“Death is not extinguishing the light, it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”
Rabindranath Tagore (May 7, 1861 – August 7, 1941)
First non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1913)
Shakespeare believed, “The valiant never taste of death but once” (Julius Caesar II,ii,32-37), but in fact we die many times while we are still alive to prepare for that final passing. The innocence of the child has to die in order to welcome the dawn of adventurous youth. Yet, if we hold on to our youth and adult life, we cannot experience the wisdom and freedom of old age.
We die to the myths and fairy tales of childhood to accept the dawn of philosophies and doctrines. But are we willing to risk dying to all that sustains us at the adult stage in order to welcome the wisdom of the sages? We thus return once again to the mystical and magical life of the child. The Kingdom of God belongs to little children.
We also know that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). The question is how far are we willing to go down ‘the rabbit hole’ to get rid of material, mental, emotional and spiritual clutter so that our lives will bear abundant fruit? We abandon our selfish insecure selves that want to control and direct life; rather we let our authentic Selves come alive and flow with life with the confidence and ease of “the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.”
If we have the courage to extinguish the light of our present way of relating with God and everything that sustains it, we will experience the dawn of an exhilarating relationship with the Infinite Logos – ‘Energy charged with Power,’ the Divine Breath, THAT!
Living a life of compassion without being attached to the outcome is not a method but a way of life. True compassion will help us realize the gift of purification and enlightenment in every painful situation and celebrate the rainbow in the heart through tears in the eyes. We open ourselves to become effective channels for the universe to affect the lives of people and the world; letting go of our ego and flowing with the rhythm of life.
True compassion does not mean that we feel miserable with those who are miserable. If we do, we just add to the misery in this world. It is not a resistance movement seeking justice but true compassion strives to attain peace through reconciliation.
The God that Jesus introduced us to, was the father of the prodigal son, the epitome of compassion. 113 out of 114 chapters of the Quran begin with Bi-Ism-i—Allah al-Rahman, “In the name of God-Compassion!” Al-Rahman is not an adjective or a characteristic of God but the Essence. It is also the Essence of every human being.
Living a life of true compassion enables parents to let go of the outcome of their children, teachers of their students, social workers and health care workers and anyone in a helping relationship to achieving change.
True compassion has the ability to sing, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen; nobody knows my sorrow” and with the same breath sing confidently, “Glory Hallelujah.”
“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.”
Rumi’s insightful thoughts are very challenging. His words are an invitation to live the fullness of life in peace and harmony. They open the door to a deeper spiritual life and the beginning of the mystical. If we let ourselves be drawn into that door our relationship with the Divine will gradually deepen until it explodes into total trust and we are forever drunk in Divine love. It is then that the total acceptance and unconditional love of God becomes an experience and a celebration!
This Divine drunkenness inspires us to die while we are still alive in order to be free from our sacred golden cages — die to the securities that come from material possessions, cultural and religious identities. In dying we are free from the chains of false havens and the transitory aspects of life. We burst forth and become one with a universal culture and turn religion into a dance of life – free from creeds, theologies and dogmas; walls begin to crumble and the whole of creation merges into a kaleidoscope of a Divine symphony. We let go of our sanctuaries and fly on the wings of the Divine power, presence and essence.
Every saint was condemned as crazy before they were canonized saints. Live Rumi’s madness just for a moment or a day and experience the ecstasy of Divine love and Divine life! Even when the ecstasy fades you will remember it as your horizon of life!
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates’ insightful and challenging statement prompts us to check our beliefs against actual facts. The messages that were given to us as little children that affects our self-worth; life experiences that have determined our self-image; social and religious norms that have created separation and hierarchies among people of different nations and cultures; media images, labels and propaganda that instill fear, hatred and prejudice against a group of people.
When Karl Marx exclaimed that religion is the opium of the people he was not condemning religion but the way religion is used to disillusion and manipulate people. This statement reflects how religion is used to sustain the rich and subdue the poor. It is critical of the life style and indomitable security of the religious powers. It condemns wars that are initiated and fought in the name of religion. In the face of ignorance and injustice religion offers a bandage response and renders the smart ones brain dead.
The fruit of the tree of knowledge and consciousness is still forbidden to humans with the threat of punishment, alienation and suffering; our divine and spiritual essence and oneness is covered with external skins that separate us by race, color, religion and a million different ways. The tree of life is now guarded by religion with flaming swords swinging in every direction.
The unexamined life can easily turn into opium that deadens the intellect and the will to respond to the human atrocities all around us. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Silence between the notes… Holy Week (Final Lenten Reflection)
“Music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” This famous saying is true in the mystery of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. As Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives singing the Passover hymn (Mk 14:26), the silence between the words of this song gives us a little window into his heart. The silence between Jesus’ prayer and the silence of God in the Agony in the Garden helps us understand the deepest relationship with God and the power of the human spirit when confronted with unfathomable pain.
We keep our eyes fixed on the heart and spirit of Jesus as he goes through his passion and pause in silence at the foot of the cross and the sepulcher. We watch the whole mystery of Jesus’ life begin to unfold in the heart of his mother Mary. In the silence at the core of her being we recognize courage and tranquility that springs from tremendous hope and a deep relationship with God. Finally, it is in the silence of the dawn that we experience the fullness of the Resurrection.
As we contemplate the mysteries of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus we come to realize that in the silence of our tears we begin to see the rainbow in our hearts and in the darkness of our lives we find our place among the stars. It is in the silence of life experiences and the silent moments in our prayer that the real presence of the Divine comes alive and we come to realize our true divine identity.
April 12, 2014
Mark 10:46 – 52 2 Cor. 4:13 – 18
In today’s reading we see Jesus on his final journey to Jerusalem and he will not walk through Jericho again. This was Bartimaeus’ last opportunity to encounter Jesus. He began to shout out and ask Jesus to help him. But once again Jesus’ close followers want to keep him away from Jesus and “STERNLY ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly.” Jesus stood still and called him to himself. The blind man threw away his beggars cloak, symbols of his past life, and “sprang up and came to Jesus.” When he experienced the loving gaze of Jesus he followed him in an ever deepening relationship with God.
St. Paul also reminds us that it is our faith, our intimate relationship with God that will be the most convincing sermon we can preach.
April 11, 2014
Mark 10: 32-45
Jesus is on his final journey to Jerusalem and he shares with his close followers for the third time about the horrendous end that is imminent. Mark gives us the typical and consistent response from Jesus’ close followers – amazement or fear but no faith! They miss that intimate relationship with God.
While Jesus is contemplating on his certain torture and death his close followers are caught up with their personal ambitions and power. Totally insensitive to what Jesus is going through, James, and his brother John, the ‘so-called’ beloved disciple come up to Jesus with an obnoxious request, “’Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you. . . Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory’” The other ten also had their eye and their hearts on these power positions. And so, “When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John”
St. Paul is convinced that his life and mission in this world is a treasure he holds in clay jars. The good that we do in our lives is God’s initiative and the fruit of our lives, God’s doing. “This extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”