Category Archives: General

A Good Man?

ancestor“My only request for my memorial service is that it should be short; do not mention any of my accomplishments or say that I was a good man, simply say that I was a man who strove to be good.” Prasanna Patel said to his grand-daughter.

“But Papa, you are the best man I know. If you are not a good man, then there are no good men on earth.”

“Child, you can only tell if a man is good by the nature of his innermost thoughts, therefore in most cases only the man who can read the thoughts of another can call him good. Even a man who risks his life for another cannot be called a good man if his action was prompted by the desire to be seen as a hero. The incorrect use of the designation “good man” narrows the scope of fulfillment for what it means to be good; being good means being spiritually mature for entry into the land of the pure spirits.  So please promise me not to call me a good man after I am gone.” He pleaded.

 

A Questioning Child

Did Christ Die For Our Sins?

In the early 1960’s, St. Jude’s Orphanage took care of the motherless children of Lome, Togo. The children had a strict academic regimen and were also fed spiritually through daily bible study  with Father Kuntz. One day Fr. Kuntz talked about the necessity of Christ’s suffering on the cross for the forgiveness of sin which terribly confused 10 year old Edem.

“How does the death of one pure man wipe out the sins of a thousand guilty men? How does that work?”

“Well Edem,” Fr. Kuntz responded.  “Imagine a son who does something so evil that he cannot atone for his actions himself. His father who loves him and sees his suffering sends one who is pure and strong to take on the suffering of this weak son who no longer has the power to overcome his guilt and find his way back to his father.”

“So Jesus was this pure One who was sent to take on the suffering by the most brutal death? It seems unjust. I still do not understand Fr. Kuntz.”

“The Creator so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son all the way down to earth to show us misguided human beings the way back to Him and with His suffering on the Cross, He atoned for the sins of all who believe in Him.”

“I see, I think I understand better now, Edem interjected. Like you said, The Creator saw all the suffering in the world so He sent His pure Son to show us the way to a joyful existence. By telling us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself” He gave us the key to atoning for our guilt and righting the ship. Fr. Kuntz, could it be that it is through living in accordance with Jesus’ teaching and not His death on the cross that forgiveness of sins lie?  Could it be that His death was simply a consequence of man’s wickedness? I ask because I do not think It is the Will of The Creator, it lacks justice. Think about it Fr. Kuntz, how can sin be transferred from one person to another?”

Fr. Kuntz who simply imbibed this idea of a forgiveness of sin through the death on the cross without thoroughly examining it reflected on the 10 year old’s words. Jesus’ words on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” reverberated within him. Could these words buttress the fallacy of this idea of the necessity of His brutal death on the cross? He dismissed his students and went outside for further reflection.

In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”

~ Betrand Russell

Vigilance

Vigilance

Sergio Gomez moved to Reynosa, one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico, to complete his degree in philosophy at the Universidad México Americana del Norte A.C. Despite the constant threat of danger in the area, Sergio remained indifferent and indolent; he took no measures to protect himself and his precious possessions.

One day, he left his house without locking his door and returned to a vandalized house. All his valuable items were stolen, the most valuable being his Mac laptop which contained 12 months’ worth of field data for his research project. All he had worked for, all he needed for his degree was on that laptop. His inability to protect what was most important led to his failure of the course because he could not make up the research project before the semester’s end. He had no choice but to repeat the course.

It would be unwise for a man who lives in a dangerous neighborhood to leave his door opened but we do the exact same thing when we take no steps to guard ourselves from the dark influences that surround the earth. It is clear to anyone with open eyes that the earth is surrounded predominantly by base and ignoble currents. Look to the media, government, corporations, schools, fashion, and society as a whole- where is there to be found anything leading the spirit upwards?

As with Sergio, our time on earth can be likened to a brief schooling period and in order to complete our development in the allotted time, the spirit has to be protected from these base currents through constant vigilance and an inward resistance to anything detrimental to spiritual ascent.

Greatness

An Alignment with True Greatness

Describe what greatness means to you. This was Mr. Gutierrez’s assignment to his high school students. The students could be as creative as they liked, no restrictions were imposed except for the seven minute presentation time limit.

Zach knew exactly what he would present to his class. You see, Zach and his father have been volunteering at a local homeless shelter every Friday since he was 8 years old. He enjoyed helping people and realized that the more he served others the more it seemed as though everything in creation worked in his favor. This is greatness, he thought.  And so, he began typing  his presentation.

What is Greatness?

Greatness is Service. Nature gives freely out of love, take the sun for example, it gives its life giving rays and demands no compensation. Through service to others, we too act out of love and thereby obtain a direct connection to that same greatness which keeps the sun shining and our hearts beating. We do not own greatness but it always gravitates towards those who, like it, serve joyfully.

The beauty of greatness is that it excludes no one. As Dr.  Martin Luther King  Jr. said, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”

Video from KarmaTube

Imitation brings Limitation

In 1963 at the Rotary Track meet in Oregon, a high school student began something that would change the sport of High Jump forever. Since the formation of the sport, high jumpers generally leaped over the bar feet-first but on this day in 1963 Dick Fosbury did something different.

He was an average high jumper on his high school track team and knew he had no chance of clearing the 5 feet 6 inch bar at this track meet by imitating the then standard scissor-style technique where one foot clears the bar after the other in a scissor like motion. In order to lift his hips above the bar, he ignored the prevailing standard and did what was natural to him. He moved his shoulders back as he approached the bar and jumped over it backwards. He cleared the bar that day and from then on began working on perfecting his new technique.

Fast-forward five years… Dick Fosbury introduced his unorthodox technique to the track and field world at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico where he won the gold medal. His technique of jumping backwards, known as the Fosbury Flop, is now the standard technique used by high jumpers.

 

On a Sunday evening on July 15, 1838 before the senior class of Divinity College, Ralph Waldo Emerson said the following:

Let me admonish you, first of all, to go alone; to refuse the good models, even those which are sacred in the imagination of men, and dare to love God without mediator or veil. Friends enough you shall find who will hold up to your emulation Wesleys and Oberlins, Saints and Prophets. Thank God for these good men, but say, `I also am a man.’ Imitation cannot go above its model. The imitator dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity. The inventor did it, because it was natural to him, and so in him it has a charm. In the imitator, something else is natural, and he bereaves himself of his own beauty, to come short of another man’s.”

We all benefit when each person gives expression and life to his individuality, whether it be in his work, speech, dress, or demeanor. Imitation of others is a debasement of the inimitable beauty which lies within every human being. As with Dick Fosbury, it might take years to refine and perfect one’s personal/natural style but this is time well spent because bringing forth the beauty unique to oneself is the only original contribution a man can make to his environment.

Sharpening the Intuition

Business man writingSarah walked into her manager’s office seeking permission to take the next two days off and Mr. Noble happily acceded to her request. He said to himself, after Sarah left his office, “How was it that I knew her request before she voiced it?”

Mr. Noble is no stranger to sensing events before they happen. Just yesterday, he rightly predicted the caller before picking up his ringing phone. He had previously dismissed such events as flukes but the multiple occurrences within the last year proved otherwise and spurred him on to further investigation.

He decided to write down everything he could remember about his condition during these occasions. He realized that his intuition was sharpest when his spirit was filled completely with helping thoughts of others and when he spoke only out of necessity. The concentration of his thoughts on service to others freed him of himself while his practice of silence strengthened his connection with his inner voice.

Armed with this knowledge, the importance of guarding against the dissipation of energy through non-value added activities and idle talk became clearly evident to him.

A Functional Living Space

hoarder1

Adriana’s friends know her as Miss Sentimentality because every little thing has a sentimental value to her. She gives nothing away so her house is filled with old magazines, every single greeting card she ever received, her projects and test scores from grade school,  even old clothes she had not worn in twenty years.

Her hoarding was now at a point where she lacked a functional living space. Labeled boxes of past memories surrounded the house. “You never know, what if I need them one day” was her usual response to her friend’s urge to get rid of the clutter. She often enjoyed indulging in reveries, re-reading letters and going over photographs from her teenage and young adult years. She so held on to these memories that there was no room for new ones. She was even blinded to the unlivable condition that her home had become for these items had become more important than all else.

One day in January rain fell, as was the norm this time of the year in São Paulo, but this time it lasted for seven straight days. Flooding became an issue causing a lot of residents to evacuate, including Adriana. Her strong emotional connection to her cherished possessions made the parting extremely difficult causing her serious anxiety and ultimately leading to her fainting. She was rushed to the hospital where she regained consciousness but it will be a long road to recovery for Adriana because she has no anchor from where to draw strength. She never made room for the things that matter most.

…….

How much of what we carry about (past disappointments, grudges, resentment, blame etc) is of any value ?  Every difficulty, could we but see, means progress. At the very least, it is an opportunity to develop an increased level of inner calmness and patience. Seeking faults in others, no matter how justified one thinks he is in doing so, is of no spiritual benefit and is therefore an inefficient use of one’s energy.  As with Adriana, carrying around all this baggage shrinks our functional living space thus preventing new light and power from penetrating and invigorating the spirit.

The Distortion of Truth

Inspired by the actions of Mother Teresa, business mogul Adetayo Williams formed “Rise Up Africa,” a nonprofit organization with the mission to end the cycle of poverty in Sub-Sahara Africa. He invested all his wealth and energy towards the realization of his vision of an Africa where every child has the resources to develop his or her innate talents, thereby making it possible for them to contribute to the prosperity of their society as adults.

Mr. Williams attracted like-minded people who contributed their various skills and resources to the project. Gradually “Rise Up Africa” grew to become one of the most respected nonprofit organizations in the world. By the time of Mr. Williams’ death, the organization had slashed poverty in Sub-Sahara Africa by thirty percent.

The new chief executive officer, John Akorie, sincerely wished to fulfill his duties in accord with Mr. Williams’ vision so he devoted the greater part of his energy to the financial security of the organization. “The more financially stable the organization is, the more we can continue on the path indicated to us by the great Adetayo Williams,” he often told his staff.

Years went by and slowly the quality of service to the children began to suffer. The greatest minds in education, medicine, arts and business development who had eagerly worked with “Rise Up Africa” were no longer assisting the organization because Adetayo Williams’ passion for the kids, which fueled their enthusiasm, was absent. Contributions dwindled and the once great organization became insignificant. John Akorie’s intention was respectable but he made one subtle but drastic mistake; he allowed the welfare of the organization take precedence over the children it was founded to serve.

…….

Over the course of history, the earth has been blessed with many great prophets who showed the path to Light and Truth. Soon after their departure from the earth man began distorting these teachings, although sometimes unintentional but nonetheless harmful. The reason for this was simply the shift of focus from the essence of the teaching to the maintenance of the organization or religion. Truth cannot be arranged, molded or classified, when an attempt is made to arrange truth, the truth becomes a lie.

“Fools and intelligent people are equally undamaging. Half-fools and half-sages, these are the most dangerous of all.”

~ Johann Wolfgang Von Geothe

Prayer

PrayForty nine year old George Sanders stands before a high school audience in Mendalhall High School, Mississippi to present a speech about his life and lessons learned along the way. He brings out a notepad and begins reading his written down speech. The audience listen to his words but it stirs nothing within them because his words are lifeless.

George’s words lack depth and are unable to penetrate to the spirit of his listeners because most of his energy is used up in reading carefully to ensure he gets the words right, leaving little energy left to bring to life intuitively the experiences he wishes to share.

George, being an observant man, realizes his ineffectiveness and puts down his notepad. He seeks the audience’s pardon and starts his speech over. This time he allows the pictures of his life experiences arise within him first and then he simply clothes these pictures with the first words that come to mind. All his energy is used in calling these experiences to life and no energy is wasted in reading or memorization. The audience was so captivated by Mr. Sanders’ story that the thirty minutes allotted for questions and answers evolved into a two hour session.

What can we take from this in regards to prayer?

It is difficult to speak from the heart when reading or memorizing and only what comes from deep within has real life. We too can easily decipher the difference between a spontaneous prayer of gratitude and a prayer rattled off routinely. Words lacking life cannot ascend to the heights where HE to whom we pray resides.

O.M.G- A Dangerous Phrase

“OMG” is a common phrase we hear often in the course of the day.  In fact, it is now almost an automatic reaction to unexpected excitement, tragedy, disbelief or frustration. What danger lies in the use of this phrase? The story of the boy who cried wolf comes to mind. The villagers came running out as they heard the boy cry “wolf” only to meet him laughing. They warned him only to cry “wolf” when there was actually a wolf. Once again, the boy cried “wolf”- once again the villagers came running and there was no wolf. The third time, there was actually a wolf- the boy cried “wolf…wolf,” this time no one came.

In this case, the boy’s crying was of no value anymore so the villagers paid no attention to him. His words were meaningless for he played around with what he should take seriously. It is the same with the word, “God” – through this word and the concept behind the word; one can gain connection to The Creator of the universe in his most pressing hour of need. The power behind this word is unmistakably evident to him who uses it only in deep reverence. If this word loses its value through toying around with it, one can no longer gain a connection to the Source of all goodness through this word.  It then becomes an empty sound lacking any power.