How To Tell When We’re Approaching Sainthood

Approaching Sainthood
Among my favorite spiritual practices is asking myself strange questions.  A recent one was: “What is the world’s most powerful mantra?”  You know, that bumper-sticker phrase some people repeat continually and silently throughout the day as a means of shaping their consciousness in helpful ways.

My answer of the moment is:

Whatever I think… is a choice.

Why so powerful?  Try it.  It’s hard to install that idea in the driver’s seat of our mind minute after minute without upsetting our ferocious addiction to holding other people and outside circumstances responsible for our well-being.

Imagine!  My outrage at your toenail polish is entirely self-created.  Who knew?

On the grounds of a retreat center was a lion made of stone.  Retreat participants were asked to meditate on the lion while keeping in their mind the thought that everything they see is beautiful.  After, as a group, they discussed their experience.  Then they were asked to meditate on the lion while keeping in their mind the thought that everything they see is ugly.  That experience was then discussed.  Finally, the participants were asked to meditate on the lion while simply noticing, without judgment, the characteristics of the statue: size, shape, texture, color and so forth.

Give it a try, using any object that’s handy.  How we define our world creates our world.

We humans are so amusing.  And because I’m an American, I particularly cherish the quirks of my home culture.  Is there a quicker way to irk any one of us champions of liberty than to suggest we’re mindless puppets?

Yet whenever I spend two seconds paying attention to what passes for discourse in the nation’s media, the predominant message I hear is blame: If it weren’t for “them,” we’d all have rosy futures and toilet-trained puppies.  (Which translates into: I’m helpless; those morons “make” me angry; as does that hairball in my soup.)

I find it a beautiful, if painful, mirror: reminding me what a tremendous commitment it is to assume responsibility for myself––my beliefs, my words, my feelings, my actions.  I.e., my happiness and whatever stands in the way of it.

I’ll take all that mantra I can get.

Among its rewards is that I now have a better idea how I’ll know when I’m approaching sainthood.  Whenever I find myself outraged at your toenail polish (or anything else), I’ll laugh for choosing to live on a level of consciousness where such nonsense––anything but love––is real.

Perhaps that’s why some say it takes a million incarnations to know God.

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"I honor that we are killing the earth for the same reason I consider being an alcoholic a privilege: it is a doorway to the profound self-understanding required to make truly healthy choices."

The Essay: Honoring the Killing of the Earth