Minister's Post, Fri May 5

Dear Ones:

"Know thyself." This Ancient Greek aphorism is supposedly the first of three inscribed at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (along with "nothing in excess" and "a pledge brings trouble"). It's not entirely clear what the Greeks meant. Many of us take it to be a mandate to plumb the soul, but Meghan O’Gieblyn disagrees. She says, "The command of the Delphic oracle — “Know thyself” — was not a mandate to plumb the soul but rather to accept the role that nature had assigned you" (Paris Review, 2021 May 13). Maybe the aphorism is telling us to know our place, stay in it, and don't get "uppity" -- or, for that matter, "downity" or even "sidewaysity."

Maybe O'Gieblyn is right about what the Ancient Greeks meant, but, if she is, so much the worse for the Ancient Greeks. I prefer to understand "know thyself" as an urging to pay attention to who you are -- not as fixed in a particular role, but as constantly changing. Notice, for instance, the way your thoughts arise and pass away.

As we observe the thoughts that occur to us, we can ask, "is this a satisfying thought?" Perhaps the thought that happens to arise at a given time is one that you'd rather not be having. Perhaps you are able to recognize that the thought is your inner voice of greed, or of defensiveness, or of putting yourself down, or of being judgmental of others -- and you wish you weren't having that thought.

Vanessa Zuisei Goddard writes:
"Noticing an unwholesome thought rearing its head in our mind, we switch it with a wholesome one, just like a carpenter “might knock out, remove, and extract a coarse peg by means of a fine one,” the sutra says. When we think, 'I’m not good enough,' we counter it by saying to ourselves, 'I am enough,' or 'I’m perfect just as I am.' We don’t stop to wonder why we always think so negatively or try to identify the source of this thought. We simply replace it, like hitting a pool ball with another, sending it careening out of the way and into a pocket, where it’ll be out of sight."
Most thoughts simply arise without us ever deciding to think them. We can, though, if we pay attention to ourselves and notice the thoughts as they arise, intentionally decide whether to stay with that thought. If we recognize it as a thought that isn't good for us, we can decide to replace it.

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 Apr 30 service, "The Transformative Power of Unitarian Universalism":

The Apr 23 service, with guest speaker, Bruce Pollack-Johnson, "The 8th Principle: A Beacon Toward Beloved Community and Inclusion":


From Rick Hanson’s Just One Thing: Befriend Your Body.

Your body IS you – but imagine for a moment that your body were a distinct thing. It has taken care of you through the years, kept you alive, taken you from place to place, given you pleasure. So, in return, how well do you take care of your body? Do you soothe, feed, exercise it and take it to the doctor? Or do you run it down, feed it junk food, or intoxicate it? It's common to push the body hard, ignore its needs until they get intense, and tune out from its signals. And then plop the body into bed at the end of another grinding day.

People can also get mad at the body -- like it's the body's fault if it weighs too much or is getting old. Back to reality, your body is NOT a distinct thing. It’s you. Its needs and pleasures and pains are your needs and pleasures and pains, and its fate is your fate.

So imagine a day treating your body like another good friend. Imagine loving this friend -- your body -- as you wake up and help it out of bed: being gentle with it, staying connected to it, not rushing about. Imagine cherishing your body as you move through the morning -- such as helping it kindly to some water, giving it a nice shower, and serving it healthy and delicious food. Imagine treating your body with love as you do other activities: driving, caring for children, exercising, working with others, doing dishes, brushing your teeth.

For the rest of the guidance on how to befriend your body, see: "Befriend Your Body."

Here it is, your...
#157: Notions

Turkey first appeared in #38. Her previous relations with Grandma were related in #63, #65, #73, #80, and #95.

Practice and Dharma and Sangha are all about Buddha -- which is a notion (and subject to falling apart) and a pointer to something that is not a notion.

Turkey spoke up one evening and said, "Listening to Grandma at Vinecot, I get the impression that all notions fall apart. What do you make of this?"
Raven said, "Nothing."
Turkey asked, "How about the Buddha?"
Raven said, "Bring her around."
Turkey asked, "Then what are we about?"
Raven glanced at Porcupine, and both exclaimed, "Buddha!"


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