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Writings by Rev. Stephanie Rutt
I Said to God, "I want to do something beautiful for You."
And God Answered...
Just do your part.
Be a seed planter. Do not fool yourself in thinking you create the tree. God alone creates the tree.
And remember, it may not even come to full fruition in your lifetime.
Be clear of your intention.
Put out a clear signal. It is only then that it may be used to serve the greatest good.
Seek to live with equanimity and balance.
It is only in such moments that you are truly yourSelf and I may shine through.
In moments of despair, try to keep an inner smile.
Sit humbly at the feet of your life and be taught.
Become the alchemist and blossom because of - not in spite of.
Discern My Illusion.
Complete love sees not just My beauty but also discerns the illusion of My absence in ignorance, hatred and evil.
Transform them within yourself and you can transform them without.
Make Me visible in the world.
You have been given a body-mind through which to make Me visible in the world.
Care for the body and harness the mind and you'll dance in the joy of My spirit.
Live in the mystery.
Remember you only have the vantage point and wisdom of this lifetime.
Dont waste time trying to figure out the big picture or the 'why' of things.
Instead, just respond by doing something beautiful for Me.
Following is an excerpt from An Ordinary Life Transformed Lessons for Everyone from the Bhagavad Gita, published in 2006 by Stephanie Rutt, available locally at Toadstool Bookshops, Barnes and Noble Booksellers and at the Tree of Life Interfaith Fellowship. Also, available from Hobblebush Books and Amazon.
Why Study the Bhagavad Gita?
From Sorrow to Joy
Bhagavad Gita means Song of God. Its purpose is to bring about an end to sorrow through the realization that we are That which we seek. All of us seek peace, happiness and joy, but within ourselves is not usually the first place we look. Instead, we look outside ourselves, searching from place to place, experience to experience, teacher to teacher for That which we already are. It never occurs to us that what we're looking for is literally as close as our breath that we already have all we need to be content in any circumstance.
In our desperate search, we overlook the place of true joy — our inner sanctuary, where joy resides, not in response to a particular set of circumstances, but simply as a humble response to continued self-acceptance. Here, all is received. Here, the quiet truth whispering softly from the center of our being can be heard. Here, joy is immune to the changing tides of outward circumstance. By turning inward to embrace all, we find what we have so desperately been seeking. It's called freedom.
But, we are not aware. So, we search.
And, then, something happens. Maybe it's an event that unceremoniously catapults us out of our comfortable existence. An unexpected diagnosis, accident, loss of a job, divorce, death of a loved one. Or maybe it's just waking up from a long period of sleepy boredom that shouts, something's got to change! Like Arjuna, we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, unable or just simply unwilling to meet the challenges ahead. Our rudder is broken and night is falling fast. Desperately, we may continue searching for someone or something outside ourselves to save us. But, this time, nothing satisfies.
It's a critical juncture. We can continue the old ways of coping or we can choose a less familiar route called surrender. At first, this surrender route does not appear to be such an attractive option. We fear the loss of control. But this time, as skeptical as we are of the surrender route, we are even more reluctant to repeat the same old patterns. And, so it is with Arjuna. His rationalizations for not rising up to do his duty aren't working. His familiar ways of thinking aren't providing escape from his self-imposed bondage. Overwhelmed and desperate, he chooses surrender and cries out to his Lord for guidance.
And, where he thought he would lose himself, he finds himSelf.
But, the old ways are not so easily shed. Again and again, Arjuna, and we too, must choose. Over time, we start to trust this new route called surrender, for a joy comes that passes all our old understanding. Slowly, we start to trust the Potter within. We begin to suspect that each experience is just a stroke of the Potter's hand molding us for a higher purpose. We begin to see that surrender makes us free.
And, more and more, we start to fall in love. Not with what used to make us happy or even with what we think will make us happy — but with the Potter Himself, for nothing will satisfy now short of the Potter Himself. Loneliness and our sense of separateness fade. We start to see with new eyes as the Potter reveals His face — the face of God — everywhere.
There is God bagging our groceries, cashing our check, finding the right size shirt, bringing our food. We start to notice that it doesn't matter what mood folks are in, what they have or haven't done, what they believe or don't believe. All we see is God. And when we hear an ambulance or fire engines or learn about "collateral damage" on the news, our heart aches for the one whose name we don't even know. Because now no one is outside the bounds of our love. No one.
Now, we love our neighbor as our self.
And, like water to parched lips, this is the only joy that matters. It is all that can truly sustain us through the changing seasons of our life. It is our compass when the storm hits, the rudder breaks and darkness falls. It is what is left when we fear all is lost. It is what brings us to our prayer mat. It is what looks at the enemy and sees our self. It is what can raise the sword of courage to combat hatred without hating. It is what can love the saint and sinner the same.
This joy sees what's the same in all of us.
And having seen, knows.
And knowing, is never the same.
Following is an excerpt from Living the Prayer of Jesus: A Study of the Lord's Prayer in Aramaic, published in 2012 by Tree of Life Publishing, available at Amazon.
Our Father which art in heaven,
In response to Lord, teach us to pray... Jesus' first words were Abwoon d'bwashmaya. Let's look at this phrase through the lens of Aramaic.
...First of all, the opening sound of the prayer, A of Abwoon, is pronounced ahhhh. This primal sound is often uttered when there are no words. It is quite interesting to me that, as you will see later, the Lord's Prayer begins with this sound, completes the first half of the prayer with this sound, and ends with this same ahhhh sound. It makes a circle in both sound and meaning.
How wonderful that by responding Abwoon d'bwashmaya, Jesus let the disciples know that God was as close as their breath and could be as intimate for them as an earthly father might be. It would seem that Jesus was pointing the disciples inward encouraging them to cultivate their own intimate connection with the Creator through breath. As Sikh Yogi Bhajan said, "The breath is the kiss of God." How do we know we are born? We breathe. How do we know we have passed over? We stop breathing. In the meantime, we could say that we are most intimately connected with our Creator through our breath.
I would take this a step further. It is a common belief that we breath. I would say, instead, that we are breathed and that awareness of our breath invites us into the most intimate and reciprocal relationship with our Creator. In fact, one cannot say ahhhh without the full exhale born of an inhale. Jesus wanted the disciples to have a visceral experience of the One to whom they belonged. He wanted them to experience being breathed.
And with breath there is life and we are born in the image and likeness of our Father. How fitting that Jesus would make what could be quite an unapproachable, esoteric, notion of the Creator into one that was as familiar and intimate as an earthly father. Are we not also born in the image and likeness of our earthly father and mother? Do we need to ask to be connected to them? No. It is our birthright.
Finally, the notion Neil Douglas-Klotz offers of the continued process of giving birth by way of the breath reminds me of the 13th century Christian mystic Meister Ekhart's saying, "We are all mothers of God."
Kabir said, "All know that the drop merges into the ocean but few know that the ocean merges into the drop." How wonderful to know that, with full awareness of our breath, we can remember, reconnect, with the Oneness that has breathed us into life. And, in such moments, we intimately experience our unity with all beyond our unique, individual expression. We begin to recognize that, as flowers of the field, while different we are each brought forth by the same source. And, moments of such remembering bring a kind of opening that heals us on many levels inviting rebirth.
Jesus pointed to this in his daily contact with others. Let's look at some examples:
Mark 7:32-35: Jesus heals a deaf and dumb man saying Eth-phatah (7:34) meaning Be opened.
John 3:5: Jesus tells Nicodemus that, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I say unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Much like it is the awareness of breath that reconnects us to our unity with all creation, it is the deeper and deeper opening to this breath of life that heals us. And, perhaps to be born again means that, in each and every moment with each breath, we are, blessedly, born again both in the flesh and in the Spirit. And, in such moments of remembrance, we experience living and breathing, being, heaven on earth.
In answering the request, Lord, teach us to pray, Jesus answered Abwoon d'bwashmaya, Our Father which art in heaven, inviting them into a remembrance of God is here...as close as your breath...tune inward and simply remember...there is nothing to 'do'. Being your Creator's breath is your birthright. Be still and know that you are intimately connected with your Father. You are already home, right here, right now, in your Father's heavenly creation.
Following is an excerpt from Doorway to the Sacred: Transform Your Life with Mantra Prayer, published in 2014 by Tree of Life Publishing, available at Amazon.
Sing the song of celestial love, O singer!
May the divine fountain of eternal grace and joy
enter the soul.
May Brahman, the Divine One, pluck the strings of your inner soul
with his celestial fingers,
and feel his own presence within.
Bless us with a divine voice
that we may tune the harp strings of our life
to sing songs of Love to you.
Basic Guidelines for Creating with Mantra Prayer
You and I and everything in the universe are part
of the infinite flow of the divine love.
When we see this,
we acknowledge that this same benevolence binds together all creation.
When we harmonize with life,
we come into accord with the divine love flowing through all.
As we have discussed, manifesting, or creating, is not a choice. It is the nature of consciousness in this field of awareness in which we live. Does a rose have a choice not to become a rose? Does a puppy have the choice not to grow into a dog? Do we have a choice not to create new cells in our bodies each moment? I think not. And our emotional, mental and spiritual bodies are in constant evolution as well. Yet, through the practice of Mantra Prayer, we are able to exercise more influence on the evolution of our experience than do our plant and animal cousins. In each present moment, we are experiencing the effects of our previous thoughts, feelings and actions and, based on how we are with our present experience, are foretelling our future. So, it makes sense that we should get about the business of becoming as conscious as possible in each present moment and to continue to re-train and re-tune the mind to support our soul's journey in the most helpful way. One important way we can do this is to own and honor our experience as much as possible and, through daily Mantra Prayer practice, extract the deeper spiritual lessons and gifts inherent in all experience.
my everyday God.
who tirelessly beat my heart...
who endlessly breathe me...
You have drawn me into your Love with the sweetness of your gaze
You have guided me on the path of my fears with the firm hold of your hand
yes I am yours...
Before only a glimpse of you... just a taste...
Today all the shutters are flung open and the breeze of your kiss awakens me and I have danced into a stillness only imagined...
You are my love you are my love you are my love
As I lift my eyes out to the world I ache with wonder...
How will I love enough, serve enough, listen enough, forgive enough...
I pray to stay awake to each burst of laughter peering out from behind all things
for I too am emerging glad with every stroke of your hand...
sculpted free in your image... molded firm by your law
Humbly... humbly I am rising... strong... in full bloom
under the rays of your fire...
Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia
Rev. Stephanie Rutt, written in 2004