Simpler Living

I’m current re-reading “Simpler Living Compassionate Life”. Having lurked on my shelf for way too many years, some of my current questions called me back to this. Looking over some of the essays, it’s clear how much an influence this has had on my life. I wrote an essay, years ago, on “Enough”, and I see the early stirring of those notions here. The most recent essay I read, “Entering the Emptiness” (Gerald May), though, deeply challenged me.

Most of the piece connects solidly with my years of zen practice. The notion of space, external and internal, as sacred, something to value speak clearly to me. Embracing the noise of the mind and letting the random echos simply be. These are all things I’ve heard as guidance. One piece, though, haunts me. Abandoning the quest for fulfillment.

May labels, as myth, that “[i]if you are well adjusted, and if you are living your life properly, you will feel fulfilled, satisfied, content and serene”. This myth, I now see, lies deep within me. Also, I still find the lingering “if we are not completely happy…it is because we are somehow not right with God”. I see I must embrace that I’m not a machine. Any sense of dissatisfaction, of frustration, of confusion is not “unhealthy”. I think I see what makes this a myth.

Often, I’ve felt that I’m only on the “right” path when everything is aligned, things run smooth. When there are obstacles, tension, frustration then I’m out of alignment with God/the Universe/Force. May’s piece reminds me that, no, this is myth, too. That difficultly is not, well, this. That the madness and confusion is normal. And I can co-exist within this tension.

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