Archive | October, 2013

Escape from the Hotel California

10 Oct

Escape from the Hotel California

The Eagles – Hotel California

http://youtu.be/BjIJGxULpgo

Welcome to the Hotel California, 
Such a lovely place, (Such a lovely place) Such a lovely face
They’re livin’ it up at the Hotel California,
What a nice surprise, (What a nice surprise) Bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceiling,
and pink champagne on ice, and she said:
“We are all just prisoners here,
Of our own device”
And in the master’s chambers
They gathered for the feast,
They stabbed it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was running for the door,
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before,
“Relax,” said the night man, “We are programmed to receive,
You can check out anytime you like… but you can never leave”

Island of the Dead Arnold Böcklin  (Swiss, Basel 1827–1901 San Domenico, Italy)

Island of the Dead
Arnold Böcklin (Swiss, Basel 1827–1901 San Domenico, Italy)

Suffering is acknowledged and discussed in Christianity, Buddhism and many other worldwide faiths. Suffering does endow us with wisdom beyond our years. I think suffering brings us a degree of wisdom, understanding and compassion only available to those who have gone through and come out on the other side. But the key words are to come out from the land of suffering and not stay living there. Let’s not take up residence in our own personal “Hotel Californias.”

Look to find Joy in everyday life. That’s why I Love taking photos. I Love writing poetry, stories and commentaries. As many of my friends, family and co-workers I also have a ridiculous sense of humor. I’ve learned to laugh at myself. I love to hear people’s stories. Not to make fun of them but to find the common points in life that we all share, no matter if we are Christian, Native American, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist. We have to find laughter in the midst of our greatest tragedies, triumphs, victories and even our defeats. Our respective faiths do not ignore or make believe suffering does not exist but our belief systems help us to transcend the mutual trials and tribulations of life.

Let’s look at two different scriptures from the Holy Bible that deal with suffering. Let’s also keep in mind that Biblical scriptures also have a historical and social context. While Biblical characters may or may not have been actual living people the dilemmas, emotions, and feelings are very real and very concrete.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9

New International Version (NIV)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

We are all a little broken. The cracks & chips cannot always be hidden nor should they be. We wear our scars like Warriors. These are the battle wounds that give us character and grace for living. Suffering can produce clarity of the mind, purity of the soul, and a different perspective on living.  At one time or another have we not all been Fallen Angels looking to be restored to the Kingdom?

 

Psalm 42

New International Version (NIV)

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

 

The people portrayed in the Bible aren’t Super Heroes. They are everyday folks like you and me. If they did not have the foibles and fragilities of the human condition we could not and would not be able to relate on our level. Times change and the modern world has encroached upon our 21st lives but we still possess the same frailties’ and vulnerabilities of soul and spirit as our Biblical ancestors. They are real people with real problems. Sometimes they achieve good solutions sometimes they mess up totally but provide an example for us of what not to do.

I agree with the Buddha’s teachings that becoming too attached to anything, idea or philosophy can lead to suffering. However suffering in and of itself is not a character flaw. In fact some suffering helps to build your character and gives you a greater ability for compassion. That being said there is external suffering which happens through no fault of our own and there is self-imposed suffering caused by bad decisions and errors in judgment.

While watching a TV show about the late writer, author and playwright Tennessee Williams I felt such sorrow that a man with so much talent was derailed from a productive pathway.

He did have plenty of success with such plays as, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and many other famous plays and stories, however he was done in by the effects of a dysfunctional family, depression about his mentally ill sister Rose, and eventually he was done in by drugs and alcohol. The suffering he felt regarding his sister Rose was the sadness and frustration of seeing a beloved sibling encased within the walls of mental illness and being powerless to help her. His internal self-imposed suffering was caused by bad choices regarding substance abuse.

I too am a writer and author but through my Christian faith and Buddhist practice I will avoid the path of destruction that seems to plague many famous, writers, musicians, actors, and artists.

Suffering should invite self-examination of our lives. Are we repeating destructive patterns in our lives? Am I living right? Am I a blessing towards others? Do I negate others feelings or emotions just because they may not be in line with my own experience. In addition to prayer what are some practical hands-on ways I can help my sisters and brothers in need. Am I so fixed into my own suffering that I’m allowing “Wounded Soldiers in the Household of Faith” to fall on the battle ground.

The ultimate question is, “Is it time for us to change course?”

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