It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: How Can You Still Make This About You?

I thought after death had its way with us, you would have stopped trying to get somewhere. You would have stopped making up conclusions. But you still take what you go through and force it on others, making the world into a silhouette of your pain. Yet this never frees us. We just keep praying to what is missing. I know. For I painted the strangers I met while lost with the colors of my sadness, wondering if anything mattered. Then, just as I was about to give up, something gave way, including my want to make everything like me. Sure, it was frightening. But when the Mystery of Oneness washed over me, experience dropped me into the common well below our names, where what happens to one of us happens to all of us. And then, the way a boulder tired of holding on slips into the sea scattering the fish into a glimmering pool of light, I began to cascade anonymously. Now, I can only say that though what pains us may be different, where it hurts is always the same.

This is how we find each other.

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Your Unique Soul Journey

Our soul journeys—how we find our way to recognizing the enlightenment or God that lives within us—are completely unique to each of us. I mean completely. Even your closest friend or wisest spiritual teacher is not on exactly the same path as you. We need to remember and honor the wisdom within us that is our guide in this, especially now at this time of such tumultuous change in the external world. The old religious structures that prescribed certain behaviors and beliefs, monitored by an external authority figure, are not the wave of the future. Neither are current spiritual programs that revolve around the popularity of one teacher or speaker. Previous paradigms of all kinds are falling away. We may eventually live in a “flexi-paradigm,” part of an ever-evolving and expansive collective consciousness. Within that, each one of us is singular, unrepeatable.

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Spiritual Hope

Spiritual hope opens us to possibility and energizes us to manifest our potential for love and wisdom. In contrast to attachment or egoic hope, which is the grasping for what will benefit a separate self, spiritual hope arises from trust in the openhearted awareness (bodhichitta) that is always and already within us. This talk explores how, as individuals and as a society, we can nourish spiritual hope, and create the grounds for healing and radical transformation.

“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness.”  

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
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Drenched in Holiness

These times of chaos, turmoil, and massive uncertainty require faith and a deepening with our relationship with the Divine. Spending time in prayer, meditation, poetry, being in nature, having gratitude for all that is, cuddling with loved ones and pets…all will infuse the field with love and healing.

My beautiful late sister, Debbie Ford, wrote a prayer book, Your Holiness, and below is one of my favorites.

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Your Are Enough -Acceptance

Acceptance allows energy to flow and supports the natural unfolding of life at a higher vibration, to a more evolved state and an expanded understanding.

To some of you, this kind of total acceptance sounds preposterous. Perhaps you are suffering in a loveless marriage, battling a chronic illness, enduring the daily torture of a soulless job, or drowning in debt with no viable opportunities for escape. Finding harmony within the limitations (internal or external) of your current frame-work can sound far-­fetched. But from the standpoint of vibrational transformation, the reason you remain where you are is that you are in resistance to your reality.

Generally, I’ve found that resistance manifests itself in people in two ways: attachment and aversion. Attachment is grasping at things and circumstances you believe will make you happy and end your suffering. Aversion is pushing away everything and everyone you believe is creating your unhappiness and suffering.

How do you escape from this utterly exhausting see-saw of physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual ups and downs? Through the restoration of your connection to your Essential Self.

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The Last Attachment

In the course of our lives, human beings form attachments to events, people, memories, feelings, beliefs, experiences, physical objects, and much more. If we choose at some point to follow a spiritual path, we learn, sometimes quite painfully, to see the impermanence of everything and to let go of many of those attachments. One of our strongest attachments is to the personality we have constructed over the years and the stories we tell ourselves about our lives. Lives that are in reality ephemeral and transitory—a truth never more poignantly visible than in the past few months as humanity confronts death on a daily basis because of the coronavirus. We are taking a collective crash course in letting go—of everything.

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Getting Deeply in Touch with the Divine

When I read the morning news, most of what I see are stories about people wanting to move past the pandemic. They’d like things to return to normal; they’d like things to be the way they were before. 


This is true even for people who were terribly unhappy with their lives, because for them the comfort of the known far outweighs the fear of the unknown.


But there are others who see a gift resting quietly in the misfortune and sadness that enfolds the Earth. 


Certainly, those who feel there’s a gift within this crisis also hold great compassion for those in pain, and they lovingly appreciate the souls who, on some level mysteriously unknown to us, have agreed to leave the planet during this pandemic.


But there is more going on than the universal opening of hearts to others. Much more.  

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The Life of Christ is Now

There is one way, and one way only, that any of us will ever know the real meaning behind the life of Christ, and that is... to share in his death. And by this, I do not mean symbolically, or by any other allegory. If our wish is to know the truth behind his seemingly incomprehensible, incomparable act of self-sacrifice -- and the rebirth that crowns this surrender -- there's but one thing to do: we must stop thinking about it... and get down to the business of actually dying to our own lower nature.

Spending one's time wondering why this god-man agreed to lay down his life for the sake of the immortal Self that he embodied... is like hoping to be healed by a medicine that you give someone else to take for you.
 

Let me be clear: it doesn't matter what we say we believe in, or otherwise profess to be true. Belief alone amounts to nothing. To paraphrase and enhance a timeless idea: faith without acts is not only fruitless, but along with being the dangerous root of fanaticism, it is one of the dark seeds from out of which grows the evil of religious intolerance. Comparing the value of our ideals to those of others is not what it means to act truly, anymore than the act of judging someone proves the worthiness of the judge.

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Regardless Of Circumstance - And The Everything All-New

It’s a wonderful thing to know that what we see outside us, is not the only reality, that there is more than one perspective to take when viewing both external and internal conditions! In fact, it’s a wonderful thing to know, that God and the Universe, HAVE YOUR BACK!

Can’t wrap your head around that? That’s just it, one can’t! But we can open our hearts and merge with what is currently shaking humanity to its core! And what is shaking humanity to its core is LOVE!

I sense we each have been presented with an extraordinary chance to cut our cord with separation!  Floating weightless in zero-gravity consciousness, we have a chance to make the jump to hyper-space, the quantum-leap from duality to Oneness, from the lie into the Light, from asleep to awake, from broken to whole.

 

With Spring’s natural turn just under our belts, we have nature on our side REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES! As the sun grows brighter and the days longer, we begin the mythical journey of recreating life over again either in fear and reaction to external conditions or with a new, natural courageousness, confidence and intuitive creativity perhaps unknown to us before as it rises from a deep, inner knowing we have carried with us for our whole lives. This is but one opportunity these Viral Times are gifting us!

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Enslaved By Your Mind Or Embracing Your Inner Knowing?

Are you stuck being a slave of your wounded self, or do you trust your intuition?

“Intuition is a sacred gift, the rational mind its faithful servant. Sadly we have thrown away the gift and have become enslaved to the servant.”  ~Albert Einstein

In Inner Bonding, we often talk about who is in charge—your wounded self or your guidance? Most people are enslaved by the thoughts and beliefs of their wounded self—their programmed mind. But the mind is meant to be the servant of our inner and higher guidance, not the master. Why do we too often throw away the gift of intuition – of our inner knowing?

Imagine living in a society where people trusted their intuition—trusted their feelings and their higher guidance. Could people in this society be easily controlled by government, religions, or the media? Obviously not, because when you trust your own inner knowing, you are not vulnerable to others’ manipulations and lies.

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Where All Souls Meet

After being born physically, we unfold within a second womb, meant to incubate our better angel. The second womb is an experiential one that, through the labor of a lifetime, births the soul on Earth. This journey opens us to a process of transformation that is mysterious, difficult, and inevitable. This dynamic transformation is how we are revealed and shaped by experience. By living the one life we are given, we release the wisdom that waits in our heart, and that tender, human process leads us to the way under the way, the place of true meeting. When we commit to these holy engagements that join who we are with the world, we discover that the temple is the world.

Eventually, all the love, suffering, and humility we go through wear away our walls of resistance until Spirit shines from within us like an inner sun. This is how Spirit is revealed on Earth—as the coverings we carry are worn away by life, the light we carry can pour into the world.

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The Power of Radical Acceptance

A lot of us are feeling powerless right now, like everything is outside our control. We can’t control when the government decides when we can go back to work. We can’t control who gets Coronavirus. We can’t even control what’s in stock at the grocery store!

So how do we navigate a space when we feel like we have no power and can’t control life outside of us?

The key is to recognize the huge difference between surrendering and giving up

We have to surrender to what we have no power over, what we can’t control. That doesn’t mean we say, “Oh yeah, what’s happening now is totally fine.” Or that we say, “Fine, I give up.” It doesn’t mean that we’re in denial about it either, like, “Oh, everything will be back to normal by Friday.” That’s not what I’m talking about!

What I’m talking about is the need to accept what’s going on outside of us in our current and immediate environment, and recognizing that there are certain things in our life that we have absolutely no power or control over. 

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Language, Prayer, and Grace

Language is no more than the impressions
left by birds nesting in snow.

Prayer is the path opened
by a leopard leaping through the brush.

And grace is how the water parts for a fish
letting it break surface.

A Question to Walk With: Describe a recent experience you’ve had with grace and try to convey its appearance and feeling in words without using the word grace.

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I Have Given Everything All the Meaning It Has for Me

I have just bought a Buddha wood carving, I’m told from a temple in Thailand. I am thrilled with the depth he brings to the room. I love the faint color of pink on him, rubbing off with years. It’s funny. When I see this picture through my mother’s eyes it looks like a beat up worn wooden board with an image, not really attractive, of someone else’s God. Like ours wasn’t good enough? “  Why on earth would you hang that in your living room?  Wouldn’t you like a landscape?” says my mother in my head.
 
I can’t help but think of A Course in Miracles quote:  “I give everything all the meaning it has for me.” My mother is right. This is old wood that would burn well in a fire.  I am right, too, the compassion and presence I feel emanating from this carving is palpable. For me, this image represents freedom and compassion in the face of all circumstances. Everything has the meaning I give it.
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The Eagle And Condor Prophecy And The Virus

The Prophecy of the Eagle and Condor probably began more than two thousand years ago. It says: “Back in the mists of history, human societies took two routes. The Eagle peoples flew the path of the mind, of science, technology, and industry. The Condor peoples flew the path of the heart, of passion, intuition, and spiritual connections with nature.” It goes on to explain that for centuries they would never meet. Then in the Fourth Pachacuti (in Quichua, the language of the Andes, a five hundred– year interval), which began in about 1500 AD on our calendar, their paths would cross; the Eagle would nearly drive the Condor into extinction. But not quite. The prophecy says that five hundred years later, at the beginning of the Fifth Pachacuti—now—the opportunity arises for the Eagle and the Condor to fly together, to mate, and to produce a new offspring, higher consciousness

History confirms the first prophecy. Columbus, 1492. The Eagle swept into Condor territory and almost wiped out the Indigenous peoples. But not quite. 

Now, five hundred years later the prophecy is being fulfilled again. The Eagle and Condor are coming together to create higher consciousness. It is happening! Indigenous teachers have invited us to learn their ways. There is a deep interest in traditional nature-based wisdom and shamanism among industrialized people around the world.

– Touching the Jaguar, John Perkins, p.99
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Living Peace, Allowing Grief

Yesterday just before sunrise I was overwhelmed by feelings of sadness, grief, and mourning. Tears streamed down my face. The unfathomable loss of life around the world from the coronavirus hit me like an avalanche. The number of cases is continuing to rise here in Florida and throughout the U.S. My thoughts turned to Boston friends who had died of cancer in the last year and the trip home to Massachusetts in May that Anne and I had to cancel. My own and the world’s sorrow and pain rushed through my body in waves as I wept. Gradually, after a time, it subsided, tear by tear, and I sat quietly in the half-darkness, breathing in the silence. The sky began to lighten. Then, as if in answer to my heart’s call for comfort, a mockingbird began to sing its morning song, a medley of every possible birdcall it had ever heard. My heart lifted, as it always does when I hear a mockingbird.
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Sheltering In Love (Part 1)

During this time of pandemic, we need, more than ever, to feel our connectedness—true belonging with our own being, each other and all life.

These talks explore the bodhisattva path – practices of an awakening being dedicated to living from love. The invitation is to let this season of close-in and global suffering deepen our collective commitment to creating a more compassionate world.

Listen to the final meditation in the talk: Meditation: Embracing Life with an Open Heart (11:54 min.)

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Soulful Space

Knowing that “There is only One thing happening here and it is Good” is not about by-passing reality by any means. Being and operating from the heart space, from a soulful space, and looking out through that lens is the surest way to hold this transcendent perspective.

From a survivor perspective, we can name countless reasons to believe that it is NOT all good. With gun violence, injustice, abuse, poverty – you name it – we can certainly build a case that it doesn’t look so good. And here is where we can take a “time out” in our thinking and remember that we are more than just flesh and bone. We are more than just surviving, instinct-based individuals. We are creative-source energy in a body. We are God-source energy in a body. While that is a lofty statement, it happens to be the truth.

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The Virus Can Give Your Life More Meaning

One way to respond in a crisis is to reduce its threat. The other way is to add to the threat. The coronavirus COVID-19 might be the first collective crisis that many people have faced, and it poses an uncertain future in every country that confronts it. But this doesn’t change the two choices just mentioned. Know that your individual actions will have an impact on countless other people.

 

No matter how the COVID-19 pandemic resolves itself—something no one can predict—you can personally choose right now to reduce its threat. If you consciously make that choice, three positive things will happen. You will feel more in control; you will be on the side of healing; and you will add to the meaning of your life.

 

How to be more in control:

This begins by acting responsibly, following what the experts in disease control advise. By now everyone is aware of the need to stay at home, self-quarantine if you show any symptoms, keep 6 to 10 ft. away from other people in public, don’t take long plane flights, and wash your hands frequently (the medical school routine for scrubbing up applies here: Wash your hands vigorously while singing “Happy birthday to you” twice—and don’t forget your thumbs and between your fingers). The active ingredient in effective hand sanitizers is isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, which you can also use by itself in at least a 60% solution with water.

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Got Soul?

Through the ages, scholars as well as all religious and spiritual traditions have contemplated the definition, significance, and nature of the soul. Some people believe that soul simply suggests another word for spirit, and that they’re really one of the same, or that it implies a religious or even a spiritual quality.

You may often hear the word soul used in today’s modern culture referring to a sense of pride in areas such as religion, social customs, food, music, or even dance. I have even heard the word used when expressing a deep-felt emotion: “He put all his heart and soul into that performance.”

I’ve been amazed by the number of definitions, meanings, and references there are for one single word, which itself can mean so many different things to so many different people.

Soul is consciousness. It is my belief that the soul is the true essence of a person. When you look into a mirror and see your reflection, you notice your body, your hair, your eyes, your smile, or even your frown! The reflection looking back at you, the image you see is just your external shell; it’s not who you really are.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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