Tag Archives: spirituality

What’s the most important book you ever read?

What is the most important book you ever read?

off kilter library

I’m not talking about religious books like the Bible, the Quran or the Talmud; we all know those are important, so let’s leave them aside for the sake of this discussion.

What are the most useful books you have ever read? Which book was it that you read and actually put to work in your daily life? How did it influence you?

Was it something like the ‘7 habits of highly successful people’ or was it possibly Internet for Dummies? Did Hints from Heloise change the way you live?   How to win friends and influence people is a classic on the art of communication and has helped thousands in their daily lives.

So what has helped you to live your life? What made you change for the better?

For me these are a few of the most influential books I have ever read. I’m sure that someday I will add more to this list, but these are the ones that really hit me hard and made me think.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare. This play taught me at a very young age that you need to really think before taking drastic action. If Ol’ Mac had asked more questions when he met those three ladies, he may not have put a disaster into motion.

The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris. I went to a Catholic High School and found this in the restricted section of the library one day. A study of humans as biological entities, it made me really think about my place in the world. It had the added benefit of really upsetting my teachers. Hey, I was sixteen at the time.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. This book made physics less mysterious and more accessible for me. I loved it.

The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort. First, I found the pun of his name amusing, and the truly practical and un-embarrassed attitude was just what I needed at the time. I can’t say I’ve been able to put everything into practice, but the clear, rational tone was wonderful.

Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven: Women, Sexuality and the Catholic Church by Uta Ranke-Heineman and Peter Heinegg. Ranke-Heineman was a chair of theology and used Roman Catholic Canon Law as her source material. It made me angry that as a female I was being so devalued on so many levels. Yeah, this was a huge influence on the way I thought about the world.

Chess for beginners by Israel A. Horowitz and Sol Horowitz. Hours of fun!

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. It’s still the basic primer for the art of politics.

The Art of War by Sun-Tzu. The ultimate strategy guide, written by a man who lived it every day.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Yeah, this is a weird one to have in here, but as much as I dislike Scarlet O’Hara, she knew how to survive. She also wasn’t willing to hide her abilities behind a folded fan, even if she had no clue about how to manage her personal life.

These are not the only important books I have ever read, of course. My personal library has several hundred books in it, not counting the ones I have sold or donated when I was done with them. I have read books on everything from cooking to car repair (if only that one had taken root) and philosophy, religion and politics, fashion and art. I like science fiction and crafts, how-to books and fantasy fiction.

In the midst of all the millions of words I have read over the decades of my life, the books that have actually helped or hindered are few. I’d like to know what books you consider the most influential in your life. Take a moment to think about it, and use the comment box to let me know: what was your most important reading experience?

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita.

(Image courtesy of free clip art office.microsoft.com)

Spiritual Discovery

I have probably said this before, but it needs to be restated. I watch too much TV. And I am going to prove it to you now. Lately, I have been watching reruns of that sitcom, “Dharma and Greg” and loving every minute. I liked the show the first time it aired, but missed most of the episodes because I worked at night. So, now, years later, I am watching them again.

So, back on track here, last night an episode aired where stuffy Greg is on a journey to self discovery. He quit is lawyer job, is trying meditation, long walks in the park, and literally stops to smell the roses. It is completely the opposite of his life until this point.

This whole journey started because he could not answer the question of why he became a lawyer. And since Greg is an all or nothing kind of person, this trip to spiritual discovery is a bit on the extreme and wild side. But the show brings up the question of destiny and your true self.

During Greg’s journey he begins arguing with everyone like they are on trial. And granted it makes for a funny show, but makes the point of showing that we can’t fight who we are inside. The Greg character is a lawyer through and through and when he got away from it, the traits that made him a great  lawyer came through anyway. I often wonder if we are all that way. If we got away from what we do if the things that make us do them would come out anyway.

Then this seems to fit in with the Wayseer book that I have been reading (and still not finished with). Part of what LoPorto says is that if you deny your true nature, you end up with compulsive behaviors driving you. Since Greg is a character and not a real person, his compulsion was funny and relatively harmless, but in real life compulsions can be dangerous and life threatening: drugs, alcohol, smoking, over eating, and so on and so on.

So do we all need a time out to truly discover who we are inside? And will discovering and honoring our true nature, as LoPorto stated, really stop those compulsions? Or are we as people, just insane and fooling ourselves into believing that there is any standard of normal? Maybe that spirituality and discovering our true self is a journey into madness and not a journey to enlightenment.

Indigo and Crystal Children: An overview

Today seems to be my day for finding blog topics, since the past few days I have been just lost and not coming up with a proper conversation piece. Earlier I got a call from a wedding planner and had a topic for our Not Your Mom’s Wedding Blog and tonight I decided to listen to Cathie’s Distant Echoes Blogtalk Radio show and found one for here.

Cathie features different psychics, spiritual leaders, and speakers on her show and sometimes they do readings and other times they speak on a topic that they are experts in or is something that they have experience with. Today Cathie featured Brenda Tenerelli who brought up the topic of Indigo and Crystal children. Of course this topic is near and dear to me, since my oldest son may fit in to this grouping of different kids.

I have read the book on Indigo children years ago, but most of what I read I seem to have forgotten. I guess it is time to bring it out again and reread that too.

o   Act like royalty or they deserve to be here and are surprised when others do not share the same feeling

o   They know who they are and their worth

o   They do not like authority without a reason

o   Some tasks of daily life are hard for them, such as waiting in line or concentrating when told to

o   Rigid ritual frustrates them and they often want to be creative

o   Tend to think “outside the box” and find it hard to conform to any system

o   Anti social except with their own kind; find social organizations like school difficult

o   Do not respond to guilt easily

o   Will voice their needs openly and loudly if necessary.

o   May be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD

o   Usually born after 1995

o   May have large eyes, but always an intense stare

o   Have a magnetic personality and highly affectionate

o   Musically inclined and usually talk late in life, may sing before speaking

o   Very spiritually inclined and may speak openly of angles, spirit guides, and the like

o   Are usually fearless  and climb everything with an unusual sense of balance

o   Highly sensitive to the energies around them and may use telepathy or sign language they invent to interact with those around them.

o   May be diagnosed with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome

Of course there is so much more to these children and as I learn more about them I will share it with you. In the mean time, please join Cathie on her Blogtalk Radio show and enjoy her interesting topics and speakers.

God’s Will???

I know it has been a while since either of us has written here, but admittedly it is sometimes difficult to come up with ideas to write about there. And since I am the one who thought that on a subject as broad as spirituality, it would be easy….I was wrong. In spite of that, sometimes an idea just falls in your lap, like this one…

I have a friend who emails quotes to me from time to time. Most of the time I think they are cute, smile, and hit the delete key. Today’s email kind of slapped me in the face, and said get busy (not really, I am not crazy, emails do not talk unless they have a video or animation embedded and then it is only sometimes).  So, thank you my friend, those quotes not only work personally, but professionally as well.

“To profess to be doing God’s will is aform of megalomania.”     -Joseph Prescott, aphorist (1913-2001)

While I have never really thought of it in these terms, I have to admit that Mr. Prescott was on to something. Who are we to think that God talks to us and needs something from us? The very idea of carrying out God’s will suggests that either God needs us to do something for him. God is supposed to be all powerful, all knowing, all encompassing….so if that is true, what could he possibly want from his creations? Honestly, I can’t think of one stinking thing, but I can think of several that I want from him.

OK, now that we have established that God does not need a thing from us, let’s go back to the fact that God may or may not talk to us. In most cases in modern society, if one of us starts talking about God talking to us, the rest of society labels them as crazy. Then we lock them up, medicate them, and send them to a therapist to look at ink blots, talk about their parents, and try to judge just how connected to reality they are. And in most cases, I am going to say that yes, this is the right course of action, and hopefully helps that person live a better life.

Now that we have discovered the practical side of me, let’s look at the completely emotional side. I do believe in a God/dess of some sort or another. My definitions of these things are rather fluid and hard to describe, so let’s just go with the word Deity, which is a nice all encompassing idea. Within my personal beliefs, I do think that Deity talks to us. Not in words, and not really directly, but through nature and each other. The rainbow that sometimes appears after a storm, that is to remind us that we are usually better and stronger after we have survived a struggle. Sometimes a friend stops by and says just the right thing to make us feel better, understand something that was confusing us, or just shows us that someone cares. So, in a way Deity does talk to us and care for us.

There are religions, like our friends at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who recently visited us and believe that God is speaking with their leaders regularly and giving them new commandments and revelations for them to follow. I do not agree with them, but will never deny their right to practice their beliefs either. Why would God choose to speak with them and not other religious branches who are just as dedicated to following the word of the Bible as they are? If God created all of us, why would he turn his back on any of us?

Many times we hear God the father, which suggests that he is a parent to all of humanity. If one believes what the Bible professes, God is the creator (parent?) of everything. Now I am a parent as well, and I know that no matter what my children did, I would not be able to turn my back on them. Even if one of them committed murder, which is one of the worst crimes we can commit against each other, I would be there for him. I may not stand up and defend his actions, and I would not take responsibility for them either, but I would not turn away from my child. If I knew about it ahead of time, I would do what I could to stop it, but not turn away after the fact.

Now that brings up an interesting idea. If God is a parent type Deity, then would he/she interfere with what we are doing? On the one hand, it is said that all humanity has free will and God will not interfere, but then we have some people saying that they are following the will of this god, that god, or the other god….so who is right? And how do we know what God wants? Every single material that we have that may possibly be divinely inspired has been given to us through human minds, mouths, and hands….therefore it is colored by our own experiences and beliefs, this included. Which means that the information may be right or it may be heretical, depending on the exact views of God. Since he has not made an appearance on Earth since the Garden of Eden (or some other long ago event, time, or place depending on your beliefs), it is not possible to ask him. The original stone tablets with the commandments on them have been lost to time. They were supposed to be written by the hand of God, and might clarify things for us.

Since a direct line to God is not possible, I guess we humans struggle along as we normally would and decide for ourselves if God has an agenda and should we buy into it, or is that agenda some other person’s? In the mean time I think that I will continue trying to be a good person: love my neighbors, my children, my family, and my friends; try to be more patient, since each of us is different; try to be more accepting of things I may not agree with but do not harm me; and basically try not to harm anything in this life…

What are you thoughts, God’s will or Free will?

Religious vs. Spiritual

I thought that sitting down to write the differences between being religious and being spiritual would be easy, but let me tell you that I was wrong. Dictionary.com defines them as the same thing essentially, but I have issues with that. I do believe that there are plenty of similarities between the two groups, but there are also some vast distinctions between the two.

Religious and spiritual people both deal with an aspect of themselves that not everyone accepts, the spirit within and the connection to God, Deity, Goddess, Great Spirit, and the many, many other names out there that describe some aspect(s) of the infinite. But here is where I see the difference being made. Religious people allow others or an outside influence to define their relationship with what is infinite where as spiritual people tend to study the infinite from more than one angle and accept that there is more than one view of Deity.

This is not to say that all religions are bad or evil, they are not, and have in fact done some positive things for society. Religion was the first science. It was a way that ancient man could explain and control his environment. Granted most of it was not accurate or in some cases even close to what reality is, but it was a start to discovering why things did and do what they do. While science may have developed on its own, it may not be as advanced without the foundation in religion. Religion was the first laws, and in many small tribal societies the religious leader was also the judge of the law of the land since both were intertwined. This does not mean that I support such a system; laws should be secular so they apply to everyone, no matter what religious or spiritual practices they may be involved with.

Getting back to the more spiritual side of things, specific religions really do not matter much. The stories in religions teach the same basics: love one another, be a good neighbor, give to the needy, help out in your community, take care of your home, and take care of your person. So if these are the lessons that we all seem to think that we should learn, what is the purpose of religion? Many times the nitpicking of the small differences between religions seems to lose the more important, albeit more generalized messages of love, peace, and support. Some, not all, religious people have lost sight of that message and are breeding hate and contempt in place of love and peace.

Another point about organized religion is that there is a support system available to help individuals make moral decisions according to the beliefs he or she was brought up with. Spiritual people tend to be disorganized, in that they do not gather in one spot to worship or necessarily have a hard and fast dogma to measure their lives by, but a more general sense of right and wrong. While most of the time the spiritual person may not care that the support of a group is missing, and in fact enjoy it, there are times where support from a like minded spiritual group would be beneficial for guidance if requested or at a minimum, support.

Is there a moral to this story? Sort of. We should all learn, religious, spiritual, atheist, whatever to accept where that person is along their journey. We should accept that that person knows themselves and has chosen the path that is right for them. We should also try to be the best that we can be by loving ourselves, our households, and our neighbors. Be the peace that you would like to see in the world.

Practical Relaxation and Meditation

During January and February, we did a practical and spiritual journey through some mediation and relaxation exercises. Relaxation and mediation are great for a person’s body, mind, and soul. Today’s society is all about go, go, go, and what did I accomplish today, and how can I get ahead financially or do better than the Joneses. These techniques can help combat the damage done by the stresses we all face daily and can help us communicate with the Deity we personally believe in (if we believe in one).

The first part of any successful meditation session is to relax. Most of us only relax as we start to fall asleep, so as you learn to relax without sleeping and practice that skill, do not be surprised if you feel relaxed then only remember waking up.

A quick way to relax is to lie down on the floor or in your bed and tighten all the muscles in your body, hold for several seconds, then let go of the tension. This is done muscle group by muscle group, starting with the toes and continuing up through the calves, thighs, glutes, stomach, lower back, chest, upper back, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, and finally the face.

Now that you’re relaxed, the goal of mediation is to have a blank mind. This does not necessarily mean that all thoughts are gone, but that you are aware of any thoughts going on and just let them be. Many of the Eastern religions believe that at these moments, when your mind is so still, that God (or one of the Gods) can commune with you, but even if you do not believe in God(s), the relaxation and meditation exercises can be good for you, just by reducing stress.

Training your mind to enter into this flat or empty space, depending on how you see it, can be difficult to do. Our brains are so used to being active that slowing it down is sometimes near impossible. One way to help slow it down is to start by concentrating on a candle. A candle is a stationary object so not much brain power is needed to concentrate on it, but the flame moves a bit, making it easier to start with than a block of wood. As it becomes easier to see only the candle and not lose concentration, graduate yourself to smaller and even less interesting items, until you do not need an item at all.

Learning to relax and meditate is a process and usually a long one, since many of these concepts go against what we were taught as Americans:  doing nothing is bad; we are supposed to be constantly entertained. So, remember to give yourself time and a lot of patience.  Your brain needs time to adjust to its new expectations.