Category Archives: spirituality

“Serious” Spirituality

Two young seekers reflect together on the paradox and dynamic of being young men dedicated to the spiritual path.

One says, “I have found that if I am going to surround myself with people dedicated to serious spirituality, I am usually going to be one of the youngest in the room.”

“Serious” spirituality, eh? I didn’t know that spirituality was such a serious thing! I am struck most often with the lack of seriousness in the most influential spiritual teachers… why do you think that is? I suppose because they recognize that most things don’t really matter that much after all.

When I look at Jesus, I don’t see him as a deeply serious man. Not trite or jovial, necessarily… but not too serious. He talked about banquets where all were invited and no one came… he talked about paying people equal wages no matter what work they had done… he talked about life in the kingdom, life of love, forgiveness, no worries. I see him saying these things with a wink and a smile. Because he knew, he understood, he saw behind and around the seriousness.


The Golden Egg

A STORY as told by Fr. Anthony de Mello:

A reading from the scriptures:

This is what the Lord says: There was once a goose that laid a golden egg each day. And the farmer’s wife, who owned the goose, delighted in the riches that those eggs brought her. She was an avaricious woman, however, and could not wait patiently from day to day for her daily egg. She decided to kill the goose and get the eggs all at once.

Thus far the word of God!

An atheist heard that text from the scriptures and scoffed: You call that the word of God! A goose that lays golden eggs! It just goes to show the absurdity of your scriptures.

When a religious scholar read that text, he reacted thus: The Lord clearly tells us that there was a goose that laid golden eggs. If the Lord says this, then it must be true, no matter how absurd it appears to our poor human minds.

Now you will ask, as well you may, how an egg, while not ceasing to be an egg, can, at the same time, be golden. Different schools of religious thought attempt to explain it differently. But what is called for here is an act of faith in this mystery that baffles human understanding.

There was even a preacher who, inspired by that text, traveled through towns and villages zealously urging people to accept the fact that God had created golden eggs at some point in history.

It is better to teach people the evils of avarice than to promote belief in golden eggs.

The Zen Master and the Christian

A Christian once visited a Zen master and said, “Allow me to read you some sentences from the Sermon on the Mount.”

“I shall listen to them with pleasure,” said the master.

The Christian read a few sentences and looked up. The master smiled and said, “Whoever said those words was truly enlightened.”

This pleased the Christian. He read on. The master interrupted and said, “Those words com from a savior of mankind.”

The Christian was thrilled. He continued to read to the end. The master then said, “That sermon was pronounced by someone who was radiant with divinity.”

The Christian’s joy knew no bounds. He left, determined to return and persuade the master to become a Christian.

On the way back home he found Jesus standing by the roadside. “Lord,” he said enthusiastically, “I got that man to confess that you are the divine!”

Jesus smiled and said, “And what good did it do you except to inflate your Christian ego?” – de Mello

A simple story for 2011

Yesterday, I had a truly wonderful 2-hour conversation with my father. We covered God, Christ, creation, the cosmos, scripture, life, questions, faith, and more. I realized that while my ideas of God and our connection with life are indeed complicated and thought-through, it really is practiced in a simple way for me.

In closing, as I told him that our understanding of how we are united with God has to inform and feed our sense of unity with all of the earth, he asked me, “Nate, if people were to look at all that you are writing and sharing, what percentage would they find related to connection with the earth and with life… and what percentage would they find related to faith, belief, and relationship with God or Christ.”

“100 percent and 100 percent,” I said. “They cannot be separated.”

So with that, I have been reflecting on a story for weeks now… again from Anthony de Mello, from his book The Song of the Bird.

A tale from Attar of Nishapur:

The lover knocked at the door of his beloved. “Who knocks?” said the beloved from within. “It is I,” said the lover. “Go away. This house will not hold you and me.”

The rejected lover went away into the desert. There he meditated for months on end, pondering the words of the beloved. Finally he returned and knocked at the door again.

“Who knocks?”
.”It is you.”

The door was immediately opened.

To be a Friend of the Divine!

Such a beautiful story from Fr Anthony de Mello

Malik, son of Dinar, was upset about the profligate behavior of a youth who lived next door. For a long time he did nothing, hoping someone else would intervene. But when the youth’s behavior became intolerable, Malik went to him and insisted that he change his ways.

The youth calmly replied he was a protégé of the Sultan, so no one could prevent him from living as he wished.

Said Malik, “I shall personally complain to the Sultan.” Said the youth, “That will be a waste of time because the Sultan will not change his mind.”

“I shall then denounce you to Allah,” Malik said. “Allah,” said the youth, “is far too forgiving to condemn me.”

Malik went away defeated. But after a while the youth’s reputation became so bad that there was a public outcry about it. Malik decided it was his duty to reprimand him. As he was walking to the youth’s house, however, he heard a voice say to him, “Do not touch my friend. He is under my protection.” Malik was thrown into confusion by this and, when he was in the presence of the youth, did not know what to say.

Said the young man, “What have you come for now?” Said Malik, “I came to reprimand you. But on my way here a voice told me not to touch you, for you are under his protection.”

The prolifigate seemed stunned. “Did he call me his friend?” he asked. But by then Malik had already left his house. Years later Malik met this man in Mecca. He had been so touched by the words of the voice that he had given up his possessions and become a wandering beggar. “I have come here in search of my Friend,” he said to Malik, and died.

God, the friend of a sinner! A statement as dangerous as it is effective. I tried it on myself once. I said, “God is far too forgiving to condemn me.” And I suddenly heard the Good News – for the first time in my life.

We are indeed the beloved daughters and sons of the Divine!