Thursday, January 05, 2012

All Who Wander Are Not Lost

When I think about spirituality these days, I think of myself as a man who has left home and is on a long journey. Often I feel like I am wandering in the desert. However, as Tolkien once said, "All who wander are not lost". Even better is a quote from Daniel Boone who said, "I have never been lost. I will, however, admit to being confused once for about two weeks". I can very much relate to these quotes. I am wandering but I do not feel lost. I will admit to feeling a little confused and disconnected at times. I also feel that much of the traditional spirituality in which I was raised, and which has surrounded me most of my life, doesn’t always work for me at this time in my life. These days my spirituality is daily life, whatever it presents to me. I have come to believe that life itself is the doorway to the sacred. I was raised as a Roman Catholic so I suppose that is my spiritual home. However, the practice of kindness and compassion is my best practical expression of spirituality these days. After all, what is spirituality but putting the Spirit into your reality? I am not a true Buddhist but these days I feel very much at home with Buddhist ways. I love the Dalai Lama and I love my backyard with its six foot high privacy fence, Buddha statue, and wind chimes that sound like temple bells. It has the feel of a Zen garden for me. Of course, I also love the solitude and silence of the monastery I visit with its Christian monastic tradition and tolling abbey bells. I think what it all boils down to for me is a love of all things contemplative. I am no longer sure about the value of dogma and theology but I do very much value the idea and practice of mindfulness, along with the practice of kindness and compassion, as a way to become enlightened. Being mindful, living in peace, showing kindness, and seeing all of life as a gift, is not a bad way to live one's life. It is certainly a positive way to live. So much religion fills one with guilt and low self-worth. I've spent much of my life trying to overcome feelings of guilt and inadequacy. I strive to walk in a more positive light. In the end I think what’s really important is whether or not you lived a loving life and whether or not you were a good person who always tried to do the right thing.

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