Thursday, February 14, 2008

Change is the only constant

I've been thinking a lot about why I've found it hard to continue this series of reflections, or meditations, or chatty moments of self-indulgence, or whatever they may be. I finally had to admit to myself that one reason is that I've had no indication of having any readers, and I've allowed that to discourage me. It feels like walking into a seminar to deliver a message and there are no students.

And of course there are no students. For one thing, this isn't a seminar, no one has subscribed to it, and I have no reason to expect even a single reader. For another, I am no teacher. Quite the opposite. I've believed for many years now that we have one and only one teacher: the voice of knowledge and wisdom that emerges from within. We may hear it reflected in the voices of others, but we only hear it when we find ourselves ready to hear it, and the process of readying ourselves for important realizations is not something that can be done to us or for us by others. It takes work, internal work, thinking, reflecting, reasoning, absorbing what we can of understanding from as many sources as possible. You and only you can do that for yourself, and you must be motivated to do that work, because it's not always easy.

It begins to dawn on me that these blogs are my tool for processing my lessons. They are truly "reflections" in the sense that writing them gives me an opportunity to observe what I have begun to learn in a more structured way, in a way that my mind, especially my rational mind, can begin to make sense of. In an important sense, these reflections are created for one and possibly only one reader: me.

There are, of course, many others who can similarly read and absorb and understand and even benefit from these reflections. And truly I hope that happens. But when I am able to sufficiently quiet my ego to see it, I see that I write these words for myself.

I hope I also write for you, and I hope you also find value in these attempts to think ourselves out of the monkey trap. But I will no longer let that be my motive.

About the title of this blog:

Yes, it's a truism. All too familiar and obvious on the surface. I, for one, tend to think things like that very briefly and then dismiss them, unwilling to make the effort to think deeper, to appreciate the value being offered by little gems like that.

So this blog isn't about Change, or not just about change, though at this moment many changes are going on in my life and in the world. What I'm curious about at the moment is this: how it is that when we are presented with observations which have the potential to help us to integrate and to grow, we so often ignore them or, like a flat stone over a lake, our thoughts merely skip lightly over the surface of ideas and miss their potential entirely.

For one thing, it's quite tiring to think seriously about things, isn't it. (Another reason this series isn't for most readers, right? It's just terribly terribly serious, isn't it - quite an exhausting prospect to think about being insane and how or whether to want to change that. I don't blame you a bit). So we don't, normally. Or only when we're in distress and we need something - anything - that might help us find solutions to problems. Then we might make the effort to learn something new, entertain thoughts that might open doors for us, make our lives easier.

It's the monkey response. (Here he goes again with the monkey thing - when's he going to get over that?). Have you watched monkeys on TV or in the zoo? They're lazy. Incredibly, irresistibly indolent creatures. And I don't blame them for that. What's being industrious and hard working gotten us? Industry. Commerce. Merchandise. And the need to market that merchandise. It's made us consumers first, and humans second, or worse.

Still, monkeys equals lazy. And thinking beyond the simple and the obvious takes work. Growing mentally and spiritually takes work (and the opposite of work - the lessons of zen - but that's another blog). So is there any good reason for you to worry about learning and growing and evolving and emerging as more fully human? I know, phrasing it like that, the question contains its own answer, but it is a valid question. Why deal with the pain and effort and time and frustrations involved in being more than you are, more than you have been?

One answer: joy. Even something much greater than joy, something hard to name because we have little experience with it. Something much deeper and more lasting and more satisfying than happiness even. Feelings of deep knowledge, deep understanding, and deep connectedness. My ability to express it fails; it's what Tollard is trying to express when he says being fully in this moment, in the NOW, produces a lasting sense of ecstatic awareness.

Just the possibility of such existence I find motivating, at least some of the time. Those times when I have enough energy, enough elan, to even think about it.

The rest of the time? Well, I'm a monkey too, aren't I.