What does a seeker need?  Perhaps two things are paramount. The first is a deep wish. It is the sense in one’s life that something is missing, something perhaps ineffable, but nevertheless somehow there, that I wish to come closer to. The sense of this other current, and the wish for it, is not given to everyone. But it is a necessary prerequisite. Unless I sense that something is missing, why should I begin to search for that something?

The second requirement, just as important as my wish, is my resistance. The degree of my resistance corresponds to the degree of inner friction I experience. It is that friction, the choice between “yes” and “no,” that is needed for my development.

This resistance can come in many guises. A simple inertia: should I today practice my early morning meditation or prayer or skip it? Or the resistance could be a misguided belief that I have gotten all I can from a teaching: I now know what is there, on to the next new thing, where the grass is greener. Or the resistance may be more active, a sense that the people involved are lacking something, that their words and actions do not correspond to my high expectations.

All of it is resistance, and all of it is food for the next stage, wherever I am now. It is facile to say that the resistance is a gift when it is mixed with real suffering. So, perhaps then not to call it a gift, if we are honest with ourselves. Instead we can simply say it is a preparation of bitter herbs, a medicine that is hard to swallow, and works in a way I do not understand.

I think I am stuck because of my resistance. But it is the opposite. Without resistance, and the work to overcome it, I am stuck where I am, with no possibility of any further development.

Perhaps our work is to see our resistance when it arises, and then welcome it, just as a Judo student might bow to his or her opponent before beginning the match. My resistance is not an interference, but is instead the necessary precondition for progress along my spiritual path.

Lead us into temptation, so that, in our struggle we shall by turns both overcome and fail. When we overcome, not once, but again and again, we come to see that one can indeed live a life that, however imperfectly, includes a deeply spiritual component. But the failures are at least as valuable, perhaps even more so. In our failing, we see ourselves for who and what we are. Seeing the truth of ourselves might then over time diminish our insidious self-love, so embedded deeply within. Without the struggle, and the recognition of our failures that will certainly occur, we remain satisfied with our state, satisfied with our efforts, satisfied with who we are.

Holy affirming, Holy denying.


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  1. Great, Dennis. Right on.

  2. Thank you, Larry. Best wishes to you.

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