Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Virtues of Maat

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Ma’at is the Ancient Egyptian Goddess of truth, balance and order. She is most often depicted as a woman with wings or a single white ostrich feather. When the deceased go to the afterlife, the Egyptians believed that their hearts would be weighed against this feather.

If the individual lived a good life, following the rules of ma’at, their heart would be lighter than a feather and they would get to go to the afterlife. However, if that individual did not follow the rules of ma’at, they would have a heavy heart – weighed down by the guilt of their transgressions. As a result, their heart would be devoured by Ammut and the soul would be destroyed.

The laws of Ma’at are called the 42 Negative confessions and they were revealed in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, or the Papyrus of Ani – a book that was written more than 3,000 years ago. THE 42 NEGATIVE CONFESSIONS

I have not committed sin
I have not committed robbery with violence
I have not stolen
I have not slain men and women
I have not stolen food
I have not swindled offerings
I have not stolen from God
I have not told lies
I have not carried away food
I have not cursed
I have not closed my ears to truth
I have not committed adultery
I have not made anyone cry
I have not felt sorrow without reason
I have not assaulted anyone
I am not deceitful
I have not stolen anyone’s land
I have not been an eavesdropper
I have not falsely accused anyone
I have not been angry without reason
I have not seduced anyone’s wife
I have not polluted myself
I have not terrorized anyone
I have not disobeyed the law
I have not been excessively angry
I have not cursed God
I have not behaved with violence
I have not caused disruption of peace
I have not acted hastily or without thought
I have not overstepped my boundaries of concern
I have not exaggerated my words when speaking
I have not worked evil
I have not used evil thoughts, words or deeds
I have not polluted the water
I have not spoken angrily or arrogantly
I have not cursed anyone in thought, word or deed
I have not placed myself on a pedestal
I have not stolen that which belongs to God
I have not stolen from or disrespected the deceased
I have not taken food from a child
I have not acted with insolence
I have not destroyed property belonging to God
In recent years, a list of 42 ideals was written as a parallel to the Negative Confessions.

Some modern practitioners of the Ancient Egyptian Ways like to repeat these 42 ideals in the morning and evening, as way to encourage these ideals in themselves. Chanting was an important part of spirituality in ancient Egypt. It was believed that if you chanted something often enough, that the words would become a part of your being. I guess there really is something to encouraging positive thinking!


1. I honor virtue
2. I benefit with gratitude
3. I am peaceful
4. I respect the property of others
5. I affirm that all life is sacred
6. I give offerings that are genuine
7. I live in truth
8. I regard all altars with respect
9. I speak with sincerity
10. I consume only my fair share
11. I offer words of good intent
12. I relate in peace
13. I honor animals with reverence
14. I can be trusted
15. I care for the earth
16. I keep my own council
17. I speak positively of others
18. I remain in balance with my emotions
19. I am trustful in my relationships
20. I hold purity in high esteem
21. I spread joy
22. I do the best I can
23. I communicate with compassion
24. I listen to opposing opinions
25. I create harmony
26. I invoke laughter
27. I am open to love in various forms
28. I am forgiving
29. I am kind
30. I act respectfully of others
31. I am accepting
32. I follow my inner guidance
33. I converse with awareness
34. I do good
35. I give blessings
36. I keep the waters pure
37. I speak with good intent
38. I praise the Goddess and the God
39. I am humble
40. I achieve with integrity
41. I advance through my own abilities
42. I embrace the All

Source: http://www.assatashakur.org/forum/spirituality-connect-your-center/15095-virtues-maat.html

Monday, November 28, 2016

3 Mindful Ways Through Sadness

When we experience sad feelings, we can either begin to diagnose ourselves, or just feel the emotion instead of trying to evaluate it. The latter helps balance our reaction to difficult emotions, allowing for a healthier way through them. Here are 3 mindful ways through sadness:

1) Create space to pause: Try this 3-minute practice that emphasizes shifting attention, checking in, and moving on.

2) Feel safe saying no: Try these 5 ways to say no with heart.

3) Allow yourself to be present with others: Here are 6 ways to practice being present.

Link: http://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-changes-how-we-process-sadness/

If you meet someone at a cocktail party whose eyes are constantly flitting around the room, do they make a good impression? Do they appear magnetic or charming? Probably not. Their mind is clearly somewhere else—maybe trying to figure out if there is someone in the room who is more important than you. They are not focusing on the conversation, and they may glance at (or even focus on) their mobile devices. Are you likely to want to speak to them again?
One research study showed that the mere presence of a cell phone impaired the sense of connection in a face-to-face conversation.
Chances are you will not. No one is interested in talking to someone who is not present. Worse yet is if they are not present and they are focused on technology. One research study showed that the mere presence of a cell phone impaired the sense of connection in a face-to-face conversation.

However, if you meet someone who is completely attentive to you and actively engaged in the conversation, you are much more likely to find them likable and interesting. If that person’s cell phone rings without them checking it, they get double brownie points. Why? Because in that moment, the only thing that seems to matter to them is you. You are the most important person there, and they have gifted you all of their attention at that moment.

A charismatic person is able to exert significant influence because he or she connects with others in meaningful ways. It’s no surprise that highly charismatic people—US presidents are a frequent example—are often described as having the ability to make you feel as if you were the only person in the room. Given how rare it is to receive that kind of attention from anyone, the ability to be fully present makes a big impression.

We often think of charisma as a special gift—the je ne sais quoi that makes someone starlike. Max Weber defined charisma as “a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, super-human, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These are . . . not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader.”

While research on charisma is still in development, one of the most extensive studies on charisma found that charisma is not so much a gift as a learnable skill that has a lot to do with the ability to be fully present. The study pointed to six elements of a charismatic person:

1. Empathy: the ability to see things from another person’s perspective and to understand how that person is feeling. You can only be empathic and place yourself in another person’s shoes if you are fully attentive to them—which you are obviously only able to do if you are completely present with them.

2. Good listening skills: the ability to truly hear what someone is trying to communicate to you, both verbally and nonverbally. Think of the person at the conference social hour who interrupts you or can’t wait to interject her two cents. She is not truly listening to you because she’s thinking about herself—what she will say, how smart she will sound, how impressed you will be. If you are distracted or thinking about what to say next—not truly present—you are not truly listening.

3. Eye contact: the ability to meet and maintain someone’s gaze. Eye contact is one of the most powerful forms of human connection. We intuitively feel that when someone’s gaze shifts away from us, their attention has also shifted away from us. And this intuition is backed up by neuroscience research, which has found that the same brain regions are used when your gaze wanders as when your mind wanders. When you are present and looking someone in the eye, the impact of that connection can be powerful. In addition to feeling heard, because of your empathy and good listening skills, people actually feel seen.

4. Enthusiasm: the ability to uplift another person through praise of their actions or ideas. Enthusiasm is difficult to fake because it is such an authentic emotion. It can only occur when you sincerely engage with what someone else is doing or saying. For your enthusiasm to come across powerfully, you have to sincerely feel it. Again, your ability to be fully present and engaged is essential.

5. Self-confidence: the ability to act authentically and with assurance without worrying about what other people think. Many people are so busy worrying about how they appear that they end up coming across as nervous or inauthentic. Their focus is on themselves rather than on the other person. When you are fully present, you are focused on others rather than yourself. As a consequence, you naturally come across as confident: instead of worrying about what others are thinking of you, you are composed, genuine, and natural.

6. Skillful speaking: the ability to profoundly connect with others. It is essential to know your audience if you want to make an impact. The only way to do so, however, is to tune in to them. When you are one hundred percent present with your audience, you are able to understand where they are coming from and how they are interpreting your words. Only then can your words be sensitive and appropriate. When you speak skillfully, you will be truly heard.
Charisma, simply put, is absolute presence.

While constantly focusing on the next thing or the next person may seem productive, slowing down and being present has far more profound benefits. By being present, you will enter a state of flow that is highly productive and will become more charismatic, making people around you feel understood and supported. You will have good relationships, which are one of the biggest predictors of success and happiness.
This is an excerpt from The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success by Emma Seppälä, Ph.D. Copyright ©2016 by Emma Seppälä, Ph.D., published by HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Ancient Civilizations

The study of ancient civilizations and people raises some profound questions. Who are humans? Where did we come from? Where are we going?

As you explore these civilizations, see if you can make sense of this Sphinxlike statement from author William Faulkner: "The past is never dead. It's not even past." It may help you see where you are going.

Knowledge of history is empowering. An event is but the furthest ripple of an ever-expanding wave that may have started eddying outward hundreds of years ago. One who "sees" history is able to harness the power of that wave's entire journey.

The United States and our world today represents the latest chapter in the book that is history. This course presents many of the chapters that led up to our chapter. Here is much of the back-story that helps us all understand our historic inheritance and the choices we may make.

  • How Do We Know?
    1. Archaeologists and Their Artifacts
    2. Anthropologists and Their People
    3. Historians and Their Time
    4. Geographers and Their Space
  • Prehistoric Times
    1. "I Love Lucy"
    2. Food, Clothing and Shelter
    3. A Page Right Out of History
    4. First Technologies: Fire and Tools
  • Ancient Egypt
    1. Life along the Nile
    2. Egyptian Social Structure
    3. Dynasties
    4. Mummies
    5. Pyramids
    6. Women of Ancient Egypt
  • The Early Middle East
    1. Life in Sumer
    2. Babylonia
    3. Hammurabi's Code: An Eye for an Eye
    4. Assyrians: Cavalry and Conquests
    5. Persian Empire
    6. Phoenicians: Sailing Away
    7. Hebrews and the Land of Milk and Honey
    8. Birth of Christianity
    9. Muhammad and the Faith of Islam
  • Ancient Greece
    1. Rise of City-States: Athens and Sparta
    2. Democracy Is Born
    3. Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes
    4. Greek Literature
    5. Art and Architecture
    6. Thinkers
    7. Alexander the Great
    8. The Olympic Games
  • Ancient Rome
    1. The Roman Republic
    2. Julius Caesar
    3. The Pax Romana
    4. Life of the People
    5. Gladiators, Chariots, and the Roman Games
    6. The Fall of the Roman Empire
  • Africa
    1. Kingdom of Ghana
    2. Mali: A Cultural Center
    3. Benin and Its Royal Court
    4. Great Zimbabwe
    5. Life on the Desert
  • South Asia: India and Beyond
    1. Early Civilization in the Indus Valley
    2. The Caste System
    3. The Rise of Hinduism
    4. The Birth and Spread of Buddhism
    5. The Gupta Period of India
  • China
    1. The Middle Kingdom
    2. Shang Dynasty — China's First Recorded History
    3. Han Dynasty — Cultural Heights
    4. Tang Dynasty — The Golden Age
    5. Taoism and Confucianism — Ancient Philosophies
  • Japan: An Island Nation
    1. Japanese Religion and Spirituality
    2. Early History and Culture
    3. Feudal Japan: The Age of the Warrior
    4. The Martial Arts
    5. Life During the Edo Period
  • Central and South American Empires
    1. Blood of Kings: The World of the Maya
    2. Deciphering Maya Glyphs
    3. The Inca Empire: Children of the Sun
    4. The Aztec World
    5. Clash of Cultures: Two Worlds Collide

    The History Guide's Lectures on Ancient and Medieval European History

    Lecture 1: What is Civilization?
    Lecture 2: Ancient Western Asia and the Civilization of Mesopotamia
    Lecture 3: Egyptian Civilization
    Lecture 4: The Akkadians, Egyptians and the Hebrews
    Lecture 5: Homer and the Greek Renaissance, 900-600BC
    Lecture 6: The Athenian Origins of Direct Democracy
    Lecture 7: Classical Greece, 500-323BC
    Lecture 8: Greek Thought: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle
    Lecture 9: From Polis to Cosmopolis: Hellenization and Alexander the Great, 323-30BC
    Lecture 11: Republican Rome, 509-31BC
    Lecture 12: Augustus Caesar and the Pax Romana
    Lecture 13: A Brief Social History of the Roman Empire
    Lecture 14: The Decline and Fall of Rome
    Lecture 15: Christianity as a Cultural Revolution
    Lecture 16: The Church Fathers: Jerome and Augustine
    Lecture 17: Byzantine Civilization
    Lecture 18: Islamic Civilization
    Lecture 19: Early Medieval Monasticism
    Lecture 20: Charlemagne and the Carolingian Renaissance
    Lecture 21: Feudalism and the Feudal Relationship
    Lecture 22: European Agrarian Society: Manorialism
    Lecture 23: Medieval Society: The Three Orders
    Lecture 24: The Medieval World View
    Lecture 25: The Holy Crusades
    Lecture 26: The 12th Century Renaissance
    Lecture 27: Heretics, Heresies and the Church
    Lecture 28: Aquinas and Dante
    Lecture 29: Satan Triumphant: The Black Death
    Lecture 30: In the Wake of the Black Death

    Lecture 1: Renaissance Portraits
    Lecture 2: The Age of Discovery
    Lecture 3: The Protestant Reformation: Luther and Calvin
    Lecture 4: The Impact of Luther and the Radical Reformation
    Lecture 5: The Catholic Reformation
    Lecture 6: Europe in the Age of Religious Wars, 1560-1715
    Lecture 7: The English Civil War
    Lecture 8: Political Theory, 1660-1715
    Lecture 9: France in the 17th Century
    Lecture 10: The Scientific Revolution, 1543-1600
    Lecture 11: The Scientific Revolution, 1600-1642
    Lecture 12: The Scientific Revolution, 1642-1730
    Lecture 13: The New Intellectual Order: Man, Nature and Society
    Lecture 14: A Century of Genius: Art, Philosophy and Drama

    Lecture 1: Modern European Intellectual History: An Introduction
    Lecture 2: The Medieval World View (1)
    Lecture 3: The Medieval World View (2)
    Lecture 4: The Medieval Synthesis and the Renaissance Discovery of Man
    Lecture 5: The Medieval Synthesis Under Attack: Savonarola and the Protestant Reformation
    Lecture 6: The Medieval Synthesis and the Secularization of Human Knowledge: The Scientific Revolution, 1543-1642 (1)
    Lecture 7: The Medieval Synthesis and the Secularization of Human Knowledge: The Scientific Revolution, 1642-1730 (2)
    Lecture 8: The New Intellectual Order: Man, Nature and Society
    Lecture 9: Écrasez l'infâme!: The Triumph of Science and the Heavenly City of the 18th Century Philosophe
    Lecture 10: The Vision of Human Progress: Vico, Gibbon and Condorcet
    Lecture 11: The Origins of the French Revolution
    Lecture 12: The French Revolution: The Moderate Stage, 1789-1792
    Lecture 13: The French Revolution: The Radical Stage, 1792-1794
    Lecture 14: The Language of Politics: England and the French Revolution
    Lecture 15: Europe and the Superior Being: Napoleon
    Lecture 16: The Romantic Critique of the Enlightenment
    Lecture 17: The Origins of the Industrial Revolution in England
    Lecture 18: The Social Consequences of the Industrial Revolution -- currently editing
    Lecture 19: The French Revolution and the Socialist Tradition: Early French Communists (1)
    Lecture 20: The French Revolution and the Socialist Tradition: English Democratic Socialists (2)
    Lecture 21: The Utopian Socialists: Charles Fourier (1)
    Lecture 22: The Utopian Socialists: Robert Owen and Saint-Simon (2)
    Lecture 23: The Age of Ideologies: General Introduction (1)
    Lecture 24: The Age of Ideologies: Reflections on Karl Marx (2)
    Lecture 25: The Age of Ideologies: The World of Auguste Comte (3)
    Lecture 26: The Age of Ideologies: Charles Darwin and Evolutionary Theory (4) -- currently editing
    Lecture 27: The Revolt Against the Western Intellectual Tradition: Nietzsche and the Birth of Modernism

    Lecture 1: Random Thoughts on the Intellectual History of Modern Europe
    Lecture 2: Nietzsche, Freud and the Thrust Toward Modernism (1)
    Lecture 3: Nietzsche, Freud and the Thrust Toward Modernism (2)
    Lecture 4: The Great War and Modern Memory -- currently editing
    Lecture 5: The Russian Revolution: February - October 1917 (1)
    Lecture 6: The Russian Revolution: Red October and the Bolshevik Coup (2)
    Lecture 7: The Aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution
    Lecture 8: The Age of Anxiety: Europe in the 1920s (1)
    Lecture 9: The Age of Anxiety: Europe in the 1920s (2)
    Lecture 10: The Age of Totalitarianism: Stalin and Hitler
    Lecture 11: Hitler and World War Two
    Lecture 12: The Existentialist Frame of Mind
    Lecture 13: George Orwell and "The Last Man in Europe"
    Lecture 14: The Origins of the Cold War
    Lecture 15: 1968: The Year of the Barricades
    Lecture 16: 1989: The Walls Came Tumbling Down

    Source: http://www.historyguide.org/ancient/ancient.html

    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    How To Make A Relationship Last

    A happy relationship can be the most rewarding thing in the world. As anybody who’s ever been in one knows however, they aren’t always (or ever) easy. But they can be made a lot easier by following the advice outlined in these wonderful illustrations.
    They come from the website Power of Positivity and they’re designed to remind you of the things that are easy to forget. The secret to a successful relationship lies in the details, the finer things that are often overlooked, especially when you’ve been together for a long time. Like showing appreciation and gratitude, even for the small things, and always supporting each other no matter what. It isn’t always possible to follow all of these rules, but even if you remember only one or two of them then you’re sure to have a happier life together.

    Aging Gracefully

    Seasons of Beauty

    by Madisyn Taylor

    As we cultivate our life, our beauty becomes as much about what we are creating and doing as it is about our appearance.

    We tend to associate youth with beauty, but the truth is that beauty transcends every age. Just as a deciduous tree is stunning in all its stages--from its full leafy green in the summer to its naked skeleton during winter and everything in between--human beings are beautiful throughout their life spans.

    The early years of our lives tend to be about learning and experiencing as much as we possibly can. We move through the world like sponges, absorbing the ideas of other people and the world. Like a tree in spring, we are waking up to the world. In this youthful phase of life, our physical strength, youth, and beauty help open doors and attract attention. Gradually, we begin to use the information we have gathered to form ideas and opinions of our own. As we cultivate our philosophy about life, our beauty becomes as much about what we are saying, doing, and creating as it is about our appearance. Like a tree in summer, we become full, expressive, beautiful, and productive.

    When the time comes for us to let go of the creations of our middle lives, we are like a tree in autumn dropping leaves, as we release our past attachments and preparing for a new phase of growth. The children move on, and careers shift or end. The lines on our faces, the stretch marks, and the grey hairs are beautiful testaments to the fullness of our experience. In the winter of our lives, we become stripped down to our essence like a tree. We may become more radiant than ever at this stage, because our inner light shines brighter through our eyes as time passes. Beauty at this age comes from the very core of our being--our essence. This essence is a reminder that there is nothing to fear in growing older and that there is a kind of beauty that comes only after one has spent many years on earth.

    Saturday, November 19, 2016

    The Sacredness of Home

    There is a difference between having a place to live and having a home. A place to live is a space which meets our personal and professional needs whether they be simple, complex or something in between. It is neither a reflection of us nor, really, of anything else as you can feel any time you stay at a hotel. On the other hand, a home is a place to live with which we have a relationship. The relationship can be good, bad, or indifferent in part through our choices and actions although with two parties involved we are not solely responsible. A home can be a building we own or a space we rent; it can be just a room or several buildings on acreage. Wherever we call home, it is the place where we can and usually are most ourselves and where we can explore what is possible or let all of the doingness of life go and experience our wholeheartedly loved beingness.

    Because of the nature of the relationship between people and spaces, humans being transformative creation agents and homes providing space for transformation and creation, homes tend to reflect the inner life of the inhabitant(s). They become the interior life of their people made manifest, as it were. It's not a one-to-one relationship, but it is very common to find a house suffering from plumbing problems because their people aren't letting go well or are stuck on some issue that just won't break loose. Houses can flood and overflow when roots get into the pipes suggesting their people have a need to deal with the root of their issues. You get the idea.

    These are some of the principals which underlie Feng Sui. Relationships work both ways so not only will a home reflect for their person what is or isn't working, changing something in the home will affect its people. Too often these changes are seen as a placebo. They are relegated to the intellectual realm where if we simply understand the message, we don't need to make an actual change. Or they are seen as shallow esthetic choices or New Age spiritual magic which more enlightened beings don't need to use. This has allowed our connection with our homes to follow the same trajectory as our bodies and the other logistics of life. Our relationships become functional or dysfunctional where we know it could be better and what seems to need adjusting is not our behaviors, but our attitude. If we could just get on track, get a better attitude about keeping things clean, about repairs, about the neighbors, about what needs to get done someday, then everything would be all right.

    I tend to think about the need for appropriate attitude in relationships the same way I think about it in connection with successfully landing an airplane. Yes, having a good attitude about a successful landing is helpful, but you can actually achieve the goal without it. What you truly need is to be present, have the appropriate height in relationship to speed, enough runway, working brakes, skills with the controls, and knowledge of what to do in order to put the airplane through the landing process. In all of these things, the relevance of how you feel about the situation pales in comparison to what you actually do and with what in what order.

    To be in good relationship with our homes we don't necessarily need to change our attitude. It will more than likely change on its own over time. What we need to do is pay attention to it, notice what is needed and take appropriate action to do those things. Each time we clean the bathroom we are infusing our home with our positive essence, with our energy. Each time we dust we're removing old energy and making space for the house to infuse us and receive from our abundance of beingness. When we clear off a shelf we signal we are ready for something new. When we create a pile of something our home reaches out to support us in this new process of manifestation even if it's only sorting that day's mail. Each act not only interacts with the home and with ourselves, but creates a cumulative energy. We feel this effect in sacred places such as St. Peters in Rome where the actions of millions has saturated every inch to such a level the energy radiates from it or Stonehenge which welcomes each new person with suchness grown rich through centuries of ceremony and silence. In this same way our home accretes the essence of us through our physical actions and responds accordingly.

    In most cultures as far back as oral history can remember, whether agrarian or nomadic, home has been where we are safe from the elements and have access to fire. Home is the sacred place where fire is our ally providing light, heat, the ability to cook food, to create weapons and forge the implements we need for productive living. We can feel our kinship to fire as it is, like us, a transformative creation agent. Not only does fire consume, but the ashes of fire can be used to remove the hair from hides making them useful for clothing, harness and other items. Fire can harden wood into our chosen shape or hollow it out. Fire can release things from their outer shells so we can have the nutrients inside. Fire opens entire new realms of possibility.

    Fires were considered the sacred heart of a home. Where there is fire there is life and we still reflect our awareness of this in the way we speak of homes. When they are welcoming we say they are warm and inviting. When they are uninterested or refusing connection, when they seem unfeeling or having no care for the welfare of those in them, we call them cold. When we enter a building which has been uninhabited for a while we call it lifeless and look to the center where heat, warmth, and nourishment should be, usually the kitchen. Another thing we say is "the kitchen is the heart of a home" which refers to its ability to create relationship and connection, fostering health and a feeling of wellbeing.

    In the times before colonial settlement, the Cherokee people held fire as sacred not only when used in ceremony, but also as a sacred aspect of every home. Each year in the late summer a week long ceremony would be held. In order to prepare for the new crops to come in, to celebrate the successful harvest and prepare for the year to come, each house would extinguish its fire. The only fire which remained lit was the central fire of the community. Each house would refrain from cooking, would clean the hearth down to the stones, and lay wood for a new fire to be started. The accumulation detritus from the year past would be removed, any necessary house repairs or cleaning would be done during this week, and everything would be made ready to celebrate the community and its connection with the divine both within each individual and without in the web of life. Then on the appointed day and hour an elder would take fire from the center and bring it to each house. Each home's fire was lit from the same source, from the communal source, the fire which supports us all.

    Various First Nation and Native American tribes of the Plains would carry fire with them when they moved camp. They would take hot coals from the previous encampment's fire with them in insulated containers. This way the sacredness of their home came with them from camp to camp along with the hides and poles and sleeping robes. The ease with which they settled in each spot came from intimate relationship with the home made sacred through care and fire, which then translated itself into an ease of relationship with the new ecosystem they would inhabit.

    In ancient Greece fire was personified as Hestia and seen as one of the oldest and most revered of the gods. She came to be seen as a daughter of Zeus, but one of only three gods who never married. She remained virgin, which in those times referred not to her sexual experience, but instead to her personal authority. She would have no husband over her, but instead would be herself, life affirming, ever present, ever radiant, supportive of all that was good and that allows humans to thrive. She therefore has no temples, is not represented by statues or art, but instead was venerated in each home's cooking fire and in the communal sacred fires of each city-state and at the temples of various other gods. She was, quite literally, the goddess of the hearth. Today she is often mistaken for a goddess of domesticity which is seen a bit negatively due to modern culture's struggle with strict gender roles and responsibilities. However, she was the means by which a space to live became a home.

    For example, each new marriage would be honored with a procession. The mother would bring fire from her hearth to theirs, bringing Hestia and all of her blessings ahead of them into their new life. Babies would also be blessed next to the fire as introduction and the forging of relationship. When a new community was formed Hestia in the form of sacred fire would be travelled with the settlers creating deep sacred connections between the two communities. In each case Hestia would bring the sacred into each home through her beingness and the people living in the home would foster the sacred through the practical actions of life: cooking, crafting, heating, and fire tending.

    While the other Greek gods were represented and worshiped through art and images, Hestia was seen in round containers. Her hearths were round even if they weren't central to the dwelling, coals or embers travelled in round pots, and the sacred fires of the city and the temple were set in round altars letting the heat and light reach all beings while giving preference to none.

    In modern times many homes have no fireplace or hearth. As most people don't cook or heat with wood, fireplaces have become more of a decoration often powered by electricity or gas rather than wood. The functions of a hearth are now found in the kitchen where we have ranges, ovens, and microwaves, in the walls where we have various means for providing heat, in the hidden spaces where we keep our water heaters, and in the candles we light. This makes the functions no less sacred as we find out rather rapidly when one or the other of them stops working for some reason, usually when we need them the most.

    As we head into the holiday season, gathering our families into our homes, going out to share our light with others, choosing how best to honor ourselves and those we love, we become attuned to the sacredness of home. For some this will come in preparing for and hosting loved ones in celebration and sharing. For others it will be a time of honoring the self, taking time out from the daily round to shovel out the remains of the past year and prepare for the new. Each act adds to our relationship with our home and with ourselves, bonding us even further into the sacredness of living. As Hestia reminds us, this is not some high ideal, not something “out there” or only found in special places, but something which is created by our presence and our actions each and every day. We are as much a transformation agent as fire. We transmute all we come in contact with by our vary nature. The sacredness of our homes is rarely built through grand gestures, heroic exploits, or large projects, but instead is created in the small moments, in the mundane chores, in the choices we make of doing this over that. It is in how we choose to do so, what actions we do or do not take and in what order, which determines the outcome.


    Teri - AkashicReading.com

    Sunday, November 13, 2016

    Overcoming 'Not Good Enough'

    by Pam Thomas

    "True beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which means that how beautiful you are to other people is always going to be subjective to who is looking at you at that time, and since you will always be looking at yourself first, you should find your own beauty and feel good about who you are." - BeNeca Ward

    Have you ever known someone who was absolutely stunning on the outside, but the minute they opened their mouth they became the most unattractive person ever? There's a reason for that.

    And while I am not a psychologist, I'd be willing to bet you dollars to donuts, that regardless of their outward appearance, jealousy and insecurities, the need for constant validation, etc. where most likely running rampant internally. Sadly, those qualities and characteristics often lead to not-so beautiful outward behavior, i.e. cattiness, gossip, "It's all about me" tendencies, negativity, as well as neediness...hence the diminishing attractiveness.

    My friends, here's the straight skinny... True beauty radiates from the inside outward. It is not defined by having flawless skin, wearing size 2 jeans, sporting cellulite free legs or a toned butt.

    True Beauty....

    ...is the person who shares a smile with a perfect stranger, lends a helping hand to someone in need, listens open-heartedly to a friend in pain, gives love unconditionally, or finds the joy in the small things. And it is my hope that you begin to recognize your true beauty which comes from your heart.

    While I have given some examples of what true beauty is, I think it's also very important to mention, that beauty is subjective. It's not about comparisons, but rather recognizing and creating our own true definition of beauty.

    So, how do we define beauty within ourselves?

    The first step is taking responsibility for ourselves. What does that mean? Well, that means knowing that what you think about you, how you feel about you, what you say about you (and even about others), and how you show up each day is down to you. You are in the driver's seat. You have choices and options, but in order to see those choices and options you have to create some awareness. As I mentioned in this week's audio message awareness is critical to creating change and to not only radiating beauty from the inside out, but attracting good things to you. There is beauty in taking responsibility for ourselves.

    Next, it's being committed to being our most authentic selves. It is all too easy to try and conform, conform to societal expectations or other people's opinions. This only serves to diminish and overshadow our true beauty and it sends a message not only to the world, but to ourselves that who we are just isn't beautiful enough and NOTHING could be farther from the truth. When we can be who we are and know that it is enough, that's when we begin to share our inner beauty.

    It's also about realizing that there is no such thing as perfect so it's time to release the pressure and stop striving for perfection. I once had a student share a quote with me that really hit home; "Perfection is just a form of self abuse." Hearing that completely rocked my world, especially since I will admit that I am a recovered perfectionista of the highest order. Striving for perfection really equates to (yet again) telling yourself that you aren't good enough as you are. That's not only degrading, but it's deprecating, and it truly stifles your own inner beauty.

    And lastly, it's being willing to be vulnerable. What does it mean to be vulnerable? First and foremost, it means accepting that you are amazing, imperfections and all. It means knowing that you are more than enough now and that you always have been. It means being open to sharing with your whole heart regardless of what others say, do, think or feel.

    While it may be scary and while vulnerability gets a bad rap, it's actually a beautiful place to come from. As difficult as it may be, when we are vulnerable we are able to reach out to others for support and assistance without feeling guilty, and most importantly, we come from our hearts rather than our heads where ego lives.

    Please know something, being vulnerable does not mean becoming a doormat or being perceived as weak. As a matter of fact, to be vulnerable requires strength and the internal fortitude to stand strong in your own beliefs and in who you are.


    * Set an intention for yourself, i.e. what you wish to create for yourself by the end of this course. It's time to name it and claim it!
    * How do you define beauty?
    * Based on your definition, list all the ways in which you are beautiful.
    * Lastly, jot down all the things that stand in your way of fully sharing your beauty with the world.

    Once you have created awareness, notice the options and the choices that become available to you. Remember, you are responsible and that's a beautiful thing!


    Recognizing Your Value - A Matter of Significance

     Change your thinking to knowing that your life matters and that you are important.

    It can be easy sometimes to buy into the illusion of our own insignificance. We may see large corporations or institutions, celebrities or successful people in our community, and compare ourselves to them, thinking that their fame or material power affirm how little our own lives amount to. But nothing could be further from the truth. Every single one of us matters--tremendously. Our very existence affects countless people in countless ways. And because we are each essentially a microcosm of the larger universe, our internal experiences affect the whole of life more than we could ever imagine. The world simply could not exist as it does now if you, or any one of us, were not in it.

    Perhaps you are aware that on some level you believe your life does not matter. If this thought resonates within you, maybe it is time to explore why you feel this way. You may have formed self-rejecting or belittling beliefs as a child to keep yourself safe or to help you make sense of confusing situations. You may have felt unseen or unheard and decided that there was something wrong with you, rather than with the attention span of the people around you. Spend some time looking into where these feelings of insignificance first took root, and see what changes you might be able to make in your life and in your heart.

    This one belief in your own unimportance could be limiting you and impacting your life in enormous ways. When you shift your perceptions around your own ability to affect your life and impact the world, you may discover wonderful parts of yourself that you had long ago forgotten. There may even be exciting new parts that you never even knew existed. When you gain awareness of how much your life really does matter, new sources of energy can emerge and your sense of connection with the world is renewed.

    by Madisyn Taylor  

    Monday, October 31, 2016

    Seven Important Lessons From World Religions


    It doesn’t matter if you’re an atheist, devout follower of your faith, an agnostic or something in between — there’s wisdom to be learnt from the world’s religions. Here are some of the most important, universally applicable teachings from sacred texts everyone would benefit from learning.
    I’m not a theologian by any means, but comparative religion has been an interest of mine for more than two decades. Reading The World’s Wisdom by Philip Novak, The Enlightened Mind compiled by Stephen Mitchell, and other such compilations of the world’s religious traditions, the one thing that has struck me most is the common themes running through them all — stories of community, of treating others with respect and of finding your purpose in life.
    Putting aside differing beliefs — about the afterlife, the nature of the divine, and religious rituals — we can all glean life lessons from ancient scriptures. Here are some of the most notable ones from Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism (I’m choosing the most “popular” religions here based on the number of people adhering to these faiths and my familiarity with them, but also including other religions like Judaism and Sikhism where I have more information.)

    1. The Golden Rule

    If there’s any universal truth or common teaching across various religions, it’s probably the golden rule: Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself. As TeachingValues.com points out, this tenet is expressed in Christianity, Confuscianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism and Zoroastriantism.
    The Jewish Talmud, for example, says:
    What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.
    The Hindu Mahabharata declares:
    This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.
    And from the Islamic Sunnah:
    No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.
    In the secular world, this is called empathy, one of the most important skills you can learn both for your career and social life. It’s about understanding where the other person is coming from and, even more important, treating their concerns the way you would your own.

    2. Work for the Happiness of Others, Especially the Poor and Unfortunate

    This teaching is similar to the golden rule, but expressly asks us to look out for others less fortunate than us. Studies have found that the most successful people tend to be givers rather than takers, and religions advocate this idea of selflessness and charity.
    Buddha’s final instructions on “the mission” set before us, for example, is to work for the happiness of others:
    Go your ways, oh monks, for the benefit of many, for the happiness of many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit and happiness of gods and men.
    The Bible also preaches concern for the unfortunate:
    If…there is a needy person among you…do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs. For there will never cease to be needy ones in your land, which is why I command you: open your hand to the poor and needy…
    Albert Einstein went so far as to declare that Judaism isn’t really a religion, but a tradition that celebrates the beauty of every single life:
    Judaism appears to me to be almost exclusively concerned with the moral attitude in and toward life. […] The essence of the Jewish concept of life seems to me to be the affirmation of life for all creatures. […} There remains, however, something more in the Jewish tradition, so gloriously revealed in certain of the psalms; namely a kind of drunken joy and surprise at the beauty and incomprehensible sublimity of this world, of which man can attain but a faint intimation. It is the feeling from which genuine research draws its intellectual strength, but which also seems to manifest itself in the song of birds…
    Caring for the unfortunate is one of the founding tenets of Sikhism, as CNN reports:
    “(Founder) Guru Nanak said that if you want to meet God, serve the poor people,” Johar says.
    Gurdwaras around the world variously incorporate clinics, schools, guest quarters and community centres, which Sikhs say is a sign of the religion’s values of service and equality.
    And, as Zeeshan Rasool shared with me, Islamic prophets also emphasise the importance of being a beacon for others (and turning the other cheek, as Jesus exemplified):
    “Be like the flower that gives its fragrance to even the hand that crushes it.” – Imam Ali ibn

    3. Focus on the Present

    As much as religions preach about the afterlife, they also emphasise making the most of the time we have available now (and isn’t that the point of all our productivity hacks?).
    Buddhism’s emphasis on mindfulness and meditation might be the most prominent examples, but other religions also encourage us to savour the moment and sharpen our awareness.
    Tyler Lear, a former theology student, notes, for example, that Hinduism is hinged on your “rightful stage” or life priority at the time:
    In Vedic Hinduism (there are significant aspects in modern versions of Hinduism and Indian culture in general, but it’s not as hard-and-fast as it’s represented in the Vedas), there are four life stages: student, householder, retiree, renouncer. […] These stages do not necessarily have to all be completed in a lifetime; in fact, it could take several lifetimes to work through a single stage, depending on the person. When one was acting within one’s rightful stage (i.e. a householder doing their best to raise their family, work hard, and earn lots of money or a renouncer praying and meditating, having as little to do with other humans as possible), then one is actively contributing to the cosmic order. In other words, if you do what you’re supposed to do according to your stage (among other things, like caste, etc.), you’re helping hold the universe together.
    Bottom line: Everyone’s at a different place in life, with different priorities, and that’s a good thing.
    The Hindu Svetesvatara Upanishad recommends the “quiet retreat of Yoga“:
    Find a quiet retreat for the practice of Yoga, sheltered from the wind, level and clean, free from rubbish, smouldering fires, and ugliness, and where the sound of waters and the beauty of the place help thought and contemplation.
    And Jesus told his followers:
    Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow shall take thought of the things for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
    In other words, worrying is a pretty useless pasttime. The only things you’ll actually regret on your deathbed are things like not expressing your feelings and sacrificing family time for work.

    4. Aim for Achievements, Not Money

    More money doesn’t always mean more happiness — an idea most religions are happy to point out. Stop running after material things, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism agree.
    Imam Ali ibn abi Talib says:
    “The parable of this world is like your shadow – If you stop, it stands still. If you chase it, it distances itself from you.”
    Money can also distract you from the bigger picture, as Jesus said:
    It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
    That’s not to say we have to cast off all material possessions. Buddhism teaches the joy of not being in debt and finding your career path. Still, the things that make us happiest in life are not things we can add up with a calculator.

    5. Interact with the Community

    Religious practice forces you out of your shell (if you’re the type, like me, to have a social shell). That’s a good thing, because shared religious beliefs or not, we all depend on each other to not just survive but also thrive.
    A Jewish rabbi, through Tyler Lear, pointed out that community is the defining trait of Judaism:
    There are many different ways to be Jewish, including atheist Jews, but the people are really what bring everything together. They share a common history and (in most ways) a common culture. [Side note: this is one of the biggest issues with people converting to Judaism; if you have to convert, you weren’t part of the community to begin with, which makes sharing in that common background far harder.]
    Bottom line: Life is about the people you’re with, a sense of community with those around you; nothing else matters nearly as much.
    Other religions also emphasise this. Islam’s five daily prayer practices, for example, bring followers together throughout the day, as do other religion’s formal, regular services. My favourite part of Catholic mass has always been that “peace be with you” shaking of hands with the strangers in your pew — I bestow peace on you, you bestow it on me, and at least in that moment everything is right with the world. Being an active participant in the community might not come naturally to many of us, but at the very least, religion reminds us that we are not alone.

    6. Take Responsibility for Your Actions

    “What goes around, comes around.” Most religions have their own interpretation of karma and warn followers that your choices and actions have consequences.
    Karma yoga is perhaps the central teaching from Hinduism’s Bhagavad Gita. It’s not the action itself that matters, but the quality of mind behind your actions that bind you. Act for the sake of acting, without desire for the rewards (Getting started is everything.):
    If one identifies with one’s actions, desiring certain results, one is bound to that action-pattern and doomed to rebirth. However, if one acts earnestly but without attachment to results, performing every action as an offering to God, knowing that God alone is the only Actor, one proceeds on the path to liberation.
    The core doctrine of Buddhism also teaches in the Eightfold Path that:
    All beings are the owners of their deeds (karma), the heirs of their deeds; their deeds are the womb from which they sprang…Whatever deeds they do — good or evil — of such they will be the heirs.
    GotQuestions.org interprets karma for Christians — essentially, you reap what you sow:
    The Bible talks a lot about reaping and sowing. Job 4:8 says, “As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.”Psalm 126:5 says, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” […] In each of these instances, as well as all the other references to reaping and sowing, the act of receiving the rewards of your actions takes place in this life, not in some future life. It is a present-day activity, and the references make it clear that the fruit you reap will be commensurate with the actions you have performed. In addition, the sowing you perform in this life will affect your reward or punishment in the afterlife.

    7. Know Yourself (Make Up Your Own Mind)

    Many people associate religion with indoctrination, but if you study the texts from the world’s major religions, they actually advocate looking within yourself to make up your own mind — and maybe find your spiritual core within yourself.
    My favourite Zen story is this:
    A monk asked Seon Master Un-mun, “What is Buddha?”
    The master replied, “Dried shit on a stick.”
    And also:
    Even though religions have very structured practices, self-reflection Is strongly encouraged.
    John Calvin’s Christian writings in Institutes proclaims:
    Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists in two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves (Institutes, 1.1.1).
    Calvin argued that one could not truly know God without knowing oneself and that one couldn’t truly know oneself without knowing God. Calvin acknowledged the obvious dilemma in saying, “which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern.”
    And Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib advises:
    “One who often thinks and reflects develops his foresight and vision.”
    Stay curious and keep questioning — but also don’t discount the wisdom of the ages.

    Source: http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2014/08/seven-important-lessons-from-world-religions-everyone-should-know/