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27 September 2011

The Golden Rule (A-Z)

Food for thought as I sermonize:

Aboriginal Spirituality
We are as much alive 
as we keep the Earth alive.

- Chief Dan George
Baha'i Faith
Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, 

and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.
- Baha'u'llah, Gleanings

Treat not others in ways 
that you yourself would find hurtful.
- The Buddha, Udana-Varga 5.18
In everything, do to others 
as you would have them do to you; 
for this is the law and the prophets.
- Jesus, Matthew 7:12

One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct
. . .loving kindness. 
Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.
- Confucius, Analects 15.23
This is the sum of duty: 
do not do to others what wouldcause pain if done to you.
- Mahabharata 5:1517
Not one of you truly believes 
until you wish for others whatyou wish for yourself.
- The Prophet Muhammad, Hadith
One should treat all creatures in the world as
one would like to be treated.
- Mahavira, Sutrakritanga
What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. 
This is the whole Torah; 
all the rest is commentary.
- Hillel, Talmud, Shabbath 31a
I am a stranger to no one; 
and no one is a stranger to me.
Indeed, I am a friend to all.
- Guru Granth Sahib, pg. 1299
Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain 
and yourneighbor's loss as your own loss.
- T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien, 213-218
We affirm and promote respect 
for the interdependent web of all existence, 
of which we are a part.
- Unitarian principle
Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.
- Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29

23 September 2011

Holy Smoke

When Words Are Not Enough
I kindle my fire

ignite my coals 
and watch the sparks fly heavenwards

I pile the pebbles of frankincense
overlaid with grains of myrrh

The first puff
spirals up and out
I inhale

My prayer sits before me
praying with me
praying for me
praying through me

The smoke has its own vocabulary
the scent its own grammar

Together we pray

22 September 2011

Powerless and Prayerful

The world is spinning maddeningly, dizzyingly off-kilter. Georgia is preparing to execute Troy Davis, a man widely believed to be innocent. Georgia has the legal right to do so because all of the legal formalities have been observed so far and the Supreme Court has never ruled that it is a violation of human or civil rights to execute an innocent person - as long as they have had due process that meets the legal definition. The gulf between legal and moral has never been wider or seemingly more impassable. The state has the legal right, power and authority to kill and seems hell bent on doing so. People are protesting and preying, writing letters, faxes and emails and making phone calls. It remains to be seen whether this will make a difference in Troy's life or in our own.

And frustrated by decades of occupation and failed and floundering peace talks, the Palestinians are ready to appeal to the United Nations to recognize them as a sovereign state. If the UN does so, Israel will immediately be (more) guilty of occupying a sovereign state as opposed to a (merely) disputed territory - as they now justify their presence in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza under international law. Israel has been exerting pressure on nations to oppose the bid for statehood, most of all the United States which has veto power. President Obama has said that he will veto the Palestinian appeal because the statehood issue needs to be worked out between Israel and Palestine in the peace process. This is the most disingenuous thing I have ever heard him say. The peace process is broken. Israel continues to flout it by building and protecting settlements inside of the Palestinian Territories. Israel has unilaterally rejected the internationally approved boundaries by building a wall on Palestinian land shaping new boundaries in their favor. What peace process? What other options do the Palestinians have? Politically, supporting Israel is more beneficial than sporting the Palestinians. But is is not the right thing to do. The US needs to use its influence with Israel - our money, the billions of dollars we send them every year while we are in a depression (if you're black, brown and poor) - and pressure Israel back to the table for meaningful negotiations and real compromise.

Both of these situations leave me feeling absolutely powerless. And so I pray. I hope. I believe.
I pray that even if my prayers are not answered I will still believe in the power of prayer.

16 September 2011

A Hindu-Christian

I don't exactly believe in the Trinity. I believe that God is One-and-Many. Three is a good number. So is seven. And twelve. And 1001. Perhaps there is no number. ("There is no spoon" for my sister/fellow Matrix fans.) God is:

God is infinite. And infinity itself.
I can't tell you how many times my sister and brother Hindu sojourners on this island in space have said that they believe in one God with many aspects and manifestations. Yet others, mostly Christians (but also Muslims and Jews) call them polytheists. I've also heard Christians reject the idea that the Trinity is three gods.
How can the Three be One for Christians and the Many not be One for Hindus?

One of the mindsets that has stayed with me after my trips to India is how many Hindus worship Christ. There are more Hindus for whom Jesus is their God than there are baptized, communing or confessing Christians in India.

I love the idea of God as Many and Pluriform. I love a God who is so much more than I am, than I can imagine or name. I also love icons and images. Perhaps the most enduring for me are smoke - incense wafting and curling, fire - candlelight and roaring fires, and water - waterfalls and crashing waves.
In the name of the Womb-waters of Earth, Unquenchable Fire and and the Most Fragrant Many-Named God, Amen.

13 September 2011

'Tis A Gift To Be Simple

'Tis a gift to be simple. But I'm not sure I have that gift. I do like my stuff.
This year I'm something of a happy vagabond as I travel the world for months at a time, mostly out of one suitcase. (A three month-trip from the tropics to a snow zone necessitates a second case.) I don't miss my stuff from home as much as I thought I would, although I'm aware of the ways in which my day-to-day life has changed.
Staying in furnished rooms, apartments, studios and suites is ok because I know I have a home with all of my stuff to go back to. I have found myself frustrated while trying to assemble a minimal collection of functional stuff wherever I am. When I get my living-and-working accommodations just right I'm surprised by how much less stuff there is. Then I think what stuff could I do away with at home.
I'm nearly overwhelmed by the box of unfiled files and and others of unsorted stuff from a move 8 years ago. I couple probable throw it all away but there are two letters I'd like to find...
And I love not wearing shoes in a house which has always seemed easier when it was someone else's house - and in the tropics where shoes are often simple slip ons.
What of this simplicity will I take back with me?

10 September 2011

Rejection is the Worst Pain

Rejection is the worst pain I can imagine and my fear of rejection is paralyzing. I have been frozen these last few months, unable to blog, unable to write. Even though I have survived other rejections, this one has been nearly disabling. But I am still here, blogging and soon, writing again.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
Frank Herbert, Dune

05 September 2011

Born to Make Music

My friend who I'm calling Miles - more of his story is below - has found a way to play his guitar in spite of the brain injury that has frozen his right hand. Another friend realized that Miles could hold a small disc about the diameter of the doorknob, about an inch think. He attached a vertical piece of metal on it and Miles uses it as a slide on the strings of his guitar as he learns to finger with his left hand. Miles was born to make music and is making it happen.

I've been spending time with a new friend. [The photo is one I found on the 'net; it's not my friend, but he'd like it.] I'll call him Miles - I think he'd like that because he is in his own way as consummate a musician as is the eternal Miles Davis. Miles, the earthbound, was also born to make music. It is in his soul, it is his vocation. Whatever other jobs he has held, alongside his vocations as husband and father, he is a musician. His preferred medium is the guitar. I didn't know him in his guitar playing days. But I have heard of his renown.
I met Miles after he suffered a brain injury. He spends most of his days in a wheelchair, but he is not bound to it. He stands hourly to do his exercises and can take a few dozen steps at a time. His right hand, however, is curled and immobile. His guitar playing days are over.
But Miles was born to make music. It is in his soul, it is his vocation. He has had to find another medium. He has chosen the harmonica because he can play it with his mouth and left hand. On my last visit he was adjusting an old camera tripod to be a stand for his harmonica. He strapped a pillow on it, leans over and rests the harmonica and his hand on the pillow.
Last night I went over while some of his friends from his old band one some other musicians came over to play. And I heard the music in his soul.
Miles' injury did not exempt him from his vocation. He has all this music welling up in him and he had to find a way to get it out. And he did. He reminds me how hard vocations can be, even when they are joy-filled. Just because God has called you and equipped you to do something, doesn't mean it will be easy. But it will be the most fulfilling thing you have ever done. And if it seems like God has called you to an impossible vocation, don't give up because God has enabled you to do what God has called you to do, no matter how difficult the task.