A new spiritual work…this is a draft of a chapter thought I would share:
For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.
Ah the first step in understanding the Cosmic Christ you are, that’s right the star stuff we are created from, that is the Cosmic Christ within, the divine you in unity with the human you in the here and now. The first step in this reality is living a life of compassion. These are simple lessons of life shown not told. It is in the way that you observed your family behaving, how others were treated. Perhaps it was stories told after the fact, or those that became family legend.
For those without a happy family life, perhaps it was the mentors and family you chose to have in your life that laid out the new reality. This is the reality that exists, and that by beginning this new journey you may see again.
One who is not envious but who is a kind friend to all living
entities, who does not think himself a proprietor, who is free
from false ego and equal both in happiness and distress, who
is always satisfied and engaged in devotional service with
determination and whose mind and intelligence are in agreement
with Me-he is very dear to Me.
–Bhagavad Gita 12: 13-14
The fruits of the Divine within whether you term it Spirit, God, G(o)od, Vishnu, Krishna, Dharma, Karma—the list can go on, but what is evident is we know the star stuff exists as science says, and from that we live out the compassion that burns brightly. By acknowledging it and listening to it, we move beyond the “Old Laws” like Moses character was used to lay out in the 10 Commandments (and the 617 in Leviticus) that in our infancy story guided us towards a selfless self-love life that drew us closest to the divine.
My family was raised with many living examples of the simplicity that is compassion, as Paul wrote to the church in Philippi there is a compassion within each of us as was witnessed in the life of the Master Teacher Jesus of Nazareth. This is the compassion that if you take time to be present in your own story, and the great story around you will see.
In my own life it was being 16 years old and being at my Granddad’s funeral, having many of the now adults that grew up in the town with my grandparents and them sharing the open door they had in their home for the neighbourhood kids, always having the open listening ear to help them work through life issues to come to a solution.
It was hearing about my Grandma Ragan working in a diner in Canada around the Air Force bases, and refusing to bend to American soldier’s whims not to serve African Canadian Soldiers and welcoming them all in. Her following the life of a friend of my Uncle’s of Japanese descent and celebrating his milestones, even though she should have been of a generation that saw him as “enemy”.
It was the open welcoming door in my own home growing up, where whichever person entered became part of the family. My Mum and Dad always having a helping hand for friend, family, neighbour or stranger whether it was help with child care, food, rides or just a listening ear, and a strong shoulder for tears.
These were not people that trumpeted their simple acts of compassion as anything more than simply what one did in life to help another member of the family that is humanity. It is stepping away from mourning what “we don’t have” or “what we can’t do” to looking at the blessing we are, the purpose we have been given and are doing, to something deeper.
The divine in me sees and recognizes the divine in you.
To one step more…even when you don’t I will see it and respond to it, and interact with you as such to help bring you begin to see you as the truth of divinity you are.
An ancient story was used by Jesus of Nazareth, Brother Jesus in Franciscan teachings, from the Gospel of Luke. Luke was a physician and a historian who tradition of the church states in his works Luke and Acts of the Apostles set out to write an orderly historical account of the early church. What is also noted as you read these works as one, these are not high faluting theological texts like John (Greek) or Matthew (Jewish) or a Roman Action Flick like Mark, no Luke is like the investigative reports of the ancient world.
It starts with the story of a girl without voice, nothing more than property, that God breaks that culturally established walls of propriety and asks Mary of Nazareth, if she wants to take on the shame, the outcast, the challenge of a lifetime in becoming a living example of compassion to the world. Would she become a mother out of wedlock? Essentially if her betrothed did not choose to follow would lead to her execution by stoning or being cast out the city to become a beggar/child sex trade worker for survivial.
Yet she chose the power of love, hope and compassion. Mary chose her yes.
The rest of Luke’s works are filled with stories that poke the bear if you will of cultural norms and challenges them. I do believe if Luke was writing in the Twenty-First Century about the church he would tear open the idiocy of the debate around full inclusion by sharing power stories of the divine within the lives of Trans folk, LGBTTQ, the single parents, the addicts, the abused, the fallen from grace and those with disabilities in such a way that they would be as fully included as Mary of Nazareth and lives as celebrated.
But I digress. For this is the backdrop of the writer as Brother Jesus is answering questions. And then a powerful story emerges over a question of “who is my neighbour?”
25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.[a] “Teacher,” he said, “what must
I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What
do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all
your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your
mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given
the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell
into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving
him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when
he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came
to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while
traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He
went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then
he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The
next day he took out two denarii,[b] gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care
of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which
of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of
the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go
and do likewise.”
-Luke 10: 25-37
At this point it is time to pause and let the story speak to you. This is a mix of breath prayer and Lectio Divina. The Divine Reading as taught by Ignatius of Loyola as a method of study to allow the inner divinity to speak to you through the ancient stories. Read the story three times, if you can find an audio link online then listen to it. With each reading/listening there will be a question to reflect upon.
Sit comfortably, slow your breathing, focusing on it. Feel the environment you are in fade away. Feel the gritty sand get between your toes, the arid desert air, the sounds of the market place, bleating of live stock, haggling. Take in the aromas of the sacrifices, the fresh food, cooking, children singing and dancing, soldiers moving in and out taking what they want. You find the small group surrounding the labourer who has become a rabbi. How not many know, but they have all heard the legends of this man, the whispers that he is the bastard child of a Roman soldier, yet there is something in his manner, the way he looks upon everyone with tenderness, and compassion regardless of who they are or where they are from, he draws you into the conversation. The lawyer asks the question…who is my neighbour? The priest and the levite are so heavenly minded they will not stray from the rules of holiness to help someone in need, which makes them no earthly good. The Samaritan is part of a race from an exile of ancient Israel that saw them remain in exile and inter-marry with the conquerors, they worship God differently, they are seen as traitor’s to the chosen people, the stereotypical villain of every story.
Hear the story for the first time, during this reading as you walk through as the priest. What times in your life flash back to when you responded as the Priest and Levite? What truth emerges in these memories as you sit with them? Now as you sit write them out, colour them out to cleanse your Chakra energy of this negativity.
Sit looking at the old, are you ready to release this way of being? If so walk it out the garbage bin outside your home, rip it up and throw it in, walk away from this old way of being. If not note why, and come back to it later.
Hear the story for a second time this time as the Samaritan left hurting and bloodied by bandits on the road side. What comes to you, with those that at first walked past that you expected aid from and none came as with the Priest and Levite? Write and colour this out in your breathing again to get it out of you. In these moments where did aid come from surprising sources, take this thought and enter it into your journal as a reminder of times when someone else’s divinity came to you.
Are you ready to dispose of the hurt and pain of being left by the roadside by those you believed to be friend or helper? If you are take the walk as before and dispose of, if not place in your journal and note why you are not ready yet?
Hear the story for a third time, this time hear it as the Samaritan. What makes you stop? What times in your life have you lived out this compassion regardless of labels? Not these in your journal to remind yourself of living compassionately, invest these in your heart and sit with them.
Slowly bring your breathing back to normal, the aromas of the market place vanish, the sounds dissipate, the sand and breeze are gone, feel the chair reform around you, hear the sounds of your world, and the new aromas of your world. You are back and have a question to answer? As you interact with your world, others in your community, your workplace, your place of worship, your home and within yourself.
One simple question to answer:
Who is my neighbour?
One simple question to answer:
Who is my neighbour?