Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Courage at the Testing Point

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. ~C. S. Lewis

As the tectonic plates of culture alternately drift further apart and then crash into each other with increasing violence, I am reminded of blog posts of the past, written in times of heart pain and despair over the fear and separation manifesting in our world. 

When I went back to read these posts, my first thought was that nothing has changed. Those posts could have been written today. Specific circumstances and events might change, but underlying it all is the same need for a better way.  

The posts observe a divided world, encourage us to be healers, and assure us that there is a better way if we have the courage to follow it. 

We are, I think many would agree, at a testing point. We are called now to be this time’s “righteous among the nations.” To march together across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. To be the small but mighty child in the crowd who sees through illusion and says that the emperor has no clothes. 

We are called not to accuse but to model, not to condemn but to lead, not to fight but to free, not to know but to understand, not to inflict but to heal, not to win but to unite, not to hate but to hold.

What does that look like? It looks like listening to our own inner guide, leading us on our own path. It looks like inner alignment that manifests in everything we do or think or say. It looks like integrity, being fully integrated in body, mind, and spirit. 

It looks like courage at the testing point. 

The way we seek is not out there but within.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Please in Kind Prevail


You think you know yourself until things start happening, until you lose the insulation of normality. ~Robert Wilson

The photo above shows a label on the side of a jigsaw puzzle box. I was immediately intrigued. 

“Specification colors and contents may yary from illustration, pls in kind prevail.” [sic]

If I consider just the first part of the sentence, does that mean that the puzzle inside the box might not be the one illustrated? Could it be a different puzzle altogether? Maybe the same picture but with different colors? Or could it possibly not even be a puzzle? A total surprise? Not  at all what I thought I was buying?

This year might have well come with such a cautionary label. I laugh now at my January post about 2020 being the year of perfect vision. I suppose in some way it is that indeed, showing us with sometimes shocking clarity some things we may not wish to see. But that is not what I meant when I wrote that post. I thought I was “buying” a very different type of year, a year of insight, wisdom, enlightenment. And above all some peace, especially after the intense last two years in my personal life. 

Instead, this year has, for many of us, stripped away the insulation of normality. And we are discovering that perhaps we don’t know ourselves as well as we thought we did. The year of perfect vision has brought us face to face not only with the world around us, but with ourselves. And who is it that is staring back? 

Perhaps our reflection varies in “specifications, colors, and contents” from the illustration of ourselves that we have painted and displayed to others, and most importantly to ourselves. What do we find when we open the box and take a look inside?

Maybe this is where the second part of the label comes in. “Please in kind prevail” could mean lots of things. I’ve had a fun time exploring some of the possibilities. But I this context, I like to think that it means to have an attitude of tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness, and kindness, when things or people, including ourselves, are not what we expect or want them to be. 

This might involve venturing beyond our comfort zone, questioning our underlying assumptions, willingness to tolerate uncertainty, humility to surrender to the unknown, courage to keep our hearts open when fear wants to shut them up tight. 

Perhaps this little puzzle box label is all the wisdom we need in this year of perfect vision. If we can see and manifest kindness in the midst of chaos, then surely we will prevail. 

My religion is kindness. ~the Dalai Lama

Friday, August 7, 2020

So Blessed

 How have I been so blessed

To have this life

To be life

Released from all knowing

Falling gratefully

Into the current of the infinite

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 73

Courage to dare leads to death
Courage to not dare leads to life

Both daring and not daring are linked to courage in this couplet. So the distinction is not about having courage, but rather how that courage is directed. In a western culture that values daring and boldness, this sounds like a play-it-safe admonition. However, I think daring in this context is probably closer to the idea of interfering, or forcing one’s will on people or circumstances. In other words, daring that goes against the natural energy and wisdom of the universe. 

Such daring is always rooted at some level in fear. Because it is in opposition to our true nature, which would always be in alignment with universal power, it drains us of energy and leads ultimately to death, that is, disconnection from our innate life force. 

Courage to not dare (to not presume or interfere), on the other hand, transcends fear and allows the power of the divine to course through us and manifest into the world. We are aligned, filled with light, experiencing and expressing the life energy that is our true being. 

This courage to not dare is reflected in the last part of the chapter describing the essence of this universal energy.

Heaven’s Tao 
Does not strive yet achieves good victory
Does not speak yet expresses good response
Does not summon yet itself comes

I especially like this last line. I’m comforted by the idea that this energy is ever present, not demanding of me, but rather offering itself. 

Heaven’s net is wide and vast
Infinitely spacious, holding everything

These lines remind me of Indra’s net, connecting everything in the universe, with a jewel at each intersection of the strands, reflecting the image of all other jewels. If we are made in the image of God, as the Bible says, then this passages tells us that we are all connected, not only to God but to each other, held in an infinite embrace, each reflecting to everyone the divine spark shining within all of us. 

So beautiful.