FISHERS OF MEN

Would you give up everything now to be rewarded later?  What if the sacrifice required hardship… or worse?  Would you still be willing to walk the walk, or would you -like most- just talk it and hope for the best?

I’m not certain what inflicts the greater damage to earth and nations:  religious zeal or corporate greed.  Both are blind to consequence.  Are the fanatics who lure men and women to their deaths in the name of righteousness any better than anonymous board members who employ men and women to plunder resources for gain?   Isn’t it all just a struggle for mandate?

Who’s on top, who’s below… it’s conflict without solution, like a never-ending game of King of the Mountain with a succession of kings either fighting to reach the pinnacle or fighting those who wish to unseat him.  And except for inflaming rivalry and anger, nothing is really accomplished.  The winner guards what he cannot keep and the others vie for it.  A completely futile exercise…

… but one that remain irresistible to those who haven’t yet graduated from competitive reality.  As long as there is someone to dominate, compare or belittle, there is little time for reflection upon right action.  It’s hard to put away selfish desires and operate from a place of compassion, especially when there’s no tangible incentive and nobody else is doing it.  It’s easier just to clobber your neighbor than help him.

But what if that has become tiresome and you yearn for something greater?  Has pushing and shoving through life yielded the happiness you seek?  Or are you still looking, hoping it can be found and reconciled to the habits you’re unwilling to break?

Nearly all religious and spiritual traditions have simplicity at their cores, a voluntary relinquishment of attachments to worldly life.  How that is ultimately achieved varies with doctrine, but all require surrender… not of self, but of those misperceptions that comprise self.

Picture this:  You’re at home or work, toiling away at some mundane task, when a strange mendicant approaches and urges you to abandon everything -home, work, family, mortgage- and to follow.  You scoff at the notion until a second glance affords you a look into infinity and you wonder why this odd person would ask such a thing, or why he/she glows with a palpable radiance.  You are confused, struggling between what is expected and what is possible, but you cannot shake off what you have briefly glimpsed.  Nor can you explain the serenity that creeps over you like a blanket, shutting out all the anxieties that dogged you previously.

“Follow me and others will follow you,” says your strange guest.

Now you have a choice:  Push through the fear that you’ve lost your mind and consider the offer… or dismiss the whole thing as the rambling of a complete nutcase.   Consider those who put their faith in someone like Harold Camping and gave up everything to spread his doomsday message.  Were they wrong to believe?

Our minds like finite ideas:  dates of apocalypse, numbers of people saved, estimates of the condemned,  bragging rights.  What we seem to shrink from is the notion that there are no finite concepts.  There are no divisions of race, color, creed, gender, ability, language, custom, or nation.  Nor are we separate from birds in the air or the rocks on the ground.  Indeed we are all just molecular particles swirling in space.  The only boundaries that exist are the ones in our minds.  And as long as we insist upon forcing this mental template upon the whole of creation, we will struggle.

For the struggle is not with neighbors, the boss or the government.  It is our own refusal to see everyone and everything as ourself.  Would you be a fisher of men and embrace all that you see regardless of the protests of your mind, or will you seek the temporary safety of exclusion?

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