This Journal entry is about making a spiritual investment in life.
There is a quotation which I sometimes share with clients who are down in the mouth, down on their luck, and are feeling bereft of a cause or a purpose to lend their life energies to. These folks have been practicing “the victim” to the point where it becomes a recurring theme in their daily lives. They need to change their attitude. They need to change their thoughts.
All we really want to experience is the feeling of love, happiness, and peace; a healed life which can then extend to others what it has developed for itself. We want to be integrated enough to develop our passions and gifts which we can then share in a meaningful way. We can only give to others that which we own.
The name of this lovely little piece of prose which I share with clients is called “Success.” The authorship has often been attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson.
It seems that the quote may be traceable to a 1905 publication by a woman named Bessie Stanley. Apparently, in a collection of quotations on “success,” her piece appeared on the facing page from a quotation which was from Emerson. Perhaps the mistaken attribution began when someone copied the source inaccurately from that collection.
The words ring true, whether the author is Emerson or Stanley. Here is the special piece of prose:
“To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.”
I think of these words often because they are simple, direct, humane, compassionate, and spiritual. These words are true, and are as good of a list of guiding principles as any you may find.
This is as good of a description of spiritual living as I have ever seen. And it doesn’t even mention sitting cross legged, practicing austerities, or going to church.
A few weeks ago my sister Margaret, who lives in Memphis, announced to her family and friends that she intends to retire next year from her post of Executive Director of Memphis’ Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA), an $11 million budget program funded by Memphis religious denominations to provide services to those in need. It was founded by Memphis clergy in 1968 after Martin Luther King’s death.
Margaret has been associated with MIFA for nearly 30 years, serving as its director for the past 13 years.
When she announced her intention to retire, I sent her the “Success” piece, and she liked it very much. She shared it with her staff. Apparently, some were also positively affected and moved. Some of her staff have taken on deeply reformed and redeemed lives, and the “Success” piece struck a validating chord with them.
Margaret wrote me back and said that MIFA had even succeeded at establishing a garden plot on Lindenwood Street in Memphis. She sent me a Power Point show of the garden’s history and establishment.
She also has a spontaneous and wonderful laughter, one of the descriptives of “Success.” It seems as if she has covered all of the requisite descriptives in “Success.”
Margaret typically eschews praise and salutation from any source or direction. Whenever she would be on national TV, I might get lucky to learn about it from her husband Bill. She’s not going to tell anyone.
After Bush II was in the White House in 2000, he invited her up to the Oval Office with some other important humanitarians who were making a difference. Margaret is not a fond devotee of our former President. Neither am I.
After all, all he did was to get up and lie to everyone about Iraq and the WMD illusion, and then he proceeded to initiate a couple of undeclared “wars” in which we are still entrenched; conflicts which have senselessly destroyed an untold number of lives.
Fighting “terrorism” you still think? Get a grip. Who are the terrorists?
This is not a socially redeeming act. I regard it as horrific and criminal leadership.
Are we so conditioned, entrained, and propagandized to that we must accept contrived wars and suffering?
We simply have to do better. We have to stop making war and funding extraordinary military budgets for the sake of imperialistic campaigns which destroy life and squander resources.
Anyway, when I inquired about what her experience was like at the White House, she remarked in a steady, low, and measured voice, ”They served us on paper plates— at the White House.”
I pondered the irony of this. For the cost of making one simple bomb that kills and maims people, and destroys lives, the White House procurators could buy some really nice china on which to serve our important ambassadors of humanity.
I hope that you will take a few short minutes to read this article from the Memphis Commercial Appeal which appeared on November 7, 2010. The article realistically captures Margaret and her work with MIFA, and leaves one feeling somewhat inspired. All I did was tear up, weep, and glow.
This article has “Success” written all over it. This article frames religions as they should be framed.
“Faith in Memphis: MIFA Director Translates Intentions to Service” written by David Waters.
For more information on MIFA’s activities, please visit www.MIFA.org. If you are moved to donate, you can rest assured that your money, so donated, will be put to its most efficient use in the service of others.
What the world needs now is Love, everywhere. It is the solution to all of these problems that I write about, including the human health issues. Unconditional love is life’s most powerful healer.
To spend some time each day giving a smile to another is important. It spins off into the lives of others. Truly, practice smiling at people. You never know what may evolve from your smile inside of your community.
Here is a wonderful short You Tube video about a woman named Alice, who turns 107 years old today, a Holocaust survivor who is still smiling and spreading Love all about her little place in the world. This individual obviously understands the power of forgiveness.
This is another beautiful human story, and is a shining example of “Success.” Note her brief commentary about laughter. There is another longer You Tube video on Alice that you might find which describes more of her story, but here is a nice and brief start about a loving being.
I visit detachment and forgiveness daily in the Heart Mind. The worried thinking judgmental Brain Mind attempts to pull me away. More practice is needed to quiet the distractive chatter of Brain Mind.
The illusion of separation is part and parcel of living in an ordinary human life. This intrinsic felt sense of separation informs our conscious/subconscious construct (the ego) to be entrained into basing our sense of self worth on how frequently we are a “winner.” If we allow such a boundary violation of self sabotage to continue, we become a hostage to our misguided and wounded ego. Self respect becomes unavailable as we continue to judge ourselves via the lens of “failure.”
“Success” goes beyond this aspect of our woundedness, and beyond our journey as wounded healers. “Success” is just a simple description of a human life that is vibrating Love and giving, a real religion.
About 2011…It is going to be an intense year of transition experienced individually, locally, nationally, and globally. The more you can let go of some of the old parts of you and embrace an evolving new you, the real you based in your Heart, the more you will experience ease, flow, and joy in your lives.
The more time you spend on personal spiritual growth and healing before 2011 begins, and as 2011 goes along, the more peace you will experience in 2011 amidst the mounting chaotic developments. Much will depend on our growth in the arena of who we really are.
In this transdimensional Multiverse there is one Mind looking at Itself through many eyes.
Your clarity will be essential to all of us in the days ahead.
Signing off from Crestone and Beyond.