We Are Spiritual Beings

But we don’t think of ourselves in this way. We view ourselves as human beings with a soul. But what if we choose to engage in a spiritual paradigm shift and see ourselves, and other people, as “spiritual beings alive within a human body?” What would this positive shift in how we view ourselves and other people have on our daily interactions, our relationships, our faith?

Incredible, I believe.

Who we are and our reason for being is an age old question. Since the beginning of recorded time, humans have documented the search for the answer to who we are. How did the ancients comprehend themselves among the points of light in the night sky? Did they feel small surrounded by the majesty of the natural world?

The Greek sage Aristotle wanted to understand our reality and believed all people, by nature, desire to know. Over the centuries, countless scientists and philosophers continued the quest to discover our place in the universe and the meaning of life. Since the mid-twentieth century, physicists have worked on a Theory of Everything, a single formula to answer all of our big questions.

You and I are no different from the great pursuers of significant answers in our desire to truly be aware of ourselves. Each of us is hard-wired to examine and navigate the ever-growing realm of inner and outer discovery.  With each new achievement, we seem more certain of who we are.

We are physical beings capable of fantastic feats of strength and endurance. We are intellectual beings who create scientific, medical, and technological marvels. We are emotional beings with an extraordinary capacity for sensitivity.  We experience ourselves and our surroundings through the senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.

In addition to the physical, emotional, and intellectual capacities and the senses by which we perceive stimuli originating from outside or inside our body, a higher wisdom exists within us. I have known it from my first memory.

I was two years old.  I was watching my newborn sister being carried by two nuns down a long sidewalk.  The tips of their hats flopped up and down in rhythm to their synchronized footsteps.  I was aware of each step, each sway of their robes as they moved closer and closer.  My senses were heightened. The sky was a magnificent deep blue.  Seagulls squawked overhead.  The air smelled like the sea. A cool breeze raised goose-bumps on my arm.

I watched expectantly from the back seat of our car as the nuns gently placed a bundle in my mother’s lap.  I peeked over the seat and saw a tiny pink face, eyes squeezed tight against the bright sunlight.

Unable to have children of their own, our parents adopted my sister and me.  Many important events in life have left crystalclear memories within my heart, but none compares to the special day when my sister joined our family.  Awakened to the power of living in the present moment, I received a sister, and with an open heart I became conscious of all we are.

It took years for me to describe what actually happened on that day.  As a childbeing present and openhearted is natural. And, as children, we lack the ability to understand how special it is to remain open and present in the moment as we grow up.

I now realize that day was significant because I was aware of observing myself observing the world, its inhabitants, and my surroundings with a wide-eyed wonder.  Now, many years later, I am able to express the experience as simultaneously seeing myself clearly and feeling myself fully as both participant in and witness to life.  I became aware of a peaceful, present, and patient existence within my being. Connected to this part of my Self, I know we are spiritual beings.

Appreciating ourselves as soul within a human body requires a deep faith in what we cannot see.  We may never prove our soul’s existence with scientific, intellectual, or theological theories.  Attempting to prove soul’s existence with one’s intellect is like trying to see black holes in space.

“Is seeing black holes important?” asks Neil DeGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History.  “No.  What’s important is that we can see a black hole’s paw print.  We see them by observing the impressions they leave.”

Our spirit’s “paw print” is also clearly visible through the impressions we leave. When we give to others as we want to receive, when we listen to others as we want to be heard, and when we speak to everyone as we want to be spoken to, the wisest, most powerful part within us—spirit—permeates each cell, each breath, and each beat of our heart. Soul’s awareness surrounds us and fills us with lovewhich fuels our desire to live an ordinary life in the most extraordinary way by treating everyone and all life as we want to be treated. Living the Golden Rule is proof we are indeed spiritual beings on great human adventures.

Peruse Life

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, peruse means “to examine or consider with attention and in detail.” And dictionary.com says peruse means “to read through with thoroughness or care.”

Have you thought about what a difference it would make to your peace and joy if you actually perused life rather than skimming through it?

One day, I asked myself this question. Stressed and hurried, I felt disconnected from myself and life. Why was I constantly choosing to experience life as if I were a stone tossed out across a lake, touching down then skipping above the water, over and over? The moments when I was above the water, or the present, far outweighed the times I was immersed in whatever I was doing.

When I consciously slowed down, I became introspective. I asked myself, “Regina, if you are not devoted to patiently immersing yourself fully in the here and now, how is it possible for you to actually enjoy life? Where is the satisfaction in allowing your thoughts to fantasize about a future event, rather than staying present to listen closely to a friend? What joy do you receive from letting your thoughts return you to a past situation, instead of patiently remaining present to thoroughly read and comprehend an e-mail from a relative? Why waste time wanting a traffic jam to be different?”

The past is no longer a real moment in time that we can influence or change. The past only holds memories of our life as it was. Returning to fond memories brings us great joy, but the past officially ended the instant we stepped from then into now.

We cannot go back in time to change the choices we made. Reflecting on the past and our previous choices is the way we learn. Allowing our mind to dwell on what we think should have, would have, or could have been takes our attention away from the present. Only in the present is it possible to apply what we learned from the past and create a better outcome for the moment that is now.

The same is true of the future. Regardless of how badly we may want the future to come, we cannot rush ahead and live in a time that does not yet exist. The future is not real; it is only the next moment’s present, over and over, infinitely.

Permitting our mind to race ahead and attach itself to worries of what may happen disconnects us from the present, the only time possible to purposefully get ready for a future event. Living a fulfilled life requires us to patiently surrender to the truth: Life is only real now.

There are 1,440 minutes in each day. Each minute is dear. Once it is spent, there is no way to receive a refund. We cannot purchase more. We cannot press pause on life to resume it at a more convenient time. Time is not a resource to be wasted, killed, or allowed to fly away from us without our being aware of where it went.

Each moment of life is a gift to be cherished. Slow down. Take time to smell all the roses you can in life. Take time to watch the sun rise or set. Take time to patiently listen to others to understand them. The peace and happiness you want is found by living at a pace where you take notice of and appreciate that life is actually made up of the smallest of details.

Hate Speech is Not Free Speech

Which is a truth that is important to my mom, and to me.

My mom, Jean, is almost 98 years old. She is well-read, prides herself on keeping up with current events, and at her advanced age remains sharp as a tack. Mom lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, and I am in Los Angeles, California. We don’t get to see one another in person very often, but we speak daily by phone. Yesterday in our talk she seemed rather upset. I asked what was wrong, thinking she was sick or something was up with my Dad. But I was way off. “I didn’t know who Alex Jones is. Why in the world haven’t I heard about him before? He’s a horrible, hate-filled person.” She said.

I assured her the most likely explanation for her lack of awareness about the big man with a fat mouth is that she does not swim with the bottom-feeders that flock to his hate-filled and truth-absent radio program, The Alex Jones Show, or visit his conspiracy theory– and fake news–filled website, InfoWars.

Jones is an American conservative (whatever that means now?), alt-right, and far-right radio show host and prominent conspiracy theorist who provides a platform and support for white nationalists. The conspiracy theories Jones promoted alleged that the United States government either concealed information about or outright falsified the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the September 11th attacks, and the 1969 moon landing.

The Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, according to Jones, was staged by the FBI.

The shooting of Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords in 2011 was a government mind- control operation.

The September 11th terrorist attacks were an inside job.

Alex Jones’s abuse of his right to free speech has almost single-handedly helped mainstream conspiracy theories become part of American life. And when it came to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Jones’s idea of “free speech” made the lives of the parents of the children killed a living hell. They received death threats from many of his cowardly, zombie-like followers, who, without thought or conscience, devoured and acted upon Jones’s hate-filled rants.

In an act of bravery, Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, who died in the elementary school massacre, sued Jones for the mental anguish his lies about Sandy Hook caused. Recently the jury ordered Jones to pay $49.3 million in damages to the couple. Finally, Jones’s lack of understanding or concern that hate speech is not free speech is catching up to him.

Good! There are many more like him who also need to face a similar come-to-Jesus moment.

Each day we are exposed to people like Jones whose dishonorable, hate-filled character is seen by some as a perverted notion of success. Pseudo-intellectual radio, Internet, and social media influencers and television hosts pander hatred, fear, and divisiveness. They advocate misogyny, racism, homophobia, authoritarianism, and anti-immigrant sentiment. They manufacture disinformation, false narratives, and infotainment propaganda that are not fact-based argument but emotionally powerful fiction. These experts of manipulation are listened to, idolized, and supported by millions of people who call themselves “Christians,” along with politicians, and paid advertisers who peddle their wares on platforms that promote evil as if it were “good.”

Public figures like Jones, who trash-talk, lie, and incite violence, are addicted to the artificial attention they get and to the appeal of having influence and power over others. These deceivers — vendors of disinformation, confusion, and imaginary facts — offer preposterous concepts to gain attention or vilify a perceived enemy, but nothing of value to an enlightened, responsible society. Nothing positive is added to our society when we reward people with fame, influence, or power for pandering hate, disinformation, and divisiveness.

Intimidation and vilification of those perceived to be opponents have become widespread. As citizens, we hold much responsibility for that. Without raising a unified voice to demonize these practices (bullying, sarcasm, character assassination, cruelty, lying, disinformation, etc.) within our sphere of influence, we have allowed negativity and denigration of others to seep into every part of life. The epidemic of disrespect throughout our social, political, entertainment, and even religious environments should be embarrassing to all of us who care that being responsible for our words and actions is a badge of honor and sign of true success as a human being.

To be the solution to this evil, we cannot wait for a jury to award millions to another victim of a Jones wannabe. We must do all we can to prevent others from falling victim to hate speech. Whether those we stand up for are poll workers, children, or ourselves, we must rise and fight back against this epidemic of dangerous irresponsibility!

We are not without power in our homes, our schools, our churches, and our communities. We must refuse to sit by, ignoring the real danger our silence has to perpetuate this damaging behavior.

We can be the solution and join together to shout, loud and proud, “Hate speech is not free speech!”

Although we may live in a free country and have a constitutional right to the freedom of speech, we must be responsible for the truth that we are not entitled to voice, text, print, or post to social media whatever we want without regard to the consequences of our actions. Actions without forethought and accountability are not free. There are always consequences, as our free will comes with a great amount of personal responsibility. It’s only by being accountable for our actions that we maintain our integrity as we navigate social systems that often encourage pushing boundaries to intolerable, ridiculous, and dangerous extremes.

We can create a safe, respectful atmosphere far from people like Jones by vilifying the ego-motivation behind all trash-talk. No matter the platform on which divisive speech is delivered, or by whom, we can turn this wickedness off. We can refuse to attend such rallies, social gatherings, coffee corner conversations, or church services. We can refuse to give our money to the businesses that pay for ad space on these platforms. We can vigilantly monitor our children’s use of social media. We can keep in mind that purveyors of hate and disinformation actively recruit young people through both subtle and overt racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic messages. And rather than shame a child who repeats hateful language or ideas they learn from peers, the Internet, or social media, we can take the time to help them decode the harmful messages behind the memes, words, and posts.

It’s time we put on our superhero capes and actively, on a daily basis, confront the abuses of free speech we witness, whether in ourselves, from our family and friends, or from other people.  Together we can create a world where one benchmark for genuine success is accepting that the right to free speech comes with a huge amount of personal responsibility. Because when there are no supporters for people who lie, berate, slander, and tear others down, they will have no more influence in society and will cease to exist. And my mom, and all of us will rest easier.

Let’s get busy!

You and I Are The Solution

I realize it seems that so much is happening right now. We’re overwhelmed with countless opportunities for positive change. From the environment to how we treat each other and other forms of life, from rampant political corruption and global financial meltdowns to a seeming decline in social, decent, and honorable values, we are being forced to honestly examine issues that concern humanity’s future and well-being.

You and I can see the seemingly unending stream of negativity and conclude that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. You and I can also expend our precious life-energy assigning blame, arguing the issues, shunning accountability, jockeying for power, maintaining the status quo, dreading the end of the world, or focusing on fear and misery.

Or, we can choose to be part of the ever-growing, worldwide collective of people who grasp this moment in time as their best chance to positively and peacefully address challenging issues that will result in the evolution of our individual and shared consciousness. We stop waiting, arguing, and pointing the finger of blame outward. We courageously and responsibly spend our energy by being an active part of the solution to clean up our messes and protect our Earth home and all who inhabit it. We openly and candidly challenge ourselves to change “business as usual” in all aspects of life. We assume personal liability for doing what we can each day to be a catalyst of change and raise positivism from what appears, on the surface, to be a sea of negativity.

You and I can begin to manifest the change we desire by finding an area of interest that makes our heart sing, where our skills are a good fit for making a constructive contribution. Join those expending energy by honestly evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of our political and judicial systems. Become personally involved at the local level to ensure the best education for all children, to help reduce illiteracy, and equip them to deal with the issues we are leaving to their attention. Join a local environmental group and clean up our parks, cities, rivers, lakes, and streams. Assist in educating your community about recycling. Work with local animal shelters to bring the benefits of spaying, neutering, and adoption to our cities. Get involved to end hunger and homelessness. Serve as a mentor to an “at risk” child.

At home, remain aware of what you allow into your mind and heart as entertainment. Search out programming that inspires your intellect and supports the positive values you desire to see in yourself, your children, and our society. Send television and movie decision-makers incentives to develop positive, inspirational, and intelligent programming by turning off anything that insults your intellect or offends your values.

Seek impeccable reporting from news organizations you consult. Research the facts regarding current issues, rather than accepting editorial opinion and hearsay as truth. The time has come to use our brain.

Remember that beyond what advertisers want you to believe about what they think you want from life, the most valuable things are having family and friends, great relationships, enough to eat, a roof over your head, a healthy body, clean water, clean air, a healthy planet, healthy pets, and, foremost, living from the heart. These values are shared by countless people throughout the world. So, encourage others to live in alignment with what is truly important by no longer allowing media and advertisers to tell you what is valuable.

Scrutinize the organizations you entrust to foster your spirituality. Have the courage to question and move away from any organization or doctrine that perpetuates abuse, control, and fear or assigns responsibility for self-centered situations to something outside of you. Separate yourself from and stop supporting anybody whose personal agenda incites hate, negativity, blame, control, discrimination, ridicule, or rationalizations of those behaviors.

We are at a pivotal point in our development. The time has come to grow more connected to our wise, helpful, and intuitive heart. This is the part of us with the patience, discernment, and innovation necessary to help us have the best relationship with others, avoid problems, make life easier, and find the best solutions to what we face.

To motivate this part of us, we need to step away from the familiar and into the vast unknown of limitless positive possibility within our heart. We are not here to wonder what the future may hold. We are here to create the future we want, moment by moment, day by day. We have the ability to be the positive change agent we desire. We stop apathetically waiting for someone else to go first. There are no other people to go first. We are it. The time has come for us to become involved.

Our world is magnificently beautiful. Without a healthy Earth, we do not exist. It is not responsible to wait for some body of “knowledgeable people” to fix what is wrong with our planet. You and I must be the ones to take action.

There is no government, policy, or law that can effect greater change than you and I doing our part each day. Let’s promise one another to care about the impact each of our personal actions has on Mother Earth. Let’s join forces and clean up what we can of our planet. Together we will make a huge difference. You and I are the answer!

Let’s begin by viewing challenges as opportunities to make positive changes. Let’s agree there is nothing gained by continuing to view each other and what we individually and collectively face through a negative perspective. Let’s accept there is no one responsible for coming to our rescue. Let’s stop the self-deception that any group or governmental body operates on the enlightened level necessary to solve our problems for us.

We are capable of cleaning up our messes. We are best qualified to educate our children, stop overpopulating the planet, stop overfishing our oceans, end a dependency on environmentally destructive fuels, and accomplish any of the other items on our universal to-do list. Let us have faith that when the majority of us courageously lead the way in demanding a higher standard of responsibility from ourselves, the desire to rise to the higher standard will become prevalent.

You and I do have something vital to offer. We do have power to initiate positive change. The small actions we take daily do make a difference and will bring about the change we all desire.

We are the solution!