Wednesday, May 18, 2011

our betters

The yearning of spiritual endeavor is sometimes expressed in the devotion and sometimes awe with which students view their "betters." The men, the women, the temples, the texts ... the seemingly endless examples of the setting and solution anyone might long to achieve. As children grow up, they too galumph around in the shoes that currently fit only their mothers and fathers.

But with practice, there seems to be an almost imperceptible shift as regards to our "betters." Yes, we are grateful to the friends and enemies who supply pointers in spiritual life. But a bit at a time, it is our very own willingness and determination that put meat on the spiritual bone. Some recognition rises up that we cannot rely on those wondrous figures. It is our own two arms, two legs, emotion and intellect ... how could spiritual endeavor feel blood in its veins without our own, sometimes floundering, efforts?

There is no leaping over a sense of bright lights and enticing heights. These are the lights and heights that inspire us and beckon us forward. Some never outgrow the soothing sense of our "betters." But perhaps it is like turning the ignition key in a car -- once the motor is running, there is nothing left to do but drive. What could be "better" than that?

1 comment:

  1. This morning I realised for the fist time why you're always harping on just "investigating" things. If I hadn't been so gung-ho and zealous about Zen and authenticity and the Roshi, I would never have been able to realise that they, too, are essentially empty. It's not that they're wrong, but you have to keep at them in order for them to truly serve their purpose and be "exhausted".

    Unfortunately, like you say, not everyone gets to that point. But that's presumably because certain of our so-called "betters" evidently actually consider themselves to be such.