my way your way

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

A friend posted a quote from Pablo Picasso this morning on Facebook: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” That gave me pause until I realized one of the spiritual lessons repeatedly emphasized to me this past year is the importance of receiving God’s love and then expressing it through yourself to others. In a way, then, my gift of God’s love can only be part of my reality if I am willing to receive it, aware of receiving it, and able to share it with others.

I went to bed last night disheartened. I had just read many “non-spiritually focused” political statements, and I got so irritated with one comment that I responded by reminding the person who wrote it that the Bible tells us not to judge others and to love one another as ourselves. That was a mistake. Both parties in the political disagreement got somewhat  defensive——and I realized that my initial posted response was just another expression of “judging others.”

In one of the book study groups I met with this week we were discussing Richard Rohr’s (2009, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, pp. 32-33) discussion of how we should know better than to view everything dualistically, especially when it comes to viewing everything as “all right” or “all wrong.”  He talks about having to cultivate the ability to “stand back and calmly observe my inner dramas, without rushing to judgment” as an essential ingredient of spirituality. One of the paragraphs he wrote in this section of his book (p. 32) directly applies to my choice to become enmeshed in Facebook politics last night:

“Why do we do this to ourselves and one another? Don’t I know that every viewpoint is a view from a point? Why can’t I stand back and calmly observe that I always have a preference or bias or need, perhaps even a good and helpful one? Don’t I know by now that some of the information is never all of the information? What is it that makes it so hard to backtrack from my position once I’ve declared it in my mind, and especially if I declare it publicly?”

Therefore, here is what I “need to know better”:

  • Both myself and others are not necessarily right or wrong
  • All viewpoints voiced by humans come from a continuum of viewpoints
  • These varied view points are based on each person’s unique perception of reality and the information the person has accepted as true
  • When something in me (a preference, bias, or need) causes me to justify the rightness of my own viewpoint and to attempt to judgmentally invalidate or change another’s viewpoint I am no longer following a spiritual pathway
  • All of these “bullets” are true for me—-even if my intentions meant to be  good/helpful

Hopefully, I am learning to “step back” from the political debates or any argument or announcement posted on Facebook that triggers my “need” to be right and therefore superior.  I am going to make a conscientious effort to allow people, including myself, to have a viewpoint that is simply that—–one person’s point of view. I am going to remind myself none of us have to be “all right” or “all wrong,” that looking at things dualistically implies needing to “improve” reality to match my viewpoint, and that such an ego-centered approach distances me from God’s love and sharing it with others. If I am successful, my serenity and blood pressure should both improve when I am experiencing Facebook’s virtual reality.

How does dualistic thinking influence your life? What gifts will you be able to find and give away or share if you begin to accept viewpoints without needing to justify or change them?

Enough said. I meant to focus on a patriotic 4th of July theme today, but this is what emerged from my keyboard instead; probably because I needed to clarify this topic for myself. I am sure 4th of July themes will abound elsewhere…..and maybe in the next few days my four little white dogs will quit being startled and barking when firecrackers go off. May you have a safe and fun 4th of July, and may God bless and keep you.