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Subject: "Be yourself perfectly"

Date: January 22, 1995 - Church of All at Pagosa Springs, CO 
Readings: Rev. Hamid Cecil Touchon - Sermon: Rev. Hamid Cecil Touchon 
Style: Formal with chanting

From the Hindu Tradition 

Bagavat-Gita Chapter 18: 41,45-47 


" The actions of priests, warriors, commoners and servents are apportioned by qualities born of their intrinsic being...  


Each one achieves success by focusing on his own action.  

Hear how one achieves success by focusing on his own action.  


By his own action a man finds success.  

Worshipping the source of all creatures' activity,  

The Presence pervading all that is.  


Better to do one's own duty imperfectly  

Than to do another man's well.  

Doing action intrinsic to his being,  

A man avoids guilt."  

From the Buddhist Tradition 

The Dhammapada, Chapter 1

"From the mind is one's character derived; controled by mind, made by mind. Mind is the source either of bliss or of corruption. By oneself is evil done; by oneself one suffers; by oneself is evil avoided; by oneself one is purified. Purity and impurity belong to oneself, no one can purify another. You yourself must make the effort..."  

From the Native American Tradition 

"Words of Power" from Gene Keluche, Wintu, 1992

"Choose those pursuits which give you the greatest joy; you will do them much better. Do not let somebody prescribe for you what should be your life. Wait and see; weigh and feel the flow. Then you will be fulfilled, and you will perform much better."  

From the Tradition of the Tao 

Tao te Ching, Chapter 41:2

2) "The bright Way looks dim.  

The progressive Way looks retreating.  

The smooth Way looks rugged.  

High Virtue appears as a valley.  

Great Whiteness seems spotted.  

Abundant Virtue seems deficient.  

Established Virtue appears shabby.  

Genuine Virtue appears hollow.  

Great Squareness has no corners.  

Great talents ripen late  

Great sound is silent  

Great form is shapeless."  

From the Jewish Tradition 

'Jewish Wisdom' by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin,1994

"A Hasidic rebbe by the name of Zusha used to say,' When I die and come before the heavenly court, if they ask me, 'Zusha, why were you not as great as Abraham?' I will not be afraid. I will say that I was not born with Abraham's intelectual capabilities. And if they ask me, 'Zusha why were you not like Moses?' I will say that I did not have his leadership skills. But when they ask me 'Zusha why were you not Zusha?' For that I will have no answer."  

From the Christian Tradition 

First letter of Paul to the Corinthians ; Chapter 7: verse 17

"Each one must order his life according to the gift the Lord has granted him and his condition when God called him."  

From the Tradition of Islam The Koran (translated by A.J. Arberry) Chap.: Cattle; verse 135

"Say: 'O my people, act according to your station; I am acting (according to mine). And assuredly you will know who shall possess the Ultimate Abode."  

From the Sayings of Hazrat Inayat Khan

Gayan, Suras

"Spiritual attainment is to become conscious of the Perfect One, who is formed in the heart."  

" Verily, the soul has no birth, no death, no beginning, no end. Sin cannot touch it, nor can virtue exalt it; it has always been and always will be, and all else is its cover like a globe over the light."  

Gayan; Boulas

" Divinity is human perfection and humanity is divine limitation."  

Be Yourself Perfectly

Jan. 22, 1995  

Sermon delivered by Reverend Hamid Cecil Touchon  

Very often the actions of our lives are dictated by our desire to fit in with a group or we have a desire to be with the crowd. Very often we are willing to compromise our own sense of personal integrity or our clarity about our path in life by trying to fit in with what other people think we ought to be doing. While it is important, in a community, that people respect the ways of each other, at the same time, individually, we are each responsible to understand what our own particular path in life is whether we feel comfortable in that understanding or not.  

I thought of picking the story of Moses from the time of the burning bush until Moses goes before the Pharaoh as a good example of how we are reluctant to take up our own path in life because very often we are afraid that other people won't like us or think that we are strange or any number of other reasons. We always have this fear of how others will think of us.  

In the case of Moses, he saw the burning bush out in the desert and he went up to it and God said, 'It is Me.' Of course most people will be a little shaky when the voice of God starts talking to us from a burning bush, especially when that God gives us a commission or work in life that we are suppose to take up.  

God told Moses to go to the Pharaoh and tell him to let the Israelites go. Moses said, 'who am I to do such a thing and God said, 'I'll be with you.'  

Then Moses said, 'What if the Israelites don't believe that you sent me?' because Moses was having a hard time believing in his ability to do his job. But God gave him some signs as proofs.  

Then Moses complained that he would not be able to talk eloquently, still not feeling confident but God said I will give you the words. And still after Moses had given every excuse that he could think of to get out of the job and seeing that God had a solution for everything, he asked God to send someone else. So God send his brother with him; Aaron  

So here are the several times that Moses kept coming up with excuses why he couldn't be the guy to do the job of the prophet. 'I'm not very g-g-g-ood at this k-k-k-kind of thing Lord, s-s-s-send someone else!' Moses stuttered. I don't know how many of you are aware of this, he had a speech impediment. Naturally he was afraid of being embarrassed in Pharaoh's court and in front of the elders of the Israelites.  

Moses was in a very hard position once he realized what his mission in life was and that he would have to sacrifice himself to it. All of us are a sacrifice to our own lives. Whether we are sacrificing ourselves to our own selfish desires or whether we are sacrificing ourselves for our deeper, true destiny, the destiny that we have come into this world to fulfil, then our reward will be equal to that sacrifice.  

As the Buddhist scripture reads, it if from our own mind that we live our lives. Our lives are a product of the kind of thinking process that we engage ourselves in; our personal priorities. We need to consider our priorities very clearly. Why do we choose to put one priority over another? Why do we choose one path through life over all others? We all feel comfortable with our own personal choice, but at the same time we should weigh this against what our truest path through life might be.  

Very often people are motivated by fear to choose one path in life over another path that they would have chosen if they were not afraid of pursuing it. A lot of times people are afraid that they are not going to make enough money, or they are not going to have enough status or importance in the eyes of their community.  

For instance, I am an artist. Only a very small percentage of people come close to making a living as an artist. All along the trail there were plenty of people who advised me to take up some other path in life that would be more financially secure, but that wasn't my path. I didn't choose to go another way and, in fact, I preferred poverty doing what my calling in life was over making money and having respect from other people in the communities where I have lived by doing what others would respect as an occupation. In the end, we find out that nobody really cares what you do for a living anyway. So the important thing is that we pursue what is truly important to us.  

Another thing that holds us back in our striving is our desire to be perfect at what we do or to have perfect circumstances to work with without really understanding what perfection is. Very often we will find that our sense of perfection is so demanding that we really can't live up to it. We have to recognize that perfection is something that is not exactly perfect; not in the sense that we define perfect. This is why I picked this scripture from the Tao te Ching. 'The Bright Way looks dim, Established Virtue seems shabby'. These statements about the Tao, which is the Divine Harmony behind the appearance of things, show that perfection is not perfect. What our idea of perfect is, is not in conformity with the perfection of the Divine Nature because we take the idea of perfection past its natural limits. A certain amount of caos or shabbiness is what gives the dynamic to Order; what gives Order something to work with and what provides Order with the ability to always be unique. Everything is already perfect if we will try to understand what natural perfection is. We, however, must conform ourselves to this perfection in order to understand it. And this understanding is intuitive as in art rather than anylitical as in science.  

There is a harmony behind everything that we do and if we can recognize this harmony - which isn't easy - then we are following the Tao. One has to peer behind the activities of life to see this harmony and it is subtle. It is like looking at words on a page. If you don't know the meanings of words then you don't understand anything when you read them. If you have never noticed this harmony behind the activity of life then it is hard to imagine that it is there. But once you do recognize how this harmony is working through all of our lives, then you begin to see it more and more all of the time. This is what gives us confidence to go forward in life.  

As is illustrated by the story of Zusha from the Jewish tradition, we are all here to do what is our specific job to do. We are not here to do each other's job, we are here to do our own. No one can do it for us.  

Often we are impressed with someone. I remember a wedding I once performed. After it was over the groom came up to me and said, 'I want to be just like you.'  

This struck me are an odd compliment but what I ended up telling this fellow was that if he really wanted to be like me then he should follow whatever his calling was in life because that is all I am doing.  

There is something special in everyone of us. If we are constantly refining the qualities that are 'intrinsic to our being' as the Hindu scripture says, then we are blameless in what ever our activity is because we are following the nature that we have been provided. Then we are following our path in life.  

In conclusion, it is good to emulate others; to emulate their best qualities. My wife often tells my daughter, 'Copy the best from other people not the worst.' Often we will see people who will use the wrong actions of others as an excuse for themselves to do the same. Figure out what good qualities others are examples of and then use these as lessons for your own life rather than to look at how poorly many people do things. This is the meaning behind the reading from the Quran, 'Act according to your station.'. This means live up to your abilities and talents. We all have something special that we can learn from or give to each other. If we are wise we will look for and recognize the fine qualities that each of us is a living example of and try to understand how we can cultivate and incorporate these qualities into the nature of our own person.  

On the one hand, being ourselves requires that we have a certain amount of pride and personal dignity, but at the same time, to fully develop ourselves, we have to have enough humility to recognize that there is something that we all can learn from each other. There is no one who doesn't have something to teach us if we are willing to learn.  

God Bless you