Learning from living

“If the doors of perception were cleansed
Everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
— William Blake

Life is the best teacher.

What does that mean?

For me, as I look back on my life, there exists a series of milestones where I’ve either grown (mostly in spirit) or partially died (unfortunately, my ego hasn’t been killed off!).

Like all things, though, I didn’t plan it this way, and that’s another reason why I’m not enamoured with goal setting. (Ask yourself, would you set yourself a goal to fail in the hope of learning something profound about yourself? I doubt it.)

But, if the vicissitudes of life are to mean more than another ‘high’ or ‘low’, then we need to learn from what we learn and use it to build a better life and one not bereft of soul.

Think about your last success — however you measure things.

What did it teach you?

What didn’t it teach you?

Do you care?

Actually, we don’t need to set the bar so high. Even the small wins and loses — the everyday if you will — can reveal to us sacred parts of our soul that do more than lend a hand in how we cope with life. The truth is, if we actually lived the insight — the sudden seeing — our lives would be immeasurably improved. To be clear, this isn’t a journey of perfection or wholeness but, instead, to be at peace in a world where we’re more accepting of what is and not constantly striving for something better.

As you might have guessed, this sort of self-examination is not something we’re very good at. In fact, most people would run a mile at the very thought of going beyond the thought…

But that’s just an escape from life.

In truth, if we’re going to connect with our soul — our true Self as Thomas Merton describes it — then it’s not sufficient to stick with the label but we have to get under the skin of what’s really going on.

But I know what you think: none of this make much sense from an objective standpoint, and I’d agree when all we do is move on to the next thing. But it would do if we took time out of our busy lives to reflect on what’s really going and what can we learn deeply and profoundly.

I’d love you to sit with the thought ‘Who is the person who feels good or bad when [insert] happens?’ but I suspect you’ll think this hopelessly narcissistic. That’s fine, but sooner rather than later, probably born out a deep sense of frustration with the way things are, you might come back and ask yourself, “What’s really going on inside my head?”.