Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Being Asleep And Awake

Yesterday I wasn't at my best. It was just one of those days. We all have them and yesterday it was my turn. I struggled the whole day to get out of first gear. My mind seemed dull and I felt like I was in a daze much of the day. To make it worse, I felt like I was 90 years old. Some days I can actually be a mover and a shaker at work while other days I feel like I don't know what I am doing. Today, however, is a new day and a fresh beginning. Perhaps my brain will be in gear today.

Over the weekend my son, Mike, painted the living room of my home. He is not a professional painter but you wouldn't know it from the looks of the room. He did an outstanding job. Mike is my oldest son and the father of my granddaughter, Chloe. He's very talented with his hands and tools. He is much more mechanical than I will ever be. I am a klutz with tools. I hate home remodeling or fixing anything because I am not very good at it. I am a fairly intelligent person who can't do much but think deep thoughts. I am much better at being than doing. I can write daily thoughts, a little poetry, and I'm not a bad public speaker. Just don't ask me to re-wire the house or fix the plumbing. I guess we all have our gifts and being Tim the Tool Man is not my gift. It is a gift for Mike. I have no idea how he acquired this gift anymore than I know why I can write well. The few things I am good at just seem to come to me naturally. I must admit, however, that I really wish I was one of those guys you could drop in the wilderness with a Swiss Army knife and within a few months they could build a complete log cabin.

Zen is doing what you are doing and being where you are. Sounds simple, right? It is the same with the spiritual life. The simple things....the basics....are often challenging to do on a daily basis. The reality of the spiritual life is that it is simple but difficult. What is the spiritual life? I don't always know because it is often difficult to "see" in our daily lives as evidenced in the short story below of two monks meditating.

Two monks were meditating. An older, wiser monk and a young novice. As they were meditating, the young monk kept peeking at the older monk. He did this several times. Finally, the older, wiser monk looked at him and said, "This is it. Nothing else happens.

To be a Buddha means to be an "awakened" one. In the Christian tradition, to be a contemplative is to also be an awakened one. Our spiritual practices are a means to an end. Our intention is the inner transformation and conversion that leads us to purity of heart. As an awakened one, we strive for the single minded attentiveness to what is deep within us. Like the Tom Cruise character in the "Last Samurai", we often have too many minds. Admittedly, in modern life it is quite challenging to have one mind especially when we often feel like we are losing our mind from the many demands made on us.

Even when I don't have one mind or can't "see" the spiritual in my daily life, I try to remember the following.

A small fish was swimming along. He came upon a bigger fish and asked, "Can you tell me where the ocean is?" The bigger fish said, "Are you kidding??? You're in the ocean. It's all around you. In it, we live and breathe and have our being!" So it is with God. He is like the ocean and we are fish. We spend our entire lives living in his presence. In Him, we live and breathe and have our being!


Bryan said...

Maybe you could send Mike to Lexington. I have some painting that desperately needs to be done but for some reason, I can't find the motivation. I'd rather read or do most anything else!


Michael Brown said...

I know you are well aware of how Sixes must deal with their fears. As a Nine, my cross is laziness. I work hard at my job because I have to do so. I am worthless at home. Fortunately, I have a Six wife to light a fire under me!