Verse 50 of the Tao Te Ching
Between birth and death, three in ten are followers of life; three in ten are followers of death. And men just passing from birth to death also number three in then.
Why is this so? Because they clutch to life and cling to this passing world.
But there is one out of ten, they say, so sure of life that tigers and wild bulls keep clear. Weapons turn from him on the battlefield. Rhinoceroses have no place to horn him, tigers find no place for claws, and soldiers have no place to thrust their blades.
Why is this so? Because he dwells in that place where death cannot enter.
Realize your essence and
you will witness the end without ending.

Talk given June 1, 2014
at Unitarian Universalist Gathering,
Great Barrington, MA
by Rich Hayes

A while ago I got a phone call from a funeral home asking if I would be available to do a service for a 6 month old who died suddenly and totally unexpected. What used to be called crib death but is now known as SIDS. Every parents nightmare!

I flashed back to a time in my own life when I used to sneak quietly into the room and check on my children.

Right now in this very moment, someone somewhere is taking their last breath while someone else is taking their very first one.

I invite each of you to sit here for a moment in silence, recognizing the reality that in this exact moment somewhere a life is beginning ...while another is ending.

Bring your awareness to your own heart-feel its beating. Breathe in the air and notice it filling your lungs.
Right here, right now you are alive. That mysterious power causing your heart to beat is the same power beating all the other hearts everywhere. We are kin-connected in deeply profound ways.

Recognizing this, I invite you to let your heart feel love, and to send this love to those who in this very moment are coming in to, and going out of this world.
Ready? Go.

Did you feel it?? The sacredness of it? The moment…the connection…the awareness? The “Now” of it all- it's the “Present” in the present!

I remember a patient of mine who was approaching the end of his life reflecting on the journey it had all been. One day he said something to me that I’ve never forgotten.
He told me that he’d been thinking back over his life when suddenly everything seemed to shift; he got this sense of himself standing beside a river-everything in the water was moving and flowing and changing, rushing by in this river were all these pieces of his life, everything! All the events-the good the bad, all of it!

I asked him how this felt to him. He told me that it felt Ok-very peaceful; like it’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Then he said to me that maybe we have things all wrong.
He said, “We always think we’re the ones going somewhere-that we’re the ones moving. Maybe we’re just standing still while all the rest of it moves on, going where it all has to go. Maybe the sense of speed and movement is all an illusion. Maybe we are the “one” who watches it all, getting lost in it like you can get lost in a good book or movie…"

On my drive home as I thought of this conversation, the phrase “Be Still and know that I am God….” came to me. Now I'm not one who generally thinks in scripture, but I heard this passage in a new way.

It's in the stillness that we are able to encounter “Something” quite extraordinary, something both beyond us
and within us, and It has always been with us-since our earliest memories. And it has stood (lovingly) observing this whole journey.
No, it's not the voice in your head that sounds like you(that's ego). Rather, it's
That which notices the voice(awareness).

And my sense is that’s what this man was trying to convey to me with words that couldn’t do it justice.

A moment ago, when I asked you to bring your awareness and attention present you may have felt it. What It is, is outside of the normal, everyday, rational-linear mind. It is always there (here)but we are too preoccupied with our busy-ness and distractions, so we miss it.

This experience, this place of connection, peace and stillness, is at the deepest part of our being. It’s the buried treasure within each of us. It is where God – or whatever you wish to call "It"-Divinity, Higher Power, Source, Life, Great Spirit, Soul, the True Self, or 10000 other names- it is there that this undefinable/unquantifiable "Something (which is Not a Thing at All) exists(resides).

Silence is not about naming or defining-it is a place of “being”.

But when we go into this silence, as we just did a few moments ago, our “doing” mind- the linear-rational mind ( THE EGO Mind)-the one that is so engaged
with time, all of the time, jumps in to explain or dismiss with its power of logic, intellect and fear, that this is all just nonsense.
There's nothing really there and that sense or feeling we've had is just our imagination. instantly we doubt the experience we may have just glimpsed. And we stop meditating or praying or doing whatever the practice is that we are trying to do in order to get quiet and connect.

So we need help in “short-circuiting” this tendency of the linear/rational/ ego mind to intervene.

These words from "Transgression and the Return of the Mystical Heart”
by Robert Sardello) may be of use here.
“When we have, at least, entered the Silence, we place our attention at the center of the heart. Heart-attention differs, radically, from thinking about the heart. Try this: look at your foot and pay attention to your foot; it appears to be ‘over there’; you are really thinking about your foot. Then, instead, place your attention within your foot. Notice that this is suddenly something like, ‘Hmmm, the whole world now unfolds from this place of my foot.’ Wherever attention is, there you are.
Become a researcher into your own heart. Just observe, notice, sense the qualities. It is as if you are within a vast, spherical space. Within this space, you cannot find a boundary, no ending. The feeling is one of intimate infinity and infinite intimacy, both at once. There is warmth, all warmth. You feel encompassed, held, embraced; you find that you are within heart rather than heart being ‘inside’ you. It is deep, and when there, you do not want to leave. . . .

This morning I brought your attention to the awareness that life and death IS occurring in this present moment hundreds if not thousands of times. That, along with the news of the sudden death of an infant shook you out of your usual everyday sense of things. It got your attention.

I remember hearing Joseph Campbell say that one of the purposes for the Cathedrals and the mystery of the Mass, as well as so many Mystical practices, was to take people out of their every day mind-set so that they might open to a greater, sacred understanding. These things were “symbolic” of something Greater – something transcendent.
But unfortunately much of this became lost in Dogma and rules and institutional control.

Spiritual activist and teacher, Andrew Harvey calls modern western life the “Coca-Coma”; a place where the trivial has been elevated and the sacred is far too often paved over.

We must remember how to see the Sacred again, because it is here all around us ! As a matter of fact we are swimming in it! Wherever you are It is.

Do you think a fish knows it’s in the ocean?!!

Each of us must begin to find a way to do this-to see with fresh eyes. Once you begin, life will never be the same again. Even in the awful, you will catch glimpses of "awe".

As I often say, it is all about practice. The more you do something, the easier it gets and the better you become doing it. Open your eyes-look at the everyday things and see the miracles lying within them.

Find ways that work for you. But do it. Don’t wait.

We are all connected. Don’t dismiss the power that bringing a feeling of love into you heart has. When you wish others well and bless them-even those you have never met or do not know(or the ones you
do know and don't like!) - you have set in motion the most powerful force there is: Love. It matters. And, although you may not be consciously aware of the change that has happened in the world, trust that it has happened, because it has.

As you do this, the more you do it, the more you will find yourself seeing little glimpses of the sacred during the everyday moments of life. You’ll be walking through the store and see a mother holding a child’s hand, and recognize it. You’ll look up just in time to see a beautiful cloud as it drifts by. You’ll be at concert and that certain, special chord will be played and you’ll hear it in a way you’ve never heard it before.

Scout Cloud Lee wrote: "When we acknowledge that all of life is sacred and that each act is an act of choice and therefore sacred, then life is a sacred dance lived consciously each moment. When we live at this level, we participate in the creation of a better world.”

Know that you are so much more than you realize; don't dismiss the value in taking time each day to focus on love and send this out to the world.There is nothing more powerful than this, and you have the opportunity to help the world by simply remembering this and bringing your attention to it during your day. Remember: we are connected in ways beyond our understanding-that "power" which beats your heart beats all hearts. Take time to connect to the sacred and you will know that what I say is true.

I find it interesting that by turning 2 letters around "scared" becomes "sacred".

As the reading from the Tao reminds us:
Don't be trapped by fear and you will begin to glimpse the sacred, and eventually this will become the way you see all the world and the Greater reality will begin to become your reality.
Thank you.

“Give me a candle of the Spirit, O God, as I go down into the deeps of my being. Show me the hidden things, the creatures of my dreams, the storehouse of forgotten memories and hurts. Take me down to the spring of my life, and tell me my nature and my name. Give me freedom to grow, so that I may become that self, the seed of which you planted in me at my making. Out of the deeps I cry to you, Source of All.