Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Inner Life

There is a force within that gives you life--
                      seek that.
In your body there lies a priceless jewel--
                      seek that.
Oh, wandering Sufi,
if you are in search of the greatest treasure,
                      don't look outside,
Look within, and seek that.

                                            -- Rumi

      The wisdom teachings of all the great spiritual paths stress the vital importance of the inner life. We're not just a body with senses, appetites, desires; nor simply a mind calculating how to satisfy them. We're also soul, heart, imagination, conscience and reason. These qualities aren't optional aspects of our humanity, they're the essence of what it means to be fully human. Yet almost anyone growing up today is automatically drafted into the "wired" generation--Face Book, Twitter, I-Pods, cell phones, texting, video games, etc. Statistics reveal most teenagers multi-task on the average many hours every day, totally wired to The Information Superhighway. Unquestionably, a number of amazing benefits accrue--but what about the alarming cost to their inner life? What happens to solitude, privacy, introspection, "soul searching"--in short, to that sometimes disturbing but also indispensable aloneness, without which no transformative inner life is even possible? At what point does our obsession with technology become a Faustian bargain made at the price of our souls?


A friend says he doesn't like the word "solitude"
that's cropped up recently in one of my poems.
"Tough shit!" I shoot back, and sulk grouchily.
What's the big deal? Somehow, this goes beyond
my usual overblown poet's vanity. It strikes
a nerve, it pierces to the core of what I love.

Solitude! Not loneliness. Not isolation, paranoia,
aloofness or despair. Not escape from this world,
but crossing the threshold of another, a dimension
so vast the soul shudders with awe to conceive it.
Our greatest alienation is to drown in humankind,
to be severed from the angels and the archetypes.

Solitude! So crowded with their unseen presences!
Never have I felt less alone! A pure cosmic wind
whistles from the wide open portal to eternity,
scouring me clean, stripping my life to the bone!
The treasure I hoard in my poet's bag of tricks?
Just this! A universe cascading from solitude!


     What most enriches us as human beings flows from the inner life of the Spirit. If we abandon this profound part of ourselves we'll ultimately experience a poverty of meaning which will make a poverty of possessions seem trivial by comparison. What does it matter if we can communicate with every corner of the planet if we have nothing original or compelling to say? There are truths we know, believe, understand, decide and express which can never be learned through the senses or from others. Intuition, compassion, imagination, moral vision, creative inspiration--none of these can really be bought or sold on E-Bay. We can only discover them by exploring alone through the uncharted dimensions of that infinite universe within.


Poised on the razor's edge,
beyond every safe battlement,
I stood alone beneath the sky,
unfurled vast, impossible wings

and rose upon the whirling air,
arrowed straight for the heart
of the sun. My one purpose
was set--to vanish into God.

How can I describe the terror
of that flight, or its ecstasy?
Whom I worshipped, I became.
What I dreamed, enveloped me.

Like a leaf swept on the wind
I tumbled down the atmosphere,
stunned to the core with Light,
stripped of all dread, amazed.

But such is unspeakable. Words
stutter and fail. Only...I
have breathed the Infinite,
and my soul is soaring there.


     I cherish those times when I'm alone, but never lonely. At such moments, I am indeed "wired"--but not to our hectic, noisy, distracting, addicting Information Superhighway. Instead, I'm cabled to the cosmos, attuned to a rich, vibrant inner life where I can explore the mystery of who I truly am and what my life is really all about. This isn't a clever new option I can take or leave like an I-Pod Ap. This is how I align my consciousness with the soul of the universe.

...everything is part of that diverse
and mirroring memory, the universe;
there is no end to its exigent corridors
and the doors that close behind you as you go;
only the far side of the sunset's glow
will show you at last the Archetypes
                                            and Splendors.

                                       -- Jorges Borges

1 comment:

  1. Bob,

    Thank you for your blog today!

    The ultimate truth of the Spirit is our solitude and how it connects us to who we really are.

    Jesse Bretthorst