Sunday, November 29, 2015

Spiritual Maturity, Sunday Service

Growing in spiritual maturity, ease and compassion become my natural movement. My life is both ordinary and awakened, filled with joy and and integrity allowing the light of the Divine to shine through me. And So It Is!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

So Much to Be Grateful For

I love this video. The images are stunning by photographer Louis Schwrtzberg and the old man is Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk. He talks about how each day, each moment is a gift to us. I do not know who the little girl is but her very human actions of having an irresistible urge make the video even more heart-warming and authentic. I hope you like it as much as I do. 

This year take a moment to really look at the beauty around you. Look into the eyes of your friends and family. See and appreciate their unique beauty. Look at your environment. Feel the blessings that are yours. Whether you live in Southern California or any other place, notice the great beauty that surrounds you. Either by choice or chance you ended up living where you are. Give thanks for that. Give thanks for your health and for life itself. If you are blessed to be enjoying Thanksgiving with friends or family, be thankful for those precious beloved beings. Give thanks for your  mind with which you perceive beauty or ugliness. Give thanks for your ability to choose. Everything you are grateful for increases. Be grateful for the food you eat and for all the people who brought it to your table.

I am so grateful for my life. I am grateful for the work I have been privileged to do ministering to a wonderful community in San Clemente. I am grateful for consciousness that surrounds me with ministers and practitioners who truly practice the principles of a grateful life. I am grateful for the abundance of talented musicians whose gifts uplift and bless me. I am grateful for my experiences -- all of them, for without any one of them I would be a different person. I am grateful for my call to ministry, for that Spirit of God that guides and comforts me.

I am grateful for you. May this Thanksgiving be an experience of joy, gratitude and transformation for you.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Expanding Our Circle, Sunday Service

I see each realm of my life as a temple, a place to discover that which is sacred. Knowing the sacred is always before me, I remain peaceful within myself, and with true love transform the world around me. And So It Is!

Friday, November 20, 2015

I Live in a Friendly, Spacious Universe

We have a problem with our neighbor.

I never thought I would say these words.

We teach oneness. From an awareness of oneness, we learn to respect opinions that differ from  our own. We learn to appreciate other points of view.

Yet we have a problem with our neighbor. My problem with our neighbor is that their employees are hogging all the parking places. We have been focusing on the problem for some time now and it has grown. Rarely do I find a parking space in our parking lot. Many of our tenants are fed up and simply double park or park on the street. Neither of these solutions is legal. There are many rumblings. 

At one time we thought we had a solution. One of our Board of Trustees negotiated with the Regional Vice President of the company to make a deal that at least 17 spots would be kept for us. When this man left the company  in August, the situation has grown larger. Our administrative staff has been asking their employees nicely to move their cars. they have also been putting a copy of a note that the former VP wrote to their employees. Many of the employees are civil but some are rude.

When we bought this building there was only one small firm in our neighboring building. Parking was no issue at all.  We have a shared use agreement which means that anyone can park anywhere. 

Another part of the issue is that according to code, you need 4 parking spaces per 1000 square feet of building . Our building is 19,500 square feet. We should have 76 spaces. Their building is 44,510 square feet which means that they should have 178 spaces. Here is the rub. The parking lot only has between 188 and 250 parking spaces and 13 of those are for handicap parking. When we bought the building we thought the shared use would be a benefit because our largest crowds are on Sunday when most other businesses are closed.

If we know anything about Principle we would know that the problem would have to increase. So what is the solution?

We could mark some spaces. I found a perfect sign for me!

Of course that doesn't address the whole issue.What can we envision? What would be a win-win for all?

I can envision a management team that really want to be good neighbors. I can envision a plan in which we treat each other with respect. I can envision a plan in which this company sees how neighborly the other is being. I can envision an agreement of limiting the parking so there is open space for clients. I can envision the company moving and  a smaller company taking their space. I envision a world that works for all.

I can envision a friendly universe . In fact I know that I live in  friendly universe which always supports me. I also know that divine mind does not distinguish between negative energy and positive energy so it has only been saying "yes" my beloved to our daily prayer of "There is no parking." 

I am ready for a different experience... so I am ready to change my thinking. I am no longer the problem and i do not have a problem with the neighbors. I practice right thinking and the Universe responds with solutions.

Here is a way to solve the problem for me!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Generosity, Co-dependence and Fearless Compassion, Sunday Service

I am in perfect balance with life, recognizing my needs and the needs of others as equally vital. as I practice fearless compassion and generosity in my life, I experience it in all life and my heart is open to all. And so it is!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Ridding the Self of Ideals of Perfection

Jack Kornfield writes: "We fragment our life and divide ourselves from it, when we hold to ideals of perfection."
You are like a full box of chocolates

The idea of accepting ourselves just the way we are is not a new idea. In ancient China, the Third Zen Patriarch taught that, 'True enlightenment and wholeness arise when we are without anxiety about imperfection.'
Long ago I heard the group Alliance sing an amazing song, the lyrics began: 

"I love myself the way I am,/ there's nothing I need to change./ I'll always be the perfect me, 
there's nothing to rearrange. / I'm beautiful and capable, of being the best me I can. 
And I love myself, / just the way I am."

This was the theme song for Louise Hay's Hayrides.In the dark days of AIDS, before there was any hope medically, Louise Hay gathered these men and women together and reminded  them of their intrinsic self-worth. For many men self-loathing turned to self-love and acceptance and they were healed.
Yet here we are today, and we still haven't realized how deeply our self-criticism cuts and what damage it does.
If Jack Kornfield's words are true, then our stubborn insistence on making ourselves wrong, is the very thing that is fragmenting our lives. He also says that we are 'dividing ourselves' from it. I am not entirely certain what this means but my best guess is that we are no longer able to see the wholeness that we are. 

The practice of self-love and self-acceptance is not for the spiritually immature. It takes mindful observation and kind and diligent practice. It is usually not something that is done without effort. It is about stopping the inner war and making peace with every aspect of oneself.

For those of us, who believed for one reason or another that we were intrinsically flawed, it is very difficult to bring those shadows to the light and accept them as part of the sacred self.

Recently a friend brought me a gift of chocolates. Each chocolate was looking fantastic. (And they tasted swell too.) There were different sizes, shapes, colors and textures. What would I have missed if I had rejected the colored ones or the square ones because they were different?

I would have missed a whole lot of enjoyment. Love and accept your whole self. You are already enough. Life is sweet.

Monday, November 9, 2015

8 Strings Attached Nathen Aswell Wednesday November 11th @ The Center

What has 8 strings, is played with both hands like a piano, is plucked like bass, is strummed like a guitar and is used to the celebrate the oneness of humanity? Come to this week's Wednesday Wisdom - Practicing the Present (7:00 p.m. November 11th at the Center For Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley in San Clemente) to find out! 

8 Strings Attached Nathen Aswell
Nathen Aswell with his NS Stick (8-string instrument)
Our very special guest will be Nathen Aswell. Nathen is a gifted speaker and recording artist based in Vancouver, Canada, and he believes that his calling in this life is to inspire and heal through his words and music. His music is a celebration of life, transformation, evolution and the oneness of humanity. Nathen has performed internationally at Conferences, Concerts, Men’s Retreats and Churches, presenting his music, stories and humour with his voice and the NS Stick (an 8-stringed electronic instrument that can be plucked like a bass, strummed like a guitar, or tapped with both hands like a piano).

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Turning Straw Into Gold, Sunday Service

I bring every experience of my life into my spiritual practice. I listen deeply for the gift of wisdom, peace and wholeness and experience the powerful transformation of seeing Good in all. And so it is!

Turning Straw Into Gold, Sunday Service

I bring every experience of my life into my spiritual practice. I listen for the gift of wisdom, peace and wholeness and experience the powerful transformation of seeing the Good in all. And so it is!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Training the Puppy

The only puppy I have ever had was a beautiful Saint Bernard puppy whose name was Elsie. It was the worst possible time for me to learn how to train a puppy, especially one who would grow so big. I was a newly-wed and also in my first career as a middle school teacher, having finished college in August, I landed a great job and got married that autumn. I had so much to learn and an equal amount to do. I had very little time to be at home. 

Meanwhile Elsie was adorable. She had a sweet temperament but we were ill-equipped to have the responsibility of a dog. Needless to say, there was very little training going on for Elsie. She was training us and not the other way around. 

Within a couple of months, my husband and I could both see that neither of us were able to give her the kind of home that she needed. We were living in a two-bedroom duplex, fairly cramped quarters for what would become a very large dog. She would sit beside the coffee table and with one friendly wag of her tail everything would be swept onto the floor. She rarely had a walk never mind a run! We eventually found a farmer  who said he would take her and look after her, that he had lots of room for her to run and play with his other dogs. All the guilt I had been feeling for not giving her the kind of home she needed evaporated when I thought of her running with the other dogs. That was the fantasy and it helped me cope with my feelings of inadequacy.

We use the metaphor of "training the puppy" to help us learn how to bring awareness to our minds in meditation. We know that a puppy that is loved and trained will grow up to be a wonderful companion. We also know that a dog who has been beaten, mistreated or neglected ends up being an anti-social, mean, unpredictable dog.

It is the same for your mind. If in meditation, you set impossible standards for yourself, scolding yourself for not attaining enlightenment in the first week of meditation you are simply delaying the benefits of meditation. If you can bring gentleness, kindness and love to your thoughts, your body and your feelings, you will see benefits in your life. And nothing is going to happen if you do not make a decision to "train the puppy."

The whole point of meditation is to awaken to the truth of life. It is to see that all life is interconnected. We begin to see that the only love we can give to others, is the love that we first give to ourselves. 

Many people find it difficult to accept and love themselves just the way they are. Our inner voices are often harsh and critical; we have an inner terrorist. What we really are longing for is acceptance and love.

Start today. Give yourself a modest goal, perhaps five minutes. Notice your thoughts, without judging them. Be kind to your thoughts. Be kind to yourself. It is a very good way to start.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Holiday Madness Calling All Parents

As I sit here writing this article at 9:00 P.M. my mind is constantly overwhelmed with thoughts about the upcoming holidays. It begins to think about pumpkins and scarecrows.  Without warning, my mind switches to candy and now I am thinking about what kind of treats my son will bring home for Halloween….. “Oh no!”, my mind yells out in horror, “will my son pick out a costume this year that he totally loves  only to hate it moments before he actually walks  out the door and leaves for trick-or-treat…..”

…..There goes that mind again taking control when suddenly my thoughts go right into Thanksgiving, family and making dinner for 20 people…”Let’s see, what food should I prepare this year for my clan? Everyone loved the rib roast with the garlic and sage spices. It was a wonderful alternative to my traditional succulent Turkey faire. Wait, I have to make sure that I make enough mashed potatoes for everyone this year since the glazed yams were a flop. And what was that dish that my niece made? I really have to get that recipe again before…”

…it can’t be Christmas already. I am not ready!. “Wait a minute, what did you say?”… “whose house will the Christmas feast be at this year…It better not be at my house, I just did Thanksgiving”…..”Ok, Ok, Ok we will have New Years at our house again but next year…

Finally I yell “STOPPPPP!!!!!! What is going on here?”  It’s only 9:01PM and I have lost all touch with reality. I have become so obsessed with what I have to do that I am no longer in the present moment. I am no longer in the” NOW”. I have allowed my mind, my ego or “Pain Body” as Echart Tolle likes to call it to rule my consciousness. My mind is running me. This will never do.

I must quickly regain control of my senses and my mind. I truly know that the purpose of my mind is to be the servant of my Intentions and not the master of my intentions. Deep down inside I know that what I think about I bring about, where I place my intentions on is the very thing that manifests in my life. Every time that I have allowed my mind to take control over my present reality and steal my present moment I am telling my  mind that it is O.K. for it to be in charge.

Well it is not OK to be trapped in my minds eye constantly reliving events over and over again. It’s not OK to be separated from my Higher Power because my negative thoughts have nothing better to do than create chaos with my emotions.

 Finally, the moment comes and I realize that when I am fully present in the “NOW”, I can break the false power that I have given to my mind.

Thankfully I begin to relax by imagining a giant oversized old fashioned scale like the ones used in courtrooms. It represents my life. On the left there is one pile of sand that represents all of my thoughts of Love, Beauty, God, Relationship, Prosperity, Grace, Goodness, Creativity, Perfect Health and Happiness. On the right is a pile of sand represents my fears, anxiety, lack, impatience, stress, anger, ego, control, imperfections, doubts and so on. It has become very clear to me that to regain dominion over my mind over the holidays I must change my thinking now. I must replace my old thinking with thoughts and ideas that have a loving power that I can believe in. The power of my “thinking and believing” is what manifests my reality.

It is totally up to me which side I place that grain of sand on. If I have thoughts that I believe in that create a warm and loving world filled with goodness and light then I have empowered myself and the world around me to be a better place.

Every time that I allow a negative, unconscious or painful thought to enter my mind I am allowing another tiny pebble of sand to be placed in the wrong side of the scale. Every thought and experience of doubt, fear, regret, unkind word, resentment, anger and greed continues to add more pebbles of sand to the wrong side. Before I know it, my scale has moved so much that my unloving thoughts completely put me out of balance.

That is what seems to happen to so many people during the Holidays. We have forgotten how to be the good gatekeepers of our thoughts and beliefs. I have noticed that if we do not stand awake and fully present at the gates of our thinking we are lulled into a false belief of how the world should be and forget that we truly are the creators of our realities.

During this time of the year the pressure is far greater to be happy and meet everyone’s demands and expectations. We still only have the same 24 hours in a day. We can never change that. What we can change is the power we give our thoughts and how we react to world around us. We get to choose how we want to live our lives and we get to choose how much joy and happiness we will allow into our world.

 There are many powerful tools and practices that I have found extremely useful in helping me break my old patterns of thinking that no longer serve me.

The power of Meditation helps me quiet down my mind so that I can hear the quiet still voice of Spirit. Learning to practice stillness makes me more receptive to listening to Divine Inspiration.

Echart Tolle says learn to be the observer of your thoughts. From Western religion I have learned the power of Gratitude, Forgiveness and Non-Judgment. And from the Eastern traditions I have learned how to balance my energy with my body.

So, as the Holidays approach I now remind myself of what I must do. For me to have a Holiday experience that I really, really want I need to be more present and live in the “NOW” as often as I can. I get to choice which thoughts I give power to. I really only want to entertain thoughts of LOVE, GRATITUDE, FUN and SPIRIT so that my life will be blessed to overflowing ……. I can live with that.

OK Let’s bring on the Holidays. I am ready and in the Now.


Rev Arpad Petrass

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Necessary Healing, Sunday Service

I trust the power of spiritual practice is always healing each dimension of my being: body, mind and heart. I lovingly bring careful and kind attention to all the painful places in my life allowing my compassionate attention to suffuse every part of it. And so it is!