Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Bible

as depiction of humanity's search for self.

And in this perspective it is indeed the Word of God...

Just one among many.

The Purpose In Life

I cannot say for sure however if there is just one purpose in life for each of us then I would say right now that “to become who I really am” is my one purpose in life.

Of course becoming who I really am encompasses all those things that we speak of as our purpose in life, inclusive of the external actions to be taken that are the result of what we believe to be our purpose in life, or at least one of our purposes in life.

More importantly however is that finding our purpose encompasses all of our inner world. It means getting to know our interior selves, our feelings, our thoughts, our dreams and fantasies. It means expressing our inner selves which of course means expressing our own innate and individual creativity.

What comes out of my heart and soul, what comes from my mind is the creative expression of who I am in whatever form it takes. What I say, what I do, what I think, what I like, what I dislike, all of these phenomena are part and parcel of that which is really me.

It is not possible to dispose of the mask that we wear. It is not possible to dissolve the persona that we carry around, that “me” that I show to the world at large. It is not possible for me to dispose of my mask unless everyone with whom I come into contact disposes of theirs also... and we know that ain’t going to happen anytime soon. I do not think we are capable of doing this simply because I do not think we’re even aware of where we end and our mask begins. In our conscious minds the two have become one and it takes a significant bit of work and courage to investigate and dismantle that mask. So many people aren’t even aware of the possibility of doing this.

Dismantling the mask to the greatest degree possible – this is a challenge, because it means first finding the courage and this is the true definition of courage. Finding the courage to first weed through the garbage, the emotional garbage in order to get to what is really there and then to allow what is really there to emerge even though it makes us uncomfortable, even though we don’t like certain aspects of ourselves, even though what we may find flies in the face of everything we ever thought was right and true and especially in the presence and pressure of all those other masks out there now THAT is courage.

Funny thing is that even though those of us who sense that there is a purpose to our lives tend to look right past this really rather simple idea. In Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” it was his suggestion, or rather observation that those individuals who survived the horrors of Auschwitz were those that attached a purpose to their lives, not necessarily a definitive purpose but they knew that there was something out there, somewhere, perhaps in some future time and place for which they needed to stay alive in order to ultimately achieve. God wants me to accomplish “something” in this life yet that “something” is defined I think as something very specific. Something very specific that is as yet down the road, not yet realized.

But here’s the kicker: that “something” happens every minute of our lives. That “something” happens moment by moment when we exercise our ability to think and feel and do that which we can. That “something” is exercised when we stretch ourselves, when we reach for yet more of our potential, when we grasp for more, when we put ourselves to the test, when we seek for more or different from ourselves or… OR when we simply allow to emerge what we already know to be within.

Sometimes that “something” means nothing more than experiencing what is within us in that moment. That too is part of what it means to be me and is that not our purpose? To learn how to be Me? Sometimes that purpose, that “something” means trying to hang on to life because in that moment and for whatever reason life has become harder than we might have imagined. And so in that moment, and perhaps for moments yet to come the “something” is merely to try and hang on to life.

We are here for something that much most of us would agree to be true but what we seldom consider is how that purpose changes from moment to moment and encompasses not just some unseen, future event or activity, some cause that the twists and turns in our life force us to consider and oftentimes embrace as our “purpose” but that which is happening right now, in that very moment. That cause in which we are currently engaged, sometimes joyful, sometimes a painful struggle but either way an integral piece of our purpose in life.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This Is My Truth. Here I Take My Stand.

Why is it so hard for us to find that place? Or perhaps the better question would be why is it so hard to take our stand once we find that place. I think perhaps if we are paying attention we find that place of truth for ourselves many times throughout our lives. If only we recognize it definitively when we arrive at a place of our truth it then must take all of our courage to say “here I take my stand”. The influence of others is so strong that we are rendered almost incapable of making that final statement.

There are times when one’s place of truth is a place of pain that lies just below the surface and one avoids taking one’s stand by not so much in denying the truth of the pain but in a reluctance to let it flow freely to the surface. When all of one’s efforts are employed in keeping that pain at bay, hiding it from the world and projecting an image of self-control, competence and (what we have come to know as) “strength”.

Is it obvious that I am referring to myself in that paragraph? There… I took a little bit of my stand by admitting that I am talking about me while at the same time avoiding that same stand by speaking impersonally of a figurative “one”.

Sometimes our “truth” does not manifest itself in an outward display of what we would define as a position of strength. Sometimes what we define as a position of strength is in fact the means by which we deny the current truth of ourselves and it is in fact the act of allowing our “weakness” to show and our vulnerability to flow that has us taking our stand in our truth.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

False Existence

From Thomas Merton’s No Man Is An Island:

“… the loss of faith has involved at the same time a complete loss of all sense of reality. Being means nothing to those who hate and fear what they themselves are. Therefore they cannot have peace in their own reality (which reflects the reality of God). They must struggle to escape their true being, and verify a false existence by constantly viewing what they themselves do. They have to keep looking in the mirror for reassurance… They are hoping for some sign that they have become the god they hope to become by means of their own frantic activity – invulnerable, all powerful, infinitely wise, unbearably beautiful, unable to die!”

I would not dispute the truth of this statement. In fact with just some cursory effort and a little insight it is plainly evident in our so progressive western world. However what I cannot get onboard with is his sort of accusatory tone, as if all of us are completely aware of our choice between valuing who and what we really are vs. what we think is valuable which is to say power and invulnerability or that which we think makes us powerful and invulnerable. Money is power, owning things, a big house, a fancy car is to be admired. Power and prestige in our social and professional circles make us invulnerable. I out rank you therefore I have power over you therefore I am invulnerable to you. This is what we think, this is what we are taught, whether by word or deed that these are the truths of life.

Most of us are not aware of the other option, plain and simple. We are taught from the beginning of life to strive for power and avoid vulnerability from other people who were taught right from the beginning of life to strive for power and avoid vulnerability. It is all we know, it is all we ever knew so how could we know any other way and why does he make it sound so downright morally reprehensible? This of course is easy to do when we come to a place of feeling morally superior when we think we have ‘found’ God. I know that feeling, that attitude because I had a bit of it not all that long ago. You start to figure a few things out, you get to thinking you’re on the right track to the secret that’s hidden from everyone else, you start to thinking that you’ve got it all worked out and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. And so it becomes easy to point out how others are completely missing the point. They don’t get it those silly, ignorant, spiritually bereft people. Look at them with their big cars and their big, important jobs and their high-falutin social life. But I know those things means nothing, I just don’t understand why they don’t get it.

I do believe that those people that Mr. Merton speaks of above are indeed struggling to escape their true being and quite possibly verify a false existence but I would venture to guess that very few of them are really, truly looking in the mirror at themselves and you see there’s the rub; they’re not necessarily aware that there is a mirror that needs looking into.

I am coming to believe – most certainly it is true for me and I would venture to guess for every other individual who spends their days struggling to escape their true being that the denial, the struggle for power, the quest for invulnerability, the striving for external rewards to validate their lives is not only the product of the education handed down to us via our environment but more importantly and far more tragically it is the result of our instinct for self-preservation.

Our need for power and invulnerability is a response to a position whereby we were completely powerless and totally vulnerable, oftentimes to those who chose to abuse their position of power and authority, who chose to stomp on our vulnerability instead of treating it with kindness and gentleness and respect. It has to happen, loved ones get sick, they die, they develop addictions or simply become mean and bitter.  People we love hurt us in their efforts to tackle and subdue their own demons.  It cannot be helped.  Our need for power and invulnerability is a normal, human response to a version of life that includes disappointment and pain and suffering, these things cannot be avoided in any life.

If I continue directing all my energy towards striving for power and invulnerability, material things, all that is characteristic of our external world then I don’t have to notice myself. I don’t have to notice my feelings. I don’t have to notice my vulnerability and I don’t have to notice any pain that might still linger long after the stomping has occurred. This is what we fear, laying our hearts open and running the risk of having it stomped on yet again. And if I stop striving long enough to realize that there is an inner world to go along with that outer world than I am faced with the realization that I might have to look into that world and see what’s there.. and feel what’s there.  Who in their right mind wouldn’t choose a sports car and a big fancy house over that?

And all I can think to say is I never knew.  I never, ever knew I was doing this.