"Spiritual apathy is called the monk's vice by
Aquinas, as it was first recognized in monastic
situations and continues to be prevalent in them. It is a
failure to pursue the goals that you really want to
pursue, a kind of lassitude about seeking the most
important things you want. This vice's character is, I
believe, very hard to understand, but I see it in myself
and others all the time. That is, you love something good
but you just cannot bring yourself to do what it is
necessary to obtain it -for instance, to practice
meditation consistently or to write the book you want to
write. Spiritual apathy is also a very good example of
the way some vices (as well as virtues) can lie so deep
within a person that they are never manifested clearly.
That is, people who suffer from spiritual apathy may be
very active, but their frantic activity covers up the
fact that they cannot pursue the goals they most want to
obtain." Quote from Healing Emotions, Conversations
with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions and Health,
a Lee Yearly article on Virtues in Christian and Buddhist
I have had some experience with this in my own spiritual
practice. An example - after I teach a meditation class
is a great time for me to sit. My meditation at that time
is usually deep and effortless as the vrittis are
relatively settled and my awareness is already focused
internally. I've observed that I often come home and eat
something instead. Then I go to bed without meditating.
I think it's root is fear. Of what? Taking responsibility
maybe. Of success? As we learn to observe the thoughts,
it's relatively easy to observe the ego working on an
obvious level. Is this a subtle way to undermine our
spiritual search? To keep us stuck? Why when we yearn for
something do we sometimes get in our own way?
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What is interpreted as apathy could be the result of
de-conditioning: If so, it will just continue and nothing
has to be undermined.
What is a "search" or "practice"
without expectation? Pastime? Even from a pastime there
is expectation... Undermining the practice, different
First, welcome. Who cares? (couldn't resist) But
seriously, where are you going? Perhaps the apathy is a
relaxation of seeking... and being as the present. The
vrittis are relatively settled, awareness is internally
focused, is there a need at that point for formal
meditation? The physical entity responds to its own
requirement for sustenance and rest. I question the
reality of any goal that is forever just around the
corner. But at the same time there is always the rushing
towards. So there it is, the real rushing towards the
unreal and the unreal towards the real. A matter of
points of view, one real, one projected. Which is
happening now, and forever. 'Now' being real. 'Forever'
being unreal. You write of fear, of success or of taking
responsibility. But you are already perfect. There is no
choice. Failure is impossible so is success. Tick tock is
the clock responsible or not or neither or both. Now
there is no such thing. If it is truly seen that there is
no choice fear has no place to take hold. What is the
root of fear?
ps... there is a feeling of being on an edge, on the
brink, in your post. Of what?
"To keep us stuck? Why when we yearn for something
do we sometimes get in our own way?"
Maybe you have to step even further back in your
analysis. Why do you yearn for "something"? If
there was no yearning, there would be no getting in the
One could remark that a stone doesn't yearn either...
Yearning could be interpreted as a sign of feeling
separated, that separation disappearing when the object
of yearning has been attained. And it is obvious that
intellectual knowledge like "there is nothing to
attain" won't evaporate that yearning... When
yearner, yearning and the object of yearning become one,
who is left to yearn?
Lynn is suggesting that the root of spiritual apathy is
fear and that we may undermine our own spiritual search.
I think this is correct, and ask, Why is it not desirable
to undermine the spiritual search?
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Seems to me like you are asking a real question.
Spirituality is about the human condition and the problem
of existence. It is ALL ABOUT VOLITION. The ONE that does
not have volition, that does not yearn, etc. is not the
one who turns to NDS for direction, comfort, maybe a
little light and hope in their dark night.
Is anyone trying to say that the Love which abides in the
absolute ALL of its own beingness (or whatever jargon you
want to use) is somehow not "adaptable" enough,
not actually loving enough to simultaneously meet the
human need--to comfort, heal, guide? Of course divine
Love never leaves heaven for earth (metaphorically
speaking) of course divine Love doesn't yearn and have
need or experience self-division, but human consciousness
does. And the miracle of grace is that this the
dispersing of that darkened consciousness perceives this
infinite Love (in St. Paul's words) "through a dark
mirror"---as love meeting the human need.
The fact that we often confuse our human wants for our
human need, or that our idea of "need" the
divine reality of it are often miles apart, does not
annul the existence of need.
Or are we going to get stuck at the abstract level of
"Whose to say what that need is?"
Intelligence tells us what the need is. Love tells us
what that need is.
Theory is great but it doesn't help us change the flat
tire beautifully, get up and feed the baby at 2:00 a.m. I
gotta go with William Blake: "Eternity is in love
with the productions of time." That's the truly
non-dual and the mysterious.
The problem of being is existential. Anyone who is
oblivious of the problem or has somehow managed to encase
themselves in a surrealistic bubble that they mistake for
"clarity" is confused. The question first posed
re: spiritual apathy and self-division is a real question
and a real problem.
There is the other possibility of course---that the
person who hasn't or doesn't face the issue of what I
call the "divided will / divided love" in their
own life, the person who no longer struggles with the
problem articulated by St. Paul as "The good that I
do I would not and that which I would not do, I
do."--this person has somehow and joyfully managed
to surpass Jesus himself, who on the Cross cried out from
this same place of anguish---"Why hast thou forsaken
me O Lord?" In that case, all I can do is
congratulate them, or bow at their feet.
Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep yearning. Keep loving.
Sincerity will invite much more clarity for all of us
than does doctrine, no matter how ND that doctrinal
"correctness" might articulate itself.
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Your inquiry, Lynn, seems to have called forth the usual
replies from this space.. from those (guys mostly) who
speak from the One dimension.. eschewing any credibility
of the multidimensionality of our human existence.
I often wonder.. should I go elsewhere to speak of the
human face? Elsewhere to know the fellowship of others
who are living in the Venn overlap of both the human
face, and the Heart of Being, which embraces and
dissolves it? Elsewhere to speak and learn from the ways
we are being taught to mature in the stream, through
releasing of ideas which no longer fit. To be asked
"who speaks?; who learns? and how can perfection
mature?" are useful as examining levers of the focal
point of bound identity; but also can elicit contraction
as well as expansion.
It seems to me, there is a certain imbalance in the
righteousness of only speaking from the monotone voice of
the 'Self realized'. Though I have no doubt that there
are, amongst this list, those who have realized Self, the
tenor of the absolute is not always absolution (eg
reconciliation) for those of us seeking nothing, knowing
nothing, just simply living the vagaries of a life of
attention... flowing, more or less encumbered, with what
shows up. The reconciliation which leads to dissolution
seems always, for me, through bringing all to the altar
of the living heart.
So.. I'll risk being wrong here and speak with you as a
friend.. as one who might sit with you over a cup of tea
and look (by your side) at what is presenting as inquiry
"I think it's root is fear. Of what? Taking
responsibility maybe. Of success? As we learn to observe
the thoughts, it's relatively easy to observe the ego
working on an obvious level. Is this a subtle way to
undermine our spiritual search? To keep us stuck? Why
when we yearn for something do we sometimes get in our
You ask about apathy. I can't speak to "spiritual
apathy", as I no longer know what that might mean.
But I do know apathy and stuckness and the host of other
ways the tricksters mind and emotions can obfuscate an
essential current of clarity. I ask myself, what is it
that I Am response-able for? "Success" as a
Being benchmark no longer applies here. How could we
presume to know what success would look like? As do you,
I observe the thought patterns, and the measurements of
success are always ones socially given, based on learned
values. They have value in the world we buy our
groceries, but hold no resonance in the expanse of living
Your question "is this a subtle way to undermine our
spiritual search?" reads here as essentially the
opposite of what this list is about. If I am reading you
incorrectly, please let me know. I hear this question as
spoken from a lens position of a self, intent upon a
spiritual practice towards a goal of moving closer to
whatever "spirit" means to you. And your
inquiry is whether ego is undermining the essential
intent, as laid out. The direction of those on this list,
is to examine the very self which thinks it has anywhere
to go to know 'spirit'. And furthermore.. to gradually or
suddenly recognize the, rather radical, possibility that
there is no self here at all.. merely an infrastructure
of ideas/thoughts/emotions woven with such exquisitely
subtle intricacy that it never occurs to pause and
examine it's own realism. Once this turn, this pause,
this (as Jan says) de-conditioning begins,
infrastructures begin collapsing. As Tim says to Susan:
"I 'hear you'... suffering is real enough to the
sufferer. The sufferer may begin to question its own
reality. The presence of the *sufferer* is the problem,
not the suffering.
Until the sufferer realizes its own fundamental
nonexistence (not doctrinally, not conceptually, but
directly and experientially), there are only band-aids to
slap over wounds that never heal."
While I recognize the truth spoken in this statement, I'd
also like to suggest that there is a way of being with
each other, through the transition (of de-construction)
which can be compassionate The band-aids can also mature
and need not be toxic to the process. We can be present
in the fullness of heart, or space; as aid to the bands
still contracting. We can meet the contraction of our
selves or each other and listen to it's atonality in such
a way that we surrender and allow it to be ingested into
the spaciousness of the living heart. The foreground is
subsumed by the Background of love, present Now.
Gradually "the presence of the *sufferer*" is
seen, not as "problem" to be obliterated, but
merely as inanimate flotsam, no longer magnetically
drawing forth animation.
The ebbing of need for animation is what I am learning
here. What is spoken rarer here is expression of the
heart of containment. Tim says:
"'Divine love' is what we *are*, not what we
And while I wholeheartedly agree.. there is still here a
human who is graced when this is met in living presence
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Excerpt from Zen In the Art of Archery by Eugene
Herrigel, tr. R.F.C. Hull
Master- "You must hold the drawn bowstring, like a
little child holding the proffered finger. It grips it so
firmly that one marvels at the strength of the tiny fist.
And when it lets the finger go, there is not the
slightest jerk. Do you know why? Because a child doesn't
think: 'I will now let go of the finger in order to grasp
this other thing'. Completely unself-consciously, without
purpose, it turns from one to the other, and we would say
that it was playing with the things, were it not equally
true that the things are playing with the child?"
"Do you know why you can not wait for the shot and
why you get out of breath before it has come? The right
shot at the right moment does not come because you do not
let go of yourself. You do not wait for fulfillment, but
brace yourself for failure. So long as that is so, you
have no choice but to call forth something yourself that
ought to happen independently of you, and so long as you
call it forth your hand will not open in the right way -
like the hand of a child."
Herrigel- "For ultimately, I draw the bow and loose
the shot in order to hit the target. The drawing is thus
a means to an end, and I cannot lose sight of this
connection. The child knows nothing of this, but for me
the two things cannot be disconnected"
Master- "The right art, is purposeless, aimless! The
more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow
for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will
succeed in the one and the further the other will recede.
What stands in your way is that you have a much too
willful will. You think that what you do not do yourself
does not happen."
Herrigel- "So I must become purposeless...on
I have found this book to be helpful re: goals and
undermining them...etc... At the same time I am aware
that there is some controversy around Herrigel.
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apathetically spiritual: been there, done that - hooie!
It's a trick. Yup! A trick!
god/universe/conciousness/brahma/totality by whatever
name has tricked itself into being. Being what? Just
being. Why? Just because.
Pardon the silly language. But, the other day god itself
came knocking on my front door. I let it in and offered
it coffee. It said thanks but no thanks. What it wanted
me to do was to stop telling people that everybody is
Well! I just told it to kiss my lily white ass! Now as
you may well imagine, it started to get more that a
When I reminded it of the .0001% solution. It said,
"Damn! The escape clause. Oh very well, go
There you have it folks. We are already god.
Have a good eternity!
HAHAHAH and HOHOHO!
Apathy comes from being caught between two fears:
One, that you will never reach the self-realization you
The other, that you will.
The fear that your conditioned identity is dissolving in
the truth of you is very strong. It seems as if there is
an entity called *I* which fights for its life.
In actuality though, it is just the tendency of forms to
maintain themselves and to resist change... including the
form made up of ideas and memories called
Looking into the fear directly... more closely... leads
to seeing through to what is beyond all fear.
note: We never heard from Lynn after
all the discussion. I heard that she thought most of the
responses, except for Christiana's, were b.s. --Jerrry
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