Monday, August 31, 2009

The Illegitimacy of Disease

What if disease is illegitimate?

What if it's our focus on it, our sheer fascination with it, our obsession with it, that gives it its very power to even exist...?

(radical thought, no? what if it's true?)

Once again, I see how our fear, individually and collectively, has created something -- which is really a nothing, a no-thing. Unless, of course, we believe it is a thing, unless we give it legitimacy, by the power of our own thoughts.

Let me share a story about a man ... a man who had AIDS. He'd been told he was dying, and he believed it. All the evidence was there to back up that thought. And so, he prepared to die ... and he visited a spiritual practitioner whose focus was to increase the awareness of his own spirituality and his connection with God. This man did not focus on healing .. he wanted only one thing -- to know God -- not the images of God he'd formed through his former religion, not the pat answers that he'd already received (and which had failed him in his need), but he just really wanted to know God - as God IS.

The practitioner was astonished -- most folks came to him wanting symptom relief, healing. Something from God. This man wanted God Himself, and nothing less, nothing more. Over the course of a couple of years, they discovered that God was willing and eager to reveal Himself -- He fully responded to the prayer to know His true nature, to bring understanding of Himself. The two men experienced much joy and excitement in this compelling journey -- each discovery of God's nature was a delight ... old and tired concepts of God (lies of human constructs) were replaced, one after another, with God's revelation of Himself, and of man's relationship to God. Because they desired nothing less than God's truth, the mind and heart of God were accessible to them, and transformation became a way of life.

While they were focused and consumed with pursuing the Kingdom of God (God's reign in our minds and hearts - for the Kingdom is within), an amazing thing began to happen ... the man's HIV symptoms began to cease, and even to reverse. Upon checking with his doctor, he discovered that he had become HIV negative. He had not pursued this, hadn't even considered that it was remotely possible! He had done nothing to earn it, hadn't qualified for it, hadn't thought himself "worthy" of it ... but in coming face to face with God's true nature, his wholeness and health was the only possible result ...!

So, what happened here? What can we learn from this? Can we discern a principle, a truth, that we can understand and apply, so that we, so that others, can also experience such a healing?

The only requirement seems to be that we approach God with a desire to want truth far more than we want to be "right". We need to let go of our own preconceived notions, opinions, beliefs and thoughts (and our "right" to have them!), to let go of all we think we already know, all that we insist that we're correct about, and to let God, and God alone, teach us about who He is, what His nature is like. We need to wipe the slate clean, and have a do-over, from God.

Here's the reality: we experience life according to our own perception of God.

When our perception of God is corrected by God, when we are aligned with His thoughts, when our minds have been renewed, when lies have been replaced with truth, when our perception is God's perception -- our experience is also corrected.

With no striving, with no human effort, with no intervention of any sort.

Want some scriptural backing for that...?

Matthew 5:8 ~
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

Titus 1:15
To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.

2 Samuel 22:26-27 ~
With the good man thou wilt show thyself good. With the upright man though wilt show thyself upright. With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the perverse thou wilt show thyself perverse.

However our minds perceive of God -- that is how God appears to us.

God created us in His own image, and we've been "returning the favor" ever since.

Is it time to fire the god in your own carnal/egoic mind, and let the real God, who is in you and fills you, emerge from behind the shadow of that which is false...?

As Jesus asked -- do you want to be whole..?

(& do you want to know that you already are...?)

Shalom, Dena

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What do You BELIEVE about Disease: Tweak a Belief - Change Your Life...!

Well, if the number of comments on yesterday's post is any indication, this topic is a timely and deep one for many of us...!

Just so you know, it's not that I've formed a conclusion here, and am trying to "get" the rest of you to see what I see... I'm sharing what I'm reading, AS I'm reading, and putting my thoughts out there -- as one journeying-human to other journeying-humans, discovering together, as we go, what the Spirit is saying and doing, as He's leading us into all truth. I have an inkling about where all this is going, but it feels, to me, more like a deep "remembering" than like a new concept -- can anyone else relate to that thought?

I'll assume that this isn't unique with me, and that others can, or could, relate. I believe that deep within each of us, perhaps seemingly out of reach, perhaps buried under much distraction, perhaps skewed by what we've been taught, and have collectively believed, we already *have* the truth about life, we already have access to God's perspective, and that His perspective is our own truest, deepest, perhaps-forgotten, perspective as well.

This realm of knowing seems so obscured, and even denied, by our own egoic/carnal level of "knowing." The limited-human level of knowing is skewed. It will only accept that which can be proven, verified, authenticated through evidence. Y'know, that which would hold up in court. But we have a relational-connection to God, not a judicial-connection.

And so we have religious authorities and medical authorities, declaring that they, and they alone, have the answers for us to accept. To me, this smacks of "arrogant ignorance."

There comes a time when the pat answers no longer suffice ... life itself demonstrates that it doesn't stay within tidy and explicable categories. We can end up with a million unanswered questions, and answers that no longer make sense. I believe that the uanswered questions are not nearly as dangerous as the unquestioned answers. I came to the place where I strongly believed that I was supposed to challenge those unquestioned answers -- and that it was God who was leading me to do so, because the answers were totally illegitimate, and did not reflect Him, or His nature...!

It seems to me that we've got to take this all the way to the root of who we think we are, as human beings. Who first told us that we were fallen, unworthy, and that we must therefore suffer pain and sickness in order to earn worthiness...? Who first told us that we were depraved? That we were separated from God? Who told us that it was our lot in life to suffer, and that this was part of our redemption? And who told us that it was GOD who required this...?!?

What if the very acceptance of such thoughts/beliefs, about God, about ourselves, is what has caused and allowed the suffering to exist in the first place...?

What if disease does *not* have a physical origin and cause...? What if the physical disease-symptoms are just the manifestation of what we think and believe...?

In so many ways, I've been discovering that our experience of life is based on our perspective of life. To change our experience, we must change our perspective. It seems quite imperative that in order to launch into this journey, we must have an open mind, the ability to let go of what we think we already know, and a desire to know the truth, whatever it may be. Of course, with that, a requirement to believe that God has the truth, and wants us to know it. And that He's rendered us capable of knowing His truth. If we believe we cannot know truth, and that God even does not want us to know truth -- we may do well to question that belief, and see if THAT belief is true...!

Y'know, I think that if my old way of thinking/believing could've set me free, it would've by now. I've sure given my old ways much time and effort...! Maybe 'tis time to stop beating my head against that wall? Maybe doing/thinking/believing the same thing, over and over, and expecting different results, really IS insanity (whether individually or collectively)?

Another belief that could use some questioning is the concept that we are comprised of matter. The modern era has been dominated by scientific proof and evidence -- and yet, even science is now moving beyond-proof ... quantum physics goes beyond matter ... to show that matter is more ethereal than material ... and is held together by a "force". Even the very laws of nature are expanding, as our minds are opened to the "much more" that there is for us to discover.

Science itself has become a "god" that we've collectively created.

Perhaps we need to allow our "religious" concepts to expand as well ... perhaps we need to move completely beyond religion itself, in order to be led by the Spirit into the "much more" that God has for us to discover.

What if we're more spiritual, than material ... what if our bodies are mere "vehicles" to be used during this human-life we're experiencing, but are not who we really are? What if the belief that we ARE our bodies, coupled with a belief that we're "meant" to suffer, is what's causing all the suffering and disease?

Look at what we "blame" for disease: our age, our gender, our parents, our environment, our habits, the water, the air, the soil ... everything outside of us. Thus, we've become victims -- and hopeless victims at that!

Even more, we've made everything around us a potential enemy! The worst enemy being our own unpredictable and self-betraying bodies! The solution, the medical profession tells us, is to take a pill, follow a diet, or undergo a surgery. And the driving motivation behind it all is FEAR.

And so we turn to God, but the problem is, we've been taught about a God who is to be feared -- and that He WANTS us to fear Him. We end up with a sense of dread, a sense of separation from God, a sense of separation from all other human beings. We're taught that we're inherently unworthy, and that God is impossibly exacting, and wholly un-pleasable.

What if disease is the result of, and a physical manifestation of, all the fear, confusion and defeat that we've been taught to feel - because of our "inescapable failure" in God's perspective...? What if we have both created the experience of disease, AND the very reason for it to continue to exist...? And how insane is it then to approach God for healing, believing that we've earned this suffering, and that God wants us to have it "for our own good?"

What if disease is a physical manifestation of belief -- whether the belief is our own, or that which comes to us as a collective-belief -- about God, about ourselves, about life...? (an interesting and eye-opening study is to look at the power of propaganda!)

It seems so very starkly clear to me, that we must shed "man's image of God", and let go of what we've been taught, what we've told ourselves, to let go of the ego's/carnal-mind's understanding of what we think we know, and to turn to God for our answers, for our perspective...! In short, to align with God, with God's Kingdom, and allow "all these things" to be added to us.

Here's the good news: beliefs can be challenged. beliefs can be corrected. beliefs can be transformed. And when our beliefs are transformed, so are WE, and so is our experience of life!

We CAN find freedom from our current enslavement -- not only is it OK with God, but Who do you think is leading you into this awareness...? ;)

(Tomorrow, let's look at the illegitimacy of disease...)

Shalom, Dena

Saturday, August 29, 2009

So What's the Root of all Disease...?

[NOTE: Wee bit of disappointing news - the recording of the Presence Zone meeting didn't work, due to technical glitches and gremlins, so I can't share it with anyone ... however, I did save the slide-images ... my plan is to write a snippet-bit to go with each slide, and then share the whole thing, narrative-style, with anyone who wants it -- so email me if you'd like a copy of that: brehmites @ aol . com, minus the spy-bot-fooling spaces, of course. If I can figure it out, I'll try to post the images here as well ... been too busy blogging to figure out the technical capabilities of this site ... if anyone knows how to put images within the text, lemme know! The good news is, this glitch allowed me to start out a blog entry with the word "wee"... something I've always wanted to do, but was afraid of where I'd have to go - so to speak!]

Ok then, back to blogging!

I mentioned a rather intriguing book I've stumbled upon (which is just another way of saying, "the Spirit done led me"), and I'd love to share it with those of you who've stumbled upon this blog.

It's "The God That We've Created: The Basic Cause of all Disease." Provocative, no? I mean, now could I *not* read it? And how could I *not* share it? The author is Michele Longo O'Donnell -- she's new to me ... a health care provider, minister and counselor. Having attended both registered nurses training, and non-denominational Bible school, she came to the place where she deeply questioned the premises of both institutions, and found them wanting. And then the wilderness transformed into what many of us have come to experience as "post-Christianity" ... wherein we want to understand and experience the Spirit, through the narrative of Jesus, and discovered that we had to ditch the religion of Christianity in order to do so...!

For a while now, I've become aware that I really need to question the realm of health, disease, and healing ... as with everything else that's come across my radar, I no longer trust the answers I've been given by the tradition of man known as Christianity. And while it feels like nose-diving off a sheer cliff, sans parachute, I trust that, as always, God is going to either catch me, or else teach me to fly. And so, over the cliff I go ... come along for the ride, if you're so inclined (yeah, I know, it feels a lot like God pushed! so be it!).

I love that I put the desire "out there" and then this book appears...! It was one of those "oh dang, I've got to order another book on Amazon in order to qualify for the free shipping so I may as well choose one of these 'others who bought that book also bought these books'" options. Yeah, God works through that. He's in all things, y'know. Even Amazon. The title of this one intrigued me enough to rank, and so it appeared, on the very day in which I told Mark, "Methinks I'm going to have my world rocked in the realm of disease and health." Voila.

Rather than doing what I've done before, and copying the text here, I'll just comment on what I'm getting out of the book ... as always, listen to the Spirit's Voice within you -- you'll know what's for you, now, and what to either let go of, or else put on that "God-shelf" (you do have a God-shelf, right?).

What if there's a common denominator of all disease...? What if, behind all the various labels, presentations and diagnoses of all disease, there's a root cause ... no matter whether the disease is considered to be communicable, degenerative, congenital, or even trauma-based...? What if there's something at work which cannot be seen, even with the highest-powered microscope? What if what we DO see, whether with the eye, or with the microscope, is actually mesmerizing us, and keeping us from seeing the *unseen* reality-root of disease...?

What if medicine cannot, and never could, resolve the problem of human suffering ... what if our health care system is just a disease-management system?

And what if religion and all the human-made doctrines about God & about the origin of human suffering, only exacerbate and cement our collective and individual acceptance (& therefore the perpetuation) of disease, in the first place? (read that again, slowly ... let it sink in ... at least the possibility of it)

What if our skewed understanding of God, of the very nature and essence of God, about the character of God, is getting in the way of our health? What if our beliefs about suffering, about disease are in fact *causing* suffering and disease...? What if our beliefs simply don't line up with God's truth?

Think about examples of your own life -- how many times have you heard someone (even yourself) praying for someone's healing (maybe even your own), and there's all this begging, and pleading, and demanding, and bartering, and declaring going on ... and then the phrase, "IF it be Your will to heal, God"...? IF?!? What are we saying there? What are we revealing about what we really believe? What are we thus doing to limit healing...?

I find that I get to the point, where I realize that I must know the Truth, from God, or die trying. Nothing less but His truth will suffice ... because the wisdom of man, the pat answers of religion, the band-aids of our disease-management system, have failed me.

I've come to the place where I trust that God not only has the answers, but God wants me to know His answers. Not just *believe* for the answers, but to *know*. I see that "we shall know the truth, and the truth shall set us free." I've decided to take God seriously on that. I've decided to trust that He will, by His very Spirit, who is within us, lead us into all truth. I can't settle for less, no matter what it takes.

Now, it seems to me that we're a people quite fixated on fearing disease ... and we believe it's inevitable. We seem to just assume that we will get sick, and even become debilitated, over time -- that it's unavoidable. It's linked to the fear of death -- the "King of Terrors." We've created a multi-billion dollar disease management system, and a plethora of chemical medications to overcome this enemy we fear ... and yet we're not only not protected from disease, all this money and effort as actually served to plunge us into less health & wholeness...!

Most of us no doubt know of, or have heard of, folks who were miraculously healed, either of cancer, or AIDS, or some other "incurable" disease, in a way that stymies the medical professionals. No one can tell us, in human terms, why some are healed -- and then we wonder why others are not healed. We wonder, is there a principle involved, that we can duplicate, in order to enable all people to experience healing? Religion tells us "no." "Not all are healed, and not all are even meant to be healed - it's just not God's will for all to be healed." After all, they say, the earth is corrupt, and sin and disease are now rampant and unavoidable, and it's therefore the will of God that humans should suffer for how we've thwarted God's original perfect plan ... to the point that children must even suffer for the sins of their parents. Others say that it IS God's will that everyone be healed, but we have to conjure up "enough faith" (which is always a wee bit more than whatever we currently have)(ooh! I used "wee" twice in one post!), or else God's hands are tied. Yet others say that God loves some folks, and hates other folks -- so it depends on whether you were lucky enough to be born one of the "elect" (ever notice that folks who promote such a view never say, "and I just happen to be one of the reprobate ones - dang-it!" No, the ones who hold this view always "just happen" to be the "elect." Sheesh).

Never mind that Jesus healed everyone who asked him ... not a single one was ever turned away, in the texts that we have access to.

So, why do some get healed, while others do not? What does it take to qualify? Who decides - God, or the suffering-one?

What if the answer lies in an entirely new perspective...? One that embraces personal responsibility for our body-gifts, as well as a transformation of our beliefs and concepts of life itself? What if we have fallen away from a true-reality of life, the true-reality of the nature of God, who we really are, and why we are here, having this life, in the first place?

What if, with a major change of perspective, our very expectations would be altered? What if this would lead us into the experience of health, of wholeness? What if we could learn to live outside the expectation of disease, and what if our bodies would then follow suit?

What if we are filled with lies, individually and collectively ... false images of God, of ourselves, of our bodies, of *reality*, that need to be not only questioned, but replaced with truth -- truth that would then set us free from the tyranny of the lies we believe...?!? What if the "reality" we accept needs to be replaced with the Mind of Christ - the perspective of God?

As always, these transformations begin with being *willing* to let go of what we think we know ... being willing to listen, to hear the Voice from within, to trust that the Spirit can, and will, lead us into all truth. If we cling to what we think we know, what we think we know will be what we get.

How's that working for you, so far...? ;)

Insanity is doing (or thinking!) the same thing, over and over, expecting different results.

What IF man was created to be free from all disease and suffering? (if that strikes you as blasphemous, ask yourself what you really believe? then ask God if it's true.) What if we could experience radical health and wholeness here and now, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in? What if we could live on earth, as it is in heaven...?

What if...?

Wanna find out if it's really possible...? Stay tuned! Let's explore this one together, and see what the Spirit shows us.


Shalom, Dena

Friday, August 28, 2009

Recapping My Interview ...

For those who missed the online Presence Zone meeting last night, it was recorded, and I'll be sharing that link as soon as I get it. In the meanwhile, here's how my friend Kevin Beck (the host) summed up the conversation:

Last night Dena Brehm shared her compelling story and insights in the Presence Zone.

There is no single formula that creates personal transformation for all people in all times. Each of us has experienced unique situations that shape how we see the world, ourselves, and our place in the world.

However, when it comes to personal transformation, we seem to share several common elements.

For instance, consider fear. Fear is a powerful thought and emotion. It can paralyze people and freeze them from making any decision. Or it can propel us into making unwise decisions.

Dena calls it the "egoic reaction to what we do not know."

Sometimes, well-meaning people in our lives reinforce our fearful thinking. Sometimes, it comes dressed in religious garb and is called repentance, confession, and guilt. Dena described it with the amazingly self-contradictory phrase "shame-based therapy."

As hurtful as fear is, there is good news. When we reach a point in our lives when we can't live with the paralysis or rashness of fear, we can find a creative place for transformation.

A similar thing happens when we experience pain. Whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, pain can serve as an alarm clock. It can awaken us to new paths of living -- new paths that transcend the constrictive life patterns that we have learned and acquired over the years.

We tend to label these and similar emotions and experiences as "negative." Yet, there is noting intrinsically negative about them -- if we allow them to open our eyes to changes that we can make.

Dena described this transformation process in detail. She has undergone -- and is continuing to undergo -- deep changes after experiencing intense fear and excruciating pain.

When we believe stories about a pathological deity, our own unworthiness, and endemic exclusion, we will create prisons of anxiety, worry, and suffering for ourselves.

Those prisons, though, do not have to be the end of the story. There is a way out.


Lose the story.

Dena described her experience like this. "I had to fire the old 'god' that was in my head."

Obviously, this can be a difficult process. It can involve the end of one world. But the creation of a new world -- one that is yours, not one that was foisted upon you -- far surpasses the former things.

In finding freedom, we can go through a process of judgmentalism.We might judge people who are judgmental. This tends to reinforce a mentality of victimhood.

How can you experience liberation from this cycle. Dena says, "I am responsible for what I project." This empowering realization allows you to be a conscious creator with God.

This was a wonderful webinar with people from North America, South Africa, and Japan.

And I'm pleased to report that my mother said I didn't embarrass her, not even once! She actually enjoyed it ~ and so did I...!

Oh - and Mark ('twould be my main squeeze) has been asked to do the Zone Meeting in October! Then y'all will be able to hear the "rest of the story"..!

And if you'd like to see the slide images that I used, just email me, and I'll share them: brehmites @ aol . com (remove the spaces first, of course!).

Shalom, Dena

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Musings on Duality...

Having had this conversation elsewhere, a few times actually, I thought I'd muse a bit on it here as well ...

So what IS duality?

Duality is the belief in a power of good, and a power of evil ... most
traditionally seen as the "battle" between God and the devil.

But the battle is all in our minds ...

It also breaks down into the insistence of seeing things as polar (& competing) opposites, i.e., black/white, up/down, hot/cold, right/wrong, in/out, included/excluded, painful/joyous, acceptable/unacceptable, brokenness/wholeness, me/you, heaven/earth, life/death, and so on ...

But what if, rather than being opposites (& thus in competition), what we really have is a display of a spectrum ... a continuum of the same thing, depending on our perspective when we see/experience it..?

What if we're meant to see these as two sides of the "same coin," and that both to be understood, appreciated, and even embraced, in order to enhance and bring meaning to the human experience...? For how do we learn what something is, until we've experienced what something is not?

Ponder these quotes for a moment:

“When you make the two one, and when you make the inner as the outer and the outer as the inner, and the above as the below, and when you make the male and female into a single one, then shall you enter the Kingdom.” Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas

“The human mind rarely sees beyond these opposites to the Greater Unity that necessitates them. But the mind can awaken to Greater Unity, and in this lies the purpose of Creation and of humankind.” Reb Yerachmiel ben Yisrael

“The creating intelligence must become what it creates if it is to fully express its own non-duality.” Laurence Freeman in Jesus, the Teacher Within

As I now see it, and as I find affirmed in scripture, there is One Power, and
that is God ... God is good, God is love. God is all in all. God created all
things, including humans with a penchant to "fall" (& I now believe that the
fall was necessary) ... and God called all that He had made "good", even "very
good" (& He never took it back).

And all things work together for my good -- no matter how I may perceive them and judge them at the time (for my perception is very, very limited and skewy). I notice that the way in which I perceive/judge a thing (or a person), is the determining factor in the way in which I then experience a thing (or a person)

Any other "power" is only in my mind ... and I can project that "power" out, and "see" it and experience it (and we see the effect of this in the world around us -- the collective belief in evil creates manifestations of evil.) As a man thinks in his own heart so IS he. Jesus says that evil comes out of our own hearts (or "unrenewed minds"). What comes INTO us doesn't affect us, but what comes OUT of us can defile us.

If we believe lies, the lies will seem like "truth" to us.

I see that the belief in duality (seeing more than one power), is to go against
the first commandment ... the Lord our God is ONE - beside Him there is no
other. In choosing to see a world filled with duality, we are creating the mental image (an "engraved" image in our minds - or, an idol, if you will). On that foundation will be built much (all!) shame, guilt, pain, suffering, and the very human vs. human mentality we see manifested in the world all around (and even within) us...!

If we believe a thing, then that thing will be "as truth" to us.

I see that we were told to stay away from the tree of the "knowledge of good and evil"... the level of self-deception that there is anything BUT God in operation "out there".

In looking a bit more closely at this, I notice that trees are often biblically symbolic of a "way of understanding," or a "mindset." We're told to eat from the tree of Life (God's Life, God's Perspective), not from this tree of Duality. I also see that the Hebrew word for "knowledge" can also be translated as "perspective" ... interesting. So, perhaps it could more clearly be said: "do not partake, or let into yourself, the mindset of the perspective that things can be defined as 'good' or 'evil'." IOW, while we are in human form, and subject to our carnal/egoic minds, we have no business, and indeed no *ability*, of correctly discerning what is "good" and what is "evil." Further, God declared ALL that He had made to be "very good." And what exists, anywhere, on any plane, which was not created by God...?

When I connect the dots, I see that the concept of duality is nothing more than an illusion in my own mind.

I have to settle the matter within me, and then I will observe the world around me differently ... I have to be willing to have my eyes opened, to have the veil lifted, so that I can see as God sees ... and I do believe that this is His will and desire for me, for you, for everyone. And I do experience that we can either cooperate with Him, or resist Him.

I believe I will come (& am coming) to see that everyone is doing the best they can, based on what they believe -- if they believe lies, if they believe they are evil, if they believe they are an enemy of God, then they will ACT that way.

I believe I will come (& am coming) to see that people are just confused ... they do not know Who is within them (what other Source of life do we imagine there IS?). I will come (& am coming) to see that the Kingdom of God/Heaven is within me, and once I see/experience it there, and everywhere, it transforms everything else I see.

Duality, is believing that there is anything BUT God.

I see that God is Omnipotent (all powerful -- no power but God), Omniscient
(all-knowing, no knowledge but God), and Omnipresent (there is nowhere in which God is not -- "where can I go from Your Presence ... if I go to Sheol, You are there").

AISI, we're *still* to stay out of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ...
all too often, religion trains us to climb that tree, judge everything we see as
"good" or "evil" and then throw rotten fruit.

It all depends on what we deem to be the truer reality ... the world we see
around us, or the spiritual realm. This takes a shift in consciousness ... I've
come to see that I'm a spiritual being having a human experience.

(this is also backed up by discoveries in science, i.e., quantum physics)

Let's go back for a minute to those seeming "opposites" that we observe through the lens of duality ... if I change my thinking, and accept that they're sides of the same "coin", and that they show me a divine dichotomy, and if I allow them to be perceived as a WHOLE, something amazing happens:

- When right and wrong are united, I experience compassion.

- When love and hate are united, I experience forgiveness.

- When good and bad are united, I experience non-judgment.

- When male and female are united, I experience balance.

- When hope and despair are united, I experience trust.

- When Heaven and earth are united, I experience peace,and joy.

And when I see that, I can enjoy this world around me far MORE than when I used to fear it as "evil"...!

Shalom, Dena

P.S. I am aware that two areas in my life, which are in need of a "shift," are health/sickness and finances. God-incidentally, after putting out this desire, I received a book in the mail yesterday, that directly addresses a shift in the perspective of sickness/health ... I'm excited about it, and cannot wait to share it here!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


This Thursday, just two days from now, I'll be the featured speaker for a "Webinar," on the Presence Zone, with Kevin Beck of Presence, International. Basically, what that means is that I'll be interviewed, in an Internet "radio" program. I'll be speaking about transformation in general, as well as the personal transformations I've undergone in recent years (healings, shiftings, transitions).

The time will be 8:00PM EST (New York); 7:00PM CST (Mississippi); 6:00PM MST (Colorado); and 5:00PM PST (Oregon - where I be!). It should run for 60-90 minutes, and will NOT be boring, as I'm highly allergic to boring, LOL!

I have *no* idea of what I shall say, as I'll be "winging-it" ... every time I've prepared for a talk, I've ended up totally disregarded my notes, and have just gone with the flow ... and so I'm learning to trust the process, to trust that God will prompt me from within, and I'll just share out of who I am, and what I've experienced and am experiencing ... I'm as curious as anyone about what will come out of me...! ;)

Please feel free to join in -- you can participate in the conversation, either by texting/chatting (on your keyboard), or via a mic/headset (either will work). You do not have to be technologically savvy to do this ... if you can click a mouse, you can join in.

To reserve your free spot in this, just contact my friend, Kevin Beck, the host of this "Zone" meeting: Kevin will then send you a link, to get into the "conference room" just before the scheduled time on Thursday.

Here's what Kevin had to say about this, recently:

My friend Dena Brehm will be the featured presenter in the Presence Zone on August 27.

Dena has an amazing love for people and enthusiasm for living. She is a wife, mother, artist, and popular blogger. Besides all that, I'm pretty sure that Dena know more people than anyone I've ever met.

More than just knowing people, she like them. She really likes them.

Dena has a charismatically graceful personality. Her spiritual journey speaks to the thoughts, feelings, and experiences that so many others are going through.

She and her husband Mark have worked in church ministry, been involved in the house church movement, and have friends in all walks of life.

Dena's personal story is compelling. After suffering from bulimia for over twenty years, she found healing and experienced a creative impulse. You can read about it here.

Her openness has allowed her to connect with people. You can see it for yourself on her popular blog "Shalom, Dena."

In a recent series, Dena has been exploring "The Trouble with Transformation." She makes several brilliant observations, like:

"I see transformation as a necessary-but-messy process ... not unlike the birth process. Both are conceived in a moment of wild-abandon . . . both end up with an 'expansion' . . . both come to an agonizing place of transition . . . and both end up giving birth to a new form of life. If you ask either one, in the midst of the transition, if it's a joyous thing, you're likely to be hit, or bit or annihilated, LOL! Oh, and let's not forget that the "new life" must be nurtured, treasured, honored and loved. Neither will thrive well with benign neglect, much less abuse."

You can read the entire series when you click here.

I invite you to participate in the live online Zone conversation with Dena on August 27 at 8:00 PM (New York time). There is no cost to join in the conversation. But you must register. Contact me at: kevin @ presence . tv.

When I hear from you, I will send you the log-in instructions.

The Zone is the live online gathering hosted by Presence International. It gives you an opportunity to interact with people from around the world who are awakening to life-transforming experiences. People just like you.

The Zone takes place in a web conference room on the internet. In the room, you can listen, watch slides and video, send and receive text messages, and talk using your computer microphone.

The technology is simple to use. If you can click a mouse, you have all the skills necessary.

I hope to see you in the Zone on August 27th. If you have any questions, please contact me. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Musing on the Atonement ...

Let me confess right up-front: I am mid-shift regarding the Atonement. I no longer embrace what I was taught (I'll get to that in a minute), and yet I'm not fully settled on what it is that I now embrace ... (& I'll get to that in a minute, too).

I was taught that because we humans had blown in in the Garden, had fallen, had caused the earth to be cursed, and had rendered ourselves totally depraved, alienated/separated from God, and hopeless in our fallen condition ... we can only be reconciled to God if we accept the penal-substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus (who is God), on the cross, who died in our place, to appease God (that remote-God in heaven), because somebody had to pay the price for our sin, which is eternal separation and/or torment in hell.

So, if we boil it all down, we have: God killing God to appease God..?!?

That's no longer makes the intuitive-sense to me - I mean, it doesn't pass the straight-face test, even though I unquestioningly accepted it as "absolute truth" for decades.

First, I no longer believe that we were ever separated from God (how can we be separated from Omnipresence? And even scripture affirms that even in Sheol, the abode of the dead, He is there). I do acknowledge that we can *think* we are separated from God, and our own shame/guilt can cause us to *feel* what we perceive to be a separation from God, but since when do our thoughts and feelings dictate God's reality...? Apparently, despite what the sermons declare, we *DO* create our own sense of reality, based on what we think and feel.

I also see that while God declared all of creation (including us!) to be good, indeed very good, He never took back that assessment. He never said, "OK, now you've blown it -- you ruined my perfect creation, and made it less-than-perfect!" Actually, I don't see where HE ever declared it to be perfect -- just "very good."

Part of that "very good" was the serpent in the garden ... and the likelihood of encountering "him", and the probability of the temptation, and the certaintude of giving in to that temptation (given that God had created the fruit to be pleasing to the eye, and had created humans to be drawn to beauty, and to be drawn to the concept of being like God, knowing good from evil). Part of the "very good" thus seems to be the value of learning from our choices, and from the resulting consequences ... as if the fall was a set-up, and even necessary ... a falling out of the womb into the world of duality (a worldview wherein we judge all we see as either "good" or "evil", which only God can accurately do). It's in this very setting in which we learn who we are not, and thus who we are ...

And along the way, due to how we've believed our skewy and duality-based perspectives, we've had many, many adventures in missing the point...!

We were (individually and collectively) under the illusion of separation, and believing that God had required sacrifice (this goes back to pagan concepts of those angry volcano gods, who seemed to demand virgin daughters and first-born sons in order to be appeased, and thus stop spewing lava and ash all over those fields and villages!). While we have endlessly meticulous details about "how/when/why/where to sacrifice" in the minutiae of the Law (language which doesn't even sound like God to me, but does sound a lot like detail-oriented religious leaders!), we later have God declaring, through the prophets, that He never wanted sacrifice, but instead wanted mercy... He even told us He didn't want to be our Master, but our Husband. Woah. How'd we miss that one?!?

Our dualistic mentality had/has enslaved us ... so, God met/meets us where we were/are. Sorta like, "You want sacrifice? I'll show you sacrifice -- I'll come down there and BE the sacrifice for you, so that you will finally KNOW that I'm the God who loves you, and not the wrathful, vengeful God you keep creating in your own image (& stop doing that - it's so annoying)! This will put an end to all sacrifice, and then we can have the intimate relationship I've been trying to have with you since the very beginning ... I've longed to gather you under my wings, but you wouldn't let Me...!"

And ... sadly, because we created the system of Christianity, which makes a lousy counterfeit for Relationship, we STILL don't let Him...! We continue to believe and promote the man-made doctrine of God being "up there" and us being "way down here" with a huge chasm in between ... even though God was in Christ, reconciling the world (who's that leave out?) to Himself ... even though the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. Even though there is NO life except for God's life, and in Him we live and move and have our being. STILL we defend (to the death!) our "absolute" (yet skewy) belief that we are separate from Omnipresence.

What if we need to repent (change our minds) about what we think and believe...?

What if we need to let go of what we think we know, and let the Spirit lead us into all truth..?

What if we need fewer "absolutes" (& fewer disputes) and more irresolutes (for it seems clear to me that we don't allow God to get through our closed mind ... preferring the god we've made in our own image)...?

Shalom, Dena

Saturday, August 22, 2009

ALL Fulfilled ...!

Just some random thoughts on fulfillment ... for what it's worth. As always, only receive whatever the Spirit illumines and resonates for you ... if it "rings true," embrace it. If it strikes you as "off", take the time to ask the Spirit for deeper insight ... often our "off-putting" reactions can be rooted in our own egoic thinking ... we can have a knee-jerk reaction to that which challenges what we already believe to be true (& yet, I've seen how we can, and usually do, believe skewy-truths, or outright-lies). Or, it could be that this truth is for me, and not for you ... or not yet for you, or not for you at all. You may be in need of seeing other things, depending on what you've personally experienced, and whatever way in which your own meandering/circuitous path unfolds. Don't take anything that I, or any other human, says, just because we say so ... we need to know, first-hand for ourselves. God doesn't have step-children, or grandchildren ... God only has children ... His offspring, to whom, and through whom, He communicates. He wants us to reason together with HIM, so that we can own whatever it is He shows us. He uses each of us, sure ... but to remind each other of what we already know inside, because He is always revealing, always speaking ... and we can come to discern between the fear-based, alarmist-reactionary voice of the ego, and the Still, Small Voice of God-within ... our true identity.

We have met the enemy, and he is us. Woah.

Given that, here's some of what I'm now seeing ... you do you own business with God, to determine if any of it is also for you:

- I see that we have the power of perception ... as a man thinks in his own heart, so is he. I see that we create the perceived reality ... we see the world through the lenses we choose to wear. I used to see the world filled with sin-bent, fallen humanity ... I now see the world filled with bumbling-beloved children of God ... confused, "knowing not what they do." I see, daily, the many and uncanny way in which people are awakening to the reality of who God is,and who we are in Christ (& I see all are in Christ ... just as all were previously in Adam, in the former covenant -- even as the covenants are just another perception-lens through which we see, as we could bear to see it, and not the higher reality of God-who-never-changes).

I see that we're no longer under the Law ... and apart from the Law, there is no sin ... I see that sin is the illusion of separation from God, but there is no separation from God -- God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself (& in God's perspective, this was always done, as the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world -- we just had to have it demonstrated to us, albeit dramatically). Yes, we can do, and still do, harmful things to each other ... but this isn't sin, as it doesn't affect our relationship with our Father. We can learn from our actions and the resulting consequences (think: Prodigal son), particularly when we don't have the condemnation and shame that comes with the concept of sin -- and which blinds us, keeps us in denial, and actually perpetuates the very behavior of which we're ashamed...!

I see that Daniel tells us that the new covenant would be a time in which there would be no more sin ... iniquity would be done away with. However, I see that the Kingdom is not once-and-for-all event that's imposed on everyone at once ... but an inner reality that's entered one awakened heart at a time ... so that the gates of New Jerusalem are always open, with people coming in continuously (and the Spirit and the Bride beckoning "come") ... outside are those who act in ignorance to the reality of God (& the reality of who they really are!), but the waters of life flow out to them, ever-beckoning them to taste and see, and the doors are open 24/7.

I no longer expect an earthly utopia, even as I hold out hope that the planet can gradually change as we awaken more and more to the current reality of who Christ is, and how we are in Him. The peace is that which I receive within me ... the wolf and lamb lie down together as I break down "us vs. them" walls between me and others I wrongly perceive as my "enemies" ... as I turn those walls into bridges of love, compassion and understanding, forgiving those who don't understand, those who lash out in their confusion and pain, for hurt people hurt people. This same reconciliation can take place within me, as my own wolf (ego) and my lamb (spirit) lie down and coexist in peace ... no longer competing, no longer clashing, no longer battling ... there is no more battle (and there never was) ... unless we persist in seeing the world (and ourselves) through that lens ... the choice, as always, is ours.

Just how I'm seeing things, for now, awaiting further revelation. I fully expect and appreciate that others see things differently ... I will not divide. I will converse, rather than convert. I will share my hope and my joy, and I will learn from all others, no matter what the lesson turns out to be.

We must each walk in the Light we've been given, fully allowing ALL other human beings, bumbling-beloveds of God, to likewise do the same ... this grace was extended to me, and I want to learn to extend this same grace to all others ... loving one and all as we're in this journey together.

Shalom, Dena

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Favorite Sport: Setting Captives Free

The cry for "FREEDOM" has long been heard throughout history ... this, I believe, is because it's our very heart-cry. We know we are meant to live in utter freedom. We feel it, we can taste it ... it's who we are.

And yet, look at the myriad of resistances we have to freedom ... those who fear freedom (the "slippery slope into licentiousness"!) and so do their darndest to impose external rules, demanding conformity (or else!). Those who fear the responsibility that comes with our inherent freedom, and so they want to passively wait for someone else to show up and impose the rules. Those who fear the unfamiliarity of a free life, preferring the "safety" of the enslavement they've always known.

It's as if we've all been set free, and yet we walk around with a set of portable bars in front of us, seeing the world through that "lens"... in effect carryout out our own life-sentence of enslavement.

We all have a choice -- and yet, sometimes it takes those of us who have been radically set free to live that freedom *out-loud*, reminding those who have forgotten their freedom, and inspiring those who don't realize that freedom is their very nature...

(I've noticed that this comes with a price-tag though ... sometimes the very ones we're trying to liberate can bite the snot out of us! When their ego screams about the dangers of freedom, they can't hear the Still, Small Voice who beckons them to jump off the cliff ... and learn to FLY...!)

I'd love to see those folks un-enslaved ... thing is, many of them are like the Israelites in the desert ... get them into the transition to freedom, and they start yammering for the security and seeming safety of the enslavement.

Some of us humans really *don't* want the responsibility that God gives us ... we prefer to be the stupid sheep, and let someone else be in charge of our choices.

Many of us prefer the predictability and comfort of our familiar enslavement ... by contrast the wide-open spaces of our freedom can overwhelm and panic those who don't yet know Who They Really Are.

Ok - we have that option.

But it's like a spiritual lobotomy.

BTDT, ain't going back!

I guess it's just my lot in life, and my honor, to keep getting bit.

I just can't shut up ... can't even find the dimmer-switch...! ;)

Shalom, Dena

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Adventures in Meditating...!

I'm reading the "Art of Meditation" by Joel Goldsmith ... (finished "Practicing the Presence" a couple of days ago)... and I launched into my first-ever intentional meditation practice this morning ...

I opened my Bible, and it was bookmarked at Psalm 91 ... don't know why - it just was. I've heard that this psalm is written to/about Jesus, but since the end of it speaks of being given salvation, methinks it's not a Messianic psalm, but a psalm for any of us.

Here's the psalm - I'll highlight the parts that stood out to me (this is the version I read - NASB):

1He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

2I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!"
3For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
4He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

[I notice that it's HIS faithfulness, and not mine!]

5You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
6Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

[I see this, not as a command, but as a promise -- for those who discover how to dwell in the inner-place of connection-with-God.]

7A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.

[LOL, this is my own response to the "swine flu" -- rather than trusting in an untested vaccination...!]

8You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
12They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
14"Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

[I don't see this as "those who correctly say the English translation of the Greek transliteration we have made up, i.e., "Jesus" ... but those who know the nature and character of God, because of having experienced Him within them.]

15"He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16"With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation."

Now, that "tent" line stood out to me ... previously, I was told that "tent" meant my body ... that my body would be protected. And while that may be the case, I'm not thinking the focus here is on my physical body (physicality fades away -- this psalm speaks to me of my inner SELF, my spirit, that which is immortal and imperishable).

The word also means "dwelling" ... and I'm already told here that I will dwell in the shelter/shadow of God ... in HIM is my real dwelling, my real self.

So, when my consciousness, my awareness, is IN Him, nothing from outside of me can touch me ...

Things came to me that seem like "plagues" trying to "get at" me:

- A relative who is using manipulation, control and threats to attempt to coerce me into doing what she wants me to do -- or else, I am "betraying" her (can we all say, "junior high"? I allow myself one snide judgment per day -- that was it -- I'm done).

- Posters on SimpleChurch and Wisefire(!) who think it their place to "correct" me, with faux-love.

- Misunderstandings with loved-ones ... a temporary sense of "separation" between us ...

- My memories/frustrations with our friends/neighbors, who have left, but are still (argh!) affecting me through my own mind!

- People in my life who feel they must separate from me, 'til I come to my senses and repent.

- My children, who leave messes strewn throughout the house, as if to say, "you clean it Mom, we don't care."

- The general aches and pains that come with living in a human body (I've been experiencing hair-loss ... sigh....!)

- The deadlines and demands of others who want various things done in a particular way and timing.

- The deadlines and demands that come from within my own mind..!

- Dozens (if not hundreds) of emails that "require" a response.

- The ever-looming projects in and around the property that nag me to do/finish them.

- The multitude of books/articles/websites that I want to read and assimilate.

- The things I want to accomplish: painting more furniture, learning the guitar, writing a book, ballroom dancing lessons, organizing a yard sale, setting up a website, and a myriad of other things I won't bore you with.

- (& the biggest and most pervasive "plague" of them all): the THOUGHTS of my OWN MIND!

Then, deeper thoughts, or awarenesses, began emerging within me ... as I observed:

- Nothing from without enters in.

- I will dwell in God - I *do* dwell in God ... there is no evil in this dwelling.

- I noticed loud birds squawking outside the window ... just a cacophony of demanding noise. I let myself observe it, but noticed that it did not come in - either to where I was sitting, either in the natural (in the chair), nor in the spiritual (in the dwelling). It just was. They clamored for attention, incessantly yammering in their insistency, trying to drown each other out, but I could just smile (LOL, and they so reminded me of the debating folks on message forums!) ... they were "out there" and I was "in here." The message was not lost on me ... so, too, are all the "plagues" listed above "out there" ... I do not have to let them come "in here." Wow. (I then noticed that the birds quite suddenly ceased squawking, and silent peace ensued...)

- I heard, "enter your closet, and close the door..." Previously, I had wondered why Jesus would want us to only pray privately ... but it dawned on me that this was about meditating in intimacy with God ... it's a state of awareness, and not the proximity or positioning of my body. It's being aware of His Presence, in and through and around me, permeating all that *is*. Of course, at this stage of my journey, I do find it helpful to intentionally block out as many distractions as possible, but when the inevitable distractions occur, as demonstrated with the birds, even that can be an illumination for me, if I look for God *in* it. In my "closet", in that place of connection with God, nothing and no one can touch me there.

- "Evil" may show up all around me, but the essence of evil is only in their minds -- and is only real to me if I allow it to be so in my *own* mind. Powerful lesson there. Way-powerful ... will have to percolate on that one a while...!

- I love that angels will guard me in all my ways -- and angels (direct translation: messengers) can take many forms. I can bank on that one.

- I also notice that God *will* answer me ... my job is to look for Him, to expect to SEE Him, to HEAR Him, in all things. For God is all in all.

- All the "plagues" that come at me, threatening me, are *without* me ... they do not, and cannot, enter into my dwelling-place-in-God...!

As way of confirmation (and I do so love confirmations!), I received this snippet written by Henri Nouwen, from a dear friend:

Focusing Our Minds and Hearts

How can we stay in solitude when we feel that deep urge to
be distracted by people and events? The most simple way is
to focus our minds and hearts on a word or picture that
reminds us of God. By repeating quietly: "The Lord is my
shepherd, there is nothing I shall want," or by gazing
lovingly at an icon of Jesus, we can bring our restless
minds to some rest and experience a gentle divine presence.

This doesn't happen overnight. It asks a faithful practice.
But when we spend a few moments every day just being with
God, our endless distractions will gradually disappear

I think I'll continue in this meditation-adventure, and see what else dawns ...

Shalom, Dena

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

God Comes to Me Disguised as My Life ~ Welcoming the Unlikely Messengers

So how are we to respond, when we see something we dislike, and strongly react to, within another person...? How do we know what's them, what's us, and what how we are to respond?

I notice that we tend to project our own stuff "out there", because it's easier to see it when we detach from it. What we're blind to in ourselves, we see OH-SO-CLEARLY in another ... and if we know how to use this awareness, we'll see it for the profound *gift* that it is...!

Projecting is ignoring the log in our own eye, and hyper-focusing on the speck we see in the eye of the other. We only SEE the speck because we *possess* the log ... and yet the nature of the log is to blind us to seeing what it is that's blinding us.

Jesus was clear about what we were to do first -- tend to the log. The speck, in all reality, is none of our business. There's three kinds of businesses: my business, your business, and God's business. The only one of the three I'm to tend to is my business. Knowing what's what is a matter of maturity .. too often, when we are filled with "facts" and not the experience of wisdom, when we have an overabundance of self-promoting certaintude and zealous energy (typically found in our youth), that energy can be skewedly put into the trouncing of others. Of course, the tendency is to be blind to this when we're smack-dab in it ... and so we tend to be insufferable for a while, until we outgrow it. We can't see it until we have the wisdom of hindsight ... we have to get out of it before we can see it. God knows this, and we can know this too, and can thus love the one who's temporarily afflicted with it. To varying and diverse degrees, we all "know not what we are doing." We are all the bumbling-beloved of God -- and if we got a clue about how OK this all is with Him, and is even likely a source of hilarity for Him, we might just ease up on each other as well, and enjoy the journey ... free to encourage each other, rather than climbing that tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and lobbing rotten fruit at each other ...!

I can't prove any of this to anyone... this level of awareness transcends "facts" (which are not as reliable as we've been led to believe, but again, we won't know that 'til we see it for ourselves). This comes from experience, and it takes time and long hard lessons learned the tough way ... though some, of course, manage to stubbornly hang on to their own skewed perspective to the very end ... and while it may seem like a "waste" from our limited perspective, they serve as examples/lessons/reminders to the rest of us for how *not* to think/believe/behave -- nothing is wasted in God's economy.

While reading "Practicing the Presence" this morning ... I was struck by what Joel Goldsmith wrote about seeing God in all others ... it requires some focused intentionality, particularly when the ego is loudly broadcasting, drowning out the God-glimpse within them.

He spoke of how those of us who see, who are walking the narrow path (the road less traveled), are called to see and to call forth the God-consciousness in the other ... which is a sort of "dying to self"... my ego-self wants to engage with their ego-self, to compete and to hopefully win ... and thus I'm meeting the problem with the same consciousness wherein the problem arises -- in the realm of the ego. When I do this, I merely exacerbate the problem ...

It is HARD, very much like a "dying" to choose to see the good, the God-essence, in the depth of the other ... hard to see past that which "hooks" me, and "triggers" my old unresolved stuff (pain not yet attended to, losses not yet grieved, assumptions not yet challenged) -- leading me to *react* from my ego rather than to *respond* from my spirit.

Dang, dang, dang, this is HARD...! But mostly, I believe, because of the unresolved things within me that *CAN* be hooked, and thus draw me in to the ego-scuffle. I believe, because I've experienced it in some areas of my soul, that when I attend to the inner-things (when I deal with the "log in my own eye"), then I am free from the "hook" ... then I cannot (in THAT area) be "triggered" again by the externals (whether in the form of a person, or a situation), and I AM then free to respond from my spirit -- from who I really am. (Note the subtle but powerful distinction between "reacting" and "responding"...!)

Then, I notice, I am able to deal with the splinter in the eye of the other, or else realize that it's no big deal, and not my business.

Perhaps the awareness of the splinter in the eye of the other is merely meant to show ME the log in my own ... and THAT is my business, THAT is my work -- the rest is only God showing up as messengers/angels in the people and circumstances of my life ... God comes to me disguised as my life ... my question for myself is: will I reject how God shows up, or will I embrace whatever form He chooses...?

While I can't say I have a "requirement" for how others must believe, I notice that if they are not open to accepting others who have different views, if they believe that everyone "should" believe a certain way, then relationship (of any meaningful measure) cannot thrive ... without mutual respect, mutual sharing, mutual hearing and receiving and acceptance, there is no ground for true relationship.

Words about how they "love" me, and thus must correct/reject me (because I believe differently) are empty and hollow to me ... I don't "feel the love" when others have to withdraw out of self-protection. What they love is their own concept, and the projection of what they think I "should" believe, how they think I "should" behave. They love their concept of me, which is in their own mind, rather than really loving me (who is in continual transformation ... and is that not the point to life?).

Of course, the "me" they reject is also a fabrication of their own mind ... they tell themselves a story about me, and they believe the story, and they aren't connecting with the real me ... aren't trying to hear me, to understand me, to accept me. Perhaps this stems from not really knowing the real them ... perhaps they don't know themselves as God knows them (and who else can truly define us, but the One who made us?). Perhaps they cannot yet love their neighbor as themself, because they do not yet love themself, because they don't yet know how God loves & accepts them...? (and perhaps this is just as true for me)

I also notice that if they withdraw from me, and do not share themselves with me, do not allow me to hear them, then I don't really know them either ... then I only have the story I tell myself about them.

But the glory is in how I have a CHOICE in the story I tell myself about them. I can choose to see them as "wrong" and thus judge them, and end up doing/being the way I'm judging them to do/be (judgment always does that, I notice).

I can choose, instead, to tell myself that who they really are is a child of God ... one of the bumbling-beloved, doing the best they can based on where they are in their own journey with them ... I can forgive what they do (they know not what they are doing), I can look past their projection-of-self to see the real Self ... I can intentionally look for God-in-them, and focus on that, letting the rest go as temporary ego-fluff. I can love my neighbor as myself, when I realize that we're all manifesting the same Self (a huge shift in awareness that makes all the difference ... I'm only beginning to taste the edges of this awareness, and I want more ... I expect to receive more).

I can receive them as divine messengers ... if I see something I do not like in them, I can be sure that I can only see it because I also possess it (something I never like to admit to, initially, LOL!). When I can allow myself to see that, to own that, to accept that, then I can receive that message as a gift -- if I resist it, then I miss the message, and miss the gift. My choice. But I can always learn.

I acknowledge that I resist and miss most of the messages that God is lavishly and generously offering me, because I (or my ego) do not like the packaging ... and so I "cut off my nose to spite my face" ... and for the time being, I remain "stuck" in my own warped perspective ... but such is the human experience, such is the purpose of life, to learn from who & what we encounter ... and I see that I can either learn the hard way, or the easy way ... thus far, my penchant, it seems, is to learn the hard way ...! Ah, the humanity!

But I believe in transformation, and I believe it's happening, and I believe that I'm learning ... albeit ever-so-slowly (according to my perspective, anyway) ... perhaps I need to treat myself with the same patience and graciousness that I sense the Spirit is inviting me to extend to others ... rather than demanding that I strive according to my own ego, I can instead allow myself to respond to the Spirit who is, indeed and always, leading me into all truth.

Maybe I can really trust that ... maybe it's really true.

Wow ... I needed to hear this!

Shalom, Dena

Monday, August 17, 2009

(My Version of) I Have a Dream ...

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. (Pascal)

So much egoic evil has come out of religious convictions ... maligning God with our human tendencies ... imagining Him to be the One to fuel our unlove for our "enemies"...

In my eclectic reading, I came across a snippet from, of all places, Vatican II, written back in 1965 -- I confess that I had never before read this:

"...all peoples comprise a single community, and have a single origin ... One also is their final goal: God. His providence his manifestation of goodness, and his saving designs extend to all people... we reject nothing which is true and holy in these religions ... looking with sincere respect upon these ways of conduct and life, those rules and teachings which, though differing in many particulars from what we hold and set forth, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all people..."

And so I see that good can indeed come out of religious conviction ... because that good transcends religious conviction.

I was once too spiritually immature to see that there could be truth outside of my own myopic "camp" ... and now I know I couldn't begin anywhere else, but where I was. I suppose it could be said that most of us have to start out "conservative." It's a place in which to begin, so that we can send down deep roots. But I no longer see it as a place in which to *stay*. We then have to go the whole way with Christ, and only then will we come to see that Christ is transcendent over our smaller views of Him. We can come to the place where we will no longer need to defend our boundaries so stubbornly, and we can dare to see that truth can be found in the most unexpected places ... for God keeps showing up, as Omnipresence is wont to do (LOL, the absurdity of trying to contain, and tame, Omnipresence...!).

I suppose most of us aren't ready for that yet, and it's taken me a very, very long, and very, very painful time to come to where I could even begin to scratch the surface of getting the point. And yet I see, over and over, Jesus exhorting us to "be not afraid, be not afraid!" It seems that a large number of Christians are still very afraid, as if God needs us to defend truth ... as if He needs us to do His work for Him. I can't help but wonder if we really love the Transcendent Christ who is All Truth, or if we love our own little version of Jesus ... a mascot for the Christian Club...?

It seems the most difficult thing to let go of is the steering wheel in our brain's control center ... to let go of preconceived notions of truth. It takes a long time, and a whole lot of shaking, to let go of the myth of reason, the myth of certaintude.

It seems that when we're finally centered in Christ, in Him in whom we live and move and have our being, that we no longer imagine the "need" to defend our boundaries so staunchly ... when we finally see how vast, how expansive, how all-in-all God really is, we realize He never needed defending at all ... for He had no enemies at all ... least of all His own confused, knowing-not-what-they-do children.

Perhaps when we finally see how He looks at us with eyes of endless compassion and acceptance, we can dare to extend even a portion of that compassion and acceptance to one another ... perhaps when we finally realize that He is all-in-all, we can stop competing, stop comparing, stop correcting, and start cooperating with the One who is Love ...

I have a dream ... and I'm just crazy and foolish enough to keep on dreaming it ...

Shalom, Dena

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Message of the Prodigal ...

I notice that pride, particularly religious pride (the sort that was focused on sidelining and excluding others) was the only issue that Jesus railed against. He met the "sinners" where they were ... was known (derisively) as "friend of sinners" and was accused of being a drunkard (oh, and in cahoots with the devil, too).

Makes me wonder if those of us who "keep sinning," and those of us who "keep pointing fingers at those who keep sinning" haven't both missed the point ... wondering if it's all a matter of not yet encountering the living Presence of Christ, who alone can touch hearts and transform lives, from the inside-out ...?

Wondering, too, if we haven't gotten the nature of God "all wrong"...?

I can't help but recall Jesus' story of the prodigal (which is really a story about the heart & nature of the Father) ... in this story the father is in every way the total opposite of the expected male patriarch. He allows the son to make choices against him, and even empowers him to do so by giving him the inheritance. Later, when the son has come to his senses (after coming to learn from the consequences of his choices -- the only way we seem to learn), the Father refuses to exercise his right to restore order, or impose a punishment. Both the son's leaving and the son's returning are seen as both necessary and painful -- a gift of adult freedom. The God I experience from this story is a Father who refuses to "own" us, refuses to demand our submission, refuses to punish our rebellion. This God respects our freedom, mourns for our perceived alienation, waits patiently (& expectantly) for our return, and accepts our (mixed-motived) love as a gift. When the Father speaks to the disgruntled older brother, I see a God who teaches us to not prefer the security of law over the adventure of grace.

And most shocking of all, I see this: The power God refuses to assume over us is surely *not* given by God to any human over another...!

I see that we get this penchant to rule over others, to correct others, to control others' thoughts and actions, *not* from Jesus, but from the Pharisees Jesus rebuked.

Shalom, Dena

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Trouble with Transformations ~ Part VII

("This is the blog that never ends, and she goes on and on my friends ... ")

Are you ready to look at why we resist the Spirit's leading us into transformation?!?

(Deep. Vast. Silence.)

I'll take that as a yes! Here goes!

One reason I see is that we're creatures of habit -- if a new experience/perspective doesn't fit what we are used to, we resist. The mind is conditioned to cling to and defend it's old familiar ways, and to resist change. (I wrote about this in detail previously ... - haven't figured out how to hyperlink yet -- been too busy blogging, LOL!)

Another reason is our memory ... our past looms larger than our present. Our brain (ego) believes that we already know what we need to know. "Been there, done that, got it down pat, thanks anyway."

Perhaps guilt gets in the way -- if we harbor a sense of shame due to past sins, this can keep us stuck.

We can believe that we don't deserve good things, including new experiences.

We can be filled with old stagnant emotions ... if we've spent a lifetime suppressing and managing them, sitting on the lid to keep them down, it can be quite threatening to consider shining the Light on them, and facing them.

We can fear the loss of control ... we can panic over the notion of not being in charge, not being "in the know" of what's happening to us. We cling to the dysfunctional familiar, rather than to step out into the dark of new experiences.

We can be gripped with skepticism and doubts ... our rational mind can demand "proof" that this direction, this new experience, is real, safe, and good. Particularly if it requires that we step out, in faith, from all that we previously thought we knew.

We can be stuck in victimization -- if we're accustomed to disappointing others, we can have very low expectations of life. We can be in a pessimistic frame of mind, anticipating that every outcome will be a bad one, even if it "seems" to be good.

We can fear being deceived ... particularly if we are surrounded by those who insist upon holding to status quo. Like the sailors of antiquity, we can fear that we are on the edge of all that is familiar, on the verge of stepping out into where "there be dragons."

You may have your own particular list of obstacles in your way. It can seem completely formidable & insurmountable. But, rather than fighting that which arises, we can take a more simple approach ... a less violent approach (which is the egoic approach). We can instead merely choose to notice what arises ... to observe it, to accept it for what it is (without reacting to it). "Ah, I notice that fear is arising - how interesting. I wonder what message it has for me? I wonder what choices I have to make here?"

(For the record, telling myself, "How interesting" is an incredibly powerful de-activator for fear/anxiety/stress/guilt, or any negative emotion or situation. It deflates the sense of urgency ... and I enjoy the mental picture of imagining it sputtering around the room, like a balloon that's just been untied... finally flopping onto the ground, spent.)

So what choices do we have when a negative reaction arises...?

We can wait. Yup, just wait. We can notice our negative reaction and just watch it for a moment ... noticing our feelings, without judgment, without trying to make them change. Just let them be. In doing so, we remove the shock value (the ego ADORES shock value!). We can notice that feelings come and go like waves ... we can detach.

We can talk about it. We can face the reaction, such as fear, and talk to it. We can ask it what it means -- what is it trying to say to us. We don't need to treat it with hostility, but with respect -- this IS a part of us, and everyone/everything responds better to acceptance than to rejection. Whatever arises, we can know that it's a part of ourself ... something we've overlooked or ignored. It just needs attention, understanding and healing.

We can ask it to leave. But first, "hear" what it has to say (that's only polite...!). If we think of negative reactions as messages, instead of problems, they won't be as pervasive (what we resist persists).

We can ask for help. God is nearer than breath, closer than hands and feet ... within us (what other life do we imagine we're living but the very life of God? What other life IS there?).

We can listen to our bodies. Our bodies are wise. Some bodies will tell you that they want to exert energy (walk, run, lift weights). Other bodies will say they need to dance, or move in some rhythmic way. Other bodies will indicate a need for a nap, or a bath, or to belt out a song, or quietly play an instrument ... or to holler at the top of its lungs!

We can breathe. Breathing is fundamental (couldn't resist!). There are many ways to use controlled breathing to release pent up emotion.

There are also choices that are *not* helpful:

- Rationalizing -- it's not helpful to tell yourself that what you feel is insignificant. If something has risen to the surface, to catch your attention -- trust that it is indeed significant.

- Ego - don't write it off as "this sort of thing doesn't happen to someone like me." When an experience arises that diminishes the ego, the ego rejects it outright. Know this, so you can catch it.

- Withholding out of fear - One of the ways we get our old stuff healed, is to be "triggered" in the current situation. Memories get triggered when something familiar happens -- the mind/soul/body wants to get rid of the negative energy that's been pent-up for years ... so when something reminiscent happens, it floods the current event with all the fuel of that which was never resolved -- and we make "mountains out of molehills".

- Procrastination - Unfortunately, we can't pick and choose when negative energies show up... they can pick the most inconvenient times. But if we put off dealing with them, they will only build in intensity. However, if another person is the "triggerer", we can resist discharging toward them. Don't shoot the messenger! The triggerer can be an angel, unawares. It's all too easy to blame the one who merely triggered the old stuff. It's harder, but more productive, to face the reality that our stuff belongs to us -- no one can "make" us angry (or sad, or hurt). It's not what happens to us that hurts us, it's what we *think* about what happens to us that hurts us. Owning this reality is powerful, and liberating. Clinging to the belief that others hurt us actually imprisons us, making us perpetual victims of the "stories we tell ourselves." We can heal what we own to be ours.

Let's keep in mind that transformation is a messy process ... we often look (& feel!) like we're falling apart, just when our lives are coming together. And what can feel like "backsliding" in the midst of this transformation journey is really just a return to aspects of ourself that need spiritual attention. The truth about us is constant -- it's our perception that changes. We can know that the journey has an appearance of three steps forward, and two steps back, meandering and stumbling into ditches ... we can prepare ourselves for this circuitous ambling, and thus not be shocked nor dismayed when it happens.

We can keep in mind that we all tell ourselves stories ... and what these stories mostly have in common is that they're not entirely true. Some of them aren't even remotely true..!

For instance, if we begin this journey with a lot of fear (I would be one of those!), then we imagine that God is far away. He's either abandoned us, or just isn't interested ... we pray to brass ceilings. Perhaps we tell ourselves that he's punishing us. We may feel isolated, from God and from others ... God will feel distant, harsh, and the universe is loaded against us. Conversely, God can be perceived as the punishing voice in our own mind ... the internal judge, the harsh taskmaster, the continually critical voice. We can tell ourselves that nothing we do is good enough... that we deserve to be punished due to our sins.

Fear must be confronted. The day will come when we will see that our fears are ALL self-created. We feel fear, and then we have to go looking for "proof" that our fears are warranted ... as a man thinks in his own heart, so is he -- we will find evidence that fears are real, without much trouble. We will interpret all that we see and experience through a fear-grid ... fear-colored glasses warp our perception, and taint our experiences. Free-floating anxiety can become the very background music of our lives.

But have you noticed how very many times the Scripture exhort us to "Be not afraid! Fear not! don't be afraid!" Is this too fool us, to catch us off-guard so that God can get us good...? I think not. I believe it emanates out of the very heart of God ... God who IS love ... perfect love which casts out all fear (including the fear of God). Fear is the beginning of wisdom - NOT the goal. The Kingdom of God (which is here, now, in our midst) contains only love. There is no room for fear in the Kingdom. Anything that falls short of the ideal of love has yet to be fully transformed -- what a marvelous indicator! What an amazing way to gauge what's motivating us! It all comes down to fear or love -- and we have a choice -- what a glorious gift and responsibility!

So, what would Jesus do if He were in our transformation-path-walking-shoes..?

He would keep on going on the path ... manifesting courage, truth, sympathy and love. He wouldn't pretend to be what He wasn't. He would face whatever came up, look it in the eye, and accept it for what it is ... and love it for what it *really* is. He would question and confront every notion that seeks to put up walls, barriers and "us vs. them" consciousness. He would consistently and insistently affirm that unity is the ultimate truth ... that we are One, and that we are here to experience who we are not, and to discover who we really are, as part of Him, following Him into all truth, as we can bear it.

May we bear it. And where we are not yet ready, may we no longer resist the very process that enables us to become ready.

Enjoy the journey!

Shalom, Dena

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Trouble with Transformations ~ Part Three Billion (OK, it just FEELS that way!) ~ Part VI)

Soooo, as I was saying, turmoil can actually be a positive sign, when one is in the process of transformation. When we allow the Light of God to shine in on all our dark nooks and crannies, we see the things we would rather avoid ... things we've likely spent a lifetime avoiding (and this would *not* be a good time to squint!). Looking at unflattering, even alarming, aspects of ourselves doesn't feel warm and fuzzy .. it's not peaceful nor calming. "Airing out" the subconscious mind ain't comfy nor pretty. The temptation to squash it all back down, forcing it into "submission" (& calling such denial "holy") can be a strong one.

Ask me how I know this ...! ;)

It's actually a cool and liberating thing to discover that our egos and personalities don't have to rule our lives. But getting there, as with most worthwhile things, is a process. Yeah, I know - another stinkin' process. Woo. Hoo.

Much of the turmoil we experience, while in the transformation process, is the kvetching and cavorting of the ego. It's sense of self-protection, of survival, is strong ... it's been king of the hill for so very long, backed up by the illusions of propaganda and group-think (for we have been in a contract with the ego since birth) ... and so it will send out red-flag signals that the journey into transformation will be a dangerous and disastrous one. We may be overcome with fear, crippled with doubts, second-guessing our insights, accusing ourselves of betraying all we've ever known ... even accusing the Voice of God within to be the "devil." Status quo always fights to the death, in order to resist its own extinction.

But, if we listen closely, deeply, there's a truer/realer Voice within ... the voice that emanates out of the spirit/Spirit intersection. It knows what's real - and it knows that destroying the ego and the personality are not the goal. Transformation is not a battle. God is not at war with man. He does not use psychological violence. How much violence is required to make the transition from a five year old to a six year old? We can trust in the process of transformation ... in fact, the more spontaneously it occurs, the more authentic it is.

Think of how a child develops ... they participate, actively, in every stage of growth, exploring the world around them, discovering what's harmful and what's helpful. In doing so, the child discovers their own amazing potential (as well as discovering what *not* to eat). We call a child who does not engage the process autistic. So too it can be with spiritual transformation (objects in mouth optional) ... if we resign ourselves to inertia and passivity, rather than actively engaging the process, we can also render ourselves "stuck."

It's no longer helpful for me to see this journey as akin to climbing a ladder ... of achieving heights, as this implies that I am "over" some, and "below" others. This perspective fosters a sort of competition that I find to be unhealthy, as well as being destructive to relationships ... in fact, it seems to be a projection of the ego, rather than of the spirit. Instead, I've come to prefer to see the journey as one that goes forward, on the path ... following Christ into Truth ... God as both the Guide and the Goal ... and yet, I've also come to see that the path is inward ... the Kingdom of God is in our midst (it "comes not by observation") - it is within us, and all around us ... spiritually perceived and experienced, rather than externally observed. And so the journey goes deeper into ourselves -- and in the paradox of finding God there, we also find our truest selves there. Sure, this can sound blasphemous, but I've noticed that all great truths are initially perceived as blasphemy. So be it. So get over it.

Now, we can't expect to leap there in one fell swoop of dramatic arrival. (PLOP! I is enlightened.) Nope. Not only would we not appreciate it, but we'd be quite insufferable to live with! What we get instead are glimpses of a deeper reality ... those "too good to be true" glimmers that make us sit up and take notice ... "could that be God?!?" "Is this safe?" "Is this real?"

Fortunately, because God is God, and God knows what-of we are made, and how-of we are stuck, God seems to enjoy giving us tangible/discernible indicators to let us know that transformation is indeed taking place. Whew! Yay, God! (The alternative would be to add to the canon of Scripture: "Transformation for Dummies," Books I through M, which wouldn't be an altogether bad idea, seeing as how we're so adept in the adventure of entirely missing the point, but it wouldn't sell, since so many folks think God quit speaking 2,000 years ago, but I digress... in the meanwhile, you can just read my blog, which is becoming quite Testament-like.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, those tangible/discernible indicators that something is actually happening.

Some of them would be pretty obvious -- a person previously consumed with fear may notice that fear is loosening it's slimy grip on their solar plexus. The concept of God's unconditional love may morph from a mere fundamentalist mantra into a pervasive cocoon of reality (and we eventually may notice that it extends to - and even fills! - the entire universe). We may find our existence altering from the daily grind to an amazing symphony of meaning ... wherein every previously-mundane activity is somehow infused with purpose (growth) and fulfillment (joy). We can find ourselves loving others -- not as just an academic concept, but in a way that floods us, even overwhelms us. Even those icky people (c'mon, admit you think some folks are icky -- confession is good for the soul!) can be seen afresh, through eyes of compassion.

But the ego cannot accomplish this manner of transformation. Of course it wants to, for it wants to earn accolades, but the best it can accomplish is a surfacey counterfeit. It will justify fear as "necessary" to be "in right relationship" with God. It will seek to convince us that God is both love and wrath -- and we'd better perform well to stay on the love-side. It will tell us that drudgery is good for "character building", and that we're really not meant to enjoy this life (more martyr-points if we suffer). It will assure us that there are some folks we can love (those who think like us), and other folks who must be corrected (all the rest), and that love is conditional (for it believes that God's love is likewise conditional).

As long as our loyalty is to our ego, transformation will be halted -- we can then find ourselves being tantalized by the prospect of liberation, but find ourselves incapable of walking out of our self-imposed prison.

"The most important activity of the mind isn't the war between good and evil. It's the sifting of real from unreal." (Deepak Chopra, "The Third Jesus" - yeah, I no longer fear finding truth in all the places where Jesus isn't "supposed" to be ... and it's amazing how often He shows up there!)

There's yet-more to explore about transformation ... I'd like to explore some of the reasons why we resist the Spirit's leading us into transformation ... and some practical things we can do to cooperate with the process.

Looks like there shall be a Part VI (sheesh, I was never good at Roman numerals ... I can only count so high!).

Shalom, Dena

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Trouble with Transformations ~ Part V

A funny thing happens on the way to transformation ... we start to see that transformation isn't a one-time watershed *event*, but is instead a *way of life*...!

Sneaky, huh?

I mean, we get lured into the process with pain (make. it. stop.) ... and we go through even *more* pain, and then we get resolution, and whew! We get to sit in the feeling of having arrived. Ahhhhh, the relief, the bliss, the joy! But wait ... what's this? Something is shifting again, something is looking like it doesn't belong in my carefully-re-arranged worldview...! Dang, I had it all nailed down so tidily and neatly, and I was just getting to enjoy dusting and polishing my newfound beliefs (like gleaming awareness-trophies on a shelf, behind glass), when wham-O! One of 'em falls off the shelf and shatters, and I can't find enough glue to get those little slivers back into cohesive shape again...! Oh sheesh, now what?!? God?!? Look what happened? The ground is trembling again, and everything's shaking again, and I need Your help! Huh..? What did You say? YOU're the one doing the shaking?!? No way! Way? Really? S~i~g~h ... You mean, one more time? More? You mean, this is a way of life...? Hoo-boy. Time to invest in shock-absorbers.

Ok, so maybe it's better that we don't know all of this up-front, y'know? Maybe it's best to discover this when we're already in, and committed, and there's really no going back. After all, who else has the words of eternal life? What alternative Source is out there...? After having a sneak-peek at my nefarious ego, do I really think it can fool me again ('cept it keeps on doing so, expert-masquerader that it is, lil' stinker!).

I'm no expert in transformation, but having gone around this oh-so-familiar rock a time or a hundred, I'm beginning to get some clues -- not that I'm brilliant or anything, but when you trip over the same awareness a dozen or so times (and then glare at it for daring to make you trip - c'mon, admit you do that too!), it starts to become familiar in that brick-upside-the-head subtle-kinda way ...

So here's what I'm starting to see (if I squint -- sometimes you can see through the veil better if you squint -- or at least squinting makes you appear to be a person of depth):

- I'm getting a hint that the physical realm is not THE truest reality ... and that my experience of it can be altered by my perception of it (who knew?).
- It seems that the truer/deeper reality cannot be grasped -- it's invivible and intangible.
- The battle in the mind seems to hinge on which prevails: insistance upon certaintude, or accpetance of ambiguity ...
- The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes ...
- Radical uncertainty is the door to true knowing ... (letting go of what we think we know, dying to the ego-self who thinks it knows everything).

And so it seems that I can either cooperate with my own (inevitable) transformation, or else I can resist the change, cling to the security of my certaintude, and thus get in the way of the transformation.

It seems that my most powerful tool of change lies within my beliefs and assumptions. I notice that I suffer due to what I mistakenly believe about myself, about God, about this world, about others. I believe lies. Of course, they *sound* like truth inside of my head, I've believed them *forever*, and I even go about seeking to prove that I'm right about what I mistakenly believe. I gather "evidence". My mind loves to say, "Aha! See? I was RIGHT!" Even if what I think I'm right about is causing me harm. Yeah, I'd rather be right than happy much of the time...! And when I cling to these beliefs, these hidden lies, I block myself from seeing reality.

But I notice that my mind creates both reality and illusion. While I have a choice about which to believe and hold, it's not always easy to discern which is which. What helps is to question the assumption that "it's important to find the right/correct view, and to defend it." If I discover that that's a false assumption (or at least a severely unhelpful assumption), then I make room for the possibility of considering other options. I needn't fear considering other options ... consideration doesn't require commitment. I can try them on for size, wear them a while, and see how they fit (there are no spiritual clothes-police). I see that I can accept that, as a human being, I'm continually in a state of flux. This isn't a flaw, but a gift -- the glory of being made in the likeness of the Creator.

And then a cool thing happens ... I start to notice that others are also in a state of flux ... in process, learning. I can let go of needing, or even wanting, them to be the way I think they "should" be (how the heck do *I* know how they should be?). I can enjoy them where they are (I'm still learning this -- it's not like I'm signing folks up for lessons or anything!). I notice that some folks move away from me, and others are drawn to me (or, we're drawn together, seeing the same Spirit clearly evidenced in each one). Out of this forms real community (which can never be forced nor manipulated). I notice some amazing shifts happening in this group-dynamic:

- Room is made for beliefs to be expressed and received ...
- Each of our minds rejects certain things, and embraces others ...
- We grow in a sense of shared inter-responsibility (mututal, not hierarchical)...
- We begin to experiment with a new vocabulary, as old terms bring unwanted baggage ...
- Relational bonding happens at the emotional level (rather than an intellectual decision) ...
- Connections are based upon a love of the Spirit, rather than conformity to rules and doctrine ...
- At an almost-too-subtle-to-detect level, spirits are aligned ...

So - what are some of the "signposts" that indicate our own transformation..?

- We begin to see God in everyone - albeit some easier than others (at first).
- We find a deeper sense of oommunity with our own family.
- We notice a greater sense of compassion (feeling *with*).
- We may be surprised to find that we can express love more freely.
- We notice that formerly negative thoughts are replaced with positive ones.
- We may notice our mind being less anxious, more calm.
- Our thoughts may become clearer, less fuzzy.
- We may notice that our former doubts have faced away (even if we can't "prove" what we now believe).
- Obsessions and compulsions may become less troublesome, or fade away completely.
- We may move beyond being haunted by past regrets.
- We tend to see life more interms of solutions, than of problems.
- We like ourselves (& don't feel guilty about it)!
- We may feel safe in the world, even if circumstances around us don't change.
- We may have a sense of "belongingness" ... isolation may evaporate.
- We may feel more peace - despite events.
- We may discover a sense of trust.
- We may sense a Presence in and around us - something larger than us that includes us.
- We may feel less driven, less needing to prove, to earn, to achieve, to acquire.
- We may notice that relationships flow more easily, with less misunderstanding.
- We may notice a lessening of being motivated by fear, anger, and doubt.
- We may have more of a sense of connectivity, than of separation.
- We may start being transparent -- speaking from the heart, without fear.
- We may notice that others listen, and pay attention.
- Our words may be less defensive, and we may feel the lack of a need to self-protect.
- We may find ourselves complaining and criticizing less.
- We may be startled to discover that we enjoy life!
- We may feel that who we are is enough.
- We may have moments of sacred communion ... a connection to the Presence of God.

Enjoy those moments, when you realize that you are indeed transforming, that it is indeed happening. Notice that you are not causing it, though you are capable of either cooperating with it or hindering it.

But also keep in mind that turmoil is a positive sign ... and since this is long enough (too long!), I'll save that for tomorrow...!

Shalom, Dena