In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself astray in a dark wood
where the straight road had been lost…Dante Alighieri
To begin in the middle; that is what we all must do. We have no choice; that is what philosophers call our thrown-ness. By some roll of creation’s dice, we awaken to find ourselves conscious in the middle of the lives of others, driven by the desires of others, regulated by the laws of others and comforted, if we are indeed fortunate, by the compassion of those who accept our shared vulnerability.
We assure ourselves and others by constructing narratives: myths of origin, fables which celebrate the qualities of goodness and warn about badness; and dreams of escape from pain and fear into a parallel universe of eternal peace. The world religions, each on their distinctive way, offer maps to lead us out of the dark wood. They point us back to the start of the human journey, inviting us to become fellow-travellers in a shared story. There are clear signposts marked good and evil, carrying the mark of a final authority. And, at each crossroads, one fork points to the place of peace.
Meditation is often mistaken for a religion. In the next few weeks, I will write in more detail about the distinctiveness of the way of meditation, stressing that it is not a religion. The meditation which I teach and write about begins, and remains with, the here and the now. The ultimate aim is to deepen our appreciation of the present moment in a spirit of thankfulness.
accept the past and then let it go
gather up your fears of the future so that they do not own you
and learn to trust in your own capacity
Dante also wrote
…and following the path
at last we came forth and saw the stars