The Journey Begins
To one degree or another every human suffers. For some, the suffering becomes too much to bear and a life is ended. Others descend into addiction, madness, crime. Still others muddle through, courtesy one or more palliatives (work, therapy, pharmacology, money, sex, nihilism, etc.).
A tiny minority, however, grow weary of the whole charade and embark on a journey that, if the mystics are to be believed, will lead to a lasting peace – the kind purported to ‘surpass understanding.’
The members of this little band most often are described as seekers, bouncing about from one guru or movement to another. What sets us apart, however, is our refusal to rest, to call it quits, or to pretend that we’ve found something when we haven’t. Indeed, what sets us apart from most is the brutal self-honesty we employ as a compass. If the ‘solution’ doesn’t last, if happiness is fleeting or conditional, we must confess it to ourselves, recognize the quest is incomplete, and soldier on.
Officially I’ve been at this for more than a decade – unofficially, the entirety of my existence. The truth, of course, is that every human is a seeker. It’s just that most either don’t know it or refuse to admit it. (Just as most refuse to admit that ‘life is suffering.’ And that, of course, is ok, it’s their journey, not yours or mine, and the karmic wheel turns for us all at the pace it must.)
This site is envisioned as a kind of shared journey. I’m no guru hear to tell you I’ve found the answer and, if my own experiences have taught me anything, pretty much any guru you meet out there is full of shit and barely hanging on themselves. In most cases I think it is the allegiance of their followers that keeps them going – take away the followers and the guru deflates like a leaky balloon.
Again, this is about finding an internal, lasting peace. Your peace, your truth, not mine.
My Story, Briefly Told
Over the span of roughly six months beginning in the autumn of 2005, I crashed and burned – lost the job, lost the girl, lost my mind, etc. As an already-divorced, middle-aged father of two with a long and less than illustrious history of job hopping, morally relativistic behavior (to put it mildly), and a lifelong relationship with crippling anxiety and depression, I’d more or less reached my personal Waterloo.
Chronically ill (a cough that became a kind of audible signature to my presence; numbness in hands and feet; heaviness in the chest; etc.), it at last occurred to me that there really were only two choices left: death or a complete reconsideration of this thing I’d called ‘life’ and my role in it. I opted for the latter, reasoning that death finds each of us soon enough.
Having already gone the psychotherapy route, test-driven some pharmacological aids, and so on, it was time to take the road less traveled. So off I went on a Native American-inspired vision quest into a Utah canyon; then ayahuasca-fueled shamanic ceremonies in the Amazon; sweat lodges, healers; energy healers; Reiki; meditation; another vision quest; and more.
For a time I even relocated to the southwestern U.S. for a few months of solitude, hiking, meditation and prayer. I had spent decades layering myself with a lot of dark karmic baggage and like a ship in dry dock it was going to take some time to scrape away the barnacles and recondition the hull.
Along the way I met some interesting and colorful characters and received innumerable blessings both large and small from more people than I can ever begin to thank. Many of the favorite teachers that I picked up along the way were already dead or reclusive, but their words and lessons still guide me through the pages of books that grace my nightstand.
On the surface, my life improved. A lot. Some even envied me, imagined that I had it made, had arrived. And for a time – longer than I care to admit – I fell for it too.
Maybe that’s why they call it a peace that surpasses understanding. Because if you can point to the why behind your happiness, at some point it’s going to go away or dissipate or otherwise leave you back in the same boat.
On with the journey.