Contemplations · How to Practice · Reflections on Life

How do we find our Path?

Seems the story goes something like this……………..   (The truth of the ox herding pictures is wrapped up in this narrative)

We all begin life like a blank sheet of paper. Like a child living at home, all their needs are met by their parents.

At some point, we begin to notice that we have needs that we must satisfy ourselves. The object of those needs all seem to be outside ourselves.

We begin to chase these objects of our needs.

We gradually forget the all sufficient feeling of nature we knew when we were children, until that nature all but vanishes.

We begin to pursue the things that grab our attention, first cautiously, then flagrantly, losing the respect for the life which we are wasting moment by moment, day by day.

We begin to gradually realize that these objects of our affections, at best can satisfy us only momentarily. We are hungry with a hunger that cannot be filled.

We begin to get experienced in pursuing and capturing. And we start to wonder how it is that, once we have the object of our pursuit, that its importance begins to fade almost immediately after its capture.

We begin to notice that what we are trying to fill with this need of external things, is a need inside of us, and that this is possibly why external things don’t satisfy us.

We have some experiences where this inner void is filled with something less tangible than an external object (love?). It makes us curious about this inner void and what might fill it.

Often, something traumatic happens, and we are thrown into a spin, wondering what life is all about; why am I alive? what is my purpose?……

This trauma leads to a fork in our path….

We either suppress the feelings this trauma awoke, and continue on, but never manage to silence the question completely, and it begins to eat at us.


We begin to pay more attention to this thing inside of us, which seems to be calling us…. but what is it that is calling us? Where would it lead? Some may call this thing God, and begin looking outside themselves again, hoping to find an external God that will satisfy them.

If we keep looking for an inner answer, we start to search inside for this meaning, but for most of us, we bump into so many dead ends, that the search ends up feeling fruitless, and many of us give up the search.

Some of us find a path inwards which “strikes a chord of truth” in our hearts. If that happens, we will begin a new part of our search. One where we are sometimes convinced we are “getting somewhere” in our search, but it is often or immediately followed by a nagging doubt, that we are being tricked.

If we continue, and are diligent, we begin to be endlessly tugged to and fro, sometimes hot on the trail, sometimes cold, sometimes doubtful, sometimes disappointed and depressed. None the less, we push on…

Again, lost in the struggle, the urge to throw the towel in, and go back to that life of mindless pursuit tempts us to give up. And possibly we do…… usually only for a time…

We find that even more, the pursuit of exterior objects is even less satisfying. We need more and more, and we are less satisfied. Like a drug, we need to up the dose to get a buzz.

It comes to….. “had enough? Fed up?” All options come onto the table, and all options are considered. How shall we resolve this sense of endless struggle, dissatisfaction and hunger?

If the voice of our fleeting forays; searching for an inner path can still be heard, we will decide to give this path one more serious try. (For some, the road to true faith isn’t so bumpy…. but this persons road has definitely been bumpy!)

If we press forward, there will be a tipping point. One where the satisfaction we find from the inner light brings us real hope that we have found our way. The inner light becomes brighter than the pull to exterior pursuit or depression.

When true faith is kindled, and the inner light starts to bring true satisfaction, the external objects which once enslaved us, come alive and shimmering, as we learn to be free in the world, and not be enslaved by it.

The truth of the ox herding pictures is wrapped up in this story………


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