Giving up the Climb
(This post is a follow up to and even embodiment of “Welcoming Taboo Thoughts” from 9/28/18.)
The central axis around which my current spiritual journey revolves is radical self-acceptance. This involves letting go of all need to improve, better myself, control my ego, or purify my energy. After all these years of workshops, book reading, pod-cast listening, advanced training, psychotherapy, meditation and mantra recitation I am at last in a place that simply says, “This is me and I am actually quite happy with who and what I am.”
In this mode, the questions are no longer “What is wrong?” “What needs to be fixed?” “How do I become more spiritual or enlightened?” Rather the question is “What is life teaching me in this moment to which I need to pay close attention?” This involves an intentional, conscious dropping of all negative self-talk, internal self-criticism and self-rejection. It involves a moving away from any form of “I should _________.” And a move toward “I WANT to __________.” I am no longer interested in being better. I am very interested in being more authentic.
At this time, and in this place, there nowhere else I am headed toward. There is no greater vision of myself, even my higher self, that I wish to achieve. Over the years I have climbed a long way up “The Mountain of Spiritual Development.” And much to my utter surprise I don’t feel the need to climb one step further. Until the past year or so, I wanted to climb to the peak. But that has changed. I know people who have climbed higher than I have. They are beautiful beings with a very rich spiritual life but I am content in this time and place. I don’t need to move one step higher. Essentially, I see myself as either a sort of way-station for those who are climbing onward providing support, nourishment and a warm fire place or as providing support to those in the early stages of their climb. For now, I surrender the climb and embrace the present. In the past I wanted to climb with the others to experience that joy with them. I wanted to attain what they were accomplishing. What I see today is that is mostly wanting to be them. Now, I simply want to be fully where I am. Next month or next year I might want to climb again but for now there is plenty of shelter, food, nourishment and a warm hearth to share. It is a wonderful place to be.
This is not nirvana, or enlightenment. It is contentment. It is not some special altered state of consciousness. It is an ordinary liking of where I am. My growth will come not with climbing but rather with studying the music of Lenard Cohen or as I improve as a photographer encountering beautiful Herons in local ponds. I will grow as I read the Sufi poet Hafiz. This also involves accepting things about myself in this time which don’t necessarily fit into my original spiritual plan. Three quick examples involve: first, accepting those days when I am feeling totally slothful and lazy being able only to binge watch television. Certainly, sloth is not part of the usual spiritual path. I trust this will last only one day and it is right to accept that day without one iota of self-recrimination. Second, I have meditated very inconsistently in recent months and as much as I have tried to make myself be more disciplined and consistent more effort has not helped. So, this is a time of less meditation. Since the beginning of my spiritual climb, meditation in its various forms was at the center of my life and now I accept that time may be past and hope that in the future the process returns. It does no good to try to force it to be different simply because I should. Third, last spring I took a several month sabbatical from blogging. I simply had no energy for it and everything I wrote was bland, dull and almost lifeless. No matter how much I tried to reach within or to discipline myself it did not improve. So I accepted what was real about myself and backed off for three months. I knew it was possible that the time of blogging was done which was a disappointing thought. But the sabbatical worked. Acceptance worked. The motivation and desire returned.
The portion of my life which is still in front of me is there in a new way that is freer and more open. Limits have evolved into opportunities. I am no longer fixing what is broken but am harvesting what I’ve been given so far over the course of these seventy years.