REALITY

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A friend invited me to a movie, said I needed to get out of the house and enjoy a few chuckles and smiles. Yes, I agreed. My brain was getting moldy spending too much time with the mundane chores of daily living and an afternoon at the cinema sounded like a good thing.

Of course when one pays $11 to $15 bucks for a show (forget about snacks and drinks) one doesn’t want to miss anything that he’s paid for. That includes previews and we arrived when previews had already started. That’s OK; twenty minutes after seating ourselves previews were still being previewed. Why not just call them “wastes of time” or “nappy time”?

However, not being one to complain, I sat through all the sex, bloodshed, violence, and cussing that was going to appear this coming summer and finally the feature presentation began. It was billed as a comedy and, indeed, the trailer showing on television as advertisement seemed to be quite comical. So, I had high hopes. The last movie my friend and I saw was “Cinderella” and I was rather enchanted that ‘good movies’ were still being produced by the industry.

I do not claim to be a movie critic. I do not claim to be main stream America. I do not claim to be hip…not anymore that is. I’m just an old fogey who wants to be entertained for my eleven bucks.

The opening 5 minutes included sexual innuendo, nudity, violence, a crashing car and volumes of blood. “OK”, I assured myself, maybe this will get better as we move along. I had even stuck my hearing aids in my ears for this special occasion so that I wouldn’t miss a word.

Bad move. The noise got louder, the violence got worse, and then the cussing began. Now, I’m not a prude and I can handle an “F” word once in a while. But my faith and religion force me to draw the line at profanity laced with the objects of my devotion. God and Jesus did not have any place in that movie script, and neither did I.

I waited outside the theater with a nice cup of coffee until my friend appeared when the movie had ended. He understood why I left and for that I was grateful. The movie carried an “R” rating. I should have checked beforehand.

But, the fact that this movie is being well received by the public forces me to realize that this type of behavior and language is mainstream America. It is no longer back-on-the farm civility and principle that rules our land. Young, pre puberty children converse with ‘F’ and ‘MF’ as if it were grammar school proper. Guns have become the common solution to difficulties which in a time past were addressed with conversation and compromise.

Which brings me to my point. Whose reality will prevail?  I refuse to surrender what is my reality.  I refuse to carry a weapon to the grocery store, to school or to my church. And I refuse to accept the rudeness and arrogance of contemporary America as normal.  Contrary to the rhetoric of supporters of our violent, sex-driven culture who adamantly declare that the movies, TV, and video games they enjoy are purely fantasy, I must counter with something my Grandpa taught me as a boy.

Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see,
For the Father up above, is looking down in love,
Oh be careful little eyes what you see.

Oh, be careful little mouth, what you say,
For the Father up above, is looking down in love,
Oh be careful little mouth what you say.

Oh, be careful little hands, what you do,
For the Father up above, is looking down in love,
Oh be careful little hands what you do

Oh, be careful little mind what you think,
For the Father up above, is looking down in love,
Oh be careful little mind, what you think.

In today’s world I would condense Grandpa’s advice:

“TRASH IN, TRASH OUT.”

Matthew 6:22-23  (NIV)
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

WHOSE TRUTH?

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“He marches to the beat of a different drummer.”

“Different strokes for different folks.”

We are a world of variety in life styles, persuasions and philosophies. What works for you may be anathema for me and your choice of music could drive me whacko. I love John Philip Sousa, Bach, and John Lennon and I have no idea what hip-hop is.

How often have you heard the above quotes used to describe someone who is not like we are? How do you react? Do you avoid, sneer, snicker, taunt, bully? Or do you love and embrace the differences? If we follow the entity which is the Higher Power in our lives, the path is clear to us. Bill W. exhorts tolerance in our AA literature. It is clearly stated in the sacred writings of all major religions and specifically cited as the greatest of commandments, after loving your God, repeatedly in New Testament writings of the Bible.

Matthew 5:43
Matthew 19:19
Matthew 22:39
Mark 12:31
Luke 10:27
Romans 13:9
Galatians 5:14
James 2:8

We have the instructions, the commandments, and the strength of Godly fellowships to guide us in our relationships with the rest of humanity which will lead to civility, tolerance, peace, and shalom (wholeness & completeness).

So, where have we gone wrong? Why are war, brutality, murders, suicide bombings, and genocide filling the screens we view every day? What we have is a far cry from what our world should be.

“The sky is blue.”

“No, stupid, the sky is green.”

Therein lies the problem. My truth may not be the same as your truth. I have been raised to equate the sky as blue. But, you may have been told that the color I see as blue is green to you. Or you could be color blind. Or one of us may have a need to be contrary.

Whatever the reason for disagreeing, it is evident that our truths are not the same even though we both call it truth. When we apply this to our religious philosophies, each of us certain that our truth is absolute and every other conviction is in error, we have created a breeding ground for hatred and discontent.

Jesus said, “I am the Way: the truth and the life.”

Obviously, a great number of his contemporaries disagreed.  It got him crucified.  Maybe he was the truth, maybe he and his followers of the Way had the answers.  But others, Jews and Romans, held to a differing truth and had no qualms about pressing their version.

So, how can I honor my truth and yet respect and uphold the faiths of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists who sincerely believe they have the way?  Answers were much easier and forthright in a previous church affiliation I experienced many years ago.  Everything was in black or white, all answers were concrete, and everyone outside our church was damned…..or at least unblessed.

And there is my answer.  I know from that church affiliation what the truth is not.  It is not narrow.  It is not exclusive.  It is not bitter.  It is not vindictive. It is not vengeful.  It is not proud.  It is not arrogant.

Truth is love.  Love is truth.  Jesus is both.  And that, short and simple, is the entirety of my religion.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 tells me everything I need to know about religion, about faith, about conviction, and yes, about truth.

4″ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails……”

 

AIN’T HE SPECIAL?

 

 

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There was a time when I thought I was somewhat unique.  Nobody, but nobody, in the world was like me, the good, the bad and the indifferent.  Yep, I was surely special.  Then day one of my recovery from alcoholism occurred and guess what?  I met a bunch of other people just like me.  What a revelation!

Then I knew that whatever I was thinking, someone else had thought the same before me. Whatever I was doing,  someone had done it before.  The phrase, “been there, done that” took on a very significant meaning in my life.  And I was no longer unique.

However, I can occasionally make side trips to that place called special and unique.  It feeds my ego, pumps my self-esteem, and ultimately puts me in a dangerous space in my sobriety.  The God of my understanding tells me that truly I am loved in his eyes, but I am just a grain of sand in the sea of humankind.  I am just one of a multitudinous flood of creatures who face the same issues; we dream, hope, grieve, worship, sin, worry, rejoice.  And it is guaranteed that each of us will physically die.

The only one who is special in this scenario called life on earth is our HP.  Who else could put together a bunch of bitter, demented, angry, back-biting, self-absorbed, whining, drunks and turn them into souls afire for sobriety and fellowship?  It’s got to be a God thing.  Nothing else is big enough, almighty enough, loving enough to make us over into something special.

 

THE LAND OF “MYWAYONLY”

 

 

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A long, long time ago in a northern backwoods land called Unityville lived a young, beautiful damsel with her parents, grandparents, an aunt and a sibling in a great multi-storied mansion on many acres of farmed and forested land.  Idyllic in all respects, it was a land filled with milk and honey, brimming with wild creatures, and story book-like in all respects.

Alas, the maiden was given to melancholy spending long days and sleepless nights pining for her betrothed knight fighting fearlessly in a faraway land across the great waters.  She counted idly the days until her valorous warrior would return to her waiting arms and their love could finally be consummated in the little white church on the road to Unityville where all of her friends and family were also united in matrimony.

Finally after what seemed to her like a lifetime, her beloved did return safely and immediately plans were made to unite their passions in a single state of wedded bliss. The date was set for the auspicious betrothal, a little green house on a hillside along the road was secured for their new life together, and friends and family eagerly anticipated the great day.

All, except the wicked witch of the groom’s family who lived in the land of Mywayonly. Detail after detail regarding the ceremony was unacceptable to her, greatest of which was the little, white church in Unityville where all the bride’s friends and family would be waiting to celebrate their new beginning.

“No, no, no”, she was heard to complain, “that church does not have the proper doorway and the pews are far too soft for my liking. The windows are much too ornate and the preacher man is known to work in his garden on Sunday afternoons. No, absolutely unacceptable.”

Not wanting to create a stir within the families, the lovers decide to forgo all the whoopdedoo and were married by the local justice of the peace, an honorable man known throughout the rural kingdom as a wise and Godly man.

All was wedded bliss in the little, green house sitting on a hillside along the country road leading to the east of Mywayonly and, as happens in all blessed marriages, a little bundle of joy burst onto the scene. All were happy but for the wicked witch in the husband’s family.

“No, no, no,” the witch complained over the blessed bundle in his nifty little bassinet with birds and butterflies floating overhead. “That child must not be raised by the ungodly people of the little, white church along the road leading to the land of Unityville.”

“He must live in the land of Mywayonly, and you”, pointing an ugly finger at the lovely young mother, “you must learn to dress more appropriately, more fitting for a godly wife and mother. Black stockings and long dresses are what you should wear. And for God’s sake pin up that hair atop your head. Don’t continue disgracing those of us who walk in Godly paths.”

Alas, the little, green house sitting on a hillside along the country road to the east of Mywayonly was no longer a house of bliss and joy. The young husband subjected himself to the wiles of the wicked witch and left his fatherly duties to pursue the intolerant ways of the wicked witch.

The moral of this story: in your life’s quest pass through the land of Mywayonly cautiously with love on your heart.

THE DUKE

 

 

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Bigger than life itself and a boyhood hero and role model to many of us at a time when rock stars, druggies, and Hollywood glamor just didn’t get it, John Wayne was unique and loved by many.

Possibly the most recognized and distinguishable memory of the Duke was the way he said “pilgrim”. Nobody can deny he holds a patent on “pilgrim”. The dictionary says this: “(1) person who journeys to a sacred place (2) traveler”
That includes just about all of us.

In his book “You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right” Rabbi Brad Hirschfield says of pilgrims:

“I have come to think of the people in our society who are unyieldingly committed as pilgrims, and of those who can’t commit at all as tourists. Pilgrims know who they are and where they’re going. Fundamentalists, many evangelicals, many Orthodox Jews, jihadists, die-hard Democrats or Republicans, liberals and conservatives shouting back nd forth at each other, ranting secularists, raving holy rollers-all are pilgrims. I know because I was one of them. I was walking in a direct line to my sacred destination , and no one was going to get in my way.”

I also have been in both places, a tourist and a pilgrim.  Neither was comfortable nor soul-feeding.  I have discovered that the space between, a place of searching and mystery, and a faith in that which has not been revealed is probably where I need to be in my quest. It fits well. Sorry, Duke.

 

HALLELUJAH

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larrypaulbrown
Krishna was there,
Yahweh and Buddha watched from above.
They saw and wept;
the Way, the great ‘I AM’, a Savior
nailed to a tree.

A man of peace,
a messenger of love,
hope for the hopeless,
life for the dead in spirit
nailed to a tree.

The heavens roared in pain,
the angels ceased singing,
the holy ones prostrated in grief,
skies thundered,
the moon and stars hid in horror.

Their Son, their beloved,
shamed and ravaged,
naked and dying,
nailed to a tree
mocked and reviled.

“No,” they bellowed,
“this shall not be the end.
Our Prince of Peace will prevail.
He will be Lord of lords
and King of kings. Forever.”

The Way – the truth and life continued,
peace, love, tolerance, justice
revealed through other lives.
Mohammed, Francis of Assisi,
Gandhi, Martin Luther King.

……….you and I.
All of God’s children united
with the spirit of the Way
living in truth and peace,
eternally joined in Spirit.

The Way will not be crushed,
the truth will not be crushed,
the life will not be crushed.
Forever and ever.
Amen

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” [Isaiah 53:3]

WERE YOU THERE?

BEACH

larrypaulbrown
Were you there,
did you see it,
the cross, the nails, the soldiers?
Were you there?
He called himself the Way:
the truth, the life.
They mocked him,
tortured him,
nailed him to a cross.

Sign said ‘King of the Jews’,
they did not believe then,
why should we believe now?
Were you there to see it?
Did you talk to Mary…..
or John or Peter,
see Jesus on the road to Emmaus,
witness his ascension?
How do you know?

Were you there?
Did you see what I saw?
In spirit we witnessed,
in spirit we collaborated
to murder God’s messenger.
We did not defend or shield
as the soldiers raised him.
Did you weep,
did your turn your head away?

Jesus – my conscience, my spirit, my soul.
The world did not know him,
does not believe him,
mocks and ridicules him,
says he doesn’t exist,
wants to crucify him.
Where will I be?
At the foot of his cross watching
or nailed with him to the crossbar?

O, Supreme God, save us from ourselves.
Give us faith,
fill us with trust,
let us revere the unseen,
show us the Way.
Nail our doubts
to the cross,
crucify our unbelief.
Let us be redeemed.

“……I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [Matthew 17:20]

Om Mani Padme Hum

The Mantra Om Mani Padme Hum  (mantra of Chenrezig)
The Mani mantra is the most widely used of all Buddhist mantras, and open to anyone who feels inspired to practice it — it does not require prior initiation by a lama (meditation master).

The mantra originated in India; as it moved from India into Tibet, the pronunciation changed because some of the sounds in the Indian Sanskrit language were hard for Tibetans to pronounce.

Om Mani Padme Hum
( Jewel of Enlightenment is in the Heart Lotus )CAPE PERPETUA 2

Om Mani Padme Hum
Think:
May all beings have happiness and the cause
of happiness, which is virtue

Om Mani Padme Hum
Pray:
May all beings remain free from suffering and the causes of suffering, which are non-virtue and delusion

Om Mani Padme Hum
Wish:
May all beings remain un-separated from the sacred
joy and happiness, that is totally free from sorrow

Om Mani Padme Hum
Pray:
May all beings come to rest in the boundless, all-inclusive equanimity, beyond attachment and aversion

Om Mani Padme Hum
Affirm:
May all beings be happy, content, and fulfilled

Om Mani Padme Hum
May all be peaceful, in harmony, and at ease

Om Mani Padme Hum
May all be protected from harm, fear, and danger

Om Mani Padme Hum
May all have whatever they want, need, and aspire to

Om Mani Padme Hum
May all be healed and whole again

Om Mani Padme Hum
May this planet be healed and whole again

Om Mani Padme Hum
May all beings awaken from their sleep of illusions and be liberated, enlightened, and free

Om Mani Padme Hum
May all realize their true spiritual nature and thus awaken the Buddha within

Om Mani Padme Hum
May all equally enjoy, actualize, and embody the innate Great Perfection

Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Mani Padme Hum

14th Dalai Lama

“om mani padme hūṃ”, written in Tibetan script on a rock outside the Potala Palace in Tibet

Khyongla Rato Rinpoche teaching on “Om Mani Padme Hum” on September 22nd, 2014, at The Tibet Center, NYC

“It is very good to recite the mantra Om mani padme hum, but while you are doing it, you should be thinking on its meaning, for the meaning of the six syllables is great and vast…

The first, Om […] symbolizes the practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; it also symbolizes the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha[…]”

“The path is indicated by the next four syllables. Mani, meaning jewel, symbolizes the factors of method: (the) altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassion, and love.[…]”

“The two syllables, padme, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom[…]”

“Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable hum, which indicates indivisibility[…]”

“Thus the six syllables, om mani padme hum, mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha[…]”

The True Sound of Truth
A devoted meditator, after years concentrating on a particular mantra, had attained enough insight to begin teaching. The student’s humility was far from perfect, but the teachers at the monastery were not worried.

A few years of successful teaching left the meditator with no thoughts about learning from anyone; but upon hearing about a famous hermit living nearby, the opportunity was too exciting to be passed up.

The hermit lived alone on an island at the middle of a lake, so the meditator hired a man with a boat to row across to the island. The meditator was very respectful of the old hermit. As they shared some tea made with herbs the meditator asked him about his spiritual practice. The old man said he had no spiritual practice, except for a mantra which he repeated all the time to himself. The meditator was pleased: the hermit was using the same mantra he used himself — but when the hermit spoke the mantra aloud, the meditator was horrified!

“What’s wrong?” asked the hermit.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m afraid you’ve wasted your whole life! You are pronouncing the mantra incorrectly!”

“Oh, Dear! That is terrible. How should I say it?”

The meditator gave the correct pronunciation, and the old hermit was very grateful, asking to be left alone so he could get started right away. On the way back across the lake the meditator, now confirmed as an accomplished teacher, was pondering the sad fate of the hermit.

“It’s so fortunate that I came along. At least he will have a little time to practice correctly before he dies.” Just then, the meditator noticed that the boatman was looking quite shocked, and turned to see the hermit standing respectfully on the water, next to the boat.

“Excuse me, please. I hate to bother you, but I’ve forgotten the correct pronunciation again. Would you please repeat it for me?”

“You obviously don’t need it,” stammered the meditator; but the old man persisted in his polite request until the meditator relented and told him again the way he thought the mantra should be pronounced.

The old hermit was saying the mantra very carefully, slowly, over and over, as he walked across the surface of the water back to the island.

REJOICE

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When was the last time you heard or used the word ‘rejoice’? I love rejoice. It sounds nice, feels good and just rolls off a happy tongue. I cannot be glum or sad when rejoice is on my mind. Rejoice is melodic and joyous. Its definitions in my Oxford dictionary fill my head with delight and celebration. I rejoice when I think of our Lord and his saving grace, his love for me, his correction and guidance. I rejoice when I remember my first day of sobriety, when I understand that it was the start of a long journey to a faith in something or someone greater than me. I rejoice when I realize that today is the day my Lord has made for me to face challenges and live victoriously in sobriety, not just absence of addictive substances or behaviors, but, actually live and conduct myself with a sober mindset. There is a difference.

Many of us live without our drugs of choice in a continual state of panic and despair. Call it a ‘dry drunk’ or a ‘recovery without spirituality’ or ‘absence of HP’, call it whatever you like; it is not what God intended for us when He brought us to sobriety. Therefore, rejoice and be glad in this day of your sober life.

Today I intend, by the grace of God, to rejoice, i.e. feel great joy, be glad, delight, exult, glory, revel, and celebrate in God’s gift of sobriety. With an attitude of great humility I know I certainly don’t deserve it nor have I earned it.

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24