Yesterday I ran in a small half marathon road race. It was the first race this year that I have actually tried to race. I only decided to go in it on Thursday because my legs were feeling good and I wanted to do something different than my usual ultra training.
I ran very well: right at 2 hours. And second in my age group. I have a cool t-shirt and a nice medal. But really, I expended a ton of energy running at that speed. It cost me a pound or two. That disturbs me a bit as I don't really have it to lose.
This morning, I slept in, even though it meant doing any running in 90F heat with humidity. Then I had a leisurely coffee, breakfast and spiritual study.
During my sleeping in, I had my first dream I can remember that involved alcohol. That is, I was stuck in some place with some people I think were sisters. We decided to buy alot of alcohol and drink it because we were stuck in that place with nothing to do so it wouldn't matter if we got drunk. But, just before going out to buy anything, I said, "Wait. I can't. I'm an alcoholic." And this is true. But in the dream, alcohol was a symbol of alot of things of society which I refuse to do, but which is acceptable to others. I simply will-not-go-along-period.
I've just finished a new book by Meg Funk, something about depths. She is the Benedictine sister from Beechgrove Indiana who was responsible for getting me kicked out of my monastery. This book was in 3 parts: her live before Bolivia, her almost drowning in a river in Bolivia and her life after Bolivia where she tries to make sense of the spirituality from the drowning experience.
Suddenly this morning, I had a new take on my own monastic experience. I was born spiritually when I was 22 on a street in the city of Old Jerusalem. Then there was a long period of growth. Then there was my 4 year monastic experience; which I now see as losing my life. I mean ego deflation at depth and culminating in the ego's worst nightmare: loss of validation in all areas of my life.
As I came out of the monastery I had a choice: go be a normal secular person or continue on the spiritual path. I chose the later; but I did not know at the time what it's primary difficulty would be: continued denial of the ego. See, it is a solitary path without a physical teacher and no validation from any person or institution. It is totally an attempt to listen to my inner being and well, just be. Its been almost 8 years since I left the monastery and only now do I have a handle on the fact that My Soul alone rules in my life.
The vagueness of purpose totally bugs my ego; which is probably why I get confused at work and seek promotions. Also, being an athlete doesn't seem like a very important spiritual activity or life purpose. Even my own salvation, spiritual growth or purification seems a waste because there is no reward on the earthly plane.
The solitude in which I live is so easily criticized by my ego. A life of prayer and peace is not exciting or worthwhile for an ego. Given these complaints however, I don't take up a new activity. I merely sit in silence some more.
I face a blank wall, or a path into fog and darkness, or a corner I can't see around, or a door not opened.
Almost all my teaching says that to seek God alone is futile, egoistic or wrong. There is an occasional spiritual master who has a different story; but still, it is hazardous to live a self directed spiritual life. but yet here I am. I have searched many groups. I can fake belonging on a physical level but it is never genuine. God is here in my heart and I return again to the silence to commune.
I need to move forward. This involves continuing down the unknown purposeless path.
Today I did go out into the heat. I had no goal but to seek self transcendence in the act of walking out the door. I had a load of water and some protein bites. 4 hours and 42 minutes later, I had jog/walked 17.3 miles on the hills. I wore my desert hat and it totally helps to keep the sun off your neck. Even if I hadn't run a race yesterday, I don't think I could have gone faster today. the faster you go, the higher your core temperature. I would have had to have access to ice water, frequently, to go any faster. At the slow speed, there was a heat balance.