The Beginning of Peace

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Photo by Tamara Menzi.

New! Audio Version.

 

This blog is a follow-up to my last blog, entitled “The End of Violence.”

Where does peace begin? The simple answer is, it begins with me, and you. Peace on a large scale is not possible unless peace on a small scale is possible. The idea that peace begins with me inspired me some years ago and, as a result, I began to think world peace is possible. I mused that peace is possible with me, therefore world peace is possible.

How does peace begin right where we are? It starts with an intention, or, more accurately, a commitment. It starts with each one declaring “I intend to be peaceful toward myself and all other beings.” Here begins an amazing journey of growth and discovery.

For we know, the moment will come when we experience something other than peace toward ourselves or another. Something will eventually occur that triggers us, takes us to anger or some sort of disharmony. This is not a problem, so long as our intention and commitment to be peaceful are solid. When our intention and commitment are solid, the trigger becomes a further step toward peacefulness as we look more deeply into ourselves to see what did cause us to be unpeaceful.

The only way to become the embodiment of peace is to uproot all within us that is not peaceful. The clear intention and commitment to be peaceful is the vehicle to create this uprooting. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if the very moment that we declared our intention to be peaceful, that moments later we noticed something in ourselves that was anything but peaceful.

Our intention to be peaceful doesn’t create the experience of being unpeaceful; it reveals the unpeaceful aspects that are already present within us, so that they may be transmuted.

I am reminded of when I participated in a ten-day silent Buddhist Vipassana meditation retreat. One of the agreements while we were there was that we would not kill, which I thought was a ridiculous agreement for people committing to meditate in silence for ten days. Of course, we wouldn’t kill; no agreement necessary. Then, moments after arriving, upon entering my room, I discovered a mosquito. My natural reflex kicked in and, just before smashing it into oblivion, I remembered my agreement not to kill, and suddenly I felt silly at how quickly I was about to break the agreement, that was supposedly unnecessary.

This experience illustrates the power of intention and commitment. They reveal to us, like nothing else, the ways that we are not living up to them, so that we may take corrective action to come into alignment. No matter how many times we slip, each slip leads us closer to alignment with our intention and commitment.

In this way, peace for ourselves becomes possible. We become more peaceful with ourselves and more peaceful with those around us. Experiencing our peace, those around us are more likely to be more peaceful. Thus, one person at a time, world peace becomes possible.

This is likely the only way that world peace is possible—one person at a time, doing the inner work to create peace within themselves. One great thing about this is that the more peacefulness we create individually, the easier we make it for others to be peaceful because there are fewer triggers to bring forth unpeaceful reactions in others. In addition, we create an example of what peacefulness looks like for others to emulate and embody.

Yes, world peace is possible. And, yes, it begins with me, and you. I’m in; are you? I know you are, so I am already excited about the world at peace. I rejoice at all the examples I see every day of my own peacefulness and the peacefulness of others. And, then I rejoice at how my attention and gratitude for the peace that already is, magnifies it.

Oh, it just keeps getting better! Enjoy the journey.

The End of Violence

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A sense of separation is at the root of violence. In fact, it is unthinkable to commit violence toward another when we see them clearly as an expression of the divine, and we see our own nature, and their nature, as divine, and therefore as love.

Whether it be violence toward oneself or violence toward another, a sense of separation from divinity is a necessary component. When we truly know that we are made in the image and likeness of God, violence in any form is inconceivable.

There many exemplifications and exhortations to violence in the sacred texts of the world’s major religions, including the Bible of Christianity, the Bhagavad Gita of Hinduism, the Torah of Judaism, and the Koran of Islam. However, we miss the point when we take those references out of the context of the history, cultural norms of the times they were written, and the use of metaphor in the distillation of wisdom.

Religion and spirituality point us to our highest nature, and the highest nature of others. The golden rule, in some form, can be found in all the world’s major religions. Violence in the name of religion, or pitting religions as in opposition to one another, are just more forms of separation.

The end of violence requires that we let go of all forms of separation.

It is a natural part of our development and maturity as human beings to individuate, that is to form our own identity, separate from that of our family and others. However, that is just a step along the way, not a place to get stuck. Having established our identity as a unique self, we are further called to see that we are ultimately not a unique self, but a unique expression of one greater self, that we could call God or the Universe. Whatever we call it, more and more we are coming to see that all of life is connected and one, not separate. We need only look to the latest developments in quantum theory to understand this better.

To corroborate this with some physical evidence, we can look at our genetic structure. Of all the differences that we find among ourselves as human beings, these differences are contained in less than one percent of our DNA. That is, as human beings, more than 99 percent of our genetic structure is identical. Thus, in all the ways that we find to separate ourselves from each other, physically we are more than 99 percent the same.

To further explore our oneness, we can view it experientially. It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. In workshops, when we invite people to gaze deeply into one another’s eyes, time and again we find ourselves feeling deep love and compassion for the person before us. We truly “see” them, perhaps for the first time. This is even the case when, moments before, people were feeling great animosity toward one another. Somehow, in truly seeing each other, we remember who we are and who the person before us is, as we each were before we individuated – Divine Spirit.

Let’s have a global call to eye gazing, a call to truly see one another as the divine beings we each are. That is the end of violence.

Enjoy the journey.

Communicating Across the Divide

Greetings Friends,

I want you to know about this very important online class I am offering.

Do you feel challenged at times communicating with colleagues, friends, or family in a world that seems ever more polarized? Do you wish you could cut through the differences that seem to divide us and have meaningful communication with those of differing perspectives? Would you like to be a powerful force for bridging the gaps that separate us?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this class, which starts next week, could be perfect for you.

Here is some more information…

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Communicating Across the Divide

An online class for those who want to
breakthrough the barriers that seem to separate us.

Three Thursdays. May 11 – May 25
@ 5:30 – 7:00 pm Pacific

All classes are recorded, so you never miss one.

 

register me for this course buttonOnly $59 for all three sessions.


Some would say our country and world are very divided today, but does that mean we can’t talk to each other?

How does a vegan talk to a non-vegan?

How does a Democrat relate to a Republican?

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How does a spiritual person have meaningful dialog with a religious person?

How do we engage with our family and friends who see the world differently than we do?

Yes, these divides exist, but do they need to keep us separate, or are there ways to begin hearing each other? What if each perspective is part of the wholeness that can bond us to expand possibilities for all? What if there is a way to powerfully communicate your truth while also compassionately listening to those across the divide?


About Rev. Gregory Toole

Gregory Toole is Spiritual Director of Somseva whose mission is to inspire authentic, compassionate relationships through spiritual education, tools, and practice that promote peacemaking and conscious action. ForLinkedIn_WarnkeGregoryToole20140509-IMG_6270

He was formerly Director of Member Support and Education for Centers for Spiritual Living where he played an integral part in reuniting two organizations that had split more than 50 years prior. Gregory was assigned the task of finding a way to bridge major differences in educational philosophy between the two separate organizations. Those differences were said to be the one factor that might render the reunification impossible.

After bringing the parties together regularly over a period of many months, Gregory was able to get them to begin looking at their values and to detach from specific ways of doing things, instead focusing on how they might find new ways of doing things that honored the values of each organization. The effort was a success and today Centers for Spiritual Living is in the rare position of having reunited its denomination after more than 50 years of separation.

Gregory has worked with many individuals to have similar breakthroughs in how they relate to friends, colleagues, family, and those in their life that they find difficult. He has found that, while relating to others can be challenging, there are tools and practices to support us. His passion is sharing those tools and practices.

How to Deal with Difficult People

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Most of us probably have people in our lives that present us with communication challenges. In truth, there are no difficult people, only those that we experience as difficult.

What do we do when we encounter challenges in communicating? Before we do anything, getting centered can be helpful – taking a deep breath, reminding ourselves that it is an experience that will pass, and feeling ourselves anchored in our bodies and on the earth.

One person wrote some years ago that the way to deal with difficult people is to find out what they want and give it to them. There is much wisdom in this. We are all just trying to get our needs met, and some people are more challenged in that endeavor than others, sometimes leading to dysfunctional behaviors. If we can turn our attention away from the dysfunctional behaviors, and instead to finding out what they are needing or wanting, there we might find greater ease and the possibility of accord.

In getting our own needs met, are we straightforward? Do we say exactly what we want, or do we hint or disguise what we want? If the latter is true, what is the root of these behaviors? Do we truly believe we deserve to have our needs met, that it’s okay to ask for what we want?

It seems that so much conflict results from being afraid to ask for what we really want, or afraid that we won’t get our needs met. If we can understand this about ourselves and others, we can begin to have compassion for our human condition. We can be clearer in our own communication, and we can help others to be clear in theirs.

This one thing – understanding what we ourselves want and understanding what others want – goes a long way. A step further is to be okay with our own needs, and to be accepting of others’ needs.

We may not always be able to give others what they need from us, but at least, knowing what their needs are puts us in the position to do so, or to give an alternative, or at least allow the other person to feel heard and understood. In the same way, we may not always get our needs met from others, but at least, if we are communicating clearly and give ourselves permission to ask, we have a chance of getting our needs met.

The invitation this day is to listen deeply to what others are needing and to communicate boldly and clearly what we need or desire.

Enjoy the journey.


If you liked this article, check out our upcoming online class…

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What Just Happened?

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Many across the United States and the world are in a period of shock as we take in and process what just happened in our recent elections. The result was surprising and has left most of us trying to understand what this means for us. This seems to be true even if our candidate won. President-elect Trump was a different kind of candidate than any in my lifetime.

Regardless of political affiliation, including those with no party affiliation, it seems we are all being called to something. If this recent election is symbolized by anything, it seems to be a desire for great change. My recent blog, The Deeper Call of the Election, turned out to be quite prophetic in retrospect as I spoke of this desire for change as the reason why such different candidates as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump gained popularity.

In discussion since the election, someone made the point that many argued that Donald Trump’s supporters included many who were uneducated, implying that those with less education somehow don’t deserve to be heard. Embarrassingly, I had to acknowledge that I was one who had referenced this fact.

Another wake up call for me was when I spoke to two young gay men in their twenties in Denver, a rather liberal city. They indicated they had voted for Donald Trump and I literally thought they were joking as they did not fit my profile of a Trump supporter in any way. What was the reason for their vote? They feel the country needs a major change.

This brought home to me what I had already wrote about – this is a time ripe for change as so many people are no longer willing to accept the status quo.

While some who voted for Trump may share some of his more extreme views that could be interpreted as racist, sexist, or otherwise discriminatory, it is hard to ignore this greater phenomenon of people insisting and demanding that we create a different kind of world.

It seems that our future hangs in the balance and each one of us is called to ask what kind of world we want to create. While many are anxious about what the President-elect will do once in office, rather than give in to fear, our energies are more worthy of being focused on what this is calling each of us to step up to.

Certainly, we should be vigilant and stand up to anything that would roll back progress around equality or in any other arena. At the same time, I believe the greater call is to take the opportunity to see where we each are not fully stepping up to fulfilling our own calling.

Many whom I’ve talked to are now feeling and acting on a greater sense of urgency and immediacy to usher in a world that represents the highest of what we want to create. It has been said that nature abhors a vacuum, and, in this atmosphere that is so ripe for change, there will likely be great change. Therefore, this is not a time to stand on the sidelines. Rather it is a time to be active with our voices, our actions, and our spiritual practice.

While the process of creation is not often comfortable, if we can open ourselves to the great possibilities that lay before us and replace resistance to change with active participation in change, it can also be a very exciting time.

With candidate Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote, Donald Trump winning the electoral college vote based on voting by state, Bernie Sanders winning a significant percentage of votes in the primaries, third party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson getting significant interest, and President Barack Obama leaving office with a high approval rating, there is no mandate for anyone.

Let us join in prayer and action to create a world that works for everyone.

Enjoy the journey.

The Deeper Call of the Election

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This presidential election season is clearly different than any in recent memory. Many feel frustrated, disillusioned, or perhaps even resigned with regard to the election.

However, as conscious beings, it behooves us to look beneath the appearances and to ask what is the higher calling that is beckoning us. Some insight can be gained from looking at the surprising popularity of candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, clearly not presidential material by past standards of electability.

Although very different candidates, the success of these two candidates stems from similar longings in the voters. The success of each represents a strong desire on the part of the electorate for significant change.

Whether we like either of these candidates or not, we can take solace in the symbolism that depicts a desire and willingness for change on the part of so many of our fellow citizens in the United States.

If we focus on this desire for change, and align with it, then we may find cause for hope and a place for us to take action.

What role can each of us take in casting a greater vision and joining with the many others who want change, and to harness that energy to bring about good in the world?

If we can turn away from what many see as the unseemliness of this election season, and instead see how the collective desire for change is an energy to join with, then we can let the politicians be politicians, while we ourselves put our energy into the important role that we are to play to bring about change.

In this time when people are so ready for change, what great ideas are we called to give birth and to invite others to join us in birthing?

This is a time that is ripe for new ideas, new ways of being and doing, and new paradigms. Will we waste our energy complaining about the politicians or will we take our rightful place? Will we worry about the politicians getting it right, or will we make sure that we each get it right, that we don’t miss the opportunity to bring forth what is ours to bring forth?

The invitation this day is to recognize that the timing is perfect for bringing forth your great idea and to focus your energy on inviting others to join you in creating newness. Let us bless the candidates for elected office, vote our conscience, and relish this auspicious time in human history.

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory Toole offers spiritual life coaching to individuals and groups who want to create and live extraordinary lives. For more information, go to gregorytoole.com.

The Power of Visioning

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What would it be like if you could have absolute clarity on the highest path for your life, know exactly what you need to do to fulfill it, and be empowered to bring it to fruition? This is what the Life Visioning Process offers.

This powerful spiritual tool was developed by Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, Founder and Spiritual Director of Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City, California.

This tool enabled him to clearly see his purpose and to build a trans-denominational movement and community of 9,000 local members and 1,000,000 friends worldwide. It opened the way for him to be one of the featured teachers in the movie, The Secret, to be a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show as well as on Larry King Live on CNN, in addition to a multitude of other public appearances around the world.

The purpose of this spiritual tool is not to expand our ego-based reality, but to connect us to our divine soul-level purpose for this lifetime and to empower us to fulfill it. Dr. Beckwith’s outward success is due to his complete surrender to a higher purpose, his willingness to be the vehicle through which infinite possibility is constantly creating anew through him.

Dr. Beckwith’s true success is not as much about his personal accomplishments, as it is in the number of people he has served as a teacher of universal spiritual principles and how he has contributed to transforming so many lives through his teaching.

Visioning is not a tool for a select few. Visioning is a tool that you and I can also use to fulfill the greater purpose that is part of our contract for this lifetime.

With visioning, we move beyond attempting to make things happen, instead advancing to a place of surrender, where we allow ourselves to be the vehicle through which what is ours to do can be made manifest. We listen within for divine intuition to guide us as to what is ours to do. Rather than moving from our ego-based reality or from a purely material-based sense of what we want to manifest in our lives, we connect to what our soul is calling us to do. This leads to greater fulfillment for ourselves and greater satisfaction for all who are the beneficiaries of the gifts we offer.

Dr. Beckwith developed a clear 7-step process called the Life Visioning Process that allows us to consciously live from the higher vision for our lives by empowering us to see what our inner growth work is, what aligns us in terms of our outward activities, as well as what we need to release and let go of if we are to realize our highest potential.

The seven steps of the Life Visioning Process from Dr. Beckwith are:

  1. Meditation to bring us into a receptive state.
  2. Asking a question of our higher wisdom, such as what is the highest vision for my life?
  3. Asking what are the qualities we need to cultivate to align us with the vision (Or, what must we become?)
  4. Asking what we must release in order to manifest the vision.
  5. Asking what are the qualities we already have that will serve the vision.
  6. Saying “yes” to what is being revealed.
  7. Expressing gratitude for the vision.

This 7-step process is more than just something we take 20-30 minutes to do. It begins to inform every area of our lives and how we show up in the world. It opens the way for us to be in the flow of grace as we surrender and release some of our willfulness.

The invitation this day is to begin to explore visioning more deeply, to see if it might be the very tool that allows us to step into the largeness of the greater vision of our heart’s yearning. How exciting!

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory Toole is offering a free workshop (in person in Denver) and webinar (livestreamed for those outside Denver) on the Life Visioning Process on Saturday September 17, 2016, 9 am Pacific / 10 am Mountain / Noon Eastern. Email him at gregory@gregorytoole.com for details.

Free Webinar This Saturday

I want to personally invite you to my free webinar, Life Visioning: Aligning with Your Higher Purpose, that is taking place this Saturday. Here is the time by timezone:

9 am – 11 am Pacific
10 am – 12 pm Mountain
11 am – 1 pm Central
12 pm – 2 pm Eastern

It will be both informative and experiential. Visioning is a powerful spiritual tool, developed by Dr. Michael Beckwith, that I’ve been using for many years to tap into the natural flow of my life. It has opened the way for my life to unfold with greater ease and grace.

For those who want more beyond the webinar, there will be three more sessions on the following Saturdays at the same time to go more deeply into the practice of Visioning, offered on a donation basis.

I hope you can join us. You can RSVP to me at gregory@gregorytoole.com to get the link to access the webinar. (For those in the Denver area, you can attend in person)

Abundant blessings,
Gregory Toole
Spiritual Director, Somseva

Please Do Talk to Strangers

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In 1989, I moved to San Francisco. For three months I was in bliss – the beautiful bay, progressive and conscious people, great restaurants, and so much more. Then an earthquake, the magnitude of which had not been experienced since 1906, rocked the Bay Area. The first night, driving home from work, the city that normally was all lit up, was nearly completely dark.

The next day, people wandered the streets, most looking somewhat dazed and in shock. There were no strangers that day. Everyone I encountered spoke to one another, sharing news and sharing where they were when the quake hit. People set up random stations where they cooked food for those who were displaced from their homes.

Philosopher Ernest Holmes wrote in his book, Science of Mind, “Think of the whole world as your friend.”

There were no strangers that day. Suddenly, this booming city was transformed into a small, close-knit community.

As I recently walked through Denver, my current city of residence, I noticed how everyone was rushing by one another, seemingly unaware of their interconnectedness with everyone else. Mind you, Denver is in fact one of the friendliest cities in which I’ve lived.

This day, however, I was reminded of the day San Francisco was transformed into the land where there were no strangers. I pondered how it took a natural disaster to awaken us to how important we are to each other.

The invitation this day is to really see your fellow travelers on the planet, to remember our interconnectedness, and perhaps to actually talk to a stranger. As twentieth century Irish poet, W.B. Yeats, said, “There are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet.” Have fun with your new friends!

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory Toole offers spiritual coaching to individuals and groups who want to create and live extraordinary lives. For more information, go to gregorytoole.com.

Service to the World

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In honor of the Centers for Spiritual Living theme for this month, I am writing on service to the world. Rabindranath Tagore wrote, “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

Truly being of service to others is one of the greatest joys. It is why we really enjoy our work when we find we are making a meaningful contribution. Selfless service, known as Seva in the Sanskrit language, is the greatest joy of all. When we’re engaged in service to others purely for the sake of being of help and from our own love and good will, there is something that comes alive in us.

Recently, I took a group from the Somseva spiritual community to a local rescue mission where we spent two and a half hours preparing and then serving over 500 meals to the homeless. Our group consisted of adults and teens and it was evident that we were all uplifted by the experience.

We all took to our service very conscientiously, more so than I see most people in their paid work. Somehow being in selfless service, helping others, ignited in us the sense that our actions can make a difference. It was evident that those whom we served were in clear need of our love and support, and most were deeply grateful for our service. It seemed that they too sensed the sacredness of our love offering.

On my previous trip to serve food to the homeless, the mission was short on volunteers and I ended up serving the bulk of the 500 meals nearly singlehandedly in the span of not much more than an hour. I remember how the somewhat overwhelming task seemed almost routine and not a big deal as I felt the significance of what it meant to those who were receiving possibly one of their only two meals that day.

The Christian scripture in Luke 12:48 says that to whom much is given, much is required. I don’t personally think this phrase is referring as much to an obligation as it is to our potential to give so much more, and to the truth that our own fulfillment won’t be complete without giving back from the gifts we’ve received.

It is where the name of the organization I founded a year ago, Somseva, derives. The “Som” is an acronym for the Science of Mind philosophy, and “seva,” as mentioned previously, is the Sanskrit word for selfless service. Somseva’s mission is to provide spiritual tools for personal and global transformation. The first part of its name, Science of Mind, is for personal transformation, and the second part, seva, is for global transformation. The Science of Mind provides powerful wisdom and tools to transform ourselves, and with our own transformation we have expanded capacity to help others and to bring more compassion to the world.

The invitation this day is to appreciate the ways in which you are able to serve our world and, where there is an opportunity to serve in a greater way, to seize upon it. You make a difference!

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory Toole offers spiritual coaching to individuals and groups who want to create and live extraordinary lives. For more information, go to gregorytoole.com.

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