Nobody gave this to me, I had to earn it
(I wrote this on February 2, 2005)
One thought I explored during lunch today, while walking along the suddenly sun-drenched and muddy Mall, is that a frustrating part of making "progress" along the Western Zen/Daoist spiritual path is realizing how much happier & calmer it has made me, in general, and wanting to somehow give that feeling to others ... when I can't ... nobody gave this to me, I had to earn it.
I've been moving along this path for most of a decade now, and much of that movement has not come easily, and sometimes I miss the illusions I've lost. Paradoxically, the universe seemed a kinder place back then ... happiness has come at a price ... acceptance is not easy ...
For starters, following a spiritual path requires an investment of time. In this case, time spent meditating and time spent reading what my chosen teachers wrote. Although I made some progress in these directions during law school, I've had a lot more time for this stuff since I graduated and took the bar exam. Time I could've spent watching TV or having sex ;-)
Then, as certain illusions dropped away, new illusions took their places. Zen is a practice you never finish, you never reach the resting place, there are always new illusions around the corner. I think, but don't really know, that the new illusions are closer to the real truth, whatever that is, and they seem to make life feel less problematic for me.
Some illusions are very painful to abandon. The seemingly preferable mini-verse our Ego constructs in the place of multi-reality contains many carrots and sticks that entice us and strike us if we walk away. The Ego is a survival mechanism, a product of evolution, validated by the reproductive successes of an unbroken line of ancestors. It has an important purpose. Yet, my Ego does not serve me, it serves itself.
Anyway, I bet many people of many religions wish they could give what they have to others. My youngest brother would gladly take me along his fundamentalist Christian path if I'd follow. He's much happier and calmer since being Born Again, from his point of view.
But the reason we have so many different religions is because we have so many different people. We each have different needs, and there is no One True Path. If my youngest brother followed my path it might not make him happier or calmer, it might cause him great pain and grief.
I have to let people do it themselves, in their own ways. It is not everybody's fate to become a Zen Master ;-)
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