The flowers don’t try to be good, or to wake up. They grow, they bloom, they die….the way it is.
Yesterday I had the most wonderful privilege of hanging out with Francis Bennett (author of Finding Grace and a Trappist monk for 30 years) and about ten other loving people.
Rain literally hammered on the windows of the home we were in.
Outside it was a misty, dark Pacific Northwest day.
But inside it was warm, bright and lively in our little gathering. Candles were lit, the fireplace burned. We had hot tea and snacks.
While Francis has beautiful messages to share….I mention my time with him most importantly because of two sweet perceptions and beliefs I held that got questioned for me, by listening to him and being in his presence.
I was raised attending church every Sunday in the Episcopal religion. Church was extremely important to my parents.
I remember well the church of my earliest years in Lawrence, Kansas….then the cathedral I went to for the rest of my life while in the home of my parents (and for many services afterwards, too).
My family sat in the second pew, middle section.
The feel, smell, sensations, sights and sounds in the cathedral bring back memories every time I enter.
I haven’t thought about some of the authors, quotes, or stories Francis shared in many years.
During the day together, thinking about his sharing about “surrender” and “service” I had these vague memories surface of how I used to feel in church.
I should be really good.
This came on bigger and louder during early teenage years.
(Francis, by the way, gives the opposite message: be the way you are, be human, embrace yourself, embrace your reactions, let it be the way it is, love you).
Even if you’ve never been in religious practice growing up as a child, you might notice you have ideas about what a good person is, what a bad person is (MUST AVOID!).
Even if you do not EVER use the word “good” (you might even rebel wildly against it) you may notice you have ideas about what is coolest, what is successful, what you wish you could be like, what you “should” be doing to be better than you are now.
The other day, a client was visiting her parents who are aging.
She was choked up in tears.
“I should clean their house, I should be doing their yard work, I should live closer, I should be thinking about how to take care of them, I should have more money….”
She was full of despair about her lack of goodness, even if she wasn’t putting it that way.
Who would you be without the belief, though, that you should be different?
What if you could try on the idea that there is nothing more required?
Not to be the best child to your parents, or the best parent to your kids, or the best business owner, or the best spiritual person, or the best physically conditioned person you could be, or the best helper.
Not even the best enlightened person, or person seeking awakening?
I sat there yesterday and had this idea I’ve had before, to question the belief there are any mistakes, or “wrong” ways of doing things.
Perhaps there are most efficient ways of doing and being, but we’re learning it every day, careening along, sometimes going off track, returning to the center, forgetting, remembering, moving in chaos, acting really childish, acting really mature, and eventually feeling the presence of peace all the time, no matter what.
I love how we all love peace so much, even if we’ve been very confused by our surroundings and our minds and perceptions.
Turning the thought around: I should be exactly as I am, no more, no less. I should not be good. (You might even have fun laughing with the turnaround that you should be really bad).
I am simply this….
No good, no bad, no right, no wrong, no pros and cons.
Just a feeling deeply under, back beneath and behind even the “I am” feeling of being someone, or something that even then needs to strive to be good or work hard or win or achieve or succeed.
You don’t even have to “get” it particularly.
All you need to do is stop and feel a stillness inside…..
…..and not believe your thoughts that you won’t be happy or good unless you “try” hard to get happy or good.
Kind of amazing, right?
I sometimes share the words of one of my favorite teachers, who is also very intense and not to be taken like a pill of self-criticism.
But I love his straight lazer-knife talk.
“No ambition is spiritual. All ambitions are for the sake of the ‘I am’. If you want to make real progress you must give up all idea of personal attainment. The ambitions of the so-called Yogis are preposterous. A man’s desire for a woman is innocence itself compared to the lusting for an everlasting personal bliss. The mind is a cheat. The more pious it seems, the worse the betrayal.” ~ Nisargadatta
What if you let go of the ambition to be the most incredible person you could ever be, and dropped your pushing?
What if you gave yourself a break?
Rest today, even for five minutes.
Enjoy yourself, enjoy.
Listen to Peace Talk on this same topic today.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE GOOD.
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