Brian Wilcox 'Red Hollyhock'
*Before proceeding, one may best begin by reading the note at the conclusion of this presentation. See NOTE below.
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After serving as a Christian clergyperson for many years, I wrote in 2005 -
I know, as a pastor and, therefore, worship leader, the importance of the heart over talent and love over performance. I have known pianists, for example, who are excellent players of the instrument, but they do not communicate the spirit of worship. Then, to me, that is not impressive, though it might be at a bar or a theatre. However, I have enjoyed pianists who can communicate worship both through their own being and, likewise, through the instrument. There is a difference.
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A dialogue between a disciple and the Sage:
Disciple: Sir, why do you do all you do for us?
Sage: I have no reason.
Disciple: How can you without a reason?
Sage: To do is its reason. Why try to add to that?
Disciple: Do you help us to bring honor to God?
Sage: No, yet what I do may honor God.
Disciple: How can you act without purpose?
Sage: When self and act are one, unity admits no purpose.
Disciple: So, this is what you often mean when speaking of spontaneity?
Sage: That is one way of saying it.
Disciple: How can I habitually act with spontaneity?
Sage: When one with Life, where are you but Life?
Disciple: But how to that?
Sage: Surrender into the Way, and, in time, you become the Way, yet you are present. This is the sole way to know. If you try to act spontaneously, that is not spontaneity. The Christian faith refers to this as "walking in the Spirit." When one with the Flow, this is how it speaks of "being filled with the Spirit."
Disciple: What am I to do now, since I am not at that point?
Sage: Do all for the glory of the Beloved, until there arises no thought of doing anything for the glory of the Beloved. Or, if you prefer, simply do all to show love for others, until no thought of loving others arises. Purpose dissolves in no-purpose. Yet, one must act with purpose to exhaust purpose. Then, all done is worship, but with no object in mind to receive the worship, and all done is the presence of Love acting, even when you appear not to be acting. Here, there is no separation among self, act, and Beloved, or Love. Here, not to act is Love acting.
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A Jewish tale relates of a simple man who enjoyed offering his singing to the Beloved Lord. He could barely carry a tune. The congregation could not afford to pay for a better singer; hence, he continued as song leader, or cantor.
After some years, the rabbi told the congregation it had enough funds to hire a well-known singer. All were pleased with this change, glad to see the simple cantor leave.
One evening, a few weeks later, an angel appeared to the rabbi. The angel asked, "Where is the music that once rose up to the Beloved Lord? There is no sound of joy and thanksgiving coming from this place now." The rabbi pointed out the congregation had just hired a talented cantor. The music was, the rabbi noted, first-rate.
Said the angel, "So, that's the problem. The new cantor offers his music for the praise of others and, thereby, goes unheard by the Beloved Lord. The simple cantor offered his singing to the Lord alone and, thereby, made beautiful music in heaven."
Persons sometimes speak of the heart of the matter. For the simple cantor, the heart of the matter was the heart. His heart was brimful with Love, so his song was the overflow of Love. His music was adoration of his Beloved, simply by the act of singing. He was not performing, he was worshipping, he was worship.
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The ego is prone to live life as a performance, as performer, thereby seeking the approval of others, trying to be a somebody. This divides one from what she does - self and act are not in sync.
The heart acts spontaneously, with simplicity, pointing beyond itself to its Source. In the heart, all life is worship; even when no one is present to worship, she is worshipping. Worship no longer requires self-consciousenss, so self-volition - or a worshipper - for worship. In the absence of the worshipper is the fullness of worship.
This worship does not have to be seen as spiritual, religious, or anything. Indeed, when one lives as the True Self, there comes a time when the act of acting and living heartfully is an unselfconscious sacrament of Life. This is for the mind has receded, and the soul, or heart, has come to the foreground.
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The most loving being acts from Love, with no intent to act from Love. She simply loves, and for her, that is enough, for Love is sufficient to Love and to love.
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Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, for then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to a beggar, don't shout about it as the hypocrites do - blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you in all earnestness, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you do a kindness to someone, do it secretly - don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.
*Gospel of Matthew 6.1-4 (TLB)
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(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020
*NOTE: The writing represents a synthesis of devotional spirituality - where one worships and lives in love for the Beloved - and nonduality - where there is no idea of the Other. For some persons, they will remain in the devotional, consciously offering themselves and their acts to the Beloved One. However, the devotional can evolve into the nondual, where the object of devotion dissolves in Pure Spirit. This does not mean one no longer believes in the Divine, only that the objectivity of the Divine is dissolved in the Divine. A few persons may enter directly the path of nonduality, or oneness, but likely few can do this without living into nonduality from a devotional path. If a person feels drawn into letting go of the object, this is the fruition of the path of duality, and I recommend releasing the object - recall, the object "Spirit" is mental - an idea -, while Spirit is not. Hence, one cannot let go of Spirit, only Spirit as an object, held in the mind and, so, related to with personal affections. Finally, these two ways are both toward the same synthesis of self-and-Spirit, and when one has moved into nonduality, this does not mean the duality of loving does not arise as the dance of the One. Indeed, Spirit diversifies into relationship (re-lationship); hence, living in the Unity can entail the joy of projecting the God-image so to enter the loving the heart wishes to share. Of import here, then, is nonduality includes duality, rather excluding it. In fact, you are reading this now, for you are a projection of Spirit into a body. This is a matter learned only through direct experience, intimately - otherwise, teachings on the matter can easily mislead and some of the teachings are suspect, not giving due recognition to the vital role of devotional spirituality and over-simplifying the nature of nonduality.