“With spiritual maturity the basis for (our) practice shifts away from ambition, idealism, and desire for self-transformation. It is as if the wind has changed, and a weather vane – still centered in the same spot – now points in a different direction: back to this moment. We are no longer striving after a spiritual destination, grasping for another world different from the one we have. We are home. And being home, we sweep the floor, make nourishing meals, and care for our guests.”
Many people who recognize the importance of attending to their soul, often fall prey to the misconception that doing so means rising above the hum drum, mundane, down-to-earth life that is required to survive and to thrive in the world. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is not by separating ourselves from everyday existence that we connect with the sacredness of life, but by being wholeheartedly present to it. Because Buddhist psychologist Jack Kornfield knew this to be true, he titled his book, from which the above quote is taken, After the Ecstacy the Laundry.
Experiencing some sort of “high” is not the point of the spiritual or religious life. “Ambition, idealism, and desire for self-transformation” may seem like lofty goals, but the only thing that can be counted on if those states are achieved, is that the bottom will soon fall out from under them leaving us looking at the likes of a pile of dirty laundry; everyday life with its chores and responsibilities, never goes away.
Spiritual maturity, according to Kornfield, is all about being fully present to the most ordinary aspects of life. This is the way a friend put it in a letter she sent years ago “It’s kind of hard to explain this pervasive feeling of well-being It struck me this evening while I was putting clean sheets on my bed, and again while I was washing the bathroom mirror, and again as I finished the dinner dishes. All ordinary, all things that I do at least weekly, some daily, all things I have passionately resented doing at various times. But tonight for some reason, their ordinariness seemed almost glorious.”
“Striving after a spiritual destination,” “grasping for another world” are understandably attractive, but the weather vane points in a different direction, back to the tasks at hand where we are most likely to stumble upon what we imagine to be above and beyond.
3 thoughts on “Spiritual Maturity”
This especially touches me.
I just spent some time separating the plastic from the rest of the trash, and now I need to mop the kitchen floor. Then the laundry … 🙂
Sounds like pretty sacred work. One of my favorite quotes “Zen doesn’t confuse spirituality with thinking about God while youi’re peeling potatoes. Spirituality is peeling potatoes.” Enjoy doing the laundry!