Due to unforeseen circumstances the program on June 30, 2015 is cancelled. Kindly accept our sincere apology and pass the information around.
We now have firm dates and a topic for the next four sessions on Eastern Spirituality focused on Hope and Healing. We believe that knowledge and understanding builds compassion.
It would be good if you attended all four sessions. But you may attend any dates that work for you. Bring your friends and family and don’t forget to pass this information around in any form that works.
Peace and Abundant Blessings
Joe Dahlem and Paul CoutinhoPAUL COUTINHO flyer2 2015
I believe that the world can be transformed by simply desiring and praying for peace or just imagining a peaceful world. Your peace ripple will create an ocean of peace.
If you would commit yourself to just 2 minutes a day (or whenever you can) send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kindly spread this message around via email, Facebook or any way you can so that we can have one million people sending out peace energy.
Peace and Abundant Blessings
Are you a Spiritual Predator or a Real Person?
A strange question but one worth pondering. A predator is one who looks for other people or things in order to use, control or harm them in some way. The worst predator is the one who does this in the name of God and religion. In the spiritual life predators are those who indulge in the material things of this world and pleasures of life to find the meaning of their lives and the source of their happiness. Others pursue honor or power. In the process these people not only hurt other people but harm themselves in a deep way.
In the Eastern tradition wealth and pleasure are not only good but necessary in order to experience the fullness of life. The key is finding the right balance or knowing what is enough. When our basic material needs are sufficiently met we can pursue the ultimate goal of our lives which is being totally immersed in intimacy with the Divine.
Similarly, pleasure is the gateway to the mystical world. At the end of our lives, we will be judged on the legitimate pleasures of life we did not enjoy (Jerusalem Talmud: Kiddushin 4:12). Pleasure is the anti-thesis of stress, jealousy, hatred, envy and all negative energy that works as a slow poison within us.
Real people are not perfect and perfect people are not real. They realize their identity in the Divine Essence and experience the interconnectedness of all life; that which affects one of us affects the rest of us. Real people do not get lost in gender, race, nationality or religion but connect with the Divine in every one of us and every part of creation. Schizophrenics, alcoholics and criminals do not exist, rather they see these as persons who suffer from the disease of schizophrenia, alcoholism and persons who commit crime. Real people slowly transition from that which is transient to that which is Eternal; from the anthropomorphic God to a Cosmic Eternal Divinity.
“Death is not extinguishing the light, it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”
Rabindranath Tagore (May 7, 1861 – August 7, 1941)
First non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1913)
Shakespeare believed, “The valiant never taste of death but once” (Julius Caesar II,ii,32-37), but in fact we die many times while we are still alive to prepare for that final passing. The innocence of the child has to die in order to welcome the dawn of adventurous youth. Yet, if we hold on to our youth and adult life, we cannot experience the wisdom and freedom of old age.
We die to the myths and fairy tales of childhood to accept the dawn of philosophies and doctrines. But are we willing to risk dying to all that sustains us at the adult stage in order to welcome the wisdom of the sages? We thus return once again to the mystical and magical life of the child. The Kingdom of God belongs to little children.
We also know that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). The question is how far are we willing to go down ‘the rabbit hole’ to get rid of material, mental, emotional and spiritual clutter so that our lives will bear abundant fruit? We abandon our selfish insecure selves that want to control and direct life; rather we let our authentic Selves come alive and flow with life with the confidence and ease of “the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.”
If we have the courage to extinguish the light of our present way of relating with God and everything that sustains it, we will experience the dawn of an exhilarating relationship with the Infinite Logos – ‘Energy charged with Power,’ the Divine Breath, THAT!
Living a life of compassion without being attached to the outcome is not a method but a way of life. True compassion will help us realize the gift of purification and enlightenment in every painful situation and celebrate the rainbow in the heart through tears in the eyes. We open ourselves to become effective channels for the universe to affect the lives of people and the world; letting go of our ego and flowing with the rhythm of life.
True compassion does not mean that we feel miserable with those who are miserable. If we do, we just add to the misery in this world. It is not a resistance movement seeking justice but true compassion strives to attain peace through reconciliation.
The God that Jesus introduced us to, was the father of the prodigal son, the epitome of compassion. 113 out of 114 chapters of the Quran begin with Bi-Ism-i—Allah al-Rahman, “In the name of God-Compassion!” Al-Rahman is not an adjective or a characteristic of God but the Essence. It is also the Essence of every human being.
Living a life of true compassion enables parents to let go of the outcome of their children, teachers of their students, social workers and health care workers and anyone in a helping relationship to achieving change.
True compassion has the ability to sing, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen; nobody knows my sorrow” and with the same breath sing confidently, “Glory Hallelujah.”
“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.”
Rumi’s insightful thoughts are very challenging. His words are an invitation to live the fullness of life in peace and harmony. They open the door to a deeper spiritual life and the beginning of the mystical. If we let ourselves be drawn into that door our relationship with the Divine will gradually deepen until it explodes into total trust and we are forever drunk in Divine love. It is then that the total acceptance and unconditional love of God becomes an experience and a celebration!
This Divine drunkenness inspires us to die while we are still alive in order to be free from our sacred golden cages — die to the securities that come from material possessions, cultural and religious identities. In dying we are free from the chains of false havens and the transitory aspects of life. We burst forth and become one with a universal culture and turn religion into a dance of life – free from creeds, theologies and dogmas; walls begin to crumble and the whole of creation merges into a kaleidoscope of a Divine symphony. We let go of our sanctuaries and fly on the wings of the Divine power, presence and essence.
Every saint was condemned as crazy before they were canonized saints. Live Rumi’s madness just for a moment or a day and experience the ecstasy of Divine love and Divine life! Even when the ecstasy fades you will remember it as your horizon of life!
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates’ insightful and challenging statement prompts us to check our beliefs against actual facts. The messages that were given to us as little children that affects our self-worth; life experiences that have determined our self-image; social and religious norms that have created separation and hierarchies among people of different nations and cultures; media images, labels and propaganda that instill fear, hatred and prejudice against a group of people.
When Karl Marx exclaimed that religion is the opium of the people he was not condemning religion but the way religion is used to disillusion and manipulate people. This statement reflects how religion is used to sustain the rich and subdue the poor. It is critical of the life style and indomitable security of the religious powers. It condemns wars that are initiated and fought in the name of religion. In the face of ignorance and injustice religion offers a bandage response and renders the smart ones brain dead.
The fruit of the tree of knowledge and consciousness is still forbidden to humans with the threat of punishment, alienation and suffering; our divine and spiritual essence and oneness is covered with external skins that separate us by race, color, religion and a million different ways. The tree of life is now guarded by religion with flaming swords swinging in every direction.
The unexamined life can easily turn into opium that deadens the intellect and the will to respond to the human atrocities all around us. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”