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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Peace, Hope & Living Out Loud

Holiday Inspiration from Local Spiritual Leaders

Finding Peace In Our Hearts

by Gen Kelsang Mondrub

Warm greetings for the Holiday Season!

In these apparently turbulent times, now more than ever we need to find peace within our own hearts. My esteemed teacher, the renowned author and meditation master, Ven. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, says, “Only by first creating peace in our own mind, and helping others do the same, can we hope to create peace in this world.”

With that said, meditation is the main cause of inner peace, and inner peace is the main cause of true, lasting happiness.

Traditionally, this time of year and into January is when Kadampa Meditation Centers around the world emphasize meditation retreat to gain a deeper, more lasting experience of the peace already within us. This peace has always been in our hearts and will always be there; we just need to learn how to relax and tap into that peace by calming and clearing our minds of their superficial turbulences. Underneath, we will discover the natural, peaceful and boundless goodness of our own hearts, and our world will change for the better.

We will discover the natural, peaceful and boundless goodness of our own hearts, and our world will change for the better.
The “turbulence” exists only in the mind. With meditation, we will experience more space within our minds, and then we will naturally feel warm, generous, more loving and more compassionate toward others. All of our relationships will improve. This can be very helpful amid all the complex family relationships we experience during the holidays! As Buddhists, we believe every living being without exception has this potential for goodness already within them. It is our belief that by realizing this potential, world peace will eventually be attained.

Gen Kelsang Mondrub is the resident teacher of Kadampa Meditation Center Georgia.

Deep and Abiding Hope

by Rev. Richard Burdick

In December, the world participates in more than 25 holiday events that celebrate a wide range of things: from light to spiritual deities, from the cycles of Mother Earth to human rights, from science to cultural awareness. Yet no matter the subject, an underlying message informs and instructs all who listen:

It is a deep and abiding hope for a better world.

The world we live in gives us many reasons to doubt that our rituals have purpose. Yet we, as faithful ambassadors of hope, continue our traditions every December. Why is that? Because upon closer and deeper examination, we find that the world also gives us a lot of evidence that our commitments are not in vain.

Our rituals have given us the eyes, ears and hearts to see, hear and know that something just below the surface of our earthly concerns is growing. Through our practices, we have learned that no matter how dark things may seem, the hope we have nurtured is having an effect. The seeds are germinating just beneath the surface of the soil. It is my belief that these seeds have taken root and grown so profoundly that they are now pushing the darkness up and out so that it may be finally and completely released.

The discord is a sign of growth and healing, not of backwards movement. Peace will have its way.
The discord is a sign of growth and healing, not of backward movement. Peace will have its way as we remain diligent in our celebrations—not just in December, but all year long. Joy is a burgeoning spirit that we first feel within, before its beauty is realized in the world. Humanity is in a time of great clearing, and I believe our dedicated rituals have been and will continue to be a huge part of the coming age.

Stay the course and know that, no matter what form the celebration in your home takes, we are united in a common bond and purpose. The rewards of our labors are about to break ground.

My counsel to each of you this December—whether you be Christian, Jew, Muslim, pagan or something else—is to play your part. The devoted religious person is no more important than the atheist in the movement of this energy. Play your part! Let your heart continue to nurture the mighty tree of hope that is ready to emerge and share her fruit. Sing your songs more loudly than in any year before. Light your candles, pray your prayers and decorate your physical and spiritual home as a living testimony that something good is having its way. We stand on the precipice of a new paradigm in which there will be no more need for cleansing; instead, we will receive the benefits of our faithful commitments to peace on earth, good will toward all!

Rev. Richard Burdick is senior minister at Unity North Atlanta.

The Gift of Living Out Loud

by David Ault

I’ve often resonated with the idea that we are not on this planet to learn anything. Our true task is to unlearn all the things that have gotten in the way of the essential gift of ourselves. The path of human learning can be littered with the acquisition of opinions of others. And if we never become aware of this, we may live out our days never realizing our unique, authentic nature.

Perhaps the greatest gift we can give to others during this holiday season is the gift of our authentic selves. We can embrace and explore the path of living out loud. Showing up fully in the world, doing our spiritual work and ceaselessly taking inventory of all the good that surrounds us are gifts that keeps on giving. We know it as inspiration, and the gift that people crave the most is the gift of inspiration.

Living out loud describes a person who is living their code of conduct with transparency. It suggests using everyday life as a platform to prove a universal principle that we are the producers, directors, authors and actors of our lives. We have the power to recognize a creative desire and go after it with intention and purpose, regardless of public opinion or the unfamiliar mystery that fosters resistance. Living out loud is vulnerable, honest and exhilarating, yet unnerving for anyone heavily tempted to retreat and surrender to the conforming voices around them.

Perhaps the greatest gift we can give to others during this holiday season is the gift of our authentic selves.
Living from this bold state requires letting go of perfection. In human form, we all make less than optimal choices. Mistakes are like cosmic emery boards, filing away the jagged edges of our evolution. Yet, without the trying and failing, without the ebbs and the flows, we can never understand and appreciate the nature of growth and its endless gifts.

Living out loud requires us to let go of the need to please. When burdening ourselves with people-pleasing, we lose our identities and begin creating fragmented personas with hopes of securing our position in society. Because we don’t dare expose our perceived failures for fear of being judged, those very fears overtake and freeze us in a fraudulent existence. We aren’t living a life; we are managing our multiple personas.

Living out loud requires us to let in a collaborative spirit with the Universe. We strengthen our knowing, and we practice the principle that all things are working together for our good. Trust is key. Living out loud is cultivating that trust day after day.

In addition to the other gifts you exchange, consider offering the gift of your evolving self.

David Ault is an author, speaker, columnist, founder of Kaleidoscope Child Foundation and Senior Minister at Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta.

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