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Archive for the ‘changing the world’ Category

On this National Day of Service and Remembrance, nine years already since 9/11, and one year since I began this blog to explore ways we can remember who we are deep within us, we may still wonder how far we have come in uniting the great divide between us.

A little service to others goes a long way in helping us remember who we are and how much we are all connected. Stepping into the wounds of loss, separation, and grief with acts of altruism and selflessness leads to healing and reconciliation. Service can be the first step toward peace, both within and in the world. Service is prayer made visible. As Abdu’l-Baha said, “Service to humanity is service to God.” What will you do this day to serve and to remember?

A 39th way to review your life story – In your own place of quiet, where you can reflect deeply, ask yourself these questions about service. What does service mean to me? How does service fit into my life, now and in the future? In 5, 10, or 20 years from now, what will I have done with my life that is most satisfying? What will I have contributed to the world that will be my greatest source of happiness? What strengths and capacities will I build upon, and what weakness will I overcome, to be of service in this way? What do I need to do, or change in my life, today that would enable me to carry this out? Take as much time as you need to put all your thoughts on this down in a way that sounds and feels right to you, tell this story in your own voice, and post it here for others to benefit from, if you would like to.

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At the heart of our quest for understanding life are three questions: “Where have I come from?” “What am I doing here?” and “Where am I going?” The mystery of our origin, purpose, and destiny is intricately tied to the nature of the soul. The world’s sacred traditions have always provided answers to these mysteries of life.

Beyond this, it now seems that we are hardwired to remember where we came from and where we are going. Remembrance is a meditation that leads to a deeper reality. It is the conscious effort of reflecting on and listening to our own eternal thoughts that connect us to the heart of the universe. As our remembrance expands, our consciousness, our view of the world and our place in it, leads us to greater action in the world. Remembrance is a stepping-stone to spiritual transformation. As a regular practice, remembrance helps us remain conscious of who we are as sacred beings.

A 37th way to review your life story – Meditate on these sacred writings: “The spirit returns to God who gave it.” “What is unseen is eternal.” “All things proceed from God and unto to Him they return.”

Keeping your focus on the sacred, try to find, as Bede Griffiths did, that “window” in your consciousness where you “can look out into eternity” and “see the world as it really is” where “all is one, united in a single vision of being.”

Be thankful for the ability to remember; to remember who you are, where you came from, where you are going, and most of all for remembering that God’s love brought you into being. Be grateful for the gift of your soul, your link to the Imperishable.

Take a moment to remember all the gifts you’ve ever received as often as you can. Take twenty minutes of focused time out of your busy day, each day, to remember all those things that are most important to you, and to let go of the unimportant, so that you remain in touch with your essence. Remember to honor both your joys and your sorrows in your life, because both are what provide your life with its greatest meaning.

Keep up this practice of remembrance regularly. Ask yourself each day these questions: Am I me? Am I in my everyday life who I am at the core of my being? Am I in the process everyday of fulfilling my own potential? And if you ever find yourself answering no to any of them, then ask yourself: What else do I need to be doing to be fully me? With this regular practice, you won’t have worry about needing to rush to answer these questions at the end of your life.

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The ancient legends shedding light on the unborn soul tell us that we already know where we came from and where we are going. The part of us that always remembers, that always lives in close proximity to God, is called the “secret soul” in the Sufi tradition. What we seek is within us, as the sacred traditions also affirm. Our remembrance of this would fundamentally change us and transform all our relationships into relationships of authenticity, respect, and compassion.

The great mystic poets knew, ultimately, that remembrance links us to the spirit we all possess, which links us to each other, as well. Rumi puts it this way:

“What I tell about “me” I tell about you

The walls between us long ago burned down

This voice seizing me is your voice

Burning to speak to us of us.”

Walt Whitman says:

“I celebrate myself;

And what I assume you shall assume;

For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.”

The practice of remembrance leads us from the depths of ourselves to the heart of our deeper connection with others. Remembering our true origin, identity, and destiny leads us ultimately to the service of humanity, through our own deeds and actions that benefit others.

A 36th way to review your life story – What secrets does your soul have to tell you? What is already within you that might lead you beyond yourself? How could remembering what is within you transform the relationships you already have and even those you don’t yet know you have? Reflect and meditate on these questions, asking your soul what it knows about the walls between us that are not really there, about the voice that is the voice of all of us, that burns to speak to us of us. How does every atom that belongs to you also belong to everyone? If you would like to, share this story that your soul tells you with us all here.

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Ancestry.com and NBC have partnered on a new TV program – “Who Do You Think You Are?” – that puts tracing family roots in the living rooms of families everywhere in a way that not even Alex Haley’s “Roots” could have.

Using a worldwide network of genealogists, the world’s largest online resource for starting your family tree, and the latest in genetics research, some interesting surprises have emerged for the celebrity’s on the show researching their own family trees. But none would be more surprising than if they were able to go back a mere fifty generations. Now, with new tools like DNA research, this is not only possible but would turn what we think we know about race into an illusion.

Leading geneticists have long known that the family trees of all of us, of whatever origin or color, meet and actually merge into one inclusive family tree for the entire human race. All humanity has the same family tree; no human being (of any background) is less closely related to any other human being than approximately 50th cousins, and most of us are a lot closer than that!

And our DNA tells us that all 7 billion of us alive today are the descendents of ancestors who set out from central Africa some 70,000 years ago (that’s 2000 generations ago) on a long migration that spanned the Earth; one that has continued right up to the present, with many new waves of forced migration across oceans.

The Lakota principle of Mitakuye Oyasin (We are all related) takes these findings beyond human beings to include the interrelatedness of all forms of life. What it all comes down to is that we all belong to the same human family – we are one species, one human community. It is an illusion that there are “races.” In all our diversity, all of us are related, each of us is unique. It may just be that telling our life stories is a way to weave the thread that will yet connect the human family.

A 27th way to review your life story – In what ways have you discovered your relatedness to others who you would not have thought of as part of your family tree? Think about your experiences that have connected you in meaningful, deep, and lasting ways to others beyond your “blood” relations. What was this experience like for you? What did it tell you about yourself that was new to you? What did it tell you about your real family tree? What did it tell you about how we are more alike than we are different? Share this story here for others to benefit from.

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On this Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change, I thought I’d offer a short answer to this complex and intriguing question. In a nutshell, remembering who we are is a spiritual practice (more about that next week), which contributes to our spiritual development, which expands our consciousness of the universe we are part of, which gives us a vision of the whole, which helps us understand that nature reflects the qualities and attributes of its Creator and should therefore be greatly respected and cherished, which confirms that all things are interconnected and depend upon and flourish according to the law of reciprocity, which confirms for us that the oneness of humanity is the fundamental spiritual and social truth shaping our time.

In remembering that we have been created from the same source as every other substance in creation, we recognize how important the protection of even the smallest element of the environment is, and further what an enormously complex challenge conserving the earth’s resources is. Biological and cultural diversity is the core of the rich natural and spiritual heritage we share as human beings. To show any less regard for any one element of this whole would be like showing less regard to any one of our own multiple identities or allegiances, or even to any one of the vastly diverse organs in our own body, because they each add their own richness, essentialness, and vitality in completing the whole.

Understanding nature as the embodiment of the Creator, and as the unfoldment of divine will, engenders deep respect for the entire whole. Every part of the universe is connected to every other part. This calls for action that sustains the inherent balance of the whole. When one thing in the environment, in the universe, is caused to change by any other thing, all things are changed. (For more detail on these thoughts, see the essay at this link: http://statements.bahai.org/95-0406.htm.)

What has happened so often in the last couple of centuries is that the actions of some have impacted others far beyond the bounds of their reach. Acts of carelessness, disregard, and even acts of legislation, have brought about changes on the land which have caused very slight changes in the temperature of oceans which have caused violent weather which has brought great hardship to people living far from those oceans. That’s because everything is tied together. If we remembered who we are, that at our essence we are linked to every other living thing on this earth, there might not be so many careless acts that make so many unanticipated changes to everything that surrounds us, including the climate.

A 6th way to review your life story – remembering that our soul comes from the same source as everything else in this creation, and that our soul connects us to all the diversity in the creation, what can we do, what have we already done, that acknowledges and maintains our oneness with the creation? This is your chance to think of a green story that illustrates in some way how or why we are all connected in one great big web of delicate life on this planet. It would be wonderful if you chose to share this story with others here on this special day.

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When Brother Blue, the African American storyteller, made the statement, “Enough stories can change the world,” he was most likely thinking of the traditional role of stories in community life. From the earliest times, stories have been central to life. Through stories, what is enduring is transmitted. Traditional peoples understood the importance of sharing not only their sacred stories, but also their own stories of life lived deeply. They knew that this supported the cycle of life. Stories became the food of the soul.

Today, this is as true as ever. Enough stories, truthful stories – told from heart, and of the soul – can stop hatred, prejudice, racism, and this can change the world. It is only through stories that we can come to understand something in a new, full, and intimate way that allows us to see that thing, that person, from the inside out. Thus a connection is established, and a relationship formed that precludes any kind of judgment. The shared story brings us together, and helps us to recognize our commonalities.

Life stories work the same way; enough life stories can change the world, too. When we share our own stories of the soul, when we put our life’s events and feelings into the form of a story, a spoken or written narrative, unity is maintained, and a greater respect for each other is found; we recognize deep within us the personal and collective truths we all share, as members of the human family.

A 5th way to review your life story – have you ever seen a story change the world? Have you ever experienced a story serving as food for the soul, yours or anyone else’s? Think of a truthful story, one that comes from the heart or soul, one that carries the power to heal, to stop hatred, or to change the listener in some way. Share just the essence of this story here. Maybe it will bring us closer together, or help us recognize our commonalities, as members of the human family.

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“When things are investigated, knowledge is extended;

When knowledge is extended, the will becomes sincere;

When the will is sincere, the mind is rectified;

When the mind is rectified, the personal life is cultivated;

When the personal life is cultivated, the family will be regulated;

When the family is regulated, the state will be in order;

And when the state is in order, there will be peace throughout the world.”

Confucius

Sharing life stories is a powerful experience, one that can touch us deeply, and give us great joy and satisfaction. It can give us a sense of inner harmony and connectedness. Telling our life story enables us to express our truth, as we see it, so that others might learn from it. What we typically choose to include in our life story are the constructive, or healing, aspects of our life and experience, rather than allowing destructive elements to become the focus, as is often the case in biography. Life storytelling, where we tell our own story in our own words, is a movement toward perpetuating healing stories.

As is clear in the Confucian tradition, there is a direct and crucial link between the individual and the rest of the world. What the individual does to cultivate, deepen, and transform one’s own life will inevitably impact others, and spread outward, like a ripple in a pond, creating ever-widening circles of empathy from oneself to one’s family, one’s community, one’s nation, and finally to all of humanity.

Realizing such a human community founded upon the highest social ethic, what Confucius referred to as the Grand Unity, is fully dependent upon the learning, and the morals, of each individual, as well as upon the harmony between all levels of society and between all living creatures. He understood that authentic humanity evolves to its fullest extent possible only when blind egoism disappears. This never-ending work of transforming the world has its roots in the ancient tradition of storytelling.

A 4th way to review your life story –   think of something that you did, or that you heard from someone else, that has had a ripple effect on the lives of others. What was it that gave this experience the power to influence, change, or transform others? What was the essential truth of this experience? How and why did the telling or sharing of this experience have a healing effect on you and/or others? What was it about this experience that brought others together in some way? In a page or two, tell the story of this experience that has been a change agent for others.

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