Sunday, August 30, 2009

What would be helpful? 08/30/09

What would be helpful? What do you need help with? You’re looking for the right place, the right environment, the company of the right kind of people to help you do what? It would be helpful to me if you knew what you needed help with. Perhaps, you need help knowing what would be helpful. That would be helpful to know.

You have to help me, help us, help you. It would help me, help us, if you knew what you need, or, at least, if you knew that you need something. Why would you go anywhere, particularly at 9:20 on a Sunday morning, not knowing what you were doing there, what you were looking for, hoping to find? You wouldn’t go to the grocery store without something in mind, if it were only to wander the aisles looking for something to appeal to you. You wouldn’t go to the doctor without a reason for being there. You wouldn’t go to a spiritual retreat center looking for a place to bowl. What are you here for? What do you need help with?

If we are to help you, you have to do your part. Your part is squaring up with who you are (and who you also are) and how it is with you (and how it also is with you). Your work is looking until you see, listening until you hear, asking until you understand. Seeing, hearing, understanding—knowing and not running. The Cyclops represents all we don't want to face about our life. About life. Our work is to face it, to deal with it. In the right kind of company. The right kind of company helps us do what we must do alone. Recognition. Acceptance. Accommodation. The bringing forth of our gift, our life, our destiny.

Now, I know you don’t want to talk about fate and destiny. Sounds too deterministic to you. You want to be free to do anything you want. The problem with that is you are not free to want anything. You are limited to wanting what you want. You cannot want what you don’t want. As you grow up, you begin to want what you ought to want. Your work is to want your destiny, to fit into the life that is yours to live, that no one can live but you. Our destiny is the life that is our life to live. It has nothing to do with what we want for ourselves, with the life we wish were ours. Our fate is the way things are in our life. It is what is waiting on us when we come out of the womb. Reality. The facts of life. If we don't use our fate in service of our destiny it becomes our burden to bear, our “lot in life,” a ready excuse that keeps us from having any life at all.

Our task is to take our fate—the givens of our life—and use it in the service of our destiny—what is ours to do. The quality of our life hinges on US, on our consciousness, our awareness, our full participation in life as it is (our fate) in light of our life as it can be (our destiny). We play the central part in bringing our life to life, in bringing ourselves to life in the life that is ours to live. This is our work to do alone, and we can only do it in the company of, with the help of, the right kind of people.

The bad news is that we don't get much out of it beyond having done it. Fortune and glory don’t enter in. Destiny isn't a ticker tape parade. LIFE is what we get out of the deal. To look for more is to miss the point. To ask what's in it for us is to miss the point. We are here to do what needs to be done, what will not be done without us. We are in it for IT!

Now, the problem with all of this is that I’m answering questions you aren’t asking. No one can give you his, give you her, questions. Your questions are your questions. The catch here is that you have to be asking questions. This is also your work: You have to be asking questions!

What are your questions? Knowing what your questions are is fundamental. Curiosity is the essential characteristic, which is discouraged early on. No wonder we are in such a mess. We are told to not ask so many questions, to sit down and be quiet, to do what we are told. Questions are out of the question, yet, questions are the hope of the world! So, what are your questions? Ask them. Examine them. Reformulate them. Perfect them. Expand them. Ask more of them. You can't ask too many questions. The deadest people alive ask no questions. Have no questions. No life. There is a connection!

If you are asking questions, you know what you need to hear. You can only hear what you are ready to hear. I can say all this stuff but you can’t hear it until you’re ready. But I have to say it. I have to say it because that's my part. Your part is to be as ready as you are to hear what you need to hear. To listen, hoping to hear. We have to listen for what catches our ear. Sometimes, we don’t know what we need to hear until we hear it. But, in order to hear anything we have to be listening for something.

Hearing is a function of listening. Seeing is a function of looking. Things from “out of nowhere” come to those who are looking for something, somewhere. We can't be so intent on what we are seeking that we overlook the Find. See the photograph on the way to the photograph is the first rule of photography and life. Looking for gold, we miss the oil. Looking for India, the New World just gets in the way. We miss the treasure looking for the treasure. Looking is the momentum required to see. What we see may not be what we are looking for, but if we hadn't been looking, we wouldn't have seen.

Asking, seeking, knocking is essential for ears to hear, eyes to see, hearts to understand. The work required to do our work is curiosity. We have to be alchemists of sorts, interested in seeing what we can do with the base metal of our lives, wondering how we might turn what we have been given into gold. We are the philosopher’s stone, the mystical agent required to transform the hum-drum and the ho-hum into dazzling sparkle, light and life. How do we do that? That’s our question to ask and answer.

Those who are dead and dying think their lives are just fine as they are and that all they need is a little luck and a little more money to have it made. Our lives aren't fine as they are. We are living at odds with ourselves. Fragmented. Dis-integrated. Off the beam. In the Wasteland. And we know it.

We know how it is with us and don't want to admit it because we are lazy and it would take too much work to change what needs changing. We want somebody to fix our lives for us and do for us what needs to be done to make us happy. Mama! We want our Mama! But our lives are our own, and it is up to us to live them. It is up to us to take fate and turn it into destiny, to bring ourselves to life. We have a life beyond what life has done to us, is doing to us, and we bring that into being in the time left for living.

There is more to us than the facts which define us. There is more to us than the lot that is ours. There is life beyond the life we are living. Being alive is what we do in response to the life beyond life. Being alive is what we do in response to what stirs, sometimes, within. It is when we move in sync with That Which Knows, trusting it, listening for it. Being alive is what we do when we hear the music and dance. When we know what has to be done and do it. Being alive is when we work out what's right for us within the terms and conditions, context and circumstances, of our lives. Being alive is when we do what needs to be done AND pay the bills because that also needs to be done. Being alive is when we live in light of what is right for us without neglecting our other duties and responsibilities.

Of course, this is not easy. It is the Hero’s Journey. The temptation is to decide it isn't worth the effort, to give up the struggle to be alive, and settle for living out our days as comfortably as possible. The temptation is to sell out, and spend our time going through the motions, hollow-eyed and empty, buying plastic. Faking it but not making it.

We need those with us who tell us we can do it, who tell us how they did it, are doing it. Laughter and playfulness, kid. Laughter and play. The problem with laughing the kind of laughter that is foundational for making it is crying. Can't laugh without crying. Sorry. Yet, it is as easy as knowing what's right for us and doing it. That leads us to doing what needs to be done no matter what. Which saves the world.

Picasso said action is the foundation of success. You can think you can attract success by thinking, but. No one succeeds without doing. We have to do what needs to be done whether we want to or not. That's the hard part. Easy to do what we want. Hard to do what we don't want. So, we just have to do what’s hard. It’s never more difficult than that!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Doing What Is Right For Us, 08/23/09

You aren’t going to like this, but. In every situation there is what is right for us and what is wrong for us. Our place is to intuit and live toward what is right for us. Of course, there is a catch. What is right for us may be wrong for someone else. Your good may be my bad. My good may be your bad. It gets worse. What is right for us may also be wrong for US! Chocolate, for instance, may be right for us and wrong for us. So, what’s right for us? It gets even worse. Doing what is right for us may require us to do what is wrong for us. Changing the baby’s diaper, for instance. And, here is the worst part: What is right for us has no necessary connection with what we want for us. We can want what is wrong for us. We block our own path, wanting. I knew you weren’t going to like it.

It’s too complicated. You wanted something easy, something light, like a Jazz brunch on a Sunday morning. Five minutes to a trouble-free life, that would do it. Everybody else gives out instructions for five minutes to a trouble-free life. What’s up with me? I know, I know. I don’t know. But. Here’s what I do know: When we fail to do what is right for us, our psyche suffers. Our soul shakes its head and sighs deeply. Our lives become more of a wasteland. Of course, there is a price to pay for doing what is right. Doing what is right for us asks hard things of us. The Spiritual Journey is no stroll through the park. Walking that path is the Hero’s Journey. To not walk it is a failure of nerve and to die well before we are dead.

All of our symptoms, physical (headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches) and emotional (fear, anxiety, depression, etc.), are invitations to take up the path, to begin the Hero’s Journey, to get to the heart of the matter, to square up to who we are and what is being asked of us, to face up to the conflicts within and without and do what must be done.

No wonder, wouldn't you say, that we do everything we can think of to keep from getting to the heart of the matter? Seeing is doing. Or not. If we see and do not do, woe be unto us! It is better to not know the time of our visitation than to know it and do nothing about it. Once we know what needs to be done and fail to do it, we have to live with having failed to do the thing that had to be done. Let’s not know. “Leave the way, turn aside from the path, speak no more of (the things that must be done)!”

Instead of doing what must be done, let’s surround ourselves with a culture of distraction, diversion, denial and treat our symptoms and never get to the heart of any matter. Somebody pass the sex! Somebody pass the money! Somebody pass the drugs and alcohol! There is nothing like sex, money, drugs and alcohol for saving us from getting to the heart of the matter. But. The heart of the matter doesn’t go away.

It isn't going to get any easier than it is right now. Whenever you start, you're just going to start somewhere. Why not here, now? On the path to the heart of things? You start by paying attention to your sense of things, to your sense of what is right for you and what is wrong. Live toward what is right for you, away from what is wrong for you. Live toward what is right for you with grace and compassion, courage and resolve, refusing to let fear and lethargy keep you from that work.

Fear says, "There be dragons!" And keeps you from living toward what is right for you by listing the bad things that will happen if you do. Or, it says, “What do you mean, thinking of yourself when there are so many with so much need! Serve others! Serve others! Serve others! Or, you know, else!” Lethargy says, "What's the use?" And lists all the reasons nothing you do will ever do any good and why nothing will change about your life. Well. You owe it to yourself to find out about the dragons and the uselessness of doing anything. Don’t die not knowing.

Live toward what is right for you, and see what happens. Don't think you know what should happen. You are exploring your own life here. You are seeing what can happen. You aren't following some blueprint to success and eternal happiness—there is none! You are living toward what is right for you, seeing where that leads you.

Don't give up just because it's hard and nothing seems to be working and you aren't getting anywhere, and there is no cooperation. It's a test of your resolve. The Universe doesn't come to the aid of those who don't mean it. Who want it to be easy. Who just want to want something and have it delivered. The magic is in the work, in the doing, in the practice. “The more I practice, the luckier I get,” said Lee Trevino. And Arnold Palmer. And Gary Player. And Tom Watson. And Samuel Goldwyn… If you want magic to happen, do the work. Consistently, reliably, dependably. Live toward what is right for you, with grace and compassion.

Of course, we don’t know what is right for us. We only know what we think is right for us. Live toward that. Toward your best guess. Find out. Instinct and intuition, kid. Instinct and intuition. We aren't here to give up. We are here to get it down. Sensing what is right for us. Knowing what is right for us. Being right about what is right for us. And doing it.

Oh, wait. I know. It's too late, isn't it? No use to try now. You missed your chance to have a life, way back when. Now, there is no point. Lethargy speaking. Tell it to step aside. You aren’t here for fame fortune and glory unbounded. To hit the big time and have it made. You are here to find your life and live it. To do what is right for you. Period. You live toward meaning when you live toward what is right for you. You live toward life when you live toward what is right for you. You are here to find what is meaningful and do it. What good is meaningless fame, fortune and unbounded glory? Go for the meaning. Every time.

Whatever our experience is, we have to experience it, explore it, express it, and live toward what is right for us within it. Instinct and intuition, imagination and creativity, are our primary tools in aligning ourselves with what is right for us and doing it. They work anywhere. Any time.

In doing what is right for us, we have to accommodate ourselves to the circumstances of our lives. We live where we are, when we are, how we are, and do there what is right for us. And what is right for us doesn’t have anything to do with what we want. We can always want what we cannot have. The fundamental conflict is a conflict of interests. We can want what we have no business having. Go talk to us about that. Make us happy. Doing what is right for us may not make us happy. To do what is right for us and to do what must be done, what needs to be done, is the same thing, and it may not be what we want.

We take it all into consideration and act. In doing what is right for us over and against what we want for us comes forth the saying: “Thy will, not mine, be done!” Our practice is doing what is right for us even when it is wrong for us.

To get beyond what we want to what is right for us requires focus, concentration, awareness and practice, practice, practice. There is no standard for optimal living, no blueprint, no black footprints. There is you living toward what is right for you in your life in relationship with us, and all the others. We live toward what is right for us in relationship with those who are living toward what is right for them, and we work it out all the way. We have to be a self in relation to other selves. Gets tricky. Negotiation and compromise, kid. Negotiation and compromise.

Then there is the fact that what's right for us may also be wrong for us. What's wrong for us may also be right for us. Life is funny that way. Pays to withhold judgment and to not give up just because it isn’t what you think it should be. There is no blueprint, are no black footprints. There is only listening deeply and living toward what your best sense of what is right for you here, now, all things considered.

This is not easy, living toward what is right for us, within the context and circumstances of our lives, in relationship with each other, but that’s the task. It is not for the "carefully kept," or the faint of heart. Imagination and creativity, kid. Imagination and creativity. Courage and resolve, kid. Courage and resolve.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Waking Up, 08/16/09

When we wake up, we wake up in our life as it is. We wake up in the midst of how things are, of how it is with us. It’s a nightmare. We want to pull up the covers and go back to sleep. Too late. We are awake to the fact that we are awake in the presence of the intolerable and overwhelming. Who can live face to face with the truth of how it is really? We can’t handle the truth, remember. We have to hide. We have created a culture of distraction, diversion, denial and addiction to help us escape from the truth of how it is really. But, then we wake up, and know we are dying and cannot live in the world at it is.

We wake up because of the incongruity between the life we are living and the life we are called to live. We wake up to the fact that how things are with us is not how things need to be with us. We wake up to the fact that what needs to be done on one level of life keeps us from doing what needs to be done on another level. We wake up to emptiness, to symptoms that are killing us, to meaninglessness, to the dead weight of our own lifeless souls. We wake up looking for harmony, for integrity, for the integration of inner with outer, for the sense of being in synch with, aligned with, meaning and purpose and value. It does not seem like too much to ask, but the world does not lend itself to our need to square ourselves with our lives, to live lives that are expressive of who we are and serve the deep interest of our soul. It would wreck the economy and not be in the interest of national security.

Nothing is more indicative of the reality of our soul, of soulfulness than the symptoms of emptiness and futility that characterize our lives. Primal societies would diagnose our plight as a “loss of soul,” or “soul sickness,” and they would prescribe specific remedies for the realignment of self with soul, for the re-en-soul-ment of our lives. When our doing is out of accord with what needs to be done we are "off the beam," and have to do the work of realignment with OUR life, with the life that we are here to live. Harmony is living with integrity, integrating inner and outer so that who we are is expressed in how we live our lives and we are who we are.

The problem is that we are handed a blueprint for our lives by Those Who Know Best when we are born. "This is the way it is to be done," we are told. It is an upstream swim to OUR life against the strong current of popular opinion. Most don't make it. We live caught between cultural/parental/societal expectations and the needs of our own soul. We have to balance the needs of two worlds, inner and outer, and work things out between them all the way to the grave. Discord comes from trying to please too many conflicting desires, within ourselves and those of other people. Accord is living aligned with our sense of meaning, purpose and value and doing what needs to be done in light of that. Ah, but, just try doing what you think needs to be done!

Nothing stirs up resistance and opposition and discord in our outer life like living in accord with what we think needs to be done! Yet, to smooth things over "out there" is to disrupt things "in here." This is not easy, living in harmony with our sense of meaning, purpose and value and doing what needs to be done. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be called “spiritual discipline,” this being true to ourselves within the context and circumstances of life. We work it out, bearing the pain of negotiation and compromise between the demands of our life and the demands of OUR life all along The Way.

Now, this is going to sound like a tangent that has nothing to do with what has gone before, but. Every last one, you could look it up, of the scriptural reports of encounters with God, in both Testaments, comes at the precise moment in a person’s life when she, or he, is at turning point in life and makes a decision to align herself, or himself, with her, with his, destiny, to the chagrin of popular opinion and the ways of Those Who Know Best. The encounter with God is an encounter with destiny. The experience of God has disappeared from modern life, and we are left with rehashing the doctrines and repeating the creeds in the stalest, most lifeless, kind of way, because we have sold out. We have turned out backs on our destiny in favor of well-paying careers. A good job has nothing to do with goodness. It pays a high salary with benefits. We are too busy earning money to care a whit about destiny. And no one knows anyone who has experienced anything of God remotely akin to the experiences of Abraham, Moses, Elijah, the Prophets, Jesus, the Disciples, and Paul.

Our destiny is exactly our sense of who we are and what we are about. It is working out who we are within the context and circumstances of our lives. We don’t do that these days, so God is reduced to a set of ideas, or doctrines, beliefs, and opinions which reflect a deity that is nicely supportive and affirming and here to assist us with our lives, who is deeply concerned about our prosperity and well-being, and just wants us to be happy. Nothing at all like the God of the Bible who rips up the lives of individuals and sends them off on journeys with no thought to their own interests or desires. If you want to know that God, take up your life—the life that is yours to live—and live it in the face of all the objections and resistance it will stir up! THAT is the spiritual journey! Anything else is just a new agey pipe dream.

It’s having the courage to take up the spiritual journey, integrating inner with outer, living the life that is ours to live within the time and place of our living that opens the door to God—which I understand as the source of our sense of what is right, and good, and necessary—and makes this group of people, or one like it—essential. We cannot bear the burden of being awake alone. We can’t handle the truth, remember. We need the company of the right kind of people to have a chance. You are so lucky that you found your way here. We are working to become the right kind of people, helping one another with the work of being awake in the midst of a nightmare. This work is the spiritual journey. It is the work of being alive in a world that is not conducive to life. We need the company of the right kind of people to do that work.

Now, the right kind of people are not to be confused with the Right People. The Right People are what is wrong with the world. They are the people with the position and power to make things happen for a price. The price is doing it their way. They will be glad to help you get things done, but you’ll owe them forever, and they will draw out their investment on their favor to you long past its original value. Be wary of the Right People. Hang out with the right kind of people.

We are working to be the right kind of people. The right kind of people know what’s what without being undone by it. They understand what’s what as the place where we work to effect (produce, create) what can be. What’s what is the raw material, so to speak, that we use in the service of marvelous possibilities. The right kind of people don’t stop with seeing what is true (what’s what), they keep looking until they see what is also true (the possibilities contained in the what’s what). And, they work within the one to produce the other. It’s all quite magical, and revolutionary, and transformational, and wonderful. And I’m so glad you are a part of it, because we need you in this with us. It takes us all. We cannot do what must be done alone.

It takes an other to make us whole. This is because of the nature of perception, and the importance of maintaining optimal viewing distance between ourselves and how things are. We lose our perspective if we are too close or too far away. It takes us all to maintain a proper perspective. On our own, the way we see things easily becomes the way things are. We are great at projection, transference, inflation and deflation. We lose our sense of perspective and get off center in a thousand ways. The company of the right kind of others is necessary for our balance and sanity. We keep one another grounded and centered through the quality of our dialogue. The checks and balances provided by additional perspectives keep us from going off into our “own little world,” and forces us to do the work of bringing ourselves to life in the time and place of our living without kidding ourselves either about who we are or about what’s what.

The task is to live with clarity and courage. We need one another to help us be clear and to remind us of the importance of being courageous when it comes to living our own lives within the conditions and circumstances of life. We have to work things out between the truth of ourselves and the truth of the world in which we live. And we cannot do that alone.

We cannot do it alone because fooling ourselves is what we do best. No, shooting ourselves in the foot is what we do best. No, telling ourselves what we want to hear is what we do best. No, wanting what we have no business having is what we do best. No, selling ourselves out is what we do best. No, opting for what is quick and easy is what we do best. No, being our own worst enemy is what we do best. No,… Well, you see the list is long of the ways we get in our own way and make it difficult for us to do the work of bringing ourselves to life in the time and place of our living. And so, we need the company of the right kind of others to keep us honest and to keep us from losing heart for the work that is ours to do.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Life is hard work. 08/09/09

Life is hard work. That is true for every living thing. Only dead things have it easy. If you are alive, your work is cut out for you. Some of us opt out of the work that living requires by dying before we are dead. It’s so much easier to be dead that it’s a wonder why any of us opt for life. What are we thinking? What does life have to offer that could possibly compensate us for the high cost of living? We have to be crazy to be alive. Sanity requires that we put ourselves into a stupor and do what someone else tells us to do, stepping in the black footprints all the way to the grave, dying way before we are dead. Anything else is inconceivable.

The smart thing to be is dead. The deader the better. You feel no pain that way. Have no conflicts. Encounter no obstacles. You just follow instructions and don’t worry about—don’t think about—a thing. It’s heaven on earth. No troubles. No woes. No responsibilities. Can’t beat it. Being alive, on the other hand, is nothing but trouble. It’s one thing after another. Judgment calls, decisions, choices, obligations, responsibilities, everywhere we look.

We want it to be as easy as praying, rubbing a rabbit’s foot, wearing crystals, reading horoscopes, eating yogurt, avoiding caffeine. Sigh. We want the solution, the answer, the remedy, the shortcut to an eternally happy, trouble-free life. We put off doing what needs to be done, hoping that Mama will do it for us. Hoping that someone will do for us what we must do for ourselves.

Where IS that handsome stranger, that fair maiden, who will deliver us from the hum-drum and worrisome and make life grand? Why is just us and what needs us? All of our happy fantasies have to do with deliverance, salvation, with someone doing for us what we must do for ourselves. We are what we seek. But, we do not want to hear that! The Divine Mother/Father is always coming to our rescue. We are helpless, befuddled, lost. Poor, poor us! Somebody save us! Anybody! Mama!

Life asks hard things of us. Life is the end of our happy fantasies about how life should be. How things are is not how we wish things were. Life is hard work. Remember learning to tie your shoe laces? Remember algebra? Remember spelling Minnesotta, no, Minnesoda? It's always been hard. It isn't going to get easier. It's always going to come down to us having to have what it takes to “get up and do what needs to be done.” Once you know everything the Guru's know, you still have to do the things that need to be done. All that knowledge and still, the dishes!

What we are about here is not handing out the secret to having our way, getting what we want, having life on a string, sitting on a rainbow. What we are about here is the simple realization that OUR life waits on us. And, OUR life is not what we have in mind. It is not the answer to our prayers, the realization of our dreams. It is anything but that. It is the opposite of what we have in mind for ourselves. But, it is OUR life. And it waits.

The adventure we get is not the adventure we have in mind. We're thinking Hollywood and we get a white rabbit. A mix-up, no doubt, in order processing! Do what is yours to do and see what happens. Live the life that is your life to live and see where it takes you. That's the adventure! But who wants that? And, even if we did want it, how would we ever find our way to it? Easy. Follow the white rabbit. Follow the Aha’s!

The Aha's put us in accord with our lives, with the adventure of living our lives. We do not whip our lives into submission, we align ourselves with our lives. OUR lives. Aha! Get it? It’s all about understanding that our ideas for our life is not the same as OUR life’s idea of itself—of our LIFE’s idea for us!

The fundamental realization, the ground of all spiritual truth, is “Thy will, not mine, be done.” The trick, of course, is understanding the “Thy” here. Think of the “Thy” as “The One Who Knows.” Think of the “Thy” as your Destiny. As that which you were born to serve, as the LIFE that is yours to live, as OUR life. Who knows what that is? Do you? You wish! But, there is That Which Knows! There is The One Who Knows. The One Who Knows is the “Thy” in “Thy will, not mine, be done.” Your place—our place—is to align yourself—to align ourselves—with the will of that “Thy”!

Ah, but. There be a problem. The problem is a conflict of interest. We are at odds with ourselves over the life we are to live. Who is in charge? Who says so? Your work is you and your life. My work is me and my life. We have to get ourselves together with our lives. Living in synch with, in harmony with, aligned with, ourselves so that who we are is expressed in our way with life is integrity and happiness. Our work is to synchronize, align, harmonize our being with our doing so that the two are one: BeingDoing. DoingBeing. Integrity in action. “Thy will, not mine, be done!”

We live our life, gradually waking up to what our life—what The One Who Knows—is asking of us. We want 10,000 things but what wants us—what needs us—is the question. Being on the beam and off the beam recognizes there is a beam. We cannot live any way we want to. There is a beam! Get on the beam! Get it? It takes a certain perspective to ferret out the beam, to align ourselves with our destiny. We don't have to, you know. Makes it interesting.

Something else makes it interesting, as well. We look for dramatic arrivals to transform our lives. Winning the lottery. Falling in love. What we get is a white rabbit. White rabbits don't rank with us. But, a white rabbit is the shortest distance, and quickest route, from where we are to where we need to be. Life lies so far from where we are living we can only get there by way of a white rabbit. Forget all the self-help books and directions to the life of your dreams. Practice recognizing a white rabbit when you see one. Follow it. The white rabbit leads you home. Whatever catches your eye leads you to you.

Everything is a threshold that leads you to you if you have the courage to look until you see, listen until you hear, ask until you understand. Everything has depth, is a threshold to the invisible world, a vehicle of transcendence. It only takes eyes to see to know that it is so.

All you have to know is what is important, what is meaningful, what matters, and do it. We have to give ourselves to what is meaningful whether it means anything to anyone else or not. If it isn't or doesn't really, you'll figure it out eventually. "Meaningful" changes over time. We have to be alert to the shifts. Life calls to us from new locations. The white rabbit is a wild ride.

What we are about here is the Hero’s Journey, and the Search for the Holy Grail. It is also called following the White Rabbit, not thoughts, ideas, catechisms, doctrines, beliefs. This is not about mottos and clich├ęs and truisms and positive thinking. It is about finding and living the life that is OUR life. We have to be working the program, engaged the process of finding and living OUR life. It's no intellectual exercise, not something to know.

This is about aligning our idea of our life up with our soul’s idea of our life. Our agenda isn't soul's agenda. Guess who has to adjust to whom. It takes a different mindset to shift from focusing on how we feel about our lives, and “just wanting to be happy,” to how we might live in the service of what needs to be. How we feel about our lives is influenced by 10,000 things. What we do with our lives is directed by what we value, intend, find meaningful.

To “have a life,” or, “to have life and have it abundantly,” is to live in the service of something that is bigger than we are, that calls us beyond ourselves and asks to do it regardless of how we feel, or what mood we are in, or whether we want to or not. If there is nothing in our life that needs to be done no matter what, we are in trouble. No meaningful work is not a good thing. Our task is to find what is meaningful and do it! “Thy will, not mine, be done!”

We find our own way to the life that is OURS to live. WE say so! We put it all on the table. We listen to all of the voices, inner and outer, mull things over and choose what we will do, and bear the pain. Bearing the pain of our choices is part of the fun of making choices. There is no one to blame but us for the life we choose to live. No one can tell US what to do, which is exactly how it must be. We take it all under advisement and act to do what WE say needs to be done. After all, it is OUR destiny!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Doing what needs to be done

We are here to help you with your life—both of them. With the life that you are currently living and with the life that is your life to live. The movement is from this life to that life. From life as it is being lived to life as it needs to be lived. Oh, I know, everybody thinks she, thinks he, is living life as it needs to be lived. We all think we are living our own life. Well. Tell me about your symptoms, and your addictions, and your escapes, and your denial, and your fear, and your depression, and your despair, and your emptiness, and your nagging sense that things are not right somehow. Your sense that you missed the boat, the point. Tell me about your listlessness, the lack of meaning and purpose in your life. And then tell me that you are living your own life, the life that is YOUR life to live. Right.

We are here to help with the discrepancy between thinking that you are living YOUR life and the symptoms, and addictions, and emptiness that are constant companions in the life you are living. Ah, but. It won’t seem like help. It will seem like we are against you, not for you. We have to get you to face the facts if we are going to be able to help you transform the facts. That’s a problem because you want to feel better about the life you are living without living differently. You want to feel better without doing the work of getting better. You may have to feel a lot worse before what you have what it takes to get better. You have to be fed up. You have to be at the end of your rope. Nobody volunteers to make the changes necessary to live the life that is THEIR life to live. Everybody has to be up against it before they have what it takes to make the transition to transformation. Life is always after death. You could look it up.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that life is never more than a perspective shift away. We change our minds about what’s important, and Boom! as John Madden would say, life. Our life. The life that is OUR life to live, pressed down, pouring over, hallelujah! Amen! So, when you reach that point, remember that we are here to help you with the transition, with the transformation, with the movement from where you have been to where you need to be.

LIFE is not a solitary pursuit. We cannot be alive alone. It takes us all. We need one another. Well, that’s not quite it. We need the right kind of company, the company of the right kind of people. We need to be with the people who can be with us, who can sustain us, and accompany us, and encourage us, and expand-deepen-enlarge us without fixing us, or diagnosing us, or directing us, or living our life for us. It is an art, being the right kind of company. We don’t have it down, but we are working to figure it out. Mostly what we do is nothing.

Doing nothing in the right way transforms everything. It takes a light touch and faith in the process to do nothing in the right way. Mostly what is done when we do nothing in the right way is observe what is happening. Seeing clearly what is happening, which includes what is also happening, is the necessary prerequisite to seeing what needs to happen. Seeing what needs to happen naturally leads to assisting what needs to happen, serving what needs to happen, allowing what needs to happen to happen. So, doing nothing does what needs to be done to enable the happening of what needs to happen. It isn’t exactly doing nothing, like sleeping through the day, but it is doing next to nothing. It is assisting by not interfering, doing by not-doing, like the ripening of a tomato, or the growth of a Giant Sequoia.

So, we are here to help you with your life by not interfering with your life. Which means that you bear the burden of helping us help you. We all bear the burden of helping one another help us. We have to be capable of being helped! Which means being open to the possibilities and restrictions of our lives. We have to be willing to see how things are in order to be able to see what needs to happen in order to do what needs to be done.

Here is optimal: Everything in its own time. Yet, we say no to this and yes to that. Not that, this! Not this, that! We live out of harmony, at war with life. Restoring harmony is a matter of seeing into the nature of things and knowing what’s what, which includes knowing what can happen and what needs to happen and how we can assist what needs to happen within the limits and restrictions of life as it is, in a “This is how things are, and this is what can be done about it, and that’s that” kind of way.

The Dali Lama, in talking about the situation between China and Tibet, said years ago, “If in any situation, there is no solution, there is no point in being anxious. If the forces at work have their own momentum, and what’s going on now is the product of what went before, and this generation is not in control of all those forces, then this process will continue.” Carl Jung says there are no solutions for any of the real problems with life—they can only be out-lived. So, helping you with your life doesn’t mean helping you have what you want. It means helping you see what needs to be done and helping you do it and helping you live with what must be lived with.

This is a very practical, pragmatic approach to spiritual development. We have to be who we need to be to live the life we need to live, to do what needs to be done, within the time and place, context and conditions, nature and circumstances of our lives. With the question, “WHO needs it?” comes the matter spiritual reality. Life in the hard and fast world of physical existence is governed by spiritual, that is not-physical, needs. Spiritual is “of the spirit,” invisible, intangible, but quite real.

Physical needs are such things as food, clothing and shelter. Spiritual needs are such things as meaning, purpose and values. It matters how we live our lives. To whom does it matter? It matters to US, to that part of us that is tuned in to the spiritual aspect of existence. “We know,” says Joseph Campbell, “when we are on the beam and when we are off of it.” We know when something is right for us and when it is wrong for us. We know when we are being true to ourselves and when we are betraying ourselves.

The work of being human is to be true to ourselves within the circumstances governing life in the physical world of everyday existence. To do what we need to do to feed our souls and to do what we need to do to feed our bodies. We have to live with a foot in both worlds, with allegiances to both worlds. This is not easy. The physical world has a way of commanding our attention. We can be mesmerized by its promises (the lights and action of Gay Paree) and terrified by it’s threatening possibilities (Fire! Flood! Famine!). It is difficult to maintain our balance and our connection with the world of spiritual reality when we are being buffeted by the winds and currents of life in the physical world.

James Hollis says that we must constantly contend with the demons of fear and lethargy in doing what needs to be done to serve our soul and bring ourselves to life in the fullest, deepest, sense of the term. Fear keeps us from acting by telling us “There be dragons! Don’t do anything to be seen! Don’t invite their wrath! Something terrible will happen if you stir them up!” Lethargy keeps us from acting by saying, “Why try? What’s the use? What’s the point? You can’t do anything! Give it up!”

So, we come here to remember and remind one another to ask the right question: What do we need to find OUR life and live it within the possibilities and restrictions of life as it is? That's The Quest! What stands between us and the life that is OUR life to live? What plays the Cyclops to our Ulysses? We have to realize that we are on the hero’s journey here. Coming to terms with our lot in life—our fate—is the first part of the hero's journey. Transforming it—shaping our destiny—is the second part. We are here to help you, you are here to help us, with both parts, coming to terms with our fate and shaping our destiny.

Always the challenge is the same: To see what needs to be done and do it. To respond appropriately to the situation as it arises. That's it. We decide what needs to be done based on our reading of the situation as it arises. And, we respond to it out of our sense of what we have to offer that would be appropriate to the situation. May we see clearly, choose wisely, and act decisively! Frustration, depression, despair come from trying to do too much, wanting too much, expecting too much. The call is to be what is needed now. Making too much of something is the source of all of our problems with life. Becoming appropriately playful is the solution. We are not here to attain, acquire, amass, achieve, accumulate but to offer what we have to give in the service of what is calling our name. And we play our way along the way!