How does spiritual well-being manifest in our lives?
Truth and Sanity
We all desire health and well-being. We cannot not desire it. We are wired for it. A subtle level of health is often called sanity. Truth is the ground or basis of sanity.
From this point of view, Truth is uncreated. We participate in Truth. We do not generate it. If our participation in Truth is marked by an attitude of acceptance and consent, then sanity is the consequence. If our attitude towards Truth is characterized by fear and resistance, then insanity and suffering are present.
The only way to work with insanity and suffering are to admit them into our conscious framework without any buffer or justification. Blame and intellectualization denies them entry. We must first and foremost accept the truth of suffering. Once we fully embrace the presence of suffering and insanity within our own lives—which may or may not be accompanied by an explanation—the heaviness and solidity of suffering begins to breakup. When we renounce our fear and resistance towards our depression, anxiety or pride, space is realized in the midst of suffering.
It is a relationship with Truth that sets you free, even when Truth is uncomfortable.
Working with suffering in this way takes a great deal of courage. If we hope to progress along the path, we must be willing to taste our fears without any condiments. We cannot manage this energy forever. Inevitably, the time will come where each and every one of us are faced with two alternatives: One is to find a distraction and cling to it, silently awaiting the day when your fear devours your life from the inside out; and the other, is to step into the rawness and immediacy of fear while you are still trembling.
Resurrection follows death.
Our confrontation with fear is bound to kill us. It shatters our self-image, but transformation comes out of this death. This is the miracle of rebirth.
We find, waiting on the fringe of darkness, a reservoir of power that belongs to the experience of who we are. The complex of resistance—fear and physical tension—has kept this instinctual, unsophisticated energy along the perimeter all this time.
Occasionally, “all this time” refers to only a short while: minutes, hours, or even days. More often, it refers to weeks or months and sometimes years of prolonged depression and frustration that amount to a piercing and unshakable feeling of lifelessness. Often times we are haunted by the shadow of meaninglessness and find no solace.
If we are persistent and keep practicing, both on and off the meditation cushion, the miracle happens.
We die to our old self, and the patterns of fear and tension that solidify it. In the gap, we discover the space necessary to accommodate this pocket of pent-up energy. Then, low and behold, in the silence of mindfulness, this pent-up energy is revealed to be the very force that animates your life. Finally, out of the darkness we emerge anew, deeper and more fulfilled, but totally embodied.
This is resurrection.
It is always in our relationship with Truth that freshness and inspiration are discovered. Truth is forever calling to us, “Adam, where are you?”
Often, within the Buddhist tradition, Truth is referred to as, “Things, as they are.” Well, “things, as they are” is constantly inviting us to participate in the spirit of Truth, to be an incarnation of Truth. The invitation to embody Truth by being “as we are” has been laid upon our hearts.
Sometimes accepting this invitation is easy, and other times it is very difficult and requires a great deal of perseverance and trust. Sometimes, it is too dark and we cannot see. In times like these, with nothing more than courage at our disposal, we are asked to fall into who we are by simply trusting our spiritual practice and the principal of Grace.
Grace is not some vague or idealistic theological tenet. Grace refers to the infinite nature of the divine, which extends even into the groundlessness of her womb.
We do not need to patch up our vulnerability or resist the unknown with plans and strategies that seek to avoid heartache and disappointment, because they too are groundless.
We cannot go splat, because there is no bottom.
Grace is not a parachute that we can pull when we are afraid. Grace is the realization that solid ground is generated within the conceptual mind. In fact, not only is there no ground to hit, but falling is our true nature. Grace is the Lion’s Roar. It is, as Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche so eloquently stated, “the fearless proclamation that whatever comes up in our state of mind, including powerful emotions, is workable.”
Faith and Grace come together with the principle of discipleship to form the basis of spiritual growth.
We have to develop trust in and through our spiritual practice, so that we come into the indestructible goodness that is written on our hearts. Having reconnected with the quality of basic goodness that characterizes our true nature, we take the living quality of this goodness or the stirring wind of inspiration as our spiritual guide. At this point, the practices become a way of being present to and disciplined by the activity of self-existing inspiration.
These three things—Faith, Grace, and the principle of Discipleship—come together to form, what Paul Tillich called, “the courage to be.” They arouse courage, which is an aspect of basic goodness. This particular quality enable us “to be, as we are” even in the midst of fear.
But “things, as they are” is not a finished product. Truth is forever expanding, so we must never stop falling. Therefore, courage is an indispensable virtue on the spiritual path.
Ed: Sara Crolick