The Affordable Good Samaritan Act
Once upon a very strange circular movement of time, a rabble-rouser from Nazareth was invited to defend the Affordable Good Samaritan Law before the Supreme Court of the United States -- in the year 2012. Being at least somewhat unfazed by these occasional circular movements, the rabble-rouser ran his fingers through his hair and beard to better present himself to the Court, gave one last thought to the added strangeness of walking past a crowd of christians angered by the prospect of 30 million or so poor folks getting affordable health care... but now the rabble-rouser needed to focus: what to say?
All eyes turned to him as he rose to speak -- not a few faces were shocked that one with his ragged appearance should be addressing the Court. He began, "Esteemed Judges, I have but a few words to say... I remember suggesting to my friends a long time ago that to truly and deeply live, one must follow the pathway of love -- especially an active, compassionate, love for the stranger, the different, and the 'other'... a few got it then, and a few still get it today... the story I told them would perhaps still be helpful today, although I will tell it just a bit differently:
"There was a homeless woman who had fallen on very difficult times. She had lost everything. Her home had been foreclosed. Her medical bills had taken everything else -- still she was glad to be alive. Then she was beaten and raped and left abandoned in some strange town. Falling asleep on a bench, she breathed a prayer to a "God" she no longer had any faith in. Then she slept.
"It happened then that three candidates for President of the United States arrived together to enter a large hall for a political debate. Now normally, the streets and sidewalks were cleared of both trash and the "down-and-out" so they could happily argue about great issues without burdensome reminders of reality. But with news crews and cameras watching they came to a stop in front of the bench holding the sleeping, homeless, woman. The first one suggested that they all cross to the other side of the street -- so she'd have more room to breathe. Another said, "Between her sins and the policies of the food stamp president, our doing nothing will provide the American people with a powerful visual aid of all the failures of Western Civilization without a strong Christian foundation... so let's move on." The third one said, "If we stop to help her, the government might make us buy broccoli for everyone -- none of us would any longer be free, and oil and gas subsidies might be in danger... hence, I'm also in favor of moving on."
"Then, as the candidates and cameras moved on, a young African-American man -- carrying a Qur'an -- came up to the woman. He had just read the part about the Prophet Jesus and thought that he'd follow his example. He lifted the woman and gently carried her to the hospital that was just a few blocks away. The hospital staff graciously received the woman, thanked the young man, and began to care for her. The young man asked if there was anything else that he needed to do. The staff again thanked him and said no -- but that he could come back to visit her... and lastly, they said, "Thanks to the new Affordable Good Samaritan Act, this woman will receive the very best health care available -- at least as good as the care a Supreme Court Justice would receive."
With that, the rabble-rouser was caught up in another circular movement of time, and simply disappeared from the court. Seemingly perplexed, one of the justices turned to another and asked, "What was that about broccoli?"
According to the Children's Defense Fund:
In 2008, 2947 children and teens died from guns in the United States and, 2,793 died in 2009 for a total of 5,740 -- one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 55 every week for two years. Six times as many children and teens --
34,387 -- suffered nonfatal gun injuries as gun deaths in 2008 and 2009. This is equal to one child or teen every 31 minutes, 47 every day, and 331 children and teens every week... 116,385 children and teens have been killed by a gun since 1979 (when gun data was first collected)...
Today, 16.4 million children in the United States live in poverty. Nearly one in four children under the age of five is poor...
All I can say is, THANK GOD we're such a Christian nation -- just imagine how our war on our own children would be going if we were anything else!
There is Only One. Love Every One. Feed Every One.
Towards a New Humanity
You --- you --- you: human, you are a sacred being! You, each and every one of you, are a manifestation of the Divine! Through and through: through flesh, blood, and bone... through mind, heart, and soul... all the way through into the very Holy Secret of You: You are the very Life and One Love of the Holy One. This core truth is not contingent upon what you think, still less is it dependent upon how anyone might tell you to think! Before thought, you were... after thought, you will become, even more, You!
If you shed as much as you can of how / what someone else has thought for you... if you can summon the courage to strip down to your essential nature of being: there in that deep pure silence, your heart can intuit the truth of these words... also there in that place of secret knowing, you can discover the unity of consciousness, of harmony, and of wholeness, a way to experience the principles of universal mysticism and sacred action... you can choose to return to that place as you will, and also how to create in the day-to-day, the paradise adventure that is possible for everyone on this precious blue Planet...
You! You can choose to assist in the sacred actions that will give birth to a new humanity, to a new Planetary culture of kindness, liberation, beauty, and well-being for all... The truth of our human possibilities is alive in each one of us -- that truth is woven into our very DNA -- and it has been just waiting for this moment in time to begin its manifestation... this dream of Oneness in Paradise for every part and particle of creation existed before the Beginning... this Mystery Play of the Holy One lives within us and is seeking its release upon the Universe!
You! How are you going to respond? What limits are you imposing upon your imagination and your desire to love?
There is Only One. Love Everyone. Feed Everyone.
The World As I See It
"Don't get a house in the neighborhood of despair. There is hope. Don't go off into the darkness. There is light." -- Rumi
"Life is paradise." -- Dostoevsky
There is hope! The Holy Secret is that YOU are the key to unlock the door into the future that will make Paradise upon this precious blue Planet. Will YOU choose to summon your will to manifest the transformation that is possible? Will YOU commit YOUR life to this transformation? I believe that YOU will!
So I am filled with hope!
Even as "polls" indicate that someone living in their "small mind" may be elected President of the United States; even as climate change compels little interest and less action in the United States; even as the United States excels in consumption with little regard for future generations; even as the United States sells war and makes war endlessly; even as the dominator paradigm continues to oppress women; even as racism and nationalism continue as policy guidelines in the United States; even as the United States surrenders to the worship of money... even as ALL OF THIS APPEARS TO HAVE THE UPPER HAND...
YOU will succeed and the United States will become a Planetary Agent of a Paradise Transformation!
Whew! What a view!
"There is Only One. Love Every One. Feed Every One."
Light on the Path
(Remember to begin with the Opening Meditation and the recitation of the Three Jewels as in Mindfulness Trainings One through Five -- scroll down in the burninghand blog for this.)
"In the Name of the Holy One, Boundlessly Compassionate, Boundlessly Merciful... Beauty within Beauty within Beauty..."
The Fourteenth Mindfulness Training:
Aware that all relationships motivated by craving or power corrupts and destroys harmony, we are determined to strive for motivational transparency and live in personal relationships with commitment, honesty, and integrity.
We do not understand that life is paradise, for it suffices only to wish to understand it, and at once paradise will appear in front of us in all its beauty. -- Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Now, imagine paradise: a world of peace, equality, and justice. Imagine a city in which the marginalized are brought in from the edges into the heart of a recreated community. Imagine each of our individual lives focused on the daily practice of beauty. What would all of this look like? Imagine: there is no news on the internet, in the newspapers, or on the TV about suicide bombers or terrorists anywhere! They have all been transformed into radical possibilitarians who jump out and surprise us with street theatre and random acts of art and compassion. Imagine: multinational corporations divesting and investing in local cooperatives, family farms, indigenous cultures, and technologies with a "human face". Imagine: religious leaders hightailing it out of their power centers and earning their living among the people and teaching peace by being peacemakers on the streets. Imagine: every political operative and propagandist everywhere suddenly changed into animators of the common good. Imagine: the grand human purpose of creating paradise on earth, with peace and justice for all, inspiring, motivating, and guiding all the days of our lives. So, is your sacred imagination going to make you live with all of your passionate possibilities fully engaged?
We must apply our humble efforts to the construction of a more just and humane world. And I want to declare emphatically: such a world is possible. --Adolfo Perez Esquivel
A Simple Story
Imagine a Soup Kitchen, a Day Shelter, and the daily gathering of addicts and dealers, the dispossessed and abandoned, a motley crew of volunteers, a few Catholic Workers, on the streets of Chinatown... could be just about Anywhere, U.S.A. But it's not anywhere, it's John Steinbeck's East of Eden, his Grapes of Wrath and Sweet Thursday and Pastures of Heaven all rolled into one in Salinas... still... onto this scene, into this group, there's hope of a dozen or so of folks waiting / wanting to "Come Home"... there's a Hawaiian kicking bad attitudes and a long hard story, a Philadelphia lonely heart, a couple of drag queens, a few lost souls scrounging around for some dignity, moms who've lost kids, a few other men with resentment and anger up the wazoo... well, you get the picture... now, add to that mix, some children and community volunteers all leaving Chinatown together for a retreat in the Santa Cruz redwoods at the Quaker Center... ah, it should all have been filmed...
It is a misnomer, though, to write of this as a retreat when it was an advance through and through... fifty miles after leaving town, ump-teen foul words, plus a few threats and bad jokes later, we arrived... rooms are assigned, instructions given... and the weekend began... Imagination did Herself real good that weekend: you know when Imagination has hit a home run when everyone comes to believe the "impossible" is an exciting opportunity to work some magic... just roll up the sleeves of your heart and set to work. Walks, talks, music, yoga, art, eating, relaxing, and dreaming together... from "homeless" to "welcome home"... list all the possibilities and all the fears and all the histories of smashing defeat... in each other's hearts we discover our secret identities and the truth of "no difference" and "Only One" and into "One Love"... meditation: and re-birth into miracle... as is our wont, we massaged a meditation into a "Being Home Exercise"...
We are gathered in our circle, and we begin, each person within her / his own heart: "May I be happy, May I be safe, May I be healthy, May I be wanted", following the words deep inside... and next, turning to the person on one's left, "Tony", "May you be happy, May you be safe, May you be healthy, May you be wanted"... and then, again, back inside each one, focusing on an "opponent" or "enemy" (I call this part the "Dick Exercise" after Dick Cheney, of course)..."May Dick or whomever be happy, May... be safe, May...be healthy, May...be wanted... Finally, together again, we bless everyone and this entire precious blue Planet, "May all be happy, May all be safe, May all be healthy, May all be wanted"...
We hope that this simple story will stay with you -- but especially we hope that this "Being Home Exercise" is something that you will practice, share, and teach in every circle to which you belong. This exercise, more than anything else, gave birth to the House of Peace and to the beauty and grace that Michelle and I had the great blessing of being part of... and if there is one over-arching theme of these "Light on the Path" reflections, for us it is "Welcome Home" -- whatever your grief, your pain, your life experience has been, "welcome home"... whatever you dream of, hunger for, your life's work has been, "welcome home"... all of our human stories are scripture, sacred scripture, and we bring them all with us, from our acres and acres of desolation and hopelessness, into the deep green goodness of our "welcome home" into the paradise of "ah, the puzzle pieces do fit!"
If you've given any time at all to exploring this website, you should have discovered by now at least some food for thought -- if not enough food to last for the journey... but we all do get out of "alignment" on occasion... so here's an Alignment Message you can use as often as needed: "There is a Source, a Consciousness, a 'Beloved Being' who manifests all that is. I am from that very same Source. I exist within It, as it exists within me. I am perfect, beautiful, and holy now, as the Source is Perfect, Beautiful, and Holy. I have never been, nor will I ever be separate from my true Self which is always one with the Source. I am choosing to abandon forgetfulness and to remember this essential truth today -- as it is for me, so this is also true for everyone. I will construct my life to serve every Other with justice and compassion." Throughout the course of our days, we affirm: I am special! I am peaceful and powerful. I am experiecing gratitude today. I am good. I am beautiful! I am kind and a giver to others. I am creative, I can imagine greatness. I am cheerful, I smile often. I will practice the best in me and in others. I am expecting a miracle today, as I will be a miracle for someone else. I am calm and relaxed. I am strong and capable. I am expanding into all of my possibilities! I believe in my purpose in life.
That which is true for "me" -- is also true for absolutely everyone else! Every "other" is another manifestation of the Holy One: every LGBT, every "illegal immigrant", every minority, every person "of color", every child, every woman, everyone on the margins, is divinity incarnate! Every institution must be transformed to serve justice. Every institution is legitimate only to the degree that it serves the full development and liberation of every person. Every person lives under the obligation to work -- to struggle as needed -- to transform their home-life, their work-place, their organization, their neighborhoods, communities, and cities, their faith communities, their social clubs, their educational institutions, their cultural associations, their economic institutions, and their political institutions in accordance with justice, equality, kindness, compassion, equal opportunity, and equal access to the forums and means of power. This is true faith and genuine religion! This is the love-in-action that thrills the Sacred Heart of the Holy One! This love is the turn-key to direct personal mystical experience. This love opens the door to a radical interior transformation into identification with the Holy One -- until there is Only One, One Love! This love is the meaning of life! Live! Live! Live fully alive!
"To fall in love with Love: this is the meaning and mysticism of life... to surrender to the Holy One, to live for the 'other', to become empty in a genuine spirit of service and compassion. This 'Garden of the Heart' is, simply, a gift. But, like any falling, falling in love with Love hurts. This terrible, yet sweet, anguish will break the heart wide open... until even its pain is transfigured into love and all love is returned to the Source... and only Love remains... and only Love IS." -- from The Ragged-Man's Gospel
An Alternative Fourteenth Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the graciousness of the sun and of this precious blue Planet and of Her great and abundant life, I will live in gratitude and with enthusiasm for the opportunity to love, to love so profoundly that I just might become Love myself. I will honor those on the journey of life with me by my steady practice of kindness and remembrance. I will strive to Kiss More and Laugh Often!
To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wildflower. Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and etenity in an hour. -- William Blake
I have something to prove, as long as I know there's something that needs improvement, and you know that every time I move, I make a women's movement. -- Ani DiFranco
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift up my lamp beside the golden door. -- Emma Lazarus, Poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty
We have been created by Love, for Love, to become Love. -- Simone Weil
Sometime in your life, hope that you might see one starved man, the look on his face when the bread finally arrives. Hope that you might have baked it or bought it or even kneaded it yourself. For that look on his face, for your meeting his eyes across a piece of bread, you might be willing to lose a lot, or suffer a lot, or die a little, even. -- Daniel Berrigan
Question of the Week:
What is the "bread" of my life... how am I feeding a world dying for love -- for both bread and roses?
Practice for the Coming Weeks:
Consider contacting us with your thoughts on this series! Our intention is to dedicate a page on this website to an on-going conversation on mysticism and activism -- "Light on the Path". A lot of ground was covered in this series -- just as there was a lot of ground we couldn't approach for lack of time and space... what insights might you consider sharing?
The Secret History of the American Empire, John Perkins
Traveling the Path of Love, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
The Spiritual Wisdom of Hafez, Haleh Pourafzal and Roger Montgomery
With Love and Blessings,
Michelle and Robert
"In the Name of the Holy One, Boundlessly Compassionate, Boundlessly Merciful... Beauty within Beauty within Beauty..."
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.