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.
Working to make peace with life will give your heart new eyes that will enable you to make more wholehearted decisions about the things that live close to your soul. Here's one tradition's practice in approaching this.
Polishing the Heart
The Sufis speak of polishing the heart into a mirror, so that through our love we can reflect the heart of everything. This is one practice that in time can help us make the necessary agreement between our being and our humanness. By its very nature, living in the world creates a film over our heart, while our thoroughness of being and our gestures of love remove that film. There is no arrival in this process. The goal isn't to stay clean or get dirty, but to stay engaged in the unending transformative cycle of life. And when we can't summon the effort or courage to clean the film from our heart, there is always the necessary rain by which life will clean and refresh itself. In this way, the work of being and the inevitable friction of becoming are inextricably knit together.
We all film the heart and we all polish the heart. We all move between these points of wakefulness and weariness. All the while, the resources of life wait like a great sea to cleanse us. This is why we polish the heart into a mirror--to open and touch the place within us where all life lives, where all hearts feel, where all things resound through the inlet of our soul. The endless practice here is to live out a constant commitment to aliveness, to stay engaged in the ongoing journey of being filmed over, only to be scoured into a clear vessel, again and again.
A Question to Walk With: What does it mean to you to polish your heart? Where does your heart need polishing right now? What small act can you take to begin to clarify what you feel?
For more poetry for the soul, click here.
For more by Mark Nepo, click here.