We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Living Consciously (Has Its Price)

The inward/outward quotation for today is taken, under the heading "Living Consciously," from Howard Thurman (The Inward Journey).  It says, "The hunger deepens and becomes more and more insistent for ridding ourselves of the tremendous burden of pretensions. We long for relationships in which it is no longer needful for us to pretend anything. The clue to the answer is in the awakening within us of the sense of living our lives consciously in God’s presence."  As is the wont with aphorisms, it contains wisdom and captures a truth.

Without denying that truth, we should also acknowledge that we carry the burden of our pretensions because they are often a source of personal safety as well as burdensome.  It is extremely difficult to face up to our own inadequacies, and there are times in life when they can all but overwhelm us.  One has to go about reducing one's pretensions wisely and gently.  It also has to be acknowledged that there are people with whom it is difficult to live honestly.  Honesty invites still more abuse of one sort or another.  To live without pretensions not only requires gentle wisdom, but it also demands of us courage.

This is not to say that Thurman is wrong.  He isn't.  It is to say that in the real world living "consciously in God's presence" is not a bed of roses.  Indeed, for the vast majority of us it is a goal, a challenge, a hope, and a dream that will never be fully realized.