The light is not at the end of the tunnel
Most of us spend so much of our lives with our energy scattered, pulled in a hundred different directions at once, running to keep up. The peace we long for, the inner space and light we know are innately ours, often feel far away at the end of a long tunnel.
Even the practices we use to centre ourselves and return to the present moment can become just further items on an ever-expanding list of things to do before we can simply relax, feel the pulse of life in our heart, and just enjoy being ourselves.
That’s not a reason not to abandon those practices, although it might be a reason to question our approach to them.
Genesis has a lot to answer for
If we’ve grown up in the West there’s a good chance that we’ve absorbed the fundamental message from Christianity that we are essentially flawed in our being (original sin) and that our earthly existence is basically accursed (exile from the garden).
Bringing this deep conditioning to any form of spiritual practice will tend to infuse that practice with the sense of impossibility, of infinite distance from the ultimate goal.
Why? Because the essence of all spirituality is simply to be alive to the ever-unfolding miracle, here and now. That includes you, just as you are, and the world, just as it is.
But when we carry the deep, unconscious belief in our own sinfulness and that of the entire earth then we’re going to experience massive conflict between that belief and whatever practice we use to try to drop into the present moment and rest in the simple arising of what is.
Spiritual practice can then all-too-easily become, against our conscious wishes, an attempt to escape from who we are in our humanity and from our place of belonging here on earth.
So much spiritual bypassing is rooted in this unresolved conflict. So much of the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel quest of seeking and transcendence is based there. As is so much of the ravaging and destruction of the planet.
For if at some deep level we have accepted the judgement that we and our world are bad then how can we hope to relax into it and feel at peace in ourselves and our lives? How can we hope to have reverence for the earth as a sacred creation? It’s impossible.
And so we are left with running, running, striving for heaven up above or at the end of a long list of achievements, self-improvements or technological advances, exiled from the here and now.
But it doesn’t have to be so.
You are perfect just as you are
We can step outside the story of being fundamentally flawed and exiled in a hostile world, and dissolve the conflict between our spiritual practices, our daily lives, and our deep beliefs.
We can choose to make friends with ourselves as we are and our world as it is.
We can slow down and soften into what is here, however apparently ugly or messy that is, and start to feel gently held wherever we are by the encompassing miracle that is our vast universe. This, I believe, is the basis for a fruitful spiritual practice.
Imagine sitting down to prayer or meditation with the sense of relaxing into a gentle lover’s arms, feeling loved and accepted exactly as we are by the power that holds the universe in being from moment to moment.
Spiritual practice becomes a natural thing, a simple thing. There is nothing in us to escape from, nor is there anything outside ourselves to strive for. We rest in the open space of our heart, enjoy the precious aliveness of our body and its relationship to earth and sky, behold the fragile beauty all around us and the majesty of creation.
We are already awakened beings. We are fundamentally good. We belong here amidst the goodness and generosity of the earth and sky. We are at home in the miracle of the universe’s unfolding.
By choosing again and again to inhabit this more cheerful story about ourselves and our cosmos our spirituality can become a joyful thing, a celebration of and deepening into what already is, rather than a futile quest or battle to become something other than we are.