Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Challenge of Letting Go

In my last post I spoke of being in tune with the spirit and discarding excess "spiritual junk". Part of this process, I'm finding, is learning to let go of absolutely everything, including all prior held beliefs about the Divine. This thought almost feels like a punch in the stomach, but I'm finding more and more each day that this is the beginning of a life-long experience of living Truth.

Reasoning and intellectual interpretation are no longer adequate enough reasons for me to put faith in a belief. Even beliefs that seem to be based in experience such as my thought that of course I believe in God - look at all this love around me, everywhere, and these amazing experiences! What else, but God, could allow us to have these experiences? Ultimately, reason is what backs that up. I cannot believe until I feel it at my very core - reason tossed aside, initially unimportant.

I must listen, I must experience. (Sounds familiar, doesn't it?)

Throwing reason out the window along with every belief I seem to have come to through it (which would be more beliefs than one might think!) is an incredible challenge which needs constant attention. I must even catch myself and stop from trying to feel one thing or another because it seems like I should. My interpretation of what I "should" do or "should" feel goes back to reason or interpretation. The only things I really should do are the ones that call me from a place where reason does not apply. I even had to loosen my grip on my belief in God, I had to let it go. This is truly starting anew, from scratch.

I must add here that by "letting go", I do not necessarily mean that, for instance, by letting go of my belief in God that I no longer believe. I mean that I must pull the rug out from underneath this belief and discover my true experience - minus the padding of reason.

I find myself questioning my life as it is right now. I go to a very good college, I have many luxuries; in looking at myself from this deeper place, my life is cluttered. So I should drop everything, sell all my possessions and go live in a shack in the woods, right? No, no. Here's that "should" of mine. I do not feel the call to drop everything. I cannot discredit the passion I feel for what I'm pursuing, the call to the direction in which I'm currently headed. I cannot decide that I "should" feel called to do one thing because it seems like the "spiritual" thing to do. I must listen and wait. I must call faith up from the deepest place, with no reason at all to do so other than a feeling that I must - and questioning, even that, so that I may discard any reason involved. I am very much a scientific thinker, which makes this process much more challenging for me, but also much more powerful.

There is a shift occurring within me. My inward and outward experiences are beginning to converge, my spiritual and intellectual experiences are moving toward a greater overlap. I am beginning to stop living a divided life, as Parker Palmer would call it.

I am struggling through, I am tackling doubts faithfully (as I can), I'm paying even more attention to that still, small voice within me. I am suddenly much more inwardly sensitive to my emotions; I feel my emotions with my spirit, with my core. The surface of my outward experience is sinking down, down to this deep and challenging place.

I find myself glad to be in a physical environment that challenges me further in all of this. It keeps me from being too comfortable. It helps me grow even more, stronger.

Love and Light,


Blogger Nancy A said...


One of my favourite old Quaker sayings is the greeting: "How does truth prosper in thy parts?" It used to make me giggle when I first joined the Qs.

But the deeper part of it is its emphasis on truth. Qs take truth very seriously. And for most Qs, truth is more of a verb than a noun. It's a way of knowing, the quality of a fact, rather than a "just because" factness of a fact. The opposite is true of fundamentalists--for them, truth is only ever a noun. The great chasm between us is semantic.

Anyway, for me, this old Quaker greeting is a great centring device. When I feel cluttered and struggling, I ask myself how truth is prospering in my parts. Just muttering the question distils the situation down to what is (for me) important: the truth. And it sweeps away the noun-clutter and brings everything back to verb.

So I wonder if a Quaker "scientific thinker" really *should* be "tackling doubts faithfully." If those doubts spring from a genuine concern for truth, then perhaps they should simply be accepted.

I went to a Catholic school, nuns and all, and I had one crusty teacher who used to get on the girls' cases about body image. That wasn't the term used back then, but that's what she meant. Anyway, if she ever heard any of us complain about our bodies, you know, "I hate my elbows!" she used to march us up to the mirror on the back of the classroom door, make us look at our elbows, and apologize to them--because those were our elbows and we were going to have to live with them for life. Believe it or not, for a gawky 13-year-old, the idiotic words "I'm sorry, elbows" (and we had to say it out loud in front of her) is remarkably cathartic! It brings great inner peace. It lets go of the noun-clutter of objects and brings life back to just living.

As a result of this traumatic experience in my formative years, I'm now a great believer in doubts. I have apologized to my doubts so many times now, every time I have fought with them, that now they're part of the truth, part of the verb-- hopefully, prospering in my parts.

Peace (you write beautifully!)

10/11/05 6:45 PM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

Claire, thank you for this... I find these days that I am fearful of "letting go" in my own life, in my own way. I feel you are ministering to me simply by seeking to be authentic and open with sharing your journey.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

11/11/05 8:56 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

Nancy - You speak of how the greeting "How does truth prosper in thy parts?" is a great centering device for you. Similarly, I've been thinking of another old Quaker greating - "How is the Spirit with thee, Friend?". Though they use different words, I find the same sort of meaning in them. I too, find this a good centering question.

You also say, So I wonder if a Quaker "scientific thinker" really *should* be "tackling doubts faithfully." If those doubts spring from a genuine concern for truth, then perhaps they should simply be accepted. What I mean by "tackling doubts faithfully" is not necessarily beating them up or brushing them aside as if I shouldn't be having any doubts, but more of a wrestling. I wrestle with my doubts to determine the truth that is or is not behind them, to help sort out how I am led with them (or without them). I, too, believe doubts are very important, especially since I do not want to fall into the crevace of "blind faith" where I believe things just because, even if they defy many other things I know to be true.

Liz - I'm glad to be reassured that there is importance and meaning for others (as opposed to just myself) in posting my experiences right now.

Love and Light,

13/11/05 3:07 PM  

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