Have to Choose

I found a wonderful book called A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield, a psychotherapist who trained as a Buddhist monk.

I just finished chapter 3 which deals with the importance of going far along one path rather than simply dabbling. His analogy: “It is as if we were to dig many shallow wells instead of one deep one.”

He is very careful not to judge any path as better than any other; “…it is crucial to understand that there are many ways up the mountain — that there is never just one true way.”

His criteria for choosing seems to be contained in this sentence: “We need to choose a way of practice that is deep and ancient and connected with our hearts, and then make a commitment to follow it as long as it takes to transform ourselves.”

I completely resonate with his advice and his approach to spiritual growth, but I always end up in the same place – what to choose? According to his suggestion one’s discipline needs to be “ancient,” which precludes making something up. Unless what was made up was composed of ancient elements.

But none of the established spiritual paths sings to me. I do not feel called, drawn, welcomed, inspired, beckoned, or otherwise pulled or pushed, either by an outer or an inner force, in any particular direction far enough to call it my path.

I can recognize that in my life, I’ve dug many, many shallow wells. None has struck any more water than can allow a brief taste of sweetness. I want to dig a deep well, beyond roots and rocks to the fiery core.

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2 responses to “Have to Choose

  1. This post has really stuck with me. I just started re-reading Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore, so I’m guessing that psychotherapists with a religious bent must be what I really need right now. This idea of sticking with something long enough for it to change you… it seems really right. I do feel lately as if I’m in serious need of some spiritual nurturing. My problem is that I’m an atheist. It seems like there’s very little spirituality that isn’t caught up with the idea of deity or at least generic “higher power”. It’s a stumbling block for me. I’d like to throw myself into ancient teachings, traditional ritual, soulful daily practice… but I can’t get serious about it if there’s an invisible someone/something I’m supposed to be connecting to. It’s a dilemma.

    • I think this is why Buddhism appeals to me, because there isn’t really a someone/something. Just a Oneness that is every face and faceless at the same time. I also like Taoism because the Oneness is like The Force. There is no personality or gender, it’s just the underlying and all-pervading energy and connection. It’s not “higher” or “more” or “bigger,” because it’s All and Each.

      I also appreciate that each of these traditions are really big on personal responsibility and have clear safeguards against dogma and blind submission to authority.

      If you get a chance to read a translation of the Tao Te Ching, let me know what you think.

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