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Today's Saying: In surrender to Love, Love teaches us how to enjoy things as expressions of and in the Supernal, slowly drawing us out of immersion in things to a relationship with them in their one Fount - our Fount.
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The human-centered view of creation
is a stunted one.
It fails to recognize
the oneness of creation, the symphony of life forms
that depend on one another
to bring the universe,
pulsing and throbbing with life,
to a wholeness that is mutual,
that reflects the full face of God
rather than simply our own.
*Joan Chittister. The Monastery of the Heart.
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A sage appeared at the entrance of the palace. A servant led him to where the King sat on a throne. "What do you want?" asked the King, recognizing the visitor. "I would like a place to sleep in this inn," replied the sage. "This isn't an inn," said the King, "it's my palace." The conversation continued back-and-forth... "May I ask who owned the palace before you?" "My father." "Where's he?" "He passed on." "And who owned it before your father?" "My grandfather." "Where's he?" "He passed on, too." "And this place where people live a brief time and move on, did I hear you say that it is not an inn?"
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One travels more lightly when she realizes she is passing through. We all share this passing through in common. Regardless of how people try to appear better than others or are esteemed superior by some, we are truly all alike in the most basic ways - all else is window-dressing.
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In my father's final days, a man who had much enjoyed football his whole life, his interests shifted. We had followed our home state, college football team closely. When on tv, we watched the game. When not, we listened on the radio. The team was to play on tv one day. Though my father was weak, he had not yet become overcome by dementia - that was only a few months away. I mentioned about the game coming on, thinking he might be interested, that it might cheer him up to enjoy the game. Also, sports had been a time of bonding for my father and me. He replied kindly but bluntly, "Son! that's not important." I did not say anything, realizing the wisdom in his words, that in Chittister's words above, he was transiting to see more outside the human-centered way. I realized he was already moving on while he was still, at least partially, linked with the body.
Since then, I have often reflected on his words. While we can enjoy many things in this transient realm, attachment to what is passing is a mistake. And little about us encourages us not to make this mistake; rather, almost everything encourages us to attach to the pleasures and conveniences of the temporal.
I still enjoy the sports my dad and I enjoyed together; yet, I realize the wisdom in his words. From the other side, devotion to the temporal makes no sense. Christians have spoken of this as disordered passions - the order is to love first the Giver, all else as given and in the Giver.
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We can enjoy the temporal, even more so by enjoying it as temporal. However, the moment we attach to anything of-this-world, we forfeit the opportunity for it to be the means of grace it is here to be. Ironically, then, through detachment from the fleeting, appreciation and enjoyment are heightened for us. The earthly becomes a window for the Light to pour into our lives.
Still, as with my father, the sacramental potential of the secular does not preclude our interest narrowing as we are drawn nearer into the Light. When we walk the Way, we should not be surprised when the heart loses interest in things we once found enjoyment in. When we are drawn away, and we will be from some prior enjoyments, we need to let go, even though in itself it is good and was prior not a hindrance. What we refuse to release becomes a hindrance to the deeper experience of Presence to which we are being called now. That we are called to let go is a sign of the fruition of the cultivation of the inner Life.
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Disordered desires relate to the six senses - in Buddhism there are six, not five senses. We easily attach to what is pleasing in sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, and mental formations. Attachment to these senses leads to suffering. For example, devotion to food in a disordered manner leads to varied symptoms, even, finally, death from gluttony is possible. Also, over-eating reduces one's enjoyment of food - indulgence decreases the pleasure experienced through any of the senses. The Way is to bring our senses into union with the Beloved, or One. Disordered passions manifest our lack of connection with our Source, the Supernal Satisfaction. In rightly-ordered devotion, peace and contentment arise as our natural home and joy. Hence, our enjoyment of creation and Creative Intelligence are mutually supporting.
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The early Christian Scriptures reminded readers of living in awareness of the brevity of life and its nature as an inn for momentary lodging. The Jesus of Matthew's Gospel says...
Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven [lit., the skies], where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
*Matthew 6.19-20 (NLT)
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A materialistic worldview is marked with insecurity and misplaced values. When we realize the Subtle within this realm, we live in union with matter and non-matter, the manifest and the Unmanifest, the many and the One. We give devotion to what transcends the thought of temporary and lasting. From the heart, we see the error of ideologies of impermanence or permanence, both being framed from experience rather than the grace of non-experience. In grace, we discover Spirit is the Totally-Other showing up in our ordinary lives, yet we cannot reduce Presence to this realm of mind-and-body. We discover the Eternal, not understood as endlessness but All-Encompassing and Atemporal - for time and timeless are both relative thoughts in the human imagination.
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Some persons turn their time on Earth into a pilgrimage, and this trek becomes a beautiful, awe-filled, sacred, and hopeful pilgrimage. By this, their apparent distance from the world hides an unspeakable intimacy with things. They do not reject the world but love it in the right-order - to accept it in any other way is finally futile, and they recognize this need for things to be enjoyed in a Non-Thing. These persons are not satisfied to be sight-seers, to behave like tourists. These pilgrims realize the difference between existing and being alive, and they embody aliveness in union with Life. They find refuge in Spirit and the community-of-spirit, seen and unseen. They remind us freedom is not found in attachment to stuff but surrender to the Source. We find, in following them, all things reflect the Face of God, and intimacy with nature leads us to and into God. All things point to God, even as God points to all things.
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*© Brian K. Wilcox, 2021
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book consists of poems based on wisdom traditions, predominantly Christian, Buddhist, and Sufi, with extensive notes on the poetry's teachings and imagery.