(Dalai Lama with Desmond Tutu | photo @ Seeds of Compassion)
Desmond Tutu said this during an event where he picked up an award for his peace efforts. He ended his thank you speech by cupping his hands as though carefully cradling something fragile and small, and said (paraphrased):
Do not forget…to God you are utterly, utterly precious…so go and be what you are.
SANCTUARY: A PLACE OF REFUGE & PROTECTION
One morning I felt compelled to go to church. I only go a few times a year, seeing that I’m technically supposed to be Buddhist. I do believe in the greater universe, a universal spiritual guide out there looking over all of us. I’m not a big proponent of organized religion because (in my opinion only) that’s rather limiting, judgy, and a bit scary. I do have to say it makes life much easier knowing I have faith in something bigger than myself. It is hard to measure and intangible, but that’s what makes life interesting!…knowing that there are things I can’t explain.
OVERCOMING SPIRITUAL PHOBIA
The idea of “church” is still scary to me–like the way its socially-constructed by organized religion…but sometimes you need a spiritual space to appreciate what’s spiritual, regardless if you’re religious or not. So I visited an all-inclusive faith alliance where I live. It’s quite popular since it’s not old-fashioned, nor long and boring, nor all preachy. There are no stained glass, no religiousy things, or steeples. It’s in a modern looking building that blends in with the trendy, refurbished heritage homes surrounding it. People all all ages, all ethnicities, all ages come. There’s singing, which threw me off the first time — and it’s still not my favorite thing at all — but I hold out for the short and sweet sermon by a very cool pastor who’s of Japanese descent himself. He wears regular clothes, and speaks like a professor (or maybe even a motivational speaker) rather than a preacher. Thank goodness. He interdisperses his sermon with connections to pop culture and uses a lot of humour. But he’s no idiot, he explains things in a very precise scholarly way so it doesn’t sound all hokey (he used to be high up in Sony Japan being bilingual, then decided to study theology in Boston).
A GIFT…YET WHY DO WE SOMETIMES RIP THE WRAPPING PAPER OFF?
Today’s theme was relationships. Lots of people cried and sniffed through it. This didn’t have to be in a church necessarily. It was about how we sometimes destroy relationships (not necessarily only romantic ones, but family and friends, coworkers, the like) because we feel shame and try to block the gift of a healthy relationship by putting up a front, because we think we need to do this to get approval from others. We tend to exaggerate our attributes to attract people to us; then we begin to have doubts and things break down because we wonder if these people like the positive person we put out there that hides our faults…or if they like us when we are our real selves.
We test other people with guilt, with manipulation to see if they can handle the real us because the persona we show as a front is not always easy to maintain. He gave us an example, such as when someone mentions a movie that everyone says is good but you’ve never heard of, well, you tend to go along and pretend to know it because you don’t want to seem lame; or we pretend to understand a concept or word when we really don’t because we don’t want to seem stupid. Even these little lies to cover our perceived shame hinders our growth and ability to make relationships that are true and real. And it reveals our underlying fear of looking weak or unworthy.
HAVE NO FEAR, YOU ARE LOVED
Then he mentioned that sometimes we think no one will like or love us if we aren’t perfect, positive and good. We have faults and weaknesses, and we beat ourselves up over them, while trying to exaggerate the things we are good at. Outside we look fine and people may envy us, but inside we’re conflicted and angry or sad. It’s not until you accept your weaknesses and understand and believe that the universe (God or any other spiritual being) loves you regardless of these, that you can accept yourself and be true with others.
He suggested that it may be easier once you become a parent, because as your child grows up you notice their strengths and weaknesses…but noticing their weaknesses doesn’t mean you love your child any less. Your love for your child shouldn’t change, and may even increase by noticing how they share the same attibutes, both good and bad, as you do.
This is a nice thought…that no matter how weak you feel, you are still utterly precious to many, including God.
I try to remember this…every time I want to give up….every time someone wants to defeat me….every time I mess up…every time I feel I’m not brave enough…every time I feel guilty…every time I say no…every time, all the time when I catch a moment. And so shall you, because it’s so true that to God you are utterly, utterly precious….so go and be what you are.
You can watch/listen to Reverand Desmond Tutu, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, as he accepts a Spiritual Leadership Award (and says the aforementioned words). PS: Personally, I’d fast-forward to abouts 5:20 because that’s when Desmond Tutu begins to speak.