Keep Digging

By: Brian Robertson

A man began to sink a well, but having dug he could not find the least trace of water, so he selected another place. There he dug deeper, but even then he could not find any water. So again he selected another spot and dug, but it was also of no avail. At last in utter disgust he gave up the task altogether. Without shifting the site from place to place, he would surely have been successful.

Now and then, all of us are guilty of the spiritual version of Attention Deficit Disorder. We are like the man who “jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions at the same time.” Many reject Christianity because of their early encounters, migrate to another spiritual path which is then abandoned for another. Each time, we are certain we’re getting closer.

Like Ramakrishna’s example, we are digging for the water of spirituality, but we leave behind us nothing but a series of holes to mark our progress. I’ve been guilty of that in my life. What changed? I decided that if I really did believe that God speaks to us in a variety of ways, then it would be in Christianity. I’d have to “suck it up” and drill deeper, resisting the urge to throw up my hands and move somewhere else. In my case, Christianity is the tradition I have the most access to in the culture where I happened to be born. The terms, the language, the characters, the story is ingrained in me for that reason.

To be a Christian mystic is not to live on the surface, but to dig deep for what Jesus called “the living water.” It is to risk being misunderstood and to struggle at times, but can you point to a pearl of greater worth?



[Thank you Brian for your website. Like many others I’m sure you’ve encountered, I was raised Christian but drifted away in later years as my understanding matured. The Christianity I was taught was always more concerned with Jesus as Son of God, and his teachings always seemed to be in the back seat. There is always very high ideals to live up to, but very little in the way of practical knowledge of how to get there.
In the past few years I’ve been “digging holes” in the eastern traditions, finding a deep satisfaction in the broader, more practical aspects in establishing a spiritual life. Meditation especially, is an invaluable tool.
A few days ago I discovered your site and a few more pieces seem to click in my heart as I read the articles. Maybe I can come “home” again. Thank you for that chance.



First, I appreciate your kind words. I’m finishing up work on my newest book and am sending it off to the agent on Monday so she can have a look at it. Er, and get it published??!!

The tools you have gathered in your diggings in eastern traditions will be of immense help in letting you work your way back into Christianity.

Keep this in mind as a kind of compass. No matter what you may experience, Christianity is not an all or nothing kind of thing, take the fundamentalist line of thinking or be gone. The guide for working through Christianity is what Carlos Castaneda once said to ask — does this path have a heart? If it does, it is valuable. If it doesn’t, leave it.

You are not “destroying” Christianity to study it and to form, perhaps over time, your understanding of God and of Jesus. The earliest movement was scattered in all directions with all opinions, but the “winners” are who we have now. That does not mean Jesus would even recognize half of what goes on in some of the churches in his name.

Think of it as adventure. Give yourself hope by knowing that if you really believe that God speaks to all people in all times, then it must be at the core of Christianity or, more to the point, in the life and teachings of Jesus.

Meditation is often known as “contemplation” in Western theology, while Western theology uses “meditation” to mean pondering or thinking about a verse, etc. The meanings are swapped around, but I still use them in the Eastern sense, I admit!

Anyway, I don’t know if you’ll even see this rambling reply to your comment! But welcome. Please stay in touch.