Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bedtime Inspiration

Place your mind before the mirror of eternity;
place your soul in the brightness of His Glory.
– Saint Clare of Assisi

We are shaped by what gains our attention and occupies our thoughts. Today, amidst all of the conditioning to the contrary, we need constant reminders of our higher nature, and that is why spiritual reading can be very helpful. The media drown us in such a low image of the human being that it is essential to remind ourselves constantly of something higher.

All of the world’s religions provide nourishment for the spirit distilled from centuries of spiritual exploration. It is a wise investment of time to take half an hour or so each day for reading from the scriptures and the writings of the great mystics of all religions. Just before bedtime is a particularly good time, because the thoughts you fall asleep in will be with you throughout the night.

Our consciousness takes on the color of what we think about. By reading the words of a favorite saint or mystic, we imbue our mind with thoughts that are beautiful, true, and full of light.
--Eknath Easwaran

When my wife and I go to bed at night, we have the habit of turning on the local news. As you know only too well, the news is often not very pleasant. There are unsettling and often tragic stories of stabbings, shootings, rapes, child abuse, robberies, car crashes, and homicides. If Easwaran is right, we carry these awful stories with us into the world of sleep and are influenced by them in deep and unwholesome ways, raising our quotients of distrust, fear, anger, and hatred.

Now there's no denying that the world is a dangerous place where bad things happen to a lot of people, and we would probably be remiss if we didn't remain aware of the threats existing in our communities, nation, and world. However, if Easwaran's right, the night time is not the right time to foster that awareness. Bedtime is the time to drink from the wellspring of the world's profound wisdom and connect with the Source of Goodness, Truth, and Beauty within and without and let THAT accompany us into our sleep and dreams and comfort, shape, and revitalize us for the challenges and trials of waking life.

I suspect that Easwaran is right about this, and it's simple enough to try it out. Just go to bed, leave the TV off, and pick up the Gita, the Tao Te Ching, the Dhammapada, the Bible, or some other great sacred text and read in peace and quiet for a few minutes before turning off the light and closing your eyes, and see what happens over the course of time. The spiritual path can involve rigorous disciplines, but it can also employ such simple measures as forsaking the nightly news for a bedtime reading of scripture.

I intend to do this. Hopefully, my wife will be happy to do it with me.


Counter Mag said...

Ever thought of fuckin' the ole' lady as bedtime inspiration?

Counter Mag said...