Archive for September 11th, 2009

My wife and I enjoy hiking and we used to take some fairly long and challenging ones with camera, binoculars and field guides in hand. Nowadays, it’s the walks color coded for short distance that we prefer. We get all the pleasure of different environments ( lakeside, forest, meadows, etc.) and all in the space of 30 minutes or so.

Still usually with cameras in hand, we go ready to capture what memorable moments may come ( a series of 8 or so turtles all lined up on a branch in a small lake, a solitary flower remaining on a substantial bush, a lone chipmunk on the side of a tree, or a colorful bird alighting on a nearby branch, etc.).

And then, the walk is over.

We feel appropriately gratified and refreshed at the bit of exercise and fresh air, the views, the quiet and time alone with each other. This has me thinking today about the extraordinary work of Paul Brunton on “Advanced Contemplation” ( contained in his many notebooks).

He argued that the best path to living the illuminated/ enlightened life is the short one too.

His argument is that many of us take special pride in the struggles and long endurance demanded of us by taxing disciplines ( and all these are fine) but these paths to enlivening and unleashing the spirit become exactly what we expect them to be — long and effortful! A Zen Roshi once said, in answer to the question “How long will it take to become enlightened?” – seven years.

Brunton instead contends that since one is already everything that one needs to be (in the experience of the ever-present “Over-Self”) all we need do is recognize that fact.

As we sit to meditate, there is no need for striving. All we need to do is accept that we are already immersed in the sacred (which is all around us and completely fills our every breath). We need only listen, look, hear and catch that first fleeting glimpse of true Communion with the Beloved. This then becomes a lengthier and lengthier experience of what has always been real in our lives whether we knew it or not.

With humility, this approach asks us to look within ourselves with all the calm we can muster. In the act of noticing the real, we are already experiencing the illuminated path; no need to wait any longer. Carpe Deum!!

At the end, we come to see that, after all of our striving, we have been at the destination all along but too busy looking for it to see it.

In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, we are “Movement with repose.”

Short Paths

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