Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Taking Time Out

"...we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when 
instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual
techniques. This fundamental distortion may be referred to as
spiritual materialism."
Chogyam Trungpa

Last week I was answering questions after a meditation class and it became clear that several people came to learn new techniques. I led an open meditation that evening where I brought up the question "Is what I'm doing meditation." In the conversation that followed the half hour meditation, one woman admitted that she was expecting guidance and had a difficult time when we were silent.

Isn't this a basic problem when we begin our meditation? Are we moving into memory to recreate the past or moving forward into planning to build a better present. How difficult it is to be present in this fast paced, results oriented, nano second controlled culture.

I have recently taken a major Time Out in my life to take care of my Mother who had a sudden and sharp downturn in her health. One of the first obstacles to confront me was my sense that I would loose momentum in my job, teaching and relationships. Many of the constructs that define me were called into question immediately by simply stopping my routine and taking care of what was in front of me. Of course, this translated into a whole set of logical, practical and well intentioned rationalizations.

In fact, a sense of spaciousness and ease flooded me in the weeks that followed as I immersed myself in the moment to moment work of taking care of 'activities of daily living.' The freedom of doing the next right thing took hold. What evolved was less focus on 'me' and a growing absorption in the reality of not being separate from this person.

But my spiritual practices fell off at first. That is, the routines I had come to label as spiritual, when the real spiritual work of service to others was filling my life. It's so easy to be diverted into high profile service when the real meaning of life is usually looking at us with a familiar face.