Sunday, April 25, 2010

Exploring the inner life: the quest of a lifetime

When I was twenty years old, I remember how desperately and voraciously I read books, explored ideas, all in a quest to figure out what, exactly, I believed. Religion, spirituality, philosophy, ethics, values, visions, ideals: My ambition was to determine, once and for all, exactly what was true and what was not, so I could believe what was true, settle the matter once and for all, and get on with living my life.

Over the course of the first half of my lifetime, I gradually came to see: This is my life.

This process of exploration is how I live my life, what I most passionately enjoy doing with my time. It is, on the whole, an immensely gratifying way to live my life. When I am not haunted by the cultural demon of measuring life by external achievements and externally-measured status, when I measure my life by my own internal satisfaction and experience of life, I am content.

When I read, think, discuss, ponder, and explore ideas, I am living my life. The focus on inner process, rather than on outer achievement, is a worthy path to follow. Just ask the mystics and philosophers throughout the ages, some of whom had a wide circle of influence, some of whom remain unknown to those who did not live with them, all of whom enjoyed fruitful and fulfilling lives of probing and pondering every corner, shadowed and bright, of the human spirit.

Exploring religion, spirituality, philosophy, ethics, values, visions, ideals: This is, for me, the journey, and the destination.