Someone sent me this story years ago. I have no idea who wrote it, but I still appreciate the lesson. Imagine, how often we judge ourselves harshly because the way we have been living our lives hasn’t produced the result we wished to produce, as quickly as we would have liked?
In one of the best spiritual books of the 20th century, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa, he wrote of spanning the gulf between the esoteric tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and the everyday joys, sorrows and questions of spirituality in everyday modern life. In this book, Trungpa focused on the presentation of the spiritual path from the perspective of the role of expectation and promise of reward.
Before I read that book, I was still trying to be a “good girl” and was trying to get living “right” so I would really be worthy of a better life than it seemed the one I was born into had been so far. Let’s not talk about my being in my early thirties at the time! Perhaps Buddha would smile on me and suddenly things would be so much better. It wasn’t working for me and I was deeply dissatisfied.
Trungpa wrote about how these expectations obscure our ability to be with life the way it really is, and isn’t. So long as we have a story about how long it takes to do something, we can use that story to stop ourselves in two ways: the first being that we block ourselves from experiencing the present moment, and the second, we impede ourselves from moving forward in our lives in the direction of our dreams because we create the idea of difficulty as a burden, as if life should always be easy and challenges have no value. Where do we get the ideas that we should pit “easy” against “challenging” and one should be of higher value than the other? What makes a lifetime project of less value than a quick fix?
What if we would simply choose today to live a spiritual life today, and tomorrow we choose again what kind of life we would live, today we don’t have to worry about it and we don’t have to worry about results or spiritual attainments? Wouldn’t living such a simple life relieve us of the burden of opinion, measurement and self-inflicted suffering?
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism – Chogyam Trungpa
The now classic Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism is the record of two series of lectures given by Trungpa Rinpoche in 1970-71.