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#2901 - Tuesday, August 14, 2007 - Editor: Jerry Katz

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  • Jerry Katz
    #2901 - Tuesday, August 14, 2007 - Editor: Jerry Katz The Nondual Highlights - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights One: Essential Writings on
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      #2901 - Tuesday, August 14, 2007 - Editor: Jerry Katz 

      The Nondual Highlightshttp://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights  

      One: Essential Writings on Nonduality. Amazon site: http://nonduality.com/one.htm 
      Check availability at your local Borders Store:  
      http://www.bordersstores.com/locator/locator.jsp?tt=gn  

        


       

      Here is another chapter from Roadsigns On the Spiritual Path, by Philip Goldberg. An excerpt was also featured in issue #2896: http://nonduality.com/hl2896.htm

      The Amazon.com link to order this book is http://www.amazon.com/Roadsigns-Spiritual-Path-Living-Heart-Paradox/dp/1591810507/ref=sr_1_1/102-5936403-4980917?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186707733&sr=1-1    

       


       

       

       

      DON’T HURRY,

      BE HAPPY

      The seeking after God is an endless process,

      even for a saint.

      —Yacub ibn Sahid

      J

      ason was in a hurry. A long-time Buddhist meditator

      and sporadically observant Jew, he felt that his voyage

      to nirvana had stalled, and he was determined to speed

      things up. He calculated that he would need to take a oneor

      two-month retreat, twice a year, to achieve what he

      called “maximum spiritual propulsion.” To accomplish

      that goal, he would have to earn as much money in the remaining

      eight to ten months as he usually did all year. He

      set out to do just that, supplementing his private physical

      therapy practice with workman’s compensation cases. He

      ended up working so many hours that he had to skimp on

      the daily practices that had always sustained his spirit. He

      grew so tense from overwork and sleep deprivation that

      he lost his joy and alienated his family. To top it off, one

      sleepy afternoon he goofed up with a patient and is now

      being sued for malpractice. Instead of gaining spiritual

      propulsion, he’s headed for spiritual burnout.

      Jason is an example of what I call the Barry Gold-

      water approach to spirituality: extremism in the defense

      of liberation is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of enlightenment

      is no virtue.

       

      The promise of supreme wisdom and God-consciousness

      is intoxicating. We want it ASAP. And, as we saw in

      Chapter 22, a sensible amount of eager restlessness can be

      a good thing. It’s when the yearning crosses the line into

      impatience and urgency that we run into trouble. The hellbent,

      goal-driven behavior that succeeds in business is not

      the proper prototype for a holy quest. The spiritual law of

      diminishing returns seems to be: the harder you try to

      speed up, the more you slow yourself down.

      The very notion of being in a hurry calls up a multitude

      of paradoxes. We are told we have eternity to

      awaken to timeless being, and that eternity is now, right

      here. “There is no here, no there,” said the Zen Patriarch

      Seng Ts’an. “Infinity is right before your eyes.” Ah, but

      before our unenlightened eyes, here is clearly not quite

      there, and everything appears infinitely finite. All such conundrums

      resolve in the Oneness that transcends time and

      space, but the transcendent Reality is not really

      beyond

      anything, it is

      in everything. More accurately, it is everything.

      But once again the snake bites its tail, because

      awakening to the timeless Self takes time.

      How much time? No one can say. On the spiritual

      journey there can be no estimated time of arrival, if “arrival”

      is even an appropriate term. What is the distance

      between ignorance and illumination? How long does it

      take to tear down the veils that obscure the light? The

      normal arithmetic of time and distance does not apply.

      Nor do calculations of probability. A doctor can predict

      reasonably well how long it will take for you to heal from

      an injury. A linguist can estimate how long it will take to

      learn a new language. A biologist knows how long it takes

      for a pregnant female to come to term. But no one can

      predict how long it will take to heal the traumas of a lifetime

      or to learn the language of the soul or to give birth

      to a new, enlightened identity. Liberation, the sages tell us,

      can strike at any moment like a lightning bolt. Or it might

      unfold gradually and barely perceptibly, like the dawn.

      Or, it must be said, not at all.

       

      Because of impatience we were driven out of Paradise,

      because of impatience we cannot return.

      —W. H. Auden

       

      In the early days of the TM movement, someone

      asked Maharishi Mahesh Yogi how long it takes to reach

      enlightenment. He said he’s noticed signs of higher consciousness

      among those who’d been meditating for five to

      eight years. Somehow, this vague remark was turned into

      a formula. “Five-to-Eight-Year Program” even appeared

      in TM literature. It was retracted, but not quickly enough

      to spare impressionable meditators from taking it literally,

      as if it were a degree program one could complete in a

      specified time frame by taking a sequence of classes. The

      rush was on. Anything to get there closer to the five-year

      end of the continuum than the eight. It was spiritual

      avarice of the highest sort.

       

      At one point in the 1970s, I fell victim to this racetrack

      mind-set, signing on for a six-month retreat on an

      Alpine mountaintop. It had been presented as a kind of

      Concorde flight to cosmic consciousness, and I could not

      bear the thought of missing it and falling behind my

      fellow travelers. To pay for the course I begged, bor-

      rowed, and . . . well, I didn’t steal, but I have to confess, I

      did do telemarketing. The sojourn was at times achingly

      dull, at others blissful. Sometimes I wanted to take the

      first train to Paris; at other times I wouldn’t have left my

      cushion if the room were on fire. Ultimately, it was among

      the most transformative experiences of my life. But it

      came at a price. I returned home in debt, with no place to

      live, no job, and no car (I’d sold it to pay for the trip). I

      was so stressed out from the difficult adjustment that I

      probably undid many of the gains I’d accumulated on the

      mountain.

       

      Now, when I see some wild-eyed seeker looking for

      an express train to nirvana, I get nervous, because I’ve

      seen such haste make waste in people’s lives: Their marriage

      goes sour and they end up brokenhearted; their

      work suffers and they lose a job; friends get turned off by

      their fanaticism and drop them. Not, on the whole, a way

      to create good karma. Some get so fretful over their spiritual

      pace that they grow heavy with anxiety. Needless to

      say, this is the antithesis of the peace of mind they’re

      aiming for.

       

      When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there

      is only one eye left with which to find the way.

      —Buddhist saying

       

      Yes, there are things we can do to speed our progress.

      But spiritual practices are not like notches on a belt or

      points on a scoreboard. They are not quantitative items

      with a predictable payoff. They are more like the things

      we do to draw love into our lives: We cultivate certain

      qualities, we change traits that get in the way, we put ourselves

      in the right place at the right times. Our job is to

      create conditions that are conducive to Self-realization.

      But, as with falling in love—or falling asleep for that

      matter—if you’re too eager to reach a goal or try too hard

      to achieve it, you’re likely to defeat your purpose. “Uncontrolled,

      the hunger and thirst after God may become

      an obstacle, cutting off the soul from what it desires,”

      wrote Aldous Huxley. “If a man would travel far along

      the mystic road, he must learn to desire God intensely but

      in stillness, passively and yet with all his heart and mind

      and strength.”

       

      Being excessively goal-driven not only slows you

      down, it can also destroy your peace and rob you of happiness

      in the here and now. “In my youthful beginnings on

      this path I was wildly enthusiastic,” one spiritual veteran

      wrote to me. “I rode bright waves of discovery and

      freedom, sure that any day now I would be enlightened.

      Now, after almost 30 years, I feel my heart pressed upon

      and my spacious mind obscured. This concept of how at

      some time in the glorious future I shall be enlightened and

      then

      I can live my real life has been an obstacle to living

      in whatever light I have now.”

       

      It can also suffocate your sense of humor, which is as

      vital an asset for seekers as a good place to sit. The spiritual

      path should be taken seriously, but not solemnly. It is

      a razor’s edge, but it’s also a pie in the face and a slip on

      a banana peel and a good priest-minister-rabbi joke.

      If, as G. K. Chesterton put it, “Angels can fly because

      they take themselves so lightly,” then impatience and excessive

      fervor are lead weights.

       

      Hasten slowly and ye shall soon arrive.

      —Milarepa

       

      Once again we turn to “on the other hand.” The

      danger in taking too literally a maxim such as “The

      journey

      is the destination”—or, for that matter, “Don’t

      hurry, be happy”—is that it can easily lead to negligence.

      I’ve known aspirants whose go-with-the-flow demeanor

      seemed on the surface to be a relaxed, unpressured, and

      cheerful approach to spirituality. In actuality, they were

      spiritual sloths. They paid lip service to metaphysical concepts

      but they had no discipline, no commitment, no sense

      of purpose. Make no mistake, there

      is a forward looking

      aspect to spirituality. If there wasn’t we’d have nothing to

      strive for, nothing to move toward, and as we saw,

      growing into that liberated state takes fortitude and perseverance.

      But it can also be fun.

       

      Why not make it a joyful journey? “Joy is the unmistakable

      evidence of the presence of God,” said Meister

      Eckhart. Take the scenic route, and blast your favorite

      music while you relish the views. There is nothing unspiritual

      about taking pleasure in the delights of the world,

      for “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof”

      (Psalm 24:1). Make time for activities that enchant you.

      Do things that make you giggle, no matter how trivial or

      silly they might seem. They’re not taking time away from

      spiritual things: They

      are spiritual things. Maybe that is

      part of the innocence Jesus referred to when he said we

      have to be like children to enter the kingdom.

       

      I once heard someone ask a guru, “Does it take a long

      time to get enlightened?” The teacher laughed. “Only if

      you’re in a hurry,” he said. It is worth noting, however,

      that the same teacher urges his followers to be diligent

      with their practices, attend weekly gatherings

      , and make

      pilgrimages to his ashram. And there it is: Hurrying is a

      detriment, and so is dawdling; impatience is a hindrance,

      and so is nonchalance. As with any journey, the spiritual

      path is most happily and productively traversed by those

      who can fully enjoy where they are at every moment and

      still move forward purposefully. It requires knowing yourself

      well enough to set an appropriate pace. Perhaps, like

      the bush in which Moses found God, we have to burn

      with desire for the Holy without being consumed by the

      flame.

       

      Persevere. Lighten up.

      Be diligent. Take it easy.

      Get serious. Be happy.

       

      TRAV E L T I P S

      1. Do you have a spiritual goal? Write down exactly what you

      are after.

      2. Do you often feel a sense of urgency to achieve something

      spiritually? Look deeply into the origin and nature of that

      feeling:

      • Is it a deep, abiding, stop-at-nothing longing for the

      Divine?

      • Does it stem from dissatisfaction with your life and a

      wish to be delivered from it?

      • Is it mixed with feelings of spiritual inadequacy?

      • Do you envy people you think are further along?

      • Are you being as gluttonous about spirituality as others

      are about money or sex?

      3. If you’re worried that you’re not advancing quickly enough,

      make a realistic assessment of your attitude. Ask yourself:

      • Am I looking ahead to a goal at the expense of present

      satisfaction?

      • Am I focused on future rewards to avoid facing difficult

      issues now?

      • Am I hoping that a spiritual breakthrough will solve all

      my problems or heal all my pain?

      • Is my commitment to spirituality in danger of becoming

      an obsession?

      • What am I afraid will happen if I were to lighten up?

      • What’s my hurry?

      4. If you think you might have become spiritually lethargic, ask

      yourself:

      • Are there ways I can give myself a booster shot? Should I

      modify my practices; go on retreat; talk to a spiritual

      advisor; attend services more often; change my lifestyle?

      • If there are ways to enhance my spirituality, why am I not

      doing them?

      5. Contemplate this famous Zen story: A young man approaches

      a renowned martial artist and asks to become his disciple.

      “If I work very hard, how many years will it take me to

      become a master?” he asks.

      “Ten years,” replies the teacher.

      “If I work even harder, how long will it take?”

      “Thirty years.”

      “But I am willing to undergo any hardship to master this

      art in the shortest time.”

      “In that case, 70 years.”

       

      Roadsigns On the Spiritual Path, by Philip Goldberg.

      The Amazon.com link to order this book is http://www.amazon.com/Roadsigns-Spiritual-Path-Living-Heart-Paradox/dp/1591810507/ref=sr_1_1/102-5936403-4980917?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186707733&sr=1-1    

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