I DON’T KNOW

All faiths, organized and organic, are getting you ready for a leap. Even well outside what most folks define as the constructs of religion, those seeking personal or spiritual growth must be willing to release what may be a long-held truth.

It’s being asked to surrender your ego. This is no easy feat.  The ego, bossy and brazen, demanding and full of expectations, is our fortress of defense mechanisms against the many-headed monster aka the sum of our fears.  And it’s a tenacious part of who we are.

Yet it’s helpful to understand that the ego is best understood as a “child king”, one who wields great power but has little in the way of wisdom or maturity. Lacking these vital tools, it does little to serve us in making the best decisions for ourselves, in terms of love and happiness, in the ways of growing into our best self.

That’s because, like any child, it only knows what it has been taught by influential others in its life. Most of our ego was developed during our formative years, and much of that was influenced by outside forces-our parents, family, and the environment in which we were raised. Unfortunately, this was also when we were least able to decide between helpful and harmful information, between truth and mere opinion.

To always want our way, to always need to be right, is born of the ego.  It is born of fear.  It blocks the Love that is Always there, already seeing us as worthy of love, as lovable. You move away that stone and the Life Force is there, God is present.

In my life, I have believed many things and some of them quite passionately. Most have proved themselves to be wrong. And those that may be right, does it make a difference to the quality of my relationships, to the healing of the planet’s ills? I dare say, no. In fact, my precious opinions have never made anyone happy, least of all me.

There is a bliss in knowing that I am not my opinions. There is a bliss in not knowing.

Why is it that all the wisdom traditions point to the humble and the lowly, the poor in spirit, that they are the ones that are closest to God?  It is because they are humble.They are honest and vulnerable.

Growing in the spiritual life is the opposite of an egoist venture.  It takes place not by acquisition of something new.  Growth is accomplished not by knowing things, by gathering more information, but by releasing our current defense postures.  It is only in the letting go of fear and our attachment to self-image, that the soil of our non-knowing can be a fertile one.  “I know” doesn’t get us anywhere but separate and lonely.  Non-knowing, giving up expectations in relationships, reaps a harvest of love and a simple peace.

We still get to choose what we believe,  we can still have discussion about our thoughts.  But we no longer feel compelled to defend our opinions so ardently.  We realize that we are not, in fact, our opinions.

Quote for the day: “Look at how many rigid stands I’ve taken in the past that now I see were mistaken.  So how is this new stand different?  When I take a stand against another child of God, I split my mind.  That doesn’t mean, never write a letter to the newspaper, or keep taking the car to an incompetent mechanic.  But it does mean, take no stand against that mechanic in my heart.” – Hugh Prather

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SPIRITUAL NOTES TO MYSELF

Hugh Prather, whom the New York Times has called “an American Kahil Gibran”, wrote a book with the title of today’s blog.  In it, are anecdotes, observations, and  spiritual wisdom that Prather has collected and absorbed for himself in over 30 years as minister, lecturer, and counselor.

You may have notebooks or quotes on your memo board that speak poignantly to your heart.  Or perhaps, they are there in way as a reminder for spiritual or emotional hopes you have…the person you would like to be at your best.

Also, there are literally thousands (probably more like millions) of books on meditation, prayer, affirmation, every religion since the dawn of time, and spirituality…practices, techniques, and thoughts.

I have more than a few of them myself.  I also keep several notebooks full with quotes, ideas, and prayers that inspire, teach, or bring comfort to me.

However, I tack a few up on my cork board beside my writing desk for several months at a time.  After absorbing their wisdom, I rotate in fresh ones . Here’s what’s up there right now:

“I will not die an unlived life.  I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.  I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.  I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.”  – Dawna Markova   

“For things that you believe in, pray like a preacher but fight like the Devil”.

“If we hold resentments toward the people who let us down, we’ll be exhausted.  It’s better to focus on the ones who have been there for us”.

The content of two fortune cookies are pinned up there: “Everybody feels lucky for having you as a friend” AND “We are made to persist.  That’s how we find out who we are”.

“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”- Edith Wharton

A note that my beloved Dad (who tragically died too young) had written me many years ago:

 “In case you’re depressed today and feeling lonely: You are pretty!  You are smart!  You are vivacious! You have a warm smile!  You have an interesting personality!  You are a little wacky!  Five out of six ain’t bad, Love, Dad xxx” 

These thoughts make me laugh, give me a spiritual shot in the arm, and keep me reaching towards my Higher Self, the one God wants for me.

These are fitting thoughts as my little/big chicks fly the summer coop: one off to another year of college in Rhode Island, one on a year’s adventure, first in Paris and then to Senegal, and the “baby”, 6’1″, driving a car, writing his own music, towering over me, teasing me, “his little mama”.  

In closing, a gem from Mr. Prather: “Our children can see us.  They can’t see God.  Our function is not to describe God’s love or to talk endlessly about it, but to reflect it so that it can be seen.”