Why Do We Avoid Suffering?

sufferingThis week I have found great comfort in the story of King David and Shimei. I was reminded of the story by a friend, and I am very grateful. Read more here: http://michaelhyatt.com/why-leaders-cannot-afford-to-be-easily-offended.html

I have an exercise I go through whenever I am upset with someone. It’s not an easy exercise, but very effective at generating compassion in my heart.

  • Do I want (blank) to apologize for hurting me, or for the opportunity to defend his/her actions?
  • Do I want (blank) to ask forgiveness, or do I pray for him/her to know that because of the log in my eye, it is difficult to see the speck in his/her eye?
  • Do I wish for the person who hurt me or for others to see how hurt I am, or do I attempt to cover it up as God calls me to hide my fasting?

The Way Of The Nous

Someone recently pointed out that the people from the tower of Babel were not bad people. Their intention to reach God was a good thing. They just happened to go about it the wrong way.

My friend was using this analogy to help me understand accessing the nous. The importance should not be placed on living from your heartspace. But, rather how you live from your heartspace. Are we living from there with humility and love, or pride and arrogance?

I speak from experience of both. It is written that one of the main differences between the two is prayer and fasting.

Prayer and fasting has been found by many religions, not just Christianity, to help someone or even be neccessary for progress.

May we believe in truth whether we want to or not.

Humility

As an Orthodox Christian I am called to have humility in all parts of my life.  For the past for days I have had a fever over 100 and my family has as well.

It is difficult to practice humility when it feels like my family is suffering unnecessarily.  It is easier to give in to anger and frustration. As I was doing my morning prayers this morning I realized that humility is exactly what I need right now to help my family recover from this illness.

It was not the morning prayer that was important.  It was the obedient morning prayer said from my heart that made the difference.

Some Call The Heart

The Church Fathers often referred to the nous as the heart. According to St. Paul, the heart is the place of man’s spirit, and the Spirit of God bears witness to our spirit.

Therefore, it is in our hearts that we should seek the wisdom of God, where he bears witness to us. That is why man’s heart is noetic. Man’s heart is intelligent, communicative, and has reason and logic.

And yet it is only noetic for those who take care of it.

May we nurture our hearts to have a clean and right spirit within us.

“Sinking down is when we get out of our head and look at life from our heart” – Spoken by my wife Katie Roberts, the inspiration for my words and the bearer of a beautiful spirit.

The Runner’s Nous

I took a short break from running after the marathon in December. Last week I was back up to 7 miles.

Around mile 3 or 4 I realized I was back in my heart space. I started thinking about other runners sinking down and wondered if this is part of the addiction.

I have actively participated in many sports, but there are few that let you be alone with yourself for long periods of time.  Take away the ipod, the radio, and a running buddy and you have to face who you are on a long run.

Some of my best decisions have come from a long run. I didn’t realize at the time, but it was because I was viewing the decision from my nous.

May you appreciate finding out who you are when you are all alone.

“Sinking down is when we get out of our head and look at life from our heart” – Katie Roberts

More Than Verbal

How often do we verbally take on a responsibility but never follow through with our commitment?

Many years ago I took on a role at my church without understanding the responsibility that came with it. Please understand my intentions were true and of God, but I had failed to properly prepare for the job.

Not long ago I revisited my role and began to investigate it with the fervor of a fresh student. I was amazed at what I found and also embarrassed.

My role in the church comes with a serious responsibility to pray and read scriptures every day of my life. I have not fulfilled my commitment. I am now gladly accountable for my role.

This daily commitment has helped me recognize the eye of my soul. On the days that I fulfill my commitment I find I take better care of my nous.

May your day be blessed with reflection and wisdom.

Cleaning House

Awhile back when I discovered that my heart space was neglected, I knew exactly what I needed to do.

With immediate energy I decided to clean up the place. Now I know some of you may argue that I am looking at this situation from my head instead of my heart. I would have agreed with you in the beginning, until I realized that I needed to prepare my heart space. So, yes, from an intellectual perspective I decided to prepare my heart space.

The first thing I did was drain the pool. I discovered beautiful blue tile underneath and began scrubbing and rinsing the filth away. Once the pool was clean I knew the only thing I wanted to refill it with was Holy Water.

After the pool was full I took a look at the red clay caked everywhere.  First I installed a drain in the middle of the room and then installed a sprinkler system in the ceilings. I lit a candle which activated the sprinkler system. After all the clay washed away I enjoyed standing in the middle of a beautiful silver laced chamber with an opening in front of me the size of door.

When I look through that door peace surrounds me. It does not mean everything is ok, but I know that everything will be ok and that there is an intelligent plan.  I just needed my soul to pay attention. Now I know that door is the eye of my soul.

Letting Go

Anger and frustration can quickly move me out of my heart space.

Recently I was very angry with someone and my wife said she could see the transition of my thoughts moving from my heart space to my head.

I realized that most of my frustrations (not all) happen in my head. It is easier to forgive from our heart space where we can forget all of the details of what has made us upset and focus on the meat of the situation.

I used to be somebody that was never offended or hurt by people. But, the more vulnerable we make ourselves the easier it is to get hurt.

I now have a rule to move into my heart space immediately whenever someone I care about has hurt me. It gives me clarity on the situation and I can even try to see it from their perspective. This insight has been invaluable in maintaining close relationships.

Letting go does not mean we have to trust them ever again. I loved it when Andy Andrews said, “Forgiveness is about the past, trust is about the future.”

It is with forgiveness and humility that I can repeatedly reach for purity of heart.

“Sinking down is when we get out of our head and look at life from our heart.” Spoken By My Wonderful Wife Katie Roberts

The Dark Pool

Whenever I am trying to keep myself on track I close my eyes and picture my nous. The first time I did this, I imagined that I was physically inside my heart. When I looked around there was a small pool, about the size of a fountain, with black water. At first glance I took it for what it was, a dark pool. I had neither positive or negative feelings toward the pool. I was not even sure the purpose of the pool or if there was water inside or some other mysterious oily substance.

I have been “visiting” my nous for just over a year now. Every time I would find it looking exactly as I described above. After the marathon I decided to take a closer look and try to determine some meaning out of the pool.

Within a few days I realized that my heart space had been neglected and ignored to the point of being almost abandoned. I discovered the dark pool was black from the dirt that I was trying to wash out of my nous. How long had it been black? How long has my heart space been neglected?

The gravity of the dark pool took days to settle into my analytical brain. Its’ true meaning was always there, I had just been ignoring it for far too long. It was the font that I was baptized in. A way to cleanse the dirt and stains. It was my Psalm 51, “wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”

I now had a new goal: to attain a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.

Sinking Down

A few weeks ago I ran a marathon in Huntsville, AL. That is a full 26.2 miles. There is a fine line between stupidity and determination.

Around mile 11 I realized that I was not thinking with my head, but rather my heart.  In that moment an idea popped into my head “I want to know what it would feel like to really connect to God.”

So I literally asked the question, “What would it feel like to really connect to God?”  The next few moments are still a blur, but I will give the best description I can. I felt an immediate shock in my chest of such intensity that I was not able to breathe.  It was not negative or unpleasant in any way. As the intensity faded and my breathing returned, I realized that God had granted my wish. Or rather, I got out of my own way.

I started thinking about sinking down out of my head and into my heart, or what I call the nous (sounds like noose). I believe man’s heart (soul) is intelligent and noetic. To read more visit http://orthodoxwiki.org/Nous.

What would it feel like if I started viewing more and more of my life from my nous? This journey has been neglected far too long. To help me start my journey I am reading Discovering Your Spiritual Center by David Teems.

“Sinking down is when we get out of our head and look at life from our heart.”