So what does it take to bring God into one’s life, perhaps more than one has been accustomed to having? To walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ? Even being less specific: how does one touch the divine, and is it even proper to want that in everyday life? For one is not expected to live in a zen satori all the livelong day — I imagine that to be exhausting. But one can have everyminute zen, however, and I have read about this: enlightenment can be for every moment. Such perhaps is the answer: not to desire upon every the hour a religious ecstacy, but to live always in the Spirit, with the Spirit — that appears something that can be desired.
Of course, like quitting an addiction, if you don’t have any inclination to have the Spirit of life, these might be just empty words that strike nothing when they pour in through your eyes. But perhaps, even then, this is my chance to let you in on a secret, something that might spark your curiosity, perhaps, that is so innocent that you let it through your armor without thinking. Perhaps you’ve heard it before: if you want to reach Nirvana, just realize you’re already there. This is the secret of the ancients. All that you need to be satisfied, you already have it. It is merely to learn to have eyes that see: that see what has always been before them. This is the enlightenment.
Myself, I have thought that an enlightened state could be thought up in one or two precepts, depending on how you count: be not but love, do not but love. It is an enlightenment of heart. For God is love, so anyone who lives in love lives in God. It is the case, though, that it is a difficult thing to translate all the everyday phenomena of our action so that we are decided that in choosing those mundane things that we are following that/those pattern(s). Perhaps we need to get more to where the rubber hits the road, rather than wade in the vague of clouds, however worthy they are. And perhaps it begins just with the idea of holding to the simple, to live simply. In the words of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the song “Simple Man”, “be something you love and understand”.
That means cutting out the drama, not to play politics, not to play games that complicates a given situation. Welcome to my parlor, said the spider to the fly. That’s the thing, not to desire such power. Not to become the spider that plays with what it devours. If you really want God in your life, if you want to follow in the footsteps of Christ, or even other great spiritual leaders, be humble and listen to your conscience. This is nothing you haven’t heard before, so why do you not listen? Is it that the voice of your appetite is louder than all the wisdom that sashays into your ear? Selfless: what does that word mean to you? Is it your “self” that is in your way between you and what is right? How can we then begin to chip away at the edifice of your ego?
Then, what is the self, anyway? It brings up the observation that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. One can imagine that the “self” in “selfish” is counted as that, what is termed as “the flesh”. The genesis of all rationalizations. The beginning and end of all procrastination. But I say not that all pleasures of the flesh are a sin (for one, eating a good steak would be included in that). So where is the evil? They say that man is a cross between animal and angel. It is when we give too much of our (will)power to the beast: the reptile brain, the base and brute affections; this is the derangement from where comes evil. But being selfless is not to destroy the animal in us; it is to find the agreement between the angel and the beast.
Such an alignment between heaven and earth is surely a hardfought, hardwon enterprise. What does it mean? Surely not from the below, to make the heaven conform to the whim. Heaven forfend. If the beast is all “me, me, me”, and the angel only thinks of others, the narrow way is not to average these two counteracting forces. Basically limp, would that kind of reconciliation be. It is to summon all the passion of the fires below to power the light from above, to shine in this way. This is no mean trick. The way to such a state of being and doing? Love. Simply love. To alter a classic rock song, if you can’t do the thing you love, love the thing you do. This is the attitude. Even if you don’t succeed, try.
There is a definition of love which I have found to be greater than the others, which I take from the 80s movie Electric Dreams: love is give, and not take. As simple as it can be. Is this, then, not what we are to do as an image of the Creator? To give, and not take? This to be the key to all selflessness. Except that in the world that we live in, we are necessarily complicated: to whom do you give what? We must negotiate a narrow way, not to render injustice to ourselves, even if all we do is give. But if the simple, if that “to give” is fulfilled in us, if we truly can let go of all hint of possession: if we give and do not take to the utmost of our skill: suddenly we become a child of God, truly. Because then we share in the Nature of God, like our Savior before us, Who maketh the sun shine upon the wicked and just, both.
Note that this is not to say it is a trivial thing, to do that which can be written of as what is right. You will have your “self” in the way of any endeavor to live in the Spirit. The animal always seeks the power over you, and the angel sometimes seems quite far away. Perhaps all the angel is is something of a whisper. But never believe you have no choice in the matter. True, sometimes it can be as if you are possessed — and why people meditate is to free oneself of such situations — but another quote here: try, fail, fail better. While you live, live in hope. There is always hope: just believe this, and it will be true. To find the simple truths that help us understand what it really means to be a human being.
To live simply is a means of not getting lost in a complicated world. It is to be like love. And to give, this is the way to do good in this world. It is to do as love does. There is no formula, obviously, which can account for all the situations that one comes across in the happenings of every day. How sad it would be if there were. We recognize that there is more to see than can be seen, more to do than can be done. This is life, in its goodness. If you undertake to heed this little advice I tell, let me then tell you that if you’re reading this, you have already in you to live life in the manner of a child of light, a child of God. I forget who said it, but who would you call if you only had 10 minutes left to live, and what would you say, and what are you waiting for? Truly, all this little piece can do is to be that kind of prompt.
But while I have you here, can I ask you something? Are you what you expected you’d be before you “grew up”? One thinks of Jesus’ words that what is hidden to wise men is plain to children. Did you ever dream of being the hero, way back when? That you could save the day? Think back, try to bring yourself back to that sensation you sought, how you identified with the triumphant one at the end of the movies you used to see. Because you can be a hero like that, if you didn’t know. I imagine Judgement Day will be an epic movie of all the highlights of everyone in the world, one by one, for He said that what good you do in secret he will reward you for before everyone, the whole world. To believe in considerations like this: this is faith.
So what are we left with, here in the concluding part of this little essay? Are you a hero? Or an ordinary person? Or are you a hero because you’re an ordinary person? Can you, from the inscription copied from this page into your mind, can you just make one decision? Just one, and not a big one, either. Can you decide to be better? And like I said, it doesn’t have to be in an overarching, huge course of action that would seal you as a hero saint forevermore, but anytime you have a little opportunity to do better at maybe some little thing that you’ve always done, will you? Consider it a screen test for that movie at the end of time, so that maybe, just maybe: when your big hero moment comes around, you’ll be ready to wow ’em, wow ’em all.
Just give it some thought.