Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama and Effortless Effort

What a momentous day. It’s the inauguration of President Obama. I can’t even comprehend the pressure and expectation that is piled on the man from all around the world. He seems to handle it all so effortlessly. I’m enormously grateful for him, for his family and I’m grateful for the incredible groundswell of new energy that is sweeping our weary world.

Obama seems to have mastered the art of wu wei, effortless effort, playful action. Its something I aspire to practice more often in my life. Action that is effective and makes a difference, but action that also increases the peace rather than adding to the drama. Imagine the state of our world if all the Obama energy could be chanelled into playful action.

Carlos Castaneda described effortless effort well- ”If a warrior is to succeed at anything, the success must come gently, with a great deal of effort but with no stress or obsession.” (the link takes you to my friend Brian's great site Philosophers Notes, where he has all sorts of inspirational quotes from Castaneda and many others- worth a look)

While I was thinking about effortless effort, I kept coming back to the Bible’s creation story. There’s something playful about the whole story that captures my imagination. The Creator warrior of Genesis seemed to have effortless effort down pat. Psalm 104 got it in one sentence, describing the Creator “stretching out the heavens like a tent.” You have to have a sense of fun to parallel the creation of the universe with pitching a tent. All I can say is that we’re all very lucky that I wasn’t the creator. If you could only have seen some of the tents I’ve pitched in my time. The universe would be collapsing back in on all of us in the middle of a rainy night.

Ricky Gervais is one of my favorite comedians. He gives a beautiful account of the Genesis creation story as effortless effort. Excuse the language, be prepared to weep with laughter and if you’re short for time, just watch the first few minutes

God created the heaven and earth in the dark, then created light….he said “that’s everything, lets have a look, brilliant.” I love it.

My sermon this past Sunday was on action as a universal spiritual value. It seems that most of the world religions try to hold a balance between thought and action, faith and works. Maybe the only way to hold the balance is through effortless action. I spoke about a dream I had where I met Obama and we shared a light, effortless, moment.

Read the sermon if you want to find out about the dream, as well as some thoughts on effortless effort, and the amazing “Sully” Sullenberger who brought down a plane last week on the Hudson with some of his own effortless action.
I want to live my life with that impact- great effort, but minimal stress and attachment.

1 comment:

Rob Altomonte said...

I'm a big fan of your sermons at the C3. You've turned me onto a whole new world of open, inclusive Christianity. I used to study/practice Tibetan Buddhism but in the end (especially after birth of daughters) Christianity was my ultimate home. My question is about humour/satire. Where do you cross the line between respect and laughter in terms of scripture? Is anything out of bounds comically in your view? Thanks!