By Ben Riggs
I have been in a dry spell for well over six months now. It is painful. I cannot write, meditation seems misplaced or emaciated, prayer is mechanical. I feel disconnected.
There is no solution. The solution—meditation, writing, and prayer—seems as trite as drinking a soda or watching a funny movie. There is no where to turn. It seems hopeless and hopelessness is terrifying. At times I tremble because there are no words, and words are the great anesthetic. They have the capacity to distance me from the piercing immediacy Reality.
Interestingly enough it is this terror that lets me know I am exactly where I am suppose to be.
It is almost as if the soul is de-toxing— a Dark Night, of sorts. On a dark night there is only one light, honesty, which means that the shroud of darkness has been cast by deception.
As my life unfolds my egos adapt. They evolve, incorporating the body’s wisdom into their conscious framework. The articulation of insight—what the ego thinks about Being—becomes just another credential or means of identification. Before long, I have migrated from the life of the body into the arid and desolate wasteland of a false image.
There is no creativity and inspiration; only stagnant slogans and feeble spiritual technologies used to embalm and preserve the false image. The ego is forever trying to maintain comfort and destroy discomfort. But at a certain point in the human journey we must learn to relate to our discomfort or explore the world beyond the basic limitations imposed by the ego.
I imprison myself when I refuse to acknowledge the world extending itself beyond my conscious system of identification. The ego seeks to maximize pleasure and reduce discomfort. A “spiritual ego” tries to do this using “spiritual technologies” like meditation, prayer, yoga, etc. I trap myself when I refuse to acknowledge the impotence of this strategy—the simple fact that all the spiritual practices in the world cannot organize life into one great big thrill ride, devoid of uncomfortable experiences.
Suffering is what fuels the spiritual journey, because it is what invites us to open up or get honest. Suffering makes it impossible to pretend that we have our shit together. It breaks down our pretenses and forces us to see our how futile all of our planning and strategizing have been. That there is safety or security to be won. Suffering opens our eyes and forces us to see that we are fundamentally vulnerable. Suffering, the dark night, invites us to be honest. This willingness to be honest reconnects us with reality, with the present moment. It enables us to rejoin our journey.
The human journey is not about escaping the darkness, but learning how to shine light on those dark corners of our life. Basic honesty is our lamp. Basic honesty is incredibly practical. You cannot see. You cannot figure it out. It is like being in a strange house during a power outage; all you can do is slowly feel your way through the living room. This feeling through is the meaning of faith or basic honesty. It is trust.
Every journey begins in darkness or confusion. It is about working with the confusion, not obliterating it.
We’ll be sharing this one with friends on the (sometimes rough) journey to enlightenment, will you?
Guest Columnist Ben Riggs
You can catch Ben putting his perspective on the spiritual path at Web of Enlightenment - one of our favorite blogs. It’s high on honesty, low on bullish*t. Find out more about Ben here and be sure to visit him on Facebook and Twitter.