It all gets a little tricky when we try to implement our spiritual realizations with our lives as humans. I went through a very challenging day a few days ago still struggling with whether or not to travel with Shanti. Although you may have read in my recent post that I had decided against going, I was still on the fence about it. As much as we (or certainly I in this case) know what is truly best for us, it can still be remarkably difficult to actually follow through with that. We live in human bodies with our own needs/dependencies which have developed through a lifetime of living as unrealized beings. Overcoming those needs/dependencies, even under the full brightness of the truth, is still not easy. I still, despite knowing better inside, wanted to see Shanti and travel with her and a struggle ensued within me which I watched very closely. It was fascinating to witness actually. The tug-of-war between moving towards human needs/dependencies (mine being for love/closeness/physical contact/validation among others) and moving towards the truth of our awareness is really a difficult battle. Actually it’s easy if you are rooting for the human side, because all of our conditionings and experiences have led to the strengthening of our more instinctive responses. Movement towards the truth is not something that is widely practiced and thus we are weaker in pulling the rope of our lives that direction.
I was well aware of this struggle in trying to make this decision but that didn’t necessarily lessen it for me. At one point during the day I was walking through Brighton when it started to rain so I ducked inside a church to have a little quiet time to contemplate. A young man who had been playing beautiful piano led me in to the sanctuary. I sat in a seat with my prayer beads and meditated some when he came by. In his oh-so British accent he asked me, “How lonnng do you expect to be praying?” He was asking because he would be leaving when I finished. I responded, “until I get an answer.” I still crack up when I remember his response to that. He said, with long interspersed pauses, “Oh…………………Yes……………………Right.” In effect he was saying, “how silly of me for asking.” Anyway, at some point we ended up having a nice long friendly conversation/debate about religion, his being Catholicism and mine being what I coined in his presence a “Lovist.” It was sweet but I certainly saw the roots of the history of oppression of the church in our conversation. Afterwards, as I was sitting quietly again, he returned like a good pious church organist and asked me if I was alright and what I was praying about. I told him of my struggles and of the answer I knew to be the truest expression of my being, to not go, and he said something simple yet profound – “we have to trust our faith.” Not sure exactly what that meant to him but to me I would translate that as meaning “Trust the truth you know to be true.”
What I realized in this whole process is that it helps to act in the way you want to learn to act. It’s like practicing, like strengthening a muscle. It is similar to the words of Saint Francis de Sales who said:
“You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by
running, to work by working; and just so, you learn to love by loving.”
In other words, we learn to act by acting, we learn to behave a certain way by behaving a certain way, we learn to do by doing. All the understanding in the world doesn’t get you where you are trying to go as much as actually going that direction. Simple yet profound. I think what happens when we do that is that we actually start rewiring the brain. Synapses that have never fired in a certain sequence learn a new pathway. Like weed whacking a path which then encourages continued pedestrian travels in that direction.
I feel much more free as a result, not necessarily because of not seeing Shanti, who is still a person very dear to me, but more so because I have practiced the act of searching for, listening to and actually following my truth. Since doing so, the world has continued to open up for me, as if as a reward for good behavior, by allowing me to meet more and more wonderful people here in the Brighton area. Last night I was invited to a warehouse party where I ended up dancing until 4am with generally very conscious people and having a great time.
Funny, in searching for a graphic to use with this post, I found the quote above by Aristotle which is exactly what I’m writing about here. Kind of neat I figured the same thing out on my own. It’s almost doubly funny because not only did I learn to do by doing, but I actually “learned to do by doing” by doing. In other words, I didn’t glean that knowledge from Aristotle’s writing, but actually uncovered that truth through my own experience. I love writing this blog. It helps to underscore for me what I’m learning and thus helps me to integrate the learnings more firmly.