Monday, September 28, 2009

Surprises Along the Spiritual Path: Part 2

Here are just a few comments from my last article regarding the surprises we encounter along our spiritual path.

"David, Thanks for being so open and transparent with your life so we too might understand those universal truths that might otherwise escape us. I have found that only by allowing God to flow through me do "my" gifts come alive. It seems whatever outcome we might believe we want, the most effective path is honoring our connection to our Source."

AMEN! Yes, the path is not about our desires by themselves, but rather a surrendering to the source called God, the Light, The Way, who if we just stop fighting along the way, will open the correct doors for us to powerfully impact others by and with, our unique gifts.

"I would never have thought my life would be filled with the peace and happiness it is today, had I not let go of controlling life, and daily asked my Source for the answers to where I could be of most service. The answers will come for everyone, have patience, and thank you for your constant words of encouragement!"

I love to read about the lives of people like Norman Vincent Peale, Max Lucado, Bruce Wilkinson , Beth Moore, Ghandi, and others who have devoted their lives to love, to God and the way that each of them could serve this world on their spiritual path. All representatives in their own right of the path Christ lived.

Slow down and connect with your path, which may also be filled with spiritual surprises today.

Love, peace, Rev. David

Surprises Along the Spiritual Path

Several years ago while attending a personal growth weekend intensive, I was confronted with one of my many surprises along my own spiritual path.One of the quests we were put on that weekend was to try and discover the one area of life that we would like to see a radical shift occur in. After deliberation, I decided to stick with the goal I had selected a few days before and that the financial arena is where my greatest growth could come from in order that I might more powerfully affect this world. I created my intention and shared it with the group.

Almost instantly, a woman who had been on the sideline watching my reading of my goal almost jumped out of her skin and said "David you've got it all wrong, it's your spiritual path that you need to focus on. That's where your greatest gifts are, THAT'S WHERE YOUR ATTENTION SHOULD BE. GETTING CLOSER TO GOD, SPREADING HIS WORD IS THE INTENTION YOU SHOULD FOCUS ON."As I capitalize these words for effect, you get the picture of the enthusiasm she had in sharing her beliefs with me.

I was just stunned, not only by what she said but in the manner she said it. I looked around the room, thinking that maybe someone else might speak up, but it was just her and I.After talking to her for a few minutes in front of the group, I once again looked for help from someone else who might see things differently, so that I had the support I needed to keep my initial intention intact. None came.It was evident that I needed to think about her statements, as many times

God uses people as messengers, and often these messengers have messages we may not initially agree with. I went home that night and prayed, trying to see if her words would ring true, and when I awoken the next morning I did in fact see how powerful her message was to me.Yes, she was right. Yes in fact her words made me go directly to God who gave me the same answer.

Approximately a year or so later, I was the co-founder of a brand new church in Fort Myers Florida, something that I am so thrilled to be a part of, but definitely a surprise along my own spiritual path. It reminds me of a conversation I had with Deepak Chopra during an interview several years ago regarding the topic "How to know God." The way to know God is to talk with him, to daily create the space and time to be in communion.I had gone into a workshop to learn how to manifest money, and had come out with the drive to become closer to God.

Slow down and be open today to the surprises in store for you, if you are open, along your own spiritual path.

Love, peace, David

At-One-Ment & In-To-Me-See

The word, atonement, is not one that I ever wanted to have in my vocabulary. It always brought to mind thoughts of nasty paybacks, punitive justice, harsh karma, penance and repentence. When I thought of atonement, I'd envision Christ suffering on the cross atoning for our sins. Not something I wanted to focus on.

After today, I no longer feel the same way about this word or the concept in general. The thought of redemption through atonement is now something I might even look forward to if it is needed, because I finally got the courage to stand in it, be with it and look it in the eye and see it for what it really is. For on the other side of making amends, humility and surrender (to my own soul) was not a brutal punishment or a defeating humiliation, but a chance to be as be at one...with someone I dearly love... and with myself...and with the world. Atonement gave me the chance for reunion, reconciliation and a measure of closeness and intimacy that I might not have otherwise experienced... A gleaming jewel in the muck.

a·tone·ment /əˈtoʊnmənt/
1. satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.
2. the doctrine concerning the reconciliation of God and humankind, esp. as accomplished through the life, suffering, and death of Christ.
3. the experience of humankind's unity with God exemplified by Jesus Christ.
4. reconciliation; agreement.

I found out that when you walk INTO the pain of what you are experiencing, that it may be a mixed bag, but there is treasure in the dark inner place. This religious language that evokes images of self-flagellation and suffering, "atonement" is not a word I thought I'd come to admire. But after I went with it, went into it and saw that what I had judged in another, what had wounded my psyche was EXACTLY something I had done myself. I experienced that the perpetrator and the victim are one.

In the process of reverse engineering my thoughts and not ignoring my feelings, talking openly, praying, meditating and asking for guidance all was revealed. The truth was just there, exposed and vulnerable, but free of anything unclean, no dirty, heavy energy. It just floated up into conscious thought. And it was in that moment that we became as one.

I have always said that we are each other's own personal Jesus Christ. We are each other's saviors and we are saving each other from ourselves. We do this by reflecting back the worst and the best of each other. Sometimes, oh boy....that can be pretty hard to take. In fact, when you do not love yourself, to have your "faults"so clearly highlights is excrutiating.

In the past, when my love for myself was not so apparent to me, I would run. Not physically, necessarily, but emotionally I would curl up into a tight little ball. Oh, on the outside would be what I now call the death smile...the smile that hides a cracking heart. And it is true...the mere act of smiling has a powerful effect on human physiology. A smile can hide alot of sorrow, and sometimes it can make things OK. But sometimes not. And if this becomes one of your coverups for an addiction to running away, you've just done the physical equivalent of putting a smiley face sticker on your gas tank. Because now it's all covered up in goodness and we are just surviving the lie. And it will take a great deal of pain to crack through that exterior.

I want you to know that there is great power in walking into the darkness and remaining vulnerable. It takes great courage and great love to do so. Through the power of true love...true love for myself....for another...for my fellow man I have vowed to wipe that stupid smile off my face and let the real me come forward. The truth does not need to be edited by my smiling face. The truth is the substance of life. And when it is clean and clear to inform our life this is the way to true intimacy - in to me see - and atonement - at-one-ment.

We are all one, at the level of the level of the mass consciousness..but we are also individuated on this physical plane. Never forget either of these things, because they are inextricably linked to being with wholeness and providing the powers of compassion and forgiveness needed to forge eternal bonds of love. This after all is why we are be with be in express and create our love in a million points of light, with others, with ourself and with all. I honor all my relations. Even the ones that hurt sometimes. All is one.

by Rev. Renee Bledsoe 2008

Twelve Principles of Spiritual Leadership

First: The first principle is that the motivation underlying our activism for social change must be transformed from anger and despair to compassion and love. This is not to deny the legitimacy of noble anger or outrage at injustice of any kind. Rather, we seek to work for love, rather than against evil. We need to adopt compassion and love as our foundational intention, and do whatever inner work is required to implement this intention. Even if our outward actions remain the same, there is a major difference in results if our underlying intention supports love rather than defeating evil. The Dalai Lama says, “A positive future can never emerge from the mind of anger and despair.”

Second: The second principle is a classical spiritual tenet. It is the principle of nonattachment to outcome. To the extent that we are attached to the results of our work, we rise and fall with our success and failures, which is a path to burnout. Failures are inevitable, and successes are not the deepest purpose of our work. This requires a deepening of faith in the intrinsic value of our work—beyond the concrete results. To the extent that our actions are rooted in pure intention, they have a reverberation far beyond the concrete results of the actions themselves. As Gandhi emphasized, “the victory is in the doing,” not the outcome.

As one lawyer put it, “How can I possibly go into court and not be attached to the outcome? You bet I care who wins and who loses! If I am not attached to the outcome, I’ll just get bulldozed!” His words underscore the poignant challenge of implementing these principles in practice. Yet he actively seeks ways to love his adversaries. He acknowledges that, although it is difficult to love some of his adversaries, one way he can do it is to love them for creating the opportunity for him to become a strong voice for truth and protection of the natural environment.

Third: The third principle is that your integrity is your protection. The idea here is that if your work has integrity, that will tend to protect you from negative circumstances. For example, there are practices for making yourself invisible to the negative energy that comes toward you in adversarial situations. It’s a kind of psychic aikido, where you internally step out of the way of negative energy, and you make yourself energetically transparent so it passes right through you. But this only works if your work is rooted in integrity.

Fourth: The fourth principle is related: the need for unified integrity in both means and ends. Integrity in means cultivates integrity in the fruit of one’s work; you cannot achieve a noble goal using ignoble means.

Fifth: The fifth principle is don’t demonize your adversaries. People respond to arrogance with their own arrogance, which leads to polarization. The ideal is to constantly entertain alternative points of view so that you move from arrogance to inquiry, and you then have no need to demonize your opponents. As John Stuart Mill said, “In all forms of human debate, both parties tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny.” Going into an adversarial situation, we can be aware of the correctness of what we are affirming, but there is usually a kernel of truth—however small—in what is being affirmed by our opponent. We need to be especially mindful about what we deny, because this is often where our blind spots will be.

Sixth: The sixth principle is to love thy enemy. Or if you can’t do that, at least have compassion for them. This means moving from an “us-them” consciousness to a “we” consciousness. It means recognizing that I am the logger: when I write these principles of spiritual activism and publish them in this newsletter, I give the command to the logger to fell the trees, to produce the pulp, to produce this paper so that I can publish these spiritual principles about how best to save the trees. It is seeing the full circle of our interconnected complicity, and discovering all the problems of humanity in our own hearts and our own lives. We are not exempt and we are not different. The “them” that we speak of is also us. The practice of loving our adversaries is obviously challenging in situations with people whose views and methodologies are radically opposed to ours, but that is where the real growth occurs.

Seventh: The seventh and eighth principles are a bit contradictory. The seventh is that your work is for the world rather than for you. We serve on behalf of others and not for our own satisfaction or benefit. We’re sowing seeds for a cherished vision to become a future reality, and our fulfillment comes from the privilege of being able to do this work. This is the traditional understanding of selfless service.

Eighth: But then the eighth principle is that selfless service is a myth. Because in truly serving others, we are also served. In giving we receive. This is important to recognize as well, so we don’t fall into the trap of pretentious service to others’ needs and develop a false sense of selflessness or martyrdom.

Ninth: The ninth principle is: do not insulate yourself from the pain of the world. We must allow our hearts to be broken—broken open—by the pain of the world. As that happens, as we let that pain in, we become the vehicles for transformation. If we block the pain, we are actually preventing our own participation in the world’s attempt to heal itself. As we allow our hearts to break open, the pain that comes is the medicine by which the Earth heals itself, and we become the agents of that healing. This is a vital principle that is quite alien to our usual Western ways of thinking.

Tenth: The tenth principle is: what you attend to, you become. If you constantly attend to battles, you become embattled. On the other hand, if you constantly give love, you become loving. We must choose wisely what we attend to, because it shapes and defines us deeply.

Eleventh: The eleventh principle is to rely on faith. This entails cultivating a deep trust in the unknown, recognizing the presence of “higher” or “divine” forces at work that we can trust completely without knowing their precise agendas or workings. It means invoking something beyond the traditional scientific world view. It implies that there are invisible forces that we can draw upon and engage, firstly by knowing they are there; secondly, by asking or yearning for them to support us—or more precisely, asking them to allow us to serve on their behalf. Faith is understood not as blind adherence to any set of beliefs, but as a knowing from experience and intuition about intrinsic universal principles beyond our direct observation, and relying upon these principles, whatever they are, to support us in creating what we aspire to create. This actually brings great relief when we realize it really isn’t up to us to figure out all the steps to manifest our unfolding vision, because we are participants in a larger cosmic will. Nevertheless, it is our job to discover what our unique gift is— our unique role—and for each person to give their gift as skillfully and generously as possible, while trusting that the rest will all work itself out.

Twelfth: Finally, the twelfth principle is that love creates the form. As Stephen Levine says, “The heart crosses the abyss that the mind creates.” It is the mind that gives rise to the apparent fragmentation of the world, while the heart can operate at depths unknown to the mind. So, if we begin imagining with our hearts, and work from a place of yearning as well as thinking, then we develop an unprecedented effectiveness that is beyond our normal ways of understanding because it doesn’t have to do with thinking. When we bring the fullness of our humanity to our leadership, we can be far more effective in creating the future we want.

In closing, as we enter the third millennium, we are urgently called to action in two distinct capacities: to serve as hospice workers to a dying culture, and to serve as midwives to an emerging culture. These two tasks are required simultaneously; they call upon us to move through the world with an open heart—meaning we are present for the grief and the pain—as we experiment with new visions and forms for the future. Both are needed. The key is to root our actions in both intelligence and compassion—a balance of head and heart that combines the finest human qualities in our leadership for cultural transformation.

The above article is adapted from a presentation given by Will Keepin, Ph.D. at Schumacher College, Totnes, England, July 17, 1997. Keepin. Dr. Keepin is president of the Satyana Institute (formerly Shavano Institute) in Boulder, Colorado, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to integrate spiritual principles and practices into social change leadership. He leads training workshops for Satyana’s programs in Leading with Spirit and Gender Reconciliation, and has published over 30 articles. Dr. Keepin is on the adjunct faculty of the California Institute of Integral Studies.

©2002 reprinted with permission from Timeline E-mail Edition, March/April 2002 - No. 62, A Publication of the Foundation for Global Community. Click here to send an e-mail request to subscribe to Timeline E-mail Edition

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Surrendering to Grace,with Father Ron

Several years ago I found out the true meaning of surrender, and how that act could bring about an experience of grace. And it all had to do with father Ron.After avoiding the issue for years, I finally admitted I had a problem with alcohol. Denial and rationalization had worked wonders in helping me to avoid dealing with the one area of life that was holding me back.

For many people, alcohol is a best friend, a definite escape tool that allows us to duck from dealing with reality, our own and that of the world.I decided to check into a 30 day treatment center, The Hanley Center in West Palm Beach Florida. But don't let the location name fool you, as the center was located in the middle of "crack city". I was not going to a posh beach side resort to get clean, but rather an amazing powerful center in one of the worst areas of town.

After spending a few days in the detox wing, to prevent any chance of convulsions due to the removal of my daily alcohol fix, I was asked to briefly stop by the Spiritual Director's office where I met Father Ron. A Monsignor in the Catholic Church, Fr. Ron asked me to enter , but not to sit down as this would be short."Why do you think you're here?" he asked."Well, to get sober I guess, or to learn to drink moderately, or maybe to get on a medication to stop my desire for alcohol", I answered, still in somewhat of a denial of this disease."What if I were to tell you you are here for none of those answers?", he asked.

I stood there dumbfounded, not having any idea of what to say."Listen, I know about your work, your books, and feel I have an idea about your path in life. I want you to meditate on what I'm about to share with you tonite, and tomorrow. Then we'll meet at 2pm, and talk about this concept.The only reason you are here is to get closer with God. To become one with God. If you take the next 30 days in this center, and devote yourself to this purpose, you will never desire alcohol or drugs again for the rest of your life. Think about this, I'll see you tomorrow. "

With that, I was gone. As I walked away, I could feel my head spinning. What was he talking about? I had been meditating for 20 years, praying daily for many more, and felt an already deep connection with God. How could deepening my relationship with God, cure addiction?

I thought about his statement all nite, and at 5am the next morning went to walk the track and meditate on his words. Within 15 minutes, a whole new world, a whole new understanding of life had opened before me! Yes, I had felt the Grace of God, right on the track! Yes I now knew what Fr. Ron had said was true! A lightness filled my being, Grace had been administered, and the opening had come through the words he shared.

For the next 30 days, I immersed myself into the work of God, through prayer circles, meditation, group therapy, one on one spiritual counseling and more. I surrendered my knowledge of addiction, and became a sponge to everything the counselors would share with me.

At the end of the 30 day stay, I had been reborn, healed at the deepest of levels, and that healing still continues to this day through my own daily rituals and the mission of my life.

Slow down, surrender , accept the Grace of the Divine, and watch your life change as well.Love, peace, Rev. David
Posted by Rev. David Essel at 4:17 PM 0 comments

The Path to Love Through Devotion

If we ever want to reach the highest level of our existence on earth, we will at some point have to realize the reason for our existence: to create the deepest of love through daily devotion.Now admittedly, this is a huge undertaking, but the end result will surely be more than worth our effort. As I write this, I can reflect on the relationships that did not work, partially due to the fact that I never consciously, verbally, and in writing, offered this type of unending devotion to my partner. Why? Because then we are held accountable. Then we will be asked daily to prove our words to be true. And quite frankly, that can scare the hell out of us.

But oh my Lord...just think of the most amazing end result if we now choose to walk this path! To devote our self to our partner, our lover, offers the deepest ,most intimate of all relations. To consciously, together, repeat that we are devoted to one another for rise above the small ego's pettiness, to let go of resentments AS THEY OCCUR, and yes, to not hold them a second longer than necessary. To awaken each morning with the mantra, "God, direct me to do more for my partner today in all ways, show me the path to serve them with devoted love. "Now that, is devotion.

Are you ready to walk this path with me? Are you ready to open your heart to the most vulnerable of all places to flow in the love of the divine with your partner? To be free of past conditioning of what love means, and to jump off the cliff of true love, with your mind simply wrapped around the concept of serving your lover?

In Hinduism, one of the paths to God is called bhakti yoga. Simply put, it is a path of love, where everything you do all day long is devoted to God. As you work, walk, eat, you chant God's name. As you read scripture, you devote yourself to God. The emotion of love for God is the driving force behind this path. It is the driving force of life.We can use this metaphor and take it another step forward by deciding to love God with all of our heart, and then put this same energy into loving with deep devotion, our partner as well.

I have heard of so many "arranged marriages", where the partners fall into this type of devoted love. Even in the beginning, if they were not overly attracted to their arranged partner, over a short period of time they fell madly in love due to their devotional mindset!!Think about this!!! Can you imagine what you and I can do, if we devote ourselves to loving a partner who we are attracted to??? If they can accomplish this after being "set up" in a marriage, can you imagine what we can do as well, when we enter our marriage/relationship by choice?

When I think about devoting my life, my love, to my partner, it brings about a feeling of surrender. A feeling so deep, that it can barely even be described. When we choose to do this together, a whole new world, a whole new definition of love becomes a part of our beings. Divine union has just occurred, and yes, we can then experience Shambala, or Heaven on Earth.

Decide today to walk this path with me, to create the most sacred of relationships.

Slow down to create a path of love through devotion to your partner.Love, peace, Rev. David
Posted by Rev. David Essel at 9:38 AM 0 comments


October 31, Saturday 10am-12pm
with Jasse Matasse ACHTI, CH, ACH

What if you are living the wrong life? How can you rid yourself of fear? How do you stop relying on outside conditions and take control of your life?

Come and discover your reason for Being. What is your legacy? What are you leaving for your children? Maybe you are successful in business, sports, family, and your life seems full. Yet, in the quiet still moments haven’t you asked, “What does it all mean?” Haven’t you wondered about your purpose?

Most of us stay too busy to ask the important questions. Then, something happens. An event, a change in lifestyle, something makes us STOP. It’s then that we realize we are only superficially happy.

You have a right to be happy. You have a right to be healthy. You have a right to a beautiful relationship. You have a right to riches in whatever form they come.

Are you missing much of the richness, joy and satisfaction that life has to offer? If you are, I understand because I was in that situation for the first 20 years of my own life. Now, I am sharing with others what I learned so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.

For the past 6,000 years all our great teachers and philosophers have agreed on one thing: we create what we think about. Learn how to control what you think and bring into your life what you want. If you are not certain about what you want, what your true Purpose is, you will know by the end of the seminar!

“MAGNETIC POWER OF LIFE PURPOSE”: Experience Passion, Power, and a Burning Desire to LIVE a RICH LIFE

Date: Saturday, October 31, 2009
Time: 10 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: Church of Spiritual Light 1939 Park Meadows Dr., Unit 1, Ft. Myers, Fl 33907
Contact: Jasse Matasse or 772-332-3889 to RSVP.
Cost: $37 and bring a guest for Free!