Finding A Better Way

You want a better life, a smoother, easier journey. What gets in your way? What keeps you stuck when you could be flying?

Enlightenment sounds like a wonderful idea – for everybody else. Enlightenment is for people who have the time to meditate, pray, read books, go to workshops and do other spiritual stuff. But what about you? You have obligations – a family, kids, a job, a partner, your siblings, your folks, soccer practice, shopping – the list of obligations goes on and on. But that’s not the real reason. That’s just what you tell yourself.

The myth is that the spiritual path is something other than daily life. When you hold that myth it gives you the freedom to sidestep things you’d really rather not address, and that you’ve been avoiding for years, like “Loving Everyone,” for example.

Maybe you’re still angry at your folks or a former partner, pissed at your kids, or a friend who betrayed you, your former boss, Republicans, or any one of a hundred other things. . . . But if you look at it carefully, they’re not really the problem, they’re just symptoms. Sure you don’t like what they do or what they did, but you can still love them for their humanity. So what’s the problem?

In your present state, loving those people means being vulnerable. It leaves you too open to people who can or will hurt you (again). But those feelings turn upon whether or not you can be hurt. Now, you can certainly feel hurt, your emotions can get all bent out of shape, and yes, you won’t like it. But can you really be harmed? Remember the children’s taunt, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me?” Somewhere along the path from second grade, something changed. Where was that?

Kids don’t really care much what other kids think. But when they hit about 10 or 12, all that changes. In the teen and pre-teen years kids turn into zombies – dressing alike, thinking alike, and becoming enormously susceptible to group think; or they rebel, and then conform to rebel values. So at a very vulnerable and impressionable time, what others think and feel – group acceptance – becomes a really big deal.

And although we grow up, we don’t completely loose that instinct. Walk down the Embarcadero or Wall Street and you can hardly tell the “suits” apart. Consider the dress codes of Harley guys, cowboys, blue collar workers, rednecks, office workers, gym rats, new agers – all have standards of behavior and commonly held beliefs, that come out of the herd mentality established in the teen years.

We all want to be liked. But needing be liked is a different matter altogether. Being accepted is something most people will sacrifice their individuality for in order to have a relationship or fit with a group so as to not feel alone. What others think or feel, regardless of what we say about it, still has the power to hurt us. It affects how open and vulnerable we are willing to be. It speaks to how solidly we are grounded in our own beliefs.

So, when I say, “Love everyone,” we can do that more easily for people we don’t know. And we can do it (mostly) for people we feel safe with. But woe upon those we don’t totally trust and who are close enough to “hurt” us!

Now there was a time when you could be hurt. As a child if the adults in your world didn’t love you, you could die! Infants in orphanages that are not held or rocked, simply die. That may sound extreme, but to a child, survival depends on externals, it is primal. The child intuitively knows that if her parents were to withdraw their love, she’d be toast!

Today, you can take care of yourself. But if your inner one wasn’t allowed to develop and individuate herself, her childhood dependency never ended. And that’s why so many people in our world feel vulnerable!

Today, you cannot be harmed. No one can hurt you without your permission. But you’re inner one doesn’t know that. And that’s the rub. Without you realizing it, she gives them permission.

Now, you can choose to ignore what’s going on and just go through your days as though nothing was happening. But that has a price. It’s called stress. We are coming to realize that a prolonged period of stress can produce exactly the same physical and psychological reactions as PTSD does to combat soldiers.

Daily life, with all it’s bumps and bruises is your spiritual path. The stuff you do to withhold, to shut down, to create distance between yourself and other people is the very stuff you need to work on in order to come home. It’s not monks in robes, or bells, or candles, or chants and mantras. Daily life IS your spiritual path. It may not always be pretty, but it’s real.

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