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He, the eternal, dwells concealed in the heart of all beings.  Though himself devoid of all senses, he is the illuminator of all the senses, the source of their powers.

The Mahanirvana Tantra, 6th Century B.C.

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The Tantra records the mystical practices of Hindus and Buddhists.  The above, dating back 600 years before the birth of Christ, records the view that God dwells in each of us.

When you live your daily life do you think of God dwelling within you? 

Do you perceive that others might carry that belief?  Does the demeanor or actions of others so suggest this?

The idea of an indwelling God has been spoken of and written about throughout the Ages.  I give an illustration.  One finds this in the Svetasvatara Upanishad of 400 B.C., in Ovid’s Fasti written in 5 A.D., in Epictetus’s Discourses in 110 A.D., in Plotinus’s Ennead, Ephraim the Syrian’s view, in the works of Meister Eckart in the 13th Century, the words of St. John of the Cross in the 16th Century, in the works of St. Francis de Sales in the 17th Century and Baruch Spinoza in the same Century, in Emerson and Huxley, Buber and Gandhi, etc.

The indwellingness of God has been common wisdom for centuries, but how much evidence of this do you see among men and women today?

The notion of God within humbles the sane person … and we could use a large dose of humility today.  All life is made far more charitable and kind by humility of self as manifest in contact with others.  Humility is the proper disposition for those who realize that God dwells with me and thou.

Abandoning the indwelling God does not erase God’s presence in us.  Rather it just submits God to the indignity of our behavior.  In this, we are like a person with a house guest who speaks not a word to the visitor, nor does he feed him, or offer him a place to sleep or to wash his face.  Such a “host” says neither “Hello,” nor “Goodbye” – and never wishes him “God’s speed.”

Are you such a host of the Divine Creator?

Shalom.

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To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

Lao-tzu

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The older I get, the more I settle into quiet and keep things as simple as possible.

I have no taste for crowds, fast roadways, complicated gadgets, air travel and such.  My diet is simple and ample.  Time with friends and family matter so very much.

The quiet seems right.  It leads to peace and prayer and conversation with God – a rendering of spontaneous gratitude for all I have been given, for the love I have received and the experiences large and small – the memories of people, places and events.

Now I see how grandchildren carry hope for tomorrow and bring that hope to me.  I see in them hope alive in their days, and their joys and pleasures, and a love so readily shared – so openly proclaimed by these little people.  Wonderful, so wonderful.  For me, they are proof of God’s existence and signposts for who we are meant to be, and how we are meant to live.

In the quiet and the solitude I am acutely aware of the confusion and pain that others create out of pride and their own disordered thinking.  Full of energy and themselves they make matters worse by insisting on changing things “for the better.”  They are not quiet people.  They seem to prefer the crowded clown car of the circus – yet, they always fight one another to be the driver.

In quiet I know both joy and sadness, I hear my breath and feel strongly the experiences that gave me depth and comfort, improved my vision, produced understanding – led me to faith and to God.

Now the voices of those I love are symphonies for me.  The memories of those I loved who have died are my favorite movies.  The memories of yesterdays my treasured photos.

Now I do not need much and in my days little tasks bring appreciation and satisfaction – sweeping the floor, folding the laundry, keeping the grounds clean … I notice the pleasure of such things – the cool afternoon breeze off the mountains and the changing landscape as the sun moves west and fades slowly into tomorrow.

Proper quiet gives the fullness of being.

Shalom.

… let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.  Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on the minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.  (Emphasis added.)

President George Washington, in His Farewell Speech, September 19, 1796

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Once upon a time we were wiser and nicer.  Having dispatched wisdom and kindness, we are not consigned in perpetuity to live the ignorance and nastiness that has become us today.

“But how,” you ask, “can things change for the better?”

In answer I tell you that no one may simply present himself to a Court of Law and argue a case.  No, one must be credentialed to the law.  Training is required.  License, in good order and standing, is required.  We can learn from this.

At present we listen to anyone that shouts loud enough of their fanciful “desires and wants.”  Illustratively, no one asks those who propound the oddest of ideas to state their case as to faith, religious narrative, wisdom complied over the Ages, what history has taught, what is known of cause and effect psychologically, emotionally, socially – indeed, least of all judges who have as their credentials but two things: one, that they are but lawyers, and two, they know a politician or political group which will promote their interest in becoming a judge.  Mind you, Courts are occupied with those who have little training but law – and let it be known from me (a lawyer, with advanced degrees in theology and international affairs and foreign policy) that virtually anyone who can read can become a lawyer.

Studying law does not equip one with wisdom – and surely not with the learned ability to discern social policy, advance it, or question those before the Court who seek to advance their views of “man’s perfection” or the “way” society ought to run or be organized as their prejudice so poorly “informs” them.

To make our turn back to wisdom – make the proponents of change lay out very broadly and in detail the defense of a proposed change and explain the ramifications – personal and material costs – in embarking on their (usually poorly examined) proposals.

And remember, the cornerstone of wisdom is neither desire nor “equality.”  It is more complex than such simple thinking – indeed, its acquisition resides amid religious principle.

Shalom.

Postscript – This is the third and final blog post on Tradition.  I suggest reading each one beginning with the first entry two days ago.  Suffice it to say, we display a poverty of intellect that is shocking and explains more than any other factor (save our ignorance of religious narrative and the history of Western civilization) what we see as gross disorder and destabilization of our fundamental institutions today – running from marriage, procreation, gender, family and education to our institutions of governance and our sacred fundamental documents like the Constitution and an appreciation of the Federalist Papers and the design and unique working of a Representative Democracy with power shared by its citizens with both autonomous state government and the federal government.

If you don’t realize the source, you stumble in confusion and sorrow.  When you realize where you come from, you naturally become tolerant, disinterested, amused, kindhearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king.

Lao Tzu

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Philosopher Lao Tzu existed six centuries before Christ.  It is said he was saddened that people did not seek goodness.  His writing and his concern was as to the individual and mystical existence.

In Taoism, he sought that one might live quietly alone with the spirit and the intellect.

In the above remarks he notes that without knowing the source of all being, one is confused and sorrowful – and with a recognition of the source of all being, one is naturally tolerant, not entwined in all the hubbub surrounding us, at ease, kind and dignified.  In other words: calm, detached, happy, content, relaxed.

Think of this in the context of today.  Imagine being detached from the chaos, conflict and constant noise, hostility, accusation and name-calling.  A level of calm today is quite valuable – especially in a rabid social media environment and a perpetual mass communication culture.

I am tickled by this which is attributed to Lao Tzu: “Why are the people rebellious … because the rulers interfere too much.”  We know this sentiment as: he who governs least governs best. 

People are not meant to be governed but rather to be free and responsible.  Is this not something we now know?  Is it healthy to be a dependent all your life?  Satisfying to be stunted in your growth and maturity – so others might rule you?  Deprive you of your freedom?

Our nation was formed with a sacred commitment to individual freedom and the presence and protection of faith and liberty.  Our Constitution enshrines that.  Not unlike Lao Tzu’s point of view.

Is not a relation with God the fundamental thing that gives us peace, health and contentment?

How do you orient yourself in the culture we have today?  Do you like being diminished and subject to others governing you down to the smallest details of your life?  Would you not rather your full growth and development?

You are a sacred being, capable of full growth and development.  Those who seek power try to convince you that you are not a sacred being who is capable of full growth and development.

Shalom.

 

 

 

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

1 Jn 4:12

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Imagine doing this simple thing in regards to the above words.  What thing?  When you read the news each day invoke the above hypothesis ( … if you love one another …).  I bet you will see a significant number of stories where love of one another is missing.

You’ll see them in random shootings, murderous acts, angry politicians, snipping editorials, quarreling spouses, – stories of hysterical protesters, hyper-sensitive complainers, political partisans, abortion, addiction, crime and corruption, etc.

Just thinking about being loving is a braking mechanism.  It gives one pause.  With “news” as it is today – a little pause to ponder love is a pretty useful thing.

Think about love – loving others.  How loving others makes a very significance difference in you, your life, others and the culture.

Shalom.

Incidentally – We may be seeing the shrinking of the Paternal Mega-State – that is the FDR Father or Nanny State.  Too much of a “good” thing is too much.  Excess bends the curve back against itself.  National debt and the antics of Leftist cities and states that are in deep debt give you some idea.  At a point, states run out of sources of money.  Even if you have a printing press – there are limits.

The transformation of charity into legal entitlement has produced both donors without love and recipients without gratitude.

Antonin Scalia

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These words are from an address given by former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1996.

Among his observations are these:

  • “a Christian should not support a government that suppresses faith or one that sanctions the taking of innocent life”
  • he knows of “no country in which the churches have grown fuller as the government has moved leftward”
  • the most religious nation in the West (the U.S.) is a capitalist society that is “least diluted by socialism”  (Emphasis added.)
  • since FDR’s New Deal, the U.S. has taken on the increasing role of a welfare state (i.e., taking tax proceeds of all and dispensing them to select individuals and groups that are deemed “needy” – and building political constituents in the process)
  • “Christ’s view was that you should give your goods to the poor, not that you should force someone else to give his (to others)”  (Emphasis added.)
  • “to the extent that the states takes upon itself one of the corporal works of mercy that would have been undertaken privately, it deprives individuals of an opportunity for sanctification and deprives the body of Christ of the occasion for interchange of love among its members”
  • the welfare-state does not contain or convey the Christian virtue of altruism
  • “governmentalization of charity effects … the donor but also the recipient … What was once asked as a favor is now demanded as an entitlement … the teaching of welfare socialism is that the world owes everyone a living.”

What Scalia lays out is the decline of the role of faith in secular culture – and with it the loss of moral conduct long displayed by acts of religiously inspired service.

Likewise socialism fundamentally changes the way humans experience themselves, others and the nature of fellowship and community – indeed it blunts the power of love and hope … it deprives us of faith and sanctification.

Make no mistake, religion and God have been shunned in the post-New Deal environment – and, frankly, when moral conduct is not fostered through a population who has an active faith – hostility and faithless division takes its place.  There we become a troubled and self-destructive culture with less opportunity to make of us brothers and sisters to one another.

Converting to socialism and BIG government is, quite simply, destructive.

Shalom.

… that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You.  May they also be in us …  (Emphasis added.)

Jn 17:21

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In the recent four or five years in traveling across the country and in my daily public activities like shopping, I have had the privilege of meeting and talking to a good number of African-Americans – mostly men.  The conversations have always been cordial – actually wonderful, warm, joyful and a real blessing.

In each of the conversations I am referring to, I have offered and observation which has been universally and warming accepted.  My observation?  It is this: I say to the man with whom I have shared kind words and some laughter – this simple thing: “You know, for the life of me, I cannot understand why it is that others are intent on turning us against one another.  If I or you were drowning and someone threw us a rope that saved our life, would we ever care what their race, or religion, or ethic heritage was?”  Not one of my conversation partners ever responded other than this way: “You are so right, I am sick of the division.”

” … that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in me, and I am in You …”

Look, we have one critical responsibility and that is to be one as the Father and Son are one.

That said, ask yourself as you listen to those whose words are presented in public discourse – Does this man or woman divide us?  Or do their word bring us together?

I pray that we all start to apply these two questions to all who speak to us.

We will die by division – just as we will live and prosper only as one.

If you doubt this, think of this one thing.  In the Genesis story God provides man a companion – a woman because it is not good that man be alone.  Friends, could this be any plainer?  Men and women are clearly different and yet we are made whole by one another.  Does God not make this plain as day?  You know the answer.  Let’s live this reality, this truth.  One.  One.  One.

Dear God, help us see that we are one, meant to be one – help us turn from those who would divide us, create hostility for their own dubious benefit.  Amen.

Shalom.

If this message makes any sense to you, please share it with others.  We really are in this life together.  We own the problems we have and we have a way out of the troubles we had created.  Let’s get busy being one.

That millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make  people sane.

Erich Fromm, in The Sane Society

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It is a little ironic for me to utilize the words of a Left-leaning secular humanist like Fromm but – assuming his words have merit, accuracy and hence a quality of timelessness such that they can be invoked in any era – it seems to me they offer an opportunity for today.

The opportunity?  The opportunity to ask of ourselves in the West and in the United States if some of our prominent ideas and their political advocacy conveys what is ill or what is well.

I think of abortion.  I think of children born to women who are not married.  I think of the collectivist nature of liberal orthodoxy, “borderless” borders, the application of equality that seems to shun individual responsibility and the recognition that people are of vastly different capabilities and drives, a disdain for police officers, a dismissal of religion, the reverence afforded the celebrity – the people in visual media, in the press … and such.  The list could go on.

On many fronts, it is reasonable to ask – Are these common acclamations contributing to sanity or insanity?  Do we look like a healthy or ill society?  Have we put the propositions of the Left to this test?  Fromm himself would ask this.  One wonders why we do not.

Yet for example, that a bundle of people think that there are endless numbers of “genders” neither makes it so, nor makes it sane.

My point is Fromm’s point – a collection of people saying or doing the same thing makes what is said or done neither true nor healthy, per se.  Time to put advocacy and ideology to the test.  Good for us?  Healthy?  Destructive?  Foolish?  Sane?

One wrong idea can make a whole people sick.  Destroy harmony and community, a nation, even.

And the whole multitude sought to touch him; for there went virtue out of him and healed them.

Lk 6:19

Yes, it is virtue that is the measure.  Life seeks the advancement of virtue and the health and fulfillment of the whole person.

Shalom.

We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given by God.

1 Cor 2:12

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The foundation of our health and human prosperity is in the Spirit.  Yet, the culture we live in promotes the mind as if our well-being resides in the head.

Nay, it resides in the heart and in the soul.

A full life relies on our spiritual development, not our intellectually development.  I say this as one who was a college degree, a law degree and two graduate degrees (one in international affairs – American foreign policy and economic policy, and the other in theology).

That said, I make this point: in my career and in my personal life – seeing with the eyes of a Believer made the greatest contribution to my personal and working life.

Plainly speaking – the experiences of my life were more revealing and more instructive because of my spiritual life and its development.  I found greater understanding and greater peace – and yes, wisdom – because I cultivated my spiritual development, became more faithful, placed an importance on worship and directed my reading to those things that would help me grow in the Spirit.  In doing so, novels revealed truth to me, psychology and cultural criticism, philosophy, comparative mythology, and history opened for me.  Likewise biographies of those who traveled hard roads and experienced God were a great help, as were the words of Carl Jung, M.D., and Thomas Merton and Joseph Campbell, and St. Augustine, Thomas Keating and others, and, of course, Scripture.

What is my point?  Our culture would have us confine our self to the head, but the brain is a secondary organ and does not lead us exclusively to the greatest and most significant understandings.  The heart and soul are the key to a good and satisfying life.

It is the Spirit upon which we ultimately rely and the Spirit enlivens the heart and soul.

Attend to the Spirit, for we are of God – and God is pure Spirit.

Shalom.

Democrats – Another Democrat public official (the Attorney General of New York) resigned because of his history of physical abuse of women.  He adds to the list of Democrat money-raisers and politicians who have been exposed as women abusers yet claimed to be champions of women.  It would be nice if this was a surprise – but it is not.

 

The monk is a man who lives in seclusion, in solitude, in silence outside the noise and the confusion of a busy worldly existence.

Thomas Merton, in Contemplation in a World of Action

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A monk lives in response to existing culture.  His thinking is both critical and healthy.  He sees that a present culture does not promote his values, virtue or an integrated, well-formed life.

A monk seeks wholeness and a depth of spiritual existence that cultures usually ignore in their all-consuming demands and expectations.  A monk seeks to understand life and people.  He seeks psychological, emotional and social fitness.  His path is to Truth and to God.  Clarity, peace and wisdom come to him.

His days are composed of work and prayer, silence and listening – quiet, reading and worship.  He finds time to contemplate life at large, its meaning, its best use and ways of being.

The ways of a monk are the perfect counterpoint to the disintegration that is today’s secularized America.

Today we are rife with conflict, antagonism turned to hatred in many instances, division, hostility, abandonment of virtue and morality, to the intrusion of state and the destruction of critical institutions, the lost of a nation’s boundaries and heritage, and its common understandings.

Chaos displaces the order of common understanding and mutual respect.

Each day brings evidence of disorder and often brutality – conduct whereby those who might otherwise lead discredit themselves.

We are no longer unified and living as neighbors guided by good.  Too many force their views on others, advance their disorder on others as if our acquisition of their strife and sickness normalizes them – makes true what is false.

At a time like this – in a culture like this … think of those who go “off to the mountain as the fish to the sea.”

Maybe you can learn from the way of monks.  Can you not acquire their ways in forms that create healthy distance between you and what is destructive?

Your health, wholeness, peace and wisdom resides in the ways of the monk.  In your culture today comes disintegration, illness, hostility, confusion, amorality, untruth and self-destruction.  Your life need not be composed of these things.  

Shalom.

A Book of Interest – You might like a short book entitled Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life by Hugh Feiss, a priest in the Order of St. Benedict.  It is a fine resource for those who wish to make healthy adjustments in the face of rank disorder and destruction that is exclusive secular culture today.  Peace be with You. 

 

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