Monday, January 25, 2010

Make No Progress Today

"Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it," is a pretty famous line from the Bible, the book of Psalms to be exact. It was written by a famous wise man, King Solomon, of "split the baby" fame.
The Bible is chockfull of wisdom, without doubt. But I'm much more comfortable these days quoting a line from the Tao Te Ching: A New English Version (Perennial Classics) than I am quoting from the Bible (though I know it very well) because so much of what is said about the Bible is sectarian; that is, religion in service to the ego, as Eckhart Tolle puts it in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose (Oprah's Book Club, Selection 61).
"We're right, they're wrong." And, "We're saved, you're not . . . but you could be!" That's sectarian, that's religion in service to the ego.
The reaction of most people to sectarian writing is to tune it out, and that's probably as it should be. So how better to support a title like "Make No Progress Today" than to write something most people will disregard!
Our culture is obsessed with progress and it leads only to anxiety. When I talk about anxiety, I mean a particular negative sensation in our bodies. Eliminate those thoughts that are geared toward progress in our lives, geared toward "advancing the ball," so to speak, and we eliminate those negative sensations in our bodies. If we practice this, life will continue just as it did before, but we will feel a lot better while participating in it.
The obvious corollary to the above quote is that if the LORD build the house, the builder need not do ANYTHING. The LORD of this passage doesn't need any help building the house. Understand this with your heart. This is something we all can tap into.
When we try to live life instead of allowing Life--we can call this God, Universal Intelligence, The Good--to live us, that's when anxiety begins to creep in. Instead, we can let Life live us and watch the house go up. In Christian circles, the aphorism in general usage is, "Let go and let God."
This is in part what meditation is about. For those brief few moments in our day, we sit down, clear our minds and don't do anything. We don't make any progress at all. How peaceful that is!
When I allow this aspect of meditation to suffuse my whole day, the natural result is that I'm focused on the moment, with a concomitant absence of anxiety about the future. Yes, life can be this way all the time.
The real paradox is that the more I meditate--the more I let go and let God--the more positive progress I see in my life.
And if I choose to enjoy some recreation--a movie or an ice cream or a full-on vacation--it is as a libation, an offering to the Builder that is building my house while I enjoy watching the progress of it, moment by moment.

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