Thursday, November 20, 2008

Spiritual Lessons and Growing from Hardship

Normally I sleep in on Sunday morning. I woke up around 6am this last Sunday and realized that this was the day I should finally get back to the Rogers Park Eckankar center and attend a Worship Service. I hadn't been to one in a long time and not only that, I was supposed to be the manager of the center so I was way overdue for a visit.

I especially wanted to see the remodeling job that had been done, supervised by my old buddy Ellen O'Keefe. Ellen is a great artist and I really wanted to see what she had done with that modest little space.

An amusing thing happened when I looked up and found what the topic was going to be for this particular worship service: Spiritual Lessons and Growing from Hardship. I had to chuckle; I may know a bit about that, I thought, no wonder I need to go.

I had experienced homelessness for the first time a few years ago. I had moved more times in the last few years than I care to count. Been broke? Sure. It is pretty hard to go hungry in America so I never had that problem, but I certainly had my share of what many would consider hardships in the last few years especially.

Experiencing close up the death of my mother and a few years later my wife was no picnic either; all that had happened recently enough that I could relate spiritual lessons learned.

This is how it happens with the ECK (Spirit). You get a nudge and if you're smart you pay attention to it. Trust me, there are times when I would have rolled over and gone back to sleep but fortunately, this wasn't one of them.

The Rogers Park Center is a tiny two room storefront right on the lakefront. Ellen had done a magnificent job transforming the place. As the room filled up, I saw a lot of familiar faces. In fact I knew everyone in the room except for one person. I should add that the average age of the 15 or so people there was in my rough estimation close to 50.

Vicky, the clergy was walking with a cane, Rosy sitting next to me had just had a hip replacement, and just by the age of the group there was no doubt that everyone had stories to tell that could relate to the subject.

So after Vicky made some opening remarks and read some quotes from some ECK books, the topic got opened up for discussion. She had hurt her knee when she was dancing with her students; thus the cane. The first question that was asked was something to the effect; Have you experienced any hardships? What have you learned?

After Vicky asked the question there was this silence. I had to laugh, and so did everyone else. Yes, how much time do you have?

So we talked about how we had dealt with the issues that had been dealt us. Afterwards, I thought about that pregnant silence. Eckists are taught to find the spiritual lessons in their life experiences and the folks in this group were used to doing that. Perhaps it was modesty that kept people from speaking.

Most of the session was spent listening to one very sincere man who was trying to overcome a tobacco addiction. He got lots of good advice from the group which essentially can be summed up thus; It may not be easy but you gotta tough it out and do what you have to do to get through it. Persevere.

He was advised to call upon the Mahanta, which is the Inner Master that works with each individual chela (student) in ECKANKAR and listen to and follow whatever inner instruction he is given. You gotta walk that lonesome valley by yourself, as John Jacob Niles used to plaintively sing. With a little help from your Friend, WahZ..That's the spiritual name of the Master.

People talked about using the "as if" principle and imagining oneself as a non- tobacco user. This guy chewed, he didn't smoke. He gratefully took it all in.

I think the other reason that not much was said by the experienced folks there about their hardships was that they realized that essentially we were all very fortunate. Rosemary who had the hip replacement talked about experiencing discomfort before hand and she got advised that the only way she was going to be able to function normally again was to get this major surgery. She said she had to train like an Olympic athlete just to prepare for the surgery. But she wanted it so she did what she had to do and so she got through it and now she could look forward to gardening again in the spring, playing with her grand kids, etc.

Rosy didn't say it but she knew that she was fortunate to be living in circumstances that allowed her to have the option of having that hip replacement. Everyone living in America has more good karma than they realize.

Seeing the challenges in our life as opportunities for spiritual growth is a powerful perspective to have. It transforms everything.

I mentioned experiencing homelessness. I should also mention that a year later I was living in a million dollar house in Lake Forest. How did that happen? In the first case I was worried about being homeless and after putting so much attention on it, it was inevitable that I experience it.

In the second case, I had a long time fascination with Lake Forest. When I was in the limo biz I spent a lot of time driving its beautiful streets, dropping off and picking up folks there. I put a lot of energy and emotion into wondering what it would be like to live there. Again, the common denominator was attention.

Where attention goes, there energy flows. Or as Dr. Bernard Jensen put it, your attitude is your altitude. Where are you flying?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Zen Habits

I just subscribed to this very cool and practical blog. Lots of clean design, good suggestions, well communicated.

Great attitude too! Here is a post title: Open Source Blogging: Feel Free to Steal My Content.

Here's the link:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Time, money and other illusions

I have an account at a website called Simpleology; I just went to log in there and I read the following notice:
Welcome Stan Schultz
Last Logged in: Sep. 25, 2008 11:46pm

The amusing thing was that I logged in at a little after 7pm, Sept. 25. This reminded me of a recent discussion I was having with some friends in an email group about sending emails to yourself from the future, etc. I would ascribe this event to Mercury going retrograde which happened earlier this week. Anyway, its all illusion...smoke and mirrors, baby!

Good thing to remember when you think about Bush and the Secretary of the Treasury asking for $700 Billion dollars from us Quick! with no accountability required:)

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream.

ps. The image is actually a cool moving animation, a GIF. It doesn't want to move; anyone know why?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Pandora radio

Have I told you about Pandora radio? It is such a wonderful program that it has become one of those that I use almost everyday. It is a smart internet radio that is free. You input your preferences and it plays songs and tracks that match your preferences which you can constantly tweak.

I love it! Here's the link:

PS. The image is a pastel I did at Andy's Lounge on Hubbard St., Chicago of the Chuck Hedges Swingtet.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Binaural Beats

I just discovered a fascinating and possibly very useful website that allows free access to a series of healing soundtracks. You can play them on the Mp3 player of your choice. Among the choices are: Coffee, energy drink, relaxation, meditation, etc.
After some brief experimentation with them, it sounds like they do work and can be helpful and effective. Please check 'em out and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dylen the photographer

My grandson Dylen took this photo of me on a recent outing to the park in Vernon Hills. Not bad for a 7 year old, eh?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008


Perhaps you have heard the buzz about hydrogen as being the fuel of the future. Well folks, the future is now. This is an amazing, practical solution to the high cost of gas that you can implement immediately. You can recoup your investment in weeks with the cost of gas being what it is. Check it out:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mark Joyner does blogging

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Waking dream?

Get a FREE authentic I-Ching Reading

I was watching TV late last night. Charlie Rose had a great interview with Alice Waters. I started getting chilly which is unusual since the TV room is usually pretty warm. I checked the thermostat and sure enough it was about 62 degrees in the house. The thermostat was set at 67. Something was amiss.

The furnace had stopped working.The manual said not to try to relight the pilot manually. All the electrical stuff was working ok. No need to belabor all the gory details. It is now the next day, the repairman has been called, and I am waiting for him to arrive. The house is chilly but I have a little electric heater nearby so I am not freezing.

But I am wondering about the furnace going off. Is this is a waking dream? If so, what is the significance?

A waking dream is a sign from Spirit. Sometimes they are easy to interpret and other times more mysterious. I am still working on interpreting this event. I am not even sure it is a waking dream, not every event is. But I do wonder.

The primary event that preceded this was the post that preceded this one, Big snow. It made me wonder if I was being irresponsible by airing my negative imaginings. As an artist and as someone on the spiritual path I am very conscious of the effect of my words. Could this be it?

I was speculating on the fragility of things, and sure enough I am sitting here in a cold house with no heat. Did I help to create this situation by publishing those thoughts? I am inclined to think that is the likely scenario. In fact the only reason I have not removed the previous post is because I want to share in this learning experience with you. I had submitted this same article to Associated Content but deleted it this morning, pending my conclusion of this investigation.

Of course there is a more sweeping interpretation, ie, my light is out. Have I fallen asleep spiritually? I don't feel like I have. I am more inclined to the previous interpretation.

A couple of interesting things happened this morning. I got an email from a woman I don't know asking me to vote for a short film she had done to be aired on PBS. I was particularly annoyed that she published my email address along with a hundred or so others, inviting further spam.

I was curious about her film though so I followed the link she provided. The film was about a murder. I wrote her to suggest she not spam people and also suggested she use her talents for more uplifting purposes. Do I need to take my own advice, especially the latter?

I also got a email from inviting me to get a free I-Ching reading in honor of the the Chinese new year. That sounded like fun and I love the I-Ching so I got the reading. I asked if the furnace going off was a waking dream. I got the hexagram of Patience changing to the hexagram for Determination.

As I sit here chilly wanting to go out and do some shopping but needing to wait for the repairman, counseling patience was certainly appropriate. But not necessarily an answer to my immediate question.

The thing I love about the I-Ching is that even if the reading does not seem to apply directly to your question, the answers always have some useful wisdom in them. Being reminded to be patient is rarely inappropriate.

Maybe this is just another manifestation of Mercury retrograde? Since this situation falls in the category of inconvenience and annoyance, it certainly has the right earmarks. Am I perpetuating the Merc.ret. issue by publishing these thoughts?

Chill out Stanley! That too:) I would love to read your thoughts.

ps. I just became an affiliate of I will write more about that later, but since there is a graphic inviting you to participate, in the interest of full disclosure I thought I should mention it. I have never spent any money there, but have gotten a lot of free readings. They have good writers.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Big Snow

We got a big snow today. We have actually had quite a bit of snow this winter in the Chicago area where I live, but it always seems to be followed by rain and/or enough of a thaw that it quickly becomes a non-issue.

For me it is an issue because I am currently living in a big house with a hundred-foot driveway and no snow blower, plow or other mechanical means of clearing the snow other than an old-fashioned shovel.

I got stuck in the driveway earlier in the week for the first time this winter so I know I was going to have to do some digging if I wanted to get my car into the street without getting stuck.

I have an old Honda Accord with front wheel drive and newer tires that is pretty good in snow. But there are limits, and with about a foot of the white stuff on the ground, I knew I was going to have to move some of it out of the way.

My larder is getting a bit low and I thought I would go out to do a little shopping today. I was putting off going out and finally got myself going about 4:30 with just an hour or so of daylight left. It wasn’t enough time.

I got about half the driveway done and was feeling pretty bushed. Mind you, I am almost 65 and overweight so I took it pretty easy. I don’t want to become another victim of the old cliché. I decided I would make do with what I had in the house and finish the dig out tomorrow.

A couple of interesting things happened while I was shoveling. My two closest neighbors were clearing their paved driveways with their snow blowers; two men and one wife.

I thought how nice it would be if one of my neighbors offered to help me with his snow blower. Didn’t happen. Of course I have a gravel driveway so it doesn’t exactly lend itself to being cleared by a snow blower. Was that the reason? Probably not.

I haven’t really met my neighbors, except for saying hello once to the guy next door when we were both in our driveways when the weather was warmer. I am just house sitting and have only lived where I am for a few months.

It just made me nostalgic for when I was a kid growing up. I lived in a housing co-op where the neighbors knew each other and helped each other.

The other thing that occurred to me as I was digging was how vulnerable we really are and how fragile our lives are. We take our comforts so much for granted. What would we do if suddenly we didn’t have electricity, or running water, or what if I wasn’t healthy enough to clear the driveway myself?

I know that Soul is Eternal and so I am not really talking about life and death. I am just talking about planning for the uncertain future.

I named my blog What Now Grasshopper? because this has been an old tendency of mine, to not take life seriously enough. By this I am definitely not suggesting that we lose our sense of humor and became nothing but grim and practical. A sense of humor is a vital survival tool. But there is a balance somewhere.

Perhaps it is in part the 9/11 Consciousness, in part because I want to make my life more useful and be of more service. It is significant to me too that I haven’t felt much like writing until I went out and did an hour of honest work. What’s that about?

Friday, January 11, 2008

My Ex-wife was born on Venus

I’m guessing that most of you who read the title of this article might be thinking that it is a set up for a joke. In fact it’s no joke. Her Venusian name is Omnec Onec. If you have not heard her story, you might want to continue reading this little introduction.

We met on Wells Street, Chicago during the hippie era in the middle 60’s. She and her girlfriend were playing at shooting hippies with toy rifles. I watched this little melodrama unfold.

Some of the hippies would play along and fall to the ground. The cops stopped her and checked out her weapons and discovered they were toys and told her to cease and desist.
After they drove down the street, the girls started up again. The cute blonde one shot me but I didn’t play her game.

I was however very attracted to her, so I walked up and introduced myself and invited her to tea. She accepted. There used to be a restaurant called the Stagecoach on the corner of North and Wells; we went in there.

She kissed me and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.
We ended up staying together for more than 10 years, marrying and having two kids together. She spent 2+ years writing an autobiography with the help of a writer friend and we had lots of wonderful adventures together.

She had a hard time getting taken seriously. Jerry Springer had her on back in the early days of his show, along with our kids and me. The theme was, What was it like to grow up with a mom who said she was from Venus.

They intended to make a mockery of her, with a panel of scientists, etc. But Sheila/Omnec impressed everyone with her dignity and the seriousness and credibility of her presentation. To this day she is the guest that has gotten the most mail in response to a show.

We split in ’76 and soon after she moved to Germany. She was taken more seriously there and spent many years giving talks, seminars and workshops all over Europe.

She managed to get featured by all the major media in Europe and basically had a career telling her story and inspiring people with her mind-blowing experience.

Visa problems and other issues now have her back in the states. I would normally be babysitting my grandsons tonight, but she is in town so I am getting a break. So here I am returning the favor by writing this little piece.

She had a two-volume, 400-page autobiography that tells her story published years ago. Currently it is out of print. If you look on Amazon, copies are selling from $400 to $2000. It is still available in German translation and there will be a Japanese translation published in ’08.

I have recently decided to again help her bring her story to a larger audience. We have had our share of differences over the years but the love bond is still strong and mutual. And I think her story is so amazing that I can’t imagine anything more important to do.

Is she authentic? I decided so many years ago, and I got important confirmations from authorities I trusted. Of course this is the sort of thing that you have to decide for yourself.

Science tells us that it is 7 or 800 degrees on the surface of Venus and the planet cannot support human habitation. NASA has probed and mapped the surface and found nothing that looks like life as we know it.

So what is the truth? Just remember that cutting edge science used to be sure that the earth was flat and that the Sun revolved around the earth. So much for science:)

I think she has an important mission and message for us all in these crazy, fast changing times. I think it is worth listening to what she has to say. You have to judge for yourself. Be sure to check out the little video excerpt of one of her talks on You Tube:

Cuddle Parties

I was just looking around at and I ran across these. I am very curious about them but it does not look like they are happening much in the Chicago area. If anyone reading this has been to one of these, I would love to hear what your experience was.

Here is their website: One of the great quotes on this website from the Dalai Lama, "The main cause of depression is a lack of affection."

I have always been a touchy-feely kinda guy, also subject to depression. I'm guessing more affectionate touch would go a long way toward solving that.

I looked long and hard for an appropriate image for this post. I love the image I found but it is probably a little too intense and romantic for this particular context. What do you think? Thanks to Clarita and for the free image.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Medicated Child, a Review

I just got through watching this Frontline program on PBS and I wanted to record my thoughts about it while they are still fresh. I have a special interest in this subject since I have an eight-year old grandson who has been diagnosed with ADHD and has been on medication for about a year.

If you have not seen this program and the subject interests you, it is possible to watch it online if you have a high-speed connection. As is typical with these Frontline presentations, the subject is well covered and thoughtfully done. There were some pretty conspicuous errors of admission which were glaringly obvious to me, although you may not have noticed them if you weren’t looking for them. This is one of the reasons I felt moved to write this article.

The statistics of the number of children that are being medicated for psychiatric disorders are alarming. Increasingly, this is the conventional solution of choice for children with behavioral problems. The program barely mentioned alternative approaches which was what was so disturbing to me.

What was talked about in the presentation is that many of the children who were originally diagnosed with ADHD have now been called bipolar. A pediatric psychiatrist wrote an influential paper noting the similarities in the symptoms of both conditions, and ever since then increasing numbers of doctors have been diagnosing kids as bipolar and prescribing medications appropriate for this diagnosis.

One of the big problems in dealing with these medications with children is that they were never tested on children so their effects are largely unknown on this age group. It is like a big experiment that is being done on our children.

Perhaps the most telling fact in this whole presentation came out when it was talking about a piece of legislation that was passed during the Clinton administration. A huge incentive was provided for the pharmaceutical companies if they would do pediatric testing on these psychiatric medications. What was the incentive? The drug companies would get an additional 6 months of exclusivity on their patents, before the drugs were opened up to become generics. This additional 6 months of exclusivity might be worth as much as a Billion dollars in extra profit for the pharmaceutical manufacturer!

This is the real bottom line, in both a literal and figurative sense: Obscene profits for the pharmaceutical companies.

Which brings me around to alternatives. The problem with the whole allopathic medication approach is that it merely treats symptoms; it does not get down to causes. And sometimes finding causes is not such a difficult process.

One thing that an observant person would notice is that most of the parents of these kids were overweight if not obese; in other words typical Americans. In many of the shots the kids were busy downing some kind of sugar; pop, candy, etc. Duh! Think that might have something to do with the problem?

In my own experience with my grandson, my daughter and I saw noticeable improvements in his behavior when she reduced the amount of refined sugar he was consuming. This in addition to a conscious effort to improve his diet by increasing the amounts of organic fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, etc.

So let’s get over our hypnosis folks! Drugs are not the answer. It was apparent from this presentation that Doctors don’t know much and are really just experimenting on our kids. We need to take responsibility for our own children. If we start making better choices about what foods we are feeding our children, we can see enormous changes in behavior, not to mention other health benefits. There are other lifestyle factors too that can be helpful which are worth exploring. In the one brief clip where it was showing alternatives, one of the kids was doing an exercise like yoga.

These alternative approaches may require some effort and some reeducation on our parts, but if we want to effect real change we need to get down to the real causes. Pharmaceuticals can never do this.

ps. the photos are of my grandson Tystan

America, from Freedom to Fascism, Aaron Russo's Legacy

What if you found out that you could legally not pay income tax? Further, that the 16th amendment to the constitution that mandated the income tax was never ratified by a sufficient number of states? These are just some of the very provocative issues raised in Aaron Russo’s last film, America, from Freedom to Fascism.

Aaron Russo was an award winning filmmaker who had a very successful career. He died of cancer in August of 2007 at the age of 64. I first heard of him back in the 60’s when he opened a concert/dance venue in Chicago called The Kinetic Playground. This was a place you could go to hear the latest bands. Instead of sitting you could dance, bounce around big playground balls, and have a very good time. I heard the band Hiroshima there.

Aaron went on to manage the career of Bette Midler for many years and finally ended up as a film producer in Hollywood. He produced the films Trading Places and The Rose among others.

Russo got involved in politics and ran for the Libertarian nomination for President in 2004 but was defeated. He kept hearing about the illegality of the IRS and when he investigated it himself he was amazed to find that it was true. This led to the making of the final film of his life, America, from Freedom to Fascism.

The picture that is painted in this film is grim and chilling, and it will take courage to face the truth of the message but face it we must! Please examine the evidence and judge for yourself. This film goes way beyond the work of Michael Moore. It is really a call that goes beyond the need for reform. If you care about our freedom we must face the issues that are raised in this film very seriously.

The film itself is close to two hours long and you can see it for free at Google video. In order to do so, a very good high-speed connection is required. I have slow DSL and experienced some glitches trying to watch the video. The film was taken down from You Tube after getting over two million hits.

Because of its length, I would advise starting by watching some of the shorter clips that are available on the website created to promote the movie. The interview with the Conscious Media Network is probably the best place to start. If this doesn’t pique your interest you had better check to see if you are still breathing:)

I noticed that this film has already been reviewed several times on Associated Content, and Russo’s ideas have often been dismissed as fringe conspiracy theories. (I have submitted this same article for publication on AC).I think folks who jump to these conclusions have not done a careful, dispassionate view of the evidence. The conclusions that are reached in this film are disturbing to say the least, and most of us are not that willing to question the status quo. So know going in that many of your assumptions are going to be questioned and be prepared to be open minded about what is presented in order to get some value from the presentation.

Anyone who is paying the least bit of attention knows that we are living in incredible times. It takes courage to face some of the unpleasant and difficult truths that are presented in this film. I am almost 65 years old so I feel like it is going to take the energy of youth to really get the changes done that are called for in this film.

Ron Paul has been getting about 10% of the Republican vote in the nominating process as of this writing. This is a long way from what it needs to be. As much as I like the charismatic Mr. Obama, I am going to vote for or write in Ron Paul in the next election because he is the only candidate who is addressing the issues aired in this very important film. Please find a way to give it your attention.