Funny but touching: Those who take up a spiritual practice do so, I guess, because they are uncertain in one way or another. Death, disease, drugs, divorce, delight and other circumstances that do not begin with 'D' all contain the seeds of that uncertainty -- an uncertainty that sometimes whispers and sometimes screams. Anyway, it in the realm of uncertainty that spiritual practice finds meaning and promise and hope and belief.
So people take up a spiritual practice.
And yet the very spiritual practice anyone might take up as a means of addressing uncertainty ... what does its invitation consist of, assuming it's any good? Isn't it to examine and perhaps puncture the balloons of certainty that prop up our lives?
So in the search for some credible certainty -- a certainty that seems to be promised by spiritual practice; a certainty that will address previous uncertainties -- we seek out what provides even more uncertainty. We examine with care the "for sure" fabric and struts and mortar ... and the more we examine, the less "for sure" things become.
Uncertainty heaped on uncertainty.
Perhaps it is like the old metaphor of the man with a thorn in his thumb who uses a second thorn to help him get the first one out. But metaphors don't do much good when anguish comes calling. Uncertainty is not a game for the faint of heart.
It is not a game for the faint of heart and yet there are plenty of people and institutions that prey on the faint of heart. Truth to tell, it makes me want to puke ... those who offer up a 'lasting' certainty of creed or belief or hope without assisting those in need to understand that whatever is "for sure" relies on what is not at all for sure.
Hope and belief are beginner's steps and, given the habits of your past or mine, are necessary ones. But to suggest that there is an abiding certainty to be found in heaven or hell or god or demons ... this is preying on those in need and it is obscene. Churches and temples and texts and traditions, if they are to be worth a damn, need to kick their children out the door... how else can their children ever be nourished and at ease?
Anyway, those who are not at all sure set out in search of what is for sure...and discover what is not for sure. It takes some courage. It takes some patience. It takes some doubt. And I for one will always honor that effort, no matter how faltering.
PS. I skim what I have written and am disgusted that it seems so wispy, so theoretical, so (yuck!) theological. I can only hope that any reader will realize that uncertainty in the heart is not at all theoretical; that the conundrums of this human life are not some stupid theory; that the longings of this body and mind are not open to holy, self-help platitudes or wily descriptions.
Two arms, two legs, a banged thumb and an uncertain heart are honest things. And without honesty, spiritual practice is just another uncertain crock of shit.
And that, I would say, is "for sure!" :)