Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Belief is a powerful thing. It is often misunderstood and as a word it is often misused. Belief shapes the way we see the world and the way we see ourselves and others. Jesus says repeatedly; "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." We are always being told to "believe in ourselves". We hear it so often, it loses its meaning.
When I was in college, I took a small business management class. We were all art students at a prestigious art school and a common question was; "when will my work be worth a lot of money?" and the answer was always, "When you believe you are worth it." The students wanted a pragmatic answer; "Oh you have to pay your dues learning the ropes for five years, then you can start your own business and in a couple of years, you will be in the top 5%" or something like that. Everyone's journey is different and there is no pat answer to such a question. That's what I thought this non answer was about. But the answer was pragmatic. Belief rules every decision we make.
In spiritual matters, belief seems to have a slightly different meaning that is tied to faith and implies doubt. Whereas knowledge is the elimination of doubt. I would differentiate the two like this: "I believe in God, but I know the sky is blue." I know the sky is blue because I can see it. I have proof. I have no experiential knowledge of God. A Sufi teacher once told me that she would not give her soul to something she wasn't sure of; something she only had read of in a book or been told of by others. Her soul was too important to her. She had to have experiential knowledge of God if she was going to give her soul over to such a being. She argued that this was not too much to ask, and that in fact it would be foolish to do otherwise. This has always stuck with me. She said she had found it in the Sufi path. Indeed this is a recurring theme among seekers and the guides we meet along the path.
I did not follow that teacher or dedicate my life to her school. I did follow her advise though.
She said: "The best way to get directions to someone's house is to ask the owner. If, however, you don't know how to contact the owner, the next best thing to do is get directions from someone who has been there."
"If you don't know how to get to God's house, find someone who has been there who can show you the way."
Then she said this:
"If you don't know someone who has been to God's house, pray for God to send someone to show you the way, and if your prayer is sincere, God will send you a guide."
I went home and prayed for a guide. Soon after I met someone who after much cajoling would teach me to meditate. I learned a great deal from this teacher. I learned much more than just meditating. Being on the Path is a way of life. It is the ultimate endeavor in life, and should permeate every aspect of every action and thought. Of course we are human and will falter. We must live our lives, pay our bills meet our obligations, and we must live a life that will last a lifetime. If we dedicate ourselves to God and don't do anything else, and it doesn't pay off in a short time, we may quit. But if we have the long term in mind, we can carry on with our lives, but with a new focus, through this new prism of getting home to God's house.
I have moved on from life with that teacher. She told me from the outset that she too was on the Path, but had not been to God's house. She showed me what she could and we have moved on with our lives.

Perhaps my prayer wasn't earnest enough. Perhaps I held a fear that an enlightened master would make me give up more than I was ready to give up. Whatever the case, God sent me exactly what I needed at the time. Just as I believed He would

Thursday, May 10, 2012

None of Your Business!

If you hang around the circles I hang around, sooner or later you are going to hear the phrase, "Your life is none of your business." There are many variations, like; "What happens to you is none of your business," "What other people think of you is none of your business," "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." That last one may not quite fit, but you get the idea. This is one of the annoying sayings that are deliberately obtuse. What is that supposed to mean? I finally gained some insight.
It's really a variation on my last post. I didn't realize that until just now. I guess I'll just have to scrap this post and write about something else. Except this is kind of the point. If this is the post I'm writing, who am I to question its validity? The author? Well, no actually I'm not. If I'm getting this lesson over and over, then that's the lesson I'm supposed to be getting. My friend Nate explained it to me; "If I'm doing my best and I'm not doing anything wrong and shit is still happening to me, then that shit is supposed to be happening to me."
To me this means that if I'm not doing my best or I'm am doing something wrong, and shit is happening to me that I don't like, I should clean up my act. That's all I can do: Do the best I can and not do anything I'm not supposed to be doing. This will alleviate most of the problems I experience. If there is still shit happening to me after I have ceased to misbehave, then there are other lessons to learn.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Song of Awakening

There is long and interesting history of how God=sound. Where to start? How about the beginning?
 "1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." The Gospel according to John, King James Version.
I love the old English phrasing of the King James Version. This is easily my favorite Bible passage. Notice that God is also "Light" Most people will tell you that this is a metaphor. This is funny to me because many of these same people will tell you that the story of Adam & Eve is not a metaphor. Well the story of Adam & Eve is a metaphor (this is a story for another time as it could be its own blog post), But the idea that God is sound and Light is not a metaphor. God is more than sound and light, don't get me wrong, but the idea that the existence of all things came into being through God as sound is accurate. 
In Sanskrit, the ancient Indian sacred language, this sound is "Om" and is written in what appears to Westerners to be a 3 with a tail, and an umlaut over it. In my description of of my hand carved lino print of this sacred word, I combine these two ideas and say; "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was Om" This ancient spiritual symbol is a sound and it is the Creator.
Sometimes the symbol is translated; "Aum" The thinking is that the vowel sound where the word originates itself originates at the back of the throat and the ending "m" sound ends at the mouth, thus traveling the expanse of the physical body creating it. This explanation is a metaphor for the beginning and end of all creation. Compare this to Jesus' saying; "I am the Alpha and the Omega". Here the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet signify the beginning and the end (which is the line that follows in the Bible) but also anything that can be spoken as Jesus is saying he is not just the beginning and the end but everything in between.
But you say to me, "Rod, What about science?" First of all don't interrupt, it's rude. Second of all, good question.
In the 1950's the phone company, at that time concerned with quality service, wanted to get to the bottom of a buzz that was coming through on all their lines. They hired and deployed two scientists; Peebles and Dick to discover and fix the problem. What they found was that this sound was everywhere. It permeates everything. It is the background radiation leftover from the Big Bang. (you know, the sound and light that created everything that exists.) It existed at exactly the wavelength that the scientist who postulated the Big Bang theory predicted it would.
There are many mantras (sacred words or phrases to repeated many times) and prayers (like the rosary) that believers know will bring them closer to God. The Sufis have a saying, "Nothing exists save God" pronounced, "La Illaha Illa Allah" Which is more of a mantra than a prayer, but they don't use the Sanskrit word. 
In his book "Autobiography of a Yogi" Paramahansa Yogananda states that sacred Indian music can bring us closer to enlightenment, as can the music of Bach. Astronomers and alchemists refer to the "Music of the Spheres"
It is all around you.