Without the dark night or the “crisis of suffering” there can be no death. And “without the mystical death there is no perfect freedom and no advance into the promised land of mystical union.”
“How many people there are in the world of today who have “lost their faith” along with the vain hopes and illusions of their childhood. What they called “faith” was just one among the other illusions. They placed all their hope in a certain sense of spiritual peace, of comfort, of interior equilibrium, of self-respect. Then when they began to struggle with real difficulties and burdens of mature life, when they became aware of their own weakness, they lost their peace, they let go of their precious self-respect, and it became impossible for them to “believe.” That is to say, it became impossible for them to comfort themselves, to reassure themselves, with the images and concepts they found reassuring in childhood.
Place no hope in the feeling of assurance, in spiritual comfort. You may well have to get along without this. Place no hope in the inspirational preachers of Christian sunshine, who are able to get you up and set you back on your feet and make you feel good for three or four days—until you fold up and collapse into despair.
Self-confidence is a precious natural gift, a sign of health. But it is not the same thing as faith. Faith is much deeper, and it must be deep enough to subsist when we are weak, when we are sick, when our self-confidence is gone, when our self-respect is gone. I do no mean faith only functions when we are otherwise in a state of collapse. But true faith must be able to go on even when everything else is taken away from us. Only a humble man is able to accept faith on these terms, so completely without reservation that he is glad of it in its purest state, and welcomes it happily even when nothing else comes of it, and everything else is taken away.
If we are not humble, we tend to demand that faith must also bring with it good health, peace of mind, good luck, success in business, popularity, world peace, and every other good thing we can imagine…
Meditation has nothing to do with bothering yourself. It is about resting in your self; being with your self, without regret or irritation… Paying attention to your self. This is the practice of loneliness— rediscovering our capacity to live beyond the realm of entertainment and validation.
Having observed your situation completely you will discover that there is no real problem. You are sufficient. That is, you will see that you are whole or complete. Total. Resting in this is the practice of meditation.
Once you have discovered this wholeness there is a great sense of wealth. You are not missing anything, and are therefore in need of nothing. Loneliness has been transformed into solitude. You can now participate in true relationship. You can give your self to another, without fear of loss, because you know that you are infinite, an abundance of energy. This energy is love, and resting with it is freedom.
Elephant 365 is an example of Elephant Journal’s commitment to the Mindful Life. Everyday we will offer a new reading regarding meditation practice and the spiritual path, all infused with a fresh perspective on traditional spirituality. If you would like to follow Elephant 365 on FaceBook click here and become a fan of Elephant Meditation by clicking the “Like” tab at the top of the page.
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