Friday, 10 August 2012
We live in a pluralistic culture, with many religions and philosophies believed in and followed by people at different intensities. Of course I am talking about the United States, but I also know that this is true in many other parts of the world. For me, in boils down to a ‘path’ -- or if you will, ‘spiritual path’ -- that is taken seriously and leads the one on the path to ever deepening levels of openness to the mystery of life.
Apart from different beliefs, I think that what dictates how we live any life choice is based on what we struggle with on a daily basis. Cycles happen over and over again. People can end up in the same place from where they started no matter how hard they try to stop the endless merry-go-round. Just how do you get to the place where you can get the golden ring and get off?
How do we relate to others? How do those around us respond? How do I deal with addictions, with sex and of course food, something I struggle with? Do I invite abusive people into my life over and over again without consciously wanting to? How do I break it? In other words, how can I die to a way of life that is keeping me caged in an ever narrowing cycle? The answer is within of course, cliché sounding I know, but true none the less.
Any kind of death is hard, and the dying process can be truly agonizing. All you need do is ask anyone who has traversed the 12 steps; for insight into that reality. In order to live a free life, a loving life -- all that impedes that -- has to be faced and let go of, even if it takes years to do so. It is easy to cling to what is known, harder to let go of known pain for the unknown life that is waiting. This has nothing to do with cultural expectation, which can really be part of the problem. No it is divesting ourselves of all that imprisons us.
In facing the dragon, whatever form it takes, if kept up, it can be quickly learned that the pain and suffering that goes with this process, is in reality much less than the pain and suffering endured when caught on the wheel of our addictions and fears of life. Faith can lead us to embrace life fully without the compulsion to run away, it can give us a place to stand from, a point of relationship with the infinite. As a Christian that reality is Jesus Christ. However, God’s grace cannot be limited by our own human understanding of the mystery of grace at work in each human life and in history.
How do you relate to others on the spiritual path? When have you related to someone with different beliefs but similar struggles?