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Posts Tagged ‘Divine Love’

Spark

Spark

What on earth keeps us going? What is it that gets us to the end of this, our roller-coaster ride that we call life. Of course ego claims the rights to our existence. We live in a dangerous world and ego has carried us over the line, like some Saving Private Ryan Marine type figure, exhausted but mission accomplished. I’m afraid that I can’t agree and here’s why.

Suffering is only in the eye of the beholder, and that eye is our fragmented psyche-soul, the one known as ego. The psyche is here to help us ‘experience’ what appears to be reality, this space-time simulation of existence. It’s the software that helps us feel every up and down on the wave of life. Its settings are either winning or losing, exhilaration or pain. All relational battles that cause us dismay are felt here. All circumstances are interpreted by psyche as a high or a low.

And so we travel along the illusion of time, picking up little victories here and there, along with the painful defeats that edge us ever closer to rock bottom. Now, the power of positive thinking or its New Age equivalent will get us so far. Shiny faced successful gurus point us in the direction of their secret, one usually packaged for the self-help marketplace. Now of course things seem to go better when we’re positive, the power of attraction and all that. Yet, a downer usually lurks around the bend, as we sail along reckoning we’ve got this life thing cracked. The downer in question may be a result of our presumption, but often it’s sent along for our own good. For there’s nothing worse than an ego in full flight, gliding on the winds of its own achievement. No, the downers are needed for us to reach our ultimate but unknown destination.

Now some of us feed ego with all the ammunition that it craves. Paranoia, sees defeats lying along both past and future timelines of our lives. If the sun shines it’s too hot. If everything is freezing over, it’s hell in reverse. The little interpreter within our heads is skewed, leading us into the wilderness of depression and despair. Ego, loves it, feeding our darkness to justify its role as saviour.

Religious belief, particularly the Charismatic/Pentecostal brand that predominates much of Western Christianity, gives us a measure of relief, albeit temporarily. For to be involved, is often not to think, and that definitely nullifies the contradictory ups and downs for a while. Cleverly interpreting the highs as God’s blessing and the lows as Satanic attack, we ride the Christian life, quoting the relevant Bible verses until the big one blocks our path. The Transpersonal Crisis shakes up everything, dislodging our stoical belief in the protection of God, the One who looks out for us. No wonder, such a crisis leaves us disillusioned and broken, for we later discover that ego was the sponsor of our religious ride, an ardent ‘Amener’ who backed our every move.

So then what are we to do. Well, I reckon that we need to turn our attention away from the psyche-soul, our sensor of life, and turn to another hidden participator in the human experience, the real power behind our being, viz. our spirit. Now before you think I’m getting a wee bit too esoteric, please let me explain. When I make something, I leave something of myself in the work concerned. Hopefully in my own writings, there is something of me transmitting itself to you, an inexplicable touch that is received within. Similarly I believe that Source has deposited something of its own Being within us, a spark from the Divine Fire of Creativity. An altogether other that lies deep within our consciousness, waiting for our day of awakening. A pin-hole of Cosmic Consciousness that lets in the Light, that we call God.

Such a spirit is altogether different form our wounded psyche-soul, not having a trace of defensiveness in its essence, for it has been birthed in the Divine. When all around is a high or low, spirit sits quietly, confident in its own Being, waiting for its time of appearing, waiting for ego to burn itself out in the pursuit of happiness and security. And burn itself out it most surely will. So, let’s step back from the spin of ego, smiling as it attempts to recruit us in its dervish dance of salvation. No, rather embrace the Queendom within, the portal of Divine Love, where all is well and shall be well.

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Growing A Church?

Growing A Church?

Now I’d better own up before I proceed. I used to be a church junkie, albeit a slightly reticent one in my somewhat zealous youth. You see, I believed the evangelistic take on God and his kids. God is working in the world and His agency is the institution belovedly known as church. Back in my Irish homeland, as soon as one came into an experience of the risen Nazarene, one was instantly ushered into a sheep fold under the name of a ‘sound’ church. I was never really sure what a sound church was, for those who embraced the standard orthodoxy seemed to be asleep to me, the only sound being my snoring during the pastor’s sermon. No, for me it was a more radical version of Jesus community, or so I thought. I was a founding member of a Charismatic, (yes, speaking in tongues etc) fellowship that attempted to do things differently. I should have known better though, for all life-giving religious or spiritual movements eventually conservatise, becoming clones of their older predecessors. Northern Ireland was, and still is, peppered with man’s attempt to get Divinity into a box, much like any other Bible Belt area of God’s good Earth.

That being said, I want to look at our fixation at growing a church, to use a trendy but ineffective term that’s doing the religious rounds. If one has a church, a group bang in the centre of Divine Will, then why not grow it – the bigger the better right! Well no, at least in my experience. Here are a few reasons for small is beautiful.

1) God isn’t obsessed by church like most of His/Her kids.

Jesus groups were to be transient expressions of God realignment, not the be all and end all. Packed buildings of Jesus people on Sunday mornings aren’t on God’s agenda.

2) Spiritual life is best shared through conversation and friendship.

The Nazarene hinted at this when talking about the two or three gathered into His name. When a few folk, with open and respectful hearts tune into the Divine in conversation, there is an opportunity for Presence to manifest and flow between those present.

3) Growing churches was never a Divine suggestion.

Growing things is frankly more to do with market share than the Way of the Kingdom/Queendom.

Institutionalised faith needs institutions and institutions need cash to survive. Once established, rigid faith groups frankly need bums on seats to keep going, and of course as we all know failure is never on the agenda for those believing God is with them.

3) Growth is an organic experience and one that is deeply personal.

The numbers game in religious circles, patronisingly disguised as a concern for the lost, is nothing to do with true growth.

Spiritual growth is the growing awareness of who we are, and our place in the Divine Heart. Such growth often follows times of great personal darkness. It cannot be manufactured on the assembly line of programmed religion. Rather it takes place in the desert of aloneness, when Light invades our Darkness.

4) Growth of our group encourages religious competition.

I’m afraid I have to smile when a new church opens up here in Lincoln. The pastor priest will always claim to be in total harmony with the existing churches in the city. Their targets for membership are always the ‘unchurched’, especially the young unchurched who are susceptible to subtle, or not so subtle, love bombing. What often happens though is a case of sheep transference. When the shiny new religious stall is set out, Jesus people sniff out a better pastureland and hop the church fence to enter the new field of fellowship. And so it continues, throughout the ages. Like competing supermarkets, religious groups are in the marketplace of desire. the subliminal message is always this: ‘Our take on Jesus is more authentic than that of other groups, so come aboard!’. The merry-go-round world of church membership falsely feeds the growth dreams of model pastors/priests. We are getting new people so we must be fulfilling God’s agenda.

5) Big numbers inflate ego’s group identity.

When we get high on our numbers, ego is lurking, willing to elevate us to a special status, that of God’s chosen.

Growth is put down to God adding to our numbers rather than our clever marketing or manipulation of broken folk looking for answers. Ego, looks over its sacred empire and gives itself a pat on the back, while giving God all the glory, at least publicly.

It’s empowering to be a member of a large and cutting edge group, though in time the ride will end in disillusionment and tears. It’s at this stage that God may get a chance to have a wee chat with us and bind up our self-administered wounds.

6) Church and its size is irrelevant in the great scheme of things

While caught up in the church growth delusion we tend to see life as a life-saving operation. It’s a case of getting as many folk as possible into the Jesus lifeboat as possible before they check out of space-time. And as most of us know who’ve sailed the seven seas in such a craft, it’s really a delusion, for the boat of salvation is merely a church expansion programme. Divine Love has birthed all and will embrace all, church membership or not. To limit a spiritual coming home to joining a church is a big mistake. For often we leave the integrity of our God encounter at the door to play a different game, one driven by the need to belong and be accepted; a shinier version of the game that we played in our wilder days.

So there you have it. Some wee thoughts why it’s best not to get involved with your church’s expansion drive known as evangelism. Since the days of my evangelistic zeal I’ve discovered that God is big, very big indeed. Faith groups are only part of a world that is loved, a Love without restraints that waits at the city gate for those with ears to hear to listen and respond. The Voice is everywhere, even, dare I say it, in the back pew of my old hemorrhaging church.

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roller-coaster 11

Roller-Coaster Religion

In our youth many of us loved to visit theme parks with their precarious, spine-tingling rides of terror. It was cool to be scared and come out safe and sound at the other end, before heading back for another go. It’s got me thinking about the religion of my youth. I reckon it was a roller-coaster ride to beat all roller-coaster rides. The big one where Cosmic powers laid down the tracks of my life, taking me on a topsy-turvy  spin of life and death. I guess I’d better explain.

I got on the roller-coaster when I was converted, when I bumped into the Divine at the Theme Park of Northern Irish religion. now at the time I believed that God was the owner of the Park, but I was mistaken. Like me He/She was just visiting, looking for lonely souls like myself, a Divine pick-up if you like. No, I was quickly ushered onto the Charismatic/Evangelical roller-coaster ride, not by Divine Love, but by the ride operators at the Park, the teachers of a faith, full of excitement and thrill.

At first things sped along nicely, as I ate my Bible snacks on a daily basis, drinking from the fizzy fountain of answered prayers. Just around the first bend though, things started to pick up. We weren’t on this ride for fun, rather we’d been recruited by the Divine, who incidentally was wistfully watching from the sidelines, for the Battle of all battles, the titanic struggle of Good v Evil, or Jesus v Satan. My wee psyche had inadvertently been hijacked for a cause, one that had strapped me in for the long-haul, by the vows of group commitment. For beside me, to the right and to the left, were my brothers and sisters, those fellow warriors who joined me in the cause – an army we were told that would storm the Gates of Hell. Boy, was that a rush. One mass of screaming solidarity flying around our God ordained track of Spiritual Warfare. We couldn’t lose with God on our side or could we?

Of course we had some wonderful ups along the Way, when we glanced far below the Face of Divine Love, smiling at us. Unfortunately we mistook this for Its approval, rather than the compassion that awaited us on our dizzy return. Anyway, it was an adrenalin blast, as we danced, sang, spoke in tongues and fell on our faces in the frenzy of devotion. And there sitting in front of us were our elders, who’d ridden the ride for many years, knowing each twist and turn, stoical in their steadfastness and control. All we had to do was copy them and everything would be all right, as we soared into the very heavens of God.

Of course, the downers followed the ups. There were casualties as we peaked and headed down into the tragedies of life at lightening speed. No matter how euphoric the ride, things got messy at times, both personally and collectively. We were bombarded by the fiery darts of the Evil One as we attempted to claim Northern Ireland for Jesus, through the cries and screams of intercessory prayer. And boy, did he pack a punch, knowing how to hit us in our spiritual solar plexus. Depression stalked our downward path, yet we cranked up and efforts and prepared ourselves for the next upward surge of Spirit. The Sunday sermon told us that it wasn’t an easy ride following Jesus, and so it proved, though not for the reasons that the preacher promoted. For a ride with Jesus and the Devil wasn’t a bed of roses, one that we could easily escape from. If we jumped, Evil had won and we’d pay for it for the rest of our lives. If we stayed we pleased Jesus but had hell to pay.

I managed to stay on the ride for 16 years or so, before I was pushed off , so to speak. Having lost my firstborn son Ben, to cot death at 5 months, I began to doubt the supposed All Powerful Designer of the Ride. Yet, even this wasn’t enough to have me get off the Revivalist track. It took some plain old rivalry with my leader friend to have me finally pushed off, an act of unintended mercy, that paradoxically saved my future, psycho-spiritual bacon. And of course, there was God standing by the kiosk of Compassion, granting me all the time necessary, for my cold-turkey detox from the adrenalin-fuelled track of Revivalist religion.

Eighteen years later, it was time for us to be reintroduced. Not on the Fairground Rides of Programmed Religion, but in the aching emptiness of a human heart. And so it has continued, a courtship of Aloneness, a Union in the fields of Self, far from the victory screams of Satan-obsessed souls.

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Awareness Lane

Awareness Lane

‘Two roads diverge in the middle of my life,

I heard a wise man say’

Larry Norman ~ singer-songwriter

I think we’d all agree that life is a journey of sorts. A space-time walk through a kaleidoscope of images and experiences. For some it’s a simple passage, for others the most complex of trips, full of twists, turns and unexpected reversals. It’s amazing that so many of us make it through to old age, even those 60s rock stars who refuse to accept that the glory days are now but fading memories.

One thing regularly appears along our space-time Path, viz. Will Junction. I’d better explain! Life conspires to bring us to a fork in the road, one where we’re presented with two choices, the way of Ego & the Way of Love. Just when we’re sailing along on a seemingly steady course, up ahead lies the dreaded divergence that none of us like to face. One road is wide, a busy, noisy highway if you like, the other a narrow, silent, country lane.

Those of us who wish to get ahead in life, believing the promises and fears of ego, appear to be automatically wired to head down the highway, joining the crowd, those seeking the security of a cultural nirvana. Safety in numbers seems to be the way to go, as we eagerly rush towards our material and status destiny. As long as we keep our inner rev counter at full throttle, we can navigate any obstacles that come our way and make it. So the narrative goes, that regularly broadcasts itself at every junction choice. This is Ego road, the one that ultimately leads to our physical, mental and spiritual burnout. A road of promise, but a road of destruction.

Thankfully, we’re regularly presented with two roads throughout our earthly sojourn. We are not locked into the GPS directives of ego. For, another Path, runs parallel to desire highway, a lane most natural, at one with All. Here, we leave behind the craving to have, swapping it instead for the contentment of being. Letting go of our adrenalin-fuelled drive for status, we discover a sense of quiet ease, as Life takes us where it wills. And beside us on the Journey, walks Another, a reassuring Presence, that ultimately All is well, and shall be well. Here, we catch sight of, perhaps for the first time, a Natural order and balance in our space-time dream. Life and death, joy and sadness, appear to dance together, to carrying us further into that quiet acceptance of Mystery. On this Lane of Awareness we say little but observe a lot, for in our focus lies a revelation of sorts, a knowing that we are already Home.

So how do we tackle these circumstantial junctions of choice, those planted there by Divine Source. Well, simply through the exercise of the most potent of our gifts, viz. will.

Will, is an internal switch that seems to set our psyche-soul direction. It can be a frenzied fan of the Highway, or the calm sponsor of Awareness Lane. If activated by our spirit core, it flows effortlessly in its default choice, leading us into the Path of Peace. Will is our helpmate, once freed from the fear-driven shackles of ego. A most powerful aid in life’s journey, as it paradoxically submits to Divine Desire, that Cosmic Energy that carries us back into the Bosom of Ultimate Source.

So, safe journeying, my fellow travellers. May all roads lead us to Being. May the Lane of freedom, teach us the shocking heights, depths and width of Divine Love.

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Running In Circles

Running In Circles

Trying to escape all things Divine is extremely hard work. For the more we run away, the more frustrated we tend to get. Why? Well, we always seem to end up back at the place where we initiated our attempted break for freedom. Life appears to conspire to bring us back to what we run from, with God being its favourite drop off point.

For those of us who’ve been raised in a religious belief system, the most logical tactic for our planned escape is to ditch God completely, converting to a quasi-confident atheism, with all its promised allure. Out of mind, hopefully out of sight, is its beguiling mantra. Just take up a rigidly atheistic viewpoint and the Divine will leave us alone to enjoy our non-belief in peace. Alternatively, we may prefer to take the slightly less dogmatic agnostic approach to bathe our religious wounds, while swaying to and fro between the opposing belief branches of promise.

Of course, Divine Love lets us have our day of supposed freedom, glad to see us free of our prior religious shackles and metaphysical misconceptions. For God really is into liberty, even if it involves being ignored by those who run a mile from belief systems that go by His/Her Name. So off we dash, running along the remaining track of life, entering each new bend with a renewed vigour and vim as we head for our godless utopia. The old ways lie far behind, distant memories of past metaphysical illusions and pain. ‘Thank God there is no god,’ we cry out in our paradoxical, liberated fervour.

However, the trouble is that we’re not running along a straight track, one that follows the flying crow into the remainder of our space-time existence. For, much to our amazement, we find ourselves running around a circular path that takes us right back to the big Mysteries of life, and eventually bang into a Presence, One that stands tall to block our illusory progress. Yes, at some stage we experience the Track Designer Supreme, stepping out onto Its creation to catch us totally unaware. Thankfully, we’re not frog-marched back into the tepid bath water of our religious past, but into the pulsating Rapids of Spirit Life, an Energy Flow that wells up from our hidden depths within. The Life abundantly as promised by the Nazarene, the Spring of Self from which gushes the endless Source of All.

Only then does it begin to make sense – this topsy-turvy Journey race that ends in healing tears of joy and release. No longer the hurdles of ego, no longer the fear of stumbling on the relational blocks of others, no longer the nightmares of finishing last in the adversarial affairs of humanity. Just a Presence, One that lets us collapse in a heap of sheer relief, just a Presence that allows us to rest before standing up once more to re-engage as Children of Source.

Remember, contrary to ego’s advice, there’s no  place to run and no place to hide. Best to cut short the Great Escape race and fall into the welcoming Arms of Divine Love.

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Clericalism

Clericalism

I guess there’s always been a bunch of folk who saw themselves as intermediaries of sort between God and man. How come? Well I believe that bizarrely the roots of religious belief can be found in mob violence – the founding murder, so to speak. I’d better explain.

Ancient man lived in small extended family groupings or prototype tribes. When something went wrong in their fight for survival and things began to get a little heated, a scapegoat was quickly found and dispatched in a fit of rage. This unexpected blood-letting released a quasi sense of cathartic peace in the remaining family members, who began to interpret it as the blessing of the Divine Spirit in the Sky! “Ah, so if we kill someone or something on a regular basis, we can obtain the favour of the One above. If we sacrifice to Transcendence, blessings will flow.” The birth of sacrificial religious thought which sadly continues to this day.

Over time, the tribe asked for volunteers to dot he dirty deed and so the priesthood was born. Those not afraid to get blood on their hands in exchange for a new prestige within the community. “We are a cut above the rest,” became their sacred slogan as they sharpened their clerical knives. And so it has continued through the ages. For some the blood is still part of the killing vocation, for others it’s now a symbolic role, dispensing the wine of the slain Lamb on a regular basis. Since time immemorial we have been into blood and so it remains. Further exploration of this obsession is for another day. What I really want to focus on is the sociological residue of such a belief system – the clerical class.

Now, let me say that I’m friends with a number of priests of varying shades. I’m not here to question their motives or their devotion to the Divine; rather I wish to question whether they are needed. Of course, when professional livelihoods are involved the cleric understandably fights back with 2000 years of Christian tradition or even more in the case of the older religions. I can understand that all too human reaction. When we need food on the table for our kids we’ll perform all sorts of pastoral back flips to justify our existence.

No, do we really need a professional class of priests, pastors and dare I say it, Apostles ( for my Pentecostal friends) in order to know God. Do we still require the experts to stand between Divine Source and man? Well, if we still insist on communities that centre around a round of religious gatherings in a purpose-built building, then the clergy still play a role, albeit an organisational one. For, let’s face it, if there wasn’t a paid official to do all the stuff, the whole system would collapse due to apathy. Folk have always wanted a Moses figure to go up the Mount and come back with a tabletised list of instructions from God, especially if they can also perform the role of CEO for the business named church.

I guess I’m saying that we don’t need a bunch of men or women to dispense the Divine for us, for Presence already dwells within. What we may need is one almighty shock to our ego system, that reveals this dramatic truth, one that rarely comes through the dedicated efforts of the clergy. A sudden death, a health scare, a divorce, redundancy etc all have the potential to jolt us into an Awakening experience. The place for answers is within, in the depths of our ego screams. There the Light dwells and we knew it not. Most folk within clerical systems of ministry are nice folk, though not all. Yet, there very existence may divert folk from meeting the Divine, heart to Heart. A little ministerial cul-de-sac that seems to help for a while until a new top-up of concern is needed. Life is messy and it’s there that Divine Love has chosen to dwell.

The trouble is that the priest/pastor/reverend etc can feel that it’s their job to keep the whole God show on the road. This is often done by teaching the particular dos and don’ts of their interpretive tradition. Having joined the clerical class to help mankind they can so easily end up propping up a moral empire based on the interpretive add-ons of their religious tradition. It’s so easy to switch into control mode in the name of the God of freedom. It’s the historical virus that invades the very heart of religious systems. The priest once more stands as judge and jury on the whole God-man thing, tempted to shed blood, albeit verbally on the chosen scapegoat.

Finally, let me tell you a wee story. A couple of years back here in Lincoln, I was out for a walk along the local High Street when I noticed a bunch of Christians doing their evangelistic thing. Always willing to have a chat will fellow God folk, I stopped and entered into a friendly chat with a guy, who turned out to be the pastor of the gang. At first our conversation was friendly but soon it was strongly inferred that I should be a church member and come along to sample his particular brand of gathering. At this point I suggested that the pastor try a wee experiment. Why not stop all church gatherings for a year, when folk could just mix with society at large. After 12 months have a meeting to see how many people had become Christians through contact with his flock. Unfortunately, I saw sheer disbelief in his eyes. “Dylan, I couldn’t do that.” “Why not?” I asked. “Well, frankly my members wouldn’t make it if it weren’t for our church programme.” Enough said. ” The Christ within would wither up and die if the pastor’s flock didn’t get their weekly worship session and sound Bible instruction.

The clerical system at its worst methinks.

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I'm A Holy Roller ~ Get Me Outta Here

I’m A Holy Roller ~ Get Me Outta Here

We glibly follow the Nazarene in many guises. One of our favourite ones is the serious disciple, the  believer whose big aim in life is to make Jesus, Lord. We play numerous church and individual basedl games in our zealous attempt at convincing ourselves that we’ve finally handed over the control of our lives to the mysterious Galilean. Now, as a recovering Holy Roller myself, one who played loads of complex Spirit games in my youth, I want to examine why so many Charismatic/Pentecostal folk eventually leave their initial, revivalist brand of choice.

May I be blunt? We can play an extremely plausible role within Spirit-focused faith, or indeed, within the many modern New Age alternatives and still not have yielded to Divine Love. I’d better explain. Ego, our wounded, and often frenetic, psyche-soul, adores religious or spiritual disguises. It’s a past master at the whole Angel of Light thing. Since time began, long ago in the mythic Garden, ego has wrapped itself in its psycho-spiritual skins to hide from the Innocent intimacy of Source, fearing that it has been spurned by Love and placed under a divine fatwa.

The Evangelicals among us were told that ‘the Satan’ used to lead the Heavenly choirs in their harmonic songs of adoration. In other words, a religious worship leader, or alternatively, a pseudo-spiritual vibrational expert. Maybe there’s some elements of truth in there, for ego, the faithful foot soldier of the aforementioned adversarial system, can certainly put on a good show. Ego loves religious devotion with all its directed hoop-jumping. It will commit itself to great depths of suffering and pain, all in the name of God. It will ‘serve’ and ‘love’ till it’s blue in the face and about to expire. Add a controlling pastoral or authoritative voice to the mix and ego will splash its cash to get some of what it appears to have.

Paradoxically, it’s all about trying to impress the Divine while being terrified of its pronouncements. Many of us, whether religious or spiritual, have played this game in our time, on the ever-spinning hamster-wheel of devotion. And yet, we all eventually fall off. Well, to be more accurate, we’re simply pushed off by the intervention of Spirit, in the form of Life. So let’s be clear; ego has vast resources of psychological strength, yet even these remain limited. At some stage in our sojourn Divine Love comes calling, loudly proclaiming, ‘Enough is enough. Time for aReality check!’

Now, it’s at this critical stage in our journey when we Holy Rollers, start rebuking everything in sight, in one last desperate attempt to remain in our religious delusion. ‘God would never let this happen to me – I’m a Holy Roller – get me outta here,’ we scream in frustrated sincerity!

And yet, in reality, this is the day of our salvation. Not the religious joining of a faith system through confessional game play, but rather, a felt and all too painful salvation. For Divine Love has decided to take us through cold turkey, weaning us off our devotional drug in a way that only Transcendence can manage. When Love strikes it heads straight for the dependency jugular. Yes, you’ve guessed it, ego. It only asks one thing – a surrender of control, an end to our illusory state of independence and strength. Of course, like some great lion with a thorn in its paw, ego doesn’t lie down lightly. Thankfully though, Source knows us better than we know ourselves, and the final act of compassion comes swiftly and decisively. We, or more accurately ego, is floored for good. Time for some thorn removal therapy methinks!

I look fondly back to my somewhat heady days as a Holy Roller. Divine Love was extremely gracious to me in many, many ways, and yet, all along It was planning to snatch me from the jaws of ego in the blink of an eye. ‘Do you miss it all’, I’m often asked. Well, to be honest no. Better to have ego, healed and reintegrated, rather than running around in its blind religious fervour.

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