Sunday, May 19, 2013

An Inner Resident


Completing yet another trip to China, I find myself wrapping up yet another long period of contemplation, which is what always seems to emerge when I spend several weeks in a foreign environment with a good deal of time to myself.

Coming to it at this moment, I'm struck by how little I know about myself. I, like everyone else, tend to project myself confidently, as though I knew who I was or what I was talking about. I find it surprising that people consider me intelligent, even professorial. I am acutely aware of my own limitations and spend a great deal of every day examining my inner processes, which appear to me to bear little relationship to how others perceive me from the outside.

Perhaps one difference between me and others I know is that I don't believe in what I am doing. Every instance of action becomes an occasion for questions; the things that I say with confidence are not my own, they don't belong to me, but were all given through revelation. So there isn't anything there that is mine, even though people ascribe these things to me.

The only purpose that we have on this planet is to serve others, and yet an enormous amount of the way each one of us lives turns out to be a life in which we want to serve ourselves first, and others second. Any reasonably incisive degree of self remembering or self observation will quickly reveal how many tens of thousands of instantaneous turns of thought go in that direction. If we want to see anything about ourselves, it would be most useful to see our selfishness; and yet we don't.

A person needs to find a quiet place in themselves in which they can sit down at all times and see what is going on. Everything still has to go on; but one must also be sitting down inside themselves and asking questions. One can't stop things from going on, or try to alter the circumstances, because if one does so, one interferes with the behaviors one is attempting to learn about; so one must, in a sense, violate the basic principles of inner decency in order to understand why there is a violation in the first place. Patching it over won't help.

I think we are all put here to develop this quiet place inside ourselves, from which we can see what we are. The noise and distraction of life very nearly prevents this from happening in human beings; only an intentional engagement, the undertaking of a life with a meditative practice, can begin to form this quiet place. Even then, it is constantly disturbed; because we interfere with everything, the moment there is a quiet place, well, we want to interfere with that. Nothing can be left well enough alone, even though this particular place ought not to be touched. The resident should sit down in it very quietly and be left alone to do the work that needs to be done.

If there is any sense of the sacred, any sense at all that there is something more precious in life than the battering of each other for wealth, sex, fame, and glory, it needs to have this quiet place which isn't interfered with. The development of the soul needs to be an untouchable action, off limits to our ordinary being.

May your soul be filled with light.

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