Blessed are the poor

Blessed are the poor in spirit ; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:3

Yes, I know this verse has nothing to do with worldly wealth or spiritual deficiency.  But, I immediately thought of it when Trump came out with the following statement at an ego rally in Iowa.

“I just don’t want a poor person in top economic roles.”  Donald J. Trump

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-%E2%80%98i-just-don%E2%80%99t-want-a-poor-person%E2%80%99-in-top-economic-roles/ar-BBD1Ncr?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

I could discuss politics with you until the cows come home, but that is not my blog’s intent.  Suffice it to say that possibly ‘the poor’ could add a great insight to an otherwise sightless administration.

In the verse attributed to Jesus by the book of Matthew, “poor” is translated from the Greek word “ptochos” meaning beggar or pauper.  In attempting to think as Jesus may have thought we could view the “poor in spirit” not as unenlightened or ignorant, but, as those who have become voluntarily bankrupt in ego, i.e., poor in ego, and are absolutely dependent on God for every need.  Just like a beggar with cup in hand, totally in need of alms, the one who relies not on “I” or “me” but rather on the grace and graciousness of a Higher Power has attained an attitude that surrenders control to the One who is in control.  This attitude is the kingdom of heaven cited in Matthew 5:3.

(refer to Ethan Walker 3rd, “THE MYSTIC CHRIST”)

THE AA PROMISES

Many of us who have based our sobriety on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous came to the meeting rooms with severe doubts about a program which told us to give up the control factor in our lives and turn it over to an entity named God.  We had heard too much about this God as youngsters in the clutches of God-fearing parents and hell-preaching clergy.  We, for the most part, gave up entirely on the concept of a God.  Our mantra to parents and clergy alike was “If you’re going to heaven then I sure as hell don’t want to be there.”

Thereby we resigned ourselves to a life without god in the grips of alcoholism.  We drank our selves into oblivion whenever we could and suffered through endless hours of non-drinking when  our first love in life was unavailable.  Some of us maintained a semblance of normalcy for a while, but in the end there was nothing normal about the way we lived.  Self-loathing, lying, infidelity, cheating, suicide attempts, and broken promises finally crashed us to the depths of our personal hells.

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And then, a helping hand reached out and suggested an AA meeting.

“Are you crazy,” we asked sarcastically.

“Maybe, but, I’m sober,” was the helping hand’s reply.  “And you can be sober, too.”

For the first time in many years we saw hope, a sparkle in our friend’s eyes that encouraged us to think,  “Maybe this sobriety thing is not so bad, I have nothing to lose.”

Thus begins many stories from the sharing members of AA who sit back in their chairs and take us with them to the pits of their personal hells.  We cry with them, we chuckle over stupid things they did, we feel a growing bond with their life story.  In the end we know we are all one, a brotherhood/sisterhood of lost souls who rediscovered life through the loving compassion shared by members of Alcoholics Anonymous.  We found a God who loved us unconditionally, who did not condemn, who promised to lead us to productive lives living soberly.

We listen intently, nodding in agreement as a reader shares the promises from the Big Book:

1. If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
2. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
3. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
4. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
6. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
8. Self-seeking will slip away.
9. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84
Reprinted from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.

The Alcoholics Anonymous miracle is an unmerited, undeserved gift of the God whom we bow before as our Higher Power.  This gift  is not aligned with any religion or theology; it embraces all faiths, all genders, all orientations, all races.  It’s principles could be the foundation of a new world in which:

“Wisdom is knowing we are all one.  Love is what it feels like, and Compassion is what it acts like.”  Ethan Walker 3rd, “The Mystic Christ”

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FEAR

Fear has sometimes been defined as the opposite of love.  I like that.  It is very succinct and helps us understand better what love is not.  Our culture uses the word love entirely too indiscriminately.  When we label our warm, fuzzy feelings for another being, another creature, or a favorite food as love, the word has lost its intrinsic meaning which Ethan Walker, 3rd in “The Mystic Christ” describes as the feeling of knowing we are all one.

“And what is wisdom?  Wisdom is knowing we are all one.  Love is what it feels like, and compassion is what it acts like.”

Perhaps fear can be also understood as the manifestation of ignorance.  We don’t, in this usage, mean ignorance as a crass, rude, impolite form of behavior but rather, ignorance as an “unawareness”.  The unknown beliefs of a religion foreign to us, the curious customs of a culture half way around the world, the misinformation of a lifestyle not familiar to us are all forms of unawareness.  Often, rather than gaining insight, and credible information, and then applying wisdom (knowing we are all one), it is easier to build a personal defense system based on fear.

Individually, this type of personal armament leads to racism, hatred, and intolerance.  When a theology or a government tries to protect and enhance its control by means of fear-peddling and hate-mongering the world becomes witness to oppression, deprivation and genocide.

Yes, it is challenging to us.  We in America are born into a culture of self-serving egocentrism where gaining the upper hand, winning at all costs, and coming out on top with the most toys is the mantra of those who are deemed successful.  Even some of our mainstream religions have replaced the Gospel of sacrifice and compassion with the gospel of affluence which questions one’s faith if one has not attained the dream of materialism.

We must bring this tendency to fear to our inner place of meditation and reflection.  We are one in solidarity with the entire universe, all it’s humanity, all its creatures, all its beauty, all its ugliness, all its promises and all its disappointments.  In totality we are one complete organism.  We are dependent on each person and every feature of our universe for our survival.

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

John Donne (1572-1631) Meditation XVII, 1624

WISDOM

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Our world today is a far cry from what is described by the mystics as unity with the universal Spirit which some of us name God.  We humans have taken the path of least resistance in life following trails of arrogance and self-absorption.  It is infinitely easier to look at human suffering, turn our backs to it saying the starvation crisis in Africa is not my problem or the genocide in Syria doesn’t affect me.  Our lives become a chorus of continuing “me, me, me; what’s in it for me?”

Ethan Walker lll in his book “THE MYSTIC CHRIST” asks the question:

“And what is wisdom? 

and he answers,

Wisdom is knowing we are all one.  Love is what it feels like, and compassion is what it acts like.”

Referring to the author’s definition we should shamefully agree that truly what the world needs now is love and the resulting compassion.  That compassion needs to be expressed not only to neighbors and family, but also to famine and genocide victims on the other side of the earth.  That’s what is missing.  We do not see ourselves as one existence in unity with the total complexity of God’s creation.  We run wildly to and fro attacking brothers and sisters who worship differently, follow unfamiliar traditions, practice unusual customs.  We cannot see beyond our noses far enough to embrace the world’s diversity.  We lack creation’s wisdom.

 

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