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Humbug to Dickens

Humbug to Dickens

Multiple divorces don’t doom everyone to Britneyhood. At Christmas time broken homes, too, can be merry.

BY MICHELLE MORRA-CARLISLE – I wonder how many people feel cheated every Christmas because there is no fluffy snow outside, no cozy fireplace and no Tiny Tim. I must confess that I was down on my own family for years. If ‘A Christmas Carol’ had starred us, Tim and his siblings would have lived with Mrs. Cratchet and only visited Mr. Cratchit on weekends.

This is by no means a sob story. I am, in fact, about to brag about the Christmas I’m about to spend with my mother, husband, sister, stepsister, half-brother and his girlfriend, stepfather and stepfather’s first wife (stepsister’s mother). As my sister puts it, “all three of our parents are twice divorced.” Yet I challenge any nuclear family out there to have a more fun, more loving time than we will have.

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spiral dynamics

Are there two tiers of consciousness?

What is Spiral Dynamics? When to apply your own knowledge to everyday life

BY MICK QUINN AND DEBORA PRIETO (Read the first part of this two-part series— The easiest way to understand the essential nature of Spiral Dynamics (SD) is to picture a ladder that twists into a never-ending spiral, the top end of which is constantly evolving.

The first six levels of consciousness comprise the “First Tier,” the top from which a revolutionary shift in consciousness occurs that allows for the emergence of the Second Tier. The vMemes (v – for values) that comprise these first two tiers are given a color, making the discussion of SD much easier.

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The Truth is in the Music

The Truth is in the Music

If the story of Christmas Eve feels like a myth, it is — a very truthful and divine one.

DAVID RICKEY — As I approach Christmas, I find myself asking the question normally reserved for Passover: Why is this night different from all other nights? What is it about the sacred Christmas story that so engages us?

I don’t believe any of the “events” described in the Christmas story. There are actually three stories that don’t agree but are brought together to make the Creche scene complete. The wise men, or Magi, come from Matthew. The Shepherds and sheep come from Luke. The stable is Luke, while Matthew has Jesus born in a house. John just gets philosophical, and Mark doesn’t even mention the birth at all.

But these are not historical stories, even if the authors believed they were. They are myths in the deepest sense, just as Joseph Campbell would have described them. My working definition of myth here is “a culturally shaped story that attempts to express awareness of a mystery.” The story isn’t true. The myth hints, successfully I believe, at Truth.

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When pain afflicts the enlightened

When pain afflicts the enlightened

The ‘real’ Secret: Physical illness doesn’t discriminate. A person with a healthy spirit is not immune to bodily harm — but is well equipped to gain something sacred from the journey.

DAVID RICKEY: A friend and spiritual mentor recently told me that he had brain cancer. The shock was especially strong because his brain, or more accurately his brilliance, was what I most admired in him. Of all the cancers this one seemed especially unfair.

Since receiving the news I have started pondering the suffering we human beings experience. For my friend, I imagined the suffering would likely be twofold. First, there would be physical suffering, which was already starting in the form of headaches and the nausea. But secondly, and perhaps more difficult to handle, would be the mental and emotional pain of losing the ability to think and process his experiences along the journey. He was already having difficulty remembering simple things and finishing sentences.

I once read that a man asked his spiritual teacher, “Is death real or an illusion?” After a long pause, the master replied, “Death is a very real illusion.” While I hope we are not looking at death here, the suffering of our body and of our mental life is, on one level, a very real illusion. Our body and thoughts are not who we really are. Attachment – or identifying with our body or thoughts – is what leads to suffering. While I believe this is true, here is the bigger illusion: the idea that spiritual enlightenment will prevent suffering in the body or in life.

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An antique prayer for anxious times

An antique prayer for anxious times

Laid-off, foreclosed, going broke, ill, stressed, lonely or sad? The Novena to St. Jude is tailor-made for times of troubles

BY SOUL’S CODE — Call it a Catholic meditation. Call it a koan of loving kindness. In the 19th century, the Novena to “the forgotten saint” Jude was known as a prayer for desperate cases, or when a miracle is needed. It now seems perfectly scripted for this century.

With almost one fifth of the U. S. workforce unemployed or under-employed — and five million Americans losing their jobless benefits between Thanksgiving, 2010 and March, 2011 — is it any wonder that a new study estimates that one-fifth of the population of the last ‘superpower’ suffered from a mental illness last year?

So if you’re feeling in any way left out at the turn of this new year and new decade, we reproduce the Novena to St. Jude below as a spiritual prescription.

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Christmas a pagan holiday? Yule be surprised

Christmas a pagan holiday? Yule be surprised

Why Bill O’Reilly’s defense of Christmas is secretly un-Christian

BY DANNY KENNY — Fox News talk-show personality Bill O’Reilly thinks the Holidays just won’t be the same without The Tree, Santa, the gifts of appreciation, the mistletoe and holly, etc. These are the things he claims are threatened with extinction by the so-called ‘War on Christmas.’

But I guess he doesn’t realize that these traditions he’s apparently missing from his Irish Catholic childhood are thoroughly pagan in origin, some dating back 4,000 years. Which begs the question: So, Bill, what in the name of Jesus are Yule celebrating?

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“Swami Ji” and falling in love for the first time, in the true sense of the verb

The holy man I met, “Swami Ji”, has no organization, TV show, or book. His name simply means “great teacher.”

BY SMADAR DE LANGE — How would you describe the experience of falling in love? For me, meeting with Swami Ji (personal name: Krishnamurti) was like falling in love. I fell in love with love itself, and this love had no limitations of being channeled into one person only.

What are we looking for when we are going to meet those who are labeled as spiritual teachers? Do we look for an end for our sufferings?

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The secret spiritual life of football

SPIRITUAL IQ QUIZ — Football. It’s more than just men running around a field getting sweaty. Its physicality makes it a test of nerve. Its complexity makes it a test of brains. Talk to many professional players and they’ll tell you it’s a test of the spirit, too.

Football is more than just a turkey-day tradition. Indeed, it’s also a spiritual exercise. After all, can there be a better example of how to give thanks than an end-zone Hail Mary dance?

Let’s find out how much you know about the secret spiritual lives of 49ers coach Mike Singletary, Dolphins running back Ricky Williams, “Minister of Defense” Reggie White and their NFL brethren.

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The Non-Accidental Universe

The Non-Accidental Universe

Our own intentions don’t trump those of the universe. Even BP received signs from above before the Gulf oil spill

DAVID RICKEY: Long before the big spill, something or someone — let’s say God or the universe — tried to warn BP Oil and its contractors that a massive blowout was imminent. Eleven workers and thousands of birds, mammals and reptiles would still be alive today had the company paid attention to the warning signs rather than exert its own will.

The more I read, and more importantly the more I experience, I am convinced there is a purpose behind this whole amazing universe. Or, to bring it down to a bit more manageable level, behind life on this planet. My own life is full of synchronicities,

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Ego halo

W got me thinking: The ego parodoxically drives both evolution — and war

“Not to do a Mel Gibson but most wars are among peoples influenced by the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). What they have in common is a belief in a personal soul that survives death.”

BY DAVID RICKEY — George Bush’s November media blitz to promote his new autobiography, Decision Points, got me thinking about the distinction between the mindless ego and the mindful one, which W lacks. His new book is as myopic and self-servingly spun as his presidency: Even after public testimony before the 9/11 Commission and Congress proving that the CIA had warned the president of an al Qaeda offensive inside the U.S. a month before the World Trade Center attack, Bush deludedly declares that he had no clues that it was coming.

But while Bush’s personality is an exhibit on public display of the ego at its worst — for its self-deception, narcissism and so many other reasons — the ego at its most elemental is a necessary virtue.

To the ears of many Soul’s Code readers and practitioners defending the ego is the spiritual equivalent of saying, “greed is good.” In mystical traditions, the ego is officially verbotten — an entity that needs to be nuked in the name of knowing and liberation.

But I could not be writing this, and you could not be reading it, without an ego.

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