Archive for January, 2011

“Behind the Dream” of Martin Luther King Jr.

January 31, 2011

Clarence Jones

Clarence Jones gave a riveting interview on NPR‘s Fresh Air, offering a vivid and personal glimpse into life with Martin Luther King, Jr. I wanted to hear more and am looking forward to reading his book, Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation. The program aired on January 17, 2011.

Click on the audio player below to hear the thirty-four-minute interview (more…)

Introducing Laurie Baum’s Daily Horoscope

January 30, 2011

Laurie Baum

My good friend, Laurie Baum, has shared her astrological predictions on this blog for the last couple of years. She was just asked to contribute a daily horoscope to, a popular Southern California website. Here’s a note Laurie sent me to announce the news.

NOTE: Laurie discontinued her column in May 2011.

Hi Phil,

I’m really excited to share news with you about my new online Daily Horoscope on! Readers of your blog might find it useful as I combine the spiritual with the practical in daily forecasts. The guidance covers finances, relationships, health, social life, business and the general tenor of the day. The forecast also highlights the zodiac sign that is most active on each day.

Incidentally, last week’s predictions already have started to (more…)

Me and the Deep Blue Sea

January 29, 2011

Friends, meet Ocean. Ocean, meet friends (Photo by Christopher Gray)

Walked a mile-long stretch of beach in Encinitas last night at sunset. Breathtaking. Metallic blue water, orange sky, surfers riding the waves. As darkness fell, the (more…)

The Path to God Is Not a Circus

January 28, 2011

A number of skeptics have asked me questions like, “If Christ-like masters are alive today, why don’t they use their powers to inspire more people to seek God?” In her book, Finding the Joy Within You, longtime Self-Realization Fellowship president Sri Daya Mata wrote of Paramahansa Yogananda:

Gurudeva had great spiritual powers, a natural manifestation in one who has God-realization. Paramahansiji explained such powers as simply the workings of higher laws. In the early days of his ministry he sometimes publicly demonstrated those laws to encourage the faith of a skeptical society. I was one of the many he healed instantaneously.

Gurudeva was to say in later years, “If I were to display the powers God has given me, I could draw thousands. But the path to God is not a circus. I gave the powers (more…)

The Delight of Detachment

January 27, 2011

Every spiritual teacher intones the same three-word mantra, “Detach from outcomes.” Perhaps you’ve recoiled at the thought. After all, who wants to go through life detached, like a ghost walking through a vibrant, festive party filled with laughter and all the delights this world has to offer?

Ah, but detaching from outcomes does not mean that you are apathetic and unmotivated. Quite the contrary. Detachment means that you (more…)

Midnight on the Ocean

January 26, 2011

Snuggling with Grampo in between funny poems, songs and Cryptoquips

Ah, the silly songs of childhood. I fondly recall sitting on my Grampo’s lap and giggling as he recited “Midnight on the Ocean.” It became my favorite and I memorized it as well. As I was putting this post together, I learned that it had been written by Asa Martin and had numerous other verses. But these were the four verses that I learned and loved and I am happy to share them here.


Now I know a little ditty,
It’s as crazy as can be,
The guy who wrote it said so
As he handed it to me.
I found I couldn’t use it
Just because it sounded blue,
And that’s the very reason
Why I’m handing it to you.

It’s a song the alligators sing
While coming through the rye,
As they serenade the elephants
Up in the trees so high.
The iceman hums this ditty
As he shovels in the coal,
And the monkeys join the chorus
Up around the nothern pole.

It was midnight on the ocean,
Not a streetcar was in sight,
The sun was shining brightly
For it rained all day that night.
‘Twas a summer night in winter
And the rain was snowing fast,
And a barefoot boy with shoes on
Stood a’ sitting in the grass.

While the organ peeled potatoes,
Lard was rendered by the choir.
The sexton wrung the dishrag,
Someone set the church on fire.
“Holy smoke!” the preacher shouted,
In the rain, he (more…)

Your Talents and the World’s Needs

January 25, 2011

If you are dissatisfied with what you do for a living, know this: No workplace rut is so deep that you cannot climb out if it. You always have options. The right job is out there, waiting for you to make the effort to find it.

Opportunity is as scarce as oxygen; men fairly breathe it and do not know it.
Doc Sane

Your odds of upgrading your work life rest on how you answer two questions: How (more…)

You May Be Sure It Isn’t Your Real Life

January 24, 2011

It becomes especially challenging to follow your heart when you are well established in another career, nestled snugly in your comfort zone, enjoying a comfortable lifestyle.

Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master?
Kahlil Gibran

You may tell yourself that you have done everything right, that you have followed all the rules and are entitled to (more…)

Follow Your Bliss, Be Ready to Hiss

January 23, 2011

Choosing to live a kind, loving spiritual life does not require you to back down in the face of conflict or controversy. When the situation warrants it, your values must be backed up by your words and actions. Here’s a nice story that illustrates this point from Finding the Joy Within You, a collection of talks given by Sri Daya Mata, the longtime president of Self-Realization Fellowship.

There are times, of course, when we should speak up firmly, when it would be wrong not to take a stand. But there should be no feeling of enmity. Guruji used to tell a story that illustrates this:

In a village, there once lived a cobra whose bite had taken the lives of many of the people. The leader of the community went to a wise man and said, “We can’t go on like this. The snake is killing off all the villagers. Won’t you please do something about it?”

The wise man agreed to help. He went to the cobra and said, “Look (more…)

Of What Value Is Your Love for God?

January 22, 2011

Reading this inspiring anecdote in Finding the Joy Within You, a collection of talks given by Sri Daya Mata, the longtime president of Self-Realization Fellowship, was an excellent reminder of the power of reframing and the importance of practicing what you preach.

Some years ago, shortly after becoming president, I spoke at a function at one of our Self-Realization Fellowship temples. During the banquet that preceded my talk, a woman I had never seen before was seated near me. She was not a Self-Realization member, but had decided it was her duty to be the critic of our society and its administration.

All evening my mind had been absorbed in the joyous love of Divine Mother. Suddenly, though, this person caught my eye. It was an absolute shock to see what was in her gaze. I realized, “This person hates (more…)

The Best Gift You Can Give Your Child

January 21, 2011

My sister hugs our dad while my pet chameleon frolics on his shoulder

Years ago, I attended a lecture on healing by Dr. Bernie Siegel. During a guided meditation, Bernie asked everyone to close their eyes and visualize the child they used to be. He told us to go back to a specific event that had wounded us, to embrace the child we used to be, to give it the love and compassionate understanding it needed, to talk to that child and assure our former self that it was cherished and wonderful just as it was. As the meditation continued, I looked around. People were overcome with emotion. Tears were running down their cheeks as they bravely addressed the wounds they had struggled with since childhood.

Me? I felt nothing . . . but (more…)

We Need to Talk

January 20, 2011

We’ve all been there. Somebody you care about—a family member or good friend—is completely oblivious about how a flaw in their behavior is causing problems with people. So how do you help somebody see the light if they don’t have a clue that they don’t have a clue?

Well, here’s one approach. There are no guarantees it will work, of course. In fact, the chances of immediate success may be small. But at the very least, putting yourself out there like this might plant a seed that will blossom sometime down the road.


I’d like to talk to you about something that I think needs to be talked about. I’ve tried to bring up the subject before but you’ve gotten (more…)

The Redemption of Louie Zamperini

January 19, 2011



Louie Zamperini‘s life story astounds me. I cannot imagine experiencing such pain and trauma, not to mention how he found his way through his bitterness and emerged into the light of forgiveness. This profile by Laura Hillenbrand was in the January 2011 issue of Guideposts. Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit, has written a book about Zamperini entitled Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.

Zamperini, who passed away on July 2, 2014 at the age of ninety-seven, wrote his own book, Devil At My Heels, with a co-author in 2004.

Click here to read a Wall Street Journal joint review of Unbroken that focuses on (more…)

Horse Is Where the Heart Is

January 18, 2011

This sweet little story by Charlene Holeda of Ashland, Ohio, was in the January 2011 issue of Guideposts. I like stories involving signs from above. Coincidence? You be the judge!

I needed a sign from God to really be sure we were getting the right horse for Megan. A specific sign . . .

My 14-year-old granddaughter Megan loved horses. She’d been riding for four years, but when her mother told me they were getting her a bigger horse I worried. Horses are temperamental creatures. What if this new mount was hard to handle?

My daughter tried to reassure me when I stopped by one day.

“Mom, we’ve made a list of the qualities we want in a horse and the price we can pay,” she said. “Megan, her dad and I are praying over that list. God will hear us.”

That night I said my own prayer just in case. Lord, I need to be sure they find the right horse for Megan. So I’m asking for an unmistakable sign: a white (more…)

God Struck a Match

January 17, 2011

The sunset over the Pacific ocean, just two blocks from my home in Encinitas, was magnificent last Wednesday. It looked like the sky had been ripped open to reveal secret islands hovering above the water, smothered in molten lava. It was if God had (more…)

The Beauty, Grace and Power of Duo MainTenanT

January 16, 2011

Duo MainTenanT

This mesmerizing performance by former Cirque du Soleil artists Nicolas (more…)