Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pay attention...

Meister Eckhart, the mystic, said, “To grasp God in all things – this is the sign of your new birth.”How often do we notice the presence of Spirit around us?

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin tells the 19th century Hasidic tale about the teacher who told his followers, “Everything that has been created in God’s world has a lesson to teach us.” Thinking that the teacher was engaging in hyperbole, one of his followers called out, “And what can we learn from the train?” “That because of being one minute late,” the teacher answered, “you can lose everything.”“And from the telegraph?” “that for every word you pay.” “And from the telephone?” “that what we say here, is heard there.”

Spiritual growth is concerned with paying attention to all the wonderful and magical things going on in our lives. We miss most of the wonders of life because we are not awake; we devote so much time wishing we were somewhere else, rushing to something else that might be more interesting. The English mystic, Evelyn Underhill, writes, “For lack of attention, a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day. Moments that may never again be repeated in our lives are often lost because of our busyness, our being in too much of a rush to notice them.”

Be Here Now

The philosopher Henry David Thoreau said, “Now or never! You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, and find eternity in every moment.” We can only pay attention to the magic of life by being in the moment. Be here in the moment, as an artist is here with focused attention, whether you are cooking, cleaning, praying, playing, reading or being with another person.

Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield, said, “The quality of presence determines the quality of life.”

One of the most important aspects of our spiritual journey is to see the value and the beauty of life as it shows itself to us in all its wondrous ways. As we open our awareness to the radiant world around us, more and more of its beauty flows into our experience, and worlds that before we did not see unfold in front of our eyes.

Nothing is Forever

What if this week we all begin to pay attention more fully to the signs of God in our midst? What if we slow down to notice all we have failed to see before? Imagine what wonders your attention would bring to you today.

Poet, William Carlos Williams, carried a notepad around with him. On it was written: “Things I noticed today that I missed until today.” Why would you fail to notice anything today? – it might not be here tomorrow.


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