The Size of the Lesson

I believe that there is a Divine Plan. In essence, it is a curriculum that our soul created for ourselves before entering this body in this life. Only that we forget. As soon as we are born, we don’t remember that we created this set of lessons, let alone the subject matter of the lessons themselves. These teachings often appear as challenges we face in our lives.

All this is quite familiar for people involved with Spiritism. But here comes the curious part. What I recently realized is that the size of the lesson, is the size of my resistance to learning it. In other words, the more I resist, the harsher the lesson is going to be. For example, if a certain lesson involves taking time off for myself to expand my inner growth, and I keep on being distracted by work and other activities, a slight headache may not suffice to deter me from such distractions. I inadvertently call in something more challenging to force me into alone time. This can be a simple yet painful stomach flu that will make me stay in bed for a day. If I don’t absorb this lesson and immediately rush back to work, the stomach flu may be followed by something more severe such as COVID or even cancer. This is not to say that anyone who has COVID or cancer is someone who ignores taking time for themselves. The means – a disease in this example, is a tool that may be used by the Divine Plan for various purposes, but it does mean that if the challenge we are facing is severe, it is because we refused to yield and learn the lesson the easy way.

As we go through life, the curriculum is unbeknown to us, yet it is pre-set. The way we will learn these lessons depends on how open we are to truly listen, integrate and implement. Therefore, the harsher the lesson, the question to ask is not “why me?” but rather, what did I miss, or am I still missing? A relationship fallout, romantic or otherwise, may be an indication of me missing the bigger picture, of making poor choices. Can I see it, learn, and integrate, or does the lesson needs repeating in a more painful way next time around? The size of the pain in the lesson, the size of my resistance.

As I go through life, may I remain an open vessel for lessons to come, and I pray I learn it the first time around. And so be it.

Photo credits: Image by hmvierow from Pixabay
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Vaccination Vs. Medical Freedom: a Solution

The following is an opinion, my opinion.

A disclaimer: I am not a medical expert – not certified nor social-media self-proclaimed, just a guy making some observations.

As if we didn’t have enough friction going on in this country around topics such as discrimination, Black Lives, Me Too, abortion, gun control, climate change, and immigration rights; COVID, amongst its many “gifts”, added masks and vaccinations to the national and online debates.

Round and about, it is amusing how people who find themselves on the negative side of a debate, look for a positive word to represent their position. For example, anti-abortion became pro-life. And nowadays, anti-vaccination have turned into “medical freedom”. No one wants to be on the “anti” side anymore. I guess since I am anti-war, henceforth I will be named “pro-peace”. There, that settles that!

Back on topic: I was giving some thought to the debate about whether to get vaccinated or not. For me, getting vaccinated was a no-brainer. For some, the statement I just made that it was a no-brainer will mean that people without brains rush to get vaccinated, while for others it would mean that no brain is required to realize the benefits of the vaccine. I leave that choice up to you.

Back to me. I had experienced COVID firsthand back in March 2020, and after 10 most miserable days – my COVID experience I can only describe as flu on steroids — I rather take my chances with science, even if it is not yet cooked to perfection. And while I met several self-proclaimed “experts” on COVID who explained to me why getting vaccinated is a poor choice, I am yet to meet a person I would consider a real expert to claim the same. Thus my choice to be vaccinated as soon as it was made available to my age group back in March 2021.

That being said, I do respect choices other people make, so long as it has little to no effect on me or on others/the environment around them.

That means that you can smoke your lungs out so long as I don’t need to second-hand feel your smoke, and that there are no other ramifications to me such as your medical bills added to my insurance cost. I respect your choice but with this caveat.

What it comes to COVID, here is what we know that is hard to argue with.

When I write “hard to argue with” it means that if you wish to question data coming from various countries and claim that COVID is a world-wide conspiracy, I would like to refer you to the Flat Earth website where you will be in better company than here… 😊

  • We know that vaccinated people are less likely to contract the disease. They can still get infected, but if they do, it’s likely to be less severe.
  • We know that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the disease. They can still be asymptomatic and thus carriers, but to a much lesser degree than non-vaccinated people.
  • We know the Delta variant is highly contagious.
  • We know that you can skip vaccination and still not get sick, or catch the virus and be asymptomatic (lucky busters…)
  • We know that a small percentage of the people who get vaccinated  suffer from complications.
  • We know that countries / states with high percentage of vaccinated population have lower cases of COVID.
  • We know that in many places the hospitals (and health support system at large,) are at full capacity because of COVID, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to take care of people with non-COVID challenges.
  • As a result, if not yet, I can make an educated guess that our health insurance costs will rise a lot in the coming years.

Taken all of the above into consideration, and remembering that we also wish to honor freedom of choice, the solution I suggest is as follows:

Any person who can be vaccinated but refuses to do so, will sign a legal-tight document where they take full responsibility over any and all medical and/or other bills, in case they contract COVID and have to be hospitalized. If one wants freedom, let that person take the full responsibility that comes with that choice. Why should I pay for someone else’s choice? You want it? Own it!

Round and about, I would do the same with people who refuse to wear a seat-belt in a car, or a helmet on a motorcycle. I agree that they have the right to do as they please, so long as it does not put others in danger. But own it. If you get into an accident and somehow survive, albeit with much medical complications, you pay your bills and don’t expect the insurance to cover it because you decided a seat-belt is not necessary.

I know this is dangerous ground. Some may argue that if we go this path, why should we pay for a heart by-pass surgery for someone who choses to eat poorly and not exercise? I agree. We should not. The whole health insurance system is skewed and should be revised. I, as a member in an insured group, am willing to participate in funding medical care for people who have born genetic issue. I view it as part of my responsibility, being a member of the human-kind. But I do not wish to take responsibility over other people life-style choices.

If What I wrote thus far makes sense, it is not easy to implement. The main reason is privacy. For us, as a society, to offer fair insurance that is based on life-style choices, means that we will need to poke into the closets and kitchens of our society members, and as I am also a privacy advocate, that cannot be. Once we let the Big Brother in, which we already partially did, there is no end to it. Thus I do not have a full solution yet. I suspect that with us surrendering ourselves more and more to the likes of Google, Siri, Alexa, and such – a form of the Big Brother disguised as online programs designed to learn us so we can better be served, knowing all there is to know about our private lives will be less of an issue for future generations growing up with this sort of invasiveness.

But on the short term, I still stand behind this idea – don’t want to get vaccinated? Yes, you are posing a greater risk to people around you as you are more likely to be a carrier, which is not cool, but at least own your decision by owning all your medical bills in case you do get sick.

And… after all that being said, I wish us all a healthier year.

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Why Jesus?

When I speak with a person who had an orthodox Christian upbringing, it is curious  how determined they seem to be that Jesus is the only Savior, and that anyone who would not follow the path they follow, is doomed to hell. Yet when I speak with an orthodox Jew, or a devout Muslim, they seem pretty sure that their path is the one absolute road to salvation. How similar orthodoxism (yeah, I know, not a dictionary word…) seems to be. There are some variants between the different religions, not to mention their many flavors (e.g. Catholicism, Baptism, Presbyterian, JW…) but the conviction remains the same.

Whatever path one follows, imagine being born into a whole different environment. If you are a Christian, imagine being born into an Orthodox Jewish or Muslim family. If you are Jewish, imagine being born into a Christian or Muslim family, and so on and so forth. From a very young age, you are being pounded with the belief system of your parents, teachers, and later on, your friends. It is a brainwash. Very few are able to, as they grow up, break away from that programming. That is no wonder. At a tender age we are most susceptive, and whatever our parents and other authoritative adults in our lives say, must be true.

Maybe Jesus was the son of God. I personally believe that we are all sons and daughters of God, but that aside, maybe he was the one and only Savior. Or maybe he was just a Jewish guy on a quest to end corruption that prevailed in the Jewish leading institutions of his time. Regardless, Jesus became a symbol and a deity representing something larger than life; an aspiration. The way I see it, one does not need to be a Christian to be inspired by Jesus, by St. Francis, or, for that matter, by the Buddha. If I can form a relationship with the vibrations these deities represent, they become energies I can call into my life at a time of need. To say that one is a Christian and then act in a manner that discriminates others for their ethnicity, gender, sexual identification, or any other such factor, is to say one thing and act another. My perspective is that to connect with St. Francis is all about charity and unconditional giving. To connect with the Buddha is to be an observant of suffering without becoming entangled in the drama. To connect with Jesus is to offer forgiveness without playing the victim.

The spiritual path is not one but many. We each walk our own unique trail, and rather than imitate what others tell us is the right way, we can have a direct experience with what is Divine for us. Doing so, we ultimately come to see that despite our differences, and maybe because of them, we all share the same Divine Heart. Names and titles of deities become somewhat irrelevant. Words and actions are what really matter. I love Jesus for what he represents for me. I love the Buddha and Quan Yin for what they inspire me to do. And with that said, I chisel my own path in this journey called my life.

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Vaccination, God and Science

COVIC vaccination, should one take it or not? This seems to be a topic of discussion for quite a few people these days.
I am no expert but here are some thoughts.

Those who oppose the vaccine, typically recruit either God or science to their aid. Many orthodox people claim there is no need to take it. For the believers, God will provide shelter. Others says that the vaccination had not been in use long enough to evaluate the long-term effects of this new treatment.

When it comes to God, an old joke comes to mind.
A guy who was a firm believer in God, found himself stuck on the roof of his house during a flood. Being who he was, he prayed to God for help.
Soon after, a man in a rowboat came by. Seeing the guy on the roof, the man in the boat called, “Jump over, I can take you with me to safety.”
The stranded guy calmly replied, “No, it’s okay. I’ve been praying to God and the Almighty is surely going to save me.”
So the man in rowboat rowed on.
The water continued to rise, and some time after, a couple in motorboat came by. Seeing the guy on the roof they called, “Jump in, we can save you.”
The stranded guy replied, “Thank you but no thank you. I’ve been praying to God. I have faith. God will surly save me.”
The couple in the motorboat wished him well and went on.
By then the water reached the knees of the guy on the roof.
A helicopter came by and the pilot called, “Here, grab this rope and I will lift you up to safety.”
The stranded guy again replied, “Thanks but no. I’ve praying to the good Lord. I am a believer and I know he will come to my aid.”
The helicopter flew away.
The water continue to rise and eventually the guy on the roof drowned.
Reaching Heaven, the drowned guy met God. “I had faith in you,” he complained, “but you abandoned me. Why didn’t save me and let me drown instead. I don’t comprehend, why?!”
“It is you I don’t understand,” came God’s answer. “I sent you a rowboat and then a motorboat, and I even sent a helicopter. What else did you expect?”

I can only imagine those orthodox people arriving in Heaven and voicing their grievance, and God replying, “I sent you a vaccine that was developed faster than any vaccine ever been offered. What else did you wish for?”

My other friends who oppose the vaccine, express fear of the unknown long-term side-effects. They suspect, and not without merit, a conspiracy of the government and the pharmaceutical companies. They believe that, with the help of the media, the government and pharmaceutical industry are bestowing fear on the public in order to sell more vaccinations, making some executives very wealthy. When it comes to trust in the government and the pharmaceutical companies, I tend to agree. Both provided us with plenty of opportunities to doubt their agenda. Yet, lets look at fear. It is my belief that the COVID virus is a manifestation of the global fear we have been experiencing over the past decade. I already did a blog post about this fear so I would not go into it again in great details. It is no surprise that COVID appeared and spread like wild fire at a time the administration in the USA, and elsewhere in the world, was promoting fear; fear of immigrants, fear of LGBT, fear of just about anything different. Fear brings about isolation. COVID allowed us to go into further isolation so that we can look at the fear and start to address it. And thus, while those who oppose taking the shot claim the government is scaring people into taking the vaccine, they themselves are subject to a fear of the unknown.

I Googled a phobia name for a fear of vaccinations. I found no such word expect for Trypanophobia which is a fear of needles. It is not the fear I am addressing here and I wonder when a new phobic word would be created to describe it. However, there is Xenophobia, which is a fear of the unknown. We all have some of it, yet we don’t let it stop us from getting up in the morning, believing we know how our day is going to go, yet feeling surprised when things don’t go as planned. It doesn’t prevent us from stepping into our cars and onto the road, a place where a million things can go wrong. Eating at restaurants, where we trust that those who prepare our food will keep hygiene and use safe products; and so on and so forth. Life is one big unknown.

The question is a matter of risk evaluation. What are the chances of one catching COVID and suffering the possible long-term effects of the disease, or even face death, versus taking a shot and risking its possible unknown futuristic effects. We each have our subjective opinion as no one really knows. Yet one may wish to ask themselves what sort of fear is controlling our decision. To claim that those who take the vaccination are acting out of fear is not to admit to one’s own fears. Whatever our decision, I suggest that we do not belittle others for what they believe is the right course of action for them.

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I understand

On occasion, I would find myself having a discussion with a person whose opinions and perspective are quite different than mine. There are also conversations in which the other party shares with me a challenge they are having. I used to see these situations as an invitation to provide my own opinion, or offer a word of advice. In the case of a difference in opinion, that would often lead to friction in which each party is trying to prove the other wrong. In the case of the other person sharing a challenge, the advice I provided was not always welcomed.

What I have learned is to simply listen, listen without making any comments. When the other person finishes to present their case, I would reply with, “I understand.” If my opinion is different, I understand does not mean I agree; just that I have heard them.

When it comes to a friend sharing a challenge, I do not offer an advice unless asked. The most that I will do is ask permission to offer my thoughts, saying, “can I offer my opinion?” When asking for permission, if granted, the other party is more likely to hear what I have to say. If they do not accept my advice, it is their choice, and I have learned to honor it.

This may be a little trickier with a spouse, a partner, or with my kids. Yet, they are no different. Working in the Light means that I commit to honoring the free-will of others, whether they agree with me or not. At times it is a challenge, especially when it is very clear to me that their choices are misguided, and may even lead them to harm. But it is the path I am choosing. I am learning to trust and have faith that if they stick to what they believe, it is by design and not mine to alter.

All this is still work in progress as I am shifting from old patterns into new ones.
Next time you see me and have something to say, if you hear me reply with “I understand,” you will understand why. 🙂

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So you made it to the position of the CEO, Doctor, Lawyer, Shaman, Married Spouse, Parent. Now What?

Many of us set a life-goal and then work hard at making it. Then, one day, we are there.
Now what?

I often meet clients in my healing and wellness practice, who had a dream and were able to fulfill it, yet, they suddenly feel empty. Maybe it’s a career choice, maybe it’s finding a spouse, having a child, maybe it’s running a marathon. We are conditioned from childhood to be goal-oriented. Thus, we set on a life journey to fulfill what our heart seems to desire. But then it turns out that when we get there, find that perfect relationship we so longed for, that dream job, filled our bank account with a million dollar, that it’s not enough.

When we set tangible goals, as large as these may first seem, we set ourselves for a disappointment. Someone once said that behind every beautiful woman, there is a guy sick of sleeping with her. It seems we can never be fully satisfied with what we achieve. The solution? St. Francis:

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

No, this is not a Christian or a religious blog post… It is a directive for living a fulfilled life.

It is in service that we find our peace. When we are of service, we are fully satisfied. The cup we wish to fill is never full. When we shift our focus from ourselves to those around us, there is no greater satisfaction. Pain and misery, darkness and fear can no longer linger within us.

When a President, a CEO, a Doctor, an Attorney, a Shaman, a Spouse, or a Parent, realizes that their role is to serve their country, employees, clients, family and friends, it is a goal that can never be entirely fulfilled, yet it is the most fulfilling. Our specific career path no longer matters. No matter what we choose to do, when we are of true service, we embrace the light and shine it onto others. The more we give, the more we receive.

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Understand and Agreeing

I find that there is a clear distinction between understanding and agreeing. These two terms may seem related, yet that is not the case.

When another person offers me her perspective and it’s totally different than mine, what would be my response? I may feel resentment, defensiveness, and rejection, but none of these reactions allow for a connection. Thus, while I may disagree with the opinion offered, I seek to understand the other party’s point of view. Granted, the other person may be aggressive in the way they present their view – as if it’s the absolute truth, but I realize that it is only their opinion, nothing more, nothing less. I can honor it without submitting.

To Illustrate I’ll use a radical example.
I can say that I understand the German people who supported the Nazis during WWII. How come? Given my Jewish roots I carry a lot of wounding when it comes to the Holocaust.
What I understand is that those Germans were a broken people after WWI; that Hitler gave them a sense of pride and hope; that hating Jews as a common cause was already a seed planted years prior by the church; thus creating fertile ground for things to come. I can understand all that and then some, but I still totally disagree with words spoken and actions taken. Yet, by understanding I am creating an open channel for communication, whilst if I reject the other side right at the start, we disengage and that usually leads to hostility of one sort of another. As Indira Gandhi once said, you cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.  

Understanding and agreeing, are not one and the same. I may hear the other party and disagree, but I can always strive to understand.

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Censorship and Freedom of Expression

How far should censorship go in a free society? Where is a balance struck between being sensitive to the feelings of a segment of the society and preserving the legacy of the past? Join Shane Lukas and Ronen Divon, express your opinion.
https://soundcloud.com/untamedpodcast/untamed57_2021-3-28-censorship

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Everything in life is a dance

One may dance alone,
or take a partner.
Someone leads,
the other follows.
Roles may be reversed,
or they may not.

If the partners are attuned and attentive,
the dance flows with harmony;
otherwise cacophony may take place.

At times the dance is a Waltz,
at times it may be a Samba.

Some stay with the one partner,
others like to switch.

Some may dance in private,
others in a ballroom.

Some dance as if their life depends on it,
some take frequent breaks and sit at the sideline watching.

Life is a playlist with a mixture of music.
Everything in life is a dance.

(c) 2021 Ronen Divon. All Right Reserved.

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Falling In and Out of Love

When we fall in love, we typically do not yet really know the subject matter of our love.
We may fall in love with a person, a place, a job, a pet, and even an inanimate object.
Falling in love, says Alan Watts, is an act of trust. Thus the word “fall.” We take a leap of faith, not knowing what the future holds in store for us, and thrust ourselves, often blindly, into the arms of the beloved.

Therefore, whom we fall in love with, is nothing but a figure of our imagination. This is important to understand. With some exceptions, such as falling in love with an old friend, one we knew for many years, and suddenly an arrow from Cupid makes us see that friend in a different light, we don’t really know who we fell in love with.

Over time, we get to know our newfound love, the person, the town we just moved into, our new workplace. It is then, more often than not, that we get disillusioned. This is because, hardly ever, our love subject can realistically meet the expectations set by our imagination. It is then that friction begins. We wish for them to be something they never were. Yet the fault is not theirs but our own. They were never that which we imagined. As the idiom goes, love is blind. We only saw what we wished to see; we ignored the rest. What follows is typically a disappointment. I love you, you’re perfect, now change, was the title of a 1997 musical comedy. It nailed it. The perfect we imagined, never was. When we realize it, we end up wishing to mold our beloved into the ideal existing only in our mind.  

As mentioned above, this process happens not only with a person.

We may land a dream job. The employer offers great benefits, amazing work environment, lovely co-workers. But after we work there for a while, the things we could not see when we were in love with this new job, suddenly surface. Maybe the company promotes the wrong people to managerial positions. We encounter dirty office politics. Benefits that look great at first, turn out to have catches we didn’t notice when we signed the employment agreement. We then fall out of love. Unrealistic expectations meet disappointment.

In another example, we may move to a new town that looks like the ideal place to live. Yet, after residing there for a while, the ideal we imagined in our mind, is not what transpired. Yes, we may still like the place in comparison with places we lived at prior, but, here too, we fell in love with something that never was.

Same applies with a leader we may follow, be it social, political, spiritual, religious, or otherwise. At first we think the world of this guru. We miss realizing that they are only human, with challenges and faults. Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, MLK, just human. There is much to be appreciated about some of these figures, to draw inspiration from, but when we idealized anything, we do wrong by both the subject matter and by us.

What I am learning over the years is not to evade falling in love. Falling in love is, well, lovely. Rather, I came to understand that it is a process. I realize that the intoxication that comes with falling in love is a form of illusion. I may allow myself to enjoy it for a while, yet if I surrender to this substance, disillusion must follow. Striking a balance between the joy of being in love and reality, is a skill I am developing. The key seems to be expectations. Realizing that the subject matter of my love is not the one that is changing over time. Rather, it is me who loses some of the blindness cast by Cupid’s arrow. Once I can accept that I fell in love with an ideal imagined only in my mind, I can be content with the relationship long-term, celebrating the nectar of falling in love, yet evading the disappointment that otherwise follows.

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