What Is My Way? Meditation
We are quick to tell our children that they can’t always have their own way, even implying that there is something wrong with wanting it. And when they ask, “Why not, Mommy?”, “Why not, Daddy?”, and we have come to the end of our explanations or our patience, we are likely to say, “Never mind. Just listen to me. You’ll understand when you grow up.” But isn’t this more than a little unfair? Don’t we adults behave in exactly the same way as our children?
Don’t we want to have things our own way too, all the time if possible? How are we different from the children except that we are less honest and open
about it? And what if we could have our own way? What would it be? Do you remember the trouble that people get into in fairy tales when they are offered three wishes by a genie or a dwarf or a witch? The people of Maine are known for saying, “You can’t get there from here,” when asked for directions. In terms of life directions, perhaps it is truer to say, “You can only get there if you are fully here.” How many of us are aware of this little twist in the fabric of fate? Would we know what our way is if we could have it? Would getting our way solve anything at all, or would it only make more of a mess of our lives were it possible to realize our wishes on impulse out of our so frequently mindless states of mind? The truly interesting question here is, “What exactly is my way?”, meaning my “Way” with a capital W.
Rarely do we contemplate our life with this degree of probing. How frequently do we linger in such basic questions as “Who am I?”, “Where am I going?”, “What path am I on?”, “Is this the right direction for me?”, “If I could choose a path now, in which direction would I head?”, “What is my yearning, my path?”, “What do I truly love?” Contemplating “What is my Way?” is an excellent element to inject into our meditation practice. We
don’t have to come up with answers, nor think that there has to be one particular answer. Better not to think at all. Instead, only persist in asking the
question, letting any answers that formulate just come of themselves and go of themselves. As with everything else in the meditation practice, we just
watch, listen, note, let be, let go, and keep generating the question, “What is my Way?”, “What is my path?”, “Who am I?” The intention here is to remain open to not knowing, perhaps allowing yourself to come to the point of admitting, “I don’t know,” and then experimenting with relaxing a bit into this not knowing instead of condemning yourself for it. After all, in this moment, it may be an accurate statement of how things are for you. Inquiry of this kind itself leads to openings, to new understandings and visions and actions. Inquiry takes on a life of its own after a while. It permeates the pores of your being and breathes new vitality, vibrancy, and grace into the bland, the humdrum, the routine. Inquiry will wind up “doing you” rather than you doing it. This is a good way to find the path that lies closest to your heart. After all, the journey is one of heroic proportions, but so much more so if enlivened by wakefulness and a commitment to adventurous inquiry. As a human being, you are the central figure in the universal hero’s mythic journey, the fairy tale, the Arthurian quest. For men and women alike, this journey is the trajectory between birth and death, a human life lived. No one escapes the adventure. We only work with it differently. Can we be in touch with our own life unfolding? Can we rise to the occasion of our own humanity? Can we take on the challenges we meet, even seeking them out to test ourselves, to grow, to act in a principled way, to be true to ourselves, to find our own way, and ultimately not only have it but, more importantly, live it?
-His Holiness Swami Advaitananda