Sunday, 30 December 2007

Don't Think of an Elephant

Hasn't this year gone quickly? Is it my imagination or is time really speeding up? Whichever it is, 2008 is upon us already, and millions of us will reflect and steadfastly make high-flying new year resolutions which will mostly be shot down by the artillery of procrastination.

Never do today...

I know all about procrastination. I have turned it into an art form. I'm not sure but it could be the philosophy of someone who believes he is going to live well into three figures and has all the time in the world - my excuse and I'm sticking to it. However, statistics don't support this belief. They would proudly cling to the well-worn theory that in terms of longevity, children generally follow their parents. My father died at 70, which statistically gives me 7 years of life. But thanks to visionaries like Louise Hay, it is possible for me to buck the system, and it's all down to positive thinking, positive vocabulary, and how I react to situations.

The elephant and the 'F' word

Be honest, when you read the title did you automatically think of an elephant? I did when I first heard the spoken command. Most of us will do the same because the brain needs to go into immediate action to search the archives for an image of an elephant. The word "Don't" hasn't a prayer because it is essentially an invasion of our personal freedom of thought. and therefore we dismiss it. It's the same with the 'F' word. I'm referring to the word 'fear' of course, and the bible is full of examples ( 117 altogether ) where we are told not to fear. If we are told "Don't be afraid" the word we latch on to is 'afraid' because the brain gets the message that there is something to be afraid about. Then worry sets in and we no longer feel safe.


Imagine you are climbing a rock face with a friend who is more experienced in mountaineering. Halfway up your friend shouts down to you "Don't look down!" The compulsion to look down would be overwhelming, even though you have been told many times that it is psychologically unsafe to do so. If, on the other hand, your friend had said "Keep looking up!", you would have followed that order without the fear element because the word 'up' is the dominant one. I reckon there's enough adrenalin in rock climbing without adding to it. This is all about using positive commands instead of negative ones.

I am reminded of an old song which I believe was written by Willie Nelson:

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
And don't mess with Mr Inbetween

Shame about the last line but the general idea is good.

Happy positive thinking.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Sun God or the Son of God?

So you think Jesus Christ was born on 25th December?

Most experts conclude that Jesus Christ was not born in December at all but rather September. They say shepherds would not be tending their sheep on a cold winter's night. So why have we adopted December 25th as Christmas ( Christ Mass ) day?

Pagan Tradition and the Christian Takeover

When we look into man's pagan history it's not difficult to see why December was chosen. It is, after all, the month of the winter solstice, a day of great importance in pagan times. The 'sol' part means sun, and sun worship was the high point of man's existence. In addition, all the paraphernalia surrounding this worship, the Yule logs, the holly and ivy, the mistletoe and not forgetting the tree, are all pagan fertility symbols still in use today.

When in Rome

Around 350 AD the Romans were still chiefly pagan and Pope Julius 1 probably got orders from the top to increase subscription and rope in more converts to the faith. Then he had a brainwave. He didn't want to tell the people they could no longer worship their sun god. They would probably have rioted. So he simply superimposed new feast days on top of the existing ones. It worked! Everyone continued with their merrymaking whilst the Pope happily told them they were now honouring Jesus Christ. Perfect!

And now, when you go into a church and see the lighted candles, what you are really doing is paying homage to Mithras the sun god.

What do you make of Christmas?

Christmas seems to have many faces. One face is the face of great joy and happiness, and family get-togethers. Another face represents heartache and sorrow, the nadir in emotional turbulence. Yet another face is the face of enterprise and commerce with its miasma of sales, bargains, gadgets and gifts. Whole industries have mushroomed around it. The lights have their purpose too. They chase away the winter blues, thereby replacing the sun's weak winter light.

Christmas can be a roller coaster ride for families and individuals alike. According to the Samaritans, there is a greater potential for suicide at Christmas than at any other time of year. Why? Have we been indoctrinated so well by rose-tinted tradition, with fairy tale images of joy and happiness and the sound of Bing Crosby singing 'White Christmas'?

For those whose emotions are not so robust, these images can be a dangerous foray into fantasy. Like Cinderella, the clock must strike twelve at some point and then comes the reality shock. For some people it's too much.

I have another face for Christmas. It is the face of each individual looking in the mirror and saying to their reflection "I love you", and saying it with confidence and joy. It is the face of you and me loving ourselves for who we are regardless of where we come from or the colour of our skin. By doing this on a regular basis we are laying the foundations for loving other people. For we cannot love others until we have first learned to love ourselves. This has the potential to change the world. All we need is the will to do it.

A merry Christmas to my readers ( all three of you ) and a prosperous new year.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

God:The Real Time Lord?

" day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (2 Peter 3:8 )

Time: Reality or Construct?

Does time exist in reality, or like the internet, is it a construct? Could it simply be an invention of man's imagination adopted for the procurement of power and stability?

The earth and moon have provided man with natural periods from their rotational cycles and he has successfully subdivided these ephemeral giants into pocket-sized chunks of time. Greenwich Mean Time was set up as absolute time to ensure that trains always ran on time. I have bad news for them. They failed!

A wealth of expressions has grown up around time. We talk about killing time, wasting time, that time and tide wait for no man. This suggests time is marching on inexorably and therefore we can't afford to relax for one moment. This means no time for meditation or reflection. No time for nature and the inner peace we so desperately need. The clock has become our god - our master rather than our servant.

Is time necessary?

The above scripture is curious. It appears to be as irrelevant as it is enigmatic. To say that a day is as a thousand years seems to imply that time is non-existent. Perhaps God is really saying "Hey! I don't need time. I'm timeless. I was here before the beginning of time and I shall still be here after the end of it."

Yet other scriptures are so time-oriented. One in particular has been popularised through song:

"To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

This is popular because it doesn't challenge anyone's comfort zone. It is a metaphor for the zeitgeist principle, the rise and fall of fashion, the vogue of human existence and the changing nature of life on earth. But we are told that God does not change.

Does this mean we have taken on board time as a false god? Have we drifted so far from the original blueprint, the God-given prototype of how we should live our lives? Or is God the real time lord, who can travel through a thousand years in one day?

It's your call!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Jonah and the Gourd

"Then said the Lord, 'Doest thou well to be angry?' (Jonah 4:4)

Anger and Judgement

The story goes that God told Jonah to preach to the people of Nineveh because of their 'wickedness'. But Jonah had other ideas and ran away to sea. The ship was struck by a great tempest and when it was discovered it was Jonah's doing, they threw him overboard. Jonah got swallowed by a whale where he had to stay for three days and nights. This 'punishment' for disobedience resulted in Jonah going to Nineveh after all.

God gave the people of Nineveh 40 days in which to change their ways. And they did, but Jonah was surely convinced that they were about to get their come-uppance. He went out of the city, built himself a booth and sat in it, like a ringside seat, waiting for the show to begin. When it became obvious it wasn't going to happen, Jonah became very angry. After all he had gone through, he was not going to be denied the satisfaction of witnessing the destruction of this great city.

The Need for Mercy

God needed to show Jonah what mercy was all about and prepared a gourd and "...made it come over Jonah that it might be a shadow over his head" (Jonah 4:6). Jonah was very glad of the gourd but God destroyed it with a worm in the night and its protection was gone.

The upshot of this was that Jonah felt sorry for the gourd but still angry about the fate of Nineveh. God used the gourd to teach Jonah that the destruction of Nineveh was not carved in stone and that mercy could replace judgement - that change could take place. "Thou hast had pity on the gourd for which thou hast not laboured, neither made it grow; which came up in a night and perished in a night." (Jonah 4:10) The parallel here is that God took pity on the city of Nineveh. How much greater were they than the lowly gourd?

Real-life Parallels

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt wronged by someone because of something they said or did? You felt bitter about it and secretly wished that poetic justice would take place to even things out. But instead, the other person prospered in some way. In reality this person was probably unaware of your feelings and would most likely have apologised later for the misdeed. If the two of you had got round the table and talked about it, the matter might have been resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Imagine the change that would take place in your mind, body and spirit following the resolution of such a situation. You can almost hear your Higher Self's sigh of relief during the eye-to-eye contact and the wave of serenity that has just replaced the tension of anger and judgement.

But this face-to-face scenario isn't always possible, like the driver who cuts you up forcing you to brake sharply. It's not easy to find mercy in your soul when this happens but by doing so you release yourself from the negative vibration which harms only you. It's worth the effort to practise this. After all, at some point, the other guy will repent. It may not be today or tomorrow or next year, but it will happen.