Sunday, January 1, 2017

Thoughts for the New Year

Will this be a good new year?  I am encouraged by news (courtesy of Heartfulness meditations) that, in Asia, sports stadiums have been booked for the benefit of those who wish to spend today in meditation. Wow!

I can't imagine such a thing in this country, where money, noise, and football dominate the sports culture. Of course, many people today pray, I hope for world peace and (I hope) for the inner peace that makes interaction with each other peaceable. We have to work hard, day by day, for a less violent world.

How can we do less hating?  A message from Richard Rohr at the end of the old year reminds us that cognitive science shows that the brain holds on to negative thoughts (like Velcro) whereas positive thoughts slip off (like Teflon).  To retain a positive experience, he says, you have to intentionally hold on to it for fifteen seconds to allow it to imprint your brain.

This means we have to deliberately, consciously choose to love rather than to hate. The fear that leads to anger and hate comes easily, just as the memories of being wounded cling to the brain; but to re-wire ourselves to be positive, caring, and compassionate requires an effort. It takes work to remain each day in the present moment rather than recalling old hurts and hatreds.

As Rohr says, many decent people in our society, in churches as well as in politics, are much more at home with hate than with love; and they don't know this. They have not been taught to focus on the good.

So, to live in a loving way and thus to make an individual contribution to the greater good, requires great spiritual work. No one ever said that peace came easily.

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