Thursday, February 19, 2015

Please Stay Tuned! - That Which We Already Know

Winter is a time of transition for me. Last year at about this time I came up with a book idea that quickly took the form of a fairly robust outline. In addition to envisioning its three parts, nine chapters, prologue, and epilogue, I also envisioned writing it here on Crossing Nebraska, blog post by blog post – in as close to sequential order and final form as I could get.

Of course, I'm speaking of That Which We Already Know, the introduction of which was posted on April 4, 2014. The beginning of Chapter 9, the 29th installment, was just posted yesterday, February 18, 2015. I’ve had a great time with this project so far, and I do hope you've enjoyed reading it. However, I now realize that I’m at a crossroads.

I don’t want to leave any interested readers hanging, so I’ll just tell you what’s yet to come. Chapter 9 will focus on meditation – an activity that allows us to manifest that which we already know in a fairly structured and intentional way. I also want to tie up loose ends and draw connections with earlier material along the way. The epilogue will then serve as a final wrap-up. In order to move forward, however, I have to go back and edit and have fresh within my mind everything that I’ve posted up until now. This part of the process will take a month or so.

Thus, I’m going to have to sign off for a time. When I return, the buds will be popping, a warm sun will be shining on our cheeks, and I hope to be able to speak of plans to get published copies of That Which We Already Know into the hands of anyone who would like to read the finished product. I’m excited! In the meantime, interested readers may check out what I’ve posted so far by looking for posts with the tag “That Which…” attached to them – all 29 of them, not counting this one!

Wishing you a safe, contented, and contemplative close to this winter season!

                                                            Thank you,

Image References

Original Rustic Garden Gate on Riverside at Eynsford by Richard Croft via:

Copyright 2015 by Mark Frank

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mind and Body Are Not Two - That Which We Already Know

Chapter 9

It likely goes without saying that I was a quiet child – one pulled as if by some magnetic force to places of solitude and solemnity that were not always easy to find. You see, my father was a young school teacher with a growing family at the time, and our house was of a modest size. That and the fact that entrance to my older sister’s bedroom required passage straight through mine meant that I had no quiet space to call my own. I had to find it. I sought it out.

For this reason, too, the Nursery was my refuge from the moment I was old enough to venture out beyond the garden gate. I could be alone there whenever I wanted to be alone. I could enjoy silence there whenever I needed it – weather permitting, of course. Perhaps that is another reason why Mark Patrick’s tiny room seemed so appealing to me – sparse as a monk’s quarters though it was. Sure, his half-brother, Joe, was around for at least some of the time, but things must be different with a brother, I likely reasoned.

Notwithstanding the tight home quarters growing up, I still managed to find some time and space in which to be alone. One such place was in my parents’ bedroom during the day. No, we weren’t allowed to play there, but enjoying silence wasn’t play as far as I was concerned. Thus, I must have felt that I was well within the rules whenever I stealthily slipped inside for the sole purpose of being alone.

My parents kept a clock radio on one of the shelves of their headboard. It was a 1950s model that they’d received as a wedding present, with a pink plastic case that had ridges molded into it around the clock face and over the speaker next to it. I got to know that clock well. I climbed atop the bed and lay in front of it with my elbows on the pillows and my face propped up in my hands. I liked to swipe my fingernail across the plastic ridges covering the speaker. It made a sound like a tiny plastic xylophone due to the varying lengths of the ridges over the circular speaker opening. Above all, though, I liked to listen to the drone of the clock motor as the second hand traced out minute after minute after minute.

The electric motor hummed steadily as the second hand fell past the five and the ten and down toward the thirty. Errrrrrrrrrr… As the motor lifted it from thirty to sixty, however, it had to work a little harder. Err, rerr, rerr, rerr… And so the minutes had a rhythm to them. The motor lifted up the hand and let it fall again. One minute. It lifted up the hand and let it fall again. Two minutes. Err, rerr, rerr, rerr…, errrrrrrrrrr… Three minutes. Err, rerr, rerr, rerr…, errrrrrrrrrr… Four minutes. The motor lifted up the hand and let it fall again. Five minutes.

I became fascinated with the workings of my body and the passage of time. My heartbeats came too quickly for me to measure, like the seconds slipping past. My breath, on the other hand, was much more easily quantified. It took thus and such time to go from inhalation to exhalation and back again, but the longer I lay there, the deeper I settled into stillness, and the more drawn out my breathing became. It was quite natural that I eventually took to seeing how long I could hold my breath.

Now, anyone who’s ever tried to see how long they could hold their breath quickly realizes how it’s done. You breathe deeply and quickly for a number of breaths, culminating with one big inhalation right before you begin watching the clock. Something begins to happen, however, as soon as you actually hold your breath. Your awareness recedes from the outside world and becomes much more focused on the workings of the body. The beating of your heart begins to slow. Your thoughts, too, begin to slow. You become aware of every gurgle in your tummy and ringing in your ears. You notice the changing colors and flashes of light that play across your field of closed-eyed “vision.”

Thus, like a stone sinking to the bottom of a lake, I went down…, down…, down…; there to settle on the bottom, immersed in glorious stillness. Err, rerr, rerr, rerr…, errrrrrrrrrr… The motor lifted up the second hand and let it fall again. It strained and then relaxed. My heart pounded in my ears. It did its double thump and then relaxed. It double-thumped and then relaxed. My mind became the motor lifting up the second hand and letting it fall again. My mind became my pounding heart – slow and solid... Boom…, boom…, boom… My mind became still…

After not too long, though, my mind became the urge – increasingly insistent – to take another breath. It became the sensation of wanting to take a breath... It became the sensation of needing to take a breath... It became the work to keep from taking a breath... And then it became that next breath – glorious…, expansive…, fresh…, life-giving…, rejuvenating.

Children are expert at such things as this. They wonder and they watch. They pay attention. No, it might not be what adults want them to pay attention to, but they do! And so it was that it made perfect sense to me when I first encountered the teaching of a Zen meditation master who said that the body and the mind are not two. It made perfect sense to me when he said that we do not become enlightened with the mind. We become enlightened with the body. It made perfect sense to me because I knew it already. I’d known it when I was a child, but then I forgot!

To be continued...

This post is a retelling of a childhood event.
It is meant to be illustrative of the non-duality of body and mind.
It is not meant to advocate any meditations that involve the holding of the breath.  

Image References

Antique Radio by Joe Haupt via
Original Rustic Garden Gate on Riverside at Eynsford by Richard Croft via:

Copyright 2015 by Mark Frank

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Universality of That Which We Know - That Which We Already Know

The Universality of That Which We Know – End Chapter 8

Chapter 8 has focused on those spiritual attributes that children innately possess but which tend to fade away or become obscured as we grow older and continue to engage in the process of self-formation. Ironically, it’s often only after we’ve fully matured and begun to struggle with our “grownup” life that we begin to sense that something is missing. Our experiences of loss or our lack of fulfillment frequently prompt us to engage in some form of religious exploration in the hopes of finding what we don’t yet even realize we once enjoyed without any effort whatsoever. And so we struggle some more, and perhaps we grow even more jaded, disillusioned, or unfulfilled along the way. It can be hard to find what we’re looking for when we’re not even sure what it is!

My hope for this book, then, is that it encourage seekers to look close to home before assuming that the answer lies in or on the other side of some intricate practice or presently incomprehensible teaching. We need only to recollect that which we already know. Indeed, at their core, the various religions exist to guide us to something that we already know. Unfortunately, even those in positions of religious power do not necessarily realize this to be so – enamored as they may be with their intoxicating feeling of specialness.

Religion stems from the deepest and most universal longing that humans share. It is rooted in the very neurobiology with which we experience the world. Whatever ineffable religious visions, ecstatic states, transcendent experiences, or sensations of communion with God we might enjoy arise from this neurobiological structure that we all share. It is only after we try to put these ineffable experiences into words and position them within some presumed metaphysical framework that the various religions of the world become recognizable.

Most religious adherents, however, swim only on the very surface of their respective traditions where the waves may appear to be very different than those of any other religion. They never dive into the depths – where the waters become still, and the crashing of waves is far away, and the ineffable is actually experienced rather than merely spoken of. So, too, with many religious leaders. Like good ship captains they dutifully steer their passengers through calm and stormy seas alike, without being able to guide them to that place of universal stillness.

That which is universal is present in us from the earliest age. My explorations in this chapter of wonder, belonging, trust, acceptance, and humility are meant to facilitate our reengagement with these universal depths that we used to know so well. Perhaps what I’ve written here will serve to deepen and strengthen your experience of whatever religious tradition you might call home. On the other hand, it might also serve to bolster your belief that all religious experience is merely a mythic interpretation of biologically explainable phenomena. I am not in control of what you may do with that which you already know. I intend only to bring it into greater awareness.

Wonder, that wide-eyed, direct experience of reality that was so common in our childhood has never left us. It has merely been covered over with knowledge, explanation, and conceptualization. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with knowledge, explanation, and conceptualization as long as we don’t let it get in the way of our direct experience of reality. This is where wisdom comes in.

Belonging, that sense of safety, connection, and even oneness that we hopefully experienced in our families of origin and in our earliest experiences of the natural world still remains – if only as something that we long to re-experience in some way. We used to trust in our belonging so completely that we were fearless, and totally free to be whatever it was that our being was blossoming into in any given moment. Along the way, however, we got sidetracked with fleeting concerns that are meaningless in the ultimate sense. The recognition of the fleetingness of these concerns is wisdom, too.

The acceptance of that which is comes much more naturally to children. The realization that our various struggles with the ever-changing circumstances of our existence need not be so is a return to the wisdom that we once embodied. Before we came to believe in, crave, and celebrate our ability to control every aspect of our lives we embodied the humility to realize that we could not. This, too, was the innate wisdom with which we were born.

So, it is one thing to recognize these spiritual attributes as being present in, if not integral to our childhood being, it is another thing to recognize these spiritual attributes as having a place in our adult lives, and it is another thing altogether to work towards making these spiritual attributes an integral part of our present day existence. Shall we count on our recognition of the meaningfulness of these attributes to somehow elevate them to regular appearance in our day-to-day lives? Shall we hope that our insight into their importance will, in and of itself, precipitate their actualization? This will be the topic of the next and final chapter of this book. I hope that you will return in order to read the conclusion.


Image References

L’Extase by Jean Benner via:
Original Rustic Garden Gate on Riverside at Eynsford by Richard Croft via:

Copyright 2015 by Mark Frank

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Acceptance and Humility - That Which We Already Know

Chapter 8 (third continuation)

Acceptance and humility are closely related attributes. A person with abundant humility can accept much more readily those unpleasant situations that would chafe one who is challenged in this regard. For instance, how often have we thought to ourselves or declared outright that something was unacceptable to us on the basis of our having an inflated opinion of our deservedness? The accommodations were unacceptable. The meal was unacceptable. The way they spoke to us was unacceptable. Each of these statements essentially arises from the opinion that we deserve better than we received. The accommodations might be acceptable for a vagabond, for instance, but not for us. The meal might be acceptable for a beggar, or a hungry dog perhaps, but not for us. It might be okay to speak like that to just anyone off the street, but not to us.

Earlier in this chapter I spoke about how the stronger our sense of self becomes the more focused we become on where our edges meet the world. These are good examples of that phenomenon. Rather than our being grateful for receiving the food and shelter that we need, we allow ourselves to feel slighted because they’re not up to whatever standards we might have set for ourselves. It’s not enough that communication is taking place; it must take place in a manner and tone, and with sufficient deference on the part of the other person such that our self-image is upheld.

Lackluster dinners, substandard lodging, and “rude” exchanges are pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Frequently enough, though, things happen that totally derail whatever plans we might have had or sense of normalcy we might have felt. Severe illness or accident, broken relationships, career setbacks, financial devastation, death of a loved one – none of these are easy to accept. At first blush it may not seem that humility would have anything to do with our ability to accept these more tragic twists and turns in life, but I think it does. A similar lack of humility is present when we think such thoughts as: “This shouldn’t be happening to me”, or “I don’t deserve this,” or “Why would God let this happen to me?”

We tend to get pretty enamored with the illusion of our own specialness. Stars can explode, earthquakes and hurricanes can devastate entire cities, genocide can be perpetrated against millions of people, but somehow the universe should tread gently around us due to the obvious specialness of our being! Indeed, there is little humility in such thinking, but let us also be quick to forgive the irrationality of our own grieving self.

Children, on the other hand, are masters of acceptance. It might not seem that way if you’ve been witness to a temper tantrum recently, but bear with me for just a moment. Think of the way a child weathers an illness or accident. No, they’re not immune to pain, but they are immune to much of the suffering that befalls an adult with the same prognosis. The reason for this is that a child’s awareness resides much more often in the present moment than does the awareness of an adult. Sure enough, both the child and the adult are aware of their pain in the here and now, but the adult is much more likely to be suffering from the mental anguish that frequently accompanies the experience of pain.

The reason is that we adults are more likely to be dwelling in the past, or living in the future – either ruminating over how we might have behaved differently in order to have avoided the pain of the present, or pondering a life that will now be shorter than we’d anticipated, without the abilities that we’ve come to take for granted, or far less meaningful or enjoyable than the one we’ve come to enjoy. We’re more likely to be angry with our God for letting such a bad thing happen to us. We’re more likely to be angry at all those people who are “less deserving” than we are, but who, nonetheless, don’t have to deal with what we’re dealing with. We’re more likely to be angry at the very universe from which we arise for the existence of the circumstances of our suffering in the first place. Why are we born into such fragile bodies, anyway? Leave it to the vicissitudes of life to reveal all the many ways that our lack of humility becomes manifest.

Another reason that children are more accepting than we adults is that they are much less likely to harbor illusions as to what they “should” be able to do. We adults have more expectations for ourselves than we’re even aware of. We “should” be able to beat whatever illness we might contract. We “should” be able to recover from whatever accident might befall us. We “should” be able to overcome every problem or difficulty with some ingenious and life-improving solution. We “should” be able to go out and acquire all of the trappings of our modern, materialistic society. We “should” be able to find work to support ourselves and our families, regardless of the fact that the economy has grown out of synch with the needs of so many people. Children, however, are not caught up in such a tangled web of ideas. They are children, after all, and almost everything they encounter is bigger and stronger than they are! Children have no expectation that they should be in control of whatever situation they might be facing. And we all know what thrives in the empty space between what is and what “should” be. Yes, depression, anxiety, and meaninglessness.

Humility is not a very much appreciated trait in our culture. We celebrate those with the greatest refinement of taste, those who speak the most audaciously and convey the most unshakeable self-assurance. We celebrate the winners who go after what they want and let everyone else know that they’ve prevailed. I suppose when we celebrate such traits in the kings and queens of politics, sports, industry, and popular culture, we celebrate them in ourselves as well. Perhaps we need assurance that the self that we’ve spent so much energy creating is really a worthwhile pursuit. Perhaps it’s just our karma.

Please stay tuned for a brief wrap-up of Chapter 8. After that it's on to the final chapter!

Image References

Stained Glass Window by Phillip Medhurst via:
Original Rustic Garden Gate on Riverside at Eynsford by Richard Croft via:

Copyright 2015 by Mark Frank

Friday, February 6, 2015

Trust - That Which We Already Know

In the previous post I examined belonging. It’s difficult to feel that we belong when we lack trust. Whether we’ve fallen in with a group of “friends” who are prone to sniping behind each other’s backs, or a religious group whose dogma we just can’t buy into anymore, our inability to trust can keep us from feeling that we belong. But what about the most fundamental sense of belonging that I spoke of in the previous post – our universal belonging – our belonging as witness to the universe from which we arise? In what do we trust when we feel such belonging? I’ll be exploring the nature of such trust over the course of the next few pages.

Trust can be difficult to maintain in a world where little stays the same for long – where family and friends pass away, and relationships come and go – where what we once enjoyed is either taken from us, or else it gradually ceases to be as pleasurable as it used to be. Yes, we are part of this ever-changing world, and often enough we end up changing long before what we used to love has ceased to be, or transitioned into something else. Perhaps we used to love to run mile upon mile upon mile, but now our knees have gotten too bad for anything longer than a run across a busy street. Perhaps we once enjoyed long evenings out on the town with friends, but now all that noise and commotion and frenetic energy just leaves us drained and unfulfilled.

And so it is that some of us learn to trust in our ability to always get what we want. Sure, the world is always changing, and we are always changing. We recognize that reality. But our constant is our ability to always go out and get what we want or need, no matter what the changing circumstances might be. We find solace in our resiliency and our adaptability. Look closely, though. What is the real nature of the currency that you possess? If it’s not money, then perhaps it’s your connections, your looks, or your charm. Perhaps it’s your physical prowess or your intimidating presence, your intelligence or your shrewdness. You might find it difficult to envision this “currency” ever being taken away from you, but the fact of the matter is that change itself has a way of taking from us everything that we hold dear.

So, what can we trust to never, ever change? What in this world is true and constant? Where is our rock amidst so much shifting sand? Of course, religion is that rock for many, to the extent that their trust remains unchanged. But trust or faith in God, or whatever description of metaphysical reality one’s chosen religion might espouse, is difficult to maintain for an entire lifetime. Religion might provide a strong foundation for many a meaningful year, but even the strongest of foundations can be collapsed by the quaking of waning faith. How many times have we heard somebody wonder what kind of God would “stand by” and let such a thing happen whenever a child is brutally slain or taken by disease before her life had really begun? Indeed, belief in a God that will forever protect us and our loved ones on account of our faith and devotion is just one tragedy away from crumbling. But faith can wane even without the occurrence of any overtly tragic event. Simply “living into” a belief system can reveal areas where we have to stretch and strain too much in order to make it fit. Thus, even one’s self-proclaimed “rock” of faith is not immune to the winds of change, because the winds of change include the changing of the hearts and minds of each and every one of us.

How, then, can we ever really trust, and what do we place our trust in when we do? The answer lies in that which we already know – the trust in being itself that every child has. This innate trust can either be nurtured or neglected depending upon the circumstances in which the child is raised; but even if it is roundly trampled, it is never completely destroyed.

We take it for granted that young children should be sheltered from the harsh realities of life. As such, we try to protect them, to the extent that it is prudent, from knowledge of the violence and chaos that is “out there” in the world at large. Over time, though, news of a darker reality inevitably seeps into the sheltered homestead in which the child and her family dwell. Death, disease, catastrophe, and child abduction cannot be kept at bay forever. However, by the time such realities do begin to encroach upon the child’s world, it is at least hoped that she’ll have no reason to doubt such parental assurances as: "nothing bad like that could ever happen to you," or "of course we’ll always be here to take care of you."

The trust of children is such that everything in the world is taken at face value. A child has no need for his parents’ reassurance prior to him being exposed to the darker realities of the world. If he has not yet experienced any tragedy in any way, either first or secondhand, then the thought of it can gain no purchase in his mind. But once tragedy does find its way into his imaginings, once he does become in need of reassurance, he has no reason to doubt his parents’ calming words. How could he possibly doubt them if he’s never been given any reason to doubt their words before? A child’s trust is not based upon belief. A child’s trust is not based upon imaginings and supposition. It is based completely on his experience of being and nothing more.

But how can such a realization about trust even begin to help those of us who are long in years and with a wealth of accumulated experiences that give us no recourse but to doubt? How can we ever learn to trust in any way that even remotely resembles the innocent trust of children? One way is to dispense with belief altogether. Without belief there is no faith that can be shaken. Without belief we can only see things as they are.


Image References

Lucky Horse Shoe by Man Vyi via:
Original Rustic Garden Gate on Riverside at Eynsford by Richard Croft via:

Copyright 2015 by Mark Frank

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Belonging - That Which We Already Know

Chapter 8 (continued)

As I stated in passing in my previous post, The Jewel of Wonder, finding our way along the path of a particular spiritual tradition can be like orienting a map to the terrain. In orienting a map to the terrain we try to find a couple of landmarks that correspond to those on the map so that we might have greater confidence in its ability to help us find our way. Of course, the terrain in this analogy is our interior world and the qualities of our awareness. The map, then, is the aggregation of the teachings of whatever spiritual tradition to which we’ve dedicated ourselves.

Spiritual traditions usually have something to say about the qualities of awareness that they value in the figures that they revere. Unfortunately, if we don’t believe that we’ve ever experienced those qualities of awareness ourselves, then we might begin to doubt our ability to ever experience them at all. We might consider them to be the sole purview of the saints and sages, but not us ordinary folk. The danger with our placing revered figures up on pedestals, however, is that we risk turning them into little more than objects of our worship or devotion rather than examples that we might emulate. As a result, our spiritual practice might become one in which we’re always travelling, travelling, travelling (wandering?), without ever arriving at our “destination.” What a shame that would be, given the fact that our destination is this very moment!

What I hope to convey in the pages of this book is that we know more about the qualities of awareness of the saints and sages than we might think, and by bringing these qualities of awareness “down to earth” – by recognizing them in ourselves – we can begin to experience them with greater regularity. We simply have to recognize the landmarks. I spoke of wonder in the last post. To this we can add belonging, with more to come in future posts. Let me begin again with belonging.

While I’m out backpacking in the woods or hiking up in the mountains, it sometimes occurs to me that I’m a little bit like an astronaut visiting another planet. I have my meager supply of food and water, and gear enough to protect me from the elements, but my life-support system will only last for so long. After that I’ll have to go back to where I “belong.” Sure, if I were a better outdoorsman, I might extend my visit an appreciable amount. But even the best outdoorsmen eventually make their way back to civilization. It is a rare individual indeed who can head off into the forest to live indefinitely – as if she belonged there.

On the other hand, the plants and animals of the natural world always belong. Their very existence is proof of this. If a seed sprouts, it’s because conditions were right for it. It belongs. If an animal is born, it’s because its parents found food and shelter enough to bring offspring into this world. It, too, belongs. We modern humans, however, have a conflicted relationship with the natural world. We don’t just put down roots and reach toward the sun. We don’t just forage for food and burrow for shelter wherever we might find ourselves. We have more precise and complicated requirements than these – endlessly precise and complicated, it sometimes seems. Whereas wild things always belong, we humans struggle to belong even in those places that we’ve totally designed to meet our needs. We’ve grown too distant from the natural world in order to feel that we belong there, and yet our modern, manmade world too often fosters in us loneliness and alienation instead of the belongingness that we crave.

Our struggle begins the moment we venture from the cozy nest of belongingness that is our family home – the emotional template for what we will be searching for out there in the larger world. And even if our family home was a dysfunctional one, we nonetheless likely acquired some intuitive sense of what it was that we missed way back when – what our family life “should” have been like. Regardless, once we reach a certain age we each head off to school alone where we struggle to fit into at least one of the various groups or cliques that inevitably form there. We struggle to become educated in order that we might somehow fit into this complex and unforgiving modern economy. We struggle to get our foot in the door of some company that we might begin to work our way up the career ladder to the place where we think we will belong. We struggle to fit in with our neighbors and coworkers and fellow spiritual travelers. We struggle to find a partner with whom to raise a family or simply enjoy the intimate sense of belonging that such companionship can provide.

All our lives we struggle in order to feel that we belong, and every now and then we taste its sweetness. Ah, but then we get laid off, or transferred out of town. Our relationship with our partner comes to an end, or the one with our spiritual community begins to sour. And so our struggle begins all over again to carve out a place in the wilderness of modernity where we might feel that sense of belongingness once again.

But might there be a place where we always belong – no matter what has happened to us, or is happening to us, or who we have become? Obviously, I’m not thinking of any particular place where we might find ourselves. I’m thinking of a state of mind, a realization of who and what and where we really are. Forget everything about yourself that might exist in some file or database regarding your financial assets, or your credentials and qualifications. In the grand scheme of things such measures are little more than the tallies of petty parlor games. Forget everything about where you think you came from and where you think you’re going. These are mere distractions from this moment here and now. Forget your name and forget your face. For nothing that is really meaningful has anything to do with either one. In the vastness of the space-time of our universe you are an observing consciousness born of unique causes and conditions that will never be repeated. Like the wild animals born of their parents, and the windblown seeds that find a spot of earth in which to root, you belong. You are the universe observing the universe, and you belong.

Such truth went without saying when we were younger and without such complicated ideas as to who and what we are. We needed no coaching then in order to dedicate our entire being to observation and wonder. We belonged then without even trying to belong. But the stronger our sense of self became, the more focused we became on where our edges met the world, and the more easily we overlooked the fact that we arise from the world as opposed to being born into it. In other words, the more complicated we become the more difficult it was for us to feel that we belong. So much has to be just right. So much has to be just so.

So, what is the belongingness of your experience? Is it a childhood memory of warmth and caring and protection, or is it a sense of something missed? Do you feel it now within the friendship and kinship and spiritual groups of the life that you presently live, or are those the very places that you hope to find it? Is yours the belongingness of Christianity – the belongingness of the prostitutes and tax collectors and centurions and criminals, and all the otherwise “unwelcome” people who belong just as much as everyone else within the Kingdom of God? Is it the belongingness of Buddhism, for instance, in which everything is dependent upon everything else for its very existence? How can anything not belong when everything is so dependent on everything else?

Yes, there are many ways to think of it, and many ways to experience it. But if you need just a hint as to how to get in touch with it – belongingness in the deepest, inalienable sense – try finding that place on the grass once again… Lay back and gaze up at the sky. Forget what you’ve become, or whatever it is that you think you’ve done with your life. Become the child that you once were, without a past and without a future. You are the universe perceiving the universe, and nothing else is expected of you. This is your birthright. This is where you belong. Ah, but can you trust that it is so?!

Ah, trust…

To be continued…

Image References

Benary Cross by Wilhelm Benary via:
Original Rustic Garden Gate on Riverside at Eynsford by Richard Croft via:

Copyright 2015 by Mark Frank