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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Words, Words, Words

Funny things words. They can seem the same, but have different meanings to those who hear or read them. They can point to enlightenment, but are not enlightenment. They can be sweet or cruel. They can reach flights of love and joy, or they can lead to despair. They can be used to free the mind or box it in. So incredible the flexibility of words.

I was thinking of "My Fair Lady" in the shower this morning. I could hear Elisa Dolittle/Audrey Hepburn say, words, words, words. Then the historic use of words came to mind. Words have often been power and control tools. There have been lovely sonnets and sweet uses of words too of course, but maybe not as the majority of uses.

Take "God," for example - a word pointing to the limitless Divine Mystery, but more usually used to diminish and box in the Infinite to someone's supposed understanding. So "God" is used as a weapon or control device. Think of examples: my teaching of God is the one and only correct one, and anyone disagreeing needs to be shunned or punished or killed. We see that played out over and over again in history.

I think we need less words about God, less arguments about God and more experience of/with God. Whoever speaks or writes can only feebly point to the Truths. The Infinite cannot fit into the tidy box of words. God is always infinitely more.

Divine More, lead us out of the tyranny of words into the experience of You that transcends all limits. 

Saturday, January 25, 2020

5 Hours a Week!

Just a moment ago I read a survey that in a modern family parents spend only 5 hours a week in face to face communication with their children! I felt my danger signals flare.

The common reasons/excuses were watching television, children on their phones or in their rooms.

Helping, training, encouraging our children to be Persons, to find and develop their talents, to instill integrity and compassion, to experience love, to  understand the importance of work and participation, to teach critical thinking skills and on and on - these are job descriptions for the position of parent. If these jobs are not done, what happens to the child left to their own devices?

We find ourselves with a generation perhaps unlike any other. They are sometimes called snowflakes because they wilt so easily. We also read that many lack face to face communication skills because they have a life lived primarily with electronic devices. We find a numbness and despair that lead to this huge catastrophe of drug addiction. There are an alarming lists of symptoms of these children who have been marginalized by lack of parenting.

Then there is the problem with the parents who find a television program more important than their children. I wonder how they were parented??? But there is also a decline in honoring what has been sacred for much of human history. Life is sacred. Much of modernity does not act that way. Our nation has seen over 60 million abortions since it became legal in 1973. Discard human life with abandon and then ignore for the most part the children who were born. Life is sacred. We must act that way.

I think for our children to be all they can be is an important goal for us all. We humans need to do some soul searching. As my old Zen master said loudly and regularly, "WAKE UP!!!"

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Incarnation, A New Understanding

It's fun when we discover that things we think and are considering are also thought by others. I discovered Hans Frei this morning. He converted from Judaism and became an Episcopal priest and professor of theology at Yale. Karen Armstrong shared this about him:
Frei argued, the person of Jesus should establish the norm by which Christians judge the world and current events. He was certainly a historical figure, yet he did not have religious value simply because he had existed once upon a time; he became factual only when incarnated in our daily lives.
I wanted to shout "YES" when I read this. So many things danced in my mind at once. Paul's Christ within, his life now the life of Christ; Eckhart's assertion that Christ born from Mary is insignificant if not born in us; on and on ideas I've read flooded in. Then my own experiences validating and validated.

Yet religion today in many ways is not this. It is often shallow, prosperity gospel for example, or Jesus is my buddy. Or it is meanspirited, such as gleefully watching those with a different understanding tortured in the rapture. Or it is violent, terrorism sanctioned. How can we, is it possible, to shift to sincere inquiry and into a life lived spiritually?

The path of actual spiritual awakening is not easy. It requires ernest self inquiry and emptying, kenosis. It requires turning to the right brain, to the heart. It requires compassionate seeing and hearing and speaking and doing. It requires transformation which involves personal cosmic union and the birthing and nurturing of the Presence that was known and seen in Jesus who became The Christ.

It seems to me that people, at least some people, have grown weary from seeking in empty places and yearn for more. Perhaps this time is ripe for awakening the seed of God in us and stepping into the path of incarnation.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

A Thorn In The Paw

Contemplating what I consider to be one of my failures, a particular insight showed up. A little background first.

This beloved person turned to evangelical fundamentalism, complete with all of its meanness, judgementalness, holier than thou anger and ego. The self-preoccupation of being "saved" is opposite of the emptying of self to be open to Spirit taught by almost all spiritual masters of all traditions. Self-preoccupation is an activity of the ego. In this case, my beloved person fell prey first to falsehoods instilled by his grandmother and the accompanying seeds of rage. He was, I suppose, pre-conditioned to slip easily into the mean-spirited theology where he finds himself.

Actual spiritual awakening requires healing ego, emptying oneself, and walking into mystery.

So, I saw him in my morning quiet time this morning in the old story of the raging lion with a thorn in his paw. As you may recall, as soon as the thorn was removed, the lion stopped raging and was grateful for its removal. Immediately the question arose, how to remove the thorn/thorns???? I don't know the answer at the moment. What I do know is that, because God gave me the vision, the thorn is removable. There is hope.

Divine Presence, how thankful I am for the insight You showed me this morning. Whomever, whatever, however the thorn is to be removed, I rejoice. May Your profound Love prevail in the lives of all with thorns of pain. May healing sweep across the land and thorns fall in great mounds. May Your people be set free.

Friday, January 17, 2020

What Can One Person Do?

I continue studying history, fully aware that my seemingly innate idealism and optimism are up for debate, maybe death.

Do I allow myself the expense of discouragment? Do I shift to the darkness and jadedness of despair? Do I retreat to my own little sanctuary?

I think not. Maybe awakening is not possible for all in this lifetime, but it is possible for some. Maybe this one person cannot make a difference for the world, but this life can make some positive difference. This light can shine wherever it finds itself on the path of this life. A little here, a little there adds up to something more than if it didn't happen.

So I urge you not to give up. All of our little bits add up. Who you are and what you do matter.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Politics and Religion

This morning I've been reading some more of Karen Armstrong's book, "The Lost Art of Scripture, Rescuing the Ancient Texts." I am enjoying this book immensely, and it so packed with information and ideas that I know I'll have to read it multiple times.

Anyway, I then began sewing on a quilt, during which time some thoughts formed I want to share with you.

Confucius and Lao Tse and others thought a person has to handle ego issues, connect with transcendent reality, be humble, etc. before  being able to serve in government or other civil activities.

It seems to me, as an observer, none or very few of today's politicians qualify to serve the public under those criteria. I see giant egos, power struggles, greed, self -serving, and not a glimmer of enlightenment. In fact, many are even anti-spiritual.

I tend to agree with Confucius and Lao Tse about the ideal leaders. It makes me wonder many things. Is it even possible in today's world? If no change, what future do we have? Can we somehow bring world leaders to seek the spiritual and heal the ego?

Let's contemplate and see what comes to us.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Infused Clay

This morning I lounged in bed a little while. I became acutely aware of my body, so soft and flexible, yet made of clay, fully of earth. So seemingly unlike clay, infused with spirit and therefore so much more. The miracle of it struck me in a new way.

It seems to me that my soul is housed at present in this amazing body composed completely of earth with something spiritual activating it. I've been with people when their soul, their essence leaves. The body instantly changes. We are not our bodies, but we do need them while navigating earth life.

I think we need to celebrate our earthen vessels and take as good care of them as possible. Our souls have a lot to learn and do here.

Monday, January 6, 2020

In What Dimension Do You Live?

This morning an extraordinary thought has been rolling around in my mind. In this time in history, more and more people are living a two dimensional life. Like the old story of the flatlanders, we move up and down and sideways, but few move from depth to transcendence.

More and more people spend increasingly longer hours involved in the flatland of electronic devices. I have met a few who recognized this and speak of escaping. The various devices are hypnotic and therefore addictive. Then the real world is not the focus, but is an irritation. Imaginary worlds of two dimensions grab a hold of a person. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, phones, tablets, computers, and television become what's important.

When was the last time you walked barefoot in the grass, laid down and made up cloud stories, truly observed a tree and pondered its life, looked deeply into someone's eyes and fully listened to them with your heart, went days without touching an electronic device? Do you spend more than an hour a day on electronic devices?

How we spend our time shows us what we worship, what is important to us. Is getting the newest device more important to you than the time honored ways to be a human such as spiritual and charitable pursuits, reading wisdom writings, engaging in meaningful conversation, developing yourself to be fully and gloriously all you can be, being in and communing with nature, etc?

So, let's look ourselves squarely in the eye and assess where we are in life and where we now choose to be. Expand, Create, Be Free.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Paradox of It All

There is a spiritual hunger active in our souls. Historically we know this hunger can be filled in quiet, in contemplation, in communing with nature, all of which lead us to The Presence and to knowing rather than knowing about.

The problem is that our "modern" life is noisy, busy and often in cities where most of nature is paved with concrete and asphalt.

So, we might ask ourselves, how can we satisfy our spiritual hunger? How can we carve out spaces in our lives for quiet, for contemplation, for nature? How can we shift from knowing about God to actually know God?

It seems to me, it has to be intentional. We have to recognize our own particular barriers and plan a way through them. For each of us, it might be a different route. If you've been reading my musings, you probably are aware of my route. You might begin there or might wish to go a more unique way.

I do urge you to begin, if you have yet to start, and to continue. I know for certain that The More is calling.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Attachment, A Form of Addiction

Detachment has long been a spiritual practice in many religious expressions. When we are attached to something strongly, it rules us. Whether it is a point of view, a bad habit, or physical things, strong attachment reduces or even smothers our freedom. It stands in the way of spiritual awakening.

It has been suggested that it is a form of addiction. We have to have agreement on whatever our attachments are or we get upset, even violent. Think religious wars, family split over politics, attacks on those considered "other," and almost any conflict you can think of.

A long ago friend, Ken Keyes, wrote an insightful book on this topic. I am eternally grateful to him and his ideas. Basically, he suggested we shift our addictive thinking to preferences.

In this shift, my peace of mind is no longer controlled by other people shaping up to my expectations, to my point of view, to be in total agreement with me. I learn to think generously.

So, I may prefer you like what I like or make the same choices I make, but I do not require you to be another version of me. I do not give you my peace of mind by trying to control you. I give up my addiction to having others be a certain way. I can then observe others nonjudgmentally. I can empathetically come to understand you.

And if what you do is truly abhorrent to me, I can just walk away. I can still care about you. There are billions of people in this planet. I don't have to be in immediate relationship with them all.

It is exhausting to try to control others. It is essential we control, focus, balance our own life. We are each a work in progress. We are responsible for shaping up our own selves.

Let's start this new decade with a generous heart.