Ever since I was a child I’ve had repeated dreams where I can fly. I literally just bend my legs and lean upward and I fly. At first there is a bit of an unsure feeling, but I quickly get the hang of it and delight in my ability to fly!
A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to attend a day long retreat/teaching with the Dalai Lama. He spoke of meditation within our current frenzied cultural context as a source of peace, focus and something that engenders compassion. He also spoke about the endless chatter that we all have going on in our minds, whether or not we are aware of it. He said: “Who wouldn’t want a break from all that every now and then!”
The other night I had another dream that I was able to fly. As always I woke up feeling sad that it was a dream and that I really can’t fly. Yet, for some reason, this particular dream of flying began to get connected with my meditation. Meditation is a way to fly on this side of life; it’s a taste of the total freedom and total weightlessness that we will experience – both a psychological weightlessness and a physical weightlessness. When one meditates, the deeper we go, the more unaware of our body and mind we are and, in a sense, we begin to fly! Some even say we get more in contact and at one with everything that is around us – because, as physicists say, everything that exists is simply wave energy vibrating at a certain frequency. This creates matter. When we meditate I believe we are in touch with this Energy (capital intentional, i.e., God) at more fundamental levels and so we begin to experience a freedom from this particular body and a unity with all that exists, all Energy – and in this sense, we fly!
Jesus said “the kingdom is at hand,” it’s here! What a blessing and what a relief that we can begin to experience the kingdom right here and now. I believe I can fly!
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!
Jonah 3: 1-10
If someone told you that if you didn’t stop doing something you would soon be dead, would you stop doing that thing which is destroying you? I think most of us, if given the chance would indeed stop and choose to live! Jonah called out to the people, telling them that if they didn’t change they would soon be dead; and the people quickly turned from their death dealing ways and chose life.
Most of the time, we don’t have a Jonah though. We don’t have someone telling us to stop some negative pattern of behavior so that we might experience the best Life has to offer. Or if we do, we take their call to us as a personal affront, instead of seeing it as a gesture of love and concern for our well being. Most of the time we go about our negative habits or patterns of thinking or behavior totally denying how they are affecting us and those around us.
Don’t you want to really live? Don’t you want to get out there and drink life in?
When we’re caught in some bad habit, some negative pattern it literally sucks the life out of us, doesn’t it? Think about some negative thinking you might have, some negative behavior, some ingrained bad habit. Doesn’t it sap the life out of you, not to mention those around you?
I believe that God wants us to live, wants us to drink life in and get rid of those things that hold us from doing just that. Lent then really isn’t about gloom and doom. It’s about rising from the graves that we’ve built for ourselves. It’s about naming the lie that this or that behavior is going to make me feel better; when in reality it’s sucking the life out of me! It’s about letting go of that which has kept us mired in winter’s lifelessness. It’s about taking some small step away from something which is killing us or those around us and stepping into a new springtime of living!
“I, the Lord your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go. If you would harken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river.” (See Isaiah 48: 17-19)
Certainly in Isaiah’s time the common belief was that if you were following God’s ways, you would be blessed. If you were ill, or poor, that meant you were a sinner. Jesus of course turned this belief upside down with such teachings as “blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn,” etc. For Jesus happiness had little if anything to do with material or physical goods – and herein lay the discovery of true joy! When we realize that happiness doesn’t come from any person, place or thing, but from within, then we are the happiest of people. In this sense, less might indeed be more!
It’s ironic to reflect on this when culturally and within many, if not most of our homes, there are growing expectations of this or that “gift.” Perhaps it might be good for us to reflect on what might truly give someone “happiness.” Is it this or that gift, this or that thing? Or is it an experience, presence, self giving that might engender a sense of deeper joy.
At times I think we all worship at the altars of false gods that fail to satisfy. These can be money, things, possessions, sex, the pursuit of a lover, power, prestige, etc. We all at times worship false gods. All of the above are not bad in and of themselves if they are in perspective and held for good use. But sometimes what happens is that these things, among others, become the focus of our lives. At these times we begin to worship false gods.
Today we might take some time to put things in perspective and think about what REALLY gives us a sense of satisfaction? When I am choosing to be there for others, when I am choosing to live in good ways, when I am thinking in positive ways instead of negative, when I choose compassion and kindness even when my mood is bad, when I respond instead of react . . . then I have an inner sense of peace and well being. Again, like yesterday, I think we are reminded to ask ourselves the question, what is the “kingdom,” what is the legacy that we are building in our lives? When all is said and done, how do I want to be remembered?
Yesterday I was speaking with a friend about the grace of awakening to a new way of living and responding to situations that people and Life throws at us. We spoke of our fascination with learning, in very practical ways, how to be happy, especially when things aren‘t going our way. We spoke of the joy of learning to let go of expectations and to not base one’s happiness on how another responds to us. In this conversation she kept saying, “I have so much to learn. I have such a long way to go to realize these things.” I encouraged her not to look at how much she has yet to learn or realize, but to celebrate what she has learned right now. If we keep the attention on how far we’ve yet to go, we’ll never get anywhere. But if we keep the focus on this moment and what we have learned, this moment will take us to the next, and the next. The important thing is that we continually do something to grow and learn.
Al-Anon has a litany called “Just For Today,” in which it highlights various simple things that I will do JUST TODAY. It keeps the focus on the present moment instead of the big picture. One of the things it says is: “Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration” (Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1972). Now, notice it doesn’t say I will read VOLUMES. It says I will read SOMETHING.
What one of us doesn’t want to be happy and to live somewhat peaceably in this life? What one of us wouldn’t want to learn secrets of living happily and peacefully even when life seemingly becomes very difficult? What a treasure that would be! Well, the good news is we can! We just have to stick with some daily learning. I heard it said years ago that if you throw enough mud against the wall, eventually some of it will stick. This is certainly an apt description of my learning process! If I read a little, meditate a little, am present a little and love a little, . . . eventually some of it will stick!
Throw a little mud against the wall today.
Once again, I’m not strictly speaking of finding a boyfriend, but happiness, the ever allusive happiness that we all seek.
Last night at a coffee shop I began reading a book called The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello. Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest and spiritual guide who, in his many books and conferences, brought together Eastern and Western spirituality. He himself was raised in India so was familiar with Eastern concepts. If you have not read anything by him or about him I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT! It’s amazing how very much in line he is with the thinking of Tolle, Dyer, Jung, Frankl and many others who speak of being free of ego attachments and realizing the grace of living happiness in this moment no matter what is happening around us. These people, I believe, like the Christ, have keys that can make a tremendous difference in living a happy, more peaceful life. The Way to Love is a very small volume, something you could carry in your pocket, but is packed with lots of insight and practical wisdom that can change the way you go about life! It’s published by Image Books, Doubleday.
Last night, on the heals of yesterday’s meditation, I read De Mello’s take on ever allusive happiness. He says we are programmed from birth to believe that we cannot be happy without things, that happiness lay somewhere in the future when I get this person, thing or place. Or we are programmed to believe that if we just change the situation and the people around us, then we’ll be happy, or when all our desires are fulfilled we’ll be happy. All of these are FALSE. It is only when we stop clinging to these things that we begin to experience what peace and happiness is. It is only when we let go of these things and simply live this moment and accept what is here and now that we can begin to live in a greater state of peace and happiness. For then we won’t waste a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to get this or that or to change this or that circumstance in our lives (See pp.5-12 The Way to Love) It’s difficult for me to put this in words, but I know what it feels like when I stop looking to the future for happiness, or some person, place of thing. I know what it is to experience peace and happiness when I accept interruptions to my day, or when my day hasn’t gone as I had planned, or when something seemingly bad happens. I know what it feels like when I simply accept that and stop resisting it.
I want to continue exploring this. I find myself being lead to read Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning which chronicles his experiences when he was in a concentration camp in World War II and how he found that even in such horrible and unspeakably inhumane circumstances, one could still be happy. Imagine the freedom!