Prayer and Meditation in a Time of Suffering

Can these things be of any help, or are they just pipe dreams?

There are two different ways of looking at prayer and meditation: We can say they are like medicine for what ails us, or we can say that they bring us peace, light, and joy.

When beset with worldly problems, we feel that in spite of believing in the things of this world, we need some relief from worry and anxiety. This is always true, but even more so in a time of world crisis, when there is much sickness and despair. At that time, no matter where we turn our eyes we see problems, problems, problems! But if we look within, if we practice prayer and meditation, then we get some relief from worry and anxiety, and we are better able to cope with the burdens of daily life. This is a practical approach, a good approach, but it does make prayer and meditation seem like medicine which we only take when we are ill.

The other approach is to make friends with the inner world, to feel that the inner world belongs to us, for us to claim as our own, in good times and in bad. We do not ignore or shun the outer world, nor do we blame it for not being perfect; only we say that the inner world has more light and truth than the outer world. Therefore we can get peace, light and joy from the inner world which we cannot get from the outer world, even under the best of circumstances.

These two different approaches are like two different attitudes toward God. In one approach, we are like children playing in a playground. We enjoy the slide, the sprinkler, and different types of games. But then if we fall down and scrape our knee, or if there are terrible thunderstorms, we run to the Playground Manager, who takes care of our injuries and consoles us so that we can go on playing.

But as we grow in maturity and gain insight, we realize that the playground is limited in what it can offer us. At the same time, something higher and deeper calls to us. God dried our tears and helped us to go on living in the worst of times, but should we only see His Face once or twice in this lifetime, during periods of crisis? He who has consoled us faithfully and unerringly is our Eternal Friend.

So, whether we turn to prayer and meditation in a time of need, to help relieve suffering, or whether we do so because we want to grow in wisdom and joy, and to be close to our Eternal Friend — either approach is right, depending on the individual. These approaches are not mutually exclusive. Often, people reach a crisis point in their lives where they desperately need spiritual help. Then, even after the crisis point has passed, they continue on with spiritual practice because they see the benefits. Continue reading

Nature, the Super Moon, the Coronavirus, and Charles Ives

Nature presents us with contraries, opposite poles, also known as antipodes…

On Monday night, as I made my appointed rounds through the streets of the city, suddenly I noticed the remarkably bright full moon, so close, so distinctive. With a faint mist surrounding it, it almost seemed to have its own corona. It took me by surprise, and once aware of it I had to wheel ’round many times to contemplate its pristine beauty, till finally the moon was eclipsed by gathering clouds.

I cannot say for certain, but it may be that our moon and sun are imitations of a moon and sun which are more beautiful to behold in some higher world. That is my hope, belief, and intuition.

As a race or as a species, we indulge in chauvinism, imagining that our moon and our sun must be best. But there is another theory or observation which says that many things found in this world of ours arise in imitation of things found in higher worlds.

There, nature flows in abundance. It is not built up from physical stuff, but flows directly from the mind of God, with no dirt or bugs, and no planes flying overhead. That is how it can be more beautiful — intimate, like a little wood, and yet we sense that its lakes, rivers, and forests could go on forever.

In our present world of opposites, we cannot fully enjoy the sun and moon at the same time in the same sky, for always one will be waxing while the other is waning. But in the spiritual sky, the sun and moon shine together, in a world higher than ours which is more subtle, and not racked by the extremes of opposites which plague our mortal existence. Continue reading

The typo that made me laugh out loud

Can you spot what’s wrong with this Staples.com ad?

Most typos are neither interesting nor funny, but last night I happened on one that set me giggling uncontrollably. Maybe I was just in need of a good giggle (perfectly possible!), but you can judge for yourself:

Staples sells such a bewildering variety of products that I had to read the ad about 3 times, asking myself if I’d accidentally stumbled on a supply house catering to birders or ornithologists. You see, I know that people on country estates buy all sorts of amazing contraptions designed to let birds feed while keeping squirrels out (not always entirely successfully, I might add). Continue reading