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THE SACRED READINGS
Date: January 22, 1995
- Church of All at Pagosa Springs, CO
Readings: Rev. Hamid
Cecil Touchon - Sermon: Rev. Hamid Cecil Touchon
Style: Formal with chanting
From the Hindu Tradition
Bagavat-Gita Chapter 18: 41,45-47
" The actions of priests,
warriors, commoners and servents are apportioned by qualities born of their
Each one achieves success
by focusing on his own action.
Hear how one achieves success
by focusing on his own action.
By his own action a man finds
Worshipping the source of
all creatures' activity,
The Presence pervading all
Better to do one's own duty
Than to do another man's
Doing action intrinsic to
A man avoids guilt."
From the Buddhist Tradition
The Dhammapada, Chapter 1
"From the mind is one's character
derived; controled by mind, made by mind. Mind is the source either of
bliss or of corruption. By oneself is evil done; by oneself one suffers;
by oneself is evil avoided; by oneself one is purified. Purity and impurity
belong to oneself, no one can purify another. You yourself must make the
From the Native American
"Words of Power" from Gene Keluche,
"Choose those pursuits which
give you the greatest joy; you will do them much better. Do not let somebody
prescribe for you what should be your life. Wait and see; weigh and feel
the flow. Then you will be fulfilled, and you will perform much better."
From the Tradition of the Tao
Tao te Ching, Chapter 41:2
2) "The bright Way looks dim.
The progressive Way looks
The smooth Way looks rugged.
High Virtue appears as a
Great Whiteness seems spotted.
Abundant Virtue seems deficient.
Established Virtue appears
Genuine Virtue appears hollow.
Great Squareness has no corners.
Great talents ripen late
Great sound is silent
Great form is shapeless."
From the Jewish Tradition
'Jewish Wisdom' by Rabbi Joseph
"A Hasidic rebbe by the name
of Zusha used to say,' When I die and come before the heavenly court, if
they ask me, 'Zusha, why were you not as great as Abraham?' I will not
be afraid. I will say that I was not born with Abraham's intelectual capabilities.
And if they ask me, 'Zusha why were you not like Moses?' I will say that
I did not have his leadership skills. But when they ask me 'Zusha why were
you not Zusha?' For that I will have no answer."
From the Christian Tradition
First letter of Paul to the
Corinthians ; Chapter 7: verse 17
"Each one must order his life
according to the gift the Lord has granted him and his condition when God
From the Tradition of Islam
The Koran (translated by A.J. Arberry) Chap.: Cattle; verse 135
"Say: 'O my people, act according
to your station; I am acting (according to mine). And assuredly you will
know who shall possess the Ultimate Abode."
From the Sayings of Hazrat Inayat
"Spiritual attainment is to
become conscious of the Perfect One, who is formed in the heart."
" Verily, the soul has no
birth, no death, no beginning, no end. Sin cannot touch it, nor can virtue
exalt it; it has always been and always will be, and all else is its cover
like a globe over the light."
" Divinity is human perfection
and humanity is divine limitation."
Be Yourself Perfectly
Jan. 22, 1995
Sermon delivered by Reverend
Hamid Cecil Touchon
Very often the actions of
our lives are dictated by our desire to fit in with a group or we have
a desire to be with the crowd. Very often we are willing to compromise
our own sense of personal integrity or our clarity about our path in life
by trying to fit in with what other people think we ought to be doing.
While it is important, in a community, that people respect the ways of
each other, at the same time, individually, we are each responsible to
understand what our own particular path in life is whether we feel comfortable
in that understanding or not.
I thought of picking the
story of Moses from the time of the burning bush until Moses goes before
the Pharaoh as a good example of how we are reluctant to take up our own
path in life because very often we are afraid that other people won't like
us or think that we are strange or any number of other reasons. We always
have this fear of how others will think of us.
In the case of Moses, he
saw the burning bush out in the desert and he went up to it and God said,
'It is Me.' Of course most people will be a little shaky when the voice
of God starts talking to us from a burning bush, especially when that God
gives us a commission or work in life that we are suppose to take up.
God told Moses to go to the
Pharaoh and tell him to let the Israelites go. Moses said, 'who am I to
do such a thing and God said, 'I'll be with you.'
Then Moses said, 'What if
the Israelites don't believe that you sent me?' because Moses was having
a hard time believing in his ability to do his job. But God gave him some
signs as proofs.
Then Moses complained that
he would not be able to talk eloquently, still not feeling confident but
God said I will give you the words. And still after Moses had given every
excuse that he could think of to get out of the job and seeing that God
had a solution for everything, he asked God to send someone else. So God
send his brother with him; Aaron
So here are the several times
that Moses kept coming up with excuses why he couldn't be the guy to do
the job of the prophet. 'I'm not very g-g-g-ood at this k-k-k-kind of thing
Lord, s-s-s-send someone else!' Moses stuttered. I don't know how many
of you are aware of this, he had a speech impediment. Naturally he was
afraid of being embarrassed in Pharaoh's court and in front of the elders
of the Israelites.
Moses was in a very hard
position once he realized what his mission in life was and that he would
have to sacrifice himself to it. All of us are a sacrifice to our own lives.
Whether we are sacrificing ourselves to our own selfish desires or whether
we are sacrificing ourselves for our deeper, true destiny, the destiny
that we have come into this world to fulfil, then our reward will be equal
to that sacrifice.
As the Buddhist scripture
reads, it if from our own mind that we live our lives. Our lives are a
product of the kind of thinking process that we engage ourselves in; our
personal priorities. We need to consider our priorities very clearly. Why
do we choose to put one priority over another? Why do we choose one path
through life over all others? We all feel comfortable with our own personal
choice, but at the same time we should weigh this against what our truest
path through life might be.
Very often people are motivated
by fear to choose one path in life over another path that they would have
chosen if they were not afraid of pursuing it. A lot of times people are
afraid that they are not going to make enough money, or they are not going
to have enough status or importance in the eyes of their community.
For instance, I am an artist.
Only a very small percentage of people come close to making a living as
an artist. All along the trail there were plenty of people who advised
me to take up some other path in life that would be more financially secure,
but that wasn't my path. I didn't choose to go another way and, in fact,
I preferred poverty doing what my calling in life was over making money
and having respect from other people in the communities where I have lived
by doing what others would respect as an occupation. In the end, we find
out that nobody really cares what you do for a living anyway. So the important
thing is that we pursue what is truly important to us.
Another thing that holds
us back in our striving is our desire to be perfect at what we do or to
have perfect circumstances to work with without really understanding what
perfection is. Very often we will find that our sense of perfection is
so demanding that we really can't live up to it. We have to recognize that
perfection is something that is not exactly perfect; not in the sense that
we define perfect. This is why I picked this scripture from the Tao te
Ching. 'The Bright Way looks dim, Established Virtue seems shabby'. These
statements about the Tao, which is the Divine Harmony behind the appearance
of things, show that perfection is not perfect. What our idea of perfect
is, is not in conformity with the perfection of the Divine Nature because
we take the idea of perfection past its natural limits. A certain amount
of caos or shabbiness is what gives the dynamic to Order; what gives Order
something to work with and what provides Order with the ability to always
be unique. Everything is already perfect if we will try to understand what
natural perfection is. We, however, must conform ourselves to this perfection
in order to understand it. And this understanding is intuitive as in art
rather than anylitical as in science.
There is a harmony behind
everything that we do and if we can recognize this harmony - which isn't
easy - then we are following the Tao. One has to peer behind the activities
of life to see this harmony and it is subtle. It is like looking at words
on a page. If you don't know the meanings of words then you don't understand
anything when you read them. If you have never noticed this harmony behind
the activity of life then it is hard to imagine that it is there. But once
you do recognize how this harmony is working through all of our lives,
then you begin to see it more and more all of the time. This is what gives
us confidence to go forward in life.
As is illustrated by the
story of Zusha from the Jewish tradition, we are all here to do what is
our specific job to do. We are not here to do each other's job, we are
here to do our own. No one can do it for us.
Often we are impressed with
someone. I remember a wedding I once performed. After it was over the groom
came up to me and said, 'I want to be just like you.'
This struck me are an odd
compliment but what I ended up telling this fellow was that if he really
wanted to be like me then he should follow whatever his calling was in
life because that is all I am doing.
There is something special
in everyone of us. If we are constantly refining the qualities that are
'intrinsic to our being' as the Hindu scripture says, then we are blameless
in what ever our activity is because we are following the nature that we
have been provided. Then we are following our path in life.
In conclusion, it is good
to emulate others; to emulate their best qualities. My wife often tells
my daughter, 'Copy the best from other people not the worst.' Often we
will see people who will use the wrong actions of others as an excuse for
themselves to do the same. Figure out what good qualities others are examples
of and then use these as lessons for your own life rather than to look
at how poorly many people do things. This is the meaning behind the reading
from the Quran, 'Act according to your station.'. This means live up to
your abilities and talents. We all have something special that we can learn
from or give to each other. If we are wise we will look for and recognize
the fine qualities that each of us is a living example of and try to understand
how we can cultivate and incorporate these qualities into the nature of
our own person.
On the one hand, being ourselves
requires that we have a certain amount of pride and personal dignity, but
at the same time, to fully develop ourselves, we have to have enough humility
to recognize that there is something that we all can learn from each other.
There is no one who doesn't have something to teach us if we are willing
God Bless you