Everyone Has Ancestors

November 19th, 2013

Mayan ceremonial fireAs we approach the holiday season I am moved to share some of what Lisa and I learned during our ancestor studies with Mayan spiritual guide, Don Rigoberto, in Guatemala last month.

The Mayan vision of the cosmos is based on relationships – relationships between people, between people and ancestors (or lineages), and between people and the universe. The first focus is on relationships with ancestors, for everyone has ancestors – this is universal. We all have roots.

There is an infinite line of generations and we don’t know how far back (or how far forward) it goes. Our parents have (or had) beliefs and customs and maybe we don’t like them. But in this chain of generations what is passed on is not the passer’s fault. Or perhaps we are gifted with creativity; we don’t know how far back that attribute entered our lineage, either.

When we don’t respect our ancestors we isolate ourselves from the line of ancestors and are without harmony. This is the origin of evil – when we don’t respect the values, beliefs, and principles of our ancestors.

When we cut ourselves off from our ancestors, we cut ourselves off from a part of our self. If we sever communications with ancestors, we are isolated and stuck, we are like a tree without roots. When we remain connected with our ancestors we retain our roots (values, beliefs, principles). It is also our responsibility to pass along what our ancestors gave us.

There is a chain of reincarnation. Some of each ancestor’s essence reincarnates three to four generations down the line.  If we don’t have kids we pass along our lineage through our siblings’ children or through other children we have a connection with. It’s a tying together of energies – the fruit of our exchange. Our togetherness is not a coincidence.

We contact the ancestors through sensitive, delicate ceremony. We can also make connections with ancestors through meditation and dreams. Holding onto our ancestors’ values is way to retain connection with them. The first step is to recognize and accept that we have ancestors, then we venerate them. We thank them and say prayers for them.

Facing the west at midnight is the best time to contact ancestors. We sit in a meditation pose with eyes closed and think about them. We take a journey back in time and pray they reveal themselves to us in our dreams. This is an active search for  our ancestors – and they are looking for us, too, their descendants, for when a person dies energy remains.

In addition to Don Rigoberto’s wonderful teachings, Lisa and I were blessed with an ancestor fire ceremony that he led us through, and the photo above is of that fire at an ancient altar in Momostenango.

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All Is Right

August 14th, 2013

Blessed sunrise on sacred mountain warms the soul with gladness

Light the candle and lay out stones at lakeside in honor of communion

This place an altar of earth and sun and spirit

Brings the heart into its temple

And all is right


(photo by James K. Papp at Garnet Lake in the California High Sierras)

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Books to Prisoners encourages knowledge and self-improvement.

March 7th, 2013

Books To Prisoners (BTP) is a Seattle-based, all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that sends books to prisoners in the United States.  BTP believes that books are tools for learning and opening minds to new ideas and possibilities. By sending books to prisoners, BTP hopes to foster a love of reading and encourage the pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement.

Founded in the early 1970s and sponsored by Left Bank Books, BTP receives 1,200 to 1,300 requests for books each month. Volunteers work two evenings a week opening letters, finding books in the BTP collection that correspond to the request, and wrapping and mailing parcels.  Because of continuing backlog of requests, prisoners sometimes wait up to six months to receive their books.

Prisoners request a variety of books.  Most prisons accept paperback books only.  The most popular requests are dictionaries, thesauruses, African American history and fiction, Native American studies, legal material, GED materials, and languages (particularly Spanish.)  Other common requests include fiction, vocational-technical manuals, politics, anthropology, art and drawing, psychology, and health and fitness.

BTP has three associate organizations – Portland Books To Prisoners, Books To Prisoners Olympia, and Bellingham Books To Prisoners. These sister groups assist in answering letters, mailing packages, and soliciting book donations.

As one of the largest prison book projects in the country, BTP works in conjunction with other agencies that support prisoner literacy and promote social justice.

Last year, Seattle BTP, along with chapters in Portland, Olympia, and Bellingham answered a combined 14,900 letters.  Bellingham BTP sent out over 10,000 books.

We are pleased to donate copies of Inquire Within – A Guide to Living in Spirit to Bellingham BTP. A young friend once asked why we donate our books to prisoners. We answered that many prisoners will one day be released from prison and it would be nice to know that they had been working to improve themselves. We know that we have helped at least one person. Jim has had regular written correspondence from a man who received a copy of Inquire Within while he was in prison. He appreciated our book’s gentle guidance and resource section listing many other spiritual and self-help books. He has since been released from prison and is doing very well with his family and in his community.

If you are in the Seattle, Portland, Olympia, or Bellingham areas, and would like to donate new or used books, particularly paperbacks, BTP would be happy to accept your donations. You can also choose to volunteer your time wrapping packages or make a cash donation to cover postage. Learn more here:  Books to Prisoners.

Letter from a prisoner to BTP:

I became aware of your organization and its vital work recently when a fellow prisoner let me use his big, beautiful dictionary.  When I complimented him on having such an obviously fine, advanced book, he told me about his own quest in which you sent him his Random House/Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary more than a year ago.  It is his most prized possession here where such a wonderful reference work is rare, indeed.  I am a reformed black man earning his GED and trying to improve himself, his life, and his prospects after prison.  If you will consider sending me a dictionary, I will use it often and well.  And with your blessings, I will tell other inmates about your company and its compassionate work.  Thank you very much.


One Response to “Books to Prisoners encourages knowledge and self-improvement.”

  1. Thank you Jim for drawing attention to a very worthwhile cause. I’ll take a look on my bookshelf now, and throw in a copy or two of my own book. If you’re ever free on a Tuesday evening, we’d love to see you at Toastmasters.

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Gratitude to our Spiritual & Mayan Teachers

December 15th, 2012




We are forever grateful to our spiritual teachers in the U.S., Mexico, and around the world. We continue to learn from their guidance and teachings.



Thank you and Blessings to:

Elder Hunbatz Men – Maya Itza Tradition – elder, shaman –

We were blessed to have a Elder Hunbatz Men honor us with a Mayan marriage ceremony at Temple of Ake, Yucatan, Mexico some years ago.


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Three Days of Love Pledge – December 20-22, 2012

December 11th, 2012

We have signed the THREE DAYS OF LOVE Pledge created by the Shift Network and

The Pledge says “I commit to share words and actions of love on December 20, 21, and 22, 2012.”

Will you join us and please share with others?

>>Update June 2013 – I plan to suggest to Birth2012 folks that they change the wording and continue on with the Love Pledge. “We/I commit to share words and action of love everyday.”, perhaps? Their page is still up and the link below works.  ~ Lisa

From – Hearts - original painting by Jim Papp

“We are delighted to be launching an exciting global initiative with Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Barbara Marx Hubbard, don Miguel Ruiz, Michael Beckwith, Shiva Rea, and many other luminaries today.

It’s an experiment in creating a global movement of the heart to begin a new era with love, generosity, and kindness.

We invite you to join this “love movement” by personally committing to sharing words and actions of love for three days, from December 20 – 22. 

Imagine what will happen if people around the world commit to this: amazing acts of friendship, random gifts, hugs from strangers – we can remember ourselves as one human family!

So if you’ve been wondering what one thing you can do to make a difference, this is a potent and fun one.

Get details and sign your name to the pledge here: Three Days of Love”

Thanks for signing and sharing!

~ Love, Jim and Lisa

~ Art: “Two Hearts Beat As One” by Jim Papp


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Happy Black Friday! by Barry A. Dennis

November 20th, 2012

Thank you to our friend Barry Dennis for this timely and thought-provoking post. Barry is the author of The Chotchky Challenge – Clear the Clutter from Your Home, Heart, and Mind…and Discover the True Treasure of Your Soul. He is also a musician, inspirational speaker, and coach. We loved attending a service at his Coexist Celebration Church in Oregon where Jim was asked to speak on Kindness. We took “The Chotchky Challenge” and have benefited greatly. Will you join us?


Happy Black Friday!

by guest blogger Barry A. Dennis

To date, I have received 3 e-mails celebrating the joys of Black Friday. Not one wishing me a happy Thanksgiving. Each one of these e-mails came from some entity doing their very best to convince me that I will be happier if I buy more stuff.

I know this may sound crazy, but I had no idea what Black Friday was until 3 years ago. I overheard someone say, “Black Friday is my favorite holiday”. I asked them “What’s Black Friday?” They looked at me like I was crazy. And, well, maybe I am. Really. This is a distinct possibility. I might be certifiably nuts.

Or maybe, just maybe, our society is a little insane. It could go either way. The jury is still out.

Despite what you may have heard, the term Black Friday began in Philadelphia in the early 1960s by the police department referring to the chaos that ensued the Friday after Thanksgiving. Later, retail employees picked up the term. And, let me assure you, in both instances it was not an endearing label. An employee who worked at a department store in the early 70s wrote the following…

“The dire warnings came from the sweet older women that took me under their wings at John Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia shortly after I was hired as temporary holiday help in October 1971. They warned me to be prepared for the hoards of obnoxious brats and their demanding parents that would alight from the banks of elevators onto the eighth floor toy department. The feeling of impending doom sticks with me to this day. The experienced old ladies that had worked there for years called it ‘Black Friday’. I’m quite sure it had nothing to do with store ledgers going from red to black.”

I titled my book The Chotchky Challenge because it is very challenging to change how we see the world, to question it. To most literally… change our mind. And yet, in order to evolve, change is required.

I submit to you the possibility that the “hoards of obnoxious brats” referred to by the employee from the department store were not inherently obnoxious or bratty. But, through the slow and steady process of entitlement that is not only accepted in our society but also encouraged, the kids became what we want them to become. Good consumers full of “wanting” which can make anyone a little obnoxious.

You see each email I received exalting the joys of black Friday were attempting what is called “the creation of wanting”. This is the goal. To actually create in me a “wanting” that can never be fulfilled. They are trying to bring about in me a feeling that something is missing.

The goal is not to create thank-fullness. To do so would help me in my journey to know my inherent “fullness”. And if I know my inherent fullness, I will never feel the need to acquire in an attempt to fill some emptiness.

We all know, in our heart of hearts, we cannot continue doing things the way we have. It’s time to evolve. To change. To question everything. And so, I have a “Chotchky Challenge” for us all. This Black Friday, fill your “soul ledgers” from red to black. Here’s all you have to do. Be deeply grateful for everything you already have! Give from your abundance. “Let go” instead of “take in”.

And, if you do go into the chaos, I challenge you to consider your “soul hero”, that being the one you feel most embodied the Divine. Maybe Buddha, or Jesus or Mother Theresa or Paramahansa Yogananda or..? And then ask yourself “is this what they had in mind?”

Isn’t it strange that the holidays (holy days) are the most materialistic time of the year?

Isn’t it strange that the holidays (holy days) are the most materialistic time of the year?

But please, do not take my word for it. Remember…

I might be just be crazy!

~ Barry A. Dennis

Author of The Chotchky Challenge – Clear the Clutter from Your Home, Heart, and Mind…and Discover the True Treasure of Your Soul.

Chotchky_Challenge Barry Dennis

The Chotchky Challenge book by Barry Dennis

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The Productive Power of Gratitude. What are you grateful for?

November 4th, 2012

Giving thanks for all we have in our lives…and the related feeling of gratitude…is one of the most powerful tools we have to use as human beings.  Maintaining a grateful disposition improves virtually everything in our lives, including our health and well-being, and our relationships with others. Being grateful opens our hearts and displaces emotions, such as greed and envy, that do not serve us.

Being grateful for your partner, for your health, for anything important to you…even another day to live on this Earth…will make you happier, more at ease, and more peaceful with those around you.  We can find so much to be thankful for when we look at our lives honestly, gently, and without judging.

A simple, powerful way to practice gratitude is to regularly write down what we are grateful for, big or small.  This exercise helps us realize the fullness of the gifts and blessings we receive and gives our lives more meaning and depth.  It helps us realize the “why” we need in order to wisely choose what we do and how we do it.  A variation on this is to regularly verbalize in affirmation or prayer what we are grateful for.  Cultivating gratefulness also helps us through periods of instability and chaos to a more serene and peaceful inner landscape.

The fundamental challenge to living in gratitude is the lack of awareness of our interconnectedness.  So even if we know about gratitude, we don’t feel the value in practicing it.  This lack of awareness is a result of many things: scarcity caused by competition instead of collaboration, an “us versus them” survival of the fittest mindset, and the idea that humankind holds dominion over nature rather than being part of nature itself.  Our modern culture is operating with an uneven balance by focusing on materialism over spirituality which can breed fear…fear of trusting, of growing, of dreaming, of trying.  This can make it hard to open our hearts.

Gratitude is a feeling we build over time which creates positive momentum in our lives and  opens our hearts. This is critical, not just for personal growth and finding our balance, but because each of us relies on others in order to live. Through practicing gratitude we realize our profound connection with and appreciation for one another and the world that supports us.  Then harmony follows.  And through humble, intentional gratitude we may find happiness.

What are you grateful for? We would love to hear your stories of gratitude, if you would like to share in the comments section below.

Thank you! We are grateful for you.
~ Jim and Lisa

2 Responses to “The Productive Power of Gratitude. What are you grateful for?”

  1. Cheryl says:

    I am grateful for good health! Thanks for this post.

  2. Kristan says:

    i am thankful for my children, my husband, the food i eat each day, my health, all our loved ones, our home, our vehicles, the knowledge that i receive, LOVE, i am grateful for the amazing FEELING of gratitude … the emotion of gratitude itself is almost ovewhelming and just amazing :)

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Change Begins with Just One Person. The Secret Daily Teachings by Rhonda Byrne

October 8th, 2012

Hearts - original painting by Jim Papp

We found this quote from The Secret Daily Teachings by Rhonda Byrne and we love it! We all have the power to affect change and it starts with creating peace, love, and harmony within ourselves.

“Change in a country begins with one person. Each country reflects the inner peace or turmoil of its mass population, and so as one person changes they affect the rest of the population. One person has the power within them to bring massive change to their country through immense love and peace within themselves. But we cannot bring about peace and well-being to our country unless we have conquered that in our own life. Do you see? You cannot give what you do not have.

Each person’s job is to bring utter harmony into their own life, and then they will become the greatest human gift for their country and the world.”

Do you agree?

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The Trees Who Talked – poem by Jim Papp

February 1st, 2012

The Healing Tree (El Lechero) - Otavalo, Ecuador










We speak to you now
As ones, who like you,
Are much younger than
The Mountains

Sustained by the same Water
And the same Sun
And both blessed to be
In this place of wonder,
We have been asked to tell you
To share and celebrate
This Garden with your kind

The Bear brings you power,
The Deer, protection
We, the Trees, standing silently
In witness, give you trust

The Water comes and goes
The Animals are busy
On their own paths
The Mountains, well,
They have other things to do,
Communing with the very forces
That created the face
Of this Earth

We speak to you now as ones
Whose lives come and go,
Much like yours.
You, however, are affecting
How this Garden grows
And that is why we seek
Your attention


copyleft 1998 Jim Papp, Bellingham, Washington 98226 USA <<“copyleft” means that we allow re-posting or re-printing of this poem, in its entirety, with credit to Jim Papp and a link back to this site. When you do re-post or re-print this poem, please include a link back to  Thank you!

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Why Kindness?

January 31st, 2012

Celebrate Kindness Hosts Jim and Lisa Papp with Emcee Deb Slater

There may be nothing on Earth each of us wants more from others than Kindness!

I was recently thinking about the Celebrate Kindness! free community event Lisa and I hosted in our town of Bellingham, Washington last July 23, 2011. We have discussed whether or not we would host another Kindness event in 2012. We planned the 2011 event to coincide with a talk I gave entitled “Why Kindness?” inside Village Books in Bellingham. We don’t necessarily think we’ll host regular Kindness events, but rather, we wanted to highlight the importance of being kind everyday…kind to yourself, kind to others, and kind to the earth.

Here’s a recap of that July 2011 event…

We rented the beautiful public outdoor park/community space called the Fairhaven Village Green right outside Village Books. I gave a short talk on Kindness. You can watch a video of my talk on the home page of this site.

We were happy to have a great group of people presenting at the event and helping behind the scenes:

  • Robert Bates, our fun and very talented teacher of  Qigong (“chee gung” – easy Tai Chi), led a Qigong demo showing how you can be kind to yourself by reducing stress and staying healthy with this simple, easy-to-learn and very beneficial practice. Qigong can boost your immune system, help reduce blood pressure, and may help prevent against everything from colds to cancer. Robert’s website includes many free videos and blog posts on Qigong practices and his class schedule: .  He also has two Qigong DVDs for sale which are both available at Village Books or from him…Fun With Qigong – Five Flows Set and Fun With Qigong – Delightful Dozen.

Celebrate Kindness attendees doing Qigong with Robert Bates, Qigong teacher

  • KVOS’ Marla Bronstein shared “Gimme a Minute … on Gratitude”.
  • Zoe Schackel, 2010 Bellingham Battle of the Bands winner, sang.
  • Deb Slater, host of “Community Extra” on KVOS TV, was our fabulous emcee:
  • Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike helped us welcome people and spoke about how fortunate we are to live in an area with so many kind people, companies, non-profits, and government agencies.
  • Audience members shared the mic to tell stories of acts of kindness they performed or had observed. We heard great stories about kind neighbors, kind strangers, people giving up a seat on the bus, and other nice stories.
  • Participants helped make paper chains of kindness. Thanks to for the inspiration.



Paper chain of kindness


  • Lisa had a lot of help creating and managing the event. Thank you to fabulous Bellingham/Whatcom County event planner Cantrice Hiler (contact:, John Palmer, Bob Ridgely for sound (, James Bauckman and Kyle of Revolutionary Productions filmed the event (, and Copy Source helped with flyer and sign printing (

How can you be kind to someone today? Don’t forget to also be kind to yourself and to the Earth!

We would love to hear from you. Please share your stories of kindness. (Comment section at the bottom of this post.)

We also had fun giving away gifts from our generous and kind sponsors:

  • Delicious, healthy, and kind-to-your-body Goodies (Breakfast Cookies, Brownies, Granola) from Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods in a reusable Erin Baker’s shopping bag –

  • Personal Training Session with Patti Guarino, ACSM Certified Health Fitness Specialist, at her private training studio in Fairhaven –

  • Gift certificate for a hair cut and “kind to you and the Earth” Loma hair and body products from Hair With Julie. Julie Hiler is at Tropix Salon in Fairhaven –

  • Buethorn Watercolor Studio – Bellingham artist Candance Buethorn’s beautiful watercolor prints on gift cards, a mug,  and a journal.

  • KIND Healthy Snacks  provided us with boxes and boxes of yummy and healthy KIND Bars to give out.





  • Do-it-yourself Henna Art “Tattoo” Kit from Jamie Olson –
  • Robert Bates – Fun with Qigong Five Flows Set DVDs and our Inquire Within books were given away.

How can you be kind to someone today? Don’t forget to also be kind to yourself and to the Earth.

We would love to hear from you. Please share your stories of kindness here…

3 Responses to “Why Kindness?”

  1. Shauna says:

    Fabulous reminder to be kind every day! I look for opportunities to practice kindness every day…giving up my seat on the bus, paying for coffee for someone I don’t know, holding a door open, helping a neighbor with a project.

  2. Jim Papp says:

    Thank you, Shauna, for your post. Blessings to you!

  3. Jim Papp says:

    There is a random acts of kindness foundation!
    Great ideas for acts of kindness:

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