- Issue 94, Christmas & Hanukah -

Published by The Conscious Living Foundation

E-mail: CLF@consciouslivingfoundation.org

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Welcome to Conscious Living, our newsletter designed to share our current activities and growth, along with articles and information that we hope will be supportive and encouraging in your efforts to live each moment with more joy and satisfaction.

Christmas and Hanukah are almost here and, as always, it gives us a new opportunity to appreciate the unique blessings that flow to us and through us during this holy season.

Our newsletter begins with the original Christmas story as it is contained in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.  We also share a surprising historical perspective on the creation and meaning of the "12 Days of Christmas".

We continue with our collection of essays by Ernest Holmes, with his thoughts on "The Power That Jesus Used". 

In addition, we offer a collection of inspiring stories centering around the holiday season, including O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi", along with the Christmas story, "A Solitary Life".

As always, you'll find a new spiritual poem, this one entitled, "Tomorrow" and a collection of cookie recipes perfect for the holidays.

For the first time, CLF is now making gift certificates available. If you're considering buying a gift for a friend or loved one during the holiday season, why not let them select gifts that can genuinely make a difference in their lives?  Give them the choice of products that will continue to inspire, encourage and uplift throughout the year. 

Finally, our newsletter also includes an in-depth look at the history surrounding Hanukah and an essay on the 12 steps of Christmas.

As always, we are so grateful to all of you who visit our website, and contribute through your generous donations, purchases, emails and article submissions.  Thank you for letting us share this issue of our newsletter with you.  Wishing you a very merry Christmas, happy Hanukah and a joyous, abundant new year!

William Simpson
Director

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Contents:

(If you've missed any past issues of our newsletter, or you'd like to reread an articles or clip that favorite recipe, click Here.)

 

   
The Original Christmas Story:  Luke 2:1-20 and Matthew 2:1-8

Luke 2:1-20

1  In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.

2 This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

3 And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

5 to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered.

7 And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8  And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.

10 And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people;

11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."

16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child;

18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Matthew 2:1-8

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem
2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.
5 "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
6 "`But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' "
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.
10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,
15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
20 and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.
22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee,
23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."

 

Essay:  The Power That Jesus Used                                    by Ernest Holmes                                  
 

 

Throughout our lives, we have read and wondered about the miracles of Jesus. But to how many of us has the thought come that this same power must be available to everyone? We have been so accustomed to thinking of Jesus as a man filled with love and compassion and human kindness that we have overlooked something else about him that is equally important. Jesus had access to a spiritual Power that he used in every way. To him it seemed the most natural thing in the world that he should be able to tell the paralyzed man to walk, or multiply the loaves and fishes, or still the wind and waves.

I happen to be one of those who really believe that Jesus did these things and that we could also do them if we had the know-how. It takes nothing away from Jesus when we say that in addition to his love and compassion and his great humanity, we also have access to the same Power, which enabled him to do such wonderful things. Even his own followers thought he must have been using a power that no one else possessed; however, when we study his words carefully, we find that he said that others could do what he did if they followed the same rules. Jesus was not the great exception; he was the great example, and he even said that "greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."

What we want to find out, then, is the nature of this Power that Jesus used, learn how it operates, and then apply it in our own lives in helping ourselves and also in helping others. I am not thinking only about the healing miracles when people have been restored to physical health. For while this is wonderful and good, there is much more to life than merely getting rid of a pain. Jesus had access to some kind of Power that was available for every purpose. He had access to an Intelligence that guided him in everything he did. And he had a deep inward peace and feeling of security that removed all confusion and doubt and uncertainty from his mind.

What we want to find is the key that unlocks the doorway to the Power greater than we are. What we want to do is to discover the secret, which he so plainly told us was a certain kind of relationship he had to God, who, he said, was present everywhere and was also within him and within everyone.

We are accustomed to thinking of the powers and energies in nature, and we know that the whole field of modern science is devoted to the discovery of these powers and learning how to apply them for our everyday needs. We also know that these powers which science uncovers have always existed, they were always there waiting to be used, and always ready to respond when we use them rightly.

We think of a scientific man as one who uses a power of nature. We do not say that he possesses it as a personal thing. For, of course, this would not be true. What we say is that science discovers the power, unlocks its energy, and then uses it for definite purposes for the betterment of humanity. What we really mean by this is that there are certain physical laws and physical powers in nature, which are greater than we are but which can be used, and that these powers operate for us as though they were our servants. We employ them; we do not implore them. That is, we do not beseech them, we do not coerce them, and, as a matter of fact, we do not even concentrate them. We merely use them.

But Jesus had access to another kind of power, which he called the Power of the Spirit. We cannot doubt but that there are spiritual powers which act like physical ones; that act for us and in a certain sense become our servants when we have first leaned how they operate. But in doing this, we must always comply with them, for the secrets of nature are disclosed, and the powers of nature can be used only when we first comply with the way they work. Of all people in the world, the true scientist is the most humble. He stands in reverence and awe before the wonders of a self-operating universe that operates independently of his will, his coercion, or even his desire.

When it was discovered that a hen lays a certain number of eggs and then sits on them and hatches out chickens, someone had the foresight

to realize that you can have as many hens as you want to sit on as many eggs as they can cover and produce as many chickens as are desirable, provided you actually put the hen and the eggs together. Here is an example of the way nature works, with complete independence of our thoughts and our will and our desires, but always with this in mind, that when we comply with the way she works, we receive the benefit.

Jesus worked in a different kind of laboratory. He understood a different set of laws, and because he used these laws, a power was delivered to him that has amazed the world. It is our purpose to rediscover these laws, find out how they work, and apply them for every legitimate purpose, and then reap the benefit for us and for others. Of course, in doing this, it is necessary that we follow the example of the one who really knew. The only reason we have to suppose that Jesus knew is that he proved his claim. What we should do, then, is to find out exactly what Jesus believed, and why, and how he used this secret of the ages so effectively.

The first thing we shall learn is that Jesus believed himself to be one with God, and he believed that the Divine Presence was right where he was. He communed with this Presence through prayers and meditation until it was the most real thing to him in life. We find, then, that the whole background of his teaching starts with the idea that there is such a Presence and such a Power; that the Presence is accessible to all of us, and that the Power can be used by anyone who has faith in it.

This is no doubt the greatest secret of the ages. It is the miracle of the answer to prayer. It is the miracle of Life itself. We need to believe that you and I, so little and so alone, do have access to a Power that has the possibility of making everything in our lives happy and

harmonious if we cooperate with it. Right here, I would like to inject this thought – for it is one that so many people express – how can we believe in a Power that we can neither touch nor taste nor handle?

The answer to this is simple enough. Let us go right back to the hen sitting on her eggs. Neither you nor I nor the hen ever put a chicken in an egg, nor did we ever take one out. The hen, instinctively, by some method of which she is not consciously aware, follows the law of her own life. She lays the eggs and then she sits on them, and nature performs the miracle for her. The Power, which does this, cannot be touched or tasted or handled. It cannot be seen. And yet, we are so used to it that we never question the results. We build incubators and set the eggs in them, and subject them to a certain heat for a certain period of time, with complete assurance, with absolute faith, because experience has taught us that we can do this and have chicks hatch.

So it is with every law that we use. No one has ever seen the powers of nature. We only see how they work, and we accept them with the simplicity of a child. Again someone might ask: How can we believe in a Divine Presence when we have not seen it? The answer to this also is simple. How can we believe in the law of attraction and repulsion, which we have not seen? How can we believe that a magnet will attract iron since we do not see the power of attraction that draws it? No one has ever seen love or human affection; no one has seen kindness and tolerance and human understanding; but we have all felt them, and we have no more doubt of their existence than we do of our own being.

I do not think we need to be concerned with the fact that we do not see God other than in His creation, or that we have not seen the forces of nature other than in and through what they do. When Jesus told us that we should have faith, he was not telling us about something that is impossible for us attain, for Jesus was the most simple and direct of men, and he knew that faith is a natural attitude of mind. It is the very simplicity of his teaching that eludes us. As a matter of fact, it is so easy that it is hard, so

simple that it is difficult, so direct that we fail to catch its significance. For whether or not we know it, we all have faith. We are merely mostly using it in reverse.

So Jesus told us that there is a Divine Presence that will guide us if we let it. And he told us that there is a Power that will operate for us if we believe that It will. But he also told us that this Presence is love and this Power is good and that we cannot hope to derive the greatest benefit from the Presence as Divine guidance, or the Power as the operation of Divine Love, until we first greet the Presence in love and use the Power for good. So far as I know, he laid down no instructions other than these: God is love and God is good. Therefore, Divine Power is delivered to us only in such degree as we love and as we are constructive.

All the prayers or the will of man can neither add to nor take from the powers of nature. This is so self-evident that one cannot even argue against it. What we have to do, then, is to invite the Presence and use the Power. We invite the Divine Presence every time we think about It in love and with true humility. We draw inspiration into our minds and into our imaginations and loose it through our actions when we recognize this Presence, and we benefit from the use of the Power when we comply with the way it works.

Here is where our great experiment in using the Power that Jesus understood starts. This is the very beginning of it. We must believe that there is a Divine Presence. Of course, our belief does not create It; it merely acknowledges It. It is this acknowledgment of the Divine Presence that Jesus was referring to when he said: "…your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."

The artist believes in the presence of beauty. He invites it into his thought and will and imagination; he makes himself open to it. Our acknowledgement of the Presence of God should be as simple as this and as direct. No matter what we are doing, we should start with this basic thought: "God is all there is. God is right where I am. Divine Intelligence is now directing me. I not only invite It, I believe It is here. There is nothing in me that can deny me the privilege of receiving this Divine guidance. There is Something in me that knows what to do under every circumstance, knows how to meet every situation, knows how to overcome every obstacle. I am in partnership with the infinite Mind that creates everything and sustains everything. I am one with God."

We should entertain thoughts like these until they become habitual; that is, until nothing in us denies them. It is not going to take any more faith than we now have, for one of the greatest lessons we can learn about faith is that we always possess it. But too often, we are using it negatively. As a matter of fact, we are always affirming something, be it for good or ill. We are always either saying, "I can," or "I cannot." What we need to do is to eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive. In doing this, we shall gradually acquire the habit of affirmative thinking.

To this belief that there is a Divine Presence that is guiding us and leading us gently but certainly on the pathway to success and happiness and wholeness, we must also come to believe that there is a Power that always goes with this recognition of the Divine Presence. We must have faith that this Power operates on our word. But, of course, we do not see Its operation. We do not touch It or taste It or handle It, but we can feel It. It is this deep underlying conviction and feeling that we must acquire.

But this is not difficult. It is just a question of training the mind to believe in and understand spiritual Law in exactly the same manner that it believes in and understands the operation of physical law. If it were something too difficult, then it would be beyond our reach, and we should become discouraged even before we started. The whole thing has to be kept simple and direct and sincere. The Power that Jesus used was a spiritual Power. He knew that it operated on or through his word of faith, and he had such a complete reliance on it that he did not hesitate to tell the paralyzed man to get up and walk.

It is not the words that Jesus used that performed the miracle. It was his inner conviction of the Power that operated on and in and through his words. He called this faith and belief, and in so doing, reduced it to a mental attitude or to a way of thinking that we can all understand. There is Something that operates on our belief and acts exactly like a law, because It is a law and tends to bring about conditions, which correspond to our faith, our belief, and our way of thinking.

Frequently, when we begin to use this Power consciously, we find that our thoughts are unruly. In one moment we affirm some good we desire and in the very next moment, we deny what we have affirmed. In this way, we are a mental house divided against itself. We may as well recognize this fact because it is an important one. But in recognizing it, there is no occasion for us to despair. For we know that thinking is really a movement of the mind upon itself, right where we are, and we are the thinker. Therefore, we can change out thoughts.

This is why Jesus told us that sometimes only prayer and fasting can bring about the desired result. He did not mean that God listens because we do a lot of talking. What he meant was that we should pray affirmatively and fast when it comes to negative thinking. This is the sacrifice we make in the surrender of our doubts and fears to the great affirmations of life. To pray without ceasing means to continue in an affirmative attitude of mind and to fast means to refrain from all negative thoughts and ideas.

There must come a new impulse to the mind, a new way of looking at things. This is what Jesus called the new birth. He referred to this when he said that we must be born again, we must be born of the Spirit, which means being born into a complete conviction of the Presence and the Power and the Activity of God in and through us. The results that follow this new birth are automatic, and this is why Jesus told us that if we would seek the kingdom of God first, everything else would be added.

What a wonderful adventure lies before us. How grateful we should be for the opportunity to live and love and work and play. We should have a keen sense of anticipation and enthusiasm because we know that we are working with a spiritual Power greater than we are, a Law of Mind that is available to create every good thing in life. I believe this is the secret to this power Jesus demonstrated and to the understanding of his teachings. We may call this faith, we may call it religion, we may call it worship. It is all this and more, too. But in reality, it resolves itself into a simple, sincere, and direct approach to God and to the Law of Mind.

The world is in search of the answer to its problems. Frustrated and distraught, disillusioned and chagrined, today it stands on the brink of two possibilities – to be, or not to be. The world today is shocked by the realization of what it has brought on itself. Nothing is more certain than that we have failed, and as never before, millions of people are ready to try something else, that something that for far too long has been neglected, that something which alone can make it whole. Nothing is more certain than that we must rediscover the secret of the ages, this coming into close cooperation with the Presence that made us and the Power that sustains us. Along this pathway alone lies the hope of humanity. This, and this only, is the road to peace, to prosperity, and to happiness.


The Conscious Living Foundation has just released its recording of one of Ernest Holmes most famous books, "Creative Mind and Success".  To learn more about the recording and hear several FREE selections on such topics as:

- How to attract friends
- An affirmation on love
- The power of words
     - Old age and opportunity
      - Money as a spiritual idea
                                               - How to know just what to do
                                  - Developing Intuition
                                   - What we will attract

Just click Here.

If you enjoy our inspirational stories and articles, be sure to visit our website for more:
Articles on Personal Growth, Health and Positive Change - Click Here.
Inspiring Stories - Click Here.
Affirmations - Click Here.
Spiritual Poems - Click Here.

 

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News A New Collection of Healthy Bar Soaps

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Essay:  The Twelve Steps of Christmas                                        by KC Mulville

 


If you want to know the true spirit of Christmas, put yourself in the sandals of the people who were around at the first one.

The Romans ruled the Jews. They ruled with the same subtlety as Tony Soprano. Things went well as long as you kept quiet, or as long as Tony didn’t have a spat of rage over something that had nothing to do with you. The Romans erupted in rage from time to time, and that was just your tough luck. The local magistrate was Herod, who ruled only by the Romans’ consent. Compared to other despots, Herod wasn’t bad, but despotism is a low standard. After all, Herod’s response to a possible new king was to slaughter every firstborn child. These were dark men, and they brought dark times.

Remember, the Jews were proud, but they’d been kicked around for a few centuries. It all went downhill after David; a thousand years of problems followed. First, they fought among themselves, leaving them weak. Prophets kept warning the Jews, but the Jews kept killing them. The Assyrians bullied them, and then the Babylonians. The Babylonians even held them captive for a while. Eventually the Jews wandered back to the Promised Land, only to have Alexander the Great storm through. Then came the Romans, and that’s where things stood.

Put yourself in the sandals (grateful to have them) of those Jews at the time. Consider how you would have felt. You would have felt weak, abused, and helpless. You also felt a little guilty. Why? Before David, the Jews considered Yahweh their king. Installing a king, for the Jews, would insult Yahweh. Later, though, the Jews watched as other nations rose up, and those nations had kings. The Jews got afraid, and they wanted political power, so they risked insulting Yahweh and made Saul king. Saul didn’t work out, but his successor David was a huge hit. David was one king, one brief moment of peace, and then it all crashed. By Jesus’ time, the Jews regretted all this. They came to think that their helplessness was payback. The Jews were helpless, and it was their own fault.

You can’t understand what a savior means until you need saving yourself.

The Spirit of Christmas isn’t about giving presents. It isn’t about warm wishes and sentimental gush. It isn’t about families gathered around a fireplace, spending one day posing as Hallmark people. It isn’t about football, or eating large birds, or winter sugar treats. It isn’t about tolerance.

The Spirit of Christmas is about being saved. It’s about feeling guilty and helpless, and reaching up with open arms, pleading for rescue. It’s about hitting rock bottom. It’s about moral exhaustion. It’s about knowing that much stronger people surround you, and they enjoy kicking you where it hurts. The Christmas Spirit is about finally realizing that no matter how clever, how compassionate, how handsome, how educated, how rich, or how well connected, the bad guys are stronger. You can’t win. They’re just too strong. The Romans win because they don’t care about you, and they don’t hesitate if they think they can gain any small advantage. They’ll kill you if they feel like it, and you can't stop it. Like it or not, you can’t win on your own.

Once you grasp that spirit, and you hit rock bottom, what can you do?

(1) We admitted we were powerless --that our lives had become unmanageable. (2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Dickens understood the Christmas Spirit. Think of Scrooge in the graveyard, seeing his own grave, weeping, and begging the dark spirit to give him one more chance. What had Scrooge experienced?

(4) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (5) Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (6) Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. (7) Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

The spirit of Christmas is forgiveness. When we realize how weak we are, we beg for a savior. The savior comes, not to defeat the bullies and rescue us from the strong, but to rescue us from ourselves. God didn’t come as a general; he came as an innocent child. We don’t receive power and strength to make war on our enemies; we simply receive forgiveness.

Scrooge immediately went out to all the people he’d harmed. He brought gifts to Bob Cratchett’s house and took care of Tiny Tim, but most importantly, he asked their forgiveness. He returned to his nephew and repented. The Christmas Spirit wasn’t about merely gifts; the gifts had a purpose to them. What, do you suppose, was that purpose?

(8) Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. (9) Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

The spirit of Christmas isn’t about giving at all. The Christmas spirit is entirely about receiving; not gifts, but forgiveness. Before Christmas, we come to see how weak we are in this world. When Christmas comes, we don’t get any stronger. The Romans don’t go away. Death will still come for Ebenezer Scrooge. We remain as weak after Christmas as we were before it. But strength isn’t the point of Christmas; forgiveness is. That’s why, whatever we do, we need to keep asking for forgiveness.

(10) Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. (11) Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. (12) Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Let it be said of us, then, what Dickens said of Scrooge: “it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”
 
 
 

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News:  The Conscious Word is Now Available With A 2 Week FREE Trial
 

The Conscious Word is an email newsletter sent directly to you each day.  Each issue contains an inspirational affirmation designed to help uplift your spirits and support your conscious efforts at personal and spiritual growth and development.

By practicing the affirmation which we email to you, for 3 to 4 minutes a day, you create an effective tool that will help you experience an ongoing positive change in your life. 

We all “know” many things.  However, “knowing” something, in and of itself, does not make it “true” to us.  We can read all about oranges; we can look at pictures of oranges and we can talk to people who have eaten oranges.  But, until we taste the orange ourselves, we do not truly understand the full truth about what an orange is. 

Likewise, we can experience the “truth”, the real nature, of many more subtle and essential concepts by “tasting” them.  One of the capabilities of an affirmation is to provide us with a “taste” of the subject matter of the affirmation.

However, something else is also at work in an affirmation.  One of the secrets of the universe is that when a human believes something is so, it becomes what he or she believes.

Jesus said “Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, `Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea,' it shall be done.  And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”  (Book of Matthew verses 21 and 22)

The key words in this quote are “If ye have faith and doubt not..” and “all things whatsoever ye shall ask believing..”

Jesus is describing this receptivity of the universe to human belief.  However, there are requirements for this belief to be effective.  Jesus says we must have “faith” without doubt and that we must “believe” as we ask.

James Allen’s famous premise “As a man Thinketh, so it is” expresses this same truth.

In essence, when we become utterly convinced of the truth of something, which means we have absolutely no doubts about it, the universe will be molded and shaped to match our conviction.  The challenging part is to find a way to become convinced of something that is not yet actualized.  To cultivate our faith.  This is where affirmations can help.

By taking a thought or collection of thoughts and impressing them deeply upon the mind with persistence and concentration,  a conviction can be cultivated.  Developing our own personal convictions, especially about ourselves, and then deepening and persisting in those convictions is a major key to our health, happiness and success in life.

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Looking for a unique gift for the holidays?  Consider gift subscriptions to The Conscious Word.  For more information, click Here.

 

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In our attempt to offer new products and services which support your efforts at personal and spiritual growth, The Conscious Living Foundation is now offering for the first time, tours and pilgrimages to various parts of the world.  Our first effort in this direction, is the following collection of escorted tours to India: 
 

Tour No. 1 - Exotic India:

It is impossible not to be astonished by India.   Experience luxurious palaces and romantic desert tents, chauffeurs and rickshaws, colorful bazaars and ancient forts, timeless observatory technology, temples, turbans, tribal dances and regional folk music, historic architecture, Mughal art, exquisite jewelry, sumptuous fabrics, incredible handicrafts, exotic foods, - the culture, the people, the land of Incredible India – it is all there for you to experience on your Exotic India tour! 

Nowhere on Earth does humanity present itself in such a dizzying, creative burst of cultures and religions, races and tongues. Every aspect of the country presents itself on a massive, exaggerated scale, worthy in comparison only to the superlative mountains that overshadow it.

Visit - DELHI – AGRA – JAIPUR – JODHPUR -MANVAR– DELHI- -KOLKATA  (formerly Calcutta)

The Exotic India escorted tour features 4 and 5 star hotels, to give you a taste of the Raj.

Next Exotic India Escorted Tour:  February 10 - 24, 2007
(We are also planning our next escorted Exotic India tour for the fall of 2007, check back for details.)

For a complete itinerary and details, click Here.
 

Tour No. 2 - Pilgrimage To India - A Journey of the Heart:

Recommended for those who wish to experience the spiritual side of India at it’s best.  Focusing exclusively on reverential visits to the places associated with the great Guru Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda and His spiritual lineage, this journey of the heart takes you to northern India to visit many of the places described in the spiritual classic “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda. 

You will thrill at seeing the lofty Himalayan mountains and you will blissfully float on the ancient holy Ganges River, but even greater experiences await you!  On this soul-etching pilgrimage, you will soar in gratitude as you take the dust of Babaji’s Cave or sit under the litchi tree where The Master taught on the sacred grounds of Ranchi.  Your heart will know the grandeur of immersion in lofty thoughts of The Great Ones as you visit the spots hallowed by Them, and you will be floating in joy each time you give your heart in stillness to the spiritual vibrations that abound in these holy places. 

If you are wanting a spiritual boost or a new beginning, this journey of the heart is a trip of a lifetime, and for many the pilgrimage experience gives a new perspective on their spiritual life; it is a dream fulfilled for those wanting to say with The Guru ‘…I am hallowed, my body touched that sod.”

Next Pilgrimage:  Jan. 13 - Feb. 10, 2007

NOTE: This fall’s Pilgrimage to India will be very special because it will include an historic event at the
YSS Ranchi Ashram during their Sharad Sangam (Convocation).  An expansive new YSS temple will be inaugurated during the week of classes and festivities.  It is anticipated that at least one of the SRF Board of Directors will be going to India to dedicate the beautiful new temple on the YSS Ranchi Ashram grounds during the Sharad Sangam. 

There are 2, 3 and 4 week itineraries available.  Click Here for details.

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Appeal:  We Depend On Your Donations -

The Conscious Living Foundation's only source of income is your donations and purchase of our products.  If you enjoy our newsletter and website, if you receive inspiration and encouragement from our efforts, we urge you to make a donation to help sustain and grow this work.

By helping us, you are supporting the spiritual growth of the tens of thousands of people from all over the world, who regularly visit our website.

Click Here for more information.  Thank you!


 
Christmas Story: One Solitary Life                               
           

He was born in an obscure village,
the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village,
where he worked in a carpenter shop
until he was thirty.
Then for three years
he was an itinerant preacher.
He never set foot inside a big city.
He never traveled two hundred miles
from the place he was born.
He never wrote a book,
or held an office.
He did none of these things
that usually accompany greatness.

While he was still a young man,
the tide of popular opinion
turned against him.
His friends deserted him.
He was turned over to his enemies,
and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross
between two thieves.
While he was dying,
his executioners gambled
for the only piece of property he had -
his coat.
When he was dead,
he was taken down
and laid in a borrowed grave.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone,
and today his is the central figure
for much of the human race.
All the armies that ever marched,
and all the navies that ever sailed,
and all the parliaments that ever sat,
and all the kings that ever reigned,
put together
have not affected the life of man
upon this earth as powerfully as this
"One Solitary Life."

  

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News:  Special Discounts Continue - Buy 1, Second at 1/2 Price -      

The holiday season is fast approaching; if you're considering buying a gift for a friend or loved one, why not select gifts that can genuinely make a difference in their lives?  This time, give books, videos and CDs that will continue to inspire and encourage throughout the year.  To view our entire catalog of products, click Here.

We make buying even easier with our "Second 1/2 Price" special discounts.  Buy any of our selected products at the usual price and buy another great book or CD at 1/2 price.  Click Here to see our great selection of best sellers and favorites.  They include audio versions of your all time favorites, perfect to listen to while driving or exercising.

Deepen your practice of the techniques that bring new joy and hope into your life - and give the gift of a deeper spiritual life and increased personal growth.

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News:  Exploring The Free Downloads Library of The Conscious Living Foundation
 

 

One of the most popular sections of our website is our Free Downloads Library.  It is made up of several sections which are updated on a continuous basis (Click on any underlined words to go directly to that section):

 

Spoken Word Audio 

(Lectures, Talks, Sermons, Recorded Comments, Classes and Workshops)

 

Our Spoken Word Audio section currently includes recordings made by Mahatma Gandhi, Rabbi Michael Laitman, Billy Graham, Amee Semple McPherson, Kathryn Kulman, William Simpson, Krishnamurti and The Dalai Lama.

 

In addition, it contains recordings of works such as:  The Book of Proverbs, The Game of Life by Florence Scovel Shin, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A' Kempis, Practicing The Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles, The Dialogs of St. Catherine of Siena and As a Man Thinketh and Byways To Blessedness by James Allen.

 

Music

(Music and sounds from a variety of sources, styles and historical periods)

 

Our Music and Audio section contain a wide range of musical styles from various historical periods, but all "spiritual" in nature.  They currently include selections from such albums as:  Yoga Heart Healing, MasterPeace, Harmony in Disarray, Siddartha, Hush and Feel, Gospel Music, Tara Mantras, Soul Calls, The Kyoto Connection, Daughter of Love, Dream World, Buddhist Chanting, Songs For The Soul, Mind Sailing, Timeless Vibrations, Heart of the Mother, Yosemite Suite, Connected, The Cosmic Chants of Paramahansa Yogananda, Marti Walker, Hindu Chants, The Reflecting Pool, Winter Snow and Strings and Root Road Flute.

 

Video

(Large variety of films and videos, historic and modern, documentary and talks)

 

Our Video section currently contains:  The Ocean At Dusk - Guided Relaxation, A Biography of Mother Teresa, Meditation and Movement, Imagination Meditation, Laughter Meditation, Music for Meditation and Healing, A CNN Report on the Health Benefits of Meditation, A Biography of Mary Baker Eddy, A Man of God - An Interview with Leonard Ravenhill, Paramahansa Yogananda & Sri Yukteswar, Paramahansa Yogananda & Ramana Maharshi, Paramahansa Yogananda at Mt. Washington, Paramahansa Yogananda on a Walk In New York, Paramahansa Yogananda Demonstrating How To Sleep, Krishnamurti Talks on Freedom, Krishnamurti Talks on Life and Death, Krishnamurti  Talks on Meditation and Krishnamurti Talks on World Suffering.

 

Still Images

(Nature Pictures, Saints, Sages, Gurus, Mandalas, Chakras, Fine Art)

 

Our collection of pictures is too large to list in detail, but we promise that you will browse for quite some time in order to see them all.

 

Complete Audio Classics

(Complete Plays, Radio Dramatizations, Books Read Aloud

and Stories To Entertain The Entire Family

- With a special collection for children)

 

Our audio classics are dramatic portrayals designed to primarily entertain, but with wholesome content that expresses positive values and that are suitable for the entire family to experience together.  They include such titles as:

 

The Importance of Being Earnest, Treasure Island, A Tale of Two Cities, War of the Worlds, Abraham Lincoln, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Immortal Sherlock Holmes, Around The World In 80 Days, Pickwick Papers, Julius Caesar and Jane Eyre.

 

In addition, there is a special Children's Section containing dramatizations and readings especially created for younger children.  They include such titles as:  The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, Jack and The Bean Stalk, Puss and Boots, Blue Beard, Thumbelina, Cinderella, Twas the Night Before Christmas, Snowdrop and the 7 Dwarves, Robin Hood, The Golden Fleece, Beauty and The Beast, Rapunzel, King Arthur, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Magic Carpet and many, many more!

 

Wall Paper

(Large Beautiful Pictures with Inspirational Quotes Suitable To Place on The Background of Your Computer Desktop or Screensaver Program.)

 

The images in this section of the newsletter are a few of the selections contained in our Wall Paper Download Library.  To read the inspirational inscriptions, visit us by clicking "Wall Paper" above.

 


 

Let's share the gifts for which we are most grateful:
 joy, wisdom, love and the means to increase them in our lives. 
Click Here for our special discounts.

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The Origin of "The 12 Days of Christmas"

Some things are not as they seem, and if we judge something quickly, we may miss something very special about it. Several songs are that way. If you don't know the background, or as Paul Harvey so often said, "The Rest of the Story" then you deprive yourself of beauty and warmth. One such example is the story behind this song. You may wonder how "The Twelve Days of Christmas" still fits into the 2000's. It is not simply an archaic design by the songwriter.

In 16th century England (following the accession of Elizabeth 1) the English who remained loyal to Roman Catholicism found themselves on the wrong side of the law. They were forbidden by royal degree to teach the catechism to their children. So they disguised their teachings in metaphors and put them to a tune. "The 12 Days of Christmas" is one of those resulting songs. The carol reveals truths about Christ's life and message, highlighting several important to the Catholic faith.

The singer of the carol is the ordinary person who believes in Christ, and his 'true love' is God the Father. The accumulative pattern of going back each time through all the verses teaches the ongoing and abundant blessings of a loving God. We repeat to help us not forget what we have received. The whole song is a joyful celebration of what God has done for us.

  1. The partridge, a bird reputed to choose death to defend its young, is an ancient Christian symbol of Christ. Certainly one can see how Jesus' sacrifice was a gift to us?
  2. The two turtledoves signify the sacrifice offered in the temple by Joseph and Mary at the presentation of the Christ-child in the temple. (Some say that these two are actually the two testaments, Old and New, that were given to us by God.)
  3. The three 'French hens', priceless poultry in Elizabethan England, represent the three valuable gifts of the Magi. (Elsewhere I have seen that the three French Hens represent the three best things: Faith, Hope and Love.)
  4. The four 'calling birds' are the Gospel writers, that call us to Jesus. (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
  5. The five 'golden rings' represent the Torah, the first five books of the Scripture. (Did the Olympic symbol start here?)
  6. The six 'geese a-laying' represent the six days of creation.
  7. The seven 'swans a-swimming' are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. (Corinthians 12:9-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4:10-11)
  8. The eight 'maids a-milking' are the Beatitudes, which nourish our spirituality. (Matthew 5:3-11)
  9. The nine 'ladies dancing' refer to the nine choirs of angels. Again, some say that these represent the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  10. The ten 'lords a-leaping' are the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20)
  11. The eleven 'pipers piping' signify the 11 original and loyal Apostles, who proclaimed the resurrection.
  12. The twelve 'drummers drumming' are the twelve beliefs enshrined in the Apostles' Creed.

When you next hear "The Twelve Days of Christmas," maybe you can use the occasion to lift your heart and mind to God in a new way because of the Christian symbolism in what may be a 'simplistic' and 'repetitious' Christmas song.

 

 

For a collection of affirmations, click Here.
For a large variety of inspiring quotations, click Here.

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News:  Gurutej - Kundalini Yoga Video Collection

For thousands of years in India, the sacred science and technology of Kundalini Yoga was veiled in heavy secrecy. Knowledge was shared verbally from master to chosen disciple. 

“Yoga” means integration or union of the soul with the Cosmos or a Supreme Being.

Yoga comes in many forms specifically designed to suit different kinds of people. As the yoga of awareness, Kundalini is an ancient, specific system using posture-exercises, breathing and sound. 

Practicing it integrates and balances body, mind and spirit. Kundalini, known as the seat of all knowledge, is one of the few yoga practices which is practical and easily incorporated into everyday life, regardless of your beliefs, philosophy or religion.

To learn more about:
- Kundalini Yoga For Mental Clarity
- Kundalini Yoga For The Immune System
- Kundalini Yoga Awakening Intuition For Women
- Kundalini Yoga For Balanced Chakras
Click
Here

 

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Let's share the gifts for which we are most grateful:
 joy, wisdom, love and the means to increase them in our lives. 
Click Here for our special discounts.

New Delicious Vegetarian Recipes:    Christmas Cookies!  


Crisp Sugar Cookies -

Original recipe yield:
48 servings

PREP TIME  15 Min
COOK TIME  10 Min
READY IN  25 Min

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with the milk. Cover and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut out cookies into desired shapes and place 2 in. apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

       

Date Swirls Cookies


 
Original recipe yield:
24 servings

PREP TIME  30 Min
COOK TIME  10 Min
READY IN  40 Min

 

INGREDIENTS

  • FILLING:
  • 2 cups chopped dates
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • DOUGH:
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a saucepan, combine filling ingredients. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes stiff, about 15-20 minutes. Chill.
  2. For dough, cream butter and sugars in a mixing bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add extract. Combine flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Chill for at least 1 hour.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough to a 12-in. x 9-in. rectangle, about 1/4-in. thick. Spread with half of the filling. Roll up, starting with the long end. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Wrap with plastic wrap; chill overnight.
  4. Cut rolls into 1/4-in. slices. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

Deluxe Chocolate Marshmallow Bars       

Original recipe yield:
36 servings

PREP TIME  25 Min
COOK TIME  20 Min
READY IN  45 Min

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • TOPPING:
  • 1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups crisp rice cereal

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until fluffy. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa; add to creamed mixture. Stir in nuts if desired. Spread in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 18 minutes. Sprinkle marshmallows evenly over cake; return to oven for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a knife dipped in water, spread the melted marshmallows evenly over cake. Cool. For topping, combine chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and well blended. Remove from heat; stir in cereal. Spread over bars immediately. Chill.

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News:  Conscious Money Circulation "Abundant Blessings"
 

Would you like to have a greater feeling of being in the flow of abundance?   Is the activity of paying your bills a time of stress and anxiety for you?  The meditation, affirmations and background music on this CD were created to provide an uplifting and expansive experience of abundance and prosperity while paying bills.

Abundant Blessings contains a meditation and affirmations for Conscious Money circulation. The meditation guides you within, to a place of centered calm. Affirmations of abundance and gratitude play in the background while you pay your bills or any time that you would like to be uplifted.

Play this CD and transform the mundane into the miraculous as you pay bills with gratitude and JOY!

To find out more about Abundant Blessings, click Here.

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News:  Destiny Designer - A Practical Aid To Organize Your Life
 

Even when we read spiritual books; even when we exercise; even when we practice affirmations and positive thinking;
even when we pray and meditate - it is not enough until we undertake these actions - consistently every day.  If we aren't organized, we aren't committed.


Virtually all organized, responsible business professionals carry them. They are essential.  They are the omnipresent symbols of our busy, complicated lives. They are, of course…day planners. And until now they have performed just two functions, where to be or what to do next: the next meeting, the next event, the next task, the next party, the next phone call...

Now there is the Destiny Designer,™ a breakthrough personal calendar/planner that demands your focus on enhancing the fullness and richness of your life as much as it does managing your daily routine. If you use this one-of-a-kind tool every day, you will create the life you most passionately desire!

In our busy lives we often do that which screams for our attention first, not what truly moves our lives forward in a real and fulfilling way. Destiny Designer™ is designed to keep you centered on what is actually important in your life - not merely what you must get done in your profession.  Find Out More - Click Here.

 

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A Poem by William Simpson -

                                                                         Tomorrow

 

When everything is said

When all words cease

When the breeze is still

When the birds sleep

 

When there is calm between friends and

Lovers peacefully share their bed

 

When every care is embraced,

When every thought is satisfied

 

A joy shall awaken

A faint flame shall kindle

Slowly spreading itself through

Sleepy souls cold and bitterly aching

For its warmth.

 

It shall grow into a great conflagration

Igniting every sorrow and pain

Withering every fear and regret

Until united in our great shared joy

 

We shall merge into that greater Joy

Holding hands and embracing

Uncontrollable laughter resounding with relief,

 

Tears washing the crevices of our smiles

Forgiveness and understanding clothing us

In angelic radiance

 

Unbounded recognition of our

Shared love and kinship

Dissolving the last barrier.

 

Voices in accord,

Harmonizing in serenity and felicity

Transported in one shared delight

 

Then

 

We shall go out in joy

And be led back in peace and

The mountains and hills before us

Shall burst into song.

 

(From the collection, "From The Path - Verses On The Mystic Journey" click Here for more)

Copyright 2004 by The Conscious Living Foundation, All Rights Reserved

Let's share the gifts for which we are most grateful:
 joy, wisdom, love and the means to increase them in our lives. 
Click Here for our special discounts.


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News:  Two New Music CDs:  "Soul Calls" and "Yoga Heart Healing"

 

Spirituality is a quiet inner quality that eclipses all boundaries of land, caste, profession, and religion, - and it manifests in many ways. For those whose spirituality seeks an ever deepening personal peace, the music of the SOUL CALLS provides a peaceful, soothing vibrational environment for the heart and mind of the listener. For those who are actively engaged in the interior life of loving God, the lyrics of the SOUL CALLS affirm the longing for and the presence of the Divine Beloved. Touching the heart of the peace-giver, the spiritual seeker and the devotee alike, the SOUL CALLS take the consciousness within ~ to the place of peace.   Click Here
 

 

 

 

YOGA HEART HEALING was created from the need to heal Anahata, the fourth chakra, considered the seat of universal love.   Anahata is the color green.  Our recording was created to support your practice of yoga, massage and other nurturing and healing activities.

 

Inspired by Dharma teachings from both Hindu and Buddhist wisdom, Yoga Heart Healing will open your heart chakra with its rich vibrant textures of soothing melodic transitions.  - just click Here!

  

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Story:  Gift Of The Magi
One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."

The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."

"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."

Down rippled the brown cascade.

"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

"Give it to me quick," said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"

At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."

"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"

Jim looked about the room curiously.

"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."

The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

 

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News:  New Audio CD - Embracing The Stillness - Lessons In Meditation

 
Embracing The Stillness is a collection of meditation techniques explained and practiced with the Director of The Conscious Living Foundation, William Simpson.

It contains the following tracks:

  1. Discovering The Purpose of Our Lives  (2:29)
  2. How To Meditate  (3:22)
  3. Meditation on a Devotional Phrase  (11:01)
  4. Affirmation for Relaxation and Happiness  (6:45)
  5. Learning the Technique of Meditating on Om  (5:46)
  6. Meditation on Chanting Om  (6:25)
  7. Affirmation for Health, Wealth and Wisdom  (8:28)
  8. Sitting in the Stillness  (3:31)
  9. Affirmation for Perfection, Immortality and Light  (11:25)
  10. Visualization and Prayer for Others  (2:44)
  11. What We Believe  (1:31)

"There is an essential part of our being which exists beyond thought and feeling - pure awareness.  When we can remain present, alert and calm, we discover the fertile ground upon which we can plant the seeds of immediate growth, positive change and joy". 

William Simpson -
from "Embracing The Stillness"

To hear some sample selections from this new recording, click Here.

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Let's share the gifts for which we are most grateful:
 joy, wisdom, love and the means to increase them in our lives. 
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Hanukah - A History:
  
More than 2000 years ago there was a time when the land of Israel was part of the Syrian Empire, dominated by Syrian rulers of the dynasty of the Seleucids.

In order to relate the story that led up to Chanukah, we shall start with Antiochus III, the King of Syria, who reigned from 3538 to 3574 (222-186 B.C.E.). He had waged war with King Ptolemy of Egypt over the possession of the Land of Israel. Antiochus III was victorious and the Land of Israel was annexed to his empire. At the beginning of his reign he was favorably disposed toward the Jews and accorded them some privileges. Later on, however, when he was beaten by the Romans and compelled to pay heavy taxes, the burden fell upon the various peoples of his empire who were forced to furnish the heavy gold that was required of him by the Romans. When Antiochus died, his son Seleucus IV took over, and further oppressed the Jews.

Added to the troubles from the outside were the grave perils that threatened Judaism from within. The influence of the Hellenists (people who accepted idol-worship and the Syrian way of life) was increasing. Yochanan, the High Priest, foresaw the danger to Judaism from the penetration of Syrian-Greek influence into the Holy Land. For, in contrast to the ideal of outward beauty held by the Greeks and Syrians, Judaism emphasizes truth and moral purity, as commanded by God in the holy Torah. The Jewish people could never give up their faith in God and accept the idol-worship of the Syrians.

Yochanan was therefore opposed to any attempt on the part of the Jewish Hellenists to introduce Greek and Syrian customs into the land. The Hellenists hated him. One of them told the King’s commissioner that in the treasury of the Temple there was a great deal of wealth.

The wealth in the treasury consisted of the contributions of "half a shekel" made by all adult Jews annually. That was given for the purpose of the sacrifices on the altar, as well as for fixing and improving the Temple building. Another part of the treasury consisted of orphans’ funds which were deposited for them until they became of age. Seleucus needed money in order to pay the Romans. He sent his minister Helyodros to take the money from the treasury of the Temple. In vain did Yochanan, the High Priest, beg him not to do it. Helyodros did not listen and entered the gate of the Temple. But suddenly, he became pale with fright. The next moment he fainted and fell to the ground. After Helyodros came to, he did not dare enter again.

The "Madman"

A short time later, Seleucus was killed and his brother Antiochus IV began to reign over Syria (in 3586 - 174 B.C.E.). He was a tyrant of a rash and impetuous nature, contemptuous of religion and of the feelings of others. He was called "Epiphanes," meaning "the gods’ beloved." Several of the Syrian rulers received similar titles. But a historian of his time, Polebius, gave him the epithet Epimanes ("madman"), a title more suitable to the character of this harsh and cruel king.

Desiring to unify his kingdom through the medium of a common religion and culture, Antiochus tried to root out the individualism of the Jews by suppressing all the Jewish Laws. He removed the righteous High Priest, Yochanan, from the Temple in Jerusalem, and in his place installed Yochanan’s brother Joshua, who loved to call himself by the Greek name of Jason. For he was a member of the Hellenist party, and he used his high office to spread more and more of the Greek customs among the priesthood.

Joshua or Jason was later replaced by another man, Menelaus, who had promised the king that he would bring in more money than Jason did. When Yochanan, the former High Priest, protested against the spread of the Hellenists’ influence in the Holy Temple, the ruling High Priest hired murderers to assassinate him.

Antiochus was at that time engaged in a successful war against Egypt. But messengers from Rome arrived and commanded him to stop the war, and he had to yield. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, a rumor spread that a serious accident, had befallen Antiochus. Thinking that he was dead, the people rebelled against Menelaus. The treacherous High Priest fled together with his friends.

The Martyrs

 Antiochus returned from Egypt enraged by Roman interference with his ambitions. When he heard what had taken place in Jerusalem, he ordered his army to fall upon the Jews. Thousands of Jews were killed. Antiochus then enacted a series of harsh decrees against the Jews. Jewish worship was forbidden; the scrolls of the Law were confiscated and burned. Sabbath rest, circumcision and the dietary laws were prohibited under penalty of death. Even one of the respected elders of that generation, Rabbi Eliezer, a man of 90, was ordered by the servants of Antiochus to eat pork so that others would do the same. When he refused they suggested to him that he pick up the meat to his lips to appear to be eating. But Rabbi Eliezer refused to do even that and was put to death.

There were thousands of others who likewise sacrificed their lives. The famous story of Hannah and her seven children happened at that time.

Antiochus’s men went from town to town and from village to village to force the inhabitants to worship pagan gods. Only one refuge area remained and that was the hills of Judea with their caves. But even there did the Syrians pursue the faithful Jews, and many a Jew died a martyr’s death.

Mattityahu

One day the henchmen of Antiochus arrived in the village of Modin where Mattityahu, the old priest, lived. The Syrian officer built an altar in the marketplace of the village and demanded that Mattityahu offer sacrifices to the Greek gods. Mattityahu replied, "I, my sons and my brothers are determined to remain loyal to the covenant which our God made with our ancestors!"

Thereupon, a Hellenistic Jew approached the altar to offer a sacrifice. Mattityahu grabbed his sword and killed him, and his sons and friends fell upon the Syrian officers and men. They killed many of them and chased the rest away. They then destroyed the altar.

Mattityahu knew that Antiochus would be enraged when he heard what had happened. He would certainly send an expedition to punish him and his followers. Mattityahu, therefore, left the village of Modin and fled together with his sons and friends to the hills of Judea.

All loyal and courageous Jews joined them. They formed legions and from time to time they left their hiding places to fall upon enemy detachments and outposts, and to destroy the pagan altars that were built by order of Antiochus.

The Maccabees

 Before his death, Mattityahu called his sons together and urged them to continue to fight in defense of G d’s Torah. He asked them to follow the counsel of their brother Shimon the Wise. In waging warfare, he said, their leader should be Yehuda the Strong. Yehuda was called "Maccabee," a word composed of the initial letters of the four Hebrew words Mi Komocho Bo’eilim Hashem, "Who is like unto Thee, O God."

Antiochus sent his General Apolonius to wipe out Yehuda and his followers, the Maccabees. Though greater in number and equipment than their adversaries, the Syrians were defeated by the Maccabees. Antiochus sent out another expedition which also was defeated. He realized that only by sending a powerful army could he hope to defeat Yehuda and his brave fighting men.

An army consisting of more than 40,000 men swept the land under the leadership of two commanders, Nicanor and Gorgiash. When Yehuda and his brothers heard of that, they exclaimed: "Let us fight unto death in defense of our souls and our Temple!" The people assembled in Mitzpah, where Samuel, the prophet of old, had offered prayers to God. After a series of battles the war was won.

The Dedication

Now the Maccabees returned to Jerusalem to liberate it. They entered the Temple and cleared it of the idols placed there by the Syrian vandals. Yehuda and his followers built a new altar, which he dedicated on the twenty-fifth of the month of Kislev, in the year 3622.

Since the golden Menorah had been stolen by the Syrians, the Maccabees now made one of cheaper metal. When they wanted to light it, they found only a small cruse of pure olive oil bearing the seal of the High Priest Yochanan. It was sufficient to light only for one day. By a miracle of God, it continued to burn for eight days, till new oil was made available. That miracle proved that God had again taken His people under His protection. In memory of this, our sages appointed these eight days for annual thanksgiving and for lighting candles.

 

 

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