Saturday, February 21, 2015

Real Work

What seems so solid -- cars, houses, body, wealth, status -- according to some teachers, is really passing, impermanent, and illusion.

That's a tough idea for me, but one that is gaining some traction as my body begins to fail.

Life is still a scramble to keep up with expenses, to earn enough to have some fun in this life.

But once I have a roof, some food, and enough clothes to keep from freezing, I have this gnawing desire to wonder about big stuff, life questions, what it means to be a better human.

I see now that I could not work at jobs that did not have at least a little time devoted to these kinds of questions. I could not spend my days counting beans or tightening lug nuts or testing proteins in a lab. I wanted to read literature and be around people who thought about such things.

Those pursuits can get annoyingly esoteric for sure, but I just could not let that hope go.

Ultimately it comes home to the individual. How do I become a better human?

How do I be more honest, more caring, more balanced? How do I better show emotion and love? How do I help others when I am so afraid I won't be able to save myself?

How, exactly, to become a better human is something of a mystery. The great stories talk about meeting demons, of dying to old ways, of finding a chalice or golden fleece. None of the real work is easy. Breaking down fear, greed, anger, and rigidity is a good place to start. Some people call that the egoic self, and that self does not go quietly. It has vested interests in keeping the illusions in charge.

There are many stories, many paths, but none can do the work for you. It comes to rest on the spark of shared humanity. Each of us has to find out way. 

So, after all these years, I am finally beginning to see what the real work is.

I feel the fool for having wasted so much time chasing ghosts.

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