The Descent: Part 2

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If we are to learn anything about the descent we must first understand the ascent. If you recall, last week I said that everything we think we want can be had only by ascent, while everything we really want can only be had by descent.  So what is the Ascent?

Essentially, the ascent is everything you already know about how life works. Ascending is very important. It is also something that cannot and should not be avoided. While I’ll argue that the journey of going deeper in life is the function of spirituality, I’m not saying that ascending doesn’t have spiritual components to it, it most certainly does. As you’ll discover, everything is spiritual.

Ascending is an aspect of learning, and as such it is a function of how we relate to the Truth. All of our learning comes incrementally and we add a new thing on top of an old thing and it changes the whole thing. We go from first grade to second grade and so on until we graduate. We ascend in education by gaining and applying knowledge.

In our careers, we take our experience and we ascend by taking on new responsibilities and opportunities. We leverage one experience in order to get another one. We trade one job for the next while we prepare for yet another. We lock into a particular track that will deliver to us an acceptable life and we ascend there.

We ascend in relationships. We learn about people. We learn who can be trusted and who can’t. We learn the nuances of interpersonal relationships of all kinds. We learn how the opposite sex reacts to us and we adapt. We learn how peers react to us and we adapt. We ascend as we keep our distance and we ascend as we get involved.

Religious institutions provide paths for ascension as well. We utilize all the skills we developed ascending in business, relationships, academics, and sports and we employ them within the religious paradigm. We learn who holds the power, we learn what ideas are accepted and which ones are rejected. We determine if we will fit in or if we will be outsiders. The caveat in religion is that all of them provide a path upward.  Each provides a so called Stairway to Heaven, a blueprint that will supposedly give us eternal life or forgiveness or blessing. Each has a similar recipe yet each holds exclusive claims to their flight of stairs.

Ascending is clinging. Ascending is grasping or lunging. Every form of defense is ascending. Ascending is when we strive to make sense of something. Ascending is vital to life and all forms of success hinge on our skills at ascending.  Ascending is how 99.9% of all coaches, counselors, pastors, educators, and leaders tell us how to have a good life. The ascent believes that if we do more we will get more or become more. But is this the best advices there is? It seems to lack something………….DEPTH.

If a billionaire acquires another billion dollars, does he/she get a life twice as good as before? Does a jewelry box full of rings enlarge the number of fingers we have to wear them? How many people have ascended to the top of their game only to feel empty, dissatisfied, lonely or unfulfilled? The Beatles are correct, money can’t buy love. How many people come from regular family gatherings where the expectation to connect was never realized? Now we can see sorrow for what it really is. It is skimming over the depths of life and not knowing it. It’s easiest to see once we’ve ascended for a while.

The ascent gives us all those things we think we want, like toys, houses, spouses and pets, but it never gives us what we really want which is validation, satisfaction, community, acceptance, and love. It’s really obvious when we pause long enough to think about it. There is a surface life and we each have a surface self that lives there. We are told that buying certain products, or taking certain vacations or living a certain way will fill us up. But it never does…does it? The ascent to the surface life is not capable of filling us, it can only distract us. It’s composition is too large to sift into the finest pores of our deepest self.

Nonetheless we go through life and we buy vacations and the perfect outfit and we eat at the best restaurants and taste the best foods hoping to capture just a moment of depth. That moment when the coastal breeze and sun warms so much more than our face. It is the gaze and embrace of the beloved when that intimate tunnel vision emerges and there is no where else you want to be. It is that realization that your children are growing and the one you hold in your arms today will forever disappear within months, to be replaced with yet another fading version of themselves. These are the worth it moments.

Worth it moments are the bits of depth that bubble up onto our surface life. We all tell ourself that we want these moments to last, but then moments later we are back to the ascent. Our vacations end and we go back to the grind. Our children annoy us again and our beloved turns out to be flawed.

What if I told you there was a way to make the worth-it moments last? What if I told you that the very design of the universe is for them to last forever and ever and ever. What if I told you that you can possess those moments and take them with you into every other moment of life?  I supposed if this were true it would be really good news.

Guess what? It’s true. It’s all true. The secret is in the descent. The deeper we go the more vivid and lasting our worth-it moments will be. I’ll explain more in next weeks post.


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