Lisa Natoli talk on Abundance at Unity on the River

This is a talk I gave at Unity on the topic of Abundance: Double or Nothing: Let It Ride!!

Transcript:

Living more Abundantly: Double or Nothing, Let it Ride
by Lisa Natoli
at Unity on the River

Carol: A little background: Lisa Natoli loves Unity which she discovered in 2009 when she found a Charles Fillmore book, Keep a True Lent, and she found it in a Laundromat in a box of free books in Maine. (laughter) I thought that was amusing. She is a Unity prayer chaplain here at Unity on the River. And, she co-hosts a weekly radio show with her husband Bill Free; it’s on Unity FM radio every Friday afternoon at 3pm EST; it’s called Living in Joy. She is a teacher of A Course in Miracles. She underwent a transformation, which included being healed of alcoholism and addiction by practicing and applying the principles of A Course in Miracles, which she found in 1992. She has dedicated her life to God and to helping others through their own transformation and awakening process, because of her deep gratitude to the people who were there for her over the years, encouraging and inspiring her and shining their light when all she wanted to do was quit and go back to her old ways. She’s a minister, she’s the author of the bestselling book, Gorgeous For God, and co-founder and spiritual director of the nonprofit organization Teachers of God Foundation, which offers retreats, workshops and online, and many online programs for transformation including the 40 day program which is free and available to anyone who is ready for a new way of life. Her favorite day of the week is Friday morning, right here at Unity, where she and Bill teach A Course in Miracles group; it meets from 10:30-12:00 if anybody is interested, you are invited.
Her personal mission in life is to inspire and encourage people to make a commitment to take the journey from fear to love, from pain to peace, from lack to abundance. Let us give a warm Unity welcome for Lisa Natoli.
Lisa: Oh good morning, it’s good to be here. Thank you for coming out, this truly is a center of inspiration and transformation and celebration here at Unity on the River. And, we are in a place of transition right now, we’re without a minister. But look at this, this is a community, and I’m getting chills. It’s so incredible to be able to be able to meet other people who have this kind of passion for God, this kind of passion for the Holy Spirit. And what’s amazing is that the doors are open to everybody; it doesn’t matter what your faith is, it doesn’t matter if you believe in God, it doesn’t matter. So, thank you for being here.
I want to make sure I cover the main points here today. I was invited as a guest teacher here and this is hilarious, I was asked to do my talk on abundance. And the reason that’s funny to me is because two and ½ years ago I had no money, no job, three large credit card debts, and now I am being asked to come up here and share on the topic of abundance. So I’m really grateful because what happened to me, I’m going to talk about my own journey with using certain practical steps of really coming centered in God and how it will change your life. And what I’d like to do is talk about three stories from the Bible that demonstrate Jesus’ parables and some of the things that he did with the fishes and the loaves. I want to talk about the wedding at Cana when he turned the water into wine, and I want to talk about the three talents.
This is a place where you can use practical stories, and the reason I love Unity, when I first found that book in the Laundromat, I couldn’t believe it because it was just, you know, novels and trashy beach reads up in Maine. And he is so passionate about Jesus Christ. On every other page, he talks about Jesus in a way that is not religious. He really talks about Jesus as a man, as a demonstration of how we can live our lives. And so, I am a teacher of A Course In Miracles. I underwent an extremely dramatic transformation with that work, and, I just want to briefly say, before I begin my talk, that I had no reference to God, I had no reference to Jesus. And I hear a lot of people that say “oh I don’t want to hear this because you’re using that God word.” And because of what happened to me, I always invite people to just keep an open mind. I was living in New York City, I was working in publishing, I was making very good money, I was in a company that loved me, I was traveling all over the world, I have everything the world says you should have to be successful, but there was something deep inside of me that just was afraid all the time. It was like a house of cards. So I drank, and I drank very heavily, and I smoked cigarettes. It was like, how do I calm myself down? Then I found A Course In Miracles in 1992, I didn’t understand one word of it, not one word! But I knew deep down it was the answer to my prayers. I just knew it. And I really just began to have an open mind. And what I did, it was on July 4th 2000, I was in my living room in Brooklyn, and I didn’t even believe in God, it doesn’t matter, but I said “God, if you’re there, help.” Six days later I lost that job in marketing. And I knew, it was like I wasn’t afraid, I just thought, “OK, God, if you’re there, I want to work for you.” And I had this idea that I would work for God maybe helping to volunteer and I’d keep my job in publishing. Well, he needed me full-time!
So, what I want to talk about today, and this talk “Living more Abundantly: Double or Nothing, Let it Ride” is inspired by a Sunday talk that was given by my teacher. He’s called the master teacher, he’s no longer here, and over there is a whole row of people who were there in Wisconsin with me. There was an academy in Wisconsin for A Course in Miracles and for transformation. And he gave a talk one Sunday called “Double or Nothing, Let it Ride.” And it’s based on a movie from 1982 called, Let It Ride, with Richard Dryfuss, and it’s a story about this guy who is a cab driver, and his life is going nowhere. And he’s got these two guys in the back of his cab and he overhears them talking about a horse race and something stirs in him. And that’s the first step when you are going to have a change of direction in your life, you’re going to hear something , either it’s going to come from your own thoughts, you’re going to hear a song, or you’re going to hear somebody speaking. But something is going to activate you that’s going to cause you to go in a different direction. So he goes to the horse races and he just starts betting, he’s fearless. And he’s betting on all the horses that are not supposed to win. Has anyone seen that movie? No? It’s really good. And, what he does is, it’s like it’s not about the outcome for him, he’s just alive, you know? He’s out there. And what happens is that he’s activating everyone around him to be alive and everyone is rooting for him, and it doesn’t matter. And this is what living more abundantly means, is that you come into a place where you just want to be more alive, you don’t care of the outcome anymore. It’s not about working to get a big house and a big car and the things that are later. It’s like right now, you want to be more abundant, you want to be alive. And at the end his betting is so random, and at the end of the movie he doesn’t know who to pick so he goes to the horse stables and a horse winks at him, and he bets on that horse! So, it’s about double or nothing, just let it ride. And what he does in that movie is, he puts everything in. He’s wanting to bet on this one horse, and he’s asked everybody which horse is going to win? Number three, he crosses that one out; number four, he crosses that one out; number ten, he crosses that one out; number twelve he crosses that one out; until he’s down to one horse that nobody chose and he picks that horse. He puts all of his money on the table and the guy behind the counters says, “are you sure you don’t want to save like a little bit in case you want a soda after words?” And he reaches into his pocket and he’s got some change, he’s got enough, and he wins. And it’s a really great example of you have to put all your eggs into one basket.
And that’s what happened to me. I was here in this church in March of 2012 and no money, no job, three large credit card debts, and what had happened for me was with A Course in Miracles is that every other aspect of my life had been completely transformed. I was healed of alcoholism, healed of depression. And thank you Carol for that in the beginning because it did bring me into a place of joy all the time, but I still had no money. So I’m like, OK. A Course In Miracles teaches that whatever your experience is that seems outside of you is happening in your mind. And when you want to see a change in your life you have to shift your thinking. And it says when miracles are not happening something has gone wrong. And the something that had gone wrong was my fear. So Mary Shipley Allinson who is a minister here at Unity stood up here and offered a five week prosperity class. And what will happen to you, when you’re ready for a change, you will do something new. And I said I’m going to do everything she says, I’m going to do everything. It’s a tithing class and I had never heard of tithing before, and tithing is where you give 10% of every dollar that comes in, and you give it back to the person, place, organization, that is spiritually feeding you. It could be a church, and organization. I had no money, but I thought I can make a commitment for everything that comes in after this point to give 10% of that. Where a lot of people miss the mark on tithing is that it’s not about the money, it’s that you’re acknowledging that everything comes from God. You are acknowledging God as your source and supply. So when money comes in, it’s like thank you God, this came from God, and you’re keeping it in the flow. So I’ve asked Maura later as the song she’s going to play, it’s one of my favorite, Let the River Flow, because the second line is ‘Holy Spirit come.’
So, you’re removing the blocks that have been there to the flow of the abundance in your life, and you invite a power greater than yourself to come into your life. And that’s very, very important that you invite that power to come in. Because a lot of people just sit around waiting, and waiting, for a miracle, and it never comes, because you have free will. You have free will and nothing can happen to you until you invite God in. You don’t even have to believe in this power and then everything starts flowing. So when I took this class the first week was my birthday, it was in May 2012, and I got like four birthday checks. I thought well that’s a coincidence and then I thought to myself I’m forty five, I’m not five, I shouldn’t be getting birthday checks anymore, you know? So I immediately tithed on those checks, and I remember telling Shipley I have three large credit card debts. And she said, “everytime, usually, you have debt, it means there is some area in your life where you have not forgiven.” At that point I thought, “no, I’ve forgiven everything, I’ve been doing A Course in Miracles for a long time.” But I was so open to really saying ‘no, that’s got to be right’ and looking for any spots of darkness now where there is not flow. And I was just doing the work, I was so willing.
And then it is also inviting you to really just acknowledge God in everything and be open to divine ideas. So my husband and I Bill had this great idea, which we thought would be fun, to start a non-profit organization. And we had no idea how to do it, we wanted to do something that was going to support individuals as they go through their transformation which can often be very scary. And the next week I got a check in the mail for $10,000 from somebody who read my book, Gorgeous for God, and had been inspired by it because it helped her through her mother’s transition. And she just said, “I want to just honor you with this $10,000 check.” And I tithed $1,000 of it and from that moment on it’s like something shifted in me where I really saw I’m only here to give, I’m only here for God.
So I want to read some passages from the Bible. This is the King James Bible. I’m going to read the parable of the talents and I’m going to read a little section on the fishes and the loaves. But this first one is about a guy who owns a lot of land and he’s going away and he gives his servants talents; talents at that time was money, like coins. For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another he gave two, and to another one, one talents, to each according to his own ability. And immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded them and made another five. And likewise, he who had received the two gained two more. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground and hid his lords money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled those accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents and said, “lord you delivered me to the five talents” and he said “well done.” And then the second one, the two talents, he now had four, and the owner says “good job, good work.” And the one who was afraid, who buried it, and he just wanted to have that one talents to give back, and what the owner did is he took it back. “Look I have it,” he said. He said, “why did you hold on to it?” “I didn’t want to lose it.” And, so what this parable is about is, you get double or nothing of what you sow and what you don’t sow. You do. You get double of the nothing that you hid and buried. And that’s why the sick get sicker and the poor get poorer.
It’s a law, we’re working with a law here. It has nothing to do with if you’re good or you’re bad. It’s literally blocking the flow. And so, when you’re holding on to what you have in fear, you get more fear. So the entire spiritual transformation that’s offered in any place you go, is the removal of that fear. And so you start to hear something like that, and that’s what happened to me two and ½ years ago when I thought I have nothing to lose, I have nothing to lose. It was a five week class, I gave myself a five week experiment to practice this idea fully, that I have everything. That was my five week experiment. I am rich, I am a child of God, I don’t have to hold on to my money because there is a storehouse that’s been pouring through me like a river because I’m not blocking it anymore, and it started just flowing. And that’s why I love teaching this message now, because no-one needs to suffer. It says to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance. But from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away and cast unprofitable servant to the outer darkness, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And so today I want to talk about the greatest gambler who ever lived, Jesus Christ. He is the greatest gambler that ever lived. He gambled everything right up to the crucifixion. That crucifixion was a gamble, that was not a punishment from God, he knew what he was doing. Amen. Because if you look at what happened there, he had every opportunity to not go to the cross, right up till the end. And he said no, I’m going. When I think about it, I think even though he had received it as divine instruction it’s guaranteed you’re going to be Ok, I still imagine him trembling, he was trembling, in the garden of Gethsemane. He asked ‘take this away from me, take this cup away from me’ and that’s the place that each one of us is going to land at, when you’re standing in a place and contemplating whether it’s safe to give everything away. We’re not just talking about money, we’re talking about your love, your joy, yourself, your service. And, the only way you can absolutely know that what I’m talking about is true as a law, is to do it. You can’t read about this in a book, you can’t just listen to me. You have to make a decision that from this moment on, and that’s the beauty of it, you don’t have to worry ‘well I don’t have the money’ or ‘because of my job,’ it’s all just story, story, story. From this moment you could make a decision to give everything away and 10% of your money. And that causes a lot of fear, oh God, the tithing talk, here we go. But, something in some of you will say ‘what have I got to lose?’
So I want to tell two more Bible stories, the story of the wedding in Cana. It was Jesus’ first public miracle, and his mother was with him. They go to this big wedding and the mother says, “they have no wine.” I can just hear the mother saying that, “they have no wine, do something.” Because she has been with Jesus, she knows Jesus, she has been with him and she knew that he came in with angels and she knew his ability. And l like this story because each one of you have people in your life who are going to challenge you, there’s not a single one who doesn’t have someone whose going to challenge you. And what he says is “woman my hour has not come yet.” And we know what happened next, he turned the water into wine, so she much have gotten the last say. So what she did, and this is important, because what’s going to happen is you will have someone challenge you but as you start to undergo this process of seeing the freedom that’s going to come to you, you’re going to start to challenge other people. Sometimes I think about what do I do as a teacher. What I do is, I invite people to come to the edge, and then I say, “go.” That’s what I do, and I say, “go, it’s safe.” And what I hear more than anything else is “I’m not there yet.” I hear it all the time. ‘I’m too sick, I don’t have enough money, I don’t have enough time.’ And that’s what this is ‘my hour has not come yet.’ And I hear her say, “get over yourself. You make the wine because we need it right now.” And he did. And that was his first public miracle.
The final story I just want to share is the fishes and the loaves. And again I’m reading from the King James Bible which I feel is the closest translation; you know Jesus was speaking in Aramaic, and to me it’s the closest that’s remained of all the translations. It gives very practical ways that you can use this in your own life, it wasn’t about 2000 years ago. So when this happened, when Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fishes to feed 5,000, he’d already called together his twelve disciples, he had already been with them for a while, he’d already sent them out. He says “you have been ordained and I send you forth to heal the sick and raise the dead.” And, he’d already sent them out and he said, “if somebody doesn’t accept you, shake your dust off your feet and come back.” John the Baptist, his close friend, had already been be-headed. What Jesus wanted to do was take his twelve and go to a quiet place. So he took his twelve but by this point all sorts of healing had been happening so everybody found out where he was. So they followed him, 5,000 people followed Jesus and his twelve. And Jesus went forth and saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion toward them. And that’s what’s going to happen to you. You will be moved by compassion by the poverty that you see, but you don’t enter into it. And he healed the sick and when it was evening his disciples came to him saying ‘this is a desert place.’ Desert place means there’s nothing here, it’s barren. And that’s the situation most people live in, in the world, you’re in a barren desert place. That’s why I love that song you’re going to sing, Let the River Flow. You’re going to start to let the living waters of the life of God run through your life. So when it was evening his disciples came to him saying “this is a desert place and the time has now passed, send the multitudes away that they may go into the village and buy themselves….” So his disciples are saying ‘let’s go into the town and buy food.’ They’re thinking from their past reference of how we get food, and that’s what the human being does, it tries to figure out how can I have more money, more health, more wealth. What the Jesus Christ message is saying is you have got to turn to God, everything comes from God. And that’s an experiment to try in order to know that it’s true. So, Jesus called forth for what was there at that time, and in one of the gospels it said there was a young boy, there was a lad, he had five loaves and two fishes. And the disciples were completely doubting, this is not enough, there are 5,000 people here. He said ‘it’s enough.’ And that’s a prosperity lesson: whatever you have in your life right now, is enough. You have everything you need, right now. And this is a place where you start.
So, and he said, “we have five loaves and two fishes, bring them to me.” Use what you have. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass. This is Charles Fillmore, a law called Divine Order, that he’s centering himself, he’s calming himself. He’s not like ‘aagghh, 5,000, how to feed them?’ He’s creating order in his life. So these prosperity classes that are offered here at Unity on the River, this place rocks, I love Unity. Because you are given a place where you can be challenged of all your old ideas and test them out. And one of the things is you have to start centering yourself and create divine order in your life first, so that you’re energy is not chaotic and all over the map. And he took the five loaves and the two fishes and looking up to heaven, this is the secret, this is the next prosperity book that the world is going to see, because he’s looking away from the appearance now, he’s got everything he needs, and he’s looking away from the appearance up to God. Then, he blessed. So he’s blessing what he has. That’s another law, you start living in gratitude for everything that you have, right now, instead of saying I don’t have enough, be grateful for whatever you have. It’s an energy. And then, this is the most important, and he broke, he didn’t wait for 5,000 more to come, he took what he had, and he was in the action of giving. That’s the key, that’s the key to prosperity right there. That’s why tithing is so awesome, I love tithing. 10% is enough to keep you on an edge also because it really will bring up whatever fears you have. And when you start to do this you will see the river flowing. There has never once been a moment in the last two and ½ years since I have been living this way that I have ever not had money or anything….everything I need comes to me. Somewhere it says before you even ask, before you even know your need, it’s in front of your face. That’s my experience now, I don’t even know what I need, and it’s in front of my face, boom, it’s right there. And this becomes a really fun way to live.
So he blessed, he broke, he gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the multitude, and they all ate and they were all filled and there were twelve extra baskets left over.
So, this is an invitation to just get your energy moving. This is an invitation for a new beginning. So I would just like to say, double or nothing, let it ride.
Thank you.

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New Edition Available Now on Amazon! Here is the First Chapter – ENJOY!

The new updated edition of Gorgeous for God: Awakening through A Course in Miracles is now available on Amazon!
 

Forward to the New Edition by Donna Issac:

I was introduced to A Course in Miracles in 1999. After quickly
flipping through it, I was not interested–at all. It had that “God”
word in it. A lot. My business partner (we own a gym) had started
practicing the Course and had created a study group at the gym
which met for an hour each Sunday morning. After hearing her
talk about the Course and then watching her practice it, I became
intrigued. I was on my own path of practicing Buddhism, but still
experiencing much sadness and depression. I was also about to sell
my part of the gym and go to school in Boulder, Colorado to study
Structural Integration, and I was full of fear about the changes
beginning to take place in my life. I did go to the group and I did
begin to study A Course in Miracles but I did not complete the
lessons until 2003 and then I did them again in 2006. At that point
I believed that I had completed my studies with the Course and it
was time to “get on with my life”–which brings me to 2011 and
2012.

After five years of “getting on with my life” MY way, I found that I
and my life was a complete mess. I had become estranged from my
entire family including a niece who was much like a daughter to me.
My partner (we had met in the ACIM study group in 1999) with
whom I believed I shared a holy relationship with was asking–no,
demanding–that I move out of our home. Her entire family was
supporting and encouraging her 100%. I never felt so alone and
scared. I decided to dedicate one entire year with no distractions
to A Course in Miracles–doing the lessons exactly as they are
required. It was literally the only thing I had any faith in at all. Soon
after I started this journey my partner asked that we stay together
and both of us complete the Course as part of our journey as a
couple in a holy relationship. I still believed that God had brought
us together and we could turn it from special to holy with the help
of the Holy Spirit.

 

I first heard of Lisa Natoli when my partner mentioned a book that
she liked very much. She said that it really spoke to her in a way that
other ACIM related books did not. She talked about it constantly
and loved how down to earth and “real” it was. I asked her what the
title was and she said, “Gorgeous for God.” My first thought was,
“That’s a ridiculous title! It sounds like it’s probably more about
religion than the Course.” She started to read some of the passages
from the book to me and I liked what I heard. I especially liked the
parts where Lisa talks about drinking alcohol and smoking while
studying the Course (sounds familiar) and throwing the Course
away multiple times in frustration. I could definitely get on board
with that. At that time in my life, I much preferred the “My life is
going to shit” stories than the “Everything is awesome” version that
some spiritual books offer.

 

Right away I started to google Gorgeous for God and Lisa Natoli. I
found out that she offered a 40-day Online Program. I signed us
up! I thought it would make things so much easier as I was really
struggling with the Course. Lisa made it clear it was going to
require a commitment and that she was not going to do the work
for us–we would have to do it. She said she only worked with
people who said “Yes” to doing the work and being willing to
change because she found through years of working with people
that only the people who said “Yes” got results. We said Yes.
In the first email message, she said, “I’m not a counselor or a
therapist or a self-help teacher. We are not going to talk about your
problems and we are not going to fix your problems. I am going to
help you see you have no problems. The #1 goal I have in mind for
anyone who signs up for this program is to start relying on their
own inner Guide for answers. I am a temporary guide (40-days)
to show you how to start trusting in your own Guide who knows
you inside & out and who is with you always. Your Guide knows
everything about you: the greater Plan, the Big Picture and your
part in it.

 

So I teach God-dependency, not Lisa-dependency, not
anything-outside-of-you dependency. You’ll start to learn to trust
God and your own guidance. Most people are not used to making

time to listen to that still small Voice encouraging Voice within
them. As you start to live in this way, you will know joy and peace.”
My spirit wanted these promises to be true more than anything, but
my ego was pissed, but I went forward with it anyways.
For 40 days, Lisa guided me with kindness and love through the
secrets and darkness I harbored inside that had kept me paralyzed
for years. Each step was difficult and challenging but transforming.
Each step was a miracle.

After completing the 40-day Program, I found out she was offering
a 5-Day Teachers of God retreat in Maine. I signed us up! I was
excited because the retreat would coincide with my completing the
365 lessons in the Course. Everything was going well. I was excited

thinking of the peaceful, relaxing week long holiday in Maine at
a beautiful location right on the ocean–until I checked my email
at a layover in an airport in Washington, DC. Lisa had emailed
the group to let us all know about one final detail of the trip. We
would all be sharing a bathroom and shower! That was all my ego
needed. In my mind I imagined 20 people lined up in the hallway
with a towel and a toothbrush waiting to get into one toilet and one
shower. I felt the heat rising and a roar in my head–my mind was
off and running. To add insult to injury, at the end of the message
Lisa wrote, “I guess it will be like summer camp all over again,
LOL.” I was definitely not LOL! My first thought was, “OH HELL
NO! I’m going home. I will turn right around in Portland, Maine
and get on the next flight to Memphis, Tennessee.”

I can’t remember exactly what I wrote to Lisa, but I tried to appear
calm. It was something along the lines of: Are there hotels nearby?

 

Lisa answered quickly–yes, some lovely hotels right on the ocean.
She even gave me a list! That response didn’t go over well with me
at all. I thought she would catch on to my anger and annoyance.
So, I tried again. I wrote, “I’m not coming. I’m turning around and
heading back home.” Lisa ALWAYS responds quickly to emails.
I waited and checked my email to see how she would respond to

that. Nothing. I checked again and again and again. No response. I
boarded my flight to Maine. In Portland I checked my email again
at baggage claim. Nothing. I wanted her to talk me out of it–at
least try and get me to stay. Nothing. Silence. I was stunned. Where
was the cheerleader coach I had come to know? To add insult to
injury, my partner had decided to stay. I was on my own and I was
pissed! I watched as my partner drove off in the rental car. For the
first time in the whole process of this journey I didn’t know what
to do. The best I could come up with is do nothing. I asked for
guidance. I decided to sit on my luggage outside the airport until
something happened–I didn’t know what, but I decided to sit for
the whole week if I had to. The weirdest thing happened. I became
peaceful. The minute I decided to stop creating fear and just wait
for guidance (no matter how long it took) things began to happen
rapidly. After about an hour, my partner drove right up to me

outside baggage claim as I sat on my luggage waiting. I got up, put
my things in the car and away we drove–as if we had planned it
this way all along. I had changed my mind. I had come to a state of
readiness to accept a miracle.

This would not have happened without Lisa’s guidance. From the
beginning of the 40-day Program that I started with her she led me
to trust my own inner Guide. She would respond to everything I
threw at her with patience, love, kindness and compassion. I never
felt judged. But when it was time for me to find the answer within
myself, she stepped back and let that happen. No matter what I
had decided to do that day, whether I had gone back home or not,
I know that Lisa would have been there cheering me on–saying,
“WOOOHOOO!! Good for you Donna! I LOVE YOU!”
Working with Lisa, reading everything she’s written and being with

her in person has been transformative because she simply stays true
to her one calling and one purpose–to help every person she meets
to know “You are love, you are perfect and all you need is within
you, already perfect.”

 

Her message is always the same–there’s no journey, there’s only an
awakening.

In gratitude,

Donna Isaac
January 2013

Preface to the New Edition

 

A lot has changed since I published this book in 2007. I got divorced. I moved back to my home state of New Hampshire. I started eating meat again after being a strict (and very vocal!) vegetarian for 10 years. I was healed of my terrifying fear of money. I fell in love after swearing I’d never get into another relationship ever again. I paid off all my debt. This is all surface stuff. The most important change in the past 5 years is that I stopped seeking, stopped resisting and began to allow things to be exactly as they are without trying to change anything. It was like my eyes opened to what was always there, but I had been blind to it. Suddenly I saw how perfect life is, in all its ups and downs. Things change, but I remain forever the same: eternal and changeless. There is constancy in the way I see life now. I see God in everyone and everything, even in chaos. After years of fluctuation between light and darkness, there came a moment when there was only light and I knew I was changed forever and there was no going back.

This book is the story of my own spiritual awakening. It is very ordinary. Things happened slowly for me – there were no bells or whistles. No going into the light. I didn’t have a near-death experience. Instead, one by one, things that were no longer serving me dissolved and fell away – alcoholism, cigarette-smoking, fear, conflict, doubt. I found that as time went on, the ego-identity that I had built up over the years started to crumble, slowly, very slowly (at times painfully-slow!) and I found myself having almost no interest in the things I used be interested in.

This was a disorienting time for me – the old has fallen away and the new has not yet arrived – and I got through it because of the teachers in my life who told me to trust the empty space, that what I was experiencing – my life falling apart – was NORMAL.

So I share my story because of its simplicity and because it didn’t progress in a straight line. It didn’t happen all at once. It was messy and not at all graceful like some of the enlightenment stories I’ve heard. My moments of clarity didn’t stick. The ego continued to lurk around. I thought I must be the slowest learner on the planet. I’m glad I kept going. I’m thankful for all teachers in my life who have shared their own stories which encouraged me to keep trusting when I thought I was failing horribly.

I have heard thousands of stories of people awakening and no two stories are alike. There is no formula. There is no one right path. The end result is that you remember who you are. Some awakenings are dramatic and some happen so slowly that the person doesn’t realize it until one day they realize they are completely changed. Some people have spiritual awakening who weren’t even looking for one and who don’t believe in God, while others struggle and struggle for years on a spiritual path trying to reach enlightenment, reading every book and taking every workshop and nothing seems to happen. For other people, it’s one step forward, and then two steps back – an experience of light, followed by darkness and disorientation and confusion.

What does it mean to “awaken from the dream”? In my own experience, it is a shift in perception from fear to love. The fear-based self-constructed “I” (that worries, plans, plots, controls, lives in the past, lives in the future) dissolves and becomes the “I” that is Christ. This is the “I” that is used in the greeting “Namaste”: a salutation with hands pressed together as you greet another and bow slightly and means: I bow to you. That “I” is the Divine in me, honoring and bowing to the Divine in you. The gesture represents that there is a Divine spark in each of us that is located at the heart chakra, and it is an acknowledgment of the soul in one to the soul in another: I bow to you. I honor you. I see you.

 

So to be “awake” means to live from the perspective of Spirit, or God or Christ or whatever name you want to call your inner true self. It’s like shifting gears, and the false self dissolves. So when you say “I”, it’s the Divine speaking, and there is an understanding/acknowledgement that everything is part of you, one with you, Divine like you. There is no separation. You see the world and yourself entirely differently from before. People make a much bigger deal of it than it actually is, as if it’s some kind of nirvana and the whole world disappears. This is true in a sense, your whole world WILL disappear, but not in the way you might think. You discover who you really are. The best definition I know of enlightenment is from A Course in Miracles: “Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all. Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. The light is in them now.”

For me, enlightenment was to stop seeking ways to improve myself. It was to recognize that my old way of being was not working. I needed to see myself differently, and not try to come up with a new improved identity. For most of my life (after the age of 6 or 7), everything I did was to avoid pain and please other people. I was caught up in striving, achieving, seeking – I was very goal oriented – and I rarely let myself just “be.” I did not love myself, so I came up with tactics to try to get other people to love me. My life was driven almost entirely by fear. I was never good enough in my own mind, and one day, I realized: this is just frigging crazy! Am I going to keep living my life this way? That’s enlightenment: the moment you snap to your senses and realize you’ve been sleeping. You’ve been working a job you hate or you’ve been staying in a relationship you know isn’t working or you haven’t been expressing what is true for you. You’ve been sludging along, going nowhere, and suddenly you realize it. That’s enlightenment to me: a Whoa! Moment. On that day, you start making new choices, not because you’re trying to get anywhere but because you want to live life authentically, in a way that brings you joy. Enlightenment showed me that it was time to start loving myself and loving my life because no one else was going to do it for me.

I think a lot of the difficulty people have with awakening is because of all the misconceptions of what they think it is, what it’s supposed to look like. There is an idea that once you wake up, your life will be one big bliss party with no problems and everyone’s happy, and that’s the biggest lie that will keep you seeking the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. As everyone finds out, it’s not there. It’s an illusion.

I realized: This is it. This is my life. This is what it looks like. This is it. That was a turn-around day for me – to see that wherever I am, wherever my feet are is where the pot of gold is. Not “out there” and not “later” but right here in this spot.

I realize it is just plain not worth it to carry judgments, guilt and grievances around anymore. It happened to me when I was running a Bed & Breakfast in Wisconsin and mowing the lawn on a huge John Greene tractor, trying to cut the grass but mostly to get rid of the yellow dandelions. It took me a couple of hours, but I did it. I was proud of myself and very surprised to look out the window a few hours later to see the entire lawn covered in, you guessed it, dandelions!!!!

I went outside to get a closer look and that’s when I discovered that a dandelion is not a flower, it’s a root, a strong big root with many little buds. So when you chop off one of the yellow flowers, there are five more buds just waiting to sprout. The only way to get rid of a dandelion once and for all is to dig out the root. I wasn’t able to do the entire lawn, but I did do the area right in front of the house near front walkway and gardens. It took several days, but I did it – and I realized this is a great analogy for digging conflict out of our lives. It takes time and effort, but it’s definitely do-able.

Conflict is the gigantic root of all our problems. This is the reason when you “fix” one problem, there are five more problems by afternoon or the next day. You didn’t get the root out. It was evident to me that I still loved defending myself, still liked being the occasional victim, still enjoyed that I didn’t have to take full responsibility for my life, and that I got to wait and procrastinate instead of fully living life on purpose for God.

After I saw this, I made a decision: “I am done with conflict. I am going to be happy, no matter what” and within a very short time, my whole life fell apart. My marriage fell apart. My car died. My hearing aids broke. My computer broke, and both my cats – Sam and Enzo – went missing, never to return. At the time, I felt: OH MY GOD. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I cried for months in frustration. I mistakenly thought this journey was supposed to be smooth sailing once you dedicated your life to God, and boy was I wrong.

And then one day, in spring 2010, it struck me that I could, despite it all, be happy. I could “grow up” (stop being such a cry baby) and see all the possibilities for something new to occur. I could stop blaming other people for my lack of motivation. I could start participating and interacting in new ways. I could shine a light in the place I was standing in, instead of striving to find the light. Nothing external changed, but it was instant of recognition that showed me there is no good or bad, no right or wrong. I saw the complete unreality of this world. That everything is simply my observation and perception of it. When I don’t resist, that which I am looking at disappears. Judgment becomes meaningless when you know that you are looking at your own thought projections.

 

You have the power to choose how you feel moment by moment. You can begin to see how magnificent your life is, how beautiful, and simple and ordinary and lovely and how much there is to be grateful for.

 

You don’t need to struggle. You don’t have to listen to the doubting voice inside you anymore. There is an encouraging voice you will recognize if you are still and listen. Let that inner voice be your guide.

 

Gorgeous for God can provide the motivation, inspiration and support to help you recognize the light that you are and awaken from the dream, if that’s what you want.

 

It’s always good to find a teacher who can be a temporary guide until you recognize your real Teacher, the one that lives inside of you. No one knows you better than you. No one can do the work for you. No one can walk the path for you. YOU HAVE TO WANT IT, and allow your footsteps to take you where you are meant to go.

 

Nothing can stop you, except your own self-imposed imagined fear.

You have everything you need to find what you are looking for, but it cannot be seen while there is a veil of fear covering your eyes. The veil has to be lifted and that’s what this book is about – simple practical tools to see things differently.

Love, Lisa

 

May2014

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