Sermon for July 29, 2018
“Losing it” probably brings up immediate negative connotations. In a world where we are in a seemingly never ending rush to accumulate, create, become, achieve, loss seems like something we should avoid at all costs. You don’t want to lose your job, your house, your car...or do you? What if you lost your mind? Sounds bad right? Well what if your mind, as you know it, was holding you back from something even more wonderful- but you couldn’t see it because of that very mind? “Losing it” can be a great thing.
From a very practical and simple perspective, I can show you why we all strive, in one way or another, to “lose it”. Take something as simple as a vacation. What are you getting away from? What do you need a break from? When you think of a vacation, you don’t see yourself adding things to your daily schedule. People don’t generally keep their normal routine, work and everything that goes with it, and add to it to give themselves a break. If they did, you’d see people taking on another job when they wanted something different. Maybe I’ll work 80 hours a week next month, instead of 40, because I just need a break from the normal routine. Let me babysit the neighbor’s 8 kids, in addition to my own, because I just need a break from what’s normal.
Maybe trying to lose it is something even more simple. The ritual of sitting down to a cup of coffee or tea might be a good example for many people. I’ve heard many people say that they do love their drink of choice, but there is also a ritual attached to it. There’s a mindlessness, a different gear of life you can go into. The value is in what you are able to drop away from your mind, not in adding to your already hyped sense of consciousness. But have you ever really stopped and explored why we do these kinds of things? What are we seeking? Why isn’t the world of go-go-go enough?
Sometimes, quite unconsciously, we really begin to believe in the conditioning of the world to constantly add, and we forget the value of loss. I hear people all the time wondering how someone who is perceived as rich or successful or good looking, whatever quality of the moment that we are coveting in another, can possibly be unhappy. Aren’t they appreciative of all they have? Where is their gratitude? If I were that person, I’d be totally content! I can assure you that, as hard as it might be to imagine, whatever thing, or image, you might achieve, total contentment would not follow.
Everyone discovers the curious illusion of ‘becoming’ in their own time and way. There is no one blueprint for such a realization. There are certain commonalities, however, to the process of waking up from our world obsessed dream. As I mentioned above, we are always playing with losing it- whatever our ‘it’ may be. We sneak away on vacation, hit the snooze button, day dream all to get out of the constant go, achieve, become. If you look at your life, or others if it’s more easily seen that way, our ways to create opportunities to lose ourselves can be incredibly simple and also mind bendingly complicated.
Often, we actually feel some type of guilt about all this. Achievement is a must. Motivational videos are all over telling us to sleep less, work more, be better. It is important to say, however, that there is nothing inherently wrong with becoming and creating. It is the loss of perspective, and balance, that leads people to a dangerous path.
The play of, for example, work and vacation, is a natural thing. What I am alluding to, however, is a state that is much harder to allow ourselves to see. It is a state that you start to become more and more aware of when even the vacations from work don’t quite do it for you anymore. Where once you could work, take a vacation and recharge, and then return feeling refreshed, you now begin to blur the lines of where vacation and work separate. Things are starting to bleed into one another.
Some people may relate to this as a moment when you ask, “Is this it? Is this all there is?” You might even ask yourself if you’re “losing it”. You are.
When people begin to search for God, or whatever you want to name that ‘thing’ we’re all aware of at varying levels, it can be hard not to fall into the trap of applying our worldly idea of achievement, of gaining something in order to achieve a thing we want, to our spiritual awakening. This is where the value of seeing ‘loss’ in a different way can keep you from losing it in the negative, out of control and deluded, sense of the phrase.
I had a counseling session with someone where I said something very simple that seemed to really break through to this person. I told them that God’s grace was always with them, it was part of their very substance. They were feeling lost, judged by others, and had a feeling like they needed to look somewhere, get away, and find what they were missing. When I told them just this one simple thing, that what they were trying to get, they already were, they relaxed. You could even hear their voice change.
Of course, that was just the beginning- but it was a beginning. Instead of feeling stressed and lost, this person had a glimpse of a totally different way of relating to spiritual practice. Grace is there, you only need to allow it. ALLOW. BE. The simple act of not trying to cover up your true identity in God will allow Grace to shine through. The sun is shining, on it’s own- open the curtain!
If you find yourself feeling that the normally comforting routines of your life no longer give you solace, let yourself feel it. I won’t comfort you and tell you you’re not losing something, because you are. You’re losing the addiction to the game, the illusion of opposites, the stubborn, persistent idea that, even though you think you know it, you’re going to eventually die and lose all the things you used to comfort yourself. It may be disturbing, at first, and it will shake up what you’ve built for yourself in this world. If you can just let the curtain move, even the slightest bit, the sunlight will peak through, and something you always thought you had to find will show itself as always having been there for you from the beginning.