Every now and then life twists and turns with all the grace of a roller coaster half off the rails. Things feel perilous, unpredictable and wobbly. And that’s just your life. Never mind the recent uptick in conflict simmering in geo-political hot spots like the Ukraine, the middle-east and riot-ridden Ferguson, Missouri.
Add to this, the astrological crunch of Mars (warrior) and its impending impact (conjunction) with Saturn (status quo) on Aug 25th and you get the recipe for a catalytic breakdown-to-breakthrough both out there, and in here.
I have been watching with interest how my inner landscape remains a muted version of the cacophony around me. Yet I have friends who are ready to jump ship—from their marriage, their careers, their homes—from anything that feels constraining, even if that jumping means swimming in waters that are completely unknown.
This urge for momentous personal change that seems to be storming through people’s psyches is more accurately an unleashed desire for transformation. What is being stoked by inner and outer chaos is the impetus to shed the old skin, leaving the dry husk of our finite identity behind for our boundless true self. Simply, the craziness around us is a call to discover the sanity inside of us.
When at age 39, I got the call the my mother had been hit by a car and killed, I was struck by two recognitions. One, that my life would change dramatically from this axis-tilting news. And two, that the change would be wrenchingly difficult but ultimately soul-saving.
Within two years of her death, I was out of my 17-year-marriage and back on the path of the seeker–a journey begun in my early twenties, but abandoned in the stale confines of a marriage I allowed to shackle my desire for truth. My mother’s death was a shock-loss that was also a catalyst for my freedom. I was gifted with the ability to see this even as it happened, even as I grieved.
When we see that everything conspires to wake us up—that events blessed and cursed are equal contributors to the story of self-remembrance—then we can stop feeling victimized and paralyzed by life events. We can stop asking, “Why is this happening to (poor) me?” Instead, we can dig deep into our soul with this new question: “Why is this happening for me?”
Because underlying that question is an assumption there is order and purpose behind all apparent chaos. Or in the lingo of A Course in Miracles, “The universe is a friendly place.”
In the last week I have heard about two friends who had terminal cancer experiencing miraculous shifts of prognosis–specifically having tumours disappear and blood counts make astounding and medically impossible recoveries.
These kinds of miracles are a part of the chaotic shaking up we are collectively experiencing. When structures begin to tumble, not only do institutions and governments topple, but also edifices of belief. It’s one big shake-down.
The fractures that happen in this soul-quaking allow for new possibilities, new paradigms and new selfhood. We are being asked to let go of the old structures right now. That includes surrendering the self we have imagined ourselves to be.
And by the way, we don’t need to kill our egos–we need to grow them up and let them expand into (and be transformed by) the Remembered Self. You can call this Remembered Self by many names: soul, Atman, no-self, One-self, Truth, true nature. The naming is irrelevant—it’s the direct recognition that matters.
So, let this chaos around you be the wave you ride rather than the wave that drowns you. See that there is a gift in the tornado–it took Dorothy to the land of Oz and chaos can take you to the land of Your True Self if you choose to engage with trust instead of hide out with fear in the cellar of your limited self.
How to engage? Be still. Go inward. Listen. Respond.
Awareness is here, at the still and vast center of all storms.
Video bonus: You know you love this one….
Feature Image: Flickr/Kristaps Bergfelds
I want to bust the Love = Happiness Myth once and for all. But don’t worry, I’m not going to just shatter a myth and leave you holding a broken hope. Instead, I’m going to hand you a whole new unbreakable goblet of Truth, one that never runs dry and eternally flows with a nectar of happiness — and hey, from this chalice you can sip or even gulp happiness, knowing it’s always going to be available and it never depends on ‘love.’
First, let’s define love so I can stop putting the darn word in quotes. There are only two kinds of love when we consider that love is a verb (not a state of being…more on that later).
1. Emotional Love: This type of love is the common one, though often it’s mistaken for a deep spiritual truth, you know “love is what we are.” (which should read as bliss is what we are.) This emotional love is personal and conditional. It’s a tit-for-tat script, where if you do or say this I will be happy, and I will say or do this so that you can be happy. (Don’t worry, I will qualify happiness too). This love is one directional: It always points to Me and Mine.
2. Devotional Love: This love is transpersonal and unconditional. It has nothing to do with “me” and mine and everything to do with “Thee and Thine” as in “Thy will is my will.” This love points to Other as Self. Devotional love can look like the passionate worship of a deity or the heartfelt gratitude for a spiritual teacher. Devotional love most often demonstrates as what appears to be selfless acts of service. There is a quote by Krishnamurti that kind of sums it up: “You know what we mean by love? (It’s) love that is not touched by pleasure, by desire, by jealously. Love that knows know competition, that does not divide as my love and your love.” That’s the gist of devotional love–it’s all encompassing and without fragmentation.
Now, let’s get back to that happiness thing. When I ask people to define what happiness means to them, they often can’t seem to describe it without implicitly contrasting it to what unhappiness is. For instance, someone might say, “I feel happy when I am healthy, wealthy, successful or in love.” Which of course implies, I am unhappy when I am unhealthy, poor, a failure or alone.
This tells me that happiness is not a state of being because unlike emotions, true states of being have no ups and downs. What most people define as happiness is absence of circumstances that displease. So happiness then is: “Positive emotions arising from pleasing circumstances.”
But if you think about it, happiness must be accompanied by unhappiness the same way night follows day and what goes up, comes down. So seeking ‘lasting happiness’ is pretty well a dead end. And seeking happiness through emotional love (with all of its conditions) is pure folly.
Yet our Western culture implores us to the “pursuit of happiness” and most often tells us we can find it through the panacea of romantic love (and yes, pleasure, wealth and power too). But it’s the love story version of happiness that most impales us when the promise fails to deliver — lets face it, we all know that fame is fleeting, power slips easily from our grasp and fortunes come and go. But love is supposedly eternal and romantic love burns the hottest when it comes to that epithet.
So if lasting happiness is impossible and romantic love the
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