I have been accused recently of becoming too isolated. The accusations were well meant because my accusers missed my regular company.
Photograph copyright tinavandenbongardt
Just last week I read some words of Lord Buddha which, in modern day speak, went along the lines of….
Hermits/ascetics do not isolate themselves from the world outside in order to pay penance. They do so to become happier. External things, that at one time they used to enjoy, no longer stimulate or fulfill their desires. They thus seek happiness within.
I’m no ascetic. I enjoy my creature comforts. I love eating out in posh restaurants, staying in 5-star hotels and travelling first class. But maybe I have become a hermit in certain ways.
I go to the occasional reunion where others see a superficial change in me. These days my hair is long as is my wispy goatee, unlike the corporate clean cut image I used to portray years ago. My appearance often places me ‘outside the flock’. Conversations have, on occasion, become slightly stilted.
I no longer take much interest in ‘normal’ day-to-day small talk, like who is going to win ‘the current Saturday night TV contest’ or get thrown out of some ‘reality’ show. Many of my interests have changed and perhaps more significantly, my perspective has changed.
For example, I feel distanced when people complain about being the victims of an economic recession that we have collectively created. At the same time, I ask myself, “Why have I attracted this conversation? I wonder where I am not being accountable for what I receive in life; whom or what am I blaming?”
I do not consider myself superior in any way and do my best not to come across as an evangelist. It’s that I’ve moved on. If people ask my opinion about the latest TV game show, I probably don’t have one. If we’re discussing global events, I speak my views.
I prefer to distance myself from day-to-day chatter or ‘complaining about the system’ – both of which I might have engaged in once upon a time.
I still ‘rabbit on’ a lot about two of my passions though: football and music (probably more than I do about humankind’s return to oneness) and, undoubtedly, I distance a few people from myself in the process as well. Furthermore, I don’t yet attract that many people who want to talk about things ethereal. And I’m ok with that, for now.
Eventually, at some stage in our journey within, we come to a cross roads. We discern the habits, people and situations that no longer serve to make us happy.
If we don’t discern, we become bored. If we don’t switch out those habits, we become irritated. We can become ‘not-fun-to-be-around-anymore’. We get annoyed at ourselves for taking the well trodden road that’s no longer fun for ourselves to be on. We go back to the crossroads where we give ourselves the option to take a different route, a road ‘less travelled’.
There are people at the crossroads who offer us drinks, holidays, nights out on the town, parties and the like. There are others: advisors, suitors, groups, authority figures…. all trying to ‘sell’ a system, a solution or a ‘way to do it’. Both camps offer you a way to avoid hard (emotional) work and pain. They promise you a path, a ‘golden road’. They will want to be with you, every step of the yellow-brick way, success or failure, for a fee.
You may be offered maps, charts even a lighthouse that points the way. But the onward and inward journey must be trodden alone. No-one can bestow intelligence on you. Every question you have is already within you. You just need the external world to reflect it back to you.
Those people at the crossroads, and I include me, have not travelled your journey. Because that’s what it is; it’s your journey and no-one else’s. Your journey will require that you demonstrate similar characteristics to those teachers/pioneers who have gone before you. It will require courage, patience, self trust, curiosity and many other enabling inner qualities BUT the journey itself is yours to take alone. Even the crossroads you stand at is your crossroads – no-one else has ever stood precisely at the same point in time, space and dimension – as where you stand now. And so…
There comes a point when you put aside: the advice of experts, the norms of acceptable behaviour, the protection of staying inside the flock, the expectations of those nearest and dearest to you…………. and you realise that no-one can teach you truth, you can only know it by experiencing it for yourself.
You allow the feeling of good to become your guide. You listen to the voice that speaks between thoughts – that you, perhaps, have been drowning out but has never gone away. You trust and act upon your intuition, the words of spirit.
Paul C Burr