*Brian Wilcox. 'Eyes of Peace'
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Making inspiration alive in your life is just practice carried on day by day.
*Dainin Katagiri. Each Moment Is the Universe.
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I was fortunate my early religious sect encouraged me to engage in daily spiritual practices. Central to this is what we called a daily quiet time. Most persons did this first thing in the morning. Primary to this was scripture readings, devotional reading, and prayers.
My family did not engage such a morning time. On a trip, my family and I stayed in a hotel. I got up and went to a place alone, sat in a chair, and began the quiet time. After everyone arose and was ready to leave, I was told my dad was wanting me to come with them. I refused. My mother sided with me, honoring this time. My father never sided with me, but left me alone to finish. I refused even to cut short the time. This was, ironically, what he had taught me: to be a disciple of Christ, to put Jesus first, not him, not anyone else. When I had completed this time, I returned to the room, and we left the hotel.
Over the last decades, this daily practice has continued to direct my heart to the One daily. While the form of the practice has changed, the need for and joy of it remains. Daily time set aside for intentional time alone with the Alone aids in keeping my heart turned toward the Light.
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What motivated me most to remain in that seat that day, refusing to get up and follow the wishes of my earthly father? Love. Love has always been the path for me. And love is to be practiced. I took vows to engage a way of life in 1995, so to nurture and embody this love, to the One and everyone. This centrality of love, in fact, is noted early in the classic rule of Benedict, penned in 516.
Let the monks, therefore, practice this zeal with most ardent love; . . . Let them practice fraternal charity with a chaste love.
Spiritual practice is loving, for it arises from a heart of love responding to Love by giving love.
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Said a disappointed visitor, "Why has my stay here yielded no fruit?" "Could it be because you lacked the courage to shake the tree?" said the Master benignly.
*Anthony de Mello. One Minute Wisdom.
Since everything in time and space is always becoming, we are ever becoming what we will be. Whether we act wisely or unwisely, whether we are diligent or lazy, whether we are greedy or generous, we are becoming. Even if we sat down and appeared to do nothing, we would still be becoming. We are creating ourselves, by our every thought and action, moment-by-moment. The question is not, "What will I do?" but "What will I become by what I do?"
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The Sage noticed a number of his disciples read a lot and over-relished discussing their thoughts about the books. He said, "The Way isn't about information; it's about transformation."
The early monastic movement began using the Greek term praktika. This Greek word referred to the doings or practices essential to spiritual transformation. The monks engaged Practices, what we now call Spiritual Disciples, Spiritual Exercises, Holy Habits, or Means of Grace, to cooperate with the Spirit in growth. After all, our word "disciple" and "discipline" are from the same root. Practices are what we do to shake the tree.
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Practice, Practice, Practice
Hold to the View
transform the energy
of afflictive emotion
while suffering remains
dormant inside the bud.
proceed to wed
it with inspiration.
for Manifestation arises
*Brian K. Wilcox. An Ache for Union.
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A woman who followed a nonduality teacher said, "He told me that I don't need to engage any spiritual practices now, for since I'm already one and know I'm one, I don't need to try to get there." The Sage said, "Yes, if all you want is to know you're one, then, fine, sit on your laurels and do nothing. But, if you want to know you're one, you'd better do something." The woman, confused, said, "Now, didn't you just say the same thing twice?" "The words, dear one, where the same, but I didn't say the same thing twice. See, it seems, after all, you do need to engage some spiritual practices."
A seeker asked the Sage, "Sir, are the Buddhists correct in saying there's only one shore." "Absolutely," said the Sage. "Well," the seeker continued, "since there's only one shore, why do I need to do anything to get there. I'm already there." "Because," answered the Sage, "you'll never get to the one shore if you don't paddle from this shore to the opposite shore." "That doesn't make any sense," replied the seeker. Said the Sage, "I recommend you get start paddling."
A man and woman wanted much to have a baby together. They read many books and articles on having a baby. They attended workshops on having a baby. They even traveled across the country to participate, at great expense, in a "How to Have a Baby" conference. Yet, after many months, they became so saddened by not having a baby, they went to see a fertility specialist. The wife said, "Doctor, it's heartbreaking to us, my not being able to get pregnant. Can you help us?" The doctor replied, "Possibly, but first, I need to know one thing. How many times have you tried to get pregnant?" The husband said, "Well, doctor, we've talked about having a baby for a long time now."
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So, despite what some teachers say, spiritual practice never ends. This is partly for the journey never ends. While our spiritual practice or how we relate to spiritual practice may change, we never get to the point where we do not need fidelity to some form of spiritual discipline, and daily. Even if we were to arrive at some so-called being enlightened, that is just another place to start again.
On the Way, every new ending is a new beginning. We may arrive many times on the path, but we never finally arrive, and that is part of the adventure of walking the Way. So, let us identify what the Benedictines have called Tools of the Trade and utilize them to grow daily into beings of wisdom and compassion.
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©️ Brian Wilcox, 2020
*Brian can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org; his book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, is available through major online booksellers, including Amazon and Books-A-Million, or via the publisher, AuthorHouse.
*Translation of St. Benedict's Holy Rule, Rev. Boniface Verheyen.