Gifts, unearned blessings


What do I get when I am looking too hard for something to love? I end up stirring up trouble and getting far away from my goal. Often, the things that I desire are not really good for me. I try to get an answer and it ends up that I just get more confused. The world doesn’t run to the song that I hope for and as a result I can get unhappy.

When I am patient and waiting, good things come to me. I get new qualities and I wonder where I had been to not see that I needed the grace to be happy again. The world is full of mysteries. Things that are not possible to understand are even less possible to predict. As the days go on, I find that the upward climb can be interrupted at times by an opportunity to rest. Days come and go and I remember that I have been getting stronger. The challenges of yesterday aren’t the same challenges that I have today.

Some of my blessings I don’t even notice. I am surrounded by people who care. I have people in my life that will help me grow. I forget that I have things to be grateful for… a house, my health, a loving family. When I forget these things, I stop seeing the beauty in my life. Without gratitude, I can’t remember that each day is a gift that I can build on with effort and faith.

Imagination Cuts Delusion

Jon Kabat-Zinn describes how people are trapped in a cycle of fear, hatred and delusion. If you look at front page news stories, you can usually find one or more of them very close to the surface.

clouds with a ladder leading to one of themIf these three are negative qualities, there must be counteracting positive qualities. There are obvious candidates like love to counteract hate, but I don’t think love has been very effective. Fear can feed hate and love has no power over that mixture.

In my past couple of blog posts, I’ve described the three qualities as elements of a game reminiscent of rock, paper, scissors. I claim that trust covers fear and curiosity smashes hatred. These pairs of spiritual qualities are mutually exclusive. They cannot exist together.

It is challenging to find the third element of a celestial elixir to replace the last element of delusion. One idea is understanding, another is knowledge. The one I like best is imagination, but none of these three are mutually exclusive to delusion.

A delusion is a fixed idea that stands up despite evidence to the contrary. The mind grabs onto a thought and runs with it. Paranoia which is supported by fear and prejudice that is fed by hatred are two of the strongest delusions. Since they’re both based on the other parts of the trio: fear and hate, it’s understandable that they have such power.

Consider whether imagination cuts delusion. A fixed idea is like the flowing of a river, it has deep banks and a straight path. Imagination looks around the landscape and can see that there are quiet pools and beautiful tributaries. A clump of dead leaves that follows the natural route will never find these bounties..

The application of spiritual principles takes work. If they were easy, people could accept and act on them continuously. Trust, Curiosity and Imagination are three qualities that are positive spiritual principles. They may not be spoken of in the church, synagogue or mosque, but they are still important.

Faith, hope, and love are necessary utensils for the spiritual kitchen. Trust, Curiosity and Imagination are like spices to keep in the cupboard. They can help everyone share spiritual feasts.

Original image: Access to Cloud / Ladder to Heaven. By FutUndBeidl [Image license]

Toastmasters International Speech Contest

I went to the Fort Wayne Toastmasters International Speech contest today. It was nice. I met a bunch of new people and also saw a bunch of people from my home club.

There weren’t a lot of contestants, but they were all really interesting.

A friend came with me. Maybe he’ll join soon? He had to leave early.

I was a little off-put at the beginning because it seemed like everyone else was wearing a suit and I just had dark pants and a tan shirt. Next time I’ll dress up more. After I was there for a little while I saw that not all of the men were in suits so I felt a little better after that.

April 16 is the next level of the contest. I hope to be there as well. I might even be able to be a judge….

My next speech is the 24th. I’m probably going to share something about Tao Te Ching, the Quran, the Baha’i Writings or other sacred writings. My club tends to be pretty Christian-oriented, so it’ll be nice to give a different perspective. The club is Anthony Wayne Toastmasters #521 if you want to come visit.

I lose an hour tonight, so I’m going to bed early. I’ve got all of my clocks adjusted. (The phone and computers will take care of themselves.)

The Baha’is talk about a process of the old order being torn down and a new one built up to take its place. Hopefully we don’t have to burn to the ground before we can start rebuilding. I’d rather be part of a spring hyacinth than part of a phoenix.

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

The perspective of faith says that if God is all good, how could He allow something bad to happen to people? This can lead to the spiritual challenge that how could God have let X happen, he must not be there or may not love me or I can’t have faith in Him anymore. "God is good, All the time" David Woo

However, a different understanding on the classic question “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People?” is that bad things don’t happen to good people. It’s that undesirable things happen to good people–just like undesirable things happen to anyone. It’s not easy (not promising I can always do it), but the events aren’t bad unless the participant calls them bad.

I may not want to have cancer, wreck my car or lose a family member, but that doesn’t mean that having those things happen is bad from the perspective of faith. When I had my heart attack, that certainly wasn’t something I wanted, but it’s led to many other good things. The perspective on the first day after the heart attack has evolved into a more accepting attitude. Since then I’ve been filled with gratitude. Also I’ve developed deeper relationships with my family and friends.

From a post-modern perspective, things are what we call them. If I say I’m depressed, I may be magnifying the problem when I’m just having a sad mood. I can get clinical depression, but if I don’t have any ambition on a given day, it may be just part of the ebb and flow of my life. The words I choose can give me the empowerment to overcome the difficulty with my own resources.

I’ve heard people call themselves lazy when, to my perspective, they are just procrastinating and labeling themselves unnecessarily. If they call themselves lazy, then they don’t have to challenge themselves because “that’s just the way I am” instead of working to break out of a pattern.

If I would call my child “shy,” that’s going to cement in my mind and in the child’s mind, that he or she is going to react to new situations a certain way. Then, these become self-fulfilling prophecies. The child folds up like a fan and stops exploring social possibilities and new experiences.

So along those lines, I’m not harmed unless I believe I’m harmed. Bad things don’t happen to me, undesirable things happen to me. Bad things don’t happen to good people. Life doesn’t always give me what I want, but I can move beyond anything that I face.


Original image: God is good, all the time. By David Woo [Image license]