Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I have, on occasion, sought to touch the truth stone, to find that condition, that place, that formula that opened a special portal into the realm of peace, insight, enlightenment.

I have used various means to do this, from expensive weekend experiences at some mountain top retreat, to the many books of the blessed.  For a little while I would feel something, but I was always feeling something.  I think that was an unaddressed issue for me.  But workshops, retreats and the books of the blessed are signs that the desire is present, not evidence of the condition unfortunately, or we would have enlightenment for a price.

I grew up in a tradition that put great store in burning bushes, parting waters, blinding lights and the transmogrification of water.  There was always something good going to happen to me tonight. Hope was a palpable element in my life.  My maternal grandfather, we called him Shug, had a way of demystifying things.  He used to say, "Hope in one hand and spit in the other and see which one fills up first."  He wasn't much for religion and would not claim enlightenment, but he had a clue.

Sometimes I think enlightenment is opening one's eyes and seeing what's there.  Of course, that means not seeing what's not there.  That's the hard part.  Western religions took a faith born in the desert east and organized and corporatized it until the simplicity of it became obscured in dogma, professionalism and flashy robes.

I am moved by the stark simplicity of Buddhism.  But one thing seems to stand out for me and it is this: enlightenment in that part of the world seems to be a minimalist idea. As in the flame of a single candle, the monotony of a simple mantra, being without things or "being" with an empty mind, or at least a mind focused on one thing at a time.  It would seem that it's difficulty lies in it's simplicity.  Its product is supposed to be simple kindness, compassion and peace.  You would think that would be the aim of all religions. You would think.  

After all these years, a few drops seem to have distilled out of all the confusion that help me, on a personal level, to deal with the imponderables.

First and foremost, I believe that truth does not carry a brand.

Secondly, if you believe that you are right and everybody else is wrong, there's medicine for that.  Get help.

The competitiveness and exclusiveness seen in much of modern religion is itself evidence of having missed the point - in my opinion. 

Yet, I'm not doing much better.  Here I am wandering around in the darkness with my little MagLight running on petered out batteries.  I keep thinking that other than the natural world, there is just us folks out here who need each other more than we ever imagined.  Now there are those who threaten to dissolve the world order in an ocean of blood all in the name of religion in a kind of "My god can whip your god" version of the search for enlightenment and peace.  It blows my mind.

The truly tall souls of our day are saying that whatever the truth is, its vessel is compassion.  If there is no compassion, there is no truth.  I wish I could point to my life as an example of this.  I can not.  But I know it when I see it, and I know it when I feel it.  We all do.

Compassion is the Holy Grail.  Drink from that cup and there is hope.  It seems so easy.  Yet it eludes me too much of the time.  First, it seems to me that I have to lay down my sword and shield, and I love my sword and shield.  I'm pretty sure nothing much will happen until I am disarmed.  

I have heard the words, "Be ye kind one to another", all my life.  Could that be  the light that shines in the darkness?  Could that be the hope of the world?  Could that simple dictum be the answer?  Could that be all the theology anyone ever needs to know?

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