This was yesterday's Daily Om. I have some thoughts on this below the quote.
Uncharted TerritoryFor most of human history, there was only a limited access to inner states for the majority of people, and very little emphasis placed on exploring those states unless one was a theologian, philosopher, or some other type of privileged person.
When we are lost, we typically look at a map to figure out where we are and how to get to our chosen destination. This works well, assuming that there is a map of the territory in which we find ourselves, and assuming that we know our destination. However, this is not always the case. At this time in human history, we are all venturing into uncharted territory, whether we know it or not. And as individuals, we may find ourselves covering ground that our predecessors never even knew existed. When we look to them for guidance, they often come up short. Not knowing exactly where we are, we find ourselves unsure of which way to go, and eventually the uneasy feeling that we are lost presents itself.
The beauty of being lost is the same thing that makes it scary—it asks us to look within ourselves to find the way. If we have no map, we must go on instinct, relying on our inner compass to show us which way to go. This can be scary because so much seems to be riding on it. We fear we might go too far in the wrong direction, or become paralyzed and make no progress at all. And yet, this is the very challenge we need to develop our ability to trust ourselves. We are also learning to trust that the universe will support and guide us. We may believe this intellectually, but it is only through experience that it becomes knowledge of the heart. Learning to be okay with being lost and trusting that we will be guided, we begin our journey.
We can support ourselves by confirming that we don’t need to know exactly where we are going in order to take our first steps. We are learning to feel our own way, rather than following an established path, and in doing so we learn to trust ourselves. It is this trust that connects us to the universe and reminds us that no matter how lost we feel, and even as we journey, on the inner level we are already home.
All that changed in the 20th Century. And while psychology and various religions tried -- and still try -- to offer us maps of our interior worlds, many of us still feel lost on occasion. This is a common feeling that many people are afraid to admit. We are expected, especially men, to know who we are, where we are going in life, and what we want. We are supposed to have a plan and a map.
I think that's a load of crap.
Feeling lost is the first step toward giving up our certainty. When we are certain, there is no new information getting in, so we are closed off, isolated, and stagnant. When we are certain, life is not a marvelous mystery buzzing with newness and filling us with curiosity -- it becomes an ism: theism, atheism, scientism, integralism, and on and on.
Certainly, some maps are useful (and I have been and will continue to be a fan of certain maps I have found useful over the years), and if nothing else they can help orient ourselves when things get tough. But the real living takes place far from any maps, far from any certainty -- if we allow it.
I like the mystery, though I certainly wish I had a better map on some occasions. But I like living without a plan, with no idea what might be around the next corner. And I like making up the map as I go along. We are all explorers, and we are all creating the known terrain from which future generations will wander, lacking a map and making it up as they progress.
Life should be about the exploration, not the map or the plan. Life should be a mystery.