Who is this “I” ?

Am I my thoughts, the thoughts that I am thinking?  No.  Thoughts come and go; I am not my thoughts.

Am I my body?  They tell us that millions of cells in our body are changing or are renewed every minute, so that by the end of seven years we don’t have a single living cell in our body that was there seven years before.  Cells come and go.  Cells arise and die.  But “I” seems to persist.  So am I my body?  Evidently not!

“I” is something other and more than the body.  You might say the body is part of “I” but it is a changing part.  It keeps moving.  It keeps changing.   We have the same name for it but it constantly changes. Just as we have the same name for Niagara Falls, but Niagara Falls is constituted by water that is constantly changing.  We use the same name for an ever-changing reality.

How about my name?  Is “I” my name” Evidently not because I can change my name without changing the “I”.

How about my career? How about my beliefs?  I say I am a Catholic, a Jew – is that an essential part of “I”?  When I move from one religion to another, has the “I” changed?  Do I have a new “I” … or is it the same “I” that has changed?

In other words, is my name an essential part of me, of the “I”?  Is my religion an essential part of the “I”?    Labels are so important to us.  We spend so much of our lives reacting to labels, our own and others.  We identify the labels with the “I”.

When you are caught up in labels, what value do these labels have, as far as the “I” is concerned?  Could we say that “I” is none of the labels we attach to it? Labels belong to “me”.  What constantly changes is “me”.  Does “I” ever change?

The fact is that no matter what labels you think of (except perhaps human being) you should apply them to “me”.  Suffering exists in “me” so when you identify “I” with “me” suffering begins.

For example, say that you are afraid or desirous or anxious.  When “I” does not identify with money, or name, or nationality, or persons, or friends, or any quality, the “I” is never threatened.  It can be very active, but it isn’t threatened.

Think of anything that caused or is causing you pain or worry or anxiety.  First you can pick up the desire under that suffering, that there’s something you desire very keenly or else you wouldn’t be suffering.  What is that desire?  Second, it isn’t simply a desire; there is an identification there.  You have somehow said to yourself, “The Well-being of ‘I’, almost the existence of ‘I’ is tied up with this desire.”

All suffering is caused by my identifying myself with something, whether that something is within me or outside of me.

Extract from the section ‘The Stripping of “I”!”  in Awareness by Anthony de Mello

 

Does your space influence your praying?

I’ve been waking up around 3.00 am these days, as my body adjusts to effects of a trans-Atlantic trip.  I have been going to bed late hoping  I would sleep right through.  However I find myself awake in a couple of hours, trying to figure out how to while away the time till the dawn.

So I wander around a bit, pet the dog, pick up a book and put it down again for my eyes are too tired to concentrate.  I switch on the TV.   More of the same stuff – Trump and his trip, Trump and his tweets,  Trump and his tactless talk, interspersed with bits of world news. CNN is really obsessed with Trump and trite news. Imagine – they were actually showing the police recording of Tiger Woods being tested for driving under influence. Gross invasion of his privacy.  I switch to BBC.  More Trump tales but also news of Manchester, Brexit, Elections and EU.  I click to Al Jazeera – less obsession with one topic and a more global view: labour reform in Brazil,  environment research in Senegal, lynching in Pakistan,  a protester used as a human shield in India,  and  in-depth reporting on the floods in Sri Lanka.  I watch a bit and switch off.   3.30 am.  Its going to be a  l – o – n – g night. I make some coffee, grab a bite and decide its a great opportunity for some quiet time with the Lord.

But that does not work !  Try as I might I could not quiet myself.  One whole week of getting up at 3.00 am and I did not get any quality prayer time. (??)

And then today this article on Ignationspirituality.com titled Take Inventory of Your Spaces by Vinita Hampton Wright made me realise the root of the problem.  To say my space was the major distraction to my prayers would be an understatement.

It has been raining heavily the past week, pre-empting me from going onto the balcony which is generally conducive to reflection and quiet time.  The rain has impacted the indoors too.  There are racks of clothes drying out in the upstairs lobby/study.  And lots more clothes lying around – unfinished packing – waiting their turn for the machine and the racks. Maybe it is time to invest in a Drier even in sunny Sri Lanka?

I muse that the rain has only minutely disrupted my space.  It has played havoc in the country, creating a national disaster and taking away ‘all the space’  of hundreds of thousands of families.  In the face of that, my distraction from prayer because of dis-organised surroundings seems very trite indeed.  But it is a reality.

The article brought home to me the importance of consciously creating that place and space that I need to go into by myself to meet my Lord.  As Ms Hampton Wright says  … it matters where we dwell for a time of communion with God.  

She urges that we take an inventory of our spaces and gives some guidlines on how to achieve this.  You can read the full article Take Inventory of Your Spaces on the Ignatianspirituality.com website.

I hope it helps you as much as it has  helped me.

 

The New Covenant – sealed with the blood of the Lamb

Sealed by the blood of the Lamb

I’ve searched long for answers to the explanation of the Cross being a bloody and brutal sacrifice of the Son, willed by a merciless Father.  I’ve pondered on it, questioned it, written about it and prayed about it.  I believe I might have been set on the road to understanding today when the following words jumped out at me :

“it was that first Eucharist that transformed Jesus’ death from an EXECUTION to an OFFERING.  At the Last Supper HE GAVE his body to be broken, his blood to be poured out as if on an altar”

“It was the sacrificial blood that ratified the covenant because Moses said so in the one instance and BECAUSE JESUS SAID SO in the other. “

Now I have read and reflected before … and recognised the parallel between the old Passover and the ‘new’,  but the lead up to this sentence answered so many questions I had on ‘Why the Cross?”,   because it started from a point that I was and took me through to this one statement that was like a eureka moment of greater clarity and understanding. Here is the ‘lead up’  ……

At our remove of two thousand years, it seems natural for us to look upon Jesus’ crucifixion as a sacrifice.  Christians are heirs to a long tradition of talking that way, praying that way, thinking that way.  But first century Jews who witnessed the event would not and could not have seen the crucifixion as a sacrifice.  It bore none of the marks of a sacrifice in the ancient world. On Calvary there was no altar and no credentialed priest.  There was indeed a death, but it took place apart from the Temple, which was the only valid place of sacrifice in Judaism, and even outside the walls of the holy city.

St Paul, however, made the connections for his generation and especially for his fellow Jews.  In first Corinthians, after introducing the word of the cross (1.18) he calls Christ “our paschal lamb” who “has been sacrificed” (5.7).  Thus he makes the connection between the Passover celebrated as the Last Supper and the crucifixion on Calvary.

Indeed, it was that first Eucharist that transformed Jesus’ death from an execution to an offering.  At the Last supper he gave his body to be broken, his blood to be poured out, as if on an altar.

As Paul retold the story of the Last Supper (1 Corinthians  11:23-25)  he spoke of the event in sacrificial terms.  He quotes Jesus as calling it “the new covenant in my blood”, an evocation of Moses words as he made a sacrificial offering of oxen: “Behold(the blood of the covenant” (Exodus 24.8).  It was the sacrificial blood that ratified the covenant, because Moses said so, in one instance, and because Jesus said so in the other.  

Opening paras in Foreword by Scott Hahn in the book :  JESUS and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper – Brant Pitre

Today, Maundy Thursday,  the words ‘sealed with the blood of the Lamb’ takes on a new meaning – not as a sacrifice willed by a merciless God who wanted a scapegoat offering, but as blood willingly shed to seal the new covenant of love and reconciliation between God and man.

LOVE transforms suffering into sacrifice!!

Source picture : numerous sites on internet.  Origin or copyright unknown.

The terrible thing about religion

“…. The fact is that you’re surrounded by God and you don’t see God, because you “know” about God. The final barrier to the vision of God is your God concept.

You miss God because you think you know. That’s the terrible thing about religion.

That’s what the gospels were saying, that religious people “knew,” so they got rid of Jesus.

The highest knowledge of God is to know God as unknowable. There is far too much God talk; the world is sick of it. There is too little awareness, too little love, too little happiness, but let’s not use those words either. There’s too little dropping of illusions, dropping of errors, dropping of attachments and cruelty, too little awareness. That’s what the world is suffering from, not from a lack of religion. Religion is supposed to be about a lack of awareness, of waking up. Look what we’ve degenerated into. …”      Extract from : The Anthony deMello Institute Goa: Awareness – 57

One World, One love, One heart …

In a reflective poem titled Passport Privilege (response to the Daily Post prompt – Passport,) Ginger has drawn our hearts to the terrible plight of refugees who do not have passports :

Yet some people will never have one
invaded by a super power
they are only issued a flimsy piece of paper
that cannot be used for travel

Exiled from their homelands
their invaders ensure that nobody recognises them
unless they acquiesce to their demands!
Can you even begin to imagine life without yours?

and to the plight also of citizens from troubled lands – and  developing countries like ours  – who are always viewed with suspicion.

Others may have a passport from a troubled country
Suspicion aroused wherever they go
checked too often and regarded with fear

and continues with a clarion call

“Only global citizenship will allow free travel!

So no more flag and no more borders!
Recognise that there is only one human race
with many different tribes  …”

echoing words spoken by my father so many many years ago to which alas I paid no heed, blind to his dream of no flags, no borders …. and there definitely can be no walls if  we ‘open to each other with warm embrace? ”

Is this not the Kingdom of God on earth that our Saviour spoke of?

Let us resolve to actively live, and work and pray for that day, when the dream of One World, One  Love, One Heart is realised.

Video of another enlightened human – Bob Marley singing One Love attached for listening pleasure and inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

Memories … pressed between the pages of my passport

The first thing that struck me when I pulled out my passports last week to complete a visa application, was how careless I have been with this document which is -literally and figuratively – a passport to the world.

My passport history was shocking.  I have had my passports stolen from my home when in Jamaica, and returnd by the police; stolen from my car in Sri Lanka and dumped in a nearby playground. Another time, my sister had  taken my passport to her office and I had to apply for a new one to travel as we could not find it in time.  Yet another passport had to be cancelled because ink had spilt on it.  And  …  the most heinous of all – I had lost my current passport,with all attached passports, in a place unknown.  Workmen found it many months later when digging the road outside my home.  My parents diligently tried to salvage what they could of the rain soaked passports by placing tissue paper amongst the wet pages for Visas are  – or should I say ‘were’ – a very precious commodity during the height of the civil war.  And I had numerous visas stamped between those pages.

Flipping through them last week, squinting at the faded print, tying to read a defaced page and figure out the country seal, brought back so many memories.  These were not just visas. This was in many ways the story of my life pressed between the pages of my passport.

The most number of “permitted to land” stamps were obviously from Sri-Lanka and Jamaica – my first and second homes.  Running close was the US for you cannot travel to and from Jamaica without going through either US or UK.  US was my preferred option.  It was the back yard – or should I be politically correct and say front yard of Jamaica – and the closest holiday and shopping destination.

And then there were the ‘stamps’  that reminded me of the crazy trips I did – like the time I had the brilliant idea of landing in Patmos, driving through the country and departing from Lanarca the next  day.  Unfortunately I had failed to do my homework. All hotels closed early.  The airport actually closed behind me!!  I managed to hail the last passing taxi and persuade him to drive me cross country to Larnaca.  Tensed during the whole drive in dense darkness, I lost all further interest in exploring, and spent the rest of the time at the airport.  So much for my desire to see Cyprus 🙂

That same trip was actually filled with adventure.  I had applied for my Israeli visa whilst in Spain as the Embassy in Jamaica could not handle my documents. (Since most travel to Sri Lanka touches Arab countries, the Israel passport is issued on a separate sheet of paper. Such is politics !!!)

I was grilled right royally before boarding the flight to Tel Aviv as to why a Sri Lankan, living in Jamaica, had travelled to Spain to get a visa for Israel and was returning through Cyprus.  To make matters worse, I had no hotel booking, no contact address, nothing. They made my plans of adventure and taking each day as it comes sound very sinister indeed.  Unknown to me, there was meeting scheduled between the Israeli and Palestine leaders so security was extra tight, and my circumstances, including travelling alone, were considered strange and highly suspect. A Sri Lankan girl, travelling alone, under these circumstances … we have to check this out.

They sent me to a waiting room where I soon realised (from the clothes on the ground in the half-screen changing room type chambers) that they were intent on doing a full body search!  I went cold.  Using all my female intuition and expediency … I burst into tears. They sent for an immigration officer who I remember knelt by my side to inquire why I was crying.  (Who wouldn’t?)  At least he was kind and concerned.  I told him I was not prepared to go through a body search and would just book an onward flight, forgetting about my pilgrimage as I had no desire to enter the Holy Land with such restrictions.

He “cleared”‘ me.

It was almost dawn when I arrived and went to the hotel referred to me at the airport. For the first time in all my travels, I stayed in my room the entire day, nervous to venture out.  Finally in the evening I went to the reception and they informed me it was safe to go out, that the tight security is relaxed once you enter the country.  So I went out.  The ‘normalcy’ of everything around me – except the helicopters and soldiers patrolling the beach which I had not realised was at the hotel doorstep – wash like a splash of ice cold sea water.  I relaxed and prepared to explore Israel and the Holy City.

Memories rush to mind as I write.  How I found myself in a bus full of soldiers in the high security zone in the Gaza strip.  Seated in the last row, blocked by the high seats and absorbed in the scenery,  I had not noticed that the bus had emptied itself of civilians and had filled with soldiers. I was ‘discovered’ when someone ventured to the back, and was brought to the present moment by my awareness of a sudden ‘deafening’ silence:  a stillness and the feeling that people were staring at me.  They were!  A bus full of soldiers was staring at the alien invading their space.

A buzz of conversation followed when I looked up. The soldiers soon unraveled that the driver had forgotten to put me off at the stop I had indicated to him. So the driver had to had to turn back to drop me off at the nearest civilian point.  Again, at least they were kind and concerned  – or maybe the driver was more nervous  of his slip up.  Either way, I got off the firing line.

So many memories, pressed between the pages of my passport.  I am glad I saw the Daily Post prompt in the post Passport to Eternity today.   … and now I am going back to my memories.

P.S.  I went back to Israel again on a pilgrimage with a travel agent No drama like before.   But my first trip made an indelible stamp on ME … not just on my passport.

The regrets of love not expressed

Is there any sorrow greater than the sorrow of not having expressed your love?

The sadness that grips you when you find it is “too late.”

Too late to do the things you wanted to do …                                                                            Too late to visit now … she is not there any more.                                                                   Too late to allot time for her … You kept it too late. 

All the things that were so important to you, you had to do them “today”                             …. whilst visiting Aunty Marie could wait till tomorrow.

You can now do them for the rest of your life … no need to stop what you are doing.           …your Aunt does not need you any more.

The bag of groceries you were going to buy her …                                                             The day you were going to spend with her                                                                                           The love you were going to express …                                                                                                    … You kept it too late.

You did not even stop to think                                                                                                … a postcard will help if you cannot visit today.                                                                      …. A telephone call will be better … you can talk to her NOW.                                            TODAY ….BEFORE it is too late.

She took time and care to write to you … Did you reciprocate ..?                                You wanted to … with all your heart you want to …                                                                 but you kept it too late.    

Can you learn even now, Learn before it is too late.                                                         Get your priorities straight.                                                                                               The house, the garden, the work, the chores                                                                 All these can wait … There can always be another time for this.                                                Delays won’t cause regrets.

What causes the biggest pain and hurt                                                                      Because there will not be another time for this – EVER –                                                      Is the regret, the  pain and the sadness                                                                    of love not expressed. 

With pain in your heart you whisper and hope she can hear you.                            Aunty Marie I’m sorry.  I love you so much.  Thank you for writing to me.  Thank you for caring. Please forgive me  – my selfishness – and please know that I love you.

Your loving god daughter                                                                                       Rosanne                                                                                                                          14th July, 1999.

(True story – shared as a reminder to express your love, and do the things that really matter – before it is too late.)

Awareness

wp-awareness-2016-04-08-006

The most difficult thing is the world is to look, to see. We don’t want to look because if we do, we may change. If you look, you lose control of the life you are precariously holding onto. In order to wake up the one thing that you need the most….. is the readiness to learn something new.

The chances that you will wake up are in direct proportion to the amount of truth you can take without running away.

How much are you ready to take?  How much of everything you have held dear are you ready to have shattered without running away?  How ready are you to think of something unfamiliar?

The first reaction is one of fear.  It’s not that we fear the unknown.  You cannot fear something that you do not know.  Nobody is afraid of the unknown.  What you really fear is the loss of the known.  That’s what you fear.

Extract :  Awareness – The Perils and Opportunities of Reality.  by Anthony De Mello

Choosing happiness …

If you had to choose between happiness and something or someone that you desperately want,  what would you choose?

It seems such an inane question  … but think about it a moment.  Aren’t there things in life, decisions we make every day that we know will not bring us happiness  – and yet we make them?

As Anthony Mello de Mello puts it in his reflections on Awareness:

“…. we don’t  want to be happy.  We want other things. Or let’s put it more accurately:  We don’t want to be unconditionally happy. I’m ready to be happy provided I have this, that and the other thing. But this is really to say to our friend, or to our God or to anyone, ‘You are my happiness.  If I don’t get you, I refuse to be happy.’

It’s so important to understand that.  We cannot imagine being happy without those conditions.  That’s pretty accurate.  We cannot conceive of being happy without them. We’ve been taught to place our happiness in them.”   

So when you have to choose between happiness and something or someone that you want, what will you choose ?   Honestly …..

Should ‘auld’ acquaintance be forgot …

Already nine days into the New Year !!

I have been on ‘sabbatical'(how else to describe the inactivity on my site??) for some time,  but cannot let the dawn of a New Year pass without greeting ye ‘auld acquaintances’ and fellow bloggers.   I hope the year ahead will bring you your hearts desires if they be good for your soul.  May Peace, Love, Joy and Contentment be yours in abundance.

… lets have a cup of kindness yet for ‘auld lang syne’.     (and spare a few minutes to join in this awesome rendition.  You won’t be disappointed.)