In the musical Wicked, Elphaba, the “wicked” witch sings a song called “Defying Gravity.” In it she sings a wonderful line: “Unlimited, . . . My future is unlimited!” Later in the play she sings that line again, but instead of singing “unlimited,” having experienced some hard knocks, she sings “I’m limited.” However, despite the fact that she is feeling limited at that moment, she holds fast to her original vision of being “unlimited” and life is transformed for her.
How often we get bogged down with thoughts and feelings of our limitations. Instead of keeping our focus on our dreams and visions, we so often focus on the day to day things that we all must do to live in “reality.”
Does living in “reality” preclude us from feeling unlimited and keeping our focus there?
It is those who have not allowed themselves to be bogged down, or held down by the way things are that have been the movers and shakers in our world. It is those who have constantly stretched the limits imposed by “reality” who have created new spiritualities, new cures, new technologies and new ways of being. Where would we be without such unlimited thinkers?
I was reading Wayne Dyer’s new book Excuses Be Gone. In chapter 4 he reminds us that we are unlimited. “Know that you are a soul with a body rather than the reverse” (p.75). That is, our souls are from eternity and are eternal – where there are no limitations. Remember this! If I could be or do anything I would want, without any current limitations imposed on me – what would it be? Ask yourself this question. And when you get the answer, this is what we need to keep before our eyes – not the limitations of “reality!”
I have so NOT been into my zazen sitting/meditation practice lately! The sweetness has disappeared and sometimes it takes everything for me to stay with the meditation and not bolt! I simply don’t want to do it! I’m not feeling anything. It doesn’t seem like I’m getting anything out of it.
It’s precisely during times like these when I should stay with it.
Developing any kind of disciplined practice is countercultural. We live in a culture which basically says: when ya stop feeling it – move on to something else. That’s why we live in a “throw away” society, where we see much brokenness in relationships.
Whether it is in my job, my writing, my meditation practice, my relationship/s, my music practice – it’s precisely when the going gets tough, boring or unfulfilling that I should stick with it. Just because I’m not “feeling” it doesn’t mean that nothing’s happening. Just become I’m not “feeling” it doesn’t mean I should stop my practice or acts of love toward another. Something magical actually happens when we stick with it.
In the book Benedict’s Dharma: Buddhists Reflect on the Rule of St. Benedict Norman Fisher, a Zen priest, married man and co-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center for five years says this: “After going through a time when you don’t enjoy your practice (add here job, relationship, exercise etc), you learn that the tough time is always where the reward comes in.” Somehow in the process of sticking with something or someone a greater depth, fulfillment and freedom is developed within us.
So, even though I don’t wanna, . . .can I keep trudging along and discover the reward that exists on the other side of boredom?
NOTE: I meant to post this on Christmas Eve, but a very good friend of mine had a stroke at the age of 40 the day before Christmas Eve. He’s only 40 years old. He remains in critical condition, but is showing signs of improvement. Please keep him, his partner and family in positive thought and prayer. Thanks!
Last week I stopped in a drug store and noticed that the Christmas stuff was already marked off 50%. I had no intention of buying yet another Christmas decoration; but I almost felt as if I was lead to look. In the midst of the plethora of decorations were some simple, painted wood block words. One of them said: “Believe.” I felt something as I picked it up, an energy, . . . and ended up buying it. It now sits front and center above my fireplace, and as I pray and meditate in the morning I look at it. As I walk through the living room a hundred times a day, I look at it. It becomes a mantra, a reminder – “Believe!” “Watch your thoughts.” “Your beliefs create reality.” I’ve just begun reading Wayne Dyer’s new book called Excuses Be Gone, in which he talks about scientific studies that have been done which prove that what we believe can literally create our reality, bring healing and affect our lives, positively or negatively – depending on what our beliefs are.. Scientific proof!
I can’t help but think that I was lead to buy that wood block word. I will keep it in my home year round, as a reminder.
Again, some, including myself might find a lot of the movies, songs and hype that surrounds us this time of year a bit sweet and syrupy. But it is good that collectively this time of year, many people are lead to positive thoughts and feelings – and frankly I’ve seen examples time and again where such thoughts create reality. I have seen and experienced kindness and self giving that is admirable. What a grace that we have this time of year that so many humans are thinking good thoughts and believing good things. What a great thing it would be if we carried such thoughts and beliefs through the rest of the year. Imagine the reality that collectively we could create in our world!
I love the song “Thankful,” made popular by Josh Groban. The song is written by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager and Richard Page. The text of the refrain and the music wonderfully express our desire to turn our attention to what is good and hopeful:
“So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can’t see”
I hope that the little wood block word that I was lead to serves as a reminder throughout the year. Imagine the world we could bring into being if the good will that is felt this time of year was always in our thoughts!
As I continue “Just Sitting” – my Zazen practice – I remain intrigued by what it’s doing, yet at the same time trying to be unattached from expectation that anything will come of it. This simple (and not so simple!) opening of the body, spirit and mind connects us directly to Source Energy, God, Spirit and when you think about it, that’s freak’n amazing!! I find myself more aware, looking to see what this silence will bring.
Most of the time I find it difficult not to think, and simply concentrate on my breathing. The mind, the ego will not easily shut up. It does NOT want to give up control! Yet, what a relief it is to stop the incessant chatter within! I can only imagine what this must do to the brain. I can’t help but believe that in the process of this silence of the mind, the brain is literally making new connections. I am convinced that in this silence I am more lined up with Source, and Divine will becomes my will. In this silence the ego is shut up and I somehow feel more directly connected to God – I let go of control. I get out of the way. Maybe that’s what “let go, and let God” means. Normally when I give up control, I find myself, at least apprehensive, if not downright fearful. Yet as a result of this silence I find myself looking forward in hopeful expectation to see what will unfold in my life – and that of the world (because it‘s not just about my life, but affecting the world). Instead of a problem to be solved, life is becoming a Mystery to be lived. I look forward to the journey!
Today I was meditating, and, as often is the case, my mind gets going and I want to get up and start getting something done that I’m thinking about. Sometimes it is “work” just to sit there. Funny huh? “Work” just to sit there?
The White Robed Monks call this “Just Sitting,” a practice adopted from Zen, where one simply sits 15 minutes a day, concentrating on the breath and clearing the mind of all thought. When we do this our mind, our ego revolts. That little voice in our heads just doesn’t want to leave us alone.
What struck me this morning again is that when I want to heed that voice within, when I want to get up and start moving and stop this sitting – I am not trusting! In essence, when I break the meditation and start running, I am saying that I trust more in myself than I do in Divine Power. My experience, however, says that when I stay with this “work,” when I simply sit and make an empty space in my mind, I connect directly with Source Energy, God, the Spirit. Suddenly my work is given energy and much more is accomplished – and somehow – directly as a result of thinking no-thing, my thoughts are clarified and my life is given meaning and direction. It’s like I have suddenly been plugged in!
Can I trust enough to stay with the silent embrace and make a space in my life to connect with Source? Try it. And see what happens!
Hold on. Ya never know what Life is going to bring!
When we find ourselves in a difficult place we often feel as if things will never get better. And sometimes, depending on the circumstance we find ourselves absolutely devastated. We just need to hang in there. Something’s bound to pop up. Even in the devastation of death itself, we are given visions of hope beyond this life.
“A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse.” Again, Isaiah places this positive vision before the people, at a time when everything that they knew and loved was destroyed, cut down to the root. Instead of wallowing in the pain, he insists that this is not the end! What seems dead will come to life. Better days are ahead!
When we are going through a difficult time, it’s hard to believe that things will get better. But if we just hold on, hang in there, they do. I sometimes think of an old friend of mine. Devastated from a break up of one he loved so much, he was unable to look beyond that present moment and he was found dead in his garage, his car motor running. He was in his early 20’s. I wonder where life would have taken him had he decided to live. I know he would have done well. He was a bright, capable and good looking young man. I am certain that within months after that breakup, life would have gone on and I’m sure that he would have done so well in life and in love.
We just need to hang in there. Eventually something’s gonna pop up! “A shoot SHALL sprout from the stump . . .”
In many Christian churches that great reading from Isaiah is heard during this season where we are given a vision of a time of peace and reconciliation where the wolf will be the guest of the lamb and the baby play by the cobra’s den. Isaiah envisions this after the Babylonian exile, precisely at a time when the people were devastated, exiled from their own land – everything familiar to them gone – destroyed. Instead of wailing, Isaiah places before the people a positive vision and from this they gain hope. Is it all a bunch of idealistic, pie in the sky rubbish? (See Isaiah 11:1-10) To be honest, when I am going through a difficult time and a friend tries to point me to what is and can be positive, it sometimes drives me nuts. But in the end, if I don’t come to some sense of future hope, I am lost.
“Without a vision, the people perish.” So says Proverbs. And isn’t it true?
Without a vision, a framework of where we are going, a sense of purpose and meaning, something to hope for – we whither and die; maybe not physically, but psychologically and spiritually.
What is the vision that I set before my mind’s eye each day? Is it positive, or is it more focused on what is wrong with my life and the world? When I focus my thoughts on what is good, all that there is for which to be grateful – then I am lifted and my living, loving and working are given energy. When my focus is negative, I perish.