Going Beyond Sobriety
I didn't give up without a fight.
I probably haven't given up at all really. I've spent years, collectively...decades "working" on spiritual development. Or whatever the appropriate verb is. I've varied the verb as well...acceptance, work, flow, energy, ritual, worship, and on it goes. Reading and testing and trying, and then NOT trying. And making what felt like progress.
But in the end it always comes back round to the same place. But perhaps each time I am a bit different, but I won't say wiser, and clearly not more hopeful.
It's like being a child and learning to walk and tripping on a crack in the street, then growing and wearing roller skates and always tripping over that same crack in the street, then learning to ride a bike and again losing control when you hit that crack, then in a car, the same crack causes the wheels to slip. It's always that same thing that we trip up on, and suddenly we wonder if it's all been a dream, this life, because how could we still be hung up on that same crack, HOW?
Spiritual practice is not pointless, positive activity, it was better to have been engaged in it that to not have been engaged. It was/is, a lovely meal, but it lasts no longer than a lovely meal. It is quickly digested, the waste is flushed away within 24 hours. Then it is a memory and little more.
This is not an indictment, most things don't last. A fine physique must be worked on daily or it soon fades, everything requires upkeep, there are very few things in life that allow us to rest on our laurels.
We are always in transition but never truly arrive. Which is just as well, because the few times that happens is often followed by 'is this what I was looking forward to?"
That's not to say I am disappointed by life, Indeed I am much more often pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed, but I tend to not think too far ahead, to get my hopes and sights set on an distant goal. I tend not to work on a thing for a very long time and then feel let down.
Even my art, some of it takes a long time to complete, but I never have a set idea of what it is going to be, needs to be, and so when I get there it's stiff fresh and delightful.
I think with the spiritual thing, I thought there was a goal, a destination, a particular effect that would signal that THIS was what I had been working towards. It's not like that, and that fact kept me facing in the wrong direction for a long time.
Today I learned the story of a man who had a conversion when he was 30, turned his life away, stopped abusing substances and became a religious teacher who brought many into the faith, and helped increase the faith of many who were IN the faith.
Then he fell from grace, or was deposed of grace. An accusation, and things snowballed and he was cast out and people (it is said) left the faith in anger because of it.
I saw a short video he made as a response to the painful scandal and his being cast out. He said that he was innocent of the charges, and that Jesus said by their fruits you will know them, and that he had done much good. That if one looks at the whole of a life, then by their fruits you will know them.
And perhaps that is true of spirituality as well...it comes and goes, and is one minute a hero, and the next a fraud, and it makes promises it can't keep and sometimes doesn't hold up to scrutiny, but overall, when one looks at the whole of a life...did the spiritual practice bear fruit? And was the fruit mostly good, or mostly bad?
In my faith we recognize good/bad as human concepts, so in the end, did the spirituality do more good for me and my fellow man, or more bad? And what were the fruits for me?
More good so far, but I have to reconfigure my relationship with it, my expectations. I was way off base.
I am glad to hear that many retained their faith, even after the scandal caused that teacher to be cast out, because bad does not cancel out good, nor vice versa. Even if he was culpable, it does not make his teaching untrue. Even my divorce did not make my marriage a mistake, etc etc.
It's ok to let things be as they are.
I had thought as a child, that I would work at spirituality, and did, fervently, deeply, with honesty and the best intentions. I was so disappointed when it didn't work out. I don't really know what I thought it would accomplish for me. But I do know it didn't keep the promises others had made on it's behalf.