The Heart of Enlightenment
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens; Boothbay, ME
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If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.
*Gospel of Mark 8.35 (NLT)
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Any spiritual path teaches losing to gain - if not, it is not a spiritual path. In the Way, we lose to gain, and we gain to lose: these go together. There is a huge loss in cultures that teach gaining without losing.
Capitalistic consumerism takes for granted getting without forfeiting, though by getting, one does lose regardless. The illusion of getting only - it sells. Arising from this false view is a culture of debt. And we can have this same erroneous mentality in religion or spirituality, seeking to use a wisdom path to get without a willingness to welcome loss, which does not work, for loss and gain complement each other. Nature teaches us this wisdom.
The sage Jesus provided a way for his early followers to enjoy life - not meaning the details many call life. Life is not in the details; the details are in life. Like other great spiritual teachers, he wisely informed of the reciprocal relationship of loss and gain in spiritual growth.
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"Sir," she said, "you speak of the wisdom of letting go. I've been trying to let go of things, but it seems to dampen my enjoyment of life, to be a negative thing." The Sage said, "Letting go means losing to gain, so you really don't lose at all." "That sounds contradictory," came the reply, "So, what do I lose and gain?" "You lose," answered the Sage, "your life to enjoy life."
*Brian K. Wilcox. Meetings with an Anonymous Sage.
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The personalization of life as my life is a narrowing of the spaciousness to enjoy life. Such a lifestyle is not befitting us. It is cramping, like living in a closet when we could live in the open with plenty of room to roam and run.
All social prejudices are based on this false notion of anyone having her or his life. We share in the same life as the stars, the trees, the dirt, and space itself. We are life.
All races, for example, are the appearance of one life in a tapestry based on biology. Life diversifies. How odd if an oak tree said, "We oaks are superior to those pines. They need to leave this forest." Or, "We need to build a wall to keep those pines out of our land." We humans foolishly behave in this unnatural, joy-diminishing way and, in so doing, narrow ourselves. In excluding others, we exclude a part of ourselves. We sit in a closet with a select few - those like us. We measure the worth of everyone by our little selves. Some people even think they will go to heaven and share forever only with people who think as they do. Such a heaven would be another closet. Who wants to live in a closet forever? A monochromic paradise is no paradise at all.
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We were not born gaining a life and do not die losing a life. We were born in life, we grow in life, and we die in life.
We begin thinking we have a life. A spiritual path leads us to the life that is our life. Then, we see there is no our life. There is only life. So, we move from my life to our life to life, while life has been there all along the way. The farther we move along the Way, the more we return. Hence, the more we lose, the more we gain. Finally, the idea of losing and gaining drops, for the previous concepts of both no longer have a place in consciousness; one does not seek for oneself merit or blessing. What fruition of the path arises is a gift the self does not think oneself worthy to receive or unworthy so as not to receive.
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*©Brian K. Wilcox, 2022.
*Use of photography is allowed accompanied by credit given to Brian K. Wilcox and notation of title and place of the photograph.
*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.