Tag Archives: The Bible

Casting Off

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mother portrait

A new cycle was beginning.

Jean, our hospice nurse, spent time examining mother. She spoke with confidence and gentleness to my mother. Everything had changed. Since the episode a night earlier, Mother was now too weak to leave her bed. She was confined by her own weakness. Her world began to change. Only days earlier, she had sat in her wheel chair, eaten a normal meal and laughed with us in another room. That was to be her last foray outside of her bedroom and her last burst of energy. Everything was shrinking – her appetite, her mobility, and her own body. But her mind was still quite acute. There was no way I was giving up on her. I still thought she and I could get her through this, despite what the doctors and hospice said.

After Jean took time to get acquainted with Mother, she asked all of us to join her in another room. The mood was sombre as we listened intently. Now we were in the world of hospice, a very foreign country to all of us. Already installed in Mother’s room was the humming oxygen machine to assist her breathing when needed. We had refused bringing in a hospital bed, wanting mother to be in her own usual bed.

Jean explained what it meant to have palliative care. She showed us the powerful drugs, like morphine and lorazepam (for anxiety) that would be available for Mother to help ease her through the process. Luckily, Mom was not in pain, and we were grateful for this. Jean warned us that we should not count on our memory to remember when and how much medication Mother was given. We should have a journal. My brother, the ever organized and with a Navy pilot thoroughness, prepared the journal for us.

I made the decision immediately that I would be the only one to give Mother the heavy drugs. I was still her protector and wanted to prevent her from being drugged unnecessarily. Then we learned of the array of other hospice workers who would be available to help. Ever polite and grateful, we walked Jean to the door, thanking her along the way.

When the door closed, we stood stunned but coping. Bill and Judy would soon be returning back home, but they knew they would never again hear Mother’s cheery voice or see her smile. Each took private time with her, holding back tears as best they could until they left the room. They also knew that this would be difficult for Richard and for me and asked us to call whenever we needed help, no matter the time of day or night.

The four of us talked as Mother rested, still with her ever faithful Siamese cat by her side. We agreed on the plans for the funeral and who would be called in Ann Arbor. This would be the key part bill and Judy would play as we held vigil. As we talked, Judy continued knitting the pretty pink afghan she had been making for Mother as a Christmas gift. The afghan was only partially made.

On the morning that Bill and Judy departed, I stood in the kitchen alone with my brother. He said, “Judy cast off the afghan last night and is leaving it for mother just as it is.” She cast off, a knitting term that was a kind of closure on the item being made. Casting off is also letting the ship or boat be free to go out to sea. Mother was casting off her life as she knew it, and we were with her. The destination seemed certain, but the final journey was not yet charted. That was to be revealed to all of us, along with the ethereal lessons and miracles.

Judy left the afghan draped over Mother’s shoulders as she laid in bed. I tried to keep it there as much as I could, placing it to warm her neck. It was a parting gift made with love. At the time Mom took her last breath, that pink afghan was still warming her. But then, Mother had cast off permanently. She was sailing through clear and vibrant seas, and free at last. Soon she would bring us along.

The 52: Lesson Fifty Two — And Finally and Only — Love

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butterflyblueskyLove surrounds you.  

Of this be sure.

You do not walk alone.

These words, from A Course in Miracles, form the essence of The 52.  It is first, last, and always, the only and most important Truth to know and believe. Recognize it at the core of your being.  It is the path to true freedom.  Love destroys fear and the insidious messages of the ego, which you may have mistakenly taken to be the truth.  But hatred, judgement, anger, and hostility have no power where Love resides.  The darkness has no power over the Light.  It never has and never will.

Don’t be mistaken, this is not some trivial, maudlin, sentimental kind of love — the kind you might find in typical movies and songs and romance novels.  It is beyond physical love and that between individuals, though this kind of love carries a seed of Divine Love.  This is big Love.  It is not dependent on fluctuations in temperament or on the way the world is evolving or on another person. It does not wax and wane. It is only about YOU and the Divine Consciousness within you.

LESSON FIFTY TWO

LOVE YOURSELF

The image of the blue butterfly soaring toward the light conveys what The 52 is meant to represent.  It reflects how we, as humans, seek to find freedom and peace and the ability to feel and express love.  Sometimes we are not aware of this longing, but, nonetheless, it is there. The butterfly transforms itself, from the caterpillar that crawls on the earth, to a beautiful creature with wings outspread, flying in freedom.  All of us, no matter how much we think we are tied to the earth, has the capacity and wisdom to take flight. We can experience metamorphosis, just like the butterfly.  Our wings may be folded now inside a cocoon, waiting.  But then Love will split the cocoon and we will all fly free into the Light of Eternal Love.  All of us!  No one is left behind!

Once this happens — when you have even a glimpse of this Light — you will never be the same again.  You will know, in the depth of your heart, who and what you are.  You will recognize that you are not alone in this journey.  This is my purpose in writing.  To tell you this and that I am with you as a fellow traveler.  Many others are with you.  We will all find each other, just as you have found this writing.

In the Chandogya Upanishad, an ancient book of spiritual writings from India, it is written:

There is a light that shines beyond all things on earth, beyond us all, beyond the heavens, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens.

This is the light that shines in our heart.

It isn’t out there, some where.  It isn’t beyond your grasp.  It doesn’t depend on who you are, your good deeds, your history, your “worthiness.” It is your “birthright,” given to you for all time.  It was there before you took birth.  It will be there when you take your last breath and depart this plane.  It is eternal.  And it is present in this very moment, as you read these words.  Even if you and your ego doubt it, Divine Love and Consciousness do not.  I believe in it now to the core of my being, even though there was a time when I would have laughed at the notion.  Others have found the same Truth and many may have expressed it with greater influence or more wisely, yet I believe that it is my purpose to share it.  It was illuminated to me as the greatest gift of my life. This gift is meant to be shared.

So, here I stand, firmly grounded and steadfast and soaring with this Truth.  You are Love.  Love is you.  Love is in everything you hear, see, taste, touch and smell.  Love is ever-present and a present to you. To deny this is tantamount to denying yourself and all that is.

“I love myself completely NOW.”  This was the affirmation of the first lesson of The 52.  And so it is also the last.  If you have embraced this, repeated it over and over, no matter the circumstances, you will, in fact be, lighter and happier than you were when you began.  I promised that, if you followed the course, you would be a lighter and happier you in 52 (weeks).  I hope that you are.

 These writings and my beliefs have been non-denominational and have been planted in the spiritual belief systems of all faiths, tribes, and philosophies, all of which, at the core, share Love as the common and most important center of teaching and knowing.  Here, from the Holy Bible, is a favorite of mine.  From I Corinthians 13:

Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

Believe in Love. Love never ends.  Not ever!

With love and namaste, Deanne

PLEASE STAY TUNED.  While this is the last of The 52, nest week’s post will bring a new announcement.

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Fifty One — Stop Searching. YOU Are the Destination

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butterflyblueskyGod is a great underground river that

no one can dam up and no one can stop.

                              Meister Eckhart

We search and search.  We study and pray.  We read books and scriptures.  We meditate. We question.  We doubt.  We avoid and negate. We humans are not passive about God, even when we actively deny the existence of some “thing” called God or the Infinite or the Source or the Creator.  Most of the greatest minds in the world — from many disciplines including  science and philosophy — have pondered the quintessential  questions about God.  Are we searching for meaning to our own existence, for something more than the mundane birth to death and day-to-day aspects of our life?  And for those of us who are seekers on the spiritual path, it may seem surprising to finally come to the conclusion that we, ourselves, turn out to be the destination we seek.  That all we had to do was knock on the door and the Light would emerge from within us.  Not from outside.

LESSON FIFTY ONE

WHERE IS GOD?

What we seek is seeking us.

So spoke the great Sufi poet/saint, Rumi.  He got it.  So did Jesus.  He said in Luke 17:21 (KJV):

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Yes!  Within you right now, just where God has always been.  Not in some throne up in the sky, sending out judgements that reflect only our own ego needs about judging and approval and sin and death.  After years of separating myself from a God belief that was based on a child’s view of God, I now see only the Eternal Light of Love springing from the one I care to call God.  It does not matter whether or not you agree with me.  I don’t seek to argue the logic of it.  For years, I postured and felt smug in my arguments against God. Now my belief system has left logic behind a long time ago.  Why? Because I had the experience of God, and the joy was so immense, there was no turning back.  It is odd that it does not matter what you believe.  The Divine is within all of us, no matter who we are, whatever our religion or lack of it. That is how immeasurable that Love is.

Swami Vivekananada wrote:

The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, 

the moment I stand before every human being and see God in him —

that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.

For those of us who wish to explore and look inward, this becomes both a great freedom and a change that alters our perception of the world.  How can we look upon another, seeing God’s Light equally in them, and still practice violence and prejudice and hatred?  They are us!  And we are all equal in this great Love from God.

We are not some unworthy, soiled piece of cloth.  The expectation of all true spiritual paths is that we transform our thinking, that we abandon notions that we are unforgivable and lacking and not the embodiment of love.  Most of us have wallowed in the pains of our own constructed world, not realizing that it is nothing more than a “play,” and, we, as actors in this play, still sit in the audience and extend love to our own false identity as the player.

As The 52 draws to a close, I believe that the suggestions in this lesson are among the most valued of all I have learned over twenty-five years of study, teaching, mystical experiences, and communion with the Divine.  While it took a little while for me to completely embrace and understand the relevance of what I write here, I can only say that peace has come and fear has diminished.  This can be true for you too.

Out beyond the ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

Rumi

Shall we make it a date?  I will look forward to meeting you there.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Forty Three — Tapas: The Flame of Change

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butterflyblueskyTapas.  Ah!  Spanish food!  But no, this is not the kind you eat at a Spanish restaurant — all those delicious “small” plates of food. But, in another way,  this kind of tapas is food too.  It is food for your soul and your eternal being.  In tapas, one might say we are “cooked” into something new.  We are “cracked open” so a greater understanding can emerge.

Tapas is a Sanskrit word that describes yet another of the niyamas, the ethical practices as set out in classic yoga philosophy.  It is a guideline to help us live in the world while still embracing the spiritual essence of our own being.  Most of us are not monks or hermits, living apart from everyday life.  We need systems of support along the way.  Thus, we have the eight limbs of yoga.  And, thus, we have tapas.

LESSON FORTY THREE

TAPAS —  THE FLAME OF CHANGE AND ENTHUSIASM

The word, tapas, has been described in a variety of ways.  Some say it is a fire that burns within and fosters wisdom, integrity, simplicity, and focus. Others laud its ability to trigger enthusiasm and excitement pushing us ever more to release all distractions and bring us through the flames to a place of deep balance and tranquility.  Others explain tapas as that which kindles the flame of the divine within us and burns away all impurities.  All of these describe the richness that is tapas.  

It is useful to think of the practice of tapas when we are in the midst of crisis, change, and pain.  When it seems that some sort of catharsis is occurring and pressing us into a sometimes dramatic change.  When something within us is being burned away so that a new version of ourselves may appear. For myself personally, a few years ago my path took me into a place of deep loss and fear, It was a falling away from what I thought I had been.  Something new was struggling to make itself known — a new “me” in effect.  It felt like being burned up until I could see the debris was melted away, and I was glad to see it go.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Khalil Gibran

Pain and loss are not uncommon in the physical world and while we are residing there, even in it as a dream, our feathers get ruffled.  Staying steadfast in our beliefs is a powerful means of unearthing the “pearl” within the shell.  Sometimes we become so immersed in this play of grief, self-pity, anger, and other emotions, that it is hard to catch the spiritual drift.  Swami Muktananda wrote:

The secret to success in sadhana (spiritual practices) is to use everything to our advantage.

There are legions of stories about those who have turned tragedy into enlightened experiences.  Take, for example St. John of the Cross in his writings in The Dark Night of the Soul. His suffering carried him into the arms of the Divine.  Or consider the response of Ram Dass, a contemporary teacher on the spiritual path who, much to his surprise, “suffered” a stroke some years ago, leaving him quite debilitated physically.  Yet this experience of “fierce grace,” as he called it, resulted in his naming his experience as “being stroked” by God.

Don’t be mistaken, it is my wish that none of us are so “blessed” as to reach deep levels of pain, but perhaps we can begin to see that the fire that consumes the forest makes way for new shoots to spring from the soil.  It is a form of re-birth that allows the Divine within each of us to shine in the light of day.

These ideas may help you better understand tapas:

  • When you are confronted with levels of fear, pain, or loss, what might you do to “ground” yourself?  Would it help for you to take a walk, listen to some music, do yoga poses, watch your breath, meditate, read a book that makes you laugh?  What about praying, asking for guidance and strength?  Or reading some passages that help you remember who you are?
  • Using affirmations can bring a lift.  Saying “I love myself completely NOW,” can be helpful in giving something positive for the mind to give focus, and breaking a pattern of negative thinking.
  • Can you remember times when you felt lost and afraid?  Do you remember how long this lasted?  Did something else arise to replace that experience?  Can you recall in any way that those feelings and emotions were constantly changing, yet you, the real you, was still there, unchanging.  Are you able to see that you made it through and came out stronger?
  • Try thinking of ways that sustain you and keep you steady, when you are not in the eye of the storm.  If you devote more to those habits, like eating good, healthy food, caring for your body, finding coping mechanisms for stress, taking time to go inward, laughing, giving love and forgiveness to yourself and others, they will be “set” in your everyday life.  All of these build up strength for times of duress and flame the fires of joy and happiness within us.

Remember that tapas builds enthusiasm, and “fires us up” for confronting whatever may arrive in our lives.  So let the multiple meanings of tapas enrich your life in new and surprising ways.  We are all in this together, walking hand in hand, on the path that guides us to Eternal Love.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more information, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Fourteen — Eternal Life AND Love

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butterflyblueskySpringtime has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Happy Springtime. We think of springtime as bringing renewal. As I write this, it is springtime in New England, where I live.  The sun is warming the earth and, in response, green shoots are popping out of the soil, woodchucks are emerging from their hibernation and foraging for sustenance, new, colorful birds are arriving in the midst of their travels.  There is a song in the air and an expression  of  lightness in the faces of people enjoying the fresh air..

We think of springtime as bringing renewal, and it does.  One of the Christian holidays that marks this time of year is Easter, the celebration of true re-birth, hope, and love. A triumph of eternal love.  All of these qualities are worthy of celebration, not just in the spring, but in all seasons of our lives.

Perhaps Easter is not a holiday you celebrate. Even so, I believe that Easter is an important day for all of humanity.  Why would I say this?  The “story” of Easter and resurrection is immensely valuable to contemplate when thinking of the meaning and duration of life and love.  I am enthralled with the story of the passion and the unconditional love that is predominant in the Easter story.  Of course, I was raised in a Christian family and Easter, with all its pageantry, was a special day in my life.  I liked searching for Easter eggs, eating jelly beans, enjoying a springtime dinner with family, and dressing up in new clothes that reflected the sunny days and flowers blooming.  Our family album is full of pictures of my mother, father, and brother, all decked out in new Easter finery, with my brother and me clutching Easter baskets full of treats.

For many years, I discounted the story of Easter.  Those were the years when I took a sabbatical from organized religion.  In fact, I pretty much discounted all the stories of miracles and faith, Christian or otherwise.  That was then.  Now, again, I call myself a Christian but right along with this statement, I could equally call myself a Yogi , and a believer in the mystical branches of all religions.

I relish the chance to say Happy Easter.  The significance of the story of Jesus and resurrection, of eternal life and love, and of what this says about death (or no death, to be exact) resonates with the truths of the most ancient spiritual writings.

I have written quite a lot about eternal love.  I hope you will take a minute to go back to Lesson Six that focused on this subject.  It will give you a better idea of how I came to so firmly believe in the continuation of life after we depart the body and why I have not the vaguest doubt that love is eternally the most important subject of all time.

So now, at this time of renewal and rebirth, we remember the truth that our souls are free from death.  We only depart from our bodies, yet WE continue to be the Divine Spirit and embodiment of Love.

LESSON FOURTEEN

ETERNAL LIFE AND LOVE

This is the Practice for this week’s lesson:

  • Take a bit of time each day to contemplate the idea of eternal life and love.
  • Carve out a few minutes to sit in silence.  Calm your body and your breath.  Long slow breathing.
  • Now contemplate these words from A Course in Miracles:

You dwell not here but in eternity.

You travel but in dreams while safe at home.

  • Think on these words.  What does it mean for you, for those who have already “died” and for those you love who will surely leave their bodies?
  • What if you are already dwelling in eternity, but have failed to recognize this?
  • What if you are safe at home all the time?
  • What if you are, right now, the perfect embodiment of love, but you have confused this truth with messages from the world of dreams.

I do not pretend that this is easy material to consider, especially if you are seeing it for the first time.  It is, nonetheless, the basis of most spiritual paths, dating from the earliest writings that still exist.

This is where we are heading.  And, whether you embrace these beliefs or not, it does not alter the Truth.

You are Love.

You are Eternal.

Life is Eternal.

Love is Eternal.

These words are not just meant for Jesus or Buddha or saints or gurus.  These words are about YOU!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more thoughts, go to www.deannemincer.com

The 52: A Lighter, Happier YOU — Just Lighten Up!

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butterflybluesky“Hey, just lighten up!”  Has anyone ever said that to you?  Maybe you were taking yourself or something around you way too seriously?  Perhaps you needed to take a break and see the humor or silliness in your response? Or perhaps you needed to step back and get a proper perspective. It happens to all of us.  Sometimes we think life is just so serious.

I think the best spiritual teachers have a great sense of humor.  They can laugh at themselves and the world around them.   Someone made this observation about the Dalai Lama:  He said that one of the things he most liked about the Dalai Lama was the way he could “crack himself up,” laughing in an infectious way that made everyone laugh around him.  I once viewed a video of a famous guru.  The entire video showed him laughing at one situation and another.  As we watched, we could not help but be uplifted by the laughter.

The world could use some lightening up!  Don’t you think there is an emphasis on doom and gloom?  And on petty disputes? The spiritual world could use some lightening too.  Many of us get trapped in the idea that the spiritual path must be a serious endeavor.  In fact, in some circles, there seems to be an epidemic of spiritual arrogance.  We get it, we may say.  Pity those not on the path.  Those poor beings who don’ meditate or eat the right foods or read the right books or do the right kind of yoga.  To this, I say, “Lighten up!  Give us all a break!”    After all, aren’t we one?  Aren’t we all reflections of one another? 

There is a song called “Put on A Happy Face.”  I love the lyric that reminds us to “spread sunshine all over the place.”  Not a bad idea!  Want to give it a try? 

You will be happier, more joyous, and have a lot more fun, if you just lighten up and spread sunshine!  Try this:

  • Think, in advance, of something you know you will be doing today.  Imagine a way to make it a happy occasion, a bright spot, even if it is no more than greeting someone in a brief moment.  Then make it happen.
  • Think of something or some time that was really funny to you.  Imagine looking at yourself at that time.  Can you feel yourself growing lighter?
  • Maybe you can remember a joke you heard.  Could it still make you laugh?  Then go ahead, laugh. 

Laughter helps to release negative energy in your body, increase healing and positive hormones and, the result is, you will be healthier and happier.  It’s an easy form of “health insurance.”

So, as the old cliché goes:  IS EVERYBODY HAPPY?  I am, just writing about it.  How about you?

Next week, we return to a main theme of this course  — LOVE.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, check out www.deannemincer.com and at facebook.

The 52: Lesson Nine – Why Meditate: Some Thoughts

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butterflybluesky

The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest

you can give yourself in this life.

Sogyal Rinpoche

These are the words of a Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen Lama.  He describes meditation as going home and revealing our true heart.  His most prominent writing is a book I value greatly, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.  His words resonate with a Truth that transcends any particular path, which is one of the goals of my own work — to show the commonalities between the many spiritual paths.

One of the most renowned and respected Christian writers of this or any era is C. S. Lewis, a favorite of mine.  In England, he was an Oxford don who converted from doubt to devout Christianity.  He even engaged in fantasy works of fiction.  You may know him as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia.  He said:

We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence and private:

and therefore, starved for meditation and true friendship.

And this from The Holy Bible:

Sing unto him, sing psalms upon him,

meditate upon his wondrous works.

Psalms 105:2

Some may see the last quote more as a contemplation rather than meditation but the idea of meditation is frequently mentioned in Christian writings.

Yet meditation is more associated, to many of us, as an Eastern teaching.  It is true that many of Western faith are less familiar with the concept of meditation.  In most cases, meditation is a solitary practice.  Even while I meditated in the company of thousands of others, it was still my meditation.  Its great benefit is the promise of  an authentic experience of God consciousness. one to one, if you will.

So this is the purpose — Divine Consciousness,  Yes, as other benefits, we can experience less stress, being more centered, lower blood pressure and many other healthful results, which are not a small thing.  But meditation can bring about union with a higher power, with Divine Love, with God, with Eternal Life.  Now THAT is something really big!

As we conclude this week on meditation, though we will return to it again soon, do this:

  • Follow the earlier suggestions for meditation.  Now, as you prepare to meditate, ask for guidance and Truth.  Ask for Grace.  ASK!  Let your meditation be encircled with love and kindness.  Then just meditate.  Stop thinking.  See how this feels.
  • Come to a place of acceptance.  Let the meditation just be what it is.  If your mind went off on a grocery list or a bill to be paid or the next action of the day, be accepting.  Okay, that is how it was today.
  • Don’t give yourself a grade. “Well that was a lousy meditation, I might as well give up.”  In truth, just about everyone thinks that at some point.  Let it go.  Just keep meditating in whatever way you can.
  • If you just can’t meditate, for whatever reason, be okay with that too.  Even long time meditators may hit a patch where they have trouble.  Be kind to yourself.  Everything will unfold just right.

Keep me posted!  Everything about these lessons is about reaching out with love.  If this has helped even one person, my heart will sing with joy.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to www.deannemincer.com