As soon as my morning writing and meditation were done, thanks to The Celestine Prophecy: An Experiential Guide (in which I was studying The Second Insight), I posted this question on Facebook:
Before the year ends, I ask the Universe: So what and where shall it be, then? Home or away? Something old or something new? Or will you come out of left field and surprise me yet again? Whatever it shall be this time, I hope it brings me right back on track–you know what I mean. 🙂
Just a few minutes later, I received in my email inbox this excerpt from Yoga Journal:
How can you honor and work with the arising desire to make changes in your life that occurs this time of year? To do so you must acknowledge that the call for changes may be larger than your ego identity and therefore may be arising from impulses you don’t fully understand. Yet you must find a way to consciously and skillfully participate in allowing the new to emerge. Bookstores are full of books whose authors want to tell you how to do this, from the most sacred aspects of your life to the mundane. These books promise to help you find a spiritual direction, shape up your body, get a new job, and overcome your shortcomings as a lover, parent, and friend.
Some of these books are really quite useful. But there is another, more fundamental perspective based on the teachings of the Buddha that can help you directly explore the feelings that arise within you and understand why you want to alter some aspect of your life. Think of it as the Dharma of life changes—the practice of bringing mindfulness to the longings and impulses that lead you to make major life changes. Mindfulness provides a method for consciously and skillfully working with the complexity of moving in new directions in your life.
I invite you to click on this link (“Loving Life’s Questions”) to read the full article and see what it means for you in your own life, but these were the paragraphs that stuck out, clearly posing me a challenge about the object of my discernment:
“His [the author, Philip Moffit, was referring to one of his spiritual teachers] message to beware of the snares of daily life, to look through them and concentrate on your relationship with the transcendent, is a key teaching in many spiritual traditions, including Christianity and Buddhism. The teaching suggests that if you are a true seeker, your focus should be on the death of the ego—becoming free of grasping or clinging to the rewards of daily life and cutting through the illusion that anything in this temporal world will bring you lasting happiness. It is a grand vision of steadfast courage that does not yield to temptation or distraction and celebrates the magnificence of what is possible for a seeker of liberation. It brings vitality to your efforts for finding freedom and penetrating the mystery of life.”
* * *
“This teacher emphasizes freeing the heart, moment to moment, as the path to liberation. For him there is only this moment in which you are either awake or not awake, causing suffering or not for yourself or others; therefore, the most skillful means for finding ultimate freedom is not to focus on some future aim but rather to liberate this moment. And by constantly repeating this process, you will gradually come to reside in freedom without it being anything special.”
* * *
“For you the most effective way to keep on the path is to stay focused on the step that you are taking just now, then the next one, and the next.
“Why? Because you realize the step you take at this very moment causes suffering either to yourself or to others, or it does not. The thoughts, words, and actions involved in taking this step are either in harmony with the values represented by the peak or in discord with them. This insight keeps you in the moment, mindful, and motivated. It’s not that you are copping out or compromising by staying in the “now”; it simply is the surest way for you to arrive at the peak starting from where you are.”
* * *
“It is easy to justify to yourself that your inner and outer priorities are out of balance because you’ve got a demanding job, your child is at a critical age, or you are not settled in your relationship. Once this matter is resolved, you tell yourself, you will devote more time to your inner life. Only it doesn’t work that way—the future is unknown. There is only this time, and your only choice is to work with life just as it is at present.
* * *
“In order to develop your inner life, you are not required to give up all those things you care about in daily life, but rather you learn to balance them in a manner that is reflective of your true values. For most of people this means repeatedly letting go of things that the mind is telling us we want. It is not that you want things that are unwholesome, rather it is that your ego wants too much; it is insatiably hungry. The only way to be free of this craving is to stop organizing around it, to shift the balance between your inner and outer life. Making such a shift often does not feel good initially, but in time you experience a spaciousness that is far more precious than that which you sacrificed.”
And this was the kicker:
“You are in the souvenir shop of your own life, picking up one object after another looking for satisfaction that never comes. Do you want to continue living your life primarily in the souvenir shop? [Boldface mine]”
I’m listening, Universe. Talk to me.