Some say “love” is the greatest word they know. Others say “God” is. I’ve also had favorite words over the years, but ‘why’ beats them all. So I ask myself, why continue posting these observations? It’s certainly not for money. Is it for fame? I actually prefer anonymity. In fact, years ago when my yoga students showed hints of ‘guru worship’, I went out of my way to discourage that. Do I just need to vent? Well, there was some of that urge early on, but I’ve pretty much said all I really need to say. So why continue?
One reason is the art and challenge of it. My most intriguing observations pop into my mind during headstand, while soaking in the bath, and in dreams during the night. I suppose that’s the art of it. Writing them well enough to resonate with someone else is the challenge. I don’t suppose this is any different from playwrights, for instance, who dream up scenarios and writes plays. Posting my observations is like putting on a play… way, way, way off Broadway, of course. Okay, that makes sense, but only so long as it makes sense. Indeed, ‘why’ must be the deepest existentialist question of all. One I’m still asking myself and always will.
I was searching for a question mark-like graphic to go with this post. I recalled the graphic I made for my first serious attempt at writing in 1976 (see A Practical Way to Eternity) and used it. My wife says the poems in the essay are her favorite part. At least they help lighten it up and make it more digestible.
As I look it over now, I see one reason I write is that I am working life out on paper, so to speak. I think of this as mostly ‘reinventing the wheel’ because what I discover is actually merely rediscovering what others have discovered throughout time. To me, that says the path to truth is universal and awaits anyone needing to make the journey — the endless journey I suspect.
It is interesting to see how much my thoughts have changed, yet not in some fundamental ways. Toward the end, I started placing a (x) when I really wished to disavow the ‘dumb’ idea I had back then, with an eye to updating it. Then I realized, what has changed over the 40 years is not anywhere near as important as what has remained more of less constant. Therefore, I have left it as is, except for attempting to correct spelling.
The major change really is my flip-flop away from an advocacy of free will, and towards “mystery sameness”. Still, if you are into free will, you may find the essay speaks to you, but again, keep in mind that it comes from where I was at nearly 40 years ago when I thought “A Practical Way” was just a matter of free choice.
Curiously, my son Luke said my writing back then, or at least earlier, was better than now. I can’t really believe that is so as I’ve worked so hard over the last two decades to write as well as possible. Then it occurred to me that when you can really understand clearly and easily what a writer is saying, that writing would feel like it was written well, and vice versa. The “A Practical Way…” is easy to understand, very straightforward and written with a righteous flavor and style similar to the Bhagavad Gita of which I red daily back then.
Below is this essay’s introduction to which gives the flavor of my thinking back then. If you are interested to read more, download the whole essay, “A Practical Way to Eternity“.
* * * * * A Practical Way to Eternity * * * * *
I wrote some poems to give delight
While reading about my spiritual plight
You’ll probably see I’m too uptight
Well, here is the Way I make it all right
I fought and thought and wound my mind too tight
Broke the mainspring and saw the light
I wrote this essay so all of you might
Also decide it’s better to put up a fight!
Most of us humans spend our whole lives finding fault with the “condition” of the world, marriage, government, job, life, and so on. We expect everyone to do the right thing and become annoyed when they don’t i.e. Nixon as president, communist repression, wife’s overspending, children’s misbehavior, worker incompetence, capitalist spoiling the environment, permissive society or too restrictive one, and so on. We insist on everyone doing their “best”.
However, when it comes to taking care of, improving, nourishing our own body and mind, of ridding ourselves of the imperfections in our own personality and life, then we all of a sudden become very tolerant of faults and laziness.
How can we ever honestly expect the outside world to be any different when we aren’t even willing to do our best for our own “inner world”? The “inner world” is one thing, the only thing, we really do have a chance to control and improve. Indeed, without the “inner world” what do you have? Death!! And those who care not for the “inner world” are living a “life in death”.
An improvement in your inner world improves the whole universe by a small degree, depending on the extent of improvement. Buddha improved his to a high degree and so had a big effect on the world. If we all did our best for our inner world, the outer world would take care of itself easily.
Therefore, we must cease blaming and finding fault with the “outer world” and do what we can for the “inner” one. I wrote this essay to help you and me towards this goal.