Sunday, May 13, 2018

generosity of self

We should not force ourselves to change by hammering our lives into any predetermined shape. We do not need to operate according to the idea of a predetermined program or plan for our lives. Rather, we need to practice a new art of attention to our inner rhythm of our days and lives. This attention brings a new awareness of our own human and divine presence. A dramatic example of this kind of transfiguration is the one all parents know. You watch your children carefully, but one day they surprise you; you still recognize them, but your knowledge of them is insufficient. You have to start listening to them all over again.

It is far more creative to work with the idea of mindfulness rather than with the idea of will. Too often people try to change their lives by using the will as a kind of hammer to beat their life into proper shape. The intellect identifies the goal of the program, and the will accordingly forces the life into that shape. This way of approaching the sacredness of one’s own presence is externalistic and violent. It brings you falsely outside your own self and you can spend years lost in the wilderness of your own mechanical, spiritual programs. You can perish in a famine of your own making.

If you work with a different rhythm, you will come easily and naturally home to your self. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has a map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of your self. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more importantly it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey. There are no general principles for this art of being. Yet the signature of this unique journey is inscribed deeply in each soul. If you attend to your self and seek to come into your own presence, you will find exactly the right rhythm for your life. The senses are generous pathways which can bring you home.

~ John O’Donohue 
from Anam Cara 
art by Odilon Redon


jacquin said...

This is exactly what I needed to read tonight.
I'm so tired of trying to be anything better, anything other, than what I am. Self-improvement is a master-class in disappointment and hubris. But sitting at home eating potato chips doesn't seem the right way to go either... :D
I have been adrift since I've become skeptical there is any One looking on to punish or praise. Mindfulness practice allows me to be my own observer, and to hold myself to account - to the standards that arise from within, rather than being imposed from above.
Perhaps too this eventually overcomes the inertia that resists change.