In my last post, I described the displacement of self that happens with the ego – how you and I misunderstand ourselves when we use our natural abilities for advancement and security. We are not those little icons on the mental maps we create. Not ultimately or basically – when we lay down our urges and desires, we find ourselves right here and now without all of the stress and malnourished spirit we feel when we confuse ourselves with our ambitions. As a practice, focusing on the current moment is mindfulness.
Nevertheless, we are summoned. The summons of life manifests all around our perceived selves as events, people, circumstances, objects, feelings, and ideas. A thousand things present themselves for addressing each day, and when we forget ourselves it feels as though they’re a thousand burdens to be shouldered and carried up the hill. These calls to action present themselves seemingly from outside ourselves; they seem to come from the universe at large and to be added weight to our dreams of who we might become.
It looks like a laundry list…
The summons of life pulls on us in many major ways. For example:
- My wife still has lingering health concerns.
- I do not feel well physically either.
- I have a dozen clients clamoring for attention while I’m already fully booked.
I’m sure you could put together a similar laundry list. These are the essential and basic tasks of life, they arise out of ourselves based on where we’ve placed our attention. Or more usually, where we’ve failed to place our attention. They have little to do with the overall images and maps of progress, and are only in the map of our ambitions as temporary obstacles to overcome. And the lists are hugely extensible with the tiny tasks that call themselves out as needful to our consciousness:
- I need to buy milk and assorted other groceries.
- To make progress in my personal finances, there’s some errands that need to be done.
- The yard is becoming overgrown again.
- One of my son’s classes got cancelled because of lack of sign-ups, so I need to find a replacement.
- I have a list of reminders about my personal spiritual practice that I haven’t gotten back to.
- Our neighbors are upset with us because our dog has repeatedly and loudly announced himself on their property.
- My mother is upset with me because of the resulting restrictions on the dog.
If we put them all together, we still aren’t talking about big ambitions or basic necessity. We’re talking about the stuff of life – heaping mixes of the trivial and the important served up as a gumbo of the current circumstance. Right?
But the laundry list is just an expression of the summons…
Not exactly. Look at it another way… look beyond the details of the circumstance and find the underlying basic calls. The list becomes much simpler when we consider the summons rather than the minutiae. Taking my own personal list and dissolving the details into the general articulations of the universe, the statements are much simpler than they first appear:
- Hey, you forgot to focus on your family’s health.
- Okay, you can have more success in business – but you need to grow to meet it.
- You have been spending too much time working – take some time and just get on with living.
- Spend more time with your dog – he’s a living creature too, and has some wisdom to give you.
The summons aren’t about the details – it’s about the bigger message behind them. When we don’t heed summons, they repeat in another form with different details – so a lot of the seemingly banal tasks are really about larger, overarching calls to action. The calls may be about things we need to look at, but can also be about things that we need to let go of to stop creating our daily struggles. And these messages don’t just come as errands – the daily news I put on the home page are full of calls to action on different levels of personal, tribal, and community awareness. Usually, those wonderful articles resonate with me because they remind me of a summons of life that I’ve received. Bound up together, they are inseparable from the private details of my life that call for change.
So, heeding the calls is not about the circumstances. Address the underlying summons and the plethora of calls dissipate. To take on the basic needs, though, you have to be able to simplify the grocery list of tasks down – and that means stepping back from your current situation and looking for the common threads in everything that is presented to you.
Two side notes before we move on: First, one easy way to practice gratitude is to be grateful when the life lessons are easy. Second, great discretion is called for when you “read the signs”. As Dr. Kirby Surprise is at great pains to expound on in Synchronicity: The Art of Coincidence, Choice, and Unlocking Your Mind, the universe or what-have-you has an awesome sense of humor and much enjoys repeating back to us the things we focus on. Synchronicity abounds, and it’s not all about life lessons – you might see a dozen things referencing owls in the next two days, but it’s almost assuredly not an instruction to get a pet owl. Ain’t that a hoot?
And the summons of life is what we’re here to fulfill.
At the most basic level, our lives are not about life purpose and passion, not about movement and struggling up hills. I’m not trying to dissuade you from pursuing big dreams by saying that; big inspirations are important as a choice of the seas we choose to sail. The individual storms that crash against our vessel will be much the same, though. Whatever you may choose (or have chosen for you if you do not choose) as your purpose, your life lessons will come to you as summons.
The summons of life is more natively us than our fictions of roles and success or failure. We receive these summons seemingly from the universe or the world, but they ultimately come from us. It’s a question of how you choose to understand your bounds of self. Looking through ego and maps, the sense of self defines where I end and the other begins. But in the living of life, all that we perceive is as much a part of us as our thoughts and feelings. The danger of judgement lies in the truth that we cannot in reality judge anything but ourselves. The power of our attention is the glory of choosing spirituality, of placing ourselves in God and finding the light of our souls. In that perception, there is a removal of the unnecessary spiderweb of mental constructs that limits us to our decaying physical frames.
And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said “All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them”
Suzanne, Leonard Cohen
Each person has a private and individual journey, but each is adrift in an ocean of consciousness. This universal consciousness, or sea of God, is within each of us; we are an expression of it just as the details of our circumstances are expressions of the summons. Despite that glorious embodiment, our personal consciousnesses cannot comprehend the magnitude or ripples of the universal consciousness. Thus, it is wisdom to live without much inner movement, to ride the crest of life without defining happiness around purpose and success – to simply and profoundly sail. The summons of life are nothing less than calls to truthfulness from our higher selves; they are currents that guide our tiny vessels far better than our tiny aspirations to greatness.
I hope you have an awesome day and wish you success in hearing the summons of life,
You might also enjoy:
- Three Awarenesses in Meditation – programminglife.net
- Improving Your Happiness Baseline – programminglife.net
- Tranquility Affirmation – programminglife.net
- The Corner of Waiting Boulevard & Patience Street – programminglife.net
- The Limits of Self Improvement – programminglife.net
- Finding Serenity – inspiremetoday.com
- What to Do When the Next Step Feels Impossible – liveyourlegend.net
- Building Trust in the Divine – consciouslifenews.com
- Trusting God When We Don’t Know The Details – (video) stevenfurtick.com
- What My Brother’s Death Taught Me About Grief – mindbodygreen.com
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