Thursday, May 25, 2017

Kindness

I was listening to a sermon, when the preacher talked about a lady-friend who had received a diagnosis of cancer.
She talked about the stunned feeling, and the sense of senselessness. She talked the rage that welled up within her at the utter unfairness of it, and the bottomless despair.
In trying to find her way down this path, she at some point had a sort of WWJD moment. Remembering what the head of her order had said, and what the great spiritual leaders would do.
And it came to her like a bolt of lightning: In all situations, be kind.
She has cancer. She's going to die. Soon. What is she going to do?
She is going to strive at all times to be kind.
She is going to be kind to the people who giver her chemo, and be kind to the people who are uncomfortable around her because of her diagnosis and her mortality. She is going to be kind to the people who love her, and are hurting with her, and already beginning to mourn her even as she lingers with them.
She is going to be kind even in these depths of despair. She is going to be kind through tears and pain, and as she lays in her final moments, as this precious life is taken from her in a way that is unspeakably senseless and bewildering cruel, she is going to be kind.
I can only hope to to be like her, someday.
It's so easy to look at the outrages around us and to despair. I don't know that I think that's avoidable, anymore.
But, as Almighty God gives me strength, in all situations, may I never forget to be kind.

#myreligioniskindness

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My entire life has been a spiritual journey. I've made a lot of mistakes, and taken a lot of dead ends paths along the way. I've been an idiot and looked foolish. But, I've learned.

(As the song says, ♪ ♪ ♪ "I promise you I will learn from my mistakes."♪ ♪ ♪ )

Here's what I think I've learned:
1 - Dogma doesn't matter. Speculation about heaven and hell and nirvana and reincarnation and immortality are born of our animal nature, which wants to categorize, organize, and predict.
2 - Guilt is not useful. Again, it's born of our animal, social nature. Wanna see guilt? Look at a dog that got caught tearing up the trash. Guilt does not bring us to the divine, excepting in those rare conditions where it inspires actual change. (I've seen this almost never)
3 - Judgement, of ourselves or others, is counter-productive. It creates separation where there should be oneness. Someone worse than me? Someone better than me? Separation. I'm not what I should be? Unrealistic and destructive.

The only practical path forward involves a regular practice, patience, and tolerance (for ourselves and others).

Regular Practice:

No one would expect to walk into a gym, pick up a dumb bell, put it back down, and look like Arnold in his prime. And yet the church I grew up in told us that we would kneel at an alter, say a prayer, and walk away *CHANGE-DAH*. No. It's great for making you want-to-want-to, but not for effecting real, internal change.
A regular practice is essential. You hit the gym every day. You grow and change. You learn. Your practice becomes more elaborate and effective, and your body and mind more conditioned to accept it.
The spiritual practice is the same. It must be done every day. It must be focused. If you're a Christian, read your bible and pray. If you're a Buddhist, read Holy Sutra, recite and meditate. If you're Taoist, do your standing meditation, your sitting meditation, your taiji forms, and read each day from the Taoist cannon.
They're all working on the same pathways. They're all working on the same intellect. They're all working on the same emotions and with the same ego. They're all working for the same goals.
What is important is this: DO. YOUR. PRACTICE. TODAY!!!

Patience:

As stated, you will rarely see great change overnight. The changes come slowly, over time, with regular practice. At some point, you will find that it's not that you want-to-want-to be generous, but you are generous. It's not that you want-to-want-to be kind, but you are kind. It's not that you want-to-want-to avoid harming others, you are just all about not harming others.
To get there, though, requires patience because ...

Tolerance:



... it's not going to happen overnight, and you're going to have to put up with a lot of failures along the way.

But, over time, you begin to find that your vision is more clear, your emotions are more in check, your generosity has increased, your genuine sense of affection for your fellows is vastly improved, you're not as growly, you're more at peace with life's difficulties, challenges, and changes, and you're more tolerant of the foibles of others.

This is the spiritual path.