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a guided meditation: the forest

How empty is a life so full it seems we cannot spare a moment for our dreams


Breathe deeply. Try to still your mind.

Imagine you are out in nature. You are standing at the foot of a majestic mountain at the edge of a dense forest. The scenery is breathtaking. You notice an opening and a pathway leading into the forest. You decide to follow the pathway. Inside the atmosphere is cool and fresh. You notice a beautiful, single red flower. As you stop to admire it you hear a voice inside your head.

Compared to the vast expanse of the universe, or the duration of eternity, one human being, one lifetime, is not the tiniest speck of dust in the vastest ocean. Much as we strive we can achieve no significance whatsoever.

In the surety of our absolute insignificance our one and only purpose comes from our faith. Faith that we exist not in isolation, but as part of some infinitely great whole. Faith that this life, this world, is not all that exists but the tiniest of fragments which together form that great vista.

You continue your journey. On the ground before you lies an old, black, leather purse. You stoop to pick it up, and as you do so you again hear the inner voice.

From the moment of our birth we embarked upon a one-way journey to the grave. It is not our destinations or our achievements that matter, but the knowledge and experience we acquire in the journey towards them.

You continue your journey, passing by a small stream. You dip your hand into the water, its coolness gently refreshes you as once again the voice speaks.

Victory and defeat are false friends. In the midst of the celebration of the greatest triumph, in the depth our soul we experience the futility of trying to hold the moment. Nor is there any loss, any tragedy, so great, that we cannot salvage some srap of learning, some crumb of hope, from the wreckage.

Before moving on you take a drink from the stream. It is the most pure water you could ever imagine. Ahead is a clearing and a patch of lush, grass. The sunlight paints the grass a wonderful, vivid green. You decide to stop for a while. There's a light breeze rustling the leaves of the trees, making a sound which could almost be a female voice.

We carry an innate sense of morality, of justice. A desire to see wrongs avenged. And so we should seek a pathway of righteousness. But there comes a time for recognition. Recognition of the imperfections that exist around and within us. And with that recognition comes the realisation that in order to move forward we must turn our back on the past. Condone not that which is wrong, but punish not thyself for the sins of others.

It is time to continue. As you stand you notice a small, white jug, half buried in the grass. As you pick it up and notice it is cracked your inner voice addresses you once more.

It is said by some that we are but automata, blown helplessly by the cosmic wind and entirely at its mercy. Indeed there is much which is beyond our control, which may be called fate. But the small voice within us in the still silence of the night assures us that we do have some control over our destiny. Sometimes it matters very little, at other times it can take us to one extreme or the other. But it is always there.

As you walk on you pass what was once a building, perhaps a chapel or shrine. It now lies broken and in ruins. You pause to listen to your thoughts

Why the tendency to negativity? We are as nothing. We have by right, nothing. Every blessing, every moment, every breath, every sunrise is a bonus, a cause for great joy. But we forget. Too often until it is too late. Consider not the other man's grass. Enjoy thine own.

And so you travel onwards. You begin to feel a little hungry and as you do you notice a blackberry bush. You enjoy the flavour of the sweet fruit as your teacher speaks.

Knowledge is like a key in that it opens doors that would otherwise be closed. Self knowledge is the foundation of all else as without it our journey cannot even begin. And yet our knowledge continually grows and is refined by the light of experience.

You now come to a fork in the pathway. You hesitate, waiting your teacher's guidance.

Sometimes we reach a point at which a choice must be made. At other times we have the opportunity of branching off. Both situations are welcome. They show us we do possess the ability to make a difference and allow us to exercise our individuality. Decisions should not be rushed, but neither should they be postponed. Reviewing the likely consequences in the light of our present knowledge we are able to choose one path or the other. And having chosen we look not back to that which might have been but concentrate our energies to that which is.

Looking upwards through the tops of the trees you can just make out some curiously shaped clouds. Your imagination takes over for a moment as you are taken back to the happy moments of your childhood.

Past, present and future are all equally real. But it is only the present we inhabit. Reminiscence can provide comfort and may stand beside us as our guide. And without dreams of tomorrow we are without purpose. But ultimately the here and now is all we possess and it is only by doing that which is right now that tomorrow's past and present will be the very best we can make them.

You are approaching the edge of the forest, but before leaving you inquire as to your teacher's identity.

I am not your teacher. I have told you nothing which you did not already know, but you allow your innate wisdom to be obscured, silenced by meaningless distractions. Gain experience that your spirit may evolve. Do good in whatever way you choose, in whatever way you can. Seek satisfaction, real satisfaction, through the fulfilment of the will of the supreme and ultimate power we call God. Struggle not with your destiny. Pursue it actively and embrace it. And allow yourself time and space just to listen.

You leave the forest and find yourself back at the foot of the mountain. You feel refreshed and re-energized and as you return to the world of practical reality you know that you may make this and other journeys any time you please.

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