Sometimes, in order to move forward in any given practice or discipline, other activities will have to be cut out. In order for something to grow it needs room and space to mature. Too much overcrowding, in terms of time and physical stuff, can stifle roots from going as deep as they otherwise might and shoots or stems from reaching up to the light. We’ve all probably seen the canopy of a tree contort into an unnatural form because of the placement of electrical power lines. Our own lives become distorted from their inherent pattern when left cluttered. Our efforts are less effectual because of distortions in the system. And once the distortions are in place they have a tendency to further shift and shape subsequent actions.
It is hard to live split down the middle for an entire life. Certainly as humans we can manage to adapt in all manner of situations, from the merely aggravating, to the terrible, as is exemplified in Viktor Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning. Yet for the sake of this argument, let us imagine a human who is in a relative state of stability as far as her or his basic needs are concerned (see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). Yet because of the junk food they have filled up their life with, in terms of entertainment, material goods, social obligations which serve neither party, and the like, their growth has become stunted. The tide of encroachment must be halted, and perhaps flood walls in the form of boundaries erected so as to prevent an out-and-out flood.
To heed an inner call of service it often times becomes necessary to cull and weed out from your life those things which no longer serve. This is perhaps one reason why monastics have traditionally taken a vow of poverty. Not only does directing your attention away from materialistic gain enable the further cultivation of those things which are of spiritual value, voluntary poverty is also a simpler way to maintain a “steady state” economy because the time and effort otherwise put forth in keeping up with what has already been acquired can now be turned inwards.
Uncluttering our physical lives is one way to turn down the noise in our life. It is a way of making stillness by removing obstacles. All the things that we own, somewhere in our mind, occupy a part of ourselves on some level. Going through the house, cleaning out the desk, the closets, the drawers, putting it in the recycling bin, or taking things to the thriftstore (where in my house is where we often first acquired the junk) becomes a way of ridding ourselves of burdens we didn’t know we were carrying. The further we climb up the Mountain it becomes more and more necessary to let go -of dogma, of opinions and beliefs, of things we never wanted, needed or used in the first place . It gets steeper the closer you get towards the pinnacle and those things will only hold you back. Besides, the way back down requires complete letting go, the dissolution of who you are in your surface life.
So in this time after Samhain, in this moonth ruled by Scorpio, I have undertaken the task of going through my possessions, and sending them to an appropriate place, either to where someone else can find them, or into the trash where they have belonged. What I am finding is a feeling of liberation. Much of the stuff I’ve shedding, has been either material I’d planned on making some kind of art project with, books, CDs, and the like. What I feel happening inwardly as a result of heeding this inner call is an opening up to a greater sense of dedication to the path -and making way for new possibilities which were potentially being held back by all the energy expended holding on.
Justin Patrick Moore
Husband. Father/Grandfather. Writer. Green wizard. Ham radio operator (KE8COY). Electronic musician. Library cataloger.