Reflecting upon an insight by Stephanie Dowrick from her 2009 book, In the company of Rilke.

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Reflecting upon an insight by Stephanie Dowrick from her 2009 book, In the company of Rilke.

“There is tremendous longing for the direct experience of God but not certainty. Here is a poet who talks to God while doubting God.”

Rainer Maria Rilke was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist who wrote exquisite prose of love, life and God. Stephanie is a wonderfully sensitive and intelligent writer and her reflections of Rilke’s prose is filled by meaningful insights and reflections that helps me in my spiritual struggles. I strongly related to the above statement by Dowrick because I have lived a life of existential equivocation. For decades I have experienced the hollowing out of spiritual uncertainty, the deep sadness of an uprooted life in many respects. I have been treading water upon the surface waters scared yet curious of the dark depths of mystery beneath me.

Yet for brief moments over many years, contrasting with day-to-day living, I have experienced a Divine presence and its soothing, loving embrace. In these calming times and spaces “When here and now cease to matter” (TS Eliot Four Quartets – East Coker), I have soared in the exhilaration of touching upon Its unfathomable mystery. During those experiences, I no longer tread water in a tiring arc of doubt and uncertainty. Within altered states within the places and spaces of nature, I have unfolded into the blissful, exquisite emptiness of Being, that is held within the knowing of Divine certainty. There can be no doubt and in these moments I am liberated from the little self of equivocation and mortal struggling.

Within the spacious presence of mindful being I float upon the Earth’s blessings, the sacraments of intimate organic expressions. Here I rejoice in the healing of an eudaimonic joy that infuses my awareness with its nurturing gentleness. In those precious few moments of deep connectedness, in the infinite inner spaciousness of an expanded oneness of mind, I discover the proverbial gold nugget of the prospectors calling.

The core essences of these connection experiences, a knowingness of the spirit, the Divine within, I have yearned to infiltrate into the rest of my life. Only in recent times have I sensed some of the knowingness filtering through my awareness. However it is only the precarious, staggering first steps of a young child. In the normalcy of life however, in the times of isolation and angst and despair, I walk the uncomfortable, discombulating steps of existential doubt, I feel that I must be a boat adrift on the endless tides of my unconscious ocean.

It is a dichotomous state of being and frankly it tires me. Like Rilke, according to Dowrick, I am driven to experience the Divine, the Sacred but unlike Rilke, I desire certainty of the definiteness of the ‘God’, not that it is my wishful thinking or imagination. I, like Rilke, talk to God, the God of the trees and rocks and delicate ferns and I am open to their silent presence which touches me deeply. I am silenced by their silence and the spaciousness within that interfaces with the Divine.

I am not so similarly touched during the busyness and mundanity and angst of everyday life. If fleeting thoughts about my doubt of God arises, then the “longing” returns which drives me to make the time to reach out and open up to the God of Nature. So in this sense, I am like Rilke, a man of no religion yet infused with the spirit of longing that opens me to the presence of the Divine. My “tremendous longing” is the Southern Cross of my life journey through the dark nights, through a landscape shaped by the dance of Doubt and Knowingness. So long as I feel this deep longing I know that this long journey of metamorphosis will overcome my tiredness, will reveal what I have always really deep down known, but know it for the first time with eyes and heart always open, accepting the Presence of the Divine without respite, with equanimity:

“We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.”

T.S Eliot (Little Gidding)

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