"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about progressively opening your heart and calming your mind enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a Long-time Student of Meditation.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Christmas Missive: For Unto Us A Child Is Born

(Only five days 'til Christmas? Time continues to confound me.  Apart from the objectivity seemingly expressed by such things as clocks and calendars (which are far less accurate than we imagine them to be), Time is fundamentally fluid and mysterious.  How could it be otherwise?  Since Eternity exists in each fleeting instant of time, there's lots of elbow room for our subjective experience to bang around in, right?

A case in point:

My Grand-Daughter Keaton Izzy entered this incarnation on Monday, December 16, 2013 and has now had her first birthday.  It seems like her Incarnation into this dimension was only yesterday -- AND that she has been here forever. 

I wrote a piece last year a couple of days after her birth, deeply touched by the Sacred Miracle of her Newborn Presence. I can honestly say, a year later, that peering into her eyes still confirms for me the existence of Perfection in the midst of the apparent chaos of it all.  Coming in the midst of the Holiday Season (her "due date" had been Christmas Day itself), her birth -- like that of each and every being -- is nothing less than a Holy Miracle.  

As I wrote last year, my heart pretty open to the Big Picture, I also took a look at the painful downside of the holiday season.  I hope my attempt to Understand the One Love, in all it's aspects, was, and is, helpful.   Here it is.   One Love, Lance.)
(Originally Published, December 19, 2014. Revised.)

"Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. "
--- Thich Nhat Hahn

"Every child born is a living Buddha.  Some of them only get to be a living Buddha for a moment, because nobody believes it."
 ---Stephan Gaskin in Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin

Keaton Izzy
Originally scheduled for a Christmas Day debut, Granddaughter Keaton arrived in the wee hours of Monday morning, in plenty of  time to avoid head to head competition with Baby Jesus.  Sporting all ten fingers and toes, sparkling with Buddhanature, her birth, like all births, is another obvious Affirmation of the Miraculous.  As she peered from Betsy's face to mine following the sound of our voices later that day, I could feel her Presence as pure, unadulterated Life Force.  Touched by the Great Mystery once again,  Heart wide open, I felt a deep joy -- and a deep sadness. Sometimes Love hurts.


Even as a child, the Christmas season always brought with it a certain sadness.  Something seemed more than slightly askew.   The messages of "peace on earth" and "goodwill to all", the prevailing storyline proclaiming this to be a special time of mirth and merriment,  didn't resonate with what I was experiencing.  I imagined it was just the chaos and uncertainty of my own childhood that left me feeling somehow "out of the loop".  As the years have rolled by though,  I have thought that less and less as I look around me at the generalized stress and melancholia that seems to emerge during the holidays.  Perhaps, at no time of the year is the disparity between what is and the way it's 'spozed to be so obvious.  Many of us feel that disparity profoundly.
 (READ MORE)

The stories of the birth of Jesus, like the stories of the birth of Buddha, are woven with strands of  myth and miracles.  Preceded by dreams and visions, accompanied by choruses of angels and showers of perfumed blossoms cascading from the sky, each of these special beings brought into the world teachings which stressed the primary role of love and compassion in our lives.  In their Teachings, each of these Incarnations spoke of an essential spiritual reality that lay within and beyond each of us.  Each repeatedly pointed out that worldly rewards of wealth, possessions, status, power, etc. were "false gods" and that grasping onto things would always lead to human suffering -- individually and collectively.

And yet, here we are in the US today, about 6% of the earth's people living in the richest nation on earth, chewing up about 50% of the earth's resources and spitting out about 50% of it's pollution and garbage each and every day. 

At Christmas time, the contretemps of scattered piles of new toys laying in the midst of mountains of torn wrapping paper as a celebration of the birth of Jesus never escapes me.  I imagine Him wandering into the room after Santa leaves and saying something like "Hey folks, remember when I said "Don't store up for yourselves treasures on earth...for where your treasure is, your heart is."?   (Matthew 6:19-21) .

I suppose that I shouldn't pick on Christmas too much, though.  (I'll let my twin Brother Lefty ramble on about it instead: http://leftysmithsings.blogspot.com/ ) The Truth is that each and every moment of each and every day hold the opportunity to focus our hearts and minds on the One Love -- or not.   

So, I am deeply grateful that there's lots of caring and good cheer among family and friends that happens during the Holydays as well.  (After I finish this piece, I'm going to dust of Lefty's autoharp and see if I can remember how to play some Christmas Carols.)

(Whew.  To make a short story just a tad bit longer: )

As I held the newborn Keaton,  I could feel the Ultimate Preciousness of Life in my arms.  With my heart open and aching, I was also aware of Death -- both in it's final form and in the more common form that emerges when we fail to recognize the ever-present Sacred Miracle that were immersed in.  As always is the case in the Majesty of the Present Moment, Life/Death intersected in that room, with a newborn babe at the beginning edge of its incarnation in the midst of loving parents and grandparents.  The Adoration on the Magi had nothing on this scene.  It wasn't a manger, but a rose is rose is a rose.  This, too, was a Sacred Birth, a Perfect Incarnation of the One Love.

The bottom line?

Love is central to both the Teachings of Jesus and of Buddha.  Jesus proclaimed Love as the basic "Commandment".  Buddha said it's power to heal was the only Eternal Law.  It seems it's just like the Beatles sang, "Love is all you really need."  Love connects us to one another and to the One which is Love.  It is, after all, as simple as that. 

But, of course, simple doesn't mean easy.


Although ultimately mysterious, love is not just a "many splendored thing".  Much more than a desirous aching, or even an emotional warmth, it is a quality of consciousness that embraces Life with great caring and understanding.  No mean feat, cultivating love in our lives is an exacting discipline.  It takes commitment, time and effort.  You have to be willing and able to break your heart -- over and over again.  It takes Practice. 

As I sit here with sunlight spraying diamonds in the snow outside the window, I pray that Keaton will Know that she, too, is the Christ Child, Saraswati, Kwan Yin, the Buddha.  I pray that she will Know that she emerges from Love, that she is Love and will ultimately return to Love.   I pray that as I stumble ahead failing often enough, hopefully, to keep me from getting too big-headed, I can be one small piece of that Knowing.  

I'm going to Sit now.  It seems to help -- a lot.

What are you up to?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lance for that recall of your feelings and thoughts shortly after Keaton's birth. Your story not only reminds me of her loving entrance into this life, and her ongoing "sparkling Buddha nature", it also reminds me that we all - every human, come into the world this way. We are all miracles! Thank you as well for this reminder of our collective privilege to encourage her spiritual nature. I for one will receive the "education" from her along the journey.

XOXO,
DD