Category Archives: Food For Thought

Hobgoblin Of Little Minds

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance … 

Consistency is a wonderful attribute when it comes to one’s character in life. It allows others to depend on us, to place their trust in our words and actions. After all, it is wonderful to be able to rely on others–to have a clear idea of where they might be, how they might act, or what they might say. However, a foolish consistency–one in which we tend to hold on to our beliefs, thoughts, or ideas simply because we already have them–is a harmful affliction that consumes our character, potential, and growth. Such a tendency keeps us from searching for answers, understanding, and knowledge, since we believe that we already have everything we need. <!–more–> 

There is so much to learn in our lives and so much to be shared with others. Yet when we do not allow ourselves to challenge our beliefs, understandings, and ideas, we lie stagnant in our own murky pool of knowledge, and we have much more potential than that. We were not created to live in such conditions or situations; we were created to learn, to change, and to grow, and as we do so, our beliefs, understandings, and ideas should change with us. What served me when I was 16 is not necessarily all that relevant to me now, and the things I believed from yesterday should no longer be embraced as truths of today.

Perhaps we remain adamant in our belief in someone even after they have clearly violated our trust time and time again. Or maybe we simply continue to fuel an addiction, telling ourselves that it is not harming us, despite the advice from those concerned for our health and the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The fact of the matter is if we never allow ourselves the chance to experience necessary growth and change in our lives, we truly are being foolish.

We are all created to grow into ourselves–that includes spiritually, physically, emotionally, and intellectually; it thereby serves us no good to espouse a “little mind.” Those things, ideas, and beliefs that we hold on to for safety, or because we prefer their company, or even because we simply dislike the idea of change, will in fact become the chains that hold us back from our becoming.

Be open to change in all aspects of your life.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of things or beliefs have you held onto even after finding out they were not what you had thought they were?

Why do we often hold onto stale thoughts, ideas, and beliefs and present them to the world as “truths?”

Why do we generally see contradicting a previous belief or stance as a bad thing? Why do so few people do it?

For further thought:

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold onto.” ~ Tao Te Ching

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Being One With One’s Life

“Every person must follow his or her own process. No one else knows what is right for another. There is no goal in living our process, except to live it. Our processes can change. Our lives can change as we participate in the process. Our only requirement is to trust the process and live in faith. Our responsibility is to live out what our Creator asks of us. To live our lives. Living our process demands a deep spiritual commitment of being one with one’s life.” ~ Anne Wilson Schaef, Living in Process … 

Our lives are a special and unique journey gifted to us alone by our Creator, no one else will live it. This means, of course, we have a responsibility that comes along with it–to live out our lives in faith and to trust the process. This requires us to be in tune with who we are, how we are meant to be, and what we are meant to do, which can be a rather difficult thing for some of us. After all, how many of us can say that we are truly committed to becoming the person that we were created to be and not the person that we want to be or the person that others expect us to be? This also means that we must be willing to accept the obstacles, difficulties, and changes in our lives as we journey down our paths with trust and faith in God’s divine providence. <!–more–> 

In truth, a loving Creator has given our lives to us; and although we each have this gift, and we have some control over it, we do not have complete control. This is a good thing, though, because in our folly, many of us would steer our lives in unpleasant and harmful directions if we did. I, for one, remember foolishly wanting things with an unhealthy desperation–relationships, wealth, power, material objects, and other such things–only to realize later that those things were not what I needed.

I believe we each know deep within our hearts what is right for us. And if we can ignore the noise of the world around us–trusting life and having faith in our Creator–we will find that life is a wonderful journey, a blessed experience filled with great treasures of joy, love, friendship, compassion, and other spiritual riches.

Allow yourself to live life through your authentic heart and soul, and not through your logic and intellect. For when one understands that he is a divine creation, he knows that his life has purpose and meaning to it other than that which his logic and intellect assigns. And it is from this perspective that he may come to discover who he is, and the depths of his capacity to truly give to the world.

Spend some time in reflection of the path of your life.

Questions to consider:

In what ways do you feel that you are one with your life? Why?

How often do you trust the processes of life? How often do you try to control them and make them turn out how you want them to?

What processes have you noticed recently in your life? Do you attempt to guide them, or let them guide you?

For further thought:

“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” ~ Anais Nin, D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study

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Explore Your Full Potential

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” ~ Jesus of Nazareth, excerpt from the Gospel of Thomas … 

What do I bring forth? Is it to the utmost of my capabilities, or do I reserve part of my potential and my abilities and only apply them where I see fit? We each have such an amazing and endless flow of potential within us, yet often times we fail to develop and emanate that capacity. In such instances, our hidden and undeveloped potential has a tendency to destroy us, leaving us with feelings of disappointment, regret, and dissatisfaction of having come up short. <!–more–> 

Regardless of the reasons for hiding away our potential–fear, shame, pride, selfishness, or any of the multitudes of excuses–what we keep within us will never serve others or ourselves. It actually is a very selfish thing for one to do. This statement is not meant to be judgmental, rather, as a reflection on how our not giving to others of the gifts we have been blessed with affects them unfairly. After all, I have a firm belief that we each hold “pieces of others’ puzzles,” that are not ours to keep, and are needed by those individuals to become whole.

Jesus’s message holds only truth: the potential we keep buried within becomes wasted potential that diminishes not only ourselves, but all of humanity. Your potential can save you–it can help you to develop yourself and your purpose, it can endue self-worth and confidence, it can enrich your life and the lives of those around you, and it can cast light into the darkness of this world in which we live.

Discover some areas in which your greatest potential lies?

Questions to consider:

Why do many individuals experience fear when they think about reaching their potential? What might be some of the causes of such fear?

What is within you? Do you always bring it forth?

How can bringing it forth save you?

For further thought:

“I have no doubt whatever that most people live, whether physically, intellectually, or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make very small use of their possible consciousness, and of their soul’s resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little finger. Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed.” ~ William James, The Principles of Psychology

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Do Not Break Any Laws Of Society

“Those who surpass their fellow citizens in virtue are no longer a part of the city. The city’s law is not for them, since they are a law to themselves.” ~ Aristotle … 

Here, Aristotle claims that a virtuous or righteous individual does not need the laws of society, as their own moral laws and conscience embody said laws. This was part of his writings on civic virtue, or the cultivation of habits of personal living that are claimed to be important for the success of the community. Essentially, his belief was that the laws of society are necessary up unto the point in which an individual becomes virtuous enough to embrace the laws as part of their own moral character. At this point in their lives, those laws would become irrelevant, as they no longer have any urge, whatsoever, to do anything harmful to society. This seems logical, after all, since the purpose of laws in a society are to protect the people from those who pose a threat. <!–more–> 

In Romans 2:12, Paul similarly wrote, “For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” Both Paul and Aristotle were in agreement that in the absence of explicit laws, a virtuous person still has a conscience that guides them and acts as a book of laws.

Of course, laws have changed a lot over the years. Centuries ago, societies did not have to deal with the multitudes of construction, traffic, zoning, taxation, digital rights, fair use, and other modern laws that make following said laws ever more difficult; still, the messages of Aristotle and Paul remain the same: adopting a life of virtue gives us freedom. Freedom because it enriches our lives and allows us to live a life that truly aligns with our hearts. And since our actions are henceforth guided by a desire to lead a good life… freedom from fear of sinfulness, immorality, or retribution. So strive to find that congruence between how you act and your heart, and know peace this Christmas season.

Do not break any laws of society; nor any of your heart.

Questions to consider:

What is your definition of a “life of virtue?” How does this apply to your life?

Are there any types of laws that you break regularly? What penalties do you face, if any?

Are there any laws that you feel unfairly keep you from being or expressing yourself? What might you do about those laws?

For further thought:

“When people are pure, laws are useless; when people are corrupt, laws are broken.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli, Wit and wisdom of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield

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So The World Change Us

“It is not my experience that we are here to fix the world, that we are here to change anything at all. I think we are here so the world can change us. And if part of that change is that the suffering of the world moves us to compassion, to awareness, to sympathy, to love, that is a very good thing.” ~ Cheri Huber … 

It is easy enough for us to want to fix the world; after all, as humans, we like to fix things. And we need not look far to discover any of the multitude of things that tend to move us to a greater awareness of the suffering that exists in the world. But that is not necessarily why we are here–to change the world. Rather, as Cheri points out, we are here so that the world might change us in to the person that we are each called to be; so that it might add value and purpose to our existence, be the catalyst for our positive growth and development, and be the conduit through which our authenticity flows. <!–more–> 

A common problem with our desire to fix things is that when we do so, we generally model it off the opposite behavior that we are trying to fix. For instance, Mother Teresa once said that she would never be a part of an anti-war demonstration; she would, however, take place in a pro-peace demonstration. This attitude illustrates the difference between wanting to fix things and wanting to add something positive to the world. It perhaps also highlights a tendency of some individual’s motives towards selfish desires versus selfless ones.

The world does not need our help fixing itself… it has got along marvelously well for thousands of lifetimes longer than man has ever existed upon it. We, however, need the world–we need it to survive, we need it to grow, we need it so that we may journey down the paths that lay before us and come at last to our final destination. Of course, we always have the ability to contribute to this world in meaningful ways–by adopting attitudes and behaviors that seek to live in harmony with it and embrace it “as-is” so that it might continue on its own terms. Such a perspective helps us in our becoming, while still allowing us to give something positive to the world right now instead of unwisely seeking to find flaws to eliminate that may or may not exist.

Reflect on some of the positive changes that the world is asking of you.

Questions to consider:

Why do most individuals like to try to fix things so much?

Has this world ever fixed or changed you in any way? How?

If harmony with the world is our duty, how might we live up to this responsibility? What are some of the ways in which you develop harmony between the world and yourself?

For further thought:

“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.” ~ Michael Pollan

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Perspective

“Somewhere, in the back of your mind, try to remember that everything has God’s fingerprints on it. The fact that we can’t see the beauty in something doesn’t suggest that it’s not there. Rather, it suggests that we are not looking carefully enough or with a broad enough perspective to see it.” ~ Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … 

Life offers us much to take in–to see, to hear, to taste, to feel, to share, and to appreciate. Unfortunately, it can be easy for us to get so caught up in life that we fail to see all the beauty that is before us: the simplicity of a leaf blowing in the wind or the song of a bird; the depth and the substance found when you look deep into the eyes of a loved one or friend. Even something as simple as feeling your own heartbeat in your chest is so amazingly beautiful. And the truth is that all this beauty does not simply exist for itself, after all, beauty is not beauty unless it is appreciated. <!–more–> 

That is where perspective comes in to play. Perspective is so important in our lives. When we look narrowly–seeing only what benefits us or fulfills our desires–we remain small, barely scratching the surface of all that God has made available for us in life. Yet when we truly open our eyes and our hearts to the beauty that is before us, we find ourselves surrounded by endless divine beauty–a beauty that ignites an appreciation within us that fosters joy, happiness, meaning, and purpose in our lives.

And if you wonder about how this appreciation might affect us in positive ways–how recognizing and feeling good about beauty can help us to make our lives fuller and richer–simply imagine it as buried treasure in your backyard. If you never take the time to look for it, it will remain hidden and never help add any benefit to your life. Beauty is much the same: it offers us wonderful treasures to improve our lives with, but we have to look for it, we have to see it and truly appreciate it.

If we want to add beauty into our lives, all we have to do is look for God’s fingerprints on the world around us. In addition, as we begin to see more beauty in life, we can lock those images and experiences into our memories, so that we might carry them within our hearts and minds and share them with the world around us.

Find five beautiful things around you right now.

Questions to consider:

Why do many individuals tend to take beauty for granted?

Do you ever stop to notice and appreciate beauty? How often?

How do you feel when you stop to think of the beauty in another human soul? Your spouse or significant other? Do you ever tell them how this beauty makes you feel?

For further thought:

“All the beauty is forever there before us, forever piping to us, and we are forever failing to dance. We could not help but dance if we could see things as they really are. Then we should kiss both hands to Fate and fling our bodies, hearts, minds, and souls into life with a glorious abandonment, an extravagant, delighted loyalty, knowing that our wildest enthusiasm cannot more than brush the hem of the real beauty and joy and wonder that is always there.” ~ Margaret Prescott Montague, Twenty Minutes of Reality

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Your Fingerprint

“This, I believe, is the great Western truth: that each of us is a completely unique creature and that, if we are ever to give any gift to the world, it will have to come out of our own experience and fulfillment of our own potentialities, not someone else’s.” ~ Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth … 

Our uniqueness is a gift to be celebrated. After all, an awesome Creator designed us perfectly and purposefully, with attention to every detail. Furthermore, each of our unique gifts and talents are completely ours and ours alone, no one else can live the life that is only possible for us to live. And in realizing this truth, it is apparent that the single most important gift we can give to the world, must come from our hearts–out of “our own experience and fulfillment of our own potentialities.” <!–more–> 

We are blessed, in this day and age, with many more ways in which we can give to the world and to the people and creatures in it. Had I been born even a century ago, my opportunities on how I might contribute would have been much more limited by my ability to travel, to communicate, and to build upon the current foundations we have available to us today. Right now, I have access to motor vehicles and airplanes that allow me to travel further, faster, cheaper, and more frequently. I have access to much better education and training, and an endless wealth of knowledge online. And I have the added bonus of building upon the wisdom of the past century.

Knowing these truths should have a profound impact on our lives… lives that were masterfully and intentionally created for us to fulfill. Accept your unique authenticity and always remain aware of your divine beauty. No other creature is like you, and no other creature holds the amazing potential that you alone do.

Gift the world in ways that only you have the ability to.

Questions to consider:

Do we all recognize and appreciate our own uniqueness? What might cause us not to do so?

What are some of your strongest gifts? How do you use them?

What kind of contribution can you make to the world today? How can you go about doing so?

For further thought:

“How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment; we can start now, start slowly changing the world! How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make their contribution toward introducing justice straightaway. . . . And you can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness!” ~ Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank

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