Minister's Post, Fri Nov 25

Dear Ones:

The 8th-century Indian philosopher, Shantideva extolled the path of spiritual cultivation:
Put on an ever-smiling countenance.
Do not move furniture and chairs noisily.
Do not open doors with violence.
Take pleasure in the practice of humility.
Always strive to learn from everyone.
Speak with moderation, gently.
Express yourself with modesty.
In the West, though, words like these bump into gender stereotypes. The lines sound like Victorian advice for girls and women. For boys and men? Not so much.

Understandably, feminists in the 60s and 70s were wary of the gender-oppressive uses to which they saw such teaching put. But the problem was never with Shantideva's values. The problem was that the West (and East, too, by and large -- spiritual teachers like Shantideva notwithstanding) glorified and rewarded men for being forceful, scowling, noisy, immodest and immoderate. Whether, in the end, this did -- and does -- more damage to our boys than to our girls is an open question -- and ultimately not to the point.

Progress toward gender equality and progress toward a more spiritually enlightened society go hand in hand. When boys are taught gentleness, modesty, and service to others, then girls need no longer be wary of that teaching themselves.

Yours in the faith we share,

Join a Journey Group: http://cucwp.org/journey-groups

I.C.Y.M.I. (In Case You Missed It)

The Nov 20 Service, "Thanksgiving":

The Nov 13 Service, "Compassion is the Purpose of Life":

SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: Keep a Single Intention

From the Tibetan teachings called “Lojong,” our 28th training in compassion is: "Keep a Single Intention."

The "single intention" to keep is to be kind, to benefit beings, yourself not less, and not more.

When you eat breakfast, keep that spirit. “May I have breakfast this morning to nourish all beings.” When you go to the toilet, keep that spirit. “May this, too, be for the sake of all beings.” When you walk upstairs, do it to rise up in goodness with all beings. Walk down the stairs to deepen commitment to truth for the benefit of others. Leave the house to go forth to do some good for someone else. Return home in the hope that all beings will one day return to their true home. Whatever you do, dedicate your activity to others. Compose little sayings for yourself like these for the activities of your day.

Can you actually sustain a practice like this? Of course not! You’ll forget. But every time you remember, re-dedicate yourself to serving all beings. Take a breath right there at the moment of noticing you’ve forgotten. Forgive yourself (“Oops, there I go again”) and return to your single intention. The more you practice it, the more you will remember. If you can practice grace before meals, you can practice “grace” at other repetitive occasions during the day.

This one intention – to be dedicated to others -- is something that we can always trust and always rely on to set us straight, no matter how mixed-up we may be. Whatever is going on, always come back to this best and most basic motivation – the wish to care about others and to be of some service to them.

See the full post: "Keep a Single Intention."

Here it is, your...
#137: Everything Collapsed

Everything there is presents itself in each moment, each appearance. Our task is to maintain this reality -- "maintain," as in, "cause or enable (a condition or state of affairs) to continue," and also as in "state something to be the case; assert." But how?

Wolverine dropped by for zazen and announced, "Everything on the Blue Planet is contained in this appearance."
Porcupine said, "That's true. How do you maintain it?"
Wolverine hesitated.
Porcupine said, "The Blue Planet collapsed."
That joke about small towns:
"Don't blink or you'll miss it."
I used to think no town could be
so small that this was true.
Now I think no city could be
so large this isn't true.

Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith GarmonA

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