Planning: Inner Task Series by Vesna Nikolic

It is Week 8 and this is my final post for Inner Task Friday series. My deepest gratitude to everyone who pondered upon questions raised or tried any tasks. I am reminded that in the Work – it is only our sincere efforts and attention that count. That is the real currency and true payment that we make for our arising. 

As I reflect on the experience of writing the posts, I am reminded that I had a plan, an outline of sorts.  It included the movement of tasks from one center to another, their coming together, etc. While it sounded quite clever (to me, anyways 😊), it was an abstract, a concoction of the intellect. 

When it came to writing as a service, with a wish to provide an impulse or to awaken something within a reader, it turned out that I could only write about what was alive for me at that moment and invite you to join me. 

Which is now raising a question about planning. Is it needed? What is its place? How do we plan? 

For sure I do not want to sit in an airplane that was put together on anything but a careful plan, supported by superb science, engineering capacities and fine workmanship of all involved.

I do not want to embark on a journey without knowing what may be needed during different steps of the journey. Above all I wish to have a vision, a sense of direction, an aim. 

So, it is not a question about whether planning is needed or whether it is useful, it is both. It is a question about how the plan is held, what is my relationship with it, what is its relationship with the needs and calls that arise in the moment. What is its relationship with the reality as it unfolds? Is it still supporting the aim? 

Do I hold my plan lightly as a trusting friend and helper on a journey or is my grip on it so tight that it keeps me from seeing what is actually taking place? 

There is an old Hasidic saying: “The best way to make God laugh is to tell him about our plans.” Can I too find a sense of humor when I  look at some aspects of my carefully laid out plans?

Not having plans can be a great excuse to escape discipline or responsibility that is needed, it may be just what our inner Evil God ‘self-calming’ is looking for. 

And yet, a moment may come when I need to toss it out altogether. Was it Thomas Merton who said “As long as there is a self to have an experience of God, there will be no experience.” I remind myself that any moment could be THAT moment. 

This week, as you wake up in the morning, I invite you to lightly envision your day. Ask yourself whether there is a balance between the needs and involvements of all three centers. If I live with others – can I envision a balance between the four quadrants of Benedictine rhythm for the day. Or any other balance that my conditions may allow for, that I wish to aim for. 

At the end of the day, reflect gently on what actually happened. Did parts of the day disappear and are now completely out of reach? Did I have a courage to abandon the plan completely when a different need called for in the moment? Did I do it intentionally or was I pulled in reaction to what was going on? Remember not to judge yourself. Hold it gently and return to the exercise in the morning.

Love to all. 

Below is an excerpt from David Whyte’s poem “What to Remember when Waking”

What you can plan
is too small for you to live.

What you can live wholeheartedly
will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden
as a gift to others.

To remember the other world
in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

Image courtesy of Thomas Telhiard “An unplanned encounter”

Inner Task Series by Vesna Nikolic

Vesna Nikolic posted this Inner Task Series to the Wisdom School Community on Facebook from March 12 – April 30, 2021