A Reason to Smile

A Reason to Smile

Jesus is not a jerk; Or, the man, the myth, the legend

posted by B. Dave Walters

He's really not a bad guy, once you get to know him! Credit: Somewhere on google, long long ago (sorry)

“I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians.
Your Christians are so different from your Christ”
-Mahatma Gandhi

Imagine there was a great teacher.
A brilliant man who’s words move, touch, and inspire many who hear him.
A revolutionary who wasn’t afraid to confront the evils of his time, or stand up to worldly authorities, even if it cost him his life…which it did.

Now, imagine that after this man’s death, another man, who never even knew our Teacher, claims to have the ultimate insight into him and his teachings, and begins spreading this new word to new people.
And so, there is a split: between a traditional, almost political view; and a new evangelical religious view.
Now, the Teacher’s followers scatter to the wind.
They form their own communities, spreading stories about him by word of mouth for 50 to 100+ years, before anyone writes them down. And once they are written down, any new copies have to be copied by hand with no editing or oversight; any mistakes or willing changes are a part of the book from now on.

Then.
Imagine the oldest copies we have of any of these books, be they the political leaning or religious leaning versions of the Teacher, are from at least 175 years after his death. To give you a point of reference, this would be like the oldest existing copies of the Declaration of Independence being from 1950!

Finally,
Add 2,000 years of conflicts, revisions, reinterpretations, editing, murder and even wars meant to establish the ‘one true’ way of interpreting the Teacher’s words, that over time have crystallized into a near infinite number of competing ‘one true’ ways of understanding the man and his message.

That’s where we find ourselves when trying to understand the life and message of Jesus (the) Christ.

Our goal here, then, is not to try and establish yet another ‘one true’ way of viewing this man and his message, since history would indicate such a thing just isn’t possible.
Instead, our goal is to try and shine some light on some of his core teachings, for the good of all people everywhere, and not a narrow group of people who lay claim to him and his name; especially those who would try and use that teaching to justify discrimination, hatred, and intolerance.

31 ”What do members of this generation remind me of?
What are they like?
32 “They are like children sitting in the marketplace, calling out to one another:
‘We played the flute for you, but you wouldn’t dance;
we sang a dirge for you, but you wouldn’t weep.’
33 “Just remember, John the Baptist appeared on the scene, eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say , ‘He is demented.’.
34 The son of Adam appeared on the scene, both eating and drinking, and you say, ‘There is a glutton and a drunk, a crony of toll collectors and sinners!’
35 Indeed, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” 

Luke 7:31-35; (all verses from the ‘Scholars Version’ translation)

So, what do you take from this?
That John the Baptist was stern and direct; like he was singing dirges (sad songs) but no one wept (listened to him). Jesus, on the other hand, is like someone playing a flute asking people to dance, but they don’t listen to him either.
He is saying that one of the primary criticisms against him is that he drinks wine and hangs out with ‘sinners’…basically it sounds like he knows how to have a good time!
The same story is repeated in Matthew 11:16-19, so it stands to reason these things really happened; a fun loving Jesus is a big change from the version we hear about so often!

5 A sower went out to sow his seed; and while he was sowing, some seed fell along the path, and was trampled under foot, and the birds of the sky ate it up. 6 Other seed fell on the rock; when it grew, it withered because it lacked moisture. 7 Still other seed fell among thorns; the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8 Other seed fell on fertile earth; and when it matured, it produced fruit a hundredfold.
During his discourse, he would call out, “Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!”

Luke 8:5-8; compare with Mark 4:3-8 and Matthew 13:3-8.

Before we go on, what do you think this story means?
What do you think ‘anyone with two good ears better listen’ means?
In Matthew, Mark, and Luke (but not John), Jesus is shown teaching primarily through parables. Stories whos meaning became clear after intense thought and meditation.

9 His disciples asked him what this parable was all about. He replied, “you have been given the privilege of knowing the secrets of God’s imperial rule; but the rest get only parables so that
THEY MAY LOOK BUT NOT SEE,
LISTEN BUT NOT UNDERSTAND.
 (Capitalized because it’s important.)
11 “Now this is the interpretation of the parable. The ‘seed’ is God’s message. 12 Those ‘along the path’ are those who have listened to it, but then the devil comes and steals the message from their hearts, so they won’t trust and be saved. 13 Those ‘on the rock’ are those who, when they listen to the message, receive it happily. But they ‘have no root’” they trust for the moment but fall away when they are tested. What ‘fell into the thorns’ represents those who listen, but as they continue on, they are ‘choked’ by the worries and wealth and pleasures of life, and they do not come to maturity. 15 But the seed ‘in good earth’ stands for those who listen to the message and hold on to it with a good and fertile heart, and ‘produce fruit’ through perseverance.” 
Luke 8:9-15; compare with Mark 4:13-20, Matthew 13:18-23

So…is that what you thought the story meant?

This ‘parable of the sower’ is important for many reasons:
one, it highlights that Jesus himself consciously taught in a way that would go over the heads of lazy people. Anyone who wanted to be spoon fed the truth had come to the wrong teacher! Even in his lifetime, his teachings were meant to be challenging and inspire thought, rather than blind literal acceptance.
Then there is the fact that there is a variety of ways in a person can ‘get the message’ that may or may not last, and that people can lose their way for a variety of reasons; this is a powerful call for all of us to constantly examine and reexamine ourselves to see ‘where our seed is growing’.
And finally, as pivotal a story as this is, it doesn’t appear at all in the Gospel of John; one of many examples of the widely diverging nature of the Gospels themselves.

27 “But to you who listen, I say, love your enemies, do favors for those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for your abusers.
35b Your reward will be great, and you’ll be children of the Most High.
As you know, the Most High is generous to the ungrateful and the wicked.

32 If you love those who love you, what merit is there in that? After all, even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what merit is there in that?

After all, even sinners do as much.

34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to gain, what merit is there in that?
Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to get as much in return. 35(a) But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.
36 Be compassionate in the way your Father is compassionate.”
Luke 6:27-28, 32-36; compare with Matthew 5:43-48

Again, the core of the Teacher’s message is love, unconditional love.
To do for others who can’t do for themselves, and who maybe even don’t deserve it; because it is *the right thing to do *.

Imagine what this world would be like, if the last 2,000 years had been spent spreading the Gospel of Love rather than the strict word of the gospels?

Imagine what this would could be like if we started focusing on love and service now, rather than petty, unprovable, and ultimately irrelevant theological debates?

Maybe that is the real Kingdom of Heaven on earth so many people claim to be waiting for; wouldn’t that be a sight!

You are great, and I love you!

And if you love me back, click ‘share’ up at the top!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  — Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism — Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another —  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

       

God is not a jerk; Or, to hell with you (?)

posted by B. Dave Walters

Dante described hell as being infinitely cold; that's the Devil there in the background....

If you are a fellow Christian, was raised Christian, or know any Christians, you may have heard something that sounds a bit like this:
“If you don’t believe that Jesus Christ was the one and only Son of God, and accept him as your personal Lord and Savior, than you’ll go to hell and suffer for all eternity”.
Or, you may have been told all sorts of things can land you in the Lake of Fire, including (but not limited to): being gaymasturbation or pornography, and countless other things.
I’ve even heard of women being told that certain hair styles would get them sent to hell!

It goes without saying, that many other, if not most all religions have some idea of ‘hell’, but Christianity and Islam tend to make the biggest deal about it. Something even more incomprehensible, is how some Christians and Muslims even seem to be *happy * about the idea that some other human beings will suffer for all eternity.

How does that work????

Before we proceed, here’s a simple question:
If you have children, or even pets, and they make a mistake, even a big mistake, like burn your entire house down, you’d be mad at them, right?
You’d probably punish them, maybe harshly; but would you want them to suffer for the rest of their lives for their mistake?
Would you put a toddler in prison for life for what they’d done wrong?
Put a pin in that, we’ll come back to it later.

So let us look at this idea: is there a hell at all, and what does it take to be sent there?
Looking at this from a Christian perspective, there are numerous mentions of hell throughout the Bible; sometimes as a place as eternal torment, and sometimes simply as a non-specific afterlife. In fact, Judaism doesn’t have much of an emphasis on hell; and purgatory doesn’t seem to have any sort of Biblical basis at all.

The standard belief goes something like this:
1. God is God, so God gets to make the rules.
2. The rules are connected to reward for the obedient, and punishment for the disobedient.
3.It’s obvious that in life not everyone gets what they deserve,
4.Therefore there must be another world where they do.
5.If there is no reward or punishment in the future, then God’s law must not be fair.
6.The Bible talks about reward and punishment in the future.
7.We can’t know anything about what’s going to happen, except what the Bible says.
So far, so good; it’s the next few ideas where things become problematic:
8.Since God can’t be around anything ‘unholy’, then there must be a place where everything unholy ends up.
9.It’s good for the ‘holy’ people, so they don’t have to spend eternity with unholy people, like being in prison with a bunch of criminals
10.It’s good for the unholy, even, since it means they can’t spend all eternity in rebellion against God.

We’ve talked before about what God is like, and what God wants you to know, so no need to recap that here. For our purposes, we will assume God is:
All knowing
All Powerful
All Present
All Loving
These are characteristics that most people who believe in a ‘God’ as such all probably agree on.

Remember when I asked you about the eternal punishment for children?
I assume if you’re like most people, you probably said ‘no’, children shouldn’t suffer for their entire lives for mistakes.

Now, if we are accepting that God is all knowing, AND all loving, then how can we be punished for all eternity for our own ‘childish’ mistakes?
We have spoken of the ‘problem of evil’ before, but if God knows in advance what is going to happen in our lives, that we’ll have our 50, 70, or 100 years on Earth and then endless eternity to suffer, then in many ways we were created TO suffer.
And that doesn’t sound very loving, does it?

Consider, our Divine Father (and/or Mother) would know everything about us, what we meant to do, what forces were at work, what conditions were in place when we made every single decision we made. Truly, S/He would be in a position of infinite compassion, just like a mortal parent.

Unless you believe that a Human Being, fallible and flawed, is capable of greater forgiveness than the Creator of all things?

So, this means there is no hell, right?
Not quite.

Again, the Bible and other scriptures of the world are quite clear on negative consequences for a negative life, so by extension there must be some truth to it.

The difference is: it *cannot * be a permanent state, for the reasons given: infinite punishment for finite sins. Logically, assuming ANYTHING happens after we die, and characteristics we gave God above are true, then being sent to hell must be like being sent to prison; a temporary state rather than eternal one. It must be that after some point, we’d be able to get out, be it to come back to the Earth for another life, or to move on to be with God in heaven.

Anything less than this, would make God not only a jerk but a tyrant.

The counter argument is always posed, “but the Bible gives instructions how to avoid this; if we choose not to, we bring this punishment on ourselves”.

Except.

That fails to take history into account; events don’t happen in a vacuum.
For instance, the millions Native Americans that were slaughtered in North and South America, probably weren’t too keen on Christianity. Would our all-loving God say to them “I understand that you saw these people rape, pillage, and kill everyone you ever loved; but they were Christians and you weren’t, so you go to hell and they don’t”.

This seems unlikely at best.

What seems FAR more likely, is in the earliest days of the Church, right up to the present, there were people who’s primary concern was not in ‘saving souls’, but in controlling people.

And what better way to control a flock, then by threatening eternal torment for disobedience?

It’s no coincidence that the collection plate tends to come around right after the hellfire and damnation speeches.

The most important thing is, what would you rather have: people who listen and follow you because they love you, or listen and follow you because they are terrified?
Do you think God will reward those who loved and served God and their fellow wo/man out of genuine compassion and caring, or out of seeking to get a ‘get out of jail free’ card?

Do you really believe that God is so easily fooled that someone who said a few words and got their head dunked under water gets an eternity of relaxation, where people who dedicate their lives to service in the name of some other Faith get eternal torment?

There is one, and only one way to guarantee a positive outcome in the next life, and that is to make the most of this one.
Love God, love yourself, and love one another, and when you meet your judgment you won’t have anything to worry about.

You are great, and I love you!

And if you love me back, click ‘share’ up at the top!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  — Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism — Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another —  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

       

 

The top 8 things God wants you to know

posted by B. Dave Walters

 

He gave you a mind to make your own choices...see the brain behind Him?

1.God loves you.
It has become very popular lately to make God out to be some sort of vengeful tyrant, angrily threatening to destroy whoever has offended Him today.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
You can be sure that if an All-Powerful God wanted someone destroyed, they would be destroyed. More importantly, how can an All-Knowing God, who knows your every thought, your every wish, everything that has ever happened to you and ever *will * happen to you be offended by anything?
What is far more likely is the people trying to convince you of God’s angry judgment want you to fear *their * judgment, and more importantly adapt their way of thinking and do what they tell you to do.
Beware the difference between the Will of God and the will of men.

2.You are important.
Did you know you only had a one in 300 million chance of ever being born? That is how many sperm cells were vying to fertilize the egg cell when you were conceived. Multiply that times all the things that could have stopped you while you were still in the womb, or all the things accidents, illnesses, and other things you’ve dodged to survive until now. Then, multiply that times the lives of your parents, and their parents, and their parents, back for generations and you have nearly impossible odds of you ever existing.
And yet here you are.
You are not an accident, you are a cosmic miracle; as rare, unique, and precious a thing as you can find anywhere in all of Creation.
Be proud of that.

3.People are doing the best that they can.
If, then, God knows all about us, then God knows we are doing the best that we can. People make flawed choices and make wrong moves on a daily basis, but no one is really TRYING to do the wrong thing. Even people who *seem * to be doing the wrong thing on purpose are doing it out of some deeper motivation, be it a plea for attention, help, or even love.
As such, no one is out to ‘get you'; they are acting out of their own past hopes, dreams, fears, and baggage.
No one sets out to fail, or to disappoint others, it just happens as a result of our choices; and it’s possible to start making new choices at any time.
Once you are aware there are no bad people, only bad choices, Life becomes much easier to deal with.

4.Forgive one another,
Whoever they are, whatever they did, forgive them. Chances are they didn’t do it on purpose, and even if they did: holding on to the negativity and anger is hurting *you *, not them.
How can you expect God to forgive you if you don’t forgive the people who harm you?

5.Learn how to let go.
It has been said that ‘attachment is the root of all suffering’ and this is true.
It is not what happens to us in life, but how we react to it that makes us happy or sad. Here is ashort parable that will explain this point:
A MAN had two daughters, the one married to a gardener, and the
other to a tile-maker. After a time he went to the daughter who
had married the gardener, and inquired how she was and how all
things went with her. She said, “All things are prospering with
me, and I have only one wish, that there may be a heavy fall of
rain, in order that the plants may be well watered.” Not long
after, he went to the daughter who had married the tile maker, and
likewise inquired of her how she fared; she replied, “I want for
nothing, and have only one wish, that the dry weather may
continue, and the sun shine hot and bright, so that the bricks
might be dried.” He said to her, “If your sister wishes for rain,
and you for dry weather, with which of the two am I to join my
wishes?’

6.Love one another.
It isn’t enough not to carry grudges, although this is certainly the beginning.
You must Love One Another, truly. All Human action is designed to gain pleasure and avoid pain; and deep down inside everyone wants to feel loved, and feel important. This is a gift you can give to everyone you meet, freely and openly. Not unlike you can’t expect to be forgiven without forgiving others, you can’t expect to be loved without giving love, first.
There is no limit in the amount of love you can give to your fellow Human Beings. Once you realize that they are trying as hard as they can, and give up your own selfish attachments to how, and even if they should show love back to you, then you are free to be a living expression of God’s Love for the world and everyone and everything in it.

7.No one has all the answers.
Often times people are tempted to believe that their beliefs are the only ‘correct’ beliefs. The reality is, there are no beliefs that are 100% true all the time in all places; to believe such is only deluding yourself.
If there was only one correct way of life, then everyone in the world would live it! Not unlike everyone seems to be rather fond of air, food, and water, this ‘single correct way’ would be inescapable, and anyone who saw it would adopt it instantly.
Clearly no such thing exists.
The key, then, is to find what works for you. Find a system of belief and world view that make life make sense TO YOU. That make life meaningful and enjoyable TO YOU. It is neither your job, nor your place to criticize the path that others walk through this life; no one has all the answers, and that includes you.
Insisting that you know the one and only truth is usually an indicator of insecurity, not of greater confidence.

8.Your life is in your hands.
Where you go, what you do, and what you become is totally in your hands.
This is the greatest time in history to be alive, you have more knowledge and opportunities at your finger tips than anyone ever has; it is up to YOU to take advantage of what’s available.
You have all the power in the Universe at your disposal, and the dreams that have been placed in your heart wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t possible for you to achieve them.
There are no limitations, and no victims: it’s up to you to create what you want.

You are great, and I love you!

And if you love me back, click ‘share’ up at the top!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  — Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism — Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another —  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

       

Why God sends you problems; Or, Let the Haters hate

posted by B. Dave Walters

The Codfish/Catfish Story
I heard this story on the radio today, and was able to find it online here.  I loved it so much I wanted to share it with you:

“Codfish is a big business. The market is huge. When codfish were first being shipped, they froze them. They noticed that the flavor was lost during shipping. Somebody came up with the idea to put them in tanks and ship them in actual seawater. Even then the codfish would arrive at the market 3 or 4 days later, and would have lost much of their flavor because they were not active enough in the tank. They had a kind of mushy texture.

Finally, they learned to ship the codfish with a couple of catfish in the tank with them. The catfish is the natural enemy of codfish. During shipping the catfish would chase the codfish all around the tank the whole time, and when they got to the place where they were going, the codfish tasted like you just pulled them out of the sea. Their texture was great; their taste was even better than before.

See God knows that we are codfish in a catfish world. God allows all things, even catfish type things to help us grow strong and if He kept us from those things, we wouldn’t grow into all we can be. Jesus himself said, “In this world you are going to have struggles. You are going to have troubles, tribulations, but be of good courage.”

You are great, and I love you!

And if you love me back, click ‘share’ up at the top!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  — Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism — Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another —  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

No more worry, Or, letting go and letting God

posted by B. Dave Walters

We've got to start somewhere =)

“We hope vaguely, but dread precisely.”
Paul Valéry

Really, worry is more than a habit, it is an addiction. If you don’t know how we can get addicted to emotions, I HIGHLY recommend you watch ‘What The Bleep Do We Know; you can see it for free here (you’ll need to download their player first, but it’s free as well).

If you consider yourself to be a person of faith, then please recognize that you can have faith, OR you can worry, but not both. When you worry, you are telling God and / or the Universe that they can’t handle your situation, so you need to come up with an answer. When the dust settles, you either trust God *completely* to provide your needs, or not at all.

If you are not a person of faith, then even then you should know that worry won’t affect the outcome of the situation, and that makes it even more pointless to torture yourself for nothing!

Worry is just another, and more insidious form of fear . When confronted with the unknown, and all the infinite wonderful possibilities, it is all too easy to pick out the worst possible one and fixate on that.

See, the Law of Attraction teaches us that whatever we focus on, we attract. So if you are focused on negative things with emotional intensity (like worrying) then you are actually bringing all those negative things into your life that much faster.

And even worse, as I said in my article on Pessimism  it leaves you feeling bad RIGHT NOW, even before the ‘bad’ situation has taken place!

I want to invite you to look at things in a new light, to develop a ‘positive paranoia’. Start to believe that God and the Universe are on your side and that everything in Creation is conspiring to make you happy. If this is too much of a stretch, than at least resolve to give up worry once and for all, since it will truly never accomplish anything.

Know what you want, focus on the goal, and keep moving forward.

Resolve to put all that negativity behind you, and move forward with bold confidence to the BEST 2012 you can possibly have.

You are great, and I love you!

And if you love me back, click ‘share’ up at the top!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  — Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism — Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another —  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

Beating pessimism, Or, always look on the bright side of life

posted by B. Dave Walters

Which one is it? Or is it actually both?

“A pessimist is one who feels bad when he feels good for fear he’ll feel worse when he feels better.” – Anonymous

A friend of mine asked me to help her beat her pessimism, so I decided to dedicate today’s article to the topic.

So first, what is a pessimist? For our purposes, a pessimist is someone who assumes the worst more often than not, if not all the time. Often times pessimists like to call themselves “realists”, but this is a facade; a realist would at least consider something good happening as being equally likely as something bad happening.

Pessimists are also often cynics, in that cynics assume the worst in people’s motivations, but pessimism and cynicism aren’t exactly the same thing.

The polar opposite of each of these is of course optimism, which assumes the best in all situations. Obviously each of us is an optimist sometimes and a pessimist or cynic other times, but we tend to have leanings that color our interactions with the world.

So, what’s wrong with being a pessimist?
Well, I would submit that if it’s working for you, and you’re happy with the results you’re getting, then keep at it! But, if you have a fundamentally negative outlook (like pessimism) I find it unlikely you’re experiencing consistent daily happiness and peace, so a change may be in order.

So, why do pessimists expect the worst?
The problem is, pessimism is just another, more insidious form of Fear.
The pessimist is afraid things will go poorly, and tries to take control of the situation by ‘expecting’ it, but it really doesn’t help at all. The pessimist would say they expect the worst so that they aren’t let down when the worst happens, which seems valid enough.
But, have you ever seen a pessimist who was in any way happy or relieved when bad things happened like they expected?

Probably not.

In fact, this is the true danger of a pessimistic outlook: when you expect the worst, you are suffering the negative feelings of disappointment * in advance*. And when something GOOD happens, you often miss the positive feelings, for fear that the other shoe will drop and something else worse is going to happen.
So it very quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of disappointment, regardless of what ACTUALLY happens!

Compare this with the optimist, who expects something good to happen and feels good in advance; even when faced with difficulty, they still feel happy since they expect something else good is on the way!

So here is the question.
Which would you rather be: feeling bad all the time, no matter what, or feeling good all the time, no matter what?

Exactly.

And, if you think it’s impossible, or even naïve to have a consistently positive outlook, it just means you’ve gone so far into negativity that you’re no longer aware of all the great things happening around you all the time. But don’t worry, there’s still hope for you yet!

One other thing: how do you decide what is something ‘good’ happening, or something ‘bad’ happening? Well, the good news and the bad news is, it’s all up to you!
Whether or not something is good or bad can only be answered by asking, “compared to what”? Here’s an example: if you work up tomorrow with a billion dollars, that would probably be pretty good, right? Consider that Bill Gates or Warren Buffet would probably go crazy if they woke up tomorrow with * only* a billion dollars!

So, how do you become a optimist, or at least a 50/50 realist?
First, ask yourself what is it you’re trying to avoid by being pessimistic? And, is it working for you? Do you really feel like expecting the worst has protected you from anything?

And, what exactly is it that you’re trying to protect yourself from?
Feeling bad? Aren’t you already feeling bad now when you are worried or anxious about what the future holds?

Ask yourself: what would it be worth to you to be able to give up worry and anxiety?

Name something you want to try, or an opportunity you missed in the past because you were afraid of failing. What could you accomplish if you weren’t afraid of the outcome?

Name 3 things in your life that you are thankful for; if you can’t think of anything, here are some ideas. This list should show you that not EVERYTHING in your life is terrible; and if anything is going well, you can reasonably expect other things to go well, too.

Think of something you’re worried about right now: what can you do or what action can you take to try and steer it in a positive direction?

And finally, the best way to beat your pessimism is the next time you feel your thoughts moving in that direction, use the technique I explained here to get your mind focused back on the positive.

So, there you have it.
And by the way, I am all too aware of the fact that life can be filled with tragedy; I was a bodyguard and worked in the insurance business; I am intimately aware of how quickly things can go wrong. But I also realize that for everything that goes wrong, WAY more things go right ! For instance, you can turn on the news and hear horrible things like people dying in a plane crash, or in an accident of some sort. But that at the same time, that also means that hundreds of thousands of people flew unharmed; and * billions* of people went through their daily lives unscathed. Don’t put too much stock in what you see and hear in the media; there is big money in keeping you bound by constant state of fear.

I hope you see now that pessimism is a form of defense mechanism that actually brings negative things into your life, rather than avoid them. If you start to consciously choose to expect the best, or at least NOT expect the worst, you’ll find your life quickly changing for the better.

Remember: the Law of Attraction is always in effect!

You are great, and I love you!

And if you love me back, click ‘share’ up at the top!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  — Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism — Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another —  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

Breaking the prison of fear Or, how to be happy all the time (VIDEO)

posted by B. Dave Walters

The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893

“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” -Fulton Oursler

Is there anything you want to do, but just don’t?
Is there anything you know you NEED to do, but just don’t?
Is there anything you wish you could change about yourself?
In dealing with my Coaching  clients, I find 99% of problems are rooted in fear.
Now, even if it were possible, you wouldn’t want to be *completely* fearless, since it serves a very useful purpose as an early warning system, but fear has just too much control over things in most people’s lives.
If you think about it, fear is at the core of most, if not all negative emotions.
Negative emotions are largely rooted in an underlying fear of the unknown, a fear of what other people might say or do, and a need to control them or stop them from hurting you.
This is especially true of people who have unresolved traumas in their past.  Perhaps you know someone who had a parent leave or pass away when they were very young, and now that person has trouble having intimate relationships, since they are subconsciously afraid that person will leave them.
Or someone who had their trust violated by someone in the past, and now they can’t completely trust another human being, out of fear of getting hurt.
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Or maybe you know someone who is afraid to let go of a bad relationship, because they are afraid they’ll be alone for the rest of their life.
One of the reasons for the fanatical attitudes we discussed before is a fear of uncertainty; someone who is insecure is threatened by the beliefs and opinions of others, since it causes them to question their own positions and that is unbearable.  Better to try and stomp them out then risk too much introspection.
So, what is fear, and how do you control it?
The most important thing is, fear only exists in one place: the future.  You can only be afraid of something that hasn’t happened yet.  Let’s take an extreme example: you’re walking through a dark alley, and you’re afraid someone is going to mug you, which hasn’t happened yet.  A man steps out of the shadows, and has a weapon; you may be shocked or angry about getting mugged, but the *fear* has now transferred to being afraid he is going to hurt you with the weapon.  Even if the man takes your wallet and leaves you unharmed, now the fear is transferred to what he might do with your credit cards and ID, which as of now still hasn’t happened.
I think you get the point; as I said: it was an extreme example.  The fact is, you can only be afraid of what hasn’t happened yet; once it occurs, you can have lots of other emotional reactions, but fear won’t be one of them.
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 As for how to control it, there are several tools I use depending on the situation; if you have a specific question you can send it to me here  and I’ll give you some steps to take.
In the meantime, here is a very simple and effective tool you can use to change your emotional state:
Think of something that makes you very happy, imagine it in as much detail as you can.  Is it a memory, or a fantasy? Where are you, who is with you? What are you wearing, what is the temperature like? What sounds do you hear, what can you see?
Really make the image come to life in your mind…I’ll wait here while you do.
Did you do it?
Do you find yourself feeling pretty good all of the sudden?
If you took the time to imagine it, you should be feeling that tingle in your tummy.  This is a very easy example of how you can alter your emotions whenever you want; you can turn any feeling on and off by visualizing the time you felt that feeling the strongest in as much clarity and detail as you can.
I want to leave you with an unusual question: who are You?
What went through your mind when you read that, was it your name?  If so, that’s not who You are: it’s what you’re called.
Maybe it was your job? But that’s not You either, it’s what you do.
Your Religion? Again, not You…it’s what you believe.
You’re not your race, gender, Nationality, none of those.
So who are You?
Once you figure that out, you’ll never be worried or afraid of anything ever again.  If you know, email it to me or put it in the comments down below.  And this isn’t some sort of riddle, there is a definite answer.  I’ll leave you with a hint: figure out who you’re *not*, and that will point you towards the answer.

You are great, and I love you!

And if you love me back, click ‘share’ up at the top!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  — Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism — Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another —  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

Higher Truths; Or, digital spirituality II

posted by B. Dave Walters

The Truth is all around you, you just have to know how to see it....

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
-Buddha (Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

The purpose of these articles was never to attempt to convert anyone into a new way of thinking or belief; but to challenge people’s assumptions.
Since, the reality is, many of us go through life believing the same things that we were spoon fed as children, without ever taking the time to truly THINK about what we believe; to wrestle with the mysteries of the Universe and come out stronger for it.

The purpose of this article, then, is to present some new ideas for you to try on, and see if they make sense to you, and your world view. Feel free to accept or reject any of them, with one condition: you are clear on * why * you feel this way. Various teachers and scriptures can guide you along the way, but in the end, we must each walk the path alone.

So please consider, pray, and meditate on, and by all means enjoy these ideas, and become a better person for it.

1. No one KNOWS where we come from, or knows what happens when we die.
Passionate belief is not the same as empirical knowledge.

2. Since we do not, and can not, know for certain, all we are left with are our own opinions, and what we choose to believe.

3. The ultimate answers to the questions of life can only be found within (Gnosis); God exists at all time and all places, and takes an active hand in the Universe (Theism).

4. “As above, so below; as within, so without.” Everything that exists outside of us exists inside of us, too.

5. Knowledge of yourself leads to love of yourself; love of yourself leads to love of others.

6. There is no nobility in ignorance, and no greater task in life than working towards learning about and connecting with the Creator of all things.

7.Science and religion do not stand in opposition to one another,  they simply serve different purposes.

8. The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path provide a keen insight into why we suffer, and how to end the suffering.

9. The religions of the world agree on far more points than they disagree; confusion only arises when people claim their truth is the ‘only’ truth.
There is no ‘only’ truth! Our most closely held beliefs would probably be radically different if we’d been born in another place or time.

10.The Bible, the Koran, Bhagavad Gita, and any other scriptures are useful tools towards explaining the Universe and our place in it; but there is no wholly Divine or infallible scriptures. If it was written by human hands, it is flawed.

You are great, and I love you!

And if you love me back, click ‘share’ up at the top!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  — Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism — Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another —  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

Why God, Why; Or, Letting Go II (VIDEO)

posted by B. Dave Walters

You have to let go!

The Root of pain is Attachment; this is the second Noble Truth.
-Buddha

As I have mentioned in the past, Los Angeles has quite a few bitter, unhappy people in it. Because for whatever reason, their goals have not manifested in the time and way that they would like.
And along with an understandable sense of disappointment, comes an inevitable desire to know ‘why’. Why did this happen, or why didn’t?
Why has God / the Universe abandoned them?

But the fact of the matter is, no such thing has happened.
I wrote previously about how to let go of your attachments, and the video below gives you many more tools on how to know what you need to release, and how to do it.
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So for this article, I’d like to talk more about how we form our attachments, how to make new and better decisions that will serve you, rather than work against you.

I wrote previously about how to be committed without being attached and that is an important idea to keep in mind; that it isn’t necessary to go through life as a door mat, nor is it necessary to go through life as a control freak, either.

The key, then, is to be consciously aware of two very important things:
what are you committed to, and what are you attached to.

Let me explain the difference again: commitment is wanting to have a nice meal; attachment is refusing to eat anywhere but a single restaurant you have decided on. Commitment is choosing to spend your life with someone; attachment is refusing to let go of a bad situation because you’re afraid you can’t do any better.

Here is a very simple test as to whether you are committed to something or attached: how do you feel about it?

If it makes you feel good, and you know it is going to work out for the best, then congratulations: you are committed!
But…if it feels bad, or you are filled with fear about what might happen, then you are attached.

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So, then, how do you go about converting your unhealthy attachments, which can ONLY cause you pain, into healthy commitments, which make life uplifting and enjoyable?

First and foremost: trust.
Trust God, trust the Universe, trust life, and above all else, trust people.
Trust that things are going to work out the best that they can.
Note, I didn’t say they will work out how YOU want them to, I said for the *best *.

I’ve said before, you can worry or you can have faith, but not both; when you worry you are telling God / the Universe that they can’t handle it, so you have to. The fact of the matter is you trust God COMPLETELY, or not at all.

Once you start to believe and accept the Universe is on your side, then it becomes easier to remain cheerful and positive no matter what, and because of that you can start attracting better and better things into your life.

I’m going to cut this one short to give you a chance to watch the video below, or read what I already wrote about a step by step process for releasing your attachments.

You are great, and I love you!
And if you love me back, click subscribe over on the right hand side!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  — Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism — Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another —  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

The Heart Vs. The Mind; Or, Science And Its Darker Twin

posted by B. Dave Walters

There are different ways to look at things

There have been a handful of times in my life when I felt like certain things were ‘given’ to me by a higher power, and all I had to do was get it out and written down.

This is one of those pieces.

I originally ‘received’ this, right after my ‘Gnostic Theism; Or, Digital Spirituality‘ article:

The reason why I write this blog is to help people make sense of the world, and all the things that take place day to day.

Now more than ever, we are being pulled in different directions and taught conflicting things, and it can easily put us in a position of having to choose between our heart and our mind, or rather whether or not we want to be ‘logical’ or ‘spiritual’, religious or scientific.

I suggest, you don’t have to choose between the two.

Before we can get into it, we need to clarify an important difference between science and religion: science is king, where it applies; religion is king, where it applies.  Science can tell us how, Religion can tell us why.  Unfortunately those lines have become blurred, giving rise to Science’s darker twin: Scientism.  Using science in an attempt to disprove the existence of God is like trying to use a knowledge of music to disprove the existence of Beethoven…it can’t be done.  By the same token, using Scripture to try and disprove empirical realities is just as pointless, but we’ll talk about that on another day.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines Science as:

1. The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation,   and theoretical explanation of phenomena.

2.     Such activities restricted to a class of natural phenomena.

3.Such activities applied to an object of inquiry or study.

It also defines Scientism as:

1. The collection of attitudes and practices considered typical of scientists.

2.The belief that the investigative methods of the physical sciences are applicable or justifiable in all fields of inquiry.

Now this seems harmless enough on the surface.

And, while science has unquestionably lead to many advances that have improved modern life,  it has also given rise to an increasingly more sanitized and lifeless existence.

An easy example is it has come into vogue for anyone of a scientific mind to be an atheist, and outright reject anything that can’t be perceived in a laboratory setting.  They will say that believing human beings were sculpted out of clay and life was breathed into them is an ignorant superstition (and, we are not arguing for its literal truth either).  And yet, in the same breath they will try and convince you that life began on this planet when a bolt of lightening hit a puddle of chemicals at some point in the distant past.

And that is presented as the ‘logical alternative’.

Now, some adherents of Scientism will make the argument that life was seeded here (by chance, of course) by meteors from other planets, but even that explanation does not provide an answer for the riddle of life, it simply pushes the question  further back into time.

Or, for the hotly debated Theory of Evolution, it is not so much an issue of it being right or wrong, but being highly over-stated.  Aspects of it can be easily observed, such as Micro-Evolution and Natural Selection: the process by which a bird’s beak adapts to eat a certain kind of seed, or where a species of moth with superior camouflage will outlast a species with no camouflage at all.

The problem is with Macro-Evolution, which explains how one species becomes a whole new species.  The problem is, there is no hard evidence that this process occurs.  It is supposed to be a constant process of tiny changes, but if that were the case, any and all fossils should show some signs of modification, but they don’t.  And if a creature were to spontaneously mutate into an entirely new species, it would be faced with an immediate breeding problem since it would be the only one!  The wild card variable they will plead is ‘time'; that it simply takes too long for us to observe a supposedly constantly occurring process.  But even then, populations like fruit flies or certain types of bacteria can move through an entire generation in days or even hours, and have been under constant observation in laboratories, all over the world for decades.   And though some changes may be identified, they are still fruit flies or bacteria.

And the biggest problem is the theory in it’s current state stands in opposition to two fundamental laws of science: The Second Law of Thermo Dynamics, which says if left to their own devices things break down rather than become more complex, and the Law of Biogenesis, which says life can only come from life; it is flatly impossible for something inanimate to come to life.

Now I will issue the disclaimer that standard Evolutionary Theory doesn’t deal with the origins of life, but in this day and age they are often lumped together.

It is not our purpose to debunk Evolutionary Theory, but to point out it’s holes in the hope that they can be filled.  It may well be that the mechanism by which species arrive on this planet can be fully understood, but it won’t happen until the scientific establishment can put aside their own ego, vanity, and desire to protect their pet theories and misconceptions and dedicate themselves to a full and accurate comprehension of the natural world.

The point is, the issue is not so simple as Jesus vs. Darwin, not by a long shot.  The world is full of wonders, some that can be explained in ‘rational’ terms, and some that can only be dealt with intuitively.  It’s up to all of us to be aware of the fact that we were given a heart and a brain for a reason, and to make good use of both!

You are great, and I love you!
And if you love me back, click subscribe over on the right hand side!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  — Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism — Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another —  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

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