Stopped

I stopped, turned around, and faced the man who had called out to me. The dusk sky darkened.  My lungs deflated in a slow, silent exhale. The little bird captured in the upper left center of my rib cage fluttered nervously. I didn’t know the man by face, but he had medium brown skin, long, black hair captured in a braid, and a full body. He looked like a lot of the men in my husband’s extended family and tribe. I tried to carefully, silently, sneak another breath. Was this, too, forbidden?

Maybe I didn’t give him my full attention, but I should have. I wanted guidance. My mind was chattering, making excuses. How much I have whined about this moment, since it happened, a year ago. I didn’t know how to submit to another human being and still submit to God. Haven’t I learned this by now?

Submission is waiting, waiting to hear someone out completely. And then, once you have done that, make a judgement. Why are you here? Why are you hearing this? 

Sometimes it is the rantings of a lunatic, a person too full of himself. Other times it a signpost in the desert, without which you would lose your way.

BUYER BEWARE!

When I looked up the balance of my eBay credit card, in order to make the payment, in early February of this year, I was surprised by how much debt I had accrued. I recognized everything on the statement, except a $102.15 payment to OCEANMISTSHOP. I called the number on the statement and spoke to a female representative at Ocean Mist, who gloated sarcastically at the trap I had fallen into. “Did you read all the fine print in the documentation?” she sneered, triumphantly announcing, “You agreed to a subscription of a bottle of CBD oil every month!”

“That’s not true,” I countered, now remembering  a CBD purchase. “I only agreed to receive one bottle, and I only agreed to pay the shipping charges!”

I had responded to a pop-up ad on Facebook. It had a picture of Bill Maher. The ad stated that the pharmaceutical companies were suing Bill Maher because he was undercutting them with his inexpensive CBD oil, which was supposedly better than prescription drugs for just about everything. “CLICK HERE for 1 oz of high quality  CBD oil for the cost of shipping alone!”

The representative at Synchrony Bank, whom I spoke with after completing the call to Ocean Mist, wanted to know what proof I had to back my assertion that I had been quoted one price for a product, and billed another. Unfortunately, I have none. The whole page had disappeared once I put in my credit card numbers. I  received no email confirmation, or even a prompt from the webpage that the transaction had gone through. I wrongly assumed that the whole thing had fallen out, until about a week later, I received one ounce of caprylic acid that contained a small amount of CBD, in the mail. Still not wise to the game, I wrongly assumed that I was being billed around $7 for shipping.

Unfortunately, I threw out the shipping box, but still have the bottle. It says, “Ceremony CBD Oil, broad spectrum hemp extract, 1 Fl Oz (30 ml), 300 mg cannabidiol, THC free, other ingredient: caprylic triglycerides from coconut.” The Phoenix address of Ceremony CBD is on the bottle, and their phone number (which is different from the Maryland number I called to reach the Ocean Mist representative). 

The next time I put a credit card number into a web form, I took pictures of every page of the transaction. A day or two later, I verified that the billed amount matched the amount I had agreed to pay.

I can’t use this CBD oil, or any coconut products, anymore because my triglycerides were high in a lab test (even though I’m a vegan). Fortunately, the “subscription” was stopped after the first shipment, and, to prevent any more charges from Ocean Mist, Synchrony Bank issued me a new credit card.

300 mg CBD is 0.01058219 oz, which means the 1 oz bottle is 99% refined coconut oil, very expensive, and for me, internet shopping course tuition!

I now understand that beloved comedian, Bill Maher’s name was used on this product without his permission.

Antidote for Shame

Woke up suffering with guilt and shame. I was chaffing about little errors I had made—things I had already repented of. I understood that wallowing in negative emotions is harmful. I must find a way to get rid of this shame. 

I remembered the book I had written, Love and the Human Spirit, the novel. I’m going to launch it and promote it, along with my other books, after I finish the beginning guitar book I am currently working on, Scales and Chords: Guitar Basics. A character in the novel had advised the protagonist on the chakras. The 2nd chakra is where guilt and shame hits, he said. At the second chakra, you need a relationship with one of the manifestations of God, take Krishna for instance. I couldn’t find Krishna. I couldn’t find Jesus either. Then I remembered, later on in the novel, another character had shared about Baha’u’llah. I had read Baha’u’llah’s words about trustworthiness last night. There was trustworthiness, forbearance, truthfulness, still no relief from the shame. The character had shared something that I felt was embarrassing. Baha’u’llah had been held in a Tehran dungeon for 4 months in 1852. During that time he had been collared with a 100 pound chain, and seated on a bench with no way to lie down. Upon release, he was exiled to Baghdad. The scarring around his neck from the chain persisted. I put my tongue in the scar, like she had shared. How did I do that? Imagination. There is a principle that imagination is spiritual reality. Another thing is, imagination goes on all the time anyway, whether active or passive. It had been my passive imagination that had been producing the shame. Now, embracing Baha’u’llah, I fell asleep in perfect peace.

A Spiritual Experience

The night before last I opened my Baha’i app to something in Epistle to the Son of Wolf. The passage said something to the effect of, “Be the best you can be to further the cause of elevating the spiritual consciousness of mankind in my name (Baha’u’llah).” Last night I searched for the passage again and couldn’t find it. 

The night before last I had a lucid dream and a mystical experience. In the dream I felt a man’s soft genitals land gently on the top of my head. It was very sweet. I started to think I must be dreaming about my husband. Then I realized this could be the Lord of the age. Am I allowed to experience him like this?

Then I was caught up in a violent whirlwind. I felt fear, then calmed myself thinking, ‘I am with my Lord.’ The experience is difficult to describe, or even remember, but I know it involved spiritual intimacy with the Lord, Baha’u’llah. He is so close to me now, he is intimately in my thoughts. The ride in the whirlwind was a thrill that I am eager to have again!

This may have been the passage that I read the other night, although I didn’t recognize it when I read it last night: “O peoples of the earth! Haste ye to do the pleasure of God, and war ye valiantly, as it behooveth you to war, for the sake of proclaiming His resistless and immovable Cause. We have decreed that war shall be waged in the path of God with the armies of wisdom and utterance, and of a goodly character and praiseworthy deeds. Thus hath it been decided by Him Who is the All-Powerful, the Almighty.” From Epistle to the Son of Wolf by Baha’u’llah.

This likely was the passage I read the other night, prior to the whirlwind experience, also from Epistle to the Son of Wolf, by Baha’u’llah: “Every cause needeth a helper. In this Revelation the hosts which can render it victorious are the hosts of praiseworthy deeds and upright character. The leader and commander of these hosts hath ever been the fear of God, a fear that encompasseth all things, and reigneth over all things.”

Food Adventure

A little math

I wanted to figure out how to dilute 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide to about 12-14%, for a surface disinfectant with low toxicity. I drew some pictures of pies to figure it out: 6-7 droppers of water, and 4 droppers of the 35% solution.

I had spent the previous evening going over the CDC mortality data for California for the past 12 months. I didn’t see too large of a spike, but it was a bit unsettling the way the numbers kept creeping up as time went on. Then I understood something. California has been steadily increasing in population for as long as I’ve been here. More people would mean more deaths. I added some population data to the spreadsheet, I had built from the CDC death data, and found that, if my data and calculations are correct, for the past 12 months, 13 to 16 people, per group of 100,000 Californians, has died every week during the past year. 

That  seems normal. After all this is Earth, not Heaven. People do die here. Death happens. This is a mortal realm. We know we are not going to be here forever. News people may wax dramatic and emotional about deaths, like they are trying to move us to tears, or trying to scare us, but death is nothing new, although it is tragic when it touches you personally. 

Contagion awareness

It is good that awareness of the spread of contagious disease is developing, along with ways to limit it. I was raised in a health conscious family. When we were sick, we were isolated. We were taught to wash our hands, and not pick our noses in public. The one of us, that had gone the longest without catching a cold, was rewarded by having first pick of the little goat steaks that were broiled for dinner. I was raised with an awareness of the spread of contagious disease. I learned ways to avoid picking up a bug, and ways to avoid spreading it if I did get one. 

You might say I was well indoctrinated with the germ theory. I had the opportunity to grow beyond the limits of that theory, when I was grown. Contagion is only one of the things that predispose a person to becoming ill. Lifestyle choices also play a role. 

The last time I got sick was February 2020. I had been using a protein preparation, externally, to try to heal lesions in my skin. It didn’t work. After I caught a cold, I realized that I had been using a slaughterhouse product. So, after a few days of sniffles, I threw out the keratin salve, and have been healthy since.

Toxin awareness

My immune system functions to keep me healthy, if I avoid certain toxic substances. Different toxins seem to predispose me to different health issues, some considered communicable, and some not. For me, I find that dietary toxins are more likely to cause an infection than mere exposure to a virus. I have been noting the cause and effect relationship between sugar and sickness for a long time. Sugar, that has been refined, seems to lower immunity. I noticed that association when my children were small. They rarely got refined sweets, so it was observable that when they did, they would get sick afterwards.

Wheat products cause constipation in me, which causes other problems if left to fester. I can tolerate wheat if it is whole grain, but not every day. However, even a little refined wheat will cause me such problems that now, anything that might contain wheat does not even look like food to me. It’s not willpower when I decline main dishes, breads and desserts, it’s just that I know what will happen to me if I eat it. Abdominal pain? Constipation? Hemorrhoids? No thank you!

Anything from an animal will bring on a cold or a flu for me. I have noticed this enough times, now, that anything, with meat, cheese, eggs or dairy in it, does not even look like food. It was tricky when I first started to figure this out, because sometimes, I would not get sick right away. I seemed to be getting away with eating meat and cheese for a while. I could eat it for a while and still feel healthy, as long as I avoided wheat and sugar. But then, suddenly I would get sick and pass a lot of snot. The amount of snot, I blew out or coughed up, would be comparable to the amount of meat, cheese and eggs I had eaten since the last time I had gotten sick. So without the virus, that eventually came along, I seemed to be getting away with dining on animals and their products. But eventually it caught up with me. 

Food adventure

The other night my husband and I were in town. He wanted a food adventure. I acquiesced. We entered a little Mexican bakery and restaurant that neither one of us had been to previously. He ordered in Spanish. The couple, that ran the little diner, may have had some working English, but he likes to use his Spanish every chance he gets. The tables were not to be used because of the, now eight months of, quarantine. I held the bag of hot food in my hands, savoring the aroma, while he drove home. He had purchased 3 tacos with hand-made corn tortillas and cactus. They were delicious! Fortunately my husband has the same avoid list that I do. Also, his Spanish comes in handy when he needs to explain what he wants and does not want in a taco.

Food Adventure

A little math
I wanted to figure out how to dilute 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide to about 12-14%, for a surface disinfectant with low toxicity. I drew some pictures of pies to figure it out: 6-7 droppers of water, and 4 droppers of the 35% solution.

I had spent the previous evening going over the CDC mortality data for California for the past 12 months. I didn’t see too large of a spike, but it was a bit unsettling the way the numbers kept creeping up as time went on. Then I understood something. California has been steadily increasing in population for as long as I’ve been here. More people would mean more deaths. I added some population data to the spreadsheet, I had built from the CDC death data, and found that, if my data and calculations are correct, for the past 12 months, 13 to 16 people, per group of 100,000 Californians, has died every week during the past year.

That seems normal. After all this is Earth, not Heaven. People do die here. Death happens. This is a mortal realm. We know we are not going to be here forever. News people may wax dramatic and emotional about deaths, like they are trying to move us to tears, or trying to scare us, but death is nothing new, although it is tragic when it touches you personally.

Contagious disease

It is good that awareness of the spread of contagious disease is developing, along with ways to limit that. I was raised in a health conscious family. When we were sick, we were isolated. We were taught to wash our hands, and not to pick our noses in public. The one of us that had gone the longest without catching a cold, was rewarded by having first pick of the little goat steaks that were broiled for dinner. I was raised with an awareness of the spread of contagious disease. I learned ways to avoid picking up a bug, and ways to avoid spreading it if I did get one.

You might say I was well indoctrinated with the germ theory. I had the opportunity to grow beyond the limits of that theory, when I was grown. Contagion is only one of the things that predispose a person to becoming ill. Lifestyle choices also play a role.

The last time I got sick was February 2020. I had been using a protein preparation, externally, to try to heal lesions in my skin. It didn’t work. After I caught a cold, I realized that I had been using a slaughterhouse product. So, after a few days of sniffles, I threw out the keratin salve, and have been healthy since.

Dietary toxins

My immune system functions to keep me healthy, if I avoid certain toxic substances. Different toxins seem to predispose me to different health issues, some considered communicable, and some not. For me, I find that dietary toxins are more likely to cause an infection than mere exposure to a virus. I have been noting the cause and effect relationship between sugar and sickness for a long time. Sugar, that has been refined, seems to lower immunity. I noticed that association when my children were small. They rarely got refined sweets, so it was observable that when they did, they would get sick afterwards.

Wheat products cause constipation in me, which causes other problems if left to fester. I can tolerate wheat if it is whole grain, but not every day. However, even a little refined wheat will cause me such problems that now, anything that might contain wheat does not even look like food to me. It’s not willpower when I decline main dishes, breads and desserts, it’s just that I know what will happen to me if I eat it. Abdominal pain? Constipation? Hemorrhoids? No thank you!

Anything from an animal will bring on a cold or a flu for me. I have noticed this enough times, now, that anything, with meat, cheese, eggs or dairy in it, does not even look like food. It was tricky when I first started to figure this out, because sometimes, I would not get sick right away. I seemed to be getting away with eating meat and cheese for a while. I could eat it for a while and still feel healthy, as long as I avoided wheat and sugar. But then, suddenly I would get sick and pass a lot of snot. The amount of snot, I blew out or coughed up, would be comparable to the amount of meat, cheese and eggs I had eaten since the last time I had gotten sick. So without the virus, that eventually came along, I seemed to be getting away with dining on animals and their products. But eventually it caught up with me.

Food adventure

The other night my husband and I were in town. He wanted a food adventure. I acquiesced. We entered a little Mexican bakery and restaurant that neither one of us had been to previously. He ordered in Spanish. The couple, that ran the little diner, may have had some working English, but he likes to use his Spanish every chance he gets. The tables were not to be used because of the, now eight months of, quarantine. I held the bag of hot food in my hands, savoring the aroma, while he drove home. He had purchased 3 tacos with hand-made corn tortillas and cactus. They were delicious! Fortunately my husband has the same avoid list that I do. Also, his Spanish comes in handy when he needs to explain what he wants and does not want in a taco.

Fear or Love

I woke up afraid. I thought a calamity was going to strike. Then I remembered the man next to me in the ceremony fanning me with the eagle wing. The wind that struck me was hot. I hid behind my towel. Then at some point, I realized I was there for the heat. I stopped hiding from it, and just allowed it to engulf me. I surrendered to the community and it’s authority. I again surrendered in the memory, and the fear vanished.

A couple days later in the evening I was looking up something on the phone related to an art project I had been working on with an art app. I selected the app I wanted, and another app came up. When that happens it is usually because I missed the target with my finger and touched the one next to it. The app that opened was the one that displays the Baha’i writings. I closed it and opened the files that I had originally intended. Then as I studied  some aspect of my art project, I also had the thought, Baha’u’llah must want to show me something! The Baha’i app had been far away from the files app, it wasn’t right next to it. A little while later, I opened the Baha’i app again, then chose Baha’u’llah’s book, the Seven Valleys. The Four Valleys opened up to the Fourth Valley section. I read that section. It was full of quotes from ‘Ali, Rumi, and the Qu’ran. I pondered on the following:

Verily, the wayfarer who journeyeth unto God, unto the Crimson Pillar in the snow-white path, will never reach unto his heavenly goal unless he abandoneth all that men possess: “And if he feareth not God, God will make him to fear all things; whereas all things fear him who feareth God.” 3

The footnote just said that the quote had been written in Arabic. I’m guessing the rest had been written in Persian. Apparently, there was no other reference for the quote that the editors could find, so I am attributing it to Baha’u’llah Himself.

The paragraph immediately prior said something to the effect that love and fear cannot coexist in the same heart. The passage I quoted above seems to say that fear of everything and fear of God are opposites. You can either fear every little thing, or fear God and nothing else.

The way I surrendered in the lodge was a personal thing. I surrendered to the persons that were running it. I put my life in their hands. My mistrust turned to trust. My fear that I might be asked to leave my current abode turned to trust that I can stay until there is something else. 

God is a mysterious thing. He is the Absolute, the Unknowable, and yet He resides in everybody and everything to a degree. To the trusting, the knowledge comes concerning who or what is worthy of trust. 

Fear of God is love. Why fear? Fear implies loathing does it not? There is no loathing in the fear of God, whereas, to every other thing that one might fear, there is loathing and aversion. The fear of God is the deepest surrender imaginable. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him…” [1] It is a reminder of the power of God to reward and punish. 

I hear someone saying, “Are you creating a terrible God that punishes with vengeance?”

To that person I am saying, it’s a little more complicated than that. My God rewards with absolute bliss. If He allows the wicked to enter paradise, how will it be paradise? If we continue to deal with the same lies, scams, and narcissistic greed in Paradise, that we deal with here on Earth, where is the bliss? Therefore, if the righteous go to paradise, then, the wicked go someplace else. A realm populated with nobody but hateful, boastful liars might be termed hell.

And Paradise doesn’t have to wait for death. There is a way to appropriate the power of God to create paradise in the here and now, and it is related to surrender, and the righteous fear of God.

[1] Job 13:15

You Won

I heard the gentle voice of my spirit guide say, “You won, Jera.” Hmmm what does that mean? We had just appealed a citation for $500. Will we get the money back? “You won, Jera.” She said it several times.

For three months we have not parked on our little lot. A week before my 71st birthday, we hung around for awhile, eating. A code enforcer stopped by and said the county could take our property away. He mentioned that several times. A week later, on my birthday, we received the $200 citation. For eating a meal on our own property? They called it illegal storage. Nothing was stored there. We got in our vehicles and drove away.

A week later we received a citation for $500. Early on a Sunday morning, the day before my birthday, i had gotten into the SUV and started the motor, my husband was opening the gate. Headlights were shining on him from a car parked on the dirt road across the street. I turned the motor off in order to turn my headlights off completely. Why doesn’t that car make its turn and make its way down the road?

Two months later i saw the photo. It came in a little booklet the county had put together about their case against us.

We paid the $700, asking to appeal both, but we had missed the 14-day deadline for the $200 one. Recently we received a letter cancelling the citation for $500 and granting the refund. What a surprise it was when we received a check for $800, everything we had paid in fines during the entire year!

Some Thoughts

When we overlook what we can do for our fellow travelers we are missing the whole point. Our faith is empty if we put concern for our own soul above the needs of another. (From a recovery day book)

Someone posted that on a group I’m in and i realized i was wrong to be annoyed when the person who laid his right arm on my left arm this morning until my shoulder ached turned off an interesting commentary in order to bore me with his fears. I could have told him—that he was internalizing a sci-fi fantasy that has no bearing on reality and could he please turn the program that his phone was playing back on because i wanted to hear it—without the annoyance in my voice. But that would have required remembering my meditation. How easy it is to forget!

I realized yesterday afternoon that i habitatualy bring the kundalini up from the first to the second chakra, a response i developed a long time ago to certain stimuli. Now, many years later, i am learning to bring it from the second to the third chakra.

I think someone must have intimidated me or reminded me of being intimidated, and my totally unconscious response was to bring the kundalini to my second chakra. That part is habitual. Then later when someone annoyed me i had to remember that i needed to bring the kundalini to the third chakra. I’ll get it habitual but it will take some practice.

My Lord

In my post yesterday, “My Solution,” I discussed one tiny piece of the puzzle of how to achieve spiritual fulfillment, and left out the most important part. The most important part is having a direct relationship with God. That, of course, is impossible, because God, by definition, is Unknowable.
So how do we have a direct relationship with God and achieve spiritual fulfillment, if God can’t be known?

Several times throughout the millennia, God has sent a Holy Messenger to Earth in the form of a human being. We must know One such messenger. Perhaps the most recent is the best, and yet any One of them will suffice.

Christ offered Himself as the way to the Father (God). Jesus Christ is a pure, holy being. By reading the words of Jesus recorded in the Bible, and meditating on Him, one can achieve oneness with God.
But Jesus lived a long time ago. The Gospels, and the words of Christ were written down over a hundred years after the events took place and the words were spoken.

Muhammad was also sent from God. Muhammad met with an Angel of God, then spoke to people who wrote down His words immediately. Later, they read the words back to Him to make sure they had them right. The Qur’an contains prayer, worship, history and exhortation, the authentic words of a Divine Messenger.

A millennium and a half almost have passed since Muhammad, and two millennia since Jesus. Surely a merciful God has sent his Word to Earth in the form of a human being sometime within the past millennium! The Baha’i Revelation had its beginning in 1844. Baha’u’llah surrendered His physical form in 1892, leaving behind a large body of literature, transcribed directly from His words. Some He penned Himself. I found Him in 1992, just one century after His ascension.

O Son of Being!
Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant. (The Hidden Words #5, from the Arabic)

O Son of Spirit!
I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting. (The Hidden Words #13, from the Arabic)

Born in Tehran, Baha’u’llah was exiled to Baghdad after becoming involved in the movement of the forerunner of the Baha’i Faith. While in Baghdad, He would walk along the Tigris River and compose verses, which were compiled into a little book, The Hidden Words. The first half of that book was written in Arabic and the second half was written in Persian.

As much as I love it, my opinion is that #13 above was translated into a needlessly ponderous form of English.
A long time ago, I had been using a Baha’i Prayerbook, and even read aloud from it at Baha’i meetings, where I had taken white-out to the archaic words and penned in what I thought were their meanings in current English usage, for some of my favorite prayers. Then I dreamed that Baha’u’llah and I were lying next to one another conversing. He showed me a prayerbook with some sloppy whiteouts and sloppy edits. The next day I threw out my altered prayerbook and have used a clean one since.

My opinion hasn’t changed, but my action has. I submit, even when I don’t agree, because Baha’u’llah has revealed to me that He is Lord.