One of the greatest obstacles we must overcome in the life of the spirit is the strong natural inclination to not allow You to work in our lives, but rather to control You and direct You to what we want.
We, in our daily lives with others, do not allow the kind of trust needed to place ourselves, without reserve, in the hands of another. This kind of “letting go” runs counter to a “me-first” society. In the spiritual life this is a great wall against grace. It is true, as well, that the practice of our spirituality is based too much on what we do; that is, the ways we control, organize and implement the routine of our spiritual life.
I continually hearken back to the ideal of centering prayer which is to totally empty one’s self of everything and just rest, openly and vulnerably, in being one with You. When centering prayer is not going well it is because the effort to reach the ideal has too much self in it. It is a very difficult thing for me to eliminate the influences of everything else in my life and to just breathe and “be” in You. Yet it seems in this manner the more I am able to stay out of Your way and allow You free unencumbered access to me, the more genuine is the spiritual experience as a whole.
I have found also that this experience carries over to our relationships with others. Too often we try to control others rather than just letting them “be” in our lives. On this level though the quandary of responsibility to others: wife, children, employers/employees, etc., arises. It is commonly accepted that marriage partners have rational responsibilities to one another, the carrying out of which certainly influences the lives of each and, unless openly accepted, may present the aura of one trying to control the other. The identical dynamic prevails also in parent/child relationships. From this it is not a stretch to discover the sources in the dynamics of our relationship with You. Too often we treat You as the child and ourselves as the parent rather than accepting the necessary trust of the reverse. When we are able to place our childhood in the hands of Your parenthood we can know that the relationship is right. But when we extend the logic of this relationship to our own children so that they might see the ideal of a loving relationship between a child and its parent, we experience the rebelliousness, even in ourselves, which pecks away at that relationship. That I want my child to interact with me as a parent in the same way I might want to interact as a child with You as Father is an ideal based on the trust, openness and childlike abandoning of control. Yet the child in every one of us is strongly inclined not to let our father work in our lives. Often we expend great energy and cleverness in becoming independent of our parents’ influence. In this way the drifts of our earthly lives often define our spirituality.
The seven pillars of Anthony DeMello’s Sadhanna are underpinned by a philosophy of acceptance, receptiveness and openness that helps us stay out of Your way and not control You. It is really at the heart of the spiritual life and it takes a lifetime to work at, but it is the working at it and not giving up that pleases You greatly.