Brian’s Reflection: Monday, December 5, 2011
You have to pick the places
you don't walk away from.
Joan Didion, author, crone. She was born
on this date, 1935, at Sacramento, CA
I “fell in love” with Joan Didion as a writer when I first read “Slouching Towards Jerusalem”, which I read by candlelight at the home of a friend I was visiting on the Cape one warm and long-ago-and-young summer. I haven’t found her latest writing as engaging, but I deeply respect her for her honesty and for her incisiveness and for her surgical way of expression.
I think Ms. Didion is right about picking the places we don’t walk away from. This is one of the critically important skills for achieving an authentic Life. Every human being needs to be taught how to make the ethical, spiritual, and emotional choices which lead to development as a fully-realized human being. The problem is, this requires courageous choice ….. and courageous choice demands courageous teaching. And that we do not have in America, or in many parts of the World. Most of the Americans and most of the other people I have met in my travels are woefully educated ….. and the major reason is Religion. I find Religion (there are some exceptions) to be essentially adverse to shaping persons who are equipped to engage the deepest questions of Life.
In Jesus, for example, I see a man who learned how to make these choices. Did he learn them from his contemporary religious tradition? No. He opposed that tradition on many fundamental levels. He learned them by tapping into the “God Within”, and listening to the voice of the Spirit of God. That Spirit lives in each of us, waiting to be heard ….. and Her voice is one with the innate character of being authentically human.
Most Religions today protect their power, their particular “rightness”. That is a rejection of their nature, I believe. ALL religions exist in order to show us, together, “the places you don’t walk away from”. For a start, read and ponder Eknath Easwaran’s book “”God Makes the Rivers To Flow”. There you will read the wisdom of all the great spiritual traditions.
Today I’m making a List of those things I can’t walk away from if, as I wish, I want to be my Highest Self. I’m grateful for the teachers. I want to love as the Christ. I want to be free of delusion as the Buddha. I want to dwell in the Holy as the Torah teaches. I want to honour the oneness of the Deity as the Prophet teaches. I want to be one with “God” as all the great mystics taught by their lives. I want to be Peace, as the Dalai Llama practices. I want to hug away pain, as Amma does.
There are, I believe, “places” on the path to being human from which we don’t walk away.
May we have the teaching and the courage to pick them.