It’s ‘in here,’ not ‘out there.’ –Robert K.Greenleaf
After 50+ years of searching and seeking I have come to one conclusion: Life is a mystery to be lived! Life is not a problem to be solved. The mystery. Consider this: there is no explanation I can give that would explain away all the sufferings and evil and torture and destruction and hunger and dis-ease in the world.
‘Life is a mystery!’ My thinking, my mind, cannot make sense out of it. Life – think: Reality – is not a problem. If there is a problem then I am the problem. All of the great faith and humanistic traditions tell us this: ‘I – the person – am the problem!’ I don’t like to embrace this idea – I know few folks who do.
The great faith and humanistic traditions counsel us, over and over and over, to act rooted in love. Do not act rooted in ‘negative’ feelings. As I sit here this morning I am holding two questions (and I invite you, Gentle Reader, to also hold them): How often do I act rooted in anger, guilt, spite, fear, rage, hate and envy? Before I choose to act – or react – how often do I pause and reflect in order to ensure that I am awake, aware, intentional and purpose-full and that I am aware of ‘who I am’ and how this ‘who’ impacts my choice of action or reaction?
The great mystic, Meister Eckhart, tells us, ‘It is not by your actions that you will be saved, but by your being. It is not by what you do, but by what you are that you will be judged.’ I hold the following image: I am standing in front of St. Peter (or God) after I die and the question I hear is not the one I expect to hear; the question I hear is: ‘Were you the best Richard you could become?’ Being precedes Doing!
St. Paul adds to this with: ‘If I give my body to be burned and all my goods to feed the poor and have not love…’ It is not my actions, it is my being that counts.
How much energy do we put into changing others while neglecting to change ourselves? For Christians, Jesus was clear as to who he was sent to comfort – not the righteous but the sinners. Paradoxically, the righteous become the sinners and the sinners become the ones healed; the last shall become first.
I have learned that I ‘see’ people and things not as they are, but as I am. This is true, it seems, for all of us. This is why when two of us look at the same person we often see two different people and we have two different reactions to the person as a result (listen to how people view the refugee or immigrant, for example). We see people not as they are, but as we are [psychologists call this projection].
In 1972 I had a mentor who looked at me and said: ‘All is good!’ Talk about being disturbed. How often have I said in my life: ‘If only________ would change then I would be fine?’ How often have I said, ‘You made me feel____?’ Why do I continue to give this power to make me feel a certain way to the other(s)? I have experienced that when I am able to be different the other will, miracle of miracles, become different – and I will perceive the other as different as well. Someone who was ‘rage-full’ now seems ‘frightened’ and ‘vulnerable.’
How much time do I spend blaming the other(s) or society or ‘my lot in life’?
A mentor provided me, many years ago, with four steps. He was clear: ‘Repeat these thousands of times’ (this, in itself was off-putting). Here are the four steps: (1) identify the negative feelings in you – name each one; (2) understand and accept that these feelings are ‘in you’ – they are not in the world (think: external reality); (3) do not embrace them as essential to the ‘I’ that is you – feelings come and go; (4) understand that when you change then everything will change.
Become the change you want to see in the world. –Gandhi