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Words of Good Cheer, Mostly

Holiday spiritual guidance.

Dear Reader,

At this very moment, I am taking up your valuable and precious, limited time within this transitory, earthly existence. You could stop reading right now, close your computer or electronic device, and go out and save the world, serve a great cause, or at the very least, actively love and help someone near and dear to you, all of which would be a far better use of your time than reading what I have to say. So would coloring, or singing. Seriously.

If you are still reading, the pressure is on to make this time we're spending together somehow useful to the greater good, so that we can both feel assured that we’re not just wasting our lives, diddling away our day on the computer to avoid more pressing responsibilities.

So one thing I can do for both of us is to keep it short. Here then, are my offerings for the holiday season, in order of importance; the first one may be sufficient, so you may choose to stop there:

1) Sign at Wat U-Mong Forest Monastery near Chiang Mai, Thailand:

Cut yourself some slack. Remember:

100 years from now

All new people

2) A nice Sufi idea from Eat, Pray, Love. (Yes, I read a chick book.)

“God long ago drew a circle in the sand exactly around the spot where you are standing right now. You were never not coming here. This was never not going to happen.”

But take note: this idea only works if we’re looking back from where we’re standing now. Any place we end up is where we inevitably had to end up, based on how all of existence unfolded to that point.

But it doesn’t work if we’re facing forward into the future, because then we still have to choose which next step to take. Once we’ve chosen, we are immediately standing again in the circle God drew long ago. So choose wisely. Gandhi used to ask himself how his next action would benefit the poorest person on Earth. I don’t recommend you use that one as your guideline unless you’re prepared to feel completely miserable about your entire existence.

I read about a culture that visualizes the future in back of them, because it is unknown, and you can’t see behind you. Whereas the past is up ahead of you, clear as day. So if you walk backward into the future, which lies behind you, you can beat the system and get to where you were meant to be before God even hears about it.

3) Humor is always a worthwhile way to spend our time. Laughter is a healing force. The funniest joke I’ve heard in a while came from my 10-year-old nephew Noah:

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Woo who?”

“Don’t get so excited, it’s just a joke.”

4) Woody Allen is always a good source of consolation in what could be perceived as difficult and dark times:

“More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

5) Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Buddha and YOU have the identical resources for connecting to and expressing Divinity and enlightenment. Or possibly not. Perhaps the rest of us are spiritually and karmically defective and need to work a lot harder to experience and express the Presence of Great Mystery, one of my names for God. On the other hand, it has also been suggested that perhaps the rest of us are not defective in any way, and therefore have to stop working so hard. Pick one.

6) Finally, from my dear old teacher and friend, Stewart Emery:

“I don’t know what the purpose of life is, but FOR SURE IT ISN’T TO HAVE A BAD TIME.”

Have a peaceful holiday season.