Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Knowing one's place
Where I am appears to be quite definite, from a physical point of view; for example, right now, I'm in China on a business trip. The places I find myself — inside a subway, at an office, walking through a factory — are all quite definite, and the circumstances and conditions seem understandable. I'm training employees; I'm negotiating on financial matters.
Yet I see that I created an imaginary vision of myself on this trip before I came over here — a fairly decent one, probably, because I have done this many times and knew where I was coming. I held it in front of me like a talisman as I moved in time towards the events, yet now, the events are taking place, and of course the relationships that arise — the actual events — are quite different than what my imagination projected, even though I did a fairly good job of creating the stage they would take place on.
On top of that, in any business environment, one finds oneself in difficult situations, and one has to see how one is, and how the other people are. These are always unusual, unexpected, and it demands a great deal of personal energy to be present to them in a respectful way. At a certain point of work in life, it just won't do to let things happen the way they usually do, where one just goes any which way. The demand is to stay in front of the organic sense of Being, and see as precisely as possible that one is where one is, that one is experiencing what is taking place. This is part of the respect for the situation — the greater part of it, as it turns out — and nothing can be quite so deflating as to sit within a moment and see the humility of being who one is in an intimate way.
This is some real work. No wonder the ego goes to such extraordinary lengths to avoid it.
Nearly over my jet lag, which is an onerous condition in and of itself, I see that I don't actually know where I am at all. The stage is somewhat familiar, and my arrangements of who people are and what ought to happen to have some apparent logic to them (they had better, or I'll be out of a job), but everything that arises is actually bewildering and in a certain sense completely unexpected. It's about as reliable as being out on a boat in a harbor with fickle winds, where the wind comes from first this direction, then that one, relentlessly, and one has to tack back and forth with every new gust in order to keep going in any consistent direction. My prior fantasies about the way things will be and how they will work out, when I look at that from here, turn out to have had very little value as a compass. Not only that, they are depressing. My ego was clearly involved in a large part of their formation. And, it turns out, it does— from my own inner point of view, at least — an exceptionally bad job of knowing how things will be, who I actually am, or who other people are.
Inner work gives life a meaning, but the meaning isn't defined by the conceptual forms that I invent to frame it. The meaning arises from the process, independent of conceptual form. So I don't know where I am; in a certain sense, from the point of view of everything I think I know, I am always lost. The analogy of a shepherd with lost sheep easily comes to mind, with the concomitant understanding that only a return to the real Self, to a Being in touch with Christ, could possibly constitute anything approaching being found. It's only in the inflow of a higher energy that one finds oneself; and although one may have a connection to this at any time, undercurrents are one thing, a strong presence is another.
One can't call the rain just because one knows that from time to time it rains.
So I am lost, and quite literally, very practically, at the mercy of the Lord.
May your soul be filled with light.