Day 2: How the Virtue Will Change Your Entire Life
By Richard Hastings
O SON OF BEING! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof. Baha’u’llah
The advantage of choosing a process or virtue for your focus of change this year is that virtues and processes are automatically generalized to all parts of your life, not just the one that may be giving you the most problem. When you learn how to have endurance, for instance, you can stay positive for long periods of time with any project. However, it is my experience that the mind often needs some help in the process of generalization.
The activity today is to make a list of the various parts of your life and then describe how the virtue will assist you in each one. Of course the more you understand what the energy of the virtue is the easier this will be. The divine world is there to assist you so it is very helpful to have a daily prayer asking for assistance in learning about and applying the energy to your life. God does not just handover to anyone a particular energy. You can’t go to your place of worship and expect that you will suddenly become a new person.
We have been given a free will and an ability to make efforts. These are gifts that are aspects of every human being. God expects us to use them because that is our nobility, but the divine world is also there to support and guide us along the way if we reach out to it. The communication from the spiritual dimension never stops flowing. For instance, something like world peace is not going to be delivered on a silver platter one day to us. We have to learn our way to it. A lot of people make the argument that God let such terrible tragedies happen in the 20th Century, but He has always done His part which is guidance and support. The problem for us is that we often don’t listen to the guidance. We do not have world peace right now because we don’t follow the guidance. Ask for help, listen for it, and then make lots of efforts and your world will change.
Get out some paper or use your computer and make the list.
Happy changing today.
Transforming Fear to Courage
By Rachel Perry
I am driving down a road I’ve driven 100+ times before. It’s a road on a hill and I’m headed down towards the base of the incline. It’s been snowing all day and the roads are slick with ice. Having lived in snowy places like Ontario & Alberta, I feel confident about navigating the terrain. Visibility is not great but with the windshield wipers going, I can see as well as I need to. I’m coming around a bend in the road when suddenly the car’s back end veres off to the left and I find myself sliding sideways down the hill. Quickly, I turn the steering wheel and am able to straighten out the car and I apply the breaks hoping to slow the car down to a manageable speed but no such luck. The back end slides again and I look ahead of me on the road, realizing that if I continue down the hill at this rate I run the risk of smashing into any of the various cars parked on either side of the road. So I realize I cannot make the turn and instead I look straight ahead. In front of me is a drop off the side of the hillside. In the dark I can only perceive that there are trees and I do not like the idea of driving off of a cliff into a ravine of unknown depths. To the left of me is a street lamp post. It occurs to me that driving into the pole is the only way to ensure I have a chance of surviving the impending crash so I allow the car to proceed face-first into the pole knowing that I cannot apply the brakes again, risking the car hitting the pole sideways instead of head-on. At least if I hit the pole head-on there is more protection and more metal between the post and my seat at the wheel. The car continues to accelerate as it drives towards the pole and I whisper a prayer asking that my life may be spared. I don’t want to die and I don’t want to be badly injured.
The sound of the car smashing into the post is the most deafening sound I’ve heard all my life. The crunching of the metal. The blast of the airbag deploying. My face crashing against the airbag and then bouncing back in my seat and then flat into the airbag again. Blacking out and then coming to and wondering how long I was out for. The sound of the car crushing in on itself. Then suddenly it’s over and I crawl awkwardly out of the driver’s side door, glad that I’m alive, but so shaken up and worrying about the extent of the damage. Fortunately, a man is home at a house nearby and he lets me in, calls 911, and sits with me attentively until paramedics arrive. A trip to the hospital ER with an X-ray and a CT scan reveals nothing is broken and I am free to go home. But the trauma is not over just yet. For the next 3 weeks every time I sleep I dream I am in the car again, going over a cliff, or burning in flames, or crashing and not surviving. My dreams are so realistic it’s as though I am there in the car, again and again, reliving the fear and chaos of being in a car going 55km an hour directly into a pole.
In the 10 years that I’ve been learning to interpret dreams I have experienced dreams of car crashes or listened to others share their dreams of collisions. The metaphor of losing control of a car while driving is about losing control of the direction life is going in. In my dreams, and in real life, I lose control of the car and then say a prayer for my life to be saved. I do survive, in the dream and in real life, but I have a huge mess to clean up. The dream is a reminder that my car was out of control even before it slid on the ice – in other words there is a part of my life which I am not in control of – and when I pray about it I can gain control again and therefore can avoid further catastrophe in real life. When we dream of cars and traveling it is about the way we travel to get to where we are going. One way to look at the past 10 years of my life is to see that when I am headed down the road of my life, going for the things I want, often times people with a lot of negative behaviour stand in my way and they do things which forces me to lose control of my life and forces me to have to deal with a big loss and a big mess.
So what I have learned from this recent collision is that I need to remember to have quiet moments of meditation & reflection daily where I can keep my mind centered on a positive vision of where I’m headed. Then I am able to perceive challenges in advance and avoid them or navigate through them with great skill.
When I work with inmates on the challenges they face, I often keep this idea in mind. Sometimes people are motivated by fear or by desire to have more materialistic gain in their lives. Some people are in jail even though they are not guilty of the charges placed on them. Some people in jail have been breaking the law but they are accused of doing something else which they were not involved in. Some people are 100% guilty of what they’ve been charged with and they are willing & able to take responsibility for their actions. Some people are 100% guilty but they never admit it. One way or another, being arrested and incarcerated is like a huge collision in the road of life. Suddenly, and usually without warning, everything comes to a halt. Cops appear. Arrested, incarcerated, charged, and having a day in court. Since I have never been arrested and have never engaged in unlawful behaviour (except for the $3 bracelet I was caught stealing from Canada’s Wonderland when I was 17) I cannot relate directly to the incarcerated experience but what I can relate to, metaphorically speaking, is the experience of trying to go for something and getting aggressively prevented from going for what I want.
The solution to a car crash and the solution to being incarcerated is very much the same. After the crash, everything changes – new car, new Insurance, new beginnings. After an arrest everything changes too – new housing, new responsibilities, new beginnings. So in this way, I am a lot like the inmates I work with. They are reflecting on their lives and thinking about where they want to go next and how they want to get there … And I am also reflecting on my life and thinking about where I want to go and how I want to get there. Change is hard. Really really hard. But everything in life calls us to change, all the time, and if we surrender to the change we can grow with it and experience really amazing opportunities in life. When we resist the change, we get stuck or trapped, and we encounter continuous obstacles without the thrill of victory.
Many people are shocked when they hear I was in another collision. “Again?” they say. “Yes, again,” I reply. But the two collisions were so very different. In the first one, last March in 2019, I had the right of way, driving about 60km on the main road through town and a truck pulled out of a side street without checking all directions and she drove right into me, T-boning me. Luckily, I was able to swerve fast enough that the damage to the car was minimal. I had a serious concussion and painful soft tissue damage following that collision but the car was unscathed. In this most recent accident, it was just me dealing with horrendous driving conditions. More soft tissue damage to deal with, and a totally messed up car to deal with, but not such a serious concussion as the first time. Could either accident have been avoided? Maybe. Have I learned something about my Self? Absolutely. I’ve been learning about trusting my Self more fully and listening to my Inner Guidance when it directs me and I’ve been learning about keeping and maintaining control of my life so that I can confidently move forward with a lot of drive towards the direction of my dreams.
When I consider these life lessons in the context of the Second Day of the Transformation Program I realize the main quality or virtue I need to get back in control of my life is Patience and Calm. When I am Calm & Focused then I am in control of the direction I’m headed and I am not deterred by the obstacles or dangers I’m faced with. This is the same solution inmates need when they are changing direction in their lives. Patience and Calm are two of the most helpful qualities when awaiting court or trial or release. When we are Patient & Calm, we can clearly see the vision we set out before us, we know where we’re headed and how we want to get there and we can use all of our skills & talents to achieve the outcome we desire.
It is quite easy to look at the damage I caused on my car and think it is a horrible sight but with a little effort and creative-thinking, the crash can be seen as an important and unmistakable lesson for positive change. My life circumstances are calling me to have even more Patience and even more Inspiration and even more Commitment to the path I’m following in life. The more I am able to do this, the crises in my life will get fewer and farther apart until they are no longer needed at all. It is the same for inmates. When they get control of their True Self and they understand exactly what they are going for in life, they will be able to have more and more control over the direction they are traveling and will be able to live out their positive new lives.