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.”
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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 »

Creating a Structure of Living that Supports an Inner Life

October 30, 2011 By: Michael Nagel Category: Daily Wisdom, Mind Body Spirit

Busy Roads 150

In my work, I get to see the underbelly of our social order: the patterns of unhappiness and hardship which we suffer alone, but which are shared by others in epidemic proportions. These are the disorders of society which breed widespread personal unhappiness.

James Hillman, Jungian analyst, alludes to just such a societal disorder when he comments that one of the hardest things which he has to treat is his clients’ schedules. Hillman notes that their schedules are their defenses against change. Said another way, your personal organizer is your defense. Your to-do list is your personal tyrant. Your busyness is your soul’s captor. We haven’t the time to allow into our lives the changes that would be a salve to our souls.

Another expression of this societal disorder is a profoundly unhappy friend who regularly works 60 to 80 hour weeks. When asked why she doesn’t refuse to work such hours, she replies, “I can’t.” She’s is afraid of losing her job, although she is losing her soul. She notes her company’s informal motto is “excellence through anxiety.” I kid you not. It reminds me of another person who mentioned his company’s informal motto is “excellence through paranoia.” Read more »

Life’s Trump Card

September 28, 2011 By: Michael Nagel Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit, Teachings

cards crop

Imagine you’re playing a card game. A very unusual card game. Matter of fact, it’s a game you play every day. It’s called, “Life”. Every day, you’re dealt the cards of your life situation. Every day the same other player wins. Here’s today’s play.

The cards are dealt: today’s life situation.

The first player throws out a judgment. “It shouldn’t be like this!”

The next player tosses in an expectation. “I’m disappointed.”

The third player slams down an argument. Read more »

Looking for Direction in All the Wrong Places

September 06, 2011 By: Michael Nagel Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit


I work with many intelligent people. Despite their intelligence, often they are stymied by dilemmas with which they have struggled in thought – often for a very long time. Occasionally I may remark, “With your obvious intelligence and with all your thinking about this, if you haven’t yet arrived at answer, perhaps it might be because you’ve been searching for your answer in the wrong place.”

Such dilemmas remind me of the crazy wisdom teacher, Nasruddin, an Islamic character whose humorous exploits are spiritual teachings with many depths of meaning. Let me paraphrase one of my favorite Nasruddin stories, for it may suggest an answer to such getting stuck. Read more »

Amplify Your Intentions with High Vibration Sounds

June 24, 2010 By: Laura Bruno Category: Mind Body Spirit


Summer construction, noisy neighbors, fax machines, laughing children, or the refrigerator’s hum: wherever we find ourselves, we are usually surrounded by some sort of sound. As an Intuitive Life Coach, I find that most people underestimate the degree to which life’s “soundtrack” affects our lives. People make vision boards for the Law of Attraction, using words as affirmations but rarely tuning into the primal power of sound itself.

This is a major untapped resource! Background awareness drops directly into the subconscious, thereby reprogramming us from the inside out. Whether you consider yourself a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner, you can use the power of sound to amplify desired improvements in your life. In some ways, sacred sound can “do the work for you” by raising your vibration even as you focus on other things. Effortless action? Sounds good to me! Read more »

Featured Artist: Manny Neuzil

June 22, 2010 By: admin Category: Sacred Art


Sacred artist Manny Neuzil creates earthy, elegant and deeply meaningful jewelry with stone cairns, Tibetan mala beads and natural turquoise wheels.

Of her work Manny says:

I am repeatedly drawn to stones and other elements that inspire me to create jewelry that is a bit unrefined, beautifully irregular and suggestive of the spiritual.

Some of the elements I am most drawn to are organic and unrefined stones, ancient pieces, Tibetan mala beads, and ethnic additions. I prefer to use creative elements that are not too many steps removed from the earth…imperfectly perfect.

Her materials have stories to tell as well as cultural and spiritual significance.

Cairns have been used for centuries as path markers and landmarks. My cairns are inspired by such stacks and the power of suggestion and guidance from within and without that is ever available to us.

The Mala beads that I use are salvaged from the remains of old Tibetan Prayer Malas. I love

wondering where they’ve been, whose hands have smoothed and softened them, moving over them in prayer and meditation, counting off mantras.

The turquoise is natural and irregularly cut and is quite complex, full of so many other types of stone that I can’t begin to explain it’s effect. Each wheel bead is completely unique and unlike the next. Each one is a small, rich and complete masterpiece that both surprises and delights me.

For more about her process and materials, and to view additional pieces visit Manny’s page in our Sacred Art Gallery.

Summer Solstice Weekend Art Events

June 17, 2010 By: admin Category: Sacred Art


If you will be in northwestern Oregon this weekend join sacred artist and Touchstones contributor Mara Berendt Friedman at the Rose Spring Center for the Healing Arts in Hillsboro for Passion!!!Flower Sacred Art Playshop on Saturday June 19th.

Bring family and friends for a shared potluck dinner, guided meditation and drumming. A collection of Mara’s paintings and drawings celebrating the Beauty of Woman can also be seen on display at Rose Spring Center from Saturday June 19th through August 31st. For more details visit

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This year marks Cerro Pedernal Heritage Association’s 3rd annual Arts Tour.

If you are in New Mexico head over this weekend to support the work of local traditional and contemporary New Mexico artists including Touchstones contributor Jan West. Directions and more details about the event are available at

Jan took the photograph at right while sitting before dawn in Ghost House where Georgia O’Keeffe lived during her first year in New Mexico.  O’Keefe continued to live in near by Abiquiu, New Mexico and in her second house on the Ghost Ranch property, until she had to move to Santa Fe near the end of her life.

A fun story Jan tells about this photograph: I befriended a dear and spectacular story teller named Tio Manzanarez.  Tio was Georgia O’keeffe’s personal assistant for about 13 years starting at age 13.  I sent him this image as a greeting card last summer and without blinking an eye, he said, “Ansel Adams used to play the piano for Miss O’keeffe in that room.”

Featured Artist: Liz Alpert

June 16, 2010 By: admin Category: Sacred Art


Liz Alpert believes that through the creation of beautiful healing jewelry she will inspire others on their path towards healing of mind, body and soul.

Since the age of six, Liz has been drawn to jewelry making.  Combining powerful energies emanating from the gemstones, along with her expert background in graphic design, results in unique creations of spiritual jewelry.

Every piece in her line is intended to bring joy, love, happiness and empowerment!

For the past several decades, Liz has been a practitioner and teacher of several healing modalities including Reiki, Reconnective Healing, and Quantum Entrainment.

Working from her Sedona, Arizona home Liz practices Distance Healing using these modalities often resulting in dramatic sessions that help to remove long standing blockages within individuals.

To see more of Liz’s breathtaking sacred jewelry visit her page in our Sacred Art Gallery.

Featured Sponsor: Restoring Power

June 12, 2010 By: admin Category: Living with Intention


The light. The dark. All of you.

We all have a light side comprised of our beauty, our strengths. And there’s the stuff we hide–our humanity, if you will. We are practiced at hiding our dark side, living only half ourselves, and wondering why we feel slightly numb. This is a loss of power. It can eat away at us if we don’t recognize it.

Restoring Power brings the light and dark sides onto equal ground. So that we live in wholeness, we engage authentically and powerfully. …So that we bring to life ALL OF YOU.

Stagnation is hell, isn’t it?

Real power isn’t forced. How much of your life are you forcing? Pushing against it, hating the effort, numbing out. Are you getting as far as you’d like in the direction you are pushing?


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Touchstones sponsor Regina Perata is a coach, speaker and therapist who works with clients one-on-one by phone and in person. For those in the Portland, OR area check out her groups and retreats, including the juicy sounding Restoring Power Organic Retreat coming up at Hidden Lake July 10 and 11.

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