'Clematis - 2'
Saying: When, in our spiritual practice and, so, life, we cease pursuing happiness - which is pleasure -, we find enjoyment we could never find in happiness. This discovery is a significant breakthrough - enjoyment outside the opposites of pleasure and displeasure.
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A follower had been in a season of dryness in her prayers and meditations. After feeling something must be wrong with herself for this aridity, she asked the Sage, "What am I to do?" Said the Sage, "Nothing. That, too, is the Way."
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There is no ideal spiritual state. The Way is not a state of feeling. We do not rely on pleasure and equate that with success. When we, for example, have a time in silent prayerfulness with no attending pleasure, we do not say, "Oh, something must be wrong?" or "That was not a good meditation." We learn this in our times in silence, so we can apply that same wisdom outside our set-aside times for spiritual practice.
Fidelity to the Way is a success, regardless of what one feels. Transient conditions arise in the body of displeasure or pleasure. To meditate, for example, is to see this. The beyond-every-state sense in Grace is not one of displeasure or pleasure.
One comes to appreciate a sense one cannot call pleasurable or not-pleasurable, for it is beyond feelings; hence, the non-state can include all feelings. Yet, no feeling can include the non-feeling. This non-state is like the sky unaltered by the changing weather conditions arising and dissipating within it. The sky remains the sky.
I am not saying pleasure is not to be welcomed and enjoyed. Pleasure is healthy for the body-and-spirit. Yet, depending on feelings, we pursue the surface feeling-state we see as pleasing. Our spiritual practice and life will be captivated by this futility, with its endless effort to attain and sustain the unsustainable. We will be refusing to release our vain clamoring to get and hold to a particular emotion, which we mistake as spiritual, religious, holy, liberation, or enlightenment. This chase must end, or we will never get out of our way to enjoy the Way flowing through all fleeting thoughts and emotions.
These transient states can be quieted within the non-state, which sustains itself by itself. So, we welcome the non-state of joy marked by contentment, for it is content with itself - not looking outside itself for some particular state of being. Life itself is conditionless.
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*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2021
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book is a collection of poems based on wisdom traditions, predominantly Christian, Buddhist, and Sufi, with extensive notes on the poetry's teachings and imagery.