#1868 - Saturday, July 24, 2004
Nondual Highlights Issue #1624 Saturday, November 22, 2003 Editor: Mark
Stillness of the Day
Never just a repeat, its the subtle
variations of the day that trip us.
We think we know what to expect
so we plunge our feet into crevasses.
Mind paints the day before light arrives
forcing us to use only imagined colors.
We need to listen, to fall into the
moment and splash into time.
This stillness soothes and like the color
black contains all other things.
- Zen Oleary, on SufiMystic
BECOMING A BLESSING
As a doctor, I learned to cure with scientific techniques and medicines. But curing is different than healing. Medicines don't heal people. People heal people. Healing does not require expertise. People have been healing each other with their listening, their belief, their attention and their love long before there were experts. Only people can heal the hidden wounds of this world-the loneliness, the isolation, the feeling of not being good enough or not mattering or not belonging. Everyone of us is a healer but most of us do not know it.
Because I have found that stories heal people, I am a storyteller. Real stories are about us all; they remind us of our strength and who we are. They may help us to recognize our own worth for the first time. The best stories change the way that we see ourselves and the world...and so they help us to live better and to help others to live better also.
In the Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition, there is a very old story about our power to heal that is important for us to remember now. It was first told to me when I was very small by my beloved grandfather who was a rabbi and a wonderful storyteller. He called it "The Birthday of the World."
In the beginning there was only the Ein Sof, the Holy Darkness. Sometime in the history of things, the world as we know it, the world of a thousand, thousand things, emerged from the heart of this darkness as a ray of light. But then there was a great accident. The vessels holding the light of the world broke open and the light scattered into countless sparks of holiness. These sparks fell into all events and all people and remain deeply hidden there until this very day.
According to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we have the capacity to discover and uncover the hidden wholeness and holiness in all life's events and all people, to strengthen it and make it visible once again and thereby to restore the wholeness of the world. This collective task involves everyone-all those who are now alive, all who have once lived and all who are yet to be born. In Hebrew this task is called Tikkun Olam...repairing the world. So, according to Kaballah, we are the healers of the world. I was only four when my grandfather told me this story. Because I would not have understood words like "repair the world" he used other, simpler words. "You can become a blessing," he told me.
As a small child I had taken this story very personally. I believed I could bless others and be blessed by them. But over time I forgot that I could matter just as I am. I thought that I needed to become a professional or an expert in order to make a difference. But our expertise is not our real power. It has taken me many years to remember that we all have the power to befriend and bless the life in one another.
It is sad that so many of us do not feel that we are enough to make a difference. So many people think they need to be more than they are-better people in some way, smarter, wealthier, healthier, more educated-in order to matter. But we are already enough. We are exactly what is needed. Healing the world is not the work of experts; it is the work of people just like us.
In reality our power to make a difference is so great that we can even bless the life in total strangers. We can help people whose names we do not even know to find their worth and remember their wholeness. We have become so distracted and busy, so out of touch with ourselves that we may have forgotten the web of connection between us. Because we are already connected, we have blessed many more people than we know and have already made a far greater difference in the world than we can imagine.
My favorite story about this was told to me by a woman who is an expert on Domestic Violence. When I asked her how she became interested in this field, she told me that she had once been an abused woman. Her first husband had been a violent and angry man. He was a professional, a highly respected man in their community and had always treated her as a perfect gentleman when they were in public. No one had suspected that they did not have the perfect marriage. Like many abusers he told her that the abuse was her own fault; she caused it by the stupid things she said and the stupid things she did. She would try harder and harder but somehow it was never good enough for him. Over the years she became so ground down that she had actually come to believe him and felt she deserved to be treated in this terrible way.
All this ended abruptly one day during a family visit to New York City. She and her husband were standing on a street corner waiting for the light to change. Noticing a beautiful building on the other side of the street she said, "Honey, look at that beautiful building." He, thinking they were alone, responded in the tone of utter contempt he reserved for their private conversations. "That building?" He sneered. "Anyone who wasn't blind would know it was just an ordinary heap of bricks." Humiliated, she fell silent. But a woman standing next to him, a total stranger who was also waiting for the light to change, turned to him in disbelief: "What?" she said" That's a perfectly beautiful building! She's absolutely right! And you, sir, are a horse's ass!" And then the light changed and the stranger crossed the street and went on with her business.
But the woman's remark had changed everything for my friend. Suddenly she knew that she had never deserved any of this abusive treatment. She was surprised to feel something very unfamiliar rise up in her, something that felt like a kind of strength. Standing there on that street corner she knew beyond doubt that it would take time and it would take planning but she was going to be able to leave this man.
Now this is not a story about my friend. It's really a story about the stranger. What if we could go to New York and find her? If we could ask her if she had ever saved anyone's life? Do you think she would say, "Why yes, twenty years ago on that street corner!" Somehow I doubt it. Most likely she would say, "What? Save lives? I don't save lives! Do I look like a doctor to you?"
It is hard to believe that we can heal others when we know we are wounded and less than whole ourselves. But often our own wounds are what make us trustworthy and enable us to have the wisdom and power to heal. Our hurts can move us beyond judgment and teach us compassion for the hurts of other people. Our loneliness can help us to recognize the hidden loneliness in others and to find them when they are lost in the dark. It has been humbling to discover that often my medical expertise is not what makes the most difference to someone, but that they have been able to remember their strength and worth because of something I learned from my Russian grandmother or from my own fifty-year personal experience with Crohn's disease. We can use any of the events of our lives to befriend the life in others. In the 40 years since I became a doctor, I have seen people discover their capacity to heal others in times of personal illness, loss and grief. I have even seen people heal the lives of those around them by the way in which they die. There is such a simple greatness in us all that nothing need be wasted.
The events of the past year have made it painfully obvious that our expertise has not make us whole and it has not made the world whole either. It will take something different than that. Perhaps it will take remembering the power of our connection to one another and having the courage to use it. To be willing to bless others out loud, even those who are different from us and share with us only a common humanity.
My grandfather's story of the birthday of the world suggests that we each heal others in our own way, with our own gifts, assets, perspectives and life experience. But whether we are mother, father, farmer, doctor, file clerk or taxi driver makes no difference at all. We can use anything to heal the world. It is all one work. We have been born because we can heal the world, one heart at a time.
- Rachel Naomi Remen, posted by Doug to AdyashantiSatsang
Reality, truth, is not to be recognized. For truth to come, belief, knowledge, experiencing, virtue, pursuit of virtue - which is different from being virtuous- all this must go. The virtuous person who is conscious of pursuing virtue can never find reality. He may be a very decent person; that is entirely different from the man of truth, from the man who understands. To the man of truth, truth has come into being. A virtuous man is a righteous man, and a righteous man can never understand what is truth; because virtue to him is the covering of the self, the strengthening of the self; because he is pursuing virtue. When he says `I must be without greed', the state in which he is non-greedy and which he experiences, strengthens the self. That is why it is so important to be poor, not only in the things of the world, but also in belief and in knowledge. A man rich with worldly riches, or a man rich in knowledge and belief, will never know anything but darkness, and will be the center of all mischief and misery. But if you and I, as individuals, can see this whole working of the self, then we shall know what love is. I assure you that is the only reformation which can possibly change the world. Love is not the self. Self cannot recognize love. You say "I love," but then, in the very saying of it, in the very experiencing of it, love is not. But, when you know love, self is not. When there is love, self is not.
- J. Krishnamurti
Q: What is your opinion of social reform?
Self-reform automatically brings about social reform. Confine yourself to self-reform. Social reform will take care of itself.
- Ramana Maharshi from Conscious Immortality, posted to MillionPaths by Viorica Weissman
We should ask God
To help us toward manners. Inner gifts
Do not find their way
To creatures without just respect.
If a man or a woman flails about, he not only
Smashes his house,
He burns the world down.
Your depression is connected to your insolence
And your refusal to praise. If a man or a woman is
On the path, and refuses to praise - that man or woman
Steals from others every day - in fact is a shoplifter!
The sun became full of light when it got hold of itself.
Angels began shining when they achieved discipline.
The sun goes out whenever the cloud of non-praising comes
The moment that foolish angel felt insolent, he heard the
- Rumi, from Mathnawi, translated by Robert Bly, posted on SunLight
Speaking of the value of mindfulness practice by non-Buddhists as well as Buddhists:
"The calamity of 9/11 demonstrated that modern technology and human intelligence guided by hatred can lead to immense destruction. Such terrible acts are a violent symptom of an afflicted mental state. To respond wisely and effectively, we need to be guided by more healthy states of mind, not just to avoid feeding the flames of hatred, but to respond skillfully. We would do well to remember that the war against hatred and terror can be waged on this, the internal front, too."
- The Dalai Lama, quoted on DailyDharma, from the New York Times editorial, "The Monk In The Science Lab."