Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Ceremony of One, Celebrating One.

Religion as we know it in these times is often a hollow vessel. It is meant to contain something, or to be an entrance to something but it is mostly a mechanism for social control or political and economic force. I do not dispute that people find some comfort in it and it gives them a neighborhood of kindred spirits but I don’t see it fulfilling it’s primary obligation of uniting God and humanity into a living breathing state of being that runs through the day and night as a template for life.

It represents something that should be the centerpiece of existence. It is the ceremony of celebrating that which animates, protects and informs us. It is actually based on something real; something more real that we ourselves are, if we think of ourselves as separate items moving about in a world of differences.

I have come to see that what religion represents is something that should be intricately woven through every moment of our lives. Everything that we do has a ceremony of celebration about it. What we think, what we feel, what we say and what we do. “Every event in our life, no matter how seemingly insignificant is a particular dealing of God with our soul.” Every moment the divine is present and witnessing our life; right there, right there in the moment of your awareness of it. We are God’s movie projected on the screen of his dream. If we can be persistent enough and determined enough we can wake God up inside the dream so that he lives through us in a united consciousness. This is the intention of things like, ‘pray without ceasing’ and ‘be still and know that I am God’.

It is also not a matter of learning but of remembering, which is why reminding ourselves is a powerful act. Ceremony helps us remember. Religion is composed of ceremonies celebrating certain life conditions; birth and death, saying grace before we eat, morning and evening prayers, festivals and celebrations such as Christmas and Easter, Diwali, Ramadan and so forth. These need not be the totality of our involvement. Every moment has the potential for a ceremony of celebration, every breath... we have heard of masters and what do you think they do?

It has been said that if we want God in our life we should go about our lives as if we were God, act as God does, behave according to the examples of those who are known to have been vehicles for God. Buddha is a good example. Jesus Christ is a good example. Christ said, “Whatever you do, even to the least of you, you do to me.” If you ponder that it sort of says the same thing a different way.

The whole point of the whole thing hinges on something that people have great difficulty in grasping and that is, it is happening right now. It isn’t happening later. It didn’t already happen. It is happening now and it is always happening.

When I eat on my own, I hold my plate forward and bless it. I say, “Lord, please consecrate this food to my body for the fulfillment of the great work.” When I am eating with other people, I surreptitiously close my eyes for a moment and give thanks. I don’t say anything nor do I inveigle others to join. With some people it is natural to take a moment to do this and it happens of its own accord. With strangers and those no so inclined, I keep it to myself. At the same time, I don’t eschew the opportunity because someone might notice. I have the right to bless my food. I just don’t make a point of calling attention to it. That sort of thing is more the province of religion. Religion likes to graft ceremonial operations on to human events, displacing what came before as if it were always the property of that religion to set the stage.

No religion is preeminent. Christ said, “In my father’s house are many mansions, if it were not true I would not have told you so.” Right there, Christ is saying, “different strokes for different folks.” He is saying that the weave of the tapestry; the architecture of the church, the artifacts and icons may be different but they are all the contents of a room in the larger house of God. The great Indian saint, Ramakrishna entered into every one of the seven major religions and experienced enlightenment in each one. He said that they are all the same. A person could learn a lot by reading the biography of Ramakrishna by his disciple ‘M’.

Some religions are more scientific; maybe ‘metaphysical’ is a better word. Some are more literal. Then when you think about it, it is only the manifest aspects that are literal and all of them have that. All of them have the metaphysical as well. As I have said on other occasions, “religion is lined paper”. When we learn to write as children we are taught on lined paper. After awhile we do not require lined paper anymore, even if religion insists that we do. Also, some people are just more comfortable with lined paper. It scares them what may be present beyond the lines.

What religion attempts to provide, the individual life can possess and practice in every moment as a natural way of doing things. Isn’t it mostly about expressing gratitude? It is also about seeking answers. Did the answers stop coming once the text got written? That doesn’t seem to make sense, does it? Where did the answers come from to begin with? They didn’t come from outside. They came from inside. Someone became self-realized. Someone became a Christ or a Buddha and then stated from that place illuminations upon the moment they were in.

Jesus was the prototype for the Christ consciousness. The Christ consciousness is singular but the Jesus aspect is not. More have come since. Buddhism is easier on this matter. There are many Buddhas of varying states who all are a part of Buddha-mind. Krishna has appeared as many different aspects. He came as Rama. He came as a turtle. He will come as Kalki, yet Krishna is an expression of Vishnu. Still, you hear that Krishna is the totality. You also hear that Jesus is the totality and all of this is true. Think about the similarities between the words, “Krishna” and “Christ”.

It is said that Jesus spent some time in India. Religion doesn’t tell us this but other texts do. It’s part of the missing years of Jesus.

Shambhala is an idealized concept. It is also a real place. You can get there but boy, that is some journey and it might not occur in a single life. Still, you can get there. You can go to The Western Pure Land of the Amitabha Buddha by keeping that intention on your lips and in your mind through your life. When you leave your physical life you can be reborn there and continue to be reborn there as you learn; not having to come back here. This is a lot like Christianity. The Amitabha said that he would not accept enlightenment until every other sentient being had gone before him. This is also much in line with the life and teachings of the Christ.

Perform your life as a ceremony of one in celebration of the guaranteed fulfillment of the promise of each and all of life’s magnificent avatars and teachers. If others join you that can be wonderful but you must do it regardless; Cave Dei Videt- beware, God is watching. Or you might say, “Be aware”. Isn’t that what ‘beware’ means? It has a different impact though, doesn’t it?

You are the child of a gracious and loving God. Go read the 23rd Psalm and think about the meaning of the words. Act as if you were living right inside that Psalm or whatever you may find to guide you in any of God’s mansions.

Visible sings: The Sacred and The Profane by Les Visible♫ Mountian of Release ♫
'Mountian of Release' is track no. 9 of 13 on Visible's 2007 album 'The Sacred and The Profane'

The Sacred and The Profane by Les Visible


Ben There said...

This essay reminds me of something and I’d like to share a short story. This was back when I was in college and my concept of God was still that of a more external entity.

My first two years in college I had a part-time job that was painfully repetitive and mundane and bored me to tears. After several months it became something that I dreaded and it was difficult for me to be there, especially knowing there were other much more fun things that I could be doing. I had to find a way to make it more interesting and to ease the mental resistance I was experiencing that was causing me this unnecessary suffering.

So I created a little game in my mind. It didn’t have a name but it could’ve been named “God is with me at work” or “God is going to work with me”. What I did was imagine that God was walking beside me, observing me, and experiencing everything I was experiencing while at work. Initially it was an act of imagination. I made it a game because the goal was for it to be a constant thing for the entire time I was at work. Constant rememberance as you call it.

It changed my entire experience of going to that job and being at that job. It became transformative and increased in intensity. I really cannot understate the impact this little “game” ended up having on me. It spilled out into everything else and I can pinpoint that time period as the start of my life going in a much more ‘spiritual’ direction.

kikz said...

beautiful piece les :)

wonderful story ben:)

Anonymous said...

Les, thanks for this very timely posting - it was a wonderful reminder and could not have come at a better time given all the shouting going on around us about, well, everything. It seems to me the need to convince one's self that they have it all figured out and that they are safe is really increasing. Can everyone feel something big coming or something? It's getting LOUD in here!

Ben, I loved your story. We get to this path in some pretty unique ways, and it seems you didn't need to be "shown" much of anything to get started.

I was one of those kids brought up in a single-parent home, without any guidance whatsoever in the realm of religion or spirituality. I had a strong aversion from a very early age to churches and people who were overt in promoting their beliefs. They scared my as much as any large, barking dog (or clown -is there some irony there?) and there were always plenty of my friends' parents willing to step in and "help out" where they saw my mother "failing" to instill in me fear of eternal damnation. I even joined something called the "Christian Service Brigade" at age 10 so I could go with my buddy for a week of camp (hey, they had dirt bikes!!) but after being humiliated in a large classroom setting because I couldn't recite some kind of "so and so begat this person and who was it that did some thing against God and what was their punishment"
mumbo-jumbo I decided that dirt-bikes or not, I wasn't gonna volunteer for that kind of ridicule. For all their words proclaiming peace and God's love, they were as mean and petty as anyone I knew at the time, plus they wore these creepy military style uniforms and liked to march around alot with wooden guns. Something in my 10 year old gut told me to run away. Fast. Of course, I was no longer allowed to hang with my buddy because I had "rejected Christ". Whatever.

I always suspected that there was no "right" or "wrong" path to God, as long as one seeks honestly and with an open heart. When I asked my Christian neighbor about folks in the ancient Amazon or some other distant land that hadn't been made privvy to "the Word" what happens to thier souls, she simply stated that until a person is "shown" or "given" the word, they were toast. I just can't buy that God would roll like that, sorry. To hear someone say that they have found the right path and that all others are false and will get you a "lake of fire" experience just makes me sad.

3 weeks in a local "Mega-Church" showed me all I needed to know about seeking the spirit in any kind of huge congregation that has a magical, directly connected mouthpiece. I dug the music. I enjoyed the sense of community. The latte and scones were awesome, too, as was the immense gift shop. They even had guys rocking out with electric guitars! But as soon as the pastor proclaimed that we must support Israel because it says so in the bible (hey, it was RIGHT THERE ON THE JUMBOTRON! How could it be untrue?) and that their remarkable victories in their wars were proof they were favored by God, I was done. He even went farther and said, "well, our F-16's and tanks didn't hurt either" which made the whole "flock" bust up laughing with him. Yeah, funny stuff that "God sanctioned" killing. I'm almost boiling over again just thinking about it. The 7-page letter I wrote him asking to justify and further explain this perspective was passed on to several other associate pastors (the person it was addressed to was "unavailable" to answer directly) and was finally answered by the "facilities" pastor. He is the "Pastor" that deals with arranging the chairs and making sure the bathrooms are clean and the lawn is mowed. He is the Janitor (pastor)! The great thing is that he said, essentially, that we do the best we can and that it is up to each individual to find the path that is their own. Cool!

Anyway, any notion that one has to choose the correct path or suffer eternal torment is now filed under "how to control people with fear" and I want none of it. Everything I have been shown about God and spirituality has revealed itself to me spontaneously, often in very unexpected ways and in strange fashion, but there is simply something that filters my external experience and allows the real important stuff to resonate in ways that lets me know it is truth. And I asked for, and continue to humbly ask for the ability to "see" with clear eyes and for truth to reveal itself to me on its own terms. I try to remember to express my gratitude and awe for all I see around me and all I have, but see by your example how that could be expanded to every moment and every breath I take. There is always more to do, more to learn, and more to explore. I no longer fear making the wrong choice, and more and more fear fails to find me at all, in spite of the heat and volume being turned up more and more all the time.

Thanks, mom, for letting me unfold in my own way in my own time. Thank you, Les, for helping me ring those internal bells that give me comfort and the desire to continue to seek, and to move toward............?

I'll see all of you when we get there. I'm beginning to remember what it was like and I miss you.


Visible said...


That is amusing because I have worked in many cooking situations as owner or employee and all the other levels in my life. I used to tell myself I was in the music business while I was doing it and some day I would be playing music just like I was cooking food and, of course, the music is about God.

Maybe it was Paramahansa Yogananda that said it; that you must pursue God as a lover. Many have offered some version of this. It's true, you have to make it like it is what you are doing no matter what you are doing because God is not impressed with one night stands and can see through everything, is watching all the time.

That's how you get there. You get there. It is where you want to go and you don't stop and you get there. This makes it the easiest and the hardest thing to do all at the same time. That's what all the distractions, attractions and allurements are about. Those are the veils.

Visible said...


that was an outstanding testimony and I am honored to have it here.

Visible said...

This is becoming the best commenting that I have seen so far. You know Ben, what you said was so identical to my own story that it just reinforces everything I believe by hearing it.

Thanks kikz05... the soul of brevity.

Anonymous said...

Ditto kikz05 7:37

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying what I feel but could not find the words to say it.
I thank God for you and all of us who seek truthfully.
Thank you,

Ben There said...

Hello –

I stepped away from the blogs/internet for a few days; spent some time in the northeast Georgia mountains, very beautiful and a great break from the DFW metroplex.

Z, Believe it or not I actually kind of liked church to a certain extent when I was a kid. I mean, it did seem silly to me in several ways and often boring but I felt a closeness to God and related it to church (because I guess that was all I knew to do). The concept of “accepting” or “rejecting” Christ has never made much sense to me at all. Why would God need ‘acceptance’? I have to be honest, that “Christian Service Brigade” thing does sound a little creepy. Check out a movie called “Jesus Camp” sometime if you feel the need to make yourself vomit. I really enjoyed reading your comment and personally think that there can be no greater “asset”(?) on the path than intuitive guidance and spontaneous revelation.

Les – To expand a little on my story, it was just around that same time period that I discovered meditation and from then on my life changed drastically. I’ve been in conscious pursuit since then, although it varies in intensity. Life has a way of keeping you on the path once you’ve realized you are on a path (which we all are, whether we know it or not). Ideally my entire life would just become one constant meditation. To roughly quote from “Island”: There is nowhere to go, we are, if we only knew it, already there.



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