I imagine that for most spiritual seekers the primary concern is “deepening the practice.” “Widening the practice,” while a valuable concept, runs the risk of spreading oneself thin; neglecting the focus on spiritual quality; becoming distracted in the mundane activities to which we would apply our spiritual intent. At the same time, those who focus primarily on their spiritual life, like monks and nuns whether of the Christian or Buddhist or other monastic path, leave themselves open to criticism that they are retreating from the world; that their purity of practice comes at the expense of engagement with and betterment of the world. I posit here a middle way, where instead of going in one direction only – horizontally, to widen; or vertically, to deepen – we can see both dimensions expanding simultaneously.
Any computer user is familiar with dragging the corner of a window or image to resize it. Starting with a frame of fixed size, we place the cursor on the lower right-hand corner, and drag it down and away to expand the frame’s size in both directions. We can choose to move the border only down or only to the right, but splitting the difference gives us the best of both worlds: wider and deeper at the same time.
I think this analogy is well suited to spiritual practice. If we do commit ourselves to regular practice and also pursue ongoing engagement in worldly activities, each sphere can enrich the other, and the whole being benefits – including the whole being of existence itself.
Going deeper on a regular basis changes us, our self-conception and the vibration we carry into the world. It soothes our interactions with others, deepens also our relationships and our pursuit of other activities, whether music, or business, health care or customer service, gardening or sports. Likewise, applying ourselves in such fields, if we carry a consciousness of the divinity of each other person we encounter, of the natural world we move through, and of the sacred web of interconnection woven through the whole fabric, we cannot help but deepen in our resonance with spiritual power and its magical manifestation. Even if we bring simply an openness to such a conception, it will reveal itself to us in a way that deepens our experience.
Then, of course, the natural response is to give back. To mirror the spirit we see all around us – since after all, that is all we are.
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