How much further?
“Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”
― Alan Watts
Well, that was a rubbish night's sleep.
I'm going to pay for it later.
Still, I'm here — same routine as always.
And, it's Friday. Thank god.
The title (and the content) arrived unbidden — like so much of what I share on Livejournal; blame the muse.
You'll be relieved to know it's not about another heinous journey I had to endure either as a kid — my dad was a very slow driver — nor my kids shouting out from the back seat, "How much further...?". Instead, it's apt to describe the way we see our journey towards (inter alia):
spiritual nirvana — i.e. enlightenment.
OK, perhaps I've thrown in a few for good effect but you get my drift.
Sadly, though, we never seem to reach the promised land.
Without constantly making these posts too autobiographical, it's clear to me that I was caught in the same pernicious trap of thinking that if only I worked a little harder, thought a little differently or adopted someone else's regime then, and only then, I'd be..., well..., happy.
I tried and tried until, finally, I gave up — or was forced to do so.
And then the long and winding road of (spiritual) 'seeking' started in earnest.
What was I really seeking?
A settled state of mind I think, one where I wasn't constantly at war with myself and so much of the world that ailed my troubled soul. And by god I was an angry man, caught as I was betwixt the heightened sense of my own self-importance and righteousness and, at the same time, wanting to change the world for the better.
Don't ask me when but probably when I first read New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton and listened to his talk on YouTube where he said (I think I've got the words right) "Stand on your own two feet, brother" did I start to seriously question some of my assumptions of life, living and who I was at the deepest, most profound level. Not immediately, perhaps, but after a while the journey within — Who am I? — started to feel if not radically different but certainly more serene; a sense of oneness if you will with all and everything in my purview. Also, I started to see how much of life was a universal flow; namely, some days I was up among the stars, other days in the basement and in between there was a whole of heap of mixed emotions.
But the full expression of Merton's words didn't come home to roost until I read Darryl Bailey's two books, Essence Revisited and Dismantling the Fantasy. Here's an extract which gives you a flavour of things:
Everyone’s experience indicates that everything we are, and everything we do, is simply the movement of existence itself. It’s here that we come to the highest realization indicated in all the great spiritual traditions: we do not exist as anything apart from the flow of nature and that flow is an unformed, inexplicable dance accomplishing itself. — Essence Revisited: Slipping Past the Shadows of Illusion
Of course, that's all well and good but what it's important is not what some guru says (Darryl has never held himself out in that department), but my actual experience of life.
This threw me back to the few the lines from the Heart Sutra which started me on the long and winding spiritual road:
form is emptiness
emptiness is form
To cut a long story short, the seeking did and has ceased at least to the extent that once I gazed into the abyss it was obvious that:
1. everything changes — i.e. it's formless or unformed;
2. the label is not the form; and
3. there is no one making any of this happen — i.e. I'm not willing my will.
Now, dear readers, I'm not asking you to accept any of what I say. In fact, I'd be happy if you dismissed it as a pile of crap but what I'd invite you to consider is your actual experience of life, if, of course, you're still on that road to (as examples only) happiness, success or contentment. Then again, it's really none of my business and we're all expressed the way we are and we do what we do and go where we go, and nothing I say (not that it's of any import or relevance) will make a jot of difference. At least that's my take on things after 52 bone-weary years!
Anyhow, tis that time again: Alfie needs his daily exercise as does the old man.
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