I’m back after a wonderful drive down through the wheatfields of Washington State. Vancouver is hemmed in by mountains so a drive south of the border is like getting out of a confined room.
Usually when we head out on a trip of any length, my wife D’Arcy and I have a chance to catch up. It’s a great time for reflection.
What I noticed about myself, as the result of my own sharing, is that I’m in a state of not-wanting. And I had a chance to look back on how that developed.
I’ve worked in many disciplines that cluster around the awareness path: Vipassana meditation, enlightenment intensives, est, even encounter groups. They all share the practice of raising things to awareness and then simply being with them. Not resisting, not changing, not craving or averting. Just being with what’s seen.
When applied to the upsets of life, that discipline sees a person get to the bottom of an upset and then just experience it through to completion. When applied to wanting, it sees a person experience the desire rather than necessarily acting on it.
Added to that is the fact that every goal I’ve had in life, I appear to have accomplished. There seems to be nothing looming in front of me, no mountain to climb, no forest to push through. Ascension will come whether I push or pull. It’ll come if I do neither. I don’t see that as a goal to reach or a hill to climb. It doesn’t show up for me as something incomplete.
There’s nothing outside of me that calls, nothing that acts like a pull externalizing my consciousness.
Having satisfied all my yearnings in life, having reached the point of doing all I wanted to do, and having left behind much of the desiring mind and the constructed self, which is the house in which worry, hope and fear reside, I find myself simply being in a peaceful space, in an endlessly unfolding moment of now.
Now that can be a problem for a journalist, but I’m risking it to see what value’s produced.
What I notice right away is that, when this quietening occurs, the inner life begins to stir and come to life. So long as I direct my attention outwards, the call of the inner life cannot be heard. Only when everything quiets down and there are no more desires presenting themselves with the force of overdue bills can any of the subtle inner promptings be felt and recognized.
We went into numerous shops and I usually found the “husband’s chair” and just sat there in a semi-meditative state. Gone was the desire to buy books or anything else for that matter. OK, I had an ice cream cone and my favorite candy. But even that was not like a “have-to.”
When we went back through Customs and I was asked what did I buy? I could honestly respond: “Nothing.” Nothing to be gained from holding us up, we were waved through.
I’m convinced that the inner life doesn’t begin until the appeal of the outer life wanes. And that appeal can’t be forced to stop. It has to be allowed to run its course. Mine appears to have run its course (I could be wrong). I think I’m experiencing what Sri Ramakrishna would have called my “spiritual pension.” (1) There needs to be much effort in the beginning and then later there need be much less.
If I were in India a century ago, I’d be leaning towards the life of a forest dweller.
Soon enough all will be busy-ness and activity but for now I’m enjoying the peacefulness, bliss, and joy of the inner life. The subtle draw of the Kingdom of Heaven within is operating.
How I reconcile that with the call of the journalist’s role remains to be seen. But I’m up for letting it unfold if you are.
(1) “In the beginning you must struggle a little; later on you will enjoy your pension.” (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 210.)