Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Life God's Life - The Contemplative Struggle

What do you care about? Anything important?

God is my life. I have no life but God’s. There is no "my life," only God.

Actually, if you think about it, there is no life anywhere that is not God’s.

In the evening, I like to shut my eyes and turn my mind to light and just lay there with it.
To run races or not? Ultra Monk sits still and listens. I listen to my ego's side and my soul's side. There is conflict and tension as I am no longer an unconscious primitive thinker just automatically participating in ordinary life.

Out running this morning, I had to admit that going in races no longer feeds my soul. In addition, while I remember the glory days when racing fed my ego, it doesn't do that very much any more either. I remember the good old days, but know I can't go back to them. Racing is like an old friend. We were tight once, but now our paths have diverged. We don't have that much in common, so we get together less.

When I went to the monastery, more than ten years ago, I was choosing contemplation as the thing I wanted out of life. One of the purposes of monasteries is to provide a living environment away from distractions where people can pursue contemplation without the scrutiny of the world. Since I don't live in a monastery, I have to create the contemplative space myself and be responsible for making the choices which maintain its integrity. Going to a race is counter-productive to contemplation.

Contemplation is still the thing I want out of life. Maintaining a contemplative life is difficult. I worry that people see it as stupid, boring and glum. I want to defend it with attractive stories about blissful union with God. But any monastic knows that contemplatives fight emotional battles, what used to be known as demons in the desert. Paying attention to God requires time, and it is not some wonderful rewarding activity. The purpose of contemplation is not selfish. Its purpose is merely the answering of a call to attend something other than ordinary life.

A satisfied soul is quiet. A satisfied soul is no different than the runner who asks nothing from the running.

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