Our modern day cultures seem to be preoccupied with telling people what to know rather than how to know, what to do rather than how to do, what to see rather than how to see, what to be rather than how to be. As I look over my many decades of life, most of the ‘formal’ education from others was about the culturally accepted ‘whats’ and silence about the ‘hows.’ It was only when I went out beyond the wrongdoings and right-doings of my cultural conditioning that the hows of life’s teachings were learned. Did you have a similar experience?
In reflection, I’m amazed at how the mystery of life gets trampled and plundered by decades of unenlightened constrictive education. I’m even more amazed at how some of us are able to transcend it by striking out beyond our conditioning to discover different questions and answers through our own unique experiences of life. Are you one of the few who transcended the parochial and tribal education of your early days? Did you step away long enough to experience the many varieties of life trajectories available to expand the narrowness you were taught?
How about living primitively in the mountains for months, ranching on the plains, being a house-keeper, wait-staff person or driving a delivery truck or cab in the city to get soiled with the grit of life? These activities and experiences enhance knowing, doing, seeing and being in ways no graduate degree can. Maybe it’s hitchhiking, sleeping in fields, hopping freight trains, asking for handouts or retreating in a monastery for a time. These are all class-rooms for learning life’s mysteries.‘When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.”
Mastery and mystery come together when we make choices for ourselves that draw us beyond the limitations set up for us by others. So many of us are pampered from birth, protected and told how dangerous it is ‘out there.’ Fear begins to run our lives so we develop an aversion to risk. We become domesticated and happy to be fed the pablum of our cultural conditioning. The opportunities to escape this slow death of isolationism however are available to us.
The first step in mastery is having the Courage to leave your comfortable nest and learn how to sweep floors, both literally and metaphorically. This allows you to let go of your programmed thoughts and learn ‘Beginners Mind’. Every career change from leaving home, school, and job will ask you to start over in some way. You’ll have to learn new skill sets, become teachable, humble, willing and comfortable with gifts differing again. It’s always an opportunity for growth.
The second step is to bring Optimism to whatever you’re seeing, being and doing. Believe in yourself and be receptive to the Benevolent Something that’s ever present in you. Be willing to ‘walk the mile and bear the load.’ Have an intention to learn whatever is placed in front of you and be willing to let the most meager of things inspire you to greatness. Expect subtle miracles and be inspired by your inner challenges and accomplishments no matter how large or small.
Finally, no matter what, learn to love what you do so you can eventually do what you love in the here and now moments of life. The more you love and learn from what’s right in front of you the more you’ll be embraced by Life’s mystery. Stay the course for the necessary time. Listen, love, learn and laugh with wonder, wisdom and delight. Continue to ask: “What does this moment ask of me?” Here mastery and mystery converge. Here you can taste and see. HERE YOU ARE. . .