There is a sentence in Father John’s teaching on the mantra which gives a valuable insight into the journey we are making. It is a very simple sentence. “If you chop and change your mantra you are postponing your progress in meditation.”
It is an interesting statement from Fr. John Main…he did recognize the fact that we could make progress and therefore that we could postpone progress.
The teaching is there to strengthen us because, being human, we need to be strengthened and we need to be strengthened with the same food. Our hope is strengthened, our faith is strengthened, and if we meet with failure then we need to be encouraged, strengthened and inspired to start again.
We should even come to see our failure in a completely unegotistical light- not to see it merely as a failure to succeed but to understand that it is a failure to respond to love.
If we can see it in that way then failure, in fact, becomes a means to touch an even greater depth.
It is when we look at the love that is there in the depth, rather than at ourselves, then we are led into self-knowledge.
So the teaching is there for depth, to encourage. It is not here to lead to complacency. It isn’t that failure is all right; we should fail less and less…But part of our complacency is to accept failure too readily and that is what we call compromise.
The teaching therefore takes us out of our tendency to compromise and be complacent. Yet it doesn’t make us anxious. Being shaken out of our complacency in other areas of life – in a marriage, a career, in our health – tends to make us nervous and anxious about failure and success, but to be shaken out of complacency on the spiritual path (which is the whole path of life) means in fact that we are brought into a deeper peace.
We are too easy on ourselves sometimes by thinking that everything happen as it should. No doubt it does in one way. But that isn’t to say that, if we allow ourselves to be touched by that pure point or absolute teaching, things couldn’t turn out a different way.
We can postpone our progress. In fact, as we all know, we all do…what is our progress and how can we waste time? Our progress is the penetrating of the present moment, living life with our feet on the ground, living in compassionate, active relationship with others…
Our anxious thoughts for yesterday or for tomorrow are, in fact, blocking the power of that eternal moment…so we repeatedly ask ourselves how can we live in the present moment? The answer is very simple. It is not to waste time.
Not to waste time in trivia, not to waste time in distraction, and certainly not to seek distraction... The distraction is in the motive not the deed. We can be wasting time equally in busyness or in idleness.
Every Christian fellowship committed to the present moment will be aware of the sacredness of time…in such a community loneliness becomes solitude, and solitude becomes the basis of communion. Sadness is dispelled by the directing of our efforts to another’s happiness.
Laurence Freeman, OSB
We invite you to reflect on the reading from Light Within and how it may resonate in your journey of a spiritual awakening in the 12 steps of recovery, and in particular to step 11.
Under these conditions, the pains of failure are converted into assets. 12&12 p.93, Step Ten
Everywhere we saw failure and misery transformed by humility into priceless assets. 12&12 p.75, Step Seven
For pride, leading to self-justification, and always spurred by conscious or unconscious fears, is the basic breeder of most human difficulties, the chief block to true progress. 12&12 p.49, Step Four
It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. .. BB p.85, Into Action
In the face of collapse and despair, in the face of the total failure of their human resources, they found that a new power, peace, happiness, and sense of direction flowed into them. BB p.50, We Agnostics
To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends -- this is an experience you must not miss. BB p.89, Working With Others
We had to drink because at home we were smothered with love or got none at all. 12&12 p.47, Step Four
The love of God and man we understood not at all. 12&12 p.32, Step Two
Then he asked for the grace to bring love, forgiveness, harmony, truth, faith, hope, light, and joy to every human being he could. 12&12 p.101, Step Eleven
Passages from the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions are reprinted with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc. The A.A. Preamble, copyright © The A.A. Grapevine, Inc., is reprinted with permission. Permission to reprint does not in any way imply affiliation with or endorsement by Alcoholics Anonymous or The A.A. Grapevine, Inc.