In a discussion yesterday someone pointed out two extremes – altruism and psychological egoism – and we talked about them, about how easy it is to do something that looks good and bask in the glow of praise from others. And it is difficult, when the adulation comes, to deflect it, accepting the thought without letting it puff you up.
“You should be proud,” is often heard from others when you do something worthwhile; yet, how opposite this is to Jesus’s teaching, to Buddha’s teaching. (And probably to others, as well.) When you focus on God, and focus on shining God’s light, then the need for praise, for boosting yourself up, diminishes. If you’re capable, it might even vanish if your focus is complete.
As you discover what to do instead of what you were doing, don’t judge the action on how it would make you appear, but rather how it fits in with your personality. If you try to do something that is not you, like an extrovert trying to keep quiet, you’re bound to meet with disappointment. Here we are working to reveal who we are in a way that does not glorify ourselves, because when we reveal who we really are, what we are doing is glorifying God.
Okay, I guess I missed Friday when some new windows were being installed. I went back and corrected the day number on yesterday’s post.
Last night I attended a Buddhist prayer meeting, I believe it was to honor someone’s passing, the father of a family, grandfather, and possibly great-grandfather. So we sat in back and prayed with them. The chants/prayers were in two different languages. I believe the first was Thai, although my wife said the monk had mentioned Bali. The second was Vietnamese. As I prayed and listened, it struck me how familiar the feeling was to one experienced when saying a rosary in a group. And how similar to an Indian dharma prayer meeting I had attended as well.
I thought of the commonality of humanity and wondered again why we spend so much time trying to differentiate ourselves and despise those unlike us, when at the core we are all the same: human beings.
This week wraps up the Awareness phase of the RADAR system, and we consider and reflect on how aware we have become to when our response is triggered. By now I would not be surprised if you can anticipate the opportunities for change before or as they are occurring. I’ve reached that awareness at times, and can sense a change in me even when I’m not purposefully doing anything different.
Do you feel a change in the level of peace in your life?
Have you noticed? When your awareness of something improves, you begin to see, before you act or speak, the opportunity for change. I found several yesterday. That’s the key part of the awareness phase – anticipating the situation before it happens – where you now are fully in the present moment.
I remember times when I would say something and then think, “Why did I just do that?” I wasn’t aware before I spoke of the opportunity (to either keep my mouth shut or say something different). If you’re reading the book, it might seem confusing for me to say “Don’t look back,” and then just mention, “When I looked at yesterday.” The key is the purpose. I’m not looking back to judge where I was and compare to where I am. I’m only looking to evaluate the day for you.
And as you remain in the present moment, this looking back becomes only nostalgic (when it’s beyond the ‘just passed’ moment), because when you are aware ‘before it happens’, then you are evaluating in real time. You are examining the situation, your response, right then. To review at night, well, that’s nice, but it no longer becomes necessary.
That’s the beauty of the awareness phase. It helps bring you into the present moment. After all, that’s all we each have.
Awareness. Did you experience it yesterday? I found several instances where I had an opportunity. Did I take it? Not yet. I’m still trying to understand the what’s underneath. In this race-about world, it’s easy to jump to the first conclusion, take the first fork in the road, without considering just is going on. When you slow down, (and some may accuse me of virtually standing still), you let God work inside you, revealing your true spirit, your true soul.
You uncover the truth, and begin to realize that maybe what you thought you should do wouldn’t fix anything, wouldn’t change anything, wouldn’t put you on a path of love, but rather one of deception.
Kind of like dieting. We eat ridiculously small amounts of food, or special foods we wouldn’t normally buy (because they are so overpriced), and then expect once we’ve reached our goal we can just go back to what we were doing. Nothing really changed. It was just an exercise. Is Lent merely an exercise for you? Or are you hoping it helps you grow into who you are, even if it only brings you one step closer.
Awareness, mindfulness. When we become aware of the present moment, so many things open up to us. How often they are missed when we focus on the future, on what we plan on doing, rather than what we are doing. I became aware yesterday of several moments where I could respond differently. Did I? Not necessarily. But I am beginning to understand them, and think to myself, “I am responding this way because…”, which I think will help me discover (phase 3) what I can replace my response with, such that the replacement fits my soul.
Yes. Too often we try to become someone we aren’t, rather than becoming who we are. Yet when we understand and embrace our true self, then the second greatest commandment becomes a habit. Wouldn’t that be incredible? I think we strive to follow the two greatest commandments, failing often and beating ourselves up for that failure, when if we understood how our desire to follow is part of our innate inner being, it would bring a new understanding and open up ways that we might change.
May God shine a light upon your path, chasing away the darkness.