Spiritual Cartography

 

It would seem logical that those who are seeking a path to follow would be more compelled to explore new spiritual experiences as a method of searching, and that those who are settled on a path would be less willing to explore.  And perhaps that’s generally the case.  But I find that now, as I’m pretty settled and sure about what I do believe and what I don’t, my curiosity about others has increased.  The exploration now, however, is not in pursuit of guidance and instead is in pursuit of context.

I no longer want to find my way, I simply want to fill in the map.

In fact, I believe in many ways the need to understand the context of spirituality in both a global and historic sense is what is missing in much of what constitutes spiritual learning today.  A full understanding of where one stands in the vast array of thoughts and beliefs and manner of worship is something which enhances and enriches one’s view of the universe, and if through learning those things you find your beliefs uncomfortably challenged then, well, you’re probably finally getting somewhere.

 

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Inside Looking Out

There are days when I feel like so much is going on in the world that I want to be part of, that my day to day obligations hold me back from experiencing.  I know I’m not alone in that, and it’s the very feeling that drives people to seek to make their passions into careers.  If only they could get paid for doing the things they feel most alive and engaged doing, then their lives would be so much better?

The problem is that I’ve tried that, and it didn’t really get me any closer to satisfaction on that front.  I began to enjoy that particular passion less and less, and still found myself wanting to experience life more deeply in other ways.  The more time and effort and money I poured into one passion, the less I had for others.

In the end, I think what I proved is that the natural limits of time and energy are what stand in the way of me experiencing life as deeply as I want to.  No matter how much I give towards my passions and curiosities, there will always be a deficit.

And there is no easy solution for this.

We can manage the frustration by trying to limit or focus our desires for more robust engagement with the world.  It’s a difficult task, one which requires learning to prioritize and balance and let go of things.  Much like the struggle I’ve gone through recently of trying to figure out how to fully engage in the activism I’m drawn to without letting myself get burnt out or spread too thin.  It’s involved picking priority engagements, setting standards for what I say yes to (and demonstrating the ability to say no otherwise), and having a way to prioritize the things I give my extra time and energy to. It’s also involved convincing myself that it’s perfectly acceptable for important work to go on without me, which is not a factor of not trusting others to get it done but rather a factor of me not wanting to miss out.

We can also learn to be a bit more critical of our expectations for certain experiences.  Feeling that there’s too much we want to immerse ourselves in and that our lifestyles are barriers to experiencing essential things can very well be a type of escapism.  It’s easier to see the potential for fulfillment in things we consider beyond our reach than it is to deal with realities we don’t know how to cope with.  I’ve realized over the years that a desire to stay up later, to take on more projects, to make my to-do list as long as possible with things that only involve myself is a clear sign that I’m trying to avoid facing a very real problem elsewhere in my life.

How do you approach a desire to experience life more deeply than you do now?