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What are Spiritual Partnerships?

What are Spiritual Partnerships?

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Spiritual partnerships are the most fulfilling, substantive, and deep relationships possible. They are relationships between equals for the purpose of spiritual growth. Growing spiritually means creating a life of more joy and less pain, more meaning and less emptiness, and more love and less fear. As we become aware of ourselves as more than we once thought that we were—and this is happening to millions of people—we long for relationships that are the most meaningful and rewarding possible, that support us in becoming healthy, vibrant, creative, and loving. These are spiritual partnerships.

You can create spiritual partnerships within your family, with your friends, your coworkers, your neighbors, and with another individual as a couple. No matter who the spiritual partner or spiritual partners are, the spiritual partnership operates the same way. It is a vehicle that supports the partners in it to become more aware of their emotions, to become more aware of their intentions, and in making the most healthy choices that they can, choices that will create consequences for which they are willing to assume responsibility.

My spiritual partner Linda Francis and I have been together for 17 years. We are married, yet we see our relationship as a spiritual partnership, and we see ourselves as spiritual partners. I am committed to my spiritual growth, and Linda is committed to hers. I am responsible for my spiritual growth, and Linda is responsible for hers. Yet I support her in growing spiritually and she supports me. We began creating spiritual partnerships with our granddaughters when they were 6 and 8.

Who are the spiritual partners in your life?

Love.
Linda & Gary
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The Winter Solstice

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At the Winter Solstice the night is longest and the day is shortest. Cold envelops the Earth, trees are naked, the sky is grey, and the ground is frozen. When my life feels like that, even in the summer when the sun is bright and the breeze is warm, a Winter Solstice is there for me, offering profound opportunities for spiritual growth. The Winter Solstice is that time in anyone and everyone when no hope remains, all is lost and beyond recovery, and the land is barren to the horizon. A divorce, the death of a child, the failure of a business, loss of a job, foreclosure—the ocean of grief is bottomless in this dark and cold time.

Yet a Summer Solstice follows every Winter Solstice, just as a Winter Solstice follows every Summer Solstice. One cannot exist without the other. When death and desolation engulf all in the Winter Solstice, life and hope infuse all in the Summer Solstice.

How painful would it be to cling to the Summer Solstice or imagine that the Winter Solstice will last forever? When we plunge into frozen darkness with each tragedy or explode into happiness with each accomplishment, we miss the meaning of the solstices. They show us the changing nature of our experiences. They are parts of our experience but they are not who we are. We do not need to plunge into despair each time darkness arrives or pretend that sunlight and warmth will fill our days forever.

Cultivating love and challenging fear are choices. If we make them unconsciously, we journey through our lives forever fleeing the cold and seeking the warmth, fleeing pain and seeking joy. But we can choose consciously. We cannot control the weather—death, loss, and illness come—but we can choose our internal climate—love or fear.

The Winter Solstice is an opportunity to choose consciously.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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Now and Forever the Deepest Cause

Now and Forever the Deepest Cause

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Blaming right wing politicians and commentators for the Arizona massacre, even those that are righteously brutal, cruel, and inciting to violence, deflects attention from its real cause. Blaming anyone always deflects attention from the real cause.

Like our dysfunctioning economy, schools, health care, and businesses, the killing and maiming in Arizona has a deeper and more difficult cause to address than a mentally disturbed boy-man and vicious TV analysts. They are our proxy actors. What we feel fuels them, as it fueled the young men who flew airplanes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

The war on terror is a temporary solution for a problem that is not temporary and cannot be solved by previous means. The deepest cause cannot be eliminated by legislation, force of arms, or moral persuasion because it is within us.

A new understanding of power is replacing the understanding that underlies our social structures, such as education, health care, business, and economic and permeates our interpersonal structures. The old power now produces only violence and destruction.

We alone can create the new power. The change begins inside or it does not begin. And each of us must make the change in ourselves or we will continue to contribute violence to the human experience.

The old understanding is power as the ability to manipulate and control. The new understanding is power as the alignment of your personality with the highest part of yourself that you can reach for the part that intends harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life. It is not alignment of the highest part of ourselves that we can reach for, but the highest part of YOURself.

Creating authentic power is intensely personal, entirely voluntarily, and necessary for our evolution.

Our means of evolving has changed. Our awareness is expanding.

Our responsibility for the violence in our world is becoming clear. Only we can remove it, and only in ourselves.

What will your choice be?

Love.
Linda & Gary
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Signal and Noise

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The signal-to-noise ratio tells us how clearly we receive information. Little noise and mostly signal is good. Satellite, cell phone, and TV reception are clear. Static, cross-talk, and other signals are bad. The signal is blocked.

Anger, jealousy, superiority, entitlement, inferiority, need to please, obsessive thoughts (She’s so stupid; I’m so stupid), compulsive activities (workaholism; perfectionism), and addictive behaviors (smoking; pornography; overeating) are noise.

Love is the signal.

The only way to receive the signal is to eliminate the noise and fear. The spiritual signal-to-noise ratio is the love-to-fear ratio in your life. Only you can improve it. If you want to hear the signal better, reduce the noise. If you want to experience your love, challenge your fear.

That is creating authentic power. When you create authentic power, your signal-to-noise ratio improves.

When you become authentically powerful, your signal is loud and clear twenty-four seven.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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A Safer And Better World With Or Without Osama Bin Laden

A Safer And Better World With Or Without Osama Bin Laden

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The world is not a better or safer place because Osama bin Laden is gone from it. Nothing has changed. Violence has created violence, which has created violence, in an endless chain whose origin is insignificant. What matters is what we do now. That is always what matters. Shall we hate those who hate us or shall we love them? If we hate those who hate, what is the difference between us and them? Shall we love only those who deserve it? Who look like us? Who believe like us? If we love those who, like us, are born and will die; who, like us, cry when they are frightened; who, like us, lash out in pain when they feel powerless, who would we not love?

From the distorted perceptions of fear, forgiving the unforgivable is unforgivable. The choice between love and fear is always with us. Often we choose fear, but we do not need to. Unchallenged fear of the pain of powerlessness, of the pain of humiliation, of the pain of loss moves us forward and we create more violence and the chain grows. Forgiveness does not mean freeing a killer or ignoring a bully. It means putting down the burden of your hate and relieving yourself of the pain it creates in you. Bin Laden is dead but you are alive. Who is suffering from the pain of your hatred for him now? How long will you continue? Who else are you not forgiving? Out of the past fear encircles us, emerges into the present, and from there grows into the future where our children will reflect our own fear back to us in the violence that they will do when they encounter the unforgivable. But they do not need to. They could reflect back to us a world of love if we are willing to show them a world of love now.

What would that world look like? How would it perceive Osama bin Laden? Would it rejoice at his death? Would a world of love meet fear with fear or would it replace fear with love? How much courage would it take you to do that?

Love.
Linda & Gary

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The IMF, Sex, And Authentic Power

The IMF, Sex, And Authentic Power

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The worlds of politics and gossip are fixated on the arrest and indictment of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for multiple first-degree felony counts, including committing a criminal sex act, attempted rape and sexual abuse – all on a maid in a $3,000.00 a night hotel suite during a visit to New York City. The International Monetary Fund is a prestigious organization in global economics. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was also the most likely politician to unseat President Nicolas Sarkozy in the coming French elections. In short, he could have been (and many thought he would have been) the next President of France. What could he have wanted that he could not have bought or manipulated for himself? What drove him to impose himself upon a fellow human in such a brutal way?

What drove President Bill Clinton to have sex in the White House with a young woman while he was the most publically scrutinized person in the world? What could have driven him to have sex with a young woman under any circumstances? What drove Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to have sex with a house keeper who tended his wife and children for two decades and who worked in the same house with them? What drove a US Senator to seek gay sex from an unknown man – who turned out to be a police officer – in an airport restroom and the Governor of New York to buy sex from a young female prostitute while he campaigned against immorality? What attracted these powerful people to risk everything and then to loose everything?

Perhaps they were not powerful at all. How could they be powerful if the opportunity for sex attracted them more than creating world peace, eradicating hunger and disease, healing the environment, freeing the oppressed, protecting the defenseless, and contributing to the collective well-being in ways they were privileged to do? How could they be powerful if grasping for sex was more important to them than their families, children, and those who trusted them? Each was extraordinarily successful at manipulation and control, but as millions of us are now understanding, the ability to manipulate and control is not authentic power. It is only power over things external, such as people and circumstances. External power comes and goes, as Mr. Strauss-Kahn has discovered and those who are following his self-created difficulties are witnessing.

The only thing that Dominique Strauss-Kahn could have wanted that external power could not have attained for him was a sense of self-worth, of belonging to Life, of being lovable and loving. These are experiences of authentic power. They must be created and the process is as challenging as it is transformative. It is the journey from unempowered to empowered, from victim to creator, from emptiness to meaning, and from pain to joy. Raping a maid cannot produce it. Directing the International Monetary Fund cannot produce it. Even becoming President of the United States cannot produce it.

This is a time to learn about ourselves, not to condemn these men. Where and when did you last impose yourself on a partner, child, colleague, or stranger in order to feel safe and valuable, even if only for a moment? In other words, when did you last act on anger, jealousy, resentment, superiority, or inferiority? Their acts are condemnable, but these men are not. They chose to pursue external power instead of create authentic power. We face the same challenges as they, and sometimes we make the same decisions they made. We can learn about ourselves from them and apply what we learn to consciously create a better, more aware, and healthier world.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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Gratitude for Oprah

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Oprah first called me a few years after The Seat of the Soul was published. I lived in a small mountain town, I didn’t have a TV, and the town cable didn’t offer ABC anyway, so I didn’t recognize her name when she called. We talked another time or two over the next seven or so years, but I was entrenched in the back country resolutely avoiding my responsibility to support people who, like me, had become aware of the enormous transformation of humanity that is underway. Oprah was one of them. She helped me change that in a big way.

From our first meeting I was touched by her warm and immediate presence, interest in me, and awesome capability to create and utilize global enterprises to lovingly support as well as entertain her ever-growing audience, of which I became a part. While recording The Oprah Winfrey Show, she planned and launched O Magazine. Excuse me, she would say after a meeting on our next show, I have to get to my night job. Then came Oxygen, a satellite radio channel, a girls school in South Africa, OWN, and many TV and film productions all contributing directly to the collective well-being. How many people do you know who use their creativity in such a focused way for the benefit of all?

I have been impressed by her courage as well as her compassion. I have watched, along with millions of viewers, as she brought adversaries together on the same show to search for the best that each have to share, and asked direct and probing questions to racial bigots without rancor or judgment.

She has shared things with me off-hand that helped reshape my perceptions dramatically. For example, when a national magazine clamored for an interview with me (a new experience for a back-country recluse), I called Oprah for an opinion. Is just cotton candy, Gary. It’s just cotton candy. Most people spend their lives grasping for this candy recognition, fame, wealth, the ability to impress, manipulate, and control. Oprah does not, and that may be what drew her so strongly to The Seat of the Soul. Whatever temptations she experiences, she does not allow fear to express itself in her creations. They are expressions of love instead. Since we know that everyone experiences fear, we know that Oprah’s continual gifts of love are also challenges to whatever fears come to torment and distract her from her chosen course.

This is what I am most grateful to Oprah for. Thank you Oprah, for all that you have helped me experience and accomplish and all the gifts that you have given me and our fellow students in the Earth school. Thank you for helping seed the idea of authentic power in the Earth school. It is a joy to be a student with you.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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Compassion and Congress

Compassion and Congress

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As anger at the taxpayer-funded salvage of America’s largest banks and most inefficient industries exploded into rage over enormous reductions in care to the most vulnerable people in America – the young, poor, ill, and frail – the focus of rage and ridicule has become Congress.In a simpler time, addressing self-serving members of Congress might have been effective. But the times are now different. Many Americans assume that unrestrained corporate contributions lie beneath the dysfunction of Congress. In a simpler time, addressing these activities might have been effective. But the times are now different. A very few individuals and most large corporations now possess a hugely disproportionate amount of the wealth of America while millions of Americans plummet once unthinkably from middle class into poverty, but that is not what makes the times different.

The times are different because our way of evolving has changed. Relationships and institutions that are built on old values and perceptions have increasingly become dysfunctional, and this is now impossible to ignore. These growing dysfunctions are not limited to America. They are appearing world wide. The old perceptions include power as the ability to manipulate and control, and the old values are competition, discord, hoarding, and exploitation of one another, the Earth, and all else that can be exploited. All of this has now become obsolete and counterproductive to our evolution. New perceptions that are emerging in their place include power as the alignment of the personality with the soul, and our new values are becoming harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life. Our evolution now requires these things. In other words, old ways no longer work, and that is why anger and rage at self-serving individuals and institutions is useless and destructive. It produces only more of the same – anger, rage, and self-service. It imposes one will upon another, and that now prevents our evolution.

Our new way of evolving has created a startling insight: If we have no compassion for those who have no compassion, we become like them. We contribute the same as they to the human experience. We fuel them. They become proxy actors for our own greed, righteousness, opportunism, and lack of compassion. Even more startling is a new perception of social activism is emerging the creation of compassion in myself. To consciously develop the abilities to think, speak, and act without making others villains for the unavoidable reason that when we see others as villains no matter how callous, self-serving, brutal, or destructive their actions are – we see ourselves as victims.

Developing compassion for Congress and politicians is a good way to begin practicing the new social activism, if you want to make effective changes in the world. Perhaps the most startling new insight of all is that there is no other way to effectively change the world.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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The Way You Sing It

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A friend took a trip to New Orleans after Katrina. He is a jazz musician and singer. He has been most of his life, and he feels that jazz is the greatest thing that has happened in America. Playing in a club with local musicians, he was invited to join the second line of a funeral the next day, a gig that paid him $150, some food, and another chance to play the jazz he loves.

The first line in a New Orleans funeral is the mourners. They grieve, cry, and remind everyone of what is happening. The second line is the musicians. They begin the procession with a dirge, stopping at clubs and bars along the way where they are fed and given drink. As the procession continues, the dirge slowly morphs into an unabashed celebration. “It’s the same song!” he exclaimed.

My friend knows grief and mourning. I met him at a memorial jam for his son, also a musician, who died young with cancer. Musicians who had played with him over the years, and also with his son, gathered with their horns, guitars, keyboards, and drums. “Jazz is pure America,” he said. “A community of equals that keeps creating something entirely new together.” They played through the evening. Then they showed us the second line, beginning with a mournful song that ever so slowly, and then with enthusiasm, transformed into an uplifting joy that swept us all into it. How could the same sad song become a song so joyful?

Some say that life is a sad song. Others say it is joyful. I say its not the song, it’s the way you sing it.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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Occupy Wall Street – A Thousand Thanks

Occupy Wall Street – A Thousand Thanks

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A thousand thanks to the people in Liberty Plaza and places like it who are giving voice to much that is destructive and painful about our social structures and what lies beyond them. Your presence and courage and commitment are water to the great tree of awareness and freedom that will grow if it is tended carefully. Fortunately, each of us is responsible for tending it. Freedom from fear is the only freedom that now unlocks the prisons of hatred, violence, prejudice, and greed. The kindness of some police officers in NYC is on display to the world and so is the brutality of others. The greed of banks that engorge themselves on the losses of millions of people are on display around the world, and so also are the alternative social structures that will replace them. A thousand thanks are not enough for the glimpses of these emerging structures you are giving us.

You are showing us new forms of cocreation that are built on harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life and contrasting them with old forms that are built on manipulation and control. These new social structures are taking root in Liberty Plaza and places like it and in millions of us as we watch and hold the vision of a new world, a world without victims and without villains, a world where heinous policies are relentlessly uprooted and destroyed and where the people who create and execute them are not hated but constrained appropriately (think of handcuffs and bars). In short, a world of love, growing out of awareness and responsibility, consciously constructed with intentions of love, a world with the courage to experience fear fully such as anger, vengefulness, and righteousness challenge it by not acting on it, and cultivate love instead.

This new world will emerge strong and healthy from the decay of the old world not because the dying world is supported by a wealthy few while billions of us are eager for the new world. It will replace the old world because billions of us will tend the tree daily, even in difficult times, challenging hatred, anger, greed, and revenge in ourselves by choosing awareness and love instead. In short, the new world will grow strong and healthy while the old world dies because the old world is based on fear and the new world is built on love, clear, conscious, responsible, courageous, and capable.

Love.
Linda & Gary