Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Lose the Map

Our spirituality is often a story that we tell ourselves about how we and the world exist.  It calms our fears when we are challenged and disheartened, it gives us hope in times of pain and sorrow.  If our spirituality is a map then we think we have found a good one.  In fact, it is quite comforting that we have this trustworthy map. 

Buddhism has a very well documented map.  The Buddhist map to enlightenment has layer upon layer of detail.  The cartography of this path is unparalleled, giving both the general overlay of the land as well as 3D views.  It is the Google Earth of spiritual maps. 

In its vastness and profound detail we can be lulled into a content torpor, our ego intoxicated by the intricacies of such a supreme vehicle.  We can feel secure going about our habitual mode of existence because we carry this map around, at any moment justifying our location with astute logic and reasoning.  Not only that, but we can describe in quite detail places in which we have never been, never seen with our own eyes. 

The real challenge with actually traveling the path to enlightenment is that at some point you need to throw out the map.  The only common trait among the numerous Buddhas and enlightened masters that have gone before us is that they made their own map based on integrating the teachings with their own mind.  Every situation was different.  There was different terrain, different obstacles and different cultural conditions. 

You can't follow someone else's map to gain awakening.  You need to make your life the map, each and every step. 

So toss out that map you have been hanging onto.  Look around, what is the lay of the land?  Where are you at this very moment? 

Keep your senses open, your mind calm.  Always walk with mindfulness and discipline.  Arm yourself with patience and all the grit you can muster.

Enjoy your hike!

ps. If you need help packing your bags we can help you with that one, the rest is up to you.

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