Gray Wolf made one of her rare visits to the circle, and after a talk by Raven she remarked, “The goal of practice seems to be just more practice.”
Raven bobbed his head. “Well?”
Gray Wolf hesitated, and then asked, “So there’s no end to it?”
Raven hopped down from his perch to a little hummock beside Gray Wolf, put his beak to her ear, and murmured, “Thank goodness.”
Robert Aitken, Zen Master Raven
One of my favorite books is Zen Master Raven: Sayings and Doings of a Wise Bird. I admire Raven’s wisdom and adore his sense of humor. I love this excerpt because it sums up my reflection on spirituality — it’s a never ending journey!
That reminds me of the famous quote by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit priest and philosopher:
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
This quote and variations thereof have been used quite often by Stephen Covey and Wayne Dyer. Although de Chardin died in 1955, I’m certain he’s pleased that his powerful words are so widely shared and appreciated.
Which, going back to Robert Aitken’s book, Zen Master Raven, that’s really what Raven is talking about. Known as the wise bird, all of the other animals come to sit with him to meditate and seek advice. They want to know more about their life experience and what matters most. Essentially, it’s the same question that so many of us ask: “Why am I here?”
What I’ve come to believe is that the search for one’s purpose should never end. When we feel like we know why we’re here, once that mission is complete, search again for a new purpose. After all, life continually evolves to make space for the spirit through its release. The stronger we become in Spirit, the more we come to understand the why. The more we understand the why, the more we alter our life to accommodate it.
And then there’s the path — we each have our own. Your path, your practice, your spiritual beliefs. When one pursues the path of their spirit, there can be no right or wrong. It’s the learning along the way that makes it all worthwhile. Even Raven has an opinion on this topic.
Black Bear asked, “Am I on the right path?”
Raven said, “Of course. Wolverine is on the right path.”
Black Bear said, “Wolverine? He seems pretty far afield.”
Raven said, “His path.”
If you are actively questioning and seeking your path, your way, your spirit, do not be discouraged. That is your path! What you discover along the way are the experiences of your journey, the very events that give your life meaning.
How do you know you’re on the right path? Check your pulse. Got one? You are just where you need to be!
Or as Raven would say, “Have to start somewhere.”
Just don’t forget to keep practicing!