Stop thinking that you need to find something to become something.
*Enza Vita. Instant Presence.
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A continuance of dialogues with a sage who did not see himself as a sage, but others did; from Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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To begin the sharing time, the sage told a story. He said...
During the Tíang dynasty in China, there was an eminent Zen master named Chao-chou. To reach his temple, one crossed what had become known as Chao-chouís bridge. A monk asked him, "What is your bridge?" "Bridge" meant Chao-chouís practice of Buddhism. Chao-chou said, "It helps both donkeys and horses to cross."
Then spoke the sage...
Remember, heart friends, Grace is equally grace for all, and you are you equally for all. Simply be receptive for whom are given you to grace. Be a Buddha-bridge, a Christ-bridge, a Love-bridge.
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In meditation I keep struggling, trying to get somewhere else more advanced than I am now, become something better, when you keep saying to rest here, not be effortful. I keep feeling like I'm climbing a ladder to a higher, more evolved state. I agree with you, but keep doing this. When will this end?
Trying to become something better arises from thinking you need to be and can be something better. Drop the thought that you are something less good to become something better. You said you are trying to get somewhere, remind yourself that you are always here and have no where to get to; even if you think you get somewhere else, it will be here, as here as here is now. Ask yourself, Who is looking out these eyes? Is that the same one who was looking out these same eyes when a baby? An adolescent?" and so forth, up to the present time.
Remember, you are a human being, not a human becoming. This is not static however, but ecstatic, for human being is be-ing. You are be-ing out of which becom-ing happens. So, you do not need to become something, only relax and allow happening to arise from that which cannot happen ~ you. Becoming cannot touch that you are, return to that you are, and trust Life with the becoming.
Each time you stop thinking that you must be something becoming something, be somewhere to get somewhere, you have moved closer to the resolution of this desire for becoming, a desire that moves you from your natural being, here-now. See, you can only be here-now, as you-are-now.
Most persons are estranged from the glory of being, addicted to the suffering of becoming, trained that self-worth is something one gets when doing enough of what is right and good, usually for others. Underneath this is a self-loathing, often subtle. The self-loathing continues, for one finds he or she can never do enough. One may have a short respite, after doing good, but the discontent returns, for the contentment is never in doing, but being. What need of this? Will not Life take you where It wills you to be? Is not Life able to transform your life into the shape it will use to bring blessing to others? Be as the moist clay in the potter's hands, let the master potter shape you into a vessel of grace, not a copy or replica of another vessel, but the vessel that fits your own beingness.
What's the fear behind this drive to become, it seems fear must be at the root of this self-projection into the future?
One fear is persons are afraid of the silence, or simply relaxing into the joy of being, thinking that such will simply be empty, a lifeless void, a big nothingness black hole, so they run from it. They prefer to be filled with suffering and chaos, chasing after happiness, than empty, at least there is something there in the chaos, rather than there being nothing. They, while in this suffering, can continue at least to hope for something better. Yet, the emptiness is not a lack, it is a fullness. Emptiness is really the space in which life can arise freely, naturally, rather than your trying to fill the emptiness with your life, which is not life at all, only your stuff. You do not need a your life, that is what is truly empty, a voidness that provides only temporary respite. When you surrender into the vast emptiness, then Life rises up and fills up the spaciousness. You no longer have a life, yet Life is present and flowing freely in beneficence in all directions, the outside and inside united in one spiritual marriage. So, a fitting prayer, "I give my life up, that I may receive life." See, no life to call your own, then life is most fully present and able to bless you, and others through you.
The second fear is the fear of not measuring up, not appearing dutiful, to others, to oneself, for some to God. For some persons, they must always be on the treadmill of doing, even doing good. By this action, they will be admired; you can measure this, but the spiritual life, as Life, is intangible. They need to do good and know they are, to be seen as responsible, caring, whatever.
Silence has a way of challenging this do-goodism, this feeling that others really, really need you, this self-congratulation donning the garb of respectability and responsibility and, even, compassion. When you relax and trust in the Silence, there is no one present to congratulate you, you are not even present to congratulate yourself. No blue ribbons, not headlines, not a slap on the back with "We're proud of you!" Silence has no credentials to offer, none.
When you give up the right to do good, you learn to wait, to act from the Silence, and this means you often are left not knowing just where that is going to go. This requires patience and trust, not acting when everything in you is crying out that not to act is just not right, after all, the world is sinking so you should be out there with your life boat. Yet, the world does not need you in the way you decide, the world needs you to meet it from the Silence, so it is not about you, not even your being compassionate or caring or kind. This is not to do nothing, but to act from a natural arising from within yourself to act, not to act simply for you think you ought to act. Then, your acting is purely natural.
Is it possible to go through periods when one feels called not to act, to remain in the Quiet?
Possibly, some persons are called at times not to act outwardly for a time, and some persons called to a life of solitude, for a gift the world needs is persons who can be in the Silence, lingering faithfully in the Quiet in compassion for all beings. Still, even in the Quiet, you cannot not act. As says the Bhagavad Gita, "No one escapes from acting by shunning action.... nature's law [dharma] compels one to act, ..." So, I say you may be called by divine leading not to act "outwardly" for a time. Still, even alone, action takes place. If in communion-in-love, from the heart, you cannot not reach out to the world from the Silence. This you may do with silence, as well as in other ways of prayer. Even your being in the Quiet can be devoted to the well-being of all. Whether alone, or among others, be in the Quiet, carry the Quiet within you, be the Quiet. This Quiet itself is prayer, is the heart reaching out into the world.
When I'm alone, doing my meditation and devotions, I often feel a sense that I could be using my time better, I think others may think I'm lazy, uncaring, wasting my time when I could be helping someone.
This is a normal feeling to arise in solitude, especially in the beginning of our practice, for we have been socialized to value doing over being, and we have often been evaluated as performers, rather than beings. We may feel we do not know who we are in the Silence, for we have defined ourselves by what we have done and do. Who decided doing is superior to non-doing? Who decided you are less a person for waiting for inner Guidance to act, rather than acting out of a self-sense of duty? Who decided some God needs you always busy? Who called you to save the world? Who said that being lazy is refusing to act, but that acting compulsively is not lazy, also? There is a lot of busy-laziness around, and some diligent solitude and silence, too.
See, the Silence is humiliating, for it humbles us. From humbleness, we can act in fidelity to the Truth, in purity of resolve.
I think the word "meditation" itself is part of my problem. When I think of meditation, I think of doing something.
Let us return to that our next sharing time.
*Brian Wilcox. 'a gathering of immaculate presences'. Flickr
(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
*The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.