Dr. Mike Obsatz, Professor Emeritus at Macalester College
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I will be turning 81 next week. That's 9 squared. I make a joke about it because it doesn't seem real to me. How can I be 81 when I was just 50 about five minutes ago.
Time flies, and it flies faster the older I get. The following week, my youngest daughter turns 40. How can that be? She was a child not long ago, and now she has children of her own.
I frankly did not think I would make it to 81. My sister died at 55. My cousin died at 54. My grandmother lived until 65 or so.
When I think back to my early life, I feel a lot of sadness. That little boy was lonely and trapped. As a victim of violent bullying for years, I often thought I'd be better off dead. Maybe I outlived the gang of boys who tormented and hurt me so badly.
Boyhood was painful. Adolescence was confusing. College and graduate school were draining. Lots of tests, awkward social situations.
You see -- as a young man, I received little guidance and support for navigating the world. I was clueless, and lacked many social skills. It is a miracle that I made it through the teens and twenties.
So much pressure to perform, to prove myself, to "know" about life.
It would have been wonderful to have a mentor during those years who stood by me and helped me process the many challenges I faced. My high school English teacher was some support. But he was llimited in how much he could help me. College advisors were not much help, and therapists were only for the severely mentally disturbed.
Maybe that is why I mentor people now. I have been doing it for thirty or more years. I realize how much I would have benefited if I had somebody who took an interest in me and my life, and maintained a connection with me through those challenging years.
I started teaching college at 25, only 3 years older than many of my students. What did I know about the complexities of life, how to navigate the academic world, how to choose a partner, how to nurture myself?
I am determined to be there for others -- long term, and support them, sharing my wisdom and insights, providing them with guidance, love, and unconditional acceptance.
I have read more than 3000 books, plus articles. I have been a variety of life situations, and finally think I know what really matters.
My spiritual growth, and my living with love and grace, did not come easy. I found spiritual connection, passion, and love through a variety of belief systems and organizations. It was hit and miss.
But I am grateful to have arrived at 81, with good health, a strong spiritual and emotional support network. I have a created a variety of books, films, websites, and articles. I am not done yet.
I continue to follow my bliss, find joy in my family and friends, and keep up with medical appointments and check-ups. But mostly, I dedicate my life to being what I needed most - a guiding light in a sometimes dark and confusing world.
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The world can be a challenging place to live. Jesus told us to be "IN the world, but not OF the world." To be not OF the world means that one does not live needing earthly approval, praise, or validation. It also means seeing the limitations of worldly values, beliefs, and activities. Success, position, wealth didn't matter to Jesus. He spent time with the lowly, the hungry, the outcasts.
We must learn to navigate a world filled with pain and suffering, as well as joy, love and compassion, and still maintain our spiritual connection and Divine Essense. Since we are children of God, children of the Universe, we have only one label or definition. We are not lured into worldly descriptions of who we are "supposed to be."
We are not our race, gender, age, position, social status, sexual orientation, etc. We are more than any of these. India Arie sings that "I am Light."
Navigational skills can help a great deal, as we try to maintain our Divine awareness, and yet cope with worldly issues.
Here are some of the situations which require our Divine Coping and Navigational Skills:
Pressure to conform to others' perceptions of who one "should" be and how one "should" act.
Interacting with difficult, arrogant, self-righteous, hostile and narcissistic people.
Going unnoticed for the good that one does. Not being appreciated, praised, or valued.
Dealing with other people's projections -- their own self-hatred, for example.
Empathizing with the world's suffering while not trying to fix people or situations.
Grieving worldly losses, but not staying stuck in grieving.
Wars, injustice, brutality, insults, shaming.
How do we navigate an often depressing world?
We navigate these challenges through continually reminding ourselves that we are Children of God, doing the best we can, a world that doesn't always act in loving and compassionate ways.
Choosing our battles. Knowing when to speak up, and when to keep quiet. Maintaining a low profile when it makes sense. Standing up for fairness, justice, and inclusion when we can.
Living in gratitude. Seeing the blessings in seemingly impossible situations.
We realize that we have one foot planted on Planet Earth, and another foot connected to Divine Light.
Good luck on your navigational journey, Child of Light and Love.
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Essence is eternal. Form changes.
Essence is the core of what matters. Form is one way of expressing Essence but is not to be mistaken for Essence.
Form leads to labels, categories, and judgment. Essence is beyond description, and not capable of grasping totally by the human mind and spirit.
We are Essence. Our Essence is packaged in Human Form. This Form is born, changes, and dies. Essence lasts forever.
Empire Consciousness is about Form. Oneness Consciousness is about Essence. Empires come and go, live and die. Empires define, categorize, and rank.
Believing that Empire is Essence is the largest mistake anyone can make. We are temporarily here on this planet. Our Essence is everlasting, and our connection with each other's Essence is the Ultimate spiritual experience.
Oneness Consciousness is the incredible Namaste -- The God in Me Beholds the God in You. This undefinable truth is what brings joy and peace. Without Oneness, all the Forms can do is battle for power, prestige, and dominance. However, this is an exercise in futility. Form is empty without Essence.
God is Essence. The Ultimate, Formless, but Essential Light. There is nothing that can describe this, or define it. It just IS.
Until we start living in Oneness Consciousness, we will continue to have famine, wars, and suffering. By dividing, defining, labeling, and categorizing we lose our Ultimate Divine Connection.
Death changes our Form, but not our Essence. The Main Idea is to see the Ultimate Oneness of everyone and everything, and live from the mystical sacred blessing that is Life Itself.