Complexity, Democracy and War: Are We Learning Yet?

I’ve always admired President Bush’s best qualities. He courageously takes on huge responsibilities, works hard and does his best. Beneath his learned-from-Reagan pseudo-cockiness lies a real humility about his own abilities. George Bush cares deeply and perseveres courageously, despite setbacks.


Mr. Bush ran for office, not because he had a high impression of himself, but because he is a man of strong convictions and ideals (with gaping gaps, but that’s a different, also human, story.) One of his convictions is that God wants him to lead this country.


Another Bush conviction is that democracy is a good thing. Which is a hard one for him, since he’s not sure what democracy means, and his most trusted advisors, allies and supporters care far less about democracy than about power, money, and control.


President Bush also works really hard to learn. But it’s hard to learn when you’re convinced  you’re a dummy, and that it's in your country’s best interest for you to close your eyes and hold your ears (and nose) and trust “wiser” advisors—while those same advisors are doing their best to make sure you don’t ever figure out what’s going on.


Someone once said, “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” The war in Iraq has also been God’s way of teaching George W. Bush complexity. He came into office a black-and-white kinda guy, and now finally “gets” that things aren’t always as simple and straightforward as he thought they were. He’s not unintelligent, but he does have a lot to unlearn.


He’s finally seeing the costly failures and mistakes of his administration’s policies, despite the heavy screen provided by Rumsfeld, Rove, Rice—the protective coterie whom Cheney long ago hand-picked to guard his prized boy-king.


Bush is finally noticing, if only in peripheral vision, the whole big tragic stinking wasteful mess that his cronies have created in the Middle East. And he’s finally asking hard questions of his inner circle, and even better, stepping outside of that circle for advice. He’s actually talking directly with—and even asking questions of—a wide range of players from all sides of the political spectrum who have lived in and/or studied the Middle East all their lives.


No doubt he’s amazed by what he’s learning. He probably thinks all the fascinating detail he’s finding out about is all new to everyone else, too. I mean, like, revelatory, man. I mean, like, who knew? If all this stuff was common knowledge, surely a president would have heard about it? He probably hasn’t the slightest clue that most of the nation’s intellectuals and scholars have been screaming all this “new” stuff at him for decades, but could never get through his filters.


None of that matters anymore. What matters now is that a very powerful president is finally “getting” some things he didn’t know before. It matters that he wants to understand, and that he wants to help. It matters, in short, that he’s grown up.


He’s reaching out now, finally, not in panic, not in guilt, but as calmly and courageously as he has taken all his other actions, no matter how misguided. I admire his caring and courage tremendously, because he has a lot to answer for. For now though, he has a hard job, and he’s trying to do it well. But to do it, he’ll have to overcome a lot of opposition from within his own ranks.


President Bush does have one small advantage over his nervous homeboys and girls. Surprise–he almost forgot–he's the president. He can do and say whatever he wants. (That is, unless some threatened, demoted or demented ex-lackey takes a notion to silence or blackmail him. We hope not.)


To Mr. Bush’s credit, Hussein is safely behind bars (though god knows what to do with him next.) And Mr. Bush finally seems to get that the U.S. will have to stand in line to buy oil like everyone else. And that throwing money and might at Iraqi ghosts won’t stop WMDs or decrease terrorism….


So now—how to pull his soldiers out of Iraq? (Yes, George Bush does cry at night for the soldiers and their families, and maybe even for Iraqis too.)


And before he can do that, how to fix Iraq? (Yes, Colin Powell did make it clear before he left who was about to break it.)


And then there’s that democracy thing. George W. Bush really really likes democracy.


So President Bush is very busy these days trying to figure out what real democracy might look like in Iraq, while his cronies are busy committing hari-kari over their formerly-malleable President’s newly uncontrollable idealism and apparent abandonment of their precious dreams of gold and empire.


Maybe someday President Bush will even notice that his own beloved U.S. isn’t a democracy anymore (although it’s a more reasonable facsimile thereof than some countries.) Maybe someday George Bush will even try to do something about fixing that problem.


But until then, first things first. It’s enough that our struggling president, looking squarely at Iraq’s anguish, is trying to figure out what democracy means, at all.


It’s a start.




My First Big Mistake – #6 Insights Series

I once decided that living well was mostly about being tougher than a very tough world. Life during my younger adulthood was harder than it is now, and a lot scarier, though I was very proud of the fact that I endured stoically, so to speak. I’ve always searched for answers, and having found some, I was know-it-all stuffy and rigid about them. You’d think an American citizen of good family and good health, comparatively well-off and with many advantages, might be more positive. But I thought, no, I’m just being honest and realistic, and (as we used to say in Texas) maybe just a little hard-assed.


Now I think that living well is about accepting and loving all that is. And though I still have my problems, resisting the way things are isn’t a biggie anymore.


I concluded, sometime during my college years, that I was fundamentally alone in the world. Despite “friends” and “family,” I made up my mind philosophically and spiritually speaking that I was basically on my own, up against a demanding and challenging and chaotic world, with no plausible higher power who could possibly have any interest in me.


I spent a lot of hours defending myself against what I now see were a lot of self-created negative results. I thought if I wasn’t close-to-perfect, then I wasn’t lovable or worthwhile at all. My primary comfort was in sniffing that, well, certainly no one else was, either.


As we used to say in Texas, I’ve learned different….


I’ve replaced my lonely old ideas about “self” with a new, more descriptive, more accurate and less narrowly-constrained identity. I’ll admit that the new “me” isn’t self-evident or obvious at first, and it’s definitely not culturally intuitive.


My new “self” isn’t a separate thing at all, not in any way an independent being, and certainly not a body, all wrapped up in its own short ugly brutish life and messy death….


Instead, I’m a beloved and eternal creature who is “one with” her loving creator, a unique and precious part of a greater higher “self” who comprises all his(?) lovable and very natural creations.


I’m pretty embarrassed about this new spiritual perspective, this new identity of mine, since I used to take great pride in being the most rational, argumentative, two-feet-on-the-ground, scientific type-o-gal. I can hardly talk about it, in fact, without ducking my head and shuffling my feet and mumbling under my breath, because I used to make fun of people like me. I thought they were weak and silly and irrational and dreamers-in-denial and well, just not honest with themselves or with God, who if he did exist, certainly wouldn’t dream up a counter-intuitive reality.


I still reject anything in spirituality which isn’t consistent with science, or which is in conflict with anything in nature, although I take an additional leap of faith to get where I am now. And, without a doubt, my new conclusions go against most familiar western cultural teachings about reality.


My big important intellectual (or non-intellectual?) leap was taking a single first small step into prayer/meditation, through which I gradually moved away from my cold, impersonal universe toward my new one in which I’m eternally safe and loved. My new universe is ultimately benevolent and peaceful, created by a God of love who is far more interested in my happiness than I am.


And all that bad stuff in life? All the things I and others have done and haven’t done? The chaos and cruelty in the world? In the eternal scheme of things, they’re now a more forgettable blip. They somehow matter less because, well, they’re not what's real and lasting, they disappear. In an eternal sense, they never even happened, sort of like all the rest of our bad dreams. When we all finally wake up, we’ll see that all we ever have is an eternal “right now,” and that all our fears about scary pasts and futures don’t really exist. Love is always the only thing left, the basic stuff of eternal reality.


So all that good stuff in our lives? All the peace and fun and kindness we gave and received, along with every other kind of love? All that good stuff goes right on forever, and keeps on multiplying….


For a weary lifetime, I sadly resisted any such peaceful possibilities, trading my desire to be happy in for a proud insistence on being “right.” My mind was made up early, and I was sticking to it. I looked only for evidence of what I already thought. In all that I saw and read and heard, I carefully picked out the parts that reinforced that life was fundamentally about the random meaninglessness of solitary bodies colliding and competing and dying.


Now, having exchanged realities, I’m blinking in the light of childlike, newly-opened eyes. All I see now (with occasional lapses and gaps) is love and all its permutations. Because love is all that I’m looking for now, all I want to see. I feel as if I’ve lifted up an old dark veil of meaninglessness that I once carelessly draped over everything and forgot about, and now for the first time I’m peeking at all the beauty beneath it.


So I made a mistake. So I spent a lot of time looking into dark cobwebby corners. So I was wrong. Hey, what the hell, I’ve got eternity now, and a patient, loving higher power who likes to help me get it right….


So I’m getting over it. I’m still a know-it-all, and I still want to be right. But I hope I’m a humbler one with a better sense of humor, less interested in being right and rationalizing and analyzing than in having fun and being happy and sharing my joy. All I’ve lost, in any practical sense, is my misery. At the very least, I've finally realized that sad and mad and tough can’t be any kind of smart conclusion. I’ll take happy over smart any day. I’m ready and willing to see all things differently, newly. I’ve moved on, and I like where I live now.


No harm done, and lots of good, since I changed my mind. If I feel momentarily lonely, I ask for help in remembering that I’m forever joined in an endless circle of giving and receiving with God and with every part of his beloved and lovable creation. And help always comes….

Bush Wake Up Call – A Short Suess-like Rhyme by Eppy

Bush Wake Up Call



You’ll have to shout louder;

            I don’t want to know.

Experts and eggheady wonks,

            Will you go?


I really can’t hear you.

            I’m waiting to sup.

I don’t care to listen.

            My mind is made up.


I long ago tuned out

            All facts that don’t fit.

Your smartypants theories

            Don’t matter a whit.


You’ll have to yell louder.

            Sorry, I’m noddin’.

I’m just not impressed.

Enter, bin Laden.



I wrote this a year ago and forgot about it…. Too bad it's still just as relevant today…..





What Would Jesus (or Pat Robertson) Do?

Now help me get this straight: It’s not legal to commit terrorist acts or to assassinate important people, but it's OK for someone important to say we should. It’s not legal to “murder” a single human being, but it's OK to launch a multi-billion dollar pre-emptive war that randomly kills and maims and ruins the lives of hundreds of thousands of human beings. It’s not legal to torture an enemy combatant, but it's OK to sniper-kill, firebomb, napalm, use land mines, and drop atomic weapons on patriots and innocent civilians….


Why are we confused about all of this?


Solving problems through violence will always feel morally abhorrent. America (the most powerful nation the world has ever known) must take the first creative steps toward changing international law, to make political violence (terrorism, assassinations, and yes, war), like social violence, illegal everywhere and always. The highest morality is respect and support for human life everywhere.

Finding Closeness in Relationships – #5 Insights Series

My siblings, parents, extended family and friends sometimes used to tell me I didn't give them enough of myself. One dear relative commented resignedly that our relationship survived only because she had ratcheted her expectations way down.


And sometimes it seemed that I gave too much time, or at least too much worry, to my children and my husband, while still feeling I should do more.


I wanted love, acceptance and support from all of them, and I wanted to offer it back to them too.


What I didn’t want was to feel guilty so much of the time, to feel like I could never do enough. And I especially didn’t want to feel that I needed to keep all my relationships “even,” or to fulfill any given individual's expectations, in order to fend off hurt and loss.


I suffered most when I got into the mindset of living a temporal life and having temporal relationships, because from that perspective, my life seemed way too short, and my list of the things I ought to do so impossibly long. Yet no amount of rushing and cramming provided any relief or solution.


My relationships have functioned better since I exchanged my perception of the time I have “left” (limited? temporal? fleeting?) for God’s very relaxing and infinite eternal time—expressed in life as “right now.” I’m learning to stay in the present (eternity’s earthly disguise?) and remember that there’s no rush. Love isn’t going anywhere.


I’m also doing better now remembering that I don’t have to come up with all the answers to my issues about relationships, but instead can rely upon God’s surprising solutions and opportunities.


One other time-related thing I found most challenging in long-term relationships was always feeling stuck in the past. Too often, my good times with others got mired in past-oriented stuff–guilt and fear–guilt that I hadn’t been loving enough in the past, and so should use the present to make up for past stuff, and fear that if I didn’t give more or differently, I’d hurt or lose everyone.


My painful focus on past deficits (both real and imagined) in long-term relationships always pulled me away from happy, present-oriented, guilt-free interactions in the present moment. Whenever I was stuck in fixing the past, distracted by guilt, or remorse, or self-righteous indignation, I forgot about the good I could do and the fun I could offer right now.


Attempting to rewrite history—compensating, comparing, complaining—during the time I’m with my nearest and dearest is the very devil himself for me, the very thing that most pulls me away from my best self, my highest goals, my kindest heart.


Sometimes I even worry that the time I spend with my higher power or with casual acquaintances competes with my long-term relationships. As if my spiritual growth could diminish my value to my dear ones….


But it’s never been the amount of time I spend or don’t spend with them that matters most, but rather the worry, fear, and guilt that I bring to the present out of our past, killing off all the good present moments that could still be. It's those past-seated resentments, and the struggles to justify and rectify our imperfect past relationships, that separates us during the present moment–far more than our mutual histories, which aren't real anyway–they just don't exist anymore.


When I am focused on loving, appreciating, and enjoying my dear ones in the present moment to the best of my ability, it’s always enough. All I have to do is let go of the bad stuff arising from our long, past-oriented lists of deficits–of what I owe them and what they owe me. Whenever I focus on the past, my relationships go wrong. Whenever I let go of the past, my relationships go better.


So it's not the imperfect past at all, but my focus on it, which is the most insidious and subtle competitor with the good I have to offer my present relationships, whether long-term or short-term, whether we're talking about my relationship with God, or my relationships with all the people in my life.


Right now, both my long and short-term relationships are better and more filled with possibilities than they’ve ever been. I feel loved, accepted, valued, appreciated by them, and all these same feelings arise in me toward all of them in return. What could be better than that?


Surrendering my life to my higher power, and broadening my circle of loyalty and devotion (the circle comprising all I consider “mine,” “family,” and “near and dear”) to include all of mankind, has had the surprising result that it has increased my closeness to all my lifelong and long-term friends and relations.


Since I’ve begun to learn to let go of my own role and history-based demands, expectations, and resentments and to stay in the present, I’m finally beginning to see and learn and hear and respond to all the people who are really before me, here, now.


I’ve expanded my definitions of mother, father, sister, brother, husband and wife, children, parents, teachers, students, even neighbor and countryman, to include everyone I meet, everyone there is–and yet my long-term relationships haven’t suffered.


As long as my time and affections were limited to a small circle of special relationships, my energy on those few precious relationships was all about expectations and limitations. Now those special relationships are free to be about limitless giving and receiving.


In this crazy world, where so much that appears to be so is not so (and vice-versa) a move from the honored position of spouse or mother or sister or daughter, or even neighbor or countryman, to the formerly worthless position of “human being,” would be considered a radical demotion. Wouldn’t you think that such a diminution in honorific status must surely entail the loss of all privileges, expectations, attentions, and duties traditionally conferred upon the select group of people in each life upon whom long-term relationship status is assigned?


But when every single person in this world deserves the highest respect, honor, attention, help, kindness, giving, acceptance, and forgiveness, certainly my inner circle is also very much included. Am I likely to suddenly care about them less? Will my dear ones be relegated to sharing only the crumb that’s left of me after dividing myself into eighty gadzillion pieces, among pesky and pushy strangers who will push them from my life?


That was, in fact, once my own fear, my own source of guilt–that my devotions and attachments to my higher power and others would compete with my closest relationships, that I'd have to give them up, that love was an either/or thing: either I loved my family and friends, or I loved God and humanity indiscriminately, the one kind of love necessarily excluding the other.


But it’s the other way around. As long as you exclude even one person from your circle of love, as long as you leave one person in the dark outer space where all your fears are, your love will be incomplete, inadequate, insufficient. Fear and love can’t coexist. If you accept one, you have to let the other go. Love is all-or-nothing, wholehearted, undivided, if it is love at all.


All expressions of love are maximal. And love is a limitless resource, a bottomless well, infinitely renewable. You can’t run out of the love you have to give. There’s always enough. The more you give, the more you have to give. As Romeo’s Juliet said, “love is as boundless as the sea, and as full.”


My love of my higher power and my global neighbor make me better able to love and serve the ones closest to me. These days, I’m more present during the moments we’re together, more accepting, and more forgiving. And I spend far less time than before in conflicting illusions about past history or future fears.


Now that I find all of mankind lovable and worthy of forgiveness and acceptance, my dearest ones can relax, because although they'll always make mistakes just like me, they will always be enfolded into my all-inclusive circle of love, which includes mistake-makers…. They know they’ll always be lovable to me, no matter what.


Focusing on just a few people, I used to set traps for both myself and for those few I called “special.” For when I called someone “special friend,” they were suddenly heavily obligated to me, and we quickly got into the business of weighing out our giving and the receiving. When I called someone “mother,” I ran the risk of narrowing my appreciation for other potential sources of good, resulting in so much less of me for a mother to love, and so much less love for me to give my mother.


When I called someone daughter, how heavy the burden of my expectations for her to carry, and how hard for both of us when she loved others as well as she loved me. When I called someone husband, yet refused to take the rest of the world (metaphorically) into my arms to cherish and comfort along with him, I risked someday becoming a clinging, needy, frightened ghost from his past, with nothing but sad past comparisons and fears of the future, when I could have poured all that love and energy out into a thirsty universe, while he was also offering himself up to others as well.


These days, I try to greet each person I meet (whether a long-term friend or a stranger) with no thought of the past to drag us down, no burden of history or future expectations, no role-related duty or expectation or responsibility or fear or guilt that might hold us back from the present moment. Into that present moment I try to pour all the love I have, and for that moment, this person is my father, mother, child, sister, friend, teacher, lover, neighbor, countryman.


Nothing could be more out-of-control than my previous attempts to control my relationships. The only thing we've lost are the sad chains of history that we used to drape over each other.


I’m still sometimes very unreliable and unpredictable and inconsistent (i.e., human) in applying what I’m trying to learn. But I’m doing my best to always be right here and right now, and I’m far less likely these days to run away from my relationships, fight them, resist them, repel them. I no longer have any use for harboring or indulging in anger, attack, defensiveness or guilt.


Feeling closer than ever before to both my dear ones and to brief acquaintances these days, I know it’s because I’ve surrendered my life to my higher power, and remembering that I can only know and love his children as one, right now, in the present moment.

Helping Someone Sad – # 4 Insights Series

When I want to help others who are suffering, I sometimes feel quite helpless, and often say and do all the wrong things.


Certainly it does no good to join others in feeling bad. Nor does it help to empathize with their momentary weaknesses.


Worst of all are the many times I ignore whatever my grieving friends are trying to share, so uncomfortable and busy am I inattentively casting about madly in my own mental bag of tricks for something helpful to throw out—some solution or fix, perhaps an insight, a factoid, something I’ve read, or tried, or heard about, some word of comfort.


My problem is always that I look to myself for my answers, and forget to ask for help, trusting that my willingness to be of use will always be sufficient, and that my higher power is always with me, ready to respond to requests for help, whether or not the effects are immediately obvious.


When I think I’m alone, I sometimes fall back on my own devices and solutions, and then I only have confusion to offer, because present problems require solutions arising in  the present. Nothing I’ve learned, nothing from my past, nothing I can pull out of my history can fix my friend’s present problem. But I can trust God to help.


Good solutions never come from me anyway, but sometimes they come through me, from my endless Source of solutions. Whenever I give a problem to my higher power to bless, he always works magic, and sometimes he chooses to do it through me.


It’s hard to remember to stop interfering though, and to trust his working out of his own answers in his own way and time. Too often I rush to offer my own hurriedly and worriedly dreamed-up solutions, when the best step I can ever take is to get out of God's way….


I can always ask, listen, watch, wait, and have faith.

Proof of a Loving God? – #3 Insights Series

How do I know that a higher power exists, and that he or she or it is good, godlike, and even more impossible, that s/he/it cares about me?


No one could ever know the answer to this question through rational thought. Smarter people than I have written heavy tomes offering very thorough rationales both for and against the existence of God. I’ve considered both rationales, and I’ve finally concluded that reason is not sufficient either to explain God, or to explain God away.


So I rely on my own personal experience. Here it is:


When I ask my higher power for help, I receive it.


And when I ask him to heal a situation through me—a relationship, a hurt, an anger, an injustice—God does that too.


I can see that he exists in the light in my friend’s eyes, the light of gratitude for what has been powerfully accomplished for him that I could never have accomplished on my own.


This amazingly creative higher power has achieved things I could never have dreamed up without him, and has healed things I feared were unhealable. I could never have come up with a blueprint for my uniquely suitable and lovable husband, or my children, or my life for that matter, my work, or any of the amazing twists and turns my life has taken since I turned my life over to “him/her/it.”


On my own, I pretty much made a big mess of things—my own life and the lives of others close to me. I have a pretty chaotic history. If anyone looked back at my early life as a journey, at the decisions I’ve made on my own, they would see paths strewn with the detritus of a refugee who carried enormous burdens and scattered them, exhausted, randomly and helplessly as I barely trudged along toward—where, I had no clue.


What I know is, before I began asking my higher power for help, my life did not work, and now it does. I have faith now, that as long as I stay (figuratively) on my knees, as long as I stay humble before my higher power, as long as I keep asking for guidance and strength and help, my life works.


What I know is, whenever I ask to be an instrument of his love and healing, power and achievement—far beyond my small abilities—flow through me, and I am able to help myself and others….


And that’s all the faith I need.

Love and Sacrifice – #2 Insights Series

I’m giving up on sacrifice. I’m finally seeing all sacrifice as manipulative, as an attack on others, as selfish, harmful, and unkind.


What do I mean by sacrifice? I mean all the stuff I’m going to feel bad about later, that I’m going to resent, resist, and in fact, probably would end up not doing anyway, or doing poorly, even if I did believe in sacrifice. That’s the kind of sacrifice I’m giving up.


I don’t mean I’m giving up on loving others, or giving up on putting myself out for them. But that’s not sacrifice.


I want to be loved as much as anyone else does. Everyone wants the safety and comforts of life. Every human being who ever lived wants people to love and care for them. But people don’t love and care for you because you sacrifice yourself to them.


Sacrificing just doesn’t work. Doing things that make you mad later doesn’t work. Setting aside what is most important to you to please another person is in the end, plain and simple, downright mean, manipulative, and rude.


Sacrificing isn’t really about being loving at all. It’s about making a tit-for-tat trade—you take care of me and I’ll take care of you. I’ll be nice to you and you be nice to me. Exchanges in kind. I’ll do this if you’ll do that.


Sacrifice has nothing at all to do with giving without expectation of return. Sacrifice is a cold tradeoff—a gift given with a clear expectation of return.


You know how it works: I give you such-and-such, and now you owe me. I do these things and so now you have to do those things. I sacrifice myself and subjugate myself and do without and do what I’d rather not, and damn it, now you’d by-god-better-do the same for me.


So with sacrifice, what relationships come down to is tricks, traps, and snares. Webs of trickery and deceit which we catch others in, and which we find ourselves hopelessly tied up in–caught, entangled, stuck.


To complicate things further—and make them worse–sacrifice and guilt go hand in hand. Whenever you sacrifice, you can expect to feel guilty too. Because frankly, I don’t really want to do all that unfair stuff that sacrifice seems to require—and neither does anyone else—certainly no one in my life does. But I have to do it (or so I sometimes think), just so you’ll have to do it back for me.


But then we’ll both feel resentful and angry about doing whatever, and we’ll both feel guilty when we don’t do it. We’ll both spend our lives angry with each other for not reciprocating adequately, for not living up to one another’s expectations, or for not handing over (kicking and screaming) equivalent sacrifices.


What a mess. Is this what relationships are supposed to be all about? Could this be love? The relationships we’ve heard so much about, spent so much time fantasizing and hoping for and wishing for? Could this be sisterhood and brotherhood? Romance? True love? Is this what being a daughter, or a parent, or a friend or colleague is supposed to be all about?


Of course not.


Instead, I’m letting go of both sacrifice and guilt, and trading them both in for doing my best to be loving, both to myself and to others, in the present moment, trusting that my best is enough.


Who would be crazy enough to stick with me, stand by me, help me and love me, while I wallow in self-sacrifice, guilt, anger and resentment? While I refuse to allow myself to be or become what I know I can be, and instead spend my life sacrificing myself in order to somehow insure that I keep what I imagine I already have?


Let’s see, on the one hand, a life of sacrifice, guilt, resentment, and anger … .  Hmmmm. Or, on the other hand, a life of loving and caring and striving…. Which one shall I risk?


When I’m trusting my higher power to take care of my life, I can relax and focus in the present moment on chipping away at the details of being my best self and going after my best goals. Surely this best self will be more useful and helpful and attractive and appealing and desirable and loving and giving to anyone I might want to share my life with, than the miserable self-sacrificing, guilty, resentful jerk I could work myself up into becoming if I were running my own show….


Sacrifice isn’t really love at all. Sacrifice is a fear of love, the love inside myself, the love of my higher power, the love in others. Sacrifice is what I insert whenever I fear that there’s not enough love to go around, and that I won’t get enough or give enough to sustain and support the relationships and goals I care about.


Love doesn’t equal sacrifice and guilt. Love equals nothing but love. Love can’t even co-exist with guilt and sacrifice. Whenever I choose one of these others, I know I’m quite deliberately choosing to let love go.


Love is releasing others from guilt and sacrifice (which has the nice added affect of doing the same for me.) Love is accepting myself and others exactly as we are, and loving us all exactly as we are, with no expectations.


Love is letting sacrifice and guilt go.

Fear Thoughts – #1 Insights Series

I’m learning to put away my scary, sad, or upsetting thoughts (I call them collectively, “fear thoughts”) the very moment they arise in my mind. What I call “fear thoughts” are all the little (or big) nagging and negative memories or possibilities that seem to pop into my mind out of nowhere. I used to give them on-the-spot great importance and attention, thinking they were urgent warnings that needed immediate action and thought–portents even–that I needed to attend to in order to fend off the looming bad stuff coming at me out of my past, or pushing into my future.


Whenever I had fear thoughts (a lot of the time), no matter what I was doing (sleeping, working, playing, loving, whatever) I would immediately start to time-share–i.e., I would ponder and analyze them while continuing to do the interesting present stuff. And of course, I would soon no longer be focusing on whatever process I was doing in the present moment, but instead would be replaying all those fear thoughts (whether big or little doubts, angers, resentments, put-downs, mistakes, guilts, whatever.) I would work them and work them over in my mind, poke them and prod them and examine them and project them every which way I could, rehearsing a self-righteously indignant and defensive range of responses and explanations and attacks.


Needless to say, I spent most of my present moments working over fears and negativities based in the past and the future.


Now why would I do such a thing?


Why would I make myself miserable in a perfectly good present, with oppressive thoughts about the past or future? I’m sure I did it because I thought that intensively analyzing my fear thoughts was my best defense against their future potential offense—in other words, I believed self-analysis to be a necessity. I endlessly massaged my fears and doubts in hopes that mental manipulation would gradually protect me from potential pain.


To the contrary, not only did all this unhappy work carry me away from whatever perfectly interesting present process I was involved in; worse, my tiniest little anxieties would get all blown up from all the attention I was giving them, growing eventually into monster fears. Even the smallest, least significant little worry would gradually puff itself up and up, growing tentacles that extended and burrowed deep into the underground of my subconscious, hiding there in darkness, to emerge later, powerfully, in a multitude of new ugly forms, angers, actions, and emotions.


Whatever I pay attention to in my life grows bigger within it. These days, I attend more strictly to my most positive impulses, my most loving thoughts, my enthusiasms, my highest aspirations, my goals, my values, and my happiest processes. Let them grow bigger!


Whenever fear thoughts arise out of nowhere, I brush them aside, like ephemeral cobwebs, because I want to leave room in my mind for the positive things with which I would rather fill it. With my higher power’s help, I push the unhappy thoughts away and fill my mind with better, higher, happier thoughts, and into those more peaceful thoughts I put my energies and time and power.


Best of all are the times when I have no thoughts at all, but am caught up in the flow of some present-oriented involvement. (Zen masters say, “An empty mind is a divine mind….”)


The happiest lives are those lived fully in the present. The unhappiest lives are lived in the sad, worrisome and angry thoughts about a threatening, punishing past and future.


I like the old saying, “I’ve had a lot of troubles in my time, and most of them never happened.” I also like Jesus’ teaching, that “Sufficient unto the day are the troubles thereof.” He also taught, “Consider the lilies of the field. They neither toil nor spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was never arraigned as one of these….” And again, Jesus assured us that we cannot add one hair to our heads by worrying….


All the good things that will ever happen to me, all joy, all achievement, all the giving and receiving that will ever happen in my life, my creativity and delights, will only happen in the present moment, or they’ll never happen at all.


Fear thoughts are never about the present. They’re always (only) about the past and future, which are just concepts—they aren’t real things, they don’t exist. “The past” and “the future” are abstract nouns. They’re nothing. The present, on the other hand, is something you can experience, somewhere you can be.


If I stay in the present, I have no fear thoughts at all. (And it’s perfectly possible to work in the present on reasonable and necessary everyday plans and future goals, without dwelling on bad stuff….)


In meditation/prayer, I hand over my fears and negative emotions–en masse–to my higher power, to deal with however he sees fit. I feel especially humble and grateful to be able to do this, knowing my fears will be attended to in the best possible mysterious wonderful surprising ways for all concerned, which I certainly couldn’t have thought of myself. I let all of them go. (“Let go, and let God.”)


He waits for us to ask him because he seems to want us to be at choice. And although asking is humbling, in every other way it's quite a bargain.


I don’t ever need to analyze, worry, fret, plot, project. Instead I can relax, and focus on having a loving and positive present, do my best, and turn my life over to my higher power, trusting that he is now transforming my past into something useful and good, and carrying my most positive and productive present into a powerful, joyous, and giving future.