"Plant Where You Bloom"
by Dr. Larry Morris
Thank you, Trish. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our service this morning. Will you turn to your neighbor and welcome your neighbor? Okay, my talk this morning, gotta say this right, "Plant Where You Bloom," right? You've all heard "Bloom where you're planted" - well this is "Plant Where You Bloom," so it's a little different. We'll see how it goes here.
I have a few quotes that I think are pertinent to this talk this morning. The first one is from Martin Luther King. "If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'"
Okay, this is Margo Fontaine: "Great artists are people who find the way to be themselves in their art."
Mikhail Baryshnikov: "I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself."
Okay, here's (I can pronounce this one): Abigail Van Buren, "If you want a place in the sun, you've got to put up with a few blisters." Profound.
Sig Paulson: "Inner Power - the power to heal, to prosper, to guide you is not in the sky, it's deep down inside you."
Franz Kafka, I'm shifting around here fast, so keep up with me. "You do not need to leave your room, remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen. Simply wait. Do not even wait. Be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet."
Lets see, we've got one more I really like in this book. Unknown: "Stop looking for what seems to be missing. You have everything you need to start with, nothing." Okay, have you got all those?
This one is from the Bible: "Behold, now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation, The Kingdom of God is within you. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Now we are delivered from the law that we should serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help. Before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear. Now is come salvation and strength and the Kingdom of our God.
Okay, my talk this morning, "Plant Where You Bloom." This is a talk similar to what Joseph Campbell has been talking about on that series on Channel 5. And Bill Moyers says, "Well, Dr Campbell, how can we find our way in this world. You know we talk about finding our salvation in this life, and how do we do that?" Campbell said, "Follow your bliss." Follow your bliss, that was the prescription he gave.
So I wanta talk about "Plant Where You Bloom," not "Bloom Where You're Planted." Because a lot of us tend to emphasize our weaknesses rather than our strengths. We focus on our needs rather than our abilities. We focus on our lack rather than on what we really do have, and especially what we have to give and what we have to share in this life.
Today I wanta talk about how to take our strengths, you might say, and run with them. Because a lot of times, we take what is really - we think we need to work on our weaknesses. Did you ever hear somebody say, "What's wrong with me?" A lot of people say that. I'm sure none of us here this morning have said that yet this morning. It's still early though. What's wrong with ME? You know do you ever wake up at three o'clock in the morning and say, "What am I doing wrong?" Why isn't it working?
Well I want us to talk and think about and meditate on and reflect on what's right with us, and are we going fully enough into what's right. Or are we too hanging back?
(Is the cooler bothering somebody? Jim, you wanta turn that cooler off back there. Because I don't want anyone to get distracted during this talk. This is a good talk. I've been working on this for several lifetimes. So I think I've got it this time! Thank you, Jim.)
I want us to talk about the strong suit, going with the strong suit. I once read this book by Catherine Ponder, who is great on prosperity, and she said, "You know, even if you don't have any money, save up all the money you have and buy the best suit you can get, you know, and then wear it everyday, wear it - wear your strong suit, your good suit if it makes you feel good, keep wearing that same suit. It doesn't matter, you see, people, five minutes later they forget what you're wearing anyway. They don't give a - and it makes you feel good!
And that impressed me so much I went out and I bought a real expensive sportcoat, paid it off, took three years - Dior suede. Dior suede, it was a good sportcoat. You know I wore that coat, wore it out actually. Go with your strong suit.
A lot of us play out our hands in life with the weakest hand, you know we say, "I'm gonna make this hand better, I'm gonna improve this weak hand hopefully." When I was in the Air Force, the first few years, a lot of times when you're in the service, probably not a lot of people here have been in the service so I'm gonna share this with you in case you ever go in the service you'll know what to expect. In the service you spend a lot of time doing nothing but hanging around, so people play cards, poker especially, at least when I was in the Air Force in Alaska, especially. There's not a lot to do in Alaska. It's, ah, six months of the year it's dark and cold. Very cold, like 60 below cold. You don't wants go outside and run around too much at 60 below.
So we played a lot of poker and when I first started playing poker I noticed one thing that would happen repeatedly. I would lose. Over and over, no matter what! And sometimes it would seem like, if it was luck I had the worst. But I noticed there would always be two or three guys and they always won! And I always lost. And I thought, "There's something wrong here. Something isn't quite fitting right."
So, being an avid reader, I finally (this was a major breakthrough) and I didn't even meditate back then but this insight came to me: go to the base library and check out a book on how to win at poker. This was a big event in my life. So I did, I went to the base library and sure enough, there was a book, How to Win at Poker. I bought that book and I studied it religiously. This was like major script.
And do you know what that book said? I'm gonna tell you this because I no longer play poker, so I don't have to worry anymore. At least I haven't played in a long time. It says, "The secret of winning at poker is only stay in when your hand is good." It means you only play one out of every seven hands. And it dawned on me, what I'd been doing, I'd been playing all seven hands. I never dropped out. I would stay in to the bitter end and it was usually bitter. Only stay in one out of every seven hands? And I thought "Well, that's gonna make it boring!" It does make it more boring but you win!
You only stay in if you've got like a pair of aces or a pair of kings in the first five cards, or better. And it changes your whole outlook on poker. You're no longer gambling. There's no gamble to it! And I started winning.
I bought new clothes, and you know, I bought my first wardrobe in Alaska as a result of that book. True story. Went down to a fancy men's store and bought some of these real fancy sweaters, still have some of those sweaters, and this was a way back.
Go with your strong suit. It has occurred to me, I had been playing weak, weak hands over and over again and losing. And in our life, this is not something just for poker, in our life when we go with something that we really either don't wanta do or we don't do well, or we don't even like to do, over and over again when people pick things that they don't really like to do they don't feel good about, and they say, "This is what I'm going to make my career out of." This is what I'm gonna become, you know. I'm gonna be this even though I hate it. This is what I'm gonna do with my life!
And then they wonder why they get burned out. Pick something that if they pay you to do it, that's gravy. That's icing on the cake. "Gee, and they pay me for this!" See. Go with your strong suit.
What is it that, at what point in our life do we reach a place where we see what's right for us to do, and then we do it? And then we do it, we follow through. It can be on any level, relationships, jobs, family, spiritual.
The story about Buddha, Buddha after he got disaffected with the world he left his kingdom and he went out and he became a wandering aesthetic, a holy man, he went around and he practiced all sorts of spiritual disciplines for about seven years. None of them worked. He tried everything. He fasted. He tormented his body, flagellated himself; he did all these terrible things to himself and none of it helped. He didn't get enlightened. He was seeking realization, spiritual realization.
Finally he left all that behind, and he said, "Forget it, it's not working." He went and he ate a meal and then he sat underneath this tree, he found a little tree to sit under called bow tree in northern India. He sat under this tree and something inside started to quicken in him. And he made a vow, he said, "I will not get up from this tree until I attain enlightenment release." And that was his vow and he sat there until he experienced what is called nirvana or enlightenment, self realization. He went with what really felt right to him and he refused to budge from that spot until it happened.
Now a lot of us, we give up so soon, you know the mosquitos start biting, I can testify to that because I sat under the same tree in India and I made the same vow (remember the Buddha's vow) and I said I will not get up until lightening strikes, you know and I sat there and the mosquitos started biting and my stomach started rumbling and it was getting hot and ah - after a little bit I said, "Well maybe I will get up this time! Ha ha."
And that's how we do, you know we negate sometimes!
Did you ever hear people negate their own thoughts? They'll say, "Oh well, that was just nothing, you know." Or their deeds, their actions, their kindnesses, their compassion, their qualities, their talents. Sometimes we negate what we're really good at and what will take us forward.
You know dancers perfect their dancing, musicians their music, writers their writing. They become obsessive fanatics. If they're any good at all they have to become a fanatic! Keep that in mind. The greatest writers and the greatest teachers or whatever they do, they become fanatical, they become one-pointed in their pursuit of what they like to do.
I love the story about James Joyce spending three weeks writing one sentence, when he was writing Ulysses, because I can just see his wife coming home one day from work, you know she was working and he's home, and she says, "How are you doing?" And James Joyce all excited says, "I'm doing great honey! Today I almost got two words right." Can you imagine his wife, "You spent all day and you still haven't gotten those two words right?"
There is a true story about Oscar Wilde when he was writing a poem he said, "I've spent all morning with this poem, deciding to take out a comma." And he said, "And then I spent all afternoon deciding to put it back in." So what kind of dedication to one's inner life does that take? What kind of self confidence turns us off? What kind of confidence in ourselves that we have something that is really good and especially if we like it? That's what I wanta get at, if we like doing it anyway, chances are it's going to work beyond ourselves.
And too often we don't plant, we don't solidify right where that strength, that inner desire, that inner clarity is. You know what we like to do over and over again, make a career out of it if you can. Make a vocation, let that be your strength that takes you forward. And if you have a success in that area it will open out into other areas.
And then again, don't negate it. Sometimes we have a oh, something we're really good at, and it isn't always immediately recognized. Sometimes we have to put it out there a few times over and over again until it starts to connect with the world.
When I was starting what you might say was my spiritual unfoldment process, the first thing and the best thing that ever happened was that somebody taught me how to meditate. And that for me was MAJOR importance, you know, because all I had to sit and do nothing for 15 to 20 minutes once a day, and I can do that! You know, I found out that not everybody can do this, believe me, but I could.
I was consistent, I was - you know I have a tendency toward tenacity. If I can grasp, sometimes it takes you forever to grasp something. It takes years, I had to get hit over the head bang, bang, bang. But once I get it, sit and do nothing and that will be good for you. Oh, okay. Once I got it, you see I inculcated, I assimilated, I could do that, and I did that everyday. I meditated. And my life did get better.
So one time this teacher that had taught me to meditate, this was after years, actually about 10 years, said, "Now you should start teaching other people to meditate." I said, "No, no I'm not ready. You know I don't have anything to give, I don't have anything to say, I don't understand it yet. I'm confused." The usual excuses. The person said, "No, no you can do it you can do it. And I said "Okay, I'll try."
So I scattered flyers all around everywhere, you know the university, everywhere I could think of. Meditation Class, and this was gonna be in Corrales. And ah, when the night that the class came I was living up in the mountains and I was so excited and I got in my car to drive about 80 miles (I think it was) a long way, all the way from North Highway 10 through I-40 up 1-25 across to Corrales.
I got there, two students showed up; actually one and a half, because this one guy brought his roommate, and the roommate was only going to keep this guy company. So he only shut up about half of the time, and this was an 8 week class! Every week I got in my car and drove all the way to Corrales, did my Meditation Class, and half the time only one showed up so I had one and a half students for my first class, and I thought, "Its gonna get better, stay with it."
So I did even twice as much scattering around the flyers; I did everything, I talked to everyone, I cajoled, I pleaded. . This time, the next class (ha ha) I had two. Just two, they stayed the whole time. The third class, I moved it over to the university. I still only had two students but at least it was a little closer. The drive wasn't so bad. So I stayed with that, for years I taught that class. Four years, at the Honor Center at UNM, I taught this meditation. I called it the Endless Meditation. It just kept going, and some people would come and then they would leave and new people would come and they would leave and I kept doing it. Hammering away. Tenacity! That's my strong suit.
If you know what your strong suit is, use it. Go with it. And so after about four years of teaching Meditation, I still didn't have a whole lot of sense about the value of it. You know, I've been teaching it and people would come and people would go. Then I got a letter in the mail, an invitation, "Grand Teton Meditation Retreat, Jackson Lake Lodge, Jackson, Wyoming, invites you to be on the program to give a five day workshop on meditation as part of the overall program of this retreat." I thought finally, confirmation. Finally my reward, after teaching meditation for all this time, so I drove, it's a long drive to Jackson Lake, Wyoming, and I was so excited. I was literally high, you know, I was revved up. I thought this is my opportunity to have big recognition for my teaching. Plus maybe help some people. (I was thinking of recognition first, right? Smart.) A little spiritual pride thrown in there.
So I was up there with the big guys, like these were the big seminar leaders from all over the country, and there were several hundred people at this. So they announced it the first day everybody met, and the speakers stood up and did a little bow, and the MC announced who they were and what they would be teaching.
I was the only one teaching Meditation and I thought "This is great. This is a meditation retreat, I'm the only one teaching meditation. I'm gonna have hundreds coming to my class."
So I got up there the first morning, I walked into the room, I had the blackboard all dusted off, I was waiting for the streams of people to come pouring in - 2 people showed up. Two elderly, very elderly you know, not spring chickens - I thought "I'm back to my two people." I was so crushed. What would you do? I was about to cancel the class. I was gonna say, "Well why don't we - they're teaching Prosperity next door - why don't the three of us could go listen to that guy? Obviously he's got three hundred people in there."
So I said, "Okay, here I am back to my two, I had to go back to that tenacity, that persistence. So okay, two people will do. "Meditation is the process of allowing the mind to become still." You probably have never been faced with this where you get a low turnout for what you have to do, and then you gotta go ahead and do it anyway. You have to put your best face on it. So I did my class; but at the end of the class, the guy starts giving me trouble. He says, "Yeah, that's all fine. It quiets your mind and this and that, but I have all these problems." Well I always have an answer for that, "Don't worry, the problems are not that serious. They will go away. It'll be okay back . Just tomorrow. stay with it, just do it, come on -(don't bug me), come back tomorrow."
So I kinda dismissed this guy and said, "Just don't bother me about it, it'll be okay. So the next day I thought, "Maybe they won't come back and then I can go next door and hear the Prosperity. Find out how to get more people to come to my class. They showed up the next day, so I did my Part 11 of the Meditation Series, and I did my standard realms of the subconscious, letting go and forgiveness, and all the stuff I talk about in Meditation that a lot of you have heard endlessly.
THIRD DAY: They were there again, two students, no additions, no subtractions. He kept telling me everyday about the problems. "Don't worry about the problems." This guy was a real, I mean you know...anyway the fourth day I'm still plugging away, and I thought, "One more day." Because you know it's depressing. You're up there at this big lodge and hundreds of people attending classes, and everybody kept coming up to me and they said, "What class did you go to today?" I said, "Mine." "Oh, a lot of people there?" "Well, you know it's a pretty good turnout." Ha Ha.
Finally the last day, and I thought, "Well, I can get through this, only Tuesday, Big Deal!" So I got up there, I didn't even go to the morning seminar that everybody goes to. I was so depressed by then I didn't go that morning. And I went into my classroom to do my last class for the two students, I go into the room and there were two hundred people in the room!
And I thought, "Oh gee, they moved the Prosperity, now where's my class? I walked in, I saw all these people, I said, "Do you know where they moved the Meditation Class?" They said, "It's here." I said, "It's here the last morning? What are all these people doing here?" And I couldn't understand what had happened, but I went ahead anyway. I figured what the heck, so I just, "Meditation is the process of allowing..." I did my whole introduction all over again. Right? For the last class, for two hundred people... And then afterwards I turned to somebody after everyone was leaving, and I said, "What happened, why were all these people here?" And they said, "Well, the main speaker of the morning was Judge Thomas Revery who is the Chief Justice for the Texas Supreme Court, and he talked about this great class that he'd been taking all week in Meditation from Larry Morris, and he'd been telling them all his problems all week long.
So go with what your strong suit is. I figured it out the other day you know, from humble beginnings I have taught over 2,000 people in Meditation in the last 15 years. Over 2,000! I don't know how many are still practicing it, but I think at least half, a conservative estimate. So I thought that's pretty good for someone who just learned to sit still in a chair for 15 minutes. Major accomplishment.
So what is your strong suit? What are you doing with it? What are you doing with it, you know, it doesn't much matter as long as it's something you really love. When I was in graduate school and they said, "If you're gonna stay in school anymore you gotta finish. You gotta at least try to finish." So the last thing was the dissertation, which is like a major - you have to write on something that has never been written on, and you have a committee of at least four people has to who judge that, and it has to be about 200 pages typed, and it has to be very scholarly done and all this with footnotes and pages and pages of references. And I thought what, Color Imagery of Shakespeare, you know those are some of the standard dissertation subjects...Italian Opera As It Relates To Dante's Divine Comedy - Ugh - Fourteenth Century Poetry As It Relates To Spencer's Faerie Queene.
You know, these are some of the great topics of our time for dissertations. I can't - you know you have to spend two or three years working on something, that means taking your whole being and putting it on hold for two or three years and just focusing on one thing.
So I thought, "What could I get away with?" What could I do that I would enjoy, I have to like it, I can't spend three years working on something I hate, you know, it wasn't in my temperament. So I figured out one writer I really like the most of all the writers I knew, who was totally obscure, no one had ever heard of him but he was respectable-obscure but respectable, but a mystic, spiritual person, and I thought, "Maybe I could sneak this through, right, and I did it, and it was really a spiritual dissertation, and they approved it, they even liked it. Thank God. Talk about miracles. It was called
Charles Williams Novels and the Process of Spiritual Transformation in the Twentieth Century
And they approved that, I got a PhD out of that. Now if I were trying the Color Imagery and Shakespeare I would still, I can promise you, still be there plugging away everyday. And most people do spend 20 years on a dissertation and I would have been one of them.
What do you love? Follow your bliss. What is it that draws your heart out and says, "Here, do this!" And you say, "I love to do this." Then do it. Do it as a strength, go with your strength. It doesn't have to be a book or whatever, what do you like to do? What do you really like to do. Make that something that carries you into a momentum, and a momentum brings us out of wherever we are that is stuck. Anytime we get excited about something we start to really take off, and all we have to do is figure out what am I good at, what do I like to do, and usually they're very close. Usually they're very close. And whatever it is, all we have to do is open our hearts to God and say, "Okay, I'm ready to go forward with this, and God, however it's supposed to open up for me, if this is the right time, then may it happen. Then let it happen for me now."
So let's close our eyes and let's decide this is the right time this morning, right now, we're the right person, and that in our hearts we can open ourselves up to the presence and the power and the reality of God within us. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, the Kingdom of Heaven is within. God, we turn to you and ask that you strengthen our strong point, whatever the deepest yearning us for completion. Whatever our bliss is, whatever the realization that we need to know this morning to take our next step forward in this life, however that needs to be for each of us. We now affirm and accept your presence, your power and your reality guiding us forward to complete, to achieve, to attain our heart's desire in this life, in this world, being who we are and giving ourselves to that and letting you bless it. So together each in our own way, we take a moment or so and rest in our hearts in silence letting go to God, letting ourselves be renewed and strengthened and supported and filled with the peace and love of God, we surrender to you now and let go at this moment in the silence together.