Lately I’ve been uplifted by Matthew Fox’s daily meditations on Julian of Norwich, Thomas Aquinas and Meister Eckhart.
For a while I thought that I should pursue the magic key that would unlock the hearts and minds of people who are fearful and intolerant. I find myself reaching for some substantial evidence of the goodness of people, an empirical truth. Of course, there is no such thing, there’s only narrative that resonates within us. So the value of a message is not its scientific solidity but its resonance. Which is not to say that a scientific argument can’t have a resonant beauty. It reaches you or it doesn’t. It’s “the pick of words that tell the truth” as Witter Bynner translates Lao Tzu.
It’s dawning on me that my energy is better placed in the service of strengthening the hearts of those who dedicate their energy to the blossoming of love.
I did a little dance to avoid using the word should. I said my energy is “better placed” instead of “should be placed.” There’s a prejudice against the word “should” due, I think, to its admonitory quality. It’s a word that has been used to enforce dogma and so carries with it the implication of authoritarianism. The inner “should” became confused with the outer should. The word when properly used implies a preference for a specific action arrived at through deliberation. My energy would be better placed and therefore I should do it.
I notice another problem with the word, which is its implication of a time lapse. It implies that the action will be taken at a future time. We have an understanding now that we are transformed in the very moment of a decision. In the very moment that I realize my calling I am in fact participating in it, In the words of Lao Tzu “The way to do is to be.”
There is no doubt a state of being in which action flows without the force, and subsequent impedance of thought. The analogy is to electricity that encounters resistance in the wires on its way to supplying power. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that there’s a state in which energy flows through us without impedance. I think this is the state Csikszentmihalyi describes in his seminal book “Flow”. This state arrives when we are immersed in an activity in which we have sufficient mastery of an instrument to manifest a true expression. Artistic activity comes to mind, but the instrument can as easily be a hoe or a needle or a body. That mastery entails practice. I should practice. I am practicing.