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Archive for December, 2009

The sixth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks.

One of the great tears in the fabric of our psyche is the intellectual split between body and soul. Western religious traditions seem especially fixated on wrestling with the body, and giving supremacy to mind and soul. Catholicism is notably obsessed with the body and with sexuality as something to contain, constrain, and deny. There is a great tragedy here in creating  a schizoid way of living.

The mind-body-spirit constellation is One indivisible reality. What we do to one, we do to all. We are creatures after all, and our sensations are the doorways to all experience. Sensuousness is more wholesomely embraced in Eastern traditions. Certainly, Eastern Orthodoxy places a premium on it. Hinduism is profoundly sensuous, as are yogic practices and traditions. In these, the body figures prominently.

The Kama Sutra is one well-known expression of the path of sensuousness to the Beloved. In many ways, it is vastly superior to those of Mind that can easily find us getting tied up in ideas and becoming overly enamored of our own mental machinations. I celebrate those special sensuous moments that lead us to the  re-integration of mind-body-spirit, acting as one in the fullness of now:

  • gentle, lingering and deeply warming touch;
  • an unhurried kiss with an authentic and abiding embrace;
  • sensuous and lasting love-making that luxuriates in the timeless rhythm of union and separation;
  • slow and exquisite movements of the Tai chi long-form or yogic postures ( especially when performed by couples);
  • simple cuddling without expectation, the feeling of complete and utter safety and total belonging.

In these moments, so fleeting and increasingly elusive in our times, we experience greatest proximity to the Beloved: the One who fills our deep well of longing with the capacity to abandon ourselves to the Other. This is authentic Communion that inspires us to reach beyond the finite to its mystical analogue.

Jesus of Nazareth was profoundly sensuous. His teaching was intimately tied up with closeness. His gracious and loving response to having his feet dried by Mary of Magdala is a case in point. The miracle of the loaves and fishes, and the conversion of water to wine for the wedding at Cana, are testaments to his insight into the central importance of thanksgiving and feeding of one another. This sacred physicality appears in many places and is writ even larger in the apocryphal Gospels and texts.

Many years ago, as an under-graduate, my part-time job was to deliver a 16 MM projector to classrooms where movies were being shown as part of the class session. On one occasion, that I still remember vividly, I walked by two lovers standing off to the side of the doorway that I had to pass through on my way to the awaiting class.

They were simply holding each other. It was also December then, and the night was very cold. As I walked by them, I passed through the area around them. It was noticeably warmer. To this day, I remember feeling the heat of their love literally filling the night air all around them.

This is why the words of the Ubi Caritas ring so authentically for me:

” Where beauty and love are, there also is G-d.”

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Our plane was filled to the brim with storm-tossed, time-lost travelers: the weary, the cynical, the depressed, the loud, and those pretending not to care. Each of us had a long wait in the crowded terminal, as the torrential rains flooded our plans, and there was nothing to be done.

We sat, and then sat some more, and then boarded what seemed a toy jet. It was Lilliputian: cramped, and designed for small humans. For once, in the positive, here was a situation in which being vertically challenged was a boon.

Rushed into our seats, so our take-off could be “timely”, Air Traffic Control decided it best we wait some more. After an hour seat-belted down, we got off the ground, and then arrived under two hours later.  Official apologies followed, along with some boasting that we had arrived in “less than the time it usually takes, thanks to those favorable winds, and a good route”.

So, we pulled into the gate, got the green light to stand, and began to gather our bags, only to wait some more. As it was so late, there was only one ground crewman to greet us, and he was tied up elsewhere unloading another plane.

We were captors in a compressed silver tube! I thought this is what processed food feels like.

Images of the bed in my hotel danced in my head and room service delicacies too, with a good shower and maybe some very late night news and, finally, off to bed. In what seemed hours, we were freed from bondage. For me, the guy who released us was of no less stature than Moses. Finally, light at the end of the jet way and then out into the terminal where there was  …………. no one.

I walked through a ghost-town terminal. It was just we, the refugees of the silver tube from the 3rd Ring of Dante’s Inferno. It was then I felt a strange sadness. Look at all the empty seats.

Then, it all suddenly dawned on me: When we are all gone as a species, these seats will still be here. What story will they tell? There was once a race of fearless travelers who came here to fly, but then spent most of their time sitting.

We were in the throes of “deplaning”.

This is such a cold, dehumanizing word. We were “deplaned,” but not greeted and warmly repatriated. No one was there to say welcome. No one to hug or smile at. Just all these ferocious folks with one thing on their minds: Leave here and get as far away as possible.

There is something surreal about all this. We move with great purpose and rush all about, and then spend so much time “zombified”; glued to cell phones and laptops.

The coffee is consumed in billions of liters, along with tons of carbohydrates, adding greater girth to an already rotund society. Magazine sales do well, and then there is always sleeping. One need little more evidence that all our technology and modernity has simply anesthetized us and made us hollow.

We are deplaned. It is imperative that we re-enchant this life and slow down, so that we can more meaningfully speed up.

I think the ghostly terminal, with all the empty seats, is a powerful, telling icon: when filled by day, they may still be largely empty.

I got to my very fine hotel, at last, full of expectation. Room service was unavailable.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in the Western church. The “Immaculata” emerged early in the history of the Church.

Among certain ancient Christian sects, the “Mother of God” was, from the outset, given a very high spiritual station, as there are arguably none more intimate with a son’s soul than his mother.

So great was the Spirit of Christ, that she who bore the Anointed One would naturally be set apart as especially blessed. The universe brought forth a soter (or savior) from the womb of a common woman of Jewish faith.

She bore him, bathed him with unconditional regard and support, and, in the end, bore the unimaginable pain of his passing.

In the Orthodox tradition, they refer to her Ascension as “the Dormition of the Virgin,” or the “Going to Sleep”. The Divine Mother archetype is the soft blue image of infinite patience, attention, and conscious silence. She is eternally alive within us.

Lutheran theologian Rudolf Bultmann revealed that the sacred mysteries documented in the Gospels are in no way diminished when we cut away the mythic story-telling appended by later writers.

He insisted that instead of the super-naturalizing that was grafted onto the texts,  an existential reading, in the way of philosopher Martin Heidegger, was truer to the essential kernel of the teaching.

In doing so, the intersections of the teachings with those of other Eastern religious systems become more visible. In both Buddhism and Christianity, at a mystical level, there is an androgynous quality in experiencing the Divine Presence.

There is an implicit marriage of male and female forming a new alchemical union (e.g., the trinity and the rise of Mariology, yin and yang, Buddha & Kwan Yin).

Where Bultmann erred was in failing to see the significance of the full mythic image for the psyche. To contemplate the Immaculate Conception is to open up to what cannot be fathomed by discursive intellect and reasoning.

In effect, the mysteries of the Rosary are also koans that cause us to recognize, in moments of luminous insight, the true depth and inconceivable beauty of the mystery of being.

Since we are persons, we can only experience personally. Our devotional lives need divine persona to represent the sacred entanglement, the cosmic dance, from which all life and meaning derive. Theology gets me to the edge of mystery, then I come to a point at which I need to leap off into the chasm of unknowing.

I experience the mystery of the “Immaculate Conception” in this way:

She who was clothed in the Sun is the one who knew the nature of Christ from Within. She is the emblematic Christic, aglow with the Light of Christ. She offers us a powerful manifestation of the Gospel teaching in action.

As is the case with all good mothers, Mary and her son have an inseparable bond. Mother is the ground, the earth, the tie to the real and the moment.

Mother calls us to quiet reflection and kenosis, or emptying (in the way of the Magnificat) to see that we are truly great in our meekness. The good mother teaches us to open our arms in the spirit of radical love, and to do what is right without self-consciousness. Her commitment knows no frustration or turning away.

The good father, the heavens, calls us to aspire, and feeds our quest for meaning in action. But without mother, our spirituality is about works without a solid grounding in prayer, contemplation, and mysticism.

Looked at in terms of a physical metaphor: mother is centripetal force, causing us to move toward the center, where Father is the centrifugal force that calls us out of our depths to the circumference, where life’s chores and assignments, conflicts and complexes arise to be managed.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was deeply troubled, and he was terrifyingly alone. Yet, at the same time, he was in touch with the fullness of His Priesthood. He was consoled by the tenderness in the moment also, by the unconscious echo of his Mother reciting deeply in his consciousness: “Be it unto me according to Thy will.”

And so, the son finds his mother in the depths of his own Spirit, as the Mother, too, later consoles the disciples on the death of their master, and emboldens their message with  transcendent caring.

In entering the silent space and timeliness of the recitation of the Rosary, meditating on the emblematic mysteries of the Church, we find the “Mysterium Tremendum” awaiting us. “In Christ there is no male or female.”

Yet, in this life, while we contemplate a unity beyond appearances, we do commerce with the customary, the appearances, and the day-to-day. Contemplation of the Immaculate Conception brings our thoughts and senses to attention around the great Sophia, or Wisdom, that is all around us.

Sophia’s presence is often drowned out by the noise and distractions of activities at the circumference, where the masculine takes on an unbalanced and pre-eminent status in our consciousness.

It is a wonderful conundrum that numbs the mind; the mind that must keep seeking after clarity while, at the same time, recognizing that the “Cloud of Unknowing” is a veil through which we will forever be gazing as we live in this state.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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This week, President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize, acknowledging both his aspirational leadership, and game-changing actions in his first year to cool down the rhetorical belligerence and strident voices of American exceptionalism.

He has, and continues, to reach out in all directions to encourage dialogue on the complex issues of our times among allies and adversaries. His language reveals his sizable mind and heart, the depth of his deliberateness, and his appreciation for complex decision-making. He understands the need to grapple with dilemmas and the delicate and difficult task of threading a needle between polarized passionate views. The speech itself modeled the reasons he deserves the award so early in his  tenure.

It was the work of a realist with vision, a pragmatist with clear aspirational values, and the voice of one who fully recognizes that he cannot be the leader of one faction or political persuasion. He masterfully travels the middle road, while irrational fears, extreme and unthinking ideology, and propaganda designed to distract, obfuscate, frighten, and derail inspire the speech and actions of lesser leaders.

Of course, this is the nature of political theater, but the central issues shaping the political landscape of this new century are undeniably important matters for our meditations.

In his Oslo speech, the President took great pains to refer to the need to accept that there is real evil in the World. He went on to say that the idea of a “just war” is reasonable. He commented that as Commander-in-Chief, he did not have the luxury to simply follow the examples of Mandela, King, Gandhi and so many other unsung heros of nonviolent resistance in India, Pakistan, China, Iran, Africa and elsewhere. He expressed the need to consider, also, the awards bestowed on such leaders as George Catlett Marshall.

This is the dilemma a sitting President and, frankly,  any political leader faces. As an ordained person, this raises for me the question: Can one be an authentic disciple of the Teacher of Righteousness, Jesus of Nazareth, and still support the idea of a “just war.” Roman Catholicism put this to bed for their parishioners a long time ago by declaring that a war is “just” if it meets a few clear guidelines ( paragraph 2309 of the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church):

  • the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

The Society of Friends, the Quakers, of which I was a member for several years, takes the opposing point of view ( i.e., that there is no justification for war at any time and in any form). I agree without reservation.

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In these lines by Christina G. Rossetti, 1830-1894, later put to the now very familiar music of Gustav T. Holst, and one of my favorite hymns of the Season, the paradoxical character of the Incarnation is evocatively captured:

In the bleak Midwinter, frosty winds made moan.
Earth stood cold as iron, water like a stone.
Snow had fallen snow on snow, snow on snow.
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

I have traveled this week in Wisconsin on business. Yesterday and today, the wind picked up in Milwaukee dramatically after the region saw its first major 14 + inch snowstorm. The temperature also plunged into the single digits.

The two-block walk from my hotel to the office was like a trek across the arctic tundra. It was even hard to breath, and the walk seemed like it took forever. This all started me thinking about this much-loved traditional Christmas carol.

Building on my last post ( Practice #116), I find myself reflecting on the polarities of:

  • the deep cold- warm Light:  of the Christos, and the burning hearth,
  • the gray-toned days- full color spectrum: adorning homes, buildings, and Christmas trees.

The festival of lights also comes to mind along with the lighting of the menorah. The cold and the dark make the light and the colors all the more bold, prominent, welcome, and gratifying.

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Statue of Asclepius - archetype of healing

We again enter the season of Advent: a word that derives from the latin translation of the Greek word for the Second Coming, or parousia. It connotes a period of vigilance and expectation of the coming Messiah.

The Christian calendar marks the season as preparatory. It is a time for penitence and clearing. It is a season of centering on the primary mystery of divine presence and our thirst for profound renewal and healing.

With tradition reenacting an extraordinary event in history, its celebration in winter is provocative. We await the birth of the Light of the World: the Incarnation of Divine Love. Mystically, it is re-enlivened, renewed, and deepened with each sincere heart that embraces this time as more than a historical commemoration. It is a real-time happening in the soul of all those who enter it mystically.

In archetypal terms, the coincidence with the winter solstice and the time of nature’s incubation ties our spiritual renewal to the physical renewal of the biosphere. The bulbs that lie dormant await the more direct light and heat of the Spring as the trigger for germination.

While historians have concluded that the historical events celebrated in this season were most likely Springtime events, the coincidence in tradition of Winter with Advent is auspicious and symbolically very powerful.

In keeping vigil and following in the footsteps of the Magi, who read the portents in the stars, it is a good and deeply healing practice to awaken just before dawn and, with eyes lightly closed ( with great care to avoid direct gazing at it) to await the rising Sun.

To feel its warmth and to register the moment of the first light as a signal for the germination within us of the Christos. The Therapeutae were an ancient sect of the Essenes in the middle east that, some argue, could very conceivably have been the community in which Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled his early preparations in those missing years for which we have no documentation.

They engaged in the daily practice of awakening before dawn, wearing a very simple blue tunic, to walk to the shores of Lake Mariotas to greet the rising sun. I am reminded of the beautiful yoga practice, the Surya Namaskara, or the Salutation to the Sun. They are reputed to have been great healers and miracle workers (hence their name).

Beyond our words and thoughts, the Sun’s rays are the physical analogue of the Son’s presence feeding everything with the energy that sustains all being. We are, in opening ourselves to the Divine, awakened once again to the truth of our origin, destination and unity with the All. for a moment, we are more fully “bound back,” the meaning of the word, religio, or religion, to the Source.

The world speaks to us of things that lie beneath. The Beloved is in His Holy Temple, let all the earth keep silence.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Offering criticism is apparently just too delicious to resist.

In all walks of life, people invest inordinate amounts of time in inspecting gaps in confidence, competence, effectiveness, caring, morality (especially that), and intelligence of others, ad infinitum and ad nauseum. This is the psychology of “but:” I liked your work, but …….,” and all the parallel variations on the theme. Criticism, we reason, is all about giving honest feedback, ostensibly, so people can get better.

In an age of being more politically correct and a need to at least come across as more compassionate, the term “constructive criticism” entered the lexicon. Just how constructive is it most of the time in fact?

Critics are ubiquitous. We have our movie critics who tell us if a film is a star or a dog, our pundits, sizing up where our political leaders are failing, our art critics who opine about aesthetic quality, meaningfulness, and uniqueness (and, of course, dollar value), music critics, theater critics, book critics, on and on.

It seems every one has advice to offer and a critique to publish, and, I confess, I read them and listen to them. I check out the ratings given by newspaper movie critics in deciding which I take in, and the Zagat ratings for the restaurants I visit. Honestly, sometimes I agree and, many times, I have a different experience. Often, critics have an axe to grind, and a public persona to project. At the end of the day, the critic is offering a subjective, personal perception.

I find myself welcoming more the critique of masters who themselves create, than from those who offer criticism as a bona fide career path. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that criticism fills the greatest percentage of what gets said on the airways and gets written in the press, and exchanged in conversation.

What impresses me about all the criticism is the motivation that lies behind it. The logic is peculiar: talking about what’s wrong to make something better or right. The frame is intrinsically negative. It’s an analysis designed to flag error, being off the mark, falling short of the target, or ideal, and throwing the spotlights on the gaps.

There is an alternative; one less appealing to many leaders because it seems to lack the incisiveness and the seemingly stronger direct statements of what’s not the way it should be. It is appreciative inquiry ( AI), and it is used by a growing number (though still a minority) of leaders in their partnerships with people.

AI is a positive framing of the performance dialogue. Instead of what’s missing, it honors what’s there. For example, in looking at an individual’s performance, the question is: So, what has worked in the past, or is working now, that can help address a challenge with which we’re struggling? In talking about strengths and weaknesses, it invites a response to what has been done well, and how it typifies what would be best pursued in tackling the new or ongoing and, yet unresolved, challenge.

In thinking about an organization’s future state, and changes that create value, analyzing what the organization values, has made a big difference in the past, and has a proven track-record of delivering on results, puts us in a position to cast forward with an appreciative look at the past, while envisioning new possibilities.

AI applies in all arenas where criticism is swift in coming: What do we appreciate in a work  we are considering from which we’ve derived real satisfaction, pleasure, and benefit. What do those positive features suggest about ways to make it even more compelling?

The motive force behind this approach is to build authentically on excellence, initiative, creativity, genius, and commitment, and not the disingenuous character of so much that is spun as “constructive criticism” that is often the critic’s thinly veiled self-aggrandizement at the expense of the work, character, or decisions of another.

This is spiritual practice. In the intense round of our daily activities, this is a concrete and practical way to realize the ideas of “right speech and right action.” It is engaged spirituality and makes a palpable difference every day in our own lives, and in the lives of those affected by what we say and how we say it.

This is more than right language. It is right thinking. It is spiritual learning to examine the deep motivations, and the shadow-play, that may be operating behind our critiques and commentary. Moving to “and” rather than “but,” and to what’s right in informing what we do next, is a more truly constructive mindset to adopt.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Russian Orthodox icon of the Transfiguration (Theophanes the Greek, ca. 1408).

Can we replace faith in G-d with direct knowledge? The Perennial Philosophy, or religioperennis, invites us to do just that.

Rene Jean Marie Guenon, Abd al-Wâhid Yahyâ, an important proponent and student of metaphysics, focused his prayerful attention on the esoteric and universal aspects of world religious traditions. He himself, a European, chose to focus on Hinduism, and was later received as an initiate in the Sufi tradition.

Guenon talked about the “mystical infinite” and “mystical zero.” The Infinite embraces all possibilities. Mystical zero is non-being and, so, has in it no possibilities.

We see the sacred infinite in humanity’s use of symbols that serve as windows into mystery. The icons of Orthodox Christianity are a case in point. The venerated images represent portals into divine space & time.

Our acts of bowing before the Buddha or before icons, the power of prostrations to change one’s state of mind, the fingering of the rosary beads, and so many other similar practices, make the Infinite fully present for us. We can imagine infinity, though we are ourselves finite.

The Infinite and the transcendent become concrete in our experience. We feel it. We sing about it. We write about it, and our dreams are limitless tapestries.

We can look out to the cosmos and, through the invention of mathematics, look more deeply into the idea of time, and contemplate the large-scale structure of the universe. We infer physical attributes based on known laws and theory that lead us to reflect on the condition of the universe in its first microseconds.

This is all heady stuff. It does suggest that the Infinite is undeniably within us, wrapped around us, and that it is personal. The mystical infinite is not an abstract idea, just like my love for my family is not abstract. It is self-evident. The Mystical Infinite is deeply personal.

The products of imagination, coupled with our rich observations and imaginative hypotheses and insight, are concrete evidence of the pulse of the Infinite resident in the human spirit.

To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour.  – William Blake

The Mystical Infinite emerges continuously in our thoughts and interactions.

  • our capacity to transcend natural self-interest and altruism;
  • our poetry opening phenomena to reveal the Spirit;
  • our works of fiction creating alternate worlds, populated with colorful characters, and through whom we live multiple lives in diverse times and places;
  • our science opening up our minds to ever deeper mystery;
  • our finite and limited senses opening up our consciousness to the infinite gradations and finer nuances;
  • Cantor’s set theory and mathematical work on infinity proving that there are even different kinds of infinity (e.g., the infinity between two real numbers, and the entire set of all integers, etc.) also suggests perception that goes beyond the usual.

The universe is alive, emerged from mystical zero, to complexify, and express itself in many diverse forms of Being. How, then, can there be any doubt whatsoever of the Presence of the Mystical Heart of Infinity.

Love, true agape, is itself sufficient demonstration of a transcendent function. Add to it the powerful emergence of the collective archetypes in every facet of our lives, and we experience the Beloved as lovers. It is not an object of study, but a dance of eternal intimacy.

How beautiful to be conscious and to know without doubt that infinity is within us, among us, and is our true home: our origin and our destination. QED

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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In traveling cross country today, I was swept, along with many others, into the all too familiar twilight zone of air travel. The carrier’s sabre system went down and remained so all day. If you didn’t have a boarding pass printed out at home, you had to submit to an agonizingly slow manual boarding process.

Fortunately, I am a big believer in printing these out at home before I head to the airport, so the whole thing was a lot less tortuous, though delays were substantial.
Once on board, the inevitable horror of limited overhead space was the next collective trial.

I’ve never ceased to be amazed at the amount that people carry with them, nor the lengths they will go to attempt to out-smart the laws of physics.

I watched a display of such irrationality as a young lady insisted on ramming a clearly over- sized bag into a space simply too small to accommodate it. ( This happens a lot actually.) She removed other people’s items, including mine, “hell bent” on figuring out how to make it work.

Eventually, she did what the flight attendant advised from the start: take some stuff out and place it in the bin alongside the bag. Miracle of miracles, it worked beautifully.

With all the travel I do, three weeks out of every four, on average, domestically and internationally, you do come face to face with a very good assessment of your own spiritual condition. I still travel with too much, but I’ve been working on it, and getting better at the “accidental tourist” thing.

A lot of things can be purchased on arrival after all. Sometimes, I’ve even sent the bag ahead by a few days to be held at my destination hotel when the trip was more than a week.

Tonight’s flight delays will get me into my destination at close to midnight. Getting the bag from baggage claim will cost me even more time, and then I have a two hour drive to my hotel. So, I am thinking about this luggage issue a lot tonight. Of what is all the excess luggage symptomatic?

It is another demonstration of our preoccupation with exteriors. Of course, it also reflects the very effective brainwashing of the advertisers, and explains why so many billions are spent on ad budgets every quarter. It works!

The daily barrage of messages about product just worm their way into consciousness and attach to other values. These are conditioned emotional and spiritual responses.

I see bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, perfume, gels, lotions, salves, dental product and cremes being confiscated at airport security (though the regulations about liquids are clear along with use of the transparent plastic quart bags, and have been for a long time.)

Once I arrive at my destination, I will take stock of what traveled with me this time that was unnecessary: all part of a systematic unburdening to make more room for interior work. It’s something I need to do repeatedly because, in time, these associations between product and values, such as attractiveness, hygiene, and entertainment, adhere to the sticky surface of mind like fly paper.

All our practices, without exception, strengthen or weaken the health of the soul. May the young woman who struggled so tonight with her luggage regain her sense of humor swiftly, and be blessed. She was a teacher giving me a chance to examine this aspect of my own life more closely. ( By the way, she sat beside me on the flight and soon was fast asleep).

Our stuff does not complete us, it depletes us.

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.” Matthew 6:21

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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I read from the Dhammapada, Verses 222 and 227:

One, who controls his anger when aroused, is like a clever driver who controls a fast going carriage; the others are like those who merely hold the reins.

This is a thing of old, Atula, not only of today; they blame him who remains silent, they blame him who talks much, they blame him who speaks in moderation; none in the world is left unblamed.

The teaching is crystal clear and echoed in the sacred texts of the Abrahamic religions: Let it go!

People will always find a flaw in you. They waste precious time and, when we do the same, we are, as they, living a dark spiritual blindness. Gaining control takes vigilance and discipline.

In the first months or even years, a spiritual discipline comes relatively easily and that’s because we’re skimming the surface. In realizing his own true nature, Jesus first left the company of others to travel into the desert where he was tempted for 40 days and 40 nights. He emerged the Christ. His teaching invites us to do the same thing, and the verses of the Dhammapada capture precisely the central principle.

There’s no way around it. We must pass through the veil of our rages and illusions, and face our daemons head on, empowered by the Truth of what is real in us.

Anger and tempestuous reaction to events are a learned reflex  and the result of habitually triggered neural pathways conditioned by some harsh experience or fear of such experience. Thought moves faster than limbic chemistry.

Hard as it may be at times, we can head it off at the pass! What it requires is becoming exquisitely attuned to the early signs of the rising emotional tide and interrupting the reflex thought cycle with a potent counter-punch; perhaps a short phrase or image that connotes the very opposite experience.

In time, we can lay down new pathways. It’s been estimated to be doable in 21 days of consistent practice.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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