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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Taking Refuge in Reality

Five of us, variously exhausted or uplifted, sat distributed on couches in the interview room. Our meditation teacher was checking in with us in the midst of a week-long silent retreat. One by one we responded. As usual, there were the usual happy yogis who had reached new heights of concentration, complete with interesting spiritual effects. The rest of us were detailing our rather more mundane struggles with the practice: distractions, obsessive thoughts, doubts. I had just finished adding my troubles to the pile when the teacher sent me a level look and said: “This is how it is right now.”

 

This is how it is right now. The whole of the Dharma in seven words.

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Prayer - it's not a one-way street...

A television show that I enjoyed, which originally aired in the late 90’s through to 2002, is Dharma and Greg. It is about a free-spirited woman with two hippy parents who is very spiritual, very loving and very funny. She marries a conservative born and bred lawyer, and the exchange, dynamic and growth between the two is what makes this such a great show.

At one point Dharma is praying in a hospital chapel, and her spirit guide, a Native American named George whom she connected with personally before he died, comes to her aid and offers advice in her time of need. He hears her praying, trying to have a conversation with whatever deity will listen in the multifaith chapel, and offers these very poignant words which I remember to this very day.

Dharma is feeling remorse because of harsh words she had about her mother, and now her mother is in danger of losing the child that she is carrying.

"George, my Mom might lose the baby."

"And you feel like you made this happen."

"It feels like it."

"Well if you did, they should put your picture up here on the spinning God Wheel", he says, indicating the multifaith prayer icon on the altar.

"Whether I did it or not, I was thinking it."

"Because you were angry."

"So what should I do now? Do you think I should stay here and pray?"

"What do you mean by praying?"

"I don't know - talk to the universe, to God, the Great Spirit, whatever It is."

“Huh. So, you’re having a conversation with the Great Spirit, the Maker of All Things, and you’re doing the talking?”

"Oh, right."

This, indeed defines for me the nature of what prayer is seen as today. Even if we are not asking for anything, a lot of prayer in our culture and society consists of a one-way conversation between the individual and the deity/spirit in question. Prayer is a relationship, for me, and as such necessitates a give and take in everything, including both spoken and unspoken words. Too often in prayer, we forget to listen. When we speak and then listen, then we are communing. Otherwise, we are just talking.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Great reminder, Joanna. We love Dharma and Greg, too, and George is a genius character. There are direct parallels between Nativ
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    I think all earth-based traditions will have many similarities I do love that saying as well. So very true. x
  • Kim Campbell
    Kim Campbell says #
    Thank you for this post. You make an excellent point that we all seem to forget.
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Thanks, Kim! x

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Since the Beginning of everything, the universe has been in a boiling state of turmoil. Stars are born, only to eventually explode and turn into pulsars and black holes. Galaxies whirl and smash into each other because of massive imbalances which result in constant movement. Movement is life. Life is change. 

It is the business of each one-celled organism in the ocean to seek its own bliss—its own dharmic balance. The same is true of all fish, all mammals, all reptiles and birds. It is likewise our business as human beings to seek our own bliss, each of us striving to find our proper work and function in life that will bring us perfect satisfaction and tranquility—for only in that way can we make our most complete contribution to the whole. If all life on earth could achieve dharma, then world Dharma would automatically result. 

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