Previous month:
January 2007
Next month:
March 2007

Morning meditation - Happiness comes from being aware that we a part of the whole

What makes us happy as human beings? Our consumer culture tells us that its the acquisition of stuff. The hedonists believe that it is the satisfaction of desire. Many people believe that happiness comes from having power and control to satisfy one's will. However, more careful observation might lead one to conclude than stuff only encumber, satisfaction of desire leads to depression afterwards, and power and control ends in frustration in oneself and receiving resentment and hatred from others. True happiness, it seems, is paradoxical in the sense that true happiness comes from voluntary poverty and simplification, of moderating the satisfaction of one's desires, and from refraining from having power and control over others, but focusing instead on managing one's own emotional, social, and spiritual life.

What seems to make people truly happy is the utilization of one's talents and abilities in ways that the person finds satisfying and fulfilling, and the ability to pursue one's interests in ways that the person finds rewarding. In using our talents and abilities, we are giving to others and to the world something that is of value to ourselves and to the world.

The old adage is that it is in giving than we receive; it is in teaching that we learn; it is in loving that we are loved. As it is said, "To have a friend, be a friend." It is in the interconnectivity of life that we find happinesss; in the realization that what I do, and think, and feel has profound effects on the world. One for all and all for one. We are a part of something that involves more than our own ego, and when we reflect on this, contribute to this, become engaged with this, we become truly happy. Happiness comes from being aware with compassion, reverence, and gratitude that we are a part of something much greater than ourselves, something awesome, miraculous, and undescribable. Some people might call that awareness ecstacy.

Morning meditation - Don't give your soul away

There are always dragons to slay, monsters under the bed, bogey men to kidnap or kill us, devils to takes us to hell. Children are afraid of mythic monsters, adults are afraid of death, we all are afraid of humiliation and shame. Fear is the most primal of human emotions and safety is its antidote. And what will make us safe?

We run to the protection of parents and parental figures. If parents can't keep us safe, then perhaps extended family members, the white knight, the pastor and the church, the government and its armies, the school and its education, the physician and his medicines, the gang leader and his homeboys.

True safety and security comes from our awareness of God, our Higher Power, the Tao which sustains not only us but all of existence. As St. Paul says, "If God is with you who can be against you?"

The less enlightened willingly give up their power to others in return for protection, for the promise of safety and security, but ultimately they cannot protect us because death comes sooner or later to us all. Their ability to protect us is an illusion and we have made our compact with the devil turning our souls into whores, into prostitutes, giving up our souls in return for illusionary protection. Tracy Chapman has a great song in which she sings, "My mama, she told me, she said she learned the hard way, that all that you have is your soul."

Don't give your soul away to any church, any government, any ideology for protection. They will use it, in the end, to meet their own interests, and your safety, security and well being is no longer a matter of their interest or concern. You will have been had. You have given your soul away.

Quote of the day

"The Bush Administration does not treat the attackers of 9/11, and those who might be attackers in the future, as real human beings. It treats them as the villains in a story, as monsters who must be destroyed. The president and the neoconservatives have produced a huge body of public words about monsters and the need to destroy them."

Ira Chernus

Morning meditation - Relax even if it's not OK

We live in fear of not getting what we want in the next moment. We are always planning ahead. We have to do this and have to do that, and we want this to happen and that to happen, and we are expecting this and expecting that, and if only this would happen and if only that would happen then we could be happy or if not happy, at least content, and if not content, at least not in pain which we fear.

Relax. Take it easy. Perhaps we should give up picking and choosing, give up our expectations, take life as it comes, let things unfold as they will, just let things happen. Life seems to have a will of its own and whatever is going to happen is going to happen. It's OK even if its not OK, OK? Let it go.

Morning meditation - Theological committments manifested in behavior

What are your theological committments? Dr. Paul Pearsall, a psychoneuroimmunologist, has said that before a psychotherapist can presume to help someone, the psychotherapist must first understand how the client would answer these three questions: Why was I born?; What is the purpose of my life?; and What happens to me when I die?

Most human beings of adult age could have some sort of answer to these questions although, upon the first asking, the easiest and most common answer is "I don't know." Pushing people by not accepting this, "I don't know." as an answer will stimulate them to consider the questions more deeply and come up with some further speculations and answers usually what they have collected from others.

For people living a spiritual life the answer to the question, "What are your theological committments?" will be found in the answer to other questions such as "What do you think will make you happy?" or simply, "What does make you happy?" As it says in the Bible, if you would understand a person's faith, a person's belief, find out where their treasure lies. What is important to them, what would they die for? A second path of inquiry would be how do they handle and manage their pain, their suffering? What is their belief about how to handle injustice, attack, loss, pain? If we understand a person's understanding of what will make them happy, and how they should handle pain, we will be in the ball park in understanding their theological committments.

Actions speak louder than words. It is what people do, not what they say which is a better indicator of their true theological beliefs and committments. Jesus said it well when He said, "By their fruit, you will know them."

Morning meditation - The nature of God cannot be captured in a book

Jews, Christians, and Muslims are often called "the people of the book" because their religious beliefs are said to be based on their scriptures, the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran. These religions attribute authority to these books by believing that they are the "revealed" word of God, that is, God speaks through the words in these books. This idea of "revelation" is an interesting idea because it is little more than a group of humans, men usually, who agree to agree on what stories and writings should be in their "revealed" text, and what stories and writings don't make the cut.

Once these decisions have been made, subsequent teachers and preachers then justify their teachings on what they think these texts mean. From an empirical perspective attributing substantive authority to such a system of knowledge has little value. From a social, psychological, and political perspective attributing authority to such a system is very significant because it has heavily influenced the course of human behavior and history.

Galen Guengerich, a pastor in  All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in New York City, said in a sermon, "I came to see that not everything in the bible is revelation, but I also discovered that not all revelation is in the bible."

Indeed, the power of science, of literature, of poetry, of music, of art, of dance, of sport, of most human endeavor to reveal truths about life and human nature and our place in the universe is awesome and often beautiful. God is revealed to us in all of God's creation and not just in some historic Patriarchial texts. Religion, unfortunately, for many, has become a game of memorizing and quoting scriptural texts as if it was a game of trivial pursuit, or a legal game of out debating your opponent so you can impose your belief system on them, or of justifying some action or behavior in the minds of people we would like to manipulate and exploit for some ulterior motives.

Using texts literally to impose rigid control is a deadly and suffocating activity. Rather than being life giving, it often is stultifying and ennervating and in order to provide the security of certitude it kills the spirit imprisoning it in limited container of confinement. God cannot be confined, and defined in a book. Those who would try sadly don't understand the nature of God.