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Seeking 1: Female seeking seeking

I thought I’d be enlightened by now.

 I don’t mean that metaphorically as in: “I imagined that with age would come a certain wisdom.”

 No, I fully expected the sitting in the lotus position-on-a-mountain-top type enlightenment, the mantra-chanting-vibrating-with-the-universal-life-force spiritual awakening sort. Maybe a little levitation or an apparition would be involved. Nothing too showy, you know, just one of the minor miracles.

 I started meditating at age 18 in the ‘70s. Back then most middle Americans still considered such behavior weird, a hoax played on the gullible at best, and a sinister mind-control trick used by cult leaders at worse. To complicate matters, they were sometimes right. So I mostly kept quiet about meditation. But I continued practicing it twice daily year-after-year for decades with the exception of a few months after the birth of my second child when it seemed every time I tried to sit quietly and meditate I simply fell asleep. My world did not fall apart during that hiatus. But after a few months I returned to meditating. I felt better when I did so. My husband, who has never meditated, supported me in this endeavor. I like to think it’s because he loves me and respects my personal space but it may also be because, apparently, I got a little bitchy when I did not meditate. Yes, he frequently took full responsibility for the children for 20- minute stretches while I spent time with a mantra.  And I reciprocated when he went on long bike rides, watched televised sports, or played league bocci ball which I found exactly as exciting as watching grass grow. In November.  Our young daughters accepted their mama’s habit as routine and would sometimes come and sit in my lap, or “read” quietly beside me until the word didn’t need the quote marks. They grew up and eventually out. Through the years I occasionally met people new to meditation who spoke openly, and I thought arrogantly, of their imminent enlightenment. It didn’t matter if they’d been introduced to the practice through a friend, guru, Zen master, clergyman, therapist, new age enthusiast or the Dali Lama himself. I would nod knowingly and smile serenely and remind them of the Buddha’s wise words: The journey is the destination. 

 Yep, I was smug little snot.

 But karma has a way of slapping one upside the head – hard -- so in recent years a different phrase has wormed its way into my thoughts. Instead of the ethereal the journey is the destination I hear an annoying Am I there yet? Am I there yet? No? How about now?  Why not? And, most terrifying of all: What if this is as good as it gets?

 Big, big, shudder.

 I’ve been a seeker for a long time.

 Before, and in addition to, the regular meditation practice, I also sought psychedelics, mediums, hypnosis, psychoanalysis, chemical and metaphysical healing, not to mention eight formative years at The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary alternately praying for miraculous proof of a God and begging the same deity for deliverance from a religious calling. My main reason? I hated those black habits. Ha!  In the name of fashion I’ve since donned more black than a convent of nuns in mourning.

 The point is, I was way back then, and remain today, a seeker of sorts.

I worked for almost 20 years as a feature journalist for a daily newspaper, and then spent two years as a managing editor of a small magazine. A few weeks ago, the publisher announced the elimination of editorial positions and the transition of the publication to an advertorial model. I was, as the English say, made redundant.

I’ve written thousands of articles over the years. My work has been published in newspapers and magazine nationwide. It appears on several Web sites. I’ve been lucky to have several short stories included in literary anthologies. I’ve been the recipient of numerous journalism awards and a few fellowships and grants for literary fiction. I’m working on a novel.

But I’ve rarely written about this sometimes awkward mostly ernest semi-spiritual path of seeking.

This blog, starting March 22, 2013, is my attempt to do just that.

Comments? Would love to hear about your journey. Or your belief that it is all a bunch of horse hooey. 

Maybe it will be enlightening?

 

Comments
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A Fellow Seeker

Remarkable entry.  It's a pleasure to meet a fellow seeker.  I've sought mostly in religion, then philosophy, then reading and, now, writing, but I've always been a seeker.  It's wonderful to put a finger on that pulse, as I've never quite put it together in my head like that.

I've had problems with mantras, too.  Mostly I can't control them.  Meditation has been an epic fail because of that, the failure to control my own thoughts.  Shockingly bad ones seep in, of the Is this as good as it gets? variety, and it all comes to a halt.  Or, I just fall asleep.  It got so bad that sleeping was a victory, of sorts.

I'm still seeking, and trying.  Tomorrow my mantra will be This will be the one.  I hope it is.

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To fellow seeker

I know that feeling of monkey chatter brain! I like the approach of gently going back to the mantra in a non-scolding, non-judgemental way; not control exactly as thoughts still wander but more in a dreamlike way.

Reading and writing as a form of seeking -- yes! Me too. Some people read just as escape, I guess, but I think a lot of us look to books that have something to say. My first: Hans Christian Andersen. A priest visiting from Denmark read the stories aloud to our third grade class and I was mesmerized especially by moral dilemma of The Little Mermaid.  Nothing like the Disney version.

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Seeking Golden Kinship

 

I’ve always had role models before me that heartened my way. They were my parents, teachers at school, bosses at work, and my in-laws. Authority over me grounded me and gave me dignity. I now realize the greater impact that these role models had on me that helped structure my life. 

 

Most of them have been now passed-on to the next life. All the while, their priceless treasures remained with me. Extraordinary as it seems, all of my role models were in their golden years when they left me with their richness. That I thrive having them to look up today.

 

After thirty-some-years-of-seeking, while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures, and inspirational books, including A Course in Miracles, Am I there yet? The answers are hidden in all my relationships. I believe that any one of us is transported there when we bring God into our conversations. It’s been the simplest and freeing mystery that I found. 

 

Role models: It’s pretty amazing how I’m finally catching on to them, now that I’m in my golden years. This must have been sound wisdom that is timeless and true that encompasses our kinship. That it leaves me with so many possibilities to make use of my studies in word and deed that they imparted to me by Grace. Thus, I would hopefully one day arrive and exalt another, as they have done for me. 

 

For me, this is as good as it gets that feels so sound and true. 

 

Thank you so much for your beautifully written post! This is highly ingenious and radiant!  I hope to pass on something that is meaningful to you, and meets our kinship, as well.  Since, I’m also a seeker of sorts. 

Love,

Catherine 

 

 

 

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Golden Kinship

Thank-you for your comments. It's fascinating and surprising and good for me to hear from someone expressing a positive experience with authority. My instinct, especially when young, was always to rebel against it and I often did myself more harm than good. My first thought was; well, Catherine got lucky with role models. But, of course, it's not that at all. It's that you had the instinct and later the wisdom to understand that the answers are hidden in all my relationships. Something I'm just beginning to get.

Another reason I am so happy you commented: Part of my authority issue is Christianity. It can bug me because it strikes me as judgemental. In other words,  I was judging others for being judgemental!  Thanks for gently opening my eyes.

I'm grateful to be reminded that seekers find their own paths and my smorgasbord approach is just one way.

You are wise.

Thank-you.