Buddhism asserts that the spiritual journey is unique to each individual. Therefore, of course, it cannot be held, circumscribed, limited, or even ultimately judged by any institution, tradition or external authority. The unique journey that lies before us does not exist in any text, external person, or religion. In fact, it does not exist at all, but only lies ahead of us, to be discovered literally as we go. Thus it is that the spiritual journey cannot in any way be preconceived or predetermined; it is not humanly constructed or fabricated. The journey to ourselves is truly a journey into the unknown, a setting forth onto a sea that has never before been sailed and never before been fathomed or mapped.
So what is spiritual life? You don’t get to say for me, and I guess I don’t even get to say for me. It’s unfolding as we speak. But this doesn’t mean a rejection of the wise teachers who came before, such as Jesus and the Buddha. No, I can absorb what they say about living a good life, and see to what extent I make it my own.
Take “The Sermon on the Mount” and “The Metta Sutta”, for instance. Who am I to argue with the Beatitudes, which honour the “merciful”, the “pure in heart”, and “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”? Or with the Buddha’s assertion that “Even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child, so with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings, radiating kindness over the entire world.”
My conception of Spirit has been nurtured by decades of spiritual practice. More and more, I breathe life into what I’ve drawn from my fellow travellers, from books, from meditation retreats. I’m happy about that.
But Reggie Ray is pointing to a mysterious sea. I don’t know where my voyage is taking me, and you don’t know where yours is taking you. We’ve thanked the guideposts along the way, but now … there aren’t any. We point the bow of our ship to the horizon, and wait. Will we fall off the end of the world? No. Will we fly? Yes, I think so.
I await my future. I will write a new song and sing it out loud. And may your melody be sweet.