Sunday, February 20, 2011

Expanding My Community by 6,901,292,285.

The Catholic Community of Pleasanton's Friar Chris really came through for me today. First we got into my favorite bit from First Corinthians ("Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are."), then moved on to the turn the other cheek and love your neighbor as yourself business. The sermon was all about compassion, unconditional love, and seeing the Spirit within ourselves and the people around us. I was practically giddy. Yes! After years of searching for spiritual guidance that I could resonate with, I found it in my yogic practice and then found it again in my original spiritual foundation. What a beautiful journey home! But then...oh no!

Then the lines were drawn. According to Catholic teachings, the Spirit is only bestowed to those who are baptized and we share our compassion exclusively with other Christians. Noooo! You were so close to Divine Love, Catholic Church!

Of course, the Catholic Church is not alone in divisiveness. It seems a natural human tendency to want to feel special and included, which for some reason often means being able to exclude other people. This happens in religion, government, society and even in the yogic community. I read an interview with Rusty Wells recently in which he was asked about his biggest pet peeve. He said that nothing really bothers him except seeing divisiveness within the yogic community. He said that it's embarrassing to see teachers talk poorly about another style or teacher. What happened to namaste, ya'll? Why can't all our practices be valid and respected? Can't we all just get along?

So I'm sitting in church, slightly disheartened because where I come from "If you can't see God in ALL, you can't see God at all." (-Yogiji) I've become less interested in duality lately (within myself or my relationships) and far more into the idea of connecting with the One that lives in each of us...and in everything! I guess this is a hard idea to sell to the world because there are so many different ideas about what this One is and what this One wants from us and who gets to be close to this One...and debate about the very existence of this One. And everyone seems to think they are "right." We live in this polarized world where you are either right or wrong. But we're missing out on some seriously rich stuff by not allowing ourselves to exist in the gray area, where both parties could be right. Maybe my grandma's nun-like activities in the church and my almost constant chanting are more similar than different. Maybe we're climbing different ladders to the top of the same house, each reaching out to God...and when we get up to the top of the house we will have arrived at the same place with two different but still effective approaches. All rivers lead to the sea, right?

Here is my radical idea for the day: let's make everyone in the whole world a member of our community. Imagine how sweet and lovely it would feel to be welcomed home everywhere you go. Do you really have to be able to exclude someone else to feel special and included? Maybe, just for a little while, we can let go of our earthly differences and see each other as we actually are: spiritual beings having a human experience, each of us little manifested light beams of God in the world. That's the real meaning of "namaste"- the Divine in me honors the Divine in you.

Differences are interesting and important, but will only divide and conquer in the ways which you allow. With curiosity and a measure of humility it is possible to move past perceived difference and get at the real, juicy stuff that makes us who we are...beyond skin color, income bracket or yoga style. Make space in yourself to hold both you and the heart/mind/ideas of The Other. Allow both to be true and valid. We have so much to teach one another that we can never hope to learn if we don't make that space and open ever deeper.

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