by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
Q: Why is it important to give to others? Some religions request a percent of your wage as regular donation.
The universe as we know it could not exist without giving. Giving is natural and is another aspect of the Divine. Just as a mother gives life to her child, freely offers milk and guidance through the years, so, we must learn to give of ourselves. In giving to others, without expectation, we are living our higher destiny.
On the spiritual level, when the higher comes forward, we are in tune with Truth. This occurs so we can be of service and give whatever is needed. For an example, look at the lives of the Servants of God. Each had a vocation and their life involved helping others reach higher. Some helped with sickness, others with guidance, or providing spiritual light to those who were in darkness.
Give to others, without expectation or indebtedness and you will discover who you are.
In my own case, I acted as if godliness was next to idleness. Most often I sought time away by myself to contemplate how spiritual I was. I truly believed salvation was to be found, away from others, meditating upon profound thoughts.
And when I traveled a little further, I realized ‘contemplating my navel’ was the antithesis of what the Path was about. As Saadi taught, so many years ago, “the Path is in human service. It is none other than this.” This is still true today.
When a hand is extended to help another, the human soul reaches toward the heavens. Service that is free of personal interest is one of the highest forms of human existence.
Grasshopper was sad and feeling sorry for himself. He thought no one liked him and when it came to picking grasses, he didn’t think he was as good as the other hoppers. All he ever got were the leftovers.
Grasshopper spent half the morning, sitting beside the road worrying about what a terrible life he had. Then along came Turtle. Turtle could tell in an instant what Grasshopper’s problem was and how to solve it.
Turtle called out, “If you’re tired of feeling blue, follow me and I’ll show you what to do!”
Grasshopper thought to himself, “Here’s Turtle sticking his shell into my business again. But what have I to loose? I just can’t shake these blues.”
At Turtle’s direction, the two friends began walking toward the meadow. Grasshopper had promised to do whatever Turtle said and not complain.
The meadow was alive with all kinds of creatures. Butterflies were flying. Bees were buzzing. Ants were crawling. What a wondrous sight to behold!
But these things just made Grasshopper sadder. Everyone was enjoying themselves and had something important to do except him.
After a time, Turtle and Grasshopper came upon a young hopper who was having a difficult time chewing through grasses and stacking them in a pack. One of the first lessons a young hopper learns is to identify six meadow grasses, stack them and bring them to his teacher.
As Turtle and Grasshopper continued to observe, the young fellow realized he was being watched. Without hesitation, he turned to Grasshopper and asked, “Will you help me?” Turtle nodded and in an instant Grasshopper was showing the young one how to identify, quickly chew through and stack grass.
In five minutes time, the young one had stacked his pack, thanked Grasshopper and was on his way to see his teacher.
As Turtle and Grasshopper continued walking, Grasshopper felt a little better. Somehow, by helping another, his blues were turned into smiles. Turtle saw this and said, “We are not done yet.”
So the two friends continued on. Rounding a bend in the road, Turtle and Grasshopper came upon some ants who were struggling to free one of their brothers. A branch had fallen and trapped him beneath a small limb. The branch was heavy and the ants were having a terrible time with it.
Without hesitation, Turtle and Grasshopper helped the ants lift. Quickly, the injured fellow was pulled from beneath the limb. While he was being nursed and carried off by the others, the leader thanked Turtle and Grasshopper for their help.
By this time, Grasshopper was hopping. He never felt better. He even began to sing. His sadness was completely gone.
Turtle looked at Grasshopper and said, “We are not done yet.”
Grasshopper wondered what Turtle was up to next. Grasshopper was happy, what else was there?
Turtle and Grasshopper continued walking for about an hour. Turtle walked very slowly and this got on Grasshopper’s nerves. Grasshopper felt like hopping, and if he knew were they were going, he could get there lickety-split. But no, Turtle wouldn’t tell Grasshopper anything. Everything with Turtle was always a mystery and Grasshopper had promised to do whatever Turtle said without complaining.
Then they came to a stream. Turtle told Grasshopper to lift some stones and make a path into the water with them. Every few inches or so Turtle and Grasshopper placed another stone. They must have laid out a dozen or so.
In the hot sun, this work took about two hours. Grasshopper saw no point in what they were doing. Who would benefit from this path, which seemed to go nowhere? It only went part of the way across the stream.
At one point, Grasshopper was very frustrated and about to ask Turtle what was the reason for this work, when Turtle remarked, “No questions until tonight.”
Finally they finished. As the two walked back toward Pond, Grasshopper was hot, tired and angry. He didn’t know why they worked so hard and couldn’t wait to give Turtle a piece of his mind.
That evening after dinner, as Turtle and Grasshopper sat outside Turtle’s burrow, he started to explain.
- “Often when we are feeling sorry for ourselves, it is best to find something to do. Activity is a cure for sadness. The best activity is to help another. This takes us out of ourselves and the helping energy is curative.
- Helping others, like the young hopper, is part of our social duty and is part of life in the Pond. Yet it is better to help before help is requested. This is the higher activity. Less indebtedness is created. Hence we helped the ants before they could ask.
- Finally a higher form of helping is when the one receiving help is unaware of the source. We placed those stones, so, young turtles could stand on them and catch silver minnows. They will think they are lucky to find this spot; never knowing what we did. Yet our energy is connected to this work and we benefit from it.”
As Grasshopper watched the night sky, he was at peace. He was not sad. In fact he never felt better. He realized, when we help others, we help ourselves.
Slowly he was beginning to understand.
About the author:
If you enjoyed this piece, check-out my new book Light on the Mountain; available on Amazon in paper back and Kindle. Go to www.bit.ly/bitkofflight.
by Patrick Paul Garlinger
In March 2016, a month into a kundalini awakening (when the dormant spiritual energy emerges from the base of the spine and travels up through the chakras), I heard very clearly a strong yet familiar voice in my head say to me, “We are going to write. And we are going to write quickly.” In the next six months, I downloaded three separate volumes of writing, the first of which, Seeds of Light: Channeled Transmissions on the Christ Consciousness, has just been published this past March.
I personally would not have used the phrase “the Christ Consciousness” nor would I have grappled with such a powerful spiritual figure who can be, for many people, something of a lightning rod. My previous work, When Thought Turns to Light (Epigraph, 2016), spoke of spirituality in terms of the Light or the Divine, and wove together contemporary strands of New Age wisdom on the nature of the ego and vibrational frequency to offer an accessible introduction to spirituality. This new work, which was channeled through me from a collective of higher beings who referred to themselves as simply the Council of Light, was remarkable both for its complexity and its Christian lexicon. In a series of interweaving chapters, they outline what the Christ truly stands for: a Divine model of consciousness available to all of us. Peeling back the illusion of our typical human consciousness, they reveal a novel, radical understanding of the Christ Consciousness that is really about our relationship to time.
The Collective & The Christ Consciousness
The Council of Light explains that we human beings relate to the world fundamentally through the axes of time and space. Time and space are what allows us to see every person and object as seemingly separate from us. The physical world appears to us as separate entities from one moment to the next. I am me now, I was me a second ago, and I will still be me a second from now. And you are you now, and you were you a second ago, and you will be you a second from now. This is how our minds construct the reality that we perceive around us. Our existence appears to depend on this separation. If you and I were not separate, then I wouldn’t be me, and you wouldn’t be you. My existence therefore depends on you being separate from me. If other people can leave my awareness, I continue to exist. Conversely, if I cease to exist, those other people will, presumably, continue to exist.
Our minds—what the Council calls the “collective consciousness”—then takes the unnecessary step and reasons that, because my existence is separate, other people can threaten my existence without jeopardizing theirs. As a result, our minds begin to evaluate others for how much they threaten or support my existence. We constantly assess whether everything around us on a scale of “good” or “bad.” We go through life looking at the world and saying “I like this” and “I don’t like that.” This is our human penchant for judgment. Even though we do not always regard everything as an existential threat, our minds are engaged in a constant evaluation of our world to ensure our relationship to it continues, precisely because as separate beings we can always be removed from the world.
The Role of Time in Human Consciousness
Time in particular is the essential way we relate to the world, from one moment to the next. Our sense of ourselves depends on a continuity between the past, present, and future. It is this search for our own constancy and continuity that generates our relationship with time—and the source of much of our emotional strife. Because we see ourselves as existing from one moment to the next and yet capable of not-existing, because our existence is separate from the rest of the world, we are obsessed with time: We constantly revisit the past and worry about the future. Ironically, it is precisely this need for coherence and continuity—at root, our fear of death—that we continue to see the present moment through the eyes of the past. Whatever we see, we relate to our past experiences of similar or different objects. That is how we maintain a sense of coherence from moment to the next along the axis of time.
The Council of Light further explains that our relationship to the historical figure of Jesus Christ is itself an example of how we relate to time. We continue to look to the past, in the hopes of deriving some sort of secure authority, rooted in the past, that can justify and explain our relationship to Jesus Christ, the person, in the present moment. We look to the past, to antiquity, for authority, to guide our perception of the present moment. As a result, we get bogged down in particular questions about the historical person—what really happened, what he looked like, etc.—that do nothing to inform how we can relate to the consciousness that the Christ embodied. In short, we bind ourselves the past, and we replicate it again and again the present moment, unaware of our ability to recreate ourselves anew right now.
The Meaning of the Christ Consciousness
The Christ Consciousness, then, is really about the mastery of our relationship to time. It is not about trying to emulate the historical figure of Jesus Christ as we have come to view him, nor to see Jesus Christ as a savior who will return in some kind of magical descent from the heavens. Rather, the “return” of the Christ is our collective realization that the Christ Consciousness is an awakening of our own minds and how we relate most fundamentally to time. Because we are engaged in a constant evaluation of objects and people in space and time—marking them as separate from us, and evaluating them as “good” or “bad”—we never really inhabit the present moment. Instead, we project our past views onto the present, seeing the world through our past experiences, to protect ourselves. This is fundamentally our approach to self-preservation: to maintain our sense of coherence, from one moment to the next, we recreate ourselves as we were before, from one moment to the next.
In truth, we are actually engaged in a practice of resurrection from one moment to the next: We constantly recreate ourselves in the same image from one moment to the next. That act of self-preservation, recreating ourselves as before, means we also carry with us the pains and burdens of the past; we accumulate judgments and fears based on our prior encounters as we evaluated them then in relationship to our own self-preservation as a separate physical being. In sum, we recreate ourselves with that same negativity from one moment to the next. The true meaning of Christ’s resurrection was the relinquishing of the ego’s relationship to time and space (the cross), which says that our existence requires us to see ourselves as separate from each other in time and space, and that our existence requires this constancy and continuity from one moment to the next.
Forgiveness Rewrites the Past
How do we let go of the past and reproduce ourselves in the present? How do we invoke the Christ Consciousness? We do so through the power of forgiveness. The Council of Light emphasizes that “I forgive” are two of the most powerful words available to us. They are a claim to existence that leaves behind the past, leaves behind a grievance that we have carried around with us and reproduced from one moment to the next. With these words, we reconstitute ourselves as someone who has let go of any belief that we were harmed. For when you experienced some moment of pain or grievance, you and the person who harmed you were co-creating yourselves in that moment. One of you did or said something to the other person based on your perception of separation from each other. One of you engaged the other through the eyes of judgment, and caused the other person harm. And you believed you were harmed; you felt some sort of pain as a result of that exchange.
Forgiveness is your power to resurrect yourself anew, without the pain of the past. It is your power to rewrite the past, by erasing the impact it had on you. Ultimately, the truth is that there is no separation between you and other people. This is a perception of the mind. It is the power to use language to constitute yourself now, without the injury or harm of the past still with you. By forgiving another, you undo the separation between you and the other because you recognize that you and the other person are no different: both of you are grappling with separation. You are both “Seeds of Light”—aspects of the Creator.
Undoing separation—and seeing yourself as no different from the other person—is the foundation for opening yourself to a new version of love. The Council of Light emphasizes as we do not see each other as forms of love, as Seeds of Light, who are all equally divine, because of our deeply entrained habits of judgment. Forgiving lays the groundwork for letting go of all of our judgments and evaluations of others, based on whether we “like” them or think they are “good” or “bad,” so that we can simply appreciate each other as human beings. Forgiveness, then, becomes the stepping stone to our true emancipation from our collective consciousness and to embrace all of our differences and diversity as infinite expressions of the Divine. Forgiveness is the portal to the Christ Consciousness, and it is available to all of us.
About the author:
Patrick Paul Garlinger first experienced the grace of awakening many years ago when he began to meet numerous spiritual figures and experience higher states of consciousness. While training under the renowned spiritual teacher, Mirabai Devi, Garlinger underwent a profound evolution of his inner world. Previously a professor of Spanish literature and a full-time attorney, he divides his time between working part-time as an attorney, writing works of spiritual wisdom, and providing intuitive guidance and healing services to individual clients and groups. He lives in New York City. He is also the author of When Thought Turns to Light: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Transformation.
For more information about his writings and services, please visit www.patrickpaulgarlinger.com.
By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
I saw my lower self in the form of a rat. I asked, “Who are you?” It replied, “I am the destruction of the heedless, for I incite them to wickedness. I am the salvation of the friends-of-God, for if it were not for me, they would be proud of their purity and their actions. When they see me in themselves, all their pride disappears.
Thoughts are energy and man/woman is fundamentally a being of conscious energy; creating his/her own body, events and thoughts, moment to moment.
For most spiritual travelers this essential aspect of who they are is left out of their early education; and this ability to master thoughts operates like a magic wand. It is said, he who controls his own thoughts is master of both the upper and lower kingdom; this being the dual aspects of our soul- where both baseness and sublimity exist.
Now when groups of people think the same thought and work together to manifest a potential, the power of thought forms is magnified, and often the miraculous occurs. Consider the power potential of a group of people praying and projecting their thoughts across the planet; this eventuality has been proven by numerous scientific studies concerning distant healing. Also consider the potential effect of a nation of like-minded citizens who joined together with singleness of purpose; we in America saw this with our own Revolution and more recently the world has awakened to groups of terrorists pushing their brand of fear and fanaticism.
In the following, we will examine from a spiritual perspective, the importance of controlling/mastering our thoughts, why we seemingly cannot control certain thoughts/feelings, how students in spiritual schools are taught to handle this situation, and finally offer selected techniques to monitor and control our thoughts.
Learning In a Spiritual School
While attending a spiritual/developmental school, one of the first areas to work on is thoughts and feelings. It is pointed out to the student that thoughts and feelings help to create our individual and collective reality. There is an energy attached to consciousness and what we think and feel helps create the world around us.
Further the student is cautioned that much has to be unlearned about thought processes. Early on, many of us have been taught that certain thoughts are bad and others are good. Further, some thoughts are sinful and display a weakness in character. Thoughts/feelings can have negative consequences, however, in the mature personality thoughts/feelings are neither positive nor negative; some help us feel happy and some help us feel sad, yet thoughts themselves just are- they manifest as part of our awareness/consciousness. How we label or feel about them, how long we stay with them, and what we do with them is the tricky part; and with a little training we can redirect and more positively use our daily consciousness.
Not Having a Thought/Feeling
From our perspective, it is nearly impossible to not have certain thoughts/feelings. Thoughts of envy, hatred and anger are hardwired into us just like thoughts of love, compassion and joy. The task of the spiritual traveler is to minimize time with troubling thoughts and substitute more positive ones. Often people berate themselves for having a jealous or what they have been taught is a naughty/sexual or sinful thought; from our perspective, a more useful approach is to acknowledge these thoughts/feelings, which originate in our lower soul, and as required act on them in a healthy way or substitute more positive ones, moving forward.
Examining Our Consciousness
If someone is taking advantage, thoughts/feelings like anger can protect. Thoughts like jealousy can push us forward to work harder and try to acquire what the other person has. A thought like hatred, while serving as a protection can also serve as a call to another part of our consciousness to examine, why we hate? Was this something engineered into us by others or a personal response based upon our assessment of the situation? Sometimes we hate because the situation reminds us of a personal failing or we see it as a personal threat; our fear response is a primary, basic instinct, hardwired into us and essential to protect us from harm.
The point on examining why we have certain feelings/thoughts, from a spiritual perspective, is to understand/unravel them so we can get past them and unlock what lies beyond feelings/thoughts. For the spiritual traveler, our higher awareness lies beyond ordinary thoughts and is the goal of the journey.
One day we were sitting in our teacher’s office, who was a physician, and were interrupted by a Nurse who needed a doctor’s order signed. This young woman was very beautiful and full of life and caught all of the male student’s attention as she entered and left. The teacher observing our obvious attraction offered these words, “a beautiful flower exists so we may enjoy it,” and then continued with the lesson.
Nothing further was said about our lower (sexual) thoughts/feelings; it was a matter of reaction to a natural response. Life is filled with moments like this- a beautiful women passes by or a handsome man enters the room. It is natural to pay attention- for the spiritual traveler the task is not to get weighed down by this natural instinctual reaction. Honor it and move forward.
In some traditions, travelers are taught this reaction is a sin and must obliterate this thought totally from consciousness. In other traditions, travelers are taught they are human and the lower soul has a function. It is like a dog that barks, trying to communicate. Often unnecessary energy is wasted in fighting a thought instead of merely substituting another- prayers and focus words are most helpful in these situations.
In working with thoughts/feelings, we were taught moderation. If the lower soul wants something and this will not cause harm to another, like a dog, sometimes to quiet it down you need to throw the dog a bone. For example, if you want and need a new car and this purchase will not strain your budget or take away from your family, what is the harm in the purchase? Instead of thinking excessively about this purchase, or trying unsuccessfully to remove it from your mind, treat yourself, buy the car and do it in the Name of the Light.
Friction Between Lower/ Higher Soul
The lower soul is the origin of our baser thoughts and feelings. This part has an important function to serve and is most concerned with self-preservation. It is looking out for self and many of the feelings/thoughts have been present since we were hunters struggling to survive. This is the part that wants to win, and is jealous when someone has something we want or need.
The spiritual traveler seeks to balance the needs of the lower soul with the needs of the higher. In this journey we are many things and it is often impossible to obliterate parts of our nature. We may learn to tame them, but they are always ready to rear their head. That is why we have been given exercises, holy books and spiritual devices to tame the lower soul; and over time, with Grace and following a spiritual Path, the Higher Soul transmutes the lower.
Switching Your Attention
For the spiritual traveler there are many devices, spiritual exercises and prayers that can be used to switch attention from troubling thoughts and feelings. In the mature personality, one that is relatively free of psychopathology, with a little hard work/training we can teach ourselves to focus on the Higher. It is our view that it is much easier to switch attention away from a troubling thought than to obliterate or not have it. Not having certain thoughts occurs through Grace and Divine Mercy.
When a troubling thought occurs, take 3 deep breaths, and try one of these substitution thoughts or actions; because we all are different one may work better for you than another. After a little practice you will be surprised at the results.
1) Substitute Thought. Repeat the Name of God/Light, over and over. With Reverence and feeling repeat the Higher Name over and over until the lower thought recedes.
2) Substitute Action. Get-up and call someone on the phone and see how they are doing.
3) Action. Get up and do something for another person. Cook them a meal. Tell them a joke. Inquire about their day.
4) Action. Stop what you are doing and give a donation to your favorite charity.
5) Action. Similarly, hug you wife/husband/child/friend/significant other. Tell them you love them.
6) Thought. If a troubling thought persists say a short prayer and ask Universe/Light to free you from the persistent thought. Then get-up and do something for someone else.
Monitoring Your Thoughts
For those of you who wish to try another or additional approach to the substitution technique described above, try the thought/feeling monitoring exercise described below. This is one of the first exercises we were given in the spiritual school. Over a period of time, both techniques will work together and become a regular part of your day.
Monitoring Exercise: At the end of the day, after you have taken care of your chores, select a quiet, comfortable place to review your thoughts. Before beginning this review, you may wish to take a long, hot, relaxing shower to wash away the day’s events.
Next in your quiet place, sit down and relax: take several deep breaths, very slowly. Make sure you have a pen/pencil and blank sheet of paper handy. Sit quietly for approximately 30 seconds and begin to think about the day’s events and people encountered. As you recall things that occurred, write down (2) things/people/occurrences that troubled you. Write down your thoughts, feelings and reactions.
Next write down and list (2) things/people/occurrences you enjoyed. Also, in writing, indicate your reactions and why they were pleasing.
Finally for part #1- troubling items, indicate in writing how if given another opportunity you would change or modify the situation or your reaction. Slowly repeat your corrective action to yourself, twice. Repeat entire exercise for three days.
How This Exercise Will Help. By practicing this activity you will begin to recognize troubling thoughts that occur during the course of your day. After a time, you will notice that some thoughts/situations repeat themselves and are potentially destructive to your mood and well-being. Also by practicing this exercise, you will have identified thoughts that are pleasing and may be substituted, when something unpleasant happens. A suggestion- make your substitution thoughts, ideas, and words as simple as possible. Here the fewer words the better. Hence a mantra or substitution phrase is usually very short; the best ones being limited to one word.
Continuous attention to God (remembrance) produces the gradual transmutation of the attributes of the lower self into the Attributes of God.
Right Time, Right Place & Right People
There is a traditional story, which I am changing around a bit to fit our present discussion, about the search for Higher Knowledge; hopefully this short piece will help put some of this material about monitoring thoughts in perspective.
Higher Knowledge is like a treasure that has been buried and hidden in an old rock wall. Ages ago, it was buried for your use by an ancestral benefactor when you became of age, and is your birthright. On their way to work daily, all kinds of people walk on the road alongside this wall, coming within feet of this ancient treasure; they have no idea what lies buried nearby. Somehow this wall has withstood the ravages of time and builders; the treasure remains safely hidden and waiting for you to claim it.
In our story, the road represents the events in our life and the wall our ordinary thoughts and feelings; the buried treasure- Higher Knowledge- spiritual awareness.
To find the treasure, what is required is someone (Guide) who knows where the treasure is buried, and can pass this information on to the spiritual traveler.
For the traveler, or rightful heir, what is required is termed purity of heart; a desire to use this treasure in the most beneficial way for self and others.
Sadly, few are the travelers and few are the guides who meet these qualifications.
So the treasure remains hidden, buried waiting for you to claim your birthright.
To begin, I have provided map and tools.
*Hujwiri and Nurbakhsh quotes taken from James Fadiman & Robert Frager, Essential Sufism, Harper: San Francisco, Chapter 4- pages 67, 71, 1997.
About the author:
If you liked this article, check-out my new book Light on the Mountain; available on Amazon in paper and Kindle. Go to www.bit.ly/bitkofflight.
by Cynthia MacGregor
I was born and raised Jewish, and from seventh grade on I was very observant, never missing a Saturday morning service. At age 14 I developed what would much later be diagnosed as Tourette Syndrome, although at the onset it was mis-diagnosed as “nerves” or “psychosomatic.” I twitched, and I made uncontrollable noises in my throat.
My preferred seat in the temple had been in the front row until the onset of the Tourette’s, at which time I took to sitting in the rear, where I would be less conspicuous. But one morning I once again took my place in the front row. The twitching and noises grew worse.
Just before the sermon, the cantor leaned over the pulpit (under orders from the rabbi—although I didn’t know that at the time) and asked me, in front of the entire congregation, if I would mind moving to the rear. Thoroughly humiliated, I walked to the back of the temple with my head down, too embarrassed to face any of my fellow congregants. After the service was over, I stayed in my seat, my face still lowered, until there were no more feet walking past in the center aisle.
The cantor was waiting for me. “I’m sorry!” he apologized. “The rabbi made me do it.” I broke down sobbing, and he held me and comforted me for at least 10 minutes until I regained my composure.
When the rabbi appeared, for some reason I apologized to him. It should have been the other way around. “I’m sorry if I disturbed your service,” I said.
“You certainly did!” was his reply. I once again began sobbing uncontrollably, and it took another 10 minutes for the cantor to console me and comfort me.
I had always thought that if I wasn’t welcome anywhere else with my “condition,” at least I was welcome in God’s house. That day I learned differently, and that was the beginning of a period of agnosticism for me. I never became a full-blown atheist; I just wasn’t sure there was a God. If there was, how could he let such a thing happen?
Tourette Syndrome wasn’t my only problem. I also suffered from severe anxiety attacks. I didn’t know what they were or that they had a name, and I thought I was the only person who suffered from these terrible bouts of panic. At age 18, I moved from the suburbs into New York City. In those days there was no dearth of reasonably priced apartments to choose from. I decided on a second-floor walk-up, and eventually introduced myself to my next-door neighbor.
Of all things, she turned out to be an editor, a departmental editor at a major magazine—who more than that could an aspiring writer be impressed by?—and it turned out she had anxiety attacks too. She told me they had a name. She told me other people besides her and me had them. I could have chosen any other apartment. Maybe there really was a God after all.
My faith in God was renewed, and strengthened as time went on, but I still had no use for organized religion, not after the way the rabbi had made the cantor humiliate me. I prayed to God whenever and wherever I felt the desire to communicate with Him. I tried to remember to say, “Thank you,” at least as often as I said, “Please.” I thanked our Creator and Source for everything from the wonders of Nature to days when I felt better than usual. I thanked Him when, in my early thirties, my Tourette Syndrome was finally properly diagnosed. I thanked Him profusely when a doctor, taking a psychopharmacological approach, relieved me of my anxiety attacks and agoraphobia.
I didn’t return to the faith of my youth or any other. Classifying myself as a Deist—a believer in God with no affiliation with any organized religion—I talked to my Creator and Source whenever and wherever I felt impelled to do so. I prayed in my car and in my bathtub, in my kitchen and in my bed, in the park (lots of inspiration for prayer there), and in any other location when I felt a need to say, “Please,” “Thank you,” or convey any other message to the One who I now was sure existed, despite my earlier doubts.
Eventually I moved to Florida. My new friends knew my backstory, including my feelings about organized religion. A business venture, which involved two of these friends, required good recording equipment. One of the friends said we could use the equipment in a church at which he played piano on Sundays. I was reluctant. “You’d like this church,” both friends said. “You’d be comfortable here.” They urged me to come to services one Sunday. And finally I did.
The denomination was Unity, a branch of New Thought. To cut a long story short, not only did I become a fully involved member of the church, but I went on to study and become ordained as a New Thought minister. Later, for reasons irrelevant to this story, I switched affiliations and joined another New Thought church, this one Metaphysical, where I am a board member, a volunteer coordinator of a monthly psychic fair, and where I substitute in the pulpit whenever the minister is out of town or ill.
The take-away from all this? I am glad that during the decades of estrangement from organized religion, I did not estrange myself from God. I am glad that I maintained belief in Him, once I found myself living next to that editor, and I am glad I stayed in prayerful contact with Him. Although I am very happy now in my relationship with my church, I aver that we don’t need to attend a house of worship, of any faith, or to belong to any organized religion, in order to be in touch with our Creator and Source, who is everywhere. We just need to reach out to Him and align ourselves with Him, and to see His handiwork in every glorious sunrise or sunset, in every small miracle that transpires in our lives, and in all the good things that happen to us.
God is great. God is ours. God is there to communicate with.
You may shun organized religion, but don’t give up on God.
About the author:
Cynthia MacGregor is a freelance writer/editor, the author of over 100 published books including Everybody’s Little Book of Everyday Prayers (http://msipress.com/book_titles/everybodys-little-book-of-everyday-prayers/ ), and an ordained New Thought minister. She lives in South Florida and officiates at weddings, funerals, baby blessings, house blessings, pet memorials, and other occasions. She avers, “There’s no one in the world I’d want to trade lives with.” Visit her website at www.cynthiamacgregor.com.