Angels, Bodhisattva, and Immortals.
Angel: An extension of God that works to make others whole. – From Zoroastrianism and Abrahamic Religions
Bodhisattva: A human striving in compassion to help teach others how to release suffering. – From Buddhism
Immortal: A living being transcending the physical to become a spiritual teacher. – From Taoism
It’s interesting how these three types of beings intersect each other. While different, the three ideals do cross over in application of how they can help others grow.
I am going to take a different path in teaching about Angels, Bodhisattva, and Immortals. Instead of going over stories about these beings, as a Taoist I think it’s more important to show how we can embrace the ideals, represented by these beings, into our own life.
We can embrace three lessons.
- Lesson of Angels: How to be whole.
- Lesson of Bodhisattva: How to live with compassion
- Lesson of Immortals: Living within our spiritual nature.
This article will focus on lessons of wholeness and compassion. Much of the site is already dedicated to helping people live a more spiritual life. I recommend working with spiritual growth as a starting point.
Working Towards Wholeness
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by life at times. Taoism teaches us to pause and take in the patterns of life around us. We can flow with what life presents to us, in a manner to use everything around us to reinforce our essence and heart.
Rumi illustrates wholeness nicely:
To accept our inner nature is connected to the whole of the universe, is to understand and then balance between being unique and being connected to everything. An angel manifests when we feel disconnected or broken, to show us a bridge between being alone and whole.
- Wholeness is a balancing act between being both unique and connected to the universe at once.
It then becomes a dance between the moments expressing uniqueness as “I”, the moments being one with what is around you and the moments you have a balance between “I” and everything.
The juggle of embracing all three of these moments is the foundation of living a graceful life, of having wholeness.
Looking at the World
Right now, look around, witness a world tearing itself apart trying to be rich in comfort at the expense of others. True power will be in not how you gain from others but in how we rebalance our equality with all life. This means balancing out three aspects of living.
(1) As your own person.
(2) As a part of *** many communities ***.
(3) Connected to inner acceptance: in a balance of being one with the world and yet alive as yourself.
The truth is people try to do all three at once. That fails since these stances are at odds with each other. The secret of wholeness (not a secret; rather it’s a practice call: LIVING) is you dance between these three moments. Never spend too much time in one style of a moment for too long. Then in that dance, you discover a balance between doing all three in sequence relative to each other. Once you begin dancing between these moments, you will discover, peace, a kind lifestyle, an expression of yourself that ripples out and changes the world to the power of living a life well lived, that merges into what we can call wholeness.
When the movement between these three types of lifestyles is seamless, we call that grace. Look around, and you will discover over thousands of years many spiritual communities wrestling with this challenge. I will say as a species we are still coming to terms in how to embrace wholeness. We all still have a part to play in coming together. As a society, we need to work together to polish up some answers, and your input makes all the difference so don’t be passive. Doing nothing keeps you disconnected and broken away from others.
I can say this: you can start simply and practice these four steps.
- Take a moment every day, to do something for yourself, even if small like to enjoy a warm cup of tea, or to draw a doodle. But linger in it and enjoy it.
- Then take a moment every day, to do something kind, if even small, like giving another person a smile, or animal a bit of attention. But linger in it and connect truly.
- Then take a moment every day. To witness something, just witness it and realize in witnessing it… you are part of it and share.
- Then over time, dance between these moments, expand them out, grow them with practice, and it will become a whole lifestyle which expands into a complete life that you could never stop being because it is YOU.
In this find your own wholeness and -> you will be both unique and one with the universe both.
We are within times that will test our compassion. More importantly, compassion is the answer that can save the world.
What is compassion?
Compassion is a composite process. Take some love, add in healing, mix in some insight of how we are connected and a desire to be greater. Let’s look at the sub-elements.
Love is to become more.
Healing is making a person whole.
Kindness is working with one’s essence.
Insight is releasing something to gain something.
Compassion is the merging of love, kindness, healing & insight. Now let’s do the spiritual math and add it all up.
Another truth: Compassion has two sides!
- Yin: Compassion is the act of becoming whole towards our larger collective nature.
- Yang: Compassion is the act of accepting & acting to your individual essence.
Wholeness isn’t a single thing; it’s the collage of everything coming together, towards what we call the universe.
Healing Society with Compassion
Our modern world is fractured by people isolating themselves and not working with each other. It seems people are increasingly becoming disassociated and uncommunicative with each other. To such a degree it’s become shoot and don’t ask questions.
Compassion for our times requires us to learn how to reach out again, to communicate and work with each other with all our differences.
Compassion requires diversity: diversity of everything. As modern society burns up the planet for profit, it has created a doomed monoculture. Survival comes down to diversity which only comes out of compassion.
Since it is about diversity, it means the solution ahead of us will be a thousand solutions working together.
We cannot wait for angels to save us. We are the angels when we act with compassion and work towards wholeness.
Its been handed to us: here and now!
To stand up and make our way into truth.
Because we don’t have wings
yet we can help each other fly.
I challenge each person to strive for kindness, to discover compassion. To give a hand to each other and help each person around us to be whole. We each will have our unique spin on compassion. Helping in a thousand thousand different ways. When we add up each version of compassion, we will come together and discover – a healed world.
I call to each of you, to explore compassion. Becuase you are the only angels I know.
(Even if you are still discovering this fact for yourself)
The Nature of Saints
Here is a personal story from my life. I wandered into a church, then to a memorial to a bodhisattva. From the clash of the two juxtaposed to each other, I then heard an echo of what it means to be an angel.
Exploring San Francisco
poured concrete ripples,
Of Man-made labor.
My escorts two street pigeons
Clergy of city soot gray
pigeon walking beside me
cooing bird Latin
How Roman Catholic pigeons really are
in a walk only pigeons and popes achieve.
People crisscrossing on the street
Quickly making holy signs,
Creating invisible lines of prayer.
Crisscrossing, moving on by.
highlighted with a sign on the door:
DONATION FOR 7 DAY CANDLES:
(Due to a high cost of maintenance,
supply and demand)
Deliverance is never cheap.
Moving thru doors,
quiet, quietly, quiet.
Only a few inside.
A janitor cleans pews
Four random people silent :
calling to above.
Children play as a parent prays
Along the way, the aisle outlined
candles, hundreds of flickering lights
candles hundreds of candles
burning — 58 cents a day — away to soot.
Walking up to the altar.
Discover brightly lit yellow hazard tape,
across the alter steps
–“caution trip hazard”–
warning the faithful
before proceeding further,
before reaching god.
Looking up, at the altar
Find Jesus: on a cross
In marble, eyes closed, not seeing me.
Twins of Jesus stand guard
To the Right: A wooden cross bearing
a wooden Jesus
To the Left: Madonna holds his corpse.
Seems strange always to find him in pain.
Looking up to a vaulted heaven…
Expecting to find a pained gaze looking back down
instead of a glow of windows.
Stain glass bridges to redemption
Lit of sun all twisted aglow
— it seems right —
Men and glass are of the same nature.
The church is silent
occasional child play
the occasional clatter of a cleaner’s dustpan.
This is the sound of praying.
The noise of children pulls attention
back towards the beginning.
The entrance door shimmers heavenly
Seemingly a trick of the light
As on the other side of the door
is a waterfall
to the Martin Luther King’s memorial.
Water falling into rippling cascades
making the door absolutely shimmer
in its light.
Ahead of me calls
Modern Day King Martin
Behind me lies Past King Jesus.
Both are calling from the dead
Using the voice of builders
of here and now
of saints in the past.
Standing at the alter
I cannot pray.
Instead silently writing this down
perhaps poetry is praying of a sort
to god? To myself? To who?
Will glass men heed words
Will this poem burn as brightly
as a $4.00 candle
not likely… so Instead, I leave quietly.
The church has silenced
too many before me
Stronger more outspoken men
Have stood before many altars
Stronger men have been broken
into silence by these altars.
Noise is for the living
This is a silent place.
The church is only for holding the bones
of the past and saints.
Life, the present, the place to speak
is on the streets
where the truly needful sleep.
The streets where Jesus and Martin
both stood out and made the difference.
Being an angel means
—- having no wings.
Means lifting up to their feet
those who have fallen off the beat.
Walking back out
out past the sleeping people in the grass
out, into the daily grind of the city
out, into the light
back to the MLK memorial
Visiting for the last time to see
Martin Luther King
His words echo before me
Off of me From me:
I have a dream
what has been deemed impossible.
To shift from a material oriented society
to a person oriented society
to join together in with our humanity.
I would rather Die in poverty
than to destroy with prosperity.
Standing not in comfort
but to face our times of trouble.
Thank god all mighty
thru the grace of man.
I want to do God’s will
to free Man’s will.
We are free at last
free from material greed to be ourselves.
The ultimate measure of a man
is helping others to be free.
These are revolutionary times
if we are brave enough to make it so.
What he would say today
Isn’t for him to say.
It has been handed to us: now,
here and now!
To stand up
and make our way into truth.
Because we don’t have wings
yet we can help each other fly.
Casey Kochmer June 2004
Personal Thoughts About the Poem
A story of my visit to a church and shrine and the overpowering vision I had, not of God, but of man and angels. Of people helping each other to stand. To be a saint isn’t a deed of the past, it’s someone here and now making a difference. It’s a trap to think of saints being in the past. Dead saints in the past cannot touch us now to make a difference. Their stories can inspire us, but it still takes our own living actions in the now to make a difference in the world.
To stand up in compassion, making a difference for others in this fashion is also the path of a Bodhisattva. When we do it with the intent to make others whole, that’s when we act as an angel.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
Martin Luther King
We can be inspired by his words, but it’s up to us, to make the dream real in the here and now!
A Daily Call Out to Angels.
Here we are, another day rolls on by to experience. Every day is a day to live fully. Sadly, in the flow of life, it’s too easy to get caught up in stories and events larger than us. When getting caught up in something bigger than us, we often call out to beings bigger than us to help us. You can call them angels, spiritual teachers, healers even maybe friends.
First and foremost remember this truth: if we call out to others, to angels, to pull us out of the mud at the start of the day, you will still discover yourself stuck in your human-made mud at the end of the day. Being “saved” is only a partial solution. You still have to clean up after yourself! Angels do not clean up after you.
Every day we can fully embrace life with thanks to each other. But because we forget to do this in the clamor to survive, we then set aside holy days to remind us to do just this, reconnect towards ourselves, each other and the universe.
I know this seems like a side trip from the main topic, but in talking about angels, well it brings our desire to uphold that which is holy. We have holy days, which over time have evolved into what we call holidays.
Sadly in the modern world, most of the holy days have been converted into consumer events. Saint Patrick’s day is merely an excuse to drink, Thanksgiving becoming Black Friday, Easter is all about eating junk food. We just passed Valentine’s day, which western society has turned into becoming: buy your beloved something, or you don’t love them day. It’s a shame corporations, and greed for gain has put pressure on people to buy into a holiday. To take advantage of something that many consider holy and then subvert it to be based on money.
In the end, as Taoist, I cannot judge how others express any holiday. What is important is this: find joy within your actions to be whole and make each day a wonder-filled day. Indeed any day can become a holy day if you embrace it with wholeness, wonder, and kindness.
Why limit yourself to only having one day as a holy day? Just because everyone else is rushing about to buy into wholeness as a gift based karmic system doesn’t mean you also need to buy into consumerism. Instead: slow down to discover wholeness can be found in simply being kind and present to yourself and others.
Likewise, avoid making your holidays separate from how you live. That is a trap that stops you from using your other days to be whole within.
Instead of celebrating a holy day to be something external from us, we should embrace a holy day by making about how we live in compassion in our life during that day. Every day can be holy, every day we can find wholeness: within kindness. Live life fully not only in survival mode and discover more in life in return.