Before You Begin Your Journey into this page, consider this preamble...
We need to stop.
Stop for a moment…
Says or does anything
That may hurt anyone else.
We need to be silent.
Silent for a moment…
Before we forever lose
The blessing of songs
That grow in our hearts.
We need to notice.
Notice for a moment…
Before the future slips away
Into ashes and dust of humility.
Stop, be silent, and notice…
In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts
To nurture, to offer, to accept.
We need to be.
Be for a moment…
Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting,
Like children and lambs,
Never judging or vengeful
Like the judging and vengeful.
And now, let us pray,
Differently, yet together,
Before there is no earth, no life,
No chance for peace.
September 12, 2001
© Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek
Used with permission from Hope Through Heartsongs, Hyperion, 2002
You should be an island to yourself, a refuge to yourself, not dependent on any other but taking refuge in the truth and none other than the truth. And how do you become an island and a refuge to yourself?
In this way:
This is how you live as an island to yourself and a refuge to yourself. Whoever dwells in this contemplation, islanded by the truth and taking refuge in the truth--that one will come out of the darkness and into the Light.
Yet I realized that my only hope of attaining eternal bliss was by detaching myself from all worldly desires, and by honouring God in every aspect of my life. I knew that I had to leave the mansion of deception, and set out with all vigour towards the house of God. I had to turn away from wealth and position, and flee from all the worldly obligations that consumed my time.
-Ghazali, “al-Munqidh min ad-Dalal”
your equal, your better,
then continue your course
There’s no fellowship with fools.
-Dhammapada, 6, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
There is a difference between watching the mind and controlling the mind. Watching the mind with a gentle, open attitude allows the mind to settle down and come to rest. Trying to control the mind, or trying to control the way one's spiritual practice will unfold, just stirs up more agitation and suffering.
-Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, "Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness"
Remember the clear light, the pure clear white light from which everything in the universe comes, to which everything in the universe returns; the original nature of your own mind. The natural state of the universe unmanifest.
Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. It is your own true nature, it is home.
-Tibetan Book of the Dead
All that we are is the result of our thoughts; it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. If you speak or act with a harmonious thought, happiness will follow you as your own shadow, never leaving you.
In response, the Buddha said,
Tres Piedras, NM - January/February 2007
The place I decompressed from New York City and began my journey into the Land of Enchantment.
As long as there is a lack of the inner discipline that brings calmness of mind, no matter what external facilities or conditions you have, they will never give you the feeling of joy and happiness that you are seeking. On the other hand, if you possess this inner quality of calmness of mind, a degree of stability within, then even if you lack various external facilities that you would normally consider necessary for happiness, it is still possible to live a happy and joyful life.
That which shrinks, Must first expand.
That which fails, Must first be strong.
That which is cast down, Must first be raised.
Before receiving, There must be giving.
This is called perception of the nature of things.
Soft and weak overcome hard and strong.
Fish cannot leave deep waters,
And a country's weapons should not be displayed.
AGAINST TRUSTING IN STRENGTH
Man is born gentle and supple. At death, his body is brittle and hard. Living plants are tender, and filled with life-giving sap, but at their death they are withered and dry.
The stiff, the hard, and brittle are harbingers of death, and gentleness and yielding are the signs of that which lives. The warrior who is inflexible condemns himself to death, and the tree is easily broken, which never refuses to yield. Thus the hard and brittle will surely fall, and the soft and supple will overcome.
The wealth of this world, which God has bestowed on you, brings only fleeting pleasure. Far better and more enduring is God's reward to those who believe and put their trust in him; who shun the gross sins and indecencies; who, when angered, are quick to forgive; who obey their Lord, and are regular in their prayers; who take advice from other believers when they must make important decisions; who give to others part of the wealth which God gives them; and who, when injustice occurs, strive to restore justice.-Qur'an, Ash-Shura, Surah 42:36-39
All events come from a distance.
With a high vantage point,
Foretelling the future is elementary.
A storm does not happen abruptly; it takes hours, sometimes days, to develop. Travelers do not arrive suddenly; they can be seen in the distance. Knowing things in advance is possible with a high vantage point. For this reason, the follower of Tao appears to know magic.
Gold deposited on bones.
Once accumulation has begun,
Take care not to interfere.
For weeks the son doubted what he had done. He eventually went to acompeting geomancer who, out of jealousy, advised the son to raise the casket. The son did so. When the coffin was brought up and opened, the man saw that a fine layer of gold had already deposited on his father's bones-a clear indication of the auspicious transformation that had begun. In regret, the son wanted to throw his father back in, but it was too late. There was no remedying what had been done.
Spiritual practice must be uninterrupted. We may be anxious because we see very little happening on a daily basis, but we must be patient until we can see what the accumulation of our effort yields. Self-cultivation means steady, gradual progress. To stop prematurely would be more disastrous than never having started at all.
"The one who wanders independent in the world, free from opinions and viewpoints, does not grasp them and enter into disputations and arguments. As the lotus rises on its stalk unsoiled by the mud and the water, so the wise one speaks of peace and is unstained by the opinions of the world."-Sutta Nipata
But if forced to a confrontation,
Come out with all of your skill.
In this competitive world, it is best to be invisible. Go through life without showing off, attracting attention to yourself, or making flamboyant gestures. These will only attract the hostility of others. The wise accomplish all that they want without arousing the envy or scorn of others. They make achievements only for the sake of fulfilling their inner yearnings.
Yet it is inevitable that you will have to prove yourself at one time or another. When that is necessary, then you must marshal all of your skills, and do your best. Prove yourself when it is demanded, and when you must prove yourself, be superior. At that moment, it is no time to talk of philosophy and humility. ACT. DO. Then fade back into invisibiltiy.
When a believer gives in to temptation, a black stain appears on his heart. If he repents and asks for forgiveness, that stain disappears. But if he continues to transgress, the stain continues to grow until it blackens the entire heart. That stain is the rust the Lord Almighty refers to: "Nay, rust has fallen upon their hearts for what they have earned."-The Prophet Muhammad, as reported by Abu Hurairah
Remember it's source.
It is not the grand sweeping religious celebrations and heroic moments in life that are the only important spiritual occasions. Every ordinary moment, every little detail should be a celebration of your personal understanding. Your smallest act should be permeated with reverence.
One of our most basic acts is drinking water. Without it, we could not sustain ourselves. Water cleanses us, cools us, and it is an essential component of most of our biological processes. But, when we drink it, are we aware of what it does? Do we think of it's source and all the efforts that make it possible for us to have this simple glass of water?
Being spiritual means not taking things for granted. Quite the opposite, you remember how everything that comes to you fits into an overall scheme. You acknowledge the precious quality of everyday things. And, you maintain a gratitude for both the good and the bad in your life.
It smothers the earth with dullness.
Suddenly, thick clouds gather:
A wave of polar air passes like a frigid rake.
Acorns fall like bullets,
And a new wind breaks through.
The same is true of human life. If the heavens cannot endure stagnation for long, how can stagnation last with us? If we find ourselves blocked and frustrated in life, we must look for the inevitable outlet. Nothing is permanent, so how can our obstacles last? We need to look for the first opportunity to set things moving again.
On the other hand, sometimes stagnation comes from our own laziness or incompetence. In this case, then it is we who must show initiative and stimulate a breakthrough in dull circumstances. As soon as we see a chance, we must act. Unless we engage ourselves and events fully, we cannot expect to act sufficiently.
Unbelievers follow their own whims and vain conjectures—even though the guidance of the Lord has come to them. Can people attain all that they desire? God ordains all that happens in this life, and in the life to come.-Qur'an, An-Najm, Surah 53:23b-25
Even a river will change its flow.
So it is with the flow of our lives. Once the fixed objects of our lives shift, our circumstances change. If we move to another city, life will change. If we marry one person over another, life will be different. If we situate our business in a good neighborhood, life will be prosperous. If we choose a house in a good setting, life will be healthy. If we arrange our furniture properly, life will be comfortable. If we eat correctly, life will be prolonged. In short, followers of Tao realize that the flow of life can be affected and to some degree consciously manipulated simply by altering it's parameters.
Life is the flow of energy. It is the air that we breathe, the force that moves the weather, the force of all minds combined. It keeps the rivers flowing, our hearts beating, and the sky blue. This flow of energy moves constantly according to the fixed points that exist at any given moment. Therefore, by manipulating the cardinal points of our lives, we can change the flow. The freedom to choose and to change belongs to us.
Make the straight to flow.
Gather water, fire, and light.
Bring the world to a single point.
Proper devotion lies not simply in a headlong course. It also requires fortitude. Our bodies, our hearts, and our spirits must be totally concentrated upon what we want. Only by uniting all our inner elements can we have full devotion.
If we see our path clearly and our personalities are completely unified, then there's no distincton between the outer world and the inner one. Nothing is far away anymore, nothing is not open to us. That is why it is said that the world is like a single point: so strong is devotion that there is nothing that is not a part of it.
Do not seek sustenance from people.
God is the real Provider. If He wills a certain person to be the means of your livelihood, do not consider that person to be in control of your destiny. Have faith and be certain in the knowledge that your daily bread does not depend upon any mortal, but upon God who created all.
-Al-Hajwiri, "The Kashf al-Mahjub"
...'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.' -- Romans 4:3
Each morning we awake and go about our day based on one of two beliefs: Either we believe in God and our every action is motivated by this central value, or we do not really believe and our actions reflect so.
You can be a believer yet act as though there is no God. Whenever you fret over life circumstances, you immediately demonstrate unbelief. Whenever you move out of fear or anxiety, you believe a lie about God's nature.
Each day your actions affirm or convict you of your belief system. It reveals who the central focus of your life really is-you or God. It reveals who you place your ultimate trust in-you or God. It is one of the great paradoxes for believers. One day we can believe Him to move mountains. The next day we can question His very existence.
Peter believed God and walked on water.
A sick woman touched the hem of His garment and was healed.
A Canaanite woman believed and freed her daughter from demon-possession.
In what circumstances do you act as an "unbeliever"? Ask God to increase your level of trust so that your actions match up with one who believes every day.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. ~
Joshua and Caleb are described in Scripture as men who had a different spirit.
They were two of the 12 spies sent into the Promised Land to determine if it could be taken, as God had promised it to them. The other ten gave a bad report that instilled fear in the people, which ultimately caused a rebellion. This resulted in an entire generation dying in the desert. Joshua and Caleb were the only two who were led by the Spirit of God, versus the spirit of fear. They were the only ones to enter the Promised Land from their generation.
Are you a person led by the Spirit?
The verse above tells us that those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. "But because My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it" (Num. 14:24). Caleb was a Romans 8:14 man! The Spirit led him. He was not led by fear.
Many of us have failed to enter into our own Promised Land because we have failed to be led by the Spirit rather than by fear. Fear prevents us from entering into what God has promised for each of us. God has reserved an inheritance for us that is exceedingly good. God described the Promised Land as a land of milk and honey. Our own Promised Land is the same. But you must be led by the Spirit to enter in. You cannot be led by fear, reason and analysis, or even skill. The Spirit must lead you.
Commit yourself to being a Romans 8:14 man or woman. Then you will enter into the land God has promised for you.
This is a Biblical search engine: You can research any scripture (i.e., Psalms 23:2), book of the Bible, subject or person (i.e., JESUS). The drop down bar allows you to choose the translation or other helpful reference material. ENJOY!!
RECOMMENDED READING by `E D E N
There are others through the same link above that includes three devotionals and the novel, EdenDust.