Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


1 Comment

The grace that wakes my heart

When I awake with a prayer running through my head like a song, I know that my day is already wide open to happiness.

Instead of finding myself awash in thoughts run rampant — or consciousness dragging to life like sluggish motor oil, here is a mild, reassuring rhythm already oscillating inside me. All-embracing, and transporting.

This affects me so deeply that when it’s time to read the prayers I customarily say with my husband each morning, the mere sight of words like “the All-Merciful, the Ever-Forgiving” and “the ocean of Thy nearness” overwhelm me to astonished tears, like immersion in an ocean of light.

I am embarking upon what members of the Bahá’í Faith sometimes call the “Season of Restraint.” This is a period at the close of our calendar year when, for 19 days, we are asked to undergo a material fast from food and drink during daylight hours as “an outer token of the spiritual fast … the withholding of oneself from all appetites of the self, taking on the characteristics of the spirit, being carried away by the breathings of heaven and catching fire from the love of God.” 

Fasting from the appetites of the body reminds me how insistent these appetites can be; how unsatisfied, and unsatisfying.

IMG_9310

Photo: Saffron Moser

And it also helps me be aware of how much time the business of survival can consume in my day, and my awareness — especially when it’s overemphasized by the culture around me to the point at which I might begin to forget that I have a spiritual life at all.

Fasting reminds me that there is an entirely other possibility waiting in my living that’s like a portal to a wider, kinder refuge. One in which I am visited and accompanied by a grace like the prayer that woke my heart.

coverthumbAdapted from Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details:

http://www.amazon.com/Life-First-Sight-Finding-Details-ebook/dp/B00B5MR9B0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=


3 Comments

Pearls of great price

“Were ye to discover the hidden, the shoreless oceans of My incorruptible wealth, ye would, of a certainty, esteem as nothing the world, nay, the entire creation.

“… My holy, My divinely ordained Revelation may be likened unto an ocean in whose depths are concealed innumerable pearls of great price, of surpassing luster.

“ … This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein! Swift as the twinkling of an eye ye can, if ye but wish it, reach and partake of this imperishable favor, this God-given grace, this incorruptible gift, this most potent and unspeakably glorious bounty.

“Could ye apprehend with what wonders of My munificence and bounty I have willed to entrust your souls, ye would, of a truth, rid yourselves of attachment to all created things, and would gain a true knowledge of your own selves—a knowledge which is the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being.

PJ0E220103RES4DS120301FpimgRES4DP0025801PJ0E220003JoslynNew

Image: Cary Enoch Reinstein / enochsvision.com

Ye would find yourselves independent of all else but Me, and would perceive, with your inner and outer eye, and as manifest as the revelation of My effulgent Name, the seas of My loving-kindness and bounty moving within you.

“ … Obstruct not the luminous spring of thy soul with the thorns and brambles of vain and inordinate affections, and impede not the flow of the living waters that stream from the fountain of thine heart.”

~ Bahá’u’lláh

 


3 Comments

A growing wisdom and joy

IMG_6516

 

A heart full of thanks to Isha Lerner for the love she helps us invite into the world, and this wonderful poem of Rumi’s that she hopes “may prove to be a useful companion on your journey”.

Blessed journey to all.

 

This is how a human being can change:
there’s a worm addicted to eating
grape leaves.
Suddenly, he wakes up,
call it grace, whatever, something
wakes him, and he’s no longer
A worm.

IMG_6332He’s the entire vineyard,
and the orchard too, the fruit, the trunks,
a growing wisdom and joy
that doesn’t need
to devour.

~ Rumi


Leave a comment

Unlocking the prison of the past

IMG_6521Our spiritual nature has a value system that places priceless relationships above any object or hoped-for outcome.

But our human nature, unassisted by the spiritual nature’s vision and perception, does not.

The sign that we’re in a situation that requires a shift from the eyes of our human nature to the vision of our spiritual one is when we find ourselves focusing on the imperfections of others to such an extent that we experience an increasing intensity of negative emotions that, in turn, causes deterioration in personal relationships.

The only escape from this vicious cycle is to change what we see and elevate our perception and to begin looking at others with the sin (imperfection)-covering eye of the spiritual nature. The spiritual nature doesn’t dwell on perceived imperfections but instead seeks the missing spiritual attributes that the situation is calling for and creates an act of service designed to release those latent virtues, which exist within the heart of every servant of God. IMG_0608

When that happens, the destructive negative emotions and imperfections begin to dissipate. They are, after all, merely perceptions and “decisions” of the mind or human nature, and the resulting emotion is the energy of those thoughts in motion.

However, in the survival-motivated blind imitation that is the lower nature’s customary behaviour, our mind and emotions can liken the current experience to one that has registered as negative in the past. In order to truly investigate the reality of the matter, we need the spiritual nature and its vision to come into the driver’s seat, to interrupt this reflexive imitating of what happened — or what we perceive to have happened — in the past. If we are unwilling to do this, we will remain prisoners of that past, and of what, in essence, is actually an imagined past, the perspective of the mind alone.

A sign that we’re progressing away from imitation towards investigation is that we will feel negative emotions being replaced by positive ones. Then we can experience  a noticeable improvement both in the way we ourselves feel and within the tone of our relationships, most especially the one we have with the various aspects of our own selves. WTOEimage.php

Excerpted from With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality?

Find the book at: http://www.amazon.com/With-Thine-Own-Eyes-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=pd_sim_kstore_11?ie=UTF8&refRID=0TQC490J7FVBRTJWM70H

Also available in print version from: http://www.bahairesources.com/with-thine-own-eyes.html

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

“The Spirit of God is working in your midst.”

There’s a string of days that glimmer like pearls for me. They occurred around this time of  year, when my friend Marian shared the last stage of her earthly life.

A deep love of spiritual life brought us together. I was 20,  she was 80, and from our first encounter, my young eyes saw that her ageless spirit had found its way far past the world’s pain and confusion and wasn’t limited by them any longer, in any way. How, I wondered, do you find a life like that?

The answer she shared out of her experience became my own: the path of the Bahá’í Faith. I watched her example of being a willing, hopeful, and incredibly creative servant of the human family who was also gifted at helping others feel the limitless possibilities of love. She helped me understand that most often, human souls don’t recognize the potential that’s been treasured in each of us — and that life gets better and better as we encourage and welcome this in ourselves and others.

Marian treated everyone like precious little mines of gems, and maintained a happy, positive tone in this treasure hunt that simply left no room for negativity to make a nest. I’m so thankful I had this reality reflected for me while I was so young, because it’s given me more time to try to share it in my own life.

The mystical experience that accompanied her affirming love could be startling. I’d often receive a call or letter in which she addressed matters that were precisely what I’d been struggling with — but hadn’t shared with anyone. Her gentle suggestions or ideas — sometimes, simply helpful questions — were always an absolutely perfect remedy.

I hadn’t seen her for almost a year the day I first drove over to the small apartment she’d rented after her husband died. Her face was a vivid gold when she met me at the door. I noticed that she talked animatedly about finishing all of the projects she was working on.  Two weeks later, surgery revealed an inoperable tumor on her pancreas.

DCwondersky419732_10151485192181802_265278193_nShe set about the projects she had yet to complete, wanting to be sure that others could carry on the work that was her heart’s desire, which encouraged seeing spirituality and science as allies. She believed that just as religion and science were created to embrace and inform each other, so, our rational and spiritual selves are meant to be collaborators for our own benefit, and our world’s. The educational programs she developed usually reached first toward those whom society tends to overlook or forget.

During those days after her diagnosis, she thanked God continually for the mental clarity that allowed her to pursue her work in the last weeks of her life. “Prayer, and the Word of God, can be mighty powerful nourishment,” she’d tell me with a huge twinkle in her eye. She was tremendously kind and patient with her physical self as it grew weaker each day, an example of loving-kindness I will always value.

On one especially difficult day, she suddenly beamed at me with what felt like an in-rushing of great, surging force and declared,  “We continually overlook the power of love.” IMG_6181

Neighbors and friends still talk about those last hours in her home, when the room seemed to fill up with love and happiness and they didn’t want to leave.

Surprisingly, she used to tell me that, at an earlier time in her life, being ungrateful and impatient had been two of her most difficult spiritual battles, something I found impossible to imagine.

“Then, when I was ready to completely give up on this life, something told me that it was time to stop my fighting, and I heard those words, what Jesus promised: ‘The Spirit of God is working in your midst.'”

From the day she accepted this reality, I believe she became an unfailing channel for its truth. I can still feel her love at work in my life today, and feel my undying connection with her most strongly when I strive to do the same.

Adapted from Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details

http://www.amazon.com/Life-First-Sight-Finding-Details-ebook/dp/B00B5MR9B0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1385482351


4 Comments

The miracle of being here

Gleanings appreciated here and there:

PJ0E460703RES4DS124603Img5472PJ0E222610RES4DS127502Flowers5204New

Image: Cary Enoch Reinstein /

 

Our heart knows what our mind has forgotten – it knows the sacred that is within all that exists, and through a depth of feeling we can once again experience this connection, this belonging.
~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

It is a strange and wonderful fact to be here, walking around in a body, to have a whole world within you and a world at your fingertips outside you. It is an immense privilege, and it is incredible that humans manage to forget the miracle of being here.

Rilke said, “Being here is so much,” and it is uncanny how social reality can deaden and numb us so that the mystical wonder of our lives goes totally unnoticed. We are here. We are wildly and dangerously free.

Rogue River Adventure

“Rogue River Adventure” by Judy Wright

~ John O’Donohue

All humans have the capacity to drop the past – and change in an instant. Any other viewpoint is coming from fear, and not truth.

We only limit others by believing that they can’t change. We limit ourselves by believing we can’t change.

Holding the light of consciousness means we must continually envision a new, and higher, level of expression for ourselves and for others, and allowing this to manifest.

~ Jaime Tanna


Leave a comment

My invitation each day

With the return of each day’s light comes an invitation to investigate reality, rather than imitate the past.

It arrives in a world of imperfection that can easily draw negative reactions from my lower nature. Yet I’ve had the opportunity to learn that dwelling on imperfections, berating myself or others for them, serves only to increase my perception of them.

When I do, I draw a circle of suffering for myself. It saps my time, energy, and attention (things over which I have choice), when I could instead offer these for something that is always calling to me: the possibility, in any moment, of contributing to building life’s goodness.

PJ0F250106RES4DP0027301Lauritzen6860Var

Image: Cary Enoch Reinstein / Image: Cary Enoch Reinstein / https://plus.google.com/+CaryEnochReinsteinenochsvision/posts

As I respond to that call, I discover how much preoccupation with negativity can surround my life, fill my thoughts, and absorb my precious resources. This is the debilitating presence of blind imitation of the past, which arises from the kind of thinking that was born in earlier, fearful experiences and has led to behaviors, assumptions, and beliefs that have no basis in reality.

My encounter with imperfection extends an invitation to recognize and accept how much I don’t know, or can’t change, yet I can always discover the limitless possibilities of love in every choice available to me. Rather than reacting out of a survival-driven instinct to fight imperfection, or try to escape it, I can turn toward an indwelling response, and presence, that is better-aligned with the purpose for which I’ve been created. WTOEimage.php

As it invites me into the freedom of not fighting any thing or any one (including myself), this possibility also reminds me that every human interaction (including with myself) is either an act of giving or an act of receiving. By asking questions that encompass both giving and receiving, my sensitivity to my own needs and those of others is increased daily.

Each part of this questioning is equally important, because giving depends on someone willing and capable of receiving, and receiving depends on someone willing and capable of giving. The following two service questions are a tool that can clarify my perceptions in the course of the many choices I encounter each day:

 – At this moment in time, what is the act of service I am capable of giving that the other person is capable of receiving?

 – At this moment in time, what is the act of service I am capable of receiving that the other person is capable of giving?

Excerpted from With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality?

Find the book at: http://www.amazon.com/With-Thine-Own-Eyes-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=pd_sim_kstore_11?ie=UTF8&refRID=0TQC490J7FVBRTJWM70H

Also available in print version from: http://www.bahairesources.com/with-thine-own-eyes.html

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 218 other followers