Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Little More Substance

Hunger, intense hunger, everywhere I look, I see hunger, but what are we hungry for? We eat, but we are never filled. We are so busy, busy, busy, constantly looking for the next high, the next thrill, the next bit of excitement. We live in a culture of fast food, fast cars and instant gratification. We are enamored with all kinds of material abundance (things, things, things). And yet, I still see hunger, a lot of hunger; for even though we have so many things, these things can and never will satisfy the longings of the soul. The soul desires an internal connection with its source, and if you don't nourish that, you will always feel a sense of emptiness. It doesn't matter how much material wealth or belongings, or temporary highs you achieve, or acquire. If you don't satisfy your spiritual hunger, you will never find satisfaction of the highest nature.

There is a song by Jewel that is absolutely amazing. It is titled, Little Sister. The lyrics go:

"Every day we starve while we eat white bread and beer, instead of a handshake or hug, we spill the pills and sweep them under the rug. My little sister is a zombie in a body, with no soul, a role she has learned to play, in a world today where nothing else matters, but it matters, we gotta start feeding our souls, not our addictions, or afflictions of pain, to avoid the same questions we must ask ourselves to get any answers. We gotta start feeding our souls have been lost to the millions with lots who feed on addiction selling pills and what's hot. I wish I could save her from all their delusions, all the confusion, of a nation that starves for salvation, but clothing is the closest approximation to God, and he only knows that drugs are all we know of love."

There is an interesting correlation I have noticed. We as a society abuse so many substances (prescription pills, drugs, pornography, food and etc.) as a substitute for real substance. Ironically enough, it is called substance abuse. Ultimately, people are looking for more substance, many just go about it the wrong way. We all want the same thing-a richer, fuller experience of life, but there is no substitute for real substance. Spiritual fulfillment is the only satisfying substance. Until your soul is content and full of substance, you will constantly be craving and always hungry.

I remember growing up, my needs were always met. We weren't wealthy by any means, but we were never poor either. The physical comfort just didn't do it for me though. My family sat around and watched a lot of TV, and played video games. I was never interested in that sort of thing. And through the wisdom of my years, I have come to understand why. All these material things don't satisfy the soul. I have always craved more substance. I hear the longings of my soul, I feel it's hunger. And I feed my soul often just like I feed my body. I am not interested in the food that perishes, I am interested in the food that never perishes-SOUL FOOD! I don't want milk. I want meat, spiritually speaking. That feel good, shallow stuff doesn't do it for me. Our family went to church almost every week and yet, my soul was still always seeking more substance. I felt the hunger from an early age on. I am convinced there is a lot of shallowness in our culture.

I had the chance to worship and study with a Native American group for several years in Tennessee , while I lived there. I now believe native Americans lived with a lot of substance. There's was a very rich spiritual culture. I learned a great deal in those ceremonies and studies. Spirituality was a core component of the native life and culture. I think our culture could benefit a lot from their wisdom and way of life. We need a return to the spiritual way. Oscar Wilde said, "Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you." That is where the real substance lies. Real substance is what I'm talking about here. Let’s be done with shallow living. This is a call for a return to A Little More Substance.

Copyright Justin Topik 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Let Nothing Get Your Goat

This is a phrase I heard a lot growing up, from several various people. It always stuck with me. There was something about it that resonated with me. I did some research and found two possible origins for this commonly used saying. The first comes from an old french phrase, "prendre la chevre," which basically means, "to get your goat, or to take away the goat." In olden times, a person's goat would oftentimes be their only source of milk, so as you could probably imagine, they might get highly irritated, or offended if someone were to try and take it! The second possible origin I found, is a story that dates back to the early 1900's, about goats being placed with racehorses to keep them calm before horse races. So, if someone were to steal or take away an others goat, the horse would become unsettled and run badly, and thus they would 'get someones goat' and oftentimes their prize money too.

So in either case mentioned, the goat was highly prized, which explains how the saying became so popular. The "goat" I am referring to here, in reference to Let Nothing Get Your Goat, is your peace. You must treat it like a highly prized possession. Inner peace after all is the the greatest treasure. You must guard and protect your peace, like a turtle in an impenetrable shell. Others will try to steal, borrow and attack it, especially those who don't have much themselves. You yourself can even destroy and push it away by anger, pride, selfishness, envy, greed, addictions and etc. Buddha said, "Beware of bodily anger, and control your body! Beware of the anger of the tongue, and control your tongue. Beware of anger of the mind, and control your mind. Let a man leave anger, let him forsake pride, let him overcome all bondage!" This stuff is bondage because it keeps us from our natural, peaceful state.

In the parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew, in the Bible, you can also gather similarities of this topic of letting nothing get your goat. It's a story about five virgins who had oil in their lamps and five who tried to borrow from those that had oil. The five that had oil were wise though and didn't let the others borrow theirs, so they could be prepared to see the son of man. This can also be symbolic of trying to borrow others light or inner peace, or not letting others borrow your light or peace, or ultimately, not letting others get your goat or your peace. There is also another great demonstration of this subject in 1 Peter 5:8-9. Peter basically tells us to be self controlled and watchful so the adversary who walks around like a prowling lion won't devour us. This is another great demonstration of guarding your peace and Letting Nothing Get Your Goat. A huge part of maintaining or having inner peace is self control in all areas.

The point I am making here is whenever we let things get our goat, we are letting them take our peace. We are giving our peace to them literally. And I don't know how valuable inner peace is to you, but it is everything to me. I work very hard to maintain mine and there is no way I am just gonna let someone try and steal, or borrow it from me. Sometimes it is challenging though, I won't lie. I was married to a woman for 9 years who didn't have much inner peace and she was constantly attacking mine, sometimes with a vengeance. She was very jealous of the peace I had within me. I had to be very strong to resist the temptation to fight and get defensive.

When you work hard to achieve inner peace, you also have to work hard to protect it. Some people are extremely manipulative and take great pride in borrowing others light and peace. But, if you let others get your goat, then it is you who ends up losing in the end. Inner peace is a pearl of great price. Guard it with your life. It is more valuable than a storehouse of treasures. Let Nothing Get Your Goat!

Copyright Justin Topik 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

You Are Beautiful

I don't know you specifically, individually, whoever you are, but I know one thing-You Are Beautiful. And how do I know this you might ask? The answer is simple, because you are a child of a phenomenal, amazing creator, a creator who doesn't make anything that isn't intrinsically good. You were created by divine light, and you are sustained and maintained by divine light. And along with that, there are gifts and talents inside of you that no one can replicate anywhere in the whole world. You have a unique expression of your talents. You have a sacred calling, or purpose (dharma) that is yours and yours only.

Sometimes though, it seems we live in a world where there is just not a lot of encouragement. Doesn't it seem that others try harder to discourage us, more often than they try and build us up? I know for me personally, my own family has not been so encouraging of my writing and supportive of me following my passions in life. You may feel the same, or maybe you have a great support system? But, no matter who has, or who hasn't supported, or encouraged you in your past, I want you to know that I believe in you and your dreams, your passions, and your greatness, so I want to encourage you. And God/spirit also supports and believes in you. You deserve to be loved and supported for what you have to offer/contribute to this world. And even if you can't see it right now, I know there is something, some force hiding inside of you, right at this very moment just waiting, maybe even screaming at you to unleash it, a force or passion that can ultimately transform your experience of life for good.

I want you to think about 3 people in your life who have been encouraging. If you are lucky, you can hopefully name at least 3. And think just how much these people have influenced, or have helped shape the person you are today. I remember when I lived in Nashville, Tennessee for many years, while I was actively pursuing my writing and songwriting, one day, I was introduced to this highly famous producer/musician named Tom Roady. I asked him to listen to a few of my songs. To my amazement, he said sure. He came over to my house and gave me an hour of his time. I was blown away. He didn't know me from Adam. A few weeks later, he asked me to come to his studio to do some recording. He told me he really believed in my talent and wanted to help me record some of my music. I was beyond moved by his gesture of kindness. He helped me produce some very nice music. His kindness and generosity and his encouragement made me believe I could be successful as a singer/songwriter in the music business. The point is, all he did was give me a little bit of his time, and offered some hope and encouragement to me, and it changed my world.

So, I would like to do that for you right now as well. If you have a dream, you need to pursue it. If you have passions, you need to express them. You are truly beautiful in the eyes of the creator who created you. And he desires only the best for you. He desires you to be full of his glory and to have a rich and abundant life, not just materially, but spiritually as well. Please believe me even if this is hard for you! Spirits are also constantly around you offering encouragement. You just have to learn to listen! I work very hard at having a close connection to spirit. I feel spirits presence strongly encouraging me to be who I am and to do what I am passionate about. In fact, this very website came about because of an idea during a meditation that I felt spirit was whispering in my ear, encouraging me to share a bit of the gold that is within me, to others. You too have a bit of gold within you as well, and You Are Beautiful especially when you are doing your bliss, when you are sharing what it is you have within you to share. Let your beauty manifest itself in the physical world. Be the beautiful creation you were meant to be!

Copyright Justin Topik 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Unity, Harmony and Love are Calling

She is calling. I hear her tantalizing, seductive voice drawing me in, inviting me into a closer communion with spirit, a closer communion with all of creation. I don't know her name, but I hear her whisper unity, harmony and love. The time for her emergence is at hand. It is a seminal moment in the history of humankind. She is drawing us in with her angelic, enchanting, mesmerizing, hypnotic, tranquil, blissful voice, calling all people, all races into one.

It is time for us to look beyond religious, spiritual, racial and economic differences and see only the brotherhood and sisterhood of all humanity, the interconnected web of all existence! Prophets and mystics from all over the world have heard the calling, have seen the vision.

It is a time for unity. It is a time for religion to stop being a childish game, a contest about who has the most correct truth, who has the bigger monopoly on God's teachings. This limited mindset does more to create separation than unity. It actually takes away from the simplicity and beauty of true religion. It is time for Jews, Gentiles, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Taoists, Bahais, Sikhs and etc. to find a common ground, a common thread that we can all weave together. We are not that different. We all bleed red, have hearts, minds and souls that are all intrinsically connected to our creator. We all have the same basic needs and desires (to be loved, to feel a connection with spirit, to eat and sleep and to experience the joy and excitement, the wonder of being alive). We are all more similar than different. We all worship the same God under different names.

I wrote a poem the other day for a beloved friend and I felt it fit nicely with this material so I wanted to share it here. It is called:

Unity is Calling

Beyond our differences, there is a glorious field.

Come, I will meet you there, where love will be blooming,

Amidst flowers of all shapes, colors and hues.

We will be dancing, running wildly, barefoot through the fields.

The heart and soul see no differences, only interconnectedness,

Only the mind differentiates, separates.

Come let us embrace each other and dance together.

Unity is calling!

Copyright Justin Topik 2009

There has never been a time when unity, harmony and love are more needed than now, with all the global pollution, global warming, and the countless wars going on inside and outside of our country. It is time for us to put the weapons down, time for a glorious dawning of spiritual inner transformation that is the ONLY force that can truly change the world once and for all. It starts with you and me individually. Once you find peace, harmony and love within your self, and more and more people start to awaken to this consciousness, then the world as we know it will finally change and transform. Unity, Harmony and Love are Calling. Listen, follow their melodic tunes. She is speaking loudly drawing us all into one!

Copyright Justin Topik 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Every Day is a Gift

Anthony Robbins, a great motivational speaker said, "Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more." Every day we all have the opportunity to decide to let in the sun's rays or get caught up in the haze, the gloom, to give a lot of ourselves, or to give just the bare minimum. And this choice, this attitude reflects in everything we think, do and say for that particular day. Attitudes are highly contagious and a bad attitude is like a rotten piece of fruit. It spoils the rest of the bunch.

Imagine how differently we would treat others, if we consciously decided to treat each day as the amazing gift it really is. It truly is a choice. Mother Theresa said, "It's not how much you do, but how much love you put into what you are doing!" Whatever you may be doing, do it with love and kindness, do it with gratitude and joy. That attitude reflects to all you encounter on your journey today. Put a little bit of yourself into whatever you may be doing. Life is valuable and we should treat it that way. There are NO guarantees in this lifetime.

Bottom line, life is a gift and a treasure. The fact that we are alive, having this extraordinary life experience is amazing in and of itself. I remind myself every morning on my way to work, that today is a day that will never come again. I choose to make it a great day because if you think about it, each day is a miniature lifetime, and you only have one chance to live that particular day. In order to really experience joy, happiness and achieve real and lasting success, we must treat life as a gift, and find ways to give more of ourselves, to be the gift to others and to life itself. A true spirit of giving can transform individuals, organizations, communities and entire societies. Every day is a Gift and a present. Make it count!

Copyright Justin Topik 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Somewhere to Hide From the Storm

Every human being seeks shelter, comfort, a place to hide from the storms of life. As baby chicks are sheltered and protected by the mother hen, we all long to feel safe, secure and protected. We all respond to kindness, mercy, tenderness, love and compassion. It is a normal, healthy, and inborn tendency, or human desire. And though, there are physical safe havens such as our homes, buildings, temples and etc., there are also inner sanctuaries which are just as important. Rumi, a great persian poet said, "Make such a place for your early mornings, seeker of truth, if you're really looking for truth. Build the place with love that has no greed or fear in it. Demons are also at work who trick and prevent us from having such a place. And remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you." I have made it a daily habit to seek refuge in my inner temple, my inner refuge. It is in this place that I find the most inner security.

Bottom line, outer security can always be lost, destroyed or taken away at any given time. On January 1st 2008, my family and I awoke in the middle of the night to a blazing fire which literally consumed and devoured our home. As devastating a blow as this event was, to have our outer sanctuary literally destroyed, I found comfort in the only place i knew to go-my inner sanctuary. It is this place that can never be destroyed by the storms of life, or tragedies, or etc. That is why it is so important to make such a place as this for yourself.

Jesus talked about building your house upon the rock so that when the winds and rain come, it will still be standing. Buddha spoke of making yourself an island. Both of these teachings I believe are symbolic of being firm in spiritual wisdom and peace and maintaining an inner refuge or sanctuary, since earthly things are temporal and can easily be lost or stolen. I would like to share a poem I wrote that goes along perfectly with this subject now. It is called:

Inner Houses

As I was watching my neighbor outside today working on his house, I thought how strange it is that most humans spend so much time building and repairing their outside houses, which are but fleeting and transitory, and so little time constructing their inner world and inner houses, which are lasting and eternal. Such a waste!

Copyright Justin Topik 2000

When you need somewhere to hide and your world is crashing down, seek to find rest and refuge within your soul. Don't reach for substances or temporary uppers to make you feel better. These things will never bring you the peace and comfort you're looking for. Establish for yourself an inner sanctuary that will always be standing, where you can go at any hour to refresh, recharge, to find rest, repose and inner peace. I promise you the investment will be well worth the effort involved. I would be lost and empty without Somewhere to Hide From the Storm.

Copyright Justin Topik 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

What Lights You Up

I will never forget the first time I met Angela. I walked into a Yoga/Meditation center in Nashville, Tennessee, called the "House of Bliss." And there to greet me was this amazingly vibrant being. Her spirit was on fire, literally glowing. There was a lively passion and enthusiasm in her voice. There was this radiant magic about her entire presence. I had heard about people who were this happy, but had never personally, until that day, had the chance to actually meet one of them. I was in awe to say the least. It was a cosmic meeting and event for me! Angela was as her name suggested, an ANGEL with an extra A at the end. She was definitely in her dharma, or following her life's purpose, or bliss. There was no hiding it. It was TOTALLY self evident. I couldn't help but to be inspired to create and experience this kind of zeal, this kind of passion and enthusiasm in my own life. Needless to say, Angela soon became a great friend, role model and mentor to me!

I remember ever since I was young, my mother always told me that no one likes their job. She said I was never gonna find a job that I loved. But, I never really bought into her philosophy. There was something inside of me that could not accept this belief. And meeting Angela that day proved my mother's theory wrong. I am 100% absolutely certain that everyone has passions, things that totally inspire them, things that light them up. I think a lot of people just bury them. It seems from an early age society almost tries to get you to put your dreams aside, to be realistic, to get you to "conform to the norm." But, I have never been one to do that. I have always liked walking my own path, even at the mercy of my families, peers and friends ridicule. My family used to make fun of me all the time for doing what I was passionate about. Looking back now, I think they were just jealous of me because I was actually inspired by something, and none of them ever really pursued anything they were truly passionate about. None of them ever had the drive, the fire, the inspiration that I had, so they tried to put mine out too.

Over the past 15 years of my life, I have done a lot of things I am passionate about. I have always been one to follow my bliss and go against the grain. I don't want to be like everyone else . I don't care what anyone else thinks about me! I have a lot of passion, creativity and different ideas about life, success, happiness and personal fulfillment. I am not afraid to take a different path. And if I can't find one I want to walk, then I will just create my own.

It has taken me a long time to figure out what I really want to do with my talents and creativity. But, I finally have it together, in more ways than one. So for me, what lights me up is studying spirituality and motivational material, writing uplifting, positive and inspirational material, songwriting, recording my music in the studio, creating work shops, seminars and inspirational products. I love to create. And I love to share what I have created with others. That is what lights me up.

So what about you? What gives you that feeling of total joy in your soul? What lights you up and puts that magic in your life? If you bury these things, you bury with them the greatest part of yourself. And as you bury these passions, these things die and the greatest part of you dies along with them. What lights you up is one of the Universes/Great Spirits/God's gifts to you. What energizes you? What gives you that inner zeal, inner enthusiasm to keep going in life? I challenge you to follow those things, to pursue a more authentic experience of life.

You might as well do what you are passionate about, do what lights you up. If you don't, you will always feel a constant nagging in your soul. Also, what lights you up, lights everybody else up too. And ironically enough, when you share these authentic gifts/passions with others, abundance often follows. So, if you don't let your lights shine for everyone else to see, you are taking away from the light and joy that your gifts could offer yourself, others and the whole world as well.

Copyright Justin Topik 2009