Brian Wilcox 'Emerging ~ Red Hollyhock'
Today's Saying: We melt in Love, no longer needing consciously to love.
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Ram Dass -
We're all just walking each other home.
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Once Jesus visited a church. He stood up during the worship and said, "Friends, you've ceased following me." The people, confused, began asking him how that could be, after all, they affirmed, they loved and adored him. He replied, "You ceased following me when what you think about others became more important than loving them."
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A visitor to the group asked the Sage about Heaven.
Do you believe in Heaven?
What do you think Heaven will be like?
Do you mean, "What do I think Heaven is like?"
No, I mean, "What will Heaven be like when we get there?"
Get there when?
In the afterlife, after we die.
I don't talk about Heaven after someone dies.
But you said you believed in Heaven.
I said, "Certainly!"
The visitor decided it was futile to continue the discussion.
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A clergyperson got frustrated hearing one of her members all the time talking about an afterlife. So, during lunch one day, the minister told him the following story.
Two men were lost in a wood in the mountains, far from anyone. At night, an angel appeared to them. The angel said, "I'm going to show you Heaven." They had a vision of Heaven. It's beauty overwhelmed them.
After the revelation, the two men stared at the angel. The remembrance of the paradise left them speechless.
The angel asked, "Alright, are you ready to go there now?" One man enthusiastically spoke, "Yes! I'm ready!" After thinking a moment about it, the other said, "No, I'm not ready." The angel, surprised, asked him, "Why?" Said the man, "As beautiful as Heaven was in that vision, it can't compare to the beauty of loving one person down here."
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Buddhism has a related story contrasting the way of the Arhat in Theravada Buddhism and the Bodhisattva in the Mahayana path. "Arhat" is Sanskrit for "one who is worthy," and it refers to one who has attained freedom from the world of suffering and entered Nirvana. "Bodhisattva" is Sanskrit for a "being of enlightenment, or [spiritual] awakening."
Two men are walking lost in a scorching desert. They, exhausted and near dying with thirst and hunger, arrive at a high wall. They hear what sounds like a waterfall and see a tree limb hanging over the wall. They hear lovely birdsong.
One of the men climbs the wall to look onto the other side. He sees an enchanting oasis. There, one would have fresh water, the shade under the trees, fruit from fruit trees, and a calm and ease life. He tells the other man of the nature of the place. Then, he climbs down onto the other side into the welcome haven from the hot and arid desert. He breathes a sigh of relief.
The other man turns and begins walking back over the desert. He knows there are many other persons lost in the desert, and he wants to help them find the way to the oasis before he enjoys it with them.
The Arhat focuses on his or her release from this embodied life to find a home in Nirvana (lit., "a blowing out, quenching," likely referring to the extinction of suffering). The Bodhisattva commits by a vow not to enter Nirvana until everyone is in Nirvana. The Bodhisattva chooses as many incarnations in the human realm as needed until all beings are free of suffering. He delays entering Nirvana for his or her heart is filled with compassion.
The Bodhisattva ideal contrasts with my upbringing, wherein I was taught persons go to either a heaven or a hell after death. No one seemed concerned about the question, "How would I enjoy heaven knowing so many, including some of my friends and family, were tormented in the fires of hell?"
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Yet, Nirvana is not elsewhere than here.
Nirvana is not a paradise or some special place of happiness, but is in fact the condition beyond all dualistic concepts, including those of happiness and suffering.
*Chogyal Namkhai Norbu. Dzogchen.
As in our second story, Heaven, or Nirvana, is in Love, and Heaven is Love. Love is freed to express beyond our ideas of being happy or not happy. In Love, joy arises in loving, yet the act of loving is free of any pleasure arising from the act. Love is Its own pleasure. Here, one cannot say, "Giving that brought me joy." No, one says instead, "The Love that inspired me to give that is my joy."
Heaven appears in the smallest acts of kindness and generosity, of self-giving, of a single gesture of goodwill and wish for the other's happiness. Simply to invite someone into your heart in silent prayerfulness or quiet communion is the blessing of Heaven.
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I often recall this encouraging saying from the Christian Scriptures, which applies equally as a standard for human goodness and community everywhere -
For dear spiritual brothers and sisters, you have been called into freedom; however, do not use your freedom as an excuse to do whatever pleases you. Instead, by love serve one another.
One thing that stands out to me in this wise saying is how love is pointed to as the inspiration to serve others. While the religious law could stipulate service, that would still be the law. Even the inner, psychological law of feeling one ought to or must serve others means acting from necessity, not freedom. To love someone for one feels he or she must love the other, this is a reaction, not a freely-given, spontaneous act. One is still caught in the law - the ought-to world -
Right action does not flow out of reaction of any kind - be it fear, anger, revenge, thirst for justice, or yearning for the solace of belonging. Symbols such as crosses, swastikas, and colorful flags do not bring insight. They may provide inspirational energies and limited feelings of togetherness, but they cannot reveal this moment of wondrous presence, full of love, without any lack.
*Toni Packer. The Silent Question.
This to the ego sounds counter-intuitive - I can most love you free of any felt-need or necessity of loving you. Then, rather than react, we can respond. We can receive insight on-the-spot regarding what the other needs rather than imposing what we think the other needs onto him or her. The mind is much more limited than most of us admit in deciding what others need from us, indeed what they need period. Yet, from heart to heart, silent communication can occur, a resonance arising from the universal Life manifesting in the inner harmony.
To give oneself in blessing for others by love means the self-offering is freely given, not out of duty, trying to get to Heaven, attempting to please God, efforting to gain merit to get to Nirvana, and so forth. The desire arises from the union with Love. The Bodhisattva in Buddhism is like this, as is the Christ in Christianity. Love puts the I-want-to into us. We melt in Love, no longer needing consciously to love.
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If I cannot enjoy Heaven now, why should I think I could later, only by my body dying? Would life be any more joyful later than it can be now, if only I open my heart to share this life with others, human and otherwise, in kindness and felt-kinship on our present home, Earth?
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(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020