Culture and Tradition: Denying What Is

In so far as one denies what is, one is possessed by what is not, the compulsions, the fantasies, the terrors that flock to fill the void.

Ursula K. LeGuin

We could not be served up more glaring examples of denying what is and being possessed by what is not than we are right now in American culture.  A county license clerk in Kentucky has been sent to jail for contempt of court for denying both gay and straight couples to acquire their marriage licenses because she will not accept the Supreme Court’s ruling that marriage equality is protected by the U.S. Constitution.  Her insistence on ignoring the recent ruling has resulted in her compulsion to impose her religious views on those in her community.

For the first time in our history, white supremacist and white nationalist groups in the U.S. have endorsed a candidate for President because of his extreme views on immigrants in this country.  His inability to see and understand the complexities of what make up the immigrant populations in the U.S. (and even now what is occurring in Europe with Syrian refugees) has left him accruing a following of people with compulsions around being white, being superior and cleansing our nation of those who are not.

We have wisdom traditions that serve us if we will allow them, wisdom traditions which call on us to see what is, to be here now, to live in reality.  The Hebrew prophets consistently called for a justice that began with the least, the most vulnerable first, to ensure that the hungry, the dispossessed and the “aliens in your land” had safety and security. Jesus lived a “right here, right now” reality in being with the poor, touching the sick, and in general calling us to see the dignity of each person, even if they were racially different (The Good Samaritan) or socially “inferior” (the women he healed, associated with and who followed him in his day when doing so would have been outrageous).  The Buddha’s entire teaching, in many respects, is one focused on being in the present moment and within that present moment treating all beings, including oneself, with compassion.

Today, a strong spiritual practice for us can be simply this:  pause to see what is, to hear what is, to feel what is, to taste what is, to smell what is.  Allow each to be.  Honor them. And then, let us take our actions, make our decisions, form our thoughts based on what is.

Bob Patrick

Be completely empty.

Be perfectly serene.

The ten thousand things arise together;in their arising is their return.

Now they flower,

and flowering

sink homeward,

returning to the root.

The return to the root

is peace.

Peace: to accept what must be,

to know what endures.

In that knowledge is wisdom.

Without it, ruin, disorder.

To know what endures

is to be openhearted,

magnanimous,

regal,

blessed,

following the Tao,

the way that endures forever.

The body comes to its ending,

but there is nothing to fear.*

*The Tao Te Ching, # 16, translated from Lao Tzu by Ursula K. LeGuin

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