Friday, October 25, 2013

Doing the hard thing

Storage jar, Ostia Antica
Photograph by the author
We should not play to our strengths.

To do so is to ignore our weak parts, which is where all our troubles begin in the first place. Our strong parts don’t need to be made stronger; our weak parts need to become stronger. Yet habit in life encourages us to exercise our strong parts constantly, because it feels good and gives us a steady impression of success, which is ego’s favorite food.

Inner work is not about doing the easy or the obvious thing; it is about doing the hard thing. What is appealing, familiar, or even logical  is already dangerous. We ought to be going off the path at once into the thickets; only there can we find anything new. What lies there in us is overgrown, and invisible without going to any effort. The moment we do not under any circumstances want to confront ought to be the one we go straight towards. We’ll fear it; and that is a good thing, because if we refuse to put ourselves in situations we fear and then go against the fear, well, that is real cowardice. Inner cowardice; and think about how often we are like this, if you will. 

If one is not deeply troubled by one’s nature, one’s attitudes, one’s manifestations, as they take place, one isn't working. One is merely feeling good. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people describe how some amazing thing happened in them, something that made them feel new and wonderful, and how they were “really working” then. 

Those moments are NOT the moments where one is working; one is really working when one is having an absolutely horrible time of it all, and sitting there right in the middle of it, seeing how one is. Of course, this doesn’t conform in the least to today’s “standardized feel-good model” of inner work; but it has the merit of looking the question straight in the eye, instead of pretending that inner work is merely about basking in some minor fragment of the Presence of God. 

We have to say the difficult things and confront the struggle, not arrange events and exchanges around inner and outer ease. 

Go have a real argument and be there for it; then see how you are afterwards, you and the other one. 

This is a real test of equilibrium.

May your soul be filled with light.

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