Certainty

If your knowledge of fire has been turned to certainty by words alone, then seek to be cooked by the fire itself. Don't abide in borrowed certainty. There is no real certainty until you burn; if you wish for this, sit down in the fire. ~ Rumi

 

In the metaphysical classic, The Science of Mind, writer Ernest Holmes shares, "An idea has no real value until it becomes an experience." This, as well as the instruction from the Sufi poet Rumi, ask us to look at something called borrowed certainty.

Borrowed certainty is equivalent to borrowed opinion. We may catch hold of some public discourse, read an article on the internet, or remain steadfast to some inherited dogma and never venture away from those borrowed beliefs to do our own experimentation.

Do we live from these borrowed systems of collective opinion or do we go out and explore what feels true and relevant for ourselves?

The poet Rumi’s words are a challenge to move beyond public theory into embracing active...

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In The Bag

Long ago the first lapidaries or gemcutters used primitive methods to polish the exterior of rough rock material. They would fill rough textured bags with raw unrefined pieces. 

Shaking it vigorously, twisting and kneading this bag between the palms of their
hands, they would create a sort or organic, primitive friction inside. This contact would help shed surface pieces and reveal the crystal within. After much repetition, what was produced was a polished gem.

Much like this process, when we are willing to be with the "unrefined" parts of us, when we can be with our limitations and coarse behavior and take time to earnestly examine them, then those behaviors are able to be smoothed.

Throughout our lives we repeatedly come face to face with unrefined ideologies of separation and limiting beliefs. If we do not self examine or participate in a process of shedding them, we give these ideologies power - a power generated solely from a refusal to face them....

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Praghbodhi Cave

Northeast of Bodhgaya, India is a terrain of rocky hills and brush populated by slums. Situated inside one of these hills is the Praghbodhi Cave, the place where Siddhartha Guatama was believed to have lived for 7 years among ascetics who fervently believed that poverty was the pathway to enlightenment. Here he subsisted on little, becoming emaciated and ill before departing that way of thinking and traveling towards the Bodhi Tree, his eventual experience of enlightenment.

If you time it correctly, arriving in the predawn hour, you can actually enter and spend alone time in the tiny candlelit rock chamber before the daily masses of Buddhist pilgrims arrive for worship in the monastery that now surround it.

I’ve been captivated by the energy of the small cave on my visits there. I’ve often wondered what happened within the heart and mind of Siddhartha on the day he determined, “Enough.”

What motivated him to end his allegiance to this chosen path of...

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Beginner's Allowing

On a friend’s invitation, I signed up for a deep-sea fishing expedition off the shores of Corpus Christi, Texas prior to returning for my sophomore year in college.

Far into the murky waters of the Gulf, I discovered we were booked on a commercial charter with professionals. I knew nothing about the intricacies and best practices required for this kind of fishing. The dozen skilled fishermen began perching themselves circularly along the railings and casting their lines.  My friend and I mimicked their preparation and cast our lines as well.

Within a matter of minutes, a hard jolt started pulling my nylon cord. Gripping the handle, I begin to pull and buck the line to gain control but the weight on the other end felt enormous.

Grunting and gasping out, “Excuse me,” I started frantically crawling over and under the rest of the fishermen that encircled the deck as the catch began zigzagging around the circumference of the boat.

On the sixth revolution around,...

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Our Life Reflects Our Loyalty

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It was painful to watch. Activist and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver visits a family in Huntington, West Virginia – a town given the label as the unhealthiest in all of the United States. On his new television experiment, Food Revolution, part reality show, part educational programming, Oliver explains to the mother that the freezer full of processed frozen pizzas and continual trips for fast food are killing her, her truck driving husband and her already obese children. He quizzes and informs her with hard-hitting questions and health based facts about diabetes, heart disease and other related issues that await them. Does she deliberately want to usher in a life time of health problems and shorter life spans, all for the sake of current convenience?

Manipulative perhaps, but you can’t help but agree with his assessment and concerns. The mother tears up as most mothers would, and agrees that something has to change. He teaches her new ways of grocery shopping, meal planning...

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In The Meantime

…the time between one occurrence and another

…the period of time between now and when something is supposed to happen.

Recently, when meditating on this common phrase, it occurred to me that how we are “in the meantime” quite possibly is the most telling barometer of one’s state of spiritual maturity.

Between the “substance of things hoped for” phase and having the tangible experience of that thing, were we cool and assured or did we break a sweat in the heat of worry and concern over our hopes and dreams not happening? Were we flexible and curious in the ways and means our dream would arrive or did we micro manage and try to control every part of the timeline.

If you're like me, every 'in the meantime' brings about the opportunity to reexamine what we say we believe in.

What we do in the meantime counts for everything that defines our life.  By the word do I mean the way we think, speak and behave.

This span of time...

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60,000 Thoughts A Day

DialogueYou may have read or heard from a variety of sources that we humans have something upwards of 60,000 thoughts a day. 60,000. I’m not sure how one actually calculates such a precise number. I conjure up images of some sort of thought gatekeeper with one of those clicking devices in hand. There they watch, pressing and pressing with each passing mental reflection that flows through the various lobes of my brain, including the ones that are conscious or unconscious, the ones obsessed over or vaporized in an instant. Regardless the precise number, I’m sure we can all agree that there is a hell of a lot of them running through our minds everyday.

If you juxtaposed this calculation with the idea that everything is energy, then each of those 60,00 thoughts are like vibrating, electrical blasts, darting out all around us and blanketing us with a sort of Harry Potter’ish invisible cloak or aura of thought energy. This cloak is woven with the common themes of...

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The Net of Indra

Those who experience the unity of life see their own self in all beings and all beings in their own self. – Buddha

Imagine an endless net where in each knot of the infinite mass of intersecting squares, a jewel is sewn. Each pristine jewel reflects all the other jewels in the net, the same method produced when two-way mirrors are placed opposite each other and reflect an image ad infinitum.

In Buddhist teachings this net is referred to as The Net of Indra. Each jewel represents an individual life form, atom, cell or unit of consciousness.  Every jewel is intimately connected with all the others and a change in one jewel means a change, however slight, in all the others.

Stephen Mitchell, in his book The Enlightened Mind, wrote: “The Net of Indra is a profound metaphor for the structure of reality.” It reveals what physicists agree to be a powerful illustration of our universe and what Science of Mind often refers to as the interconnectedness of all things. It...

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We're All In Hospice

You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.– Rumi

We are all in hospice. From the moment we arrive through the portal of birth, we begin the journey towards another, equally shared portal for our exit.

The origin of the word hospice refers to being either guests or hosts. This world is our host and we are its guests. As guests moving towards that same exit portal, we are free to ‘do life’ with regard to how we think, how we speak and how we choose to treat the billions of other guests who are journeying towards the same destination. Regardless of what kind of guests we choose to be, the world is a non-partisan host whose arrival portal remains open to every soul who enters.

After an evening meditation class, I drove to an area hospice to be with a member of our spiritual community. His crossing through the exit portal was immediate. I placed one hand near his heart and chest as the respiratory fluid shook his body. I sang his favorite congregational song...

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Ducks In A Row

The secret to having it all is knowing you already do. – Unknown

If the gift of Life is already made, then our part must be to accept, receive, believe in and use it. - Ernest Holmes, “This Thing Called Life”

The four basic quadrants of human existence are considered to be, health, wealth, creative expression and relationships. Imagine these quadrants as ducks floating on the surface of the universal lake called life. What happens internally when you hear you can have all your ducks in a row?

Too often we justify and debate this as wishful thinking. We succumb to a worldly belief that in order to have success in one of these quadrants another area must suffer. In order for me to have a meaningful relationship, I must sacrifice my creative expression. It might drain me financially or take too many hours away from the office to live and act respectively regarding my health.

These ideas are human beliefs not spiritual truth. If my daily thoughts continually support...

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