Being Sacred

If you want to be filled up and cleared out by the power and beauty of orange-ness, I highly recommend a trip to the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve. I had never seen such a dense carpet of flowers.

My mom and I visited last weekend along with thousands of people wending their way along the paths. “They’ve all come to receive a blessing, whether they know it or not,” Mom said. The wind was whipping the poppies about, and I thought, perhaps they’re prayer flags. Maybe each petal sends a message to the Divine every time it flutters back and forth.

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A few days later an interior knowing arrived: we are not here to improve—not ourselves, not the world. Along with this thought came a feeling of a layer lifting and beneath it a joyful thrumming of life was released.

The Tao Te Ching says, “The universe is sacred./ You cannot improve it.”

How can this be given climate change, racism, poverty? What are we to make of the reality that some people appear to live into their full potential and others are destroyed by life? Don’t we need to work toward changing these conditions?

Of course we do, and yet some years the hills are blanketed with poppies, and some years the rain doesn’t fall. Some days everything we touch turns to gold, and some days it all ends up in the trash can. “Sometimes breathing is hard, sometimes it comes easily.”

Far more important than improvement is to allow ourselves to be the blessing that we are, to allow the wind to blow through us and spread our beauty and love to those around us. We can live in that joyful thrumming on the easy days and the hard.

This sacred universe is evolving. We participate in that process, but we don’t make it happen. We are the doors through which evolution passes, but we don’t initiate the transformation. “If you try to change [the universe], you will ruin it.”

5 thoughts on “Being Sacred

  1. How marvelous to come into your joyous thrumming! Yes indeed. And great insight into Lao Tsu. I still have that one, that you wrote out for me a long while ago, hung on my fridge with a Rocky Mountain Storytellers’ magnet. : ) Now I understand it better. Thank you. Love.

  2. As Merton has written, the little flowers are saints, looking up into the face of God. So you’re sense that they’re fluttering their petals in God’s face has precedent.
    As to the issue of how we should confront climate change, racism, poverty, etc., a friend of mine has suggested two simple guidelines – maintain interior calm, and pursue right action. For me, her simple response to the troubles of our world hits the right note, offering these two valuable principles to keep in focus. Consider the alternatives and how counterproductive they would be: allow your inner state to be overrun by anxiety, frustration and cynicism; then act out accordingly.
    I also find it helpful to try to see these global woes according to the Buddhist diagnosis of suffering and its roots, namely, greed (as well as security concerns), hatred (as well as fear, aggression, anger), and ignorance. Doing so enables me to see the origins or roots of “evil” in a way that sheds light on possible remedies.
    Your blog also reminds me of a passage that Miguel read from one of Henry Miller’s books. He was traveling on a ferry in the Greek Isles and described both the beauty of the passage as well as the toil of some of the people he encountered. The coincidence of suffering and beauty is a paradox, but it is not as though one cancels out the other. They coexist and the reality of each is not diminished by the other.

    Finally, I come back to what for me is the central theme of Panikkar – that God resides and manifests in our subjective awareness, and that somehow this offers the key to entering into transcendence.

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