This fall, Atria is publishing my new book of spiritual inquiry, The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be. It's a journey that explores the difficult and rewarding aspects of being human, which are often inter-related, including how to restore our trust in life, when suffering makes us lose our way; how to begin the work of saying yes to life, so it can enliven us; and how to make our inwardness a resource and not a refuge. For the next two months, I'll be previewing excerpts from the book.
More than the hard-earned understandings we arrive at, more than the principles or beliefs we stitch together out of our experience, how we stay in relationship to the mysterious Whole of Life is what brings us alive and keeps us alive.
Our Journey on Earth
To learn how to ask for what we need,
only to practice accepting what we're
given. This is our journey on earth.
These are two eternal practices that bring us in alignment with the Unity of Life. At first look, they seem to contradict each other, but they are two sides of one paradox. Together, they lead us into the way of being called saying yes, through which we are returned to meeting life rather than hiding from it, to receiving truth rather than inventing it, and to joining with other life rather than pushing off of everything different from us.
While we don't always get what we need, the reward for asking for what we need is that this allows us to be who we are. And the reward for accepting what we're given is that we get to participate in the living Universe. Asking for what we need is a practice in being present and visible that lets us become intimate with our own nature. Accepting what we're given is a practice in being present to everything beyond us that lets us become intimate with the nature of life. As a way of being, saying yes is the ongoing dance of intimacy between our own nature and the nature of life. Through a life of asking for what we need and accepting what we're given, we feed the fire of our soul, which glows its brightest the moment our aliveness is ignited.
A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, describe a current situation in which you need to ask for what you need, as well as a current situation in which you need to accept what you are being given. What do you think each situation is asking you to learn?
For more poetry for the soul, click here.
For more by Mark Nepo, click here.