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Life Is More than Winning and Losing

We say things like “There are two kinds of people…” or “We can do one of two things…” The mind likes dualities because there’s always a winner and a loser. But, as God and the meditator know, dualities are only two-thirds of the story. The deeper, subatomic mind thinks in threes and so winning or losing isn’t the main point. As a teacher, using stories that were both simple and subtle, Jesus used the dualistic to get to the Trinitarian. Don’t we all have moments when we feel superior, if not to everyone else, then at least to the lowest?

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Seeking Radical Simplicity

Because we are so bombarded today with messages and demands, and our attention is being pulled in many different directions, we like the idea of simplicity. We may also like leaving big decisions that we should take for ourselves to other people like the government or doctors or, though less often today for obvious reasons, to clergy. There is a plethora of courses and programs on the market offering to sort us out and give us skills we need to take control of our lives—provided we buy (and believe).

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Are You With Me?

“Are you with me?” It’s a question we might ask an audience to make sure they haven’t gone off to sleep while we were talking. Or at a critical moment in negotiations when we need to know who is on our side and who isn’t. Or to a companion during a dark and dangerous walk along a cliff-edge to reassure ourselves he hasn’t fallen off. I don’t think Jesus means any of these when he says, “Whoever is not with me is against me; and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Luke 11:23). We might still be “with him” even if we have fallen off to sleep or feel isolated in a hard place.

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Be Your Real Self

When we see hypocrisy—the enemy of integrity—we are cautious. If we condemn it—as Jesus and the great teachers did—we expose ourselves to attack. No one likes to be called a hypocrite, yet at some level we all know that we are. The word comes from the Greek hypokrisis, which means “actor.” Yet it is almost inevitable that we pretend to be or feel what we are not, or do not, even if we would also like to be what we pretend. We don’t have to despair about our inauthenticity, simply admit it.

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Silence Is the Greatest of Teachers

A good new practice to highlight, even at this midway point in the Lenten period, is silence. Silence is the greatest of teachers. This is increasingly true in our highly distracted culture. Distraction is unnecessary noise. If our natural environment lacks silence, how will we ever understand what it is? We will know we have lost something, but will have no word for what it is. Silence will just mean that the audio doesn’t work. So we must speak about silence, communicating what it is until the penny drops into the bottomless well.

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Persistence Is More Important than Success

We cannot pursue success, acceptance, and acclaim as authentic goals of life, and be real. In meditation we score no goals but we win the match. Most people who stay faithful to the practice find the inner freedom that comes with an embraced discipline. The experience of meditation is unlike any other. It is extremely difficult to define because it is an entry into such radical simplicity that we lose even the words to describe it. Because it gently penetrates to the deepest center of our existence, it involves and influences everything in our life with a marvelous capacity to unify.

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