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Two Readings To Inspire

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Hello my dear friends,

Every once in awhile I read a book that is worth my telling you about. As you know I read a lot. I am currently reading a book (about 1/3 the way through right now – entitled ‘the Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo. It is set up so that you can read a day’s message at a time – but I just read a few days at a time. Last night I ran across two dates May 8th – pages 153 –154 and May 10th – pages 155-156. The title of each of these days’ messages was “The issue of Fairness” and “The Edge of Center” - respectively. It struck a cord with me – and it was so good I am going to re-type it here for each of you. Each day comes with a Title, an opening thought – the message – and then some closing thoughts. So here goes:

May 8

“The Issue of Fairness”

As long as we see what has come to pass as being unfair, we’ll be prisoners of what might have been.

This is a very painful issue to discuss for most of us, because so much of how we see the world hinges on a sense of fairness and justice, those truly noble human concepts that govern how we treat each other.

But the laws of experience in the natural world, in which we have no choice but to live, do not work this way. Rather, the larger Universe, of which humankind is a small part, is a world of endless possibility and endless cycle, a world in which life forms come and go, a world itself that has erupted and transformed countless times.

This is why the Hindu tradition has a deity known as Vishnu, who both destroys and bestows life, often in that order. Although fairness and justice are beautiful gravities by which we as human creatures try to live with one another, the storm and the germ, the termites eating the foundation of your home, the errant stone breaking your windshield, the wave swamping your little boat – these molecules of experience do not understand what is fair. They just bombard us in the endless cosmic dance of life that just keeps happening.

When I was struggling with cancer, I was asked repeatedly to release my anger at the injustice of having cancer. Quite honestly, I felt a great many things – fear, pain, anxiety, frustration, uncertainty, exhaustion – but I did not feel that having cancer was unjust. When was I or anyone promised perfect health? An ant can struggle for yards with food in its mouth only to have a dead limb tired of hanging on crush it. What makes human beings presume to be exempt from such things?

I know now that, over the years, my own cries that life is unfair have come, while understandable, have always diverted me from feeling my way through the pain of my breakage into the re-formation of my life. Somehow, crying “Unfair” has always kept me stuck in what hurts.

I offer what has surprised me in my pain: that life is not fair, but unending in its capacity to change us; that compassion is fair and feeling is just; and that we are not responsible for all that befalls us, only for how we receive it and for how we hold each other up along the way.

· Sit outside, if possible, and watch the pollen carried on the wind. Meditate on how some of the pollen grains will become flowers, and how those flowers will wilt and seed other flowers yet to be.

· Meditate on how the human drama with all its unknown turn of events unfolds much in the same way.

· Breathe deeply and look at the many dreams and mistakes and joys and pains of your life as pollen on a larger wind. Some will grow. Some will not.

· Do not deny your pain in experiencing life, but try not to heighten the hurt by labeling it tragic or unfair.

· Try to hold the pain of your changes with compassion rather than with justice.

May 10

“The Edge of Center”

All tempest has,

Like a navel,

A hole in it’s middle,

Through which

A gull can fly,

In silence.

Fourteen-Century Japanese, Anonymous

From across the centuries, this nameless voice tells us that at the heart of all struggle there is a peaceful enduring center, if we can only reach it. All the wisdom traditions affirm this.

Still, a deeper paradox of life is carried here. For the gull flies through the peaceful center; it does not live there. The work, it seems, for us is to draw sustenance from the central, eternal space without denying the existence of the storm.

Repeatedly, we are thrown into the storm and into the center. When in the storm, we are exacerbated by our humanness. When in the center, we are relieved by our spiritual place in the Oneness of things. So to find the center and spread our battered wings is to feel the God within.

Our constant struggle is in living both sides of this paradox. For we cannot get to the center without going through the storm that surrounds it. Yet the storm of human experience can only be endured by knowing that the gull knows. The storm can only be survived from the center and back – there you’ll find the trials and gifts of love.

· Close your eyes and let your inhalation call the gull of your spirit to your center.

· Inhale deeply and let your breath call the gull home through your center to the center of All.

· Exhale deeply and feel the edge of the storm and the edge of the center.

· Know that your breath is the edge.

Let me leave you with a verse from the song “White Flag” by Dido – which speaks to the type of determination I feel to look beyond the “unfairness” of it all and try to find compassion – which speaks to the type of determination I have to realize that the storm can only be survived from “the center and back”. The song verse reads:

I will go down with this ship

And I won’t but my hands up in surrender

There will be no white flag above my door

I (was) in love and always will be

I hope you find these passages useful. If you did – the book is full of many many more thought provoking writings.

My love to each of you.

John – Dusky is my handle on here

Love you Jack

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Wonderful words you shared. I have a friend who has had her share of issues with her daughters and she always says the one thing you can control is your attitude. After reading your post, i think it really does come down to that...how we perceive and deal with life's curve balls. Doesn't make it hurt less, but I'm trying to control my attitude in a more positive way. Also, that was one of Paul's favorite songs. Makes me smile and cry at the same time. Thanks for sharing.


P.S. I'm re-reading "The Spirituality of Imperfection, Storytelling and the Journey to Wholeness" by Ernest Kurtz and Katerine Ketchum. You might want to check it out.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Dusky,

Thanks for sharing your post with all of us, I do believe that it is in the way you handle things... I have been so very sad and depressed that I am seriously thinking my attitude needs a lift and that is what I am hoping for in the new year... Take care and thanks again Shelley

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