To date, I have received 3 e-mails celebrating the joys of Black Friday. Not one wishing me a happy Thanksgiving. Each one of these e-mails came from some entity doing their very best to convince me that I will be happier if I buy more stuff.
I know this may sound crazy, but I had no idea what Black Friday was until 3 years ago. I over heard someone say, "Black Friday is my favorite holiday". I asked them "What's Black Friday?" They looked at me like I was crazy. And, well, maybe I am. Really. This is a distinct possibility. I might be certifiably nuts.
Or maybe, just maybe, our society is a little insane. It could go either way. The jury is still out.
Despite what you may have heard, the term Black Friday began in Philadelphia in the early 1960s by the police department referring to the chaos that ensued the Friday after Thanksgiving. Later, retail employees picked up the term. And, let me assure you, in both instances it was not an endearing label. An employee who worked at a department store in the early 70s wrote the following.
"The dire warnings came from the sweet older women that took me under their wings at John Wanamaker's department store in Philadelphia shortly after I was hired as temporary holiday help in October 1971. They warned me to be prepared for the hoards of obnoxious brats and their demanding parents that would alight from the banks of elevators onto the eighth floor toy department. The feeling of impending doom sticks with me to this day. The experienced old ladies that had worked there for years called it 'Black Friday'. I'm quite sure it had nothing to do with store ledgers going from red to black."
I titled my book "The Chotchky Challenge" because it is very challenging to change how we see the world, to question it. To most literally... change our mind. And yet, in order to evolve, change is required.
I submit to you the possibility that the "hoards of obnoxious brats" referred to by the employee from the department store were not inherently obnoxious or bratty. But, through the slow and steady process of entitlement that is not only accepted in our society but also encouraged, the kids became what we want them to become. Good consumers full of "wanting" which can make anyone a little obnoxious.
You see each email I received exalting the joys of black Friday were attempting what is called "the creation of wanting". This is the goal. To actually create in me a "wanting" that can never be fulfilled. They are trying to bring about in me a feeling that something is missing.
The goal is not to create thank-fullness. To do so would help me in my journey to know my inherent "fullness". And if I know my inherent fullness, I will never feel the need to acquire in an attempt to fill some emptiness.
We all know, in our heart of hearts, we cannot continue doing things the way we have. It's time to evolve. To change. To question everything. And so, I have a "Chotchky Challenge" for us all. This Black Friday, fill your "soul ledgers" from red to black. Here's all you have to do. Be deeply grateful for everything you already have! Give from your abundance. "Let go" instead of "take in".
And, if you do go into the chaos, I challenge you to consider your "soul hero", that being the one you feel most embodied the Divine. Maybe Buddha, or Jesus or Mother Theresa or Paramahansa Yogananda or..? And then ask yourself "is this what they had in mind?"
Isn't it strange that the holidays (holy days) are the most materialistic time of the year?
Isn't it strange that the holidays (holy days) are the most materialistic time of the year?
But please, do not take my word for it. Remember...
I might be just be crazy!
Warning: This December 16th at 10:30 will be the next Coexist Celebration. This "Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus for the rest of us" Celebration could bring about a "fullness" in you that just might create so much self love that you never again feel the need to buy anything that does not support your soul's purpose on this earth. See you there!
She really gets it! She has also named me one of her "guides" for "architects of change". Just click on "Our Guides" to see my funny face. Her site is called "Ideas, Inspiration and information for ARCHITECTS OF CHANGE". It's really cool. I feel very honored to be featured. My book is available in book stores and on Amazon. Until then, I hope you will give this a "thumbs up".
Wow, it was hot! In fact I think I got sunburned on my face a little. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. As my friend from New York, Lila said, " we have been burned to compassion." That's what I thought of when I looked in the mirror and saw some red. It's one way to awaken to the presence of love, to be "burned" into it. Oftentimes that's what it takes.
However, it doesn't have to be that way. Instead of being burned, we can be gently "warmed" into compassion.
That is what I felt yesterday at our 9/11/11 Coexist Celebration. I felt the heart and the presence of all those who worked to create a beautiful expression of love, and all those who came to add their heart and soul. I believe we did set a world record, a world record for acceptance and love and forgiveness with the largest multicultural, interfaith gathering of people ever to partake in the Muslim prayer ritual of Salat.
The Oregonian covered it, and KOIN News Channel 6 was there. In my imagination I saw people reading the paper or watching the television who may still be carrying prejudice, residues of anger or hate, and suddenly "seeing" another way.
The truth of course is, we all carry prejudice. Every time we "pre-judge" anything, we have been prejudice. It tends to create suffering. Haven't we all suffered enough?
Today, try and catch yourself every time you are tempted to "pre-judge."
Here is a simple one. Realize, every time we dub something as "bad" we have made a "judgment" call. In that moment, it has become bad because we have made it so. We have become the judge and the jury.
Let's suspend judgment, and allow things to unfold as they are, and as we do, we will see that which we once thought was bad, most likely, was always "neutral" waiting for our judgment.
One of our teachings is called "IT," the "Incredible Truth." One of the five tenets of the Incredible Truth is "you are more capable, more able and more competent than you have ever given yourself credit for."
I believe this for everyone, no exceptions. Sometimes, however, the hardest one to believe in is ourself.
As many of you know, I have a learning disability called, dyslexia. Dyslexia runs in varying degrees. For me it's so strong that, unless I make a mental note, I walk down the sidewalk backwards :). I honestly do not know how I made it through school. In grade school and junior high, I got straight D's and F's in English and Writing. And yet, writing is one of my true passions.In fact, I even got it in my head a few years ago to start writing a book.
There were moments while writing I believed I was "capable and able." However, there were equal or greater moments in which I thought I had lost my mind; "What am I doing trying to write a book?" I would say to myself.
To make a long story short, I received a message on my phone a couple of weeks ago from the president of Hay House Publishing. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard his digital voice say, "We would love to publish your book."
For several days thereafter, when I woke up in the morning, I wasn't sure whether it was a dream or reality. I would grab my phone and check to make sure the message was actually in there.I would play it back and then do what I call the "Peanut Butter and Jelly Dance" (a dance of amazement and gratitude).
We all speak a different language. I know it does not seem as such, yet it is true.
Recently two colleagues and I went to a Cambodian Buddhist monastery to book one of our Coexist Celebrations. We met with the head monk of the monastery. He doesn't speak English so we used a translator. English was a third language for the translator. We looked at a calendar with them and booked the 15th of October. The head monk smiled and nodded.
Since that time we communicated with several members of the Buddhist monastery on the phone and in e-mails about the event. It’s always challenging because, even though this Buddhist monastery is “just down the road,” it’s like another country, or even another world. The monks there are as committed and dedicated to their spiritual practice as any Buddhist monk would be on a mountain in Nepal. They are cut off from the world for the most part and speak in Sanskrit and Cambodian.
Less then two weeks before the event, we finally met with the board of the Buddhist monastery to go over the details of our event. Things were going great, the monks were going to chant with us and speak to us, with a translator, about enlightenment. And then one of two people on the board who speaks fluent English held up a calendar and said “but the 15th will not work.”
We were in shock to say the least. To make a long story short, the date, the 15th, was lost in translation. Literally. When the monks nodded their heads and smiled saying “yes” they were just being polite, using the limited amount of English and facial expressions they could to show friendship. They were doing the best they could.
After our meeting, we stood there, at a Buddhist monastery whose foundational teaching is that all suffering is rooted in attachment, and we were suffering because we were attached to a Buddhist monastery. Oh the irony.
I don't know whether “everything happens for a reason” or “everything happens for a lesson,” but either way I came away a little wiser. Yes, it is an extreme example when dealing with Buddhist monks who don't speak English; however, we all speak a different language. Every one of us. It’s easy to forget this truth; it’s one reason why coexisting is an art form that we must master.
When it comes to communicating, like the monks, we're all doing the best we can. It helps a lot to remember...
the words we say may not be heard the way we think they are and the things we hear may not be what was said.
A powerful lesson on the way to “Coexist.”
Apply this to your loved ones, as much as a Buddhist monk from Cambodia and watch as a greater sense of peace finds its way into your heart.