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Posted By Opening the Heart

     One cannot stay on the summit forever.

     So why bother in the first place? Just this:

     What is above knows what is below-

     But what is below does not know what is above.

     One climbs and one sees-

     One descends and sees no longer.

     But one has seen!

     There is an art to conducting oneself in

     The lower regions by what one has seen higher up.

     When one can no longer see

     One can at least still remember.      Mount Analogue Rene Daumel

   There is a beautiful piece of music written by Hector Berlioz called "L'Enfance du Christ". Within it is a piece called the Departure of the Shepherds. In that poignant scene the shepherds are leaving the scene of Jesus' birth. So in this winter solstice season of reflection and turning inward, of the Dark Run, I wondered what it must have been like to walk away from a miracle. Had I ever really experienced a miracle myself? As I ask this question, writing at my grandfather's roll top desk, I look up 6 inches at pictures of my son, my daughter, my wife, and I just smile. So what really is a miracle? It is, I think, a divine descension of grace, undeserved, but, nonetheless, bestowed. Meister Eckhart, a 14th century theologian, said "Miracles seem to happen more when I pray".

   So maybe a miracle is a coincidence, seen through a spiritual perspective. Then, is a miracle something unusual and amazing that happens and we witness or experience it, or does it happen more from inside out? If we are awake, conscious, looking for the good, or miracles, we, in a true sense, create them. This view is in alignment with what the new mindfulness researchers in the field of happiness tell us.

   Let's go back to the shepherds: how could they possibly return to their ordinary lives? How could their lives not be transformed? They would see everything differently through eyes of having seen a world-changing transformation.

   At the end of an Opening the Heart workshop, we read to participants Rene Duamal's poem (above). It's a way of reminding us that the ascension of the mountain is, in and of itself, of value even when we must, inevitably, descend again from the summit. It's of value because by having taken the miracle in, we have become changed. We have changed even though the natural rhythms continue of life's openings and closings. To each living thing there is a season, an opening and a closing: the breath, the seasons, the day, the natural Life-Death-Life cycle. On December 9th I looked out my office window at my serenity garden and I saw a miracle. There it was in the 8 inch turquoise pot sitting on my garden wall: one yellow pansy. On December 10th it was gone, but I had seen and I will remember that bright flower until I plant again in April.

   With Love and Respect, JonJon

 
Posted By Opening the Heart

The memorials to Nelson Mandela have reminded me once more of the power of music. Twenty-six years ago, on the occasion of Mandela's 70th birthday, an amazing day-long concert took place at Wembley Stadium in London continuing the effort to have him released from captivity. I have no doubt that the energy generated by this and similar concerts around the world did much to build international support for his eventual release. This month's musical offering is not from that concert, but it carries the same message for the freedom of opressed people around the world. A very appropriate choice for Human Rights Day - a day that we, at Opening the Heart endorse wholeheartedly. Enjoy, Peter.

 
Posted By Opening the Heart

   After the 9/11 tragedy, I remember that for many weeks afterward, walking on public streets was a whole new experience. What I remember is that many times people made eye contact with each other and even smiled and I asked myself what was it that caused this poignant, deeper connection with strangers that I had walked past hundreds of times before without any eye contact or recognition or kind greeting. I'm really convinced that 9/11 caused a deeper recognition of ourselves. I think what we recognized after 9/11, or after any hard life jolt, was our common humanity, our deep connectiveness and our vulnerability.

   I find myself coming back to the theme of perspective. I see a patient who is dying of inoperable pancreatic cancer. He came to see me one morning and the weather was rainy and cold. In an unconscious moment, perhaps to make small talk or to put him at ease, I said "Pretty dreary weather". He smiled and said "You know, Jon, I have a different way of thinking about the weather now. If it's cold, I put on an extra sweater. If it's wet, I take an umbrella.... I'm just glad to be alive". His words brought me into an immediate place of understanding and perspective in the same way, I think, that 9/11 brought such hard clarity to many of us....

   I don't know how many of you may be lucky enough to be a grandparent, but I became a "Grumpy" for the second time almost a month ago. Don't worry, I am not going to bore you with the amazing cuteness and accomplishments of these Beings of Light (although watching my 15 month old on Facetime take her first two steps alone, and hearing about my new granddaughter turning over at not even one month old- Get outta town!) No, I'm taking this in a different direction that, again, brings us back to perspective.

   I was at the checkout counter at the grocery store where I shop and a young woman checking out was carrying an adorable 4 month old baby, while at the same time, trying to get out her credit card. The baby was facing back, looking at the next person in line, a middle-aged man. The man made a big, warm, kind smile at the baby, and I thought "What is there about a baby that evokes this automatic, kind welcoming?" In my mind I erased the baby and tried to imagine the man's same kind smile toward the mother (now without the baby). Doesn't work, does it? Who knows, but my guess is that the smile would have been ignored or misunderstood, not taken in.

   It did occur to me that every one of us still carries that baby, or small inner child within us that keeps looking at the world and asking "Do you like me?" And when we experience that kind smile, that unconditional welcome, we tend to feel seen, held, accepted, even loved. There is, I think, a spritual principle that says we must be prepared to give what we most want to receive. So, I decided to try being the Prime Mover. That is,I committed for one week to just give a friendly smile to anyone I saw that I didn't know. Rather than waiting to see if they would welcome me, I gave the welcome, the kindness first. What I did was I aimed the smile beneath the adult exterior, the mask, directly to that adorable baby inside. I really experienced feeling better by "being the change we want to be". Many times, my smile was returned just as that little baby smiled naturally at being welcomed at the checkout counter.

   With Love and Respect, Jon  Jon

 
Posted By Opening the Heart

                

 

                Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.

                My shoulder is against yours.

                You will not find me in stupas, not in Indian shrine

                          rooms, nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:

                  Not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding

                          around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but

                          vegetables.

                   When you really look for me, you will see me

                          instantly-

                   You will find me in the tiniest house of time.

                   Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?

                   He is the breath inside the breath.

                                           The Kabir Book by Robert Bly