Thursday, May 25, 2006

MEDITATION: "Friendly, Not Frightening"

Yesterday some “bad” news led me back to the very good news about the nature of life. I came home from school in the afternoon and heard some news about a friend, and – strangely – I automatically thought of it as “bad” news. I did something I often do: I saw an “enemy” in the news, and immediately became apprehensive. Luckily, I had some time to take a walk in the park, and during the walk I looked at this news, and at the nature of life, more carefully. I guess you could say I prayed, which just means I tried my best to get back in touch with what’s really true. As I walked among the blossoming trees and looked carefully at this apparent “enemy” I saw in the news, I began to realize that I often see enemies everywhere – material entities of all shapes, sizes, and conditions that I believe can harm me. In a kind of blind, unthinking way, I sometimes see life as a continuing series of battles between a separate, material “me” and countless separate, material “enemies” waiting to injure me. These enemies take a variety of shapes – lack of money, joblessness, illness, car trouble, loss of friendship, student misbehavior – but, in the end, they are all seem to have a similar characteristic: a desire to harm me. As I walked up and down the stone steps in the park (getting exercise while praying), a wonderful old truth slowly dawned on me again. I saw more and more clearly that these enemies – every one of them – are actually nothing more than beliefs. They exist in my thought, not in some physical shape. “Lack of money”, rather than being a material monster separate from me, waiting to grab me and ruin me, is merely a belief – a scary belief, but just a belief nonetheless. I understood, as I walked along in the spring sunshine, that the “world” doesn’t manufacture my enemies – I do. I create them in my own beliefs, and the marvelous, reassuring truth is that I can also destroy them there. Life is ultimately mental, and the battles we have to fight – every one of them – are mental. Walking in the park, I realized that they are easy battles to win – as easy as replacing one belief with another. By the time I got back home, the news I heard from my friend seemed far more like an opportunity than a threat – an opportunity to prove, once again, that life, in its essence, is friendly rather than frightening.

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