Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 Simple Ways to Raise Your Level of Conscious Awareness

What does it mean to become more conscious?  It is the progressive realization of conscious mastery over your mind.
The challenge is that it takes consciousness to grow consciousness.  But you needn’t worry about this because you already have the seed.  Think of it like fire.  You have a flame, and you want to turn that flame into a huge blaze.  How do you do it?  You add fuel.  The following list includes examples of how you can add fuel to your flame of consciousness to become a raging inferno of consciousness. 
1. Truth
Truth raises your consciousness.  Falsehood lowers it.
First, accept the truth.  Whatever you’re afraid to know lowers your consciousness.  Step on the scale to see how much you weigh. Take a deep look at your career.  In every case accept the outcome.  Don’t just acknowledge the current status and dismiss it.  Really accept it as the truth.  Think about what it means for this to be true.  Also accept your feelings about the truth, whether you like them or not.
Secondly, speak the truth.  If honesty is a challenge for you, it’s because you aren’t being honest enough with yourself.  Lies you tell others are shadowed by lies you tell yourself.  Take note of those areas where you feel incapable of genuine honesty, and dig deep enough to find out why.  You’ll find that you uncover a part of yourself you’ve been unwilling to accept.  You don’t lie about the parts of yourself you accept 100%.
The more you’re able to accept and speak the truth, the more conscious you become.  Raise your consciousness by uncovering and dumping all traces of falsehood from your life.  Allow this to be a gradual process.  As your consciousness increases, genuine honesty will come more easily to you.
Yes, there may be consequences when you switch from lies and half-truths to the full truth, but highly conscious people know that crossing that bridge is well worth the effect.  A short-term adjustment is nothing compared to the joys of living honestly and openly.  It’s so much easier and less stressful to be yourself and allow others to do the same.  Not everyone will appreciate the real you, especially if they’ve grown accustomed to a false version, but that won’t matter once you accept and appreciate yourself.
2. Courage
Courage raises your consciousness.  Cowardice lowers it.
Courage is the gatekeeper between unconscious growth and conscious growth.  As long as you remain on the unconscious side, life will keep throwing problems at you until you step up and take charge.  When you face your fear, the fear vanishes, and problems transform into opportunities.  But when you run from your problems, your fear only grows.
A powerful guiding principle to adopt is, “Whatever I fear, I must face.”  The more fears you face down, the more conscious you become.  As you master this lesson, eventually courage becomes less necessary.  Once you develop the courage to face any fear life throws at you, you stop attracting so many fear-based experiences into your life.  This is why courage is the dividing line between unconscious growth and conscious growth.  The mastery of courage gives you the power to decide how you’ll grow instead of being a victim of the whims of fate.
3. Compassion
Compassion raises your consciousness.  Cruelty lowers it.
A great way to become more conscious is to search for signs of unconscious cruelty and disconnection in your life.  This can be very difficult to do since it also requires courage.  We naturally resist facing our own cruelty, but it’s there just waiting to be uncovered.
Compassion is the root of unconditional love, a feeling of connectedness with everything that exists.  Do you feel connected to yourself?  To others?  To animals?  To all living things?  To everything that exists?  The more you develop this connection, the more conscious and aware you become.
4. Desire
Desire raises your consciousness.  Apathy lowers it.
When you get clear about what you want, such as by setting a goal, you raise your consciousness.  Clarity focuses your mind and gives you the power to think and act intelligently.  You can feel this effect whenever you think about something you definitely want.
On the other hand, when your desire is unclear, your consciousness is muddled.  Your thoughts lack focus and direction, and you merely spin your wheels.
Strive to become more clear about what you truly desire most, and your consciousness will expand. 
5. Attention
Attention raises your consciousness.  Distraction lowers it.
Improving your ability to concentrate will make you more conscious.  Pick up a rock and give it your full and complete attention, and notice what happens.
But allow your mind to be riddled with distractions, and your consciousness will sink.  A distracted mind is a powerless mind.
Meditation is a great way to practice attention and concentration.  Sit quietly, breathe deeply, and focus your mind as you do your best to tune out distracting thoughts.  This is simple to learn, but it can take a lifetime to master.
6. Knowledge
Knowledge raises your consciousness.  Ignorance lowers it.
First and foremost, know thyself.  Think deeply about your life, and keep a journal to record your thoughts.  Ask questions to which you don’t know the answer, and then search for those answers.
Look around you as well, and soak up knowledge like a sponge.  Interact with your environment with a sense of curiosity and wonder.  Study it.  Learn from it.  Experiment with it.
Strive to understand reality, including your role in it, as accurately as possible.  The more accurate your beliefs about reality are, the more conscious you become.
7. Reason
Reason raises your consciousness.  Irrationality lowers it.
Logic is a powerful tool of consciousness when used correctly.  It lends structure and substance to thought.
However, the great challenge of logic is the avoidance of false assumptions.  A single false assumption can throw off a lifetime of otherwise logical conclusions.  So challenge all of your beliefs, and never have too much certainty about those that rest on clouds.
8. Conscious people
Conscious people raise your consciousness.  Unconscious people lower it.
Seek out others you perceive to be at a higher level of consciousness than you are.  Talk to them, ask questions, and enjoy their presence.  Allow their ideas and awareness to infect you, and you’ll find yourself expanding in all directions.  You’ll become more honest, more courageous, more compassionate, and so on.
But spend time with people at a lower level of consciousness, and you’ll gradually sink to their level.  Their thoughts will infect you as well, causing you to become more dishonest, more fearful, more apathetic, etc.
Strive to find a balance between spending time with those who raise your consciousness vs. spending time with those you can help.  Learn from those who are a little more conscious, and help those who are a little less conscious than you.  In this manner you serve the highest good of all, expanding consciousness everywhere.
9. Energy
Energy raises your consciousness.  Disease lowers it.
Take care of your physical body, for it is your primary means of interacting with the world.  Energy gives you an ongoing flow of vital life experiences.  But without energy you starve your consciousness.
Eat with an awareness of what you’re consuming.  Exercise with an awareness of how you’re affecting your body and mind.  Before putting anything in your body, consider its effect on your energy, not just in the short term but in the long term as well.  Always ask yourself, “Will this produce energy or disease?”
10. Intention
The intention to raise your consciousness raises it.  The intention to lower your consciousness lowers it.
Consciousness has the capacity to self-expand or self-contract, just as you have the capacity to grow or to commit suicide.  In any given moment, you have the freedom of choice.
By genuinely voicing the intention, “I intend to become more conscious and aware,” you will initiate the expansion of your consciousness.  Holding the intention to improve in any of the previous nine areas will yield a similar effect.
Alternatively, you are perfectly free to lower your consciousness at any time.  While it’s unlikely you would choose to do so directly, you can achieve the same effect indirectly by lowering your performance in any of the previous nine areas.  By choosing to lie, to succumb to fear, to commit acts of cruelty, to remain ignorant, and so on, you put out the intention to lower your consciousness.  And in so doing, you initiate a process that will attract more falsehood, fear, cruelty, ignorance, etc. into your life.
Every thought you hold serves to either expand or contract your consciousness.  There is no neutral.  So choose wisely.  

Are You Spiritually Intelligent?

What exactly is entailed by the term spirituality?  At the most basic level, it obviously implies a connection to spirit, but what specifically does that mean?  Can it be measured?  
These are all questions that Dr. Robert Emmons seeks to answer with his theory of Spiritual Intelligence.  A concept such as this may seem controversial to some — an attempt to scientifically dissect and categorize the spiritual phenomenon/experience by scientists and researchers.  Some may even claim that spirituality cannot be measured or defined, but simply is.  However, in my view, it would seem that the development of these scientific concepts of spiritual phenomenon may actually help many to become more spiritual themselves.  In my experience, many people find spirituality to be mysterious and vague and so have a difficult time relating to it in a world where the unknown is perceived to be dangerous or threatening to some degree.  Would a more scientific approach to the study of spirituality make it more accessible to the masses?
 I believe it would, and in my estimation, this can only be a good thing.  In many circles, all things spiritual are seen to be the antithesis to the current dominant scientific paradigm.  This is not a constructive viewpoint.  Our society direly needs a bridging of these two worlds in order to reach a deeper understanding, catharsis and self awareness.  Anything that can help facilitate this, is, in my eyes, worthwhile. 

What’s the Deal With Spiritual Intelligence?

Spirituality is an abstract topic that is not easy to define, and it is not typically considered a focal point of science.
Despite this, it’s a meaningful and common part of many peoples’ lives, and the benefits and mental processes of spirituality deserve more attention.
Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has been well established for many years, and has helped evolve the traditional view of what it means to be intelligent.
It was instrumental in helping people recognize the importance of interpersonal and emotional intelligences, and that we are cognitively much more complex than mere IQ.
The many different capacities for intelligence from Gardner’s theory include:
  • Spatial
  • Linguistic
  • Logical-mathematical
  • Bodily-kinesthetic
  • Musical
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
  • Naturalistic
Outside of these domains there may be another form of intelligence that is not usually included in this list, and it is one of particular importance for current cultural and ecological concerns.
It is the concept of spiritual intelligence (SQ), or existential intelligence.
What is spiritual intelligence? 
Spiritual Intelligence is still a tentative concept, as a universal definition of what spirituality really means is lacking. Though there are developing discussions in psychology and philosophy about how spirituality can be a guiding source in making decisions, interacting with others, and how we view the world around us.
There are working parameters presented by Robert Emmons for what constitutes SQ, which includes 4 components.
  • The capacity for transcendence.
  • The ability to enter into heightened spiritual states of consciousness.
  • The ability to invest everyday activities, events, and relationships with a sense of the sacred or divine.
  • The ability to utilize spiritual resources to solve problems in living.
There are some intellectual and emotional capacities required to integrate spirituality into everyday life, and to utilize it for problem solving and goal attainment.
Why is spiritual intelligence important?
Spiritual intelligence may lend itself to peoples’ motivation for fulfilling their human potential and improving the future through changing the status quo of behaviors dominated by power, oppression, and over consumption.
The world is facing growing concerns related to overpopulation, food and water shortages, sustainable energy, climate change, and environmental degradation. How people respond and deal with these pressures is of increasing importance for future generations.
It may require a transformation in the way that people perceive their role and position in relationship to the world around them. Specifically, making a shift from one of egocentrism to one of collective well-being for all of life, which includes families, communities, humanity and the planet. This could come from taking a more spiritually orientated viewpoint and worldview, one where people seek self-transcendence and find a more actualized and altruistic relationship to self, others, and the planet.
This is a serious shift that is not necessarily natural for many people, including myself, as people struggle to look beyond personal interests and their own survival.
However, by cultivating a spiritual framework this conscious transformation is more likely. Those who are more spiritually connected may have an easier time taking the perspective that we are all accountable for the well-being of life as a whole.
A spiritual inclination offers a deeper connection to life as a whole and how we are all “one” in a metaphysical sense. This understanding or the capability to interpret the world around us in this way could be a catalyst for more virtuous and principled behavior.
What do you think? Is spiritual intelligence a legitimate topic of inquiry? Is so, what areas of life can it offer improvements and value? !
Collins, M. (2010). Spiritual Intelligence: Evolving Transpersonal Potential Toward Ecological Actualization for a Sustainable Future.World Futures, 66, 320-334.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Are Catholics more liberal than Protestants?

A data analysis of research conducted over the last 40 years shows that Catholics in America are more progressive and socially liberal than Protestants.
“American Catholics consistently have shown themselves to be more tolerant of divorce, gay rights, and unmarried cohabitation than have American Protestants and Americans overall, especially in recent years,” said Carl Bialik of FiveThirtyEight, who conducted the analysis.
He found that countries with a Catholic majority generally have a higher percentage of residents tolerant of same sex relationships and divorce. “The effect isn’t huge,” Bialik said, “but it’s consistent.”
Bialiak drew his conclusions from the General Social Survey, which has been conducted by the NORC research organization at the University of Chicago since the early 1970s.
In summary, his analysis found that more American Catholics believe divorce should be an easier process, and that “gays and lesbians should be given the opportunity to speak publicly, teach, and have books they wrote available in libraries” (this survey question was written in 1973). Also, each of the four times the GSS asked about couples ‘living in sin,’ more Catholics than Protestants found it acceptable.
Roman Catholic bishops released a draft document last week calling for the church to welcome unmarried and divorced couples and the gay community, though a change of heart was apparent in a later version of the document. The tone of acceptance had disappeared.

11 Awesome People You Totally Didn’t Know Were Catholic

1. Scarface
Al Capone was a bad dude. But his Catholic upbringing gave him a healthy dose of Catholic guilt. He never went to Mass (probably would have done him some good), but he donated huge sums of money to the Catholic Church, founded soup kitchens, distributed clothing to the poor, and helped those who couldn’t pay their own hospital bills.
It doesn’t quite make up for the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre….but it’s a start. His tombstone reads, “My Jesus Mercy.”

2. The War Hero
Emil Kapaun grew up in Kansas, became a war hero, and earned a Bronze Star and the Medal of Honor. He was also a Catholic priest. But, Father Kapaun did more than his military chaplain duties required. In battle, he risked his life to carry wounded and dying men to safety. During his 6 months as a prisoner of war in North Korea, he often gave away his meals to other soldiers, stole drugs to help the sick and dying, and provided spiritual and psychological support to the tortured. The young heroic priest died soon after.

3. Houston, We Have A Problem
Gene Kranz. Yes, the calm, cool, and collected Flight Director of Apollo 13 (played by Ed Harris in the film) who helped bring home three astronauts after an explosion stranded them in space. Their safe return is attributed in part to Gene Kranz’s code of professional excellence, which had been adopted at NASA. He based it on his Catholic faith and the virtues he learned about in Catholic schools. Those Catholic sisters had no idea their rules (and rulers) would do..…astronomical..…good!

4. The Babe
Babe Ruth’s Catholic upbringing never left him. He was a trouble-maker in school, but the Catholic Brother who served as the school’s disciplinarian encouraged him to play baseball. Although he led a wild life, he always donated to the Church and attended Mass. As he struggled with his final illness, he commented that despite his sins, Catholicism was at his very core. He died as a faithful Catholic.

5. The Rock of Green Bay
Luckily for the Packers, Vince Lombardi realized that he was not called to the priesthood, left the seminary, and became a football legend. But this didn’t stop him from being an incredible Catholic. He moved to Green Bay because of the strong Catholic community there and, even as an NFL coach, attended daily Mass and assisted as an altar server. God was first, football came after.

6. The Wild West
Buffalo Bill was a rockstar of his time. He travelled the country with his Wild West shows and became a sharp-shooting celebrity. He had it all. As he lay dying, he confessed that something was missing in his life. He called for a priest because he wanted to die as a Catholic. He converted and died a day later.

7. A Cartoon Legend
Who discovered Joseph Barbera’s talent for drawing? The Catholic sisters at his grade school, of course! Through their encouragement, he became the cartoonist who created some of America’s most memorable characters: Scooby Doo, the Jetsons, Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, The Huckleberry Hound Show, and Yogi Bear. Despite all this, his series of animated Bible stories was his proudest accomplishment.

8. Who is Roe?
You’ve heard of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the U.S. But you probably didn’t know that Jane Roe (Norma McCorvey) had a change of heart after the Supreme Court decision. Suddenly realizing that abortion is wrong, she has since worked tirelessly in the pro-life movement. Soon after this change, she converted to Catholicism.

9. A Closet Catholic
Andy Warhol was silent about his Catholic faith – but he was serious. He visited his parish church every day and volunteered at a soup kitchen. He kept a rosary and prayer book on his bedside table. He paid for his nephew’s seminary studies, painted over 100 versions of The Last Supper, and lived a celibate life. Like his brilliant artwork, there was more to Andy than at first met the eye.

10. The Dare-Devil
Michael Kelly was a dare-devil. Caught drinking as a teen, a priest advised him to put his boldness to good use. He became a journalist, and was just as courageous as a war correspondent as he was in standing up for his Catholic faith in writing. When the Second Gulf War broke out, he reported on the front lines as an embedded reporter and was killed in enemy fire.

11. From Hollywood to Habit

Dolores Hart was perfect for Hollywood. The beautiful actress played Elvis Presley’s love interest in the film Loving You and she continued on to star in several more films. Although her career was blooming, she felt called to enter religious life and joined the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis. She still lives there today and has published an autobiography, “The Ear of the Heart.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

Praise be! 85-year-old defies death threats from Satanists to spend 22 years returning 1,000-year-old derelict church to its former glory

Now, it's a flourishing church thanks to one remarkable man.

Bob Davey, 85, has forked out thousands of pounds of his own cash and even fought off Satanic worshippers in his bid to restore the ninth century Anglo-Saxon church in Swaffham, Norfolk.

In doing so, he uncovered rare and valuable historical wall paintings that he says have international status.

Bob is now a warden at St Mary's Church, which welcomes visitors from across the world and has even received Prince Charles and Princess Margaret.

The building was discovered by Bob's late wife Gloria one morning in June 1992 while she was on a ramble with friends.

Hidden in woodland at the top of a small hill, stood a tower shrouded in dark ivy.

Gloria managed to force her way in, through piles of rubbish, and found a disturbing scene.

Soon realising it was an old church, Gloria found it laid out as a Satanic temple with a pagan alter and anti-Christian symbols.

"This annoyed me intensely," Bob recalled.

"I've been a Christian all my life and wasn't putting up with this on my patch.

"That very afternoon, I cleared all their rubbish out and burnt what I could."

According to Bob, the church had no roof, floor, or windows, while trees threatened the structure.

The main door and a number of stones from the walls had also been stolen.

 The church in its overgrown state in 1992 [F STOP PRESS]

If you want to retire and want something to take on, take on a ruined church. You will never look back
Bob Davey
"It was still consecrated so I was able to start services again straight away - even without the roof on," said Bob.

But he was forced to guard the building at night from black-clad Satan-worshippers who were still trying to use it.

Bob claims the devil-worshippers tried to run him down with a car and on another occasion came to his house and threatened him with his life if he carried on his work.

Help came from the Territorial Army who sent soldiers to stand guard with Bob.

With no prior knowledge of restoration, Bob began his formidable task by cutting the roots on the thick ivy covering the building before removing it.

As he was repairing a crack in the wall, he made another astonishing discovery.

If you want to retire and want something to take on, take on a ruined church. You will never look back

Behind the plaster, were some wall paintings dating back to the Norman Conquest or even earlier.

"The paintings are unique and very valuable," said Bob.

"Only experts can continue to uncover the paintings.

"We've probably only revealed a third of what's there."

As a result, English Heritage granted the building a grade one listed status.

Among the sacrifices Bob has made, is the sale of his small antiques business to fund the restoration.

He has also received Heritage Lottery Funding and thousands of pounds in donations from visitors who travel from around the world to visit the church.

Now supported in his efforts by a team of volunteers, Bob says an estimated £300,000 has been spent on the project, including several thousand pounds of his own cash.

Bob, who received an MBE from the Queen for his efforts in 2005, is currently raising money for the next round of restoration, which he said needs £50,000.

He said: "It was a roofless ruin in a dreadful state that was about to be pulled down.

"Now, it's a working church again and an attractive visitors' site.

"It's a co-incidence that brought me here, but I've taken it on and made something of it.

"It's been well worth it."

Bob added: "If you want to retire and want something to take on, take on a ruined church. You will never look back."

Last used regularly in the 1930s, St Mary's church had been forgotten about after buildings in the village it stood were abandoned and demolished.

But it remained a consecrated building and could not be torn down.

5 Things to Know about Pope Paul VI

Pope Francis beatified Pope Paul VI on Sunday at the end of a remarkable meeting of Catholic bishops discussing family life, marriage, divorce, sex and gay unions. Paul VI oversaw the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 world-wide church meetings which brought the Catholic Church into modern times. The parallels between Francis and Paul, and the divisive issues both men confronted, are significant. Here are 5 Things to Know about Paul VI. 
Paul VI was born Giovanni Battista Montini near Brescia in northern Italy on Sept. 26, 1897. After joining the Vatican's secretariat of state in 1922, he became one of Pope Pius XII's closest collaborators, instrumental in the Vatican's efforts to save Roman Jews from Nazi persecution during World War II. In 1954 he became archbishop of Milan. During the conclave of June 1963, Montini was elected to succeed the popular John XXIII and took the name Paul, seen as an indication that his papacy would be missionary and outward looking. He was the first pope to travel outside Italy, making nine trips, including the Middle East, United States, India, and the Philippines, where in 1970 he survived an assassination attempt. He died unexpectedly while at the papal summer residence near Rome on Aug. 6, 1978.
Shortly after his installation, Paul sold the tiara with which he was crowned and donated the proceeds to the poor. Also quietly but systematically, he trimmed down the pomp and circumstance of the papacy, doing away with the noble guards at the Vatican though he retained the throne that popes were carried around on. Francis has followed in his footsteps, living in the Vatican hotel rather than the papal apartments, wearing simple vestments and restricting the honorary titles of "monsignor" for prelates. During Sunday's Mass, Francis wore a simple chausible given to Paul VI for his 80th birthday and he used Paul's simple silver staff. Both men suffered from health problems: Paul VI's health was so frail he lived at home during his seminary years; Francis lost most of one lung to an infection when he was a young man.
Vatican II, the 1962-65 world-wide church meetings, opened the way for Mass to be said in local languages instead of in Latin. It also encouraged more involvement of the laity in the life of the church and revolutionized its relations with other Christian communities and Jews. "Nostra Aetate" was the transformative council document that repudiated centuries of Christian teaching that Jews bore collective guilt for Christ's death. Paul also inaugurated the synod system of consultation of the early church that Vatican II called for. Francis has reinvigorated the synod system to make it a truly freeing debate. The ideological divisions that split the council fathers during Vatican II were very much on view during Francis' first synod that just ended.
Paul disappointed many Catholics who were hoping for liberalization of church teaching on sexuality as a result of Vatican II. Paul reserved the issue to himself and commissioned experts to report back, and the majority favored an opening in the church's position on artificial birth control. But after much personal anguish and prayer, Paul enshrined the church's opposition to artificial contraception in the 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae" ("Of Human Life"), which remains its teaching to this day. In his final testament, he dedicated his pontificate to the "protection of the faith and the defense of human life."
One of the greatest pains of Paul's life was the kidnapping and killing of his life-long friend and former Italian premier, Aldo Moro, in the spring of 1978 by the Red Brigades terrorist group. Paul penned a heart-felt letter to the kidnappers, "on my knees" begging them to release his friend "without condition." His bullet-ridden body was eventually found in the back of a car in downtown Rome. The Moro family, upset at the plea for an unconditional release, refused to attend the state funeral in Rome's St. John Lateran basilica, which Paul presided over.