Earth is crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God.
Those who see, take off their shoes, While the remainder sit and eat blackberries.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
A few days back, I was sitting in my car in the County Jail parking lot – no not because I am a resident – but because I teach inmates most afternoons. So, I am sitting there next to this incredibly beautiful, dark red, brand new Infinity automobile. Have to admit I was violating my own teachings about joy in the Present Moment to “wanting what we don’t have.” Sure was a beautiful car, and my favorite color to boot. Having left the Present Moment, for a moment, I was zooming down the highway in this wonderful car. It was a warm summer day, windows open, wind in my hair, etc., etc., etc.
So sitting in my not so new Hyundai, staring at this wonderful auto next to me, I was lost in some time I am sure didn’t exist. Suddenly, I was shocked back to reality, sanity, and what matters most. From behind this incredible car’s front tire, out hopped a unusually small sparrow. It perched on the edge of the curb with it tiny beak a fraction away from the front tire of the huge machine I had just been lusting after.
Then I came back to the Present Moment. It hit me with some force that the life within the sparrow, was life, eternal life, profound life. Compared to the dead machine, it was everything. How suddenly I loved this little bird. I wanted to hold it, and pet, and tell it what a wonderful creature it was. But I wouldn’t touch it, nor ever see it again. Yet with great force, this little God creation reminded me, in the space of one of it’s heartbeats, what was important. I didn’t need anything more than I had in the Present Moment to be incredibly, wonderfully happy.
In the Epilogue to Perfect Brightness of Hope (page 188), I provide the following quote from Brigham Young, Second President of the LDS Church. In view of the prevailing misunderstandings regarding addictions and alcoholism, it is worthy to examine this quote against ourselves:
“Who has the greatest reason to be thankful to his God–the man that has no strong passion or evil appetite to overcome, or the one that tries day by day to overcome, and yet is overtaken in a fault?
Who has the reason to be the most thankful? The being that has comparatively no strong passion to overcome ought constantly to walk in the vale of humility, rather than boast of his righteousness over his brother. We are under obligation, through the filial feeling and ties of humanity, to more or less fellowship those who do evil . . . If brethren and sisters are overtaken in faults, your hearts should be filled with kindness–with brotherly, angelic feeling–to overlook their faults and far as possible. [Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1977, page 180)] Emphasis added.
I was recently re-reading Essential Teachings: His Holiness The Dalai Lama, (North Atlantic Books, 1995) when I came across this quote. I was taken a back by the awesome power and simple truth of his observation: (Bold and Italics added by Phil)
Look around us at this world that we call “civilized” and that for more than 2000 years has searched to obtain happiness and avoid suffering by false means: trickery, corruption, hate, abuse of power, and exploitation of others. We have searched only for individual and material happiness, opposing people against each other, one race against another, social systems against others. This has led to a time of fear, of suffering, murder, and famine . . . It is because each person has looked only for his own profit without fear of oppressing others for selfish goals, and this sad and pitiful world is the result. The root of this civilization is rotten, the world suffers, and if it continues in this way, it will suffer more and more.” (pg. xii)
His Holiness offers the cure–and he does so with so much love and conviction! Can we not practice and train ourselves daily to comply?
“Training our minds, renouncing excess, and living in harmony with others and with ourselves will assure us happiness, even if our daily life is ordinary. And if we should encounter adversity, others will help us because we have been good and kind. We must not forget that even in the most perverted and cruel human being, as long as he is human, a small grain of love and compassion exists that will make him, one day, a Buddah.” (ibid, pgs 6-7)
Observe everything – judge nothing. I offer this teaching with the deepest of love and gratitude to each of you.
I want to thank each of you who have supported the new publication of PBH. Thank you deeply and from my heart for the great ratings you have given the new book on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
Thank you for reviews you might yet give. Thank you for supporting the desperately needed message of my book – love, compassion and non-judgement! In gratitude I live. In gratitude I honor all that is good.