Articles by The Spiritual Chicks
Kick-ass questions. Unexpected answers.

SM & Copyright © 2004, 2016 K. Weissman & T. Coyne

Spiritual Chickology

posted Sep 22, 2016, 5:32 PM by Spiritual Chicks   [ updated Sep 22, 2016, 6:18 PM ]

Question Everything. 
Condemn Nothing. 
Align Yourself With What You Want. 

To us, spirituality is the process of exploring our connection to the universe at large---or, more precisely, to the elusive power that holds the universe together and makes our hair grow, all at the same time. OK, but what is this power we’re talking about? Science calls it Energy or Consciousness, and theology calls it God or Spirit. The interpretation of this power varies (scientists measure and quantify its effects, while creationists ascribe human-like body parts and personality traits to it), but there are three general characteristics that are more or less consistent—this power is everywhere, knows everything and can do anything. Now, that’s a kick ass power. We use terms like God, energy, Spirit and consciousness, along with Nature and the One Life, interchangeably. But it’s all the same ever-present stuff.

So if energy, or God, is everywhere, then where are we? And who are we? This brings us to the definition of one final term---the One Life Principle. This ancient idea says that there is a single underlying power in the universe, but the expression of this power takes many forms---baseball players, puppies, exotic dancers, Supreme Court Justices, rocks, trees, even criminals. And, while you might not be ready to jump on the One Life bandwagon just yet, you must admit that this principle explains a lot about life---not the least of which is how Jerry Falwell, Larry Flint and Mother Theresa can all be "children of God." We’re all spiritual beings, because we’re all Spirit. There you have it. God, or energy, is all there is. Isn’t it a kick in the ass to realize that we’ve always been what we’re trying to become...spiritual, that is?

Think about it. If we are already spiritual beings, then anything we do is spiritual whether it’s praying in the highest temple or taking out the garbage. And because the One Life expresses itself through many forms, we each have our own way of exploring our spiritual connection. This means that somebody’s fistfight may be as necessary for enlightenment as another person’s college education. So there’s no need to get into spiritual name calling over what’s "good" and what’s "bad." The only thing we need to consider is will this belief, action, idea or conversation bring us what we say we want? The spiritual process is about questioning everything---examining every idea or concept we have to make sure that it is logical to us, and that it works for us. But the trick is not to condemn anything in the process. Everything is spiritual---even stuff that you don’t like or don’t agree with. Question everything, but condemn nothing, then decide what you want and align yourself with it. If we can manage these three steps, we find that our personal power is the power of the universe, and life can be pretty great.

Can life really imitate divinity?

posted Sep 22, 2016, 5:26 PM by Spiritual Chicks

It can be tough when all you want to do in life is create but everyday reality brings you back to duties and responsibilities that seem anything but sexy, creative and inspiring. We start an exciting new business but get bogged down with finding the next client and managing the office. We create a beautiful family, but spend our days washing dishes, playing chauffeur and repairing the fragments of our DVD players that weren’t supposed to be toys for toddlers. With all the talk about spirituality being pure creativity, and Life being a process of becoming, it can get down right depressing to feel like we are stuck playing the role of repairman when we’d rather be out doing the glamour work. It’s times like these when a crash course in the nature of creativity can really help. 

Creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It requires life force—energy—to mold matter and thought into our own happy realities. This energy has to come from somewhere (scientists figured this out long ago). So it’s unrealistic to think that we can create something new without breaking down something old. And it’s equally impossible to have our creation last without caring for it lest it break down and become food for some other divine handiwork. Nowhere is this better summed up than in the Hindu trimurti---the three aspects of God: Brahma (the creator), Shiva (the destroyer) and Vishnu (the preserver). Leaves dying each fall so that they grow new again in the spring---that’s Shiva’s work. The special teacher or friend that helps us out when we need it most---that’s Vishnu. And Brahma doesn’t stomp around like an egotistical movie director demanding creative control when his counterparts do their thing.

Weeding and cultivating are just as important to the garden as planting the seeds. Similarly, evolution would stand still and we would all remain spiritually dormant if it weren’t for the three aspects of divinity---the destroyer, the preserver and the creator---working in harmony in our everyday world. So the next time you’re trying to keep your kid from nose-diving off the kitchen counter---realize your Vishnu-like role in preserving life. The next time you clean house, physically to remove the clutter, or mentally to make room for new ideas, give a salute to Shiva. And when the dust settles and the world quiets down for a moment, stir up your Brahma side and think about what you’d like to do next and how it would feel to have it done. Before you know it, you’ll be creating something wonderful that could have only come from honoring all sides of the creative triangle.

Copyright © 2004, 2016 K. Weissman & T. Coyne

Meeting Mohammad

posted Sep 22, 2016, 5:25 PM by Spiritual Chicks   [ updated Sep 22, 2016, 5:27 PM ]

This past year I’ve been studying to become an interfaith minister as a way of expanding my work as a Spiritual Chick in the world. The coursework includes studying all the major religions, including Islam, which I must admit I’ve never had a passion to study. And while I’ve always been fascinated by religion and have known Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Catholics and Protestants, I’ve never really known a Muslim---until now. 

Mohammad moved to New York City from Syria with his family a few months after school started. He’s a triplet and he’s almost six years old. Mohammad was one of the students in my daughter’s kindergarten class and I had the opportunity to see him at recess on Mondays, at the class weekly recital on Friday mornings, and every day at the end of school when the kids all sat on the rug and sang songs and played instruments with Julie, their teacher. 

At first, Mohammad couldn’t speak any English. A ball of energy, he expressed himself by running around the room exuberantly, using his hands to communicate. He made friends quickly, as most five year olds do, and soon everyone was cheering him on at recital as he recited the alphabet (skipping the letters q, r and s and a few others), the numbers, and began to learn to read.

I really got to know him toward the end of the year when he became interested in the recorder. He played the instrument like a whistle and the sound that came out of it was loud, sharp and annoying. One day, I called him over and showed him how to make a better sound. With Julie’s help, Mohammad began to make nicer and nicer sounds, which inspired her to teach all the kids how to play recorder. Most schools don’t teach the recorder until second or third grade, but before long many of the kids were playing "Hot Cross Buns," "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and Beethoven’s "Ode to Joy" like professionals. 

But Mohammad and a few other kids were having problems with the fingerings. I felt badly for him because he was the one who had inspired this musical adventure, but his little fingers couldn’t keep up. Then two days before the end of the school year, Mohammad asked me if he could play for me. His dark eyes were glistening and his trademark smile---a heart melting, irresistible ear-to-ear grin---was splashed across his face. He used his right hand, not the left like everyone else, to play three different notes, all perfect. And then he started improvising with the three different sounds and he created his own song. He was so proud and so was I. It’s one thing to play a melody someone else has written but it’s another thing entirely to have the courage to create your own music from your heart. 

Way back in 610 CE the Prophet Mohammad displayed the same kind of courage as my kindergarten friend. While meditating overnight in a cave near Mecca, Mohammad had a vision of the angel Gabriel and heard the words, "Mohammad you are the Messenger of God." A few years later, he began preaching his new religion, Islam, which means "submission to the Will of God." Mohammad believed in only one God and that Abraham, Moses and Jesus were also messengers of God and great prophets. Like those who came before him, Mohammad came up against great opposition. But he ultimately prevailed and is now regarded by some as the most influential man in history as a result of his vast accomplishments not only as a Prophet, but also as a political leader and the first unifier of the Arab peoples. Like all visionaries, Mohammad was ahead of his time. He advanced the status of women; encouraged the development of science; was dedicated to the pursuit of truth, knowledge and literacy; and emphasized ethics, morality and social justice. He was quite a remarkable, person, by any standard.

Clearly, I had met my Mohammad for a reason. We Americans, even open-minded, progressive, interfaith-oriented ones like myself, have no clue what Islam is. We blame current events on a religion, and ignore our own role in the creation process. We marginalize the Islamic world by seeing Muslims as the "other" and give ourselves permission to be smug, superior and critical, as if we’re all not blessed with the same access to wisdom and suffering from the same human frailties. All religions have blood on their hands. It’s time to stop casting stones and start embracing all our spiritual sisters and brothers so that we can create a better world. 

Islam may play the notes in a different order than Judaism and Christianity, but that’s what makes it beautiful. If there’s only One God, then all paths lead to Mecca, Rome, and Jerusalem. All paths lead home.

Tami

Copyright © 2004, 2016 K. Weissman & T. Coyne

Have faith, the leaves will fall.

posted Sep 22, 2016, 5:22 PM by Spiritual Chicks   [ updated Sep 22, 2016, 5:27 PM ]

Today my daughter looked up into the sky and said "leaves are falling down!” She just turned two and this was a new discovery for her. As I explained that leaves dry up and fall off the trees this time of year and grow again in the spring, it struck me how her knowledge was unfolding in a way that is typical of all experience. All life, from the plant up to the human sees only a portion of the cosmic picture at any one time. And while there are occasions in the human experience when it seems that leaves are dying all around us, we may be participating in a larger sequence of events that is more about creating than we realize.

To see this point of view, it helps to start with a basic tenet common to most metaphysical/spiritual/religious systems. It says that all answers are out there, we just have to uncover them. It’s actually kind of paradoxical when you think about it. I mean, the universe is infinite, yet everything that ever was, is, or will be, is already out there---that sounds pretty finite to me. But that’s what happens when we start meditating on the big picture---contradictions like "the one and the many," and "infinite and all-knowing" start to merge and make sense. So all ideas are out there, but in day-to-day life, we’re not aware of all of them. My daughter sees the leaves falling from the trees but doesn’t know about the seasons and the cycles of the earth. So she asks questions about what is happening. I give her answers as best I can and she accepts some of my explanation. But the part of my story that is beyond her comprehension doesn’t seem to discourage her. She figures that if Mommy isn’t too upset by the leaves letting go then it’s probably OK. In a word, she has faith. 

As adults, many of us look for the equivalent of Mommy or Daddy to tell us that everything is OK before we have faith. This is why for many people, finding faith can be elusive or misleading and disappointing. But true faith doesn’t come from another "authority," it comes from our ability to gain knowledge. As my daughter gets older, she will learn about the earth’s rotation around the sun and how the seasons occur and her faith will be replaced by knowledge. That knowledge will, in turn, supply the faith she needs to get through the next big mystery in her life, like "what is gravity?" or "will I ever get my driver’s license?" Faith is found through experience which, if we really pay attention, tells us that the universe has a logic, a reason or a pattern and things don’t happen purely by chance. And when we haven’t gone far enough yet to see the pattern we’re in, it’s faith in this very idea that carries us through and enables us to make the choices that will lead us where we need to go.

As the leaves are falling this season, practice faith. It’s easy to do and it will sharpen your skills so that the next time you really need guidance, faith will be there waiting for you.

Karen

Copyright © 2004, 2016 K. Weissman & T. Coyne

Why do I worry and how do I stop? Here are five easy steps to a worry-free you!

posted Sep 22, 2016, 3:31 PM by Spiritual Chicks   [ updated Sep 22, 2016, 5:28 PM ]

Step 1: Don’t try to stop.  
Whenever we try to stop something, all we do is call more attention to the thing we want to avoid. You know how it goes---"Don’t eat that cake!" Then all you can think about is cake! Furthermore, a real worrier devotes a lot of hours to this great American past-time, leaving the worrier to wonder, "What the hell am I going to do instead?" thus creating another form of anxiety. As ridiculous as it sounds---we actually worry about not worrying. 

Step 2: Find something else to do. 
Is there a possible solution to the source of your worry? Then try it. Would more information make you feel better? Then get it. Is there a closet you’ve been meaning to clean out? Then go to it. Even if your efforts aren’t entirely fruitful, the mere act of doing something constructive will take your mind of your worries.

Step 3: Get comfortable with uncertainty. 
There’s a real trick to this one. Worriers are notoriously bad at dealing with the unknown, but that’s because we forget that there’s a difference between "knowing" and "KNOWING." Do you KNOW how your car works? We don’t mean how to turn it on and drive, but do you understand how the fuel burns and powers the motor to turn the wheels? Most of us don’t (unless that’s our business or hobby) yet we’re completely comfortable driving knowing that someone else KNOWS how to make a car run. 

We think life is uncertain when we can’t predict what’s going to happen. . Yet it’s this uneasy feeling that also moves many us to seek the bigger picture. Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you are one of those seekers so worry actually gave you a little gift. There’s a lot of comfort in the belief that something KNOWS all, even if we don’t, and even more peace of mind comes when we feel we are part of that something and experience it working through us so that it becomes more than just a belief. When we say "get comfortable with uncertainty," what we really mean is to get comfortable with the certainty of this grand idea. We as individuals don’t have to be the architect of every moment of our lives for our existences to have order and meaning, because we are part of a greater something that KNOWS everything.

Step 4: Pick your greater "Something." 
For some, the traditional notion of God does the trick. For others, Nature is a pretty reliable power. For still others, Science and the study of Energy shows us how orderly and lawful our universe really is. Pick whatever "Something" works and is meaningful to you. This is a big step because once you make it, you’ve unknowingly given up your worry. Worry comes from the mistaken notion that we are somehow separate from the power of the universe---that things can happen to us, and that we have no power to direct our lives or find meaning and purpose in whatever we encounter---that personal, or even worldly, problems are what real Life is all about. Wrong, wrong, and wrong! And if you want proof, go to Step 5.

Step 5: Pay Attention... 
...to the world around you and within you. Don’t judge, don’t condemn, just pay attention. Trust us on this one, the solutions to your "worries" may be right under your nose.

Copyright © 2004, 2016 K. Weissman & T. Coyne

Where does evil come from and can we get rid of it?

posted Sep 22, 2016, 3:30 PM by Spiritual Chicks   [ updated Sep 22, 2016, 5:28 PM ]

Before Creation there was only one undifferentiated essence in the universe. This essence contained within itself the potential to shape itself into any form whatsoever, visible or invisible. With the event known as the Big Bang, scientists hypothesize that this undifferentiated oneness became a boiling plasma soup from which both matter and antimatter emerged and the creation of our Universe ensued. 

Genesis: 1-5 explains Creation in a more literary way: "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day."

So what does all of this have to do with evil? Whether we prefer the scientific approach to the creation of the Universe or a more symbolic spiritual interpretation, it is clear that as a result of a major event (the Big Bang, "Let there be light")--the One essence manifested two different sides of itself--a positive aspect (matter, Day) and a negative aspect (antimatter, Night). Duality, in other words, is inherent in physical creation and is the explanation for the existence of both good and evil in our world. 

For millennia, the quest of spiritual seekers has been to overcome evil--to transcend duality--and merge with the one essence behind Creation. Interestingly enough, both science and Western religious teachings provide the answer as to how to do just this. 

According to a September 19, 2002 New York Times article, "Matter and antimatter are like the good and evil twins of nature; they are endowed with equal and opposite characteristics like charge and spin, so if they meet they obliterate each other, releasing a flash of energy upon contact." In other words, when confronted with each other, matter and antimatter merge and transform into another state altogether, that of pure energy. Interestingly, in human and some animal reproduction, the merging together of the male and female of the species in sexual union is the process by which a third new member of the species is created. Two must become one to create a new one.

Various scriptures In Judaism, Christianity and Islam teach that in order to transform an "evil" situation and create the conditions for one’s own spiritual union with divinity, it is necessary to meet evil with good. 

In Psalms 37:27, God counsels humanity to "Depart from evil, and do good; So you shall abide forever." Jesus addresses this same theme when he advises his followers to "Resist not evil" (Matthew: 5:39) and to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew: 5:44) As in Psalms, the reward for meeting evil with good is to enjoy the status of being "children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good..." (Matthew 5:45) And in the Koran, Allah reveals to Mohammed that: "The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better, then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it except those who are patient..." (Fussilat 41:34).

The Koran’s admonition that in order to overcome evil we must cultivate patience cannot be underestimated. Unlike the instantaneous and effortless transformation into pure energy that results from the merging of matter and antimatter or the sudden illuminating experiences of some spiritual seekers, most often great patience is required to overcome an "evil" situation or to achieve enlightenment. Even in human reproduction, great patience is often required before the woman becomes pregnant with new life. And in Nature the period we call night is only transformed into day as the Earth gradually revolves on its axis and light from the sun begins to merge with and then overcome the darkness. 

As spiritual seekers, let us approach every "evil" not as an obstacle to our quest for union with the divine, but as an opportunity to apply goodness, understanding, and love. Like the transmutation of matter and antimatter into pure energy, our transformation into true children of God is assured.

Copyright © 2004, 2016 K. Weissman & T. Coyne

How do you define the world?

posted Sep 22, 2016, 3:27 PM by Spiritual Chicks   [ updated Sep 22, 2016, 5:29 PM ]

Science reminds us over and over again not to take the world as we know it too seriously. Sure this seems like an oxymoron because science is so methodical, so skeptical, so...serious. But no matter how far we think we’ve come in uncovering the truth, there’s always a bigger picture (or a smaller microscopic detail) waiting to be revealed that will prove there’s more to the universe than we previously realized. It’s this process of continued discovery that makes life fun. The trick is not to get so attached to our old ideas that we can’t move on to the new ones.

Recently, three scientists discovered what they believe to be a new planet. It’s larger and farther away than Pluto (the current planet that is farthest from the sun). Affectionately called UB313, this orbiting body is currently under review by the International Astronomical Union who will determine if it meets the criteria to be called a planet. 

The discovery of a potential new neighbor in the solar system is awesome and exciting, but here’s the real kicker, the IAU is having trouble defining what a planet is because, according to more recent scientific understanding, Pluto shouldn’t be one. So these astronomers are charged with the difficult task of deciding between scientific accuracy (at least to the best of today’s knowledge) and centuries of cultural history. In other words, there’s a chance that Pluto will remain a planet simply because we’ve always assumed that it is one.

This is how we create our world. 

We’re not saying that it is "wrong" to keep the existing planets in tact, but the Pluto dilemma is a really good example of how important it is to understand when something is done out of convention rather than out of true knowing or understanding. It’s one thing to keep Pluto on the placemats sold in the Air and Space Museum’s gift shop, but it would be quite another to call other objects "planets" based on Pluto’s mistaken example.

The same is true for us on our own path of discovery. Most of our personal beliefs and concepts come from convention--and we mean all sorts of ideas from how we evaluate our self-worth to thinking we will get sick during "cold and flu season." Convention is a powerful tool and it is well used by many in authority to keep order and control. Certainly, there are times when this is necessary for our own harmony and safety, but convention should be followed knowingly and never blindly or out of fear.

True evaluations of right and wrong, come from the great within by honoring the One Life that connects us all, scientifically and spiritually. With our hearts and minds open to this singular purpose, we are able to bridge the gap between the many lives who are governed by culture and tradition and the One who is governed by knowledge. Then with a knowing wink, we can continue to name Pluto as we count the ten, eleven, twelve, and so on, planets in our solar system.

Copyright © 2004, 2016 K. Weissman & T. Coyne

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