There are times when a person reflects upon things he or she has written or said and with a querying mind asks, “How can I ever justify what I aspire to achieve spiritually when my thoughts, words, and actions are so undeniably human?”
Actually, that ‘querying’ mind is often self-condemning, is it not? In these times of internal conflict we must remember that the spiritual progress promised in recovery programs, the Way of Jesus, and the Path of the Buddha are exactly what they claim to be, a course of progressive growth. They are the trek each person must take to become vessels of wisdom and compassion within the power of the Divine Essence. Undertaking this trek is not done with any expectation of perfection. Progress is the goal. Often the trail we walk slides off into a ravine of selfishness and unkind behavior, but pulling back onto the way forward is always awaiting.
The fellowships of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and CR (Celebrate Recovery) both recognize humanness and brokenness as elements of addictions. Their step programs offer, not a miracle cure, but rather a way of living which enables members to rise above this inherent human condition of self-absorption. Joining hands with like-minded men and women intent on becoming more than empty vessels tossed mercilessly on the seas of alcoholism, drug abuse, behavior addictions and emotional stress, these adventurers want not a perfect life, but a better life, a life of freedom from the prisons of self and ego.
Similarly, Jesus and the Buddha, holding all of creation in reverence, offered a lifestyle of service and compassion as the way to a personal heaven and a path to enlightenment. Their disciples were ordinary examples of humanity who became extraordinary trekkers. None of them were perfect. Insecurity, anger, ego plagued their journeys through earthly temptations. Yet, they understood that even though heaven or enlightenment was the desired outcome, a perfect life was not the path. Humans must endure growth through the vagaries of humanness in order to become the spiritual beings which a Creator has intended.
Those who follow the life of Jesus Christ as their example must remember that, along with his obvious love and compassion for his Father’s creation, he also endured the human life fraught with temptation, desire, insecurity and anger. According to the writings of the ancients, his public ministry lasted a scant 3 or 4 years before the crucifixion. Where was he before the ministry, what was he doing? Believing that Jesus traversed the same road of searching that every earthly human walks gives a great insight into the purpose of his life. Those who portray Jesus as perfect at birth from a virgin’s womb seem to be missing the entire reason for his story. Anybody can be perfect when born perfect. Only a totally human experience of failure and disappointment combined with joy and ecstasy provides the sojourner with the necessary tools to crawl from the depths of hell to a life of peace and contentment.