Life is like a mirror, smile at it, and it smiles back at you. -Peace Pilgrim
I am working on a new exercise. It’s one for the face called a smile. I am cursed with the Miller frown. I don’t even realize most of the time that I’m doing it, so if you see me frowning smile at me and I’ll give you one back. I certainly don’t frown because I’m unhappy or miserable at least most of the time I can say that. I think I have a combination of things going on here one came from an unhappy childhood when I had something to frown about, then there’s genetics, and now age, when everything begins to sage including the face. Even now, as I write this, I catch myself going into that frown that comes about when I’m concentrating on something.
I remember the day I married Tom. I was smiling so much that by the end of the day, my face hurt. As with all exercises, no pain, no gain as they say. So, I read that the best way to do this exercise is to have a mirror nearby so you can catch yourself at a glance. It’s a kind of hard to do that. So, I’ve decided to let life be my mirror reflection. My smile is the practice, and your smile is the strength I gain!
“I am not young enough to know everything.”
We only know and understand to the extent of what we’ve learned in our lifetime. So, to look at another and expect them to understand something from our perspective is an unfair approach to take. Each and everyone one of us is doing the best we can with what we know and believe. Maybe a better approach to take then our expectations of others is simple to live our truth in the hope of being the best example we can be.
“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God.” —Thomas Merton
I often talk about the true self. I think the idea of it for some is a cliché with all the talk of about finding our authenticity. But in taking a non-interest in knowing what it means is like missing the train that takes you on a ride of discovery, you don’t even have to go far because it exist within each of us. Fr. Richard Rhor says, “A Zen master would call the True Self ‘the face we had before we were born.’” Our true self is our authentic self and it exist within our soul. Thomas Merton likened it to “a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven.”
To find this place of centeredness, it’s important for us to understand the difference between our true self and our false self. You will know you’re living the false self when you recognize how hard you look on the outside for the answers that can only be found from within. When we search from the divinity that exist within, we join body with spirit as One. Our true authentic self is able to express the God that is within us. “That pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven,” and does it get any better then to know It desires to shine through us. .
I have this rebellious streak in me, and when it is challenged, my ego is in its glory. Why, because it has my full attention and nothing else can enter in. It’s sucks me away from my soul, and I feel splintered from my own truth. I am captured by it like a bug in a spider web. I can go for days letting my rebellion turn into a fighting match. It usually doesn’t occur with actual people because I don’t like conflict. The battle goes on in my head about what I want to say, but don’t. I know that makes me passive, and maybe to some its not the way they would do things, but it keeps me from doing something I might regret. It gives me the time I need to find my way back to my soul. It’s only in this place that I can make the right choice about the things I am passionate about. That is after all where the rebellion comes from those things that we are passionate about. It is only when they are challenged that we can dig deeper into their meaning for us. Its one thing to believe in what you are doing and what it stands for. Its another thing to let that rebellious streak turn you in the opposite direction. So I fight the fight like we all do. In the end I have to ask myself what is the intention in my action.
Is it for the greater good of all or is it just to feed my ego. Hum!!!
And there I have my answer!
There is a profound Zen proverb that says, “The seed never sees the flower.
The seeds we plant along our life’s journey is the same way. We are all like Johnny Appleseed dropping ours seeds as we go. He would have never been able to plant so many if he kept going back to see the results of his endeavors. Trusting in the process of the good we plant takes humility. Which means getting our ego out of the way. It is only then that our mind, body and spirit is able to bring our true-self out to do the work of our passions. Through this bond of Oneness, we have all the assurance we need that whatever we sow along the way will produce beautiful flowers. The seed never sees what it produces, it just knows what it’s supposed to do, as do we intuitively.
When the human and soul are in line our true self is able to be expressed. It is then that the veil is lifted and we can see clearly.
In so doing we validate one another for who we are, and it gives us the freedom to be true to ourselves as well. But it’s true that not everyone is going to like us or understand us. And you know what, that’s ok too. We don’t have to spend our life trying to be for others what we think they want us to be. There’s not much we can do about that. Friendships do require effort, but they shouldn’t feel hard to hold together. So why not put your efforts where they are the most appreciated. Friendships shouldn’t be hard, and if they are then there’s not much understanding to work with.
When I was about 9 yrs old we were sitting around the table at dinner time. For some reason I remember I was sitting in my Mom’s seat which was across from Dad. Mom was in one of her moods so she was in her room. My Dad had a few beers which actually turned him into a clown. As the rest of us were eating around the table I started getting hit with one pea at a time. It was something my brother would do, but it wasn’t him. After a few more times I figured it was Dad.
“Stop ,” I said, laughing, but he kept it.
“Come on,” he said, “throw them back at me.”
I looked around for fear of what my mom would do if she caught me. Besides I didn’t want to throw them at him, he was my Dad. But he kept it up, pushing and pushing until I finally flipped the mash potatoes I had on my fork at him hitting him in the face. He roared in laughter, and said, “I knew you had it in you.”
It seemed that life was that way as I grew up. I just wanted to be nice to people, but there was always someone out there pushing my books out of my hands, talking behind my back, or demanding me to do this or that for them. I was always shocked by these people who were suppose to be my friends. I had a hard time believing that they could be so mean to me. Maybe I was making it worse than it seemed, always giving others the benefit of the doubt until they pushed me too far. They were always as shocked and surprised as my Dad was when the mash potatoes went flying in their face, and they still are to this day.
I asked dad years later, why’d you do that to me. He said because I knew you were too nice for your own good, and if you didn’t learn to stand up for yourself the world would eat you alive. I haven’t been swallowed yet, but it is difficult to keep climbing out of the mouth of those who try.
Eat your peas, please don’t throw them.
Life’s challenges. You can’t go through life avoiding them. They are part of our human nature that helps us build the character we were born to express. Within the challenges of our life, whether big or small, comes great responsibility. How we choose to forge through our challenge must be weighed against our values and beliefs. The biggest challenge comes from how those chooses affect the people in our life whether it be a few or many. Being true to our self which is essential doesn’t give us the right to be selfish, there is no truth in that. Being true to ourself is looking at how our challenge and choices affect everyone involved. There is a right way, and a wrong way to move forward. A test as to whether we are being true to ourselves is when we can look ourselves in the mirror, and say, I like the direction this is taking me. Then you know you are ok, but if not, then what you leave behind is yourself, and lots of brokenness. Challenges are the exercises in our life that can make us or break us. They hold within them some of the hardest trials of our life. Step lightly, with great thought, and always listen to that inner voice it is the guage that will show you which way to go.