Sunday, January 24, 2021
A few nights ago, my grandson called me. He was crying so hard I could not understand the words he was gasping through his sobs. I thought something horrible had happened. Trying to stay calm, I asked him to tell me again what happened.
“Mom...put...lettuce...on...my...taco,” he wailed.
My anxiety melted into relief, and okay, maybe a bit of chagrin at what I saw as an over the top reaction.
Bam, and there you have it. It wasn’t really about the lettuce at all. Of course his mother loves him very much, but at that moment she was the perpetrator of the taco debacle, so he sought solace from someone he thought he could count on to care. He wanted what we all want, to be heard and to feel unconditionally loved.
How thankful I was that I had not spoken the teasing remark that had been on the tip of my tongue. Instead, I offered a listening heart with an abundance of compassion poured out over his hurting soul. Satisfied, he calmed down and we said our goodbyes. I don’t know what happened with the taco, but he had been fed with what really mattered.
A Course in Miracles teaches that everything we do or think or say, everything, is either an expression of love or a call for love. Only two possibilities. So simple. How would our lives be different if we saw everything through this lens? Love – given, asked for, received. An eternal exchange of an infinite commodity. Like breathing. Inhaling and exhaling endless compassion.
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. ~Mother Teresa
Friday, January 15, 2021
This chapter contrasts two cultural approaches to wealth. In a broader sense, it speaks to nature’s intrinsic seeking of balance and harmony. And in an individual sense, it speaks to our own internal alignment and equilibrium.
The first approach is compared to stringing a bow. The top point of the bow is pulled down while the bottom point of the bow is drawn up. This allows the string to be looped over both ends of the bow, creating the balanced and uniform energy and alignment necessary to shoot the arrow.
This reminds me of the instruction often repeated in martial arts – “not too tight, not too loose.” Or, as Goldilocks observed, “just right.”
Some Native American cultures practice a tradition of ritual giving away of wealth. At certain times of the year, or at certain ceremonies or celebrations, those who have more give to those who have less. There is no fear of lack because the givers at another time will be receivers. Harmonious balance is valued and maintained.
A different approach is followed in cultures that allow and even encourage individuals to accumulate unlimited wealth while others live in poverty. Imbalance necessarily results, and legal supports are applied to maintain the unequal structure.
This approach reminds me of the billionaire Rockefeller who was asked by an interviewer how much more money he needed before he would have enough. “Just a little more,” he replied.
Without judging these two approaches as good or bad (especially in the simplistic way I’ve described them), we can still see that one is more closely aligned with nature. Certainly imbalances occur in nature, but eventually nature will self-correct and restore equilibrium.
Because the Tao Te Ching aligns its teachings with nature, and values balance and harmony, the sage is described as one who would not hoard abundance but would offer her abundance to those who do not have enough.
Because the sage does not desire more
He thus sees what is truly valuable
Perhaps the message here is not so much about advocating a particular economic system, but rather suggesting that our own internal nature, like nature in the broader sense, seeks harmony and balance. Always wanting more leads to chronic discontent, and also anxiety about holding on to what we have. When we are out of alignment with our best values, we suffer internal conflict and stress.
So the question for us is how to restore our internal balance and live in harmony and peace with who we are. This always starts, I think, with a willingness to observe ourselves honestly, to inquire within ourselves how our thoughts, words, and actions reflect internal harmony or imbalance. Internal harmony is characterized by peace and integrity, openness and expansion. Imbalance is characterized by struggle, contraction, separation, and tension.
Cultivating internal awareness without judgment, and with compassion, allows our true nature to self-correct and then manifest in all its glory. We don’t need to fix ourselves; we just need to be ourselves. We are by nature light bearers, bringing love and healing to a fractured world. We are, as Barack Obama once said, the ones we’ve been waiting for.
So take a breath...and another. And remember who you are.
One breath at a time
It is enough
~(this was dictated to me through non-dominant handwriting)
Monday, January 11, 2021
There is another way
You won't find it in a book
Or at a workshop
You won't find it by following someone else
Because no one can take you there
There is no map and no direction
It can't be taught or learned
You cannot find it anywhere
Because there is nothing to be found
Yet the moment you give up
everything you want
everything you hold onto
everything you think you know
The moment you give up searching
At that moment of total surrender
It will find you
Saturday, January 2, 2021
The world is divided into people who think they are right. ~Tara Brach
It took me a few seconds to understand that there was no more to this sentence. Each side of the divide claims the higher ground of being right, being righteous, being morally superior, being more ethical, being smarter, being better.
This morning I drew three cards from a deck loosely based on the Yi Jing (I Ching), translated as the Book of Changes, a Chinese “oracle” that goes back thousands of years. I put oracle in quotation marks because we often think of the term oracle in connection to fortune telling. This is not a book that purports to tell the future as much as, at least to me, it sometimes offers insight into the movement and direction of energy in present circumstances.
The first card I drew is called Inner Truth, and is described as the wisdom of the heart, the wisdom that penetrates illusion. This wisdom draws us down from the busyness of thought in our mind, where illusion is generated, into the quiet intuitive awareness of awakened consciousness. Inner truth is revealed in stillness, a silence that allows us to hear the whispered guidance of spirit.
The second card is titled Peace. Peace results from inner alignment and balance, an attunement to the vibration and movement of creation. This inner alignment and balance is our natural state, which we experience when we cease to struggle and allow our natural harmony to emerge.
The third card is Opposition, which describes, as you would expect, conflict. This conflict could be external, between people, communities, nations. To me, however, the most basic and significant opposition or conflict, the one we most often overlook, is the one we experience within ourselves, which is then expanded and reflected by the conflict we experience with others and with our circumstances.
What I see when I put these cards together is a way of approaching an experience of conflict or struggle. When I perceive a situation as a vying for rightness between competing sides, I have a choice. I can get drawn into the combative tension, or I can step back into a quiet place of stillness and listen for inner guidance. This inner wisdom can penetrate all illusion and align me in peace. From that state of peace, I can respond rather than react. What that looks like in any particular situation is unknowable in advance. I will speak or act (or not speak or not act, depending on the guidance) from an awakened heart of fearless compassion.
I’m glad I drew these cards this morning. It seems like a good way to start the year, with a reminder that any resolution of conflict begins with an awareness of the struggle within, and ends with compassion, extended internally and externally, in whatever form that takes. I can allow inner truth to bring peace to opposition. I can be a repairer of the breach.
You shall be like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called repairers of the breach. ~Isaiah 58:11-12