Category Archives: Answering Key Questions about Art’s Services

My Belief Orientation

I believe that wisdom teaches us to discern the meaning of human differences while not using those differences to judge others as superior or inferior in some way that means I cannot relate to them or they cannot relate to me as equals in God’s favor. Although I am a follower of Jesus, I am not the typical Christian whose understanding of Jesus may come mostly from the Bible and place great weight upon interpretations of that sacred text that others have passed down from generation to generation through filters of human prejudices and political motivations (ego’s perspective).  I live as if the Spirit of Truth lives within my heart and yours and guides all of us as we learn to listen to it.  By God’s grace, I am learning to allow my life to evolve according to God’s divine design. I believe that the Spirit of Truth and Love abides in all of us naturally — and that each and every one of us has the capacity to listen to it if we develop the disciplines needed to listen.  I’ve found a book called A Course In Miracles especially helpful to my understanding of how life works.  I’ve found many other books helpful too and would be pleased to share with you my small library of readings about many paths of faith if you desire.  My services as a faith consultant and coach will help you to develop your own deeper insights and understandings into the Mystery of Life that await anyone who explores Truth and Love diligently.

By the Spirit’s guidance, I do my best to implement in the modern era principles of love Jesus and other honored teachers of various paths of faith model — especially all that compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation call forth from within me.  I believe that there are many paths of faith by which people grow in awareness of their relationship with a Supreme Being (by whatever name addressed) who is devoted to the welfare of all of us. We all are welcome in the Divine Heart regardless of our age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender orientation, life experiences or any other label or classification criteria others might want us to use to define us. Instead of classifying and judging members of the human race as ego does, I do my best to treat each of us as a child of God who hungers to be honored and deserves to be honored.  I believe that God does that perfectly and that I can strive to do so with increasing excellence regardless of my own failings, shortcomings and other imperfections.  God has accepted and loved me just as I am as I’ve struggled along in life.  I seek to do the same for you too.  I ask the same of you as well. Sharing the struggles of life enhances our joy and reduces our sorrows.  Sharing is God’s form of relief from grief.

I believe that we are all good/God-natured people who are naturally filled with enlightenment and wisdom but that modern society teaches us to believe otherwise and to disregard our natural capacity as whole people to follow our heart’s intuitive wisdom. Enlightenment is not an exotic experience reserved for the few. Humanity’s divine destiny is to become increasingly aware of the divine truths we know naturally “by heart.” These truths seem to many in modern times to be Great Mysteries.  Yet they need not be such mysteries even while God remains the Essence of Mystery.  The natural truths that we can restore to our awareness set us all free to enjoy life together in solidarity with one another as a single human race – sharing a divine origin and a divine destiny.  We need no longer divide ourselves into warring camps simply because we seem to be different from each other in some ways and may hold different viewpoints about some issues and don’t yet know how to reconcile those viewpoints.

Yes, life is filled with mystery, including the mystery of yet undiscovered answers to life’s most important questions. We are capable of thriving amid the mysteries of life while sharing this planet with each other as mutually appreciative and encouraging neighbors. We can master the art of living amid our questions and expressing our hearts and minds eloquently for the benefit of all humanity. We don’t have to be a famous leader, guru, artist, poet, author, musician, scientist or celebrity of any kind to have personal value and contribute valuable ideas and talents to our communities. Neither popularity nor the ability to inherit or earn and amass wealth qualifies one person more than another to discern wisdom within his or her heart.  We all have meaningful contributions to make as we celebrate being ourselves and enjoy building the better world we want to experience person to person.  In the process of dismantling walls and building bridges, we need not succumb to the temptation to let social approval or disapproval set limits on how we investigate and invest in life or explore and express ourselves.  We are explorers of the new world that the Creator invites each of us to co-create with Him/Her.

I believe in unity amid diversity and live as best I can as a timeless spirit in the midst of the mysterious paradoxes and tensions of human life that may seem to threaten to pull us apart – both internally from our own integrity and externally from one another. We all have the inner strength needed to not allow these tensions to separate us from our integrity or from one from another.  I believe that all forms of violence that humanity inflicts upon ourselves arise from dishonesty about what matters most – deeply within our hearts.

In learning to deny the full, caring expression of our emotions while trying instead to live with diminished hearts, we drive ourselves to abandon our natural wholeness and integrity and instead to adopt false identities (called by some “egos”). In doing so, we run the risk of becoming disheartened, even depressed, and of progressively developing addictions and other mentally and emotionally unhealthy orientations to life as our futile way of temporarily masking or escaping from our pain as we try to survive. To survive (but not thrive), we cope with but do not openly and caringly express emotions we buried in our hearts and minds when we were not free to express them earlier in our lives. Our confusion about how to cope with the dilemmas of life in a modern society ruled by Ego adds to our pain.

To rise free of confusion and other pain that disable our minds, I believe that we need most to connect again within our hearts as naturally sensitive yet also courageous beings, identify the pains beyond which we need to move by experiencing the process of legitimate grieving and learn again that we are delightfully playful and loving beings here on earth to share life as innocent children of the Creator of Life, free of guilt and blame as well as pride and shame. We need to learn again to distinguish between experiences that the ego falsely mischaracterizes as desirable and experiences the Spirit of love discloses as truly desirable. By using our re-awakened powers of discernment, we can implement wisdom as we transfer our allegiance from ego’s fear-based orientation to the Spirit’s love-based orientation:

Ego’s fear-based orientation:                               Spirit’s love-based orientation:                          Emotional numbness (temporary truce)            Peace of mind (readily recovered if disturbed) Ambition (blinds us to caring)                              Hope of heart (vision of justice and beauty)      Self-centered pride (corrupts relationships)      Joy of spirit (restores/sustains relationships)

We can become intentionally more and more aware of our inner state of peace of mind, hope of heart and joy of spirit if we choose that orientation. (Our spiritual orientation is most important. Arguments over sexual orientation and its possible origins too often distract us from the higher call to engage in our spiritual orientation as children of God. That’s why the ego promotes such arguments. As I use the term, “spiritual” means “meaning, purpose and direction of life” and opens the door to our experiences of love as our hearts crave to experience it.)

Spiritual orientation is a choice to regain our natural identity and let go of ego-identity, which is a false concept of self.  If you decide that you need extra help to achieve the goal of healthy expression of your emotions, ideas and talents or to address any other issue you identify, I will help you to seek and find the extra help you want. Consulting me for wisdom in making decisions does not substitute for such extra help. Consulting with me gives you clarity about the help you want and the courage to seek and accept its added benefits to nurture you and cultivate your dreams into reality.

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Helping You When You Cannot Currently Afford to Pay

The Golden Rule as Our Goal Standard

To encourage mature teens and adults of all ages to be authentic, wholeheartedly satisfied men and women who develop their creative ideas and talents fully throughout their lives with an abiding sense of personal integrity, I offer to be available in the role of a seasoned veteran of life with whom you can talk heart to heart as you explore your own ideas, feelings and faith in regard to any topic concerning which you are trying to make a wise decision.  Let me say at the start that although, for people who can afford it, I charge an affordable fee for my help, I am open to helping anyone who genuinely appreciates and makes good use of my help but cannot afford to pay for it now. If you ask, we’ll find a way for you to benefit from encouraging wisdom today. My goal is to help you enjoy a more enriched and rewarding future and find your own way in life as you seek to be true to yourself by having faith in yourself, others and a Higher Power.  This is an honorable path to becoming a contributing member of all communities in which you choose to belong and within which you share your creative ideas and talents for the benefit of yourself and others.

If you don’t have the ability to pay me now but gain income or wealth later, you can always pay me later if you believe that I was helpful to you.  At any point when you become aware that my help has been beneficial to you, you may want to help support ways in which I reach out to others who are financially limited.  In that case, please feel free to contribute what you want to share as your way of seeing that others enjoy the same benefits you’ve enjoyed.  I work with low-income adults in need of help and would appreciate any contributions you make to help meet their needs.  Your contributions will not be tax deductible, but they will be an investment in your future from which you reap dividends according to the Golden Rule.  That’s simply how life works!  Sow helpfulness and compassion to reap helpfulness and compassion.

How Does Faith Provide Relief Beyond Life’s Pressure Cooker?

When you feel like your life has become an emotional pressure cooker, my services as a Faith Consultant and Coach may help you not only find relief but also make great progress in personal growth.  The pressure cooker generated by acute pain and confusion piled atop chronic stress can become an incredibly productive opportunity for personal growth.  All that is required is a large dose of devotion to your own best interests mixed well within a solution of helpful resources developed as your personal health tonic.  The healthy energy boost you both need and desire becomes available to you as you seek it intentionally, with renewed faith in your personal value and capacity to overcome pain, confusion and stress to rise again on even better terms than you’ve encountered in the past.  In short, as some would put it, miracles of personal benefit to you are waiting around the corner for you if you’ll move forward by faith in their presence even before you see, hear, smell, taste or feel them. It may sound too cliché, but here’s the silver lining in life’s storm clouds that threaten to overwhelm you with grief.

Miracles of relief and personal growth are not at first physical.  They begin to form by faith in energy realms beyond the physical dimension – realms invisible to our physical senses but accessible by faith.  Perhaps even as you read this article, an inner sense within the core of your being is resonating, tingling with that “knowing” bell that rings when you encounter Truth.  Because the Miracle Provider has faith in you, the miracles you need are already simmering on the Divine Stove even before you may decide to have faith in yourself and the Source of Miracles.  As your faith grows, it encounters the faithfulness of others and of the One from Whom all Faith flows and the reconnected world of faith opens doors for you through which miracles enter your life to comfort, heal and bless.

Stress and tension are normal features of healthy life.  For example, the tension between a relatively drier atmosphere and a relatively wetter inside of a plant draws moisture from the plant into the atmosphere in an attempt to arrive at an equal distribution of moisture inside and outside of the plant.  Because a plant is designed to release moisture from its leaves through transpiration, the attempt to equalize humidity levels occurs at leaves.  Moisture leaves at the leaves!  This departure of moisture increases the tension inside of the plant between moisture levels lower down the plant’s channels and at the leaves where moisture is escaping.  By a natural process, moisture is then moved gradually along the plant’s inner channels towards the leaves from the roots.  If moisture is available in the soil around the roots, it is draw into the plant’s inner channels through the roots and moves towards the leaves where it eventually exits. As moisture moves along the plant’s channels, it carries nutrients from the soil throughout the plant and carries the products of photosynthesis and other chemical reactions throughout the plant as well.  In this manner, the stress of differing tensions helps the plant maintain health and is not destructive to the plant’s health.

In similar ways, tension can play helpful roles in human life.  For example, if our mind encounters a problem that we don’t know how to solve, the problem’s existence creates a tension within us that we can feel as a desire to know the solution to the problem.  If the problem has little value to us, the tension is relatively slight, perhaps even nonexistent.  We encounter a lot of problems throughout our lives that have little or no value to us and cause little or no tension or hunger to solve them.  However, when we value a solution to a problem greatly, we invest a lot of emotions in “not knowing” the answer.  The tension resulting from “not knowing” rises as our emotional investment in solving the problem rises.  Being exposed for a long time to emotionally troubling unsolved problems generates chronic stress, an abiding sense of being stressed out under intense tension with little hope of relief.  Sometimes we adjust to chronic stress by ignoring it and doing our best to survive without knowing the solution we’d prefer to know.  Sometimes a newly arriving problem reminds us that we’d still like to solve the “big one” that has long caused us chronic stress and, although supposedly ignored, left us feeling vaguely tense in our bodies, minds and hearts.

Fear of the unknown is a fear common to all humans.  It is a fear that causes tension and stress until we learn to be comfortable in the presence of mysteries we’ve not yet learned to solve.  Fear of the unknown can be coupled with fear of change (and perhaps accompanying fears of loss of control and powerlessness), the combination of which causes us to feel paralyzed or mired in stagnation, discontent with the status quo but unable to move forward in any direction to find and implement the change we’d prefer.  Or that same combination can cause us to become overactive, chasing our tails in search of a solution not to be found in our nose-to-tail closed circle of futility.

Fear-inducing dilemmas appear like unsolvable puzzles to our minds.  We feel caught on the horns of a dilemma without relief from the painful confusion it causes.  It can even feel like a form of torture because we’d much prefer relief from the pain and confusion and don’t know how to find it.  Because we’ve learned to take pride in our competence-driven achievements, we feel ashamed at having too little competence to solve The Problem.  We may even feel like extreme failures or losers for becoming skewered on the horns of such dilemmas in the first place, as if no winner ever faced them without overcoming them on his or her own.

The truth is that dilemmas arise periodically in everyone’s life because they are a natural consequence of growing on account of one’s experiences.  Every person who has ever discovered increasingly rewarding and enriching ways to live life has faced challenging dilemmas and resolved them satisfactorily according to his or her own values and priorities.  One key factor in finding such resolutions seems like a paradox: that is, that the door through which one must pass to find life’s deepest satisfactions is opened by a mechanism called “interdependence” or “collaboration.”  The door remains closed so long as we continue to resort only to self-reliance or independence as individuals and refuse to trust anyone to assist us in opening the door.

As we stand before such a door in the middle of a tension-filled, dilemma-plagued phase of our life, we can knock and probe for access points on our own without success in opening the door – no matter how great our individual competences and achievements may be in other realms of life.  It may seem like magic but it’s really a matter of faith.  So long as we stand in front of such a door demanding “I want inside!  Open up for me!” we will be frustrated by the unresponsive silence.  Only when we revise our declaration to say “We want inside!  Open up for us!” will we hear a reply and find our way into the sanctuary beyond the door.  The door to relief from painful confusion opens to “us,” not merely to “me” or “you.”  It swings open on multiple hinges, not just on one.

Discovering this truth about multi-hinged doors and their use is one of the primary personal benefits of enduring life’s pressure cooker of faith.  The pressure cooker insists that we discover it.  The truth that brings relief is “None of us is alone.”  Through long training in the ways and myths of self-reliance and independence-at-all-costs, we’ve been misled into believing that we are alone in the world.  We may come logically to believe that we were born into the world alone, leave the world alone at the death of the body and have to endure life in between birth and death largely alone too.  That’s simply not true.  We can try to survive according to that belief for a long time.  We may even reach our death bed still believing it.  But it’s not true.

If we feel alone, it’s merely because we’ve bought into and not yet re-examined the common social training that assumes such a belief to be true.  That an untruth is assumed to be true by many people does not make it true.  Truth remains truth whether none, few or many believe it.  Believing that we are alone in the face of fearful dilemmas and belief-disrupting problems creates massive stress and tension.  The first step in relieving this harmfully stressful tension is to discover that you are not alone in facing anything in life.  In fact, you have people ready, willing and able to stand with you as assets and resources to help you, even if you’ve not yet met them.  And beyond people in whom you can place trust to help you, there’s a Higher Power waiting for you to invest your faith so that this Higher Power can be helpful too. You don’t have to start out believing in such a Higher Power to benefit from my coaching.  This Higher Power believes in you and that’s enough at the beginning if you allow it to be.

Once you recognize that you are under excess pressure and don’t know where to turn for relief, your next step is to seek help until you find competent people you trust, in whom you can place your faith so that your faith in yourself is renewed.  It is not an accident that many of the people in whom you discover you can place your faith most securely have already been through tension-filled, heart-rending problems and dilemmas of their own.  Such experiences prepared them well to be here for you with the greatest power to help you restore faith in yourself and in humankind.  They are also likely to have discovered a renewed or new faith in a divine power greater than ourselves who favors and aids us.  They will help you make the same discovery if and when you decide you want to make it.

Copyright Art Nicol 2014