In Chapter 8: 18 Luke quotes Jesus as saying, “Pay attention to how you listen…” The Zen masters used to say that enlightenment could be seen in a person by how he walked, talked and thought. Anyone can cook a meal, but not everyone cooks it in a loving manner. Anyone with the money can build a huge building but how it is built—the quality of the labor and materials put into it, the kind of funding used to build it—tell the real tale. In the how of things lies the soul and the truth, the indicators of integrity, the operating values and the state of consciousness of a person’s mind.
The accompanying stories in Chapter 8 of Luke illustrate the point that faithfulness shows itself in the how of things: how we listen, how we trust, and how we live out that faith in behavior and actions. For example, Jesus was well aware that people responded differently to his message, depending on how they heard it. His explanation of the Parable of the Sower describes in allegory the various outcomes depending on how his message sunk into the mind, was received and allowed to bear fruit. The story of the Woman Healed of a Hemorrhage shows how faith such as her heals while the story of the Calming of the Storm shows how failing faith can sink us, unless saved by Jesus. Jesus placed so much emphasis on how to do things that he even defined his brothers and sisters along these lines: they were the people who did the will of the Father in the manner He did. He becomes the ideal both in which to trust and to imitate. For Christians, He is the how of it. Paying attention to how we do things tells us a lot about ourselves, and one good way to do this is to meditate.
Meditation Asks Us to Pay Attention
Most of us are so caught up in the action to achieve some purpose that we lose track of how we are doing it. This is why learning to meditate by sitting quietly without thinking thoughts often strikes the beginner as a meaningless exercise until he or she wakes up to the fact that it is not so much about listening, seeing and doing as much as it is about how to listen, see and do with loving care, attention, and perseverance as in the model set by Jesus. It means learning to tune out noise and listen for the inner voice of intuitive guidance.
If given the slightest encouragement, most of us—even teenagers who are usually reluctant to talk about what’s going—enjoy talking about our dreams, especially the fun ones like flying or exploring new places. We also like to explore the meaning of a particular dream and get feedback when it is done in a respectful and supportive manner. This practice, especially if carried on regularly and informally in a comfortable setting like breakfast when the previous night’s dream is still fresh in the mind, has the following benefits. It
- Brings kids and their parents together in a conversation to which all can contribute and offer advice.
- Acknowledges that dreams play an important role in our lives and are not just side shows that either entertain or scare us.
- Lets the maturing child know that dreams are not something to fear, repress and forget but are gifts from our sleeping life that want integration into our waking life. They are messages from an important place inside of us which can give us insight on how to problem solve, create and heal.
- Introduces the child to a basic method of working with dreams and other insights from the unconscious which empower that child to draw on and use his or her own inner resources, thus giving the child a competitive edge most kids don’t have in dealing with problems.
In Dead Men Do Tell Tales, Ashlynn initiates the practice of talking to her father about her dreams. Like many people, he doesn’t hold much faith in dreams and in his own way is perhaps afraid of them. Ashlynn, however, has had the advantage of working with a dream mentor who helped her recover from her mother’s death through dreamwork. She knows dreams are important and wants to get her father involved in this important side of her life. She succeeds when her detective father realizes her dreams offer important insights into a crime he is trying to solve.
Luke 7 contains stories that show intuitive understanding at work in the world and show where it is not, and what happens as a result. As the Master, Jesus Himself was capable of a great deal of intuitive love. His empathy, which is the driving force of intuition, picks up on the devastated state of the Widow and compels Him to bring her son back to life.
Consider the stories of the Centurion and the Woman who washes Jesus’ feet. How did they get the insight that Jesus could help them? Luke doesn’t tell us. Theologians would probably say it was the gift given in time of need. This defines intuition exactly—a gift of understanding and awareness given when needed, either for one’s own self or to help another. This gift comes from a source beyond the capabilities of the waking mind and rational thought and it comes when the heart is in the right place: open, caring and loving.
Empathy Sees Into the Heart of the Matter
The Centurion and Woman who washed Jesus’ feet were remarkable but very different people sharing two things in common: somehow they knew that Jesus had miraculous power to help them and their hearts were in the right place.
In the case of the Centurion, from his line of work he understood the nature of authority and command. When an order was given by one authorized to give it, the order was done. But that doesn’t explain how he knew that Jesus had authority like no other, so much so that he didn’t feel qualified to see him anymore than he would feel qualified to stand before the emperor of Rome. However, he was a good man who helped build the synagogue. He had a sick slave he cared a deal about and wanted to help. It may have been the open goodness of own his heart that empathized with Jesus, recognizing in Jesus a commanding goodness that was able to help in a way that he himself would help if he had the power and authority to act in such a way.
In the case of the Woman who washes Jesus’ feet, again we are not told how she knew Jesus was someone in whom she could trust her whole being. We only knew she sensed her sins were forgiven by Jesus’ love and understanding and responded accordingly with great love and gratitude. Her actions show her uninhibited expressions of love, unlike the closed, tight actions of the Pharisee that hosted Jesus. Hers was a heart that was utterly open to love. Perhaps the Woman empathized with the power of Jesus, seeing in Jesus someone who loved and forgave as she was capable of doing.
The Superficiality of Judgment Replacing Empathy
Where empathy is absent, casting judgment based on superficial input rules the day as in the case of the Pharisee who only saw the Woman washing Jesus’ feet as a sinner. It is not surprising then that this Pharisee also did not open his heart warmly to Jesus as his guest. By his own heart not being open, he could not see into the heart of the Woman or the heart of Jesus and acted much like the Pharisees who refused to accept John because this prophet was not dressed in silks and living in a palace.
1) Our Educational System Usually Works Counter-Intuitively
The big irony is that we are already born intuitive, and as small children dwell in a world alive with the insights and wonders of the imaginative mind. It is education itself that often whittles away at our natural instincts by telling us to act rationally and be realistic, whatever that means, trusting only what can be seen with the eye and be proven by statistics. In a sense, it is like asking us to operate on half a brain, seeing things in black and white and ignoring all the shades of gray.
2) Teaching Meditation Goes Far to Bring Along the Child’s Sense of Wonderment into Adulthood
Teaching meditation to teenagers is important at a time when kids are losing that magical state of childhood to the demands of social and peer pressure with the need to conform and measure up. Kids need to know that important aspects of their childhood, like their sense of wonder, their love of stories and oneness with things, is not to be forgotten. Just the opposite, these memories and abilities are meant to be nurtured and brought forward into adulthood. Meditation brings the mind and heart back to the mindset of a child lying under a tree looking up at the clouds with all the time in world gaze at the wonders of the world.
3) Teaching Meditation Gives Teenagers Access to Inner Resources
All of us in life will be faced with uncertainty, and be put in dilemmas where there are no concrete answers or where we are powerless to act based on what is available to the waking mind. In these cases, accessing and gaining intuitive information can go far in making choices that reflect the key values of the person—informing choices that a person can live comfortably with later no matter what the consequences. Dead Men Do Tell Tales is a teen mystery novel where the protagonist, Ashlynn Acosta, learns how meditation can help her in a powerless situation. She discovers resources she didn’t know she had to solve a crime and save a friend.
4) Discovering Inner Resources Builds Confidence and Self-Esteem
Much has been made of the role of parents in building self-esteem and confidence. These are factors coming from without and depend heavily on the child’s relationship to the parents. However, when a child discovers his or her own inner resources and power through meditation, the chances of that new level of self-awareness sinking in are much greater. Here is a case where” seeing is believing” is really true.
The sixth chapter of Luke tells about Jesus picking his disciples and setting the standard for what it means to be his disciples. It is the first thing any great leader does in a given situation: define the operating values which will govern the activity or endeavor at hand. What is being asked of the disciples is that they discard their accustomed ways of viewing the world, their ideas of right and wrong, likes and dislikes and see the world in a whole new topsy-turvy way that can only be understood through the eyes of an open intuitive, loving heart. Logic and our usual calculated ways of thinking strain to understand this new world view.
Jesus presents his standards in the Sermon on the Plain where he clearly states—contrary to what we all have been taught and led to expect by society—that it is the poor, the hungry, the sorrowful and the hated who are blessed. However, none us, if we believe what society thinks, wants to be included among this ragtag lot and so spend much of our lives avoiding being identified with such a group. Instead, we align ourselves with the very group who Jesus calls woe upon: the rich, the well fed, the happy and those with sterling reputations. The questions are 1) why do we do this, and 2) why does Jesus call us to do otherwise?
I think we identify with the rich and well off because we ourselves are afraid of being poor, hungry, sad and hated. We know that deep down inside there are aspects of each of us that feel want, loss and dislike—inner outcasts we all would rather avoid and deny.
Intuition is knowledge arising out of empathy and compassion
It takes an open, loving intuitive heart to understand why Jesus says the poor are blessed. Unlike rational, waking consciousness which separates and divides while delineating likes and dislikes, intuition knows the full spectrum of what it means to be human and sees it all as one. Unlike psychic ability, intuition is a form of profound awareness about another person that arises out of empathy and compassion. When I see someone through an intuitive heart I understand this person is no different from me, and is actually part of me and I am part of her or him in an interconnected, mystical universe. Therefore the intuitive heart sees the other, no matter how strange, awful, disgusting, fearsome, or loathsome as not only someone out there but as someone representing an aspect of myself which needs accepting. When I can accept that in myself, I can accept it in others.
Acting intuitively means reaching out to the outcasts in our own selves and in our neighborhoods
And this is why I believe St. Francis’ defining moment on his spiritual journey was the embracing of the leper. Lepers represented to him everything he feared and loathed. Embracing the leper meant dissolving all that separated him from his own deepest Self and from a group he had previously avoided. People who seriously embark on a spiritual journey at some point must drop their conventional thinking, see the world in a new, intuitive way, and embrace their own leper in order to be at one with their deeper Self and others. Reaching out to and identifying with the poor, bereaved and oppressed are ways to embrace the feared lepers in our own selves. These outcasts hold the key to our own transformation on the spiritual journey
The Biblical witness often has God’s presence inserting itself in the ordinary: The calling of Moses while tending sheep (Exodus 3), Gideon while beating the wheat (Judges 6), Isaiah serving in the Temple (Isaiah 6), and here in Luke 5, Peter while fishing. Do you have any sense of God’s call in your life today? Where is God in your “ordinary” day?
In Luke’s story of Peter called to join Jesus, Peter sees a miraculous occurrence of many fish caught in his net when before there were none. Peter is flabbergasted. Intuitively he knows he stands before a master who can summon the powers of nature. How does the miraculous fit into your calling? What special event or what insight from out of the blue prompted you to turn your life around and follow a new path?
A Defining Moment Often Brings Intuitive Insight
In almost everyone’s life there is a defining moment that closes one door and opens another, where the moment is often underscored by something unusual or serendipitous, either happening on the physical plane or in the intuitive heart, beckoning us in a new direction. At such a moment, intuition often opens up briefly like a flower in its full and glorious bloom, as if to make sure we understand what is being asked us of us.
In my own life, when I first encountered kundalini energy coursing through my body, I experienced a huge opening of my third eye. I saw visions. I saw auras around people and saw energy links between myself and another person. Colors and smells took on a fresh vibrancy. Insights about the purpose of my life and the next steps to take with unwavering certitude, even outlandish ones like packing up my bags and moving to Hawaii, popped into my mind with great urgency. I could not ignore these urges to give up my career and follow a whole new path, despite the great surprise of friends and family. And when I began making the changes, doors opened easily and naturally, offering no resistance.
Fed by Energy
Today, whenever I make choices that support the path I have chosen I feel a certain vibrancy, an energizing and often insightful enthusiasm, which floods over into the work I do and into the people I meet. It’s as if an energy from an outside source, or a deeply inward source, is filling my being so that I can do the work of my calling.