Sunday, June 29, 2008

a clear conscience

"The softest pillow we could ever have is a clear conscience"
-Ed M.

I had the privilege to see Ed speak yesterday at a church in my new hometown. He told his story of hate and redemption and it almost moved me to tears.

And though he said a million things that really touched me in a few sweet, short hours, the one thing that struck me most is what he said about the conscience.

It struck a cord deep in my soul that is still singing to me over 24 hours later. The gift of a clear conscience is one of the greatest things God has blessed me with these past few years, and it took much work to get there.

Even at 21 years old, full of the rebelliousness and invincible attitude that comes with that age, I was carrying around a lifetime of baggage behind me. Thank God it got too heavy to carry.

Others have dropped their baggage, too. But the old feelings, attitudes and behaviors fit like an old pair of tennis shoes every time they heave the bags back on their shoulders once more. The scariest part of it is that everyone can tell that they're back in chaos except the ones carrying the bags.

So a clear conscience is a soft pillow. Sleeping is easy when the pillow is soft and the heart is empty of burden. This is why we practice forgiveness. I believe is was Old St. Francis who put it best: "It is by forgiving that one is forgiven."

Amen to that one.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Love is the only thing that's real

"Love is the only thing that's real. Everything else is an illusion."
--Marianne Williamson

In Return to Love, Marianne Williamson shares her reflections on A Course in Miracles with us. I was inspired to learn that she did not go to Harvard and that her success is based on her desire to live a spiritual life.

The premise of A Course in Miracles is that things manifest out of either the Holy Spirit (or whatever you like to call it) or the Ego. The Ego is a negative entity that creates fear rather than love.

Since God is love, love is therefore the only thing that's real and fear is an illusion created by the Ego to keep us away from love. This means that every negative thing I see is created by my own mind (ego) and I have to ask God to correct my perceptions in order to get past it.

This statement is both simple and powerful, and I am using it in my own life to keep me from being unhappy. I have a lot of difficult things going on in my life right now. By using mindfulness, I am able to view them as neutral rather than positive or negative.

This change in perspective helps keep things from getting too overwhelming. When I am upset, I now ask for my perceptions to be corrected, which is also a Buddhist tool as well. Mindfulness teaches us that life is an exercise in perceptions and in order to experience mudita in the here and now we need to focus on the joyful things in life.