Sunday, September 18, 2005

Spiritual musings

I've studied so many different forms of spirituality that my mind can look at any situation from a multiplicity of perspectives. This can be empowering, as I'm less inclined to take my own reactions at face value. For example, when someone disappoints me, I can notice my reaction, recognize my responsibility for the feeling, practice the art of neutral observation, choose forgiveness, invite God's wisdom, surrender the feelings to my higher power, or any number of other strategies. The down side of all this spiritual data is that it can be confusing. What, for example, should I do with the emotional discomfort that lives in the background of my awareness? Should I enter it more fully, feeling the intensity of the pain as my Vipassana training suggests? Should I "give it to God" as my Christian training recommends? Should I ignore it and focus on the positive, praying for deliverance....or is such a prayer a form of aversion, which Buddhism would suggest I simply observe with equanimity? These questions can be haunting and daunting. Those of us who have strong minds, curious intellects, and spiritual longings must face this confusion, and must also recognize that no other human being can give us a completely satisfactory answer. No one else lives inside our skins, and therefore we can't allow them totally into our experience. Our questions are filled with inadequate communication of our experience. The answers we get are likewise only a weak representation of the experience of the person delivering them, and how we hear them is once more distorted. So, we can only rely on our own experience. For me, the act of surrendering my confusion may be the most spiritual thing I can do...even if my mind is activated to question things like what is surrender and to whom am I surrendering. When those questions arise, I try to smile and recognize the inadequacy of my intellect to put a definition on any of this stuff. After all, it's the mind we're trying to transcend, and any attempt to understand the essence of the experience with that mind is doomed to failure. I generally know when I'm on the right track by the quiet that descends on me, however fleetingly, during my meditation. May I allow myself permission to open to peace without having to understand it...and may we all achieve peace that surpasses understanding.


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