"A Radiant Tapestry"
- Outside the Desert Retreat House -
Yesterday I received a gracious email from someone thanking me for writing this blog and informing me that he reads and shares it regularly. For some reason that email deeply touched me and even though the person who wrote to me was a perfect stranger whom I had never met, I had this sudden insight and I thought of him as a personal friend and not a distant stranger. In fact, at some deep level, I had this overwhelming sense that he was a member of my family whom I had known all my life.
After reading that email yesterday I was reminded of one if my favorite Zen sayings:
The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that
I am here and you are out there.
The only way I could possibly explain my sense of connection yesterday to that “stranger” who I never met lies in the truth that there are no different-others and none of us are ever “strangers” to each other. My insight yesterday was an experience that took me beyond the false dualistic and egoic illusion of a “me inside” separated from a “you outside.”
My flash of insight yesterday provided me with a wonderful lesson that everything and everyone is invariably and inevitably woven together into what the theologian, Elizabeth Johnson, once described as a radiant tapestry of being. Professor Johnson observed:
Woven into our lives is the very fire from the stars
and genes from the sea creatures.,
and everyone, utterly everyone is kin
in the radiant tapestry of being.
Many times religious people and people who follow some sort of spiritual path think about their relationships prescriptively. In other words, they imagine that following the course of a spiritual path teaches them that they should treat others with dignity and that they should preserve and cherish the planet on which we live. But as I think about it, a spiritual journey actually teaches us to think of our relationships descriptively. It’s not that we should foster relationships but rather we are our relationships. We are one another, we are the earth, the sea and the sky. Each and every one of us is woven into that radiant tapestry of being.
When we can come to this insight we find the deeper wisdom and greater truth of any spiritual journey.
I’m still sort of basking in my experience yesterday of that the stranger who was kin to me. In these chaotic times when there seems to be so much division and animosity between people of different tribes and camps who hold different views of the world, we might all do well to reclaim the truth that there are no different others and all of us are kin.
The Buddha taught:
See yourself in others.
Then whom can you hurt?
What harm can you do?