Scott Peck in ‘The Road Less Traveled’ states, “On some level spiritual growth, and therefore love, always requires courage and involves risk”.
We know this to be true because we often feel fear when we stand on the threshold of something new. Fear of the unknown, fear of making a mistake, fear of leaving our comfort zone.
We can also accept Peck’s conclusion that the only thing which stops us is laziness. Failing to face up to fear is a form of laziness – of taking the easy way. The ‘do nothing’ option is almost always preferred, followed closely in the popularity charts by the ‘do as little as possible‘ option. We are all, well most of us, inherently lazy. I can state this without any possible accusation of prejudice as i am a prominent member of that corps. I remember starting one job, a government job, and being advised, friendly, helpful advice; that the first thing i should do with any work that crossed my desk was to see if it could legitimately be passed onto someone else! How can we live our lives this way, when do we learn this behavior?
So, often we have to be persuaded or dragged along part of our paths. There are times in our lives when we are more open to change, to development, but there are other times what all we wish for is to preserve the status quo. Scott Peck tells us that when change is forced upon us and we resist it, or refuse to face up to it, we often become sick, physically or mentally. His experience of such sufferers was that the help they most desired was to restore the world as it had been, to bring things back, to cancel the changes which had occurred. Only with difficulty did some of the sufferers accept that the best help they could receive was assistance in accepting and dealing with their new situation. Those were the ones most likely to make progress.
But, of course, we all travel different distances along different paths – this is what leads to the diversity in the world. I believe that we all travel a certain distance, that we all develop spiritually to some degree, that we all love. We all get tired, get lazy, seek a rest, a respite from the risks we are exposed to, that we expose ourselves to. Such is part of our human nature. For many of us, it is part of our destiny – not to complete the journey. Scott Peck sees this and comments, “They may have traveled a short or even a goodly distance along the journey of spiritual growth, but the whole journey is not for them. It is, or seems to be, too difficult. They are content to be ordinary men and women and do not strive to be God”. That is so sad, isn’t it, to give up the struggle.
We often don’t even realise that we are doing it, we make some excuses, ‘we’re too busy’, ‘gotta mind the children’, ‘next year’, ‘when i retire’, and so on, putting off the moment. Sometimes we realise what we are doing but we are still too lazy to make the changes. So many people declare that they will be happy, “as soon as ……….”. Postponing our very happiness, our spiritual development, ignoring our destiny, so that we can deal with the minutiae of everyday life, including the latest episode of that television series we are watching.
Aids for avoidance. Wandering semi-conscious through our lives, going through the day without paying any attention to it. We will hear much from later authors about awakening, about being conscious, about the power of now and the necessity of paying attention to the current moment. We are told; nothing happens in the future, nothing has happened in the past, everything happens in the present moment. So pay attention to this moment, that is an important step on our path to enlightenment. Stop seeking ways to ignore the present, accept change, embrace it, deal with the fear that change brings, accept that fear as normal, as a natural human response to change. But don’t permit it to prevent you from moving on, don’t allow it to be a barrier to your progress.
Embrace the risk.
Forgive yourself for any weakness, be gentle with yourself. Seek help and company on your journey. You have to walk the journey yourself but you can avail of all the help you can find. Never refuse an offer of help, often the helper gains as much from the assistance given as the one who is helped does. Today you may be the recipient of help, tomorrow you may be the giver. We are all on different paths but they all, ultimately lead in the one direction.
Remember, the best things require courage and effort and what could be a greater thing than spiritual development, than fulfilling our destiny.
Travel well my friends, leave your hearth and home, the safe abode where there are no risks, your comfort zone and journey towards God, towards Godhood. Remember how Jesus gathered up his disciples, ‘follow me’ he told them, not giving them the opportunity to put their affairs in order or to say farewell to their loved ones. Such is the call of your path. I always felt especially moved by the story of the rich young man who wanted to follow Jesus but couldn’t abandon his material goods, Mark 10 17 – 30.
“And as Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and began asking Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.”
Make good time, for our time is limited