Cloud of Witnesses

Cloud of Witnesses

There are spiritual beings all around us. Although we can’t see them, they are cheering us on the journey, weeping when we weep, laughing when we laugh. They can bring us great healing, and joy if we learn to communicate with them.

The writer of Hebrews in the Bible tells us of a great cloud of witnesses, surrounding us and cheering us on to the finish line (Hebrews 12:1). These are people who have crossed the veil before us: our relatives, beloved friends, faithful saints and leaders of all religious and spiritual traditions who know the joys at the end. There are also crowds of angels and other spirit beings who may never have journeyed on this physical plane, but they encourage and help to guide the spiritual seekers on earth.

I grew up in a tradition in which it was “evil” to set up altars honoring the deceased or to talk to the dead at all. Generally, this is taboo in this hyper-scientific American (white, Protestant Christian) culture, where spiritual encounters are explained by physics or neuroscience, and children are discouraged from believing in imaginary friends. But I am seeing signs of hope with an increase in paranormal movies and psychic documentaries, with increased public conversation about life beyond the grave, and with the blossoming interest in spirituality and answers beyond the simple black-and-white, heaven-and-hell teachings of the church.

Cultural conversations with the cloud of witnesses

Many cultures around the world, even some American cultures, do embrace the spiritual and peek into the veil separating the seen from the unseen. The Japanese set up beautiful altars to honor their deceased. Mexicans celebrate and converse with their ancestors during Dia De Los Muertos. American Indians talk to the spirits and use soul retrieval to help the deceased to cross over. African-Americans share ghost stories and folk mythologies full of truth. Mystic Catholics pray to saints for guidance. All of these methods are ways to communicate with, and receive love and encouragement from, the cloud of witnesses. Of course, I am greatly generalizing here, and every person has an individual view of spirituality, but I am also exploring the big cultural ideas.

What does it mean to be encouraged by the cloud of witnesses?

Encouragement: take courage, find strength on the journey.

Sometimes the evils, hatred, and greed in this world cause me to tremble in fear and lose my grasp on happiness. But I have learned to talk to the unseen beings surrounding me. They tell me jokes and stories, remind me of my mission and destiny on earth, and help me to remember my home full of love on the other side.

As an empath, when I hear a story of someone abused or the innocent jailed and caged, I feel intense emotion, even to the point of physical sickness. Because of this, I can get too wrapped up in earthly concerns of justice and pain. My cloud of witnesses whispers to me and remind me that karma will always be fulfilled, and I can only change myself, and hopefully help to lift up a few people in my small corner of the world. I really hope that my writing can make some small difference. Ultimately, I cannot save or change a world that does not want to be changed.

Instead, I can focus on the reward, the homecoming at the end of my journey. My spiritual friends tell stories of wild, trippy dimensions of ultimate bliss and fun. They describe giant feasts of food more delectable than the grandest dinner on earth. They tell me about houses made out of light, and one giant community made out of love. That is a dream worth living for!

Namaste, friends. In the future, I will talk more about heaven, the cloud of witnesses, and the spectacular spirit beings I have met. For today, look inside. Listen to the whispers of your loved ones who have passed on. Embrace their joy and embrace the journey of light and love.

The Bodhi Fig Tree Journey

The Bodhi Fig Tree Journey

Legend has it that the Buddha sat under a fig tree on the day that he attained enlightenment. Perhaps this is too broad a saying; I don’t think enlightenment can be fully attained in one earthly lifetime. I believe full enlightenment will take a human soul thousands or millions of years and journeys through multiple spiritual dimensions. At any rate, meditating under the fig tree was an important part of the Buddha’s spiritual journey. This particular tree, ficus religiosa, now bears the name “Bodhi tree,” Bodhi meaning enlightenment in Sanskrit.

500 years later, another of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders had an encounter with a fig tree. Yeshua cursed a fig tree on his journey to Jerusalem during the end days of his earthly ministry. Matthew 21 and Mark 11 both tell this story. In both accounts, Yeshua saw a fig tree that was not bearing fruit, and he cursed it. During the same journey, he went to the temple and overturned the money tables.

At least that is the way the story goes in church. I think it was more like this: Yeshua became very angry at the sale of sacrifices going on in the most holy of places. Yeshua could not stand to see the oppression of the poor and the merchants turning the sacred into a sale. Coins flew to the ground like a hail storm, and doves flew overhead, confused at their sudden freedom from smashed cages. Goats ran out of the temple and down the street, somehow intuitively aware that their lives had been spared. People screamed, and the money changers cowered and cursed under their breath. Someone ran to get a priest to come help.

At the same time, something magical happened. According to the gospel of Matthew, the blind and the lame came to the temple and Yeshua healed them. I am sure the religious leaders were very angry at the destruction of their property and the disturbance inside their kingdom. But, somehow, they did not lay hand on the great healer while the sick flocked around.

What does all of this have to do with the fig tree? I believe that Yeshua was making a prophetic sign when he cursed the tree. He was saying that Israel had turned from her spiritual roots and become a fruitless tree. She no longer had the fruits of compassion and spiritual wisdom, the two greatest qualities that the Buddha also taught as the path to enlightenment.

See the connection? There is much debate as to whether Yeshua knew Buddhism or studied in India or any of these other intellectual questions. No doubt Buddhist thought, as well as many other religious and philosophical thoughts, permeated the Judean atmosphere of the time. The writings of Paul as well as world history readily demonstrate this. But whatever physical connection existed, there was certainly a spiritual connection between the ideas of the two great teachers.

So, the Buddha sat under a fig tree, and learned deep spiritual truths on his journey to enlightenment. Later, Yeshua cursed the fig tree on his journey to justice, as a sign to the people to turn back to the spiritual truths, namely the truth of compassion toward the poor and oppressed. On this same journey, Yeshua made the ultimate sacrifice of his life for the sins of the people. Maybe that is partly why he was so upset to see sacrifices both cheapened and made inaccessible by the money system. Money, and the oppression it brings, cannot exist alongside the holy, and caused the fruit of Israel’s tree to die.

Interestingly, Yeshua later told another parable about a fig tree (Matthew 24:32-42). He told his disciples to watch the sign of the fig tree, that when the leaves come out we know that summer is near. In the same way, we should watch out for the coming of the Son of Man, the establishment of true justice, and the end of earth as we know it now. Yeshua preached over and over that the greatest use of a person’s life is to inwardly prepare for the kingdom of heaven. Similarly, the Buddha taught that we must journey inward to the state of nirvana, overcoming ego, desire, want, and pain on the way. Similar teachings, deep spiritual truths. Both framed by a lowly fig tree.

Welcome to the journey of the fig tree, my friends.

 Photo used freely, courtesy of adrahon on stock.xchng

Insomnia: A clouding of the crown chakra

Insomnia: A clouding of the crown chakra

I look forward to resting at night. I want to enter the dream world, to visit the place where I put my physical body to sleep, and to awaken back into the spirit realm from which I came and to which I will someday return.

I have vivid dreams in colors beyond the grasp of human words. I dream of myself in the future, with children around me, souls I will guide and teach and perhaps babies I will welcome into my family. I dream of myself in the past, meditating under iridescent trees, staring into lakes mirroring depths of never-ending wisdom. I dream of fighting epic, fantastical battles of good and evil, scaling walls and jumping over roaring fires to rescue people from demonic forces. I learn secrets and explore worlds that I struggle to hang onto when I awaken once more.

But sometimes I have trouble accessing this place. Maybe I am too connected in the physical world, worrying about too many things. Is my life going the way I imagined? Am I happy here? Will I be able to pay my bills? How can I make my world better when I constantly bump up against a societal matrix that clips my wings and cages my freedom-longing soul?

I struggle with insomnia and sleeplessness, as do many people in the United States. A quick Google search shows that pharmaceutical companies rake in $2.7 billion dollars per year in sales of drugs to treat insomnia. There are many, many websites offering helpful advice to fall asleep. Much of this is good advice: keep your sleeping quarters pitch-dark, as any light can affect your sleep, turn off electronics an hour before bed, keep a normal sleep time and routine, use warm baths to calm down. I follow these tips. My favorite routine is to practice mediative yoga and drink chamomile tea before bed to calm my mind and prepare myself for a restful state.

But I think that there is another dimension to insomnia, a spiritual dimension. I believe that insomnia has to do with the clouding of the crown chakra. Our crown chakra connects our physical body with the spiritual dimensions “above” us. Physically, the crown chakra is located immediately above the pineal gland, which (among other things) regulates the sleep cycle. Some people argue that the pineal gland involves the third eye chakra, and I believe there is some involvement with that as well. Both chakras are necessary to access the spirit realm. Our souls connect “up high” through the crown chakra, and we “see” the mystical realms with our third eye. We close our physical eyes in sleep and open our third eye.

For right now, though, I will focus on the crown chakra. If there is a clouding or a closing of this chakra, then it will be hard for the person’s soul to access the spirit realm. I think this affects sleep, which is a journey into the spirit.

I personally sometimes struggle with a clouding of my crown chakra as I battle worry and worldly concerns. One of my greatest heart concerns is social justice in my neighborhood, my country, and on the whole planet. I carry in my heart the stories of struggle and injustice of friends and strangers everywhere. When I dwell too much on this and lose my awareness of the perfect peace and justice of the high dimensions of the spirit realm, my crown chakra becomes cloudy. I believe that Yeshua struggled with the same thing, and he spent long hours in mediation to reconnect with YHWH and the Holy Spirit to refresh release all of the stories and human suffering he saw and carried in his spirit.

I have the most issue with insomnia on Sunday evenings, going into Monday morning and the new work week. I have a day job as a preschool teacher. I love the children with all their raw energy, enthusiasm for life, and developing imaginations, but the job itself has many frustrations and difficulties inherent in working for a corporation. I tend to worry about this on Sunday nights as I go to bed, and the worry closes off my crown chakra causing sleeplessness.

Furthermore, I believe the Sunday night experience is compounded by group-think. We are all connected spiritually, so we feel each other’s thoughts, concerns, and pains. On Sunday night, many people are worried or upset about the end of the weekend and returning to their jobs the next day. This lack of contentment in the face of the work week is a serious problem in modern society. We have traded spiritual truth and oneness for greed and competition to the point that everyone, no matter their personal outlook, is forced to play the game. I am sure that many people toss and turn in bed on Monday night, feeling the weight of society and losing spiritual connection through the crown chakra.

If you are struggling with sleeplessness, try to calm and quiet your mind before bed. Meditate on unblocking the crown chakra and establishing a strong connection to spirit. Meditation is a great tool to open all of the chakras and balance the physical and spiritual parts of your existence. Here is a meditation for restful sleep that I will be using right along with you.

Sit or lay in a comfortable position, preferably in a darkened, cool room.

Put your hands over your heart and feel the warmth and love emanate from your heart throughout your entire being.

Slowly close your eyes and focus your vision inward and upward. Place your hands gently over your eyes. Feel the healing energy soothing your eyes to rest. Feel the energy prepare your body for sleep.

Imagine your crown chakra opening up. Soak up the brilliant moonlight, as all the clouds gently float away. Your reception to spirit is wide-open and full of light.

Now imagine your third eye opening and gazing on the beauty and wisdom of the spiritual realm. A place of peace and understanding awaits as you gently drift away from the weight of the physical realm. Let go of your grasp on the physical world, all your worries and concerns about your life. Embrace peace and love.

Let go of the past with its cares and its mistakes that were your tutors and companions on the journey.

Let go of the present with its cares. Do not worry about provision. The sacred Father looks after the sparrow. The holy Mother nurses the universe at her bosom. You are a beloved child and you have all you need.

Let go of the future with its cares. The future will bring hope and understanding, one step, one day at a time.

Now slowly move your hands up and rest them on the top of your head. Allow the healing energy and love to fully open your crown chakra and release any lingering cloudiness or misconception.

Feel the deep sense of peace, like a vast, untouched ocean, asking in the last dusky rays of the closing day. Allow your mind to stay in this place of peace. If you begin to see visions of the spirit realm, allow them to unfold. Imagine the vivid colors, the wisdom, the peace, the love. Stay there and play for a while.

When you are ready, slowly bring your awareness back to the present. Feel the heaviness of your body, the slowing of your thoughts. Slowly, slowly open your eyes and prepare for bed in your personal routine. If you are doing this meditation while you are laying in bed, you can keep your eyes closed and allow the visions of the spirit realm to carry you away to the dream world.

Enjoy the meditation, and I hope it helps to bring you sleep and restful dreams.

Photo used courtesy of milan6 on stock.xchng

Fire Dance

Photo used freely, courtesy of ritvik on stock.xchng
Photo used freely, courtesy of ritvik on stock.xchng

I recently enjoyed a day at the Renaissance Festival. I had fun watching the performers and meeting people who are living out the fullness of their dreams and imaginations.

A fire dance show caught my attention and my imagination. A man and a woman danced on the stage, moving gracefully in sync, full of energy and power. The beads on the woman’s dress glimmered brightly in the light of the fire and the cloudy sun. Her long, dark hair fell down her curvaceous back in a cascading braid. She swung her flaming whip dangerously in time to the music, loud, cracking streaks of orange and yellow splitting the atmosphere.

Her partner kept perfect time with her, swaying and moving his body in a bold tango. His neatly trimmed beard and smooth green costume contrasted with the sharp edges of the fire on his whip. He cracked circle eights through the air, exciting the crowd by defying the familiarity of safety.

The whole dance radiated passion and raw sexual energy. Raw Reiki.

Spiritual life is like the fire dance, full of passion, excitement, and danger. The spirit realm radiates the energy of pure love, a bright and treacherous fire of holiness. We approach this flame on earth when we step out of our comfort zone and bravely love another, taking their pain and despair upon ourselves as if it is our own. We risk getting burned by the whip of the flame, but the trade-off is the passion inherent in compassion.

Just like the passion of the fire dance, we also approach the flame of the Holy Spirit when we climb the heights of sexual ecstasy. This is why the Bible warns against casual, commitment-less sex. When two people join together in the passionate fire dance of love, it is as dangerous as it is beautiful. When we deeply love another to the point of becoming two in one flesh, we transcend physical and spiritual barriers and touch the realm of the Divine.

The realm of the Divine, the realm of fiery love, is the perfect marriage of the masculine and feminine. Much is spoken of the divine masculine, but we too often forget the other side, the divine feminine. The Hebrews called her Ashera, and the Greeks Sophia, but either way she calls out her wisdom in the streets, wooing mystic seekers to follow her to the tree of life. Some understand the divine feminine as the second person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) in the Orthodox tradition. She is the completion of the perfect union and perfect love.

Reiki energy is her medicine, Holy Spirit medicine. It is a pure fire that burns away our pains and earthly woundings in the love of the Divine. Pure sexual passion and ecstasy are also forms of Reiki.

Love deeply, friends, pursue the mysteries of the Spirit, and participate boldly in the fire dance and the healing journey.

Choose Life that You May Live

healing tree of life
Photo used freely, courtesy of Krappweis on stock.xchng

The beginning of healing is realizing that I am one with all. All other people. All the universe. I can never be truly well if the weakest around me is suffering. Every pain of the other is my own.

The Tree mourns every leaf that falls. So many have foolishly amputated themselves from the Tree of Life. They trade in their spiritual destinies for some temporal glitter. They can no longer drink of the deep roots buried in the River of Life. They prance and flaunt their idols, so self-assured in their minuscule “accomplishments” while they are dying of spiritual dehydration. This is the source of so much dis-ease in our world. This sickness is an epidemic in Western society, which prides itself on “science” and “knowledge.”

Every time I judge another because I misunderstand their point of view, I sever part of myself from the Tree. Every time I bash someone, or shrink away from them because they look different from me, I weaken my connection to Life. Every time I use a personal place of power to harm another, whether that power is bestowed on me by my job, or my training, or the color of my skin, or the amount in my pocket book, I spit on the Tree which sustains me.

I hold all these pains of the world in my body. The Good Samaritan understood this principle, so he could never pass by another in need. How much good it would do us to learn the same. Instead of competing and biting others on my way to the top, and dancing on the misfortune of another, I am wise to learn the way of peace and celebration. Celebrate another as a part of myself and recognize the gifts that each one brings to my world. Each created being is a wonderful handiwork, a leaf, a myriad of patterned colors.

If I continually choose the way of selfishness and pride, I will lose all my connection to the tree and I will become but a brown death covered by the equalizer of white snow. Purity to wash away the pain of my memory. Leaves die and fall at will, but the tree goes on. The Source mourns the loss of life, but this loss is self-made and self-chosen. The weak, the meek, the humble-hearted, will go on to weave a rich tapestry from the loss.

Choose life that you may live.

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