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Despite how carelessly and unthinkingly we at times toss them around, words are very important. So important in fact that it is believed we can achieve our wildest dreams by verbalizing our intention to be happy, to be free, to be well. And to win the game of life, and other games besides, there is really no more expedient method than through voicing our desires aloud in the humble spirit of prayer. 

The power of prayer is huge. I learned this when as a thirteen-year-old boy my nightly routine consisted of imploring the "power that be" for our baseball team to win our next game. I kept beseeching, we kept triumphing. First the district championship, where we bested cross-town rival Culver City in back to back one-run nail-biters, then onto section, and finally through division where we squeaked by a bigger and stronger team from Anaheim. We made history that summer of so long ago, no team in Beverly Hills before or since having made it as far as we did: all the way to the regionals, which took place in Arizona.

It has been said that the universe is a university, that we come to earth to further our spiritual growth. Despite what the body with its cravings may have us believe, we are spiritual beings at the core, don't you know? And we hail from a spirit realm compared to which the earth is a mere shadow of the beauty and glory from which it derives its inspiration. I speak from firsthand experience with the spirits of my deceased mom and brother that death is not an end but merely a transition. The "other side," or the Great Beyond, as I like to call the place from which we come and to which we return when our time on earth is done, is as real as anything under the sun.

There is a dynamic link between the spirit realm and ours and we need the disembodied souls to assist us with our progression in time and space. Assist us they are happy to do - provided we open our hearts and minds. And of course, provided we ask! Our guardian spirits want to help. Life's purpose, after all, boils down to selfless service. Countless accounts attest to the fact that whatever we become or do while in human form is meaningless unless we do it for the benefit of our fellow earthlings. We should use our gifts and talents not for selfish aims but for the greater good. And it is through service that we grow spiritually. It is clear that we volunteer to come to earth, and that each of us serves an integral purpose in the brief time that we are here, despite how unbelievable this may seem at times. You mean the drunks and druggies and pederasts and politicians actually contribute to the world's well-being?

Yes, we all perform a vital function. Even the degenerates. There are stories of spirits coming as drunks and debauchees to teach their better-off friends empathy for the afflicted. We are actors on the grand stage. So even when you feel baser emotions such as rage, know that this is just the part you are playing in the grand drama, however seriously you may take your role, however convinced you are by your own performance. Even sorrow has its place, for before we can know joy (which is another name for love, and love is after all our true nature) we must suffer at least a little. This is growth for the spirit, real growth, the type that is hampered by material comforts. An obsession with possessions and excessively catering to the flesh weaken the spirit and therefore these appetites must be curbed. There I go sounding like a grammar school nun!

How to be a better instrument in the hands of destiny? Harmonize body, mind and spirit. The spirit controls the mind, which governs the body. Eat healthy foods to strengthen and align your cells. Calm your mind through reflection and contemplation. Recognize the immense power of thoughts. This material realm is born in the ethers of the cosmic mind, which is its blueprint. Thoughts translate to words which translate to actions. What we think and say, we become. This is the awesome power of words. Any negativity spewing from our kissers sends ripples of raging chaos into our environment before coming back to harm ourselves. So silence is often best. In keeping with the liquid analogy, still waters run deep.

Depression has become a malady in the modern world. What else is this mental disorder but a state of exaggerated self-centeredness? Indeed being so preoccupied with your own cares and worries as to ignore those of your loved ones represents the height of selfishness. It saps a person's strength and health more than many physical ailments. When we concentrate on the needs of others and attempt to serve our fellow human beings, we invite healing into our lives. We become our own personal physician! As one author writes, "service is a balm to both the spirit and body." 

Truly we can recharge ourselves through positive thoughts, through helping others, and through faith that things will always work out in the end. All experience is after all for the good. In the workshop of the world, we are fashioned into perfect tools for the highest purpose. Even those experiences we deem negative or otherwise unpleasant help to develop our spirits. Even diseases such as cancer, and the drawn-out death that too-often ensues, provide a person with the opportunity for growth she otherwise would not have had in perfect health. It is said we even choose our own illnesses and afflictions, for the lessons they teach us! Also, some people choose to die to help others grow. It was said of my brother Justin, "He died so you could live." I believe this. There are no accidents. Everything is exactly as it should be. So don't take your life. And aren't there so many forms of suicide? Junk food, cigarettes, benders, self-defeating beliefs. The body is a temple, and so is the mind. Suicide deprives us of opportunities for greater development and service in the laboratory that is life. Reflection on what might have been becomes a source of sorrow and regret. I need to remind myself this when I think about baseball. Our greatest challenges are also our greatest teachers, and since creations starts with a thought, think happy ones. I really think that if the likes of Hemingway and Hoffman and Houston and so many other talented if afflicted souls had decided to postpone their premature exits for the morrow, they'd still be around to talk about it. This too shall pass is a cliche because it's true! Boy this is sounding like a pep talk.

When we come to earth, we suffer a sort of amnesia, a forgetting where we came from and why we're here. We need this forgetfulness, at least for a time. The spirit realm is so delightful that if we could remember its glory and perfection, we might live in a state of constant frustration here on this troublesome earth, which would prevent us from fulfilling our mission. So treat life as a school where you can learn many things and develop new attributes, even if you sometimes must sit still and behave. And know that when it's over you go home to some place great. While here, remember that we all desire to make the trip. And always that desire is born of love and service, however forgetful of our origins we have become. To connect with your destiny, contemplate it. Sit in silence. Your memories are contained in the cells of you body. All thoughts and experiences are recorded in the subconscious, which sees everything. You are the eternal witness. Your death has been appointed before you were born, and everything between birth and death has been willed - by you! The remembering of your purpose the Greeks called anamnesis.  Because it has a name, remembering is therefore possible. So, do it!

As for that baseball team of so long ago, when we got to Phoenix, for some reason I still cannot figure out, I stopped praying. And the result? I promptly fell into a hitting slump and after two straight losses in double elimination our team was sent home. How I cried as we lost our final game. Right there on the field, just sobbed my little heart out. What really stung then as now is that we were the best team by far in that tournament, a favorite to go all the way to the national championships. Maybe South Everett, the team that dealt us our final defeat, had said their orisons the night before and therefore had God and the angels (or whoever answers prayers) on their side. Maybe the Union City kids who went onto the championship in Michigan needed victory more than a bunch of kids from ritzy Beverly Hills. I guess it's all meant to be. Anyway, some of the best friendships of my life were forged that summer of '86. I love you, Bryan and Deej and Jay. Near or far, you're like angels in my heart. I pray for you, and you Nick, and Robby, and Schneider and Weigold and Newman and the rest of the crew. Guide us, protect us, direct us. May all the beings everywhere be happy and at peace.


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