Brian Wilcox 'Mexican Zinnia'
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[W]hat attracts us in the outer world is only putting us in touch with the hidden treasure within us. Through finding it in ourselves we are returned to the Being that we reflect. We are not the originators of qualities, but the reflectors of the infinite qualities of Being.
*Kabir Edmund Helminski. Living Presence. Rev.
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This writing is close to my heart, for I grew up in a religion where we were taught how to convert others to our faith. I was highly trained in this and was sincere in doing it, yet it felt somehow not right inside. Still, I kept doing it, for I was indoctrinated into believing I was supposed to do it. It felt not-right, for it was not the loving way of relating with persons. Thankfully, those days are long past. I have no religion or spirituality to convert others to, and I no longer believe in a god who would expect me so to dishonor other persons. I simply wish to love persons in the way that fits my way of being in this world. I wish to be true to myself, and in so doing, possibly that will inspire someone else to do likewise. Yes, someone may seek guidance from me regarding the spiritual path I walk, that is not my choice. When asked for guidance, I can offer it as my experience. I am not here to convert anyone, but to share joy with others. An interspiritual, contemplative way, the wisdom path I have followed the last almost 25 years, entails a quiet, gentle, and inclusive manner of sharing Life together with others. I am simply a reflection of Being, and any goodness within me expressed to others is due to Grace, the Light.
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Two monks lived in a monastery; they were great friends. They died within a few months of each other. One took rebirth in the heaven realms, a lovely place of ceaseless bliss. His friend got reborn a worm in a dung pile.
The monk in the heaven realms was having a wonderful time enjoying all the heavenly delights. But he started thinking about his friend. He mused, "I wonder where my old mate has gone?" He scanned the heaven realms, but he could not find his friend. Next, he looked through the realm of human beings. He could not see any trace of his friend. He looked in the realm of animals and, next, insects. Eventually, he found his friend - a worm in a dung pile. He thought, "I am going to help my dear friend. I am going to go down there to that dung pile and take him up to the heaven realms, so he can enjoy the pleasures and bliss of these wonderful regions."
He went down to the dung pile and called to his friend. The little worm wriggled out and asked, "Who are you?" "I am your friend. We used to be monks together. I have come to take you to the heavens, where life is wonderful and blissful." The worm said, "Go away! Get lost!" The friend rejoined, "But I am your friend, and I live in the heaven realms." And he described the heavens to him. The worm said, "No, thank you, I am quite happy here in my dung pile. Please go away."
The heavenly being reflected, "Well, if I could only grab hold of him and take him up to the heaven realms, he could see for himself." He grabbed hold of the worm and started tugging. The harder he pulled, the tighter the worm clung to the pile of dung. Finally, the compassionate friend gave up and returned, without his friend, to the heaven realms.
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While this story has potentially many lessons, I will focus on two today.
1) You cannot give another the joy of your spiritual experience, and you should not try.
Often trying to urge someone to your experience is unkind. The motive may be pure, but the act is not kind.
A person is receptive to Grace or not. You can, by example, encourage the other to open up to what brings you such joy. This is best done without speaking to her of your experience, though there may be a time when that is timely. In other words: simply live it. Be the person that is the means of attraction to Being, in the words of Francis Lucille, in Perfume of Silence, a benevolet indifferent presence - meaning, no personal attachment to imposing your agenda onto another, only being gracious without trying to be gracious. The presence most needed to influence others in the Way is a detached, transpersonal presence. This is counter the highly personalized manner in which the self feels it must control others for their good, even using subtle means to manipulate in a particular direction. That is managing persons, rather than trusting Grace to attract them to Grace.
I have referred to the "perfume of Presence." This means, when you live from the heart, in loving-communion with Life, you will give forth, like a bloom giving its scent, the qualities of the Sacred - love, joy, peace, ...
The wisdom here is: you are not present to convert anyone else to the Way. The Way draws persons to the Way. You may or may not be a direct means to attract someone to Grace - that is up to Grace, not you.
2) One of the most significant deterrents to persons waking up to Life is the familiarity of what they claim is their life.
An acquaintance, a fellow-renter moved from the Quacker community where I live. I noticed her delaying her move. I sensed she was not making much effort to prepare to leave, caught between going and staying. Finally, she confirmed she was leaving. Another house member stated she had said it was easy to stay here, for it was such a comfortable place to be. I talked with the renter one-on-one, and she confirmed she needed to leave, though she had received no clear inner guidance. She moved back to the West Coast. Her moving back was, I feel strongly, for her best. After being in the community over a year, I could identify how comfortable a place it is to be and remain, hence not easily moved from to a new, unfamiliar place.
One thing that makes us cling to place, community, person, belief, job, way of life, or to where we are with ourselves in our inner life, is it becomes familiar. The English "familiar" derives from Latin familiaris, meaning "domestic, private, belonging to a family, of a household;" also "familiar, intimate, friendly,"
For the was-monk, now-worm, the dung was his friendly place; for him, the dung pile was a comfortable home. Ironically, for the other was-monk, now heavenly-being, the heavens were his friendly place, his comfortable home. Both were stuck to their respective places, equally so.
We can cling equally to what we might call good or bad, for either can become home to us, even the uncomfortable can become, ironically, comforting. Is this not true of all addictions? Is this not true of any unhealthy clinging? In the clinging, we get a pay-off, but at what cost to our well-being? The clinging that brings us temporary satisfaction, maybe a sense of saftey, possibly even feeling loved, gives us suffering.
Yet, again, we each can only take responsibility for ourselves, finally. And to love someone means granting the other the right to choose to say "Yes" to Life, or not. In humbleness, also, we can admit we rarely know much about how unseen Life is working in another person for the good. An old Christian teaching about this was called long ago "preventing grace," which means, in modern English, "prevenient grace" - grace going before. This speaks of Presence working silently in us before the fruition becomes apparent either to others or ourselves. If we move on the premise that Life is always working, somehow, in the other - as in ourselves - we can trust that inner-alchemical process better and, so, be less likely to interfere with our good intentions. After all, we are all in process, are we not?
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And is it not true? - The best way to witness of the joy of the Way, is to enjoy the Way. Again, when one smells the sweet-scented blossom, one is awakened to the blossom by the scent. In being the silent scent of the Flower of Beauty, that is your joy to share - your principal means of being a conduit of Love.
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(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020