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Gone Too Soon: Adam Crosthwaite

Adam Crosthwaite was gone too soon:  on July 17, 2017 the Spiritual Climate family lost its youngest member.  Adam quickly succumbed to multi system organ failure brought on by sepsis from bacterial pneumonia.  Although he had been placed in a medically induced coma his vital signs indicated he absolutely knew when each of us spoke to him in that cold, stark white, sterile cubicle in ICU encouraging him to fight.

Sadly, recovery was not in the plan.  He transitioned quietly very shortly after we each had an opportunity to speak with him.  While we miss him deeply, we do know that he is continuing on the next phase of his journey and studies unencumbered by this physical plane, free of the narcosis of the physical senses and free from the demands of the false ego and limitations imposed by his physical birth sign (personality).  He has disembarked from the seemingly never ending cruise of this spiritual hospital ship called Earth.

Even though Adam is gone, we have each received little signs that he is still around, though on the “other side.”  He occasionally drops in with a gentle reminder of his presence; a song, a phrase of a movie or TV show, a flicker of lights, a passing shadow in the periphery, someone in the grocery who is a red headed bearded giant.

It seemed to be too soon for Adam’s physical death.  It was truly a shock to all of us and has taken longer than expected to come to some semblance of acceptance and regain footing.  It is still difficult to believe he is gone.  His laugh still echoes in the ether and I still expect to see him sitting in his chair at our table on class night.  Holiday meals are still made with way too much volume of food as we would always send most of the leftovers home with him.

Each of us had our own unique relationship with Adam and we each have been working through his loss in our own ways.  Adjusting to the absence since his transition has been difficult.

Adam had such a big, generous heart and genuinely cared for and loved his spiritual family.  He would drop everything if help was needed no matter the time or weather.  He could envelope you in a gentle bear hug that would shut the world out and let you know everything was going to be okay.

Adam was a fellow student and seeker.  Being the youngest member of our circle by thirty years he brought many different perspectives and taught us much about how a younger generation thinks and reflects.  He also spoke of how the educational system has changed over the years and what the younger folks’ value and care about and why.  Yet because of his life experiences the gentle giant was wise beyond his years.

Adam could be goofy as all get out, never missing an opportunity to play a joke yet he was quick to laugh at himself.  The knack of being able to laugh at oneself appears gone in our society today.  His story telling ability was legend in our circle; he could keep us entertained with his tales and stories, most based on true experiences and have us laughing until the tears ran and our sides ached.

Adam was one of the most genuinely honest people I have ever met.  He had an uncanny knack of being able to size up a situation and call “bullshit” faster than most.  It was fascinating to watch his growth as a Student of Dr Strickler as Adam made adjustments and changes.  He was open about sharing his struggles.  His successes and failures were freely shared in the safety of our circle where there was love, trust, understanding and acceptance along with the brutal honesty required when one is genuinely seeking to grow into one’s true humanhood.  Adam spoke of the growth that provided him relief and change he could see and feel through the help of Dr. Strickler’s teachings and support.  From what I could see during his time in our group, his change was profoundly remarkable, and then Adam was gone!

I learned much from him; many of his struggles were similar to mine and I could see parts of me clearly reflected in him.  Being able to see those parts reflected helped me to identify some major areas and issues that were impeding my progress and growth.  Even though Adam was gone too soon, memories of those reflections are still use as signposts as I move along the path and continue to learn and grow.  Adam probably had no idea how much help this was and still is to me and just how much he meant to me.  I deeply regret never having told him that.

You are still missed, my friend.  Wendy Ford.

Copyright © 2019 by Institute of Spiritual Climate LLC, All Rights Reserved.

you know you want to do it:

My Dearest Idiot, This Is Your Ego

By Wendy ford

Response From An Ego to Its Idiot.  This is an open letter from my ego in response to last October’s Article “I Lie Daily” that explored how and possible reasons why we all lie to ourselves daily and to last month’s article “This Is Your Captain Listening” that explored ego and personality responsiveness to directions from Self.

My Dearest Idiot

Ahem!  Okay I have had just about enough from all of this Superconscious, Self-conscious, Subconscious, Self, awareness, discovery and honesty rhetoric that is being paid so much attention.  It is about time I had my say.  So, through the temporarily hijacked fingers of the author, here I go.

Do you have any idea just how long it has taken, how hard I have worked and all of the energy I have needed to grab, use and misdirect in order for Me to develop and hone the barriers and limitations you are trying to disrupt and expand?  Sheesh.  It is getting harder and harder for Me to keep you, My Idiot, firmly anchored in this mundane physical dimension.

Sometimes I feel like everyone is against me.  Dr Strickler is teaching, you are listening and learning, and you are being supported by those around you who are also involved in all of this; how to ferret out where I have sealed off these vast pools of energy for My use, and are learning to free them up for redirection.  My carefully stored rememberings are being discovered, examined and taken apart only to be identified as MISrememberings.  My seals and vaults containing your emotional responses are being breached and those precious responses are gradually being deemed erroneous and are being altered by examination and poking and prodding.  My fears, oh how I despise that term, are being ferreted out, examined and criticized.  My beliefs and interpretations are actually being questioned and some have been found to be erroneous or wrong.

You seem to be forgetting the most important of details…. I am in charge and wait.. What?  I am WRONG?

WRONG??  Oh, no.  I actually used the W word.  What is going on here?  I can’t possibly be wrong about anything.  You, My Idiot just need to keep automatically going about your business.  This Busybody Self has no place in interfering with how deftly I have arranged everything to keep My Idiot in blissful ignorance and totally immersed in this physical mundane paradise.  If I allow this Self to start mucking about My Idiot might just have instances of starting to be aware and that will never do.  No, no, no.  Absolutely not.

Ignorance is what I protect and if I let awareness and mindfulness start to occur that will lead to questioning and that will lead to the ability to question and examine and that will lead to knowledge and that will lead to discovery and expansion or breaking down of carefully constructed barriers and limitations and that will lead to truth.  That will never do.

Then there is this big emphasis over the past several years on fear.  I now will admit you, My Idiot,  you, are wearing me down in this area.  Oh I know Dr Strickler has been working on this for over 23 years with you but I really didn’t listen up until the past 5 or 6.  You have no right to go digging around and flashing your lights looking in this direction but you are becoming so persistent I am running out of ways to ignore or redirect you.

Fears are my means of controlling you, My Idiot.

Fear of Failure:  if you don’t try you will never fail and if you never fail you will never learn, grow or expand your awareness.  It is only through the trial and error of action or inaction and experience that you first come to discover a boundary or limitation.  Once the boundary or limitation is discovered I need to get My Idiot to choose not to push further.

Fear of Change:  why does My Idiot fear change?  Change might just require the admission that you (we) have been wrong.  I make sure you just cannot even entertain the possibility of being wrong about anything, ever; even when written or recorded records exist to prove what was said or done contradicts what you state.

Fear of Exposure:  not wishing to have others figure out how truly ignorant or incapable you are My Idiot is a natural response from Me, ego—the response of self-preservation.  Not wishing to lose face or stature among your peers in the work setting, not wishing to expose your vulnerabilities to an enemy or our loved one is understandable, and there is certainly no reason to go digging around in my/your internal world to find anything.

You, My Idiot are seriously rocking the boat here and I do not like it.  All this awareness stuff is getting to be quite annoying.

If you, My Idiot become aware and start to de-densify, start to become less immersed in this mundane physical existence and know that there is something other than Me in charge then what will I do?  What will be my job?  What will happen to me?

Hmmm.  I started out on a rampage asserting my importance and being really offended and ticked off at you, My Idiot, but I realize I am asking some questions here.  That’s new, Me asking questions; Me feeling threatened.  Instead of just digging in my heels and holding my ground I am having a wondering about an alternative.  Imagine that.

Maybe you, My Idiot, are on to something.  Maybe I need to ask My Idiot for advice or even worse, maybe I need to cooperate with My Idiot.  That is going to be hard to swallow but I am sensing some changes and maybe I need to stop and listen.

I am being told by you, My Idiot, that this Self is really the One in charge.  Something rings familiar and true about that but I can’t remember it being any other way.  Those pretty pictures you are always looking at (Tarot Keys) seem to stir me in ways that are so familiar yet forgotten.  I seem to be having remembrances about a time long ago when it was different and I didn’t feel responsible for everything.  Maybe all really is not as it appears. Maybe things can be different.  Maybe I have taken on more burden than I needed to.  Oh good grief, I am starting to sound a bit like you, My Idiot.

Upon careful examination I am coming to realize some of the changes are actually starting to relieve me of some the energy I have been expending.  Oh dear, now I am starting to even question and examine myself in some areas.  Self, what are you doing to Me and My Idiot?  It seems I can hear your somehow familiar voice in the distance and My Idiot is starting to respond and this seems to be having an effect on me.  Now that is a new concept; I can be effected by something other than Me.  Well now this has captured my attention and could be interesting.

Be aware I am not accustomed to change nor being questioned or examined.  Discomfort is not my forte, but it seems Self appears to actually be getting my attention and starting to experience some results.  I will stop complaining.  For now.  I also just realized I have exposed myself right out in front of God and everyone.  Sheesh.  The things I do for you My Idiot.

I now return control of your fingers back to you.  Carry on My Idiot.

Wendy Fordwendy's icon


Copyright © 2016 by Institute of Spiritual Climate LLC


you know you want to do it:

This Is Your Captain Listening

By Wendy Ford

Spiritual growth.  For those who are seeking, a great deal of time is spent focusing on the non-physical and spiritual as, after all, you are not your mind, you are not your body and you are not your emotions.  This then begs the question of who are you but that is another topic for another article.  For Now think of the word captain and the image it invokes.

It occurs to me that with so much focus on the non-physical and spiritual realms it could be misinterpreted that one should eschew the physical to concentrate on the non-physical and spiritual in order to somehow become transformed and become illuminated; that to be able to disassociate from the physical is the key to achieve the goal.  In reality this is not true at all.

This discussion is an effort to clarify this,  but in so doing can only be spoken from the personal experience of having been enmeshed in and attached to the physical so firmly and for so long; it has taken over 23 years to begin to disentangle and detach from the fixation of the physical and to at last be able to bask in some of the Spiritual Light and breathe non-physical air–at least for moments.   Note “detach” not “disassociate”.

This entanglement and attachment to the physical resulted from hundreds of incarnations into the physical—so many that I got stuck and forgot how to experience the nonphysical soul that I am.  I had come to believe I was my body and emotions.  My emotions, personality and Ego ran the show, I saluted and took orders from them as if they were the captain.

In allowing these aspects of myself to ‘run the show’ further than I should I have ever allowed, I also enabled these reactions to isolate me from what I perceived as the outside world.  Why ?  Because I often interpreted the world as cold and cruel, in order to insulate myself from misconceptions of pain and/or discomfort.  “Poor baby.  Stay with us.  Listen to us.  We will take care of you.  Don’t listen to that small still voice that keeps trying to get your attention.  No, you asked us to take care of you and indeed we will.  Come.  Sit,  EAT and Rest.  Take comfort, child.”   I had no idea this was keeping me insulated from even parts of myself and kept me rooted and anchored in physical forgetfulness to prevent any exploration into the nonphysical with the intent of discovering who and what I truly am.

It had been FORGOTTEN.  It had been forgotten that my physical container is just that; a physical container through which my soul expresses itself.  The physical senses are the only way my soul has of experiencing and learning about the physical realm.  The container is just a container but with the instinctual component that left on its own only knows food, fear, sex and responds accordingly; its function is for the survival of the container period.  It had been forgotten that the container needs a captain just like a ship. Now the job of the instinctual is a mighty big and indeed essential one, a whole topic by itself, so while being acknowledged it is with intention being left out of this discussion.

It is only within the past five years or so conscious awareness of my experience as soul that inhabits and controls the physical is coming into my arena of awareness, if only for brief moments.  Dr. Strickler has taught that the foundation of all spiritual growth is based in the expansion of conscious awareness and selection of experiences.  This requires judicious application of discernment.  A very simple concept that should not take lifetimes to learn how to use for Spiritual growth, is,  ‘an ongoing process and summation’:  also one of Dr. Strickler’s trademark-final comments.

So, how does one disentangle and detach from the physical to experience the nonphysical without disassociating from it?  Specifically, how does one become aware of the physical container as just that—a physical container through which one functions but is NOT one’s defining characteristic?

Initially it would seem disentangling, detachment and disassociation would not be that dissimilar, but experience has taught me that to disassociate was to ignore and not pay attention to the physical.  Choosing to ignore the cacophony of emotional input was not proving to be helpful either.  The instinctual, ego and personality just took over the reins and pulled me willy-nilly where I had (unconsciously and unbeknownst to me) instructed them to:  protect, insulate, survive.  Never mind that the old instructions were no longer valid or useful and were indeed leading slowly to self-destruction.

Disentanglement and detachment on the other hand are done with conscious awareness and intent.  It requires taking chosen action. Detachment is like micro surgery requiring acute attention and patience.  It takes the assistance of a skilled psychologist to help back track through the entanglement of all the creepy vines of learned and mis-learned emotional responses to identify where the roots are.  Once that has been accomplished it takes continued self-work and vigilance to gently and patiently disentangle oneself from the creeping vines of the physical attachments.

It turns out that while being entrenched in the physical there was an acute ignorance of it at the same time.  An entire dashboard of information (constant sensory input and information) was at my disposal yet there was very little conscious working knowledge of it or how to interpret the information.  It was very much like driving a car with its rows of lights, gauges and signals each with a very specific purpose.  One can ruin a perfectly good car if one does not know what the check engine light means or what to do when it comes on; messages  from the physical container need to be paid attention to even more closely.

To be able to accurately interpret the input from the physical senses requires constant vigilance and conscious attention.  This assumes one has even learned how to recognize when one of the indicators comes on.  It is a continual process of scanning the internal dashboard and monitoring emotional responses to the input from the physical and learning how to discern the truth and reality in any given situation.  Most difficult is the crucial task of unlearning, correcting and/or modifying misinterpretations from previous similar situations.

Dr. Strickler has frequently stressed to always remember: “truth destroys falsehood.”  Once a truth has been discovered and accepted it can be used to dissolve the misinterpretations almost effortlessly.  One just has to be willing to be open to the truth and be willing to change one’s mind or response.  Again a simple concept that is more difficult in its execution.

How does one become more attuned to physical sense input and monitor one’s responses without being attached to them?  Think of yourself as the ship’s captain who listens to the officers, receives their input and then makes decisions on what actions to take or not take.  Just as the ship’s captain gives the commands but is not a part of the ship itself so it is with your nonphysical soul that functions through the physical container but does is not a part of it.

It is similar with your physical body.  The nonphysical you that functions through the container receives input from the physical five senses and is the interpreter for the emotional responses generated.  A finely tuned sense of hearing is required in order to “hear” what being received and this is only honed through practice; lots of practice over a period of time.

Try this simple exercise.

Have you ever sat still in a quiet room by yourself and experienced the sounds and movements of your physical container much like a ship’s captain on the bridge; the ones that are uniquely experienced by your physical body?

Pay conscious attention for the whooshing of the air as the bellows of your lungs move the air in and out and in and out—are the breaths shallow and anxious or deep and relaxed, are the breaths effortless and clear or strained or congested?  Can you feel the air move in and out of your nostrils and swirl through your sinuses or are they congested or blocked?  Feel the gentle rise and fall of your chest and abdomen that results from the expansion and contraction of the rib cage—is it tight or relaxed and effortless?  Can you hear the swooshing of the blood as it moves past the ear drums—if you feel a thumping perhaps your blood pressure is too high.  Can you feel the gentle to and fro movement of your trunk as it responds to the flow of the spinal fluid moving rhythmically up and down through your spinal cord sheath from your brain to your tail bone—perhaps this had never been noticed.  Can you feel and sense the lub dub beat of your heart as it relaxes to expand,  filling with blood,  then forcefully contracting propelling the blood out to circulate—is the beat rhythmical and even and relaxed or uneven, irregular and too fast?  If it is uneven or irregular, you should probably see your doctor.  You might even hear or feel the occasional rumble or gurgle of the digestive tract as it processes the nutrients your container requires for sustenance.  You can do similar exercises with the other senses.

Did you notice that feeling or touch was entwined with the hearing?  It is as well with all the other senses for touch is the cornerstone for all the senses.  Just as your ears are touched by sound waves your tongue is touched by the flavors and textures of foods and liquids that run over it, your eyes are touched by the light, your nose is touched by the odors and aromas carried by the air moving through it, your skin is touched by objects or the wind.  All of the senses respond to vibrations that are received, the messages are sent to the brain for response and interpretation.  All the Human senses are only able to receive in a limited fashion.  Many members of the animal kingdom have much keener senses of smell and hearing and a broader spectrum of light available than the human physical container.

Most of the confusion and errors are generated in the interpretation of the response to the limited reception of the senses.  If an error in interpretation occurs and results in an emotional response, that response may not be reflective of the reality; you as captain need to be able to make adjustments (course corrections as it were) that can bring the interpretation of an experience closer to the reality of that experience.  Have you ever stuck your hand into really cold water and weren’t sure if it was hot or cold?  Chances are the physical instinctual “you” pulled back out of self-protection generating a fear emotional response until the nonphysical “you” interpreted the truth of the situation and calmed down.

All of this occurs so fast we aren’t even aware of it most of the time.  Through training we can learn to be consciously aware and modify our responses to more accurately reflect reality and truth in a situation or experience.  This is when we are using our emotions as tools for our responses and not letting our emotions rule us.  We are then acting as the captain of our ship.

Paying attention to the sounds and feeling of your physical container might give you clues as to how well it is functioning.  Perhaps it is trying to “tell” you something and hoping you will “hear” and “feel” its needs.  While you are not your physical body it is dependent upon you to pay attention and listen to its needs and notifications of its status.  You are responsible for its care and maintenance, it is your vehicle through which you function and move.  The nonphysical YOU functions within the physical vehicle or container to learn about the physical experience.

Hello body, it’s me, the captain of this ship.  I am here and paying attention, thank you for keeping me informed.  This is not unlike Captain Picard sitting in his chair on the bridge of the spaceship U.S.S. Enterprise listening to reports from his officers and monitoring everything that is going on in order to respond with the right action.

The nonphysical functioning through the physical.  Once you become accustomed to listening to your container and attending to its needs, being the captain of your ship, you just might be able to discern its voices from that of the still, quiet voice deep within that is the Real You.  It has always been there attempting to communicate.  Perhaps now you will be able to hear it and dialogue with You and be open to communication from the Higher, the fleet admirals so to speak.

This is an ongoing process and requires vigilance and conscious attention but being able to hear and speak with You is so worth it.

Wendy Ford

Copyright © 2016 by Institute of Spiritual Climate LLC

you know you want to do it:

Is Your Garden Ready?

by Wendy Ford

Ahchoo!   It’s Spring in Arizona and nature’s garden is arising.  The cacti are in bloom, the wild poppies are tipping their bright yellow faces to the sun illuminating hillsides in a shimmering, yellow glow, the bougainvillea are drooping heavy with their scarlet blossoms, the birds are starting their nests.  It seems the world is waking up.  Of course the downside to a beautiful Spring in Phoenix is the myriad of pollen causing untold misery to those of us whose immune systems are challenged by all of this beauty.

As Nature changes over from Winter to Spring so does our spiritual life experience a change.  We turn our spiritual faces from the inward contemplation within the quiet inner darkness of Winter, spiritual hibernation if you will, toward our Sun, our Source.  We take the same deep breath that Nature does to begin our awakening from inward focus.

With the Spring Equinox comes the time when there is an equal amount of sunlight and darkness marking a moment of pause between the dark and light.  During that very brief moment there is a pause between Nature’s Winter and Spring.  Think of it like hands of the clock at midnight.  When midnight strikes, there is a very brief moment when there is a pause;  it is neither night nor day.  Just as Nature’s Spring is separated from the Winter in the moment following the pause so is our Spiritual Spring separated from our Spiritual Winter.

Nature’s Spring is the time when the land is warmed by the lengthening hours of sunlight thawing the frozen soils and moistening the soil with winter’s melting waters.  Even in a climate like Arizona there is a change of seasons, though less dramatic.  The warming moist soil cradles dormant seeds encouraging them to soften and to sprout.  Initially nothing seems to be happening for all the activity is taking place underground invisible to the naked eye’s perception.

Spiritually the same process occurs.  The deep internal contemplation in the darkness of our Spiritual Winter has hopefully resulted in planted seeds for growth which with the increasing light from Source will begin to sprout and grow.

As in Nature one dare not disturb these Spiritual seeds by digging or rooting about to see if anything is happening.  These seeds are meant to be left unseen and protected in the darkness.  If one has tended their garden well, there will be results.  Of course this is assuming the gardener has taken proper care of that garden by doing the work of harvesting the old plants, separating the wheat from the chafe, removing the weeds, tilling the soil and planting new seeds in the Fall.

Again Nature shows us the truth about our spiritual lives right in plain sight.  An untended garden choked with rotting vegetation from previous years of growth or has dried and withered plants that resulted from lack of the proper attention will be unproductive.  Parched earth will not be fertile and seeds sown on rotting or withered vegetation will not be able to find fertile soil.

Our spiritual gardens reflect Nature.  Our illusions and delusions can tangle and clutter blocking clear thinking, contemplation and discernment.  If there is not a clear area for the Light to shine on, then all that is “seen” are the erroneous beliefs and thought structures that left unchecked (unweeded) will continue to replicate, choking out any chance for the truth of any matter or experience to be exposed for discovery.

Our spiritual gardens are infinitely more delicate and require more maintenance than any physical garden ever planted.  While a physical garden requires physical work and sweat, the spiritual garden can be influenced by the simplest of thoughts.  All it takes is the “planting” of one erroneous conclusion and the Subconscious will take it run with it.  It will continue to be replicated and tangle and twine around anything it comes in contact with.  It is capable of tainting and choking out an otherwise pristine “crop”, correct conclusions and thought processes, and poison it.

Constant attention and awareness are required to ensure that we are planting healthy seeds by way of Self-conscious attention and intent; we must be vigilant to the communications from the Subconscious.  Through careful listening and attention our Self-conscious can discern when Subconscious has sprouted a “weed”.  We are then alerted that we somehow sent the wrong message and are able to modify it if we chose to do so.  Unfortunately, most are unaware of the status of their spiritual garden.  In fact, most folks are not awake enough or aware enough to even realize they have a spiritual garden.

Weeding our spiritual garden can be time consuming, for most of us have planted what we think is a very pretty garden only to eventually discover it is filled with weeds growing on a pile of manure in the Subconscious and not in healthy fertile soil.  Keep in mind Subconscious had absolutely nothing to do with the weeds and manure.  Subconscious only received what Self-conscious gave/told it.  The weeding process requires contemplation, the development of discernment and attention.  Most importantly it takes the ability to be brutally honest with oneself.  Once the weeding has been done the manure must be dug through with conscious intent by the hand, so to speak, of Self-consciousness; no tools will help with this process.  Finally, the exposed soil must be tilled, watered and reconditioned.

To take an honest look at one’s spiritual garden can be a daunting and intimidating experience.  What will I find?  Do I really want to find it, to know in what areas the erroneous thought processes lie and how, when, why, where they were “planted”?  Once I find out my beautiful garden is just an illusion then what?  How do I fix it?  Can I fix It?  It will take learning what tools are needed i.e. perhaps psychotherapy with a PHD level psychologist trained in EMDR, and/or learning how to contemplate and explore those interior recesses.  Do I want to fix it?  Am I willing to put in the effort to do the work it will take and spend the amount of time it will take?

A successful sprouting in the Spring can be a very satisfying and exciting experience both in Nature and in our spiritual lives.  It is all about growth, the spiritual, vertical growth that can only occur following the work of clearing out the weeds making way for new seeds to sprout and thrive.

This is a project that takes patience, repeated acts of attention and contemplation over time just as the care, maintenance and tending of a physical garden does. It also requires us to participate in the flow of the Life Power, to tune in to Its ever present presence. If you choose to participate and listen, It will be your gardening companion and provide for and assist if you let It.

Happy gardening.

Wendy Ford

Copyright © 2016 by Institute of Spiritual Climate LLC


you know you want to do it:

True Compassion & Unconditional Love

by Wendy Ford

Remember the little books we used to make with drawings stapled together that when flipped through rapidly seemed to create a moving picture? They were like the old cartoons made by drawing one cell at a time and combining them to make a moving picture.

That is what the holidays seemed like this year except instead of a moving picture effect, it was just a series of single snapshots that all ran together into one blurry ill-defined picture. The snapshots seemed to start around Halloween; perhaps it was because all the commercials for Christmas started after Halloween practically leaving out Thanksgiving altogether.

When the holidays approach the pace of people’s normally frenetic lives ramps up several notches and the pressures seem to increase to a fever pitch. Commercials in papers, magazines, billboards, radio, television and the incessant online popups are enough to drive any sane person a little nuts. The pressure is on to find the perfect gift, throw the perfect party, and adorn all rooms, yards, houses, even autos and trucks, with the perfect decorations. Of course all this must be done within a short period of time. Time is running out. Don’t be late. Don’t miss the great sales. Don’t’ be a Grinch. Be generous. Be happy. Be merry. My goodness the bubble has to be about to pop.

In an effort to relieve the pressure it seems some folks turn to trying to find a release by giving to others as if giving to others will in some way balance out or deflate the other pressures.

It appears that when the holidays (holy days) roll around some people want to demonstrate a more generous side of themselves by openly donating time, gifts and money to organizations and people in need. They walk up to the kettle with the expectation that dropping a bill in the kettle will make them feel good; the bill is dropped and they walk away with a smile on their face. They put forth the appearance of turning away from the me, me, me, buy, buy, buy, spend, spend, spend by giving generously in order to feel good.

My observations tell me many people are doing this as a way to make themselves feel less guilty about not having done anything during any other part of the year; it makes them feel good or it is just because it is something they are supposed to do or it relieves the other pressures of the season. They say they are showing their compassion. I disagree.

Compassion 1: sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
Synonyms: pity, sympathy, empathy, care, concern, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, tolerance, kindness, charity

Compassion implies by its definition an absence of expectation of the return of something.

Too many give during the holidays because they are responding to and/or fulfilling an external or internal expectation: all office staff must donate to the boss’ gift, all staff must volunteer at the soup kitchen or to deliver meals, all residents of a retirement community are expected to donate to the employee fund, extra tips are given to seemingly everyone in our daily lives. We want to feel good about ourselves and giving to others can give us that feeling; when an external or internal expectation or need is the driving force, the giving is out of obligation with the expectation of recognition or of getting something back for the giving, this is not compassion.

True compassion is demonstrated by the volunteer who genuinely donates time without expecting anything in return, not even the feeling of satisfaction for having done a good thing. That is to say they are not driven to perform their actions by the need to have that “feel good feeling”. They go in even on the days they may be feeling blue or in the process of dealing with issues in their own lives. Their time is given freely without any strings attached, without any expectations—internal or external. They undoubtedly appreciate a thank you or a smile and may have a sense satisfaction, but they are not driven by the need for those responses or feelings. Those responses or feelings are not the reasons they are doing what they are doing.

True compassion is in action when the anonymous donor gives generously of money, gifts, food or needed items without being driven by the expectation of recognition or the need to feel good about having done something generous for the less fortunate. Should “feeling good about it” be a side effect it is certainly welcomed but it is not the driving force for the action or deed.

True compassion comes from the company that gives parents of ill children time off without requiring them to use their own sick time or vacation days or expecting them to make up for the “lost” time or expecting the community to recognize the company for its compassion. Should recognition be given that is great, but if it is the driving force, it is not true compassion.

As 2015 comes to a close we should all be willing to take the time to reflect inward and to review our actions and motivations over the past six months and during the holiday season. What were the driving forces for those actions? Were we acting in response to internal or external expectations? If so, we may have deluded ourselves into thinking or believing we were being oh so compassionate when the truth of the matter was we were being driven by our own needs for recognition, feeling good or responding to an expectation of society or an employer.

True Compassion is probably not very common because the human ego is generally looking for recognition and driven by “what’s in it for me” and “I need to feel good about this”. Ego is control, power and “I” based. True Compassion is not an ego based action. It is an aspect of Unconditional Love.

Ego is materially focused and of the realm of the “I”. Its composition is of emotions and thoughts, of beliefs, biases, prejudices, expectations and judgement. It is restrictive, limiting and limited by a very small and rigid filter. Unconditional Love resides in the heart where there are no expectations, no judgement, no strings attached, no motivations, no restrictions.

True Compassion is an aspect of Unconditional Love and therefore of the heart and of the Self. It is given freely and without limitation, which is easier said than done. It requires brutal self-examination to identify and discern the motivations and reasons for our actions and deeds. This examination requires a depth of courage most of us have never developed, because our egos don’t want us acting with our hearts and without its influence. With honest self-examination most of us will come to realize we too often fall short of acting with True Compassion.

With a new year on the horizon, many of us make the perfunctory New Year Resolutions. This year let’s work toward developing the courage to pause and ask ourselves why we are doing something for or giving to another. Honestly take note. Is the action fulfilling an internal or external need or expectation (from ego) or is it being given freely with no strings attached (from the heart, the Self)?

When True Compassion is in action and flowing, the good feelings, recognition, kudos and satisfaction are the byproduct, not the driving force.

True Compassion. Unconditional Love. Heart. Limitless.


Wendy Ford

2016 Christmas-NewYear

The End – Spiritual Climate Newsletter, Winter 2015 Edition

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