Where you stumble

Once I got fired from a job and my boss told me to go home. I said, “Could I stop and get a sandwich first?”

Wait, I’m going somewhere with this.

The word “stumbling” is often seen in spiritual teachings. Stumbling implies a vertical presence cropping up in the midst of your horizontal walk. It’s like a bolt of lightning. It’s vertical. Or it is like the descent of a dove. It is nowhere in the vision of the horizontal walk. You have to be struck by it, or struck down by it, or experience the descent, whatever is most meaningful. It — this vertical presence, this bolt of Grace — has to be stumbled upon. You can’t say, “Oh here comes the dove. I’ll let it descend on me, but first I’m gonna stop at Quiznos.”

When you get “fired” from your old life, you pretty much have to head straight “home.” Or perhaps it is suddenly realized you are already there. There’s no stopping for anything on the way.

Here are some people who have talked about stumbling:

“Just keep in mind the feeling ‘I am’, merge in it, till your mind and feeling become one. By repeated attempts you will stumble on the right balance of attention and affection and your mind will be firmly established in the thought-feeling ‘I am’. Whatever you think, say, or do, this sense of immutable and affectionate being remains as the ever-present background of the mind.” Nisargadatta Maharaj

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” Joseph Campbell

Emmylou Harris had an album, Stumble Into Grace.

“You don’t find truth as much as you stumble upon it when you have cast away your illusions.” Adyashanti

“I myself do not know how I stumbled into this so how do you expect me to give it to another? My mission, if there is any, is to debunk every statement I have ever made. If you take seriously and try to use or apply what I have said you will be in danger.” U. G. Krishnamurti

“After stumbling, and nearly falling, I stopped, and then, to my delight, I suddenly became the Native American Shaman, Medicine Bear. The change was immediate.” Tyberonn

“Whoever delves into mysticism cannot help but stumble, as it is written: ‘This stumbling block is in your hand.’ You cannot grasp these things unless you stumble over them.” The Essential Kabbalah (last chapter), Daniel C. Matt

How do you know you’ve stumbled? You just know. Let’s put it this way, if you’re stopping for a sandwich on the way to an anticipated stumbling, you’ve got it wrong. Just shut-up and enjoy the sandwich.

4 thoughts on “Where you stumble

  1. louiewing

    Hello Jerry,

    Great post! Ha!

    One I remember, while it is not a “pure” stumble, it is close, and a good one by one of the masters you quote above, Joseph Campbell (actually, I think he was quoting another source)

    “If you’re falling, dive!”


    Ted Biringer


  2. Vicki Woodyard

    Stumbling is something the ego can’t do or control. In comedy, stumbling is funny. It’s the surprise element. In tragedy, it’s the turning point often.

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    I stumbled
    and now I am too.


  3. Pingback: The less spirituality offers, the better « Nonduality Blog

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