The Importance of Openness: A Paradigm for Learning

About a week ago, I had the pleasure of catching up with an old friend, in fact one of the very few friends I have who is interested in personal growth, so you can imagine we get along pretty darn well.

Our conversation ranged the gambit, and one of the most interesting things we talked about that continues to prove increasingly relevant in my life is a paradigm for learning.

He shared with me that there are four stages of learning.  Here they are listed ranging from the least knowledgeable to most knowledgeable:

1. Unconscious incompetence: This is the stage where you don’t know that you don’t know.  Just like a baby isn’t aware of notions of galaxies, the baby doesn’t know how many galaxies are in the universe nor do they know that they don’t know this.  You and I, at the very least, know that there are many galaxies in the universe, we just might not know how many.  Knowing that we don’t know moves us to the next, and perhaps most important, stage of learning

2. ***Conscious incompetence***:  This stage totally rocks!  Here, we know that we don’t know.  We are aware of multiple galaxies in the universe and we know that we don’t know exactly how many there are.  Embracing conscious incompetence, I believe, is absolutely fundamental to living a joyous life.  When we embrace our ignorance, as Socrates did when he humbly proclaimed, “The only thing I know is that I know nothing!” we open ourselves up to the infinite range of possibilities.  We humble ourselves, our intelligence, and suddenly our eyes begin to marvel at the flourishing life all around us.  We begin to ask questions like, “Who am I?  How did I get here? Why am I here?  Where is Here?”  We also may ask how many galaxies are in the universe, and then proceed to curiously engage our environment and embark on the journey of discovering an answer.  Granted, even over the course of a whole lifetime of exploration, we might never satisfactorily answer the question, “Who am I?” but nonetheless, it’s great to ask every single day.

Embracing our ignorance, consciously, is one of the healthiest and best choices we can ever make.  By consciously accepting our ignorance, we allow ourselves to grow and learn from our environment.  We humble ourselves and experience a whole lot of wonder in Creation.  From the perspective of conscious incompetence, we might also find ourselves laughing a lot more, enjoying the mystery of Life that dances so abundantly everywhere we look.

During the Street Retreat with my brother, we thoroughly embraced our conscious incompetence and spent hours appreciating the smallest of details.   From a single leaf, to a ladybug, to a raindrop – we constantly found ourselves in states of reverence and wonder.  This world becomes a playground when we open up to our own ignorance.  This Present Moment is filled with wonder, opportunity, and abundance, if only we open to it.  Seriously…the moment is amazing!   What brings you Here & Now…reading these words…? The answer?  Only everything that has ever happened in the entire history of Creation!  Or maybe that’s wrong, but at least it’s fun to think about.

3. Conscious competence:  When we achieve conscious incompetence, we can readily access information that allows us to answer questions.  If someone asked you how many galaxies are in the universe, you can say, “Somewhere between 0 and nine nonillion,” or whatever the number is.  You might not be so mastered with you knowledge of astronomy that you sporadically offer such fun facts, but at least you can draw up the knowledge within you when prompted with a question.  We can achieve conscious competence in a whole variety of subjects.  However, once again, here a few questions that many, if not all of us, will not satisfactorily answer throughout the course of our entire lives – hence, they are always good questions to ask

  1. Who am I?
  1. How did I get Here?
  1. Why am I Here?
  1. Where is Here?
  1. What is my purpose on this planet?

Existential questions are always worth considering and help open our minds to our conscious incompetence so that we may more fully embrace the wonder of Here & Now.

4. Unconscious competence:  This is the level of mastery that we can all achieve in a particular field if we have the courage to commit ourselves fully to it.  When you follow your passion, it’s much easier to muster this courage.  I’m imaging myself achieving unconscious competence about the history, origins, and creation of paperclips, and I’m quickly discovering that paperclips are not a passion of mine.  As far as paperclips go, I’ll choose the conscious incompetence and wonder at them instead 😉

However!  As for conscious evolution, Oneness, and Spirituality, I’m all for a hefty investment of my most valuable resource – time.  Even if we are just guessing at transcendent truths, I’ll joyfully explore in hopes that experience will mother some wisdom in me and in All.

As human beings, I think one of the best things we can all do is not only consider the eternal questions like, “Who am I?” but also questions like, “What do I most love to do?” and “What would I be willing to learn and teach about for the rest of my life?”  Imagine the possibilities if we all achieved unconscious competence in some field that vastly increases the quality of our own lives and the quality of all those we share our mastery with.  Suddenly the world is filled with gurus.

As individuals, we may never know everything, but collectively, collaborating together – possibilities are infinite!

Meanwhile, if you have yet to discover your passion, spend time to searching for it.  Get to know yourself!  Answering the question, “Who am I?” will certainly help you along your way.  Also, on your search for what you really love most to do, embrace your conscious incompetence.  Open up to the world.  Soak it in.  Curiously engage.  Let yourself be fascinated by Life.  This is Life!  How did you get Here?  You are free to celebrate this moment in all its mystery and wonder.  You are free to enjoy all that you know and all that you don’t know.

Whatever you do, smile.  Even be consciously incompetent about why you’re smiling, but know that you are, and that’s it good.  Science even says so.  Now you can embark on the journey of discovering why smiling is such a good choice to make.

Open, open, open, – completely open!

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Pret a Manger Part Two: Selfish Intentions Don’t Get You Very Far

Brother and I reaped a bountiful harvest from Pret a Manger simply by expressing genuine gratitude for their generosity in distributing leftover foods to food banks and sharing with us tasty salads.  We sought nothing but to give our thanks to them.  Sure enough, when all we did was say, “Thank you so much,” they gave us even more!

One day during the Street Retreat, I found myself alone.  Brother must have been digging for cookies in Mrs. Field’s garbage or trying to pick up homeless chicks.  Who knows.  Anyway, like Brother, I too had a particular craving for some delicious cookies, and sure enough I stumbled across another Pret a Manger that I knew possessed an abundance of cookies that become trash at closing time.

I remembered the first time we harvested the cookies from Pret and how it began with us saying, “Thank you.”  What I didn’t realize at the time was that we only succeeded in receiving so many cookies because that was not our intention.  Our intention was to simply express gratitude, and then as a bonus from the universe we received enough cookies to rumble in our tummies for days.

Meanwhile, on this second adventure to Pret, I intended to harvest the leftover cookies, and as a means to an end, I knew expressing gratitude was important.   I thought to myself, “Okay – what worked last time?  First we expressed gratitude, and said how much we enjoyed the healthy food.  Then, voila, they offered us two bags full of cookies.  If I just follow the same pattern, the same results should occur.”

What I failed to realize at the time was the difference of intentions between the two visits to Pret.  On the first visit, the intention was pure – simply to express genuine gratitude with no thoughts of reaping a return.  On the second visit, I solely thought of acquiring cookies for myself, and whatever giving I was doing simply served as a means to an end.

So, what do you think happened this second time around?

Well, I walked in – mind on the cookies.  Already, it felt wrong.  Bad vibes!  Nevertheless, I walked up to the counter and told the lady working how grateful I was to her and Pret for donating their leftovers to the homeless.  She said, “You’re welcome.”

I stood there, still thinking about the cookies, and mentioned that last time someone gave us the leftover cookies that they otherwise throw out.  She responded with something like, “Oh, well I’d have to talk to the manager about that, and he’s not around right now.”  She went on, “And usually we don’t do anything like that.”  I stood there awkwardly for a minute or two, attempting to make small talk and employing some reasoning like, “Well, you throw them out anyway, so do you think I can come back and close and grab them from you?”  Of course, in my proposition, I provided absolutely no benefit to her, and she was not interested.  Eventually, I conceded, said thank you once more, and walked out.

I remember holding some hostile feelings towards the lady for a few minutes after I walked out, thinking it ridiculous of her to not willingly give what would otherwise be trash to someone like me.  Then again, perhaps it is betters that cookies become trash rather than someone eats those sugary carb bombs after all.   She was probably just looking out for me!  Or at the very least, she did not dig my selfish vibe.

Lesson Learned

Fast forward five months.  Listening to some words of wisdom from Bob Proctor, he mentions the idea of a double binding message, which is essentially when you say one thing but mean another.  Reflecting on the Pret experience, I realized that I sent out a double binding message when communicating with the girl at the counter.  I said, “Thank you,” but what I really meant was, “Can I have some more?”  Not only did this discrepancy between my words and my thoughts cause me to feel a bit like a corkscrew, but she likely picked up on the lack of congruence between my words and meaning as well.  It might actually have been a whole lot more effective if I simply asked for the cookies instead of insincerely expressing gratitude with an ulterior motive.

To be clear, as I was not with the Pret lady ;-), the intention for these words are most definitely to inform you about the dangers of double binding messages and the importance that you say what you mean!  Even if we think we can hide our intentions with flowery language or rhetoric, ultimately there is much more to our communication than simply the words we speak.  When you speak with a selfish intention, seeking to gain something from another, know that however much you sugarcoat your language, your true intentions will be revealed.  That is why it’s best to think, act, and speak with the intention to serve the Highest Good of All.  Going beyond our small sense of self and opening up to the Good of All is a powerful way for us to become more genuine, more generous, and more understood.  Furthermore, when you support the All of Humanity, Humanity supports you too!

As simple as it might sound – mean what you say and say what you mean.  If you try and do it any other way, you might miss out on the free cookies 🙂

Pret A Manger Take One: Give just to Give. Thank you for Being.

Throughout the week of homelessness in New York City, Brother and I found ourselves expressing all kinds of gratitude for both the physical and spiritual riches that seemed to shower down upon us.

Each time we received food, whether it be from a shelter or a restaurant or from strangers, we spent a minute or two expressing gratitude and thanking everyone and everything for the feast before us.  In particular, much of the food we ate came from the restaurant Pret A Manger, a restaurant that holds itself to a high standard of freshness and donates whatever leftovers it has at the end of the day to CityHarvest to distribute to food banks and homeless shelters.

After eating delicious leftover salads from Pret for a couple days, feeling invigorated from the abundance of leafy green goodness flowing through our bodies, Brother and I walked across a Pret restaurant and felt compelled to stop and thank them for their generosity.  I’ll admit – this was one of my brother’s awesome ideas.

We set our garbage bag filled with homeless miscellany around the corner and walked into the store, sporting our beautiful beards.  Up to the counter we walked.  I recall my brother saying something like, “Hi.  We just wanted to express our gratitude for you all sharing your food with the homeless around the city.  The last couple days have enjoyed your salads and they’ve brought us a tremendous sense of health and wellbeing.  Thank you so much for your generosity.”

As my brother spoke these words, the person working at the counter filled up with all kinds of joy and shined his bright smile back at us in a very loving and humble way.  He returned my brother’s kind words with some of his own.  “Well hey, we are grateful that we were able to help you all and that you enjoyed the food.”

Then came the completely unexpected surprise, the real cherry on top, as he continued…

“In fact, we have a lot of food here that we don’t even donate and we just throw out instead.  Like all these cookies, croissants, and muffins will be thrown out at close.  So if you all want to, you can come back in 30 minutes and I’ll bag these up for you and you can have them.”

Brother and I were just about blown away at this man’s offer.  Not that he was offering superfoods or vital nourishment, but seriously — free cookies?!?

We graciously accepted his offer and proceeded to meditate on the sidewalk until closing time, enjoying the moment.

As the hour approached, Brother offered to retrieve the abundance we’d been offered.  He returned in 5 minutes with two white plastic Pret bags almost flooding over with cookies.  Fresh, warm, cookies.

And how did we get these cookies?  How did us two homeless chaps commandeer an abundance of some of the most delectable treats in all the world? For free?!?

The intention to genuinely give – a pure intention.  We walked into Pret just to express gratitude and give thanks.  Nothing more was on our mind.  We were simply being in the moment, and felt like giving thanks for the food they shared with us would be a good thing to do.  We trusted our instinct to do good, to give, and sure enough we reaped an abundant harvest.  We did not ask for anything in return.  Rather, we gave freely, and we graciously received.

When we let go of our selfish desires, and instead oriented ourselves to serving the Greater Good, to giving of ourselves just for the sake of giving, possibly making someone’s day, Brother and I found ourselves receiving much more than we ever expected.

We all have the power to be grateful and give thanks to people for no reason at all.  As my sister’s birthday card said to me, “Thank you for being.”  Being is enough!  Just for being – that’s a reason to express thanks to someone.  And as you freely give thanks and appreciation to people around you, you’ll also receive so much more.  One of the beautiful ways the universe operates, so far as my experience has allowed me to understand, is that the universe supports that which supports it.  Life supports life.

Even if you give thanks to someone and they don’t hand you a bag full of cookies, you can rest assured that your expression of genuine giving will return something wonderful.  The more we give, the more we receive.

30 Day Raw Food Challenge Completed: Huggin’ Trees and Feelin’ GREAT!

Today is a very special day, primarily because I’m breathing.  And, if you’re reading this, you’re probably breathing too.  Hallelujah!

Shortly after I began the 30 Day Mindful Eating Challenge on January 1st, I decided that I’d heard enough about the benefits of only eating raw food to test it out for a month.  I started the Raw Food adventure on January 7th, and what a great adventure it was.  Especially after reading that Steve Pavlina considered it the hardest 30 day challenge he’s ever accomplished, excitement pulsed through my veins as I looked forward to a rewarding experience.

Thankfully, about 2 weeks into the challenge, I unsheathed a juicer from its cardboard home and put it to great work. (For a recollection of that glorious day of discovery, click here.) My mom and I hopped upon the juice bandwagon and most thoroughly reaped the harvest of the fruits and vegetables of the earth.  The first juice we tried, which remains the fan favorite, is known as Elaine’s Vegetable Garden, a recipe courtesy of the legendary Jack LaLanne, consisting of: 1 tomato, 1 carrot, 1 sweet potato, 1 red pepper, and 2 stalks celery.  Delicious, and, much more importantly – nutritious!  One of LaLanne’s famous mottos, “If it tastes good, don’t eat it,” most definitely does not apply to this delectable taste bud tickler.

Over the raw food journey, I also discovered the deliciousness of beet juice, ginger, and all things carrot.  Garlic is also apparently super healthy, but the morning’s of juicing garlic…well those days were eh…

What Yummy Foods I ate…

Staples included an avocado, usually 3 bananas, and a bowl of sprouted lentils per day.  Also supported the cayenne pepper, sage, basil, and rosemary industries.  Apple Cider Vinegar made a surprise appearance the last two days, just to give it a go, and still up in the air about my preference for it. The tree nuts of Professor Walnut, Master Almond, and Dr. Pecan kept me sane (or did they?). Also stirred up many kale / avocado smoothies, with optional additions of banana, honey, celery, or spinach.  My mom enjoys throwing a kiwi into those green smoothies too, but kiwis are not my jam.

Results and Enjoyability…

1.  Still Breathing.  This is key.  Eating only raw foods will not kill you, and you also won’t die if you don’t get 100 grams of protein a day.  

2.  Feeling calm, clear, and connected.  Transitioning to raw food the first couple weeks posed some difficulties for the mind and the tummy, but I feel all the better for it.  About 3 weeks into the 30 Day Challenge, I started to feel much more energized, alert, and began to more fully appreciate Life and this wonderful opportunity we’ve been given.  One night I walked around the neighbor and hugged an abundance of trees, probably 9 or 10, expressing my gratitude for the trees and bowing to them, as they are like lungs to me (an idea shared with me by Thich Nhat Hanh).  “Reverence for Life” and the wisdom of Albert Schweitzer certainly grew in my consciousness, and I felt much more united with everything I experienced.

I began the raw food challenge in the midst of a mindful eating challenge, and the two worked very well together. I attribute the insight I received to both.  The mindful aspect of the eating helped me to see into the origins of the food.  I opened up my storytelling sense to see the incredible journey of the food from being planted in the ground to arriving in front of me.  I also began seeing beauty in ordinary objects.  One day I spent around 15 minutes admiring a lamp that’s been in my life for all 22 years, but I never before spent the time to experience its essence.  It’s amazing to see beyond the objective, physical sense of reality and open up to the history of all we are experiencing, stemming back all the way to the Creation itself.  As I discovered and am continuing to understand more fully, Creation never stopped Big Banging.  We are Big Banging right now, only now we are conscious of it and can exercise our free will to Big Bang our way to a more peaceful and compassionate world. 🙂

3.  “The only thing I know is that I know nothing.”  Socrates said that.  And everyone seemed to think he knew something.  So what’s the deal?

Taking myself on mindful journeys of the history of my food and of objects in the world, I grew more and more aware of my own ignorance and how much I didn’t know.  Each time I connected one piece of the puzzle, suddenly eight other unknown pathways opened up, and the experience becomes all the more miraculous.  It’s like discovering that colors carry with them symbolic meaning, and that people often associate the color red with love.  Well, great, so now you know what red might be associated with, but suddenly you’re left in ignorance of what all the colors might signify.  The more we know, the more we realize how much we don’t know.  As much as I felt I learned a lot during this challenge, I also grew a lot in awareness of my own ignorance, which opened me more up to humility, and so now I have even a greater desire to continue to explore – Hooray!

4.  Within the past week, I discovered the RawBrahs, who are some of the funniest jokers around.  I was looking into raw food videos on YouTube, and sure enough these three guys  made a video of them eating 10 bananas in 9 minutes.  As it turns out, they go far beyond stuffing bananas in their face, but actually share an inspiring philosophy.

In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, he talks about how valuable it is to remember the Angel of Death, and how at any time that angel might come to pay us a visit.  In this way, it makes sense to cherish this moment for all it has to offer, because who knows when we might transition to the next stage of existence.

Of course, I forget Ruiz’s wisdom, we are such forgetful creatures!, but so graciously the RawBrahs reminded me of this wonderful idea.  They made a video discussing who inspires them most, and they talk about living in the context of death, just one heart beat away.  As morbid as that might sound initially, it’s actually an incredibly empowering way to live, and it allows us to laugh off of our fears and embrace this world for all it has to offer.  It also heightens our appreciation of all we’ve been given.  Thinking about death has connected me more fully with life, and reminds me of the wonderful opportunity life continuously offers me to grow, to love, and to serve.  For this reminder, I am grateful!

5.  Bearing in mind death, the increased clarity, energy, and connection I’ve experienced during the Mindfully Raw Challenge, I see little to no reason to go backed to cooked food, and I almost see it as a moral obligation to continue it, or at least continue to explore other ways of eating that might provide me with even greater energy, tapping more fully into my potential to serve the Greater Good.  Of course, the whole raw food thing could be very difficult if I return to my ways of “No Money, No Problems.”  Guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there!

Until then, definitely encourage anyone and everyone to embark on any 30 Day Challenge that peaks your curiosity.  You can choose any new habit you might want to try for 30 days, and make it a rule to endure through any adversity you face for the 30 days.  Or, if you want, I’ll hold you accountable 😉  Pay me $1000 if you break your rule!  Then again, just do it yourself.  You’ll grow in self-knowledge, self-discipline, and self-esteem as you stretch beyond your comfort zone and begin to more fully realize your incredible potential for growing, enjoying, and loving.

A Final Word…

I believe that the greatest energy we receive comes not from food, but from faith.  Our beliefs have much greater potential to energize us than any amount of beets, broccoli, and other raw delicious treats.  This isn’t to say food is not important, but ultimately it is a belief and connection with something greater than your small physical self that will uplift you to a place of great Freedom, Power, and Peace. 🙂

p.s. Hallelujah!

An Abundance of Reason before every Experience: Seek and You Shall Find

America really is the land of abundance, isn’t it?  And really, no matter which country you live in, you’ve already been blessed with an abundance of gifts, bestowed upon you freely, at birth.  The gifts that accompany life itself are so vast and abundant that it’s difficult to count them all. Really, I don’t think any of us could name all of them.  Neither can I name the miracles nor can I explain much of my experience of Life, but I enjoy it anyway. To elaborate, I don’t consciously know how to control every muscle in the body.  I don’t know how blood is flowing through these veins, how the heart is beating so fast, or where exactly organs are located.  I also couldn’t currently explain to you the amazing process of sound coming from the voicebox, or how thoughts communicate to fingers so that I can type these words.  How I can see this screen is another mystery.  Perhaps an even greater mystery is how sometimes I am highly conscious of my heart and a feeling a warm energy in that area.  It’s also a mystery what my next thought will be, or how I came to be typing these words at exactly this time, this moment, and equally how you came to be reading them.

Chaos theory, as explained in a great book Power vs. Force (thank you JP!),  suggests that ultimately, none of what we experience is random.  Perceived from the cosmic point of view, everything makes perfect sense.  As much as this life might consciously be a mystery to us, we can find assurance knowing that there is Reason at play.  And, I say at play because sometimes this Reason creates some very funny scenarios.  Really, most everything happening to us can be perceived as hysterical given the right perspective, hence Dante’s title for his book, The Divine Comedy.  Other’s might refer to this phenomenon as the Cosmic Joke, and you can tune into this humor greater than all humors if you open up and allow it to flow.  It’s a matter of believing and seeing.

There is an Intelligence greater than that found in the three pound organ in-between your ears.  Whatever you call this Intelligence that brings you Here & Now is entirely up to you.  Perhaps most importantly, know that it is there, and you can ally yourself with it by moving in the direction that your best reason would take you.  After all, you are a microcosm of the Intelligence 🙂

Also, if you’d like to experience a bit of the Divine Comedy unfolding before you now, take some time to laugh.  You don’t need to yet have a ‘reason’ to laugh other than that you consciously choose to laugh, but after a few minutes you may very soon begin to see all the Reasons you had all along to let that laughter resonate through you out into this Beautiful Experience.

Finally – acronym for the day: “J.E.D.I.”  We are all Joyous Everlasting Divine Individuals,  courtesy of Matthew Armstrong.

Super Bowl Awareness: What are you actually Supporting?

As mentioned in the previous article, a priest mentioned in his sermon on Sunday that watching the Super Bowl is supporting violence.  Pretty radical idea, eh?

Not too often do we think about the consequences of many of our decisions in life.  It’s pretty easy for us to project our responsibility onto other people or institutions, blaming them for all of our problems and for any violence in society.  For example, in watching the Super Bowl, it’s easy to think that you as an individual watching it doesn’t change whether or not the human-smashing-human brutality of the Super Bowl still occurs or not, so why not watch?  Your choice of watching the Super Bowl isn’t actually promoting violence, is it?

Perhaps the Super Bowl would still occur if you didn’t watch it.  But, there is more violence created in society than just that which occurs on the field.  If you account for the violence that you also allow into your awareness and your consciousness, and the possible effects that has on all of your future thoughts, feelings, and actions, you might realize how dangerous watching the Super Bowl can really be to your personal health and wellbeing.

It is not easy  to see violence and aggression and materialism and consumerism and prevent those thoughts into our heads.  Just like if I told you to not think about a white rabbit, you’d still probably think about it a lot.  So the problem created by a decision like watching the Super Bowl goes far beyond the objective violence on the field, but it ventures into the subjective experience of your consciousness.  By letting that violence into your awareness, you’re increasing the chances that the violence you consumed manifests itself outwardly in your own actions.  This goes for all materialism promoted during the commercials too.  By watching the advertisements, you might find yourself wanting all sorts of things you ‘didn’t know’ you wanted, and having all these new desires that make you feel like you have less than you really do.

By taking responsibility for the thoughts you allow into you awareness, you give yourself permission to consciously control what you allow to influence you.  If you want to experience more competition and violence and consumerism in your life, by all means go on and watch events like the Super Bowl and watch CSI Miami or whatever city those crime stoppers are in nowadays.

Unfortunately?, in my case, the TV doesn’t offer much of what I’m looking to experience.  I haven’t found much Peace Programming on television, although to be fair I haven’t looked too much 😉 I prefer finding Peace within my own imagination and in the spirit of other people. Peace, after all, is free.

The Priest talks about the Super Bowl…

If you want to experience a modernized gladiator event like those performed in the Colosseum, be sure to check out the Super Bowl tonight.  You’re guaranteed to see super-sized men bash bodies with each other.  These men have trained their entire lives to achieve peak physical condition, and tonight they will display their physical excellence by  risking injury, concussion, even death, to entertain the viewers and pursue the coveted title of World Champion.  I once heard a statistic that professional football players live 15 years less on average than the ordinary man.  They also have a greatly increased risk of memory loss and dementia – but hey –  who cares about the brain when you have…well you won’t remember what you have, or what you accomplished back in the day of the pigskin, but at least you put up a valiant fight for that ring.

I wonder how many people would still play football if everyone stopped watching.  We’d probably just have the good ole games of pickup and none of the brutish violence we see on television.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

The Priest talks about the Super Bowl…

This morning I felt inspired to go to church with my mom.  I thought I wanted to go to catch up with an old friend, but sure enough the Mystery of all Mysteries had greater plans.  Instead of seeing the old friend, I listened to Paul’s words on Love, a passage I recently spent time memorizing but hadn’t returned to for a couple weeks, and then had the pleasure of hearing a sermon addressing one of the greatest displays of cultural violence  – the Super Bowl!

The Priest awakened the congregation to the notion that watching the Super Bowl, including the ads, supports the violence, materialism, and consumerism of our times.  Surely, if anything is evil, it’s violence.

Meanwhile, just as the Priest condemns the Super Bowl for its violence, he also says that he likes football.  So, I’m thinking, “How do his words translate into action?

I told this story to my dad when I arrived home and he asked, “What’s all that mean to you?”  I said, “It’a disgusting incongruency between actions and words! ”  It reminded me what I disliked so much about traditional Christian teachings and practice.  Based on what the priest said, it doesn’t sound like he practices what he preaches.  Now I wonder, “If even the priest is going to hypocritically preach one principle but practice another, who the heck is anyone supposed to look for as a role model?”

As I read this morning in Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You, “To enter upon the Kingdom of God so far as it is yet accessible to Man – All that is Needed is to make an end to Lying and Hypocrisy.”  So simple, yet, oh! The distractions…

Despite the Priest’s words and representing that he’ll probably watch the game and act hypocritically,  I am still grateful for his openness and honesty.  Until he refreshed my memory this morning, I almost forgot the violence of football.  It’s easy to look at the screen and just see a bunch of dummies with mattress pads of protection on their back, but ultimately they are human beings just like you and I, and they are on a field hurting themselves and others.

This calls to question, what do you really believe in?  One of my fundamental beliefs is in Peace, and that Peace in you, in me, and in the world is absolutely possible, and not even that far away if we literally wake up and start smelling the roses.  As a collective, we take way too many of the pleasures in life for granted, and as a result, we’ve conformed to the masses and stopped appreciating the simple beauties of Life.

Back to the question… what do you really believe in?  Whatever it is, believing it implies that the belief penetrates every part of your reality.  When it doesn’t, you’re acting hypocritically, and your actions suggest that you don’t really believe what you say, all the time.  Of course, we can forget, we are forgetful creatures, and constantly tuning our awareness is a challenging task, but definitely worth the effort.  Thanks to the sermon this morning, my awareness re-tuned towards the potential complicit behavior in violence this evening, and instead of acting complicit, I will spend my time away from the television screen.  Besides, there are plenty of other wonderful activities to do to enhance my Peace of Mind and service to humanity.  Sure, exceptional human beings, even the very best at what they do, are performing for ultimate human supremacy in the realm of football, but it’s violent.  And I don’t support violence.