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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Tea Time

“A young seeker, keen to become the student of a certain master, is invited to an interview at the master’s house. The student rambles on about all his spiritual experiences, his past teachers, his insights and skills, and his pet philosophies. The master listens silently and begins to pour a cup of tea. He pours and pours, and when the cup is overflowing he keeps right on pouring. Eventually the student notices what’s going on and interrupts his monologue to say, ‘Stop pouring! The cup is full.’ The teacher says, ‘Yes, and so are you. How can I possibly teach you?’”
~ A Zen story conveyed by Cynthia Bourgeault in The Wisdom Jesus

The story above arrived in my email box today by way of Inward, Outward, Together.  It speaks to me in a way that illuminates the darkened times in which we seem to be living. Some may even ask, "What dark times?" Aren't the markets at all time highs? It's reported that world-wide poverty is at an all time low. My life is better than ever. And perhaps they are correct.

However, many people feel as if the world has become un-moored and is flailing about in a sea of unprecedented deceit, cruelty, and violence, driven by insatiable appetites for wealth and power. All of this is fed by floods of unexamined information that is calculated to confuse and distort reality. Our lives, like the young seeker's life and the master's teacup, are overflowing.

Perhaps it's time for someone, anyone, you and me to place our hand over our own cup and say "Stop pouring." Then and only then can we begin to clean up the mess and begin to enjoy the cup of tea.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Journey Continues

Seven years ago this week I started writing this weekly blog. I had just come off of a three month sabbatical much of which was spent participating in and exploring several spiritual communities where people intentionally seek the Presence of God. 

I experienced silent solitude in the natural mystery of Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, where I also encountered a regional gathering of Quaker Friends who introduced me to the wonder of communal silence. A week with Zen Buddhist monks at Tasajara in the mountain wilderness of California, showed me how intention, ritual, and contemplation, both individual and communal, transcend time and space to reveal an eternal now. The isle of Iona in Scotland offered the experience of "thin places" where heaven and earth, divine and human, touch one another. Time with my family on the ocean cliffs and deep forests of Costa Rica provided exposure to exotic plants, animals, and tropical rains revealing the breathless diversity of creation. 

These experiences led me to re-examine other experiences in my life, opening my mind and heart to truly know that IT is all connected and interconnected as One Eternal Presence in which we live. On a weekly basis I've tried to share some inspiration, imagination, and insight with you.

Seven years later, I continue the journey. Sometimes, especially the fractured times, I struggle to see and know the Presence that holds us all together. It's not easy to seek and see the Presence in greed, anger, deceit, hatred, violence, and suffering. There are times when only a past Presence offers comfort in a present Presence, and hope of a future Presence. In one word, Eternal.

Thank you to the faithful few who continue on this blogging journey with me. As we begin another year may you continue to seek, find and rest in the One Eternal Presence in our lives.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"You just can't make up this stuff!"

Following the course of current events these days is more and more like watching, and therefore participating, in a bizarre scripted production spread across various media. People and events, for the sake  of swift sensation, are too often presented and portrayed as one dimensional caricatures of a poorly written morality play.

More and more I say and hear the phrase, "You just can't make up this stuff!" when in actuality this is exactly what is happening. The players, our so called public servants and leaders, are assigned roles by various casting entities and producers using the power of access and money to cajole them into "playing their parts." As soon as a new person appears in the story they are assigned roles as well - the victim, the accuser, the cad, the villain, the wily attorney, the scrupulous judge, and so forth and so on. The masses are told who the characters are in  "playbill bios" on front pages and screens disguised as "news."

In so many ways the spectacle we see unfolding around us is but a projection of inner turmoil within countless individuals struggling with eternal human questions of identity and purpose: Who am I? Why am I here? Our challenge as individuals and responsibility to the human community, is to not defer these questions to the script writers, but rather grapple with them by living into them.

In reality the spectacle around us will continue. The "show must go on" - this is life. Some challenges, opportunities, and questions for each of us when we step on to the stage or into the screen each morning are: Will I take time to contemplate and discern my true self? Will I embrace my true self or accept false selves assigned to me? How will I participate, as spectator or actor? Will I allow others the same freedom that I seek? And above all, is it true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise - think about these things.  (Philippians 4:8)     


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Lose the "lose!"

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.  ~ Jesus

Sometimes I get the words "lose" and "loose" confused, not their meaning so much as their spelling. I'm forever wanting to ad or omit that extra "o" which of course changes the meaning of what I'm writing.  For example I may want to say "my dog is loose in the yard" but leaving out that "o" has him losing in some kind of competition. There are times when accidentally adding the "o" may even spark an imaginative twist as in "losing one's mind" or "loosing one's mind." Instead of going crazy you are freeing your mind.

Such is the case with the saying above by Jesus. What if losing our life is not so much dying as it is letting go of, i.e. loosing, our life? By loosening and letting go of our perceptions, prejudices, pride, and fear we discover new ways of experiencing life and old ways are lost. Seen this way, Jesus' teaching is not as foreboding as it is inviting.

Maybe Jesus is simply telling us to loosen up, relax, let go and open ourselves to the full possibilities and potentials of the wonderful thing we call life.  In other words, lose the "lose!"