I think a lot of people come to spiritual practice with their triangle pointing up. They have a pretty good grounding in the everyday stuff first. Then through practice of ritual or various systems, they build up. At some point they climb high enough on the pyramid to really experience the divine, but it’s a constant struggle to get up there.
My triangle is upside down. Journeywork and mysticism come about as naturally to me as breathing. In fact, when I’m cut off from those things, it feels almost like I can’t breathe. This isn’t exactly bragging. I’m fully aware of the downside here. You know all that effort people make in climbing up? I have to expend just as much effort in putting myself on the ground. I don’t take the mundane for granted because I know that it is freaking hard work to achieve.
I want my practice to be ordinary. I know that “every day” are magic words that change lives. I know that labor, in constant, predictable increments, can create wonders over time. I know that the pace of progress seems incredibly slow on the ground, but that’s because we are pushing up against solid things that resist our movement. It is work. It is slow. You can spend day after day pushing those rocks around, and it all feels so ordinary. Highly educated architects put their designs on paper, but the ordinary rock pushers are the ones who build the temples.
In my journeys, in a busy week, I can bring back spiritual ideas to ponder five days out of the week. I can write those ideas in my journal, and it all looks really impressive, if you’re impressed by that kind of thing. I enjoy my explorations, and I do think they help me to learn and grow as an individual. I can look back over the years and see the progress I’ve made internally. But externally? Where’s the progress there? There needs to be a balance. Without any rock pushing involved, paper temples aren’t worth a whole lot. If you’re jealous of those who seem to have mystical experiences every time they turn around, don’t be, not unless they also have a few rocks to show for it.
I’ve noticed that when I spend more time on the ground, my private blog gets really boring to read. I’ll keep writing about the same subject over and over again, marking tiny variations that don’t make a whole lot of difference to anyone but me. Weeks can go by and it doesn’t really look like much has changed. It has changed, but at a snail’s pace. For those of us immersed in blog culture, that seems like a curse, to not have much of interest to say. How dare we be ordinary and boring?
During those times, I am pushing rocks, sometimes literally. It took months for me to dig my goldfish pond because of the huge rocks in my yard. It was long, boring, tedious. I broke at least three steel digging tools. I scraped the skin off of my knuckles many times. I had all kinds of sore muscles. I said many many rude words. But now it’s done and the pond is an incredible thing that adds a little bit of pleasure every single day. I have a row of sunflowers growing along the back side of it now. Birds and bees and dragonflies visit constantly. The desert no longer feels quite so dry. Pushing those rocks was very much worth it.
My advice today is to pick one of those things you’ve been planning, and get your butt out there and push those rocks. Spend weeks, months, or years making your paper temple into something solid. “Rock pusher” can be a very respectable and powerful profession.