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Bombs

I like to think that no matter what mess the world gets itself into, I can do my little bit and the world will go on turning and my life will continue relatively unchanged. Maybe something different to complain about, something else to be enraged about between sips of coffee. Any thought that the world will seriously change, so much as to really strike the core of my life, is just melodrama.

But right now, I am seriously wondering where all this is going.

Bombing in Syria. Bombing in Afghanistan. Threatening North Korea.

Is there any conceivable reality where this can end well? We are still reaping the results of centuries of mistakes regarding our approach to the people who live in the middle east. More violence will not solve the issue, but rather will plant seeds that will grow and grow and wreak more havoc for generations to come.

Trump calls it a “more muscular approach to foreign policy”. All I see is a more violent approach. A more rash approach. A more arrogant approach.

I’m not even convinced by the Just Was theory, and this seems to go beyond that, because at least Just War theory requires a reasonable chance at winning. To engage ISIS and North Korea, and Syria who are supported by Russia… that is a ridiculous move.

I can suddenly reasonably consider wars and conscription again. How would I live if my loved ones were harmed? How would I find the courage to continue in the face of such monumental violence, and hatred? Would I be able to face it with the faith and love and courage of Bonhoeffer?

More and more, he is the person who shows me how life can be lived in the face of outrageous injustice, and how faith can sustain. Ultimately, our home is in God. No amount of pain or anguish or death can have any affect on that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am at home, in a peaceful environment, warm in my pyjamas, watching Harry Potter on the TV, connected to the world via my computer, full from home-made pizza, gulping all the water I want (pretty thirsty after that pizza).  My biggest fear for the present is that I will wake up tired in the morning.

I don’t think I often realise just how extremely fortunate I am to be in this situation.

http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/goback

Go Back To Where You Came From

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.
John Milton, Paradise Lost

 

In Christianity, we are taught that we are born in sin – we are born inherently sinful, inherently bad.

Not only us, but everyone else.

 

In Tibetan Buddhism, we are taught that we are born inherently good, with a true nature that cannot be stained.

Not only us, but eveyone else.

Think of how these attitudes affect not only how we perceive ourselves, but also how we perceive others.

From which paradigm does love flow more naturally?

I think the Buddhists are on to something with this one…

My Easter (Photo) Journey

Happy Easter, my friends.

I have taken this Easter break to visit my family in Tasmania.  This is especially wonderful at this time because my dad is an Anglican priest, so I have been able to engage in the Church’s celebration of Holy Week and Easter in a way I wound not have been able to had I been at home at my local parish. This is in part due to the fact that I am the daughter of the priest here, so I get access to the behind the scenes workings and instant involvement if I wish, but it is also due to the fact that dad’s churchmanship is exactly the kind that moves my soul. My local parish is sweet and I love the people, but dad’s style if very “high church”, very Anglo-Catholic, full of ritual and sacred music. The kind of church that doesn’t try to ‘bring God to the people’ so much as to ‘bring the people to God’.  And by that I am indeed lifted up and my soul inspired.

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Good evening dear friends.

Sunday evening… such a lovely time. I am sipping my rose and vanilla tea, in my pyjamas, winding down for bed. I love Sundays.  It’s wonderful how refreshing I find this day that starts with Church.  Only a few years ago I wouldn’t have believed it – Church, how boring! But now I can almost feel my soul being refreshed, and a wonderful Peace washing over me.

I am loving my Buddhist meditation classes. Last week we watched a teaching by Sogyal Rinpoche (who wrote The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying) where he spoke about love. My soul said ‘yes, now we have gotten to the point’. No matter how confused I get, how caught up with little worries that look huge, there is some deep, unaltering part of me that recognises that Love is the only truth. I just need to be reminded of it sometimes – not my ears or my mind, but my soul.  Because it is not my mind that recognises this truth.  It is my soul.

And now, it is time for another set of my Third Order Formation notes, for those who are interested…

The First Aim of the Order

To make our Lord known and loved everywhere.

The Order is founded on the conviction that Jesus Christ is the perfect revelation of God; that true life has been made available to us through his Incarnation and Ministry, by his Cross and Resurrection, and by the sending of his Holy Spirit. The Order believes that it is the commission of the church to make the gospel known to all, and therefore accepts the duty of bringing others to know Christ, and of praying and working for the coming of the Kingdom of God.

The primary aim for us as tertiaries is therefore to make Christ known. This shapes our lives and attitudes to reflect the obedience of those whom our Lord chose to be with him and sent out as his witnesses. Like them, by word and example, we bear witness to Christ in our own immediate environment and pray and work for the fulfilment of his command to make disciples of all nations.

 

To “make our Lord loved and known everywhere.” How do we do this?

If I, who call myself a Christian, feel uncomfortable around those who, in their faith, voice loudly their opinions and exhort others to agree, I can only imagine how those who do not have a predisposition to Christianity would feel upon encountering such orations.

This, of course, is not solely a product of Christianity; it would apply to many religions, and, uncomfortably enough, also to marketing in general.   And I guess that’s exactly what that is. Some people do try to “sell” Christianity to others. And perhaps for some people that is something they respond to. Who am I to say?

But I am not one for pressuring others to believe what I believe, precisely because I believe it – I don’t know for certain.  It works for me (mostly), but who is to say that how other people approach God (or don’t approach God) is wrong?  I am not sure how this puts me with the church, but I believe God is bigger than Christianity.

Mum has told me stories that when I was young – 4 or 5? – and was going to Sunday school, I would ask mum questions about what I had learned at church.  How can only Christians go to heaven? How can it be that you have to believe in Jesus to get there? What if you were from another religion, from another country where you were born into that religion and everyone thought that one was the right one – how could God not accept them?  Even if someone did tell them about Jesus, if they stayed faithful to their religion, how could God reject them for that, when they believed they were doing the right thing?

I can imagine that, were I in the position of a godhead, I would accept these people who were not Christian, but lived according to their own faith. I would also accept people who didn’t believe in God but who had led good lives, trying to be kind and fair – because in their way, they too live according to their faith.

And if I feel that I, a flawed and selfish human, would find it in my heart to accept them, then I believe that God, the all-merciful and the all-loving, would do that and more. I suspect He would welcome even those I would have difficulty considering.

“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold” (John 10:16) – to me, this verse implies it. I read ‘this fold’ as being those who follow Jesus.  More than this belongs to God.  “I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice” – this does not signify to me the voice of Jesus himself, but rather that voice within that moves us, that we may think of as the Holy Spirit, or the voice of Christ within. In Religious Studies for my HSC, we learnt that in Judaism there exists the idea that God speaks to you through your conscience (without having access to my text books at the moment, though, I cannot provide any reference for that information). If this is true, then we each have the voice of God with us – Christian, Pagan, and atheist alike.

The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, said, “There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.” I had a discussion about this with one of my friends who is an atheist. I respect her atheism – she doesn’t put down religion or people who believe in God. Her atheism is quiet and personal, and she doesn’t try to convert others to her opinion.  She has a genuine interest in how someone could believe in a God, and I was interested in how she could feel so surely that there wasn’t one (I find agnosticism much easier to understand than atheism).  So, we have had a wonderful dialogue, each explaining what brings us to our ideas, and each gaining insight into the other’s perspective.  Our discussion came to the conclusion that “if you’re kind to others, you’re doing it right.”

I don’t mind that she’s an atheist. She’s a lovely person whom I have never felt has passed any judgement on me for what I believe – so in that sense I feel more comfortable with her than with many Christians.  But if her not being Christian makes her not good enough in God’s eyes, then God is missing out.  And I really think more highly of God than to believe that of Him.  So… I guess that means that I don’t see the need to convert others to Christianity.  If you’re kind to others, you’re doing it right.

I had a friend in high school who converted to Christianity when she was about 16.  She then proceed to tell another atheist friend in our group that she was ‘going to hell’ for not being Christian.  Unsurprisingly, a lot of people in the group distanced themselves from this newly-Christian friend and definitely didn’t think any better of Christianity.

So, if I think Christianity is not necessary for everyone, or that another faith, or even no faith at all, can be just as acceptable, how does that fit in with the duty to “make the Gospel known to all”? It probably would be useful to clarify exactly what ‘the gospel’ is.  Jesus taught the gospel during his life time, so I do not think it’s  Jesus’ life story and crucifixion.  In my understanding, ‘sharing the gospel’ isn’t telling people that Jesus died for our sins, but rather that God is Love. This was the wonderful revelation that Jesus taught – that God was not vengeful and angry, but full of Love and Mercy.  This news I am happy to share.

If someone is interested in hearing about and discussing my beliefs, I will share them, but it seems useless to me to try to tell someone who has no interest.  If I do fall into discussion with someone else about beliefs, I always make sure to hear theirs too, and to demonstrate that I pass no negative judgement on their choice of faith, whatever it may be.  If people feel accepted rather than attacked, they generally seem more willing to hear my thoughts without getting defensive. We exchange ideas and at the end of the conversation both of us have new perspectives to contemplate.  Maybe these exchanges have some impact on the other person, maybe they don’t – but I have found it interesting to discover that most people I talk to do believe in something, even if they don’t identify with a religion, and that those who believe in nothing (which in itself is a form of belief) are still beautiful people.

I suspect upbringing has a lot to do with it.  If you are brought up in an atheist household, there doesn’t seem a lot to draw you to Christianity.  I think if I had not been brought up in my Christian family I wouldn’t be associated with Christianity either.  I would find God through other means.

Back to the ‘Good News’ – that God is Love.  This does not say “God is loving” or “God loves”. It says ‘God is Love’. He actually IS Love. Or ‘the Universe is Love’, or ‘There is only Love’ – whatever wording people feel comfortable with, so long as they can conceive of this ‘Love’, since that is God, after all. So, I don’t believe I need to go around converting people to Christianity, but I do believe that it is my duty as a Christian to help bring that experience of Love to other people, and that doesn’t usually happen by preaching at them.

For this reason, I appreciate the emphasis St Francis puts on ‘preaching by example’. In the formation notes, there is a story of St Francis taking one of the younger brothers out to the village to “preach to the people”. Once there, Francis “spoke with them and joked with them” and then went to leave the village.  When the brother questioned him saying “we haven’t yet preached to the people,” Francis replied saying, “If they do not see our blessed Lord in our lives, they will certainly not see him in our words”. And I agree.  For those who do not know God, telling people about Him isn’t going to mean all that much.  It surely is far better to show Him to them – by living in Love, we live in God, and by living in God, we can share God with others by means of our own lives, and by the Love that resides in us and that we reside in.

When asked about his interpretation of ‘If you proclaim not to the wicked their wickedness, I will require their soul at your hand’ (Ezek,, 3.18), St Francis said, “you should be so on fire with life and holiness that the light of your example and the manner of your speaking would be a reproach to the wicked.  So, as I understand it, your life shining and your goodness spreading like a sweet odour will proclaim to the wicked their own wickedness.”

I do try to do this. Of course sometimes my ‘good example’ makes no difference to anyone, and sometimes it is me who is ‘wicked’, to use the terminology given. Sometimes, however, I can see it has some effect.

If from my life someone decides being Christian might be a good thing, then that is good. If someone ceases to judge Christianity harshly because of my life, then that is good too.  If someone thinks ‘perhaps I should be kinder’ because of my actions, good.  If someone simply feels something positive because of my actions, good. If my actions and my life have no affect at all on anyone else, still good – at least I am leading a better life by trying to reflect God’s Love.

By aiming to share God by our life and our example rather than by our words, we gain a sense of responsibility to live well.  It is a practice of living where we live consciously, being aware of every action, word and thought and considering how we might make the best decisions.  I have a theory that one is not without ‘sin’ until every thought we have has the nature of Love, and every decision, word and action is in the nature of Love (sin is after all the state of being separated from God, and since God is Love, by moving toward Love, we move away from sin). I am certainly not without sin, but the only way to grow closer to God is by trying to grow towards Love. This method of Christianity is the only path on which I can feel sincere, the only way I can approach my faith and feel that I am living it and that it is my centre.  And I believe that that Love is more powerful than any words we might say to others about God, since that Love is God, there to see in our lives.
So, now to wait and see what my novice counsellor thinks of my thoughts… It is a bit scary saying all this to a priest when I know it doesn’t exactly conform to the Church’s stand on things… Here’s hoping…

Quar’an Burning.

This breaks my heart.

I have so many thoughts on this, so much anger.

But rather condemn you, say you are a bad person, I must seek to understand.

You’re not setting out to be evil; I know you are only doing what you believe is right. In you mind, you are acting for God. I happen to disagree with you very, very strongly. But we all act according to what we believe is right. In this, then, you and I are not so very different.

So rather than let my anger turn to hate, I must turn it towards pity.  I feel sorry for you hate-filled thinking.  When you are filled with hate, there is no room for love.  And that is a very sad state to be in.

“Our aim is to make an awareness of the radical element of Islam. Obviously it is terrible any time people are murdered or killed. I think that on the other hand, it shows the radical element of Islam,” [Terry Jones] said.
Are you so blinded, poor man, to not see the irony of your words?

My Quar’an is remaining safely on my top shelf (above head level, as is the customary sign of respect for the Quar’an, I believe) and I hope that by welcoming it into my home, sitting it beside my Bibles, I can offset, if only slightly, the further damage you have just done for Chrisian-Muslim relations, my dear, misguided Terry.

When we are all again aware of the ultimate truth of God, and we all see clearly, you and I will embrace as friends, and this dark moment in your soul’s history will have fallen away and we will see that we are same once more, as it always was, is, and will be.

It is important that I do not condemn you, as you condemn others.

Underneath all this mess, our egos, our ideas, our psyches – underneath all of it, we are the same. We are one. We are God. Nothing but God. It is God that lives in you. It is God that lives as you. I must remember that. And honour my faith in that.

I disagree with your actions, but I send you love. Love only thing that will help you.

And that is my practice.

Possession

A few things lately have led me to think about the amount of stuff I have.

First there is it Queensland floods (so devastating that the flooding in Northern NSW, Victoria AND Tasmania – every state on the east coast – aren’t really getting much attention). So many people lost all their belongings, although some were lucky and were able to take what was important to them. I would have no chance of saving all the things I feel attached to. There are too many.

Then yesterday I helped a friend move house in a hurry. We (she and four of her friends, including me) rallied around, assembling boxes, putting her stuff in them and loading the boxes in our cars. Everything she owned fitted in 4 cars. I was surprised she had that much – it didn’t look it in the house. But I know there would be NO chance of my fitting all my belongings in just four cars.

When I was in Europe in 2008, I had my hand luggage stolen, including my laptop (with all my photos on it), my video camera and my travel journal. Flying out of Ireland, my luggage was overweight (i.e. over Ryan Air’s 15kg limit) and I had to drag it over to the bin and throw out many things I didn’t want to – things I loved, like shoes and books and clothes. Then when I arrived in Scotland, my suitcase had been lost. Fortunately for me it was found and eventually returned, but at the time I didn’t know if it would be. I had just had to face forced detachment three times within a week. It was a very difficult time, but the message I was being given was clear: I had to learn to let go of material things.

If I feel attached to so much, I think it would be a better to release that attachment voluntarily and with good will, than face the possibility of having that attachment severed by circumstances out of my control. My attachment to the material holds me back. I would like to have less.

In four years I would like to move house, so I think it would be a good idea to spend the next four years working on getting rid of a lot of things. I think it is a hard task ahead. I do tend to get very sentimental about things. All the memories attached to things make them precious to me. So hopefully I can get rid of a fair bit, but there will be things I will have to store, out of sight, lest I jettison things I should be keeping.

And yet I am still spending money buying Harry Potter collectors card.   Alas.  (But they are so fun to collect! ^_^)

Welcoming in the New Year

Let me begin by wishing everyone a very happy new beginning as this fresh new year commences.  I know I plan to make the most of the clean slate that a new year offers.

I have not made any resolutions as such, but rather goals for this years.  Things I would like to cultivate this year so that by this time next year I am further down my path of growth and learning.
My goals include:

  • renewed commitment to vegetarianism;
  • choosing of herbal tea rather than coffee;
  • priority given to daily prayer/meditation;
  • cultivation of healthy sleeping patterns;
  • commencement of cello lessons;
  • a trial of a more limited wardrobe.

I was vegetarian for many years, but that has fallen by the wayside since my trip to France in 2008.  I feel I would like to return to it.

My cello lessons start in march!

A very talented friend of mine is going to make me a simple black skirt for my limited wardrobe trial.

That, along with black trousers and black or white blouses should give me some room to trial it.  I do not know how I will go.  I suspect sometimes it will feel wonderful and natural and easy, and other times I am sure I will doubt my decision.  Hence the ‘trial’. But I would like to simplify, and this is one way to start the process.

I welcomed the new year with family and friends.  A BBQ, a sword fight in the garden, a couple of Vodka mudshakes, and the Sydney fireworks on TV.  It was quiet and lovely.  Almost everyone seemed tired except me.  I love a reason to celebrate and be merry. (I guess one never really needs a reason – but sometimes a reason helps inspire). I started to consider staying at home next New Year’s Eve and having or attending a party with lots of friends, but then I read this article and I realised that would be far more truly satisfying and inspiring way to begin a new year.

While many people will count down to 2011 with noisemakers and song tonight, a small pocket of Vancouver will ring in the new year in quiet meditation and soft Tibetan chants.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Buddhists+ring+Year+very+quietly/4044866/story.html#ixzz19hwLaOfM

So perhaps I will quietly honour the Tibetan lunar new year in such a meditative way on March 5th, since I did not find this thought in time for the Gregorian solar new year. I did say I was searching for the moon, after all . . .

In the Buddha Walk at The Crystal Castle, Mullumbimby, NSW, Australia

Surrounded by friends

I am very fortunate. I have wonderful friends and wonderful family, and I have been able to spend this Christmas with a number of them. I love them all very much, and I adore having my wonderful Canadian friend out here to share this loving time. What I have noticed, however, is that I am beginning to crave solitude.

I can feel a yearning to be alone for a while, to stop worrying about whether anyone is bored, or trying to tell me something unspoken, or whether there is work that needs to be done that I am not helping with. Whenever there has been a moment of peace, I have realised that my peace here in this setting has consequences for other people. It could be that my dear friend is at a loss, as a guest in not only a foreign house, but a foreign country. It could be that my mother is working herself to the bone trying to run a house that is currently supporting four people (which could swell to nine within the next few days) while I sit creating more work by my very presence – shedding dust and consuming food.

I find myself denied of solitude, and craving the time of prayer and reflection that I am used to. It is a good reminder of how important that time is, and how much my soul values it. It certainly isn’t something indulgent, but something necessary.

So everyone else is about to go to bed. And I will stay up for a few minutes and just breathe. When one thirsts for water, one drinks. When one thirsts for the Spirit, one breathes. For me, this intentional, focused breathing is sweet and it is satisfying and it is renewing. There are so many ways of communing with The Source, but for me, this is what must be done, and I do it gladly.

On The First Day of Christmas

And so another Christmas day comes to its end. And what a lovely day it was.

I got up for church after 4 hours’ sleep.  The sermon about not making Christmas all about the birth of a child some 2000 years ago, but about the unconditional love and forgiveness that is with us now, and that this is a time for refocusing on the joy and love that the birth of Jesus symbolises, rather than about the details of the Nativity legend. It’s nice to be able to listen to a sermon without having arguments and frustration running through my mind and heart, which happens sometimes when a sermon clashes with my experience of spirit.

It is now nearing 10:30 pm and I am still going. And only on 2 cups of coffee.

We have never been a particularly wealthy family, but I am my mother’s only child, and growing up it was just her and me, so I have always been spoilt (but, I might add, always grateful). This year I was given such lovely gifts, my most prized of which are a treble/alto recorder and the book ‘Harry Potter: Film Wizardry’, the latter I have been wanting since Logospilgrim enthused about it on her live journal post.

Thus I passed the afternoon alternating between swooning over this amazing new book, and teaching myself how to play the treble/alto recorder (which may have had the unfortunate side effect of making the ears of those close by bleed profusely.  There was some awful screeching going on while I tried to master the higher notes).  The screeching was a shame, but the sound when everything goes right is so beautiful and so mellow.  I am greatly looking forward to the day when I can make some beautiful music emit from that instrument.

I also had some more of my eggnog.

I may have been a bit over zealous with the spices on the top, but cinnamon, nutmeg and clove are my absolute favourite flavours, so I indulged.

And that, my friends, was how I spent my first day of Christmas.
Tomorrow my dear friend from Canada, Josée, arrives up here and so there’s a wonderful something to look forward to for the Second day of Christmas.
And on the Third day of Christmas, my closest friend, crystaldance arrives with her mum.
And I’m hoping that the Fourth day of Christmas brings sunshine. 🙂

Blessings and peace to you all.
I hope your First day of Christmas is filled with joy and love.

And now, before I turn in for the night, I am going to go outside with the last of my eggnog and appreciate the lovely lights on the house while being refreshed by the light rain.

Lexi
xox