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SACRED READINGS ARCHIVE
Readings selected by: Rev. Hamid Cecil Touchon - Sermon Delivered by: Rev. Hamid Cecil Touchon
Upanishads -- Trans. Swami Prabhavananda
'Mundaka' Upanishad, page 66
"The Lord is the one life shining forth from every creature. Seeing him present in all, the wise man is humble, puts not himself forward. His delight is in the Self, his joy is in the Self, he serves the Lord in all. Such as he, indeed, are the true knowers of Brahman."
The Dhammapada, chapter 4, 'Flowers', verse 7
"Pay no attention to harsh words uttered by others. Do not be concerned with what others have or have not done. Observe your own actions and inactions."
Tao Teh Ching, Chapter 49
trans. by John C. H. Wu
"The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own.
He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind.
He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful.
In the midst of the world the sage is shy and self-effacing.
For the sake of the world he keeps his heart in its nebulous state.
All the people strain their eyes and ears: the sage only smiles like an amused infant."
Native American Tradition
'Words of Power' Geronimo, 1886 (page 8)
"There is one God looking down on us all. We are all children of the one God. God is listening to me. The sun, the darkness, the winds, all are listening to what we now say."
Ezekiel, chap. 7, verse 27
"I mean to treat them as their conduct deserves, and judge them according to their own judgments."
Book of James, Chapter 4; verses 11-12
"Brothers, you must never belittle one another. He who belittles a brother or passes judgment on his brother belittles the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not keeping it but sitting in judgment upon it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save life and destroy it. So who are you to judge your neighbor?"
The Tradition of Islam
Qur'an 'Cattle' Verse 125 ( Trans. Arberry)
"Whomsoever Allah desires to guide, he expands his heart unto the Surrender;
whomsoever He desires to lead astray,
He makes his heart narrow, tight,
as if he were climbing to heaven.
So Allah lays abomination upon those who do not believe."
The Gayan of Hazrat Inayat Khan
"Take oneself to task instead of putting faults on others."
Sermon on Judgmentalness
This sermon came together rather easily once I got started and then about half way through this last week I caught myself being judgmental a number of times. 'OOPS I caught myself!' OOPS there I go again!' When we are judgmental it means that we think we are a little bit better than someone else. We think that we are smart enough to tell when someone else isn't doing what we think they are supposed to be doing.
In fact the more 'spiritual' or 'religious' one becomes, the more one feels that he has a right to be judgmental and critical of others. So this is one of the things that we really have to watch because we live in a community where everybody has different ways of doing things, different ways that they look at things. We can't really tell if we have the right way of looking at their situation. Maybe they are doing the right thing, we never can tell.
There is a story from the Buddhist tradition where two monks were traveling together. These two monks were walking together in a very holy manor and being very calm and very aware, very present in their act of walking as a Buddhist monk should do. Among some Buddhist sects, Buddhist monks are not supposed to even look at women much less touch any. Well these two guys came upon a river and there was an old woman who was sitting on the bank. She called out to the monks, 'Hey, can you please help me across the river. I don't think that I am strong enough to make it. One of the monks thought to himself, 'Well we are not supposed to touch women so I am not even going to look at her.' But the other monk who was a bit more kind hearted look at the old woman and thought to himself, 'Yes I am sure she wouldn't make it across the river and though we are not supposed to touch woman I hope that the Buddha will forgive my transgression.' So he put the woman on his back and carried her across the river and when on the other side, gently put her down and the two monks kept walking. The two monks walked silently for several hours not speaking a word but all along the way the monk who didn't carry the woman was thinking all kinds of bad things about the other monk, 'That lunatic! What is he thinking? Carrying a woman on his back, who can believe such a thing and I thought he was a very good monk till just now...!' Etcetera and so on. His thoughts were like a whirlwind in his mind. He had witnessed the other monk break his vows and he knew it was wrong but he didn't want so say anything about it yet, he kept getting madder and madder as they walked.
Finally he couldn't help himself and he stopped and he looked at the other monk and said, 'What do you think you were doing carrying that woman across the water?' The other monk who suspected that his companion may have been mad at him stopped and said, 'I only carried the woman from one side of the river to the other and put her down. Are you still carrying her my brother?' and that was the end of the conversation.
This story shows that often we look at somebody else, especially our spouse or partner of whom we have high expectations and notice some wrong doing on their part, and may ruin our whole day being mad about something over something that somebody else did. That's not very smart.
One of the good things that we can do when we notice that somebody is doing something wrong is to; number one, ask ourselves if we really need to say something about it or is it possible that the other person will figure it out by himself eventually. A lot of times it is better to let people figure out things by themselves. If they can it is much better for them. Often we are doing a greater favor for another person to stay quiet and let others figure things out for themselves. There is a humorous story told by Jallaludin Rumi on this subject;
Four Muslims from India go to a mosque to say their daily prayers. They begin their prostrations and are deep in concentration and sincerely when the man who does the call to prayer walks in front of them. One of the Indians looks up at him and says, 'Oh, are you going to give the call to prayers now? Is it time?', thus breaking his concentration and invalidating the power of blessing of his prayer.
The Muslim next to him says under his breath, 'You spoke. Now your prayers are invalid.'
The one next to him says, Uncle, don't scold him! You have done the same thing. Correct yourself!'
The fourth one says out loud, 'Praise be to God! I haven't made the same mistake as these three.'
So all four prayers were interrupted, with the three fault finders more at fault than the first one.
Rumi goes on to say, 'Blessed is one who sees his weakness, and blessed is one who, when he sees a flaw in someone else takes responsibility for it.
Because, half of any person is wrong and weak and off the path. Half! And the other half is dancing and swimming and flying in the Invisible Joy.'
One important thing to remember when we start putting out attention on judging other people instead of concentration on ourselves are the scriptures from the Christian and Jewish traditions,
'Judge not lest ye be judged'
This is from the New Testament which indicates the Jewish scripture that; God will judge each of us as we have judged others. What does this mean? How we judge other, how we treat others, this is how God will treat us, according to our own judgment. He won't judge us according to some other standard, he will judge us according to our own. I came up with a little saying one time;
'The measuring stick with which we judge others is the very same one that we beat ourselves with.'
The best thing to do is fold up our measuring stick and keep it in our pocket. If we think about it, if we don't judge other people, we are actually being merciful to ourselves at the same time. It is better for us if we have patience with each other.
There is a verse from the Qur'an that goes;
' Company of jinn and mankind, did not the Messengers come to you from among you, relating to you My signs and warning you of the encounter of this your day?'
They shall say, 'We bear witness against ourselves.' They were deluded by the present life, and the bear witness against themselves that they were unbelievers.'
This tells us that no matter how much we might fool ourselves, when we stand in front of the Divine Being, the reality of how we really are, what ever that is, is what God is going to look at and then he is going to ask us questions like, 'So what did you do?' and there won't be any way to lie about it. We will have to tell exactly what happened and we won't be able to add any sugar to it. In fact, we will be our own judge, we will be witness of ourselves, with the deep truth of our being exposed. We will just have to ask God to be merciful with us. Then God will look at how merciful we were to others and this will be the gauge by which God will be merciful to us.
As we go through life we need to slowly develop our sense of kindness toward each other which brings us to the Taoist verse:
"The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own.
He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind."
This means that the sage has developed the virtue of kindness. When you are kind, you are kind to everybody. Any quality, when developed becomes an atmosphere around us. It doesn't make any difference who it is that you are with, your nature is toward kindness. If you are judgmental on the other hand, you tend to be judgmental toward everybody no matter who they are and you become your own judge. Thus it is better for us to work on being kind; work on having mercy on each other and everyone around us. There is no reason to go through life with a bad attitude because we have to go though life anyway. Why not live happily with each other?
God bless you.
'Just as we love ourselves despite the faults we know we have, so should we love our neighbors despite the faults that we see in them.'
Israel Baal Shem Tov
Related writings of Hazrat Inayat Khan
Charactor-Building: excerpt from part vi
There are two attitudes which divide people into two sections. The one is an ever-complaining attitude, and the other is an ever-smiling attitude. Life is the same; call it good, call it bad, call it right, call it wrong; it is what it is, it cannot be otherwise. A person complains in order to get the sympathy of others and to show them his good points, sometimes in order to show himself as more just, more intelligent, and also in the right. He complains about everything, about friends and about foes, about those he loves, and much more about those he hates. He complains from morning till evening, and there is never an end to his complaint. It can increase to such an extent that the weather is not good and the air is not good and the atmosphere is not good; he is against both earth and sky, and everything everybody does is wrong; until it reaches the stage where that man begins to dislike his own works; and it culminates when he dislikes himself. In this way he grows to be against others, against conditions, and in the end against himself.
Do not imagine that this is a character rarely to be found in the world. It is a character you frequently meet with, and certainly the one who has this attitude is his own worst enemy. The person with a right attitude of mind tries to make even wrong right, but the one with a wrong attitude of mind will turn even right into wrong. Besides, magnetism is the need of every soul; the lack of it makes life burdensome. The tendency of seeing wrong in everything robs one to a great extent of that magnetism which is needed very much in life. For the nature of life is such that naturally the multitude only accepts those who come to it with the power of magnetism, and casts out everyone else. In other words, the world is a place where you cannot enter without a pass of admission, and that pass of admission is magnetism; the one who does not possess it will be refused everywhere.
Besides, you will find many who are always complaining about their health. There may be good reason, but sometimes there may be very little reason, too little indeed to speak of. And when once a person has become accustomed to answer despondently when sympathetically asked, 'How are you?' he certainly waters the plant of illness in himself by this complaining tendency.
Our life of limitation in the world, and the nature of this world's comforts and pleasures which are so changeable and unreliable, and the falseness that one finds in everything everywhere, if one complained about it, a whole lifetime would be too short to complain about it fully; every moment of our life would become filled with complaints. But the way out is to look at the cheerful side of it, the bright side. Especially those who seek God and truth, for them there is something else to think about; they need not think how bad a person is. When they think who is behind this person, who is in his heart, then they will look at life with hope. When we see things which are wrong, if we only give thought to this: that behind all workings there is God, who is just and perfect, then we will certainly become hopeful.
The attitude of looking at everything with a smile is the sign of the saintly soul. A smile given to a friend, a smile given even to an enemy will win him over in the end; for this is the key to the heart of man. As the sunshine from without lights the whole world, so the sunshine from within, if it were raised up, would illuminate the whole life, in spite of all the seeming wrongs and in spite of all limitations. God is happiness, the soul is happiness, the spirit is happiness. There is no place for sadness in the kingdom of God. That which deprives man of happiness deprives him of God and of truth.
One can begin to learn to smile by appreciating every little good thing that comes in one's way through life, and by overlooking every bad thing that one does not like to see. Be not troubled too much about unnecessary things in life which give nothing but displeasure. But looking at life with a hopeful attitude of mind, with an optimistic view, it is this which will give one the power of turning wrong into right, and bringing light into the place where all is darkness. Cheerfulness is life, sulkiness is death. Life attracts, death repulses. The sunshine which comes from the soul, rises through the heart, and manifests itself in man's smile is indeed the light from the heavens. In that light many flowers grow and many fruits become ripe...