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Friday, July 31, 2020

Gracious Living

James Finley, in talking about meditation, wrote:

It takes time, but little by little we enter the social dimension of the mind of Christ in awakening to how perfectly we are one with everyone living and dead. As this awareness slowly seeps in, we are able to grow, day by day, into a more patient, gracious recognition and acceptance of and gratitude for others. Little by little the graciousness of Christ's empathetic mind of oneness with others is translated into a thousand little shifts in the way we think about people, our attitudes toward them, and the way we actually treat them day by day... Inspired in this way, we are moved to act, to see what Christ might be calling us to do to help those around us.
The thing about regular meditation and spiritual practices is that we are changed (or our true selves are revealed) into more of who we actually are, beyond the ego. The frantic dictates of ego fall away. One day we notice we are calmer, less judgmental and more loving. Our foot is upon the path of spiritual awakening, the path walked by our spiritual heroes. 

The path leads to living graciously. The path takes us into the Great Mystery.

Let the mind of Christ be in me.

Monday, July 27, 2020

I Will Give You Rest

This morning, during my meditation, I found myself spontaneously using a sort of mantra - Show me The Way and then simply -The Way. At some point a new energy flooded me.  I felt a kinship with those first century followers, walkers, of The Way. I felt their joy and celebration. I felt their sincerity. I felt a part of them.

Then I heard a gentle voice saying Follow Me and I will give you rest. 

Although it may have seemed difficult to actually Follow, it is not actually all that complicated. Pare away the convoluted, often  contradictory, dogmas laying over The Light of The Way that have been deposited by various men during the 2,000 years

Requirements are then few. The next step is to let go of ego's hold and relax into meditation daily. In deep meditation we find communion with More and peace. We rest in the ocean of Oneness. We are in touch with another dimension of life. We open to inspiration, to the wee small voice, to a life connected, awake, at peace. We rest in the bosom of The More.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Temper Tantrums

The realization came to me that much of the chaos we see could be identified as temper tantrums, much like a 3 year old kicking and screaming and demanding its way. My next thought, where are the adults? Who is teaching self-control, civil debate, effective strategies and adult ways to make change?

Then I turned to consider spiritual ways. I think, for Christians, we are called to follow the ways of Jesus. The first followers called their path "The Way". We are to be peace makers. We are to live love. We are to be gentle, kind, and compassionate to all, including ourselves. We are to have integrity, let our yes be yes and our no be no. We are to live from the center of our being, walking in the awareness of God with us, in us.

Oh how I wish for the darkness to fall away and the Light of God to be seen, the Light that has always been there, but hard to see with ego covering the heart and eyes.

Oh God, enfold Your children with such overwhelming Love, and awareness of that Love, that they turn to You. Unshackle them from ego and help the imprisoned splendor to be set free. May this be the day of awakening. Never the less, Thy will be done.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Ladder to Enlightenment From the Past

This morning I became acquainted with a 12th century monk, Guigo. I want to share a little that seems to me so relevant to our 21st century plight.

He says the ladder to heaven has 4 rungs: reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation. By being faithful daily to these 4 things we open ourselves to God's Graces. We receive inspirations throughout the day while doing our chores, or taking a walk or in the shower.

And the ground upon which the ladder stands is also important. The ladder will fall over if it does not stand in our responsibility to ourselves and others and our faithfully carrying out out daily chores. According to James Finley, in his discussion of Guigo in his wonderful book, "Christian Meditation,"
There was a daily emphasis on learning to be a decent citizen of the earth, one who could be relied on to tend to what needed tending to...The lesson we are invited to ponder is that meditation embodies a desire for God that brings us back full circle to a more clear-minded, Christlike compassion for others and ourselves... The whole journey, from start to finish, is inseparably bound up with how we talk to the woman next door. It is bound up with how we talk to our self about our self when we wake up in the morning and go through the day. The ladder to heaven will topple over if it is not firmly established in a sincere love and concern for ourselves and those around us.
As I look around, it seems to me quite a number of ladders lay fallen, strewn in our path. Guigo may just have the antidote to the chaos we see in this moment in time, or actually for all time. 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

National Parks vs Amusement Parks

My husband has Ken Burn's "National Parks" PBS special on the television. We've seen it before, and it is worth seeing more than once.

I was listening as I got ready for the day. This time I heard something that led to other thoughts. It said that in the 50's, with more prosperity, families took off in cars to see the wonders of America and to feel what it means to be an American.

Growing up we visited the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert, Yosemite, sequoias and redwoods and more. I got to see, feel, breath, feel and appreciate nature. I was in relationship with it, and still feel close and in Love with it. As I've often said, I have some very dear tree friends. We also went places like the Smithsonian, Mt. Vernon, and Congress. I saw history. Those who walked before me had meaning to me, and were role models of courage, valor, patriotism, and vision.

Today's youth are more likely to vacation at a manicured and manufactured theme park. They are perhaps more bonded to Mickey Mouse or some video game than to a redwood tree. Of course there are those still vacationing in nature, but the other choices are quite seductive.

It just makes me wonder about the vastly different experiences and their effect on mind and body. It seems to me that to be grounded in reality is a very different influence than being rooted in fantasy. Could that be a part of the confusion of today's youth?

Go spend time with a tree or a flower or a weed today. Hello Gods creation. How beautiful you are.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Wrestling With Life

We wrestle with life - with life as we suppose it should be and how it is for us. As Theresa of Avila said, the Lord asked two things of us, that we should Love our neighbor and love God. She boiled it all down to the Great Commandments as many of us have. But the way she wrote about it in Let Nothing Disturb You, sears into my heart.

She asserts we may not be able to know if we Love God well, but we know if we Love our neighbor well or not.

As I look at the world this day, I see some love of neighbor and some hate of neighbor. I see some convoluted excuses for not loving others and bizarre reasons justifying unloving behavior.

The simple solution that has been offered us, that can bring peace, that can calm the troubled heart, has scarcely been employed.

Love has freedom in it. We can see our differences and accept them. Everyone is not required to be in lockstep with us. We can look at one another and seek to understand how it is in that person's journey.

We can begin by refraining to do anything hurtful. In that I mean actually hurtful, not the recent wimpy idea that other ideas than mine are hurtful and triggering, whatever that means (Actually, I think it's just a control mechanism of a sort of temper tantrum).

Then we can begin to explore loving our neighbor, relative, stranger. Eric Fromm in "The Art of Loving" had a list of four characteristics that has stuck with me for many decades. Care, respect, knowledge and responsibility. Briefly: Care, if you love another, you take care of them, if you say you love your cat but don't feed it, it cannot be said you actually love your cat; Respect, if you say you love someone, you must see them as they are, if they are allergic to asparagus, you must not give them a bushel of your favorite asparagus; Knowledge is learning and listening, discovering about this person and accepting them; Responsibility is responding to them appropriately, with honesty and compassion.

It takes courage, dedication and inner work to grow up spiritually, and to be able to know we can pass the simple test question - Have you learned how to love?

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Salvador Dali

I have long admired his work, his creative and quirky work. In fact, I have a couple of his lithographs. This morning I read about his belief in reincarnation for the first time. It is quite extraordinary.

First, he was sharing about his Tarot cards. There is a butterfly on almost all cards. "It is present because to one of the greatest Spanish mystics, St Theresa of Avila, the butterfly was the symbol of the soul. The ugly, ungainly caterpillar, our body, enters a form of the grave, the cocoon. Out of this death emerges the butterfly - beautiful, free, no longer earthbound. To me, as to St. Theresa, the butterfly is the soul of man."

When asked if he was a mystic, Dali answered, "All Spaniards are both Don Quixote, who is pure spirit, and Sancho Panza, who is pure materialism. That is why "Don Quixote" is the most Spanish of all books. As for me, I am not only a mystic; I am also the reincarnation of one of the greatest Spanish mystics of all Spanish mystics, St. John of the Cross. I can remember vividly my life as St. John, of experiencing divine union, of undergoing the dark night of the soul of which he writes with so much feeling. I can remember the monastery and I can remember many of St. John's fellow monks. "

 Quite an astounding assertion.

Most of us drink of the river of forgetfulness, so to speak. There are, however, quite a few people throughout history who remember something about before we came here. There are modern researchers at universities who are collecting data, especially on young children who spontaneously remember a past life, and on those who recall one or more past lives under hypnosis.

The idea of us being able to grow and refine our souls over many lifetimes has made sense to philosophers and keepers of all things sacred back into antiquity. I don't think we can prove it beyond a shadow of doubt, but there sure is a mountain of anecdotal "evidence." We'll all find out one day. In the meantime, it is comforting to entertain.

Monday, July 13, 2020

I Feel Led

For much of my life, I have felt led. There are nudges, intuitions, internal or external ideas that seem to come from elsewhere, as do visions and words of counsel. I have come to know, that by the living of this life, the More is vast and somewhat a mystery, or maybe mostly a mystery.

As a student of history, I notice that this has been the experience of some people at all times and places. Maybe it is so of all people, but not everyone cares or is able to share in such a way that their lives can communicate with future people. Not everyone could read and write for most of history, plus for most of human history there was no written language. There were first cave artists who tried to say something meaningful about their lives and beliefs. There were mountains of written tomes that are lost, destroyed or not yet found.

But of what we have from our long ago brothers and sisters, I can declare that they too felt led from time to time by something Other, something More. Various people in various cultures spoke/wrote in different words with different images, but with an underlying agreement that there is another realm which touches our lives in varying degrees.

It seems to me, that some of the touches of the More have been crowded out by mechanistic science and the hustle and din of "modern" life and the turning away from the sacred.  And what happens when we are not open to that guidance of the More and turn away? We get a century like the 20th filled with demonic leaders such as Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Mao, etc. The demonic archetype is let loose. That very archetype is rearing up today. The violence it promotes is evident and horrifying. The adrenaline rushes it provides are addictive. The disconnects from the higher brain are evident, and even more evident is the disconnect from all that is spiritual.

Somehow we need to make spirituality fashionable again in order to commence a turn back to the spiritual understanding that inspires and lifts. Instead of giving in to public figures denigrating believers and promoting division and violence, we who still can hear the whisper of the More must stand up and stand for all that is good and holy. Those who stand for violence are attuned to the demonic archetype. No good, absolutely no good can come from the shadow of the demonic archetype. (see Carl Jung re: archetypes and their effects)

Pray and meditate with me for we the people of earth to arise together being led by the More into living Oneness, Caring, Love and Peace.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The Adventure of Aging

I was in physical therapy this morning, I have a bone spur in my hip and deteriorating spine, and I heard myself say Old age is quite an adventure. I'd not had that thought before. Sure I'd repeated things I've heard, old age is not for whimps for example, but not the adventure thing.

The idea jumped through me and got my attention. It really IS an adventure into new territory - new ways of being, new ideas, new challenges, yes to an unknown world of adaptations for physical decline, food to avoid GERD or other problems - on and on.

I have to consider things that I didn't used to even give a second of my time. I have to be careful about all sorts of things I used to simply sprint by gleefully. No more walking on uneven paths. No more red wine. No more late nights. Etc.

But then I no longer spend time in frivolous upset. I'm not concerned what others think of me. I can be totally me without concern, because how you take me is your business. I can walk away from stupidity and dramas in other people's minds. I can wear white after labor day and stay in my nightgown till I'm done reading and meditating, even if it is 11:00. I can decline being on a committee or refrain from things I really do not want to do/ be/buy/spend time on.

The Adventure of old age is restricted in some ways, yet it is freedom too. It is perhaps all the more precious because I know there is an expiration date for this particular life. At some point in the future I shall have the grand adventure of birth into the next life, into the realm of Spirit. Maybe I need to re-read "The Tibetan Book of the Dead." 😁

At any rate, I plan to enjoy this old age adventure with zest and goodwill just as I have entered all previous adventures. I plan to continue as far as I can on my lifelong spiritual quest. I will live until I die and make my grand exit here and entrance there.

Long live us old foogies.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Skin Encapsulation

It seems to me this morning that a part, maybe a big part, of human woe is staying in the ego position. From the vantage of one's ego, we live encased in skin and that tiny kingdom is the most important thing in the universe. It is as if we are each monarchs. As rulers of such a precious kingdom, we are at odds with our "subjects" - with others who are different in some way but are "supposed" to bow to us and our ideas. Therefore, we are justified to do whatever to these others. Our egos take aim and ugliness ensues.

As I watch the news, I see ego gone mad, leading people into frenzy, flailing around seemingly unaware of the spiritual. These are the skin encapsulated units of humanity who have forgotten who they really are. They run around, shout, and destroy, lost in their tiny kingdom.

So I ask myself, how can they be opened to spiritual Reality, to understand their eternal journey, to remember their purpose, to be at peace and live in Oneness? How can they be restored? How can they find their inner core?

Each is a precious child of the Universe, of God. We are called to treasure all life and this sacred adventure here on earth. With wisdom, we can solve most anything. With ego we make everything worse.

Oh Divine Presence, lead us out of the prison and tyranny of ego. Lead us to higher ground. Help us remember sacredness. Let the shackles of ego fall away. Open our deepest self. I rejoice in life with You.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Kindness Initiative

During the night a seed of an idea came to me. I'm going to ask you to help water and nourish it.

As we can all see, there is, and has always been, a lot of turmoil and pain on earth. We have the power to turn that around with a simple decision:
From this day onward I will do one or more acts of kindness every day. I will refrain from being hurtful.
This pledge to join the Kindness Initiative means we will do our best to be beneficial presences here on earth. If we do this, invite others to do this, if this catches on, we can shift into a place that nurtures and lifts. Imagine with me how it could be.

I realize that this simple pledge sounds easier than it is. It is easy to occasionally do an act of kindness, but to pledge to do so daily for the rest of our lives is a bit daunting. To refrain from doing any harm is perhaps equally daunting. Many of us have formed a numbing wall around us so that we are not always/often aware or caring of the impact of our actions on ourselves and others. We tell ourselves stories that get us, in our own minds, off the hook. But, we must emerge from the numbing wall and become aware of our own selves fully and honestly.

Those of us who choose The Kindness Initiative as a path are people of courage who open up new ways to walk this earth. Come walk with me dear one.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

My Thinking Pathway

Since I have declared for many decades that I am a seeker of truth, and I am guessing so have you, how does one go about such a daunting quest? What is Truth, and how do we find it?

I was thinking about this partially because I'd been having a theological email dialogue with a clergy friend. One of the things I wrote was, "The God I know wouldn't torture anyone for a minute, let alone for eternity." I was taking exception to Anselm's 11th century idea of substitutionary salvation that got added to official theology. The idea had been debated since Paul, but was not "settled" until Anselm, at least the way I read history. My idea of salvation is that Jesus saves me from a lot of unnecessary pain and angst by showing me how to be in relationship with God and with one another. He is a sacred bridge.

So how do I know this or anything else?

First, I have a touchstone or two of things I know with certainty. In this case, God is a loving, living Presence, always with us, never absent, even if we forget for a moment, we are not abandoned. We live in a state of Grace, even when we stumble. Since I really do know this, anything to the contrary contains falsehood, confusion, willful deceit, or maybe just comes from a shallow thinker. Part of this involves my moral sense, is the idea a lifter, a helper and does it lead to goodness without harm?

Then I look from where and from whom did the idea I'm considering come? How credible are they? What do they benefit from promoting the idea? (As in Anselm's salvation scheme, the church gets control of the seekers wanting to be saved from hell, however imaginary it all might be.) The same could be said of politics and other areas.

I double check, as does this sound like the original and do I agree with the original? Would Jesus have likely agreed with, whatever bit of theology we might consider? And am I in full or partial agreement with them. Is this (whatever) aligned with my experience, knowledge and common sense?

I look with clear eyes at myself to make as certain as possible that whatever it is that I see and am considering is not confirmation bias. I don't want to falsely shore up false or partial truths, even long held ones.

After prayer and meditation, with willingness to let go of even my most treasured ideas in order to seek and find Truth, I arrive at my working hypotheses. Because I am not infinite, I do know I can not arrive at all Truth, but can be sure I am or am not in the right track aiming at my goal or gone astray.

So I question, whatever it is, whoever it is, they have to pass my tests in order for me to take them seriously. I chose not to live in a mental prison. I chose to be free.

Holy Presence, Lord of my soul, guide us gently to Your Truth. Help us to let go of all out of sync with You. Open our eyes and ears and mind to You. Lead us out of mental prisons to freedom.