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More Thoughts About the Inner Life

2015-10-24 10:02 AM | Dave

I have advocated the conscious practice of an inner life for many years. How’s that workin’ for you? asks the dude in the street. Well … what can I say? I even ask myself, “What do I get from it?” It doesn’t sound like a pleasant undertaking; more like undergoing psychoanalysis. However, some kind of self-examination should be expected to happen in the spiritual life, I believe.

In pursuing my noble cause in the midst of this planet’s violence and hate-filled conflicts, I am doing all I can to keep the path open to seeking the enlightenment I’ve sought all my life. My updated project lately is to attain a more permanent stage of samadhi, as it’s known in the East, instead of experiencing so many fluctuations, elations and depressions, ups and downs, advances and retreats. I am sad to see how the path to enlightenment has been discredited, come under fire, and become obstructed for the younger generations. They, along with much of the rest of the world, have been swindled out of their spiritual treasure. That gold is worth the effort to recover.

Chappell and I like to sing Stevie’s song, “He’s the only free psychiatrist that’s known throughout the land and you can talk it over with him, he’s always around. When you feel your life’s too hard, just go have a talk with God.” (Stevie Wonder)

During the 70s, when I was a yoga practitioner, I tried to have quiet moments of contemplation after I went through my routine of postures. But I found it hard to keep my brain quiet. I had so many questions. Is there a Supreme Being? Lord, are you there? Is there a soul and a world beyond?

What did I discover? I experienced the presence of an overwhelming mystery. As a fellow meditator once wrote, my “words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup ... they slip away across the universe.” (Across the Universe, John Lennon; note: author Thomas Berry once commented, with a dark humor about the decline of Christianity in Europe, that the traditional faith had been replaced by the wisdom of John Lennon lyrics.)

God was elusive, hard to define. I had matured enough that I’d gotten past thinking of Him as an old man with a beard seated on a throne in the sky, but I was swimming in a pool where I wondered if it was a reflection of my own face. John sang, “pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind.” (Ibid)

I think I was knocking at the door, but not opening it very wide, just peeking in. Now I understand the inner life as an on-going process, a life-long project, with ups and downs in communication. Sometimes after we’ve gotten started, been seriously disappointed, we slam the door on it. Then we come back again, turning the knob as quiet as we can so as not to disturb.

Is there pain in the inner life? Yes. I encountered a lot of places inside where I needed healing. Initially, I was reluctant to invite God into this process because of fears that he’d think me unworthy of his time, doubts that I could actually communicate with the Great Mystery (Ojibwe/Lakota) called God. In spite of all that, I was in too much pain, so I made a lot of starts at fixing the hurt. Slow going at first; I couldn’t tell if I’d accomplished real contact, or achieved any result. Now, looking back, my advice to someone based on my experience would be, don’t be so certain you can consciously know what’s really going on.

“The human individual undergoes this growth; he does not do it.... The individual undergoes this growth as sunshine, air and earth undergo transformation into a scarlet poppy. [Humans] can do more than the poppy. A man can seek out the conditions that are required for this growth …” (Regina Westcott-Weiman with Henry Weiman, and The UB, 100:3.7)

My Unity church pastor sets aside time in their services for guided meditations. These experiences brought me to the realization that inviting the love of God into my heart to heal really worked. The church guides its congregation every week into having an inner life.

After I began reading The Urantia Book in 1978, I shouted “huzzah” to find a book that harmonized science with religion and philosophy, but eventually its encouragement to share the inner life with God is what impressed me the most (The UB, 111:5.1). I began building on old attempts from my yoga days, more convinced that results could be achieved. My effort became more concentrated. Things began to happen spontaneously. I embarked on a more definite direction in the pursuit of goals, finished my education, got a better-paying job, went for a master’s degree. My wife and I started a family.

I discovered the validity of those ideas of growth and progress that are constantly reiterated in The UB. I finally shed the old scientific bias, a “truth” I once held, that we live in a random universe. Yes, in retrospect I learned to have more faith in progress, accepted it was inherent to the universe. As The UB teaches, “Can you not advance in your concept of God’s dealing with man to that level where you recognize that the watchword of the universe is progress?” (4:1.2)

The unconscious discoveries in the early years of my inner life project led to so many achievements. How do I currently describe what I gain from practicing it? The answer has evolved over the years: clarity, taking responsibility for what I chose to do in life, for my own decisions. I don’t put the results of my “career” in that box of what others did to me. No more blame games. I wonder why I ever put my trust in the effectiveness of those.

Truly I find that changing your behaviors, the outer life manifestations of an inner life search, continues to be the most difficult part. Such outer life work, service, must accompany and complete what we’ve learned through our spiritual insights. Here is where we need the most patience and compassion with ourselves. Do acts of self-forgiveness. Allow the inner life to work its way up to the surface, manifest in our lives where actions and decisions are made, where we show forth the fruits of our labors. I think we’ll continually be surprised by what happens.

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