The Power of Money

The Four (or seven) M’s

A few years ago I planned to write about the many Spiritual Belief Systems that have come and gone and made a list of the pathway taken by every religion that I knew of, no matter where, or when.

My list was:

  • 1. The Man (Woman)  
  • 2. The Message
  • 3. The Movement
  • 4. The Monument 

At the same time I was getting an eye examination by Dr. Bruce J. Parsons, at his Murray Vision Center.  Our conversation, as usual roved hither and yon, and with the Four Steps freshly on my mind, I casually brought them up.  Parsons listened, went on with his work, but within a moment laughed and told me I’d left out a quite vital “M”, namely Money, and the changes it brings with it.

It took little thought to realize how right he was, and in that moment, my Fourth Step became Money; and the gulf from the original pure, simple Message grew wider.

I had kept my list to Spiritual Systems only, but the good Doc noted that those same Steps ring true whether it’s a new Nation, Business, Politics,  Fraternal Club, Social group, or whatever.

The kind of group, he added, matters not, but the larger the group, the more money is involved; more money brings more rules and soon more rigid rules.

For some reason, I forgot my ideas of the Four M’s and they remained tucked away in my computer, but then, not too long ago, I was  watching TV where people were speaking of the coming Olympics and a former Gold Medalist was asked if the Games had changed much since he had participated almost a half-century before.

His answer, voice and entire demeanor changed so abruptly that I quickly was all attention.  “There’s no comparison,” he stated.  “Then the Games were a gathering of the world’s best athletes, competing, yes, but joyously reaching out to each other and we experienced that same bonding those ancient Greeks spoke about.  

“Today the Games are Big Business and all attempts to make them seem like the ancient Games is just a veneer for Advertising and Public Relations.  Pure hype and nothing else.

“It was ‘back then’ that Corporations realized what a money-making opportunity was right in front of them, and suddenly Big Business went to the Olympics hand-in-glove with the athletes and their equipment.

“Today, almost every competing Athlete is an ’employee’ under contract, has a manager, their careers planned and controlled by Experts.  No matter what their plans might once have  been, now their every move must be okayed by Management, and what Management says, is what they do.  Any deal with ‘buying and selling’ the athletes name, etc. goes through that office before the Athlete even hears about it.  

He continued, “A young man won a Gold Medal at the last Games, was overjoyed and told me that within a few short hours he had been offered many millions of dollars for his endorsement, and then as he waited for my congratulations, he grinned and laughingly asked how that compared to what I had earned.

“His eyes sparkled with Dollar Signs and it was evident his Gold Medal was great, but it had really been just the necessary stepping stone to reach those Dollars. Right then I knew that The Olympics were now “Olympics Incorporated.”

The MC then asked, “Do you think it will ever change back?”  The Veteran Gold Medal winner shrugged, “Nothing’s impossible, but it’s unlikely.  Oh, there’s constant complaining, but it’s hard to fight such huge amounts of money.”  He shook his head and went no further.

I shivered as they spoke because I knew I was hearing words that I had pondered over a few years back.  My thoughts had entirely about Belief Systems, not athletes, but I began considering, how, over and over again,  the misuse of Money’s Power has caused many beautiful Messages or Organizations, to become sterile Monuments.  Memories.

So, unearthing my original notes and with a more open mind and a few wise words  from Dr. Parsons, I made changes to my list, and now it is:

  • 1. The Man (Woman)
  • 2. The Message
  • 3. The Movement
  • 4. The Money and how it’s used
  • 5. The Monument
  • 6. The Museum Piece
  • 7. The Memory

There have been many in the Spiritual realm who have rebelled, some more successfully than others, but to name a few, there are Martin Luther, Mary Baker Eddy, John Wesley, and Joseph Smith.

Not a one of these brave men/women had any reason to speak out until the original Message had been changed, sold, or otherwise twisted so far from its beginnings that a new voice was welcomed, and a surge to get back to the original Message began anew.  We should rejoice that Burning at the Stake had long been illegal.

People have left homes, families and countries to seek, and find again, that First Message, a purity that became lost when Money, used in a greedy manner, entered the arena.  Check it out for yourself.

It ‘s not easy, because money seems necessary for any organization, but unless kept under a tight leash, it can undermine and eventually destroy the very organization it was meant to sustain.

Just For Today

But Keep In Mind, It’s a Secret

At one time I was a member of a weekly Therapy Class, and on the first meeting we were given a copy of “Just For Today” (see below).  Its words were to be part of our ‘work’, and  beginning the next day we were to take Number One, and for that day, live what it asked us to do. The next day move to No. 2,  and go on day by day, until we reached the last one, and then go back and start over again.

The good doctor stressed however, the importance of not letting anyone know what we were doing. It had to be a secret, and not discussed at all, until we met the next week and then could talk back and forth all we wanted. 

It seemed so simple that I carelessly put it aside, but these years later, this is the part of those Classes that I remember most of all.  Yeah, they looked easy, but we found that doing them was ‘another story’. We also discovered that one could be easy for some, but difficult for others, and vise versa.  We all, as the weeks went by,  wondered at how those foolish rules could be so hard.

All this.  however, must be kept secret. Not a word spoken, not even if someone should comment on your ‘changed or unusual’ behavior. If you decide to try these ‘lessons’ for a day or two, remember you’ll be tempted to tell, but don’t.  Take one “Just for today” at a time, and when you get to the last one, start at the beginning again.

As you use them time after time they get more familiar; you find deeper meanings; the Rules begin to overlap and you discover that as you are ‘doing’, say, No. 6, that No. 2 is right there, with it.

1. Just for today I will be happy.  Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  For this one day, I make up my mind to be happy.

2. Just for today I will not try to tackle all of my problems, but only those relevant to this one day. I will not worry about what I must do next week, or next month or next year. Or even to-morrow.  I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep it up forever.

3. Just for today I will say ‘Thank You’ to three people who don’t expect it.  This could be a salesperson who smiles and calls you by name; a note to a long ago school teacher who helped you so much when you needed it; a smile and thanks to the cab driver. You’ll please and surprise people who don’t expect it. 

4. Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind.  I will study something new; or ask someone to talk about an intricate hobby of theirs; or read something that needs effort and concentration.

5. Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways.  I will do someone a good turn and not get found out.  If anyone knows of it, it won’t count. And I will do at least two things, at home or office that I usually dodge and leave for someone else to do. 

6. Just for today I will be agreeable.  I will look as well as I can, dress neatly, shave or put on make-up, (depending on gender), talk courteously, find fault with nothing, and try not to regulate or change anybody.  Except myself.

7. Just for today I will have a schedule.  I may not follow it exactly, but I will  have it.  And by doing so, I will save myself from all sense of hurry or of any indecision of ‘what to do’.  

8. Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all to myself.  During that half hour, perhaps in prayer or meditation,  I will relax and try to get a better perspective on what and where my life is going.

9. Just for today I will be unafraid, especially not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and good, and today I will believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give back to me.

Be surprised to see what comfort those three words can bring into your life.  No one can take pain, trouble, worry, sadness, or confusion for a life time, But, just for one day?  Yeah, that’s a different story.

Might be worth a trial and the wonderful part of the whole thing is, that as it has to be a secret, no one will know that ‘just for a day’ you are trying something different.  No one, that is, but you.

Ethel a Hermit?

Ok, ok, that’s what I say . . .

I’m a ‘hermit’, I told myself as I locked my doors, doffed my shoes, loosened my belt, turned off all phones, put my pets outside, and sank to my meditation cushion, happy in my isolation from all busy-ness of the outside world.

My every muscle relaxed.  My cushion fit the contour of my body, and I settled in for a long meditation. The day was mine and I was thankful for such bounty.

But as I reached for the Silence, a sliver of a thought entered my mind, reminding me of all the labor needed to give me ‘my’ cushion.  The hundreds who planted and cared for the cotton fields, harvested the bolls, by hand or machine, worked in mills to make the cloth and then those needed to design and make the cushion.  That still left those who worked to package and ship the cushions to stores to be sold, marketed, and finally there for me to buy.

The profusion of ideas from that one thought held me in an unyieldingly grip, and my mind continued to open and I saw that, ‘hermit’ or not, every morsel of food I eat is also the work of many hands, from tilling, planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and then to the market.  Others, certainly not a ‘hermit’ even such as I call myself, took that produce, whether grain, livestock, eggs, juice, or coffee, to process it into edible forms so that I could have my daily bread and my solitude.

I am a ‘Hermit’? I asked myself, and knew my meditation was shattered.  Though my body is isolated, I saw that the infrastructure needed to permit my eremitic life, requires many people to maintain. The Ravens which fed the Biblical hermits of centuries ago come nowhere near my door today.

I pondered over the multitude of people needed to simply activate the electrical On/Off switches throughout my home, and in my isolation, how carelessly I had accepted them. I thoughtlessly use my car with no thought of the long odyssey behind the gas and oil, as well as the roads, freeways and sidewalks I use.

My thoughts sped on and I saw how water ‘automatically’ comes to my kitchen, bath and garden with nary a thought of ‘how’, and was reminded of the many unseen hands that make it so, and also those who pick up my garbage or manage the wonderful underground systems of drainage and sewers.

Armies of non-hermits, toil in many horrible, mean, strict, and sometimes illegal places, for long hours, and low pay, to give me the freedom to choose my solitude.  What horrible price is often needed to sustain my ‘hermit’ life style, and I was suddenly confronted with the terrifying thought of, “What have I ever done to deserve such bounty?”

In a world entirely held together by Reciprocal Maintenance, I was faced with the sobering question of, “What am I doing to balance the toil and labor of others which I, so thoughtlessly, have used for support?”  And was startled to be aware of how my wayward mind had ‘taken over’ my meditation.

For even as I quelled in my shame, that sliver of thought opened again, and I knew that it wasn’t my wayward mind, but that some Hidden Power had tapped me on my shoulder to show me that no matter that we all walk different pathways, that God can be served in any pathway given us.

And, almost with a chiding smile, I was shown that the Meditation was not mine.  Mentally I have said “My meditation.  My life of solitude.  My home. My cushion.  My thoughts. My time.”  Everything said or thought, was mine, mine, mine, mine.  The smile gently showed me it was God’s meditation.  God’s life.  God’s time.  God’s cushion.  God’s relaxation.  And whether God’s time is spent in the ‘counting house’, a monastery Cell, prison cell, or loved home, matters naught, for, even as we strive to serve Him, it always was and always will be, Service to God. 

I was shown there is no difference, and then, as I sat on God’s cushion, God’s peace, and God’s meditation in God’s time, was given me, and  I knew that workers, on every or any pathway, relaxed and were blessed.  There is no difference, and I Thank God for showing me that nothing is mine.  It’s All God’s, and so am I.

Why Mothers Get Gray Hair

“Fun” with water balloons . . .

Sometimes you wonder how your kids manage to survive to become adults.  And, at the same time, how do Mothers?

It was a nice summer day, and I was peacefully hanging my laundry on the clothes line.  John was off someplace with his own adventures, and my son Bill and his friend Steve were hanging around my back yard, not old enough to be off on their own.  I thought I was keeping track of them. 

They had some balloons and were filling them with water to see how big they could get before exploding.  Such a calm summer day.  Yeah.

All of a sudden I heard the squeal of brakes out on the Street and almost at the same time, those two kids came running around the east side of my home, passed me as if I weren’t there, disappeared over the hill and then west toward Eskelsons before I could even ask what happened? 

Obviously they hadn’t been hit by a car for their short little fat legs were going as fast as they could and it almost seemed funny as I recall, for those little legs could only go 12 or so inches at the most.  They couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 years old.

I didn’t have time to even wonder what was going on, when a man followed right behind them and, Lordy, was he ever mad. I realized later than he had also been scared stiff, and could hardly wait to get his hands on those two kids.  But they were gone.  He’d have really given them a good beating if he had caught them, whether I was there or not there. 

“Where are those blank, blank kids????  Where are they????  Blank, blank %$#**&@ three foot long squash hit my windshield *)%%$#&!”   I was trying to find out what had happened, but with all the yelling, kids running and brakes screeching, Jake, my brother-in-law who lived next door up at Gram’s, heard it all and hurried down to see what was going on.

His calmness, (Jake was good that way) helped to calm the man down and Jake found out that the kids had thrown water-filled balloons at his car and one big one had hit and exploded on his windshield.  To tell the truth I can’t blame him for being scared, for at first he didn’t know what had hit him, and secondly, what could have happened as he had been blinded by the impact.  And then when he found out it had been just water, it made him angrier.  Really mad.  I couldn’t blame him either.

The kids were far from home by then, or at least hidden in some chicken coop or such.  There was no finding them, but Jake spoke calmly and made sure that the man and his car were un-damaged, gave him a chance to ‘blow off steam’, and then still calmly assured him that the kids would be punished, etc. etc.

Finally the man left, but Jake had taken his name, given him his, etc.  Lots of such stuff to give the man a chance to calm down and let him know some one was not only hearing him, but was going to take care of it all.  He left, but he was one mad man.  Going right to the police, he said.  Maybe he did, but we heard nothing more right then.

It was a couple of hours before Bill dared sneak home and Steve to his. They were two scared kids.  Jake talked to them and told them how dangerous it had been, and once Jake knew no one had been hurt, he wanted to laugh, too.  But he didn’t.

All’s well that ends well, and that day it did, but I still can see Bill’s short, kid legs churning away and over the hill faster than he ever had or ever did again.

And now, fifty plus  years later while writing these words, I asked Bill if he remembered that day, and he responded:  “I sure do remember.  I ran like hell over the hill and I hid out in Eskelson’s Mink Farm building.  Thank heavens Jake (his uncle, Fenton Crozier Bradford) was there to save the day, and cool everything off.  And later on, ‘Shine’ DeLand, the Murray Police Chief, came and chewed us out royally to let us see how dangerous it could have been if the man had lost control of his car and hit something else or another car.  Yeah, I remember it well.”

Mothers earn their gray hair, one kid at a time.


Ages old, but new as your next breath

Every one of us, know it or not, meditates, and the name we call it by matters not.  Dr. Arya was my Teacher and it proved to be so helpful at a certain time of stress, fear, and anxiety in my life, that I stayed with it and at times suggest it to others.  And they ask, “How do you do it?”

Now, there are thousands of ways, from one end of the world to the other,  and all of them, as far as I know, are  good, but here’s one method I’ve taught beginners, and have found that years later when they’re no longer beginners they still use it.

It starts with something we all do, every day. Each evening we arrive home and in do doing, we step from our job, school, recreation, or daily home chores, and in doing so, we close the door that stands between our outer world and our private, personal world.  We relax and feel the difference as we walk through our door, and it is good.

Our family shares the evening meal, then we putter in the garden, cut the lawn, whatever, but sooner or later it becomes dark and  we go inside, lock the outside doors, draw the blinds, and without any awareness, we’ve taken another step of ‘shutting out the world’ and our life becomes more personal, warm, and private.

As the evening passes, we tinker with our hobbies, raid the  frig, read, watch TV, listen to music, and it’s good, but again, we stretch, yawn and know it’s time for bed.  We casually turn Off the lights, glance around the living rooms and kitchen, to make sure that all appliances, and gadgets have been ‘put to rest’ and retire to the private rooms of our home. Without thinking our world has become smaller, more personal, and again, it is good.

There are hundreds of routines and habits people follow in this time slot.  Undressing, donning night togs, maybe bathing, or maybe that’s a morning rite, but we brush our teeth and a dozen or more moves with our bodies but eventually the bathroom lights are also Off and we are in our bedroom.  Our life, our entire ‘world’ is now enclosed by one room.

When in bed, maybe we read a page or two of a favorite book, turn to our partner for our own private moments, say words of prayer, but, again, eventually turn Off all lights, music or TV.  Fleetingly we might think of what our day has been and just as fleetingly of what our morrow will be, but this too passes, and our ‘world’ is still smaller.

And, if we pay attention, at this point, we see that all we’re really aware of is our Mind. It’s familiar territory, and our entire ‘world’ has now been reduced (enlarged?) to just You and Your Mind. We do it every night.    All else forgotten.

This is the moment, when wonderful thoughts, and oft times fleeting glimpses of faces or people come to us, and we’re filled with quiet peace. Be aware and hold that moment.  Don’t grab or it will be lost, but relax and experience that time of Oneness with true Wisdom, and give thanks.  Hold that fine line as long as you can, but eventually we drop into Sleep and . . . .  it’s morning.

And when we waken our Mind sometimes scrambles to catch that wonderful insight that was ours such a short time ago (certainly not hours ago) and sometimes it’s there for us to recall, and sometimes it’s gone. But either way, we Know that we Experienced or ‘heard’ something that was wonderfully right for us, our family and our life.

It’s so amazing that we hope to find that same place the next night, and soon it becomes a favorite place. A Meeting Place between our Teacher and Our own Self.

This routine can be done at any time or place of the day.  As the Bible says, ‘Just go to your room and close the door’.  Turn off the phone, put your pets outside, sit or lie down and close your eyes.  Then, in your mind, go through each of the above steps.  ‘See’ yourself shutting the doors, turning Off all connections to the ‘outside world’, erase all ‘outer’ thoughts from your Mind and let it be open for whatever You need.  Your Mind knows.

Meditation is ages old and is not secret. It’s just a process of shedding our outer world like layers of an onion,  until only the Mind, that inner Core remains . . . and lures us back again and again to experience  that most  Silent, Secret, Sacred,  place of YOU.  It’s called Meditation.