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Outlooks from the Inner Life

By Cedric Speyer



Be still when faced with life’s traps

“Get into a state of passive volition, which means unintentionally pursuing one’s intention.”
— Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

“You need not make any effort. Simply surrender to the Lord seated in your heart. Then you will see how beautiful this life span — in dealing with people, your relationships — how beautiful it will become.”
— H.W.L. Poonja

I don’t know whether dealing with fruit flies infesting the kitchen this summer qualifies as a beautiful relationship, but they certainly seemed to have a beautiful relationship with the compost bin. Then I discovered something at the hardware store that led to their demise: fruit fly traps — little enclosed plastic cups with a small hole on top.

The package comes with a squeeze bottle containing a sickly sweet liquid, which goes in the traps. On the back of the package: “The fruit fly traps employ a powerful attractant to draw the flies into the trap. Once inside the trap, the fruit fly eventually touches the liquid attractant and drowns. Each trap is effective for up to 30 days.”

Well, it worked. So many of them fell for it that the traps ended up thickly spotted with casualties. And apparently none of them learned from the example of previous feckless fatalities.

In this human life there are traps that are effective for up to 30 years, and more! The seven deadly sins are called deadly for a reason and they all have their sickly sweet “attractants.” Yet what distinguishes us from the fruit flies is the gap, the pause, the choice point between stimulus and response. We have the capacity to quiet the rapacious mind. We can access the inner freedom it takes to disengage from habitual reactions such as envy, anger, judgment, fear, lust, greed, and all manner of inordinate attachment. We can awaken the witness; that which simply observes the interflow between the inner and outer worlds, like the natural course of the in-breath and out-breath.

Then when it comes to leading us not into temptation, we can be still and know the presence of a divine intention residing within. It’s like taking the hook out of a fish you are throwing back into the water. Except that you are the fish, surrendering all to the will of the fisher.

At this stage of evolution, sometimes it seems we are like fruit flies with the added ability to say “Should I or shouldn’t I?” before taking the dive. Except for some adepts, yogis, and spiritual masters among us, most of us cannot always control the vagaries of emotion and mind. Yet we can give them direction, paradoxically by surrendering to how we are being directed. That takes practice. The practice is variously called meditation, mindfulness, or contemplative prayer. It’s the daily retreat to the “closet” Jesus was talking about. That’s where we become aware of the screen of consciousness and not just the movies playing on it. That’s where the past and future are brought together in the present. That’s where the mind descends into the cave of the heart. That’s where the raindrop contains the ocean.

Most human action is the result of tension, contradiction, a search for self-fulfilment, and the conceit of self-will. It’s no good to set out to be good. If you try to cultivate humility, good luck with that. It’s not about you. Meditation is the breeze that comes in when you leave the window open for the beyond to make itself known to just where you’re sitting.

Speyer is a Benedictine Oblate as well as an author, subject matter expert for e-therapy, clinical consultant and director of InnerView Guidance International (IGI). He also directs a documentary series entitled GuideLives for the Journey: Ordinary Persons, Extraordinary Pathfinders. Connect with Cedric on or via