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September 2006
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Morning meditation - Bearing good fruit

We learn by teaching. We know what we do. As Jesus said, it is not what goes into a person's mouth that makes him/her unclean, but what comes out of a person's mouth.

Actions speak louder than words. When actions contradict words or words contradict actions, it is more reliable to trust the actions and take the words with a huge grain of salt.

Evil is not a single sin, a single event, but rather a pattern of behavior, habits built up over time. The same is true for virtue. Virtue is habitual patterns of thought and deed. These habitual patterns whether of dysfunction or of virtue are manifestations of one's inner being. Freud said you can either act it out or talk it out. In talking things out we objectify our emotions that drive us, we examine our motivations and intentions that stimulate our thoughts and behaviors.

Jesus said that by their fruits you will know them.

I try to be aware of my thoughts and motivations, my intentions and my emotions, so that I can use my personality in a purposeful way to bear good fruit.

Morning meditation - Spiritual people have no need of false prophets

Happiness on this earth makes happiness in the next less attractive. If happiness in the next looses its appeal what is the need of the priests, the pastors, the Imans who promise it? The clergy offer grand promises and if you feel insecure, inadequate, lonely, these promises are very appealing.

True spirituality is nourishment in the here and now, not in the hereafter. A spiritual person has no need of clergy making false promises and threatening with false punishments. Peace comes from the liberation from supersitions and delusions. Peace comes from being at one with cosmic consciousness.

Jesus told us to be aware of false prophets. An irrevernt saying in Buddhism is "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." And being in touch in our hearts with the Tao relieves our fears, our lonliness, our depression, our anger, and we achieve serenity here on earth as it is in heaven.

Therapy Stories - Growing up means being alone

Today, I am starting a new category on my blog called, Therapy Stories. They are fictitious and any resemblance to real people and events is purely coincidental. I have created these stories from my mulitiple experiences in working with people, couples, families, organizations, and communities.

Growing up means being alone

“It sucks to be you”, I said with a lilt in my voice and a slight smile.

She took it the right way and shook her head up and down and laughed lightly but still had somewhat of a frown on her face.

“My life is just ehhhhh”, she said. She looked a little depressed. She described the problems in her life at college, at home, with her boyfriend, with her job, and then said, “I’m OK though.”

I have been a psychotherapist for over 35 years. I could be her father and almost her grandfather, and I wonder to myself what it is like to be a young woman starting out in life, having graduated from high school and off to the first year of college with high hopes but disappointed somewhat with how life is starting out.

I wondered further what she had been told about life, about what kind of life she could have, what kind of life she should have. She told me that everybody was telling her what she should do about this, that, and everything and she was torn. Her mother wanted her to do this, her father that, her older sister had advice as well.

She is conscientious and earnest and bright and sensitive, maybe too sensitive. What does she need to hear from me? What could we talk about that would help?

I finally said, “Lisa, this isn’t about them, it is about you. What do you want?”

She nodded and looked a bit skeptical.

“I want them to stop fighting and like my boyfriend.”

“Never going to happen”, I said softly, “and you can’t control them. Supposing they keep on fighting and continue to not like your boyfriend, then what?”

“Yeah, I know”, she said, now seemingly more depressed than before.

“Listen”, I said, “I make a distinction between privacy and secrecy. People have a right to their privacy. They have a right to their own life. They don’t have an obligation to share with everybody, information about everything in their life. It’s kind of like being in the military where people get information on a ‘need to know’ basis.”

She laughed.

“Secrecy”, I said, “is when another person has a right to know something and you are holding out on them. That can be unfair because the information may have an impact on them and they have a stake in it. Where do you draw the line, the line between privacy and secrecy? I can’t tell you that. You are the expert on your life not me, but I can tell you that there is a line there somewhere.”

“I like that”, she said with a pensive look.

I thought to myself how growing up means having a life of one’s own, developing a mind of one’s own, standing up for what you believe in, becoming captain of your own ship and master or mistress of your own fate. You are no longer a member of the herd.  You have staked out your own life, your own stands, your own positions on things. You have become aware and chosen your own values, opinions, beliefs, and practices, and no longer do things just because “that’s the way I was raised”.

Coming into one’s own is liberating but it also is scary because it can be lonely. No wonder Peter Pan never wanted to grow up but to remain a child forever.

Morning meditation - Integrity takes courage

I often think of the slogan, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." or as it says in the Gospel of Matthew in Chapter 7, verse 20, by their fruits you will know them.

Matthew 7:14 - 20

14But the gate is narrow (contracted [k]by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.(A)

    15Beware of false prophets, who come to you dressed as sheep, but inside they are devouring wolves.(B)

    16You will [l]fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?

    17Even so, every healthy (sound) tree bears good fruit [[m]worthy of admiration], but the sickly (decaying, worthless) tree bears bad (worthless) fruit.

    18A good (healthy) tree cannot bear bad (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear [n]excellent fruit [worthy of admiration].

    19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.

    20Therefore, you will [o]fully know them by their fruits.

And I think at this election time of the fruits of the Republican administration: devastating war in Iraq, increased negativity and nastiness in our civil discourse, loss of respect around the world, more poor people in poverty while the rich have gotten richer, loss of health care for half our population, the devastation of New Orleans and the lack of governmental response, and yet all the God talk and God bless America in political speeches to get votes from naive evangelicals who aren't aware of how they are being manipulated by the "false prophets" who are dressed as sheep but inside are devouring wolves.

We are bombarded with all kinds of opinions from pundits, preachers, politicians, celebrities, and experts. What is the ordinary person to think, to do? Listen with your head and your heart and act with integrity. Integrity comes from wisdom, courage, timing, perserverance, and a willingness to suffer in an open hearted way for justice and truth. This way is narrow and unfortunately there are few who find it. I pray that you and I be ones who do.