Minister's Post, Fri Nov 19
Wisdom teachings rarely appear to be special. They tend to be simple and ordinary, yet they plant a seed in us which sprouts when we are ready. Take these three teachings from Taizan Maezumi, for instance.
1. Don’t deceive yourself.
Pretty basic, right? Yet, who among us is not, to some extent self-deceived? We are drawn to self-congratulation, and also toward self-criticism -- and both of those are deceptions.
2. Don’t make excuses for yourself.
For our previous President, when things went well, he took credit, and when they didn't he blamed others. As long as I’m casting blame elsewhere, I am reinforcing the idea that what I am is separate from that which I blame. After releasing all credit and blame, there is still responsibility. Whatever the successes or failures of the past -- whatever their source -- the responsiblity remains constant. It's always up to you what you do now. So:
3. Take responsibility for yourself.
To take complete responsibility for yourself -- without self-deception and without excuses -- is your service to the entire world. Ultimately, taking responsibility for yourself means taking responsibility for everything. Including our previous president.
Yours in faith,
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ICYMI (In Case You Missed It)
The Nov 14 worship service, "Reconsidering Rationality," is here:
See our channel for many other past services HERE.
You can read the text of "Reconsidering Rationality" in two parts at The Liberal Pulpit: Part 1 -- Part 2.
BYDMI (Because You Did Miss It)
Time ran out at the Oct 31 worship service before I could share with you my Samhain reflection. I have posted the text on "The Liberal Pulpit." See: Samhain Reflection
The Worldwide numbers are not reliable, and likely are greatly underestimating the actual prevalence of Covid-19. These numbers may nevertheless give us an indication of trends.
Average New Cases per Day, worldwide:
Peak week (Apr 23-29): 828,613
Lowest since peak (Jun 15-21): 360,881
Highest since the June low (Aug 24-30): 660,156
Two weeks ago (Oct 29-Nov 4): 437,288
Last week (Nov 5-11): 477,860
This week (Nov 12-18): 513,157*
*Since Oct 17, new cases per day have increased 27% (an average increase of 0.8% per day for 32 days).
Average New Cases per Day, US:
Peak week (Jan 5-11): 255,931
Lowest since peak: (Jun 15-21): 11,955
Highest since the June low (Aug 27 - Sep 2): 167,508
Two weeks ago (Oct 29-Nov 4): 71,635
Last week (Nov 5-11): 78,529
This week (Nov 12-18): 88,364*
*Since Nov 3, new cases per day have increased 24% (an average increase of 1.5% per day for 15 days).
Average New Cases per Day, Westchester County, NY:
Highest week of 2020 (Mar 23-29): 949
Lowest week, post-peak, of 2020 (Aug 19-25): 29
Highest week of 2021 (Jan 6-12): 861
Lowest week of 2021 (Jun 17-23): 11
Highest since Jun low (Aug 15-21): 212
Two weeks ago (Oct 29-Nov 4): 73
Last week (Nov 5-11): 92
This week (Nov 12-18): 134*
*Since Oct 24, new cases per day more than doubled (an average increase of 2.8% per day for 25 days).
Average Deaths per Day, worldwide:
Peak week (Jan 20-26): 14,818
Lowest since peak (Jun 29 - Jul 5): 7,696
Highest since the July low (Aug 19-25): 10,284
Two weeks ago (Oct 29-Nov 4): 6,901
Last week (Nov 5-11): 7,109
This week (Nov 12-18): 7,074*
*Deaths are up 6.3% over Oct 17 (an average increase of 0.2% per day for 32 days)
Average Deaths per Day, US:
Peak week (Jan 10-16): 3,543
Lowest since peak (Jun 30 - Jul 6): 247
Highest since the July low (Sep 17-23): 1,995
Two weeks ago (Oct 29-Nov 4): 1,172
Last week (Nov 5-11): 1,104
This week (Nov 12-18): 969*
*Down 52% since Sep 23 (an average rate of decline of 1.3% per day for 56 days)
TOTAL Deaths per WEEK, Westchester County, NY:
Highest week of 2020 (Apr 9-15): 365
Lowest week, post-peak, of 2020 (Sep 27 - Oct 3): 0
Highest week of 2021 (Jan 28 - Feb 3): 74
Lowest weeks of 2021 (Jun 16-22; Jun 28-Jul 14; Jul 18-27, and Oct 6-19): 0
Highest since May 22 (Sep 10-16): 9
Two weeks ago (Oct 29-Nov 4): 4
Last week (Nov 5-11): 3
This week (Nov 12-18): 1
Worldwide, new cases and deaths have been increasing for the last 4.5 weeks (32 days). The deaths continue to grow at only about a quarter of the growth rate of new cases -- which may reflect a declining fatality rate from Covid.
The U.S. new cases per day (7-day average) have been increasing for the last 2+ weeks (i.e., since Nov 3) -- and have increased 24% in the last 15 days. Deaths, however, have been continuing to decline at a fairly steady rate for about 8 weeks now -- though we may see the deaths, too, beginning to increase if new cases continue to climb.
The US vaccination rate continues to slowly climb. As of Nov 16, 58.9% of the US population is fully vaccinated. The last percentage point gain took 24 days. The percentage point before that took 18 days, so the rate of growth in vaccination status is definitely slowing down.
Meanwhile, the Westchester County fully-vaccinated rate is 71.3% (as of Nov 18) -- up 1 percentage point in the last 19 days. The percentage point before that took just 14 days, so the vaccination growth rate is slowing down in Westchester, too.
Winter is coming: be careful out there!
Practice of the Week
From Norman Fischer’s Training in Compassion: Training #1 is Maintain Awareness of the Basics. What are the basics? There are four:
First, the rarity and preciousness of human life. Considering deeply the preciousness of human life, you feel inspired to begin to do something more with your life. Maintain an awareness of the preciousness of human life. Or, as we say: It’s a blessing you were born.
Second, the absolute inevitability of death. At any given moment in the day, most of us don’t really believe we are going to die. It feels as if you are here and are always going to be here. We have no idea when our lives will end, so it is important that right now we turn our attention to what really matters, that we don't waste time.
Third, the awesome and indelible power of our actions. Each of our actions produces a result. Every thought, word, or deed has consequences. We may never know the measure of those consequences, yet every moment we affect the world in some subtle yet real way. There are no trivial throwaway moments. So we have to ask ourselves: "Am I a force for good in the world or am I just another person doing nothing to help?" Or, as we say, it matters what you do.
Fourth, the inescapability of suffering. Why then would we not think to guard and strengthen our mind and heart to cope with the suffering that certainly will be coming in some measure at some time? For explanations of each of these basics, see the post: "Maintain Awareness of the Basics."
See also our SPIRITUAL PRACTICE DIRECTORY