On this Memorial Day, it is rainy and cloudy and windy outside my home. Most likely snowing at the higher elevations. My cat is vacillating between climbing on me, purring and snuggling, and looking for trouble. He is still very kitten-ish, but beginning to show signs of adulthood with increasing times of purr-in-the-lap snuggles. I am preparing for two upcoming talks and a workshop. And basking in the glow of a great time of fellowship last night. I am now hosting a once a month pot luck in our new home, a practice I used to do when I lived at Tahoe, and last night about 15-20 people showed up with all sorts of wonderful things to eat. And we talked. We indulged in that ancient practice of breaking bread together. There is something magic that happens when we do that. Some sort of bonding, a creation of good relationship. We have only one thing in common, and many things not in common. Yet we break bread together and get along just fine. And I had a chance to practice something new in an interaction with someone. Seems we were having a disagreement about one of the traditions that centers around singleness of purpose. I saw a blatant break of the tradition, and I wasn’t sure what he saw, but it was wrong. I paused, because I was agitated. I asked for a meeting in which we could discuss it and have a group conscious. I think that may have surprised him. And then I retreated and took some time to reflect on my my values. I took my own inventory, not his. Instead of digging in my heels, claiming my rightness and judging the wrongness of the other person, I took some time to practice what I’ve been preaching for almost two years now. I’ve been preaching that we need a new way to communicate, a way that does not claim a side but instead seeks to find the common ground. A way that does not blame but instead seeks to find a solution to a problem. A way that does not make one of us wrong and one of us right, but instead seeks to find a compassionate way of viewing why the other person might have said or done what they did. I purposely sought all that. I fought through the layers of self righteousness and ego seeking rightness and superiority and anger that makes me feel powerful, but only for a little while before it turns into sickness. And I went deeper, into compassion and a common ground. And discovered that common ground. Turns out the other person wants the same thing I do: inclusion. No exclusion. And together we found a way to implement it without violating the 5th tradition. And this brings me to the explanation of my meme, because you know I just can’t post a meme without an explanation, right? One of my upcoming talks is about a deeper sort of prayer, the sort that gets things done. The powerful sort of prayer that all the great sages of the world used to heal, change conditions, and make life bearable. This goes way beyond a beseeching to an outside entity. This is the kind that changes our own minds. This is the kind of prayer that does indeed have the power to move mountains. This is the kind of prayer that has the power to eliminate all the sad, dismaying, hateful, judgmental shit that is going on in this world, and to replace it with love, compassion and hope. And it begins with each of us. It begins when we approach prayer with openmindedness and willingness to have our own minds be changed. To move from our own judgement and rightness and anger and into a way of being that embodies compassionate acceptance, a seeking of common ground and a releasing of that anger. I dream of living in a world that works for everyone. I happen to think it is possible. But only if we change our ways. And it begins inside each and every one of us, with a way of living that embodies a prayer that we be open and compassionate. Become what you wish to see and experience, and you will have learned the secret of powerful prayer.
Let’s talk about the phrase “let go and let God,” shall we?
Way back when I first entered recovery, this phrase never made sense to me. Let go of what? And let God do what? And what, exactly, does God do and not do? By then I had learned that God only does for me what I cannot do for myself, and back then, the only thing God did for me was get me sober, because I was incapable. I wasn’t even willing in the beginning. Today I know that God doesn’t really do things. We do them. What God does is provide the power and willingness and impetus to do things.
Now, before you get all activated and accuse me of hating God, stick with me here. There is a valuable lesson here for us, one that, when I figured it out, has allowed me to experience this promise, which is located in the textbook of AA, in the chapter which tells us that we have a solution to our dilemma. By the way, it doesn’t tell us how to achieve that solution, it is just telling us that there is one. Here is the promise:
“We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.”
Right after that is where it tells us what God does for us: “The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.”
God has entered into our hearts.
We don’t let go and let God. We allow God into our hearts. Then we are no longer alone. We have the power, strength and wisdom of God in our very hearts. With that, we can accomplish anything. It’s a partnership.
In New Thought, we have a great gift in the writings of Ernest Holmes. Because he maintained that we are One with God, in all ways, all the time, and he reiterated that over and over again in his writings. In his book How to Use Your Power, he says this, “The idea that you are one with the mind of God is not an extravagant idea at all. It is a simple statement of a self-evident fact. The intelligence that creates and governs everything is the mind you are using now, just as you breathe a part of a universal breath that everyone uses.”
So “let go and let God” is really more about letting go of thoughts and actions which do not serve us, and connecting with and communing with that inner God, so as to allow the wisdom and power of that Force to infuse us with love and the ability to make awesome decisions and perform good works in the world.
And we have an awesome formula for doing so. In New Thought, it is called spiritual practices. In the 12 step world, it is called steps 10 and 11. I’ve compiled a list (to be included in an upcoming book) of 13 spiritual practices but for this conversation I’m focusing on these: introspection and communion.
Introspection is not only about knowing thyself. It is also about knowing the God within each and every one of us. It is about FEELING the God within each and every one of us. And if we can’t feel that Force within us, then it is our responsibility to discover our own self installed blockages, remove them, and replace them with something better. This is what introspection does for us. When we fully and completely know ourselves and the God within, then we can properly commune with God.
By the way, this is what mature emotional recovery looks like. Living in steps 10 and 11 gets us there. I believe it is impossible to fully experience the gifts of mature recovery if we are living in steps 1, 2 and 3. Those are for beginners. They are spirituality 101. They introduce us to the idea of having a God in our life. Steps 10 and 11, deepen and nurture that idea so that it moves from idea to reality.
Do not short change yourself by doing steps 1, 2 and 3 every day. You are worth more than that. Do some version of steps 10 and 11, every day. And before you protest that this seems like a lot of work, I can tell you that it isn’t. It is, instead, a very rewarding way to live. Take 15 minutes every day. That’s it. Once in a while you can go deeper. It’s like showering. We shower every day. Once in while we might take a longer shower, or a bath. Or even go to a hot springs. Here’s another analogy. Most of us do the dishes every day. Once in while we might scour the sink. Sometimes we might also mop the kitchen floor. So, we have a daily practice which gets the job done in most situations. When a situation calls for it, we go deeper. And with God within you, you will know when it is time to go deeper.
Instead of saying “let go and let God,” I prefer “release and allow.” Release that which does not serve, and allow the power and wisdom of Love to infuse your entire being.
Today, I release limiting thoughts and actions, and replace them with the Love of a Spirit which lives and moves and breathes through me and as me.