In Buddhism, the Wheel of Samsara has many different meanings, just as does the Cross in Christianity, the Crescent Moon in Islam or the Star of David in Judaism.
What do you see?
I see movement. So, I'm thinking this morning about how Thanksgiving has come and gone so quickly. We had the rare joy of having Pam's parents and family here from Florida. We prepared for weeks for their arrival. But faster than the disappearance of the giblet gravy, it's all over now.
For Pam and me, it may well be one of the most memorable Thanksgivings -- a gift BEFORE Christmas that IS Christmas. I don't think we planned for this to turn out as it did, but Pam and I took hold of this brief week with our family, determining, in the words of William Blake, "to hold infinity in the palm of our hands, eternity in an hour."
And we did.
I suppose you receive from life that which you give to it. When you're always looking for life, don't you only just miss the life that is? Pam and I hold memories from this week that will be to us more precious than gold.
I see something else in the Wheel of Samsara. I see my separateness, like spokes in the wheel. But I see my interconnectedness, too.
I don't mind saying, I need my Pam. I'm pretty certain she needs her Steve. Together, we need our children, our parents, our family. What gift could you ever receive this Christmas more precious than the words "I love you," "I need you," from a son, or daughter, parent, or partner?
Heck, the more awake I become, the more aware I am of just how much I need the whole human family.
I swear, you'll have to pardon me, please, but I cannot help it. I sometimes think we just don't get it in America. We're all so "individual." But really, aren't we only ever as strong as our weakest link? And isn't that what Saint Paul was really trying to say, when he warned the Corinthians,"The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you,' nor the head to its feet, I don't need you'?"(1 Corinthians 12:21).
If you aren't doing well, neither am I. As someone has said, "The body is only as healthy as its individual cells., so the world is only as healthy as individual souls."
I see many other things in the Wheel. None, however, more poignant than this: Notice where the spokes all intersect, all meet -- right smack in the middle.
What is the "middle"?
For me, it's God. But you don't have to call the middle "God" to know that there is an inexplicable Mystery about life that is that place where we all mysteriously intersect, interconnect -- even coexist. Jesus tried to describe it this way: "When you have seen me, you have seen the Father" (John 20:29). He was not describing his superior relationship with Source itself, a position reserved for him and only him. If that's what you think, you've missed his point entirely. He was instead describing the Mystery in which we all share -- the Mystery of the Middle.
When you know this Mystery, you have nothing to defend, nothing to explain, Everything to enjoy instead. When you know this Mystery, the riddle of life makes a whole lot more sense.
Robert Frost pointed to this Mystery when he wrote: "We dance 'round the ring and suppose; / but the secret sits in the middle and knows."
What could be more important than the Middle?
Only the knowledge that the middle is precisely where you sit!
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