Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spiritual Discipline as a Practical Skill

The point about the various religious traditions is that they convey information about acquiring a specific skill. What this skill is, really can't be conveyed directly; if it could there would be no need for religious lore. The student has to engage with it and work very hard at mastering it. Of course there are many different aspects to religion and spirituality but the skill I have in mind is that of disciplined meditation and transformation of one's state-of-mind. This is something that can be done, but that takes about as much effort as learning any other serious or professional skill, like playing piano or understanding a subject like medicine or law.

A great deal of the arguments about religion has no inkling that this is the case. It is very easy to read books, engage in arguments and entertain ideas. The actual hard work of learning a spiritual praxis is nothing like that. It is a tough sojourn which one's ego will resist and fight tooth and nail every step of the way. But the dimensions it opens up are completely unexpected, and impossible to convey. In my case, it is a sense of love, an upwelling of love in the deepest part of my being. It comes and goes, of course. The wind blows were it lists, and so on.

I am going on retreat to Sunnataram Forest Monastery from Boxing Day until New Year's day. This will be an opportunity to engage in some intensive sitting and reflection.

Peace to all.

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