Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ask and You Shall Receive

Original photograph by Sandy Chase

I am sitting here, goose bumps covering my skin and tears welling up in my eyes. Each hair on my body is alive as if each is reaching for the sky while my body seems to be melting into the space beneath it.  My breath is still slow, my heart content to beat in time with the rhythm that has pulsed through it.  I am alone but not lonely.  I am still but far from doing nothing.  I am alive and I am aware even as the universe fades from view in eyes wide open.

Thus ends my midday meditation.  It’s not the first time that I have been graced with such an explosion of emotion.  Once, when I was about 14, I had such a tremendous experience while meditating that I stopped practicing until I could better understand the experience.  In that moment I cried like a baby as a sense of love came cascading down from points all around me.  I felt the room fade away as all that remained was the sense of love that filled the areas where intense pain once dwelled.  Light filled darkness, and the unusual experience of joy filled my heart.  Needless to say, I was not prepared to handle it.

I was not alone but I was lonely in my youth.  I was a tortured soul if ever there was one, with parents who instilled such agreements in me as “I am not worthy” or “I am nothing”.  They also created agreements for me that caused me to fear love, to fear commitment, to fear giving myself freely and to fear trusting in anything with a heartbeat.  Yes, they drew up the contracts but it was me who readily agreed to sign them.  I did not understand the latter part of that equation until after my children were born and love began to invade places I kept locked deep within me.  Today, those places are becoming "public parks" where anyone can visit without a moment's hesitation on my part.

It was not until recently that I decided those contracts must become null and void.  Now, you just don’t cancel a contract with fear or anger.  It just doesn’t work that way.  Rather, you must replace those contracts with agreements that make them null and void.  You don’t “ask” for release, you release yourself (action, by the way, is the purest form of asking).  I’ll say that again, this time without the parentheses. Action is the purest form of asking. Perhaps, for those of you who don’t know me, this requires a bit of explanation using my patented analogies.

Say I want to have a successful business in landscaping and I am a very creative landscaper with many talents for the task.  I sit in silent prayer asking the Universe (or God) to make my business successful.  I do this for countless hours a day, several days a week for several weeks in a row.  At the end of the practice, I look at my sales figures in total disbelief.  “Zero sales!?,” I shout.  “The universe must hate me.  That law of attraction stuff is nothing but nonsense!!”

I suggest that is simply not so.  What you have truly done is ask the universe to make you successful at sitting still and praying, to which it replied “YES!”  I have found in my experience that action is the only question the Universe actually understands.  If I sit in a church somewhere and pray for world peace, and then leave the building and attack a person walking down the street, which request am I actually asking the Universe to meet?  That answer seems relatively simple, and to me is one reason gurus like Gandhi said, “BE the change you wish to see in the world” and not “pray that the world changes”.  Make sense?  I can’t find anything else that is clearer spiritually.
Source: Photobucket (username:eyeness)

Having this experience within me, I discovered that I cannot simply ask that an agreement with fear be nullified.  I cannot ask for an end to loneliness while remaining in an empty room attached to a need for companionship.  I cannot ask to be loved while continually spreading fear to those around me.  I cannot ask to “see the light” while sitting on the basket that covers it.  No, I must make other agreements and, in turn, ask the question correctly.  I must walk out of my empty room toward a room filled with others (or lose my attachment to companionship) if I no longer want to be lonely.  I must spread love if I want to see love in return.  I must lift the cover if I wish to see the light under it.  Action, therefore, is the question the Universe understands.

Now, back to the analogy.  I ask the Universe to have a successful landscaping business not by praying for it, but rather by going out and doing a good job at a good value.  I relish in my passion for it and it, in return, provides me with success.  I have made an agreement with success by not only identifying my passion and talent but by putting that passion and talent in ACTION.  To this, the Universe always says “YES!”

Once I discovered this truth a new reality was born for me.  I have replaced the agreements I had with fear with new agreements with Love.  I have replaced the agreements I had with anger with new agreements with joy.  I have replaced the agreements I had with judgment with agreements with peace.  Mostly, I have replaced agreements I had with death with new agreements I have with life.  Amazing, huh?  I have begun asking the questions correctly.  I used to pray that I could become a writer.  Now, I write.  A prayer never once put a moment of inspiration through my fingers onto paper, actually typing them did.    An agreement I had with a dream has been replaced with a new agreement I have with action.  I have replaced asking with action and expecting with doing and have found a great new world in front of me.

What agreements does the Universe have with you?
Source: NASA
Now, the goose bumps have subsided, and I can return to the rest of my passion-filled day.  See, prayer may not get inspiration from fingers to paper, but it does get inspiration from Source to fingers.  Prayer in itself is a question.  Meditation is, after all, an action.  The Universe always says “YES” to both, and anytime we believe it has failed what really has failed is our perception of what we have asked or what we have done.  The Universe never fails, ever.

Be well, and prosper my dear friends.  It’s all up to YOU.

Peace.   ©2011 Thomas P. Grasso All Rights Reserved ☮ ℓﻉﻻ٥ ツ

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Broken - A Conversation Between the Saint and the Sinner

The mind does not perceive what it does not know.  What it does not know appears "broken" to it, it disagrees with the notion that others can experience things differently, see things differently or know things differently.  The challenge is to be open to the experience, and accept it for what it is but never lose sight of the importance of Love in the process.  Reactions are human and the physical manifestations of emotion.  We are the sole (or soul) facilitator of how we choose to perceive others in their humanness.

“You are broken” 
“I am.”
“You haven’t changed a bit.”
“So I have always been broken?”
“You have.”
“So, how do I fix myself?”
“You do as I say, act as I act, do as I do. That’s how.”
“And then I am no longer broken?”
“Right, you are then fixed.”
“So, you are not broken?”
“No, I am not. I am normal, I am right.”
“Make sure you tell your shrink that is how I see you. You are far from fixed.”
“Ok, will you accept me and love me more when I am fixed?”
“I am not sure. I will still think you are broken until you proven to me you aren’t.”
“Um, OK. Will you tell me when you see me differently?”
“Maybe, but I don’t see it has ever happening. Others see you differently. You are happy when you are with them, you are miserable when you are with me.”
“Really? I don’t feel different when I am with you. Sure, I am with you longer, and live my life around you, but I don’t feel differently in my view of things when I am with you.”
“Well, that’s because you are broken.  You smile when you are with them, you are mean when you are with me.”
“Am I mean all of the time, or just when I feel stressed, or aggravation, or overwhelmed, or upset?”
“No, it is all of the time. “
“Every single minute of every single day we are together I am miserable?”
“Wow, I don’t feel miserable every single minute of every single day.  Are you sure you are right?”
“Yes.  I am normal.  I am right.   You are broken, and need to be fixed.  Someday you will see that I am right, and you will see that you are the same broken boy you have always been.”
“But I feel peaceful and love when I am with you, even in those moments when I feel stressed and aggravated.  Should I not express my emotions to you?  Will that prove that I am fixed.”
“No, you simply should not have those emotions.  Hiding them doesn’t help.”
“So, you never feel overwhelmed and stressed?”
“Sure I do.  But that is different.  Remember, I am normal, you are broken.  Had you not been broken you would see the difference.”
“Oh, ok, I got it.  I need to get normal.”
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” — Rumi

Peace.   ©2011 Thomas P. Grasso All Rights Reserved ☮ ℓﻉﻻ٥ ツ

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Father's Father's Day Message

My dear Children,

I stand here as just your father.  A man whom you may see much differently than I see myself in a way only a perfect child can.  A man who would pay a great price to be able to see the world through your eyes, to see me as you see me, to find joy in most things, and love in all things.  Today is a day set apart for you to honor me, and I stand here, just a man who would be so much less if not for you, to tell you the truth as I see it.

On this day you honor me my truth is that I honor you.  You have taken a boy and made him a man.  You have shown light into the darkness, heaped joy upon sorrow, and gave way to a bright new view of the world through eyes not yet jaded by life's insanity.  See, the day you were born I was but a boy myself wandering alone in the fields of self pity and self indulgence.  You taught me joy beyond words and a smile in sacrifice while giving me the sense of direction no compass could provide.  Those things you honor in me on this day are the very things you have given me.  The strength you see has come from a place but empty before you filled it.  The light of love you see in me has come from a place very dark until you enlightened it.  The teacher you see in me has come from the student you have allowed me to be.  I am because you are, and in that no greater gift could you give me on this day.

My dear Children, you were perfect the day you were born.  You lived without a sense of time, causing me to question its very existence.  You moved without a sense of urgency, causing me to wonder why I need rush at all.  When you laughed you brought a smile where none existed, and yes even created a laugh where none would have been otherwise.  When you took your first steps you taught me patience.  When you learned to run you taught me even more patience.  When you learned to talk, well you challenged those lessons of patience you had taught me.  Through it all you knew that I could never stay mad at you, and you forgave me for even trying.  Yes, it was you who held my hand and caused me to stand straighter, it was you who taught me that love wasn't just something you said without thought, and it was you who gave my life tremendous meaning in the simple word which still sends a jolt through my soul:


Yes dear Children, your Daddy loves you.  I love you when I am trying to teach you something and you look at me like I am crazy.  I love you when you decide to do your own thing regardless of how much I kick and scream.  I love you when you save a worm from the sidewalk after a rain.  I love you when you pick your Mom dandelions from the yard "just because".  I love you when you don't call, when you don't go to bed on time, when you question the very existence of everything I may hold dear.  I love you when you win, I love you when you don't, and I love you when you could care less as long as you had a good time trying.  I love you when you sing, I love you when you pout, I love you when you root for the Giants or the Yankees just because I am rooting for my team.  I love you when you are who you are regardless of who I think you should be.  I love your hugs, I love that you know your Mommy is the greatest and I love you when you tell me my favorite song is "old".  I love you because you are, and because you are you have allowed me to be.

So I go about this day taking in the "Happy Father's Days" and the cards and the gifts.  I take them in so that I can let the love they show return.  They are tokens my dear Children.  Tokens of a day when the Universe bestowed upon this lowly man the greatest gift it has to offer.  We call this gift your birthday, and in each of those days we find an example of the power that love itself provides.  A single and childless friend one asked me "wouldn't you like to go back to the days when you could just leave when you wanted and could do what you wished?"  I simply closed my eyes and saw your faces and replied, "not in a million trillion bazillion years pal."  See, I know when you tell me that you love me "to the moon and back" that you are talking about some moon science hasn't even discovered yet.  I know that because you won't stop asking me how to get there...

Anyway, thank you for letting your Daddy tell you how he feels and thank you for always telling me how you feel in those many different ways you do.  I used to think, when changing your diapers, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".  Why?  Well you'll get it someday, maybe, and when you do we'll both laugh at the irony of it all.  At least I hope so.

Peace.   ©2011 Thomas P. Grasso All Rights Reserved ☮ ℓﻉﻻ٥ ツ

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Where's the Sunshine (or, Beyond the layers)

"Where's the sun?"  I repeat the question to the Universe that was suggested by a friend who seemed to be suffering at the loss of sunshine.  After all, cloudy days seem to bring out the “blahs” in most of us, and today seemed like no exception.

"It's there, you simply choose to focus on the clouds," came the reply.  The answer makes me wonder why we choose to see the Universe as this complicated realm of physics when it seems like nothing more than a simple expression of what is.  Yes, I chuckle even as I type those words.  Usually, the Universe answers me in the most simplistic fashion which suggests to me that I am the one over-complicating things.

The answer I got is certainly indisputable.  I've been on enough airplanes to know that a clear view of the daytime sun is only a few thousand feet from me.  So the question must be rhetorical because, after all, we all know where the sun is.  It's there, it's shining, and it is allowing us the ability to see the clouds we have chosen to focus on.  It is us that create the clouds into a source of suffering, and it is our choice to focus on that source rather than to peel away the layers to the Light that allows us to see them.

Love is like the sun.  When we become somber or angry, those emotions serve as the clouds that hide the sunshine.  We could make a choice to focus on the clouds or the light beneath them.  After all, it is that light that allows us to see the clouds, right?  Just like the sun, Love itself is not extinguished because of a few clouds nor does it vanish in the presence of fear even if we can’t see it shining high within us.  It's always there, always shining, regardless of where we choose to place our focus.  If only we would look beyond the layers, beyond the clouds, and place our focus on the sunshine we could allow the clouds to be without distracting us from our focus.

I wasn't done with this, so I had to "ask" what seemed like the most logical of questions.  "What happens if we redirect our attention from the clouds and focus solely on the sunshine?"


The Universe rarely speaks to us in words, and this answer really didn't come in the form of a word.  I use "transformation" to describe the explanation I received.  See, I didn't ask the question with words either.  Rather, I asked it by simply redirecting my focus from the clouds to the sunshine.  A smile crept upon my lips, and I actually laughed out loud.  That is "transformation" folks.  I asked properly and received a proper answer.  I could have asked the question verbally while still only focusing on the clouds and my answer would have been much different because the Universe answers true questions (actions) with true answers (actions, or what we call "REactions, see Newton's Third Law).  Words are meaningless outside of our own minds and rarely have an effect unless used in an intense moment of stillness.

The blame we give to the Universe for not answering our questions is equally meaningless.  We simply are asking them wrong, and not seeing the true answer to the true question.  Ask (correctly) and you shall receive.  It's a matter of action, of focus, not of words.  If you ask your neighbor for an egg while throwing them at his house which question will get the answer?  Right, the one you ask through action.

I have come to know myself quite well in recent years through tears, trial, tribulation, suffering, and the LOVE that allowed me to see them all.  I know that my mind reacts to certain stimuli based on the 40 some-odd years of conditioning that I have allowed.  I can be a cold bastard, a big bear, a manipulative asshole, a caring man all depending on how I let my focus be directed.  I am in control for sure and sometimes I choose to allow my conditioning to cloud the sunshine.  I love everyone, but get someone to cut me off in traffic and the clouds set in.  I am being less focused on the sunshine and more distracted by the clouds.  This discovery is the key to "transformation".  Once I understand that I alone changed my focus, I then understand that I alone can change it back.  This seems to be true for each and every aspect of our human existence where we ourselves are the "Creator".

In this understanding I also know that I can't "beat myself up" for my distractions.  After all, we learn to appreciate the sunny days because of cloudy ones like this.  I desire to focus on the sunshine and allow those moments of lost focus to remind me of how much I love the Light.  Blindfolds always make the light that much brighter once removed.  Prayer, or meditation, should be the practice of removing the blindfold and of changing the focus point of our moments.  It isn't that the blindfold is bad, it is simply that I wish to focus on the brightness the Light affords.  Each is perfect in its own way, and fulfilling its purpose regardless of what I create it to be.

Remember, in this perspective yoga is the question.  Meditation is the question.  Compassion is the question.  Charity is the question.  Exercise is the question.  Healthy eating is the question.  These are not answers to anything; they are merely the questions we ask the Universe to which it, of course, will answer.  In truth, no words are ever necessary in this dynamic and never-ending dialog between Love and the Lover.

Anyway, there I go over-complicating things again.  Sometimes I wish I could just point at the silver lining I see and have that be enough.  After all, isn't that how the Universe says it all?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Morning Revelation: How to Ask the Universe

The way to ask the universe is often not best done with words.  Words seem too open to interpretation to me, too dependent on the perspective of both the listener and the speaker.  Most of the time we aren't even sure if we are saying what we mean let alone if what we are hearing is what is meant by the speaker.  Words seem to fall short most of the time, either in describing what we mean or how we feel.  Truly, how can one really describe the way they feel at the first sight of their newborn baby, or describe the moments of inspiration seen at the first glimpse of a sunrise? Sometimes it just seems better to speak in silence which may, of course, be the meaning of the old axiom "he who knows does not speak, he who speaks does not know".

Now, we can speak a shared experience without words.  When we watch the sun rise together we can speak "wow" without ever saying a word.  Experience, it would seem, is a much better describer of things than our mouths or pens could ever hope to be.  Why, then, do we ask the Universe for stuff with words?

It came to me while walking in mediation this morning when I was "asking" the universe for answers.  I was reciting a prayer I read in Marianne Williamson's "A Course in Weight Loss" when the answer was given to me.  The prayer goes like this:

Dear God,Please remove the wall that I have built around me.I have built it so strong,dear God,that I cannot tear it down.I surrender to You every thought of separation,every feeling of fear,every unforgiving thought.  Please, dear God,take this burden from me forever.Amen
It's a great prayer, used to end the grip that fear has on me in its various forms (anger, jealousy, impulsive behavior) and it works for me.  It dawned on me this time, however, that I was asking the wrong way.  I was speaking the words.  Whether from my lips or in my head, I was forming words to ask for something that no words could truly describe.  I wanted freedom, and assistance, and health, and abundance but it seemed so shallow to simply "ask" for it in the manner I have been asking for over 4 decades now.  So, how do you ask for something without using the words?

Well, in that miraculous moment, I understood that my methodology for asking had to be something much deeper.  Rather than ask like this, "Dear God, please remove the wall that I have built around me" I begin hammering at the wall realizing completely that I am not doing it alone.  Rather than ask like this, "please bring me abundance" I simply do what I enjoy.  See, the Universe (or God) does not ever let you do what you can't do alone, its mechanism is to always jump in to help whenever asked (and it knows when it is being asked).  When you forgive others their trespasses, YOU are forgiven your own.  You need not ask "God, forgive me my trespasses", you simply need forgive others.

So today I asked the Universe for fitness.  I did not open my mouth, I just walked.  I asked the Universe for health, and I did not speak.  I ate an apple.  I asked the Universe for peace, and yet did not utter a prayer.  I became peaceful and guess what?  The Universe answered, not in words, but in every other way imaginable.

I guess that when we believe that God never talks to us, it is because we are waiting for words to come at us like orders from a drill instructor or for them to appear in the clouds as if written by a sky-writer.  Yet, it would seem that in most cases we get what we ask for.  A steady diet of McDonald's will get us sick.  A high intake of salt gives us high blood pressure.  Overeating makes us fat.  Anger makes us mad.  We ask for everything we are given for the most part, with few exceptions.  Yet, when we get what we ask for but don't like the results we blame God.  God listens to each and every one of our prayers, but it seems that God listens to the ones without words first.  So, perhaps it is time to know rather than speak?


  ©2011 Thomas P. Grasso All Rights Reserved ☮ ℓﻉﻻ٥ ツ