Tag Archive | Emmet Fox

The end of suffering

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, but the timing hasn’t been right. Today it felt right, so here I go. Two years ago Jack and I almost split up. We had a major crisis in our marriage that, instead of pushing me out the door or shutting me down emotionally, opened my heart and allowed me to see how I had contributed to the breakdown of our relationship. Within a day of the crisis, I made a decision to fearlessly look at myself, and begin to make the changes that were necessary.

This summer things came to a head, and to an end. I cannot say anything more about the particulars, only that Jack and I had different ideas about what constituted a working relationship/marriage.

We’d been married for almost 17 years and even though there were so many times I knew things were not good or right, I kept thinking that if I tried harder or wasn’t so difficult, then I could make our marriage a good one. I was suffering and confused about why I couldn’t make it work…and I didn’t want to get divorced again. Divorce felt like a failure, and I’d already been married twice before. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned that here. It was something that I’d been ashamed of. Who gets married, and divorced, three times? Me.

My fear wasn’t only about looking and feeling like a “looser”, I had financial fears as well and fears that my family would look at me and say something like, “Oh my goodness (they probably wouldn’t say, “goodness”) Mom/Mary, how could you do this again?”

These fears kept me paralyzed. I kept trying to turn off (and shut up) my guidance that was persistently saying, “Things are not right here”.

Then one day this summer, I told someone in my family what was going on in the marriage, and that I thought I was going to leave. She looked at me and started to laugh and cry. Then she said, “Thank God!”

“What?” I thought, “Can I be hearing her right?” Over the next week, as I told more family members, and got similar reactions, I had the startling revelation that all of those critical, judgmental, thoughts were my own. Honestly, I knew that I felt this way about myself, but my mistake had been in thinking that other people felt the same and saw me in the same very critical light. The opposite of my “worst fear scenario” began to play out. Love and support seemed to come to me from everyone. I would not have guessed this in a million years.

So I began to walk this out, and as I walked, my fears fell away at an astonishing rate. As they fell away, they were replaced with feelings of peace and inner calm: feelings that always let me know when I’m on the right track.

Every spiritual tradition tells us not to fear, to trust in the larger part of us: God, Inner Wisdom, The Still Small Voice, Intuition…to guide and direct our steps and our decisions. It doesn’t matter what we call this power, it is the Knowing that is often beyond any reasonable explanation. It is our invisible connection to all of Life: everyone and everything.

But taking the step to trust, when we cannot see how something will work out, can be terrifying. I know that it was for me, but I have some experience here too. I’ve left relationships that weren’t working, stayed in relationships that were difficult but needed attention, I’ve started new adventures, I’ve taken risks in a lot of ways, and every time I listened to my inner voice and took these steps, larger vistas opened, life expanded and my “worst fear scenarios” were revealed for what they really were: fear of the unknown cementing into stories.

Another remarkable result of this decision was seeing the work that I do as a spiritual counselor go to a very deep level. As this disharmony in my own life/energy field cleared, my work with clients reflected this change. There is a well-known saying that goes something like, “To really help people, we must become like clean, clear, channels, letting the spirit flow through us freely, and we cannot be clear channels if we are full of shit”. I like that saying. To me it means being honest with ourselves and others. It means being vulnerable, human, and transparent. It means being open, kind, loving and real…it means being and becoming the magnificent people we were meant to be.


Your present problem is your great opportunity…your life is your laboratory. Your world is your workshop. The reason that you are here is that you may develop spiritually: and the way to do that is to meet the challenge of practical life. You do not develop spiritually by running away from life into some sheltered retreat. Nor do you grow in spiritual stature by gaining your point through will power. It is spiritual law that any difficulties that can come to you at any time must be exactly what you need most at the moment to enable you to take the next step forward by overcoming them. The only real misfortune, the only real tragedy, comes when we suffer without learning the lesson.” Emmet Fox









Living in the present, looking forward to…

Bodhi and Fred on the radiator

Bodhi and Fred on the radiator watching something

As Jack and I were driving home late last evening, we both noticed that our conversation was not very uplifting. We were sort of randomly talking about some long-standing difficulties with a couple of family members, the recent illness of a good friend, and how another friend (that we had just run into) didn’t seem good…nothing really big, just all rather gloomy topics. I suddenly saw us as a couple of gray-haired, middle-aged people with more life behind them than ahead. We felt old, and our conversation reflected this.

It also dawned on me that frequently talking about the past, illness, ect., can become a way of life, until we are not really living anymore, we’re just re-living old worn-out scenarios, or mentally dragging along and reworking relationships that should have been let go of long ago; more concerned with what has been, than what we are looking forward to.

As we drove along, I suggested that we start a new conversation, Jack agreed and yet we found it a little challenging to get out of our rut and think different (new) thoughts. But we persisted and the idea popped up to pretend that we were newly-weds just starting our lives together. Jack loved this idea and the whole atmosphere of our trip changed.

A few minutes later as we exited the thruway and gave our ticket to the young woman in the booth, she smiled at Jack and said, “Well hi there happy traveler!” She noticed Luke in the backseat and we put the window down so he could stick his head out and she could pet him. As we pulled away from the toll booth, it occurred to us that we had never run into such a young, lovely, upbeat, friendly, toll booth operator. If was as if we made a mental switch and then literally lined up with the human equivalent of our new mode of thought.

I don’t mind physical aging, but I want to live all the stages of my life and show up every day with a fresh mind, a young mind….open to Life. I want to honor the past but not live in it.

“It is a universal rule, as we all know, that living things produce offspring after their own kind. Thoughts are living things. Indeed they are particularly vital living things, and so thoughts naturally follow this law. Positive thoughts produce positive , harmonious conditions: and negative thoughts produce fear and limitation.”Emmet Fox, from Alter Your Life

***The winner of the skin balm is Dave!******

Don’t just do something, sit there!

Wheat grass and a warm radiator. Noah is content.

Wheat grass and a warm radiator. Noah is content.

I grew up in a household of rushers. I don’t remember ever seeing my mother sit down and just relax, or simply appreciate doing nothing. If my father wasn’t reading (usually the newspaper) or watching TV, he didn’t sit either. Sitting and relaxing were suspicious activities, often met with the words, “If you don’t have anything to do, I’ll find something for you.” But for all of this rushing about, they were both fairly unhappy with their lives, and somewhat believed that they were the victims of circumstances beyond their control, which led them to push harder, with still more frustrating results.

When I first began trying to work with my mind, to slow down, sit and do nothing but relax and imagine the outcome (of whatever it was that I was hoping to achieve), the thoughts that I was being lazy, irresponsible, and unproductive assaulted my mind with the words, “DO SOMETHING!”

I eventually began to see that calmly imagining what I wanted to happen, letting it go, and trusting that the right outcome would unfold, was doing something.

In this new year of 2013, I intend to relax more, smile more, breath more consciously, and trust more.

Try not to be tense or hurried. Tension and hurry delay demonstration. You know that if you try to unlock a door hurriedly, the key is apt to stick, whereas, if you do it slowly, it seldom does. If the key sticks, the thing is to stop pressing, take your breath, and release it gently. To push hard with  will power can only jam the lock completely. So it is with all mental working. In quiet and confidence shall be your strength.” pg. 156, Alter Your Life by Emmet Fox

Looking for the magic

this chair

Esther relaxing in the very cat-scratched chair

For years I have been trying to find a Christmas tree that had the same scent as the ones we had when I was a kid. The place where we’ve purchased our trees in the past, said it was Balsam that we were looking for, so we that’s the kind we’ve gotten. But they never smelled quite the same to me.

We didn’t go back to the old place this year. For no particular reason, neither Jack nor I wanted to, so we spent most of yesterday afternoon driving all over southern Vermont, and our area, looking for a tree. As it started to get dark, I suggested we wait until today to look but Jack insisted on getting one, so we headed west and just outside of Greenwich we spotted a larger trailer with Christmas lights and trees. As we got out to take a look, a young man in a hooded sweatshirt jumped out of the trailer. I couldn’t really see his face, but I made a snap judgement, “Here is a kid working for minimum wage, sitting in a freezing trailer selling someone else’s trees.” I didn’t expect much, and almost wanted to leave, but I spotted a nice looking tree and went back to the trailer to ask him about it, casually saying, “I am looking for a tree that smells good.”

He broke into a huge smile and said, “You probably want a Douglas Fir. They smell the best, at least I think so, and that’s the kind we ourselves get.” I asked him how to tell the difference and as he was explaining, the sweetest young woman (with more nose-rings than nose to put them in) jumped out of the trailer too and started talking about “their” business, saying proudly that this was their 3rd year.

This morning, I walked into our living room and that ancient, familiar scent of Christmas filled the air.

I am reminded on a regular basis that wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with a title, position or credentials. The magic and wonder of Spirit is ever-present (in and as everyone) and when I witness it, I am always delightfully surprised. I need only take off my own blinders of judgement, prejudice and limiting beliefs, to see, hear  (and smell!) It.

“...no particular clergyman, priest, minister, bishop, or any Truth teacher or practitioner, or anyone else, has more influence with God than you have. …The truth is that we are as near to God as our consciousness will bring us, and no outside arrangement will do that.” From The Ten Commandments by Emmet Fox

Gleaning (what words do we pick out…and remember?)

Our holy water font (i.e birdbath) with Blue Jay enjoying my gleenings

Blue Jay feasting on my gleanings (the corn that I picked off the  ground of a previously harvested corn field, on my morning run a few days ago)

We watched a National Geographic documentary last night called, The Wildest Dream. It’s the true story of George Mallory, a mountain climber who died on Everest in the 1920’s. I’ve always liked stories and films about Mt. Everest, but what really grabbed me about this film, was the reaction of Ruth Mallory when she was told that her husband had died.

The commentator said that she went to sleep that night and “…in the morning, she woke them (the Mallorys had 3 children) took them into her bed, and told them that their father’s spirit was ready for another life, and his way of going to it, was very beautiful.” Of all the words or deeds that someone could relay about a person’s life, the fact that these few incredibly courageous, life-giving, words made their way into a 90 minute film is a miracle.

It also makes me realize how selective our hearing is: do I remember the wonderful, uplifting, inspiring, loving words that were said to me, or am I choosing to pick out and remember the hurtful, cruel or unhappy words and deeds?  What thoughts am I mentally feasting on?

When I gleaned my neighbors previously harvested corn field, I was careful not to take the rotten or moldy corn to feed the birds. I didn’t want to offer them something that might make them sick. And yet, even as I write this, I know that sometimes I choose to think “rotten” thoughts; picking them out of a conversation and almost savoring them as I rehash them in my mind, or retell them to someone else. All of us have said things that we wish we hadn’t; words that were unkind, thoughtless or angry, and all of us have said words of wisdom, compassion, caring and love.

Today I am choosing to listen for the words that speak Life.

“The most important of all factors in your life is the mental diet on which you live. It is the food which you furnish to your mind that determines the whole character of your life. It is the thoughts you allow yourself to think, the subjects that you allow your mind to dwell upon, which make you and your surroundings what they are. ….Everything in your life today the state of your body, whether healthy or sick, the state of your fortune, whether prosperous or impoverished, the state of your home, whether happy or the reverse, the present condition of every phase of your life in fact-is entirely conditioned by the thoughts and feelings which you have entertained in the past, by the habitual tone of your past thinking. And the condition of your life tomorrow, and next week, and next year, will be entirely conditioned by the thoughts and feelings which you choose to entertain from now onwards”. Emmet Fox, (taken from The Seven Day Mental Diet, a wonderful little book that is free on-line (it is in the public domain now and there are a number of links to it and I’ve included one here [PDF]

The Sevenday Mental Diet ebook



these holy hands

Photograph taken by Jack’s friend Mark Cronin*.

Sometimes the language used to speak about the Divine, is antiquated and can get in the way of the deeper spiritual concept, but most writers of the 18th and 19th centuries, spoke of God in masculine terms. I have had to make peace with this and look beyond the limited use of language so I could have access to their wisdom, and this wasn’t easy for me.

In my thirties, I was a part of a spiritual group that read from certain texts at the beginning of every meeting. Since this material was written in the 30’s, there was no gender-neutral language, and so all references to God were in the masculine form. This drove me crazy and I took offense at it, so when it was my turn to read, I “corrected” every passage. It was a lot of work. Years later, a friend told me that it used to make her really nervous when I read. I’m not so sure it was my words, but probably more the judgement and anger behind them that she felt. I wanted a politically correct world so I could be comfortable in it damn it!

Thank God that I have evolved and grown. I love work of these early writers like Emerson, Emmet Fox, Emilie Cady, Thomas Troward, and others and have come to gratefully accept it in the form that it was given …by the hands and minds that wrote of concepts and thoughts that were beyond language, beyond duality of male/female, material/spiritual, good/bad and saw to the heart of Life.

“There is but one hand in the universe. It is God’s hand. Whenever you have felt that your hand was empty, it has been because you have believed yourself separate from God.  Your hand is God’s hand. My hand is God’s hand. Our Father reaches out though these, His only hands, to give His gifts. We have nothing to do with the supply. Our part is to pass out the good…” From, How I Used Truth, by H. Emilie Cady (1848-1941)

Over the weekend, I intend to spend some time looking at my own hands as Divine vehicles for passing out Love. I hope that you join me. I am imagining all sorts of hands (paws and claws included!) in a huge unbroken circle of Good.

A special enterprise of God

Esther greeting me yesterday afternoon...she has an intense interest in cars.

I went to the eye doctor yesterday. I had broken a blood vessel in the same place last October and it seemed too odd not to have it checked out by someone who knew more about eyes than I did. I liked the doctor that examined me from the moment I met him. He was calm, thoughtful and was confident in a quiet way. I asked him why he chose Ophthalmology as a profession, and he told me a little bit about his own journey of having very poor vision as a child, spending lots of time with eye doctors, and his intense interest in how eyes and the brain function, which ultimately led him to this work.

So many of us have been taught that it is wrong to think well of ourselves and to have confidence in our abilities; that true humility is never admitting that we know something, always questioning ourselves, keeping quiet so we don’t seem boastful, but this is no more humble or helpful than spouting off constantly about our “greatness”. Each one of us is unique and special. We are here to bring that quality to light and then to help others by bringing it to the world.

I love the words of Emmet Fox, “…you are a special enterprise on the part of God…” So, maybe for this weekend, ask yourself the question, What has my journey led me to love, and how can I start to appreciate this aspect of myself more?

The world will take you at your own valuation. Your body will take you at your own valuation. Your business will take you at your own valuation; for the value that you put on upon yourself is the one that manifests. … Nature always takes you at your own valuation. …Believe that you express Life, Truth, Love. Believe that Wisdom guides you. Believe that you are a special enterprise on the part of God – and what you really believe, that you will demonstrate“. Emmet Fox pp. 170 Find and Use Your Inner Power