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]

Curiosity Smashes Hate

Just as Trust can cover Fear, in the spiritual game of rock paper scissors, Curiosity smashes Hate.

I was thinking about the cliche of love being the opposite of hate, and that seems silly. Why is there the expression of a love-hate relationship if they can destroy each other?A boy looking at a rock through a magnifying glass

If you hate someone, you want them to be out of your life. You don’t want to think about them, you don’t want to know how they’re feeling. It doesn’t bother you in the least that they had a bad day at work or a good game of golf.

If you are curious about someone, you want to know more. You may disagree, like I disagree with my friends that are pro 2nd amendment. But, if I’m curious I can ask to understand what that actually means to them. I can find the reason that it’s important. I can’t hate them for anything if I’m willing to ask them what the 2nd amendment means to them on a personal level.

Another way Curiosity smashes Hate is that it is respectful which builds trust. The triad that starts with Trust and Curiosity support each other.

Someone you hate, you’re likely to fear. Someone you are curious about, you can accept when they’re honest and it becomes a trust building exercise. With that trust, building curiosity is more successful.

Curiosity is different than inquisitiveness. Inquisitive wants to figure something out. It is limited and only has certain goals. Inquisitiveness can be mocking or insincere. If you’re curious, you truly want to learn something about the person.

I talked to a friend last night and learned a lot of interesting things. She shared with me some stuff and as our trust built, I shared some stuff that she was curious about and I was fearful of sharing with anyone for it being misused. But, as our trust built, the curiosity was rewarded and we talked about things I’d never shared before.

Hate is destructive and black. Curiosity is like shining a flashlight in cave: there’s always more to see. There’s always the next surprise to find. Children are curious, children don’t hate until they are corrupted by others.

Curiosity can become a game and lead to all sorts of joy… a sort of communion between two people so that they can see each other’s humanity and be refreshed by the life spirit within each of them.

Original image: rock hound. By woodleywonderworks [Image license]

Who can the elderly care for?

If their health deteriorates, the elderly might need people to care for them. When a family isn’t available, they can live in nursing homes. The staff of these facilities helps as much as they can with their needs.

One need that might not be met is their need to nurture and care for others. All through their lives, they’ve cared for their children and grandchildren. Once the transition to assisted living and other support arrangements, there’s no one for them to care for any more.Her face lit up when she saw a friend arrive

People are much more mobile now and move far away from their parents. Other people have had bad experiences and don’t want to be around their parents. These barriers can isolate the elderly and disconnect them from the rest of the world. Loneliness and depression are often the results.

One aspect of this can be to care for pets that are in the facility. However, that leaves out the human connection that is a spark of life that only people can share.

One approach for progress in this area is for churches, synagogues, mosques and temples to help with this need. They are well-equipped to organize volunteers who could support the elderly in their community. By going and learning more about the individuals and their stories, this lonely time can be more meaningful. It would be an effort to honor the ones who still need to care for someone.


Original image: Happy Planet 2. By Patrick Doheny [Image license]