Friday, January 20, 2012

blessings from the past

Elsewhere on the Internet this morning, I felt constrained to admit that I too had shed tears of gratitude (literally -- no kidding) for the efforts of the (largely) Buddhist teachers who had come before. Their teachings just seemed so enormously kind that there was nothing else I could muster besides tears. Their blessings seemed to echo-echo-echo off the canyon walls of my mind and heart.

And I imagine everyone has some sort of benevolent past to recall and touch base with and, perhaps, weep for.

Sticking to the world of spiritual endeavor for the moment, I had to admit I wept. My tears were as close as I could get to saying "thank you." They were visceral and compelling and overwhelming. Thank you very, very much! I don't imagine that I am alone in any of this ...

And for that reason I write about it and wonder without disdain: Are tears of gratitude what those who went before wished for those who came later? Is a sense of melting love what they hoped for in their children? Did Jesus envision devotees who were wowed into speechlessness by his sacrifice on the cross? Did Gautama hope that those who heard his words of wisdom might repeat them syllable-for-syllable and thus prove him somehow right? Did they or others like them aspire to some subtle applause and emulation?

Or did they wish for something else -- a something else that becomes incumbent upon those who shed tears of gratitude and love? Is succumbing to a heart-felt bout of tears really enough as a means of fulfilling the blessing that has been granted?

Good and benevolent parents pray to whatever gods they espouse that their children will not be harmed. But more, they pray that those children will walk with some sort of self-assurance that is not based on cruelty. Wouldn't it be nice if those children could walk straight and strong on their own two feet?

And if that is something like the wish of those whose blessings have rained down in one way or another, how irresponsible of us, the beneficiaries, to do no more than fawn and weep? How can we fulfill their blessings and their wishes, how can we make their dreams come true, if we do not rise up, sometimes with unbearable effort, to stand on our own feet ... feet that stand in no other place but right here, right now?

It seems to me that the kindest thing anyone can do in this life is to 'be yourself.' But that suggestion demands at its core that anyone find out exactly what or who 'yourself' might be. Without such an effort, people are left with nothing more than spired edifices and adoring sermons. Is that really enough when counting your blessings? Is it enough to love Jesus or is there a requirement that you be you. You be Jesus. What other choice is there? You be Gautama ... that is your thank you to the Gautama who came before and left you weeping with gratitude.

Of course neither Jesus nor Gautama, I imagine, ever thought about the blessings they were accused of showering on others. But that's the way of blessings, don't you think? -- there are blessings, but no one can name them. They can only be them.

Over the long haul I doubt that defamation by adoration works very well.

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