East Meets West

A Seed Is A Star A Star Is A Seed – Stevie Wonder


There is only one will- the Universal Will.  In order to make anything happen on this plane, one must align one’s self with the Universal Spirit.   The Lord’s Prayer says it succinctly, “Nevertheless it is not my will but Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

I have been struggling with a project and have been frustrated because I have taken most of the steps that I can take. However, the final steps for this project to reach fruition are out of my hands.  Then, I realized that one can’t simply “will” anything into manifestation on one’s own.  The concept of willpower is misunderstood. Willpower does not mean that one is so strong that they can will something into existence. It means that one has the wisdom, discipline and strength to align oneself with the Universal Will to bring a particular thing or matter into manifestation.

As ancient religions and philosophies have taught us, this alignment is no simple matter.  Alchemists have sought to turn ordinary stone into gold for centuries, yet their success has been rare.  The successful alchemists have focused on fundamentals and procedure first and results last.  When we are fundamentally sound and follow the process patiently step by step, success is inevitable. Oftentimes, the success is not how we envisioned it.  Scientist start with the goal of curing male baldness and discover that they have found a solution to impotence, for example. Once again it is the Universal Will and Universal Spirit that has primacy.[1]

Let us focus on the process. It is God’s way of tricking us into letting go of the things we cannot control and focusing on the things within our purview.  We cannot control the results, but we can control the process. When we focus on the process simply for the sake of doing it right, we are aligning ourselves with God’s will and by acting as his instrument here on earth we are being true alchemists. We are fulfilling the Lord’s prayer and doing his will here on earth as it is done in heaven.

[1] One may find this example objectionable because it implies that the Universe was behind a drug that involves a vice. However, this drug has helped people live a better life and the abuse of any drug is a human failing. For example, wine per se, is not bad but the abuse of it is.

Muhammad Ali exemplifies the heart of a champion.  Time and time again in his life he withstood seemingly insurmountable t challenges by relying upon his heart.  Ali once told a group of Harvard students not to  look for miracles from outside of themselves, but instead , he told them that the greatest miracles came from within their  hearts.

He went on to explain to them that the most powerful force in the universe is love.  The love of one’s self allows one to love everyone else.  Once we tap into that source, he told the students anything is possible. Another great quote attributed to Ali was, “If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, I can achieve it.

Ali had innumerable unique gifts from God. He was loquacious, innately intelligent, charming and handsome. He also had an awareness of his connection to God. He learned to call God Allah.  I believe the Universal Source of all there is goes by many names.  It is one of the stated goals of this column to elucidate to all that it does not matter what you call God, just that you are aware of God’s presence and acknowledge it as the source of all that exists. Ali knew that he was connected to God. I heard Ali state in the movie When We Were Kings that he was aware that when he focused upon himself he was limited. He stated that when he focused only upon himself that he was like any other man who felt fear and doubt and could be beaten. However, when he focused upon Allah and realized that he was acting at Allah’s behest for the rest of the world, he was limitless and could accomplish any goal.

If he was acting just for himself, he would have cut a deal with the Federal Government and joined the service and probably would have done USO work similar to Elvis. He probably would have been allowed to box and make money for his family. Instead, he was led by his heart and exercised his right to be a conscientious objector. He did so out of respect for his religion and a feeling that it was not right to fight a war against people who had not harmed him, nor his country.

Most boxing fans would agree that a true champion is known not solely by his ability to knock out his opponents, but also on his ability to take a punch and not give up.   It is commonly called the heart of a champion. Great champions can withstand the attack of others and somehow survive. They survive because they have the heart of a champion. Most people would have gone down when George Foreman hit them, yet Ali summoned the strength within his heart and took Foreman’s powerful blows and kept standing.  Most people would have retired to a life of seclusion after being Parkinson’s disease took away what appeared to be their greatest assets. Ali, after Parkinson’s   could no longer move people with his eloquence or impress people with his physical grace. Most would have been too embarrassed, or too arrogant to allow the world to see them in a diminished state. Ali was not in a diminished state because he knew in his heart that everything that happened to him in his life was the will of God. He knew, from a lifetime of contact with that Universal Source which he gladly called Allah that if one connects with the God within us all, only good things spring forth.

He revealed to millions of people how to stand up for their beliefs.   He manifested to us all how to accept the path that God has given us with dignity.  He accepted his role as a leader when he was a boxer, civil rights activist, and pacifist as well as someone with a debilitating disease. He acted with aplomb in all cases.

Ali was not a perfect man, yet he showed us perfectly how to look within our hearts and to connect to the God that is within. Once we make that connection, great things are possible.  As the song about him says, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”  Once we take that first step and love who we are, our path will unfold before us and it will be a thing of beauty.

Thank you Muhammad Ali for being an exemplar. You revealed for us love, true courage and devotion.  We are all the better for it.

Son, one’s 18th birthday is a milestone in today’s western society. It marks the beginning of your official adulthood. As you have seen already in your brief life and will see more so as you continue forward, perspective and wisdom go hand in hand. You will learn from many people as you journey through this life.  You will receive well intentioned advice from loved ones, including me. Please learn from that advice and learn from your enemies perhaps even more.  Keep them all in the proper perspective.  Ask yourself who is giving you the advice and why. Ask yourself what can you gain from the advice and what can the adviser gain from giving it to you.

Know that you are known by the One About Whom Naught Can Be Said. Many people call this force God or the Universal Force.  As you have learned from Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  You are not just known by this force you are loved by this force.  This energy is your true father and this earth is your true mother.   Your mother and I are actually physical symbols of that love.  We helped bring you to life and nurture you in the physical realm just as God does on the spiritual realm.   Just as you have respected your physical parents, please respect Father God and Mother Earth. Make choices with that love in mind. Listen to God. God speaks to you every day and answers all of your questions.  Every day I would like you to take a moment to quiet your mind, and to still your thoughts. When you let go of all thoughts your real thinking will begin and you will hear the voice of God. God has always been with you and will always be with you. Know this- You Are Never Alone!!!

Please take time to respect your mother. She loves you and will sacrifice everything for you. This is true of your physical mother and of Mother Earth. Make choices to protect her at all times.  Show her your love every day.  Appreciate her every day. Enjoy the sunrise, the sunset and the stars. Enjoy grass. Enjoy sun, rain, moon and clouds.

I mentioned advice earlier. Listen to it all but filter it through your loving heart. You have been blessed with a compassionate and loving heart. Use that as your filter for all information. I could give you a list of all the qualities one needs to succeed in life. However, I don’t necessarily believe in the concept of a good or bad life. Life is about garnering as many experiences as possible.  Here is where perspective comes in. You may have an experience that some would find deplorable, but with the right perspective, you will realize that it was just a learning opportunity.    Whether you score 5 touchdowns in a game or whether you lose all of your money in a business venture, know that both experiences are just learning opportunities. They don’t define you. You are neither a winner or  a loser – You just are.

In closing, I can’t resist giving you a list of words characteristics or qualities that will help you to just be.

These are your words:

Be perspicacious

Be poised

Be prescient

Be present

Be perspicuous

Be placid

Be peaceful

Be prolific and

Be passionate!!!!

So….. On we go facing the challenge of life,
It’s hard we know, watching your dreams fall through.
When we laugh, when we play, oh it makes the brighter part of our day
Just a smile, is all we need to send us on our way
So on we go, we must go on……
Davis Import 1981

My brothers and I wrote those lyrics almost 25 years ago. We did not write them because we were overwhelmed by life but because we looked forward to life’s challenges undauntedly. We knew that there would be times that would test our resolve. Times where loved ones passed away, where our dreams seemed beyond our reach, where we had physical, mental and spiritual challenges. We knew that as long as we stuck together we could surmount those challenges.
We knew that so long as we could laugh at our mistakes, foibles and mishaps and as long as we did not take our successes too seriously, we would be fine. You see, life is never static and rarely perfect. Even in those sublime perfect moments, when we have achieved our goals, we too often look ahead to the next challenge or our enjoyment of that moment is tinged by the fact that a relative, friend or neighbor is going through hard times. I don’t say this to depress you. Life is a wonderful gift. However, our focus should not be upon the end result but upon the process.
We are familiar with the Zen phrase that it is the journey and not the destination which runs counter to the Machiavellian “ends justifies the means” concept. When one does take time to enjoy the journey and do things the right way, we see that the results are far better than when we focus solely upon the end result.

Let us strive to enjoy this life and all of its experiences. They are designed to enrich our souls. Let us appreciate this gift called life and the gift of going through this experience with our loved ones for exactly what it is. The One who is known as God or the Spirit of the universe has given us a unique opportunity in this particular space and time. Don’t label these experiences as good or bad, happy or sad – they are just part of the Great Adventure that never stops…..On we go!!!!