Sunday, February 19, 2012
THE 12-YEAR-OLD BOY’S QUESTION
Since returning from our 6 1/2 month mother-daughter cross-country American walkabout which began last March and ended in September, I have not added to the 33 “Gathering WOmentum” blogs. The last one was written in late November, 2011.
In the last few weeks, however, I have begun to share something of the essence and flavor of our journey with a few groups of friends with the understanding that in time we hope to produce a book and a documentary film about our journey. The working title we have come up with is, “The Mother’s Road: A Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Matter.”
Recently, I was captivated by the straightforward question of a 12-year-old boy when he learned I had spent half a year walking the American landscape with my daughter, Viveka. “What did you learn?” he asked. What follows is my attempt to answer his question.
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After some reflection, I have come up with 13 things I have learned. But the first of them doesn’t really count. Let’s call it “ZERO,” for it is the ground zero, the context, or center point from which all things begin. The first, or “zero” point is not something I learned, but something, rather that I knew and had forgotten. You might say I had to “re-learn” it. THEREFORE:
Even before the beginning:
0. KNOW thyself -- meaning, know that you are loved unconditionally and that you are (already) worthy as a creation of G-d. This means knowing what, who and whose you are. If I had not forgotten this, I might not have ventured out, so I am happy for all the richness that forgetting has brought into my life: the joy of re-learning and re-discovering. This is both the starting point and the ending point of all my exploration.
I learned that we are all on a journey virtually without distance: from Source back to Source and that we have co-created and are presently co-creating our destiny with Spirit / Source from start to finish.
Because I had lost sight this perspective it was as though I knew it in my head -- conceptually -- but not in my heart -- experientially. Therefore, the journey of the greatest distance turned out to be the 16+ inches from the head to the heart. At first it seemed as though I had something to prove, something to fix, a wrong to right, and that was my mission or “reason” for the trip. In the process of taking the journey, the reason for taking it “magically” disappeared. The mission somehow fulfilled itself by virtue of finding the courage to take it and see it through. Does that make sense? If so, then you will have no trouble with the 12 additional things I learned.
Along the way I also learned my A-B-C’s.
A. In the beginning:
1. BEGIN with the end in mind. Have a shining image or thought form of a destination so you know your conditions for fulfillment, always referring back to “0” above. Know the difference between a goal, which will be attained (or not) and a purpose, which keeps you moving forward through goal after goal after goal. My goal was to reach Washington D.C. and meditate under the capstone of the Washington monument. I was hoping to receive a new vision of America and for our time in which women are equally valued decision-makers in partnership with men worldwide. Ironically, the monument has been closed for earthquake repairs, so that particular goal was not attained. My purpose, however was of a different order: “to know G-d in every person I meet.” And that purpose is ongoing. That purpose always refers back to “0” because in truth, there is only One of us here!
2. MAKE a plan -- all the time knowing that “If you want to make G-d laugh, the best way to do that is to make a plan.” Still, it is always important to start with the map, and to create a design. That way, no matter what befalls, the map will be useful in getting back on track. Submit the plan for higher approval, and also, surrender the plan, letting go of it. Spirit often has an even better plan, so don’t be too attached to your own. Our map served us well to help us get back on track, even when we were blown “off course” by following and obeying the leading of Spirit.
3. COMMIT -- Nothing really happens unless you do, and this will involve
- standing up and being counted;
- stepping up and signing up;
- stepping out into the flow of life;
- stepping beyond your preconceived limitations established by the fear of the unknown.
The immediate rewards of commitment are astonishing: The Universe rises to meet you and bring you aid you had not dreamed of. I kid you not!
4. RISK -- To risk means to have something valuable at stake. The death of something is assured to bring about new life in you. That “something” can be a physical or an emotional or a mental “reality.” Are you willing to trade an old life for a new one? Caterpillar for butterfly? “Life is either a bold adventure or it is nothing,” said Helen Keller, who was both blind and deaf! This is where alchemy comes in. To bring about transformation, there must be something to be transformed: the lead must become gold; the seed must die to sprout. Something must be placed on the altar to be altered! You have to risk the possible loss of something of value with the understanding that transformation and change can look very threatening to the old order of things.
5. INTEND -- for practical purposes, intention is everything, for it is what gathers momentum, and gets the ball rolling. Even the word itself leans into the enterprise. On your mark, get set . . . intend.
B. In the middle:
6. TRUST all of the allies, guides, mentors, friends and angels who appear along the way. Rely on their support, and above all, trust your self and your intuition to choose the best path forward. Obi Wan Kenobi taught Luke Skywalker to trust the Force within himself. Sometimes, when flying blind you just have to surrender to higher guidance and higher wisdom, which can come in an unexpected form, like Marcelina, the lame street vendor who sold me a “magical” amulet, a hematite necklace of the Virgin of Guadalupe. This symbol of the Divine Mother served as a symbolic reminder of the universal mission we were on, which transcended any and all religions.
7. FACE all of your fears, anxieties, shadows, enemies, adversaries and hecklers, because although they appear as obstacles to be overcome, these are, and will prove to be your greatest teachers. You will thank them profoundly in the end. Jesus warned us that our greatest enemies would be those of our own households and families. . . If I wanted world peace, as I proclaimed, I learned that after my own heart, my family was the best place to start. Like all true spiritual gifts, peace is an inside job.
8. PERSEVERE -- through the tedious times, the unforgiving minutes and hours, remembering, always, to choose the most positive possible interpretation of any given circumstance. At the risk of being considered naive, it pays to look on the sunny side, and choose to be upbeat. You may not always be able to choose the circumstances, but you can always choose your attitude toward your circumstances. This is not denial, but it is reframing to affirm a positive outcome.
9. LAUGH along with G-d. Joy is the sure sign of the Presence of G-d.
10. DIE and be resurrected. But also know that you do not have to die in the body to die to the false self (ego)! Death is not the end of life, it is merely a change. Andrew Cohen rightly said, “Everyone wants to be enlightened, but nobody wants to change!” A miracle is the change that always results when love is chosen over fear.
C. In the end:
11. PASS all of your tests -- not by the ego’s might or will power, but by consistency, fidelity to purpose, and especially by humility, trusting in G-d’s grace and guidance through the Holy Spirit which is as close as breath and breathing. Let SIMPLICITY become a lifestyle choice, and it will become an ally and a great source of strength and renewed energy.
12. SHARE, with gratitude, the healing elixir you have been granted. The precious learnings and gifts of your journey will inspire and support others on theirs, as they, in turn, learn to choose to follow their bliss.
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But there is more:
Taking the longest view, if it is all just a play in the mind of G-d, as the Hindu worldview purports -- (maya = illusion; lilas = the play of G-d) -- it will all disappear, “an insubstantial pageant faded. . . leaving not a rack behind,” as Shakespeare said in The Tempest. If this is indeed so, then by developing the ability to play one’s role with impeccability, witnessing the joys and sorrows, the achievements as well as the atrocities with compassionate equanimity, we will truly be of service in healing the suffering and heartbreak of the world. We will not be deceived, but will clearly be awakened as from a dream. What a relief! What freedom! What joy!
This glorious possibility: not just to wake up in the dream, but to wake up from it -- is the most important thing I learned on my pilgrimage.
The greater, collective healing always begins with healing oneself first; finding the source of one’s own heartbreak and receiving the healing there first. It was precisely because I had lost touch with the source of my own original buried traumatic incidents that I kept manifesting them as projections upon my outer world and circumstances. There they continued to appear and reappear and threaten me (and us) until I recognized my own role in creating them and took responsibility for that.
That is precisely why I set out on this journey, apparently, to tilt at windmills, believing them to be monsters, until I realized what and who the real enemy is: the disenfranchised shadow self. Some have called this Satan, some have called it ignorance, some ego, and some “maya” or illusion. Regardless of the name, the effect of this negative force is the same.
The original buried traumatic incidents seem to be universal: fears of abandonment, betrayal and inferiority. All of these are supported and fed by the one ultimate fear: annihilation of being, which is the ego’s nightmare. This is what the ego imagines death to be.
We are all on this journey of self-discovery. A few of us have completed it and have directed all of their energies to helping the rest of us complete ours. These are the avatars, the masters, the bodhisattvas, also known as the angels and spirit guides, etc. If you want Spirit/God/The Divine as a partner in fulfilling your Divine Plan, you must be willing to live the TAO, which I see simply as a path of Trust, Acceptance and Obedience.
The TAO simply means “The Way.” It is the same “Way” Jesus’ first followers understood, and saw exemplified in him. Before they were called “Christians” they called themselves “followers of the Way.” Jesus taught “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life.” I believe that what he meant by that is: to arrive at the destination you must not only find the way, but walk in it to the extent that you also embody it, as he did. In dedicating his life to walking the way of Truth, he became that Way, or that bridge over troubled water that we also can become which connects us -- and others -- with the Kingdom or Promised Land.
And when might we expect that? Must we wait for some vague future time, “afterwards”? Or may we realize that we are in the Kingdom when we are fully present in this NOW moment, and the next NOW, and the next.
When your life is a pilgrimage, every step becomes a prayer, connecting you with the eternal present, the TAO of the NOW, and its ever-new joy.