Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

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“It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.”

By Irwin Ozborne

As a child, I remember walking in my grandmother’s backyard and one day noticed a litter of kittens near her garage in the alleyway. They were hissing, crying, and yelping with the hair sticking up on their backs as their frames were so thin you could see their skeletons.

“I want to pet them,” I told my grandmother.

“Oh no. They are not ready for that,” she insisted, “Someone must have dropped them off and they need food and water first.”

“Why not?” I asked, “Are they bad kittens?”

“Of course not, “ she laughed, “there is no such thing as bad or evil. There is only misguided love. These kittens were abandoned and they just need love. But they are also starving so we need to first feed them so they can refill what is missing.”

We went inside and came back with dishes of tuna fish, milk, and water for the kittens. Like always, grandmothers are always right. As the kittens indulged in the meal we brought them, the hair on their backs went down and their growls turned to purring sounds. When cats purr it is an instinctive reaction to communicate their mood as content, calm, and safe.

It was truly amazing. They were lacking basic survival needs of food and water, which had altered their behavior to aggressive and mean. Yet, once that need was met, they were content and friendly.

I look back at this story often as it has so many wonderful lessons attached. The first such is that when these kittens were lacking basic needs – such as food and water – and then finally presented with this need, they instinctively indulged. In fact, a few of the kittens actually vomited after eating so fast.

It makes perfect sense. If I am walking in the desert and dehydrated and finally brought to an oasis, I am going to indulge in water to replenish the fluids and nutrients that were have been missing. If I am starving, I am going to crave high fatty foods to relieve all the nutrients that are missing and most certainly indulge. But, what if I am spiritually starving or thirsty? Wouldn’t it only make sense that if presented with a substance that would instantly fill this void, I would also indulge?

What is Spirituality?

Spirituality is not religion; although religion is a type of spirituality.

Most people that get turned off by the word spirituality have had a negative experience with religion, which is why it is essential to differentiate between the two terms. Spirituality refers to finding purpose and meaning in life, as well as a sense of connection to the universe outside of our self. Some people find this in religion, which is why religion is a type of spirituality. Religion does so with traditions, customs, books, and preachers. And at the core, all religions have the exact same spiritual message – to love one another unconditionally.

Spirituality can be found in any type of connection such as nature, sports teams, understanding the universe, in meditation, groups of people with a common goal, love, friendships, and mindfulness. All of use experience spirituality at times of our lives, though may not have used that term or understood what the term actually means.

As Ekhart Tolle explains that the word is not the experience, “The word honey isn’t honey. You can study and talk about it as long as you like, but you won’t really know it until after you taste it. After you tasted it, the word becomes less important to you.”

In this same sense, the word spirituality turns people off. But it is not the word, it is the experience in which we have all had in our lives such as:

· Moment of clarity

· Sense of inner peace or calmness

· A burst of euphoria

· A feeling of interconnection with the world around us

· Being in the present  moment

· Detached from all of life’s labels and feeling as your true self

· Unconditional love

Is Spirituality a Human Need / Desire?

In the opening story, I share the story of the kittens that were derived of their basic animal needs of food and water for survival. But is spirituality also a human need and/or desire?

This answer comes in two parts. The first portion involves the innate need for love and connection, whereas the second part involves a historical perspective of spirituality in humanity.

In 1958, Harry Harlow performed the controversial “Wire Mother Experiment” which was a designed experiment on the overlooked human need of love.

In one study, the monkeys were reared in isolation in which many died and others were frightened and acted abnormally. Once they grew older, they could not interact with other monkeys. The second study separated monkeys from their mother and gave them options of two surrogate mothers – one made from wire and the other with a soft cloth, both which provided milk. All the monkeys spent more time with the mother made of cloth, even if she had no milk. They would only go to the wire mother when they were hungry and then spent the remainder of the day with the soft cloth mother.

Futhermore, when a scary object was placed in the cage, they rushed to the cloth mother for support. The monkeys were also more willing to explore, or take risks, when the cloth mother was present. This allowed Harlow to conclude that for a monkey to develop normally they must have some interaction with an object they can cling to during those critical first few months.

Back to the story with my grandmother, the behavioral theory would suggest that the kittens needed food and water which is why they responded with joy after that need was met. However, Harlow’s theory shows that it is actually that these kittens were abandoned of their basic animal need, love and security, which created the erratic behavior and they were only brought back to loving animals once they established trust and love.

In regards to the human history of spirituality it goes back to the beginning of humanity. Humans have always shared a desire to alter their level of consciousness in one way or another. The oldest evidence dates back 40,000 years ago in which archeologists have discovered cave paintings in France that show images of humans in a trance-like states, indicating the first recorded history of humans intentionally altering their consciousness.

All ancient cultures have had different ways in attempting to do the same, including indigenous tribes in the Americas would go on vision quests in nature in which they tried to find their mission or purpose in life. Tribes in Africa dance in the streets until they feel the presence of their creator, other tribes in the east will dance on hot coals to try to free their spirit from the body, and many other cultures use meditation as a means to alter their consciousness.

As shown by Harlow, spirituality in regards to love and connection is a basic human need. As indicated by historical accounts, for at least the past 40,000 years humans have had a strong desire to alter their consciousness.

And psychoactive substances have always contributed to this.

Historical Substance Use

One of the oldest organized religions today is Hinduism, which was founded around 3500 B.C. in eastern India. The scrolls and texts of the Hindu religion is organized in books known as the Vedas, which is put together by a series of poems and hymns. Throughout the texts, there are numerous references to the drug/plant called Soma. The drug is basically idolized and worshipped as a hallucinogenic drug that helps the people of this time feel a sense of connection to the world.

Today, experts still do not know what this plant is and have been unable to discover its origins. Historians believe that the drug got into the public’s hands and started to be abused recreationally which led to the first prohibition of a drug.

In the southwestern American tribes they used peyote buttons from cactus at religious ceremonies to feel the presence of the Great Spirit. Also in the ancient Americas, tobacco was initially used in prayer and in South America the Coca plant was originally deemed a gift from the Gods.

In the East, opium and cannabis also first were believed to be gifts from the Gods and used in religious ceremonies as it served as a way to alter the level of consciousness.  While these ancient cultures it seemed worshipped these drugs by their texts, documents, and artifacts, one could argue that not much has changed.

If someone were to research our current times a couple thousand years from now, they will report that this generation wore clothing and jewelry with a hemp plant, 90-percent of their popular music made references to this hemp plant, and their passionate conversations and debates all revolved around the use of this plant. They will clearly say that cannabis was worshipped in this time.

Even alcohol has its spiritual roots as the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks all had Goddesses of Wine. Today, go into any liquor store and they still refer to hard liquor as spirits. As Bill W, the founder of AA refers to the formula for addiction as “spiritus contra spiritum,” which is directly translated to spirits against spirits. This means that the only solution to fight the spirits (alcohol) is to find a spiritual solution in a natural way.

The Craving Behind The Craving:

Addiction is a spiritual disease. It is a thirst, quench, hunger, or starvation for some type of fulfillment or wholeness in a person’s life. People who become addicted to something or another either have an initial void of spirituality, a innate higher drive for a spiritual connection, or a combination of the two.

In listening to many speakers over the years it is quite apparent that the first time the person uses their drug of choice, it significantly alters their consciousness to the point that addiction is inevitable. Just as the opening story indicates that the kittens indulged in food and water because of they were dangerously lacking the nutrients to fill what was missing, people who become addicted certainly share the same behavior in indulging in alcohol and drugs that help fill their spiritual void.

The craving behind the craving refers to looking beyond the desire to use the drug, but rather the desire of the spiritual connection.

In an unofficial collegiate study, a graduate student surveyed about 200 people including students, professors, and staff in regards to the reasons why they use alcohol. The student provided a checklist of ten reasons why the person uses and they could check off however many applied. The results showed that 100-percent of the people in the survey checked off the box marked, “I like the feeling.”

Every single person that drinks alcohol does so because they like the feeling. Which made me dig deeper into examining exactly what is this feeling that everyone craves?

Using personal experience along with talking with others that are actively using or in early recovery, we came up with a list of our own in describing the feeling of being drunk or being high:

· Everything makes sense / I just get it……………………………….…(Moment of clarity)

· I just relax and not worry about all the stressors of life………(Inner peace)

· Everything is better – food, people, jokes, experiences…….(Euphoria)

· I understand people better / love for everyone………………..(Interconnection/oneness)

· Not worried about minor things / Content in moment….….(Being present)

· Freedom from self-criticism and anxiety  …………..……………..(True self)

· No judgments about anyone……………………………………………..(Unconditional love)

In reviewing the list, you see that it is the exact same feelings of a spiritual moment. This proves it is not the drug we are craving, we are craving the feeling the drug provides. The drug is just a tool to help us reach that spiritual connection.

If I am dehydrated, I am going to indulge in water or fluids that help replenish what missing. If I am starving, I am going to indulge in some greasy food that brings energy and life back into my body to restore what was missing. If I am spiritually starving, of course I am going to indulge in a drink, a joint, or a pill that will revitalize all these things that have been depleted.

See the Forest for the Trees

It is highly common for people to find their first encounter with spirituality in the natural world and in nature. On a sober trip that I took with a group a few years ago, we went camping in one of the most beautiful places in the country – Northern California. We spent a couple of days in the Redwood Natural Forest and finding instant connection with the world around us.

In observing the Redwood Trees, there was something quite majestic about these giants. They stood about 300 feet high, some were 20 feet wide, in fact some of the trees have tunnels carved in the middle of them through the highway and our bus drove right through the center. The Redwoods are the tallest living organism on Earth and some of them date back to the time of the Ancient Greek Empire 2,500 years ago.

I always wondered, how do they grow so tall? Whenever there are storms, the tallest trees always topple over because they lack the strength to survive the strong winds. In order for a tree to grow tall, it needs strong and deep roots. But, in looking at the size of the Redwoods, you would think that the roots must reach to the center of the Earth to keep these trees upright amidst strong winds.

But then I discovered that the Redwood Trees roots only grow about five or six feet deep, only adding to my confusion and admiration of the species. Upon further research, I was told that the roots of the Redwoods actually grow horizontally and go about 100 feet wide. Also, they need to grow together in forests so that their roots can interlock underneath and they help prop each other up. You can not grow an individual Redwood tree, they can only grow together so their roots can connect and ensure that they grow together.

The trees also cycle nutrients amongst each other to help each other grow. The tallest trees collect moisture from the fog and share with the shorter trees, and the barks of the trees are intentionally burnt so help cycle the nutrients at the bottoms of the trees.

The story of the Redwoods is a perfect metaphor for spirituality and addiction. We can not survive the storm alone, but once we are able to interlock and find a sense of connection outside of ourselves we are able to embrace the stor more tant to know what sort of person thing as bad or evil. There is only misguided love. These kittens were abandoned and they just need love. But they are also starving so we need to first feed them so they can refill what is missing.”

We went inside and came back with dishes of tuna fish, milk, and water for the kittens. Like always, grandmothers are always right. As the kittens indulged in the meal we brought them, the hair on their backs went down and their growls turned to purring sounds. When cats purr it is an instinctive reaction to communicate their mood as content, calm, and safe.

It was truly amazing. They were lacking basic survival needs of food and water, which had altered their behavior to aggressive and mean. Yet, once that need was met, they were content and friendly.

I look back at this story often as it has so many wonderful lessons attached. The first such is that when these kittens were lacking basic needs – such as food and water – and then finally presented with fulfillment of these needs, they instinctively indulged. In fact, a few of the kittens actually vomited after eating so fast.

It makes perfect sense. If I am walking in the desert and dehydrated and finally brought to an oasis, I am going to drink water to replenish the fluids and nutrients that were have been missing. If I am starving, I am going to crave foods to relieve all the nutrients that are missing. But, what if I am spiritually starving or thirsty? Wouldn’t it only make sense that if presented with a substance that would seem to instantly fill this void, I would also indulge?

Spirituality

Spirituality is not religion; although religion is a type of spirituality.

Most people that get turned off by the word spirituality have had a negative experience with religion, which is why it is essential to differentiate between the two terms. Spirituality refers to finding purpose and meaning in life, as well as a sense of connection to the universe outside of our self. Some people find this in religion, which is why religion is a type of spirituality. Religion does so with traditions, customs, books, and preachers. And at the core, all religions have the exact same spiritual message – to love one another unconditionally.

Spirituality can be found in any type of connection such as nature, sports teams, understanding the universe, in meditation, groups of people with a common goal, love, friendships, and mindfulness. All of use experience spirituality at times of our lives, though may not have used that term or understood what the term actually means.

As Ekhart Tolle explains, the word is not the experience, “The word honey isn’t honey. You can study and talk about it as long as you like, but you won’t really know it until after you taste it. After you tasted it, the word becomes less important to you.

In this same sense, the word spirituality turns people off. But it is not the word, it is the experience in which we have all had in our lives such as:

  • Moment of clarity
  • Sense of inner peace or calmness
  • A burst of euphoria
  • A feeling of interconnection with the world around us
  • Being in the present  moment
  • Detached from all of life’s labels and feeling as your true self
  • Unconditional love

Is Spirituality a Human Need / Desire?

At every stage, addiction is driven by one of the most powerful, mysterious, and vital forces of human existence. What drives addiction is longing — a longing not just of the brain, belly, or loins but finally, of the heart.” ~ Cornelius Plantinga

In the opening story, I share the story of the kittens that were derived of their basic animal needs of food and water for survival. But is spirituality also a human need and/or desire?

This answer comes in two parts. The first portion involves the innate need for love and connection, whereas the second part involves a historical perspective of spirituality in humanity.

In 1958, Harry Harlow performed the controversial “Wire Mother Experiment” which was a designed experiment on the overlooked human need of love.

In one part of the study, the monkeys were reared in isolation in which many died and others were frightened and acted abnormally. Once they grew older, they could not interact with other monkeys. The second study separated monkeys from their mother and gave them options of two surrogate mothers – one made from wire and the other with a soft cloth, both which provided milk. All the monkeys spent more time with the mother made of cloth, even if she had no milk. They would only go to the wire mother when they were hungry and then spent the remainder of the day with the soft cloth mother.

Furthermore, when a scary object was placed in the cage, they rushed to the cloth mother for support. The monkeys were also more willing to explore, or take risks, when the cloth mother was present. This allowed Harlow to conclude that for a monkey to develop normally they must have some interaction with an object they can cling to during those critical first few months.

Back to the story with my grandmother, the behavioral theory would suggest that the kittens needed food and water which is why they responded with joy after that need was met. However, Harlow’s theory shows that it is actually that these kittens were abandoned of their basic animal need, love and security, which created the erratic behavior and they were only brought back to loving animals once they established trust and love.

In regards to the human history of spirituality it goes back to the beginning of humanity. Humans have always shared a desire to alter their level of consciousness in one way or another. The oldest evidence dates back 40,000 years ago in which archeologists have discovered cave paintings in France that show images of humans in a trance-like states, indicating the first recorded history of humans intentionally altering their consciousness.

All ancient cultures have had different ways in attempting to do the same, including indigenous tribes in the Americas would go on vision quests in nature in which they tried to find their mission or purpose in life. Tribes in Africa dance in the streets until they feel the presence of their creator, other tribes in the east will dance on hot coals to try to free their spirit from the body, and many other cultures use meditation as a means to alter their consciousness.

As shown by Harlow, spirituality in regards to love and connection is a basic human need. As indicated by historical accounts, for at least the past 40,000 years humans have had a strong desire to alter their consciousness.

And psychoactive substances have always contributed to this.

Historical Substance Use

One of the oldest organized religions today is Hinduism, which was founded around 3500 B.C. in eastern India. The scrolls and texts of the Hindu religion is organized in books known as the Vedas, which is put together by a series of poems and hymns. Throughout the texts, there are numerous references to the drug/plant called Soma. The drug is basically idolized and worshipped as a hallucinogenic drug that helps the people of this time feel a sense of connection to the world.

Today, experts still do not know what this plant is and have been unable to discover its origins. Historians believe that the drug got into the public’s hands and started to be abused recreationally which led to the first prohibition of a drug.

In the southwestern American tribes they used peyote buttons from cactus at religious ceremonies to feel the presence of the Great Spirit. Also in the ancient Americas, tobacco was initially used in prayer and in South America the Coca plant was originally deemed a gift from the Gods. In the East, opium andcannabis also first were believed to be gifts from the Gods and used in religious ceremonies as it served as a way to alter the level of consciousness. While these ancient cultures it seemed worshiped these drugs by their texts, documents, and artifacts, one could argue that not much has changed.

If someone were to research our current times a couple thousand years from now, they will report that this generation wore clothing and jewelry with a hemp plant, 90-percent of their popular music made references to this hemp plant, and their passionate conversations and debates all revolved around the use of this plant. They will clearly say that cannabis was worshipped in this time.

Even alcohol has its spiritual roots as the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks all had Goddesses of Wine. Today, go into any liquor store and they still refer to hard liquor as spirits. As Bill W, the founder of AA refers to the formula for addiction as “spiritus contra spiritum,” which is directly translated to spirits against spirits. This means that the only solution to fight the spirits (alcohol) is to find a spiritual solution in a natural way.

The Craving Behind The Craving

Addiction is a spiritual disease. It is a thirst, quench, hunger, or starvation for some type of fulfillment or wholeness in a person’s life. People who become addicted to something or another either have an initial void of spirituality, a innate higher drive for a spiritual connection, or a combination of the two.

In listening to many speakers over the years it is quite apparent that the first time the person uses their drug of choice, it significantly alters their consciousness to the point that addiction is inevitable. Just as the opening story indicates that the kittens indulged in food and water because of they were dangerously lacking the nutrients to fill what was missing, people who become addicted certainly share the same behavior in indulging in alcohol and drugs that help fill their spiritual void.

The craving behind the craving refers to looking beyond the desire to use the drug, but rather the desire of the spiritual connection.

In an unofficial collegiate study, a graduate student surveyed about 200 people including students, professors, and staff in regards to the reasons why they use alcohol. The student provided a checklist of ten reasons why the person uses and they could check off however many applied. The results showed that 100-percent of the people in the survey checked off the box marked, “I like the feeling.”

Every single person that drinks alcohol does so because they like the feeling. Which made me dig deeper into examining exactly what is this feeling that everyone craves?

Using personal experience along with talking with others that are actively using or in early recovery, we came up with a list of our own in describing the feeling of being drunk or being high:

  • Everything makes sense / I just get it……………………………….…(Moment of clarity)
  • I just relax and not worry about all the stressors of life………(Inner peace)
  • Everything is better – food, people, jokes, experiences…….(Euphoria)
  • I understand people better / love for everyone………………..(Interconnection/oneness)
  • Not worried about minor things / Content in moment….….(Being present)
  • Freedom from self-criticism and anxiety  …………..……………..(True self)
  • No judgments about anyone……………………………………………..(Unconditional love)

In reviewing the list, you see that it is the exact same feelings of a spiritual moment. This proves it is not the drug we are craving, we are craving the feeling the drug provides. The drug is just a tool to help us reach that spiritual connection.

If I am dehydrated, I am going to drink water or fluids that help replenish what missing. If I am starving, I am going to eat some food that brings energy and life back into my body to restore what was missing. If I am spiritually starving, and have not yet identified that unfulfilled need, I am likely to indulge in a drink, a joint, or a pill that will temporarily revitalize all these things that have been depleted.

See the Forest for the Trees

It is highly common for people to find their first encounter with spirituality in the natural world and in nature. On a sober trip that I took with a group a few years ago, we went camping in one of the most beautiful places in the country – Northern California. We spent a couple of days in the Redwood Natural Forest and finding instant connection with the world around us.

In observing the Redwood Trees, there was something quite majestic about these giants. They stood about 300 feet high, some were 20 feet wide, in fact some of the trees have tunnels carved in the middle of them through the highway and our bus drove right through the center. The Redwoods are the tallest living organism on Earth and some of them date back to the time of the Ancient Greek Empire 2,500 years ago.

I always wondered, how do they grow so tall? Whenever there are storms, the tallest trees always topple over because they lack the strength to survive the strong winds. In order for a tree to grow tall, it needs strong and deep roots. But, in looking at the size of the Redwoods, you would think that the roots must reach to the center of the Earth to keep these trees upright amidst strong winds.

But then I discovered that the Redwood Trees roots only grow about five or six feet deep, only adding to my confusion and admiration of the species. Upon further research, I was told that the roots of the Redwoods actually grow horizontally and go about 100 feet wide. Also, they need to grow together in forests so that their roots can interlock underneath and they help prop each other up. You can not grow an individual Redwood tree, they can only grow together so their roots can connect and ensure that they grow together.

The trees also cycle nutrients amongst each other to help each other grow. The tallest trees collect moisture from the fog and share with the shorter trees, and the barks of the trees are intentionally burnt so help cycle the nutrients at the bottoms of the trees.

The story of the Redwoods is a perfect metaphor for spirituality and addiction. We can not survive the storm alone, but once we are able to interlock and find a sense of connection outside of ourselves we are able to embrace the storm and help each other flourish as we rise above and reach the skyline.

 

Taking the Mask Off: Destroying the Stigmatic Barriers of Mental Health and Addiction Using a Spiritual Solution $3.99

taking-the-mask-off-stigma-barriers-mental-health-addiction-spiritual-solution

Taking the Mask Off” is the new book by Cortland Pfeffer and Irwin Ozborne. Cortland Pfeffer spent years as a patient in psychiatric hospitals, treatment centers, and jails before becoming a registered nurse and working in the same facilities. Based on his experience, this story is told from both sides of the desk. It offers a unique and valuable perspective into mental health and addiction, revealing the problems with the psychiatric industry while also providing the solution – one that brings together science, spirituality, philosophy, and personal experience.

“Taking the Mask Off: Destroying the Stigmatic Barriers of Mental Health and Addiction Using a Spiritual Solution” is available on Amazon, and Balboa Press.

image

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needed without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

Steven Colbert

Waking Times Facebook Page here: Waking Times Facebook Page

By Irwin Ozborne

In a small Middle-Eastern town, the community had been under the rule of a harsh dictator for nearly four decades. He would use force to execute his own citizens, family, children, and wives, if they were to threaten his regime. The dictator was part of a puppet government installed by a larger empire which looked to control and manipulate all of the land.

One day, in fear of a takeover, he ordered his secret militia police to carry out mass executions of every infant boy under the age of two years old. It was not uncommon under his rule to carry out such atrocious acts to spread fear of his people.

As his secret police were “just following orders,” one of the families was able to flee the country and seek refuge in a foreign land.

This is the story of Jesus and the Christmas Holiday – it is a story about a Middle-Eastern refugee family trying to escape persecution and terror in their homeland.

The story continues with the dictator dying and handing over his kingdom to one of his son’s who would create even more terrorism and persecution. This left the refugee family to return to their hometown of Nazareth, which was under different rulers at the time.

Jesus began preaching at age 32 and spoke of love, compassion, and helping those in need. Whether or not you believe in the story of Jesus, are an atheist, believe it is all symbolism, or have no opinion on the matter – you cannot deny that the teachings stood for togetherness, connection, and love for humanity.

He spoke about helping the poor, was against material possessions, and spent most his time with the lepers, prostitutes, and those shunned by society. He told us to forgive each other, to return hatred with love, anti-violence, and was anti-imperialism. Simply, it was about love, forgiveness, acceptance, and social justice.

This is the foundation of Christianity – the teachings of Christ.

But, it doesn’t take too long to discover that a large portion of modern “Christians” seem to have this backwards. They hide behind the Bible, recite scripture, and then are openly racist, discriminatory, judgmental, and self-serving.

Most of these extremists belong to the Republican Party. Now, most Christians are very good people and do follow the teachings of Christ for the most part. Also, most Republicans are good people who believe what they feel is right for “their” country. However, their beliefs do not align with the teachings of Christ. The Republican beliefs are actually anti-Christian – could that be referred to as anti-Christ?

In the same way that Radical Islam does not in any way resemble Islam; neither does Radical Christianity resemble the teachings of Christ.

Let’s be honest. If Jesus was born thirty years ago, Fox News and the Republican Party would label him a dangerous Middle Eastern man who wants to impose socialism on the world and enable the poor.

The Story of Republican Jesus

While they love Jesus, they seem to have made their own interpretation along the way. The Republican Party of the United States of America has created a new figure, Republican Jesus.

Republican Jesus, despite being born in the Middle-East, is a white man. Republican Jesus also openly hates homosexuals, believes that helping the poor encourages them to be lazy, handouts should be reserved for Churches and Corporations, and gave his sermons from million-dollar megachurches which were sponsored by oil companies and arms manufacturers – because Republican Jesus loves guns.

He also completely opposes abortion, because killing is wrong.

However, once the baby is born he opposes any government programs such as welfare, food stamps, free lunch, and public housing assistance. Because, you see, killing is wrong but once they are born they are on their own. Then, allowing a slow, miserable existence is perfectly acceptable for those born in poverty. And if we cannot profit off them, we will simply arrest them and put them in our concentration camps (err..private prisons) and get free slave labor for our corporations – which get tax benefits for all the good they provide.

The distinction between Biblical Jesus and Republican Jesus must have came around the 1960s during Jesus’ hippy days of believing that loving the poor and those in need was a good idea. Until he realized that big money, profits, and using violence was the way to heaven.

During his days of preaching, while leaving Jericho, two blind men approached Republican Jesus and shouted, “Lord have mercy on us!”

“What do you want me to do for you,” he asked.

“Lord,” they asked, “we want our sight.”

“What is thy insurance coverage plan?” asked Republican Jesus.

“Insurance?” they asked, “What is that?”

“You have no health insurance?” Republican Jesus laughed, “Well we cannot issue free health insurance to everyone or that would hurt the market. I cannot help you without coverage.”

“How do we get insurance Lord?” they asked.

“Well, you have a pre-existing condition,” Republican Jesus responded, “So you will not likely find any coverage. Perhaps you should get a job and earn some money like the rest of us.”

Republican Jesus and his disciples soon created a commercial fishing empire in which they held a monopoly over the industry. They came before a hungry crown with their trucks of fish and bread. As the people came up to him, he realized that if he were to feed them all it would only create dependency.

Later, Republican Jesus explained that when the Son of Man comes in his glory he will separate the people from one another as the shepherd separates the sheep from goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. He will look to those on his right and say:

“Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. You were hungry and thirsty, so I eliminated free meals and food banks. You were a stranger, so I vilified you and demanded that you were deported. You were naked, so I assumed you were an evil liberal who hates conservative values. You were sick, so I repealed your only hope for healthcare. You were in prison, so I tortured you.”

Biblical Jesus was a dangerous foreign-born socialist who had a way of speaking with the masses and cause social reform among the lower class. You know, the same thing that happened in places like Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Iran, Philippines, Congo, Cuba, etc. This is a huge threat to Republican Jesus and his love for corporations that profit off stealing resources from the poor. Republican Jesus loves money, war, and social inequality.

As John Fugelsang puts it:

“Jesus was a radical nonviolent revolutionary who hung out with lepers, hookers, and crooks. Wasn’t American and never spoke English; was anti-wealth, anti-death penalty, and anti-public prayer. But he was never ant-gay, never mentioned abortion or birth control, never called the poor lazy, never justified torture, never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, never asked a leper for a copay. He was a long-haired, brown-skinned, homeless, community-organizing, anti-slut shaming, Middle Eastern Jew.”

All Lives Matter

All Lives Matter! Right!?

Great! Because there are a large number of innocent Syrian men, women, and children that are currently hiding in a living hell in their homeland. They are facing persecution, daily terror, and never know which breath will be their last.

With all the resources available in our country, why don’t we open the doors and help these poor souls? Because All Lives Matter, right?

If you are not willing to open the doors, then it would be fair to say that all lives do not matter equally.

While we truly understand that “All Lives Matter”; we are deciding to focus on the ones that are being discriminated against and killed. The premise behind “Black Lives Matter” is that there is an implied “too” at the end. We are not saying white lives do not matter, but that has never been the subject of a human rights violation, genocide, of social injustice. It would be as if a firefighter showed up to a burning house, but decided to put water on the home next door because “All Homes Matter.”

These incidents in Paris have shown again that we seem to imply that only White Lives Matter. We have rushed in to send prayers, change our profile pictures, and share our support against Terrorism. Which is great! We should do so to fight the good fight.

But, where was this on the same day when 41 civilians were killed and another 200 injured on the same day in Beirut? Do Lebanese Lives matter? Or what about the 19 Iraqi citizens that were leaving a mosque when a bomb went off and ended their lives? I did not even see it mentioned in the news, which would indicate that their lives are not as important as those of the French people. A week before the Paris attacks, there was a car bomb and a shooting at a hotel in Somalia but no one blinked an eye. In October there was a bomb that claimed the lives of 224 civilians on a passenger jet, a suicide bomber blew up 22 Pakistani civilians, a bomb at a mosque in Nigeria killed 42 other innocent people, and there was a suicide bomber that killed 102 people in Turkey that were attending a peace rally.

You see, if these things did get media coverage, I do believe that there would be public response asking for action to take place. This is what ended the Vietnam War. We put cameras out there and the public saw the atrocities being carried out, including the iconic photo of the young girl running scared for her life after napalm had just been scattered on her village.

And the story continues after the Paris attacks. Within the last week, there was a bombing at a farmers market in Nigeria that killed 34 people. The next day, at a different town in Nigeria, a suicide attack took another 15 lives. The other day, a hostage taking and shooting at hotel in Mali took 27 more lives, then a suicide bombing outside a mosque in Iraq ended another nine lives and injuring forty-seven.

Without one report of any of these on any major network news, it would be fair to say that All Lives Do Not Matter.

This is why there are movements such as “Black Lives Matter” because clearly we do not see that this is happening every day and the only time we offer prayers and support is when white lives are at risk. Therefore, public relations campaigns need to be put in place to remind us that “Black Lives Matter” because clearly it is not very well understood.

Yet, somehow this gets turned into reverse racism by suggesting that white lives do not matter. It is the same as people crying for White History Month. Do you not see that you are the oppressor? It was only fifty years ago that African-Americans were demanding equal rights in a country in which you abducted their ancestors and enslaved them to build your country on stolen Native American land. Spend a day in the shoes of a minority, those being oppressed, a Syrian family, and then remind us how this is a racist movement and that we need to embrace that “White Lives Matter.”

What makes us so different? Because we were born here? You did nothing to become an American. You were born here, so why should you benefit from freedom as opposed to someone who happens to be born in an area in which they are fighting for their lives the day they are born?

If you are going to pray for France, maybe you should also be praying for Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Nigeria, Chad, Turkey, Pakistan, Kenya, Israel, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, Cameroon, Syria, Libya, Niger, Mali, Tunisia, Macedonia, India, Tunisia, Thailand, Philippines, Ukraine, China, Saudi Arabia, and Bangladesh as well.

Because if “All Lives” truly matter to you, start showing with actions rather than words.

War Profiteering:

I already know many responses – “See, if there are so many suicide bombers, we cannot trust any of them.” Or one of the most ignorant comments I have seen in quite some time, “If I gave you 10 skittles and you knew that two were poisonous and would kill you, would you take any of them?”

This skittles comment is insinuating that twenty percent of Muslims, or more specifically Syrian refugees, are going to be terrorists. This is media manipulation. In fact, the entire thing is media manipulation.

I do believe that most people are good people and that they want to live safely for themselves and in harmony with others. The media controls the minds of the masses. They show us the evil terrorists killed people in Paris and now we are jumping on board to support our French brothers and sisters. We have public support to drop bombs over Syria or “kill all the Muslims.”

Islam has more than 1.57 billion adherents, or 23-percent of the world’s population. CNN put together an article which lists all the Islamic terrorist organizations and estimates that 106,000 individuals are members of those organizations. Using this math, it would mean that 0.00006625 percent of Muslims are extremists – yet the Western Media would leave you to believe (and some conservative politicians) that number is closer to twenty percent.

But, what about our own domestic terrorism in the past ten years? Who is carrying out all the domestic acts of terror here? In October it was a white person killing 10 college students in Oregon; In June a white teenager killed nine African-Americans in a church; in 2012 there were attacks at a movie theatre and elementary school – both by white men in their early 20s; or the Oklahoma City Bombing and Waco, Texas incidents in the 1990s by older white men. Using the same logic, we could conclude that all white people are domestic terrorists.

But, who is the biggest winner off the bombings in France? The war-profiteers! Those who have investments in the arms manufacturers like Raytheon (3.93% increase since attacks), Lockheed Martin (4.24% increase), Northrop Grumman (3.9% increase), AVAV (4.49% increase), BAE Systems (4.52% increase) and Thales (7.75% increase), have already seen stocks rise since the Paris attacks.

The people with stock in these companies are the same members of Congress who decide if/when we go to war. The more the public says “We hate Muslims, let’s go to War, let’s kill them all.” Then the more these manufacturers make weapons and the elite profit.

Religion and Politics:

When I was younger, I was always told not to talk about religion and politics because it stirs up too many emotions and causes too much conflict. But, there is nothing in the world that causes more problems of separation than religion and politics. Every war is a result of one of these two and if we don’t talk about it, it will never end.

To label one person and good and the other as bad is ludicrous. Look at two infants or toddlers, they know nothing but love. Nobody is born evil, or with hate. They only are victims of misguided love and fear. As we grow, we give ourselves these labels of white/black/Asian/Mexican, or Jewish/Christian/Muslim/Buddhist. Then we go further and create these imaginary lines to further separate us and give ourselves a flag and call ourselves Americans / Egyptians / Germans / Russians / Chinese, etc.

After we create this separation, we attach to these labels and cling to them and soon believe that we are these labels. We fight, defend, die, and kill to protect these labels that are meaningless.

It gets so far away from the original message that we forget that the teachings of Christ, Mohammad, Abraham, Buddha, or Confucius are all the same. They require unconditional love for our fellow human and interconnection with all things.

Unconditional love means without condition. To say that “All Lives Matter” that is implying everyone, without condition. Yet, our fellow brothers and sisters from Syria are struggling and fighting for their lives and we decide that we are going to close our artificial border

soulretrevial33

“Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend, somewhere along in the bitterness; and I would have stayed up with you all night, had I known how to save a life.” 

By Cortland Pfeffer

In Shamanism, we believe that when we go through a trauma, we lose a part of our soul. It is believed we do this for protection. For instance, if you were about to crash in a plane, the last thing you want to remember is how that felt on impact. So that part of your soul is lost. Due to the trauma and the lost part of our soul, we lose part of our most true selves.  This can be retrieved in what is known as soul retrieval.

If you look at it scientifically, the part of our brain that shuts down during a trauma is the Hippocampus. This is the part of the brain involved in memory. It is our Brains way of protecting us from the entire recall of the trauma.

What is stress to one person may not be stressful to the next. We are all born with an innate temperament. Highly sensitive people are more prone to trauma.

We may not recall the trauma due to this shutdown, but our neurochemistry is changed. This leads to hyper vigilance, anxiety, and lasts for a lifetime.  It will lead to addiction of all kinds. Eating disorders, gambling, over consuming, drug abuse and more.

In western culture and medicine, we try to treat this with medicines that only make us numb. For instance Prozac’s main ingredient is fluoride. Fluoride makes you apathetic. Your problems do not go away, you just do not care about them.

In Shamanism, there is a practice called soul retrieval.  Instead of medicines, we retrieve the lost part of the soul. That is the most true way to heal from trauma. The following is an example of soul retrieval:

I wake up. It is blurry. I am in a room with machines going off. There is a curtain. It is blue. There are people talking. I can see them talking. I look over to my right. My mom is there. She’s crying. Not just crying but sobbing. There are a lot of people in blue. They are talking. None of them talk to me.

After a while I am up. Now I remember. I am supposed to be dead. Why am I here? Am I dead? Is this real?

I am alive. I had tried to kill myself the night before by taking every pill in the house; I spent the next day being forced to drink charcoal and throwing up for hours.

But why are all the doctors in my room in the middle of the night?

I learned later that what had happened was I had 3rd degree heart block in the night.

Third-degree heart block limits the heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. This type of heart block may cause fatigue (tiredness), dizziness, and fainting. Third-degree heart block requires prompt treatment because it can be fatal.

I was 17 years old. I was now remembering and I am angry that I am alive. I yell at my mother, because that is what I did. She loved and loved; she took on all of my anger and pain and I used her as an emotional punching bag. That was her life growing up and that is her life again. So I screamed at her, “Get out of here!!”

She cried more and she took it, as she always did. She always returned love.

I pass out again.

I wake up the next day. In walks this guy. He has blue on. He has brown hair, normal length with a beard. I am watching this guy thinking to myself, “Do not even say anything or I am going to punch you.”

“Hi, I am Tom. I will be the nurse working with you today.”

Ok that’s it, I am going to hit him. I do not say a word.

“Ok I will be here if you need anything. I have a menu here if you want to order food.”

I am not going to eat; I throw the menu away.

The food comes in daily and I do not eat. I think I am angry, but I know now that was not the case.

Day after day this guy says “Hi, how are you? Can I help with anything?” He does his work and I ignore him. My mom is by my side every day as I lash out at her. Tom doesn’t judge me for yelling at her. He does not say a word about it. He talks to my mom because she was an RN as well so she was asking him questions. I didn’t care. I wanted to punch them both was the thought in my mind.

I kept yelling at my mom, but my god I didn’t want her to leave that room. She never did leave. That was her way. A love that cannot be matched by anyone, anywhere, and it was given to me. I may have had hard times, but I had that. I had her. I had a love that everyone should experience as my core. It is what allows me to overcome everything. I would not trade it for anything.

It has been four days at this point. My mom has brought me a sweatshirt. My favorite team, The Minnesota Twins, sweatshirt. I loved baseball and I loved that sweatshirt. My mom knew this. I was going to ask her to bring it, but it was already there. Every time I looked, she was there. She was in tears, but she was there.

I wore the shirt. In comes this Tom guy. He won’t go away. I guess it is his job. But it’s others jobs, too. But they aren’t dumb enough to ask me how I am doing every day. My anger pushes them away as it is supposed to. This idiot Tom doesn’t seem to get it.

“Oh you like baseball? Me too. The Twins are my favorite team, too. Do you think they were better in 1991 or 1987?” (Those were the two years that they won the World Series). I was 11 and 15 when they won and they were moments I will always remember as a child.

I speak. I cannot let this go. “Yeah I like baseball. I think they were better in 1991.”

Tom starts talking to me about baseball, the ins and outs of the sport. I start to give one word answers that become two or three word answers. Then they become sentences.

Tom then says, “I know you haven’t been eating a lot and your mom says you’re a picky eater. Do you think I can make you a special order? I know they say you can’t have a burger yet, but I think I can make sure you get one if you’ll eat it.”

“Ok,” is what I say.

I eat the burger.

The next day. I am actually waiting for Tom to come. Some other lady walks in the room. I am thinking to myself, “where is that idiot who keeps talking to me? What the heck. This is stupid. Where is that corny dude?”

I ask my mom, “where is Tom?”

He has a day off.

“Whatever, he’s a moron anyways.” I say.

Tom is back after 2 days off. I won’t admit it, but I am excited to see him and I have been waiting for him to come back.

“Well you are starting to feel better it looks like we can take you off some of these machines.”

I am eating now and Tom helps me fill out the menu and helps me to understand what is happening.

The psychiatrist from the hospital comes down and I refuse to talk. Tom then walks in.

“I heard you didn’t talk to the doctor. It is really important so they know what to do to help you.”

I have learned to trust this moron. I think he has my best interest in mind. He is on my side. He got me a burger, he likes baseball, and he actually notices me and what I like. He takes time and has taken an interest in me. IN ME. He actually seems to care even though I think he is a corny moron. He is on my side. So I talk to the doctor.

Then I get the news that they want me to go to a psychiatric floor in the hospital. There is no way I am doing that. I am going to get up and leave. No No No No No.

Then Tom comes in and speaks to me. “I need to talk to you about this. You know, if you do not go willingly, they may force you to go and then you have no say in it; you could end up being here even longer that way. You said you hate it at home anyways. Think of it as a vacation. You get to go talk to people, to play games. They have a ping pong table and you said you like ping pong. ”

Tom knew I liked ping pong and no one else did because no one else had asked. No one else noticed my sweatshirt, talked baseball, or knew I liked hamburgers. No one else went against the hospital rules and got me a burger. No one else talked to me as a person. So, if he says it is ok, I believe him. I say, “Ok I will go.”

He says, “Great I will walk up there with you. But first I have a surprise.”

In walks Tony Oliva, a retired Twins all star, (who missed the hall of fame by 1 vote in 2014,) with a baseball bat from the world series. He talks baseball with me and Tom for an hour. He signs a bat and gives it to me.

Tom found him visiting someone else in the hospital and went out of his way and bothered him until he would come. Tom did this on his breaks and his off time.

I, being a 17 year old Twins fanatic, thought this was heaven. Baseball was my favorite sport. This was the best thing ever. I smiled. My mom said, “That is the first time I have seen him smile in months” as she sobbed. It is like in her soul, she knew at that point I was going to be ok.

I walked up with Tom to the adolescent psych ward. As I walked I had my bat in my hand. When I opened the doors, my new life was about to begin. It was not the end for me, but the beginning.

I had the idea right. I had to kill myself, but not literally. I needed to kill my false self. That is how you heal.

I walked through those doors. The doors opened and it was the beginning of a long, painful journey. It was the opening to the beginning. Tom was my shepherd . I was the lost sheep.

I never would have made it through those doors without Tom.

It all started with him being present and saying hi. Him noticing things, building a relationship, going out of his way, and not always following the rules. Being invested in me. He had a wife and kids and he had a life, but in that hospital, he made me a priority. For the time I was with him, in that room, at those moments I was the most important thing in the world. When he left, I am sure he moved on. But for the time he was with me, he was focused completely on me. He was not distracted or thinking of other things. He was present completely with me. Before that, he was just there. Saying Hi.

I heard people say Tony Oliva got me to go up there; that he saved my life. While that was great, and it made my day, truth is, I was going with Tom regardless. Tom is the one that saved my life. What happened in those doors is another story for another day.

You think that you save someone’s life like you see on TV or the movies like this:

Someone is on fire; burning in the building. The fireman rushes in to save him. The fireman has all his armor on and has been trained well. He is ready for this and pulls him out of the building.

But it does not really go like that. Sometimes people are burning and dying inside. We do nothing. We let them burn. We all do. We are too caught up in our own lives.

You do not save a life by running into a burning building. You save a life by saying hi.

May you all be someone’s Tom today.