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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The algebra of spirituality

Looking back at my youth and all the years of education, I can safely say that I spent at last sixteen years studying mathematics.
I started with the simple arithmetic on the first grade and ended up with the calculus and spherical trigonometry in my college years.

After college, the most sophisticated mathematical problem I ever solved was something like: “If the house I want to buy is $633000.00 and I have $22000 saved in my banking account. How much more money do I have to save in order to have a 10% down payment?
Of course, I didn’t even have to calculate that myself. Any real-estate agent would have done it for me for free.

The point I am trying to make here is that after spending all this time and effort learning math I barely used any of that knowledge and I will probably never use it for the rest of my life.
At the same time after sixteen years of schooling I didn’t have the basic knowledge on how to handle the daily challenges of the adult life.

I started my adult life knowing calculus but not knowing the basics of managing my money or investing.
I could do trigonometry but I didn’t have the basic knowledge on how to have a healthy relationship or how to start a successful happy family.
All I needed to know in life I had to learn it the hard way, by trial and error.

The other day I pulled out of my library Master Dōgen Zenji, "Shobogenzo” and started reading through it because I wanted to write a short review of the book for my blog.
As I kept on reading I become more and more frustrated. The task was getting harder and harder every passing minute and in the end, I just gave up.
The only thing I could think of saying about the book was “You have to read it, you must read it if you are serious about practicing Zen”

I went back to my room and meditate for fifteen minutes. That cleared my mind and cheered me up.
I came back to my desk with one question in my mind.
“What is the most important thing, the wisdom that one can take out of this book and apply it to better himself and his life? And then the question exploded. “What part of my spiritual learning do I actually use in my daily life?”

I was astonished to figure out that like the math I learned in school my spiritual learning did not help very much in my daily life.
All my spiritual practice was the result of a trial and error process. In other words, everything I learn from books I had to change and adapt in order to make it work. But that was heresy and I fought that thought out of my mind but the thought just kept on coming back stronger and stronger.

How much of our spiritual learning do we actually use?

Looking at the state of our nation and our planet I think we are not using very much of it.
After all the planet is been in a continuous state of war in one part or another. Poverty and inequality, corruption and violence are the “normal” states of our nations. Bigotry, racism, chauvinism, prejudice and persecution are still alive and well even in this 21st century, not to mention the planet becoming every day more and more like a garbage dump.

US and US citizens pride themselves as Christian people and nation. Do we leave up to that name?
Are we practicing what we are preaching to the rest of the world?
And not only the Christians but all the rest of us.
How much of our spiritual learnings do we use in our daily life?
And most important Y?

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