The Opening

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From Pema Chodron’s The Places and Scare You: “An analogy for bodhichitta [our ability to feel the pain that we share with others] is the rawness of a broken heart. Sometimes this broken heart gives birth to anxiety and panic, sometimes to anger, resentment, and blame. But under the hardness of that armor there is the tenderness of genuine sadness. This is our link with all those who have ever loved. This genuine heart of sadness can teach us great compassion. It can humble us when we’re arrogant and soften us when we are unkind. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. This continual ache of the heart is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all compassion. It can humble us when we’re arrogant and soften us when we are unkind. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. This continual ache of the heart is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all.”

Roger

 

The Soft Spot

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From Pema Chodron’s The Places and Scare You:“WHEN I WAS ABOUT SIX YEARS OLD I received the essential bodhichitta (compassion) teaching from an old woman sitting in the sun. I was walking by her house one day feeling lonely, unloved, and mad, kicking anything I could find. Laughing, she said to me, “Little girl, don’t you go letting life harden your heart.” Right there, I received this pith instruction: we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice…Bodhichitta is …equated, in part, with compassion—our ability to feel the pain that we share with others. Without realizing it we continually shield ourselves from this pain because it scares us. We put up protective walls made of opinions, prejudices, and strategies, barriers that are built on a deep fear of being hurt. These walls are further fortified by emotions of all kinds: anger, craving, indifference, jealousy and envy, arrogance and pride. But fortunately for us, the soft spot—our innate ability to love and to care about things—is like a crack in these walls we erect. It’s a natural opening in the barriers we create when we’re afraid. With practice we can learn to find this opening. We can learn to seize that vulnerable moment—love, gratitude, loneliness, embarrassment, inadequacy—to awaken bodhichitta.”

Roger

 

Cocoon

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From Pema Chodron’s The Places and Scare You: “A teacher once told me that if I wanted lasting happiness, the only way to get it was to step out of my cocoon. When I asked her how to bring happiness to others, she said, “Same instruction.” This is the reason that I work with these aspiration practices: the best way to serve ourselves is to love and care for others. These are powerful tools for dissolving the barriers that perpetuate not just our own unhappiness, but the suffering of all beings.”

Roger

The Baptized Life

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From Rowan Williams’ Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer: “So the baptized life is a life that gives us the resource and strength to ask awkward but necessary questions of one another and of our world. It is a life that looks towards reconciliation, building bridges, repairing shattered relationships. It is a life that looks towards justice and liberty, the liberty to work together to make human life in society some kind of reflection of the wisdom and order and justice of God.”

Roger

Seedlings

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From Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching: “Everyone has a seed of faith, or confidence…If you have friends who water this seed in you, it will grow strong. But if you meet only favorable conditions, you will not realize how precious this seed is. Obstacles along the path can help our determination and compassion grow. Obstacles teach us about our strengths and weaknesses, so that we can know ourselves better and see in which direction we truly wish to go. One could say that the Buddha’s practice of austerity was unfavorable to the development of his path, but if he had not undertaken those practices and failed in them, he would not have learned and later taught the Middle Way. When your intention is strong, unfavorable conditions will not dishearten you. In difficult moments, you will stick to your friends, fortify your convictions, and not give up”

Roger

The Mystery of Incarnation

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From Paul Knitter’s Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian: “So if we extend, as I am suggesting, “incarnation” beyond Jesus of Nazareth and recognize that Buddha and Muhammad and others may be “enfleshments” of Ultimate Reality or Ultimate Truth, then because these enfleshments take place in very, very different historical contexts, the truths that they reveal will be very, very different, one from the other. Or, in Buddhist imagery, if we call Jesus and Buddha different fingers pointing to the moon, we can’t simply say they are pointing to the very same thing. They are pointing to really different parts of the moon –or maybe it’s better to say they are pointing to different moons, both of which are orbiting around a Mystery that is beyond them both. In other words, in saying that Jesus and Buddha are both unique manifestations of Holy Mystery or the Spirit, we are saying that although the Mystery may be “one,” Jesus and Buddha remain really different. Or perhaps it is more accurate to recognize that there are real differences within the one Mystery. Only by preserving the differences, and then letting them speak to each other, can we preserve and better understand the Mystery.”

Roger

Trust

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From Paul Knitter’s Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian: “A passage from my journal of March 2000 was trying to express more personally what it means to experience Jesus as a Teacher become-Symbol: In a way that transcends discursive thinking or hard-hitting proof, Jesus the Christ embodies for me the reality of the Spirit/ Divine in my life. He is sacrament, symbol, myth that makes Reality clear and present and gripping. In my mind, as a being swimming in the current of our modern world, I am tossed back and forth on questions of whether there really is a Something More, whether it is truly worthwhile to struggle for love and justice, whether there is anything beyond the portals of death. The results of these struggles are always inconclusive. So, I trust. So I let go. So I believe. It is Jesus, in his story, in his life and death, and especially in the way in which he is present in the community and in my life through the resurrection, that I know in trust what I cannot know in reason.”

Roger