Broken From Within

“Don’t fool yourself and think that Spirit is somewhere else, in other-worldly experiences, in great rushes or ecstatic visions.  Life’s deepest experience is the joy that fills our hearts when we love and give to others.  Ask anyone in the middle of battling a catastrophic illness, or survey those on the acute trauma ward, and they will tell you that they live to give a halting hug or to speak a word of grace to another.”  – Rabbi Yehudah Fine

Rabbi Fine walked the streets of New York reaching out to homeless teens and has worked from coast to coast, helping struggling families fight to find the right path.  His greatest calling, however, came after a horrible car accident where he was left with a broken vertebrae and fractured pelvis.  You would think that a guy that was acclaimed with giving back to the community would have the whole mind/body/spirit thing figured out.  But, it was during this dark time that he was required to face and grow from his own brokenness.

Here is a link about the Rabbi:  http://www.aish.com/jw/s/accident_act_god.html.  He reminds me today that victory does not always come from being on top.  There are angels that walk among us that have found victory, and thus a deeper meaning of life, from within.  Thankful for their willingness to share…….

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Musings of a Seeker
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2 Responses to Broken From Within

  1. sherry crawford says:

    I love the message especially at times like these. Thanks for the link and the blog.

  2. yehuda says:

    Rabbi Yehudah in the Talmud explains that the mysterious statement, “the land of the living” means the marketplace. The meaning here is obvious. The marketplace is the only place where spirituality is born and grows. The marketplace of our daily life with other people.

    Spiritual expression does not come from sitting in mediation, chanting on a retreat or finding God through mystical union. How do you know if you are on the path if you simply have an experience? Well King David makes it clear that the only way you know the path is when you are able to walk with it in ‘the land of living.” Anything less is not spiritual.

    Spiritual reality and progress is bound to our ethical behavior and our ability to be with other people. Simple but true. If I speak of heaven by my actions hour hell then my words were meaningless. If I talk about ethics and cheat in business then where am I?

    This by the way makes the choice of who to study with rather easy too. It is not the talks or the writings that matter, but how the spiritual teacher conducts their daily life in the “land of the living ” that makes all the difference.

    We often think that spirituality is somehow part of an ‘otherness.’ Spirit is not ‘other’ for if it is ‘other’ then it is separate. The true spiritual path involves us deeply with other people. It involves us intimately and directly in their lives. It never speaks using terms that are meaningless and vague such as energy or consciousness and the like. It is grounded in the personal and in ethics.

    Spirituality ultimately is always attached to our conduct and our values. This makes things so much more simple. If we find someone who talks of spirit but gossips , is angry, lies, and puts down others then we can ignore their words and pray that they get their life together.

    Spirituality is not found in words but in right conduct.

    Spirituality is found in caring not talking about caring.

    Spirituality is not found in saying I love you , but in loving another directly.

    On Giving Up and Finding Yourself

    Over the past year and half since my accident I have had alot of therapy. I’ve done physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture therapy and a potpourri of Yoga techniques as well as simple walking and breathing. Every one of those therapies when you are recovering from intense physical trauma called upon me to put my Ego into gear. I mean, seeing my body was basically shattered on my right side, makes it rather clear that you can’t just lie there and will yourself to get better. You have to push and push and try and try.

    This I found to be particularly interesting. I mean I need my Ego to get better. I need my ego to respond to questions like, “How are you feeling?” “How goes the pain?” “How did you walk today?” “Any better getting out of bed this morning?” All these therapies came supplied with ready made coaches. Urging me on. Pushing on me. Challenging me.

    In the first year, I felt that I was training for some supreme athletic competition. I was going after some record in the marathon. It was flat out that hard. It was filled with pain. Hell the stations to my marathon were trying to figure out how to walk, and how much intensity I had to be supplied by my Ego. I knew on one level that without that I would end up like so many folks I say in all these therapies. They gave up and then just fell apart.

    At the same time I also simultaneously had to surrender to my life and let go. Ego and a state of selflessness all wrapped into one package. For me, this was in the category of a wonderful connumdrum.

    I saw and see myself like a tree growing on the edge of cliff. The tree just grows there. Puts out it leaves, flowers and fruits. It doesn’t sit and worry that the cliff might at any moment give way. It just continues peacefully growing. I live now on the edge of things. Spend too much time looking over the cliff and trouble surely will come and sweep me away. The metaphor is pretty clear. Live fully as I can in every moment and every day.

    So how did all this unfold for the folks around me?

    Many of the doctors, most of my therapists and attendants at one time or another asked me why I was not reacting like most folks in this process. The biggest question that came up over and over again was, “Why are you happy so much time. Seeing what happened to you and how it has changed your life. Why are you at peace with all of this?” or another variation on the same theme, “Look I know you are obviously in alot of pain, why are you so concerned about my life and why even when it is obvious you are in alot of pain, why the smile on your face?” And naturally in longer conversations the main question was, “Don’t you hate the person that nearly killed you. I mean why aren’t you angry at him? He walked away with hardly a scratch and never even sent you a note. I don’t get it?”

    It even got to the point that when as I lay in my bed at the trauma center that many of the staff would take their coffee breaks with me. Often I would wake up ( I slept for hours and hours) and see someone just standing by my bedside. It got to be so regular that no one came in and even said to me why they were standing on their coffee break in the room. They just came in.

    This seeming conflict between the intensity of the struggle to maintain and get better (my will or Ego) was also simultaneously contrasted by my absolute need to hang out in a place I simply call “My acceptance.” Now the interesting thing about being able to struggle and at the same time let go and accept is that in a very short time I was able to focus on two different planes of awareness. And the ‘acceptance’ state was juiced up enough that it actually radiated out into this large medical center.

    As i sit up in my cabin in the forest and type this to you now, I realize that the word got around the hospital not simply because of the chain created by ‘word of mouth.’ I mean if you were walking around Westchester Medical Center and happened to see me, you would not see much of me. For instance, when I was wheeled to the basement for X-rays all you would see is an attendant wheeling this gurney, and on the gurney was me. I am not 6 feet tall. I was wrapped in a blanket. All you could see was my head. But if you came near you and made some kind of contact then you would find my smile.

    What I understand now from this is that Spirit has no boundaries. Allowing myself to be as often as I could in a state of Acceptance put out a Teletype around the hospital that kind of spiritual state was being honored up upstairs in the critical trauma ward. Get near it and got showered with love and appreciation. That kind of juice is infectious.

    In fact most of the folks who attended me I saw and told them straight out that they were my angels. But in retrospect the amount of bedside traffic and the amount of folks stopping as complete strangers as I was wheeled around the hospital who just out of nowhere came by to take my hand could not be explained by ‘word of mouth.’ There just were too many people coming by. I mean there were many times I was left lying in some basement corridor alone in the hallway waiting for some test. And when I say alone I mean alone. Often this might even be late at night. The hospital would be quiet. The hallways and corridors empty. And out of nowhere I would start hearing solitary footsteps coming down those lonely corridors. Out of nowhere someone would just show up as I lay alone in some corner gurney way station in the bowels of this huge hospital. All of these encounters speaks of something else. And yes thankfully I did not think of all the hospital horror movies I had seen over the years. I did though chuckle as some of the places I was left were ideal places for some lunatic in a flick to come winging down the hall with an ax or other implement of destruction.

    We often think of spirituality in terms of sermons, tales, teachings and more and more today cram it all into compact sound bites. Even Spirituality has become packaged into weekend retreats, seminars, workshops, tapes, etc.

    Nevertheless I am here to report to you that Spirit isn’t and can’t be packaged and programmed and dropped into the physical. Spirit is beyond all that. I may have been and still am very identified with my body. It reminds me every waking minute of the day now what has happened to me, but at the same time that is going on there also is the real event of Spirit unfolding from my heart, reaching out and touching other hearts through time and space.

    I have no doubt that explains the simple fact of all these continual remarkable meetings with people that I experienced in the hospital and in rehab.

    And this was I believe particularly liberating in the domain of a hospital. The environment was ripe for it. Like the tree on the cliff. Every tree growing on the edge year in and year out produces more fruit than its neighbors resting on good til and deep loam. There is something productive and fruitful to be found in intense struggle, suffering and duress. The Talmudic sages explain over and over again that suffering has great meaning. They comment that one of the ways that God loves each of us is through our suffering. All of this teaching culminates in the mysterious and powerful mystical teaching that says that the highest level of love is called, ‘yisurim shel ahava’ or that there is a high level of love that can only come from being or placed directly in the path of suffering.

    Lets make no mistake about it, hospitals are hard environments to be in and work in. Very tough scenes. The walls, floor and ceiling are filled with trauma, worry, anxiety, pain, suffering and death. It just flat out surrounds everyone. On the one hand it roots a person into the world of suffering and I guess most of the time armors folks to defend against it. These are institution where everyone is stressed. The stress is confirmed by the place constantly being filled with bodies that have been totally assaulted and insulted by the world and dumped into an institution that has to process all of this.

    Nevertheless, if you drop into the World of Acceptance’, loosen up the ego that has a need for seeing your body a certain way and by that simple act, room is made for something else —Spirit. It fill in that emptiness so to speak. You see, Spirit is not confined to time and space. It just spreads out and makes a different set of rounds around in this case–the hospital.

    Imagine or frankly speaking don’t imagine but actually try every so often to take that Acceptance into daily life. Bring it along to the grocery store. Take it with you to work. Let it loose in your home. Take the first step of simply accepting the truth of who are you and sit with that, don’t fight it and see what comes forth. When you get that, turn yourself loose. Let your Ego tend to your needs and your Spirit to shine forth.

    Toxic secrets inevitably poison the spiritual well of our heart. Secrets left buried inevitably take their toll on all our interpersonal relationships and can even make our spiritual quest not a quest at all, but simply another attempt at self-medication and avoidance. Yes, it is true there are many people who are involved in spiritual pursuits who are not there because of the quest, but a there to avoid their life. Spirituality and religion can offer an enticing refuge to avoiding ourselves. Secrets are generally behind the need to hide and we all know there are many places to hide in our lives. Secrets make it so difficult to develop authentic relationships. Toxic secrets interfere with our inner vision. They make us doubt our perceptions. They interfere with our ability to love and be in love and of course to be in relationships. Secrets require immense maintenance and keep so much out of balance.

    For those who grew up suffering in secret silence over physical or sexual abuse, things become even more difficult to manage when we become adults. After all growing knowing somehow that you cannot trust an adult can strongly interfere with the ability to trust our loved ones when we come of age and are in relationships.

    It is never too late to deal with a secret. But also remember secrets are not the subject of talk show confessions. Not everyone ever needs to know your secrets and who you tell them to depends greatly on their content. Some secrets must remain secrets if they might indeed damage others or bring harm to yourself. This where spirituality, the clergy, therapists and anonymous 12 step groups have such potential for healing grace. Secrets unleashed in the wrong context create more toxicity, but secrets carefully thought about and carefully and only shared where appropriate , if at all, create an environment where real growth can begin and flourish.

    Psalm 116:9-”I will walk with the Lord in the land of the living.” The sages immediately ask, “What does King David mean when he wrote the phrase, ‘the land of the living’? Is not our goal in life to ‘walk with the Lord’?

    Rabbi Yehudah in the Talmud explains that the mysterious statement, “the land of the living” means the marketplace. The meaning here is obvious. The marketplace is the only place where spirituality is born and grows. The marketplace of our daily life with other people.

    Spiritual expression does not come from sitting in mediation, chanting on a retreat or finding God through mystical union. How do you know if you are on the path if you simply have an experience? Well King David makes it clear that the only way you know the path is when you are able to walk with it in ‘the land of living.” Anything less is not spiritual.

    Spiritual reality and progress is bound to our ethical behavior and our ability to be with other people. Simple but true. If I speak of heaven by my actions hour hell then my words were meaningless. If I talk about ethics and cheat in business then where am I?

    This by the way makes the choice of who to study with rather easy too. It is not the talks or the writings that matter, but how the spiritual teacher conducts their daily life in the “land of the living ” that makes all the difference.

    We often think that spirituality is somehow part of an ‘otherness.’ Spirit is not ‘other’ for if it is ‘other’ then it is separate. The true spiritual path involves us deeply with other people. It involves us intimately and directly in their lives. It never speaks using terms that are meaningless and vague such as energy or consciousness and the like. It is grounded in the personal and in ethics.

    Spirituality ultimately is always attached to our conduct and our values. This makes things so much more simple. If we find someone who talks of spirit but gossips , is angry, lies, and puts down others then we can ignore their words and pray that they get their life together.

    Spirituality is not found in words but in right conduct.

    Spirituality is found in caring not talking about caring.

    Spirituality is not found in saying I love you , but in loving another directly.

    .

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