I still talk in my sleep.
I still dream.
How can there be perfect stillness
When my brain’s so noisy?
We carry on a constant dialogue within ourselves. This is the origin of our problems.
The very word ‘dialogue’ means talking between two sides. We could not have an inner dialogue unless there was a split in our minds. We all have two sides; as long as they are not united, we cannot attain the wholeness that spirituality requires.
Even with years of self-cultivation, it is not easy to tame the wild mind. One might appear to have attained perfect control in all waking situations, only to find endless turbulence during meditation and sleep. This is a sign of incomplete attainment. Perfection must be total.
The process of perfection is long and must be methodical. Although our efforts must be to the utmost, we must never risk repressing ourselves. Indeed, rather than shutting away the unpleasant or unruly aspects of ourselves, we must take them all out and examine them. Daily introspection brings harmony to all our facets. Those aspects that are bad can be dissolved. Those that are of advantage can be cultivated. This effort will take many years, but in this gradual way, we resolve ourselves with our subconscious mind and free ourselves from the struggle and conflict.
Imagine your heart as an opening lotus.
From its center comes a crimson child,
Pure, virginal, and innocent.
One meditation gives this instruction :
Imagine your heart opening into a red lotus.
From its center comes a crimson child.
Bring this child out of your body and imagine him or her floating above your head. You, as a child, are holding a sun in each hand while each foot stands on a moon.
Hold this image as long as you can.
It is hard to bring out this child. When you try, you realize how many defenses you have built around yourself. You also realize how the experiences of adolescence and adulthood have stained you. Sometimes, you may even doubt that you have a pure and innocent self to bring out anymore. But each of us does. Each of us must find that crimson child within us and bring him or her out. For this child represents the time when our energies were whole and our hearts were untroubled by the duplicity of the world and ourselves.
Chant one million times for world peace, they told me.
Pray three times a day to end all wars.
Practice austerities to liberate all living beings.
But the world’s miseries have never diminished.
Periodically, some religious group proclaims that if everyone would just do something like chant, some fundamental social problem would be solved. Claims have been made that spiritual devotion could affect wars, famine, disease, the economy, and overpopulation.
Only personal endeavors can be spiritual. What you do with your daily devotions is purely for your own sake. Once you put ideals on a grand scale, they are compromised by the contradictions of life.
There is no utopia. There never will be. There is only the valiant attempt of each person to live spiritually in a world where spirituality is almost impossible.
What is an archer
Without a target?
It is not enough to have the philosophy of Tao. One must act. Actions, not words, are important. But mere movement is meaningless. One should have purpose.
Short-term goals help us determine each stage of our lives and experience it completely. Long-term goals give us perspective and continuity. Short-term goals help us understand the temporality of life and yet provide us with a way to benefit by that temporality. Long-term goals give focus to the experiences that we accumulate.
Our goals should be entirely personal. No one knows us better than we know ourselves. There is only one universal goal : a gracious death with no regrets.