about Male-Female Duality

Male – Female duality, the spiritual principal that there is a male and female energy within us that we need to bring into harmony in order to achieve spiritual growth.
I have always wondered about this concept. In many spiritual courses I attended, I heard people throwing judgements around like ‘you need to get in touch with your female energy’.
What does this even mean? And where does this idea come from?

Looking into ancient religion, in Palaeolithic religion the concept of male and female form was first given meaning. In cave paintings horses and bison are seen together very often, and it is believed that the horse stands for the male and the bison for the female form.
Of course, calling the bison female ad horse male wasn’t a completely random thing to do.

The Egyptians well documented their ideas on male and female deities. Interestingly, the god Hathor, the female principle, was found in the form of a cow. As cows and bison are closely related, there is a good chance that the Egyptian male-female principle was brought down through the ages.
The Egyptian god Thoth is known as a male principle, and married to Ma’ath, the female.
When the boat of Ra rose above the waters of Nu for the first time she had her place in it beside Thoth. Thoth is the god of magic, knowledge and writing, he’s supposed to have written the 42 books of Thoth. Ma’ath is the god of law, order and truth.

Thoth has the same qualities as the Greek god Hermes. In Greek Thoth is referred to as Trismegistos, or Hermes the Thrice Great. The Hermetic writings, which form the base of Hermeticism refer to Thoth and Ma’ath as the male and female principles we all carry within us.
The caduceus, the symbol with the 2 serpents has Egyptian and Greek origins as well, where one snake carries the male and the other the female energy.

From the early teachings of the Egyptians and Greeks, we see the male-female principle evolve.
We see the role of female deities evolve from darkness and war to love and fertility.
Especially monotheistic male-driven religion has transformed the shape of male-female duality. Where male and female were on equal foot in pre-dynastic Egypt and other early religion, an imbalance is created, where male overpowers the female energy.
Cue centuries of men talking and writing about male and female principles, and the original equal footing of the principle gets lost in society and scripture. It seems that men carry an all-male energy and women all-female, with the roles assigned to both. Certain religions even practice segregation of the sexes, which is taking separation of the male and female to another level.

The above is not the end-all and be-all of the male-female principle. Though corrupted by certain religions, there have always been schools of thought that have kept up the original idea of the principle, saying it is a natural energy that flows through us all.

The Bahá’í faith is very clear on male-female duality:
The world of humanity has two wings — one is women and the other men.
Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing
remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal
to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success
and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.
(“Selections from the Writings of &Abdu’l-Baha”, sec. 227, p. 302)

Back to the beginning of this blog, the throwing around of terms like: ‘getting in touch with your feminine side’. Personally, I have never bought into this. I strongly feel that we all naturally have a spectrum of qualities within us. Our upbringing and social influences teach us to distinguish those qualities and label them.
In my experience ‘getting in touch with your feminine side’ for many women means sprucing up the body with make-up and fine dress, covering everything with a mantel of ‘loving language’, and displaying other behaviour that is seen as feminine.
For me, being in balance means being authentic towards my own being. It means expressing my feelings both when I am angry as well as filled with love and looking the way that feels natural to me.

Then again, I like non-dualism. The Egyptian philosopher Plotinus came up with the idea that there are three principles: the One, the Intellect and the Soul.
The non-dualistic aspect of his philosophy lays in the One.
The One is beyond anything, it is the light, without naming it ‘light’, because naming it that means there is a dark. The one is the omnipotent matter bringing everything in this world into existence.
I compare the One to dark energy, it’s there but there is no experience tied in with it.
(To read about Plotinus, I recommend Standford University encyclopedia of philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plotinus/)

I definitely have not reached any conclusions when it comes to duality. It is one of the biggest concepts influencing not only spiritual thought, but every aspect of being human.
Please do share your thoughts on this subject, I would love to hear from you.

Namaste

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Altars across religions and time

One of the things that is similar across many religions and spiritual movements is the use of altars.
Altars have been used since very early times. Especially in earlier polytheistic societies such as Mesopotamia, over 2000 deities could have an altar dedicated to them in urban areas.
In early Judaism, altars made of carved rock were to be found up mountains in places called sanctuaries or high places. These altars were used for sacrifice and seen as places where direct contact with the divine was possible. As such they became the centre of religious practice.

Early altars were mainly used for sacrifice and to leave gifts to the gods in order to gain their positive judgement, the use of fire was also very common. Symbols reflecting the attributes of specific deities an altar was dedicated to were often carved into altar stones.
An interesting addition to the altar in Mesoamerican times was the creation of sacred paper by a shaman or priest, which was cut in the shape of specific deities and lined up on the altar. Sacred paper was also used by the Chinese, who learned the art of paper making over 2000 years ago.

Soldiers that travelled often brought stones with them which were dedicated to specific deities. They would build shrines with these stones, which sometimes became permanent fixtures and a place of worship for pilgrims.
It wasn’t until monotheism caught ground that places of worship started featuring altars that only could be approached by people with a specific religious role. The consecration of altars became a very specific ritual, as well as dimension, relics, cloth, colour, etc.
To read further on modern day altars in different religions, I refer to this well written Wikipedia article.

Of course, altars have also had a place inside the family homestead for centuries. To commemorate ancestors and worship specific household deities.

I have altars in my home. They represent a sacred space in my home and carry items that express my connection to the divine. What is represented on these altars varies throughout the year.
When I am holding a specific person in my prayers, I often place an item gifted to me from the specific person on my altar, or might use a photograph of them in happy times.

On the picture you can see the altar I created in the past few days to help me hold space for a gathering of fellow ministers. I added:

  • 12 tealights, representing all ministers part of the group
  • Holly, celebrating king Holly who reigns the period between summer and winter solstice
  • A copper gong, copper carries the alchemy of the planet venus (sacred feminine)
  • A selenite wand to sound the gong, carrying the moon energy (acknowledgement of the oak moon and the sacred feminine in the moon)
  • Statues of Mother Mary and Quan Yin, representing the Christmas season and the divine mother energy in east and west.

Once I finish decorating my altar, I always use white sage, incense or sacred wood to clear the space around it. Also, I will ask for a blessing for all the people represented on the altar.
My blessing for this altar:
I ask the all-pervading source energy to bless this altar and all that are represented on it.
May we all walk on a path of light in these dark days.
May we walk our path in good health, may we feel loved.
May we see blessings in our every day, may we be ever grateful for what we receive.
In love and light (3x)

I would love to hear about the altars you connect to, if any! Do you have one in your home? Do you visit a place of worship with an altar? Please let me know in the comments.

About Heaven

“I lifted up my eyes to see the Heaven.
I saw it not.
I closed my eyes to feel the Heaven.
I felt it not.
I thought of God.
To my widest surprise, God said that
I am not only the Heaven but His Heaven.”
~ Sri Chinmoy

Heaven, Nirvana, Walhalla, Utopia, Samsara, Shamayim, Jannah, Tian.
From a young age I was fascinated by the concept of heaven.
I remember as a child, trying to envision what heaven must look like. Let me take you for a spin in my childhood brain: All people that pass over live in the same town, in their best clothing, in lovely homes, everyone being really nice to each other all day every day. Of course, this would be problematic if someone was married to someone, who then passed over and then they married another person, would they all have to live in the same house? And what about all the animals? Do dogs go to heaven, and squirrels? How does God decide which squirrel goes to heaven?
It was no wonder I was often caught out staring out of the window ‘blankly’, as opposed to focusing on how to multiply 3×7.

Heaven, or the afterlife, plays a big part in most religions. And most religions teach us that life and suffering on this planet prepares us for the better place to come after our physical body dies.
Of course, depending on your belief, the afterlife promises you different things.
For Christianity it is clear cut, if you led a good life or before breathing your last breath ask for forgiveness for your sins, you go to heaven. The holy trinity lives in heaven according to all Christians: God, Jesus and the Holy spirit. After that it gets a bit fractured, some Christians belief Mary to be Queen of heaven, some Christians belief in 7 heavens with a strict hierarchy.

In several religions we see multiple heavens. Christianity has its 7 heavens, the Aztec have a heaven with 13 different spheres, Jainism divides the upper sphere ‘Urdhva Loka’ into 16 devalokas.
Important is to distinguish that the purpose of heaven is different in different religions.

In some religions heaven is a place where souls stay until the apocalypse happens and the whole world is reborn, in others it is a place for deities only, and then there are those religions like Hinduism and Buddhism that have different parts of heaven that prepare the soul for rebirth.
A very interesting idea of heaven comes from Ancient Egypt, where heaven was a place in outer space, far beyond the stars and realms visible from earth. The travel to heaven could be dangerous and many different beings could be encountered on the way. Once a soul had finally reached heaven, the most scary thing of all, your heart would be checked for its goodness. Fail the test and your heart would be eaten and that would be it.

42 years in this lifetime, I still often wonder about the concept of heaven.
For me, it feels that heaven wouldn’t be so much a place, but more a state of being.
I do believe in multiple lifetimes and in karma. I don’t however, belief that this heavenly state of being is sectioned off or has judgement in it. More like a pool of eternal bliss.
I am always curious to hear about what people think about the concept of heaven.
Is heaven a place? A state of being? Maybe earth in itself is a realm of heaven?
Let me know your thoughts.

Namaste

Survival strategies for the ‘Festive’ season

For those of us to whom Christmas doesn’t equal ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, dread has been slowly creeping up since the first decorations entered high street shops (in August!!).
Not partaking or being able to partake in ‘the festive season’ can leave us in a very distressed state. There is such an extreme pressure for our lives to be perfect: to be invited to and enjoy parties, to have the perfect family to share the day with, reconnect with those long-lost friends and do it all in the perfect home that is filled with luxurious food. In short: The ‘festive’ season is Instagram coming to life and forcing you to apply a filter so that it all looks amazing.

The festive season is an absolute nightmare of forced perfection.
So, how do you get through it when life is hard enough without all this added pressure?
The answer to this question will be unique to everyone, so the key is to find your own strategy.
I will try to provide some key strategies that can help you. Please do add your own, as you might just help out someone else that feels like you.

Don’t linger in Christmas past.
I tend to do this. My biggest dread about Christmas is remembering how wonderful it used to be. Decorating the tree together with my partner and/or friends, drinking hot chocolate after ice skating, relaxing by the fire with the family. I am constantly recreating my past in better and brushed up ways. I brushed away the tension, the fights, and in my mind Christmas past is the best time in the world. Also, it is a Christmas that will never return, ever. I invented the best form of self-torture in the world.
The first strategy is to let go of the past. The past has passed, and it will not return. If someone died or left you, they will not be there to open presents or cut the meat. However hard you want them to. You will have to face this and try and move forward. Your whole being might scream ‘I can’t’, but I promise you: you can. You’ve made it so far, you are pretty incredible and deserve to be in a good place.

Be honest about your feelings.
I used to go around and lie about ‘yes, I’m looking forward to Christmas’, at least three times a day. Each time in my mind remembering how I really was not.
This is what we do, every person that dreads Christmas lies about it. Not only does it make you feel that you are the only one not looking forward to the whole ordeal, it also prevents you from meeting others that might feel the same.
I stopped lying. I do not care that people feel uncomfortable in the knowledge that they have a friend that feels terribly lonely and like a failed human being every Christmas. Yes, it does mean that several ‘friends’ avoid me like the plague come December. Guess what? Not real friends!
Since ‘coming out’ I have found several people that feel my pain, and that have come forward and shared their story about feeling too pressured. It helps having someone near that says, ‘let’s do this thing then’, with suitable discontent.

Practice mindfulness and learn how to deal with anxiety.

I breathe in and making my whole body calm and at peace.
I am breathing out and making my whole body calm and at peace.

Whenever things get hard, I repeat the above mantra in my head as I breathe in and out.
I only takes a few breaths and I am back.
You can do this little exercise anywhere anytime, in a busy shop, at the train station, if you wake up drenched in sweat in the middle of the night.

Other things that might help:
– Petting a dog or other pet (go visit a shelter if you don’t have your own pet, plenty to pet there, and it’ll get your mind off things)
– Exercise, go outdoors if weather permits and get some vitamin D
– Find a creative outlet, doodle or paint or write poetry
– Write it out, find a notebook and write down everything you feel, even your deepest feelings, no shame and no holding back, you will be surprised how much strength you find in yourself after you look at all the stuff you carry in your soul and deal with on a daily basis
– My personal favourite: Hard rock / metal music, really loud, let your body move in whatever way it wants and scream at the top of your voice. Of course…I do not live in an apartment.

Find your own niche, think of something you really enjoy doing and start doing it!

Avoid triggers.
If you know that those commercials showing the ideal Christmas wind you up, turn off the tele and watch a movie online or read a book. If you feel pain walking through a busy shopping street, then don’t walk through a busy shopping street.
If your social media makes you feel inadequate, log out.
If you can’t stand pretending you are in good cheer in a pub surrounded by drunk people, then don’t go or leave the moment those negative feelings kick in.
As a society we have build in this weird concept of doing stuff that really hurts ‘because it makes you stronger’. Stop that behaviour right now, give yourself permission to go home, cuddle up under a blanket and have a little cry. Then get up and make yourself a cup of tea, and if needed call or text a friend or the Samaritans (https://www.samaritans.org/branches).
If you are more comfortable in an anonymous setting, find an online support group (https://www.dailystrength.org/groups).

Find the things that you do like and build your own Festive season.
If you do like how people become very charitable around the Christmas season, find a volunteer opportunity. Shake a bucket or work in a soup kitchen for a day. What is in it for you is that you will feel that you have something worthwhile, and that helps your feelings of self-worth.
If you do love a good pudding, make yourself your favourite one, spend time perfecting it and then only share if you feel like it.
If you do like singing, find a place where people meet to sing together.
Start rebuilding your festive season, filling it with the things that you love.

Remember that it’s only a couple of days.
With the lead up starting 3 months before date, it can feel like the nightmare never stops.
Just keep reminding yourself it’s only a couple of days. Soon it’ll be January and this episode will have passed, with nothing but a half-price sale to remind us.

I hope that some of the above will help you. If you do feel like talking, contact me.

Namaste

How do you become ‘Interfaith’?

I had a very brief conversation with someone last weekend, which kept me thinking all throughout this week. I met this very kind lady who gave me and a friend a lift to the train station. Earlier that day I had seen her perform in a choir, singing interfaith songs.
I assumed she was a fellow minister, and asked her when she was ordained. To my surprise she explained she is not a minister, but does consider herself interfaith.

This really made me think about my own spiritual journey. I remember starting the interfaith seminary and realizing ‘I am home’. Not home in the seminary, or the organization organizing the training for me, but I felt home spiritually.
From a young age I had been looking at different traditions and looked into whether specific traditions would suit me. Not 1 religion felt right to me though, mainly to do with the fact that I am a very liberated and outspoken woman that sees herself equal to any man. I saw in so many religions that the essence was beautiful, but it was being spoiled by people putting rules to it. Mainly rules that makes men and women unequal to each other or makes followers of a specific religion better than those that don’t follow it. I have a thing about inequality and about people that consider themselves better and more spiritual than others.
Long story short, I found Interfaith, signed up for the seminary and found my spiritual niche.

The question is: How does one ‘become’ interfaith without following an intensive course and being ordained as a minister?
It’s a question which is very hard to answer. Interfaith is not a religion. It does not have specific scripture or a prophet to follow. It doesn’t have congregations that gather every week in a temple of sorts. There is no baptism or ‘conversion’ to Interfaith. In fact, most ministers find being an Interfaith minister a very individual journey.

For me, there are a few things that define being ‘Interfaith’, and they are to be found in the ethics of the One Spirit organization.
I aim to keep my heart and mind open to everyone, celebrating difference but not separation.
For me this really is the foundation of my being. Accepting everyone for who they are, celebrating the fact that the world is a garden with many different things growing in it, each having its own purpose in our magnificent ecosystem.
I recognise that all paths emphasise the importance of honesty, love for the self and love for the other. Regardless of how certain individuals use religion and spirituality to gain power over the self and others, I recognise that this is not the essence of what religion teaches us. I am committed to find the true essence in spiritual paths.
I understand that my spiritual unfolding is an ongoing process, and dedicate myself to continually deepen my personal spiritual practice, understanding of different faith paths.
I dedicate for my service to be grounded in an authentic and evolving spiritual life.

One thing I care for personally is the interfaith dialogue. To create understanding and dialogue between those of different spiritual backgrounds. We are all just walking each other home.

Anyone who commits themselves to learn about different faith paths and who seeks understanding about their own spirituality, accepting themselves and others just as much in their difference as communality in my opinion is serving the Interfaith cause. Regardless of their spiritual background.

Of course, all of this is just my opinion.

Namaste!

10 of my favourite spiritual poems

I have a great love for poetry. I therefore love the Sufi tradition of using poetry to express our relation to the divine.
In this post I share 10 of my favourity spiritual themed poems. They are from poets of different spiritual and religious backgrounds, but are all expressing something about the poet’s relationship to the divine.
I would love to hear about your favourite poem!

1. God Says Yes To Me by Kaylin Haught:

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

2. Requests by Digby Mackworth Dolben

I asked for Peace—
My sins arose,
And bound me close,
I could not find release.
I asked for Truth—
My doubts came in,
And with their din
They wearied all my youth.
I asked for Love—
My lovers failed,
And griefs assailed
Around, beneath, above.
I asked for Thee—
And Thou didst come
To take me home
Within Thy Heart to be.

3. Unlearn and learn by Sri Chinmoy
#1203 from Ten thousand flower-flames

Anything that binds you,
Unlearn it.
Anything that blinds you,
Unlearn it.
Anything that limits you,
Unlearn it.
Anything that awakens you,
Learn it.
Anything that liberates you,
Learn it.
Anything that fulfils you,
Learn it.

4. Do not stand at my grave and weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

5. Turmoil in your hearts by Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi

Were it not for
the excess of your talking
and the turmoil in your hearts,
you would see what I see
and hear what I hear!

6. Guardian Angel by Rolf Jacobson

I am the bird that knocks at your window in the morning
and your companion, whom you cannot know,
the blossoms that light up for the blind.

I am the glacier’s crest above the forests, the dazzling one
and the brass voices from cathedral towers.
The thought that suddenly comes over you at midday
and fills you with a singular happiness.

I am one you have loved long ago.
I walk alongside you by day and look intently at you
and put my mouth on your heart
but you don’t know it.

I am your third arm and your second
shadow, the white one,
whom you don’t have the heart for
and who cannot ever forget you.

7. Pygmy (Zaire) Chant, author unknown

In the beginning was God,
Today is God,
Tomorrow will be God.
Who can make an image of God?
He has no body.
He is the word which comes out of your mouth
That word! It is no more,
It is past, and still it lives!
So is God.

8. The Moon of Your Love by Muhammad Shirin Maghribi

Not a single soul lacks
a pathway to you.

There’s no stone,
no flower —
not a single piece of straw —
lacking your existence.

In every particle of the world,
the moon of your love
causes the heart
of each atom to glow.

9. I have no name by Jiddu Krishnamurti

I have no name,
I am as the fresh breeze of the mountains.
I have no shelter;
I am as the wandering waters.
I have no sanctuary, like the dark gods;
Nor am I in the shadow of deep temples.
I have no sacred books;
Nor am I well-seasoned in tradition.
I am not in the incense
Mounting on the high altars,
Nor in the pomp of ceremonies.
I am neither in the graven image,
Nor in the rich chant of a melodious voice.
I am not bound by theories,
Nor corrupted by beliefs.
I am not held in the bondage of religions,
Nor in the pious agony of their priests.
I am not entrapped by philosophies,
Nor held in the power of their sects.
I am neither low nor high,
I am the worshipper and the worshipped.
I am free.
My song is the song of the river
Calling for the open seas,
Wandering, wandering,
I am Life.
I have no name,
I am as the fresh breeze of the mountains.

10. Secretly we Spoke by Rumi

Secretly we spoke,
that wise one and me.
I said, Tell me the secrets of the world.
He said, Sh… Let silence
Tell you the secrets of the world.

The Ultimate Answer

Age is just a number, right?
Of course! Unless you turn 42 and are a big HHGTTG fan 😊
(Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, if you haven’t read it, please do!)

42 is a very special age. Obviously today I AM the answer to life, the universe and everything.
Besides playing a significant role in one of my favourite books of all time, 42 is a magical number in more cultures and religions. J. Boehme calls this number “the Sky, place of the divine desire”.

According to the Kabbalah not only did God use the number 42 to create the universe, everyone has forty-two “stops” to make on their way to personal spiritual completion, for which they were put here on the earth. What that forty-second level will look like for each person will be different, but it means the same thing for all of us: Spiritual completion. The completion that comes from the two becoming one, the completion of a mission of creation.

4 stands for the elements Fire, Water, Earth and Air, and 2 stands for Spirit and Matter.

In ancient Egypt it was said that once a spirit wanted to pass over, it had to face 42 different judgements before being able to reincarnate.
They were also expected to live by the 42 principles of Ma’at.
Which ones can you tick off?
42 Negative Confessions (Papyrus of Ani)

1. I have not committed sin.
2. I have not committed robbery with violence.
3. I have not stolen.
4. I have not slain men and women.
5. I have not stolen grain.
6. I have not purloined offerings.
7. I have not stolen the property of the gods.
8. I have not uttered lies.
9. I have not carried away food.
10. I have not uttered curses.
11. I have not committed adultery.
12. I have made none to weep.
13. I have not eaten the heart [i.e., I have not grieved uselessly, or felt remorse].
14. I have not attacked any man.
15. I am not a man of deceit.
16. I have not stolen cultivated land.
17. I have not been an eavesdropper.
18. I have slandered [no man].
19. I have not been angry without just cause.
20. I have not debauched the wife of any man.
21. I have not debauched the wife of [any] man. (repeats the previous affirmation but addressed to a different god).
22. I have not polluted myself.
23. I have terrorized none.
24. I have not transgressed [the Law].
25. I have not been wroth.
26. I have not shut my ears to the words of truth.
27. I have not blasphemed.
28. I am not a man of violence.
29. I am not a stirrer up of strife (or a disturber of the peace).
30. I have not acted (or judged) with undue haste.
31. I have not pried into matters.
32. I have not multiplied my words in speaking.
33. I have wronged none, I have done no evil.
34. I have not worked witchcraft against the King (or blasphemed against the King).
35. I have never stopped [the flow of] water.
36. I have never raised my voice (spoken arrogantly, or in anger).
37. I have not cursed (or blasphemed) God.
38. I have not acted with evil rage.
39. I have not stolen the bread of the gods.
40. I have not carried away the khenfu cakes from the spirits of the dead.
41. I have not snatched away the bread of the child, nor treated with contempt the god of my city.
42. I have not slain the cattle belonging to the god.

Or…as Douglas Adams said:
“The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an
ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations,
base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk,
stared into the garden and thought ’42 will do’ I typed it out. End of story.”

Namaste

Walking Meditation

Meditating is great, it relaxes the mind and the body, eases stress, allows us to live in the moment.
There are many ways of meditating. From sitting on the curb drinking a cup of tea, watching the world go by to lying in bed listening to a guided meditation.
None is better than another. The important thing is to find what meditation suits you.

I love walking meditation. Walking meditation is nothing more than walking mindfully.
Being aware of each step I take. Stopping to connect to my environment with all my senses, smelling flowers, looking at the sky, feel the ground supporting my feet, touching a tree.
In my mind I will imagine that I am out and about for the very first time in my life, and everything I encounter is being encountered by me for the very first time.
Most of the time when involved in walking meditation, I walk at a very slow and mindful pace. Sometimes I might pick up the pace, seeing how my feet lift, move forward and go down. Being mindful of the strength my body has, to provide me with the ability to carry on forward.
In general, walking meditation is a place somewhere between utter childlike fun and mystic experience.
There are no prerequisites, you can start right now, just walk out that door and experience your environment.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a buddhist monk who has written a lot about mindfulness, he wrote the following poem on walking meditation:

Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.

Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.

Why not give walking meditation a go?
Let me know how you get on.

Namaste

Do we not have enough religion to love each other?

“We have enough religion to hate, but not enough to love one another”
This Jonathan Swift quote is often used to make the point that religion is no good, as it is just spreading fear and because of that fear: hatred.

Another a quote by Jonathan Swift:
“If a man would register all his opinions upon love, politics, religion, learning, etc., beginning from his youth and so go on to old age, what a bundle of inconsistencies and contradictions would appear at last!”

Jonathan Swift was a dean of st. Patricks Cathedral in Dublin. Though these days people seem to assume that when he spoke about religion, he was speaking about all the different religions in the world.
Fact is that he wrote these words at the beginning of the 18th century. Chances are that he didn’t just logged off his social media and other outlets of clickbait news. The most likely interpretation of Swift’s ‘religion’ is that he was speaking about Christianity. There wasn’t really any other religion bar Christianity around in those days.
What he was saying is that many people he saw were outwardly presenting themselves to be religious (meaning: Christian), but they failed to act from the love that spirituality brings about inside. He wrote sermons on the topic of people turning up in church, just to fall asleep in the benches and not getting anything from the message Swift was trying to teach them.

In my opinion the statement that religion creates division and hatred as opposed to love is not fair on all those billions of good people that are part of a religion.
Around me I see many people that have food drives with their church, who go out and welcome refugees in their midst, and who always have coffee ready for anyone walking into their religious home.

Saying that religion spreads love is not a popular opinion. We collectively do not want to hear it.
We heard about the terrible things happening in the catholic church with regards to abuse of young people and unmarried mothers. We hear daily that Islam is nurturing people that want to kill thousands. In Myanmar Buddhists are even showing cruelty towards Muslims. Where does it all end?

I strongly feel that fear based decisions will only end if we finally connect to love.
How about we start telling each other about the great things that religion has brought us.
Many people will tell you about their personal journey in despair, until they we accepted into a particular faith. Mother Teresa and her sisters of mercy helped many poor. Today many religious buildings are open for anyone as a safe haven, to pray and be heard.
The kindest and most hopeful people I know are part of different organized religions.

Religion to me is a path to God. The path might look completely different for all religious people, but all crave to get closer to the divine. Not one religion at its heart tells its followers to hate, all of them include a message of love. Most people get the love bit, a few don’t. Let’s start focusing on the many instead of the few.

Namaste.

Are you a Villain?

Down in the sodden field,
A blind man is gathering his roots,
Guided and led by a girl;
Her gold hair blows in the wind,
When it is full to the brim,
He wheels it patiently, slow,
Something oppressive and grim
Clothing his figure, but she
Beautifully light at his side,
Touches his arm with her hand,
Ready to help or to guide:
Power and comfort at need
In the flex of her figure lurk,
The fire at the heart of the deed
The angel that watches o’er work.

This is her visible form,
Heartening the labor she loves,
Keeping the breath of it warm,
Warm as a nestling of doves.
Humble or high or sublime,
Hers no reward of degrees,
Ditching as precious as rhyme,
If only the spirit be true.

A beautiful poem, is it not?
Here is something written by the same author:
“It is observed with alarm that the holding of dances by the Indians on their reserves is on the increase, and that these practices tend to disorganize the efforts which the Department is putting forth to make them self-supporting,” “I have, therefore, to direct you to use your utmost endeavours to dissuade the Indians from excessive indulgence in the practice of dancing. You should suppress any dances which cause waste of time, interfere with the occupations of the Indians, unsettle them for serious work, injure their health or encourage them in sloth and idleness.”

Duncan Campbell Scott is the name of this villain. This blog is not written to sour his name, or that of any racist. Let’s be clear: under no circumstance is racism okay. The code of ethics of the One Spirit organisation states: We aim to keep our hearts and minds open to everyone, celebrating difference but not separation. We refuse to marginalise people on the basis of age, disability, state of health, race, gender, nationality, religion, sexuality, economic status or any other distinction.
I fully underwrite this.

This blog is about villains. We all love to hate them.
From very early days, and in nearly all religions and spiritual movements there is good and evil.
The good is called Light, God, Divine, Source energy. The bad is darkness, Devil, demon, negative energy. There are archangels vs. fallen angels. The material world is bad, the spiritual world is good.
Corporations are bad, charities are good.
This dualistic approach to life really makes things simple.

But are things always so clear cut? Of course not!
Duncan Campbell Scott is just 1 example of people that display the dualism that each of us carries inside us. When I first read the poem ‘Labor and the Angel’, I didn’t know anything about the man. In fact, I was going to publish the poem on my poetry blog and just wanted to know a little bit more about him. Since finding out about his actions, I am still loving the poem, but wish it would have been written by someone I can love for his actions.

We all carry good and bad inside ourselves. Yin and Yang and the Hermetic principle of Polarity are two examples where spirituality touches on this matter. Both say that we cannot simply separate good and bad, because they are two sides of the same coin. Where there’s the one, there’s bound to be the other.

It is very natural for any human to fear that part of the self which is not loving, kind and happy. The easiest thing to do is to deny that dark part inside ourselves and when something comes along that reminds us of it, to really make sure that everyone knows how much you hate that and how unacceptable it is. This process is called ‘projection’. We project that what we see as bad inside ourselves onto something external and fight it, so that we can avoid looking at this part of ourselves.

“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely,” Carl Jung said.
Yet, to move forward it is a necessity to look at all aspects of the self and learn to embrace them.
Embracing all aspects of the self will take away the need to seek an external source to kick against.
It will also take away the fear of evil, and as we all know: you can’t fight bad with more bad.
We are all born with free will. So, even with all those bad seeds inside us, we can live perfectly harmonious, kind and loving lives. Because we choose to do so.

So, the next time you are ready to call someone an absolute villain, take a long hard look at yourself and see if there is a part of you that could potentially become that villain would you let it.
If the answer is ‘No’, you’re not looking hard enough.

There is a most interesting Wikipedia page on the subject of good vs. evil, which I can highly recommend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_and_evil

Namaste