Friday, February 18, 2011

Tiger in the box

The six thousand Chinese characters, first put together six hundred years before Christ, are known to us westerners as the Tao Te Ching.

My translation of the first stanzas goes something like this.

If you think you know the Way – think again.
Better yet. Throw your map out the car window.  

If you think you can put a label on GOD.
It ain’t GOD. Just a box you’re sticking it to.

What’s in the box is a made-in-Taiwan fuzzy facsimile
of the tiger that leaps at you in your dreams
and disappears when you wake in a sweat.

Okay, so there weren’t cars in sixth century China. But, besides that little detail – what did you think of my translation?

Whoops – there you go again – thinking…

I’m still wondering these days about the box that is organized religion. I’m wondering about its function and purpose in my life. I often wonder why people show up on a Sunday morning.

It seems to me to have little to do with Belief. Deepak Chopra says that Belief is a refuge for those too scared to deal with the conundrums of faith. (my translation)

Many critics of the religion box would quickly point to the prominence of ideology in the church. They could conjure up all kinds of examples of religious authorities using fear to manipulate people into conformity of Belief. What gets written down – is what “WE” believe. The reason there are so many churches – but only one Bible – is that intellectuals keep coming up with new interpretations of what “WE” believe.  And there’s always some nice man with control issues, who makes it his mission to make true believers of anyone susceptible enough to buy in.

These doctrines become the next new excuse for people to create an identity for themselves. Isn’t it really that people like to belong – or – need to belong? We are tribal creatures. We look for a group identity – and the security that it can provide.

The problems start when our group finds more strength from stating what “we” aren’t – than who are becoming. When religions start getting negative, falling into the trap of judging others “less than right”, that’s when GOD leaves the box to the tigers. We’re left with just a chromachrome negative of the full colour photo we once were…

The Masters of the art of life – whether Jesus or Lao Tsu – did their best to get people past the need to judge. Of course, this is just as impossible as trying to label GOD. We are judging machines. Or, at the very least, we might say that we are souls ruled and run by the judging machines between our ears.

Yet people – many – seem to have an appetite for the attempt to free our souls from the tyrant’s relentless measurements.

As one who has tasted the freedom, I want to let you know…
There is a way. There is a flow. There can be opportunities in each day to connect not only with the music of peace - but to even put that peace into play…

It’s free but costly
It’s true but untellable
To notice …

“When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does...provides the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.
… what I’m saying is, Grow up. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others – and all beings - the way God lives toward you.”
Matthew 5: 44

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