The Suffering of Mother Teresa Was Religious not Spiritual

“It is not enough for us to say: ‘I love God,’ but I also have to love my neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is not true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.” – Mother Teresa

I am familiar with love and with pain; and when I have felt pain, while loving, the pain was never caused by the act of loving, it was caused by the actions of the ones I loved. To me, it is like a hose – the faucet is turned on, the hose fills up and the water pours out. And so the process is like this, one’s being is filled with love – so filled that it must be released out towards another being, towards God, or even towards nature itself. Still, it is a filling up of the heart and soul with love and so long as that love is being released, the vessel is being constantly filled. Being filled with love leaves no room for pain. I recall a story that Wayne Dyer told about a woman with a disabled daughter, totally bedridden for many years, and for all of those years the mother lovingly stayed by her side, changing her diaper, feeding her, loving her. She did this without it hurting, other than perhaps the empathy that she felt for her daughter. After being moved by the enormous suffering of Mother Teresa I went back over the things that she had said, and I cannot imagine an instance where love hurts.

The act of giving does not hurt either. Again, giving is a gesture from the heart. What does hurt is when we do not give from our hearts but we give because we feel we must. In doing this, we are not giving in essence we are taking from ourselves. Another quote from Mother Teresa which stood out to me was this:

“I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn’t touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God.”

 

I was never much on placing importance on the death of Jesus, but I was deeply inspired by his life. I don’t believe that the value of a life should be overshadowed by the manner of death. After all, no matter how you cut it, living takes a lot more work than dying, and living an exemplary life, at any time, trumps an exemplary death. I read a bumper sticker the other day that really brought the point home, it said, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you are car.” In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus’ followers asked him, basically, how to get to Heaven, a question he never seemed to answer to the satisfaction of the questioner.

[6]. His disciples asked and said to him: “Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray, how shall we give alms, what rules concerning eating shall we follow?” Jesus says: “Tell no lie, and whatever you hate, do not do: for all these things are manifest to the face of heaven; nothing hidden will fail to be revealed and nothing disguised will fail before long to be made public!”

When I was young, I was given the impression that I was not really capable of amounting to anything in the world. So, when I became successful in my own business I bought many very expensive things, jewelry, art – things that said I had made it. These were my trophies that I told myself I would never let go of, they proved my ability to succeed. But as my life would have it, my health caused me to leave my business and it reached a point in my life that to keep a roof over the heads of my children, I would have to sell my trophies. They were the only proof that I had left. While I was struggling with this I read a book on the Kabala and it said that we should gather everything that we believe that we can live without in order to give it away, but then, after we have gathered everything that we feel we can manage without we should then double it and give it away. The essence of it was that only the ego attaches to things, only the ego benefits from things, and not the soul. This allowed me to ‘give’ those things for the good of my family without pain, because I knew that in doing so I was purging my ego. My husband, feeling badly for the sacrifice that I had made promised to replace all that I had given, but I did not want them back, giving it opened my heart and freed my ego, I felt gratitude and joy.

Using the parable of the seeds as an example, the things that we do so that God will know our love for Him, are the seeds that fall by the wayside. They are a lie, the heart is not in the action itself. For Mother Teresa to see a leper and feel to herself that she wouldn’t touch him for a thousand pounds, says that in the depth of her heart she does not see Jesus in that leper. The act of curing that leper is an act of doing what you should do, like fasting or going to church, but it is not heartfelt and so the heart derives no joy from the act, in fact, it causes pain because of the feeling of uselessness of the sacrifice. To sacrifice is to make sacred, but only the heart can make sacred.

In Mother Teresa’s youth she was filled with an ecstatic love for Jesus and for the work that he did in his life. She was filled with the spirit of Christianity, but the church robbed her of that. The church robbed her of the loving Jesus, the joyous Jesus, the Jesus free of ego attachments and laws, filled only with the desire to Love, teach and heal his brothers. The church forced her to believe that only through suffering could she find the love of Jesus, only through suffering would she feel the love of Jesus, and worst of all, that only through teaching the value of suffering to others could she save their souls for Jesus. The teachings of the church were in direct contradiction to the yearnings of her heart, and because she believed the church to be the appointed messenger of God, she deafened her heart to its cries, and dedicated herself to the work, but without the spirit in the work, without the love in the work, she was empty and alone, not seeing God and not feeling his Love. She loved Jesus, but she could not feel his love because she was indoctrinated only towards his suffering. There are many Saints who are marked by their “Dark Night Of The Soul”, but each one emerged with a greater sense of mysticism and spirituality and a far lesser sense of righteousness of religious doctrine.

She gave her life to the God that she loved, but she was denied the fullness of His love in her heart, not by God but by the church that taught not the beauty and joy of love, but only the vows of suffering. I feel that it is a crime for her suffering to be used by atheists as proof that there is no God, but I believe equally that it is a crime for the church to use her suffering as an example of the natural path of a true Christian.

Enlightenment is Living in the Love of The Light

Sometimes I anger myself because I can read something a hundred times and still not be able to really feel that I understand what I have read. I finally realized that the harder I try to grasp a concept, the more elusive it becomes. Yet, if I calmly put the question to my higher self, and then let it go, at some point the answer will come to me in a clear and easily understood manner.

This is the way it has been for me with the concept of enlightenment. I have read books, articles, and listened to so many lectures yet, it still eluded me. Last night I was reading the words of Lao Tsu, and although they used words like the Way and the Sage, it felt to me, as the though they still referring to the same concept as enlightenment.

At four twenty six a.m., I woke up; or at least it felt as though I was awake. In fact, I really believe that I was having a lucid dream. As I lay there in a place somewhere between being asleep and being awake I heard these words in my head, “The truth comes between thoughts, like during the times like this, between waking and sleeping. Whether one calls it flow, inaction, or being present, it is not trying, just being. One cannot seek enlightenment; it would be seeking what is not missing. To be enlightened we must simply be, and in the stillness of being the light within will shine and we will see. It is that seeing that is enlightenment”. Then shortly after I heard, “It is through the process of doing ordinary things that we brush up against the extraordinary”. I reached for a piece of paper to try and scribble down what I was hearing, because I knew that it would dissolve just as a dream dissolves into consciousness when we awaken.

Just then, I felt the enormity of NOW. It was as if time stood still. I felt as though I had slipped between words, literally I felt that there were words on either side of me and yet, they were at the same time an eternity away. I was in a void, there was neither a sight, nor a sound, but I was a part of everything, everything that has been, everything that could or will ever be, all the knowledge that could ever exist, and most of all – all of the unconditional love that could be experienced. I was in a place that felt older than eternity, and larger and deeper than outer space. I could sense that the things that we consider to be the real world were as substantive as a sheet of tissue paper floating in the eternal ether. We rely on words to manifest our world, but what is real, is what the words are attempting, with their limited ability, to describe.

What is enlightenment? I don’t know if it really can be described, but who cares whether it can or not? What I can say is that there are no requirements to experiencing it, except the willingness to be still in our minds. We spend so much time thinking about the road ahead and the road behind, punishing ourselves or blaming others for the past, and working so hard to guarantee the future. We completely overlook the opportunity to experience now. When the mind is full of thoughts, worries, expectations, plans and just plain noise, it is too full to receive light. It is that simple, one does not have to have credentials, nor does one have to be a highly evolved Master, we only have to be willing to let go and be.

In my search to understand the meaning of enlightenment, I realized that I only wanted to understand the means of attaining it. In all honesty I am not, at least not yet, a person who has mastered meditation. There are an average of fifty thousand thoughts that pass through the normal brain in a day. When we meditate, we do different exercises to still our minds and stop all of the noise that is in our heads. And so meditation is one possible way to reach that point of stillness, that point of being in which light can be received and enlightenment can be achieved. I myself, really don’t think very much, what I mean is that random worries, or plans, or whatever makes up those fifty thousand thoughts rarely enter my head, except, when I meditate. Most of the time, my mind is rather still or occupied with where I am and what I am doing. And so, when I try to still the noise that isn’t there in the first place I create noise that prevents me from meditating.

For people who are like me, absorption works much better than meditation. I allow myself to become fully absorbed in whatever I am doing, and in that process there are no extraneous thoughts filling my head. I remain, for the most part, an open channel. If I space out, or drift off, it is not to a thought; I am simply opening up more in that moment for whatever might come through. I am constantly receiving light, such as the light that becomes information. I know that it is from a source other than my own mind because it really has little relevance to my own life in any personal way. Or, if a thought comes to me that does have a personal relevance, I am shown how my personal situation plays out in a much broader picture that would be relevant to others as well as myself.

Enlightenment is something like slipping through a crack in time and space. And I believe that it is something that everyone can attain or at least glimpse in their lifetimes. But it is not something we can find by seeking. We have to be at the right place at the right time. That place is in the present and the time is God’s time. It isn’t something that we can find, or a place that we can plan to be at a certain hour every day, because our hour may not fit into God’s schedule. So, if we seek enlightenment, the best way to guarantee that we will receive it is to always be ready. That means, always being present in the moment, in the world and in the task that we are immediately involved in.

Because I wanted so much to experience enlightenment, I forgot what I had learned about asking and then letting go. The way we release a letter when we put it into the mailbox or hit the send button for e-mail. I had heard so many people tell me stories about their beautiful experiences during meditation. I wanted to go there so badly that it hurt. Then one night I told God that I surrendered to never seeing Nirvana. I would be fine, being like Moses who never entered the Promises Land. I resigned myself to the fact that it would not happen for me in this lifetime. And that was the night I went to sleep and found what I had been sleeping at 4:26 am. Not only did I then experience it, I learned that we all could. Enlightenment is only seeing it is having a light shown on what is right there. When Jesus said, “Seek and ye shall find”, what did it mean? There is a sense of being lost in seeking, isn’t there? No one would seek anything if they knew where it was.

The answer that we find when we become enlightened is that there is no answer only a beautiful living Mystery. The answer to that mystery is on the horizon, which represents the end of our journey. The horizon is there regardless of the path that we travel or the direction that we choose. With every step we are awakening, with every moment we are becoming. Enlightenment comes when we let go of believing that we know. To be enlightened is to embrace the possibilities that live within the Mystery. There is only one certainty and that is that one need not know what the Light is to feel the all encompassing Love the flows within it. We need only seek to grow in Love, to be freed from the darkness, to be enlightened.