The Bell of Salvation Rings

by Nick Andrea

A cool autumn breeze,
dancing through the leaves
on the trees;

the air’s perfect temperature portending
one not remembering
where he is ending
and the world, beginning;

one step after one step,
deeper and deeper into peace,
the energy of Mother Earth rising
up through soles, these;

sounds of crickets chirping, sweetly,
framing the space from here to there, silently -
the music of an awakened intelligence
moving through all these things, discreetly;

a tingle at the base of the spine
between the two sides of this behind,
tickled naughtily by she,
a world, so fine;

melting, melting now into the Ocean of Bliss,
with every exhale
making passionate love to Creation, this;

Namaste, the one in me sees the one in the tree
not-two, not even three
but non-duality;

Good evening, God, good evening,
how do you do?
separate one has been empty,
bound in a spell of delu-
sion, crafted by an, “I, my, me,” for which
even ‘spirituality’
was no solution.

But now, connected to all things
a liberating truth is seen,
letting down the fire of ambition
do you hear it, now?
The bell of salvation rings.

*******************************************

Wonder is:
putting the finishing touches on this piece, tonight, when my friend asks me if I would read it to her. “Sure,” I say and start from the top. As I approach the end, I read, “…and letting down the fire of ambition, do you hear it now?” and pause. The next moment, “Ding!” goes my phone, as somebody messages me. I speak the last line, “The bell of salvation rings.”

You just can’t make this stuff up…

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Faultlines

by Nick Andrea

There’s a faultline in my heart,
where the two halves of me struggle to come together
and
sometimes quake, violently,
creating upheaval for both.

The inner world, like the outer, is one of
broken, shifting continents
that make up one, big whole,
moving, shifting, evolving,
sometimes, at the cost of growing pains.

But, in the spirit of not continuing to juice of longing, indefinitely,
but honoring the hope that has struck me, time and time again,
I must recall those great words spoken two millenia ago by the same One that lives within us all:
“This is my body broken for you.”

There’s got to be something in that,
perhaps,
to be broken is the way, the truth, the life of eternal peace.

Posted in Children & Youth Spirituality, Encounters With Spirit, Expansive Blog, Inspiration, Intuition, Poetry, Prayers, Unitarian Universalism, Wisdom from Meditation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Characteristics of an Ideal Spiritual Community

by Nick Andrea

What are the characteristics of an ideal spiritual or religious community? I’ve been chewing on this question as the Unitarian Universalist congregation I serve visions for its next iteration in the world. I’ve identified three important characteristics. I’m sure there are more, but these were the first I thought of (I will use the terms “spiritual” and “religious” interchangeably in this article):

Strong Relationships
Strong relationships lie at the heart (no pun intended) of any successful organization because it is those relationships that allow the organization to be stronger as a collective than it could be as a set of individuals. It is also those relationships that most draw its members to continue returning, year after year. We are a social species. Those institutions that purport to serve the highest truth should place this quality at the center of what it offers.

When strong relationships exist within a community it finds prominence in the social lives of its participants. Spiritual community was once a fact of life for most people in America. That fact has dwindled drastically in the last 150+ years. For all that, however, religious communities remain the last standing bastions for several important communal functions in our culture. First, they are a place where people can commune with the truth of life and death, together. The search for truth and meaning is daunting. Enlightenment is on the far shore and the river is very wide to cross. It is best if we do not ride this boat, alone. In fact, I’m not entirely sure the truth can be found entirely on one’s own since it is transpersonal in nature.

Second, the relationships within spiritual communities tend to be of a unconditionally giving nature. People offer one another jobs. They babysit each other’s children. They serve soup to the homeless, build houses for the Appalachian poor, and cater big events, together. This level of unconditional giving is rare in the business and even the secular non-profit communities, where relationships are characteristically more transactional than transformational.

Service to the Community
Unconditional service to the community is another of the primary roles still filled, almost exclusively, by churches and other spiritual organizations in our society. Our communities exist to make the world a better place, inspired by our spiritual outlook – in other words, the truth that transcends the petty, worldly concerns that drive the secular branches of society. Because we believe there is something of value beyond the material world we perceive with our five senses, we give freely of our time, money, and energy without asking anything in return.

Moreover, the fruit of spirituality should always be service. The more we grow in connection to all that is, the more we will naturally want to give, as we increasingly see ourselves in the eyes of others.

Genuine Spiritual Practice
An ideal spiritual community should share a genuine spiritual practice together. My view is that a practice can be said to be spiritual because it elicits powerful devotion in its adherents. It purifies their perception of the world to where they see indescribable beauty and oneness everywhere they look. And, not merely as a thought, but as a lived experience that imbibes us with so much love for the creation that we want to cry. Those tears of devotion are the engine that drives religious people to powerfully transform the world, to transcend the barriers that have, hitherto, kept it sick.

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Five Simple Ways to Change the World

by Nick Andrea

All these crazy things happening in the world stage have been getting me down, lately – wars, collateral damage, unnecessary killing, and the list goes on. It reached a peek this afternoon when I had a hard time even being in my body, knowing there was so much suffering in the world.

And, finally, it broke with a conversation I had with someone who has been walking the path of spirituality and service for quite a few more decades than I. He said, “Well, we’re still here, and we’ll keep on doing what we can in our own, small way.”

That little bit of hope and focus on the small things we do every day made me change my perspective and focus, and I came up with five small things we can do today:

  1. Reach out to someone close to you. It doesn’t have to be an intimate relationship, though it can be. Ask them, “How are you? How is your day going?” Take an active interest in them and what is motivating them, today. It’s easy to take those closest to us for granted, and it is those people with whom we have the most concentrated potential to experience love or turmoil, based on our choices. Choose love.
  2. Ask someone who is different from you how you can be of service. The root of conflict is us as individuals seeing the world in different ways according to the unique missions we have been designed for. Asking others how you can be of service allows us to expand our own perspectives and become larger than we were before.
  3. Spend at least fifteen minutes doing something creatively self-expressive. Pickup the guitar and sing your favorite song. Write a poem. Draw a picture. Cook a delicious meal. Go shoot some hoops. Stat knitting something. Creative self-expression is a powerful way to connect us with our hearts.
  4. Spend some time alone in silence. A good relationship with Self is the start of good relationships with others. This can take the form of sitting meditation, mindful walking, riding a bike, or anything that minimizes distraction and thinking and allows you to feel our own beingness. The connections we make with the world in this space are profound. Imagine what would happen if the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Ukrainians and the rebels, the Islamic militants, started to feel their own beingness. We can help them by feeling our own, because being is contagious. The more presence we bring to the world the more it spreads by osmosis.
  5. Identify three things that are going right, today, and give thanks. With so much turmoil in the world it is easy to forget that there is so much good happening as well. In fact, I believe there is more love than evil on the whole, and focusing on the love expands it. In addition, being in a space of gratitude invites life to give us more things to be grateful for.

Come, take my hand, friend. Let’s walk together, right here, right now, to this pond of existence and drop these pebbles of small, conscious action into it, and watch as their ripples go out and change the world.

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The Point of Life and Work, as I See It

by Nick Andrea

All exist within a single, interconnected Cosmos that is alive with consciousness. Even the ancient Greeks who coined that term, believed so. We, as miniature reflections of That, are literally the Universe becoming conscious of Itself.

Our job is to realize that. One’s sense of individuality is then merged in cosmic individuality, the small conscious self realizing itself as the non-dual Large Self, that contains all things.

Thinking upon how this applied to one’s work in the world I concluded that if one wants the enduring peace of God one should be unattached to the fruits of our labors, devoting our unique, creative gifts to the great work of helping all beings wake up to their true nature.

The antithesis to this is to work for personal gain, the dominant ideology that runs our world. This, I believe, is a great fallacy. What is there for one individual to gain that does not belong to the Cosmos, in the end? There is no selfish endeavor that can end in happiness.

But to have the deep and enduring peace of God one should be like God, and God ONLY serves. So, that, I think, should be our goal, too.

Posted in Business Lessons, Children & Youth Spirituality, Culture, Expansive Blog, Inspiration, Metaphysics, Politics?, Unitarian Universalism, Wisdom from Meditation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Too Simple for Words

by Nick Andrea

It is That,
uttering this very mantra in me,
as me.

It is That One,
chanting now through me,
as me,
to Itself.

It is That Very One
thinking now in me,
as me,
the thoughts It wants thought.

Who is
really running
this show
after all?

The small one knows
no other way
to explain it than this. It’s almost

too simple
to put
into
words. In fact,

It
just
may
be.

Posted in Children & Youth Spirituality, Encounters With Spirit, Expansive Blog, Haiku, Inspiration, Intuition, Journal, Love Chronicles, Metaphysics, Poetry, Science and Spirit, Unitarian Universalism, Wisdom from Meditation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Boy’s Mother

by Nick Andrea

The dusking sunlight cascades down through the window, 93 million miles from the Sun, to illuminate this 6-year old boy’s face, as I sit here listening to him recall every vivid detail of his dream;

the account of his nocturnal escapade mesmerizes me;
he stumbles over words a nervous system that age does not need to know – “chrysalis,” for one, among others;

driven by pure curiosity this spirit-as-flesh – alive, aware, bubbling – is not entirely a real thing, that is to say, a separate thing;

but that what is seen is also the space between;
that space interests me more than the words,
which from it derive their context, as if it were mothering them;

each passing sound anticipates the next,
ever
silently
in
motion;

undying, it has been here since before Abraham;
the ground upon which the dinosaurs walked;
the ferocious serenity before the first explosion, fourteen and a half billions years ago;
will remain when this world and all other worlds perish, beckoning the next form into existence;

what is this timeless chrysalis,
right here, right now, the space between the one looking and what is seen?

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Space Shuttle

by Nick Andrea

I must be on a space shuttle,
for,
in those trees, those hills, this sky
I see the cosmos;

And, I must be on a space shuttle,
for,
in this oxygen coming through my nostrils
I feel the stellar sigh of a thousand dying red giants;

and, I must be on a space shuttle,
for,
upon this dirt that I stand I see
nebulae – majestic, colorful, swirling,
creating;

and, I must be on a space shuttle,
for,
in this sunlight cascading down from the sky in a river of gold
I see photons that have bounced around in that star right there since
before my ancestors started
walking
upright.

yea, traveling at the speed of thought through a wormhole, I must be on a space shuttle,
for,
in these signs, omens, these dreams I feel the
space-time continuum bending, like a rug
bunched up by a door a little too close
to the ground.

I, Cosmonaut Nikolai,
what am I but a
piece of fuzz arising from that doormat
with an eye to see?

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Hope Remains

by Nick Andrea

There’s one minute left, an eternity from here to there,
like, as they say, the moment before death, when one’s whole life flashes before our eyes.

Death, tonight, is the book exchange closing,
I delay the inevitable passage to the other side of That,

and,
reading,
fall into the ground from which spring book exchange, book, life.

Upon this mirror, prose from some other penman appears:
a little girl;
the neighbor’s trash cans lining the street;
Mormon missionaries invited in to pray for father and little girl;
a bottle of milk sitting on the table next to a glass of wine.
an autumn breeze dancing a thousand fallen sufis into whirling dervishes (my addition);

Hope remains.

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Cosmic Evolution

by Nick Andrea

Society is evolving to a place where its businesses, systems, institutions, religions, even its art, will be founded in non-duality. That is, the well being of all life will be considered in decision making.

This universal sentiment was called, “Neohumanism,” by the Indian philosopher, P.R. Sarkar, and it refers to educating humans about their place in the larger context of the universe. Quoting Maria Montessori, Michael Dowd said, “If the story of the universe, of evolution, is the foundation of education, then children know who they are, where they are, and how all the sciences all fit into a coherent whole.” And, quoting Carl Sagan, he also said, “We are the local embodiment of a cosmos grown to self-awareness. We have begun to contemplate our origins, star stuff pondering the stars” (from his video, “The Great Story.”).

The ancient Greek concept of “cosmos” entailed a connection between this and that, that there was no separation between Arcturus, thirty-seven light years away, this chair I’m sitting in, and myself. I am not separate from the universe. I am, in fact, the universe that has become aware of itself. I am the trees, the birds, the fish, the streams, the stars; I am everything, become conscious of itself as a human being – everything, in a human body. And, it is this sense of oneness with all the other parts that allows me to live, work, and make decisions in harmony with all the other parts.

Like a single cell that is part of a multicellular organism, awakening to understand that to serve the whole is to serve itself, the neohumanist sentiment is the next phase of our evolution. When the dynfunctional institutions of war, polluting the atmosphere, poisoning humans and animals for profit, and gaining financially on the backs of virtual slave labor, have reached their breaking point of unsustainability – as they already have in many cases – we will build our new society upon the realization of universal well being.

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