This isn’t about wanting cars and status. This is about wanting peace. Enlightenment. Samadhi. This is about regaining what has been experienced in brief glimpses of eternity. People talk about flow, and the cessation of the inner dialogue, and we’ve all had these moments I guess. I know I’ve had a few. And I’ve had a few extremely powerful spiritual experiences that at once opened my heart and conversely, made me aware of what I am missing in my every day waking state.
Swami Yogeshananda, a gentleman on whom I should write a longer post because he’s quite interesting, said: “the difference between a spiritual experience and a dream is that the dream fades, but a spiritual experience is never forgotten.” Damn straight.
So, I am currently reading Michael Singer’s “Surrender Experiment” (i put it in quotes though i sense that’s not the full title).
As I began my slowing down/healing journey, I realized that spiritual practice based on reading and discussing holy books was not quite going to cut it. I needed a practice, much like meditation, that could guide my daily activities. When I found the Ramakrishna Monastery (again, deserving of it’s own post because it’s such a special place) the first talk I was able to attend was by a nun named Sevaprana and was titled, “Forgiveness.” Her talk was excellent and gave me lots of fodder to apply forgiveness in my daily life, as a practice, as my primary spiritual pursuit.
Turns out, forgiveness is quite a profound spiritual practice, and definitely another post. And as forgiveness went to work on me, it transformed itself into Surrender. This was in winter 2015 and the first book I read on the subject was Hawkins’ “Letting Go” which i think was subtitled “the art of surrender” but I’m not sure. Hawkins is one of my favorite thinkers, but not one of my favorite authors, but he described thoughts like bait on a hook, and we the fish in a beautiful river. we may enjoy the river, but if we take the bait, that hook is going to take us on quite the unnecessary journey. Not taking the bait became a mantra for me, and quite effective. I mean, we traveled for 18 months without a stitch of a plan, so, yes, Surrender became an important part of my life.
Here a few years later, it is gratifying to see that Surrender has made some significant alterations to my mind-state. In short assessments I never would’ve noticed any of them (more evidence for why it sucks to keep score). But, with the luxury of hindsight and the memory of the latent (and sometimes not so latent) anxiety that coursed through my being before these practices began, I am so grateful for the difference I could cry.
In the time prior to these practices, I wanted to read something or learn something and transform in that moment and in lieu of such result considered the reading or learning insufficient, unsuccessful. A dud.
Ah, the mentality of instant gratification…
Also during those times, I would read about someone’s miraculous transformation (often in regards to health) and I tried every single thing I could read about in search of my own transformational moment. Uhm… it never came. But what did evolve was a toolkit of techniques, oddly enough, most of which have come in handy in a micro sort of way at one point or another. Apparently big, permanent transformation was not appropriate for me. Until it was. Life is full of contradictions.
Life Itself is unfolding before us and revealing Itself to us constantly. And we sit there like, “uhm, not sure this is valid. could we get a stage? maybe some lighting… a sound system… maybe a smoke machine? then I really couldn’t deny it is You and it is Special.”
People walk around wishing for a million dollar check when God works in small, unmarked bills.
So, back to the fact that I’m reading Michael Singer’s book, and I’m enjoying it. It comes at a time in my life that I’ve practiced a lot of Surrender. I used to agonize over not knowing my broader purpose given that I haven’t been working, and as much as I love my family life I certainly always felt contribution was what created value (this value assessment conundrum being a big part of this whole Slowing Down process). Anyhow, the practice of surrender allows me to trust that what I need to do will present itself as I wholeheartedly practice engaging with life. This has been an enormous shift, and a huge relief, and a playful friendship with life instead of trying to scale the mountain of it.
Michael Singer’s book is really chock full of stories about practical surrender and remarkable results. If I were reading this book at the beginning of my surrender practice, I would be wildly jealous and immediately start doing what he did looking for the same results. But because it comes when it does, I am only a tiny bit jealous, and far more inspired. Not to try to copy him and replicate his experience, but to deepen my practices with some insights from his and let life build my own experience more easily (or at least having my experience of it more readily – i’m pretty sure everything is pretty easy for Life).
My goal is to be an instrument through which the Breath of Life sings it’s blessings to the universe itself. I am still exploring how to clean the windpipes, and after that I think I’ll need some lessons on pressing buttons or the key-shifts of whatever kind of instrument I am. I’m not sure, but with this intention and declared faith in Life Itself, it is ok letting Life show me in Its own time.