Monday, August 08, 2005


I always try to keep these short because I understand the impulse to run and hide when you see globs of text on a page written by someone whose name you don't recognize. But this post needed to take a little bit more space than usual and, as I considered my web log stats, I realized that only Ernie plus a moderate sized handful of others actually view these pages each month. So with seemingly little at stake, I decided to be a bit more verbose for this posting. I hope you will consider spending a minute or two with me here.
Betty Bethards was one of the spiritual teachers who I worked with in my early years of spiritual development, and she would often use guided visualizations as part of her meditation training. Following my meditation this morning I allowed myself to participate in a sort of "un-guided" visualization in which I held a "conversation" with what Betty always referred to as a spiritual guide:

Prior to meditation I been listening to a bouncy tune by a well known pop artist and my guide appeared to be dancing to this tune as we mentally connected. I was surprised to see him in such good spirits, no pun intended, and he said that "the practice of spirituality does not have to be stuffy. Have fun, enjoy." He then embraced me and asked what I would like to talk about today.

I have been reading a book about, as well as listening to a podcast about, impermenance. The death of Peter Jennings yesterday sort of drove this concept home in a very real way, so I asked him about life as it relates to this idea. He nodded, as if to think for a moment, and then produced what seemed to be a baseball sized ball of ribbon. He looked away from me for a moment and then, with a gentle underhand, he tossed the ball of ribbon which travelled far enough to make it disappear from sight. One end of the ribbon he still held in in hand, with the bulk of the ribbon extending away from us as far as I could see.

"As far out this goes is but a moment on the timeline of eternity." There was a pause, and then he continued. "Beyond that (the end of the ribbon) is another moment, and then another, until they become a series of moments. Beyond the moment is a minute, followed more minutes, followed by an hour and so forth."

Looking out I tried to see the end of the ribbon so that I could better grasp what he was saying, but I could not. It was too distant. I thought about this for a moment and began to realize that, in his example, I was standing at a specific location in a sort of timeline that he was illustrating with his ribbon.
He turned away from the ribbon and extended his arm in the other direction. "This way lies the continuation of eternity, reaching equally far in front of us". He paused as if to give me a moment to absorb the enormity of that, then said "Where we stand - in fact, the total of your life from birth to death- is less than a blink along this line". In the mind of the "me" that was in the visualization I saw an enormous single eye close every so slowly, and then open again with equal purpose.

He sense my thoughts and continued, "That does not make your life any less important or significant. Nor does it mean that God does not know you and every hair on your head. But, what we must consider is that our time here is a very small piece of existence as a whole. What many lack is the ability to understand that we are borrowing, rather than owning, the time in which we live. Everything we know will be gone at some point along this line. The people, the buildings, the clouds, the trees, and - while likely not in your lifetime - even the planet. All things must end, which gives way to new things. By looking at life with these eyes, you can see how silly it is to worry about things such as whether you will get a promotion or not, or if your book is selling or not. Instead we should focus on taking care of our world and those who live on it. By developing a realistic perspective of our place on this timeline, and understanding that we share that place with those before and those who will come later, our attitudes and behaviors can begin to adjust to allow us to leave the best possible legacy for whatever and whomever might come after. And, if you follow the teachings of the Buddha, that "whoever" just might be you."

Copyright©2005 jdwarrick    

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