The Gift of Presence

Seeing Deeply
From http://www.1zoom.net

Being present in the moment is a big thing these days, as it should be. It is something with which I struggle on a daily basis. Intellectually we can appreciate the value of being present, but putting it into practice is difficult; old habits of the mind are hard to change. And what can we really expect should we achieve the holy grail of Presence anyway?

But then I recently had a remarkable experience that gave me a taste of just how wonderful and transforming complete, unwavering presence can be. As I walked out of a movie theater I inexplicably stopped dead in my tracks. There before me was the most mundane and superficially insipid scene you could imagine. I was looking out across a large parking lot…but somehow it was so much more than that at this particular moment.

I became totally immersed in the clouds along the horizon and the tall royal palm trees lining the street. The golden hour was approaching making the green and grey of the trees glow with a seemingly heavenly light. I studied the shapes of the clouds and the lines of the tree trunks. My eyes were transfixed on the scene. I felt a deep appreciation and affection for each element of the scene—the trees, the sky, and clouds. I felt exceedingly alive and happy. So much so that I stood there for quite some time scanning the scene. I didn’t want to take even one step and lose these feelings of joy.

As I drove home, my mind continued to seek presence in what I saw along the way, but sadly I was forced to keep my eyes on the road and attend to my driving. I had hoped that I would re-enter the mystical state of awareness I had experienced when I got home but it was not to be—not then, the next day, or the days to follow. I was left disappointed and wondering just what it was that I experienced and how to get back there again.

During that short span of presence I saw the beauty and wonder of simple things around me in great detail. What usually was a mind busy with useless thoughts was totally focused on what was before me. It showed me that when we are truly present in the moment, we see things we didn’t notice before. We see the beauty in things that previously scarcely caught our attention. We see things as they really are.

When present and interacting with others, we perceive beyond the superficiality of appearance and words. As Thich Nhat Hanh has suggested, we hear and see people deeply with greater understanding and compassion.

Achieving presence is well worth the effort because it can lead to an elevated state of being and awareness which in turn will lead to greater happiness and joy. The simplest things can be seen as they really are: beautiful and fascinating. This is the gift of presence.

You might like to see the following related articles:

Spirits Calling

The Scientific Aesthetic

 

I Had a Vision…

Earth Aura
Photo source unknown

I Had a Vision…

I had a vision of what someday will be. I saw a wave of love, compassion, and healing emanating from God spread around the world leaving the earth enveloped in a soft glow of divine energy.  Peace and tranquillity permeated the awareness of all living things. The rotation of the earth seemed to quicken with excitement, just for a moment, in response.

It was a vision of a world in perfect harmony. There was no more suffering. People treated each other with dignity, respect, generosity, and kindness. No one was left cold, hungry, or without shelter.

The planet was vibrant and healthy. The air was clean, fresh, and fragrant. The animals came out in the warm sunlight to play, unafraid.

I am confident that one day these things will come to pass; such is the destiny of humanity and planet Earth. Each of us must do all that we can, here and now, to make that vision a reality. Each of us through our actions, attitudes, and the example we provide can begin to bring about change in the small slice of the world in which we live. Our individual efforts will have a local additive effect which over time will spread geographically and eventually exponentially.

 

You might like the following related articles:

A Letter to God

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How Does One Sustain a Spiritual Outlook?

Sunrise at Goblin Valley

A friend recently asked me, “How does one sustain their spirituality?” The answer to that question will be somewhat different for each person. Some may say that participation in religious practice and/or community are needed to sustain one’s spirituality. Those things can have role, but what we’re addressing here is a continuity of spirituality throughout everyday of our lives.

For me, spirituality is not only a way of living, but also a state of mind. It is that state of mind or spiritual presence that is the key to sustaining one’s spirituality. In some ways it is like being in a constant state of prayer or contact with God and the spiritual realm.

As we move through our day, we should always be silently expressing our gratitude and thanks for every little thing we see, experience, and receive. We should strive to always be present and to take notice of the many expressions and beauty of God all around us. We should allow feelings of love and compassion to come forth naturally, unfiltered by the intellect or prejudice.

When we do these things; when we allow our spirit to express and commune with God and His holy spirits, we find ourselves in a constant state of grace, happiness, and bliss.

Disasters: An Awakening

Spiritual Awakening
Artist unknown

With regard to those directly affected by disasters such as the recent hurricanes and the earthquakes in Mexico, I think it’s important to maintain the right perspective. These events can lead to great suffering and many people lost all of their possessions. But in the midst of this, it is important for those directly affected to reflect and give thanks to God for what was, for what and who survived, and for what will be, going forward.

After the devastation of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines some years back, a journalist came upon a man standing in front of a pile of rubble that was once his home. He asked the man how he felt about the destruction. The man simply said, “Blessings, [God’s] blessings.”

These events often bring out the best in people. It’s as if they have had a spiritual awakening or renewal and realized who they really are and how they are intended to live. We heard about neighbors helping neighbors and how volunteers flooded into devastated areas to help any way they could. Others organized or contributed to the collection of relief supplies.

These acts of love and compassion are expressions of one’s spirit. They give us joy and happiness like nothing else can. For some, experiencing a disaster is a life-changing experience and they make a commitment to always help people whenever they can as they go forward with their lives. For others, their old ways of living quickly return and sadly, an opportunity for spiritual transformation is lost.

 

Something Wonderful

Some Thoughts on Relationships

I think we have to allow ourselves to be emotionally vulnerable. How else can we really be genuine? To do so is taking a chance, but how can a relationship, whether friendship or love, really grow if we are not willing to let our guard down and open up?

Letting someone in is a big deal, yes, but more often than not it helps us to grow, assuage our insecurities, and build a stronger relationship. Sometimes we get hurt; sometimes we are ridiculed. But sometimes it opens the door to something wonderful.

Spirits Calling

sun-through-trees

Upon leaving the gym today I was compelled to stop by a small grove of trees. As I looked up into the branches with flashes of the sun passing through on the breeze, I felt so much love. Love for the beautiful trees and love from the trees.

I felt a presence welcoming me to a meditation. It was a remarkably sublime feeling of calm, contentment, and fulfillment. It was a wonderful moment that I did not want to end.

I have walked past those trees hundreds of times without noticing them. But this day I heard them call to me and say, “Come stay a while and let us commune with God and feel His love.”

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The Scientific Aesthetic

Lightning Storm Over the Grand Canyon Copyright by Rolph Maeder, Photography Sedona

Lightning Storm Over the Grand Canyon
Copyright by Rolph Maeder, Photography Sedona

#weekendcoffeeshare 9/17/16

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how I wanted to be a scientist since about the age of ten or eleven. Unlike most children who declare a vocation at such a young age, I never lost sight of the goal and did indeed become a scientist (now retired).

But the other day I was thinking about what it was that kept my dream alive from childhood to fruition as an adult. I mean how many young kids who say they want to be a fireman actually do it? What I realized was that I had an abiding wonder and fascination with all of the mysteries of nature. Science was a tool to reveal its secrets.

As a young boy, I wanted to explore many and varied aspects of the natural world and science. For a time I was an avid mineralogist. I made many expeditions into the creek bed behind the apartments where I lived. My holy grail was to find a geode; I never found one but found some petrified wood instead. I was disappointed at the time, but years later realized how cool and unusual that find was.

I had an inexpensive microscope and peered into the previously unseen details of all sorts of things from hair to bugs and leaves. When the Russians launched Sputnick in 1957, the first satellite, I became fascinated with rockets and space travel. Yes…of course, I fabricated my own rocket. It was a unique home design made from an aluminum pipe with balsa wood tail fins and a crude fuel made with chemicals in my chemistry set. Back then the sets included the components needed to make gun powder—oops.

I realized in retrospect that my design was badly flawed— more like a dangerous firework than a rocket— but it did manage a few flights of maybe 50 feet up before the aluminum could no longer withstand the blast. Thank God my brother and I had the good sense to run like hell when the fuse was lit!

As time went on, I began to develop a pantheistic view of the world. My vision moved beyond practical, objective aspects of my surroundings to a more aesthetic appreciation.

Into middle age, my relationship with science and nature became more inspirational and spiritual, and less investigative. Rather than study and analyze nature, I wanted to experience it. Rather than simply being a refuge from daily life, the natural world became a celebration of the diversity of life—something sacred to be revered, loved, and protected.

Thus, I have come full circle; once again I have that innocent sense of wonder and I am amazed and thrilled by the incredible beauty and complexity of the natural world around me, just as I was as a young boy growing up.

You might like to see the following related articles:

Just So…

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Nature: A More Expansive Spirituality