Paradox Of Spiritual Seeking | Touchstones Of The Sacred | Touchstones of the Sacred


Paradox of Spiritual Seeking

November 20, 2012 By: Michael Nagel Category: Daily Wisdom, Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit, Teachings, Touching the Sacred

Michael Nagel

In their search for enlightenment, some persons cross deserts or and climb mountains at great peril to themselves. Others seek realization at the feet of their beloved masters listening expectantly to every word. Still some attend weekend seminars or study sacred texts late into the night.

While there are a great many seekers, there appear to be few finders. Perhaps this confirms that, by definition, a seeker can never be a finder.

If I am seeking, I am seeking some thing – an object which is other than me. I am the seeker; the object is the sought. There is the duality of I – and that which I seek.

If I am a seeker of spiritual realization, I first conceive of realization and its presumed attributes (calm, equanimity, bliss ?), and I presume that such fulfillment rests there in the enlightenment I seek, not in the lowly person I take myself to be.

Such a seeker must think that the great sages have been in error. But might such seeking be mistaken instead? The Buddha taught that buddha-nature (the intrinsic potential to become enlightened) exists within every sentient being. The Christ taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is within. Nondual teachers point to our inseparability from the natural perfection of all that exists. Like the Buddha and Christ, they suggest that what we seek is not in the Himalayas, at the feet of a master, or in a book – but “closer than your nose.”
Read more »

The Virtue of Self-ishness

August 07, 2012 By: Michael Nagel Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit

michael negal

Was it 1984 when I walked up to a teller of the Santa Monica branch of First Interstate Bank to deposit my paycheck? I must have laid on the teller counter, title up, the copy of “The Virtue of Selfishness” by Ayn Rand which I was reading, because as I filled out my deposit slip, the teller remarked with palpable moral indignation, “Don’t tell me you want to be selfish!?”

Slowly looking up straight into her eyes, I replied, “As a matter of fact, I do!”

I still want to be Self-ish, though sometimes others may misinterpret that as my being selfish. But that is their problem, not mine. I wish that you be Self-ish too.

That is, I wish everyone be taught how to think critically with the light of their intellects. As individuals and a nation, we might not fall victim to deceit.

I wish everyone finds within themselves, Read more »

The Finish Line

June 20, 2012 By: celedra Category: Aging With Grace and Glory, Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit, Uncategorized

Rock n Roll Half Marathon

Six months ago, I purchased a RunKeeper App for my IPhone, set some goals as usual, and assumed that running a Half Marathon was simply a matter of pushing through until I got to where I wanted to go.  Not so much any more.

Suddenly I seemed to be in a whole new relationship with my body.  The ‘pushing through’  transformed into a practice of patience and attentiveness as the entire experience seemed to be reorganizing my DNA.  I found myself  juggling the gap between ” I’m getting older so I should slow down, be gentle and not push myself too hard” to  “if I don’t push myself, I’ll eventually slow down completely and UGH!,  I don’t want to let age slow me down; I must keep on pushing against this tide in order  to stay vital and healthy”.

The ten days before the run, I felt exhausted.  In spite of the fear of not finishing, I decided to simply rest and listen to my body.  What joy and relief to awaken on the day of the run feeling energetic and excited about the 13 miles of pavement waiting ahead. It was a glorious slow and steady run, filled with cool cups of Gatorade grabbed and tossed in every few miles along with multiple flavors of sugary Gu to keep us going.  The bands were energizing, the weather cool and misty and the air filled with heartfelt hum of men and women doing something really great for themselves.

Our culture demands speed, precision, sharpness, success and I have done my best to be a disciple of them all.  To what end, I ask myself.  And who am I to become if and when I slow down, calm down, turn inward; allow rather then push; ask for help, say no.  Somewhere inside of me though, it is already happening, almost on its own and from a deep well of wisdom.

I am unsure of this new ground and how to tread mindfully upon it.  I am curious to explore its edges and look forward to the unfolding.   Oh, and by the way, only 10ks from now on.


Tomorrow I Go On Medicare With More Than 10,000 Other Baby Boomers!

April 30, 2012 By: celedra Category: Aging With Grace and Glory, Mind Body Spirit


Can you believe that this turnover is going to keep happening EVERY day for the next 19th years? This timed acceptance into one of our government’s most generous clubs would seemingly have me filled with the hard facts of old age. But, alas, I am absolutely delighted to give up my medical savings plan with it’s $2500 deductible and payments of approximately $400/month, for a $99 a month payment to Medicare and $39/month to Kaiser, which, in case you didn’t know, received the ONLY 5 stare rating from Social Security.

So, what does all this have to do with Touchstones of the Sacred? Turning 65, which actually doesn’t happen for me until June 1st, feels like a cultural initiation into the last third of life. Last time I wrote about taking this marker of time as preparation for death. Inspired by our interview with Margueritte, I have started taking Qigong and have increased my meditation practice. I am committed to a life of ease, grace, laughter and joy and plan to write this commitment along our hallway in large sprawling letters. The older I get, the more I know this is a choice.

The wise women we interview with Aging With Grace and Glory live this choice through the foundation of their spirituality. The many Tibetan Lamas I’ve met though the last 20 years live this choice through the foundation of their spirituality. My mother lived it through the choice of her spirituality. All different, all the same. Right now, I am deeply grateful for my health, my strong body (which just ran 12 miles with my daughter in preparation for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon) and all the immense love I have in my life. Oh, and FINALLY not being ashamed of my age!


Pesto Recipes Spring Healing

April 26, 2012 By: Mary Lane Category: Feminine Wisdom, Mind Body Spirit, Recipes


The verdant colors of “new” at this time of year brings such excitement of potential creativity, and the birthing of a fresh start. My heart just sings, jumps a beat and expands when I am surrounded by the delicate greens of new plant life.

In Chinese medicine spring is the wood element and the color associated with it is green. Any wonder? The liver and gallbladder are the organ systems related to this element that embodies the rebirth time of the year.

Have you ever noticed when you walk or drive into a green area in nature how the temperature immediately cools down? Do you think it is a coincidence that these new fresh green plants that are bursting forth in the spring support the liver and gallbladder?

If they have a cooling affect in the natural world does it not make sense they would have a cooling affect on your liver? It is very common for our liver to heat up, especially during stressful times.

Your liver needs the support to “stay cool” in these stressful times. Think green. Think newly fresh, young greens. There are a multitude of fresh green plants popping up everywhere both in the garden and in the wild to support your liver.

Here are a couple pesto recipes that I designed specifically for this purpose. Not only are they good medicine for your liver, but they are delicious. For those of you that live in an area that nettles and chickweed grow you couldn’t have better allies. I have shared with many gardeners who thought they were plagued with chickweed taking over their gardens in the spring that is the best crop you could have right now. Not only does it support you greatly in the spring, but as it dies off it feeds the soil. Simply turn it under.

Enjoy these spring recipes. They are from my book, Divine Nourishment. If you already have my book this is a friendly reminder to pull it out and receive the benefits of the spring chapter.

If you are in a cleansing mode leave out the parmesan and walnuts.


Read more »

Detoxifying: You are what you eat (or don’t eat)

April 03, 2012 By: Patricia Tedeschi Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit


In June, 2006, the World Health Organization reported that nearly one-quarter of global disease is caused by environmental exposures and that well-targeted interventions can prevent much of this environmental risk, “saving what could amount to millions of lives every year.”

In addition to the external toxins that assault the body daily, our own bodies produce toxins, called metabolic waste products as a result of digestion and respiration. Although many mainstream doctors feel that the body is capable of detoxifying itself without “intervention,” we are impacted by many more pollutants than ever before.

In 2000, the Environmental Working Group and Commenweal began the Human Toxome Project to analyze human tissues for chemicals that enter the body. Utilizing the latest technology, the project thus far has shown that all 75 participants ranging in age from newborn to the elderly tested positive for a combined total of 455 out of 528 chemicals.

As the skin is the largest organ of the body, it is imperative that we are conscious of what we put on it. That includes some of the more “technologically advanced” ingredients touted by many skin care lines. It is tempting to grab a bottle of the “latest, greatest” product with the “latest, greatest” ingredient(s), but “buyer beware.”

Read more »


April 02, 2012 By: Mary Lane Category: Feminine Wisdom, Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit, Recipes

orange poppy

Spring is a time for rebirth. Bursting through the obstacles that hold us back is necessary for growth. We are at a time in history that we are doing this on a collective level to the degree some say is unprecedented. Why not use the force of the natural world to support us? It is the time of year the Earth’s energy is rising and she is giving birth to her next generation of seedlings. They are very vulnerable and tender at this stage of their new life. But within that vulnerability they never lose sight of who they were designed to become. They use a force to burst through the encapsulating seed, and the crust of the earth. They dare to be seen in the light of day and risk everything to become their true self, never wavering. Something to aspire to. We are going through the same journey of transformation as the Earth. If we follow her lead, utilize her energy, and live in sync, our journey becomes much easier.


The force the plant kingdom uses in the spring to birth itself is similar to the energy of anger in our human world. Not anger that is destructive to self and others, but the anger that refuses to be held down and stuck in a prison of old limiting beliefs. The anger that says, “No, I will not put up with this any longer, I want something better for myself.” The anger that says, “ I will not live under the thumb of fear and control.” The anger that refuses to be held back and condemned to a life unlived. This is a healthy anger and supports you to burst through the obstacles that hold you back and keep you imprisoned by your own beliefs that you can not do anything about it.

Read more »

Slowing Down in a Culture Built on Speed

March 05, 2012 By: celedra Category: Aging With Grace and Glory, Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit, Poetry


I excel at multitasking; I am currently training for a half marathon; I have multiple degrees and feel great satisfaction from the sense of accomplishment. Does this sound familiar to you? I think it’s the’American’ disease. Problem is, I’m turning 65 in June and have decided to take the next thirty years to prepare for my death. So, given that multitasking seems to be in direct opposition of cultivating my meditation practice and slowing down, I am faced with a dilemma: If my value has been self-determined by the speed and efficiency of my accomplishments, what will be my value (either self-determined or determined by our society) as a 65 year old woman who opts out of the rat race? Clearly, I have some work to do on myself.

The epiphany about taking the next 30 years to prepare for my death is a great gift that I recently received from two different sources. The first was the very heart-breaking occurrence of a young and beautiful man’s death and the prayer his father posted on Facebook in a letter. It is a poem by the Buddha:

 I am of the nature to grow old.

There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill-health.

There is no way to escape having ill-health

I am of the nature to die.

There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love

are of the nature to change.

There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings.

I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.

My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

The second gift came from an 81 year old wise woman who I interviewed for our Aging With Grace and Glory series. She said that when she turned 50, she made the decision to take the next 30 years to prepare for a strong mind, body and spirit during her 80′s. She succeeded! She is bright and clear and vital. Everyday she practices Qigong. She has a strong spiritual practice that has brought her to a place of peace and a deep presence of awareness. She is prepared for her death.

Today I signed up for Qigong. And so this journey begins. What are your struggles and joys on this path of consciousness? We are, after all, all in this together. Love to hear from you.


Being a Knower Rather than a Believer

March 02, 2012 By: Michael Nagel Category: Mind Body Spirit

men's hands

“Ye say, ye believe in Zarathustra? But of what account is Zarathustra! Ye are my believers: but of what account are all believers! Ye had not yet sought yourselves: then did ye find me. So do all believers; therefore all belief is of so little account. Now do I bid you lose me and find yourselves…”

~ The character of Zarathustra in Thus Spake Zarathustra,
by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900),
German philosopher

Currently about 300,000 persons die each day, the vast majority having built their lives on beliefs which never were personally verified. Some believed in reincarnation; others believed in life eternal in heaven or hell. Still others believed that death brings extinction. Hundreds of millions believe in the teachings of Christ, Buddha, Lao Tze, Krishna, Muhammad, Zoroaster, etc….

Most believers take to their graves beliefs which simply resulted from the accidents of their births. They took on the beliefs taught them by the families and societies into which they were born. Were you born to Hindu parents? Then most likely, you were taught to believe in Krishna. If you had left the womb in Saudi Arabia, then most likely you would have been raised a Muslim. But is an accident of birth a rationale upon which to develop an authentic life? Read more »

What is the truth which personal authenticity expresses?

February 10, 2012 By: Michael Nagel Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit


“If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?”

~ Dogen (1200-1253)
Japanese Zen patriarch

I don’t presume to know what “The Truth” is, for I agree with the postmodernist view that there is no such thing as objective truth, a truth independent of the observer. As quantum physics demonstrates, the very act of observing something, alters it, and so you cannot objectively experience or know anything. Moreover in the unity of the quantum soup of existence, nothing exists separate from me or objective to me.

Yet elsewhere I have written of the love of truth as one of the skills which enable personal authenticity (see Some Psychological Skills Which Enable Authentic Living) So seemingly I am suggesting that there is a truth with which our authenticity comports. And I am. But where might we find it?

Perhaps we can agree that nothing exists, except the present moment, the now, this instant which seemingly persists eternally. The past does not exist, except in thought. Tell me about your past, and you speak nothing but a string of thoughts being spun instant by instant in the present. The future too is nothing but fantasy experienced now. There never has been a time that you did not experience yourself other than in the now. So if we are to search for the truth, seemingly it must be found as Dogen suggests, ‘right where I am’ – here, Now.

And the Now, what is it? It is our experiencing as it is in the present moment. Interestingly, the dictionary defines truth “as the true or actual state of a matter” and “conformity with fact or reality”. Yes! our truth is the actual state of our thoughts, feelings, sensations – the reality of our experience as it is in the Now.

If presently I feel joyous, sad, fearful, angry, surprised, anxious, trusting, etc., that is my experience, my truth. If presently I think this or that, agree or disagree, doubt or believe, accept or judge, am willing or not, that is my experience, my truth. If presently I am bouncing with energy, tired, ill, comfortable, uncomfortable, etc., that is my truth, experience. My truth may change or not, from moment to moment. It is a revelation unfolding instant by instant, not a fixed state.

Of course, my truth and your truth will be different, for we experience the present differently. Authenticity asks that I live in accord with my truth and you live in accord with yours; that neither of us be burdened by the presumed obligation to live in accord with the dictates of supposed truths experienced by or asserted by others.

The American existential psychologist, James Bugental, defined authenticity in this manner: “A person is authentic in that degree to which his being in the world is unqualifiedly in accord with the givenness of his own nature and of the world.” Given that our natures and the world can only be experienced presently, authenticity then is living in unqualified accord with the truth of our own experience as it is in the present moment.

That’s my experience, my truth, what’s yours?

Michael Nagel  LLC MA CI CHT

Whole Person Counseling

(:  503.226.2771


Website: Whole Person Counseling

Blog: The Personal Authenticity Project

Schedule Your Appointment Here: Online Appointment Booking



This message is intended for the sole use of the addressee, and may contain information that is privileged, confidential and exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the addressee you are hereby notified that you may not use, copy, disclose, or distribute to anyone the message or any information contained in the message. If you have received this message in error, please immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete this message.



Touchstones of the Sacred © 2007 - 2017 All Rights Reserved  |  Web Design & Development by Jeff Brock Studio