Archive for October, 2012

A Healing Atlas

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

 

Many of us are familiar in some way with the myth of Atlas.  Atlas betrays the Olympians and his punishment from Zeus is to hold the heavens (or the sky) up to keep it from falling to earth.  At one point Atlas convinces Heracles to hold the skies for him, but is soon tricked into holding it up once again.

        The great question is: What would happen if Atlas released his burden?

        One way to answer the question is to ask ourselves- What would happen if I put down my burdens? 

Would we fail to meet our responsibilities?  Would our world fall a part?  Would they fall like tears from our eyes as we realized a way of life without them?

Today when we think of Atlas, we don’t think of him as being that which holds heaven from earth, but holding up the globe itself.

In Ayn Rand’s work “Atlas Shrugged,”  Francisco asks Hank what advice he would give to Atlas if he saw the greater his effort the harder the burden was to bear.  The answer Francisco tells him is to “shrug.”

        Another point of view on Atlas comes from the spiritual thinker Mark Nepo who said,

        “Atlas wasn’t forced to hold up the world, he was convinced that if he didn’t, the world would fall.”  Perhaps those words ring true for our own lives.  We are not forced to carry our burdens, but we convince ourselves that if we don’t, our world will fall apart. 

  Like Atlas, we probably think at times that to release our burdens is to be crushed by them, so instead of letting them go we try to get others to carry them with us. Sometimes we unintentionally pass them down to our children. Often the very burdens we carry were passed on to us.

        Give up your burdens.  By that I don’t mean give up your responsibilities.  The two are very different things.  A responsibility is something we choose to do. A burden is something we choose to suffer because of.

        When we face the most difficult aspects of our lives, it is not wise to hold these alone.  “Give them to God” is the spiritual advice. Practically speaking this means: release yourself from their weight, and take care of yourself; be good to yourself and your life and to others and see what happens because sometimes the best way to set the nature of life into motion is not to forge ahead, but to let go.

 

Ramana Maharshi said-

 

Place your burden
at the feet of the Lord of the Universe
who accomplishes everything.
Remain all the time steadfast in the heart,
in the Transcendental Absolute.
God knows the past, present and future.
He will determine the future for you
and accomplish the work.
What is to be done will be done
at the proper time. Don’t worry.
Abide in the heart and surrender your acts
to the divine.

In other words, be with what is in your life with as little judgment as possible and you may find there is something whole operating there.  Perhaps if we release our grasp of the sky it will not fall?  Perhaps the only thing separating heaven and earth is ourselves?

Get out of the way.

  There are two powerful things that can happen when we release the burden.  A healing atlas.  The first is Grace.  Grace is when the veil of limitations has lifted and we experience the wholeness of what is.  Grace is peace in the midst of seeming chaos, vigil in the face of tragedy, a light that flickers in the darkness.

The second is forgiveness.  When I choose no longer to possess hatred or anger or fear towards someone or something or sometime.  Forgiveness occurs.

Grace and Forgiveness are human experiences, but they are what we might call “divine events.”  We don’t do them, we let go so that they might happen, and are better because of them.

        Ask yourself,

Where do I want Grace in my life?

Where do I want Forgiveness in my life?

What am I willing to let myself out from under from for this to take place?

 

 

 

Welcome In

Friday, October 5th, 2012

 Josh Reeves

 

   Do you know those awkward times at restaurants when you hold the door open for a stranger and the line just keeps getting longer?  It almost takes an act of faith to know that it will end or that someone will take your place at the door so you don’t let it go onto someone and pretend you didn’t see them there.

  Holding the door open is a powerful metaphor for life and giving. When we hold the door open for someone to walk through, we aren’t just being polite, we are welcoming them into what is beyond that threshold, sometimes to experience what we have, but sometimes to experience what is beyond that threshold before it is our own.

        This is not just the chopped salad at C.P.K.  This is the door you hold open for your child’s security and opportunity.  This is the door you hold open for a student or employee to have a realization or achievement.  This is the door you hold open for your spouse to win an argument.  It is the same when you give money to charity, or donate time at a non-profit, or go out of your way to compliment someone.  You are opening the door for that charity to succeed, for that non-profit to flourish, for that someone to embrace the truth of who they are.

        “Welcome in,” we are saying.  “Welcome in.” When you give the waiter a tip, “Welcome in.”  When we don’t argue about what we watch on the television, “Welcome in.”  When we forgive someone a trespass they have made upon us, “Welcome in.”

        We are like the polite stranger, opening the door to a greater good even though it means our own satisfaction may be delayed.  Yet, in opening the door and welcoming in, we find a satisfaction unique in its own right that may cause us to see there is some wisdom in this approach for everyday life.  The best way to open doors of fulfillment for our selves is often in opening a door for another.

        There’s a legend about the Bodhisattva or Angel in Buddhism.  The Bodhisattva is fully capable of becoming a Buddha, of stepping fully into total enlightenment- of releasing the earth entirely and crossing the threshold into heaven.  Yet the Bodhisattva chooses not to and instead vows to hold the door of heaven open until all others first walk through.  This is what the Bodhisattva is and does–holding the door open for all others to enter into heaven.

        A vow of a Bodhisattva is often something that sounds impossible to our human understanding.  The Bodhisattva knows that suffering is endless, yet she vows to stop it.  She knows that the line of soul’s to enter heaven is unending, yet she vows to hold the door open until all pass through.  There is a secret meaning here.  Crossing the threshold isn’t true enlightenment for the Bodhisattva, holding the door open is. 

        In our own lives, holding the door open for others and whatever comes before us to pass through even if we sometimes have not even had the good that lies beyond that door ourselves, this is heaven; this is enlightenment.

        Is this not the message of every great individual who ever lived be it your mom or Jesus or King?  Live your life fully yet let your life be an open door that others might pass through to experience life more richly.