Monday, December 30, 2013

Blessing or Toasting the New Year

When you are ringing in the New Year 2014 this Tuesday night and make a toast for good health and happiness, you may not need to know what I am sharing here.  As a member of Toastmasters International, I have been wondering where the ideas of toasting came from.  Then, we had an article in the December 2013 Magazine  on toasting and I felt inspired to read more about it.
“Here's to the bright New Year
 And a fond farewell to the old;
 Here's to the things that are yet to come
 And to the memories that we hold.”

What is a Toast?
A toast is a ritual in which a drink is taken as an expression of honor or goodwill. The term may be applied to the person or thing so honored, the drink taken, or the verbal expression accompanying the drink. Thus, a person could be "the toast of the evening," for whom someone "proposes a toast" to congratulate and for whom a third person "toasts" in agreement.

There are many occasions in life to share a toast: the birth of a newborn, weddings, good byes, birthdays, or any party.  The custom of drinking to the health, prosperity, happiness, or good luck of another is not new; it rather has a long history.  The curious practice of raising our drink containers is one of the most ancient of these.

“A Toast or Sentiment very frequently excites good humor and revives languid conversation; often does it, when properly applied, cool the heat of resentment, and blunt the edge of animosity.   A well applied Toast is acknowledged, universally, the flame of acrimony, when season and reason oft used their efforts to no purpose.”
~ Craig Harrison, DTM

Why Toasting?
But it wasn't always called a toast. The term didn't come about until the late 17th century. In the same way you throw a lime in tequila, it was customary to plop a piece of toast or crouton in a drink, Dickson says. Think of it as an early form of a cocktail snack.

And just in case you are wondering where the English phrase "toast" comes from, it comes from the practice of floating a piece of burnt toast on top of the wine of the loving cup. The reason for this was that the toast took away some of the acidity of the wine.

History of Toasting
Ironically, the cheerful clinking of a friend's glass before drinking evolved from one of the darker practices of the distant past. The custom dates back to the Middle Ages, when people were so distrustful of one another that they weren't above poisoning anyone they perceived as an enemy.  As a safeguard, drinkers first poured a bit of wine into each other's glass, acting as mutual "tasters." Trustworthy friends, however, soon dispensed with the tastings and merely clinked their glasses instead. This custom is said by some to explain why "to your health" is the most common toast worldwide.  Some other historians hold that clinking glasses provided the noise that would keep evil spirits at bay.

Cheers - Why do we click the glasses?
There can be various answers to this question but the common notion that this was done so as to spill a little wine into each other's glasses thereby ensuring that the drinks are not poisoned is not true. This custom is relatively new. Touching your glasses gently is done to incorporate the sense of hearing in the processes of making a toast. Earlier only four out of our 5 senses were gratified.
What to say in a toast?
Here is a link for some sample toasts, blessings and graces: Chosen words for Toasts

For those who are looking for formal toasts for a special occasion, here is a whole book by the master Paul Dickson: Toasts

For the rest of us, let just enjoy this New Year’s Eve with a cheer of goodwill and blessing for the New Year 2014.  I hope and pray that the New Year will take us into better circumstances, and we can create health and prosperity for our families and country.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Silent Night, Holy Night

Plaque from the authentic replicated chapel St. Nicholas in Frankenmuth, Michigan
I just recently learned about the background history of the popular Christmas song: Silent Night, Holy Night. It was written by a young Priest Joseph Mohr in 1816 when he was traveling to some parishioners in the country side of Austria.  He later became the shepherd of the St. Nicholas church in Oberndorf nearby Salzburg.  When the organ broke down at the church and Christmas approached, he was concerned that he couldn’t create enough spiritual power to pull the parishioners to church on Christmas Eve.  He remembered his poem from the years before and went to visit his good friend Franz Xaver Gruber who was the schoolmaster in Oberndorf.  He asked Franz to compose music to the words and the original version of Silent Night was born.  They performed the song that Christmas Eve at the midnight mass with Franz playing the guitar and the choir singing the words.  Everybody loved the song because it was written in their native language, German, while they often sang Latin songs.

When in the following spring the organ master repaired the organ of St. Nicholas, some children performed the song along with the refreshed organ.  The organ master took the song to other parts of Austria, where the song took a life of its own.  Eventually, it traveled to Berlin, and even London.  They even changed some notes and translated the words into English and many other languages.  It became one of the most popular Christmas songs.

Just recently, some German/American film makers refreshed the whole history of the song and made a movie "Stille,Nacht, Heilige Nacht,” about Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,                        Silent night, holy night

Alles schläft; einsam wacht                       All is calm, all is bright
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.              'Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,               Holy infant so tender and mild
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!                       Sleep in heavenly peace!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!                       Sleep in heavenly peace!

music in German

What I am most amazed about is that this song as well as stories and even persons: how often the origin or the surrounding facts are forgotten and/or changed.  Brother Mohr had the best intentions to bring joy and revival to his congregation at a time when people had little, and especially folks that lived in remote mountain villages lived in poor circumstances.  Until this day, the music just warms one’s heart, being soothing and uplifting at the same time, appropriately for a sleeping baby.


My inquiring mind has to wonder though, why was Jesus the King of Kings born in a manger in the first place?  And how could a virgin have a baby?  Who was the physical father of Jesus?  What has commercialism to do with the true meaning of Christmas?

I had similar questions when I first joined the Unification Church in 1973.  My leader, Paul Werner, told me to read the bible and referred me to:

Matthew 1  Genealogy of Jesus, Birth of Jesus, Joseph protecting Mary’s pregnancy by taking her as his wife.

Luke 1:5-56  Zecharias and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist; Mary stays with Elizabeth and Zecharias; Mary accepts her role as Jesus’ mother.

NOTE: Matthew 1:16: Two genealogies of Jesus in the Gospel, one in Matthew and one in Luke.  The differences can be explained by the fact that Matthew records the genealogy of Joseph as the legal (adopted), not the natural, father of Jesus.  Luke (Luke 3:23-38) traces the genealogy of Jesus through Mary, his mother, which accounts for an almost completely different set of ancestors.  In those days, women’s genealogies were not traced through females.

If you read these bible passages from the traditional Christian view, you will not find any new truth in these words.  I read the verses and realized right away that Jesus had a physical father as well a spiritual father.  It does not take anything away from Mary’s faithfulness and even Joseph’s obedience to the direction (Matthew 18-25) he got from the archangel Gabriel to make Mary his wife disregarding the fact that she became pregnant by another man while they were engaged.

When Father Moon started to preach about Jesus he gave many deep insights from his personal encounters with Jesus.  Therefore, in the Divine Principle, he goes into hidden secrets of the Bible which he received through revelation and personal guidance from Jesus himself.  Based on the Old Testament, he draws on certain parallels in order to bring about restoration of the lineage of God.
What has all of this to do with the song “Silent Night, Holy Night?”  We are living now at a time where many people have lost their faith in God because they cannot accept certain things with their logical mind.  God, the author of our mind and our heart, has given us all three faculties: Intellect (reasoning), Emotion (heart), and Will (choices to act upon).  It is our responsibility to bring all three into harmony which will take us to fulfill our God-given purpose, our heart’s desire.


Monday, December 16, 2013

What Exists first Force or Energy?

Scientists maintain that the universe is made up of energy. Energy exists everywhere, as well as force or power. Is force or energy first? Does the Divine Principle teach that force comes into being by give and take action, or does give and take exist after the force exists? We should examine our thought carefully to see if we are not taking the answer for granted. Seen from different angles, both viewpoints seem entirely correct, so it is important to know which is the correct answer.  What is your opinion?

 Action certainly must come from a definite source. The subject and object precede action. If we pursue this a little further, we can say that if God is omnipresent then He must have both subject and object qualities. God's dual characteristics are not just conceptual or abstract; they are very real and important to our lives. Ever since the universe and individual entities came into being, subject and object were the beginning of the existence of self. All things in the universe are made up of these two different qualities or parts, and each is involved in give and take action.

The force, or the result, is the consequence of the subject and object having give and take action. Let us take the simple example of parents having give and take of love; their child will be the result. The child is like the force which results from give and take action. What causes that? God is the cause, and that process follows the pattern of God's creative process. The force has within itself the possibility of give and take action because it is the result of give and take. When we think of force we immediately comprehend two qualities of subject and object, cause and result.

When you think of your existence you think of the power within yourself, but prior to that you realize the give and take action within yourself. Therefore, you are the subject body of force. You are very powerful. In you are a mind and body which form a subject-object relationship, and when they have give and take you can't help but feel the resulting power within yourself. When you draw a line down your front, dividing you in half, the two parts look alike externally. Why is that? Because the cause has that quality, the result has to be that way. That's a very logical reason.

When scientists examine the development of life forms, they conclude that energy randomly evolved into higher and more complex beings, and this is how man came to exist. This theory is not logical when we really examine it. It is more reasonable that subject and object together would form a self, which in turn would become a subject, and take an object. Together they would form some higher life form or bigger self as subject and take an object, and so on, forming greater and greater entities.

In our social life we want to broaden our sphere of influence, increasing our areas of activity. When you become a subject on one level you want to find an object on that level, and then when you are united you find that together you become a subject on another level. Scientists explain the formation of new species through random mutation, saying it happens by chance. We can immediately see that is false logic, but they have not come up with some better theory so they stick with this one. It does not stand to reason to say that a small thing could just suddenly become big. Even a non-scholar would find the subject-object explanation more reasonable.

From a sermon by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon --  Myself – January 13, 1980, Tarrytown, New York


Monday, December 9, 2013

Do Woolly Bear Caterpillars Predict Winter Weather?

Last Saturday, I was sitting around a lunch table, and suddenly the topic of winter came up.  One lady shared the story about the woolly bear caterpillar predicting the severity of winter.  Since we just had survived the first major snowstorm here in South-Western Ohio, I listened up.  I was already tired of the cold weather and being cooped up in the house.  What is this tale about the Woolly Bear caterpillar?  Can it be a clear prediction for a harsh or a mild winter?  It’s kind of like the ground hog predicting the end of winter. That gave me the idea to look up the folklore behind the woolly bear worm.
Scientific Facts about The Pyrrharctia Isabella Moth
The caterpillar is the familiar Banded Woolly Bear, and even today it seems necessary to point out that the width of the brown band has nothing to do with the severity of the forthcoming winter. The caterpillar can be seen running across roads in October. It is seen again in February and March, after having spent the winter as a full-grown caterpillar. Before winter the caterpillar feeds on various low-growing plants such as Plantago and Taraxacum, but does not feed again until spring before it pupates in a silken cocoon in which larval hairs are incorporated. The adult moth, which has distinctly reddish forelegs, has a rather unpleasant smell!

In some parts of the world, it is believed that the severity of the winter can be predicted by the intensity of the black on the Isabella tiger moth’s larvae (caterpillar). In the American Northeast, it is believed that if the woolly worm has more brown on its body than black, it will be a fair winter. If the woolly worm has more black than brown, the winter will be harsh.

In 1608 Edward Topsell, a naturalist, called them "Palmer" worms - so named after the "palmer", or wandering monk - because of their roving habits and ruggedness (they are seen so late in fall). He also mentioned they were known as "beare worms." They have further been compared to bears in that they hibernate and have a similar walking gate. They have a dark hairy appearance, and curl up into a ball when touched. Today they are commonly referred to as "woolly bears". "Woolly bears" are caterpillars of moths and there are over 2,000 species of them.

As cold weather approaches, the "woolly bears" are one of the few species of caterpillars known to hibernate. In spring they emerge very hungry! They feed for a short time and then build a cocoon made from hairs of their shed larval skins mixed with silk which they make from glands in their own bodies. After pupating they emerge from their cocoons as adult moths.

I think for the most part, people find these caterpillars cute, fuzzy and downright fun to watch as they inch their way across a sidewalk.  These harmless caterpillars have enjoyed being the center of weather folklore for a very long time!  Like the groundhog’s shadow, the woolly worm’s thirteen distinctive black and reddish-brown bands have become a rule of thumb in forecasting winter.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the longer the middle brown band, the milder and shorter the coming winter; the shorter the brown band, the longer and more severe winter will be.

The woolly worm tale was popularized in the 1950s by Dr. C. H. Curran, the curator of insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Over an eight year period, he collected woolly worms and measured the width of their colored bands, generally finding wider brown segments, which he linked with milder winters in New York during the same time period.

Festivals celebrate the Woolly Worm Caterillar

Three festivals are planned each year in honor of the clever creatures: the Woolly Bear Festival in Vermillion, Ohio; the Woolly Worm Festivals in Banner Elk, North Carolina and in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. And the myth continues on, all over the United States.

What’s the Forecast for the Winter of 2013/14?

·       Overall mild

·       Start of winter will be more harsh than the end of winter.

·       Early spring

Other Nature’s signs

Here are some other ways of looking at nature and predicting weather: Winter Outlook 2013-2014 Animal Style! You'll love the spin plants & animals can tell us all

I copied some of the information in this blog from the respective websites.  I enjoyed he legacy and the tales connected to the Farmer’s Almanacs which I hope will never be taking away completely because they make good conversation topics.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Woman Named Miriam

During this week, where many Jews celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah I like to review a book a recently read: Miriam by LoisT. Henderson.

Even though the book is a novel, Ms. Henderson follows the story according to the biblical records.

Miriam is the older sister of Moses, who rescues the baby Moses after he was placed by his mother in a basket and floates down the Nile river in order to avoid being killed as the first-born son of the Hebrews. (Exodus 2)
The parents of Moses, Aaron and Miriam are Amram a Levite and Jochebed.

The novel tells the story of Miriam’s role preparing for the Exodus and staying with Moses and their brother Aaron, the priest, all through the wandering in the wilderness. 

Before that Miriam served the princess Hapithet who was the woman who became Moses’ mother, and raised him as a prince of Egypt until he leaves for Midian.  After Moses’ return, the two brothers and sister collaborate with other Hebrews to prepare for the Exodus. 

As a woman she is very assertive, but is also aware of her role to be obedient and submissive.  Her relationship with the princess gives her access to many privileges including comfortable living in the palace.  She is also the one who arranges an audience with the Pharaoh for Moses. 

Throughout the book, Ms. Henderson describes Miriam’s struggle for leadership.  As a widow she has no hope for children.  Her faith is constantly challenged, as she tries to interfere in the life of her nice, daughter of Aaron.  After Moses’ wife Zipporah dies, he marries again a Cushite (the land south of Egypt - Ethiopia) woman, in order to have more children.

That’s how Miriam’s biggest struggle came about.  After Zipporah’s death, she was caring for Moses’ two sons Gershom and Eliezer.  She loves them as her own sons but when Moses gets married again, she feels as if she lost her purpose.

Not only does she miss the children, but she is also jealous of the new wife of Moses and along with Aaron opposes Moses for his decision.  She is always wondering why God cannot work through her, too, since she has prophesied before.  As she is in her pouting stage, she suddenly becomes covered with leprosy. (Numbers 12:10-14) After a few days of internal struggles she finally surrenders herself renewed to God, and finds that she is healed. She hears an internal voice and learns to trust God.  She has to accept that God works through Moses who has greater authority with the Israelites.  She starts to talk to Him in a loud voice, sharing her heart, and God hears her because she had a change of heart.

I could feel with Miriam (the novel may just be a partial true account of what happened to Miriam) because she goes through the similar struggles we all go through.  With the help of her family she is able to overcome and is victorious.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thank You!

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough."
~ Meister Eckhart (1260-1328), German spiritualist, philosopher, mystic, and theologian

During this week of the Thanksgiving Holiday I have been thinking a lot about the Ho’oponopono healing ritual. The four phrases of:

I am sorry, please forgive me, thank you, and I love you, along with a prayerful heart can correct, restore, and maintain good relationships among family members and with their God by releasing unwanted emotions and negative experiences.
I want to dedicate this blog to all the families of the United States and around the world who are celebrating the Thanksgiving Day, either in harmonious company, taking the round and giving thanks, or to those who quarrel and don’t want to sit at the same table with their brothers, sisters or loved ones.  We are all in need of ho’oponopono prayers.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Forgive, Love and Unite

In 1973, at the height of the Watergate crisis, Rev. SunMyung Moon called a special prayer and fasting condition for 40 days under the motto: Forgive, Love and Unite.

Since Rev. Moon is a religious leader, his message was based on deep prayer and spiritual concerns for America.  Unfortunately, he has passed on last year, but I feel he would once again encourage us to start a campaign with the motto of: Forgive, Love and Unite in the face of the political and economic turmoil this country is facing.

I personally don’t agree with the policies and the tactics the leadership of this country is pursuing.  I believe that the solution for the problems America is facing today is that she has turned her back on God.  When we asked for change, we didn’t consider that the change has to come from each individual; in the spirit of John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”   

 “Your willingness to forgive others is in direct proportion to forgiving yourself.”


I believe most people have the wrong idea about forgiveness.  Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, rather cutting the emotional attachment to the act of wrong doing.  The spiritual laws of the universe will take care of the ‘judgement’ in form of indemnity. 
It is also called the Law of Karma.  When we violate the laws, the wrongdoing has to be corrected, we can either choose to do it willingly or we have ‘pay the price.’

 The Lord’s Prayer:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
~ Matthew 6:9-13

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you."
- Lewis B. Smedes


Love is not only a virtue  but it is also the life-sustaining energy with which we cannot live without.  Believers say that God is Love.  When God is at the center of our relationships, love can flow easily and freely.  Without that center our relationships become master/servant-realtionships and one wants control over the other. When forgiveness is implemented, love can flow freely again and nourish us in the vertical way.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
~ Corinthians 13:13

"United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative adventures. Divided there is little we can do."
~ John F. Kennedy, (1917-1963) 35th President of the United States.


There is an Aesop Fable called the Bundle of Sticks.  The story is about a father who had several sons who were always quarreling. He made them hold together a single stick into a bundle of sticks to prove that they can be very strong and unbreakable when they hold together like the bundle of sticks.  He proved to them that if they unite together they can solve any problem and protect each other against the enemy.
On this day some people gathering in Washington outside the White House to declare a 'SecondRevolution.'  We need a revolution of the heart recognizing that we are not each other’s enemy, that hate and blame does not bring any solutions, rather that the ego and self-centeredness of each individual clashes with the other.  That ego is a spiritual force (some people called it Satan) which can only be subjugated through forgiveness, love and service.
Dr. (Ihaleakalá) Hew Len has a very similar idea when he encourages us to practice Ho’oponopono which is an ancient Hawaiian technique for solving problems. He says that this routine goes beyond the “The Secret” and can solve spiritual, emotional, material, any kind of problems. When we let go and take 100 % responsibility, our life changes.

I know that this method is completely contrary to the way our society operates; it is also the very reason we cannot really bring any solutions but rather go from one problem to the other, accusing, blaming, criticizing and judging each other.

With the Holiday season approaching it is a good opportunity to reflect and prepare for the New Year with better intentions.


Monday, November 11, 2013

I pledge Allegiance

I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

Every time I say this pledge, which is twice a month at our Toastmasters’ meeting, I get emotional.  There is something in this short sentence which moves me deeply.  I have been thinking of the word INDIVISIBLE which means inseparable, undividable or united. 

On this Veterans Day 2013, I want to call out to all patriots who love this country, let’s unite together to save this nation.  Let us forget our differences and come together to not just pledge allegiance to the flag but to the God who has blessed this nation and bestowed upon her a great responsibility. 

I like to share with you an excerpt from a talk I listened to, 40 year ago -- God’s Hope For America:
“America has been known as the "melting pot" where people of all colors, creeds, and nationalities are melted into one new breed. In order to melt anything, heat is required. Do you know who provided the heat for America? God was that heat. Without God, you could never have melted your people together.
America could only achieve true brotherhood through the Christian spirit, but when you begin to lose this foundation, America's moral fiber will deteriorate. Today there are many signs of the decline of America. What about the American young people? What about your drug problems and your juvenile crime problems? What about the breakdown of your families? I hear that three out of every four marriages in America end in divorce. The California state government is issuing more divorce certificates than marriages licenses. What about racial problems and the threat of communism? -- And what about the economic crises? Why are all these problems occurring? These are signs that God is leaving America. I can read the sign which says, "God is leaving America now!" If this trend continues, in a very short time God will be with you no longer. God is leaving America's homes. God is leaving your society. God is leaving your schools. God is leaving your churches. God is leaving America. There are many signs of atheism in this once God-centered nation. There have been many laws enacted that only a godless society could accept. There was a time when prayer was America's daily diet. Today you hear prayers in American schools no longer.”
~ Sun Myung Moon, Lisner Auditorium, Washington, DC, October 21, 1973

I am grateful to President Dwight Eisenhower who in 1954, followed the suggestion of his pastor George MacPherson Docherty, to add the words UNDER GOD to the pledge and got the full support of Congress.

"From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.... In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource, in peace or in war."
~ President Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President, 1890-1969, a veteran who served his country proudly.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Discovering the Gap

In our society we talk of all kinds of gaps:  generation gap, education gap, market gap, etc. with the focus on the differences of opposites or the separation thereof.  In this article I want to focus on the meaning of gap in the sense of space or pause.

I was reading a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer “Getting in the Gap,” and how focusing on the interlude between words can bring us into contact with the Divine.  Dr. Dyer explains that the real meaning of our existence lies in the space between our thoughts.  In that ‘no-thingness’ or ‘no-thought’ we discover our inner creative energy.  Through meditation on that ‘void’ we come in contact with the Divine energy which will give a greater health, happiness, relaxation and creativity.

Athletes and artists experience that creative force where thinking stops by focusing on the task at hand.  We may have glimpse of this silence when we are in some activity like gardening, or being in nature.  Meditation can help to stop all thoughts and to pay attention to that gap.  In the book Dr. Dyer introduces the japa meditation which includes the sound of ‘Ahh’ when we are pondering the gap.  Describing the gap takes us away from it (thought form); we need to experience it and will feel the presence of God.

Here is a video, depicting the gap: 


I am happy that I discovered the gap because it gives me another approach to experience my relationship with God.  This is just another way to be intimate with my God.





Monday, October 28, 2013

Jack-O’-Lanterns – a Halloween Tradition

I am not a great supporter of the Halloween traditions, especially regarding all the candy the kid get and eat, and sometimes even get sick from (not because they were tricked but rather because too much is not good for the young bodies).

I found one tradition of Halloween which I like: carving pumpkins.  It invites the creative side of the carver, and we can even use the seeds to eat after roasting them.

I didn’t realize how much folklore there is around carving this simple gourd, but apparently, it is popular in many Western countries.

I found this origin of pumpkin carving from Ireland most intriguing:

The Legend of "Stingy Jack"

People have been making jack-o'-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "JackO'Lantern."

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the “jack o'lantern” tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o'-lanterns.

This Halloween, when you carve your pumpkin into a jack-o’-lantern, you may want to say a prayer for Stingy Jack that he may finally rest in peace.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Proof of Heaven

The book is the personal encounter and testimony of Dr. Eben Alexander, a neuro-surgeon who had a near-death experience (NDE) while in a coma for 7 days due to a severe bacterial infection caused by meningitis. 

He describes his personal history before and after the coma and explains in length his experiences in the other spiritual world.  This vast happening took him into realms which humans can only experience after they pass from this world, but he was told by his celestial guide that he would learn a lot but that he would return to his life on earth.  The condensed message is:

 ·       You are loved and cherished more than you will ever know

·       You have nothing to fear

·       You can’t do anything wrong

One insight which Dr. Alexander perceived was that the purpose of evil exists for man to exercise his free will.  Even though, it seems a common Christian idea taken from the Bible, I don’t agree with it.

“The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.”
~ Proverbs 16:4

Some people do believe that God created evil, and it is part of the dualities like up and down, left and right, and positive and negative.  Since God is only good, He could not create evil.  God can only create what is in HIM.  God cannot relate or change evil.  That is one reason why He cannot change the evil ways of man.  People often asked, “why isn’t God doing anything about wars, or why did this disaster happened, or why is the weather so strange?” God created laws and principles which rule the universe and He gave man free will to become the Lord over creation.  He also gave us an additional commandment which we were to obey until we became mature enough to rule the universe. 

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
~ Genesis 2:15-17

Is says that in the Garden of Eden, there were two trees, one was the Tree of Life representing Adam, and then there was another tree, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, representing Eve.  Unfortunately, Eve made a bad choice by disobeying the commandment: do not eat of this tree unless you shall die.  For whatever reason, a similar story has appeared in many religions and cultures around the world. Through the revelation given to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, we learn that Lucifer, the angel of light and truth who was to help and serve Adam and Eve while they were immature, misguided Eve and lied to her. 
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

“The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”
~ Genesis 3:1-7

Because of this disobedience and betrayal the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil represented by Eve brought evil into the world and murder was committed within the first human family.

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
~ Gen 4:8
One repeating thought I got from Dr. Alexander’s book: NOW is the time that people have to hear this message that God, the Um, or the Divine Creator is reaching out to us humans.  Like never before in all of human history He wants us to know the meaning of love and how this lesson can bring unity among all people, all religions, and even between the scientific and the religious world.  God in all of his infinite attributes is more human and understands human nature better than any of us (He is the creator of us after all).  Man needs to know the nature of the unseen, spiritual world and the principles which govern this other realm while we are still in this physical body with a brain and the potential of reasoning.  Although many other people have had NDEs before and spoken and written about it, his experience as a scientist is specifically important.

In that way Dr. Eben Alexander became a modern day prophet, revealing many deep secrets of the unseen universe.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Choice – the Gift from God

I believe that God, in His/Her infinite love, gave man the freedom of choice.  He created us in His/Her own image, with the potential to grow in love and understanding, that we could be true children, who can respond to their parent by their own choice.

Unfortunately, our first human ancestors decided to go their own way, and ended up creating a world of selfishness and destruction.

“I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.”
~ Deuteronomy 30:19

In the beginning, God set before us a commandment, not to eat of the tree of good and evil (Genesis 2:16–17).  There was only one choice to make it right. 
After men fell, during the Old Testament Age, Moses brought the 10 Commandments to give people limits.  When Jesus arrived, he opened up the New Testament Age, and he told his disciples to love God, and to love their fellow men.  Now, in the Completed Testament Age, True Parents have given us only one direction and that is “to discover God’s Heart.”  It looks like mankind came around full circle to finally start this relationship right: as spiritual beings we can be one with the all-mighty, all-knowing, omnipotent, omnipresent, and awesome God.  That means we can be like him, becoming true sons and daughters, just like Jesus, the first-born son and savior.

"For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
~ Galatians 5:13

Paradox of Choice
I was reading a book by the same name and learned from Barry Schwartz, the author, that the more choices we have, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

He talks about the overload of choices, and how it can make some people sick and overwhelmed.  Mr. Schwartz proves that we can only experience true freedom when we can accept limits, either self-imposed through discipline or through laws or given traditions.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
~ Ephesians 5:15-17

The Power of Choice
Man was given free will:

Choices give us motivation:

Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent.

"Since man fell according to his own will, God lets man make his own choice about whether to go to Satan or himself.  If the man chooses to go to God at this time then Satan must give in.  If in making the offering this person becomes completely one with the person in the Abel position and then wishes to stay on God's side, Satan has nothing to say."
~Rev. Sun Myung Moon, "Day of All Things," 6.6.1978

Even the law of the land gives us certain freedoms:

The First Amendment

The First Amendment is perhaps the most important part of the Bill of Rights. It protects five of the most basic liberties. They are freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition the government to right wrongs. These were the guarantees that the Antifederalists missed most in the new Constitution.

Freedom of Religion
Freedom of religion means that the government may not force you to accept one set of religious beliefs, nor may it interfere with the way you worship.

Freedom of Speech
This freedom entitles American citizens to say what they think, provided they do not intentionally hurt someone else's reputation by making false accusations. Neither may they make irresponsible statements deliberately harmful to others, such as yelling, "Fire!" in a crowded theater when there is no fire. There are many issues about which Americans disagree, from child-rearing practices to baseball teams to Presidential candidates. Freedom of speech enables people to state their opinions openly to try to convince others to change their minds.

Freedom of the Press
This freedom makes it possible for Americans to keep informed about what is going on in government. It helps them to be responsible citizens. Reporters and editors can criticize the government without the risk of punishment, provided they do not deliberately tell lies. Newspapers, magazines, and books, as well as television and movie scripts, do not have to be submitted for government inspection before they are published. This censorship would violate the First Amendment.

Freedom of Assembly
This freedom makes it possible for Americans to join clubs or political parties, even if those groups represent unpopular views. Because of the First Amendment, people can join groups to promote animal rights, the nuclear freeze, or conservation. They can join groups to protest government intervention in Haiti, imported clothes and shoes, toxic wastes, or aid to Serbia or Bosnia. By sharing common interests, Americans can learn to work together. There are groups devoted to the interests of young people. Scout troops and 4-H clubs are but two examples.

Freedom to Petition
This important freedom allows people to tell the government what they think is needed. They can try to prevent the government from acting in a certain way. They can complain to the government without fear of penalty when things aren't going the way they should.
"Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong,
which course is patriotic and which isn't.
You cannot shirk this and be a man.
To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor,
both to yourself and to your country."
~ Mark Twain

For myself I have reserved a simple way of making decisions. I ask myself: does my choice bring me closer to God or take me further away?  For most of the important decisions that works well for me.  It gets harder when I have to decide what to eat from a menu or what to wear for the day.  But then again, those are not life-changing choices.