It is Sunday, a day many reserve for church and family activities.
I am not a religious person but I routinely attend services at the Unitarian Universalist church in Columbia. I love their philosophy and I actually became a member over a year ago, the second organized church I have ever joined.
I am definitely a spiritual person. I am an ordained Buddhist layperson and an ordained minister in two Humanist churches. I do not believe in God in the way many people do (that is, an omnipotent being that punishes and rewards, one who we must fear and obey blindly). To me, God is the Universal energy that connects everything; that is my understanding, and it is likely flawed and incomplete, but that is the best I can come up with. As my Buddhist Master once told me, much of the Universe is beyond human comprehension. Although we see that it works, we do not always understand how it works.
Humans have a tendency to demand an explanation for everything, and so we come up with ideas/concepts about how things work. The problem, of course, is when we grasp unto our beliefs so tightly that we name them "The Truth." When our truth becomes the only acceptable truth then we enter the "suffering zone." We either suffer ourselves when others disagree with us, or we cause others to suffer because they think differently from us.
Those in power love this because that causes us to be divided, fragmented, impeded from working for the collective good. The elite has created all manners of ways to divide us, religion being but one of them. Globally, we are separated by national borders. We are split by races, ignoring the fact hat we are just one race: the human race. From early childhood we are taught to be rivals with something: a different school, a different sport team, a different club. Our world is constantly being fragmented with the main purpose of keeping us apart.
I often recall John Lennon's "Imagine" — I wonder what it would be to not be so divided, to be more united, to work together for the common good. Can we imagine a world without borders, without religions, without competitive team sports, without political parties? Can we imagine a world in which we no longer need to stand against things, in which we stand for things, and then work collectively to achieve those things?
I will share more about Sunday's service tomorrow.
HEALTH & FITNESS
I missed jogging again this morning. Darn it! I went to bed late last night working on "EveryDollar" and did not get up until after 7 AM. I cannot wait for Fall weather so that I can begin running during the day and evening. Let's see what happens tomorrow.
Speaking of fitness, I highly recommend the Darebee website. They provide, free of charge, a huge collection of workout plans, challenges, and other fitness and health information. All their materials are downloadable and printable. All for free. I donate monthly to them. Please consider supporting them if you find value in their resources.
And speaking of Darebee, I plan to start their "90 Days of Action" program tomorrow. I will keep you posted.
I am on Day 38 of daily morning meditations. That is a record number of days for my meditation practice. Today's session was on Equanimity, the mindful intent of finding common ground with anybody we dislike. It is a powerful meditation because, at the very least, every being wants to be happy and free of suffering; we all have that in common. If we think about anyone we have a conflict with and we remind ourselves that the other person is also seeking happiness then we begin to build bridges with them.
GOALS, DREAMS, HABITS, RITUALS
Tim Minchin is an amazing comedian, musician and philosopher. I love his commencement speech. I have listened to it many times and I always laugh and I am moved and inspired by his words.
One of the most powerful messages from his speech is his plea for people to be teachers. Tim says, in part: "Be a teacher, even if you are not a teacher, be a teacher." We all have something to offer to the rest of humanity. Let us share our knowledge, our experiences, our discoveries. Every story matters, every voice is important. Raise your voice, share yourself with the world. Be a teacher!
One of the most amazing, thought-provoking pieces by Tim is called "The Fence." Enjoy!
For some time now I have been working on becoming a minimalist. Someone recently asked for a definition of minimalism. It boils down to this: a minimalist questions the value of everything in their life. It is not just about material things, although that is a good point to start. It is not about having the least number of things, it is about only having things that bring value in our life. And beyond the realm of "things" we can have other areas such as activities and relationships. We can view the things we do and the people we interact with regularly and find if they bring value to our life (and when it comes to relationships, we could also question whether we bring value into the other person's life). Sometimes we are in a crappy relationship and we are the cause of it being crappy.
For more information on minimalism, I suggest reading the blog by "The Minimalists". I met Josh and Ryan when they were in Columbia some time ago and they are genuine believers in the power of minimalism. You may also enjoy reading Leo Babauta's "Zen Habits". Leo was one of the original minimalists.
I have been using the "EveryDollar" website and app very successfully today. One word of caution. Do not get too far ahead in your monthly budgeting. If you create several monthly budgets and then you decide to add categories to the current month, the new categories do not automatically appear in future months unless you use the "Reset" function (link located at the bottom of the page) which will copy the previous month budget and categories, but also causes you to lose any budget data entered for that month. It is not a big deal, but I wanted to share this tidbit with you.
You may have heard or read that Sen. McCain's daughter delivered a strong message about how America is already a great nation that does not need to be made great again. #45 could not take the high ground on this and went on the attack. How un-presidential these actions are. Childish and vengeful behavior that would be expected of a 10-year old, not the head of state of the most powerful nation on Earth. But then again … perhaps he is not the legitimate head of state of the most powerful nation on Earth.
TIPS & TRICKS
For months now I have been using the "Waze" app to plan my drives, even the simplest ones. It has helped me avoid traffic jams many times. I highly recommend it.