Tuesday, April 21, 2015
"2.-That care be taken, that as any are brought into the truth, meetings be in such places amongst them, as may be for the most convenience of all, without respect of persons: and that hands be laid on none suddenly, lest the truth suffer."-Epistle of the Elders of Balby
When a person decides to become a Buddhist they take a three-fold vow.Within that vow is a part that says"I promise to take refuge in the Sangha".Sangha means community and what this particular advice from the Elders aludes too similar to Buddhists we take community very seriously.To a friend community itself is a very nuanced and the Elders must have known that early because in this I see three forms which I see within Quakerism of community-The Community of shared truths,The community outside our doors,and the community of compassion.
To begin with the Elders start off by saying"That care be taken, that as any are brought into the truth"this passage reminds me of the community of shared truths.If one comes into Quakerism they notice at times a myriad of ideas about the divine as well as even spiritual practices.Some things though are the norm within Quaker circles even though we interpret the divine in many different ways we most of the time refer to it as the"Inner Light" and even though some spiritual practices might differ we unite over certain testimonies are witnesses to who we are called the Testimonies these are how we as individuals as well as a community respond to simplicity,peace, integrity,community,equality,and stewardship within the society.Becoming Friends we share these things as common values which allow us better share the truths we have with others.
The next ideal the Elders espouse within the advice is that of the community outside the doors of our meeting in saying"that as any are brought into the truth, meetings be in such places amongst them, as may be for the most convenience of all"one could say they were speaking of just making church communities where they were at but I think there is a modern voice within this.We should not hold community my meetinghouse has a great saying on the front of it that says "depart to serve" in doing such we learn the meeting is only a place to fill us to bring the light we experience there into our world.In having so many awesome things in a Quaker meeting such as vocal ministry on equality one notices more how they can serve our world not only making their meeting a place for the Quaker message but the world.
"That hands be laid on none suddenly"with this almost end to the advice the elders point us to the fact that in our diversity we should not argue or debate but seek unity and peace.Community is not just about one person but a whole bunch of people conflict is unavoidable but it does not have to be what defines the community.Within all the communities of life we should seek not to"lay our hands upon another" in doing so we hurt ourselves as well as our message.
The Elders end this advice with"Lest the Truth Suffer"this to me means that we cannot have onne form of the community without the others.Community itself cannot exist without being something without compassion just as much not being a place that goes far beyond it's borders.Community needs it all and we need the refuge of such community.
Queries to ponder:
What does community mean to you?
Is community a refuge for you?
How do you make your community known to others?
"But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. The type of love that I stress here is not eros, a sort of esthetic or romantic love; not philia, a sort of reciprocal love between personal friends; but it is agape which is understanding goodwill for all men. It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. It is the love of God working in the lives of men. This is the love that may well be the salvation of our civilization."-Martin Luther King,Jr
Sunday, March 1, 2015
"You dummy !!!"
"you heretic !!!"
"You don't know what your saying !!!"
"Why don't you just work with the institution."
"Can't you just go with the majority for once?"
These words are usually heard by an individual within a community or group when that individual has chosen to think outside the regular norms imposed by the said community or group.These individuals sometimes are called heretics,prophets,reformers,and the outspoken.I count myself amongst these individuals even though my role at times works within the parameters of the so-called names usually contributed to such I prefer the term Freethinker.
A Freethinker is defined by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary as a person who forms his or her own opinions about important subjects such as religion or politics instead of accepting of what other people say.Our society today seems to be missing many freethinkers.I cannot tell you of how many people I have heard say things such as:
"My minister said this so it must be true"
"You know that person they do this so we can trust them"
"I believe this and I stake my life on it because this person endorses this view"
How sad I find it for these kind of people who do not choose to form their own opinions surrendering even their will over to others at times only for some kind of social gain.I do not count myself amongst such because early on in my life I was exposed to these words by Jesus :
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.'
Ask,Seek,and knock this does not seem like an encouragement to accept things just at their face value.At least in my reading of this it encouraged me to always seek outside of the box and notice myself within the box might itself might be suffocating those within it.Jesus went on further to say:
"Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?"
It amazes he even says that if the box you are offering harms an individual nor sustains you then why offer it?The freethinking individual is childlike why nobody around them chooses to question the bread that ends up being stone that the people receive.The Freethinker chooses to question many stop asking why after their childhood.In my own view those who have stopped asking why should begin again.The Freethinker chooses not to be the flake in the room while everyone around them chooses to be pliable.
The Freethinker does not only choose to question authority of the norm but they also innovate the norm making it something even more timeless.Something those of us who think freely normally get accused of is wanting to reinvent the wheel.I disagree let me illustrate :
Humanity used to have wheels like this :
Now we have wheels like this :
The wheel did not get reinvented over time it was made even better.I'm pretty sure the person who re-designed the wheel did not neglect the wheel of the past. So the freethinker does not reinvent the wheel but sees the wheel or the tradition they are apart of as a guide to what it can become.Freethinkers love their but also realize that the tradition there in is not in a state of eternal complacency but in a place of eternal progression.
The Freethinker I believe also might be in a state that other human beings might not be.That state being there best self.While others around may seem to just be following the "party line" the freethinker chooses something wholly different in their own life.an example of this would be martin Luther King,Jr while some within the African-American community like Malcolm X where calling for violent actions to bring about equality he chose to live a life of non-violence.Another example would be Lucretia Mott the great Quaker Feminist during first wave feminism.When other women wanted to leave men out Mott chose to preach about an egalitarian society where all would have an equal place at the table of humanity.I wonder how many of you who read this are sacrificing your best selves in order to impress?think on these greats and don't follow the "party line".
Queries to Ponder:
What radical ideas do you have?have you spoken about them?or put them into the action if they are within reason?
Do you think you are being your best self?or do you think you are allowing others to tell you who or what you should be?
Can you stand alone in your own convictions if others cannot stand with you?
"My Thoughts are as free as wind over an ocean,no one can see their form or motion.No hunter can find them ,no trap ever bind them:my lips may be still,but I think what I will.
A glimmering fire that the darkness will brighten;my soaring desire all troubles can lighten.Though prison enfold me,it's walls cannot hold me:No captive I'll be,for my spirit is free."-Di Gedanken Sind Frei,German folk song sung during WWII by those in Germany who resisted Nazi control.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
"1.-That the particular meetings by all the children of light, be duly kept and observed, where they be already settled, every first-day of the week; except they be moved to other places. And that general meetings be kept in order and sweet in the life of God, on some other day of the week than on the First-day, unless there be a moving to the contrary: that so in the light and life, the meetings may be kept, to the praise of God."-From Epistle from the Elders of Balby
We now come to our first numbered advice.This advice is very profound because it talks about the very heart of Quakerism that being the meeting for worship.
Within the Quaker world everything takes place through a meeting for worship.A meeting for worship simply a gathering of a few people(Quakers and non-Quakers) that sit in silence in order to draw close together in seeking the divine.Out of that silence someone may speak and the words they say are supposed to be seen as the divine speaking for the whole group.This collective prophet which is the meeting for worship lies at the heart of the Quaker identity.There are also many other types of meetings for worship such as a meeting for worship with attention to business where quakers discuss the budget as well other things in the meeting and a meeting for worship with attention to suffering where someone's monetary need might be addressed as a concern.
How though can I respond to this advice from the elders in my day?
One thing I feel some within the Quaker community has forgotten in our day that the elders here remind us of is that the meeting does not always need a building to exist but can"be moved to other places". I think a lot of Friends today think of their meetinghouse as the only place where they can engage in Quaker worship .The early Friends took seriously the words of the bible:"For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’"They needed no building except for that temple they built as their hearts joined in the union of silence.A meeting for worship has some versatility it can be done anywhere a park,a waterfall,a bus,a subway etc...there is no perfect aesthetic for it.Some Friends and I once held a meeting for worship in a park where someone close by was remodeling their home the noise was incredibly loud but God spoke through that noise when Friends went to speak out of the silence amongst us they spoke of the joy of the noise seeing that distraction as a means to the divine.
Another thing I find very powerful is how much within this advice the elders encourage to keep the meeting for worship.It reminds me very much of the commandment" Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy."The meeting for worship is our sabbath like the Jewish people who are reminded of who they are by keeping the sabbath so too are we Quakers reminded of who we are by being in a meeting for worship.It is our lifeblood,our gift,it is sweet.
Let us follow this advice from our elders and seek out a meeting for worship in anyplace we can find it and let us keep the meeting for worship because it directs us to who we are.
Queries to Ponder:
How often do experience a meeting for worship?
Do you understand the meeting for worship is a great symbol of quaker tradition?
How of often do you listen to the divine within you?
Take 10 minutes to listen within yourself to what that Eternal source of all life might be directing you to in your journey-The Malachut
Saturday, February 21, 2015
"be yourself not your idea of what somebody else's idea of yourself should be"-Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Do what you feel in your heart to be right-for you'll be criticized always"-Eleanor Roosevelt
Are people dictating to you who you are?are you being defined by the past mistakes of others?does it seem as though you have no freedom at this time because every action you do is dictated by others?Well I have some good news for you I would like you to reject all the commentary that is being put in front of you of how you should be and be yourself.
I know I might be advocating something cliche but what do you think is the realistic answer?a lot of self sacrifice might be taking place on your end is the same happening on the other side?probably not.I want to encourage everyone who reads this blog to ask yourself this question-How much are you giving to others without them offering anything in return?you might be amazed at what you realize.This world is very selfish but in your own selflessness you need not forget your own gifts while in your own service.
You might be asking the question in your reading of this:What about ego?well I say ego is not a bad thing.It has become a swear word in our day I think because of the capitalist system we are under.Capitalism says that we must forget ourselves in order to better workers at our given task.Yes our capitalist has in itself called us to be robots without any real will of our own except that given by the corporate body.We need not forget who we are in our own individuality within this world.Ego can do much good within society .I think it matters not that we have a lot of ego but what we do with our ego take for example Jesus he once said this:
"Whoever loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;"-Matthew 10:37
It takes a lot of ego for a person to say that if you love your father or mother more than me than your not worthy to devote yourself to me.If he existed during our time people would directly give him the egotistical label.Let's though think of what Jesus did with his ego- he fed five thousand people,healed a bunch of people and in last dying breathe reflected his message of compassion.Jesus showed that it is good to have a lot of ego but use your ego to build society up don't use it to bring society down.
Nobody should make you become something your not.I encourage you today to be yourself .Embrace as Jesus did the good things you accomplish with your ego and live a life that the world can admire.Be the person you were meant to be paint your own self O ! blessed child of the divine.
Queries to ponder:
How much are you giving to others without them offering anything in return?
Do you see how the ego of others strengthened them in reaching their life purpose?
What good do you accomplish through your ego?
"You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself,and that person is not be found anywhere.You yourself as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection"-The Buddha
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
""The elders and brethren send unto the brethren in the north these necessary things following; to which, if in the light you wait, to be kept in obedience, you shall do well. Fare well"-From Epistle with Advices from the Elders of Balby
"Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed."-From A Course in Miracles
You shall Do well.
What powerful words these are for our day.Back in 1656 when the Epistle was written the early Quakers had so much less than we do now yet so much more Optimism.what I learn from this first sentence is that we need to have more optimism within our communities and not fall prey to the cynicism that so poisons life today.
We must admit it in our times people are taught more to rely upon the negative than the positive.I just recently admitted that I was going to go on a person discernment to see whether I wanted to stay on with two organizations.One of these organizations automatically assumed the worst that being that I would leave them.the fact of the matter i'm not even making decision regarding such until September and a lot can happen before that time.I thought in this situation the cynicism was very realistic we live in a time where we don't hear good news that often but mostly the bad news of the world.The elders offer me hope by telling me as well you"You shall do well".
How can we do well?I think we can do well by admitting there is much cynicism and we like the elders need to give hope to those around us even if we do not posses that hope ourselves.My life has been one both of trial as well as terror I myself have found solace during my dark times by just resting on the fact that the darkness no matter how much it overshadows my life at a certain will not last forever and that hope within which the elders pointed us to will.We must hope,we must be positive ,we must do well our world needs it so that such light may shine that never goes out.Let us do well.
Queries to Ponder:
How is the negativity in the world affecting your outlook on life?
Do you realize that all the bad things in life are temporal?
Do you think you will do well?
Saturday, February 7, 2015
"These things we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by; but that all, with a measure of the light, which is pure and holy, may be guided"-From the Epistle from the Elders of Balby,1776
One of the most beloved as well as most quoted documents within Quakerism is the Epistle from the Elders of Balby this letter sent out by early Friends in 1656 under the prompting of George Fox was sent to deal with whatever disorderly conflict that might happen amongst Quakers in Northern England during that.The document is thought to be the first communal statement ever made by Friend.Within the next few weeks on the Malachut Blog I will be dissecting it and finding where the words of it might be relevant for today and where some parts of it might be out of style.I am calling this cycle A Modern response to Balby>I call it such because as us Friends respond to the queries posed I myself will respond to the advices put in front of me by these ancient elders.
Here is a copy of the letter in full you can turn to as we discuss this document:
"The elders and brethren send unto the brethren in the north these necessary things following; to which, if in the light you wait, to be kept in obedience, you shall do well. Fare well
1.-That the particular meetings by all the children of Light, be duly kept and observed, where they be already settled, every first-day of the week; except they be moved to other places. And that general meetings be kept in order and sweet in the life of God, on some other day of the week than on the First-day, unless there be a moving to the contrary: that so in the light and life, the meetings may be kept, to the praise of God.
2.-That care be taken, that as any are brought into the truth, meetings be in such places amongst them, as may be for the most convenience of all, without respect of persons: and that hands be laid on none suddenly, lest the truth suffer.
3.-That if any person draw back from meetings, and walk disorderly, some go to speak to such as draw back; to exhort and admonish such with a tender, meek spirit, whom they find negligent or disorderly. And if any, after admonition, do persist in the thing not good, let them again be admonished and reproved before two or three witnesses; that by the mouth of two or three witnesses, every thing may be established. And if still they persevere in them, then let the thing be declared to the church: and when the church hath reproved them for their disorderly walking, and admonished them in the tender and meek spirit, and they do not reform, then let their names and the causes, and such as can justly testify the truth therein, and their answers, be sent in writing to some whom the Lord hath raised up in the power of his Spirit to be fathers, his children to gather in the light, that the thing may be known to the body; and with the consent of the whole body, the thing may be determined in the light.
4.-That as any are moved of the Lord to speak the word of the Lord at such meetings, that it be done in faithfulness, without adding or diminishing. And if at such meetings, any thing at any time be otherwise spoken by any not of the light, whereby the seed of God cometh to be burthened; let the person or persons in whom the seed of God is burthened, speak in the light (as of the Lord they are moved,) in meekness and godly fear, to him; but let it be done in private, betwixt them two, or before two or three witnesses, and not in the public meetings, except there be a special moving so to do.
5.-That collections be timely made for the poor, (that are so indeed,) as they are moved, according to order,-for relief of prisoners, and other necessary uses, as need shall require: and all moneys so collected, an account thereof to be taken; from which every need may be supplied, as made known by the overseers in every meeting: that no private ends may be answered, but all brought to the light, that the gospel be not slandered.
6.-That care be taken for the families and goods of such as are called forth into the ministry, or who are imprisoned for the truth's sake; that no creatures be lost for want of the creatures.
7.-That as many as are moved of the Lord in his light to take a brother or a sister in marriage, marriage being honourable in all, and the bed undefiled, let it be made known to the children of light, especially to those of the meeting of which the parties are members: that all, in the light may it witness to be of God. And being by the light made manifest to be of God13 let them be joined together in the Lord and in his fear, in the presence of many witnesses; according to the example of the holy men of God in the Scriptures of truth recorded, which were written for our example and learning; that no scandal may rest upon the truth, nor anything be done in secret; but all things brought to the Light that truth may trample over all deceit, and that they who are joined together in the Lord, may not by man be put asunder, whom God hath joined together. That there may be a record in writing, (witnessing, the day, place, and year, of such things) kept within [that meeting] of which one or both of them are members; under which writing the witnesses present may subscribe their names, or so many of them as be convenient; for the stopping the mouths of all gainsayers, and for the manifesting the truth to all that are without.
8.-That a record be kept in every meeting of the births of children of such who are members of that meeting, and of the burials of the dead who die in the Lord as they depart out of the body; which be done after the manner of the holy men of God, recorded in the Scriptures of truth; and not after the customs of the heathen; that know not God.
9.-That husbands and wives dwell together according to knowledge, as being heirs together of the grace of life; that children obey their parents in the Lord; and that parents provoke not their children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and fear of God, walking before them as good examples, in gravity and godliness; providing things honest in the sight of God and man.
10.-That servants be obedient to them that are their masters in the flesh, in things that are good, in singleness of heart as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ; doing the will of God from the heart; with good-will doing service, as to the Lord and not to men; knowing whatsoever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And that masters give to their servants that which is just and equal; forbearing threatening, knowing that their Master is also in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
11.- That care be taken that none who are servants depart from their masters, but as they both do see in the light: or any master to put away his servant, but by the like consent of the servant: and if any master or servant in their wills do otherwise it is to be judged by Friends in the light.
12.- That the necessities of the poor, widows and fatherless, may be truly supplied, and that such as are able to work, and do not, may be admonished: and if, after admonition, they refuse to work, then let them not eat. And that the children of such as are in necessity, be put to honest employment; that none be idle in the Lord's vineyard.
13.-That care be taken, that as any are called before outward powers of the nation, that in the light, obedience to the Lord be given.
14.-That if any be called to serve the commonwealth in any public service, which is for the public wealth and good, that with cheerfulness it be undertaken, and in faithfulness discharged: and that therein patterns and examples, in the thing that is righteous, you may be, to those that be without.
15.That all Friends that have callings and trades, do labour in the thing that is good, in faithfulness and uprightness, and keep to their yea and nay in all their communications: and that all who are indebted to the world, endeavour to discharge the same, that nothing they may owe to any man but love one to another.
16.-That no-one speak evil of another, neither judge one against another; but rather judge this, that none put a stumbling-block or occasion to fall in his brother's way.
17.-That none be busy bodies in others' matters, but each one to bear another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ; that they be sincere and without offence, and that all things that are honest, be done without murmuring, and disputing, that you may be blameless and harmless. the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, amongst whom they may shine as lights in the world.
18.-That Christian moderation be used towards all men: that they who obey not the word, may be won with those that in the word dwell, to guide in an holy life and godly conversation.
19.- That the Elders made by the holy Ghost, feed the flock of God, taking the oversight thereof willingly, not by constraint, but of a willing mind; neither as lords over God's heritage, but as examples to the flock of Christ.
20.- That the younger submit themselves to the elder, - yea all be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.
Given forth at a general meeting of friends in truth at Balby in Yorkshire in the ninth month 1656
From the Spirit of truth to the children of light, to walk in the light; that all in order be kept in obedience; that he may be glorified, who is worthy over all, God blessed for ever. - Amen
Richard Farnworth William Dewsbury (others)
Dearly beloved Friends, these things we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by; but that all, with a measure of the light, which is pure and holy, may be guided: and so in the light walking and abiding, these things may be fulfilled in the Spirit, not in the letter, for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life."
It will be a long journey in this series but I hope will join me we might find together answers to our own lives found within the words.I know just in pondering some of the advices I have want you join me and let's respond to the Elders together.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
I have a challenge for all whether you are Quaker,Muslim,Jewish,Unitarian Universalist,Christian,Humanist etc...I'd like those who regularly read my blog to read from February 9th until the 14th the bible book called the Song of Solomon this challenge coincides with the posting of my Valentine's day reflection
I ask that all who can please join me in reading this book it speaks of a great love not experienced so much within our time.
There is a Facebook Event for it at this link :
Let's walk with the lovers together.