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I am a pastor and a clinical psychotherapist. My life's passion is defining healthiness from a human perspective and paralleling it to the holiness of God, divine perspective. Shifting perspectives creates a paradigm that is alongside of rather than over and against. The parakalein of God and the paradoxes of humanity are redefined. Humanity is all about winning and yet we are losing ground everywhere. Divinity is all about letting go of the desire to win and the fear of loss. The Divine embraces the world with loving care regardless of anything.

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Reaction to Eckart Tolle's A New Earth

Posted by Don Paine

I am amazed at the synergies of different but similar stories and movements. I became part of "selfleadership.org" five years ago and it teachers similarly to Eckart Tolle's work, A NEW EARTH. I delivered a paper at the 2006 International Conference for Social WOrkers in Hong Kong in which I sated that Descartes idea: "I think therefore I am" is at the heart of perpetual conflict in our world. When what I think defines who I am and what you think defines who you are then we have to fight for who we are. What if the "I am who I am and then I respect therefore the who that you are" then mutual respect and shared responsibleness can bring harmony in our internal and external worlds. In other terms: when my parts are part of the whole of me, and when the whole of me welcomes the whole of you and your parts.....harmony and balance will come. I believe more and more that what ever you want to call it: Buddha Spirit, Consciousness, Jesus, Islam higher Self, Hindu Guru...it is the light in all of us. It is being the "I am who I am" without needed to impose that on anyone else. It is the power of now now. It is being authentically "I am" without imposing or intruding on any other I am that is. It is authentic presence in the now in the past and into the future that heals all. Christianity's greatest asset is the person and authentic presence of Jesus and its greatest liability is the presentation of Jesus as the ONLY way. The way is "authentic presence in the inner and outer world in the moment which his Jesus! Lost to many churches Jesus is in every person. When Jesus declared "I am the way", his focus was not on any particular religious tenet as many churches would have us believe. Rather his way was the way of being authentically present in the now of each person's day, sacrificing the drive to be reactive to the design to be proactively compassionate toward everyone and everything, and to live in peace internally and relationally regardless of the external threats. Jesus is not the way as any church defines Him. The way is Jesus as He lives so we should live also. I am a member of the United Church of Christ and a pastor and psychotherapist. The shift in awareness described above is the shift that Eckart is talking about. It is a shift from over and against any parts in me or you to a calm, compassionate, courageous embrace of all people as who they are regardless of anything. This parallels the Dalai Lama's "Unbiased Compassion" It is what everyone has and everyone in the world needs. Let's let the self of compassion and calm rise up and settle down in all of us to the glory of God and the good of humanity. Dr. Donald L Paine, www/parakalein.org

The Betrayal of the betrayer

Posted by Don Paine

Betrayal grips my soul and threatens the very life out of me. Maybe this is the nature of betrayal. When we feel betrayed we become the betrayer. We betray ourselves because we see the hatred of the betrayal. We think we need a release. Anything that provides comfort in this place of betrayal we grab on to it, holding it for dear life. Then it betrays our living, our hoping our loving.

Betrayal is cruel because it is perennial. Like death it is everywhere.

Death betrays life. It betrays the “living, loving Spirit” in all of us. We speak of death as being God’s will and I scream a deep scream from the pit of my being.

Death is not God’s will. It never has been God’s will.

The betrayal began with the idea that the God of creation was not for love and peace but for power and control. The enemy of betrayal suggested that God had a protective part that did not want us to know as God knows, love as God loves, live free as God is free. Our thoughts betrayed us because we felt betrayed which resulted in betrayal.

We are the betrayer and the betrayed. There is no innocence.

I have felt betrayed and I have betrayed the love and life that I hold so dear. Life is not as important as honor and integrity. What we believe effects our living and our living infects what we believe.

When death came to my brother it cut into all of our hearts. Some have spoken of it as God’s will. While screaming in pain of grief and loss, they embrace a God that embraces them with comfort. This is to their credit and faith.

I see that moment as betrayal. Death betrayed the love and life my brother had lived. When the “angel of death” came to him, I do not think he said okay let’s go without also saying my heart is breaking for my wife, my children my grandchildren. Then my brother, full of grace, said I trust you to be “with” my family. Entrusting them to God’s loving care and living peace.

Betrayal blinds me. Faith that sees beyond the moment and sees everyone in the loving and peaceful way that God sees us sets us free from all burdens of beliefs and betrayals. Some beliefs perpetuate betrayal. Others set us free of the burden of betrayal.

We think it is about who is right or honorable so we set ourselves to judge others and ourselves with a hammer of judgment. We think it is about “truth” some particular truth about this or that. We betray our loving and living.

The inner self as God has given it to all of us looks at the betrayal of the part and has deep understanding and compassion for why the part behaved in this way. There is no judgment or condemnation. There is also no approval or condoning. There is just the abiding presence of love and peace. There, there is healing and life forevermore.

The Essence of God is......

Posted by Don Paine

What an incredible idea.....can we state anything that would come close to capturing the essence of who God is.

John did in the first chapter of his Gospel. "We beheld the Glory of God full of grace and truth".

The essence of God for John was that in Jesus we could see and experience "Truth and Grace" in a balance of peace and love. The church is challenged in Ephesians to parallel this in the relational experience in the church. The directive is "speak the truth in love (with grace)".

Why then do we in our churches spend so much time teaching dogma and doctrine. I have preached sermons that were on the distinctives of what I believe but today I am growing to believe that what I believe about who God is theologically is not as important as how I let the person of God live in me. It is therefore not about theological or ecclesiastical truth as if the church or group with the right theology or polity will get a "well done thou faithful servant" when they enter heaven. In reality it is not what we believe that matters but how we live in truth and grace. The truth here is living in honesty and openness toward others and oneself. It is not telling people what is true. It is the discipline of inviting people to be honest with you without judgment and having the courage to be honest with them without attempting to control them. This is how Jesus lived.

Grace is then not just un-merited favor. It is also giving people the opportunity and privilege to be respected even if I disagree with them. Grace is responding to the situation or person regardless of what they say or do with the choice of grace. This grace opens the door wide to communion and community.

I spoke with someone toady that attends a churched that has "Grace" in its name while the polity of the church is to police people's behavior and choices while presenting a great image the focus of the church is to control people. In the name of service, self is promoted. We are right and we teach truth and grace is anything but the essence of the church.

The church often presents its truth in dogma and doctrine not in life and witness. The history of the church reflects more of a desire to control and resist control. Wars, mutilations, prejudice, violence, disharmony have been engaged in to prove truth. Speaking truth to power begs the question of who knows truth? and what is true power.

Jesus presented truth and grace in how he lived, loved and died.

Jesus, when he allowed humanity to kill him for no reason except that they wanted to show their power, was full of grace and truth toward the world.

Imagine in your world when you heard someone say something stupid (in your opinion) or did something stupid (in your opinion), you responded to them with grace. They would not feel judged or condemned but genuinely loved and cared for. Imagine a world where people in churches, synagogues, mosques or temples did not present their truth over an against each other in an effort to prove who is right, to speak their truth over falsehood. Imagine in that world that those same people chose to pour grace into each others lives, to live grace over truth telling.

Imagine all religious groups being so full of deep honest truthfulness with themselves about themselves that they could not allow the pride of being right (even if they think they are) win over the humility of being wrong even if you are right. Being right in your heart toward someone when they are wrong in their heart toward you is the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God is not about being right as the way of truth, it is about being right in your heart as the way of grace. The righteousness of God is not about being gracious and letting people disrespect you, it is about being gracious in respect to everyone even if they disrespect you.

John said as he opened the Gospel, if I let myself think of all that I experienced as I walked with, talked with, lived with, cried with Jesus, I think of two words that sum up the difference that makes a difference in the world. Those two words are "Truth and Grace" and Jesus was full of both of them.

When some one says: "you are full of it"! Imagine if the "it" was "Grace" and that was Truth!

Be truthful about yourself and you will be trusted.

Be graceful toward yourself and others and you will be known as one who walks with God and one with whom God walks.

Some walk the talk of being Christians.
Some talk the walk of being Christians.

Others walk in truth and talk with grace which is the essence of God in you. Full of grace and truth we live in love and peace with all humankind.

Karin's dream and ours

Posted by Don Paine

It is Sunday morning. I am sitting in church listening to my 32 year old daughter Karin Lim. She is wise beyond her years as she brings tears of joy to my eyes.

She invited everyone to consider a dream for their life. I thought of my dream being fulfilled before my eyes. Old men shall see visions and young women dream dreams. The dream of her coming to know and walking with the God who loved her so, was fulfilled as she talked of feeling called of God to return the love she received to the homeland that gave her life. She is talking about how her life dream was to return to the orphanage in which she and her brother spent several months prior to their mother and I adopting them from Seoul, Korea. Life given from one hemisphere, love nurtured in another hemisphere, both come together in her. A proud father humbly thanks God, the adopted Father of us all, for this sacred moment in time.

She speaks of three categories of people to whom she feels called: the strangers (Koreans come bake to Korea with the cultures of their birth apparent on their faces but different cultures in their heart), the outcasts (the mother’s who are unable to care for their children), and the orphans (the children abandoned to an orphanage only to learn of the God who loves and nurtures them through others). Then there is the song, which we heard called “Orphans of God” that has the very same line in it that summarizes my daughter’s heart. Her heart delivered on a platter. Her head surrendered to her heart. Her food is to do the will of the God who loves her. She nurtures three souls at once: hers, mine, and the people, to whom God leads her.

She challenges everyone to find their dream, then find the courage to pursue that dream.

I recall my dream and her adoptive mother’s dream: to pour our love and the love of Christ into these two lives born to another in another country. Nurtured by us in this country to be and fulfill God’s calling on their lives. Orphaned by a mother but not orphaned by God for God loves all, and pours love into all the children of earth. Regardless of the rejection experienced by people, love warms the heart from within where God dwells. All children are welcome into the lap of God’s love. All who love God create a lap into which the unloved of earth can come and be accepted, approved, and adopted.

Karin has a lap of love created in her to gift to the world from which she came. She uses the gift of faith, hope and love blended with her gift of appreciation and art to help these children to discover their dream of love and acceptance is fulfilled in the love that they give and receive and give again.

A proud father in heaven, is joined by, a proud father on earth.

To God be the glory!

Way of Jesus

Posted by Don Paine

As I sat in church today, I heard the theme as "Jesus loves you". Simple and profound. Complex yet compelling. Mark 5 was the text. (Matthew 8 and Luke 8 are parallel texts) I noticed that in each in counter of Jesus with the seas or wind, with the fear or faith, with the dead or living the theme was the same. The way Jesus was in each case was calm and compassionate.

The disciples were focused on the storm and the waves. Fear of the external shook their internal peace and trust. The audacity of their cry, "Jesus do you not care that we perish" was eclipsed by the audacity of Jesus calm response. "peace be still". Was he talking to the wind or the disciples. To both I am sure. The wind and the waves witnessed his calmness and became calm. The disciples witnessed the "power of inner calmness and care and became afraid. Jesus looked at them with compassion not judgment. I imagine that Jesus would have smiled and said watch and learn. Next time when you see me asleep, trust my presence. I am in your boat. There is nothing to fear except fears furor. Instead of saying "wake up" say to yourself, let's take a knap. No evil will be fall us as long as Jesus is with us.

The way of Jesus is not a theological or dogmatic way. The way of Jesus is a way of being that welcomes everyone and everything into the realm of eternal loving. Competitive desires are not eternal. Competition is of the external world. Calmness is the character of eternal things. Jesus met every competitive challenge with compassion and calmness.

The way of Jesus is even more powerfully illustrated in the next event. Jesus is confronted with a man possessed by evil demons. They shout to him, do not torment us.....I can see Jesus again with a smile of reassuring love and compassion on his face. The "Legion" of demons ask the God of the universe to send them to the swine. Jesus response was not a negative judgment but a calm compassion, "sure go ahead". Evil was not confronted as if God was competing good against evil. Evil was met with compassion and care. The swine headed for the lake where the evil was drowned or dissolved and the life force renewed in the living water that always springs up into everlasting life.

Jesus as anyone or any group might define or market him is not the way. The way of Jesus is the way of love and peace. Love and peace do not triumph over evil as if they are at war. They dissolve the need to compete that is in the world. The dissolve into the transformative sea of glass that calm and redemptive.

Narrow Path

Posted by Don Paine

I was out for a morning jog winding through the cascading countryside, enjoying the freedom of movement and the breath of life. I came upon a split in the path ahead of me was a wide path that looked safe and was obviously frequently traveled. Next to it was a narrow path all overgrown, somewhat uncharted and obviously less traveled. As I considered which path to take, I reasoned that the one path was safe and though not easy well traveled. The other was scary. It looked like no one had dared taken this path. Reason tipped me toward taking that path. Emotions too. Something inside of me led me to take the narrow path. I knew it was the path of courage and faith. The other path was the way of comfort and ease. Intuition and trust in self had tipped me in a different direction

I was traveling along slower but freer, courageous not fearful, careful but calm.
“Narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it. Wide is the path that leads to destruction and many there be that follow it.”

For years of living I have believed that the way to God and the way to know God is to choose the narrow way of eternal life rather than the wide way of living for today, going for all the gusto! I not so suddenly but very deliberately have shifted in my belief. The narrow way is externally defined as a particular way of a particular belief. The way of Jesus is a narrow way. It is not the way of any particular theology or church doctrine. That would be an external belief brought inside. I sued to think that way much like a child believes what he is told. I put away that child. I realized another child found his own inner path free of outer direction. It was not that the narrow way was a particular truth that was universally true in a religious sense. It was a universal truth from the internal universe. The narrow truth was to care for the internal would which is all that is eternal. The wide way that leads to destruction is focusing on the external world with all that it has to offer. This includes physical, emotional, social and even religious truths or ways. The wide way was he way of self-indulgence, self-inflation, and self-absorption. It was a way of living in the external world for the external benefits of that world. The narrow way is the way of caring for the internal world. It is living form the inside out rather than from the outside in.

The narrow path leads to widening my horizons and broadening my living. It is the path that leads to life.

In all honesty I did not choose the narrow path in the physical reality of my jogging, The narrow path looked to uncharted and scary. However it did provoke the thoughts and realities of inner life and internal choices. When given the opportunity to sit it out or go the way of most people, I try to choose the narrow way. This is the way of spiritual realities that are of the inner, internal and eternal world. The way of the external world and all its choices leads to the destruction of the wisdom of the inner world. Choosing to be honest internally and with you is the narrow way.

The narrow way is the way of true honesty within oneself, toward others and toward oneself. It is the way of calmness, compassion, courage and creativity.

Exploring the one true God

Posted by Don Paine

I meet Suneet from India at a recent conference.  It was so cool to dialogue with open non-judgmental presence and to offer the same to him.

I arrived back at the room into which we had been thrust as room mates at LMU in LA.  He was beginning his devotions as a Hindu using Indian Music, Yoga and meditation.  I had just been for a run during which time I had meditated on the mystery of God's majesty.

I totally respected his sacred space.  He interrupted his focus for a brief dialogue then he returned to his meditation and I to my shower.  We were both cleaning different parts of our selves.

We later discovered so many similarities of heart, soul, mind and spirit.  I attended his workshop and learned that the Indian/HIndu idea of God was not in conflict with the Christian idea of God.  The essence of God is love and peace, hesed and shalom, agape and erainea.

He explained that a guru is not a person but an inner reality of God's peaceful and loving presence.  I explained that in the Internal Family System's model of therapy and life and in the Christian model of living, "The SELF" is an inner reality of God's calm, creative, courageous and compassionate presence.

When there is mutual respect between two people regardless of their theological or psychological or ethnic systems there is love and peace.