Showing posts with label Reflections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reflections. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Do I really want to know the truth?

11. Knowledge is freedom, freedom from ignorance and its offspring, fear; knowledge is light and liberation,
12. Knowledge that the world contains itself, and its origins, and the mind of man,
13. From which comes more knowledge, and hope of knowledge again,
14. Dare to know; that is the motto of enlightenment.

A.C. Grayling, The Good Book, Genesis, Chapter 2: 11-14

And Unitarian Universalists value the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

UUs believe that it is better to know the truth no matter how upsetting, how painful, how disturbing, than to live in ignorance.

But the search for truth has its costs. It can be challenging and difficult, and at times we feel ambivalent. Maybe things are better left unsaid, the truth kept hidden away, let sleeping dogs lie, sweep it under the rug, why even go there, if you don't want to know the answer better to not ask the question.

But the scripture in the Good Book says in Genesis 2: 14 - "Dare to know"

It takes courage, determination, perseverance. Ignorance is bliss, but truth can hurt. However, in the long run it will set you free. This is our faith.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Who do admire enough to emulate?

I am working with Lama Willa Miller's book, Everyday Dharma, and the last two days she has focused first on asking the reader to consider who they admire and on the second day what qualities do the people you admire have that you would like to emulate? She asks the reader to pick three people and  focus on some specific qualities for emulation. The people can be living or dead, real or fictional, she even allows animals.

There are so many people I admire and they have so many qualities that I would like to emulate that I have found the exercise much more difficult than I would have imagined it would be.

I have always admire my ex wife Angela's determination to do things and her persistence in getting things done, sometimes to a fault, but she pushed me to do things that I would never have done had it not been for her. I would like to have her determination and persistence. I am often too quick to find an excuse and to doubt myself, or the project, or to think of reasons it won't work out.

I admire Rev. Dr. Tom Chulak, the former St. Lawrence District Executive Director who gave me advice several times about how to go about working with others to start BUUF, the Brockport Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. When Tom retired, I was surprised as my sense of loss, because Tom had been a very wise source of counsel. His words are still repeated in our steering committee meetings, "How you begin is how you will finish." I admire Tom's wisdom, his ability to cut through the nonsense and get to the heart of the matter and his respectful way of working with people. He helped us start GUUSTO, Genesee Unitarian Universalist Societies Together, which is our cluster of Rochester area churches.

The third person I admire the most is Jesus of Nazareth. There are so many things I admire that it is hard to choose one. I guessed it is his love for everybody and his sense of connection with the divine. He lived a heart felt life and shared it with others in his words and deeds. It is hard to believe he was only in his early 30s when he was involved in his public ministry.

Emulation is a good thing, I think. For me it feels a little like positive competitiveness. I want to be as good as if not better than the person I admire and want to emulate realizing with humility that I could never do this because I am not that person.

I like Lama Willa Miller's book very much. I recommend it to you.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Astonishing Light Of Your Own Being

Last Thursday, March 3, 2011, there was an article on this blog about Lent being a time to clear the decks for the "real self". In the article there is a reference to Lama Willa Miller's idea about "wisdom-nature" which she writes about in her book "Everyday Dharma".

This morning I opened Daniel Ladinsky's book "I Heard God Laughing" in which he renders the poems of Hafiz and here is the first one

"I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The Astonishing Light
Of your own Being."

I immediately thought of Lama Miller's idea of our "wisdom-nature".

I also am reminded that Jesus never condemns anyone for sinning but he does get upset because of their lack of faith. He tells them in Matthew 17:20 if they just had the size of faith of a small mustard seed they could move mountains" but alas they often have not that faith, they are not in touch with their "wisdom-nature".

Hafiz says, like Jesus, "I wish I could show you......................."

Are there Unitarian Universalist mystics? The closest I have come to finding them is on the Boston Unitarian blog. Are there others?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Reflections - Each one of us is precious

It is with your body that you experience yourself in the world and influence others. How well do you take care of it?

Everyday we wake up to a miralce of life on earth. Someday we won't. Are you grateful for today or dreading it?

As Unitarian Universalists we value the interdependent web of all existence, what the Buddhists call interpenetration.

You are not alone. You are wanted and needed here. We need you to be the best person that you can and to become what Life created you to become.

You are precious whether you know this or not. Every person is precious.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Who and/or what is your God?

What matters most to you?

What matters most to me in life is _________________________________________.

Rev. Kate Braestrup writes in her book, Marriage and Other Acts of Charity, that whatever you filled in that blank is your God.

For a heroin addict what matters most in his life is heroin. For some parents it would be their children, etc.

In her book, Everyday Dharma, Lama Willa Miller suggests that you observe your thoughts and desires for a day and keep track of what matters most to you as you reflect on your thoughts during the course of the day.

What matters most to me in my life is keeping my life on track. I can tell when I wander. Being on track is my understanding of who it is God wants me to be becoming, and what it is God wants me to be doing with my life. As St. Paul says, "If God is with you, who can be against you?" God and I are a dynamic duo. The challenge for me is to stay in sync with what deep down in my heart I believe God wants me to be doing.

God often puts interesting, challenging, and from my perspective, unwanted and undesirable things in my path, and yet I find myself increasingly as I get older surrendering to God's will. Like Moses, like Jesus, I take a close look at what I think God is asking of me, and when it seems authentic, I surrender into doing it.

What matters most to you? Who is it that Life is calling you to become, and what is it that Life is asking you to do with yourself during your time here on earth? Do you have a sense of that? Are you living your life authentically and intentionally?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Getting a life

We want to be free from suffering.

We want to be happy.

Many turn to alcohol, drugs (whether prescription or street), gambling, sex, work, religion, food.

What is it we want to get free from?

Our existential anxiety and what we perceive as external tormentors (stressors).

Existential anxiety might be a good thing. It might mean we are not on the right track in our life. We are not paying attention to the yearnings of our "real self". We have gotten off track, we are off balance, out of sorts, in a bad place in our lives.

Pay attention not so much to your tormentors but to your anxiety. Jesus said repeatedly, "What are you anxious about, oh you of little faith. If you only knew how much your Father loves you."

We all want to be liberated, to be free.

Beth: I just want to be free. I feel so trapped. There is nothing I can do.

David Markham: You want to be from what?

Beth: Everything! I don't know how much more of this I can take. At times I think I'm having a nervous breakdown.

David Markham: I know. At times things can seem overwhelming.

Beth: What should I do?

David Markham: You are looking for a silver bullet, a magic key, and I don't believe there is one. I can't tell you what to do, you will have to come to that yourself probably in an evolutionary way over time.

Beth: Myself? I have to find the answer myself? You're not going to help me?

David Markham: I would if I could, but I can't. The question is not so much what you want to get free from but what you want to be free to do. I can't tell you what's in your heart. Deep down what is it you really want to do with your life? You remember, in high school, how we used to put each other down saying "Get a life!" Well, that's your challenge. Obviously, your life is not working for you and you need to "get a life". What do you think, deep down, God is calling you to become, to do with your life?

Beth: (With a grin) So you're telling me it's up to me?

David Markham: Who else? It's your life.

Beth: Right.

David Markham: Okay?

Beth: I guess............................

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nonviolence or reverence for life?

I was reading Osho last night and he was talking about nonviolence. He says some interesting things.

Nonviolence is a negative which makes violence a positive. What is nonviolence but no violence.

Osho says this is stupid. He says  it would be better said to call the idea "reverence for life." If a person has reverence for life they will act nonviolently. Violence just drops away.

Then he goes on to say that if a person has a reverence for life, first and foremost a person should revere their own life. This means the person would never allow anyone to hurt them. So, if a person hits you, don't turn your cheek as Jesus suggests because this only encourages the person to hit you again. Turning the other cheek encourages violence. Turning the other cheek is not nonviolent because it encourages violence. What the victim should do is check the violence being perpetrated against him/her. Checking this attack may involve hitting the other person back harder than they hit you.

Interesting idea, but nothing new. Eye for an eye but with a twist. The goal is not retribution but education. It is offensive defense if that makes any sense.

At any rate, I think Osho has it right. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Bullies have to be stood up to. Playing a victim with a bully only encourages more bullying.

The loving thing is to check the violent impulses of the other. There are many ways to do this, but if necessary physical force may have to be used in  a defensive/offensive way.

This use of force is in the service of life, to revere life, not to destroy it. Remember, the goal is self respect and education, not retribution and sadistic pleasure.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Reflections - Anxiety is the pain of the soul

Anxiety is often an indication that our intuitive sense is out of sync with our conscious mind. Our heart is telling us one thing while our head is telling us something else. Anxiety, in this context, is our very best friend. It is our soul or spirit trying to get us to consider the path we are on and perhaps to change course.

Now days anxiety is seen as pathological and we are encouraged to medicate it away either with prescription drugs or street drugs: legal and illegal. Medication, though, blurs our perceptiveness of our inner compass and can do our souls a disservice. The mature soul knows that anxiety for the spirit is like pain for the body, it is a warning that something is wrong and encourages us to check.

If we take our aches and pains to a doctor for a check, to whom do we take our anxious spirit? Who, in our society, is the doctor of the soul? It might be a professional such as a counselor or psychotherapist of some sort. It might be a member of the clergy. It might be a trusted friend or relative. Usually we seek relief in reverse order to the one above first seeking help from friends and/or family, then from a member of the clergy, and then from a mental health professional.

Anxiety, while painful, is good for us. Rather than avoid it, and medicate it, and distract ourselves from it, we are usually better off to acknowledge it, accept it, reflect on it, and learn from it.

Anxiety is an ambiguous form of fear. We feel afraid but we having nothing to tie our fears to – we can’t identify an object of our fear. So it may help next time you are feeling anxious to ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” Being able to identify the object of our anxiety is the first step in rectifying our discomfort and distress. And then find someone to talk to about it. Grace occurs in our support and understanding of one another.
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