VIGIL IN SMALLTOWN

 

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Tonight was one of those moments in life when existence takes on new meaning.  We labor under daily drudgery, shattered dreams, and worldly turmoil.  The moments which rekindle the fires that make life exciting and meaningful are to be cherished, embraced and remembered for future reference.

Tonight I participated in a prayer vigil for the Orlando victims, the 49 beautiful people who were gunned down while celebrating life and youth in a place which they considered to be a safe haven for the LGBT community.  They gathered at Pulse to dance, sing, and party with peers who came from all walks of life, all professions, all creeds.  They were murdered by a disturbed man who allegedly  shared their passion but could not reconcile his religious tradition to their lifestyle.

America’s response has been predictable.  There has been a great outpouring of sympathy and love for the friends, families and loved ones of the victims.  God bless America.  There has also been a response from radical Christian and Muslim sects cheering the deaths as the direct intervention of a vengeful God pouring his full wrath upon a sinful nation. And then there was Trump polarizing America, inciting even deeper Islamophobia among the voters.

But, tonight was a very personal directive in my life.  Those 49 victims will not have died in vain as long as I have breath in my body.  You see, almost 100 like-minded people were at that vigil.  100 people pledged to live life offering love, peace, honor, and respect to all races, all creeds, all ethnicities, all religions, and all sexual orientations.  It’s not too late; we can save mankind from self-destruction and I will be an instrument of that saving peace.  That is my personal promise to those who died too young in Orlando.  They have not died in vain.  They have inspired ordinary people at my vigil here in Smalltown, USA and vigils worldwide to stand up to the hate-mongers and the hatred they intend to spread. Our loving God of peace will prevail.  Amen.

THEY HAD A DREAM

 

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John Lennon was an English musician who gained worldwide fame as one of the members of the Beatles, for his subsequent solo career, and for his political activism and pacifism. On 8 December 1980, Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman in the archway of his residence in New York City.

“you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

 

excerpts from Martin Luther King speech,  August 28, 1963, steps of Lincoln Memorial

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, ‘My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.’

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”Isaiah 40:3-5 New International Version (NIV)


 

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……”

 

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.