God

113. SEEKING HIGHER HIGHER POWER

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Twelve step programs can be life-saving paths for those in desperate need of direction and support. My opinion sides with the obvious, they are highly available and free; which means when it comes to people blithering out excuses they’re in a hopeless place where no one will help them, my eyes roll backwards so far I can see my bald spot. One thing’s for sure, the effectiveness of any particular group is limited to the quality of the recovery of those in said group, which means messages and lessons will vary drastically. This sucks, but it’s all too true. It ALSO means when first entering the program one must go to a large variety of meetings before one where healing and more importantly, honesty is required on both sides of the table.

The idea of embracing a higher power, insofar as what’s expected by the steps themselves and those who are willing to help and guide you, is probably the most common stumbling block I’ve encountered. Some oppose the structure of A.A. and similar programs because of what they feel are built-in Christian ethics and ideas. Hogwash. Yes, there are some references to religion, but rest assured no one is forcing this. There are zero recruitment practices encouraged. It exists for two very important reasons, at least as far as I’m concerned.

  1. Most people have some sort of religious background in the first place, and in the United States it happens to be Christianity, which, by the way, covers a plethora of beliefs and titles, most of which don’t get along anyway.  Even if this is only from unwanted childhood experiences, very few people have never been to a church service. Let’s face it, a lot of us grew up with celebrating the holidays of Christmas and Easter anyway through television specials and family events, so there’s a Pavlovian response built-in.
  2. There HAS to be a starting point to the idea of embracing a “higher power.” Where the person goes from here is totally up to them.

The preconception of a “higher power” as needing to be a deity of some sort is nothing more than an excuse on the part of the person seeking treatment to deny help and go back to a self-destructive and self-centered lifestyle. 

Let’s take a look at what “higher power” actually means. I can think of no one on Earth who cannot look toward a “higher power.” No one at all. If you are the type of person who wants more money, there are thousands of people who are obviously above you on the food chain. If it’s a peaceful mind you seek, one free of mental torture and anguish, there are legions of people who successfully practice this lifestyle. If it’s alcohol you want to be free from, trust me, there are plenty of those who were once in a hopeless state now willing to share their journeys. ANYONE who possess what we want is indeed a higher power. This is the way of life to begin with. We learn to read, communicate, work, play, and improve everything we do on the heels of those who have gone before us. Without the willingness to be led by others we are left with nothing but trial and error, and while trial and error may ever so slightly advance us toward our goals, it’s a horse and buggy ride compared to the rocket ship of teacher/student. The speed at which we learn from others is determined by a single factor, we MUST be willing to be criticized, which is the same thing as dropping the ego and embracing humility. This is a skill, one that can be honed and perfected, and when it’s wielded with practice and focus, can command the very power of the universe. Take notice that religion is totally off the table at this point. If this way of embracing life leads to an inner understanding of what God means to you, so be it. As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter.

I will add this last observation which comes from experience. Don’t let the walls of A.A. (or any 12 step program) hold you in from exploring other venues and ways of expressing your dreams and goals. The Big Book itself says these two sentences towards the end of chapter eleven. “Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little.” Even the authors of this manuscript were insightful enough to admit their way was only a start. I’ve known many people who have sought out other paths in addition to the program and it can be a wonderful, and more than likely necessary enhancement, to a stratospheric life. It certainly has for me.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

 

83. A MINOR MIRACLE

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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…

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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- 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

 

76. SO CLOSE TO GIVING UP…….

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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 – WELCOME TO SELF-HELP AND RECOVERY FOR BEGINNERS! 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

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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 of 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.

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

 

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

67. AA BIRTHDAY……19 years, JULY 28TH, 1995

19 years

When I went to my first meeting I was living in Des Moines; alone with no future and a lot of past. It must have been a bad weekend or night because something prompted me to make a call to find the nearest group. Upon walking through those doors for the first time I definitely became a little weak-kneed. Even though I was uncomfortable with the environment, the urge to bolt never occurred to me. I was unwilling to put myself in the spotlight, so I sat tight-lipped and did my best to listen while I silently judged those surrounding me. I came to the conclusion I was in a room full of criminals, me included. That was three and a half years before I finally stopped drinking. I’d been living a life of constant desperation, and that’s just about as close to death one can get before breathing stops. We see movies and TV shows about the living dead, zombies if you will; and I’m here to tell you, they are real. I was one of them. So are a great many more. I fed upon death and produced nothing. I didn’t care who I had hurt, I didn’t care about tomorrow, and I didn’t even care for the moment. The only thing that kept me going was fear.

Occasionally I would go to meetings when my shame weighed heavy and my life seemed lost, but I never did what was asked so simply of me until  drank my last drink; I HAD to hand my life over to a higher power. The humor of the situation (so easy to see now) was that almost everyone had a better life than I did, in other words I didn’t have to search very far for my “higher power.”

If you are looking for your “higher power” please keep in mind all this has to mean is asking for help from someone who is in a better place. In the end, this is all it should be anyway. God is omniscient to begin with, which means the presence we seek is everywhere and in everybody. I’ve said it for years, “the cosmic radio has never moved from the station, we just turned down the volume.” Turning up the volume will effectively drown out  our own misgivings and insecurities. Keeping it down will amplify our doubts and fears that in turn will be the seeds of self-destruction.

IF you are thinking about going to a meeting; if you are considering trying to change your path, here are a few pointers. These are the first flames in the darkness, may they guide you to a place of peace and prosperity.

  • Ask for help from those who have made it beyond the same place you now stand.
  • Do not question what comes next, do what you are told. For the moment whoever “they” are, they are the higher power.
  • Know that you will probably be angry about what is asked of you, this is normal and unavoidable, do it anyway.
  • You must be willing to pay any price. This is better known as a leap if faith.
  • Breath. Do not worry about the future, do not regret the past, focus on the moment. This is called “one day at a time.”
  • This is a program designed to strip the ego. Selfishness and self-centeredness must be eliminated or you will die. Period.
  • This program has never failed those who live by its words.

The BEST people I know are members of this organization. I’m totally serious. If it weren’t for them I would most surely be long dead. Those who take it to heart and practice and share the steps I would trust my life to; actually I do. Do not let your fear stop you from a future that might never happen. Know that I and many others Love YOU, really. Give us the chance to prove it.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

66. SEEKING DREAMS

sunrise-over-st.-mary-lake-glacier-national-park-montana_1024x768_25386 (1)

 

 

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

62. AN OPEN MIND

open mind2

Every time I’ve asked someone if they are open-minded they inevitably say “yes.” This response tells me this quality is a desirable one; nobody wants to admit being close-minded. I don’t; and yet I’m willing to admit that even with this obvious recognition of appeal, I still hesitate to change my point of view; in other words, I’m know probably going to defend what I believe. I feel this observation can be quite useful. When I’ve asked someone this before new, potentially conflicting information is offered, it gently persuades by lowering the defense system of the receiver. In essence it really does open the mind.

When taken one step further, I must ask if “I” am open-minded, even if the person talking to me has no intention of asking it. This requires practice and discipline. When done properly I do my best to let go all thoughts of rebuttal. To be honest if all I do is listen, I’m fine; not easy for a guy like me. I’m an intensely emotional, idea-oriented person. When others speak it triggers a response mode in me, a fault I freely admit needs a lot of work. Some label me as opinionated because of how I react, but that seems somewhat off definition. One of my root belief systems is “I always get everything I want; all I have to do is change my mind.” Yes, I’ll stand my ground and will attempt to justify what I think works best in the moment, and I’ll suggest alternative choices; but even though I do these things, I’m still always searching for a better method.

During one of our many discussions my friend, Joe, handed me the most challenging, or perhaps “disturbing” philosophy I had heard up to that point.

He had been trying to get me to understand and embrace what he was saying when he changed tactics. “Do you think you’re open-minded?”

As he expected, this diminished my attitude of stubbornness. “Uh……yea, I guess I am.” I hesitated while Joe kept staring at me. “Okay, what’s your definition of open-minded?”

He continued to look straight at me. “IF………if you really do want to become an open-minded person, the only  thing you MUST believe in is that you might be wrong about everything.”

I didn’t say anything as I felt the blood draining from my face.

On the surface the idea doesn’t really seem to inspire, does it? What if I’m wrong about everything? What if this entire blog is completely off-base? What if I have  to start over? What if my entire life has been a mistake? The good news is these type of questions don’t have to be asked. The apparent overwhelming implications need not be disabling. What needs to be in place is the willingness to simply ask similar ones without using the word “I” in a sentence, that’s all. What if someone else is right? What if someone else has a better blog? What if another person knows how to start over? What if another person has all the answers? This is the true power of humility. The exercise of removing the “I” from our lives is also the same willingness that embraces a higher power. I think this revelation has massive implications to those who seek a personal understanding  of God.

An “open” mind seamlessly connects us to others and creates empathy. When this thought process is projected it will eventually find itself embracing the universe without judgement. On the other hand, a “closed” mind will have the opposite effect. This thought process will isolate us, invite prejudice, and will conclude with an implosion of selfishness. I’m sure you don’t need me to point out examples, there are plenty in everyone’s life that support this line of reasoning.

I suppose the best way to live is with our arms, our eyes, our ears, and our minds wide open. Is not life about discovery? Who really wants every day to be the same? Why not explore the minds and lives of others? Why hoard old ideas and patterns? Why not clean out the rubbish that no longer serves to elevate us? Throw open the doors and windows of your mind and let the breeze of change refresh all that has become old and stale. It’s just more evidence that cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/discover-challenges/open-minded/

51. GHOST STORY

ghost

This is a tale of supernatural coincidence. It is the story of a miracle, and I swear every word is 100% true.

Day 1

A few years ago, around 2005, I decided to find out how my AA sponsor was doing. It had been some time since hearing from him and didn’t quite know where he was since I hadn’t written down his address. His phone had been disconnected as well.  This didn’t surprise me because the last time we spoke he’d mentioned cutting back on non-essential bills now that he was in retirement with  a limited income.  I’d visited his apartment since he moved, but couldn’t recall exactly where it was. The general vicinity was known, however I wasn’t about to go around randomly looking, hoping to recognize it. I found a web site designed for locating people and paid for some information, which to my surprise, proved quite useful. The following Saturday morning I set out to see my friend. My spirits were dampened upon arriving, it was a security building; hadn’t remembered that. After trying Joe’s number for several minutes without an answer I randomly tapped on several other buzzers hoping the occupants wouldn’t get too mad; there was no response. I then spent the good part of an hour trying to figure out how to get word to him some other way and was finally rewarded with a chance to approach a tenant who was leaving. Gathering my groveling skills I pleaded shortly with the gentleman to let me in so I might at least leave a note on his door. The first synchronicity was about to happen. The man was living in the apartment Joe had occupied. He suggested talking to the property manager and maybe she could give me some information on his whereabouts. It was a couple of buildings over, and I found the office with little effort. I called the number on the door and left a message that went something like this, “You don’t know me but I’m a friend of Joe Patton. He used to live here and I can’t find him. I know you don’t have to, but could you please call me and let me know if you remember him and if he is ok?” I left her my number not expecting a reply since I’d asked for information of a personal nature.

Day 2

On Sunday morning around 8:00 a.m. I received a call from the manager of the apartment complex. She was very kind, more than helpful, and a little sad. I had a slight suspicion what was wrong. She told me Joe had committed suicide about a year and a half prior.  My response to the news was surprising. A peace settled over me and I was happy for him. The funny thing was, I didn’t think I would react that way. By no means did I agree with his actions, but I felt I understood them. He had said some time back he may be going into hospice. I thought he was exaggerating his situation, not out of rudeness or insensitivity, but because he always acted and moved with such a healthy swagger. Obviously this had not been the case. After looking at his situation from the point of view of an addict, I could understand why it made sense to him. He had left a lifetime of dependencies in his wake and when suddenly faced with the possibility of leaving this world full of drugs that would violate his ethics, then the option of self-termination became a justifiable alternative. I’d read years ago that suicide is actually a crime, so I surmised calling the police might yield more information. My goal was to pay respects to wherever his remains were. They told me that obvious suicides are not crimes and are simply handled by the coroner’s office. I sent off an e-mail with all the information I had asking if they could let me know anything else about Joe. Synchronicity number two was about to happen. That night I went to my basement and got online to relax. Literati is a generic version of Scrabble I used play almost every day on Yahoo! While playing I would usually turn on my “personal” radio station through a now defunct web site called Launchcast. It was a music service that allowed the listener evaluate songs, albums, and artists. Given enough time, 90% of what streamed would become whatever the user had  graded. At this point I had around 5000 ratings, more than enough to cater very personally to me. For the most part every tenth song or so was either a new release or something that the system had guessed matched my preferences.  About half a dozen times or so (at this point, for the last year and a half) a soundtrack had popped up  that never matched my tastes or had anything on it I’d approved. This was the music to Joe’s favorite movie. It’s called “Last of the Dogmen.” It was released in the mid nineties and it’s about a lost tribe of American Indians found in modern times. Well…….as I was playing online that night, here it came. The name of the track was, “Somebody’s out There.” The hair on the back of my neck went up, not out of fear but recognition of what was going on. I was alone and looked around slowly to see if anything was moving or if I could actually glimpse an apparition of some sort. I didn’t notice anything and didn’t have to. I slept very well that night.

Day 3

It’s Monday morning now, and another phone call came, this time around nine. There was a kind and sympathetic person on the other end. Within a few minutes the Coroner had given me all the details he could about Joe. He told me how he died and that one of his friends had taken care of the funeral arrangements. I knew he couldn’t give me any private information about Joe’s friend for obvious reasons, but instead asked if he could call the man in question and give him my number. He said he would be very happy to try and I said goodbye thinking it wouldn’t work. (I would have been upset if I hadn’t tried.) Within three minutes there was yet another call from a man named Chris.  We talked for a while and came to the end of the road metaphorically speaking. He told me his ashes were spread in a park near Boulder. Chris was most compassionate and he seemed happy that someone still cared for Joe. And that was it….I thought. Synchronicity number three was about to bear down like a locomotive. As usual that night I was in the basement playing my game to unwind while listening to music when Joe’s soundtrack popped up again. Two days in a row for something that had never been listened to or rated? Now it was weird enough it played the night before, but this was way too specific to be considered some sort of random event. The title of this particular track was “Leaving Forever” Hmm. Now……….the next song was one that actually had been rated years before but not heard yet. Queen released an album in 1980 called “The Game” it was extremely popular at the time and being a fan of the group I had marked all the tracks as high as possible. The song that started playing next was called “Don’t try Suicide.” What a way to say farewell. I leaned back in my chair without needing to look around for any physical evidence of his presence and said out loud, “Good-bye, Joe.”  

Is he gone now? No. I still ask him for his opinions; I still ask him for guidance; I still ask him for his presence; and while my prayers may not be answered in ways I can verify or explain, they are indeed always answered. I miss my friend even though I know he’s never really left. This story is for you Joe, rest in peace.  

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood