The Real Alternative

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Seekers’ reality check – We all need one

Looking back on my life I see a funny dynamic. Many times I thought I’d found “the answer,” either through a partner, a job, a scholarship, a religious affiliation. And usually when I have found the apparent “answer” I’ve become a bit full of myself and maybe overly enthusiastic about my new path. God and life, however, have this way of auto-correcting. Stuff happens… and what a great way to regain humility.

Deep thought

Deep thought (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I’m thinking it’s nice that I don’t take myself as seriously as I once did. Yes, if someone steps on my toes I will still let them know. I don’t believe God wants us to be doormats.

But at the same time, getting older means that I can appreciate all the twists and turns my life has taken, and just as importantly, how everyone else is just as “valid” as me. Are just as valid as me? Whatever. I don’t feel like checking out Grammar Girl right now. 🙂

The tweeted article spells out some of the reflections I’ve had over the past few years in this area. I think it does a good job.


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Here’s My Take

God created us and gave us free will; then he watched as we continued to kill and hate and realized we were indeed capable of totally annihilating His creation!

Source: Here’s My Take


“Interfaith Space” at University of Nevada will open in January 2016

English: The Fleischmann Atmospherium Planetar...

The Fleischmann Atmospherium Planetarium, located on the University of Nevada Reno campus in Reno, Nevada. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to

“Interfaith Space” in the $44 million William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center at University of Nevada-Reno (UNR), currently under construction, would open in January 2016; UNR President Dr. Marc A. Johnson told Rajan Zed today.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, and who met Johnson in his office, has commended UNR for accepting the longstanding need of students of interfaith space for reflection, meditation, etc., and thus recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education. It is a step in the right direction, Zed adds.

Johnson told Zed that this Space would be open to all campus student groups belonging to various religions/denominations and non-believers for reflection and meditation. This room would include various cabinets where each group could keep their required icons and articles locked to be brought out when needed.

President Johnson also informed Zed that initially the Interfaith Space would be open from eight am to nine pm daily, with the possibility of opening it for 24-hours seeing the need and feasibility. It would be a quiet place for all students to use free-of-charge, he added.

Zed stresses that with the presence of Interfaith Space, UNR students will have a spiritually meaningful life in addition to material success after they graduate from here. Interfaith Space will be another feather in UNR’s cap in making it a world class educational institution, Zed points out.

Johnson further told Zed that 70,600 square feet Student Achievement Center, besides Interfaith Space, would also include Writing Center, Math Center, Tutoring Center, Career Studio, Advising Center, Student Veterans Center, Disability Resource Center, Counseling Services, etc.

This building “will help our students to become great scholars” … will also offer support areas “for students to continue learning outside of the standard classroom environment”, a UNR brochure indicates.

Many universities in USA and Canada already have prayer/meditation room for quiet reflection and spiritual exercise.

UNR, founded in 1874 and which has about 20,000 students, is known for helping to create the world’s most accurate atomic clock, earthquake expertise, highly ranked MBA program, several Pulitzer Prize winners and for “study of the behavior of matter at extremely high temperatures and densities.”  About half-a-dozen Hollywood films were shot here and it is home to one of the largest earthquake-simulation labs.

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Letter to God: Anagarika eddie and Michael Clark on Interfaith Unity

Sky and Earth

This interview was first published in 2006 as “Letter to God: E. Raymond Rock and Dr. Michael Clark on Interfaith Unity.”
E. Raymond Rock now goes by the moniker anagarika eddie, and I like to just be called Michael Clark or MC

Anagarika eddie: Is there any possibility of humanity going beyond its opinions and beliefs, or are we destined to fight with each other forever? If God commanded you to come up with something that would satisfy all beliefs, yet enlighten all minds, what would you suggest?

MC: That’s an interesting question. I don’t know the answer for sure. Some believe that, as the New Testament suggests, there ultimately will be a period of peace. But in my view it’s hard to know if this is just prophetic symbolism or something that will actually happen on Earth. It seems our human personalities inevitably come into conflict with one another. But as free beings we have a choice as to how to deal with that. We can see conflict as an opportunity for mutual understanding and growth. Or we can just react like an animal would. Worse, we can plot and scheme like devils. And don’t laugh. Because it’s no joke and many people do.

I don’t think we can always go beyond our opinions and beliefs. But I think during moments of grace we can. So if we continually turn to God for guidance, we might become better and better servants of the Divine. Some say that too much introspection is a bad thing. But I think that if you don’t know your true inner core then you’re going to be acting on the basis of some personality fragment or tangent; or perhaps on the basis of a socio-cultural, transpersonal or negative spiritual influence. If you don’t act from the center, then whatever bad you do will likely come back on you. If you act from the loving center, informed by Grace (or as Catholics would say, the Holy Spirit), then good will come back.

Anagarika eddie: You mention that too much introspection is bad. Could you expand on that a little – where does that attitude come from? Perhaps introspection is bad for those who don’t want their flock to see too clearly. The contemplative saints regarded contemplative prayer highly, discovering that the state of grace could be enhanced by Orison, which is similar to Eastern thinking that meditation creates fertile ground for enlightenment.

Since nothing else has worked throughout history (we are still killing ourselves in the name of God!) could it actually be that introspection; Orison, recollection, the dark night and unison, would enlighten our minds? And could it be that the second coming of Christ (Christ translated as enlightened mind) might be a universal enlightening of many people, instead of an individual Christ this time around?

Thank you for your answers. I’m trying to find a common denominator among all religions that would transcend beliefs, yet not disparage any religion. What other hope do we have? A Muslim will rarely become a Christian; or a Buddhist a Muslim. Perhaps introspection – meditation and contemplative prayer – could be an answer. Perhaps Christ was trying to teach us how to go within, but the original Church Fathers (no different from today), perhaps stressed the emotional side of Christianity, feeling that the deeper teachings should only be reserved for monks, thinking that the masses weren’t ready. Maybe it was more important to build a religion in those days than free their flock from the fear of God, and the fear of themselves, both of which are laid bare by deep prayer.

MC: Ah, but I said that “some say” too much introspection is a bad thing. That’s a little trick I learned over the years. It doesn’t necessary mean that too much introspection is bad. It’s just a useful way to bracket a statement. It means that some people believe it’s bad, those people not necessarily including myself.

However, I do believe that in my own life, anyhow, it’s good to keep some kind of working and flexible balance between contemplation and outward activity. Although I tend to be more contemplative and less visibly active than most. I think everyone has to strike their own balance here. And also, to keep renegotiating it.

My feeling on the Christian saints is that most of them reached very high levels of Godly awareness. But it came with such a price. They suffered for every grace received. And of course, their suffering wasn’t only for their own purification, but also for the redemption of other souls. St. Faustina Kowalska’s Divine Mercy Diary is an excellent book about the power and importance of (contemplative) prayer. If you haven’t read it already, I would recommend it.

As for the differences and similarities among world religions when it comes to mysticism, this is a rich and fascinating topic. It’s really hard to know for sure what another mystic experiences. Some believe they all come to the same type of “ah-ha” experience. Others, like Rudolf Otto and C. G. Jung, stress that the grades and qualities of encountered numinosities may differ. Myself, I find that the most intuitive folks in my hometown are scattered across the board. It could be a woman working in a dollar store. It could be the postman. It could be a businessperson with whom I just have a passing conversation. And it could be a priest too. While the vast majority of priests adhere to the standardized approach, I sometimes wonder if in private they have their own thoughts on certain issues. Would they be human if they did not?

I think you’re right that most people will not convert from their own path. And why should they? These religions, when they work, serve to nurture the soul while keeping an individual’s cultural underpinnings in place. I tend to see religions as flowerpots. You need a pot to hold the soil. Every pot is a little different. But each grows a plant (and hopefully a flower). And just as flowers may also differ, so the look and feel of souls in heaven may differ too. Difference isn’t a bad thing at all. How boring heaven would be if it contained ten trillion daisies, and daisies only! As one person whom I spoke with through the web once put it, “there are many different flowers in the Garden of Eden.”

And this brings me back to the idea of getting in touch with the core, the center. I believe that it’s here that the heavenly flower grows. This isn’t necessarily the Jungian self where the self is an aggregate or a totality of all observable elements. I tend to think that ultimately, after all the lesser elements are pruned away through eons of purification, we shine (and mediate grace) in heaven. But I also think this takes a very long time for most of us. Hence the importance of the idea of Purgatory.

To close, I should add that I haven’t passed yet, so all this is mostly reasoned speculation. A theory. I don’t claim to really know what happens at death. Because other issues come into play, such as the nature of space, time and eternity-both on Earth and within other realms.

Thank you for an interesting question. Feel free to follow up on any of this. I generally enjoy talking about the soul and metaphysics.

Anagarika eddie: Thank you Dr. Clark for your “enlightened” discussion, rare to find these days!

As you renegotiate your personal inward and outward balance, and venture inwardly a little more, do you find yourself less interested in worldly pleasures? And when you do revisit them, just to test their power over you, do you find that they don’t hold the same mystique that they once did? What was it that Thomas Wolfe once wrote, “You can never go home?” which to me indicates the unrelenting changing nature of things, and how we can’t really count on anything in the world? It’s confusing, isn’t it, that a new reality is developing, but you can’t grasp it as you have grasped things in the past. Definitely a bittersweet experience.

MC: Yes, it can be bittersweet because for everything valuable that we gain it seems we first must lose something. This might be a golden rule. But I find that the gains really do outstrip the losses. And as we mature in the path we, as you say, don’t really want those things we once craved. Moreover, they may reappear in subtler ways. With regard to sexuality, for instance, see my article: Celibacy, Sex and Spirituality.

I also believe that most people do revisit past pleasures and interests from time to time for various reasons. Doubtfully does it ever go in a straight line. Some say that the ego dances around the self, that is, it doesn’t always rest there nor is it always perfectly aligned with it. Still, most world religions advocate – and this might get back to your initial question about syncretism – that the ego ideally is a servant of the self. But again, the understanding as to just what constitutes the self varies dramatically, I think. So one has to choose the path that’s right for him or herself. And also consider the possibility of embracing new paths.

Anagarika eddie: I read a story once about a man entering a strange house and finding a staircase, which he was compelled to climb. The further he climbed, the more fearful he became until he decided to climb back down – but all the steps had disappeared! A Great analogy of the spiritual quest.

Enjoyed your article – very well thought out and complete. My experience with Catholicism is like yours, but backward. I spent the first 35 years as a catholic, and then the next 26 meditating!

All religions seem to have their scripture as a basis, accompanied by individual experience, or the deeper side based on that scripture. I am at a point where I’m taking a worldview of it all, beyond my personal viewpoint, and I see that something is amiss. Wars are still being fought over differences in religious beliefs.

My first experience of meditation was at Shasta Abbey, a Zen monastery. The monks there didn’t teach me Buddhist scripture, only insisted that I meditate and practice silence most of the day, and because of that simple practice, my whole life was turned upside down with no teachings whatsoever. Boy, was I surprised!

Is it possible that contemplative prayer or meditation could do the same thing for others? But how do you encourage people to pray deeply, that is listen to God instead of talking? You would think that everybody would want to personally communicate with the Ultimate, but usually, we are shy in this area. Few dare to venture into St. John of the Cross’s dark night of the soul, or experiment with enlightenment.

Is it fear of seeing through our illusions, our concept of self, our beliefs? We attach to these notions and feel comfortable in them, not wanting to lose them, which is what happens when we achieve that ineffable that can only be described as the unborn, the undying; beginning less and with no end. How would you ever introduce such a practice and concept to everyday people? I don’t know the answer to this, but I tirelessly attempt to find a way to introduce contemplative prayer and meditation into everybody’s hearts.

There is that which is underneath all the divisive beliefs, and to touch that is the key. It can be touched when all our thoughts, opinions and knowing dissolves into that mysterious realm where we lose ourselves to that which is.

MC: You know, I would keep asking God for advice. I’m not sure as a practicing Buddhist how you envision the Godhead. Words and concepts can get in the way. But I tend to regard God as the creator, somehow other but immanent.

From my experience, Buddhists tend to deemphasize individuality while Catholics feel that individuality is important. But it seems that you still have some sense of an individual self, yet one which is more fundamental than the intellectual, the conceptual, the desirous and so on. That’s the core that I feel is the important commonality among all paths. As to how to get people to meditate, to contemplate, to know the Divine… this is something that I personally don’t try to rush. I see the entire spectrum as important to the total picture. So I tend to look at individuals and try to determine where they’re at, what external factors are influencing them, and so on. I guess as a doctor and educator that’s my role. I don’t see myself as a mass preacher or contemplative exemplar. But maybe someone else is! As Saint Paul put it, one body… many different members.


Original dialogue: March 11-13, 2006.


Anagarika eddie and Michael Clark welcome your responses regarding the question: Is there any possibility of humanity going beyond their opinions and beliefs, or are we destined to fight with each other forever? If God commanded you to come up with something that would satisfy all beliefs, yet enlighten all minds, what would you suggest?

Anagarika eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary and author of A Year to Enlightenment. His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk.

Michael Clark is the admin. of and He also maintains a personal blog,  His studies include a Ph.D. on Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity (UOttawa), an M.A. in Comparative Religion (Visva Bharati, India), and an Honours B.A. in Psyc/Sociology (Trent U).


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Sunday Reading – Luke 17:11-19

English: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jade Ewen. Ру...

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jade Ewen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Luke 17:11-19 – Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”



This passage is from the Catholic Mass, scheduled for today. I guess the first thing I want to talk about is faith and illness. Will prayer cure all our illnesses? It might in some instances. There have been some medically documented cases. But for most of us, praying, alone, doesn’t make us instantly healthy. It may bring us peace during our illness. And it may help to carry us through an illness. However, for the most part, it’s also a good idea to see a doctor. God works through people too. Not just through faith and prayer.

And as illustrated in today’s reading, God doesn’t play favorites. The Samaritans and Jews were divided in Jesus’ time, each believing they had it right with God. But Jesus, who emerged from the Jewish tradition, sees past all that. He looks inside. And this Samaritan was humble and thankful. So the Lord plainly says, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

No favorites. Just seeing it like it is. And that’s why Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber rightly called Jesus a “Superstar.”



Overcoming Adversity Through Faith

English: John the Baptist baptizing Christ

John the Baptist baptizing Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Nadijah Imani

Often, many of us face trials and tribulations in life that we do not deal with in a positive light. The stress of our jobs, various family issues, personal relationships, and of course, today’s economy, are all critical issues that makes it difficult in overcoming adversity that so many of us are fighting with to resolve our life’s battles.

Recently, Regal Magazine had the opportunity to speak with a young man who has dealt fearlessly with overcoming adversity, and transforming his life by becoming a teacher of the Christian faith.

William Fitten, who calls himself, “Street Preacher,” preaches the Gospel in the ghettos of Cleveland to sick people in the hospitals, at all the major sporting events, concerts, clubs, bars, and as he says, “Anywhere the Lord sends him.”

Fitten went through some serious critical issues in his life. However, due to his strength, along with his faith and trust in God, he prevailed in overcoming adversity in his life.

Fitten was raised in a well-known Baptist church in the Cleveland area. Unfortunately, during the late 1980s until 1993, he was an alcoholic and a drug addict, and was faced with the serious possibility of losing his wife and his children. He found himself having to choose between his addictions and/or his family. He feels that he was like the Apostle Paul, whom indicated in the Bible, in II Timothy 3:5 – “Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”

He had to allow God to come into his life and help him in overcoming adversity, and transform him to remove the alcohol, the drugs, and other negative issues from his life. Fitten indicated that in order for him to do this, he had to acknowledge, confess and repent his sins before God. He did just that, and asked Jesus Christ to save him and through His power, He was able to do for him what Fitten could not do for himself. He has been following Christ ever since. That’s truly overcoming adversity!

Fitten experienced various obstacles in overcoming adversity in his life. First, he lived in an urban area of the city, where drug dealers were prevalent. Every time he went to the corner store, he had to pass by the alcohol and beer coolers. These are the types of things that he feared, as it brought about certain temptations that he knew would hinder him in overcoming adversity, and falling back into the trap of alcohol and drugs.

In his fight in overcoming adversity, Fitten also separated himself from his siblings, various relatives and so-called friends, until the Lord gave him the strength, the courage, and the wisdom that he needed, so these issues would no longer be a problem for him.

In his conversation with Regal Magazine, he reflected on a scripture that keeps him from falling and helps him in overcoming adversity, which is: Ephesians 3:20 – “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”

Fitten says that power is the Holy Spirit, and it will help every one in their plight toward overcoming adversity and fighting the battles in their lives.

The “Street Preacher” believes that today’s economy is a serious critical issue, and many people fall weak to the problems that they are faced with. But, he indicated that we must understand that relying on our own flesh is not the answer in overcoming adversity. In the midst of all of our problems, we should focus on Jesus Christ and trust and believe in Him completely, as this will keep us in perfect peace.

Fitten reflected on two scriptures, spoken by Jesus Christ, which would help to keep those that are Christians strong in overcoming adversity. These scriptures are: St. John 16:33 – “In the world ye shall have tribulation: But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world;” and Matthew 6:33 – “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” In other words, God will supply all of our needs, as long as we trust and believe in Him.

Throughout the years, there continues to be a decline of the stability of the African American family. It is of utmost importance that African Americans maintain their families in a strong, stable and consistent manner, as this is conducive to our re-establishing and re-developing of our communities.

In overcoming adversity in our families, Fitten advises that the key for Christian homes is for the head of the household to lead by example, and not to be a dictator. This will allow the rest of the family to see Christ in him. He further indicates that it is vitally important to have family devotion and Bible study, which is the key to opening up avenues for communication, for discussing any issues that have occurred during the day, or that are present in any family member’s life. This also gives an opportunity for family members to discuss such life differences and how they relate to the Bible.

Additionally, much of the decline in the stability of the African American family is due to the lack of understanding and/or willingness of the husband and wife to actively deal with the problems that exist. It is more than evident that in a considerable amount of marital relationships, the parties get caught up in their own specific individual issues, instead of working together to address and overcome the adversity in their relationship. It is the responsibility of married couples to maintain the stability and structure in their families.

Marriage is a sacred and holy commitment, which must not be taken lightly. With statistics indicating that over half of all marriages in the United States today last less than ten years, African American couples must look to more than the physical and material aspects to keep their marriages intact. Fitten advises that Christian couples should read, study, and apply the following scriptures to their everyday lives, in order for their marriages to be successful: Ephesians 5:22-23 – “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: And He is the Saviour of the body;” and Ephesians 5: 25-28 – “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.”

For African American men to overcome the adversity in their lives, Fitten indicates that such is definitely not an easy task, but that it comes from strength and the changing of one’s mindset. He advised that one must keep the faith, and always read, study and reflect on the word of God. The Bible states in Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Fitten acknowledges that the way to do this is to abide in Jesus Christ, by letting go of the things of the world and to lay down one’s life, one’s dreams, and one’s lustful pleasures, and to follow Him.

According to Fitten, in order for any of us to accomplish the goal of overcoming adversity, we must accept Christ in our lives, as our personal savior, in order for us to maintain the divine spirituality that He wants us to have. We must “Let go and let God.”

Nadijah Imani is a writer for Regal Black Mens Magazine For more information on this subject visit our Community Section To read about overcoming adversity

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Stop Patching Yourself Together

Giotto - The Seven Virtues - Faith

Giotto - The Seven Virtues - Faith via Wikipedia

 by: Arthur Levine

Have there been times in your life when you have resorted to quick fixes like chemical patches or pills to help you stop overeating, smoking, or other similar addictions that are ruining your health?

If you are like me, you have discovered that these temporary measures don’t work. You probably need something stronger. How about a patch of faith?

Faith is not the type of thing you can buy over-the-counter at a drug store. It is something you have to find within yourself.

In order to find your faith, you need to strip away your inhibitions and unlock your imagination. You have to start listening to your inner self.

Sometimes you have to use your imagination to invent a symbol of the newfound faith that you have created – your own personal faith patch – something that can identify you as a Person of Faith.

Every time that you feel yourself about to give in to a weakness, think about your faith patch. Think about the strength you can draw from your faith in God to help you overcome your weaknesses and addictions.

Start by admitting to yourself that you do have faith. Start by listening for the words of God. Start by speaking to God. He may be waiting to hear from you.

Are you ready to get closer to God? Are you ready for him to answer your prayers? Start to believe. Become a person of faith.

You are basically a good and worthwhile person, and you are entitled to have faith in God anyway you chose. You are entitled to be a Person of Faith.

Try to strip away the inhibitions that have kept you from admitting that you are a Person of Faith. Use your imagination to help you reveal to yourself that you do have strong feelings of faith.

Don’t be shy about admitting that you are a Person of Faith. Express your feelings of faith. Make yourself and your loved ones happy by acknowledging that you do have faith.

Have you ever said to yourself that you wish you could be a Person of Faith like Johnny or Linda? You can if you start to listen to your imagination and realize that you do have feelings of faith.

Think of all the wonderful things you could do with the strength that comes from believing in God. Think how great it would be to be able to cope with the troubles of our time without fear.

Imagine how great you will feel when you are free from the addictions that plague you. Imagine how wonderful and secure you will feel when you have used your faith to conquer your weaknesses.

Are you ready to stop patching yourself together? Are you ready to become a Person of Faith? Are you ready to find the strength through faith to overcome your weaknesses? God may be waiting to see what you will do. Are you ready to take action and find your faith?

About The Author

Arthur Levine, Faith Builder Imaginest, is the author of the Faith Patch Manual. Discover how to find more faith and stop patching yourself together at:

Copyright Arthur Levine 2005

This is not a medical nor legal document.Those with mental or physical health issues are advised to consult an appropriate and licensed health professional.