Posts Tagged ‘Eckhart Tolle’

Draw Out Thy Soul to the Hungry

The last couple of weeks have been an interesting roller coaster, though it could probably be said that each and every week is a roller coaster here on the mother ship that is our Earth.  I am knee deep in starting up a business – which I’ll briefly touch on at some point in the future as it relates to the times and seasons we’re now approaching – and have been spending a fair amount of time noodling different ideas, iterations and options.  Sometimes I get to the point where I don’t really know what to address here on this blog.

This [blog] truly has been something which was created and started as a way to journal my life and thoughts for this year 2010, not knowing if I would/will go on with it after that point.  I have come to appreciate many blogs out there on the ephemeral internet we so much rely on in today’s society but they all, in one way or another, leave a noticeable void.  It has taken me a while to understand why and, even though I do not fully understand this void and what it means to me personally, I hope that mine leaves a void in your life as well.  Why this is so will be explained later on, but suffice it to say that everything you encounter in life, everything you experience, everything you do, should be seen as a mere stop along the road of life.  Nothing short of Christ and Zion should ever be seen as a destination.  Though it is true that there are plateaus along the way, the rest stops we see on virtually every interstate highway should be just that in our life…mere resting stops.  We all need them.  But we must all leave them, too.  They are never meant to be our end all or anything more than a night’s stay in some hotel room in the middle of this journey.  Therefore, no matter what you find here, rest assured that it will never save.  It will never exalt.

There is a reason why I lay this out.  That reason is a bit difficult to explain, but I will try.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve met some wonderful – new to me – people who are helping me along my journey to Christ.  They do not know that they are helping me, as I’ve never been one to express my gratitude in such evangelical terms.  I am the worse for it, but I do offer silent gratitude when in secret, which I hope eventually reaches that person, in some karmic way.

That being said, one of the greatest things I currently struggle with is the source of the truth I seek for.  As my blog states, and as some of you may have wondered, the “truthmarche” portion of this blog is so entitled as to call upon the French word for “marche” (I’m having a hard time with accents on this keyboard, so that should read “marsh-ay”).  A marche, for anyone familiar with other cultures, is a daily or weekly event much like a farmer’s market, though much larger and more popular.  Vendors come from all around, set up their booths, and customers come and pick through and over the things they want to find.  Truthmarch means, to me, a chance I have – personally – to come to the source of truth, find them, pick them up or out from the crap that surrounds it, and use it or apply it to my life.

This is a struggle at times because, as many of you may have noted, truth is all too often veiled in human understanding, relative meanings, or, worse, purposefully hidden from the world.  How this relates to some of those people I’ve recently met is that often, at this stage in life, how I find truth is predicated on a couple of things.  Most of the truth I find only comes after I ask for it…but rarely (not yet, at least) does it come in the form of direct content from Christ, the Father or any other divine being.  Usually, it’s through those that read this blog, friends I speak with, websites (blogs) I visit, books I read and so on.

I admittedly struggle with the reception of truth in this manner.  My struggle largely lies with trying to understand at what point am I relying on faith for the truth, and at what point am I relying on the books?  Is there a difference?  If I ask God for truth and God, in His ultimate wisdom, wants to give me the truth of such-and-such a thing, then how will He give it?  Will He give it to me in the form of revelation?  Will it happen in the form of something I stumble across – be it a book, website, blog, etc?  How do I differentiate between something that is from faith, and something that is from seek[ing] diligently?

The reason for these questions has only, once again, come to the forefront of my mind because of something one of these recent acquaintances stated.  Their statement was based on having God fill voids, fill our minds, fill our hearts, teach us, inspire us, etc., and refraining from seeking validation from others, other groups, other websites, other people.  So, in thinking on this person’s response, the questions I previously posed once again came to mind.

Where and how does God inspire and teach us?  This is no vain question…I really want to know.  I really want to know how to learn by faith.  What does it mean to learn by faith?  How does God fill my own voids as I seek to replace the cracked foundations of my childhood with stones hewn by Christ himself?

When I think of voids being filled, Nephi’s story is the one which typically comes to mind.  His father, in the opening chapters of 1 Nephi, relates a dream or vision he had on the subject of God’s love.  Nephi heard his father’s story, then turned to validation from God.  Laman and Lemuel heard the same story, but turned to Nephi for validation…and hardened their hearts.  This then leads to Nephi receiving instructions on how to build a ship…a boat built after the manner of the Lord (verse 8).

Though this is all well and good, what did Nephi do during the “many days” they were in the land of Bountiful?  Did those “many days” have anything to do with his ability to hear the voice of the Lord?  Even this line of thinking, in my view, is faulty.  These questions – and similar questions – are all built off the foundation of one person, one person acting for him or herself with disregard to others.  Is it fair to go down a route where we consider only what Nephi was doing for Nephi and in the best interests of Nephi?

I have a friend who was hit by a train.  Literally.  In the midst of that experience he passed away and died.  Some of the things he remembers from his visit to the other side was how he saw his young family – his wife and kids – and the suffering they would experience with him dying.  He remembers, then, being given the choice to remain there in the afterlife, where it was blissful behind compare, or coming back to earth.  He remembers seeing the agony – and feeling the agony – of his family at the almost-loss of their father and husband.  He chose to return to earth, knowing what he was giving up, because he couldn’t imagine putting his family through that, even though it would have been great for him to remain in the afterlife.  He chose to return to earth in order to help others…

How does this relate to this post?  My question is such that I often focus on what is best for me, making sure that I’m not trying to stoke my ego and do things for my own benefit, or, conversely, not do things because I perceive the doing of said things will stoke my ego.

In listening to a book recommended to me by one of these recent acquaintances, I learned something new.  In the closing chapters of A New Earth, he discusses enthusiasm and how it relates to our work and what we do.  He stated how we are not to go to work to seek to be rich, to seek to be popular, to be a famous actor or actress, to be a famous writer or other aspirations.  Rather, we set out to do work that inspires others.  Be it a waitress, garbage man, executive or whatever your passion in life, we do it to inspire others.  To bring them into a state of mindfulness where the present has real meaning.

That, to me, applies to this situation.  Regardless of everything I’ve touched on and written above, do we do things for selfish reasons – because it will or will not stoke my ego – or do we do things to inspire others?

Tolle states it as follows:

Enjoyment of what you are doing, combined with a goal or vision that you work toward, becomes enthusiasm. Even though you have a goal, what you are doing in the present moment needs to remain the focal point of your attention; otherwise, you fall out of alignment with universal purpose.

Make sure your vision or goal is not an inflated image of yourself and therefore a concealed form of ego, such as wanting to become a movie star, a famous writer, or a wealthy entrepreneur. Also make sure your goal is not focused on having this or that, such as a mansion by the sea, your own company, or ten million dollars in the bank. An enlarged image of yourself or a vision of yourself having this or that are all static goals and therefore don’t empower you. Instead, make sure your goals are dynamic, that is to say, point toward an activity that you are engaged in and through which you are connected to other human beings as well as to the whole.

Instead of seeing yourself as a famous actor or writer and so on, see yourself inspiring countless people with your work and enriching their lives. Feel how that activity enriches or deepens not only your life but that of countless others. Feel yourself being an opening through which energy flows from the unmanifested Source of all life through you for the benefit of all.

In closing, I think there are a couple of scriptures which, paired together, get to the point I’ve struggled to arrive at.  Wherever we’re at, whatever we’re doing, there are people who need inspiration, who need the light of Christ in their lives.  If we are to establish Zion, seeking after Zion in our solitary manner, then we’ll never get there.  Zion will only come as we create a unity of faith, as we uplift others and touch their hearts.

Philippians 1:27:

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ … that ye astand fast in one spirit, with bone cmind dstriving together for the faith of the gospel;

D&C 108:7

…  astrengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings.

And, lastly Isaiah 58:10-11:

10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the ahungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light brise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

11 And the Lord shall aguide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in bdrought, and cmake fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a dspring of water, whose waters fail not.

12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

I think this last one is especially beautiful.  It will play an integral role in my next post as well.  How often have I approached situations wondering only what I can get out of them, how the conversations effect me personally (both from how it will stoke my ego or give me some knowledge I needed), how often have I failed “draw out [my] soul” to the spiritually hungry because I was afraid to say something, because I didn’t want to join the conversation, because I was shy or too proud. How often have I been a coward, afraid of teaching by the Spirit and thereby chasing the Spirit away, drawing in my soul from those that were hungry or afflicted?

Returning to the picture I used with this post.  I took this picture in the middle of Death Valley just last weekend, a couple of miles west of Stovepipe Wells.  Several things about Death Valley impressed me.  The landscape was phenomenal.  From towering mountains, to a small oasis (Scotty’s Castle), to sand dunes, dry lake beds, canyons and such.  Amazing diversity.  What also was impressed upon my mind was the dryness of the area.  Water, it would seem, was nowhere to be found.  The recommendations to travel with plenty of water is very apropos.  But, in relation to this post, this flower stuck out to me.  Here is a small, seemingly insignificant flower flourishing in the most difficult and trying of circumstances.  Is it, too, like many of us, in need of someone to draw out their soul to it, to feed and water it with the Living Bread and Living Water, or at the very least point out where those living essentials can be found?  Only you know the answer to that question, as it’s intensely individual in it’s application.

May God grant us all the ability and Spirit to seek and establish Zion by drawing out our soul for those hungry and afflicted souls where we can, of whom I am one.

I recently took a weekend and headed over to California to attend a small conference on brick ovens.  While there in California I took some time to explore the Big Sur Coastway and State Route 1 that runs north and south along the Pacific Ocean.  While there, I snapped this photo of a bee exploring a flower outside of the Hearst Castle.

You can see more of the pictures I took here and here.

The reason for posting this specific picture is because I followed a link at the WfZ blog.  That link takes you to a small powerpoint presentation which talks about the importance of individuality, uniqueness and personalities with respect to our children.  Within that powerpoint is a discussion on bees and the living miracle they are.  Bees, it seems, are unique in that their wing structure, to us humans, is odd, seemingly too small and, at least to earlier views on the laws of aviation, too small to support the body of the bee in the air.  The bee, nevertheless, defied our human understanding for many years, carrying on in it’s ability to fly and pollinate the world.  Only recently, it seems, humans have caught up and begun to understand that the bee is able to create a vortex with it’s small wings which allows it to fly.  Nevertheless, for decades (centuries?) humans have seen the bee as an anomaly.  A living, flying miracle which defied our finite understanding.

The application of this idea should not be lost on you, the reader, or me.  How often do we decry something as impossible if we haven’t seen it happen in person?  Worse, how often do we decry something as impossible, even though it happens in front of our eyes?  In discussing these impossibilities, it is important to note that there are many miracles that happen in front of our eyes every day.  From the unseen – photosynthesis – to the seen – a child learning to walk.  While it is important to note these everyday miracles, the miracles of which I speak are of a different variety.  The creation of the earth, the creation of man, the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to see, etc.  These are the miracles of which I speak in this article.

The book of Fourth Nephi, chapter 1 verse 5, describes these miracles as follows:

5 And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did aheal the sick, and braise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of cmiracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.

Moroni, among others, also spoke powerfully about miracles in the closing chapters of the Book of Mormon. What he wrote, though, was not written from an historical viewpoint.  It was not written about a people which had already lived when he wrote it.  It was written, as most of his stuff was written, about a people who would live in the distant future.  A people who would live to see the “great and marvelous work” come to pass.  A people who would be led to err by power hungry churches and leaders.  In fine, he was speaking directly to us in our day and, more specifically, us of the LDS faith who have been given the record on which his words are written.

Specifically, Mormon chapter 9 contains the following lecture about miracles:

10 And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.

11 But behold, I will show unto you a God of amiracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same bGod who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.

•  •  •

15 And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do ano miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.

•  •  •

17 Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his aword the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was bcreated of the cdust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought?

18 And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty amiracles? And there were many bmighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.

19 And if there were amiracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he bchangeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.

20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do amiracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should btrust.

The Book of Ether (12:12) contains a similar cry:

12 For if there be no afaith among the children of men God can do no bmiracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.

Later, again, Moroni adds some more information on miracles in Moroni, chapter 7:

27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have amiracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to bclaim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?

•  •  •

29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have aangels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

•  •  •

35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with apower and great glory at the last bday, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?

•  •  •

37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that amiracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of bunbelief, and all is vain.

What do these verses have to do with us?  I’d argue that they have everything to do with us.  I have frequently heard some (myself included) lament about the lack of spiritual gifts in today’s world, generally, and the LDS church, specifically.  We rarely, if ever, see people being raised from the dead, the blind having their sight restored to them, the deaf being able to hear, angelic visitations, and on and on.  In its place, members of all shapes and sizes simply reply that the lack of these gifts is merely the result of God’s will.  Since it doesn’t happen, it must be God’s will that it doesn’t happen.

In the place of faith based priesthood blessings, we give blessings with convenient “outs.”  We tell the recipient of the blessing that it’s contingent on their faith and the will of God.  We do this for many reasons, but mostly because (a) we’re scared that we don’t truly hold the Priesthood, (b) we’re scared that we’re not speaking inspired words, (c) we’re scared that we don’t have adequate faith and (c) we’re scared of miracles.  It may actually be a combination of all of the above, or something entirely different, but the following story may help relate it somewhat.

A year or so ago I had the privilege of listening to Parley P. Pratt’s autobiography for the first time as I commuted to and from work.  One particular passage from his authobiography still sticks with me, in my feeble memory.  It has to do with this very idea and I feel it will teach the principle better than I ever could:

When we first arrived we lived in the open air, with out any other shelter whatever. Here I met brother Joseph Smith, from whom I had been separated since the close of the mock trial in Richmond the year previous. Neither of us could refrain from tears as we embraced each other once more as free men. We felt like shouting hosannah in the highest, and giving glory to that God who had delivered us in fulfillment of His word to

His servant Joseph the previous autumn, when we were being carried into captivity in Jackson County, Missouri. He blessed me with a warmth of sympathy and brotherly kindness which I shall never forget. Here also I met with Hyrum Smith and many others of my fellow prisoners with a glow of mutual joy and satisfaction which language will never reveal. Father and Mother Smith, the parents of our Prophet and President, were also overwhelmed with tears of joy and congratulation; they wept like children as they took me by the hand; but, O, how different from the tears of bitter sorrow which were pouring down their cheeks as they gave us the parting hand in Far West, and saw us dragged away by fiends in human form.

After the gush of feelings consequent on our happy meeting had subsided, I accompanied Joseph Smith over the Mississippi in a skiff to visit some friends in Montrose. Here many were lying sick and at the point of death. Among these was my old friend and fellow servant, Elijah Fordham, who had been with me in that extraordinary work in New York City in 1837. He was now in the last stage of a deadly fever. He lay prostrate and nearly speechless, with his feet poulticed; his eyes were sunk in their sockets; his flesh was gone; the paleness of death was upon him; and he was hardly to be distinguished from a corpse. His wife was weeping over him, and preparing clothes for his burial.

Brother Joseph took him by the hand, and in a voice and energy which would seemingly have raised the dead, he cried: “BROTHER FORDHAM, IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, ARISE AND WALK.” It was a voice which could be heard from house to house and nearly through the neighborhood. It was like the roaring of a lion, or the heavy thunderbolt. Brother Fordham leaped from his dying bed in an instant, shook the poultices and bandages from his feet, put on his clothes so quick that none got a chance to assist him, and taking a cup of tea and a little refreshment, he walked with us from house to house visiting other sick beds, and joining in prayer and ministrations for them, while the people followed us, and with joy and amazement gave glory to God. Several more were called up in a similar manner and were healed.

Brother Joseph, while in the Spirit, rebuked the Elders who would continue to lay hands on the sick from day to day without the power to heal them. Said he: “It is time that such things ended. Let the Elders either obtain the power of God to heal the sick or let them cease to minister the forms without the power.”

What stuck with me is that last paragraph.  There were Elders in Montrose who were giving blessings to the sick, in an effort to heal them, “day to day” without the power to heal them.  Why were they lacking in the power which Joseph so boldly possessed?  What made them different?  Were the sick not being healed because it was God’s will that they remain sick and dying, or were the sick not being healed because the Elder’s giving the blessings were lacking in power?  I will let the reader decide how they interpret what happened.

I postulate, at the end of the day, that we, as members of the Church, are so afraid of seeing miracles, so afraid of making a mistake, so afraid of being looked at as odd, weird or different, that we all run from the calling Christ has for us.

D&C, Section 121, describes this as follows:

34 Behold, there are many acalled, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

35 Because their ahearts are set so much upon the things of this bworld, and caspire to the dhonors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—

36 That the arights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be bcontrolled nor handled only upon the cprinciples of righteousness.

37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to acover our bsins, or to gratify our cpride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or ddominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens ewithdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to akick against the pricks, to bpersecute the saints, and to cfight against God.

39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the anature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little bauthority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise cunrighteous dominion.

40 Hence many are called, but afew are chosen.

We are scared, perhaps rightfully so, because (a) our hearts are set on the things of the world and (b) we want men to honor us.  The Priesthood, as laid out above, can only be handled “upon principles of righteousness.”  When we lack a connection with heaven, when we lack the ability to receive revelation, when we attempt to control, in any way, another we are left to “kick against the pricks.”  Why?  Because in so doing we’ve become an enemy to God (verse 38).  We struggle so much to see and witness these miracles because we’re too busy asserting authority, clamoring for others to believe, listen and follow us.  We want so much for the “honors of men.”  We want our wives, our friends, our associates and everyone in between to listen and give heed to our words.  When they don’t, all too often we start messing around with what’s found in verses 35-39 above and, as a result, we fail to “self select.”  We’re not chosen, because we’ve failed to give all the glory to Christ.  We’ve failed to realize exactly how reliant we are upon Him, and Him alone.

Others have also recently discussed this topic.  On another blog, we read the following opinion on why miracles seem to happen less now than they did in 1835-1840 and other time periods:

I think there is a tendency to avoid discussing any contemporary occurrence of the miraculous in our individuals lives within the Church because of the frequent association of such things with deceivers and the deceived.  In contrast to that fear, Moroni affirms that angels appear only to those with “a firm mind.”  (Moroni 7: 30.)  How odd it is that we have this juxtaposition:  On the one hand, in our day it is viewed as being evidence of a weak mind, or dubious character, and on the other Moroni asserts it is evidence of a “firm mind.”  One or the other has to be incorrect.
I think such things are experienced less because we talk of them less.  As we talk of them less, we increase our doubts about such things.  Doubt and faith cannot coincide. So was Christ weak-minded or of “a firm mind?”  Was Saul of Tarsus deceived or a deceiver, or instead a godly man who received notice from heaven?  What of Joseph, Alma, Moses, Peter, Mary, Elizabeth, Agabus, and John?

Today we prefer our miracles at a distance.  When we do accept the occasional miracle, we want it to be separated by culture, time and reduced to written accounts from the deceased.  We think it’s safer that way.  Society trusts that when the miraculous has been reduced to history alone it can then safely be the stuff from which PhD’s and theologians extract the real meanings.  After all, our scientific society only trusts education, certification and licensing; not revelation, visitation and ministering of angels.  Well, even if that is not as it should be, it is at least as Nephi said it would be: “They deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men.  Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.”  (2 Nephi 28: 5-6.)

I think, in my interpretation of this response, is that fear of the miraculous is still prevalent.  We “prefer our miracles at a distance” because it is “safer that way.”  It’s less troublesome, less intrusive.  We’re less likely to be ridiculed by the outside world (both in and outside the church), we’re less likely to be viewed as crazy lunatics.  You put the certification of recognized scholars behind it, when they’re able to interpret it through their educated paradigms, and only then will it become comfortable.  Only then will we be able to say how great a miracle it was.

At the end of the day, do we view miracles as wings that are way too small for a creature to use?  Or, do we view them as enablers?   Do we view our ability to witness and see miracles as a likelihood that we aspire to, or as something relegated to other societies, other peoples, other centuries?  Do we have the faith necessary, “for it is by faith that miracles are wrought?”

Those are good questions.  Questions I admittedly do not have the answer to and questions which are very troubling to me.  Nevertheless, I hope to find positive answers for these questions.  At the end of the day, the gospel is all about us.  Do we, as individuals, view it as much?  Do we seek after the gifts we need, or are we content to let others do it for us?

Let us not forget, though, that:

“When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.” – Eckhart Tolle