November 7, 2013

Fumbling Toward Nirvana

Lately, I have sought and found personal enlightenment. I am at a point in my journey that is marked with peace and happiness. I observe so much unhappiness and discontent sometimes when I'm out and about, and I am compelled to try to help, even if my efforts fail or I am perceived to be self-righteous, delusional, or just plain crazy.

Did you ever have a dream that felt more real than other dreams? About three weeks ago, I had a dream so real that I would rather describe it as a visitation than a dream. I remember very little of this event except a warm presence and the comforting message he brought, which was an iron-clad assurance that to be human is to endure suffering, but that one day all that suffering would be replaced by joy.

Now, as a fairly curious person, I have studied different religions, and I know that the message I was given ties in with Buddhist teachings. The First Noble Truth in Buddhism is recognizing suffering. It isn't hard to recognize suffering in man's world. Stories of senseless inhumanity and disasters abound and are only a few clicks away at any given moment. In the interest of full disclosure, I was raised Baptist but more closely identify with Universalism, because it is accepting of all people.

What I know is that since my dream/visitation I have been feeling blissful, healthier, and more centered. Also, perhaps coincidentally, I have been noticing more signs of awesomeness in the world. Here are a few examples:

 Pope Francis recently embraced a severely disfigured man in St. Peter's Square, a very moving spectacle, which quickly became viral.

Matthew Jacko, an amazing young man who has a brain tumor, is helping kids at a local Pennsylvania children's hospital smile, by encouraging people to donate money to buy the children stuffed monkeys. "Laughter is the best thing in the whole wide world," he reports. Agreed.

Then there's this story of a the New York Q Train passenger who made no fuss about the exhausted stranger who was napping on his shoulder. A small act of kindness, not worthy of media attention? Maybe, but pennies add up to dollars.

Just as inspiring as these stories is the fact that they are being widely circulated. It leads me to believe that people still need to know there is good in the world. Compassion, humility, courage. These phenomena do exist and always will, to help us deal with the burdens of life we all carry.

There's more I could say, but I'll leave off for now with an old Irish blessing.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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