Tag Archives: Christ

Love is not Soft

Jesus said to Love your enemies. I don’t think he meant that our inability to do so should prevent us from acting. Dismantling oppression is an act of love, and in my mind it is one of the highest, deepest and most important expressions. We can’t wait until our love has matured to act. Our very waiting is the stunting of growth. It is a missed opportunity in a moment when we are being asked to step up.

But, while we fight, what if we allowed our love to grow? Because, after all, He did say it. Love your enemies.

The Love He talks about has room for the oppressor and the oppressed.  This is not a love in short supply at risk of depletion. It is an Endless Reservoir and an ability strengthened by its very use.

Let’s be clear: all forms of oppression must be stopped. This includes the radical hatred of white nationalists and the cruel indifference of sweatshop profiteers. The heart knows this truth, but it also knows this- Love isn’t soft.

It’s not about letting anyone off the hook. It’s not normalizing or minimizing. It’s not false equivalency or taking the middle road. It is simply ensuring that our hearts don’t close.

Since the 1950s the Dalai Lama has practiced Tonglen for the Chinese government, who are responsible for the mass genocide of the Tibetan people. In this practice he breathes in their suffering and breathes out goodwill towards them. When asked if his practice has had any benefit, the Dalai Lama said, “I think it has benefited me.”

I can’t allow my heart to grow cold towards anyone. If I were to find words to state my life’s mission, I might quote Kabir or Maharajji, who whisper at every moment, “Never put another person out of your heart.”

I have heard some of the cruelest, most racist and sexist words come out of children’s mouths like you wouldn’t believe. I have witnessed teens bully and physically attack others with weapons. It’s my job to love kids like that. With a child it’s unsettling. We instantly know those words and actions aren’t theirs, but rather an ill-fitted costume awkwardly draped over the body. But one day, if uncorrected, those very words and actions can shape a large part of their worldview.  The child will grow into that costume and form to its awkward shape, making it seem like a perfect fit.

Love is the antidote for that outcome. I can correct a child’s speech out of love. I can stop one person from hitting another while keeping my heart open to both of them. It’s easy with kids…

But I have also met adults that have been locked up for committing violent crimes, who completely blew me away by their level of compassion, empathy, introspection, and self-awareness. There are Bodhisattvas behind bars at this very moment that are more in touch with themselves than the vast majority of us on the outside.

Those who harm others have been harmed themselves. As the saying goes, “Hurt people hurt people.” Likewise, those that have healed from harm are those that can assist in the world’s healing. And, it’s never too late to heal. For anyone.

So what I’m asking is this: let’s work tirelessly to end all forms of oppression. Let’s take bold and creative steps to do so. That is Love in action, and we need that.

But, while we’re at it, let’s expand our Love and deepen it. Let’s open our hearts enough that we see the Truth of our own Unlimited Well… because, after all, He did say it…

Love your enemies
(Matthew 5:44)

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This Love has Room for Our Protest

Without me even noticing it, the conversation evaporated into silence. Ram Dass simply looked at me, and I melted into the chair, filled with love. I looked across the room towards him, and our eyes met. Just a few minutes ago he had told me the story of when Maharajji instructed him to meditate like Christ. Ram Dass asked him how Christ meditated, and Maharajji said, “He was lost in a sea of love.”

I was absolutely head-over-heels in love with the man before me, not because he was Ram Dass, but because his presence pulled me into a depth of Being within that could love anything. I realized that this is what it meant, at least in some small way, to meditate like Christ.

Ram Dass often says things like, “I love the wall, and the carpet, and this chair. I love my wheelchair.”

And when he says it, he means it. I saw this, not just in my darshan with him that day, but during following the two years that I lived with him. I would often see him sitting by himself, not reading, or napping, or thinking, or even meditating, but just sitting there, truly present and content. Because of his stroke, he is confined to a wheelchair, and his body is often in pain. Yet, he has a lightness about him that transcends his physical body. There is a joy and a contentment that can be at home with the pain.
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An Encounter with Christ

Below is a record of the day when there was no doubt that I had met the Guru. Its the day that I gained a true faith in Grace. Since that day She has taught me that there is only One, True Guru, and He/She/It is beyond anything that we can grasp.  The Guru is within. It’s the deepest reaches of our own heart, but It’s also a relationship. It’s not just love in an impersonal form, but that which loves us and wants nothing more than our evolution towards that love. Its that gentle hand of Grace that helps us along our path. It can come to us in the form of an angel, spirit guide, or our own Inner Voice.  For me, the Guru has come to me in the form of the great Indian Saint Neem Karoli Baba, but my first meeting was not in that form.

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

It was the Summer of 2008. I had just turned 23 years old. I moved to Eugene, Oregon for the summer to work as a wildland firefighter. This was my second summer in Eugene doing this work, and so my plan was to stay with Alden, a fellow firefighter, as we waited for the call to action. Due to a paperwork error at my fire company, I was not eligible to firefight when the call came to ship out to California.

It was a big fire, and the entire company was sent down there except me. This left me alone in Eugene, waiting until the error was fixed so I could go with them. In the meantime, the lease on Alden’s room was up and his next house would not be available for ten days. Alden and I were going to stay with some of his friends, but now he was out on fire and had no cell service. The only people I knew in town were firefighters who were all gone as well. So I made the best of it and decided to sleep in the city park until either the house became available, or I got the fire call.

In the meantime, I was dead broke and had debt to pay.  About seven months earlier I had been scammed out of 8,000 dollars, all of the money I had in my savings. (That is a story for another day.) After this I decided to move to the desert to work on myself and do some soul-searching. I was camping on the outskirts of Las Cruces, New Mexico and working just enough to buy food, see my spiritual healer and pay off my student loans. The solitude of desert life allowed me to practice pranayama, meditation and other spiritual exercises, thus I experienced some extreme spiritual highs. This was a big deal to me because it was the first time I had ever been “high” without the use of drugs. I used these peak experiences as a marker for my spiritual “progress.”

I was not saving any money, however, and on my way back to Seattle I had car troubles that ended up maxing out my credit card. My credit card company, as a penalty for maxing out my card, raised my interest rate to 30 percent. I was not even able to pay off the interest as it accrued.

Not only was I broke and in debt, but emotionally broken. Once I returned to Seattle, all of the spiritual work I had done felt like it had completely shattered. I was having trouble reconnecting to my old friends and found myself still in love with a girl I had worked very hard to get over.

So here I was, homeless in Eugene and extremely depressed. I began having intense periods of longing for some Guru to come and take me away on my path to liberation, some Divine Being who could make everything alright. I had read Be Here Now, and I remembered its solemn words, “It’s really just another cop-out to be searching for the Guru.” God is within, and by waiting for some external thing to save me, I was just pausing the inevitable.

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