Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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The Source of all bestowals

Artwork: Julie Bond Genovese / Nothing Short of Joy

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

We must not consider any soul as barren or deprived. Our duty lies in educating souls so that the Sun of the bestowals of God shall become resplendent in them, and this is possible through the power of the oneness of humanity.

The more love is expressed among mankind and the stronger the power of unity, the greater will be this reflection and revelation, for the greatest bestowal of God is love.

Love is the source of all the bestowals of God. Until love takes possession of the heart, no other divine bounty can be revealed in it.

 ~ Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace Image: Kelly DuMar

The mind likes to feel that it knows, that it’s right, that what it has to say and feel is Truth–with a capital T.

But that’s not how the Soul works.

It comes to us in our deepest moments of silence.
Reflection, awareness — and the innermost awakening of self-realization.

These are moments where the mind dissolves.
And there is only presence.

~ Bairavee Balasubramaniam

Neither our violence nor our transcendence is a moral or ethical matter of religion, but rather an issue of biology. We actually contain a built-in ability to rise above restriction, incapacity, or limitation and, as a result of this ability, possess a vital adaptive spirit that we have not yet fully accessed. While this ability can lead us to transcendence, paradoxically it can lead also to violence; our longing for transcendence arises from our intuitive sensing of this adaptive potential and our violence arises from our failure to develop it.

~ Joseph Chilton Pearce, The Biology of Transcendence

When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t.

~ William Temple

 


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Entering the soul of the matter

 

When you live at the periphery of your being, your thoughts are often scattered, pulling you in different directions, and draining your energy.

Too much mental activity leads to overload and, oftentimes, burnout.

When you take the time to ‘go within’ each day, by breathing deeply and fully, feeling the ‘space’ inside yourself, and witnessing your thoughts and emotions without judgment, you return to a very natural, deep sense of aliveness, which is actually your true nature; then your thoughts naturally slow down, and simultaneously gain more power and cohesiveness.

Photo: Nelson Ashberger

Think of the small, choppy waves that dance across the surface of the ocean; these represent your scattered thoughts.

Then visualize the huge waves that rise up from underneath, much like the giants the pro surfers ride. Note the difference in power.

~ Jaime Tanna

It [the struggle with evil] makes us strong, patient, helpful men and women. It lets us into the soul of things and teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.

My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail.

“Tree Hugger” by Tobey A. Ring

~ Helen Keller

Become subtle enough
To hear a tree breathe.

Succumb to warmth in the heart
Where divine fire glows.

~ John O’Donohue

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The longest, sweetest journey

Photo: David Campbell

A most subtle and most difficult transition for us to make is to move from the use of human traits by the human nature to the  employing of divine qualities by our spiritual nature.

This has been described as the longest journey — from the mind to the heart.

The human nature, using the limited vision of the rational mind, doesn’t have the capacity to perceive divinity and easily makes the mistake of believing that we, ourselves, are the source of such spiritually motivated actions as generosity, mercy and justice.

This misconception leads inevitably to arrogance, the hallmark of the ego, and we cannot approach God with what is essentially the exact opposite of the attribute that is required for this — humility.

In his book Love, Power and Justice, author William Hatcher notes that “We are the only creatures of God who have the capacity to be aware of our dependency on God.”

It is the spiritual nature that possesses the capacity to recognize that the amazing virtues of love, mercy, kindness originate with God and that we’re privileged to use these infinite attributes that God has placed within us in infinite combinations to enhance our lives. We can remember, when someone thanks us for being kind or merciful, to acknowledge in our heart the divine source of kindness or mercy. In this way we can grow in humility instead of arrogance. We can carry in our awareness the source of these qualities and thus draw closer to that source.

The animal and human nature each ask the same question in all our interactions with the world: “Do I eat it or does it eat me?” The human nature wears better clothes and couches the same question in more sophisticated language, such as, “Do I win or do you win?’”or “Who controls who in this relationship?”

The spiritual nature always asks the same question: “What do I need to do to approach the Divine?” Or perhaps more specifically: “What act of service do I need to give or receive in order to approach the Divine?”

Excerpted from With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality? https://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I


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The light of our kindness vanquishes the dark

Photos courtesy of David Campbell / http://gbctours.com/

 

As Winter overtakes my days, one book reviewer’s words continue to strike a chord:

 “One of the things I also enjoyed was that this story took place in a kind world, with supportive and loving folks, despite their past difficulties, even with each other.”

This is the reason that I write –  from the belief that this is the world that all of our hearts want – and that all of our hearts are capable of helping to bring it into being.

Our minds can be reinforced in a thousand ways to believe that this is unrealistic and impossible.

But our hearts know so very much better. They always hold the key to that kinder world they can envision, with love.

Perhaps this is what Carl Jung was pointing to in these words:

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence
is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.

It seems that “kindling a light of meaning” is inextricably linked with compassion, which author Christine DeLorey recently defined as “love of life.”

Our experience of life in these times can feel harsh and cold and unyielding. Those are the times when our hearts can feel stricken, fearful, confounded.

But like the sun, even in winter, there is always, each day, that waiting possibility of “radiating light throughout the world and illuminating your own darknesses” so that “your virtue becomes a sanctuary for yourself and all beings.”

Those words of Lao Tzu’s, shared a long time ago, capture the timeless essence conveyed in what we remember in every new Season of Light: the light does, indeed, shine forth most brightly, unmistakably, in darkness.


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A song above all other songs

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

… Let us hearken to the melody which will stir the world of humanity, so that the people may be transformed with joy.

Let us listen to a symphony which will confer life on man; then we can obtain universal results; then we shall receive a new spirit; then we shall become illumined.

Let us investigate a song which is above all songs; one which will develop the spirit and produce harmony and exhilaration, unfolding the inner potentialities of life.

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Image courtesy of Ziya Rezvani

~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha

 

Shut your eyes so the heart may become your eye
and with that vision look upon another world.

~ Rumi

Thank you, God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough.

~ Garrison Keillor


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What shall we keep room for in our hearts?

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“Evolution is transformation. And transformation is happening all the time. It happens as we learn new things … ” notes author Christine DeLorey.

“Evolution is not an automatic ever-ascending spiritual conveyor-belt,” she adds, “but the result of our ability to face reality, adjust, adapt, and change.”

A key element of our transformative path is contrast, whose intensity and extremes can sometimes seem — and feel — shocking. Even disheartening.

10854827_878021268895335_1204551440909094264_oHow can we maximize its effectiveness, by seeing what it is pointing to, for our heart’s understanding? What is it helping us remember? And how is it reminding us of all that we do not yet know?

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable,” urges poet Mary Oliver, and theologian Paul Tillich reminds, “The first duty of love is to listen.”

“ … if you are willing to let your heart break completely open, with no internal narrative controlling the opening, you will discover the pure, innocent love that is alive in the core of every emotion, every feeling, everybody,” writes Gangaji.

“It remains pure and spacious regardless of change or loss.”

11798178_10155840072870181_1562789834_nOnce this happens, then perhaps we are equipped at last for what these words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s invite:

“Make ready thy soul that thou mayest be like the light which shineth forth from the loftiest heights on the coast, by means of which guidance may be given to the timid ships amid the darkness of fog …”

Including those often-timid ships of our own small selves.

 


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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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From the smallest seeds

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

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PHOTO: Lara Kearns

Love is a light that never dwelleth in a heart possessed by fear.

~ Bahá’u’lláh

See the LIGHT in others, and treat them as if that is ALL you SEE.

~ Wayne Dyer

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PHOTO: Nelson Ashberger

You may consider yourself an individual, but as a cell biologist, I can tell you that you are in truth a cooperative community of approximately fifty trillion single-celled citizens.

~ Bruce Lipton

Look ye not upon the present, fix your gaze upon the times to come.

In the beginning, how small is the seed, yet in the end it is a mighty tree.

Look ye not upon the seed, look ye upon the tree, and its blossoms and its leaves and its fruits.

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


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In the same garden

Gleanings found here and there:

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

If we open our hearts, we will also find open hearts – it is always mutual.

~ Abbot Leo von Rudloff

… love is at the core of our being, and yet we search for it everywhere, so often causing our self pain in the process, losing our way, becoming entangled in our desires and all our images of love. Then, one day, something makes us turn away from the outer world to seek this truth within us…..

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done — then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.

~ Frances Hodgson Burnett

That’s what causes all the pain on this earth, including the fact that the ecosystem is turned upside down. All of that comes from people not making friends with themselves and never being willing to communicate with the one they consider to be the troublemaker. That’s how we stay caught in this battleground, this war zone.

 ~ Pema Chödrön

We are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we are so deeply interconnected with one another.

~ Ram Dass

 


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Singing the high parts, together

In this steamy East-Coast week, my heart is delighted to share A Winter’s Day, a Guest Post from writer, muser, and soul-life sounder, Larry Moffitt.

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Larry and Taeko Moffitt

A WINTER’S DAY

by Larry Moffitt

It’s late July, early, early in the morning. Slightly post pre-dawn. The sky only appears to be transitioning from dark purple to the lighter blue range. At this point, whether the horizon will ever actually brighten, whether the sun will rise, is anybody’s guess. I stand in front of the window sipping coffee. If I hold the cup right under my eye and peer over the rim toward where the sky meets the horizon, I catch the purple in the steam.

Honey Nim comes out, “What are you doing?”

One eye closed, keeping the cup absolutely still, I focus like a Shaolin monk. “I’m steaming the purple.”

“Go put on some clothes.”

“I made you some coffee. Sugar?”

“Not today, and just a little arf-n-arf. Thanks. So what are you doing?”

“Look… steam. And dark purple sky… over there near the ground.”

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Image: D. Kirkup Designs

She sips her coffee, looking thoughtfully where I’m pointing. “Yeah.”

I switch gears, sing softly, “A winter’s day, in a deep and dark December. I am alone, gazing from my window to the streets below, on a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow. I am a rock; I am an island.”

“What’s that?”

“Song… Paul and Artie… You know, ‘…and here’s to you Mrs. Robinson, heaven holds a place…’ those guys.”

“Oh yeah… tall, curly hair, sings the high part.”

“The song is about isolation and emotional detachment.”

She knows I’m headed somewhere with this, or not, and she has this nice habit of not rushing it. It’s a survival trick for when you find yourself in an international or interracial marriage. Our conversations can drift rudderless for minutes on end without anyone requiring a “point.” Until one of us gets it, we usually wait it out in the middle distance. She moves past me, closer to the window and gazes, squinting, willing the deep purple to dissolve into sunrise. 321531_266820190007774_1813369758_n

I stand behind her, talking into the back of her neck. “Which do you think is better, to give yourself freely to loving another even though you could end up broken-hearted, or to carefully protect your heart, but in doing so, never feel the roller-coaster thrill of love?”

She turned, puzzled. “What?”

It’s not a terribly complicated idea, and I knew the gap was mostly technical, so I explained it again, in more or less similar words.

“It makes him crazy,” she said.

“Love makes you crazy?”

“Yes,” she said, “know what I mean, jellybean?”

“I know what you mean, crocodile.”

I put my arms around her, drawing her in. Our cups of coffee mutually encircled one another. I sang another snippet. “I have my books and my poetry to protect me…”

“Go put on some clothes.”

484491_10151600247560269_529055315_nAbout Larry:

The final, and most difficult, seeking of my life is to find, and become, my true self. To genuinely become SanViejo (Saint Old Guy), not just have it as my email address. I was born in Liberal, Kansas — the most misnamed place since Greenland — in a breech birth. I have been on a cattle drive in Paraguay, I have been to a cockfight and I got kissed on the mouth by the Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Kazakhstan. I am good at growing tomatoes. I am driven by three unmanageable forces: a meaning of life gene, an art & poetry gene, and a humor gene. Not necessarily in that order. I want to live by the side of the road and be a friend to man.