Back in January, jockeystreet reviewed the book Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor. I had read it as part of my Buddhism class in college and was reminded of how enjoyable I found it to be. As summer has taken hold and reruns are in full force, I decided to pull it off the shelf and give it another read.
While much of the discussion about Buddhism and its philosophies was interesting to read and wet my appetite for spiritual renewal, I couldn’t help but look at some of the passages in light of my own personal thoughts and feelings of late.
In particular, when I picked it up this evening on page 101 set on finishing the book I came across underlined sentences that really rang true to where I am creatively. From the chapter aptly titled “Imagination”:
…we find ourselves hovering on the cusp between nothing and something, formless and form, inactivity and activity. We are poised in a still, vital alertness on the threshold of creation, waiting for something to emerge… that has never happened in quite that way before and will never happen in quite that way again.
I’ve often found myself struggling with my own future – relationally, spiritually, productively – and feel as though I am a man on the verge; I’m not quite there, I can’t make it out yet, but I know it’s coming, whatever it may be.
Likewise, a few pages later I read, “Instead of creatively participating in a contemporary culture of awakening, we confine ourself to preserving those cultures of a vanishing past.” It is so much easier to do things the easy way, the way they’ve always been done. There’s safety in that. I know, for me, it’s been so much easier not to risk the unknown in order to feel the comfort of the known. Instead of truly using my gifts to their potential and pushing myself into living into who I was made to be I find myself sticking with routines and only nudging my limits when it’s convenient.
Finally, as I read on, I came across a line that reminded me of a posting from my old online journal which I came across last weekend. The line reads:
Our words, our deeds, our very presence in the world, create and leave impressions in the minds of others just as a writer makes impressions with his pen on paper, the painter with his brush on canvas, the potter with his fingers in clay… the creation of ourself… is not a subjective but an intersubjective process.
It’s so easy to be self-centered. Not a day goes by when I don’t have a few selfish thoughts run through my head or words pass through my lips. I need to be reminded of my connections to the world around me. I have to remember that I carry “an indebtedness to the past and a responsibility to the future.” This doesn’t mean looking out for my legacy, forging a positive reputation to leave behind. It’s about living responsibly and respectively. Finding balance. Appreciating what has arisen before me, leading up to this very moment, creating who I am, and contributing to the grand progression to follow.
A favorite quote of mine is by the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr., and I will end with this:
…carry on a lover’s quarrel with the world so that when we depart this life we will leave behind us a little more truth, a little more justice, a little more beauty, and a little more laughter.