Saturday, February 1, 2014

the enlightened state of spontaneity

one feels that all philosophies, zen, & yoga are ways of approaching wisdom & "enlightenment" -- they are ways of approaching an enlightened state in which one's behavior is always or almost always "spontaneously" right.
~ robert lax


  1. From my experience it takes much practice/time to be spontaneous and right--it is infrequent. Yoga and sitting and centering help. Reading Rohr and Merton and Lax and several poets help.

    1. … or it could be just a matter of being a gift of grace. nothing we can do to earn it or make it happen.

    2. You're right. I made it sound like a job, which it isn't. Can't earn it! I do think, however, practicing mindfulness may lead to an emptiness and receptiveness and allow new behaviors to emerge. Grace is there if we're open to it; in the therapy office, the counselor offers this "grace"--support, compassion, and guidance.

    3. I have to agree with you, Beth. At the end of the day it's all about grace.

      But in my own experience, for most of us, we have to prepare for it by exerting some effort. To put it in an old-fashioned way: we have to dispose ourselves for God's grace to enter into our lives.

      I can speak of my experience in Zen where we are encouraged to sit regularly, and attend as much as possible intensive Zen retreats where we sit for as much as 10 hours a day! But at the end of the day the Zen experience is, at least to my point of view, is given as a gift. So much so, though it is very rare, at least according to my Zen teacher, a few fortunate souls have come to experience of enlightenment without any prior meditation practice!

      I think, if I'm not mistaken, that's what is also taught in Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer is just a means to prepare for the Christian contemplative experience. The Christian contemplative experience is always given as a gift of God's grace...

    4. Me too. I HAVE TO set aside time for silence and meditation otherwise I get very nutty. Sometimes I think it is especially true for introverts, and just an aspect of my personality. Too much talk and being out there literally wears me out. One of the reasons that I love centering prayer groups is because I can be with people and the whole experience is centered around being quiet with people. Not having to talk to each other. I have never been on an extended silent retreat (well, one a long time ago), but the very notion is very attractive to me. Cultivated silence, when silence is the point.

      I've also noticed more recently in my life that I can make an exercise of PRESENCE just about anywhere and anytime. Listen, be there, look at what is. But I have to know to remember to do it, otherwise I get sucked back down into a place of just moving along, a kind of unaware sleep-walking.

      But, like Matt, I'm figuring out too that it's really not about me and my efforts and successes or failures. It's about emptiness.

  2. This was on the word for the day website this morning, pertinent to the current discussion, a nice metaphor: The winds of grace blow all the time. All we need to do is set our sails. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Gospel of Ramakrishna

    1. I like that, James. Very much like one of my Lax favorites: "Be in the place where grace can flow to you."

  3. 2Cents ____________________

    Enlightenment is not a mystical experience
    nor a state of grace as commonly thought , it is ones
    personal experience of the realization that life is a progression of
    dissatisfaction ,loss and ending in death, this is the reality
    of all human condition and the realizing that there is a remedy
    for man's anguish, there is nothing spontaneous about being sick
    or having a love-one get dead -i just don’t know about the niceties of grace
    or grease its great slipping around stuff - there is gift - realization -
    that arrives at the most unwanted times the angel with news you
    did not want to here, perhaps that's the supreme gift perhaps -
    to become aware of your life process in its self is a gift -

    Blessings ___________________________________________

    1. Your reply reminds me of Blake:

      What is the price of Experience Do men buy it for a song?
      Or wisdom for a dance in the Streets No, it is bought with the price
      Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children
      Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy
      And in the withered field where the farmer plows for bread in vain

      It is an easy thing to triumph in the summer’s sun
      And in the vintage and to sing on the waggon loaded with corn
      It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted
      To speak the laws of prudence to the homeless wanderer
      To listen to the hungry raven’s cry in wintry season
      When the red blood is fill t d with wine and with the marrow of lambs

      It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements
      To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter house moan
      To see a god on every wind and a blessing on every blast
      To hears sounds of love in the thunder storm that destroys our enemies’ house
      To rejoice in the blight that covers his field and the sickness that
      cuts off his children

      While our olive and vine sing and laugh round our door and our
      children bring fruits and flowers

      Then the groan and the dolor are quite forgotten and the slave grinding
      at the mill
      And the captive in chains and the poor in the prison and the soldier in
      the field
      When the shatter t d bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead
      It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity;
      Thus could I sing and thus rejoice but it is not so with me