True Home:" Session No. 11 -- readings from chapter 11,
Perhaps no feeling is more common in us than the feeling of being alone and estranged, far from the home of our fond imaginings. To some, this is the meaning of the story of our expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Our exile—from God, from our divine selves, from the true nature of things, from our heart of hearts—comes as our birthright, as the cost of our precious humanness. Feeling our estrangement, we continually yearn for home, and each of the world’s religions teaches its own way of getting there. ... But spiritual problems are never resolved, only transcended, and in the end we return home by recognizing that we’re already there. Indeed, our true home is within. As the stoic Marcus Aurelius wrote: “Look within. Within is the fountain of good. And it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.” Finding this fountain of goodness within us, we discover that no land is foreign; no matter where we go, we are never strangers. We return home to the place we never left.
Preparation (distribute pencils and paper or note cards):
1. Recall and describe a time when you learned that life was not entirely under your control.
1. How much of life is under your control? Give examples of things you can control, and things you can't.
2. How do you respond to life's surprises? Give an example of how you responded to a wonderful surprise, and to an unwelcome one.
3. Do you think that your own character is under your control? To what extent? In what way?
4. To what extent does character determine the way you respond to life's surprises?
5. When life is off balance and out of control, how do you return to center? What is your center? How would you describe it?
6. How do you cultivate your centeredness? How do you practice returning to your true home?
An old Buddhist story tells of the seeker who after years of instruction and meditation goes on a pilgrimage high in the mountains, where at last he has a transforming vision that heralds his enlightenment. Full of excitement, he returns to his teacher to tell of the wonderful thing that has befallen him. The teacher, a man of many years and hard-won wisdom, replies: “Don’t worry, you’ll get over it.” What we’re after is equanimity, the poise that allows us to accept gracefully the blessings and burdens that are beyond our control. What we’re after is the ability, regardless of circumstance, in the face of disappointment and happy surprise, in the face of tragedy and bliss, to return home to our true selves and our highest natures.