By Diane Donovan-Vaughn (Sermon-04/01/2017)

Today, April 1, 2017, we have a comet appearing by the Big Dipper. You can view it around 9:00 tonight with binoculars or small telescope. I would suggest that if you decide to look and the clouds decide to let us look, to remember to quiet your mind. Allow the light and meaning of the comet to speak to you. Just listen. Practice allowing the energy of the comet to be what it is, rather than placing forth your meaning upon it.

Today, let’s look at the ego and its filters again. Shifting your perceptional awareness to a new point can feel like moving a mountain. The ego will fight the shift and impose its reality upon whatever you encounter. Mindfulness suggests to us that we can practice being still, allowing a moment to be a moment after moment. However, the practice is challenged by the ongoing litany of the mind and ego forever in need of creating our focus and then telling us the meaning of the object of that focus. The mind thinks its focus is so important that it excludes the world.

It can be helpful to pretend that you have just arrived on earth and that you know nothing moment-by-moment, conversation-by-conversation. How would you know where to focus? Why does your mind focus where it does? It could be helpful to question who, what, where, when and how you focus and to stop that focus of your attention. If you would like to experience the wonder of life, then stop to become a part of the life you would label and bypass so effortlessly.

Once you stop the ego from placing forth an opinion, or ignoring your surroundings, then you are ready to listen to the energy that is speaking to you.

For example, we have an enormous antisocial appearing Algae Eater in an aquarium. His name is Al G. For some time his filter has been sluggish and the tank a bit cloudy. I ordered a new filtering system from Amazon, installed it and then listened. Al waved his whole bottom half at me. Perhaps it could have been a fluke, I thought. Last night before writing this sermon, I looked at his back fin and wondered if he was OK. As I asked if he was all right, the so-called antisocial algae eater, came out from behind the rock where he customarily hides from us and showed me his entire magnificent self. Bryan, said, “He appears to be happy about his new filter.” I would agree.

How can you hear a fish talking if you cannot listen, if you always say this is simply an antisocial fish with no ability to communicate with you? Changing your perceptional reality to hear Al can feel virtually impossible for many. And yet, when you finally hear him, you could cry it is so beautiful.

When years ago I was worried about my cocker spaniel, Lady because she was so terribly depressed appearing when I would return from a trip, I mentioned her depressed state to Cattel, the psychic. She told me to simply tell Lady that I would be back every time I left. This simple sentence was all it took to remedy her problem. And yes, I believe Lady reincarnated to be Abby and that Abby will return. “I am coming back.”

More than once, animals have come to therapy and simply talking to them works in most cases much faster than with humans, which is why I am using them as an example. It might be easier to suspend your beliefs and listen to a rock or a cat before you could relax and allow yourself to really listen to another human.

One of the biggest blocks to hearing a human is that the ego’s perceptual beliefs are projected onto the speaker as they are speaking. The judgment is so fast it is almost unnoticeable. When I started the practice of being silent during the individual shares at The Art of Spiritual Peacemaking it was to give the opportunity for the listener to listen, to observe their mind judging rather than listening, to give the speaker the safety to speak and finally and most importantly to send love from your heart to the speaker. Suspending thought, focusing on the light and listening you will find the ears to hear.

Turn your awareness onto the world around you. Stop the categorization of your perceptual awareness and be still. Allow yourself to receive the message from the fish in the tank, the rock, the table, the sun, the moon, the stars, the green comet as it streaks across the sky. Surrender and become everything.

The selection for today from The Buddha is Still Teaching (Selected and Edited by Jack Kornfield) is titled “The Great Turning” taken from “The Great Turning: Reflections on Our Moment in History” and World as Lover, World as Self by Joanna Macy.

Macy said, “Imagine that future generations will look back on these closing years of the twentieth century and call it the time of the Great Turning. It is the epochal shift from an industrial growth society, dependent on accelerating consumption of resources, to a sustainable or life-sustaining society.

“Scientists . . . see more quickly than the politicians that there is no technological fix. No magic bullet, not even the Internet, can save us from population explosion, deforestation, continuing racism and warfare, poison by pollution, and wholesale extinctions of plant and animal species. We are going to have to want different things, seek different pleasures, pursue different goals, than those that have been driving us and our global economy.

“There is among people of all faiths, an urgency to taste and know this relatedness and to break down the old dichotomies between self and world, mind and nature, contemplation and action. Perhaps we suspect that our survival depends upon our doing that.”

Let’s practice. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, in through the nose and out through the mouth. When you inhale, inhale life force. When you exhale, relax and release your tension. Let go of all your judgments and thoughts. Free yourself from your need to know anything. Expand your life force as you take in air. Listen to the air you are inhaling. Listen to the messages in the energy you are inhaling. The air is speaking and you may have never noticed that it is speaking to you. It brings you a message from the plants that created oxygen for you to breathe. It brings you a gift. Listen to the air you are inhaling. Listen to air you are exhaling. It is flowing back into the world of energy and taking the gift of parts of you to the plants that gave you the air you are breathing. Every minute of the day your breath is conversing with the world. Listen and then, surrender. Become everything, the plants, the breath, your cells and one with all that is. Listen with your ears that can hear everything.