The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

I think I love this man:

The wit and wisdom of Mark Twain–wow, I just love his mind! Here are just a few of my favorite lines:

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.

I don’t like to commit myself about heaven and hell – you see, I have friends in both places.

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

And that is just a start. Literally, all of his quotes are epic. You can see a plethora here:

Mark Twain Quotes

As soon as I’m done reading my stack of books, I’m so reading his biography and all his works. I want to know more about the man that could make one laugh and one cry all in the same sitting. Looking forward to enjoying more of the Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain!

Loyalty

Today I want to write briefly about loyalty. Stephen Covey shared this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

He went on to say that what we say about others when they are not around reveals our character, integrity, and loyalty. We should never say anything about anyone that we wouldn’t want them to hear, or that we would be too ashamed or embarrassed to say in their presence. When we talk about others we should do so with the understanding that whatever we say they will eventually end up hearing–because most of the time they will. Not only does backbiting and gossip often get back to the individual, but it convinces those witnessing it that we would be just as quick to criticize them if they were not around.

I love the food for thought Covey dishes out when he queries:

When have you participated in talking about people behind their backs? What is the consequence of this behavior to your own character? to other people’s view of you? When you defend the integrity of a person who is absent, what does that say to those who are present?

The next time people within your hearing are criticizing or discussing a person who is absent , decline to participate. See what happens as a result.

I agree with Eleanor and Mr. Covey. What we say about others when they are not around says a whole lot about us. We should be loyal to other human beings and only say what we wouldn’t be ashamed to have them hear. I try valiantly to always live by this rule, but I do know I’m not perfect and therefore there is room to improve. I want to be impeccable with my word.

Here and Now

I’m reading a great book by psychic medium John Edwards called After Life: Answers from the Other Side. I love the story John related today about the birth of his first son. He was so excited for the delivery day because he just knew there would be a spiritual outpouring as his loved ones–who had formerly passed to the other side–would surely join him and his wife in the hospital room.

He spent extra time meditating and preparing himself for the highly anticipated manifestations. While his wife was laboring to bring their son into the world, John was earnestly focused on summoning his heavenly host. It wasn’t until his wife cried out, “John, where are you?” that he was pulled to the present moment just in time to witness the birth of his firstborn son. His preoccupation with experiencing the divine had almost caused him to miss the moment he’d been waiting for his entire life!

John admits that he was disheartened and deflated that he failed to experience a divine outpouring during the delivery–for he has always been able to summon spirits upon command–but he said that later that day, as he reflected on his disappointment, he realized this powerful truth:

We can’t get caught up with the spiritual world and forget to pay attention to the physical world–to what’s right in front of us. We can’t constantly look for validations from the Other Side every step we take or we’ll miss all the little joys of life on this side. We’re here for a reason–to live our lives as best we can and to be as fully present in our lives as possible. We have to appreciate the validations as they come . . . in their own way.

Isn’t that beautiful? And so true! If we can just learn to enjoy the here and now of wherever we happen to be. Longing for other worlds prevents us from enjoying the one we currently live in. I’m going to redouble my efforts to enjoy the Divine present until the day I return to the Divine Presence.

Seneca

I cannot believe I am just now discovering Seneca! His words are mighty, inspiring and life changing. Thank you, Tim Ferris, for the introduction. Positively brilliant!

Today I read Seneca’s letter Discursiveness in Reading. He is a hearty proponent of thoroughly digesting the works of a few great authors over nibbling from several.

Be careful, however, lest this reading of many authors and books of every sort may tend to make you discursive and unsteady. You must linger among a limited number of master thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind. Everywhere means nowhere. When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends. And the same thing must hold true of men who seek intimate acquaintance with no single author, but visit them all in a hasty and hurried manner.

Now whether or not I agree with his argument is not the point of my post today, for what I found most impactful was this statement:

everywhere is nowhere

Sometimes I feel that way as I try to multi-task through a slew of to-dos. I have learned that I do better when I tackle one task at a time–and my performance peaks when I don’t overload my plate. I achieve the flow state when I work with single-minded focus.

Furthermore, Seneca believed:

The primary indication of a well-ordered mind is a man’s ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company.

Again, life is so much more peaceful and enjoyable when you aren’t overprogrammed and frazzled. It seems that our consumerism society suffers from over-buying, over-committing, over-spending, over-scheduling, over-programming, over-everything. There is something to be said about cutting back. Simplifying. Sitting still. Meditating. Pondering. Being at Peace.

Epicurus wisely stated:

Contented poverty is an honourable estate.

To which Seneca added:

Indeed, if it be contented, it is not poverty at all. It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.

I agree with Seneca when it comes to money, but where I seem to still struggle with a paucity mentality regards the realm of time. I still sometimes feel that I never have enough. Even though I’ve been allotted the same as others, I often pine for more. And while I strive mightily to optimize my every hour, the optimization efforts have a way of becoming quite onerous.

That is why I also like to apply Seneca’s wisdom from his letter The Discursiveness of Reading to the way I view time.  When I find myself focusing on my lack of time, I feel poor. When I stop seeking to perfectly “manage” my time, I feel rich and free.  For me, learning to enjoy my time no matter my endeavor is something I’m working on. I don’t always have to be doing something productive

For me, learning to enjoy my time, no matter my endeavor, is something I’m working on. I don’t always have to be doing something productive because time, like money, is meant to be spent. The abundance mentality I feel so strongly about when it comes to wealth is something I’m striving to transfer to my perception of time.

As Seneca so wisely states:

Do you ask what is the proper limit to wealth? It is, first, to have what is necessary, and, second, to have what is enough.

When it comes to time or money, feeling that you have sufficient for your needs is true wealth indeed.

Morpheus on Beliefs

So I finally watched the CleanFlicks version of the Matrix. In fact, Matt and I borrowed the trilogy from a friend. There were some great quotes in the series–even if some of the fight scenes lasted WAY too long.  One of my favorite quotes was from Morpheus on beliefs. You can watch it now:

Commander Locke:
Damnit, Morpheus, not everyone believes what you believe.

Morpheus:
My beliefs don’t require them to.

What a wonderful world this would be if everyone believed as Morpheus. I’ve got more to say about beliefs and truths, but right now I’m more interested in going to bed.

Angels

Just finished a cool book about Angels by some psychic guide. It was fascinating to learn that according to him, angels are not human. Well, he clarifies that there are spirits in transition that most people refer to as angels, but technically they are not angels, just spirits who have died and not yet passed to the next phase. According to the author, angels are simply spirits who minister to us humans here on earth. Messengers of peace, strength, purity, wisdom, vision and light. I missed a few for he actually discusses 6 specific angels and I think I only nailed 5.

Anyhow, as I commenced reading this book, I took the advice of my speed reading mentor, Howard Berg, and suspended all prior knowledge and beliefs so that I could proceed with an open mind. I feel like that advice has done more for my ability to open myself to new teachings and has facilitated greater learning. It’s hard to acquire and retain new information when we are judging it. We have to give the idea a fair chance to take root. We don’t do that when we approach it with a closed mind.

Once we have suspended belief long enough to cover the material in its entirety, then it’s cool to put back on your analytical cap and see what you believe. It’s just best practice to not try to assimilate information as you are judging it. Analysis can come after.

So it was with an open mind that I consumed the contents of this book on angels and you know what? I liked it a lot. I found a lot of principles in it that ring true with ideas I’ve been taught about the Holy Ghost and ministering spirits. The only area of concern I have is whether or not there is a breed of creatures that are not human, but, like unicorns, are specialized creations sent to inspire and enliven us. Yes I believe in unicorns. Just kidding, I don’t know what I believe about unicorns, but my kiddos and I do find them magically fascinating and thereby inspiring and enlivening.

I am going to finish my mind map of the book so I can remember how to call upon my angels when I need them most. Which is pretty much always. Oh and I’m going to remember to be open to their inspirations because of course I believe in angels. And I’m going to do as the author suggests and act “as if” they are constantly inspiring me.

I think it might be fun to be the crazy lady with all the angels. It’s almost as cool as the crazy lady with all the cats. Page says I have to leave that title to her as she aspires to be a crazy cat lady one day. God bless her for shooting for the stars! She’s an angel to me!

Perspective

The lesson in RS was really fun today. It was on trials–till I changed the tune to perspective– Oh and I say fun because everyone was sharing their thoughts about trials and how hard they can be and I decided it was time to share some of the concepts that have really helped me appreciate the challenges of mortality.

So I shared the three pillars of Buddhism. Non-Permanence (this too shall pass), Non-Resistance (come what may and love it for that which we resist, persists) and Non-Judgement (there is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so–essentially, we are the ones who ascribe meaning to our happenings so change the narrative or label you give your sufferings).

I shared the story of the man who bought the race horse to plow his field and it bucked his son off and broke his leg and how everyone was like “Oh you fool” and then when war broke out and the emperor conscripted all the able body men to fight in his army, his son was passed over because of his broken leg. He did not perish in battle as the other sons did and everyone then said, “Oh how lucky you bought that horse and your son broke his leg.” etc. etc. And I shared about the King who received the golden ring with the inscription “This too shall pass” and how the wisest man gave it to him and it helped him remember that the good and the bad, they all come and go and life is like one continual round of ups and downs.

I shared the analogy of how you can be in the ocean and take the pounding of the waves or you can grab your freaking surf board and ride the waves.

I reiterated the importance of perspective. I taught about how I choose to see trials as opportunities for growth because I believe the purpose of mortality is for me to become like God because one day I will be creating and governing “worlds without end.” If I think I’m going to go to Heaven and float on a cloud all day then I’m greatly mistaken (that sounds to me a lot like hell actually–purposeless floating?). Governing worlds I’m sure is a lot like being a parent and CEO. Day after day, minute to minute, I’m dealing with one problem after another. I don’t call them trials. Others might, but I choose to call them problems because problems have solutions. And just like math, once you know how to solve a problem, the science becomes fun. If we can view our “trials” and “afflictions” as problems with solutions and opportunities to learn and grow, I feel we will be free to enjoy Heaven here and now and not dream of a future day when all our worries and “problems” will go away.

In fact, if we can’t find Heaven here on Earth, I’m convinced we won’t find it when we die. There isn’t some magical transformation that makes a person happy. If we believe addicts will still struggle with their addictions and those who have other character flaws will still have them in the afterlife too, how can we begin to believe that those who can’t create happiness here and now will all the sudden be gifted that in the next life. Yes, happiness is a state of mind and something we create. It isn’t given. It isn’t bestowed. It’s self-created.

So I think I’m on a tangent now, but I shared these thoughts with my fellow sisters, along with my beliefs about how everything is always as it should be. Meaning God doesn’t make mistakes and he is at the helm. It is very powerful to embrace the belief that everything in your life is happening for a reason and that it is all a part of the divine unfolding. Yes, what if all the hell you think you are going through is happening just as the Lord intended? Because if He didn’t intend it, guess what? It wouldn’t be happening. He’s all powerful right? He can stop anything or start anything He wants. If He is all knowing and all loving, then EVERYTHING is always unfolding just as it should. So come what may and love it (yes, that is from Elder Wirthlin and I love him and that saying).

So if you are troubled on every side, close your eyes, wake up from your nightmare and create a new dream or reality (depends on which way you create your illusion). Tell yourself a different story about what is happening in your life. Change the chatter in your brain about how this is so bad or you are not good enough or this is so hard–and watch your so called afflictions become your greatest teachers. For I firmly believe that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

And the teacher will help you learn, develop and master additional skills.

How’s that for a perspective check?  I’ll remember to read my own words of wisdom if I ever forget why challenges are ever present.

Alan Watts

I have been listening to the Essential Collection of Alan Watts. The dude has a brilliant mind in that he can condense Eastern Mysticism into bite size, consumable content well suited for any Western mind. And while I don’t agree with everything he has to say, or some of his personal behavior, I do love hearing him preach on our universal connection. Alan is passionate about helping humans realize how we are all interconnected. In fact, Mr. Watts believes that the ultimate purpose of duality is unity.  The Ying and the Yang, the man and the woman, the front and the back side of a coin . . . are all opposites, yet connected. We, like them, cannot separate ourselves from each other.

Again, I agree that we are all interconnected and one. Which makes me wonder why so many religious conservatives–who also claim to believe in the universal oneness of mankind–typically abhor environmentalists, feminists, gay rights activists, anti-war proponents, animal rights supporters, and more? Do not these causes all stem from a knowing that we are all interconnected and one?

I’m only asking because as someone who was raised as a conservative Christian, I’ve absorbed the prevailing notion that all of the aforementioned are less than desirable positions and causes. But truth be told, I am a fan of protecting the Earth. I believe we must be good stewards, and I believe we should love all people no matter their sex or sexual preferences. I certainly abhor the idea of anyone harming animals, just as I abhor the practice of harming anything or anyone. Could it be that the more interconnected we realize we are, the more we embrace peace, tolerance and love? If this truly is the case, then isn’t this the message we should most be sharing? Or will it lead us to the proverbial Sodom and Gomorrah, Woodstock, free love, social decay, and drugs?

Honestly, I don’t feel like exploring this train of thought any further today. I’m really just thinking out loud. Which is what I do on this blog of mine.

I do, however, want to close with this second incredible thought by Mr. Alan Watts.

Anybody who tells you that he has some way of leading you to spiritual enlightenment is like somebody who picks your pocket and sells you your own watch. 

I love the idea that we are all our own best leaders to enlightenment, and that as possessors of the Divine seed, we have truth planted within. Looking without will not generate the answers we seek for they truly lie inside. God gave us all the gift of enlightenment. Some call it the Light of Christ, others the Holy Spirit. Call it what you will, but to think someone else can lead you to salvation. . . well that is just the silliest sort of thinking. Why wouldn’t God want you to experience Him and truth directly? Why would he want you to drink downstream when you can come to Him– the source of living water to quench your thirst?

Why oh why do we so lemming-like run headlong with the herd off illusory cliffs of certitude?

I’m grateful God gave me my own watch so that I wouldn’t need to rely on anyone else to tell me the time.

And I’m grateful divine synchronicity led me to the teachings of Mr. Alan Watts! I’m only 3 lectures in to his Essential Collection and he’s already reinforced some incredible beliefs.

One Eternal Round

One Eternal Round has come to mean many things to me, but here is a new insight I had today as I was reading from Dr. Dyer’s Inspiration book. He states:

In order to give you must first receive and in order to receive you must first give.

If you want to be inspired your must be an inspiration to others. When you inspire others, you receive inspiration.

Pretty cool quotes that illustrate One Eternal Round.

 

My Sacred Spot in the Sierra Nevadas

I was able to wake up early this morning and hike a 7 mile loop in the Sierra Nevadas from Kingsbury South to Kingsbury North. I only saw one other human being in the entire 3 hours I was in the bowels of the mountains. I was able to find a secluded high spot to talk with God. I wanted to make sure I would not be under condemnation for pursuing and embracing what I now believe to be true. I am feeling so sure that my church is not the only true church on the earth. In fact, I feel like there are many things it teaches that simply are not true. I have worried that I was under the influence of Satan for having these thoughts or that I was “fallen,” but since I read my scriptures every day, pray, attend church, magnify my callings, pay my tithes and offerings and do everything an active, temple recommend holding member of our church is supposed to do, I cannot believe the adversary has power over me.

Plus, I have been praying for God to help me resolve my questions. I have been praying for my Father to show me what is true and to help me find the answers to my questions and day by day, book by book, teacher by teacher, He has been illuminating my path. And it’s a different path than the one I have been walking as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He has not said the Mormon church is not true. He has just confirmed to me that any religion that draws His children to Him and to their fellowmen is loved by Him. In fact, his children do not need a religion to do this if they do it on their own. Religion provides useful scaffolding for those who want and need it. It’s kind of like a pre-assembled meal kit you can buy that contains all the great ingredients needed to make a wonderful, delicious meal. But for individuals who want to cook up their own creations, it will not be a good fit. In fact, organized religion for seekers feels like an unnecessary middleman that prevents one from experiencing the divine directly.

So I decided before making a final move I would like to formally go before God one last time to make sure I was not deceived nor being led astray– for I feel my convictions growing stronger each day.

I climbed to the highest point of the mount just as prophets of old. I kneeled before my maker and poured out my heart–just as I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember.  I told God my worry about becoming enticed by the “philosophies of men.” I expressed my concern about being led astray and  I explained how I did not want to do anything that would cause me to lose my soul. I told him my only desire has always been to do His will and His will only. I have only ever wanted to live a life pleasing unto Him.

I reiterated my desires to love fully as He loves, to serve, to grow, to learn, and ultimately, to become as He is. I begged him to stop me if following my heart and newfound convictions were incorrect. I told him I did not want to lead my children astray. I told him I took the teachings from my childhood and young adult life seriously and that I understood them to mean that I could be deceived and that is why I wanted him to stop me from being an apostate if pursuing the additional light and truth I had found were not correct.

And then I stopped talking. And I sat silent. 

There was no angel, no darkness, no thing but peace, calm, and a sure confidence that I would not be condemned for following what I felt I was being led to do. In fact, I felt love and encouragement. 

God and I made a pact up there high in that mountain. A pact I’ve had for awhile now, but was more or less formalized in this Sacred Spot. We have a “Truth Pact.” 

I am to gather light, truth and knowledge and share it.

I am to do no harm and to love others fully.

I am to follow my heart and to teach others to do the same.

I am to make everywhere a little better.

I am to support others in their beliefs for I believe everyone must walk their own spiritual path and come to their own realizations.

I hope to never make anyone feel inferior for their beliefs or to act like I’m more enlightened than they. I want simply to manifest God’s love in all that I do and continue to enjoy the fruits of the spirit which are peace, happiness, love, and joy. That is why I know I am not being led astray. If I were, I would not feel these feelings that are fruits of the spirit, and I know God would not continue to lead me in this direction if it were not His plan for me.

I hope to revisit my “Sacred Spot” in the Sierra Nevadas at a later date and time. A future day when I will remember with fondness the day “where two roads diverged in the woods and I took the one less traveled by” and it made all the difference!  

For right now, I’m simply enjoying the journey!