“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
At the moment of insight into the ways of this world we arrive at this fork in the road. Our insight offers a potential that teeters on a thin line between two paths that are infinitely different.
One path leads to cynicism, bitterness, judgement and resentment as we focus on the chasms between the truth we feel and the world in which we live. We begin to tear down others with a great viciousness; judging and categorizing in a blind defense and promotion of self. If we choose this rabbit hole of negative judgmental thinking, no matter how justified it is by what we see in the world, we prescribe ourselves to a lifetime of endless darkness and fear. We become trapped in the road block of comparison, using others to boost or tear ourselves down. This road leads to the dead end of the status-quo, safety in numbers but no longer moving, a rationalized existence. Just because this rabbit hole exists does not mean we have to live in it.
The other path leads to introspection and the acceptance that we are this world, that through our own thoughts we are the creators of the world, we are the judge, jury and executioner. By turning our sword inward we see that the world in which we live has its origins in our very thoughts, our selfishness, and our greed. The less traveled road requires that we look into the harsh reality of the mirror and face our vulnerabilities and reality of our thoughts. It is easier to stand on the sidelines and criticize than it is to jump into the game and face the mirror of truth. It is easier to blame and judge than it is to accept and find compassion.
The great irony is how we so easily choose the path of negativity. It has been set up for us, appears easier, and seemingly offers more “control”; that no longer requires work and protects us from vulnerability. In the name of ease we choose a life without growth, relying on stagnant definitions and judgements. Negativity offers us a false sense of control and we, who live in such a chaotic world, will always instinctively choose control over chaos, even if the control is false and leads to our own spiritual enslavement.
The road less traveled, on the other hand is difficult. It requires breaking down conditioned thought patterns that for much of our life we have seen as truths. “Truths” that have kept us safe in the night. It requires facing our very impermanence. It requires a hard look at the depth of our ignorance. It is the breakdown of the false control we cling to and then the subsequent fall into the abyss of chaos. To see that our opinions and ideas only carry a thin veil behind which lies only self-promotion. To face that we as a species know nothing. To see that what we call “our” thoughts, ideas and beliefs are just the recycled thoughts and conditioning of thousands of years, lacking any originality or authority in the realm of what is truth.
Both roads presented like this do not sound inviting. One filled with stagnation, cynicism and bitterness, the other full of vulnerability, hard work and painful growth. One road leads to an endless darkness, but the other leads to light.
The road less traveled is actually a royal road, full of the real reward we seek, happiness, freedom and love. This is difficult to convey in words and can only be realized with experience. These treasures are hidden by the gateway of vulnerability, a threshold that many fear to cross. When we see the depth of this conditioned reality through deep objective introspection, when we face our conditioned selfishness, expectations, definitions, opinions, and memories, when we strip all that away, we are left with the very source of the universe, LOVE. An unconditional universal love that can only be found when we remove the shackles of expectation and choose to live in the freedom that comes with the acceptance of what is.
This is not love that we have chased and idolized our whole lives. It is not a love full of expectations and possession, it is not a love of lust and control. It is a love of compassion for ignorance and struggle of every human that is rooted in the compassion we find for ourselves. Only through introspection into our own struggles, ignorance and hypocrisy can we ever hope to find empathy and compassion for our fellow beings. The mirror, an object of alchemy, will transmute darkness and reflect back light.
We arrive at this fork in the road over and over again throughout our days and throughout our lives. We are constantly choosing our path as we encounter the endless onslaught of life. We often choose without knowing, unconscious and done out of rote habits and routine patterns. We must break this pattern, become conscious of the choice. We must trade in our looking glasses for a mirror and find the source within us all. The road less travelled is long, but the rewards are immediate.
In love and kindness, Peter