Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When the Guides Don't Guide

Every morning I read the Daily Guides in Science of Mind Magazine, not because I am in complete agreement with what Science of Mind teaches, but because I find ideas that make me think, especialy when I disagree with them. Then I have to ask myself, "if that isn't true, what is?" And I have the fun of thinking about it and writing down what I think.

One recent morning, the subject was "spiritual liberation." The affirmation at the end was, "In this moment, I know I am free. I set the course of my life. I choose my thoughts and concentrate on what I wish to experience."

My reaction was, that if I choose my thoughts from what I already know, I will be imposing limitations on myself.

I would prefer to be open to possibilities I haven't yet thought of. I know there is always more in the "big picture" than I can even imagine, so I want to find new ideas that might be able to change my way of processing the habitual substance of my life.

I have been functioning in, living in, and experiencing the same situation for several years, and am constantly learning new ways of understanding and interchanging with the two sons that are sharing this experience with me. I and they have learned to cooperate with and be kind to each other as we interact every day in all our different moods and states of health.

Earlier in my life, when things were difficult, I used to try to change the outer things--people, jobs, my location, or whatever. Now, instead, I try to look at myself with more honesty, and see what I can change there.

I know that my thoughts create the kind of life I get to live, but I have to do more than keep picking my thoughts out of the same old familiar barrel. Just choosing the best out of the worst is not enough. That's why I don't focus on "getting what I wish to experience."

I've discovered over time, after many decisions that made things worse instead of better, that there are principles involved in choosing thoughts--principles that can keep me from allowing self-will be the sole arbiter of what I do.

The one that has changed me the most is the principle of treating other people the way I would like to be treated. That doesn't mean, "I'll be nice to you if you'll be nice to me;" it means "no matter what you do, I will still treat you the way I would like to be treated in the same circumstance."

Actually, this concept is the reason we believe in the right to a fair trial. It's why civilized people have learned to be polite to each other. It's why we believe stealing is wrong. It's why I greet people with a smile even when I feel down.

It is vitally important to me to give what I'm hoping to get. Otherwise, I don't feel right with the world.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Homeless Are Human

Downtown today I saw a young homeless man that I have seen before, sitting on a bench outside a store with his sign. When I came out, I went over and greeted him and geve him a dollar. He smiled and said "Thank you! I haven't seen you for awhile." I answered "That's true. How are you?" A shadow seemed to cross his face. "I'm O.K." He paused. "Last week was kinda hard." He seemed to be making an effort to keep control. "I had to put my cat down...with my own hands." I was horrified. "Oh, that's awful! What happened?" "She was so badly injured, she was dying, and I had no money for a vet."

It was all I could do to keep my composure and not cry. I have lost and wept over many cats, but the thought of having to put one out of its misery myself was too horrible to contemplate. "I'm so sorry that happened and that you had to do that," I said. His face, though as close to stoic as he could manage, showed the pain of that decision, that action, and that loss. I spoke to him for a few minutes, told him how sorry I was, wished him well, and then I had to go on my way.

As I walked to my car I deeply wished that more people could see the humanity of the homeless, the suffering they go through, and the hardships they face just to eat, to stay alive, to keep warm, to find a place to wash, or even a place to sleep that is safe.

I've heard people comment that since they are homeless, why are they so foolish as to have pets? But what else could give them the unquestioning, unconditional love that they must sorely need in such a dire situation?

If only I were rich, I would help every one that I could.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Flow of Wisdom

Recently, as I was doing some small task, it came to me that information and wisdom are constantly flowing, always available to anyone who listens within. If I am not aware of it, or receiving it, I am not being quiet enough or attentive enough to hear. The source never goes away; I go away.

All that day, I kept sensing the dynamic energy and intelligence of the Universe, always in action, and yet always resting in some way--resting, but not at rest. It is balanced, alive, functioning, and ready. It can't be commanded, but can be brought forth by individual attention and awareness. Every individual has to find it for themselves by temporarily letting go of their own thoughts and listening. No one else can do it for you.

Many things--experiences, books, people--help to widen your scope, give you new ideas, and so on, but in the end, everyone has to come to his own awareness of what is beyond the finite, physical self and the finite, physical mind.

Human thought is apt to be limited to what we think of as realistic, to what we already know. We cut ourselves off from the not-yet-known, the infinite possibilities that lie beyond our ordinary thinking, no matter how educated or intellectual our thoughts may be.

I have found that there is an unlimited source of wisdom available to anyone who decides to listen for it from within.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Laguna Lake Park

My friend and I walked again at Laguna Lake a few days after the time of the preceding blog. We took the same abbreviated route as before, but found another path that looped back to the lake in a more interesting way through the fields.

There was absolutely no breeze, and the lake was completely still, smooth as glass, and reflecting everything--trees, houses, boats, docks, reeds, and tall grasses along the edge of the lake. So beautiful! I have never before seen the lake that still and smooth.

As we were going back to our car along the road by the lake, a big white goose was making a racket at the left side of the road, and another big white goose was marching across the road leading a combination of ducks, geese, and coots toward the lake.

As soon as they passed, we started to continue on, but the big goose on the left reprimanded us with loud squawks as a second, and larger, contingent of geese, ducks, and coots started acrose the road. It was exactly as if he were a crossing-guard saying, "Stop! You can't go yet!"

We waited respectfully while the second group of assorted birds made their way to the lake. The crossing guard followed, his job having been successfuly accomplished.

Neither of us had ever seen such a procession before, nor a pair of geese cooperating to make sure a whole bevy of different kinds of water birds got safely across a road and to their destination--the lake. I still laugh at the thought of the crossing-guard's peremptory honks. He did a perfect job. It was so clear what he meant when he stopped us, and the goose that led the procession also knew exactly what her job was.

What fascinated me was the cooperation happening between not only the two geese, but between them and the other types of birds that were being led. I was not aware that this ever happened.

I am even further amazed and admiring that the goose "crossing-guard" could communicate so clearly, not just to different birds, but to a completely different species--humans.

Now if only humans could do as good a job of cooperating, in spite of their differences, as these birds did!

Walking At Laguna Lake

One day in the spring when the grass was still lush and green, I walked with a friend at Laguna Lake Park. It was my first walk in some time because of a problem with my back, so we opted for a short walk along the lake.

We parked close to the spot where people often come to feed the birds, and sure enough, there were birds, birds, birds! Geese, gulls, ducks, coots, and others were gathered there together, some squawking loudly, some just standing in the sun, and some running hither and thither looking for seeds or insects to eat.

As we got out of the car, a small gull stood nearby watching us, waiting for a hand-out. He wasn't afraid of us at all, just hopeful. But having nothing to offer, we had to hard-heartedly go on our way, leaving him to ponder our selfishness.

The lake looked like a blue gem sparkling in the sun. There was a fresh breeze coming from the direction of the ocean, and I was glad I had brought my jacket and scarf, which had almost seemed unnecessary when we started out.

As we walked at the lake's edge, we could hear all sorts of bird sounds--songs, twitters and chirps, coming from the trees we passed, and yet we couldn't see one bird. I am amazed at how hundreds of birds can hide themselves so completely in the leaves, and then, if disturbed by something, all rise like a cloud out of one small tree.

We turned away from the shore and walked between two rows of eucalyptus trees along the edge of an open field. It was uneven underfoot, but pretty and shady. Then we turned onto a path going back in the direction from which we had come. It took us past the refurbished restrooms and the off-the-leash playing area for dogs. We wondered how the owners can be sure the dogs will get along and play with each other instead of growling and snarling and getting into fights. I don't know the answer, but dogs of all sizes, shapes, and colors were all playing happily together with no signs of tension.

How lucky we are in San Luis Obispo to have this large and beautiful park! It's set apart so completely from the hustle and bustle of the city; you feel as if you are out in the country even though across the lake you can see houses, docks, and boats. The sounds of civilization, even the traffic along Madonna Road, are muted and far away.

In every direction you see hills, either close by or far away. And in addition to the rather tame assortment of birds that wait for food, sometimes wild birds also come looking for morsels along the edge of the lake--Egrets or Great Blue Herons.

The herons don't appear to be blue when standing still in the reeds looking for prey. Not until they fly can you see their true color. I don't know of anything more beautiful than the sight of a Great Blue Heron opening his enormous wings and taking flight. The first one I ever saw, I saw at Laguna Lake.

No matter how contentious and crazy the world may seem to be, there are still lovely things in it to enjoy. And to think that some of them are here, right at our own doorstep!