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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fast paced

Recently I attended a short, two-day retreat with Tamie. James Finley led the sessions. It was an enriching time, and I would like to blog a bit in this and some of the upcoming posts on a few of the thoughts that I took away.

In walking meditation, the pace is slow.

Extremely slow.

So slow that you wobble a bit. But, hey, if you are walking in a group, then you all wobble together.


In the system, life tends to move at a breakneck pace. Time is money. We drive cars in order to get as fast as we can from one place to the next. Efficiency is greater productivity is profit.

And yet I think that moving fast in and of itself is not necessarily the root of the problem. For example, I can go on long, fast bike rides in the country. I move a lot faster than I move during walking meditation, and I move even faster than sitting meditation (where I don't move at all!) And during these bike rides, there is something about the consistent rhythm of the ride that is very conducive to moments of contemplation and awakening.

So, there is something deeper than just the pacing.

A person can watch television for an entire afternoon or evening and maintain a very slow pace.

There is something more than saying, "everyone just needs to slow down." No matter what our pacing might be, we can still remain numb, defensive, and closed. For someone who experiences a deep sense of awakening, they will have a deep appreciation for speed, for the beauty that belongs to the fast pace.

But still, it seems that something happens in the slowness, something is realized. There is no formula for spiritual awakening, for the work of the spirit.

What exactly it is that is happening is a bit difficult to understand, let alone describe, but it seems to have something to do with opening a space within which the spirit of awakening can take place.

James Finley said that the artist cannot make art happen. The lover cannot make love happen. Who understands how the art reveals itself to the artist? Who understand how love opens itself to the lovers?

That we cannot make ourselves spiritually awake does not mean that we do nothing to better understand it. We "assume the stance of least resistance," as Finley puts it. There is a recognition that something is already happening, that something can happen to deepen our spirits and souls, to become awake to the spirit of God within. The question then becomes, "How can I cooperate with what is happening in my heart?"

How can I assume the stance of least resistance?

It seems similar to Paul's perspective on spirituality: put off the "old man" and put on the "new man." (See Ephesians 4:22-24) We are asked to do that which is out of our control. We are asked to relinquish the obsession with change and rely on something which is beyond our ability to grasp. The "work" is a letting go. The effort seems to be in simply trusting.

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