How you can find the light, be the light & shine it for others

be-the-light

Be the light.

A friend sent me this message upon the death of Baba Ram Dass and it’s so wise I just had to share with you:

“So, Ram Dass passes on the first night of Hanukkah, reminding us of the Shamash , the “helper or attendant “ the one that is lit for others. His passing reminds us that we too, are called to be the light that first shines for others to see and then helps them to be their own light, and in turn, will shine for others…”

And that is the truth. We are here to find the light…be our own light..and light the path for others so that they, too can be their own light. That is what we are meant to do here.

How can you be the light for others you encounter in this new year?

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Success is not the point

Success is not the point

successIf you’re in business, you’ve probably encountered legions of coaches all offering to help you succeed.

Or those who trigger our desire for fortune or for fame.

For some, success is a matter of paying the bills.

For others, it’s prestige, ego, fortune or fame.

Fortune and fame?  Something I know a bit about, since I have lived in Silicon Valley for decades.

So what about success?

A few years ago I heard spiritual teacher Suzanne Giesemann talk. She was channeling her spirit guides. This was all the more amazing because she had been a senior military officer and aide to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Talk about two ends of a continuum.

Her guides said something that stuck with me and I’m going to leave it with you today:

“Most humans miss the point,” they said. “The point is not to succeed or fail.  The joy comes in be-ing and growing, and often growth results simply from trying….pass or fail.  Do you see?  Do you understand?  Are you up to the task?

“You are loved no matter what.  What a joyous discovery!”

My guru has joined the other angels

Ram-Dass

Photo Credit: Carol Cassara / Maui / Dec. 2018

He is as close to a guru as I will ever have, a guiding figure, a sage, an angel on earth and a generational influence we will never see again.  Guru: one who removes the darkness. A gateway to God.

Ram Dass has joined the other angels and is now spreading his love and joy from the afterlife and for that I am both happy and sad.

I was lucky enough to meet him in Dec. 2018 at his Maui retreat and to have several loving interactions with him there. It was my first time at one of his retreats. I was called to go because I knew his time here was limited. It was a miracle that I got in–the event sold out in six minutes, but I was there lurking when registration opened and quickly got a place.

It was a magical five days. Many exuberant highs and also deep introspection. I came away with a love of chanting and renewed dedication to loving kindness.

Ram-DassAbove is a signed photo taken for the cover of one of his books. I bid on it at the retreat in a silent auction held to raise funds for his ongoing care. It now sits on my dresser and is one of the first things I see every morning. His eyes are beautiful, mesmerizing, so on fire at that time, with all of the intellectual excitement involved in bringing his experience in India to the rest of the world in ways we could digest. His many books. His lectures.

And then, some 20 years ago, a debilitating stroke. He lived a very long time with those disabilities. The brain was fully intact but expression was another matter. How frustrating for such a major intellect and yet, he saw it as a lesson. As he saw everything. As I try to see everything. I try.

And he lived with joy and love.

I am grateful that I got to be in his company, that I met him, looked into his eyes and he in mine, and both sent and received unconditional love.

Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram

Do you believe in intercessory prayer?

intercessory-prayerThe other day I sent condolences to a family friend upon hearing of the death of his mother. He is a priest.

“May she intercede for us now with your parents,” he responded.

Well a few things.

First, I think he meant “may she and your parents intercede for us” because the intercession was meant to be with God, not my parents. Not that I didn’t want God to intercede with my parents more than once when I was a kid. But, no, not now. Nor do they need to intercede with God for me.

Ok, maybe my friend might think I need the help, given what I do for a living. Past-life regressionists aren’t a thing in the current Catholic Church, although evidence for reincarnation can be found in the Bible (Hebrews, for example). Then again, the Bible can be interpreted to provide evidence for ANYTHING. So not a very credible source.

But back to my priest-friend.

You have no idea how hard it was to resist responding that I had been in touch with my parents quite a bit over the past 20 yenergy-healingears and everyone’s good, no intercession needed. In fact, my spirit guides already interceded, that is, stepped in to talk to me in my parents’ place. Super helpful.

But then again, he is a Catholic priest, and I am pretty sure he would flip his cassock at talking with the dead. (I love you T, I do! We just believe differently!)

Here’s the other thing: do we really need any kind of intercessory prayer? It’s definitely a big part of Catholicism. And, Catholic or not, most of us pray for what we badly desire. Healing. Peace, A change in circumstances.

But is intercessory prayer necessary?

I’m reminded of something I read in the book series, Conversations with God. And that is this:

We already have what we need. 

So what would we ask for?

Asking in prayer for whatever supports my highest good is a better “ask” for me.  Because I do believe in a plan. I do believe that are reasons for everything that happens and it’s all related to our personal growth or that of others. Yes, I get how that is hard for some to swallow. None of us wants to believe there is a reason for tragedy. For evil.  I have to admit, it’s an acquired perspective. It’s mine; I don’t force it on anyone.

But there I go again, riffing on intercessory prayer. Wondering where you sit on the issue. Would love to hear your thoughts in the Comments.

How can you polish the mirror of your heart?

How can you polish the mirror of your heart?

mirror-of-your-heartThe other day on retreat Krishna Das pointed out that if we really want to see things accurately–and not just our projections–we must polish the mirror of our heart.

Only then, he says, can we act and RE-act differently, and not through the filters of our fear, anger, greed and self-centeredness.

This profound Sufi concept holds that only by removing the veil over our hearts can we achieve both personal and spiritual growth –and get closer to the Divine.

That means recognizing and gaining control over our lower instincts. This is even MORE important in today’s world, when we see so much low stuff all over the place–and we are tempted to respond in kind. I’ve succumbed to that temptation, too.

Our challenge is to polish our hearts so we can shine a light on these dark places. We must work hard to stay in a place of compassion for all beings. Harder than I’d like. And yes, even the ones hardest to love. This takes constant vigilance and effort.

Until it doesn’t. Until love and compassion become who we are.

That’s the aim.

I am a work in progress.

Aren’t we all?