Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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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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Escaping the prison of our imagined past

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Photo: Kathy Gilman

The spiritual nature has a value system that places priceless relationships above any object or hoped-for outcome. But the human nature, if left in charge, 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, to elevate our perception, and to begin looking at others with the sin (imperfection)-covering eye of the spiritual nature.

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Photo: Saffron Moser

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 soul. 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 human nature’s customary behaviour, our mind and emotions can liken our 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 negative emotions we’ve experienced are replaced by positive ones, and there is also a noticeable improvement in the way we feel, and within the tone of our relationship  with others.

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

Find the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455105839&sr=1-1&keywords=with+thine+own+eyes


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In the light of calm

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Photo: Lauren Chuslo-Shur

Gleanings found here and there:

“A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun upon rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness inner energies wake up and work miracles without effort on your part.”

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

“While others are anxious to see you arrive, I praise your vast withstanding of the uncertainty from which all meaning is born.” ~ Toko-pa

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“So imperturbable was Abdu’l-Bahá’s equanimity that, while rumors were being bruited about that He might be cast into the sea, or exiled to Fizan in Tripolitania, or hanged on the gallows,

Israel 077He, to the amazement of His friends and the amusement of His enemies, was to be seen planting trees and vines in the garden of His house, whose fruits when the storm had blown over, He would bid His faithful gardener, Isma’il Aqa, pluck and present to those same friends and enemies on the occasion of their visits to Him.” 

~ Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By

 


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Renewal is the order of the day

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Photo: Diane Kirkup

As the Winter Solstice arrives, I’m reminded of words of Pearl Buck’s:

“It is good to know our universe. What is new is only new to us.”

The newness of the season arriving now can be a quiet kind, and an invitation to quiet, and stillness. To waiting, and listening, in order to hear.

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“Make Hay While the Moon Shines”, image by Lauren Chuslo-Shur.

Here in the northern hemisphere, the Solstice brings with it such a distinct meeting place of light and dark.

And yet, as with the sun’s gradually returning light, we can be warmed by the understanding that the forces at work in human life are drawing us away from a dark, centuries-old preoccupation with survival and “fighting evil” toward our highest destiny: a creative, collaborative and potentially limitless building of the good.

That is a prospect in which every one has a part to play and every culture unique contributions to make.

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“Sunburst” image by Lauren Chuslo-Shur

Frederick Buechner expressed this reality beautifully: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

“Renewal is the order of the day,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá declared when he visited North America in 1912. “And all this newness hath its source in the fresh outpourings of wondrous grace and favor from the Lord of the Kingdom, which have renewed the world.

“The people, therefore, must be set completely free from their old patterns of thought, that all their attention may be focused upon these new principles, for these are the light of this time and the very spirit of this age.”

 


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Created noble, to arise

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Detail from painting “River of Life” by Diane Kirkup /
D. Kirkup Designs
http://www.etsy.com/shop/dkirkupdesigns

O Son of Spirit!

Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.

~ Bahá’u’lláh

Noble have I created thee” does not mean some of us, or most of us.

Or everyone except me. 

It means all of us.

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“Pearls” by Lauren Chuslo-Shur.

The ways in which “honour and nobility” manifest themselves in us — each a unique creation of God — is a one-of-a-kind and wondrous journey.

Our human nature equips us for solving the challenges of the material world.

But that is where its powers, possibilities — and purpose — end.

It is our spiritual nature that enfolds the divine bestowals that bring forth the nobility and honour we’re created for.

What helps this nature become the decision-maker in our lives?

Are we ready, and willing, to embrace the truth that this inner reality is a presence and power in whose light all fear, and the trappings of mere survival, disappear like shadows?

Are we? WTOEimage.php

Excerpted from:

With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality?, coming January 2014 from George Ronald Publisher:

http://grbooks.com/george-ronald-publisher-books/spirituality/with-thine-own-eyes-1380638499


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‘neath the shadow of justice and truthfulness

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Sending love and prayerful blessings to all

on this anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah.

“The incomparable Friend saith:

The path to freedom hath been outstretched; hasten ye thereunto. Israel 150

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.

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

Storm 230Verily 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


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Try to leave the light on

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O Son of Being! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of might I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light.

O Son of Being! Thou art My lamp and My light is in thee. Get thou from it thy radiance and seek none other than Me. For I have created thee rich and have bountifully shed my favor upon thee.     Baha’u’llah

Every once in a while, a piece of truth that’s been looking me in the face for years, making no attempt to hide itself, stops me in my tracks. Often it’s something in recent life experience that sounds an inner chord and makes words I think I’ve heard and understood come through with new implications as loud as a siren.

An experience I had in the dark gave me a whole new appreciation for light, and lamps. I suppose that’s as good a place as any to have an epiphany about these.

EB pix Germany and more 004When my husband and I rented a small vacation apartment in Germany, the landlord showed us around the place before he headed away on business. His English was limited, as is our German. What I later realized that he had cautioned us about was, roughly translated, “Remember the light.”

When we returned home later that night, it quickly became obvious why he’d said this. We had neglected to put on the exterior light. And on this overcast night, the narrow old-town streets, most of which are also hills, were incredibly dark. The uneven, irregularly spaced steps down into the tiny alley on which our apartment’s front door was located were treacherous. We groped our way down slowly, VERY carefully, in the thick black. The cobblestones underfoot were still slippery from rain. We were relieved to finally step inside without any sprains or falls.

Waiting the very next morning as I spent some quiet time at the start of the day were those two passages above. This is definitely a way the angels have their fun with me, sometimes.

2005 Spring 071And there was this passage from ‘Abdu’l-Baha to go with them:

The good pleasure of God is love for His creatures. The will and plan of God is that each individual member of humankind shall become illumined like unto a lamp, radiant with all the destined virtues of humanity, leading his fellow creatures out of natural darkness into the heavenly light. Therein rests the virtue and glory of the world of humanity.

One light, and so very many lamps — each and every member of humankind.

Just what kind of brilliant light might all of those “destined virtues of humanity” provide that makes it bright enough to lead us from the “natural darkness” of a sore-tried world into the safe, joyful freedom of “heavenly light”?

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

http://www.amazon.com/Life-First-Sight-Finding-Details/dp/1931847673/ref=tmm_pap_title_051D7zcqZNML._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-62,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_