Your Best Life Now

Your Best Life Now

Who I Am Naturally!…

posted by smcswain

Here’s a thought for consideration on this bright new April morning in spring.

In Harvey Cox’s book The Future of Faith, he references a statement to this effect:

“If we love God, even if we think God might not exist, God will make herself manifest to us.”

Love and faith are primordial…or, you might even say, the capacity to love and to believe are written into the genetic code of your DNA. In traditional religious language, we would call this an act of “Divine grace.” God has gifted you and me – naturally – no effort of our own – to love and to believe.

The history of Christianity is not a history of “beliefs.” To be sure, creeds developed, as any history buff knows. But, Christianity is really more a history of faith…a history of a people who questioned, rejected, and sometimes recreated their beliefs.

I would maintain, it is far more important that you and I be the people we are naturally – people of faith. Isn’t that far more important than you becoming a follower of “my beliefs” or “our beliefs” which are really just “our opinions?”

You will hear religious people say, and say often – and, the more threatened they are, the louder and more insistent they will often become – but, you’ll hear them say, “This isn’t what I just believe or we just believe…we believe what the Bible says,” or “I just believe the Bible” many of them are not aware, what they are really saying is, “This is our opinion as to what the Bible is saying. However, we know that equally faithful, believing people believe the Bible is saying something altogether different.”

A person of “beliefs” or, more accurately, “opinions” will leave little room for a differing opinion.

A person of “faith,” on the other hand, may have a belief…an opinion, even one held strongly, but he or she will always be open to a differing opinion, belief, or understanding.

Now, you tell me, which is it more important that you be?
The person you are – a person of faith? Or, a person other equally frightened and threatened people say you should be – “one of us…believing like us?”

I hardly perfect at my profession, but I think you know which of the two I wish to be – and that is who I am NATURALLY.

This is Your Best Life Now!

The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God – Video Blog # 2

posted by smcswain

Can I know God? Check this out and see for yourself…

The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God – Video Blog # 1

posted by smcswain

These are a series of video blogs I am producing to introduce you to what I call “the sacred art of knowing God.” I hope you find them useful on your spiritual path.

The Real Meaning of Easter! Consider this…

posted by smcswain

When you pretend to believe things you really no longer believe and you do so…

…Just to please those whose friendships you’re afraid you might lose; or, because…

…You fear their judgments of your admission or, worse…

…The thought of their rejection of you is too painful to bear…

Know this, my friend, you have severed your connection to your authentic self – which, coincidentally, is that place where one meets Source herself. You are never more “saved” than when you are your authentic self in concert with Source itself.

What do you think the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness were all about? (Lk 4:1-12). Really now! What? If not tests as to whether he would be truly himself? Truly a servant of God’s wishes, instead of everyone else’s or those of his own?

But, maybe you have not completely severed that connection yet! Maybe the umbilical chord is still attached.

Why do I say this?

The fact that you’re reading my words…resonating with them and, thinking to yourself, “That’s me! He’s writing about me!” Maybe that means, my friend, you have not completely severed your connection to your deepest self or your Source.

Why else would feel as concerned as you do, if you had?

When Jesus died on the cross he did so to save you from the mistake of living an inauthentic life. I wasn’t told this when I was in Sunday School…when I was a teen in the church youth group. No, I was always told Jesus died to wash away my sins (and, of course, I was glad to hear this as I had many great and terrible sins for which Jesus died – a beer or two I drank before age 21, a few heavy-petting sessions with girls in the youth group, perhaps a joint or two I smoked, and some bad words I used too often).

I was told Jesus died to save me from “original sin.” Whatever that was. Nobody really knew, so church folk – depending on what tradition of the Church you grew up in – invented their list of the things that qualified – for us Baptists, it was “heavy petting,” drinking booze (Catholics and Lutherans, for some reason, had a stay of grace on this one), and, of course, using God’s name in a four-lettered word. That was one of the worst things you could do. But that was about the extent of my “original sins.” Some of my friends were worse.  Terrible even. They’d go “all the way” with some girls. But, for all our terrible evils, I could never figure why saying something like “God dammit!” was so offensive to God, he’d have to kill his son to soften his rage?

It all made little sense to me.  Just as it does not to most people today…when they actually think about it.

I have a different understanding today.

What could be more sinful, for example, or more original – that is, more like all of us, than to miss being the person God created you to be? For that matter, what could be worse? What could need saving more than the temptation in you, and me, to continue sacrificing your authenticity on the altar of someone else’s opinion of you? Or their expectations for you? Or, their demands that you fit in and conform or believe as they believe or else, or confess things that you know just ain’t so?

The word “sin” means to “miss the mark.” A word picture of an archer who misses his target.

What could be more tragic…more sinful, more original, than to miss living the life you were intended to live? Of being the person you were created to be? What could be worse than living and dying, even as a very devout churchgoer, who never quite gets it…lives it…or makes it with God…with yourself…and, all because, instead of living your life…instead of walking by the beat of your heart…instead of knowing the Presence of Prince of Peace, you’ve lived and died trying to please everyone…make everyone else happy by not rocking their boat?

Isn’t this that unto which people need saving today? Isn’t this what Easter should be about?

Instead of the stuff you’ll hear in most churches tomorrow? “Amen! Jesus got his body back! Praise the Lord! You don’t have to be afraid as you stare death in its face. You’re gonna survive! You’re gonna get a body…it’ll actually look like you.” And on and on goes the little egos clamoring…hoping…that they’re not really gonna have to die…the ego LIVES! What more could we want Easter to be? Than your survival and mine!

I ask you, my friend, reduce not the mystery or majesty of Christ’ resurrection this Easter to Jesus getting his body back. You getting your body back. Is that all it really means to you? Hell, getting your body back…what kind of miracle is that? Frankly, I look at my body…it ain’t worth saving.  How is that the miracle of Easter. Any ole medicine man (or, woman) can perform that trick and they do so in hospitals around the world daily.

No, the real mystery of the resurrection is that you get your life back?

The Life that you showed up with but, somewhere lost or laid aside in favor of pleasing everyone else…of conforming to “their” beliefs, of pretending to be someone you’re not, of dancing to everyone else’s tune?

Know this, my Facebook friends and blog readers at BeliefNet, today you will likely reside in a tomb of your own, as you ponder these words…their truth and application to your life, such as it is, the life you’ve been living or trying to live and growing weary of it — a life that is no life at all. You might as well not be living at all because, of course, you’re not. You’re just existing.

My advice? Think about this long and hard.

But, do not despair.

Why not?

Easter morning is coming!

A new day is dawning!

A resurrection is happening all over again.

Your own resurrection! Now that, my friend, IS EASTER!

Destinations! Or, Today?

posted by smcswain

It was Mark Nepo who observed, “Birds learn how to fly, never knowing where flight will take them.”

I have spent the greater part of my life worrying about my destination…where the flight of my life was taking me…instead of giving my attention to this day…and how to fly.

Does it ever seem to you that we’ve missed something important in our western culture? That we seem driven more and more by our imaginary destinations instead of the daily gift of living…of learning to fly.

What did we learn, for example, about the economic crash in the fall of ’08? That there are sometimes more important things than just the bottom line? The dividends earned by shareholders? The profit margins? The “more” we’ve earned this year than we earned last year?

I sometimes wonder if we learned anything at all. Wall Street seems just as intoxicated today, as it was before the crash, by its record high trading volumes.

So, what about you?

More interested in where you’re going than in how you’ll arrive?  Focused more on the destination than on today?

When I think back on my life as a parent, I can see now that I was always reminding my children that what was important in life was their grades…graduations…goals…getting ahead…knowing clearly what they were going to do and then doing it. Being better than everyone else, without of course an attitude about it. That what was important in life is that they learn to win. And, win big!

But, somewhere, I I forgot to teach them that there’s something more important than the destination…that the end isn’t more important than the means…that getting there won’t matter if, after arriving, you can’t stand the person you’ve become in the doing so…that where you’re going is really far less important than how you’re going.

I try not to be too hard on myself. The fact is, I’ve lived long enough with guilt over the blunders I’ve made of things like parenting. After all, I suppose I just did the best I could, given the fact I had not really learned to fly myself. And, hardly conscious of my awkward attempts at flying. At the time, anyway.

No, I, like maybe you, too, was just too busy with where I was going in life instead of how I was going to get there. Too busy worrying about where the next paycheck was coming from, instead of how I was spending the one I had. I was all about the destination, you see, instead of how to live daily…all about where I was going, instead of how I was going.

Religion can become equally misguided.

I think it has.

It can become too concerned with a destination (called “eternity”) instead of the daily living of life. Too obsessed with “heaven” tomorrow, which is probably why the Church often makes a “hell” of today.

I do not wish to be too hard on the Church either. After all, the Church is just people and they’re doing the best they can, with the degree of consciousness they have, too. But, I sometimes think our greatest error has been to make Jesus into a Savior whose primary concern is your eternal destination, instead of Savior whose primary interest is in how you live today.

Which probably explains why the Church largely overlooks what Jesus actually taught about life and living. When I look, for example, at what Jesus taught, it seems to me he was far more interested in helping you know how to fly…how to live…than he was in where that flight would take you.

Why? Because Jesus knew, if you ever learned how to fly…how to live…your destination would take care of itself.  Which is why he said, “Look at the birds of the air, my friends.” (Matt. 6:25-34). “They do not plant seeds. Nor do they gather grain into barns.” Jesus saw the wisdom His Father had written into the genetic code of creation itself.

I’ve spent my life gathering grains called investments and IRA’s and such. I missed just walking through the grain fields of life…observing their beauty as they sway to the wind.

Have you?

Or, do you spend most of you time…your life…as I did for much of mine…thinking only about your destinations…the end results..the bottom line…the promotions…your recognitions…your achievements…your retirement…winning at any and all costs?

And so, without thinking, you, too spin wheels of worry, anxiety, fretting over whether you, or your children, are ready…what others will think…what their teacher will think of them…what you’re accomplishing…what kind of grades they’re getting…whether you’re going to make it…if they will make it?

Want to stop the madness? Then, pause right now and see the madness for what it is.

In fact, hit the “Pause” button every time you think of today’s post. Ask yourself, as you do, “Am I blinded by the destination, I do not see today?”

Let go of tomorrow, my friend. Spread you wings today instead. Let the Winds of Life carry you to their intended destination. Give your attention to just flying.

Just flying.

That is…

Your Best Life NOW!

 

 

 

What Is the Breath of Life?

posted by smcswain

In the Song of Creation, otherwise known as the Book of Genesis, the writer says of the first two mythical representatives of the human race, “And God breathed into their nostrils the breath of life and humans became living souls” (Gen. 2:7)

What is the “breath of life?”

Is it not the life energy, the essence of all living things? Is it not God Herself?

You say, “But it cannot be?”

Why not?

What if it is? Consider this:

What would your life be like if, at every breath you took, you did so with an awareness that in the mystery that is this creation…which IS the mystery of your life and mine…what if you were actually inhaling and exhaling the very Life of God?

What would such a thought do to your perspective toward today? Toward this very moment?

What could you be facing even now that this profound awareness would not enable you to face with confidence…without any worry or fear?

Why not right now, take a deep breath and, as you do, see yourself as receiving the breath and life of God into your innermost being? Then, slowly exhale and, with that exhalation, see yourself releasing all anxiety, concern, worry…whatever it is that preoccupies your thinking this day?

Here is the miracle that is God and God’s creation – that is, YOU – the miracle is, even when you’re not thinking of God…you’re still breathing…you’re still receiving the Life of God.

What more could you ask for today? Any day? This is the secret to happiness.

Giving Your Attention Too Quickly to the Next Thing…

posted by smcswain

“Much of our confusion in life comes from giving our attention too quickly to the next thing…” says Mark Nepo this morning.

Ah, now that touches a nerve in me. It does some of you, too. Which is precisely why, of all the things your eyes might have fallen on this morning, they have fallen on this instead.

Coincidence?

Well, I suppose you could call it that, if you believe in such.

I’m not so inclined. Instead, I prefer to think that you’re here because this is Life’s way of saying to you, “Will you continue to live on the surface of your life? In constant motion? Driven as you are from one status update to the next? From one appointment… assignment…from one project and responsibility to the next?”

Any wonder you so seldom see the wonder of life? Of living? Why would you believe you could live any other way but confused? Uncertain? Or, pulled in a million and one directions?

Why not imagine what’s beneath the surface? Could it be that what you seek lies somewhere within? Closer than you think?

Now, lest you think I’m just pontificating this morning, you should know that I am describing my life. I’m too surface…too shallow…and, so often, confused.

No surprise? Only to those who read what I write and think of me as someone who is where they’d like to be. No, my friend, you read what I write precisely because you know…you know deeply…I’m not there, yet.  And, yet, I am, too. Because, you see, the moment I’m aware of the surface life I live, I have just taken a plunge to the depths.

That’s life’s mystery. When we know we’re not…we ARE.

The uncertainty within which most of us live is therefore directly related to the surface living most of us do. We remain not long enough to know anything with absolute peace…to know anyone with depth.

Except that, even now, we feel a little more at peace…a little deeper than a few moments ago.

And, why is this? Because, if you’ve read this much of this morning’s status report from the surface guru himself, there’s a pretty good chance, you are plunging into the depths of deeper knowing even now!

You, my friend, are beginning to live…

Your Best Life Now!  Your DEEPEST Life Now!

So, You Want to Become a Great Leader?…Live a Successful Life?…or, Know a Meaningful Spiritual Life? Here’s How:

posted by smcswain

I coach professionals, business executives, and religious leaders all across America. There’s a little cliche, the origin of which I do not know, that goes like this:

“You cannot get there from here;
You can only get here from there.”

What does this mean?

It means to start from the end.

In eastern philosophy, you are taught to treat yourself as if you are already that which you’d like to become.

So here’s how you apply this little known law of life…to leadership and to the living of a spiritual life.

In life, act as if you already are that which you’d like to become. Get a clear picture in your mind, for example, as to the person you want to be. As you do, the steps to becoming that person will automatically reveal themselves. The universe – what I call God – will arrange life in such a way so as to cooperate in the fulfillment of your desires. In other words, you will always know what to do today — that is, what steps to take — after you get clear about who you are today.

In leadership, it is the same. If you wish to become a great leader, know that you are inviting the universe to provide the means to help you realize it. I used to laugh, for example, at the absurdity of Saint Paul’s words in Romans 5:3-5, “…for we know that trouble produces patience in us.” Since I have always been a rather impatient person, I used to pray for “patience,” not knowing that, by giving my attention to that virtue, I was inviting the universe to provide the occasions…the experiences…today that would help me take the steps needed to become the person I imagined being.

I’m coaching a very powerful man, by company standards, who oversees an organization of more than 8,000 people. He wants to become a better leader. Once he decided that this was his ambition…his passion…his desire, I have had to remind him lately that the challenges to his leadership that have been recently overwhelming is Life’s way of providing him the pathway to fulfillment.

Start from the end.

It is the same in the spiritual life. But it is not the same either.

How’s that for confusing?

Here’s what I mean. For most of my life, I have desired a feeling of closeness to God…to my Divine Source. Yet, in spite of the steps I would take, the arduous effort I would give to the development of a consistent and rewarding walk of faith, I always felt as if I was coming up short…not quite making it. My religious tradition was little help, too. In fact, it was obsessively concerned with pointing out my failures. But, I needed no help in knowing where I was screwing it up. I knew all too well.

Then, one day I awakened out of that endless cycle of spiritual frustration. I realized that, unlike life and leadership or, for that matter, anything else, whenever I felt the desire to live and walk in the Presence of God, I realized I was at that instant right smack in the middle of that Presence already.

I am already the spiritual person I long to be. You, too.
I am already as close to the Divine as I’ll ever be. The same is true for you.

God is not “out there” somewhere…a spiritual Treasure you’ll only find after digging deep into the soul of your spiritual efforts…spiritual disciplines…spiritual perfection.

At the precise instant you think of God…you feel for God…you desire God…

At that precise instant you and God are one – eternally one.

Your spiritual practice is to remind yourself of this. But, don’t make a problem out of practice. Don’t turn this beautiful spiritual truth into some kind of religious struggle. Instead, know that just the thought of God in you IS the Presence of God. As you give attention to every thought, or to every impulse you feel to know God, then the feeling of God’s nearness will expand.

The reason I pray…I meditate…I discipline myself to life from the place of my higher self is not because I am then finally rewarded by God for my good efforts.

No.

I engage in these spiritual practices because they help me expand my consciousness of God’s immediate Presence.

Only in the spiritual realm does the law above work both ways. While in life and/or in leadership, you get clear about what you wish to become, start treating yourself as if you are already that which you wish, and then know that your daily experiences, encounters, etc will be orchestrated by the Universe to carry you in the direction of your dreams.

In the spiritual realm, however, you get both there from here AND here from there.

In other words…

You LONG TO KNOW GOD; and then, you make the wonderful discovery that…
…the LONGING IS GOD.

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