Thinking About a Spiritual Path?

You see a lot of promises out there about the benefits of a spiritual path.

“Discover your true essence.”
“Improve your concentration and awareness.”
“Find peace of mind and a better life.”
“Establish and deepen your relationship with God/Being/Spirit.”
“And those fabulous mystical experiences!!”

These are all quite possible.  At the start however, it helps many to let go of many assumptions about yourself and spirituality.  As you develop spiritually, you will be surprised as you discover levels and levels of false assumptions you have used to run your life.  Our beliefs about ourselves and the world can cloud our ability to connect with our innate spiritual nature.

Many people see suffering, or other habitual ways of interacting with the world, as their very identity and they cannot even consider letting go of them.   Likewise there are those deeply attached to the idea that this world is hopelessly terrible, as well as those who look forward to spiritual experiences as a kind of Disneyland, with loads of thrills and flashes of exciting visions.

Continue reading “Thinking About a Spiritual Path?”

Spirituality At The Supermarket

A friend suggested I write a blog on spirituality in the supermarket. Having recently experienced an anger episode in my supermarket I thought it was an ideal space to observe one’s thoughts and emotions.

But he had something deeper in mind. He spoke of observing the last live lobster in a tank of cloudy supermarket water and thought (THINKING) “The man taking care of the lobsters is probably doing the best he can.” I laughed.

I thought he was being sarcastic about the motives of the lobster man. But, no, he was consciously switching his thoughts to a possible positive aspect of the what was a bad situation for the lobster, which kept him from dwelling on the sadness. Continue reading “Spirituality At The Supermarket”

You Are Dichotomously Correct

who's right & who's wrong?

Different points of view are swarming about. Our divisions have divisions. What can we do? Here’s an old story from Central Asia.

In Islam, the Nasrudin tales star Nasrudin, a character who plays the wise man or the fool to illustrate automatic thought patterns of the human condition. This is a story of Nasrudin and his clerk. (An identical story, starring the Big Rabbi and the Little Rabbi, is found in the Hasidic tales of Judaism.)

Nasrudin Becomes a Judge

Nasrudin had studied long and hard to become a judge and was finally ready to hear his first case. He sat at a table in the marketplace, his clerk beside him, ready to settle a dispute between two important men in the village. The villagers watched, eager to hear the resolution. Continue reading “You Are Dichotomously Correct”

Are We Addicted to Fake Outrage?

We define anger as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.  All of us get angry.

Water anger for a while, and it turns into rage, then outrage. Simmer outrage over fire, then cool it, and it congeals into hatred. Anger passes, hatred sticks to the pan.

Media and politicians are busy simmering outrage. This is good for business. These mass outrages we see today are not real. They are fake.

Real fake. Continue reading “Are We Addicted to Fake Outrage?”

5 Lessons from My Recent Buddhist Retreat

Last week I attended a Soto Zen retreat at Shasta Abbey set in the mountains of California. Eighteen years ago I brought my comparative religion students to this same Abby so they could experience this modern version of monastic Buddhism.

At that time, I had already converted to Sufism. Since then my practice of Islamic Sufism has matured. On this trip, I felt I was returning with fresh eyes.

Here are my thoughts on five similarities between this retreat and Sufi retreats I’ve attended. Continue reading “5 Lessons from My Recent Buddhist Retreat”