It Strikes a Chord

April 19, 2019

This is Good Friday, part of Easter weekend. Christians celebrate this time because without the death and resurrection of Jesus, his teachings would be similar to the Stoics (his contemporaries in Rome).

But–this leads to problems of understanding. We have a concept of Trinity, something not explained in the Bible. Jesus gave us the idea of God as Father. He talked about God’s Spirit dwelling in people. The former was new. The latter is as old as the worship of the Creator God. But then, what to make of Jesus himself.

As an Enneagram Five, I try to understand things intellectually. But with a strong Four influence, I’m moved emotionally by music.

A singer/songwriter (from the Christian group Jars of Clay who is also a Five with a strong Four wing) said understanding the three can best be done aurally as a triad. Don’t try intellectually. Just listen for it.

It’s like a music chord. In the key of C major, for example, you play the notes C-E-G simultaneously. Each of the notes exist individually. But they resonate together.

When my grandson’s middle school jazz band hit their first chord to open the program, it was like, “Wow, this is a fantastic sound.” The writer of the piece, the conductor who brought the band together, and the musicians all coming together each playing a part of that chord. It was powerful.

That is a far superior metaphor than any intellectual logic you could try to reason through.

Dignity and Respect

April 18, 2019

She is a trim, properly attired sports mom enthroned in her canvas chair watching her child’s event.

Then she opens her mouth. All manner of vulgar and vile epithets spew forth directed at the person officiating the game.

He holds a position of importance within the community. Yet, his actions and attitudes towards his subordinates are well known for their meanness. “You should respect me because of my position,” he repeats.

The lack of dignity with which these people act speaks louder than any words. Who will respect them? No one!

We are each in control of our actions and attitudes which reflects the dignity with which we live.

Respect is bestowed upon us (or not) depending upon that dignity.

Acting and speaking with dignity can be a spiritual practice–meaning something we work at.

We determine our dignity; respect is earned.

We are reminded to not confuse the two.

It Is A Matter of Lifestyle

April 17, 2019

Have you ever seen a thin person drinking a diet soda?

Want to reduce risk of hypertension or Type 2 Diabetes by losing weight? Diet soda won’t cut it. Have a medical check up to assure it isn’t a medical problem. Then change lifestyle.

Stock the refrigerator with vegetables and the pantry with real foods. Substitute unsweetened iced tea for soda at the sandwich shop. Start walking every day.

It’s not a diet. It’s not a miracle pill. It’s a matter of a change of lifestyle.

Have you ever met a religious person (not in the Catholic sense) who quotes rules yet is just as obnoxious as before conversion?

It’s not a list of dos and don’ts. It’s a lifestyle.

Daily practices of mediation, prayer, service–and a little fun.

Cool thing is…you can start today with both of these. Just one day at a time and the next thing you know, you’ve created a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Quick To Voice Opinion, Often Wrong

April 16, 2019

“Christianity Under Attack!” Thus screamed a Tweet yesterday.

Like most of the Western world and anyone who has visited Paris, I watched pictures stream across my screen of the devastating fire in the Notre Dame with deep feelings of shock and sadness.

I read where the fire chief of Paris was still determining the cause. A good chance a spark from renovation construction work ignited the ancient wooden beams. But, who knows?

So where did that Tweet originate? And others similar–many of which dredged up memories of 9/11?

But I pondered, why rush so quickly to judgement when we know nothing?

A human failing, that is. (To channel my inner Yoda.)

I’m sure we all have been guilty at some point. We look at a person and judge them only to discover when we actually meet them that they are entirely different.

Maybe it’s just my personality type versus other personality types? Or maybe we of all personality types need to practice the habit of pausing, breathing, considering before spreading hype on our social media platform of choice.

And I see by the morning news that 1) officials are still searching for a cause and 2) $300 million has already been pledged to restore the building and 3) much artwork and relics were saved.

Still, I’m left with shock and sadness at the loss. As, I am sure, are many millions.

Concern Yourself With Changing Yourself

April 15, 2019

Sitting in meditation the thought visited me. A remembrance, really. A time when some well meaning people promoted the idea of a Meditation Day wherein every person in the world who meditates would meditate at exactly the same time. The power of all these “spiritual vibrations” would change the world.

Maybe I even participated.

Problem is that you don’t meditate to save the world. You meditate to change you.

The next thought that visited me was how often we concern ourselves with changing others. By force, if we must.

Take a scan of world news. Examples of people of one religion (or an anti-religion which is sort of a religion) seeking to control, change, or even eradicate those of another.

Ah, the lust for power and control. Ego and pride. It’s everywhere.

When the whole point is changing ourselves. And by changing ourselves, we show others a path to God.

I once shared a quote from the German poet Thomas Mann to engineers. They took it literally, of course. But this is a metaphor for our spiritual lives and attitudes:

If everyone swept in front of their own door, then the whole world would be clean.

Meditate on that.

Giving and Receiving

April 12, 2019

Some people just cannot give.

Who knows why? Perhaps they thought they were poor when they grew up and now they have something. Or maybe some other deep need.

But they want to keep what they have.

Some people receive from others with the attitude of entitlement.

Who knows why? Perhaps they were given so much as a child that they just expect it. Or perhaps they grew up envious of what other people had and now think that they are owed.

It doesn’t matter. It’s all about attitude. And attitudes can be changed with a discipline of mindfulness mediation.

Blessed are those who can give without remembering and receive without forgetting.

Finding Fear

April 11, 2019

There exist people who see their job in life to seek out things and people to fear. Not content to just seek people groups to fear, they must spread the fear as far as possible.

Fear breeds hatred.

We must cultivate the awareness to discern which are the true things to fear and which are merely in the minds and guts of those spreading hate and fear.

Reflective experience and education help us individually toward discernment. We can see when someone has been bamboozled and tune them out.

This need for discernment is ancient in humans. That’s why the fable of Chicken Little preaching “the sky is falling” was created. It spoke to the need to seek out the wise.

We can find fear everywhere. And along with that, we can find groups of people to hate. This feeling and those actions are everywhere in the world today.

Our spiritual practice of this age is intentionally developing awareness and discernment. Start with a breath.

Over-Informed Yet Under-Reflective

April 10, 2019

How often do you update your news source. In the course of my lifetime, it has gone from daily newspaper and nightly TV news to every five minutes.

And we can go from getting emotionally upset twice a day to continuously every waking minute.

Only a century ago, it was much less. You might get one news update. And you might think about it and sit and discuss with family and friends.

Before that, humans had time to sit in the evenings and contemplate the stars. And think.

We have become the most over-informed and under-reflective society in the entire history of humans.

It is time to mindfully slow our news intake. Instead of continually being in reaction mode, it’s time we devoted some time to reflecting and meditating. Maybe we might even quit being so manipulated by others trying purposely to stir things up.

At least become aware of what others–politicians and businesses–are doing trying to capture our attention and money.

Travel For Spiritual Development

April 9, 2019

Travel broadens your outlook in ways impossible to accomplish otherwise. I remain so sad for people who never travel outside of their self-appointed boundaries.

Last week we traveled the Columbia River from its mouth inland to the Snake River and ended in Lewiston, Idaho. I crossed two states off my list of “never-visited”–Oregon and Idaho. Now I only have four left. Business will probably never take me to Alabama (although I almost went to a conference there), Arkansas, and Oklahoma. I guess I’ll just have to be intentional about a long road trip someday. Then there’s Vermont.

Travel broadens, but only if you go for experiences, and meet people, and open your mind. It is the reflecting on the experiences that deepen you spiritually.

The Lewis & Clark expedition of discovery was one theme. I thought I already knew a lot, but there is always more to learn in life. The other theme was salmon–a fish I really don’t care to eat.

You can’t escape the trip without an understanding of the complex interplay of natural resources and the cultures. I knew nothing of the Nez Perce nation until this trip.

From their story I was again reminded of the imperfections of our story and the wrongs we perpetrated either from fear or hubris (sometimes opposite sides of the same coin).

It was a week of experiences to meditate upon for some time to come.

Fix The Process

April 5, 2019

When I worked in an engineering department in the 70s, I ran across this all too true description of a project

When you get to phases 4 and 5, stop.

Fix the process, not the person.

Some document is not getting out on time. Look at the entire process, not the person on the end doing the copying.

The project is running late; check the process.

Production is up to quota; better evaluate the process from start to finish.

Usually the individual is at the mercy of the process.

And when you’re building an organization or committee or project–lay out a clear process plan before jumping in.