I suppose everyone has his or her own encouragement, his or her own skeleton key when it comes to spiritual endeavor. I've always liked, "Pay attention and take responsibility."
But another one that crossed my mind tonight may be a seemingly bitter pill. It's very simple, but requires what is sometimes some complex work. That key is this: "There is no escape."
No escape -- ever.
No escape -- anywhere.
The horrors of this life can be truly horrible. And what may seem as clear and clean as a springtime brook swollen with pure, icy runoff from the mountains above becomes muddy and toxic in its ranging effects.
There is no escape. Life can be horrific and it can put corruption in a very bright light. "Life sucks," the teenager wails. And yes. Sometimes life sucks and the air is filled with lies. But there is no escape, any more than their is any escape from holy and blissful moments.
But in Hindu Vedanta, there is the metaphor of the mythical swan that floats serenely on a lake. And the swan has the capacity to extract a single drop of milk from a vast body of water.
When there is no escape, where the skies rain down bullshit and horror and bliss ... this is our ground, our very home.
And our effort is none other than to sip the milk.