Looking Inside for What You Have to Give

To Give, You Must First Have

“To give, you must first have.” is this week’s contemplation. It seems a very obvious thing to state. In this world, if you are going to give somebody a present, you must first have the gift, before you can give it. Though the focus of the contemplation is of “mental” giving, the same rule applies. To offer a thought to someone, it first must be in your mind before you can give it. You have to have it to give it. It must come from you. Even though someone else triggers the thought, you are the source.

We want to make the outside world our “cause” and thus its “effect” becomes its responsibility. That stance is easy for the negative situations – you can be quite comfortable with other people or situations making you upset, but what about the love. What about those loving thoughts don’t they come from the same place?

This contemplation has great power: “To give, you must first have.” I invite you to watch yourself and notice what you give and where it source is located. I invite you to consider taking ownership of your mood, your state of mind. Consider letting go of blaming the world for what is really going on inside of you. Consider that you have the power to change what you give it.

Peace to you.

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To Give, You Must First Have

Hello. I am Ellen Sutherland and here we are, being spiritual.

I thought I would carry on with an idea that I think I have spoken about way back, months ago…about contemplation. I thought it might be fun to pull a contemplation phrase out and see what happens when we play with it, when we work with it, when we use it.

The one I thought that would be really quite powerful is, “To give, you must first have.” Now that is a very obvious thing to say. In our world, if you are going to give somebody a birthday present, first of all you have the gift, wrapped up or not wrapped up; you have to have the gift, before you can give it. This is not really what the focus is here. The focus is if you have a loving thought that you are offering to someone, or if you have joy that you are offering to someone, or are extending, or if you have anger and any of the negative feelings, it first must be in your self before you can give it. You have to have it to give it.

So that is a contemplation that takes you in a lot of directions. Somebody cuts you off in traffic, and you feel so angry at them, so upset with them, and you think, to give that anger, to give that upsetness, I first must have had it inside of me. It must already have been there.

You know that is true because there are times when somebody cuts you off in a line, or butts in – any of those things – and many, many, many times you just look at them and let it happen… it is of no consequence. And then, there are those times when you are in traffic or somebody cuts you off and it is of consequence. Thinking about the fact that the anger was already present, is a very helpful thing. To extend that anger, to give it, it must already have been present within you. You take ownership of your mood, your state of mind. You can’t blame that other person or that other situation for what is really going on inside of you.

It is also great when you find that you are filled with a wonderful state of peace or love or joy or all three of them together, for when you are filled with that, you realize that you are just radiating it like the sun radiates light and heat. You radiate it. So that means, to give it, to give it off, to extend it, it must already be inside of you.

That is a wonderful contemplation. Just be with it- to give you must have, you must first have it. To realize that the times you have been upset, the times you have been triggered by someone, you must already have had the state within you, for that to come out of you.

At the same time, and I have seen this a lot in Reiki, when someone comes for a Reiki session they are upset over some big, deep trauma or some major thing happening in their life – they are feeling very sad. They get Reiki. You put your hands all over their body and give them Reiki energy and balance them out, it balances them out . Then they just exude a sweet peacefulness. Well I didn’t give them peacefulness. Reiki didn’t give them peacefulness. All Reiki did was balance and clear out the fog bank that was overtop of the true state of the person; the true state that we all carry.

Think about this. Watch yourself during the week. Notice. We want to make the outside world our “cause” and then the “effect” is not something we take ownership of. That is fine for the negative beliefs – everyone is quite comfortable with that, but what about the love that you are? What about the love that you are?

The negative state and the love is already present for you to give it. What you want to get rid of is all that negativity, just release it. Own it as yours and let it go. Let it go so that the inner darkness is moved out and…and…what rises up, that you give and radiate, just by being yourself, is already present.

To give it, you must have it.

I hope that is helpful.

Peace to you.

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Another View: Putting Negative Situations into a Broader Viewpoint


Here we are Being Spiritual.

I am going to talk about two things: context and something called re-contextualizing. Don’t let the words put you off. The intention is simply to offer a way of living life from a far broader framework, or perspective, than our particular beliefs usually give us.

Palm_TreeThe context of a situation refers to the part of an event that, when added or left out, changes its fuller meaning and thus our understanding of it. The many experiences of a thing, brought together, in other words, its context, will determine its particular meaning for you. Let me give you an example. Think of a palm tree. Your experiences of the palm tree will pop into your mind. Put that palm tree in a Shopping Center in Greenland and doing so will likely change your initial idea of it, unless you live in Greenland.

Put it in an oasis in the Sahara. Again, this shifts the context. Maybe an oasis is the only place you have known palms to be, and so the context fits for you. Your personal palm tree experience may stand out as a shape, set in flashing neon lights. A shape you saw when visiting your favorite restaurant. When you make that palm two inches high and of green plastic, when you anchor it in a terrarium with an iguana, you have shifted its context yet again. Each shift will give you a completely different view and understanding of a palm tree – expanding the context.. It is more inclusive and broad.

sunset palmYet, when I asked you to think of a palm tree, I was remembering a poem about the palm of a hand, particularly poignant description of a lover waving farewell. My poem further re-contextualizes the palm tree image.

Context is all about how you view a thing. Our personal beliefs keep us locked into certain contexts. It can be extremely helpful to learn to re-contextualize from a spiritual perspective, particularly when engaging in forgiveness.

What does re-contextualizing mean? It means viewing an event, a person or a belief in a broader, more inclusive way. It can also mean a completely different way; by adding further dimensions to the information, the beliefs, and the ideas you already have. Doing so can change and free your point of view.

When you hold a belief about someone or some event, you hold it in a particular context. “My mother never loved me,” for example, is a perspective that freezes her in many “non-loving” situations through the memories you carry. It holds her frozen in those particular events, those you have experienced, those many times you knew her as unloving. In your mind, she is like that artificial palm tree in the terrarium. She has the label “mother,” but not its “true” expression. The context for you is really that mother’s should love in certain and particular ways – ways that yours did not. You believe that mother should mean loving. That is the context you carry with all your experiences of mother. How you keep such beliefs alive and stable is to keep the particular focus of the belief. You can not accept those that do not fit within it.

Now to re-contextualize a situation, a person, an event, you remove your judgments, (green plastic isn’t a palm tree and unloving isn’t mothering), your stances (only trees are palms; she should be different than she is), or your position about it (I thought palms only lived in an oasis; I thought mothers should show love in certain ways).

Re-contextualizing how you view a person is meant to take you out of the rigidity, and the pain of your small dense view, and into the massive and lighter fields of energy. It can take you into acceptance, into peace, and into joy that a compassionate, loving view offers.

I will stick with the example of the unloving mother. Re-contextualizing the relationship between you and your mother offers you another perspective. It will move you out of focusing only on certain individual events and into focusing on the whole relationship. The unloving events, such as she did not attend your graduation, did not hug you when you needed her, always ordered you around, and so forth, are all the small, fixed, “did not love me the way I wanted to be loved situations” that you carry as wounds about her. From that context, you cannot escape feeling resentful, left out, ripped-off. Something is wrong that a mother treats you this way.

Re-contextualize the relationship from the “bad mother” view, to the whole mother view. Now recall all she did do in mothering you. She raised you (she could have dropped you off at the nearest Children’s Aid). She chose to keep you, a mothering thing to do. She worked full time to do so. So she had a full time job and a child(ren) to raise. Hmm, perhaps she was tired during much of her evening, like you are after work. She fed you. She clothed you. She cleaned you and for you. She protected you. She sent you to school. She took care of you when you were sick.

As you broaden your outlook, the memories of kindnesses she offered you – her definition of kindnesses, rather than yours – begin to surface. The “loving mother” you have always had, begins to become obvious. You have moved her out of your fixed context – your “how a mother should mother” context, and put her into what she understands to be her role. It shifts you profoundly when do this with deep sincerity.

Another way to re-contextualize this situation is to pretend to be her, day after day. Pretend to live her life. The “walk a mile in her shoes” context. The willingness to look past your own expectations of her, while imagining living as she did, is life changing.

Another and perhaps the most spiritual re-contextualization, is in realizing that you already have all the love you thought others should give you. Spiritual practice shows you this is true and has always been true.

Putting any life event in a spiritual context is a practice that relieves pain. Each person and situation in your life begins to be an opportunity. You begin to experience the event as an opportunity to remove the blocks to Love. Re-contextualizing is a most powerful tool. And although it seems new, the experience of having something placed in a different context is one we all know. It occurs automatically when we have forgiven our self or let go of our judgments of another.

telescope-microscopeDecide to see differently. Deciding to re-contextualize, to see differently, is enough to pull back your usual contextual view from the situation-by-situation one, to the whole relationship. You offer yourself as full a spectrum as is possible for you. It will teach you how holding situations in your usual particular ways, fixes you to a microscopic viewpoint. Re-contextualizing gives you the telescopic view.

It always is your decision. How do you want to experience life, through a microscope or a Hubble telescope?

Peace to you.

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The Challenge of Forgiveness


What does forgiveness mean? It is letting go of grudges or hurts and guilt’s from the past. It is realizing that every thing, every event in life can be seen to be for your good.

What will letting go of the past give you? Release from guilt, freedom from its hurt – peace and compassion for the errors we all make. I have pieces of memory in me that say, “I’m guilty” and I see that it is time to release it and let it go.

Everything is presented before you to teach you to grow – to teach you to let go. What is buried in your past that carries guilt, regret, upset of some sort? Consider what it is doing to you. Consider that it shuts away your full capacity to love and be at peace.

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Hello. I am Ellen Sutherland. Here we are Being Spiritual.

Months and months and months I have been doing this. It is quite a journey to carry on with a blog. It is not that I am not constantly thinking about my spiritual life and practicing, I am. To articulate it and put it into words and to give it to you back and to offer you some of the things that I’ve learned and that I find important, has been very interesting.

I have spent the last couple of weeks just writing. That has been helpful. I do miss the spontaneity of just looking at you and sharing. So here we are, back again being spiritual.

I want to talk a little bit about forgiveness. Forgiveness is a huge subject. I know in my book

People have said why didn’t you put lots and lots in there about forgiveness. It is because it seems to me that everything in it is about surrender. Surrender is just another word for forgiveness. Loving “what is” is just another phrase for forgiveness. Both of those themes are woven into the book.

Forgiveness. Forgiveness. What does that mean? It seems like such a highfalutin’ idea when you are in the middle of wanting to throttle somebody because they have hurt you. You really believe they hurt you. Or what about the times when somebody’s run over your cat or somebody’s broken your heart. All those events that happen in our life and that we believe are real impact us.

There is a line in spiritual practice where once you cross it, you get it. Everything is for your good. People do not do things to you instead they offer you opportunities to release, to let go, to surrender – to see the world as unreal. But before you get to that line, forgiveness is a big issue.

I was thinking about this topic. I know that there are a number of people in my life, two men in particular. One was a friend, and the other was a husband that I know – i know I am not certain that they have stopped disliking me, or hating me or being angry at me (at the very least.) This was from a long time ago. That is none of my business. Maybe the have, maybe they haven’t. What I realized was, that if I think that, (that I don’t know if they have) inside of me is some guilt. Inside of me is something that says, you really did that awful thing. You really didn’t listen to him or you really did disagree with him and that pissed him off. Whatever. That I have pieces in me about those two people that say, “I’m guilty,” which is before the line that says everything is an opportunity. Everything is presented before you to teach you to grow – to teach you to let go.

And there is the best part of focusing, or learning about forgiveness. There it is. Right there; right there.

One of the pitfalls of being in spiritual life is that we learn all these things – all these things we are supposed to do, supposed to feel. Once we have learned them, they become concepts in our head, and from then on, well we would be guilty if we were caught not doing them. If it were that easy, (to just read about and memorize spiritual tenets) billions of people would be clear. Because billions of people are practicing their spiritual lessons and exercises. They are not clear. It is tough. It is tough. This world seems real. People hurt you it seems real that they hurt you. You hurt others, it seems real that you hurt others. Forgiveness provides an opportunity to say it doesn’t serve me to hold this in my heart. It doesn’t serve me to hold guilt in my heart. For example, am I doing anything for those two people? No. In fact,

I am actually clogging up the energy between us, that should ideally and optimally be love. That is one reason you could look at for forgiving. One reason is that holding resentment/guilt stops your flow of love, whether they did something or you did something to them.

At what point, my brother said to me once (in reference to forgiving a parent) even when they put somebody away for murder it is 25 years…has a time limit. If you have issues inside you that go back to when you were a little kid. Whey you were a little kid and mad at your parents, that’s 20 years down the road, think about it, are they still “in jail” as far as your heart goes? I realize I am still in jail as far as my heart goes; that I have condemned myself by holding on to guilt.

I am willing to deal with that. I don’t want to hold guilt in my heart. I invite you to think about that, work with that idea. Sometimes just thinking about whether you want to hold guilt inside of you is enough to shift that whole energy and make you willing to let it go or at least willing to step on the path that says I’m going to forgive this issue.

I hope that is helpful.

Peace to you.

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