Clarifying my Intention

I have had three particular circumstances in my life where an individual gave me a book under very special occasions that would change my life.

When I moved to Asheville in 1993, I began teaching “A Course in Miracles” at a local bookstore. It had taken me 7 years to read the book the first time and 4 years to read it the second time. I was in the middle of reading it for the third time in 1993 when I began teaching it. This time, it would only take me 2 years. I still have my original copy with all my notes. The pages are so swollen and worn. It looks like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

One night, a seemingly homeless young man joined the class. Upbeat, happy, intelligent, he was a delightful member of the class and contributed a great deal to a wonderful evening. Upon leaving, he was moving toward the street sidewalk when I asked, “Do you need a lift somewhere? Can I help you in any way?”
“Nope, I’m fine…but thanks. I enjoyed the class.”
“I did, too. I hope you’ll come back next week.”
We smiled and shook hands and he disappeared from view.
The next week I arrived a little early to prepare for the evening class. The bookstore owner came into the room with a box.
“I don’t know where this came from but it was on the front desk. It has your name on it.”
“Thanks,” I said.
I unwrapped the package with curiosity. Inside was a small book, “The Illimitable One.” Inside the cover without a signature was hand-written: “Brother, thank you laying down the sword.”

I knew it was him. I got no sleep at all that night as I read the short book from beginning to end. I never saw the stranger again. The book moved me. It brings me to this point.

One of the greatest shortcomings we face as human beings is the complete absence of anything remotely spiritual. It is not taught. It is not valued. In fact, it is deeply avoided. But how can anything be taught and valued if it is not known? And no, before you react too quickly, religion doesn’t count as spirituality. In fact, religion is dying off and if you haven’t noticed that, you’re simply not paying attention. It’s about time.

It’s 2014 and we still start wars in the name of faith, killing and maiming hundreds of thousands. The ignorance, absurdity and bloodshed of such religious thinking in the US should have been criminally prosecuted at all levels of the Bush administration. It was not. And if religion doesn’t kill us off, then greed will. The rape and plunder of the US financial economy was met with not one single admission of guilt, much less prosecution. And if religion or greed doesn’t do us in, then politics will. Control of the government is open to the highest bidder. Look carefully and you will see that the result of the big three (religion, greed, politics, etc.) is violence. Violence is the imposition of your will on another…plain and simple. You get yours at the expense of someone else. Blood does not have to have been spilled for violence to have taken place. Where does this ignorance stop?

John Stuart Mill spoke of his father in his autobiography: “His aversion to religion, in the sense usually attached to the term, was of the same kind with that of Lucretius: he regarded it with the feelings due not to a mere mental delusion, but to a great moral evil. He looked upon it as the greatest enemy of morality: first, by setting up factitious excellencies---belief in creeds, devotional feelings, and ceremonies, not connected with the good of human kind---and causing these to be accepted as substitutes for genuine virtue: but above all, by radically vitiating the standard of morals; making it consist in doing the will of a being, on whom it lavishes indeed all the phrases of adulation, but when in sober truth it depicts as eminently hateful.”

We must find a solution that can alter the path of the antagonistic nature of our lives or else we will destroy ourselves. If you don’t think that destroying ourselves is a possibility, please look again. No one person will raise their hand in favor of world hunger. But it exists. No one person will raise their hand in favor of poverty but it exists. No one person will raise their hand in favor of climate change. But it exists. No one person would raise their hand in favor of global financial collapse. But it exists. If  no one is in favor of it, then why does it exist?

Spiritual consciousness is essential if we expect things to change. And it can only change through a more conscious, enlightened, spiritual society.

So with these thoughts in mind, I want to write about and teach that which allows the individual to rise above the duality of his or her mind and seek a unified vision of life. I want to share that which can serve as a teaching device that can cause the reader (and myself) to become a more self-aware, more conscious, and a more unified individual.

Self-AwarenessAshleigh Stoia