Crossing The River
I have seen the river I must cross. It is a revelation. Crossing it is another matter – a question of hard work. This is the hard work M. Scott Peck describes in his ground breaking (at the time) though overly theistic work, The Road Less Travelled.
Peck suggests that “love” as we normally describe it is nothing more than a chemical high of endorphins that we attach to our love object. By repeatedly feeling good when we think of or encounter our love object we get a little addicted to the endorphins rushing round our brains and the “up” they give us. We cathect (ar attach) these feelings to the person and, hey presto, we’re “in love”. Of course, like most addictions, this one loses its efficacy in time, hence the very high divorce rate.
Peck’s alternative definition of love is one with which I wholly concur: Love is the hard work we do to overcome our own ego in relating to another. Crossing the river I have seen is much the same only writ large and inspired by the suffering we see all around us. Only the river is in flood and I am the river and it is that which must be overcome.
Jesus sat in the desert for thirty days, Buddha under the bodhi tree. When I try and sit, the river continually overwhelms me: that is my path right now: to be continually overwhelmed and wracked and then from time to time to stop from sheer neccessity and breathe. I think it is a strange overlap of trying to recover from abuse whilst trying to be a meditator. The abuse was only survived through the repression of a never stopping mind. The meditator’s first aim is to let the mind exhaust itself and come to a natural calm abiding or peace. Then meditation in earnest may begin: the meditations of percieving and comprehending and unpacking the self that is meditating. Because, as long as I am in the river, and not crossing it, when I see you it is my perceptions and habits of mind I see more than you. Which is the river I must cross.