Book: “AWARENESS, Meaning of Life” By Paul Hertre (Vantage Press, NY, NY) Ground for

:
Crusade for Awakening the Conscience, the Only One Project against Violence, without Violence, by Conviction, and the best way all of us become to be: “Citizens of Good Will”

You are invited to join this Crusade by stating As a Human being you are valuable... You have great intrinsic wealth.... Your existence offers great opportunities... Your life at best is short and should be positive profited.... Why are you more valuable than you may imagine? For you to exist, it was required to make The Universe It is Cosmos the factory needed to create your life Seek ways to prove this truth to yourself, Then teach it to your family and friends…

United, we can build with conviction, perhaps more than writing new laws, by following the mandates of our conscience: The Civilization of Sincerity and Consciousness. “Let all of us become genuinely Sincere, Grateful and Respectful, of The One Who Gave us Life, to Mother Nature and to ourselves” To do that it is convenient to work in order to have greater awareness about the big value of Life and its Transcendence. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians and so on accept this.

1

Crusade for Awakening the Conscience The only One Project against Violence The goal to this movement is to fight the terrorist crusades, the violence and the deceit, by means of being conscious of the greatness of the person, and its destiny, which is to grow in order to finish its creation. To fulfill this goal we have translated the book “Tomar Conciencia” (Being conscious about the big opportunity we have because of our existence, in order to make the most of it). With this in mind, we will act by conviction, more than because of law or threatening. Note: If you wish, you may copy it and give it to your friend or client as a useful present. This book is written in two parts:

First Part
In this one you will find some reflections about our life like: Prologue A) Who are we? Where are we? Why are we here? 5 B) Motivation, the basis of success. 11 C) Some ideas in order to be citizens of good will by means of constructing the good will community, and 16 D) Some considerations about our last trip. 18 4

Second Part
In this second one you will find some practices in order to know if your life is focused in the very best way and to improve your life towards your best realization with considerations about: Method for developing consciousness 22 Introduction 23 Dignity and Responsibility of Human Beings 25

2

Communication 27 Work and your Well-being 30 Your Home 32 Harmony in the Family 34 Knowing Yourself Home Economics and Saving 39 Health and Hygiene 42 Nutrition The Human Couple 48 Child Rearing 51 Adolescents 54 Responsibly Parenting and Sexual Education 56 Alcoholism: Causes and Consequences 59 Alcoholism: Prevention and Remedies 61 Drug Addiction Mother Nature Conclusions Origin and evolution of the “Crusade for Awakening the Conscience” 71

37

44

65 67 70

You may choose the items of the most interest for you or read all of them. It is up to you. I may assure you will enjoy at the end of the book: “Origin and evolution of the Crusade for Awakening the Conscience”

3

Prologue Now, perhaps more than at any other time in the history of humankind, many people are confused and disoriented, and wonder about the reason and purpose of their lives. Over 95% of all the people in the world claim to belong to an organized religion. Almost all religions preach the value and dignity of human life and how to attain salvation. But, with the exception of Judaism, which is not obsessed in trying to convert others, these religions have as a major goal to increase their adepts. The lack of conscientiousness in most human beings, despite being self-labeled as religious, is evident. The only way to eliminate corruption and violence is to BECOME AWARE of the many things we hear and say but do not heed. This so-called "Christian" era should be called the era of cynicism. Pablo Neruda used to say that ours should be called "the era of the lonely man." If we all became aware of the reasons why we have been given the gift of life, we would lead a better life and would create a chain reaction of social well-being for everybody. Most people believe they are, but, since they do not dare enter their own internal self-into their sacred essence-they do not realize that they are slaves of superstition, prejudice, etc., and that they are in fact being manipulated. Most people are afraid of things that only limit their freedom and do not allow them to grow and become free of manipulations or guilt. Many people consider it a great sin to even doubt if the religious beliefs imputed to them by their parents are true. This is

4

one of the fears that impede us from entering our inner selves in order to search for the truth. The aim of this book is to meditate about our origin, our essence, and the purpose of this precious gift of life that has been granted us in order to become truly free. To this end I have included a chapter to meditate about fundamental questions, such as: Who are we? Where are we? Why are we here? Then, the book continues with reflections and meditations of the most basic everyday aspects of our lives in order to develop awareness for better living.

5

Project against violence, without violence By Conviction, more than by laws First Part
A) Who are we? Where are we? Why are we here? B) Motivation, the Basis for Success. C) Some ideas in order to be Citizens of Good Will by means of constructing the good will community, and D) Some considerations about Our Last Trip.

Basis of the Book A) Who are we? Where are we? Why are we here? In ancient Greece, the birthplace of Western Civilization, there was a sacred, mystical, and magical place called the Delphic Oracle. People went there looking for help from the gods and to seek advice about the way they should act, the decisions they should make, and even to know the future, which allegedly could be foretold there. In brief, the desire of these people was to receive advice in order to solve their problems, to succeed, and to live a happier life. In order to enter into this sanctuary one had to pass under an arch in which ceiling there was an inscription that was considered essential for anyone who entered there wishing to fulfill his or her objectives. The inscription read: KNOW YOURSELF Whenever we are asked, "Who are you?" we say our name; but this says very little about us, since our names were given to us by a whim of our parents. Actually, knowing ourselves is an art and it implies a great deal of effort. Some philosophers say that our Creator, the Infinite Energy who acted through our physical parents in order to give us existence, is the only one who knows our real name. An astronomer once said: "If you want to know who you are, study the stars, for thence is where you come from."

6

We are beings created by the infinite love of the Maker of the universe and everything that surrounds us. Therefore, each one of us is worth more than one can imagine, but we don't realize this fact. He who has nothing and he who have it all are worth the same. If we were only really aware of how much we human beings are worth, we would not be capable of hurting ourselves nor of hurting or deceiving anybody else. Humans are the only creatures that have not been formed completely. Therefore, we all have the same mission: to improve ourselves and help others improve; that is, to finish our own creation. However, there are people who, instead of growing and improving, destroy themselves and sink very low. An example would be corrupt politicians who, in order to get votes, offer wonders, and when they get elected, they use their office to get advantages for themselves and accumulate riches, thus wasting the great opportunity they have to serve and help others grow. * * * * * These bad politicians, who are envied by those who do not understand that they're only full of filth, are really pitiful, since they have lost their opportunity to grow and fill their spiritual suitcases for the last trip that some day will arrive for all of us. They will discover only too late that the life they thought to have lived successfully and in abundance, was in fact wasted; and the riches they will leave here will only be for their heirs, who will dispute and fight over them. The only thing they will take with them is the mental anguish for having been false, cynical, and irresponsible; for having acted like cowards and flatterers; and for having lost the opportunity that is given us in this life to finish our own creation by serving others, rather than serving ourselves through others. The good politicians, whose actions were congruent with their words and who helped their fellow human beings, will have their spiritual suitcases full of love and gratitude from those they helped. Their eternity will be one full of peace, love, and rest, since they did take advantage of the amount of life they were given in order to finish their own creation. There is no doubt that finishing one's own creation is not easy; and it can only be accomplished by putting forth our best effort and by humbly acknowledging our Creator as the only one we should worship, ask help to fulfill our destiny; ask forgiveness for our faults and shortcomings, give thanks for the ongoing love He gives us, and ask for protection against visible and invisible evils. While meditating on this, someone could say that rather than receiving benefits, he or she has had to endure a life full of suffering, trials, and tribulations. In this case we should analyze whether we have not brought about those woes; and if they're not, maybe they have been allowed to happen so that we can grow through them. Let us remember 7

that in order to create a work of art in gold, the metal has to be melted in a furnace at great temperatures so that it can be molded and transformed into something beautiful. Here we could also meditate about Him who did only well to others, preaching with His own example, and who endured the greatest suffering ever endured by any human being. Yet He accepted those sufferings, and by His death full of love created our civilization, which unfortunately is not as Christian as it claims to be. From these reflections arises the question: Who are we? Everything created is considered a "creature"; the galaxies, the stars, the planets, the moons, the asteroids, the meteorites, our own planet, the plants, the animals... and man. From all these creatures, man is the only one that has been created incomplete, and has been left to finish his own creation. Man has been created by the same infinite loving energy that created the whole universe, which He used as a setting or stage so that we could finish our own creation in it. Therefore, the destiny of all human beings is the same: to finish our own creation until we become complete creatures through our conduct and our actions. By the same token, we can also sink to the lowest degeneration. We will be fortunate if we fulfill our destiny, in which case, at our last breath, we will have our spiritual suitcases full of good actions for our last trip. But if our life is full of fraud, deceit, and harmful actions, then, for our last trip, we will only have filth and maybe lead, which will plummet us deep down for all eternity. Where are we? Albert Einstein, creator of the Theory of Relativity and one of the most intelligent men who has ever lived, used to say that intelligence is only surpassed by imagination, so let's use our imagination to answer this question. Imagine that you are full of health, resting on a beautiful beach, maybe Acapulco or Cancun or Hawaii, and that behind you there is a waterfall descending from a beautiful mountain. You have delicious fruit and a refreshing beverage served on a table beside you. You are restfully watching the coming and going of waves upon the shore. You are enjoying a beautiful morning full of sunshine and a breeze of pure air fills your lungs. Imagine then that, all of a sudden, a spaceship comes descending toward you. It lands on the shore a few feet from where you are sitting. It's a remote controlled ship, with no crew. You hear a seductive voice coming from a set of speakers that invites you to enter the ship, telling you that you have nothing to fear, that you will not be harmed in any way and that you will be completely safe. 8

You enter the ship and notice that there is everything you need to survive; there is food and water in abundance. Reassured, you sit down and the voice tells you to fasten your seat belt, since you are about to travel to the moon and from there to the nearest star and then back again to where you are. The ship takes off and you see how it quickly ascends into space, leaving the Earth behind, which you see as an enormous blue sphere. At the same time you see the moon getting bigger and bigger and the voice announces that you are going to land on the moon. Through the window you see that the surface of this satellite is completely dry; that there is obviously no sign of any vegetation or any other life form. This gives you a feeling of solitude and fear. As the moon turns on its axis you come to a point where it no longer receives the light from the sun, the so-called dark side of the moon. You look down and you can't even see the base of the ship because it's so dark, but you look up and see the Earth receiving the light from the sun, and you realize how beautiful it is. You appreciate the great riches it stores. Back again on the lighted side of the moon you see the sun in all its magnitude and you remember that in a way it is the source of life on Earth. Still in awe from the spectacular views, you hear the voice announcing that you are about to take off toward the nearest star. Getting there would take about four years at the speed of light (300,000 km/sec), but once again, using your imagination, suppose you get there in a short time. The ship stops at a prudent distance from the star, lest you are burned by it. There it stays for a while for you to contemplate the universe. You look at this star, called Alpha Centauri, which is like a sun, but you look for ours and you can't find it. All you see is the starry space. You would have to be an expert in astronomy to be able to find it. As for planet Earth, you wouldn't see it even with a telescope. At this point you begin to experience a great fear, since you realize that you are in an immense and desolate universe. Just then, you realize how fortunate and privileged we are to have our blue planet and live in it. Suddenly, you are relieved by the voice from the speakers telling you to sit down and fasten your seat belt for the journey back to the moon. When you arrive there, you see the sun and the Earth in the distance. You stop here to make a deep analysis and a reflection of what we really are, and you appreciate more what we have and what is really essential and vital for all human beings. This reflection makes you all the more eager to return as soon as possible. The voice announces the trip back to the point of departure. When you arrive you can't resist the desire to kiss the surface of your home planet, the Earth. You find yourself on the same beach you were before this incredible trip, where the temperature is 25°C, contrasting with the extreme temperatures found in the universe, either incredibly cold (-270°C) or intensely hot like the stars, where there is continuous nuclear disintegration. 9

The point of this imaginary trip is that we are in limitless space, where, besides our planet, there are no conditions capable of sustaining life. Yet, we don't appreciate what we have, and therefore, do not take care of the environment. The rivers, the sea, the animals, and everything else that exists on our planet have the purpose of supporting life. If we become fully aware of this fact we will help keep alive the sources of our existence, so seriously damaged already, and we will take care of our health by not smoking and not drinking in excess, and by looking after our bodies, which we often hurt with so many vices and abuses. Why are we here? In order to answer this question it is necessary to reflect about our origin. What is our origin? For many, the answer is that we were created by God; for others, the atheists, the answer is that we are the product of chance and of a long evolutionary process that started with a small cell, which evolved throughout billions of years into various forms of marine, plant, and animal life until the present top of the evolutionary scale, the Homo Sapiens, to which species belong all human beings. Homo sapiens are Latin for "thinking man," but in my opinion, we are far from being Homo sapiens, because we have turned this world into a very chaotic place by our lack of conscientiousness. For believers and atheists alike, the raw materials of man are water, soil, and the biosphere, which allowed the formation of the figure of clay to which God gave the breath of life in order to create Adam, or the formation of the first cell. Either way, the raw materials are water and soil. But how did these materials come to exist? For them to exist it was necessary to create planet Earth, and for planet Earth to exist it was necessary to create the Solar System. And how was the Solar System formed? This was formed from our Galaxy; the Milky Way. And how was the Milky Way formed? This Galaxy; like all others in the universe, was formed from that great explosion that happened over fifteen billion years ago, which has been confirmed by the main observatories and universities worldwide. Before that explosion, called the "Big Bang," there was no space, no time, and no matter; there was only infinite energy at infinite temperature, that, when it exploded, created the subatomic particles, the atomic particles, and matter, space, and time. This shows that, in order for us to exist, nature has had to go through a lot of work, and that our raw materials began to cook more than fifteen billion years go. Our earthly existence is limited to an average of ninety years at the most; compared to the time that was required to cook us; it is as brief as lightning in a thunderstorm. From here we deduce that everything created is a creature: the galaxies, the stars, the planets, the Earth, the plants, the animals and... Man. But man is the only creature not created complete, since it's been left to his own free will to act 10

according to his conscience and to grow and improve or to destroy himself going against his own conscience and hurting others. So to the question why are we here? We could answer from the reflections above that we are here to finish our own creation. This implies acknowledging that we have been created and acknowledging our Creator, whom we should adore, give thanks, and ask for forgiveness, protection, and help. Help, mainly to fulfill our destiny; which is the same for all men: to finish our own creation through self-improvement and through helping others. This involves love for our Creator and for everything that surrounds us: our fellow human beings, or Mother Earth, the plants, the animals, the water, the air, and the universe itself, with which we are in constant contact, as can be attested by the fact that life in our planet is possible in great part by the continuous rays we receive from that wonderful star we call sun. We can conclude this reflection by saying that we are here in order to become aware of the great value of human life and the great dignity and responsibility that comes with it. In so doing we will automatically eliminate any actions of corruption and violence. In order to visualize more clearly the reason of our existence, let us reflect about the very last five seconds of our lives. This is not easy. In order to help us do it, let us imagine how these seconds will be for the most cruel man or woman and for the noblest one. Let us think of a person that distributes drugs and who thus acquires many material goods, power, and money. This person, at the very last five seconds of life, will feel an exaggerated attachment to material riches and will feel sorry for leaving them behind. At the end of his or her life, he or she will be full of hate, darkness, and despair, and will continue like that for all eternity. How different from a person like Mother Teresa from Calcutta, who devoted her entire life to worship her Creator and to give Him thanks and asks His help to do what He wanted her to do. Her work was so great that she was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace. Mother Teresa, at the last five seconds of her life, was full of love, light, and peace. At the end of her earthly life, she went on to eternal love, eternal light, and eternal peace. What will your last five seconds of life be like? ¿ ¿ ¿ ? ? ?

11

B) Motivation, the Basis of Success Objectives: 1. You will learn that in every stage in life there needs to be proper motivation. 2. You will analyze your motivation in the stage of life you are in. 3. You will use your imagination to think how your life would be like had you been born in a poor family or in a very rich one. 4. You will try to imagine how your life would be if you had been born in Egypt, where almost all families are Muslim, or if you had been born in a devout Indian family. Meditation Before starting our discussion about success, let's analyze what success is. This is not easy. Most people don't know what to do with their lives because they don't have a clear vision. In many cases we have many internal conflicts that we do not detect and that don't let us see what we want to do with our lives. In order to know what we want to do for a living, some experts recommend analyzing the areas in which we have more ability or expertise. However, the most important thing is to know what we would really like to do for a living, so that when we wake up every morning we can't wait to go to work because it is like going to see a lover. In order to find out clearly what we would like to do, it is necessary to first see the origin of the internal conflicts that we may have and solve them. Children know what their parents want from them, but they are not encouraged to find out what it is that they really want. Unfortunately, our parents taught us what they thought was best for us according to what they in turn learned from their parents, and so on many generations back. If parents don't listen, they will never find out what their children's dreams are and who they really are. If you are about to form a family, remember that genuine love, towards a spouse or children, is an expression of respect; and respect is understanding that the other person is different, not an extension of the parents. Few parents say to their children: "We respect you, you are unique; we know that you want to find out what you want to do in this life and we are here to help you and support you." Parents have their dreams about their children, but this may stop children from trying to reach their own dreams. Few parents have the serenity to recognize that the one thing children need most is finding out what activity they are going to do all their lives. If they discover it, it will be a great motivation for the rest of their lives. Motivation cannot be imposed. It is like love; it springs from within, but it cannot be forced. The motivation that moves human beings is 12

different in every stage. The motivation of a seven-year-old child cannot be the same of an elderly woman. A child may have a short-term motivation to finish school, which would be a first goal. But then follows another one to finish high school and then yet another one to finish college. Another goal may be to form a happy family. The fundamental goal in each case is to grow as a person step by step as we go through this life. It may be that in one or several stages of our life we will grow, but it may also happen that we get motivated to do something that will not help us grow. Humans first know the immense love of their mother, then they know the love of their father and that of the rest of the family, from which they learn with the examples they see. These examples are the ones that make a lasting imprint in the children, not so much the suggestions or admonitions. The fact that we listen to so many sermons and discourses of people who say something and do the opposite has brought confusion and disorientation, and people don't know what to think and who to believe. This is one of the reasons why some people commit immediate or slow suicide. Who commits slow suicide? A person who, smokes too much, drinks too much, or uses drugs. These are a form of suicide and many people don't even know that they are killing themselves slowly. Retaking our discussion on motivation, I would like to recount an experience I had when I was in school. When I was in fourth grade I didn't like to study much, and towards the end of the school year my teacher called my mother and told her that I might have to repeat that grade if I didn't apply myself and make a greater effort. My mother talked to my father and he became really angry, but he told her that if I managed to pass to fifth grade he would be content and would even give me five dollars. (That was a lot of money for a child back then.) So I really applied myself and studied a lot and I promised I would donate those five dollars to the Church if I passed. My teachers were Catholic and taught me that if you wanted things to go well you had to be a good boy, study hard and offer sacrifices and give alms for the poor and the Church. (Now I wonder if they weren't teaching me how to be corrupt or if I made that promise as some kind of spiritual blackmail that carne to me naturally because of how I had been raised.) Anyway, at the end of that school year, my teacher told me I had passed all my exams and that I could go on to fifth grade. I ran quickly to tell my parents the good news. My father gave me the five dollars he had promised, which I donated to my parish as I had promised. The following year, as I was looking at the list of rooms assigned to each grade, I noticed, much to my chagrin, that I had been placed in fourth grade again. I asked my teacher for an explanation, and he told me that I had passed my final exams, but that my overall average was poor, and the school board had decided it would be best for me to do fourth grade again. My parents were furious, but, of course, I could not give back the five dollars my father had given me. I went through fourth grade again and finally I 13

graduated from grade school, albeit with poor grades. When I started high school, though, I became really motivated to study hard and I graduated with honors. A very great motivation was born in me. What kind of motivation is needed to stop our civilization from degeneration and destruction? Motivation comes when we learn more about ourselves and understand what our destiny is. Humanity has tried to form societies that can live in peace and prosperity, and has created ancestral ideologies that are very different from each other, depending on the part of the world in question. For example, Confucianism prevails in China, Hinduism predominates in India, Shinto’s is practiced in Japan, Islam is the main religion in the Arab world, and Judeo-Christian religions predominate in the Western World. Every ideology or religion has its own commandments and precepts and all of them foster love towards our Creator and everything that surrounds us; with the exception of Buddhism, which strictly speaking is not a religion, but an atheist philosophy based on compassion and meditation. As you can see, all ideologies promote respect for others and most of them have specific commandments, especially Judeo-Christian religions, which observe the Law of Moses. The result of acting according to commandments and precepts has been societies where corruption, cynicism and violence abound. Those who do not obey such commandments always have a pretext. A clear example of this are drugs lords who give "alms" to the Catholic Church and do "good deeds" with their dirty money in order to launder it and clean their conscience. They probably think this compensates for the thousands of people they destroy. How is it possible to understand that in a world where the majority of people label themselves with one religion or the other, all of which proclaim love to God and fellow human beings, the United Nations had to agree on a Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Let us think now how societies would be if all the people recognized the dignity of others and were aware of the great responsibility they have towards themselves and everything around them. Let us imagine a society where everybody understood that our existence required an evolutionary process of more than fifteen billion years. For those who are not atheists and believe in the existence of a Creator, the awe is even greater when we consider that for our creation He had to create a factory in which we were made, and the factory is the universe. Since we are reflecting about this, I would like to analyze the life of a man who existed 2,600 years ago. He was a prince. He had a loving family, riches and good health. We could say that this prince couldn't wish for anything else, because he had everything. His father, who loved him dearly, taught him everything known at that time so that he would be well prepared for the future. He introduced him to many women and married one of them and had a son. We would all think that the rest of this story is that he worked in order to increase his power and extend his 14

kingdom so that his heir would have even more power and riches. This is what we would consider logical, but we are in for a big surprise: All his relatives and friends were astonished to find out one day that he had changed his clothes for those of a beggar and left surreptitiously and abandoned everything he had. What we would consider like the greatest success, he considered as nothing. For him, ultimate success would be to find the origin of suffering, and he decided to leave his family, his power and riches in order to pursue meditation as a way to find the true cause of suffering. He went to a place where nobody could find him and lived under a tree. He spent the rest of his life going from one place to the other teaching that the most important thing in life was to find the origin of suffering, which he concluded was the attachment to material things and the desire to obtain power and riches. He found that it was better not to desire anything and to go deep into the essence of the self to be free from any physical attachment. He would teach this doctrine wherever he went and he gained for himself the love and respect of the people he came in contact with. Together with his conviction that suffering is caused by passions and desires, was his belief that men should have compassion for anything that suffers, whether people, animals or plants. This man was Siddhartha Gautama, called the Buddha, which means "the enlightened one." Those who followed him became known as Buddhists. Presently there are more than 360 million people who still follow his teachings. This story is adequate to meditate about what success is. To understand what was the motivation that this man had in order to dedicate his life to something that his contemporaries no doubt considered madness. However, 2,600 years after his birth, he is venerated, and in some Buddhist sects he is even worshipped. On the other hand, all of his contemporaries, who were motivated to pursue the conventional concept of success, have been completely forgotten. Buddha's motivation was extraordinary, because he rejected what most of us desire most. I would even venture to say that he has been one of the few persons who didn't permit any manipulation and was able to be really authentic with him and with others. Another well-known personage is the founder of the era we live in. Although he taught mainly by example, many have used him and betrayed him in order to create great empires claiming they are his representatives here on Earth and accumulating enormous power and riches, even though he said: "My kingdom is not from this world." If we were to act not by mandates but by the conviction that our life has a concrete purpose, which is to finish our own creation by respecting each other, by becoming aware of the great dignity and responsibility of man, and by understanding that finishing our own creation is to become rich, very rich, but not from material riches, but from spiritual riches based on love toward our Creator and to everything that surrounds us, 15

then, BY CONVICTION AND NOT BY MANDATE, we would have societies free from corruption and violence, which would be the best inheritance for our children. Dare to think of how your life would have been had you been born in another nation, with very different beliefs. Motivated by this, seek always the truth and don't be like sheep, but like a thinking being, and don't let yourself be manipulated by anyone.

16

C) Citizens of Good Will The world revolves with ideas. Great ideas have changed the course of humanity, and this is a great idea: that we all become citizens of good will. Let us define the word citizen: A citizen is a person considered as a member of a nation, who has a right to be protected by that nation, but subject to its laws. Let us define what it means to be good: We could say that being good means to be kind, nice, healthy, considerate, polite, loyal, virtuous, irreproachable, righteous, etc.; in short; an ideal person. Let us analyze now the meaning of will. It is a desire to do something and get the means to do it. We could also say that it is an order we give to ourselves in order to do something, with the ability to decide and choose, with the power of controlling our actions, impulses or emotions. Will is self-control. Having willed implies having a tendency to being active, creative and pursuing self-education. Thus, we can say in brief that a citizen of good will is an excellent person. Being a good will citizen implies pride in such a noble post. This pride of dignity, however, would be increased if we analyze our life and we find ourselves satisfied of how we have made good use of it, of how we are making good use of it and of how we have not committed acts that would bring shame on us. In other words, the more integrity, authenticity and effort there is in our lives, the more confident and prouder we will feel, interpreting this not as vanity or conceit, but as dignity. Now, what is the best thing a citizen of good will can take wherever he or she goes? Undoubtedly it will be his or her good example, a good attitude and kindness when dealing with other people, respecting their ideas. To impose a point of view is something that could be considered against human rights, but analyzing and commenting on that point of view in an amiable way and always searching for the truth is something always useful and valuable. Perhaps you have heard the vulgar saying "Life sucks and then you die." Well, it's about time we counter this thought and start proclaiming that life is worth living. We have all been given the gift of life with the same purpose, to finish our own creation. This implies improving ourselves through knowledge and service. It implies being able to say at the end of our lives: "I have made a good use of my life, I am happy and in peace, and I have lived a life full of love and gratitude towards He who gave me life and towards all that surrounds me, and for my fellow human beings, to whom I have served with all my strength." In order to achieve this total fulfillment, we have to live in good will every single day. But living such a life is not easy, since there is no

17

universal concept of what life should be like. To accomplish this we need constant effort, even in the face of adversity. There is no discourse that can make this happen. We need a methodology that is simple, easy and practical. I have thought out a methodology, which only takes fifteen seconds upon awakening and fifteen seconds before bedtime. It consists of saying, with your own words but with all your heart, something like this: "Thank you Lord for giving me the opportunity to see a brand new day," and something similar before going to bed at night. Something this simple can change our lives, for we will always be in the presence of He who gave us life, and we will have in mind that that day or night might very well be our last one, and that we have to make the most out of it, growing and helping others grow. If we do this and spread it throughout the world, it will be difficult for us to participate in acts of corruption and violence, and we will be better in body and soul, and will be able to serve our society in a better way. Let us be the citizens of good will.

18

D) Our Last Trip Let us prepare our suitcases for our last trip with something we can carry to the other world. The only things we can take with us are the sincere acts of love for our own improvement and that of others, acknowledging that all of us were created by the same INFINITE ENERGY THAT CREATED THE WHOLE UNIVERSE OUT OF LOVE. Human beings are the only ones who were created incomplete. Our Creator made us that way so that we would have the opportunity to finish our own creation. In order to do this, we need to recognize that we are prone to selfishness; we need to pray every day to him who created us and ask him for his help in our task, for ourselves alone cannot accomplish this mission. With this attitude, we will be creatures with a sense of worship and gratitude towards the Supreme Being, asking for his forgiveness for our shortcomings and stupid acts and for his protection from all evil. If we live with this ideology, we will understand the immense value and dignity of human beings and we will respect each other and will live in harmony, peace and prosperity. Those bad politicians that exist in the entire world are really pitiful. They offer a thousand things in order to obtain votes and then forget their promises and use, or rather abuse, the power they have received to benefit themselves and acquire material riches. These bad politicians, businessmen and, in general, all people of bad will are wasting their opportunity to serve, which is really a privilege. They are pitiful, because for their "last trip" they will only have empty suitcases, or worse, they will have suitcases full of lead, which will sink them eternally. If you, the reader, are such a person, I would like you to reconsider your life and use the time you have left to improve as a person and help your brothers and sisters to grow. This way you will have good things to fill your spiritual suitcases. Let us save good things to put in these suitcases and we will be forging a better world. Practice At this point, do you have true peace of mind? Are you full of love towards the one who gave you the gift of life? Do you love the air, the water, the plants, the animals and humankind? If not, what do you think would be convenient for you to do in order to be able to live your final minute of life with absolute peace and tranquility? Do you agree that this is of great importance for every one of us? I believe that only the people who are sincerely able to say at their last moment: "My life has had meaning and fulfillment, and I am in peace and I accept my departure from this world full of love," will be the ones who will die in 19

the best way possible and will have a lot of good things to carry along after their physical death.

20

Second part
Here you will find some practices in order to know if your life is focused in the correct way in order to improve your life towards your best realization with considerations about: Method for Developing Consciousness Introduction Dignity and Responsibility of Human Beings Communication Work and your Well-being Your Home Harmony in the Family Knowing Yourself Home Economics and Savings Healy and Hygiene Nutrition The Human Couple Child Rearing Adolescents Responsible Parenting and Sexual Education Alcoholism: Causes and Consequences Alcoholism: Prevention and Remedies Drug Addiction Mother Nature Conclusions Origin and evolution of “Crusade for Awakening the Conscience”

21

Crusade for Awakening the Conscience Second Part. Here you will find some practices in order to know if your life is focused in the correct way to improve your life towards your best realization with considerations about: Method for Developing Consciousness Introduction Dignity and Responsibility of Human Beings Communication Work and your Well-being Your Home Harmony in the Family Knowing Yourself Home Economics and Savings Health and Hygiene Nutrition The Human Couple Child Rearing Adolescents Responsible Parenting and Sexual Education Alcoholism: Causes and Consequences Alcoholism: Prevention and Remedies Drug Addiction Mother Nature Conclusions Origin and evolution of the Awakening of Consciousness.

Method for Developing Awareness

22

Each of the chapters in this book is divided into three parts: Objectives: This section conscientious about. includes the specific areas to become

Meditation: This is the core section that contains the basic elements of the chapter in question. Practices: A few reflections and activities as a complement for the analysis of the meditation. This third part is very important, since the intention of this book is to instill or rekindle in the reader ethical, spiritual, and civil values. The three parts integrate a guide that will help in the implementation of the principles proposed for personal development and improvement. The reader will develop qualities and will overcome weaknesses. The author will merely show alternatives and options that the reader can accept in order to have a happier life and have a positive impact in his or her family, job, and community.

23

Introduction Is Life a Banquet? We live in a difficult world. Human life has never been as complex as it is now. The communication media report tragic and alarming news every day. Robberies, assaults, rapes, and different acts of violence are out of control. Most movies, books, and television programs show violence, evil, unethical behavior, indecent scenes, and destruction in all its forms. For many people life gets to be unbearable and they find no solution. Reviewing history we see that life has never been easy; but the challenge that life represents should make us be strong and solve our problems. Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American philosopher who lived in the last century, once said: “Life is a banquet for those who are wise.” This thought was valid then and is valid now. But it is difficult to recognize what true wisdom is. Many believe that being wise is to overcome their weaknesses, control their selfishness, and subdue their passions. Without any kind of vice, one’s free will seeks opportunities for personal growth, such as pursuing an education and career development. For others, being wise means to observe the Laws of Moses. For me, a wise person is one who seeks self improvement, makes friends, and lives a useful life while developing a capacity to enjoy life to its fullest. Such a person will find happiness at watching a sunset, at seeing the smile of a baby; at smelling the fragrance of a rose, at talking to a friend, and at seeing that he has been blessed for having the opportunity of living yet another day; remembering to say, “Thank you, my God; help me so that I can help others and myself to find you.” Many people think that success means getting money and power at any cost. These people don’t care if other individuals are hurt or if the environment is destroyed for future generations, as long as they get what they want. Let us remember the founder of this Civilization, who said about himself: ". . . The Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Nevertheless, He, who had no material possessions, with His wisdom and His personal greeting “peace be unto you,” filled everybody with happiness and taught us that an encouraging word given with love is better than money given with disdain. Rabindranath Tagore wrote: “I slept and I dreamed that life was happiness. I woke up and I saw that life was service, I served and I found that happiness is found in service.” Are you all you can be? Are you receiving from life all the gifts it can bestow? Is it worth striving for a better life? Are you doing what’s right and attaining success? Should you give way to passive resignation and fatalism?

24

Life is difficult and most people never understand it. In Greece people went to the Delphic Oracle to seek advice, power, and success. Do you remember the phrase inscribed at the entrance to this oracle? This book is a theoretical and practical manual about the most important subject for you and everybody else: How to live life. In this book you will find, through a series of simple and fundamental messages, the way to find well-being and happiness. The messages are grouped by themes and their reading is for reflecting and for sharing. I wish that your participation in this study brings you happiness and success, and I promise you that if you apply it with determination and sincere interest, you will succeed. By holding this book in your hands you have started the way to become wise. You will be one of those who make life a banquet. “The destiny of every human being is to finish his own creation,” but what does this mean?

25

Dignity and Responsibility of Human Beings Objectives: 1. You will find out the true value of your existence. 2. You will erase from your mind the false idea that only powerful people are important. 3. You will understand that nothing money can buy will make your life worth more. 4. Seeking your own identity, instead of following the masses, will increase your self-respect and your self-worth. Accepting your responsibilities will help you on your road to success. 5. You will understand that life is not merely a sequence of isolated events, but rather a mission-a transcendent and unique destiny. Meditation Humans are social beings. We interact with everything around us. Every person who comes in contact with us affects us for better or for worse. It’s like a stone thrown into a lake; it affects the point where it falls, but it also creates concentric waves that reach far from the original point of impact. Human dignity resides in man’s transcendence and in his appreciation of fellow human beings, love, and death. Man must be concerned with his neighbors, value his virtues, control his egotism, and develop his ability to love. These attributes inspire creativity and will transform any person into a social being whose value is determined by who he is and not by what he possesses. Dignity breeds responsibility. The well-known phrase from nineteenthcentury Europe, noblesse oblige, means that the elite, who have received more material wealth, must accept their responsibility toward less-fortunate creatures. When you grow up both physically and morally, your responsibilities increase. Practice 1. Think of mechanisms to improve respect for human dignity and responsibility toward yourself and your community. Comment upon them with a friend or a family member. 2. Make a list of the goals and objectives you want to accomplish in the next six months. 3. Think about the attitudes you have taken regarding degradations against human dignity.

26

4. Think of three famous characters that have stood out for their human qualities and comment as to how these people have stimulated you with their example. 5. Try to recall an event in your life where your behaviour was outstandingly responsible or irresponsible. Analyse the causes and their consequences. 6. Meditate: What have you done lately for your self-improvement? What things have you left undone that you should have done? Why have you procrastinated doing them? What steps can you take to avoid this in the future? How would your life change if you developed yourself to your fullest potential?

27

Communication Objectives: 1. You will become aware of the fact that human life consists of a series of interpersonal relationships. 2. You will improve your communication skills and will have better relationships at work, at home, and with others. 3. You will be more sensitive to the needs of others and will understand that this brings mutual benefits. Meditation Living involves constant communication. Breathing itself is a form of communication, because it is an exchange between the person and the environment. If we didn’t breathe we would die. Nourishment is also a communication process through which external substances become part of us. By interchanging thoughts and ideas with his fellow human beings, man capitalizes on the experiences of others, and thus progresses. Communication is the basis of union, and union makes strong. Human progress has been made possible by the transmission of information from one generation to the next and from one century to the next. The history of the different cultures has been written, and from this communication we have reaped many valuable lessons. In all communications there must be sincerity from all parts involved; otherwise, it is a futile activity and a waste of time. Besides, in order to establish a good communication with others it is necessary to, as they say, wear the other person’s shoes. In every communication process there is a sender and a receiver. The sender transmits a message in writing, spoken words, gestures or signs, and the receiver interprets the message and transmits an answer. Many times, due to the complexity of the communication process, an idea is misunderstood or misinterpreted, and in some cases, drastically altered. The sender must be capable of transmitting a message that’s clear so that the receiver understands it without the possibility of misinterpretation. Both the sender and the receiver must master the art of communication. Adequate communication is an art. True communication comes from ideas and feelings that are transmitted without any imposition, and implies that desire and interest of the sender and the receiver in assimilating the message.

28

Many people don’t know the art of listening. They may hear what’s being said, but their minds don’t accept it because of preconceived ideas. Sometimes the receiver doesn’t want to listen to reasons or refuses to understand the message from the sender. Hearing the words and understanding their meaning are two different things. Although massive communication technologies have improved at an incredible rate, there are still many misunderstandings among men and nations. Education has been individualized in a competitive environment that produces rivalry. This rivalry does not promote cooperation; and the lack of cooperation blocks communication. Also, urban settlements do not encourage individual communication, because the multitudes ignore the individual, and an isolated individual feels lonely because of the lack of human contact. It has been demonstrated that children who do not receive physical contact or other form of communication from their mothers get easily sick or even die. Mental health in adults deteriorates because of lack of communication. Neurotic people, people who are irritable, tense, or suffer from inferiority complex or other problems have something in common: they do not feel fully integrated into their environment and in general do not accept themselves, nor do they feel accepted by others. The way a person is perceived and treated by his interlocutor influences a lot of his behavior. If you argue with another person and you decide that person is deceitful or treacherous, then maybe you will influence him to act precisely like that. On the other hand, if you expect good things from a person and trust in his integrity, that person, in general, will never disappoint you. We must have faith in people. If we assume sincerity; relationships will be beneficial and positive. That’s easy to say, but it is an art. Practice 1. Make a list of your communication problems: • • • At home At work In any other place Analyze these problems and comment upon them with someone. 2. Talk with a friend about a very personal matter that has affected you emotionally. Both of you should go as deep as possible in your discussions. For example: What has been the happiest day of your life? Try to feel that moment again. What has been the saddest day in your life? Explain why and analyse the experience. 3. You can do the following exercise with your family or with some friends: Find a picture or image that’s not too complex and that

29

nobody has ever seen. Describe it with words and ask everybody to draw a description on a piece of paper. Show the original picture and compare the different drawings. Analyse this experience in order to understand the difficulties that can arise in everyday communication. 4. Express your reaction to this anecdote: There was once a farmer who lost his sickle. He looked for it everywhere but couldn’t find it. This made him suspects his neighbor’s son, so he began to follow the boy and observe all his movements: the way he walked, his facial expression, his postures, etc. The farmer became convinced that the neighbor’s son was a thief. He kept this idea for some time, until one day he found his sickle under a stack of hay where he himself had left it. Then he began to observe the boy again and he decided that his characteristics were evidently those of an honest man. How can we be so quick to judge others by appearances? The best prevention and the best remedy against jumping to conclusions is open communication.

30

Work and Your Well-being

Objectives: 1. You will come to see that work represents a good opportunity to find yourself and to develop your potential. 2. You will understand that work fosters the integration of individuals in a society. 3. You will develop a strong will to overcome adversities and you will use your job as your better tool for personal growth. Meditation “Man was born to work, like birds were born to fly,” my grandfather used to say. “Working is for adults like playing is to children,” psychologists teach us. The privilege of living brings the need to adapt us to our environment and to improve it. Every innovation brings forth an occasion for new adaptations and an opportunity to be creative. Work is the happy opportunity to find ourselves, to learn, to cooperate with others, to make things better, to face and overcome obstacles, and to develop our talents. Today, more than ever before, life has become very competitive. Living in the present times is a constant challenge. It’s like traveling on a ship in turbulent waters: if we don’t make an effort to guide the ship, we will go adrift. It is necessary to avoid conformity so that our job will always arouse our interest and our creativity. Even in the simplest job, by using a little imagination, we can come up with new methods, improve our relationships with others, and, above all, give something of ourselves in every task. Our jobs give us social purpose and satisfy our need for belonging to a group. A well-understood spirit of competition stimulates the integration in a team, but only through the collaboration and participation of all the members of the team does such spirit of competition yield success. A good example of this kind of cooperation can be found in sports teams. Working is the best way to find our own place in society. When people meet and introduce themselves they say their name and their occupation; for example, “I’m an engineer,” “I’m a teacher,” “I’m a nurse,” etc. Then, why is it that for some people work is a heavy burden, or as some says “a necessary evil”? This attitude may arise from several causes, like conflicting relationships with others, lack of adequate motivation, or the false idea that life would be more pleasant if we didn’t have to work. An aversion to work, on the other hand, produces an inability of the individual to adapt himself to his environment. 31

You are fortunate if you don’t consider your job to be a burden, but rather an opportunity to improve and to project your personality with creativity and an attitude of service. Practice

1. Analyse the physical and human factors that make your job an unpleasant activity. Distinguish between the factors you can modify and the ones you cannot change. Define strategies and concrete actions to improve your situation. 2. Considering that it’s a blessing to enjoy one’s job, answer these questions to yourself: Do I like my job? What can I do in order to like it more? What’s stopping me from making some changes? 3. Make a list of the most common pretexts used to justify the lack of dedication on the job. Discuss them with your co-workers. 4. Try to remember a happy incident related to your job, an activity that you consider successful or pleasant. Analyse it and try to see how this incident helped you appreciate your job. 5. Make a list of the abilities, skills, and qualifications that can help you get ahead in your job. Distinguish between well-developed skills and those you know you have to work on. 6. Answer these questions: Who is the person I admire the most? How can I relate this role model to my job?

32

Your Home Objectives:

1. You will meditate on how your home influences your personality and your joy of living. 2. You will learn to appreciate the values you acquired at home and will not allow yourself to be controlled by other influences. 3. You will consider how your attitudes foster or disrupt the harmony in your home. Meditation Home should not be a place where wrath, incomprehension, and lack of love or care prevail. We generally associate the word home with our house, but by extension home can also mean our neighborhood, our town, our country; any place that is part of our lives and where we have created bonds of affection. All the details of daily living, the objects that we cherish, the shared experiences, are part of our home, and part of us. Like saying goes: “Home is where the heart is.” Although the harmony of our homes depends essentially on good human relations, the physical characteristics of our dwelling are also important. The more we print the seal of our personality on our house the more we are likely to enjoy it. Make your house an attractive and comfortable place. Decorate it, keep it clean, and make it something you can be proud of. Don’t fall in the vicious circle of avoiding your home because it is an unpleasant place because you are never there to keep it. If you don’t like your house or apartment for some reason, then find a solution. Create an atmosphere, which is pleasant to you and the other members of your household. Beauty and harmony sometimes do not depend so much on money, but on the care and interest you put in providing them. You can use your imagination and acquire good taste. Invest some time and effort in decorating and improving your home and you will be rewarded by the results. For example, a nice picture or painting in a nice frame can change a room immediately. Some plants, even in inexpensive pots, can make a big difference. Of course cleanliness and order are essential. With a few changes you will feel a whole new attitude towards your home. We all want the newer generations to live in a better world, but we have to teach them how to bring it about. A person tends to reproduce the atmosphere in which he was born. If a person is not used to cleanliness and order, it will be very difficult for him to appreciate how these qualities can improve his life. 33

Any house or apartment can be transformed into a pleasant and functional place with a little effort and by putting attention to little details: • • • • • • • • A room that is clean and in order attracts company. To avoid a sense of disorder try using shelves to keep your books, tapes, CDs and other small things in order. Try to maximize the space available in a room by organizing the furniture in the best way possible. A bunk bed, instead of two separate beds, frees a lot of space in a small bedroom. Drawers or boxes can provide storage solutions. Choose light-colored paint for walls and ceilings. This will give an illusion of spaciousness and provide more illumination. You can create more space in the kitchen by hanging pans, pots and other utensils on the wall in an attractive way. Plants always decorate a home, and taking care of them provides us a way to relax from everyday stress.

Little details count the most. Give your home a personal touch by choosing objects that reflect your taste and that say something about you. Practice 1. Sit back comfortably, close your eyes, breath deeply and rhythmically for a few minutes and try to relax as much as you can. Try to recall your first childhood memories. Evoke an image complete with rooms, furniture, doors, decorations, toys, voices, pets, food, etc. Then analyse how all that carne to form part of our personality. 2. Think of five ways to improve your home. Write them down. Think about the benefits each improvement will give you and establish a time goal to implement them. 3. Write a few ideas on what an ideal family would be. If you already have one, think of ways to conform it to that ideal. If you are about to form one, strive for that ideal.

34

Harmony in the Family Objectives: 1. You will become aware of the enormous importance of an open, spontaneous and respectful communication within the family. 2. You will earn that harmony and tranquillity in the family depend on a good communication among all its members. 3. You will come to understand that a positive environment is the most valuable thing parents can provide for their children. Meditation You weren’t born into this world like a fungus or a solitary tree. The beginning of our existence was a vital communication between two human beings: your mother and your father. Most human beings are born into a family, where their character is shaped and their future determined. That is why the family is the basis of society. It is the most dynamic and fundamental cell. Interfamilial relationships are vital for the development of a person’s character. A family is an organization and not just a group of unrelated people. A family needs to be well coordinated, united and integrated with a high sense of solidarity, in order to achieve the adequate development of all its members. This can only be done with a habitual, fluid, open, spontaneous, reflexive and creative communication. More than individual qualities, the quality and degree of communication among the members of the family are what produce harmony. Inevitably, there will be conflicts. Sometimes conflicts are a sign of vitality and mutual interest, in which case we shouldn’t worry; but we must learn to identify the causes. All too frequently, if a person feels misunderstood, he or she tends to get angry, instead of being reasonable and make an effort to find a solution to whatever problem there is. To solve this kind of conflict we need to wear the shoes of the other person, so to speak. From that perspective we can try to express our feelings as if we were the other person. Psychologists call this empathy. When there’s frustration and disappointment many people turn irritable and aggressive, although we are rarely aware of these subconscious mechanisms. If we learn to be aware of them we can be more tolerant with aggressive people. It is a big mistake to confuse aggressiveness with hostility and animosity. Teenagers affront their parents, not because they hate them, but because they feel defenseless and weak. In order to avoid extreme situations, parents must learn to show their feelings openly and straightforwardly and to avoid making condemnatory judgments. We can learn to let people know that their attitude is bothering us without saying things like “1 can’t stand you!” or “You drive

35

me crazy!” It’s better to say things like: “I get a little nervous when you... Or “I feel offended when you. . .......” “Familiarity breeds contempt,” so the saying goes. Sometimes a family member is not taken seriously or does not receive the respect he or she deserves and is ridiculed, which is most harmful for the individual and for the family as a whole. One of the things that damage human relationships the most is labeling people. All too often we misjudge people and apply them preconceived labels. This is rather unfair, because we may be wrong, or we might be jumping into conclusions without having all the facts. Besides, any human being is variable, changeable and improvable. It is not easy to gain trust and respect, but we must always try to get them. Being the promoter of communication in the family involves accepting others as they are and expressing sincere interest in times of trouble. Practice 1. Visualize a harmonious family and a broken-up one. Point out the differences between the two. For example: HARMONIOUS FAMILY • • • • • • Happiness and tranquillity Peace and a relaxed atmosphere Freedom of expression Enthusiasm Frankness and openness Mental stability BROKEN-UP FAMILY • • • • • • Animosity and/or indifference Stress Repression Pessimism Concealment Neuroticism

2. Think about the principal communication problems that you may have had in your family. Analyse them and categorize them in order of importance. Identify the factors that may have caused the problem, such as age, sex, childhood traumas, temperament, health, finances, ideology, education, etc. Meditate on how these communication problems affect your spirit and your performance. Comment about this with a friend or a family member. 3. Evoke communication experiences, either good or bad, with your in-laws. Comment about them with others.

36

4. Think of the families you know and compare them with the ideal family. Analyse these comparisons and draw out any value you find in them. 5. Answer for yourself these questions: What is my contribution to family unity? What can I do to improve things? In which relationships am I more positive? Father-son, husband-wife, son-inlaw father-in-law, brother-sister, etc. 6. How do your friends influence your family? Are they a positive or a negative influence? 7. Try to remember a difficult, happy or unhappy communication event with your family in a party, a funeral, an accident, etc.

37

Knowing Yourself Objectives: 1. You will come to see that one’s personality is more than just one’s conscience. 2. You will understand the wisdom behind the phrase “know yourself’ and will convince yourself that one’s mental health and development is linked with knowing who we are. 3. You will acquire a habitual interest for learning to know yourself by analysing your thoughts and the image you project to others. Meditation We all have the tendency to believe that we know ourselves. However, if we analyze ourselves, we will see that there are many enigmatic aspects of our personality we are not aware of. Many times we choose the wrong way in life because we don’t know what our aptitudes and abilities are. Many talents go undeveloped because sometimes we don’t realize we have them. We all have a conscious and a subconscious part of ourselves. The former one is very clear, but the latter one is obscure. The conscious part of our minds is smaller than the subconscious one. In the subconscious part we keep an infinite number of perceptions from childhood, and experiences and sensations we have lived throughout our lives, which have shaped us the way we are. A child who has been denied the love of its mother keeps that rejection in the subconscious and manifests it in adult life in different ways, such as insecurity, rejection of others, frustration, aggressiveness, psychosomatic illnesses, etc. It is painful to come to grips with the truth of our own deficiencies and sometimes we avoid knowing our inner selves. However, this ignorance can cause anguish, insecurity, fear and many failures. Practice 1. Think of five characteristics that define your personality. Write them down and analyse them. 2. Evoke your childhood and teenage years and remember an event that revealed some of your hidden talents. If possible, remember

38

the whole episode and comment it with a friend, your spouse or a co-worker. 3. Meditate: Was there a strong criticism or observation from another person that helped me react and understand aspects of my personality that I couldn’t see clearly? When somebody criticizes me, do I open myself in order to gain understanding or do I close my mind and adopt a defensive attitude? 4. Talk to someone about your failures. Which one has been most painful? Why? What did you learn from them? 5. Make a list of basic areas in which you should examine yourself in order to get to know yourself better. Your list should include items like these: • • • • • • • • • • • What is my character like? How do I react in difficult situations? How do I react in happy and sad situations? What is my best quality? What are my ambitions in life? What do I expect from life? How do I take care of my personal appearance? How do I take care of my health? How do I get along with others? What is my attitude towards the opposite sex? How well do I communicate with others? How much self-confidence do I have?

39

Home Economics and Saving Objectives: 1. You will reflect on your home administration habits and methods. 2. You will conclude, by the evidence, that even a limited income can be adequate if you learn to use it appropriately. 3. You will learn about the relationship there is between psychological maturity and good saving habits. Meditation Home Economics To administrate means to distribute and apply the means we have in order to achieve a specific goal. An adequate domestic administration allows a family to spend the money available to satisfy all their needs. There are four steps for a good administration: 1. Planning

Establish clear and specific goals and the ways to attain them, taking into consideration the financial resources available. At this stage it is necessary to define projects and programs. 2. Organization Assign and distribute the different things you want to accomplish with the money you have available. Delegate responsibilities. 3. Implementation Carrying out, step by step, that which was planned. 4. Control

This means making sure that the implementation agrees with what was planned and organized. If you apply these four steps you will be a better administrator. In every administration there is an instituted hierarchy, because one person alone cannot solve everything at the same time. If we don’t follow an order, then secondary problems will find priority over others that are more urgent and important. Many families don’t live as well as they could because their finances are not well planned. Saving At the planning stage, you should bear in mind that at any time, something unexpected can happen, and that an emergency must be 40

dealt with immediately. The best thing to do is to save part of the money for unforeseen situations. Our savings can give us a sense of security in the event of an emergency and avoids turning it into a major crisis. A savings account carries a lot of benefits, but it is necessary to give up certain present luxuries in order to obtain the greatest benefits in the future. It is evident that only the barest needs can be covered with a limited income, but if we organize our finances and increase our savings, little by little, we will be able to face greater needs or maybe even to invest in a more ambitious project. Nevertheless, you should be careful not to go to extremes. It is terrible not being able to save even a dime, and to acquire more debts than we can handle, but it is also bad to suffer needs due to an obsession of accumulating money during a long period of time. Lack of planning is as bad as avarice. Money contributes to security, progress and liberty. A person who administers his or her resources efficiently can choose different ways to solve the problems that arise. On the other hand, a person who spends all his or her money is doomed to live with uncertainty and becomes victim of circumstance. Practice 1. Write a list of five or six goals that you want to accomplish in your life. Besides each one write what you have to do in order to attain them. Then ask yourself: What am I currently doing to achieve my goals? How can I organize my life and concentrate all my efforts towards my objectives? 2. Make a list of your administrative tasks both at home and on the job. How do you and your family measure up in the following areas? • Maintenance of your living quarters (order and cleanliness) • Decoration • Economics • Time management Now ask yourself how you can improve in these areas. 3. Remember the things you have accomplished through your savings account. What is your reaction when you think of these accomplishments? 4. Answer to yourself the following questions: In general terms: How do I plan my life? How do I spend my money? If a doctor told me I had only a year of life left, to whom would I leave my belongings? How would I spend the time I have left?

41

5. How do I defend myself from commercial propaganda? How many times do I buy things when I really don’t have the intention to acquire anything?

42

Health and Hygiene Objectives: 1. You will instil in you and in your family an interest for healthful living. 2. You will learn different forms of promoting health and hygiene. 3. You will develop a desire for self-improvement by increasing your interest in reading and by thinking positively in order to have not only physical but also spiritual health and hygiene. Meditation Health is the state of well-being of any living organism with all its biological functions. The concept of health also applies to psychological and mental functions. When there isn’t full harmony between the mind and the body and the environment, somatic or mental disease sets in. Among the environmental factors we can mention the landscape, the weather, the customs, the people that surround us, the food we eat, etc. The physiological factors refer to our inherited characteristics. Hygiene is the part of medicine that studies the ways of maintaining health and preventing sickness. The first and most important rule of hygiene is cleanliness, because in dust and dirt thrive the germs that cause disease. Moderate physical exercise is very beneficial because it activates blood circulation, carrying oxygen to all organs and tissues. Besides, exercise is the best form of relief from everyday stress. A highly recommendable exercise is walking or jogging outdoors. If this is not possible, stationary jogging is a good alternative. Some people prefer to practice a daily routine of gymnastics or aerobics. Whatever your preference, but be sure to visit your local library for more information about exercise. A well-balanced diet is essential for good health. This topic will be discussed in the next chapter. Rest is also important. When we spend energy and don’t allow our bodies to recover through nourishment and an adequate amount of rest, our natural defenses decline and we are exposed to disease. This can also be applied to our minds. Our minds need to rest through sleep and reasonable entertainment. Among the different kinds of entertainment we should distinguish between the ones that require our active participation, like sports, games, artistic activities, hobbies, etc., from those which are passive in nature, like movies, television, the theatre, the opera, etc. Although all forms of entertainment may contribute to our relaxation and distraction, those that require our active participation are better, since they promote creativity and foster socializing with others. They can also 43

serve as a form of occupational therapy. It is also important that we feed our spirits with positive and healthy forms of entertainment, ones that stimulate creativity, increase our talents and have a social purpose. Mental hygiene also involves cleaning our minds from negative thoughts, grudges, desires of vengeance, etc. By having a positive attitude we will be kind, polite and pacific. Practice 1. Make a list of suggestions to improve your hygiene in the following areas: Your own person (external and internal) Your house Your community 2. Try to get involved in some sport as a family. 3. Think about the pollution created by trash. If we all do our part and act responsibly, our neighbourhoods will be clean. 4. Noise also pollutes the environment. Think about ways in which you can contribute to eliminate or reduce noise 5. Think about air pollution. How can you help reduce it?

44

Nutrition
Objectives: 1. You will reflect on the decisive impact that a good diet has on a person’s health, development, productivity and well-being. 2. You will identify some highly nutritious foodstuffs that are readily available to anyone. 3. You will become familiar with the most common mistakes in the selection and handling of food. 4. You will understand that there is a close relationship between what we eat and our health. Meditation Energy or the calorific function Our bodies constantly consume energy, which we must replace. This expense of energy is manifested in the form of: Heat All our organs function at a constant temperature of 98.6 F. This temperature remains stable, even if the atmospheric temperature is colder or warmer. Movement All vital functions, like breathing, digestion, blood circulation, etc., and all the voluntary movements of our limbs, hands, fingers, neck, etc. Electric Energy The nervous system can be compared with the electric installation in a house. There are many ramifications that communicate with the brain. The brain sends messages to all organs, and all functions are coordinated. Energy Reserve This reserve provides additional energy in case of an unexpected strenuous effort or when the body goes without food for a longer-thanusual period of time. Plastic Function This is the forming and renewing of tissue. This function can be appreciated in a wound, when the process on cicatrization begins. Regulating Function It favors the correct utilization of the substances necessary for the plastic and energetic functions of the body. The main nutrients that act in the plastic function are called proteins. These constitute the common component in all living organisms, and are present in the muscles, the skin, the blood, etc. An insufficiency of proteins causes a general lack of vitality, glands work at a slower rhythm, and tissues begin to deteriorate. 45

The nutrients in charge of producing energy are fats and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the source of energy necessary for all physical activity. Even when we sleep, our bodies are still working and consuming energy. Fats, besides storing energy, act as shock absorbers and isolate temperature. There are many substances that help maintain the regulating function. Some of the most important ones are: Water Approximately two thirds of total body weight in humans is water. It is found abundantly in all tissues, and besides being an essential component; it is a means of transportation. In processes such as digestion and blood circulation, it acts as lubricant. Vitamins These should be considered as nutrients, not as medicines. There are approximately forty different vitamins, but the most important ones are about a dozen. Each vitamin has specific functions, and the lack of one or more vitamins produces a number of disorders. Some of the main functions of vitamins are: Vitamin A. Stimulates bone growth, keeps the skin and mucous membranes in good condition, and maintains the eyes healthy. Vitamin B. It is essential for the nervous system and for the digestion process. It stimulates appetite. Vitamin B2. Helps assimilate proteins and fats and keeps skin in good condition. Vitamin C. Helps the body defend itself against bacteria and infections. Vitamin D. Acts as an adjuvant in calcium absorption; therefore, it helps maintain bones and teeth in good condition. Vitamin E. Helps renew tissues. Vitamin K. Intervenes in coagulation processes. Minerals These constitute approximately four percent of total body weight. Like vitamins, they have different functions. Some of the most important minerals are: calcium, phosphorus, copper, sulfur, iodine, magnesium, sodium, iron and potassium. Calcium is necessary for the strength of bones, teeth and muscles, and for blood coagulation. Iron is essential for the forming of hemoglobin and to maintain muscles strong and flexible. All the nutrients the body needs can be found in different proportions in the food we eat. It is essential that our diet contain a great variety of food, because everything is useful for our health, but it is necessary to know the nutritious value of the food we eat. Milk contains great amounts of calcium, carbohydrates, and vitamin B1. Meat, besides being rich in proteins, contains vitamin B and iron.

46

Innards, such as liver, heart, kidneys, and brains contain iron and vitamins A, B, D and K in great amounts. Eggs contain proteins, calcium and vitamin B1. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins A, B 1 and K. Citric fruits, such as oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits, etc., have a very high content of vitamin C. Green leaves, such as spinach, are rich in iron and vitamins A; C and K. Whole cereals have almost all the nutrients we need. Wheat has been called the “life sustainers,” because it contains many of the nutrients the human body needs. Fresh fruits and vegetables are delicious and beneficial because they are easily digested. In order to obtain all their benefits, fruits and vegetables must be consumed uncooked whenever possible; if they must be cooked use just a little water and do not overcook. It’s good to eat fresh food whenever possible, because conservation processes not only increase price but also reduce nutrition quality. As mentioned above, whole-grain cereals are very nutritious, because the external shell contains most of the nutrients. The same applies to apples, potatoes, carrots and many other fruits and vegetables. In different periods of life it is necessary to eat certain kinds of foods in greater amount. During infancy, adolescence, and pregnancy, greater amounts of calcium and phosphorus are required for the formation of healthy bones and teeth. These minerals can be found in great amounts in milk and dairy products. It is highly recommendable to drink water abundantly between meals (one litter of water per twenty kilograms of weight) every day. This will help maintain a good intestinal function and will prevent problems like hemorrhoids. Food should be thoroughly chewed and eaten slowly and calmly. The Romans used to say: “Digestion starts in the mouth.” Avoid worrying or arguing during a meal and don’t eat hurriedly. Meals should also be eaten at a predetermined time, because our organs work best if they are used to periods of activity and rest. Avoid fats, flour and sugar in excess to prevent obesity and digestive disorders. The habit of drinking carbonated beverages may cause cavities and contribute to obesity. Another bad habit is to eat junk food. It is difficult not to cave in to the deceitful and inviting fast food propaganda, but if you resist the temptation you will be doing yourself a big favor, both in terms of quality and cost. For example, with the money you pay for a bag of potato chips, you could buy several pounds of raw potatoes, and the nutritious value of the latter has no match. Canned food generally costs more than fresh food and contains untoward agents, such as preservatives and artificial colors and flavorings.

47

Practice 1. Analyse the following: What is the significance of good nutrition? How does it affect your character, your productivity and your general well-being? 2. 3. 4. 5. Meditate on these topics: Do you consider good nutrition as the basis for good health? How can you have an adequate nutrition with a limited income? Analyse the main causes of malnutrition in the world. How could this problem be solved? 6. Learn how to cook healthy food for your family and avoid junk food. 7. Drink enough water during the day. 8. What are the eating habits of your family?

48

The Human Couple Objectives: 1. You will consider your attitude towards the opposite sex. 2. You will acquire the conviction that men and women are essentially alike, but that there is a need to define the functions and roles of each one in order to have a better appreciation of each other. Meditation Happiness depends in great part on a harmonious and peaceful relationship in the family, and no effort is ever big enough to attain and maintain such a relationship. Respect and sincerity are the basis of stable and lasting relationships, but we should never overlook other elements, like comprehension, communication, cooperation and acceptance. Men and women are different not only physically but also in their thinking and feeling. The characteristics of both complement each other, so that both sexes need each other in order to improve as a person. Men and women need to understand, accept and value their mutual differences and similarities. We cannot say that each sex has exclusive and unique characteristics that are perfectly defined. MEN WOMEN Emotional stability Emotional volubility Logical reasoning Intuition Certain individualism Sociability Tolerance Intolerance Constant Inconstant Self-satisfied Need approval Calculating Give themselves completely Most of us seek to form a family, but we see that there are more divorces now than ever. Sometimes people say that somebody is his or her “better half,” and they marry that person. But later they discover that the person they married was rather their “worst half.” The secret for a happy marriage is that we ourselves have to be a “good half’ to start with, that is, a person of value in all respects. Then we can set out to look for our “better half,” otherwise we will end up with two “bad halves.” Such a marriage will be a failure and the couple will live in frustration. Now, every one of us should have a spiritual partner: someone to whom we can give our essence, our will and our being. This partner is the one who gave us the gift of life. I admit that the word partner is not the best to use here, but I use it so that the reader can see clearly that He is the 49

one we need most in our lives. If we give our lives to him and if we humbly ask him his protection and his help to do what He wants us to do, then we will find the energy to become better in every sense. Thus, we will make that miracle happen the miracle of love, of finding the right partner with whom to share our lives. The functions and roles of men and women have changed a lot throughout history and are very different from one country to another. There isn’t a well-defined model or pattern universally accepted as to how men and women should behave. In some cultures women govern and establish rules and regulations. In others, women are nothing but slaves or servants. Nowadays there is much talk about women’s liberation, but we need to distinguish among the different points of view. One of them denies any difference between men and women and disregards any historical guidelines for their roles. Others believe that men and women must have the same opportunities and responsibilities according to their abilities. However, things would be better if there were sincere collaboration, mutual respect and acceptance of each other’s limitations. A vital factor in today’s economies is female labor. Women are working now in areas that were shut for them in the past, such as firefighting, the army, the police, politics, etc. and are making a great contribution. A woman, being a mother, is capable of working and bringing up her children. She has a sense of security because she can provide for her family. Besides she can enjoy fringe benefits such as paid vacations, insurance, bonuses, etc., which also contribute to the family’s wellbeing. There has been much talk about “free love,” and I believe that love is essentially free, since it is impossible to conceive forced or imposed love. In marriage, love is free. Love for our children is free. Love for our parents is free. Love for our Creator is free. It cannot be any other way. Love is free or it isn’t love. There has also been much talk about abortion, which is legal in some countries. In China it is not only permitted, but even compulsory if a family has more children than those allowed by the government. Regarding this topic I will say that no generalizations should be made and that a woman that has to decide whether to abort or not should be supported by her family and advised by a physician and by her own conscience, and that her decision should be respected. When I have been asked to give my opinion, it has always been that the creature has a right to live. Practice 50

1. Make a list of the different characteristics of men and women. Analyze these differences and think of the many ways they complement each other. 2. Think about the Women’s Liberation Movement: What originated this movement? What are the advantages and disadvantages of what this movement has accomplished? 3. Analyze: What are three characteristics you look for in the opposite sex? Why? Which are the three characteristics that you dislike the most? 4. Write down five concrete ways to improve your marriage. 5. What is your opinion about “free love”? 6. What do you think about abortion?

51

Child Rearing Objectives: 1. You will reflect about the responsibilities parents have towards their children. 2. You will examine some attitudes in dealing with children. Meditation Every individual has potential qualities that should be cultivated and developed in order to reach the peak of his or her capacity. An interesting observation is that a man can work all his life in order to reach his goals, but the first three or four years of life establish his character and personality. It is the parents’ responsibility to help their children during infancy and the early years so that they develop their physical, mental and moral potential. Bringing up a child does not only involve instruction and training, but also stimulation and guidance. This way, children will acquire agility, strength and wisdom, and they will develop moral attitudes that will shape honest men and women. Bringing up children implies knowing them and respecting their individuality. A child does not benefit from criticism and is discouraged when compared with others. You should never try to impose your rules to children with orders such as: “You must do this or that,” or “You have to study whatever you are told,” because these attitudes inhibit their individualism. These instructions will make children comply, but will restrict their spontaneity and will repress them in several aspects, leading them to rebellion and causing them mental complexes and personality disorders. Children are more sensitive to attitudes and examples than to instructions and orders. This is why the family is the basis for their education. The concepts of their parents determine, in great part, their conduct and their attitudes towards life. When there is an inevitable need to correct or reprimand we must consider several important factors:

52

1. A parent must think in terms of what the child needs, and then try to find ways to benefit him most, instead of introducing him to the established codes of conduct that may not coincide with those of the child. A good parent will never be able to avoid problems in daily life, though. Teach your children not for the benefit of being recognized as a good parent, but for the benefit of their personal improvement. 2. Always be just and equitable with children. A punishment must be just and impartial for every bad conduct. 3. Remember that we react better to praise than to reprehension. We, as parents, must be quick to praise and to acknowledge good conduct. This is one of the most important attributes of a good educator. 4. Be objective and give a punishment according to the transgression. A big fault cannot be punished as a minor offence, and vice versa. Of course, age must always be a determining factor, because we cannot treat a child like an adult. Childhood is one of the most beautiful stages of life, so we must let children enjoy it without burdening them with responsibilities beyond their age. Parents should deal with worries, not children. Give children freedom to discover the world at their own pace, little by little. The more varied their perception, the better they will develop and the more self-confidence they will acquire. Children need to feel accepted by their parents. This acceptance will give them the security they need and will contribute to form a reasonable and prudent personality. It is also very important to listen to them and let them know that we are sincerely interested in their conversations. A parent must always keep a promise made to a child. A broken promise can destroy the child’s confidence in adults. Favoritism can be harmful. It can cause hostility, insecurity and an inferiority complex. Parents should never be negative in the presence of their children. They should not contradict nor criticize each other or fight in the presence of their children. They should always show a stable and united front. They should not rebuke a child for a bad action one day and accept it another day. Consistency is the clue for good reasoning. Children need to be hugged. Physical manifestations of love are essential. This warmth is transmitted to the children’s personality. Rudeness is never good, and whatever seems to be obtained by it is only an illusionary gain. Discipline should be based in kindness, reason and example. The rule of thumb could be summed up in two words: firmness and softness. Our example is fundamental if we want our children to have true transcendental values, but we first have to acquire them and practice them ourselves. Parents cannot give what they don’t have. In order to educate our children effectively it is necessary to educate ourselves and 53

reflect about our actions in our everyday life. No advice or instruction is complete without examples. If parents want to teach moral values to their children but do the opposite —even secretly— the children will perceive it and will be defrauded. This is the reason why all good parents must be honest always, not only in the presence of their children. Practice 1. Why is it difficult to understand our children? 2. List three qualities of each one of your children and comment on them with another couple. 3. List your values in order of importance. Consider values like honesty, kindness, service, integrity, health, love, friendliness, loyalty, civility, solidarity, etc. How do your values influence your children? 4. Meditate on the following: What kind of values do I transmit to my family? Write down at least three in order of importance. What are the values taught and practiced in my children’s school? What values are prevalent in the community I live in? 5. Make a list of all the child-rearing problems you face. Comment on these with another couple. 6. Talk with your spouse and analyze the lies you say and that your children hear. What implications might this have? 7. Observe your possessiveness, your authority and the way in which you reprimand your children.

54

Adolescents Objectives: 1. You will learn to analyze the specific character of adolescents and understand their problems before judging them. 2. You will get information from adequate sources to practice positive incentives and help establish good habits in young people. Meditation Adolescence is a period of constant changes in which the person begins the search for his own identity. At this point in life, adolescents feel that they no longer belong to the world of children, but they haven’t fully integrated into the world of adults either. This causes them insecurity and some very solitary experiences that can trigger stress, impatience, irritability and sometimes even aggression. In order to escape from the problems that generate anxiety and worry, adolescents sometimes try to protect themselves by joining a gang. During childhood their family had protected them, but now they realize that their family is not eternal and that someday they will be on their own. Their natural reaction to this is the desire of being themselves, with the purpose or the intention of shaping their own independent personality. They have to prove to themselves they can handle the challenges they face. Adolescents sincerely think that if they continue being docile, submissive and obedient, they will not be able to prepare themselves to live on their own. They think that by being rebellious they are detaching themselves from their family. Their rebellion is a way of practicing freedom and also a way to cut the family ties. Adolescence is not a placid stage like childhood. If sometimes, in adulthood or in old age, this period of life is idealized, it is because the authentic experiences have been forgotten. If adults really remembered the internal conflicts they went through during that stage, they would be more tolerant and indulgent with adolescents. To help young people in these difficult times it is necessary to understand them. The first step is to observe them with affection, the second step is to listen to them before rebuking them, and the third step is to respect them as human beings before trying to solve their problems. In essence, bringing up adolescents is easy. It only requires showing friendliness and being genuinely interested in their world. There is nothing worse than treating adolescents like children, mocking them or laughing at them.

55

Adults must recognize an adolescent’s right to independence. Many parents, unknowingly perhaps, continue dominating their children who have outgrown childhood. It is quite normal to experience a generation gap between the parents’ and the adolescents’ point of view because the former have experienced life in a different period of time. Sometimes communication between the two generations is difficult and tense. Parents argue that “experience is the best teacher” and children say “that was then, this is now.” A better position for both generations would be to try to understand the differences and accept with an open mind the advantages and disadvantages of both points of view. In many cases adolescents find themselves confused and disoriented because their parents or their teachers advise them to do things they don’t do or practice themselves. That is why it has been said that this age should not be called the Christian age, but the age of cynicism. Practice 1. Think and reflect about this: How does an adolescent mind work? What makes him rebellious? How and when is this rebelliousness manifested? 2. Make a list of the typical problems of an adolescent. Make another list of problems experienced by adults. Compare them and deduce a positive change in the way you treat young people. 3. Think about these areas in an adolescent’s life: • • • • • • Entertainment Studies Sports Sexual curiosity and activity Groups or gangs Relationships with adults

4. Remember two or three times you had to reprimand and discipline your adolescent child. Think of better strategies.

56

Responsible Parenting and Sexual Education Objectives: 1. You will meditate about sex and will acquire a broader concept of it. You will understand why sexuality plays an important role in almost all aspects of life. 2. You will reflect about the responsibility of parents in this regard. 3. You will consider the importance of marital harmony for the adequate development of each family member. 4. You will understand the importance of parents as role models in order to provide a solid and healthy sexual education. Meditation One of the happiest and most transcendental experiences of a human being is to reproduce himself. This experience requires knowledge, love and education, in order to be responsible and be prepared for taking care of a baby. Nowadays there are many methods available for a couple to plan their family. However, we must not forget that the freedom of choosing brings a greater responsibility. Awareness and respect for life go against choosing practices that are contrary to human dignity or that may be harmful in some way for the mother and/or the baby. Nature has bestowed us with the seeds of attributes like intelligence, sensibility, ability to love, etc. Babies inherit these potentials, and they are best developed in a well-integrated family. Marriage is important; it is the center of affection, respect and collaboration; it implies commitment, responsibility and care. When harmony is evident in the home and the children detect a spontaneous affection between their parents, they learn a correct concept of sexuality in a loving relationship between a man and a woman, and will grow up with that perception. Once this example has been set, it will be easier for parents to explain to their children how marital love consists in continuous give and take, and how sexual integrity is based in genuine respect. They will understand that marriage is a positive and beautiful relationship. A parent who is well prepared for parenthood is the best guide for a child who is discovering his or her own body and developing a normal curiosity for the mysteries of existence. On the one hand, parents who are too modest or prudish create a “sex-is-shameful notion.” Those who use inappropriate or vulgar sex-related terms foster in their children a wrong attitude towards sex. In general, sexual capacity develops before emotional maturity is reached, so it is considered harmful to have sexual relations at an early 57

age. There are three contraindications for premature sex: a possible unwanted pregnancy, the inability of the young couple to support a family, and the fact that sex pushes a person into an adult state of which he or she is not mentally, emotionally or physically prepared. It is much more reasonable and beneficial at this age to channel the youths’ interests and motivations to study, sports, arts, hobbies, etc. It is better to avoid sexual relations until marriage, so that we can reach our goals more easily. Abstaining from sex will make a youth stronger of character. It is important that parents learn how to help, guide and understand their children so that they can channel their energies and interests in a positive way. There are some authors who encourage sexual satisfaction in any way and don’t try to create a strong will capable of guiding people to higher heights. These authors, instead of uplifting young people, they limit and enervate them. Let us remember those who have grown by directing their energies through the right channels: Gandhi was able to attain such self-control that he guided 500 million followers to independence through nonviolence. The Chinese philosopher Confucius said: “He who dominates others is mighty, but he who dominates himself is almighty.” Maybe we should think about this in regards to sexual self-gratification, namely, masturbation. Self-control develops will power and creates character. Young people with a strong character will avoid masturbation as a way to obtain sexual relief. Youths should learn to guide their energies towards creative activities, not to degrading ones. Instill healthy attitudes in your children. Encourage in them a profound respect towards human dignity and the meaning of life, because when a man respects himself and others, he will find it easy to control his existence and tackle away life’s problems. We must remember that our whole being is involved in every conscious action, not just part of it. We cannot fool ourselves by thinking that what we do with our bodies does not influence our minds, because each function is part of the whole, which requires a perfect order. Sexuality is a natural gift that allows us to participate in the fascinating process of creation; don’t degrade it. Don’t let anybody consider sexuality as a diversion or as a means to make a profit. Practice 1. Give examples of the different roles a parent must play, like friend, guide, protector, supporter, teacher, model, etc. 2. Think of the happiest and the saddest moments you experienced as a direct result of your parents’ attitudes. How did they affect your personality? 3. Reflect about your own attitudes towards your children and think of ways to improve them. 58

4. Think about your marriage and in the image that you, as a parent, give to your children. 5. Talk about the main problems parents face regarding sexual education. Analyse some possible solutions. 6. Explain how sex can sublimate or degrade human beings. 7. Think about the problems of your spouse and/or your children. • • • • • • • • What does my family need most? What would happen to my family if I acted differently? Am I doing everything I can to maintain an affectionate relationship with my spouse? What does my spouse expect from me? Have you considered the “golden rule” that says: “Do to others as you would like others to do to you?” Am I acting selfishly? Do I have revengeful attitudes that only lead my marriage to destruction? Do I have self-defeating attitudes like: “What’s the use”? , “Everything is lost,” “There’s no way out,” etc. or do you try to find a viable solution to your problems? Do you agree that if you are strong enough not to masturbate you will increase your will power and your self-assurance and will improve your personality?

8. Homosexuality and lesbianism cannot produce life. Don’t you think that this fact alone demonstrates the inappropriateness of these relationships and the great purpose of heterosexuality?

59

Alcoholism: Causes and Consequences Objectives: 1. You will come to realize that alcoholism is a serious social problem that concerns us all. 2. You will learn about the causes of this disease. 3. You will conclude that alcoholism is a serious disease and that it should be treated as such. Meditation During an alcohol awareness campaign in New York, a man refused to help saying: “I’m not interested in fighting alcoholism. None of the members of my family drink alcohol, so why should I be concerned about alcoholism? Why should I help in this campaign?” Several days later his wife and daughter were run over by a drunken driver. There’s no doubt that alcoholism is a social problem that affects us all. The difference between an alcoholic and the casual drinker is that an alcoholic: • Starts drinking and can’t stop; • Feels remorse after drinking; • Looses interest and enthusiasm in things; • Drinks alone; • Drinks until he is completely drunk; • Spends too much money on drinks; • Does not perform well at work; • Have financial and emotional problems. Consequences a) Psychological dependency: Alcoholic drinks prompted by problems, prefer to be alone and avoid others. Alcoholism is like a form of escape. At the beginning, the alcoholic person has certain control over his life and will, but it gradually decreases. b) Physiological damages: The parts of the body most frequently damaged by alcohol are the nervous system and the liver. Some of the diseases caused by alcoholism are hepatitis, gastritis, cirrhosis, anemia, general weakness, apathy, partial loss of memory and nervousness.

60

c) Physical addiction: It reduces self-control and creates an urgent need to drink. Abstinence causes a horrible suffering. In serious cases an alcoholic will do anything to get a drink. d) Mental illness: Many alcoholics suffer from irrational jealousy and paranoia towards their spouse and sometimes they become violent while trying to confirm their suspicions. Many of them fall into depression and some show absurd prejudices. There may also be sexual problems, such as impotence or frigidity. When the disease is in the advanced stages the individual experiences hallucinations and a condition called delirium tremens. e) Floating anguish: Alcoholics need to drink, but deny dependency on alcohol. They are like adolescents in crisis who need protection, but wish to have liberty without restrictions. In order to protect their debilitated, broken, and devalued ego, alcoholics need to create a bigger concept of them. To accomplish this, they frequently escape to a world of fantasies, but later, when they have to face reality and the people around them, they sink in an inferiority complex. Unfortunately, the comeback to the real world becomes more and more painful. Alcoholics have a weak character and a low self -esteem, so they try to become strong by drinking. Alcoholics think that drinking is like a magical solution to their problems, but the sad reality is that not only does alcohol not solve any problems, but also it makes them worse. Almost all alcoholics suffer from guilt trips and then they drink to forget that guilt. They feel bad because they drink excessively, and they drink excessively because they feel bad. This becomes a vicious cycle. Causes Alcoholism is almost always linked to underlying conditions. It has been found that 70 percent of alcoholic patients suffer from a sever inferiority complex. This conflict makes them incapable of making some decisions. More than 70 percent of alcoholics were victims of oppression in their early childhood and suffered some kind of rejection from their parents. Approximately 90 percent of alcoholics like the company of other alcoholics and form groups. These “friends” constitute their greatest temptation. These people are weak of body and character, and they give up instead of trying solving their problems. There are some kinds of home atmosphere that may produce an alcoholic: homes where there is a strong authority without consideration or understanding, parents who demand perfection from their children, bickering parents, families that show certain favoritism for one or several children, and families that have a very strict moral code. There is tragedy in every alcoholic’s life: a frustrated wife, a serious illness, problems at work, unemployment, children who have fled, etc. 61

The worst thing of this disease, unfortunately, is that it shortens a person’s life expectancy. Frequently, this disease reaches its peak between the ages of thirty-five and fifty. Practice 1. Analyse this question: What is an alcoholic? Try to differentiate between an alcoholic and someone who enjoys a drink or a glass of wine. 2. Make a list of the physical, psychological and social problems that beset an alcoholic. 3. Consider why some people can drink alcohol during thirty or forty years without becoming addicted and why some others develop an addiction in less time or by drinking less. 4. E.M. Jellinek, a prominent sociologist, formulated the following alcoholism diagnosis test. Apply it to yourself or a member of your family: • • • • Have you ever thought that you should quit drinking? Do you lose your temper when others criticize your drinking? Have you ever felt guilty after drinking? Do you sometimes drink in order to escape from unpleasant situations?

If you answered affirmatively to any three of these four questions, you are likely to be an alcoholic. The most significant question is the last one, though.

Alcoholism: Prevention and Remedies Objectives: 1. You will develop a desire to contribute to the solution of the serious problem of alcoholism. 2. You will learn about the possibilities of a real recuperation process and which are the best conditions for rehabilitation. Meditation In order to protect ourselves from alcoholism it is important that we know what it really is. From a medical point of view, alcoholism is a

62

disease, not a vice. From the perspective of an alcoholic, it is the magical solution to all problems. The attitude of condemning, rebuking or denigrating an alcoholic is not adequate, since the person is already devalued. If we want a person to improve and develop good habits, we must help him or her get rid of the guilt feelings so that he or she can recover self-acceptance. Again: reproaching, pointing out mistakes or shortcomings and condemning are the worst approach to try to help an alcoholic. This is true, although some may consider it a contradiction. We must understand that man is not as free as it was thought some time ago. In many ways, his behavior patterns are conditioned by his past, and this dependency is worse when he suffers some kind of mental instability. An alcoholic needs two kinds of help: physical and psychological. In general, in order to achieve rehabilitation, a team of professionals is needed. A doctor, a psychologist, a social worker, a close friend, the spouse or mate and a religious leader, may form this team. Regarding physical rehabilitation, some hospitals have specialized procedures, like surgery to remove an injured organ or an intensive treatment regime to meet the person’s nutrition requirements. Psychological therapy and spiritual guidance help reduce guilt feelings and increase self-assurance. The psychological principle of interdependence-between the change of personality and the sobriety state-occurs because the patient reaches a point where he can willingly refuse a drink, but complete rehabilitation occurs when he stops drinking completely in order to be happy. To help alcoholics achieve complete recovery you need to: • Make them understand that their disease is similar to diabetes, i.e. it is incurable but can be controlled. This will help them feel better and make them want to seek treatment. • Offer them true friendship and support. Don’t sermonize, rebuke or judge them. • Make them see the problem clearly. Any open-minded, well-balanced, and sensible person can influence positively in an alcoholic, even if this person doesn’t know anything about alcoholism and rehabilitation therapies. A powerful influence we must consider is religion. There isn’t anything better than spirituality to consolidate in a human being the feelings of self-acceptance and self-forgiveness. But a dogmatic, condemnatory, rigid, fatalist and ritualistic religion can have a negative effect. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) In 1935, an alcoholic named Bill W., from Vermont, recovered from alcoholism in a New York hospital. Bill thought that staying sober would be easier if he associated with other recovered alcoholics, so he asked a Protestant minister to put him in touch with another alcoholic who would be interested in this idea. 63

The pastor gave him the names of a few people, and one of them accepted his idea. Together they formed an association open to those who wanted to recover from alcoholism. Today, almost sixty years later, the Alcoholics Anonymous movement has spread to almost all the world and has brought peace and tranquility to many homes. Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who meet together to share experiences. They believe that it is possible to solve their problems and help others. The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking. AA considers that alcoholism is a disease and that some people have such a constitution that makes it very hard for them to recover. However, the philosophy at AA is that each person is responsible for his or her own life, and that nobody can force another person to stop drinking. AA wants to disprove the idea that recovery implies a superhuman effort to keep a tranquil and happy atmosphere. The basis of the new approach is an acceptance manifested in various forms: • I accept myself as I am. • The group accepts me. • I accept help from the group. AA recognizes the value of spirituality, but it is not a religious, authoritarian or ritualistic organization. No one is pressured to do anything, and the person is allowed to decide to accept help and guidance at his or her own pace. AA is a reeducation program; it is centered in reinforcing the self-esteem of each individual. The program avoids any system that may foster inferiority or guilt feelings. AA uses the method of having people share their weaknesses with one another in a friendly atmosphere. This method has a therapeutic effect and helps rehabilitation. It also provides a series of satisfactions that compensate the void left by alcohol. In summary, AA is an excellent option for those who are really seeking a solution to the problem of alcoholism. Al-Anon and Alateen* World-wide fellows of people whose lives have been affected by others’ are addict to alcohol. Membership in Al-Anon is open to families, friends, and employers of alcoholics; Alateen is a program designed for young people under the age of twenty-one. The basic principle of both groups is that alcoholism is a family disease; those closely involved with alcoholics may suffer psychologically and spiritually and often physically. Both programs offer comfort, hope, and understanding to those who have lived in confusion and despair.
*

Verbatim from "AI-Anon and Alateen," Microsoft @ Encarta. Copyright @ 1993 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright @ 1993 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation.

64

Al-Anon was started in New York City in 1952 by Lois W., wife of one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and the Anne B. Alateen groups were first organized in California in 1957. Although independent of AA, both programs use the AA 12 steps to recovery and conduct their meetings in a similar fashion. Support comes entirely through voluntary contributions from members. By the late 1980s, about 25,000 Al-Anon and Alateen groups functioned in more than seventy countries. Al-Anon Family group Headquarters, Inc., maintains its World Service Office in New York City. Practice Read and comment on the following principles regarding drinking: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Don’t drink early in the morning. Don’t drink with an empty stomach. Don’t drink alone. Don’t drink hastily, drink slowly, enjoying your drink. Don’t drink as a sleeping aid. Don’t mix alcohol with drugs, especially tranquillizers. Don’t drink to relieve stress, anxiety or depression. If you drink, don’t drive; if you drive, don’t drink. Do not drink to ease loneliness, especially following the death of a loved one.

65

Drug Addiction Objectives: 1. You will become aware of the potential danger that drugs pose to your family and you will warn the youngest members not to be deceived by drug dealers, lest they be introduced to the world of drugs. 2. You will acquire a determination to fight against drugs. Meditation Drug addiction is a devastating calamity that affects all humanity. It has developed in the entire world at an alarming level. When a person feels empty, he or she tries to overcome that depression in any way possible in order to feel better. If that person lacks ideals or moral values firmly implanted in his or her character or have a weak will power, he or she will seek pleasant sensations to relieve that depression. It is in this state that some people fall into the trap of drugs. Drugs offer an experience of pleasure, but this pleasurable feeling is only temporary, and can result in very serious damages for both mind and body. There are various types of illicit drugs. The most commonly used by people of scare resources is marijuana (also called pot, grass or Mary Jane). There are other more dangerous drugs, like heroin, morphine, amphetamines, cocaine, etc. These drugs cause addiction and damage the brain, and in some cases the damage is permanent and irreversible. A well-known example of how drugs can destroy people is that of a man who had talent, a natural physical appeal, a loving family and all the money he could spend in several lifetimes; but lacked a strong will and control of his personal life. He started taking drugs. In spite of his excellent health, his youth and his money, this man suffered many years of a painful disease and died at an early age. His name was Elvis Presley, the king of Rock and Roll. This is a terrible example that should remind us of the terrible consequences of drug abuse. The Australian government decided in January 1996 to establish a program to help solve the problem of drug addiction. They urged all drug addicts to register as such in a government agency, without any sanction, and when they needed a dose, they were to go to a special place where they would receive it free, together with an appropriate therapy. With this kind of attitude we could automatically eliminate all the violence and put drug dealers out of business. It would be good for other countries to analyze the Australian program, specially the United States, where two hundred billion dollars worth of drugs are consumed each year.

66

Practice 1. Ask your children what they know about drugs. 2. 2. If you come to know a drug dealer, denounce him or her. 3. See to it that your family acquires good habits and seek healthy forms of entertainment, like reading, practicing sports, etc. 4. If you know somebody who is taking drugs: a. Try to create a solid and trustful friendship. b. Seek the advice of your family, a doctor, a psychologist, or psychiatrist. c. Do not create an atmosphere of tragedy. Be aware that drug consumption is not always a serious problem if detected on time. d. Try to find out who is supplying the drugs. Alert your family and your acquaintances about this person. e. Interpret the consumption of drugs as a symptom or sign of alarm that indicates that there is an underlying problem. Try to find out the cause. Drug consumption may be triggered by frustrations originated in the family, friendships or school, or may be taken in order to excel in sports, etc. f. In any case, you must be genuinely interested and avoid criticism or any other antagonistic attitude.

67

Mother Nature
Objectives: 1. You will become aware of the great riches that surround us. 2. You will understand that the treasure of life is not eternal and that it must be cared for. 3. You will find ways to care for nature and life and preserve them for future generations. 4. You will become a protector of Mother Nature. Meditation The world’s No. 1 best seller, the Holy Bible, says in Genesis, chapter 2, verse 7: “And then the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Also, a well-known international character, Pope John Paul II, kisses the ground upon descending from his place as his first act. We can say that in a certain way the Earth is our Mother, since we come from the ground and we return there. However, we don’t stop to think about this and we don’t respect our planet. To illustrate this, let’s take a look at the state our planet is in. The following information was taken from the November 7, 1994 issue of Time magazine: In 1992, the so-called “Earth Summit” was celebrated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Many high-ranking officials from all over the world gathered to discuss the dangers that threaten our planet. It was concluded that immediate action had to be taken because our planet was “very sick.” However, little has been done up to now, as we can see from the following data: 1. Besides the animal and vegetal species already extinct, 8 percent of the remaining species could disappear in the next twenty-five years. 2. Four million children die each year for drinking contaminated water and because of the poor conditions in which they live. 3. Two fifths of all the earth consists of arid or semiarid land due to the irrational deforestation made in order to industrialize those areas without planning and adequate reforestation. 4. The United States produces 21 percent of all carbon dioxide in the world, while China, with a 500 percent larger population, generates only 11 percent. 5. Approximately seventeen million hectares of forest, i.e. an area equivalent to Japan, are destroyed each year. 6. Newsweek, in its April 25, 1994 issue, features an article titled: “Many fishers, few fish,” and it mentions that in 1982 there were fifteen million fishers and enough fishing equipment to capture twenty-three million tons of fish and other marine fauna, which is double what the seas can give according to a study carried out by the United Nations. 68

In 1990, 98 million tons of fish were captured. The result of this over fishing is that some species are commercially extinct. In many places fishing ships go out to sea and come back with a fraction of their capacity, and many are stranded. The article also mentions that 500 fishing towns in Russia are seriously threatened because of the depletion of their main source of income. In the Philippines, 38,000 fishers abandon their trade each year for the same reason. Polluting the sea with all sorts of wastes and contaminants, especially petroleum, has also brought about this situation. Time magazine, in its December 13, 1993 issue features a study of those small bombs called mines, which are used to keep an enemy off a specific zone during war or in order to guard some borders. When a person steps on a mine, which is hidden underground, it explodes and kills or severely injures that person. Currently there are millions of these devices: In Latin American: 300,000-1 million In Europe: 3- 7 million In Africa: 18-30 million In the Middle East: 17-24 million In Southern Asia: 13-25 million In East Asia: 15-23 million The same study lists the production (in millions) of these bombs by country: United States Italy Russia Sweden Vietnam Germany Australia Former Yugoslavia France China England 37 36 31 21 18 18 16 15 14 12 9

These millions of mines that man has sown have killed many innocent people. Another alarming issue is that of atomic bombs. A television program presented by the cable station HBO, and produced by Time magazine and CNN, said that it can be demonstrated that the United States has 70,000 atomic bombs. It is clear that in order to destroy this planet we 69

would only need a few of these bombs. Then, why does this country have such an atomic arsenal capable of destroying 500 planets like ours? American coins and bills have the inscription “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and it is allegedly the nation with the biggest number of Christians worldwide. Where are the ethical values of this “Christian” nation? Besides, many other countries have this kind of bomb, among them Pakistan, where Islam is practiced, and India, where Hinduism is prevalent. Both of these religions preach love and respect. How are we to understand this? It’s been said that man is the king of creation, but the truth is that, judging by his behavior, he is the moth of creation. Practice 1. Be aware of the urgency we all have to respect and protect our source of life. 2. Recycle and save energy. 3. Meditate on the tremendous importance of water to sustain life. What do you do to save it? Do you use it rationally or do you waste it? 4. In summary, love our Mother Earth and encourage others to do the same. If you do, you will leave a better world to your descendants.

70

Conclusions
Taking into consideration the information, the experiences and conclusions you have drawn from this book, design a Self-Improvement Program. Establish the design, the objectives and strategies to be followed. Success is a delicious fruit that stems from three roots: 1. The natural Qualities of the individual. 2. Habitual and persistent Effort. 3. A constant search for Opportunities.

There’s no doubt that the most important and decisive ingredient is effort; a constant drive that impulses us to want to succeed. Through these pages, or more correctly through your own questions, your meditation and your personal life, you have determined your own objectives and filled yourself with positive energy. All you have to do is follow these guidelines to taste success. Up to now, humanity has created many societies; all of them with ethical, civic and spiritual values based on commandment and laws, which are violated with one pretext or another. If we are fully aware of the great effort nature has done during more than fifteen billion years so that we can exist, we will understand the great value, dignity and responsibility each and every one of us have, and especially if we accept that the factory in which we were made is the universe itself. If we accept that this was only possible thanks to the infinite love of the Creator for each one of us, then we will act out of conviction, not by dictated mandates, and we will be responsible and will take care not only of our brothers and sisters, our fellow human beings, but also of the Mother Earth, the forests, the water, the air, etc. Acting out of conviction, not by mandates, we will never have a pretext to act in detriment of others, and that will be the best inheritance for our children. It is important here to meditate about the greatest success a human being can have. For some it may be to finish college or university with honors. For others it may be to have a happy marriage where there’s personal growth for both partners, having a loving relationship with a profound interest in the welfare of each other. Others may have the goal

71

of becoming prominent politicians or businessmen. Perhaps other aspires to success in sports. But what is the greatest success for any person, besides those stated above? There’s no doubt that the greatest success for anyone is to finish our own creation, so that at the very last five seconds of our existence we are full of love for our Creator and for all that surrounds us, for we are actually spirits in a suit, which is our body, and we will abandon it when we least realize it. This suit has been given us so that we can become aware of the enormous effort our Creator has had to do to create us and everything around us; a process that has taken more than fifteen billion years. In order to be part of our Creator we basically need to pray with humility and ask him to help us achieve our destiny by showing love to him and to everything that surrounds us: our fellow human beings, the plants, the animals, the water, the air, the universe. Only this way can we grow spiritually. When we finally achieve this goal, we will be truly free: free from prejudice, free from superstitions, free from vices, free from corruption and violence. We will be courteous, kind and respectful not only with people, but with all living things, so that when we die we can be full of love and light, which will give us peace. Only then we will be able to say our life was a success. After our last breath, we will pass to eternal love, eternal light and eternal peace, and we will reach the plenitude of being.

Crusade’s Evolution for Awakening the Conscience.
Ground for making Global world more Human The only way to fight violence and terrorism On 1975, when the author was counsel of the Mexican Chamber of Construction, started a movement in order to help the workers of this industry to have a better life. In order to do that, he hired psychologists to make an inquiry to find their way of living. With their results, he got more than 1,200 interviews, and made a manual for the selfimprovement for these young workers. The aim of this manual was to help them to understand the big value of their life and to take advance the most of it. With this ideas, it was born in 1977 the first training institute for construction workers in Latin America, named “Instituto de Capacitación de la Industria de la Construcción” (ICIC), which one has trained more than 1,000,000 young peasants. Afterwards with the same ideas he made a book with the name “Gran Pirámide de Superación” (Great Improving Pyramid) which one was presented by Radio Red in 1996. With this book improved, he made the book with the name “Tomar Conciencia” which one was edited in New 72

York with the name “AWARENESS”. Also the author made a special edition for the Rotary International organization in Mexico. Rotary International in 2000-2001 took my slogan: “Create Awareness, Take Action” in 162 countries. This work is supported in written by Mr. James R. Jones Ambassador of US in México and after him by the Ambassador in México Mr. Davidoff. This book was presented in the Colegio de Ingenieros Civiles de Mexico (CICM) and was edited for its XXI National Congress of Engineering, which took place on December 2001 and was inaugurated by Mexico’s President. On November 12, 2002, the First Lady of Mexico supported this movement by offering her voice to promote the Crusade on Mexico and the World. On May 21, 2003, the President of the Supreme Court of Mexico, Minister Mariano Azuela Güitrón, support and promote this movement. On February 19, 2004, gives a Conference on the Auditorium of the Direction of the Postgraduate Studies of Civil Engineering Faculty in CU, of UNAM, named: Crusade for Awakening the Conscience, a way to make Human the Globalized World. This statement was suggested at the same time by the President of the World Bank, and by Mr. Michael Camdessus Director of the IMF at the end of last millennium. On November 2004, is asked by the newspaper “La Unión de Morelos,” to start a weekly item named: “Crusade for awakening the Conscience and avoid violence and terrorism” On October 2005 gives a Conference in several universities and in the Auditorium of the Union Workers of the Supplier of Electricity in Mexico named “Luz Y Fuerza del Centro” In 2006 promotes the ideology to unit all citizens grounded in “Being genuinely Sincere, Grateful and Respectful with The One Who Gave us Life, with mother Nature and with ourselves, by Conviction, more than by laws or threats” This is accepted by Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christian, and so on. Let’s unit all of us in this “Crusade for Awakening the Conscience” to build The Civilization of Sincerity, and make a reality “The best way to Humanize Globalized World,”

The Only one true Project to diminish Violence and Terrorism, and the best way all of us become to be Citizens of Good Will.

73