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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

This is a challenging time, even for those of us who are privileged. If we still have a job and a place to live, no one in our family has sickened or died from covid, we’re able to teach our kids from home, the kids have the technology to learn from home, we can shelter at home, and fires or hurricanes or floods haven’t destroyed our home—it’s a challenging time. For those going through any of the above the world can quickly move into the realm of overwhelming, terrifying, or what can feel unendurably depressing.

When we add to that—for those of us in the U.S.—a country pulled apart by racism, violence, fear, and hatred stoked by inflammatory political rhetoric, it can all begin to feel hopeless.

I hear from people regularly that staying informed about what’s going on is more than they can stand. “It’s too upsetting. I just want it all to go away. I don’t want to know what’s happening.” And with that comes guilt. “But I’m fortunate. I’m not suffering horrific circumstances. How can I turn my back and ignore what those less fortunate are required to endure? I feel so helpless. I don’t know what to do. There’s nothing I can do…”

Ah, but there is. What we can “do” is to let all of this misery change us.

If you and I have ever talked, you know how often I talk about being “guided.” I say it that way because it’s far more comprehensible than what, in my experience, is really going on. It’s not actually a matter of That Which Animates (Divinity, the Higher Power, True Nature, Authenticity, Source, Spirit, God) guiding us; That is us.

When we learn to hear the “still, small voice” communicating “God’s will,” we realize that “communication” is not sporadic. Authenticity isn’t talking to us sometimes. In fact, Divinity isn’t ever talking to us. The communication is direct. True Nature is not “giving us guidance” in the form of words we can understand. Life unfolds. When we’re HERE we experience Life unfolding as what we call intuition or insight. Because it’s a matter of being, our understanding is immediate. No words are necessary, but we’re accustomed to words and thus that’s how we receive the information.

Lots of spiritual types are familiar with peak experiences or ah ha moments. The lights come on. There’s a flash of intuitive understanding. “Yes! I see.” Then we begin to babble about “what I just got.” Takes us a while in practice to get it that “I” didn’t “get” anything. Takes even longer for us to be able to breathe through the moments, let them go, and not allow ego/conditioned mind to make any of it mean anything.

All that to say That Which Is is us and is living us. What we hear incessantly in awareness practice—there is no “I,” there is no “me”—is the absolute, gospel truth. The ego is an illusion created and maintained, through an even more incessant conversation, in conditioned mind. As we turn attention away from that ego maintaining conversation of I, me, my, mine and turn attention to the present, to thisherenow, we realize the only thing missing HERE is ego suffering.

When we’re with Life, listening for and to Life’s “guidance,” we encounter some, what can seem odd or even inexplicable, “things.” In my experience all is revealed over time, and what hasn’t yet been revealed just hasn’t had sufficient time.

This happened for me when it “dropped in” to read To Kill a Mockingbird. Hmm. How interesting. The “I wonder why” that follows these kinds of intuitions no longer comes from a curiosity about the motivation of the Intelligence That Animates, but from a curiosity about what I’m going to receive from this gift.

I don’t have a lot of time to read, but I’ve found I do well with listening (mightily reinforced by my experience with Recording and Listening), and so I began to look for a recording of the book. The one I found is read by Sissy Spacek. Perfect. A wonderful Southern drawl to read a book about the deep South.

About halfway through the book I began to suspect this might be the greatest spiritual practice book ever written. By the time I finished that suspicion was confirmed! Here we are offered most if not all of what we struggle with as human beings: a lack of understanding, unexamined beliefs and assumptions, unowned projections, egos fighting for survival that are willing to do anything to prevail, and the innocence ignored and blamed for all the suffering.

Here’s my proposal: How about everyone who chooses to participate listens to the book (I highly recommend listening) with this assignment: See how you are every person in the story.

The world, society, how people are, and what people are capable of can seem overwhelming, frightening, depressing, and hopeless because those people are “other.” Not like me. Not like us. I don’t understand them and the insecurity terrifies me. As the new/old Chinese Zen story encourages us to consider, “maybe yes, maybe no.”

For those of us who want to play, we’ve scheduled a workshop for Oct. 4 to explore the wonderous gift of allowing the clarity of That Which Is to change us and in so doing free us a bit more from the suffering grip of egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate.

Watch for a notice of the workshop details.

Gasshō

ch

Cheri Huber has been a student and teacher of Zen for over 30 years. She is the author of 20 books, the newest being What You Practice Is What You Have, the sequel to her widely-read There Is Nothing Wrong With You. Other titles include The Depression Book, The Fear Book, and When You're Falling, Dive. In 1983, Cheri founded the Mountain View Zen Center, and in 1987 she founded the Zen Monastery Peace Center in Calaveras County. She and the monks at the Monastery conduct workshops and retreats at these centers, other places around the U.S., and internationally. In 1997, Cheri founded Living Compassion, a nonprofit organization dedicated to peace and service. She also has a weekly, Internet based call-in radio show, Open Air.

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