I was recently on Facebook and misread a comment someone made regarding a video that demonstrated a man’s commitment to a cause. It was a lovely piece. The actual comment was, “Dedication to a cause” as that person recognized the dedication involved. I read, “Dedication is a cause”. I love the clever way things come to us. “Dedication is a cause” has genuine significance for me.
Dedication is a decision. Deciding opens every door for miracles and transformation on every level. Dedication, commitment, and perseverance become causal factors for all that evolves henceforth. When I decided to learn how to play guitar during college I practiced faithfully. Not with instruction, but from books that provided chords to simple songs along with the schematic for each chord involved. I would assist placement of my fingers to form chords with my right hand when the fingers on my left hand couldn’t get there yet. In time, I could “hear” the cords for a tune and figured out lots of songs on my own. I played well enough to accompany songs I loved with a friend or with family and friends around a fire. It was a real joy. Because I never dedicated myself to learning more, I never went further.
Similarly, when I decided to get my Masters Degree in Counseling Education, I did everything required to achieve that degree. When I decided to move to Albuquerque from Columbus, I too, did everything to accomplish my goal. Each of us has had experiences of dedication being a cause in achieving desired outcomes.
As one striving to know spiritual life, I’ve often been frustrated with my seeming lack of dedication, believing that if I’d truly decide I’d have a greater awareness and joy in spiritual living. I’ve believed deciding would be a turning point in which my focus would more completely be on God. I further believed I’d recognize the lack of any lasting value in the things to which I still give my time, energy, and faith, in the impermanent, physical world. I believe I’d still stream movies and TV shows, have conversations with friends, but I’d no longer give-in to distractions from going within. My time devoted to spiritual practice would increase. God would be my goal.
The “promise” is that we could experience greater freedom from attachments and the fear and suffering of physical life. Even the challenges that did occur in the world would be met with a higher hand, with faith, and certainty of the love of God for us in all things. The promise is that as we seek the kingdom and to know God, all things would be added. I believe this. In fact, the goal alone, is to know God. It's not even about appeasing pain and struggle. That respite from pain and struggle is a result of spiritual striving.
Of course, our decisions have resulted in our current spiritual practice. And, in our striving, we want more. It’s the frustration many of us experience. We’ve come far enough to be certain the peace of God is experienced by going within. We’ll never gain more with our attention in the activities of the outer world. An unfortunate aspect in this is that the ego skillfully uses our dissatisfaction as a voice for self-judgment and self-defeating condemnation rather than encouraging us to do better.
I’m certain, a dedication to spiritual living doesn’t mean we’d only meditate all day, sit under a tree, watch spiritual videos, and read books that inspire and teach Truth. We wouldn’t have to live in a cave or join an ashram. I always come back to the idea of “being in the world knowing we are not of the world”, for in this experience of joy and freedom we’d have a perspective that would change everything. Our conscious awareness would increasingly be in God.
We’d have a more intimate relationship with divine qualities including beauty, goodness, justice, joy, and freedom. We’d know love and strive for harmlessness in all things. Yes, we’d shop, cook, eat, clean, work, go to a job, visit with friends, make love, and be of service to others. The senseless worries and judgments that take our peace and detract from our lovingness would be minimized and over time, disappear. These are my thoughts of how life may well be.
Half measures avail us nothing. It is dedication and perseverance that bring the rewards we seek. Joining with others who share spiritual values encourages our development. We cease judging our progress for we are inadequate to judge. Most of us are neophytes on the path and we often misinterpret our progress. Rather, we live a day at a time, seeking an awareness of the divine. We give ourselves a reprieve and simply do our best in living a practical, spiritual life day to day. Surely, dedication is our striving to know and be more.