Why am I really here and since I am –what should I do next? In a way these sound like such a whiny questions and depending on who’s asking they may well be. On the other hand they are the essence of the struggle people face when they come to the end of the conventional paths offered by the conventional activities of a conventional life.
Most people reaching sexual maturity are caught in the chemical traps laid down by our evolutionary development to guarantee the continuation of the species. In other words, driven by our hormone flooded bodies we target a person of the opposite sex –marry them and have sex or do the same in reverse order and wala… children! This sets in motion a twenty plus year struggle to meet the needs of a family. Mean while both parents are battling the reality of the disparity of reality and fantasy as their ideals of love dissolve in the face of the face of their spouse. And when they confide in an older, trusted friend or family member they are told… that’s life! Happiness, be damned. Peace of mind… don’t worry it comes with age –which is really code for senility. The same questions asked of a minister will yield different answers. If they seem satisfactory –then seek no further. The rest of what is offered here will be of little interest to you.
But there exists another breed that defies the natural order and whose numbers are growing. They ’re the ones who ask these seemingly whiny questions in earnest and will not be put off with shallow answers. Now seen for what they are tools for the re-patterning of a human being who has chosen to defy the designs of nature –they are really quite good and brave questions.
Actually people at all stages of life are asking these questions that our churches were supposed to answer. And without insinuating any disrespect –let’s just say that for some the typical religious answers are no longer sufficient. Not wrong but now days they just don’t take this new breed of questioner far enough.
That said there are some things that can be done. There are some answers that can be given. But good questions well answered do not settle the matter for the person who is now a spiritual loose cannon –the soon to be new man or new woman –this new creation that nature resists but secretly has been waiting to see emerge for a long, long time.
Even so, the individual person has a fundamental problem. This is that life is not about him or her –and yet we –each of us individually –are all we have to work with. But take heart. In truth the efforts of each individual counts for something. Exactly what that is waits to be discovered.
But the consideration of this page is, Your Life Path. This is actually the easy part. Once a person has realized that their goal is not that gold watch or just the successful launching of a new generation of young adults; all you have to do is keep on keeping on. By this I don’t mean that you should keep on being a conventional human being. Just don’t immediately quit your day job, for heaven’s sake! If you have promised your love to another –love them with all your heart. Having done this, in the end you will find that you have done something very high and noble -Possibly even preserving a level of stability that will speed you on your way as you search for deeper spiritual satisfaction. However some will find that difficult changes are necessary. As best you can, allow honesty, mercy and grace, in other words allow love to guide your decisions.
Re-orienting your life in terms of a solid spiritual destination takes time. Please do not be fooled by expensive imitations! Read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Read until you have a wide and clear perspective of what is possible given the many avenues and options. As you read allow your culture and your personal passion and preferences to help guide you toward a sound, substantial spiritual practice. Properly understood a spiritual practice is something you do that breaks your old world view while constructing the new one. To do this one Meditates and or prays. But you must be careful to learn which meditative and prayer practices really transform you and which just steal your time. Continue to ask good questions and settle for nothing less than really good answers. Often the best answer may be… “I don’t know!”
In this vein I must tell you that I do not know which practice you should adopt. This is a very personal decision and only you will know when you have found the way which is right for you.
That said I will offer a few words of guidance. If you say that you are seeking personal fulfillment –in truth you are seeking union with the Divine. Happily I tell you, Divinity is seeking you too and in fact you are both already in possession of the object of your desires! All goodness god, is inside of you waiting for you to clear away the clutter that you have placed between yourself and the object of your affection.
In terms of practice –in very general terms I suggest that you look for a reputable Zen Roshi –a lineage holder. This will be a man or woman who has been tried by fire meaning long years of study, practice and service. Only after this were they examined and found qualified to safely carry the responsibility of teaching so as to guide you. Or if you haven’t got a “rash” up about the church = it’s a barely popular brand of discontent these days –you may choose to look to the contemplative practices now flourishing within select Christian communities practicing Centering Prayer. In the company of Father Thomas Keating’s students, now teachers themselves, you may find safe haven. I give these general suggestions because I know that they will lead you toward personal experience with the Divine satisfaction that all people long for. This is distinct –different and other than a belief system. Let me say this again you are looking for personal, experiential connection with god not a belief about him, her, them or it.
Just for fun, consider that god, though ultimately beyond knowing may be experienced in a mind blowing encounter as First, Second or Third Person –as Verb and Noun. But don’t settle for an adjective. Consider this a riddle. It’s really not a very difficult one and as you come to see what is meant by these words you may also find solace from uncertainty as you break the bonds of convention in favor of that which is real.
At this point what you have read hear may seem to be just words, and more words. But in time and according to your sincerity and effort you will come to see degrees of truth and substantiality in what has been offered to you. But be sure you come to know for yourself. Follow blindly –no one. Believe unquestioningly –no one. The truth and satisfaction you are looking for is already waiting for you in your heart –your spiritual heart. Seek and you will find it.
Tom Carroll has offered these words to guide, instruct and bring comfort as you grow in love and service.
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