Reflecting

Pandemic

Pandemic

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love—
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.


—Lynn Ungar 3/11/20 (Read in
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation From the Center for Action and Contemplation, July 11, 2020)

Being · Reflecting · Words

The Meaning of Life

From Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, December 28, 2019

Practice: The Meaning of Life

Michael Lerner is an American rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in Berkeley, a political activist, and the editor of Tikkun, a Jewish interfaith magazine. Rabbi Lerner has shared my work with his audiences, noting the message of love and justice that flows through all the Abrahamic faiths and touches on all the great religious and spiritual traditions. In today’s practice, Rabbi Lerner imagines an education for the future where students would learn to engage in studies that would prepare them for spiritual transformation. In alignment with our consideration of “incarnation,” one of the topics students would explore is “Meaning of Life.” Lerner explains:

In this stream, students would learn about the various ways people have sought to discover a framework of meaning for life. Students would study art and poetry, music and dance, world literature and philosophy, religions and forms of spirituality. They would be encouraged to consider their own paths for finding meaning, and to develop rituals, poetry, music, and dance that fit the lives they are shaping for themselves or as part of ongoing communities of meaning.

Students would also be exposed to the range of human suffering, projects and strategies for ameliorating or reducing suffering, and the range of responses and attempts to give meaning to the suffering and the attempts to be with suffering without giving it any larger meaning. They would also be exposed to the ways people have sought to find meaning through community action, mutual support, and love. Many students will have already had their own exposure to suffering in their families and communities, but the school situation will give them a different a take: an opportunity to reflect on suffering and its meaning. So, too, students will explore experiences of unity, mystical luminosity and joy that are as much dimensions of life as suffering and cruelty.

Finally, students would be encouraged to prepare of a rite of passage that they, together with parents and teachers as advisors, devised for themselves: a kind of “hero’s quest” in which they were initiated into the realities of some aspect of adult life. Adapting from suggestions made by [Zen Roshi] Joan Halifax, I suggest that such a rite of passage would involve going through a process that would include:

  1. Plunging into some (carefully discerned) arena of activity
  2. Allowing oneself to separate from familiar paths and ways of coping so that one can “not know”
  3. Allowing oneself to experience confusion, fear, and disorientation without jumping into denial or easy resolution of conflict
  4. Healing oneself and incorporating into one’s being the knowledge learned as part of this process
  5. Ending with a firm determination to liberate oneself and the world from suffering.

[While] it could be argued that many students have already gone through stages “1” through “3,” few get to “4” or “5.” Commitment to healing oneself and making a commitment to liberation for self, others, and the world is an essential part of spiritual transformation. [1]

[1] Michael Lerner, Spirit Matters (Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.: 2002), 264-265.

Being · Reflecting

…to be human?

Ms. Tippett:Yes, yes. I do want to ask you this question, and I don’t ask everybody this question, because it’s enormous. But how would you begin, given the life you’ve lived, the things you care about and see, how would you begin right now to answer the question of what you’ve learned about what it means to be human?

Ms. Perel:I think that what it means to be human — there are many ways to answer it, but what comes up for me immediately is, we all come into this world with a need for connection and protection and with a need for freedom. And from the first moment on, we will be straddling these two needs — what is me, and what is us? The common parlance today is, “I need to first work on myself; I need to first feel good about me; solve me before I can be with somebody else,” and I find that also a strange thought. You know who you are, you discover who you are in the presence of another.

So this constant dance between me and you, between I and thou, is at the core of being human. What right do I have to do for me when it hurts you? How much can I ask for me and not give to you? How much do I give to you until I feel that I have not given enough to myself? How much do I make sure not to lose you but lose me in the process? Or how much do I have to hold onto me but lose you in the process? That tension, that dance, for me, is very much at the core of being human — freedom and responsibility, which probably is kind of the core of existentialist thinking.

–from Krista Tippett and Esther Perel on http://www.dailygood.org/story/2441/esther-perel-the-constant-dance-between-me-and-you-on-being/

Faith · Reflecting · Words

Does this resonate with you?

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

From the Center for Action and Contemplation

Church: Old and New

If We Were Christian

Friday, November 1, 2019
All Saints’ Day

“…Quaker pastor Philip Gulley superbly summarizes how we must rebuild spirituality from the bottom up in his book, If the Church Were Christian. [3] Here I take the liberty of using my own words to restate his message, which offers a rather excellent description of what is emerging in Christianity today:

  1. Jesus is a model for living more than an object of worship.
  2. Affirming people’s potential is more important than reminding them of their brokenness.
  3. The work of reconciliation should be valued over making judgments.
  4. Gracious behavior is more important than right belief.
  5. Inviting questions is more valuable than supplying answers.
  6. Encouraging the personal search is more important than group uniformity.
  7. Meeting actual needs is more important than maintaining institutions.
  8. Peacemaking is more important than power.
  9. We should care more about love and less about sex.
  10. Life in this world is more important than the afterlife (Eternity is God’s work anyway).

If this makes sense to you, you are already participating in evolving Christianity. Do read it several times. It only makes more and more sense…

[3] See Philip Gulley, If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus (HarperOne: 2010). This list is adapted from his chapter titles…

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Emerging Christianity: A Non-Dual Vision,” Radical Grace, vol. 23, no. 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010), 3, 22.”

Feeling · Learning · Reflecting

Studies show people don’t like–even avoid–solitude. Why?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/28/smarter-living/the-benefits-of-being-alone.html?fallback=false&recId=492417555&locked=1&geoContinent=NA&geoRegion=NC&recAlloc=random&geoCountry=US&blockId=home-living&imp_id=423177595&action=click&module=Smarter%20Living&pgtype=Homepage

https://news.virginia.edu/content/doing-something-better-doing-nothing-most-people-study-shows

Becoming Perceptive · Reflecting · Words

Read about the “Wood Wide Web”–you’ll be glad you did

ESSAY

The Understory

http://www.dailygood.org/more.php?n=8231

Faith · Love · Reflecting · Words

The Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi

A prayer attributed to St. Francis

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let us sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is discord, union;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

Becoming Perceptive · Reflecting

“Spark of the divine”

“Our supreme purpose in life is not to make a fortune, nor to pursue pleasure, nor to write our name on history, but to discover this spark of the divine that is in our hearts…when we realize this goal, we discover simultaneously that the divinity within ourselves is one and the same in all—all individuals, all creatures, all of life. . . .

A mystic is one who not only espouses these principles of the Perennial Philosophy but lives them, whose every action reflects the wisdom and selfless love that are the hallmark of one who has made this supreme discovery. Such a person has made the divine a reality in every moment of life, and that reality shines through whatever he or she may do or say—and that is the real test. . . . [A mystic is marked by] an unbroken awareness of the presence of God in all creatures. The signs are clear: unfailing compassion, fearlessness, equanimity, and the unshakable knowledge, based on direct, personal experience, that all the treasures and pleasures of this world together are worth nothing if one has not found the uncreated light at the center of the soul.”

–Adapted from Eknath Easwaran, Original Goodness (Nilgiri Press: 1989, 1996), 8-10 in Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, August 15, 2019

Becoming Perceptive · Reflecting · Words

“The prayer of the contemplative…”

“The prayer of the contemplative is, essentially, an attention to the omnipresence of God. God is omnipresent not as a theological doctrine, but as the great silence that is present in every moment—but from which we are usually distracted by an overactive mind that refuses to wait in a humble unknowing for a pure wisdom from above [James 3:17].”

Richard Rohr, Richard Rohr Meditation, “Beholding,” August 13, 2019