To Be in this World But Not of It

Every once in a while, I find myself pondering the meaning of one of the greatest teachings in most spiritual traditions. That is, how to be in this world, but not of it...

The more we delve deeply into spiritual practices, the more we notice emerging differences in ourselves, perhaps very subtle at first, that become more established in our behavior and practices over the course of time. Things that once mattered, seem to do so, even less, and less, as time goes on...

I considered this, as I visited the river this morning, on a day that was sunny and warmer, even though there was still some crispness in the air. The sky was blue, and the river itself more reminiscent of a plate of glass on which birds seems to skate artfully and effortlessly, oblivious to everything and everyone.

I soaked in the stillness and the quiet, remembering how Adyashanti, a well known and beloved spiritual teacher, often suggests that we should try to find some time for stillness and quiet in our quotidian endeavors.

As years upon years of spiritual practice accumulate, one notices more calm, less desire, more attentiveness, and hopefully, much more compassion in oneself...

Years of Loving-kindness practice can make one less angry and resentful, and more loving, and more accepting of those who have hurt us the most. 

Years of spiritual practice can shift our perception and understanding - and broaden our perspectives. At times, it leads to profound changes in how we see and engage the world - spiritually, politically, and economically. We begin to see and understand the ramifications of our deeds and words in ways that others fail to note in themselves...

Years of spiritual practice enable us to cling less to material things that we once thought would bring us happiness - the bigger home, a larger diamond, whatever it may be for each one of us. Yes, I could go on and on...

This week in my yoga classes, I spoke of making a commitment to refraining from harm and all that such a commitment would imply in our relationships to others and to ourselves as well.

It is not wise or useful to have regrets, but as I look back now, there are definitely some things I would do more, given the fruit of my own personal spiritual disciplines and what I have learned as a result...

I would be more conscious of the consequences of my words and actions. I would try to repair torn relationships - sooner - rather than later. I would be more responsible for my actions. I would hoard less. And I would spend less - and save more. I would live more simply. I would be more compassionate - towards others, and myself. I would be more present and attentive. I would be there for those in need and those I love and those I have difficulty with. I would try to see the blessings and lessons in so many experiences in my life, particularly those that I perceive as difficult. I would try to see things as others see them. I would try to see things as they are - not as I am. I would be more accepting and more open. I would seize the day, the moment, and opportunities more. I would be more fearless and willing to try more things. I would be more spontaneous...

These are just a few of the things that would enable me to more fully be in this world - but not of it. They would enable me to live more freely. The good thing is, it's never too late to start again, for each day brings that gift to us!

Today, consider what would enable you to live more fully in this world - but not enslaved to its temptations and the many empty pleasures it offers. Consider that which gives your life more meaning, and seek it with all your might!

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