Monday, November 14, 2016

Following a Righteous Path

Using the word "Righteous" often evokes images of religious people's defending their efforts to make others obey the rules and ways of things as they see it.  These aren't always pretty pictures and the association of the concept of righteousness has been misplaced or hijacked, depending on the point of view by zealotry.

Facts are facts though my friends and one doesn't need to be a zealot in order to live a righteous life.  Bear in mind though that a righteous lifestyle is often an idealistic, difficult and lonely lifestyle.

It's idealistic because you are living according to values and ideas that may not always materialize instant results or provide immediate gratification.  Many surmise that the concept of the heavens was concocted in order to give the followers of religions who encouraged righteous living something to see and look forward to.  However, for those religions that began to put an "If-Then" clause on moving from this plane of existence to the spirit world as a reward or punishment for how well they followed said righteous lifestyle, things became even more convoluted.  As the saying goes, When first we practise to deceive, what a tangled web we weave."  Another applicable saying here is that "Good intentions pave the road to Hell"  ("Hell" in my usage essentially meaning the worst possible end results.)

However, idealism is important.  We shouldn't get lost in idealism so much so that we set ourselves up to fail by trying to achieve the in-achievable or the impractical.  Always keep in mind that living a righteous lifestyle is a practise, not an end result.  Ideals are things we base hopes, dreams, goals and motivations on.  Being people we are imperfect and we will fail from time to time.  We are made to fail because from failure we can examine where we went wrong, and perhaps find a better or different way to accomplish or get closer to the ideal.  Failure is a good thing if we use it as a way to learn and improve.

A  righteous lifestyle is also a difficult lifestyle because when we choose a righteous lifestyle, we are essentially "shooting for the moon".  No easy task at all.  We are saying to ourselves that being "good enough" is not always good enough.  We are accepting nothing short of what is "right".  Again, never get lost in the actual accomplishment of the goal.  Achieving the goal once or twice is fine but it doesn't end at that.  Living a righteous path means that every day is about the effort to achieve the same thing.  Every day also brings us new challenges and obstacles that may interrupt or prevent us from that pursuit.

Back to the point about failure.  It's OK to fail.  We are not perfect and life is not "perfect" because it is in constant flux.  The course we set for ourselves is a hard road to go.  Sometimes we will experience weakness in ourselves.  Sometimes we will find the road blocked or even impassable.  We need to find another way to get back on track.  Yes, it is difficult and a constant challenge that will make us weary and weak many times.  Get back up anyway.  Keep trying regardless.  Make the effort knowing you won't get far but how far you get isn't as important as the fact that you haven't given up.  Little or slow progress is still progress and is infinitely better than quitting or going backwards.

A righteous lifestyle is known as taking the high road because it's an uphill climb the whole way.  Sometimes the grade is steep, sometimes not steep at all.  Quitting or choosing to go downhill is taking the low road and leads to taking the path of least resistance.  You are never challenged.  You are not growing an building yourself.  You are just coasting through life, compromising any values you had just to make the path easier.

No my friends, a righteous lifestyle is not for the timid or the weak willed.  Know that, accept that and keep climbing.

Finally, a righteous lifestyle is a lonely life.  First of all, We know that we are sent into this existence alone.  No one can live our life for us and neither should we try to dictate or otherwise live someones life for them.  This is one thing that often goes awry when large collective religions try to push people into a righteous lifestyle.  They ago from informing, motivating and supporting people living a righteous lifestyle to trying to dictate the terms of that righteousness.

The way of the Indigenous Earth is knowing that each of us walks our own path and are responsible for no one but ourselves ultimately.  In this world, we share the resources and the world itself with others also on their own path and part of our life lessons are too learn to collaborate, work together to accomplish greater things. To give of ourselves, to share, to learn from others and to teach or be an example for others.

Yet for all of our interaction and sharing of this life with so many others around us, living a righteous lifestyle often keeps our focus on what we are doing, what our own goals and efforts should be and are.  We look around at others and see them not doing or living the same way that we are.  We seek companionship.  We seek validation.  We seek immediate gratification in the form of approval from our friends, family and those in the world around us.  When we don't think or fell we are getting those things because our chosen path has us doing something different from those we can see, we get lonesome.

When we see few to no others doing the same thing, it's all too easy to second guess ourselves and to question if we are doing the right thing.  It's natural to think and feel those things.  Those are part of the built in challenges of living in this plane, this Material world.

Don't despair, though at times we will.  We will feel sorry for ourselves and we will feel a terrible burden of loneliness.  We think there is no light at the end of the tunnel and that the grass is greener with those following a different path.  These are the times to  fight hardest for each step.  These are the times to look to the Creator and ask for strength, determination and courage.

Prayer helps.  Prayer does a few things for us.  It gives us a "person to person" communication to God and it helps us to find solace and comfort in the words themselves. Prayer also helps because it is often helpful to hear ourselves verbalize what it is that we are trying to accomplish.   Meditation helps.  By concentrating on an image or specific words or concepts we "re-set" our frame of mind.

May I suggest trying this process the next time you are feeling low, unmotivated, weak or lonesome?

First pray.  It doesn't matter where you are, what day it is or what time it is.  Spill your guts to God.  first tell him what you are thinking, feeling and experiencing.  Then think of the ideals you are working to live up to.  With those in mind, ask God not give you those things or to do them for you.  Ask instead for help in getting a grasp on getting yourself back into a place to do it yourself. Remember that God helps those who help themselves.  If you are looking for the resources to solve your problems yourself, you will find more often than not that you will have the things you need to be successful.

Finding the words and the important things to focus on through prayer then sets you up to meditate.  Find a space that you can focus on what you are trying to accomplish.  Relax and spend some time just thinking about the goal in general.  Think about what achieving those goals will feel like and where it will put you on your path.

The form of meditation doesn't have to be the Buddhist chanting or similar examples that often come to mind first.  It could be sitting in your favorite quiet place, listening to the sounds of the world or listening to songs that focus on those goals and values you are pursuing.  It could be playing a game of solitaire or even doing a crossword puzzle and other similar things which help you to "zone out" of the multitude of white noise in the world and helps you to be calm, relaxed and focused.

Doing these things can often help us to realize that many of the things we think are "problems" with the people around us are actually our own problems manifesting themselves as envy, jealousy, selfishness and a host of other things that we experience as stumbling blocks.

The path of a righteous lifestyle is often frustrating and confusing.  We need to take breaks along the way to check our spiritual compass so to speak.  We may find that were getting lost or off-track even when we thought the path was right in front of us.  It happens more than we think and that's OK too.

Remember, it's the effort as much as the goal that is important.

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