Monday, November 24, 2014

Thank You, America!

America can be seen as idea
An idea such as a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.  An idea such as an image with an aim or purpose.  An idea such as a vision of an ideal country.

The Pilgrims coming to America certainly had ideas and hopes for a better life.  They parted Europe in order to find a land where they could freely worship God and pursue a life of freedom. 
Those were the principles America was founded on:

The Founding Fathers declared equal opportunities, not equal outcomes:
1)    The rule of law is a First Principle that mandates that the law governs everyone.
2)    The First Principle of unalienable rights recognizes that everyone is naturally endowed by their Creator with certain rights.
3)    Equality is a First Principle that recognizes that all persons are created equal.
4)    The First Principle of the Social Compact recognizes that governments are instituted by the people and derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
5)    The First Principle of limited government means that the protection of unalienable rights is the legitimate purpose and limit of government requires the government to be strong enough to fulfill its purpose yet limited to that purpose.
6)    A final First Principle is the right to declare revolution when the other First Principles are being infringed by the government.

“America is more than just a place. America is an idea. It’s the only country founded ON an idea. Our rights come from nature and God, not from government. … We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. And this idea was founded on the principles of freedom, free enterprise, self-determination and government by CONSENT of the governed.”
~ Paul Ryan, U.S. Congressman
When the Pilgrims arrived at the New World, they arrived in New England’s winter.  Even the following years 1621/1622 their harvest were scare, mainly because they didn’t apply themselves.  Some worked and others were lazy and stole food from others and suffered hunger. 

The Mayflower Compact which had been signed by all male passengers of the Mayflower which gave them permission to leave England and promised them land along the New World shore.  Due to storms they landed in what is today New England instead of their original destiny of today’s Virginia.  The compact was to give them some form of legal binding of self-governing.  Unfortunately, the compact got lost, and it was not until William Bradford declared the end of socialism in 1623 and help draft a legal code which distributed land to each family. 

Until then the Pilgrims had practiced some form of “common course,” which was a sort of primitive agrarian communism. Bradford decided to distribute land among all the settlers, not just members of the company and didn’t discriminate along religious line.  He encouraged free market trade; each family worked hard and worked the land with new pride and gratitude.  The following year they had a plentiful harvest and gathered for a feast of thanksgiving.  William Bradford was the governor of the Plymouth Plantation for over 30 years and wrote about their lifestyle in “The History of the Plymouth Plantation.”

God’s Hope for America
Coming from another country, I didn’t know much about American History. In the 1970’s Rev. Moon gave a series of public speeches entitled: God’s Hope for America, and I learned about the heart-warming stories of the American Pilgrims.

Rev. Moon spoke about the longing of the Pilgrims and their willingness to endure hardship and suffering to bring their dreams to a new reality.  They had a strong faith that God was on their side.  Here is an excerpt from the speech given in October 21, 1973 in Washington, DC:
A winter of heartbreak

During the first winter in America, the population of the hardy Mayflower survivors was cut in half. Each day that winter brought a heartbreaking separation from loved ones. One by one these courageous pioneers died. Yet their life from morning to night, from dusk to dawn, was centered upon the will of God. God was their only comfort, their only hope and their only security. God was the principal partner for them. Here was an example of such a rare and pure group of God's people. They demonstrated untiring faith, and God gave them power and courage. They never lost their trust in God and their vision of the future. Their purpose in coming to America was to build a nation where God could dwell, where they could really share fellowship with each other and rejoice in fellowship with God. This was all in God's providence, because He needed a nation to serve as His champion for the ultimate and permanent salvation of the world. 
So another miracle came to the Pilgrims. When they were just barely surviving and their population had been halved, the Indians could easily have wiped them out with one stroke. But again, God was a shield for them. The first group of Indians the Mayflower survivors encountered were not hostile. The Indians welcomed the settlers. If the Pilgrims had been destroyed at that time, there would probably have been no America for God. God intervened to save His people here in America. This is my belief. God wanted them to settle, and He gave the Pilgrims a chance. 
As the population of the settlement grew, they had to push the Indians away to enlarge their own colony. Of course, this land did not belong to the new American people originally. The Indians were the inhabitants of the land, and the Pilgrim settlers must have been invaders in the eyes of the Indians. Why then did God give these settlers their great chance? Here is my interpretation. God sided with the American settlers because it was in His plan. Furthermore, these American settlers met God's requirements and truly demonstrated an unwavering faith in God. God could not help but give them His promise and fulfill that promise. 
America's existence was according to God's providence. God needed to build one powerful Christian nation on earth for His future work. After all, America belonged to God first, and only after that to the Indians. This is the only interpretation that can justify the position of the Pilgrim settlers. 
This continent of America was hidden away for a special purpose and was not discovered until the appropriate hour. The people of God came at the appointed hour. They came to mold the new way of life. Their principal partner was God. At home, in caring for their children, in farming or cooking or building, they let God share their work. He was the only security they had. A farmer might talk to his son working out in the field with him. "Let's plow this field in the name of God." Their everyday life was lived in the name of God. 
After the first spring visited them, they cleared the fields, planted, cultivated, and harvested the crop. And they attributed all their precious harvest to the grace of God. The beautiful tradition of Thanksgiving thus originated. Following the next severe winter, the first thing they built was a church. At night, at dawn, in the morning and at noontime, they prayed to God. I am sure they prayed, "God, we want to build a place for You which must be better than the Old World. We want to build a place where You can dwell and be master." 
And they also had a vision of the future that this Christian nation would do more good for the rest of the world than any other country upon the face of the earth. I am sure that after their church they built a school. They wanted outstanding schools for their children, better than any schools existing in the Old World. And their homes came last. After they built these homes, they dedicated them to God. This is the history of your Pilgrim Fathers, I know. I can visualize early America as a beautiful America, because God was dwelling everywhere. In the school, in the church, in the kitchen, in the street — in any assembly or market place, God was dwelling.

The American Dream
The Pilgrims laid the foundation for the American Dream which is a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work.

“That sense of can do spirit, of American Exceptionalism has a long history going back to the pilgrims who carved out a place to call home and the rag tagged army that defeated the most powerful empire in the world.”
What is America – ReadState

I like to finish this tribute to the Thanksgiving Holiday with a short video by musician and singer/song writer Bono at Georgetown University who as an Irish born sees America as an Ideal truth which is self-evident in all of us: 

Next week I will write about the movie America: Imagine a World without Her

Monday, November 17, 2014

How to Communicate with God

Today, more than ever before, we observe that some people truly desire to communicate with God.  This trends exist disregarding of certain religious affiliations.  In fact, it is often those who don’t have a church preference, who are the true seekers.

Prayer is the ongoing dialogue with God.  It is a way to tell God everything and surrender our lives to Him.  The most effective way to talk to God is by imagining that He is our parent, our Dad and Mom who want to know about us.  When we report to God in this way, we can ask for help and guidance and then just listen.  Honoring God in this way, listening, and waiting for solutions to unfold.  Since God is mostly interested in our spiritual growth and personal development, answers may not always come or come in ways we don’t expect them. 

In the teachings of the Divine Principle this occurrence is explained in the chapter on Eschatology  or specifically the section on: THE PHENOMENON OF THE RESTORATION OF THE FIRST BLESSING

In the beginning, God gave man three blessings:

“Be fruitful, multiply and have dominion over the earth.”

Since man was created as a spiritual being with both physical and spiritual senses we were also giving the potential to communicate with God freely.  Being fruitful means to be mature in both mind and body.  Through the unity of mind/body we would be aligned with our creator and could freely communicate with Him as we are talking to our spouses or friends. 

Throughout the ages, God has spoken to central figures, prophets, and saints.  None-the-less, it was the creators desire to talk to each one of us directly.  It is therefore a natural occurrence for more and more people to seek direct contact with the Divine.

The Oriental philosophies and religions have attracted a lot of attention from the Western world.  With breath work, chanting, martial arts, meditation, yoga, and other disciplines spiritual practices are endless.

Let’s look at some of the ways to communicate with the Heavenly Parent through our five spiritual senses:

* Breathing -- The first thing we do after being born into this physical world is to breathe.  At that very moment the spirit of God enters the little human and from then has an eternal spirit.  Children’s breathing is effortless and takes the breath deep into the diaphragm.

“God took the dust of the earth and formed the body or man, and breathed into the nostrils of man the Breath of Life, and man became a living soul.”
~ Genesis 2:7 

Almost all the ancient languages use the same word for air, wind or breath as they do for life, vital energy, or spirit; or the animating principle of life. This principle, this spirit of life, is called chi, ki, prana, or energy.

”If you can do something with breath, you will attain the source of life. If you can do something with breath, you can transcend time and space. If you can do something with breath, you will be in the world and also beyond it.”
~ Rajneesh/Osho, Book of Secrets

When we grow older breathing often gets hindered by negative emotions and experiences.  We hold our breath in excitement, fear or fight and flight causing stress; we starve our cells of oxygen.  Practicing certain breathing techniques can be very beneficial to our health.  Additionally, centered breathing can create an internal awareness and peace.  It can help us to enter into the realm of heart which is our true essence and can lead to a rebirth experience.

* Hearing – Listening is a skill which we all have to practice.  With so much information and stimulation we often filter out stuff we don’t want to hear.  One of the best ways to keep healthy relationships is to learn to listen.

In meditation and prayer we want to be silent at times in order “to hear the small voice of God.”  Our world is very noisy, and even the talk in our head is constantly telling us what we can’t, didn’t, and shouldn’t do.  It seems that the biggest bullies are not external but are the incessant shatter in our own mind. 

Listening to our inner silence takes practice.  Eckhart Tolle, in his book “A New Earth” speaks about “Listening for Silence.”  It will stop our thinking and help us to connect with our true essence.

We also want to hear beautiful sounds in creation as well as delightful and uplifting music.  Our ears are meant to explore the whole spectrum of sounds and vibrate with the frequencies of nature.

* Seeing – In visualizing our spiritual self we become empowered by faith and the invisible will become substantial.  In this way we co-create our own existence.  When we “gaze upon God” and take it upon ourselves to incorporate the spiritual virtues (fruits of the spirit), our everyday life can become an extra-ordinary life.  Faith is believing in that core essence which God has manifested in us as our original potential and can become manifested in everyday events.

“The power to see in Spirit is peculiar to faith. In its outer expression, this power is sight; interiorly it is that which perceives the reality of the substance of Spirit. Mental seeing is knowing; we mentally discern. Have faith in what you do.”
~ Charles Fillmore

* Smelling -- By becoming aware of our sense of smell we can remember certain experiences.  I can still smell the ocean air from the day we spent at the beach in Florida or the scent of honey suckle from the bushes in our backyard when they bloom in the spring.  The key is to connect those kind of experiences with God.  God wants to smell the flowers through us; or the aroma of fresh brewed coffee to awaken all of our senses in the morning.  With the greater awareness of consciousness every small action can be a beautiful experience.

* Tasting – Some people say a prayer before eating.  That is a great practice to invite God to enjoy the food and drink with us.  Since God doesn’t have a physical body, he wants to experience tasting bread through us.  I can imagine the taste of lemon in my mouth feeling the bitter, tangy and sour flavor on my tongue. Biting in the delicious strawberry, one can chew it slowly and savor every bite. It creates a consciousness within us to make God part of all of our experiences.  Then drinking a glass of water can be a holy experience, especially if we are grateful for it.  Once we take all of our actions out of the habitual trance every tasks becomes purposeful and can create joy and excitement.  All of the flavors have been created by God for our enjoyment. 

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
~ Jesus Christ

* Touching – This sense is probably the most intimate to come in contact with God.  At times we feel His embrace, His touch through another human being and most often when we are struggling or suffering. Being open to God’s touch in those moments is the most rewarding.  In times of sorrow we need to feel close to God.  It is unfortunate that most of us don’t call on God except for those moments.  And then we are disappointed because we cannot feel God.  Because our Heavenly Parent wants to be close to us at all times, take our hand in good times and in bad times.  It means to make ourselves vulnerable and surrender our ego at times when things go well or when we feel self-assured. 

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
~ Mother Teresa

By practicing to stay in the present moment, we have access to the power of life itself and can get in touch with God.  When we step out of the present moment, thinking of yesterday’s experiences or projecting our mind into the future, we turn away from God.  Then God is not a reality anymore but becomes a concept of the mind.  In that state of mind it is hard to believe in God. 

We all know we have greater potential than we have realized so far.  Using our spiritual senses as well as our physical senses will open up a whole new world for us.  Some people have an encounter of a near-death-experience or some other drastic spiritual awakening.  Others just have a 6th sense happening, synchronistic event or use their intuition.  Beyond those kinds of incidents we all have the capacity to access our spiritual senses.  All we need to do is become aware and practice to be in the NOW at all times.  Paying attention to the small things, and discovering that we are not separate from God but He is within us.

What about those people who say that God does not exist?  Let them watch the recent movie “The Principle”  in which science now is telling us they can prove God’s existence.

Gratitude is best practice to feel God and having a forgiving heart is an open door.  Based on humility God will be with us even if we don’t pray.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I Voted!

I didn’t know that my voting would be such an adventure this time.  On the way to the voting place, my son called us: Mom, did you know that they changed the location of the polling station? 
I hadn’t heard or read about (even though a few days before I looked up the candidates at the official website.) 

I was grateful that we didn’t have go to the wrong place.  When I presented my ID, the man looked at me and said: You cannot vote here.  I told him, that I was a citizen, and I wanted to vote (I even showed him my name on the list).  He sent me to another group of volunteers who gladly explained to me that the reason I couldn’t vote on the electronic ballot machines was that my driver’s license had expired.  
So, what was I to do? 

They gave me an application for manual voting and send me with an envelope and the paper ballot to another table behind a screen. 
Then, I was to stick the envelope in the temporary ballot box which was actually a yellow sack which was locked.

In the meantime, I was embarrassed that my driver’s license had expired two weeks before on my birthday.  When I went straight from voting to the DMV I found a roomful of people all standing in line.  I didn’t want to wait for hours to get my license renewed which I did the next morning within 15 minutes, including taking the vision test as well as a picture.  This time around my license is only good for another four years.

What is the lesson of the day?  Before you vote: check your ID for validity.