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In our blog, you’ll find information about metaphysics and spirituality from Lazaris and Jach, excerpts from Lazaris recordings and interviews, and travelogues from Jach’s adventures around the world.


Road Trip in Spain #8

Monday, May 7, 2018
Blog: Road Trip in Spain #8

“I love this city!” Those were my first words at the welcome dinner, Sunday, April 8. And it’s true. There is magic in the air in this city. Most large cities that are growing and changing, tend to have an aliveness within the hustle and bustle of city life. They have a dynamism that can be exhilarating or exhausting. I suppose Barcelona has that, but there is something else, something special, unique to its hustle and to its aliveness. There’s a freshness here, an eagerness, and a buzz. Barcelona is a juicy, passionate city, and I love it. Probably my most favorite city: Barcelona.

Enrique and I had arrived on Friday, April 6; a few others had already been in Barcelona or Spain for several days, but we all gathered for the Welcome Dinner at Hotel 1898 Sunday evening. Following an elegant buffet, I made my opening remarks and Lazaris welcomed us all. It was immediately clear: This was going to be an amazing vision quest for each of us and for all of us. Well, all the Lazaris workshops are amazing, but this one will be even more so. I could feel the excitement as people said goodnight and made their way to their rooms. The energy was exalted.

We spent two full days in Barcelona. One day was complete with an excursion: The morning within the exquisitely beauty of Sagrada Familia. I feel it is the most beautiful building, temple, structure in the world. We had a terrific tour guide and also plenty of time to explore on our own or to just be with the beauty. Throngs of tourists, of course, but once you are inside, the beauty is so immense and so intense and so sacred that all the milling people and the din of whispering tourists disappear. I felt delightfully alone in the presence of my soul and suspended in a timeless moment in the sacred beauty that was everywhere. Vast. Mighty. Majestic. I suspect others felt the same. Oh, and the light, oh my, the rainbow of light – luminous colors moving with the movement of the sun – was utterly breathtaking. I could have spent the full day there. I will be back.

We moved on to a classic Spanish lunch. We sat down at 1:30 and ate and talked and drank some wine and talked and laughed and finally pushed back from the table. It was almost 4:00. Satisfied. Full. Determined to “never eat again” or at least until the next opportunity. Tapas anyone? Our excursion continued with a walking tour of the Gothic section of Barcelona. Our evening was free as was the other day in the city, free to explore, free to drink in the marvel, the wonder, and the magic.

It was a drizzly morning when all 95 of us gathered in the lobby. We boarded the buses, arrived at the airport, unloaded the luggage, raced to the group check-in counter, and finally boarded the place for Bilboa, in the heart of the Basque country in northeastern Spain. Back on a bus we rode through the enchanting countryside to San Sebastian. A beautiful drive. Our excitement grew as we passed small villages in the valleys and snapped photos of the wooded mountains and the many waterfalls. The greens were stunning. The richness of the land was grand. We arrived at our hotel in San Sebastian. Registration? Fast and easy. Our luggage? Either it was right there or one of the porters delivered it to our rooms. At 6:30 we were off to an enchanting restaurant for a buffet of typical Basque food. Our excitement grew as were already were basking in the wonder and beauty of this amazing place. Wow. Too simple a word, but an appropriate one.

One major ingredient in all meals in the Catalania and the Basque area, and perhaps in all of Spain, is conversation. It was a lively ingredient of our first evening meal in San Sebastian. Throughout our time here, I noticed that so many of the Pinxtos Bars and Cafes were overflowing with locals, groups of men or men and woman, eating Pintxos and lost in boisterous conversations peppered with laughter. The volume is as intense as the energy but it’s all fun and wonderful. You just join in and become a part of the community and create your own conversations with friends or strangers newly met. It all feels like a celebration of life. It sizzles here in San Sebastian.

The workshop got underway Friday morning but this vision quest began on that Sunday nearly a week before in Barcelona. It was in full swing Sunday, and continued Monday morning and for a full day Tuesday. Tuesday evening we said farewell (fare well) to many who were here only for week one. Wednesday evening we welcomed another group, and the wonder and the magic and the fun continued for another nine days. The first week we worked with the triumph of our personal freedom. The second week we worked with embracing the unfathomable. Each week was breathtaking and stunning. Each week was a pivotale watershed of growing and changing. I would like to say more, but I can’t. The entire experience reach for and touched the unfathomable.

Tomorrow we all make our way back to Barcelona for three nights. The journey continues as the circle ends where it began. Amazing. There are no adequate words.

Yes, I am loving it. We are all loving it.

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Road Trip in Spain #6: The Procession of Alhambra in Granada

Monday, May 7, 2018
Blog: Road Trip in Spain #6: The Procession of Alhambra in Granada

I don’t know what happened. All of a sudden, a rush of energy and tears were flowing down my face. I was laughing. I was overwhelmed with caring and compassion for humankind.

Saturday was Cathedral, museum, and Procession Day in Granada. We skipped breakfast, walked out of the Parador de Granada Hotel at 11:00, and caught the bus down from Alhambra to the Plaza Nueva. From there we walked the side streets toward the Cathedral, and stopped at a tiny pizzeria for a slice – breakfast. We continued along what seemed an alleyway that was lined with little restaurants, bars, and cafés. We rounded a bend, and there was the Cathedral. Grand. Looming, but not majestic. It took more than 180 years to build, and its architecture expresses three different styles. It’s bell tower is shorter than it had been planned – cut off – because the foundation of the building was Gothic while the bell tower was Renaissance. A Gothic foundation couldn’t support the weight of a Renaissance tower.

We waited in line for tickets and marveled at the human statues standing so still waiting for tourists to give them change in exchange for a photo. There was one that I thought really was a bronze statue until Enrique pointed out he was looking at, not a book as I had first thought, but at an iPhone. I gave the guy a big tip for his creativity and got a photograph.

We did the Cathedral tour; I wasn’t impressed although it’s a really significant Cathedral. Second largest (next to the Cathedral in Sevilla) in Spain and it has the authentic tomb of the Catholic Monarchs and the remains of three other Royals, one of which was Michael who would have been king of both Spain and Portugal except he died at age two. His was the small coffin at the side of the tomb.

From the Cathedral we walked to a museum of the Inquisition in Spain, and specifically in Granada. It was fascinating and disappointing. Fascinating because it had a collection of torture devices used in the Inquisition along with vivid descriptions. I was amazed at how sexually “erotic” so many of the tortures were: The prisoner was strapped naked on this device or naked to that device or placed naked in a cage in the public square for all to see. Anal and vaginal probes were used as well as nipple clamps for men as well as for women, and hot pokers were prevalent. These uptight, prudish, and “pure men of Christ” played out their dark sexual fantasies. Reminds me of the pious evangelist who is having an extramarital affair or the Pro-Life zealot who encouraged his mistress to have an abortion. Hypocrisy is timeless I guess.

The museum also had a section about the Jewish population of Granada and how they were persecuted during the Inquisition. For many the Inquisition was inspired as a way to rid Granada of its Jewish population and to punish those Jews who had converted to Catholicism. Ironically, they were considered heretics and had to confess their sins. Their punishment? Often death, but for sure the confiscation of their property and their wealth. Amazing. But I was disappointed because the information around the Inquisition and the Jews was very limited and pretty superficial.

We kept watching the time, well, I kept watching the time, because at 5:00 one of the most famous and beautiful processions – the “Maria, Virgin of Alhambra” Procession – was scheduled to begin. A Procession is a parade with usually two bands and with church participants, many in colorful costumes, and carrying religious symbols and artifacts. Lots of candles and robed men and women. Children too. The focus of the processions is to carry the religious float-statue from the church to the Cathedral. I say float-statue because I don’t have the proper words. It’s a huge life-like statue depicting a scene in Christ’s life especially around the crucifixion and resurrection. Easter. There are often two or more figures on a float, countless candles, other elaborate gold or silver ornaments, and lots of flowers. These statue-floats weight 2,000 to 3,000 pounds.

In this procession on Easter Saturday, it’s two statues – Mary overcome with sorrow as she holds a crucified Jesus. The statues, as with so many others in other processions, were crafted in the 1700s and have been carried to the Cathedral for what seems forever. This procession begins when they open the church in Alhambra. The marching band plays and the participants take their places as the Stevedores (they are the young men who carry the float-statue on their shoulders, Stevedores, that’s what they’re called) leave the church and begin their march to descend through the Gate of Justice, down the switchback narrow roadway, and then on to the Cathedral.

It was 4:00 and we hadn’t eaten since our slice of pizza in the morning. We ducked into a side alley and found a delightful little restaurant for a fast lunch. 4:30, we returned to the street and began walking up to get close to the beginning point of the procession. The procession should begin at 5:00 and it should arrive at the Cathedral at 9:00 -- four hours later -- to travel a distance that would take 30 minutes to walk. The street was filling up as we continued to climb the street to get closer to Alhambra. Finally we found a place and we sat on the stoney curb to wait. It was 5:00. We hear the band playing.

5:45 -- “Hey, it’s Colombia ... no it’s Spain!” The procession finally began. Now I have no particular affiliation with the Catholic Church, and I am not particularly enamored with other expressions of the Christian religion or with any religion. Religious experiences and a personal relationship with God/Goddess/All That Is and with my Soul? Yes. So I am curious and I am enjoying the procession. Many of the marchers wear pointed hoods. They were hoods used by knights in the medieval times. They looked akin to Ku Klux Klan hoods. Spooky. Or like dunce caps. Funny. Others are obviously church dignitaries and elders. They march very slowly, and they stop frequently. The Stevedores are carrying lots of weight, and they have to stop and rest regularly. Suddenly everything stops. No movement for 10, 15, 20 minutes. What’s wrong? People moved into the street to look. Nothing.

Suddenly movement again. Applause begins flowing down the street ahead of the approaching float. The Stevedores, carrying 2,500 pounds on their shoulders, had to kneel down and walk on their knees for 30 feet or more to get the statue through the Gate of Justice! On their knees! A stoney path for 30 feet! On their knees! OMG. Devotion. Responsibility (returning to their promises to God). Stunning.

The statue came along. The statue of Mary in her sorrow was amazing. Without warning tears streamed down my face and I was laughing with joy. Not for the church, but for the honor and responsibility of the Stevedores and joy and caring and compassion for humankind and humanity. It wasn’t about religion, it was about a religious – a re-aligning – experience that transcends form.

I thought I would include a photo of the float-statue, but I didn't. My photographs didn't capture the richness or the beauty. It fell far short of the reality. So no photo.

I came away with understanding beyond accessing, with understanding that involves inference, appreciation, and valuing valuation. These processions have value historically and ritualistically for people of the Catholic faith, but I think they can have value for so many more and for so many other reasons -– reason other than the obvious.

For me, Saturday and the procession was unforgettable and it was life shifting and life changing. More than memorable. Magical.

 

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Road Trip in Spain #5: Alhambra

Monday, May 7, 2018
Blog: Road Trip in Spain #5: Alhambra

A palace, a fortress, a walled community, a self-sustained village, Alhambra was all of this and more. Now a World Heritage Site, Alhambra began as a Sultan’s summer home and governmental palace as well as his homage to Paradise. It was also a strong hold of Muslim power in the Iberian Peninsula for 12 Sultan before the Christian Conquest by the Christian Monarchs, King Ferdinand, along with Queen Isabella, in 1492. The Monarchs worked to preserve and enhance the palace and summer home. They also added to the grounds with their own buildings. Carlos V also worked to preserve the beauty as well as the integrity of Alhambra. He also added his own palace with the ancient walls as a honeymoon gift to his bride, Isabella (a different Isabella). However his palace was never finished and never occupied. It remains unfinished now.

Wednesday: We arrived in Granada mid-afternoon, and after a few wrong turns even with our GPS guide, we found our way to the Parador de San Francisco -- the Parador de Granada. We chose this hotel because it is within the grounds of Alhambra, a plateau in the heart of the city. Of the Paradores we’ve visited, it is the most elegant. It was once a monastery built on the orders of the Catholic Monarchs, where there was once a Muslim palace; remnants of the palace remain. Muslim and Christian architecture are intermingled, and the hotel, with its grand interior courtyard, is now totally refurbished and remodeled with an additional “new section.” Now it’s one of the exclusive hotels in Granada. Our room with a view is in the old section. The hotel is a bit of paradise in its own way.

Before sunset we walked down to the city. Out the Gate of Justice and down a very steep hill, we reached another gate to the city of Granada. The narrow street was lined with shops and small cafés and busy with tourists walking up and down. We continued walking down and arrived at the Plaza Nueva (the New Plaza). We explored a bit and found an outdoor café for tapas and Sangria. As night surrounded us, we could hear the percussion of a distant Easter Procession. In time, we hailed a cab to drive us back to Alhambra. Because of all the Easter Processions during this week, he had to take the long way around. It took 30 minutes to walk down and another 30 minutes to drive back.

Thursday: Yesterday afternoon, we had scheduled a private tour -- the only way to enjoy the rich history of Alhambra --for today. We met our guide, Maria, in the hotel lobby at 2:00. Since our hotel is within the walls of Alhambra, we had a short walk to the vast formal gardens so characteristic of the Muslim style and sensibility. Sculpted shrubbery with low bubbling fountains and water canals embedded in the tile floors create a mystical ambiance of tranquility and peace -- exhilaration and serenity spontaneously. The summer houses and the palace were resoundingly reflective of the Moor and Arabic expressions of beauty. The courtyards held visions of glorious serenity and of peaceful yearnings for the unfathomable of the divine. The words I write are not enough but they are the best I have to describe the wonder of Alhambra.

Our three hour tour lasted 4 hours. Maria, our guide, was gracious and so eager to answer all our questions. She was a sweetheart. The tour was in English, but she was delighted that Enrique spoke Spanish. That reality enhanced our private tour.

A full and fulfilling day was even more. Enriching. Enchanting. Alhambra is almost overwhelming. The beauty of the Muslim art is astounding. The precision, the attention to detail, the symbolism, and the vision all augment the richness of color and light and wonder. Room after room, courtyard after courtyard, fountain after fountain, it is unending.

There is so much that I could say about Alhambra but the thing that stood out for me was how the Muslims and the Sultans created enchanting beauty and the Christians worked to maintain and to enhance that beauty. Even as they destroyed mosques to build their own churches, they didn’t destroy Alhambra. Again the realization: Beauty is eternal. It speaks to our soul and to wherever is divine in each of us, and it speaks throughout the Ages.

Thursday was full. We were fulfilled. Granada is an amazing city. A triumph of beauty.

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Road Trip in Spain #4

Monday, May 7, 2018
Blog: Road Trip in Spain #4

Five days of enchantment. I don’t know how else to describe the last five days after leaving Sevilla. We visited three “Pueblos Blancos” in the Andalucía region. Each village nestled in the foothills dates back to at least 400 A.D., the Roman times. Maybe earlier. Narrow cobbled streets, all of them either ascending or descending, are lined with small houses and in the mix there are now apartments or offices or stores.

We arrived in Arcos de la Frontera (Arches of the Frontier) so named because during the Christian conquests, it was at the border, the frontier, of the battles to conquer the Moors and to push the Muslims out of the Iberian Peninsula. We weaved our way through too narrow streets following the GPS voice as we tried to find our hotel. We came to an arched tunnel. Enrique stopped unsure if he could drive through. We folded in the mirrors, turned off the radio, and didn’t speak as if silence would make our car narrower or the tunnel wider. Creeping through and then a sharp right turn and up a steep incline and there were were at the plateau atop the village, and our hotel, the Parador de Arcos de la Frontera. A sigh of relief.

It was a rainy afternoon but we went walking anyway, and we found a lovely hole in the wall restaurant bar, Taberna de Los Jovenes Flamencos, the Tavern of the Young Flamencos. The service was charming and the food was incredible. We were there for nearly three hours. The drizzle stopped and we made our way up the hill to home, in the morning we continued our exploration before leaving for our second stop.

Grazalema is the tiniest of the towns we visited. High in the foothills, it is the most remote of the three villages. We stayed two nights in a small Bed & Breakfast. We found it by accident as we tried to follow the GPS voice which was directing us the wrong way on one way streets. Suddenly there was a sign and an arrow: half way down a street no wider than 5 feet we saw the open door to La Meyorana! High in the foothills, it was cold and drizzly when we arrived and it rained hard the entire next day. We stayed in.

Glorious sunshine and warming breezes greeted us Sunday morning. We explored Grazalema for half the day before leaving for Ronda. On our way, we spontaneously turned off the road and headed toward Zahara de la Sierra, another White Village. As we drove around a huge lake and then up into the hills to the town, we noticed an ancient tower high above the town.

“I’m not walking up there.,” I said as Enrique parked the car.

We walked the village streets, stopped in the main church, marveled at how elaborate it was for such a small out of the way village, and walked on. As we approached the path that would eventually lead to the tower, I could see it in his eyes and I could see the yearning in his body language. Okay, I would climb the ramps and steps to the tower, but I get points.

Over 200 steps. Yes, I tend to always count steps. As strenuous as it was to walk up, it was more difficult to walk back down. The ancient stones, worn from centuries of walking, were slippery even on this sunny dry day. We stopped for lunch before getting on the road again.

Ronda is the largest of the three villages and the oldest dating back to 300 or 400 B.C. It is also distinguished because of a grand gorge that runs through it. The gorge is breathtaking. Incredible. We visited an estate currently being restored: Casa del Rey Moro -- House of the Moorish King. In the Arabic gardens, there’s a doorway, more like a portal, that descends to the base of the gorge. Yes, we walked down the spiraling stone steps, wet with condensation. 230 steps down and we were at water’s edge. Beautiful descent. Beautiful destination. Lots of photos. The return was arduous. OMG.

I kept telling myself: “Michelle did it; I can do it.”

At the entrance to the Casa, there were photographs of Michelle Obama’s visit, along with their daughters, to Ronda and to the Casa and to the Cave.

Ronda was a Roman city, then a city of the Moors, and then a city conquered by the Catholic Monarchs. In the 1800s into the 1900s it was a city of poets and writers, now it’s a thriving tourist city and it’s rich with enchantment. We were there Monday and Tuesday, and we could have stayed on for several more day, but Granada was calling.

There is a powerful sense of peace in the White Villages. The rolling hills covered in brilliant yellows of mustard plants and stunning greens of newly sprouting wheat, and dotted with olive trees and strewn with boulders left over from the prehistoric glacier age, create a bold backdrop for the scattering of white houses with red tiled roofs. There is something ageless, perhaps eternal, and it touches you. Well, it touched us. As we drove along we would spontaneously look at each other and smile, or I’d reach out or Enrique would reach out and we clasp hands. No words. We just knew.

Each village was different -- different energy, different character, different level of awareness, each with a strong sense of integrity -- even though they look alike. The tourists were there, mostly from England or France or Germany. Few Americans. But the locals were there, too. Strong, present, unyielding. These were their villages, their homes, and they were willing to share them. For a while. We were in the region for five days visiting three, no four, White Villages. Then it was time to move on, but I suspect we will be back someday. I think our souls will call us to return. For now, it is on to Granada.

 


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Roadtrip in Spain #2

Thursday, May 3, 2018
Blog: Roadtrip in Spain #2

We bought our tickets late Sunday night. We had slept most of the morning adjusting to the six hour time change. It was sunny, brilliant sun, luminously bright, and crisp, refreshingly crisp, sharp, when we began wandering Metro Centro in Madrid. Our first stop was Plaza del Sol and as we were walking into the vast open space the name was obvious. There were hundreds of people strolling through the plaza, a Mariachi Band was playing by the central statue as perhaps 200 people, families with kids and pets, looked on. Enrique stopped to get a Sim card so he could stay in touch with the world, and then we checked our map and headed off to walk the narrow streets. I’ve mentioned it before, I am enamored with the architecture of the apartment buildings that line the narrow streets. There aren’t any daring designs like the Gaudi designs in Barcelona, but there is something that speaks to me. I suppose that something speaks to my soul. As I walk along I look up. I stop. “Oh, my isn’t that beautiful?” I say out loud to myself. The words tumble out. Goosebumps. Then I move along.

We ended up at the Plaza Mayor and then to the San Miguel Mercado again. This time we stayed.

With a glass of Rioja in hand, we went looking for a space to sit. There are long rows of tables with stools lining both sides. Young, old, families with babies in strollers, groups of friends huddled together laughing, all sorts of individuals and groups, mostly tourists from all over the world, gather to enjoy the tapas and tasty treats. Once we found a place, one stool and then another stool, we took turns going off to explore. Enrique would come back with some surprises, we‘d eat them, and then I would go off. I found a Paella stand with six or seven variations. Enrique stopped at the Olive Bar. Amazing “Olive Kebobs.” I had to go to the Mozzarella Bar. It took me a while to find it. The eating was fun but it was the sitting there amid the flow of people that made Sunday afternoon and evening in Madrid special. After three hours, we were ready to leave but first Enrique went looking for a special dessert to share. “Milhojas” -- a thousand leaves -- which is a delicate dessert of flaky pastry filled with lush cream.

We quietly walked back to our hotel. We stopped to talk to the Concierge. We bought tickets to the Prado Museum for Monday.

It was drizzly. A perfect day for museums. With tickets in hand, we walked past the very long line of people waiting, and were shaking off our umbrellas and moving through security in no time. We entered the main hall. The Prado is huge. Second largest museum in the world next to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Wow. We turned around and went looking for a guide, not just the recorded tour, but a live person. We had a wonderful four hours at the Prado. We went back to our hotel to rest a while and then we went out walking again.

We had wanted to go to the Reina Sofia Museum but as we looked at our map, it seemed too far away. So just went walking the narrow streets again. Can never do that too much. Before we realized it, we were only a block away from the Reina Sofia. It’s a beautiful museum. The main building was once a hospital and now it’s a museum of eclectic art with an emphasis on Modern Art. We focused on Cubism. Why? Well, it was close to where we had entered, but once we went into the first exhibition hall, we focused on Cubism because it was an intriguing exhibit.

It was 8:00 when we returned to the street and to our walk. We had dinner plans with friends. We would meet at 9:15. Our friends are Colombians living here in Madrid. Mario, is a marvelous chef and owner of two very successful restaurants in the Metro Centro area of the city. His husband, Juan Pablo, a relative of Enrique’s, is a very successful architect. We had dinner at “Hortencio.” Only Juan Pablo, Enrique, and I sat at the table. Mario was busy preparing an incredible meal for us. A delicate Morel Mushroom soup, Morel Mushrooms garnished with foie gras or egg (egg for me), and I had “La Soup aux Trufa,” which Mario prepared as an homage to the deceased famous French Chef, Paul Bocuse, who first presented this soup on February 25, 1975. It was delicious beyond words. Enrique had a tender lamb dish that was sensational. A dab of Pistachio ice cream added the exclamation point to a culinary delightful evening.

The day was full, and it was wonderful. In the morning we’d be off to Sevilla.

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Roadtrip in Spain #1

Thursday, May 3, 2018
Blog: Roadtrip in Spain #1

Bumper-to-bumper movement or none at all, we were caught in a traffic jam at the Yumbo Roundabout on our way to the airport in Cali, Colombia. We arrived just as our flight was scheduled to leave. My cellular buzzed with an announcement. Our flight was also delayed. Mechanical trouble, a new plane was en route. Mechanical trouble or magic? I dispelled my building anxiety with a smile.

From Cali to Bogotá with a four hour layover that became two and a half hours, we were off on our overnight to Madrid. We disembarked at 1:30 Saturday afternoon. Friday afternoon we were caught in traffic and less than 24 hours later we were in Madrid. I know it’s a cliche but travel still fascinated me. Thanks to many moving sidewalks, escalators, and trains, we move from gate to immigration and then to baggage claim easily. Waiting for luggage, my anxieties always stir. Today they were broken by a voice.

“Are you from Cali?” I turned to see a young woman with a beautiful smile standing there with who appeared to be her mother.

“Yes.” Maybe I said, “Sí,” not sure.

“I think you’re our neighbor.” She speaks excellent English; very little accent. I wished my Spanish had been that good. “You have two Vizslas, right?”

“Yes! Abbie and Lucas!”

There is only one other Vizsla in our neighborhood. It’s hers. We each knew each other’s dogs -- our kids -- now we met face to face at baggage claim in Madrid. What a world. It was a nice wink as our journey got underway. Rental car picked up, GPS’ed to the hotel with only one missed turn and route correction, and we were resting in our room. After just resting a few hours, knowing better than to go to sleep in the daylight, we bundled up, it was in the low 50’s out there by 6:00 p.m., we headed out walking.

I find Madrid to be a fascinating city, more than most. There is something in the resonance, in the lay of the land, in the architecture of the buildings, in the green trees that line the streets and fill the parks, and in the energy of the people, that is mysterious and intriguing at the same moment. I just love walking the streets and just love looking, looking at everything. It fills me; I feel alive as I walk and look and listen. I think there just might be a common denominator of caring. I don’t think everyone cares about this city, but I think enough people do care, and care with a Latin sense of immediacy and passion, that it makes a difference. Madrid is a different city. Sure there’s some graffiti on the walls of vacant buildings or run down doorways, but not much. Otherwise the streets and the buildings and the windows are amazingly clean. There is a pride along with the caring and I think that matters.

We walked along these delightfully narrow stone slab streets. They are wide enough for single lane car traffic by day but in the evenings pedestrians take them over. Oh, occasionally cars come, but they move meticulously slow and with great caution. People own the streets as the sun sets. Street lights and shop lights and restaurant lights fill the night along with the chatter and laughter of hundreds of people coming alive and filling the nights.

Along the way, we encountered a group of men practicing for an upcoming Easter procession. During Semana Santa -- Easter Week -- there are many parades or processions where people carry huge religious statues for miles and miles. So they practice ahead of time. There were six rows of men. Four per row. They were marching slowly and in precision with each step in unison. They had a wood platform resting on their shoulders. On top of the platform were concrete blocks with a total weight equal to that of the statue they will carry during Semana Santa. See the accompanying photo.

It was early. We walked and meandered for almost an hour making our way along those narrow walkways through several plazas until we reached Plaza Mayor. It’s famous. A tourist attraction. And it’s still grand and majestic and warm and friendly. We found a restaurant and had an easy dinner of tapas and sangria. It was 10:15 when we walked out into the Plaza again. The night was now fully underway. Restaurants were full. Outdoor cafes under blazing gas heaters were full. Rapid fire talking and laughter and an occasional shrill laugh, the night was sizzling.

We walked through the Plaza to the San Miguel Mercado on the far side. Also famous. Also a destination for most tourists, and also a must stop place. It was after 10:00 and people were streaming out. We thought they must be closing.

Oh no. No way were they closing. The places was abuzz with hundreds of people. Four deep standing around a wine bar here or a sangria bar over there. People carrying plates piled high with tapas or other hors d’oeuvres were weaving their way through the jam of people. No, no one was closing. The night had just begun.

San Miguel Mercado is not a farmer’s market or a grocery store. It is an enclosed building with hundreds of vendors: I saw a Mozzarella Bar selling countless culinary treats with mozzarella and buffalo mozzarella, and each was an intricate creation. There were all sorts of tapas vendors, and salad vendors, and ... there was one display of tapas made with olives, just olives of all kinds, olives adorned with all kinds of delicacies.

We slowly made our way through the growing crowds of people. Everyone was smiling, laughing, celebrating, and eating. To me, this is Madrid. This is Spain. As we left the market and walked back through Plaza Mayor, we realized we’d left our street map in the restaurant. We used it to find our way to the Plaza and Market. We were on our own to walk back. A few wrong turns, but soon enough we were at our hotel. We stopped in the lounge for a night cap. Our first day of our road trip complete, now we could go to bed.

 

 

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Asia Excursion 4

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Blog: Asia Excursion 4

4:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. I am lying on a futon with a hard pillow behind my head and a thick down comforter covering me. There is a chill in the air. Sweet. To my right there is a wall of window. In the predawn light, the window frame seems a picture frame that’s framing a Japanese wood block print. Dark gray sky, white cloud mountains and silhouetted trees, stark as if they had been cut out of black construction paper. Beautiful harbinger of the day to come.

Monday was our final day in Tokyo. We went to the Senso Ji or Asakusa Temple. We arrived at the temple gate at 11:00 and it took us 90 minutes to finally enter the actual temple. The walkway and the side streets are lined with hundreds of tiny tourist shops, and there were thousands of people milling about. It was great fun. We bought chop sticks and I bought some postcards. The temple is a Buddhist Temple and the oldest one in Tokyo. The surrounding area is “old Tokyo” offering a view of what Tokyo once was. Enchanting. Charming.

I felt more at home here. Not sure why. It was crowded, hectic, and loud . . . very different than the Meiji Shrine with its elegant and majestic grounds. Anyway, I had a great time at the Temple and I really enjoyed walking the narrow streets of the surrounding neighborhood. We continued strolling those narrow street until we found a wonderful lunch place, “Goroku,.” We had what we called Japanese Tapas. I had Assorted Tempura, Pork Rolls, Crab Coquettes, along with a glass of red wine. Everything was delicious. Ready to go again, we continued walking the area and finally caught a taxi to head to another part of town for the evening.

40 minutes later we were in a glitzy part of town called Kabukicho in the area called Shinjuku. Bright colorful neon flashing lights. Young, fast paced, alive. Street barkers encouraging people to eat at this restaurant or to take in that show. The taxi driver got us as close as he could and it was fun walking the pedestrian streets looking for “Robot Restaurant.” Up this street, down that one, turn left there and then right, we finally found it. Huge sign nearly 30 feet long. Wow.

We went to the Robot Restaurant for the show. It is not a restaurant and as it turned out it wasn’t really a show, or at least not something I would call a show. It was the worst “show” I’ve ever seen. The only saving grace was that it was so bad that it was funny, and I was curious to see just how bad it would be. How bad was it? The bottom.

As we left I smiled and thought about how our universe, a reflection of something more real, expresses itself as a duality. We have experiences the ups, and now the downs of Tokyo. It’s time to move on.

Tuesday morning we had gone to Tokyo Station and waited on Platform 17 to take the noon Bullet Train to Kyoto. We arrived mid-afternoon at our hotel — Gion Hatanaka Ryokan. A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese county inn. This one is beautiful. Minimalistic in design with an elegant ambiance. We had a traditional Japanese dinner served in our room. Several courses, each a work of art as well as a delicious dish — haute cuisine of nine courses. Beautiful. After dinner our server set up the futon beds, and we went down to the public baths on the lower level of the Ryokan. We will move to a Western hotel today but we wanted to have one night at a place like this.

It’s now 7:30 a.m. I am still looking out my window. My “Japanese Wood Block” painting has shifted now to become a lush green morning with a soft blue sky. There’s a rainbow arching between the trees. Yes, a beautiful day to come. Our Japanese breakfast will arrive at 8:30 and we will discover what the days holds.

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Arrival in Tokyo

Monday, November 7, 2016
Blog: Arrival in Tokyo

What was that amazing smell? It was seductive for sure. I made my way through the Food Court at Mitsukoshi, the department store in the Ginza area of Tokyo. It was the bread department and the scent of warm fresh bread was almost overpowering. I had never smelled such sensational smells. Amazing. Sensuous scents. The experience on this Friday afternoon was definitely enhanced by the whole of the food court. It wasn’t like food courts in the US. No Burger King or pizza place or even a noodle shop. The foods were prepared as works of art. Usually I don’t take many photos and I seldom take photos of food. This was an exception.

Enrique and I had been planning our Asia Excursion for nearly a year. Initially it was my idea and I suggested that we invite Peggy, Enrique’s mother, to join us. Over the months, what began as a cruise of Malaysia that started and ended in Singapore and included Viet Nam and Thailand grew into visiting Bali again. Of course. We’ll stay at the Komaneka at Bisma again and we will have a day tour with our favorite Balinese guide from the last time. Of course. Oh, and yes, we need to spend some time in Hong Kong. It was late in the planning that we added Japan — Tokyo and Kyoto. We sneaked it in ahead of Hong Kong and our excursion began November 2 — a few days after the San Francisco Bay Area intensive.

The workshop ended Sunday, October 30. We stayed on at the Pullman Hotel because on November 1 Lazaris would be recording an online workshop to be released before year’s end. We finalized our packing that evening and we flew from SFO to Tokyo on Wednesday, November 2, at 4:00 p.m. and we arrived Thursday evening in Tokyo. It was an 11 hour flight with a 16 hour time change, and it was also an elegant way to begin our six week excursion.

From time to time I will be posting messages here. Today it’s food. The horizons will expand but I just couldn’t help it. I had to send off these photos.


 


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Learning To Have Fun and Consciously Creating Success

Thursday, November 12, 2015
Blog: Learning To Have Fun and Consciously Creating Success

By Lazaris

The Two Major Focuses of Every Lifetime ...

When Lazaris has spoken of Life Focuses he has always said that people have seven of them in every lifetime, varying from person to person and from lifetime to lifetime, depending upon what they want to be doing any particular time. There are two focuses, however, that are part of every lifetime we have: Learning To Have Fun and Learning To Consciously Create Success. This excerpt from Lazaris Interviews: Book II (out of print) is about these two, which are always part of every incarnation.

Learning To Have Fun

"What is the purpose of life? ... What is my task? Why am I here? ... Why am I physical? What is my mission?"

You are haunted by this desire to know. Deep within your brain stirs the thought that if you just knew the answer to one of these questions, then everything else would make sense. Your heart echoes with feelings that a satisfactory answer would make everything ... absolutely everything ... all right.

Your purpose, your mission, your task -- or, as we prefer to say, your focus -- can be stated with disarming ease. The prime reason you are here: To learn to have fun.

Yes. That's it. You are here to learn to have fun! You have created a physical form and a physical world to put it in. You have created all of your reality to give yourself the opportunity to learn -- to learn to have fun.

The critics and detractors pounce upon that statement as proof of the shallowness and hedonism of the New Age. They either get angry at the apparent lack of social responsibility, or they dismiss the idea as the emptyheaded "fad philosophy" of this yuppie "sport" called the New Age.

Many who consider themselves part of the alternative spirituality of the New Age want the purpose, the task, the mission to be more serious or to at least sound more spiritual. Missions should be loftier. A purpose of connecting with your Higher Self or becoming one with the Source sounds much more reasonable. It sounds much more valuable and viable.

At first glance, these criticisms seem to have merit. Upon further investigation the kind of fun we are talking about, the kind of fun you are attempting to learn, is valuable and totally viable. We are talking about the kind of fun derived from accomplishing the lessons you have selected to experience and fulfilling the destinies you have chosen to explore. Your spiritual focus -- your spirituality -- is all about your living, breathing, loving, embracing relationship with God/Goddess/All That Is. This is what learning to have fun is all about.

Your purpose, mission, task -- your focus -- is not only about achievement; it is also about the means of achieving. It is not just about succeeding -- it is also about the way in which you succeed. You can grow through the struggles and hardships of life. Some of you needed to do that. Some still feel the need to struggle and suffer. However, you also have the choice to grow through the love and the laughter.
Which is going to be more fun? Both of them will "get you there," but which is going to be more fun? Everyone, regardless of their spirituality or their claimed lack of it, has the same purpose, task, mission, the same focus: Learning to have fun.

Certainly the desire to reach a heaven, whether it is a literal place or a state of mind, is a desire to have fun. Certainly a desire to connect with your Higher Self or with the Source is a desire to have fun -- a postponed desire perhaps, but still a desire to have fun. For the Christian, certainly being on the right side of the rapture is a goal of having fun. No matter how much struggle you think is required -- no matter how painful the path you decide you must have, the goal, the culmination of your learning, is to reach a state of peace. Peace. That's fun!
There are four keys to understanding this primary focus.
First, learn. The focus is not just "to have fun" -- it's to learn. It is: To learn to have fun. Learning means recognizing and acknowledging that you are the creator of all the possibilities, probabilities, and actualities of your reality. It involves figuring out what you did "right" and "wrong." Learning to have fun means being responsible for what "works" in your life. It means figuring out the "why's" and the "how's" of reality creation so that the fun you have is the fun you know you created. It is self-generated fun. You never have to wonder if it will last, because you create it -- you are the source of the fun, then the happiness, and finally the joy you are having in your life.

Second, define. Define fun continuously. Fun is not static. Being fluid, it always changes. When you were six, you had very distinct ideas of what a fun day was all about. Now those same ideas would seem ridiculous. Your current concepts of fun are unique. As you unfold your future, your current pictures of fun will also change. It is vital that you define and redefine what you mean by "fun" and what you mean by having it.

Third, balance. Despite the parental "tape-loops" inside your head mumbling something about beds that you must sleep in and cakes you cannot eat, it is important to balance. It is up to you to choose and decide not only what's fun, but when it's fun. For some, a "pizza and a six-pack" may not only sound like a fun idea -- at the time, it might be the essence of fun! Yet, at another time it would be the antithesis. It is up to you to balance the long-term fun and the short-term pleasures. It is up to you to distinguish among the inner-child's, adolescent's, young-adult's, and the spiritual adult's sense of: "What's fun?"

Learning to have fun is not just about being at the right place at the right time, knowing where the best parties are on a Friday night, or about knowing the right people. It is about learning, defining, and balancing self-generated fun. It is about creating your own reality and being positively responsible for that creation.

Fourth, deserve. The final key to understanding the prime focus of having fun is also the major blockage to its fulfillment.

You can learn, define, and even balance what is fun for you. You can process and program. You can work with a myriad of techniques. You can be responsible and enjoy the power implicit within that responsibility. You can learn and work through the psychological and metaphysical obstacles that separate you from the reality you ask for.

However, if you don't think you deserve, all the above are intellectual exercises fast becoming exercises in frustration and futility. The lack of deserving permeates your beliefs and attitudes, your thoughts and feelings, and your choices and decisions. You do not feel you deserve. A primary focus that seems easy enough to accomplish has just been moved out of reach. Because it is beyond your belief and therefore your choice, "you can't get there from here."
There are several powerful reasons why deserving is outside the belief-choice matrix.
1. You were taught. You were taught by parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, and peers that you do not deserve -- especially you do not deserve to have fun. These sources of learning were not necessarily ill-intentioned. Much of what they taught you was what they learned and what they thought would "protect" you from a world they didn't understand and therefore a world that seemed to be "the enemy." They did not want you to get your hopes up and have them dashed. They did not want you to get hurt, so they taught you that you did not deserve. Sometimes, they were ill-intentioned. Out of jealousy, possessiveness, and fear, some did intend to imprison you in their limitations. Whichever, you were taught, and you can "un-teach" yourself now.
2. You are haunted by angers, hurts, and resentments of the past. Separate from what you were innocently or maliciously taught, many are followed by the specter of the past. As a child you were so angry you wished your mother was dead. You numbed your hurt with hate. You harnessed the anguish with resentment. Lonely, you punished yourself. You decided you did not deserve to be happy. Ever! You still live by that decision. You are haunted by the past.
3. You feel guilty. The guilt you may feel can be sourced in fact and fantasy, or it can be unsourced in the belief that you are guilty just by being alive. Perhaps you were taught; perhaps you were conditioned. Now you feel guilty. According to you, you do not deserve. The possibility of happiness, the possibility of having fun, is frightening. It is a threat. This is where your lack of deserving lies if you find yourself feeling guilty when things go wrong and even worse -- guiltier -- when things go right. Are you constantly apologizing for being here -- for being alive?
4. You are caught in a "catch-22" of deserving. You come to realize that the lack of deserving is the problem. You are eloquent and articulate about all the reasons you don't deserve. You have even worked at relearning what the inner-child erroneously learned. You have released the haunting angers, hurts, resentments, and you have freed yourself from guilt. Yet you still don't feel you deserve. Why?

Because, you tell yourself, if you deserved, you'd have figured it out long ago! You say you don't deserve because you still feel undeserving. You continue by telling yourself that if you were a person who was meant to feel deserving, you would have done it already. Wrapped in a negative ego of, "I'd hate to admit it," you are caught in a "catch-22" reality.

Often, there is a feeling of foolishness: "I should already know this. I should already have done this." Believe us, you will only feel more foolish to wait even another month. If you feel foolish now, how much more foolish are you going to feel a year from now?

Admit your foolishness and your embarrassment. Break the "catch- 22" by realizing you are not alone. Everyone feels the lack of deserving. It is part of your human condition. It is part of what you are learning through the lens, through the focus, of learning to have fun.
5. You are depressed. Depression is anger that you fear you will get in trouble for having. Many who are depressed in their marriages or relationships are often angry, but fear reprisals should they talk about it. Many who dread going to work because their jobs depress them are really saying they are angry, but actualization carries intolerable consequences. The anger that seeds depression can build over many months or many years, or it can come from quick and sudden change. One of the ways you suppress -- repress -- depress -- that anger is by denying fun. You deny it by refusing it, or by choosing to believe that it is outside the realms of possibility or probability. Either way, it is beyond your reach.
6. You lack perfection. You have made mistakes, and you have not forgiven yourself. Perhaps you are waiting for others to forgive you or to apologize to you. Perhaps you have decided that you are unforgivable. Whatever you tell yourself, you have concluded that you do not deserve to have fun. Erroneously, you have decided that you can have fun once you are perfect, and not before. Since you already have made a mistake, you are doomed. If you can discover the arrogance rather than feel the self-pity of this position, you can be free of it.
7. You decided you do not love "good enough." Like the lack of deserving you were taught, many of you have concluded that you simply do not love "good enough." In many situations, the Human Potential Movement and the ensuing metaphysics have fostered that conditioning. Many have decided that humankind as well as they, individually, have a fatal flaw -- an original sin of sorts -- of an inability to love. Because they can't love, or can't love "good enough," they do not deserve anything -- especially, they do not deserve to have fun. Nor, according to them, does anyone else.

We realize we have not offered concrete solutions and resolutions to these obstacles to your deserving. Knowing what stops you -- knowing the hurdles and where they are -- can be the first step in finding your own solutions.

Having fun is not the glib and shallow concept so many want to think it is. It sounds simple enough, yet your reality belies that suspected simplicity. After so many lifetimes, fun and learning how to have it seem as elusive as ever.

Having fun involves learning to create your reality, defining the means and the ends you wish to achieve and acquire, balancing the future and the present against the backdrop of the past, and most of all it involves allowing yourself to feel, and then be, deserving.
Learning To Consciously Create Success

The other essential purpose, mission, or task -- or, as we call it, focus -- is as important and as illusive as the first. The second focus: To learn to consciously create success.

You see, it is not just about being successful. It is about learning. It is about being conscious. It is about defining exactly what success is for you.
Creating your own reality is something you do whether you are conscious of it or not. Everyone consciously creates their own reality. Some, lost in the labyrinth of ignorance or naivete, do not know it. Others, caught in the web of fear and ridicule, deny it. Many, trapped in the paralysis of being in potentia, wish it were true. Regardless, you do create your own reality.

Conscious creation of reality is how you function. Conscious creation of success is where you focus.

We do not want to examine the entire arena of creating success. That has been done. The bookshelves of your reality are replete with the "how-to's" of success.

We want to plant seeds of consideration to help you more clearly understand what success really is for you, and how to more concretely be able to consciously create it for yourself. To begin, we must look at what success isn't. Many of you don't really know what success is. It is one of those concepts that you are supposed to "just know." Potential humiliation overrules curiosity. Without clear understanding you continuously seek and never find success.

In lieu of clarity you accept the consensus reality definitions thinking that success means greater intelligence, more deserving, and "better than." You assume success entails competing with others and conquering scarcity. Success is concomitant with perfection in action and intention.

Initially, this sounds acceptable -- even preferable. In time, you realize that you are not meeting these standards. No matter how intelligent you are, there are those who are smarter. You don't feel deserving. No matter how persuasive you are, no matter how many others you convince, you cannot convince yourself that you deserve -- that you really deserve. No matter how tightly you hold on to your "better thans," they keep slipping through your fingers. Competing and conquering are not only exhaustive, they're boring. You are not perfect. You are not perfect. No, you're not.

To stop the erosion, you simplify your consensus reality definitions. Success means having more and better than, being more and better than, doing more and better than. Success means more ... !

Shuddering at the prospect of failure, you take a deep breath, you steel yourself, and you dive in again. Rather than realizing that the definitions are incorrect, you try again to make them work for you. Some will spend their whole lives on this merry-go-round reaching for a brass ring that isn't there. Never was, never will be.

"Um-pa-pa, Um-pa-pa." There is no end. What success you do create feels like a fluke that can be snatched away at any moment. As much as failure is painful, success is more frightening. There is not real success on the merry-go-round.

Some reluctantly get off the carousel by being knocked off with the hard edge of failure. They judge, punish, and conclude that they are no good. They feel and are convinced that they "blew it - - it's too late."

Then there are those who are forced off the carousel by getting caught in the soft voice of self-delusion or by getting lost in the mirrored maze of grandeur. They convince themselves that they have met the criteria. The euphoria is eventually replaced with the haunting hollowness: "Is this all there is?"

A few, a very few, consciously climb off the merry-go-round by releasing the consensus reality definitions. Admitting that they do not know what success is, they then search for new meaning and create their own definitions of success -- of their success.

The most effective way to define success in a way that the definition can be your definition, is to lay forth the core -- the backbone -- the backbone of what success is. The skeleton of success is just that: a skeleton. You must give it life by adding the flesh and blood, the muscle and nerve, and the thinking and feeling of success. You must breathe life into these pieces of the puzzle called success.

Not surprisingly, there are seven basic components to being successful. You all know these seven pieces of the puzzle. Often, you just don't know how they fit together.

1. First is power. The most elegant definition of power is the ability and the willingness to act. Power, in truth, has nothing to do with intimidation, control, or manipulation. It has nothing to do with the desire or the attempts to overpower.

"Power" has become a euphemism for fear. When you confront a scary person you often call them powerful. When you encounter a powerful person you often call them scary! Very strange.

True power is being both able and willing to choose and decide, and to act on those choices and decisions. It is being able and willing to think and feel and act on those thoughts and emotions. It is being able and willing to admit to having attitudes (opinions, evaluations, and discernments) and beliefs and then acting consciously on those attitudes and beliefs.

2. The second puzzle piece is creativity and productivity. Creativity is generating and stimulating conception and perception in yourself and/or in others. Creativity is not defined by career or label. The artist and the non-artist, by whatever definition, are creative if they generate and stimulate conception and perception.

Levels of productivity are measured by the amount you learn about yourself. Whatever you are doing, if you learn a great deal about you and who you are, then it is productive. If you learn little or nothing, then it is nonproductive. Productivity is a quality, not a quantity.

3. Then there is awareness, and there is aliveness. Many look for lofty esoteric meanings for these two concepts. In their search they lose sight of success. To be aware, concisely, means knowing you have impact. Some believe that it is impossible to have impact on each other. Yet others will concede and deal with impact. Whether they are supposed to have it or not, they actually do have impact on the people around them. Regardless, everyone agrees that you have impact, at least on yourself. When you know this -- really know this -- you become aware.

When you combine four very special ingredients, something very special happens. You create the synergy of aliveness. Synergy means the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and in this case the aliveness is more than just equal parts of love, trust, expectancy, and enthusiasm.

To become really alive it is important to combine the flexibility and fluidity of love with the fragility and rigidity of trust. Then it is vital to stir in the wonder of expectancy and the sparkle of enthusiasm. Mix well. Be alive.

4. Happiness is the fulfillment of your needs. Joy is the fulfillment of your preferences. Enjoyment is the elegance with which you do both.

5. Many make the mistake of assuming that success means having resources. In truth, success means having access to resources. There are those who have money, but no real access to it or to what it can buy them. They do not experience success. Others have loads of access to money as their only resource. They often experience limited or shallow success. The truly successful person will have expansive access to physical and metaphysical resources. Success is within the grasp of anyone who can close their eyes, alter their state of consciousness, visualize, and manifest in their reality. If you are willing, each of you has unlimited potentials for success.

6. Critical to being successful: the willingness to adventure.

In your "old age" world you learn to be a warrior. You learn to confront, to battle, to conquer, and you dominate. In the "New Age" world you can learn to be an adventurer. You can learn to encounter, to understand, to befriend, and to transmute with dominion. Consciously created success involves - integrally involves -- being willing to adventure in your reality and in your world.

7. Dominion is an attitude and a belief. Dominion is a point of view. When you are willing to co-create your success with God/Goddess/All That Is rather than expecting someone to do it for you, you are on your way. When you are willing to stretch and reach for the future rather than grovel in the past, you begin to feel the excitement and the wonder of dominion. when you are able to see and demonstrate that first your world -- and then the world-at-large -- is a friendly place ready to support you rather than out to get you, then you have dominion.

With dominion, you have the final piece of the puzzle called success.

The secret of being successful -- of learning to be successful? Begin by owning each of the seven puzzle pieces as an attitude first. Feel. Feel powerful, creative/productive, aware/alive. Feel happiness and joy in an enjoying way. Feel that you have access to resources, a willingness to adventure. Feel dominion.

Do not expect to be successful first and then to have the feeling. Feel it first. Feel it first.

Do not aim at being successful. Do not make success the bull's eye of your target. Don't "shoot for success." Ironically, the secret to consciously creating success is not to make it the central target of your desire, expectation, or imagination. Rather, accomplish the means. Aim to be powerful, creative/productive, etc. Aim at the means and allow the ends to follow.

Don't shoot for the ends. Accomplish the means, The ends will follow.

With love and peace ... LAZARIS


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