Choosing to be in awe

We are, all of us, Spirit dancing.

What a beautiful world... and what a horror.

Though this may raise our neck hairs, our take on the world is our choice.

What a wonderful lesson that was... and what a failure.

Take a breath and consider for a moment how you've grown following every loss. This is our hero's journey.

Our perspective on those crises (and everything else) shapes our perception.

What a gift, then, that our meandering, precious journeys - sometimes explored gracefully, often with the dexterity of an anvil - give us ample opportunity in every moment to gauge the perspective that frees us from woe.

Like, whoa.

In the second chapter of the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali echoes the Buddha in describing the truth of misery: it exists; it has a cause; relief is possible; and here's how.

We learn to see clearly.

So simple!

Except we have to actually take the steps to learn to see... clearly. And then we have to practice them so we keep seeing... clearly. And it can be a challenging practice because life tends to dirty up our windshields. Or it shows us things we really don't want to see. Or it tempts us with something so darn beautiful that we can't look away to see anything else.

In other words, it's hard to see clearly. Life seems to be specifically engineered to keep us a bit muddy.

In my last blog entry, I shared a bit about the fertile ground that grows suffering. In this post, I share how we may clear our vision of the dirt kicked up by all that growth.

Our unskillful way of seeing things confuses the permanent for the impermanent, a material nature for our true nature, pain for pleasure. In other words, we think our blurry, mud-streaked perspective is real. In the grip of our delusion, we chase after the mud thinking it's meant to be experienced, conquered, owned, dissected, collected, or exploited. We fervently hunt to gather all that mud and believe that our success will bring us happiness.

Funny, though, how more mud makes us muddier.

If we're paying attention, we realize that our participation in this chase doesn't include much clarity. Indeed, mostly, we're pretty bummed about it. Our muddy view makes us into great grumblers. If we get what we want, we're bummed the hunt is over. We grumble. If we don't get what we want, we feel like terrible hunters. We grumble. Maybe we're the best hunters ever but still we lose something else. Ugh.

No matter what, the hunt for happiness in the muddy, material world will never keep us happy. Our engagement with the material world, however, does serve a purpose. Let's see what it has for us.

In our world, isn't it the case that everything changes? Seasons come and go. Trees grow. Bodies age. Clouds shift. Our happiness based on any changing condition is sure to change as well.

The nature of the material world is change. Whatever we bag in the hunt also changes. We change too. Truly, nothing in this creation lasts.

What if we simply learn to appreciate it? This beautiful world is our garden. To gently use the bible story, it has all the fruit to guide us to wisdom. We just have to learn not to eat it all.

Instead, we witness it.

We observe rocks and realize their endurance through slow dissolution. We watch the night sky and know the light of every star winked its twinkle many millennia ago. We may even realize how every flower is a child of sun and earth, how it savors the rain and folds, eventually, to the drying wind. Instead of lamenting the flower, we realize it reveals our shared fate. We are children of the sun and earth. We eventually perish and return to dust. We share this journey with all of nature.

We need not lament.

We share with all living creatures a continuation of spiritual wisdom. The rocks share stories of stability. The light cuts through eons of darkness. The flower's essence carries on in the hard work of bees and the soil that welcomed her decaying form. An imperishable, unseen essence creates and dismantles everything that is created. That essence is also creating and dismantling us.

We are that essence.

When we look to nature, we find hints that suggest our own persistence. We are friends whose love nourishes another friend. We are teachers whose wisdom supports another teacher. We are collaborators whose ideas inspire and inspire and inspire. When we go, we remain in the nourishment and support. We return as inspiration. We are constantly alive with that imperishable essence.

To understand this, we have to be willing to sit quietly and witness. Our steady consciousness shows us how essence and nature conspire. These conspirators perform Spirit's dance. Spirit gives its essence to creation. Spirit gives its essence to us. We are, all of us, beautifully diverse works of divine art. Every rock, lizard, hummingbird, flower, and every human being, is alive with Spirit's gift. We are, all of us, Spirit dancing.

This is what we see when the mud is washed away.

Usually, that cleansing comes with ample tears. It's okay. Cry. Know how important those tears are to your task of seeing clearly.

We find our way to witnessing by suffering so much that we have to pause. We're so exhausted of the hunt that we sit and watch it. The very cause of our suffering, and the despair, pain, frustration, guilt, grief that brings on the storm of tears, becomes our means to seeing more clearly.

So let us take the time together, here and there, in our times of trouble and difficulty, to rest. Maybe to cry a little. And then watch the hummingbirds darting around the honeysuckle. Savor the melting sun as it sets. Watch a father playing with his child. See a grandmother helping. Be in awe and learn about the spiritual conspiracy inviting you home.

Choose to be in awe every day.

And if you forget, that's okay. Be in awe of how we are clumsy, how we fall, cry, stand, heal, forgive, learn and try again.

(Happy Birthday, Larry! Thank you for the love and tears.)

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