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.