Before I get into the actual subject matter for this week’s sermon, I want to preface it by emphasizing the aspect of a kind of meditation when reading, rather than intellectual and logical understanding. Rather than focusing on the sparks that light the fire, let the fire burn. I don’t intend to place one into a maze of intellectual curiosity with these concepts, but rather open one up to a place beyond logic and intellect.
If you have any affinity for the sciences, physics, at one point or another, will probably grab your attention. In many ways, it is very similar to the spiritual quest for truth. Both pursuits, if they are done with true curiosity, question everything. They attempt to find the true nature of reality, even if we consistently muddy the waters with our own ‘looking’. After all, science and spirituality have a common ‘problem’- how can we find the truth without affecting the very thing we’re trying to find with our own involvement?
Exhaustion. Exhaustion is one of the most powerful spiritual elements we can experience. We often hear of one form of this concept when people talk about addiction and ‘hitting rock bottom’. It is often said that an addict has to find their rock bottom first in order to finally want to help themselves. No real transformation can occur until the addict exhausts whatever fuel has powered their chosen path. Sometimes this exhaustion occurs in the mind, and it appears we make a new decision. Other times, the fuel of the body runs out before the spirit gives in- physical death is the result.
Most people spend their entire lives trying to avoid exhaustion. There is a great fear attached to losing some measure of the control we’ve come to think we have over our lives. We believe it is a blessing when we are relaxed and experiencing pleasure, and a great punishment, or ‘bad luck’, when we experience tension and pain. This is actually far from the truth.
I was on a train some time ago, reading a book and waiting to depart the station. Next to my train, quite close, was another train. The other train was so close that you could only see the side of the other train but no other point of reference- no sky, ground etc. After some time, being engrossed in the book I was reading, I looked up to see if there was a delay as it seemed like we had been sitting for some time. Just as I looked up, I noticed the other train beginning to leave in the opposite direction. The windows of the other train floated by, faster and faster until it felt as though it was buffeting our train as it left. Being already tired from my trip thus far, I was mesmerized by the moving windows until they stopped. I immediately realized that, now having a frame of reference, IT WAS I WHO WAS MOVING- our train had been moving all along.
On another occasion, I found myself in the ocean, on my surfboard, beyond the break of the waves. Being a total novice at actually surfing, I found myself enjoying the moment more than trying to catch a wave. Being able to just be there in the water was enough. I soon noticed, only when I looked back to shore, and then back to the other surfers, that I had been taken quite far from my original point. I had no sense of movement whatsoever. To me, there was just stillness.