Saturday, April 5, 2014

Listening to the silence

A Meditation by Anthony de Mello, SJ

"Every word, every image 
used for God is a distortion
more than a description."

"Then how does one speak of God?"

"Through Silence."

"Why, then, do you speak in words?"

At that, the Master
laughed uproariously.
He said, "When I speak, you
mustn't listen to the words, my dear.
Listen to the Silence." 


I love the wisdom of Anthony deMello's quote. Yes, the silence of a spiritual master's or a dear friend's words contains the message of love and compassion, which transcends the words themselves. Indeed, words are like a finger pointing to the moon, and the moon - love and compassion (which embodies God) - is a beauty to behold in silent awe and rapture.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Seek and save the lost, the excluded and the forsaken

"Christianity at its very most fundamental is not a project of building an official Establishment that would properly represent itself, but to seek out those excluded and thus forsaken, by those Establishment that already are". 
Drew Sumrall. 
Yes, come to think of it, when Jesus said the Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost, he actually was referring to seeking out those who are oppressed and marginalised by the societal system. Indeed, the lost sheep and the lost coin would represent those who are excluded and forsaken by the establishment, which Drew mentioned. 

Hence, in the parable of the lost sheep, we see the good shepherd leaving behind the 99 sheep which could be a picture of the empire that is based on rivalry, status and self-righteousness, to seek out the lost sheep which could be a picture of the ones who have been excluded by the empire, and the shepherd would rejoice in rescuing and restoring the lost sheep to its proper place in his kingdom of love and grace and acceptance.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Love liberates, restores and builds us up

“Love is what God is, love is why Jesus came, and love is why he continues to come, year after year to person after person.

May you experience this vast, expansive, infinite, indestructible love that has been yours all along. May you discover that this love is as wide as the sky and as small as the cracks in your heart no one else knows about. And may you know, deep in your bones, that love wins.” 

- Rob Bell

Yes, love wins because love is vast, expansive, infinite and indestructible and love resides in us. It may be said that love is embodied in God or Jesus, our highest self, who taught by example the essence of unconditional, universal and inclusive love. Indeed, the revolution is love, correcting everything that stands against love, just as Jesus (Christ in us, the hope of glory) is love in action, challenging and demolishing hierarchical and patriarchal structures, leveling mountains and raising valleys metaphorically, liberating people from oppression and injustice, as well as restoring them and building them up. 

Also, truth is both immanent and transcendent, residing in us as well as outside of us. Truth, like love, is self-existing and has no beginning and no end, just as the Universe is self-existing. We can see truth or love imprinted in the beauty of Nature, for example. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Simplicity, patience, compassion

Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
I think this profound quote sums up the greatest treasures within us very well. It reminds me of the kingdom of God that is within us Jesus spoke about, which is similar to the inner treasures of simplicity, patience and compassion Lao Tzu mentioned, that each of us has. 

Maybe when Jesus said to become like little children in order to enter this kingdom that is within us, he could be referring to simplicity in actions and thoughts which connects us to the source of our being, contrasting with the ways of religious institutions which tend to complicate life with their rules, rituals and doctrines. 

As for patience and compassion, I realise both come from remembering our true identity as Love because Love is patient and kind/compassionate according to 1 Corinthians 13, so when we start by being compassionate with ourselves, our kindness and patience naturally flows to others. As Lao Tzu says, we accord with the way things are and reconcile all beings in the world, as we reconnect with our true self and know we are Love - be still and know you are God, as the psalmist also would say.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Christianity and its repression

Christianity tends to cause followers to repress their feelings. For example, there is often a pressure being put on people to forgive others in Christian circles, without giving them room to come to terms with their feelings. Maybe those who condemn others for not forgiving have forgotten or ignored the fact that the book of psalms has a number of examples of the psalmists calling upon God to take revenge of their enemies or destroy their enemies. It is testimony that humans need to find outlets for expressing their hurts and sufferings in safe ways. It is unfortunate that there are Christians today who do not encourage others to feel their feelings and instead shame them for not following their so-called "positive" messages about forgiving others and moving on, without giving them freedom to do so in their own time and space. This only tends to cause the feelings of resentment to bottle up and explode later on. Maybe it is why Christians who repress their own feelings become callous towards others because they have not been in touch with their own humanity too.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"For what it's worth; in Hebrew the word for Spirit is ruach, grammatically, it is feminine"

"For what it's worth; in Hebrew the word for Spirit is ruach, grammatically, it is feminine."
 ~ Jeanne Schlumbohm

"Patriarchal language cloaks the maternal heart of God.
-Like a mother eagle (Deut. 32:11)
-Like one who gives birth (Deut. 32:18)
-Like a midwife (Ps. 22:9)
-Like a woman in labor (Is. 42:14)
-Like a nursing mother (Is. 49:15)
-Like a comforting mother (Is. 66:13)
- Like a mother bear (Hosea 13:8)
-Like a mother hen (Mat. 23:37)" ~Pam Hogeweide

Also, wisdom, as expounded throughout Proverbs, is portrayed as a woman and is a feminine noun.

~ Julie Ferwerda
The feminine grammatical meaning of the Spirit or Ruach, according to the email heading, reminds me of the novel "The Shack", in which the author William Paul Young  also uses a female character to represent the Holy Spirit. 
"3. “’Speaking of Sarayu, is she the Holy Spirit?’
‘Yes. She is Creativity; she is Action; she is the Breathing of Life; she is much more. She is my (Jesus’) Spirit.’
‘And her name, Sarayu?’
‘That is a simple name from one of our human languages. It means ‘Wind,’ a common wind actually. She loves that name.’” (pg. 110)"
Incidentally, the author also uses a female character Sophia to represent wisdom, just as the book of proverbs also personifies wisdom as a woman.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The secret of being free - Embracing our hurts and pains and letting things unfold in their own way and time

I agree that the secret of being free is to let things unfold in their own way and time. I think the reason some people judge us or hate us is because they have some issues that are unresolved, long before they even met us, and we happened to come along and witness their unresolved issues surfacing in the way they treat us (and others), at this stage of their journey. We realise that we are not their problem, and there is nothing wrong with us actually. Their vibrations therefore don't resonate with us at this point in time. Their jealous attitude and their shallow nature stems from the fear and separation mindset in them. We can free ourselves from their negative energy, like what you are already doing. In this sense, we are leaving them to work out their own unresolved issues.

Yes, as we leave them to work out their own issues, we will get to focus on rebuilding and enjoying our own life and health and well-being. We will look forward to living a brighter and better future towards the last chapter of our life, as mentioned in the quote. It is ok to embrace our hurts and pains along the way, even as we look forward to a better future, as it is what makes us humans who are compassionate, broken and empathic.

Friday, March 29, 2013

All Religious Books Are Man-Made Nonsense

One must consider the fact that, even now, there are religious zealots and ordinary people still entrenched in a control belief system that is so far removed from reality that it borders on madness. There is no rational or scientific way that organised religions can have a modicum of truth or factual reality because of the very reason that these books are entombed in the time that they were written. These books should therefore simply be viewed as limited parables and historical fiction, as well as a lesson in how millions of people can be so easily controlled."
The research paper also came to the conclusion that reward/punishment religions, as control systems, were losing their grip on most of the population of the world and only a few die-hard fanatics and delusional maniacs were carrying on with the flame of idiocy.

"The game is up for all religions, how long can this sham carry on, with their ridiculous outdated ceremonies? The priests are deceivers, and they need to come up with some pretty radical solutions to their thousand year old magic trick. People aren't as dumb or easily swayed as they used to be thousands of years ago, they actually have reasoning powers and can see through the utter nonsense of organised control systems like religion."
(From "Scientists Prove That All Religious Books Are Man-Made Nonsense" by B. Delaire)
I think with the continual progress in scientific discoveries, technological advancement, literacy developments and expanding consciousness of humanity, it is inevitable that more and more people begin to realise that organised religions are fundamentally man-made, and their concept of God had been religionised and institutionalised. The perception of God itself had been evolving over thousands of years, varying among different cultures. It reminds me of some thoughts I shared some time ago, in one of our email discussions, and I have blogged about it here.

In my blog, I wrote:
Come to think of it, those people in the olden days thousands of years didn’t have modern day conveniences such as computers and cars, so life was very slow-paced. No wonder they had a lot of time sitting around and telling stories, and comparing their own culture’s stories with other cultures’ stories as they travelled and interacted and traded with one another, and they inevitably added and modified some elements from one another’s stories, and formed new stories. I suppose that’s how we have many religions today containing a mixture of elements, since they all borrowed some plots and characters from one another, and created their own characters’ names and backgrounds.
(From "The mythological nature of the Christian Bible")
At the most, I see that myths and stories serve a purpose in conveying deep truths, even though they are not the truths themselves. They are only a finger pointing to the moon. At the core of every religion, the commonality shared among them is love and compassion, which is known intuitively by every person, regardless of their belief system. Any other element added to their religion, such as conditions for reward and punishment, is only a man-made device designed to control others, as noted by the article.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Deep joy and deep pain in the density of life

"The possibility of deep joy requires a commitment to the density of life. This however means an openness to the possibility of deep pain"

~ Peter Rollins
Yes, the density of life is deep and wide, and contains the possibilities of both deep joy and deep pain. One cannot truly exist without the other, and so it is by embracing deep pain that we experience deep joy. It is one of the paradoxes of life, just like it is by embracing fear that we experience peace.

This quote reminds me of a devotional by Henri Nouwen I read recently about mourning and dancing - like deep pain and deep joy, both have their place and belong to each other.
"[There is] a time for mourning, a time for dancing" (Ecclesiastes 3:4). But mourning and dancing are never fully separated. Their "times" do not necessarily follow each other. In fact, their "times" may become one "time." Mourning may turn into dancing and dancing into mourning without showing a clear point where one ends and the other starts.

Often our grief allows us to choreograph our dance while our dance creates the space for our grief. ... Let's trust that the beauty of our lives becomes visible where mourning and dancing touch each other."

~ Henri Nouwen
It appears that we need the seasons of life for a complete growth and an experience of diversity and variety in life. The summers produce harvest and fruitfulness while the winters produce strength and steadfastness. It enables us to maintain a balanced perspective of life, such that in our moments of deep joy, we maintain our human empathy to relate to the sufferings of deep pain, and in our moments of deep pain, we retain our human capacity to relate to the experiences of deep joy.

"shame-based conscience may sound like the voice of God and condemn us when there is no condemnation"

According to this illuminating blog, the shame-based "conscience" is often a result of learned conditioning based on one's background, upbringing, culture and so on, in which one is exposed to conservative views of family, schools, churches and society. Unfortunately organised religion sometimes propagate the erroneous idea that the "conscience "is the voice of god condemning us when actually there is no condemnation. The gospel of grace and peace hence plays a part in liberating people from this crippling sense of shame and guilt by declaring we are already innocent, blameless, beloved and whole. Our true identity of innate perfection never changes regardless of our performance. This is good news for everyone indeed.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Courage, integrity and authenticity in sharing our struggles

I think the common unifying force that connects people is our human frailty and struggle because everyone goes through their personal struggle, and we may relate to one another better when we see others going through similar struggle as we do when they share about theirs. While some institutional church pastors may have shared some of their struggles with the congregation, it is usually in the form of testimony that describes how they met with some crisis and then they found faith in God whom they claimed to have turned things around for them, or how they struggled with some habits or addictions and then they claimed "God delivered them". While it might sound encouraging to some, in retrospect, this doesn't really give encouragement to those who still have doubts about God or are going through spiritual crisis or are coming to terms with their own sexuality, especially for those who are gays. In fact, such testimonies might even give the hearers the impression that there is something wrong with themselves that needs to be "fixed".

I suppose in institutional churches, pastors are generally tied to their pay checks, church committee and peer acceptance by other church pastors in the Christian circles, unfortunately, so they may be constrained to how much struggle they can afford to share with the congregation. If a pastor were to share with the congregation he is currently struggling with his doubts about God, or is questioning the church doctrines such as the literal hell doctrine, or is considering the fact that he might be gay, he risks being expelled from the institution and rejected by his peers in the Christian circles.

But if a pastor decides to be true to himself and be intellectually honest with his own doubts about certain doctrines as well as his own struggles in personal life, he would be willing to count the cost and bear the stigma of being ostracised by the religious fraternity and follow Jesus and find true freedom and peace. This act of courage, integrity and authenticity would also be an inspiration to those who are going through similar struggles themselves.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I rest in this assurance - Acceptance

I rest in this assurance-
God in His infinite wisdom
Did not make me very wise-
So when my actions are stupid, They hardly take God by surprise
- Langston Hughes
Yes we can rest in the assurance of a full and unconditional and unreserved acceptance in the love of God, for God is love and love believes the best of us. We are made in the image and likeness of God/Love so we are already perfect, complete and innocent. We are growing in wisdom, understanding and knowledge of our true identity, so it is a process we all go through and God, our highest self, understands that and is hardly taken by surprise when we make mistakes, so to speak. It doesn't change our identity as beloved and blameless children of God/Divine/Universe because as Jesus is, so are we in this world. I have come to learn that this is how we are perfected in love that casts out fear, including the fear of being judged by ourselves or others - to know and believe the love God has for us, that we are of God, that Christ is manifested in every one of us in the flesh, that nothing shall separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our true Self.