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Illumination

Light illuminates objects,

presenting them to our eyes.

 

Before the light

They exist only as obstacles in the dark

with rough or smooth textures,

big or small shapes.

 

But once light runs through an object,

reaching our eyes

It becomes a thing of beauty.

 

The light brings life

The light brings awesome sights

and stunning colors.

 

With the light, even an instrument of death

gleams like a jewel.

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Spider web in the sun

Iridescent silk threads

Run from the leaves.

An intricate design

Beautifully illuminated by the sun.

 

Haiku Version

Iridescent silk

Threads from the rose leaves inward

Spinning a rainbow

The Meaning of Suffering

One of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism is that suffering is universal.  What is ‘suffering’ exactly?  Well, the origin of the English word ‘suffer’ comes from Latin ‘sub’ (from below) and ‘ferre’ (to bear).  So, this connotes the idea of bearing or carrying something from below.  I can see it as carrying on ourselves the things of this ‘below world’ in contrast to the airy lights of the heavens.

Another way of defining suffering has been defined as ‘to allow something to occur or to be subject to something.’  As living creatures or physical beings, we are in a world where things occur for one reason or another and we are affected by these occurrences. We are subject to the law of cause and effect.  This is suffering.

Our senses take in information from the outside world and our brain interprets these outside stimuli as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  Good is something that promotes survival or what our body sees as leading to survival or continuity and growth.

Bad are those things that threaten survival: things that destroy, cause damage, or lead to discontinuance, damnation, or death.

Our nerves send messages of contentment and harmony when outside influences are judged as good or messages of pain, avoidance, discomfort, or discord or dissatisfaction when things are judged as bad.

Suffering basically involves being subject to causes.  In the language of Buddha, Pali, the word used was apparently, ‘dukkha’, which means unsatisfactory, unpleasant, or unhappy.  This word is opposed in the same language to the word, ‘sukha’ which means happiness, comfort or ease.

In the Aryan language from which this language derives, the words ‘su’ and ‘dus’ are prefixes meaning ‘good’ and ‘bad’.  “Kha” is a hole and was used to refer to an axle hole in wagons.  So ‘sukha’ meant a good axle hole, which would lead to a comfortable ride; whereas, “duhka”would mean a “a bad axle hole” which would lead to an uncomfortable ride.

Suffering or discomfort is universal.  We all have to bear the bad effects  of unsatisfactory and destructive causes.

The meaning of suffer in English reminds me of the injunction to Christians upon the covenant of baptism, to “bear one another’s burdens.”  So, what does this mean?  I take it to mean that we are to not just bear our own burdens of the effects of burdensome causes, but we are to carry also the burdens of others, or in other words get involved in other people’s lives so that the causes that affect them affect us also.  We work to serve others to share their troubles or joys- and therefore make their burdens lighter.  We are meant to share and be involved in other’s lives, especially in the unity of the Church.

In addition, the Aryan word ‘sukha’ reminds me of the English word ‘succor’ and I am reminded how Christ said that he would know how to succor his people based on the fact that he descended below all things.  Christ suffered as well on this Earth and bore our burdens to an amazing degree.  Because Christ understands and experienced the good and the bad, having a thorough knowledge and experience of Good and Evil – he can help bring to pass the Good and ease the Evil.  We can be partners with him in learning Good and Evil since Adam and Eve, our forebears, partook of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This led them and all of us into an endless cycle of dualities in which we truly do experience both good and bad and learn the difference. Through doing this we can help each other and help Christ in bringing forth the good or ‘prize the good’ and help those that suffer the bad as well.

More Musings on Life

Heaven shines whiter than marble and pearl.  Its purity is more than my sullied soul can stand.  This mortal world of uncleanness and death and decay is my birthright. 

From the messiness of fleshly fluids I was conceived.   My body grew inside the warm womb of my forebear.  It grew and was quickened with life, and when the time was right, my body broke from its comfortable prison and went forth into the wide, open, free world.  I was cleansed from the sully of my original prison when I entered the world.   My body was stimulated and nurtured in order to survive in its new environment.  

But I became a clean slate as I entered this new world, soon to be filled with the writings of my experiences.   My new body learned to experience and interpret the objects around me.   I could feel pain and I could feel pleasure.   But I didn’t know what pain was until I felt it.  Pleasure was simply getting what I wanted and needed.

Sometimes I would sacrifice pleasure or inadvertently subject myself to pain in order to learn or reach an objective.  My growing mind yearned to know and experience.  And I would search out knowledge even at the risk of pain, like the time I wanted to feel the smoothness of a sculpted bird on the side of the hot wood stove, and burnt my finger in the process.

Life taught me pain and pleasure.  It taught me what was bad for my body and what was desirable or good for my body.  People, through words, written and spoken, taught me morality, what was right or wrong.  I am sure simple observation of people and how they reacted to each other also taught me this.

But when and how did I really learn that it was wrong to take something that wasn’t mine?  Or how did I know that when I broke something that it was something to be ashamed of? 

Memories of how I learned these things are not ones that I can clearly recall.  But I do know that when I did such things that people who knew did not react positively when such things happened.  I was physically punished by my parents for certain things, such as wetting the bed, saying a bad word even when I didn’t even know it was a bad word, and generally by not doing what I was told to do.

Whether my sense of rightness and wrongness was in me all along or whether it was taught to me  entirely through the actions and words of others I cannot be certain.  But I did gain a sense of the good and the bad and the just and the unjust, the right and the wrong.  And I realize now that these were the rules of the game which every member of a society or community of souls must encounter and face.

In school, our school work was evaluated as being right or wrong, good or bad.  In our learning, we were judged for our abilities. 

In the church I was brought to as a child, I learned the stories of the scriptures, the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  I was taught concepts of right and wrong and asked about what the right thing to do was in certain circumstances.  I learned the precepts of my family’s creed.  And, when I was eight years old, which is the age that is considered to be the age of accountability in my religion, I was taken to a font of water, the purifying liquid of H2O, and submerged in the rite of baptism.

Baptism was supposed to be the way that my sins were cleansed from me and I became a new member of the Church (or assembly) of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  This made me a new person and made me a part of the group of the followers of Jesus Christ in this worldwide institution.

This rite was meant to be the way that I could one day return to the purity and sanctity of heaven after having sojourned in the messy, mortal world where my body had first been born.  This baptism was a way of being born again, once born in the filthiness of the flesh, now born and confirmed in the sanctification of the Spirit.

But can I remain as pure as the day I was cleansed?  Surely, it would seem unlikely.  But the purifying blood of the Innocent, Holy Lamb of God, Jesus the Christ, would in some way, make my soiled garments clean again.  Somehow, the bright, red blood of the Lord would take away the stains of my own filthiness.  His right makes up for all of my wrongs. 

This is the story and the myth that I was told and the one that I hold onto for hope as I grow older and face the degradations and struggles of life.  So that some day I can return to the warm comfort of peace and purity that is Heaven, or the womb from which my Spirit came.

 

Ask, Seek, Knock

 

7 ¶ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matthew 7: 7-8)

This is my Christ scripture today from my Christ-centered calendar that I created.  I think it is worth commenting on.  The words seem simple, but are filled with truth and promise.  The three injunctions are quite instructive.  In this scripture the Lord instructs us to do three things:  Ask, seek, and knock. 

When you are praying about something, you need to first formulate the thought in your mind and then formulate this thought into coherent speech directed towards God.  This is asking. 

After you ask you must seek.  Seeking implies searching for answers.  This can be done through thinking about things, searching the scriptures and other words of wisdom, or researching topics or decision possibilities.

The last step is knocking.  Knocking implies a physical action in which you do work towards gaining your desire or testing things out by performing action in order to go forward with faith and see what the outcomes will be.  The scripture says that if you ask, you shall receive, if you seek, you shall find and if you knock, it shall be opened unto you.  This appears to be a 3-step process that if followed can bring great dividends.   

 

The Parable of the Wheat and Tares

I just had an inspiration concerning Christ’s parable of the wheat and the tares as found in Matthew.  See below the parable:

Matthew 13:24-30 King James Version (KJV)

24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

My thought on this subject is that in each of our lives we must live with the good and the bad, as symbolized by the wheat, being the good, useful grain, and the tares, being considered bad, are the undesirable element.

A definition of tares is given on www.biblestudytools.com: Tares [N] [S]

the bearded darnel, mentioned only in Matthew 13:25-30 . It is the Lolium temulentum, a species of rye-grass, the seeds of which are a strong soporific poison. It bears the closest resemblance to wheat till the ear appears, and only then the difference is discovered. It grows plentifully in Syria and Palestine.

I also read in the Merriam Webster online dictionary that the tares can refer to a plant called vetch which is grown for fodder or fertilizer.  In that case it would have a use, but not for human consumption.

In the beginning, as recorded in Genesis, God created the Earth and placed Adam and Eve, the first of humankind, in the Garden of Eden.  When God created the Earth he pronounced it “good”.  It is logical that God, who is good, would create a good world.  But in the Garden of Eden we see the entrance of the subtle serpent, who tempts Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit.  In this case the commandments of God are broken, and therefore, Satan, the serpent, the enemy of God, makes an entrance into this world of good, bringing in bad elements, bad being interpreted as the opposite of God, or good.  But the temptation of Satan was subtle, as they say, and he made the breaking of the commandment seem like a good thing.  Sometimes it is hard to distinguish the good from the bad, just like the above definition explains how the poisonous rye grass resembles the wheat in the beginning.

I feel that in this world and in each of our lives, we have good and bad experiences in each stage of our lives.  We often wonder why we must have bad in our lives.  Sometimes I wish I could go back and change my past and make different decisions, but I realize, that if I had made different decisions I would have avoided certain negative consequences, but I also would have not had the good experiences that came along with it.  In the parable of the wheat and tares, the Lord of the vineyard instructed the servants to let the wheat and tares grow together until the wheat was mature.  In our lives bad is allowed to happen in order for us to grow and learn.  If we had all the bad rooted out too early then we would not be able to fully mature.  We would be stunted in the same way that Adam and Eve would have been stunted in growth if they had remained as innocent children in the Garden of Eden without having to go out in the world and experience the travails of bearing children and working by the sweat of their brows for their own sustenance.

And yet, the parable says, once the wheat and tares have matured, then will the tares be separated and come to their final purpose, to be burned, as their use has been fulfilled.  Then the wheat will be gathered into the barns of our Lord.  This is a comforting thought, although I do not know the future or how it will all turn out.

 

 

Just some thoughts

I just want to share my Christ scripture for the day from the Christ-centered daily thought calendar I made for this year.

Jan 3

10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)

This spoke to me today.  What is this gift of God?  What is the living water?  I feel that it is the sustaining power that can come to us from Christ through the Atonement that he wrought for us to bring us back into the presence of God and give us immortality and the chance of Eternal Life.

I believe the Sacrament prayer gives us an idea of that:

79 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. (D&C 20:79)

Of course in the LDS Church we substitute water for wine now.  But it has the same symbolism.  He shed his life blood so that we could have the gift of the Holy Spirit with us always and guide and sustain us.  As he asked the woman at the well, though, he also asks each of us to give of ourselves.  He asked the woman at the well for water to drink.  Likewise, as I have been reminded by Mother Theresa, when he was on the cross he was reported to say, “I thirst.”  Just as He gives us the living water, we are asked to use what we have been given to serve Him through serving others and sharing His Gospel.  That’s the way I see it. I also believe we can each pray and ask God for this gift of living water in our own lives

I would also like to say I will miss the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Thomas S. Monson, who died yesterday.