Browsing the archives for the Oneness tag

Wake Up Call! – Baggage Wisdom

 


BAGGAGE WISDOM

The baggage of your life will either be a teacher or a prison guard.

My friend Crystal was distraught. She said, “My Mom is unable to live in the present or acknowledge how blessed her life is.” She added, “The terrible mistreatment she had from an employer twenty-five years ago is something she keeps reliving and retelling to this day. I’ve had her go to therapy but to no avail. All she wants is for me to keep validating how awful the injustice was.”

Crystal had a choice to keep feeding her Mom’s baggage or detach from it.

In detaching from it Crystal discovered new freedom. She said, “I cannot accept the learning from that situation or be a prisoner to it; only Mom can make that choice. I can only love her for her wonderful qualities.”

The result has been Crystal’s sadness and frustration at her mother being replaced with a love that hopes for her freedom from her baggage.

Call-to-Action:

  • Be aware of the baggage that informs or imprisons life

  • Be present to the choices that you can make

Notice how letting of real hurts in your own life or that of another frees you to be lovingly present.

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Wake Up Call! – Let Go of What You Do Not Have

 


LET GO OF WHAT YOU DO NOT HAVE

To be thankful for what you have let go of what you do not have.

I remember my first Thanksgiving as if it were yesterday. It was my first year after leaving South Africa and I’d been invited to two gatherings. I wasn’t sure what to make of pumpkin pie but I loved the extended family gatherings I was included in. And then I began to think of my family so far away and how the only family I would have would be the one I created.

In that moment I had a choice to focus on what I did not have or open my energy and spirit to something different.

I knew I could not live in a place of longing for what I did not have. I looked around the room and realized that I was blessed by those who had included me.

In my moments of regret or longing I always go back to that moment and remember the life-lesson it still teaches. How will you be thankful for what you have?

Call-to-Action:

  • Let go of yearning for what you do not have

  • Be thankful for who and what you have today

Notice how being present to thankfulness enlivens you.

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Wake Up Call! – The Gratitude Bank

 


THE GRATITUDE BANK

A simple expression of gratitude to someone can be a gift to you both.

I was thinking a lot about Priscilla, a woman whose mere existence is one of the anchor’s in my life. I wrote her a short note expressing my gratitude to her and for the gift that she is in my life. As I dropped it in the mail box I paused and visualized her face.

Instead of taking her for granted I had chosen to be proactive.

I was bowled over by her response. She wrote back to say that she was house bound and feeling how disposable people can be and that my note had reminded her of the fullness of her life. “I still have purpose and meaning” she wrote.

I was deeply moved by what she said and glad for this luminous woman. In that moment I thought of how simple it to express gratitude to another person for simply being who they are.

Call-to-Action:

  • Be aware of the often unexpected people for whom you are grateful

  • Take a few minutes to express your gratitude

Notice how the currency of gratitude is a circle of thankfulness. Who will you express gratitude to today?

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Wake Up Call! – Being Awed!

 


BEING AWED!

Simple pleasures invite awe.

I was out early taking my dog Lucy for a walk. Unlike many of our walks I was preoccupied and wanted her ablutions to be completed quickly. As I looked to my left the morning sunrise had turned the sky into a brilliant blood orange color. I stopped – entranced by the beauty of it. As I turned to look for Lucy a rainbow was in the sky behind me.

Instead of resting in my preoccupation I entered into the awe of the moment.

Minutes later the rainbow was gone and the color of the sky was had become a dusky blue. I continued to walk slowly filled with awe and thankfulness for what I had experienced.

As I headed to my office my preoccupations seemed less important. The awe was more than just a pause in the day; it reminded to be present to awe wherever it presents itself.

Call-to-Action:

  • Be present to moments of awe

  • Take time to savor the awe

Notice how the rhythm of your day changes when simple pleasures invite you to be awed.

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Wake Up Call! – Shockingly Wonderful Guides

 


SHOCKINGLY WONDERFUL GUIDES

The unexpected guides who appear in our lives are shockingly wonderful.

A wise and generous-hearted guide appeared in my life two decades ago. As I wrestled with major decisions his words were a luminous light giving me hope and comfort. Then one day as I responded to a question of his he softly said, “You are full of…..” I was startled!

Instead of ignoring or being offended by his observation I intuitively knew he was correct.

I began to smile then laugh at the arresting yet loving way in which he was inviting me to be real and authentic. In that moment I knew that there was no place to hide from the inner work I needed to do.

This unexpected guide who mysteriously appeared in my life for a year periodically still connects to ask if I am present to the new insights along my journey. How will you respond to the unexpected guide whom life presents to you when you are open to new insight?

Call-to-Action:

  • Name the guides who have mysteriously appeared in your life

  • Allow yourself to be present to the guide who might be in your orbit already

Notice how your own journey is enriched when you are open to their shockingly wonderful presence.

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Wake Up Call! – Extraordinary Gifts!

 


EXTRAORDINARY GIFTS!

Transforming a gift into something extraordinary for others is an act of loving oneness.

I knew that the second box of Saffron given to me would remain unused so I asked a friend if she could use it. She was overjoyed to receive it. The next weekend she posted on Facebook that she had used the spice to make a chicken dish that she served to 100 people at a soup kitchen.

Instead of keeping the gift for the enjoyment of her immediate circle she chose to use it all in an offering for the hungry.

When I asked her what prompted this she said, “I wanted to use this exotic expensive spice to create a beautiful meal. I didn’t want to hold on to it like a personal treasure. The best part was seeing how much the meal was enjoyed.” Then she giggled with delight!

A simple act – a gift shared in the creation of an extraordinary meal – was with joy from those not expecting such a feast. What gift of yours will be transformed into something unexpected and extraordinary?

Call-to-Action:

  • Be mindful of the many gifts you have

  • Be present to unexpected opportunities to do something extraordinary

Notice how your act of transforming a gift into something for others affirms our oneness.

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Have you had your holy surprise today?

Robert V. Taylor

This piece was first published on Fox.com February 10, 2013

A holy surprise will grab your attention. Holy surprises are the events and people which interrupt the expected plans of your day. When you live with awareness of them your own humanity is enriched and expanded. Will you choose to allow them to punctuate your day with their invitation to playful delight about life?

For many people the work week, a job, family dynamics, a marriage or their own self-image is something to be endured.  They have become so practiced at “survival” that the endurance seems normal when in fact it is life and spirit sapping.  It serves no one for this to be your “reality.”

Instead, these four tips for choosing to be present to holy surprises invite you to a more enlivened experience of life.

1. Live beyond the “If only” half-script of your life.

I frequently hear people suggest that “If Only” a particular circumstance were different then they would be ready to embrace the yearnings of their lives. This only cedes your life to fear. It results in you becoming a bystander to your own being and purpose.

Holy surprises are the events and people which interrupt the expected plans of your day. When you live with awareness of them your own humanity is enriched and expanded.

It is on the edge of my fears that I am open to even small steps that become a pathway to transformed living. I once allowed my fear of failure to keep me from writing. I thought that if it was not excellent enough it would disappoint those around me and the institution I served. Too many of us allow others to keep us from our script.

A half-script is a gatekeeper to life. When we view events or people that rattle our complacency or awaken our fear of ourselves as a holy surprise we discover that they are an invitation to make choices to live into our own script. Our choice to respond to the surprise invites others to do the same and experience a life of richer engagement and delight.

2. Cultivate imagination each day

My maternal grandmother was born in Nazareth in the Holy Land. When I was young she would tell me Bible stories with graphic descriptions of the landscape and characters. They were tremendous!

Decades later I realized that her Bible stories often bore little resemblance to the book she was referencing. Her imagination engaged me and the kernels of wisdom and truth of the stories remade in her imagination seemed radiant.

Somewhere between the age of 6 and 8 many children are told to stop being “so silly” in exercising their imagination. In the creation stories of many religious traditions we learn that humanity is made in the image a Creator. But what if you think of yourself as being made, not in the image of, but the imagination of the ever-creating, ever-expanding Universe?

The closest word to “human” in Hebrew or the Latin homo is Adam which derives from the Hebrew root word for “imagination.” To be human is to participate in limitless imagination! Cultivating imagination allows us to experience the holy surprises that interrupt our days with new eyes.  Instead of disbelief, fear or resistance, we greet them as possibilities engaging our imaginative self.

3. Expect life to engage you with unexpected people.

Our own story is not a personal treasure for only ourselves and those within the circle of comfortable friends. When we can hold the diverse elements of our story together – including wonder, shame, regret and joy – there is a seamlessness about who we are that reveals wisdom and truth in the arc of our story. The result is a new and heightened compassion for yourself and others.

When you share your story with others you experience curiosity about their story. It becomes a common, sacred meeting ground with unexpected people who are not in the usual orbit of your life. Real differences may still exist with unexpected people on this expanded field of life but it is marked by anxiety making room for delight.

The professional and business groups I work with yearn to know how a story can be used to engage more authentically with colleagues and clients. Whether it is in your professional or personal life, the holy surprise of engaging with unexpected others through story allows suspicion to give way to insights previously unimagined. Oneness with humanity is no longer a theory but a delight.

4. Choose to bring new life to others and yourself.

When you engage in acts of generosity or self-giving your happiness index increases. Instead of being overwhelmed by seemingly inextricable problems in the world or your community be open to a holy surprise inviting you to respond with a simple action.

Walking on a Florida beach I was surprised by a bevy of volunteers marking off sites on the beach with stakes and tape. They were protecting the loggerhead turtles’ nesting ground in the sand. One volunteer told me he was inspired to do this work after learning that only one of every one thousand eggs laid results in a surviving turtle. I marveled at his simple yet joyous response in becoming a midwife to the turtles.

The surprise is often presented by an opportunity. A grandson noticed his 84-year-old grandmother’s delight in surfing the Internet and using Facebook to keep up on her large family. He knew that her old computer could not be used for watching the videos posted of her great grandchildren. He decided to buy her an iPad. The grandmother relishes the new tool she has for connection and learning.

Will you allow these four tools for embracing holy surprises to grab your attention each day? Your own well-being will be expanded by the playful delight you discover.
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Claiming Oneness for the Human Family?

Robert V. Taylor

This blog was first published on Huffington Post, October 24, 2012

Is Oneness among the human family a sweet mushy sentiment? Or is it a movement that can reshape how we think of ourselves and the planet? The observance of Global Oneness Day on October 24 is an invitation to align our intentions in creating Oneness. When our imagination and mindfulness are engaged, dramatic shifts in human consciousness are possible.

Oneness is not simply an idea; it is a choice about how to be human, engage with life and align our intentions and actions.  It is an intentional, mindful way of being that joins us with others in creating a more hopeful, compassionate and peaceful world.

For the last six months I’ve travelled the country on a speaking tour and I’m struck by the frequent questions around being more intentional about our inter-connectedness. It’s asked with a profound hunger for something beyond the rhetoric of political divisiveness and the arrogance of religions which teach an exclusivist theology.

If, as I believe, we are intended for Oneness then why is it not realized or more evident?  In the questions of those I talk to on the road there is a tension between their head and heart space. In their heart they have permitted the seeds of division and fear sown by religious and political leaders to build a nest. In their intellectual space they know that modern science provides empirical data that supports ancient mystic traditions about the inter-relatedness of all forms of human life.

The tension is whether to allow what we know to be true about our inter-connectedness to be trumped by a more cramped and dislocated way of being.

Instead of being enclosed by jadedness, Oneness creates awe and wonder about the world. When I am awake to appreciating that protecting the environment is indispensable to my well-being and that of others my awe at the wonder of this intricate ecosystem of life expands how I see my place in the world.

Instead of being fearful of difference, Oneness allows me to be grounded in the truth that each person seeks happiness in their life.  This shared yearning allows me to see beyond those who foment division by living a life of intentionally seeking a meeting ground on which happiness for all is sought by the acts we take and the words we use.

Instead of succumbing to the hate mongers, Oneness is a choice to be grounded in compassion and love.  With each choice I make to choose acts of love and compassion I am reminded that we are each hard-wired for such a life. I want to work and allow for the magnificence of others; my own magnificence depends on it.

Instead of a cramped unimaginative view of others, Oneness invites me to remember that I am made in the imagination of the Universe which is ever-expanding, ever-creating.  I become awake to the truth that instead of stasis, our well-being and aliveness is intricately connected to honoring the imagination discovered in each other and creation.

Instead of rigidly clutching at one path of spiritual truth, Oneness allows the tradition I am grounded in to be informed, enlivened, challenged and given new expansive life when I am open to the truth revealed in the spiritual tradition of others. The sacred existed long before any one religion and spirituality then ceases to be a battleground for exclusion giving way to a feast of wisdom and truth for all.

Oneness already exists in the inter-connectedness of creation and the Universe.  Global Oneness Day is a wake-up call to the human family to enter and celebrate it. It is an invitation to choose to be part of a shifting consciousness of our need for one another. How will you respond?

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Gay, Spiritual & Fully Alive

Robert V. Taylor

This blog first appeared in LA Weekly June 4, 2102, in response to their question “What does it mean to be gay?”

I’ve discovered that my spirituality is informed by being gay as much as being an out gay man shapes my spirituality. Gay, spiritual and fully alive is a choice about how to be human.

To be out, proud and thankful for it does not come easily to many LGBT people. I recall the shame I felt as an adolescent struggling with my sexuality. Surely the messages that religion tweeted about us could not be true? The agitated righteous anger of so many religious people was my clue that religion was huffing and puffing to conceal a more generous spiritual path.

In my teenage despair I thought it would be easier to end my life. I collected a handful of Paracetamol pills from the jar my mother kept, squirrelling them under my pillow for the night when I would end it all. On the night my shame seemed overbearing I took the ten pills I’d collected and said “I hope you’ll still love me God.” I was surprised to wake up the next morning as my mother called out to ready me for school.

To be ready for school became a metaphor for going beyond my fears readying me for a different path. I’ve never forgotten my thankfulness for being alive that morning. I still had years of work ahead to accept, love and be proud and thankful for the gift of being gay – a journey whose truths I would never have known otherwise. It’s given me a lifelong passion for every person to have the love and courage to embrace their identity.

That thwarted attempt on my own life left an indelible mark of wanting young LGBT people to have role models and mentors so that they will not harm or take their own life. Even with the seismic shifts in the acceptance of LGBT people the struggle to come to terms with sexual orientation is still a minefield for young people who are bullied and harassed for who they are. I can give back by being proud and sharing the resources of truth that keep me ready to be enlivened.

I’ve learned that courage is not about the celebrated triumphs of those we lionize. Courage is about love which begins with self-love. That’s a lifelong journey for many. I began to pay attention to the spirituality of love and compassion that knew no exclusions. It terrified me at first but I intuitively knew it was an invitation to love that embraces all – even me – including our sexual identity.

My own well-being was not visible on the GPS of my life back then. My young adult involvement in the anti-apartheid movement was rooted in justice and inclusion for all. Except for myself! To discover well-being is to seek happiness. Not the happiness presented by what we consume or own, but the happiness that is discovered in eternal truths about our own beauty and purpose in life.

Along the way I’ve discovered that the arc of my own story, like that of every other person, reveals spiritual wisdom and truth. It emerges when I stop compartmentalizing my life and see that all of the wonder, shame, regret and joy of life form a narrative that allows me to be compassionate about my story and life. Our story is not a series of unrelated experiences but a vessel of spiritual insight inviting us to live in all of our magnificence.

In naming my love and sexual orientation it points me to the invitation to live an intentional integrated life in which every facet of my being is cause for thankfulness. Spirituality is not disembodied – it is revealed with each embrace of our identity.

The courage of self-love, our own well-being, the spirituality revealed in our story and thankfulness about human sexuality is not a treasure for us alone. I need others to claim those same truths for themselves – then the celebration and journey of being at one with me as a gay man makes spacious room for others. It is a generous, joyful and enlivening choice about being who you are. How will you choose?

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God Pukes at Gays?

Robert V. Taylor

This blog appeared on Huffington Post January 27, 2012

Does God vomit at the thought of gay and lesbian people? That’s the graphic image that O’Neal Dozier, pastor of Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach Florida, uses. It’s radically different from the one that many of us know of as a God of inclusion and love. Not vomiting but smiling on us – all of us!

What makes Dozier’s view so prominent is that he is the Honorary Chair of Rick Santorum’s Florida campaign. Although Dozier believes that homosexuality is the “paramount of sins” he is an equal opportunity exclusionist. Mother Jones reveals that his Islamaphobia and local crusade against Muslims are fueled by his belief that Muslims have an agenda for taking over America. Dozier, who claims to know the mind of God on election results, has used his position on the Florida judicial nominating committee to seek “God-fearing” judges. The test for him is whether those nominees support anti-sodomy laws.

Dozier believes America should be taken over by those who share his exclusionist views and create a fundamentalist theocracy. The constitution in his view was created only for those who are a “moral and religious people.” God-fearing in his view translates into a projectile God who throws up on those who do not share his religious vision. Thankfully there are other more spacious religious and spiritual paths.

Like millions of other LGBT people I feared God as a young person because of the religious messages I received that God had disdainful disgust for us. Like millions of other young LGBT people I considered suicide. That is one of the reasons that Dozier’s imagery and words are destructive not life-giving.

If the arc of spirituality bends towards inclusion Dozier’s views are not part of that moral trajectory. Pew Research polls reveal approximately 65% of Catholics and Protestants have positive views of gays, while only 29% of Evangelicals do. Among Post-Moderns 91% have favorable views of LGBT people while 80% of them support same-sex marriage.

The moral arc towards inclusion has a foundation of spiritual wisdom from many traditions. Christian wisdom settles largely on a message of generous expansive love matched by acts of mercy, kindness and justice. The notion of repairing the world is a central underpinning in most branches of Judaism. While Buddhist philosophy is rooted in seeking the happiness or well-being of all Buddhist practice points to the inter-connectedness of all sentient beings.

Religious leaders can be found in most traditions that, like Dozier, use their position and authority to tear apart, diminish and demean others at any cost. The climate they create is quite different than that of those who beg to differ but who seek a world in which none are harmed or excluded. The bullies who cloak themselves with the mantle of the Divine are no different than schoolyard bullies who are stopped only when their behavior is challenged.  That choice is in our hands.

We participate in the movement of the moral arc of inclusion when we actively engage in creating a world which acknowledges the goodness and compassion inherent in every person. A world in which imagery of a puking God is replaced with a spiritual path of generous inclusion in which there are no outcasts. That is a life-giving journey acknowledging and celebrating difference.

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