Monday, January 10, 2011
A friend found this image on Facebook. She sent it with a quote from Carl Jung:
Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
I, happily, willingly, embrace both states, though I suppose one may be considered more productive than the other.
For those of us who give ourselves moments of intentional quiet, the call to become more conscious never abates. Living unconsciously, speaking and acting without thought, may well be, in part, responsible for the tragic shootings in Arizona on Saturday. Or the atmosphere of intolerance may be fully intentional, a conscious, considered option, the consequences of which were understood and dismissed.
However much time I am given to be here, the less of it I spend running willy-nilly, the happier I am. That there have been many willy-nilly moments, or why downplay it...years...is not self-criticism. The aspiration to live more mindfully is not one I imagine makes the Top Ten on most to-do lists. And at its best, even the most practiced at meditation and mindfulness say, it will remain an aspiration. We are not learning to drive a car or recreate Julia Child's recipes.
So, one wonders, why attempt a practice which cannot be, by common definition, mastered? I can only answer for myself. A quiet mind has a greater capacity for appreciation. Gratitude, like compassion, like acceptance, like love, allows us residence in a state of expanded peace.
My heritage too often emphasized anxiety, pessimism, mistrust and, at times, misinformation as a result of judgment. These are not the companions of enlightenment. To be happy, simply, in-spite-of-everything content in most moments, to see that I have a choice, transforms the human experience. Life will always be life, bringing the welcome and the unwelcome, probably in equal measure.
That stillness may be found by looking within seems contrary to the messages I absorbed growing up. In fact, stillness would have been seen as something only a fool would want. We need to be busy and resentful, frightened and bullying and shaming. But I have the model of how poorly that worked, unless all I wanted was more of the same.
Thank you, Marta, for the image, Jung's words and your company as we practice becoming awake. In its way, it is a bit like driving or cooking, for there is pleasure in the practice, it is time well spent.