Lately, I have been busy with things. I’ve had my attention occupied with things coming, things going, things changing – all the while feeling this vague sense of discomfort and absence, for lack of a better word, that comes with having your attention consumed by the world of form for too long.
It is a draining sense of being away from home somehow, so I guess you could say I’m feeling a little road weary.
When you’ve been away from home like this, the return is so welcome and comforting that you wonder why you ever went away in the first place. But this is what we do.
We leave home, leave ourselves, first of all as we grow up and take on the burdens of social conditioning. This is what most people must go through, and then try to find their way back. Back to innocence, you could say, or back to their natural state of being.
Whatever you want to call it, it feels like returning home. And this is what all spiritual teaching is about; to lead you back to that place, providing signposts that point the way back to where you came from.
Finding Yourself In The World
This process of becoming lost in the world, the process of growing up, is then repeated as a pattern throughout one’s life. And to those on the spiritual path, this ebb and flow of finding your way and then becoming lost again will probably sound very familiar.
Taking two steps forward and one step back, we all know what that is like.
When we become lost in the world, it is because too much of our attention is given to the surface, and not enough to the essence. We become fascinated with noise, and forget about the silence that lies beneath and beyond it.
This then takes the form of increased mental noise and compulsive thinking, which gains momentum and keeps us floating on the surface.
At some point, because you have already known what it is like not being lost, there will come a time where you feel a desire to return back home. Being more or less lost like this is normal to the majority of mankind, and many people can be away from home like this all their lives while remaining relatively peaceful and happy.
But when you have had a glimpse of freedom, it will be impossible for you to be lost without suffering. The desire to return home can be felt as anything from vague unease to a painful sense of pressure, and however it manifests there is absolutely no way of ignoring it.
Nor would you want to ignore it. Because you know that being lost in things is not what you want, however easy and comfortable it may seem in movies and magazines.
Travel down that road and you will always find yourself disappointed, frustrated and uneasy. Which is most likely why you are reading this right now.
The Mysterious Momentum
This pattern I mentioned earlier, the ebb and flow, is the strangest thing. It’s amazing how easy it is to get distracted, to get lost, over and over again, even if you know that it is not what you want.
The world has a very strong pull, and the momentum of thinking we’ve inherited in our conditioning means that it doesn’t take much to send us wandering off the path.
Ultimately, the suffering we encounter when walking in the wrong direction is what keeps us coming back, and the more lost we get the more we suffer. At first, we tend to get completely lost, suffer greatly and then find our way back in a flash of insight, perhaps. All very dramatic.
But further along the path, there comes a point where the movement is relatively gentle. As I’m experiencing it now, I don’t get lost enough in the world so that I hit a point of suffering that then bounces me back.
The movement is slower. There is peace, and presence, but a persistent tendency to get carried away with form.
A word that keeps coming to me in relation to this is vigilance. And what I recognize I must do, and what you may want to do also, is to increase the level of dedication.
Cultivate discipline; not in the sense of forcing it using willpower – that is the ego at work – but rather as a sense of sobriety and deliberate intent.
It feels good to return home.
This article was originally published on Everyday Wonderland. Reprinted with permission.