conflicted

We know the Way of Jesus: the Truth and Life; we know the Path of the Buddha.  Reality dwells in a space within our bodily temples protected from the clamor of the world.  It does not participate in the illusions of the world.  It merely observes the noise and allows us to function quietly in fullness of spirit.   When challenged by the incessant demands of the noise, our inner self needs only withdraw to the place we know as truth, the place where we will find solace.

And what is that truth?   It is knowing that this life is impermanent; it is knowing that this life is suffering; it is knowing that our suffering is a result of the work of the ego; it is knowing that we can ascend to a place of non-suffering through dying to that ego.  When we can become self-less we can become free.  That is the journey, the Quest.

For a few, enlightenment occurs, but for me, it is a continuing trek through the disappointment, the disillusionment, the sadness, the intolerance, the hatred which defines today’s society.  I’m still a work in progress.  Thankfully, I also know that it is my choice to participate in a conflicted way within the world’s reality or to merely observe and conduct my life according to my conscience.  I will speak as a brother to all humanity, I will think as one who is merely a grain of sand in the sea of humanity, I will uphold the rights of all my brothers and sisters to a life of equality and justice.  The truth which I perceive tells me there is no separation of mankind for we are all one within the greatness, the magnificence, the brilliance of the universal One.

The state of being conflicted is counterproductive to the journey.  Or is it?  When we stand in for a victim of oppression and hatred, when we speak out for those who are being persecuted, when we uphold the laws of our country as prescribed by the Constitution by counter-demonstrating, are we not also subscribing to that which we know to be Truth?

Although I seek quiet and solitude, I cannot be voiceless and uninvolved.  Even when I cannot successfully search my memory banks for sound bytes, video clips, and quotes which support my convictions regarding today’s political turmoil, I have an intelligence and awareness which continues to discern right from wrong.  For that I am grateful else my state of confliction would be without value or purpose.

I wonder if Gandhi was conflicted, or Martin Luther King, Jr., or Jesus, or the Buddha.  Maybe it’s OK.  You think?

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Namaste

“We need to be more concerned with following Jesus, which he told us to do numerous times, and less with worshipping Jesus—which he never once told us to do.”

richard rohr

Whomever we name as Lord and Savior has to be the guiding essence in our lives.  As one brought up in the Christian tradition, I of course have Jesus as my reference point.  I believe the teachings and the words attributed to this messenger of God are the entirety of what a person needs to live life successfully and compassionately.  His disciples addressed him as “Rabboni” meaning teacher or master.  He was not viewed as a preacher, a figure we are more comfortable with in Western Christianity.  He did not chastise his followers with threats and condemnation from his pulpit.  No, the Jesus we see in the Bible was always in the midst of everyday life, enjoying the company of fellow Jews, partying at weddings, consoling hurting friends, and practicing what he knew as the truth.

That is what western Christianity has lost in its zeal to convert the world.  It exhorts proselytes to bow and worship before crosses and man-created theologies rather than to get out there, rub elbows with all of God’s creation and humanity, and be a light in a darkened world by following the examples set by Rabboni.

Jesus endorses freedom of thought and justice for all humanity through actions of love, peace, compassion and inclusion.  I must believe that if Jesus and Buddha had met , they would have smiled on the world and greeted each other with Jesus saying, “God’s peace be with you.”

Buddha would have folded his hands, bowed his head, and returned with, “Namaste”, meaning I bow to the Divine in you.

What a wonderful world we could have if we all pretended to be Jesus and Buddha bowing and respecting each other’s chosen path to enlightenment.

take stock & regroup

When I undertook this format for writing several years ago, it was with the intent to share my experience, strength, and hope in my personal quest for sanity and serenity as a recovering alcoholic.  I had no aspirations for a blog that would draw thousands of readers or ambitions for a post that would go viral.  And, I have not been disappointed.

The events of the past year have tilted my concerns and attentions to the political arena.  Certainly my personal opinions are valid, my voice needs to be counted, and my vote will continue to be registered, but, continual attention to a situation which is beyond my control exacts a toll on serenity and composure.

Today, I realized that common sense will ultimately prevail, that goodness and mercy will prevail, and that life will go on with or without my input.  But, I also came to understand that our culture ( Western, specifically American) is driven not by a sense of spirit, but rather by a sense of self.  We are a culture of egoism and self-absorption.  It is the only explanation for the politicians we have installed as leaders of the free world.

A wealthy friend, let’s call him Joe, is a minor millionaire who spends more money on a pair of shoes than I can spend on monthly groceries.   Joe has called our current President a pig.  He has questioned our President’s shady connections.  He is one of the voters who voted for the least worst of the worst candidates in decades.  Yet, Joe confided that the stock market is doing great, he is making money and therefore he is happy with the pig with shady connections who is currently posing as POTUS.  Another pair of designer shoes for Joe and maybe a Rolex are in his offing.

Yes, today has been a time of refection and redirect.  I know who I am in God’s world, I intend to strive on for a compassionate, caring, communing interaction with the world’s peoples, creatures, and environment.  This is the only wealth which is worth chasing, it is the eternity detailed in the chapters of the great scriptures, it is that which the greatest of God’s messengers have attested as truth; it is the way of Jesus, the path of Buddha and it is available to all who will subdue themselves to the greater power so simply presented in the recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The Oneness which we call God, or Allah, or Brahman will continue with or without us.  The universal, omnipotent power of the Oneness will do this…with or without us.  Our reason for being here on this earth in this life is to promote and assist the physical/spiritual welfare of our brothers and sisters, to cherish the creation and to protect the environment.  We are not here to promote our version of God, to defend our version of God, or in any way assist our version of God.  The one you name as God, the one I name as God is perfectly capable of handling those details.  Let’s appreciate the simplicity of our solidarity.

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THE TOMB

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And so it ended. The hope of the Jewish peasants, the radical Jesus who was to be their new king, the friend of the sick and oppressed was laid in a tomb without fanfare. His betrayer was dead, his opponents were victorious and his disciples were shattered. The Roman soldiers had followed their orders and crucified a commoner just as they had done to thousands of other insurrectionists who threatened the empire.

Christ followers will say that this was God’s plan, that the prophets had foretold of the death of their messiah, that the divine Jesus Christ, son of the virgin Mary was born to die for our sins in a very bloody and ignoble ending.

Non-believers will say that Jesus was just a man, albeit a very good man, who challenged the authority of the Romans and of the Jewish elite and lost. They will say his body was stolen from the tomb and that accounts of his resurrection and appearance again to his followers were acts of hysteria and hallucination.

Whether the Jews lost a savior and messiah or whether the world lost one of God’s messengers is a debate that will remain a part of God’s mystery until the end of time. What is a certainty is that Jesus of Nazareth was 1) a historic fact supported by numerous independent sources, and 2) a man with hope, truth, and tolerance for a hurting Jewish nation. He was murdered by a society of hatred and intolerance. His message of love and compassion was buried in the tombs of religious tradition and inflexible doctrine. And thus the world’s humanity continued in its blinding darkness waiting for God to reveal to us his next messenger.

crucified

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 crossbeam?

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]

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TREKKING WITH THE MYSTICS

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Peggy Lee, a popular contemporary vocalist of the 1950s and 60s, recorded a song which reached into the top of the charts in 1969.  “IS THAT ALL THERE IS” expresses  disillusionment and disappointment with a life which should be filled with unique experiences.  She suggests that we “break out the booze and have a ball—if that’s all there is”. Peggy Lee died in 2002.

Sometimes our life’s experiences parallel the lyrics of this song of hopelessness and melancholy.  We strive to achieve, to find acceptance within our communities, to perform according to the edicts of our traditional religion.  We fear the god of vengeance and punishment portrayed by exhortations from the pulpits of our churches while we fervently pray to that same god for forgiveness and redemption.  Yet in the secret recesses of our inner selves we intuitively know that the god of our religions and churches somehow misses the mark of truth, compassion, and relevance which we earnestly desire in our lives.  This inner search drives us to search for another day when we can sincerely say “yes, Lord, I will follow”, when we can finally change the word god to a capitalized God.

“9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Luke 11:9 KJV

That day of transformation from god to God reveals to us an inner trek which fills our lives with the beauty, mystery, awe, and inspiration which God intended for us.  It is not a new realization; rather, it has been practiced for thousands of years by Teachers sometimes called “mystics”.  They and their followers shared the wonderment of God residing within and without, present in all beings and all creation, available to any who would seek.  The Kingdom of God is not reserved for the righteous; it is not a distant, heavenly sphere of religious correctness; it is not the eminent domain of any of the world’s religions.

“21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  Luke 17:21` KJV

The writings of the New Testament attribute the above verse to Jesus, one of the Teachers who understood the mysteries of the inner search for truth.  When his sayings, as recorded in the Bible, are processed in the realm of spiritual rather than worldly understanding we become keenly aware of the depth of inner communion with a God who becomes intensely real and personal.

Luke 17:21 is the essence of “TREKKING WITH THE MYSTICS” and the basis for a necessary life-changing redirect.  If our “rock and fortress” dwells within then surely hatred, bigotry, intolerance, government agents, worldly oppression shall be powerless in the presence of the great “I AM”.  We are proclaimed to be instruments of and witnesses to that which is Truth and Light.  We are destined to walk the earth fearlessly pursuing for all people equality, social justice, and personal liberty.  Doing so is our birthright and our Supreme duty.

THE HAPPY MYSTIC

Have you ever momentarily experienced in your meditation a time of absolute serenity and peace?  All trains of thought have stopped.  The world around you is non-existent.  It is tranquil and quiet within.  All is well with your soul.

You try to hang on to it as long as possible but, the phone rings, the kids scream, and the dog barks. Poof! It’s gone.  That brief, unearthly respite was a God moment.  For a mere second you and the God within were in communion.  This mysterious indwelling essence became the Lord of your life on the day you made sobriety the top priority of your life.

We alcoholics are not unique in this discovery.  Many before us, many who are not addicted to any behavior or substance have also known the God within and have fully experienced the pure joy and peace of inner communion.  Buddha and his followers, Jesus and his followers, Muhammad and his followers all exercised the mysticism of an inner experience of meditation and contemplation.  The Kabbalist Jew in his esoteric practice also embraces mysticism.

This has nothing to do with his God, her God, the church’s God.  This is your very own, very personal Higher Power which has no need to be translated by religionists or theologians.  You don’t need dogma or faith creeds or a list of “thou shalt and thou shalt not”  because it is within the deepest recesses of your soul’s being that the God of your understanding can be found.

Faith in this inner God experience of the mystics does not negate or diminish the presence of spirituality that is enjoyed by worshipping with others corporately in the church, the mosque or the synagogue.  This time of singing, prayer, and teaching only enhances that which we know within.  However, we can experience an exhilarating freedom when we understand how and where to find a personal God of our understanding.  Scriptures which we have learned and known for a lifetime come alive with new and deeper meaning.  Our journey is no longer hindered by questions concerning the right pew in the right church with the right congregation worshipping on the right day of the week preaching the right gospel with the right Bible, Torah or Koran in hand.  That spiritual experience which is deep within is always right.

“To thine own self be true.”

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