Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

“The Answers Within”

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Sometimes we human beings over externalize ourselves in the search for meaning in life. We often believe that the answers to life’s most perplexing problems lie way beyond us, far outside us, so that we are ever seeking the sources of our personal truths in far away places.

Sometimes we go on the journey and after much seeking we at long last come to the place where we find the answers we have been so diligently seeking. Voila! There it is. We have finally found the very things that we have been looking for, and then begin the search all over again, for other answers to other problems, and thus repeat the rituals of seeking beyond ourselves.

There is value in such seeking. There is the promise in leaving the comfort zones of our surroundings and journeying outward and forward seeking those very truths which will unlock the deepest mysteries of life and living.

At other times we discover that the answers are right where we are. Like the time that Jeane and I were looking for a street in Simsbury Connecticut for nearly an hour, only to discover that we were on that very street. A gas station attendant told us where we were, and said, “You are lost on the street that you are looking for.”We both laughed and have often repeated that statement when finding ourselves in similar situations. In such cases the answers are right there in front of us, right before our very eyes, in our faces and we cannot see them because we are so accustomed to looking beyond ourselves to learn where we are that we do not understand that we are there already.

Still at other times the answers lie within us. They have been there all along, but we cannot find them because everything in life crowds us out from ourselves. The noise of the world, the chatter of other voices, the sensory bombardment of the constant flow of information chokes us off from the deeper reservoirs of silence and true listening that can put us in touch with God and our deeper inner selves.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Everything intercepts us from ourselves.” We cannot get to our true selves because there are so many external things that are blocking our way.

The development of specific habits of thought and ways of orientating to the world have conditioned our seeing and our hearing. We must hear with our eyes and see with our ears and feel with our hearts. This operant conditioning patterns the way that we see and experienced things in life.

Krishnamurti reminds us that the challenge is to see and look at things as if to be seeing them for the first time; without the labels and categories that we place upon them as objects that condition the way we experience them at the sensory level.

Howard Thurman tells the story of a deer in India that goes on the long journey each year to discover the source of a scent only to discover that the odor is being emitted from its own body.

There are many answers that lie outside of us, and there are many answers that lie within us. We must cultivate the habit, the practice, the discipline to sit still and listen and learn and journey and discover the precious answer lying within us.

The kingdom of God is within you. Take the time to look within; to center down in the spirit and find the path to your true self.

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