"The Buddha taught lay people the virtue of making the 'seven offerings that cost nothing' . . . a compassionate eye, a smiling face, loving words, physical service, a warm heart, a seat, and lodging."
— Jiko Kohno in Right View, Right Life

To Practice This Thought: Make one of the seven offerings that cost nothing.

" 'I want to share one last thing with you, my child. Something I had to learn as a very young boy. I, too, traveled a great deal in the world. First it was to find my Teacher and then it was to teach myself. I found that I was afraid to love people because I would only have to say good-bye again, usually forever in this life. And then I discovered a very great secret —'

" 'What is it?'

" 'For every good-bye there is another hello. As you grow older, perhaps you will discover, as I did, that in a strange way you are saying hello and greeting the same one you said good-bye to. It will be a different face and a different body, but the light in the eyes of everyone is the same light. It is the light of the Great One. We are all one Spirit, one Heart, you know, but it is just delightful to see how many disguises and masks the Great One can wear. When you understand this here,' and he pressed his hand over Teak's heart, 'it can ease the pain of some of those painful good byes.' "
— Alice Howell in The Beejum Book

"If you follow the example of Jesus and listen for your destiny and fate, you will have to go your own way, adapting the simple, radical, teachings to your own calling and circumstances. You will evoke the kingdom in your own style, making your own life a tiny mustard seed, cultivating the weeds of your thoughts, making yourself the embodiment of the moral beauty and spiritual intelligence found in the Gospels."
— Thomas Moore in Writing in the Sand

"Listening to sounds with focused attention allows the practitioner to hear the voice of God in everything. The Baal Shem Tov urged his students to direct their awareness equally to prayer, birdsong, rain, or a shout in the street. The Maggid of Mezerich taught that the best way to practice listening was to forget oneself entirely. 'You must be nothing but an ear which hears what the universe of the Word is constantly saying within you. The moment you start hearing what you yourself are saying, you must stop.' Their Hasidic descendants continue to remain devoted to listening as a preferred form of meditation, for it can be practiced anywhere and at any time."
— Perle Besserman in The Shambhala Guide to Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism

To Practice This Thought: Take some time today to practice listening for the voice of God in everything. Be nothing but an ear."

"We are not of different faiths or different religions — we are Christians, all of us. We are not in different churches; we are in the same Church on different parts of the pew. Some of us are looking mostly through this window or that one, while some of us are on our way to have a look into a window from which the view of the Mystery that we cannot name looks a little different.

"The walls that have been built between us — the ones built out of fear or pride or ignorance — can be taken down. And we who sit on this pew must do exactly that. We are the ones who can stop the daily dividing up of the Body of Christ into pieces and, instead, make it more possible for the Christ to be seen in our world.

"We must seek out the things that we have in common and at the same time learn to honor the things that make us different. We must learn to take the things that we hold dear — our sense of community, our love for the scriptures, our hunger for prayer, our capacity for worship — and work to make them wide enough and deep enough to include others rather than keep them at a distance.

"We must be willing to cultivate humility along with certainty, to practice toleration along with devotion, to seek patience along with piety.

"We must learn to seek the face of Christ in those who are different as readily as we do in the faces of those who are like us.

"We must learn to love one another."
— Robert Benson in The Body Broken

"If you really love someone, you have to be fully present for him or her. A ten-year-old boy I know was asked by his father what he wanted for his birthday, and he said, 'Daddy, I want you!' His father was too busy. He had no time for his family. His son knew that the greatest gift his father could offer was his true presence.

"When you are concentrated — mind and body at one — anything you say can be a mantra. It does not have to be spoken in Sanskrit. It can be uttered in your own language: 'Darling, I am here for you.' If you are fully present, this mantra will produce a miracle. You become real, the person you say it to becomes real, and life becomes real in that moment. You bring happiness to yourself and to the other person. This is the greatest gift you can offer your loved one. To love is to be there for him, for her, and for them."
— Thich Nhat Hahn in Teachings on Love

To Practice This Thought: Take some time today to practice listening for the voice of God in everything. Be nothing but "an ear." Try using the mantra "Darling, I am here for you" in a close personal relationship. See how it opens up new doors of feeling and meaning.

"In seeing, may we learn to love.
In loving, may we learn to care.

O God, make us quiet and attentive enough
to see creation,
disciplined and joyful enough to cherish it,
and zealous and hopeful enough to tend it.

O God of all sight, all love, and all caring,
Give us eyes to see, hearts to love, and
hands to care for your world.

— Valerie Weaver-Zercher in Resist! Christian Dissent for the 21st Century edited by Michael Long

"Before you pick up a new book or magazine, or as you sit down to watch a video or listen to some music, pause and ask Spirit to open your heart, mind, and soul through the spiritual practice of meaning. Call in wisdom. Later, before leaving this learning experience, say a blessing for the author or the artist to convey your thanks for his or her contribution to your life."
— Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat in Spiritual Rx

"The question which is often put to me, 'Do you believe in God?', usually seems a superficial one. If it only means that there is an extra place in your head where God sits, then God is in no way an event which changes your whole life, an event from which, as [Martin] Buber says of real revelation, I do not emerge unchanged. We should really ask, 'Do you live out God?' That would be in keeping with the reality of the experience."
— Dorothee Soelle in Dorothee Soelle: Essential Writings

"If Christianity cannot recover its mystical tradition and teach it, it should just fold up and go out of business. It has nothing to offer." Father Bede Griffiths once wrote. As the saints of the twenty-first century, we need to be better equipped in the practical arts and ethics of the mystical tradition so that we may be animated by both contemplation and action."
— Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

Go to Index for Alphabet of Progressive Christian Spirituality