Showing posts from February, 2015

Mind and Body Are Not Two - That Which We Already Know

Chapter 9
It likely goes without saying that I was a quiet child – one pulled as if by some magnetic force to places of solitude and solemnity that were not always easy to find. You see, my father was a young school teacher with a growing family at the time, and our house was of a modest size. That and the fact that entrance to my older sister’s bedroom required passage straight through mine meant that I had no quiet space to call my own. I had to find it. I sought it out.
For this reason, too, the Nursery was my refuge from the moment I was old enough to venture out beyond the garden gate. I could be alone there whenever I wanted to be alone. I could enjoy silence there whenever I needed it – weather permitting, of course. Perhaps that is another reason why Mark Patrick’s tiny room seemed so appealing to me – sparse as a monk’s quarters though it was. Sure, his half-brother, Joe, was around for at least some of the time, but things must be different with a brother, I likely reasoned.

The Universality of That Which We Know - That Which We Already Know

The Universality of That Which We Know – End Chapter 8
Chapter 8 has focused on those spiritual attributes that children innately possess but which tend to fade away or become obscured as we grow older and continue to engage in the process of self-formation. Ironically, it’s often only after we’ve fully matured and begun to struggle with our “grownup” life that we begin to sense that something is missing. Our experiences of loss or our lack of fulfillment frequently prompt us to engage in some form of religious exploration in the hopes of finding what we don’t yet even realize we once enjoyed without any effort whatsoever. And so we struggle some more, and perhaps we grow even more jaded, disillusioned, or unfulfilled along the way. It can be hard to find what we’re looking for when we’re not even sure what it is!
My hope for this book, then, is that it encourage seekers to look close to home before assuming that the answer lies in or on the other side of some intricate practice or pr…

Acceptance and Humility - That Which We Already Know

Chapter 8 (third continuation)
Acceptance and humility are closely related attributes. A person with abundant humility can accept much more readily those unpleasant situations that would chafe one who is challenged in this regard. For instance, how often have we thought to ourselves or declared outright that something was unacceptable to us on the basis of our having an inflated opinion of our deservedness? The accommodations were unacceptable. The meal was unacceptable. The way they spoke to us was unacceptable. Each of these statements essentially arises from the opinion that we deserve better than we received. The accommodations might be acceptable for a vagabond, for instance, but not for us. The meal might be acceptable for a beggar, or a hungry dog perhaps, but not for us. It might be okay to speak like that to just anyone off the street, but not to us.

Earlier in this chapter I spoke about how the stronger our sense of self becomes the more focused we become on where our edges…

Trust - That Which We Already Know

In the previous post I examined belonging. It’s difficult to feel that we belong when we lack trust. Whether we’ve fallen in with a group of “friends” who are prone to sniping behind each other’s backs, or a religious group whose dogma we just can’t buy into anymore, our inability to trust can keep us from feeling that we belong. But what about the most fundamental sense of belonging that I spoke of in the previous post – our universal belonging – our belonging as witness to the universe from which we arise? In what do we trust when we feel such belonging? I’ll be exploring the nature of such trust over the course of the next few pages.
Trust can be difficult to maintain in a world where little stays the same for long – where family and friends pass away, and relationships come and go – where what we once enjoyed is either taken from us, or else it gradually ceases to be as pleasurable as it used to be. Yes, we are part of this ever-changing world, and often enough we end up changing…

Belonging - That Which We Already Know

Chapter 8 (continued)
As I stated in passing in my previous post, The Jewel of Wonder, finding our way along the path of a particular spiritual tradition can be like orienting a map to the terrain. In orienting a map to the terrain we try to find a couple of landmarks that correspond to those on the map so that we might have greater confidence in its ability to help us find our way. Of course, the terrain in this analogy is our interior world and the qualities of our awareness. The map, then, is the aggregation of the teachings of whatever spiritual tradition to which we’ve dedicated ourselves.
Spiritual traditions usually have something to say about the qualities of awareness that they value in the figures that they revere. Unfortunately, if we don’t believe that we’ve ever experienced those qualities of awareness ourselves, then we might begin to doubt our ability to ever experience them at all. We might consider them to be the sole purview of the saints and sages, but not us ordina…