Tuesday, May 25, 2010

All things are passing (Choices and Destiny, expanded post)

Tibetan Buddhists apparently make 3-year retreats, staying with a small group of fellow practitioners in a secluded house and devoting themselves day and night to continuous spiritual practice.

They spend their first month reflecting on four profound ideas:

• Life is inconceivably precious.
• Life is short and death is certain
• Life contains inevitable difficulties
• Our ethical choices mold our lives

The fact is that whoever we are -- even if we can walk on water -- we are always moving toward the same inevitable end. No matter when it comes, it will seem too soon. The path will not always be easy, and along that path there will be infinite opportunities to make good -- or bad -- choices.

And so, after meditating on that this morning, I came upon this image, shot at Millennium Park in Chicago last summer, and I was intrigued by what appears to be a face in the light reflected in the upper right corner. There's no obvious source for that face, and it doesn't exactly look like any image of God or Christ or Buddha I've seen.

But I do get this sense, because of the direction of the child's movement, that the face represents destiny, and that it is waiting patiently for the child's approach; perhaps even calling the child forward. If the child is me, or if the child is you, who is the face? What is it that calls to us, that keeps us moving forward into destiny?

So then I think of some lines from my Rumi poem for today:

"Essence is not nourished with food and sleep.
Do no one any harm in this timefield of short crops
where what you sow comes up very quickly.
You try to accomplish things, to win,
to reach goals. This is not the true situation.
Put the whole world in ambition's stomach,
it will never be enough.

Assume you get everything you want.
Assume you have it now. What's the point?
The next moment you die."

--Rumi, A Year with Rumi (May 25)

As I walk through this last month before starting school again, I think it's important to stay clear about why I made this choice. It can't be about ambition -- I'm hoping it's not about ambition. I'm hoping my goal will continue to be my own awakening, and that that awakening will somehow serve others; that the choices made will be ethical, and the goal compassion and oneness -- whatever form that takes.

After writing this post, I went off to my weekly spirituality class. And the poem that was read to introduce our meditation time seemed to add a perfect -- and much more positive -- closure to this post, so I've decided to re-post this and share it with you here:

Eternal Dwelling Place,
I know all things are passing.
My final home is not here.
Yet I zoom mindlessly through my days
missing the passionate gift of life.

How differently I would enter each day
if I embraced the shortness of my life span.
The things I consider inconveniences
would have a different colored hue.
The work I feel driven to accomplish
would pale beside relationships I cherish.
The irritations and the angers would dissolve
as I inhaled the preciousness of life.

Joyful Journeyer,
I hear you call to me this day:
"Behold! Enjoy! Appreciate!
Welcome all who enter this new day.
Live wild with rapturous wonder.
Look with awe and smile with elation.
Forgive those who stand at a distance.
Thank those who have settled i your heart.
Be tender with the rough edges of yourself.
Taste each morsel of life with fullness."

May I live each day with heartiness,
Keeping things in clear perspective,
recognizing that this day before me
might truly be my last.

-- Joyce Rupp, Prayers to Sophia


Maureen said...

I enjoy Joyce Rupp's work immensely. Thank you.

Joyce Wycoff said...

Incredible image and powerful post.