Saturday, March 14, 2015

Getting Schooled

"The first responsibility of love is to listen"
Paul Tillich

     Can you imagine paying a big price for a higher education and then sitting in class and just not listening? Of course not! Now can you imagine that not only was the professor your teacher but every other student was planted in class to help you learn? What an amazing scenario! What a privilege to be surrounded by so many teachers. And how silly it would be to cover your ears and close your eyes to their lessons. Now, I am not pretending I know much about matters of eternity, but what if your life is this school and everyone who crosses your path is your teacher? What is the whole reason our sweet souls occupy these bodies is just to learn from our moments?
When we constant allow our minds to time travel wallowing in the past of planning the future it is as if we are sitting in the school of life with ear covered. I do not know what your lesson plan is but I do know that the lessons are in this moment in time. Scripture instructs us to "think about what is true". well, neuroscience has proven that everytime we access a memory we subtly change the memory until that seed of a true memory has completely shifted into merely a fantasy. So I think its indisputable that memories are not solid truths. And, of course, thoughts of the future are predictions, fantasies, hopes and dreams nothing inherently wrong with glimpsing ahead for a moment but when we get stuck in future thought "I will be happy when ..." we get stuck in lies. The starting point for a good solid soul education is living in truth and that truth will be found in your moment to moment experiences.

     Now imagine you have a course you absolutely dread, lets say trigonometry! And a class you absolutely love, maybe theatre. So you skip trigonometry and you hang out all the time in the theatre classroom you love.  Well, soon enough you will realize you have missed a lot of lifes most valuable lessons by avoiding your suffering (trigonometry) but also by holding on so tightly to theatre that you never left the classroom all of the sudden your joys have lost some of their sparkle. One of the main reasons people suffer is that we do anything to avoid suffering and everything to hold on to pleasure. But when we avoid suffering, the lessons we are meant to learn from it will always manifest one way or another. And often the harder we work to avoid suffering the more intense the lesson plan becomes. And holding onto pleasures is the quickest way to stifle them. Trying to hold onto your pleasures past their time is like holding a butterfly in your closed fist. Allowing the constant flow of pain and pleasure and even perhaps boredom in the present moment is how we advance to the next grade.

     So, what about those awesome student teachers we are surrounded with? If you paid a therapist to tell you where you were a little neurotic I'll bet you would listen and try to shift from that valuable advice. But everytime someone cuts us off in traffic, doesn't it uncover a little neurosis? Everytime your family uses a sharp finger to push your big fat buttons, isn't that a valuable time to self reflect?
I know its been said so many times, but every person who crosses your my path really is just a mirror reflecting back our goodness and our fears. But so often instead of heeding the lessons of these teachers we retreat to an empty classroom of blame or victimization. Everytime you hear yourself blaming someone for something just know you are wasting an opportinuty for growth.

     I had a big "aha moment" a few months ago listening to Princes "Doves Cry". In particular the lyric "Maybe you're just like your Mother, she's never satisfied" How often do we catch ourselves in a "grass is always greener" mentality? When I am alone I often want to go hang out with a friend and when I am surrounded by people I often long for solitude. I could list probably a couple thousand examples of this greener grass scenario and so could you. So, my intention is no matter what a moment brings, whether its a big belly laugh with another sweet soul, or a icky moment scrubbing my toilet that I will simply be satisfied. Every human will find themselves more pleased in certain circumstances and less in others. but what if we could come to the point where in every moment we are satisfied that what is happening is our lesson? What if we really paid attention without pushing away circumstances or trying to hold onto them? If you listen closely to your moments and let life flow you may find that your life is a spectacular song.

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