Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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What gives energy rather than takes it

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Photo: Diane Kirkup

It’s a very powerful choice, the option we’re given each day, about where we direct our energy and attention.

At its heart, it seems to be a matter of how we might choose to shift and raise our emotional tone.

This is the daily gift, the one already bestowed, that we needn’t earn or search for or figure out how to “get”. It’s waiting in each day, hour, and moment, in unlimited supply. The limits arise from how we might overlook, dismiss, or ignore it. This may be the root of the very definition of ignorance.

Yet the mercy is that even when we forget, overlook, or ignore, we can begin again, as many times as we like, or need. And the grace is that the more that we do, the more that practice seems to help us reach for the kindness of this option more quickly – to want to reach for it, even when the pull from inner insistence, demand to be right, tug at us especially hard. It can feel like an act of empowerment to choose this constructive response over allowing those other reactions to run wild like a pack of unruly dogs.

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Photo: Diane Kirkup

Why does that old pull succeed in snagging us at all? The answers are typically the usual suspects. Firstly, it will bring some sort of pay-off – some degree of pleasure, certainly, and also, some element of pain can be a pay-off, too, because it’s more fuel for the story we’ll tell ourselves about it, and the identity we’ll start to spin and weave around that.

Oh, the sweet freedom of stepping into the mid-air spaciousness of not choosing any of those old, misdirected habits, those premature conclusions based only on past experience. The lower end of the emotional scale has one agenda: let’s wallow in what it means to be miserable, and let’s be right. And, perhaps, an even bigger agenda: let’s avoid facing the reality of the matter at all.

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Photo: Diane Kirkup

Eroding into a negative and displeased emotional tone is usually about either resisting or running away from emotion that arises, rather than actually meeting it and feeling. Like waves that are going to wash up on the beach of life, feelings will come, and bring with them an energy and a momentum.

When I don’t invest in a lower emotional tone, don’t buttress and reinforce it, shrug it on like a cloak, take it up like a duty or a sentence, there’s an inner vision, a spirit of faith just waiting to reach toward the lift and propelling joy of a higher one. It gives energy rather than taking it. It feels wonderful, like a favorite memory. It’s always a possibility, as long as some story, some made-up figment that’s never been real, isn’t allowed to convince me otherwise.

I must remind myself that the human world offers very little reinforcement for this; often, none. But I am well capable of remembering what does — and of asking for help when I forget.

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Building the good

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“Painted Desert” by Judy Hughey Wright

Dwelling on imperfections, berating myself or others for them, saps time, energy, and attention (those resources over which I have choice). It offers them to what is counterproductive, even destructive — when I have been invited, instead, toward the building of the good.

“Their whole energy is directed towards the building of the good, a good which has such a positive strength that in the face of it the multitude of evils – which are in essence negative – will fade away and be no more.”  ~ From a letter from the Universal House of Justice, 1974

The same letter noted, “… demolishing one by one the evils in the world is a vain waste of time and effort.” When asked about evil, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá offered this definition: Evil is imperfection.

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“Pueblo” by Judy Hughey Wright

When I choose to participate in the building of the good, I become aware of how much preoccupation with negativity can surround our lives, fill our thoughts, and absorb our personal resources. I can also come to see how this is the debilitating presence of blind imitation of the past, including the kind of thinking that was born in earlier, fearful experiences and has led to attitudes, behaviors, assumptions, and beliefs that have no basis in reality — nor, indeed, anywhere near it.

My encounter with the contrast of imperfection can urge me toward accepting that there is much I don’t know, or can’t change, yet I can always discover the limitless possibilities of love in that more-productive kind of response that I’ve been created and equipped to make.

WTOEimage.phpRather than exercising my survival-driven instinctual reaction to fight imperfection, or try to escape it, there’s a response better-aligned with the purpose for which I’ve been created. It will contribute toward building what “has such a positive strength that in the face of it the multitude of evils – which are in essence negative – will fade away and be no more”. 

I open, today, to the possibilities of that response.

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

http://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410352058&sr=8-1&keywords=with+thine+own+eyes


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Our choice holds the remedy

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When I don’t invest in a lower emotional tone, don’t buttress and reinforce it, shrug it on like a cloak or a duty or a sentence, an inner vision, and a spirit of faith, are waiting to take me in a different direction.

These dwell faithfully with me and will, like blooming plants, reach, always, and with complete willingness, toward the uplifting joy of acceptance and happiness right in the moment.

Why would I imagine I want anything else, or that there’s any other choice to be made? Where else can I be right now, anyway?

dk2IMG_1562Yet it’s my choice that allows this. When I do, I feel energy arriving. This choice bestows energy rather than consuming it. Always an affirming embrace, it feels like a favorite memory.

This possibility is available in each moment, so long as some story, some made-up figment that’s never been real, isn’t allowed to convince me otherwise. The feelings that such figments may hold, or try to hide from, could be worth my consideration, though.

I have to remind myself each day that the human world offers very little reinforcement for choosing the remedy of this truthful way.

But I am capable of remembering, and turning to receive, what does.

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The All-Knowing Physician … perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy.                                                   ~Bahá’u’llah

Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.    ~ Steve Maraboli

Photos courtesy of D. Kirkup Designs / https://www.facebook.com/KirkupDesigns