*Brian Wilcox 'the Gifts we enjoy'
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"A seeker asked the Sage, "Do you ever wish you could've lived at the time of someone like the Buddha or Christ and met him personally?"
"No," said the Sage.
Seeing the confused look on the inquirer's face, the Sage continued, "Why would I wish I could've met Christ or Buddha back then, when I meet them now?"
"And how's that possible?"
"Whose face am I now seeing through your face?"
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Yesterday, I referred to other persons being a Sacrament of Presence for us. We might be surprised how the person who mirrors our True Self back to us and manifests the Light to us appears much unlike us.
We each have had persons whom we could say of, "He, or she, made a real difference in my spiritual life." Or, "I feel something different; I can't put my finger on it, about her." Possibly, we have been such a means of Life for someone else, too.
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A kind man was a Sacrament of Grace to Thomas Merton. Merton was a university student, a Catholic, and to become a Trappist monk. This man and Merton appeared much different. Merton wrote about Dr. Brahmachari (Hindu for "monk") with humor and honor, in Seven Storey Mountain. The two met initially at Grand Central Station, New York.
There stood a shy little man, very happy, with a huge smile, all teeth, in the midst of a brown face. And on the top of his head was a yellow turban with Hindu prayers written all over it in red. And, on his feet, sure enough: sneakers.
Merton and Brahmachari became friends. Merton appreciated how his Hindu friend criticized the Western world and relativized everything persons in the university found so important.
He would simply make statements of fact, and then burst out laughing - his laughter was quiet and ingenious, and it expressed his complete amazement at the very possibility that people should live the way he saw them living all around him.
Possibly, the most intriguing thing about Merton's friendship with Brahmachari was the Hindu never tried to give any insight into his Hindu faith. Instead, he told Merton there are many beautiful books of mystical Christianity, and he recommended Merton read St. Augustine's Confessions and Thomas A' Kempis' The Imitation of Christ.
Merton saw Brahmachari as a potential God-send to him. After Brahmachari relativized Merton's youthful curiosity for the East, Merton became very sensitive to the West's mystical Christian tradition. Only much later did Merton immerse himself in Eastern faiths. Likely without his grounding in Western mysticism, he would have never been prepared to appreciate Eastern religions so much.