THE WAY OUT OF FEAR

Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.

Source: Pema Chödrön
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
(Shambhala; Anniversary edition, 2016) pages 33-34

CONSIDER THIS

Fear whispers into your ears all the time and whether you listen to it or not is the choice that you get to make in your life.  Many of us make the mistake of assuming as true the fearful stories and fear scenarios that we confront in our imagination. Instead, what if you chose to befriend fear and instead of getting paralyzed by the stories, you decided to find out for yourself and did the thing you feared.  Fear is built on structures of assumptions, lack of action and lack of awareness. Once you move through the fog of fear and shine the light of awareness by taking action or moving forward, fear loses its power and efficacy.

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“When things fall apart or you feel fear, rather than feel you’re getting the short end of the stick, feel lucky. Only when you feel fear will you feel the opportunity to have the courage to grow. Being courageous and having a great life is all about being intimate with fear in a wise and graceful way. Feel the fear, and then do what needs to get done. Rather than being depressed about fear, lean into it, and see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.” — Pema Chödrön as paraphrased by Cathy Chester (AnEmpoweredSpirit.com)

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JUST LISTENING

The curious reporter asked the leader of a religious community, “what do you and your sisters in the community say to God when you gather together for prayer?”

The sister replied, “We say nothing. We just listen”

“Oh!” The reporter sighed. “What does God say to you then?”

And the sister, with a twinkle in her eyes, replied, “Nothing. God just listens.”

Source: Unknown. I tell the story here as I recall hearing it.

CONSIDER THIS

“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”– Franz Kafka

START BEFORE YOU ARE READY

“I was in my late twenties, so I had a business, but nobody knew who I was at the time. I was headed to the Virgin Islands and I had a very pretty girl waiting for me, so I was, umm, determined to get there on time.

At the airport, my final flight to the Virgin Islands was cancelled because of maintenance or something. It was the last flight out that night. I thought this was ridiculous, so I went and chartered a private airplane to take me to the Virgin Islands, which I did not have the money to do.

Then, I picked up a small blackboard, wrote “Virgin Airlines. $39.” on it, and went over to the group of people who had been on the flight that was cancelled. I sold tickets for the rest of the seats on the plane, used their money to pay for the chartered plane, and we all went to the Virgin Islands that night.”

Richard Branson
www.virgin.com

CONSIDER THIS

At times we feel ill-equipped, underprepared and unqualified. But the truth is that what we already have right here, right now, is enough to get us started.  It does not matter if you’re trying to craft a blog post, write a book, lose weight, paint a landscape, compose a melody, run a marathon … what you have right here, right now is enough to get you going. So, don’t wait. Start. Start now even before you are ready!

THE WORLD MIRRORS THE HEART

THE WORLD MIRRORS THE HEART

Su Dongpo prided himself on his wit and liked to debate Master Foyin. One day, over tea, he challenged the master. “Foyin, people think you are an enlightened monk, but to me you just look like a big, stinking pile of worthless dung sitting on your pillow all day long.”

Su Dongpo leaned backward and crossed his arms slyly.

Master Foyin placed his hands in prayer position, “My dear Dongpo, but to me you look like a Buddha.”

Su Dongpo grinned and bid Master Foyin farewell.

When Su Dongpo got home, he was wearing a triumphant smile. His sister asked him what happened.

“Today I outsmarted Master Foyin,”Su Dongpo replied, then recounted the events to her.

“Oh no, brother! I’m sorry to tell you this, but you lost badly,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t you realize that the world mirrors the heart? Master Foyin sees you as a Buddha because he is a Buddha. You see him as a pile of dung. What does that make you?”

Su Dongpo turned beet red. Then, all of a sudden, he became enlightened.

Source: There are many versions of this traditional story, each with their own unique take on the tale. This is the version as told by Qigong master, Jihui (Robert) Peng, in The Master Key: Qigong Secrets for Vitality, Love and Wisdom. (Sounds True, 2014) pages 223-224

CONSIDER THIS

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” —C.G. Jung

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.” Hermann Hesse

“We discover in ourselves what others hide from us and we recognize in others what we hide from ourselves.” —Vauvenargues

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THE GENEROUS TREE

A man was travelling through the desert.  He was hungry, thirsty and tired when he found a tree that provided abundant shade, delicious fruit, and a spring ran under it.

The man ate of the fruit, drank of the water and rested in the shade.

When he was ready to resume his journey he turned toward the tree and said:

“Tree, how shall I bless you? Shall I bless you with sweet fruit? Your fruit is already sweet. Shall I bless you with abundant shade? Your shade is already abundant. Shall I ask for a spring to run under you?  A spring is already running under you. There is one thing with which I can bless you: May it be God’s will for all the trees that come from your seed to be like you.”

Source: Talmud Bavli, Taanit, 5b
Quoted in  Pablo R. Andinach
The Book of Gratitudes: An Encounter Between Life and Faith
(Wipf & Stock, 2016) page 93

CONSIDER THIS

A blessing is an act, gesture or word whereby one person transmits the power of life to another. | Walter Brueggemann

How do you, like the generous tree in the story, transmit the power of life to another?

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IN SEARCH OF THE PATH

“I am willing to leave everything. Let me be your disciple.”

“How does a person choose his Path in life?”

“Through sacrifice. A path that demands sacrifice is a true path.”

The master accidentally bumped into a bookcase. A very rare porcelain vase fell off the shelf and the lad flung himself forward to catch it before it hit the ground. He fell the wrong way and broke his arm. But he was able to save the precious vase.

“Which sacrifice is greater, to see the vase shatter into pieces on the floor or breaking your arm to save it?”

“I don’t know.”

“So then, do not try to guide your choice through sacrifice. The path is chosen by our capacity to compromise with each step we take along the way.”

Source: Based on a story I heard  first from Paolo Coelho

CONSIDER THIS

“The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and their destination.” – John Schaar

IS MY DAD IN HEAVEN?

It was Emanuele’s turn to ask Pope Francis a question. When he got to the microphone, he froze and cried. “I can’t do it,” he said. Even a papal assistant couldn’t get him to loosen his tongue.

“Come, come to me, Emanuele,” the pope said. “Come and whisper your question in my ear.”

The aide helped the boy up to the platform where the pope was. Emanuele was sobbing, and Pope Francis enveloped him in a big embrace.

With their heads touching, the pope and the boy spoke privately to each other before Emanuele returned to his seat.

“If only we could all cry like Emanuele when we have an ache in our hearts like he has,” the pope told the children. “He was crying for his father and had the courage to do it in front of us because in his heart there is love for his father.”

With Emanuele’s permission, Pope Francis went on to share the boy’s question: “A little while ago my father died. He was a non-believer, but he had me and my brothers baptized. He was a good man. Is my dad in heaven?’’

“How beautiful to hear a son say of his father, ‘He was good,’” the pope told the children. “And what a beautiful witness of a son who inherited the strength of his father, who had the courage to cry in front of all of us. If that man was able to make his children like that, then it’s true, he was a good man. He was a good man.”

“God is the one who says who goes to heaven,” the Pope explained.

“What do you think? God has a dad’s heart. And with a dad who was not a believer, but who baptized his children and gave them that bravura, do you think God would be able to leave him far from himself?”

“Does God abandon his children?” the pope asked.

The children and all present shouted, “No.”

“There, Emanuele, that is the answer,” the pope told the boy. “God surely is proud of your father.”

Then Pope Francis encouraged Emanuele saying, “talk to your dad; pray to your dad.”

Source: Based on Cindy Wooden’s report
in Catholic News Service

CONSIDER THIS

What is heaven for you? How would you describe or define it?

Consider this short verse from Rumi:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make any sense.

Rumi as rendered by Coleman Barks in “The Essential Rumi”

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