Here is how I got my answer this morning.
Before I take a hike I like to have a clear mind.
So I do this exercise.
It takes no longer than putting on my hiking boots.
I first quiet the mind
I come to stillness.
Feel the feet on the floor.
Take a full moment to notice how they feel inside the socks, with boots flat on the floor.
Notice the gentle play of air on the bare face and hands.
Stay with it a moment.
Then opening the listening wide, taking in all sounds,
I drop all my opinions – good or bad.
And just plain — listen.
I take a full moment to stay with the listening.
I Add a Bit of Spiritual Reading
I usually do this before breakfast.
But today I missed.
So I read this just before leaving on my hike.
It took just a few minutes to fill my mind with fresh, useful thoughts.
For me these come from either the Bible or the Bhagavad Gita.
This morning they came from these fourteen verses of the Bhagavad Gita.
I’d like to think they are true.
See what it says right there in verses 40-41.
It means I am going to get a second chance to “do it right” the next time around.
Long before you reach my age you will surely have looked back and seen something you would have done differently if you had the chance.
There are several “would-a, could-a, should-a’s” in my life.
The longer I live the longer that list of – if onlys . . grows.
– if only I had just . . . instead of . . .
Well, here is what the Gita says about that —
— from Chapter Six of the Bhagavad Gita
34 – Arjuna is speaking:
Krishna, the mind is restless, turbulent, powerful, violent.
Trying to control it is like trying to tame the wind.
35 – Krishna says:
It is true the mind is restless and difficult to control.
But, it can be conquered, Arjuna, through regular practice and detachment.
36 – Those who lack self-control will find it difficult to progress in meditation.
But those who are self-controlled, striving earnestly through the right means, will attain the goal.
37 – Arjuna asks:
Krishna, what happens to the man who has faith but lacks self-control and wanders from the path, not attaining success in uniting with God?
38 – If a man becomes deluded on the spiritual path, will he lose the support of both worlds, like a cloud scattered in the sky?
39 – Krishna, you can dispel all doubts.
Remove this doubt, which binds me.
40 – Krishna answers:
Arjuna, my son, such a person will not be destroyed.
No one who does good work will ever come to a bad end, either here, or in the world to come.
41 – When such people die, they go to other realms where the righteous live.
They dwell there for countless years and then are reborn into a home, which is pure and prosperous.
42 – Or they may be born into a family where meditation is practiced, though to be born into such a family is extremely rare.
43 – The wisdom they have acquired in previous lives will be re-awakened, Arjuna, and they will strive even harder for Self-realization.
44 – Indeed, they will be driven on by the strength of their past disciplines.
Even one who inquires after the practice of meditation rises above those who simply perform rituals.
45 – Through constant effort over many lifetimes, a person becomes purified of all selfish desires and attains the supreme goal of life.
46 – Meditation is superior to severe asceticism and the path of knowledge.
It is also superior to selfless service.
May you attain the goal of meditation, Arjuna!
47 – Even among those who meditate, that man or woman who worships God with perfect faith, completely absorbed in God, is the most firmly established union with God.
Maybe this is the way of the universe.
Sure seems that way at times.
It’s nice to think so.
So I hope your hike is as good as mine was.