Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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The Freedom of Not Fighting

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.

Autumn Landscape with Four Trees – Vincent van Gogh

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.

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.

 

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 were created 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


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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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The power in our choices

11049450_931176180248396_9131258257236031369_nI cannot rid the entire world of noxious problems, but I can patiently cultivate the good earth around my own two feet and grow what I wish to see in my own back yard.

~ Jacob Nordby

Walking the walk means you’re very genuine and down to earth. You take the teachings as good medicine for the things that are confusing to you and for the suffering of your life.

~ Pema Chödrön

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Image: Cary Enoch / http://enochsvision.com/

I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration; I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.

In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


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Learning to fly, again

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All Photos: David Campbell

I was discussing the ebb and flow of life with a friend recently. Naturally, a topic like that led to thoughts about the weight of the world’s pain, and the often contrasting lightness of the things a soul feels called, attracted, toward.

The conversation turned up the possibility that sometimes our doing what we do is a kind of imitation of our own past, a habitual need or effort to control what goes on around us to eliminate surprises or feelings of powerlessness. But that doesn’t relieve pain.

At times like these, I’m reminded of a phrase from a prayer I’ve been saying daily. It’s a kind of acknowledgement that I — and others — can feel like a bird struggling to fly again:

” … grant that this broken-winged bird attain a refuge and shelter in Thy divine nest that abideth upon the celestial tree“.

DCdove427315_10150775762841802_1281660509_nMy friend wondered whether our part, in relation to what this passage points to, is a matter of following our heart, and keeping that heart connected to what is its Source. A bird, we recognized, flies in accord with the forces that make its flight possible, in spite of what may pose obstacles or threaten to impede that.

When in such a heart-open, flight-focused mode, my companion noted, “I understand that what we do is like a river. It flows and moves, it changes its course according to conditions … I have to flow with it — and I never arrive.

She cited a passage she especially loves:

I am the royal Falcon, on the arm of the Almighty. I unfold the drooping wings of every broken bird, and start it on its flight.”

“I realize,” she said, “that the unfolding of the wings of this broken bird is from moment to moment. There is not some moment in the past when I was broken, and my wings were unfolded, and that was it. No, moment by moment by moment, my wings are unfolded and I am started on my flight.”

DCGanse996728_10151804325191802_146979027_nThat unfolding, she suggested, brings with it a changing of our perception, an inner knowing that helps us remember that we are never stuck, earthbound, if we don’t choose to be.

A willingness to have our wings “unfolded”, to listen and hear with our heart, seems to awaken and increase our capacity to respond, and to respond differently.

To fly free, again.

 

Cited passages from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh.