20.  Driving Carefully

You have been in Cafh a long time, and I'm sure your ideas about spiritual life have changed since you began. Looking back, would you say that spiritual life has dealt you some surprises? If so, would you like to share some with us.

I’d have to say that one of the most surprising things about spiritual life was that being on a spiritual path is not a "linear" experience.

What I mean is that at first I imagined spiritual unfolding to be a process of personal perfection where I would pass through particular stages or conquer certain unwanted behaviors in a particular sequence. I would go from point "A" to point "B" to point "C", and so forth, as if I were traveling a route on a road map. Once having traveled past point "A," I’d never have to see it again.

I was quite wrong about that. First of all, I think that thinking of this work as a process of personal perfection results in having an objective that gets in the way of something I now set my sights on, which is to clean up whatever there might be about me that gets in the way of me simply being a point of expression of Divine love. If I’m concentrating on perfecting myself, then subconsciously I’m looking for myself to shine, but if I’m concentrating on sort of getting out of the way, I’m truly looking to bring more of a sense of heaven down to earth.

Also, if I’m working on some attitudes, feelings, thoughts or behaviors that are inconsistent with how I want to be, I’ve now recognized that it’s hardly ever the case that something is vanquished, never to be heard from again. I see in myself and in others that if a soul has a particular tendency that needs to be dealt with, it’s likely that this tendency will be something that must be dealt with time and again. Instead of a process of becoming perfect and never seeing point "A" again after having passed it, we’re engaged in a process of keeping some weeds in check, and we have to revisit our garden again and again to re-weed so that the flowers we love can grow well.

Let me illustrate with an anecdote I was told. A man was driven over some distance by a person newly introduced to him. At the end of the journey, the passenger complimented the driver. "You put me at ease because you are one of the most careful drivers I’ve ever had." The driver responded, "I drive as carefully as I can, because I have a tendency to be careless."