7 Ways to Live Life to the Max by Dennis R. Curyer M.A - HTML preview

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The second level is the need for safety and security, shelter and protection. We all need somewhere to live, a home that will protect us from the elements, an environment that provides safety and security.

Once we have reached this level we are now prepared to move to the third level, which is the need to belong, to bond with people who are like-minded, people who believe in the things we do and see life in the same way. Belonging to these

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groups we are more likely to feel that these people love and care about us. This group gives us self-expression beyond our immediate family.

The fourth level is the need for self-esteem. We want to feel good about ourselves and have others feel good about us. When we succeed at some difficult challenge we experience deep feelings of satisfaction.

At the highest level Maslow says our need is to self-actualize. In developed nations we have the luxury of being able to strive for the higher levels in this hierarchy.

At the higher level we become creative because we are free to develop our gifts and talents, to write, to sing, to paint, to concentrate on the spiritual aspects of life. To reach this pinnacle we must make full use of our potential. This is living life to the max.

Characteristics of Self-Actualizing People

For those who reach this level, Maslow’s research showed that these people had similar characteristics, habits and actions. Self-actualizing people can be identified by the following characteristics.

These people can see reality for what it is. They have the ability to separate their hopes, fears, anxieties and theories from what is real.

They are people who have been able to accept weaknesses and imperfections in themselves and other people. They consider weaknesses to be a part of human nature. They see them as a part of the growing process and so they allow people to be themselves. They do not get upset or disturbed because of other people’s behavior.

These people are naturally spontaneous and open with their feelings. They avoid pretence although they do act tactfully in areas that might hurt other people’s feelings.

Self-actualizing people do not need permission to laugh. They have a well-developed sense of humour. Laughter is spontaneous and they are prepared to laugh at themselves. They see certain foolishness in taking themselves or life too seriously.

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These people are solution-focused rather than ego-centered. They see the world outside themselves rather than within themselves. They normally have some mission in life or some higher task to fulfill. Actions are based on the deeper issues of life that may center around religious, philosophical, social, or ethical issues. This gives them a defined purpose for life.

They do not depend on others for their security and satisfaction. Their security comes from within. They do like moments of solitude and privacy as this allows them time to meditate and think about the important issues of life.

They are self-starters, and control where possible, their own destiny. They have a level of humility that enables them to learn from anybody who has something worthwhile to teach them.

They have the ability to see newness in the ordinary events of life. Sunsets can be enjoyed over and over again. There is newness in flowers, food, weather, nature, relationships, etc.

These people generally have deeper and stronger relationships. Although their friendships are more intense, they are fewer in number. They have many associates but very few true friends because, in some ways, they expect more of friendship than other people do. Friendships are built regardless of class, education, and political belief, color or race, they are not xenophobic, that is they do not fear people from other countries.

Ethical behavior plays a large role in self-actualizing people. They have a clear concept of what is right and wrong. In general, their principles are ethically based, and although they may be religious they may not be what some would call

‘orthodox’.

Maslow labelled these people ‘The Peakers’ - those who have peak experiences in life. These peak experiences generate intense feelings of achievement, success, and passion. They are likely to be felt when something of value has been achieved, when one’s creative abilities have moved to a higher level. It may be in areas like leadership, sport, religion, intimate friendships, music and art. These conclusions have made Maslow’s teachings important in the area of personal development and human performance.

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Competition in Life

We live in a very competitive world. Everybody seems to be competing with someone at some level. Each week we spend hours playing or watching others compete in sporting activities all over the world. We cannot help being impressed by the level of excellence that these people achieve.

In sport and business, competition encourages excellence in performance. Where there is no competition, improvement in performance is less likely. We have lived through an era where governments have held monopolies in business. With no competition from free enterprise, services deteriorate. Monopolies create sloppy business practices, less innovation and higher prices. Business performs better with competition. Costs and prices decrease. Some level of competition is necessary in all aspects of life.

The following story makes this point.

As two friends are hiking in the forest they encounter a huge, ferocious and obviously hungry Grizzly Bear. Its next meal has just come into sight, and they are it! The first friend calculates that the bear will overtake them in 27.3 seconds.

At that point, she panics; realizing there is no escape. She faces her friend, with the fear of death in her eyes. To her amazement, she observes that her friend is not scared at all. To the contrary, her friend is quickly but calmly taking off her hiking boots and putting on jogging shoes. “What do you think you’re doing?”

the first hiker says to her companion, “You’ll never be able to outrun that grizzly.” “That’s true,” says the companion, “but all I have to do is outrun you.”

We all compete when the motivation is strong enough. However, competition is not the real purpose of life. Fulfilling the measure of our creation can only be achieved individually. We are not in competition with any other person, so we do not have to compare ourselves with others. We do not have to become discouraged because we think that someone else is better than we are in a particular area. The essence of our being is equal to that of any other person.

There is only one person that can fulfill our role and that is us. This means that others cannot beat us to the finish line because there is no race. This is not to say that others do not have a similar role to us, but it is never the same. This is important to understand if we are going to enjoy life. Every human being is

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unique and cannot be duplicated. In this, I am not referring to the body, only to the spirit, soul, or the essence of a person.

Nature and Environment

The great debate that has taken place for many years among psychologists and others interested in human behavior is that of ‘nature versus nurture’. Or, in other words, “Are we born a certain way or does our environment determine what we are?”

The answer to this question helps to explain the motivation behind human behavior.

The middle ground is that nature and nurture influence behavior. On the one hand we are genetically predisposed to act a certain way. On the other hand our environment will set the stage for the play. For example, one person may eat without restraint and never put on weight, while another person will put on weight just by looking at food. The latter is genetically predisposed to putting on weight; however, this does not mean they have no choice in the matter. People like that can decide to be moderate in their eating habits (oh, but the food looks so good!) It is much harder for them because of their genetic make-up, but it is not impossible. A level of discipline is required to achieve this.

You might conclude that this is unfair. Why should skinny people be able to eat whatever they like and you cannot? The fairness is that skinny people have other predispositions that they are struggling with, things you do not have to worry about. We all have predispositions in some form. Life always sees that we have problems to work through.

The real issue is to what degree genetics and environment influence our behavior. This has not been satisfactorily answered.

The Eagle School

In business the example is often used of the eagle school. If you send a duck along to the eagle school for an intensive training course, will the duck graduate as an eagle? There are those who believe in the affirmative while others, the negative. In my opinion the duck will never become an eagle, no matter how

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many eagle schools it may attend. It may even be taught how to act like an eagle, but the duck would only be masquerading as an eagle. The measure of its creation is to be a duck. It does not have the killer instinct of the eagle, nor its eyesight or speed. It is not and never will be carrion, i.e. a dead meat eater. It does not eat the flesh of dead or dying animals. Its diet is mainly plant life.

The middle ground is, “No, the duck will never become an eagle but it will become a better duck.” Well, maybe, but would it not be better for the duck to go to the duck school where it can be taught how to become a better duck? There would be no acting then. The duck would be learning how to fulfill the measure of its creation.

What duck wants to kill? Who says the duck has to be an eagle anyway? This presupposes that the eagle is superior to the duck. In some ways it may be. In other ways it is not. It depends on where you are. The eagle may be faster in the air but the duck is faster in the water. In the world of birds, all are necessary.

Each playing their role, so it is with humanity.

As the maxim says, “Whate’er thou art, act well thy part.” We all are a part of the whole and you cannot have the whole without all of its parts.

We Are All One

Someone famous once said, “Inasmuch as ye do it to the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.”

This idea comes from a lofty source. It teaches us that there is a unity within humanity and that you cannot do something to someone without it affecting all.

You cannot hurt the powerless without it affecting the powerful. Whatever you do to another person is but another stroke on the canvas of your life.

Another way of explaining this may be to consider the building industry. For a home to be built there is a succession of actions that must take place. Footings must be poured before the bricklayer can lay bricks. The walls must go up before the roof can go on, etc. When a supplier or tradesperson fails to complete a necessary task by the agreed time, this then affects every other person involved with the project.

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If one gets behind everybody gets behind. You were supposed to move into your new home by Christmas. It did not happen until February. The action of one affects all. Does it stop there? Of course not, future projects will be affected and dates for completion will be moved back.

Everybody is needed and each plays a vital role in the experience we call life.

We are all at different levels of our development. Some of us are seedlings, others grand oak trees, but every level is needed. We should remember that the grand oak tree was once a seedling. Therefore, to be in harmony with all, you must allow all to be at the level they are at. You cannot take a seedling and expect it to act like a grand oak tree. It is just not possible. It has to go through the growing process. There is no other way. The role of each oak is to assist the seedling through the process. I should quickly add, only if the seedling wants to be assisted.

Wherever we are and whoever we are, the purpose of our life is to rise to the measure of our creation. This is the great challenge of life, to understand our role and our purpose. It is only by fulfilling this that we experience what Joseph Campbell and others have called our ‘bliss’.

The Grand Design

It seems to me that we can view life in at least two ways. Firstly there is a grand design to our creation and we play an important role in this design. If so, no other person can fulfill our role. Every thing and every person has a place and a purpose. This is what makes us unique amongst all of creation.

An alternative theory is that life is a series of accidents. Things happen randomly without rhyme or reason. Where you are positioned is the luck of the draw. It is either good luck or bad luck. You do not have any control over life. You just wait for the next accident to occur.

The word ‘accident’ had to have been invented by someone who could not explain or understand why a certain thing occurred. Accidents never just happen, they are caused. If you do not know the cause of an event or were not expecting it to happen then you label it an accident or a coincidence. Life takes on a new meaning when we come to know that there are no accidents, only experiences.

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There is a grand design for our existence and we do have control over much of what we do, therefore make a decision to live life with excitement and energy and join the maxers.

The Fifth Child

Let me share with you an experience from my own life to make this point. You may think it was an accident, many have. However, for my family and me, it was not an accident but part of the grand design. It was an experience that was necessary for us to have.

It was about 2.30 pm, 26 October 1978. I was driving to the Burwood Private Hospital. I had been informed that my wife, Yvonne, was now in labor. I was in a reflective mood due to Yvonne’s difficult pregnancy but I still felt that all would be well. It was my wife’s birthday and she was being induced.

At 3:05 pm Bonnie Jo was born. I immediately detected features different from our other children, more noticeable almond-shaped eyes and a moon-shaped face. My wife was informed that she had a little girl as the nurse began to clean her up. My wife was then sedated and I left the hospital.

Arriving home I rang our doctor whose first words to me were, “I think we have a problem”. He was letting me down gently. I already knew that Bonnie Jo was born with an extra chromosome - she was a Mongol. In those days this was the name that these children had been labelled with. Down’s Syndrome has now replaced this word. Early that evening I conveyed the news to my wife who was tearful but accepting of our new situation. We explained to our children that out of all the children in the world, few would have such a remarkable experience of having a Down’s Syndrome brother or sister. A few days later it was confirmed that Bonnie’s life expectancy was reduced because her heart was malformed. She had bi-directional shunting.

Well! Some may conclude that this event was an accident caused by one extra chromosome. No doubt the extra chromosome made the difference; but, for my family and me, we have viewed this experience as a part of the grand design.

These are fundamental questions that we all need to think about. Our conclusions will impact on the way we live. You may choose to be the victim of any situation or you may choose to be the blessed.

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To Reason is Divine

What makes us different from all other creations is that we have the ability to reason, the capacity to think things through.

Seneca said, “Reason is nothing else but a portion of the divine spirit set in a human body”.

Reason allows us to make informed choices based on what is real. Reason is the enemy of desire; therefore, desire will do every thing within its power to subdue reason. For life to have meaning we must allow reason to play its role. If not, desire takes over and conquers all with a passion that can be a curse or, according to the English proverb, “A man without reason is a beast in season”.

On most occasions reason and desire are at war. You must decide who will be the victor. We have been given the freedom to choose how we will live or, to use an American term; it is our ‘inalienable right’, one that comes with us at birth. It is easier to choose once we have worked out what our purpose is or the ‘why’ of life. Once we know ‘why’ then we can work out ‘how’.

Some people seem to find a purpose without difficulty. This may be because of who their parents are or what country they are born in. For others it is a talent or gift that may dictate their direction. The talent is the call, or so it seems. The age one is born into will provide different opportunities and challenges.

Some know from a very early age what they have to do in life. For example, Mozart played the harpsichord at the age of three, composed at four, and went on tour at the age of six. Haydn played and composed at the age of six.

Mendelssohn was playing and composing when he was nine.

In contrast, others never seem to discover their purpose. Sometimes we are like the man who goes in search of a light while holding a lantern. “We look too high for things close by.”

We have control over most things in our life and this is the way it should be. We are the architects of our own destiny. It is also true that there are things over which we have little or no control. You have no control over how you look. The sixteenth President of The United States, Abraham Lincoln, was not the most handsome man. He knew this but still saw the humorous side of it. In a debate,

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Stephen Douglas accused Lincoln of being two-faced. Lincoln replied, “I leave it to my audience to decide. If I had two faces would I be wearing this one?”

While we may be able to make the best of what we have, we can only work with what we have.

Our health is another area over which we do not have total control. We can treat our body with respect. We can be careful in what we eat, drink, and take into it.

However, even exercising moderation in all things, there are many who still suffer with cancer, heart attacks, multiple sclerosis and many other diseases.

We should be more concerned about the issues of life over which we do have control. We are here to progress and to succeed. We have the power to choose.

Whatever we choose there will be a consequence. We either choose to move forward or go backward. There is no standing still. You cannot even say, “I am coasting” as there is only one way to coast, and that is downhill.

The measure and purpose of our creation then is to move forward, to grow, to win, to excel, to be better when we leave here than when we arrived. Each generation should be better than the former, not in what we accumulate but in how we live.

My sons should be better than me. My daughters should be better than their mother. It is only then that humanity will rise to fulfill the measure of its creation.

The Mysteries of Life

Man has contemplated, in both ancient and modern times, the great questions of life’s mysteries. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What is the purpose of life? What is beyond this life? Architecture has been used to teach these mysteries and, in part, reveal answers to some of life’s most perplexing questions.

The pyramids and temples, both ancient and modern, are of symbolic proportion.

One such edifice I visited in the USA had a series of rooms depicting man’s progress through life by a succession of murals. These murals portrayed the people of the world moving forward through time. Ancient, medieval, and

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modern man was illustrated in the garb of the day. These murals carried the mind back into the past and forward through generations of time.

Something of significance was revealed as one gazed upon and admired the painter’s skill. All of these people had one thing in common. They had no eyes.

They were blind to the mysteries and purposes of life. They were the sleepwalkers or the living dead. They lived their whole lives without knowing who they really were and what the purpose of life was.

This concept is understood within most of the great spiritual movements of the world. To have one’s eyes opened is to be enlightened. The word “Buddha”

literally means “one who is enlightened”. What does it mean to be enlightened?

Enlightenment means that one has been given knowledge of a different order. In using knowledge in this context, I am not talking about information.

It reminds one, of the small Russian dolls that can be purchased anywhere. As you open the lid of one of these dolls there are a series of smaller dolls within.

You have to remove one to get to the next. Finally you reach the smallest or the innermost one. You can only reach this one by removing the other dolls surrounding it. The first thing you have to know is that there are others within.

This can be likened to the gradations or levels of knowledge. The process of learning is difficult and gradual.

Professor Lewes in his ‘Biographical History of Philosophy’ taught:

“To aspire to the knowledge of more than phenomena, their resemblances and successions, is to aspire to transcend the limitations of human faculties. To know more we must be more.”

Know Thyself

Self-knowledge is the most important knowledge one can gain. It grows out of self-searching, contemplation, meditation, observation, and reflection.

You may have already reached a point in your life when you have asked the question “Who am I?”

The beginning of knowledge is to know who we are. We must get this right to begin with, as this is the foundation or cornerstone upon which we build. The

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Ancient Greeks understood this. The Oracle at Delphi inscribed the words,

“Know thyself”. Edison said, “If you know a lot about everything and very little about yourself, do you know anything?”

As a part of our education we go to school and learn about the lives of those considered to be famous: the philosophers, explorers, pioneers, scientists, inventors. These people have shaped our nation and the world we live in. No one would doubt the value of this knowledge.

There is so much we can learn from the lives of Gandhi, Einstein, Napoleon, Emerson and many others, yet we devote very little time to coming to an understanding of who we are and what it is that has shaped our thoughts, fears and behavior.

We know little about our ancestors and how their lives have influenced us. Some of us know less about our parents even though we have known them for years.

They are just like sticks of furniture, always there. It is not until they are gone that we ask ourselves, “How much did I really know about my father or mother?

I wish they were here now so I could get to know them better. There are lots of questions that I would like to ask them.” In getting to know them better you get to know yourself better.

Knowing Our Progenitors

This idea of knowing who our parents are is very important for our development.

Have you ever read a book where the beginning and the ending of the book are missing? No matter what is in the middle you cannot quite get the plot. Or what about arriving at the movies late, you are always trying to work out what happened first. If you remove the beginning and the end, the middle will not make sense.

My father was an alcoholic. I say, ‘was’ because he is no longer with us. I had discussed his early life with him in an effort to understand him. His father fought at Gallipoli in the First World War and was gassed. He was very sick when he returned to Australia and died when my father was only four years old. His mother placed him and his brother into the Salvation Army Boys’ Home in Adelaide and then the Presbyterian Homes in Sydney. He was only five years old.

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He was treated very poorly in these so-called Christian boys’ homes. He told me once how he was so hungry that he and some other boys climbed the back fence into the orchard and ate some green apples. They were caught and punished by being locked in their rooms. These green apples brought on dysentery but they were not allowed out of their rooms to go to the toilet. The situation was a mess in more ways than one. This, and other experiences in these homes, shaped my father’s attitude towards religion.

My father could never work out why he and his brother were placed in homes when there were plenty of other boys who lost their fathers in the war and they were not put in homes. He told me that there would be times that his mother would arrange to take him and his brother on weekend outings. They would all be dressed up and waiting but she would not show up. This feeling of rejection and of not being loved, as he perceived it, developed in him feelings of inferiority and insecurity.

He told me drinking took away those feelings. He felt equal to others when he had been drinking. This was important information for me to understand about my father’s background and, although it did not condone his behavior, I could at least understand the issues that brought him to that point in his life.

Understanding my father has helped me in understanding who I am.

In the Middle East a boy carries the name of his father. Your name might be David ben Jacob or Mohammed ibn Ali. The ben and the ibn identify you as the son of Jacob or Ali. If you are being introduced, the person you are being introduced to does not want to know who you are, they want to know who your father is. By knowing who your father is they get an understanding of who you are.

His First Parents

My oldest son is adopted. We chose him when he was two weeks old. We taught him that he was adopted as soon as he was able to understand. We made no distinction between him and his other brother and sisters. We always told him that if he ever wanted to know who his biological parents were we would help him find them.

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Married and with one child, he and his wife decided they would begin to look for his first, or biological, parents. They found them and a family reunion took place.

The point of this story is that he now knows himself better because he knows his original parents, the two people he originated from. This is important for any child to know. He now knows why he acts and feels a certain way over and beyond all that we have taught him.

Now let me change the context of our thinking. Up until this time we have been thinking about our origins at a physical level. At a physical level we would all agree that life starts at conception and finishes at death, but many people believe there is more to life than this.

The Treasure House

Is conception the beginning of life? Not according to the poet Wordsworth who penned it this way:

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting,

The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar;

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come,

From God, who is our home.

The homely nurse doth all she can,

To make her foster-child, her inmate, man,

Forget the glories he hath known,

And that imperial palace whence he came.”

These ideas are also to be found in the words of the prophet Jeremiah who was told there was life before conception.

He was told that before he was formed in the belly he was known and before he came out of the womb he was sanctified and ordained a prophet unto the nations.

In an account found in the writings of Plato there was an interview that took place with Socrates just prior to his death. The discussion centered on the

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immortality of the soul and the acquisition of knowledge. Socrates was quoted as saying, “Knowledge is simply recollection, if true, also necessarily implies a previous time in which we learn that which we now recollect. But this would be impossible unless our soul was in some place before existing in this human form; here, then, is another argument of the soul’s immortality.”

There is an old Jewish teaching that talks about God creating man and woman.

Firstly he creates the souls of all people. They go to live in the seventh heaven or the treasure house. There they wait for a physical body to be produced by two people living on the earth.

Once their physical body has been created they will be required to go down to earth and inhabit that body as their home for the next stage of their existence. Of course they are comfortable in the seventh heaven and do not want to leave.

When the Angel calls for them to go they protest. In an effort to convince them to leave the Angel takes them to Paradise where they meet with some of the great and noble people who have already lived upon the earth and returned. The Angel explains to them that these people have kept all of God’s commandments. If they want to enter Paradise then they must also go down to earth to fulfill the next stage of their existence.

The Angel then takes them to Hell where they witness fire and brimstone and punishment reserved for those who broke all of God’s commandments. They understand that it will be their actions that will decide where they will return to, Paradise or Hell.

The soul, with some degree of reluctance, decides that the better course is to go to earth and inhabit the body their parents have made for them. As the child is being born, the Angel touches the child on the nose and in doing so all memory of its former existence is forgotten.

These ideas support the view that maybe conception was not the beginning of life and that the eternal aspect of our being: our soul, spirit, breath of life or essence did not start at physical birth.

While many believe life is not extinguished at death, fewer have thought about life before life. It is by thinking about these ideas that our minds are expanded.

Once expanded they never go back into the same shape.

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Another Window to Your World

What this concept does is offer another explanation about certain aspects of life.

This provides a reason why each person has a range of talents and abilities beyond and different from others.

Parents of average intelligence may produce one child who is brilliant and another who is average. We would question, “How can this be?” You would have to ask why it is that one child is born with a brilliant intellect while the other stands in the shadows. It is the brilliant child who receives all the recognition, acclamations, and opportunities. Where is the justice, mercy and love, to favor one above another, to give one person many gifts and talents and to another, few?

If your explanation is that this is an aberration, i.e. a deviation from what is normal, or a biological trick of nature, then you would have to believe, or at least conclude, that life is accidental and unjust. If your parents were great musicians like the parents of Mozart then it would seem to be a fair conclusion that you inherited your gift through your parents’ genes.

This does not explain the source of your gift if neither of your parents is musically inclined. A biological aberration would seem to be a better explanation. However, if life did not start at birth and this life is a continuation of a former existence we could then conclude that the station in which we find ourselves in this life was the station that we left from in a former existence.

Imagine it this way; the birth of the day is the morning when we arise refreshed.

During the day we work hard but, by nightfall, there are things we have advanced in but not completed. The death of the day is night when we lie down to sleep. Whatever was not completed that day we commence it again the next morning, not at its beginning but at the point we finished previously.

The biological aspect is that our parents provided the appropriate body and environment for us to continue and develop what we had worked on “yesterday”.

This is justice. We are being rewarded for our level of excellence, the price that

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we paid elsewhere. By the time we are born, this talent and knowledge may have already been spiritually stamped into our genes.

Physical birth is merely an act of nature. Biologically we are born a certain way.

At this level we resemble our parents, even more so as we get older. What is worth thinking about is this, “Is there a spiritual imprint upon the biological process?”

If we assume that there was life before we came screaming from the womb, as Socrates and others believed, then we must ponder the question, “Who were our parents at a spiritual level?” If this can be discovered then it will reveal to us certain things about our spiritual nature: why we act the way we do, over and beyond our biological makeup and whatever else we have been taught.

Discovering this knowledge gives us a higher understanding of our nature, identity, purpose, and destiny. It is then we understand that our role is not to eat off the crumbs that fall from the table.

Spiritual Genetics

At a physical level we all multiply in our own species. Human beings reproduce human beings, animals reproduce animals, and plant life reproduces plant life.

At a spiritual level, could we be the offspring or children of a spiritual creator?

This creator has been given many names. ‘God’ is the most common. For Jews it is ‘ha-Shem’ or ‘Adonai’. For Muslims it is ‘Allah’. For members of Alcoholics Anonymous it is a power greater than themselves. Whatever we deem the power to be, we are the children of that power. We are like rays coming from the sun, sprigs of divinity.

We recognize in this world that all children have parents or creators. Each son and daughter has a mother and father. Is this pattern copied from a higher source, a shadow of our former existence? If so, then we have spiritual progenitors as well as physical progenitors. One creates our spirit, soul and essence, the eternal aspect of our being, while the other creates our physical body, the temporary aspect of our being.

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If we come to know that life is longer than seventy or eighty years, and that life began before birth and will extend beyond death, then this knowledge will influence the way we live life. It will also give us a view of eternity.

Crossing Over

There is a thought-provoking story that I have adapted from a book called, ‘The Birth We Call Death’ by Paul H. Dunn and Richard M. Eyre.

Imagine for a moment that you are about to cross Australia by train. You get on board in Sydney and your destination is Perth. As the train leaves Sydney, almost as if it was good luck, you are sitting next to a really nice person who is making the same journey that you are. As the trip normally takes almost four days, you begin a serious attempt to get to know each other.

After some talking you are surprised to find that you have many things in common. By the time the train moves into the night you feel that the person you are beginning to know may become more important than the journey.

After a sound night’s sleep you rejoin your friend and you spend another day relating to each other and experiencing the journey together. Your rapport grows still stronger and you find yourself feeling a little sorry that the day passes so fast.

By the second night your train is deep into the parched plains and as you fall asleep you are thinking about the things you want to find out about your friend the next day.

In the morning you return to your seat and find, to your dismay, your friend is not there. You think to yourself, “That’s funny, I wonder where my friend is?”

When you inquire, a passenger tells you that he got off during the night. “Got off during the night?” you ask. “But he had a destination very near to mine.”

You feel disappointment as you had planned on having the next two days together as there was so much more to say! Suddenly you realize that you really did not find out where he came from or who he really was. You never did learn why he was on the train or exactly where he was going. Worst of all, you realize

Copyright © Dennis R Curyer, 2003

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7 Ways to Live Life to the MAX

that you do not know whether you will ever see him again as you have no contact details.

Your disappointment goes from sadness and frustration, into bitterness and anger. Why did he have to leave and why did he not tell you? It is not so much that he is gone, but it is because you do not know where he has gone.