Nirvana is the removal of all notions and concepts so that reality can reveal herself fully to you.

Thich Nhat Hanh, in no death, no fear

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Most of us have felt the experience of being unwelcomed.  Some in families. Some in social settings.  The workplace.  In our neighborhood.

But is it ever the case that one can to made to feel unwelcome by another?  By anyone or any group?  No, not really.

No human controls welcome or not-welcome.  This is the power and authority of the Creator.  And, your creation, your conception and birth is the welcome – sacred acts are not undone by another human being or a group of human beings.

You are born, called into being by Being itself.  You cannot be unwelcome, no more than you can be un-created.

Ah, but you live among the unenlightened and they are ignorant – unaware of being/Being.  In ignorance they act.  They are to be ignored.

In their unenlightened state, their acts purport to “reject” being and Being.

Their conduct is a nullity, an absurdity – it has no effect, especially on The Enlightened.

There is no “unwelcome.”

Shalom.

* * *

Note - As always your comments are welcome.  Good day, you princes of Maine.  You kings of New England.

We do not hear much about prophets in secular culture.  Yet, every age needs and does have prophets.

Why do we not hear about prophets today?  It is likely because we are less cognizant of spirituality and our spiritual existence.

We are, today, more material, largely preoccupied and engaged in tasks virtually every waking moment of everyday.  In that regime, we act without reflection and any self-examination is usually of the very limited ideological variety – more the tool of those who argue adoption of their preference than a way to truth or wisdom.

Why does each age need prophets?

Prophets call us to our better selves.  They remind us of who we are when we are at our best, and they call us to excellence.

Prophets call us to think, to re-examine, to introspection and out of passivity, slumber, complacency and the status quo.  They critique the culture and its norms.  They ignite our dreams of who we can be.  They speak with candor about our limitations and our untapped talents and legitimate longings.

Prophets are visionaries.  And, they speak bravely for they challenge us out of love for the human person and what can be.

Prophets lean against institutions and are, as one might expect, often unwelcome.  They live a courageous and lonely life.  They speak of unpleasant truths and show folly for what it is.  How they anger the small ones, so often “in charge.”

Prophets pave the way to progress, their words of caution are warnings and their passion inspiring.  They have a penetrating intellect and deploy a surgical precision in their discourse.

Seek to hear the words of prophets.  Their absence in culture tells you there are unacknowledged, fatal risks at hand.

Shalom.

“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’  But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God … But let your statement be, ‘Yes, Yes’ or “No, No’; anything beyond this is evil.”

Matt 5:33, 34, 37

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The Old Testament story of Jephthah is timelessly instructive.  (Judg 11:29-40)

In that story Jephthah was to lead his people into battle with the Ammonites and prior to battle he made a pledge to God that if victory was won he would offer in sacrifice the first thing that comes out of his door after victory.  Sadly for Jephthah, his only daughter was first to greet him after his victory.

What are we to learn from this story?

Jephthah did not trust in God; his pledge or vow was evidence of his doubt, his lack of trust in God.  He was, in effect, trying to coax God into an outcome he wanted.  Doubt, you see, can subvert our trust of God and weaken our relationship with God, not God’s relationship with us.  Think about it: Can we coax God into action?  No.  Such a notion is an absurdity.

Vows are not by themselves magic passageways to God.

No, relationship with God is far more personal and far more demanding. Pledges notwithstanding, relationship with God is a one-on-one proposition, an existential challenge.  You, the individual God made, are called into the deep of life and the depth of an eternal relationship with God which results from a life deeply and fully experienced and lived.

There are no magic shortcuts, no special exemptions.  Yet many act as if they have discovered one.

Jephthah surely thought he had one.  He did not.

Lest we misunderstand the serious consequences of a Jephthah “bargain” with God – such a pledge is itself a corruption of the soul, a way of ignoring the depth of relationship which God offers each of us.

Think about it.  Dive into a relationship with God.  Most around you, will nary approach the water’s edge.  You can be different.

Shalom.

 

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at him.

Sidney Greenberg

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We all experience adversity.  This has been true since man first appeared. How we understand adversity determines how we deal with adversity.

The stoic philosopher Epictetus tells us: “It is difficulties that show us what men are.”  His view: difficulties are present to toughen you and strengthen you.  His fellow stoic Seneca offered this: God (Zeus) does not make a pet of a good man, but tests him and hardens him and fits him to the task he has been called to do.

Each saw that God prepared us for the life tasks we would encounter.  Each of us, in this view, has a divine purpose.

Few things teach us like adversity.  For those who hide from adversity: only weakness and estrangement from God.

Growing up poor I learned that one must make something good and useful of everything – especially poverty and the hardship it brings.

Yes, make a firm foundation of the bricks others heave at you.  Adversity is a gift … if you consider it correctly and use it wisely.

Shalom.

 

… Mary Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb

… Jesus said to her, “Woman why are you weeping?” …

” … go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “

Jn 20: 1,15,17

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We long for perfection.  We desire for goodness.  But these are not to be found through the efforts of mere mortals.  There is but One Perfect Thing and it is God.

Proof of this Perfection is in the Resurrection.

In belief we can touch Perfection.  In disbelief our earthly search is in vain.

Human existence is full of imperfection and frustration, and disappointment follows, hurt as well – lasting hunt, the kind that is embedded in the heart and in our unconscious, the kind that keeps you unwittingly off-stride, and without rest.

You have the One Perfect Thing.  Do you believe?  And, do you act on that belief?  Do you live life in belief?

Your choice.  Peace or discord?

Shalom.

May this Easter change your life forever.

Nothing on their own have your arms ever done,

the movements of your feet are caused

by waves He stirred.

St. Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582

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In this day of darkness when the tomb sits and waits for tomorrow, think about what St. Teresa of Avila says: we are not the authors we think we are, we are not the initiators we believe we are.

We are not the Prime Mover.

We are but set in motion like a leaf in the wind, or dusk in the air, molecules a-busy in our Other-created existence.

Today is a day for humility and for gratitude.  Aren’t all days just like today?

Shalom.

TO SEE AS GOD SEES

It is your destiny to see as God sees,

to know as God knows,

to feel as God feels.

How is this possible?  How?

Because divine love cannot deny its very self.

Meister Eckhart, 1260-1328

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” … to see as God sees …”  Yes, our destiny.  Just as the 13th Century Dominican monk and mystic Meister Eckhart says.

And this means to see amid the darkness for when light declines Light appears.  There is, you see, no harm, no malevolence, no bigotry, no ignorance, no pride, no exclusion, no injustice, no torture, no killing, no crucifixion that can block out the Light.

Fear not.  Neither need you cry.  Rather, live in faith and see as God sees. That is your destiny. Receive it.

… the greatest gift

God can give is His own experience.

Shalom.

A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and in many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must be his own.

Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1860)

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To be human we must acquire others, take them into ourselves – into our heart and our soul.

This is not often done for it requires leaving ourselves and our own experience, desires, prejudices and plans in favor of the life of another, or others.  Few seem able to make the journey from self to other.

Why is that?

Well, to make that journey one has had to have come to know oneself in a full and honest exploration and come to care implicitly for the life of others, more so than for our own life.  The dynamic is this: seeing yourself you see others, being grateful for the life you have you value the life of others – you value life itself.

Yes, encountering those with this disposition is not common, and that is a sad situation – especially among the faithful.

Cherish those who care to acquire the pain you know and the joy for which you long.  In those few, you have encountered a vessel of the Divine.

Shalom.

… the devil took Him to the Holy City, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.  For it is written:

He will command His angels concerning you, and with their hands they will support you lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

Mt 4:5-6

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The above is from the Temptation of Christ and is the second temptation in which Satan calls on Christ to use His power to garner attention to Himself so that His cause may be known to others.  It is, I suppose, the temptation to celebrity, to public notoriety and public esteem.

But of what use is celebrity to God?  To those who believe?  What can celebrity provide which is not already in the possession of those who believe?

Celebrity conforms us to the world.  It says: I am no one without notice, without the notice of others.  It dismisses God and God’s creation of us.  It assassinates the Creator, at least in our mind it does so.  Perhaps in the soul as well.

Satan was making this implicit argument: God will not be heard without celebrity?  And this: God needs a megaphone.  Headlines help.  God needs a little power-enhancing, a PR coup.  God does best when part of the news cycle.

Such thinking confines God to our small screens, to the limits of this world, its time and its small devises – and smaller heart.

No, only carnival “huxters,” governments, politicians, celebrities and advertisers need such “razzle dazzle,” such fluff and self-promotion.  You see, self-promotion is for those with “no shelf-life,” no implicit and lasting value, no prevailing truth.

Jesus knew, in His response to Satan, that God’s love of Him was universal to all and all creation and that no gimmick was needed but rather that gimmicks displayed a lack of truth and faithlessness – were the contrary to God and the Truth of God.

The thrist for celebrity, old as it is, is a monument to insecurity and to faithlessness.

Think about it.  You live in a celebrity machine called secular culture.  In submitting to it, are you submitting to the Second Temptation of Christ?

Shalom.

Inner peace is not found by staying on the surface of life, or by attempting to escape from life through any means.  Inner peace is found by facing life squarely … delving as far beneath the surface as possible to discover its verities and realities.

Anonymous

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Tranquility is a rare event in mass culture.  Its absence is everywhere.  No wonder we are upset, thrown off stride by what and who we encountered each day.  Truth is: we live among the disturbed, the greatly disturbed in many cases.

The disturbed have no peace.  They live on the surface, stampede to feed their faces – die to become the first lemming in line for the day’s ration.  Their eyes read “me first.”

There is no peace from a strategy of avoidance of life and its challenges.  Yet that is the preferred course of the legions of the disturbed.

There is, frankly, no escape if tranquility is the goal.

Rather, tranquility is in interior engagement, learning of life’s truths, passing through the struggle to a place where blindness is replaced by sight and desire is put to rest.  In tranquility there is no need for desire – tranquil needs nothing more, but that more may disturb it.

Tranquility both rests on truths, and reality (visible and invisible) and produces the same.

In circumstances of mass culture, separation from others is a wise route as detachment allows depth, reflection, discernment, growth in understanding and in wisdom – and in the treasure of tranquility.

Distance is a blessing.  Time spent in depth of being brings tranquility.

Shalom.

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