Sunday, March 27, 2011

William James Post-lude

I finished the book "Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James.

I finished my Sunday workout: 97 minutes of exercise equipment in my one bedroom apartment, and then an 11 mile run in the park. I ran in 36F temps with a strong east wind. As I type now, there is a light snow falling but it won't really amount to anything.

You may have noticed that while I was reading James, I quietly put down "A Course in Miracles." Next to look at is several articles by Paul Brunton and "Metaphysics" by Aristotle.

At work, I may be in transition or maybe not. I interviewed for a promotion on Friday. The interview went well, but there are forces in the company beyond my control. And so here is the rub, the spiritual connection.

I am dependent on a higher consciousness (to which I don't have direct access) to work out the so-called "luck" or favoritism for me to get the promotion. I believe in the presence of the higher consciousness. My life seems to go better when I think my life is not my own but belongs to it. This moment in my history could be the end of a trail of delusions which I call spirituality. However, I don't believe I will turn off my faith. I can't control the volume of the higher consciousness's voice speaking quietly (if at all). The best I can do is maintain interior silence, listen to the silence, and then suit up and show up for my exterior life.

Life is either a blessing or a curse. I get the blessing if I put faith in my spiritual delusion and not the world.

Summing Up Religious Experience

I am finishing the book "Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James. If you have not heard of it, maybe that's cause it was written more than a century ago. I have enjoyed it as it is a great analysis of individual spiritual experience vs institutional religion from a scientific methodology. The book is woven through with ideas from "A Course in Miracles," which was not written until 70 years later. The book clearly shows the foundation of Bill Wilson's spiritual theories (Alcoholics Anonymous). The book quotes almost no scripture and does not at all approach the subject of Jesus and his divinity.

Religion or spirituality is about me and who God is to me. Even the societal pressures to conform to the predominate religion has an affect on me personal relationship to God. The conclusion for me: I have sought God for decades. I believe some higher power has been active in my life. I have no proof of the existence of said God. My life is more meaningful if framed in the divine relationship and divine presence.

For some religious people, church is following a commandment of the deity. "Do this in remembrance of me." If they don't do it, they are guilty.

For some born-again Christians, God is an emotional satisfaction built on an effective emotional experience.

For atheists, no-God is true because there is no evidence of God; and most if not all God-experiences can be traced to physical properties.

I can't say my spiritual study is emotionally satisfying. I can't say I follow commandments from God because of fear of guilt and damnation. I'm one of the ones broken free of the Bible's false grip of authenticity. I can't say I have any proof of God's or Spirit's existence.

All I have is a mental tenacity that wants to connect to Spirit and receive help from Spirit. In this condition, any sense of presence fails me. However, I truly find comfort in reciting my spiritual creed. My God is a solid rock upon which I stand. I've never gone down too far nor up too far.

My life is not my own. That is one of the most soothing statements ever.

I create my running out of freedom, not ill health or some doctor's advice. So my purpose in it is divorced from the reason why most people take up exercise. For me however, the pursuit of infinite endurance has been a lifelong interest. My running is a constant in my life, a steady state. The energy of endurance and the energy of prayer are one and the same, intertwined as if making love.

I return to what I said above: my spirituality is about me. If I get the promotion at work, its because I let some higher power work out the details and give me intuitive thoughts if I need to know something. I am yet a tangle of negative attitudes and thoughts. This tangle is my unhappiness with life. Supposed spiritual practice has loosened the grip of negativity and allowed for success in peaceful living. I still wander aimless on the earth. I have no final goal unless you call some spiritual mountain top my goal. What I need is spiritual help and I do believe I get it. I admit my belief is a delusion; perhaps even a dishonest and corrupt soul sickness. Part of the reason I seek solitude is to sort through this soul sickness.

And so starts my Sunday workout: 4 to 5 hours of endurance.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Real Spirit

I spent 4 years in a monastery under extremely heavy religious indoctrination. And then I spent another year in a parish doing post-monastic-Catholic indoctrination. I failed my post-monastic-Catholic indoctrination.

I've spent the past 6 years (7?) trying various spiritual tools, trying to figure which one would lead me to direct knowledge of God (sometimes called enlightenment). Its possible that it has taken me more time after Catholicism than during Catholicism to let go of Catholic and monastic teachings. I would say that my religious studies are at an ebb right now.

The person who has the initial spiritual experience tries to share or explain or teach the experience. No one gets it. But they do invent a religion based on whatever the initiator said. The religion never even comes close to providing the initiator's experience.

Quite apart from my religious studies, I spend a good deal of time in solitude; where I just sit quietly in the presence. This is where I am at now: bare Spirit, no religious clothing. When I stop to notice the quiet presence, it is there. The quiet presence be trusted. The quiet presence really doesn't need to be more than that. And, whats been hard for me, is that the quiet presence is not less than someone else's enlightenment experience.

It sounds like I have zero confidence in my own spiritual revelations; and so you might think that they must not be the real deal. I don't blame you because for years I wanted the more elaborate spiritual experience. I am certain that if I had not compared myself to others, I'd be perfectly happy with myself. Comparisons and judgments are my real problem; not God.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Aslinger Post-lude

Yesterday, I finished Aslinger 50 miles, and drove home.

Last night, I asked the Lord, “What is the bottom line?” Trust is the word that immediately entered my mind, because I need to trust the Spirit of the Lord to take care of my work life.

Part 2 of the answer was like this. I am reading Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. I’ve read all these conversion experiences and the psychological explanations. Still, last night I said, “Lord, I wish I had the knowledge and love which was heartfelt enough to where I was always attracted to you.” These people with bliss experiences supposedly have such knowledge of safety that they never again feel fear. But then I realized that there is a media bias towards people who have the emotional experience of enlightenment and we are taught to want that. In spiritual terms, however, there is no “less than” associated with the person who has consciously decided to carry out the faith process. I have the gift of conscious conversion, to carry out the process of making the spiritual the center of my life as a decision and plan of action. I’m not doing it by myself. I do have spiritual help. But the Spirit honors my process. My plan or its actions are not important. The faith and the conscious turning to listen to the Spirit is what are important.

So, in a sense, that is a hugely beautiful thing: I walk hand in hand with the Spirit of the Lord because I want to.

So, yesterday, I ran 50 miles and drove home.

This morning, being un-injured though a bit fatigued, I find myself in exercise clothes, stretching, foam rollering, core exercises, free weights and some easy aerobics.

You have to ask: why? What is driving this activity? Shouldn’t I take a day off? I have depth within me. When I am working out, I am going in and finding my core, my essence. I must need to do this.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Aslinger Race Report

I had questions. Here are the answers:

a) yes, my large quantity of training did help me do much better with 50 miles. I did finish; quitter didn't rule this time.

b) 50 miles always hurts.

Short report: 50.12 miles, 10h47 min (from Garmin without indoor pit stops, but including on-course aid-station), 11h20 total elapsed.

Splits for 10 miles:

2:01 (all jogging)
2:08 (started some walking)
2:21 (haha, barely moving)

Longer but still not very long report:

-On Friday, I slept in until 8:30am and left for Cape Girardeau at 11. Drive was very smooth. St Louis was not a pain. Ate dinner at Panera and got to the race site a little after 6.

-First thing, the RD, Bryan was chowing down a huge sandwich but he immediately said hi. He said he was happy to see me back. He got my plaque from last year (Senior women's champion, well I won the women's division too, but the open plaque went to the other woman who was only 42).

I changed my clothes and put my shoes on. I was ready about 15 min before start.

-Biggest happy face : Runningsister (aka Angela)!!!

Runningsister has cancer, but she still goes to ultras. I met her last year and have been following her blog. So I was INCREDIBLY happy she came. (she was in it for 24 hours, not like sissy me only doing 12, and she had done an ultra last weekend too)

-It was cool (50F, about 10C) and a tiny bit drippy. We started at 7 pm (about 35 of us, most of them doing 24 hrs as the "normal" 12 hour entrants were doing it during the day but cheap me didn't want to spend any money on a hotel).

-I ran the first 2 hours with Mike, a big young guy (really cute, but I didn't see his face until morning).

-For the first 3 or so hours, I was trying think up an excuse to quit and save face. I was totally discouraged when they posted that I ran only 18 miles in 4 hours. Cr@p, at that rate, I won't even make 50 in 12 hours, let alone in the 10.5 hours I really wanted to finish in. I was certain I couldn't last for 50 miles and kept thinking my right foot was going to howl pretty soon and end the matter (it never really did as I finally got that shoe right).

-At around 4 hours, I suddenly remember my mantra: Spirit of the Lord remind me to...accept your grace full love and present peace. "Things" started to go better and before I knew it, I realized I had finished a marathon and 50k seemed do-able.

- There was a sudden downpour around 15 miles. I was right by my car so quickly decided to get the pvc rain coat. It stopped pretty quick. and it rained 2 more little times so I wasted some time with coat putting on and off (I might have been the only wuss who did this)

- It seemed like a race of the gimpies. Everyone, even the young guys, looked at little ouchey from time to time. Some of the older guys looked positively listing and lame. But, dang, these people kept on (I would've quit).

-Ultra races have a tendency to strip away the big talk and flashy dreams that the training leaves you with. Its all a matter of truth. Either you keep going or you don't. There is no glamor. Everyone pretty much runs in their own little hell, wondering how they'll make it. Its all mental. My brain never seems to want to do it, and I have to somehow get past my own thoughts. Somewhere along the line, all your numerical idealisms fall away and your only hope is to keep going.

-At about 35 miles, I was down in the dumps again and asking for help, saying, "You do this, I can't." Then, I thought of a new prayer: Spirit of the Lord run with me...Teach me I am light and set me free. Things started to go pretty good again. Around then I walked a bit with Runningsister. She asked how my goal was coming. My answer included this gem, "I've only been walking on that hill over there." She laughed and said, "You know things are bad when you think there is a hill on a completely flat course."

-About 3:30 am, the sky looked sort of bright and I heard a bird tweet. I first thought, how can it be getting light already (and in the western sky to boot). It took me a long time to realize the brightness was from the moon, which was full, but I never got to see until it was about 4:30 am.

-At 47 miles (how the F*ck did that happen) I informed the lap counters that I was stopping at 50 miles. We agreed I had 3 laps; and Bryan the RD heard this conversation.

- At 48 miles I said, "If there is a God, thank you."

-When I got to the counters to start the last lap, I made a big deal out of it being the bell lap saying, "ding ding ding ding." The last lap, one blister finally decided to start yelling.

- At 49.5 miles, I said, "God, I'm not taking my will back. I still don't think I can finish on my own. You are still in charge."

- I finish 50 laps. The Garmin says 50.2 miles. The counters suddenly say, "Bryan said you wanted to run 50 miles but that is on 49.2 miles." I say, "I don't care what you say. I did 50 laps and my Garmin says 50.2. I get the buckle for 50 right?" "Yes." So into the building I go. (Bryan came over later and apologized for the counters. He had heard the 47 mile conversation and passed me twice on the course since then so he knew I ran the laps. He said it should have been about 50.18, which is what my Garmin got)

- I get my buckle.

- I didn't quit! (even though I passed my car 50 times) I think this is because prayer took my mind away from me and I was running on a higher power.

- My gear was parked near the nurse. I asked her if she had something clean to pop a blister. Ummm, no (after a frantic search through a kit). Ok, you must have an alcohol wipe? Oh, yeah, I'm sure I have that. Ok, the nurse seemed appalled at my feet. But I actually think they look very good, I mean really good. I've seen them in much much worse shape. But she did help me carry my stuff to the car and filled my coffee cup.

-On the road home. The first 100 miles was a little tough on keeping the eye lids open. But after that I was fine and made the drive with only 2 stops.

Thats my story and I'm sticking to it. Ultras always hurt, but they hurt less the more milage you do.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Aslinger Pre-lude to 50 Miles

In about an hour, I'll get in the car and drive 5 hours to southern Missouri for the Aslinger Endurance run. I hope to complete 50 miles.

Here is my romantic notion of today:

I feel like the unknowing hero sallying forth into an unseen adventure. Today, my inner Jason will step forward to overcome challenges, my inner David will step forward to battle enemies, and my inner Jesus will step forward to be crucified.

This is the intensity of the hero which I seek to set free anytime I go in a long distance race. This hero overcomes my normal inhibitions and impels me to go beyond the practical. It is not the holy grail which is the object of my quest; but within the pain, exhaustion, darkness and aloneness, I hope to find a moment of freedom from my ordinary logical rational mental framework. I hope for a tiny opening where one ray of spiritual light touches my heart.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sudden and Spontaneous Conversion

I've been reading William James "Varieties of Religious Experience." He gives many examples and makes it quite clear that God's pattern of individual enlightenment, or conversion as he calls it, is this: desperate deep despair of sin, surrender, spontaneous salvation. Most of his examples are not of people who spent years in monasteries, or in self study, and achieved God's favor. In fact, most of his examples are of the ungodly.

And so yesterday evening, as I spoke quietly to what ever voice speaks to me, I expressed my disappointment and resentment. I have wanted enlightenment ever since the moment on a Jerusalem street when I first desired God-at-all (more than 25 years ago).

The voice replied, "this does not negate your simple practice of listening and waiting." In other words, "Be still and know," as the Psalmist said, is a valid and real thing to do. The embodiment of inner peace is a real connection with God. It doesn't carry the emotional liberation of spontaneous enlightenment/ conversion. As I write this blog, I realize that the listening practice carries cosmic implications of which I am unaware.

I live on faith alone, practicing the silent waiting. I continually offer up my resentment that I have not received spontaneous conversion. I have not reached the depths of despair which seem necessary for conversion. I realize that I cannot self generate despair. But I accept the grace full life and present peace given by the Spirit of the Lord to me today. Its possible I view the quiet continuously present inner connection with Spirit as a "better than nothing" option. That sounds terrible to realize that I resent God because God is present to me, but not giving me special experience.

I slept late today as I am going to a workshop. Today I enter a new relationship. I am to officially become a mentee. Yes, my company is having a day long workshop with a group of us entering these relationships. My fellow mentees are an awesome group of individuals. Several of them will also be part of the Passport Leadership Program which starts in April. I am among a great group. I am humble because I don't feel worthy.

So, on the one hand is resentment for lack of enlightenment. On the other hand is a great gift of relationship and learning experiences. I sit still in the middle, waiting and listening.

Tomorrow night is the Aslinger Endurance run. I am resting from workouts today and tomorrow I'll drive to the race site. Who knows what a night of running will hold. Races are always holy environments for me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Aslinger - Pre-Prelude

Today is Wednesday. The Aslinger Endurance run starts Friday night at 7 pm. I'll run all night. I hope to get to 50 miles, and stop there.

I thought alot last night and this morning about my fitness lifestyle. My time commitment goes far beyond what is needed for health or even marathon training. I realize most people can look at me and think, "well she doesn't have a life." In addition, I am continually trying to explain that my training and racing is not about the speeds or distances or accomplishments.

I feel the pull before any workout, "I wish I could go for hours." As I think about my desire to workout for an endless period of time, I realize that the quality of endless peace and self transcendence is what I am really after.Actually, my whole foray into ultra-running began with the idea of self transcendence thru running, as promoted by Sri Chinmoy. The endlessness offers me escape from myself (my restless personality) and the world, and draws me like a drug. Working out and the hope of transcendence of my ego are the center of my life. I revolve around the breaks from the ordinary work-a-day world. This is my prayer. This is my pathway to higher mind. My whole life has been about the pursuit of higher mind and working out is part of it for me.

So as I look at my upcoming race, I know what will happen. It is a one mile loop and it will shortly become dark but lit with street lights. I will just peacefully go around and around while my rational mind loses is grip. I'll stop at 50 miles (if that), because I want to be able to work out again soon. I go to the race environment to do this because I don't stick it out for 10 hours by myself; and the race environment provides needed support for my quest.

Paul Brunton said, "The Quest not only begins in the heart but also ends there too. It is an endeavour to lift to a higher plane, and expand to a larger measure, the whole of his identity. It brings in the most important part of himself--being, essence, Consciousness."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

At the end of the day...

Its positively un American, un modern day, but I am going to stand up and say it: I have a melancholy personality. I will feel depressed quite a bit. I don't inflict it on my colleagues; in fact they like me. But inside I am usually a bit down.

This could be fixed with drugs. But I refuse. I think I will keep and explore this state of being, now that I have admitted it. It cannot be "bad". It just is. I will now stop trying to fix myself and instead try to understand my deeper nuances.

Continuous Prayer

This morning, I woke up with a peaceful and positive mind. One of my first thoughts was, "See my life as grace-full and enjoy it." This thought was sort of an intuitive command. My life is grace full in the sense that I have abundant time to seek God, and I do turn to Spirit for direction.

I can not explain why some days, maybe even most days, I wake up with a head full of self deprecation. I do my spiritual work in order to dig out of the mental crap. Some days, I don't seem to make it. The defeatist attitude is what I call "melancholy," which is an old fashioned term but seems to fit me better than the more modern "depression." Why am I melancholic? Was it the way I was born, or my horrible parents, or God? I guess it doesn't matter how it came to be. I have the tools to improve it. In fact, melancholy has driven my entire spiritual practice; and so I should perhaps be grateful. If I was of benign emotional consistency, I'd probably not pursue the spiritual life at all. I'd go to the car show and eat hot dogs.

Today, in my happy state of mind, I composed a new litany, or spiritual creed, or spiritual life line.

Spirit of the Lord remind me to
Live your grace-filled life and present peace.
You created me. I am your love.
Living here and being one with you.
Eternal silence lives its life in me.
Still and quiet love has set me free.

And during my 20 mile jog, I repeated this alot. In the past 30 years, I have basically devoted several years of my life to about 4 theological systems: 12 Step spirituality taught in AA; Benedictine monasticism; Roman Catholicism and A Course in Miracles. Except for Catholicism, I find many overlapping and helpful spiritual concepts. At this point in my life, I seem to want to integrate what ever was good about these things and strike out directly into God. I want to live directly in spirit, not through someone else's propositions.

And my spiritual life line is something short and quick to grasp at some times; and slowly ponder at others. It is my "practice of the presence," my continuous prayer. This particular litany is closer to what I actually think and farther from what I read in books.

Today, running and repeating my creed, I finally made the connection between spirit and leadership at work. At work, I am embarking on 3 leadership programs. I've been afraid that leadership means setting my ego about the task of complying with company norms and working hard to get ahead. But I know that this attitude is not sustainable and not fun. In so far as work is about money and position and beating out my colleagues, then it is an ego motivated achievement and makes me UNhappy. In so far as it is creativity, mindful matters, facilitation and break through thinking, then it is a spiritual achievement in harmony with my true existence as a creation of love. If I re-frame the leadership activity as an invitation from spirit to go and live my true existence, mean while trusting spirit to provide whatever opportunities come my way' then the endeavor is sustainable, happy and fulfilling on the spiritual level.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Little Story About Higher Help

My higher power is so freak'en subtle. Its as annoying as hell to live on intuition and not bright lights and bongos.

Last night and this morning, it seemed as if I was under out and out defeat; melancholy at its finest. God will never come. I don't know "Why not me?" I'm doomed to be a rationalist; the wrong sort of disposition for spiritual flight.

I was up very early today, because I dread Monday morning of spring daylight savings. This year I go to work at 6 am and have been getting up at 3:20. So I am determined to get up early again tomorrow so I'll go to sleep on time Sunday night.

But, be that as it may, I am also cutting back on my running a bit since I have a race next Friday. After my depressing spiritual study, I worked out for 90 minutes on the ex-machines and then I went to the park for a 3 hour run. After that, I ate and wondered how I would spend the afternoon as it was only 1 pm. How does one spend the afternoon in solitude if there is not God to spend it with? I decided to meditate for a good long time, which also included a nap. I laid with my eyes shut and merely imagined light, thinking the prayer "Father."

After like an hour and a half, I commenced to reading my current book:
Varieties of Religious Experience, William James.

This book originally came to my attention more than 25 years ago when I was new in Alcoholics Anonymous. but had never read it. After getting kicked out of the monastery, it was one of the books I deemed important to re-populate my shelves with, but again never read it; until now. Today, as I was reading, I got the answer to my conundrum about whether God is helping me and how to access that help. If you are in AA, you should recognize how strikingly similar the following passages are to AA's Big Book; and so I know Bill Wilson did not write the book up out of the blue but wrote it based on earlier published spiritual material.

If there is one thing I "religiously" do, it is to turn inward for intuitive thoughts. If there is one thing that brings me relief from my melancholy, it is to turn my life over to God. I believe that reading these paragraphs just at this particular time is God's answer to my prayers for knowledge of his presence in my life; that I am not the ignored child.

What is God (97)?
The great central fact of the universe is that spirit of infinite life and power that is back of all, that manifests itself in and through all. This spirit of infinite life and power that is back of all is what I call God. … God then fills the universe alone, so that all is from Him and in Him, and there is nothing that is outside. He is the life of our life, our very life itself. We are partakers of the life of God; and though we differ from Him in that we are individualized spirits, while He is the infinite Spirit, including us, as well as all else beside, yet in essence the life of God and the life of man are identically the same, and so are one. They differ not in essence or quality; they differ in degree.” “ The great central fact in human life is the coming into a conscious vital realization of our oneness with this Infinite Life, and the opening of ourselves fully to this divine inflow. In just the degree that we comes into a conscious realization of our oneness with the Infinite Life, and open ourselves to this divine inflow, do we actualize in ourselves the qualities and powers of the Infinite Life, do we make ourselves channels through which the Infinite Intelligence and Power can work. In just the degree in which you realize your oneness with infinite Spirit, you will exchange…inharmony for harmony…. To recognize our own divinity, and our intimate relation to the Universal, is to attach the belts of our machinery to the powerhouse of the Universe. One need remain in hell no longer that one chooses to; we can rise to any heaven we ourselves choose; and when we choose so to rise, all the higher powers of the Universe combine to help us heavenward.”

To access this God (98):
“I think that the one thing which impressed me most was learning the fact that we must be in absolutely constant relation or mental touch (…) with that essence of life which permeates all and which we call God. This is almost unrecognizable unless we live it into ourselves actually, that is, by a constant turning to the very innermost, deepest consciousness of our real selves or of God in us, for illumination from within, just as we turn to the sun for light, warmth and invigoration without. When you do this consciously, realizing that to turn inward to the light within you is to live in the presence of God or your divine self, you soon discover the unreality of the objects to which you have hitherto been turning and which have engrossed you without.” “…That which we usually make the object of life, those outer things we are all so wildly seeking, which we so often live and die for, but which do not give us peace and happiness, they should all come of themselves as accessory, and as the mere outcome or natural result of a far higher life sunk in the bosom of the spirit. This life is the real seeking of the kingdom of God, the desire for his supremacy in our hearts, so that all else comes as “added unto you…” and yet it is proof of the reality of the perfect poise in the very centre of our being.” And “There is nothing but God; I am created by Him and am absolutely dependent upon Him…

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday in Lent

Jesus wept.


My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?

Silent Solitude

When I was getting kicked out of the monastery, I was terribly upset that I would never have the close relationship with Jesus, as spouse, that the sisters professed to have. Hidden in the fear was the notion that I wouldn't be as good as them in God's eyes.

Now, realizing today, Jesus is a mental object for me. This mental object seems to have no reality in the tangible world whatsoever. I have either been faking it, hoping he would show up based on my faith. Or I had faith that despite his lack of reality, good ideas and beneficial situations were somehow spiritual gifts. I presumed that there was an accessible spiritual level filled with a tangible presence, a personality, which could be felt.

But now I admit that the spiritual level is for me a silent solitude which is a dark nothingness. No voices. No lights. There may be a sense of presence, but that sense could be merely a projection of my fervent wish for a tangible presence. Its funny that I hesitate to say it is darkness because I have before been accused of being in the devil because the devil is darkness and God is light.

For decades I have entered the silent solitude and looked for anything else. I read books and noticed that other people found something. So I continued my pursuit. Many people find nothing, give up, go have a beer and forget about spiritual pursuits. Yet I have persistently continued to enter that nothingness and say, "Into your hands I commend my spirit."

I said before that this silent solitude need not be perceived as terrible; and reacted to with a desperate primal scream followed by furious worldly activity which roots the person firmly in the concrete world. I am coming to believe that I can live consciously in the reality of the silent solitude, the dark nothingness.  I am coming to identify with the reality of silent solitude and allow my investment in the concrete world fritter away. I see that if my loyalty is to the nothingness, then all my worldly fears have no basis. I prefer to live fearless, even if it is as nothing.

Such a plan to let go of tangible reality would be considered psychologically dangerous. The fear of what other people thin of me is probably one of the biggest barriers to freedom that I have allowed to govern my consciousness. Now, my decision is to live in spiritual silence and follow each intuitive thought. The hazard is the insidious underlying selfish hope: if I pretend to be nothing, maybe I'll fool the gods into giving me emotional pleasure and enviable knowledge this time. That knowledge of God which is better than what others have is what my ego wants.

I, the unknown spirit writing this, am starting to want a silence which is utterly pristine, unadulterated by spiritual achievement.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


High Performance Culture
Creative Thinking
Breakthru Thinking
Mindful Matters

Is this just a list of industry buzz words?

I seriously love these concepts. I love them in spiritual terms. I love them in terms of character description. They might play into my personal religion. They infuse me with power and inspire me to pour energy into my projects. It is the concept behind the words which drives me to go above and beyond. In that sense, these words represent my God.

Do I have a dearth or abundance of spiritual experience? I find the answer to my experience of life in William James (see below). I have spent my life dancing or posturing or fighting or loving an inner idea which I can't quite make mine.

The more I learn about our so-called God, the more I think my problem is that I want what someone else says they have.

More from William James and The Varieties of Religious Experience:
"Churches when once established live at secondhand upon tradition; but the founders of every church owed their power originally to the fact of their direct personal communion with the personal religion should still seem the primordial thing. (38)"

"Religion....shall mean for us the feelings, acts and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in the relation to whatever they may consider the divine. (39)"

"Religion, whatever it is is a man's total reaction upon reactions are different from casual...To get at them, you must go behind the foreground of existence and reach down to that curious sense of the whole residual cosmos as an everlasting presence, intimate or alien, terrible or amusing, lovable or odious, which in some degree everyone possesses. This sense of the world's presence, appealing as it does to our peculiar individual temperament, makes us strenuous or careless, devout or blasphemous, gloomy or exultant, about life at large; and our reaction, involuntary and inarticulate and often half unconscious as it is, is the completest of all our answers to the question, "What is the character of the universe in which we dwell?" (42)"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Primal Scream

This morning, it was my privilege to be silent for my spiritual workout; and spend my time looking within. I was not putting anyone else's words into my head or distracting myself with any thoughts. I looked within at the silent darkness.

I had this idea. In that darkness, I could sense the possibility of a desperately painful primal scream of the soul being torn from the bosom of God. OR I could sense that all is peace. I get to choose the basis of my life when I look inside and view the silent darkness. Do I live on the basis of the primal scream or on the basis of the peace?

The sense of desperation is nothing. But I must drop all pretense and tribal beliefs and look at it honestly.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Enlightenment Perspective

Been thinking about thinking: alot. Particularly since the topic of creative thinking, innovation and high performance culture seems to be on my work agenda.

I freely admit that I am not that original with my thinking, but I am very good about shifting patterns of thoughts. I've decided to change channels on my spiritual reading for a bit. Last night I began to read a book I've had sitting on the shelf for quite some time: "The Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James.

This morning I got his perspective on the topic of enlightenment. I have for some time wondered if enlightenment was really just a chemical reaction. Below is his way of saying that, which I found interesting. But it does provoke me to extend my own thinking and change my beliefs about whether I am or not a spiritual failure.

(These come from pages 25-27.)
"When we think certain states of mind superior to others...It is either because we take an immediate delight in them; or else it is because we believe them to bring us good consequential fruits for life."
"It is the character of inner happiness in the thoughts which stamp them as good or else their consistency with our other opinions and serviciability for our needs, which make them pass true in our esteem."
"...not a single one of our states of mind, high or low, healthy or morbid, that has not some organic process as its condition... So all of our raptures and our drynesses, our longings and pantings, our questions and beliefs. They are equally organically founded, be the of religious or of non-religious content."

Also mentioning that almost all religious founders could be viewed as diseased or crazy, Mr. James mentions: there is no psycho-physical theory connecting spiritual values in general with determinate sorts of psychological change.

My point is that spiritual experiences could be drug induced, diseased induced, starvation induced, sleep deprivation induced or even ultra-marathon induced. They are all the same and equal. But who is to say cheering over a touchdown or eating turkey is not just as valid in terms of spirituality?

God comes to people in various ways, and sometimes whether they are interested or not. God is capricious and only comes to certain lucky people.

Oh come on. Is that the sort of God or spirituality I want? Could that possibly be the definition of love?

My life has been devoted to: spiritual investigation, running and daily work. But in this very instant, I'm a spiritual zero; unless I can take myself completely out of the standard spiritual concepts and find something true. But almost anything I do would be framed in biology, and my worldly programming. I can't define what is true.

For the past 9 or 10 weeks, I've been running about 80 miles a week. In 10 days, I'm going in a 12 hour race (although I plan to stop when I get to 50 miles). Today I've been up since 3:20 and I had a nice 9 mile run in the early morning darkness after my spiritual study. I can either be ecstatic or depressed. but since I just made a pot of nicely aromatic Starbucks Vanilla Fusion in my office: I choose ecstasy. Caffeine is as good as psilocybin or traumatic brain injury, and I already had my LSD today. (Long Slow Distance)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Imagine the Presence

I had the urge to blog this morning at 3:50 am, after I'd got up at 3:20 and done some spiritual work. But, it was time for a workout, so I wrote my thoughts on a piece of paper to type in after I got to work.

Now, I am sitting here with what I wrote. Part of my brain says, "Oh, that is stupid. Don't bother to blog it." That same part fears the nay-sayers who occasionally comment about how stupid God bloggers are. I'll keep it short, but I am going to say what I thought.

When I want to remember God, or realize that this world is an illusion, I think this: I imagine that all around me is the presence of a great love. It is a silent benign love who cares for all equally. When tapped into and believed, I see a world of love, not one of hate.

It is my choice to remember this great silent love. I live in it and am a part of it and so is everything and everyone. I have the ability to switch my reality from the material world to the world of benign love.

Simple but not easy. The choice and the power is mine. I can remember God or not.

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Commitment

Today is my work-at-home day. So, since there was no commute and no need to be at work at 6 am, I got in a long (2 hour) run on the hills around where I live.

For once, I was not dreaming of races but of my career. I got accepted into the 3 year leadership program. I'm also in a mentoring program, where a top executive mentors me and there are other learning opportunities. I'm also in training to be a High Performance Culture/Creative Thinking Facilitator. This on top of outstanding work performance and compliments all around. Today, someone even asked if I would go to Germany for him (gulp).

This is in contrast to the seeming reclusive no-where that I have lived since leaving the monastery 8 years ago (it hardly seems that long).

As I ran this morning, I thought about my contemplative outlook and insistence on spending spiritual time every morning and evening. I thought about A Course in Miracles and why I continue to rely on a written spiritual program instead of going it on my own.

The truth is that my emotional balance and success at both career and running has been dramatically improved since becoming an ACIM student. The emotional balance part is crucial. But as incredible as it sounds, I have turned my life over to the Holy Spirit; even though I have no proof or strong witness that there even is a Holy Spirit. I do so much better at daily life if I turn first thing in the morning to holy reading of the ACIM text and then understanding that the rest of the day belongs to the Holy Spirit. I am Its channel and Its student. I don't judge my life based on the world's definition of what is good. I see it all as the Holy Spirit's gift to me, part of my spiritual awakening, part of my spiritual role. I've given up my worldly role. I just go out each day and do the work laid out for me by the Holy Spirit.

I've decided to keep this commitment. That is the point I came to as I ran this morning. As incredible as it sounds, the spiritual approach not only helps me, but keeps me out of depression and failure; even though I have no tangible evidence of God. Relying on God is my lifeline. So, I'm going to continue doing what has been working no matter what others think of my approach.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Spiritual Basis of Life

It became obvious to me this morning why I must live my life on a spiritual basis; or else go insane with anger and fear and rage.

Do you know what a basis is? It is a financial term, the original investment. More generally, it means foundation or founding principle. So, my life is founded on a spiritual basis: because I made that decision. Whether there is a God or a Holy Spirit actually doesn't matter. I just do much better with positive ideas, attitudes and opinions if I first rely on spirituality; and NOT my own resources. The only resources I have on my own are ego-based; and these are always losers. They only get me anger, fear, hatred and despair.

Ok so this morning, the alarm went off at 3:15 (my new get up time). I sat in bed for 10 minutes. My mind was flickering between the previous days incidents with colleagues and reaching out for God, trying to remember God. When I sat down with my coffee and looked at my spiritual reading, the line that jumped out at me was, "The Holy Spirit's Love is your strength" (ACIM text 12.V.4).

This acceptance of the Holy Spirit and Its plan for me and my learning experiences is The only sane thought I have. Attempting to answer my colleagues with better-thans or any sort of defensive maneuver or simply hating them in my mind will only kill me. Yet, all this attack crap is the ego's plan for me. It fosters unhappiness right now. If I accept whatever happens as a gift from the Holy Spirit for my spiritual development and transition from ego-consciousness into spiritual-consciousness, I WILL be happy. I will make progress in being a positive influence in the troubled areas of my world.

All of my colleague's seemingly negative behavior is a call for love. If I respond by looking beyond the physical world and seeing only spirit, then they have received love: a spiritual gift. I would rather they have that than my hatred or my attempt to compete with them on the ego level.

Ok so, my company has a leadership development program. I applied for the leadership development program. Yesterday, my colleague gave his reasons for why he didn't sign up. My ego immediately identified his ego's attempt to make him look good and me look stupid. I myself immediately saw the ego trap: I could be pissed that I get accepted into the program because it is for inferior people, or I could make a case for this colleague being closed minded and too arrogant to participate in a "development" program.

But when I signed up for the program, and found that since I haven't received a rejection notice yet that I'm probably accepted, I viewed the program as a gift from the Holy Spirit through my company. So, if I now decide that the program is demeaning then I have trashed the Holy Spirit's gift to me.

How often do we trash the gifts of Love (from the Holy Spirit) because our ego doesn't approve. Whereas, if we accept the gifts of Love, we have interesting spiritual growth opportunities.

Back to the financial idea of basis. Is my investment in spirit or in ego? Is my identity in spirit or in this world? What is my choice to be? Do I want the reward of beating my colleagues on the ego level or the reward of helping all of us transcend to the spiritual consciousness?

What is my choice to be?

I must live my life on a spiritual basis or else.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Thread of My Life

This morning, as I was doing my morning spiritual workout, I wondered what I am doing here. What is the purpose of my life? I could go read in a book what humans are for. I've done that already. I wondered what I would say if I searched inside for my own answer.

It suddenly became obvious that I want to know my spiritual identity. And then it became obvious that my spiritual creed is my spiritual identity.

I am NOT a spirit having a human experience. I AM a spirit having a worldly delusion. I am a long distance runner and athlete; but this is merely a reflection of my spiritual program. It is the spiritual identity which comes first. I can see this if I review my life and all the interests and experiences I've had. I've put a spiritual spin on all of them. I even accredit my current state of fitness and career success as a spiritual endeavor and result. My worldly life is just a reflection of spiritual growth.

I've always been somewhat jealous of people who had worldly identities: family, profession, religion, etc. Earlier in life, I tried to gain one of these identities. More recently, I've divorced myself from all of them. Now, as of today, I validate my spiritual identity as the main, and really the only, purpose of my life.

Spiritual Creed:
Father in Jesus' name remind me of
Your love for me and of my love for You.

I hate the world because it is my fear.
I am spirit. Know this need not be.
Fear is lack of love. Atonement heals.
Expanding love is my reality.
I am not alone. Jesus is here.
Jesus is the undoing of the dream.
The Holy Spirit is the Voice for God.
I hear Him speak quietly in my mind.

In the holy instant I forgive.
Miracles come forth as love expressed.
Giving and receiving are the same.
Full appreciation is my gift.
The innocent see perfection truly.
Christ vision is where they put all their faith.
My mind holds only light and it shines out.
I see God's majesty in all others.

God is not symbolic. He is fact.
Peace is always firm. Love I believe.
Into His hands I commend my spirit.
And so my mind awakens to His peace.
Eternal Silence lives Its life in me.
Still and quiet Love has set me free.

Truth is my commitment. Thinking peace.
Love is my intention. Silence seen.
Love based thinking is my one desire.
Inner peace is what I really want.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Beyond This World

I have always wanted to have a new thought; something the others weren’t thinking.

Do these come from: God, Higher Self, Holy Spirit, Jesus, collective consciousness, my subconscious, or created by me?

If I am quiet, will I hear one?

Thinking something different than everyone else is a major concern of mine. At work, I take and teach courses on "Breakthrough Thinking" and creative thinking. I do everything to be outside the box. I want love-based thinking. One thing I like about A Course in Miracles is it teaches different ways to see things. I have to conclude I am a one year old crawler when it comes to unique thinking or I wouldn't still be learning from established methodologies.

This morning I was reading in 12.III in the ACIM text:
  • Whenever you become angry with a brother, for whatever reason, you are believing that the ego is to be saved, and to be saved by attack. If he attacks, you are agreeing with this belief; and if you attack, you are reinforcing it. Remember that those who attack are poor...
  • To identify with the ego is to attack yourself and make yourself poor. That is why everyone who identifies with the ego feels deprived. What he experiences then is depression or anger, because what he did was to exchange Self-love for self-hate...
  • Everything you perceive as the outside world is merely your attempt to maintain your ego identification...
  • If you will recognize that all the attack you perceive is in your own mind and nowhere else, you will at last have placed its source, and where it begins it must end. For in this same place also lies salvation. The altar of God where Christ abideth is there. ...Bring your perceptions of the world to this altar, for it is the altar to truth. There you will see your vision changed, and there you will learn to see truly.
When I run long slow distance, I am not thinking of races. I am thinking of extending my mind and becoming just a thought floating free in the universe. When I ski on the nordic track, I put ear plugs in and shut my eyes. Then I ponder my personal spiritual creed (litany). I go deep into the meaning and feel the presence of divine Silence.

    Spiritual Creed:
    Father in Jesus' name remind me of
    Your love for me and of my love for You.

    I hate the world because it is my fear.
    I am spirit. Know this need not be.
    Fear is lack of love. Atonement heals.
    Expanding love is my reality.
    I am not alone. Jesus is here.
    Jesus is the undoing of the dream.
    The Holy Spirit is the Voice for God.
    I hear Him speak quietly in my mind.

    In the holy instant I forgive.
    Miracles come forth as love expressed.
    Giving and receiving are the same.
    Full appreciation is my gift.
    The innocent see perfection truly.
    Christ vision is where they put all their faith.
    My mind holds only light and it shines out.
    I see God's majesty in all others.

    God is not symbolic. He is fact.
    Peace is always firm. Love I believe.
    Into His hands I commend my spirit.
    And so my mind awakens to His peace.
    Eternal Silence lives Its life in me.
    Still and quiet Love has set me free.

    Truth is my commitment. Thinking peace.
    Love is my intention. Silence seen.
    Love based thinking is my one desire.
    Inner peace is what I really want.