Yesterday some friends and I talked about our New Year's resolutions. The conversation didn't last long. We agreed there wasn't any point to making resolutions, since we never followed them.
That partly explains why my resolution for making spiritual progress in 2012 is pithy: nothing. No resolution, guaranteed success. I'm really great at doing nothing. Some days that's my primary accomplishment.
But I also have some semi-serious reasons for recommending nothing as a spiritual goal. See here and here. As quoted in the first-linked "here," this saying on a Japanese Zen scroll makes a lot of non-sensical sense.
There is really nothing you must be.
And there is nothing you must do.
There is really nothing you must have.
And there is nothing you must know.
There is really nothing you must become.
However, it helps to understand that fire burns,
and when it rains, the earth gets wet.
Recently I got an email from someone who wanted to know my opinion of an Indian guru. The guy is an initiate of the guru (Charan Singh) I was devoted to for about thirty years. Now he's got some doubts about his chosen spiritual path and is considering switching to a different guru.
The guy said that he still believes a guru is needed for spiritual progress. I can sympathize with that attitude, since I felt that way myself for a long time.
Now, though, I've arrived at a metaphysically sophisticated, yet wonderfully simple, approach to spirituality which is cogently and completely described by that single marvelous word: nothing.
It's natural to aspire to understand reality more fully, to seek to improve ourselves, to yearn after cosmic truth. Problem is, there's no way to know what sort of truths, if any, lie outside of the laws of this physical universe.
Religions, mystical practices, and spiritual teachings are all over the map in this regard. Monotheism. Polytheism. Dualism. Monism. Personal gods. Impersonal gods. Grace. Effort. Meditation. Prayer. Ritual. Devotion. Theology. Direct experience.
So many ways. So little agreement between them.
There's twenty major religions and thousands of discrete faiths. Who has the time or inclination to check out all of them? And how would someone know which are true and which are false. So I say, take the lazy way.
Leave it up to Possible Spiritual Truth to find you, rather than you it. I do this every day. This is my spiritual practice: nothing.
Every morning before I meditate I speak to Possible Spiritual Truth, even though I have no idea (1) whether such exists, (2) if it exists, whether it is conscious of me, and (3) if it is conscious of me, whether it is capable or desirous of communicating with me.
"Hey, Possible Spiritual Truth, whoever or whatever you might be. Howz'it going? This is Brian. I'd like to know you, experience you, communicate with you. Assuming, of course, that you aren't an evil malevolent cruel force who wants to painfully put me in your soul-crushing grinder (assuming I have a soul). Since I have no idea where you are, what you are, or even if you are, you're going to have to do the reaching out. All I can do is say, hello, I'm here, ready for a visit."
Then... I do nothing.
I figure that if I lean in any direction, metaphysically speaking, I'm much more likely to head away from my potential good buddy, Possible Spiritual Truth, than toward him/her/it. So I try to stay centered on a comfortable cushion of nothing, "Nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to become."
Have I gotten any response from Possible Spiritual Truth? Can't tell. Probably never will.
If I don't know anything about this supernatural dude (or dudette), how could I know how that entity might communicate with me? It could be screaming in my ear right now, dictating every word of this blog post, controlling every movement of my typing fingers, and I wouldn't know it.
I just like the notion that nothing could be the most spiritually significant something I'll ever not-do.