I finally get it – again! Gaining spiritual wisdom is not a matter of how much time you spend with your butt on the cushion, at least not for everyone. Some may need to spend a lot of time sitting in silence, some may need to listen to spiritual talks, some commune with the natural world, and who knows what else. As they say, “There are many paths up the mountain,” or “There are many paths to God.” As one of my teachers used to say, “You can get enlightened reading a cereal box if it is your time.” Sounds right, except that puts in the same category as “Your days are numbered.” I’ve always struggled with that one. Wouldn’t it be a freeing feeling to know all the answers?! Probably not, then we’d just be hounded all the time to expound to others.
Anyhow, back to enlightenment. I don’t even know what that is, but I do know what bodily felt wisdom is, which is different than knowledge held in the mind. Is there a component of happiness or perhaps ease of being in enlightenment?
What I do know (or think I do), is that how we conduct ourselves in this life is what gives us the best chance of happiness and ease of being. The starting basic we all know is not to do harm to others, or life in general. Many think it is all about doing “good” for others. Loving-kindness is certainly an ingratiating trait, and sometimes doing “good” for others is not having the effect you imagine.
What I believe from my experience, and that of many people I have worked with, is that being kind and loving to yourself is the first step to finding happiness and ease-of-being. That does not mean you cannot be that to others at the same time, but as another old saying goes, “You cannot love another any more than you love yourself.” Also if you are not kind, patient, forgiving, compassionate and loving of who you are, who you were, and who you are becoming, then any of that you attempt to bestow upon another will only go so far. You will not be able to get clean water from a 10 foot well, nor will you continue to get water from it during the dry season. Rather, a deep well continues to pour forth water through all kinds of ups and downs, and the more “love” it filters through on the way out, the more clear it is.
My dear mother thinks self-love is selfish. She taught me to put others above myself. I did for years, then rebelled and did the opposite. Both were harmful. It took me a long time and a lot of inner work to understand the truth. In her world I could explain it like this: I am made in the image and likeness of God, so it would be blasphemy not to love and care for myself.
In my world I would say that I am an individual expression of Divine Spirit in this body and I am here to evolve, giving and receiving love. As part of the whole, the more I evolve the more I contribute to the evolvement of the whole. Peace on the planet?
I want to be happy, don’t we all? Many don’t believe it is possible; many believe it’s only possible through escape and avoidance. Some religions say it is not about happiness. Several years ago I gave up on happiness and figured that if I could get to some kind of acceptance of myself, who I am and what I have as okay, that would be as good as it gets. Guess what? I learned that by letting go of what is not, accepting what is, and learning to have some semblance of self-compassion, my life slowly began to shift. My old friend, Depression, became scarce. I began to see more possibilities. Mind you this was a slow process because I did not seem to be able to stay focused, and I was an intelligent, yet confused, damaged woman.
At age 57 I am beginning to feel happiness creep into my life more and more often. Ease of being is here more now that I have found real compassion for who I used to be. I am realizing my spiritual wisdom, not needing to try to hold onto knowledge and information so tightly. And as a result of this, I am indeed becoming a more kind, caring person. I always was, but it only ran so deep. Now I find myself filled with love more than just in spurts and rare moments of vision.
Am I enlightened? Again, I don’t know what that is, but I’d still say, “Hell no.” Have I reached some kind of nirvana? No. However, I have given up trying to do “good.” Who is to say what is good and what is bad? I am more kind, spacious, intuitive, and present. I feel part of the huge shift of evolvement happening on the planet. I allow Divine Spirit to work through me, I want to say “no holds barred,” but I think I’ll have to say, “to the best of my ability.”
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I am deeply grateful to be able to share this with you and pray/intend that it will be of some benefit or inspiration to you or someone you love.
All photos by Carolyn Ringo
Frog sculpture by Dave Sime