Friday, January 13, 2006

Power versus Powerless

I know I've talked about powerlessness before but I think it's an important issue to remember. I was feeling powerless over an issue yesterday and I was angry and frustrated and in tears all because I couldn't make any sort of change. I was having to try and get my voice heard but everything seemed stuck for me at that point.

I can sit back and realize why I am frustrated and upset and while it might take the edge off that feeling, it doesn't always make it go away. I am struck by how we disempower people in the world though. If you are poor, what are your options? Such moments, which for me are just moments (or days or weeks), as I will get back to my level of empowerment and my ability to make changes in my world, cause me to realize why there is so much anger and frustration in the world. Imagine if I had to live my entire life that way, unempowered.

I think that anger and frustration should key our compassion for this is an individual who is no doubt feeling as if they have no power over their circumstances. Can we help? There's a good chance we can't, but maybe we can offer them compassion instead of being another obstacle. If they need to fight, let them fight with another person and perhaps we can walk away with our own peace in tact.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Zen Stories

There is a site with many Zen stories. I have taken this one because I like the message for today.

One of master Gasan's monks visited the university in Tokyo. When he returned, he asked the master if he had ever read the Christian Bible. "No," Gasan replied, "Please read some of it to me." The monk opened the Bible to the Sermon on the Mount in St. Matthew, and began reading. After reading Christ's words about the lilies in the field, he paused. Master Gasan was silent for a long time. "Yes," he finally said, "Whoever uttered these words is an enlightened being. What you have read to me is the essence of everything I have been trying to teach you here!"

For more comentary on this story, you might want to check out this page.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Spiritual Unity

I was talking to an acquaintance of mine the other day. He had it in his mind that a woman who called herself a Wiccan had put a spell on him and caused him untold misery, physical and mental over the years. He was feeling very much in a place where he was into blaming the other person. I mentioned that Wiccans normally didn't do that sort of thing because they believe in the three fold law, which means whatever you put out or onto someone else comes back to you in three.

I thought about that for awhile and realized something. Most people who find a religion for a true spiritual practice are searching to connect with a higher source or with something greater than themselves and ultimately, I guess that means to everything in the universe.

This brings me to an observation, how can anyone who is a true spiritual seeker consciously do harm to another living being? In fact, how do you even judge another person because each time we judge or make someone different from what we ourselves are, do we not work on dividing ourselves from another person or race? If we do, does this not set us back from our spiritual path?

So how then can people judge others, condemn them, refuse to listen to them and kill them all in the name of something that is a divine spiritual path? I use that generically for a reason. I think all spiritual paths are divine. I think they all work on bringing us closer to something beyond ourselves and can work on uniting. I think the message of how to do that has often gotten lost in the furor over who is right.

I think that as practitioners of whatever path we are on, we must remember that our actions speak to others. Our actions also speak to our heart. It is not just what we do to others but rather what we think and how we talk. Ultimately each divisive thought moves us backwards on the path to oneness that we seek. Just a thought for the day.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Something to Remember

I have heard a couple of different people point this out and it's easy to forget. We become so polarized over our views that it becomes easy to judge others. We always need to remember no matter what our views are, most people do not set out to be evil.

I suspect that even sociopaths don't set out to be evil. They are just unable to understand and empathize with others and their wants and needs can get in the way of acting as if they are empathic and caring, as other expect them to.

Normal humans are much more likely to be driven by love and acceptance. People start down a path and they see the only way out or the best way out as something that others may deem unacceptable. Still, they are motivated by some of the same things we are.

It's so important to remember our common humanity in trying to create peace. It seems so hard when others are so willing to fight. However it helps if we can understand and embrace those who want to fight or argue by acknowledging that they have many of the same needs. Perhaps by recognizing those underlying needs we can then communicate in ways that are effective, instead of feeling we have to resort to name calling.