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The Path to Joy

10 Principles of Spiritual Optimism
By Deepak Chopra

In his newest book, “Why is God Laughing?” renowned teacher Deepak Chopra gives a humorous take on spirituality–using a fictional tale of a comedian and his unlikely mentor to show the way back to hope, joy, and even enlightenment. Here are 10 principles for spiritual optimism adapted from the fable that will help you direct your life on a path to joy every single day.

1. The Healthiest Response to Life Is Laughter.
This first principle serves as an antidote to fear and sorrow by encouraging you to experience life as joyous….When you feel momentary happiness, or you want to burst out laughing, or you smile for no apparent reason, you are glimpsing eternal reality….In time, these moments of joy will begin to knit together. Instead of the exception, they will become the norm. There is no better way to know that you are growing in God-realization

2. There Is Always a Reason to Be Grateful.
This second principle is an antidote to victimization….The purpose of gratitude is to connect yourself to a higher vision of life….Once you realize that you alone are the projector of reality, you will no longer be dominated by external events. You will correct the mistake that lies at the very root of victimization: a belief that the movie controls you, instead of the other way around.

3. You Belong in the Scheme of the Universe. There’s Nothing to Be Afraid Of. You Are Safe.
The third principle is the antidote for insecurity….The role assigned to you is right and proper. It is tailor-made for you, for your complete self….The voice of fear tries to convince you that you are a helpless victim of chance. The very opposite is true. At the deepest level, the level of the soul, you are the author of everything that happens to you

4. Your Soul Cherishes Every Aspect of Your Life.
The fourth principle is the antidote for feeling undervalued. It states that your worth is absolute, and that everything that happens to you – whether it feels good at the time or not – is part of a divine plan unfolding from the level of the soul….A person’s worth is the value of a soul, which is infinite. Since every event in your life isn’t happening just to a person but to a soul, everything in life should be cherished.

5. There Is a Plan, and Your Soul Knows What It Is.
The fifth principle is the antidote to meaninglessness. It states that your life has a purpose. You determine that purpose at the soul level, and then that purpose unfolds in daily life as part of the divine plan. The more deeply you are connected to the plan, the more powerful it becomes in your life. Ultimately, nothing can stop it.

6. Ecstasy Is the Energy of Spirit. When Life Flows, Energy Is Natural.
The sixth principle is the antidote to inertia. It states that infinite energy is available to you. You are a co-creator with God. To claim your creative power, you need only connect with the primal energies that play within you….The kind of energy you can call upon at any given moment depends on your level of consciousness.

7. There Is a Creative Solution to Every Problem. Every Possibility Holds the Promise of Abundance.
The seventh principle is the antidote to failure. It tells us that every question includes its own answer. The only reason a problem arises before its solution is that our minds are limited – we think in terms of sequences, of before and after. Outside the narrow boundaries of time, problems and solutions arise at the same instant.

8. Obstacles are Opportunities in Disguise.
The eighth principle is the antidote to inflexibility….The secret is to abandon old habits and trust in spontaneity….Whenever you catch yourself reacting in an old, familiar way, simply stop. Don’t invent a new reaction; don’t fall back on the opposite of what you usually do. Instead, ask for openness. Go inside, be with yourself, and allow the next reaction to come of its own accord

9. Evolution Leads the Way Through Desire.
The ninth principle is the antidote to hypocrisy. It encourages us to act on our genuine desires, because they show the way to real growth. Don’t pretend to be better – or other – than you are. Don’t fall into the trap of having one face for the world and another to God. Who you really are is exactly who you should be.

10. Freedom Is Letting Go.
The tenth principle is the antidote to attachment….If you let go of what isn’t real in your life, what’s left will be real: what’s left is God alone….To be free, you must find a way to let go of all the stuck energy that keeps sending the same old messages….The past is a false guide to the future, and yet it’s what most of us rely upon. By letting go of stuck energies, you let go of your past.

(Adapted from “Why is God Laughing: The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism” by Deepak Chopra, Harmony Books, 2008)

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September’s Gate By John T. Macklin

I am captivated as I sit listening and absorbing all
of the magnificent beauty that surrounds me.

It is the grandeur of Mother Nature in all her splendor
like the cleansing waves of the ocean engulfing me through
the sounds of her living spirit whispering in my ears.

In this quiet moment I feel the moist, crispy air brushing
my skin, moving through me like the energizing waves of
time gently caressing my soul.

Entranced by these sensations I catch a shimmering
glimpse of golden leaves dressed with shades of rusty
browns and yellows dancing harmoniously
with the gentle breezes.

Immediately I accept this expression of gratitude, a bidding
of one last farewell made just before transitioning from the
nurturing warmth of summer to the freedom of the fall.

Once more I appreciate the beauty of nature, which
exposes the sensual magic of the silvery golden gate
of the autumnal equinox.

Copyright ©2008 John T. Macklin

Praise Song for the Day

Following is the complete text of “Praise Song for the Day, A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration” as provided by the publisher.

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon of St. Francis of Assisi

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.

To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.

Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs . . .

The only way that we can live, is if we grow.
The only way that we can grow is if we change.
The only way that we can change is if we learn.
The only way we can learn is if we are exposed.
And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open.
Do it. Throw yourself.

― C. JoyBell