Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, April 16, 2022 - The Footprints

Did you know the origin of Christianity is actually a life practice? A way. Not specifically a belief (although belief is very much a part of it), but more a way of being. Not a dogma. But a dharma.

A dharma, in the instance, is a life practice. A set of rules we choose to follow for good living. A simple set of ethical guidelines for being in good relationship with ourselves, others, the Earth and with God. Ways of leaving the Earth a little more loving than we found it. Not a requirement of belief, so much as a reminder of how to gently and lovingly be.

The Golden Rule is a perfect example of a dharma. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Be as kind to other people as you want them to be kind to you. Simple rule, but with very complex concepts behind it, upon which we may meditate for the rest of our lives. 

When you look at the words and actions of Jesus, there’s a dharmic pattern of teaching which emerges with six different categories. He taught the life practices of forgiveness, compassion, hospitality, noneresistance, empowerment, and gratitude. 

All the things which he spoke about, demonstrated, or explained in parable form were about relationship. How we interact with other people. How we diffuse a tense or dangerous situation. How we treat our sick, widowed, orphaned, and imprisoned. How to raise one another up. 

One step further, the Christian dharma is about actively making things better among one another. Not just remaining peaceful, but actively healing. 

The active practice of forgiveness is about the ending of anger in your heart and the bias in your actions, which only makes things worse. It’s about choosing to end cycles of resentment and violence. Not forgetting people’s actions, but letting go of the anger. 

Compassion is an active choice to dig deep underneath the critical feelings we have about others to see their humanity, perhaps even their divinity. Our actions reflect the judgments we have about others. We make better, smarter judgments when we see their humanity. 

Hospitality is about being open and welcoming to new ideas and strangers. It’s a choice to be at peace with a constantly changing world with new faces and races and beliefs than we have ever been exposed to before. Opening the door is the first step. 

Noneresistance is the willingness to love someone or something right where they are. First, making an assumption that the best possible transformation occurs when in the presence of love. Second, that only the use of judgment and fear prevents us from loving things as they are. What they are becomes a distortion of what they might have been. 

Empowerment is the active outreach of raising people up. Healing them. Teaching them. Encouragingly. Without threat or fear. Only love. 

Finally, the deliberate practice of gratitude is the mayonnaise here. It is the conduit of the Holy Spirit, if you will. It is that which completes the circuit. It fills in the gaps of our ability to comprehend the magnitude of it all. It is dark matter. Gratitude plugs us into the divine. 

The celebration of Easter is all the more meaningful when we remind ourselves that loving one another by raising each other up was the primary lesson Jesus taught and lived for. 

Everyone has their own worldview on this of course, and all of them matter. When in doubt, however, simply love one another. Love will know what to do next. 

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