Friday, November 28, 2014

Watering Thorns

Those who are scattered, simplify your worrying lives. There is one righteousness: Water the fruit trees and don’t water the thorns.

Be generous to what nurtures the spirit and God’s luminous reason-light. Don’t honor what causes dysentery and knotted-up tumors.

Don’t feed both sides of yourself equally. The spirit and the body carry different loads and require different attentions.

Too often we put saddlebags on Jesus and let the donkey run loose in the pasture.

Don’t make the body do what the spirit does best, and don’t put a big load on the spirit that the body could carry easily.

Rumi, the 13th century Sufi mystic, talks about the ego without ever mentioning it. We do water the thorns in our ego, and forget to water the fruit it protects. The ego is designed to skim the top level of our reality and form a cohesive relationship between the self and the physical environment. This incredible tool of consciousness is capable of perceiving much more than we allow. Our fears, superstitions and ignorance limit the scope of its power.

The ego can’t directly experience psychological experiences that occur outside of the boundaries of our beliefs, but it can become aware of them on an intellectual basis. We don’t accept our intuitions because intuition touches the ego in a very annoying way. Our intuitions attack our reality with unproven weapons, and the naked ego runs for cover.

The purpose of the ego is physical awareness. But when it becomes a hard shell full of antiquated beliefs and fears, it turns into a prison that snuffs out important data from the inner self. It is up to us to coat our reality with our intuitions, and then feel that coat blend with the ego and other portions of the self. When that happens, we are watering the fruit instead of the thorns.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

We Act Out

Ich Liebe Meines Wesens Dunkelstunden

I love the dark hours of my being. My mind deepens into them. There I can find, as in old letters, The days of my life, already lived, And held like a legend and understood

Then the knowing comes: I can open To another life that’s wide and timeless.

So I am sometimes like a tree Rustling over a gravesite And making real the dream Of the one its living roots Embrace :

A dream once lost Among sorrows and songs.

Rainer Maria Rilke, the incredible 20th-century German poet, wrote Ich Liebe Meines Wesens Dunkelstunden. The poem was published in Rilke’s 1905 work, Book of Hours. Rilke was fascinated with dreaming. His work comes from the world of dreams. For the most part, dreams are a reality void of ego interference, and that is one of the ingredients that makes the dream world so special. We don’t call it reality, but it is another reality. We act out different probabilities while dreaming, and we try out these alternatives in that mode of knowing.

The fact that we foresee future possibilities is certainly not in our accepted belief structure, but it is an important aspect of dreaming. Our inner identity is constantly acting out what we don’t accept. The days of our life are on one limb of a multi-limb tree. The other limbs contain probabilities that play out in other realities. The dark hours of our being are daylight to the probable self that knows how to experience the reality within the dream world.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Bog

The Source

The undulating wood slopes down To the rhythm of mountain streams... If you want to find the source, You have to go up, against the current. Break through, search, don't yield, You know it must be here somewhere. Where are you? Source where are you?!

Silence... Stream, woodland stream, Tell me the secret Of your origin! (Silence- why are you silent? With what care you have hidden the mystery Of your origin!)

Let me wet my lips In spring water, To feel its freshness, Its life-giving freshness.

The Source is from The Poetry of John Paul II, Roman Triptych Meditations. We tend to look for our Source in one particular place. That place is a bog filled with deeply engraved beliefs. But the Source of that bog is not in the mud of those beliefs, so we try to dance our way out of this bottomless bog. As the dance progresses, the spirit and the flesh mingle like mating water drops in a loving current. The innate music in our genes mimics the sound of that current.

As the bog disappears in this encapsulating current, we disappear with it. But we're not lost. We are in every drop of the invisible bog and in every musical note of the recurring current.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Art Of Drinking Tea

Okakura Kakuzo in his book, The Book of Tea explains the art in drinking tea. There is art in everything we do, especially when we focus on the task at hand. There is beauty in the simple tasks, but we overlook the beauty in order to move to the next task. Kakuzo brings us back in focus with his amazing attention to detail. Life is in the details and happiness is in the art of knowing how to appreciate them.

The art of drinking tea is a normal, secular, common day affair; so also is sitting in a room with friends. And yet, consider what happens when you resolve to pay full attention to every aspect of the act of drinking tea while sitting in a room with friends, selecting first your best, most appropriate bowls, setting these down in the prettiest way, using an interesting pot, sharing with a few friends who go well together, and providing things for them to look at: a few flowers perfectly composed, so that each will shine with its own beauty and the organization of the group also will be radiant: a picture in accord, selected for the occasion: and perhaps an amusing little box, to open, shut and examine from all sides.

Then, in preparing, serving, and drinking, every phase of the action is rendered in such a gracefully functional manner that all present may take joy in it, the common affair might well be said to have been elevated to the status of a poem. And, in fact, the writing of a sonnet, words are used that are quite normal, secular, common day tools. Just as in poetry, so in tea: certain rules and manners have been developed as a consequence of ages of experience, and through the mastery of these, immensely heightened powers of expression are achieved. For art imitates nature in its manner of operation, so does tea.

The guest approaches by the garden path and must stoop through the entrance. He makes obeisance to the picture or flower arrangement, to the singing kettle, and takes his place on the floor. The simplest object, framed by the controlled simplicity of the teahouse, stands out in mysterious beauty, its silence holding the secret of temporal existence. Each guest is permitted to complete the experience in relation to himself. The members of the company thus contemplate the universe in miniature and become aware of their hidden fellowship with immortals. The great tea masters were concerned to make of the divine wonder an experienced moment; then out of the teahouse the influence was carried into the home; and out of the home instilled into the nation.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Choices And Tweaks

We are all discerners of spirits. That diagnosis lies aloft in our life or unconscious power, The intercourse of society, its trade, its religion, its friendships, its quarrels, is one wide, judicial investigation of character.

In full court, or in small committee, or confronting face to face, accuser and accused, men offer themselves to be judged. Against their will, they exhibit those decisive trifles by which character is read.

But who judges? And what? Not our understanding. We do not read them by learning a craft. No; the wisdom of the wise man consists herein, that he does not judge them; he lets them judge themselves and merely reads and records their own verdict.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote those thoughts in his 1838 essay, The Over-soul. We like to judge. It’s in our DNA. Our culture is based on judgment. Religion, science, and politics based their truths on judgments. We are the judge and jury, and we expect to be found guilty of not judging correctly. We find solace in those that have been judged the same way we have. We become part of the mass judgment and live as prisoners in our self-made mind shackles.

As Emerson points out, we live our preconceived verdict. We become what we are told we are. We wrestle with the fear of failure and fumble with the edicts of righteousness. We skip the sentence of sanity and jump into the paragraph of distorted thoughts. Nothing serves us worse than the comfort of our confused fantasies. Life does fall from the trifles by which our character is categorized.

The madness of this behavior rests in the lockbox of our beliefs. What sanity gives to one is madness to another. Each box of beliefs is set but is easily unset. The message we send from that box is one of judgment, and we build from it. Judgment changes with every choice and blends with every tweak. Choices and tweaks give us the power to discern our preconceived verdict.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Courage to be is the ethical act in which man affirms his own being in spite of those elements of his existence which conflict with his essential self-affirmation.

Paul Tillich, the 19th-century theologian and philosopher, wrote that thought in his book The Courage to Be. We all have courage. What we lack is affirmation. Affirmation is an elusive commodity, or we believe it is. We learn so we can affirm our knowledge, we vote to affirm our convictions, we marry to affirm our love, and we die to affirm our existence. We are on a perpetual quest to find and affirm our self-truth.

Conflicts surround us; opposites engage us and change deceives us. We climb the mental monkey bars of life, and expect to reach the top, but there is no top. There’s just another rung to climb or fall from. Both directions contain courage, but our preconceived notions break that courage and stuff it in a box of misguided perceptions. Our courage is then covered with the film of premeditated control. Our essential self-worth is buried without a funeral.

Courage is the ability to rise from the dead expectations that float through our mental war zone. Courage is the nature of all consciousness. It has no start or finish; no expiration date or instructions. It is an innate quality of our consciousness. All we have to do is realize we use it in every moment; in every experience and every act. Courage is the energy that fuels our existence and the dangling participle within life.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mental Jigsaw Puzzle

Step out onto the Planet Draw a circle 100 feet round.

Inside the circle are 300 things Nobody understands and, Maybe nobody ever sees.

Lew Welsh was a member of a trio of beat poets. Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen and Lew met at Reed College. When Gary and Philip became famous in 1955, Lew was in Chicago recovering from a nervous breakdown.

Welsh’s poem is a mind tickler. Trying to absorb everything around us is a difficult task. We compensate for our lack by living in a world of familiar things. We accept what we believe and throw everything else in a pile of uncertainty. We rarely dig through that pile. Our individual world is a partial glance of consciousness. There are other worlds around us, but we choose not to focus on them unless something triggers our awareness. Awareness is a complicated companion. It’s rooted in a mental jigsaw puzzle that contains much more than three hundred things. We don’t see the pieces in the puzzle until we acknowledge them.

Our jigsaw puzzle is constantly changing. We like to think we have a working knowledge of the puzzle, but we don’t. We wrap our ego in a shroud of camouflage, and avoid a lot of pieces. Our jigsaw puzzle always has an element of blank in it. We accept that element using faith. Faith is our "I don't understand the puzzle card." Faith gives the self permission to avoid what we don’t understand. Faith is the piece that no one sees and rarely understands.