Exploring Spirituality

Combining Character and Interfaith Education for a Better World

Out of Focus

I was trying to focus my automatic camera on the bird feeder but the beautiful red sand cherry in the background kept grabbing the attention. Its tiny pink blossoms some 25 yards away were sharp and clear while the birds, only 10 feet away, were a blur. I called out to my son - "I have to ask a pro why I can't focus on the close-ups. The background seems to always pull the lens away."

Then I realized what I had just said. The whole trick of life is being able to focus on the task at hand and not be distracted by the "background" scenes and noises.

That's precisely the prime purpose and benefit of meditation - training our mind's lens to focus only on the task in front of us.

One of my all time favorite teaching stories is the lesson of Jesus in the boat, and when Babaji told it, He always made it come to life.

Jesus was in the boat with His disciples when a storm came up. The disciples began to panic and shouted, "Master, Master!" but Jesus was totally undisturbed in full communion with His Father. Now some may say He was asleep. But trust me, Jesus did not go out in the boat to take a nap. He was in deep communion with His Father.

The wind whipped the waves higher and the boat began to take water. "Master, Master," the disciples again tried to appeal to Jesus. Finally, He responded to their calls and rose, "What's the matter, Don't you know that the wind is under my Father's command." And the wind calmed. "Don't you know the sea is under my Father's command?" And the water became like glass. If only you had the Faith of a mustard seed the mountain would come down. Then He stepped out of the boat and walked across the water.

I totally believe this happened. After all those who embody God's Light are one with God and there is nothing they can't do, if God so wills it.

But there is an important lesson imbedded in the story and it clearly defines faith in ourselves not simply faith as an external form of belief.

Imagine that our consciousness is the boat. And it is driven by God's Holy Name. As long as we are focused on God then our boat sails smoothly through the water.

But when storms come up, we quickly lose our focus, paying more attention to the external forces and giving our "adversaries" more power than we do ourselves.

Then we start to bog down and our progress slows, sometimes to a standstill. Our boat begins to take water.

All we have to do is remember God and look to the power of God's Holy Name within us, and suddenly our faith is restored, and our boat begins to cut through the waves again.

Time and time again as I am faced with challenges I try to remember this story, and maintain the faith it requires.

Then we are better able to steer our minds and navigate through troubled waters. If we practice controlling our minds by focusing on God - in whatever form we chose to love the "formless One" - then we are not only singularly better able to concentrate but we are empowered to complete the task at hand.

So let's spend more time delving within ourselves, discovering the power and joy that it brings. Meanwhile, if anyone knows a good photographer let me know.