Showing posts with label faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label faith. Show all posts

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Be Lovingly Present

During my recent trip around the world I had nothing more personal to me than three little framed photographs I always kept near. The portraits are of `Abdu’l-Bahá, Naomi Boone, and Paramahansa Yogananda. All three are abiding now in the angelic realm.

 `Abdu’l-Bahá (Persian/Arabic 23 May 1844 – 28 November 1921) was the son of Bahá'u'lláh ("Glory of God"; 12 November 1817– 29 May 1892) , the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. Naomi Boone (Jan. 11 1980 – July 5, 1999) is my oldest daughter who died of cancer when she was nineteen. Paramahansa Yogananda (Bengali, 5 January 1893– 7 March 1952) was an Indian yogi and guru.

I am especially privileged to have been with Naomi and walked by her side in this world. I wrote a book about our journey together (A Heart Traced In Sand) and used her own writings to reveal her soul. Naomi started writing in diaries at the age of twelve. In addition she left volumes of drawings, paintings, some sculptures, and scribbled affirmations she made during her sufferings. At one point in her last diary, she was upset that she was getting worse, not improving. As she vented, she had the thought that someone would be reading her words after she died. She hated the notion because it was fatalistic. She wrote that she would rather burn her diary. I am glad she did not.

Naomi suffered tremendously before dying, but strove not to let it show. An active athlete in High School, she was on the track and field and cross-country running teams. She was in the Ski club, German Club and went to Germany. She began having difficulty with her leg, and we discovered she had bone cancer. The cancer had metastasized to her lungs as well. The tumor in her hip was very large and expanding—fracturing her bone. The treatments were horrendous. Her hair fell out, she was on crutches, was isolated for spells in hospital rooms . . . constantly hooked up to machines. Meanwhile she was attempting to finish high school between treatments, and applied to college.
She underwent a bone marrow transplant—doses of chemotherapy so high it destroyed her bone marrow. It also destroyed her immune system. Once when she sneezed, her nose bled and would not stop bleeding for three days. A specialist had to be called to constrict the blood vessels in her nose. She was given back stem cells that had been harvested from her earlier, and her bone marrow revived. She was accepted to an art college, and graduated high school.

All along, she fought hard and made every effort to live normally, even taking a job. The cancer retreated but came back and killed her. She had said that she did not want to die a slow agonizing death, but this is what happened. Her leg was terribly swollen, she could not feel her foot, was in intense pain, nauseous, and suffocated to death when her lungs filled with fluid. Yet, just the day before, she managed to say to someone massaging her, “I love my body, it has been so good to me.”

Remarkably, Naomi seldom complained and actually was more concerned for those around her. I barely left her side for two years. After she died, someone said we were like twin flames, and I know that is right.

My life has not been gentle since my father died two years ago, then my wife and I divorced, my first wife died, and then my mother passed away. I have felt sorrow, loneliness, pathos and more. Yet, I have not been blind to the good that occurs and my many fortunes and blessings.

I take solace in her words, and when I feel tired, or that life is unjust, or empty, I remember them. I have taken sentences from her writings, some just before she died, and written them here:

Healing! Loving! Knowing! Wishing! Hoping! Being! Enjoying! Living! Mending! Giving! Praying! Sending! Shining! These gifts of life are what make it possible to fight so hard to keep it.
This world is so full of opportunities that one can hardly keep up with them all. Life is so beautiful, I cherish it and want to be able to see every part of it.
I want to show God that I have learned much and feel I deserve acres of life to unfold for me. I love this life and I want to be here for as long as God allows. I trust that God knows my love for life and the happiness it gives me.
I am chi. I am full of the life force, full of the flowers, trees, the smell of lavender and roses, the feeling of the wind blowing against my face as I run, and the wonder when I go snorkeling and see the other world! That is only a little bit of what the life force is. I am chi, that life force.

It seems there is no way of knowing that everything will be okay. The only thing I can do is trust in God and the power I have within.
Sometimes I am afraid that I might die. It is not that I am afraid of going somewhere else, it is that I don't want to and I am not ready to leave this world. It is not death I fear, It is losing life and people.

As of now, I let go of my fears and troubles. In their place I let God do the work. I let light and energy, wholesomeness and happiness enter my soul. I know everything will be alright because God is with me no matter what.
I am filled with a wonderful sense of happiness. It is an indescribable sense of utmost freedom and joy. When I am in touch with it I just think, Oh, God, thank you for this beautiful body and life. I have learned how to use THANK YOU throughout everything.

Everything is important and nothing is important; everything is illusion back to God. Everything is already accomplished; you just have to bring your consciousness to it: Divine order is always in place. There is no place to go and nothing to do.

In every heart there is a deep sorrow, one that edges in like a whisper on a cold night. The delicacy of a person who is outwardly strong is as delicate as a rose before a frost inwardly.
May I be protected from internal and external harm. May I be healthy and strong,
 May I be happy and at peace.
May I care for myself joyfully.
God is with me, I just need to give it all to Him.

Hardship is something that will make us stronger. I don't know if I have complete evidence of this, but I think that in every situation there is good in it.

Show up and be lovingly present, no matter what it looks like out there or inside yourself. Always speak the truth of your heart.

Dear God, I want to tell you that I am thankful for my remarkable body. The joy in my soul has helped my body know how strong it actually is.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Suddenly Vanished

The most difficult experience in life is separation. At birth, it is the baby being forced apart from the mother, coming from the womb and the umbilical cord being cut. Then the weaning from the breast, and if it is too sudden there is much crying. Later, the first steps away from mother and father, going off to school for the first time. As the child grows, new bonds of affection form with friends, and eventually, another separation unfolds with the leaving of home and family to start a new life of independence.

All the while, special care is taken to maintain the all-important bond of spirit. This way, a certain safety and security is assured. Even when there is great distance, the bond of spirit is beyond time and space doing its work.
That bond depends on trust. If trust is broken, then the bond breaks. This is worse than physical separation.

When my teen-aged daughter died at the age of nineteen, it felt as though my best partner in life had suddenly vanished. As if we had been hiking together on a wondrous and difficult mountain, helping each other along, crying and laughing together, in awe and also some fear, holding to one another and absolutely bonded, when of a sudden, she vanished—as if from a ledge she leapt into thin air, leaving me alone on the mountainside . . . taking some of my joy with her. We both knew in advance the perils, and she spoke of her uncertainty that she would remain by my side; not that she did not want to, but the hand of fate had written to her. If she spoke of this, I would respond that we could overcome even the hand of fate. But the higher powers wanted her and my love could not keep her from going to a realm even more high and mighty than the feeble mountain I clung to. Now, I found myself on the same wonderful and difficult mountain, but without my dearest friend, and nothing looked the same.

And so here I am fifteen years later in the same situation. Through a physical, mental and
emotional bond, in marriage to Heidi of the Mountains, we had been exploring the heights of our existence, gaining perspective from our vantage on a mountainside, seeing the low places below us, and dreaming of higher places, when the journey became more strenuous and suddenly tiresome. She doubted, and began longing to go back down. I held her hand to convince her of the most beautiful places we had been and just ahead, more sublimity and our lofty goal within reach. We must be loyal, and patient, to give each other strength to get there. I worried she was abandoning me, reminded of my experience with my daughter. I pleaded, but she turned away . . . I could not go with her, and though heartbroken, kept to the mountain.

It has secrets and charms that speak to me every day—bringing healing. The angelic winds play all around, with lofty, wondrous songs, the air is clear and bright, the path strewn with wildflowers. I will travel on, and deal with my loneliness. I trust that the longer I stay on course, the stronger I will become and more wise. The mountain will offer up its joy to me because I do not leave it, but remain faithful.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Always Made The Effort

My father said that he never could see the “man in the moon.” The moon's face with it's big crater eyes and opened mouth that seemed to say “Oh,” had always been so obvious to me and a welcome sight, so his confession surprised me—especially since I held my dad to be a supremely thoughtful person.

I never heard the mention of God or Jesus or Moses while growing up. Most of my friends belonged to households with religious affiliations, at least nominally claiming to be of a particular spiritual persuasion. Not in my home. Yet, there were strong ethics involving morals and responsibility.

In my nineteenth year, while away at University, I found myself searching for meaning beyond the practical, and embarked on a spiritual pursuit, joining the Baha'i Faith. Perhaps my parents were surprised, especially when through the years my faith deepened. 

Throughout every religion are teachings on how to act in accordance with spiritual wisdom. Most religious people try and live righteously, with various degrees of success. Some are outwardly religious but inwardly lazy so as to make no effort toward benevolence or virtue.

Father always made the effort and could not tolerate liars or usurpers. As a young adult, after I found religion, we talked and he admitted that he regarded religion somewhat like Karl Marx (German, 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) did—as the “opiate of the masses.” The context of the Marx phrase appears in this sentence: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people." Father was determined not to accept unjust conditions in society. He felt that religion made people accept what they should not. When so much was being made of Mother Theresa caring for the destitute in India, taking a vow of poverty, he scoffed, and insisted her energies would be better used to change the sick nation so that systemic corruption and oppression were expunged and a new society with a more wholesome foundation was created to lift up the masses. Why accept the poverty and not change the conditions that created it?

Father left this world never having spoken the word “God,” but in his actions and beliefs living spiritually. I imagine his delight, when he “met his Maker,” and before Him, he stood clean, and they looked back at all those he unselfishly helped along the way.

Read here a very good article about my father, written in the Chronicle of Philanthropy:
Richard Boone: a Tireless but Humble Advocate for the Poor

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Inner Eye

All creatures have eyes, to navigate the physical realm, and these eyes are miracles of creation. How is it then that while we humans sleep with our eyes closed, we see fantastic places, and witness events unfold? For this, an inner eye must exist and be open. Many a time, a person has awakened from sleep, and opening their eyes to familiar surroundings, also recalled fantastic visions that remain fresh in the mind and spirit. How often has it come to pass that later, a person has appeared exactly as seen in a dream. This is the clairvoyant power of the inner eye. The word “clairvoyant" has its origin in 17th century French, from clair ‘clear’ + voyant ‘seeing’—clear seeing. Clairvoyance is deemed supernatural, meaning beyond natural law.

The thing is, we struggle for our physical existence, but not our inner life. So the physical needs are much more pressing and seemingly, urgent. Therefore, we elevate the senses to the top, and let our inner eyes languish. Furthermore, people become suspicious of what they cannot physically see and even reject life beyond the senses. The seventeenth century German writer Jacob Boehme, (probably April 24, 1575 – November 17, 1624) wrote, “for he who sees nothing says nothing is there; what he sees, that he knows, and further he knows of nothing but that which is before his eyes.”  The Confessions of Jacob Boehme, by Jacob Boehme.

My belief is that what our senses perceive is infinitesimal, and that our inner eye can perceive far more, if we open them to our conscious mind. Recently, I read in the Baha’i writings:
“Man is in the highest degree of materiality, and at the beginning of spirituality—that is to say, he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. He is at the last degree of darkness, and at the beginning of light; that is why it has been said that the condition of man is the end of the night and the beginning of day, meaning that he is the sum of all the degrees of imperfection, and that he possesses the degrees of perfection. He has the animal side as well as the angelic side, and the aim of an educator is to so train human souls that their angelic aspect may overcome their animal side. Then if the divine power in man, which is his essential perfection, overcomes the satanic power, which is absolute imperfection, he becomes the most excellent among the creatures; but if the satanic power overcomes the divine power, he becomes the lowest of the creatures. That is why he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. Not in any other of the species in the world of existence is there such a difference, contrast, contradiction and opposition as in the species of man. Thus the reflection of the Divine Light was in man, as in Christ, and see how loved and honored He is! At the same time we see man worshiping a stone, a clod of earth or a tree. How vile he is, in that his object of worship should be the lowest existence—that is, a stone or clay, without spirit; a mountain, a forest or a tree. What shame is greater for man than to worship the lowest existences? In the same way, knowledge is a quality of man, and so is ignorance; truthfulness is a quality of man; so is falsehood; trustworthiness and treachery, justice and injustice, are qualities of man, and so forth. Briefly, all the perfections and virtues, and all the vices, are qualities of man.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, (Persian, 23 May 1844 - 28 November 1921) Some Answered Questions

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Become The Path Itself

I am two days late writing my blog . . . and this after uploading faithfully each weekend for 50 weeks traveling around the world. I blame it on “stuff”, and maybe that I am suddenly grasping for a topic to write about. The “stuff” is mostly personal tasks, like contacting the collection agency that is chasing me because I did not answer the ten bills from an eye clinic that were sent to my post office box while I was away. (I thought I had paid in full.)
I am glad all the “stuff” I bought overseas is arriving, but now I have to inventory and sell it all. How could I have known that when I returned, everyone would be afraid of the economy?
A proverb says, “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” I am so grateful to have experienced circling the big, wonderful world, and being exposed to its many colors and textures. My love for the planet is deeper than ever, and I have knowledge to give this feeling breadth. As I stepped forward, I embraced the journey, and felt safe within what I call THE DREAM. Guatama Buddha said, “You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.” Four months ago, I visited the site where Buddha received His enlightenment under a Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, India, and sat with monks meditating. There are so many stories to tell, it brings to mind something Oscar Wilde said, “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”