Faith

91. MY DEPRESSION

depression

I’m not in a position to give professional advice to those in the grip of depression. I’m not a doctor nor am I a counselor. That being said, what I can do is share the details of my journey beyond desolation. Perhaps shedding some light on where I was compared to where I am will help, perhaps not. In any case I certainly know what it feels like to be immobilized and lost.

Thoughts of doom and suicide dominated my life for a long time, years in fact. I had love, no spark, no peace, and no purpose. Surviving was my only motivation, and even that began to deteriorate. Chasing pleasure quickly became a substitute for manufacturing happiness. This mental prison I’d built started in the mid eighties and finally began to erode in the mid nineties. Going over a decade without hope, self-respect, or direction sounds like an impossible journey, one destined to end in disaster, yet here I am.

They say the further you fall, the higher you rise. Considering just how high I’ve risen in the past twenty years, my low must have been exceptionally deep, especially since even now I continue progressing with great strides. So, what exactly was the moment I started to ascend? When did my life finally stop spiraling towards oblivion?  There were three major shifts in my life that allowed the floodgates of redemption to swing wide open.

SHIFT NUMBER ONE……

The first began with letting go of a belief I had drilled into my skull since I was a small boy. It’s one many are programmed with, and have wrongly reinforced through our peers and mentors. This belief was that somewhere buried inside me I had the tools and desire to fix who I was all by myself. Most people call this elusive, superhuman skill ……willpower.

What garbage.

In my playbook, if I want to become a better person, then I must step past my ego. This maneuver is called “Letting go”. Letting go involves zero willpower. It DID require me to take an action once previously thought of as demeaning and painful. I had to open my arms and mind to criticism. Keep in mind there are two very specific types of criticism, one is a form of abuse, and the other is pure Love, and there’s a big difference.  Most will criticize with the intent of cloning themselves; that is they want you to be more like them. Those who do it with Love in their hearts will only be interested in you becoming a better person. Trust me; you’ll know the difference with this definition in mind.

Some equate letting go with giving up; nothing could be further from the truth. Here is the equation. Giving up is the equivalent of steering your boat to the most remote point of the ocean, lowering your sails, and dumping all your provisions overboard. Not a good scenario. Letting go, on the other hand, is akin to deciding you’re lost on the water, pulling into a port, and asking someone else who is obviously skilled and wise to pilot you and your ship to somewhere you’ve never even heard of. This requires a massive step out of one’s own feeling of self-control.

If I’m to embrace my full potential I must allow those to lead me who are already somewhere I want to be. Keep in mind the boat is still mine, I’m ultimately in charge, but for the moment I’ve decided to allow forces that align with faith to guide me. I’m relaxed and am open to outside direction. If this is the case, then what I was attempting before was fighting against the tides. I was closed to suggestion and focused on using only my own energy to guide me. Here lies the difference between being problem aligned rather than solution oriented. It never feels good going forward, it’s a vulnerable and uncertain maneuver, but this choice always reaps massive rewards. So, this action illustrates the first step I took towards serenity.

SHIFT NUMBER TWO……

This second step is a bit more personal so you may not have any common ground with what I’m going to share. In any case, this exercise defiantly helped me, and to this day it still continues to do so. In a nutshell I was told by a professional in the field of mental health that depression is basically rooted in unexpressed anger.

Unexpressed anger?

Yes, unexpressed anger. This does not, however, mean un-generated anger. It means I’d felt hostility, bitterness, angst, and rage but they were never fully expressed in a mentally healthy manner. My mind had reactions to events I’d kept muted or even completely bottled up. In my experience (and all too often in my observations of others, especially men) ALL emotions we hold back on eventually find their way to the surface both unexpectedly and mutated.  The road to mental health is paved with the stones of proper expression and use of emotion. Depression, in my case, was created from the inability to let out and deal with those events I found undesirable.

One may ask, why anger? Couldn’t other emotions poorly expressed and downright withheld be the cause of depression? Yes, but consider this; if Love is not revealed when it’s deeply and desperately felt, would this not eventually cause anger towards oneself? How about sadness, celebration, shame, or satisfaction? The truth is, at least for me, holding back on any emotion no matter the source, will eventually cause the feeling to go from regret to anger.

It helps me tremendously to ask “what am I mad about?” rather than “what’s depressing me?”  In other entries of this blog I write about the quality of our questions equaling the quality of our answers and thus in doing so improve the quality of life. This question is a terrific example.

SHIFT NUMBER THREE……

Nothing transforms my emotional state like movement, just plain old moving around can initiate massive changes in my outlook and attitudes. The good news, nothing has to be all that focused on what I feel needs “fixing”.  Examples may include doing the laundry, going for a walk, cooking, and especially……cleaning. I have a feeling that last one, cleaning, has psychological benefits that can have other, subconscious healing effects. It should be clarified I’m not going to the point of becoming a germophobe. Simple elimination of junk and clutter in the course of reorganizing my environment has always reverberated to other tasks and neglected responsibilities. If this is true, then surely the opposite is just as obvious.  When I’ve been depressed, and have decided to do nothing but sit, sleep, and remain as motionless as possible, it waters the seeds of my hopelessness. To be very clear here I’m NOT talking about meditation, that’s a completely different (spiritual) dynamic designed to center and focus myself. I guess the more I concentrate on anything outside of me, removing my focus from my perceived “problems,” the further I get away from the fear-based voice of my ego, which seems to be the very root of every problem I’ve ever faced.

Honestly this last suggestion has been extremely easy for me to observe in the lives of others. Those who are depressed usually seem to do very little physically. Likewise I’ve never met a depressed person who was one to get out of bed and exercise first thing in the morning. I’m sure this is a generalization, and like I said at the beginning, I’m no doctor. All I want to do here is share what has worked so far in my life. Take it as you will. I truly hope no one ever visits those places I’ve been, but if you have I’m here to tell you I found a way out.

I would like to acknowledge the help of a Facebook friend who helped me iron out and make a few suggestions that help clarify what I’m attempting to share here in this entry. She is a professional in the field of mental health and my gratitude is eternal, thank you Alma!

May the breadcrumbs of my life nourish those who are lost.

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With Love and Compassion,  Daniel Andrew Lockwood

86. WAYNE DYER

Dyer first audio

I love thrift stores. I rarely hesitate when the chance to discover and rummage through a newly found one pops up. There was a time when my work had me earning a living in a wide range of destinations from Seattle to Des Moines to Omaha and Kansas city including a plethora of towns and destinations in between. Each place meant new opportunities to explore; new treasures to find, especially in the way of books. It also meant a LOT of driving, sometimes hundreds of miles a day. When I grew tired of the content on the radio (and my own thoughts in the lonely silence waned) I eventually turned to audiobooks. Second hand shops certainly had no shortage of these. Before I went into recovery my choices were of the fictional nature, but as my life turned around so did my taste in what was not only entertaining, but educational.

My sponsor encouraged me to investigate new teachers and subjects beyond what A.A. offers. Naturally I began to seek facts and philosophies that would align with a life of continued self-improvement. I had regular print books in my library he had recommended, but nothing as of yet sought on my own. It was at this time I came across Dr. Wayne Dyer’s “The Secrets to Manifesting Your Destiny” at a local Goodwill. Well, the title had me intrigued and I knew, very superficially, who Dyer was so he wasn’t a complete unknown. After reading the back I thought I’d give it a try. This was about one year into my recovery, perhaps around the summer of nineteen ninety-six.

After playing and enjoying it once, I put it away thinking this was going to be the last and only time I would listen to it. I was wrong. About a year later I was bored, and again, it caught my eye. Upon giving it a second audience I was surprised to hear a lot I’d missed the first time. Dyer, as well as all great teachers, can be like this; either that or I’m simply a poor listener. At any rate, the pump had been officially primed for new teachings from the same source. More of his seminars were forthcoming from where I’d originally found the first one, thrift stores. Rather quickly I had attained a large library of his works along with such orators as Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and titles including “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.  Other subjects accumulated as well, addressing such diverse topics as language skills, memory skills, math skills, business and leadership skills, and time management skills. Some were dull and quickly forgotten but Dyer remained my favorite.

As time went along I began to adopt his suggestions of encouragement. I was intrigued by his presentation of the “self-actuated person” as first put forth by Abraham Maslow. Dyer felt this state of being could be achieved by anyone, as opposed to Maslow’s argument that it was confined to a limited number of gifted people. Years later I was approached by someone with whom I’d had a little contact but nothing close. They handed a complement saying I was the most self-actuated person they ever met. I do my best to remain “independent of the good opinion of others” but this was a special treat and I was moved by their gift. I’ve had “peak spiritual experiences” and actively defend the absent, playing the “devil’s advocate” quite often. At the end of this article I’ll place some links to other earlier stories on this blog that fall in line with how Dyer has influenced and touched my life.

When Dyer released “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life” his book tour come through Denver Colorado. As a birthday gift my wife got us tickets to the event and I was quite excited. I wrote him and to my surprise he wrote back saying he was looking forward to meeting me. I couldn’t stop smiling through the entire talk. He signed the books we had brought and I had my first chance to talk to him directly. As the next few years rolled on I took any chance to see him I could, seven in all. Three at “Mile Hi Church” here in town, once at the Budweiser Event Center, once at a two-day Hay House seminar for publishing called “Writing for your Soul” held at the Brown Palace in 2013, and lastly at the 2014 “I Can Do It!” retreat at the Denver convention center. At his last Mile Hi appearance before the writer’s seminar I gave him a portrait of Deepak Chopra I had done as a gift. At the writer’s seminar he told me he had sent it to Chopra. I had done an earlier portrait of his daughter Skye and in return he sent me her CD and a copy of his movie. Here is a link (from this blog) to a photo of my picture of Dr. Chopra.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/09/21/another-example-of-my-artwork/

I suppose my favorite title of his is “There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem.” The point in the audio book at which he speaks of the little boy being befriended by his teacher tears me up every time. If you’ve heard it I’m sure you empathize. While I don’t have every book he put out, both in print and audio, it’s dang close. I even own a textbook he co-wrote before “Erroneous Zones.”  I haven’t read THAT one; yet.

While I will miss him, just like the rest of us, I know he finished his work and has moved on to a greater purpose.

Here are the older links from this blog that mention his influence on my life.

This address kindness over being right.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/07/07/the-strength-of-compassion/

This talks about becoming independent of the good opinion of others.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/12/10/coming-full-circle/

Here I share Dyer’s influence on how I now see others.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/12/24/a-change-of-perspective/

Exercising one of Dyer’s lessons.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/01/25/in-search-of-beauty/

About leaving the past in the past.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/07/44-change-your-life-lose-your-luggage/

How we become what we think.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/06/06/63-fire-and-water/

Repeating an experiment I heard Dr. Dyer perform. You should like this one.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/08/21/69-spiritual-or-religious/

Just like the rest of us I feel an urge to share following Dyer’s passing. I hope this entry does not come across as self-serving in any way.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

83. A MINOR MIRACLE

ticket

May, 1999…….

I hadn’t talked to Joe in some time. He was my sponsor and my friend, but our relationship was more than those words two can describe. His patience and teachings had saved my life. There was a bond to the common ground of alcohol addiction and an understanding of other things that linked us as well. Physical separation and a lack of communication did not weaken our connection. I’d been in recovery for almost four years and we hadn’t spoken for some time when he called. I knew a few sentences into our conversation that something was wrong.

“Joe! It’s good to hear from you!”

“Daniel. How are things in your world?

“I’m doing well. I have a wonderful girlfriend and my job is going very well.”

There was a silence, not too long but definitely noticeable, before he replied. “I’m glad to hear it.”

His tone alerted me as well. “What’s wrong, Joe?”

He sighed. “I’m going to lose my apartment. I was wondering if I could borrow some money. I’ll pay you back next month.”

“I have some saved, what do you need?”

“Five-hundred dollars.”

“I’ll be home tomorrow, when can you come by?”

“How’s one o’clock sound?”

“I’ll have your money then. See you tomorrow.”

“Thank you, Daniel.”

I was still living single for the most part and made almost daily trips to the grocery store. There was obviously a need to stop by the bank as well, so out the door I went. After picking out my usual lot of crap-food, I paid for my load and got another ten bucks out of my account to buy a scratch ticket. I did, and still do play frequently, so this was not a spur of the moment departure from my usual behavior. The result is the scan of the ticket above. (Sorry about the resolution, it’s a copy, of a copy, of a copy so it sucks, but it IS the ticket I won five-hundred dollars on.) Figuring no one would believe this story I quickly made use of the store’s copying machine to obtain proof of the serendipitous moment.

Five hundred dollars, no more, no less. You’d have a hard time convincing me this was random. Joe showed up right on time the following day.

“Nice to see you, please come in.”

“You’ve got a nice place here.” Joe hadn’t been to my apartment since I’d moved in. It was too bad he had to see it under these circumstances.

“Here’s your money.”

“I’m so sorry for this, it just kills me to ask for help. I’ll repay you next month, I promise.”

I’d told Joe on numerous occasions that I owed him my life, and if there were anything I could do to attempt to repay the debt I would be not only obliged, but honored.

“There’s no need to compensate me, the universe already did.” With that I showed him the scan of my scratch ticket I’d bought the day before. “All I’m out is ten bucks.”

Even after showing him the ticket he still was insistent on compensation. I finally convinced him otherwise. He was moved by the gesture and after we talked a little more he went on his way.

I have seen enough of these “coincidences” in life to be firmly convinced that they are of divine intent. My faith that whatever is needed will manifest at the perfect moment finds new footing as each day passes.  Such has been the case for every circumstance of my life so far. It isn’t as if some things were perfect and some weren’t; all my choices, all the so-called unplanned events, and even the most seemingly insignificant occurrences have conspired to give me what I choose to call a perfect life. One thing’s for sure, I would have never recognized any of it before I quit drinking, now close to twenty years ago. As a direct result of my recovery I embrace each moment as part of something wonderful waiting to unfold. There’s no doubt that what’s directly in front of me might be unwanted, but no matter what all of it is part of a better tomorrow.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

82. GRATITUDE MEANS…….

cb28c749bcb502f8e8f4d7c10134525f

I’ve almost died on several occasions, if you read the introduction to this blog I mention some of them. The latest event was earlier this year from a double dose of pneumonia and blood clots in my lungs following back surgery. While the operation alleviated the constant overwhelming pain on the left side of my body, the episode left me unable to walk without a cane; and even then only a little ways. Twelve days in the hospital all total left me weak and atrophied. I was off work almost five months, the longest period since I was sixteen. The doctors did not want me to lift more than ten pounds and I couldn’t even drive or attend a physical rehab program until I was healed to the point of allowing some stress on my spine.

In the middle of this I asked and paid my friends brother to drive me to the store to get roses for my wife on Valentine’s Day. I’d never missed one yet, and this wasn’t going to be the first. My job was kind to me so that was really never an issue, but I did constantly wonder what my future held. I finally went to work on May 1 of this year, and even though I was thrilled to get back to a life of labor, it was a difficult week.

You might be hard pressed to believe this, but I’m grateful for the entire experience, and here’s why.

The beauty in the fabric of my life comes from all those events that have had a pleasant outcome; but the strength of it lies in those circumstances that have challenged me to be a better person. I’m therefore MORE thankful for the pain I’ve moved past than the pleasures I’ve experienced. I do not seek suffering as a means to improve myself, but there’s a wonderful comfort in knowing it’s capable of eventually providing increased gratitude.

I do not measure success by material means; I measure it against my former self to see if I have become a better person; stronger, kinder, more patient, more determined, more enthusiastic, less judgemental, etc. If life is a journey, (one chosen on purpose by myself to be somewhat challenging) then sometimes the road inevitably leads to parts unexpected and unknown. This is consistently rewarding, however I must admit the moment can seem occasionally gloomy. No matter the situation, gratitude is generated in my life by constant forward movement, although all too often progress is made by taking two steps back and then three ahead. If the mountain range I’m currently climbing leaves my spirit beaten and bloody, so be it. The healing process will strengthen me for newer and even more demanding events.

Evidence of this approach to living is apparent in the lives of the poor and oppressed as opposed to those in positions of wealth and power. Gratitude comes easy and with sincerity when those who have so little gain even the most basic of needs and comforts. In my opinion this attitude can be diminished when abundance becomes unlimited, especially if one is born to it. A connection to the needs of others often disappears too, so instead of projecting a nurturing and empathetic attitude, one of judgement comes into play instead. This is not always the case of course. My hat comes off to the select few who can connect to each end of the human spectrum. They are the ones capable of moving the planet to a better place by both the leverage they wield and a pursued connection to those in need. By their actions they can lift, inspire, and give strength those who struggle, while showing others like themselves how to influence and help even more.

For me, as this type of symbiotic relationship is internalized, I find I’m able to manifest personal salvation. The “parts” of me that are overflowing with proficiency are capable of assisting those parts of me that are lacking in proper function. Here is an example of how I do this. My right knee has bothered me recently causing a painful limp and disturbing my sleep. I’m well aware that the body has amazing recuperative powers, so tapping into these forces is a simple matter of asking it to do so. I will literally strike up a silent conversation and say “Hey, brain…… you’ve got a job to do. Work on my knee and fix it.” I did this several times a day and it’s better now. This not the only time I’ve done it and I continue the practice because, quite frankly, it’s never failed me. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well, don’t knock it until you try it. When I take what I’m grateful for (my attitude and outlook on life) and focus it on where I need it most it does two things. My life improves and my gratitude increases as a result. It becomes a self feeding, doubly rewarding experience.

The struggles that come my way often become the platform for an even better tomorrow; and I know this even when I’m in the middle of the worst of times. When I wrote this entry- https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2015/01/26/76-so-close-to-giving-up/ I really was out of my mind with pain, and if you read it you’ll still see this philosophy being embraced and seeded. Honestly, gratitude is the best doctor I know. So far it has healed everything in my life.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

78. A NEW BLOG FOR A BETTER WORLD

earth-from-the-moon

Good Morning, Afternoon, or Evening!

I have started a new blog to discuss what it might take to make the world a better place. Job creation and world peace are two of the topics. Three entries so far and more on the way. Please stop by and let me know what you think!

LET’S MOVE OUR WORLD

http://letsmoveourworld.com/

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

76. SO CLOSE TO GIVING UP…….

agony-invert

I’ve been in a horrible place since December 10, 2014. I’ve done my best to keep up a positive attitude and honestly I know all will turn out wonderful in some weird, unexpected way. What I originally thought was a minor back injury (I thought it was a kidney stone) turned out to be something much more severe. As diagnosis came in and possibilities were eliminated it became clear I was being pushed to a place I’d never anticipated. Apparently between my fourth and fifth lumbar in my back there is a bulge in the disc that is cutting off the nerve endings to my left side. Wasn’t that bad at first. Along with not being able to lift anything (other than pizza…) it disturbed my sleep and kept me from normal chores. I had a lot of vacation built up anyway, so even though I was reluctant to use it, at least I had something to fall back on.

As Christmas came and went so did my rosy outlook for January. The pain was getting worse and my vacation was running out. I don’t want to sound too graphic here, but it felt like I was constantly being violently kicked in the groin while a knife was sticking out of my back just to the left of the initial injury. I reluctantly asked my wife to buy me a cane so I could at least walk to the bathroom and bedroom. I’m in recovery from alcoholism. For anyone new to this blog that’s what the whole damn thing is about anyway, recovery and self-help. (Here is a link to my blog introduction https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/02/self-help-for-beginners-welcome-to-my-blog/) I’ve been through a lot of crap; a lot of it life threatening,  but I’ve never been through like what was to come.

I applied for my short-term disability if this scenario were to prolong itself. After going in for a CAT scan at the behest of my Doctor, the determination was made to give me a steroid injection in my spine. Unfortunately this was about two weeks away and the pain was becoming unbearable. It became very difficult to shower and even maintain some sort of hygienic dignity. Migraines set in for a constant ride and are still here. Most of the time I have a bag of ice on my head. The nights offer a slight comfort for an hour or two then into the living room where I proceed to scream my ass off for at least ninety minutes. The meds prescribed to me I DO NOT WANT, but what can I do? Oxy and Valium. Ugh. Can’t take anything with Tylenol in it, that pushes my migraines int to the upper stratosphere. Won’t allow anything with alcohol either. So what do I do? Suffer, and suffer, and suffer.

Two weeks later I went in for my injection and for about three hours I felt completely normal. That was the “Novocaine” shot they gave me prior to the primary shot. Three hours later back to square one, but, the Doctors informed me it would take 3-4 days to work. Didn’t happen, in fact it started getting much worse. I started falling, even with the cane. My wife works during the day and sometimes she spends her lunch hour at home. Most of the time all I want is plain old unconsciousness. Imagine having a hangover that never, ever stops. This is what I’ve been going through.

We went to a specialist next and they recommended surgery. They spelled it out what was going to happen. We both agreed on their recommendations and tomorrow at three thirty in the afternoon we will see if the procedure will have any impact. It’s been another LONG two weeks.

Last Thursday was the worst. Yelling at the top of my lungs for three hours in the middle of the night while I’m flopping around in my recliner; willing to do ANYTHING to induce some sort state of comfort as my wife stands over me weeping and not knowing what to do is never a future I would have imagined. She feels so helpless and yet she has no idea how much she actually helps. I could not have gotten through this without her. She is my friend, my lover, and my angel.

This has been difficult in more ways than I’ve expected. I’ve worked since I was very young, never having been away from some sort of paid responsibilities for more than perhaps two weeks in a row. I’m very active, such is the life of a construction worker. A few short weeks ago I was on twelve-foot ladders with 24″ pipe wrenches cranking on twenty-one foot long steel pipes. I was in crawl spaces flicking off cock roaches while installing 4″ cast iron waste pipe. Now I can’t get out of bed and to top it all off I’ve gained forty pounds since this put me down. IF all goes well, I am to have an eight week recovery before I can even go back to work. It is a humbling experience but I wish the better man this is going to make me didn’t have such a high price.

At some level I MUST give up. Not on life, mind you, but on my power over what’s happening to me. “Let Go, Let God” is ingrained into my mind through both my program and experience; and yet still I fight it. To drop all and trust in the universe to hand me what I need the most sometimes takes leaps of faith into my own mirages of the worst  futures that can be imagined. Tomorrow; written by me and acted be me, has never happened, and it never will.

Am I close to throwing in the towel? Yes. Let’s just go ahead and do it and see what happens.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

 

Enough Is Enough

74. WELCOME TO HELL

temptation-of-christ-1872.jpg!Blog

This entry is purely my opinion. Feel free to complain if you like……most are quite practiced at it so it should come easily to those who insist on spending their lives looking for ways to be offended. I seek neither to change anyone’s belief nor do I claim knowledge of an esoteric nature. If you want an argument, this is the wrong forum. Sharing, however, is always encouraged.

Occasionally I am asked if I believe in heaven or hell. As far as I’m concerned this question is an opening line to some sort of judgmental attack by the person who presents it. Be that as it may, I do indeed believe in these places; but to me they are not the physical planes so colorfully depicted in literature and art that the world is familiar with. The clichéd examples of everlasting peace and eternal damnation seem to be missing a critical observation; they both exist because without them there would be no balance, no creation, no expansion, and no purpose. The elimination of one would mean oblivion for the other. North cannot exist without south. The “magnet” that is our life and world is a constant co-existence of forces that seem to repel when in reality they are the perfect example of mutual attraction. Try to cut one end off and there is still its absolute “opposite” attached. We cannot live in one and disregard the other. Perhaps the balance point is where we must reside. Perhaps our purpose is to harmonize the space where they meet. This spot truly is the razor’s edge.

Let’s go the Christian route and use the Bible as a reference point to see if there is any evidence to support what I am describing. My favorite quote is a red letter one.

Luke 17:21

21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

One cannot get clearer than this. Jesus himself says the way to God lies within. If the kingdom of God is heaven and the path to our relationship with “him” is inside of us, then where is hell, its so-called counterpart? I would venture to say that the world outside of us is the kingdom of the devil. Don’t believe me? Well there’s more biblical evidence pointing to this observation. There are a few lines where the devil tempts Christ.

Mathew 4:8-10

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

The devil takes Jesus to the highest point that can be found and offers the world and all it contains if he bows to him. The question is why could he offer this? One cannot give what one does not first own; therefore the material world must be his kingdom. It’s all the “stuff” and their anchors surrounding us, money, food, power, drink, sex, drugs, possessions, and so on are the “temptations” or “apples” so many (including me) are drawn to. The first commandment says we are to have “No Gods before me,” which is frequently interpreted as shunning or turning away from false gods.  Okay, so what is a false God then? Again, it’s all the enticements of the material world. Don’t get me wrong, stuff is nice, fun, and useful, but stuff is not supposed to be the ultimate goal in life. Things are not evil, they never will be. It’s our pursuit and our importance of them that makes it so.

More evidence of this needed mindset is presented here.

Luke 18:18-22

18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.

21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.

22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

Christ didn’t want this man to have nothing, he wanted him to turn away from what he was putting first in life; material possessions. The man had disregarded the first commandment.

I do indeed have a LOT of stuff. Books, music, clothes, tools, furniture, dishes, etc., etc., fill my home with convenience and comfort. Some is defiantly required so I may live a life of my chosen responsibilities, but to be honest, most is unnecessary. I truly say this to you now; if my house were to burn down tomorrow and my wife and cat were alive and well, I’d be “okay” with that. I’d be upset and angry at first, don’t get me wrong, but in the end I would know what really matters would have survived.

So, let’s talk a little more about how I understand the existence of heaven and hell. Heaven is the kingdom of God or the realm of all that is spiritual including the emotions of love, trust, compassion, faith, and forgiveness.  Hell is the kingdom of Lucifer and contains all that is not spiritual and certain attitudes like judgment, fear, regret, worry, and shame.

As far as I am concerned both of these places are a state of mind that links us to either self- destruction or divine alignment.

There is a huge story at the beginning of the Bible called…………..Genesis. It tells how we came to be, live in the house of God, and exist in his image. We were in constant contact with God, and God with us. The next question is what is OUR true image? If we are to believe the Bible, we are indeed made in God’s image, however, I know for a fact that I am not my body, not my reflection, not my genetic ancestry.  I cannot look into the mirror and say out loud, “All I am is flesh and blood and nothing else.” It’s a lie; one that’s easily recognized.  So if I’m not my body and I was made in God’s image, what the heck IS God’s image? I have no idea; energy, spirit, thought, or perhaps some unknown etheric force? I do know what it isn’t; and that’s a damn good start.

So here we go down, down, down, the rabbit hole. Get ready.

Hebrews 9:27

27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

We already DID die once. We died a spiritual death. How did this happen? We embraced the material world i.e. “the Apple.” We turned away from spirit and towards the material. What defines the material world the most you say? Opposites; up, down, left, right, rich, poor, beauty, ugliness, man, woman, black, white, and so on. This IS the world of judgment. Here we are, spiritually dead living in the world of judgment. OK……….getting weirder now……..

John 3:3

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

According to this passage we must be “born again” to enter the house of God? Yes, because we are spiritually “dead” now. We are living in Hell; and dead as can be. In order to be re-born we must leave this place.

The next question begs to be asked. Why did we do it? Why did we choose a path of such potential disharmony? I believe the evidence exists where the two worlds collide. What attracts both the material and spiritual? What is the connection point? Ask yourself this question, “What do all the religions of the world have in common? What is the thread that runs through every belief?” It’s quite simply, art. Artistic expression is in all forms of acknowledgement towards God. This single action is both material and spiritual in design. It’s what bridges the gap and promotes movement allowing a symbiotic relationship between the two. Look at the music, buildings, pictures, poetry, costume, and ceremony that exist in religion today; all of it is deeply immersed in beauty.

People are always looking for the differences in our beliefs, trying to sift out the truth from a perspective that is flawed to begin with. We must look for the similarities if the purest truth is to be illuminated.

When we are in touch with God are we not of the frame of mind on an artist? The examples are quite varied but all have the same effect; cooking the perfect meal, intimacy with the one we REALLY love, reading a wonderful book, working on our dream car, gardening, singing, writing, painting, listening to music, on and on and on. When we create, we align back to that place where we began; keeping one foot here and one in the spirit world. There is ONE more piece of evidence that will support this observation. A sense of time is lost. We lose awareness to the passage of the hours. When we align with God we share his perspective for cosmic movement as this last quote will attest to.

2 Peter 3:8

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Go forth and create, for are not those who destroy detached from spirit? Does is not seem that they do so only for what matters in the material world? The more we are intent on destruction, the more we waste what precious time we’re given, and the more we create the more we anchor ourselves in eternity.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

73. A LETTER TO MYSELF

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In July of 1995 I was a desperate mess. The future offered no comfort or promise, the past supplied only pain and excuses. It had been many years since even a moment of happiness had flickered. In its absence my pursuits were narrowed to chasing pleasure, and even that road was turning into a nightmarish, twisted path where my demons urged me to continue a life of madness from the sidelines. I felt doomed to die in waves of searing agony, leaving behind a life that, once extinguished, would make the world a better place for everyone.

I was wrong.

If you could write a letter to your younger self what would you say? Would you reveal things better discovered through experience? Would you try to avoid any of the pain you have felt? Would you attempt to speed up the future so better things could be done faster? It’s what I would have wanted at the time, and if those wishes had come true I guarantee I would have pissed the gift of foresight away in a matter of days.

Here is my letter………..

July 27th, 1995

Dear Daniel,

I know you are in pain, angry and scared. I promise there are wonderful times and teachers ahead. Shut your mouth, open your ears, and don’t lie. The universe will place in your path all that you need and want. Love, purpose, and health will return. The road will be challenging but you will have guidance, motivation, and peace. I will NOT tell you anything about who, what, where, or when. Here is where faith must be employed.

There are really only a few pieces of advice I can offer. Above all remember this, if you walk through life backwards you will never see the signs leading you to a better place. Let go of your history. There is nothing that happened yesterday that can be used to justify this moment; the past does not equal the future. Stop insisting on doing things your way and give in to their way. This doesn’t mean you’ll become a slave to the will of others, it means you become willing to serve something greater than yourself. Drop the need to be right. It’s a waste of time. Eventually the right thing always happens anyway. Stop judging yourself, this is the biggest breeding ground of excuses one can tend. Focus on the moment, don’t regret the past, don’t worry about the future. And this last one will not make sense for a long time, just keep it in your head. “Never give up but ALWAYS let go.” It sounds like a dichotomy; it’s not. Remember that I love you and believe in you.

Daniel

This letter is really for anyone who was in, and is in, the same place I was.  I love and believe in you too.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

69. SPIRITUAL OR RELIGIOUS?

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Years ago I was sitting in the basement of a large unfinished home taking lunch with my then supervisor, Ken. I enjoyed working with him and I admired his approach to life. In a world of false pretense his attitude of conviction and faith stood out; he truly seemed to stand by and practice what he believed. Often the conversation would drift towards our belief systems and it was mutually pleasant. An outsider might think we had a lot of differences, but in truth we shared a passion to learn from each other. When he talked I listened; when I talked he listened. I enjoyed his company immensely and all these years later I still think of him quite often.

This day was different from most. It was a little more peaceful, a little more relaxed. The incessant chatter of my selfish mind ceased and I tuned in.  The moment surprised me because I had no forethought to what I was about to say. There was a lull in our discussion and I was moved to pay my friend a complement.

“Ken, I think you’re a really spiritual guy.”

“I think you are too, Daniel,” he said returning the observation with a large smile between bites.

“You know what I think the difference between spiritual and religious is?”

“What’s that?” He said.

“Well, it seems that spiritual people have an intense desire to share with those willing to listen what’s working in their lives, while religious people have a need to argue with as many as possible what isn’t working in the lives of others.”

It was as if the entire universe leaned over and whispered in my ear.

I was thunderstruck. Where did THAT come from? One other time there had been a voice from the ether, but that was before I’d gone into recovery. This was unique, it wasn’t quite a voice I heard: it was more like something flowed through me. The energy of the cosmos had aligned with me: or perhaps I with it. In any case, it changed me. For those who have experienced epiphanies, you know what I mean.

Honestly, I have nothing against religion. I feel it is a wonderful place to begin a path of spirituality and it’s probably difficult to do so without it. I doubt a spiritual leader ever lived that had little to no background in some sort of existing faith. If my observations are correct, the more religious a person is who is in tune with a connection to spirit, the more personal the relationship with God is for them. Those who inspire leadership shine by example. They enthusiastically share, (not preach) taking care to never judge others or belittle them. When the framework of religion is used as a whipping post for those who do not agree with the views of their accusers it becomes the ultimate example of arrogance, ridicule, and eventually, violence. “You are wrong, I am right. You are bad, I am good, and here are my reasons for reinforcing my convictions by pointing out what I think you need to change.” Yuck. Makes me ill just re-reading that last sentence. Here lies the seed of worldwide conflict. Here is where hate is born. Here is where fear and persecution prevails. Here is where the destruction of our world will begin; in fact, it may have already.

As a child I was taught that “leading by example” was the best way to show others a better path or system. I thought the reasoning was absurd at the time. Such is the youthful mind. I now see it’s the only way to teach. If I really want to share, then I must possess and express an abundance of what others want. Only then, when I’m approached by those who feel they lack what I have, am I free to give. I never will shove onto others what I think they need. It’s always up to them to be accepting. This is why when I attempt to “lead by example” I MUST live what I believe so that others can see cause and effect in action. When this is done well there’s no need to recruit anyone; they will approach and ask how they can reproduce the same results, they will wonder what the hell is in my gas tank.

Personally, I love those who share, even if they are facing a different direction. Magnetic personalities are wired to the qualities of love, compassion, and humility; enviable traits to be sure. It’s hard to not like these people, we want to be in their vicinity, instinctively knowing that their influence by presence alone can help us align with pure spirit. If  however, we meet those people who are in the mode of arguing (or judging) then this acts as a repellent, at least for me. They express doubt, disrespect, and conceit. I pay them as little audience as possible, polity backing away while they look around for fresh prey.

If you are having a difficult time connecting to spirit, I can help with a little experiment I heard Wayne Dyer do with an audience some time ago.

Point to your self…….aw, go on, no one is looking.

One hundred per-cent of people, every culture, every ethnicity, every age does the same thing.

They point to their heart………

No one points to their head. No one. Even though we understand every body function is regulated from this place, we have an awareness there’s something else behind who we are. Our brains are the software, and the body is the hardware, but neither one is the user. Again we come to the difference between religion and spirit. None among us have exactly the same religious beliefs. Not only do doctrines vary widely, but so do opinions within those doctrines. Spirit however, remains constant because its source is identical to everyone else’s, its “seat” shares the same space.

Our connection to the universe is constant and cannot be shut off. It can, however, be ignored, but I do not recommend this course. A lifetime of pleasing the body but not the spirit leads to indulgence and misery. Please do not deny your true self the nourishment it craves. If we feed it what it wants most, recognition, attention, and expression, our lives will embrace peace, joy, and love.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

66. SEEKING DREAMS

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood