Friday, July 24, 2020

All Is Known in Love

The soul knows not of time
It has no measure for success
Nor does it fear
For what is there to fear
In the realm of truth
Where division disappears
And all is known in love

Monday, July 20, 2020

Just the Way They Are

What is the difference between an enlightened person and an unenlightened person? 

The unenlightened person sees a difference.

I read this joke recently in Miracles Magazine. I wanted to find the source for it, so I Googled the question. And what do you know? I found LOTS of answers seriously offering a variety of litmus tests to distinguish enlightened people from unenlightened people. Wow, I thought. The joke is the truest answer of them all. All I could do was shake my head.

A few years ago, I went to a presentation for a popular method of meditation. I already had a meditation practice, but a friend had gone and recommended it, so I was curious. The presenter was a slick salesperson, and peppered the promotional speech with possibilities of enlightenment. Just sign up, give them a lot of money, practice your mantra, and lo and behold, “enlightenment just might happen.” 

As people rushed to sign up, I asked what I thought was an obvious question to someone who had practiced this method for many years. “So are you enlightened?” 

He paused, raised an eyebrow, and replied, “Well, isn’t it obvious?” 

“Yes, I suppose it is.” I thanked him for his time and left.

At a time when the divisions between us seem wider than ever, I have struggled to find our commonality. Where is that universal spark of divinity that shines in all our souls? I confess I find it more easily in some than in others, and yes, most often in people who think like I do. The Bible tells us to “judge not,” and A Course in Miracles teaches that all judgment comes from a fear-generating, mistaken belief in separation. 

I believe that, and yet I found my patience growing thin, and words – judging words, criticizing words, words of frustration, exasperation, despair – started popping up in my thoughts. So I did what I have learned to do when I am losing my way. I sat on my meditation cushion and asked for help. And waited.

The answer came to me phrased this way:  Everyone is just the way they are

Hmm, okay. Obvious. Not helpful. Or is it? 

I kept repeating the sentence. And like a mantra that promises enlightenment (ha!), it opened me up inside. A deep welling up of compassion flooded my spirit, compassion not just for some of us, but for all of us. Everyone. Even me. 

I understood. I don’t have to agree with everyone, or like everyone. I don’t have to stop advocating for justice. I don’t have to stop having uncomfortable conversations. I don’t have to accept violence. I don’t have to be silent in the face of hate or ignorance. I don’t have to stop my own process of self reflection and accountability. 

I just need to recognize that the spark of universal energy that shines in me does indeed shine in all of us. Just the way we are. If I lose that deep connection with all beings, then all my other efforts operate only on the surface, in the realm of duality. Healing is never ever achieved by separation. 

A blogging friend once posed the question: Are we our brother’s keeper? Yes, I replied, because we are our brother. All of us. Just the way we are.

They want us to be afraid.
They want us to be afraid of leaving our homes.
They want us to barricade our doors
and hide our children.
Their aim is to make us fear life itself!
They want us to hate.
They want us to hate 'the other'.
They want us to practice aggression
and perfect antagonism.
Their aim is to divide us all!
They want us to be inhuman.
They want us to throw out our kindness.
They want us to bury our love
and burn our hope.
Their aim is to take all our light!
They think their bricked walls
will separate us.
They think their damned bombs
will defeat us.
They are so ignorant they don’t understand
that my soul and your soul are old friends.
They are so ignorant they don’t understand
that when they cut you I bleed.
They are so ignorant they don’t understand
that we will never be afraid,
we will never hate
and we will never be silent
for life is ours! 
 ~Kamand Kojouri

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

It’s More Fun

My grandson and I watched an animated movie recently in which a main character was a star celebrity athlete who couldn’t stand to lose. So much so that he returned to his small home town to humiliate and defeat the one person who ever beat him, and to buy up the town in order to destroy it. After the movie, we discussed what that overpowering urge to win, and the corresponding rage at losing, meant to that character – the benefits he got and the price he paid for them. 

That led to a conversation about games and competition in general. I commented on the way that my grandson seems to approach games. He plays to win, but he is a gracious winner when he does, and a gracious loser when he doesn’t. Moreover, he is quick to help another person who is lagging behind. For example, in a recent checkers game, he was beating me soundly, but paused to point out a move I had overlooked, one that cost him one of his pieces. He also mentioned his friend who, while they were playing a video game, congratulated my grandson on a good move even though the move was to his friend’s disadvantage.

I asked him what motivated him to take this approach to competition rather than the approach taken by the character in the movie. He didn’t hesitate:

“It’s more fun.” 

He looked at me like that was obvious and didn’t need further explanation. 

Okay, so there you have it. 

Take someone who doesn't keep score, who's not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing, who has not the slightest interest even in his own personality: he's free. ~Rumi

Friday, July 10, 2020

Live the Seeing

I cannot tell
What I now see
I have not words
It matters not
It matters only that
I live the seeing

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 72

When people do not fear power
Great power appears

These first two lines have been translated and interpreted so many ways, it’s difficult to find any footing in a particular meaning. Like many passages in the Tao Te Ching which seem to address governance, this couplet could refer to actual political government, and could also refer to the way we govern our own individual selves internally. I tend to lean towards the internal application of these passages, because harmonious external governance is rooted in harmonious internal alignment. 

With that in mind, the power referenced in these lines is not necessarily the external imposition of superior force, but could mean the power inherent in all of us when we allow the limitless natural energy of the universe to move in us, through us, and manifest outwardly. This is not the power of individual will, but rather the power of all creation when our own individual will is surrendered in alignment. 

The power of this universal energy is blocked by fear. As Marianne Williamson said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are powerless. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Thus, great power appears when fear is released. Sit with that for a moment.

The chapter continues by observing that this power is not oppressive. It does not interfere with or disrupt or burden people’s lives, but rather operates in natural harmony with the people’s homes, families, and activities.

Thus the sage is self aware without seeking recognition
Loves herself without arrogance
Moves freely without attachment

Here is a description of inner balance and freedom. When I read this I get a sense of someone who delights in life, walking humbly in service to others, appreciating the miracle of each moment. 

Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly. ~ from Micah 6:8