I don’t even mean lay down my life for my principles, which is obviously what I should do if they are my principles. If I’m not willing to lay down my life, I should probably not call them principles. Preferences or predilections, perhaps.
But no, I can’t even manage to lay down my mornings.
Peter Kreeft says that we don’t pray because we are insane. I’ll paraphrase him and put it in the first-person, because I’ve found it holds true for me: every time I stop and take time for spiritual practice, every time I prioritize the spiritual over the mundane, I am glad I did it. I have never regretted praying or meditating. It’s like a get-out-of-anxiety-free card; and I’m a rather anxious person a lot of the time. And the mundane does not suffer as a result (day-to-day business, I mean) but seems to magically take care of itself.
So instead of empty spirit and struggles in day-to-day life, I could have a full spirit and an easy day-to-day life. (Of course I don’t mean a day-to-day life without problems and trials, but just a day-to-day life where that constant doubting agony is lifted away from all my decisions, trials and actions.)
But still, I sometimes go days without praying. The longer I go, of course, the worse the nagging feeling gets, and the harder it is to look at it straight on. But it’s so remarkably easy to do. And it has never once in my life turned out to be the wrong idea.
And skipping it has very often turned out disastrously. Oh sure, sometimes I manage to skate by. But very often I fall into all kinds of traps (usually petty, ugly evils like lying, cheating, or just shirking my duties) when I know from experience I could have done the right thing (and easily, breezily, cheerfully!) if I had just taken the time to reorient myself to the divine.
Kreeft says these are the actions of an insane person, and that we all do it. And he goes on to say that that’s exactly what the meaning of that out-of-fashion word sin is: spiritual insanity. We have everything turned exactly inside out, like an insane person.
I do know the answer to the question I posed in the headline. It’s because I’m somehow convinced of the most absurd thing: that I created myself, that I somehow made myself, and that therefore the most lovable person is me, me, me. I’m to credit for my good side, and others are to blame for my bad side.
A terrible state of affairs! The good thing is, I do know the solution. I have it right here on my crib sheet.
‘I have never regretted praying or meditating. It’s like a get-out-of-anxiety-free card; and I’m a rather anxious person a lot of the time.’
Wow, after I try to pray or meditate, I usually say to myself, “Whew, I’m a distracted slacker who can barely pay attention to a simple mental effort.”
Hmm, yeah. I do know what you mean, and the same thing happens to me.
I guess what I mean to say that, even though the act itself can sometimes be trying and difficult, my day always goes better for having attempted to connect with the divine. I shouldn’t say I end with “zero anxiety,” that’s not quite it. But yes, I definitely stand by never having regretted praying or meditating.
It was refreshing to read your 2nd-last paragraph. Likewise, parents (this just started with other aspects of humanism/liberalism) are told that we can control what our children are, or become. I even have a child-raising book which mentions that if you happen to not give your child your total, complete attention when talking to him or her, that could end up in…schizophrenia.
I know people in their 60s who still blame their parents for their own flaws, but give them no credit for their good qualities. Bizarre!
I just read something last night at One Cosmos, commenting on the phenomenon of parents trying to mold perfect little children, and he said, “As if we could take free will away from our children! Perhaps by abusing them horribly…” Or words to that effect.
Good parenting seems to me to be (among many other things) giving a child the mental, physical and spiritual tools so he’s able to use his own free will wisely and well. Neurotic, soulless parenting tries to take that free will away and replace it with can’t-fail programming routines. You cant’ take away the free will of another being, but you sure can screw things up royally by trying!