I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favour in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.They give me pause, because in articulating some of the fruits of practice they remind me of just how afraid I am to head in that direction. I find I am less than confident to live the life I have imagined. I find that my endeavors are marked by a perduring reticence to leave some things behind, to cross the boundary without hopes of return. Not entirely, of course, but enough that I need no one else to tell me just how weak my practice is.
21 January 2011
These lines from the Conclusion of Thoreau's Walden have always given me pause: