Exploring Life After Life

Helping Our Troubled Youth

Helping Our Troubled Youth

“What we experience on the other side is related to our spiritual awareness and consciousness while on earth. What matters is what we have done during life and our state of mind or expectations at the moments of death. We carry everything with us, even regrets, addictions and obsessions. Knowing this, we are wise to heal these issues before dying.” (An excerpt from a previous blog of January 2015, “What We Know About Life After Death”) 

Recent violent events in our country and in the world open discussions about our current actions. As more terrorist activities unfold in these uncertain times, there must be decisions about what we are doing in this lifetime that will affect future lives or any life between lives.

Most spiritual beliefs or religions promote compassion, unity, truthfulness, fairness, tolerance, responsibility, respect for, and service to, all life. Perhaps this is the time to remember these seven shared values and be sure we are living them.

The continued violence and accompanying hatred is a turning point. What is our appropriate spiritual action? Where is our individual passion? Where do we focus our energies to help with the negativity in the world? Each of us has a different answer, whether it be to assist children, become an activist in the corporate or political arena, create art in a way to reach others, some combination of these, or one of the multitude of other ways that may speak to us.

I needed to redefine my personal response. While continuing to explore life beyond life, I felt compelled to write about providing spiritual role models for our youth as they struggle in all parts of the world. The young who are joining the extremist groups, such as the Neo-Nazis and ISIS, need a caring community in which their voices are heard. They need better choices. What can we do to help?  The following articles address different aspects of this issue. I hope you find them thoughtful.

Contents:

I. Violence 

Violence in Our Schools

A Caring Adult

Diversity

II. Learning Better

Creativity

Does Ability or Effort Limit Us?

Chaos and Order in Our Lives

The Female and Male Brain

Communication

Auditory, Visual and Kinesthetic Learning

III. Practical Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

Seven Cosmic Principles

Using Our Will to Control Our Lives

Do the Right Thing

 

I.  Violence

Violence in Our Schools

We behave in our civic and political lives as though anything goes, so long as it fits our side of the issues.

And we are endlessly surprised when our children show themselves to be heartless teasers,

graceless winners, bitter losers, self-centered jerks – and occasionally killers.

                                                                                                                                                     William Raspberry

One way to help our troubled youth is to begin looking at their disruptive actions. School violence is a microcosm of disturbances in society. What bothers us, bothers our children.

Violence occurs whenever anyone inflicts or threatens to inflict physical or emotional injury or discomfort upon another person’s body, feelings or possessions.  

                                     (Violence in Schools: The Enabling Factor by Carole Remboldt)

Remboldt claims aggression is so prevalent in our society, as seen in the news, video games and movies, that we do not convey strongly enough that it is not an acceptable form of expression. Her book was published in 1994. The problems of today have roots that go back decades, probably longer. She states that while educators know what is going on in their schools, they often feel powerless to act. Tolerance and lack of action may be viewed as permission to be violent. This perceived consent encourages unintentional enabling.

Think about that and reread the quotation at the beginning of this piece. Do we as a society or individuals enable violence?

There is often a well-defined group of students involved in starting fights and threatening others. We know which kids in schools or at home are continually in trouble and creating problems. Too often bullying in the classroom, on the playground, or on social media is ignored. Whatever the reason, the result is the same – condoning violence.

We also know which kids are the outsiders that are picked on and ostracized. Their anger can escalate. It may not be the bully who is fighting or shooting, but the victim. We have seen this play out in recent shootings. While victims should stand up for themselves, have we failed to provide an effective way for them to do that?

The caution is to be aware of the potential for cruelty and not dismiss incidents for fear of getting involved or thinking “Oh, that’s just the way kids act.” All such acts or threats are serious.

Harming another or damaging someone’s property is an act of violence. But ridiculing someone is the same. Free speech is an important right but not an excuse for hurting another. What if we enforce this intolerance in our schools, in our homes and on social media?

Individuals must learn personal responsibility and understand the consequences of their actions. Knowing that schools and parents will impose those consequences is critical. If there is no commitment to enforcing a policy, the atmosphere is one of encouraging hostility. We know the policy of “If you see something, say something.”  Let’s add “If you hear something, say something.” What if we taught our youth that any threat or ridicule in school, at home, or on social media is unacceptable?

We can be role models by avoiding any physical or emotional aggression ourselves and by refusing to ignore such activities in others, especially in our children.  Each one of us has a personal responsibility to do that.

This material is revised from Chapter 2 of my book, Don’t Fall Off the Bicycle: Balancing Chaos and Order in our Lives (2002).

 

A Caring Adult

In this second article looking at helping our troubled youth, we recognize the importance of a caring adult in their lives. Our youth are the leaders of the tomorrow. They need help coping with a changing world.

Studies show that children who have a caring adult in their lives adjust better. They need positive and strong decision-makers. Every child must be emotionally connected to parents or, in their absence, another adult. At school, positive relationships with teachers are key to a student’s success. Teacher connections are more important than class size or any other factor in a student’s learning.

Children who are abandoned by parents, either physically or emotionally, or who are ridiculed by peers for being different need to know they are loved and that they are lovable just the way they are. Every child needs such an advantage.

Children tend to feel alone in their suffering. They are living in a world very different from the one in which many of us grew up, so we may have trouble relating to their feelings. They are faced with a world of violence and sex portrayed each night on television and on social media. They are growing up in a society in which roles are confused. Boys are told to be caring, while girls are told to be independent. The messages around them, however, don’t always agree. The media shows that girls must be attractive to males, so too many are bulimic, anorexic or on a diet. Boys feel pressured to make sexual conquests to prove their manhood. They are told to share emotions and be “strong,” yet are not shown how to do either. They know the difference between right and wrong but often choose incorrectly to fulfill misplaced expectations.

Depression among our youth is rising. Suicide is increasing. The number of abused children has jumped sharply. Depression is a serious concern and, if unchecked, can lead to drugs, violence or suicide. Drugs are often an effect, not a cause. More children spend too much time alone at home, and before and after school are the prime times for alcohol and drug abuse. We might want to change some of our own habits and question the excessive use of alcohol and other numbing substances that kids emulate.

Depression does not always require medication. Fewer prescriptions and more love might have amazing results. What if we put less emphasis on conforming and more emphasis on allowing and encouraging individuality. Thomas Moore in Care of the Soul explains that melancholy is a part of who we are. We might want to allow sadness to surface at times and not try to medicate it away.

Most teenagers who commit suicide have previously talked about it. We must listen and take their comments seriously. A mention of suicide does not mean it is a reality but it does mean that the teen needs someone to acknowledge her or his pain. Many see suicide as a possible solution. Too many are resorting to violence, even if it is self-inflicted.

Some of our brightest youth are questioning the purpose of their lives. Most of us weren’t that aware until college or beyond. Kids can accept that we don’t know and that we may also be struggling. They will not accept our dishonest and flippant responses. We can learn to listen without judgement  and to communicate honestly. We can admit that perhaps as adults we do not have all of the answers. We can be a caring adult and let them know that we love them unconditionally.

This material is revised from Chapter 2 of my book, Don’t Fall Off the Bicycle: Balancing Chaos and Order in our Lives (2002)

 

Diversity

This is the third article looking at how we can help our troubled youth deal with violence. If we want to encourage peaceful interactions, we must incorporate efforts into our daily lives that will teach them to accept all others, even those who look, think, feel or act differently. There is no excuse today for anyone to be guilty of discriminating behavior. Our task is to challenge ourselves each time we react to an individual based on color, race, background, gender, sexual preference or religion. An easy statement, a difficult task.

Diversity of thought, however, must be added to this discrimination list.  Too often we dismiss anyone whose opinion differs from ours. We seem to have developed an extreme intolerance for opposing political views, which is an understatement for what transpires within our current political arena. Passion for one’s beliefs is an asset. Using that passion as an excuse for belittling another or for inflicting violence is intolerable. We need to exhibit a civilized acceptance of others’ conclusions. How do we hope to pass any significant legislation, come to any compromise, or be role models for our young if we are so entrenched in our positions that we are unwilling to change or listen?

Politics is just one of the more obvious examples of thought isolation. Somehow we seem to be circling the wagons around a very small group of individuals in our lives who look and think like we do. What a small, boring, stifling, untenable and tension-filled world that would be.

The solution is not complicated. We could begin by incorporating the simple advice in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Some will remember when that book was popular in the 90s. Perhaps this is the time to revisit Covey’s ideas. He suggests that we expect a win/win solution by listening to others, understanding their opinions before reacting, then finding a solution that fits all views. What if we could teach our children such an approach. Not complicated, but effective. Beginning on a small scale might build the strength to resolve larger issues. What works in our daily lives with our kids at home and in school can be translated to a bigger picture. We just have to start somewhere, and start now.

Let’s focus on similarities, not differences. The workplace encourages competition, not cooperation. Business and politics, like sports, are too often about winning at all costs. Is this the message we want to impart to kids?

The argument has been that competition can be a motivating and positive force. While this is true, there must be balance. How often does competition force cooperation into a corner where it is ignored? Humans are cooperative creatures. We have a competitive streak, but this tendency does not have to, and should not, dominate.  

We have been steeped in behavior that has turned combative over time. Turning to a more cooperative headset of teaching our kids to help their siblings, classmates and communities may have some surprising results and make us feel better than expected.

We can address the larger problem of troubled global and domestic terrorists, and all troubled young, by starting on a small scale. We can resolve conflicts within our families, our schools and our communities. We can accept others and not ridicule their ideas. We can question our role in enabling violence, remembering that:

Violence occurs whenever anyone inflicts or threatens to inflict physical or emotional injury or discomfort upon another person’s body, feelings or possessions.  

                                     (Violence in Schools: The Enabling Factor by Carole Remboldt)

This material is revised from Chapter 2 of my book, Don’t Fall Off the Bicycle: Balancing Chaos and Order in our Lives (2002).

II. Learning Better

Creativity

If the next generation is go face the future with zest and self-confidence, we must educate them to be original as well as competent.           Csikszenthmihalyi

Too often we think of creativity as the same thing as genius. Creativity, unlike genius, can be encouraged, and a process can be taught. We are all creative. We are not all geniuses. Mihaly Csikszenthmihalyi in Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention studied over 80 contemporary people in all disciplines from the arts, humanities, sciences, business, politics, and inventions.

He shows that creativity is not confined to the arts. We are all creative even if we can’t draw, act or write a poem. Creativity involves a new way of looking at old information. What if we helped our kids be more creative?

Genuine creativity is rarely the result of a sudden insight and usually comes after much hard work. Creativity is not the one sudden thought that changes the world. Inspiration happens after we immerse ourselves in a particular study or problem.

Three elements in the creative process:

Immersion

Study everything about the subject and look at the data in as many ways as possible.

Incubation

Pull back from the study, work on some other activity and do not consciously think about the problem. This allows the mind to relax and provides a chance for new ideas to germinate.

Illumination

Wait for the inspiration or clarity. This may be a sudden “aha moment” or just a fresh way to view the information after taking a break from it. This step cannot be forced. If the problem is particularly challenging, days may pass before any illumination occurs. Being aware of surroundings, dreams, things others say, or some event may provide a clue to the solution. An answer will present itself if given the chance. This may not happen without the two steps of immersion and incubation. Creativity doesn’t happen on demand. It will just occur.

There are certain characteristics of creativity that can be developed:

An insatiable curiosity means always wondering about everything and enjoying learning. Schools and the workplace can squelch this curiosity if studying or work is boring. Many who do poorly in school or at routine jobs are some of our most curious and imaginative people.

A willingness for ambiguity is a good characteristic to learn since our world does not pose clear-cut problems.  Most issues have many sides and are complex. Things may seem unclear at times and that is acceptable. Creativity is living with ambiguity while trying to find a solution instead of forcing a solution too early.

A willingness to learn from mistakes is crucial. Problems can arise when people are too stubborn to admit ever making an error. We can’t learn from mistakes without acknowledging them. Society doesn’t seem to encourage people to take responsibility for their actions. This leads to blaming others. Creativity needs an ability to admit defeat. Failure is a strong teacher. Fear of it is unnecessary and counterproductive.

Encouraging creativity in our youth may assist them in aspiring to be better people.

This material is revised from Chapter  5 of my book, Don’t Fall Off the Bicycle: Balancing Chaos and Order in our Lives (2002).

 

Does Ability or Effort Limit Us?

Are we born with a certain ability that limits us? Or are we able to increase our ability through effort?

This is the controversy of nature versus nurture. The underlying philosophy of our society tends to favor ability, even if it is not consciously stated or openly acknowledged. The prevailing thought, however, is not accurate. Research provides evidence that we are not victims of our birth. 50% of our ability is determined at birth by genetic make up. What influences the other half is somewhat questionable.

The answer used to be that parents accounted for this other half. James Comer’s book, Waiting for a Miracle: Why Schools Can’t Solve Our Problems — And We Can, shows that parents can help their kids’ intelligence by providing the right educational atmosphere. If children are exposed to the importance and value of learning early, the impact is significant. In an interview, William Raspberry, Pulitzer Prize winner and educational correspondent for The Washington Post, reinforced this idea. He suggested that learning ability isn’t a problem of race or income. Students not doing well in school often come from families where the value of education is missing.

Recent studies show that the role of parents, however, is not the sole factor after genetics. Judith Rich Harris in The Nurture Assumption: Why Kids Turn Out The Way They Do cites numerous studies that suggest a more total environment affects us.

A University of Chicago study shows that schooling can significantly affect how smart we become. The study, that involved nearly 8000 children in kindergarten and first grade nationwide, concentrated on language and spatial skills. Education impacts both. Basic ability does not limit us, but kids need the opportunity to learn.

Another study proves that IQ can be raised through education and is not an innate intelligence score unaffected by learning. This same study shows that a student’s IQ goes down during prolonged school vacations. While we might not like the idea of year-round schooling, such an approach is beneficial. Perhaps this fact might encourage students to read or study during the summer.

All of these studies strengthen the same idea. Our kids are not at the mercy of their parents or nature. Their ability can be improved through effort. Education can significantly impact the future of all children.

This material is revised from Chapter 7 of my book, Don’t Fall Off the Bicycle: Balancing Chaos and Order in our Lives (2002).

 

Chaos and Order in our Lives

What if we accepted chaos as natural and beneficial at times? What if we understood order as not always desirable? What if we imparted those ideas to our youth? Might that help their lives.

Science tells us that within the boundaries of any complex system, such as our bodies, there can be random disorder and chaos. In fact, this chaos is essential to the life of that system. In the human body, our heart beats in a steady and orderly fashion. An irregular beat means trouble. We cannot survive without this order. Our brain, however, has a chaotic pattern. Only in dysfunctional brains is the pattern orderly. This is the opposite of how the heart behaves. Within our bodies, chaos and order exist.

We usually try to quell any disruption in our daily routine. If that happened in our brain, the result would be disastrous.  Since both chaos and order exist in our bodies, can they coexist in our lives?

Perhaps life requires the balance of riding a bicycle, a dynamic balance of constantly shifting weight and attention from chaos to order and back again. This includes measuring future advancement with current survival. This means viewing the bigger picture of the future while also seeing the smaller concerns of daily life.

Three activities help us do this: Thinking, Deciding and Doing.

Thinking is developing possible solutions before choosing any course of action.  Looking at our current environment or our homes, we can observe issues from a bigger picture and longer term perspective. Honoring creativity and chaos, we can view information in a new way.

Deciding is a conscious assessment of all possible options. We can teach kids to understand and accept their role as decision-maker. Refusing to make a decision is a choice, a choice of denial. To make better decisions, they can look at their resources of money, time and people to help. The seemingly quick fix so highly regarded today has convinced us that money, not time, is the answer. Sometimes we have to take as long as possible to make a decision, judging when this is possible and when it is not. Another challenge for kids is to ask the right people for help, people they know they can trust.

Doing is acting on a decision. Choices, once made, must be implemented. Making a decision will not solve anything. Carrying out that decision may. Once kids act, they must be taught to accept the consequences. Too often they wallow in a pool of victimhood, conveniently forgetting the choices that caused their dilemma.

These three activities of Thinking, Deciding and Doing bring us from the chaos in gathering data to the order of enacting decisions. They require continual knowledge or learning.

Our lives and those of our youth are a work in progress. In a rapidly changing environment, we can only be assured of change. As knowledge transforms, so must decisions. The challenge is similar to that of staying on a bicycle, constantly shifting to maintain our balance. Expecting a better tomorrow requires continuous, conscious and creative choices that balance chaos and order in our lives and those of our children.

This material is revised from the Introduction of my book, Don’t Fall Off the Bicycle: Balancing Chaos and Order in our Lives (2002).

 

The Female and Male Brain

One reason that men and women do not talk and act the same is their brains operate differently. Our youth may benefit from this understanding.

Michael Gurian’s The Wonder of Boys: What Parents, Mentors and Educators Can Do To Shape Boys Into Exceptional Men presents an excellent presentation of how young boys react compared to young girls. The dissimilar reactions are partially caused by actual brain functions, not societal influence. In infants, the female brain develops faster than the male brain. In both genders, the left hemisphere develops later than the right. In males, the lag is greater. When the right side of the male brain is ready to hook up with the left side, the left side is not ready. This results in an even stronger right brain for boys, or an even stronger spatial development. In girls, the left brain is ready to be connected sooner, which leads to their earlier linguistic development.

Little boys are stronger spatially, located in the right brain, and little girls are stronger linguistically, located in the left brain. Most girls have a larger vocabulary by two years of age. Most boys are better at activities involving space. Boys often need more space in which to play while girls may be happier in a small area. These are generalizations and may not be true in all youngsters.  Most children in early grades need more physical activity and should not be confined to the classroom all day. Too often discipline problems are simply the result of ignoring basic needs.  

There are other female/male brain differences pointed out in Gurian’s book:

The dominance of testosterone in males makes them more aggressive. They are not more violent, simply more aggressive.

The male brain weighs more and has a greater volume than the female brain.

Females have a larger corpus callosum that separates the left brain from the right brain and is responsible for the connections between the two sides of the brain.

The larger corpus callosum in the female brain results in more connections in a female brain. Since the two sides connect sooner in girls, there is an earlier balance of their brain functions.

In adults, more sections of the female brain are at work more often than in the male brain. The male brain tends to turn on and off. In contrast, the female brain tends to be active most of the time.

The female brain is considered nonlinear because of seeing the whole picture while the male brain is described as linear because of the on-off tendency.

None of the above statements makes males or females victims of their brain functions. Research indicates that activities such as spatial awareness can be taught. No one can claim inability. Men are capable of nonlinear thinking, even though this type of thinking comes more naturally to women. Activities are needed to develop skills for all students, with special notice being given to the needs of each gender. These notes are not always gender-specific. Many women are very good at linear, spatial activities and many men think holistically. Often this reflects some training on the part of that individual. We can help our youth with this understanding and training.

This material is revised from Chapter 7 of my book, Don’t Fall Off the Bicycle: Balancing Chaos and Order in our Lives (2002).

 

Communication

93% of communication is nonverbal. We learn:

7% by words

38% by voice

55% by nonverbal actions

If only 7% of our kids’ learning depends on words, the remaining 93% is very significant. This is an area often ignored. Our children are strongly impacted by the gestures, tone of voice, movement and facial expression of teachers and others.

Credibility depends on the perception of a person as competent, trustworthy, sincere and dynamic. These characteristics are primarily conveyed through nonverbal aspects. If there is a conflict between verbal and nonverbal messages, we believe the nonverbal and reject the words. We trust actions rather than words. So do our kids.

Others read our nonverbal actions. What we say and what we project may be two different messages. If we are bored or angry, our actions convey those thoughts. People pick up any negativity. We must be aware of how we feel, and we must realize that our actions broadcast those feelings. If we want a different relationship, we must convey a different nonverbal message. We can assist our youth by being aware of our nonverbal communication and helping them be aware of theirs.

Communication includes reading, writing, listening and speaking. Learning to read should be a priority. Studies show that students who aren’t capable of reading by the end of the third grade may never catch up. We must help all kids achieve the early goal of reading. The repercussions are alarming. According to the Department of Justice, there is a significant link between crime and illiteracy. According to begintoread.com, “One child in four grows up not knowing how to read.”

Experts claim we need to add to our definition of literacy. Peter Drucker, a business writer and visionary, claimed that:

Literacy is reading, writing, and arithmetic. As well as a basic understanding of science and technology, acquaintance with foreign languages, and knowledge of how to be an effective member of an organization.

Our needs have changed. We are a global village, no longer an isolated country. Today, without some business training, high school graduates have a smaller chance of being hired in positions of advancement and promise. Liz Schorr in Common Purpose:Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America cites a study that shows six essential skills that companies look for in beginning employees.

These include the ability to:

Do math

Read at the 9th grade level

Solve problems

Work in groups

Communicate clearly

Half of our nation’s high school graduates do not have these abilities. If we want our youth to succeed and aim for a better life, these are necessary skills for them to learn.

This material is revised from Chapter 7 of my book, Don’t Fall Off the Bicycle: Balancing Chaos and Order in our Lives (2002).

 

Auditory, Visual and Kinesthetic Learning

The brain uses the five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell in processing new information. Smell and taste play a lesser role, while the three senses normally involved in learning are:

Sight – Visual

Sound – Hearing or Auditory

Touch – Movement or Kinesthetic

Concentrating on only one sense ignores development in other areas of the brain. Engaging as much of the brain as possible enhances its development. Even though the brain has over 100 million neurons, the number of cells is less significant than the number of connections between the cells. Involving different parts of the brain creates connections. Using all of our senses makes us smarter.

Despite the need to encourage all senses, we each have a way that is easiest for us to process new information. Auditory learners prefer spoken words. Visual learners prefer written material or images, and kinesthetic learners prefer ‘hands-on” experiences.

We each have one sense that tends to dominate. Knowing that dominant sense facilitates learning in any environment. Some people want to read first. Some want to hear first, and some prefer to do it first. While most of us use a combination, depending on the situation, one sense is usually strongest. In processing new information, or learning, do you usually prefer to:

Read, Listen or Act?

Below is a description of the three styles.

Visual: read, graphics, prefer written material

Auditory: listen, talk, remember what is said

Kinesthetic: move, can’t sit still, learn best by doing

The kinesthetic learner is often the one at the most disadvantage. Classes at school and work are dominated with words, with the emphasis on listening and reading. We rarely help the kinesthetic learner. Without training and practice, many kinesthetic learners do not have strong visual or auditory abilities. The brain of this learner needs movement to facilitate learning. This is not a learning disability any more than a visual learner may need printed material. Brains function differently. Reading and writing, however, are the skills that are usually stressed and honored today. Rarely are movement and activity emphasized as valid ways to learn except in lower elementary grades, sports and technical training.

We need to develop all senses. Auditory learners need to improve their reading. Visual learners need to listen better. Both need to further develop their coordination through activities. Kinesthetic people need to improve reading and listening. Many adults have naturally strengthened their weaker senses; many have not.

Helping our youth learn better requires that we provide the tools they need. Understanding the three types of learners: visual, auditory and kinesthetic is one of those tools.

This material is revised from Chapter 8 of my book, Don’t Fall Off the Bicycle: Balancing Chaos and Order in our Lives (2002).

 

III.  Practical Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

Spirituality is our life. Whatever we are doing, and our tasks are varied, we connect to a belief in something greater than ourselves. We don’t need an organized religion, only a belief that surrounds us and is our strength, a strength not just in times of stress but in our everyday lives.

There are many definitions of God, Allah, Great Spirit or whatever term we choose. Many of us grew up with a belief in a Theist God, one who ruled and judged our lives, or another entity with equally limiting conditions. Today those views have evolved to a more encompassing force that transcends the Universe.

Know your God, that feeling you get when you rise above the daily demands and feel at peace within. Know your God, trust that knowing. Don’t get lost in the search. A definition is not necessary, a connection is. A definition is intellectual, a connection is emotional. Feel it standing at the ocean’s edge with your feet in the sand as if your soul were being cleansed. Feel it driving through the mountains, highlighting a feeling of insignificance and humility.  Feel it working in your garden as your hands touch the earth, revealing a connection beyond your comprehension. Whatever your experience, whatever your spiritual awareness, feel the love and warmth. Incorporate them into your daily world.

Our spirituality gives us a reason to care, a reason to go on, a reason to help others. Sometimes that simplicity eludes us as we struggle to move through our complex days. Being open allows us to move forward. Everyone has a particular vocation, such as a counselor, healer, teacher, business leader, community leader, homemaker, sports coach, behind-the scene helper sending out prayers or energy to the universe, or something else. There is no one purpose, nor any defined parameters. As long as we are doing what our hearts know is right,  we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing, even if the outward trappings look different than originally imagined.

Each of us is responsible for our spirituality. Our tasks are very significant on a very small scale, simply following our beliefs on a daily basis, which is living our spirituality.

 

Seven Cosmic Principles

What if there were seven spiritual principles that shaped our lives? What if these principles encompassed all religions, were available without the need of a spiritual leader, had ancient origins and could be used to develop a personal spiritual answer with a practical application to daily life? Might they provide some guidance to our youth struggling to find meaning in a difficult world?

Years ago I read about these Seven Cosmic Principles in The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians and wrote about them in my book Do It Yourself Guide to Spirituality: Seven Simple Steps. I present a modified version of that information here in order to explain to our youth that there is an organization to our universe and rules to follow that apply to everything.

The Seven Cosmic, or Universal, Principles:

1. Everything and Everyone is Connected

We are all interrelated. The smallest atom and the largest galactic unit are connected and governed by the same rules. We are part of everything around us, and everything is part of us. This shows us that we are not alone.

2. Everything Happens for a Reason

”What goes around, comes around.” There is order to our seemingly chaotic world, even if that order is not always apparent. There is a cause and effect, a reaction to every action. Life is governed by law and order.

3. We Change

Science teaches us that the world vibrates, and we vibrate. This applies to everything in the universe. Since vibration is not static, this causes  change. Transition is a normal part of life, not something to be feared.

4. We Move in a Pattern

There is a moving rhythm to life: Seasons change, tides rise and fall, day turns to night. Patterns affect all of life. We move within a defined and recurring pattern.

5. We Progress

Our pattern, however, is not static. Just as vibrations change, the pattern governing our lives moves in a circle. This is not a closed cycle but one that spirals upward so that we can and do progress.

6. We Strive for Balance

Everything has its opposite. There is polarity, or two extremes, in the world and the universe. Our challenge is to find the middle ground, the median point, and avoid the extremes. We should search for moderation in every emotion, every decision, every activity.

7. We Create

Sex attraction governs our lives and the universe. Life is creation. But this is not just the “sex” of a limited male/female physical encounter. Sex attraction unites the masculine and feminine characteristics within us. As an extension of the previous principle of opposites, we strive for a balance of the masculine and feminine within. This allows us to create new ideas, as well as life.

Each of the Seven Cosmic Principles can be traced back to the beginning of known time, to the earliest philosophies and beliefs, reflecting ideas from Plato, the Gnostics, ancient Greeks, ancient Egyptians and Sumerians, among others. Records place the origin of these Cosmic Principles at least as far back as 3000 BCE, and perhaps further.

Again, might these Cosmic, or universal, principles help anyone searching for answers in life and provide some direction to our youth who are struggling to find some sense and purpose in their lives? Knowing there are rules that govern and guide our lives can be a comforting concept.

This material is revised from my book, Do It Yourself Guide to Spirituality: Seven Simple Steps (2011).

 

Using Our Will To Control Our Own Lives

There is another tool that we can provide to our troubled youth, one that might help them view their external and internal concepts in a new light. The previous article, Seven Cosmic Principles, described the 7th Principle, “We Create,” as:

“Sex attraction governs our lives and the universe. Life is creation. But this is not just the “sex” of a limited male/female physical encounter. Sex attraction unites the masculine and feminine characteristics within us. As an extension of the previous principle of opposites, we strive for a balance of the masculine and feminine within. This allows us to create new ideas, as well as new life.”

The conscious mind is the masculine and the unconscious mind is the feminine. The unconscious mind becomes fertile and creates ideas, similar to the womb creating life. Creation of thoughts occurs with the conscious mind stimulating our unconscious. The male stimulates the female. A simple concept, but one that we tend to ignore as we focus solely on sexual relationships.

The masculine “Will,” or conscious mind, controls thoughts. If we are lazy and listen to those around us, we are ruled by others. Women too often allow strong men to dominate their lives. Many men acquiesce to dominant women. We cannot allow someone else to manage our thoughts. We can create our own ideas, rather than allow others to command us.

We can’t relegate or delegate any part of ourselves to a member of the opposite sex, to a member of the same sex, or to society. We see this in various forms of the media, which tell us what to think by supplying news that is geared to a particular view. For many, the media creates an opinion, so individuals don’t have to think for themselves. Our strength is to think for ourselves and use our “Will” to create our own world.

Some use their mind to dominate others. This violates the balance in our lives, as in the 6th and 7th Cosmic Principles discussed in the previous blog, by concentrating on the masculine and ignoring the feminine. Anyone dominated by another also violates the balance by focusing on the feminine and ignoring the masculine. Neither provides a point of power, leaving that person in the control of others, or at the mercy of those around him or her. If we don’t stimulate our our thoughts, or use our own masculine conscious will to fertilize our feminine unconscious, we are controlled by others.

Today, too many are led by the thoughts of a few. This is not a contemporary problem, but was discussed as far back as the 15th century, a human condition that has existed far too long. Perhaps we now have the knowledge and ability to stop allowing others to dictate to us. Our masculine and feminine must work together to create a better world. That will only happen when we internalize this balance and honor the need and power of our internal feminine and masculine.

The power is within us, not external to us. In the center, we find ourselves. The control we think we strive for is not rule over others, but command over ourselves. When we can achieve balance in our lives, we have sway over activities, decisions, and emotions. That is power. That is what we want to teach our kids to provide further guidance on how they can better manage their lives.

This material is revised from my book, Do It Yourself Guide to Spirituality: Seven Simple Steps (2011).

Do The Right Thing

We all know the right thing to do. We often forget, though, as we try to justify some of our less than exemplary words and actions. Helping people is the right thing to do; hurting people is not. War is immoral, violence is unacceptable. While there are extremes and arguments for each of these, we know they are wrong. While we may pontificate about our impact on the larger scale, assuming there is nothing we can do about a war thousands of miles away, we may neglect our beliefs in our daily lives. Sometimes we miss the spiritual part, where we live what we know is right. If we begin to honor our beliefs, we can begin to show our younger generation how to do the same.

The spiritual way is living each moment with our best intentions and treating others as we would wish to be treated. Starting at our own level, we can change the world, even if not immediately, but we can certainly impact our daily lives.

There are so many ways for our world to be influenced by doing the right thing. In one of my books, Don’t Fall off the Bicycle: Balancing Chaos and Order in Our Lives, I mention three large concerns in the world today: Peace, Population and Pollution and some possible solutions.

Peace involves the obvious issue of war, but it also includes any violence, verbal or physical. Violence is any physical or emotional injury, or discomfort, of another person. How often do we argue with relatives or friends and make statements that we wish we could retract the minute they are uttered? What if we eliminated harsh words from our conversations, attempting to listen to and understand another’s view before condemning the opinion or that person?

Population involves the issue of too many people in the world, but it also includes poverty. Education is an avenue to a better future for children. Is it acceptable to allow our poorest children to be malnourished and uneducated? Money is not the only way to assist, either on a government or individual level. While aid is crucial, so is volunteering or helping in any small way possible. What if we used the abundance in our lives to help others?

Pollution is ruining the air and water around us. We are spoiling the environment with our careless throw-away society. Excessive consumerism is  always wanting and needing more. What if our challenge is to find creative ways to use less, of everything?

There are no easy solutions to any of these concerns.  We know that sometimes we simply ignore our own instincts and allow the flow of society to dictate personal, perhaps incorrect, choices. What if we change that? What if we teach our youth to honor their instincts and do the right thing?

 

 

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