Our journey to the deeper landscape of spirituality seems to be taking form as we find the individual path that is most appealing to us. All paths involve a practice or series of practices that serve the purpose of altering our familiar ways of understanding the world. We have come to know the world through a lens of linear, analytical thinking which serves the material world quite well. However that skill is not very useful in gaining an understanding of spiritual matters.
In actuality, we do not choose a path; our practice re-shapes the contours of the path we are on. It is the wisdom of our hearts that helps us navigate the direction to that sacred inner landscape. Whatever the practice is, whether we do it with others or by ourselves, we find we must engage in it. This stepping stone is quite large and it beckons us to remain upon it for a very long while. If we take the time to dwell in the insights that emerge from practice, our minds will slowly adjust the lens by which we view the world.
Many people feel guilty or frustrated that they don’t have a “regular” practice or if they “let it go for awhile.” They feel they haven’t quite lived up to their spiritual intentions. They get upset with themselves. But that is not the way of spirit. That shining stepping stone is calling to us, making us think about it and wanting to be there, simply doing practice. There is no time to waste and yet there is all the time in the world. That practice isn’t going anywhere at all. It is sitting there waiting for us.
Practice teaches us in an exceptional way, things are not at all what they seem to be. In Zen there is a saying: “Even in not-doing, there is doing…” So non-practice can become practice. If we are thinking about practice, then practice is on our minds –so it cannot be said to be a bad thing. Practice or non-practice, we are learning to see both material and spiritual worlds differently.
Zen also asks: “who is calling?” When we are disturbed that we have not practiced as much as we wished to, just what is it that is actually disturbing us? It is practice calling to us. If we are disturbed, the deeper wisdom part of our mind is saying quietly: “now shift that mood….” As we wake up to the realization that our non-practice only makes us long to practice, we are drawn further into that sacred landscape. We begin to understand that spirituality is the energy that binds all perceptions of reality into one reality. Material worlds have sacred domains and sacred landscapes have material reality. When we move beyond this shining stepping stone, we are not leaving anything behind. Our practice comes with us wherever we go.
This, is the Spiritual Element of Practice