February 23, 2015

Some insight into what it is like to engage in spiritual practice in the midst of all those other humans who populate our modern daily lives:

“We are people of and with other people. Even when we are not in a community, and when we are not in a marriage, even when we are not wedded to a family, we live with and amongst other people, and so we do not have that solitude, that aloneness that the monk’s revelation might be based on, that might ground and feed the sage’s wisdom. There are good reasons for living together. It is easier to make do, it is easier to be comfortable, it is easier to be nourished. And while these may not be the highest goals of our spiritual life, they do make that life easier in turn. And so, for many reasons, we are not alone, and so our sadhana—our careful and committed spiritual practice—must be of a different sort than the monks of old, the hermits on mountaintops. Every single day we encounter the weather of our human relationships the way those people encountered the weather of the skies, and these changes in energy and precipitation are not of our doing and often have nothing to do with us but we are there, we are in the presence of the storms of other human beings, and so we are in that storm too, in a way. Likewise when someone else’s joy, someone else’s contentment is like a sunny day to us, a day we did not create, that we do not deserve, that we did nothing to achieve or contribute to—we are there, and that sun is for us just like the sunny day that might grace that hermit’s mountaintop. We are people of people now. And we do not prefer this necessarily, but we have learned that it is inevitable. There are so many of us now, and we are so interwoven, there is no longer the same luxury, the same opportunity for solitude and strict and abiding silence. You must embrace this if you are to be happy here. It is as simple as that. You must embrace the stormy weather, you must embrace the sunshine, you must feel that you are impacted by all those others who drift in and out of your days, and you must embrace that you cannot choose who they will be. You may choose who to have as your lover or who to have as your friend, but you cannot choose the vast numbers of others who people your life. You cannot declare, ‘Some will be my people and others will not’, because that is not how it is here. We are all here together. We have chosen this life, together, and we will resound with, we will respond to, we will shift and change and be impacted by, all that those others may do and think and feel. It is hopeless to try to live this interwoven life and yet determine to set yourself apart from it; that is not spiritual practice, that is just denial. We must learn to practice amongst each other, and more and more we are called upon to simply allow the blows of another’s force to land in us. We are called upon not to stand still and unmoving while the world moves around us, but to accept that we are assaulted from all aides by everything and everyone that is here. We are made to be felt here, and to feel, ourselves, the wholeness of this. Spiritual practice is not about loving everything no matter what; it is about feeling whatever you do, truly, feel, no matter what. And all of these faces, all of these concurrent storms, are our grand, blessed opportunity to do just that.”


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