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!

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