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I Am The Face That Nobody Wants to See

10 Aug

Now I See as I Am Seen ~ I Am The Face No one Wants to See

DeBorah ~ MMC 2002 Grad

DeBorah ~ Marymount Manhattan College 2002 Graduation

I am the face of Mental Illness in America. The face that nobody wants to see. The face that people wish would go away. For years I tried to deny my illness which is hereditary.  I’ve had it since I was a teenager. But I just want people to know that I’m the person sitting next to you on the subway, bus, in church, temple, at your job; next to you in the Shopping Mall, walking down the street, enjoying a day in the park, having fun at a club or concert, the Veteran who served her country, the Woman who graduated Cum Laude from College while fighting unseen demons.

I am the Face of Domestic Violence.  I am the Face of Sexual Abuse.

Yes I’m one of the Everyday People.  Sometimes I feel as though I’m living in a Dystopian Universe. My own personal Hunger Games, bodies falling all around me. Yet I the Damaged Battle Scarred Warrior fight on.  One of Jephthah’s Daughters, I Refuse to be stigmatized because of the Stigmata I bear.  The Bread of Heaven Sustains Me.

I’ve taken measures to remove Toxic people and Naysayers from my Life.  I’ve formed a New Family since the one I was born into abandoned me.  Yes this is my Thorn in the Flesh and I Own it. Some battles I win. Some I lose. But throughout my life I remain me. Not ashamed of who I am or how I go about living my life.  No excuses. No apologies. Just me. Only those going through the Fire truly understand.

I AM!  I AM!!   I AM!!!

 

Palm Sunday Testimony and Praise Report

13 Apr

Testimony and Praise Report

Despite the fact that my stomach was acting up all last night and I got very little sleep I was determined to attend Palm Sunday service. My original plan had been to go into Manhattan but I changed that because with tummy troubles and subway delays I felt I should stick close to home. Even with insomnia and pain something inside me was so excited about today. When I made my right turn down Fulton St. I said Lord guide my feet and show me where to worship today. I briefly stopped at one of the many storefronts Churches lining Fulton Street but the Lord had me keep walking until I arrived at Pleasant Grove Tabernacle. You guys know I’m not much of a church goer but today I was lead to go and I’m glad I did. My late Beloved Aunt Helen Garcia had been on my mind and I think it was her who was prodding me from beyond the veil.

High School Graduation 1977

Aunt Thelma, me & Aunt Helen Garcia

I arrived in time to hear the last part of Sunday School. The congregation is very friendly. At once I felt very comfortable. Like most churches you get a program so you can follow the service but God had other things in mind and I’m very happy that Bishop Albert L. Jamison, Sr. went with the flow. Praise and Worship developed into prayers for healing. Now keep in mind though I’ve lived in Brooklyn over a year, I’ve never been to Pleasant Grove Tabernacle before neither have any of these people seen or met me. Folks were dancing in the Spirit and Bishop Jamison came down from his pulpit and began to pray for various individuals. He prayed for me and one of the Deaconess prayed also. As I said before nobody knew my condition but that sister prayed especially for healing! God Knew! I’ve been fighting not only physical troubles but battling emotional ones. Today was one giant Healing Service. Sisters suffering from cancer, depression and other ailments were ministered to. During the service Bishop had clergy and congregation hold each other by the shoulders and pray. Once again another different Sister came to me and prayed. A dam burst and I cried. A burden was lifted from me. We all also had the opportunity to go up for additional prayer from Bishop and to be anointed with oil. I went. Now that evil spiritual force was banished from my mind. I left church thinking right, acting right and rejoicing.

However my heart goes out to Karyn Washington who committed suicide at age 22 earlier this week. Those of us who are older have a frame of reference, we know that life does get better but of course we all need help. Maybe Karyn was ashamed to say she was depressed. Perhaps the burden myth of the “Strong Black Woman” was too much for her. I know how she feels. I’ve been there. I was young once upon a time but thanks to strong parents, caring Aunts and a solid spiritual base I made it. Please everyone let’s make our Churches, Temples, Mosques, Synagogues, and other places of Worship caring networks where people young and old can run to for help and guidance. Remove the Stigma of depression, panic attacks, anxiety and other mental illnesses. Be somebody who cares. May God rest your soul Karyn Washington.  May all who suffer find sanctuary.

http://blackdoctor.org/442252/karyn-washington-black-suicide/?omcamp=es-bdo-nl&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Black%20Doctor%20Subscribers&utm_campaign=Lifestyle

 

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?”

The Legacy of Hattie Finney Banks

10 Aug

 

Secret

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/secret/#like-244527

Would you have kept this secret for two generations? Maybe my Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks kept secret the fact that my grandfather Hugh Banks killed my Great Grandfather Daniel Finney (Hattie’s Dad) so that she could keep her sanity.  Guilt, embarrassment, shame, humiliation. I’m sure in the beginning after the murder it was all there deep within her soul, mind and spirit. But My Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks kept the secret so she could raise her three daughters (one of whom Mable was to become my mother) in relative peace, quiet and safety without passing this terrible haunting to future generations.  No judgment from me, only understanding.

 

The Legacy of Hattie Finney Banks

Hattie Finney Banks

Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks

Hattie Finney was born Feb. 1905 in the poor coal mining hamlet of Davy, West Virginia.  A real looker in her youth blessed with a great sense of fashion and good taste Hattie though living in poverty was able to enhance her beauty through thrift and the ability to create something out of nothing.

With African and Sioux blood running through her veins her beauty soon caught the eye of the young men in the town. One named Hugh Banks seemed to have good prospects. Hugh like her Hattie’s dad Daniel R. Finney worked as a janitor. Not a high living job but one that could support a wife and future children. It also didn’t hurt that he was a strong strapping young man who was easy on the eyes.

They married sometime in the late 1920s when Hattie was in her early 20s looking forward to a bright future. Their first born child Mable Banks, (My Mom) was born May 2, 1930, and then came Helen on September 13, 1931 and finally Gladys on May 2, 1935. However as time progressed and the marriage wore on the initial first joys of wedded bliss gave way to drinking and horrible physical abuse from her husband Hugh. He regularly stayed out late getting drunk, spending the food and rent money on booze. A spirit of anger possessed him and he took out all the days slights on Hattie and their young children. Hattie always put herself between Hugh and the kids when he went on these violent tirades taking the brunt of the physical beatings and verbal abuse.

Finally on April 30, 1939 after a particularly horrible beating Hattie couldn’t take it anymore. In fear of her life she grabbed her three little girls and ran to the shelter of her parents’ house not far away. A very drunk Hugh Banks in hot pursuit of his wife followed her and demanded that Hattie and the girls return home with him. Hattie’s Dad, Daniel James Finney told Hattie to stay indoors while he went out to confront Hugh. Daniel Finney seeing Hugh in a violent drunken rage refused to allow his daughter and granddaughters to go with Hugh. An argument ensued and Hugh took out a pistol shooting Daniel Finney in the chest killing him instantly. Daniel’s brother Charlie Finney saw the murder, called the police and Hugh Banks was arrested.

Hattie and her mother Mary were devastated and in addition for many years Hattie carried the burden of guilt and shame that if she had not ran back to her parents’ house for protection perhaps her Dad, a strong healthy man would have lived even longer than his age of 75 years at the time of the shooting. Her choices haunted her for a long time but at least she found peace knowing that she had protected her three innocent young daughters and pride in the great love her Dad had for his family laying down his life for them.

Newspaper Clipping of the Murder

Daniel Finney Murder Newspaper Clipping

My Grandmother strong in her Baptist Faith eventually forgave her wayward husband supplying the information for my grandfather’s death certificate after his untimely death in prison from tuberculosis at age 30. No one from my grandfather’s family came to claim the body and he is buried  in the Potters Field attached to the prison.

Hugh Banks Death Certificate

Grandfather Hugh Banks Death Certificate

Daniel James Finney

Daniel James Finney Death Certificate

Shortly after the trial my Great Uncle Clarence came for Hattie and her daughters taking them to Dayton, Ohio where my mother grew up and later met and married my Dad Edward G. Palmer a union of 40 years that produced me and my brother Stephen.

Fast forward to the year 2000 when by then both my parents and my grandmother had gone onto glory. I met my common-law husband who like my grandmother’s relationship with her husband started off with great dreams and hope for the future but gradually deteriorated into an abusive relationship from which I too sought escape. For our final year together when the emotional, physical and psychological abuse was at its worst I prayed to God that this man would leave me and he did. He left me for a younger woman. A sigh of relief. A burden lifted from my shoulders. However though his physical presence was gone his psychological presence was rooted in my mind and soul. Though I had forgiven him it took years to dig up the roots and weeds of self-doubt and self-hate he had planted within me. Spirit never fails and after a brush with death from a minor stroke at age 49 and being Blessed to see 50 I began to experience a Change of Life. Not just from menopause which began physical changes within my body but spiritual and emotional changes. During all this upheaval my ancestors were with me, guiding me every step of the way. Each succeeding year as I progress through my 50s has brought me greater enlightenment and spiritual growth. Once I made the decision to answer my calling in this life doors open, thus here I am today to carry forward my Grandmother’s Legacy and be a blessing to survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

But unbeknownst to my Grandmother and Great Grandmother a little girl cowering in front of a dusty little used attic window had peered out becoming an eyewitness to her Grandfather’s being shot to death by her Dad. Mable was always the quiet one of the three girls who took in many things but let out little.  As the Bible says  of conversations concerning Mary and Jesus, Mable Finney Banks was a small girl who took in and absorb all the things around her and pondered them in her heart……………….  From now on the events of that day would follow her all through childhood, young womanhood, and as a married woman with children and as she battled her own demons of schizophrenia. I shall take up Mable’s story in the next segment.

Thank you Sisters and be Blessed!

.

.

Learning to Encourage Myself

18 Apr

How to Encourage Yourself

Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers

http://youtu.be/JbEaftzaFWA

Black Unicorn Rainbow

Black Unicorn moving towards the Rainbow

Extreme anger, panic attacks, uncontrollable crying and/or apathetic/zombie like fluctuations are defense mechanisms produced by our damaged psyches to protect ourselves emotionally. Just after I separated from my abuser in 2007 I went through a gamut of emotions. I was extremely high strung, angry and would lash out sometimes at total strangers. Now I do realize that a lot of that was a form of PTSD, stress and hormones since I had started to go through the Change of Life. Many times I felt like Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde. Other than my estrogen going wild I believe the basis of my negative emotions was fear. Fear causes the fight or flight response and unfortunately I often got angry at the wrong people. However once I stood up to my inner demons and toxic family/co-worker bullies I began to feel better. I realized I had options. I did not have to feel this way. Another therapy for me was and is writing.

I wrote about all my emotions; the good, the bad and the ugly. There were times when I wanted to kill myself. I wrote an entire heart wrenching story on all the evil locked up inside my head. Words gave that insanity somewhere to go so it would not destroy me. I became stronger. Then this year more healing came, peace came through being a part of V-Day/1 Billion Women Rising and through joining groups that focus on domestic violence and sexual assault. Then I saw that my trials and tribulations were not in vain and not for my destruction but for the upliftment of not only me but all women who are going through and have gone through this horrible experience. I’m here to encourage and support. We Lean on and draw strength from each other. We Find Sanctuary among and within our tribe.  Love is a Helping Hand and a listening ear.

Bill Withers — Lean On Me

http://youtu.be/QPoTGyWT0Cg

Sometimes I still have panic attacks but they do not last as long nor are they as powerful or as strong as before because I’m able to defuse them. I tell myself that this fear I feel at the moment is only that, a temporary moment in time. I’m made of survivor and victory stock. Some of my ancestors settled the Americas, most came from Africa, and survived the middle passage, slavery, Jim Crow and all other types of bullshit. My ancestors lift me up above the fray. Then my genetic memory recalls that I am descended from the Queens of Mother Africa. I carry within me the DNA of women who sat on the thrones of Egypt, Ethiopia & Mozambique. They reigned and I reign. I’m stronger than my flaws, weakness and shortcomings. I’m an Overcomer. I’m stronger and more powerful than the words of deceit, anger and hate my ex- the abuser tried to sow into my soul. I will no longer allow his words of defeat to take root within my mind. Now I listen to, absorb and plant the words of my maternal ancestors within my soul, my psyche and my spirit. Courage, Boldness and Determination grows and manifests itself to and for my SisterFriends!

Judith Beheading Holofernes

Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Not perfect but able to move through the pain. I do not deny the pain but I refuse to give pain, sorrow, sadness or depression any authority in my life. I walk in my authority as a Victor not a victim.  I will not allow my life to spiral out of control. I don’t have to live in defeat. I have choices. I have options. Living my life like it’s Golden!

Donations and Freewill offerings can be made directly to my PayPal account deborah.palmer280@gmail.com. Thank you and God Bless

Anger and The 3 Ts — Trials, Troubles & Tribulations

16 Sep
Ten Lepers

Ten Lepers were healed, one only one return to give Thanks.

 

ANGER

USUALLY FROWNED UPON AND COUNTED AS ONE OF THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS DOES IN SPITE OF its BAD RAP SERVE A PROTECTIVE PURPOSE. People who don’t get angry on the outside are really boiling mad inside which cause depression which in turn brings on diseases like migraines, high blood pressure, diabetes, and the like.

ANGER

Turned against innocent outsiders’ results in long term incarcerations among the perpetrators, bad relationships with family and friends and sometimes when an argument escalates beyond control the combatants may find themselves being taken to the hospital or to prison.

ANGER

Used to get to the root of a problem separating disparate elements can have positive outcomes if the therapist or interventionists can get the troubled self-destructing members to reach an understanding that continued bad choices will produce the same self-defeating results.

Challenges in the form of Trials, troubles and tribulations bring out the strength that is already in you. No outside force or power can help you if you don’t first help yourself. Once you make the determination within your heart everything else will fall into place. It’s like the character of the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. He sought what was within him all the time. All he had to do was face his fears even while being afraid. Once he realized that the Wizard was a charlatan he knew that the power resided in him all along. God is always with us and he never leaves us, sending His angels to smooth the pathway but allowing us to discover the power that lies within all of us. Rise up and take your place as a Rightful Citizen of Planet Earth!  We are the only hands God has on this earth to stop violence against women, girls or even pets. Make your house or home a sanctuary for one who has fallen off the straight path. Let’s create a friendly island of peace for our girl children. A Place of no judgement where they can be free to be themselves without shame, scorn or rebuke.

Jesus our Way Shower taught us how to be strong and that there is no shame in asking for help if you need it. Jesus gives many examples and situations which cause our strength to rise up within us. We are called to civil disobedience and to right wrongs within our community.

In Matthew 21:12-13 Jesus threw the money changers and sellers out of the temple.

 Matthew 21:12-13

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus at the Temple

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[a] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.

Matthew 21:12-13

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus at the Temple

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

Jesus Calls Herod a Sly Fox

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’” (Luke 13:31-32)
____________________________________________________________

Jesus calling Herod a fox catches us a little off guard here. Did Jesus really call people names? Yes, when appropriate. He did not do it to hurt people’s feelings or out of childish anger or to be unkind. But Jesus called a spade a spade.

What did he mean by calling Herod a fox? A fox is a small, weak, wily animal that lives by cunning rather than strength. Jesus was drawing attention to Herod’s crafty, treacherous side. Herod was not a man worthy of trust or respect. He divorced his wife to marry his own niece, who happened to be his own brother’s wife. He beheaded John the Baptist because of a foolish promise made at a birthday party. He was a man of weak character who used his political power for selfish ends.

Now, we need to be careful here. As Christians we are called to love, forgive, forbear and be courteous to others. We should not go around calling people names as a general rule. Jesus rarely did. But there are times when we also must call a spade a spade. Sometimes a thief needs to be called a thief; the unfaithful spouse must be called an adulterer; the pornographer needs to be called perverted. There are times when evil must be confronted and named. There are times when Herod must be called a fox. Originally Posted by Ray Folwer

Jesus and the Woman taken in Adultery

John 8:1-11

New International Version (NIV)

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

A new ministry for girls called Jephthah’s Daughters has been birthed. Please send donations and contributions to help young girls between the ages of 4 to 17 in need via PayPal to deborah.palmer280@gmail.com. The young ladies will receive care packages and counseling. Rest assured that you are supporting a good cause that will lift up young women who have been abandoned and neglected by their birth families.  Thank you.

Donations and Freewill offerings can be made directly to my PayPal account deborah.palmer280@gmail.com

Seeker and Savior

3 Sep

Seeker and Savior

Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha and Jesus the Christ

“When I know the glass goblet is already broken every moment with it becomes precious.”Paraphrased from documentary film The Buddha”

2 Corinthians 4:7 (New King James Version)

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, which the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

Deval Premal

http://youtu.be/o4jx3sukfLM        

Live your life by Spirit

Live your life by Spirit

Siddhārtha Gautama was a seeker on the pathway to self-enlightenment.  He sought to reclaim the peace inside himself when said peace was disturbed when he saw poverty, sickness and evil. Siddhartha left the comforts of his palace, his wife and his newborn baby to seek out spiritual answers to life’s challenges.   Siddhartha Gautama’s journey is a Vision Quest of self-actualization.

Jesus was the fulfillment of the law and the gateway to abundance and eternal life for all people.  Jesus in his mission on Earth was and is the answer.  Both were the sons of Kings but each was on a different mission. Jesus knew his destiny; however Siddhartha had to discover his.

Both men once they started their ministry were interested in the everyday life trials and tribulations of the common people. In the ages when they were called Siddhartha Gautama Buddha and Jesus represented the Heroic Voice and the Noble Quest through the dark enchanted forest. They were Divine Nomads on a Divine Journey. Both sought oneness with the Beloved.

No matter what faith system we follow we are all called to be in the world but not to be part of the world systems. We are here as a light, a beacon of hope, a lighthouse for fellow seekers and travelers.  Many times during our journey the test comes and we wonder where I can be weak and wear my heartbreak on my sleeve.

Holy music is a sanctuary and a type of refuge.  The Sanctuary is freedom from the unrighteous bigots who cannot or will not accept the message of the prophet. Then there is the sanctuary of the suffering and suffering was not hidden from Jesus. Growing up as a simple Carpenter he would have seen and encounter all manner of suffering people.

  • “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)
  • “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14)
  • “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)
  • Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15)

Siddhartha Gautama Buddha disillusioned by the hollowness and spiritual emptiness found within the safety and splendor of his royal kingdom sought to find the cause for suffering.  Siddhartha Gautama though that by joining with other ascetics or renouncers he would become closer to God or rather receives answers to questions that were troubling his mind. The only accomplishment from this course in life was continually being hungry and thirsty and mostly trying to outdo your fellow ascetics.  The only revelation able to come through this holiness competition was the sin of pride.

Such harsh methods focus only on what and individual is missing, not getting any closer to God but in total concentration of the absence of comfort or pleasure.  The more we try to mortify the flesh the more we see we cannot transcend the body while existing in this earthly realm.  Deprivation as practiced by some ascetics or mystics and prophets is not necessarily the best spiritual path for the average seeker.  Some austerity is necessary so that we are not consumed by the material world but to isolate and deny our very human bodies the daily necessities can open the door wider to a sense of failure or discouragement.  We must try to find balance in our lives.  At one end is the ascetic, at the other end the hedonist/sensualist.  Most of us flow best in the middle ground with occasional visits to the polar ends.  Separated from our source we yearn to return.

As prophets and/or enlightened beings both the Buddha and Jesus had similar universal themes of overcoming temptation, a wilderness experience with the tempter, both mystics emerged triumphant.  Realization that the Kingdom of God is within us enabled these two very different men, who lived in different time periods, from different cultures, in different parts of the world to have similar spiritual revelations which now have millions of adherents worldwide.

Bliss or self-actualization comes with accepting our interconnectedness with the world, yet not being of the world.  Subconsciously we are all craving with a burning desire to become one with the Beloved.  This craving may lead us down several spiritual and secular pathways during our lifetimes before we achieve our own individual enlightenment.  As a Christian I take refuge in the scriptural jewels offered to me within the Biblical scriptures, yet not discounting other belief systems or spiritual pathways.  As I explore many different faiths side by side with my own I find more similarities than differences.  Like my Buddhist sisters and brothers I find sanctuary in the Love of God, the teachings of Jesus, and various pastors, evangelists, or teachers who have a more extensive knowledge of the Bible than me, who can help me increase my understanding of scripture.  With that said as believers in any denomination we must study the scriptures for ourselves rightly dividing the word of truth so we are not carried away with doctrines of false prophets.  Beware those who misuse and misconstrue God’s Divine Word for their own personal profit and gain.

I can truly say the Bible speaks to me.  What does your holy scriptures say to you?  Like many of the faithful I find comfort in rites, rituals, ceremonies and sacraments of my church.  It’s familiar.  It’s comforting.  If suddenly I attended church one Sunday and everything was out of sequence I would definitely be uncomfortable, wonder what was going on and if I was in the right church.  However too much restrictive structure and adherence to doctrine and dogma can inhibit the spiritual growth of the congregation for this reason many people turn to secular and social organizations that offer morals, values and intellectual growth without the mythology.  Churches, social organizations and clubs also satisfy the need for companionship and fellowship.  As human beings we need to belong to a body of people with similar interests, goals and desires.  We desire a place to fit in and be accepted for who we are as individuals.  Churches, social organizations, clubs, guilds and professional organizations offer a type of safe space or sanctuary where we receive positive reinforcement that enables us to cope with the not so positive chapters in our lives.

Traveling other Wisdom Pathways

Recently I attended Hindu church service for followers of Sri Sathya Sai Baba at the Manhattan Center located at 30 East 31st Street in New York City. At first I was hesitant when my girlfriend asked me to accompany her to her service because those old voices of narrow mindedness assailed me causing doubt to creep into my mind as to whether it would be the right thing to do. Also I wondered if it would just be other Indian people and I would be the outsider. Not so, on both accounts. Initially I had only intended to stay five or ten minutes but I was drawn in by the praise and worship music and the words of the guest speaker who had journeyed all the way from India to share wisdom as given by the late Sai Baba. After his presentation there was a ritual very similar to communion in which I shared. I was very glad to have attended this service and look forward to worshipping again with the congregation. My girlfriend did her best to explain what was going on and to share literature with me. As we walked to Penn Station together discussing religion in general and the things of God in particular I felt a peace, calm, and centeredness that I had not felt in a long time.

It is far removed from my Baptist upbringing and Bible teachings but at the same time there are many similarities between Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the teachings of Jesus. After the service my girlfriend presented me with two of the roses that had lain upon the altar, which I duly took home and placed into a vase with water. Several hours later it struck me that one of the redemptive names of Jesus is the “Rose of Sharon”. Wow! My mind immediately went to “The Song of Solomon” the Bible’s romance book. The Song of Solomon explicitly expresses the desire between two lovers but on a deeper level the love of Jesus for his bride, the church.

Hindu, Buddhist, Hebrew, Christian, Sufi Muslim all have their mystical sages who are calling us closer to God. Are you listening?

God is sending other Angels with voices who invite thought amongst the congregation.  Come Let us Reason Together.  No matter how many hungry people fed, naked clothed or lessons trained still our only desire is to become one united with the Beloved.

Beloved Transcended

Divine fragrant Lotus Rose petals fell upon the body of the ascended one and the veil was rent from top to bottom.  We his followers make pilgrimage to the Holy City in remembrance of Him.

Excerpt from the poem “One Whisper of the Beloved” by Rumi

In truth, everyone is a shadow of the Beloved –
Our seeking is His seeking,
Our words are His words.

At times we flow toward the Beloved
like a dancing stream.
At times we are still water
held in His pitcher.
At times we boil in a pot
turning to vapor –
that is the job of the Beloved.

He breathes into my ear
until my soul
takes on His fragrance.
He is the soul of my soul –
How can I escape?
But why would any soul in this world
want to escape from the Beloved?

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