Guidance from the Darkness: The Transforming Power of the Divine Feminine in Difficult Times

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An exploration of our potential for personal transformation through experiences of pain and crisis.

Through years of working with congregants in pastoral care situations, Mary Murray Shelton, a popular leader with the United Church of Religious Science, has observed that difficult events and experiences in our lives are in fact opportunities for us to move forward in profound ways. In Guidance from the Darkness, she offers an alternative ...
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Overview

An exploration of our potential for personal transformation through experiences of pain and crisis.

Through years of working with congregants in pastoral care situations, Mary Murray Shelton, a popular leader with the United Church of Religious Science, has observed that difficult events and experiences in our lives are in fact opportunities for us to move forward in profound ways. In Guidance from the Darkness, she offers an alternative interpretation of what actually happens in those experiences of darkness, an interpretation that provides hope and steers the sufferer into new realms of power, love, beauty, strength, and success.

Reverend Mary explores the painful experiences of change, fear, anger, brokenness, and death. She describes seven Qualities of Being--attention, intention, choice, practice, surrender, intuition, and trust--which are tools we can use on a daily basis to help us successfully move through experiences of darkness. Going beyond symptom relief to the deeper causes of pain, she shows how our inner divine wisdom can custom-make for us a permanent healing that involves changing both behavior and thought.

Guidance from the Darkness is for everyone who wants to grow through pain rather than be shut down by it. Written with a fresh, contemporary honesty and filled with inspirational real-life stories and wise fables, it reveals how to listen to the darkness and find the key to freedom that is waiting there.

"Let this time of breaking down become a time of breaking through."--Mary Murray Shelton
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Editorial Reviews

Napra ReView
Eminently well-crafted, filled with wise fables and real-life stories, Guidance from the Darkness gives new meaning to life's inevitable difficulties.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Shelton, a leader with the United Church of Religious Science and an instructor at the Holmes Institute School of Ministry in Seattle, writes to those who are experiencing pain and suffering--or, perhaps, to other spiritual advisors. Like other books in this popular genre, hers proposes a formula for survival garbed in encouragement and inspiration. The first part narrates experiences of darkness derived from her years of working with parishioners in pastoral care situations. Shelton presents these stories to demonstrate the variety of human suffering, implying that her method of approaching pain will encompass and treat them all. Then, in the second part, she details her method, describing seven qualities of being--attention, intention, choice, practice, surrender, intuition and trust--which she views as tools for successful growth out of darkness. Throughout, the authoremphasizes that the key to discovering a new life in the midst of pain and suffering comes from opening to the Divine Feminine, the feminine aspect of the Presence of God. Although the book seems well intentioned, it is marginal and forgettable at best. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585420032
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


Change Is a Process,
Not an Event

* * *


Nature will not let us stay in any one place too long. She will let us stay just long enough to gather the experience necessary to the unfolding and advancement of the soul. This is a wise provision, for should we stay here too long, we would become too set, too rigid, too inflexible. Nature demands change in order that we may advance.

Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind


Change affects us all. Events happen in our lives and changes result, not only externally but internally, because change encompasses more than the events themselves; it includes our responses and our reactions to those events over time. The initial event has an immediate effect on us, and we have a response to that impact. But it isn't just the moment of impact that we respond to. We continue to respond, over time, to our memory of the event and to the sequence of unfoldments that follows. This whole change process influences our perception of life as we know it. The country-western singer Kathy Mattea sings, "I loved life as we knew it, I still can't believe we threw it away. Good-bye, that's all there is to it: life as we knew it ended today."

    Because the effect of a particular event alters life as we know it, it sets into motion a sequence of unfoldments. These unfoldments are our sequential responses to the event, as well as to our own previous responses, and the responses of other people. An example would be the way one's thoughts and feelings mightchange about the initiating event as time goes on. When a relationship breaks up, the partner on the receiving end may initially feel hurt, and later move toward being very nice and cooperative in an attempt to be taken back. When this fails, the individual may begin to feel very angry, both at the leaving partner and at himself for his previous behavior during the breakup. He may act out this anger, attacking his former partner verbally. This may be followed by feelings of remorse and regret that spill over from current behavior to memories of other past relationships that didn't work out. Each feeling and action are part of a sequence of unfoldments in the change process for that particular individual experiencing the breakup. As you can see, they aren't logically linear, though each relates to the others. Sometimes they overlap or backtrack, and usually they get messy.

    We enter into a process as a result of that initial event. I am calling this process a sequence of unfoldments. We usually respond to that impact and enter the sequence of unfoldments that follows it unconsciously, from habit.

    When we fall in love, have a baby, lose a job, or let go of a loved one, our first response tends to be the automatic response we've been socialized to expect to have. We feel happy, we feel sad, we feel excited, we feel scared, we feel angry. But we can also have a response to those events that is chosen. To the degree that we can consciously choose our response to change, we're present in the experience in the moment. When our action is governed by habit, our attention is elsewhere: on the past, on the future, on other people's responses. When it is intentionally chosen, our attention is with the experience of the present moment. This allows us more freedom to respond in a way that relates appropriately to the current circumstances. Choices occur throughout the sequence of unfoldments. As each unfoldment arises, we may respond automatically from habit, or choose to really look at the opportunity before us to discover what the best response might be. When we choose to consider alternatives to our habits, we invite the Divine Feminine—that inner, intuitive knowing—to guide us toward the best choice.

    A particular sequence of unfoldments begins with an event that changes the status quo. Such a change usually initiates grief, the first unfoldment in the sequence, because the familiar, to which we are attached, must be released. Grieving requires time, but eventually a small measure of familiarity with the new circumstances begins to take hold, and we may choose to start to return to a more normal flow of life. We become aware, the second unfoldment in the sequence, that new life is emerging and that we are being called to enter into it actively.

    Our willingness to look deeply into the new and come to trust it enough to prepare to enter in is the third unfoldment. The fourth unfoldment is the action that emerges from that willingness. If we choose to enter the new, the unknown, and actively discover what our part is in this new way of life, our choice will trigger the fifth unfoldment: struggle.

    Because we are redefining life and our place in it, there is confusion in the sorting out. There is a struggle between what was and what is becoming. In order to enter into the new, one must be able to let go of the aspects of the old that no longer serve. Some of those are internal aspects of ourselves, and letting go of parts of ourselves usually entails struggle. If we see the struggle through to resolution, it leads to the concluding unfoldment in the sequence: when the struggle resolves, we discover ourselves as new beings or, more accurately, as more complete beings—transformed. The potential for this newness was always within us; we were simply unaware of it until the time for it was ripe.

    This entire sequence of unfoldments is one of the natural expressions of the Divine Feminine: change itself, in its mysterious, unpredictable, nonlogical occurrence, is an aspect of the nonlinear, holistic divinity within us. Change need not be the destruction we often perceive it to be. Rather, it can be our opportunity to evolve into the next phase of our fullest expression of self, and when we do so in cooperation with the process itself, the greater Self within us, this expression of the Divine, is revealed and allowed to do its work.

    At each unfoldment in this sequence, the Divine Feminine can be felt as its influence is brought to bear on us, guiding us toward the right choices via our intuition—that sense of inner knowing. Along the way, we can choose at each point to continue moving toward the new, or to fall back on habits rather than complete the process. Our choices determine who we will have become when the dust has settled.

    Let's look at the unfoldments in more detail.

    When a momentous event hits, it's like a meteor landing in our life. Whether the event is positive or negative, one of the components that follows its impact is often grief. Have you ever experienced the blues after achieving a long anticipated goal? Perhaps it is because achieving it means that now you must let go of life as you have known it. Even a good event creates a feeling of loss because of its effect on the familiar. A promotion; a new relationship; a move to another part of the country where you've always wanted to live, all require letting go of something familiar. So the first unfoldment in our process of change is grief.

    We might stay in that unfoldment for any length of time. The need to grieve a change is natural and human and healthy. Each of us is unique in the amount of time that we need to grieve. For major losses like the death of a spouse, a minimum of two years of grief seems to be the norm. When grief comes, its first effects can be confusing. We may feel numb, alternating with waves of raw emotion. Sometimes it seems we're fine, then depression comes. We can't concentrate well, become forgetful, have no appetite, sleep poorly. Some of us think we're going crazy when these things happen, particularly if our intellect has always been a source of direction and comfort. It seems the intellect cannot grasp the idea of a permanent loss. The idea of forever is beyond true understanding, and when a permanent loss alters our lives, the intellect tends to shut off and leave us only with a sort of automatic pilot. The automatic pilot gets us to work on time, but we may not remember how we got there, or if we had breakfast, showered, or even dressed.

    When my husband and I were divorced, this is exactly how the grief affected me. I managed the everyday things that needed to be done. I bought groceries, prepared meals, bathed my son, got him to school, went to work. But I felt hollow inside—empty. At other times I felt overwhelming grief. I couldn't understand how the sun could continue to shine as if everything were fine, when my life had been smashed to smithereens. It took quite a while before my emotions and thinking began to feel really familiar—over a year, in fact. And that is when I began to come back to life.

    Grief is a release of energy that opens the way to letting go of something or someone or some circumstance to which we are attached. Without the grieving, we never seem to fully let go, thereby never becoming fully free to enter into the new. But grief is not meant to be hopelessness. When the attachment energy begins to be diminished through the expression of grief over time, we begin to lose grieving momentum. We look up out of ourselves and see the world again. We begin to realize there are things, people, circumstances, beyond the ones we lost, which may need us in some way.

    Two women I knew in Seattle had lost children in automobile collisions with drunk drivers. One remained angry, never resolving her grief, and used the pain as an excuse to indulge her own drug problem. Another struggled with her loss, found a way through the grief, finally, and turned to her art to communicate the importance of forgiveness between individuals and nations. One chose her habit, the other a new approach to her crushing loss.

    This dawning awareness that we are being called out of our grief usually begins to happen in us spontaneously. Spontaneity itself is another aspect of the Divine Feminine. We cant't predict when the time will be right, but when it is, we will know it. We may or may not feel ready for it, and this may determine our willingness to respond affirmatively to life's invitation to reenter the stream of activity fully.

    At some point, life starts to give us clues, little opportunities to look up out of that experience of grief and make ourselves available to the shift that happens as our grief diminishes. We can ignore the clues and choose grief as a way of life, or we can pay attention to those clues. Usually we don't take the first opportunity. Life may be tapping on our shoulder for a while before we realize that opportunities to shift are showing up. Our clear realization is the beginning of awareness.

    I was in my final year of ministerial training when my husband and I separated. It was the hardest year of my life. After graduation, I spent six months simply going to work, and being with my son and roommates at home, Then I began to feel antsy to get on with my ministry, and slowly I began to prepare my résumé, photographs, audiotapes of sermons I'd given, and cover letters to send to churches who were seeking ministers. I felt less raw, less off-center, and more prepared to take up life again. I was becoming impatient with the status quo. I was spending more and more time thinking about the possibilities for my ministry. This was my entry into awareness, the next unfoldment in the sequence that follows grief.

    When we first begin to be aware that there are opportunities to shift out of grief and reenter life, we may find that we resist them. We may even respond with self-righteous indignation at the very suggestion that we might be done with grieving. But life will insistently begin to provide us with reminders to look up out of our grieving and make ourselves available for a new opportunity. Eventually, if we do, Life takes hold of us and draws our attention further away from the grief and back into life. It "calls our name." And if we listen to that calling and come forward, we move into the next unfoldment in the sequence. This is the beginning of willingness.

    When I began to be bored with grieving the loss of the marriage dream—telling the story, going through the memories and feelings—I began to be more aware of the present and future than the past, and my life could go forward again. I began to make plans. This was the beginning of the third unfoldment for me. I was willing to be an active participant in things again. I began to notice, with interest, opportunities to participate in, and contribute to, life. As I became aware of these opportunities, I discovered that some things seemed too demanding for me, while others looked like fun. Those that were both enticing and within my capacity began to get my attention, and I pursued these, eventually being ready for interviews at various churches and being hired as minister at one of them in northern California. For me, this was the beginning of action, the fourth unfoldment in the sequence.

    When we become willing, ready or not, we are expressing yet another natural aspect of the Divine Feminine: opening to and trusting the unknown. The Divine Feminine is the home of the mystery—that which we do not yet know. When we choose to trust that newness and open ourselves to it, we are immersing ourselves in the Divine Feminine and surrendering to its Guidance.

    What automatically follows willingness is action. This action doesn't arise out of a carefully planned list of goals. It arises, rather, out of an inner feeling that "it's time." And the action that is chosen arises from the center of our being with a feeling that can be a mixture of impulsion and knowingness that this is the thing to do. Action emerging out of knowingness, rather than intellectual analysis, is motivated by the Divine Feminine within us—that aspect of ourselves that simply knows. We may not be able to explain how we know, but we feel it strongly nevertheless. It is the intuitive part of our being that is leading the way.

    The action that we choose as a result of awareness and willingness determines our experience of an event and the impact it has on our lives. When grief has finally spent itself and we are invited to look at life around us again, we always have the option to look away from the present and spend our energy brooding over the past. Essentially this is the choice to continue to hold the life-is-over view. Our awareness has been pulled toward life, but we are unwilling to participate. We take no new action. We try to keep our lives as much like the past as we can, perhaps hoping to re-create that past once again, though this is never possible. A life that stops here is sluggish and lacks vision. Fewer and fewer possibilities are even noticed. The present becomes a museum to the past.

    If and when we choose to take up life again, we actively make choices that take us into the future, into newness. Moses is an archetypal example of one's change process being expressed through the unfoldments of grief, awareness, willingness, and action. Moses had killed an Egyptian soldier who was abusing Hebrew slaves, and he had gone into hiding in fear for his life. He fled from his place in Egypt as one of Pharaoh's chosen ones, and while in hiding in Midian, he married the daughter of a priest named Jethro, and began shepherding his father-in-law's sheep. There he grieved his loss of position, freedom, and respect.

    One day when he was out in the fields, he happened to look up and see a bush that was on fire but was not being consumed by the flame. The order of events that follow that moment in the story is important, because the progression reaffirms the sequence of our own unfoldments in the process of change. The Book of Exodus says, "And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. And he looked and beheld the bush was on fire and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burned. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called him out of the midst of the bush and said, `Moses, Moses,' And he said, `Here am I.'"

    In this short three-verse passage, Moses makes three decisions. The first is to be aware of life around him, and in order to do this, he has to set aside his preoccupation with grief. First, he looks at the bush. Granted, the burning bush was designed to get his attention and he would have had to be completely preoccupied with himself not to notice that a nearby bush was on fire. But how many of us overlook something as obvious as a burning bush when we are really wrapped up in ourselves? There are times when I could overlook a whole forest fire.

    The burning bush catches Moses' awareness, and he chooses to give his attention to it. That choice—willingness—is his second decision. He says to himself, "I will turn aside and see this wonder, see why this bush is not consumed." Meanwhile, the Infinite is waiting. Watching. "Is Moses going to notice? Good, he noticed. Is he going to pay attention? Yes, here he comes." Then God calls to him by name, and Moses makes the third decision—action—by responding to the call. The call itself signals the coming change in his life from a time of grieving to a time of newness. Moses chooses to participate in whatever comes next when he answers, "Here am I."

    In the first unfoldment of the change process, we may feel unfinished with sadness and mourning, but the Infinite never gives up on us. Next time it will be a bigger bush with a louder voice until, for many of us, it becomes irresistible, and we respond, saying, "Here I am." By the time we're ready to do so, we will answer almost without thinking because we are so ripe to go forward into the newness. This is the phase of the change process when we take action.

    It would be pleasant for us if taking action were the end of the change process, but there is more. Action motivated from inner knowing arises from the mystery itself—the Divine Feminine—and it challenges the way we have defined ourselves up to that time. A struggle usually ensues in which who we have been resists the change being motivated by who we are becoming. The two identifies "wrestle" with each other to determine which will be the Self that continues from that moment on.

    The Guidance of the Divine Feminine has brought us to the place of wrestling, and the courage that emerges from staying with the struggle until it is resolved and allowing the new to emerge is powerful indeed. Emerging from that struggle is a little like being a chick who has successfully emerged from the shell: the struggle empowers us for life. This is the most personally transformative part of the change process. In the book The Life We Are Given by George Leonard and Michael Murphy, Leonard states, "Your resistance to change is likely to reach its peak when significant change is imminent." This uncomfortable experience of resistance is what I mean by wrestling.

    Several years ago I saw a play in which the main character was offered an opportunity to step forward in his life into newness. The opportunities came to make his talent as an entertainer available in the world in a larger way and, in so doing, also to take hold of the love that he'd always wanted in his life. His own inner doubts surrounded him onstage like other characters, saying, "Who do you think you are? That's not you. This isn't your place." He listened to those voices, turned away from his possible future, and went back to who he had been.

    When I was leaving the theater after the performance, a friend commented, "Well, that wasn't very inspirational!" We had both been hoping that this character would take the opportunity to respond to the call as a result of his inner struggle. There is something in us that wants to see people make the choices that really will forward them in their lives. And so the Divine Feminine is with us. It nudges and pushes us to make those choices for growth and newness as irresistible as possible, but the choice is still up to us.

    The story of Jacob in the Bible also illustrates the struggle that is the fifth unfoldment in this change process. Initially Jacob seems to be favored by God, and he is certainly his mother's favorite. But he does some shady things. He steals the birthright from his brother, Esau, who is none too happy about it. He surreptitiously takes a lot of land, cattle, and possessions from his father-in-law. This is who Jacob is, this is how he has lived his life by habit. But it's time for change. Something motivates him to go back to the land where Esau lives and make peace with him. Wisely, he's a little nervous about it.

    Have you ever had a falling-out with a family member in which you have behaved particularly badly and you're making the first approach toward reconciliation? Jacob decides he will try and smooth his way in advance by sending gifts and flattering messages. Before long, Jacob has sent everyone traveling with him—his family, his servants, and all his livestock—ahead of him, and he's alone in the night. The Bible says that he wrestled there with a man—or in some translations, with an angel—until dawn.

    I've had nights when I have wrestled with who I have been and who I am becoming. "Am I going to step forward into this new experience, or am I going to step back into the comfort of the familiar?" The biblical story says that Jacob wrestled with the angel until dawn, and as they wrestled, the angel touched Jacob in the hollow of his thigh and it was out of joint. Can you imagine wrestling with your thigh out of joint? Painful. My own late-night inner wrestling often has had emotional or mental pain involved in it.

    But Jacob wouldn't let go of the angel, who finally said to him, "Let me go, it's almost daybreak." Jacob replied, "I won't let you go until you bless me!" The angel, impressed, said to him, "Who are you, what's your name?" Jacob said, "I am Jacob." But the angel replied, "Oh, no, not anymore you're not. Your name is now Israel, because you have power with God and man, and you have prevailed."

    In everyday terms, Jacob had persisted in the inner struggle until he had fully evolved into what he was becoming. The angel represents what we are evolving into, while the wrestling represents both our desire to grow into that new identity and our resistance to leaving behind that which is familiar. When we do the wrestling without giving up in resignation to what has always been, we become a new person. When we are transformed into something new, we have a new identity, and in Jacob's case, a new name.

    When I was hired by my first church as a new minister, I was not finished with the change process that began with the traumatic event of my divorce. I was entering the transformative part of that process that was set into motion by my choice of action following the grieving, awareness, and willingness. I might have chosen not to pursue the ministry at all, but to keep my minimum-wage job, stay in my hometown, feeling stuck. I might have chosen to fight with my former husband over property or custody rights. These choices would have had their own challenges, but they could have kept me rooted in the past had I wanted a reason to hang on. I wanted to go forward, and in making that choice I had to wrestle with the fears of the unknown that came from choosing newness in my life.

    A dear friend from Seattle drove to northern California with me and stayed for the first week. I remember saying good-bye to her and watching the airport bus pull out of the parking lot. As it drove away I remember thinking to myself, "What have I done? I have no idea how to do this. I know no one here. I'm miles from my home, my son, my family. I must be out of my mind!" And I went into the park next door and cried.

    When we are in the process of wrestling, our willingness may begin to fade, and we sometimes think, "Oh, I give up. That's it. I can't do it!" We may give up our emerging good, like the character in the play I saw, because we think we have so much difficulty to overcome. Even a temporary giving up isn't really the end in life, though. When we've rested we may find ourselves wrestling again. The tendency within us to grow is usually stronger than our resistance and fear of the unknown. It doesn't go away easily. Edison supposedly tried ten thousand times before he made a lightbulb that worked. It is said that someone asked him, "How does it feel, failing to prove your idea?" He was totally baffled. He responded, "What do you mean? I have successfully eliminated over nine thousand ways to make a lightbulb!" If someone we know today tackled something with that kind of persistence, we'd sign him up for a twelve-step group. We'd say, "Tom, this is an addiction. Let it go! It's not working!" But there is no limit on the number of tries we may take in the transformative wrestling match between the I-was and the I-am-becoming.

    I had to enter into the kind of inner struggle that pits the identity of the past against the emerging identity of the future. In that struggle I encountered fear, doubt, confusion, a feeling of inadequacy, inexperience, and loneliness. I wanted to give up and run home, but thankfully, I didn't. I stayed and struggled with the newness—in my work, my role, my personal sense of identity—and in doing so I discovered capacities I'd hoped I had. I watched and felt myself in my new role as minister. I found compassion, fairness, the ability to listen and to handle difficult people and situations, all growing stronger day by day. I made mistakes, but in the process I found a self I had never known, and one I believe I might never have found had I made the choice to hold on to the past.

    Each time we come to a transitional place in our lives, this sequence of unfoldments is set into motion once more. This is true for us collectively and globally, too. A spiritual colleague of mine who began his career as a mathematician once said, "I used to believe that all scientific discoveries took place in an orderly sequence, each one building upon the one that went before. But when I researched them I found that this wasn't true at all. What actually happened was that as each new discovery emerged it completely blew the previous paradigm asunder!"

    Personally and collectively, change is part of our nature, whether we welcome it or not. Understanding and cooperating with this sequence of unfoldments as the healthy, natural activity of the Divine Feminine in our lives can be the key to allowing the change to take us into transformation, revealing wondrous parts of ourselves that were hitherto unknown. The sequence of unfoldments that begins as grief can end in glory.

    Action that transforms us grows out of the parts of our life that came before. It grows out of the grieving. It grows out of the looking up, becoming aware, discovering our willingness to act. The validity of that action is tested and proven by the struggle that follows it. The mystical alchemy of awareness, willingness, positive action, and struggle results in the revelation of a new being.

    When we have successfully wrestled with the angel, our sense of identity shifts. Not only that but our interpretation of the momentous event that started our grieving can also shift. Initially our tendency is to view painful experiences as loss and limitation. We see wholeness as having things restored to the way they previously were. When we come through the inner struggle, we often have a new perspective on the catalytic event itself. We see how the devastation of the initial event led to the sequence of unfoldments that followed it, and the choices we made in each of those unfoldments contributed to the goodness of life now. We can sometimes see, in retrospect, that the initial event held the seeds of blessing all the time.

    Although I was already in the school of ministry and planning a new career when my divorce took place, I believe I have more compassion because of the pain I experienced in the divorce. Yes, I would have learned new things and gained new strengths naturally in entering a new field, but I experienced these in an accelerated way because I entered this new life alone. I had to learn quickly to cope with everything that came my way. My faith was deepened, because I had God first and foremost to rely on for support and guidance in decisions I had to make. I felt God, manifesting as the Divine Feminine within and around me, much more strongly in my life than ever before. While it seemed a devastating loss and limitation in my life when it occurred, my divorce and the events that led up to it could be seen as important clues. In retrospect, they became bits of information that pointed the way to a vital message for me, saying, "The next steps in your life, you must take on your own."

    When we are in grief because something is lost in our experience, we keenly feel the limitation. We feel the hole where that something precious once was. When we come to the point where we've completed the transformational struggle, we may instead see that the loss was not limitation but information from which to build a new life.

    Not everyone chooses to come that far. Some may choose to stay with the interpretation of limitation. Mark Twain wrote that a cat, once it has sat on a hot stove, will never do so again, but neither will it sit on a cold stove. So the cat permanently loses an opportunity because it has made too big a generalization. Human beings have the opportunity to make big generalizations, but they also have the opportunity to distinguish between hot and cold stoves. A divorce can stimulate one person to disavow personal relationships permanently. It can teach another how to grow so that her next relationship is more successful, and she is stronger and more compassionate.

    In addition to the personal, there are communal and global instances in which reinterpreting ideas of limitation can reveal them as information. When this is done, those limited ideas need no longer stop us from going forward into the newness we feel called to express.

    Author, motivator, and dynamo Tony Robbins says that his life was once as unsuccessful as it is abundantly good today. He was jobless and overweight, his girlfriend had just broken up with him, and his apartment was so small he had to wash the dishes in his bathtub. In an attempt to unravel the mystery of success, Tony began to observe successful people he admired. His theory was that if he could identify what they were doing that was effective and repeat what they had done, he could achieve similar results. It took time, and there were numerous, difficult setbacks, but in the long run it worked for him, both professionally and personally. To accomplish this goal, he had to stop seeing his past failures as reasons to be self-critical and begin to look at them as valuable experience from which to make better decisions. He had discovered some of what didn't work—that was valuable information. Now it was time to find out what did work.

    Today Tony's students number in the thousands worldwide, and many of them are well-known personalities who swear by his techniques. He has even worked with the military to improve the performance of their sharpshooters, although he knew nothing about the skill. How? First, Tony asked and received permission to observe their finest sharpshooters. He watched them carefully, asked questions, and compiled all of the information. Tony assembled the finest knowledge and performance of the most talented shooters and taught those techniques to all the students, whose performance improved dramatically. Tony never fired a shot.

    What if he had become discouraged by all of the obstacles he had to overcome to reach his goals? What if Tony had quit trying? Lots of people might still be struggling to find out why their personal and professional efforts weren't bringing about the desired results. Tony chose to look for the information that would turn his failures into successes. He committed himself to a personal vision of a better life and then expanded that vision to include better lives for others. As a result, many people are happier and more successful today than they were before they heard of Tony Robbins.

(Continues...)

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Foreword xi
Introduction xv
PART ONE: Experiences of Darkness
Chapter One Change Is a Process, Not an Event 3
Chapter Two The Gift of Fear, and the Courage to Enter
the Darkness 30
Chapter Three Anger: Friend or Enemy? 48
Chapter Four From Brokenness to the Discovery of
Wholeness 83
Chapter Five The Journey from Death to Rebirth 107
PART TWO: Qualities of Being
Chapter Six Qualities of Being and Guidance 129
Chapter Seven Attention 145
Chapter Eight Intention 159
Chapter Nine Choice 174
Chapter Ten Practice 184
Chapter Eleven Surrender 197
Chapter Twelve Intuition 210
Chapter Thirteen Gratitude 221
ChapterFourteen Trust 236
Afterword 244
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2000

    Mary Murray Shelton's gift

    I was fortunate enough to study with Reverend Mary during the early years of her service as minister at the Santa Rosa Church of Religious Science. Being raised in a spiritually abusive setting, I would have never imagined myself attending a church ever again, by choice, as an adult. Then I was introduced to Reverend Mary Murray Shelton. I had attended similar churches before and was somewhat familiar with the principles of this congregation. No other teacher I had ever experienced drew from the same eclectic inspirational sources which I myself had chosen. The Truth flowed thru this teacher with a naturalness which dissolved obstacles to spiritual understanding. To read this work is truly a gift to oneself. A gift of connection and hope given thru the compassionate mind of a true healer. To hear Mary Murray Shleton speak is even more of a gift as she blends her teachings for both our rational mind and our spiritual needs. We can only hope that there will be forthcoming audio tapes with meditations on related themes.

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