“The missing element in many spiritual quests is the spiritual guide. … When a person finds out that all his efforts at self-improvement are movements around a circle, that the ego does not really intend to give itself up in surrender to the Spirit and therefore only pretends to do so, he realizes that left to himself he cannot succeed in really changing his inner center of gravity. Help is needed from some outside source if he is to free himself from such a hopeless position.”
― Paul Brunton
I’ve written about this before, but I want to address it again: Where does the role of “spiritual teacher” fit in Christian circles today? …
One of the key tensions in the lives of people of faith has to do with how they make decisions. To what extent do we look to God for guidance in the decisions we are making? To what extent do we simply rely on our own knowledge and understanding? To what degree do we expect guidance from God, and how does this guidance come?
The archetypal image of divine guidance comes from the story of the Babylonian king Belshazzar, recorded in Daniel 5. One day at a party in his palace, a large human hand appeared, and wrote a message on the wall. …
“In order to learn anything, we need time. And to make time we must use information filters allowing us to ignore most of the information aimed at us. We must ignore much to learn a little.” — Mario Bunge
“We are over hyping the benefits of social media and way underplaying the negatives and the costs.” — Cal Newport
The problem of feeling overwhelmed by too much information is not new. Philosophers, thinkers, and intellectuals have written about information overwhelm at various points in history, going back to ancient times.
The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible said “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” …
I recently performed the wedding ceremony for my son Alexander and his fiance Julia Kennedy-Budge. I did some heart-searching and reflecting about what I’ve seen with successful and unsuccessful marriages over the years, and tried to share that in the following message.
Research shows that the relationship with your spouse has a huge effect on the quality of your life … and as parents, one of the hopes we have for our kids is that they would have a good marriage.
Of course we hope to see marriages that last … but that’s a pretty low bar. The “success” we desire for our kids is not simply that they’d have marriages that endure, but marriages that thrive. …
We are much more influenced by environmental factors around us than we realize. If we want lasting life change, it will not work to simply set goals, make plans, establish accountability, and try to stay motivated. That’s how most people try to do it. They are successful for a while, but eventually they “fall off the wagon” and drift back to their old ways.
The only way to make change last is to make significant shifts in our personal environment:
In 2007, I developed a program to help people who were dealing with sexual struggles in their lives. Some felt comfortable calling these struggles an addiction, while others weren’t so sure about that label. It started out as followup, or “aftercare,” program for people who attended workshops I helped facilitate with Dr. Mark Laaser.
I think this program could help you, if you are wanting to start something — a group or ministry — to help others, or get more support for your own recovery.
When I created the Recovery Journey, I wanted to offer something different: I wanted to offer something that would work with — and help supplement — work people might already be doing with a therapist, or involvement with a 12-Step recovery group. I didn’t want to create something to compete against the many good programs already out there, or compete with therapists who do face-to-face work. …
If everybody wants to leave their mark,
If everybody wants to make the world a better place,
If everybody wants their lives to count …
Why aren’t more of us doing it?
Turns out it’s not so easy. Many influences in our lives, both within and without, keep us stuck in passivity. In fact, there are so many roadblocks and distractions, it’s a wonder people do as much as they do! Here’s a partial list of the things that get in the way:
We’re afraid of all kinds of things, and that fear keeps us stuck.
People today have profoundly mixed — and dysfunctional — views about leaders. Especially spiritual leaders. On the one hand, we idealize them. We project onto them qualities of wisdom, spiritual zeal, and impeccable morality. We really want them be close to God, to exemplify the virtues that we struggle to live out. We want them to be uber competent in their role, but we also want them to exemplify all the virtues and character qualities that we deem to be important. We want them to be larger than life! …
The two-headed monster that stalks people in our society is depression and anxiety. They frequently overlap. In fact, according to Psychology Today, “These disorders are two sides of the same coin. Over the last few years, clinicians and researchers alike have been moving toward a new conclusion: Depression and anxiety are not two disorders that coexist. They are two faces of one disorder.” Both continue to grow worse in our society.
Here are some facts:
We need more solitude in our lives — not just for our own well-being, but for others. Talking about this is tricky today, because many people struggle with loneliness and isolation, and the pursuit of solitude could make things worse for them.
Our lives revolve around two poles: community and solitude. A healthy life includes both. Let’s be clear about that as we begin. Rabbi Eliezer Shore describes this balance:
“Most true spiritual seekers, at some time in their journey, must struggle with the dilemma posed by these two opposites [community and solitude]. While personalities differ, tending some towards solitude, others to community, most of us waver uneasily between the two, constantly searching for the proper balance in which we might best serve God. … An emphasis on community in no way denies the validity of solitude, rather it seeks to engage the contemplative in an even higher purpose, namely, that of bringing the entire community into an enlightened relationship with God.” …