Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Making room for the new, and the good

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

“Taz,” courtesy of Jon Ring.

 

When you suffer because of discrimination, there’s always an urge to speak out. But even if you spend a thousand years speaking out, your suffering won’t be relieved.

Only through deep understanding and liberation from ignorance can you be liberated from your suffering.

When you break through to the truth, compassion springs up like a stream of water. With that compassion, you can embrace even the people who have persecuted you.

When you’re motivated by desire to help those who are victims of ignorance, only then are you free from your suffering and feelings of violation. 

Don’t wait for things to change around you. You have to practice liberating yourself. Then you will be equipped with the power of compassion and understanding, the only kind of power that can help transform an environment full of injustice and discrimination.

You have to become such a person — one who can embody tolerance, understanding, and compassion. You transform yourself into an instrument for social change and change in the collective consciousness of mankind.

 ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Answers from the Heart: Practical Responses To Life’s Burning Questions

No matter how it seems out there, humanity IS evolving from war-like competitiveness to peaceful and loving connectedness and CO-existence.

… the chaos we are experiencing in the outer world is nothing more than our own resistance to freedom and peace.

And notice that the deeper “resistance to change” digs in its heels, the more irrational it becomes.

~ Christine DeLorey

I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit.

When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run.

~ Henry David Thoreau

Your life situation may be full of problems — most life situations are — but find out if you have any problem at this moment.

Not tomorrow or in ten minutes, but now. Do you have a problem now?

When you are full of problems, there is no room for anything new to enter, no room for a solution.

So whenever you can, make some room, create some space, so that you find the life underneath your life situation.

~ Eckhart Tolle

 


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Coming home to oneness

Deep in each of our hearts, we already know oneness, because we are created in it. Every atom of existence embodies and reflects this truth.

Sending love and prayerful blessings to all as celebrations unfold worldwide on this 200th anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah.

“The incomparable Friend saith:

“The path to freedom hath been outstretched; hasten ye thereunto.

“The wellspring of wisdom is overflowing; quaff ye therefrom.

“Say: O well-beloved ones! The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers.

Courtesy of Lara Kearns

“Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.

“Verily I say, whatsoever leadeth to the decline of ignorance and the increase of knowledge hath been, and will ever remain, approved in the sight of the Lord of creation.

“Say: O people! Walk ye neath the shadow of justice and truthfulness and seek ye shelter within the tabernacle of unity.”

~ Baha’u’llah, The Tabernacle of Unity

 

Courtesy of Diane Kirkup

“Through the power of Baha’u’llah all will be united.

“He upraised this standard of the oneness of humanity in prison.
“When subjected to banishment by two kings, while a refugee from enemies of all nations and during the days of His long imprisonment He wrote to the kings and rulers of the world in words of wonderful eloquence, arraigning them severely and summoning them to the divine standard of unity and justice.
“He exhorted them to peace and international agreement, making it incumbent upon them to establish a board of international arbitration — that from all nations and governments of the world there should be delegates selected for a congress of nations which should constitute a universal arbitral court of justice to settle international disputes.
“He wrote to Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, the Czar of Russia, the Emperor of Germany, Napoleon III of France and others, inviting them to world unity and peace.
Through a heavenly power He was enabled to promulgate these ideals in the Orient. Kings could not withstand Him. They endeavored to extinguish His light but served only to increase its intensity and illumination.”
 
~ Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace (Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1982 Edition) pp. 202-203.


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The atmosphere in which peace emerges

Words from Richard Bach came up this week as a deep reminder:

“You don’t want a million answers as much as you want a few forever questions. The questions are diamonds you hold in the light. Study a lifetime and you see different colors from the same jewel. The same questions, asked again, bring you just the answers you need just the minute you need them.”                                                                                                                

This prompted a few forever questions as one month draws to its close and another begins:

 

How does my willingness to let go serve my highest purpose?

What freedom does it offer me from the erroneous notions and tyranny of my own thoughts?

What appears when I relinquish something lesser for something greater?

In what ways does its atmosphere and perspective always feel better?

Might it be the atmosphere in which peace emerges? LAFS6377506

 

Floral images courtesy of D. Kirkup Jewelry Designs:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/DKirkupDesigns

 

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

Find more about the book here:

https://www.amazon.com/Life-First-Sight-Finding-Details-ebook/dp/B00B5MR9B0


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Life’s generous invitations

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Photo: Saffron Moser

Spring flowers remind us to be happy.

It’s as though God treasured this invitation in each one, then spread them abundantly about the landscape to ensure we wouldn’t miss it.

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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

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Painting: Judy Wright

 

Every day of your life is a page of your history. 

~ North African proverb

Life is lived forwards but understood backwards.

~ Congolese proverb

She who has not carried a load herself does not know how heavy it is.

~ Ugandan proverb


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The gifts of fear

541_1099255106753633_2986521664856853477_nFear can be instructive when I experience it, though I’m not meant to dwell on it, or in it.

If I understand the inner signals of fear, whose purpose is to educate and inform me, I can choose to make the necessary adjustments in belief and behavior that will prevent for me the unhealthy and painful mental state of being consumed by that fear.

Most often, that state seems one of attempting to avoid the fear, rather than meeting it and receiving what it has to reveal.

12540955_1083557441675049_3476144824824426026_nIn the physical world, a fear signal is often a potentially life-saving reaction that prompts me to move quickly out the way of harm to my physical self. In spiritual terms, I can also experience triggers of fear that point to what could pose danger to my own true and most enduring reality. This signal often arises when I cross the line of moderation and form an attachment to some aspect of the material world.

For every worldly attachment I make, I can gain an unhealthy fear, then easily become overwhelmed by such fears. The remedy, detachment, is in refraining from allowing my physical possessions, the things I do, the things I think, feel, believe, to possess me. For these are what perish.

WTOEimage.phpThe heart, it seems, is never at rest and never finds real joy and happiness until it attaches itself to the eternal, to what does not perish.

 

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=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 


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Possibility arrives anew in each moment

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

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

Do I accept it, and apply myself to what it invites?

It arrives in a world of imperfection, one that can easily draw negative reactions from my lower nature, which must find its way in that world.

Yet I’ve surely had opportunity to learn that dwelling on imperfections, berating myself or others for them, serves only to increase my perception of them. It’s a circle of suffering I draw for myself. It saps my time, energy, and attention (those aspects of life over which I have choice) when I could instead offer them for something that is always calling, if softly, at times: the building of the good that I’m invited into each day.

In responding to that call, I discover how very much there is to become aware of and relinquish—how much preoccupation with negativity can surround my life and fill my thoughts and absorb my personal resources.

This, in many lives, 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 imperfection extends an invitation, too—one urging me 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 the most essential kind of response I’ve been designed and equipped to make. Rather than exercising my survival-driven instinctual reaction to fight imperfection, or try to escape it, I can turn toward an innate, indwelling response—the possibility of it—that is better-aligned with the purpose for which I’ve been created.

As it invites me into the freedom of not fighting any one or any thing (including myself), it also reminds 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 true 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 from me, and receiving depends on someone willing and capable of giving to me.

The following two service questions have been conceived as a way to help us focus on and clarify reality for ourselves in the course of the countless decisions we are called upon to make each day.

These junctures of possibility arrive moment by moment, and as I seek to draw away from blind imitation of the past toward the true investigation of my own and others’ deepest reality, I return to these questions again and again:

WTOEimage.php

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

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

Find more about the book at: http://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8


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Beyond all walls and worry

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

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Photo: Karen Olin Darling

Be empty of worrying. Think of who created thought. Why do you stay in prison when the door is wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence. Flow down and down in always widening rings of being.

~ Rumi

What is drawing? How does one get there? It’s working one’s way through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do.

How can one get through that wall? — since hammering on it doesn’t help at all. In my view, one must undermine the wall and grind through it slowly and patiently.

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Photo: David Campbell / http://www.gbctours.com

And behold, how can one remain dedicated to such a task without allowing oneself to be lured from it or distracted, unless one reflects and organizes one’s life according to principles?

And it’s the same with other things as it is with artistic matters. And the great isn’t something accidental; it must be willed. Whether originally deeds lead to principles in a person or principles lead to deeds is something that seems to me as unanswerable and as little worth answering as the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg.

But I believe it’s a positive thing and of great importance that one should try to develop one’s powers of thought and will.

~ Vincent van Gogh

When you hold on tightly to a part of your life that’s not working, it has no room to heal. Whether you’re unhappy with your love life, finances, career, home, or health, let go …If you hang on to these aspects of your life because of fears such as “What if I can’t find someone or something better?” then the situation will only worsen.

However, if you’re willing to open your hands and allow the situation to be freed, one of two situations will occur: Either it will be washed away from you and replaced by a better situation, or the situation will heal in a miraculous way. Try not to control the outcome of your troubling situation. Let go, and let God help you!

~ Doreen Virtue


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The freedom in not fighting

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Photo: Lara Kearns

With the return of each day’s light comes an invitation to investigate, throughout the span of that day, rather than imitate the past. Do I accept it, and apply myself to what it invites?

It arrives in a world of imperfection, one that can easily draw negative reactions from my lower nature, which must find its way in that world. Yet I’ve surely had opportunity to learn that dwelling on imperfections, berating myself or others for them, serves only to increase my perception of them. It’s a circle of suffering I draw for myself. It saps my time, energy, and attention (those aspects of life over which I have choice) when I could instead offer them for something that is always calling, if softly, at times: the building of the good that I’m invited into each day.

11736965_10155778229390181_1511831978_n

Photo: Lara Kearns

In responding to that call, I discover how very much there is to become aware of and relinquish—how much preoccupation with negativity surrounds my life and can fill my thoughts and absorb my personal resources. This, in many lives, 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.

11122548_10155778229175181_1725221388_n

Photo: Lara Kearns

My encounter with imperfection extends an invitation, too—one urging me 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 the most essential kind of response I’ve been designed and equipped to make. Rather than exercising my survival-driven instinctual reaction to fight imperfection, or try to escape it, I can turn toward an innate, indwelling response—the possibility of it—that is better-aligned with the purpose for which I’ve been created.

As it invites me into the freedom of not fighting any one or any thing (including myself), it also reminds 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 true 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 from me, and receiving depends on someone willing and capable of giving to me.

WTOEimage.phpThe following two service questions have been conceived as a way to help us focus on and clarify reality for ourselves in the course of the countless decisions we are called upon to make each day. Those junctures of possibility arrive moment by moment, and as I seek to draw away from blind imitation of the past toward the true investigation of my own and others’ deepest reality, I return to these questions again and again:

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

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

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

Print version at: http://www.bahairesources.com/with-thine-own-eyes.html


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For whom the bell did not toll

Oneycover

A wonderful resource about Ona Judge.

Though she spent the greater part of her life in my home state of New Hampshire, Ona Judge lived literally in the shadow the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia – without one morsel of the freedom it has come to represent.

Now the Liberty Bell itself has a history full of irony. When it first arrived from where it had been cast in London and was hung outside the Pennsylvania State House to test its sound, it cracked at the stroke of its own clapper, a rather inauspicious sign. Tradition maintains that it was tolled in 1774 to declare the inauguration of the First Continental Congress.   Abolitionist newspaperman William Lloyd Garrison coined the name “Liberty Bell” to describe it when it was used as a symbol in an 1839 pamphlet produced by the American Anti-Slavery Society.

Although the bell had been recast after it cracked, a second crack occurred that required it to be repaired yet again in 1846. Perhaps days later, the bell was rung for several hours in honor of George Washington’s birthday. It was during that time that a crack advanced from the top of the repaired crack to the crown, and the bell was rendered unusable. LibertyBellVisitPhillySite

A venerable part of the nation’s history all the same, the bell was removed from its tower in 1852 and displayed to the public in a variety of locations, the most recent, and presumably final, the Liberty Bell Center pavilion in Philadelphia, just south of where George Washington had lived in the 1790s. At that time, this home was the equivalent of the White House, which had yet to be built in what was then the wilderness of the future District of Columbia.

During the design and construction of the bell’s display pavilion, planners discovered that the site was adjacent to the living quarters of black people who’d been enslaved – ones owned by the “Father of Our Country.” And, it turned out, visitors to the Liberty Bell were accessing the bell by walking directly over the quarters where the home’s slaves had been housed.

Among those enslaved servants was Ona Judge, hopefully a figure who will one day have name-recognition for every American school child, well beyond the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Hers is a tale of how a black woman challenged and bested her “master,” who also happened to be the leader of the nation.

Oney_Judge_Runaway_Ad“Born into” the slave-holdings of Martha Washington, Ona had become a famous face herself, one often seen at the many grand events Martha hosted, and which Ona’s arduous workdays made possible. At the age of 15, Ona had already had one wrenching parting from all of those she knew and loved when she was one of seven slaves to leave Mount Vernon and accompany the First Family to its new Philadelphia executive residence.

Small surprise that, when Martha announced her intention a few years later to bestow Ona as a wedding gift upon her granddaughter, Ona, whose trustworthiness and good service facilitated her coming and going freely in Philadelphia, simply walked out the front door while the family was eating dinner. Uneventful as it was, this escape would have brought severe penalties had she been caught.

Heaven knows what pluck and resourcefulness helped her get all the way to Portsmouth, NH, where she was promptly recognized on the street by the daughter of Senator John Langdon, as the Langdons knew the Washingtons very well. Ironically, although in covert ways, it would be Langdon who would help Ona keep her freedom by ensuring she had sufficient warning whenever Washington’s appointed agents came to find her.

BeckyBrownOnaJudge 1

Excellent info. about Ona Judge and history of her times: http://civilwarquilts.blogspot.com/2014/01/threads-of-memory-1-portsmouth-star-for.html

Ona made a life for herself as a free black, even as she knew that slave-hunters could appear at any time to seize her, along with any children she might have, and she’d have no recourse at all. “Mistress of her needle,” as Washington himself had called her, she found a work as a seamstress and married a Black sailor, Jack Staines, and the couple had three children.

Some years later, after his retirement from the Presidency, Washington – no doubt at the chiding insistence of an outraged Martha, said to be the stronger personality of the two – dispatched yet another hunter, his nephew, Burwell Bassett, Jr., to try and fetch Ona back. One again, John Langdon’s intervention helped warn her in advance.

Although Ona died a ward of the state in her own home in 1848, having outlived her children, the citizens in her small community of Greenland, NH, cared about her enough to help keep her stocked with essentials. Her life as a free woman was unquestionably more difficult, in terms of material comforts than it would have been had she stayed with the Washingtons.

More than once, she was asked how she could relinquish the “silks and satins” of that “fine way of life” she had known for inevitable poverty. Her reply: “I am free, and have, I trust, been made a child of God by the means.”

It seems it was richness in spirit she was after, and the real freedom the Liberty Bell had come to symbolize: the ability to read and learn, to worship as she chose; and to spend the hours of her time as she, herself, determined to.

LAFS6377506I wonder how history will come to view and redefine the kind of liberty that’s been symbolized by a bell that lost its voice, and a woman who found hers, and sounded the bell of her own freedom?

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=&qid=

 


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Root causes and remedies

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Photo: Aletta Reimer Weiss

What underlies the root of all our ills: blind imitation of the past.

The remedy: independent investigation of Reality.

The root cause of prejudice is blind imitation of the past – imitation in religion, in racial attitudes, in national bias, in politics.

Imitations of ancestral beliefs have hindered progress for thousands of years. Imitation emphasizes points of disagreement and division among religions, the real foundation of which is oneness.

Imitation obstructs the way to divine knowledge and bounty.

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Photo: Aletta Reimer Weiss

So long as the shadows of imitations remain, the oneness of the world of humanity is impossible. As long as imitation persists, humanity will find neither happiness nor rest nor composure. Without true investigation of Reality, the realization of the oneness of religion is also impossible.

HOWEVER – All signs indicate that a sea change in human consciousness is under way. It involves an indwelling attraction beyond and away from blind imitation of the past toward independent investigation of Reality.

There is great cause for hope and faith, confidence and happy determination.

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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