July 25 ,
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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.
This issue begins with a collection of positive thoughts
and affirmations from a variety of sources - Muslim, Taoist, Jewish,
Hindu, Catholic and Protestant. I continue to be amazed at the
positive effect of keeping uplifting thoughts in mind.
We are also pleased to offer another thought provoking essay by Steve
Roberts entitled, "I Love Being An Alcoholic".
Steve is a regular
contributor to our newsletter and his new book, Cool Mind, Warm Heart -
Adventures With Life's Biggest Secret is available now on our
website and at booksellers everywhere.
As you know, in our last issue we announced the addition of an entirely
new and unique service from CLF - Tours and Pilgrimages to India. As
a follow up to that, we are including in this issue an interview with
Brenda Roberts, the person who escorts those joining our tours and
pilgrimages. During the interview, Brenda explores some of the
significant spiritual events she has experienced during her many visits
One of the themes running through this issue is the
importance of relaxation and stillness. Living in a 21st
century culture can often be stress producing, especially here in the
United States. So, we are offering a few excerpts from some
scientific exploration of two effective cures for stress - music and the
beauty of nature. It's always fun to get scientific confirmation
of things we've been experiencing personally.
We are also including a very powerful set of affirmations
designed for those in recovery. However, I urge everyone to take a
look. They express a wonderful "warrior" attitude toward life that
evokes an energetic sense of personal empowerment and determination.
We conclude with an essay from Charles Filmore, the
founder of Unity, entitled, "God Has Provided Prosperity For Every Home."
Developing a sense of the rightness of leading a prosperous and abundant
life is still a challenge for many of us, and I'm sure this article will
stimulate some new thinking on the subject.
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
With every breath, I'm experiencing the natural law of giving and
receiving. Everything in this Universe manifests this law. Whether
it's called the law
of Compensation or the law of reciprocity, it's working. And its working
Because everything is completely unified all the time in an infinite
field of possibility, whatever I give to this world, I receive. And vice
versa. I am always participating in this dance of creation - breathing
breathing out, giving ideas and receiving their consequence, giving and
This wonderful law allows for movement, growth, health, and circulation.
And I can use it consciously. Wherever I feel stuck, I decide to prime
the pump by giving freely, with a heart that's wide open. Whether it's
time, money, understanding, or love - I decide to give. It's none of my
business how this giving comes back to me - that's the Law's job. I
simply give consciously, knowing that I'm directing an eternal spiritual
principle as I do so.
in this activity, I discover that in giving, I literally do receive.
Life becomes more about circulation! Just as you can't only breathe in,
nor only breathe out - it's the balance, natural, deep, and easy, that
brings joy to all that I am.
Thank god for this ability to use law consciously, and to let it work in
me. And so it is.
- Dr. Susanne Freeborn
The restless mind
is put at rest, and
the heart is illumined.
In the forms I beheld
along with the Friend.
Breaking the shackles,
You set me free
from all bondage.
and soaked in love is Kabir.
A water bearer had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole which
he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the
other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.
At the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the
cracked pot always arrived only half full. For two years this went on daily,
with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his
master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments,
fulfilled in the design for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was
ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was unable to
accomplish what it had been made to do.
After two years of enduring this bitter shame, the pot spoke to the water
bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself and I apologize to
you." "Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?" "I have been able,
f or these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack
in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house.
Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full
value from your efforts," the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion
he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the
beautiful flowers along the path." Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old
cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the
side of the path, and was cheered somewhat. But at the end of the trail, it
still felt the old shame because it had leaked out half its load, and so
again the pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, "Did you not notice that there were flowers only
on your side of the path, and not on the other pot's side? That's because I
have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted
flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we've walked back
from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick
these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being
just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."
Each of us has flaws. We're all cracked pots. But if we will allow Him, the
Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father's table. In God's great economy,
nothing goes to waste. Don't be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and
you, too, can bring something beautiful to the Father.
What will a man gain by knowing many scriptures? The one thing
needful is to know how to cross the river of the world. God alone is
real, and all else illusory.
While Arjuna was aiming his arrow at the eye of the bird, Drona asked
'What do you see? Do you see these kings.'
'No, sir,' replied Arjuna.
'Do you see me?'
'The tree?' No.'
'The bird on the tree?'
`What do you see then?'
'Only the eye of the bird.'
He who sees only the eye of the bird can hit the mark. He alone is
clever who sees that God is real and all else illusory. What need
have I of other information? Hanuman once remarked: 'I don't know
anything about the phase of the moon or the position of the stars.
I only contemplate Rama'.
- Sri Ramakrishna
Yield and overcome;
Bend and be straight;
Empty and be full;
Wear out and be new;
Have little and gain;
Have much and be confused.
...The ancients say, "Yield and overcome."
Is that an empty saying?
Be really whole,
And all things will come to you.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.
Going forward seems like retreat ...
For one gains by losing
And loses by gaining.
- Tao Te Ching
Thoughts on Grace:
Holiness is twofold... At first it is effort, then a gift...it is
impossible to attain this state on your own…In the end, the Blessed
Holy One will guide you on the path that it wishes and impart
holiness to you, so that you become holy. Then you will succeed,
attaining union continuously.
- The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism
In the preliminary stages of meditation, the effort seems to come
entirely from yourself; you keep forcing your mind to remain pointed
at its object. But now you become aware of an outside force, a
magnetic power of attraction which draws your mind in the desired
direction, so that effort is no longer your own. This is what is
known as grace.
- Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood.
This vision taught me that the continual seeking of the soul for God
is greatly pleasing to him, for all it can do is to seek, endure and
trust. And this the soul achieves by the Holy Spirit; and the
certainty that it has found God comes though his special grace…
- Julian of Norwich
0h merry hearts overcome
by music and pleasure,
ask wine from the player.
Surrender to the sound of the ney.
0h you lucky, drunken ones,
ride upon the horse of joy.
Sacrifice sorrow's steed
at the feet of good cheer.
0h sober ones,
drink this wine from the jar of Union,
then destroy the mind
that always looks so far ahead of itself.
Spring has come.
There are hundreds of colors
in the rose garden and the meadow.
Forget those dark, cold winter months.
Open the ear of your soul.
Listen to the music
at the tavern of eternity.
Stop repeating the alphabet.
Fill your skull with that divine wine.
For God's sake,
roll up the covers of reason and the mind.
remove the garment of self-consciousness.
Annihilate yourself while gazing
at the face of Immortal Beauty.
I live in a Universe of infinite intelligence and absolute power. It is
governed by spiritual laws that operate perfectly and impersonally. All that
I am is made from the stuff of the Universe. I am governed by these
spiritual laws. I can also use them, and I do.
I use these laws whether I know I do or not. They operate on the content of
my consciousness. As the only thinker in my mind, as the only one who can be
responsible for my emotional life, as the only one who can choose what to
believe, I decide what goes in my consciousness. I make wonderful choices
for myself, filling my mind with the kinds of ideas that feed it. I stay
emotionally clean and centered in every relationship. And I decide to
believe what is true.
When things don't go the way I expect, it doesn't mean that the laws are not
working. Rather than being upset or confused, I simply understand that
there's more to know. Every situation contains within it the seed for a
greater consciousness - one that is more fully aligned with the absolute
Truth of Spirit. I open to this, and let Spirit's infinite intelligence
guide my mind. I let the infinite compassion of Spirit make its home in my
heart. Naturally, lawfully, my life rearranges itself to fit this new
consciousness. My inner life must expand before my outer one can. So I do my
work, and let the universal spiritual principles do theirs. And it's good!
And so it is.
- Dr. Susanne Freeborn
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
Spiritual Poems - Click
I Love Being An Alcoholic by Steve
I Love Being an Alcoholic
Being an alcoholic is one of the best
things that ever happened to me. In fact, alcoholism may be among the
biggest contributors to human health.
I’m no expert, but my sense is that alcoholism was the first addiction
be addressed with a comprehensive program that actually worked on a
large scale, serving countless men and women who wished to live sober.
What’s more, developing effective methods of managing our lust for the
annihilation brought about by booze has heightened our awareness of the
nature and pervasiveness of addiction. And I don’t mean just things like
narcotics, food and gambling. I for one could be addicted to just about
anything I put my mind to—well, except perhaps stewed tomatoes and
people who spit in your face even when your mustache isn’t on fire.
In 1989, my future was clear: Do something about my relationship with
the various intoxicants I imbibed or live in the gutter.
While the evaluation at the drug rehab clinic confirmed the obvious and
I quickly signed up for treatment at the earliest opportunity, I drove
away holding two deep and conflicting emotions.
The first was relief. Finally, my denial breeched, this demon that had
been plaguing me for 30 years had a name—and, miraculously, it seemed
actually possible to free myself of its relentless grip.
Then came fear. My life as I had known it was over. I said aloud to
myself, “Damn, how am I going to get high now?”
I needn’t have worried.
Nearly two decades later, my gratitude for being a recovering alcoholic
only grows, for that addiction has helped me to realize how many others
shape who I am.
Anger, for instance. Few feelings give us such an intense rush as
self-righteousness, blame, condemnation, ridicule, sarcasm and any of
the other numerous ways anger shows us we’re afraid. Anger is simply
fear wearing a loud dress—the fear of embracing the pain within us and
freeing our heart.
Perhaps the only addiction as prevalent as anger is our denial of the
harm that such unmanaged fear always inflicts.
Have you noticed that the universe responds precisely to the energy we
put forth? Let’s say we have an intention to be healthy. Yet,
simultaneously, we believe that we are unworthy of being loved
unconditionally. Presto! That’s exactly what we create for ourselves:
the confusion and pain of health undermined by self-hatred. Think about
it. To what extent are diets, workouts, plastic surgeries, massages,
yoga retreats and whatnot fueled by our dislike of our body, which is
simply dislike of ourselves?
I once heard a monk say, “Unless you are fanatically positive, you will
never know your own soul.” The instant I turned single-minded about
being sober my life changed. For one thing, I met some amazing people,
all of them recovering addicts. No horror, no secret, no shame, no
embarrassment of mine was beyond the understanding and acceptance of
I know today that addiction was among the ways the universe responded to
my heart’s desire to love. I’m a little thick. I needed to be grabbed by
the throat and asked: “What’s it going to be, boy, live or die?”
Addiction, regardless of the form it takes, is a gift to the spiritual
warrior in each of us, should we accept it. From it can grow not just
the desire to stop banging our head against a brick wall as if it were
an Olympic sport, but also the courage to open ourselves to the
possibility that who we really are is someone beyond our wildest dreams.
To find out more about Steve, see examples
of his stone sculptures or read a chapter from his book, click Here.
Steve Roberts is the author of
Cool Mind Warm Heart, a collection of essays, stories, and
photographs of stone sculptures he builds on his Vermont farm. He
can be found on the web at CoolMindWarmHeart.com and at TheHeartOfTheEarth.com.
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.
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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
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
“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.
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
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.
“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)
words in this quote are “If ye have faith and doubt not..” and “all things
whatsoever ye shall ask believing..”
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.
Allen’s famous premise “As a man Thinketh, so it is” expresses this same
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.
The lead article in this month's newsletter, "The Predicament, The
Promise and The Process", lays out in great detail exactly how
we can use affirmations to develop conviction.
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.
For More Information and A Two Week Free Trial, Click
An Interview With Brenda Roberts
Brenda Roberts is the group
leader and escort for our Pilgrimage to India – Journey of the Heart tour.
This is the tour which focuses on
visiting places associated with Paramahansa Yogananda. Brenda has been a disciple of Paramahansa
Yogananda since 1972. She currently serves at the SRF
Escondido Meditation Center, and conducts
Women’s Farm Retreats at Little Creek Acres Farm in Valley Center, California
in addition to her work with our tours.
We thought that the story of her experiences in India might be of interest to
all our readers.
How many times have you been to India?
Brenda: This fall will be my 14th journey to India, however, 13 of those
journeys have been in the past 7 years because I’ve been escorting pilgrimage
groups twice a year since the year 2000.
When was your first visit to India?
first went to India – on pilgrimage – in 1977. I was mesmerized immediately.
Before going to India I never – even as a little girl - felt at home on this
planet. On that first trip, amid floods of soulful tears, I realized India was
the part of me that had been missing. What a homecoming! It completely took me
and to this day I don’t remember many of the details; I was absorbed in
the present moment of having come home. It was a good thing I had someone
looking after me!
Did you experience culture shock?
Brenda: Then, as now, the culture shock I experienced was not in going to India, but in
coming back to the States. That first time I came back, my body was back, but
my heart and consciousness were still absorbed in the India experience. Swami Sharananandaji greeted me after a Sunday
Service in Los Angeles and told my husband I was in bliss. I don’t know about that; all I know
is that there was nothing else in my consciousness but the old feeling of Spirit
India, like a deep meditation when you no longer have thoughts of self or place
or activity – you only feel the love of God.
How long did that last?
I don’t remember how long that lasted, but what came next was excruciating.
As it became necessary for me to reintegrate in my Western life, I became more
and more homesick for Mother India. I wanted to go back and live there.
But my husband was finishing his PhD and I was counseled to wait until
that was done and then we could consider it.
It was ten long years of
inner longing. I would hear an Indian accent and I would cry. I would hear
Indian music and I would cry. I would eat Indian food, and I would cry. After
many unsuccessful attempts to give God this deep heartfelt attachment, I went to
Brother Anandamoyji who was my spiritual counselor at that time. “Brother”, I
said amidst more tears, “I have tried to give this desire and attachment to
Yoganandaji, but I am so heartsick and home sick; India is the only part of me that
makes me feel whole, the only thing that is really mine.”
Brother was thoughtfully
quiet and then he said “Well, then, you really do have something precious to
give God, don’t you?” Golden magic words! Yes! It was the most precious thing
I had that was mine to the core. Although I had failed at giving the feelings
and desires to God, the idea that I had something really precious to offer, was
an immediate key to emotional freedom for me and I barely heard his following
words, although they registered deep in my consciousness unbeknown to me.
Brother continued: “ You have to get to the place where you do not want to go.”
And did you get to that place?
Brenda: Well, the angst left me almost immediately. Service at the Lake Shrine
Temple in Los Angeles became
my life. Going back never entered my mind until 21 years later when my husband
had an opportunity to go on pilgrimage to India. He had not been before and I
was overjoyed for him to go; I knew it would touch him deeply. It was then that
I found myself recalling Brother’s words and asking myself how I felt about not
going. Did I want to go? The answer was swift and definitive. No, I did not
want to go. I was thrilled that John was going to have this wonderful spiritual
experience of pilgrimage to India, but I harbored no desire to go.
So how did you happen to go so many times since then?
Brenda: Well, it’s a long story, so I’ll try to tell the short version! About 2 months
after John’s return, I was driving up to Los Angeles from Escondido, by myself,
on a rainy day. On the freeway, out of nowhere I heard an audible voice say
”You can go now.” I was startled and thought “who said that?” Then the voice
repeated again unexplainably audible: “You can go now.” And in an instant I
knew it meant India – not only could I go, but I must now go for the
unfoldment of the next step in my spiritual growth.
with that came an awareness that for quite some time I had the unconscious
conviction that in a past life I had experienced a closer relationship with God
than I had been able to access in this lifetime, and that the other lifetime was
in India. So each time I sat to meditate there was a part of my consciousness
that kept trying to get back that experience; back to that state of
consciousness related to that Indian lifetime. And further came the
understanding that in not “being present”, I was not able to move forward in
this lifetime. Somehow going back to India was the next step I needed to take.
But I didn’t realize exactly what that meant until I came back from India.
that is another story altogether, so we can fast forward to say that I did go
back quite a few times, each time undergoing the soul-etching, karma-burning,
life-changing experiences I needed, until at last I was able to experience India
in real time and not through the eyes of some dim distant belonging.
at this time, when I was free from the fetters of the past, that I came to
understand why I was born in this western body, and that I still had a
connection with India in this lifetime; I still had “work to do” in
India; work in and of this lifetime.
And what is this “work” of which you speak?
Brenda: Well, I wasn’t given a job description, and I’m sure it will all be revealed in
Divine Timing, but at least part of it is escorting these Pilgrimages to India.
My long love of India and the ease with which I integrate there has resulted in
many special friendships and abilities and connections to take those interested
in Paramahansa Yogananda, not
on a “trip to India,” but on a reverential pilgrimage to
Yoganandaji's India. With
the focus on Him; His places and His devotees, it is truly a journey of the
So what advice would you give to someone considering a pilgrimage to India?
Brenda: Oh, my! I could fill up pages answering that question! And I do that quite
literally. It is part of my specialty to provide lots of information and advice
for the pilgrim in preparation for the experience. And although there is no way
to fully prepare for what India has in store for the individual pilgrim, yet
there are many things to know and do ahead of time that can clear the way for
allowing more of your consciousness to be there in a spiritual way.
What does that mean?
often say that pilgrimage begins with the decision to do it! There are a
hundred questions on the mind of a pilgrim who has decided to go. Helping to
get those answered is my job. Then, it’s like training for a new adventure.
Advance warning of what you are likely to find, and how to deal with it, allows
you to maximize your efforts and your positive outcomes. You still have to deal
with the things that are endemic to the process you are undertaking, but it’s
not quite so shocking (if difficult) or it can be an even better experience if
your mind is tuned to appreciate what is likely to come.
Brenda: The areas of preparation are the areas of life: physical, mental, and
spiritual. I’ll give an example of spiritual preparation. And bear in mind
that I give my thoughts on the spiritual only in the preparation phase of the
pilgrimage – never when we are in India, for in India the pilgrim has already
been given the preparation tools and an awareness of how to use them before
arriving. Once there, each pilgrim is left to experience the pilgrimage and God's Presence at their own level, pace, ability and timing,
But in terms of spiritual
preparation, one piece of advice I give is for the devotee to begin now
to practice the Presence as much as possible with regard to the pilgrimage
preparation. Bring God and Guru into the process from the start. Then when
India offers up a difficulty, find God and Guru in that experience; don’t
get side-tracked by Maya. When the pilgrimage brings tender feelings of
the sweet Divine Presence (or seeming absence), embrace those feelings with
abandon; as a great yogi once said, “Don’t be afraid to cry for God.”
Ok, are there things to consider before making the decision to go on
Brenda: Yes, many. I won’t take up the space here, but anyone interested can email me
firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send them a sheet on “What to Consider…”
Having said that, what I have seen consistently about the big decision is this:
Hardly ever is pilgrimage a logical decision. Either everything comes
together magically, or the urge to go is so strong that not going is not an
Is it possible to have a personal and meaningful pilgrimage when traveling with
think this is a concern and question of many considering joining us.
Here’s the thing, it is at
once complex and simple. On one hand, if the group is too large, the logistics
of day to day and keeping up can become onerous. On the other hand if one is
able to truly experience God in all situations, then even large group dynamics
can be overcome. It’s a very personal call. For me, large groups create an
environment to be overcome, not an environment that supports the individual
experience. Just the noise and interactions alone are a drawback in my view.
Travel alone is also not
good in my view. Even for seasoned world travelers, India is challenging –
- even for the people who live there!! Usually, pilgrims are short on time
and/or money. Travel alone inevitably creates an incredible waste of time and/or
money, but further the consciousness has to be constantly involved with outer
details of trying to get from one place to another – a major feat in India.
They say half the experience is getting wherever you are going. This is
true and in the case of trying to do it solo, getting there becomes the
compelling element. If one has lots of time and money, even then travel
alone, while doable, still does not give you the depth and breadth of experience
possible with a knowledgeable escort. (Note that a lady traveling alone is
not well-viewed and at times not safe.)
The next alternative is to
travel with a personal escort. This works if you are comfortable with him
The escort should hopefully be one who has a spiritual component in their lives,
so that side of the experience is always cultivated and enhanced. Also, the escort should be able to help you through the
preparation phases as well as the journey,
The last alternative is the
one I think is the best way to go. Small groups with a focus on reverential
pilgrimages. With this focus, you are apt to be in the
company of like-minded spiritual seekers. Everyone is involved with experiencing their
own personal and meaningful experience of the Divine Presence while the escort
handles the logistics.
Everyone who has been on pilgrimage with me
has also attested to having a closer, more meaningful relationship with Spirit because of their pilgrimage experience.
So I think the answer is
a personal call; the key is to bring your spiritual awareness into the decision-making
process as to if, when, and who to go with. Spirit knows what is best. In India
you learn to trust That.
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