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As a young boy I spent much of my indoors playing arcade games, one quarter at a time. While pinball may have ignited the interest, Asteroids and Space Invaders accelerated my passion.
Both those video games offered plenty in the way of variable ratio reinforcement, the psychological phenomenon behind slot machine addiction. But what really drew me back after each loss was the tantalizing two-word question in large block letters: “Try again?”
Try again? Well, yes indeed!
Try again seemed such a gentle nudge toward dusting myself off, collecting my wits, and, well, trying again. Insert coin.
What makes the Try again? question work so well is its judgement-free nature. It’s not “Fail again?” or “Do you think you can win this time?”
Do you want to try again? Try. The sublime verb-al noun assessing willingness. A little willingness at that.
Which makes “Try again?” a wonderful metaphor for spiritual growth.
No one’s path is easy. Plenty of obstacles stand in our way. And while the barriers may be different for each person, suffering is universal. Retreat and withdrawal lure us deeper into unconsciousness.
Why do the seemingly hard work of attempting to progress on this awakening journey when the drama of life offers much in the way of existential escape?
“You will never succeed as a composer. It’s hopeless.” This harsh but well-intentioned feedback was delivered by a music tutor to a young student named Ludwig van Beethoven.
Yet we persistently dispatch similar messages to ourselves. “You’re not good enough. Others are better than you. You’re a failure.”
Once more, why do the ostensibly hard work?
Because deep down we recognize the blissful joy awaiting our willingness to see beyond the pain to the peace that lies within.
Be not afraid. We only start again an ancient journey long ago begun that but seems new. We have begun again upon a road we travelled on before and lost our way a little while. Now we will try again to reach the light in you, which is where your salvation is. (C-ep.3, W-pI.70.8)
As we further read in A Course in Miracles, “Once this journey is begun the end is certain. Doubt along the way will come and go and go to come again. Yet is the ending sure.”
We will assuredly awaken to the oneness we never left. True happiness awaits but our repeatedly affirmative answer to the delightfully inviting question, “Try again?”
No quarters needed. Just quiet looking.
Join me in Thursday’s class where we’ll explore practices for surmounting all hindrances and experiencing heaven’s embrace. I look forward to seeing you then.