Thursday, April 30, 2009Enough
It's understanding that lifts the consciousness.
It's not saying understanding;
it is living understanding,
it is doing understanding,
it is where, in the midst of misery,
you still have understanding.
People say, "But I'm confused. I don't understand."
I say, "That's your concern."
For you must still keep breathing,
even if you're confused,
and you must still eat,
even if you don't understand,
for no one will do these things for you.
Oh, you might get a slave for a while,
but even slaves eventually say,
"When do I get mine?"
And the master always answers, "Later."
And so the slave revolts.
But if the slave is smart, it just evolves.
For at that point of evolution,
you find out that the one who has served you
has been your god,
and the one who has understood you
has been your light,
and the one who walks with you
has been the Beloved.
And you never had to go anywhere.
(From: The Tao of Spirit by John-Roger, DSS)
I have had two examples in the last week of people (not on MSIA staff) coming to me with not feeling they have enough. They had a good paying job, and were healthy, and one even had a great relationship yet they sought more. I advised one today, (unsolicited--there are still too many times where I need to keep my mouth shut!) to learn to enjoy where they were. Then they would have a new skill that they could apply to anywhere they went. They smiled--unknowingly.
Seth Godin's post below is about business but it resonated with my thoughts above:
Infinity--they keep making more of it
If you had a little business in a little town, there was a natural limit to your growth. You hit a limit on strangers (no people left to pitch), some became friends, some became customers and you then went delivered as much as you could to this core audience. Every day wasn't spent trying to get bigger.
There's no limit now. No limit to how many clicks, readers, followers and friends you can acquire.
I don't think this new mindset is better. It shortchanges the customers you have now (screw them, if they can't take a joke, we'll just replace them!) and worse, it means you're never done. Instead of getting better, you focus obsessively on getting bigger.
You're at a conference, talking to someone who matters to you. Over their shoulder, you see a new, bigger, better networking possibility. So you scamper away. It's about getting bigger.
Compared to what? You're never going to be the biggest, so it seems like being better is a reasonable alternative.
The problem with getting bigger is that getting bigger costs you. Not just in time and money, but in focus and standards and principles. Moving your way to the biggest part of the curve means appealing to an ever broader audience, becoming (by definition) more average.
More, more, more is rarely the mantra of a successful person.
There are certainly some businesses and some projects that don't work unless they're huge, but in your case, I'm not sure that's true. Big enough is big enough, biggest isn't necessary.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009Pot Pourri
People who struggle in this lifetime are playing the fool. It is not a struggle; it's a game.
J-R's quote above triggered a memory of this snippet from an interview with Krishnamurti by Bernard Levin. It has had an enormous influence on me.
BL: But can we live in the real world that we do live in where we have to catch trains and go to offices and buy bread in the shop…?
K: Yes, I’ve done all those.
BL: How can we combine all the pressures of the mundane world around us?
K: I wouldn’t do anything under pressure.
BL: You wouldn’t—I wish I didn’t!
K: No, I refuse to be under pressure, either intellectually or psychologically. I don’t mind starving, I don’t mind having no job, but I refuse to be put in that position.
Wow! It still gets to me.
Ólafur Arnalds was a very busy man last week: The 21-year-old composer, who lives in Reykjavik, wrote and recorded a new piece every day and posted it online for anyone to download. Each of the compositions is free, and all of them are lovely.
They really are exquisite. My favorites are Day 1, 3, and 7. Listen to them here.
This may gross you out but I really laughed out loud when I saw this PSA from the Australian Government on Influenza (unfortunately I was on the phone with someone at the time). This was before the Swine Flu epidemic. Now if I could just find that quote where J-R equates sneezing to orgasms!?! Enough said. Here's hoping I don't lose too many readers. (Scroll down past tags on right hand side)
Sneezing In Ultra Slow Motion - Watch more Funny Videos
Friday, April 24, 2009Miracles
We live and die at the cell level.
It's a divine form and we call it “a cell” scientifically.
I have become absolutely ga-ga over the miracle of life. Take this quote from a review in the Financial Times of Lewis Wolpert's new book How We Live and Why We Die: The Secret Lives of cells:
You are a society of cells: a collective enterprise of some 10 trillion individual living beings. Each on is ming-boggingly complex, with highly evolved systems for eating, excreting, and reproducing.
The numbers alone are awesome: a piece of brain the size of a grain of sand contains millions of nerve cells. Each one of these is in turn filled with millions of proteins, all busily performing some specialized and crucial task.
Take a minute and watch this other "miracle" unfold before your eyes ( I left space below because I wanted you to see it full size, so scroll down past the tags on the right hand side):
Thursday, April 23, 2009Food for Thought
The 7 minute YouTube piece below has stayed with me for a few days and so I wanted to share it with you. It didn't have an immediate impact on me but it's implications have grown and grown. See what you make of it in a day or two.
Sunday, April 19, 2009Today's Heroes
The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men.
--Henry David Thoreau
Here is a rather large excerpt from financial pundit, author, and TV celebrity Ben Stein. It's the last of his biweekly column called 'Monday Night At Morton's.' Definitely worth a read as it covers the change of values taking place that we have talked about in this blog. (Hat tip to Billy in Kaua'i)
I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end. It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world's change have overtaken it.
I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to. How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a 'star' we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails. They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer.
A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him.
A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordinance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded.. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad .
We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject.
There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament...the policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards.
I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin...or Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them.
But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me.. This came to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms.
This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York. I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human.
Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.
--By Ben Stein
Saturday, April 18, 2009A Poem
I just loved this poem from MSIAer Anne Naylor's latest post at the Huffington Post.
Autobiography in Five Chapters
1. I walk down the street.
There is deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost.... I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
2. I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I'm in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
3. I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault
I get out immediately.
4. I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I walk around it.
5. I walk down another street.
Thursday, April 16, 2009Good Common Sense
God did not put you on this planet to be a beggar. God put you here and said: You are the prince of the throne and an heir to all powers, principalities, and kingdoms. I will give you the Light. I will sustain you forever, and all you have to do is come back to Me.
Please read this good common sense from the excellent Nassim Nicholas Taleb in a recent Financial Times article:
People who were driving a school bus blindfolded (and crashed it) should never be given a new bus. The economics establishment (universities, regulators, central bankers, government officials, various organisations staffed with economists) lost its legitimacy with the failure of the system. It is irresponsible and foolish to put our trust in the ability of such experts to get us out of this mess. Instead, find the smart people whose hands are clean.
Do not give an addict more drugs if he has withdrawal pains. Using leverage to cure the problems of too much leverage is not homeopathy, it is denial. The debt crisis is not a temporary problem, it is a structural one. We need rehab.
Finally, this crisis cannot be fixed with makeshift repairs, no more than a boat with a rotten hull can be fixed with ad-hoc patches. We need to rebuild the hull with new (stronger) materials; we will have to remake the system before it does so itself. Let us move voluntarily into Capitalism 2.0 by helping what needs to be broken break on its own, converting debt into equity, marginalising the economics and business school establishments, shutting down the "Nobel" in economics, banning leveraged buyouts, putting bankers where they belong, clawing back the bonuses of those who got us here, and teaching people to navigate a world with fewer certainties.
Then we will see an economic life closer to our biological environment: smaller companies, richer ecology, no leverage. A world in which entrepreneurs, not bankers, take the risks and companies are born and die every day without making the news.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009Bits and Pieces
Human character is revealed in how we live our lives. It is revealed by what we devote our lives to and how much love we put into what we do.
Quote of the Day:
Now I am not a professionally trained economist or banker, merely a historian of the reasons why Great Powers seem to have risen over time, and then steadily collapsed some generations later. Yet it appears to my non-scientific mind that if a particular national government decides on the one hand to issue more and more Treasury debt, and on the other hand to have its national bank purchase large amounts of the same, it runs a serious risk of scaring investors about its long-term credit- worthiness.
Interesting fact from Richard Russell of Dow Theory Letters:
It takes a fertility-rate of 1.5 in order for a nation to maintain a stable population. No nation in Europe has a fertility rate as high as 1.5. Japan is drying up; it's become a nation of geriatrics.
The nation with the lowest fertility rates are Poland, Ukraine, South Korea, Belarus, Hong Kong, Macau.
The highest fertility rates are in Mali, Niger, Uganda, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Burundi.
For those of you following my Middle Game series of posts (under Getting Ready on the right hand side), this article may be of interest under The Battle for Influence. Excerpt:
Beijing has bolstered its presence without bombast, perhaps out of an awareness that its relationship with the United States is still of paramount importance. But this deference may not last.
“This is China playing the long game,” said Gregory Chin, a political scientist at York University in Toronto. “If this ultimately translates into political influence, then that is how the game is played.”
And finally, this is a lesson in how abundance comes in many guises. (it's become so popular they didn't allow me to embed the actual video so here is the link):
Tuesday, April 14, 2009Abundance Mentality
From: A LIFE THAT COUNTS by Dr. John C. Maxwell
Ben Franklin once wrote, "I would rather have it said 'he lived usefully' than 'he died rich.'" More than just words, it was the way Franklin lived his life. One example of his useful nature was the invention of the Franklin stove. Instead of patenting it and keeping it to himself, Ben Franklin decided to share his invention with the world.
According to Dr. John C. Van Horne, Library Company of Philadelphia: "Franklin's philanthropy was of a collective nature. His sense of benevolence came by aiding his fellow human beings and by doing good to society. In fact, in one sense, Franklin's philanthropy, his sense of benevolence, was his religion. Doing good to mankind was, in his understanding, divine.” Even his position as a printer fit this philosophical bent. He did not hoard his ideas, but shared them, and everyone benefited. He had an "abundance mentality."
Instead of seeing the world in terms of how much money he could make, Franklin saw the world in terms of how many people he could help. To Benjamin Franklin, being useful was its own reward.
As I age, I gain perspective on the illusion of wealth and status as forms of fulfillment. I don't want my life to be measured by dollars and cents, or the number of books I've authored. Rather, I want to be remembered by the lives that I've touched.
Here is an interesting take on the American Dream. I believe we will be seeing more of this in the coming years. Excerpt:
The American dream I believe in now is a shared one. It's not so much about what I can get for myself; it's about how we can all get by together.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009At Ease
Tithing is a way of saying, “God, pour forth whatever blessing You have for me.”
God is health, or lack of disease.
God is always at ease, always present, always now, and is constantly creating and expanding.
(From God Is Your Partner by John-Roger, DSS)
My favorite joke of all time is about three Jews boasting about their rabbis. One claims his rabbi is so devout and fearful of the Lord he trembles night and day, and has to be strapped to the bed so that he doesn't fall out.
The second claims his rabbi is so holy and close to God that God trembles and is afraid of displeasing the rabbi.
The third says his rabbi went through both those stages. First the rabbi used to tremble, then it got to the point where God trembled. But then the rabbi thought it over and said to God, "Look, why should we both tremble?"
I think of that joke when I read J-R's profound quote above. If "God is always at ease, always present, always now," why should I tremble? Why don't I jump on the bandwagon and be at ease?
In fact, I think I will. Now.
Here is one of the reasons I think that the economic recovery is going to take a long time. Financial Quote-of-the-Day from columnist and financial commentator Stephen Roach:
Put it together and it all smacks of a dangerous sense of déjà vu: promoting a false recovery by kick-starting overextended, saving-short American consumers to borrow once again by leveraging their major asset.
Fortunately, the American consumer is smarter than the quick-fix Washington mindset. Shell-shocked families -- especially some 77 million baby boomers for whom retirement planning is an urgent imperative -- know they have no choice other than to save.
Saturday, April 11, 2009The Gleefully Frugal
When you attune to the Beloved, you find out that you want to produce unconditional loving and be in that energy field. Those people who are also working in the unconditional energy field start blending together with it. However, if you start to produce unconditional loving with the idea of getting somebody to blend with it, it won’t work. That’s manipulation and you won’t like the consequences. It really has to come from the place of un-condition—no condition. It’s the attitude that however the wind blows is fine with you. And if it doesn’t blow, that’s equally fine. That’s getting into unconditionality. It can be a scary place to be when you are used to being controlling, demanding, and spoiled. But regardless, it is the unconditionality of life that must be lived.
(From The Rest of Your Life by John-Roger, DSS, with Paul Kaye)
Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it. Whatever you are feeling, love yourself for feeling it.
Great short article in the New York Times today on the gleefully frugal. Definitely one to read for the times we live in. Excerpts:
...a subset of savers are reducing costs not just with purpose, but with relish. These are the gleefully frugal.
“I’m enjoying this,” said Becky Martin, 52, who has cut up her 10 credit cards, borrows movies from the library instead of renting them, and grows her own fruits and vegetables — even though her family is comfortable.
Ms. Martin is a real estate investor, her husband is a plastic surgeon, and their home sits on the 12th hole of a Cincinnati country club.
“It’s a chance to pass along the frugal lifestyle that my mother gave to me,” she says, noting that her sensibilities seem to be rubbing off not just on her sons, but also on her husband. “We’re on the same page financially for the first time in years, and it’s fabulous.”
Americans’ spending is down and their personal savings are up — sharply. “It’s huge,” said Martha Olney, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in the Great Depression, consumerism and indebtedness. The rapid reversal is even more remarkable, she said, because in recessions consumers usually save less money. Not this time. “It implies a re-emergence of thrift as a value,” she said.
The gleefully frugal happily seek new ways to economize and take pride in outsaving the Joneses. The mantra is cut, cut, cut — magazine and cable subscriptions, credit cards, fancy coffee drinks and your own hair.
Thursday, April 9, 2009A Moment of Tao
Have you ever smelled perfume from a flower?
That's similar to how the Spirit moves.
That flower was really nearby in order for you to smell it.
And if you turned toward that essence of perfume and started tracing it back,
you came to the source it was coming from.
But you must pursue it in order to get to the source.
If the perfume seems to float interminably through the air, you have more of a job.
You have to be more alert, more aware,
more watchful than before.
And it could be that you smelled it for so long,
you've lost track that it's present.
But someone new coming in will say,
"That sure smells like roses,"
to once again refresh your mind of what you know.
(From The Tao of Spirit by John-Roger, DSS)
To strike his target, the Zen archer must be conscious yet not self-conscious. He must become one with the bow, take aim without aiming, and let the arrow release itself. Even after all that, it will be a miracle if he doesn’t put someone’s eye out. This raises the question “Why shoot bows and arrows in the first place?” The Middle Ages are over. You should find a nice sport, like tennis.
(From Zen Judaism by David M. Bader)
Wednesday, April 8, 2009More on Gratitude
More on gratitude. Check out this lovely article (Hat tip to Deborah). Excerpt:
There may be a positive byproduct of our troubled times: a decrease in the urge to complain. People who still have jobs are finding reasons to be appreciative. (It feels unseemly to complain about not getting a raise when your neighbor is unemployed.) Homeowners are unhappy that home values have fallen, but it's a relief to avoid foreclosure. And yes, our portfolios have plummeted, but most of us can say that at least we didn't invest with Bernie Madoff.
There is also a growing "noncomplaining" movement that touts the belief that whining doesn't work as a strategy, and that happiness can be found through rituals such as writing in "gratitude journals."
Will Bowen, a minister in Kansas City, Mo., is on a mission. His nonprofit organization, A Complaint Free World Inc., has distributed almost six million purple bracelets emblazoned with the group's name. When wearers find themselves complaining, they're asked to switch bracelets to their other wrists. The goal is to go 21 days without having to switch.
I've been a bit bemused by the amount of financial support that the Government has given the banks. I understand that it is being done to prevent the financial system from collapsing but it does bring to mind the idea that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is what is known as being crazy.
After sitting with this for quite a while I am now of the opinion that this solution is really no solution at all. Then what is the solution? I think the best thing is to allow things to fail that are not working--not as a punishment but because strength and creativity are born out of adversity and limitation. It seems to me that this path of spending beyond our means will become a burden to future generations and will feel like a punishment not of their making. I guess they are the ones that will grow strong and be creative.
Just a few thoughts.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009Health and Gratitude
I am taking off to facilitate the sixth week of the PTS Health Class. This is a great quote from John-Roger that we use in the class:
Health is not so much about the food, or the nutrition in the food, it’s more about how the cell level is energized, through clean blood and good oxygen--that’s what brings life and vitality. When that’s not happening we get sluggish, lethargic, and we start dying. Literally, we start dying. We live and die at the cell level.
So do breath deeply and get those cells oxygenated. Exhaling is one of the great and most important detoxifying systems of the body.
And, talking of health, practicing gratitude is very, very good for it. Make sure you read my latest email post that just went out.
Saturday, April 4, 2009Mandated Empathy and other Laughing Matters!
Got this yesterday from a regular blog reader:
Loved your blog today Paul! Beautiful summation of what works and being spiritual warriors by being practical! Prepare, do the best, and stay the middle ground [moderation]--my take on J-R's words.
Anyway, Since you started blogging - I have:
Paid off my debts [$1,000 left for my car to pay - it's in the bank]
Saving MORE every month then I spend
Money Magnant is over $10,000.00 and half of it is earning interest
Savings in cash at hand for emergencies - over a $1,000
Been keeping a budget since last fall - and see my wealth building increasing daily - regardless of worldly circumstances
Retirement pension - that was invested extremely conservative is still paying off positive in interest
Taking better care of my health
Built a supportive, viable and valuable friendships as well as my own personal family.
I just don't own any land, and I don't have any gold bars or ounces.
I do a lot of spiritual practices, so that may make up for lack of property!
Much loving to you, really appreciated the metaphor you've been using for the game of "Go" - and how Asia has mastered this one for years! Makes you wonder - China investing in USA for many years now.
We've been talking about empathy on this blog recently. Now it's mandated!
Oh-oh, I missed step number 5 yesterday--
Do your best to have a good laugh, as often as you can.
Laughter is good for your health and reduces stress and has a myriad of other benefits. Read this post on laughter from the Mayo Clinic.
Friday, April 3, 2009The Middle Game--Part Eight--Summing It Up
Spirit is not worried. Your Soul is not worried. It knows the perfection.
The most effective meditation I have ever seen is worrying. Unfortunately, it goes the wrong way, and I have not seen too many changes made because of worrying. But I know that holding a positive focus on what you want and taking continual small steps towards it is the way to bring it about.
(From Fulfilling Your Spiritual Promise by John-Roger, DSS)
Whichever model one uses it certainly appears that we have chosen to be in a time of immense change. Readers of this blog will know that my personal opinion is the extent of these changes will be made abundantly clear within the next 5-7 years. It is likely that these changes will come in surges—it will be peaceful and a quiet, a lull, and then a sudden unexpected surge.
I have also outlined the nine challenges we will be facing. My metaphor has been the ancient game of Go and in that metaphor that we have entered the Middle Game, the most active and dynamic phase of the game.
What does this all mean for us? To me, and please be clear it is purely my personal opinion, it means four things:
1) Get your affairs in order as best you can. Pay off as much debt as you can, save a little, use good money management, own a few gold coins, and be frugal. If you own property that is a plus and if you have a garden start experimenting with growing your own food as much as is practical.
2) Be as healthy as you can. If nothing else, walk a few minutes a day. Move your body. It is the best thing you can do for your health and it doesn’t cost anything.
3) Follow the spiritual principles of abundance and prosperity. They will keep you close to God. They involve giving and gratitude, and grace. Joyful Givers consistently report miracles of protection.
4) Start developing a community of people in whom you can trust. Being trustworthy is going to be one of the biggest assets a person can have.
With the above in place start to develop desired positive outcomes and create ideal scenes, know what is most important to you, and develop a positive internal dialog. Do NOT lose in any kind of fantasy you create.
Understand that service will be the only game in town. You’ll be serving someone.
Thursday, April 2, 2009Expansion
Today I sent my first post via email to over 1,000 readers of Loving Each Day who opted in to receive it. It is basically a twice weekly blog on the spiritual principles of abundance and prosperity without the edginess and opinion that you will find here.
The regular readership on this blog has been about 50 people, so I am glad these principles will reach a wider audience.
If you didn't sign up you can sign up here and get the next one.
I'll be writing a summary and conclusion tomorrow of the The Middle Game series of posts.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009Happy April 1
Great news. The renowned British newspaper The Guardian has gone to an all Twitter format and has taken the extraordinary step of putting its 188 year-old archive into the Twitter 140 character approach. Read the whole article here.
Meanwhile here are some exciting excerpts, OMG! this is so awesome!:
A mammoth project is also under way to rewrite the whole of the newspaper's archive, stretching back to 1821, in the form of tweets. Major stories already completed include "1832 Reform Act gives voting rights to one in five adult males yay!!!"; "OMG Hitler invades Poland, allies declare war see tinyurl.com/b5x6e for more"; and "JFK assassin8d @ Dallas, def. heard second gunshot from grassy knoll WTF?"
For example, Martin Luther King's legendary 1963 speech on the steps of the Lincoln memorial appears in the Guardian's Twitterised archive as "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by", eliminating the waffle and bluster of the original.
Currently, 17.8% of all Twitter traffic in the United States consists of status updates from Zoe Golightly, whose reliably jolly tone, whether trapped in a lift or eating a scrumptious tart, has won her thousands of fans. A further 11% is made up of her 363,000 followers replying "@zoeG LOL!", "@zoeG EXACTLY the same thing happened to me", and "@zoeG Meanwhile, I am making myself an omelette! Delicious!"