Tag Archives: love

To Love and Live Free

I went to an opera this past weekend for the first time at age sixty-two. The story was as old as time. The subject presented was one of love and freedom. As we were leaving the house, my wife explained the opera’s synopsis to my son, and he replied that it sounded like a hallmark TV show. When my wife told me of that conversation, it made me smile. My mind immediately thought of the many women on that same rainy Saturday demonstrating at the Lincoln Memorial not far from the Kennedy Center opera house for the right to live free and not be criminalized for terminating their pregnancy. The opera I saw is titled Carmen, who lost her life because she chose to love and live free.

On a spiritual level, I deeply relate to this story. Whether religious or secular, human cultures do a great job transmitting values from one generation to the next. However, I find them very judgmental when a violation of its boundaries happens. The maintenance of these boundaries is the lifeblood and identity of that culture. Every member and generation in that culture must translate those values and borders.

Sometimes we reinterpret the cultural values and visualize new possibilities. Today we possess a global consciousness, and our technology provides an awareness of cultures outside of our birth culture. Today the gatekeepers in our religious and secular societies are working overtime to keep us inside our borders. If you are not old-school, you probably have membership in multiple cultures, and if you are like me, each culture has gatekeepers trying to pull us back into the fold. And one of their favorite strategies is to have you guard the borders to prove your loyalty.

At the opera’s end, Carmen is killed by one of her lovers. Spiritual transcendence is always about dying at one level to get to a new level. Freedom never comes without death. My original religious culture retells the story of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, and my new culture teaches us to see reality through a new lens. As one of the teachers in this nondual movement loves to quote: “Matter is not what you see, it is a way of seeing”

My spirituality also reflects the insights found in the culture of science and scientist, who may not see themselves as a culture. However, science has its dogmas, based on science but still dogmas. Quantum entanglement is faster than light communication, also known as prayer, and has always been a function operating in my life. However, I now see that there are no walls between what some call God, other people, and myself. I am beginning to understand and live in a reality where the very substance of life is the same for God, all humans, and everything in the universe.

Spiritual transcendence makes possible freedoms at new levels. As we remove separations walled by our old cultural beliefs, new possibilities bubble forth. As we change the way we interpret life, a new reality emerges, kind of like being born again. The Washing National Opera (WNO) has a close relationship with the Ambassador community in the DC area. Most of these good women and men would be considered gatekeepers of their international community. The WNO was also hosting a gala to coincide with the two-year restart of opera performances after pandemic restrictions. The audience was full of embassy staffers, and I hope their takeaway from the story of Carmen was a little more nuanced than my son’s comparison to a Hallmark TV show.

Transcending one’s culture is an evolutionary process. Human spiritual development will continue, and new human cultures will rise and fall. New interpretations of truths will find their way to the light. New boundaries will replace the old ways of seeing, and those that were once criminals will live in new freedoms. To love and live free is a human story, played out every day in every human life.

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The Beauty In Others

I was not always able to see the beauty in people that were not of my spiritual tribe. I did not physically assault them; I judged them to be broken, and I felt pity for them in my heart. I held to a set of beliefs that evaluated people’s behaviors. I believed that humankind had fallen and that everyone was separated from God, having no light or beauty on the inside.

Now I live differently, and I see beauty in all people. What changed is that I had an awakening from those old beliefs. I changed because love opened my understanding at a heart level and created a new way of relating to people. I now experience life on a deeper level, the fear has gone, and I enjoy being with the new people I meet. I see beauty where once all I saw was a world of others that needed fixing.

So how did this happen on the inside of me? I give credit to silence. I was a typical person with a wife and two kids, working to keep up with bills and the family schedule. At first, it was the silence of early mornings and late nights that started drawing me in. Then I started taking long walks in the woods, getting up early at the beach, escaping to places of quiet. Most important was separating myself from the groupthink of my religious community. Do not get me wrong. My religious community was a safety buffer in an indifferent world, racially divided and full of greed and jealously. And with my tendencies for sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, Sunday morning was a two-hour sanctuary grounding me, keeping my family safe from the world’s insanity.

The silence allowed me to recognize how loved I am by God/Universe. My old spiritual community organizes around religious hierarchy, and my interpretation was the higher ranked you were, the more God loved you.

In that silence, I finally discovered I had it all wrong. My new awareness of the love emanating from Divine source has made all the difference. And now I see the beauty radiating within every person and myself. The idea that our connection is dependent on our social status in life is an illusion. What dawned for me is that beauty resides in all 7.5 billion of my sisters and brothers. Every person has within them the same love and light. Seeing this is my greatest joy.

The beauty I experience today in the world is overwhelming. Even those who have differing political views, world views, moral views, or ethical views have this same divine beauty. Seeing other humans living, moving, and being is magical. The cultural diversity among humanity is genuinely remarkable. Human expression is beautiful and does not require fixing. I am glad I got here and can see the beauty with my eyes and heart.

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Spirit or Religion, One Difference Is Love

2017-02colors-1383652The big problem we humans face in the world today is our inability to love one another. Of all the institutions in the world that can solve this problem, humanity puts it hope in the religious institutions. Why? Secular institutions made attempts with ethics but it was corrupted by corporate interest. The goal of ethics has been reduced to determining what can be done legally in the pursuit of making a profit.

Yes, the golden rule may be defined as do unto others as you would have done unto you. Thus, the ethical response is like a chess move, let me gain the upper position over you, before you can gain the position over me. Love on the other hand is putting others before self. Jesus states the minimum requirements (love other’s as equal to self) but demonstrated what love really looks like in action (put others before self).

John 10:14-15 (NKJV)  I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Daniel 7:14 (NKJV) Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.

In many ways, religion has become a tool of identity politics and communities that once gathered for spiritual reasons have been reduced to grass roots recruiting grounds for political constituencies. All the while, Jesus remains at the task of building a kingdom from every nation on earth. Unfortunately many religious groups are going through the motions by choosing winners and losers based on religious affiliation. More importantly national political policy is being crafted around religious affiliations.

Jesus came to break down those distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, and male and female. Even the Prophet Mohamed placed all the religious relics of the warring tribes into a single tent in order to unite the worship of many nomadic peoples. The arc of humanity is on a trend towards removing that, which separates.

We can also define love as the removal of distance between people, and beauty as the removal of distance between people and objects. When in nature one comes to a clearing or a view that makes you feel that you are one with all that you see. Even the lobbies of some purposely design buildings create this feeling of oneness. Many times, what is mistaken for sexual attraction is a sense of oneness between two people.

Many of our great travel experiences are when we leave our usual cultural setting and immerse ourselves into another culture. The sense of oneness, the welcoming feeling and embrace we experience is hard to put into words. And when we return to our usual cultural norms, we quickly notice how our culture requires us to identify and shed all identity from outside cultures.

I encourage you to be agents of change within your religious cultures helping them to embrace the outsider or your neighbor or the Samaritan. The OT and NT uses the Samaritan as the one group that should be embraced but are always rejected.  The Samaritan’s accepted Jewish religious traditions while sharing captivity with the Jews. They were abandon when the wall was rebuilt and religion was returned inside the walls of Jerusalem. The star in one of Jesus’ parables, the women at the well and the object of the disciple’s wrath when they want to ask God to rain down fire from heaven. The Samaritan’s are equivalent to African descendants in western culture today.

If Jesus and Mohammad could see their spiritual communities that were originally designed to love and reduce the separation, they both would be disappoints with their respective religions today. Membership and group identity have replaced the actions of love. Disciples of both of these religions have become devotees to the culture, ignoring the words and actions of their founders.

Each of these religious cultures is in need of a reformation to regroup to the original goals set forth by their founders. What the world needs is love, which is the spirit not the law of these cultures. More important is that there are many in these groups that see the need for change and their voices are being drown out. Helping a religious culture keep its spiritual sensitivities is a noble task today. It is the hope of humanity.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37 (NKJV) and behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?

27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

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