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Ancient Law of Hospitality

--by Thomas Berry (Dec 14, 2010)


Perhaps our greatest resource for peace is in an awareness that we enrich ourselves when we share our possessions with others. We discover peace when we learn to esteem those goods whereby we benefit ourselves in proportion as we give them to others. The very structure and functioning of the universe and of the planet Earth reveal an indescribable diversity bound in an all-embracing unity. The heavens themselves are curved over the Earth in an encompassing embrace.

Here I would recall the experience of Henry David Thoreau, an American naturalist the mid-nineteenth century who lived a very simple life with few personal possessions. At one time he was attracted to the idea of purchasing an especially beautiful bit of land with a pasture and a wooded area. He even made a deposit. But then he realized that it was not necessary to purchase the land because, he reasoned, he already possessed the land in its wonder and its beauty as he passed by each day. This intimacy with the land could not be taken away from him no matter who owned the land in its physical reality. So indeed that same bit of land could be owned in its wonder and beauty by an unlimited number of persons, even though in its physical reality it might be owned by a single person.

Such was the argument of Mencius, the Chinese Confucian writer who taught the emperor that he should open up the royal park for others, since it would be an even greater joy to have others present with him, just as at a musical concert we enjoy the music without diminishing, but increasing, our own joy as we share it with others. So too for those in the Bodhisattva tradition of India, where those such as Shanti Deva, in the fifth century of our era, took a vow to refuse beatitude itself until all living creatures were saved. For only when they participated in his joy could he be fully caught up in the delight of paradise.

It has taken these many centuries for us to meet with each other in the comprehensive manner that is now possible. While for the many long centuries we had fragments of information concerning each other, we can now come together, speak with each other, dine with each other. Above all we can tell our stories to each other.

Tonight we might recall the ancient law of hospitality, whereby the wanderer was welcomed.

--Thomas Berry, in 'Evening Thoughts'


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31 Previous Reflections:

 
On Jul 17, 2011 cyron wrote:

HOSPITALITY... is a virtue that we Filipinos hold... Everytime a person visit our properties.. we serve them the best... I ADMIT that local Filipinos are can only provide thair needs,, but in terms of HOSPITALITY... WE THE FILIPINOS are number one...., We gave all our very best to serve those visitors that are right to serve with... so when you want to see a hopitable place to stay with in your entire house the PHILIPPINES is tha answer on your problem....... MAYBE  for now i'm just a student but still i know what are those virtue that a Filipino should have,,, thank you... 



On Mar 16, 2011 Catherine Todd wrote:

Thank you Rambo. I am trying to do this every day. Now if I could just figure out "how." I am trying to do just this: " Courage means to act in spite of your fear and building it is just like building a muscle - it requires practice." I have always said that the only real antagonist I have is my self. If I didn't exactly create my own monsters, I certainly have fed and watered them!

Now on to meditation on how to give up my anger, fear and resentments. God grant me peace and show me the way. Amen. Aaaaaaa OOoooooo MMMMMMmmmmmmmmmm



On Mar 16, 2011 Rambo wrote:

@catherine Stand up and fight for yourself when you need to but then move on emotionally and mentally without harbouring any resentment. This is obviously difficult to do in practice but it can be done and is probably the only way you can stay sane within such an environment. If you don't feel like you can stand up for yourself then you need to build the inner strength and courage to do so. Courage means to act in spite of your fear and building it is just like building a muscle - it requires practice. And don't give up until you get there. As a sage once said, defeat the defeatist within you.

 



On Mar 11, 2011 catherine todd wrote:

Thank you Rambo. It is very hard for me, if not impossible for me, to see cruel and angry people as "suffering." In fact, I think they are enjoying it quite a bit! That's the description of a SADIST and they do exist. That's the description of a narcissist or a borderline personality, who ENJOY hurting others as it relieves whatever pressure they feel inside. They are fine afterwards, while the other person is left to lick their wounds and try to staunch the bleeding. But since ALL religions seem to talk about forgiveness in the way that you do, I am going to keep on "giving it a try." I have yet to find the key to unlock this door, but someone above talked about "meditating" on the parts of a passage they did not understand, "until it was clear." Or something along those lines. I swear that the TIGER in me wants only to smash those people into oblivion and put an "end to the problem." Yet I know that can't really be an answer either  See full.

Thank you Rambo. It is very hard for me, if not impossible for me, to see cruel and angry people as "suffering." In fact, I think they are enjoying it quite a bit! That's the description of a SADIST and they do exist. That's the description of a narcissist or a borderline personality, who ENJOY hurting others as it relieves whatever pressure they feel inside. They are fine afterwards, while the other person is left to lick their wounds and try to staunch the bleeding.

But since ALL religions seem to talk about forgiveness in the way that you do, I am going to keep on "giving it a try." I have yet to find the key to unlock this door, but someone above talked about "meditating" on the parts of a passage they did not understand, "until it was clear." Or something along those lines.

I swear that the TIGER in me wants only to smash those people into oblivion and put an "end to the problem." Yet I know that can't really be an answer either, as it falls into "an eye for an eye" theory. I would like to take TWO EYES for an eye, to tell you the truth.

HOW TO STAND UP FOR MYSELF, AND HOW TO MOVE ON?

I have struggled with this ALL MY LIFE.

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On Mar 11, 2011 Rambo wrote:

@Catherine I agree with you in that if all you're getting from them is "bombs" then you need to stand up for yourself. If we're not strong inside then saying that we forgive other people is pointless because we would never have been able to oppose them more forcefully anyway. But what you don't want to do is to dwell on the pain inflicted upon you by others or to dwell on their deficiencies. And this is where forgiveness comes in play. So even when you resist them and fight back you carry the understanding that whatever negativity they are expressing is a result of even deeper pain and dissatisfaction they have within themselves which has nothing to do with you. Thus, you do what you need to do keep your peace but you have no need to hate them or dwell on what they do/did to you because they are suffering even more than you are. And if you can look at it this way then you will find that it no longer affects you. You act in the moment and then move on.  See full.

@Catherine I agree with you in that if all you're getting from them is "bombs" then you need to stand up for yourself.

If we're not strong inside then saying that we forgive other people is pointless because we would never have been able to oppose them more forcefully anyway.

But what you don't want to do is to dwell on the pain inflicted upon you by others or to dwell on their deficiencies. And this is where forgiveness comes in play. So even when you resist them and fight back you carry the understanding that whatever negativity they are expressing is a result of even deeper pain and dissatisfaction they have within themselves which has nothing to do with you.

Thus, you do what you need to do keep your peace but you have no need to hate them or dwell on what they do/did to you because they are suffering even more than you are. And if you can look at it this way then you will find that it no longer affects you. You act in the moment and then move on.

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On Mar 11, 2011 Catherine Todd wrote:

Pancho, re-reading your comment (after the spam comment came in today): it all sounds good, especially the part about "family." But when you come from a TOXIC family, how are we supposed to know how to treat people as "brothers & sisters?" That is not always a good thing. Forgiving them just allows them to continue the mistreatment. I only know how to stay away from them or return the bombs they throw at me. And Ghandi and the others were killed by "brothers & sisters," if "everyone" is family. What good did it do either of them, or us? It is a cold and cruel and heartless world we live in. Outside of "the mind." And perhaps in it.



On Dec 21, 2010 Pancho wrote:

My family calls me Pancho and I'd like you to know that I love you all.    When the Universal Love is flowing through us, are we giving or receiving? As the generosity of life manifests through us, from the sole of our feet to the top of the head, from our hearts to our eyes, how not to be blessed with the ultimate reality of interconnectedness? This blessing flowed through some of us last Wednesday, during the precious dance of giving and receiving. Many of us didn't know if we were giving or receiving at that point... These were the 3 points that flowed through me:   1. Resistance to Civil Government: Thoreau and Gandhi  2. Family 3. Radical Hospitality   1. Resistance to Civil Government: Thoreau and Gandhi  During the circle Gandhi and Thoreau were mentioned and immediately Thoreau's essay on Civil Disobedience came to mind/heart. As a compassionate resident of the Earth,  See full.

My family calls me Pancho and I'd like you to know that I love you all. 

 
When the Universal Love is flowing through us, are we giving or receiving? As the generosity of life manifests through us, from the sole of our feet to the top of the head, from our hearts to our eyes, how not to be blessed with the ultimate reality of interconnectedness? This blessing flowed through some of us last Wednesday, during the precious dance of giving and receiving. Many of us didn't know if we were giving or receiving at that point... These were the 3 points that flowed through me:
 
1. Resistance to Civil Government: Thoreau and Gandhi 
2. Family
3. Radical Hospitality
 
1. Resistance to Civil Government: Thoreau and Gandhi 
During the circle Gandhi and Thoreau were mentioned and immediately Thoreau's essay on Civil Disobedience came to mind/heart. As a compassionate resident of the Earth, Thoreau was fiercely opposed to the imperial behavior of his government and its endless wars --like the one against the Mexican government in the 1840s where the U.S. government colonized the present day states of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, most of Arizona and Colorado, and parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming. When Gandhi read Thoreau's essay he fully understood the importance and similarities between the abolition of slavery movements in the parts of the Planet we call the U.S. and South Africa. On Gandhi's words:
 
"Thoreau was a great writer, philosopher, poet, and withal a most practical man, that is, he taught nothing he was not prepared to practice in himself. He was one of the greatest and most moral men America has produced. At the time of the abolition of slavery movement, he wrote his famous essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. He went to gaol for the sake of his principles and suffering humanity. His essay has, therefore, been sanctified by suffering. Moreover, it is written for all time. Its incisive logic is unanswerable."
 
For Gandhi this was no other thing but satyagraha: clinging to truth, exercising the soul-force in the face of injustice to touch the hearts of all people involved in the conflict to convert them from opponents into sisters and brothers. Satyagraha was a way to disobey inhumane systems/governments and, at the same time, a way to follow the path of truthful means that creates real harmony.
 
2. Family
Why do I always introduce myself as: "My family calls me Pancho"? It is because pretty much everyone calls me Pancho. I see everybody as my family and when a person calls me "Pancho" she or he --consciously or subconsciously-- are joining the emerging paradigm of unity without borders. There are many brains but there is only one heart.
 
I believe that Thoreau and Gandhi --and so many other great human beings-- are showing us the path towards a way of life where we treat each other as sisters and brothers for real. We always will have enough for everybody's needs but not for anyone's greed. It is a visualization of how the Earth Community would look like if we embrace the Victory of the Commons, the Victory of the Grand Human Family.
 
3. Radical Hospitality
Ancient law of hospitality... what about 9 months of radical hospitality in our mom's womb? 
 
Or what about 13 years of opening the door of your home and cooking dinner with love every single Wednesday where everybody is welcome, so long as the meditative purpose of the silent space, the constraints of the physical space, and a sense of mutual respect is honored?
 
Or what about 3.5 billion years of radical hospitality of Mother Earth who supports the miracle of life in this part of the Universe?
 
Father Thomas Berry puts it beautifully:
 
"Every part of the Earth is a mode of the Earth.
Every being on the Earth, is the Earth.
A tiger is the Earth. A thunderstorm is the Earth. A poem is the Earth.
The Earth expresses herself through the myriad beings. The Planet is embodied in every one of its phenomena."
 
In the same way that we (radically) host in our hearts every single being of the Earth, every phenomena, we will feel the flow of the Universal Love nourishing the soul at all levels confirming that there is no community without a unifying story.
 
May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.

Pancho 

 

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On Dec 21, 2010 patrick ofori wrote:

is great and good to be inspired. 



On Dec 17, 2010 Catherine Todd wrote:

Thanks Varsha for the link to the Free Farm. Going there now. Thefreefarm.org



On Dec 17, 2010 Catherine Todd wrote:

Alright, here's a real life experience. How to offer "hospitality" without incurring damage to oneself or one's home (possession)?

http://weburbanist.com/2008/07/17/unique-beach-houses-and-lake-houses/

Castel Meur, also known as The House Between the Rocks or La Maison de Plougrescant, was built in 1861. It’s nestled between two natural granite pillars on the English Channel coast in Brittany, France. Those rocks and the waterside location make Castel Meur an extremely photogenic abode. The house became somewhat famous when postcards featuring a beautiful photograph of the property were sold in gift shops around the world. Unfortunately, tourists lacking respect for the residence have caused damage to the home and property, prompting the owner to prohibit commercial sale of images of the home.



On Dec 17, 2010 Varsha wrote:

Catherine, you can learn more about the Free Farm here: http://thefreefarm.org/



On Dec 17, 2010 Catherine Todd wrote:

OMG. Oh My Goodness. Oh My God. You have really answered many of my questions in this passage. So much to learn. I will print all this out and give it a try in "meditation" and also with the "kindred spirits" here on this page who are taking so much time with me answering so many questions. I think those "dancers" are like my fingers who "dance over" the black and white keys of the piano, into the Silver Stream when I "get out of the way." This must be what you meant. I thank you all. CT I couldn't upload this image, but it reminds me of what you are talking about. You can see the Horsehead Nebula ~ Orion on the NASA image gallery (can't post a link or image here)   PS: This is all probably "off topic" so I will try to limit my responses in the future. Gracias.  See full.

OMG. Oh My Goodness. Oh My God.

You have really answered many of my questions in this passage. So much to learn. I will print all this out and give it a try in "meditation" and also with the "kindred spirits" here on this page who are taking so much time with me answering so many questions. I think those "dancers" are like my fingers who "dance over" the black and white keys of the piano, into the Silver Stream when I "get out of the way." This must be what you meant. I thank you all. CT

I couldn't upload this image, but it reminds me of what you are talking about. You can see the Horsehead Nebula ~ Orion on the NASA image gallery (can't post a link or image here)

 

PS: This is all probably "off topic" so I will try to limit my responses in the future. Gracias.

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On Dec 17, 2010 Somik Raha wrote:

Catherine Todd wrote: How exactly do you "meditate" about this, and how does this differ from my "thinking" about this? Or are you referring to regular meditation while "clearing your mind?" This question cannot be properly answered :). Here is an approximate answer - when I receive these passages, I try to look out for things that don't make sense easily. That is usually a clue that some more work needs to be done. Then I hear the passage multiple times (the listen link in the beautiful voice helps). Then, I go into meditation (clearing your mind) with a group of kindred spirits (the same that mails out these pieces, and many others who receive them), with some idea of what I'm confused about. In the meditation, depending on how much I'm able to let go, as the mind gets still, things start to become very clear, and the things that did not make sense suddenly start to reveal their secrets. The passage dances into life. There you have it. :) What  See full.

Catherine Todd wrote:

How exactly do you "meditate" about this, and how does this differ from my "thinking" about this? Or are you referring to regular meditation while "clearing your mind?"

This question cannot be properly answered :). Here is an approximate answer - when I receive these passages, I try to look out for things that don't make sense easily. That is usually a clue that some more work needs to be done. Then I hear the passage multiple times (the listen link in the beautiful voice helps). Then, I go into meditation (clearing your mind) with a group of kindred spirits (the same that mails out these pieces, and many others who receive them), with some idea of what I'm confused about. In the meditation, depending on how much I'm able to let go, as the mind gets still, things start to become very clear, and the things that did not make sense suddenly start to reveal their secrets. The passage dances into life. There you have it. :)

What do you mean "protecting the gift of life with the gift of death.?"

If we were immortal, it would be a curse and not a gift. Imagine the worst tyrants on this earth who keep threatening the lives of others, living forever. Thank God they eventually die. Imagine our saints living forever - there'd be no mystery in the universe for they know it all, and all we have to do is ask. Thank God they die too, leaving us to decide which path we are going to take. And then us. Imagine a lifetime of knowing what you know. When you play a video game and you are finally a champ at it, imagine being told you can't change the game and that is the only game you can play. Huge curse! In India, there was once a hero who was blessed to live beyond his natural age. Others eventually looked down upon this person as taking up resources that would have sustained new life. Moreover, he knew too much and was a big threat to others, for he crossed over to a darker side and was almost invincible. Nature automatically protects us by gifting all of us with death.

Death makes people rather somber. So, when we talk about death, we should try to lighten up. Here are two that make me smile. First, the lament of the immortal - "When I asked not to die, I forgot to ask for youth to go with it." :) Second, the lament of the mortal - "Youth is wasted on the young." :)

"The best dancers do not dance..." I understand about "the best fighters do not fight," but not dancing?

The dance happens - the best dancers get out of the way.

And then why bring up an example about being "unwilling to dance the dance?"

For the best dancers to get out of the way, they need to work hard. The hardest work is to do no work. Dancing the dance, initially, involves openness, learning, practice. As time goes on, if one is working properly, one learns that the dance happens, and becomes the dance. The best tennis player does not think very much about which shot to use. The shot happens. Getting there takes time.

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On Dec 17, 2010 Catherine Todd wrote:

Rambor wrote: "In my opinion being able to say "no" to a request is as important as being able to say "yes". In fact through saying "no" to someone you could in a way be helping them to rely on you less, thereby helping them grow" Very good points. But then you wrote: "At the same time you have to ask yourself whether you are holding back ["not giving?] because you feel that you will be "less" through the giving. It is this state of mind which I was talking about in my first post - this state of mind comes from a sense of lack due to identification with my ego; these sorts of thoughts are unnecessary." What "state of mind" and what "sorts of thoughts are unnecessary?"  "Holding back and not giving?" "From a sense of lack due to identification with my ego?"  That the ego thinks it won't have enough??? There's so much to understand here when one is new to all t  See full.

Rambor wrote: "In my opinion being able to say "no" to a request is as important as being able to say "yes". In fact through saying "no" to someone you could in a way be helping them to rely on you less, thereby helping them grow"

Very good points.

But then you wrote: "At the same time you have to ask yourself whether you are holding back ["not giving?] because you feel that you will be "less" through the giving. It is this state of mind which I was talking about in my first post - this state of mind comes from a sense of lack due to identification with my ego; these sorts of thoughts are unnecessary."

What "state of mind" and what "sorts of thoughts are unnecessary?"  "Holding back and not giving?"

"From a sense of lack due to identification with my ego?" 

That the ego thinks it won't have enough???

There's so much to understand here when one is new to all this. I feel very foolish here, as obviously the people on this post are advanced and I am barely - if at all - a "beginner." Really, I'm not even ON the totem pole. But I appreciate every little bit and am reading and absorbing as much as I can.

Any responses, readings, literature or links (as others have sent me) are much appreciated. I have heard this kind of discussion all my life but never understood what it meant. Not really, as I never saw it put into what I considered "positive practice."

Gracias...

CatherineTodd2 at gmail dot com

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On Dec 17, 2010 Rambo wrote:

@Catherine

In my opinion being able to say "no" to a request is as important as being able to say "yes". In fact through saying "no" to someone you could in a way be helping them to rely on you less, thereby helping them grow. So in some ways when you are giving or not giving to somebody you have to consider whether you are helping them grow as a person in the most effective way (something we learn to do very naturally with minors, e.g. kids). At the same time you have to ask yourself whether you are holding back because you feel that you will be "less" through the giving. It is this state of mind which I was talking about in my first post - this state of mind comes from a sense of lack due to identification with my ego; these sorts of thoughts are unnecessary.




On Dec 16, 2010 Catherine Todd wrote:

Two questions, Somik:

1. "In a sense, nature is the ultimate trustee, protecting the gift of life with the gift of death. Nature is also the ultimate receiver, for in every ecosystem, we find every species receiving benefits from the actions of others, in a natural manner :)."

What do you mean "protecting the gift of life with the gift of death.?"

 

2. "The best dancers do not dance..." I understand about "the best fighters do not fight," but not dancing?

And then why bring up an example about being "unwilling to dance the dance?"

(maybe this is three questions)



On Dec 16, 2010 Catherine Todd wrote:

Ahhhh, Somik. You have hit both nails on the head!  You wrote:

"The passage seemed to be highlighting for us two opposites: receiving (Thoreau's story) and trusteeship (Mencius' story). Swami Vivekananda, Gandhi, Vinoba, all encourage the rich to think of themselves as trustees of the poor. This attitude did not require giving up one's riches, but it did involve expanding the circle of well-being to more than one's narrow context."

I was definitely talking about "stewardship." That is easy for me to believe in and to do, in more ways than just "the poor." I try to be a steward of the earth, in all shapes and forms.

I'm going to read all of your reflection again, and think about it. How exactly do you "meditate" about this, and how does this differ from my "thinking" about this?

Or are you referring to regular meditation while "clearing your mind?"



On Dec 16, 2010 Somik Raha wrote:

This passage ran deep for me. Never ceases to amaze me at how much meaning comes out of a passage after meditating. The passage seemed to be highlighting for us two opposites: receiving (Thoreau's story) and trusteeship (Mencius' story). Swami Vivekananda, Gandhi, Vinoba, all encourage the rich to think of themselves as trustees of the poor. This attitude did not require giving up one's riches, but it did involve expanding the circle of well-being to more than one's narrow context. People like Thoreau could never "possess" a beautiful land in their interaction unless the land were either without an owner, or if the owner, as a trustee, kept it open. Trusteeship is a special kind of giving. It involves holding on for the purpose of giving. One of the most powerful conservation efforts in modern times of forest land involves creating clear ownership rights for the purposes of maintaining open access to the land. In ancient times in India, kings demarcated parts of forests t  See full.

This passage ran deep for me. Never ceases to amaze me at how much meaning comes out of a passage after meditating.

The passage seemed to be highlighting for us two opposites: receiving (Thoreau's story) and trusteeship (Mencius' story). Swami Vivekananda, Gandhi, Vinoba, all encourage the rich to think of themselves as trustees of the poor. This attitude did not require giving up one's riches, but it did involve expanding the circle of well-being to more than one's narrow context.

People like Thoreau could never "possess" a beautiful land in their interaction unless the land were either without an owner, or if the owner, as a trustee, kept it open. Trusteeship is a special kind of giving. It involves holding on for the purpose of giving.

One of the most powerful conservation efforts in modern times of forest land involves creating clear ownership rights for the purposes of maintaining open access to the land. In ancient times in India, kings demarcated parts of forests to sages, on which no hunting was allowed, and which acted as a natural preserve, a sanctuary for all. The idea of trusteeship can be found to have been with us since ancient times. In modern times, the open-source software movement is notable in its idea of having people establish copyright so that they may then keep their software open without challenge. The trustee aspect of ownership shows us, in a powerful way, that it is not the ownership lines that limit the owner's actions. An awakened heart will find its expression within all limitations, turning the limitation into a beautiful feature, just as a resource owner becomes a trustee.

Trustees cannot do their thing unless there are those like Thoreau, who can enjoy things without owning them, without putting their stamp on them. Receivership is therefore as important as trusteeship, and requires one to learn how to possess without possessing.

In a sense, nature is the ultimate trustee, protecting the gift of life with the gift of death. Nature is also the ultimate receiver, for in every ecosystem, we find every species receiving benefits from the actions of others, in a natural manner :).

The question arises - can we be a trustee and receive at the same time? As we came together in the circle this Wednesday, it became clear that the circle was an example of the two aspects existing at the same time. We were trustees of the space. At the same time we were receivers in that space. And, the number of trustees would always equal the number of receivers, for each person would be a receiver of every other trustee, and a trustee of every receiver.

It is not always easy to see this in action. We find ourselves challenged by situations where we get attached to one or the other role. Unfortunately, attachment spoils the game, which is really a dance, as Nipun put it. For a good dance, there has to be flow. The best dancers do not dance. The best fighters do not fight. There comes a point where we do not know if we are receiving or giving as trustees. Being aware of the naturalness of that condition - that we are constantly, without any outward action, receiving and giving at the level of our own molecular structure, at the level of our own physiology, and at the level of our own sociology, we come to a point where we realize we can either accept it or sabotage it. Sabotaging is fixating on one role to the exclusion of the other, an unwillingness to dance the dance, an unwillingness to experience what our nature has brought us to. Acceptance is a willingness to dance with both receivership and trusteeship, deepening the intensity without deepening the attachment.

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On Dec 16, 2010 Catherine Todd wrote:

P.S. Regarding "the experience of Henry David Thoreau, an American naturalist the mid-nineteenth century who lived a very simple life with few personal possessions. At one time he was attracted to the idea of purchasing an especially beautiful bit of land with a pasture and a wooded area..."   Sure, Thoreau didn't have to "own" that beautiful piece of land to "enjoy" it, at least until someone built something else on that piece of land that was NOT so beautiful, or destroyed the peace and quiet of the area, or poisoned the area, or I could go on and on... This kind of reference doesn't make sense anymore, especially since Walden's Pond has been PURCHASED to PRESERVE IT. What I have seen is that I don't have to own "that particular piece of land," as there are beautiful pieces of land everyone on God's good earth, and I can own a piece of land anywhere in the world and enjoy the trees and the dirt and the flowers and vegetables that gr  See full.

P.S. Regarding "the experience of Henry David Thoreau, an American naturalist the mid-nineteenth century who lived a very simple life with few personal possessions. At one time he was attracted to the idea of purchasing an especially beautiful bit of land with a pasture and a wooded area..."
 

Sure, Thoreau didn't have to "own" that beautiful piece of land to "enjoy" it, at least until someone built something else on that piece of land that was NOT so beautiful, or destroyed the peace and quiet of the area, or poisoned the area, or I could go on and on...

This kind of reference doesn't make sense anymore, especially since Walden's Pond has been PURCHASED to PRESERVE IT.

What I have seen is that I don't have to own "that particular piece of land," as there are beautiful pieces of land everyone on God's good earth, and I can own a piece of land anywhere in the world and enjoy the trees and the dirt and the flowers and vegetables that grow anywhere in the soil anywhere in the world. But ask a homeless person or land-less person how much they "enjoy" looking at areas of "beauty" when they have no security of their own.

Are we all to be begging wanderers with nowhere to call our own? Even monasteries own the land they sit on; St. Francis might not have wanted to "own" the land that was granted to him by the nobleman, but the rest of the congregation did and did so as soon as Francis died. Are we supposed to go find a cave to live in and sleep with the wolves and hide from the buzzards because we don't "own" anything?

I would prefer to be a "steward" of the land and TAKE CARE of what I own and SHARE what I own so that ALL CAN BENEFIT. Ownership has it's price and it's rights and responsibilities. How else can we protect things, unless we are to live with nothing at all?

I took a vow of poverty when I was a novitiate many years ago. I now own too many things and am downsizing and feeling free-er than I have in years, but that is due to my age (60) and is appropriate for now. I think having fewer possessions can be a good thing, but sharing and caring has more meaning to me than "owning nothing." I am also reminded of the wonderful film called "The Gods Must Be Crazy" and how finding a glass coca-cola bottle caused so much trouble, envy and more in the simple African village where it fell from the sky. But we don't live in a tribal community or in dirt huts and keep cows and drink blood. We live in modern day America or Europe or many other developed countries. What philosophy can help us in this day and age?

It seems I don't understand this "detachment" philosophy any better now than when I was a little hippy girl back in the '60's, even after all these years. I'd like to read about real, modern day situations that would help the world, not just "give it up" or "remove oneself." If that is the case, I'd become a hermit living out in the woods like I also did many years ago. I like indoor plumbing and I like owning my own home and my own land so I can protect it and myself. Improve it and enjoy the benefits and the garden that is my church. It's peaceful here because it is MINE. I can fence out the noise and distractions of the neighbors and all the drama they enjoin. If I rented or squatted, that would surely not be the case.

Perhaps this is too literal, but it's something that I've thought about for a long, long time.

Now that I've thought about this statement ("moral to the story"):

         "Give me that which enabled you to give it to me."

I'm still not sure. Hmmmmm.

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On Dec 16, 2010 Catherine Todd wrote:

Rambo wrote: "It's only when I share without expecting return that I will actually get the feeling of joy that the post mentions."   Sounds good, but how do you "not expect" at least GOOD TREATMENT when you share or give something? Have you ever heard of "biting the hand that feeds you?" What do you do when you give something to someone and they then begin to DEMAND things of you, because you are shown to be a "soft touch?" Then when you finally begin to refuse, they rob you? All these philosophical thoughts sound good on paper, but when does "giving" become "enabling" and when does it put you in danger? This has actually happened to me, more than once. That is why I have begun to doubt this kind of philosophy. The "joy" in giving can be an co-dependent addiction, too, can't it? What ever happened about equal "sharing?" Why so much focus on "giving until it hurts" and "give more?&q  See full.

Rambo wrote: "It's only when I share without expecting return that I will actually get the feeling of joy that the post mentions."

 

Sounds good, but how do you "not expect" at least GOOD TREATMENT when you share or give something? Have you ever heard of "biting the hand that feeds you?" What do you do when you give something to someone and they then begin to DEMAND things of you, because you are shown to be a "soft touch?" Then when you finally begin to refuse, they rob you?

All these philosophical thoughts sound good on paper, but when does "giving" become "enabling" and when does it put you in danger? This has actually happened to me, more than once. That is why I have begun to doubt this kind of philosophy. The "joy" in giving can be an co-dependent addiction, too, can't it?

What ever happened about equal "sharing?" Why so much focus on "giving until it hurts" and "give more?" I don't want to be a barefoot monk with a rough robe and a walking stick, sleeping under the bushes. I want to work WITH people and SHARE with people, and not have people TAKING ADVANTAGE of my or others generous natures, with all their own selfish desires.

WHAT ABOUT THAT? You can't just say "Give anyway, and karma will take it's course." All this giving has created a nation of dependents and beggars in too many parts of the world. Better to help people WORK and EARN what they need, and perhaps even *gasp* learn to use birth control, and share a little bit themselves?

 

When does GIVING HURT? If you don't believe me, look at what has happened in Africa in the last ten or twenty years. The Africans themselves are calling out for an end to patronizing "giving." If I didn't want anything, I wouldn't be on this earth to begin with. If I don't want anything, then I don't need anything and don't need to be alive.

Too many questions in the midst of this fascinating conversation, with apparently no though to consequences for the other side. Perhaps in the "old days" it was important to "give to the beggars" or the monks with their begging bowls. But I'm not sure that is still a modern succesful way to live, for anyone on either side.

I have wondered about this "no attachment" philosophy all my life.  Makes no sense to me, me who is a "generous" codependent giver all my life. I have to practice saying NO to others and once in a while YES to myself. Help!

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On Dec 16, 2010 Catherine Todd wrote:

"Give me that which enabled you to give it to me."

Wonderful. Just what I needed to hear. THANK YOU.



On Dec 16, 2010 Ram wrote:

Here's the story I shared last night ...

A Monk in his travels once found a precious stone and kept it.One day he met a traveler and when he opened his bag to share his provisions with him,the traveller saw the jewel and asked the monk to give it to him.The monk did so readily.The traveler departed overjoyed with the unexpected gift of the precious stone that was enough to give him wealth and security for the rest of his life.However ,a few days later he came back in search of the monk,found him ,gave him back the stone and entreated him,"Now give me something much more precious than this stone.Valuable as it is .Give me that which enabled you to give it to me."

This traveler knew for certain that the monk possessed something much more precious than this jewel.That is why he came back looking for the monk.It was the spirituality of the monk the traveler was asking for.



On Dec 16, 2010 Catherine Todd wrote:

Varsha, where is "the Free Farm?" Interesting post. Thanks.



On Dec 15, 2010 Varsha wrote:

@font-face { font-family: "Arial"; }@font-face { font-family: "Cambria"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }a:link, span.MsoHyperlink { color: blue; text-decoration: underline; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: purple; text-decoration: underline; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } Some links that came up from this week’s passage:   Cooperatives/co-ownership/co-housing http://www.shareable.net/blog/from-the-story-of-stuff-to-the-story-of-sharing-video-0   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons   I think of open source and public domain versus private property and imminent domain.    The public trust, the commons are of, by, and for the local people.  I see local municipal decentralized self-government and home/self-rule as parts of the equations to freedom. http://nobelprize.org/nob  See full.

Some links that came up from this week’s passage:

 

Cooperatives/co-ownership/co-housing

http://www.shareable.net/blog/from-the-story-of-stuff-to-the-story-of-sharing-video-0

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_commons

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

 

I think of open source and public domain versus private property and imminent domain. 

 

The public trust, the commons are of, by, and for the local people.  I see local municipal decentralized self-government and home/self-rule as parts of the equations to freedom.

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/2009/ostrom.html

 

http://www.celdf.org/article.php?id=536

http://www.celdf.org/section.php?id=42

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swadeshi_movement

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarvodaya

 

It seems like that is what non-governmental organizations and volunteer-based and community-led movements embody-- strong, decentralized development and reconstruction of society at the grassroots level (the bottom-up approach).

 

I feel honored and privileged to experience the ancient law of hospitality at the Mehta home on Wednesday evenings while I’ve been here.  I hope to exhibit the same hospitality when inviting friends and family over. 

 

This reading connected a lot to http://www.ijourney.org/index.php?tid=724 for me, as I feel Nature is both Right (correct) and Bright (intelligence) in showing these principles and concepts of sharing the abundance or wealth with everyone.  Also, ecology and the interrelationships and interdependence (food webs is an example) of life is apparent.  It reminded me of today at the Free Farm, where a man who did not seem to own much, came into the farm to check it out.  I think he connected to it later, and to some volunteers who listened to his story and shared with him about the place.  He was one of the last people to leave the farm!  : )  I think oases of nature in the midst of inner cities (AKA “concrete jungles”) are blessings to everyone, regardless of who they are.


"Hope is nature's way of enabling us to survive so that we can discover nature itself"

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On Dec 15, 2010 Rambo wrote:

This post is very interesting. I think part of the reason for my normal "hording" mentality is that I am trying in some way to further deepen my own status, existence or sense of completeness through feeling that the given item or person is mine and no one elses. I am identified with my thoughts and emotions, thinking that they and they alone define me. Sharing what I have with others requires me to let go of this identification, if even just a little, otherwise I won't really be sharing without expecting something back. It's only when I share without expecting return that I will actually get the feeling of joy that the post mentions.



On Dec 14, 2010 ganoba wrote:

The notion that I own this or that needs to be challenged. While we aree at it we might also challenge the notion of an "I"that is independent and separate from others.

When this challenging is done, not as an intellectual excercise but by way of observing the truth(reality) as it is, we would come to realise"aham bramhasmi", the individual and the universe are one and the same.

Most of our activities then come to nought. We can then live in peace and contentment.

Till then all the antics of being and becoming will go on.



On Dec 13, 2010 Catherine Todd wrote:

Beautiful thoughts for reflection. Thanks for posting!