Sunday, December 07, 2008

Overcoming Poverty of the Spirit

And I marveled to find that at last I loved you and not some phantom instead of you; and I did not hesitate to enjoy my God, but was ravished to you by your beauty.
– Saint Augustine

To deepen our love, to unify our desires, the Lord – the Self within – on occasion gives us a fleeting taste of the joy of union. Once we taste this joy, all we want is to be permanently aware of him in everyone, everywhere, every minute. This intense longing is the mark of genuine spiritual experience.

At the same time we experience the joy of union, we see clearly the great mass of self-will that weighs us down and keeps us from our most cherished goal.

Yet none of us need feel disheartened. Remember how even great figures like Saint Augustine almost despaired when they saw how powerful was the pull of selfish satisfaction. That is our human conditioning, and it is no reason to give up. All of us can learn to reduce our excess baggage.
Eknath Easwaran

If I'd ever had Easwaran's "fleeting taste of the joy of union" with the Lord, perhaps I would hunger and strive with all my heart to know it permanently. But I have not, and so I do not.

How can I, and how do I? By meditating and contemplating enough? How much is enough? And how does one do enough without the inspiration of which Easwaran writes? Just as one needs money or other resources in order to earn more money, doesn't one also need to feel inspired in order to make an enduring effort to make big spiritual gains? I often feel like a man who is too poor to become rich.

I don't say this because I am depressed or demoralized; I say it because I don't know what to do, yet, I continue to look for it.

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