Friday, December 18, 2015

Why Is Prayer a Pain?

Copyright Don Ray 2015
Should prayer be difficult?
Shouldn’t contemplative prayer, connecting with Source, be easy and natural?  If it is not easy, is it our fault?....or the fault of the  noisy world?
Shouldn’t contemplative prayer be the best part of the day, the wonderful and desirable escape to Reality and peace and healing from the day’s maelstrom of demands and madness?
And shouldn’t God and the loving Spirit and the Christos be readily available, responding to our summoning?
Yet contemplative prayer is not easy, not automatic, not simple.
Rote and recited prayer seems too easy.  Mumble or read or project the words, scripted or impromptu, and you have submitted your invoice to God.
But contemplative prayer?......listening as well as talking?......not so easy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The threat of the refugee crisis.

Many of us would like to think this nation is still a nation of courage and compassion, the “home of the brave”, the “good guys”.
But today’s political campaign has become a contest of cowardice, each candidate trying to show how scared they are of Daesh* and children and families from foreign places. (* Daesh is a pejorative Arabic term for ISIL/ISIS.  I will not use the latter terms because Daesh does not deserve to be referred to as Islamic or as a state.)
Frightened politicians

Impact of refugees

Impact of refugees
On only rare occasions do we safe and well fed actually have to face the injustice, to look into the refugee’s eyes, to see the child being carried by a parent escaping war.  On only rare occasions do we get to ask, have to ask, what will we do for that person, for that child, for that parent.  Often as not we find no satisfactory answer, and we leave the desperate masses on the bridge or shore or sidewalk or shelter, while we return to our comfortable hotel room or home. 
But God help us

Saturday, June 20, 2015

More Than Meat

Copyright 2015 Don Ray

Spiritual discussions:  don’t hear many of those in the workplace or locker room.  In fact, I do not recall many deeply personal spiritual discussions in church either.

In the modern, western world, “spiritual” discussion too often means nothing remotely personal, but more a political bludgeoning to convince the other person they are wrong.  Little wonder spiritual topics are taboo in polite company.  As for spiritual discussions in church and temple, what if your deeply personal spiritual experience is not exactly like everyone else’s, and worse, what if it is not in perfect lockstep alignment with authority and doctrine?!  No, church, temple, and mosque are no place for deeply intimate, spiritual expression.

Then there are various shamanic, new agey, ancient cum ultra-modern gatherings, but in those you better tow the line and not dare mention your traditional, doctrinal, monotheistic beliefs.

Meaningful, deep, complex, profound, open, personal, intimate, tolerant, welcome, accepting spiritual conversation….wow!….Wouldn’t that be great?!… talk about, and listen to, that which makes you more than meat?!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Temporally Senseless

Copyright 2016 Don Ray

Maybe after recent thefts I better understand Yeshu (Jesus) saying “the guy takes your cloak, give him your coat too”.

It is a great attitude, and it has not just to do with love and generosity as usually taught. It reflects a way of going through life, a realistic awareness that in this human world some people will try to steal from you, and your only choice and control is over your response to that situation. How much will you let it matter? Clearly I have a long way to go in that regard.

Yeshu’s radical statement, like so many of His radical statements, makes no sense in human terms because

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Personalized Scripture

Copyright 2015 Don Ray

I think back on this week’s Lectionary study group meeting.
It is evident that the study of scripture is not to ferret out absolute, unequivocal meaning from verses and chapters.
Were it only that simple, by now all the meaning would have been long ago squeezed out and the vintage distilled from the fruit of the scripture, and we would simply have to choose from among a variety of expert opinions, seeking

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Antithetical Societal Solution

Copyright 2016 Don Ray

Can it be?!  A quiet Saturday morning at home alone?!  ‘Tasha holding me in the chair by the patio door as snow lightly falls?!  Oh joy, oh joy!  How many lifetimes have passed since I experienced this sublime joy!  And I experience it now only because of a wicked bad cold that I do not want others to catch. 

But oh this long forgotten, blessed morning state of mind and spirit!  Oh joy, long missed joy!  Unhurried!  Quiet!  Unpressured!  All because of a cold and a purring ‘Tasha kitty. 

‘Tasha also celebrates this rare, rare moment of quiet at home on a Saturday morning.  Such a blessing!

Ahhh, an unhurried morning….such a curse that such an experience should so rarely bless the modern man and woman.
I get to scruff a purring ‘Tasha kitty!  Thank You!  Thank You!  Thank You!...for the cold that made this possible!
Such joys and life await in contemplation!

How impoverished the life always busy, active, moving!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Heart Blindness

Copyright 2016 Don Ray

The following is written while outside an office I wait on courageous, emotionally devastated friends who two nights ago suddenly found themselves immersed in an incomprehensible tsunami of shocking, life-wrenching tragedies involving suicide, coroners, lawyers, custody, hospitals, court hearings, and God only knows what more.

Such madness besets this poor blinded humanity! Dear God, such madness! This surely testifies to there being far more to existence than mere reductionist physical and mechanical forms. Such madness contradicts the principles of evolution. No species would ever evolve into such madness. How evident it is that we must be blind, yet we know not to what we are blind. It is so painfully evident that we have lost contact with something critically important. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Faith Crisis, Faith Freedom

Copyright 2016 Don Ray

Faith Crisis, Faith Freedom

Ever had a crisis of faith when you had to give up a dearly held belief?  I desperately dislike the wrenching torments of such crises, but eventually am inevitably grateful for them, whether addressing faith in a person, an institution, or a belief system. 
I’m sure they must afflict any open minded person, anyone willing to learn and grow, anyone questioning and searching.  I don’t think real faith has much strength without being exercised by crises of faith. 
In a crisis of faith, reality keeps slapping you in the face to wake you up to the fact that a core principle of your beliefs is clearly mistaken.  That in turns leads to the real problem.
 You are left asking if everything you believe is mistaken.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Beauty in the madness

Beauty in the Madness

Copyright 2016 Don Ray
On a recent sunrise contemplative walk, I experienced a most curious peaceful insight.  It arose in part in response to a recent afternoon spent at an acquaintance’s house where he had me watch innumerable old video clips of war in its innumerable forms, documentary video clips, movie excerpts, compilations, technology of weaponry, cavalry charges, black and white movies with handsome heroes charging into a wall of spears or a hail of bullets, etc., etc., a compendium of testimony to the madness of the human condition.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Life Adrift or Navigating Life

Life Adrift or Navigating Life

Copyright 2016 Don Ray

As we go through life the shallow waters of a familiar lagoon seem safe and pretty and warm.

How terrifying are the deep waters!  How dark and cold!....worst of all, how unknown! 

The shallow waters, their enticing hues, their warmth, their brightness, their clarity, entice us to stay close to shore, preventing our leaving for any other shore, precluding our exploring that which could expand our horizons.

It is usually only hunger, need, and desperation that drive us to leave the warm, shallow waters and set sail across the dark and deep…..

….and of course sometimes the occasional storm, the crisis, the disaster, tossing us out of our familiar harbors and bays, marooning us in uncharted emptiness, forcing us to choose our direction.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Heaven With a Little Help From Me Friends

Copyright 2016 Don Ray

Joe Cocker, dead?!  That is of course preposterous.  Surely it is time to dispel this cruel illusion of death.

Joe Cocker is dead?  How ludicrous.  How can anyone watch that performance at Woodstock and for an instant think the vitality of that individual consciousness no longer exists?  Ludicrous I say.

But wait!  Joe Cocker in the same Heaven as my Southern Baptist mother?!  Now there’s a logical incongruity! 

In the lessons learned from this temporal world have I learned anything to resolve this incongruity?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pray Alone, That You May Love Together

Pray Alone, That You May Love Together
Copyright 2016 Don Ray

Each element of consciousness, each individual soul, knows only that to which it gets exposed by its immediate experiences and that which it is told by the other people around it, exactly analogous to molecules in a fluid flow.
The analogy continues as the molecules and the element of consciousness, a human spirit, get carried along in flows and currents and tides.
Occasionally a wave breaking on rocks or the white water chaos of the rapids will propel an individual element away from the main flow, exposing them in a moment of chaos and confusion and terror to that which is new and alien and incomprehensible. 
The wrenching trauma of such events may displace that drop of consciousness into a completely different

Monday, January 26, 2015

Whispering Hope

Copyright 2016 Don Ray

Whispering Hope

How noisy the world is.  If not the rumble of explosives or the crack of guns, it’s the yelling of the TV announcer and the snarling of the rap star.
There is little place left for a soft whisper, for a gentle suggestion, for a lucid thought.
How flimsy seem the remaining tattered threads of Nature.
How futile is the soft light of Wisdom. 
There is no place for the soft and delicate and gentle.  There is no welcome for that which longs to heal and nourish the soul, and anything slow and gradual is doomed to derision, drowned out by laughter. 
There is a terrible noise loosed in the world today, a noisome cabal of shallow connections, a raucous cacophony of demanding and consuming and doing and going, he who speaks loudest winning the debate, she who spends most earning approval, and the clanging rattle of first world bucket-lists obscures the cries of those

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Hollow busyness

Hollow Busyness

Copyright 2016 Don Ray
“Hollow busyness”.  That is my new watchword summarizing modern United States society.  From the outside the “hollow busyness” always looks like so much substance. 

It always provides an answer to those inescapable questions “what did you do?”, “what are you doing?”, “what will you do?”, “what do you want to do?”, “what do you plan to do?”  Woe be to those in modern consumer society who confess they did nothing and have no plans for doing something!   

Outsiders cannot see past the perimeter of our lives into the hollowness at the core because of the obscuring surface whirlwind of activity, and we ourselves often as not are blinded by the dust and sand kicked up by our frantic busyness, our watering eyes unable to discern the relative merit and value of our frenetic activities, unaware of the real reasons for our tears.

Copyright 2016 Don Ray

Terrifying Passage from the Garden to the Kingdom

Terrifying Passage from the Garden to the Kingdom

Copyright 2016 Don Ray

Imagine what existence would be like without fear and pain.
Imagine human behavior in the absence of fear and pain.
I ask this with a broad, broad definition of fear and pain, including hunger, need, insecurity, loneliness, disapproval, survival, aging, dying.
Imagine walking into a life with none of that.  Imagine existence as pure consciousness, sharing life with other elements of consciousness, and entering that life with nothing driving you, only security and safety and embrace and love pulling you.
What would our existence be without something driving us?.....without cold and wind driving architecture, without social strictures and the need for acceptance driving our acceptable behavior, without hunger and war driving technology.
Upon erasure of the manifold motivations derived from fear and pain, we find remaining the distilled essence of humanity.