Cleaning out the Books

Bernie asked me when is the last time I cleaned out my books. The numbers on the shelves in our basement are reaching absurdity. What I didn’t say is that I write in my books and I don’t really want to give them away in that condition. I woke this morning thinking, “You used a pencil for a reason…now start erasing.” One book a day…in a month I could rid myself of 30 books.

Today, I pulled off the shelf Mysticism of Now: The Art of Being Alive by Rafael Catala’. I read it in 2019, according to one notation. Judging from the underline texts, I really got a lot out of it. Judging from my life today, much of what I read slipped away before I could grab hold. Here are some of its treasures:

When a student begins to teach what the teacher has taught him, this is called Creative Continuity. (I am thinking this is exactly what the New Testament is.)

As we age, life is no longer measured by years, but by intensity.

We take care of (family, our business, and everything else) because it is the activity of God…then life becomes very simple…”to be about my Father’s business” emerges in us.

God appears as your experience. (I really have to work on this one).

When we come to the end of the road with reasoning, we stop, and then the spiritual fulfillment begins to manifest.

Sit down and meditate…then get on with your day.

SILENCE is an act of service…is the absence of controlling. 

Each one of us is God’s project to be expressed as service. 

The above is only a scant measure of the  wisdom in  this book. I put a note in the book: “This book needs to be given to a seeker…Keep until one comes along.”

I am not sure this is activity booof erasing is going to achieve its purpose.



More Walking With Rumi

I am taking another look at the poem, The Guest House, by Rumi that I posted yesterday. I see it challenging me at a deeper, more personal level today. (That is how poetry is, how all art is). I would like to suggest that the unexpected guest is one’s self.  I think I will do a rewrite of the poem as I ponder this idea. You can refer to yesterday’s blog to see the original.

This being human is like a guest house.
Each day, a new part of my self arrives.

Sometimes joy, sometimes depression as I witness
a meanness in me.
These awarenesses are unexpected…
I don’t know where they come from.

I try to welcome them all, even if they bring me sorrow.
Some have been violent, a horror to admit
that these aspects of myself exist.
But they seem to come for a reason at a particular time,
perhaps because I am more open and less fearful.
They seem to come with a goal…
“Look me in the eye” they say.
“Stare me down”.

Early on, when I would let such visitors come in,
I would fall into darkness and shame.
But now (who could guess it would come to this?)
There is laughter and gratitude.

Another character defect swept out the door!
Another apology to make…but I know I can handle  that!

Oh, I am so full of gratitude!
Where did I get the courage?
From others who have gone before me.

And lest I forget:
For not all my guests are villains.
Some bring sweet truths.

Rumi and The News

Wayne Dyer in his book There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem shared a poem by Rumi that spoke to me this morning:


This being human is a guest house:
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house.
Empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
For some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing,
And invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.
(The Essential Rumi; translated by Coleman Barks; HarperCollins, 1995;p. 104)

Every morning as I pray, I close with thoughts about the day ahead. What will I hope to accomplish and who might cross my path as I walk? I ask my Higher Power to grace me with love to show each person.

This poem, though, causes me to extend my idea of who I might meet. When I eat my breakfast I usually turn on the TV to catch up on the news. I listen to liberal stations but that doesn’t mean that I approve hook, line, and sinker with what or how they are reporting the news. I don’t know about you, but I think first…then look to learn more, to broaden my beliefs. I also am open to changing my beliefs. I hold on to the world like a loose garment, as my friend Jesus taught me to do.

The poem makes me wonder if I should include these faces on the screen with the same gratefulness that I hope for as I ponder the check-out person in the store or a nurse at the clinic. Those faces are not stickers on a plane of glass, after all. They are people who come to the microphone with knowledge, ignorance, love, fear. I can tell by their voices how strongly they feel about what they are saying. Sometimes I note their feeling more than their words.

I know that not everything said on TV news is true. Even-well meaning commentators  speak too quickly before all the info is in. “Breaking News” is the name of the game. I have to be careful as I listen just as I do every time I encounter anyone. Rumi might suggest I look more deeply at those who come into my view each day. It is difficult when I fear a person might be leading others astray, but that shouldn’t cause me to discard them. God put them in front of me for a reason, perhaps to pray for them, perhaps to appreciate them, perhaps to worry about them as persons.

There was no TV when Rumi walked the earth. A town-crier, I suppose, got the news out. He at least could ponder “the other” as a flesh and blood person standing on a haybale in the town square. His spirituality didn’t have to extend very far.

We’ll see how I do applying Rumi’s thoughts to the “criers” of the 20th century.

Thought for the Day

A friend commended a delightful little book Brother Lawrence: A Christian Zen Master. Lawrence was a Carmelite monk born in France in the 17th century. He left no biography or theological treatise. He considered himself to be clumsy and awkward…an ordinary kind of guy. This book presents some Zen sayings alongside words of Brother Lawrence. I really related to this one:

Brother Lawrence: “I can’t always maintain my focus on God, of course. I’ll suddenly discover that I’ve barely given God a thought for a good long while. Usually, what gets my attention is that I’ll notice how wretched I’m feeling-and then I’ll realize I’ve forgotten God’s presence. But I don’t worry about it much. I just turn back to God immediately. And having realized how miserable I am when I forget God, my trust in God is always that much greater.”

Mahaparinirvana Sutra: “When the moon sets, people say that the moon has disappeared: and when the moon rises, they say that the moon has appeared. In fact, the moon neither goes nor comes, but shines continually in the sky. Buddha is exactly like the moon; He neither appears nor disappears; He only seems to do so out of love for the people that He may teach them.”


Two Kingdoms and Politics

For those who have read my book, The Memorial of Jesus, you know that I make a distinction between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Earth. We live in both at the same time. Remember when Jesus taught his follower’s to pray?  He mentioned these two and suggests we pray that the Kingdom of God come to the Earth.

That brings me to politics. I do, now and then, talk about politics in this blog, but I have always tried to do so without getting into personalities, but rather principles. Today, I would like to touch on politics in terms of kingdom.

When I was a kid, we took a class in civics. I don’t know if it is being taught today, but observing how people talk about politics today, I doubt it. Civics taught me how government works. What I am recalling today is the definition of politics: “the work of the people”. Interesting that the word “work” is used implying that politics is not an easy thing. Like any job you take on, the more people involved in getting it done, the messier it gets. Lots of opinions. Lots of different abilities. The bigger the project, the worse it gets.

If everyone reads the same instructions and if roles are well defined, that should make things go more smoothly. A constitution helps when we are talking about running a country. Our United States Constitution has lots of instructions and definition of roles and duties. I can’t say things are going very smoothly right now. I even wonder how many of those in leadership have even read the Constitution.

Managing a group of people…a LARGE group like the population  of a nation…can be messy indeed. But I maintain that this is all about the earthly kingdom that Jesus was talking about. Remember he said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”. By golly, pay them taxes but don’t get the two kingdom’s mixed up. Open your eyes…know the difference.

I love the phrase that was popular a few years ago: “What would Jesus do?” I would suggest that Jesus would do exactly what he implied in his Caesar statement. He would go along with the government as long as it didn’t come into conflict with the Kingdom of God. In fact, I think he understood that living the Kingdom of God within the earthly kingdom is how the Lord’s Prayer finds its fulfillment. But again, don’t get the two mixed up. Know the difference.

Jesus, and the Christian community that followed later, were pacifists. For them, all are children of the same heavenly Father and pacifism is a character of the Kingdom of God. Sometimes, when a person follows this pacifist path, it has led to death imposed by the other kingdom.

For those of us who follow Jesus, we have to ask ourselves which kingdom we are living in at any given moment. Are we bringing the Kingdom of God into the matters of the Kingdom of Earth? We need to pay attention to legislators who speak for us…which kingdom are they serving?  We needn’t judge them as persons, but we can open our eyes and measure the work according the values of the Heavenly Kingdom.


Discovering David

In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned a few books I have read of late but I would like to tell you about another that I read that I have hesitated to mention in past blogs. I am talking about a series of books written by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. Many have written about consciousness but Hawkins did something unique that I found fascinating and very pleasing to my analytical brain. He put consciousness into a grid, or levels, where one can look and find lower and higher levels of consciousness explained.

This is can be a trap for people like me. Whether one is talking about spirituality or intelligence, if you present me with the idea of levels, I will see myself in a higher level. Hardly humble of me, this tendency more likely stems from a low self-esteem than a higher one. It seems that the higher my self-esteem progressed, the lower I saw myself on these scales. Humility, I am learning, is not seeing yourself as better or worse than others but as just being one of a tribe. Neither good or bad, one just is. Welcome to the human race.

I came across Hawkins work at a time when a friend was going through some serious emotional times. I tried to be a good listener and once in a while I would comment on what I suspected was happening to her. She seemed to really grasp what I was offering and we would part with her having a new resolve to think or act differently. But lo, I would talk with her a week later and she seemed to be in the same darkness as before. In other words, she seemed to be grasping an idea with her head but her heart was left in the dust. This I understood, but what I failed to understand is why she seemed to be so stuck.

I came upon Hawkins book at my daughter’s house when I was staying there for a mini-vacation. The odd title was The Eye of the I. Hawkins has written at least 8 books on the stages of consciousness each coming into the idea from a different angle. Later I would read others. This one was about the difference between the ego self and the higher or true self and how to tell the difference. I was pleased to see that his scale fit in perfectly with my 12 step program and with my spiritual beliefs. The most important thing is that it helped me see that my friend was operating out of her ego self instead of her true self.

Transitioning for my friend took time and I had very little control in the matter, except to continue to listen and share what little wisdom I could find. But reading Hawkins did wonders for my own growth. It helped me to view darkness in the world from a different perspective. As a result, I am less fearful. It helped me to recognized signs of growth in people in journey, including me in my own growth. I am a lot less judgmental and controlling than I once was. I also see light in the world and found that in the very naming of light, light grows stronger.

I hope to share more of Hawkins work in the future. In his work, I find hope, serenity, and a greater capacity to love.

Politics in its Rightful Perspective

I had an awakening this past week. I realized I had politics in the wrong perspective. My goodness, I have been confusing the two kingdoms, heavenly and earthly.

In high school I took civics. I don’t know if this is still taught in schools…it sure should be. A citizen of any country should understand how his government functions. I recall the definition of politics: The work of the People. Yes, I learned the definition, but I failed to grasp its meaning. Work brings to mind words like effort and labor, trial and error, differences of opinion on how to do something, the dangers of cutting corner. It is healthy for me to look at the work of politics in the same way. It is less judgmental. When we are less strong-willed, judgmental, and cooperative, outcomes tend to be better for all. Working together. Many hands make light work.

More important than all of the above is the awareness that politics is about the kingdom of earth, the one Jesus suggests we ought to penetrate with the other kingdom. “Thy kingdom, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I realize that even as people make political decisions they hope will make life better for others, they are still operating in the earthly kingdom. Bringing the Kingdom to earth is bringing into each moment the spirit of love. It is transformation from within. The reality of the earthly work is still there, but one can look into it with the new eyes.

I would compare it to an adult watching children play. When a child pushes another to keep them from taking their toy, we don’t go into a panic. We see a learning experience in process. We are looking from a lifetime of experience and an understanding of child development. This is a perspective I need to have. A political idea put forth may be flawed as hell, but it is just an idea. It may be tainted by greed and power mongering,  but from a higher place, one can observe like a parent expecting lessons to be learn, sometimes the hard way.

I may sound like I am placing myself higher than others. Worse, I may sound like I am diminishing the serious harm people are doing to each other, individuals and whole communities because of bad legislative decisions. I know. I know.

I am only a member of the human community. I live the sins of the world every day, inside myself. I have done harm to others by stupid decisions. I have struggled with the same pride and greed I can accuse any legislator of. The only difference is the the scope of influence.

I can also be a channel of God’s love…this is the calling of all. It is our purpose for being here. Bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. Be free of judgment, pray for transformation for oneself and others and for the whole country. Mourn the pain humans cause one another.

The earthly life is messy. We can’t fix it but we can do something about one part of it…ourselves. And we can assist others who seek to change. One day, one moment, at a time.