Enlightenment: Alone and An Idiot On the Far Shore
Are you serious about your spiritual journey?
Do you really want to have a meaningful life?
What are you willing to go through in order to really be transformed? To learn to love?
“Who doesn’t want a meaningful life?” we might ask.
But even Jesus cautions us to think twice.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?,” Jesus asks in the Gospel of Luke. “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’”
Honestly, I think it’s probably better that we don’t really know how demanding and challenging the spiritual life is when we first start out, or else we might really think twice about pursuing it!
Do you remember the first time you started to think seriously about deeper things?
If you were raised in a faith tradition, it might have been in adolescence when you first started to say, “Wait a minute: how can Moses have written the first five books of the Bible if they tell how he dies?”
Or, “How could they have gotten two of literally every kind of creature on the ark? Did they get two gnats? Two mosquitos? Two flesh-eating bacteria? And what about the fish? The flood wouldn’t have bothered them at all, so are there a bunch of descendants of sinful, unredeemed fish and clams and stuff from Noah’s time who didn’t perish in the flood?”
These were the surface questions that started to trigger more meaningful ones, like “Who are these people we’re supposed to be emulating? What am I supposed to do with my life? And will the faith I’ve been taught really help me find out?”
If you were not raised in a faith tradition, it was probably one of two things that triggered your first existential crisis: a bad break-up or your first philosophy class in college. (The two have more in common than you’d think.)
You were either badly jilted and mourned your suddenly meaningless existence, or started reading Kant and Hegel in class and thought for a heady half-hour at a coffee shop with your friends that you were the first person to seriously consider moral relativism.
And then enjoyed looking down your nose at your poor, deluded, stodgy parents who just believed a bunch of out-of-date boring stuff. (Insert nostalgic sigh here.)
What I’m getting at is that a meaningful life requires some engagement of your spiritual self, and any spiritual path you take, if pursued with integrity and energy, will eventually take you some really tough places. Continue reading