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May 2007
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July 2007

Morning meditation - Spiritual power does not depend on physical force

Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek and to love our enemies.

Deng Ming-Dao in his book, Tao: Daily Meditations, writes:

So it is that the wise remain humble so that others are not aroused against them. They avoid conflict whenever possible. If trouble comes to seek them, they use only the bare amount of force in return. To go further is to fall into excess.

In the spiritual life the use of force is a paradox; less is better, and none at all is the best yet. We learn to go with the flow, to roll with the punch, to accept attack like water off a duck's back.Those that would use force to impose their will on others are inherently weak. They lack the spiritual power to win hearts and minds and so they must coerce bodies and dominate and subjugate by instilling fear of bodily harm.

Living in humility seeking harmony and cooperation by seeking common values and goals is wise. Rattling one's sword is egotistical arrogance which might obtain short term compliance but never will achieve rapport and respect.


Quote of the day

"Some parents do not want to impose religious training upon their children, preferreing instead to let them make up their own minds when they come of age. This stance is only superficially 'liberal' for it deprives children of any criteria for judging. The distinctive feature of Unitarian Universalist education is that young people are introduced to many religious traditions, challenged to formulate their own beliefs, and encouraged to respect the beliefs of others."

Forrest Church, A Chosen Faith, p. 94


Morning meditation - Is it OK for me to be here?

The father is seen as a source of power and might. He can be beneficent but also punishing. Father God is the archetype from the old testament who can be wrathful and destructive to those who upset Him and don't obey has commands. He also can bestow blessings and grace on those He favors. Subordinates beseech him for favors and beg for mercy when they transgress His laws and commands. The Father God is often aloof and distant but constantly monitors and provides for His subjects.

In the New Testament the Father God softens and is described as the "Good Shepherd" who tends his flock, seeks the sheep gone astray and brings it home. People are often ambivalent about father figures loving them on the one hand, and fearing them on the other. People often desire more attention and closeness with the Father, but also hide out of shame and fear of judgment.

In the Spiritual life, we see the Father and the Mother as elements of the same parental figure which both nurtures and exacts accountability. The parental role is one of leadership which constantly formulates and communicates a vision of the future which is challenging, hopeful, and attainable.The father provides resources, teaches skills, and provides opportunities for the implementation of that vision. The father loves and empowers all his children so that they can become all that they have been created to become, and celebrates who they are and what they have achieved each according to their abilities, talents, and inclinations.

Fathers are facilitators while mothers provide the very ground of our physical being. The mother is the giver of life, the vessel through which life is created and born, while fathers tend to the process supporting the mother and the offspring. Physical survival is possible without the father, but spiritual health is much more difficult without knowing that one's presence on this earth was desired and loved. The father's attention and care validate the significance and importance of this soul being among us. The father's ministrations, and his words, communicate, validate, and reinforce the experience that yes, indeed, it is good that you were born and that you are here. It is that acknowledgement, perhaps more than anything else, which helps us feel at peace, and at home in the world.


Morning mediation - War corrupts the human soul

Weapons are tools of ill omen wielded by the ignorant.

If their use is unavoidable, the wise act with restraint.

The greatest sorrow is to be a veteran, witness to the atrocities of humanity.

Deng Ming-Dao

Human beings seem to have a penchant for war. It is glorified as patriotic and honorable. However, this is an illusion perpetrated by politicians to obtain acquiescence and cooperation in their power hungry dreams of conquest.

In retrospect, wars rarely have legitimate justification. They were initiated for venal reasons: to obtain resources, power, land, or ego. The fact that politicians would want to engage in war is not surprising. It is, in some ways, the nature of what they do. It is surprising though that their subjects, the citizens, would cooperate, because for them it brings sacrifice, destruction, death, and tremendous grief.

It is the lack of awareness and fear that lead citizens to support their politicians in engaging in war. They are usually more afraid of their own politicians and fellow citizens calling them traitors, and disloyal, and then being stigmatized, shunned, and punished by their neighbors and own government than being harmed by the named enemy in a foreign land.

For citizens, it is this act of cowardice, in supporting the destructive policies and practices of their government that allows sin to continue throughout the land and which brings tremendous grief and sorrow to both sides of the war.

In the spiritual life, we see beyond on the banal deceptions of the ego and realize that killing and destruction is a perverted human activity and rather than bring honor and glory it brings shame and sorrow to those who support and engage in it. All the thumping of chests adorned with medals, and the pomp of flag draped coffins viewed within the hearing of Taps on a bugle does not offset the pain and the shame of knowing that the war activities engaged in are not the best of human behavior.

War, rather than glorifying, corrupts the soul of a nation and its people because it manifests the values of death and destruction, rather than life and justice.


Morning meditation - Becoming child like

Jesus_and_chidren Children are God's gift to humankind. They are God's message that there is hope for the future of humankind and that human life should go on. Supposing there were no more children and the last generation were simply to die out? Would we treat our children any differently? Would we as parents, as grandparents, as aunts and uncles, as neighbors, as mentors treat them any differently? Would we treat the environment any differently? Use our resources any differently?

Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, "The soul is healed by being with children." and Henry Ward Beecher said, "Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven."

Children have an innocence, and awe, a curiosity which can be inspiring and gratifying to behold. There are times when children can also be irritating, annoying, and demanding of our attention and effort in ways that require tremendous patience and discipline. Children force us to look at ourselves and our own darker natures and provide us with an opportunity to develop and create a better self. Children force parents to grow up, to become adults, to take responsibility for themselves and for others.

In the spiritual life, we are aware of the joys and sorrows, the satisfactions and the sacrifices which are characteristics of our relationships with children. Children evoke the best in us, and the worst in us. It is in our relationship with children that we come to appreciate the awesome mystery that my life does not stop at the boundary of my skin but extends far beyond with the sense of family and community.

In the Christian tradition, the Body of Christ is made up of adults and children and Jesus was very forceful when He said, "Let the children come unto me." and a little later He said, "Unless you become as little children you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."

A good friend pointed out to me one time that there is a difference between being "childish" and "child like", and it is in becoming "child like" that we advance in the spiritual life and taste a little bit of heaven.


Anxiety in adult children of borderline parents

Anxious Dr. Christine Lawson writes in her book, Understanding The Borderline Mother, that "Adult children of Hermits may suffer from panic attacks, claustrophobia,or agoraphobia without recognizing the source of their fear - the early experience of feeling trapped by their mothers." p.87

I had one client email me the following:

" It has taken me most of my early adulthood to de-stress from the perpetual anxiety and establish a sense of self-worth after having my mother as a mother. I am conflicted, however, knowing I'd be a much different person had I been born to anyone else. I think I'd be much less tolerant, self-reliant, and empathetic and more fearful of change and the unknown. I truly believe that good things can be born of struggle."

Feelings of inferiority, insecurity, unworthiness, are very prevalent in the Adult Children of Borderline Parents whom I have worked with. They often worry about being good parents themselves and therefore may postpone or forgo having children.

It is interesting to work with Adult Children of Borderline parents in therapy. As adults they often are very aware that they do not know what is normal and what is not normal. They seem to not have a good understanding of the origin and genesis of their symptoms. It is in good therapy that they come to understand where the symptoms came from, and how to manage them more effectively to improve their interpersonal and social functioning. As they manage their symptoms better and their distress goes down, the qualty of their lives can improve, often significantly.

The Adult Children of Borderlines deserve to be happy and to have a high quality life. They have lived through hell and now it is time for something more heaven like.