"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.

Friday, December 18, 2015

For Unto Us a Child is Born

 "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

First Posted, December 18, 2013

Keaton Izzy
Originally scheduled for a Christmas Day debut, Granddaughter Keaton Izzy 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,  I felt a deep joy -- and a deep sadness.

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,  I have thought that less and less.  It's pretty clear that a  lot of folks have a difficult time during the holiday season.
 (CONTINUED)

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, adorned with showers of perfumed blossoms cascading from the sky, both of these special beings brought into the world teachings which stressed the primary role of love and compassion in our lives.  Each of these teachers spoke of an essential spiritual reality that lay within and beyond each of us.  Each repeatedly pointed out that worldly rewards of wealth, status, power, etc. were "false gods" and that grasping onto things would always lead to suffering.

And yet, here we are, 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 day. At Christmas time, the irony of piles of new toys laying in the midst of piles of torn wrapping paper as a celebration of the birth of Jesus never escapes me.  But, of course, each moment of each day embraces the Grand Paradox.  (I shouldn't pick on Christmas too much, I suppose.  There's lots of caring and good cheer among family and friends, for sure.)

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.  Life/Death intersected in that room, with a newborn babe at the beginning edge of her incarnation in the midst of loving parents and grandparents.  The Adoration on the Magi had nothing on this scene.  This, too, was a Sacred Birth, an 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.  I pray that, as I stumble ahead failing more often than not, I can be one small piece of that Knowing.  

I'm going to Sit now.  What are you up to?

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