My Soul Is My Soul

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I was recently introduced to a children’s song about respect for body. These lines caught my attention:

“My body’s nobody’s body but mine.
You run your body, let me run mine.”

Peter Alsop, entertainer, counselor, psychologist

I am taken aback by its stark, bold truth. It carries a wake-up power that summons us to respect. What if we paraphrased these lines to read:

“My soul’s no one’s soul but mine.
You run your soul, let me run mine.”

Thoughts translated into words are an energy that either affirms or negates its intended target. Yet, we pass easy judgment on the process of one another’s spiritual development as though we have that right and as though we actually know the heart of someone else.

In their book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald describe their study which concluded that every human being fills in what we don’t know with what we think we know. We develop Mindbugs which keep us from seeing reality clearly. E. Adelson defines them as “ingrained habits of thoughts that lead to errors in how we perceive, remember, reason, and make decisions.” Banaji and Greenwald point out that mindbugs can be so powerful that they can cause us to more often remember things that didn’t happen than things that did happen. Given this research, I ask, Who has the moral authority to judge the status of someone’s soul? Is it not deserving of as much respect as our body?

There is a place for professional discernment, even for nonprofessional discernment for the sake of protecting our souls from intrusion. However, we must always be aware that we have mindbugs and try to get out of their way as we discern. Otherwise, discernment becomes judgment of motives and choices .To pass on judgments made out of our mindbugs is not only irresponsible, it is often just an act of self-aggrandizement. If the other is down, I am up.

Isn’t the task of running my own soul monumental enough without trying to run other’s souls? Leave it, I say.

“My soul’s no one’s soul but mine.
You run your soul, let me run mine.”

A Spiritual Practice

My spiritual practice comes in the form of a pause. I try to pause before I judge. I breathe in respect and release fear. I breathe in love and release judgment. Once in a while it works. Our human instinct is to protect our ego, but the pause interrupts the knee-jerk impulse to insert our ego into the unknown spaces of the other. The pause lets in the Spirit who sees reality as it is.

Photo Credit:  Pixabay.com

 

Meditation on Passing Judgment

Sherlock Portrait 3-22-16

 

Sherlock sits on my lap
eyes fixed on shards of light
cast by cracks between slats in blinds
(that is how the light gets in, you know, through the cracks.)*
I have only to look in his green oval eyes
to know what he sees-
cracks of light dance there on the surface.
Sherlock’s meditation becomes mine:

If we let it, cracks of light from outside
will dance on our inside,
casting colors clear and keen
illuminating the eyes of our souls.

I see you now.

© rita h kowats 7-24-18
* Thank you, yet again, Leonard Cohen

 

Breaching The Divide

o is for open

 

Simple-song
Marge Piercy

When we are going toward someone we say
you are just like me
your thoughts are my brothers and sisters
word matches word how easy to be together.

When we are leaving someone we say
how strange you are
we cannot communicate
we can never agree
how hard, hard and weary to be together.

We are not different nor alike
but each strange in our leather bodies
sealed in skin and reaching out clumsy hands
and loving is an act
that cannot outlive
the open hand
the open eye
the door in the chest standing open.

 

 

This poem drew me into meditation this morning and I have strolled through its many nuances throughout the day. We allow the other’s difference to grow a wedge between us because we don’t understand it, and we can’t control what we don’t understand. We would rather muck around in the divide than risk the outstretched hand and the open door in the chest.

In their book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greewald describe their study which concluded that every human being fills in what we don’t know with what we think we know. In observing myself, I see that it is my ego that fills in what I don’t know, rather than the self that lives in divine presence. This self is strong enough to welcome that which is strange in the other, that which reaches out with clumsy hands.

My spiritual practice comes in the form of a pause. I pause before I judge. I breathe in respect and release fear. I breathe in love and release judgment. Once in a while it works. Our human instinct is to protect our ego, but the pause interrupts the knee-jerk impulse to insert it into the strange, unknown spaces of the other. The pause lets in the Spirit who places clumsy hand in clumsy hand.

 

Photo Credit: Photopin.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Michael W. May <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/14609664@N06/5376777351″>o is for open</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

“The Words of the Prophets Are Written on Subway Walls…”*

Prophets Words on Subway Walls

 

 

I have noticed that consistent spiritual practice helps one to grow, but paradoxically it also sets us up for more human frailty.  The more aware I become, the more judgmental I am.  It’s a great struggle to choose love instead of judgment, when the more we see, the more we judge what we see.

This piece of Sufi wisdom came across my Facebook timeline last week and I have been using it as a practice to avoid passing judgment.  It is very helpful to me.  Asking the questions as preparation before entering a situation where I am likely to get into a negative space of judging stops this thought process from taking over.

The fruit of this practice is nonviolence, even if for a moment.  I have a lifetime of travel ahead on this journey, but it feels good to have this walking stick in my hand.  Maybe it will help you too.

May your week-end bring you joy.

Rita

 

 

*Thank you, Paul Simon!