soul blog inspired by Psalm 1 and Matthew 22:34-46
What we eat can effect us greatly. Take the nudibranch snails (see picture above) and medusa jellyfish found in the Bay of Naples. The snail carries a tiny parasite, a jellyfish, attached to its surface near the mouth. The jellyfish grows up and gets nice and fat, but the snail leaves its larva within the body of the jellyfish, and the snails end up eating the jellyfish from the inside out. http://myweb.rollins.edu/jsiry/Medusa_and_the_snail.html
The food we ingest certainly changes us in many ways. What we listen to, look at, and are taught are types of food—spiritual food, psychological food and intellectual food.
Often we cannot get beyond teaching that has been ingrained through culture, schools and family. This is all right provided it is healthy information. Information forms us.
The Pharisees had learned the Torah well, and they were not about to budge on what they considered the rules that pleased God. Of course, the rules that pleased God were not merely about whether you ate certain foods, but how you lived your life, how you treated other people, how you meted out justice, how you included those who were marginalized, and how you got beyond whatever limited you personally.
How do we become better human beings? Do we want a world of peace? Do we want interior freedom?
When an expert in the law, a Sadducee, asks Jesus “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself: All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
During elections, we are often confronted with people who think opposite to us. What’s worse is the attack ads which completely distort the truth and sometimes tell downright lies about the opposition. It is important for us to learn how to include other people and not allow anger over differences to create separation. Let us discern truth, admit that others have good ideas, even when we disagree with them, and recognize that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, no matter their color or their political persuasion.
I got a political e-mail from a friend of mine. We share the same opinions and what he sent were some basic facts. I’ve heard them before. I’ve even confirmed them. In any case, because I agree with him, I have no problem with what he sent me, and I take no issue with him. I sent this information to a few people whom I know and respect. I was surprised at the vehemence of one of my other friends. She sent me back some hate mail that was clearly propaganda.
Perhaps my friend though, “Ohhh, Christina, I don’t want these facts! They cannot possibly be right!”
Sometimes we might actually be absolutely right such as when we oppose murder, cheating, lying and various ugly and obvious crimes, but more often than not we only have a partial view of reality and truth.
Thank God for our differences. How are we to love one another as ourselves when we can’t stand what someone says or does. It’s simple. Treat others as you hope to be treated.
If you hate your neighbor for any reason, it does not matter that you come to church regularly, give money to a charity, and pay your bills on time, you are not obeying the basic spiritual rule of love.
We do not and cannot fully understand what makes people think they way they do. We are not in their shoes, and they are not in ours. Our very differences are our strength. We can learn from one another.
Jesus says you shall love your neighbor as yourself. This is basic wisdom. God does not want destruction but joy and freedom in our lives. Resentments and bitterness, like those nudibranch snails (we don’t even know are there), can eat us from the inside out.
The commandment to love your neighbor as yourself prevents outsiders from pointing accusatory and judgmental fingers, because there are no outsiders. In God’s love, we are all insiders. This command to love your neighbor as yourself is given as a gift. This is the only way to true joy, true happiness and peace.
To love our neighbors as ourselves unifies us as a people. It is the hope of the world.
Start with the little things: Love your neighbor as yourself you tube video/music
spiritual quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh
- When we come into contact with the other person, our thoughts and actions should express our mind of compassion, even if that person says and does things that are not easy to accept. We practice in this way until we see clearly that our love is not contingent upon the other person being lovable.
- People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?
- In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change.
- Training is needed in order to love properly; and to be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice DEEP LOOKING directed toward the other person you love. Because if you do not understand this person, you cannot love properly. Understanding is the essence of love. If you cannot understand, you cannot love. That is the message of the Buddha. [True Love. A Practice for Awakening the Heart.]
- So if we love someone, we should train in being able to listen. By listening with calm and understanding, we can ease the suffering of another person. [True Love. A Practice for Awakening the Heart.]
- Love is the capacity to take care, to protect, to nourish. If you are not capable of generating that kind of energy toward yourself- if you are not capable of taking care of yourself, of nourishing yourself, of protecting yourself- it is very difficult to take care of another person. In the Buddhist teaching, it’s clear that to love oneself is the foundation of the love of other people. Love is a practice. Love is truly a practice. [Shambhala Sun March 2006 ]