Monday, July 29, 2013

"Created in the image of God"

"Created in the image of God"

I thought I would take a moment to share my spiritual journey pre-enlightenment and post-enlightenment. Enlightenment may be the wrong word, but it sounds better than something else.

I have been Catholic my entire life, and still go to a Catholic Church, but over the past year my mind regarding spirituality has shifted. Through deep introspection and examination I have come to the conclusion that what I used to think about religion, and divinity in general, has, well, changed.

I would say the biggest change is my open-mindedness towards other faiths and belief systems. I have intentionally sought, and found; asked, and received – mostly in religious terms, but also regarding life in general.

I have thought about writing a book about my preconceived notions of Biblical scripture before my awakening and re-examining them after. Spiritual awakening, that’s a good term - probably more appropriate than “enlightenment” for this transformation.

Through my studies and self-reflection I have determined all faiths share one eternal truth – we all contain a soul, spirit, true-self that goes beyond the physical. This Being is immortal and has always been and will always be. It will continue long after we are gone from this Earth. This idea was easy to grasp and straight forward, but it led me to begin asking other questions.

During this journey I began contemplating God, what He is, how He is, where He is, who He is. I looked to the Bible, ancient Hindu texts, the wisdom of Buddha, and others. I found again that no matter what religion someone professes to believe is the truth, they all shared the same answer.

God is eternal. God is everywhere. God always has been and always will be. God is light. God is love. In other words, God isn’t an old man with a white beard. I don’t know how that image came to be, but it’s more appropriate for describing Zeus or some other mythological being.

Before I began this process of searching for answers I probably would have described God as a man with a beard that sits in the clouds. I’m sure many others would as well; and probably still do. I, on the other hand, have completely transformed my vision of God.

Today I view him as an invisible source of energy that fills the universe – creator of all that is seen and unseen. This realization led me to pursue this path further. While in meditation one morning a question and ultimately an answer came to mind. The question was based on an accepted theological question by many spiritual teachers, scholars, and believers.

It originated from a simple, yet profound, Bible verse. I thought about my revelation of what God is, and it reminded me of the Book of Genesis. Specifically, Genesis 1:26-27. Genesis states:

1:26 And he said: "Let us make Man to our image and likeness..."  
1:27 And God created man to his own image; to the image of God he created him; male and female, he created them."

Knowing what I know God to be, if we are created by God in his image, then we must be an eternal, spiritual, all-loving being also. However, if we look at this from a worldly view we may differ. So in essence, to rectify this situation, we can’t look at ourselves from a purely worldly view.

In other words, we aren’t what we see. We aren’t what we do. We aren’t what we experience. We are more than that. We aren’t our bodies. If we we’re truly created in God’s image than God would have to look like us. God would have to be a human-like being. Maybe this is where the notion of an old man with a white beard originated. I now realize this is a superficial representation of God; however, like I stated before, one that many still have. And sadly, one that many still preach.

If God is light and love and all these other great things we must be that too. And if God is eternal, we must be that too, at least to some degree. And if we look like God - and God doesn’t look like a human being – than our true self, the image God created must not look like a human being either.

So what is our true self that looks like God? It would have to be our spirit, soul, or whatever word you choose to describe that. I feel like I have unlocked this amazing secret. I call it a secret because it wasn’t blatantly told to me before. I feel like I was lead to believe all these things about what God is and what we are and none of it was true. I don’t know if I misinterpreted the information, the facts were misrepresented, or if those teaching and preaching haven’t yet realized the truth.

Either way, I know feel confident that I know who I really am and what God really is. I see myself now as looking at things on a deeper level than before. Not accepting things just because I was told to by someone else. It brings a whole new meaning to the words “seek and ye shall find. Ask and ye shall receive.”

I want to re-iterate, maybe all along I was just confused on what was being said. I wonder if other people feel like they are actively being taught the version of my pre-Spiritual Awakening or the post-Spiritual Awakening. I’m curious if other people agree or disagree with my new stance on this issue.

I really wonder now if other people are actively searching, or just accepting. I really hope others are seeking, asking, and ultimately finding. I know that I am just at the beginning of this incredible journey, but I am looking forward to where it ultimately leads.

How do you know if you are right if you don’t know what others believe? 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tourist of the Year - Competition submission letter

Why should I be the Tourist of the year?

I find it hard to believe anyone over the course of the past year has been more of a "tourist" than I. I recently quit my job to spend a year experience as much of the world as I could. I already had 23 countries and 5 continents to my credit, but I wanted to take time to see more while I am still young and able.

I loved the Lord of the Rings movies and was inspired by the scenery to the country for myself. In addition, Australia and Antarctica were the last two continents on my list to visit. Antarctica being very expensive and virtually inaccessible in the months of June and July, I decided I'd visit New Zealand. Being so close I figured I would take the short flight to Sydney as well.

My brother and myself spent 63 days traveling throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand and 3 1/2 days in Sydney. It was winter time in the Southern Hemisphere so temperatures in New Zealand ranged from 9 degrees Fahrenheit to the low 50s, the further north we went. Due to expenses and part of the adventure we chose to camp virtually the entire time. Luckily we had very warm sleeping bags, but some of the nights were terribly cold, rainy, and windy. It must have rained 90% of the time, but it never put a damper on our spirits or our adventure.

We had some amazing adventures. We did paragliding in Queenstown, a 3 day kayaking trip in Abel Tasman National Park, a 17 mile trek across the Tongariro Crossing - the real "Mt. Doom." We also did an awesome caving experience in the Waitomo Caves. It was essentially walking down a river, in the dark, underground. It began with a 100 meter abseiling into a cavern, followed by glow worms, rushing cold water, and a few hours of repelling down waterfalls. It was one of the best experiences of my life. We then continued our journey by rafting down the Kaituna River. The river itself is very calm and relaxing, except for the fact that there are waterfalls along the way varying in size from a few meters, to 7 meters - 21 feet. It is the highest commercially rafted falls in the world. It was a highlight of my trip. Initially not planned, but time and weather altered our plans, and we made a go at it. There were no regrets whatsoever.

These were just some of the countless highlights we experienced during our time in New Zealand. I can't wait to go back.

We spent a few days in Australia visiting the beautiful and friendly city of Sydney and the surrounding Blue Mountains. It was time well spent. The peaceful of Sydney was refreshing. Next time I will need to dedicated a few months to explore more of this wonderful country.

I returned to the US unemployed. Thoughts crossed my mind to look for full-time work, but I wasn't ready to go down that path. In the meantime I stumbled across a photo contest on Facebook presented by Etihad Airways in partnership with Vayama. The contest was to submit your best travel photo. I had the perfect shot. While visiting New Zealand my brother brought a small chain, with a gold ring attached.

After completing our journey over the Tongariro Crossing we were watching the sunset on the mountains in the distance. He pulled out his ring and asked me to hold it over the mountain. It gave the impression that I was dropping the ring into Mt. Doom. The mountain was very small in the distance, while I was a larger presence in the foreground. It was great.

I submitted the photo and after months of voting by family, friends, relatives, and strangers I ultimately won. The grand was two tickets on Etihad Airways to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. I started making plans immediately, but due to funds my brother needed to work a little longer to make enough money to go along. Although the flights were covered, the rest of the trip wasn't. I was planning to visit multiple countries in the area since I didn't know when I would have the chance to return. I put the planning on hold, but still had my intentions.

Over the Christmas and New Year's Holiday my family wanted to go on a cruise. We did some research together and decided on a Norwegian Cruise to Mexico, Belize, and Honduras. Our rist stop was at the port of Costa Maya, Mexico. We visited the Mayan Ruins. Our next destination was Belize City, Belize. During our short stop we did cave tubing in Central Belize. It was a very good experience and a lot of fun. Nothing like anything I had done before throughout all of my travels.

Next we went to Roatan, Honduras. We spent the day at a local beach snorkeling. Our final destination was Tulum, Mexico where again we saw Mayan Ruins and a beautiful beach. I had never been on a cruise before,  but overall it was an enjoyable experience. It was much more relaxed and laid back than the fast-paced action packed traveling I am accustomed to, but I think given the chance every true tourist must go on the ultimate "tourist trap" - a cruise. I most likely won't be doing one again anytime soon - too expensive for such little return, but it was nice.

A few months passed and I was ready to embark on my trip to the Middle East. The plan was to visit Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain, and Jordan. I had been to Dubai before and loved the city. This was the perfect opportunity to return for a few days. Qatar was chosen because it was near by, a very safe country where I could learn about Islamic culture without fear of persecution or terrorist threats, and it is an up and coming country in terms of wealth and prosperity. They are hosting the World Cup in 2022 and I didn't want to wait that long before my chance to see this beautiful country.

Bahrain was also chosen because of it's safety, location, and relative ease of travel. We were stopped at the airport for over an hour while our passports were investigated. I was thinking we would be told we couldn't come in, but luckily they sent us on our way. There was a lot more history, especially Biblical history than I was aware of. We visited the supposed Tree of Life, from the Garden of Eden. I must say, it was in the middle of a very hot, windy, desert surrounded by oil wells. Not what I would expect for a Tree of "Life." It was a great experience though. I should mention, we rented a taxi for the day that drove us all over the country to various sites of interest. Amazingly, he had no clue where half the things we wanted to see were. We must have gotten lost half a dozen times, but it was all part of the adventure. Trying to navigate that country in our own car would have been a nightmare.

Our last stop was Jordan. It was the last place we went, and the last place I researched. Had I been aware of all the awesomeness that is Jordan, I would have allotted more time. The 4 days we had wasn't nearly enough. The highlights included Wadi Mujib - canyoning in a desert with sheer sandstone cliff walls - a beautiful hike. Probably the highlight of the trip for me. We also went to important Biblical sites such as Bethany Beyond the Jordan - where Jesus was baptized, Mt. Nebo - where Moses was shown the Promised Land, the Dead Sea - the water is disgustingly gross and burns every part of your body, but the floating was amazing. And lastly, Petra of course. It was much larger than I had been expecting. Thankfully the weather was perfect while we explored this vast complex. The rest of the trip it wasn't so pleasant. Temperatures in the 100's everyday. How people live there is insane.

We were being cheap on a few occasions and chose to walk rather than take taxis. We made that mistake the first time we went to Dubai and apparently didn't learn our lesson. Walking in the mid-afternoon in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, and Bahrain is not recommended, which is probably why so many of the locals stay indoors, hang out in malls, movie theaters, and museums. At night it's a different story, everyone comes out in droves.

Personally, I love Middle Eastern cultures. Many people have a backwards view of this region based on the media's portrayal, but the true Islamic Culture and people of this region are fascinating. One of my favorite places to visit. And the women are beautiful.

I was back from the Middle East and within days planning my next adventure. I had just spent time in a very hot, dry location, and the Texas summer was fast approaching. Three of the last four summers I spent in the southern hemisphere - South America, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, and New Zealand/Australia and wanted a return to a cooler climate. My destination of choice - Iceland.

I went there with the hopes of learning about viking culture, the impact of volcanoes and glaciers on this tiny island. Instead I learned the unreal belief by many Icelanders in trolls, elves, little people, Christmas yule lads, hidden people, and a plethora of other fairy tale characters. It was a very eye opening experience. Not to mention the landscape is rugged, yet beautiful. It is a magical real life fairy tale land. It took some convincing, but staying strong in my intention I was able to convince my family to join me. In general I travel with just my brother since we have similar tastes and the same adventurous spirit, but having traveled so much already in the past year I needed some help with funding. Actually, my brother did, but I didn't mind either.

The flights were reasonably priced, but rental cars were ridiculous. To offset costs and to help with the convincing process I decided we would camp the whole two weeks as we traversed the Ring Road. After persistence I was able to convince my sisters, mom, and eventually my dad into joining the adventure. One of my sister's boyfriends joined as well.

We had our team of 7 ready to go. We saw some amazing sites - countless beautiful waterfalls, fjords, glaciers, volcanoes, and other worldly features. Along with the knowledge of Icelandic culture, history, and sagas the entire experience was perfect. Sadly two weeks wasn't enough time. Next time I go I will be planning a month or more, that's really the only way to be a true tourist.

In total I went to 11 countries in the past year, 8 of which I had never been to, and 4 continents. I am the "Tourist of the Year." The things I have seen, learned, and experienced has opened my eyes to a whole new world. In reality I am not a tourist. Tourists by definition only see and do, but are never fully immersed in a new culture, but instead are merely observers stuck in their own habits and lifestyle in a new country. I like to think of myself as more than a tourist, as an active visitor and contributor. Someone that wants to experience, but also learn. With this knowledge I like to shed light on the truth and use my stories to influence others to have an open mind and heart and to see for themselves the true beauty that is found all throughout our world.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Truth Is Bliss - Attaining Salvation

Truth Is Bliss - Attaining Salvation

Do you perish into hell if you don’t accept and acknowledge that your inner consciousness, your being, your soul, is part of a Higher Universal Power in this lifetime? What I mean is if you don’t come to the realization of God in this life, will you have a chance to find it in the next life?

Different faiths preach different concepts about this idea. Most Christian faiths believe that it’s not when you accept Christ in your life, but the fact that you do that will ultimately lead to salvation. This makes me wonder – if you don’t accept God in this life does that mean you go to hell? Furthermore, just because someone says they accept Christ in their life, is that enough? In other words, must something be done to show your acceptance, or is faith alone enough?

For example, how do you know if you or someone else really truly accepts Christ? We all sin. We all have doubts about our beliefs from time to time; what is the underlying truth that we have done enough on earth to attain salvation?

In the Bible in Luke 13:23-27 it says,
“Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
“But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
Is Jesus referring to our soul when he says enter through the narrow door? Is he also saying that many will not be able to - either by lack of knowledge or desire? How do we know if we did enough? 

We must actively seek, and ultimately find God in this lifetime to be able to experience His bliss in the next life. It is often said “Ignorance is bliss.” I believe “Truth is bliss.” If we never experience bliss while we are living, how will we be able to when we are not? Is it possible that the soul will not truly know what bliss is and won’t be able to attain this state in the next life? As such, will you be in a torturous state, hell, trying to achieve this feeling?

So how do we attain bliss on earth? Regardless of your faith and what you refer to it as, it is a belief for many that because the soul and God are alike, that a part of God is always in us. Many people, from many faiths, have preached the idea of looking inward for hope, strength, answers, etc. Although not always stated as such, this can be accomplished through entering a meditative or trance-like state.

There are people who believe that the Kingdom of God is a literal place on earth. Others believe it is a metaphorical statement and the Kingdom of God resides in each of us and we can enter this place whenever we choose. This is stated clearly with the following passage in Luke 17:20-21 when Jesus says,

“The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

So, the Kingdom of God is already in us, our soul represents a part of this kingdom. We must acknowledge this truth and attempt to enter it whenever we can. Prayer, meditation, whatever you want to refer to it as all hold the key to this door. 

Again, if we don’t find God now, how can we find him when we are no more?

There are some religions that believe life is a process, for some a never ending process until you reach an enlightened state at which point you reach a state of bliss and truly know God. This is accomplished through the practice of yoga and looking inward to find answers, as stated earlier. This of course is done through meditation, good deeds, and living a just and righteous life. This idea is shared through many cultures in the world, but it may not be said as such.

Should an individual not accomplish this in their lifetime than they will be reincarnated and have another opportunity in the next life. This is a key concept in the Hindu religion.

So, the question remains, must one reach salvation in this lifetime to be saved in the afterlife? According to Hindus should one reach enlightenment through a life of good deeds their soul will be freed from the endless cycle of rebirth and attain moshka. In this state of moshka, an enlightened individual becomes aligned with God. Unlike many misconceptions, the soul doesn’t become God, but becomes closer to Him.

There is the idea that your soul is part of an eternal, universal power. Although the soul is eternal, like God, you will never truly become God, as it is very limited in nature. Imagine a large sheet of fabric. God is the fabric and you are but one strand. You are made from the same cloth as God, but individually you are very limited. 

Even those that don’t attain God in this life, they should still strive to have God-like qualities such as forgiveness, kindness, and love.  By doing so, they will be reincarnated at a higher level than before and continue their path to moshka. Although moshka frees the soul from rebirth, after a very long time a person can be reborn at an enlightened state. Think of Ghandi, Mother Theresa, or others. There are particular ways to reach the blissful, enlightened state of Samadhi through meditation and good deeds, but to go into more detail is beyond the scope of this discussion.

Once Samadhi, a superconcious state of enlightenment is reached, God is revealed. It is at this point that the soul becomes one with God. Again, not God, but one with God. Imagine a candle flame. Although the wick is burning and they appear as one, the candle and the flame are still separate entities.

The benefit of this heightened state is that immense knowledge and power is revealed directly from God to the individual, which must only be used in the service of God to benefit society as a whole. It could be said that Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Rishis, Mohammad, and many others were able to attain this state during deep meditative prayer.  

Going back to the earliest of civilizations the accepted belief was that man was created to please God and do his will on earth. This is true even today of all faiths, even if it is not openly preached continuously.
With billions of people on earth claiming to be faithful followers of God, how can it be said that few will truly know him and enter His kingdom? Is it because most people just pay lip service to their beliefs, but do nothing further? Is it possible that only a few really truly seek beyond the superficial and want to know and experience the truth of this great Universal and eternal source of power? Even those that claim to be the most faithful often times don’t exhibit what that means.

Another problem lies in the fact that many blindly follow without introspection, contemplation, and a true search for knowledge. Many people are afraid of new concepts and ideas that challenge their time tested beliefs. Whether it is fear of the unknown, fear of change, or the possibility that they may have to admit they were wrong is unknown; however, it is true that many people are uncomfortable with the idea of leaving the safety of the box they have created to shield them from potential consequences of their beliefs and actions.

If you choose to accept the belief that your soul is part of God, and everyone has a soul, then inside of you must be God. Many prophets, seers, and religious men of faith have stated repeatedly to look inward to find God. Is that because they know that in your heart resides your soul? And by listening to your inner voice that you are hearing the words of God?

We have all heard the phrase, “Follow your heart.” In this circumstance your heart is the soul, and therefore God, speaking to you about what actions to take next. If we are told to find God we must look inward, are we actually doing that? Or do we believe that God is an old man with a long white beard living in the clouds in a castle? Maybe the problem lies in the fact that we are taught something without truly examining it's merits based on truth, rather than conjecture. Nowhere, outside of fantasy, does any scholar, prophet, or scripture talk of the things we envision in our mind. Rather than mindlessly following an idea, we seek answers for ourselves. 

Do you believe to know God? Saying it, believing it, and doing it are completely different things. If we aren’t actively searching for God now, then when? If we don’t find the true power and beauty of God in this life, then when will we? Faith and good deeds are beneficial, but if we don’t come to know God in our heart, through contemplation and meditation, then have we really achieved anything? If we don’t know what it feels like to connect our soul to God while we are here on earth, will we get that chance another time?

It all comes down to your beliefs. Should you actively search, but never find, if you are a Hindu you believe you will get a second, third, fourth, and however many chances necessary until you accomplish your journey. On the other hand, if you are Christian, Muslim, or Jewish – you only get one life. It is best to start actively searching now rather than waiting until it’s too late. Faith is truly more than words. It is a feeling, a feeling of bliss - a feeling that we should all actively seek to attain. With that comes a new attitude, a new perspective, a new life. 

Keep in mind the following truth. God is bliss or "Heaven". The soul is not bliss. The goal of the soul is to attain bliss. The soul can attain a blissful like feeling, but only by actively seeking and eventually reaching God. You can attain this feeling of bliss through meditation and prayer.

If the soul is not naturally in a state of bliss then how will it know what it feels like if you don't teach it, train it? It is vital that you expose yourself to this feeling as often as you can so that when your soul leaves your body that it is prepared and able to align itself with God in Heaven, whatever and wherever that may be.

How you choose to achieve that is your choice. What you choose to believe is your choice. But to really know and understand God, a choice must be made at some point. It is entirely possible that many people go through life believing they have the answers, become complacent, and no longer seek. These people may be further along the journey and achieved the bliss that is God, but it is entirely more likely that they haven't and as such will never know the truth. 

I just hope they are Hindus so they get a second chance at it. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Quest

The Quest

We are all on a quest through life. As we progress through our journey we determine who we want to have in our life, our family and friends, our preferences and interests, our career, where we live, and how we behave. All of these choices are determined by our beliefs. Even if we don’t believe in God or a Higher Power we still have beliefs. These beliefs are shaped by our experiences.

Because are beliefs have such a profound impact on our life it is important that we understand what are beliefs are, and more importantly, why. For most of us are beliefs were passed onto us by others, such as family, friends, co-workers, or other people that have crossed our path at some point.

As we mature, become exposed to new ideas and concepts, over time are beliefs will most likely change. They may change wildly or a small amount. For some they will never change. They are set in their ways and are unwilling and unable to accept a different perspective. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be confident of your opinions, but sometimes there are other ways of seeing things. When someone becomes so fanatical about their beliefs that they are unwilling to listen or learn about a different point of view they become ignorant.

I asked before and I believe it is important to repeat – how do you know if you are right if you don’t know what others believe? If you truly attempt to search for answers and come to the same conclusion than you can claim to be educated, otherwise you are just closed-minded. There is nothing wrong with seeing what else is out there. You may become stronger in your faith, you may change your attitude towards other faiths, but at the very least you will become more educated.

There is of course the chance that you will change your beliefs altogether. In the end is that such a bad thing? If it brings you closer to understanding truth, which is what we all want to do, than it is for the best.  Some of us have been on this quest for a while, others are just beginning, and some haven’t started yet. We all must begin on our own time when we are ready. When you are ready my hope is that this book will be a great source that you can refer to for answers.

The nature of this book is to open your eyes to the major faiths of the world. I would like to go into as much depth as possible, but due to the complexities involved I have had to limit it. The scope is intended to be an introduction into a brief history of each religion. In addition, my intent is to highlight the differences, while examining the similarities.

My ultimate goal is to inform you, the reader, that even though we may have different customs, we as a faithful community are much more intertwined than we may have previously acknowledged. Although Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists worship in different ways, in the end the ultimate goal is to praise a Higher Power. Whether we call that being God, Yahweh, Allah, or Brahman it is in essence the same. For example, the belief in an omniscient, omnipotent, all powerful and eternal being are common features that will be covered in great detail.

The most important aspect of this book will be to expose the similar aspects of each faith. This will be done by simply presenting the writings from scriptures and analyzing their meaning. Regardless of what we call our sacred texts, whether the Bible, Torah, Koran, or Vedas they all have the same message. The names and stories may be different, but the message is the same - forgiveness, living a moral life, and putting others before ourselves. There are many occasions when you will read a particular set of scriptures and not be able to differentiate the author from one faith to the other except when it is a commonly known phrase.

Beyond these similarities there are many more - from customs, traditions, to rituals. All of these will be discussed in order to better understand their uses and origins. Once again many of these have been passed on through the generations and even shared with other religions.

Of course there are significant differences as well, but more often than not they pale in comparison to the overarching themes of each faith system. To truly present this information in an accurate, informative, and interesting way I have spent countless hours of research by examining the texts, works of other authors delving into the same concepts, and talking to a number of believers from each religion to better understand their interpretations. Many times this meant traveling to distant places around the world – from China to Thailand, from North America to Europe and many places in between. From these events this book was created.

In addition to covering Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism there will be sections related to beliefs of other lesser known groups such as Shamanism, Taoism, and the teachings of Natives in the Americas such as the Inca, Mayans, and various groups in the American southwest.

Throughout these pages will be a consistent theme, which I have alluded to already. Even through all of our differences on the outside, on the inside we are essentially the same. You may not agree with my interpretations on particular instances, but remember to keep an open mind. Just because it may be different than what you have been taught, it doesn’t mean it is wrong. It is just another way of analyzing the information.

Invariably this will happen on occasion. Maybe multiple occasions. These differences are the reason there are so many different religions today. Remember the river analogy before. Each religion is a different river winding its way to the ocean. We are all on the same journey; we just choose to take a different path to get there. It may be because it’s all we have ever known and are unsure of change. It may be that we have educated ourselves and decided on a particular path. Whatever the reason, I hope to share my knowledge through extensive research with you.

Remember too that it would be impossible to discuss the teachings of each variation of each religion. Just as there are many sects of Christianity, there are also varying sects of Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism. Over time the original teachings of each of these have been perverted. My goal will be to discuss the original teachings of each, with exceptions as it relates to Catholicism and Protestantism and Shiite and Sunnis Muslims.

Beyond simply sharing the beliefs of various faiths throughout the world, this book aims to inform the reader of many misconceptions and misrepresentations that have developed over the years. Many of these are due to translating errors, while others are simply a result of biases, closed-mindedness, and plain ignorance.

In the end, as long as you feel like you have attained the knowledge of God, Universe, a Higher Power, or whatever it is you choose to call it, then you have been successful in this life. It isn’t my job to determine if you are worshipping in the proper way, and as all the texts of various religions agree, that is the job of God. We each have our own way of worshipping, and those things are different, but the being we are worshipping is the same. These similarities are what will be exposed in the following pages.

As you progress through this book continually ask yourself the following: “Why do I believe what I believe?” This will hopefully put into context what I hope you will discover. This is a question I have been asking myself all throughout my research. If as I have claimed thus far is true, that all religions teach the same things, why are my beliefs the correct ones? What makes me believe they are right? What makes the others wrong? Is it that these teachings resonate more with me? Is it that I’ve only been exposed to these beliefs? Hopefully I can help answer some of these questions for you and bring you closer to your truth.

One final thought is in order before we begin truly examining the great religions of the world and what and how they teach, preach, and worship. I have decided to begin with Hinduism, as it is the oldest of the religions, followed by Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Lastly, I will finish with the other lesser known religions and how they tie into the overall theme of this book.

I have also decided to add contemporary thoughts on the various religions and their teachings as well from well-known authors and no-name people I have met through my research creating this book. This will become more apparent as you reach the final chapters of this book. My purpose for doing this is to show how through time people’s interpretations of their own beliefs are the same, regardless of where they live, how they worship, and what scriptures they ascribe to. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Out of the Box - Book of Knowledge

Out of the Box


Out of the Box was written with one goal in mind – to seek the truth. Not the truth according to someone else, not the truth according to what I have been told and taught my entire life, but to seek the truth through the acceptance of knowledge passed down from generation to generation.

Many people have found their answer, many people are still looking, and many haven’t even begun their journey. I am on a quest for knowledge. I have always had a burning desire to learn as much as I could, but those goals derived from my want of material possessions. Simply put knowledge that would benefit me and my lifestyle.

I am now searching for something greater. Something that few can explain and even fewer have the ability to explain adequately. I could spend hours talking about my faith and how it has shaped my life, but most of it is irrelevant to where I am now.

I know what I believe; I want to know what others believe. When I was teaching and a student questioned someone else’s opinion I would always ask, “How do you know if you are right if you don’t know what others believe?” I don’t think you can. If you base everything on one idea, one philosophy, one belief, and are closed-minded to a new way, how do you grow? How do you improve?

The true purpose of Out of the Box is to bring to light various teachings from a wide spectrum of religions and faith, both past and present. By examining the beliefs of the great prophets, philosophers, and sages I hope to gain better understanding, while at the same time enlightening you, the reader.

It is vital that there is no judgment of yourself, your current beliefs, or the belief of others. It is best to keep an open mind. Growing up Catholic I always assumed I was right and anyone that questioned me must be wrong. That was until I had suffered an injury playing soccer that led me to seek medical attention after months of suffering.

I went to a local chiropractor and received treatments three days a week. I did my stretches as instructed, but I still never felt like my old self. There was progress, but it wasn’t enough. I felt like there must be some other way. As someone that had just started doing yoga within the past 7 months I thought maybe I could find answers and healing there.

The concept of using a holistic approach to healing was completely out of the norm. I didn’t tend to take medication for my injuries or pains, but I also didn’t think acupuncture was the answer. I began discussing my dilemma with a few of the yoga teachers I had come to know and trust.

I knew eating healthier could help heal me, I knew the yoga poses could help, but even with those there was still something more I needed. I had been exposed to a few new concepts such as meditation, Ayurveda, and other potential approaches to self-healing.

I was recommended a book that completely changed my thinking and my life in general. For some reason it has led me on this journey to learn more. Unlike before, I’m not seeking knowledge for personal gain, but for spiritual gain. It is strange how one thing can lead to something you never expected. I didn’t realize going to yoga would go down the road I am currently on. I thought I was just going to do some stretching, improve my strength, and meet some cute girls. All of those things happened, but they pale in comparison to the door that has opened.

One evening after a vigorous yoga class I was laying in savasana, corpse pose, and had a strange feeling. I had never felt it before. It was as if I was completely relaxed to the point that I was asleep, but I wasn’t asleep. My mind was blank for the first time ever. I could feel, and I knew I was awake, but everything else was surreal. I was in this state of bliss for at least a few minutes, at least that’s what I imagine it was looking back on the experience.

When I came to and regained awareness I felt like I had to literally tell my brain to move my arm, lift my leg, and get up. It was a surreal feeling. Since that time I have felt as though something clicked in my mind. Following that dramatic experience my mind and my heart have opened up. During this time I was doing a yoga class that focused exclusively on opening certain chakra’s, or energy centers in the body.

This process further fanned the fire that was burning inside of me. I felt tension and stress being released from my body, new ideas and concepts I had never thought about before coming into existence. I was becoming a new person inside and out. I was becoming healthier, more aware, more focused.

I still wasn’t sure what was going on. I thought it may have been a side effect of my injury and I wasn’t fully recovered. There would be times where I would be in a state of euphoria for a few minutes and I just wanted to scream for joy. I couldn’t stop smiling. Then I would feel like I was hit with a ton of bricks. My energy and strength plummeted for no reason.

I wanted to constantly be in the state that made me feel positive, happy, and energetic. I began reading more books, most of which dealt with a concept completely foreign to me. The idea that we aren’t our experiences, we aren’t our body, we aren’t what we think about ourselves or others, but instead we are our soul, our inner self. The I AM.

I read three books before I really began to understand what was being presented to me. I felt like I needed to join a book club just to have someone tell me what was going on. I asked everyone I knew that was familiar with this concept what they thought of it, how it changed them, and frankly, what it meant.

All the while I was still feeling in pain and not like my former self. I needed to find a new way to heal. I found my answer through yoga. Not the stretching and poses, although that did help. But instead through the ancient practice that all yoga poses are based on, meditation. I had been doing meditation during one of the classes I attended and felt really good during the process. I was able to reach a feeling of peace, serenity, calmness.

I wanted to have that feeling all the time so I asked for more guidance. I began meditating with the assistance of an audio track that was given to me. After just a few weeks I felt great. I wasn’t 100% yet, but meditating was healing me much faster than any medicine, food, or doctor was doing. I’m convinced meditation was the answer.

During my meditations I began to have new thoughts, deeper thoughts, things I had never even contemplated before. I began to not think at all at times. My breathing became so deep that I felt like I didn’t even need to breathe. I was counting my breaths sometimes once every 30 seconds, and then once every 40 seconds. Eventually I just thought maybe I should breathe just to remind myself I’m alive, but all the while not even feeling it necessary.

This was cool. I liked what was happening. I could see the effects, I could feel the effects, I knew meditation was the answer. But it wasn't the end. All meditating did was lead me down another path - a path that I am currently on. I’m no longer seeking healing, but instead answers - answers to questions that have arisen through meditation, books, experiences, and everything in between.

None of this would have been possible without taking a chance on going to yoga and being exposed to these new ideas. A year ago if you told me the things I am learning about now I would have said you were a stupid hippie. I don’t think of myself as a hippie, but instead as an open-minded, enlightened individual seeking truth.

I recently read a quote that summed up my feelings exactly and the feeling I have when I meet others that disagree with me. I was reading one of the many books I have purchased and in it the author discussed an important figure in his life, Mother Meera, a woman worshiped as a divine mother in India, in his words. In the book she told him simply “The divine is the sea. All religions are rivers leading to the sea. Some rivers wind a great deal. Why not go directly to the sea.”

This is a concept I had believed before and actually came to realize during my enlightened phase through meditation. Sadly I didn't know how to express it so eloquently. It’s not so much how we get there, but that we get there. Some people need to chant, pray, read, perform rituals, and any number of other religious activities to tap into the divine. While others may simply just need to meditate, accept, or change their behavior. Again, it’s not so much how we get there, but that we get there that matters. We all have different needs and beliefs, and that’s fine.

I hope that the words of this book and my experiences will guide you on your own quest and answer your questions. I can’t tell you what to believe. We all have to determine that on our own. But what I can do is provide you with information that shows the similarities and in some cases differences between the major philosophies of our time and the past.

I believe it is extremely gratifying to know that even with all of our differences, we are still very similar.

Chapter 1 - Our Own Little Box

We all live in our own little word, our own little box. We like living in a box – it makes us feel safe, comfortable, and we have control. We choose the home we live in. We choose the furniture we fill it with. We decorate how we want. We organize our little box exactly how we imagine it should look. We choose our car. We choose our job. We may not like the job, but it was our choice.

We choose our friends. We choose our family. We choose our attitude. The box can be our things, but it can also be ourselves – our thoughts. We get to decide what comes in our box and what we remove from our box. We don’t like when people mess with our box, whether that is our emotions or our possessions.
We control every aspect of our box until it is perfect. It may not always be perfect, but that’s what we strive to accomplish. When we feel we have achieved what we set out to do, we add more things to our box.

The box is good. It’s safety. It’s comfort. It’s home. It can also be bad though. By controlling what comes in, we filter certain things that we think might cause us harm. This can be people, items, or even ideas. It’s natural to be uncertain about new concepts, but is that always a good thing?

We don’t live in a hole. A hole is bad. If you live in a hole you are completely shut off from the rest of the world. You have no clue what is taking place in the rest of the world. You have control over what you see and do, you have total control. You have so much control that you are isolated. Sometimes our boxes become like a hole.

We see something, we hear something, we experience something and we judge it. We say it’s good or bad. We make assumptions based on our beliefs and morals. The assumptions may be correct, but without all the facts they may be incorrect.

So, is our box the best place to be? Are we missing out on something by choosing to live with people that think, look, and act like us? Is it possible that we aren’t being exposed to differing points of view? The reason this is important is because you can’t grow as a person if you never have something to strive for or something to answer.

We need conflict, questions; a goal. It improves us emotionally, physically, and yes, even spiritually. If we have always gone to the same church, talked to the same people, and hear the same things, are we really growing? Yes, this helps strengthen our faith, but compared to what?

If we don’t know what else is out there then how can we truly know our faith is correct? Out of the Box addresses this issue. This isn’t intended to convert you to a particular philosophy, theology, or way of life. It is merely to educate. What you do with the education is up to you. It may indeed make you confirm your beliefs, it may make you question them, or it may make you completely change them.

The beauty of it all is that you will finally have all the answers and then be able to make an educated decision. The worst thing in life is making choices without all the facts, and what bigger choice in life is there than your beliefs? For many people it determines your salvation, your lifestyle, and even your friends and family. I can’t think of something more important that you would hope to get right than your faith – whether that is in God, the universe, source energy, or something else.

Throughout the pages of this book you will be exposed to teachings and beliefs that differ from your own, but you will also see teachings and beliefs you are familiar with. Some of them may be from your current belief systems, but some may come from another source. Even though we are all different, we are also all the same.

People want to know the truth. Some seek and find, others seek and never find, but some will never take the first step and seek at all. By examining various faiths and philosophies the answers should present themselves to you. You may have to dig deep within yourself to understand, but it may become apparent immediately. You may get angry, you may be filled with joy, in the end just know that you are on the right track.
We are all in this journey together and will eventually come to realize the answers to all of our questions, whether in this life or the next. Don’t lose hope and don’t lose faith.

Chapter 2 – Beginner’s Mind

During my yoga practice a few months ago I heard the teacher say that “we should have a beginner’s mind when doing a pose, to not judge our experience, or compare ourselves to others” because our bodies are all different. I didn’t really think much of it at the time. To me everything is a competition. If I see someone doing a pose better than me then I push myself to get better, even if it means potential injury or pain. I don’t recommend this approach to yoga and I’m positive nobody else does either. In fact, I’ve heard multiple times to the contrary.

I haven’t heard the term “beginner’s mind” since that time. It wasn’t something I thought about. I guess it didn’t resonate with me at the time or just wasn’t something I cared to contemplate. However, as my yoga and meditation practices have progressed I have become more aware of odd little sayings and their true meaning.

As I was reading a book about the Law of Attraction the author mentioned having a beginner’s mind. She too practices yoga. It must be a yoga concept. So it got me thinking - what is a beginner’s mind? More importantly, why have one? Beginners are usually uneducated, unskilled, or skeptical. But there is also the other side to the equation.

Being a beginner can be a good thing. It means you are unbiased, open-minded, and willing to learn. 

Why is a beginner’s mind important in regards to faith? Because for most of us that’s exactly what we have – a beginner’s mind. We are uniformed about other’s beliefs. Somehow we have determined that we are correct and they are wrong even though we don’t have a clue what they believe. If we approach each lesson with a beginner’s mind, an open mind, we may learn something new. It might be something we had never considered before. It might be something we agree with. It might even change our thoughts about ourselves and others.

Learning about the customs and beliefs of others can put a new perspective of how we view people that are different than ourselves. It opens a whole new world. Being open minded doesn’t mean we have to agree with their teachings, just accept them.

Often times people use the phrase “I respect your opinion” or “I accept your beliefs,” but do we really? If you truly accepted them you’d start believing them. Most likely that isn’t the case, and that’s fine. You don’t have to agree with everyone and that’s not the purpose of a beginner’s mind. It’s just about being open to the concepts and having a better understanding of them so that when it comes time to make a determination you have all the facts.

Another great quality of a beginner’s mind is non-judgment. You can’t change something you don’t understand. You also can’t judge something just because it’s different. Even with all of our differences – our appearance, our customs, our language, our lifestyles – we still aren’t that different from one another.  

As you read through these pages keep an open mind without judgment. Understand that something you don’t agree with isn’t necessarily wrong. It may just be wrong for you. We are all on a quest for truth sometimes we just have to take a different route to get there.

If faith means praying in silence in the solitude of your home and that makes you feel closer to that higher power, whether you refer to it as Source, God, Spirit, or some other name, than that’s ok. If it means going to a synagogue each week that’s perfectly fine too. If you think praying to Mecca multiple times a day, or praying the rosary, or following a certain way of life will bring you closer to God than that is great also.

We each get to determine what brings us joy in our lives and solace in our heart. How we get there isn’t important, it’s the fact that we arrive. Again, as you read understand that many of the concepts may be familiar to you while others may be completely new. You may even find that although said differently, worshipped differently, preached differently, in the end all faiths rely on the same basic concepts and teachings. 

I often times tell people that “to learn you must listen, to listen you must be silent.” The same is true for this book. If you are seeking truth, answers to your questions, then you must truly listen. You must be silent. Don’t judge, accept, understand. You may learn something.

There may be times while progressing on this search for truth, for knowledge, that you become uncomfortable with a particular subject. Something may contradict your beliefs. It may make you rethink something. You may have questions. Most likely all of these things will happen at some point. You can’t change it so don’t get hung up on it, frustrated, or upset. It is what it is. When you are ready to accept the truth the answers will come to you.

Rather than rush to judgment just remember the famous words of John Lennon – “There will be an answer. Let it be.” At this point you will know that your quest for truth is over. You will have inner peace and be ready and willing to share it with the world. 

Chapter 2 - Christianity
Chapter 3 - Judaism
Chapter 4 - Islam
Chapter 5 - Taoism
Chapter 6 - Buddhism
Chapter 7 - Hinduism
Chapter 8 - Shintoism
Chapter 9 - Confucism
Chapter 10 - Greek, Roman, Egyptian Mythology
Chapter 11 - Incan, Mayan, Native American Mythology

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Out of the Box

Out of the Box - Stillness

Your heart is your source of energy. It pumps the blood to your body and keeps you alive. Your breath is your connector to your vital organs and proves you are alive. As Jesus said “I am the bread of life.” Was he telling us that he wasn’t what we see on the outside, but what we feel on the inside? Our soul, our breath, the I AM voice?  Is Jesus saying that he, God, is the breath in all of us?

We all have access to this “I AM” if we choose. The inner being, our soul, can be tapped into through silent meditation and listening. In this instance we delve into the gap, which is silence. This is the voice of God. It is from nothingness that we are able to create.

So this brings me back to my question, is God in us? Is our I AM, our source of energy, our true self, our soul, God?

We talk to ourselves when we pray in silence. Only we can hear, but for those that believe in God we believe He hears as well. Could it be that when we pray the God that hears is the God in all of us – our I AM, the source of our energy and all-knowing being that creates our reality? That knows everything we see and do. 

Psalm 46:10 states “Be still and know that I am God.” In this stillness, this quiet place, we access God fully. Therefore, in meditation we reach stillness. In this stillness we reach God. That quietness - that is God. The silence - that is God. During this time of quiet stillness – the gap between thoughts – we come to know God.   Since we have looked inward to seek God, is God in us or do we merely access Him through introspection of ourselves?

I feel like meditation is leading me on a spiritual quest for truth. I wasn’t expecting that to be part of the process or why I started meditating. For those that meditate – do you feel like you have had a similar experience?

I am open-minded and respect the opinion of others enough to know that I am not always right. Many people say they are a follower of Jesus, but many people through time have preached similar and even identical concepts across all religions and faiths.

Are you a follower of them too? Why does Jesus stand out in your mind above the rest? Is it because he said he was God on earth? Is it all you have been exposed to? There must be some reason why Jesus takes precedence over the other great philosophers that came before and after Jesus.

Do you believe God is in you? For example, is the I AM, your soul, your true self, the voice in your head – God? You can connect with this spiritual realm through meditation when you enter the gap and achieve silence. If you must go within to connect, is God therefore inside of you? Is he the breath you breathe?
If we are truly created in his image, does that mean that have God as part of our being? Not that we are God, but that we are connected to him through our soul?

Is the overall theme of Jesus’ teachings that you must go inside yourself to truly know God? Is that possibly why Jesus says he is God? Is the I AM - God in all of us - and we must follow his example to understand this concept according to Christian teachings?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. I’m not sure anyone does, but that’s what I’m seeking to answer. 

Monday, February 11, 2013



What is God? Who is God? Where is God?

These are questions that mankind has asked for millennia. The evolution of the concept of God has progressed for generations. Thousands of years ago humans believed there were thousands of Gods. The Greeks, the Romans, the Hindus, the Sumerians, and many more civilizations believed that each event that occurred was the result of a God or Goddess.

With the rise of the teachings of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam the idea of one God became prevalent. Even still the questions still arise: What is God? Who is God? Where is God? With that there come many more questions. For example, why is God? How is God? Is God everywhere? Is there a heaven, a hell, an afterlife?

Religious leaders try to answer these questions with scripture, historical events, miracles, and a multitude of other sources. But do they really know? Does anyone know? When you ask your friends what they believe they may respond, “I am a follower of Jesus.” What does that mean? Do you know? Do they know? What did Jesus preach? We can read the Bible and historical texts from Jesus’ life, but what was he really saying?
As I meditate these questions plus many more come to mind. I don’t know why I have these thoughts or where they originate, but they are there. I have always felt confident in my beliefs and teachings of my church, but over the past few months I have been having a lot of questions in regards to what I thought I knew.

I have read scripture, I listen to the priest and the words of God every Sunday, but I’m not sure I really understood their true meaning. I have been told what they meant, but never actually analyzed the words for myself. I have never believed that many of the stories in the Bible should be taken literally, but I also didn’t delve deep enough to fully understand the concepts being preached. I thought I knew, but now I’m not sure.
All of this second guessing, questioning, pondering has come about through meditation. I thought I was meditating for health benefits, peace of mind, calm, not to embark on a spiritual quest for truth, but that is exactly where I find myself today.

I have been reading every book I can get my hands on for the past 3 months dealing with metaphysics, self-awareness, awakening. I’m not sure how I got to this point, but now I am fascinated with the subject. I feel like I am getting very close to fully understanding the whole idea of God on a deeper level.
You know those people that say “I was saved when I was 7. I felt the Holy Spirit in me.” I never believed those people. I didn’t even know what that meant or how that felt. I think they just wanted to be accepted by their peers and thought it was the thing to do. Maybe they had some spiritual awakening, but I’m not sure it’s what I’m experiencing right now.

I believe what I have discovered is on a much deeper level, but maybe I have just finally arrived at the place they found long before me. I don’t really know and it doesn’t really matter. I am still far from knowing the truth, but I’m sure I’m on the right track.

While I was meditating one afternoon I had an epiphany. I have been having a lot of epiphanies lately, but this one in particular stood out for me so I made a note of it. I was recently reading a book, “The Power of Awareness,” and in it the author discussed the idea of assumption. The Law of Assumption is similar to the Law of Attraction.

Essentially the Law of Assumption states that you must see yourself living the live you dream. In other words, assume that what you imagine is reality. By doing this, having these vivid thoughts, it will eventually become your reality. If you want a new job, new home, new girlfriend, etc. then you must first imagine it so and then it will become so.

The Law of Assumption states that creation is already completed. Everything you experience was created long ago. Your reality is just manifesting based on your thoughts. If you don’t like your reality simply change your thoughts. As long as you believe it fully then it will be.

This idea has completely changed my thoughts. I always thought if I wanted something I should ask God and if it was meant to be it would be. At the same time though I always believed that if I wanted something bad enough it would come to pass. I have had experience with both circumstances, but if I really think about it the things I ask God for are things I really want to happen, therefore, it happens.
So that concept got me thinking. If I can simply imagine something and it happen then what role does God play in this? To make things more confusing I have been reading a lot of books that discuss the idea of source energy and the “I AM” concept.

Source energy is easy to understand. It’s the idea that there is energy all around us and within us. We are energy. We are matter, and matter is energy. We are made up of trillions of tiny particles moving very quickly which have bonded together to form our solid body. This source energy can be shared with everything in our universe. Those people that bring light into a room when they walk in, they have energy. You feel the energy radiating from their bodies and it makes you happy. You probably experience this most with people you know and care about.

Every culture has a word for this source energy. Christians, Muslims, and Jews call it God. The Chinese refer to it as Chi. Hindus call it prana. Energy is derived from your breath, which comes from your inner self. This inner self is your soul. The soul is the “I AM.”

What is I AM? It is the real you. Not your experiences, not your thoughts, it’s the voice telling you that you are having thoughts. It is your subconscious. The I AM was created before you were born and will be here after your body has died. It is infinite. It will always be and always has been.
After your body is gone your energy, your soul, your I AM, will return to the universe. Maybe it will go to Heaven, maybe it won’t. Maybe you will become one with the universe and your energy will be forever floating through space and time. I really have no clue at this point. All I know is that the answer is somewhere and I am seeking the answer.

As the Bible says “Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find.” I am asking, and I am seeking. I hope to know the answer at some point. If we take a step back and analyze this scripture what is it really saying? Is this justifying and revealing the truth in the Law of Assumption? If we ask for something and imagine it, does that mean we will receive it? Is seeking truth the first step in finding the answer?

Those are things to ponder. Things I ponder.

So if we agree that God is everywhere in the universe and we derive our energy through God, then where is God? Is God in us? Is the I AM part of our being, our soul - God? If we can manifest our dreams into reality simply by using our imagination then what part of this idea involves a God? If we are the ones creating our reality through our thoughts then what role is God playing?

If we are all created from the same fabric of life, same energy, and same source, then we are all one. I am you and you are me. So where does God exist? Is he in the gap between space? Is he inside of us? I recently asked myself if meditation was prayer. Literally 5 seconds later in a book I was reading the answer appeared. The words were “Prayer is when we speak to God, meditation is when we listen.”

So when we meditate and we enter the gap – the space between thoughts and there is silence, but peace - that is God. We reach God in his fullness when we meditate.  But I am still unsure where God is and what role he plays. It seems to me that when we meditate we are looking inward and when we look inward we find stillness, peace, and silence. This is where we connect with God.

So logically speaking God is inside of us and in our hearts. So how do we know God is in us? Must we accept some form of teachings by a prophet? Buddha, Jesus, the Apostles, and thousands of people throughout time have preached the idea of loving your neighbor as yourself, peace, non-violence, introspection through quiet solitude reached through prayer - essentially meditation. Were they all speaking of ways to connect with God?

Again, we find God in our hearts. The Bible says we must accept God and his ways in order to feel his love. So God is in us, our souls, and he is our I AM. How do we know when we have achieved this state of awareness where God is with us and in us? I think the closest I have been to feeling that form of bliss, harmony, and love has been through meditation.

Although I have spent my entire life praying every day before I began meditating I felt like I was just talking to myself. Imaging what I wanted and many times it would come to fruition. However, I didn’t fully understand who I was talking to and how things were happening. Now I believe that I have been talking to my I AM, my soul, and through the power of the Law of Assumption I have been able to manifest the things in which I desired most.

Furthermore, I think that inside of me, I AM, is actually connected to God. If I have the power to achieve everything I desire through my thoughts alone, and God gives us what we ask for, then is it possible that the energy source inside of me, I AM, is actually God? Not that I am God, but that God is me?

In other words, is my soul God? If I am creating, and God gives what we ask for, then I must be God. In order to believe this you must wipe away the concept that God is a long white bearded man in the clouds. Instead you must accept that God is an energy source and that energy is all around us, even in us.

This energy creates what we desire. We alone have the ability to imagine whatever we choose and through this process we can change our reality. This comes from within from the I AM. Therefore, I AM, must be God since it is what we derive our inner strength from and what creates our destiny.

Is our soul God?

I think, therefore I am.     

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Law of Attraction

Law of Attraction

In February of 2012 I began going to yoga at a local gym. I spent the first 3 months just focusing on conditioning through weight training and cardio work, mostly running on the treadmill and going to a spin class.

After four months of hard training and seeing dramatic results in terms of my strength and fitness I was in the best shape of my life, or at least in the last 10 years. I was doing 800 crunches a day, running a mile in less than 7 minutes, after having completed an hour weight lifting session that either consisted of arms and chest or back and shoulders. Occasionally I would include legs as well. If I wasn’t running I was cycling for an hour at a high tempo.

After two or three hours of training I would go to the indoor soccer field and play for another 2 hours. I had nothing else to do and I wanted to improve my overall health of my body. I would even work out for 2 hours lifting and running followed by an indoor or outdoor soccer game. I was playing on 4 teams at the time. I continued this process for the next 8 months, taking a two month break while I was on vacation in New Zealand and Australia for the summer. I eventually strained my back lifting weights and had to take some time off.

As I was working out I focused on myself and my own goals. I didn’t interact with any of the other people there very often because I didn’t know them. Eventually I discovered a friend was a member and convinced her to work out with me occasionally.

She wasn’t into doing the same things as I was so that didn’t last very long. In the meantime I kept thinking that a gym should have more attractive girls. It seemed like everyone was middle aged women, or guys. It wasn’t very satisfying in the potential dating aspect of going to a gym and meeting a fit woman.

However, in February things began to change. The teacher of my favorite cycling class moved. As a result I stopped going to cycling. By doing so I came in contact with people I had never seen before. Being in a dark room for an hour and playing soccer with a bunch of guys didn’t lend itself to meeting girls.

I had been thinking extremely hard about wanting to meet someone at the gym. A girl that is pretty, healthy, and knows how to work out properly just seemed like a natural fit for me. One evening it happened. I was lifting weights and noticed an extremely good looking lady across the way. She looked like she was in her mid-20s. I kept thinking to myself that she is really pretty and I should go talk to her sometime.

I didn't have the courage to do that; however, I always noticed her looking at me. In my head I was thinking she must want me to talk to her if she keeps looking at me all the time. She would walk right by me, shaking her butt as she walked. That must be a sign. She seemed to be going out of her way to cross my path even if it was a longer route to where she ended up. Again I was thinking she must be trying to get my attention.

Even though I had no clue who this girl was I was thinking about her all the time. Wondering how I could approach her and not seem like just another guy at the gym trying to pick up some cute girl. I saw other guys talk to her, but they didn’t seem to be getting her attention. I thought I didn’t want to end up like them and then it be awkward every time I came to the gym from then on.

I noticed that she was going to yoga a few times a week. I had never done yoga, had no real desire to do yoga, and didn’t even know what took place in yoga, but if it meant I had a chance to talk to this girl then I should start going.

About a month went by of thinking about trying yoga for the first time. I didn’t want to go alone though. I convinced my friend to come with me. We went to a beginner class for the first few times just to get an understanding of what it was all about. I didn’t want to try to make an impression on a girl and then look like an idiot. That wouldn’t be good.

I went for a few weeks and felt like I was ready to start going to the more advanced classes. Those were the popular classes and the ones the girl I was interested in went to. Another month past before I finally decided I was truly ready for yoga at the next level. By this time I had still been seeing the same girl everyday at the gym at the same time. She continued to make eye contact with me. She even began doing work outs on machines right next to me.

I thought for sure this was it. I was going to talk to her. She was coming closer to me and I was ready to go to yoga and see her. The door was open. Thinking about this stuff all the time was starting to make me believe it. It was almost as if my thoughts were manifesting into reality.

I could walk into the gym and workout for 30 minutes and wonder why she wasn’t at the gym. Just as I would start to think that I would see her walk in almost on cue. It was kind of strange.

She is a cute girl that works out at the gym by herself and constantly looks at me and follows me around. She must be single and she must want to get to know me. I told myself that I would go to yoga and that would be my chance.

I went to my first hot yoga class sometime in March. It was extremely difficult. I was sweating like crazy and exhausted. I had no clue what to expect. I felt like I was going to pass out, which was one of the reasons I was hesitant to even go in the first place. If I wanted to follow through on my plan and talk to this stranger I had to do it.

A few days passed and I continued with my normal workout routine. Something was a little different though when I saw the girl at the gym one night. She had a ring on her finger! For 2 months I had seen this girl almost every day, no ring. She was even at the gym alone on Valentine’s Day. There is no way she could be married. No way she could be dating someone even. How in the world was that possible that she could be married?

It was like a kick to the gut. I spent all this time wanting something that I couldn’t even have. I felt like I had wasting my time and energy thinking all this stuff. I thought in the back of my head that maybe she wasn’t married and just wore a ring to keep guys from talking to her. That seemed feasible.

Turns out that was a wrong assumption. I found out she was married. I continued to see her at the gym, but tried to avoid her as much as possible. I stopped looking at her and moved away anytime she was around. I walked the long way to different machines just so I wouldn’t have to see her.

This whole time I was saying things to myself and getting the results I had wanted. Almost as if I was manifesting my desires. I would later discover that this was through the Law of Attraction. I was using a technique I didn’t even know existed. I thought I was just psychic or like Yoda and could control people’s thoughts and actions. In a way I guess I was.

As time went on I quit thinking about her. Quit seeing her. I told myself that I wanted her out of my life and to never see her again. That seemed impossible since I had seen her almost every day for months. Slowly overtime she stopped coming. I hurt my back so I stopped working out as much and just focused on yoga.

I haven’t seen her in months at the gym. Amazing how I could bring someone in and push someone away all through the power of thinking. Had I recognized I had this power I would have been utilizing it all along, my entire life.

Looking back now there have been times when I wanted something really badly and then it happened. I assumed it was coincidence or just luck or that I deserved it. Now I understand that I was tapping into an energy field much greater than I could have ever imagined.

To experience this and begin to understand what it can do is truly inspiring and mind boggling. As a result of this experience my mind has begun opening to new possibilities and realities. I notice myself attracting things at will now.

They may not always be exactly what I desire or when I desire them, but eventually they do come. My goal now is to focus the energy in a more positive way and to be more exact in my intentions to have better results.

I have had countless other experiences since this time that I can contribute to the Law of Attraction. As I think about something or ask myself questions it seems as though the answers are presented to me. It is really very amazing and indescribable. It is the type of event that must be experienced to fully appreciate.

I have spoken to friends and family about having reached enlightenment recently and I said it more as a joke due to crazy thoughts coming into my head that weren’t there before, but as I study more and more I discover that maybe I am on a path of enlightenment and understanding.

I have begun reading books about content and ideas I never would have considered before. People in my life have provided me with guidance and answers to questions I never asked, but was seeking in my own mind.
The mind has a plethora of abilities that most of us are never aware of and never activate. I feel like for the first time in my life I am doing just that, activating and receiving higher level thinking at a more spiritual and emotional state than ever before.

My mind is like a receptor, receiving messages floating through the air. A few years ago I began reading a book by Napoleon Hill about attracting wealth. The whole concept sounded far-fetched, but possible. I thought I understood what he was expressing, but now I have a whole new and deeper connection to what he was conveying.

I began thinking about what he said and contemplating strange new theories. Ideas that I never would have considered in the past. Things I had no knowledge about. Crazy ideas really that just popped into my head. Through the use of meditation the events are starting to actually make sense.

I don’t have as many pointless thoughts anymore. I still day dream in my mind and recreate past conversations and try to understand the meaning. I also think about future conversations I want to have and try to plan what I would say in case there is a particular question or event I must respond to. Of course I don’t know what will actually take place, but it makes me feel more prepared when those issues arise.

I am now at a stage where I don’t let those thoughts control my actions as much. I have them, but I am actually aware I am having them. I am able to stop myself or just let them pass when they run their course. It was as if I didn’t even have control over them before, but now I realize I can stop them whenever I choose.

As a result new thoughts will pop into my mind. These thoughts are more abstract, deeper, higher level contemplation. Almost hypothetical, spiritual, emotional, physical. I notice things I didn’t before about my body and my beliefs. I question things I wouldn’t have before and I question them with the intent of finding the answer without thinking I already knew.

It is almost as if everything has come full circle. No longer do things go in one ear and out the other unnoticed or unrecognized. Everything has a profound meaning from the mundane tasks to the big events. Life has purpose. Everyone we come in contact with is there to teach us something. It is our job to discover what that is. Don’t waste a moment, you only have so many.