Leave Everything You Have Behind
Falling inward, looking at your deepest self, is not an easy task.
It is one that is often pushed off for another day by most people, especially men. Looking at your darkness and your shadow self is excruciating. To accept that it is not someone out there causing your suffering, but it is something within you, is no simple journey.
We are all seeking the same thing but go about it in different ways.
The fundamentalist looks for absolute truth.
The liberal looks for something authentic, original, and “real.”
Seekers look for a Being that they can rely on and who never fails them.
The humanist looks for it in status and possessions.
As the mystics put it, we all are in search of an immortal diamond. A “thing” to attach to that is completely, and entirely reliable. That makes sense of who we are and what we are about.
The problem is that what we seek is within us, so our chasing it will only lead to confusion and frustration.
The key is to leave all of your notions, beliefs, understandings, fears, worries, doubts, joys, sufferings and loves behind and to step into the scary unknown that accompanies any meaningful spiritual journey.
David Whyte, the mystic poet, sums it up far greater than I could ever hope to here:
“In this high place
it is as simple as this,
Leave everything you know behind.
Step toward the cold surface,
say the old prayer of rough love
and open both arms.
Those who come with empty hands
will stare into the lake astonished,
there, in the cold light
reflecting pure snow,
the true shape of your own face.”
For me, the problem has been a heavy reliance on my problem solving brain. I want to conceptualize the ideal God form so that I can stand on Its ground and shout that all other understandings are false.
This need to be morally correct has been the downfall of my journey. I needed security in the “right” understanding of the most progressive tribe. My brain couldn’t handle the apparent paradoxes of the spiritual life.
Until I came across the perennial tradition, which states that there is truth in all traditions. To someone who grew up protestant, this felt like blasphemy.
What do you mean Buddhist thinking and Christian understanding could coincide? How could both be right?
I just couldn’t pull myself out of the dualistic belief that for one path to be right the other had to be wrong. Although this understanding may be necessary early on, if it is continued into adulthood it will only create unhappy, moralists fighting over who is right.
This is why I believe Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the purest forms of spirituality we have in Western Culture. At its essence, it is complete humility and honesty. It believes in a Higher Power, but stays out of the dogmatic food-fight of “rightness.”
Its members must be surrender completely to this higher power, but also must be held accountable to the greater community. No wonder we see more true transformations happen over bad coffee at AA meetings than we do over craft coffee at the new, hip local church.
To be transformed is an experience of dying to your small self, while simultaneously trusting that Something Bigger will bridge the gap to your true self.
The journey of falling inward and dying to your ego is so evident in the teachings of the Buddha and Jesus. I just missed it while I was trying to find the perfect “group” to belong to.
It is much easier to belong to a group than to belong to God.
To belong to God, you must leave everything you have, even your notion of tribe, to follow the Oneness of the Divine in all things.
Some call this Spirit. Others True Self. Still some Source.
I like the metaphor of a flowing River.
Whatever you call it, it all is leading to the same thing. That the experience of the Higher Power is meant to happen here and now. It is profoundly inclusive and genuinely unitive.
It starts with love (Gen. 1), not sin (Gen 3).
I’m done waiting. I’m ready to leave everything I believed behind. I’m determined to walk out into the great Unknown with my hands wide open with the belief that transformation will happen, it just won’t look like what I could ever have imagined.
According to the greatest seers and prophets, this is the only path. Down, down, and In. That is where I will find the Immortal Diamond.
That is where I will locate the Love and Peace that is overflowing.
I know it will be hard, but I’m ready.
Let’s Fall Inward, Shall We
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