Writing is such an intimate game.
At least the kind of writing I am interested in. It opens you up. You cannot hide. Not from yourself nor the reader. And when you read someone attempting to do the same, oh the joy!
Because it is a practice, a spiritual practice if you allow it to be.
In this edition of The Contemplative Life:
1. Some thoughts on living authentically.
2. Merton’s recurring dilemma for solitude.
3. Seeds of…10,000 iterations rule.
What I’ve Been Thinking
The value of doing what you love without compromise is what creates an authentic life. This is both true and it seems to be a core theme for most people. It is for me. And over the years much of my time has been spent attempting to live this way.
But mostly I got stuck in an old loop of overthinking about what and how, rather than doing. I read, I think, a few weeks back that rather than saying, be a writer; just be writing. Be the verb, not the noun.
This is all good and well and it is useful when you get stuck too but the problem with statements such as these is that while they are clever, they are just tricks with short-term utility at best. And sometimes not even that.
The same goes for meditation. Calling yourself a meditator and not meditating is ridiculous but so is having no idea what you are meditating on and why. The destination is key to the value of the thing in the first place. So is true with life. Therefore it is important to think things through, and carefully.
It does not matter what others tell you. You have to be the one that feels it. And when you feel it in your gut, and it comes easy to you, follow it. You will face obstacles. And that is ok. Not everyone will get it. And that is ok. But those that do, well, I think you grow together and that is the reason why people form tribes.
Living from this place is living in the presence of your own being. It takes into account the destination and deconstructs the steps to it. You know when you are being authentic because of how it feels. You will, of course, have to change tact from time to time. You will know when you have to.
My teacher would often describe this as, letting yourself fall into the arms of the deity as a way of showing this is, to some degree, a practice is letting go and feeling your way forward.
I have so much more to say about this topic and I will just not now.
For that reason, I am excited about the future. About all the hard work I am doing now that will turn into something of true benefit for you and me.
What I’ve Been Reading
I purchased a number of books by Carl Jung this week. I finally got The Red Book. But I also started The Sign of Jonas by Thomas Merton. It is a continuation of the story from The Seven Story Mountain and covers the first 7 or so years after he joined the Trappist monastery in 1941.
It is an edited version of his journal. Quite plodding as a result but, also, often hilarious, at least to me for I can relate quite deeply to his experience of living in a community – battling with order, politics, and a deep desire for something else.
These two entries in particular gave me a sense we were similar and strangely helped me feel less weird about the hundreds of times I spoke to my teachers and got roughly the same response, more or less.
February 20th 1947,
I went and talked over the whole business of my vocation again with Father Abbot and he assured me once again, patiently, that everything was quite all right and that this was where I belonged.
Then on March 16th, Merton writes,
I went to see Father Abbot yesterday. As soon as I got in the room I had brought up the subject of avoiding too much activity and remaining in solitude and being a contemplative and he said “No” to everything. By this time it ought to be quite clear to me that Reverend Father is set on my writing books. So that is that.
As I read the second entry written only a month after the last, I laughed out loud, because, this was me. I did exactly the same thing with my teachers. Asking again and again for things that I was either not ready for, or not capable of drawing benefiting from.
My close friends too have watched me struggle with this same old problem. And have had to listen to this struggle again and again and again. In fact, I run away from my monastery at one point, because the need to study and meditate more was just so strong. But that is a story for another say.
The universality of the human condition and experience is right there in words. I started this out by saying, writing can be a spiritual practice. This is proof that writing can help heal the reader as much as the writer.
Books mentioned in this edition:
What I’ve Created
Recently, I read that the 10,000-hour rule should really be called the 10,000 iterations rule. That sounds about right.
Well, this week, I started a new experiment, daily emails.
I am calling this series, Seeds for Contemplation.
You can read the first one here – https://clarkescott.substack.com/p/in-the-presence-of-your-own-being
I’m not entirely sure how this will go. I hope people enjoy it. I hope I enjoy it too. It might sound like a lot of content. But it is really not. More like me saying hello each day.
But I want to remind you of our schedule as things have been changing around here of late. Here is what to expect, at least for the month of June:
1. Mon – Fri: a daily email to inspire.
2. Sunday: a weekly email to inform.
3. Longer articles and audio podcast versions of said articles when ready.
This is NOT a lot of content.
The way this all works, at least in my mind, is as I am working on my book, Meditate or Die, as well as the courses I am creating, and I come across interesting things such as quotes, or a have a thought I think you will benefit from, I share them in the daily emails. *Seeds for Contemplation* should be just that, seeds.
Then, once a week I wrap all this up into a “behind the scenes” of sorts.
To share with you new things, books, discoveries, and ideas. And for you to benefit from following the journey. A way for you to also benefit from the work done that week.
As for the longer articles, I think these will come out of the writing of the book. But not just “deleted scenes” that did not make it into the book.
Rather, the articles are the journey of thinking through things and will benefit others too, at least that is my hope.
This sounds like a good plan. Right?
Happy Saka Wawa 2023!