Intensity

Ok, so you’ve been blessed with a strong activation, taken time for discernment, and determined that this is the path that Heaven has laid out for you. What next?

You have now reached your own Rubicon — you must cross it or turn back forever. Once you’ve made that commitment, that irrevocable decision, it is time to dedicate your entire being to the effort – no half measures, above all, no looking backward. You must forge ahead – or perish. Metaphorically speaking of course!

Cultivating this dedication involves practicing the 5th Shimenawa Virtue – intensity. The ability to shut out distractions, to focus solely on the goal. Arjuna, one of the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabarata, cannot hit the target with his arrows as long as he can see anything else. Only when the only thing he can sense is the bullseye – only when he becomes the bullseye – can he shoot straight. That’s intensity.

True intensity does not involve speed or heightened emotions. Quite the contrary, in fact. The most intense states are almost completely devoid of emotion, haste being long forgotten.

True intensity does not involve speed or heightened emotions. Quite the contrary, in fact. The most intense states are almost completely devoid of emotion, haste being long forgotten. The pace becomes natural, as “the work teaches you how to do it” in the words of Luigi Giussani.

Also forgotten in states of deep intensity are thoughts of self – whether you will succeed or fail, become a hero or a scapegoat. Not to say that you won’t be plagued by these thoughts from time to time, but when you are, you can take them as a sign that it is a good time to re-focus and restore your intensity. Or maybe drink a bit less coffee! In any case, there is a time-honored formula for dealing with such thoughts:

Acknowledge – acknowledge the presence of these thoughts.
Accept – don’t fight them. Simply accept that they have occurred.
Abandon – move on from them. Don’t give them any additional energy.

Perhaps you’ve already had such an experience – you lose track of time, you stop worrying about deadlines – you just do the work. Or more accurately, the work does itself. The picture draws itself, the music composes itself, the story (or the computer program) seems to write itself. It’s a bit more challenging of course with tasks that require interacting with others, but that same intensity is what you are shooting for – listening intently, and responding out of the shimenawa you have created with the other person and with your mission.

The more you practice this intensity, the more it becomes your “home base”, a state that becomes progressively easier to return to any time you find yourself getting knocked off the path – whether by natural obstacles, the opposition of others, or your own fears.

Or even, surprisingly, by Heaven itself. It seems to happen from time to time that Heaven has set up a detour along the path that Heaven first proposed. Properly understood, however, these are not detours at all. The path Heaven has in mind for you is not necessarily the path that you had in mind for yourself.

Speaking of Heaven, it is in the cultivation of this intensity that you begin to learn about Heaven – who you are really dealing with, and what are its ultimate designs. The more you learn to put your own designs aside, the more Heaven will manifest itself as your guide – even as your best cheerleader.