Monday, March 30, 2009

Trusting Your Experience

I had a few minutes at work today so I read today's Tao thought. Here's what it said.

Wearily I open my prayer book,
Sepia photograph of sage on amber page,
Flaming raven Sanskrit, strange syllables,
Intone, chant, repeat.
Number vows with beads,
Every resolution is inspiration petrified.

What the Tao is teaching us with this saying is that we all sometimes get weary of our spiritual practices and when they are empty for us it is fine to give ourselves a break from them. However, it also goes on to say that the discipline of spiritual practices has a value in itself. I suppose that all of us have moments of spiritual consolation as well as moments of spiritual desolation. Many, if not most, of the great saints and mystics experienced more darkness than light, more desolation than consolation, and very often lived by pure faith rather than in the bliss of deep inner peace.

At this time in my life I struggle with the whole idea of spiritual practices. It's not that I believe discipline has no value. Most of our lives would be chaos without some kind of discipline in them. For me it is a big discipline just to go to work everyday. I think my current struggle with spiritual disciplines is because of the duality they bring into my life. Spiritual practices are associated with a "spiritual life" that can seem separate from the rest of my life. I prefer to strive for a life that is sacred in all its aspects and not compartmentalized into a spiritual life and a secular life. Why do I have to do "spiritual things" as though the simple living of my life is not a spiritual thing? Yes, I know this could be seen by some as a justification of my own laziness and lack of discipline. In all honesty, I cannot see a difference in my life when I am faithful to spiritual practices or when I ignore them. The awakening of my total being through being present to the moment in all its joy, pain, or boredom seems to be what makes a difference for me. At this point in my life I am trusting my experience but whatever works for you, keep doing it.

No comments: