alone. Discerning that the Thunderbird serves the Great Spirit beyond enables you to realize you are also guided in ways you hadn’t foreseen by forces you have yet to understand.

Some people believe a Heyoka is a trickster to be feared, ridiculed and revered. Negative perception does not recognize illusion is part of the teaching medicine of Heyoka. Human beings won’t grasp life in the same way. Heyoka practices are sacred and have magical meanings that carry over into your life. Will you be empowered to shift your consciousness?

Heyokas are said to embody divine strength. They are trusted interpreters of dreams and heal with innate insights that even they themselves underestimate. They may unexpectedly enter your dreams or your apparent reality. Why? To remind you not to get too serious about your current mental state, physical form, thoughts and beliefs. Human beings are encouraged to be humble, to detach from their conditions and to recognize Spirit wields all power. You only determine how you will react to a given set of impermanent circumstances.

Thunderbird magic itself relates back to the mythical bird’s role as a catalyst in the lives of human beings.  It triggers revelation, transformation and energy shifts beyond superficial perception. Heyoka behavior, awakened by the Thunderbird, defies the status quo to awaken your senses to change your own behavior. The magic you hold within yourself enables you to initiate changes at the cellular level of your being. Thunderbird magic leads you back to rediscover the dormant magic within yourself.

After all, from birth, you master the art of producing your own illusions. Your perception is full of them. By extraordinary or mystical influence, you produce desired effects or results in every area of your life. How much of this do you realize? Supernatural elements are forces of your own nature. Thunderbird magic opens a doorway into another dimension of your soul.  As you raise your awareness, you prepare to explore infinity.