“The menu is not the meal.”
“The human condition: lost in thought.”
In my last column I promised to share my final five thoughts about spiritual maturity.
- You are not alone. That is an illusion.As I type these words it is late. It is dark outside my office. I am physically alone. I am the only one here. And despite this knowledge, I feel spiritually connected with all that exists. If I choose, I can get quiet and slowly sink into an awareness of both realities simultaneously. We are all connected. We can feel isolated and disconnected. Our thoughts will insist this is our only truth. We can feel like a separate fragment of reality, instead of a unique expression of the unitary wholeness of existence. Which is true? Sometimes our experience is the result of the story that we tell ourselves about our experience. Are these words true? Are they helpful? Many of us feel lost and alone at sometime in our lives. We might feel abandoned or forsaken. When we act on the belief that we are alone and uncared for, life seems to confirm this. When we act on the conviction that we are deeply loved and valued, that positive expectation can help create a different energy within and around us. And we might find that others respond positively to that energy, affirming the truth of our being.When we cease identifying with thoughts, that which maintains the false structure of separation, a deeper awareness becomes possible. It is as if we are icebergs silently connected beneath the surface of the ocean. Above the surface we find separation, division, disharmony and conflict but deep within us, beyond conceptualized thought, another reality exists, a spacious awareness that restfully knows all is well.
- You have all you need. Believe in the abundance, not the scarcity of supply.Since everything about the physical universe is subject to change and will eventually pass, it is nothing but a dream. Every dream needs a dreamer. The dream isn’t real but the dreamer is. We are all dreamers. We don’t realize we are choosing how we see this. It is what we decide it is. How you respond to these words is a choice. Sometimes we think, “yes.” Sometimes we think, “no.” And that is how we create our reality. We build it with our minds. Our lives are an ongoing construction project. What did you build today? What are you creating right now with the carpentry of your imagination? Our journey here is a brief flash in the infinite night sky of eternity. When we identify with, create or imagine separation, scarcity, limitation and loss, we feel cut off, hopeless and afraid. When we identify with, create or imagine unity, abundance, generosity and love, we imbue this dream with the essential, necessary elements that reflect what is deeply true. How can we not have all we need when we are intimately connected with all that is?
- You are special and you have a special purpose. Trust in this.Special is an interesting word. It comes from the comparative mind. To know special is to know “not special.” When we say something or someone is special, we can ask, compared to what? The implication is that some of us are special and some of us aren’t. But what if each of us was special? Is that possible? Each of us possesses a special gift, a divine spark of spiritual energy we call life or awareness. But we don’thave a life, we are life. Life is us. All of us. Eckhart Tolle writes that we all share the “One Life, the one consciousness that pervades the entire universe and takes temporary form to experience itself as a stone or a blade of grass, as an animal, a person, a star or a galaxy.” Everything is special, wondrous and exceptional and everyone has a unique purpose, a particular reason they exist at this moment in this place. Behind our false ego, beyond our personality, deeper than our thinking mind is the true self. Just as every dream needs a dreamer, every character on the stage needs an actor who “plays” (pretends to be) the role. Each of us is important. Each of us is vital. Each of us matters. Each of us has a role to play. Not knowing or believing this does not make it less true.
- Everything teaches but not everyone learns.I’ve written about this before. Clues to the mystery surround us. If we aren’t looking for the answers or open to the wisdom, we might miss it. If we don’t trust in ourselves and the generosity of the universe, we can get lost or fall asleep or hide from our own self calling. If we decide we are an ordinary person in an ordinary world, the colors will find someone else to love them. When we expect to be amazed, we are. When we stop, look and listen, we can find our peculiar, delicious truth. Tolle suggests we learn from the natural world. He writes, “Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it. How still they are, how deeply rooted in Being. Allow nature to teach you stillness. When you look at a tree and perceive its stillness, you become still yourself. You connect with it at a very deep level. You feel a oneness with whatever you perceive in and through stillness. Feeling the oneness of yourself with all things is true love.”
- Love is alive. Love is moving. Love, the changeless one, is moving and growing within that which changes. Identify with this essential truth, that love is alive and active in your every breath, your every thought, your every moment. This is true.
We all want to be loved. And we understand that we must love if we are to be loved. We sometimes confine our ideas of love to our experience of love. I love my wife. I love my daughters. I love my dog. I love my job. I love pizza. What is this thing we call love? Our thinking minds have no idea what love is. It is too deep, too immense, too eternal for any thought to know or understand. There are no words that capture it or convey it fully. It is our essence. It is the precious bond that glues families together across our planet. Life is meaningless without it. Just as we are life, we are love. Tolle writes, “When you look upon another human being and feel great love toward them, or when you contemplate beauty in nature and something within you responds deeply to it, close your eyes for a moment and feel the essence of that love or that beauty within you, inseparable from who you are, your true nature. The outer form is a temporary reflection of what you are within, in your essence. That is why love and beauty can never leave you, although all outer forms will.”
We can chase love as if it is an elusive creature and once we feel we have it, we can lock it in a cage. We can live in fear of losing it. We can do that. Or we can stop chasing and caging our love and instead radically accept that we are love. And being love, we can pause and sense it inside us, like our breath and our beating heart, pulsing and dancing to some marvelous, mystical rhythms we don’t need to understand. Mary Oliver wrote, “Look I want to love this world as though it’s the last chance I’m going to get to be alive and know it.”
Here it is. This is it. Wake up and see it now. Stretched out before you, the banquet of your life with all its blessings and sorrows. Love them all like orphaned children who only you can save. Delight in these moments of living that pass so quickly from our fading sight. Don’t waste this fleeting flow on fretting and fear when the miracle of your life awaits you like an unopened gift. Savor it slowly. Now.