The true challenge of spiritual practice

We are spiritual. To grow our spiritual life, we need to practice spiritual disciplines. In his book, “The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down”, Haemin Sunim points out that

“Spirituality must be practiced not just in solitude but also among people. Open up to people around you and feel connected. This is the true challenge of spiritual practice. “

When we are in solitude, we open our hearts to ourselves. We listen to our own voice and the voice of the Spirit. We open up to people around us, we listen to each other’s voices. Then, we will discover that we are actually connected to the same voice of the Spirit. The discovery of our deep connection is one of the main goals of our spiritual practices.

The challenge is that we do not want to have that level of connection with both the Spirit and each other. We do not want to follow the voice of the Spirit. We hate and fear facing our true selves. Therefore, we do not want others to know our true selves that we do not like.

In the end, the challenge is to embrace and love who we truly are. The beginning of our transformation is to know that we are the beloved ones. In love, we have no fear of opening up to people around us.

Is this challenging for you to believe that you are the beloved one?

Normal Enjoyment or Addiction?

As a priest/pastor, I need and hope to help people to conquer their addictions, for example, alcohol. At first, we need to distinguish what might be considered normal use of alcohol, for example, from dependent or addictive use of alcohol (and a variety of other substances and “things”).

In his book, “Addiction and Pastoral Care”, Nicholas Roberts quotes different experts’ definitions of addiction, addiction “is a syndrome in which a reward seeking behaviour has become out of control” and “an excessive desire for the consumption of a variety of drugs and difficulties in giving up their use…”

According to these definitions, I do not think my normal enjoyment of coffee should not be considered an addiction. At least, I can have my days without coffee, but what about my cell phone? Are there any harms if I have been addicted to the cell phone?

The way to look at the outside world

Haemin Sunim is one of the most influential Zen Buddhist teachers and writers in South Korea. His writing in his book “The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down” on the way to look at outside the world has been inspiring me and I love to share a few pieces with you:

“…When we look at the outside world, we are looking at only a small part that interests us. The world we see is not the entire universe but a limited one that the mind cares about. However, to our minds, that small world is the entire universe…What our mind focuses on becomes our world…If we look at the world through the lens of our mind, the way my friend did, we will readily notice what we are looking for, because our mind will focus on it. Given that the world we see through our mind’s eye is limited, if we can train our mind and choose wisely where to focus, then we will be able to experience the world corresponding to the state of our mind…When your mind is joyful and compassionate, the world is, too. When your mind is filled with negative thoughts, the world appears negative, too. When you feel overwhelmed and busy, remember that you are not powerless. When your mind rests, the world also rests”.

The way to be/become joyful and compassionate is to look inward. My heart fills with joy and compassion because of the love of God. Then I can look at and treat the world (and people) with joy, love, and compassion.

Pray this prayer as His children

A book called “Children’s book of Classic Catholic Prayers” edited by Robert F. Morneau includes the following prayer called “Act Of Love”:

“My God, I love you above all things because you are all good. I love you as the creator of life, I love you as the one who has forgiven our sins and opened the gates of heaven. I love you as the Spirit whom you have sent among us to guide us in this world. Because of my love for you, I love my neighbor as myself. Amen.”

We are children of God, therefore, this prayer is also for us. Pray this prayer and grow daily in faith, hope, and love.

Hands

A talented Chinese Canadian poet, Kavan Yao wrote a poem called “hands” (from his bilingual book called “China Feeling” translated by his mom, Dr. Hongyun Chen) bringing me back to when I started to have a crush on my wife many years ago:

“I wish I could speak with my hands and let you touch this life I have wrapped in my feeling. Meaning, always, seems a struggle; all my sincerity gets lost in those centimeters between my mind and my tongue. Somewhere in all the heartache of language living between this misery and the next – there was someone I wanted, and to her, there was so much I would have said. When I look at my hands, shy and upspeaking, and I think about all the people who I never reach and have forgotten: I worry that one day after all these words my mouth could not create I might forget her as well.”

I do not know what happened to Kavan later, but I took the courage to tell her about my feeling & love for her.

My friends, do not wait for the touch of your life wrapped in your feeling. But speak and invite, let your feeling touch your lover’s life!