CwG Weekly Bulletin #97: Whose Side is God On?
My Dear Friends around the World...
This is the final week of The Journey through Europe, with the message of Conversations with God being taken in person to thousands of people in 13 different nations. The experience has been extraordinary.
It is almost impossible to describe the impact that the message of CwG has had on this planet until one gets out of one's own country and begins to travel to other places. Then, when you see people speaking very emotionally, in a dozen different languages, about how God's love and total acceptance has touched them through this work, you begin to see the amazing effect and the global dimension of what is happening here---and you begin to get a sense that it truly is possible to change the world, with the right tool in hand. And you also get the sense that CwG just may be that tool.
Really, you have to see the faces of the people! A man in Lisbon yesterday broke down in tears as he described how he found CwG in a bookstore on a business trip to Canada---and how it changed his life. A woman in Turkey explained with deep emotion that now, at last, she feels that she has found God. A teenager in Stockholm stops me outside our meeting room to ask me, "Can what is in these books really be true?" "I believe it is," I tell him. "It seems too good to be true," he replies, and I answer, "Yes, I know. God is like that. Too good to be true. That's why nobody believes in the Real God, and everybody believes in the Make Believe God that all those organizations have to work so hard to make everybody believe in!"
Humanity's Team Communities are now forming in many cities throughout Europe. I had a chance to sit down with enthusiastic groups of five, seven, and ten everywhere from Rome to Lisbon, Oslo to London! I am so excited about where all this is going! We really ARE going to "change the world's mind about itself." We really are!
Let me give you a bit of a "travelogue" from just one of my stops....Istanbul.
This is one of the most fascinating places in the world. This country is not at all what I expected. In fact, if I were writing a travel brochure for the Dept. of Tourism here, I would headline it: Turkey: The Unexpected Country.
The people here are very open, very modern, very "western" in their culture. One might as well be walking down the street in New York or Los Angeles. Yet the people have not given up their culture. They have not sacrificed their heritage in order to be "modern." There's a fascinating mix of Yesterday and Tomorrow here, an intriguing blend of the Old and the New. Over 90% of the people claim Islam as their religion, yet the country is run by an entirely secular, elected democratic government.
Turkey is the only nation in the middle eastern region that, like many of the others, is overwhelmingly Muslim, but that does not have---and does not insist on, or have an interest in having---an Islamic state.
Still, Europe does not trust the mix, especially France and Germany, which currently oppose Turkey's entrance into the European Union. The fear is that, once in the EU, Turkey's Muslim majority will seek to "Islamisize" the EU through economic and political pressure. In the meantime, Turkey last year refused to let the United States send ground troops into northern Iraq from southeastern Turkish bases that the U.S. wished to establish here, so the country has lost a little of its support from the present Administration in Washington. Now they're trying to get back into Washington's good standing by accepting President Bush's invitation to attend this week's Group of Eight summit in Georgia, after several other countries with majority Muslim populations declined.
The U.S. is still supporting Turkish accession into the EU, and while the Turkish prime minister did personally accept the Bush invitation to address the G-8 summit on June 8, he has already let it be known that he plans to use that invitation to deliver a speech to the summit criticizing U.S. policy in the Middle East, particularly the Bush-sponsored Greater Middle East Initiative now being openly discussed all over Europe.
So Turkey is doing a delicate political dance, hoping to keep its friendship with long-time ally U.S.A. intact, trying not to offend its Arab neighboring states, trying to walk a tightrope in the Iraq war, thus perhaps romancing Germany and France into saying "okay" on EU entry.
EU membership would give Turkey a huge economic uplift in a country which has very little DFI (direct foreign investment). They figure in Turkey that they can count on a 70% increase in DFI should the nation be allowed to join the Union. That could mean a dramatic change in living standards for the average Turk, where the economy could best be described as weak.
I went to the Sultanahmet mosque (the famous Blue Mosque, as most tourists know it) in Istanbul, and it is breathtaking. Known as the fourth largest house of worship in the world, it is something to see. The energy inside is unbelievable. Lots of praying has been going on in there.
Oh, and an interesting side note...there is no speed limit in Turkey. Not even in the cities. People zoom around at breakneck speed, weaving in and out of traffic with heart-stopping aplomb. Not a good place to be a front seat passenger if one has a weak constitution!
Much else to report on the trip, and I will do so in the weeks ahead. One thing I am clear about....the politics of the world---not only in Turkey, but all over Europe and around the globe---are more important in the creation of our future reality than most people think, or want to understand. The world is based on politics---yet, as CwG says, a politics without spirituality is bankrupt. So the journey to Europe, made possible in part by your own contributions to the Conversations with God Foundation, has been important on many levels---not the least of which has been opening the minds of many people here about Americans once again.
Next week: a report on my three-hour meeting with the Islamic leader in Lisbon, Sheikh Munir of the Central Mosque of Lisbon, and my experience of attending Friday Prayers with 1,200 Muslims at the Mosque.
Now, let's see what else is in this week's bulletin.....
- Who Am I?
- Question of the Week from a CwG Reader
"What is the "thought behind the thought behind the thought"?
- The Product of the Week: a special selection from our CwG Store
offered, for this week only, at a discount price.
- Who's Side is God On?
- Special Closing
A NEW 5-DAY INTENSIVE RETREAT
July 4th - 8th
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Facilitated by Neale Donald Walsch, the retreat is highly interactive, with participants encouraged to bring to the room their own present real-life dilemmas and challenges-and to be prepared to be released from them. (Many people would rather hang onto the problem than have a solution. This at least keeps them in the safe territory of "familiar unhappiness." This retreat is only for those who are willing to make real movement, and who are prepared to venture from their comfort zone in order to find True Comfort at last.)
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A Meeting of Messengers
August 13 - 15
If you are one of the many people who experience that you are also having Conversations with God, or who have experienced other metaphysical or paranormal phenomena, and have been longing for a "safe space" in which to tell others about your experience, you will be very happy to know that such a space has now been created.
During this meeting, which will be group-facilitated by Neale Donald Walsch, you will be given an opportunity to:
* share your experience personally in a safe and loving small group environment facilitated by a member of the Conversations with God Foundation staff;
* have an opportunity to video tape your sharing with a trained interviewer,
* to take this tape home with you to use or distribute in any way you wish;
* have a chance for your tape to be selected for worldwide dissemination by video streaming on the official CwG Foundation website;
* have a chance for your sharing to be included in a booklet to be printed and made available to the public by the Conversations with God Foundation, to be entitled: OTHER PEOPLE'S CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD - Proceedings of the first Meeting of Messengers Gathering,
* have an opportunity to personally share your experience with Neale, with Neale offering you help and guidance in understanding more deeply what you have experienced and why, in a large group process before the entire gathering; and more ...
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Who Am I?
All during my life-even as a small child-I have been asking myself one question without ceasing: Who am I?
I can't imagine that there is a thinking person anywhere who has not asked this question. How can we avoid it? One look up at the night sky, one glance around a crowded stadium, one moment in a room with someone who is dying, and the question begs to be answered.
In my lifetime I've been in the room with three people who were very, very near death-two of them in the past few years (one of the things I notice about growing older is that I seem to have more opportunities to watch others die). Nothing in my experience brings up the question of who I am more immediately or more profoundly than being in a space where someone is leaving their body.
Is there anything that leaves the body, I ask myself. Am I making this all up?
My father was an interesting man. On this question he played both ends against the middle. When he talked about life after death he said he didn't believe in it, that he thought life ended when the body snuffed itself out, and that was that. All consciousness, all self-awareness, ended. Yet my father prayed on his knees every night of his life, right into his 83rd and last year.
To whom was he praying, I often wondered. And what was he praying for?
I think that, secretly, my father knew the truth, but that he just couldn't quite believe it. So he hedged his bets. He prayed to the God that he felt was there, but he mouthed words of disbelief in anything except physical life. This way, he couldn't lose.
For myself, the largest question of life has been answered by life itself. Having been in the room with dying people, I am convinced that life goes on in another form after death. I can't tell you why. It's not as if someone died and came back to life and reported it all to me. There's just something in the air in rooms like that. And if you're sensitive to it, you can feel it. It's a felt sense of Eternity.
That's what I would call it. A felt sense of Eternity. A sensing, an awareness, that there is something more going on here than birth-life-death of the physical body. That the Being on the deathbed is more than, greater than, the flesh and bones lying there.
You can feel that in the room, I swear. And, I'm told, you can feel it when it leaves the room. I've never been in the room at the exact moment of someone's death, but I trust those who have been to have gotten this right.
Now, what does all this have to do with the CwG lesson regarding who you really are? Well, to me it has everything to do with that. Because if life goes on forever-that is, if we never die-that says something enormous about Who We Really Are.
Among other things, it says that we are not our bodies. Our bodies are just something that we have, not something we are. Our bodies are things we are carrying around, tools with which to create our experiences. So who is the "I" that is carrying around my body?
CwG answered this lifelong question for me, at last. It said that I am an aspect of Divinity, a portion of God made manifest as man, and then, after physical life, as spirit. I am an energy that never dies out. I am Life Itself, in many forms. My awareness of my Self never ends, but only expands. I come to physical form and to physical life and into the relative universe that I might know who I am in my own experience.
The experiences of the physical are rich and deep, embedding upon Pure Consciousness the sights, and sounds, the feel of Life. The wonder, the glory, the unspeakable gift of living in all forms is manifest in experience through physicality. Who I am is eternal, and seeks physicality again and again, for it is the playground of the gods, the soil in which the essence of life grows, the space in which awareness becomes aware of awareness itself.
Who I Am is the Everlasting God, the Offspring of Life Itself, the Out-picturing of Spirit, all held within the confines of a series of bodies-bodies within bodies within bodies-and all contained within a matrix of energies so complex and so wondrous as to defy description or definition.but not experience.
We can experience that which we cannot describe or define. We do this all the time. We can just as easily be that which we cannot describe or define.
It is not necessary for us to be able to understand Who We Really Are in order to Be it. That is a great secret about life. Understanding is not necessary.
Yet lack of understanding is, in a sense, the highest form of understanding, for when you give up the need to understand, you understand everything.
It has been said that enlightenment is knowing that enlightenment doesn't exist. This is because for enlightenment to exist as a discreet and separate experience, a thing called non-enlightenment would have to exist, and non-enlightenment is not possible, since enlightenment is both the nature and the definition of things. It is the goal and the attainment. It is the destination and the journey. It is that which we seek and that which we have, at the same time.
This lesson is titled, Who You Really Are. Yet the real question should be, Who Are You Not, What Are You Not?
The answer comes back, "No One, and Nothing."
Indeed. Then, what is the question?
Question of the Week from a CwG Reader
"What is the "thought behind the thought behind the thought"?
Dear Neale, Please elaborate regarding "the thought behind the thought behind the thought." And, isn't there a workable alternative to "free will"? Something that would curb a lot of grief?
But if there is no "good or bad" or "right or wrong," maybe grief is a judgment or a misnomer? Tom, Canada.
Hello, Tom. The "thought behind the thought behind the thought" is what CwG calls the "sponsoring thought." That is, it is the last layer of onion skin.
Let me give you an example. Often in our five-day intensive retreats someone in the room announces a fear. Sometimes that's my cue to move into a process which uncovers that person's sponsoring thought, or the "thought behind the thought behind the thought."
I will ask, "What are you afraid would happen if so and so actually occurred?" And he or she will tell me. Then I will ask, "And what are you afraid will happen if that happens?" And he or she will tell me. And then I will ask, "And what do you think will happen then?" Once more the person will tell me, and once more I will ask, until we get to the bottom of it-until we get to the sponsoring thought. And that is what the person is really afraid of.
These are the controlling thoughts in our lives, Tom. These are the thoughts we've brought with us into the present moment. They often tear away at the present moment, turning it into something it is not.
Now you've asked if there isn't a "workable alternative" to free will. Why in the world would you want there to be? Do you want to live as an automaton? Free of grief, but also free of any choice? I don't think so. Lack of choice is a big price to pay for lack of grief.
Your final statement is correct. "Grief" is a judgment. It is a decision we make that something is not all right with us. When we change our mind, we change our decision, and we put an end to our grief.
What can cause us to change our mind-and thus our experience-is a change in our perspective. That is what Conversations with God has done for many people. It has brought hundreds of thousands of people to a new perspective. In this, it is changing the world.
The Product of the Week: a special selection from our CwG Store
offered, for this week only, at a discount price. ==================================================================
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Whose Side is God On?
"The people of every country think I condone the war they are fighting, and condemn the war that their opponent is fighting. The people of every nation believe they have "God on their side." Every cause assumes the same thing. Indeed, every person feels the same thing-or at least hopes it is true whenever any decision or choice is made.
And do you know why all creatures believe God is on their side? Because I am. And all creatures have an intuitive knowing of this.
This is just another way of saying, 'Your will for you is My will for you.' And that is just another way of saying, I have given you all free will.
There is no free will if to exercise it in certain ways produces punishment. That makes a mockery of free will and renders it counterfeit.
So with regard to abortion or war, buying that car or marrying that person, having sex or not having sex, 'doing your duty' or not 'doing your duty,' there is no such thing as right and wrong, and I have no preference in the matter.
You are all in the process of defining yourselves. Every act is an act of self-definition.
If you are pleased with how you have created yourself, if it serves you, you will continue doing so in that way. If you are not, you will stop. This is called evolution.
- CwG Book 3, page 253
And now, a closing word, once again, from Europe.
I am writing this from my hotel room in Lisbon. It is Monday, June 7. I spoke earlier in this bulletin about the power of politics in the world. It is second only to the power of economics. Economics, as most of us know, runs politics---even though most people in economic power circles do not want to admit or acknowledge this openly.
Politics plays a powerful rule in the creation of our collective tomorrows. And here is something I am learning, which has surprised me a little. Most people in the West do not want to see their politics and their spirituality mixed.
Are you surprised that I am surprised? Well, I guess I live in this little fantasy world where everyone understands that politics are supposed to be the out-picturing and the real-world demonstration of our Highest Inner Values...meaning, for many people, their spiritual truth.
In Eastern block nations, no one has to explain this to anyone. In fact, there it seems apparent that if one's spiritual values are not reflected in one's politics, then those politics are, as I said earlier, bankrupt.
President Bush also understands this. An avowedly religious man, he has done all he could do to reflect his personal spiritual beliefs in his political initiatives. From promoting a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting gay marriage to his faith-based initiatives and his war on terrorism, the President has made it clear that his faith plays an important role in his considerations and decisions.
Should the same be true for the rest of America's citizens, and the citizens of the world? Apparently, many people in the West do not think so. Consider this communication our Foundation received recently...
"DEAR CwG FOUNDATION....Please cancel my monthly $25 donation and also take me off the email newsletter list. Neale has become far too political, creating worse divisions amongst people, rather than joining and unifying them. I no longer wish to support his actions. A.M.S. (name withheld to honor privacy), Holmes beach, Florida."
This is apparently in reaction to some commentaries I have placed here in which a political point of view was expressed.
Now I should like to offer an observation about all this, because there are others who have written similar notes criticizing me for political commentaries. These same people are people who have described themselves as having had their lives positively impacted by CwG. Yet Conversations with God clearly says, "Politics is your spirituality, demonstrated."
It makes this point with ambiguity. Should people with a spiritual message keep their political points of view to themselves? If the answer is yes, then tell me, WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING A SPIRITUAL MESSAGE?
Spiritual messages are not only about how to experience inner peace, or how to become spiritually evolved, or how to move to mastery, or how to "get to heaven." Spiritual messages have to do, also, with the "real world" of 9-to-5 life. They have to do with creating heaven on EARTH, and they have to do with CHANGING THE WORLD. And if we think we can change the world with spiritual truth without ever touching upon POLITICS, we're deluding ourselves mightily.
Consider the commentary of Bishop Michael Sheridan, Catholic bishop of a diocese in Colorado. He announced two weeks ago that Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry was no longer eligible to receive Holy Communion because of his political views, some of which are other than those of the Most Holy Roman Catholic Church. Bishop Sheridan also said that Sen. Kerry, by taking those positions, was "jeopardizing his salvation". Finally, the Bishop declared to his flock that ANY CATHOLICS WHO VOTED FOR A CANDIDATE HOLDING SUCH VIEWS WOULD SUFFER THE SAME CONSQUENCES.
Bishop Sheridan has been praised by some Catholics for speaking his faith into the political arena.
Those with somewhat more liberal views, on the other hand, apparently must not.
I have no intention of ignoring politics during this political year, simply because some readers of CwG might wish that I did.
Politics is our spirituality, DEMONSTRATED.
So says CwG....and so say I.
In this election year, whatever our political beliefs, it is more important than ever to express those beliefs. If not now, when? If not you, who?
See you all next week (those of you, at least, who believe in freedom of expression, and in the free exchange of views. I promise to publish your views here, too, so that no discussion in this space is one-sided. Here's looking forward to weeks of stimulating discussion!)
The CwG Weekly Bulletin is written by Neale Donald Walsch. It is produced by Joanna Gabriel and edited by Rose Wolfenbarger with technical contributions from Ed Keller, Ilima Sylva and Roger Mellon.
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