Spiritual Agendas

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anna
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Spiritual Agendas

Postby anna » April 27th, 2008, 11:39 pm

I realize that this is an oxymoron, if you consider that agenda implies self-will, and spiritual implies surrender to something greater than oneself. Even so, each seeker initially comes to this journey with an agenda, and only the successful ones, who reach the end of that journey, realize somewhere along the road that the agenda is obscuring the obvious fact that they are already at the end of that journey.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth

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W4TVQ
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Re: Spiritual Agendas

Postby W4TVQ » June 9th, 2008, 12:07 pm

Few subjects, IMO, are more "either-or" than this one.

One's relationship to The One. At one level, it is absolutely true, as the Vedas tell us, that "thou art that." If the ocean is ocean, and the wave is ocean, then by the mathematical principle of correlation, the one is the other. a=b, c=b, so if b=b then a=c. Got it.

Nevertheless, the wave, though it is the ocean, is not the entire ocean. It is manifested by the ocean in space and time. In the grand scale, space and time do not exist; but inasmuch as The One has chosen to manifest space and time, they exist now, and we are in them and must deal with them. And in the context of space and time it is inevitable that there be agenda. Even if the agenda is, "Return to the ocean," it is nonetheless an intention with a beginning, a progress and an end, because it is undertaken by a being which is, for the moment, in space and time. We all come from the goddess, and to her we shall return, like a drop of rain flowing to the ocean. Our current experience is the flowing, not the arriving -- a consequence of being in space/time.

My own experience has been that, though I can sat confidently that space and time do not exist and the end of the journey has already been achieved, these assertions have no practical application to my moment-to-moment experience in space and time. I still dwell in Flatland and may be aware of the third dimension but not able to personally experience it yet. And I think the key to progress into the next dimension is not in sitting back and saying "I know it's there," but in being the best what-I-am-now that I can be. And in taking 2 tylenols for the headache that such thinking produces! Otherwise, I am trying to live at a level I have not yet achieved, which, as Stefan pointed out in another thread, cannot be done.

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Speculum
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Re: Spiritual Agendas

Postby Speculum » June 11th, 2008, 7:34 pm

I don't like the word agenda, I prefer intention.


A year or more ago, there evolved in this forum a discussion over the difference in the context of the spiritual quest between the words “know” and “remember”, as in “Know Who I Am” and “Remember Who I Am”. As I recall the thread, the general sense then was that – in this context – they are pretty much synonymous, all the while acknowledging that centuries could be spent in seminaries splitting the distance between them. (For those interested, here is that thread.)

As I read them here, I think I would say the same as regards the words “agenda” and “intention”. In a corporate business context, the two words are used differently, and appropriately so; likewise in the context of a theological discussion of sin. But in the context of the spiritual quest generally as it is considered in this forum and at TZF generally, the two words seem pretty synonymous to me. If anything, “agenda” sounds to me more chronic than “intention”, suggesting something long held, like maybe even over a lifetime, whereas “intention” sounds more short-term. But even that difference is not telling, I don’t think.

I also do not like the idea of surrender to something greater. Greater than what?


My own experience as a spiritual seeker is that my perception of myself as “Stefan” about whom I say to myself and to all others (people, things, and God), “I am Stefan, and you are not Stefan; what is Stefan’s is mine and not yours”, is a fundamental error. This perception of error is supported by virtually every Teacher I have ever come across. More importantly and more convincing to me, it is supported, and undoubtedly nourished, by my own experiences into a level of awareness (if I may put it that way) in which or during which it is always indelibly apparent that the separative perception “I am me and you aren’t” is not only mistaken but impossible. These experiences have always been transitory, by which I mean they have never anchored; but it is always apparent that if they should ever do so, it would change everything I know about "me" and "life".

What has that got to do with surrender? To me, in this context surrender means a willingness to release the separative perception of “I am Stefan, and you aren’t” in favor of whatever this other level of awareness is. Thus, surrender is a willingness to be open and receptive, an enthusiastic readiness to welcome the unexpected.

Thus, in that sense, surrender does not have for me the negative connotation of defeat which accompanies it in ordinary usage (surrender to the enemy, surrender to the inevitable). On the contrary, it is a positive act. Here, I am reminded of the item at TZF’s Quiet Room about the fellow wrestling with God, who upon being asked “How can you hope to win against so formidable an opponent?” responds, “You don’t understand, I hope to lose”.

… surrender to something greater. Greater than what?


Here, I would say, greater than the separative, egoic perception “I am me, and you aren’t me”. Does greater mean better? If God is all there is, as is thoroughly apparent to me, then everything is equally Divine and the Same, so as an adjective “better” does not work. What does work, again from my own experience, is greater as more – infinitely more – expansive, inclusive, harmonious, nourishing, joyful, and the like. In a word, greater as in more apparently simple.

Continuing to speak for myself alone, early on in the spiritual quest – (when I became aware that it was a spiritual quest, because there never was a time when Stefan said to himself, I am becoming “a seeker”. Rather, at some point I became aware that I had become a spiritual seeker, having somehow been enlisted or shanghaied into the role during or after leaving my “world job” and moving to the woods as homesteaders) – I (actually, Anna and I, but I don’t want to put words in her mouth) wrote a private “letter to God” (private in the sense that for a decade or more we mentioned it to no one else) in which we surrendered our lives to Him, whatever precisely might have been our perception of Him at the time, and committed ourselves to look to Him for everything. In a word, that letter was an expression of our taking literarily the Gospels Teaching, “Consider the lilies, and how they grow”, the Teaching of Sri Ramakrishna, and so many others from so many other traditions. It was a surrender (release) of very nearly everything we had been taught theretofore about how to survive in a reality described by ideas like “God helps those who help themselves”, “it’s dog eat dog out there”, “money talks, everything else walks”, “the golden rule is that gold rules”, "one man's blessing is another's misfortune".

In the sense of that letter, whose thrust became and has since been the defining force of our lives (although the letter itself long ago ended up in a drawer somewhere), surrender means to yield to God what has become increasingly apparent is already His, to wit, the governing authority and practical direction of my life and Anna’s life. Whether or not doing so is in any sense “greater”, or in any sense represents a surrender to something “greater”, I suppose one could argue either way successfully; but I can say this, again based solely on my own experience, doing so is far more effective as a way of life in every possible sense of all of those words than anything else I have experienced.

To be sure, as I observe in an article at TZF’s Consider This!, some say that releasing our lives to God and relying on God in this way, is a cop out, and too easy. Maybe. But our experience is that it is far easier to continue struggling to pretend to be in control of one's life than it is to surrender it absolutely and unconditionally.

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anna
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Re: Spiritual Agendas

Postby anna » June 15th, 2008, 6:05 pm

My response to “surrender to something greater than what?” inquiry. The term spiritual “search” implies, indeed requires, something “greater” than what presently IS. Otherwise, why would one be searching? If one is full and complete, there is no need to search. Yes, the every day self is who makes the search, it is the one who searches, because it considers itself to be less than the greater. And the everyday self is, from my own perspective, the content of the mind. It is who we think we are. Indeed, it is the one who conceives of the search in the first place, and the one who has both agendas and intentions. And in my own experience, the surrender of that self is essential to stopping the search, obviously, because it is the originator or the search, as well as all the intentions or agendas that it creates in its effort to maintain that search, all of which obstruct our true understanding or vision. Yes, I agree that the seers are correct in stating there is no path or destination, but they speak not as the individual self that searches, but AS what we are in fact, and that is non-intention, non-agenda, non spiritual, non worldly, non conceptual, non-everything but as well AS all and everything. They also agree that the obstruction to “realization” or BEING IT, is the search, the intention, the agenda, and the conceptual self, the every day self, who searches and therefore obstructs its own surrender -- and therefore dissolution or transformation -- by virtue of that search. It is so busy searching there is little opportunity for its getting out of the way. Or, God can’t get in!

Viewed in the opposite direction: the only time surrender seems relevant or necessary is when there is someone, or a “me” present to surrender itself. (Obviously, surrender is not necessary if there is no one to surrender.) Moreover, there is nothing greater than the greatest, but there is definitely, in my own experience at least, always something greater than “myself”, or otherwise, there would be no “self” to call “myself.” Duality creates mine and yours, greater and lesser, etc. Indeed, if this same “myself” considers itself to be “the greatest”, that myself has not surrendered itself, but instead, has aggrandized itself to extreme ego-centricity or a kind of megalomania or self-conceit. That “greater” than concept, then, is what motivates the spiritual search in the first place. And in this case, it is the “me” that is looking to be “greater”, or different, or better than itself via the spiritual search.

It is to this “self”, the cultivated mind that is separated and individual, and therefore lesser than or different from, the greater, greatest, lesser, or least, as well as all other things and concepts, that I refer to the importance of surrender. And by surrender, I mean literally giving up the self-conceit of thoughts, concepts, ideas and who I presume to be. This is achieved, at least personally, only through surrender, or giving up. And one comes to that kind of giving up usually after prolonged seeking for answers and years of “agendas” and “intentions”, in this case, of a spiritual nature. And this prolonged search take less or more time, depending upon how long it takes me to find each effort does not suffice, and thus the search continues, sometimes for a very long time.

In other words, I have found in my own experience that so long as there is a “myself” that has an “intention” or “agenda” to pursue, then it is that very “myself” and that very “intention” or “agenda” that has obscured the realization that I am NOT in fact, “myself”, nor do I have, by extension, any intention or agenda! And upon that realization, this is what in fact we are all the time, but do not know it, because we have intentions and agendas and are obscured by our belief in “me” which generates those intentions. And indeed, those agendas re-create me continuously – a very cozy relationship. In my own experience, without the surrender of the “myself” that obscures that realization, no progress, other than the embrace of a new or different paradigm, occurs. And each new paradigm, however gorgeous or spiritual it may be, however full of delights, miracles, and possibilities, it is still another paradigm, another concept, another obstruction. It is still “me” with “intentions” and “agendas”. I am still searching, if only for more of the same, a different version, or a better one. I am not IT. The Sufis said it perfectly – “If you don’t stop there………….!” Whether they would agree that there comes a time when the you is no longer relevant, or indeed, whether the statement can even be made, I cannot affirm. But I have found this to be so. Or, the spiritual search can tell me what "being IT" is, I can learn what it is, and can experience its gifts, but it is not the same as being it. And being it requires I stop being "me", because me is what obstructs that "being" it.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth

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Neo
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Re: Spiritual Agendas

Postby Neo » June 17th, 2008, 4:14 pm

when I think of surrender i remember the zen story about a student who says to her Master "I have nothing" and the Master replies "throw it away"

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Re: Spiritual Agendas

Postby windabove » June 19th, 2008, 4:28 am

anna wrote:I realize that this is an oxymoron, if you consider that agenda implies self-will, and spiritual implies surrender to something greater than oneself. Even so, each seeker initially comes to this journey with an agenda, and only the successful ones, who reach the end of that journey, realize somewhere along the road that the agenda is obscuring the obvious fact that they are already at the end of that journey.

I tend to regard what you describe, this "method that is required to realize that no method is required" as an all pervading paradox, more than an oxymoron. It takes a while to get comfortable with paradox. I'm not sure I'll ever get totally comfortable with it, but I am more so. I used to take everything unquestionably as it appeared. Then I realized that nothing is as it appears. Now I am beginning to realize that everything appears exactly as it is, a grand mystical paradox, and yet the heart core essential truth is that there is nothing paradoxical about anything. Beautiful beyond words.
Last edited by windabove on June 19th, 2008, 9:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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anna
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Re: Spiritual Agendas

Postby anna » June 19th, 2008, 2:05 pm

Yes! yes! to both of your comments. I suppose paradox is just another word for something which cannot be truly described, because at the realization of the paradox, what can one say after all?!! Paradox itself closes the dialogue, ceases the questioning, stops the mind from its constant rantings. I suppose one could call paradox, therefore, a "way?" :lol:

And Zen does the same thing, doesn't it? The master breaks the rational mind's effort at continuity by his comment. He cuts the knot at its source, attachment, to whatever it is one is attached to, thoughts, things, etc. Presumably that is the purpose of koans, no? Drum away at the mind's stream of consciousness until it breaks down into its basic isolated fragments from utter fatigue, and at that realization, the mind returns to its natural state - calm, silent, observant. :shock:

I like the reference to the beauty of it all. I think it was Buddha, wasn't it?, who said that initially, everything is not what it appears to be, but upon further investigation, everything is exactly what it appears to be. Seeing the circuitous route S and I have personally taken, the wonder of it all is that we venture forth, seeking everything "out there" only to end up finding it all "in here" where we started. If you consider the external passage through life of each individual, it is an archetypal illustration of this very process, but externally applied through physical growth and experience. First the child who is absorbed in its very world and is, by its lights, the source of all of it, then the adolescent, then the adult, and then the return to child-like inner perceptions and cognition. I suppose that is a good example of as above, so below. You could run with this stream forever - e.g. how one gets caught on a rock in that stream - remains a child, remains an adolescent, even remains an adult, fighting the progress toward re-absorption by its source. But then again, many of us love that obstructive rock - we love the rebellion, the authority, the power, all the gifts of each stage of life, and most of us are afraid of the absorption and the surrender of the child to its world and thus to its apparent lack of power.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth


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