We can start anywhere. That's the coolest thing about finding our way. It always begins right here, right now, where we are. And with letting that be that. Too much of the time we want to be anywhere but where we are. Where we are is what brought us to wanting to be anywhere but here. Had to get here to want to be somewhere else. Start here. And what we start with is asking all of the questions that beg to be asked by being here. Make a list. I'm serious. Write them down. And write down all of the questions that are generated by asking the questions. Do not pause to answer any of them, and do not think any question is an answer in itself-- every question is a springboard into other questions. Our place is to ask al of the questions! By writing them down. Buy a spiral-bound notebook. Or start a file on your computer, or whatever your favorite way to write is. And start writing your questions. All good questions lead to more questions. Ask them all. See where they lead. You are on your way! Following your questions is the best way to get anywhere, especially away from here, now. Do not assume you know anything. Do not take anything for granted. Ask questions about everything you think you know! Heidi-ho! Off we go!
Tradition and theology are cop-outs. When we turn to tradition and theology, we are letting someone else do our thinking for us, do our deciding for us. May as well chug whiskey straight from the bottle. We have checked out of our own life, and turned things over to someone else, to something else. Because we are tired of doing our life on our own. And do not want the responsibility any longer. You can take your Hero's Journey and shove it anywhere you like. We've had it. Worn out with it. Through with it. Bring on tradition, theology, and/or whiskey! We are going to stop living here and now! That's what tradition, theology and whiskey are good for. Dying long before we are dead. Because we just don't have the heart for it. For one more day of thinking for ourselves, making our own decisions, wondering where to go from here. It is called being at the end of our rope. That is a great place to be. We have to get there before we can change our mind about what is important-- thinking we know what is important is what gets us there, to the end of our rope, I mean. And, once we get there, we think checking out is the most important thing. But, at the end of our rope, we have proved to ourselves that we cannot be trusted to know what is important, particularly what is most important, so we have no business opting out, and going with tradition, theology and/or whiskey. Our place is simply to hang on to the end of our rope and see what happens, dangling there, waiting. Now, my formula for waiting, at the end of our rope, or anywhere else, is to wait in the right kind of way, which means emptying ourselves of everything. Every-single-thing. Particularly moods. No moods while you wait. And thinking. No thinking while you wait. And emotions. No emotions while you wait. Clean all of it out. All your wants/wishes/fear/desire/ certainties and convictions... All of the 10,000 things that crowd in there in your poor little over-loaded, over-crowded, mind. Open the door and sweep it all out. Wait as empty as the space between breaths. Exhale and pause, start counting slowly until you absolutely must inhale, and when you inhale, inhale slowly, extending your stomach away from your spine, filling your lungs all the way to the bottom. And exhale slowly, sucking your stomach in toward your spine, so that all the air is expelled. And pause there, again, counting again, until you have to inhale. Do that for five rounds of inhaling and exhaling. Now, think about the time between breaths. That is how empty you need to be. As empty as the space between breaths. Wait in the emptiness, just breathing, normally now, and pausing between breaths for a comfortable count between five and ten, inhaling, exhaling, waiting, in the stillness as still as the surface of a pond, allowing you to see to the bottom. Notice what is on the bottom. In the silence as quiet as the far side of the moon. Wait in the emptiness, in the stillness, in the silence, for something to stir, emerge, arise, appear on its own, of its own volition, out of nowhere. Welcome it as your lodestar, your talisman, your symbol, your guide. And carry it with you as you reenter your life, no longer quite at the end of your rope, and now with a companion of your own devising that you had nothing to do with constructing. Tradition did not give it to you. Theology did not give it to you. Whiskey did not give it to you. You are quite capable of having what you need, to find what you need, to guide you where you need to be. With your new companion as your guide, comfort, pal and friend, explore what it represents, suggests, brings to mind, discloses, reveals, has to say... And see where it goes.
The Big Three Barriers to the Spiritual/Hero's Journey according to Buddhism are Fear, Desire and Duty. To which I will add: Anger, Hatred, Depression, Jealousy, Dependency, Laziness, and Lack of Curiosity. You are encouraged to add to the list out of your own experience. The Things That Keep Us From Doing The Things That Need To Be Done List. Doing the things that need to be done, the way they need to be done, when they need to be done, where they need to be done, because they need to be done, using the resources of our Original Nature and the context of the circumstances at hand-- for the joy of doing them and the satisfaction of having done them-- in each situation as it arises, all our life long, is all the Spiritual/Hero's Journey comes down to. That is all that is asked of us. Ever. This puts us in right relationship with our life, with ourselves, and with one another. And the only things that stand in our way are the things on The List. Get them out of the way, and there is nothing but "fair wind and following seas" all our life long.