Archive for October, 2018


The Power of Real Prayer

A friend and I spent an evening sipping tea and reading. For her, it’s fictional stories of medieval knights, kings, queens, and damsels in distress. For me, news, current events, non-fiction biographies and writing.

Without warning, her phone’s ‘Line’ app binged.

Her face quizzically contorted, “My friend from Asia says the Holy Spirit aske her to pray for me?

Why?” I straightforwardly queried.

Huh,” she uttered.

Why?” I repeated.

What?” she sputtered while starting to get mad. “The Spirit obviously needed …” she started and then falling silent. Pausing a moment, “The Spirit knew I was in trouble and …” before drifting off.

Perplexed, she couldn’t answer my question.

My thought was simple, since the Holy Spirit is part of the Holy Trinity and is all powerful, why did the Holy Spirit ask the friend to pray? If the Holy Spirit knew my friend was in trouble, and concerned enough, why didn’t the Holy Spirit simply intervene?

Prayer in the power of the flesh relies upon human ability and effort to carry the prayer forward. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, author of Living Water: Studies in John emphasized:

We all know what it is to feel deadness in prayer, difficulty in prayer, to be tongue-tied, with nothing to say, as it were, having to force ourselves to try. Well, to the extent that is true of us, we are not praying in the Spirit.

It’s hard to pray, when the ‘why’ is unknown. Like most, my friend presumed the request was commanded for a possible, near dire event. However, what if the prayer request was for something wonderful? What if the request was simply, “I love her and she needs to feel that. And she needs to feel you love her as well.

Like most communication with God, most of us are clueless. We don’t know because we fail to ask. As such, we only end up pushing the prayer forward. “Oh Lord. I pray for this person because the Holy Spirit said so.” Pushing a prayer forward generally ends up on Heaven’s cutting room floor.

Real prayer has a living quality characterized by warmth and freedom and a sense of exchange. Real prayer means being in God’s presence and speaking directly to God. In this type pf communication, the Spirit illuminates your mind, moves your heart, and grants a freedom of utterance and liberty of expression.

I close with the following story.

A little boy was kneeling beside his bed with his mother and grandmother and softly saying his prayers, “Dear God, please bless Mummy and Daddy and all the family and please give me a good night’s sleep.”

Suddenly he looked up and shouted, “And don’t forget to give me a bicycle for my birthday!!”

“There is no need to shout like that,” said his mother. “God isn’t deaf.”

“No,” said the little boy, “but Grandma is.”

Ah, the power of real prayer.

America’s lust for hate and weaponization intersected three time this week. First, on Wednesday, a white man with a history of violence shot and killed two African-Americans, seemingly at random, at a Kentucky grocery store. Second, after mail bombs were sent to Democratic criticized by the President. And third, on Saturday, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 people attending Jewish services.

In today’s world, ‘prayers and thoughts’ are likened to ‘checking a box.” All us recognize  something has to change. We even recognize our participation in injustice, and yet we intend to do nothing. So, just as in other acts of terror, American political leaders are quick to offer prayers, condolences and thoughts but deny any culpability. In essence, our political leaders are saying, “Screw’em. They’re dead.” When tragedy occurs, ‘thoughts and prayers. Check.

Op-ed writer AJ Willingham capture my thoughts.

“Semantic satiation is the phenomenon in which a word or phrase is repeated so often it loses its meaning. But it also becomes something ridiculous, a jumble of letters that feels alien on the tongue and reads like gibberish on paper.

“Thoughts and prayers” has reached that full semantic satiation.

In today’s world, politicians take line up as guests on MSNBC, CNN, FOX News and others and deny any responsibility for their actions. In their minds, ‘thoughts and prayers’ absolves them of guilt. In today’s world of Trump, the National Rifle Association and second amendment fear mongering, dissent is a deadly business. In fact, white supremacist Andrew Anglin told the HuffPost what he thought of Trump’s refusal to denounce them. “We interpret that as an endorsement.”

A friend asked, “Do you believe Trump is either, in whole or partly, responsible?

Yes.” I replied.

Forbes writer Todd Essig summarizes my thoughts.

President Trump has, intentionally or not, hit a trifecta of hate that foments terrorism, in this case domestic terrorism. At rallies and speeches his incendiary eloquence identifies opponents as enemies then motivates hatred and sanctions violence against them. Facts no longer matter. Nor do values shared with those he sees as horrible, terrible people. What matters is that it’s us versus them. And we can’t let them win. Never apologize, never back down.

However, my friend missed the larger question.

Are we, like Trump, either partly or in whole, responsible?

Yes,” I would have replied. “America is just as liable.”

America’s inaction gives permission of hatred. One percent of Americans, was responsible for about a fifth of hate crimes. Other assaults included an elderly man at a Jewish retirement home, a 12-year-old boy on his way home from Friday prayers, a woman in a taxi, a person on a subway train and a man who was attacked and maced while waiting at a red light and a man pulling down a statue and calling members of a Vietnamese Buddhist Meditation Center “Devil Worshippers.

Buddha taught hatred is a form of suffering. He said holding hatred in the mind and heart is like tightly clutching a hot coal. Guess who suffers? As such, those responsible for controlling a white-nationalist President (that being ‘we‘) have done nothing. America’s done nothing. No one does anything except offering thoughts and prayers.

I envision many getting to heaven and Christ asking, “Hey. What’s that in your hand?”

In the wake of Trump’s election, I have found myself pondering about non­violence, its contributions, limits, and place in my Buddhist ethics and life. Having watched Trump since the 2016 presidential campaign, I wondered when the logical migration from talking of violence to violence would occur. October 24th was the day political violence breached the bounds of custom and political dignity oozed toward a darker, more sinister spectacle. If Clausewitz were alive, he might rephrase one of his most notable aphorisms to “Terrorism of my enemies is the continuation of politics by other means.” Of course, one could also state, “Trump is the continuation of politics by other means.”

As you may know, explosives were mailed/delivered to homes of Democratic fundraiser George Soros, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, CNN’s New York studios, offices of Debbie Wassermann Schultz’s and Maxine Waters. As a result, some expressed fears that Democratic leaders were being attack in advance of America’s 2018 mid-term elections. New York police commissioner James O’Neill stated the recipients may have been selected because of their opposition to Trump.

Of course, terrorism is not unique to America. Terror attacks in France, London, Middle East, September 11th and other countries contribute to our questioning God, and more specifically, “Why?

An article I read in UK’s Telegraph newspaper, the Archbishop of Canterbury admitted the terror attacks in Paris made him “doubt” the presence of God.

Justin Welby was left asking why the attacks happened, and where God was in the French victims’ time of need. He said he reacted with “profound sadness” at the events, particularly because he and his wife had lived in Paris.

Asked if these attacks had caused him to doubt where God is, he said: “Oh gosh, yes,” and admitted it put a “chink in his armor.”

Many would claim America was lucky. However, the resultant questions that often spring forward in my mind are similar to all ethical people. My questions are time-tested but not original, as they were noted by the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus.

  • Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? If so, then He seems not so omnipotent; or
  • Is He able, but not willing? As such, then He appears malevolent; or
  • Is He both able and willing? Whereas then whence cometh evil; or lastly
  • Is He neither able nor willing? Propose yes, then why call Him God?

Neither Epicurus nor I have received any answers.

Several Thoughts

First. What has Trump learned that most political adversaries have not? To me it’s fairly simple can be found in sacred scrolls that comprised the “Art of War.” It’s basically this, whatever you are trying to achieve, realize that you will have to pay for it in the form of time, effort, pain, and sacrifices. Anything worth having comes at a cost. The bigger the goal, the greater sacrifice is necessary.

In other words, for Trump, the end justified the means. Set your goals high, one has to be prepared to pay the price. Trump has willing gone where no American politician has been unwilling to go.

Second. It’s strange to say, but I believe God is somewhere in all the shit. My justification you ask? Not one bomb exploded. No one died. In the days ahead, survivor thoughts may scatter, from those who continue to believe in a Complete Power to those who will never trust a Complete Power again; but as a Buddhist, it is my general opinion that something of a higher cause worked today, even if the emotional toll was great. The “Faith” of coworkers, politicians and staff, firefighters, bomb experts, police, FBI and terrorism units’ breached unwritten boundaries and became part of a larger family — despite their differences. And it is within this hope that people like Trump will always lose.

Conclusion

In the United States, people get leaders they choose. And those leaders reflect the values of the constituents who elect them. As such, the reason President Trump is President lies not because of a fault in our stars, but in ourselves.

Want to change it? Yes?

Then Vote.

Seven YearsCNN journalist Bill Weir has been traveling with the migrant caravan traveling from Mexico’s’ southern border to the U.S./Mexico border. While traveling some social media idiots aren’t sharing messages of hope or prayers, they’re actually laughing at the fact that Hurricane Willa is headed straight for the migrant caravan. Some making these racist comments call themselves Christians. This post is reflective of many.

@sxdoc: “Willa is from the word William which means Valiant Protector..God has sent Willa into the path of the caravan as his protector of the USA. What are the odds that at the time of a invasion a hurricane would form..the weather service would be into the W’s, and Willa would be it!”

As Weir posted on Twitter:

Scooping jaw off of floor after reading the replies to this tweet. It seems a whole bunch of your American neighbors are praying for a hurricane to kill thousands of families fleeing poverty, corruption and violence.

Make The Old Testament Great Again, I guess. https://t.co/ZNwcb3kDB7

Got to be God. Of course. No other way to explain it. Right? Right.

Idiots like blogger Deplorable Suzi Super Elite, whose ancestors put their trust in (Psalm 22:4), have determined God is using Hurricane Willa to send a message. As such, I have have a few questions.

  • On September 20th London news outlets reported a tourist died after the caravan she was in was blown off a cliff from Storm Ali. What message did God send this woman?
  • October 23rd, firefighters reported a mother and child were among five killed in ‘biblical’ storm Florence while looters began to raid abandoned homes and stores. Was God’s message to the mother and child or the firefighters?
  • Continuing with ‘biblical’ theme of Hurricane Florence, what message was God giving a 61-year-old South Carolina woman when the vehicle she was driving struck a tree” Was it “Hey! You hit a tree?”
  • And lest we forget when Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico. Island officials raised the death toll from 64 to 2,975. Obviously a message from God? Yes? No?

The Mexican government said authorities had given “priority attention” to elders, children and women — some of whom were pregnant. Authorities stated there were 2,200 migrants remaining on the bridge connecting Guatemala and Mexico. Yet, for some Christians like Deplorable Suzi Super Elite, our form of assistance is to pray Hurricane Willa destroys asylum seekers. WTH?

We often talk as if there is some formal plan – as if God was the great arbiter, when in reality, we use any natural disaster, even Hurricanes, to hide our prejudices. As Rabbi Brad Hirschfield stated one year after September 11th:

You want plan? Then tell me about plan. But if you’re going to tell me about how the plan saved you, you’d better also be able to explain how the plan killed them. And the test of that has nothing to do with saying it in your synagogue or your church. The test of that has to do with going and saying it to the person who just buried someone and look in their eyes and tell them, “God’s plan was to blow your loved one apart.” Look at them and tell them that God’s plan was that their children should go to bed every night for the rest of their lives without a parent. If you can say that, well, at least you’re honest. I don’t worship the same God. But that at least has integrity.

Such hateful prayers against poor immigrants have nothing to do with Christ, looks nothing like Christ, and is not at all what Christ would have taught or wanted followers to do. I am embarrassed for you. And I am embarrassed for Christ.

I close with a quote from Heinrich Harrer’s character in Seven Years in Tibet, (with slight modifications):

A man who betrays Christ in this fashion shouldn’t preach about love. I wish shame be your torture and that torture be your life. May both be long. 

A friend called from Chicago to vent.

“I have been working on a PowerPoint presentation for executive management for two weeks. The Vice President for the company sits ten (10) feet from me, but will not talk to me because I am just a Senior Manager. Instead, the Vice President will only accept email from his Director, who works at the regional office in San Francisco, California.

After reviewing the presentation, the Vice President sends the slide deck to his Director in San Francisco. The Director in San Francisco reviews it. However, since he is a Director and feels the work is beneath him, he refuses to change anything and forwards the slide deck to me.

I review the slide deck. Only three words require changing.

I make the changes and send the slide deck back to the Director in San Francisco. The Director reviews and forwards the slide deck back to the Vice President in Chicago.

After an hour, the Vice President decides he wants to change another slide and inserts a “comment” into the slide on page six (6) and returns the slide deck back to the Director in San Francisco. The Director reviews his request, makes no changes and returns the slide deck to me in Chicago.

I review the requested changes. Only two additional two words.

I then return the slide deck to the Director in San Francisco, who in turn, returns the slide deck to the Vice President in Chicago.

Now, wouldn’t this have been easier if the Vice President just came out of the office, walked ten (10) feet to my desk and requested the change?”

“Pretty funny,” I stated.

Well, I hate it,” he replied. “I would rather sit and do nothing.”

Really?

Really!” he said.

I concluded with the following parable.

A crow sat on a tree and did nothing all day.

A rabbit noticed this and asked the crow, “Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?”

The crow answered: “Sure, why not?”

So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, and rested.

Shortly after beginning, a fox jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story: To be sitting and doing nothing, better sit very high up.  In other words, rank has privileges.

The New York Times, Commonwealth Fund and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health surveyed those who use the health care system the most. According to their report, while the whole point of health insurance was to protect one from financial ruin in case of catastrophic, costly health problems, the results show it often fails in that basic function. In essence, even those with healthcare insurance face financial ruin.

One key problem, not many really know what their insurance covers. In the case of my parents, one would have thought I requested top secret clearance to national secrets. Thus, I had to threaten to sue the insurance company to receive a complete copy of their medical plan. It was stunning to see and digest the process for used to determine what services were covered and what services were not covered.

One small area I delved into involved dementia and Alzheimer’s. As previously written, the world hasn’t prepared for Alzheimer’s or dementia care. But even today, a major factor affecting the quality of such care is being able to consistently deliver it. In custodial care, Nursing Assistants are relatively disadvantaged economically, have low levels of educational attainment, serve under physically and emotionally demanding work, and are among the lowest paid. Thus, society cleans their conscious by casting loved ones into the hands of these people and later wonder aloud of the things that went wrong.

For those like my father, dementia is an increasing cause of suffering. Insurers however, both private or government, fail to address the tidal wave of custodial long-term care required by an aging population. As a result, as the population of elderly grows,  dementia will replace cancer as the most feared illness. Dementia’s impact not only affects the person with the disease, but family members, friends and those who care for them at home are forced to provide care options to which they are neither prepared nor can financially afford.

Those battling the ethical dilemma generally fall into two groups. Proponents profess that Jesus believed Christians should support a Christian president. Therefore, since the president believes in a public health option, we should therefore assist our fellow man. On the other hand, opponents claim the problem we face is that Jesus never mentioned universal healthcare. There’s neither any Biblical mandate to provide healthcare, nor is there any mandate to implement.

There is a third viewpoint – the one that blames. In the blame-game, current congressional leaders espouse exclusivity. It’s the wanton desire to blame and punish the poor for all societal ills. It is similar to Nazi Germany blaming Jews. Most recently, Senator Mitch McConnell blamed poor people for budget problems his party created. Need another example? Look no further than the September 2011 Republican presidential debate.

Moderator Wolf Blitzer pushed candidate Ron Paul about a hypothetical man without insurance who goes into a coma. “That’s what’s freedom is all about,” replied Paul. “Are you saying society should just let him die?” asked Blitzer. To which point several members of the Tea Party-heavy audience interrupted with “YEAH!”

In almost every country, the population aged 60 years and over is growing faster than any other age group, resulting in an increase in older people’s care needs. According to WHO, the population aged 60 and over is expected to increase from today’s 600 million to an estimated 2 billion by 2050.

As a Buddhist working in the medical field, good organizational structures, based on a well-coordinated team with good co-workers and a fair and understanding manager, will be critical for maintaining good care. What current congressional leaders miss is that when Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare is cut, it will be difficult to care for the old if ethical foundations for caring is absent.

Citing my personal ethics, we are called, not only as society, but as a humanity, to treat people with loving kindness. This moral compass means moving from simply understanding medical knowledge to acting in spirit-filled love. The following incident as told by a clinician highlights such purpose.

An elderly woman near 90 was acutely admitted. She did not feel well at all, wanted to have her blood pressure checked and said she felt as though shadows were falling over her. We sat and talked for quite some time and I took my time with her. She said that I was the first person she had met that looked into her eyes.

Unless you’re part of the 4%, any proposed healthcare cuts will offer little but suffering. Most will be presented with hard choices, pay a bill, pay for healthcare or pay for a prescription. At the end of the day, society has to do something better than simply saying, “Die.”

Your vote is important, not only for today and tomorrow, but for 2050 as well.

Why We Vote

Time magazine reported today that after instituting a $1.5 trillion tax cut and signing off on a $675 billion budget for the Department of Defense, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the only way to lower the record-high federal deficit would be to cut entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Thus, as many have mentioned, the only people who’ll pay for the rich tax cuts are the poor.

This reminds me of my post from yesterday, Today We Campaign, November 6 We Vote.  Holding true to form, The Atlantic reported last year that Republicans are hoping to use the deficits created by their own tax cuts to slash the social safety net—but they may end up setting the stage for tax hikes instead. So what would happen? Here’s a few thoughts:

  • Massive homelessness — millions of the working poor use their paycheck to cover rent, relying on welfare for food. But hunger wins over homes. Within a few months, landlords would go broke across the country.
  • Housing prices collapse — with a large percentage of houses and apartments are rented to the working poor comes mass evictions landlords will be unable to cover mortgages. Foreclosures soar and the frail housing market collapses again.
  • Far Less Money — With far less tax money going to poor people. Let’s assume the government uses the cash to pay down debt instead of offering tax rebates. This drops interest rates and frees up capital for business loans. That would be stimulative, but with far fewer consumers, the economy is sliding into massive recession.  Business will contract, not expand.

The Republican Methodology – The Ant and Grasshopper Parable

The ants worked hard all summer collecting food and preparing for winter. The grasshoppers ruled all who worked. When winter came, the grasshoppers felt they didn’t have enough. No worries. They elected themselves a hard line leader and took away 40 percent of all ant benefits and gave it to the grasshoppers.

Being naive, the following year, the ants decided that the new government would certainly care for them in the same manner as the grasshoppers. However, as winter returned, there were no more benefits and the ants starved.

That’s why this election is important.

 

While everyone focused upon the midterm elections, the Supreme Court nomination, Elizabeth’s Warren DNA test, and Trump’s 60 Minutes interview, the federal budget deficit swelled past $779 billion for fiscal year 2018. The Treasury Department said the variation was driven by a sharp decline in corporate tax revenues from resulting GOP tax cuts. As a result, the deficit is on pace to top $1 trillion a year before the next presidential election.

So why is this important? Well, in a statement from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Going forward, the president’s economic policies that have stimulated strong economic growth, combined with proposals to cut wasteful spending, will lead America toward a sustainable financial path.”

And what about that ‘wasteful spending?’ Well, that comes from a little discussed Republican proposal filed this past June that proposes the budget would be balanced in nine years — but only if America makes large cuts to entitlement programs, including Medicare and healthcare.

One aspect of healthcare

Thus far, under the Trump administration, Republicans have chipped away enough medical services that 4 million people have lost their health care. Additionally, The Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center estimates that tossing out the remaining provisions of the ACA would result in 17 million people losing commercial insurance and another 15 million losing Medicaid and children’s health care under the CHIP program.

And just as the people are losing coverage, the World Health Organization estimates dementia approximately 50 million people have dementia, with nearly 10 million new cases every year. By 2050, 132 million worldwide. Currently, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, America there will be about 14 million.

Senate Republicans joined their House colleagues in proposing steep cuts to Medicaid, part of the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Conservatives hope to roll back what they see as an expanding and costly entitlement. But little has been said about what would happen to older Americans in nursing homes if the cuts took effect.

Moral of Voting Responsibly

As a society, we’re not going to escape dementia or Alzheimer’s. So, what are we going to do? Care for people or not? I close with a parable retold in many ways.

A senator’s soul arrived in heaven and was met by St. Peter at the entrance. “Welcome to heaven,” said St. Peter. “Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we’re not sure what to do.”

“No problem, just let me in,” said the senator.

“Well I’d like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we’ll do is have you spend one day in hell and one day in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity,”

“Really? I’ve already made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,” said the senator.

“I’m sorry, but we have rules,” St. Peter insisted. “Hell is first.”

When the door to Hell opened, the senator found himself in the middle of a beautiful green golf course. In the distance was a clubhouse and standing in front of it were all his friends and politicians who had worked with him. Everyone was very happy and in formal attire. Everyone rushed to greet him, shook his hand, and reminisced about the good ol’days they had shared together, often at the expense of the people they were supposed to serve. Lucifer, the devil himself, seemed really incredible and likeable.

When the senator returned, St. Peter awaited him. “Now it’s time to visit Heaven.”

In the susequent twenty-four hours, the senator joined a group of contented souls, praising God, singing hymns, and found fellowship of the deepest and purest kind. The experience was truly meaningful. And quickly, time had come to an end.

“Well, now, you’ve spent a day in Hell and another in Heaven. Choose your eternity,” instructed St. Peter.

The senator reflected, “You know, I would have never believed that I would have said this. While Heaven was nice, I am better off in Hell.”

St. Peter escorted him to Hell. When the doors opened, he found himself in the middle of a barren land with a dark, ominous and foreboding sky. The heat was exceedingly oppressive. He saw all his friends dressed in rags, some naked and unclean, many pulling around chains of life’s vices.

“I don’t…I don’t…I don’t understand,” stammered the senator. “Only yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a clubhouse, and we ate lobster caviar, and drank champagne. It was tremendous. We were living the high life. Now there’s just this wasteland, wasted lives, and miserable associations. What happened!?”

The devil looked at him, smiled, and said, “Yesterday we were campaigning. Today you voted.”

In Conclusion

A common saying goes, “God does not send people to hell. They choose to go there themselves.” On November 6th, what are we choosing for 2050?

This story has been on the Internet for quite some time. But I found it yesterday. According to what I understand, the author is unknown, but remains greatly appreciated! A video of the story can be found by clicking the picture.


I sat with my friend in a well-known coffee shop in a neighboring town of Venice, Italy, the city of lights and water.

As we enjoyed our coffee, a man entered and sat at an empty table beside us. He called the waiter and placed his order saying, “Two cups of coffee, one of them there on the wall.”

We heard this order with rather interest and observed that he was served with one cup of coffee but he paid for two.

When he left, the waiter put a piece of paper on the wall saying “A Cup of Coffee”.

While we were still there, two other men entered and ordered three cups of coffee, two on the table and one on the wall. They had two cups of coffee but paid for three and left. This time also, the waiter did the same; he put a piece of paper on the wall saying, “A Cup of Coffee”.

It was something unique and perplexing for us. We finished our coffee, paid the bill and left.

After a few days, we had a chance to go to this coffee shop again. While we were enjoying our coffee, a man poorly dressed entered. As he seated himself, he looked at the wall and said, “One cup of coffee from the wall.”

The waiter served coffee to this man with the customary respect and dignity. The man had his coffee and left without paying. We were amazed to watch all this, as the waiter took off a piece of paper from the wall and threw it in the trash bin. Now it was no surprise for us – the matter was very clear. The great respect for the needy shown by the inhabitants of this town made our eyes well up in tears.

Ponder upon the need of what this man wanted. He enters the coffee shop without having to lower his self-esteem… he has no need to ask for a free cup of coffee… without asking or knowing about the one who is giving this cup of coffee to him … he only looked at the wall, placed an order for himself, enjoyed his coffee and left.

A truly beautiful thought. Probably the most beautiful wall you may ever see anywhere!

Moral

In our fast lives we often miss to see the needs of those around us. Needs are not always financial. Those could be emotional as well. Or certain needs can just be gratified with simple “hello” and “genuine smile” to a stranger. We never know what value such a simple ‘hello’ will hold for many people. Of all the resources available in this world, every species has its claim to. Let’s see ourselves as custodians – custodians of love.

Chasing Reflections

While having dinner with a friend, I told him my time was closing and inquired if there was any last thing he wanted to do or place he wished to go while I was still here.

In tears, he asked, “You can’t abandon me.”

Sorry,” I sympathetically replied.

Shrugging it off, he chuckled. “Oh please. You said yourself that no one knows how long someone has to live. You said you were going to die over a year ago. And here you are.”

Awkward pause.

What will I do without you? You’re my only friend,” he whispered.

Make new friends.”

I can’t.”

Why not?

 “I don’t fit in here.”

Having worked here since college, you’re now fairly wealthy. You can ‘cash out,’ return to your native homeland and live in relative ease.”

I can’t.”

Why?

I won’t fit in.”

So, let me understand,” I said. “You’ve worked here all this time and have friends neither here nor at home?

Revealing a painful truth, “Yes.”

What you think you want out of life and how we spend our days in it, may not be nearly as important as the vital layers accumulating within you, hidden in plain sight.

Several years ago, writer David Allen wrote the following:

Love for friends and family, the decency we exchange with those around us, the value of not doing “great things,” but small things in a great way. Those are life’s moments inscribed in our heart.

Further borrowing from Allen, What the conversation between my friend and I remind us to do is that money is not the ultimate goal in life and each of us must take our heart out and read it every so often.

I conclude with the following.

As a laborer walked home along a river, he saw a shimmering in the river.When he looked, he saw a diamond necklace. But the river was completely polluted, filthy and smelly. Still, he decided to try and catch it so he could gain it’s reward. He put his hand in the filthy, dirty river and grabbed at the necklace, but somehow missed it. The second time, he walked into the river and put his whole arm in to catch the necklace. And again, he missed the necklace. Feeling depressed, he did a most disgusting thing and plunged completely into the river. Yet, he failed again.

Just then, a Buddhist monk came upon him.

“What are you doing?” queried the monk.

The man didn’t want to share the secret, so he refused to say.

The monk asked again, “What are you doing?”

The man mustered some courage and told the monk about the necklace and his attempts to catch it.

Taking compassion at the pitiful man, the Monk replied, “Perhaps you should try looking upward, toward the branches of the tree, instead of in the river.”

The man looked up, and true enough, the necklace was dangling on the branch of a tree. All this time, he had only been trying to capture a mere reflection.

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