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November 2006
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January 2007

Morning meditation - To dichotomize is either good or bad

Love and hate are the opposite sides of the same coin as are light and dark, bitter and sweet, right and left, up and down, us and them. The mind loves to dichotomize, to compare, to contrast. The mind thinks it is being smart to analyze, to deconstruct, to unpack the concepts and beliefs that frame and structure the mind's existence. But are these things "real" or just illusions that the mind constructs in an attempt to make sense out of its experience, because beyond these dichotomies there is a whole world where these components are parts of the whole. What would it be like to go there where there is no things, but only the oneness, the wholeness before the dichotomization?

Specialization, differentiation of labor, bifurcation, reductionistic thinking has its place. It has given human beings great power to manipulate phenomena in the physical world, but in the spiritual world it seems petty, trivial, stingy, obsessive, less than satisfying, because we miss the big picture, the understanding of life, the ability to appreciate the system which is greater than the sum of its parts. Can we see the forest when we are closely examining the tree? Can we see the person when we are operating on his gall bladder? Can we appreciate the community when we focus on the bad behavior of one individual?

The answer is probably that we have to look and appreciate both the system and the parts, the analytical reductionist view as well as the integrated whole. If love and hate are part of the same process why favor one over the other? We need both for a complete system. Sometimes we hate the most the ones we love the most, and sometimes we hurt the most, the ones we love the most. The hate and the hurt are not the problem, but the way we handle the hate and the hurt when it occurs. Hate and hurt should not surprise us, they are part of the whole. Recognize them for what they are with understanding and compassion.

Morning meditation - The mystery of me

Life is a mystery. Those who would have you believe that they have the answers are full of baloney.

There is an old Buddhist saying that if you see the Buddha on the road, kill him. The reference is to not physically killing the Buddha but psychologically, and intellecutally killing the Buddha, because the mystery of the universe is not explained by the Buddha, Jesus, or any religious or political leader, the mystery of the universe is within each one of us.

What that mystery is, is emptiness which terrifies us. Our biggest fear is that there is nothing there, no things. We run from this our whole life looking for answers in religion, in politics, in the arts, in our studies, in our hedonistic satisfactions, in entertainment, and yet we come back to the same thing, our perrenial emptiness which is a mystery.

The development of a spiritual life always invovles an element of mystery because our interior life cannot be explained to another. They aren't interested in anyway because they have an interior life of their own. Have you ever noticed how our personal history always centers on the "me". Where was I when that was going on? How did it effect me? What did I experience, think, feel, do?

Where would we be without the "me"? Drop the ego and then what? Ahhhh, that is the mystery, and I wonder about the fact that we all our indispensable. What would the world be like without us? Perfectly fine, part of me says, and another part says, it would not be the same, there would be a huge loss, and yet without the "me" what exists at all?

Morning meditation - Without character achievement counts for little.

Spirituality is not just about an esoteric interior life. It also has practical implications. A person needs to cultivate their intellect and their character. Both aspects of personality are important to full development. A smart person with poor character is what could be called "an educated idiot". They might be smart but they have the life skills of a worm. On the other hand having good character, while a blessing itself, does not get a person very far if he/she is not also smart.

It has been the observation of many that a "decent" person can be taught many skills and competencies, but  a very skilled person with many competencies who is not a decent person can be destructive and a liability. It is much easier to teach a person skills and help them obtain knowledge than it is to develop character.

A genuinely spiritual person is a person of good character. Character comes from discipline, courage, loyalty, perseverance, reliability, compassion, empathy, kindness, charity, and love. In the absence of those character traits, all else is superficial glitter, bubblegum music, phoney baloney.

As Tracy Chapman sings in her great song: "My mama told me, she said she learned the hard way, all that you've got is your soul"

Morning meditation - The spiritual path begins with doubt

The first step on the path of spirituality is doubt. Until you can doubt you will be in error. This is the opposite of how the world thinks. The world believes that certainty, orthodoxy is a sign of strength and holiness, but this is only superficial, because this kind of certainty is based on fear, and the spiritual seeker should never fear the truth. The truth is nothing to fear, and what we humans know of the truth is always changing.

Conformists fear error. They talk about it and discuss it endlessly, and the authority figures among the conformists are looked to as the final arbiters of what the "truth" is, but this "truth" is based on convention and these arbiters claim to speak for God, but this is the biggest error of all because God is too big for any humans to know What God Wants even if they claim it is revealed in a book. Those seeking a spiritual life know this. Spiritual seekers know that wisdom, as Socrates said, comes from knowing what you don't know, and the fact of the matter is that no humans know the mind of God.

Continue with your doubt. Keep it alive. Follow it where it leads you. The universe is a mysterious place, and a sense of reverence and awe for all that we do not know is one of the finest qualities of a spiritual person.

Quote of the day

"There used to be a moment in the life of an urban child, usually between the ages of 12 and 14, when there was a first time to navigate the city alone. It was a rite of passage that communicated, 'You are on your own and responsible.' Tethering via cell phone buffers this moment; tethered children think differently about themselves. They are not quite alone."

Sherry Turkle

Morning meditation - Listen to your own heart beat

The mind seeks stimulation. The current generation raised on TV, computers, cel phones, Ipods, video games is truly the ADD generation. New images, thoughts, sounds, sensations must occur every 10 seconds or the person is bored, distracted, agitated, restless.

External stimulation deprives us from the experience of looking within, of seeking inner peace, or resting in our centeredness and oneness with existence.

Modern life is endlessly entertaining, but soul deadening banal. The real treasure is within a person, but it seems that fewer and fewer people realize it, and therefore continue to lead lives empty of lasting satisfaction and fulfillment. Turn off some of the external noise and listen to your own heart beat.