Fearless Reason

Fearless reason in an age of frightened absurdity.

Tag: essays

Poverty of the Soul

My karma predisposes me towards asceticism. That may have been a virtue in a different culture and age, but in this world it has made me a slave. I grew up poor, in a poor community, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. I have never prioritized pleasure or happiness, because I was taught those were luxuries we could not afford. That fidelity to joyless duty has followed me into the middle class, and along my spiritual journey.

Even after awakening to my true nature as an infinite being of love and bliss, I have remained in some ways impoverished. I have passively accepted things that serve neither my happiness nor that of others. I have retreated into inward bliss, as the inertia of a middle class life set in motion before my awakening consumes most of my time with things that serve a life I do not desire.

This world rewards those who doggedly pursue their desires to the exclusion of all else, no matter how misguided. I have seldom had strong desires beyond my desire for union with god. Before awakening I did not know yet what I sought. So I set about building a safe middle class life designed to alleviate the condition of material deprivation.

Then within months of starting that middle class life, I awakened to my true nature, and realized the worst poverty is that of the soul. I now wistfully reflect on the freedom of that materially impoverished child from the mountains. He wanted to seek god, but had no one to show him the way. I now know the way, but have less physical freedom than ever before. How long will I continue serving a middle class life designed to alleviate a poverty I no longer fear?

Fear is the Absence of Love

After my awakening my heart opened, and I was raptured with divine bliss. But while the bliss has never left me, my heart almost immediately began its retreat. I awakened to a life built by a self that did not know love, that could not understand it or believe that such a thing existed as a real force in the world. It was an unconscious and loveless life, and my newly awakened heart was horrified by what it found.

I knew that embodied love could not live the life I was living. Love demanded I change everything about my life at once to serve god and my fellow beings. Love asked me to forsake my identity, my profession, my ambitions, and all my preconceptions about the world. Love demanded that I die completely to myself – and I feared death.

So my heart retreated, but did not close. It stayed open just as much as my life could bear. Like a candle in the night it continued to burn, illuminating those things that were loveless and wrong, and calling me to change them. First it illuminated my violent and selfish thoughts. Then it came for my careless and loveless actions. One by one, on and on, it has illuminated my sins and called me towards conversion.

I have changed much over the years, and have shifted many things about how I choose to be in the world. But many loveless circumstances remain that are informed by major life decisions undertaken by my former self. I brush up against those circumstances with love, and try to shift or transform them. But I fall short of rejecting or abandoning them outright.

So I allow them to do violence to my heart, because I fear letting them go. I hold onto an identity that is no longer true, a profession that does not serve me or others, and remain attached to habits, big and small, that separate me from god and others. Truly, fear is the absence of love.